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David Waltz

The paradigm shift concerning the translation of the Book of Mormon

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12 hours ago, 3DOP said:

Hi Robert...with regards to Newman, Praise to the Holiest?

"Lead, Kindly LIght."

12 hours ago, 3DOP said:

Its been in the last few weeks that you explained to me that strictly speaking, "miracles" do not exist for LDS because of it being entirely naturalistic. I think you went on to explain that God simply knows how to use "nature", in such a way that to us it appears to be "supernatural" when something unexplainable appears, such as the translation of the Book of Mormon. I think I remember you suggesting that the translation came about through some kind of advanced technology which enabled Joseph to hear or see the words in English.

I am wondering when in your view, did the Latter-day natural theology appear, with a technological/scientific explanation for signs and wonders. Did the Apostles of Christ understand as does "formal LDS theology"? What about Moses and the Old Testament prophets? It is certain in your view that through Joseph Smith, God revealed Himself and the Cosmos this way, right? Or does that come through even later revelations of the prophets? Thanks........

There are essentialy two points of view: (1) the primitive man sees things he does not understand as miracles, i.e., abrogating natural law, (2) the sophisticated theologian/historian realizes that modern technology always seems miraculous to a primitive man.  Once the primitive person adjusts to modern technology, however, he ceases to think that they are miraculous.  He takes them for granted.  Yet, because he is unsophisiticated and unreflective, he will still think that God worked miracles.  It never occurs to him that God can call upon very advanced technology allowing him to do things which even modern technology is not yet capable of.  Worse, he cannot extrapolate from modern technology into past "miractles."

As Rev Testament notes, there are various secular and natural explanations for some past miracles, making God and the concept of "miracle" otiose.  However, that begs the question of what a real God might be able to do with his complete command of natural law. 

Brigham Young, JD, I:88-94, Salt Lake City, June 13, 1852,

Quote

. . . the repository of the intelligence that comes from another state of existence invisible to the natural eye; of the influence that produces an effect without revealing the cause, and is therefore called a miracle. You are already acquainted with my views upon the doctrine of miracles. In reality there can be no miracle, only to the ignorant. There are spiritual agents, invisible to the natural eye, not only in us, but in the elements, in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, who are continually producing effects, the cause of which we cannot comprehend. https://jod.mrm.org/1/88 .

 

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On 7/27/2019 at 3:19 PM, JulieM said:

But if taught (the translation method or process), shouldn’t it have been more accurate?  Or do you believe our leaders didn’t know the truth either and were just teaching what they had been taught?

I think the details of the post-116 pages history is itself not agreed upon in terms of the translation method. I think most, on the basis of the later accounts especially Emma's, think the brown seer stone was used. However a solid case could be made that the Interpreters were restored sometime after being taken away and Martin Harris ceasing to be scribe. When what device was used simply isn't clear at all. Further as several of us noted, there's a case to be made that for a while Joseph was using one of the stones of the Interpreter popped out of the holder in his hat. Witnesses could in that case be expected to confuse that stone with the brown or white stones. 

For those writing the manuals in the 80's it's worth noting did not have the easy access to the abundance of historical sources and studies we have today. The real issue (IMO) is that the manuals of the 80's were well intentioned but made from poor resources. The problem was that these manuals persisted much longer than they should have. (The Institute manuals in particular) Some of these are still in use! There's a slew of reasons to criticize them. Further as manuals were revised under Pres. Hinckley the emphasis was away from teaching a bunch of facts to a minimal manual and an emphasis on teaching practical spiritual behavior. I strongly think that was a correct move - remembering the older manuals - but it did have the unfortunate side effect of people becoming somewhat more ignorant of Biblical and Church history.

The time those manuals were written there was a strong emphasis on personal study, but I don't think the Church made enough resources for that easily available and frankly most people didn't do it anyway. Had we had heavily revised Institute manuals in the 90's I think we'd have been much better off. To be fair there were also pedagogical battles in the Church over what appropriate manuals were and how to view theology and history. Oversimplified it was McConkie devotees who wanted his view of things taught and what we might call FARMS folks who wanted the historic details taught and more embrace of science. FARMS folks eventually won out I think, but the tactics I think Hinckley used in this was that move to minimalism. Of course I recognize not everyone agrees with that.

