Intelligent Design

Nihilism at TSZ

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Over at The Skeptical Zone Learned Hand (who goes by “Colin” there) has been psychoanalyzing me.  I’m a wall builder don’t you know:

I think one major motivator of the “you’re a liar!” style of debate they’ve adopted is community identification. I’ve been thinking of this as building a wall. The point of the conversation is largely, not entirely, to show that “we think like this:” and “they think like that:”, or more pointedly, “look how stupid and ugly they are.” It makes it very easy to avoid questioning beliefs, because we cling particularly to those notions that separate us from them. It identifies and strengthens the community of us by redefining it in opposition to the ugliness and stupidity of them. And once that wall is built, it’s extremely hard to dismantle. Why on earth would you stop and seriously consider something a stupid and dishonest person says? And what would it say about you if you agreed with them? The wall exists to separate.

LH has been drinking deeply from the postmodern Kool-Aid, and it has led him to say some staggeringly stupid things.  Remember, this is the guy who says he does not believe that the law of identity (A=A) is infallibly true.  I pointed out to him that such a claim is absurd, self-defeating and incoherent and only an idiot or a liar would assert it.  Instead of withdrawing his idiotic claim, he doubles down and asserts that the only reason I refuse to countenance it is because I want to build a wall to insulate myself from the those who don’t think like me so that I can “cling” to the notion that A always and without exception in all possible universes equals A.

It beggars belief.  I will not bother to defend the self-evident truth of the law of identity.  Why?  Robert L. Kocher tells us why:

It is a fact of life that you cannot win an argument with someone who is not sane. Sane bystanders may come to agree with your presentation, but you have no way of convincing someone who is not sane of anything. . . suppose that I say that the red pen I happen to have in my hand at this moment is a red pen. Further suppose that someone else says it is not a red pen, but is instead a flower pot, or a suitcase or a TV set. As a practical matter, I am unable to refute the assertion that what I am holding in my hand is not a flower pot. That does not mean that I’m incorrect when I say that it is a red pen. Nor does it mean that I am intellectually weaker than the other person who is arguing that it is not a red pen. Nor does it mean that his assertion that it is not a red pen is correct.

It means that I have no stronger argument than the red pen being in my hand. There is no stronger argument possible than the simple fact of the red pen being in my hand. No stronger refutation of the other person’s arguments is possible. At some point there must be agreement on what constitutes basic reality.

Similarly to Kocher’s red pen, I have no greater argument that A=A than the self-evident fact that A=A.

No, the purpose of this post is not to refute Learned Hand, because to any reasonable observer Learned Hand’s insanity is self-refuting.  Instead, I want to consider why anyone would say such an idiotic thing.  He must know he is making a fool of himself, right?  No actually; exactly the opposite is true.  Kocher again:

It has become common for people who routinely engage in chronic psychotic levels of denial to consider themselves as being mental powerhouses, and to be considered by others as being mental powerhouses, because no one can break through their irrationality. This is often supported by a self-referencing congratulatory inner voice which says, “(guffaw) He REALLY didn’t have an answer for that one!” And they are correct. He didn’t have an answer.

Far from acknowledging the manifest folly of his statements, LH revels in it.  Only wall building rubes like Barry believe that A=A is infallibly, necessarily true; hyper-sophisticated intellectuals like myself are not so narrow minded.

So why do people like LH make such staggeringly stupid, borderline psychotic claims?  Well, LH feels free to psychoanalyze me, and I will now return the favor.  LH rejects the concept of absolute and infallible truth, because absolute and infallible truth acts as a check on his autonomous will.  If A always equals A, then maybe, just maybe, it is also always evil to kill little boys and girls, chop them into pieces and sell the pieces.  I assure you that it is no coincidence that LH rejects both assertions.  Because the rejection of any potential limit on LH’s autonomous will drives the nihilistic antinomianism at the core of his worldview.

304 Replies to “Nihilism at TSZ

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Apparently it’s wrong to be a wall builder. That’s why “cell wall” is such a moral puzzle.

  2. 2
    goodusername says:

    If A always equals A, then maybe, just maybe, it is also always evil to kill little boys and girls, chop them into pieces and sell the pieces. I assure you that it is no coincidence that LH rejects both assertions.

    LH rejects that A always equals A? From what I’ve seen he seems to believe that A=A, but I may have missed something.

    UDEditors: Yes, you missed something.

  3. 3
    News says:

    Amateur psychoanalysis is worth what we generally pay for it.

    That’s because it’s the last defense of a person who has run out of ideas.

    A familiar tack is “You only say that because you are a …”

    The obvious purpose is to deflect attention from the evidence base, and to move the discussion to what is supposedly wrong with the other party – something that is not evident from the argument they’re making.

    Hey, I used to have this kind of discussion with people who were not paying their fees:

    Me: You owe the development $152.53

    She: You’re only coming after me because you are a bitch.

    Me: You still owe us $152.53

    She: Maybe your mother didn’t love you. …

    Me: You still owe us $152.53

    Don’t count on sticking to one’s story like that always working. But it is the most reliable approach in my experience.

    To say nothing of warding off a barrage of unqualified psychoblither.

  4. 4
    DillyGill says:

    I saw an interview with Neil de (whatever his name is) Tyson the other day. He was saying (roughly) “I like to be able to speak into a conversation something that is so fundamentally true that it is not open to anyone’s opinion”. All well and good if he is saying the pen is red, a bit different if he is saying I think we can murder people because the planet is overcrowded, lets start with the Christians they are clearly mental defectives and the gene pool needs cleaning up

    Life would be so much easier if they would just admit some of their arguments are weak or irrational however they still choose to believe them.

  5. 5
    Box says:

    Goodusername:
    LH rejects that A always equals A? From what I’ve seen he seems to believe that A=A, but I may have missed something.

    You’ve missed Insane Denial, Example 2,793.

  6. 6
    Virgil Cain says:

    LoL! The major motivator for calling someone a liar is to expose them as a liar. Evolutionists have to lie to try to defeat ID. They don’t have anything else.

  7. 7
    Learned Hand says:

    GUN,

    BA’s approach here is pretty reductionist. You’re either infallibly certain or you doubt, no middle ground. I can only report my own experience: I’ve never doubted that A=A in the real world, and I would never expect to find (nor can I conceive of) a counter-example.

    But to say that I’m infallibly certain would require taking the position that I’m infallible, and I can’t do that. Because I, like BA and SB, can’t come up with any logical reason that a fallible mind can be infallible. Any process of confirming such infallibility would be subject to error, and any process of controlling such error would be subject to error, ad infinitum. I can’t resolve that, and I’m unwilling to pretend that it doesn’t exist. My solution is to admit that I can’t be infallibly certain.

    BA’s solution is to build a wall. He does not want to confront this question, and why should he? It’s only relevant if he’s willing to scrutinize his own beliefs, and I don’t see any indication that he wants to do that. Indeed, the wall is there to make it easier to defend those beliefs against scrutiny. The more he emphasizes that it’s not only wrong, but stupid and dishonest and insane to doubt his infallibility, the more he separates us (those who believe BA can be infallible) from the them (the dumb, dirty, insane people).

    Once that dichotomy is firmly established, how can BA cross that line? The more he condemns the people who doubt him, the harder it becomes for him to doubt himself. At this point, to admit that his own infallibility is uncertain would be to admit that he was wrong–and that the dumb, dirty, insane people were right about something. Admitting error is hard enough, but the wall he’s building makes it damn near impossible.

    It also restricts criticism from inside the wall. I suspect that not every UD regular, even the creationists, would agree that BA is infallible. But can they openly doubt him? He’s defined the group of doubters on this point as stupid and dishonest and insane, remember–a clear signal that this shall not be disputed by those who wish to remain inside the wall. So the conversation dies, by design. And BA restricts external and internal criticism and doubt to the best of his ability; not even BA can easily climb the wall to question his own beliefs. This is how Uncommon Dissent handles dissent.

    I don’t mean that BA is the only person who builds walls! We all do it. I’m doing it by criticizing him. I think it’s incumbent on us to try to minimize the damage. Because it’s important to scrutinize one’s own beliefs.

    Consider the examples I posed to SB, for example, that he found it so urgently necessary to ignore. A couple of hundred years ago, even the most careful thinker would have found it amply justifiable to believe, absolutely, that something cannot be both a particle and a wave. It’s one or the other, A or B, not both: A can only be A, not also B. And if that person were BA, and built the walls BA built, he’d make it very difficult to ever question that seemingly self-evident belief.

    But that person would have been wrong. His perspective was limited, and he was unable to see that a photon can be wavelike and particlelike. That limitation wasn’t his fault–he couldn’t have predicted scientific advances in the future, or seen exceptions that don’t even exist on the human scale (as far as we know). But he could have examined his own beliefs. He could have asked, “How do I know I’m infallible?” And if he didn’t have an answer, he could have had the humility to say, “I’m not.”

    Seems like that humility should be particularly easy for a Christian, who can know if nothing else that God can deceive a man such that the man cannot pierce the deception. And that humans are fallible according to the word. But what do I know? I guess we have to leave the interpretation of religion up to the infallible among us.

  8. 8
    Learned Hand says:

    News,

    Sooner or later, no matter how much someone complains, the debt is owed. You characterize me as the complainer, but what have I withheld? I’ve explained my beliefs whenever asked.

    BA can’t quite bring himself to do that. Why are you infallible? You’re an idiot for doubting it. Why are you infallible, though? You’re a liar for doubting it. But why are you infallible? You’re insane for doubting it.

    Your example is telling. But who’s withholding an explanation, and using angry rhetoric to distract from that telling failure?

  9. 9
    goodusername says:

    box,

    You’ve missed Insane Denial, Example 2,793.

    I had seen that thread, and I looked it over again. But I’m not sure what you’re trying to direct me to there.

    UDEditors: Yes, you missed something.

    K, although whatever it is I’m missing directly contradicts everything I’ve seen from LH thus far.

  10. 10
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH

    BA’s approach here is pretty reductionist. You’re either infallibly certain or you doubt, no middle ground.

    Why yes, that is what those words mean. That LH wants to affirm that he has no doubt and yet is still not certain means that he is deeply confused.

    But to say that I’m infallibly certain would require taking the position that I’m infallible, and I can’t do that.

    LH again attempts to cloak his arrogance in humility.

    BA’s solution is to build a wall.

    If by “building a wall” you mean “distinguishing between idiotic statements and rational statements” then yes I do. Sadly LH is on the wrong side of that wall. Even more sadly, he is happy to be there.

    Once that dichotomy is firmly established, how can BA cross that line? The more he condemns the people who doubt him, the harder it becomes for him to doubt himself. At this point, to admit that his own infallibility is uncertain would be to admit that he was wrong–and that the dumb, dirty, insane people were right about something. Admitting error is hard enough, but the wall he’s building makes it damn near impossible.

    Dear readers, notice what LH has done here. He is saying that I am a morally reprehensible, divisive, intolerant wall builder for insisting that A=A is infallibly true. It is a disgusting rhetorical gambit, and he should be ashamed of himself. But he apparently has no shame.

    Let me tell you what is morally reprehensible LH. Your positon that it is not evil to kill little boys and girls, chop them into pieces an sell the pieces like so much meat in a market. And your assertion that A=A is not infallibly true is part and parcel of a mindset that allows you to also assert that killing little boys and girls is not evil.

    It also restricts criticism from inside the wall. I suspect that not every UD regular, even the creationists, would agree that BA is infallible.

    Again with the “BA says he is infallible” lie. I do not. It follows that LH’s argument based on that that premise is false.

    He’s defined the group of doubters on this point as stupid and dishonest and insane,

    Yes. Anyone who doubts that A=A is stupid, dishonest and/or insane.

    So the conversation dies, by design.

    Conversation? We cannot have a conversation about whether A=A is false any more than we can have a conversation about what a square circle would look like. The fact that you want to have such a conversation does not mean you are humble, or smart, or sophisticated. It means that Kocher was correct when he wrote:

    It has become common for people who routinely engage in chronic psychotic levels of denial to consider themselves as being mental powerhouses, and to be considered by others as being mental powerhouses, because no one can break through their irrationality. This is often supported by a self-referencing congratulatory inner voice which says, “(guffaw) He REALLY didn’t have an answer for that one!” And they are correct. He didn’t have an answer.

    Yep, you are right. I cannot argue for the proposition that A=A. Either you accept it as infallibly true or you don’t. But not accepting it as infallibley true does not mean you are smart or humble or sophisticated. It means you have drunk the postmodernist Kool-Aid and that has caused you to engage in psychotic levels of denial.

    Consider the examples I posed . .

    LH’s logic: A hundred years ago people made errors about physics. Therefore the laws of thought are up for grabs. Sigh.

    Seems like that humility should be particularly easy for a Christian, . . .

    Again, your rhetorical device is transparent and unseemly. Everyone sees what you are trying to do. You are trying to equate certainty about infallible truth with arrogance and uncertainty about infallible truth as humility. Just exactly the opposite is true. There are infallible self-evident truths, and I bow to them and accept them and the limits those truths place on the exertion of my autonomous will. You arrogantly assert there are no infallibly certain limits on your autonomous will and then pretend you are merely being humble. That sound you just heard is the needle on the irony meter breaking the stop.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    Let’s take it from the top.

    (I leave off the polarisation — we need to recognise that some things are indeed really certain and readily known as such to any intelligent person with a grade school education.)

    Let us take a few moments to see why the LOI and its close corollaries LNC and LEM are true, necessarily true and so on pain of patent absurdity, i.e. self evident. Lest they be lost under the clouds of confusion distraction and polarisation that are so evident above.

    Start with some distinct thing A in our world, W. (For concreteness, I often start from a bright red ball on a table.)

    This effects a dichotomisation:

    W = {A| ~A}

    Immediately A is itself, and not ~A. LOI.

    No x in the world van be both A and ~A. LNC.

    Likewise any x in the world will be in A XOR ~A. That is it will be in A or in ~A but not both or neither. LEM.

    To reject or distort these would be to create immediate chaos, and is a rejection of distinct identity.

    But just to comment here we depend on that distinct identity of symbols, and we cannot but acknowledge our own distinct identity.

    Some things are certain without further proof, other than that to deny is to descend immediately into absurdity.

    To pretend otherwise and to pretend that such is being nice and open-minded (unlike those nasty fundy black and white thinkers) is to be irrational.

    Literally, these are the core principles of right reason.

    To surrender such is to surrender reason.

    As the objectors — educated persons one and all — know or should know.

    (And BTW, when LH or GUN post objections the very text of the posts relies on just these laws of thought — they are inescapable. Also, the logical opposite of white is NOT-white, any shade of yellow, pink, green or purple will do, not just black.)

    When we see the onward debates — that is a sign in itself, debate is that wicked art that makes the worse appear the better case, being aided therein by rhetoric, the art of persuasion, not warrant or proof — that should be borne in mind.

    LOI, LNC and LEM are not on trial here, it is those who imagine they can object tot hem successfully and avoid absurdity.

    I add, the fact that highly educated people imagine they can get away with rhetorically dismissing such first principles or pretending that they are not as certain as they are, is itself a saddening sign of where our civilisation has reached.

    KF

  12. 12
    Learned Hand says:

    Lots of insults, lots of bitterness–and not a word about how a fallible person can know, infallibly, that their beliefs are not in error. The map is not the territory, BA. The question is not whether the abstract concept of A=A is infallibly true, but whether your belief that the concept is true is infallible. You do, in fact, arrogate the quality of infallibility to yourself: to do otherwise would be to admit that you could be wrong about whether A=A is always, perfectly true.

    And is it possible to be wrong about such beliefs? Sure! That’s the point of the photon example above. We could also point to people who believed, prior to quantum mechanics, that something can’t move from one point to a distant point without crossing space in between. Their beliefs were wrong because their perspective was limited–they could not see every possible case, because they were human beings, not gods.

    But look at the easy Olympus you’ve built for yourself: There are infallible truths. You know those truths infallibly. Therefore any who question your knowledge are scum. As long as you sustain that chain of belief, you never have to question yourself. How comforting! And how unfounded. Because how do you know that your own knowledge is infallible?

  13. 13
    Learned Hand says:

    LOI, LNC and LEM are not on trial here, it is those who imagine they can object tot hem successfully and avoid absurdity.

    They are very effective axioms. But they are axioms, not proven concepts–we assume they are true because we cannot imagine any way in which they could be false. But to say that our failure to imagine a counterexample means there cannot be a counterexample is to arrogate to ourselves infallibility. As with someone who claimed, in 1800, that obviously a particle cannot also be a wave. Sometimes we fail to imagine counterexamples because we are limited in our understanding and perspective.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    LH, we know all about the tactic of the red herring dragged across the issue, and led out to a suitably set up, loaded strawman that can be set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere. None of that is relevant. I draw your attention tot he issue on the table, that LOI, LNC and LEM are self evidently so and are first principles of reason so that to deny such or to ignore them is to become irrational. 2300 years after Aristotle et al drew our attention to these hitherto latent principles, we should realise the matches those who would undermine our confidence in them are playing with. KF

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    LH, axioms are not to be equated to arbitrary assumptions to be taken up and discarded at pleasure — more ot he point at caprice, at will, as in will to raw power, might makes right, truth, sense etc, which is absurd on its face.. In certain cases, they are self-evident truths, and this is one such. Once we recognise distinct identity LOI, LNC and LEM are instantly at work. And yes, of course they are not subject to further proof or warrant, they are embedded in any act of warrant or proof we can undertake. We cannot but work with them, and we cannot bus =t see that hey are so, are necessarily so on pain of absurdity on denial, tantamount to denying distinct identity of things. KF

  16. 16
    Learned Hand says:

    LH, axioms are not to be equated to arbitrary assumptions to be taken up and discarded at pleasure

    I agree. “I have no good cause to discard this” is a very different position from “I am infallibly certain that I cannot be wrong that this is true in all possible cases.”

    And yes, of course they are not subject to further proof or warrant, they are embedded in any act of warrant or proof we can undertake. We cannot but work with them,

    I agree! They can’t be proven. They’re assumed. And we make that assumption because it works–even because in our experience it’s necessary. Of course, as humans, our experience is limited.

    we cannot bus =t see that hey are so, are necessarily so on pain of absurdity on denial, tantamount to denying distinct identity of things

    And here you’re jumping out into the ether. Bear in mind I’ve never denied that A always = A in my experience. I only say that my experience, like yours, is limited. I can’t be infallibly certain that there isn’t a counter-example out beyond the scope of my understanding … just like those people who denied, with perfect certainty, that a particle can be a wave.

  17. 17
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    Just like those people who denied, with perfect certainty, that a particle can be a wave

    You do not understand the difference between analytic propositions and synthetic propositions. How do I know? Because you keep comparing a synthetic proposition about waves and particles to an analytic proposition [A=A]. Apples and oranges. Until you understand the difference, you will continue to be hopelessly confused. Try Wikipedia. It has a fairly good article on the subject.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    LH, I have no cause to discard this in this case connected to self evidence. Without distinct identity we can neither think coherently nor communicate clearly. Indeed both this and your communications implicitly pivot on distinct identity. Where, once the world partition is on the table, we see that A is distinct from ~A, and A is A. It cannot but be so, and to pretend instead that A = ~A is to surrender distinction, rational thought and communication. To see that try to reply to this comment without distinguishing it from what is not this comment, and without using distinct symbols, thoughts and concepts. It cannot be done, the attempt would be absurd. That is part of the context of self-evidence. KF

  19. 19
    Mung says:

    Is it now a requirement to replace “certain” with absolute certainty?

    What is absolute certainty and how does it differ from being certain? Absolute certainty is 100% certainty with zero percent chance of error and certainty is like 99% certain with 1% chance of error?

    and doubt? where does that fit?

  20. 20
    Learned Hand says:

    Why BA, that looked almost like an argument–but not quite. Are you asserting that you are infallible only when it comes to analytic propositions? That still leaves unresolved how you know that you are infallible.

    (ETA, for clarity: Why does the distinction matter to this discussion? Is it because it affects the determination of where you are and are not infallible?)

  21. 21
    Learned Hand says:

    Without distinct identity we can neither think coherently nor communicate clearly.

    In other words, it works. Agreed! And it’s why in practice I never doubt that 2+2=4. But the fact that it works for human purposes, on a human scale, doesn’t mean that it’s logically, perfectly true in all possible cases. Axioms are axioms–we assume them, we build on them, and we rely on them. But we don’t prove them. “I believe it, and I cannot be wrong!” is a long way from, “It works, so we can and will rely upon it.”

    Mung,

    What is absolute certainty and how does it differ from being certain? Absolute certainty is 100% certainty with zero percent chance of error and certainty is like 99% certain with 1% chance of error?

    and doubt? where does that fit?

    I distinguish between practical certainty (A has always equaled A, the sun has always risen, etc.) and perfect, logical certainty (there is no case in which A cannot equal A, there is no way for a particle to also be a wave). Both can be in error, and I know of no way to exclude error perfectly, since ultimately we have only our own minds and perceptions with which to access reality and we know both can be in error.

    And I distinguish between cases in which doubt is possible and where doubt is impossible. In the former, we may or may not actually doubt, but it’s possible. I don’t doubt that the sun will rise tomorrow, but it’s not perfectly certain that it will. In the latter, well, I don’t think we can ever escape the possibility of doubt, because again, we are not perfect and cannot perfectly isolate the possibility of error.

    BA seems to disagree. There are questions for which he has answers. A=A, abortion is wrong. Doubt is impossible. And for him to have misidentified the questions in that set is impossible.

    He just can’t seem to articulate how he knows that. Or how he discerns between those questions about which error is possible, and those about which error is impossible, without error. It’s not intuition, it’s not education, it’s not acculturation, it’s some extra sense that is infallible, and he knows it’s infallible because…

    I don’t know what goes behind those ellipses. “Shut up, idiot” seems to be the closest we’ve come to an answer.

  22. 22
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    Are you asserting that you are infallible only when it comes to analytic propositions?

    That you would ask such a question betrays your ignorance about what an analytic proposition is. Go study and come back when you think you can keep up.

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    LH, you have been present when self evidence has been explained and demonstrated per various examples. As you know or full well should know but find rhetorically inconvenient, the LOI, LNC and LEM are self evident. No person of reasonable education can but know this on reasonable inspection. These principles are not on trial, our willingness to be led by the first principles of right reason is. On fair comment, from what I have seen, while I would prefer a reduction of voltage all around, I would be remiss if I did not note that resistance, sarcasm, projections and the like do not commend you before that bar. KF

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    LH: Per the issues involved the LOI, LNC and LEM will always work in any possible world. As WAC 38 shows, these laws are directly relevant to quantum theory despite woolly minded remarks that have been made to the contrary, just start with the acts of observation and measurement and linked analysis from the proverbial chalk-board on. KF

    PS: I clip on the key discoveries:

    at each stage, the scientists were comparing observations with what the classical theory predicted, and were implicitly assuming that if the theory, T, predicted observations, O, but we saw NOT-O instead, then T was wrong.

    Q: Why is that?

    A: Because they respected the logical law of identity [LOI], and its travelling companions, the law of non-contradiction [LNC] and the excluded middle [LEM]. If a scientific theory T is consistent with and predicts observations O, but we see the denial of O, i.e. NOT-O, O is first seen as distinct and recognisably different from NOT-O [LOI]. The physicists also saw that O and NOT-O cannot both be so in the same sense and circumstances [LNC], and they realised that once O is a distinct phenomenon they would see O or NOT-O, not both or something else [LEM]. (Where also, superposition is not a blending of logical opposites, but an interaction between contributing parents, say P and Q to get a composite result, say R; as we can see with standing waves on a string or a ripple tank’s interference pattern.) Going further, when such scientists scratched out their equations and derivations on their proverbial chalk boards, they were using distinct symbols, and were reasoning step by step on these same three laws. In short, the heart of the scientific method inescapably and deeply embeds the classic laws of thought. You cannot do science, including Quantum Theory science, without basing your work on the laws of thought. So, it is self-refuting and absurd to suggest that Quantum Theory results can or do undermine these laws of thought.

    In short, to then suggest that empirical discoveries or theoretical analysis now overturns the basic laws of thought, is to saw off the branch on which science must sit, if it is to be a rational enterprise at all. And, while it is easy to get lost in the thickets of quantum weirdness, if we trace carefully, we will always see this.

  25. 25
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    [BA] just can’t seem to articulate how he knows that [A=A].

    And you can’t seem to stop confirming Kocher:

    It has become common for people who routinely engage in chronic psychotic levels of denial to consider themselves as being mental powerhouses, and to be considered by others as being mental powerhouses, because no one can break through their irrationality. This is often supported by a self-referencing congratulatory inner voice which says, “(guffaw) He REALLY didn’t have an answer for that one!” And they are correct. He didn’t have an answer

    .

    You are right. There is absolutely no support for the proposition that A=A that is more fundamental than A=A. But it is a mystery why you think that helps your case instead of making you look psychotic.

  26. 26
    Learned Hand says:

    That you would ask such a question betrays your ignorance about what an analytic proposition is. Go study and come back when you think you can keep up.

    That’s an insult, not an argument or an answer. Great for wall-building, not so great for establishing that you are, in fact, able to substantiate your infallibility.

    Maybe you missed my edit above. Why is the distinction relevant to this discussion? Is it relevant to your case for infallibility, or was it just meant to suggest that there is a case lurking somewhere under the stream of invective?

  27. 27
    Learned Hand says:

    LH:

    [BA] just can’t seem to articulate how he knows that [A=A].

    You are right. There is absolutely no support for the proposition that A=A that is more fundamental than A=A. But it is a mystery why you think that helps your case instead of making you look psychotic.

    But as I’ve said, the question isn’t whether A=A. The question is how you know you cannot be in error. And, the more challenging question, how do you discriminate between [BA’s beliefs that might be wrong] and [BA’s statements that are infallible]?

    Insults and invective are the only response on offer. What about an argument?

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    LH,

    Let’s pause again a moment and look at the facts on the table.

    We have something with distinct identity — say a bright red ball on a table — we label A.

