Mike: Hey there, and welcome to a new episode of Muscle for Life. I am your host, Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for another philosophical meandering with my buddy Pat Flynn, who has been on the show several times to talk many different things related to philosophy and religion, which are two abiding interests of his in addition to fitness.
So in the fitness world, Pat is known as a kettlebell expert. He’s a published author. He’s written a couple of books on kettlebells. He produces a lot of kettlebell content, has a lot of great kettlebell workouts. But in addition to that, he spends a lot of his time reading and thinking about philosophy and religion.
He has written books and academic papers on these things. And as I also find these topics interesting, I don’t know nearly as much about them as Pat does, but I like to learn about them. I have Pat on the show now and then, and these episodes have always gotten good feedback. And so here we are with another one where Pat and I talk about.
Worldviews and how our worldviews shape our lives and how we are all influenced by worldviews, whether we understand our worldviews or not, whether we can explicitly articulate them or not. And so I think it’s important to explore our worldviews and look at how we can expand them, how we can augment them, how we can make them more accurate reflections of reality.
Because before we interact with reality, we interact with a, a model of it in our mind, so to speak, that we use to make predictions about causes and effects. For example, if I go and do this, then. One of these three things should happen. These are the most likely outcomes. And on the flip side, if I am experiencing an effect, maybe an effect that I don’t like, I have a problem that I want to get rid of.
What are the most probable causes? What are the things that are likely causing this effect? And what can I do about those things? And if I take action, a, what is likely to happen if I take action? B, what is likely to happen? And so on and so on. And so our worldview forms a, a sort of bedrock for our reality.
And that reality dictates how we think. It dictates how we behave. It dictates our attitudes. It dictates what we believe is true and not true. And so those are some of the things that Pat and I are going to unpack as the Twitter audio like to say in this episode. Before we sink our teeth into it, do you want to transform your body, but you just can’t seem to break out of the rut?
Have you read books and articles, watched videos, listened to podcasts, but still just aren’t sure exactly how to put all the pieces together? For you, or maybe you know what to do, but you’re still struggling to stay motivated and on track and do the things that
Pat: you know you should do
Mike: well, if you are nodding your head, I understand getting into great shape is pretty straightforward when you know what to do, but it’s not easy.
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And guess what? We can probably do the same for you. Our service is not for everyone. But if you want to find out if it is right for you, if there is a fit, head on over to Muscle For life.show/vip. That is Muscle F O R Life Show slash vip and book your free consultation. Call now. Mr. Flynn is back. It’s been too long.
Pat: always a joy to be here and always a great sadness when I am not here, which as you’re right, it has been too long. Yep. Then
Mike: this is a special day. This is, this is one of the better days of the year. Maybe it is a special Tuesday. Indeed. Yeah. . Well, um, what are we here to talk about? We’re here to talk about worldviews and, um, this is, this is something that’s interesting to me at least, something that, uh, I’ve thought about.
I can’t say I’ve studied it rigorously like you have, but I do find it an interesting topic because of how high leverage it is. Like if you look at it maybe through the lens of, of systems theory and you have very high leverage aspects of systems, then you have much lower leverage aspects and, and up there is like rules, for example, the rules of the system.
How is this supposed to work? And on a personal level, worldview has to rank toward the top. If we’re looking at. Quality of life and how our worldview impacts our attitudes and how that impacts our emotions, how that impacts our behaviors, how that impacts our habits that ultimately determine the quality of our, of our life.
Right. And there’s a lot of emphasis these days on say, habits, and I think that’s great. It’s a very tactical place to start and you can, you can. Uh, market improvements to your fitness, for example, just making little habitual little changes to your habitual actions. But I think it’s also interesting to try to work at the other end of the spectrum, which is some of this deeper stuff that expresses.
Itself in many ways of our personality, our inclinations, and so forth. So I’m gonna stop there and, uh, give it over to you.
Pat: Sure. Right on. A little relevant background for the, uh, gentle listeners who are like, what the heck are these guys talking about? Right? Yeah. I’m
Mike: just try, I’m just trying to get more hench, uh, to use a word that you just shared with me.
Is this going to make me more hench? Yes or no?
Pat: It can, it can. I’ll make that, I’ll make that argument as, as we move along. Is heer.
Mike: Heer, is that, is that, can
Pat: we say that? I’d just like to say sufficiently hench Yes. How to become sufficiently hench. So, uh, for people who are somewhat familiar with me on your podcast, they’re probably mostly familiar with me in the kettlebell world of fitness content.
But my formal background’s actually philosophy. That’s not just where I received my education. Fitness has always been a very side, a deep side, interest in hobby. And I’m actually currently finishing my second book this year that is related to philosophy and it’s on, it’s on worldview comparison. And, um, from a philosophical perspective, a worldview is just sort of a big picture of reality.
Just think big picture. You couldn’t even think of it as like a philosophical theory of everything. Like, and this is the branch of philosophy that interests me most. Cuz it just seems like the most fundamental and, and the most important. We all have big questions that, that we ask just sort of very naturally about life.
You know, who are we, where are we from, where are we going? What’s the meaning of life? If there is a meaning of life, how are we to behave? How, how are to act? And I think the, the thing to impress right away is that all of us sort of have answers to these questions, either if we’re not very confident in them, as in we sort of live our lives out.
According to how we might answer those questions, right? We all sort of operate according to certain value assumptions, certain priorities. So all of us live according to a worldview. The question is, have you tried to work that worldview out? Have you tried to examine your assumptions? Have you tried to scrutinize them?
Have you tried to see if it’s something that you should engage in revising, right? Uh, to see if you have a sort of accurate, big picture of everything. And that’s sort of what a lot of philosophers are up to, especially in the branch of philosophy that interests me most, which is philosophy of religion.
That’s a sort of misleading title for that branch philosophy, cuz not. Everybody who engages in philosophy of religion is a religious person. You do have religious people, but you also have atheists and agnostics. But it’s a sort of branch of philosophy that that tries to do. This sort of worldview construction or, or comparison tries to really be systematic in a philosophical approach in terms of bringing all the other branches of philosophy together, of which there are many, you know, there’s metaphysics which tries to understand the structure of being logic, the structure of thought ethics, the structure of a human good life, if there is one.
Philosophical anthropology. What is the structure of a human person, right? So philosophers think about a lot of different things, but a good, a good sort of worldview project should be one that hopefully can make the most sense of the most amount of. And the data being like the very common experiences of existence that we all have access to, we don’t, and by common experiences of existence, I mean stuff that you don’t need, like specialized training or equipment to access could be very general for philosophers.
Like things like, Hey, it seems like change occurs, right? What is change? Right. Just thinking deeply about that, that’s a very common experience. That’s something Aristotle thought a lot about. And then trying to construct some sort of theory that can explain the most hopefully with the fewest commitments.
Right? And that’s sort of a very scientific assumption. Philosophers and scientists often operate in similar ways where you just try and come up with a theory that you think predicts or anticipates the data and hopefully isn’t, isn’t too complicated. And then you try and compare that theory to other theories.
And it’s different than than science because it’s using more than what the scientific project is restricted to. It’s using more than just empirical verification and, and stuff like that. But yeah, that’s that, that’s what philosophers are up to. And, and these
Mike: days just consensus, you know, that’s all sciences.
Now it’s just consensus,
Pat: you know. Sure. Consensus, right? And, and now it doesn’t exclude that stuff. A lot of that stuff, it, you know, philosophers are always looking at, Hey, what is the scientific consensus? Or what is the scientific research in certain areas? But it, it won’t necessarily restrict itself to that.
Now, some philosophers do, but that’s, that’s a worldview. Some philosophers hold a worldview that would say, we should only consider things that sort of come out of. Scientific method, right? That is a particular position that some philosophers hold. I think that’s wrong. We’ve actually talked about that before.
I think it’s, it’s too, too restrictive. So, yeah. So the, the, the point being is even if a lot of people haven’t thought about this explicitly, it’s sort of like philosophy in general, you know, philosophers like to say, especially when like philosophy is attacked of like, why is this important? Who cares?
Right? Your philosophers are just weird people. We often like to point out that everybody’s sort of engaged in philosophy, whether they admit it or not. It’s not something you can avoid. It’s only something you can avoid doing. Well, same thing with, with this sort of worldview project. It really is just sort of, you know, philosophy and everybody’s got a worldview.
The worldview often sort of structures how we live our lives. So it seems to be something we’re sort of stuck with. And if we’re stuck with it, then just seems right to me that we should try to do the best we can at getting the right worldview. Mm-hmm. . And so
Mike: what is a worldview? How do you define that
Yeah. I think the best thing to do would just be, give examples of different worldviews, right? So big pictures or big theories of reality. Uh, probably the, the, the widest divides, uh, at least historically would be something like a sort of say naturalistic versus super naturalistic worldview, right? So going.
Way, way, way back. As far back as you go in into philosophy, you have sort of worldviews that are say, very much richer about the types of things that exist and what’s at fundamental reality and, and how that explains everything above it. Say theistic worldviews, people who, who believe in God and stuff like that.