Edited by clarkgoble
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Hello again Clark,

 

From your last post, we read:

 

>>I think the details of the post-116 pages history is itself not agreed upon in terms of the translation method.>>

 

I believe that the above assessment is in accord with the extant records.

 

>>I think most, on the basis of the later accounts especially Emma's, think the brown seer stone was used. However a solid case could be made that the Interpreters were restored sometime after being taken away and Martin Harris ceasing to be scribe.>>

 

Earlier in this thread, I provided a quote from Joseph Smith himself who said: "both the plates and the Urim and Thummim were taken from me again; but in a few days they were returned to me".

 

Unless one maintains that Joseph was lying, little doubt should remain concerning whether or not the Interpreters/Urim and Thummim were returned.

 

>>For those writing the manuals in the 80's it's worth noting did not have the easy access to the abundance of historical sources and studies we have today.>>

 

Yes, they did not have the internet back then. However, the large library at the in Church HQ building did in fact have an "abundance of historical sources and studies"—sources and studies which I personally used in the 80s and 90s. I seriously doubt that the folk writing the manuals of the 80s were ignorant of those resources.

 

Grace and peace,

 

David

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On 7/27/2019 at 3:19 PM, JulieM said:

But if taught (the translation method or process), shouldn’t it have been more accurate?  Or do you believe our leaders didn’t know the truth either and were just teaching what they had been taught?

Yes, of course it should have, but I wasn't in charge of formulating how the details should be taught, nor indeed which details.  The CES people in charge did not know those details and (I believe) were frightened of the details.  Most of them were not academically oriented, and they always preferred to emphasize basic Gospel principles -- and forget about the rest -- which is somewhat persuasive.  Milk before meat, and all that.  😎

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7 minutes ago, David Waltz said:

...................................

 

>>For those writing the manuals in the 80's it's worth noting did not have the easy access to the abundance of historical sources and studies we have today.>>

 

Yes, they did not have the internet back then. However, the large library at the in Church HQ building did in fact have an "abundance of historical sources and studies"—sources and studies which I personally used in the 80s and 90s. I seriously doubt that the folk writing the manuals of the 80s were ignorant of those resources......................

Hard to know just what the actual manual writers knew and when they knew it.  I maintain that the majority of CES people (with some exceptions) were deeply fearful of confronting the hard data, and ran at full speed from anything FARMS published.  Most of all they were frightened by anti-Mormon literature, thinking (perhaps correctly) that they might apostatize if they read some of it.  Rigid thinkers are the most likely to fold under even mild challenges to their brittle belief system.  The exceptions only prove the rule.  :pirate:

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27 minutes ago, David Waltz said:

Yes, they did not have the internet back then. However, the large library at the in Church HQ building did in fact have an "abundance of historical sources and studies"—sources and studies which I personally used in the 80s and 90s. I seriously doubt that the folk writing the manuals of the 80s were ignorant of those resources.

However the resources were just that - resources. Finding all references to seer stones was non-trivial. It's ridiculous to expect manual writers to pour through diaries, newspapers and the like. These days historians have been doing that for decades. Further a lot of resources are compiled into an easy to scan set of quotes - such as all references to seer stones. Occasionally one or two sources are missed, but all the sources historians use are found along with references to the primary material. Further the Church through the JSP has made a lot of hard to find materials easily available.

So, no, I rather think that the vast majority of manual writers in the 80's were ignorant of most of these sources. Doubly so since most were done by CES staff who at that time typically didn't have strong academic backgrounds in research.

12 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Hard to know just what the actual manual writers knew and when they knew it.  I maintain that the majority of CES people (with some exceptions) were deeply fearful of confronting the hard data, and ran at full speed from anything FARMS published.  Most of all they were frightened by anti-Mormon literature, thinking (perhaps correctly) that they might apostatize if they read some of it.  Rigid thinkers are the most likely to fold under even mild challenges to their brittle belief system.  The exceptions only prove the rule. 