    This effects, automatically, a world partition:

    W = {A|~A}

    Now, consider A = A vs A = ~A

    The first, in words is, A is itself, i.e. we simply recognise the fact.

    The second denies the fact that is where the process started, the distinct recognised identity of A.

    Refusal to recognise distinct identity is irrational, and for all the fancy dress of clever words will often be a stubborn refusal to acknowledge unwelcome truth. Capital case in point, Lincoln’s if someone says the tail of a sheep is a leg then a sheep has five legs. And, often, how dare you challenge me.

    Case in point, the ongoing abortion holocaust now multiplied by the selling of parts of the slaughtered children.

    But in fact by its nature a tail is not and cannot be a leg, it has a distinct, separate nature and identity. It just is not and cannot be a leg.

    That speaks to ever so many agendas we see today that boil down to the falsehood, chaos and nihilism, might and manipulation “make” truth, right, etc.

    Only, they don’t and cannot.

    And, those who try this tactic thereby show how ruinous and foolish they are for our civilisation.

    Rhetorical game over.

    KF

  29. 29
    Learned Hand says:

    KF,

    We have something with distinct identity — say a bright red ball on a table — we label A.

    Zachriel had an interesting point on this at ATBC; I commend it to you.

    My own response is that you’ve established that there is a case for which A=A. That’s a waste of effort—we already agreed not only that A=A in the case of your ball, but that A=A for all cases of which I am aware or could imagine.

    Is my imagination infallible? It is not. Is my perspective god-like and all-encompassing? It is not. I cannot say that this principle is absolutely true in all possible cases, because I cannot predict or conceive of all possible cases.

    The principle works, and we can’t identify any case in which it doesn’t. That’s a good reason to proceed as if it’s true. But we are all operating with fallible tools from a limited perspective, which is why we say these are axioms, not proven to be true in all possible cases.

    It’s problematic enough when we limit the example to A=A. But BA’s position is that there’s a set of such principles, extending up into complex moral assertions: abortion is always wrong. How does he determine whether a question falls into the set of perfect truths? Shut up, you liar. How do we know the answers to such questions are infallibly correct? You’re a nihilistic dummy for even asking. There just don’t seem to be any answers.

    And without those answers, what’s our warrant for saying that a principle is unquestionably true, as opposed to simply being one we don’t have good cause to doubt?

    Maybe you can answer the question. How do we determine whether a given truth is self-evident and/or unquestionable? If we accept, as BA shouts, that 2+2=4 is such, then what is the smallest value of n for which n+n=2n is not a self-evident truth? (Be aware of the complication here: BA and SB have taken the position that not all additions qualify. And won’t it be awkward if your notions of how to identify self-evident truths give different answers than theirs?)

  30. 30
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH

    Insults and invective are the only response on offer.

    Yes, that is true. I agree with Avicenna, a Persian philosopher, who said, “Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned.”

    The law of identity, which you deny, is even more basic than the law of noncontradiction.

    LH, you don’t get an argument that we have infallible knowledge that the law of identity is true. As I have told you many times, no such argument is possible. Instead, your attack on the very foundation of reason itself deserves nothing but derision, mocking and shaming.

    I know you can do better. Please try.

  31. 31
    Learned Hand says:

    The law of identity, which you deny, is even more basic than the law of noncontradiction.

    Nope–the harder you reach to justify your irascible rudeness, the further you get from any kind of cogent argument. I don’t deny the law of identity. I assume it as an axiom. What I deny is that it is more than an axiom–that it is a proven concept rather than one we assume is true.

    LH, you don’t get an argument that we have infallible knowledge that the law of identity is true. As I have told you many times, no such argument is possible. Instead, your attack on the very foundation of reason itself deserves nothing but derision, mocking and shaming.

    For the same reason, this is wrong. We can reason just fine taking the LOI as an axiom, without capering about and pronouncing ourselves infallible. The danger in doing that is that people are inclined, as you’ve done, to take their presumed infallibility and extend it to much grander pronouncements.

    I deny that you are infallible. A position you yourself seem reluctant to admit is your own, given your quibbling about it above: Again with the “BA says he is infallible” lie. I do not.

    BA, if you don’t think you’re infallible, how can you say that you know things that cannot be doubted? If you aren’t infallible, you could be in error about them. If you are infallible, how do you know?

    I think, instead of an answer or an argument, I’ll get insulted again. Which is its own kind of answer. You don’t know how to support the position you’ve built for yourself, in which your perceptions must be infallible but you cannot openly claim to be infallible. But having built the wall, you won’t permit a serious conversation to breach it. So it’s insult, insult, insult, clawing at citations to Lewis or Avicenna or whoever justify your inability to support your position.

    But it doesn’t matter what Avicenna said. It matters what you say. And you can’t find anything to say that supports your argument. What does that say about the argument?

    How do you know that you’re infallible, BA? And how can you tell where that infallibility starts and stops?

  32. 32
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    I don’t deny the law of identity.

    Of course you do. To say that it is not infallibly true is to say that perhaps it is not true. And that is to deny it.

    And we all know why you deny it. You want everything to be grey. And we know why you want everything to be grey. You do not want any hint of a check on your autonomous will. For example, you refuse to say that killing little boys and girls, chopping their bodies into pieces, and selling the pieces like meat is evil. And that makes you evil. That is not an insult. It is an observation.

  33. 33
    goodusername says:

    To say that it is not infallibly true is to say that perhaps it is not true. And that is to deny it.

    … wow

  34. 34
    Barry Arrington says:

    Yes, goodusername, “wow” is a good word for it. If the law of identify is up for grabs, reason itself is impossible.

  35. 35
    RDM says:

    If I may interject for one moment…

    I think we are all missing the great gift that Learned Hand is providing us with: namely, a devastating pre-suppositional-type argument against naturalism (materialism).

    Consider:

    1) As per Learned Hand, on naturalism and the Blind-Watchmaker Darwinism that naturally accompanies it, we must have at least some doubt that A equals A. (And I agree…after all, I would doubt anything that a mere primate’s mind, build from an a-rational, mindless, and blind source, came to believe.)
    2) But it is the height of absurdity to have any doubt about the fact that A equals A.
    3) Therefore, naturalism is absurd.

    Note that the traditional theist does not have the same problem at all: after all, an infallible and omnipotent mind could, by definition, provide infallible and certain knowledge to a fallible mind, even if we don’t understand how this could be. So the theist can easily and comfortably ground his certainty about the Law of Identity.

    And so, our very certainty about the Law of Identity is evidence against naturalism and for theism.

    Note, furthermore, that a person cannot be uncertain about the Law of Identity and the Laws of Logic. Why? Because the idea of ‘uncertainty’ is a type of thing. Therefore, if I am uncertain about the Law of Identity, then I am uncertain about whether my uncertainty is actually uncertainty. But that means my uncertainty could actually be certainty. So if I am certain about the Law of Identity, I am certain about it. But if I am uncertain about the Law of Identity, then I cannot actually be uncertain about it, because that uncertainty could actually be certainty. So the minute I am uncertain about the Law of Identity, I have to stop being uncertain about it, because I have no way of knowing if that uncertainty is actually uncertainty or if it is actually certainty. In essence, I have to be uncertain of my uncertainty. And then uncertain of that uncertainty, and so on endlessly. And so, while I can be coherently certain about the Law of Identity, I can never be coherently uncertain about it. And so, I cannot be uncertain about it.

  36. 36
    HeKS says:

    Learned Hand,

    There’s a really bizarre kind of irony taking place here.

    The Laws of Identity, Non Contradiction, and the Excluded Middle are fundamental rules of logic itself. Without them, we cannot reason. Reason and argument simply becomes impossible, as does any kind of coherent meaning.

    And yet, here you are attempting to ARGUE that it could be possible for these fundamental rules of logic to be false and you are trying to make a DISTINCTION between axioms that merely work and propositions that are self-evident and necessarily (even infallibly) true.

    Don’t you see that if those basic rules of logic could be false then your very argument becomes meaningless, as we lose any basis for insisting that the one option (“axioms that work but may be false”) is not actually identical to the other option (“propositions that are self-evident and necessarily true”)?

    It’s hard to see how your argument could be any more self-defeating. If you allow that the basic laws of logic and right thinking could even possibly be wrong, you utterly destabilize all reason and logic, because we have no possible way to know or find out that they either are or are not wrong, and so literally everything – every possible proposition or conclusion – becomes thoroughly and hopelessly suspect … like the conclusion of a deductive argument in which all premises could just as easily be false as true. The conclusion of such an argument could not be held with any certainty at all, and if the necessity of the basic rules of logic are denied, the same happens to every conceivable proposition.

  37. 37
    Popperian says:

    Again, I would point out that Barry is making things more complex than they need to be. What Barry calls self-evident truths are simply extremely hard to vary explanations that we have no criticism of.

    What Barry wants is some special privileged category of ideas that are infallible and somehow immune from criticism. But that is arbitrary, unnecessary and overly complicated.

    From another thread..

    Barry:

    In the sense we are using it, “self-evident” is not a synonym for “apparent.” Instead, a self-evident proposition is defined as a proposition that is known to be true merely by understanding its meaning without proof.

    First, I’m not sure what you’re referring to when you say “understanding its meaning” and “known to be true”. Can you elaborate this? For example, how do you known when you “understand somethings meaning”?

    This seems equivalent to “know its true nature or purpose” which itself would be a question of truth. For example, one might say once they understand that the ultimate purpose of marriage is to join a man and a woman, then it is self-evident marriage is between a man and a woman. Is that what you’re suggesting? But how do you know the ultimate nature of something? Furthermore, this suggests it is marriages “man-ness and woman-ness” that makes it a marriage. That’s essentialism.

    Second, as you pointed out, sometimes things are simple. What you call self-evident truths are just ideas that are very hard to vary, and which we lack good criticism of. For example what would evidence that 2 + 2 = 4 look like?

    Imagine someone with a box containing two cupcakes adds two more cupcakes but does not end up with four. This scenario indicates that one of our assumptions are incorrect. The question is, which one and why? You will decide it is the the box of cupcakes system does not model two, four and addition. And you will have done so after comparing the two assumptions against each other.

    What would a good explanation that 2 + 2 does not equal 4 look like? I can’t think of one. Why can’t I? Because the theory that 2 + 2 equals 4, in reality, is extremely hard to vary without significantly reducing its ability to explain what it purports to explain. Go ahead, try to think of one. This property of being “hard to vary” is why mathematicians mistake it for being self-evident or directly intuited. It is indeed my opinion that 2+2 really does equal 4, so I’m not expecting to find a contrary theory that is nearly as good as an explanation. But this isn’t to say that such an explanation could not exist. For example, the hard science fiction book “Dark Integers” explores this very possibility, but for only very large integers.

    So, I would say there are no special cases of “self-evident” truth. Rather, there are explantations that are harder to vary than others. Comparing them is what we do in practice.

    Barry:

    Another way of looking at it is that I know for an absolute certain fact that the proposition “2+2 is not 4” is absurd in the sense that it cannot possibly be true, and in order to accept it as true I would have to reject rationality itself.

    If 2 + 2 = 4 really is false, this would imply the operation of laws of physics that would directly interfere with the creation of knowledge in ways we would consider malevolent. Specifically, you’d end up with very bad explanations something along the lines of “there really is no such entity as the number 4 because the proofs of mathematics are profoundly inconsistent and we do not notice because there are laws of physics that act on the neurons in our brains that cause us to unconsciously fill in the gaps in a way that allow us to ignore the physical absence of such entity.”

    So, it’s not that we can be absolutely certain that 2 + 2 = 4, but any explanation for why it would be false would itself be a bad explanation. We simply lack a good explanation as to why it would be false.

    Again, sometimes it’s simple. You’re making it complicated.

  38. 38
    Popperian says:

    It’s hard to see how your argument could be any more self-defeating. If you allow that the basic laws of logic and right thinking could even possibly be wrong, you utterly destabilize all reason and logic, because we have no possible way to know or find out that they either are or are not wrong, and so literally everything – every possible proposition or conclusion – becomes thoroughly and hopelessly suspect … like the conclusion of a deductive argument in which all premises could just as easily be false as true. The conclusion of such an argument could not be held with any certainty at all, and if the necessity of the basic rules of logic are denied, the same happens to every conceivable proposition.

    You seem to have confused denying something and simply saying we have no good explanation as to why it would be false. Furthermore, your entire premise assumes that we start from foundations and work our way up instead of starting with conjectured guesses which we criticize. The latter is a philosophical view about knowledge.

    In fact, you’re presenting a false dichotomy in this sense, you are justifying Nihilism, which is the very thing you claim to reject.

  39. 39
    Barry Arrington says:

    Popperian

    If 2 + 2 = 4 really is false, this would imply the operation of laws of physics . . .

    Madness, sheer unmitigated imbecilic madness. God help us.

    Popperian, the truths of mathematics are necessary. The truths of physics are contingent. The difference, which seems to elude you, is critical.

  40. 40
    bornagain77 says:

    An interesting sidelight to this discussion on the law of identity is that J. Warner Wallace, author of the best selling book ‘Cold Case Christianity’, uses the law of identity to prove that the mind is not the same thing as the brain.

    How Consciousness Points to the Existence of God – J. Warner Wallace – video – Sept. 2015
    (5 attributes of mind that are distinct from brain therefore the mind is not the brain)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ff1jiRpjko
    podcast – How Consciousness Points to the Existence of God – Sept. 2015
    http://coldcasechristianity.co.....adcast-42/

    Six reasons why you should believe in non-physical minds – 01/30/2014
    1) First-person access to mental properties
    2) Our experience of consciousness implies that we are not our bodies
    3) Persistent self-identity through time
    4) Mental properties cannot be measured like physical objects
    5) Intentionality or About-ness
    6) Free will and personal responsibility
    http://winteryknight.com/2014/.....cal-minds/

    Michael Egnor, professor of neurosurgery at SUNY, Stony Brook, states the irreconcilable properties of mind to brain, via the law of identity, as such:

    The Mind and Materialist Superstition – Michael Egnor – 2008
    Six “conditions of mind” that are irreconcilable with materialism: –
    Excerpt: Intentionality,,, Qualia,,, Persistence of Self-Identity,,, Restricted Access,,, Incorrigibility,,, Free Will,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....super.html

    Of related note, Alvin Plantinga humorously uses the fact that we can doubt the existence of our bodies, but not the existence of our minds, by imagining he has a ‘beetle body’, to highlight the fact, sans the ‘law of identity’, that the mind is not the same thing as the brain.

    Alvin Plantinga and the Modal Argument (for the existence of the mind/soul) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOTn_wRwDE0

    Moreover, the law of identity problem, in regards the mind and brain not being identical, becomes even worse for the atheist.
    At 37:51 minute mark of following video, according to the law of identity, Richard Dawkins does not exist as a person: (the unity of Aristotelian Form is also discussed) i.e. ironically, in atheists denying that God really exists, they end up denying that they themselves really exist as real persons.

    Atheistic Materialism – Does Richard Dawkins Exist? – video
    Quote: “It turns out that if every part of you, down to sub-atomic parts, are still what they were when they weren’t in you, in other words every ion,,, every single atom that was in the universe,, that has now become part of your living body, is still what is was originally. It hasn’t undergone what metaphysicians call a ‘substantial change’. So you aren’t Richard Dawkins. You are just carbon and neon and sulfur and oxygen and all these individual atoms still.
    You can spout a philosophy that says scientific materialism, but there aren’t any scientific materialists to pronounce it.,,, That’s why I think they find it kind of embarrassing to talk that way. Nobody wants to stand up there and say, “You know, I’m not really here”.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVCnzq2yTCg&t=37m51s

    And in the following article you can see that hesitancy on the part of atheists to openly talk about this glaring ‘you are an illusion’ hole in their worldview.
    In the following article, after playing some heavy politics, Richards Dawkins finally admits to this devastating inconsistency in his materialistic worldview:

    Who wrote Richard Dawkins’s new book? – October 28, 2006
    Excerpt: Dawkins: What I do know is that what it feels like to me, and I think to all of us, we don’t feel determined. We feel like blaming people for what they do or giving people the credit for what they do. We feel like admiring people for what they do.,,,
    Manzari: But do you personally see that as an inconsistency in your views?
    Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable.,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....02783.html

    At the 23:33 minute mark of the following video, Richard Dawkins coyly agrees with materialistic philosophers who say that:

    “consciousness is an illusion”

    A few minutes later Rowan Williams seizes the opportunity and asks Dawkins:

    ”If consciousness is an illusion…what isn’t?”
    Dawkins vs. Williams – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWN4cfh1Fac&t=22m57s

    Yet many atheists are more open than Dawkins appears to be and readily admit, for all to hear, that they believe they are merely illusions and that they do not really exist:

    There is only one sort of stuff, namely, matter-the physical stuff of physics, chemistry, and physiology-and the mind is somehow nothing but a physical phenomenon. In short, the mind is the brain.
    Daniel Dennett

    “that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.”
    Francis Crick – “The Astonishing Hypothesis” 1994

    “There is no self in, around, or as part of anyone’s body. There can’t be. So there really isn’t any enduring self that ever could wake up morning after morning worrying about why it should bother getting out of bed. The self is just another illusion, like the illusion that thought is about stuff or that we carry around plans and purposes that give meaning to what our body does.”
    – A.Rosenberg, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality, ch.10

    “What you’re doing is simply instantiating a self: the program run by your neurons which you feel is “you.””
    Jerry Coyne

  41. 41
    bornagain77 says:

    I like the succinct way that Douthat put the insanity of the atheist Jerry Coyne’s claim that he was an illusion:

    The Confidence of Jerry Coyne – January 6, 2014
    Excerpt: But then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant: But more on that below.) Prometheus cannot be at once unbound and unreal; the human will cannot be simultaneously triumphant and imaginary.
    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.c.....oyne/?_r=0

    Nancy Pearcey took a particular delight, in her recent book ‘Finding Truth’, in finding quotes from leading atheists in academia who readily admitted that they thought they were merely illusions and were not really real persons:

    Darwin’s Robots: When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails – Nancy Pearcey – April 23, 2015
    Excerpt: Even materialists often admit that, in practice, it is impossible for humans to live any other way. One philosopher jokes that if people deny free will, then when ordering at a restaurant they should say, “Just bring me whatever the laws of nature have determined I will get.”
    An especially clear example is Galen Strawson, a philosopher who states with great bravado, “The impossibility of free will … can be proved with complete certainty.” Yet in an interview, Strawson admits that, in practice, no one accepts his deterministic view. “To be honest, I can’t really accept it myself,” he says. “I can’t really live with this fact from day to day. Can you, really?”,,,
    In What Science Offers the Humanities, Edward Slingerland, identifies himself as an unabashed materialist and reductionist. Slingerland argues that Darwinian materialism leads logically to the conclusion that humans are robots — that our sense of having a will or self or consciousness is an illusion. Yet, he admits, it is an illusion we find impossible to shake. No one “can help acting like and at some level really feeling that he or she is free.” We are “constitutionally incapable of experiencing ourselves and other conspecifics [humans] as robots.”
    One section in his book is even titled “We Are Robots Designed Not to Believe That We Are Robots.”,,,
    When I teach these concepts in the classroom, an example my students find especially poignant is Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT. Brooks writes that a human being is nothing but a machine — a “big bag of skin full of biomolecules” interacting by the laws of physics and chemistry. In ordinary life, of course, it is difficult to actually see people that way. But, he says, “When I look at my children, I can, when I force myself, … see that they are machines.”
    Is that how he treats them, though? Of course not: “That is not how I treat them…. I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis.” Certainly if what counts as “rational” is a materialist worldview in which humans are machines, then loving your children is irrational. It has no basis
    within Brooks’s worldview. It sticks out of his box.
    How does he reconcile such a heart-wrenching cognitive dissonance? He doesn’t. Brooks ends by saying, “I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs.” He has given up on any attempt to reconcile his theory with his experience. He has abandoned all hope for a unified, logically consistent worldview.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95451.html

    And thus that is what you ultimately get when you deny the law of identity as it relates to properties of mind compared to properties of brain.
    You end up denying the most sure thing that you can possibly know about the world.
    Namely, you end up denying the fact that you really do exist as a real person, i.e. denying your own ‘personal identity’, and end up saying, with a straight face for all the world to hear, “I am a illusion”.

    David Chalmers on Consciousness (Philosophical Zombies and the Hard Problem) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK1Yo6VbRoo

    All this “I am a illusion” stuff of atheists would be extremely funny but for the consequences involved in denying that you really are a person, i.e. a ‘soul’.

    Simply put, the person forsaking their soul, and thus forsaking God, risk being separated from God for eternity:

    Verse, Quote, and Music:

    Mark 8:36-37
    “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

    “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
    George MacDonald – Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood – 1892

    The Allman Brothers Band – Soulshine – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L3BYTS8uxM

  42. 42
    Andre says:

    Learned Hand

    Your entire argument is this; “I know that I can’t know”

    How do you know that you can’t know?

  43. 43
    kairosfocus says:

    LH,

    If you have a point kindly make it here. That the Zachriel collective may say something at TSZ does not address the point at stake.

    Further to this, in order to speak at all about such, note how many ways you have depended on:

    I: Distinct, world-partitioning identity A such that W = {A|~A} — LOI

    II: Antithesis between distinct, identifiable things and what is not the said item so that no x in W is both A and ~A, LNC

    III: Sharp dichotomy so once we have a populated world, W any x in W is in A X-OR ~A, i.e. one or else the other but not both and not neither, LEM

    Where of course, we are drawing out what is implicit in the recognition or reality of distinct identity; this is not a proof that goes back of these laws.

    Indeed, as communication or thought in concepts or symbols or words depends critically on distinct identity — just think of the core sentence structure NOUN | VERB OBJECT — to try to articulate a proof of these laws that does not already implicitly use them is impossible, an absurdity on its face.

    The most we can do is point out the absurdities that stem from attempted denial.

    We are here dealing with the self-evident, foundational and pervasive. We simply cannot not use these things, or simply exhibit them by being in ourselves distinct beings, A point reflected in our having names.

    This is the real borg, except, we were long since absorbed and truly cannot escape.

    That is why the resistance to this is so futile and at the same time reflective of a fundamental irrationality that has haunted our civilisation for generations now.

    I have already pointed out that the claimed quantum level exceptions collapse. Let me clip UD WAC 38 again, to remind:

    . . . at each stage [of the origin and early development of Quantum Theory], the scientists were comparing observations with what the classical theory predicted, and were implicitly assuming that if the theory, T, predicted observations, O, but we saw NOT-O instead, then T was wrong.

    Q: Why is that?

    A: Because they respected the logical law of identity [LOI], and its travelling companions, the law of non-contradiction [LNC] and the excluded middle [LEM]. If a scientific theory T is consistent with and predicts observations O, but we see the denial of O, i.e. NOT-O, O is first seen as distinct and recognisably different from NOT-O [LOI]. The physicists also saw that O and NOT-O cannot both be so in the same sense and circumstances [LNC], and they realised that once O is a distinct phenomenon they would see O or NOT-O, not both or something else [LEM]. (Where also, superposition is not a blending of logical opposites, but an interaction between contributing parents, say P and Q to get a composite result, say R; as we can see with standing waves on a string or a ripple tank’s interference pattern.) Going further, when such scientists scratched out their equations and derivations on their proverbial chalk boards, they were using distinct symbols, and were reasoning step by step on these same three laws. In short, the heart of the scientific method inescapably and deeply embeds the classic laws of thought. You cannot do science, including Quantum Theory science, without basing your work on the laws of thought. So, it is self-refuting and absurd to suggest that Quantum Theory results can or do undermine these laws of thought.

    In short, to then suggest that empirical discoveries or theoretical analysis now overturns the basic laws of thought, is to saw off the branch on which science must sit, if it is to be a rational enterprise at all. And, while it is easy to get lost in the thickets of quantum weirdness, if we trace carefully, we will always see this.

    Foundational, self-evident, pervasive, inextricably intertwined and entangled with thought and actuality.

    Even Zadehan fuzzy sets with superposition or blending of characters depends on this: this process mix is 10% cold, 60% warm and 30% hot defines in context a distinct state, and is used to trigger a “crisp” distinctly identifiable control action.

    We are borg, we already absorbed you.

    KF

    PS: That error exists is self evidently undeniably true and constitutes a case of absolutely certain knowledge, as to attempt to deny it immediately shows that the set that collects errors is non-empty. Anything that denies the existence of truth, truth warranted to undeniable certainty, thus certain knowledge is overturned by direct counter example. Of course a most humbling counter, and one that gives the lie to the rhetorical projection that those who champion self-evident, certain, infallibly known truths are therefore intolerant theocratic, right-wing would be tyrants who imagine they have cornered the market on truth. If yardstick SET no 1 is that error exists, that instantly points to a need for recognition of that fact even though the declaration is itself utterly incorrigibly certain. Yet another reductio exists for those who imagine that everything is or must be uncertain . . . oops, are you CERTAIN of that?

    PPS: Note my longstanding, often referenced, discussion: http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....u2_bld_wvu

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, notice what is at stake here: the very first principles of right reason, or more properly, their acknowledgement. And notice who is on what side. KF

  45. 45
    Box says:

    Two side notes:

    A=A is a self-evident truth. No doubt about it. Assuming that in order to qualify as an “A” something must have a distinct identity of its own, it is not self-evidently true that a red balloon qualifies as an A. A red balloon might be something that is part of a larger whole. Its existence might be dependent on e.g. consciousness. IOW in the case of a red balloon we must doubt our ability to make an accurate distinction between A and ~A.

    “Harming little boys and girls is wrong” is a self-evident moral truth. No doubt about it. What is not self-evidently true is that this moral truth applies to abortion. For instance, it might be the case that the unborn human spirit enters the fetal body in the later stages of pregnancy, in which case an early abortion arguably doesn’t cause actual harm.