And then you have sort of very much thinner worldviews, right? That just, just wanna say whatever else is sort of at fundamental reality. It’s not, it’s not any sort of, Supreme being or personal entity, or it’s not even anything with awareness or consciousness, it’s actually just some sort of principle of indifference.
And you see this, again, going way, way back to the ancient atomist. But again, you see that in modern times with modern forms of materialism and stuff like that, and reductionism and physicalism. So those would be examples of worldviews. But then of course, worldviews can become more particularized. So you might have like these broad camps.
Okay, here’s a sort of maybe a theistic worldview or an atheistic worldview. But even within the theistic worldview, you have many different theories that particularize it. So, so maybe you’re sort of a monotheist or a classical theist. Maybe you’re a pantheist or panentheist, right? Maybe you’re even a polytheist.
I haven’t encountered too many of them these days, but, uh, that’s, uh, an option that’s been out there. What’s
Mike: the difference between polytheism and pantheism?
Pat: Uh, so pantheism, broadly speaking is the notion that whatever else God is, God, it sort of just is the universe, right? That we might all be parts of God in a sense where mono, traditional monotheism wants to hold that God is.
Radically distinct or transcendent of the universe. Universe is something created not part of God, right? Polytheism just means many gods in like a lowercase g uh, sense like that, right? Uh, but even within atheism you have many different, uh, theories of, of atheism because what we’re looking for is not just, this is something that kind of confuses people on a popular level.
Cause sometimes I’ll talk to atheism, but like, I don’t have to prove anything to you cuz I just don’t believe in God. I’m like, that’s not really what philosophers are up to, right? I don’t really care about your psychological state. What I care about is a theory that’s meant to make sense of the world.
So put something on the table in terms of a theory and then let’s have a conversation. So when you talk to more sophisticated atheists, they tend to have some sort of theory. Right. The tr a theory that is competitive with other theories, and that is meant to sort of explain everything, right? If it’s a worldview, it’s meant to try and make sense of, of all of human experience, from consciousness to rationality, to morality and so on and so forth, right?
So, yeah, that’s probably the best way to understand what a worldview is, is just by giving examples of it. So you might have a sort of reductive materialism, right? Where again, whatever else the world is, it’s gonna be something that sort of reduces to levels of reality that are, that are much lower and that.
Fundamentally sort of indifferent, right? And then that other realities sort of emerge or vee or, or come out of those realities through various combinations of them and stuff like that. It gets pretty technical obviously, once you get into the weeds of it. But does that, does that help just kind of comparing and contrasting the different, uh, it includes things
Mike: though outside of religion.
I mean, a lot of people, they might consider themselves agnostic, where they’re open to the idea of, uh, a spiritual aspect of existence, whether it’s a monotheistic worldview or something else. They’re also open to the possibility of materialism, but it’s not something they’ve thought about much or studied much.
It’s, it’s obviously not, they, they have often, in my experience, Their lives are consumed with the stuff that our lives get consumed with. Right.
Pat: That’s a good point. I just wanna make it known that there, there are, I don’t know how many, but, uh, quite a number of, um, people in philosophers, right, who would say, yeah, I think a theistic worldview is correct.
Uh, but they don’t sign on any religion. They would just be called like broadly philosophical theists or something like that.
Mike: Right. Two questions. One, do you start there because you think that is the most fundamental layer, so to speak, of a worldview? Or is it just something that you’re obviously very interested in personally, but there are other aspects, of course, to a worldview, aside from just
Pat: what are your religious beliefs?
Oh, yeah, totally. Well, I think, uh, if you have religious beliefs, this sort of worldview project can certainly be either very helpful or harmful. Right? I’m somebody who, for background, I’ve, I’ve changed my worldview, uh, a number of times. You know, I was, I was sort of starting out in velocity, very much a naturalistic, atheistic type of person.
And then as I got deeper, deeper into it, I came out on almost the completely opposite end of the spectrum. But how, that’s a good question, right? So when I first started really getting interested in philosophy, it was political philosophy that interested me the most in an alt alter at
Mike: Universe, there’s a communist, uh, pat Flynn out.
Pat: The, yeah, in the multiverse, right? We could talk about, hey, there’s worldviews that hold to a multiverse, right?
Mike: Who never found his way to theism and he just stuck with atheism and doesn’t wear a blue hat, but has blue hair.
Pat: I don’t know if I’d like to meet that person. Actually. I probably would have a deep conversation with him.
But anyway. So say you’re in political philosophy and you’re trying to determine what you think is the right political philosophy. Well, all sorts of questions crop up around that. Generally, people think about, uh, political philosophies and political theories as trying to facilitate some good, right.
Particularly the, the good of human life. I mean, political philosophy has to do with the affairs of men, generally speaking, and it’s aiming towards some good, so political philosophy immediately is operating a a upon a foundation of something more basic, which is to say moral philosophy, right? So I would say you can’t really do good political philosophy.
Unless you’ve sort of examined your moral philosophy and ethical philosophy, and of course moral and ethical philosophy. If we’re talking about the good, we’re talking about the good of something in particular. So first off, does it even make sense to talk about the good of things? That itself is something that’s hotly debated.
But suppose there is, then we’re talking about the good of the human person or human society. So now we’re getting now to figure out what the good is of that. We kind of have to understand what the heck is that , right? Mm-hmm. . And that gets you into philosophical anthropology and all this other stuff, right?
So you can see how everything’s sort of connected and everything matters. So what I, what I realized is, is through the one branch philosophy that I was really interested in, a younger age, I’m still interested in now, but I spend much less time on it now, political philosophy. If I wanted to get clear on my thinking on that, I had to study moral philosophy, right?
And philosophical anthropology. But even ethical questions end up becoming sort of metaphysical questions like we said. Like what? What does it mean to say that that something is good? And we have these sort of value judgements and value assessments. What makes sense of that? Does anything ground that? Is there a particular worldview where this type of, these type of language and these assumptions and these intuition, Makes sense.
If so, what is that worldview? What are the range of options there and are there other worldviews that seem incompatible or intention with these assumptions and stuff like that? So my, my path was starting in one branch of philosophy fairly quickly, realizing how deeply interconnected that is to other branches of philosophy and being driven to, I think the most fundamental level, which is metaphysics.
Worldview comparison and design and, and stuff like that. And oftentimes, you often start with data and allow that data to determine a theory. It can also be the case that your theory determines your data as well in important respects. We can get into that as as we move along. But yeah, I think, I think this, where I focus now is probably the most fundamental level and to me the most interesting that if you wanna get clarity on everything else, you should spend at least a fair amount of time there.
Mike: And how might people, if we take that to kind of, you know, practical examples, how might people work their way toward that? Like, for example, I’ll throw something out there. Maybe the concept of personal responsibility. This is controversial and there seems to be two schools of thought there in the mainstream.
You have a lot of people who they very much support that. And e, even someone like Jocko Wilin has popularized through extreme ownership, right? Like extreme personal responsibility. And then you have another camp who would argue the exact opposite. Maybe something like that. For example, you know, the, these kinda like, there are two types of people in the world type of scenarios, you know what I mean?
Pat: Yeah. So this is a good example. This is, I mean, this gets into a question of free will. Yeah. So I mean, again, if you’re into the responsibility thing, you’re kind of operating according to assumption. An assumption, which I think is a very basic assumption that humans have at least some degree of autonomy or freedom of the will.
Right? That we have some ability to sort of contingently self determine ourselves. It’s not, we’re not just a matter of sort of history passing through us. Right. Um, And whether you think that that is a plausible theory or assumption, obviously greatly depends on your worldview. And in fact, there’s a reason that most materialists are determinists cuz they think that you just sort of have these initial conditions and then you have these laws and whatever the mix of that is either absolutely determines some particular outcome or fixes the probabilities of a particular outcome.
And on that worldview, it becomes very difficult to make sense of freedom of the will cuz either there is no freedom will things are completely determined or things are sort of random, right? In an objective probability sense. But there’s no sort of like fundamental top-down control that I as a human person would seem to have over the sort of deeper physics, right?
But it’s important. That’s not a conclusion of science. That’s not a conclusion of science. That’s using some science in conjunction with a particular theory of everything or theory of the world. So this is beyond a scientific debate, right? But there are other worldviews, I would say, namely non reductive worldviews, which wanna say no, actually substances are more fundamental.
There’s such a thing as a human substance that there is a sort of top down power that we have to contingently determine ourselves. Most people hold these theories would say there has to be some sort of immaterial aspect about us that is not sort of reduc. To physics. Right. And traditionally that has been considered from going back to all the way to Aristotle and contemporary philosophers, the intellect, the human intellect, and the space of reasons and abstract thought.
Because the argument
Mike: is, if that’s purely material, then that lends itself to a deterministic
Pat: worldview. Yeah. It would seem like if, if, if we don’t have that sort of immaterial aspect, we, we would slide into a sort of determinism, right? So we can, we can argue out those positions if we want. But the point, the fundamental point is you can see how most people certainly live their lives as if they have some degree.
