Feser Insults (Insulted?) Parsons Again

If Edward Feser is not yet the JP Holding of theistic philosophers, he seems to be well on his way. I don’t always read his blog, but his latest item caught my attention.

God and Man at HuffPro

In that brief article, he links to this older article:

So you think you understand the cosmological argument?

I hadn’t seen that article before. In it, he makes the following statement, “Like every other academic field, philosophy of religion has its share of hacks and mediocrities.”

And the word “mediocrities” is hyperlinked to his previous attack on Keith Parsons:

The Brutal Facts about Keith Parsons

Like Parsons, I don’t have much to say, other than I think it’s rather sad to see a professional philosopher, such as Feser, use invective (or continue to endorse older posts where he used invective). To be clear, I am not saying that Feser relies upon invective in place of argument. But I find his abusive style of writing rather off-putting. By default, I assume that anyone who has a Ph.D. in something probably has insights about that topic. That includes Feser. If you’ll pardon the metaphor, I don’t want to dig through a dung pile to find nuggets of gold. (For the record, I’m not calling Feser’s posts a dung pile; I’m simply trying to use a graphic image to make my point.)

And I can’t be accused of writing this just because I am an atheist and Feser is a theist; I have been equally critical of fellow atheists who I thought were out of line.

Can’t we all just get along?

About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.

  • Keith Parsons

    Allow me to state plainly and unambiguously that I do not consider Ed Feser to be a mediocrity.

  • Keith Parsons

    Oh, and by the way, Jeff, though I appreciate your appeal to civility, please do not make one on my behalf. It makes my day when these types get nasty.

  • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

    It’s absurd of you to try and point the finger at Feser. His
    invective might upset those with weak stomachs. But if we are really
    concerned with invective, don’t we have people on the atheistic side of
    the discussion to hold responsible first?

    I’m going to assume that you do not read my posts on a regular basis. If you had, you would know that I do criticize fellow atheists when I think they are out of line. In fact, I mentioned this in my OP: “I have been equally critical of fellow atheists who I thought were out of line.”

    Honestly Jeffery, this doesn’t look like a reasoned critique. It’s just an excuse for you to take a cheap shot at a theist.

    1. Re: “reasoned critique”: I never tried to provide a reasoned critique of Feser’s arguments nor do I even suggest that I had done so.

    2. Re: “cheap shot”: You also apparently (?) missed this sentence in my OP: “To be clear, I am not saying that Feser relies upon invective in place of argument.” Let me say it as clearly as I can. Feser does provide arguments in addition to his invective. I just the find invective rather off-putting.

  • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/ Jeffery Jay Lowder

    1. Re: “Your critique of Feser”: I never tried to provide a reasoned
    critique of Feser’s arguments nor do I even suggest that I had done so. My post was solely intended to comment on Feser’s tone, not his substance.

    2. Re: “cheap shot”: Again, you apparently (?) missed this sentence in
    my OP: “To be clear, I am not saying that Feser relies upon invective in
    place of argument.” Let me say it as clearly as I can. Feser does provide arguments in addition to his invective. I just the find invective rather off-putting.

  • Keith Parsons

    I generally do not respond to personal attacks because, in defending yourself you inevitably sound defensive, and if you sound defensive, it creates the impression that there is something you need to defend yourself against. To counteract the impression of defensiveness, however, let me state again unequivocally that I could not possibly care less what people like Ed Feser think of me or what anybody convinced by his rhetoric thinks.

    Feser’s attack is based on one–one–brief quote from a comment posted here on SO. The rest of the piece consists of his conjecture about what I must or might or should or maybe or ought to think. Now Feser does mention one–one–paper that I have written and posted on the Secular Web, my response to Roy Abraham Varghese on cosmological arguments. However, he quotes nothing–nothing–from that paper and offers only his own statement of what he claims I claimed with no mention whatsoever of the arguments I offered there. It would, of course, have been very easy for Feser to find out what I really think. He could have asked me. I’m right here on SO; he knows where to find me. But, of course, he was only interested in eructing a diatribe.

    Feser also imputes to me vast ignorance of scholastic/Thomistic/Aristotelian concepts (actually, in grad school I had seminars on Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas–taught by a Dominican!– and medieval philosophy). There is an alternative hypothesis as to why I do not mention the scholastic/Thomistic/Aristotelian concepts. The alternative to ignorance is that I do not talk about those ideas because I think that they are crap. I focus on modern theists like Plantinga and Swinburne because I think that they represent the BEST that theism has to offer. You see, I have this idea, increasingly marginalized in this day and age, that when you criticize a position you should try to seek out the BEST defenses of that view and not spend time on arguments that you regard as long ago discredited.

    Of course, when you enter philosophy as a profession, you know that anything you say will be critically scrutinized. Comes with the territory. I am not the least bit sensitive about criticism. Paul Herrick wrote a 40+ page response to my piece on Varghese. I am, gradually and as time permits with many other duties, writing my response to Herrick. Instead of resenting Herrick’s polished and sophisticated critique, I welcome it, honored that so capable a philosopher would devote so much careful attention to my arguments. Criticism such as Herrick’s merits an equally thoughtful reply. Criticism such as Feser’s merits only the recommendation that the critic kiss my ass.


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