  46. 46
    bornagain77 says:

    Semi related to the depressing Nihilistic belief, i.e. life is meaningless belief, inherent to atheism:

    Stephen Colbert: Where faith, logic and humor meet
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5weP79J7bM&list=PLgoAlsvvzIyUl3wiVnjT_MRti6S-yz1hQ
    Stephen Colbert Opens Up About His Devout Christian Faith, Islam, Pope Francis, and More – Sept. 9, 2015
    In a surprisingly candid interview, the new Late Show host discussed the role his faith plays in his comedy, Charlie Hebdo, and what he’d ask Pope Francis.
    Excerpt: The extensive exclusive interview, which is at times hysterically funny and profoundly serious, airs in full on Rosica’s interview program Witness on September 13. The Daily Beast got a sneak preview.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/a.....-more.html

    supplemental note:

    Of snakebites and suicide – February 18, 2014
    RESULTS: Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....d-suicide/

  47. 47
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I cannot but comment on this:

    [LH, 20, to BA:] Are you asserting that you are infallible only when it comes to analytic propositions?

    I cannot but notice the personalisation and subtext of accusation.

    First, no sane human being claims infallibility, which does not prevent us from being demonstrably right on certain matters. Even, before we rise to the matter of self-evident truth.

    Second, the matter at stake is self-evident truths, to wit, such as:

    1: are understood to be so once one can correctly interpret what is stated (which is rooted in our experience of the world),

    2: are further seen to be necessarily so, bound up in that meaning (as opposed to being derived from other truths), and

    3: are seen as well to be necessarily true on pain of patent absurdity — such, being readily apparent to one able to understand what is meant — on their attempted denial.

    The infallibility, in short, lies in the truth and in its accurate and undeniable conformity to reality.

    But that does not prevent some from missing the truth.

    Some, lack the experience and understanding.

    Others, have been indoctrinated or led to believe what runs contrary to reality and can be induced to reject truth and cling to even patent absurdities . . . until intense pain and puzzlement may lead to reconsideration.

    Yet others compound such indoctrination with emotional and socio-political polarisation so that they will not listen to those who would correct them.

    Some such become so entrenched in absurdities that not even pain will lead them to re-think . . . a false blame-shifting narrative can almost always be composed.

    This thread and others on much the same topic, sadly, illustrate that pattern.

    And recall, what is being disputed by objectors here is the self evident nature of the first principles of right reason. A saddening and grimly diagnostic sign of how far gone our civilisation is.

    In the end, BA at 10, replying to the insinuation of arrogance for the thought crime of thinking LOI, LNC and LEM are self-evident, is right:

    your rhetorical device is transparent and unseemly. Everyone sees what you are trying to do. You are trying to equate certainty about infallible truth with arrogance and uncertainty about infallible truth as humility. Just exactly the opposite is true. There are infallible self-evident truths, and I bow to them and accept them and the limits those truths place on the exertion of my autonomous will. You arrogantly assert there are no infallibly certain limits on your autonomous will and then pretend you are merely being humble. That sound you just heard is the needle on the irony meter breaking the stop.

    Whom the gods would destroy, first they rob of reason.

    KF

  48. 48
    Starbuck says:

    it is also always evil to kill little boys and girls

    You might want to let your god know:

    Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.

    1 Samuel 15:3

  49. 49
    Popperian says:

    So then, Barry, how do you know? Explain how that works, in practice.

    If you really do know, then you should be able to explain how you know it. “Oh my God”, “I can’t believe he said that”, “All is lost”, etc. is not an explanation as to how you know.

    Do you have any real criticism of what I wrote beyond that?

  50. 50
    Aleta says:

    BA writes,

    Semi related to the depressing Nihilistic belief, i.e. life is meaningless belief, inherent to atheism:

    Nope, life is not meaningless, nor nihilistic, to an atheist.

    {/off-topic digression}

  51. 51
    Barry Arrington says:

    Popperian,

    Do you have any real criticism of what I wrote

    Other than it is utterly irrational? No.

  52. 52
    Box says:

    Barry:

    Similarly to Kocher’s red pen, I have no greater argument that A=A than the self-evident fact that A=A.
    (…) you don’t get an argument that we have infallible knowledge that the law of identity is true. As I have told you many times, no such argument is possible.

    Popperian:

    So then, Barry, how do you know?
    If you really do know, then you should be able to explain how you know it.

    Miss the point much, Popperian?

  53. 53
    drc466 says:

    LH et. al.,

    Barry’s point is that if your only response to “A=A is infallibly true” is “well, it’s possible that logic is completely, totally worthless at its most foundational level”, you’re basically saying that any and all further discussion of any topic anywhere is pointless.

    In the interest of not putting up a wall, let me allow you your assertion that no one can know infallibly that A=A. However, to accept the possibility that A=A is not infallible knowledge falls under the definition of insanity. So your response is basically “your point might not be true if all of human knowledge is founded on insanity”.

    Let it be noted that LH is proposing Universal Insanity as a counter-argument to the belief that murdering children is always wrong. And that if you don’t accept Universal Insanity as a possibility, you are a “wall-builder”.

    Let me propose, LH, that accepting Universal Insanity is pointless as it is both self-defeating and conversation-ending in all aspects. And that placing Universal Insanity behind a Wall for purposes of logical discussion is the only Sane position one can take. Which still puts your position that we cannot know infallibly that A=A on the Insane side of the argument.

  54. 54
    Popperian says:

    I’d also point out that Barry isn’t really disagreeing with me. Specially, he’s balking at the bad explanation I presented, which is what I’m suggesting that we do.

    Of course, he only wants to make me look “crazy” so he doesn’t actually quote what I wrote before or after it, in which I identify it as a bad explanation. In fact, he doesn’t even quote the bad explanation in it’s entirety. Go figure.

    So, again, it’s unclear if Barry has any criticism of what I actually wrote, other than “OMG those crazy atheists / materialists!”!

    Come on Barry, can’t you do better than that?

  55. 55
    Popperian says:

    As for A=A, Is God one person or three?

    Was Jesus 100% and 100% God? How does that work?

    IOW, Is this supposed to be a good explanation for why A doesn’t always equal A or why A ~ A?

  56. 56
    HeKS says:

    Hi Popperian,

    You seem to have confused denying something and simply saying we have no good explanation as to why it would be false.

    I’m familiar with your views on epistemology, but I haven’t confused anything. As I pointed out in my post, when it comes to the foundational laws of logic, you don’t need to outright deny that they are true in order to uproot reason. All you need to do is assert that we should operate under an ongoing doubt that they are true. In other words, all one needs to do to burn down the universe of reason is say, “I have no good explanation for why that fundamental rule of logic would be false, and I can’t conceive of any circumstance under which it might be false, but we should all continue to hold to the view that it could very well be false.” As soon as we adopt the ongoing position that the very basic principles of right reason may very well be wrong, we have necessarily abandoned the bonds of reason itself, and we give ourselves an excuse to deny any conclusion we don’t like, no matter how sound, on the grounds that logic and reason themselves may be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

    Furthermore, your entire premise assumes that we start from foundations and work our way up instead of starting with conjectured guesses which we criticize. The latter is a philosophical view about knowledge.

    No, you miss the point. You can attempt to criticize a foundational view and see whether or not you are able to do so successfully, but when you realize that you are not only unable to successfully criticize the proposition but that your very criticism becomes self-defeating, incoherent and absurd because it relies on the truth of the very thing you’re criticizing, then it becomes madness to hold to the position that the proposition ought to be viewed as being subject to ongoing doubt.

    In fact, you’re presenting a false dichotomy in this sense, you are justifying Nihilism, which is the very thing you claim to reject.

    No, I’m not presenting a false dichotomy. Nor am I justifying Nihilism. But I am pointing out that holding to the position that the basic rules of logic should be viewed as subject to ongoing doubt does lead to Nihilism. I reject Nihilism, just as I reject the position that I’m saying leads to it.

    Anyway, I just dropped in to make a brief comment on this issue because I found it so bizarre, but I’m swamped with work (as I have been for months, and hence my absence here), so I don’t know that I’ll have time for any further responses.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  57. 57
    bornagain77 says:

    Aleta claims,

    “Nope, life is not meaningless, nor nihilistic, to an atheist.”

    But alas, the evidence contradicts your denial of the nihilistic, life is meaningless, belief inherent to atheism. i.e. Numerous studies indicate that, across the board, atheists have a sadder life than theists. Thus while you may personally claim you are just as happy, or happier, than theists, the facts themselves don’t back up your claim for atheism across the board.
    I already listed the higher suicide stat for atheists, but here are a few more to go with it:

    Are Religious People Happier Than Atheists? – 2000
    Excerpt: there does indeed appear to be a link between religion and happiness. Several studies have been done, but to give an example, one study found that the more frequently people attended religious events, the happier they were; 47% of people who attended several types a week reported that they were ‘very happy’, as opposed to 28% who attended less than monthly.
    In practical terms, religious people have the upper hand on atheists in several other areas. They drink and smoke less, are less likely to abuse drugs, and they stay married longer. After a stressful event like bereavement, unemployment, or illness, those who worship don’t take it as hard and recover faster. All of the above are likely to be beneficial to a person’s happiness. Additionally, religious people, as a result of their beliefs, have a greater sense of meaning, purpose and hope in their lives.
    http://generallythinking.com/a.....-atheists/

    Are atheists mentally ill? – August 14th, 2013 – Sean Thomas
    Excerpt: “Let’s dispense with the crude metric of IQ and look at the actual lives led by atheists, and believers, and see how they measure up. In other words: let’s see who is living more intelligently. And guess what: it’s the believers. A vast body of research, amassed over recent decades, shows that religious belief is physically and psychologically beneficial – to a remarkable degree.,,,
    [I hope this next part doesn’t upset too many people, but…] the evidence today implies that atheism is a form of mental illness. And this is because science is showing that the human mind is hard-wired for faith… religious people have all their faculties intact, they are fully functioning humans. Therefore, being an atheist – lacking the vital faculty of faith – should be seen as an affliction, and a tragic deficiency: something akin to blindness. Which makes Richard Dawkins the intellectual equivalent of an amputee, furiously waving his stumps in the air, boasting that he has no hands.”
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/n.....tally-ill/

    Christians respond better to psychiatric treatment than atheists: – July 21, 2013
    Excerpt: “Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation. Belief was associated with not only improved psychological well-being, but decreases in depression and intention to self-harm,” explained Rosmarin.
    The study looked at 159 patients, recruited over a one-year period. Each participant was asked to gauge their belief in God as well as their expectations for treatment outcome and emotion regulation, each on a five-point scale. Levels of depression, well being, and self-harm were assessed at the beginning and end of their treatment program.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....are-crazy/

    Atheism and health
    A meta-analysis of all studies, both published and unpublished, relating to religious involvement and longevity was carried out in 2000. Forty-two studies were included, involving some 126,000 subjects. Active religious involvement increased the chance of living longer by some 29%, and participation in public religious practices, such as church attendance, increased the chance of living longer by 43%.[4][5]
    http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_health

    Andrew Sims, past president of Royal College of Psychiatrists, has said: “The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land (from Is Faith Delusion).”
    more
    In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction… We concluded that for the vast majority of people the apparent benefits of devout belief and practice probably outweigh the risks.
    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/201.....lains.html

    Is Christianity Evil? (Mental Benefits of Christianity – Meta-analysis, 8:24 minute mark) – 2014 video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=dgESPmh-TxY#t=504

    Gallup Poll of 676,000 shows the most religious Americans have highest well-being – February 2012
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ell-being/

    Christians happier than atheists – on Twitter – June 28 2013
    Excerpt: Two doctoral students in social psychology and an adviser analyzed the casual language of nearly 2 million tweets from more than 16,000 active users to come up with their findings, which were published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.
    The team identified subjects by finding Twitter users who followed the feeds of five prominent public figures. In the case of Christians, those select five were Pope Benedict XVI, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, conservative political commentator Dinesh D’Souza and Joyce Meyer, an evangelical author and speaker.
    In the case of atheists, the five followed feeds included Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Monica Salcedo and Michael Shermer – the latter two respectively being a self-described “fiercely outspoken atheist” blogger, and a science writer who founded The Skeptics Society.
    With the help of a text analysis program, the researchers found that Christians tweet with higher frequency words reflecting positive emotions,,,,
    Christians, they found, are more likely to use words like “love,” “happy” and “great”; “family,” “friend” and “team.”
    Atheists win when it comes to using words like “bad,” “wrong,” and “awful”,,,
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/.....n-twitter/

    Of supplemental note: As any theist on UD readily knows from first hand experience, the atheist’s disbelief in God is driven primarily by emotion not by any solid reason:

    When Atheists Are Angry at God – 2011
    Excerpt: “I’ve never been angry at unicorns. It’s unlikely you’ve ever been angry at unicorns either.,, The one social group that takes exception to this rule is atheists. They claim to believe that God does not exist and yet, according to empirical studies, tend to be the people most angry at him.”
    per First Things

    Study explores whether atheism is rooted in reason or emotion – Jan. 2015
    Excerpt: “A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of this recent study, has examined other data on this subject with identical results. Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....r-emotion/

    Appreciate this irony, Joseph Stalin, on his death bed, one of the greatest mass murderers in history, shook his fist at the God he did not believe in.

    “A story I heard personally from Malcolm Muggeridge (that stirred me then and still does even yet) was his account of a conversation he had with Svetlana Stalin, the daughter of Josef Stalin. She spent some time with Muggeridge in his home in England while they were working together on their BBC production on the life of her father. According to Svetlana, as Stalin lay dying, plagued with terrifying hallucinations, he suddenly sat halfway up in bed, clenched his fist toward the heavens once more, fell back upon his pillow, and was dead.”
    Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, (Word Publ., Dallas: 1994), p. 26.

  58. 58
    Barry Arrington says:

    HeKS,

    Good luck with work. I know the feeling. We hope to see you back soon.

  59. 59
    drc466 says:

    Starbuck @48,

    Congratulations on pointing out that Christians believe that an all-knowing, infallible and Holy Supernatural Creator Deity is the only Being with the Moral Authority over Life and Death. And is therefore a (supernatural) exception to Barry’s (non-supernatural including) rule. You win. Take a cookie.

  60. 60
    HeKS says:

    @Aleta #50,

    BA writes,

    Semi related to the depressing Nihilistic belief, i.e. life is meaningless belief, inherent to atheism:

    Nope, life is not meaningless, nor nihilistic, to an atheist.

    {/off-topic digression}

    You misunderstand Barry’s comment. He did not saying life is meaningless “to an atheist”. Rather, he said the belief that life is meaningless is inherent “to atheism”.

    Those are two different claims. The latter claim (Barry’s) is true and is widely recognized to be so. The former claim (your interpretation) would only be true if all atheists held to the beliefs that were logically mandated by their worldview, which they manifestly do not.

  61. 61
    drc466 says:

    Popperian @54 – You are asking Barry to explain why he doesn’t accept Universal Insanity as a valid counterargument, to which he has replied “because it’s insane”. Seems complete enough to me.

    Popperian @55 – …and now you’re asking why a supernatural entity is not bounded by the natural. Back to insane.

  62. 62
    HeKS says:

    Barry,

    HeKS,

    Good luck with work. I know the feeling. We hope to see you back soon.

    Thanks a lot. I look forward to when I can start spending more time here again.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  63. 63
    HeKS says:

    @drc466 #61

    Popperian @55 – …and now you’re asking why a supernatural entity is not bounded by the natural. Back to insane.

    Actually, this is probably going to be the only time I agree with Popperian on much of anything, but I agree with his criticism of the Trinity doctrine, and it is one of the reasons that I don’t accept it (the other being that I don’t agree that it is a properly Biblical doctrine or the methods of argumentation used to claim that it is).

    The supernatural may be different from the natural, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t subject to basic logic. After all, consider the fact that when theists say that God is omnipotent, they do not mean that he is able to do things that are logically impossible, and it is precisely the fact that many atheists miss this fact that leads to them making silly and ineffective arguments against God.

    It is perfectly acceptable for a Trinitarian to attempt to argue that the Trinity doctrine does not lead to logical contradictions and absurdities, as many have attempted to do, but they cannot simply say that it doesn’t need to make any logical sense because it’s supernatural.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  64. 64
    HeKS says:

    Actually, to be fair to the Trinity doctrine, which I personally disagree with, when it comes to this:

    Popperian: As for A=A, Is God one person or three?

    This isn’t really a problem because the Trinity doctrine doesn’t say that God is both one person and three persons. It says that God is three persons subsisting in one being or substance. That is not a logical contradiction, whatever else one may say about that aspect of the teaching.

  65. 65
    Barb says:

    “We can’t be absolutely certain that A=A.”

    Are you absolutely certain of the statement above?

    Yes or no? If no, then admit that you cannot be absolutely certain about everything. If yes, then congratulations, you have achieved infallibility. Go on with your bad self.

  66. 66
    drc466 says:

    HeKS,

    If you cannot define “A” (“A” being supernatural), can you logically apply an A=A assertion? Hmmm, maybe.

    You’re probably correct, though. Popperian’s analogy was really more of an error in saying the Trinity is “A=3A”, when it is really “A=3B”, rather than trying to assert God was boundable/definable as an “A”.

  67. 67
    drc466 says:

    HeKS,

    OT: As for the Trinity, John 1:1 seems fairly straight-forward. And I’ve always believed that God doesn’t try to obfuscate meaning. Hence my position as a YEC, as well. I find it hard to believe that at the judgment, God is going to condemn us for not figuring out what He REALLY meant to say…

  68. 68
    HeKS says:

    drc466,

    I would certainly be happy to discuss the Trinity doctrine with you, but it would best be handled in another venue. I don’t think this is the best place for it. Briefly, however, I disagree with you on the clarity of John 1:1. Translated as it is in most versions, following the KJV as a pattern, actually does lead to a logical contradiction according to the rules of English grammar. The verse does not tell us that the Word was “God” by identity, but that he was “god” by nature. The Coptic translation of the NT is instructive here, as it was made when Koine Greek was still a living language and Coptic has both a definite and indefinite article like English does. The Coptic of John 1:1 reads, “the word was a god”. The Coptic is not needed to make the point that this is a more appropriate translation, but it is certainly interesting to note. And as regards the arguments brought against this sort of rendering, which are generally theological, they are based on the creation of a false dichotomy between “true gods” and “false gods”. For a detailed considering of the proper rendering of John 1:1, I suggest you check out the book Truth in Translation by Dr. Jason Beduhn.

    And if you’d like to discuss this further we can try to find a more appropriate venue for the discussion.

  69. 69
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS, exegesis of Jn 1:1 relative to say the Nicene creed (created by the Gk church on Jn 1:1, Heb 1, Col 1, 1 Cor 15 etc in the first council since Jerusalem AD 48, and on that subject in reply to Arianism . . . ) is a bit far afield of UD’s focus, so I concur it should go to a separate venue. KF

  70. 70
    Learned Hand says:

    Barry,
    To say that it is not infallibly true is to say that perhaps it is not true. And that is to deny it.

    This is where you would rudely demand that someone read more closely. I deny that you are able to infallibly know whether the law is true, not that the law is definitely not infallibly true. You are the limited, flawed part of the equation, not the law of identity. And as a limited, flawed observer, how can you know infallibly that the law is true?

    If you can’t answer the question, why not just say so? The longer you twist and distort and insult and rave, the more obvious it is that you cannot explain why you are justified in believing your own infallibility—and that you will not question it. After all, to admit such doubt would be to breach the wall, and muddle the distinction between the perfect pure infallible mind of Barry and the dirty dumb stupid liar people who think he might be fallible.

    HeKS,

    The Laws of Identity, Non Contradiction, and the Excluded Middle are fundamental rules of logic itself. Without them, we cannot reason. Reason and argument simply becomes impossible, as does any kind of coherent meaning.
    And yet, here you are attempting to ARGUE that it could be possible for these fundamental rules of logic to be false and you are trying to make a DISTINCTION between axioms that merely work and propositions that are self-evident and necessarily (even infallibly) true.

    Acknowledging that we could be in error doesn’t keep us from relying on these laws. They’re axioms. We don’t need to pretend that they’re proven concepts we understand infallibly. We assume them and use them because they work. After all, I’m not infallibly certain that I will live to see another day—but I’m still going to make plans for the weekend. Why would we have to believe our understanding of the LOI is infallible to reason? We can and do assume that it’s always true for our purposes, based on our experience (which is limited) and our reason (which is capable of error).

    And of course, as much as some people writhe and spit when their infallibility is questioned, I can’t see a single argument in support of that infallibility. It’s just protestations of how unacceptable it would be if we were fallible, and how vile the people who question that premise are. Those aren’t arguments.

    Andre (and Barb, in a different comment),

    Your entire argument is this; “I know that I can’t know”
    How do you know that you can’t know?

    You’re about the fifth person to spring this particular “gotcha.” Your paraphrase is wrong. I don’t know that I can’t know. I think that I can’t know. And no one has offered any cogent argument for how or why we could be assured of our own infallibility. I keep asking, and I keep getting screamed at. It sure seems like those who cherish the assumption of their infallibility have no good explanation, and are finding their inability to create one extremely frustrating.

    Box,

    “Harming little boys and girls is wrong” is a self-evident moral truth. No doubt about it. What is not self-evidently true is that this moral truth applies to abortion.

    And yet BA thinks you’re insane and wicked for getting the latter SET wrong. How can we tell it’s a SET? Shut up, moron liar. Why is BA’s understanding of that SET infallible? Shut up, moron liar. It’s like a Socratic dialogue, as conducted by Alex Jones.

    KF,

    First, no sane human being claims infallibility, which does not prevent us from being demonstrably right on certain matters.

    I agree! BA does not. He has very often asserted that he has beliefs that cannot be wrong, and that cannot be questioned—not that he is demonstrably right, but that no result other than his own correctness is possible. I expect that you read that statement and interpreted it as a strawman turnabout red-herring soaked in oil of ad hominem to be set alight in order to burn down the chains of reason from which we warrant the existence of first-mover moral etc. etc. etc. Don’t ever change.

    drc466,

    Barry’s point is that if your only response to “A=A is infallibly true” is “well, it’s possible that logic is completely, totally worthless at its most foundational level”, you’re basically saying that any and all further discussion of any topic anywhere is pointless.

    I think you’re being extraordinarily charitable to BA’s “shut up moron liar irrational dummy” line of argument, which is admirable. If that is his point, it is not very good. As I said above, we don’t need to assert at the top of our lungs that we have a perfect, infallible grasp of A=A in order to reason. We can accept it as an axiom: “This has always been true in my experience, and I cannot even imagine a case in which it couldn’t be true, therefore I’m perfectly comfortable proceeding as if it’s true without a second thought.” We don’t need to stop and insist, “I understand A=A perfectly. It is impossible for me to be wrong when I say A=A in any and all cases, without exception. It is absolutely certain, with no doubt even logically possible.”

    And of course, we’re using A=A as the easiest case. BA extends his infallibility far beyond the “most foundational level” of logic. He also asserts an infallible knowledge of objective morality. Not infallible in all respects, to be sure—at no level does he claim to be perfectly, completely infallible. Merely that he knows things about which there can be absolutely, totally, no dispute, from A=A to “abortion is wrong.” Which means he has some infallible faculty, not just for answering those questions but for telling which questions are amenable to his infallible faculty.

    How do we get from taking A=A as an axiom to a poorly- but infallibly-defined list of questions about which we supposedly have infallible knowledge? I keep asking…

    In the interest of not putting up a wall, let me allow you your assertion that no one can know infallibly that A=A. However, to accept the possibility that A=A is not infallible knowledge falls under the definition of insanity.

    I appreciate the effort. But why is it insane to accept that our knowledge is not infallible? If you say this because we need to rely on A=A, all that establishes is that we need to rely on it—not that our reason or perceptions are infallible. How do you demonstrate that our understanding is perfect?

    My answer is that I can’t—I accept A=A as an axiom. The answer of those who demand that they are infallible seems to be:

    (A) We don’t claim to be infallible
    (B) We just have certain infallible beliefs
    (C) We know those beliefs are infallible because shut up, you are insane.

  71. 71
    Barry Arrington says:

    Learned Hand,

    You continue to say that I claim to be personally infallible. That is a lie and you know it is a lie. And yes I am building a wall. I am building a wall between liars and non-liars (and sadly you are on the wrong side of that wall).

    There are two and only two positions one can take with respect to the law of identity. (1) it is infallibly true in all cases; (2) it is possibly not true, in which case reason itself is impossible.

    You opt for the latter.

    You say I am a divisive wall building hater because I insist on the truth and reject error. You are a classic example of the truth of this aphorism: “The truth is hate to those who hate the truth.”

  72. 72
    drc466 says:

    LH,
    I’ll stand by my earlier comments, as you didn’t really address them.

    A) We don’t claim to be infallible
    B) We just have certain infallible beliefs
    C) We know those beliefs are infallible because shut up, you are insane.

    This is a strawman, as hopefully you know. Properly stated, we are talking about logic conclusions (A=A), not beliefs.
    A) We don’t claim to be infallible
    B) We just have certain infallible logical conclusions
    C) We know those logical conclusions are infallible because the only way they could be wrong is if we are all insane and all logic is invalid.

    If you wish to attack Barry’s assertion that murdering babies is morally wrong is an infallible fact, fine, feel free to do so. But to try to attack it on grounds that we cannot know any thing for certain is basically saying, “That might not be true if we are universally insane”. Which, if we accept that as any type of valid argument, would be a complete and total conversation-stopper to any, and all assertions.

    “Does A=A? Not if we are universally insane! Is radioactive dating valid? Not if we are universally insane! Does the layering of fossils have any significance for the evolution of animals? Not if we are universally insane! Do the discrepancies between genetic and morphological phylogenies have any relevance to Evolutionary theory? Not if we are universally insane! Is it an absolute truth that murdering innocent unborn children for their body parts is morally wrong? Not if we are universally insane!”

  73. 73
    Learned Hand says:

    If I’ve misunderstood you, I apologize–but I have to wonder why you are protesting so much if you agree that you could be mistaken. I also wonder why you write things like:

    “Therefore, if a person understands a self-evidently true proposition at all, it is not possible for him to be in error about it.”

    “I have had some harsh words for several of the materialists who deny infallible knowledge of self-evident truths such as A=A.”

    That second quote especially sounds as if you’re saying it’s wrong to deny infallible knowledge.

    My understanding of your position has been that you take positions that sane, rational people cannot disagree with. That we all understand that A=A and abortion is wrong, and cannot disagree without lying to ourselves. No?