This is a good point. It's worth noting that a lot of the rigid thinkers who want a very simplified story of theology and history also tend to be the people most upset when they encounter the actual history. I think that the influence of such rigid thinkers on manuals led to more rigid thinking among many members who then ran into serious trouble when the history started becoming known. That is these rigid thinkers really damaged the Church, however unintentionally. I think that in the 90's this was obvious, but it was still not at all uncommon then to have people teaching Sunday School based more upon McConkie's Mormon Doctrine than the scriptures itself.

Part of what bothers me about what you describe so well as rigid thinkers is that it led IMO to weaker testimonies because no one had to turn to God to know. People would say they knew, but really what they knew was just a kind of embdued social consensus. Because their "testimony" never had been challenged, and because the answers seemed so easy and simple, they never developed. Probably the CES crowd was right that many people would have fallen away when challenged. But probably far fewer than are falling away now and those who remained would have been much stronger in the spirit.

Edited by clarkgoble
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29 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Yes, of course it should have, but I wasn't in charge of formulating how the details should be taught, nor indeed which details.  The CES people in charge did not know those details and (I believe) were frightened of the details.  Most of them were not academically oriented, and they always preferred to emphasize basic Gospel principles -- and forget about the rest -- which is somewhat persuasive.  Milk before meat, and all that.  😎

Thanks for your response, Robert :)

I agree and my only issue is calling members lazy for not knowing about the seer stone in the hat method that Joseph used prior to more recently.  It seems even CES and writers of manual may also not have been aware and I wouldn’t say they were lazy.  But I do agree that as members, we are each responsible to do our own study and learning and should not just depend on what is taught in Sunday School.

 

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1 hour ago, David Waltz said:

Hello again Clark,

 

From your last post, we read:

 

>>I think the details of the post-116 pages history is itself not agreed upon in terms of the translation method.>>

 

I believe that the above assessment is in accord with the extant records.

 

>>I think most, on the basis of the later accounts especially Emma's, think the brown seer stone was used. However a solid case could be made that the Interpreters were restored sometime after being taken away and Martin Harris ceasing to be scribe.>>

 

Earlier in this thread, I provided a quote from Joseph Smith himself who said: "both the plates and the Urim and Thummim were taken from me again; but in a few days they were returned to me".

 

David, is it your belief that Joseph only used the ancient interpreters (that were with the gold plates) and did not ever use the seer stone in his hat method for transcribing or translation?  

If so, what do you believe took place regarding the times that the gold plates were not physically present during the translation process?

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15 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Brigham Young, JD, I:88-94, Salt Lake City, June 13, 1852,

Quote

. . . the repository of the intelligence that comes from another state of existence invisible to the natural eye; of the influence that produces an effect without revealing the cause, and is therefore called a miracle. You are already acquainted with my views upon the doctrine of miracles. In reality there can be no miracle, only to the ignorant. There are spiritual agents, invisible to the natural eye, not only in us, but in the elements, in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, who are continually producing effects, the cause of which we cannot comprehend. https://jod.mrm.org/1/88 .

 

Read my siggy, just a plug for Rorty who says something very similar about unknowable causes of mental states.

Quote

" To say that the world is out there, that it is not our creation, is to say, with common sense, that most things in space and time are the effects of causes which do not include human mental states.  To say that truth is not out there is simply to say that where there are no sentences, there is no truth, that sentences are elements of human languages, and that human languages are human creations.

And so for mystics and Rorty, "reality" independent of being able to see the "real causes" of our mental states because all we see are appearances, all of "what really is" becomes a mystery and therefore irrelevant, hence "Pragmatism", where we forget about mysterious causes and just speak of the practicality of things.

It is like canceling out extraneous zeroes when talking about 7.5 billion dollars and some "change",  say, and simply putting the "7.5" into a calculator and multiplying it by whatever number we need, also divorced from the same amount of extraneous numbers.

