The Problem of Evil and the Problem of Intelligibility : A Grammatical Metacritique of the Problem of Evil

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http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-6518-3
Title: The Problem of Evil and the Problem of Intelligibility : A Grammatical Metacritique of the Problem of Evil
Author: Snellman, Lauri
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology
Doctoral Programme in Theology and Religous Studies
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020-10-02
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-6518-3
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/318648
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (monograph)
Abstract: The problem of evil is usually understood to concern the existence of God in a world, where there is evil. In fact, the problem of evil and the problem of intelligibility are closely linked together. The problem of evil is the question: does God exist and can there be intelligibility and meaning in the world that allows for moral action if there is evil? The problem of intelligibility is a family resemblance of questions concerning the relationship of rational thought and the world: is there a rational order in the world, how are concepts possible, and how do they link with the world? The core of the work is to develop a philosophical grammar for examining the conceptual links between the problem of evil and the problem of meaning, and using the grammar of these links to dissolve the problem of evil with a grammatical metacritique. The investigation proceeds through four main research questions: 1. What are the general logic and the presuppositions of the problem of evil? 2. How can the problem of evil be called into question and how can one develop grammatical methods and philosophical tools to build a successful antitheodicy? 3. How can one develop a grammatical metacritique of the presuppositions of the problem through a philosophical grammar of the underlying language/world and being/meaning-links? 4. How can the grammatical approach to metaphysical questions and to the metacritique of the presuppositions of the problem of evil be used to analyse religious and worldview questions, and articulate ways of existential, humanistic and religious sense-making that overcome the problem? The method used in the work is the systematic analysis of religious views and philosophical arguments. I develop a method of philosophical grammar or relational metacriticism to approach philosophical problems. Philosophical grammar involves investigating the meaning of an expression by locating it in relationships of use, and relational metacriticism develops an overview of a phenomenon by charting its underlying relationships. The problem of evil is at bottom an existential one: how can the world have meaning and how is moral action possible, if there is pointless evil without morally sufficient reasons? The problem of evil is then associated with theodicism: God or the meaning of the world exists only, if all evils have (morally) sufficient reasons. The problem has four key presuppositions: the fact/meaning, fact/value and appearance/reality conceptual gaps and the Principle of Sufficient Reason. The problem arises, when one tries to unify facts with meanings and values by appealing to God or some Arche that establishes a system of sufficient reasons. The appearances of evil present an anomaly or a problem to such attempts to locate meaningfulness and intelligibility in the world. The theodicy debate in the philosophy of religion is just a special case of the general problem, as J. L. Mackie’s, Alvin Plantinga’s and William Rowe’s classic articles work with the Leibnizian problematic of God’s metaphysically constrained choices for the best vs pointless evils. Antitheodicies can be divided into moral and conceptual ones. A conceptual antitheodicy attempts to dissolve the conceptual presuppositions of the problem of evil. A moral antitheodicy extends the rejection of the world order to the activity of issuing reasons itself. I argue that moral antitheodicies cannot stand on their own and end up in question-begging and secularist moralism if they are not supported with other arguments, because the moral rejection of the practice of giving reasons for evil presupposes that there are no such reasons and ends up as groundless moralizing if there are. Therefore only conceptual antitheodicies can work. There are three traditions of conceptual antitheodicy: Kantian, Jamesian and Hamannian antitheodicies. Kantian antitheodicies argue that theodicism oversteps the limits of moral and theoretical human