    Is it possible that you could be wrong about abortion and other “self-evident” truths? If so, then I have misunderstood your position, and I apologize. If not, then how are you not claiming infallibility?

  74. 74
    Learned Hand says:

    drc466,

    Properly stated, we are talking about logic conclusions (A=A), not beliefs.

    I say “belief” because I think it’s reasonable to call anything you think or take as a premise a “belief.” If you want to use some other word I’m happy to do so, but I think “conclusion” is a very bad one in this context. A=A isn’t a logical conclusion. It’s a starting point, not a conclusion.

    If you wish to attack Barry’s assertion that murdering babies is morally wrong is an infallible fact, fine, feel free to do so.

    I don’t. I wish to understand why he thinks that certain of his beliefs are infallible. He says that he doesn’t claim infallibility, and now I’m wondering if I’ve misunderstood him. Does he think he could be in error to believe those things? If not, I think he’s asserting some infallibility. If so, then we don’t really disagree on that point. (And again, there’s an important difference here: I’m looking not at whether the supposed fact that abortion is wrong is infallibly true, but whether a fallible human can have an infallible perception of or belief in that fact. Just as with A=A, it could be perfectly, infallibly true—but is our belief that it’s so infallible? How can we know?)

    But to try to attack it on grounds that we cannot know any thing for certain is basically saying, “That might not be true if we are universally insane”.

    I don’t agree with your paraphrase. You’ve skipped right over the fact that I agree we can adopt A=A as an axiom and use it all day long, without a second thought. But that doesn’t establish that we are infallible in believing it. Similarly, people who believed that a particle could not also be a wave could do so without a second thought, but were not infallible.

    You really want me to be saying, “A is not A,” or “I deny that we can assume A is A.” It’s just not my position. I only say that we should recognize that our assumption that A=A is an assumption, and not infallible. Because whether or not A infallibly =A is not the question—whether we can have any knowledge infallibly is the question.

  75. 75
    drc466 says:

    whether we can have any knowledge infallibly is the question

    To which the answer is “Yes, unless all logic is invalid and we are all insane.” Meaning it is not worth talking about unless you want to honestly include universal insanity as a valid objection. Which is…

  76. 76
    Barry Arrington says:

    The law of identify: A=A

    LH’s corruption of the law of identity: A=A, except in those possible cases that I can’t think of right now when it does not.

    LH’s corruption of the law undermines reason itself. How can we know when the exception is applicable? We never can. Therefore, if LH’s corruption of the law were true we could never make any reasoned argument.

    That he nevertheless insists on his corruption, to the point of casting moral aspersions on those who reject it, shows that he is either a liar, deeply stupid, or insane. Take your pick.

    BTW, LH, I never said that all abortions are self-evidently evil. I do believe that all but a tiny tiny fraction of abortions constitute the unjustified taking of a human life and are therefore evil. Whether any particular abortion is evil depends on the circumstances. In extremely rare cases the taking of the baby’s life is justified. In such a case, the abortion is not evil.

    I can’t imagine why you would say I say all abortions are self-evidently evil. Another lie on your part.

  77. 77
    HeKS says:

    Learned Hand,

    I think you are confusing necessarily and infallibly true rules of logic with what are termed “properly basic beliefs”.

    A properly basic belief is essentially one that can be rationally held without requiring even more basic evidence to support it but which cannot be definitively proved. An example would be belief in the reality of the external world. Properly basic beliefs can generally at least be challenged without automatically descending into self-defeating absurdity.

    This is quite different from a necessary and self-evident truth like the Law of Identity, which cannot be challenged without immediately descending into absurdity, such that as soon as you understand what it is you come to realize the utter futility of trying to challenge or deny it.

  78. 78
    kairosfocus says:

    HeKS: Indeed, worldview foundations will contain both self-evident first truths and properly basic beliefs which it is rational to hold as a part of a coherent and factually competent system. And indeed they are different. KF

  79. 79
    Learned Hand says:

    LH’s corruption of the law of identity: A=A, except in those possible cases that I can’t think of right now when it does not.

    You don’t seem able or willing to engage the point I’m making. It’s not that A=A is a flawed or incomplete rule. It’s that our perception of it is flawed, or at least capable of being flawed. It may be entirely true that there are no exceptions. I don’t assert that there are. I say only that our inability to conceive of them does not mean there cannot be any; it says only that we cannot conceive of them. Just as someone who could not conceive of a particle being a wave would have been wrong, because their experience and perspective was limited.

    LH’s corruption of the law undermines reason itself. How can we know when the exception is applicable? We never can.

    We easily can. Take the rule as an axiom. Is the resulting logic internally consistent and functional in the physical world? Great! No exception is apparent. And if no exception is apparent, or even conceivable, there’s no need to discard the axiom. But you can prod and probe the axiom for all eternity and you’ll still not have a perfect, limitless perspective with which to say, “My perception of the rule is infallible.”

    BTW, LH, I never said that all abortions are self-evidently evil.

    OK, but that doesn’t even come close to answering the question at hand. I think you have taken the position that you have infallible positions. What else does it mean when you spit on “the materialists who deny infallible knowledge of self-evident truths”? And I think you’ve said that people who disagree with certain of your moral beliefs—including on abortion, your evasion here being transparent–cannot rationally, sanely disagree with you.

    BA, can you be in error when you assert that “all but a tiny tiny fraction of abortions constitute the unjustified taking of a human life and are therefore evil”?

    If not, (a) aren’t you asserting that your position is infallible? And (b), if so, how do you know when your position on a particular issue is infallible?

    If you can be in error, are there positions you do take that cannot be in error? And then, same questions (a) and (b).

    Answering questions is so much harder than spitting on people! But if your position is well-justified, it shouldn’t really be that hard.

    Here’s what I think is happening: you know it would be silly to claim that you are infallible. But to admit that you could be in error about such things creates very large problems for your preferred method of moral reasoning (“I am right, you are an insane idiot, shut up.”). So rather than really come to terms with the problem, we’re just stuck in a loop of your preferred method of reasoning (see above).

    Rather than attack attack attack, why not put a positive argument on the table and see if it holds up? That’s the big difference between you on the one hand and Avicenna or Lewis on the other. While they may have resorted to insults from time to time, they also played ball. They had coherent philosophies beyond “shut up dummy.” What’s yours?

    Do you take moral positions that cannot be in error? If so, how do you know which ones they are?

  80. 80
    Learned Hand says:

    I think you are confusing necessarily and infallibly true rules of logic with what are termed “properly basic beliefs”.

    It’s possible, sure. I don’t think so, though.

    A properly basic belief is essentially one that can be rationally held without requiring even more basic evidence to support it but which cannot be definitively proved.

    Yes, and I agree that A=A falls within this category. It can be rationally held. It needn’t be asserted as a truth that is unquestionable, or about which we have infallible knowledge. We hold it because we need to, and it works. The fact that it is an axiom is (a) not disputed, and (b) not relevant to whether one can have infallible knowledge of a fact.

    This is quite different from a necessary and self-evident truth like the Law of Identity, which cannot be challenged without immediately descending into absurdity, such that as soon as you understand what it is you come to realize the utter futility of trying to challenge or deny it.

    This is a just-so story. What is absurd about saying that we cannot have infallible knowledge without a tool to remove error from our cognition? That’s the core of my argument: there is no rational basis on which to say that we have infallible knowledge of anything. I keep asking people who are upset with this position how they can do so, and the answers are contortions, attacks, slurs and evasions.

    How can someone know that they are infallibly correct in any belief? “I think therefore I am” is a hard one to get around, I admit that, but I still think error is possible. (I can’t imagine how error could actually be possible, but my whole point is that our inability to imagine a case does not mean that it’s strictly impossible for such a case to exist.)

    And my understanding of BA’s beliefs are that he cannot be wrong about much more than just “I think therefore I am.” His infallibility goes far beyond that or “A=A.” I think he believes that certain moral beliefs, the ones that just happen to match his culture and peer group, are objective and infallibly held. That he can be incompletely, but not incorrectly, perceiving an objective, transcendent moral standard.

    (It’s hard to tell exactly what BA thinks, since the vast majority of his posts are bricks in the wall. “This person is stupid” outnumbers “here is what I think” by an enormous margin. Which pretty much matches what I think the mission is: attack those who disagree, never scrutinize own beliefs.)

  81. 81
    StephenB says:

    Learned Hand

    It’s not that A=A is a flawed or incomplete rule. It’s that our perception of it is flawed, or at least capable of being flawed.

    Are you absolutely certain that our perceptions about the law of identity “are” flawed?

    Or,

    Are you absolutely certain that our perceptions about the law of identity “can be” flawed?

    Or,

    Are you uncertain that our perceptions about the law of identity “are” flawed?

    Or,

    Are you uncertain that our perceptions about the law of identity “can be” flawed?

    Since you keep contradicting yourself, I need for you to choose the correct formulation so that I can know what you really mean.

  82. 82
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH,

    Just as someone who could not conceive of a particle being a wave would have been wrong, because their experience and perspective was limited.

    I see you still have not learned the distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions. How can I help you if you keep spouting the same errors over and over even after I’ve corrected you repeatedly. I won’t give up on you though. I know you can do better. I am persuaded that your ignorance is not invincible.

    Now, here is your assignment. Figure out why you’ve committed a major category error when you compare the analytic proposition A=A to the synthetic proposition “a particle cannot act like a wave.”

    We easily can. Take the rule as an axiom.

    Here we go again. SB and HeKS and I have corrected this error several times now. Just repeating it over and over won’t make it any less erroneous.

    Can you be in error when you assert that “all but a tiny tiny fraction of abortions constitute the unjustified taking of a human life and are therefore evil”?

    Yes. Unlike an analytic proposition, it is conceivable for me to be in error about this synthetic proposition.

    (b), if so, how do you know when your position on a particular issue is infallible?

    When we are talking about an analytic proposition is one way. You see, LH, you really are not going to understand the first thing until you learn the difference between necessary and contingent. I’ve been trying very patiently to teach you. You refuse to learn and keep repeating the same error over and over, as if repeating it n times will somehow make it true when it was not true when you said it n-1 times.

    If you can be in error, are there positions you do take that cannot be in error?

    Your question boils down to this: If it is possible for Barry to be in error about a synthetic proposition, are there other propositions about which he cannot be in error? And the answer is, yes I can have infallible knowledge of analytic propositions.

    Answering questions is so much harder than spitting on people!

    You keep whining. I’ve told you why I speak so harshly. Someone who says that it is possible for A=A to be false is insane, stupid or a liar. I am trying to shame you into better conduct. You do appear to be very nearly shameless though. But I won’t give up on you LH. When you tell lies or say staggeringly stupid things, I will continue to point it out.

    But if your position is well-justified, it shouldn’t really be that hard.

    And I have. Repeatedly. Your failure to understand a justification is not the same thing as my failure to provide a justification. You should write that down.

    you know it would be silly to claim that you are infallible

    Which is why I have never claimed any such thing.

    we’re just stuck in a loop

    Yes, we are. The loop is this: LH says something staggeringly stupid like “it is possible that the analytic proposition A=A could be false.” I correct LH. LH says it again. I correct him. LH says it again . . . It is a tiresome loop. But, as I said, I refuse to give up on you LH. I know you can do better.

    Do you take moral positions that cannot be in error?

    Yes. Here’s one: “The Holocaust was evil.” Here’s my (a) or (b) question for you LH:

    (a) It is possible Barry is wrong when he says the Holocaust was evil.

    (b) It is not possible for Barry to be wrong when he says the Holocaust was evil.

    (a) or (b) LH?

  83. 83
    Learned Hand says:

    SB,

    Since you keep contradicting yourself, I need for you to choose the correct formulation so that I can know what you really mean.

    Or you could read the comments in which I explain this. Frankly, I don’t think you’re that confused. I think you can’t articulate your own position in a coherent way, so you need to keep writhing and twisting to keep the discussion centered somewhere else.

    None of your clumsy paraphrases are correct. I do not see any way that we can be absolutely certain about anything. I’m open to being persuaded that it’s possible; you are not even trying to do so. You’re just capering about and complaining.

    What’s your philosophy, SB? Can you be infallibly certain of anything? If so, what? And how do you discriminate between “I can be absolutely certain of this” and “I could be in error on this?”

    You keep ignoring these questions. But no amount of “you are a contradictory dumb-head!” will substitute for an actual argument on your part. Why are the questions so difficult for you, SB? If your philosophy is coherent and rational, why can’t you write it down?

  84. 84
    Learned Hand says:

    I see you still have not learned the distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions. How can I help you if you keep spouting the same errors over and over even after I’ve corrected you repeatedly. I won’t give up on you though. I know you can do better. I am persuaded that your ignorance is not invincible.
    Now, here is your assignment. Figure out why you’ve committed a major category error when you compare the analytic proposition A=A to the synthetic proposition “a particle cannot act like a wave.”

    “I cannot explain my position. You must explain it for me.” It’s a slightly less simplistic version of using insults to distract from the gaping void where an argument would go.

    Why are you incapable of being in error about analytic propositions? This is just another version of “there are self-evident truths, and I know what they are, and I can’t be wrong about that.” But we saw how you furiously imploded at the slightest pressure on that idea last time.

    To say that “I cannot be wrong about analytic propositions” is pointless; you must also have an infallible ability to discriminate between analytic and synthetic propositions, or you could never guarantee you’re looking at an AP and thus would have to admit the possibility of error. So is that the position? You can infallibly discriminate between the two?

    Here we go again. SB and HeKS and I have corrected this error several times now.

    Oh? Where? Because this seems like another iteration of, “I cannot articulate it, but you are a dumb-head for doubting it.” I don’t know how one refutes “You can take the rule as an axiom.” I don’t think you do, either.

    Yes. Unlike an analytic proposition, it is conceivable for me to be in error about this synthetic proposition.
    Thank you for making a plain statement of your position without including an insult.

    (b), if so, how do you know when your position on a particular issue is infallible?
    When we are talking about an analytic proposition is one way.

    This, again, assumes that you can infallibly discriminate between the two. If you can’t, the error is still possible.

    You see, LH, you really are not going to understand the first thing until you learn the difference between necessary and contingent. I’ve been trying very patiently to teach you.

    “Look at my shiny pedestal. It is glorious, and I am glorious, and entirely justified in flinging poop at people. Because I do it from this shiny pedestal. I am not only justified and glorious, I am noble for flinging poop. It says so right on the pedestal! The pedestal that I built to stand on so that I could throw poop without getting dirty. Why does my hand smell so bad?”

    And the answer is, yes I can have infallible knowledge of analytic propositions.

    I have a hard time squaring that with your earlier poop-flinging, “You continue to say that I claim to be personally infallible. That is a lie and you know it is a lie.”

    “I do not claim to be infallible” and “I can have infallible knowledge of X” are hard to reconcile. But ironically, you can’t be in error, so presumably I’m dumb and a liar for finding the juxtaposition of your comments confusing.

    Let’s assume that there is a category of questions about which you are infallible. The discrimination problem remains: if you cannot infallibly sort questions into that bucket or another, then you can never know for certain whether you are in error, correct?

    So does the self-referential problem: you need to be infallibly certain that you cannot be in error about analytic propositions, in order to use the distinction as the basis of infallible certainty in the case of any specific proposition.

    So “I can have infallible knowledge of analytic propositions,” assuming that you mean that you actually do have infallible knowledge of any such proposition, is an assertion of several different types of infallibility:

    a) I can be infallibly certain of at least some propositions, those in category X
    b) I can infallibly discriminate between propositions in category X and those that aren’t
    c) I can be infallibly certain of this actual proposition

    You’re doing the same thing SB did when he tried to square this circle: assuming your infallibility in order to establish your infallibility. I don’t think you can be infallibly certain that analytic truths are amenable to infallible certainty. I don’t think you can discriminate infallibly between analytic and synthetic propositions. And I don’t think that you’ve established any tool with which to eradicate the possibility of error with regard to your apprehension of logical propositions.

    And I have. Repeatedly. Your failure to understand a justification is not the same thing as my failure to provide a justification. You should write that down.

    Can you point out a couple of places where you’ve gone through your reasoning? It would be helpful!

    you know it would be silly to claim that you are infallible

    Which is why I have never claimed any such thing.

    BA: “And the answer is, yes I can have infallible knowledge of analytic propositions.”
    Also BA: “I have never claimed [to be infallible.]”
    Also BA, upon any miscommunication or misunderstanding of his position: “You are stupid and a liar for claiming to misunderstand me.”

    Here’s my (a) or (b) question for you LH:
    (a) It is possible Barry is wrong when he says the Holocaust was evil.
    (b) It is not possible for Barry to be wrong when he says the Holocaust was evil.
    (a) or (b) LH?

    Neither. I’m a subjectivist, remember? I think there is no objective standard to tell us. We answer the question for ourselves. You and I believe it was evil. Whether we can be mistaken about whether we believe our own beliefs is a case of “cogito ergo sum,” which I think is the hardest test of my position. I can’t imagine any way in which it could be in error… but my failure to conceive of something is not a logical proof that something is impossible.

    And of course, this is a rhetorical trap beloved of first-year law students and precocious undergrads. The position is constructed on a horrible example, and presented with a binary choice, to try and force a particular result. Agree with me, or you look like a Nazi. Meh. This kind of thing is a strong signal that the underlying argument is weak.

    So to recap, here’s the things Barry can do infallibly (even though he is not claiming to be infallible, and you’re a liar if you say so):

    A) Tell that analytic propositions are amenable to infallible knowledge
    B) Discriminate, in at least some instances, between analytic and synthetic propositions
    C) Tell that a specific analytic proposition is infallibly true

    Is that wrong anywhere? I’d like to understand your position accurately.

  85. 85
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    “Answer it yes or no! Yes is agreeing with me that you are wrong, and no makes you look like a Nazi. Victory!”

    Why, yes, that is how it works LH. When you equivocate on whether the Holocaust is evil, you are shown to be evil.

    Now you can call me all sorts of names (poop flinger, etc.) but at the end of the day I can stand up and say “The Holocaust was evil and it is impossible for me to be wrong about that.”

    You say, “I am pretty darn sure the Holocaust was evil, but I might be wrong about that.”

    And you preen yourself at your moral and intellectual sophistication. You really do disgust me.

  86. 86
    StephenB says:

    LH,

    I don’t know why you are struggling with my question so much. It’s really very simple. You are either absolutely certain that our perceptions about A =A can be flawed, or you are not.

    [a] If you are absolutely certain that our perceptions about that law can be flawed, then you have contradicted your claim that we can be absolutely certain about nothing.

    [b] If you are not absolutely certain that our perceptions about that law can be flawed, then you have contradicted your unqualified statement that our perceptions are, indeed, flawed.

    Meanwhile, I don’t understand why you feel the need to misrepresent the facts. I laid out my position very clearly and I explained why I am certain about self-evident truths. You just didn’t understand the points.

    If you have any further questions, I will be happy to help you. My aim is not to abuse you. The point is to illuminate your intellect and protect onlookers from falling into your errors.

    Here is another question: Are you absolutely certain that you are not Mount Everest? Please explain your answer as clearly as you can.

  87. 87
    Learned Hand says:

    Just a quick note re: 85 – BA is responding to a pre-edit version of my comment. I read my comment after I posted it and thought the version BA is responding to sounded a little childish, so I toned it down, but he’d apparently been responding to it already by then. My bad for not editing first and posting second.

  88. 88
    Barry Arrington says:

    BTW, Learned Hand, do you have infallible knowledge about your own opinion that the Holocaust was evil?

  89. 89
    Aleta says:

    Way back at 50, I quoted BA (bornagain77, henceforth ba77, not Barry Arrington) as saying, “Semi related to the depressing Nihilistic belief, i.e. life is meaningless belief, inherent to atheism…”,

    and I replied,

    Nope, life is not meaningless, nor nihilistic, to an atheist.

    At 57, ba77 replied,

    But alas, the evidence contradicts your denial of the nihilistic, life is meaningless, belief inherent to atheism. i.e. Numerous studies indicate that, across the board, atheists have a sadder life than theists. Thus while you may personally claim you are just as happy, or happier, than theists, the facts themselves don’t back up your claim for atheism across the board.

    First of all, I take studies like that with many grains of salt. One can easily find studies that don’t support that conclusion, and, in my opinion, the whole subject of adequately measuring such things is problematic.

    But the main point here is that I said nothing about happiness – I referred to life being meaningful. These are two different things. One might find happiness, and meaning, by living behind rose-colored glasses, shielded from a realistic appraisal of the world. Happiness may be more difficult to achieve the more one realizes the existential sense of being responsible to choose that lies upon one who doesn’t believe there is a God. However, that responsibility, and the consequent choices one makes, can also, perhaps, make one’s life more meaningful than the meaning others derive from accepting a belief system about a God that, in the atheist view, does not exist.

    Beliefs that help make us happy, or make us think that life is meaningful, may in fact be false. I would rather live with the uncertainty of not believing in any external divine source of meaning than base my life on false beliefs about such divine beings.

  90. 90
    Learned Hand says:

    SB,

    It’s really very simple. You are either absolutely certain that our perceptions about A =A are flawed, or you are not.

    I am not, if by “flawed” you mean “actually in error.” I think that our perceptions may be in error. I don’t think that they are, when it comes to A=A, but I can’t infallibly rule out the possibility. And if you can, you’re awfully shy about explaining how.

    (ETA: if by “flawed” you mean that our perceptions could be in error, then still no. I’ve explained this to you already and that’s a bit frustrating, but I need to be civil and charitable and recognize that this is a messy, sprawling, fast-moving conversation. You aren’t accountable for a perfect knowledge of all of my comments, even those directed at you.

    I don’t absolutely know with perfect certainty that our perceptions are potentially in error. If there’s a way to demonstrate that they aren’t, I’d love to hear it. Your suggestions were the best I’ve heard, but they took infallibility as a prerequisite.)

    [b] If you are not absolutely certain that our perceptions about that law can be flawed, then you have contradicted your unqualified statement that our perceptions are, indeed, flawed.

    I’m not sure if by “flawed” you mean that flawed perceptions are in error or could be in error. The latter is my position, which is clear enough from the many, long posts I’ve written: I think that our perceptions are fallible, and that we can’t infallibly rule out error. Simple enough. In other words, for the avoidance of doubt, our perceptions may be in error, but I don’t mean to assert that are certainly in error.

    Meanwhile, I don’t understand why you feel the need to misrepresent the facts. I laid out my position very clearly and I explained why I am certain about self-evident truths.

    I think you assumed infallibility to do it, and hoped you had some explanation that didn’t do so. No?

    My aim is not to abuse you.

    I believe you! You seem reluctant to do so, but not to the point of being civil. That’s a shame.

  91. 91
    Learned Hand says:

    BTW, Learned Hand, do you have infallible knowledge about your own opinion that the Holocaust was evil?

    As I said, this is a case of cogito ergo sum (or at least I think it is). My philosophy is neither fully-formed nor perfect; I am proud of being humble enough to say, “I don’t know.” (And proud that I choose to do that instead of insulting you to distract from the fact that I don’t know.)

    My best answer is that it’s the same as A=A. I cannot imagine any way in which I could be mistaken in asserting my own beliefs, or my own consciousness. But “I cannot conceive of a counter-example” is not an absolute proof of the concept if you assume, as I do, that my ability to comprehend the concept is limited.

    So I’d say that I think I cannot be mistaken about whether I believe what I think I believe, unless there’s some qualification or special case I can’t conceive of, but I can’t rule out the things I can’t conceive of. I’ll worry about whether such things exist if they ever arise.

  92. 92
    Learned Hand says:

    So to recap, here’s the things Barry can do infallibly (even though he is not claiming to be infallible, and you’re a liar if you say so):

    A) Tell that analytic propositions are amenable to infallible knowledge
    B) Discriminate, in at least some instances, between analytic and synthetic propositions
    C) Tell that a specific analytic proposition is infallibly true

    Is that wrong anywhere? I’d like to understand your position accurately.

  93. 93
    Barry Arrington says:

    Barry:

    BTW, Learned Hand, do you have infallible knowledge about your own opinion that the Holocaust was evil?

    LH:

    I’d say that I think I cannot be mistaken about whether I believe what I think I believe . . . but I can’t rule [it] out

    God help us.

    Dear readers, the special irony here is that LH honestly believes the screaming idiocy on display in that sentence is the height of intellectual sophistication.

  94. 94
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH @ 92:

    I’d like to understand your position accurately.

    No you don’t. Otherwise, you would already know the answer to these questions. I and SB and KF and HeKS have covered them repeatedly. Again, your failure to understand is not the same as my failure to explain.

  95. 95
    Learned Hand says:

    Where? Where can I read your position?

  96. 96
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    Where? Where can I read your position?

    *Sigh*

  97. 97
    StephenB says:

    LH

    I don’t absolutely know with perfect certainty that our perceptions are potentially in error. If there’s a way to demonstrate that they aren’t, I’d love to hear it. Your suggestions were the best I’ve heard, but they took infallibility as a prerequisite.)

    Recall that we are discussing only our perceptions about self evident truths. All other perceptions are vulnerable to error. Let’s try it another way, and then I will take a break soon after.:

    Can you be absolutely certain that you are not Mount Everest? Can you be absolutely certain that anyone who says that you are is in error? Please explain your answers as clearly as you can.

  98. 98
    Learned Hand says:

    Sorry SB, on a date with my wife! Take your break, we’ll come back to it later.

  99. 99
    bornagain77 says:

    Aleta states,

    “First of all, I take studies like that with many grains of salt. One can easily find studies that don’t support that conclusion, and, in my opinion, the whole subject of adequately measuring such things is problematic.”

    Higher suicide rates and younger mortality rates do not lie Aleta. They are brute cold hard facts.

    Yet, you being in denial of such clear evidence is par for the course for an atheist.

    Which is all the more funny because you next state:

    “One might find happiness, and meaning, by living behind rose-colored glasses, shielded from a realistic appraisal of the world”

    If ANYONE were ever 100% guilty of shielding themselves from “a realistic appraisal of the world” it is atheists.

