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Atheism Scepticism and Philosophy

Atheism Scepticism and Philosophy

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Atheism Scepticism and Philosophy

344 pages
6 hours
Feb 4, 2010


As a general empirical observation, it seems to me true that irrationalism and tyranny go hand in hand . . . anti-cleric and his religion slamming was most enjoyable . . . and there could be a worldwide constitution. It's no mere contrivance. It's a global accord of property, democratic and human rights with China, Russia and India. The industrialized democracies will overtake the world's markets with the spread of contractual law. The middle place we occupy is a necessary and even convenient belief for humans. Religion is always wishful thinking and philosophers are sometimes criminals of world disaster. These are just some of the ideas defended in Atheism Scepticism and Philosophy. Relative knowledge is the only asset, whereas absolute knowledge is a lethal poison. There is a basic morality we can all agree on. Reason reigns supreme and instinct, faith and intuition are an irredentist's delusion. Challenging.

A much needed and refreshing voice of reason. It is multi-dimensional and thorough at refuting the irrational, whether it be philosophies, ideologies, beliefs, religions, politics or what have you. A lot is tackled in these pages . . . a provoking work which also weighs in on morality, personal freedom and human rights . . . the author casts a wide net to find his opponents . . . a great read for skeptics, fence sitters and the free thinkers alike . . . amassed with information . . . I took a long time with it and I was glad I did. For a whole year it became my companion at university. It examines several points: that reality can be definitively grasped, that reason is the only worthwhile means of seeing it, that we can be creative, that we have real freedom of choice and that the right to liberty is guaranteed by our ability to do all this. The book is like having a voice of reason in your corner.

Feb 4, 2010

About the author

E A St Amant is the author of How to Increase the Volume of the Sea Without Water, Dancing in the Costa Rican Rain and Stealing Flowers.

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Atheism Scepticism and Philosophy - E A (Edward) St Amant

Atheism, Scepticism and Philosophy

Published by E A St Amant at Smashwords

Smashwords Edition August 2011

Web and Cover design by: Edward Oliver Zucca

Web Developed by: Adam D’Alessandro

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Copyrighted by E A St Amant, May 2007

Revised and reprinted 2009

Author Contact: ted@eastamant.com

E A St Amant.com Publishers


By Edward St Amant

How to Increase the Volume of the Sea Without Water

Dancing in the Costa Rican Rain

Stealing Flowers

Spiritual Apathy

Five Hundred Years Without Faith

Five Days of Eternity

Five Years After


Book of Mirrors

Perfect Zen

Fog Walker

Murder at Summerset

This Is Not a Reflection of You

The Theory of Black Holes (Collected Poems)

The Circle Cluster, Book I, The Great Betrayer,

The Circle Cluster, Book II, The Soul Slayer,

The Circle Cluster, Book III, The Heart Harrower,

The Circle Cluster, Book IV, The Aristes,

The Circle Cluster, Book V, CentreRule,

The Circle Cluster, Book VI, The Beginning One


Articles in Dissident Philosophy

The New Ancien Régime

By E O Zucca and E A St Amant

Molecular Structures of Jade

Instant Sober

Living Animal

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, e-mailing, e-booking, by voice recordings, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author or his agent. For index of names and books, bibliography and footnotes to Atheism, Scepticism and Philosophy purchase the original treatise at eastamant.com of received a digital PDF with proof of purchase from author. Atheism, Scepticism and Philosophy ISBN -13: 978-0-9780119-7-0, Digital ISBN: 978-1-4523-0278-2.

