27 February 2019

Verification principles

Many good people are filled with visceral disgust at the very thought of homosexual genital activity. I'm afraid that I'm not among these many good people. As an old style rationalist, I instinctively feel that it ought to be possible to analyse courses of conduct negatively without getting emotionally excited about either the actions or the actors. If this notion is damnable, then you will have to condemn me.

But I'll tell you what ... I admit it ... does irritate me about some homosexually inclined people. It is the conviction of so many of them that everybody else shares the same objective ordinatio as they do.

So, as you will guess, I didn't like that book that everybody was talking about last week. The author, smart chappy, adopted the hermeneutic that those who are homosexuals are homosexuals; and that those who write or speak dissuasively about homosexuality or homosexuals ... are themselves homosexuals, since they manifest this state by their obvious repression. Unsurprisingly, this shoehorns him into the firm conviction that nearly everybody is homosexual. Indeed, given his premises, they must be. Gay is the new Straight! If not even Straighter!!

Those of you who read Greats in the early 1960s will recall sitting on hard benches and listening to Professor Freddie Ayer explaining his 'Verification Principle' ... that a proposition must be falsifiable in order to have meaning. Do you remember the jolly little ripple of laughter that went round the room when he remarked that this "of course" put all religious talk beyond the pale? I rather feel that the book with which I am concerned is based on assumptions which appear in practice to be unverifiable qua unfalsifiable. Ergo ...

But there is a funny side to all this, as there usually is with regard to doctrinal and moral errors. Employing a Lockean argumentum ad hominem, we would have a corollary: the people who went to Rome last week and spoke so categorically against the sexual abuse of the young would themselves have to be mostly either paedophiles or repressed paedophiles.

Him ... and him ... and him ... and her ... 

And the more any of them deny it, the more ineluctable wpould the inference be!!!


Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

The author, smart chappy, adopted the hermeneutic that those who are homosexuals are homosexuals; and that those who write or speak dissuasively about homosexuality or homosexuals ... are themselves homosexuals

Well, that is exactly what a cannibal would say, isn't it?

Archimandrite Gregory said...

Read a portion of the book; utter trash not worth the paper its printed on. Just utter flamboyant crap.

GOR said...

Well Father it is all of a piece, right? Similar to those chaps in Sodom, the ‘gay’ lobby initially craved acceptance. Okay, we can all acknowledge our sinful natures. Next they wanted approval – their ‘gayness’ is a good thing. There we must draw the line… Now they want us to believe we’re all in the same ‘gay’ boat. There I fear we must draw two lines and probably some exclamation marks.

This was my impression of the book you referred to – at least as far as the excerpts I’ve read. Just as Lucifer was at pains to get others to join his rebellion, people such as the writer would have it that we all share this perversion. But there are Seven Deadly Sins and the other six are quite, if not more, common – thank you very much!

Master Dickey said...

This is quite good! Fr Hunwicke provides the most succinct and easily the best response to anyone trying to claim that the Catholic Church is filled with pedophile priests and that the sexual abuse "crisis" in the Catholic Church is about "clericalism" and "pedophilia".

Feed Room Five said...

I am of a tender enough age to have gone to seminary with ladies, um, well, females anyway. I found the falsifiability principle very useful in arguing with them about female ordination. I would simply ask them what are the circumstances under which women could not be ordained. Their answer was uniformly there are none. No theological principle, no historical record, nothing whatsoever could falsify their conviction that women can be ordained. I of course could easily tell the conditions that would falsify my position. But I would invoke not Ayer but Sir Karl Popper, another atheist, (who attempted to create an ontological argument that God did not exist). But come to think of it, Ayer's notion that a statement is true, if and only it is tautology or is empirically verifiable, would also work. Who says analytical philosophy cannot come to the aid of the Faith.

Oliver Nicholson said...

We sing the praise of Carnap,
Of Tarsky, Ayer, and Quine,
But most of all the glory
Of Ludwig Wittgenstein.
He wrote the great Tractatus
To lift our hearts on high
To help us in temptation
And cheer us when we die.

Father will recognise the author.

Unknown said...

A tiny correction. Ayer argued that a proposition needed to be verifiable to be meaningful, before going on to argue that theism,atheism and agnosticism were meaningless by this criterion. Popper argued that falsification was the demarcation between scientific and non-scientific propositions, but not between meaningful and meaningless.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Father. This comment is entirely off topic but ABS wants to thank you for your many recommendations of texts and sources. ABS has just finished "Liturgical Latin" by Christine Mohrmann (Interlibrary loan from Atonement Seminary in The Swamp, DC.)

From the get so, she inspires - If one wishes to study the phenomenon of sacred and hieratic languages... because we have become old hearing there was no such thing as a scared language.

