Wednesday, May 9, 2018

NCR on Five Proofs


At National Catholic Register, Clare Walker kindly reviews my book Five Proofs of the Existence of God.  From the review:

Professor Edward Feser has a rare gift: the ability to make esoteric philosophical arguments accessible to lay readers. With charm and wit, Feser summarizes five arguments for the existence of God, based on Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Aquinas and Leibniz.

Don’t be intimidated.  Feser swept me along on the gentle current of his explanation, and I found myself understanding, for the first time in my life, various “-isms” of philosophy that in my younger years completely confused me…

For those who crave a rational basis for their faith, or want to demonstrate to their intellectual detractors that faith in God is rational, reasonable and well-founded, this book is perfect.

12 comments:

  1. Timothy D FinlayMay 9, 2018 at 7:30 PM

    I completely agree with Clare. Your discussion of prism, schism and metabolism were profound and poetic.

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    1. I recall an analogy to a prism...but I am drawing a blank in regards to any discussion of "schism" or "metabolism" in the book??

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    2. Timothy D FinlayMay 10, 2018 at 12:49 PM

      It was a joke, Tritium. The "isms" Clare referred to were obviously to philosophical ideas such as nominalism, realism, conceptualism, classical theism, theistic personalism etc. I chose words than end in "ism" but that had nothing to do with philosophical ideas as a joke.

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  2. After reading this and similar works, I believe I have discovered the ultimate proof of God’s non-existence: the New Atheists themselves. What kind of God would allow this to go on?

    Refute *that*, Dr. Feser.

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    1. Ah, but God has already begun to draw greater good from that, such as Feser's book.

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  3. Just finished the book... first class, answered many questions that had been niggling at the back of my mind.

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  4. An observation: a number of these reviews are from seemingly intelligent people, mostly Catholics I assume, who don't appear to have a great philosophical background. This is mildly disappointing - of course it's good that non-philosophers should read and feel enthused by Ed's work but it should be treated as a serious philosophical work by serious philosophers and not relegated to the realm of pop-Catholic apologetics.

    The 'isms' of philosophy is equivalent to the 'ons' of particle physics, yet I suspect one would have face harsher censure if one admitted ignorance or worse disinterest in the 'ons' than the 'isms',

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    1. This is a fair observation. I imagine many readers gave the book two thumbs up without understanding it well enough to know if the arguments were any good. Similar to how readers of, say, Dawkins, give it two thumbs up without even realizing how shoddy it is. So, you are right in that non-experts will champion books they like without full understanding.

      I hope that A. These readers will dig deeper and try to understand the philosophy better and B. Serious scholars will review Ed's book. Have any of the people on the right hand side of this blog (Davies, Oderberg etc.) reviewed this?

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  5. I tried once to strengthen the Godel proof by the Compactness Theorem, the finite to the infinite. The simplest use of the Compactness Theorem is to show that if there exist arbitrarily large finite objects of some type, then there must also be an infinite object of this type.] The idea if applied to God means that he has infinite perfections.


    This would defend Anselm and Godel from critics. Also I recall I used an idea from Anscombe about compatibility of positive traits. [I do not recall the source where I had seen that.]


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    1. It was Leibniz who first gave the argument about positive properties I believe (though he got it from something Scotus said).

      I think it a crying shame Godel's proof is not known of in popular culture in the same way, say, the Incompleteness Theorem is.

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    2. I think I saw something like that about Leibniz and Kelley Ross also mentions that existence is a predicate. Never the less these were all steps leading u to Godel.

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  6. For those who enjoyed "Five Proofs" and are already quite used to analytic philosophy, try Alex Pruss and Josh Rasmussen's book "Necessary Existence". It's also great and has just been released. They defend many different arguments, including one similar to the Augustinian proof ("from necessary abstracta to necessary concreta")

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