Bill confuses mystics with determinists and claims that univironmental determinism denies knowledge.
The Myth of Exceptionalism (Part 3 of 4)
TSW: "Only an indeterminist could see humanity as part of nature and not part at the same time."
BW: Of course human beings are a part of nature. Only mystics believe that the "spirits" of humans are "above" nature, thanks to a grant by God. I don't think it's useful or informative to use the term "indeterminist" to describe every view with which you disagree. Mystics are, in a sense, *absolute determinists* who believe with certainty in their teleologic or scatologic future.
TSW: "The solipsist’s or fatalist’s tendency to lean back and 'let nature take its course because it is all determined by the univironment anyway' is also determined by matter in motion."
BW: If you reject free will (as I've described it previously), then your form of determinism is fatalistic: there can be no knowledge, no ethics, no choice of behaviors. I think you have it wrong, but the way you've framed the question, "Univironmental Determinism" is pervasively fatalistic.
TSW: Engels: "determinism ... tries to dispose of chance by denying it altogether. According to this conception only simple, direct necessity prevails in nature ... an irrevocable concatenation of cause and effect."
BW: Egads. I'm actually agreeing with a few observations by Engels. Certainly, I will burn in libertarian hell. ;-)
He is correct that determinism precludes chance, which is merely an admission that we don't know the causes, but have detected a probability. And, he is correct that there is an "irrevocable concatenation" of cause and effect. His error is in assuming that all causes *must* conform with the Laws of Nature. I've made the case that there is a unique cause of human actions (not mere chance) that can be pure fantasy. See my prior Notes on Ethics and Free Will.
BW: I've disputed this proposition to exhaustion in prior commentary. To summarize: a) there can be no cause for proximate events beyond our light sphere, which may be moving toward infinity, but is always finite; b) information radiates, subject to the inverse square law, which means that remote factors that affect any event are (to humans) inconsequential; c) asserting that the causes of any specific event are infinite is a denial of the possibility of human knowledge; and d) the proposition that causes are infinite is the exact inverse of Aquinas' proposition that all causes diminish to a single cause: God. Both propositions are false.
BW: You've paired a set of two conditions, illogically. An observation may be either subjective or objective, relative or absolute. A subjective claim is one that is necessarily relative to the subject's frame of reference. An objective claim is one that can be verified by multiple subjects, with unique frames of reference, as an absolute (or at least unmitigated) truth. That's not a contradiction, nor a problem, just a matter of validating (by evidence and logic) the merits of the claim.
BW: The problem is that you've "married" that distinction with "conscious intent", which is entirely different. Only a small portion of reality (vertebrates) is conscious and even a smaller portion (humans) act with the intent of achieving an objective. The error of mystics is to assume that all events are "intended" ... by some supernatural being. But, nature has no intent: it can only do what it must do, irrespective of any consequential effects.
BW: So, I don't think the contrary proposition of "unconscious intent" is properly paired with "objective" claims, which are all conscious. I think you're trying to deny the existence of conscious intent in human acts, because that would imply free will. To my mind, you're trying to fabricate a dichotomy by denying reality.