Home » Intelligent Design » ID Foundations, Logic and First Principles of right reason, Science, worldview issues and society, Stirring the pot (tentative thoughts/explorations) » Stirring the Pot, 3: What about the so-called Laws of Thought/First Principles of Right Reason?

Stirring the Pot, 3: What about the so-called Laws of Thought/First Principles of Right Reason?

Cf follow up on laws of thought including cause, here

In our day, it is common to see the so-called Laws of Thought or First Principles of Right Reason challenged or dismissed. As a rule, design thinkers strongly tend to reject this common trend, including when it is claimed to be anchored in quantum theory.

Going beyond, here at UD it is common to see design thinkers saying that rejection of the laws of thought is tantamount to rejection of rationality, and is a key source of endless going in evasive rhetorical circles and refusal to come to grips with the most patent facts; often bogging down attempted discussions of ID issues.

The debate has hotted up over the past several days, and so it is back on the front burner.

But, why are design thinkers today inclined to swim so strongly against a cultural tide that may often seem to be overwhelming?

Perhaps, Wikipedia, speaking against known ideological inclination on the Law of Thought, may help us begin to see why:

That everything be ‘the same with itself and different from another’ (law of identity) is the self-evident first principle upon which all symbolic communication systems (languages) are founded, for it governs the use of those symbols (names, words, pictograms, etc.) which denote the various individual concepts within a language, so as to eliminate ambiguity in the conveyance of those concepts between the users of the language. Such a principle (law) is necessary because symbolic designators have no inherent meaning of their own, but derive their meaning from the language users themselves, who associate each symbol with an individual concept in a manner that has been conventionally prescribed within their linguistic group . . . .

we cannot think without making use of some form of language (symbolic communication), for thinking entails the manipulation and amalgamation of simpler concepts in order to form more complex ones, and therefore, we must have a means of distinguishing these different concepts. It follows then that the first principle of language (law of identity) is also rightfully called the first principle of thought, and by extension, the first principle reason (rational thought).

In short, to think reasonably about the world, we must mentally dichotomise, and once that is done, the first principles of right reason apply.

For instance (to connect to reality not just words), consider say a bright red ball on a table:

Where Jupiter (seen here in IR some days after the Shoemaker-Levy 9 multiple comet impact) is the ultimate “red ball” — but one — in our solar system:

 

Or, analysing in terms of an abstraction of this observational/experiential situation that brings out the laws of thought and the issue of warrant against accuracy to experiential reality:

Okay, you may say:  that addresses the world of thinking. In cases where we mark distinctions, then the distinction obtains, but that does not bridge to reality.

Or, does it?

So long as there is a distinction between the red ball on the table and the rest of the world, and so long as it is inevitable that we do know something about the world, on pain of absurdity, these will also apply to external reality. The laws are objective not just subjective.

Take, one who suggests there is an ugly gulch between our inner world of appearances and thoughts, and the outer one of things in themselves, so that we can never bridge the gap.

But, to make such a claim is to make a claim to know something about  external reality, its alleged un-knowable nature.

Self-referential incoherence leading to confusion, in short.

(That will not faze some, but that only tells the rest of us, that such are beyond the reach of reason. Pray for them, that is their only hope.)

So, we are back at the objectivity of these first principles of right reason.

Let me now clip a comment just made in the KN thread:

This, from Wiki speaking against known ideological inclination, on the Laws of Thought c. Feb 2012 [cf Rationale], may help in understanding how the three key first principles of right reason are inextricably linked:

The law of non-contradiction and the law of excluded middle are not separate laws per se, but correlates of the law of identity. That is to say, they are two interdependent and complementary principles that inhere naturally (implicitly) within the law of identity, as its essential nature . . . whenever we ‘identify’ a thing as belonging to a certain class or instance of a class, we intellectually set that thing apart from all the other things in existence which are ‘not’ of that same class or instance of a class. In other words, the proposition, “A is A and A is not ~A” (law of identity) intellectually partitions a universe of discourse (the domain of all things) into exactly two subsets, A and ~A, and thus gives rise to a dichotomy. As with all dichotomies, A and ~A must then be ‘mutually exclusive’ and ‘jointly exhaustive’ with respect to that universe of discourse. In other words, ‘no one thing can simultaneously be a member of both A and ~A’ (law of non-contradiction), whilst ‘every single thing must be a member of either A or ~A’ (law of excluded middle).

See what happens so soon as we make a clear and crisp distinction?

Therefore, why I highlight how we are using glyphs, characters, words, sentences, symbols, relations, expressions etc in trying to make all of these novel “logics” or Quantum speculations, etc?

That is, we inescapably are marking distinctions and are dichotomising reality, into (T|NOT-T) . . . (H|NOT_H) . . . (A|NOT_A) . . . (T|NOT_T) etc. just to type out a sentence. The stability of identity of T, H, A, T then leads straight to the correlates, that we have marked a distinction that is “‘mutually exclusive’ and ‘jointly exhaustive’ with respect to that universe of discourse.”

The implication is, that so soon as we make sharp distinctions and identify things on the one side thereof, we are facing the underlying significance of such distinctions: A is A, A is not NOT_A, and there is not a fuzzy thing out there other than A and NOT_A. of course, there are spectra or trends or timelines that credibly have a smooth gradation along a continuum, there are superpositions and there are trichotomies etc [which can be reduced to structured sets of dichotomies). But so soon as we are even just talking of this, we are inescapably back to the business of making (A|NOT_A) distinctions.

That is where I find myself standing this morning.

What about you? END

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176 Responses to Stirring the Pot, 3: What about the so-called Laws of Thought/First Principles of Right Reason?

  1. Is reason itself now in the balance, and is it the “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” who are standing up in its defense?

  2. KF posted this:

    Is reason itself now in the balance, and is it the “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” who are standing up in its defense?

    How are we to tell if you are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked?

  3. 3
    William J Murray

    I’m sipping my morning coffee, wondering what would drive someone to reject the rules of right reason, and the only answer I can come up with is that it’s because they know, on some level, that employing the rules of right reason will take them somewhere they don’t want to go.

    Perhaps one abandons such rules, or denies their authority, to preemptively take the teeth out of any argument that would demonstrate their beliefs wrong.

    After all, you can’t ever prove someone wrong if they deny they are bound to any objective arbiter of truth values, including something so basic as the law suggestion of non-contradiction

  4. Ah, WJM: I think in many cases, people are simply intimidated by the dominating power of current conventional wisdom. All those folks out there with big degrees saying that Aristotelian reasoning is passe silly black-white thinking [actually, any shade of pink, green or blue would do to be in NOT_White], is disproved — oops! — by claimed quantum counter-examples, is a silly resort of neo-fascist potentially genocidal cultists of the ever so unpleasant Bronze age fiction in the sky, and besides, right and wrong are matters of personal opinion, and so much and so forth. Multiply by the swarm down game with anyone who dares say: but der Emperor hasn’t got a thread of clothes on him. Or, maybe someone out there can show us why we are wrong, are mistaken, are in error (hint: trick question). KF

  5. OT: Dr. Paul Nelson, of Discovery Institute, has a new ‘light-hearted’ video interview up:

    Dr. Seuss Biology | Origins with Dr. Paul A. Nelson – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVx42Izp1ek

    accompanying pdf

    http://www.ctvn.org/origins/pd.....iology.pdf

  6. Timothya you ask:

    How are we to tell if you are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked?

    That would pose quite the dilemma for people who hold to a worldview that cannot ground reason or morality wouldn’t it?

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    Scientific Peer Review is in Trouble: From Medical Science to Darwinism – Mike Keas – October 10, 2012
    Excerpt: Survival is all that matters on evolutionary naturalism. Our evolving brains are more likely to give us useful fictions that promote survival rather than the truth about reality. Thus evolutionary naturalism undermines all rationality (including confidence in science itself). Renown philosopher Alvin Plantinga has argued against naturalism in this way (summary of that argument is linked on the site:).
    Or, if your short on time and patience to grasp Plantinga’s nuanced argument, see if you can digest this thought from evolutionary cognitive psychologist Steve Pinker, who baldly states:
    “Our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth; sometimes the truth is adaptive, sometimes it is not.”
    Steven Pinker, evolutionary cognitive psychologist, How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton, 1997), p. 305.
    http://blogs.christianpost.com.....ism-12421/

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    The Knock-Down Argument Against Atheist Sam Harris’ moral landscape argument – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL_vAH2NIPc

    Richard Dawkins and the Moral Argument for God by William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f3I2QGpucs

    R.C. Sproul and Stephen Meyer Explain Ethics – video – 2013
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzQwyq_e9fI

    Stephen Meyer – Morality Presupposes Theism (1 of 4) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSpdh1b0X_M

  7. Semi OT: Reductive Materialism (i.e. atheism) found wanting as explanation for observed brain wave patterns:

    ‘Brain Waves’ Challenge Area-Specific View of Brain Activity – Mar. 20, 2013
    Excerpt: Our understanding of brain activity has traditionally been linked to brain areas – when we speak, the speech area of the brain is active. New research by an international team of psychologists led by David Alexander and Cees van Leeuwen (KU Leuven – University of Leuven) shows that this view may be overly rigid. The entire cortex, not just the area responsible for a certain function, is activated when a given task is initiated. Furthermore, activity occurs in a pattern: waves of activity roll from one side of the brain to the other.,,,
    ,,,the psychologists explore uncharted territory: “We are examining the activity in the cerebral cortex as a whole. The brain is a non-stop, always-active system. When we perceive something, the information does not end up in a specific part of our brain. Rather, it is added to the brain’s existing activity. If we measure the electrochemical activity of the whole cortex, we find wave-like patterns. This shows that brain activity is not local but rather that activity constantly moves from one part of the brain to another. The local activity in the Brodmann areas only appears when you average over many such waves.”
    Each activity wave in the cerebral cortex is unique. “When someone repeats the same action, such as drumming their fingers, the motor centre in the brain is stimulated. But with each individual action, you still get a different wave across the cortex as a whole.,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....115111.htm

  8. Semi related:

    In The Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson Offers the Best Explication Yet of Nagel’s Book and the Nagel Affair – March 20, 2013
    Excerpt: “A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions — understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots — wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.”
    Andrew Ferguson – The Weekly Standard – March 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....70221.html

  9. From the OP:

    Take, one who suggests there is an ugly gulch between our inner world of appearances and thoughts, and the outer one of things in themselves, so that we can never bridge the gap.

    But, to make such a claim is to make a claim to know something about external reality, its alleged un-knowable nature.

    Wow, you have dispensed with Kant, one of the greatest thinkers in Western philosophy, with a quick one-liner. Very impressive.

    As the OP points out, “the principles of right reason” are a function of language. They allow us to think and discuss the concepts with which we organize our experience. Those concepts, however, are not reality. They constitute the filters through which we perceive and organize our experience.

    But what if Lao Tzu was right when he wrote,

    The Tao that can be told
    is not the eternal Tao.
    The name that can be named
    is not the eternal name.

    The unnamable is the eternally real.
    Naming is the origin
    of all particular things.

    What if my former teacher, Reshad Feild, was right when he delcared,”Reason is powerless in the expression of Love.”?
    What if mystics from all traditions are right when they say that language is incapable of conveying the truth of Reality?

    If so, then we need some other means than the use of reason, or even, ultimately, language itself, to discern Truth.

    Is it possible that there is more, KF, betwixt Heaven and Earth than is drempt of in your philosophy?

  10. Bruce David, do you see the irony of your comment?

  11. Bruce: “Those concepts, however, are not reality.”

    Can the planet that we call Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way?

  12. Bobmo:

    Bruce David, do you see the irony of your comment?

    If you mean that I am using language to convey this “truth”, then yes, of course I see it. But this truth is not what I mean when I capitalize the word. That “Truth” might be characterized as the essential nature of Reality.

    The problem is, though, that language is all we have with which to communicate. If, as the mystics aver and I believe, language is incapable of conveying the Truth, then we’re kind of stuck.

    However, the good news is that language can be used by a master to point the way to the Truth, or to help someone to open up so that Truth can be seen directly. This is why, after declaring that “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.”, Lao Tzu continues writing for 80 more verses. He is attempting to open the reader to the point where a direct vision or awareness of the Truth becomes possible, or at least to set the reader on a path that will eventually culminate in such an awareness.

  13. Stephen, re. #11:

    Can the planet that we call Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way?

    What is the point of this question?

  14. @Bruce David (13)
    The point is to find out if you have a problem with the law of non-contradiction.

  15. Box, re #14:
    Then he should ask me: “Bruce, do you have a problem with the law of non-contradiction?” I’m willing to have a discussion of our respective views and ideas. I’m not willing any more to play one-upsmanship games where the purpose of the comments of people who disagree with me is apparently to try to trap me into some kind of contradiction so they can “win”.

  16. Bruce: “Then he should ask me: “Bruce, do you have a problem with the law of non-contradiction?”

    Why would I ask you to answer a question that you have already answered? You have already stated that you do have a problem with the Law of Non-Contradiction, which, by definition, has a logical, psychological, and ontological component, each of which is inseparable from the other. By saying that it does not apply to the real world (the ontological component), you are denying the law.

    My question is a follow up question to your answer: Can the planet that we call Jupiter (which is part of the real world) exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way.

    You might answer by saying,

    “As I stated, the Law of Non-Contradiction, which pertains only to language, is not binding on the real world, therefore there is no reason why Jupiter cannot exist and not exist at the same time.”

    Or, you might say,

    “Since you have provided a concrete example, I now understand that the Law of Non-Contradiction would have to apply to the real world, otherwise it would make no sense and there would be no point to it.”

    Its one or the other. All you have to do is pick one.

  17. kairosfocus: “But, to make such a claim is to make a claim to know something about external reality, its alleged un-knowable nature.”

    Bruce: “Wow, you have dispensed with Kant, one of the greatest thinkers in Western philosophy, with a quick one-liner. Very impressive.”

    Kairosfocus is right. Kant refutes himself. By claiming that we can know nothing of the real world, he is, at the same time, claiming to know something about the real world, namely that we cannot know it.

  18. Stephen, re #16:

    You have already stated that you do have a problem with the Law of Non-Contradiction, which, by definition, has a logical, psychological, and ontological component, each of which is inseparable from the other. By saying that it does not apply to the real world (the ontological component), you are denying the law.

    What I wrote was the following. If you will read it carefully you will see that I stated that the rules of reason allow us to manipulate the concepts which underlie language and with which we organize our experience. I made no statement one way or the other regarding whether they apply to the “real world”.

    As the OP points out, “the principles of right reason” are a function of language. They allow us to think and discuss the concepts with which we organize our experience. Those concepts, however, are not reality. They constitute the filters through which we perceive and organize our experience.

  19. Bruce, I would not want to misrepresent you. Perhaps Bobmo, Box, and myself misunderstood you. It’s an easy enough thing to clear up. Does the Law of Non-Contradiction apply to the real world?

  20. Stephen, re #18:

    Kairosfocus is right. Kant refutes himself. By claiming that we can know nothing of the real world, he is, at the same time, claiming to know something about the real world, namely that we cannot know it.

    You are mistaken. The statement is a statement about the human condition, not about the real world. It is a statement regarding the limits of what it is possible for us to know, which says nothing about the nature of the world external to ourselves.

    To assert that “We can know nothing of external reality.” is a statement about external reality is absurd. It’s a statement about us. It makes no statement whatsoever about the nature of external reality.

    Kant was no fool. I am sure that if he thought there was any merit to a criticism such as yours and KF’s, he could easily have fixed it by simply adding the phrase, “other than that we can know nothing of its nature.” He evidently saw no need to do so, and rightly so.

  21. Stephen, re #19.
    As I stated in #12, I side with the mystics that language is totally inadequate to describe Reality. Since the law of non-contradiction applies to the concepts that are embedded in language, the question is a misapplication of categories. It is meaningless, like asking “What color is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle?”

  22. SB and BD:

    I have indeed raised a concern about the classic Kantian approach, however, the point can hardly be said to be original to me. (I never intended to imply such a claim.)

    Here is William Lane Craig in turn citing F H Bradley from 1930:

    insofar as these . . . assumptions include Kant’s strictures on the scope of scientific knowledge, they are deeply, fatally flawed. For Kant must at least be claiming to have knowledge of the way some things (e.g., the mind and its structures and operations) exist in themselves and not merely as they appear; he confidently affirms that the idea of God, for instance, has the property of unknowability. [10] So the theory relies on knowledge that the theory, if it was true, would not — could not — allow. [ Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment, ed. Paul Copan (Downer's Grove, IL: IVP, 2000), p. 13. NB: Ref. [10] is to Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief, pp. 3 – 30, and is shortly followed by a reference to F. H. Bradley’s gentle but stinging opening salvo in his Appearance and Reality, 2nd Edn.: that “The man who is ready to prove that metaphysical knowledge is impossible has . . . himself . . . perhaps unknowingly, entered the arena [of metaphysics] . . . . To say that reality is such that our knowledge cannot reach it, is to claim to know reality.” (Clarendon Press, 1930), p.1]

    BD, you need to address the ugly gulch and to show how the concept of objective warrant that justifies beliefs as credibly true — corresponding accurately to reality — cannot bridge from the inner world of our perceptions and thoughts, to the outer one of the world in which we live.

    Where, even what I commonly call, warranted, credible truth no 1: Royce’s Error exists, is a case of certain knowledge concerning objective states of affairs. That is, even to try to deny this claim, is to imply and substantiate it by instance, it is undeniably true. Namely, there are statements or thoughts that fail to accurately correspond to external reality, something that those ugly red X-marks in grade school make all too vividly clear as we take up our first steps in doing sums.

    In addition, you need to face the challenge that to assert that one cannot know concerning the external world seemingly implies at least two points of such claimed knowledge of that world: (i) that it exists and is known to exist, and (ii) that it is known to have the characteristic of un-knowability.

    On fair comment, it seems to me that both (i) and (ii) would constitute knowledge claims about that external world and so are indeed self referential and incoherent, a denial of the possibility of knowledge of the external world that implies knowledge claims to just such forbidden knowledge.

    But then, that is exactly the point of the problem, and it seems to be one root of the modern dubiousness on the law of non-contradiction, which as I have pointed out in the original post, is a facet of the reality of distinct identity.

    I agree with SB, that there are three aspects to the law:

    (i) ONTOLOGICAL: so soon as a distinct state of affairs or object exists in the real world and has an identity, A [perhaps, our bright red ball on a table from childhood], then we have an existing state of partition, {A|NOT_A} which is all we need for the three laws to be in action in the external world.

    (ii) PSYCHOLOGICAL: so soon as we perceive or believe that a certain state of affairs or object exists in that external world or even in our inner world of thought, we have similarly partitioned, where A now represents a perception or belief.

    (iii) LOGICAL & LINGUISTIC (semantics): once we assert in thought or speech that A is a distinct state of affairs or object, we have asserted a partition that brings to bear the logic of distinct identity.

    Each of these levels interacts with the others, and responds to the primary one, the real world case where we do in fact have distinct objects and states of affairs.

    Which, however imperfect our overall state of knowledge, we can and do know some things concerning. In certain cases, even to undeniable certainty.

    KF

  23. F/N: I forget, we live in a Web Archive age, here is the key passage in Bradley, in context, from the 1897 scanned copy of the book as was just linked:

    _______________

    >>INTRODUCTION.

    The writer on metaphysics has a great deal against him. Engaged on a subject which more than others demands peace of spirit, even before he enters on the controversies of his own field, he finds himself involved in a sort of warfare. He is confronted by prejudices hostile to his study, and he is tempted to lean upon those prejudices, within him and around him, which seem contrary to the first. It is on the preconceptions adverse to metaphysics in general that I am going to make some remarks by way of introduction. We may agree, perhaps, to understand by metaphysics an attempt to know reality as against mere appearance, or the study of first principles or ultimate truths, or again the effort to comprehend the universe, not simply piecemeal or by fragments, but somehow as a whole.

    Any such pursuit will encounter a number of objections. It will have to hear that the knowledge which it desires to obtain is impossible altogether; or, if possible in some degree, is yet practically useless ; or that, at all events, we can want nothing beyond the old philosophies. And I will say a few words on these arguments in their order.