Table of Contents

Human Triad

Abdication of Philosophy

The Reclamation of Reason To a Middle Position

The Sun Also Rises (What We Really Know)

A Defense of the Really-real (Naive Realism)

The Dilemma of Philosophic Truth Claims

The Setting Aside Of Absolute Knowledge

The Universal Game Plan Theory

The Rational Individual

Moral Reciprocity

Geniuses, Evil Geniuses

Russell, Rand


Human Triad

Quite by chance, I found myself one evening in the company of five old acquaintances who I hadn’t seen in sometime; all were well educated fifty something year olds, career professionals with families, houses, cottages and all the toys. One of them – he was in some sense their spiritual headsman – spoke at length about the war in Iraq and the problem in Iran. He ended his analysis with a tirade on modern Western society. The problem with democracy was that it was too tolerant. It encouraged greed. Everyone, especially the officials, were untrustworthy and our effeminate culture produced decadence, laziness and softness. He went on and the list of his complaints against the West was quite long, and rather, I thought, stereotypical. I could see that he was a right-wing conservative-liberal socialist Catholic existentialist something or other. They seemed all in agreement with him too, or at least no one even mildly disputed his general conclusions, and overall, they all seemed rather smug about it. I wasn’t surprised. Being all extremely successful, they considered themselves the very foundation of modern society; they’d the right to stand in its judgment. I’d heard it many times, and I was darn fed up with it, especially from baby boomers.

My toddler son was teething at the time and I was slightly sleep-deprived, and so, perhaps unfairly, I barked back my rather un-philosophical retort; a quite cantankerous defense of modern open society; it went something like this: The great thing about democracy is that it encourages secular Humanism and not supernatural accounts of events. It stimulates ambition – which often fuels excellence – it promotes values of individuality, honesty, veracity and allows someone like me to be pitted against other closed-minded ideas without them being able, through the use of the state, to silence me. It allows those who embrace liberty with responsibility to manage their own lives . . .

I went on for some time in this manner.

They shot back their polite rejoinders, shocked at my intensity, and in the end declared that it was all a misunderstanding, they weren’t condemning the West outright and so forth . . . but the point was, like most critics of the pedestrian, middle class Joe and democrats like me who have thrived especially because of democracy and who are leery that politics or any artificially imposed structure solve any problems permanently, they were elitist, and their overall views on the West, and ones like them, can be seldom defended in reason. In fact, quite the contrary. They believed like most people who have a touch of arrogance and disdain about the open society, that true reality is hidden from common view and that the regular guy, left to his own devices, will, fall down flat on his face.

To a great extent, this is what this work is about: it is a comprehensive comeback to this elitist attitude which I’ve found everywhere and in every age group in our society; it is a defense of common sense, liberty, truth, reason, democracy, tolerance, and the open spirit of the West. So, in response to this rather undisciplined, yet passionate, retort which I gave that evening, here in this treatise, which I had been working on for some years, is offered a more formal underpinning of modern civilization.

This book proposes a solution to an often heard complaint against personal freedom, and in doing so, offers both technical and everyday explanations of the basis of the West. To do so comprehensively, what will be advanced is a radical synthesis to some of philosophy’s main dualisms, and with a method of a simple analogy, used throughout, or what is referred to within, as, A Human Triad: that is, a working organic concept of humankind made up of and amalgamated as animal, social and rational man, all wrapped up into one complex organic entity.

After introducing this concept as a philosophic allegory, there is a reassessment of philosophy proper. Its reevaluation in consequence, gives way to the inevitable conclusion, in Abdication, which will be discussed at length along with the development of modern scientific reasoning. The Reclamation of Reason to a Middle Position will put forth that such a standing of reasoning ability in humans, give us, on a day to day basis, (with certain codicils), more than mere possibility of abstract metaphysical knowledge.

Remarks on the Island’s philosophy, will show that their bifurcation between theory and practical philosophic knowledge is a philosophic game and serves another altogether, perhaps even sinister purpose, and does not necessarily serve human progress. The sun rises every morning, and this ‘kind’ of knowing about regularity, it will be claimed, is as real as 2+2=4. In everyday human reasoning, there is a thousand sure things which we build our worlds on, and far more theoretical knowledge is evident and required than that which the academic philosophers let on, especially certain schools of philosophy–this will be discussed in, The Sun Also Rises (What We Really Know).