About the middle of the text she sagely observes, ... he (St. Hilary of Poitiers) says that the Christian writer is, as it were, the instrument of God and as such may not allow himself to be terre a terre. But the revolutionaries strived mightily to be just that and they dragged us down with them in their destruction of The Roman Rite.

Her summary is prophetic.

In observing that adopting the use of the vernacular would sever our connection with the ancient sources of Christianity and would be a tragic mistake (not her words) ABS reflexively thought - But what if that was the subtext of the adoption of the use of the vernacular that would supposedly bless us? To create a rupture that would render the faithful more easily manipulated by the revolutionaries because the link to the past would be broken?

Dear Father. ABS has never followed-up on a recommendation (From Dix's ,The Share of the Liturgy, to this) of yours that has not been of enormous benefit.

God Bless you.

Kathleen1031 said...

I've got a much simpler take. I believe God in His wisdom has put a natural revulsion to any disordered and sinful behavior into our entire makeup, and only by bludgeoning that natural response to death do we then arrive at a state where it no longer makes us cringe.
From there it is easy to move to celebration or pride.
Joseph Sciambra is a once "gay" man who speaks very plainly about the behaviors of homosexuality. He has a website and numerous articles that reveal the extremely satanic behaviors committed by those indulging their flaming side. It is a coarse and ugly description of life in the Castro district of San Francisco, and reveals the most filthy acts of sexual depravity one can possibly imagine. It is not light reading, but probably a good idea to know more about what we as a society are approving before we approve of it. People like to think of two homosexuals holding hands and who are "in love". The reality is far, far different from that rosy picture.

Cherub said...

Unfortunately for Freddy Ayr, as he himself later conceded, the statement that the meaning of a statement is its verifiability itself could not be verified or falsified. It died at his own hand. I remember in about 1977 0r 1978 seeing a very good interview with Prof Ayr on BBC 2 in which he said as much.

Liam Ronan said...

When I attended uni in the 1960s, one of my professors of philosophy (a rather attractive woman with flame-red hair and touting bona fides from the University of Texas)attempted to persuade her students (mostly Vietnam vets)that whatever one undertook or refrained from undertaking in life was solely determined (consciously or no) by the principle of maximizing one's personal pleasure and minimizing personal pain. I believe she dubbed it ethical hedonism. Self-sacrifice, etc. meant nothing, you see, because it was all subconsciously, and therefore selfishly, motivated to extract the supreme drop of physical or psychological delight from every circumstance in life.

A sort of universalism that did not sit well with the attendees of the course.

In law, hers would be a presumptive conclusion excluding any possibility of evidentiary rebuttal. The sort of thing that gets one banned from Twitter and Facebook these days.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Didn't it occur to Ayer that the verification principle is itself not subject to falsification?


DeHereticoComburendo said...

The homosexual “hermeneutic” that we’re all gay is a type of argument sometimes referred to as a Morton’s Fork. Cardinal John Morton was tax collector in chief for the money-grubbing Henry VII and extracted funds from his victims by telling them: “Ah, I see you live lavishly. Well then, you must be rich, and can afford to pay generously to the King”…… and: “Ah, I see you live frugally. Therefore you must be saving your money, and can afford pay generously to the King”.

William Arthurs said...

^ AvB ^ Cherub

Bradley, in Appearance and Reality, discussing a earlier form of positivism, makes this very point about a metaphysical theory which announces that (inter alia) all metaphysical theories are meaningless: It contradicts itself. "And this one objection, to those who know, makes an end of the matter."

I don't suppose Ayer ever read Bradley. From Isaiah Berlin's regretful memoir of the early days of positivism, he and Ayer, as young dons, sounded as though they thought they had nothing to learn from reading any philosopher from before their own time.

Readers of this blog might ask their elderly relatives whether they ever heard Ayer giving a talk on the wireless in the 50s, and whether his "verification principle" turned them into atheists. I'm sure some of mine did !

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

This point about Ayer is just one of the many instances of the gross irrationality one finds in such modern institutions that compelled me to formulate the von Brandenburg principle:

"Most people at university should not be there and this includes academics."


P.S.: Concerning the late Cardinal-Archbishop of Canterbury, cf. King Richard III and the Rise of the House of Tudor.


Cosmos said...

As an American who reads and enjoys English authors such as Waugh and Le Carré, I find Father's perspective on homosexuality acts unsurprising. It seems like the default of the hyper-educated British.

Of course I agree with Father that a lot of good men, including Church Fathers, do seem to have a visceral reaction to such things (as well as certain heterosexual acts).

And there is a lot of space between "damning" someone for his indiffernt disposition, on the one hand, and smiling and nodding with approval, on the other!

Liam Ronan said...

The Liar's Paradox; "Everything I say is a lie."

Oliver Nicholson said...

Surely AJ Ayer mocked F.H. Bradley in a clever-clever way in Language Truth and Logic, though whether this amounts to reading him, I do not know.