    (a) The man who is ready to prove that metaphysical knowledge is wholly impossible has no right here to any answer. He must be referred for conviction to the body of this treatise. And he can hardly refuse to go there, since he himself has, perhaps unknowingly, entered the arena. He is a brother metaphysician with a rival theory of first principles. And this is so plain that I must excuse myself from dwelling on the point. To say the reality is such that our knowledge cannot reach it, is a claim to know reality; to urge that our knowledge is of a kind which must fail to transcend appearance, itself implies that transcendence. For, if we had no idea of a beyond, we should assuredly not know how to talk about failure or success. And the test, by which we distinguish them, must obviously be some acquaintance with the nature of the goal.

    Nay, the would-be sceptic, who presses on us the contradictions of our thoughts, himself asserts dogmatically. For these contradictions might be ultimate and absolute truth, if the nature of the reality were not known to be otherwise. But this introduction is not the place to discuss a class of objections which are themselves, however unwillingly, metaphysical views, and which a little acquaintance with the subject commonly serves to dispel. So far as is necessary, they will be dealt with in their proper place ; and I will therefore pass to the second main argument against metaphysics.

    (6) It would be idle to deny that this possesses great force. ” Metaphysical knowledge,” it insists, ” may be possible theoretically, and even actual, if you please, to a certain degree; but, for all that, it is practically no knowledge worth the name.” And this objection may be rested on various grounds. I will state some of these, and will make the answers which appear to me to be sufficient . . . .

    How much we can ascertain about reality will be discussed in this book; but I may say at once that I expect a very partial satisfaction. I am so bold as to believe that we have a knowledge of the Absolute, certain and real, though I am sure that our comprehension is miserably incomplete. But I dissent emphatically from the conclusion that, because imperfect, it is worthless. And I must suggest to the objector that he should open his eyes and should consider human nature. Is it possible to abstain from thought about the universe ? I do not mean merely that to every one the whole body of things must come in the gross, whether consciously or unconsciously, in a certain way. I mean that, by various causes, even the average man is compelled to wonder and to reflect. To him the world, and his share in it. is a natural object of thought, and seems likely to remain one. And so, when poetry, art, and religion have ceased wholly to interest, or when they show no longer any tendency to struggle with ultimate problems and to come to an understanding with them ; when the sense of mystery and enchantment no longer draws the mind to wander aim-lessly and to love it knows not what; when, in short, twilight has no charm—then metaphysics will be worthless. For the question (as things are now) is not whether we are to reflect and ponder on ultimate truth—for perhaps most of us do that, and are not likely to cease. The question is merely as to the way in which this should be done. And the claim of metaphysics is surely not unreasonable. Metaphysics takes its stand on this side of human nature, this desire to think about and comprehend reality. And it merely asserts that, if the attempt is to be made, it should be done as thoroughly as our nature permits. There is no claim on its part to supersede other functions of the human mind ; but it protests that, if we are to think, we should sometimes try to think properly. And the opponent of metaphysics, it appears to me, is driven to a dilemma. He must either condemn all reflection on the essence of things,—and, if so, he breaks, or, rather, tries to break, with part of the highest side of human nature,—or else he allows us to think, but not to think strictly. He permits, that is to say, the exercise of thought so long as it is entangled with other functions of our being; but as soon as it attempts a pure development of its own, guided by the principles of its own distinctive working, he prohibits it forthwith. And this appears to be a paradox, since it seems equivalent to saying, You may satisfy your instinctive longing to reflect, so long as you do it in a way which is unsatisfactory . . . [cf. the linked for more, much more]>>
    ________________

    I trust this will be enough to show that it is by no means beyond doubt that the ugly gulch between appearance and reality imposes an insuperable barrier that none can cross. Nor, are my concerns the mere pratings of a silly little blog commenter who carries no weight, or the talking points of one whom many would unjustly dismiss as a mere debater. Bradley, a British Idealist philosopher, was not only a [non-teaching . . . free to research] fellow of Oxford, but the very first Philosopher to be awarded an Order of Merit — a dynastic order recognising distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture, limited to 24 living recipients — in the UK.

    I do not cite such to say F H Bradley was right by dint of being an authority, but to say that the “X was eminent and brilliant” argument plainly cuts both ways.

    So, let us revert to addressing the matter on the actual merits, as already outlined.

    KF

  24. Bruce: “Since the law of non-contradiction applies to the concepts that are embedded in language, the question is a misapplication of categories. It is meaningless, like asking “What color is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle?”

    Strictly speaking, the Law of Non-Contradiction applies to language and truth while the Law of Identity, which is its ontological component, applies to the things in the real world and truth. So, if you like, we can rephrase the question: Do you believe that the Law of Identity (the Ontological component of the Law of Identity) applies to the real world?

  25. F/N: To make it clear that I am intending to speak on both sides of the inner/outer world divide — itself an application of the principle of dichotomy! — I have added to the original post a case of an actual red ball on a table, thanks to a child bloggist experimenting with photography. KF

  26. BD, Just to highlight: can language refer to the world, to objects and states of affairs? (Hint: trick question — self referential.) KF

  27. OT:

    Anthony Jack, Why Don’t Psychopaths Believe in Dualism? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....Zcuzqbt0_g

    LOL per:

    “A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions — understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots — wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.”
    Andrew Ferguson – The Weekly Standard – March 2013

  28. Bruce:

    Wow, you have dispensed with Kant, one of the greatest thinkers in Western philosophy, with a quick one-liner. Very impressive.

    That Kant is considered one of the greatest thinkers in Western philosophy is proof that Western philosophy has gone horribly wrong.

  29. ES: Pardon, but Kant, when all is said and done has been one of the greats of philosophy. I am pointing to a point of concern that has long been raised, but in truth, similar concerns can probably be found in the work of just about any merely finite, fallible, morally struggling/fallen and tempted to be ill-willed philosopher of note you care to name. Indeed, I remember a long time ago hearing it said that when serious fallacies are being identified, often the examples come from the works of great thinkers, showing just how hard it is to consistently think soundly. This reminds me of the strategy used by many computer chess programs: catching and exploiting errors. KF

  30. KF:
    Ok, I am not a Kantian, and I am not really interested in defending his position, although I am sure that a Kantian would be capable of countering the points made by you and others above. Clearly, the subject is subtle and deep. My comment was expressing the fact that I found your one line dismissal rather cavalier and did not give the subject anywhere near the depth of treatment that it deserves.

    You have since remedied that. I am satisfied.

  31. Stephen,

    The problem here is that we have quite different ideas of what constitutes reality. You said in #16, “Can the planet that we call Jupiter (which is part of the real world) exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way.” From this, I conclude that you believe that physical objects are part of “the real world”, or reality.

    My view is considerably different. Jupiter to me is a mental construct, formed by my mind based on pictures I have seen and descriptions I have read. In fact, all physical objects, even KF’s red ball, are concepts constructed on the basis of myriad sense impressions, all of which exist or existed in my mind. The laws of right reason, of which you are so fond, apply to these concepts, these “objects” we have created in our minds to organize and manage our sensory experience.

    The Sufis say that the physical world is “the world of appearances” and not reality. Reality to them, as to all mystics, is ineffable and cannot be described in words. It can be talked about, but the use of language to describe Reality always falls short.

    The laws of right reason are embedded in language and apply to the concepts which we call objects or things. To ask whether they apply to Reality, which lies behind the world of appearances and is beyond the ability of language to address, is to ask a question which cannot be answered.

  32. BD, re #20

    Kant was no fool. I am sure that if he thought there was any merit to a criticism such as yours and KF’s, he could easily have fixed it by simply adding the phrase, “other than that we can know nothing of its nature.” He evidently saw no need to do so, and rightly so.

    You are very trusting. I’m sure no scientist or philosopher has *ever* reached a potentially problematic conclusion and done one or more of the following:

    - Tried to ignore it entirely, hoping no one would notice.
    - Tried to brush past it quickly, hoping no one would dwell on it.
    - Hoped that his own authority would carry the argument past the problem. (Possibly the hope being acted on above on Kant’s behalf?)
    - Tried to bluff his/her way straight through the issue.
    - Simply missed the problem entirely.

    Alternatively, are you saying that philosophers have made no progress since Kant? Or that no subsequent examination of his analyses could possibly have uncovered a problem? Why should that be so?

    (I see now that BD says he’s not a Kantian after all. So never mind.)

  33. F/N: I have added an image of Jupiter as an example, the ultimate “red ball” — but one — in the solar system.

    That brings up the philosophical question as to what is “real.”

    To which, the answer is, that which is as opposed to that which is not. We may have concepts or perceptions of or experiences with what is real, that may be more or less partly accurate and are usually also partly inaccurate. But, that which is real stands above what we may think is real, and often can correct such. (Planets, for instance were once seen as wandering stars — hence “planetos” for wanderer. Then, they were seen as orbiting our world, then we came to understand that our home world was one of the planets orbiting the sun, as investigations more and more corrected our impressions and concepts.)

    If we are reduced to thinking that something like that gas giant planet we call Jupiter is equal to the cluster of our concepts about it, we are in trouble.

    For, to err is all too human.

    KF

    PS: It is worth the while to snip Wiki’s introduction to its article on Reality:

    Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined.[1] In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. A still more broad definition includes everything that has existed, exists, or will exist.

    Philosophers, mathematicians, and other ancient and modern thinkers, such as Aristotle, Plato, Frege, Wittgenstein, and Russell, have made a distinction between thought corresponding to reality, coherent abstractions (thoughts of things that are imaginable but not real), and that which cannot even be rationally thought. By contrast existence is often restricted solely to that which has physical existence or has a direct basis in it in the way that thoughts do in the brain.

    Reality is often contrasted with what is imaginary, delusional, (only) in the mind, dreams, what is abstract, what is false, or what is fictional. The truth refers to what is real, while falsity refers to what is not. Fictions are considered not real.

  34. Bruce David (31): “My view is considerably different. Jupiter to me is a mental construct, formed by my mind based on pictures I have seen and descriptions I have read. In fact, all physical objects, even KF’s red ball, are concepts constructed on the basis of myriad sense impressions, all of which exist or existed in my mind.”

    Is Jupiter just a mental construct; does Jupiter only exist in your mind? Are the pictures of Jupiter a creation of your mind? Did you create internet, this forum and ‘my’ questions?

  35. KF, re #33
    From the first line of the Wikipedia quote:

    Reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear…

    But if the Sufis are right, and the physical universe in which we live our lives is “the world of appearances”, then it isn’t real, it is rather the appearance of reality. Reality is what stands behind the appearance. But is that reality leptons and quarks, or is it, as the mystics would have it, something ineffable, which can be known but not spoken.

    I throw my lot in with the mystics.

  36. 36
    William J Murray

    Is Jupiter just a mental construct; does Jupiter only exist in your mind? Are the pictures of Jupiter a creation of your mind? Did you create internet, this forum and ‘my’ questions?

    Box, the problem Bruce David is facing is that he has no way to act as if the things he experiences are anything but “real” in the common, traditional sense of the word. Note that he is attempting communication – with whom? through what? – as if he expects you to not only exist as he conceives, but also for you to conceptually interpret the assumed exterior reality of internet transmissions the way that he intends them.

    Sure, this might all be in his mind. Or, everything ouside of his mind could be completely different than his mind arranges. But though such mental contortions and flights are interesting, you simply cannot act in the world as if those ideas are valid. You do not stand in the path of an oncoming train and assure yourself that it might not really exist.

    So, while pondering such things might be amusing, if one cannot even live as if such things are true, and cannot even argue and debate as if such things are true; indeed, if even the concept “it is true that reality is not like what we think” is itself an inscrutable transmission that we only interpret as our minds reinvent, then what Bruce David is offering is nothing more than solipsistic sophistry.

  37. BD:

    Pardon, I said no such thing as that the physical world we share exhausts reality, or that appearance equals reality; though appearance often reflects reality.

    It is a part of it, and it seems leptons, baryons etc are as real as red balls and planets in it. It is also real that 2 + 3 = 5.

    Beyond that I would suggest that while we may not comprehend all of reality, and while such understandings as we have are partly error-prone, that does not entail the utter incomprehensibility of reality.

    I would be very cautious of such a claim, or the too sharp dichotomising between appearance and reality, the latter being deemed beyond intelligible description, as the very assertion implies a claim to understand somewhat about that which is held to be beyond understanding.

    I suggest rather, that our understanding is partial, imperfect and error prone, but that does not entail that it is hopelessly delusional or the like.

    KF

  38. The mystics are permanently and hopelessly confused. It is impossible to “get behind” or transcend (go beyond) thought. Are they thinking that they are thinking that they are thinking… ad nauseum? Of course not. They are THINKING. This is the STARTING point for all knowledge. Descartes got this right but he erred in that he started with the mind rather than with reality, i.e. existence. The way it really goes is: I exist therefore I think (the Law of Causality) AND I think, therefore I know that I exist. This ties ontology and epistemology together in an unbreakable way. They are the two sides of the same metaphysical coin.

    And what are the contents of our thoughts? Why they are sense experiences, to be sure, converted to mental objects by means of language. One of the great errors that Kant made was to declare that our mind had “categories” and that our minds imposed these categories on our sense experiences. Therefore, he wrongly concluded that we cannot know the thing as it is (ding an sich) we can only know the thing as it appears to us (ding fur mich). But that is not what is happening. We are born with the capacity for rational thought, i.e. the capacity to use language to convert sense experience to mental objects in accordance with the First Principle of all existence and thought – The Law of Identity – (Being is Being) and it’s immediate inferences; the Law of Noncontradiction, the Law of Excluded Middle, and the Law of Causality, so that we can, by means of rational thought, connect to reality. These principles precede our existence and our awareness of them but they are not known to us a priori. We know nothing a priori. What is in our minds is first in our senses but that is not all that is in our minds. We can do metaphysics. It’s called “thought.” So to deny that we can do metaphysics, as Kant did, is doing metaphysics.

    Therefore, our mind doesn’t get between us and reality, our mind IS THE WAY in which we experience and connect to reality. This is an egregious error on Kant’s part and that he failed to see the self-refuting nature of his thought has always been a matter of curiosity for me. I’m hardly a Kant expert but he stepped into a deep logical hole from which he could not escape by claiming this.

    The epistemological question is still HOW DO WE KNOW? I suggest that each individual begin with what he knows to a certainty. That I exist. And that I am I. We cannot not know that a thing is what it is and our first and certain knowledge of that begins with our own awareness of our existence. Thus the Law of Identity is the basis for all rational thought. The good news is that it begins with what is necessarily true and it provides by immediate inference the other laws of rational thought. It is interesting to note that we begin with ontology/existence and are aware of this by epistemology/thought. See Exodus 3:14 I AM WHO I AM. And John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word (the Logos – the Greek word to describe the life of the mind) and the Word was with God and the Word was God. And John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Jesus). And John 8:24 and 8:58 where Jesus stated “I am.” Here again, we have existence and identity (I AM WHO I AM) and the way we know of this, the Logos (by means of rational thought). Another tightly wound package of Ontology/Epistemology.

    We are created in the image of God so it’s interesting that we would follow the same model of existence/thought. There is much more to be said and I hope to say it in a paper soon. I would also note that it is irrational to argue rationality with someone who rejects the principles of rational thought. It’s astonishing to me how blind irrationality can be. It reminds me of my favorite line from “The Fellowship of the Ring” when Gandalf said to Saruman: “when did Saruman the wise abandon reason for madness?” When we abandon reason, or rational thought, madness is all that’s left.

  39. BD re 35 (as I break my own rule) “But if the Sufis are right, and the physical universe in which we live our lives is “the world of appearances”, then it isn’t real, it is rather the appearance of reality. Reality is what stands behind the appearance. But is that reality leptons and quarks, or is it, as the mystics would have it, something ineffable, which can be known but not spoken.”

    This is trivially true. Reality is different than our perception of it (although our perception of it is also part of it) just as truth is different from the reality to which it corresponds. This is supposed to be “deep?” Of course there is reality behind appearances, otherwise there would be no appearances. But to go from that to there is no reality, only the appearance of it, or that if there is a reality we can only know the appearance of it, is irrational in the extreme.

    The mystics are into madness, not reality. Just think of the statements you made above. The self-contradictions are obvious.

  40. WJM & Bruce David
    I’m open to the idea that there is a ‘true reality’ out there; NDE reports come to mind. In fact I do hope – very much so – that we will all enter a spiritual reality after death. A spiritual reality which is ‘more real’ and more our true home than this ‘valley of tears’.
    If this is what Bruce David is talking about, no problem here. But I don’t think that the solipsistic concept is coherent.

  41. Box, real is real. How is something “more” real? Law of Identity applies here, I contend. Our after death reality will be different, to be sure, but it will not be any “more” real than this one is right now. We may be more in touch with it. We may “see” it more clearly. But the idea of “more” real seems to me incoherent.

  42. @tgpeeler
    Maybe you are right and there is no such thing as ‘more real’. My thoughts are certainly not settled on these issues.
    Let’s say that you, a person, exist in a different way than say a rock. Could one could argue that you are more real than a rock, on an ontological scale? Possibly you can sustain your own existence, while a rock cannot. Am I making sense here?
    If you can accept the possibility of different grades / kinds of existence, you may accept the possibility that a spiritual world is more real than a material world.

  43. Bruce:

    The laws of right reason are embedded in language and apply to the concepts which we call objects or things.

    No, they are not. What you are describing are not the laws of reason as articulated by Aristotle and understood by Western philosophers for over two thousand years. You are free to accept or reject those laws and clearly you reject them, but you are not free to redefine them in an attempt to have it both ways.

    You are, no doubt, rational by your own standards, but you are not rational by reason’s standards, which are non-negotiable. The whole point of reason rules is to forbid us from defining rationality in a self-serving way. Any attempt to reframe them is, in itself, an irrational act, making rational discourse impossible.

  44. 44

    Tom Peeler for President.

    :)

  45. And the point of this OP is ?

    Can we just accept that UncommonDescent is a philosopy/theology site ?

    Im still waiting for the big advances in ID.

  46. “Can we just accept that UncommonDescent is a philosopy/theology site ?”

    Well, as a Darwinist you ought to feel right at home. Definitely out of league, but right at home none-the-less!

  47. correction ” Definitely out of YOUR league”,,,

  48. Box, re 34:

    Is Jupiter just a mental construct; does Jupiter only exist in your mind? Are the pictures of Jupiter a creation of your mind? Did you create internet, this forum and ‘my’ questions?

    I’ll try to be clear here. Everything I know of the “external world” comes through my senses, which in the aggregate constitute my experience. My experience is entirely of the mind (where “mind” is taken to mean the sum total of the objects of consciousness—sense impressions, thoughts, emotions, memories, intentions, fantasies, dreams, etc.). Objects such as Jupiter or KF’s red ball are concepts my mind constructs in order to make sense of and deal effectively with experience. Is there a “real” Jupiter out there that corresponds in some way to the collection of sense impressions according to which I create the concept? Most people think that there is, I admit, but I see no need to make such an assumption, which saves my metaphysics from a basically insoluble problem, namely how is it that mind and matter can have any causal effect on each other.

    So I claim that I created my own concept of the planet Jupiter. I make no such claim with regard to the sensory inputs upon which I base such a concept. Likewise with the Internet. I take responsibility for my concept of what the Internet is, but I do not claim to have created the experiences upon which that concept is based. And by the way, I am not a solipsist. I accept your existence as well, with the caveat that you are not your physical body at all.

  49. G-2 @ 45

    This is something materialist Darwinists don’t understand. In order to “do” science, one must not only accumulate evidence, one must also rationally evaluate it. This means making axiomatic assumptions about how the universe is and reasoning from there. We assume that things are what they are as our starting point. This is undeniable to anyone with a functioning brain. You assume that matter and energy are all that exist. Anybody with a functioning brain can see this is false on the face of it. You are incapable of doing good science because your philosophy sucks. Get it? I have always found it extremely amusing that the materialists claim on the one hand that matter and energy are all that exist and on the other hand they try to explain the material universe by means of abstract laws expressed in the abstract language of mathematics. Hmmmm. Yeah, that sounds really rational to me. The philosophy has to be settled before the science can be argued.

  50. WJM, re #36:

    Box, the problem Bruce David is facing is that he has no way to act as if the things he experiences are anything but “real” in the common, traditional sense of the word.

    In the first place even if what you say were true, it would not be a problem. I live in “The world of appearances”. This world has its rules (principles of physics, etc.) which I am bound by if I wish to continue abiding here and not be summarily ejected to the place where people having an NDE experience go. I have made no claim regarding the degree to which I have control over the content of my experience here on planet earth.

