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L&FP 48c: Supplement, addressing the disappearance of core knowledge of first principles of right reason (aka Logic)


In the course of speaking to disappearance/restoration of moral knowledge, I realised that there was need to stop the rot on core right reason also. Accordingly, I commented at 153 in LF&P 48a, and as it is obviously logically prior, I now headline out of rough chronological order:

The issue of self-referential incoherence, regrettably, does not seem to move objectors anymore. That is strongly suggesting to me that we are seeing a SECOND “loss” of knowledge: logic in the historic sense, of first principles and practices of right reason.

In short, relativism spreads.

First, it attacks morality thus justice:

[ NB: Plato, The Laws, Bk X, c 360 BC, in the voice of Athenian Stranger: “[Thus, the Sophists and other opinion leaders etc c 430 BC on hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.” This IMPLIES the CR Thesis, by highlighting disputes (among an error-prone and quarrelsome race!), changing/varied opinions, suggesting that dominance of a view in a place/time is a matter of balance of factions/rulings, and denying that there is an intelligible, warranted natural law. He continues, “These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might . . . “]

Then, it goes for truth and reason, where untruth is the foundation of injustice.

We must never forget the pivotal moment when Pilate — about to knowingly condemn an innocent man to judicial murder then wash his hands of the affair, due to balance of power plays — says to him, “What is truth?”

For, Jesus had reached this point in his interrogation:

Jn 18:33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?”

35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?”

36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” [–> Notice, rejection of the appeal to the sword, cf. Peter and Malchus’ ear . . . he obviously tried to take off his head, but the High Priest’s servant ducked so he only got the ear, [his right one actually so I infer Peter had sword left side and tried to cross-draw and attack in one “back-hand” stroke].]

37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?”

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world— to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.

Our civilisation is at this point again, and we are dismissive of truth, right reason and moral government in accord with sound first principles.

At 155, I went on to detail:

>>And, what are legitimately, first principles of right reason . . . basic logic now clearly being implicated in the “disappearing” of knowledge.

I find what was likely a Rhetoric 101 example cited by Paul of Tarsus to deal with irrationalism, is a good place to begin, being a real life case in action that is more specific than Epictetus’ decades later exchange with the man who demanded that he prove that logic is necessary:

1 Cor 14:7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.

Even an objector, to make said objection intelligibly, must communicate. To do so, he or she will rely on distinct identity of phonemes, glyphs, sounds etc. Modern computer technology rests on the binary digit, 1/0, t/f, hi/lo etc based on distinct states. Music depends on tones. And so forth.

In short, the law of distinct identity is pervasive in rational thought and intelligible communication etc. It is indeed a branch on which we all sit, first law of thought. One, that carries with it as close corollaries, non-contradiction and excluded middle. For, contemplate a world W, in which there is A, a bright red ball on a table. We dichotomise, W = {A|~A}. No x in W can be A AND ~A, any y in W will be A or else — exclusive or — ~A not both or neither. A diagram would make this plain at once.

We have here the famed first three laws of thought, and note that the key is, distinct identity, once we may demark an A, then all else follows. And even those trying to develop a paraconsistent logic or the like or arguing over Quantum theory will be using distinct identity to communicate. (See here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZTJTfjYu1k on the principle of explosion. )

Going beyond, make explicit, concept of being, what is or is not, is possible or impossible. We may readily ask why and hope to have a reasonable answer. This is the weak, inquiry form principle of sufficient reason which leads to exploring logic of being and possible worlds, ways this or a world may be, as sufficiently described through a set of propositions. Above, we used the red ball on a table world, no need to explicitly describe a planet, sun, Jupiter, quasars etc.

We can then do a two-fold dichotomy creating a 2 x 2 matrix: a candidate B can be possible or impossible of being, and of possible beings, may be contingent [in at least one world and not in at least one world] or necessary [framework for any world to exist such as two-ness etc].

From such, we readily see as a fifth principle, cause and effect, principle of causality. That is, in a world W’, B is, but in a close neighbour W” it does not, e.g. a fire. The difference being cause.

And so forth.

Going further I would identify the seventeen laws of Boolean Algebra as first tautologies demonstrable from truth tables, etc.We can look at modal operators such as possible or necessary, and much more. S5 is famous.

Going back, we have Aristotle’s syllogisms and framework, which is rehabilitated once we reckon with existential import more in line with his thought and not C17 – 18 thinking. That is:

[Logicians should also note Terence Parsons’ rehabilitative argument here at SEP. It turns out that if we accept the natural language force of the A form [top left], All S is P — that S is non-empty, and render the O form [bottom right], as not every S is P (following Ackrill’s rendering of Aristotle in De Interpretatione 6–7 and with reference to Prior Analytics I.2, 25a.1–25 also) then the classical square of opposition is fully valid. As he goes on to observe: “On this view affirmatives have existential import, and negatives do not—a point that became elevated to a general principle in late medieval times.[6] The ancients thus did not see the incoherence of the square as formulated by Aristotle because there was no incoherence to see.”

The point is, there is no basis for undue suspicion regarding basic principles of right reason.>> END

PS, again, discussion continues in L&FP 48a.