reason. Jamesian antitheodicies emphasize that God and the world order must be reinterpreted in terms of practical and moral action and from a pluralist perspective that can account for experience and moral effort. Hamannian antitheodicies hold that the dualisms and the rationalisms underlying theodicy debate are speculative metaphysics that can be overcome through philosophical grammar. I then argue that Hamannian antitheodicies can be used as metatheories for Kantian and Jamesian ones, because they allow for the critique of reason as a critique of language and avoid the residual dualisms in Kant’s account, and the grammar of language use and religious stories allows for incorporating James’ appeal to practical meanings and to a God who defeats evil. Philosophical grammar gives a ground for examining the presuppositions of theodicy. It examines the use of language by describing the rules of language-games and the relationships underlying them. It also describes the logic of our language by describing conceptual connections in language use and locates abstract concepts like the categories of being in linguistic and communicative relationships. The grammatical approach then investigates the necessary conditions of linguistic relationships to expose unfounded abstractions in metaphysics like dualisms. Language-games are categories in the metaphysical sense. They constitute the structure of uses of language for describing objects and thus give a foundation for ontological classifications and describing objects in terms of abstract concepts. The grammatical method of relational metacriticism then offers a ground for criticizing the metaphysical presuppositions of theodicy, because they cannot go against language use or its necessary conditions. Facts and meanings cannot be separated, because states of affairs and objects are identified by interpreting them against the background of a language-game and its underlying system. The identification of objects requires both a grid of coordinates or a logical space for facts, and narrative principles of continuity that reveal its causal, social and other functional roles in its contexts. Then the narratively identified logic of functioning in a context or system is intertwined with the facts: the functions and stories are realized through the facts, and the facts get a role in the interaction of objects and contexts by having a role in functions and stories. Thus facts and meanings are intertwined, and facts are also seen-as objects by using narratives to identify objects in and through the facts. The Principle of Sufficient Reason forms the link between the problems of evil and meaning. The problem of evil searches moral meaning in morally sufficient reasons or purposes and questions whether being = right or moral reason, as the metaphysical foundations debate questions whether being = reason by investigating the applicability of categories and the existence of rational grounds in reality. However, there is no need to account for the meaning of the world in terms of sufficient reasons for facts, because the fact/meaning split is itself groundless. Moreover, the Principle is inherently ambiguous. The concept of a reason makes sense only against the background of a language-game, and there are systems that have structures that do not amount to sufficient reasons. There are many kinds of sufficient reasons, like logical, moral and causal ones, and distinctions between them prevent running them all together by invoking the PSR. Moreover, the concept of being, and the various essences and logical spaces for being are located in language-games, their underlying systems and the language/world-encounter. Therefore one cannot identify reality itself with rational conceptual structures, because reality and encounter with it is prior to conceptual structures, and conceptual necessity depends on linguistic practices. The concept of a virtue overcomes the fact/value gap. If the concept of good is associated with virtuous practices for moving from an evil present situation into a situation fulfilling the telos, then virtuous habits for realizing human nature intertwine facts and values. Virtues and other humanistic meanings are realized through actions in a context, and the actions are then shaped and chosen by reference to the virtues, human practices and the goods the virtues are used to pursue. Moreover, the world cannot be determined by Arches and sufficient reasons if the grammar of virtues is to work, because they collapse the distinction between the actual world and the possible telos. The grammar of salvation in religions of the sick soul is isomorphic to the grammar of virtues