martes, 6 de noviembre de 2012

On Free Will, Nominalism and Totalitarianism


The modern notion of free will is a nominalist one. It redefine free will in physicalist terms, when it ever was a realist question of whether I have moral judgement between good and evil and either if I can choose between them. The nominalism was originally created to preserve the omnipotence of God beyond good and evil, that is, without limitations of any philosophical, absolute concept, Good and Evil included. No surprise, the answer of nominalism to the realist question was "no", because all is ordered directly by God, in the way of the orthodox islamic theology, from which the Nominalism was inspired. That´s the reason behind which Calvino came to the doctrine of predestination.

Therefore, for the nominalist, the world of God in the Bible not the informed philosophical reasoning determines the meaning of Good and Evil. Instead the realists, like Saint Thomas Aquinas saw in all the Creation a second revelation, the Natural Revelation, that, being created by a perfect God, should have no contradictions so this second revelation could be readed with an educated intellect. So the Catholic church adopted the philosophical tradition (that embraced science) as part of the Natural Revelation.

What prevented the protestant countries from falling to a fully totalitarian life under the foot of iluminated leaders, shielded from intellectual challeges by nominalism, in the style of the islamic countries, was the message of love of the New Testament. God love us, therefore has created for us an understandable world that is made for us. Therefore we can understand it by means of science.  Equally determinant were the internal sectarian wars that ended in neutral political states with no denomination, that is, separation of church and State.

Also, the notion the Bible as the unique source of higher  moral permitted to think that good evil and moral were knowable by each individual soul by freely interpreting the bible. This was an invitation to mass literacy, but also to the creation of sects. But the message of the New Testament vanished in the Modernity, and the people were without moral guide.

The right way to handle these unsupported concepts in the nominalist tradition was to get rid of them. Of course, in the modern, secularized version of Nominalism, called Positivism, good, evil morals etc have no meaning. So that´s why concepts like free will were reduced to physicalist terms. The problem is that these redefinitions, like the one of free will, in terms of physical laws are almost meaningless and no doubt, self contradictory. 

Other concepts, like good, evil, morals etc, that could not be reduced, were relegated to a individual irrational sphere. Because these irreducible concepts were involved in the most fundamental questions for practical life, and these concepts were denied to rational discussion, they were delegated to demagogues, revolutionaries, and various kinds of saviors of countries and planets. This is the era of the false dichotomy between is and ought.

The result in the political sphere were the never ending waves of totalitarianisms within Modernity. But these waves of secular religions are the direct continuation of the waves of sectarian, protestant, nominalist religious movements that, like the modern secular ones, reduced the most important questions to individuality, sectarianism, irrationality and faith. 

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