That will give us a "ball park" estimate which may be all that is needed for a practical decision.

So for @3DOP, were I to want to be Catholic and a fan of Rorty, and a pragmatist, I could easily justify belief in what is now called "transubstantiation" I would speak only of the "real presence" as being my personal real experience of Christ's body and blood transformed in my experience.

I just wanted to say this because I was trained in William James by my friend and old professor, John McDermott while a grad student at CUNY.

He was a practicing Catholic who himself was a student at one time at Fordham University a good Catholic school.  ;)

https://www.davidsonfilms.com/products/william-james-the-psychology-of-possibility-with-john-j-mcdermott

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

And so for mystics and Rorty, "reality" independent of being able to see the "real causes" of our mental states because all we see are appearances, all of "what really is" becomes a mystery and therefore irrelevant, hence "Pragmatism", where we forget about mysterious causes and just speak of the practicality of things.

Well a certain strain of pragmatism. The originator of pragmatism thought quite differently and saw attempts to ignore causes as nominalism. The so-called New Pragmatists (Susan Haack, Christopher Hookway, Cheryl Misak etc.) are closer to Peirce while the neo-Pragmatists (early Rorty, Putnam, Huw Price, etc.) tended to reject the realism and objectivity of Peirce. 

Edited by clarkgoble

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2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

............................................

And so for mystics and Rorty, "reality" independent of being able to see the "real causes" of our mental states because all we see are appearances, all of "what really is" becomes a mystery and therefore irrelevant, hence "Pragmatism", where we forget about mysterious causes and just speak of the practicality of things.

...............................

That will give us a "ball park" estimate which may be all that is needed for a practical decision.

....................................

Interesting also to think of science as "a 'ball park' estimate which may be all that is needed for a practical decision."  Else what are we going to do with quantum entanglement?  I think that Bertrand Russell would approve, great British empiricist that he was.

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5 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

................................

So, no, I rather think that the vast majority of manual writers in the 80's were ignorant of most of these sources. Doubly so since most were done by CES staff who at that time typically didn't have strong academic backgrounds in research.

This is a good point. It's worth noting that a lot of the rigid thinkers who want a very simplified story of theology and history also tend to be the people most upset when they encounter the actual history. I think that the influence of such rigid thinkers on manuals led to more rigid thinking among many members who then ran into serious trouble when the history started becoming known. That is these rigid thinkers really damaged the Church, however unintentionally. I think that in the 90's this was obvious, but it was still not at all uncommon then to have people teaching Sunday School based more upon McConkie's Mormon Doctrine than the scriptures itself.

Part of what bothers me about what you describe so well as rigid thinkers is that it led IMO to weaker testimonies because no one had to turn to God to know. People would say they knew, but really what they knew was just a kind of embdued social consensus. Because their "testimony" never had been challenged, and because the answers seemed so easy and simple, they never developed. Probably the CES crowd was right that many people would have fallen away when challenged. But probably far fewer than are falling away now and those who remained would have been much stronger in the spirit.

It is also worth considering that some of the most important members of the first generation of LDS leaders apostatized -- some at least for a time, before returning.  Some based their apostasy on their own self-importance along with their own views of propriety, along with a cacophany of opinions about what Joseph should do or not do -- very much like Job's companions.  Just so, everyone was being tested, even as we are today.  Only a strong faith can see us through the obstacle course.  8)

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3 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

So for @3DOP, were I to want to be Catholic and a fan of Rorty, and a pragmatist, I could easily justify belief in what is now called "transubstantiation" I would speak only of the "real presence" as being my personal real experience of Christ's body and blood transformed in my experience.