One overall explanation is offered on why this has happen in philosophy specifically and to the world in general, and it will be the conclusion in the end, that this phenomena which so restricted reason in the past is covert, purposeful, and ominous; that academic philosophy cannot stand as it’s own judge on these issues and has failed the West and modernity with its determination to restrict the scope of reason.

What we mean to do is to launch also, a rather keen Defense of the Really-real, and explain what is meant by objective reality and other such philosophical matters. From a linear, even narrow, resolution of this issue, what is tackled is rather particular philosophic issues centering around analytic/synthetic, a priori/post priori knowledge, idealism and empiricism, spiritualism and materialism, etcetera.

Every effort is made to keep the ideas on a specific path and not to argue for too much. The attempt will be made also to recover reason to a place as ultimate arbitrator in some kinds of intellectual, metaphysical, political and ethical disputes.

Religion and theology is rift inside philosophy today – it always has been – but now it props itself up as science and rationalism, another aspect of current philosophic deception.

It will be shown that The Dilemma of Philosophic Truth Claims inside the old and modern tradition of metaphysics, especially from the Continent, as opposed to the Island, are always crashing in the same old car, and that in any grand metaphysical outburst from them, or really, from any quarter, must be forbidden any tyranny of knowledge.

Thus, The Setting Aside of Absolute Knowledge, tries to set the limits of knowing and explains why absolute knowledge is impossible.

In, The Rational Individual, beginning with a cursory examination of ethical systems through human history, it is concluded that all morality is conventional man-made ethics, but that science, reason, logic, and like tools, can mediate most, if not all, moral matters.

This result gives forth in a modest proposal for all the world’s many ethical groupings, in, Moral Reciprocity, and, in turn, this evolves into a proposal of, The Universal Game Plan Theory, a moderate espousal of democracy, human rights, and modern pluralism on a global scale.

Philosophic history, (in a narrow fashion), is uncovered through, Geniuses and Evil Geniuses, and in this section, the effects and results of ideas are examined, especially bad ideas by malevolent thinkers.

Throughout the work, the distinction between Platonic, Socratic, and Aristotelian philosophies are entertained, and the concepts elucidated around this are further expanded in Russell and Rand, who were two types of thinkers who agree on reason’s privileged place in humankind’s makeup and then disagreed on nearly everything else human, especially morality.

A conservative analysis of theoretical market-driven democratic ideals, in, Anarchy, will be attempted near the end, and the treatise will finish with a discussion of some of the most controversial modern political dilemmas.

That all stated, it seems that this is a fairly artificial enumeration of what actually occurs in the next hundred pages or so. What is in fact attempted is to introduce as many of these topics in tandem, and no doubt, in this, it has been executed imperfectly, but this dissertation was written with old concerns in the same space as new ones, and be that as it may, the discourse really can’t be swallowed in parts either, but must be taken as much as possible as a whole unified treatise, even if, at first, the work seems too expansive to warrant this. Bear with it at the beginning, and in the end, it might not seem too much for the author to have asked.

On the bright side, it is, when compared to most academic philosophic writing today, many of which are deliberately confounding and unnecessarily technical, as straight-forward as philosophic meandering can get–if such a contrary thing can be said.

To begin, then, life can be presented to us as a triad of information, first to the animal-man, as the really-real and the empirically known.

As animals, we are directly in touch with instinct, intuition, and emotion, and our contact with material things of the earth is also intimate, however, in our naivety we every so often think we see certain things which are clearly not what they appear to be.

Einstein, (1879-1955), summed up the problem with this sort of naive realism that we find in our basic experience with reality: Little can be found which is at all relevant to the traditional questions of ontology: whether the real world contains traces of the human observer in a Kantian sense; whether it contains merely sensory qualities or the idealizations called laws of nature as well; whether logical concepts are to be regarded as part of it. In fact, one does not find a definition of reality.

For animal man the really-real outside of him seems as an assured fact, as does the spiritual world inside of him for social-man, yet in a modern sense, both of these worlds have now disappeared.

