I think I have found a method of a positive argument from reason; one that doesn’t just narrow down our choices in explaining reason with God, but that positively points towards God. Victor Reppert’s argument from reason is negative, Lewis’ argument from reason (upon which Reppert expands) is negative, even Plantinga’s evolutionary argument from reason is negative. I have sought a tool or premise to pivot the argument from reason to point in a positive sense to God, and I think I have it here with the notion of the cogito.
If we hold with a variety of disparate philosophers, from Kant to Sartre, that there exists in each man a cogito through which our world is interpreted and thus reasoned about, and that this cogito exists before sense, then it seems to follow that, if we deny our cogito to be the product of another intentful mind, then our appropriation of the world of senses is brought into irremediable skepticism. I am using “cogito” distinctly from “mind” and “self,” as a sort of “filter” through which our senses and thoughts pass. It is absolutely a part of the mind and the self, without being the entire composition of those things, since mind/self includes things like beliefs and intents, whilst cogito is only a sort of program for the mind.
Sartre (and Heidegger’s as well, perhaps) “pre-reflective cogito” would be explained thusly; “The first condition of all reflection is a pre-reflective cogito.” In other words, there would be no thought, belief, or intent about things if there were no pre-existent “hardware” our mind had to first initiate consciousness and so begin grasping the world and “decompressing” the information received through the senses and put it into an orderly account, which always amounts to reflection upon the world upon reflection of reflection upon reflection of the world (read that several times slowly; I think that makes sense). Note the re-flection in reflection, as how it is necessarily post-experience, never prior to. Reflection follows sensation, but it is the cogito that puts sensation/experience into a form suited to consciousness for reflection upon in the first place.
So now we must consider a fork. Is a fork a fork if there is no man to declare something is a fork? No; a fork is an artifact, it is a device that holds its application in the conception/intention of a mind. Void this mind having the belief about the fork, it lacks the recognition of a mind to see how it functions like a fork is designed by the absent mind. If something lacks an ordered-ness towards another thing in its very essence, then that thing cannot be towards it; you might say “Well, I can make the fork do other things,” and that I will not deny, but you must remember that the fork is entirely at your disposal and whim; its essence, its ordered-ness towards, is entirely up to you, since it has no part in its essence by which it may self-determine. Its only determination is from without; without there being anything to determine (and only minds may determine in this sense) its purpose, it has no purpose, and is just a hunk of matter.
Now consider our cogito; if it is the product only of blind, unintentional forces, then it lacks any necessary essence towards something. Lacking this intrinsic essence, it can only, in casting about itself as an intentional mind, decide for itself what its essence shall be. Hence Sartre’s famous statement “Existence before essence.” This reduces all things of the cogito to whim, open to definition; literally all things. Without a given essence, a mind can only give itself an essence; but this essence from a non-essential mind will never be a true essence, not objective. It is an “approximate essence,” having determination, but a determination from an indeterminate determiner.
This line of reasoning cuts itself off, however, for my reason here, if correct, is correct, without a mind to recognize its correctness. But, if there is no essence of the mind/self, then there is no essence of the cogito to objectively decompress reason; what constitutes reason would be as open to whim as one’s own essence, since there is no objective reason towards which the mind is objectively ordered towards. However, we are objectively ordered towards reason, so our cogito must have in its essence a true appropriation of reason. If not, then how would it be recognized that there is any problem with my argument here?
Therefore, I must have an essence that precedes my existence. However, I cannot have given myself this essence, for it would be a false essence, an artifact of an indeterminate determiner. Blind forces lack intent, however, and only intentional causes can give an end to something in its essence; there must be a primary mind, then, that first ordered other cogitos towards reason.
The formal syllogism for my argument above would be this;
1) Whatever lacks purposeful intent towards something cannot be for something
2) Our cogito is only ordered towards reason if it was intended towards reason
3) Only minds can intend
4) Ergo, our cogito is ordered towards reason only if there is a mind which ordered our cogito
I could keep on going and show how this mind must be God, but my readers should be able to see where the rest of the reasoning goes.
Thus would be a positive argument from reason.
Update: So I see that the Victor Reppert has found this post, and I’ll remind my readers that Reppert is the current champion of the argument from reason. I’d like to warn him, and his readers, that this post here (as well as my other posts) are forays, ganderings, ponderings, and should be treated as such; beginnings meant to be expanded upon, a poor baby bird still learning to fly. To him and those critics directed here from him, do give me honest criticism, but keep in mind this is my first pondering upon a positive AFR as well.
I will note also, to those unacquainted with my blog, that this argument here is also building on other posts on the argument from reason. Here are the links;