 

I appreciate that Mark. I am sure Spammer would as well. I am not worried about Spammer's "real presence". The E.O. are O.K.  I don't mind that they (the East) have for the most part, eschewed scholastic terminology. But there have been problems for us in the West. "Real presence" can be watered down to the point that a Calvinist Baptist can say he believes in the "real presence" (non-physical/figurative). I am wondering if Berengarius had appeared in the East, if they would not have been more welcoming to terminology like that which was used to oppose him in the West. What both East and West (Orthodox/Catholic) insist upon is that there is a change to the bread and wine at consecration that completely includes the physical/material aspects of the Man Jesus Christ. At the most fundamental level, it can never be merely bread and wine that symbolizes Jesus in a real, but non-material way.

It seems like you guys could, while disagreeing that it happens, appreciate why we (Orthodox/Catholic) would be concerned to preserve the FULL MEANING of the Fathers about the Real Presence in a way that would distinguish us from Reformed Baptists or others who cannot believe in a physical change to the bread and wine.   

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3 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Read my siggy, just a plug for Rorty...

I don't see your "siggy" anymore. Do you?

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6 hours ago, ALarson said:

David, is it your belief that Joseph only used the ancient interpreters (that were with the gold plates) and did not ever use the seer stone in his hat method for transcribing or translation?  

If so, what do you believe took place regarding the times that the gold plates were not physically present during the translation process?

I have not fully made my mind up, though I am currently leaning to "Joseph only used the ancient interpreters (that were with the gold plates)" because that is what he conveyed (as well as Oliver Cowdery) when he talked and/or wrote about the translation method. As I am sure you have discerned from a number of my comments, I have some difficulty placing confidence in the early anti-Mormon accounts, as well as the decades later statements from David Whitmer and Emma Smith. Folk who seem to have a high level of confidence in those decades later accounts marginalize way too much conflicting data for my taste. For instance, Brant Gardner pointed out in his book The Gift and Power, that "the five people [who] had the most direct opportunity to see and hear the process of translation"--Martin Harris, Emma Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Knight and David Whitmer--all agree on one aspect of the translation process--i.e. the appearance of actual words on the translating device--but that they were all WRONG on this. Red flag for me...

Grace and peace,

David

 

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1 hour ago, David Waltz said:

I have not fully made my mind up, though I am currently leaning to "Joseph only used the ancient interpreters (that were with the gold plates)" because that is what he conveyed (as well as Oliver Cowdery) when he talked and/or wrote about the translation method. As I am sure you have discerned from a number of my comments, I have some difficulty placing confidence in the early anti-Mormon accounts, as well as the decades later statements from David Whitmer and Emma Smith. Folk who seem to have a high level of confidence in those decades later accounts marginalize way too much conflicting data for my taste.

I do think it significant that no friendly account mentions the seer stone until 1870 while a significant number of the hostile accounts attempt to link the Interpreters to a seer stone or else clearly emphasizes the seer stone rather than the Interpreters. So I do think we ought be cautious. That said, there seems little reason for Emma or Martin Harris to say he used the seer stone. That said, it's also clearly the case that these late account conflate the two. Consider say the David Whitmer account. "Three times he has been at the Hill Cumorah and seen the casket that contained the tablets and seerstone." (Salt Lake Herald, 1875) Emma's reminiscences are 1879 when she was 75 and almost 50 years after the fact. So we should be careful, but neither do I think we can simply dismiss the later accounts.

 

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5 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Interesting also to think of science as "a 'ball park' estimate which may be all that is needed for a practical decision."  Else what are we going to do with quantum entanglement?  I think that Bertrand Russell would approve, great British empiricist that he was.

Well all intellectual activity tends to be to solve a practical problem on which we can build a theory of the nature of the world, but it always stops when a reasonable "ball park" estimate is achieved.  That estimate then becomes the paradigm until someone finds a problem with it - because it did not work for some practical problem.

So Ptolemy's view became too complex with needing to add more and more epicycles, so Kepler/Copernicus won out.  And of course we know the rest of the examples

But we will never end and get to "final reality".  Why not?  Because there will always be further problems we create!   There will always be a need for a gizmo or point of view that "works better in a practical way" to make us go farther or faster or more beautifully or morally more desirable, an ontology or teleology that makes better sense as our needs change and develop.

As we create new needs we create new ways to obtain them and so we will have this interplay forever as long as human intellectual inquiry exists.