as well: God or the Way are said to be good, because they rescue from the evil situation into a state where the telos is reached. Moreover, such descriptions of religious stories and practices give the use of the word “God” and thus the categories for describing Him and his properties, like goodness and omnipotence. Then one can formulate a consistency proof by using the idea of God as a chessmaster. God is good because He wins when the world succeeds, and He is omnipotent because He has a winning strategy to defeat evil, and both can hold even if the world includes pointless and horrendous evils. Keywords: theodicy; antitheodicy; metacriticism; dualism; meaning; language-games; metaphysics; philosophy of language; philosophy of religion, facts and meanings; facts and values; principle of sufficient reasonPahan ongelma koskee maailman yleistä ymmärrettävyyttä ja mielekkyyttä. Miten maailmassa voi olla merkitys ja miten elämä voi olla mielekästä, jos maailmassa on paljon pahaa? Uskonnollinen pahan ongelma on pahan ongelman erityistapaus: voiko Jumala olla olemassa, jos maailmassa on paljon tarkoituksettomalta vaikuttavaa pahaa? Susan Neiman on osoittanut, että pahan ongelma liittyy ymmärrettävyyden ongelmaan. Ymmärrettävyyden ongelman muodostaa kysymys: onko maailmassa rationaalinen järjestys? Miten ihmisajattelun abstraktit käsitteet voivat soveltua maailman konkreettisiin ja kokemuksella tunnettaviin olioihin? Pahan ongelma taas kysyy, onko kaikella tarkoitus tai moraalinen oikeutus? Kummankin kysymyksen taustalla on riittävän syyn periaate: olevan muodostaa rationaalinen järjestys, tai kaikella on selitys. Pahan ongelma muodostuu platonismin ja modernin maailmankuvan taustaa vasten. Maailman tosiasiat ja merkitykset, ja myös tosiasiat ja arvot käsitetään vastakkaisiksi. Ne sitten yritetään yhdistää vetoamalla riittävän syyn periaatteeseen. Maailmalla on alkusyy, joka takaa rationaalisen järjestyksen ja sen, että kaikella on tarkoitus. Pahan olemassaolo sitten kyseenalaistaa nämä selitysmallit, jolloin maailman mielekkyys uhkaa murtua. Pahan ongelma osoittautuu näennäisongelmaksi, kun sitä lähestytään J. G. Hamannilta ja Ludwig Wittgensteinilta periytyvän filosofisen kieliopin keinoin. Kielioppi purkaa fakta/merkitys ja fakta/arvo-kahtiajaot selvittämällä merkityksellisyyden taustana olevia kielenkäytön muotoja. Ilmaukset ovat merkityksellisiä vain kielipeleissä eli toimintamuodoissa, jotka kietovat yhteen kielenkäytön ja maailman. Vastaavasti abstraktit periaatteet kuten ”kaikella on tarkoitus” ovat merkityksellisiä tarjoamalla yleiskuvan kielenkäytöstä ja sen konteksteista. Kielipelien perustana olevat suhteet taas verkottavat faktat, merkitykset ja arvot keskenään. Kieliopillinen pahan ongelman kritiikki myös pystyy ottamaan huomioon jamesilaisista ja kantilaisista kritiikeistä nousevia näkökohtia ja tarjoamaan niille laajemman viitekehyksen. Riittävän syyn periaate koskee olevan luonnetta. C.S. Peirce ja Jaakko Hintikka ovat kehittäneet kielipelejä selvittämään käsitettä ”on olemassa”. Hamann ja Peirce ovat myös kehittäneet malleja faktojen, sääntöjen ja merkitysten yhteen kietoutumiselle. Ilmaukseen ”on olemassa” liittyvien kielipelien tarkastelu haastaa faktojen ja merkitysten eron. Tunnistaminen edellyttää olioon liittyvien faktojen näkemistä oliona omaa asiayhteyttään vasten. Tällöin faktat tulevat merkityksellisiksi olioiden tunnistamisen ja kielipelin taustana olevien asiayhteyksien nojalla. Vastaavasti riittävän syyn periaatteen vahvat muodot kuten ”järkiperusteet muodostavat olevan” epäonnistuvat, koska ilmauksia kuten ”olla olemassa” käytetään monissa eri kielipeleissä. Kohtaamme todellisuuden kielipeleissä, joten käsite- tai selitysjärjestelmiä ei voi näin samaistaa olevaan. Myös fakta/arvo-erottelu ja uskonnollinen pahan ongelma romahtavat. Hyveet ovat käytäntöjä, jolla olennot tavoittelevat hyvää elämää. Ne antavat teoille ja muille faktoille moraalisen merkityksen, kun ne kytkevät teot hyvään suuntautuneeseen käytäntöön. Hyveiden käsite rinnastuu myös pelastuksen käsitteeseen: Pyhä auttaa irti pahasta nykytilanteesta ja saavuttamaan hyvän elämän. Tämä pyhän ja pelastuksen käsitteiden tausta nousee esiin evankeliumeissa ja Jobin kirjassa: Jumala voittaa pahan ja pystyy takaamaan hyvän. Jumalan hyvyyden ja kaikkivaltiuden käsitteet on siis mahdollista tulkita uskontojen kertomuksia vasten, jolloin muodostuu looginen ristiriidattomuustodistus. Maailmassa oleva paha ei ole ristiriidassa Jumalan olemassaolon kanssa, koska Jumala tähtää kohti hyvää (hyvyys) ja pystyy voittamaan pahan (kaikkivaltius).
Subject: Teologia, Uskonnonfilosofia
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