    Moreover, if anyone were ever guilty of wearing rose colored glasses to prevent themselves from dealing forthrightly with the direct implications of their worldview it is also atheists.

    In fact, it is impossible for atheists to live consistently with their stated worldview, and they are forced to steal from theists and ‘pretend’ that their lives have true meaning and purpose when their atheistic worldview denies any true meaning and purpose exists for anything in the first place.

    That true meaning and purpose do not exist in the atheistic worldview is especially not surprising to learn since even the concept of ‘person’ itself is illusory in materialism/atheism. i.e. exactly how is true meaning and purpose to be derived for an illusory person?:

    “What you’re doing is simply instantiating a self: the program run by your neurons which you feel is “you.””
    Jerry Coyne

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. 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.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    Darwin’s Robots: When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails – Nancy Pearcey – April 23, 2015
    Excerpt: Even materialists often admit that, in practice, it is impossible for humans to live any other way. One philosopher jokes that if people deny free will, then when ordering at a restaurant they should say, “Just bring me whatever the laws of nature have determined I will get.”
    An especially clear example is Galen Strawson, a philosopher who states with great bravado, “The impossibility of free will … can be proved with complete certainty.” Yet in an interview, Strawson admits that, in practice, no one accepts his deterministic view. “To be honest, I can’t really accept it myself,” he says. “I can’t really live with this fact from day to day. Can you, really?”,,,
    In What Science Offers the Humanities, Edward Slingerland, identifies himself as an unabashed materialist and reductionist. Slingerland argues that Darwinian materialism leads logically to the conclusion that humans are robots — that our sense of having a will or self or consciousness is an illusion. Yet, he admits, it is an illusion we find impossible to shake. No one “can help acting like and at some level really feeling that he or she is free.” We are “constitutionally incapable of experiencing ourselves and other conspecifics [humans] as robots.”
    One section in his book is even titled “We Are Robots Designed Not to Believe That We Are Robots.”,,,
    When I teach these concepts in the classroom, an example my students find especially poignant is Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT. Brooks writes that a human being is nothing but a machine — a “big bag of skin full of biomolecules” interacting by the laws of physics and chemistry. In ordinary life, of course, it is difficult to actually see people that way. But, he says, “When I look at my children, I can, when I force myself, … see that they are machines.”
    Is that how he treats them, though? Of course not: “That is not how I treat them…. I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis.” Certainly if what counts as “rational” is a materialist worldview in which humans are machines, then loving your children is irrational. It has no basis
    within Brooks’s worldview. It sticks out of his box.
    How does he reconcile such a heart-wrenching cognitive dissonance? He doesn’t. Brooks ends by saying, “I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs.” He has given up on any attempt to reconcile his theory with his experience. He has abandoned all hope for a unified, logically consistent worldview.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95451.html

    Existential Argument against Atheism – November 1, 2013 by Jason Petersen
    1. If a worldview is true then you should be able to live consistently with that worldview.
    2. Atheists are unable to live consistently with their worldview.
    3. If you can’t live consistently with an atheist worldview then the worldview does not reflect reality.
    4. If a worldview does not reflect reality then that worldview is a delusion.
    5. If atheism is a delusion then atheism cannot be true.
    Conclusion: Atheism is false.
    http://answersforhope.com/exis.....t-atheism/

  100. 100
    Aleta says:

    In the “Warrant thread, I think kf and I agreed on two things:

    1. A = A is an inviolable, foundational rule of reasoning that is essential for rational thought, and

    2. To apply A = A to any real situation, A must represent a “distinct identity.” As kf wrote,

    Where borders are fuzzy, that simply means clarity of where a distinct identity exists is required. Once such obtains, instantly LOI, LNC and LEM apply.

    My question now is this: can anyone give an example of a logical argument that uses A = A to help advance the argument?

    Examples from math are easy. In solving 2x – 5 = 17, students write 5 = 5 in order to “add 5 to both sides of the equation”, invoking a principle from Euclid that “if equals are added to equals, then the wholes are equal.”

    But is there any example of a use of A = A in a logical chain of reasoning about the real world that adds anything to the argument? A = A is true, but outside of pure logic, is it ever useful?

  101. 101
    Popperian says:

    @HeKS#56

    I’m familiar with your views on epistemology, but I haven’t confused anything. As I pointed out in my post, when it comes to the foundational laws of logic, you don’t need to outright deny that they are true in order to uproot reason. All you need to do is assert that we should operate under an ongoing doubt that they are true. In other words, all one needs to do to burn down the universe of reason is say, “I have no good explanation for why that fundamental rule of logic would be false, and I can’t conceive of any circumstance under which it might be false, but we should all continue to hold to the view that it could very well be false.”

    Yet, your response seems to suggest you are confused. To take an idea on board for the purpose of criticism requires one to take it seriously, as if they were true in reality. If you don’t take an idea seriously, along with the rest of our current, best explanations for how the world works, then it’s unclear how we can hope to make progress.

    As soon as we adopt the ongoing position that the very basic principles of right reason may very well be wrong, we have necessarily abandoned the bonds of reason itself, and we give ourselves an excuse to deny any conclusion we don’t like, no matter how sound, on the grounds that logic and reason themselves may be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

    Again, you seem to be confused. You’re the one abandoning reason.

    Picking some arbitrary or dogmatic point to claim “here! I believe!” puts an arbitrary limit on criticism and reason. Doing so gives yourself an excuse to ignore criticism you do not like, on the grounds that if we do not stop somewhere, we will be left with an infinite regress. IOW, the very idea that there are different kinds of beliefs entrenches the idea that there are ideas that we cannot criticize.

    No, you miss the point. You can attempt to criticize a foundational view and see whether or not you are able to do so successfully, but when you realize that you are not only unable to successfully criticize the proposition but that your very criticism becomes self-defeating, incoherent and absurd because it relies on the truth of the very thing you’re criticizing, then it becomes madness to hold to the position that the proposition ought to be viewed as being subject to ongoing doubt.

    The assumption that it relies on the truth in a foundational manner is the point.

    The solution is to abandon the quest for positive justification all together and settle for critical preference for one option from a number of others. And to do so in the light of critical arguments, evidence and tests, collected and devised specifically to test those options.

    Yes, this is in conflict with the idea that beliefs must be justified by an appeal to an authority of some kind, generally some source, and this justification, or the lack ether off, is what makes the belief rational, or not rational. Experience, for example, is one such authority. God is yet another.

    No, I’m not presenting a false dichotomy. Nor am I justifying Nihilism. But I am pointing out that holding to the position that the basic rules of logic should be viewed as subject to ongoing doubt does lead to Nihilism. I reject Nihilism, just as I reject the position that I’m saying leads to it.

    You’re assuming I must ether agree with you or be a disappointed justificationist, which I’m not.

    From this article on Fallibilism….

    We used to think that there was a way to organize ourselves that would minimize errors. This is an infallibilist chimera that has been part of every tyranny since time immemorial, from the “divine right of kings” to centralized economic planning. And it is implemented by many patterns of thought that protect misconceptions in individual minds, making someone blind to evidence that he isn’t Napoleon, or making the scientific crank reinterpret peer review as a conspiracy to keep falsehoods in place.

    Popper’s answer is: We can hope to detect and eliminate error if we set up traditions of criticism—substantive criticism, directed at the content of ideas, not their sources, and directed at whether they solve the problems that they purport to solve. Here is another apparent paradox, for a tradition is a set of ideas that stay the same, while criticism is an attempt to change ideas. But there is no contradiction. Our systems of checks and balances are steeped in traditions—such as freedom of speech and of the press, elections, and parliamentary procedures, the values behind concepts of contract and of tort—that survive not because they are deferred to but precisely because they are not: They themselves are continually criticized, and either survive criticism (which allows them to be adopted without deference) or are improved (for example, when the franchise is extended, or slavery abolished). Democracy, in this conception, is not a system for enforcing obedience to the authority of the majority. In the bigger picture, it is a mechanism for promoting the creation of consent, by creating objectively better ideas, by eliminating errors from existing ones.

    “Our whole problem,” said the physicist John Wheeler, “is to make the mistakes as fast as possible.” This liberating thought is more obviously true in theoretical physics than in situations where mistakes hurt. A mistake in a military operation, or a surgical operation, can kill. But that only means that whenever possible we should make the mistakes in theory, or in the laboratory; we should “let our theories die in our place,” as Popper put it. But when the enemy is at the gates, or the patient is dying, one cannot confine oneself to theory. We should abjure the traditional totalitarian assumption, still lurking in almost every educational system, that every mistake is the result of wrongdoing or stupidity. For that implies that everyone other than the stupid and the wrongdoers is infallible. Headline writers should not call every failed military strike “botched;” courts should not call every medical tragedy malpractice, even if it’s true that they “shouldn’t have happened” in the sense that lessons can be learned to prevent them from happening again. “We are all alike,” as Popper remarked, “in our infinite ignorance.” And this is a good and hopeful thing, for it allows for a future of unbounded improvement.

    Fallibilism, correctly understood, implies the possibility, not the impossibility, of knowledge, because the very concept of error, if taken seriously, implies that truth exists and can be found. The inherent limitation on human reason, that it can never find solid foundations for ideas, does not constitute any sort of limit on the creation of objective knowledge nor, therefore, on progress. The absence of foundation, whether infallible or probable, is no loss to anyone except tyrants and charlatans, because what the rest of us want from ideas is their content, not their provenance: If your disease has been cured by medical science, and you then become aware that science never proves anything but only disproves theories (and then only tentatively), you do not respond “oh dear, I’ll just have to die, then.”

    Headline writers should not call every failed military strike “botched,” and courts should not call every medical tragedy malpractice.

    The theory of knowledge is a tightrope that is the only path from A to B, with a long, hard drop for anyone who steps off on one side into “knowledge is impossible, progress is an illusion” or on the other side into “I must be right, or at least probably right.” Indeed, infallibilism and nihilism are twins. Both fail to understand that mistakes are not only inevitable, they are correctable (fallibly). Which is why they both abhor institutions of substantive criticism and error correction, and denigrate rational thought as useless or fraudulent. They both justify the same tyrannies. They both justify each other.

  102. 102
    Mung says:

    Aleta: My question now is this: can anyone give an example of a logical argument that uses A = A to help advance the argument?

    What do you mean?

    You could devise an experiment. Go to the grocery store and try to convince them you are buying cheese and not bacon when they are scanning the item labeled BACON. You could even try changing the labels and insisting it’s cheese and not bacon.

  103. 103
    Aleta says:

    Mung, I’m talking about a link in a serious chain of reasoning about some aspect of the world. For instance, we use such things as the transitive property, logical conditionals, the law of the excluded middle, etc., all the time. However, A = A, it seems to me, doesn’t advance any argument, so I’m thinking it’s not used in real-world chains of reasoning as opposed to its uses in math such as I mentioned.

  104. 104
    Learned Hand says:

    BA,

    Where? Where can I read your position?

    *Sigh*

    Another conversation killed for the sake of the wall. If you ever feel the need to articulate a positive argument, I’d be interested in hearing it.

    SB,

    Can you be absolutely certain that you are not Mount Everest? Can you be absolutely certain that anyone who says that you are is in error? Please explain your answers as clearly as you can.

    No, and no. Obviously I don’t think I’m Mount Everest, and if someone said that I was, it wouldn’t even cross my mind that they could be right. But there are people who claim that all of existence, from me to mountains, is just an illusion—that everything that exists is all part of the same unitary thought. I think that’s bonkers, but how could I infallibly prove that it’s wrong? And if it’s not, hey, I’d be Mt Everest, or Everest would be me, or we’d both be some hippie’s idle notion.

    Coming up with outlandish scenarios seems designed to make me think, “Why that’s absurd! I could never think that, so I must be absolutely certain that it’s not true.” It’s a more positive version of BA screaming “HOLOCAUST!!!” and hoping people will mistake it for an argument or an original thought.

    But it doesn’t get at the underlying question I have. How can you know that your position, any position, is infallibly correct? I keep asking this, and keep getting nothing but increasingly panicky handwaving in response. You made a solid, good-faith answer to respond, but your responses didn’t show how we arrive at infallibility—they assumed that we have it. (Obviously only in a limited sense, I realize no one is claiming to be absolutely infallible in every way.)

    So, how do you know (a) that you can be infallibly correct, and (b) when you are infallibly correct?

    And, do you agree with the barebones position Barry has begrudgingly and gracelessly offered up? He seems to say that he can:

    A) Infallibly know that analytic propositions are amenable to infallible knowledge;
    B) Infallibly discriminate, in at least some instances, between analytic and synthetic propositions; and
    C) Infallibly tell that a specific analytic proposition is infallibly true.

    I ask because you seem willing and able to have a conversation about ideas, and I’d like to explore these.

    So, three questions, when and if you have time:

    How do you know (a) that you can be infallibly correct, and (b) when you are infallibly correct? And do you agree with Barry’s position here?

  105. 105
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:
    “If you ever feel the need to articulate a positive argument, I’d be interested in hearing it . . .”

    said the guy who is not certain he is not Mount Everest.

    LH, does it make you feel all super-duper sophisticated and intellectual when you say damn fool idiot things like that. It shouldn’t.

  106. 106
    Mung says:

    Aleta: Mung, I’m talking about a link in a serious chain of reasoning about some aspect of the world.

    Me too! You think physicists don’t rely on the law of identity? You think scientists don’t rely on the law of non-contradiction?

    Aleta: …so I’m thinking it’s not used in real-world chains of reasoning as opposed to its uses in math such as I mentioned.

    I’m confused. I offered an example of how you could test this claim. Did you try it? Want me to suggest another experiment?

    What would would it even mean to reason about some aspect of the real world absent the law of identity?

    What, exactly, would you be reasoning about?

  107. 107
    HeKS says:

    @Popperian #101,

    It seems to be a trend with you that words lose meaning.

    @HeKS#56

    I’m familiar with your views on epistemology, but I haven’t confused anything. As I pointed out in my post, when it comes to the foundational laws of logic, you don’t need to outright deny that they are true in order to uproot reason. All you need to do is assert that we should operate under an ongoing doubt that they are true. In other words, all one needs to do to burn down the universe of reason is say, “I have no good explanation for why that fundamental rule of logic would be false, and I can’t conceive of any circumstance under which it might be false, but we should all continue to hold to the view that it could very well be false.”

    Yet, your response seems to suggest you are confused. To take an idea on board for the purpose of criticism requires one to take it seriously, as if they were true in reality. If you don’t take an idea seriously, along with the rest of our current, best explanations for how the world works, then it’s unclear how we can hope to make progress.

    First of all, what is the “idea” here to be taken on board and taken seriously? Do you mean the idea that A=A, or the idea of the criticism that maybe it’s untrue that A=A? The only thing I’m confused about is how you think your comment relates to what I said.

    And, by the way, when I say this…

    As I pointed out in my post, when it comes to the foundational laws of logic, you don’t need to outright deny that they are true in order to uproot reason. All you need to do is assert that we should operate under an ongoing doubt that they are true.

    … can you figure out what the key word is there? Let me help you:

    As I pointed out in my post, when it comes to the foundational laws of logic, you don’t need to outright deny that they are true in order to uproot reason. All you need to do is assert that we should operate under an ONGOING doubt that they are true.

    It’s not that you aren’t allowed to consider doubting them. It’s that you can’t operate under the ONGOING assumption that they could very well be wrong without destroying (for yourself) any foundation for reason or argument.

    As soon as we adopt the ongoing position that the very basic principles of right reason may very well be wrong, we have necessarily abandoned the bonds of reason itself, and we give ourselves an excuse to deny any conclusion we don’t like, no matter how sound, on the grounds that logic and reason themselves may be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

    Again, you seem to be confused. You’re the one abandoning reason.

    Picking some arbitrary or dogmatic point to claim “here! I believe!” puts an arbitrary limit on criticism and reason. Doing so gives yourself an excuse to ignore criticism you do not like, on the grounds that if we do not stop somewhere, we will be left with an infinite regress. IOW, the very idea that there are different kinds of beliefs entrenches the idea that there are ideas that we cannot criticize.

    I’m not sure why you don’t seem to be getting this.

    First of all, just like Learned Hand, you seem to be confusing the fundamental rules of logic with properly basic beliefs.

    Second, it’s not that anybody is saying, “Wait! Stop there! This is some complex proposition that we must believe and have faith in and it is not open to challenge.” That’s not what’s going on here. Even in the case of properly basic beliefs I’m not claiming that, as I’ve explained to you before. But what we’re dealing with here is a self-evidently true basic rule of logic. And nobody is saying that you’re not allowed to attempt to criticize it because we must simply all put faith in it. What we’re saying to you and Learned Hand is that if you actually understand the Law of Identity, as represented by A=A, then you will notice that you can’t coherently challenge it without your challenge immediately descending into completely meaningless absurdity. The possibility of an infinite regress is not the issue here. The issue is simply basic coherence.

    No, you miss the point. You can attempt to criticize a foundational view and see whether or not you are able to do so successfully, but when you realize that you are not only unable to successfully criticize the proposition but that your very criticism becomes self-defeating, incoherent and absurd because it relies on the truth of the very thing you’re criticizing, then it becomes madness to hold to the position that the proposition ought to be viewed as being subject to ongoing doubt.

    The assumption that it relies on the truth in a foundational manner is the point.

    The solution is to abandon the quest for positive justification all together and settle for critical preference for one option from a number of others. And to do so in the light of critical arguments, evidence and tests, collected and devised specifically to test those options.

    Yes, this is in conflict with the idea that beliefs must be justified by an appeal to an authority of some kind, generally some source, and this justification, or the lack ether off, is what makes the belief rational, or not rational. Experience, for example, is one such authority. God is yet another.

    You’re really not getting this. You need to stop trying to sell your epistemological philosophy and actually think for a moment. That bit that I bolded in your comment above … it’s an example of what I mean when I say that words lose all meaning with you. If the Law of Identity (or any of the other basic rules of logic) is false, then the bolded statement is literally impossible. You are proposing using a methodology to criticize a basic rule of logic where the methodology itself relies on that basic rule of logic being true. Again, as I’ve said, rational criticism or argument of any sort is utterly impossible if the basic rules of logic do not hold, so how exactly do you propose to meaningfully criticize the truth of the basic rules of logic without first accepting that those basic rules of logic are true? You must assume them to be true in order to attempt to undermine their truth, and if you somehow manage to magically succeed in undermining their truth, you necessarily undercut the validity of your argument against them.

    And as for the article on Fallibilism that you quote from … it necessarily assumes the validity of the basic rules of logic. If it didn’t, nothing that it suggests would even be possible. Have you ever actually found any article promoting Fallibilism in which people are encouraged to nurture an ongoing doubt about the validity of the basic rules of logic themselves?

  108. 108
    HeKS says:

    @LH #104,

    And, do you agree with the barebones position Barry has begrudgingly and gracelessly offered up? He seems to say that he can:

    A) Infallibly know that analytic propositions are amenable to infallible knowledge;
    B) Infallibly discriminate, in at least some instances, between analytic and synthetic propositions; and
    C) Infallibly tell that a specific analytic proposition is infallibly true.

    I really don’t know where your head is at with this stuff, except that you just seem not to understand these concepts.

    An analytic proposition is one that is true BY DEFINITION.

    For example, the statement “all bachelors are unmarried” is an analytic proposition. It is necessarily and infallibly true because it is true by definition. The concept of “unmarried” is included in the concept of “bachelor” by definition. In order to be a bachelor, one must be unmarried. When you understand the statement, you understand that it cannot possibly be false. The only way you can try to make it false is by arbitrarily changing the meaning of one or both of the words, but then it would stop being an analytic proposition, and you would know for a fact that it was no longer an analytic proposition because you would see that it is no longer necessarily true by definition.

    So, with your A, B and C above…

    A) Yes, Barry can infallibly know that analytic propositions are amenable to infallible knowledge, because they are true by definition, which makes it impossible for them to be false.

    B) Yes, Barry can infallibly discriminate between analytic and synthetic propositions in any case where he can understand the proposition in question, since that will allow him to determine whether or not the predicate is included in the subject. If it is, it’s an analytic proposition. If it’s not, then it’s not.

    C) Yes, Barry can infallibly tell that a particular analytic proposition is true when it has been identified as such, because all analytic propositions are necessarily true by definition.

  109. 109
    StephenB says:

    [LH is not absolutely certain that he is not Mount Everest].

    Coming up with outlandish scenarios seems designed to make me think, “Why that’s absurd!

    Yes, I admit I was kind of hoping that it would turn on the light for you.

    How do you know (a) that you can be infallibly correct, and (b) when you are infallibly correct? And do you agree with Barry’s position here?

    [a] Let me call on my own example. I am infallibly certain that I am not Mount Everest for thousands of reasons. I will list only four: First, Mount Everest is very big and I am very small by comparison. Big cannot also be small. Second, Mount Everest is thousands of miles away from me, so I can’t be where I am and also at that location. “There” cannot also be “here.” Third, Mount Everest is inorganic matter that cannot think; I am matter and spirit with the faculty of intellect. Non intelligence cannot also be intelligence. Fourth, and most important, I cannot be what I am and also be something else. A cannot also be B.

    [b] I am infallibly correct when I acknowledge the first principles of right reason. On all other things, I am fallible. I could not even detect my own fallibility except in the context of infallibly certain first principles, just as I could not detect my errors in reasoning except in the context of reason’s infallible rules. If there is no such thing as perfection, then there can be no such thing as a mistake. If there is no such thing as a standard of truth, then there can be no such thing as an error that violates that standard.

    [c] Yes, I agree fully with Barry. Also, I hold that the Law of Identity is the ontological component of the psychological law of non-contradiction. Both are infallibly true and inseparable. The former is the logic of reality and nature, the latter is the logic of mind and thought, each perfectly corresponding to the other.

  110. 110
    Mung says:

    HeKS:

    if you actually understand the Law of Identity, as represented by A=A, then you will notice that you can’t coherently challenge it without your challenge immediately descending into completely meaningless absurdity.

    claps

    Over at TSZ they insist the A on the left represents something different from the A on the right and that the equals sign means equality.

  111. 111
    kairosfocus says:

    Aleta,

    100: >>can anyone give an example of a logical argument that uses A = A to help advance the argument?

    Examples from math are easy. In solving 2x – 5 = 17, students write 5 = 5 in order to “add 5 to both sides of the equation”, invoking a principle from Euclid that “if equals are added to equals, then the wholes are equal.”

    But is there any example of a use of A = A in a logical chain of reasoning about the real world that adds anything to the argument? A = A is true, but outside of pure logic, is it ever useful?>>

    103: >>we use such things as the transitive property, logical conditionals, the law of the excluded middle, etc., all the time. However, A = A, it seems to me, doesn’t advance any argument, so I’m thinking it’s not used in real-world chains of reasoning as opposed to its uses in math such as I mentioned.>>

    First, in thinking, arguing and speaking we must recognise and respect distinct identities if we are to be sound. Echoing Aristotle, truth says of what is [A], that it is [A = A], and of what is not [~A] that it is not [~A != A].

    That immediately brings to bear all three laws: identity is recognised, antithesis between a thing and not the thing is respected, dichotomy is understood.

    And, the three are inseparable.

    We recognise distinct identity A, and the world partition:

    W, the world

    A in W, a distinct thing

    ~A in W, what is not that thing

    W = {A|~A}, partition that exhausts W

    LOI: (A=>A) = 1, where in this case single implication entails equivalence.

    LNC: (A AND ~A) = 0

    LEM: x in W => x is in A or else in ~A due to the partition

    In very practical terms, many issues hinge on recognising that a distinct identity pivots on core characteristics so that relabelling not-a-thing as though it were the thing fails. Likewise, relabelling a thing as though it were not the thing, fails too.

    Lincoln’s folksy example of relabelling the tail of a sheep a “leg” and insisting that a sheep must now be reckoned as having five legs is aptly illustrative of the problem.

    And, it speaks quite directly to the situation of policy making, liberty and justice and war. Notice his second inaugural:

    AT this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

    On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

    One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

    With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

    A big part of the run-up to the US civil war of the 1860’s pivoted on refusing to recognise that a black man is just as much a man as any other and so if by endowment of the Creator there is an unalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit untrammelled of happiness/ purpose one is here for, then surely a black descriptive modifier does not alter the fact that a man is a man. And if more was needed, many a white man fathered children upon a black slave woman; often under conditions where because of her enslaved status she had no recourse of refusal and no respect of being wife or even concubine.

    The leg of a sheep is a leg, the tail of a sheep hath not the characteristics and cannot be a leg.

    So, if a black enslaved woman can have fertile children when her white massa’s son or massa himself takes a fancy to her, even under circumstances tantamount to rape, that already shows that we are “of one blood” . . . one common kind of life as “the life of the flesh is in the blood.” (That ties to Ac 17, in the same scriptures read by all.)

    Refusal to recognise and respect distinct identity (here, held in common by whites and blacks) was the pivot of what led to war. In a context where a key argument for union in the Federalist Papers was that union was the best means of securing the peace, the common good and a prosperous future. As the history of regional divisions, alienation and wars in Europe so clearly showed.

    In our day, it is highly arguable that refusal to recognise that the unborn child is as we all once were and at minimum should have the benefit of doubts is an engine driving the worst holocaust in human history, which in turn enmeshes the public, parliaments, courts, police and more across our whole civilisation in the terrible blinding and benumbing power of bloodguilt.

    As one direct consequence, in the leading country of our civilisation, leadership from the party of mass abortion is implicated in many other things and the other party on average is half-hearted.

    Some kinds go not out save by scripture so let me put it this way: they say peace, peace, when there is no peace.

    In such a context where there is a habit of refusal to acknowledge that the right hand side restates what is on the left hand side . . . what equals means . . . we now face a policy of enabling the leading terrorism sponsoring nation in the world in its determination to acquire nuclear weapons as the effective means of intended genocide.