And yes, Russell would certainly approve!

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40 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

One more story worth bringing up that places the seer stone at the scene of translation, during the 116 pages in fact, is Martin Harris account of switching out JS’ seer stone with a different stone as a test:

http://www.moroni10.com/mormon_history/harris-swaps-seer-stone.html

I see that as a pretty naive "test" quite frankly.

On a religious level it is naive because it assumes that it was the stone itself that was doing the translating- not the power of God working through Joseph.  It's like putting God into a little machine and then pulling the plug on the machine and then losing connection with God.

Were it a true test, Joseph could not have received any more revelations throughout his life without the stone, and obviously he did- all of D&C, the Book of Abraham, the "Inspired Version" of the Bible etc etc.

I want a machine like that one!!  No need for righteousness, for the spirit or anything else- it's all up to the stone.

It is also naive on a naturalistic view, in my opinion.

Have you seen the stone in question?   It has been on exhibit in Salt Lake in the church museum there and I have seen it.

It has very distinctive markings and is quite unique.  And remember Joseph SAW that stone every time he put it into the hat, and I am sure that he had certain angles or patterns on the stone memorized, knowing exactly how it fit in the hat, what corner pointed to what part of the hat, etc.   I am sure it was like putting on a shoe for Joseph, and if that stone suddenly got confused with others I am absolutely certain that Joseph could pick out "his" stone from any other stone of similar size and shape in an instant.   He stared at it for hours at a time!!

I am sure Joseph would have handled it just as he did, pretending to not notice, and then giving Martin the answer he was expecting to receive.   Martin was a simple man who came up with a "test" that was not based on a mature gospel understanding of the nature of revelation as far as personal revelation etc.

Joseph I am convinced kept the explanations simple for the simple folk and more complex for those ready for what was more complex.  That is precisely what the temple is about as opposed to Sunday School.

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5 hours ago, 3DOP said:

It seems like you guys could, while disagreeing that it happens, appreciate why we (Orthodox/Catholic) would be concerned to preserve the FULL MEANING of the Fathers about the Real Presence in a way that would distinguish us from Reformed Baptists or others who cannot believe in a physical change to the bread and wine. 

Well I suppose, but would see it as MY importance to see it that way rather than your interpretation of the "full meaning" of what someone 1500 years WROTE was important to him.

The way I think that it is up to me create my relationship with my God because it is ME that needs to "live" with it in the hereafter.

I have often asked Evangelicals about why they think the Bible IS the word of God- because they challenge the very possibility that the BOM COULD be the word of God.

Their answers tend to be that they believe the bible is true because it says it is.  When I point out the obvious circularity there- about how THEY know that the bible's assertion IS in fact true, it is as if they cannot comprehend the question.  It has never crossed their minds to question it I guess.  

So yes I can see that is important to you, but obviously it was not important enough to me for me to stay Catholic.  But that's fine, it is not for me to say what is right for you

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5 hours ago, 3DOP said:

I don't see your "siggy" anymore. Do you?

Yes, maybe you have turned it off- do you see ANY siggies?

Anyway I will repeat it here right now for you.:

Quote

 

" To say that the world is out there, that it is not our creation, is to say, with common sense, that most things in space and time are the effects of causes which do not include human mental states.  To say that truth is not out there is simply to say that where there are no sentences, there is no truth, that sentences are elements of human languages, and that human languages are human creations.

     Truth cannot be out there- cannot exist independently of the human mind- because sentences cannot so exist, or be out there.  The world is out there, but descriptions of the world are not.  Only descriptions of the world can be true or false.  The world on its own- unaided by the describing activities of human beings- cannot."   Richard Rorty- Contingency Irony and Solidarity, P 5.

 

The world without us is out there, but we can only discuss sentences that purport to describe what appearances humans have observed "ABOUT" the world which are just based on appearances.

So if we can never get outside of appearances- how can we discuss what "really is"- because we cannot compare our sentences to the unknowable world "as it really is".