    That said, however, I do live my life differently than I did when I was a materialist and believed that I was at the mercy of material forces beyond my control. I believe that it is possible for our intentions to have profound influences on the physical. I am not yet at a place where I believe that I can step in front of a train and survive, but I do believe that such a thing is possible. Jesus was not the only evolved being in the history of the planet to have performed miracles. As an example in my own life, I believe that it is possible for me to have conscious control over the placebo effect, and thus directly influence my health through intention, and I live my life based on that belief.

  51. tgpeeler, re #38:

    The epistemological question is still HOW DO WE KNOW?

    I agree. After that we part company. I regard the history of Western Philosophy as a 2000 year long demonstration of the impotence of reason to discover truth, which is to say, to know anything.

    No, we need another way to know. The mystics see directly into the nature of reality. I’ll go with that.

    re #39:

    The Reality that lies behind the world of appearances is far, far from trivial. You are knocking down a straw man here.

  52. Stephen, re #43:

    The laws of right reason are embedded in language and apply to the concepts which we call objects or things.

    No, they are not. What you are describing are not the laws of reason as articulated by Aristotle and understood by Western philosophers for over two thousand years. You are free to accept or reject those laws and clearly you reject them, but you are not free to redefine them in an attempt to have it both ways.

    Excuse me, I am free to do whatever I like. You might not like it, but that ain’t my problem.

    But in any case, I disagree with your assessment. I have not redefined the laws, nor do I reject them; I have merely articulated my view of the domain in which it makes sense to ask if they hold, and the domain in which it does not.

    The disagreement between us is not about the nature of the laws, it is about the nature of reality. What I call the “concepts which we call objects or things” you believe have an existence independent of our minds. I make no such assumption.

  53. KF, re #37:

    I would be very cautious of such a claim, or the too sharp dichotomising between appearance and reality, the latter being deemed beyond intelligible description, as the very assertion implies a claim to understand somewhat about that which is held to be beyond understanding.

    What I assert is that Reality cannot be described by the use of language. I never said it could not be known. In fact, I said the exact opposite (see #35).

  54. Bruce:

    Excuse me, I am free to do whatever I like. You might not like it, but that ain’t my problem.

    Excuse me, but you are not free to misrepresent the facts–or to invent your own definition of the Law of Identity– or to reduce it to a function of language–try though you might. Whether you like it or not, that principle is tied to ontological reality. As Aristotle puts it, “It is impossible that the same thing belong and not belong to the same thing at the same time and in the same respect.” You will notice that he is writing about the things we talk about, not what we say about the things we talk about. In other words, he is not referring to language; he is referring to things in themselves. You may not like to face the truth, but that is your problem, not mine.

  55. G2:

    I see your @ 45: Can we just accept that UncommonDescent is a philosopy/theology site ? Im still waiting for the big advances in ID.

    Neat little dismissive rhetorical shot, nuh, it’s all over.

    Not so fast.

    If we are to reason accurately and soundly, we have to have the first principles of right reason set straight.

    Where, as it turns out, there is a big problem of the evolutionary materialism-inclined and indoctrinated rejecting, evading or trying to self-servingly redefine such principles, which has come out here at UD [after literally years of back-forth exchanges on pivotal scientific issues raised by ID, such as the significance of FSCO/I as was originally raised by Orgel and Wicken in the 1970's . . . your strawman dismissal fails . . . ] as a consequence of trying to figure out why we have had such intractable exchanges.

    It was particularly seen that quantum theory was put forth as undermining the principles of distinct identity, non-contradiction/non confusion and the excluded middle state. That ended up in a new WAC with a unique extension that gives more details, linked in the opening paragraph of the OP. (It would have been helpful for you to have read the OP before trying a dismissive sniping rhetorical shot).

    Let me therefore clip the opening remarks in the OP:

    In our day, it is common to see the so-called Laws of Thought or First Principles of Right Reason challenged or dismissed. As a rule, design thinkers strongly tend to reject this common trend, including when it is claimed to be anchored in quantum theory.

    Going beyond, here at UD it is common to see design thinkers saying that rejection of the laws of thought is tantamount to rejection of rationality, and is a key source of endless going in evasive rhetorical circles and refusal to come to grips with the most patent facts; often bogging down attempted discussions of ID issues.

    The debate has hotted up over the past several days, and so it is back on the front burner . . .

    I suggest to you, that matters of general logic emerge as important in times of scientific crisis, as well as matters where logic and epistemology of science overlap.

    On that last, it seems that there is a lurking problem of understanding the nature of inductive reasoning and the status of inductive knowledge claims, especially in a context where abductive reasoning as an expression of induction, is pivotal. Notice, a crucial step in design thought (and in wider science), is the principle of inference on empirically tested reliable sign.

    The Wiki article on Shoemaker-Levy 9 is helpful in this regard (and in clarifying how that which is real and objective, corrects our initial impressions and concepts):

    Observers hoped that the impacts would give them a first glimpse of Jupiter beneath the cloud tops, as lower material was exposed by the comet fragments punching through the upper atmosphere. Spectroscopic studies revealed absorption lines in the Jovian spectrum due to diatomic sulfur (S2) and carbon disulfide (CS2), the first detection of either in Jupiter, and only the second detection of S2 in any astronomical object. Other molecules detected included ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). The amount of sulfur implied by the quantities of these compounds was much greater than the amount that would be expected in a small cometary nucleus, showing that material from within Jupiter was being revealed. Oxygen-bearing molecules such as sulfur dioxide were not detected, to the surprise of astronomers.[19]

    As well as these molecules, emission from heavy atoms such as iron, magnesium and silicon was detected, with abundances consistent with what would be found in a cometary nucleus. While substantial water was detected spectroscopically, it was not as much as predicted beforehand, meaning that either the water layer thought to exist below the clouds was thinner than predicted, or that the cometary fragments did not penetrate deeply enough.[20] The relatively low levels of water were later confirmed by Galileo’s atmospheric probe, which explored Jupiter’s atmosphere directly.

    Notice, there were characterisations and models of the chemistry of Jupiter’s atmosphere. These come from models on planetary formation, and also from evaluations of spectroscopic studies — lines, bands etc that per Quantum results, serve as signs that tell us about molecular species, and from intensities we may make estimates of concentrations. Such studies were used to infer to the then not directly observed state of certain features of the Jovian atmosphere.

    That is, we have certain traces and in this cases emanations (IR, Visible, UV spectra) that come from an object of interest. We have an empirically grounded theory of spectroscopy, that allows us to infer that certain causes reliably give off certain effects that can serve as signs of the action of those causes. Actually, that was so even before Quantum Physics explained the details of the spectra on fundamental investigations. For instance, it was known that particular elements give off particular spectral lines, and subtracting away those accounted for, some fresh unaccounted for lines were seen in the Sun’s spectrum. That is how a new element, helium — named after the Sun — was discovered before it was observed here on Earth.

    Afterwards, there was a direct probe of Jupiter which was able to more directly observe the state.

    All of this pivots on the ability to identify distinct objects, phenomena and states of affairs. Scientists invariably use the first principles of right reasoning in scientific investigations, as foundational to the reasoning processes involved. So, scientific investigations in principle cannot undermine such, without reduction to absurdity. This is not unique, it is so with all reasoned thought. The first principles are truly foundational and undeniably true.

    How does all of this tie into the scientific advances made by design thinkers, and to how they are being received or rejected by the evolutionary materialism-dominated schools of thought, their publicists and the more popular level adherents and advocates who hang around in blogs etc?

    First, the design inference is a reasoned exercise in inductive logic. As such, it will pivot on willingness to consistently follow canons of right reason, including the three laws of thought already highlighted and a fourth principle — that of sufficient reason (with the corollary, the principle of causality) that I like to put in the terms discussed by Schopenhauer:

    FIRST PRINCIPLES OF RIGHT REASON:

    — OLD BUSINESS —

    1: LOI: A distinct thing, A, is what it is

    2: LNC: A distinct thing, A, cannot at once be and not-be

    3: LEM: A distinct thing, A, is or it is not, but not both or neither

    — NEW BUSINESS —

    FPRR, # 4 (per Schopenhauer): PRINCIPLE OF SUFFICIENT REASON (PSR): “Of everything [--> e.g., A] that is, it can be found why it is.” [Manuscript Remains, Vol. 4]

    Sounds almost trivial, doesn’t it.

    It isn’t.

    This means that when we see an object, phenomenon or state of affairs, we may properly ask: why is this so. Thence, we come to the point that many things have a beginning or may cease to be and are thus seen to be dependent on external factors, which we call causes. Indeed, taking the example of a fire, we see that if any one or more of heat, fuel, oxidiser and chain reaction are missing or interfered with a fire cannot start or will cease. (That is how fire fighters work.)

    That is, we see on/off switch enabling causal factors.

    These stipulate a cluster of necessary conditions for a fire to come to be, all must be “on” or the fire is not possible or sustainable.

    Such extends to bigger things, including red balls, Jupiter, the Sun and solar system, the observed cosmos, and cell-based life in it. That which begins or may cease to be, is contingent on enabling on/off causal factors, i.e it is an effect and is caused. That’s the corollary to the principle of sufficient reason.

    Let’s highlight it:

    4a, Corr to PSR: PRINCIPLE OF CAUSALITY: That which begins or may cease to be, is contingent on enabling on/off causal factors, i.e. it is an effect and is caused.

    As a further corollary, it is evident that for there to be an effect there must be a sufficient, adequate cluster of causal factors, including at least all the on/off enabling factors. Causal adequacy and sufficiency are pivotal to understanding the nature of phenomena, objects and states of affairs.

    Let us highlight:

    4b, Corr to PSR: PRINCIPLE OF REQUIRED ADEQUACY OF CAUSE FOR AN EFFECT TO OCCUR: for there to be an effect there must be a sufficient, adequate cluster of causal factors, including at least all the on/off enabling factors.

    But, a subtler point lurks.

    What of the possibility of entities that do not have enabling on/off factors? (That is, that are not contingent beings?)

    We have arrived at the possibility of necessary beings, beings that have no external dependence on enabling factors, and as such would not have a beginning, and cannot cease from being. These would exist in all possible worlds, including the actual one we inhabit.

    For instance, the truth asserted in “2 + 3 = 5″ is such a necessary being.

    So also, we now see two modes of being (and imply a mode of non-being). There are contingent beings, necessary beings, and impossible beings. An example of the last would be a square circle, which is a contradiction in terms and inherently cannot exist.

    Let’s highlight:

    5: POSSIBILITY/ACTUALITY OF NECESSARY BEINGS: A serious candidate to be a necessary being will be credibly non-contingent, and will be either impossible or possible. If impossible, there is a reason why it cannot be; and if possible, there is at least one possible world in which it would be actual, but as such a serious candidate would be in all possible worlds if it is in any possible world (think about why) if not impossible, if possible then actual.

    Yes, this is the much-despised philosophy in action, and it has implications for both theologies and anti-theologies.

    Yes, this is the often derided and dismissed philosophy, but it is about how logic is at the root of any serious discussion, including those in science.

    Yes, this is the often impatiently brushed aside philosophy, but it has direct implications for our scientific discussion of origins and causes of origins, relevant to origin of the cosmos, origin of cell-based life in it, and of body plans, including our own.

    In short, it is not something we may wisely and safely ignore. And, ignorance of it may well lead us to think and stubbornly, irrationally cling to foolish things about important topics.

    As one immediate application, our observed cosmos, credibly had a beginning and shows ever so many signs of being contingent and fine tuned in ways that support cell based life. That points to an underlying necessary being at the root of that cosmic reality that is causally sufficient and powerful enough to create such a cosmos — even in the face of multiverse speculations. (The comfortable days of being able to appeal to the Steady State theory as showing that it was possible that the observed cosmos as a whole is that necessary being are long gone.)

    In terms of origin of cell based life and body plans, these four principles of right reason point to the significance of functionally specific complex organisation and associated information [FSCO/I] as an apt description of a phenomenon found in the living cell and in complex body plans, as a trace that comes from the origin of same, and so they point to the need for a causally adequate explanation for same.

    Lest some be tempted to brush such aside as a figment of the imagination of a particularly idiotic ID — yes, we know the childish schoolyard taunts that are ever so common in hostile or outright hate sites — supporter, let me cite from the IOSE course that so many wish to brush aside as nonsense, on what three key origins research figures who are by no means to be seen as ID movement members or Creationists in any material sense of the term have had to say across the 1970′s and into the early 1980′s, i.e. immediately antecedent to and obviously enabling factors for the rise of the modern design theory from the mid 80′s on:

    The observation-based principle that complex, functionally specific information/ organisation is arguably a reliable marker of intelligence and the related point that we can therefore use this concept to scientifically study intelligent causes will play a crucial role . . . For, routinely, we observe that such functionally specific complex information and related organisation come– directly [[drawing a complex circuit diagram by hand] or indirectly [[a computer generated speech (or, perhaps: talking in one's sleep)] — from intelligence.

    In a classic 1979 comment, well known origin of life theorist J S Wicken wrote:

    ‘Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems. Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms [[i.e. “simple” force laws acting on objects starting from arbitrary and common- place initial conditions] and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an [[originally . . . ] external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’ [[“The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. (Emphases and notes added. Nb: “originally” is added to highlight that for self-replicating systems, the blue print can be built-in.)]

    The idea-roots of the term “functionally specific complex information” [FSCI] are plain: “Organization, then, is functional[[ly specific] complexity and carries information.”

    [--> Wicken, patently, is not an ID thinker nor a Creationist, FYI; nor is he a no-account bloggist who can be dismissed without further thought. So much for the figment of the imagination rhetoric we have seen in recent days, without the decency to retract such when corrected.]

    Similarly, as early as 1973, Leslie Orgel, reflecting on Origin of Life, noted:

    . . . In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity. [[The Origins of Life (John Wiley, 1973), p. 189.]

    [--> again we see the trichotomy of basic causes, across mechanical necessity giving rise to order, randomness or chance and by implication the ART-ificial act of explicit intelligent design and/or selection]

    Thus, the concept of complex specified information — especially in the form functionally specific complex organisation and associated information [FSCO/I] — is NOT a creation of design thinkers like William Dembski. Instead, it comes from the natural progress and conceptual challenges faced by origin of life researchers, by the end of the 1970′s.

    Indeed, by 1982, the famous, Nobel-equivalent prize winning Astrophysicist (and life-long agnostic) Sir Fred Hoyle, went on quite plain public record in an Omni Lecture:

    Once we see that life is cosmic it is sensible to suppose that intelligence is cosmic. Now problems of order, such as the sequences of amino acids in the chains which constitute the enzymes and other proteins, are precisely the problems that become easy once a directed intelligence enters the picture, as was recognised long ago by James Clerk Maxwell in his invention of what is known in physics as the Maxwell demon. The difference between an intelligent ordering, whether of words, fruit boxes, amino acids, or the Rubik cube, and merely random shufflings can be fantastically large, even as large as a number that would fill the whole volume of Shakespeare’s plays with its zeros. So if one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design. No other possibility I have been able to think of in pondering this issue over quite a long time seems to me to have anything like as high a possibility of being true.” [[Evolution from Space (The Omni Lecture[ --> Jan 12th 1982]), Enslow Publishers, 1982, pg. 28.]

    So, we first see that by the turn of the 1980′s, scientists concerned with origin of life and related cosmology recognised that the information-rich organisation of life forms was distinct from simple order and required accurate description and appropriate explanation. To meet those challenges, they identified something special about living forms, CSI and/or FSCO/I. As they did so, they noted that the associated “wiring diagram” based functionality is information-rich, and traces to what Hoyle already was willing to call “intelligent design,” and Wicken termed “design or selection.” By this last, of course, Wicken plainly hoped to include natural selection.

    But the key challenge soon surfaces: what happens if the space to be searched and selected from is so large that islands of functional organisation are hopelessly isolated relative to blind search resources?

    [--> Since there is an astonishing attempt to dismiss the concept of such islands of co-ordinated function in configuration spaces, kindly cf. here]

    For, under such “infinite monkey” circumstances, searches based on random walks from arbitrary initial configurations will be maximally unlikely to find such isolated islands of function. As the crowd-source Wikipedia summarises (in testimony against its ideological interest compelled by the known facts):

    The text of Hamlet contains approximately 130,000 letters. Thus there is a probability of one in 3.4 × 10^183,946 to get the text right at the first trial. The average number of letters that needs to be typed until the text appears is also 3.4 × 10^183,946, or including punctuation, 4.4 × 10^360,783.

    Even if the observable universe were filled with monkeys typing from now until the heat death of the universe, their total probability to produce a single instance of Hamlet would still be less than one in 10^183,800. As Kittel and Kroemer put it, “The probability of Hamlet is therefore zero in any operational sense of an event…”, and the statement that the monkeys must eventually succeed “gives a misleading conclusion about very, very large numbers.” This is from their textbook on thermodynamics, the field whose statistical foundations motivated the first known expositions of typing monkeys.[3]

    So, once we are dealing with something that is functionally specific and sufficiently complex, trial-and error, blind selection on a random walk is increasingly implausible as an explanation, compared to the routinely observed source of such complex, functional organisation: design. Indeed, beyond a certain point, the odds of trial and error on a random walk succeeding fall to a “practical” zero . . .

    In short, these derided or dismissed philosophical questions lie close to the heart of why it is that design theory results and advancing of the state of science are too often being stoutly resisted by those who should welcome them and carry them further forward.

    Perhaps, the time has come to think again, G2?

    KF

  56. F/N: I have upgraded the just above to a full UD headlined post, with addition of illustrations etc, here. Comments are redirected here, the main thread of discussion. KF

  57. SB: Is the Law of Identity a distinct, recognisable thing? If so, is it not then a case where recognising and respecting that identity is a pivot to reasonable discourse? [And does this not sound ever so familiar on the subject of materialist objectors -- noting that BD is evidently a Sufi Muslim -- so often refusing to recognise key things as just that, distinct things? Yet another sign of what is going on . . . ] KF

  58. 58
    William J Murray

    Bruce David,

    If you are saying that the “ultimate” reality – God as One, and not God as a dichotomy of experiencer and experienced – is the unknowable “ultimate” state of what reality is, I agree.

    If you are saying that there is much, much more to reality than what we currently know, and probably more than what we will ever know, and that our senses are how we organize that experience is a faulty reflection of “what is actually going on”, I agree, especially in terms of intention affecting physical experience.

    However, if you are saying that the law of contradiction is negotiable, I disagree, because IMO it relates to the primary aspect of conscious experience as an individual – an entity below the “god as one” level of reality. IOW, in order for what we understand “conscious experience” to occur, the LNC is necessarily in operation. There must be X, the experiencer, and not-X, what is being experienced, even if ultimately they are aspects of the same thing.

    As an example, when one dreams, the sleeping dreamer is both the subject in the dream, and the context. However, from the dreamer’s position as the character focus in the dream, there “appears to be” an experiencer and the experienced two different things, even if the focus of the sleeper’s point of view in the dream moves around to different characters or even a 3rd person perspective.

    The LNC makes the point of saying that jupiter cannot exist and not exist in the same sense at the same time. To frame it another way, in your experience Jupiter cannot both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way, regardless of what Jupiter “actually” is, because the LNC is not just a law of language; it is a law of experience.

    The LNC doesn’t claim to know what Jupiter “actually” is. All we know of “reality” is via experience; one cannot experience Jupiter – whatever it is – as both existing and not existing in the same sense at the same time.

  59. 59
    William J Murray

    This goes back to Plato’s cave – we believe our experience is not the actual reality. Of course, the only thing we can expect the LNC and other necessary principles to refer to is our experience of reality, or our experience of whatever is generating experience.

    However, “our experience” is the only thing we can call “reality” in any direct sense, because whatever is outside the cave casting shadows (if anything) into our experience cannot be known by us as itself from our perspective as an individual, experiencing entity.

    Just as one cannot experience a 4-sided triangle, and cannot experience putting 2 apples with 2 apples and then having 10, one cannot experience any X as both existent and non-existent at the same time and in the same sense. There are laws that govern experience, whether or not they govern reality.

    In trying to imagine what good might come from holding that, outside of experience, Jupiter might (in reality) both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way; but IMO it’s a nonsensical notion. Whatever Jupiter is “in reality”, regardless of how we experience it, it is what it is, and isn’t not what it is. If it is in reality a superposition of all possible states of that location, then that is the “in the same sense” we are talking about. It either is a “superposition of all possible states of that location” (including what we would experience as jupiter or as not-jupiter) or it is not – in reality.