    Linked to that there is a refusal to acknowledge that per foundational history, texts and policy sustained for 1400 years, there has been a major militarily backed or implemented IslamIST expansionism. Indeed, I find it interesting in a saddening, sobering way, how — while the media are ever so eager to pounce on all sorts of convenient stories — there has been persistent refusal to have a sustained focus on things like the Muslim Brotherhood’s 100 year global conquest plan (which I first found online on Sept 11 2001, along with recipes for building nukes when I sought to understand what was going on), or the papers documenting the settlement-jihad strategy (mass immigration of the violently hostile is invasion), and more.

    So, I find that being willing to recognise distinct identity and acknowledge that a certain implement with a long handle and a wide thin blade at one end shaped for digging into and lifting the soil is a spade is pivotal.

    In short, are we willing to acknowledge that a spade is indeed a spade?

    Scripture, again, from 2700 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.

    25
    Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people,
    and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them,
    and the mountains quaked;
    and their corpses were as refuse
    in the midst of the streets.
    For all this his anger has not turned away,
    and his hand is stretched out still.

    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.

    The price for apostasy and twisting truth into falsity, calling darkness light and light darkness is destructive defeat by way of fatally weakening oneself through marches of folly that “draw iniquity with cords of falsehood.”

    A is A, A = A.

    Calling A by its right name and acknowledging its right definition is a first step to wisdom.

    A sound, thorough and accurate vocabulary or dictionary or encyclopedia — Wiki[d . . . ]pedia this speaks to you — is a revolutionary act of courage in an evil day.

    A is A.

    The tail of a sheep is not, cannot be a leg.

    A leg is a leg.

    It all starts with truthfully acknowledging (or with ill-advised refusal to acknowledge . . .) distinct identity.

    A = A.

    KF

  112. 112
  113. 113

    One wonders if LH considers the certainty of the statement “I exist” fallible.

  114. 114

    @william j murray

    One can have a feeling of emptiness, and a feeling to be utterly destroyed.

    Certainly I do not get the impression my existence is acknowledged by materialists, when they refer to my body, brain, some psychological mechanisms at work in my mind, environmental influences, genetic influences, whatever. They seem to miss the point of acknowledging who I am as being the owner of my decisions. In fact they make a point of it to go out of their way to expressly not acknowledge the existence of my soul.

  115. 115
    Aleta says:

    Mung and kf: you are mis-interpreting my question. A = A is fundamental, and it assumes/establishes distinct identity as a fundamental logical property. I’m not questioning that in the least bit.

    I also understand its use in mathematics. What I can’t think of is a place in a chain or real-world reasoning where add a step that says A = A. Its so basic that it is not a step in a chain of reasoning as much as an underlying agreement that the things we are talking about retain their identity throughout the argument.

  116. 116
    eigenstate says:

    There’s confusion and conflation at work here regarding what A=A represents, epistemically. I get a chuckle reading Barry stumble around the analytic/synthetic distinction, when this is precisely the problematic concept for him. As I recall, Barry was concerned that that Jupiter was somehow at risk of not being Jupiter in a view that wasn’t confused about the nature or limits of A-A. Stephen B here demonstrates the same confusion in regaling us with — I kid you not — his reasons why he is not Denali. Big cannot be small… gotcha.

    I understand Learned Hand’s point, and agree. But LH, help the brothas out instead of fueling their confusion, eh. A=A is infallibly true and not dubitable as an analytic proposition. That’s the nature of a tautology. It’s prescriptive, it’s true by definition, and it’s indispensable as an analytic process. Barry (and apparently StephenB and others) only understand the LOI in a crude folk sense, so this distinction needs to be pointed out again and again. Barry invokes the terms, but he doesn’t understand them, or how to apply them. If he did, he wouldn’t be using an analytic concept as the “proof” of a synthetic proposition — see Jupiter, Denali, particle/wave duality, etc.

    If we are devising tools for thought, creating definitions and axioms for thinking and communicating, they are simply true by definition. They are not true (or false) as statements about the extra-mental world. To confuse these is to confuse definitions (analytic) with real word dynamics (synthetic).

    It’s pointless to insist on A=A being dubitable as an analytic proposition. Definitions are not subject to doubt. Those definitions may be ill-advised for employing for purposes of engaging the real world, but a definition is just a definition.

    As soon as Barry or others want to insist on A=A as a synthetic “law”, as a scientific or physical principle, they have gone off the reservation, and do not have a leg to stand on. Nature is not beholden to our definitions. We can define terms and deploy axioms for reasoning all we like, but the extra-mental world is under no obligation to comply. As it happens, the physical world a macro-scales does have a consistent and regular nature that makes many of our foundational concepts, including LOI, useful, successful in developing and refining (synthetic) knowledge. But these tools are only as useful as they are successful, and for all of pre-modern experience of the world, intuitive folk-philosophy–shot-from-the-hip did not militate against simplistic jumps from analytic A=A to some synthetic analog, that a physical thing is “only one way, to the exclusion of other ways (or modes)”.

    Whoops. That’s just not compatible with the knowledge and experience we have, now. A=A remains as unassailable as an analytic concept as every. Axioms cannot be assailed. But the conflation of analytic and synthetic, which Barry has made a trusty habit in his posts, puts one square at odds with our experiences with the real world. More, um, agile thinkers can step back a bit and, for instance, apply the LOT even to particle/wave duality, by observing that such a duality subsists in a way still excludes other modes of being, and thereby complies with A=A at a higher level of description, even though it confounds the country bumpkin way of thinking about the LOI.

    In any case, in reading through this thread, the cringe factor is high, even for UD, because of the confusion that pervades the LOI-fetishists’ comments, repeatedly using A=A interchangeably as a definition and as a physical principle that is somehow binding on nature because we loves ourselves some definitions, y’all.

  117. 117
    Barry Arrington says:

    eigenstate

    I understand Learned Hand’s point, and agree . . . A=A is infallibly true and not dubitable as an analytic proposition.

    As usual, you start off your argument by contradicting yourself. You say you agree with LH, and then you say A=A is not dubitable. But that is exactly what LH is asserting. Fail 1.

    That’s the nature of a tautology. It’s prescriptive, it’s true by definition, and it’s indispensable as an analytic process.

    True, but again you disagree with LH. Fail 2.

    Barry (and apparently StephenB and others) only understand the LOI in a crude folk sense,

    What would an talk with eigy be without him asserting the “folk” nonsense?

    If he did, he wouldn’t be using an analytic concept as the “proof” of a synthetic proposition — see Jupiter, Denali, particle/wave duality, etc.

    Just exactly the opposite of what I did. Eigy, really, if you are going to criticize me, then you really need to stop misrepresenting my position, which can be easily checked up thread. I am the one who told LH he needed to learn the difference between an analytic proposition (A=A) and a synthetic proposition (particle/wave duality). Now you say I don’t understand that difference. Fail again. That’s three fails and we haven’t gotten past your opening.

    If we are devising tools for thought, creating definitions and axioms for thinking and communicating, they are simply true by definition.

    Again, you agree with me and not LH. Fail 4. By the way, aren’t you the one who says that “thinking” is just what the brain does; that you are not conscious under the “folk” conception of that word. What sense is there in a “rule” of thought if there is no free will and thought is wholly determined physical process. Fail 5.

    They are not true (or false) as statements about the extra-mental world.

    Again, you agree with me and not LH. Fail 6.

    To confuse these is to confuse definitions (analytic) with real word dynamics (synthetic).

    Which is exactly what LH has done. But you say you agree with him. All well. That’s seven fails, and we are still in your opening.

    It’s pointless to insist on A=A being dubitable as an analytic proposition.

    Yet LH insist on that very thing, vehemently. And you say you agree with him. Fail 8.

    Definitions are not subject to doubt.

    Yet LH, with whom you say you agree, doubts them. Fail 9.

    As soon as Barry or others want to insist on A=A as a synthetic “law”, as a scientific or physical principle, they have gone off the reservation, and do not have a leg to stand on.

    Fortunately, I have never insisted that an analytic proposition is a synthetic proposition. Fail 10. You really should go back and re-read what I’ve written. This time try reading for comprehension.

    Nature is not beholden to our definitions. We can define terms and deploy axioms for reasoning all we like, but the extra-mental world is under no obligation to comply. As it happens, the physical world a macro-scales does have a consistent and regular nature that makes many of our foundational concepts, including LOI, useful, successful in developing and refining (synthetic) knowledge.

    False. In fact rationality itself and science that presupposes rationally comprehensible universe are both impossible if the law of identity is not true both epistemologically and ontologically. This is obvious. Your rejection of this obvious truth is, where are we now, Fail 11.

    Whoops. That’s just not compatible with the knowledge and experience we have, now. A=A remains as unassailable as an analytic concept as every. Axioms cannot be assailed. But the conflation of analytic and synthetic, which Barry has made a trusty habit in his posts,

    Fail 12. Unless we count this and Fail 3 and this one as a single fail.

    puts one square at odds with our experiences with the real world. More, um, agile thinkers can step back a bit and, for instance, apply the LOT even to particle/wave duality, by observing that such a duality subsists in a way still excludes other modes of being, and thereby complies with A=A at a higher level of description, even though it confounds the country bumpkin way of thinking about the LOI.

    I agree that the LOI applies at every level of investigation. You suggest I don’t. Fail 13.

    In any case, in reading through this thread, the cringe factor is high,

    In reading through your single comment that so far as 13 fails, I could say the same thing.

    even for UD, because of the confusion that pervades the LOI-fetishists’ comments, repeatedly using A=A interchangeably as a definition and as a physical principle that is somehow binding on nature because we loves ourselves some definitions, y’all.

    Fail 14, already addressed above. Wow Eigy, you have a talent for tightly compacting several falsehoods into a small space. You should consider a career in writing political speeches.

  118. 118
    Popperian says:

    @HeKS#107

    This series of OPs started with trying to point out that what we end up with are moral problems to solve. Unless one can infallibly identify an infallible source, then infallibly interpret it, how does Barry, or anyone else, have any other recourse other than to conjecture solutions to moral problems, then criticize them? No one has explained how this is possible, in practice.

    In the same sense, how do you infallibly know anything is indeed an A instead of a B or something else we haven’t identified yet? Unless you do, A=A isn’t actually going to help you solve problems, in practice.

    And you’re asking why I’m having such “difficulty getting it”?

    IOW, if criticism really does rest on A=A, but you cannot infallibly identify anything as an A then, by your own foundational “standard” there can be no criticism, knowledge, etc. That’s what I mean by holding knowledge and reason hostage.

    What is the alternative?

    If you’re familiar with epistemology, I’m a Popperian in that we start out with a problem, or for which we conjecture solutions to that problem, then criticize those solution and discard errors we find. That’s my “view” on the growth of knowledge.

    This includes giving up the quest for justificationism.

    To summarize, with each infallible authority described in each OP, one has had to use reason and criticism to determine when defer to the supposedly infallible authority. Reason always comes first. Regardless if that authoritative sources is God, our senses, or even A=A.

    A=A is an extremely hard to vary explanation, just as 2+2=4. I know of no good expansions that suggest otherwise, Bad explanations would be along the lines that just some things are liable to be something other than what it is, while others are not, or that some capricious being decides to occasionally break this rule for fun, etc.

  119. 119
    StephenB says:

    eigenstate

    Stephen B here demonstrates the same confusion in regaling us with — I kid you not — his reasons why he is not Denali. Big cannot be small… gotcha.

    eigenstate, I will be happy to help you with your confusion about my alleged confusion if you could humor me by articulating your point..

  120. 120
    StephenB says:

    eigenstate

    Nature is not beholden to our definitions.

    eigenstate, it is obvious that you do not know the meaning of the word “Identity” as it pertains to the law of identity. Would you like for me to explain it to you? No one here thinks that our definitions affect nature.

    Meanwhile, don’t try to judge Barry’s methodology by comparing it to my methodology, or vice versa. We are making the same point albeit from a different vantagepoint.

    The funny thing about truth is that it can be explained many ways. Error can be explained only one way because it has no substance worth probing.

  121. 121
    Aleta says:

    What Eigenstate said, and my point all along, although I’ve gone about expressing it differently – as the difference between logic itself, which is true within its own domain, and applying logic to the real world via a model which must be tested.

  122. 122
  123. 123
    Aleta says:

    StephenB writes, “No one here thinks that our definitions affect nature.”

    Good.

    Also, I would be interested in how you would define “Identity” as it pertains to the law of identity. Kf and I have mentioned how, we have to clarify what has a “distinct identity” in order to use logic in the real world, but it seems to me that an “identity” A is so foundational that one might consider it an undefined term, like “point” in geometry.

    So, I’d be interested in how you would describe/explain the meaning of A in logic.

    Thanks

  124. 124
    eigenstate says:

    As usual, you start off your argument by contradicting yourself. You say you agree with LH, and then you say A=A is not dubitable. But that is exactly what LH is asserting. Fail 1.

    Learned Hand can correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that his doubt is not (and he’d agree cannot be) aimed at a definition. Rather, Learned Hand has been arguing for the epistemic limitations of mapping the LOI over to a “synthetic axiom”, an unassailable principle about nature, about the extra-mental world. In that, he puts the case mildly, if anything, and has basically overlooked your continued conflation and equivocation on knowledge throughout. I think he’s ignored your obvious blunders to focus on finer points that are difficult to even address in a conversation with someone who thinks an analytical proposition determines how the extra-mental world behaves, just because it’s an analytical proposition.

    That’s the nature of a tautology. It’s prescriptive, it’s true by definition, and it’s indispensable as an analytic process.

    True, but again you disagree with LH. Fail 2.

    No, LH is free to confirm your idea that he and I disagree, but I’d be surprised to hear that he disagrees. You have a terrible track record of misrepresenting what your critics are saying, and I think here again you’ve not understood LH’s focus on A=A as a proposition of synthetic knowledge. This is not hard to conclude at all if you read him, as he’s talking about doubt and fallibility — these are not traits of definitions or axioms, but epistemic factors in thinking about the extra-mental world. It’s quite clear neither your or StephenB have a working knowledge of the difference here, or your would not be using A=A to argue that “Jupiter might not be there” or “I am not Denali” (in Stephen’s case). I can go back and inundate you with quotes of your posts from previous threads that demonstrate quite clearly that you do not understand this basic distinction.

    LH, naively, I suspect, credits you with understanding this, and argues accordingly. His comments are perfectly understandable in response to you if I take as a premise that he supposes you have this basic understanding which you do not. LH, please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong and you DO in fact suppose that a definition can be “false” as a definition.

    Barry (and apparently StephenB and others) only understand the LOI in a crude folk sense,

    What would an talk with eigy be without him asserting the “folk” nonsense?

    Barry, it’s a very charitable characterization, given what you’re committed to here in terms of your reasoning and argumentation. You’re welcome for the generosity I show in referring to it that way.

    If he did, he wouldn’t be using an analytic concept as the “proof” of a synthetic proposition — see Jupiter, Denali, particle/wave duality, etc.

    Just exactly the opposite of what I did. Eigy, really, if you are going to criticize me, then you really need to stop misrepresenting my position, which can be easily checked up thread. I am the one who told LH he needed to learn the difference between an analytic proposition (A=A) and a synthetic proposition (particle/wave duality). Now you say I don’t understand that difference. Fail again. That’s three fails and we haven’t gotten past your opening.

    Barry, it’s pretty clear you know how to google words and get shallow and often humorous “skim-reading” misconceptions from your fake learning. Your reference to analytic/synthetic distinctions above just makes me grin, remembering the “can Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time” argument, standing our your confusing the LOI for a synthetic principle of nature. That is, if you meant what you said above, er — if you actually understood it, you would not have said innumerable things you’ve said on the subject over the last couple years. Your posting history condemns you here. It’s not even close — you don’t understand the distinction. If you did — even vaguely, you could not have posted and argued what you have over the last long while.

    If we are devising tools for thought, creating definitions and axioms for thinking and communicating, they are simply true by definition.

    Again, you agree with me and not LH. Fail 4. By the way, aren’t you the one who says that “thinking” is just what the brain does; that you are not conscious under the “folk” conception of that word. What sense is there in a “rule” of thought if there is no free will and thought is wholly determined physical process. Fail 5.

    Not in the least relevant here. Happy to follow your distraction here in an another thread, but not interested in the bunny trail here.

    I’ve read all of LH’s posts on this thread, and I think I’m current with him on the related threads, and I don’t see any disagreement. He’s free to confirm that he and I disagree. I think what disagreement we have is in the practical benefit of not hammering away at the elephant in the room first — your conflation problem with definitions and the dynamics of the extra-mental world. He clearly sees benefit in ignoring your difficulties in this area. I see your disability on this question to be pretty much a show-stopper to anything further on the subject. You’re not equipped any more than StephenB to engage on the merits of the real world if you can’t see the distinction between the LOI as analytic and a tool for thinking and reality not giving a damn what definitions we care to use — it is what it is, regardless.

  125. 125
    Aleta says:

    to KF, re 122: Yes, I read 111. I’ve agreed several times with your point that “First, in thinking, arguing and speaking we must recognise and respect distinct identities if we are to be sound.” I’m not sure why you directed me there again.

  126. 126
    eigenstate says:

    They are not true (or false) as statements about the extra-mental world.

    Again, you agree with me and not LH. Fail 6.

    I suspect LH will be willing to weigh in here and clear this up. Clearly, one of us is confused about LH’s ideas. I don’t think it’s me, but stand to be corrected. LH has been arguing about the veridicality of any analytical proposition as a principle that obtains synthetically. He’s in the safe spot of defending the idea that we don’t have any basis for supposing that the extra-mental world is beholden to our definitions, our analytic postulates.

    I am not holding my breath, but if you re-read the thread with the understanding that he thought you were up to speed on definitions vs. physical principles, the whole exchange makes sense. I feel quite comfortable in understanding LH’s comments, and frustrations if I just insert the idea that he either (over)graciously has overlooked your problem here, or possibly just didn’t see the fail at that level.

    To confuse these is to confuse definitions (analytic) with real word dynamics (synthetic).

    Which is exactly what LH has done. But you say you agree with him. All well. That’s seven fails, and we are still in your opening.

    OK, we’ll let Learned Hand adjudicate this, and tell us if he doubts definitions, or supposes that a definition can be false as a definition.

    It’s good to remember that you are the one who went all in on refuting quantum mechanics based on the LOI. Yes, that was you, all in on the “absurdity” of of synthetic knowledge in light of it’s problematic nature for simplistic definitions you clear understand to be binding on all of nature, suborning all of physics down to the behavior of each fermion and boson.

    You have perhaps just now happened upon this crucial distinction, but your posting history, again, shows your error on this over and over and over…

    As soon as Barry or others want to insist on A=A as a synthetic “law”, as a scientific or physical principle, they have gone off the reservation, and do not have a leg to stand on.

    Fortunately, I have never insisted that an analytic proposition is a synthetic proposition. Fail 10. You really should go back and re-read what I’ve written. This time try reading for comprehension.

    So, can Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time? Ring a bell? We can go through that, carefully, and show the falsehood of what you claim here. Or were arguing for an alternate scientific model that refuted particle/wave duality or superposition? Not. Your LOI-as-synthetic-knowledge fail is all over those threads. Go have a look before you respond more, and save yourself some embarrassment.

    Nature is not beholden to our definitions. We can define terms and deploy axioms for reasoning all we like, but the extra-mental world is under no obligation to comply. As it happens, the physical world a macro-scales does have a consistent and regular nature that makes many of our foundational concepts, including LOI, useful, successful in developing and refining (synthetic) knowledge.

    False. In fact rationality itself and science that presupposes rationally comprehensible universe are both impossible if the law of identity is not true both epistemologically and ontologically. This is obvious. Your rejection of this obvious truth is, where are we now, Fail 11.

    No, science only presupposes that nature behaves in ways that are comprehensible such that we might build models that reify that comprehension. There’s no presupposition in science that nature is exhaustively comprehensible. Instead, it simply acknowledges a truism: that we will only comprehend what we are capable of comprehending in nature, and makes efforts to see what dynamics and characteristics of nature are comprehensible. This does not and cannot entail exhaustive intelligibility. And this is what many discoveries in modern science show – we can build fantastically accurate models, but some aspects that we include in the model are fundamentally incomprehensible to us. We can make precise, novel predictions, but yet cannot really grasp superposition or particle/wave duality.

    That is reasoning in action. We reason about what we can comprehend and what remains incomprehensible. Some aspects of nature remain incomprehensible. And by that, I don’t mean just “unknown” or undiscovered, but rather that they defy resolution in terms of our otherwise very handing tools for thinking about the world.

    Whoops. That’s just not compatible with the knowledge and experience we have, now. A=A remains as unassailable as an analytic concept as every. Axioms cannot be assailed. But the conflation of analytic and synthetic, which Barry has made a trusty habit in his posts,

    Fail 12. Unless we count this and Fail 3 and this one as a single fail.
    LH can weigh in on whether he thinks a definition he creates can be doubted. Maybe you will revisit the question of whether Jupiter can exist/not-exist as a question that is — wait for it — self-evidently resolved by the LOI. Is extra-mental world beholden to your analytical concept of the LOI, Barry?

    puts one square at odds with our experiences with the real world. More, um, agile thinkers can step back a bit and, for instance, apply the LOT even to particle/wave duality, by observing that such a duality subsists in a way still excludes other modes of being, and thereby complies with A=A at a higher level of description, even though it confounds the country bumpkin way of thinking about the LOI.

    I agree that the LOI applies at every level of investigation. You suggest I don’t. Fail 13.

    You see, the way you put this just establishes your confusion on the analytic/synthetic distinction. If you understand the concept — you type in the words in the keyboard, but you don’t have understanding of the concepts behind them — you would not say the “LOI applies at every level of investigation”. LOI is a reasoning tool, it’s not a natural principle. We “apply” our thinking skills at every level of description, that IN NO WAY binds nature to behave in accordance with our axioms, or against them. The map is not the territory. Your error is more broad: the map does not define the territory. The territory is what it is, our map is a best-effort description of the territory (best effort for some more than others, it seems).

    Lest you think I’m interested in the merits of particle/wave duality as science, here, I’m not. Doesn’t matter either way how one comes down on that matter. Instead, I’m focusing on the problem of supposing the LOI confines or determines how nature behaves, and/or whether nature is obligated to be comprehensible or “rational” in a hillbilly sense of the term. I’m not looking for you to get up to speed on the science, but rather to recognize the error seeing the LOI — an indispensable analytical tool — as a plenopotentiary metaphysic, as a definition that commands reality to conform to it, necessarily. Happily, science can demonstrate great progress in building models that show the intelligibilty of nature in many respects. We use the LOI to great effect there, ubiquitously. But it’s only successful because it works with those aspects of nature. If there aspects of nature that don’t fit neatly with exclusionary principles like the LOI, whaddya gonna due, sue nature for relief?

    Observing that we use the LOI to think about the world is trivial. It doesn’t tell us a think about the real world, other than we are able to embark on the project of thinking about the world via the LOI (and other tools).

    If you’re nodding and thinking “I agree”, well, you have a whole lot of posts to recant. You’ve cast your lot with the LOI as normative, as prescriptive, over and over and over. I get that. I was raised to think like that, too. I even had the wonderful opportunity to get “pre-suppositionalist apologetics” training at the intellectual nadir of my upbringing, and if you are familiar with that nonsense, you will understand that “right reason” is not just (or even) an axiom, it’s an endowment from God, and therefore trustworthy to underwrite everything else, and worthy of subjecting all else to it. A kind of de fide grant of authority over all of reality. Reality really is beholden to human reasoning, because God gave us our reason, and designed the world so that it could be comprehended with human reasoning, blah, blah, blah…

    That’s problematic in itself, but for our purposes here, it confounds any non-trivial examination of the physical world. If you suppose the world is designed from the ground up to conform neatly to your concept of the LOI, you’re just going to… well, you’re going to post like you do, putting your fingers in your ears, when confronted with strange and well-demonstrated aspects of reality that defy such neat categorization and simplistic thinking.

  127. 127
    kairosfocus says:

    ES,

    before we ever get to stating that A = A, we have to reckon with the reality of distinct things that are identifiable, which can start with our first undeniable fact, self-aware existence. That is what effects the partition that underlies our recognition W = {A|~A}.

    It is in reflection of that reality that we accept the ontology that A is, and in being, it is itself and not the other that it is not, ~A. To try to speak, think or write, we depend on distinct identity, it is thus undeniable and undeniably real. The statement A is A, or (A=>A) = 1, is a reflection of that.

    Now, I also see an echo of yet another classical self-referentially erroneous claim, the ugly unbridgeable gulch between inner and outer worlds. By the 1890’s F H Bradley had already spotted the fatal error in this. Namely to assert the unknowability of the external world of things in themselves is self-referential. It is a very strong knowledge claim about that world, and so it refutes itself.

    A safer step is to start with the undeniable claim, error exists, which implies that knowledge of truth exists. So, while there are errors, there are things that are not.

    And in particular, some truths about the world are self-evident.

    Among such are the immediate consequences of distinct identity, LOI, LNC and LEM. When we try to deny such, we undermine rationality itself.

    Which is where playing the doubt card becomes a fallacy.

    Do you really wish to deny that distinct identity exists or what is much the same reserve a doubt card to play whenever it suits you?

    And that is why this cluster of issues is so crucial, it is not just analytic statements, but in this case statements that do bridge to reality and to the world of thought.

    In ways that have had grave impact across history.

    KF

  128. 128
    eigenstate says:

    eigenstate, it is obvious that you do not know the meaning of the word “Identity” as it pertains to the law of identity. Would you like for me to explain it to you? No one here thinks that our definitions affect nature.

    I think your problem, and Barry’s, is worse. You understand that your definitions *define* nature. Or, to put it another way, that nature can only subsist in accordance with your definitions.

    Let’s just get it out on the table: do you hold that it is logically possible for nature to behave and subsist in ways that are at odds with the tools you rightly identify as necessary and obligatory for reasoning?

    Give me your answer on that, and that will establish some clear semantics for “identity”. The “identity” in “Law of Identity” is conceptual, logical. It pertains to patterns of human thought. This is NOT a physical principle, it is not a natural law, if you prefer that term. Agree?

    Meanwhile, don’t try to judge Barry’s methodology by comparing it to my methodology, or vice versa. We are making the same point albeit from a different vantagepoint.