Life is exposed to us, second in this triad, as social-man, as perceived with combined will, economic interaction, spiritual assessment, and cultural-verification, or what we might call, perceptual collective corroboration.

Hayek, (1899-1992), once asked, How can the combination of fragments of knowledge existing in different minds bring about results which, if they were to be brought about deliberately, would require a knowledge on the part of the directing mind which no single person can possess? To show that in this sense the spontaneous actions of the individuals will, under conditions which we can define, bring about a distribution of resources which can be understood as if it were made according to a single plan, although nobody has planned it, seems to me indeed as answer to the problem which has sometimes been metaphorically described of the ‘social-mind.’

Social man is a collective entity, one which has its reality in the tribe, society, community, and other social constructions.

Thirdly, the role of, rational-man, in our life on the planet is revealed through science, reason, and other avenues, but especially philosophy: . . . philosophy lifts the human spirit into a sphere of freedom, in which only the law of rational thinking puts an end to questioning, consenting to be bound by what is evident.

The rational individual acts alone and is set apart from his animal side and his social settings.

The metaphor of ‘animal, spiritual, rational man’ isn’t used as any separate entities inside of us that are so self-contained as to be anything but an implicit comparison. Rather it’s used as a sort of device to show how we apprehend or even prehend the really-real directly as animal-man, how and what we collectively insist as true for our concerted survival as social-man, and why rational-man has thrown this all into doubt, and even chaos.

The aspirations . . . catalysts . . . mainstays . . . of this book are: philosophy has failed humankind. (It has surrendered to otherworldliness on the one hand and become a servant to science on the other). Reality can be accurately comprehended. (We can discover the really real). Reason can be defined and defended against all other systems of apprehension. (It is a reliable standard). ‘Rational Man’ can be creative and therefore can be truly free. (We have real freedom to choose between alternatives with reason as the arbitrator). The right to liberty is guaranteed by our potential to reason and act morally, so that human-rights override collective needs. (Democracy, human rights and individual sovereignty are optimum political values).

Abdication of Philosophy

The mystic experience and the subjective difficulties in verification of knowledge of the philosophic-sort are at the crux of the modern dilemma in philosophy. Santayana, (1863-1952), the famous American-Spanish philosopher, (a thorough-going naturalist, empiricist, and skeptic), declares in Scepticism and Animal Faith, (1923), and The Life of Reason, (1952), that belief in the existence of anything, including oneself, rests on a natural, but irrational impulse, which he called, animal faith. In order to begin at the beginning we must try to fall back on uninterpreted feeling, as the mystics aspire to do. We need not expect, however, to find peace there, for the immediate is in flux. Pure feeling rejoices in a logical nonentity very deceptive to dialectic minds. They often think, when they fall back on elements necessarily indescribable, that they have come upon true nothingness. If they are mystics, distrusting thought and craving largeness of indistinction, they may embrace this alleged nothingness with joy, even if it seem positively painful, hoping to find rest there through self-abnegation. . . . Nor has the mystic who sinks into the immediate much better appreciated the situation. This immediate is not God but chaos; its nothingness is pregnant, restless, and brutish.

Mystics’ use of intuition, emotion, feeling, etcetera, is juxtaposed within this text as an example of an irrational or nonrational methodology or device to ‘see’ life in an ultimate fashion. Their claim, among others, is that people can’t know ultimate reality directly, but rather, only the appearance of it, and there can be no objectivity–at least with reason as the final arbitrator. Reality, perhaps, is independent of mind, they say, but man’s idea of it, is not. As one philosopher put it, There are material objects in space and the acts of consciousness of men. They are the only kinds we know to be in the universe, but there may possibly also be others. Moore, (1873-1958), thus defended the commonsense point of view which suggests itself so naturally to both the modern mind and to animal man, that experience results in knowledge of an external world independent of the mind.