Uh, and I say some degree cuz nobody thinks we’re completely autonomous. Obviously our environment and things influence us in certain respects, but we do think that we have enough autonomy that we can have actual, not just moral responsibility, that we’re responsible for some things, but moral culpability where we’re actually like praise or blameworthy for certain things.
Right. And this goes beyond not just fitness, but our entire criminal justice system and, and all that. Right. And again, this isn’t to deny that there could be, Overriding circumstances where somebody’s free will because of some type of disease or injury is, is significantly impaired. Are are,
Mike: are you, are you saying that there are exceptions to rules?
Is that what you’re saying? I don’t know how many times. It’s weird. It’s like a. You know, the NPC meme, the internet joke meme of, uh, if this is a simulation, some people are player characters with free will. Other people are the non-player characters who just run, there’s basically no consciousness there.
They just run on scripts. And there, there, there’s like this recurring theme in, I joke npc kind of mid wit argumentation, which is this point of you state a rule, they state one exception to the rule. And, and then it’s like, check Nate bitch. Like, what do you mean not all Xs are like that? And
Pat: like, wait, wait.
Yeah. What about that person with a giant brain tumor that couldn’t help but do that thing? Yeah. Therefore, no rule.
Mike: Wait, you mean my general, my, my, my vast generalization isn’t true. Literally in every case. Universally.
Pat: Oh my God. The thing that’s annoying about that is the sort of the, the arrogance that these people have is like, look, The smartest people throughout all of history have thought about these matters.
You think they didn’t consider that one exception or all the exceptions? Right. You think this stuff hasn’t been thought about? There’s one thing that I’ve learned about philosophy. There’s like no thought, however obscure that hasn’t been deeply thought about. Right? So just a little humility goes a long way in these types of, of conversations.
Right. But yeah, if you think that there is a such thing as personal responsibility and say libertarian freedom of the will, and that it, it makes sense to hold people in certain circumstances, even if not all as, uh, culpable, then I would say you have reason to look for a worldview. That can make sense of that data, that can secure that data.
Mike: least isn’t, that doesn’t contradict
Pat: it, right? I mean, right. Yeah. And you know, you can always revise a theory by bringing in like adjunct hypotheses and stuff like that, but then we think that that makes a theory more complicated and less believable and and stuff like that. So, I mean, this is part of the reason I gave up materialism as a worldview for, I think that there’s tons of things materialism cannot adequately explain, and many materialists don’t even try to explain those things.
They don’t explain the data, they eliminate it. They’ll say things like, free will is an illusion, or morality is an illusion. I think that’s actually the right way to go on that theory, but I think it’s the wrong way to go in terms of the truth of the matter, right? The truth of the matter is there’s certain data that cannot even be coherently denied.
And if your theory is forcing you to eliminate that data, then you should say to hell with the theory, not to hell with the data, right? Mm-hmm.
Mike: Not to go on a tangent, but you run into some of that. If you look into the ongoing debate about climate change, and particularly our role in it, humanity’s role in it, there’s, there’s no debate that I’m aware of among experts that climate is changing and that, um, temperatures have been rising.
The debate is about, CO2 S impact and particularly our, our impact. And you find quite a few examples of that. I’ve looked into both sides of that argument a bit. Just try to understand it better. And some of it gets too technical and I don’t know if dueling experts are throwing jargon back and forth, like, how am I supposed to know which expert is
You know, one thing we look at in terms of how do we even compare ri rival theories? Well, one is, one is does it make accurate predictions? We don’t just mean about in the future. Cuz sometimes you have theories of history where it might predict something and then later we discover. Archeological evidence of that’s something, and we think that that actually count.
And same thing with with physics, right? So prediction doesn’t necessarily mean something that happens in the future. It’s like, really we’re asking how likely would we expect to see this phenomena if this theory is true versus some other, some other theory or something like. But that’s just one criteria.
We also think about fit with background knowledge and criteria of simplicity is very big in, in, um, in philosophy. Like how, how simple is this theory? And that that is an ironically complicated debate. Anything dealing with simplicity and philosophy is, is is horrendously complicated, right?
Mike: Yeah. Obviously the more patchwork kind of piecemeal it is, uh, the, the worse it is.
I think that
Pat: now. You mentioned, you know, experts in doing experts and stuff like that. And that, that’s an interesting thing that philosophers think about, you know, this notion of like epistemic peers or rivals, especially for layman. Like if there’s, you know, somebody who seems super well qualified and there’s another person who seems super well qualified and they like totally disagree, like, well, what are you to do?
I mean, well, one thing you can do is just try and rope your sleeves and get into the debate and evaluate it yourself. But you can’t do that for everything. Obviously. You can’t. That’s, that’s, that’s unrealistic. I think you can, and maybe should try to do it for the things that like really matter to you and are, are important to you.
Right? Um, or you could look at consensus. I don’t think consensus is a bad thing unless you have reasons to think that there might be some sort of what’s called a bully consensus in the literature. Some consensus that is not formed through, say, independent. Relatively unbiased research programs and investigation, but might have forces that aren’t so wholesome.
Right. Political forces, social pressure, something like that. So, yeah, so I mean, appeals to authority, people like that. So a fallacy, it’s not totally a fallacy. It might not be the strongest reason to believe something. There’s other things to consider and if there’s, there’s questions to think that a consensus or an a an authority might be not reliable in a certain instance, you, you have to figure out other ways to try and get to the bottom of it.
And again, I’m extracting this from the whole climate controversy and trying to make general principles of it, of how people should just learn to think through issues. Cuz there’s, I mean, there’s so many issues like this. Like we can’t be experts in everything. Right. And PR take pretty much, pretty much anything.
You’ve got fairly significant disagreement, right? There’s, there’s very few, very few disciplines.
Mike: I mean, look, in fitness, there’s still an ongoing argument about energy balance. Like, and it’ll probably never end. It
Pat: probably will never end history of philosophy. I mean, if you go to Decart, I mean he recognizes, so re Renee Decart, part of what motivated his project, I’ll explain it real quickly, is he like, he was actually like really impressed with this sort of consensus and agreement that was found in like mathematics, right?
And he. I wanna do that with everything else, right? So I want that sort of consensus and agreement. What do they call that? Uh, what’s the, what’s the term Physics envy? I mean, but then, then again, you do have people out there that will deny even the truths of logic and two plus two equaling four and stuff like that.
So you will find people that like that, that de deny this stuff, right? So you’ve got all sorts of weird stuff, but, but generally, Decart was in a very pluralistic society, even for his time. Imagine what he would’ve thought about our time. So he is like, I’m gonna kind of start philosophy over. I’m going to doubt everything that can be doubted as a method, and I’m gonna kinda get down to this indubitable and incorrigible thing that cannot be doubted.
This is his famous cogito. I think therefore I am, and then I’m gonna use just like hard hitting, deductive arguments to just build everything back up from the ground up. And then there’s gonna be no more disagreement. That’s a romanticized version of it. Of, of course. And, you know, he failed. He failed, obviously, quite already.
But it’s, it’s romantic what he was wanting to do. But the point is, that’s just a romantic notion that Dakar’s project. Is not something that succeeded or even could succeed. And to get to the truth of, of things in different matters is often very difficult. It’s very complicated. Experts certainly can help, but there’s also reasons in certain circumstances and situations when you have dueling experts or unreliable or questionable authorities and stuff like that, which just makes all, I don’t have good answers to any of that.
It’s just judge just pointing out the complications of the world we live in. Right? Mm.
Mike: It’s tough. I mean, sometimes you, you can find reasons to doubt people’s motives or if you know, for example, just a stupid example, but if somebody has been caught lying brazenly about things multiple times. That’s a reason to, to distrust them in this case.
I mean, I think too, who is that? Um, he was in the uk, believe he was an epidemiologist in the uk. His modeling was the primary justification for the first, for the lockdowns. Remember he was then caught having an affair, breaking his own rules, , that he was imposing on all of the little people to go screw some woman.
And then he kind of runs away in disgrace and then they bring him back a year or two later when they figure people already forgot
Pat: about it. Like, yeah. So I mean, like these things are, are interesting. I mean, you always wanna be careful of like, of fallacies, right? So first you wanna show that somebody is wrong before you start to try and analyze them psychologically, right?
Maya was just like, Hey, if somebody puts up, uh, an economic model, uh, some theory, it just would probably not be right to. I don’t believe anything you say because you cheated on your wife, obviously he could be having an affair and still have a good theory. Well, it
Mike: was more the hypocrisy, the affair is, is actually not even the point.
It was the hypocrisy. It was, we all, you all need to do this. This is so important. I don’t need to do it. Something, things like that are just red flags. That’s all, that’s all I’m saying.
Pat: Well, yeah. Yeah. Right. And, and I, I, I am familiar with that, with those, you know, predictive failures, but the details allude me at this.