    Oh I’m sure you both come at things from a different angle, fine. But clearly, you both are in the same point of confusion/conflation on the question of identity as a logical principle for thinking, versus a physical principle in nature. As I said to to Barry, raised a fundie I understand the confusion. Christians see a unity underneath the analytical tools “God gave us” and the intelligibility of the universe He designed for us. That explains, but doesn’t excuse the error. The axiom is just that — an axiom. We have perfectly no warrant for conflating an logical axiom with a physical principle, religious superstitions notwithstanding.

    The funny thing about truth is that it can be explained many ways. Error can be explained only one way because it has no substance worth probing.

    What an odd thing to say. Astrology is incorrect in its claims, just like Chrisitanity. But they are both substantial and in wrong in different ways. Doesn’t seem germane, here, so won’t say more than that. A little touch of surreality at the end of the post never hurt anyone, I guess. 😉

  129. 129
    Aleta says:

    Eigenstate asks a good question:

    Let’s just get it out on the table: do you hold that it is logically possible for nature to behave and subsist in ways that are at odds with the tools you rightly identify as necessary and obligatory for reasoning?

    However, Eigenstate’s phrase “logically possible” perhaps confuses the issue – perhaps it would be better to rephrase the question as

    is it possible for nature to behave and subsist in ways that are at odds with the tools you rightly identify as necessary and obligatory for reasoning?

    Eigenstate can comment on whether he think my point has any validity or not.

  130. 130
    Aleta says:

    Interestingly enough, kf writes at 127,

    before we ever get to stating that A = A, we have to reckon with the reality of distinct things that are identifiable,

    This is interesting because it seems to say that our experience of things in the world precedes our rule about reasoning that A = A. I agree with this – the macroscopic human experience that there are indeed “things” which are clearly distinct from all that they are not, and which retain that identity as they persist in time and space, is the basic starting point for both our logic and our math that starts with counting.

    Would you agree with this re-phrasing of your point, kf?

    And would you be able to answer more-or-less just that question without too much repetition of posts you have already made? I’m trying to isolate a few points in order to take the discussion in smaller steps.

  131. 131
    kairosfocus says:

    Aleta, if certain principles are rightly identified as necessary for reasoning, part of this will be that they are relevant to the real world. Do you mean, do you think it possible that you are a victim of grand delusion living in a Plato’s cave world of shadow shows? If the latter, what you really mean is at will you pop up the cave world to dismiss what you don’t want to hear; that is rational discourse is at an end and ideology takes over. The proper solution to this is that error exists and we may suffer from it, but no system that proposes a grand delusion or such a delusion at will is reasonable. It fails the logical-dynamical coherence and the broader comparative difficulties tests. As is common for such systems they sound clever and devastating until the other edge of the sword swings back and cuts its own throat. KF

  132. 132
    kairosfocus says:

    Aleta, I am simply saying ontology comes before descriptive statement. The accurate description that distinct identity effects a world partition means distinct identity — say A — exists, the thing in view A is not to be confounded with the rest of the world (~A), and any x in the world will be in A or else in ~A. These descriptive statements then guide logical thought. KF

  133. 133
    kairosfocus says:

    Aleta, do you understand the significance of the fatal foundational crack in reasoning itself on today’s oh so self-confident and dominant evolutionary materialist scientism? Do you realise that forever after, the record stands at this Mars Hill moment? That is what these threads have shown through revealing the stout resistance to something as simple and undeniable as what pondering a bright red ball on a table would readily show to a twelve year old. KF

  134. 134
    eigenstate says:

    before we ever get to stating that A = A, we have to reckon with the reality of distinct things that are identifiable, which can start with our first undeniable fact, self-aware existence. That is what effects the partition that underlies our recognition W = {A|~A}.

    No, that’s backwards, and demonstrably backwards. The reason we use symbols as we do in “A=A” is because the concept is an abstract principle. We apply it all kinds of practical ways, but the concept itself is a transcendental to “identifying”. Identifying presupposes the LOI — there is no “that” without a concept first of “this” that is not “that”. I’m not sure how this matters below, but the LOI is truly fundamental, and “identifying”a s distinguishing is predicated on an underlying concept of identity.

    It is in reflection of that reality that we accept the ontology that A is, and in being, it is itself and not the other that it is not, ~A. To try to speak, think or write, we depend on distinct identity, it is thus undeniable and undeniably real. The statement A is A, or (A=>A) = 1, is a reflection of that.

    The LOI makes no claims regarding ontology, nor about how any A subsists or “is”. The LOI divides some entity — and this entity can be completely abstract or as concrete as chunk of concrete — from “other” (~A). It’s a logical distinction. It is useful and applicable in thinking about ontology, but it is not itself an ontological principle. LOI is transcendental to ontology, or just about any other -ology you can name. That is why I say it’s fundamental. Strangely, your comments so far have pushed the LOI out of its place as a “fundamental” to a kind of conclusion or judgement one arrives at. It’s an axiom, something we begin with, at the very start of the chain.

    Now, I also see an echo of yet another classical self-referentially erroneous claim, the ugly unbridgeable gulch between inner and outer worlds. By the 1890’s F H Bradley had already spotted the fatal error in this. Namely to assert the unknowability of the external world of things in themselves is self-referential. It is a very strong knowledge claim about that world, and so it refutes itself.

    Not my claim, nor science’s. Rather, that we begin from a state of ignorance, and develop knowledge from there. We don’t know the limits of intelligibility, and don’t even know how that might be established. But two important points proceed from this: 1) we allow that the intelligibility of the world may be limited, and we understand that intelligibility only obtains where it can be demonstrated.

    A safer step is to start with the undeniable claim, error exists, which implies that knowledge of truth exists. So, while there are errors, there are things that are not.

    And in particular, some truths about the world are self-evident.

    Among such are the immediate consequences of distinct identity, LOI, LNC and LEM. When we try to deny such, we undermine rationality itself.

    Ayiyi. Ok, you’ve got the problem as bad as Barry and StephenB, clearly.

    A=A IS NOT A STATEMENT OF SYNTHETIC KNOWLEDGE. The LOI is a definition, a tautology. The extra-mental world may line up nicely with this kind of definition (a baseball on my desk is itself and not the whiskey glass beside it), or it may not (it’s a particle, which is decidedly not a wave, and yet it’s a wave which is not a particle), but whether it matches up neatly or not is beside the crucial point — the LOI is a tool for map making. It is not a feature of the territory. When we encounter aspects of the physical world that don’t line up with Barry’s cartoonish view of the universe, it doesn’t undermine rationality. We can still reason about the complexities and conundrums (some more than others), and even in the worst case, rationality is not undermined at all, it’s just limited — there are some aspects perhaps of reality that are incomprehensible to us. That in no diminishes the efficacy or utility of reasoning on other matters. Our map is just that — a map, an approximate description of the territory and possibly a very crude on at that in some areas. It’s not a copy of the territory.

    Which is where playing the doubt card becomes a fallacy.

    Doubt with respect to what? This is confused language, KF. There is no doubting a definition. If you can doubt it, it’s not a definition. If it can be doubted, it’s a synthetic proposition, and thus not covered by the LOI. Everyone reading this thread should pause and read your post here as a very strong example of the deep confusion on this fundamental concept you are demonstrating. Barry and Stephen are no better off than you, but this example is good for making the point.

    Do you really wish to deny that distinct identity exists or what is much the same reserve a doubt card to play whenever it suits you?

    Are you asking about identity as a synthetic proposition or an analytical proposition, KF? Do you understand the difference? As best I can tell, you are in the same boat with Barry and Stephen in thinking like this:

    1. I need the LOI as a logical tool for reasoning and thinking about the world. (Analytic)
    2. In order to understand the the world, with respect to identity, reality must conform to my concept of the LOI.
    3. Ergo, Reality conforms to my understanding of the LOI.

    Can you see the problem in that? It pushes an axiom into service as a physical principle.

    And that is why this cluster of issues is so crucial, it is not just analytic statements, but in this case statements that do bridge to reality and to the world of thought.

    In ways that have had grave impact across history.

    KF

    You can clutch your pearls all you want on this, it’s no skin off my nose. This is a *perfect* example of the confusion of analytic and synthetic propositions. I don’t need to call any other witnesses to establish the credentials of my analysis on this problem at work here.

  135. 135
    eigenstate says:

    @Aleta,

    is it possible for nature to behave and subsist in ways that are at odds with the tools you rightly identify as necessary and obligatory for reasoning?

    This suits me just fine. Better than my version, I’d agree.

  136. 136
    Barry Arrington says:

    Eigenstate says : “my understanding is that [Learned Hand’s] doubt is not (and he’d agree cannot be) aimed at a definition.”

    Learned Hand says “I cannot therefore be logically, absolutely certain of anything—not even that A=A.”

    Ouch Eigy. The chemicals interacting in your head led you astray there. Ya know, that is the problem with the smug condescension that you spewed in the comments above. When you are demonstrated to be totally wrong you look not only like an idiot but also an ass. Double ouch.

  137. 137
    kairosfocus says:

    ES, reality always comes before and if necessary corrects description or reflection, especially in this case reflection in distinct symbols. Our experiences equip us to understand, ponder and describe, but mere word magic on our part does not alter reality. Did you have a bright red ball as a baby? Was that ball different from the rest of the world? All else follows. Including that statement A = A, A is A, or more instructively perhaps (A => A) = 1. Notice, how to make it, we rely on distinct identity. KF

  138. 138
    kairosfocus says:

    ES,

    I repeat to you what I noted to Aleta in 131 as you have endorsed her remark:

    if certain principles are rightly identified as necessary for reasoning, part of this will be that they are relevant to the real world. Do you mean, do you think it possible that you are a victim of grand delusion living in a Plato’s cave world of shadow shows? If the latter, what you really mean is at will you pop up the cave world to dismiss what you don’t want to hear; that is rational discourse is at an end and ideology takes over. The proper solution to this is that error exists and we may suffer from it, but no system that proposes a grand delusion or such a delusion at will is reasonable. It fails the logical-dynamical coherence and the broader comparative difficulties tests. As is common for such systems they sound clever and devastating until the other edge of the sword swings back and cuts its own throat.

    KF

  139. 139
    Barry Arrington says:

    ES says “There is no doubting a definition.”

    Learned Hand says “I cannot therefore be logically, absolutely certain of anything—not even that A=A.”

    Yet, ES says he agrees with LH. Ready to retract your statement yet E?

  140. 140
    Aleta says:

    kf writes, “reality always comes before and if necessary corrects description or reflection, especially in this case reflection in distinct symbols.”

    I agree with this, in that we have created logical systems that reflect our macroscopic experience. This, however, seems in opposition to Barry and others’ statements about logic having no need of empirical grounding or verification, and being self-evidently true independent of the material world.

    Do I read this disagreement correctly?

  141. 141
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta,

    eigenstate says, “A=A is infallibly true and not dubitable as an analytic proposition.”

    I agree with him. Do you?

  142. 142
    kairosfocus says:

    Aleta,

    different but related points.

    Reality comes first, in this case just to think we must reflect and use the reality of distinct identity.

    Description puts that in words, expressing a self evident truth that is indeed of abstract nature as the generic symbol A represents.

    But — let me break up in stepwise points:

    1 –> that abstract statement If A then A is always true —

    2 –> which is simultaneously A is equivalent to A (as A is on both sides of the implication) —

    3 –> will also correspond to the inner realities of conceptual symbolic thought and also

    4 –> to our interaction with the external world; which undeniably has distinct things in it.

    Where,

    5 –> our ability to reflect in conceptual terms and to understand is in material part shaped by our experience of the world . . .

    6 –> the means by which we attain to relevant maturity.

    Including, the education that leads us to be able to understand (A =>A) = 1 including noting the significance of A being on both sides of the implication, i.e. to cross a pons asinorum.

    That insight leads us to see that in thought and in external world reality alike distinct identity exists and immediately leads to LOI, LNC and LEM by way of world partition W = {A|~A}.

    Where these are then recognised as necessarily true and as such on pain of absurdity.

    Nor can such be proved true as opposed to described in ways that allow us to understand, for in this case all proofs depend directly on the truths in question to get started. Any offered proof would instantly beg the question.

    Of course by now what is happening is that the elaborations in reply to various objections and tangents are far more complex than what is required to simply, directly see the self evident truths present in the reality of a bright red ball labelled A on a table (or our mental image of such).

    Einstein was right to say that everything should be as simple as possible but no simpler than that.

    I suggest, go get a bright red ball, set it up on a table and ponder what it says.

    If you want to drag in quantum speculations and blunders I suggest you read the UD weak argument corrective no 38. The laws of thought are prior to doing the physics of Q-mech and cannot be challenged by them, incantations about macro-vs- micro worlds notwithstanding:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/faq/#LNC

    All you are achieving in the end is to show just how fatally cracked the foundation of so much of current thought is

    KF

  143. 143
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Many definitions are dubious. KF

  144. 144
    Aleta says:

    Barry asks,

    Aleta, eigenstate says, “A=A is infallibly true and not dubitable as an analytic proposition.” I agree with him. Do you?

    Yes. I believe I’ve said that in a number of posts lately.

    I imagine, given your theistic perspective and my non-theistic one, that you and I might disagree about the details of what we mean by “infallible”, but I agree, and have said, that A = A is a fundamental, foundational axiom of reasoning.

  145. 145
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta,

    My dictionary defines “infallible” as “absolutely trustworthy or sure; certain.”

    I don’t think that definition varies according to religious belief or non-belief.

  146. 146
    Aleta says:

    Yes, infallible as per that definition.

    Perhaps I should have said we might disagree about why it is infallible.

  147. 147
    eigenstate says:

    @Barry

    Learned Hand says “I cannot therefore be logically, absolutely certain of anything—not even that A=A.”

    Ouch Eigy. The chemicals interacting in your head led you astray there. Ya know, that is the problem with the smug condescension that you spewed in the comments above. When you are demonstrated to be totally wrong you look not only like an idiot but also an ass. Double ouch.

    We’ll let Learned Hand weigh in with clarification on this. I stand to be corrected if I’m mistaken. But my understanding of LH, having read his posts that A=A here, and any certainty being contemplated would be — must be synthetic in nature. I think you fail to account for the willful misreading that typifies your responses to critics, here. But I’ll let LH speak for himself if he wants.

    Just set aside the, uh, reflex for a moment and consider: does LH denying certainty about a definition make sense? “Certainty” and “definition” don’t fit together conceptually — for reasons I’m convinced you don’t understand. If you read LH with the understanding, which I think is correct, that he is uncertain — as am I! — the A = A is a universal principle in physics (setting aside the problematic vagueness of that as a physical principle for the moment), all of Learned Hand’s posts cohere nicely; his arguments make sense. You may not agree, but they hold together conceptually, no matter what you may make of the merits of their “correctness”.

    If Learned Hand comes back and insists that he does doubt that a definition can be a definition — an analytic proposition which is true-by-definition, rather than “A=A” as a synthetic, I will have been broadly mistaken about LH’s positions and arguments here.

  148. 148
    StephenB says:

    eigenstate

    Let’s just get it out on the table: do you hold that it is logically possible for nature to behave and subsist in ways that are at odds with the tools you rightly identify as necessary and obligatory for reasoning?

    That is actually a very good question. It is obvious that you put a lot of thought into it.

    To answer your question, No, it isn’t possible. Our internal logic (the law of non-contradiction) corresponds perfectly to the logic of the real world (Law of Identity). If it were not the case, a sound argument, which requires premises that are true about the real world, would not be possible.

    The Law of Identity (A = A) is not a statement about letters of the alphabet. The letter A represents or signifies a thing in the real world with an identity, which is defined by its “essence” or “what” it is. The law of non-contradiction, on the other hand, refers to what we think or say about that thing in the real world, not the thing itself.

    Give me your answer on that, and that will establish some clear semantics for “identity”. The “identity” in “Law of Identity” is conceptual, logical.

    No, the Identity in the LOI is ontological, not conceptual. It is about existence or being, not our perceptions of existence or being.

    It pertains to patterns of human thought.

    No, the Law of Identity pertains to the thing that human thought apprehends. It is the law of non-contradiction, which pertains to human thought. Example: [A bear cannot also be a Zebra. Law of Identity]. The law of non-contradiction pertains to true and false statements about the bear and the Zebra.

    This is NOT a physical principle, it is not a natural law, if you prefer that term. Agree?

    That is correct.

    .

    Oh I’m sure you both come at things from a different angle, fine. But clearly, you both are in the same point of confusion/conflation on the question of identity as a logical principle for thinking, versus a physical principle in nature.

    I hope my explanation convinced you that Barry and I are not confused.

    I don’t think Christians see a unity underneath the analytical tools “God gave us” and the intelligibility of the universe He designed for us. That explains, but doesn’t excuse the error. The axiom is just that — an axiom. We have perfectly no warrant for conflating an logical axiom with a physical principle, religious superstitions notwithstanding.

    The Law of Identity is not a law of nature, though it can be applied to nature. It is nothing like “gravity,” or other human descriptions of the way nature works or operates. It has nothing to do with “law-like” regularity. It has everything to do with what nature (and everything in it) is and is not, or can be or not be. Religious superstition has nothing to do with the law of identity. It is superstitious to deny or question that law. it is also superstitious to discount it by saying that it is a mere axiom.

  149. 149
    eigenstate says:

    @Barry,

    ES says “There is no doubting a definition.”

    Learned Hand says “I cannot therefore be logically, absolutely certain of anything—not even that A=A.”

    Yet, ES says he agrees with LH. Ready to retract your statement yet E?

    I understand A=A here to be invoked as a synthetic proposition. A definition is trivial — it’s a tautology, and not capable of carrying more or less certainty, as a definition.

    As a practical matter, humans use analytic propositions like A=A a form of metonymy, a way speaking in shorthand about synthetic propositions. In this case, it’s handy (albeit sometimes counterproductive as we’ve seen in engaging people with your… approach to these issues) to invoke “identity” as the physical principle, the analytic concept as a pointer to broad empirically sound generalizations of what we experience in the world around us. As I said upthread, the baseball on my desk is not the whiskey glass next to it. Informally, the baseball has an “identity” that makes it “not the whiskey glass”.

    This is useful, but as this thread shows, is a ditch people fall into conceptually if they are lazy or careless. There is no “identity” as a physical/metaphysical principle at work here that is analogous to our concept of it. We need to think that way to get our thinking off the ground, and that’s fine — in the same way Euclid needed his Fifth Postulate to do geometry. There’s nothing he find that’s inherently necessary or provable about parallel lines. He simply had to insert the axiom to get his geometry project off the ground. There no problem with that, so long as one can keep the map and the territory distinct.

    That is what I identify as the problem here. I believe LH is quite up to speed on tautologies and axioms, and so when I read “I cannot therefore be logically, absolutely certain of anything—not even that A=A.”, that can only be understood as an epistemic claim, a statement about synthetic knowledge. There is no certainty to be had, more certain or less certain to be had, of a definition.

    So, I read that and “get it”. I can say the same thing as him. I will just be explicit and say “I cannot therefore logically absolutely certain of anything — not even A=A, where A=A is a synthetic proposition about the identity objects in the extra-mental world. Even that is not fully Barry-proof as a qualification, but it’s still an awkward mouthful, a tiresome set of qualifications which shouldn’t be needed by adults having an argument. You’re quite capable of understanding the points being made, which is what makes a thread like this so tiresome. It’s an exercise in manufactured aggression. It’s one thing to disagree, but this is really trolling from you, when it gets boiled down.

    Or maybe Learned Hand will come in and set me straight and insist you were right all along and he is committed to some process of doubting (??) a definition, as a defintion. I’m not even sure what would mean if he claims what you say he will, but let’s wait to deal with that until it’s a fact of the matter from LH.

  150. 150
    eigenstate says:

    KF,

    F/N: Many definitions are dubious. KF

    OK, well, this is a great way to further document the confusion and conflation you share with Barry and StephenB on this.

    Give me an example of a definition — one of the many! — that you discern as dubious. What is an example of a “dubious definition”?

    As this is a trick question, let me warn you ahead of time — your doubt obtains from the synthetic content that comes from APPLYING a definition, not from anything dubitable in the definition itself.

    Bachelor:
    noun

    An adult man with red hair

    Is this a dubious definition? There’s nothing liable to doubt in the definition, as a definition. If you doubt it, you would be doubting what — the appropriateness of the defintion to our experiences in the world? As a defintion, it’s no more and no less doubtable than:

    Bachelor:
    noun

    a man who is not and has never been married

    We can doubt whether a person in question is a bachelor under either definition, but this is not the definition itself which is the subject of doubt — it can’t be, it’s just a definition. We doubt whether the concepts we might apply from the definition fit this circumstance of that in the synthetic domain, as a statement about the state of the extra-mental world.

    Anyway, know that whatever definition you offer that is liable to doubt is not so liable as a definition, but only in the synthetic application of that definition. Even if we look at confused or incoherent syntax/semantics:

    Bachelor:
    noun

    an orange smell, usually quite rapid

    There’s nothing to doubt — there’s not even a coherent concept to subject to doubt as a synthetic proposition.

    Anyway, I’m interested in your example of a “dubious definition”, and anticipate showing that it exemplifies the confusion and misconceptions that underwrite much of what has been said on this thread.

  151. 151
    Barry Arrington says:

    E,

    I understand A=A here to be invoked as a synthetic proposition

    Now you are just lying to try to cover your foolishness. It always comes to this with you E. You say something foolish. I demonstrate it. You lie about what you said. The irony is you are not deceiving anyone, not me, not the readers, no one. I don’t know why you feel compelled to heap deceit upon foolishness. But you always do.

  152. 152
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH,

    I believe LH is quite up to speed on tautologies and axioms,

    And he nevertheless says he cannot be certain of even a tautology. He says the only thing one can be certain of is that one can be certain of nothing. I know. It is internally incoherent, and that has been pointed out to him. Yet he insists upon it.

    And that is why you looked so foolish when you said you agreed with him. Why do you kick against the goads E? LH is wrong, and you know he is wrong. You’ve said that what he say cannot possibly be true. And yet you continue to defend him. That speaks poorly of your character.

  153. 153
    Barry Arrington says:

    E

    when I read “I cannot therefore be logically, absolutely certain of anything—not even that A=A.”, that can only be understood as an epistemic claim, a statement about synthetic knowledge.

    Correction. LH’s statement can be read rationally only to apply to synthetic knowledge. Yet if you had read the exchanges as you said you did, you would know that he means it in ever sense of the word and insists that he is not limiting it to synthetic knowledge. In other words, his claim is not rational; it is borderline psychotic.

    And that is why you looked foolish when you jumped in and said you agreed with his borderline psychotic claims.

  154. 154
    eigenstate says:

    That is actually a very good question. It is obvious that you put a lot of thought into it.

    This is pretty elementary stuff in philosophy, as I understand it.

    To answer your question, No, it isn’t possible. Our internal logic (the law of non-contradiction) corresponds perfectly to the logic of the real world (Law of Identity). If it were not the case, a sound argument, which requires premises that are true about the real world, would not be possible.

    You’ve not addressed all the options. It could be that many — uncountably many sound arguments (which implies sound premises) about the real world obtain, and yet other aspects of reality remain unintelligible. In such a universe, synthetic knowledge obtains, and the LOI remains what it was chartered to be — a tool for thinking and reasoning about the world around us and our experiences in it. Your conclusion doesn’t follow. True and sound premises can ground sound arguments in which there also exist other aspects of reality that defy such “bucketing” to fit into the needs of human cognition.

    And, your response claims it’s “not possible”, then backs up with why you don’t think that that isn’t the case. That doesn’t support “not possible”, but only “I don’t think that’s how it is”.

    The Law of Identity (A = A) is not a statement about letters of the alphabet. The letter A represents or signifies a thing in the real world with an identity, which is defined by its “essence” or “what” it is. The law of non-contradiction, on the other hand, refers to what we think or say about that thing in the real world, not the thing itself.

    Yes, but the same benefits and risks apply. This is the dynamics of the map, not the territory. If we find something that in our language and conceptual faculties looks defiantly contradictory for us, that is a problem for our language and conceptual abilities, not for reality. Reality doesn’t give a damn if we are confounded (to anthropomorphize impersonal nature for aesthetic language reasons).

    Give me your answer on that, and that will establish some clear semantics for “identity”. The “identity” in “Law of Identity” is conceptual, logical.

    No, the Identity in the LOI is ontological, not conceptual. It is about existence or being, not our perceptions of existence or being.

    No, and this is easy shown. “2” in “2+2=4” does not exist. It does not have “being” in any synthetic sense. It’s a conceptual construct, and doesn’t need to “subsist” in any metaphysical or physical sense. It is just a symbol that can be differentiated (this is why identity is fundamental) from “~2” or “not two”. That doesn’t mean we can’t apply our LOI fundamental tools to questions of ontology or any other matter; we can and we do. But it’s transcendental to ontology. Any contemplation of being presupposes the deployment of the concept of identity, the application of the LOI. We may apply it well or foolishly — doesn’t matter. What matters is that its a transcendental for ontology.

    It pertains to patterns of human thought.

    No, the Law of Identity pertains to the thing that human thought apprehends. It is the law of non-contradiction, which pertains to human thought. Example: [A bear cannot also be a Zebra. Law of Identity]. The law of non-contradiction pertains to true and false statements about the bear and the Zebra.

    No, see above. You can convince yourself of this without any more help from me just be looking at how LOI is transcendental to, say symbolic calculus, or more broadly, distinction of any kind. To distinguish or differentiate, we must rely on a fundamental concept of identity. This is why we call it “fundamental”.

    This is NOT a physical principle, it is not a natural law, if you prefer that term. Agree?

    That is correct.

    OK, booyah. Given what you’ve said just above, though, I have to follow up and ask: do you consider the law of non-contradiction to be a physical principle as opposed to a tool that enables and underwrites human thought/reasoning?

    Oh I’m sure you both come at things from a different angle, fine. But clearly, you both are in the same point of confusion/conflation on the question of identity as a logical principle for thinking, versus a physical principle in nature.

    I hope my explanation convinced you that Barry and I are not confused.

