Intellectual schizophrenia as a symptom of a bad theory

Intellectual schizophrenia as a symptom of a bad theory March 29, 2020


Rays of light from Wikimedia CC
A public domain image of light from Wikimedia Commons


I continue to use my blog as an incentive to myself to type up notes from my reading and, therefore, as an inducement and aid to my own more formal (i.e., non-blog) writing.  In fact, I plan to do so more in the future than I have in the past.  (I have lots of projects in the works!)  I hope that these notes will be of interest to you as I share them.


In this entry, I draw some passages from Michael Augros, The Immortal in You: How Human Nature is More Than Science Can Say (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2017.)  Michael Augros is a Catholic thinker who holds a doctorate in philosophy from Boston College:


If modern science is blind to any radical differences between us and the beasts, that is not because there is no such difference, but because mainstream science, due to certain limitations in its methods and purposes, misses it.  (13)


If we say that you are made of atoms, or that you have and use a brain that obeys the laws of physics and chemistry, or that you are an animal, we will agree with what science says about you; we will in no way be forced to deny that you are also something more — for example, that you are a being capable of moral choices, good and bad.  If we go a step further and say that you are nothing but atoms, or that your actions are the products of nothing more than the laws of physics and chemistry, or that you are merely an animal, we are no longer just agreeing with what science says; we are adding negative claims besides, ones that science cannot in any way prove.  (14)


If you are nothing but an animal, or nothing but a collection of atoms, and certainly if you have no free will, there will be no objective measure or meaning to human goodness and wickedness.  That is the true consequence of the materialist’s picture of you.  And that consequence is patently absurd.  No one truly believes this doctrine, although many think they believe it, since it follows from other things they do believe.  Who, besides rapists (and not even all of them), believes that rape is neither better nor worse than any other human behavior?  When it comes to living their lives, materialists wish to act uprightly and expect to be treated fairly, as well as want to see punished those who do injustices to them and their loved ones.  They get righteously indignant about things.  They think (or think they think) in one world, and live (and really think) in another one entirely.  This intellectual schizophrenia is a symptom of a bad theory, the theory that you are “nothing but” molecules, “nothing but” neurons, “nothing but” an animal.  (14)



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