Can belief in material objects be verified in a different way than the belief in the objects of alleged supernatural phenomena? Outside of the miraculous, there has never been any scientific way to get directly to the proof of a supernatural reality, yet, belief in it persists. Is the nonbeliever or the skeptic, suffering from spiritual-illness, and therefore, can’t conceive the obvious supernatural thing? Should we go to a religious minister for spiritual therapy? Why do some people have this ability to see the supernatural reality but not others? Or as a true believer might want to ask if he is sincere, why are genuine atheists blind in this way?

Existential objects or energies produce images and ideas in the perceiver which in the public-domain face such things as debate-procedures, double-blind experiment, scientific rigor, some sort of objective evidence where possible, a Socratic analysis, an unemotional critique, and such things. This sort of reasoning seems to bring forth a different kind of belief than occult belief; however, William James, (1842-1910), the American philosopher and psychologist, who developed the philosophy of Pragmatism, and others of his view, conceded a major philosophic point that science and religious beliefs are equally valid in some sense for everyday practical living.

The question arises: ‘Is philosophic belief any different than outright faith?’ Whether strict scientific knowledge is distinct, again, from broader philosophic perception will be left aside for a moment.

Supernatural-phenomena claims depend much on testimony, and therefore, to say a philosophic-claim is equal to a religious-assertion, is to put forward all metaphysical-belief at par, and to even put forward that direct empirically sensed-datums are mere faith assertions. This, as it will be shortly shown, is exactly what philosophy has done, and further on, we will see how this happened–that it wasn’t accidental; thus, humankind is always driven back to the modern dilemma in philosophy: the human mind is a constructor of experience, and essentially, it can’t get to objective reality to verify facts from whims or science from quasi-science, philosophic claims from religious ones. Objective reality or the really-real – an expression along with other ideas in this treatise taken from, Whitehead’s, (1861-1947), philosophy of process, Organism – is seldom ever denied by philosophers, what is denied, is, that there is anyway to have direct intimate contact with it.

James’ reaction to this cognitive epistemological frustration was as though of a therapist who would help the perceiver in belief, and indeed, he believed that science, as much as religion, rests on faith.

Whitehead once wrote, in, Modes of Thought: In our direct apprehension of the world around us, we find that curious habit of claiming a two-fold unity with the observed data. We are in the world and the world is in us. He echoed Einstein when he said that there could be no living science unless there was a widespread instinctive conviction in the existence of order. However, is the supernatural reality, real or is it a product of myth, such as Santayana believed. If the supernatural reality is part of the really-real, then why hasn’t it been discovered by science?

Perhaps it’s real in the same way in which color is real and atheists in this sense are color blind. If color has any objective reality, such as an interplay of object, measurable light waves and perceiver, i.e., the undulatory theory of light, can humankind ever get the formula right for the spiritual side and prove the supernatural to everyone’s general satisfaction? Subjective-experience – and the modern philosophic claim is that this is our only possible experience – can’t seem to show us an objective supernatural reality. Perhaps a general agreement of wills could do this. The mystic could show humankind that nonbelievers were somehow incapacitated from seeing the supernatural reality because they are immoral, materialistic or vain, in a different way than believers are. Maybe they could do a study and show that skeptics have a lower IQ? Perhaps the supernatural-reality is real in the same way truth or beauty is real. You can’t after all, see truth or beauty like you could a Bengal tiger stalking stealthily through the grasslands of the India subcontinent; moreover, there’s no agreement on the definition of truth and beauty, they’re as illusive as the magical supernatural reality. However, isn’t truth, like beauty, a metaphysical idea where there are no atheists. We don’t ever say, ‘There’s no truth!’ We might go as far as to say, ‘There is no objective truth which applies to everyone,’ or ‘Truth is completely subjective,’ or, ‘Everyone has their own subjective truth,’ etcetera, but we don’t deny truth outright unless we’re temporarily incapacitated, anymore than we deny some beauty in life. What could be conceded in beauty’s regard, is that much ugliness exists, but there is beauty as well! Or something like that.