More important of course
Mike: is that we found out his modeling software was garbage and did not predict like that’s more important. I understand
Pat: coming at it from the other perspective and then we can cycle back into the responsibility thing if we want, is if somebody does have a completely like crazy view and you, and you have refuted it and shown that it’s false, then I think that there might be some interest and maybe even usefulness to kind of examine like why?
Why would somebody believe that? Right. It just seems so crazy. I don’t know. Maybe there’s a psychological reason. Maybe they, maybe it was daddy issues or something like that. Right? But that’s coming after. After you’ve shown that it’s crazy. Ludicrous. Definitely false, right? Otherwise you kind of get in this, see us, Lewis called it the fallacy of bism trying to explain why somebody is wrong without first showing that they are wrong, right?
And you see that fallacy committed all the time. Now again, there are rules and when it comes to. Informal versus formal fallacies and logic. They’re a lot, they’re a lot more subtle. This is the problem when somebody just like goes and like takes one semester in logic and then they go and start trying to call out all these fallacies.
If you’ve been in philosophy for a while, it’s, you’ll, you’ll realize it’s a lot more subtle than that to really try and pin somebody, especially on an informal fallacy because of all the, the, the context around on it. But yeah, you’ll see that this is a fallacy that’s often committed all the time, this fallacy of bru, whereas people will start trying to give some type of psychological reasons of why you’re wrong, completely ignoring whether you actually are wrong in the first place.
Right. Yeah, no, I
Mike: agree with that. Um, but, but coming back to personal responsibility, so I, I offered that because, To my mind that is an element of a worldview, kind of, of a higher order. And there are so many things that happen downstream of that or can happen. And what are your thoughts though, about? So one of the guys, uh, who works with me is, uh, he’s a smart dude and he’s been with me for a while and very hard worker.
He’s just a good guy. He’s one of those guys. He’s just a good guy. He has a family and he, he loves his family and he takes care of his family and he’s a hard worker and blah, blah, blah. We all have, nobody’s perfect, but he is a good guy. I don’t think he would consider himself, he’d probably say he’s agnostic and his position on a lot of this stuff is, he hasn’t really thought about it.
Do you really need to believe that there is an ultimate meaning to just do the right things, to be a good. ,
Pat: I mean, oh, that’s already assuming there are right things and it makes sense to say that you could be a good guy, right? So it’s sort of already there in the background for him. And I would say, you need to bring that stuff out, man, right?
Yeah. Mm-hmm. . Now, in his case though,
Mike: why, how could he benefit from, for example, because he is already, he’s already doing the good guy thing. Maybe he, he could do, do
Pat: it better or, all right. Uh, you open, you opened up the can of worms here, right? I mean, to say that you’re a good person, I mean, there’s a lot of ways to analyze that.
So let’s just say that it, it actually does make sense to say that you’re a good person or you live a, a good human life, right? So let’s say we’re moral realists, meaning that there are true moral claims that that can be made, right? That there are moral facts in the world. Some world views tend towards a, a moral anti realism or an error theory, and they’ll say that, nah, sort of, all of the moral belief are just delusions sort of programmed into us through selection pressures and stuff like that.
I think that. View is totally false and ultimately self undermining. But it’s not the view your buddy is operating on. It’s not the view you’re operating on. It’s not the view that the vast majority of people operating on. And in fact, it’s not even the view that most people who believe that view operating on, it’s almost impossible to live consistently with that.
So there’s always a sort of performative contradiction going on there. So, I mean, think about it this way, right? So Aristotle, he’s pretty well known, right? He’s got his Nick and McKeean ethics and he thinks that to, to have a good life, right? A sort of full human existence. And he uses the term happiness.
But I think a better translation might be excellence or flourishing. Cuz our modern notion of happiness is kind of like very much tied with, am I feeling like I have enough serotonin today? And that’s totally not. Yeah. Did I, did
Mike: I take my meds today, ,
Pat: that’s right. That’s totally not the way that Aristotle’s thinking about it, right?
He’s really thinking that the, that the whole of the good, a good life is, is really kind of like a symphony first. You can’t really judge it until it’s done. But a good life is gonna sort of be marked by certain virtues, right? Which are perfections of our powers. We have a good life to the, to the extent that we sort of most fully actualize the powers that are relevant to the type of being that we are.
And of course, the most preeminent power is rationality. Um, okay. There’s a lot to, to unpack in that and people can, can and should read the Nick and McKeean ethics if you’re interested in ethical thinking and moral thinking. That’s a, there’s, there’s no excuse not to read that. And in fact, if you want some help with that, I’ve currently doing a series on the nick and ethics with my friend, uh, Dr.
Jim Madden on my philosophy for the People channel. Uh, actually we’re done with it. We did Nick and McKen ethics, now we’re doing Aristotle’s politics. Right? But there are other people who disagree with that, right? There’s other people who hold this sort of, who, who don’t necessarily think that Aristotle’s view is entirely wrong.
They just feel that it’s incomplete, right? In the sense that there, there’s more than just this life. And ultimately what determines whether you have a good life or not is if you’re conformable to the ultimate good, which they would hold as God, right? And this is a traditional religious perspective, right?
So from a traditional religious perspective, how you sort of live this life. And whether you form yourself in a right way. Usually this is thought about in terms of natural law theory or virtue ethics, right? We’ll determine sort of what you will choose in the next life as your sort of eternal perfected state, right?
And ultimately, whether you have a good life. Ultimately, we’ll be determined how it winds up. In the next life, right? So there’s, there’s no guarantee of what you’re kind of, of how you’re thinking about the good life. Now let me conditional it. If that worldview is right, then there’s a lot more to think about and there’s a lot of reason why that matters cuz there’s a sort of e internality component of it, right?
I mean, if that,
Mike: if that were true, then it would be hard to come up with anything more
Pat: important than that, obviously. Yeah, of course. Right. And that is a very traditional religious perspective. Right. And I think that perspective has actually a lot going for it. Right. And, uh, what you, and so yeah, we should be thinking about this life in relation to what comes next.
And Aristotle’s project, while useful in some, there’s actually great debate, uh, even among Ris scholars of whether he thought the human persisted after bodily death or not. He did thi he did seem to think that the, we, we had this immaterial power, but it’s debated of whether he thought that, that that persisted at, at death or not.
Right? Play-Doh definitely did, but he’s got a very different theory of the human person. But Play-Doh, same thing. Right? You don’t even have to make it religious. Play-Doh really thought that the sort of ultimate meaning of life, that the good life would be to escape the cave and to kind of conform yourself to the good, right.
Eternally. Right. So your question was, how, how do I guess motivate somebody like that or to think about why that’s, that’s important? Well, I just thought his perspective
Mike: was, was interesting in that he’s doing these things. He’s naturally inclined. He doesn’t have to force himself to be a good guy. He’s just somebody who’s always been naturally inclined that
Yeah, but good towards good according to what? CRI Criterion system. That’s the question. Yeah. You might be pulling some cats down from trees and paying your bills on time and you know, not like systematically being dishonest, um, or cheating on your wife. And don’t get me wrong, all those are good things, but does that mean you’re living in overall good existence?
Cuz you might be failing in other. More important things, uh, for example, that are so significant that on the whole you might not wind up living an overall good life. Now, again, before people start freaking out and screeching about that, I’m conditional it, I’m saying if a certain worldview is true, those would be the implications, right?
But then if other worldviews are true, the whole notion of a good life is meaningless. It doesn’t matter. , there is no such thing as a good life, right? So you might as well just, you know, kind of just be a rank hedonist and just do, do whatever, do whatever pleasures you can get away with, right? So the thing is, he’s already operating and you were too.
It had a sort of standard or criti criteria in mind. And maybe you’ve drawn that out. Maybe you’ve fleshed that out. Maybe, maybe you haven’t, but it’s there, right? And what the philosopher wants to do is like, let’s, let’s bring that out. Let’s take a look at it. Let’s see if that’s good. Let’s see if that is, that does make sense and that’s a good criteria or not because a lot of people might, could easily rationalize and think that they are meeting a, a criteria and that it’s the right criteria, but it might not be, and to me it’s just, uh, minimally, it’s like it’s worth asking the question.
Mike: Yeah. Are there, are there some other, again, higher order elements of worldviews that you think are, are worth thinking about? Again, I brought up personal responsibility just because at a practical level, what I’ve found is that generally speaking, people who, they don’t just pay lip service to personal responsibility, but to give an example, you, you have some people, something bad happens to ’em, somebody does something to them that, that harms them.
If some people who refuse to even consider what they did, Might have contributed to that situation that might have instigated the harmful action. It’s blame the other person. They are the victim. They are committed to that mentality. And then you have people who instinctively go in the other direction where they, they’re not saying that it was okay for that person to do what they did, but they instinctively can acknowledge their role in whatever happened.
It’s so obvious and easy to do in interpersonal relations if random bad things happened to you, that that would be a more difficult scenario to, to kind of pick apart. But somebody does something bad to you in response to maybe something you did to them, for example. You have those two types of people and the people in the latter camp, in my experience, generally do better in life.
