There is value in humanism. The move away from God as an explanation for everything was a necessary step. However, the complacency that came with such a move – and rightly feared by Christianity – is that human beings will take their false sense of superiority to mean their rights over the rights of other things and beings.
My version of neohumanism (not the Sarkar-kind) calls for humility in the face of our understanding of our place in the universe, namely, we are but one of the many lifeforms on this planet and beyond, that there is nothing special about the human being as an animal.
Consider the following definitions from the LDOCE 6th.
reason – the ability to think, understand, and form judgments that are based on facts
logic – 1) a way of thinking about something that seems correct and reasonable, or a set of sensible reasons for doing something; 2) a formal method of reasoning, in which ideas are based on previous ideas
The problem seems to start with fact and idea in the two respective definitions.
From the LDOCE again, a fact is a piece of information that is known to be true. What does “to know” mean? Can we know something or anything without experiencing it? And if something that is true now will it be true in the future, or was it true in the past? And is there something, anything, that is eternally true?
And an idea is a general understanding of something, based on some knowledge about it. Can our understanding of things or knowledge of it be based on anything other than learning (reading and study) or experience?
If we are to base truth on information, ideas, reason, and logic alone then we will forever be trapped in the mind. By interacting with reality through rationality we fully engage with what is there. Rationality alone will take a being towards insanity (being unable to interact in the reality) . A balance between our physical and mental capacities is necessary.
There are things.
By “there are” I mean without understanding the nature of reality. That I encounter it whatever it may be. I simply do not know, at least at this point. This is how we encounter the world, also called the physical reality, or just reality.
A thing is there. It is there for you and me. The qualities of the thing is that it agrees with it is being there. Suppose that thing is a tennis ball. Suppose we know the rules of tennis, and we have all the necessary equipment and conditions to play a game of tennis, and know how to play the game from experience. As we play we understand how the ball will react in the world. The agreement makes for an enjoyable game for the both of us. The relationship of the ball between you and me, the space, response from the ball struck against the racquet face conforms more or less according to my skills. It is evidence of my knowledge of it as an object, and of how I may manipulate it in the greater world at large.
Again, I must point out, what I encounter are things, not space, and not time. This point must be made clear. You cannot sense space and touch space directly. You can only infer it from things. This is true of time also. What we can know of space and time comes necessarily from things. I infer from things the space. And I infer from the relationship of things in space, time.
It should be pointed out also, the existence of things necessarily infers the existence of space and time. Things, space, and time exist as one, as the entirety of the world. To use Hume’s words, it is visible and tangible. A game of tennis should be enough proof for the consistency of the world.
Timelessness has no basis except in the mind. Objects are easier to deal with if they are like a sitting duck. And often this way of handling objects lead to errors in judgement as time progresses. Something that is thought of as static, unchanging, eventually will change noticeably enough so as to shock the judge back into reality and out of her or his uncomfortable habitual mistake.
Which type of “sweater” are you?
No, I am not talking about round necks and V-necks. I am talking about when it comes to souls there are the religious-type and philosophical-type.
Religious-types sweat when they hear someone say there is no soul. In fact, there is no single word for this except soulless, but that do not mean without soul, but without passion. Actually, the only religion that explicit says there is no soul is Buddhism. But neither do they panic when they hear people talk about souls.
Philosophical-types also sweat when they hear this. They often equate soul or spirit with mind. But like the religious-type not all of them sweat. Only a certain type – the idealists and rationalists – who have trouble explaining the mind. Gilbert Rule called this a belief in the ghost in the machine. Particularly, if one claims to be a materialist, physicalist, or empiricist one gets looks of incredulity.
The struggle then has always been how one can explain a being works without a soul and/or mind. But why sweat when either way the being has continued to work, live and survive. In other words, don’t panic, take off that sweater, wear a T-shirt, and carry on. Life continues no matter what.
I reject anthropocentrism only in a way an anthropoid can. What choice do I have.
No matter what (pun intended) an object is an object. Be this a single atom, a group of atoms, a non-sentient cluster, a sentient cluster, or any other way an object can be.
I am not even talking qualities, but only existence or being. Unobserved, objects are just objects. The world (or reality) is just is, or simply, the world is.
I am not promoting anthropocentrism. But any differentiation discerned is done by a sentient (in the “sense” sense; again pun intended) object. We should neither privilege nor disparage it, because an object is an object is an object. I would be more than happy to let a rock philosophise. And I am sure a rock couldn’t care less that I can philosophise either. So let it be and let us get on with philosophy.