    So I don’t see how any real thing can violate the LNC, whether one is applying the LNC to actual experience, or imagining how it might apply to a reality that is not the same as our experience indicates. Even if the “reality” is “all possible states”, including Jupiter and not-Jupiter, that is what reality is, and it is not “not all possible states”.

    The key is the term “in the same sense”. It makes the LNC as impossible to violate as it is impossible to construct a 4-sided triangle.

  60. F/N: Another pot-stirrer: I suggest that one of the reasons the first principles of right reason are vital, is that they are a bulwark against willful, deceitful misrepresentation and also against refusing to do due duties of care to the truth and to fairness. That is because A is not to be conflated or confused with or substituted by NOT_A. So, we need to be careful to be accurate and clear, as clear as is reasonably possible; bearing in mind that many crucial concepts — e.g. so “simple” a concept as biological life — resist precising definition and are best communicated in practice by key cases and relevantly close family resemblance. Where also, such deliberate or willfully negligent misrepresentations by objectors to design theory have long been major problems in debates concerning design issues. So much so, that I have often had to wonder if they think the truth is an option and it is all a game FIGHT, with one goal, winning at any cost. KF

  61. I agree fully with WJM’s profound statements in post 58.
    I would like to add to WJM’s definition of LNC that LNC is also a statement about being. LNC states that being is something that cannot be and not be at the same time.
    Aristotle put it this way:

    “First then this at least is obviously true, that the word ‘be’ or ‘not be’ has a definite meaning, so that not everything will be ‘so and not so’.”

  62. You guys are all pulverized so stop it already! ;)

  63. 63
    William J Murray

    Great points, KF and Box.

    Can X be what it is, and also what it is not?

    Can one debate fairly if the argument cannot be parsed in terms of what it is about, if it is what it is about, and also what it is not about?

    The LNC is about as absolute as it gets when talking about reality.

  64. 64
    William J Murray

    Hmmm … with no LNC, then “pulverized” = “brilliant”!!!

  65. WJM:

    You rightly stressed: “debate fairly . . . ”

    And, if one disregards truth as distinct from error, then why bother about seeking the truth, what is persuasive is “good enough for government work.”

    As in, doesn’t this problem of disregard for truth,and for fairness, sound all too familiar?

    Where is our civilisation headed?

    KF

  66. Folks,

    I think Isaiah nailed it, over 2,700 years ago:

    Isa 5:18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,
    who draw sin as with cart ropes,
    19 who say: “Let him be quick,
    let him speed his work
    that we may see it;
    let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near,
    and let it come, that we may know it!”

    20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
    who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!
    21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
    and shrewd in their own sight!

    22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,
    and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
    23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
    and deprive the innocent of his right!

    24 Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,
    and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,
    so their root will be as rottenness,
    and their blossom go up like dust;
    for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
    and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

    And yes, this is theological at this point.

    Prophetic, to be exact.

    Here is where that sort of behaviour ends up, in utter defeat and destruction, because there is nothing worth fighting for anymore and because there isn’t any cohesion and trust to be strong in the fight:

    Isa 5:26 He will raise a signal for nations far away,
    and whistle for them from the ends of the earth;
    and behold, quickly, speedily they come!
    27 None is weary, none stumbles,
    none slumbers or sleeps,
    not a waistband is loose,
    not a sandal strap broken;
    28 their arrows are sharp,
    all their bows bent,
    their horses’ hoofs seem like flint,
    and their wheels like the whirlwind.
    29 Their roaring is like a lion,
    like young lions they roar;
    they growl and seize their prey;
    they carry it off, and none can rescue.
    30 They will growl over it on that day,
    like the growling of the sea.
    And if one looks to the land,
    behold, darkness and distress;
    and the light is darkened by its clouds.

    Enough said by way of warning?

    Or, do we even care; anymore?

    KF

  67. Bruce David (48)
    If I understand you correctly you entertain the possibility that there is no real Jupiter out there. If there is no Jupiter out there what reason do you have to trust your mind? Are not you in a constant state of disharmony with your own mind which is trying to trick you? Your mind is constantly creating concepts of things that are not there.
    It’s like a nightmare in which you constantly have to tell yourself that it is just a dream. Is there a part of your mind in which you can trust and if so for what reason?

  68. So what happens when Bruce David flies into the planet Jupiter and his body dies a horrible death? Can you decide to “conceive” that your version of Jupiter won’t do that to you?

    Also, how is it that we all have the same construct of Jupiter?

    I’ve tried really hard to figure out something physical isn’t really there. That it’s just a construct of my mind. I don’t think it lines up.

  69. BD @ 51

    I guess the irony of you arguing (reasoning) with us about mysticism is lost on you. The irony of me arguing with you, an advocate of mysticism, about the effectiveness of reason is not, however, lost on me. Best of luck.

  70. BD @ 53

    “What I assert is that Reality cannot be described by the use of language. I never said it could not be known.”

    heh heh. I guess you can safely be ignored, then. How can you not see the inanity of what you say???? On the one hand you can know about reality and on the other hand language cannot describe it. But ALL of your thoughts are in a language. So… I think you may be the most extreme case of irrationality I have seen out here and I’ve seen a few. Kudos to KF, SB, and others for having the patience to keep engaging. You are better men than I.

  71. Box @ 42

    I think there are two kinds of existence, infinite and finite. Some of the words that describe infinite are necessary, uncaused, and abstract or immaterial. Some of the words that describe finite are contingent, caused, and physical (and there is an immaterial component to us that is also finite, since it changes). To say that one is more real than the other doesn’t make any sense. Existence is existence. One either is, or one is not, whether one is God or not-God makes no difference. I think that the “spiritual” world is just an aspect of the universe we inhabit. It’s not a different reality it’s a different aspect of reality.

  72. Stephen, re 54:

    Excuse me, but you are not free to misrepresent the facts–or to invent your own definition of the Law of Identity– or to reduce it to a function of language–try though you might. Whether you like it or not, that principle is tied to ontological reality. As Aristotle puts it, “It is impossible that the same thing belong and not belong to the same thing at the same time and in the same respect.” You will notice that he is writing about the things we talk about, not what we say about the things we talk about. In other words, he is not referring to language; he is referring to things in themselves. You may not like to face the truth, but that is your problem, not mine.

    Freedom is the essence of Who We Are, made in the image and likeness of God. Your complaints notwithstanding, I most certainly am free to do whatever I like.

    And by the way, Aristotle saw the objects in the world as real, as do you. In that he was wrong, in my view. An appeal to the authority of Aristotle simply doesn’t cut it with me.

    You’re certainly entitled to your opinion. Forgive me, however, if I don’t regard it as absolute truth.

  73. WJM, re #58:

    The LNC doesn’t claim to know what Jupiter “actually” is. All we know of “reality” is via experience; one cannot experience Jupiter – whatever it is – as both existing and not existing in the same sense at the same time.

    All I can say at this point is that in talking about Jupiter as you do, you still regard is as some kind of “thing”, even if you don’t know what it is. You are framing it within the categories of language.

    The view that I am trying to convey is that the mystics throughout the ages have seen directly into the true nature of Reality, and that language is wholly inadequate to describe what they have seen. Since—StephenB to the contrary notwithstanding—the LNC and other laws of reason are imbedded in and at the service of the concepts that underlie our use of language, they have no applicability to Reality as so perceived. It’s not that they are false or wrong in that context, it is that they simply don’t apply.

    This Reality cannot be described, but words can be used to point to it, or to open a person up to that mystical vision. If you (or anyone reading this thread) is really interested in what I am talking about, I recommend reading the works of any of the great mystics, for example Rumi, Lao Tzu, Hafiz, the Zen masters, Yogananda, or Ibn al ‘Arabi, to name a few.

    If so, good luck. I wish you every success in your spiritual journey.

  74. tgpeeeler, re #70:

    heh heh. I guess you can safely be ignored, then. How can you not see the inanity of what you say???? On the one hand you can know about reality and on the other hand language cannot describe it. But ALL of your thoughts are in a language. So… I think you may be the most extreme case of irrationality I have seen out here and I’ve seen a few. Kudos to KF, SB, and others for having the patience to keep engaging. You are better men than I.

    So ignore me already. For someone who can safely ignore me, you certainly do prattle on.

    And by the way, you are dead wrong when you say, “But ALL of your thoughts are in a language.” None of our thoughts are in language. We have thoughts, which we then transfer into language in order to communicate them. Have you never had trouble putting an idea into words? I have, many times.

  75. Box, re #67:

    If I understand you correctly you entertain the possibility that there is no real Jupiter out there. If there is no Jupiter out there what reason do you have to trust your mind? Are not you in a constant state of disharmony with your own mind which is trying to trick you? Your mind is constantly creating concepts of things that are not there.
    It’s like a nightmare in which you constantly have to tell yourself that it is just a dream. Is there a part of your mind in which you can trust and if so for what reason?

    What reason do you have to trust your own mind? Have you never been mistaken about anything?

    I regard the “world of appearances” which I currently inhabit as a kind of virtual reality. I live, play, work, and love here as if it were real because that is how its purpose is realized. When I stop to think about it, I understand that it is not Reality, but, you know, so what? This is what to me is meant by being in the world but not of it.

    And believe me when I tell you that for me it is no nightmare. The experience is full of love and joy.

  76. tgpeeler (71): To say that one is more real than the other doesn’t make any sense. Existence is existence. One either is, or one is not, whether one is God or not-God makes no difference.

    Begging the question (Petito Principii). When the fallacy of begging the question is committed in a single step, it is sometimes called a hysteron proteron.

  77. Bruce David(75): What reason do you have to trust your own mind? Have you never been mistaken about anything?

    You entertain the possibility that you have a mind which is constantly feeding you false information about a non-existent world. That is of an entirely different magnitude than sometimes being mistaken about something.

    Bruce David(75): And believe me when I tell you that for me it is no nightmare. The experience is full of love and joy.

    It must be an intellectual nightmare for sure to be surrounded by non-existent things, produced by your own uncontrollable mind. Tell me what are the foundations of your epistemology?

  78. timothya:

    How are we to tell if you are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked?

    Should you not first settle the question of whether or not you yourself are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked?

  79. Bruce David:

    What if my former teacher, Reshad Feild, was right when he delcared,”Reason is powerless in the expression of Love.”?

    What if your former teacher was a quack?

    What if your former teacher never asked whether he himself was ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked?

    What if what your former teacher really meant in saying that “Reason is powerless in the expression of Love” is that truly, “Reason is NOT powerless in the expression of Love”?

    What if REASON and LOVE have their origin in the same being?

  80. Box:

    It must be an intellectual nightmare for sure to be surrounded by non-existent things, produced by your own uncontrollable mind.

    No more of a nightmare than it is for you to be surrounded by existent, material things over which you have no control. And where do you get the idea that my mind is uncontrollable?

    We live in the same world, Box. The difference is that you regard it as reality and I regard it as merely appearance. The practical difference is that I have more possibilities open to me than you do, as I believe in the power of mind to directly influence the physical.

  81. BD: Is or is not the out of control vehicle, careering down the road you are trying to cross there AND not there in the same sense, at the same time? Why do you instinctively try to jump out of the way? What does that say about what even your programmed instincts are trying to tell you? KF

  82. KF, re. #81:

    BD: Is or is not the out of control vehicle, careering down the road you are trying to cross there AND not there in the same sense, at the same time? Why do you instinctively try to jump out of the way? What does that say about what even your programmed instincts are trying to tell you? KF

    The world of appearances or virtual reality in which we live while we are incarnate on earth has its rules, rather like the rules that govern the operation of the flight simulators that airline pilots use to hone their skills at handling emergency situations. If you don’t pay close enough attention to what you are doing, like the airline pilot who handles the simulated emergency poorly, you are likely to be ejected from the virtual reality into a more real environment. Our instincts along with the concepts we create with which to organize our sensory experience enable us to operate successfully in this world.

    The fact that a given “reality” has rules which govern its operation tells us nothing one way or the other regarding its ontological status.

    By the way, I have never argued with the statement that the laws of reason apply to the concepts we create to handle our experience here (like the vehicle careening towards us in your question). I’ll leave that to people who are interested in that subject, like Kantian Naturalist. My contention in this thread has been that asking whether they apply to the Reality into which the mystic sees is a misapplication of categories, since the rules of reason are embedded in language, and language is impotent to describe that Reality.

    I’m just offereing another possibility here. You of course are free to take it or leave it. It’s clear to me, however, from reading the writings of the mystics through the ages, that they have seen something very powerful and real, at least to them. To cavalierly dismiss their experience as nonsense, as tgpeeler does for instance, is in my view a mistake bordering on foolishness.

  83. Bruce David (80): We live in the same world, Box. The difference is that you regard it as reality and I regard it as merely appearance.

    Why you believe that we live in the same world is beyond my comprehension. If there is no real Jupiter out there it is all in your mind right? Why would I be living in the world of your imagination? Please elaborate.

  84. BD: Realities are not rules. Rules are set up by convention. Realities neither care nor yield to what we may wish were so. on the contrary, we had better conform our beliefs and behaviour to realities, or we suffer consequences. Indeed, realities correct our rules. KF

  85. KF, re. #84:

    I’m using the term “rules” in a more general sense. If, as I propose, this physical world we inhabit is a kind of virtual reality, then the laws of physics would be examples of the “rules” by which it operates.

    But even then, those rules are not ironclad. Many people throughout history have performed miracles, not just Jesus. My spiritual teacher, Reshad Feild, even performed a couple that I know of in his life. There have been many others.

  86. Box, re. 85:

    Why you believe that we live in the same world is beyond my comprehension. If there is no real Jupiter out there it is all in your mind right? Why would I be living in the world of your imagination? Please elaborate.

    All my experience is in my mind. All yours is in yours. If you cannot see the truth of this, there is no point in continuing the discussion.

    Yet our experience is coordinated. You read the words I write on my computer, and the image you perceive on your computer corresponds to that which I see on mine. Obviously, then, some entity is coordinating our experience. This is what I mean by the statement we live in the same world.

    You believe that the coordinating entity is the physical universe. I, on the other hand, don’t accept that the physical world has an independent existence. I see it as a kind of virtual reality. So obviously, something or someone must be coordinating the experience of all of us inhabiting this place, which is to say performing the role like that of the computer that controls an on-line role playing game or the supercomputer that created the virtual reality that the humans experienced in the film The Matrix.

    If I am right, then who or what would be the obvious candidate for the entity which coordinates our experience? The answer should be obvious.

  87. BD: The problem just above is that rules are set by convention or authority, so your use was idiosyncratic. Our world is a reality that we don’t get to make the rules of. And that there is a possible openness to a higher ordering that means that the world is not closed under mechanical necessity and chance circumstances/forces, simply means that there is room for a beyond [including for an Architect and Maker of the world who for good reason may act beyond the usual course of the world from time to time -- in a context where for miracles to stand out as signs pointing beyond, there needs to be a usual order of the world . . . and where also our being under moral government implies a world where acts have highly predictable consequences, as a general pattern . . . ], it does not change realities such as 2 + 3 = 5, or that a car out of control and onrushing has highly predictable consequences that we cannot just wish away. KF

  88. KF, re. #87:

    The problem just above is that rules are set by convention or authority, so your use was idiosyncratic. Our world is a reality that we don’t get to make the rules of.

    The pilot in the cockpit of the flight simulator doesn’t get to make the rules that govern its behavior either. They’re still rules by any normal definition. What I’m proposing is that our world is a virtual reality in which, like other forms of virtual reality with which we are familiar, we don’t get to make the rules. Your insistence that “our world is a reality” is in fact begging the question.

    Aside from that and the fact that I disagree that we are under any moral governance from the “Architect and Maker” (which you and I have already been through exhaustively in other threads), I find little to quarrel with in your comment.

  89. BD:

    Let us take a similar view, to help us see what is going on.

    We all live in a modern Plato’s Cave world, which in “reality” is a set of pods with our bodies immobilised and probes feeding our brains with computed images of a world that is not real. (Think, The Matrix.)

    In the perfect form of such, it would be indistinguishable from the world we normally think we share.

    Say, as well, that this world was created last Thursday, at 5:00 am GMT, in a flash. So, the history we imagine and the ongoing lives that we think we are having are all in a dream state controlled by a massive computer. Since it is a post peer world, the supercomp uses the processing capacity of our brains collectively, and harvests the rest of the capacity for some nefarious project by an alien super race.

    Now, you tell me how we can choose between such a world and the one we think we live in?

    This sort of Cave-world collective mirage has a long history in philosophy, and it is about how conventional wisdom can be wrong and manipulated, while some little elite out there is in control, and maybe some special little circle has got away and is wild and free.

    The issue, then is, enlightenment and false enlightenment.

    I say two things, the first philosophical based on Reid’s common sense approach.

    Any system in philosophy that requires us to assume without strong direct evidence the general delusional state of our senses and sense of consciousness and/or common sense based reasoning is fatally self referentially incoherent. How can you have confidence that you are not caught up in the level 2 delusion, where you imagine yourself liberated, and so forth? Thence, infinite regress and madness.

    The solution is to cut the gordian knot.

    Absent strong direct reason to see that there is a widespread delusion, we take our senses as speaking truthfully, and we take our ability to reason on common sense in light of self-evident first principles of right reason as fundamentally sound though we are prone to error.

    Any mass-delusion world ideology then has the burden of proof to show that it is reasonable and not a fantasy that enmeshes the really deluded in some cult or ideological system that fools them into thinking they have the magic key to reality. (Which happens from time to time.)

    The second point is theological, from Jesus and Paul:

    Jesus, Matt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

    Paul, Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,[e] as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”[f]

    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

    Eph 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus [--> cf. here on in context, on warrant], 22 to put off your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

    25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another . . . [ESV]

    KF

  90. 90
    William J Murray

    To be fair, Bruce David is not arguing that his view of a “Matrix”-style physical existence is the case; he’s just informing us of his views largely because he has been asked and prodded to do so.

    I hold a similar view (I use the term “psychoplasm” to describe the physical world), and am happy to share it with others if they ask, but I don’t argue it because in my view it is not an arguable position, as per KF’s #89.

    I don’t know if BD and I agree on this, but personally I hold that there are ramifications to one’s behavior that extends beyond death, so I’m not comfortable with calling the physical world an “illusion”. IMO, it’s as real as anything else that exists and that can be experienced by individual, conscious entities, and one’s behavior here has consequences that are as real as any conscious, individual entity can experience.

  91. WJM:

    To be fair, Bruce David is not arguing that his view of a “Matrix”-style physical existence is the case; he’s just informing us of his views largely because he has been asked and prodded to do so.

    Recall that the purpose of the post is to confirm the legitimacy of reason’s rules, among which several elements are in play. The Law of Non-Contradiction, which refers to the logical and psychological realm, is inseparable from the Law of Identity, which refers to the ontological realm. Bruce has pro-actively interrupted the momentum of this thread to claim that these rules pertain only to language and not to things, which is just another way of redefining the law to suit his own biases and prejudices.

    If the Law of Non-Contradiction could be separated from the Law of Identify, then reason’s rules could no longer serve the purpose of grounding rationality. Yet Bruce believes that he is entitled to create his own Law of Identity such that it applies only to language and nothing else, even though identity is, by definition, associated with “being” as well as language. His novel and twisted Law of Identity (a law that is, in fact, exempt from that kind of tampering) can thus be reconciled with any contradiction he chooses to utter, even though the whole purpose of that law is to de-legitamize those same contradictions.

    Indeed, Bruce is on record of saying that rationality, as defined by reason’s rules, is useless as a tool for obtaining truth. Accordingly, if you present him with a reasoned argument on behalf of the truth, he will simply reject it on the grounds that his personal experience and mystical knowledge transcend any and all logical problems associated with his position. Or, he will declare that any reasonable question is irrelevant and refuse to answer it. Can Jupiter [or the red ball on the table] exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way? He will not say except to claim that the question is irrelevant to his irrational world view. Well, of course it is. What does irrationality have to do with rationality?

  92. SB: A sobering reminder. As you saw above, I have strong objections to any scheme of thought that imposes an ugly gulch between the perceived, reflected on and discussed world and the world of things in themselves (which does not mean that error does not exist!). Whether by Kantian or Mystical or Monist means, such will end predictably in undermining reasoning, warrant, knowledge and truth. My only quibble is that I think once dichotomy exists in reality, as in {Red Ball|not_Red Ball}, non contradiction, identity and the excluded middle also apply to the reality too: a distinct thing cannot be and not be in the same sense and circumstances, etc. KF

  93. As one who designs virtual realities, I can assure you that they are quite real.

  94. KF, re. 89

    Say, as well, that this world was created last Thursday, at 5:00 am GMT, in a flash. So, the history we imagine and the ongoing lives that we think we are having are all in a dream state controlled by a massive computer. Since it is a post peer world, the supercomp uses the processing capacity of our brains collectively, and harvests the rest of the capacity for some nefarious project by an alien super race.