It is exactly like transubstantiation for Catholics really.   All we can see is the appearance of bread and wine even though for you the "reality" has changed into the body blood, soul and divinity of Christ.

So how can we get outside of appearances to see the "flesh" of the Lord?

We cannot.

So now suppose that principle is extended to the whole world.   What is your computer "really" made of?  You know what it feels like to type and read the screen but the supposed reality is that it is made of atoms which are made of swirling particles or strings or whatever physicists think they are.

So what is the "truth" about the reality of your computer?  Science does not even purport to know at this point the ultimate constituents of matter- is string theory true?  How does dark matter fit into all this?

Pragmatists essentially say- fegitabout it- it's a computer and the dang thing works to do what I want and need it to do.  Let's not worry about what is "true" in whatever it is made of, let's just acknowledge that it works.

So applying it to religious discussions like this one, since we cannot agree between our models of what IS the Sacrament/Eucharist, let's just agree that our experience of the Eucharist/Sacrament is one of the most important aspects of how we relate to God within our respective faiths and the bottom line is that neither of us can describe it with "accuracy" in human languages.

Out internal experiences may in fact be quite similar if not identical in making us closer to Christ, and that is all that matters, even if we don't have the words to say them.

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14 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

One more story worth bringing up that places the seer stone at the scene of translation, during the 116 pages in fact, is Martin Harris account of switching out JS’ seer stone with a different stone as a test:

http://www.moroni10.com/mormon_history/harris-swaps-seer-stone.html

Note that's an 1870 lecture recounted (not transcribed) 3rd hand by Edward Stevenson in 1881. Not saying it's wrong, but it's not necessarily trustworthy because it's not first hand and because it's so late. It's curious that no friendly account mentions the seer stone in connection to the Book of Mormon until the 1870's.

12 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

The world without us is out there, but we can only discuss sentences that purport to describe what appearances humans have observed "ABOUT" the world which are just based on appearances.

So if we can never get outside of appearances- how can we discuss what "really is"- because we cannot compare our sentences to the unknowable world "as it really is".

Just to quibble but we can and frequently do use more than sentences. Physicists use equations for instance. Engineers use diagrams. If we change "sentences" to "signs" then I think that's more accurate. Communication is simply much broader than formal language.

 

Edited by clarkgoble
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38 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

Note that's an 1870 lecture recounted (not transcribed) 3rd hand by Edward Stevenson in 1881. Not saying it's wrong, but it's not necessarily trustworthy because it's not first hand and because it's so late. It's curious that no friendly account mentions the seer stone in connection to the Book of Mormon until the 1870's.

Just to quibble but we can and frequently do use more than sentences. Physicists use equations for instance. Engineers use diagrams. If we change "sentences" to "signs" then I think that's more accurate. Communication is simply much broader than formal language.

 

No one knows what "signs" means, and everyone defines the word differently, yet point taken.

Most would not see the similarities between a stop sign and an equation

All those are still communication systems invented by humans, or "language games "

When I run into Rorty on the other side I will tell him to change his terminology.

Quote

 

" To say that the world is out there, that it is not our creation, is to say, with common sense, that most things in space and time are the effects of causes which do not include human mental states.  To say that truth is not out there is simply to say that where there are no sentences, there is no truth, that sentences are elements of human languages, and that human languages are human creations.

     Truth cannot be out there- cannot exist independently of the human mind- because sentences cannot so exist, or be out there.  The world is out there, but descriptions of the world are not.  Only descriptions of the world can be true or false.  The world on its own- unaided by the describing activities of human beings- cannot."   Richard Rorty- Contingency Irony and Solidarity, P 5.

 

Here he uses "sentences" to simplify what he means by "human communication".

Edited by mfbukowski

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On 7/29/2019 at 10:19 AM, David Waltz said:

Earlier in this thread, I provided a quote from Joseph Smith himself who said: "both the plates and the Urim and Thummim were taken from me again; but in a few days they were returned to me".

 

Unless one maintains that Joseph was lying, little doubt should remain concerning whether or not the Interpreters/Urim and Thummim were returned.

