29 sept. 2011

Pretty Good Arguments: The Argument from Awe

It is awe-inspiring to be alive and conscious. Even ordinary existence is awesome in this sense, but the contemplation of the natural world and of great works of art adds even more such awe. This is a religious or quasi-religious feeling, though I think that I, a non-believer, feel it more intensely than most people I know. Even when I am intensely depressed I never stop feeling it. I think this feeling of awe is the true "subject matter" of all poetry and music. Or, to be more precise, it is the only subject matter that I really care about.

The religious view of awe interprets this feeling as evidence of something that produces the awe, some deity of some kind as the ultimate source of "the awesome." This is a pretty good argument for religious feeling, though of course a feeling requires no intellectual justification at all. Just as religion can be metaphor for the unknown, it can be a concrete name for the marvelousness of merely existing.

3 comentarios:

scott g.f.bailey dijo...

Why is this a good argument for supernatural beings, though? My response to nature doesn't necessitate the existence of anything beyond the nature that strikes me with awe. Treating creation like a work of art (art being a purely human endeavor) is just a form of the pathetic fallacy, isn't it?

Well, maybe not the pathetic fallacy, but again it's one of those "my response to x must be mirrored by the whole of the universe" egocentric arguments. I lack the terminology to talk about this, I know, but I'm trying to think hard at least.

Jonathan dijo...

It's a half-way decent argument, not great one. It doesn't convince me, for example. But to be fair it has some plausibility for people who want to think like that.

There could be religious people without a sense of awe and irreligious people who do have it, so it definitely is not an argument that is going to decide the question.

Vance Maverick dijo...

Like the argument about the "metaphor for the unknown", this makes better sense as an account of the origin of religion than as an argument for religion's truth. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

Another similar account: humans are good at reading signs of intelligence -- the footprint on the beach, or the minute movements of an eye across the room, from which we intuit an expression, an attitude, a communication. Small wonder we should intuit such messages and presences behind the grand physical configurations of the world. I've never heard anyone even try to argue for the existence of God or the Thirty-Nine Articles from this starting point, but I think it's no less apt than awe or metaphor.