    Now, you tell me how we can choose between such a world and the one we think we live in?

    This sort of Cave-world collective mirage has a long history in philosophy, and it is about how conventional wisdom can be wrong and manipulated, while some little elite out there is in control, and maybe some special little circle has got away and is wild and free.

    I don’t believe any of that. You have erected some straw men here.

    Absent strong direct reason to see that there is a widespread delusion, we take our senses as speaking truthfully

    Really, KF? My senses tell me that your red ball on the table is red, solid, and makes a sound when it falls off onto the floor. Yet the ball is not red. It isn’t any color at all. It emits electro-magnetic radiation at certain frequences which our minds perceive as the color red. Red does not exist in the ball at all. Likewise with its solidity. According to the understanding of modern physics, the atoms of which the ball is composed are almost entirely empty space. The solidity our senses perceive is an illusion. Likewise with sound. The ball creates no sound when it hits the floor, only vibrations of the air molecules. Again, our minds create the perception of sound. In what sense can you say our senses are speaking truthfully?

    we take our ability to reason on common sense in light of self-evident first principles of right reason as fundamentally sound though we are prone to error.

    Two points here. First, as a mathematician an student of philosophy, I am very aware of the power of reason as well as its limitations. I have yet to see any evidence that reason alone is capable of arriving at truth, other than the truth of propositions of the form “this follows from that”, which is the essence of all mathematical theorems.

    Second, what good is it that the principles of reason are sound if we are prone to error? The principles of reason don’t argue a case by themselves; they require one of us to apply them. If we are prone to error, then how can we trust any conclusions we draw through the use of such principles?

    So now let me explain to you why I don’t accept a material world existing independently “out there”.

    The first reason is Occam’s Razor. I accept the existence of the Deity—the creator and sustainer of ourselves and all the worlds. Also, everything I know of “things” comes to me through my senses, and sense impressions are of the mind. So we have our minds and God’s mind. These are sufficient to explain everything we experience. There is no need to posit the existence of a material world corresponding to those sense impressions. By Occam’s razor, I do not make that assumption because it is an unnecessary explanatory device. Or to use Laplace’s famous statement with a different application, I have no need of that hypothesis.

    Secondly, this metaphysical position saves my philosophy from having to confront what I consider an insoluble problem: how can the two totally different substances, mind and matter, possibly affect each other causally? Put in more concrete terms, how can the brain possibly produce thoughts, emotions, sense impressions, etc., and how is it that thoughts and intentions can possibly have any influence on the physical material composing the brain? If there is no material world in the first place, this problem simply disappears.

    Thirdly, this position makes it much easier to understand the existence of miracles (which happen far more frequently than most people are willing to admit. I personally know of several having been performed by otherwise rather ordinary people.), ESP in all its manifestations (of which innumerable examples have been documented), and quantum weirdness (which is really only problematic if one assumes that matter is real and exists independently of our perception of it).

  95. KF @92. Yes, absolutely. There is no midpoint between A exists vs. A doesn’t exist.

  96. WJM, re. #90

    Well, first, thanks for the support.

    In regard to this:

    I don’t know if BD and I agree on this, but personally I hold that there are ramifications to one’s behavior that extends beyond death, so I’m not comfortable with calling the physical world an “illusion”. IMO, it’s as real as anything else that exists and that can be experienced by individual, conscious entities, and one’s behavior here has consequences that are as real as any conscious, individual entity can experience.

    I do agree that our behavior here has ramifications after physical death, but I suspect that our ideas of what those ramifications are vary quite a bit. I believe that you (correct me if I’m wrong) hold that we live one life here on earth and then go either to Heaven or Hell depending on how we lived that life. I, on the other hand, believe that we incarnate many times, and that each life is a spiritual growth or regression experience. To the degree that we successfully achieve the purpose of any particular life and live in harmony with our essence (the image and likeness of God), to that degree we will be a more advanced soul in whatever context we choose to operate after we complete that lifetime.

  97. Stephen, re 91:

    Doesn’t this pattern you have of misrepresenting what I have said bother you? I mean, as a Christian, don’t you think a stronger commitment to the truth would be in order? I’m just asking.

    Some examples:

    Indeed, Bruce is on record of saying that rationality, as defined by reason’s rules, is useless as a tool for obtaining truth.

    The correct version of what I have said on this point is that reason is powerless by itself to arrive at truth. Reason is a very powerful tool when used properly. All of mathematics, for example, is the product of the proper use of reason.

    Accordingly, if you present him with a reasoned argument on behalf of the truth, he will simply reject it on the grounds that his personal experience and mystical knowledge transcend any and all logical problems associated with his position. Or, he will declare that any reasonable question is irrelevant and refuse to answer it.

    This is simply false. When I respond to such a comment, I invariably point out the fallacy or fallacies in your argument (unless I happen to agree, of course, which seldom happens). For example, when you offered a proof that a zygote was a human being, I pointed out (several times, actually) where the flaws in you reasoning lay. You didn’t agree, of course, but that doesn’t alter the fact that I did not, as you claim, “simply reject it on the grounds that [my] personal experience and mystical knowledge transcend any and all logical problems associated with [my] position.” And when you attempted to give me a reasoned argument for the existence of Hell, I also carefully pointed out the flaw in your reasoning. I can’t remember any time when you presented a “reasoned argument on behalf of the truth” and I responded as you describe. Maybe I’m forgetting some such exchange, but if there were any, there weren’t many.

    Can Jupiter [or the red ball on the table] exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way? He will not say except to claim that the question is irrelevant to his irrational world view. Well, of course it is. What does irrationality have to do with rationality?

    Another misrepresentation of what I said. In the current thread, you asked me that question twice, in numbers 11 and 16. The first time I responded by asking, “What is the point of this question?” The second I responded by addressing an earlier part of your comment in an attempt to explain the differences between your and my philosophical contexts in which the question exists.

    After that, our discussion centered around the other question you asked, “Does the Law of Non-Contradiction apply to the real world?”

    I actually effectively answered your first question in #82, responding to a comment by KF. I wrote, “By the way, I have never argued with the statement that the laws of reason apply to the concepts we create to handle our experience here (like the vehicle careening towards us in your question).” And like the planet Jupiter, to be perfectly clear. I just don’t regard Jupiter as having the same ontological status as you do.

  98. Bruce David continues to whine.

    Bruce David,

    What if your former teacher was a quack?

    What if your former teacher never asked whether he himself was ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked?

    What if what your former teacher really meant in saying that “Reason is powerless in the expression of Love” is that truly, “Reason is NOT powerless in the expression of Love”?

    What if REASON and LOVE have their origin in the same being?

  99. Bruce

    The correct version of what I have said on this point is that reason is powerless by itself to arrive at truth. Reason is a very powerful tool when used properly. All of mathematics, for example, is the product of the proper use of reason.

    Your position is that reason is powerless to tell us anything about the real world. I did not misrepresent you.

    For example, when you offered a proof that a zygote was a human being, I pointed out (several times, actually) where the flaws in you reasoning lay.

    You simply claimed to find a flaw that doesn’t exist. Anyone can make false claims.

    I did not, as you claim, “simply reject [reasoned arguments] on the grounds that [my] personal experience and mystical knowledge transcend any and all logical problems associated with [my] position.

    That is exactly what you do.

    The first time I responded (Can Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time?) by asking, “What is the point of this question?

    Evasion.

    The second I responded by addressing an earlier part of your comment in an attempt to explain the differences between your and my philosophical contexts in which the question exists.

    Another evasion. The difference in our philosophy is irrelevant. What matters is that you are trying to redefine that Laws of Identity and Non-Contradiction to suit your own whims.

    I wrote, “By the way, I have never argued with the statement that the laws of reason apply to the concepts we create to handle our experience here (like the vehicle careening towards us in your question).

    What a silly statement. Why would you argue against your own self-serving and malformed description of the issue?

    And like the planet Jupiter, to be perfectly clear. I just don’t regard Jupiter as having the same ontological status as you do.

    Again, I am concerned only with your false claim that the Laws of Identity and Non-Contradiction are limited to language. In fact, they are not. They are what they are, like it or not.

  100. Stephen, re. 99:

    You didn’t address (or apologize for) a single one of the charges I made in 97 that you misrepresented both my positions and the way I respond to your comments, not really.

    You really don’t want to face your lack of integrity, do you?

    I must say, you and several other of the Christian commenters on this blog (who shall remain nameless) who claim to be subject to a God given moral law certainly don’t walk your talk. You’re not a very good advertisement for your stated beliefs, I must say.

  101. 101
    William J Murray

    I believe that you (correct me if I’m wrong) hold that we live one life here on earth and then go either to Heaven or Hell depending on how we lived that life. I, on the other hand, believe that we incarnate many times, and that each life is a spiritual growth or regression experience.

    Your assumptions about my views are incorrect. I have no problem with belief in reincarnation – I’d be surprised if that option wasn’t available. I’d quibble on what I think may just be a semantics issue about “advancement of souls”, but that’s minor. My belief about the afterlife would be entirely misrepresented by the words “heaven” and “hell”.

    I think that when one is talking about the “whole” God, the LNC becomes a moot point. At that level, there is only “one thing”, and everything is – ultimately – that one thing. However, IMO, the origin of individuated consciousness requires an X/not-X dichotomy, even if X and “not-X” are ultimately from the same thing.

    Part of the LNC states “in the same sense”. In the sense of being viewed from the individual level, there must be X and not-X, individual and context. If there is no dichotomy in that sense, at that level, there is no individual. There is only the “oneness”.

    To say that the LNC is “only a rule of language” is, IMO, like saying that “triangles only have three sides” is only a rule of language. You cannot imagine a 4-sided triangle; you cannot imagine an X that is both X and not-X at the same time and in the same sense.

    You can say “X can be both X and not-X at the same time and in the same sense”, just as you can say “There is a 4-sided triangle” – but you cannot even imagine such a thing. It seems to me that it is obvious that the LNC is not a mere “rule of language”, but in fact a rule of experience and a rule of individual being.

  102. Bruce

    You didn’t address (or apologize for) a single one of the charges I made in 97 that you misrepresented both my positions and the way I respond to your comments, not really.

    I thought I made it clear that I don’t agree with your account of those events. I present logical arguments, but you respond by retreating into mysticism. You write this, for example:

    ..when you offered a proof that a zygote was a human being, I pointed out (several times, actually) where the flaws in you reasoning lay.

    A human being is, by definition, a being that belongs to the human species—”human” is a species descriptor. A zygote is, again, by definition, a human being in its early stage of development. It certainly is not a developing giraffe. You didn’t expose any “flaws” in my argument. You simply refused to accept the evidence and the logic, intruding your personal philosophy about ensoulment, which is irrelevant to the zygote’s humanity. It was I who exposed the flaws in your argument.

    This is another example of the way you change definitions to suit your own biases and prejudices. You do the same thing with the Law of Non-Contradiction, restricting its meaning to the realm of language and presenting that meaning as the true meaning. When I call it to your attention, you evade the point and change the discussion to differences in our personal philosophy. Or, you resort to making comments about my character. Why not simply address the point?

  103. 103

    Stephen, re. #102

    Bruce

    You didn’t address (or apologize for) a single one of the charges I made in 97 that you misrepresented both my positions and the way I respond to your comments, not really.

    I thought I made it clear that I don’t agree with your account of those events.

    So here’s the situation, Stephen. In #91, writing to William Murray, you misrepresented my philosophical position, my modus operandi, and what I actually wrote. I pointed this out to you in #97, with documentation. In #99, by refusing to address the points I made in #97, you effectively denied what I documented, and did so again above.

    You have born false witness against me Stephen, and when this is pointed out to you, your response is simply denial. The truth of this will be clear to anyone who simply follows our conversation in this thread. Your own words indict you.

    You are out of integrity, Stephen, and everyone can see it who cares to look. I can see only one way to restore your integrity, and that is to acknowledge what you have done and apologize—to me, to WJM, and to the other participants in this thread.

    So how about it? Are you going to apologize and thereby right your ship or go on denying what you did?

    We await your answer.

  104. 104

    William, re. #101

    Well, first, allow me to apologize for misunderstanding your beliefs. It seems that in a lot of ways we are more in agreement than I imagined.

    As for the rest, once again, let me try to be as clear as I can while explaining my views on this very subtle topic.

    Consider KF’s red ball again. What do our senses tell us? We see a round portion of the visual field that we label “red” but which in fact changes color with variations in the color and intensity of the light that falls on it. It appears to become smaller the farther we move away from it, and larger as we move closer. If we block all light from striking it (by say, closing the drapes and turning off the light during the nighttime), it disappears, and it reappears when we turn the light back on. When we put our hands on it, it feels solid with a curved surface that appears to change its temperature based on a number of factors. And so on.

    From these myriad sensory impressions, we form in our minds the concept of a round, red, solid object, which we call a ball. My contention is that the objects, the “things” we experience in the world are in fact these concepts we have created in order to make sense of our experience. And it is these concepts with which language deals as though (as most people believe) they are real and have an existence independent of our minds. So when you say that “you cannot imagine an X that is both X and not-X at the same time and in the same sense”, the X in your statement stands for one of the concepts, or things, we have created out of our sense data and which for the most part we take to be real.
    So my point about language is really that the LNC applies to the concepts we have created and to which linguistic utterances refer.

    The mystics, however, speak of a Reality which they see or have seen that is beyond the ability of language to describe. From this I conclude that the concepts with which language deals and to which the LNC applies are useless in understanding the Reality to which the mystics refer. So basically, reason (as the term has been used in this thread anyway), is not applicable to an understanding of the Reality that underlies our existence (again, assuming that the mystical vision of reality is valid, which I do).

  105. Bruce

    So here’s the situation, Stephen. In #91, writing to William Murray, you misrepresented my philosophical position, my modus operandi, and what I actually wrote.

    Doesn’t this pattern you have of misrepresenting what I have said bother you? I mean, as a Christian, don’t you think a stronger commitment to the truth would be in order? I’m just asking.

    Well, let’s find out if that’s true. I will be happy to take each point I made @91 in order.

    [a] The Law of Non-Contradiction applies to the logical, psychological, and ontological realm. Bruce has attempted to divorce the psychological/logical component from the ontological component. If I have made a false charge here, address it.

    [b]. In his attempt to eliminate LNC’s ontological element, Bruce has redefined that Law in an attempt to misrepresent it, stating as fact, that the LNC is solely about language. If that is not a serious misrepresentation, then explain why it is not.

    [c] If I present Bruce with a reasoned argument on behalf of the truth, he will simply reject it on the grounds that his personal experience and mystical knowledge transcend any and all logical problems associated with his position. This is my interpretation of your behavior and I cite your denial of the fetus’ humanity as an example. If you can show me that it is an unfair interpretation, I will acknowledge the point.

    Since you used the word “pattern,” I expect you to cover all three points. Go ahead and address [a] and we can move on to [b] and [c]. Or, if you like, take on all three.

  106. Correction: My example of the fetus is at @102, which is an example of the principle first discussed @91.

  107. 107

    Stephen, re. #105

    Of the three instances of misrepresentation that I documented in #97, you have addressed only one in this comment, which is the following:

    If I present Bruce with a reasoned argument on behalf of the truth, he will simply reject it on the grounds that his personal experience and mystical knowledge transcend any and all logical problems associated with his position. This is my interpretation of your behavior and I cite your denial of the fetus’ humanity as an example. If you can show me that it is an unfair interpretation, I will acknowledge the point.

    Your characterization of my response to your “reasoned argument” that the zygote (not fetus) is a human being (which is different from possessing “humanity”) is simply false. I did not “reject it on the grounds that [my] personal experience and mystical knowledge transcend any and all logical problems associated with [my] position.” Rather, I gave a carefully reasoned argument demonstrating the several logical errors in your argument. To characterize this as you have betrays a lack of discernment that you generally do not otherwise display. Once again, your commitment to personal integrity appears to be sadly lacking.

    I can only gather from this response that you have no intention of apologizing to me or anyone else for bearing false witness against me. So be it, Stephen. Just know that your lack of integrity damages no one but yourself.

  108. Bruce

    Of the three instances of misrepresentation that I documented in #97, you have addressed only one in this comment

    You were referring to my comments @91, and I addressed all three, two of which were misrepresentations on your part. You have not challenged the fact that they were misrepresentations nor have you apologized for making them. I have pointed out several times that you tried to twist the Law of Non-Contradiction into a language-only formulation, and you cannot credibly deny the point.

    On point three, you write this about my argument for the humanity of the fetus:

    I gave a carefully reasoned argument demonstrating the several logical errors in your argument.

    Here is a summary of my argument:

    A human being is, by definition, a “being” that belongs to the human species—the word human is a species descriptor. A zygote is, again, by definition, and from a biological perspective, a human being in its early stage of development.”

    Please produce “your carefully reasoned argument” that is alleged to have demonstrated the “several logical errors in that formulation.” Again, if you can rise to that challenge, I will retract my comment. Otherwise, I stand by it.

  109. 109

    Stephen, re. #108:

    You continue to refuse to address two of the three misrepresentations I actually cited in #97. The first is,

    Indeed, Bruce is on record of saying that rationality, as defined by reason’s rules, is useless as a tool for obtaining truth.

    I am not on record as making any such statement, nor would I ever make such a statement. The statement I have made repeatedly in these threads is that reason is incapable by itself of discovering truth. This is very different from the statement you accuse me of making. As an analogy, a hammer by itself is insufficient to construct a house. However, it is still a useful and even necessary tool in such an endeavor. Likewise, reason is a useful and even necessary tool in the quest to discover truth. By itself, however, it is insufficient. Your misrepresentation of what I said incorrectly implies that I do not understand the proper use of reason.

    Now please apologize for misrepresenting my understanding of reason.

    The second is,

    Can Jupiter [or the red ball on the table] exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way? He will not say except to claim that the question is irrelevant to his irrational world view. Well, of course it is. What does irrationality have to do with rationality?

    You asked that question twice, and in neither case did I respond by stating that “the question is irrelevant to [my] world view.” The first time, I asked you a simple question in return. In the second case, I responded by pointing out a misconception in your characterization of my views that occurred earlier in your comment. At this point you changed your question to, “Does the Law of Non-Contradiction apply to the real world?” (#19) and our discussion from that point on revolved around that question and not the former. Furthermore, I did effectively answer the first question in #84, a comment addressed to Kairosfocus, when I wrote, “By the way, I have never argued with the statement that the laws of reason apply to the concepts we create to handle our experience here (like the vehicle careening towards us in your question).”

    So please apologize for your misrepresentation of how I responded to your question, “Can Jupiter [or the red ball on the table] exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way?”

    The remaining misrepresentation (as modified in #105) is,

    If I present Bruce with a reasoned argument on behalf of the truth, he will simply reject it on the grounds that his personal experience and mystical knowledge transcend any and all logical problems associated with his position. This is my interpretation of your behavior and I cite your denial of the fetus’ humanity as an example. If you can show me that it is an unfair interpretation, I will acknowledge the point.

    I showed that I did nothing of the sort, and you have responded with the following:

    Here is a summary of my argument:

    A human being is, by definition, a “being” that belongs to the human species—the word human is a species descriptor. A zygote is, again, by definition, and from a biological perspective, a human being in its early stage of development.”

    Please produce “your carefully reasoned argument” that is alleged to have demonstrated the “several logical errors in that formulation.” Again, if you can rise to that challenge, I will retract my comment. Otherwise, I stand by it.

    That was not your argument in the thread in which we had this exchange. Rather, it was that 1) science has determined that human development in utero is a continuous process that begins with a fertilized egg and ends at birth, 2) the end product of this continuous process is a human being, 3) therefore the beginning of the process (the zygote) must also be a human being.

    I pointed out three flaws in your argument:

    1. The process is not really continuous. It is the product of multiple discreet occurrences. In fact, in a quantum world, no process can be said to be continuous.

    2. It simply doesn’t follow that if the end of a continuous process is something, the beginning must also be that, and I gave several counterexamples to demonstrate this.

    3. The scientific version of the process ignores the existence of the soul, which you and I both agree must be present for a human being to exist. (A human being—by your definition—is a human body conjoined with a soul.) Since your argument did not address the question of at what point in the process a soul joins the developing body, it was incomplete—at best a proof of when a human body comes into existence, not a human being.

