[The previous series, 118, can be found [url=https://forum.evangelicaluniversalist.com/t/jrps-bite-sized-metaphysics-series-118/571/1]here. This series, 119, picks up with the topic arrived at the end of the previous series. An index with links to all parts of the work as they are posted can be found here.]
[This series starts Chapter 10, “SIF/n-SIF vs. ??”]
[Entry 1 for “theism [u]and atheism?”]
I have been arguing throughout this book that philosophical positions can be most cogently divided into two mutually exclusive categories: non-Sentient Independent Fact, or Sentient Independent Fact. I have reached this position mainly by tracing the implications of apparently competitive belief-systems (it turns out they were advocating one of these at bottom all the time), or by discovering that competitive theories end in self-contradictions.
But some people throughout human history would agree there is such a thing as the IF (or at least we must presume there is, in order to build philosophies and subsequent sciences) and that we can discover particular things about it (at least in principle); yet they would also propose that this IF is, in essence or in effect, sentient and non-sentient.
For instance, the early Stoics (dating back before the Christian–or, if you prefer, ‘Common’–era ) believed the rock-bottom irreducible Fact of reality possessed Reason. Because of this, they insisted that human laws should be drafted and polished to mimic as closely as possible what we could discover about this divine Reason. At the same time, these Stoics insisted that this Reason had no purposes. It was, after all, the physical element of Fire (which they thought was the basic building block of all reality–today we would think of it as ‘energy’); and Fire, while it clearly ‘behaves’ very effectively, has no purposes. They thus rejected the concept that the Ultimate would initiate its own agendas or plans within ‘our’ world or in our societies. In a way, this philosophy was a rejection of Greek polytheism, perhaps (curiously) by combining the characteristics of two of its ultimate aspects: Chaos and the Fates. Exactly how people got to this belief is not what I am concerned with, however. Some early Stoics proposed (in effect) that what I am calling the IF was really sentient, and really non-sentient.