Saturday, February 13, 2010

Presuppositionalism is systematic self-consciousness

Thomas Nagel is one of the leading philosophers of his generation. He is also an atheist. Yet unlike Dawkins, Nagel is an intellectually dissatisfied atheist.

Here is his evaluation of what he calls “affectless atheism” or “hardheaded atheism.” What’s striking to me is the way in which his description of philosophy dovetails with Van Tilian apologetics, for what he says of philosophy could just as well be said of presuppositionalism: The most systematic form of self-consciousness:

“It [hardhead atheism] is a seductive position, and I do not doubt that many people find it comfortable, as well as intellectually resistible. To me, it has always seemed an evasion. It requires that we leave the largest question unanswered–in fact, that we lave it unasked, because there is no such question. But there is: It is the question ‘What am I doing here?’ and it doesn’t go away when science replaces the religious worldview,” T. Nagel, Secular Philosophy and the Religions Temperament (Oxford 2010), 8.

“The question results from one of those steppings back that constitute the essence of philosophy. We find the familiar unfamiliar by reflecting on features of our situation, or forms of thought and action, so central and pervasive that we are ordinarily submerged in them without paying any notice. Philosophy in general is the most systematic form of self-consciousness. It consists in bringing to consciousness for analysis and evaluation everything that in ordinary life is invisible because it underlies and pervades what we are consciously doing,” ibid. 9.

“So we wrench ourselves from the embedded familiarity of our surroundings and ask whether an understanding of the totality of which we are a part can in turn become part of the self-understanding by which we live. Can we to some extent encompass the universe that has produced us?” ibid. 9.

No comments:

Post a Comment