They just, the people who default to, again, to this point of like, what can I control and how did I contribute to unwanted circumstances? Of course, then they’re able to start figuring out how to improve those circumstances. So that’s just an example of something that I think is very practical. And I’m just curious if there are some other examples of these higher order things that like if you pick one, chances are.
Your life is gonna be more difficult.
Pat: Yeah. And look, again, it can be one of those things where there’s a sort of perversity at play, right? Maybe somebody has a sort of this deep victim mentality and maybe there’s a narcissism there. So then they wanna go pick up the worldview that they think supports that, rather than the worldview that’s best supported by the data, right?
I think a useful here is just like, let’s compare examples, right? Let’s take what people are into stoicism right now. And I think stoicism has a lot of good stuff in it, especially just Reeb like Epic, Titus, and. Seneca for sure. Like there’s a lot of good stuff there, right? But Aristotle criticize stoics cuz you know, stoics are all like, it’s not about what happens to you, it’s, it’s just about how you respond to it.
Again, overly simplify, but that’s kinda general thrust and Aristotle’s like, actually it’s a little more complicated than that. A good life is yes. How you respond to things and the virtues you develop, but let’s be honest, it helps to have a little bit of wealth and some friends as well, right? . Right. And some luck.
And Aristotle’s all about that, right? He’s such a realist. He’s so realistic, right? So yeah, determinism seems like you’re not gonna be able to make sense of the responsibility thing. The stoicism also seems a little bit unrealistic. Like some, some people just really are, and like, I don’t care. There’s, uh, like how much grit you think you have.
Like some, so many bad things could happen to you that you’re just not gonna have an overall good existence, at least in this. Aristotle recognized that, so did Thomas Aquinas, and that’s part of what Aristotle thought was the importance of politics was to kind of secure the wider conditions. This is even more in explicit in Aquinas so that we can help the most number of people have a chance to have a really good life.
Right. That’s sort of the aim of the political project, is to secure those sort of circumstantial conditions to help the most number of people have a really good life to, you know, contingently self determine themselves in a way that actually is really good and maybe we can better their chances of like the really awful stuff, random stuff happening to them.
Right. I think that’s the right. Worldview. Right. But I also think it’s a nuanced worldview enough where we can have a sincere empathy in want to help people who really actually are victims. Cause we don’t wanna deny that there are victims in the world, people who just suffer from natural disasters or, uh, other moral evils that people commit.
Like they really are victims, right? But not everybody is a victim in every circumstance. That’s clearly ridiculous. There are some things that we really could have willed to avoid and other bad situations that we get in because of, uh, of our failure to have willed better. Right. To have, have willed better.
Mike: We had so many opportunities to do things to avert whatever happened, and we took none of them.
Pat: Right. And you might even get yourself into such a bad state that, and this is going back to Aquinas, that he thinks there’s no way, sort of like divine intervention you’re getting out of it. Same with Aristotle.
Aristotle was really pessimistic. He thought probably by the time you were 30, if you didn’t have virtue, you’re just, you’re, you’re outta luck. Sorry. Right. Certainly for a lot of these sinkers, they wanna say you’re still kind of culpable for that because there was a lot of chances before that, right?
Where you could have corrected ship. So even if you can’t correct ship now, like you’re literally stuck in this sort of abyss of vice because you’ve so sort of twisted yourself in on yourself, right? Your will so distorted. And when we talk about virtues and vices, you have to realize that these are habits, right?
A virtue is a good habit. A habit that perfects or powers, vices are very bad habits. And we know that certain vices can really be extremely constraining. And even beyond that, addictions and stuff like that, right? So again, these thinkers thought about these exceptions, like a people who get so messed up either through a series of choices that they, they could have made differently or through things that happen to them, right?
But realizing that the world is sufficiently complicated, that it’s both not right to think that. Every bad thing that happens to every person is their own fault or that it’s the fault of something entirely outside of themselves. The right position is a much more nuanced position. I think that takes all that into account that very often people are culpable for, you know, the bad in their lives.
Not always it, it’s an interesting
Mike: concept. I’m sure you have lots to, to say about that. Generally speaking, it’s a smarter choice to live as if you are culpable for everything that happens to you rather than, rather than the opposite or leaning heavily in the other direction where your, your attitude is, most of what happens to me is not my fault and is everyone else’s fault and is, uh, the patriarchy’s fault.
And it might not be true, but what if you lived, if as
Pat: it were true, right? Yeah. Um, no, like certainly I agree. Like it just seems far. Far healthier and far more conducive to what I think a good life is to just assume that you actually have control over a, a lot of the things that that happened to you, which I think is pretty obvious that we do.
Although not all of them, especially how we respond to the things. Maybe we can’t control everything that happens to us, but oftentimes we can control how we respond and react to it. Right. However, I, I would wanna avoid the other extreme of thinking that we have this sort of maximal autonomy. Cuz I actually think that humility itself is a virtue, right?
So I think the right disposition is, I’m gonna do the best I can, but still graciously accept help and realize when I need help from sources beyond myself, right? Whatever, whatever that means. So that’s, that’s how I would, uh, position that, right? Because otherwise you could, yeah, I guess commit a sin against the virtue of humility, if you wanna put it that way.
Hey there. If you are hearing this, you are
Mike: still listening, which is awesome. Thank you. And if you are enjoying this podcast, or if you just like my podcast in general and you are getting at least something out of it, would you mind sharing it with a friend or a loved one or a not so loved one even who might want to learn something new?
Word of mouth helps really bigly in growing the show. So if you think of someone who might like this episode or another one, please do tell them about it. So my next question is then how much do you think, uh, someone’s worldview is really just a reflection of who they are? You know, I, I get a little bit cynical sometimes about people’s ability to really change fundamentally.
And I have to say, I, I, I can think of many more examples of people generally changing for the worst. Like, whatever is dysfunctional, just becoming more prevalent in whatever’s functional, shrinking over time. It’s always, we all have these things. It’s easier to see it in others than it is ourselves, blah, blah, blah.
Of course. But, you know, also, I wonder sometimes, uh, how much we can really change our worldviews based on who we are fundamentally, which doesn’t seem. Change much no matter what we do. What are your thoughts on that? Like how much are, are even I think of p uh, a person’s politics and how much of that is really just a
Pat: reflection of who they are?
Bring, bring up another really controversial topic. Go ahead, Mike. Yeah. Oh, it’s, I was just
Mike: gonna use communism. It’s not that controversial. Not yet, right. But, uh, I can think of, of people who are just not very useful people. They, they’re lazy. They explicitly do not like to work. They’re not particularly good at anything.
They’re just not doing well in life. Like, they are not succeeding in our society as it is. And they don’t want say that that’s their fault, essentially. Like, yeah, I’m not, I’m not up to making it. I can’t hold down a good job. I can’t really persist on. Through obstacles and blah, blah, blah. And so I like this political philosophy that seems kind of tailored to me.
You know, I’m being oppressed by the evil small business owners, and if we could just distribute all these resources, uh, equally, I could tap into my inner child and create beautiful art. And, you know, and, and, and it’s so obvious that this is just something that is, it’s like a self justification really.
Pat: their failures. Yeah. Yeah. And of course, there’s many political programs that are designed with that sort of psychological manipulation in mind. Right? So that’s not, that’s not surprising. All I can say in, in general of like, how, like, does, does that happen? Do people kind of have a way of life and maybe a sort of perverse mentality and then they go and look for whatever ideology would secure them in that.
Yeah, totally. But, but can you change it? I mean, all I can say is I, yeah, I really think so because I mean, at least I have, right? But I think it takes a real sort of interest and dedication. Like I tell people like nothing else. Like what is your, what is your fundamental aim in life? Is it just to watch Netflix and play video games?
You know, from a very young age. I just, I just wanted to know what was true. That was like a deep motivation for me. Now, if your fundamental aim is like, I’ve gotta secure a political ideology, then truth takes a secondary. Consideration, right. This sounds so trivial, but I think it’s important. You’re so much more likely to hit a target you’re actually aiming for, if you’re not aiming for the truth, what are the chances that you’re actually gonna hit it a lot less?
Right. And I would say if you’re trying to live a good life and all the perennial philosophers I greatly admire would say that, you know, what’s sort of highest among us are powers as our intellect. That truth really does perfect us in some sort of deep metaphysical way. Right? And we all, again, operate this.
Cuz as weird as our culture has gotten, like both all disagreeing parties still wanna say that they have the truth, right? It’s like there’s still this like deep, deep operative assumption that truth is a good thing. It’s something we should have. I wanna say that’s, that’s actually right, right now what the truth is, is a more complicated topic in debate.
But I, I think you have to kind of like really make that your honest priority. Like, okay, I’ve got a lot of other. But truth has to take a front seat. And look, I’ve changed my views drastically. I was very much a political liberal when I was younger. Then I became a pretty hardcore libertarian like this close to like an narco capitalism, my friend.