Subjective experience’s claim-of-totality in perception – Phenomenalism – seems to fall short by equating kinds of knowledge as fundamentally equal, as for example, the drunk’s, the doctor’s, the schizophrenic’s, the poet’s, the philosopher’s, the liar’s and the mystic’s. If color red is real, (i.e., part of the really-real in some sense even if matter is reduced to atoms or energies, or quantum mechanics), then human beings see red differently than they see a supernatural reality.

So, if it’s real in a different way than the claim that a supernatural reality exists, it should be able to be shown. Christians, Moslems, Marxists, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists and the others, all can see red, but about this supposed other-world, there is little agreement among these different groups. Even if this pure elemental energy, this so-called supernatural reality, had consciousness, despite what Whitehead suggests, it would be an entity outside of humankind’s subjective experience, as well as inside. Is the world outside of personal consciousness, mundane eternal matter, or, ultimately, a supernatural reality which humankind has not yet scientifically or objectively discovered to the satisfaction of even some minimum scientific standards?

The skeptic’s question about knowledge is much like the atheist’s question about God. The first says, "Where is the proof for red?’ The second, ‘Where’s the proof for god?’

Color is supplied by the senses of the perceiving organism. A perceiver such as social-man, (who is healthy and in full-faculty to the body’s own response to objects), can seek and find certain verification in the directly evident and through reasoned perceptual corroboration of redness from humankind’s collective or community skills. If color is lacking, is altered, or is other-wise distorted by lack of light, drugs, deprivation, blindness, physical ailment or some such thing, most people seem to sense that the perceiver suffers not from a mere philosophic subjectivism, but from a sort of tangible hindrance, i.e., if you can’t see red, then some concrete barrier is obstructing your ability. To quote Whitehead, from, Science and the Modern World: Nature gets credit which should in truth be reserved for ourselves . . . the poets are mistaken. They should address lyrics to themselves . . . Nature is a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colorless.

However, isn’t the surprising thing, how well the human machine is crafted to perceive reality on earth, that is, the animal-man who is the original naive realist, this creature of raw sensations and impulses? Isn’t this so despite what the supernaturalists and philosophers say? He sees red, so to speak, and it is plainly important on some level that he does.

Were those Kantian philosophers really right that knowledge cannot be verified by reason, and as Berkeley said, that reason cannot defend reason, so consequently, there can be, or should be, no attempt at objectivity because it is futile? Berkeley theorized that matter couldn’t be conceived to exist independent of the mind and that the phenomena of sense was explained only by a deity, William Butler Yeats, (1865-1939), wrote the following stanza about it:

And God-appointed Berkeley that proved all things a dream

That this pragmatical preposterous pig of a world,

its farrow that so solid seem,

must vanish on the instant if the mind but change it’s theme.

To quote a modern version of this problem, Any attempt to demonstrate that logic holds of the nature of things must appeal at every step to the objective validity of the logic that is under scrutiny, and hence can only beg the question.

The supernaturalists’ attempt at what is truth is essentially non-perceptual. It’s certainly, even in its most Thomistic moments, outside normal conscious-acts of reason. The supernaturalists search not for the material object outside of consciousness, but rather studies emotional, spiritual, non-sensual reality, which imagination can just as well create as discover. If faith claims are equal in this regard, then what use is scientific or skilled knowledge? No matter how important it is for humans to believe in a supernatural reality, if it doesn’t exist, then it is in essence, wishful-thinking

While it is true that the skeptic position is also a problem, is it the problem, perhaps, which we want?

It is not easy to doubt, but it is out of doubt that more satisfactory answers are achieved. Philosophy is adamant in its demand for doubt. To the philosopher no belief is sacred except belief in truth, and no answer to the question we must ask is necessarily true because someone has said so. It becomes a matter of evidence. And: Until the last word has been spoken there is little room in philosophy for claims of certainty.

It’s a bit of a paradox, but that’s the thing about doubt and certainty, they crash up against each other like a storm. Tentative knowledge rather that absolute knowledge seems to quell this storm, but we will see further on if the gale can be calmed at all.

In the arena of certainty, the doubters commit a type of simplistic contradiction.

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