    So again, you have misrepresented what my response is when you present a “carefully reasoned argument”.

    Please apologize for this misrepresentation.

  110. Bruce

    I pointed out three flaws in your argument:

    Let’s put that to the test.

    1. The process is not really continuous. It is the product of multiple discreet occurrences. In fact, in a quantum world, no process can be said to be continuous.

    Factually wrong. Unscientific and Illogical speculation. The embryo’s developmental process is guided by information contained in the genome. The cycle begins at fertilization and proceeds without interruption. It is a continuous process. If it were to be interrupted at any moment, the individual would die.

    2.It simply doesn’t follow that if the end of a continuous process is something, the beginning must also be that, and I gave several counterexamples to demonstrate this.

    Pure mystical speculation. The science of embryology says otherwise. In the formation of the multi-celled organism, the law of gradual acquisition causes the human to acquire its final form through the passage of simple forms to more complex forms. This confirms the philosophical argument that the individual maintains its own identity and individuality from the state of one cell to the end of the process.

    3. The scientific version of the process ignores the existence of the soul, which you and I both agree must be present for a human being to exist.

    As well it should.

    (A human being—by your definition—is a human body conjoined with a soul.) Since your argument did not address the question of at what point in the process a soul joins the developing body, it was incomplete—at best a proof of when a human body comes into existence, not a human being.

    I define the soul as the body’s unifying principle, which means that the body cannot exist without it. How do you define the soul?

    Meanwhile, you are silent on your misrepresentation of the Law of Non-Contradiction.

  111. Stephen, re #110:

    I knew you would do this—try to divert attention from the real issue by arguing with the responses I made in that earlier thread. I could almost have predicted it.

    The question between us here is not whether you agree with my critiques of your “reasoned arguments” in support of your view that the zygote is a human being. It is whether you misrepresented the way I respond to your “reasoned arguments”.

    I have shown that you did indeed misrepresent me on all three points that I listed in #97 and again in #109.

    Now are you going to acknowledge what you did and apologize, or are you going to continue on in your lack of integrity?

    Which is it going to be?

  112. 112

    Stephen, addendum to #111:

    PS, If you will answer the question with which I ended #111, I will show you the errors in the arguments you made in #110.

    Deal?

  113. Bruce:

    Now are you going to acknowledge what you did and apologize, or are you going to continue on in your lack of integrity?

    I wrote this,

    “If I present Bruce with a reasoned argument on behalf of the truth, he will simply reject it on the grounds that his personal experience and mystical knowledge transcend any and all logical problems associated with his position.”

    That’s the way it often goes. Your argument against denying the scientific evidence for the humanity of the fetus, for example, is based primarily on your mystical belief that a human is not a human at all until a soul enters the body at a late stage of development. Hence, your perceived esoteric knowledge about when a fetus become human trumps the scientific evidence.

    I also wrote this: “Or, he will declare that any reasonable question is irrelevant and refuse to answer it.”

    True to form, you have refused to answer the question about your misrepresentation of the Law of Non-Contradiction.

    Indeed, when you do answer a question, you often reframe it to the point where it can no longer be recognized, as it was with your response about the LNC and its application to the real world.

    By the way, I have never argued with the statement that the laws of reason apply to the concepts we create to handle our experience here (like the vehicle careening towards us in your question).” And like the planet Jupiter, to be perfectly clear. I just don’t regard Jupiter as having the same ontological status as you do.

    This is a perfect example of the way you ignore the substance of a question and retreat into mysticism, characterizing a careening vehicle as an “concept we create to handle our experience.” Has anyone ever been run over and killed by a two-thousand-pound concept? Ridiculous.

    Sorry, but I can’t apologize. I think I have nailed it. I am not trying to be cruel. On the contrary, I am trying to wake you up.

  114. 114

    Ok, Stephen. As I suspected, you choose to deny the fact that you bore false witness against me. The evidence is in this thread, in your own words, for anyone to see who cares to look.

    So be it.

    Unlike you, I do not believe in Hell, so you are safe on that score, but sooner or later you will confront your lack of integrity and deal with it. As I said, the only one you damage is yourself.

  115. 115

    Stephen, re. 113:

    Sorry, but I can’t apologize. I think I have nailed it. I am not trying to be cruel. On the contrary, I am trying to wake you up.

    Your chosen method of waking people up—by accusing them of saying things they didn’t say and doing things they didn’t do—can’t be very effective. How’s it working?

  116. 116

    Stephen,

    On the contrary, I am trying to wake you up.

    The Buddha was said to be the “awakened one”. By that standard neither one of us is awake. But at least I know I’m dreaming. You don’t even know that yet.

  117. If the universe at one point in time did not exist and at another point in time did exist, it follows that there was a transitional point in time – when it did not exist and exist at the same time?
    More general, how does the LNC deal with change? When something changes, it goes from ‘potency’ to ‘act’ with respect to an attribute. How about that transitional moment in time: the coming into existence of the attribute?

  118. Box, re. #117:

    That’s a good question. It also applies to things going the other direction as well, i.e., into dissolution. For example, let’s say KF’s red ball was a wooden croquet ball, and his daughter took it from the table and left it out in the garden, where it slowly biodegrades. At what point does it cease to be a ball (or red). Is there a period of time when it is both a ball and not a ball?

    This is not a trivial question, for the truth is that everything in the world of appearances changes over time, and often those changes are quite gradual. The law of identity essential applies to a static universe, but the universe isn’t static; it is in constant flux.

  119. Box

    If the universe at one point in time did not exist and at another point in time did exist, it follows that there was a transitional point in time – when it did not exist and exist at the same time?

    According to the Law of Non-Contradiction, the universe cannot exist and not exist at the same time and in the same sense, that is, “under the same formal circumstances”). That last prepositional phrase is critical to understanding the principle.

  120. 120
    englishmaninistanbul

    If I may…

    Language is a vehicle for getting my thoughts into your head.

    But language is a few thousand labels we call words arranged in various sequences, while the thoughts, visions and sounds inside my head are crammed with practically infinite detail and texture, and rush by at great speed. Therefore words are approximations, functional tools that help me interact with you by transferring a rough outline of my thoughts at practical speeds to your mind so that we can get stuff done together.

    It’s rather like the difference between analogue and digital imagery. I point my camera at a real scene and take a photograph broken up into digital pixels (analogous to describing something you see). When I display it on a screen your eye reconstructs an analogue image (your thoughts when you hear/read my explanation). Your reconstruction is not the same as the original, but close enough for you to recognise the real thing when you see it, even if the image I showed you was a grotty GIF.

    For example, while idly perusing some of the comments I saw frequent reference to a “red ball”. When I saw the word “red ball” what I imagined was something hard, teracotta coloured, and roughly the size of a tennis ball. When I scrolled up to read the actual OP I saw the actual image the author used: a pilates ball on a desk. But because I know that that image is also classified in English as a “red ball”, I instantly recognised it for what it was.

    Words are more to do with specifying what something is not than what it is. This is why centuries ago when describing the meaning of words the English started to use the word “definition”, which at the time meant “the setting of boundaries”. The matrix of words in English used for colours and objects places a natural limit on what the words “red ball” can be used to mean, and so I am unphased when confronted with a picture of a red ball that is different to the image in my mind when I first saw the words.

    Another example: In English we have the words “hair” and “feather”. To us, two completely different objects. But in Turkish, the word for “feather” is “ku? tüyü”, or “bird hair”. So if you imagine there’s a feather on the floor and I say to you, in English, “Could you please pick up the hair”, you would look at me strange and say “What hair?” But if I asked you in Turkish “Tüyü al?r m?s?n?” you would pick it up without a moment’s hesitation.

    So all this “When does a red ball stop being a red ball?” is nonsense, because it treats words as more real than the reality we use them to describe. A red ball stops being a red ball when you no longer understand what I mean when I refer to a red ball.

    The question of whether or not the red ball is really “real” or is just the “appearance” of some transcendent reality that merely manifests itself to our senses as a red ball is utterly, utterly beside the point. I call it a red ball. You call it a red ball. For goodness sake IT’S A RED BALL. Now let’s get back to work.

    This is why the last paragraph in the OP contains the following caveat:

    of course, there are spectra or trends or timelines that credibly have a smooth gradation along a continuum, there are superpositions and there are trichotomies etc [which can be reduced to structured sets of dichotomies). But so soon as we are even just talking of this, we are inescapably back to the business of making (A|NOT_A) distinctions.

    In other words, for science to work we have to narrow our definitions down until they include arrays of objects for which rules start to work. “Red balls always…” is not a sentence that can be finished with anything useful, but “Iron balls of diameter x will always…” is. For example, “… weigh y.” If you are going to argue that there are circumstances when iron balls of diameter x do not weigh y you had better have a good reason. For example, “when on Mars”.

    This is why—and this is what I think is the whole point of the OP—it is an egregious cop-out to try to argue that there are circumstances when functionally specified information is not the product of an intelligent entity by challenging the principles of reason itself.

  121. What if something is in a constant flux of becoming, positioned somewhere between not-being and being – just transitional points? Suppose we as human beings are a movement between ‘being unconscious’ and ‘being conscious’?

    How does LNC deal with this? Can we pin the flux down for LNC? Can we say ‘this process of becoming is X and is not NOT X’ ?

    @StephenB (119), can you please elaborate? I don’t see how your answer connects to my question (117).

  122. englishmaninistanbul @120:

    Well said. This is also wholly relevant to the discussion we’ve been having on the other thread with Alan Fox, who has now expanded the thread to many comments, debating what the word “thing” means, in order to avoid the substantive question.

    BTW, are you really in Istanbul? I’ve had a chance to visit Istanbul a couple of times and ride across the Bosphorus. But that was many years ago . . .

  123. EII: Sounds almost like a cricket ball to me! KF

  124. Box: I’ll bite briefly. The fact that you are able to recognise a distinct thing, whatever change process it is undergoing, means that here is a distinct identity. If you want to push it, you are on the road to non-standard analysis and the infinitesimal, i.e. the state in an infinitesimal instant that we can in some ideal sense snapshot — as in, in that limit to “freeze motion” snapshot you have both present state and “momentum” on the change trend. Accumulation of incremental change on a trajectory gives achieved state relative to original. So, yes even that which is always becoming does fit in, just we now have to look to calculus concepts. And this does address Zeno’s paradoxes. KF

  125. Hello KF, thank you for your response. Zeno’s paradoxes come to mind indeed.

    I think my beef is with ‘is’ – ‘being’/'existence’. We do not know what it is.

    This problem reminds me of ‘I think therefor I am’, which for me is undeniably true. The problem however is that we do not know what ‘I’ is, we do not know what ‘think’ is and we do not know what ‘am’ is. So one could wonder as to what we are talking about.
    The same problem emerge with LNC: we do not know what ‘is’ is.

    Allow me to introduce a definition of being. Suppose that there is Not-Being (A) and Being (B). B is a glorious enlightened state with perfect knowledge about oneself. Suppose all organisms are all somewhere between A and B on their individual road towards B. Suppose life is about learning.
    We already knew that life is different from things. I believe life also exists in a different way than static things. Life is becoming. I wonder if calculus concepts will be of any use here. The question, rather, is whether the LNC is an umbrella for all forms of existence.

    Or is tgpeeler right when he said:

    To say that one is more real than the other doesn’t make any sense. Existence is existence. One either is, or one is not, whether one is God or not-God makes no difference.

  126. Box: the calculus principle aptly captures being at the moment, in the midst of change, and it links how change leads to becoming, via cumulative effect. KF

  127. Box,

    The Law of Contradiction applies to what is actual, not what is potential. An object can be potentially F and potentially not F, but it cannot be actually F and actually not F at the same time. Water can be potentially steam or potentially ice at the same time, but it cannot actually be both steam and ice at the same time. In keeping with that point, Hydrogen cannot be Oxygen, but it can mix with oxygen to become water without changing its basic nature.

    So what about the midpoint? Several distinctions must be made. There is a stage at which water, at 32degrees, doesn’t seem to be fully liquid or fully solid, appearing to be almost part liquid and part solid. It is, as you put it, “becoming” a solid if the temperature is going down from 40 degrees or “becoming” a liquid if the temperature is going up from 30 degrees. Still, water cannot become steam or ice at the same time.

    Remember, that H2o is the “thing,” not the conditions that affect its state. It is its nature that is subject to the Law of Non-Contradiction. Water can BECOME either steam or ice, but it cannot also have the nature of oil, which can also change form in a different way and under different conditions (usually more severe) because it has a different nature. Without the Law of Non-Contradiction, I could not make even one of these distinctions. It is true at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances. To deny it is to embrace madness.

  128. 128
    englishmaninistanbul

    Eric @122
    It’s been my stomping ground for as long as anywhere else, and even though I have since relocated to the south I inevitably gravitate back once in while. Wonderful city to visit, hellish city to live in.

    KF @123
    Well, it was almost a cricket ball but it didn’t have any stitches, some kind of cricketennisnooker ball. Funny how the brain generalises.

    ——-

    I would like to think that as a bilingual person with extensive training in translation I have a useful perspective to bring to the table, a small but unique piece to slot somewhere in the puzzle.

    From my angle these debates about reality can end up treating words as more real than the realities we are using them to describe.

    Stuff exists. Stuff happens. The only question is, are we up to describing it?

    To make sense of the world, we come up with (1) definitions, classifications of things, and then try to extrapolate (2) rules that apply to the classes of things thus defined. Then we see how these fare when we superimpose them on our experience of reality, and repeat. When the rules we extrapolate and adjust turn out to be consistently correct, then we have good reason to treat our definitions as a reflection of reality. But they are always provisional, subject to the discovery of any exceptions to our extrapolated rules.

    Water doesn’t know it’s in any state at all, it just does its thing. We, however, have to find a way of dealing with it practically. We notice that it acts differently at different temperatures, and so we find a name for these natures: “states” (definition). We name three states: “fluid” for when it goes splash, “solid” for when it’s cold and hard, and “gas” for when it gets really hot and turns into clouds (more definitions). We then carry out some experiments and extrapolate rules that it turns solid below a certain temperature, gaseous above a certain other temperature, and stays liquid between the two temperatures.

    The rule turns out to be consistently correct and so we provisionally accept our definitions as valid. And by valid, we do not mean that our definitions have somehow become reality themselves, merely that they are a useful tool to process our experiences and successfully deal with reality.

    When we get to phase transitions, we start to see that our rules for the behaviour of solids, fluids and gases start to break down. Where is the line between one and another of the three states? Or is this transitional stage a fourth state? Oh my goodness, is this a challenge to the fabric of reality? No, this is just a problem with our system of definitions and rules. Water is water, it’s just doing its thing.

    This is why Zeno’s paradoxes, clever as they are, seem to me to be little more than navel gazing. So our system for describing the world gets tied up in knots from time to time, so what? It’s a work in progress.

  129. EII:

    Rx, go watch a Test match or at least some 20-20. Sadly, the Windies have so long been in a mess I have given up hope for a generation — I recommend, Australia or somebody like that.

    On Zeno, I would suggest that Calculus has answered, that his concepts were inadequate and so he saw conundrums that have been resolved. The problem is, Calculus is no slouch on the difficulty scale, it requires a personal intellectual revolution to understand.

    My best effort is to highlight that when we do a freeze frame snapshot, we see things in positions, even while they are also moving and have momentum. There is no inherent contradiction between the two. Multiply by the L’Hospital principle of the ratios of series that converge to finite limits, and the other part comes out. Namely, that ratios of form infinity-limit to infinity limit, depend term by term on which is getting there fastest and can come out to hold finite values. That is we can pass through an infinite succession of points in a finite time, and hit a limit where Achilles overtakes the tortoise.

    I think the modern era of digital approximations in rapid succession should tell us something.

    Beyond, of course, I hold that in the freeze frame the streamer tailed hummingbird — Jamaica’s Doctor Bird — is still the hummingbird, never mind it is in a process of flying from flower to flower by furiously flapping those wings. Hence the famous buzz.

    The point being, that once there is a distinct identity [Doctor Bird, D], we have a dichotomy {D|NOT_D} and the laws of identity, non contradiction and excluded middle apply.

    KF

  130. 130

    Box, et al,

    What is KF’s red ball? Our senses tell us that it is a spherical, solid object, colored red. But what does modern science say about it? Well, for one thing, it isn’t red. It isn’t any color at all. It merely emits certain frequencies of light in response to incident light. The color is created by and exists only in our minds. It isn’t solid either. It is made up of atoms, in turn composed of electrons and quarks, which are almost entirely empty space. Can we perceive those subatomic particles? No, we cannot. They are concepts created by physicists about which they write mathematical equations to describe the results of their experiments. Are those subatomic particles “real”? That is, do they have an existence independent of our minds? In my philosophy they are do not. However, the scenario I lay out below works either way.

    So the red ball is a concept that exists in our minds based on our sense impressions, which as englishmaninistanbul correctly points out, have an enormous range of subtlety and variation.

    Imagine the following scenario:

    KF’s daughter, one day while KF is away at a conference, picks up the ball from his desk. For the sake of my story, let’s say it is a red, wooden, croquet ball. She takes it out into the back yard and plays with it, and while doing so, drops it so that it rolls underneath a bush. She tries to retrieve it, but she can’t reach it. She starts to go into the house to get her mother to help her, but on the way she becomes distracted by a squirrel and forgets about the ball (she is only six, after all). When KF returns, he eventually notices that the ball is no longer on his desk, but it was not that important to him in the first place, so he doesn’t mention it to anyone.

    20 years later, now married with a daughter of her own, his daughter is visiting her father and she decides to clear out some of the dead brush in the back yard. While doing so, accompanied by her daughter, she comes across the ball now half buried in the dirt and having lost its color. The discovery triggers the memory of that day so long ago when the ball rolled under the bush and she couldn’t get it back. She says to her own daughter, “Look, that’s the red croquet ball I lost here when I was your age.” Her daughter runs over and pulls the object from the earth. The half that was underground has by now mostly turned to soil, and what remains is decayed wood. Of the atoms that originally made up the ball, many are now in the soil, and many of the others have been reconfigured into new molecules by the soil organisms responsible for decay.

    “That’s not a ball,” her daughter exclaims.

    “Yes it is; it’s the ball I dropped here 20 years ago. I distinctly remember,” her mother replies.

    “But it isn’t even round,” her daughter points out.

    And at this particular moment, the ball—which remember was always simply a concept in the minds of the members of KF’s household—both exists (in KF’s daughter’s mind) and does not exist (in her daughter’s mind) at the same time and in the same sense.

  131. BD:

    Pardon, but I think I need to mark up:
    ________

    >> But what does modern science say about it? Well, for one thing, it isn’t red. It isn’t any color at all. It merely emits certain frequencies of light in response to incident light.>>

    1: Not so, an object is by definition red if it reflects or emits light of certain wavelengths.

    2: What science has shown here is HOW a red object is red, not at all the absurdity that a red object has no colour.

    >>The color is created by and exists only in our minds.>>

    3: Not so, the PERCEPTION and label red are mental, but that does not mean that such are therefore not real or objective.

    4: For instance (save those of us who have defects, which are observable and measurable, giving from one of my prof’s report a greyish perceived colour), under reasonable and consistent circmstances, we readily recognised a red ball as just that, red.

    >>It isn’t solid either.>>

    5: Nope, again a confusion, what we learned is HOW a solid object works, works to maintain a consistent shape and size under similar circumstances.

    6: If an object does that, it is solid, not liquid (consistent volume, flows under its weight so no consistent shape) or gaseous (no consistent shape or volume, flows and spreads to fill container).

    >>It is made up of atoms, in turn composed of electrons and quarks [protons, neutrons etc, in turn composite in many cases at lower scales], which are almost entirely empty space.>>

    7: Again, the way a solid object is made up does not change the fact that it is a solid object, it only gives us insights on how it works as such.

    >>Can we perceive those subatomic particles? No, we cannot. They are concepts created by physicists about which they write mathematical equations to describe the results of their experiments.>>

    8: The particles are indeed below our scale of perceiving, and well below optical scale with microscopy. However, there is more than sufficient evidence that they are real.

    >>Are those subatomic particles “real”? That is, do they have an existence independent of our minds?>>

    9: Absent the reality of those particles, we would not have a solar system, or a star in its middle that gives off the light and heat we need to live. And, on any reckoning, that reality preceded our own as a race.

