Monday, June 26, 2006

Metaphysical subjectivism

This is how Anton Thorn, Dawson’s fellow Randian, defines metaphysical subjectivism:

“Metaphysical subjectivism, which is the view that the knowing subject creates its objects by an act of consciousness, essentially that existence finds its source in a form of consciousness.”

And this is how Bethrick redefines metaphysical subjectivism:

“Metaphysical subjectivism - the view that reality conforms to someone's intentions.”

Why does Bethrick redefine and radically scale back the definition of Thorn?

Because Bethrick finds himself in a quandary. For he is attempting to impute to Christianity two contradictory descriptions.

On the one hand, he wants to say that Christianity espouses a cartoonish worldview.

But the problem with this analogy is that even if Christian theism were analogous to a cartoonish worldview, a cartoonish worldview is disanalogous to metaphysical subjectivism.

And that is because, as defined by Thorn, metaphysical subjectivism is an ontological thesis according to which reality is constituted by mental acts—by acts of consciousness.

But, needless to say, a cartoon is not constituted by mental acts. A cartoonist lacks the power to create a cartoon by a mental fiat.

Instead, a cartoonist must employ a physical medium of some sort to create a cartoon.

So Bethrick is confronted with a choice: he can either try to salvage his cartoon analogy by sacrificing the imputation of metaphysical subjectivism, or else he can try to salvage the imputation of metaphysical realism by sacrificing his cartoon analogy.

Clinging to his cartoon analogy, he chooses to jettison the imputation of metaphysical subjectivism to Christian theism.

This he does through a face-saving redefinition. He swamps out an ontological theory for an epistemic theory. This involves the far weaker thesis that the artifact corresponds to the subjective intent of the agent, rather than the far more ambitious claim that the artifact is instantiated by the subjective intent of the agent.

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