Like we’re getting real flirty with rothbard and those guys, right? But as I went deeper and deeper and I started to kind of like change things on bottom levels, uh, because I thought they were true, my sort of more fundamental paradigm, my form, fundamental views, those structural changes, they go upwards, right?
And they reconfigure what’s above it, right? So then I ended up abandoning libertarianism and. Because there obviously
Mike: there’s a point where it’s either abandoned, libertarianism, or abandon what’s beneath
Pat: it. They, because they’ve come into tension for various reasons, maybe ethical reasons, stuff like that, right?
And those for metaphysical reasons. So you realize, okay, what I had before brought me down here. I tried to fix what was down here, or at least clarify what was down here. Now this is intention, which is up there. What do I care about most? Do I care about this political philosophy program or do I care about the truth?
Well, if I care about the truth, I should be willing to abandon what I previously held up there. This is reasonable belief revision right now, look, I have biases like anybody else, nobody’s perfectly Spock, right? We’ve all got our influences, but I think I can fairly say that that that are things that I have done, that I’ve done the best that I can just to try and get things right, and I’ve been willing to give up things that I was really invested in before, right?
I was really invested in libertarian philosophy, especially political philosophy, like the, the higher level libertarian philosophy is like no NOIC and stuff like that. I was really attracted to it. I was in a lot of, a lot of my friends were libertarians, a lot of, a lot of groups and communities, and. It’s not easy to give something like that up, right?
It’s, it’s never easy to give up something that’s sort of become a part of your life. But to me, um, the willingness to do that I think is important if you’re trying to live a really good life and get it at the true of things. So I think it can be done. I have seen many other people do it. Uh, maybe they haven’t come to the same conclusions to me, but it seems like they’ve, they’ve been honest in their assessments and they’ve given up other things along the way.
How many is it? The majority of people. I don’t have good answers to that, but I think it can be done. But it, it has to be something that, that people are, again, explicit about what is most important to me in life? Do I want the truth above other things? And to me, that’s, that’s it. And then it takes
Mike: work, which you
Pat: said a lot, a lot of, lot of work.
right? Lot. A lot. And it
Mike: takes, uh, I’m guessing there were a lot of uncomfortable moments for, for you just in your, where you’re, you’re not only working at it, but as you as that tension builds internally, that’s not a, necessarily a nice thing to
Pat: experience. No, it’s nasty. That’s why a lot of people avoid the, the philosophy.
Philosophy will challenge you on so many of your fundamental beliefs, man. And people don’t like that. It’s really uncomfortable. And even though I think I’ve gotten clarity on, on a lot of important things in philosophy, I now have far more questions than I have ever had before and am far less sure about many of this sort of, Downstream beliefs, including political beliefs than I was when I was 18 or 25.
Right. So that’s just, that’s just the name of the game.
Mike: Another question regarding, uh, personal responsibility. Just, just curious as to your thoughts. So you obviously have a theistic view, uh, monotheistic view. So what are your thoughts on Okay, something randomly bad happens to somebody? You would, you would say there is no obvious connection between, you know, the cause and, and the effect, but if, if there is a God, uh, and even if you, you could probably include other.
Worldviews that would have some sort of, um, spiritual component and supreme creator doesn’t have to necessarily be yours. How do we know that that wasn’t our fault In some other way? In some, in a, in a spiritual sense or that it it’s part of some plan or that it, it still might come back to our, it, it was our, our, and when I say our fault, I don’t like actually blame.
I don’t mean blame, I just mean accountability. Um, we’re just not aware.
Pat: Right. So this is a great, this is, this is great cuz you’re bringing up the problem of evil, right? And it seems like here’s one of those general data points that we have to get done with. There’s a lot of suffering and evil in the world, right?
That’s like one of those really general data points that whatever worldview you have, what explains that, right? And here initially it seems like there might be like a really good point in favor of, uh, views that are. Let’s say classical theism, and not just talking about atheism of indifference, but you might even think of like a dualism.
There’s a good God and a war in God, or something like that, right? It seems like, okay, maybe that will explain the data, right? I think it’s important to say that when it comes to classical theism, Most of the philosophers I engage with and and talk to, they don’t think that it’s like explanatorily inadequate in any sense.
And I’m talking even of skeptical ones. They think it’s extremely explanatorily powerful, like a classical theistic worldview makes a lot of sense of the moral features of the world, of consciousness, of free will, of physical fine tuning, of religious experience, of near-death, experience, all that. Like it explains data really, really well.
It’s hugely explanatory. Powerful. The problem they think it has is it predicts too much. It predicts too much. They think if look, the foundation is perfect, why isn’t the world perfect? Right? And it seems like suffering evil is like a huge sort of predictive miss for the theory. Right. And I wanna say fair enough.
That’s something the classical theist has to deal with. Now, there’s a couple ways to think about it. You might think. Yeah, that’s a sort of evidential weight against classical theism, but all things considered the scales totally tip in favor of it. So I’m gonna go with that, with that worldview and some people are willing to say that.
I wanna say actually, uh, a lot more, I wanna say that we should take a certain epistemic humility that when it comes to the sort of governance of the world and providence, there’s a lot of reasons to think that God would have a reason for the suffering evil in the world, but also we wouldn’t be able to see what that reason is cuz we don’t.
The God size idea of things. And there also might be structural reasons, right? So one thing that I’ve always thought was interesting is there’s notions of vagueness and arbitrariness and chance, you know, a lot of philosophy. So think of a growing economy, right? It might be just be the case that for any growing economy, some number of people just have to suffer for the growth for the overall good.
You know, as new technologies emerge and old industries are replaced and, and stuff like that. So it’s like, yeah, it seems like for the overall good, some number of people have to suffer. Uh, but we think that this is justifiable, especially if we can compensate those people in some way or whatever. But it doesn’t assign who has to suffer.
It might just be the case that some number of people structurally have to suffer, uh, but it’s sort of arbitrary who does, right? You might wanna think that in the theistic picture, something like that might be the case with suffering and evil to facilitate certain overall goods. It might just be the case that there are certain conditions where there has to be a certain degree of, of, uh, tolerance of suffering and evil, both natural evils and moral evils.
And it doesn’t even specify who has to suffer. However, you might also think, and I think that this is right, that if people really do kind of, are truly the most arbitrary recipients of that suffering, that they should and must be compensated in some way. And for that, you might think that theism entails an afterlife, right?
Uh, that it, that it would. Incompatible or inconsistent with a theistic worldview that takes that sort of approach, the structural response to the problem of evil.
Mike: I mean, the distribution of suffering is, is interesting too. It’s certainly not a normal distribution. It’s definitely, I mean, I haven’t looked into this, but I’d put money that it’s a power distribution.
The majority of suffering is done by a minority of people. Just like how, you know, I mean this, I have looked into this researching crime like a minority of criminals. Uh, they commit a majority of the crime ,
Pat: but, you know, suffering is, is by no means like restricted to like third world countries. I mean, first world countries suffer.
But anyways, my point being is that this, this might, um, give you reason to think that a theistic worldview entails an afterlife. I think that, I think that’s right. But you brought up other theories. Well, maybe, maybe there’s a. Reincarnation aspect of it. So maybe it is that what you get now is a sort of just dessert for how you behaved in a previous light.
I think there’s issues with that in the sense that something had to sort of kick that off and whatever that first evil was, that wouldn’t have been justified, right? Cuz there was nothing previous to that. Unless you wanna have a sort of infinite explanatory regress, which seems to me explanatorily vicious right of, of how this ever got started.
But moreover, just to keep going through these theories, this is how you do theory comparison. Uh, it seems like it would provide a perverse instead of to alleviate suffering, you’d look at somebody suffering and you would think, oh, well they’re just getting what they deserve. Even if it’s like a little, uh, child starving.
And I think that that does not make sense of our moral intuitions. We think we actually have an obligation to alleviate, uh, that suffering. I’m
Mike: not sure those would be at odds though, cuz a recognition of responsibility isn’t necessarily blame. It isn’t saying, oh, screw the little kid, that’s his fault. Uh, I think you could, I mean, you could, you could just as you could have somebody do something harmful to themselves, they did it.
There’s no question. And then your inclination is to help them still, especially, let’s say it’s your kid and they, they’re cutting themselves, like you’re not gonna just berate
Pat: them. Right? So this is the distinction between responsibility and culpability. You know, somebody might be responsible for something, say, I, uh, somebody falls on the bus because, uh, my leg was sticking out.
I’m responsible for that, but I am, it was a total accident and my culpable for it. Most people say probably not. However, if I intentionally put my foot out there and tried to trip them, then we would say, I’m both responsible and culpable. I should be punished or reprimanded or shouted out or something like that.
So, Right. But if
Mike: you take a starving child, let’s just say in, in some scenario, they are responsible for that condition in some way. Obviously, let’s say this is from a previous life,
Pat: whatever, right? Where they made free choices, which they’re then now culpable for. Is that the perspective?
Mike: And so I’m saying is that though there’s a difference there of responsibility and culpability.
