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IPFS News Link • Philosophy: Political

Asking the Right Questions

• - By Bionic Mosquito

Those who wish to succeed must ask the right preliminary questions.

–          Aristotle, Metaphysics

Miracles, C. S. Lewis

What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience.  It is therefore useless to appeal to experience before we have settled, as well as we can, the philosophical question.

I am not quite sure what I am going to do with this book, at least within the context of the general direction this blog has taken.  On the surface, writing one way or another about miracles seems outside the scope of this blog, even as widely as I have exercised this scope.

Yet, I am finding something in this book on the idea of naturalism and supernaturalism (as Lewis puts it), and Lewis offers food for thought on the idea that there is Natural Law that derives from a source above man, a Natural Law that takes its form from the ends or purposes of man.

This as opposed to the naturalist view, that we are nothing more than atoms randomly smashing together (as the purest form of naturalism offers).  In such a case, we have no basis for Natural Law, nor do we have a basis on which to suggest any law regime is better or worse than any other – or why we should have any law at all.

Lewis defines these terms:

Some people believe that nothing exists except Nature; I call these people Naturalists.  Others think that besides Nature, there exists something else; I call them Supernaturalists.

Beyond this, precise definitions are difficult to come by.  Some Naturalists consider as Nature anything that can be identified by the five senses.  Yet, we cannot perceive our own emotions in this way, yet these certainly seem 'natural.'

Lewis offers his working definition: "…Nature means what happens 'of itself' or 'of its own accord': what you do not need to labour for; what you will get if you take no measures to stop it."

What the Naturalist believes is that the ultimate Fact, the thing you can't go behind, is a vast process in space and time which is going on of its own accord.

Every event happens only because some other event has preceded it.  Lewis offers that the thoroughgoing Naturalist must, therefore, exclude even the possibility of free will.  Free will suggests that it is possible that something happened outside of what would have happened if things were left to go on their own.