La Mattrie


In Man_ Machine writes, among other things,

Let’s not get bogged down in ·attempts to think about infinity; we aren’t built to have the slightest idea of it; and we’re absolutely incapable of tracing things back to their origin. And it makes no difference to our peace of mind whether matter is eternal or was created, whether there is or isn’t a God. It is stupid to torture ourselves about things that we can’t know and that wouldn’t make us any happier if we did manage to know them.

And elsewhere

I am told to read the works of the defenders of Christianity; but what will they teach me? Or rather, what have they taught me? There’s nothing to them but boring repetitions by zealous writers who add to each other only verbiage that is more apt to strengthen than undermine the foundations of atheism. The arguments that people base on the spectacle of nature aren’t made any stronger by their sheer quantity:

And continues to write

•destroying chance isn’t •proving the existence of a supreme Being, for there may be something that is neither chance nor God—namely, nature, the study of which can only produce unbelievers, as is shown by the way of thinking of all its most successful observers.’

If you haven’t read the book and you have some time in your hands, you should.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

38 thoughts on “La Mattrie

  1. kcchief1 says:

    Machine Man (Vintage Contemporaries)Aug 9, 2011
    by Max Barry

    Is this the book ?

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  2. I’ll check it out. I like the bits you cited here.

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  3. Oh, the last time I spoke to a machine it said this” RRRR…RRRRR…RRRRR…!”

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  4. Thought provoking and representative philosophy from The Enlightenment. Where I might take exception to La Mettrie’s views on the cosmos (i.e. “infinity”) is regarding human attitudes towards it.

    I agree that we don’t understand the cosmos, and aren’t likely to in the foreseeable future. I also agree that we should be comfortable with our ignorance since the desperate need to define the cosmos without sufficient evidence inevitably leads to nonsensical mysticism and religion. However, too much comfort in our ignorance (i.e. bliss) can halt the pursuit of knowledge and leave us unwilling or unable to discern the world around us; and, that would prove fatal to our species.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Violet says:

    Sounds like this dude is a heavy agnostic (as my hubs is). While I can appreciate the position, I just can’t give the idea of “there is a god” equal credence with idea of “there isn’t a god.” The agnostic position just doesn’t go far enough for me…since there’s no evidence of god, I’m not likely to think one might “possibly” exist anyway.

    Agnostics tell me my thoughts make no sense to them whatsoever. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      We can excuse him. He wrote in the early 18C.
      It should be noted he was an empiricist and had as his guide experience only.

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    • Violet, your firm stance on the non-existence of god does indeed make logical sense to me and most other agnostics. I don’t believe in god(s) either and consider such notions as absurd and ridiculous.

      But, as Noel correctly pointed out, the prevailing philosophy of Enlightenment thinkers like La Mettrie – which typify today’s agnosticism – was EMPIRICISM and not the logic-based approach of RATIONALISM. Simply put, this view holds that conclusions cannot be drawn from insufficient evidence, and that affirmative statements of fact (either in the positive or negative sense) must be supported by proof.

      Science is empirical, and that’s why scientists are generally agnostic. This doesn’t mean they don’t have opinions on god and many other metaphysical concepts, but they are careful to separate what they might believe from what they actually know.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Violet says:

        Thank you for the interesting response…it gives me a few things to think about. I am certainly familiar with empirical evidence but I hadn’t quite made the jump as to how it might affect a claim of atheism. I’ve only been atheist for about a year and a half and have learned much about rationalism in that time, but I see now it doesn’t quite fit with empiricism as smoothly as I’d assumed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • My pleasure. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Violet says:

            Robert, I’ve been thinking about our exchange of comments tonight. While I have the greatest respect for empiricism (I was a RN and had to practice evidence-based medicine to remain licensed), I can’t deny I lean toward rationalism in my thoughts on god, and thus claim the title of atheist (not agnostic). Then I was thinking how theists are always talking about there being “evidence of god everywhere,” and how it’s only “logical” to believe in Him. Does this mean religious people can claim to be rationalists? I’ve never seen a theist use that word as a descriptor, but their ideas do seem to fit the philosophy of it. IMHO no theist could *ever* be a rationalist, but perhaps they see it differently. Just curious as to your opinion on this. I hope anyone else who’d like to comment will do so as well.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Don’t confuse the meaning of the word “rationalize” with the philosophy of rationalism. Anyone can rationalize any argument for any reason, and that includes theists. The philosophy of rationalism is based on academically accepted methodologies of logic such as Deductive Reasoning.

            This might seem like a fine line of distinction; however, it would only seem so to a lay person. To professionals working in the fields of philosophy, the distinction is quite clear.

            Still, this ambiguity in non-academic circles is much more prevalent for rationalist arguments than it is for empiricist arguments; and, that’s why I prefer the latter.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Violet says:

            I agree that rationalism and “to rationalize” often get confused (as a former psych nurse, I’m more aware of the distinction than most). I’m also not sure theists are aware of things like Deductive Reasoning. I just found this on Wiki, and am sort of blown away:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theistic_rationalism

            Liked by 1 person

          • Interesting, although theistic rationalism appears to have been a rather small and obscure movement to counter the secular inclinations of Enlightenment-era deists such as many of America’s founding fathers.

            However, it does bolster my assertion that rationalist arguments against the existence of god(s) are more vulnerable to differences of opinion than are empiricist arguments which rely on demonstrable evidence.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Violet says:

            I had a good time researching it last night and stayed up way too late laughing my ass off. It appears there is what we atheists call rationalism, and then there’s rationalism light for some theists. Then you have the modern catholics, who are just insane. 😀

            Liked by 1 person

          • That’s a good way to put it. I’ll give Catholics one thing though, they sure do have style! 🙂

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          • Violet says:

            Uh huh…LOTS of “style!” Cuz dontcha know catholicism embraces reasoning *along with* divine inspiration, and that makes them rationalists. I’ll stop laughing sometime next week.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Nan says:

            Violet, speaking of “style,” you might remember this posting. on my blog, 😉

            Liked by 2 people

          • makagutu says:

            That was interesting.
            I think they copied the dressing of the Roman consuls

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            Some of the early deists were rationalists. They believed in a supreme being. Had issues with atheists.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Violet says:

            Yeah…if ANY religious belief can be tied to rationalism, I might have to rethink my stance on it.

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          • makagutu says:

            You may be kinder to the deists of the 18th century

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          • Violet says:

            I’ll *consider* it. 🙂

            Like

          • Violet says:

            Oh god, I’m dying here. I’m a former catholic, and it appears that yes, catholics in particular believe they’re rationalists. For christ’s sake.

            http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/religion-is-irrational-right

            Liked by 1 person

          • See what I mean? I’m a former Catholic too, and they’re not the only ones to bloviate so in defense of their religion.

            The best rationalist argument against the existence of god(s) I’ve heard is one that is seldom used. It goes something like this:

            Since varied and diverse notions of gods arose in virtually all primitive cultures, it must be attributable to human misperceptions of the natural world and their psychological desire to explain that which was at the time unknowable. Therefore, gods must be a man-made creation.

            Liked by 1 person

      • makagutu says:

        I was hoping you would make this clarification

        Liked by 1 person

  6. shelldigger says:

    That first part you quoted made me think of some old stodgy asshat who doesn’t want us to bother thinking about things we may have trouble understanding.

    But then he makes the save with the second and third quote.

    Liked by 2 people

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