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God and Other Minds: A Study of the Rational Justification of Belief in God (Cornell Paperbacks) Paperback – May 8, 1990
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The first part of the book discusses the classic arguments for and against the existence of God: cosmological, ontological, teleological, existence of evil and divine hiddeness. Whereas the latter part of the text argues that belief in God is rational along the lines that belief in other minds is rational. I offer a few comments.
This is an important work in the philosophy of religion and Plantinga is an important thinker in this area. That said, however, I would not recommend this as an entry point into his work. This is one of his earliest works - he has written a tremendous amount of more concise and accessible material in the interim. For students of the philosophy of religion, however, this remains an essential read. This is classic Plantinga - some clear brilliance and exhaustive examination (at times bordering on the tedious). Readers not accustomed to rigorous philosophical analysis may find it a particularly tough slog at times.
Overall this is an important work by a leading philosopher. For those starting out in this area I might suggest something by Craig (theist) or Mackie (atheist) before engaging Plantinga.
The fellow who calls it a survey tells us that, while reason is powerless to justify belief in other minds, it is false that this means belief in God is just as rational as belief in other minds, because "we are compelled by experience to believe" in other minds. This is a howlingly bad argument. First of all, it is not at all obvious that we are so compelled, since there have been solipsists, Absolute Idealists, monistic pantheists, and skeptics of several varieties. The most that is obvious is that we are compelled to *act as if* there are other minds in ordinary life (ordinary American life, as opposed, say, to an ascetic in a cave)--which is not clearly the same as believing in them. Second, and more importantly, a universal compulsion to believe is not a *reason* to believe, in the sense relevant to traditional epistemology. The mere fact, if it is a fact, that we are naturally inclined (even irresistibly) to believe something doesn't mean our belief is *true*, nor does it constitute any reason to think that it's true. So to point to such a compulsion, even if it exists, is to give no justification at all for the belief.Read more ›
It is a very interesting read because in the first section, he goes through all the classical arguments for the existence of God and shows why they fail. In the second chapter, he goes through all the arguments for the non-existence of God and shows why they fail. In the third chapter, he goes through the question of "how do we know that other minds exist" and gives what seems to be a satisfactory answer until almost the very end where he shows it fails. So interestingly enough, with only about 3 pages left, all Plantinga has done is shown that everything fails. Then in the last few pages, he shows why the rejection of the argument for other minds is equivalent to a rejection of the teleological argument for God's existence. So all in all, even though we have no arguments that work to prove God's existence, a belief in the existence of God is equivalent to a belief in other minds (epistemological speaking). I don't think I am even close to understanding the brilliance of this. It's just very fascinating, a totally different flavor than anything I have ever read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Extremely rigorous and technical, and is definitely not for newbies. This is a must read for those delving into philosophy of religion and epistemology in general. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Individual X
Once again another classic by Alvin Plantinga. This book is extremely insightful, and his general thesis is very creative: 1)Our belief in other minds is properly basic - belief in... Read morePublished 24 months ago by Chris Woznicki
Alvin Carl Plantinga (born 1932) is a Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, who formerly taught philosophy at Calvin College. Read morePublished on March 7, 2013 by Steven H Propp
Plantings book "God and Other Minds" is another excellent production by one of the best philosophers in the nation. Read morePublished on October 5, 2012 by Charles E. Greer
Powerful, and ahead of it's time, Alvin Plantinga is one of the "Elite" minds of modern apologetics. Read morePublished on April 4, 2011 by Cornell
All throughout the Seventies and early Eighties, I lived in Detroit and worked as a school janitor. The reason I had originally come to Detroit in 1965 was to study graduate... Read morePublished on February 19, 2008 by Edwin Stuart
Wrong's wrong. All the sophisticated argumentation in the world won't change that. Doctrines and mere theism simply do not deserve the elevated status of axioms or a priori true... Read morePublished on August 20, 2007 by Gordian Knot