    >> In my philosophy they are do not. >>

    10: So much the worse for your philosophy, it fails the test of factual adequacy.
    _________

    Please, think again.

    KF

  132. KF, re. 131:

    Not so, an object is by definition red if it reflects or emits light of certain wavelengths.

    The fact that people agree to call it red when it satisfies certain conditions does not mean that it is red. The red color that we perceive does not inhere in the object. It is formed in our minds and exists there and there alone.

    Similarly with its solidity. We perceive it as solid, that is, exhibiting no spaces within or surface openings. That is what our senses tell us is true about it. This, however, is an illusion—it is composed almost entirely of empty space. The solidity (lack of any internal spaces or surface openings) we perceive exists entirely in our minds and not in the object itself, according to the current understanding of physics.

    Absent the reality of those particles, we would not have a solar system, or a star in its middle that gives off the light and heat we need to live. And, on any reckoning, that reality preceded our own as a race.

    Not in my philosophy (and Bishop Berkely’s and Jonathan Edwards’, and Bruce Gordon’s, and Richard L. Thompson’s, to name just a few). In that system, the universe works just fine, even though it is “merely” a kind of virtual reality.

    You can’t prove that this point of view is false, KF; you may as well stop trying. I realize that I can’t prove it is true either, but I believe I have very good reasons for holding it. I enumerated those reasons in #94.

    And please stop telling me to “think again”. It should be abundantly clear that I have already given a great deal of thought to these matters. Thinking again is not going to cause me somehow to come around to your way of looking at the world.

  133. BD,

    I don’t have a lot of time just now, so I will say simply this: the redness of an object is an objective characteristic associated with the sense of being appeared to redly.

    AmHD:

    red (rd)
    n.
    1.
    a. The hue of the long-wave end of the visible spectrum, evoked in the human observer by radiant energy with wavelengths of approximately 630 to 750 nanometers; any of a group of colors that may vary in lightness and saturation and whose hue resembles that of blood; one of the additive or light primaries; one of the psychological primary hues.
    b. A pigment or dye having a red hue.
    c. Something that has a red hue.
    2.
    a. often Red A Communist.
    b. A revolutionary activist.

    KF

  134. Really, KF. This is a very subtle philosophical point. You’re not going to settle it one way or the other with a dictionary definition, for Pete’s sake!

    I’m talking about where the actual redness that we perceive is located, according to the understanding of modern science. I say it is entirely created by our minds and is not in the object at all. We perceive the object as having a red color, as being red. However, this is an illusion created by our minds. The object itself has no color at all. The color we see is supplied by our minds. This, to me, is beyond dispute.

    The fact that the color red is commonly defined in terms of the wavelength of light is irrelevant to the truth of the above paragraph.

  135. Bruce David @134:

    Sorry to butt in on the conversation in a drive-by fashion, but I’m wondering what your larger point is?

    It is clear that the reason we perceive the object as having a red color is due to some physical characteristic of the object. So whether we define the word “color” as (i) the actual characteristic of the object or (ii) our perception of the actual characteristic of the object, seems to be a semantic game. It is not a subtle philosophical point.

    What is your larger point?

  136. BD: Please don’t try that one on me. The AmHD is accurately summarising the view of physicists as a body of relevant empirically grounded expertise, which I had already taken time to outline. On this matter, Ise be one of dose who does hab likkle knowledge. How redness works physically (and physiologically — triggering sensory cells and neural paths) does not undermine the fact of redness of objects. That is, again, you are on the wrong side of identity, non contradiction and excluded middle, leading to — pardon directness — incoherence. KF

  137. 137

    Eric, re. #135

    It is clear that the reason we perceive the object as having a red color is due to some physical characteristic of the object. So whether we define the word “color” as (i) the actual characteristic of the object or (ii) our perception of the actual characteristic of the object, seems to be a semantic game. It is not a subtle philosophical point.

    I respectfully disagree. Whether color is an inherent property of the object or something added to it by our perception of it is a subtle philosophical point, in my view. Witness the difficulty KF and I are having on this very question. The resolution of that question also has larger philosophical implications.

    What is your larger point?

    My larger point can be found in #130.

  138. 138

    KF, re. #136:

    The AmHD is accurately summarising the view of physicists as a body of relevant empirically grounded expertise, which I had already taken time to outline.

    What actually happens in the object/human system during perception is properly a subject for physics and biology, but the question of whether color is inherent in the object or located entirely in the perceiver’s mind is a matter of interpretation, and essentially a question of philosophy rather than physics. Like biologists (Richard Dawkins comes to mind), physicists are no more or less qualified to answer philosophical questions than any other educated intelligent person, and in all humility, I do think I qualify on that score.

    How redness works physically (and physiologically — triggering sensory cells and neural paths) does not undermine the fact of redness of objects

    It most certainly does. The redness, the color which is actually perceived, is clearly not in the object itself. It is in the mind of the perceiver.

    We are just going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

  139. BD:

    Nope.

    The perception and conceptual labelling of a colour is a perceptual-cognitive exercise, but the physical excitation that triggers it is not simply a subjective process.

    Has it ever dawned on you that to ascertain that a certain band of wavelengths of light is consistently perceived as red, there has to be first a spectroscopic investigation that identifies light by wavelength; then a second one to see how a population responds to light of the different frequencies under standardised conditions? That there is in fact a resulting consensus that has been reported and is now in international standards? [This happens to be important to colour printing, photography and video etc.)

    The sum of the evidence is that there is an objective, consistent response that identifies redness as perception with an objective physical process.

    Going further, you are suspiciously close to the overly sharp dichotomising of things as perceived or conceived and things in themselves that tends to self referential incoherence. The one who imagines that there is an ugly, uncrossable gulch between the one and the other is in the incoherent position of claiming to know about the external world, its unknowability.

    A saner view is to recognise the difference, to accept the possibilities of truth and error, and to revert to warrant to identify cases of reliable knowledge.

    Redness happens to be one of these.

    KF

  140. 140

    KF, re. #139

    Has it ever dawned on you that to ascertain that a certain band of wavelengths of light is consistently perceived as red, there has to be first a spectroscopic investigation that identifies light by wavelength; then a second one to see how a population responds to light of the different frequencies under standardised conditions? That there is in fact a resulting consensus that has been reported and is now in international standards? [This happens to be important to colour printing, photography and video etc.)

    I am well aware of this. I am in fact an amateur photographer who uses the color capabilities of Photoshop. But these facts only support my point. The process underlying color vision, involving light emitted by the object, processed by the eye and then the brain, leading ultimately to the experience of seeing color just underscores the fact that color does not inhere in the object. It is produced in the mind. Our seeing an object as some color is an illusion. There is no color “out there”, only “in here”. One can define a certain band of wavelengths of EM radiation as red if one wants, but the vision, the experience, of the color red is qualitatively different from photons of a given frequency. They simply are not the same thing.

    Going further, you are suspiciously close to the overly sharp dichotomising of things as perceived or conceived and things in themselves that tends to self referential incoherence. The one who imagines that there is an ugly, uncrossable gulch between the one and the other is in the incoherent position of claiming to know about the external world, its unknowability.

    We’ve been over this already. The first thinker to suggest this “gulch” was Kant, I believe. It was later taken up by Berkeley, who dispensed with physical, independently existing “things in themselves” altogether, a view with which I, as I have already said (#94), and many other deep thinkers, concur. There is nothing incoherent about this view. You may not agree. That is your prerogative, of course. But you cannot disprove it. Too many competent thinkers have thought it through too carefully for that to be possible.

    We disagree, fundamentally, KF. Just let it be.

  141. 141
    Kantian Naturalist

    Bruce David,

    (1) Kant was after Berkeley, not before. :)

    (2) A better way of putting it, perhaps, would be to say that under Berkeleyian idealism, there is no appearance/reality divide to begin with. (At least this is how Berkeley presents it — I just finished teaching Berkeley, so it’s fresh in my mind.) As Berkeley puts it, his view arises from two assertions: (1) that the really existing things are the things that are immediately perceived; (2) that everything immediately perceived is ‘internal’ to some mind or other.

    (3) Hence there is no ‘divide’, whether ontological or epistemological, between “noumena” and “phenomena” — Berkeley’s is a What You See Is What You Get philosophy.

    (4) An interesting feature of Berkeley’s philosophy — though this is perhaps going into more detail than anyone here cares about — is that, as he sees it, if you’re going to start off with a roughly Cartesian/Lockean picture of the mind, then one cannot avoid skepticism and Other Bad Stuff if one then also insists on making room for physical objects. Objective knowledge is saved by denying the existence of physical objects, not imperiled by doing so.

    (5) Personally, I read Berkeley as a profound and serious philosopher whose view turns out to be a reductio ad absurdum of the Cartesian picture of mind. That’s why the basic impetus of my thought is to provide a better picture, one that begins with Kant and was increasingly refined by pragmatists and phenomenologists. And a key point there is to distinguish between the capacity whereby we are sensually directed towards particular objects, and the capacity whereby we are able to form judgments about those objects, evaluate those judgments, and so on.

  142. Bruce David @135:

    I respectfully disagree. Whether color is an inherent property of the object or something added to it by our perception of it is a subtle philosophical point, in my view.

    It is not a subtle philosophical point. It is a semantic game. Which can be demonstrated quite easily.

    You say that we perceive something. Fine. And you say that our perception is where “red” is, rather than in the object. Fine.

    So if we take that definition of “red” then we now just have to come up with another word to describe whatever it is we are perceiving. It must be something. We don’t just imagine redness all around us in random ways. I have a red mouse on my desk and every time I look at it, I perceive it to be red. The other objects around it are not perceived as red. So there is something about the object that I am perceiving that causes me to perceive red (using your concept).

    The question then remains: what is it about the object — what property — makes me perceive it as red. And the answer, in simple, everyday, ordinary language is that it is in fact red.

    Now you can think of the “redness” existing only in your perception all you want. But that doesn’t change the reality that the very fact you have a perception means that you are perceiving something. And that something is what virtually everyone (except apparently you, and perhaps a couple of other folks) calls “red.” (And, BTW, the perception of red we would call the “perception of red.”)

    We can redefine and shift terms all we want, but it is just a semantic game.

    Witness the difficulty KF and I are having on this very question. The resolution of that question also has larger philosophical implications.

    No. The difficulty has arisen because you insist on using the word in a way that is different than practically every other English speaker uses the word. That indeed makes conversation difficult. But it does not point to any deep philosophy.

    —–

    Anyway, I was just trying to determine if there might be some substance, but it is clear to me that this is a semantic issue only, so I probably won’t comment further as it is unlikely to be productive.

  143. 143

    KN, re. 141:

    Kant was after Berkeley, not before.

    Really? I must be misremembering my college philosophy course where we studied Kant and the empiricists. But that was quite some time ago.

    For the rest, thank you very much for your description of Berkeley’s thought. It is exactly what I believe to be the case, but you said it much better than I have been able to. It is really quite a beautiful description in very few words.

    It have been discussing with KF the question of whether red exists in the object or only in our minds, taking it as given for the sake of the discussion that there may be something “out there”, something described by physics. But really, in the back of my mind, I have always held that the perception is the object. It has no other existence. I have (probably foolishly) been trying to show KF the inconsistency in his own point of view. Always a fool’s errand, I guess.

  144. 144

    Ericm re. #142:

    No. The difficulty has arisen because you insist on using the word in a way that is different than practically every other English speaker uses the word. That indeed makes conversation difficult. But it does not point to any deep philosophy.

    The subject under discussion is precisely whether ordinary use of the words and the concepts which underlie them are an accurate reflection of the way things really are. A criticism based on the way “practically every other English speaker uses the word” is thus not really relevant.

    If you think the concepts I am trying to illuminate don’t “point to any deep philosophy”, I refer you to KN’s post above (#141) and also the book Biocentrism by Robert Lanza and Bob Herman, both distinguished scientists (in other words, no slouches intellectually). There is an entire chapter in that book devoted to precisely the question KF and I are discussing (Chapter 5, “Where Is the Universe?”) as part of a philosophical argument for a complete re-imagining of the nature of reality.

  145. 145

    KN, re. 141 again:

    A footnote: I had the thought that perhaps the reason I am satisfied with Berkeley’s solution and you are not is that I am certain of the existence of the Divine, which makes Berkeley’s thought complete, whereas you at least have doubts on that score.

    What do you think?

  146. 146
    Kantian Naturalist

    For my part, I would say that I find there to be quite serious problems with Berkeley’s position, independent of his theism. It’s up to you if you want to get into it or not.

  147. BD: I have already pointed out enough to show that there are objective states of affairs concerning objects that make for the case that we consistently perceive redness in certain objects, like the exercise ball on the table in the OP. A physical investigation will lead to the conclusion that objects that will appear red to us under normal circumstances do so by reflecting or emitting a certain bandwidth of light. Such objects may reasonably be labelled red to denote this identifying characteristic, though of course certain languages do not do so. However, someone who speaks such a language, and who has normal colour vision, can be led to understand what red is. In short, there is an objective state of affairs, part of the distinct identity of certain objects, that makes them red, leading to a particular stimulus, often labelled “red” or “rojo” etc. The denial of that distinct identity as a facet of reality simply leads to incoherence, as is seen above. But I have long since learned that mere adequacy of warrant for a point will almost never be enough for those committed not to see the point. KF

    PS: Onlookers interested in some of the background may want to look here on in context.

  148. KF, re. 147:

    A physical investigation will lead to the conclusion that objects that will appear red to us under normal circumstances do so by reflecting or emitting a certain bandwidth of light. Such objects may reasonably be labelled red to denote this identifying characteristic, though of course certain languages do not do so.

    The fact that we label something red after having learned the physical mechanisms that correlate to our minds perceiving that color simply isn’t a warrant for claiming that the color actually exists in the object. It doesn’t. It exists solely in our minds. Unless, of course, as Berkeley claims and I actually believe, the perception is the object. But I know you aren’t willing to go anywhere near that far.

    But I have long since learned that mere adequacy of warrant for a point will almost never be enough for those committed not to see the point.

    I’m sure it comes as no surprise that that is exactly how I see your unwillingness or inability to grasp the point which I have been trying to make.

  149. KN, re. #146

    For my part, I would say that I find there to be quite serious problems with Berkeley’s position, independent of his theism. It’s up to you if you want to get into it or not.

    Yes, please. I would love to hear what you have to say on that subject. If I’m missing something, I really would like to know.

  150. BD: You are rejecting adequate warrant. There is adequate warrant that there is such a thing as objective redness — indeed, of many shades of red, as artists and fashion-conscious ladies will inform us. Your problem seems rooted in a demand for a kind of certainty in knowledge of the external world that is simply not in our gift. I assure you, however, that if you had medicines that bore the label that if they go off the pills will turn red, and you saw that happen, you would stop taking the pills. Similarly, I am fairly sure you stop at red lights. So the idiosyncratic demand that we reject the evidence that there is an objective state of affairs, redness, and with it accept the notion that first principles of right reason are merely linguistic, conventional and arbitrary by implication, is plainly unreasonable. I respectfully suggest that you think again. KF

  151. Moderator: WP just vanished a significant comment I spent a fair time on, on the no-warning excuse that I must be logged in to comment. Is that a bug or a “feature.”? KF

  152. Okay, I will not try to redo the comment, too much on the table.

    I will instead snip the remark by Locke on the need to take due balance on degree of certainty regarding knowledge and the fundamentally silly nature of hyperskepticism, in whatever forms:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 - 21, Eph 4:17 - 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 - 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 - 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Emphases added. Text references also added, to document the sources of Locke's biblical allusions and citations.]

  153. 153
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: 149, a brief critique of Berkeley:

    Berkeley, like most philosophers of the modern period, is committed to the sensory-cognitive continuum: the view that there is no difference in kind between perceptions and judgments.

    (Examples: Descartes thinks that sensations and thoughts differ only because the former are “vague and confused” and the latter are “clear and distinct”; Berkeley distinguishes between “ideas of sense” and “ideas of imagination” (also, quite notoriously, between “ideas” and “notions”); Hume distinguishes between “impressions” and the “ideas” that are “copied” from them.)

    I think that the SCC is a serious mistake; perceptions and thoughts are quite different, although correctly describing that difference is not easily done. I have my own view on how to do that, and so do lots of other people working on this topic.

    The problems here come to a head in what’s sometimes called “concept empiricism,” of which Berkeley is a shining example (along with Locke and Hume). Concept empiricism says that we first notice regularities in our experience, then learn how to classify those regularities by means of concepts. The converse view, which I think is correct, holds that we are only able to notice the regularities for which we have the corresponding concepts. So this undermines the most basic premise from which all empiricism, whether classical or logical, springs forth.

    (Notice: what prevents this view from being full-blown Hegelian idealism is that the possession of the concepts is the ground of the noticing of the regularities — conceptuality does not constitute those regularities.)

    So that’s one point. Another problem I have with Berkeley’s immaterialism is that the denial of the existence of physical objects, including one’s own body, really does look to me like an expression of repressed hatred of one’s embodiment — what Nietzsche calls “the ascetic ideal” — when one’s own sensuality becomes a site of anxiety. To even want to deny the existence of one’s own body is, on this view, an expression of a life that does not want to live, that is, a kind of sick or diseased life. There’s this persistent anxiety about “matter” — as that which is inert, passive, dead — at work in Berkeley’s philosophy, and an instinctive recoil — it’s as if he finds matter repulsive or disgusting.

    I know that’s not really much of an argument against immaterialism; it’s more of a diagnosis of what is really going on, psychologically, with Berkeley’s wanting that view to be true.

  154. Stephen B: (127)
    The Law of Contradiction applies to what is actual, not what is potential. An object can be potentially F and potentially not F, but it cannot be actually F and actually not F at the same time. Water can be potentially steam or potentially ice at the same time, but it cannot actually be both steam and ice at the same time.

    This distinction between actuality and potentiality is very clear, very helpful.
    Let me try to build on that. From the perspective of water there is a canyon between actuality and potentiality. Water cannot reach to its potential from within; it depends on an external cause – environmental temperature.
    This canyon makes your analysis so very clear. Actuality and potentiality are two different planes separated by a canyon. Actual water is what it is, incapable of annexing its potential.

    However an agent does. An agent controls its own potential – at least to some extent. This is an entirely different way of being. I can make plans. In the here and now I reach into what I become. In a person actuality and potentiality blend in, the canyon is not present. The being of an agent is not confined to actuality but is also potential. An agent is becoming – change from within. Potentiality is part of who he is.
    At the beginning of this sentence I’m already the man who wrote this sentence. The writing of this sentence is one experience – a flux of midpoints rather than confined isolated moments. The man who did not write this sentence and the man who did write this sentence are one and the same. In me actuality and potentiality are one. I am becoming.

    Stephen B (127):Remember, that H2o is the “thing,” not the conditions that affect its state.

    I agree, and it is different with an agent.

  155. 155

    KF, re. #150:

    I’ll give you one thing, KF. You are nothing if not tenacious.

    However, you are confusing regularity, predictability, and consequences with existence.

    I refer you again to the airline pilot in the cockpit of a 747 flight simulator handling a simulated emergency situation. He will see things, hear things, and take action. The visual and auditory cues he gets will have predictable consequences, and if he responds incorrectly, his simulated plane will crash and he will “die”. But none of this regularity, predictability, and consequence in any way implies that the simulated world in which he is temporarily immersed has an objective reality.

    I believe that all there is is mind—our minds and God’s mind. I presented the reasons for my belief in #94. God has created this virtual reality we inhabit when in a physical body for the purpose of our soul’s evolution. It is intended to be compelling. To be otherwise would be to defeat its purpose. So, like the flight simulator, it includes regularity, predictability, and consequences. That does not imply that it has any existence independent of the minds that perceive it (ours and God’s).

    There is nothing incoherent or self-referential about this philosophical system. You can’t disprove it, nor can you even show that it is more reasonable to believe as you do. I believe that I presented very good reasons in #94 for my metaphysical choices.

    Nothing you have said comes remotely close to a good reason for me to abandon them.

  156. Bruce David,
    You spoke of your perception of Jupiter as your concept – created by your mind. This seems to be inconsistent with the virtual reality of a online computer game, since such a virtual reality is not created by you or the other participants but by the designer.