Isn't that quote purely in the History of the Church? I tried to find an original source for the quote but only found references to History of the Church. If that's the case then I think that undermines the reliability of that quote since it was most likely ghost written. (HotC is notoriously unreliable) The first reference I can find it is Times and Seasons June 1, 1842. Again not saying it's false, and it certainly has better earlier providence than the accounts from 1870 onwards. But it's interesting to ask the question of where this account is coming from. (The assumption that Joseph carefully reviewed it probably needs justification itself)

1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

No one knows what "signs" means, and everyone defines the word differently, yet point taken.

Most would not see the similarities between a stop sign and an equation

All those are still communication systems invented by humans, or "language games "

When I run into Rorty on the other side I will tell him to change his terminology.

Smoke signifies fire but isn't a human system. Philosophers debate whether mathematics is a human invented system or something inherent in the universe. Physicists regularly think the equations of matter as inherent to the universe. Perhaps the immediate symbols used are arbitrary, but there's an other level underneath where they aren't. 

I raise this because I think it a place where Rorty has problems. I think a more sophisticated consideration of semiotics changes how one views the arguments in say Mirrors of Nature he raises. My personal suspicion is that because Rorty tended to think in terms of language that the very question of whether a sign-system is arbitrary or not is predetermined. It's always arbitrary in a strong sense. I think you see this particularly in his critique of Heidegger by way of Wittgenstein where he thinks Heidegger is reifying language.

So it's less terminological than a question of how things work. It's important because I think philosophers since the language turn have tended to view things through the prism of human spoken language rather than signs. (I'd argue this is the basis of Derrida's critique of speech and thereby philosophy) To me this isn't a minor point but a place where much of contemporary philosophy - particularly analytic philosophy - runs aground.

Ultimately I think it's mathematics where this question of language becomes most prominent. Of course there's still a lot of constructivists — Wittgenstein definitely was for instance. But if mathematics and physics aren't akin to human language, that then makes things quite a bit more complicated. The question then becomes whether all signs are inherently conventional or if there are natural signs. If there are natural signs then I think a lot falls out of that and that tends to be the dividing line amongst pragmatists.

Edited by clarkgoble

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

 

Smoke signifies fire but isn't a human system. Philosophers debate whether mathematics is a human invented system or something inherent in the universe. Physicists regularly think the equations of matter as inherent to the universe. Perhaps the immediate symbols used are arbitrary, but there's an other level underneath where they aren't. 

I raise this because I think it a place where Rorty has problems. I think a more sophisticated consideration of semiotics changes how one views the arguments in say Mirrors of Nature he raises. My personal suspicion is that because Rorty tended to think in terms of language that the very question of whether a sign-system is arbitrary or not is predetermined. It's always arbitrary in a strong sense. I think you see this particularly in his critique of Heidegger by way of Wittgenstein where he thinks Heidegger is reifying language.

So it's less terminological than a question of how things work. It's important because I think philosophers since the language turn have tended to view things through the prism of human spoken language rather than signs. (I'd argue this is the basis of Derrida's critique of speech and thereby philosophy) To me this isn't a minor point but a place where much of contemporary philosophy - particularly analytic philosophy - runs aground.

Ultimately I think it's mathematics where this question of language becomes most prominent. Of course there's still a lot of constructivists — Wittgenstein definitely was for instance. But if mathematics and physics aren't akin to human language, that then makes things quite a bit more complicated. The question then becomes whether all signs are inherently conventional or if there are natural signs. If there are natural signs then I think a lot falls out of that and that tends to be the dividing line amongst pragmatists.

Yeah fire hurts. Is seeing fire a "sign"? Sounds like an ad lapidem argument to me

Sounds also like a language game question to me.

Yes philosophers differ on these matters. The Cartesian divide still exists for reasons that I cannot imagine, that physicists seem rather prone to Cartesian realism

I have yet to see the universe write a single equation or draw a diagram without the help of a human mind.

Edited by mfbukowski

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