Not that you’re gonna take that kid and say that you’re now gonna punish them. Even. Even, let’s say you knew exactly like you were such a bad person for so long and you knew you were so bad that this is you punishing yourself, let’s just say, right? Or, or you brought this on yourself in some way, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re now gonna punish them further.
You know, there’s that responsibility versus
Pat: right. Maybe you might not punish ’em further, but maybe you don’t feel a great obligation to alleviate their suffering either, which I think you should. Which I think you should. Anyways, getting back to, uh, I guess a fundamental point. You might have theories that explain certain data points equally well too, and, um, you might realize, okay, they’re sort of at a, an explanatory tie here, so I need to look somewhere else and find some other sort of tiebreakers of why I should prefer this theory over.
Another theory. And I would say in terms of re reincarnation for deeper metaphysical and philosophical reasons, I think when you study, uh, I, I’m a sort of Aristotelian, right? I think the soul was the form of the body. So like metaphysically, I don’t actually think reincarnation makes a lot of sense. Out
Mike: of curiosity, have you read, um, Jeffrey Mish loves
Pat: essay on this?
I can tell you I have not, cause I don’t even recognize the name, but
Mike: Oh, okay. Um, you might find it interesting. It’s more about data points. It’d be, it, it, it’s for inductive reasoning, not, it doesn’t proceed deductively, it just, it’s uh, maybe 50 or 60 pages long and, and gives a lot of, I would say, empirical evidence.
And, and this is not you per se, but I will say that I have come across a number of theists over the years who intentionally do not look into it. They, it’s
Pat: very uncom. Look, you have to look at all the data. So like I’ll say there’s, there is some really good stuff. Uh, Murphy was the kind of famous case a while ago.
Anyway, some of the, it’s been many years since the details elude to me. But no, granted, there’s some cases that I think are really interesting, both in terms of where reincarnation seems to be a good theory. But anyways, what I wanna say is, yeah, there there is that data that needs to be made sense of, and same with near death experiences and all that.
And there’s, there’s even more research on near death experience, which I, I, I find utterly fascinating. It’s been a number of years since I took a deep dive into it, but when I did, I, I realized, wow, this is. Really significant stuff. Long story short on, on all that stuff is like, again, there’s gonna be some, the data determines a theory, but in other ways, your theory might also have to determine the data.
And that isn’t always unreasonable, right? Because you might have a theory that you think is so well supported by other data and there might be this sort of anomaly or, and we have this in science all the time, that seems like it doesn’t refute the theory, but it also doesn’t fit really well with it. So maybe I have to reinterpret this data in some way.
Mike: maybe I just don’t know
Pat: enough yet and Yeah. Right. So I mean, look, I mean there’s, there’s many of those out there for, I mean, so for example, the naturalist is gonna just say it’s hallucinations and stuff like that. Now I don’t think that does give an adequate account, cause I think the data just isn’t adequately explained by various hallucinations.
There’s too much sort of the vertical reports of stuff, right. In both near death experiences and reincarnation. For anybody who seriously, honestly looks into this stuff as you, as you’ve said, people who just say those who throw those, like the natural sequence out there, like it’s clear to me they actually haven’t been through the research, especially the peer reviewed research on near-death experience.
Right. Just a knee jerk reaction. Yeah. It’s a knee jerk dismissal. They’re just
Mike: like the people who, who. Evidence of conspiracy as conspiracy theory. It’s conspiracy
Pat: theory. So, uh, yeah. So what’s a traditional what, or it doesn’t even have to be a tradition. Cause you could be a traditional theist, monotheists and still believe in reincarnation.
Many do. But say you have other reasons for thinking reincarnation is false. You need to have some other way to make sense of it. Maybe it has to do with other spiritual entities that exist and are messing with people. Or, or some
Mike: personal experience. You could imagine if you had some personal experience that was profound enough where the only good explanation you could come up with was like, let’s say you, something happens.
Maybe you even do past life regression therapy, whatever, and you remember explicit details of a previous lifetime. You go and look it up and you’re like, it’s all right. You find who you were, your name, or you have no, where did this come from? There can be things where you’re like, I’m not sure what else to think
Pat: at this point.
Yeah, of course. You know, maybe there’s other spiritual entities that could pass that information along and it’s not vertical. Right. So you can see like how there are other theistic theories that could accommodate that data.
Mike: I’m just saying something like that would definitely, somebody like you, it would shake you a little.
You wouldn’t just dismiss it like, oh well it was probably just an angel who told me that and whatever. It’s fine.
Pat: Yeah, no, I would, I would count that as an initially inconvenient data point as initially like an anomalous data point. And it’s one I’ve obviously thought about cause I’m hinting at the ways I’ve thought about it.
Right. So I, I do try to be somebody who considers. All the data that is actually well evidenced, right? And say, how does this fit into a theory? Cuz if I want the right theory, I should be able to accommodate all the data in some ways and some data’s gonna fit if it’s a good theory. Hopefully a lot of data’s gonna fit really well.
But again, all theories have anomalies and things that might not seem to initially fit. That’s okay. You never just throw out a great theory cuz you. A few anomalies here or there. Right. That’s not good method. That’s
Mike: commonly used to attack great theories too. And, and it, it plays well with some people,
Yeah. So this is, this is like good, hopefully like general reasoning for people. And, and I, I would say like even initially it didn’t disturb me. Cause when I first initially was researching these things, I didn’t have the theory I have now, right? It was, it was after I’ve gone through all this stuff that I thought this is the best theory to make sense of all that if you write.
But your example is a good one in a sense that, that’s one that is certainly incompatible with the way I think about the human person and the soul and stuff now. But I have other theoretical postulates that make sense of that. It would just be interpreted in a way that you probably wouldn’t like, or so other people who believe in reincarnation wouldn’t like, and there we’re just at a stalemate.
Right. There’s no way to, I empirically break that stalemate. So you then you need. Other cons because they both explained the data equally at that point, right? Then you need other considerations to try and break that stalemate and that’s just part of the game. That’s part of the method right now. The point is that what you would, what you might wanna do and try and come back at at me is say, well, yours is, is ad hoc, right?
You’ve brought something in without independent motivation for doing so, and that’s a sort of cost. Now, it might be a cost worth, assuming we revise hypotheses and sometimes wire in new components to them and we don’t think that that’s totally illegitimate, but I would say no, it’s not. The thing I’m postulating is sort.
Has already been there. Right. And now it’s just, it’s, it’s, it can serve to also do this, this work as well. Right. So I’m trying to play devil’s advocate with myself a little bit, right? Yeah.
Mike: Yeah. That we, we could continue that further. If I were to, I wouldn’t say challenges. I’m not trying to challenge you, but, but
No, the challenges are good. So, I mean, people like back off, they don’t realize objections are philosophers, love language, what do I have to lose? Right? Uh, well maybe a lot in terms of my, uh, commitments, but like I’ve just told you, and if I’m not a hypocrite that I wanna. True and not false things. Well, what objections and challenges are, are meant to stress test a position or a worldview.
Dang right. I, I better hope that I’ve looked at those Right. , otherwise I’ve just sort of engaged in a project of delusion. Right? And I think, and I’ve tried to be honest and say, look, I think for atheistic worldview the greatest challenge is, is the problem of evil. That’s the hardest one. I think there’s good answers to it.
And I think fundamentally that data point can not only sort of be neutralized between a, a traditional theistic theory and, and rival theories. I think upon substantial analysis it can actually point back to it, which is a very, that’ll be in my book that I’m working on. Cause the whole book is on worldview comparison where I actually go through different data and I say, what, what big picture best predicts this data does.
So in the simplest way, and even when suffering is something I spend a significant amount of time on in my book, and I, I talk about things like that structural response I, I mentioned to you. Many o many other considerations as well. Mm-hmm. , yeah. Yeah. The
Mike: structure response, uh, is interesting, but it still, it, it still raises the question of why not come up with a, an economic system that doesn’t require.
Suffering or doesn’t,
Pat: you know what I mean? Maybe it’s not feasible. Maybe there’s no possible world where that could be done, right? So we’re, we’re gonna get there, right? Yeah. Uhhuh . But if you
Mike: have, if you have an omniscient, omnipotent, omni everything, God, why couldn’t, of course he could have just come up, whether he or I, I mean, I don’t even traditionally is there a gender to God, but regardless, why couldn’t this supreme creator have just done it differently?
Like, why not? Now we have talked about this further, so, or, or
Pat: previously, but yeah. No, it’s, it’s wor it’s worth talking about again. So when we talk about, first off, we need conceptual clarity on classical theism, and we think that omnipotence is just the ability to bring about all possibilities of beings.
So it doesn’t mean God can do, he can’t bring about contradictions or something. He can bring about all things that are at least logically consistent, not just internally, but also with his nature, right? We think that, that God is constrained is in a good way, but we think that that God’s nature, uh, is such that it would be irrational for God to do certain things, which, which contradicts the, the essence of God, right?
So there’s certain things that even though they might be. Internally, logically consistent. We actually would say that they’re sort of impossible on this worldview, right? So, Silly example, we don’t think a classical theist wouldn’t think that God would create just one world with a, a burning kitten in it for all eternity.