  157. BD: Box is right, the participation in a simulated world requires willing suspension of disbelief. The fatal flaw in your scheme has been pointed out. Any scheme which requires us to hold our overall sense of the real world false — whether by it’s all in your mind or otherwise — is utterly self referential and cuts itself to shreds. For, the second order scheme is subject to the same objection and so forth. That you have problems with the reality of a red ball on a table, with the Planet Jupiter — including with its unexpected features from the Galilean satellites to the Cometary impacts of the 90′s — with what it means for a solid object to be solid and more, are all telling. At this stage, you are living in a hall of mirrors and have all the difficulties implied by that classic metaphor. Please, think again. KF

  158. 158

    Box, re. 156:

    Bruce David,
    You spoke of your perception of Jupiter as your concept – created by your mind. This seems to be inconsistent with the virtual reality of a online computer game, since such a virtual reality is not created by you or the other participants but by the designer.

    To oversimplify somewhat, my experience in the virtual reality is managed and controlled by God. The concepts with which I organize, filter, and understand that experience are my creation.

  159. 159

    KF, re #157:

    Box is right, the participation in a simulated world requires willing suspension of disbelief.

    Only up to a point. The pilot in the simulator always knows he is in a simulator and will not really die, no matter how immersed in the experience he becomes.

    And I, incarnated in this body, am aware that my environment is the “world of appearances” even as I am immersed in the experience. This is not a problem, KF. Read my lips, THIS IS NOT A PROBLEM. You are making up problems for me that simply do not exist. Get over it.

    The fatal flaw in your scheme has been pointed out. Any scheme which requires us to hold our overall sense of the real world false — whether by it’s all in your mind or otherwise — is utterly self referential and cuts itself to shreds.

    Utter nonsense! There is nothing self referential about it. I (and you and Box) inhabit a virtual reality controlled by God. It appears real. It’s supposed to. But sooner or later each of us realizes it isn’t real—it’s an illusion. But it has a holy purpose.

    In other words, KF, my very life is a refutation of your contention. I live in this world, knowing that it is only appearance and not reality, but operating here as though it were real, because that is what one does when one is immersed in a virtual reality in which one has chosen to participate. And THERE IS NO PROBLEM. My life works just fine, in fact more than fine; it’s pretty close to spectacular.

    Your protestations smash to pieces on the rock of my life as I live it. Get used to it.

  160. 160

    KN, re. #153:
    Thank you very much for your critique of Berkeley. I haven’t forgotten you, but I am cogitating on what you said. I have some ideas, but they aren’t yet fully developed. You will hear from me anon.

  161. BD: I (and you and Box) inhabit a virtual reality controlled by God. It appears real.

    Why not call it real? Your argument for calling it unreal was that you created it all. ‘Reality’ was not out there but only in your mind. It looks like that is off the table, since you told us that God – and not you – creates and maintains it. So now this so called virtual reality is external to you and comes from God.

  162. Box:

    However an agent does. An agent controls its own potential – at least to some extent. This is an entirely different way of being. [than water]

    Yes, that’s right. A human agent can realize its potential in many different ways. In each case, we must examine the context. Here are three brief examples of the ways a human can develop his potential:

    Biologically, a human being can, in the course of a lifetime, grow as a thing, but it cannot morph into another thing. An embryo, for example, can develop as a fetus, form into an adolescent, and mature into an adult. In this sense, he is developing as a thing, but he is not morphing into another kind of thing. In no way can he be or become a rabbit.

    Intellectually and morally, he can also develop as a thing, growing in wisdom and virtue, that is, as a human being perfecting his nature. While he cannot become a different kind of thing, he can, indeed, transform himself into a different kind of person. Among other things, he can progress in wisdom and virtue, or, sad to say, he can go the other way, pervert his own nature through vice, and regress.

    Spiritually, he can literally morph into different kind of thing—on the condition that he will die to his lower nature. Just as a plant can die to itself by becoming food for an animal, becoming a part of the animal; and just as an animal can die to itself by becoming food for a human, becoming a part of the human; a human can die to his lower nature (sin) and become an adopted Son of God, becoming a totally new creature.

    Notice that in each case, potential is being realized but in a different way, under different conditions, within certain constraints. Once again, it would be impossible to analyze these different contexts in the absence of the Law of Non-Contradiction. In keeping with that point, we cannot analyze the notion of “potential” without understanding the context in which the word is being used.

  163. 163

    Box, re. #161:

    Why not call it real? Your argument for calling it unreal was that you created it all.

    An argument for calling it unreal (although I never used that word) is that it is the appearance of a physical universe “out there” that doesn’t actually exist. Another argument is that the mystics throughout the ages and myriad spiritual traditions have affirmed that true reality exists beyond what our senses perceive and which cannot be described.

  164. KN, re. #153

    The problems here come to a head in what’s sometimes called “concept empiricism,” of which Berkeley is a shining example (along with Locke and Hume). Concept empiricism says that we first notice regularities in our experience, then learn how to classify those regularities by means of concepts. The converse view, which I think is correct, holds that we are only able to notice the regularities for which we have the corresponding concepts. So this undermines the most basic premise from which all empiricism, whether classical or logical, springs forth.

    My first thought is that scientific theory generation tends to work as concept empiricism would have it. For example, Rutherford, I believe it was, shot alpha particles at gold foil and noticed that a very small fraction of them were deflected. From this he created the concept of the atom as mostly empty space with a nucleus at the center. Another example: Einstein formulated the concept of light as particles based on experimental findings related to black body radiation.

    However, scientific hypothesis formulation is admittedly a special case. Most of the concepts with which we organize our experience are formed very early in our development. It’s a kind of chicken and egg problem, and I suspect that the process is one in which both concepts and awareness of regularities in experience kind of develop in tandem. Also, the acquisition of language and through this the influence of older members of the child’s circle of acquaintance must also play a role.

    Also, if I am right in my belief in reincarnation, then the soul that comes in to the newborn perhaps brings with it a wealth of accumulated experience from its prior lives.

    In either case, I don’t see that the Berkeleyan model is invalidated.

    As for whether Berkeley’s beliefs were the product of a “repressed hatred of one’s embodiment”, I can only tell you that it certainly isn’t true of me. You’ll just have to take my word for that.

  165. BD, re 156: Do you not see how you directly implied self-referentiality? That is inadvertently quite revealing. KF

  166. Stephen B,
    Thank you for your (again) analytical clarifying comment, which shows that human potential is present at hierarchically distinct levels. Certainly food for thought. One day I will hopefully reach to my spiritual potential.

  167. Box, thank you for a meaningful and stimulating discussion.

  168. 168

    KF, re. #165:

    BD, re 156: Do you not see how you directly implied self-referentiality? That is inadvertently quite revealing. KF

    I agree with Berkeley that we perceive objects directly and that they exist in a mind or minds and nowhere else. Whose minds? Ours and God’s. The reference is to the mind of God, not to myself. That is where the objectivity resides. The perception is “false” if and only if we posit the existence of an independently existing physical reality that is its object. As I explained in #94, there is no need for such an assumption, and furthermore that making such an assumption creates what I regard as insurmountable philosophical difficulties.

    The fact that you are singularly unable to see that this point of view is not self-referential is quite revealing.

    If you wish to continue believing in a physical reality that exists independently of our minds and God’s mind, be my guest. But I’d like to know how you solve the mind/body problem.

    So do yourself a favor and stop trying to prove that my view is wrong. It can’t be done.

  169. 169
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: 164

    Well, the history of science is full of all sorts of fascinating examples of conceptual innovation (often by way of analogy) — Rutherford’s deployment of the word “nucleus” is a wonderful case. And I think that concepts pretty much just are the rules that govern how words are used, that determine correct or incorrect usage. So I’ll grant that Rutherford invented a new concept of “nucleus”, and taught the rest of us to do likewise.

    My point, though, was that Rutherford already had a functioning vocabulary for classifying and distinguishing the regularities in his experience. And it is the vocabulary as a whole — the living language, sedimented in or rooted in the linguistic traditions in which are raised — that is not directly ‘read off’ from the regularities of experience.

    That is, objects do not present themselves to us with their labels on, telling us what to call them — and that is what I meant by “concept empiricism”. The labels we employ are what we bring to experience in order to discern what regularities are there. (And as we develop new concepts (theories, vocabularies, languages), our ability to notice more and more fine-grained regularities, to classify and describe, becomes correspondingly more precise. I make this point in order to underscore how a rejection of concept empiricism is consistent with scientific realism.)

    Though the connection might not be apparent at first, concept empiricism is the very edifice upon which everything else in Berkeley (and Locke, and Hume) depends. I say that because Berkeley’s entire structure depends on the sensory-cognitive continuum: that the very fabric of experience (“sensations” or “ideas of sense”) comes to us pre-classified and pre-categorized, and all we need to do is find the right words for that pre-classified structure.

    Whereas on my view, there is no pre-classification — in the absence of concepts, all there is what James called “a blooming, buzzing confusion” (his wonderful phrase for the sensory consciousness of a baby). There is, therefore, no consciousness of objects, no consciousness of anything as being external, and hence no consciousness of anything being internal, either. The classification of experiences into those that are “psychological” (thoughts, sensations, feelings, desires) and those that are “physical” (spatio-temporal objects) is itself a product of acquiring a language, and both basic categories — “the psychological” and “the physical” — arise together and in fact are inter-dependent.

    I see no hope for the thought that our psychological vocabulary is more logically primitive than our physical vocabulary, nor for the thought that our psychological vocabulary has an higher ontological status than our physical vocabulary does.

  170. But KN let’s get to the foundation. As a naturalist, with no ‘I’ apart from the atoms of your body, how can you truly explain how words can ‘mean’ anything in the first place?

    Evolution of the Genus Homo – Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences – Ian Tattersall, Jeffery H. Schwartz, May 2009
    Excerpt: “Unusual though Homo sapiens may be morphologically, it is undoubtedly our remarkable cognitive qualities that most strikingly demarcate us from all other extant species. They are certainly what give us our strong subjective sense of being qualitatively different. And they are all ultimately traceable to our symbolic capacity. Human beings alone, it seems, mentally dissect the world into a multitude of discrete symbols, and combine and recombine those symbols in their minds to produce hypotheses of alternative possibilities. When exactly Homo sapiens acquired this unusual ability is the subject of debate.”
    http://www.annualreviews.org/d.....208.100202

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    1. The argument from the intentionality (aboutness) of mental states implies non-physical minds (dualism), which is incompatible with naturalism
    2. The existence of meaning in language is incompatible with naturalism, Rosenberg even says that all the sentences in his own book are meaningless
    3. The existence of truth is incompatible with naturalism
    4. The argument from moral praise and blame is incompatible with naturalism
    5. Libertarian freedom (free will) is incompatible with naturalism
    6. Purpose is incompatible with naturalism
    7. The enduring concept of self is incompatible with naturalism
    8. The experience of first-person subjectivity (“I”) is incompatible with naturalism

  171. 171
    Kantian Naturalist

    I’m not interested in defending Rosenberg’s view; I’m interested in defending my own. If you want to ask, “what’s your view of semantics?” and “how is your semantics consistent with naturalism?” I’d be willing to answer.

  172. Kantian Naturalist, what’s your view of semantics? How is your semantics consistent with naturalism? :)

  173. 173
    Kantian Naturalist

    Why, Box, I thought you’d never ask! :)

    I hold a view called “semantic holism.” “Semantic atomism” is the view that meanings are assigned to words one by one; “semantic holism” is the view that words have meaning by virtue of their relationships, and that no word has meaning all by itself. More specifically, I like a version of semantic holism called inferential semantics: the view that meaning is constituted by inferential role, or the role that a term plays within a pattern of inference.

    For example, a parrot could be trained to say, “that’s red!” whenever you show it something that’s red. (Of course it would not appear red to the parrot, because parrots don’t have the kind of eyes that primates have, but that’s another matter.) Would we say that the parrot knows what “red” means? Perhaps, but I think not. I think we would say that, in order to know what “red” means — in order to really have one’s mind around the concept “red” — one would need to know how to draw the correct and incorrect inferences. One would need to know that if something is red, then it is not green, or that if something is red, then it has a color. One would need, in short, a practical mastery of the relevant material inference rules for color terms. One would need to know “how to go on,” as Wittgenstein likes to put it, and sort the inferences into correct and incorrect types. That’s different from just being able to sort the objects under the right labels (“red” and “blue” or “triangular” or whatever).

    One interesting version of inferential semantics contends further that meaning is not just holistic but also strongly externalistic or communal. So, what a term means is not just up to the individual speaker.

    Now, philosophy of language is not my strongest suit, and I’m well aware that there are objections to semantic holism. The debates become very subtle, very quickly, and I have only recently begun to explore them.

    One problem with inferential semantics is that it seems to deny that non-linguistic animals have anything at all like meaningful thoughts or experiences, and that’s just daft. And in fact one of the things I’m working on “in real life” is a view about animal semantic content, and how it’s similar to and different from the semantic content of language-users.

    Lately I’ve been reading Paul Churchland’s stuff about “neurosemantics,” which strikes me as not real semantics but a sort-of-like semantics (though far preferable to Fodor’s language-of-thought). I don’t think that the brain is merely a syntactic engine — but it’s not a full-blown semantic engine, either! Humans and animals are semantic engines, not their brains (at least not their brains alone).

    Now, inferential semantics does commit me to the irreducibility of normativity to naturalism — as I’ve expressly avowed many times — and it’s the normativity that I really care about. My attitude is, if it turns out that normativity cannot be satisfactorily reconciled with naturalism, then so much the worse for naturalism. But my expectation is that a sufficiently deflationary and modest account of normativity can be reconciled with a sufficiently rich and complex account of nature. So the hard work lies in figuring out what is “sufficient”!

  174. But KN, that still does not tell me exactly how ‘you’ can know that words ‘mean’ anything. What is it in ‘you’ that is assigning transcendent meaning to squiggly lines on a piece of paper, or to waves of sound in the air, or to any particular arrangements of matter, or to any light traveling through the space. i.e. What is it in ‘you’ that is able to tell that the particular arrangement of matter and/or energy contains ‘transcendent’ information within it or on it? To say that the transient components which make up your material body assign transcendent meaning to words which is not reducible to matter/energy seems absurd in the highest degree,,, John Lennox does an excellent job of drawing this paradox for the naturalist out in this video:

    (Semiotics) Is There Evidence of Something Beyond Nature? John Lennox – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6rd4HEdffw

    as John Lennox stated in the last part of the video, because of the billions of letters on our DNA,,,

    “The beginnings of super-nature are already to be seen within you.”

    The Naturalist is simply at a complete loss to explain why this transcendent component is within us, much less how we can (begin to) understand this transcendent component. But the Theist has no such difficulty. We were made with a transcendent soul to deeply understand, and have a relationship with, a ‘transcendent’ reality more glorious than we can imagine right now in this temporal life:

    John 1:1-5
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

    Genesis 1:27
    So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

    Genesis 2:7
    And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

    Music:

    Majestic – Lincoln Brewster
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaLnEGzKo90

  175. 175
    Kantian Naturalist

    I don’t really understand what you’re asking me here, or challenging me to say, or whatever. There’s very little in (174) that makes sense to me.

    (I should immediately add that this is not because of BornAgain’s exposition, which is perfectly clear, but because of the vast difference between our respective views, and in particular, because of the vast difference between the version of naturalism I actually hold and the reductive, Epicurean naturalism that BornAgain thinks I hold, because on his conceptual map, that’s the only alternative to theism. I don’t just have a different view than he does — I have a different map of the possible views that one could have.)

    Now for the details: the starting-point of Bornagain’s (174) looks to me like a bit of “Humpty-Dumpty” reasoning. That’s what happens when you start off with one thing, and then split them up into two different things which are conceptualized as being so different from each other that it becomes a mystery as to how they are related to one another at all. “And then all the king’s horses, and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.”

    On my view, no one “assigns” meanings to the noises and marks, because the very distinction between “meanings” on the one hand, and “noises and marks” on the other, is reifying a somewhat helpful distinction into a completely useless dichotomy. To avoid doing that, avoid the illusion of mystery by paying careful attention to the phenomena — in this case, words-as-meaningful. And doing that, on the inferential holism that I favor, involves thinking about the rules or norms that constitute linguistic meaning. And those are fundamentally social: I do not “assign” “meanings” to “noises and marks” because I am not the sole inventor of the language I speak.

    (By the way: I tend not to watch videos of any sort, because I can absorb information much more quickly — and retain much more of it — by reading. So I’ll read articles, but videos are a waste of my time. No doubt others here find them useful. But, just thought you all should know that about me.)

  176. KN, the problem is simply this. As you stated previously:

    “‘I’ am my body”

    In that you hold that the ‘I’ of that statement is co-terminus with your body and that there is nothing transcendent within your body that lives past the death of your body. i.e. you do not believe that ‘You’ are a soul. I’ve already pointed out the argument from divisibility that refutes your position (JP Moreland; Hemispherectomies). But to focus in more on the topic at hand,,, Information is transcendent:

    “One of the things I do in my classes, to get this idea across to students, is I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software, and the other one is blank. And I ask them, ‘what is the difference in mass between these two computer disks, as a result of the difference in the information content that they posses’? And of course the answer is, ‘Zero! None! There is no difference as a result of the information. And that’s because information is a mass-less quantity. Now, if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation account for its origin? How can any material cause explain it’s origin?
    And this is the real and fundamental problem that the presence of information in biology has posed. It creates a fundamental challenge to the materialistic, evolutionary scenarios because information is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce.
    In the nineteenth century we thought that there were two fundamental entities in science; matter, and energy. At the beginning of the twenty first century, we now recognize that there’s a third fundamental entity; and its ‘information’. It’s not reducible to matter. It’s not reducible to energy. But it’s still a very important thing that is real; we buy it, we sell it, we send it down wires.
    Now, what do we make of the fact, that information is present at the very root of all biological function? In biology, we have matter, we have energy, but we also have this third, very important entity; information. I think the biology of the information age, poses a fundamental challenge to any materialistic approach to the origin of life.”
    -Dr. Stephen C. Meyer earned his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of science from Cambridge University for a dissertation on the history of origin-of-life biology and the methodology of the historical sciences.

    Yet our material bodies are transient and disintegrate fairly rapidly upon the death of our bodies:

    The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings – Steve Talbott
    Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary.,,,
    ,,,Rather than becoming progressively disordered in their mutual relations (as indeed happens after death, when the whole dissolves into separate fragments), the processes hold together in a larger unity.
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-of-beings

    Thus how is it that the transient, “I’ am my body!”, can apprehend the transcendent meaning of information? Exactly what gives my material body a subjective ‘separate’ experience in which I can introspect?

    Self-awareness in humans is more complex, diffuse than previously thought – August 22, 2012
    Excerpt: “What this research clearly shows is that self-awareness corresponds to a brain process that cannot be localized to a single region of the brain,”,,,
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/.....ously.html

    This is a much deeper problem than you either realize or that you are willing to let on. As far as empirics go, no one has been able to locate memories within our material bodies:

    A Reply to Shermer Medical Evidence for NDEs (Near Death Experiences) – Pim van Lommel
    Excerpt: For decades, extensive research has been done to localize memories (information) inside the brain, so far without success.,,,,So we need a functioning brain to receive our consciousness into our waking consciousness. And as soon as the function of brain has been lost, like in clinical death or in brain death, with iso-electricity on the EEG, memories and consciousness do still exist, but the reception ability is lost. People can experience their consciousness outside their body, with the possibility of perception out and above their body, with identity, and with heightened awareness, attention, well-structured thought processes, memories and emotions. And they also can experience their consciousness in a dimension where past, present and future exist at the same moment, without time and space, and can be experienced as soon as attention has been directed to it (life review and preview),,,
    http://www.nderf.org/vonlommel.....sponse.htm

    I know many others on UD can point this problem out much better that I, but in so far as I can effectively communicate the absurdity of your position, I find no warrant for your ‘soul-less’ naturalistic beliefs no matter how much word salad you dress them up to be with, just so to separate them from the dreaded Darwinian reductionist you pretend to be better than!

    Jerry Coyne, a Holy Warrior for Darwin – James Barham – April 20, 2012
    Excerpt: Darwinists deny the objective existence of purpose, value, and meaning.,,,, (Yet) everyday human life as we experience it is saturated with purpose, value, and meaning. Therefore, to ordinary people — as to most philosophers who have given the matter deep thought — the reductionist claims of the Darwinists are absurd on their face.
    In fact, they are self-contradictory, and just plain silly. Every word that comes out of Jerry Coyne’s mouth contradicts his official philosophy. Why? Because he presumably means something by what he says. Because he obviously values some things (Darwinism) and disvalues other things (religion). And because he manifestly has the purpose of convincing his readers that he is right and religious believers are wrong.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....58811.html

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