Cuz it’s just like fundamentally nonsense, right? So God’s always gonna sort of act like we all do in accord with the type of being that we are. And that’s no different with God in the classical theistic picture than it is with human beings. That rationality, however, also isn’t just about creation, it’s about governance.
I talk about this in my book, right? And when God creates things, he creates things according to certain natures or essences. There’s a lot of deep metaphysical assumptions here. One is essentialism. The things actually have an essence or a nature sort of determinant wetness of what they are. We have a human nature, for example, right?
And that God is gonna kind of guide these things to their end according to the type of thing that they are. And when you think deeply about what a human being is, we’re not just rational animals, but we’re rational social dependent animals that rely on community and other people for what we know. We’re also fallible, right?
We’re, we’re not omni mission, we’re not omnipotent. We can make moral miscalculations and we do. So a wise God, I argue in the book and the general one is going to guide us according to the types of things we are God. Infuse a direct knowledge in us that makes us choose the right thing all the time. But that’s sort of discordant with human nature, right?
Which is itself is sort of discordant with a wise, not just creator, but governor. So what I do in the book is I examine what would we expect from this hypothesis, right? But to understand what we would expect from the hypothesis, we have to understand what the hypothesis is and what and what sort of expectations flow from it.
And I wanna say it’s only at a superficial level that we think this data point is really intention, certainly not contradiction. I think that there’s no logical property, there’s just an evidential one, right? It’s only on a superficial level that it’s intention. But once we get greater conceptual clarity, Upon the human person, the structure of, of the good and the nature of God.
We can see that this, this type of world with a certain range of suffering, evil and certain limitations, and it is a very great range. I don’t wanna, uh, deny that, right? And that suffering evil is extremely, uh, real, uh, and significant, but upon substantial analysis, I wanna say this is actually just the type of world we would expect on a classical theistic worldview, including when, even when we include considerations of omniscience and omnipotence and perfect goodness and all that.
And if something
Mike: randomly bad happens to you, how do you interpret that?
Pat: Yeah, I think that there’s, there’s, there’s randomness in creation that’s part of god’s. Yeah.
Mike: And not, not that it was necessarily willed, but it just, the pinball was bouncing around
Pat: and it hit you. Guy can, will things with certain probabilities and he can control objective out actually outcomes.
And even Aquinas, medieval theologian held that, right. That guy can cause things necessarily contingently and by chance. Right. So, yeah, no, I think that there is a sort of randomness element if you want in, in creation, even from a theistic standpoint. And there’s actually good reasons of why it would be, would be done that way.
Mike: Yeah. I mean you can find that in nature at least the
Pat: advantages of, and then again with the moral considerations that have to be considered. And to me, I think that leads to some of the structural considerations that we thought about and that if we think theism is right, of a classical theistic viewpoint, we should also think that there, that there is an afterlife that follows from that.
So we have good reason apart from like near death experience stuff and, and other maybe. More empirical evidence or, or thoughts about the human person of soul, but just from the theistic hypothesis to think that this life is not all there is, if that makes sense. Mm-hmm. ,
Mike: uh, well, I think this is probably a good place to wrap it up, right?
We could, we could keep going, but, um, we’ve put in our time. Is there anything else though, that you had in the back of your mind that you thought we should mention before we wrap?
Pat: I’ll just reiterate again, you’ve kind of, uh, in, in good and interesting fashion as you do as a host. Mike, you know, kind of tried to probe me and examine me, and I’ve shared my thoughts in the way I think about things.
But, uh, the fundamental point I wanted to get out for this episode, uh, was just sort of like what a lot of philosophers up to, of this worldview comparison and why it’s important and, uh, you know, if nothing else, I hope maybe we’ve gotten people sort of intrigued in it. I think it is important, I think especially, you know, especially for society, right, to have, to have people who are thinking deeply about political matters, which tie deeply into ethical matters, which tie deeply into metaphysical matters.
Like to me, it, it seems like that’s, uh, that’s something we could, we could only stand to benefit from if people took that more seriously. Yeah, that’s it. Yep.
Mike: Yeah, I totally agree. That’s why I thought this would be an interesting interview. I mean, something interesting to me, but I think it’s a good message, uh, because as you said early on, people are operating under a worldview whether they realize it or not, and the worst scenario is probably where they are, not.
Aware of much or any of their worldview, and it has simply been programmed into them by the various channels, uh, that, you know, media and mostly, mostly just media. And for some people it means for some, for some people that’s, that’s literally Marvel movies like that, that’s their half of their worldview was
Pat: yeah, avoid, avoid the mass media programming.
Get out of Plato’s Cave. Start, just read as Republic instead of Netflix tonight, just get a copy of Plato’s Republic. Start there, , or start with a series. If I can give a plug, I’ve got my philosophy for the people channel. Jim and I have a 10 part series going through Plato’s Republic, so we’ve gotten some good feedback about it.
Maybe people will dig that. Mm-hmm. , that’s
Mike: great. Any, anything else? Any. Resources thinking with somebody who’s new to a lot of this, um,
Pat: that, uh, so yeah, if you’re, if you’re interested in these philosophical conversations, my podcast philosophy for the people, I host it with my good friend, uh, Jim Madden. He focuses a lot on philosophy of mine, so, uh, has some really cool just thoughts and publications in that if that interests you, nature of consciousness, rationality free will, that’s kind of his wheelhouse.
Uh, so we run philosophy for the people, and our goal is to just try. Take difficult thought and make it, if not easy, at least accessible. Um, so that’s what we’re up to. It’s on iTunes and YouTube. And then on the fitness side, I’m still, I’m still swinging kettlebells and still writing and talking about that.
That’s on the Pat Flynn Show podcast.
Mike: Cool. Cool. And, uh, something I’ll throw out there is Will Durant, uh, story of philosophy book is, I think a great resource for getting a, a good overview of, uh, I’m trying to think back. I think it covers most of the most popular, at least, uh, schools of philosophy. And I’m personally a fan of Will Durant’s work.
I thought he was, uh, I mean it was, him and his wife actually did it together, but they were brilliant and, and amazing communicators re really impressive.
Pat: Yeah, if you’re, if you’re asking for like, good, uh, books, I’ve got a ton of starter books. First off, people are always big on the primary text, and I think that’s important.
But if we’re being realistic, if anybody’s tried to dive straight into Aristotle’s physics, it’s just gonna give you a headache in five minutes. Right? Plato’s different, Plato’s more accessible is, is dialogue. So I think you can hop right, the Play-Doh, I think with Aristotle, it helps to get some secondary commentary and stuff like that.
But I’ll give, I’ll give two books, um, real quick, both by the same author. His name’s Morr j Adler, uh, really great, interesting thinker. In his, in his own writing, he actually wrote a book called How to Read a book.
Mike: Yeah, I f I was like, didn’t I read a book from him about like how to read or literature or something?
Pat: It’s, it’s brilliant. It’s, it’s really, uh, a system of how do you engage with a book that’s currently above you and go from a state of understanding, less understanding anymore. That’s not the book I’m recommending though, but he’s well known for that book. The book I’m, the books I’m recommending from him are Sixth Great Ideas where he looks at the philosophical history of sixth Great Ideas, truth, goodness, uh, being, uh, justice, and, uh, I’m forgetting the other ones right now, which is embarrassing.
But anyway, sixth Great ideas, philosophical ideas. It’ll, it’ll recur to me like two seconds after the podcast. Uh, but that’s a fantastic, fantastic introduction to philosophical thought and the history of philosophical thinking. The other one by him are 10 philosophical mistakes, and that again, is a nice survey of the history of philosophical thinking, ranging over many different ideas considering consciousness, free will, political philosophy, you name it, ethics.
And he tries to pinpoint where he thinks. The train of philosophical thought went off the rails. So he picks on a lot of different things like Locke and Dick Carton Hume. He’s like, here’s, here’s where they made a mistake, and this is why we have the absurd consequences we have. Today in these lines of thoughts.
So you’ll get a nice sort of both overview of the history of philosophical thought, but also a sort of diagnosis. And then he gives what he thinks is the corrective as well. So I would highly recommend that book, both of those. Awesome.
Mike: A discussion about the enlightenment, um, philosophy could be interesting for a future talk.
Pat: Yeah. I’ve got a love-hate relationship. I’ve spent a lot of time with, especially Decart. Uh, I love Decart, but I profoundly disagree with him. But I, I just, I just, I love reading him. I love the way he thinks. Take. Very wrong on a lot of things, but he’s, he’s hugely significant, right? Cuz he kind of set the agenda, uh, and, and introduced, uh, inadvertently a lot of skepticism into philosophy and epistemology that we’re still kind of struggling with now.
So, yeah. Anytime. Mm-hmm. . Awesome.
Mike: Well, hey, I look forward to the next one. I usually run about a month ahead when this one goes up. Let’s talk about the next. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful. And if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes.
And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have, uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share, shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com, and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.
I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.