    It’s confirmed the confusion. You’ve “outed” yourself, if that’s not clear, with this:

    To answer your question, No, it isn’t possible. Our internal logic (the law of non-contradiction) corresponds perfectly to the logic of the real world (Law of Identity). If it were not the case, a sound argument, which requires premises that are true about the real world, would not be possible.

    This nails it down. Your belief that your reasoning capacities “corresponds perfectly to the logic of there real world” is more than I could ask for in making my point. You are free to think that, and I totally believe this to be an earnest and honest revelation. But it seals the deal in terms of conflating the analytic and the synthetic. You’re committed to “perfect correspondence” – an interchangeability that substantiates what I’ve been claiming above. If there is such a perfect correspondence, then the analytic is synthetic, and there is no distinction that make a difference between the two. It doesn’t matter that this is not logically necessary or otherwise grounded by you, here. Just putting it out there validates what Barry is trying to wriggle out — and so are you, apparently. If you read your own post here, you can see that you are committed to conflation I’m decrying here.

    I don’t think Christians see a unity underneath the analytical tools “God gave us” and the intelligibility of the universe He designed for us. That explains, but doesn’t excuse the error. The axiom is just that — an axiom. We have perfectly no warrant for conflating an logical axiom with a physical principle, religious superstitions notwithstanding.

    The Law of Identity is not a law of nature, though it can be applied to nature. It is nothing like “gravity,” or other human descriptions of the way nature works or operates. It has nothing to do with “law-like” regularity. It has everything to do with what nature (and everything in it) is and is not, or can be or not be. Religious superstition has nothing to do with the law of identity. It is superstitious to deny or question that law. it is also superstitious to discount it by saying that it is a mere axiom.

    But what “is” is a synthetic question, a proposition about the extra-mental world, not a concept that underwrites how we think and communicate as matter of reasoning (an analytic proposition, in other words). So here again, you’ve confused definitions for epistemic claims about the nature of the extra-mental world. And just as clearly, you’re not even aware that you are doing it. This is understandable, I guess, given your commitment to “perfect correspondence” — who would not get confused if one bought into that laugher? As soon as you starting talk about “is” as a proposition pertaining to the mental world, it’s synthetic, it’s not a principle of reasoning, but rather a knowledge claim about the world outside our minds.

  155. 155
    eigenstate says:

    And he nevertheless says he cannot be certain of even a tautology. He says the only thing one can be certain of is that one can be certain of nothing. I know. It is internally incoherent, and that has been pointed out to him. Yet he insists upon it.

    I’ve read all those posts, Barry. I remain confident that LH is not insisting to you that a definition qua does not admit of doubt or certainty. It’s a category error to ascribe “doubtable-ness” to a definition. For you to understand that as his position — again we can all read these posts, Barry! — condemns you not him. He can correct me and confirm he as confused as you are on this distinction between epistemic claims and axioms, but I’m not expecting to be surprised.

    And that is why you looked so foolish when you said you agreed with him. Why do you kick against the goads E? LH is wrong, and you know he is wrong. You’ve said that what he say cannot possibly be true. And yet you continue to defend him. That speaks poorly of your character.

    This is pretty basic stuff, Barry. I read LH and nod in agreement, but do wonder why he doesn’t just directly address your problem with axioms and definitions getting sublimated into physical principles of the universe by your magical intuition. I’ll leave that for him to address if he likes, but if LH is referring to A=A as a statement about the dynamics of the universe, and I think this is the only reasonable reading to be had of his posts, then I endorse the same claims. And it’s not really being bold or adventurous at all to do so. Basic stuff, Barry, basic stuff.

  156. 156
    Aleta says:

    Good job, Eigenstate. You’ve helped me have a clearer understanding, from a different viewpoint, of both the points I’ve been trying to make and the viewpoint of others that just don’t get the difference between our logical systems and the world to which we apply them.

  157. 157
    eigenstate says:

    Correction. LH’s statement can be read rationally only to apply to synthetic knowledge. Yet if you had read the exchanges as you said you did, you would know that he means it in ever sense of the word and insists that he is not limiting it to synthetic knowledge. In other words, his claim is not rational; it is borderline psychotic.

    And that is why you looked foolish when you jumped in and said you agreed with his borderline psychotic claims.

    There is no “sense of the word” for certainty that even applies to a definition, as a definition, Barry! I don’t how much more clearly this can be pointed out to you. It’s not news to anyone here that you make a point to go out of your way to misunderstand and misrepresent what your critics say, but it is a new way to demonstrate the very confusion I’m identifying here.

    For example, you say “he is not limiting it to synthetic knowledge”? Do you suppose that “analytical knowledge” exists in addition to “synthetic knowledge”, Barry? For you to make the accusations you are making, you have to adopt misconceptions like that, which you signal here. If you have more than skim-reading-wikipedia-articles-when-I’m-not-familiar-with-a-term background in this, you’d know that synthetic knowledge is not a subset of some wider set that includes — ??? — “definitional knowledge”.

    If I’m wrong and you are referring to some other, as yet unidentified kind of knowledge that is not “synthetic” (and remember, per Kant, this is a dichotomy as a pair of concepts), maybe you could clue mean to what you really meant if not “analytical knowledge”.

    As I understand you, this kind of accusation condemns you rather than LH, only because it requires substantial confusion to formulate this as an accusation in the first place. If you understand that “analytical knowledge” is a non-starter, then you wouldn’t say LH was “not limiting it to synthetic knowledge”. The way you recount and describe LH claims and the terms in general demonstrate you are just voguing, here, Barry, a faker who supposes he is clever enough not to have blunders like that stand out clearly to people who take these concepts a little more seriously than you do.

  158. 158
    Mung says:

    Many modern philosophers believe that metaphysics is impossible. Most classical philosophers disagree. They hold, commonsensically, that the basic “laws of thought” are laws of being., of reality; they tell us not only how we all have to think but how all being has to be. The universe and everything in it, and also the self, (1) can’t ever be what it isn’t (the Law of Non-contradiction), (2) always must be what it is (the Law of Identity), and (3) always either is or isn’t (the Law of Excluded Middle). Also, (4) all that comes into being – i.e., all changing being – has a cause (the Principle of Causality), and (5) everything that is has a sufficient reason why it is and what it is (the Principle of Sufficient Reason).

    Peter Kreeft. Socratic Logic. p. 359

  159. 159
    Barry Arrington says:

    eigenstate,

    You are a classic example of one of those internet trolls who believes that by merely continuing to type he is winning the argument. It is actually kind of amusing, in a sad pathetic sort of a way.

  160. 160
    Barry Arrington says:

    E

    For example, you say “he is not limiting it to synthetic knowledge”? Do you suppose that “analytical knowledge” exists in addition to “synthetic knowledge”, Barry? For you to make the accusations you are making, you have to adopt misconceptions like that, which you signal here.

    With every stroke of the keyboard you just dig yourself deeper into your hole. Try to keep up E. To say that LH “is not limiting it to synthetic knowledge” does not entail, as you erroneously assert, that I mean he extends it to something called “analytic knowledge.” I mean that he extends it to analytic propositions, and that is why I say his position is irrational.

    Now I know that you know that. And from that I conclude that you are piling yet another attempt to deceive on your previous attempts to deceive. You really are a thoroughly dishonest person E. I guess that being an elmininative materialist means never having to having to tell the truth when it is inconvenient. After all you think of yourself as nothing but sentient meat. And why should meat feel bound to tell the truth when it finds that telling the truth is inconvenient. I can’t think of a reason.

  161. 161
    StephenB says:

    eigenstate

    Your belief that your reasoning capacities “corresponds perfectly to the logic of the real world” is more than I could ask for in making my point.

    Our reasoning capacities do correspond perfectly to the logic of the real world. That is why sound arguments, (which are about the real world) are valid arguments (which are about our conceptions) with true premises (which are also about the real world. If you don’t understand what I just wrote, say so and I will explain it in a different way.

    Accordingly, the definition of LOI and LNC remain the same. The former is about things and the latter is about what we think and say about those things. It is as simple as that. Don’t try to over-complicate things in the name of sophistication.

    You are free to think that, and I totally believe this to be an earnest and honest revelation. But it seals the deal in terms of conflating the analytic and the synthetic. You’re committed to “perfect correspondence” – an interchangeability that substantiates what I’ve been claiming above. If there is such a perfect correspondence, then the analytic is synthetic, and there is no distinction that make a difference between the two. It doesn’t matter that this is not logically necessary or otherwise grounded by you, here. Just putting it out there validates what Barry is trying to wriggle out — and so are you, apparently. If you read your own post here, you can see that you are committed to conflation I’m decrying here.

    I have an idea. Why don’t you stop using terms that you don’t understand, such as analytic and synthetic. At the very least, refrain from injecting them into our discussion. They may serve a role in your dialogue with Barry, but they are not relevant to our discussion.

  162. 162
    StephenB says:

    From Peter Kreeft

    Many modern philosophers believe that metaphysics is impossible. Most classical philosophers disagree. They hold, commonsensically, that the basic “laws of thought” are laws of being., of reality; they tell us not only how we all have to think but how all being has to be. The universe and everything in it, and also the self, (1) can’t ever be what it isn’t (the Law of Non-contradiction), (2) always must be what it is (the Law of Identity), and (3) always either is or isn’t (the Law of Excluded Middle). Also, (4) all that comes into being – i.e., all changing being – has a cause (the Principle of Causality), and (5) everything that is has a sufficient reason why it is and what it is (the Principle of Sufficient Reason).

    Peter Kreeft. Socratic Logic. p. 359

    Yes, thanks Mung. That sums up nicely what I have been saying.

  163. 163
    kairosfocus says:

    ES,

    I simply note, there is a fallacy known as the question-begging definition.

    Second, and what I primarily had in mind is the case of Logical Positivism and its attempt to overthrow the credibility of metaphysics (which includes ontology), ethics etc.

    As Wikipedia almost coyly summarises with an I have a secret introduction:

    Logical positivists’ verifiability principle—that only statements about the world that are empirically verifiable or logically necessary are cognitively meaningful—cast theology, metaphysics, and evaluative judgements, such as ethics and aesthetics, as cognitively meaningless “pseudostatements” that were but emotively meaningful.[1] The verificationist program’s fundamental suppositions had varying formulations, which evolved from the 1920s to 1950s into the milder version logical empiricism.[2] Yet all three of verificationism’s shared basic suppositions—verifiability criterion, analytic/synthetic distinction, and observation/theory gap[3]—were by the 1960s found irreparably untenable, signaling the demise of verificationism and, with it, of the entire movement launched by logical positivism.[4]

    Why did it collapse?

    In the end, as the assertion was self-referential and could not pass its own test. It was self-referentially incoherent and self-falsifying.

    And no, I am not the strawman you set up, confused over the proper use of the word bachelor. Which, BTW has had and yet retains diversity in meaning:

    Webster’s 1828: BACH”ELOR, n.[L.baculus, a stick, that is, a shoot.]

    1. A young man who has not been married.

    2. A man of any age, who has not been married; often with the word old.

    3. A person who has taken the first degree in the liberal arts and sciences, at a college or university. This degree or honor is called the baccalaureate. This title is given also to such as take the first degree in divinity, law or physic, in certain European universities.

    4. A knight of the lowest order, or more correctly, a young knight, styled, a knight bachelor. The Germans anciently constituted their young men knights or soldiers, by presenting to them a shield and a lance, in a great council. This ceremony answered to that of the toga virilis of the Romans. In the livery companies of London, those persons not yet admitted to the livery are called bachelors.

    OED: . . . 3. a. One who has taken the first or lowest degree at a university, who is not yet a master of the Arts. (In this use, a woman may now be Bachelor of Arts, etc.)

    The issue I have pointed out is not a matter of definition, but rather of distinct identity, something which is primarily a matter of reality, whether mental [think of a red ball on a table] or external-world, e,g. an actual case of a ball sitting right there on a table, say of West Indian Mahogany or Cherry Wood.

    Let said ball exemplify such entities, and let us tag it for reference as A in the world, W; which we may recognise now as being in this respect partitioned:

    W = {A|~A}

    To recognise partition on distinct identity is not to be confused, it is to be clear about a simple but profound aspect of reality that far too many today have been indoctrinated to doubt or dismiss. Distinction, antithesis and dichotomising world partition are key realities of the external world, and of the inner world of thought in meaningful concepts.

    Such partition has immediate and readily understood consequences that I am astonished to see such resistance towards:

    I: Any x in W such that x is A, is just that A (as opposed to not-A) . . . LOI

    II: No x in W can be both A and ~A in the same sense, time and circumstances etc. . . . LNC

    –> And SB, while we usually refer to this in thinking about it, it is also a point of reality that an x will not be say a square and a not-square (e.g. a circle) at one and the same time, place, circumstances etc. That is part of what possible being requires, thus also actual being.

    III: Any x in W will be A or else ~A, not both or neither . . . LEM

    I suggest, that just to object ES, you are forced to use distinct strings of distinct symbols in accord with distinct rules of a distinct language. You cannot but base your objections, projections and dismissals on the very same foundational principles that you are so patently hostile to.

    These are self-evident, undeniable . . . the attempt to deny will at once necessarily rest on just said world partition and consequences that are being denied.

    Just to clench over the nail, let me add a cite from a classic point made by Paul of Tarsus 55 AD:

    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. [ESV]

    As UD WAC 38 notes, even Quantum theory is dependent on these, despite commonly seen views to the contrary:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/faq/#LNC

    What we see being laid out for us is just how fatally cracked the foundations of evolutionary materialist scientism and its fellow travellers are in our time.

    Clinging to absurdity as a drowning man may clutch a straw is a marl of the breakdown and bankruptcy of the intellectual credit of our civilisation today.

    A sobering sign of where we are headed.

    It is time to turn back.

    KF

  164. 164
    eigenstate says:

    @Barry,

    With every stroke of the keyboard you just dig yourself deeper into your hole. Try to keep up E. To say that LH “is not limiting it to synthetic knowledge” does not entail, as you erroneously assert, that I mean he extends it to something called “analytic knowledge.” I mean that he extends it to analytic propositions, and that is why I say his position is irrational.

    To what does “it” refer to in “extends it to propositions”? As I understand it you are referring to certainty (or lack thereof) in the truth of “analytical propositions”. Analytical propositions are just tautologies, though, and thus are not subject to certainty or lack thereof. And this is why I say again that your accusation just implicates you as confused, rather than LH as incorrect or — what was it? “psychotic”.

    If “it” does not refer to LH’s certainty (or lack thereof), then what? You’re stuck, Barry: you either have to walk this back, to plead to thinking that “analytical propositions” admit of certainty (or lack thereof). It doesn’t help your case at all to substitute “analytical propositions” for “analytical knowledge”. Neither can be extended from “synthetic knowledge” in terms of epistemic certainty (or lack thereof => have to be overly lawyerly in my prose with you given your penchants!)

    Now I know that you know that. And from that I conclude that you are piling yet another attempt to deceive on your previous attempts to deceive. You really are a thoroughly dishonest person E. I guess that being an elmininative materialist means never having to having to tell the truth when it is inconvenient.

    Your correction doesn’t change the implications of my original complaint, Barry. You’re “clarification” on “analytical propositions” over “propositional knowledge” puts you in exactly the same place you were. I’m sure you can go google “analytic/synthetic” and some more and do enough skim-reading to grasp that — whoops! — there is no “analytical knowledge”, but rather just “analytical propositions”. But you have to understand that well enough to see that your claims about LH’s position are committed to knowledge — that’s what the “certainty” term and “doubt” terms entail.

    So you’re hosed. Your claim committed you, in previous posts to “certainty about definitions”. Getting one more tidbit of knowledge through another quick read on Wikipedia to avoid claiming that LH is certain about “analytical knowledge” doesn’t change the fact that you have indeed committed to LH’s “certainty about definitions”. There’s not a way out of this other than to try and bluff and bluster your way out of this, or — mirabile dictu! — realize your mistake and walk it back. Them’s the risks of posing as knowledge and trying to cover your bets with Googled skim-reads, Barry.

  165. 165
    eigenstate says:

    @StephenB

    Our reasoning capacities do correspond perfectly to the logic of the real world.

    This can’t be known or demonstrated. Just asserted. If you disagree, what is the heuristic applied to assess this “perfect correspondence”. You would necessarily have to be able to step outside your mind — to transcend the system itself — in order to compare what your reasoning produces with the objective particulars of the world outside your mind. Do you claim you are capable of doing this, and have done this?

    Or is this something you just want to insist on as a naked assertion?

    That is why sound arguments, (which are about the real world) are valid arguments (which are about our conceptions) with true premises (which are also about the real world. If you don’t understand what I just wrote, say so and I will explain it in a different way.

    Doesn’t follow. The universe can support sound (true premises) and valid (logically) arguments, and has no need for any “perfect correspondence” as you assert. Those sound and valid arguments can obtain while other products of your reasoning are wholly mistaken, or perhaps just not capable of comprehending the actual dynamics of reality in this aspect or that. It doesn’t have to be that way either — reality is not beholden to my intuitions or yours. The point being that your “why” here doesn’t follow from your premise, even if I were to accept it (provisionally for purposes of discussion).

    Accordingly, the definition of LOI and LNC remain the same. The former is about things and the latter is about what we think and say about those things. It is as simple as that. Don’t try to over-complicate things in the name of sophistication.

    Well, I think we can simplify this to just noting that you are clearly committed to (what I claim is the confusion) that the LOI is indeed a physical principle, not a principle of reasoning and thought. If the LOI is about “things”, the conflation is confirmed, it’s that simple.

    I have an idea. Why don’t you stop using terms that you don’t understand, such as analytic and synthetic. At the very least, refrain from injecting them into our discussion. They may serve a role in your dialogue with Barry, but they are not relevant to our discussion.

    I’m not committed to the terms themselves — it’s the concepts they have as referents that I’m concentrating on. I’m fine using terms I normally use — “axioms”, “definitions”, “models”, “experience”, etc. But the confusion here doesn’t obtain in the terms, but the conceptual difficulty evident here in distinguishing logical concepts from epistemic claims and knowledge propositions. Doesn’t matter whether you call it “analytic”, “definitional”, “logical” or “tautological”, if you suppose the LOI is “about things” rather than “how we think about things”, the difficulty obtains, no matter which terms you prefer.

  166. 166
    kairosfocus says:

    ES,

    kindly stop projecting. It is time to face the reality of world partition, e.g. just to begin your comment:

    {T|~T} + {o|~o} . . .

    . . . you are forced to sit on the very branch you are busily sawing off.

    Itself, a metaphor for a wider case of cutting ourselves off from the very Root of reality that upholds us in being.

    KF

  167. 167
    Barry Arrington says:

    E @ 164,

    Repeating a lie does not make it true.

    Analytical propositions are just tautologies, though, and thus are not subject to certainty or lack thereof.

    That statement is just staggeringly stupid. A=A is an analytic proposition. It is a tautology. And I am infallibly certain that it is true.

    And LH says he is not, over and over. And he says “I am logically perfectly certain only that I can’t be logically certain about anything else.” And he says that he cannot be certain that a part cannot be greater than a whole.

    Again, E, the ability to continue typing is not the same thing as the ability to say anything useful. You should write that down and tape it to your computer screen.

    I am curious about one thing though. After watching you do your thing over the course of several months, it is clear to me that you will say literally anything you think you can get away with. And that brings up the issue I raised before: You think of yourself as nothing more than sentient meat. One chunk of meat has no moral obligation to another chunk of meat, including an obligation to tell the truth. It is obvious that you put this principle into practice. And the amazing thing is that when you get caught lying it never fazes you. Indeed, it just seems to invigorate you and compel you to double down on your lies. My question is this: What is the point? Obviously, it is not to get at the truth. Why do you do it?

  168. 168
    eigenstate says:

    I simply note, there is a fallacy known as the question-begging definition.

    Yes, but that is a red-herring here, as any doubt or problem with the definition does not (and cannot) obtain in the definition as a definition but only as to the merits of how that definition is applied This is either an exercise of hand-waving distraction, or yet another confirmation from you on your confusion about tautologies as incapable of being “doubted”, or “certain about” or something in between.

    Second, and what I primarily had in mind is the case of Logical Positivism and its attempt to overthrow the credibility of metaphysics (which includes ontology), ethics etc.

    Which is to say, you do not have an example of a dubious definition, where the definition is dubious as a definition. Why not just say “I got nothin'”?

    The issue I have pointed out is not a matter of definition, but rather of distinct identity, something which is primarily a matter of reality, whether mental [think of a red ball on a table] or external-world, e,g. an actual case of a ball sitting right there on a table, say of West Indian Mahogany or Cherry Wood.

    Let said ball exemplify such entities, and let us tag it for reference as A in the world, W; which we may recognise now as being in this respect partitioned:

    W = {A|~A}

    To recognise partition on distinct identity is not to be confused, it is to be clear about a simple but profound aspect of reality that far too many today have been indoctrinated to doubt or dismiss. Distinction, antithesis and dichotomising world partition are key realities of the external world, and of the inner world of thought in meaningful concepts.

    Such partition has immediate and readily understood consequences that I am astonished to see such resistance towards:

    KF, none of this is responsive to questions about your claim regarding “many definitions are dubious”. The only way any of this can be connected to your earlier comment is if you really do not understand the analytical/synthetic distinction. Here you are only considering synthetic propositions, the merits of which aren’t important one way or another. None of this grounds any definition as dubious. It only engages the application of our logical concepts to real world propositions.

    I suggest, that just to object ES, you are forced to use distinct strings of distinct symbols in accord with distinct rules of a distinct language. You cannot but base your objections, projections and dismissals on the very same foundational principles that you are so patently hostile to.

    These are self-evident, undeniable . . . the attempt to deny will at once necessarily rest on just said world partition and consequences that are being denied.

    KF, I’m the one insisting on LOI as a logical axiom, a transcendental principle for reasoning (and therefore communicating via symbols and language). You are the one that is confusing the “thinking principles” with “physical principles”.

    Just to clench over the nail, let me add a cite from a classic point made by Paul of Tarsus 55 AD:

    As UD WAC 38 notes, even Quantum theory is dependent on these, despite commonly seen views to the contrary:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/faq/#LNC

    What we see being laid out for us is just how fatally cracked the foundations of evolutionary materialist scientism and its fellow travellers are in our time.

    Clinging to absurdity as a drowning man may clutch a straw is a marl of the breakdown and bankruptcy of the intellectual credit of our civilisation today.

    A sobering sign of where we are headed.

    It is time to turn back.

    That’s a very nice homily, KF. What I was asking about, though, was whether you have any examples of these “dubious definitions” you claim exist. I’m trying to show that you are confused on the core distinction between tautologies/axioms and knowledge propositions about the extra-mental world. I expect any definitions you should propose will prove my point. But we can’t judge this if you want provide even a single example!

  169. 169
    Aleta says:

    When StephenB wrote, “Our reasoning capacities do correspond perfectly to the logic of the real world.”,

    eigenstate replied,

    This can’t be known or demonstrated. Just asserted.

    As I mentioned in another post on one of the many threads on this topic, this statement of StephenB’s is a strong reflection of his religious beliefs that God is the source and background for both the world and man’s reasoning mind, and that the reasoning mind has a true and accurate ability to access the mind of God on these topics.

    StephenB’s assertion is founded on religious faith, and is thus unassailable and not in need of any demonstration or even a justification as to how it is known – thus his statement quoted above. For those of us without that faith, it is a mere assertion which we are not in any way compelled to find persuasive.

    For us, (or at least me), logic is a symbolic tool that we use to build models of the world, and then we test those models to see if they fit. As kf and I have pointed out, A = A presupposes that there are “things” in the real world that have a distinct identity, and it is those things that A represents. But “things” are a product of how we as human beings macroscopically experience the world. Our use of a logic based on “things” is an overlay on top of the real world – a map in which we draw boundaries in order to create things to be logical about.

    Here is a thought experiment. Imagine a truly omniscient god (but not the Christian one) who is completely aware of every detail at the quantum level of every particle, force, and interaction everyplace in the universe, all the time. In the mind of that god, there are no “things” – as best we know (even though we can’t possible really imagine the mind of this god), there would be a world of probabilities and fuzziness, not “distinct identities.”. Our reasoning capacities would certainly not correspond perfectly to that world.

    But Stephen’s God is a human-centered God, and thus, in Stephen’s faith, the logic of God reflects the world as humans experience it.

  170. 170
    kairosfocus says:

    ES,

    you are clearly off on red herring tangents. You spoke about definitions, I picked up and briefly noted. You came back at me, I amplified giving a simple case q-begging definition [which fails to adequately define . . . and is exactly a general case of dubious definition (as a literary case from Sci Fi, the gostak distims the doshes, the gostak is the distimmer and the doshes the distimmed)], remarked on the meanings of bachelor (an example you used), and highlighted a very significant issue.

    Beyond, it seems you still struggle with distinct identity and where it points. So, it is no surprise that you will throw up a wall of objecting rhetoric at every twist and turn. The fatal foundational crack is showing.

    Just to make this clear I add a clip from above:

    I suggest, that just to object ES, you are forced to use distinct strings of distinct symbols in accord with distinct rules of a distinct language. You cannot but base your objections, projections and dismissals on the very same foundational principles that you are so patently hostile to.

    These are self-evident, undeniable . . . the attempt to deny will at once necessarily rest on just said world partition and consequences that are being denied.

    KF

  171. 171
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta

    Imagine a truly omniscient god . . . even though we can’t possibl[y] really imagine the mind of this god

    Posted without further comment.

  172. 172
    Popperian says:

    You really are a thoroughly dishonest person E. I guess that being an elmininative materialist means never having to having to tell the truth when it is inconvenient.

    Note that I’m still waiting for Barry to explain how he has infallibly identified an infallible source of moral principles and infallibly interpreted that source, in practice. No such explanation has been provided.

    As such, when actually faced with a moral problem, it’s unclear how Barry has any other recource than to conjecture solutions to moral problems and criticize them, in practice.

    Surely, Barry will be forthcoming and answer this question truthfully, right? Or is it just too inconvenent for him?

  173. 173
    Aleta says:

    In another thread (which I can’t find right now), I mentioned the famous story of the parallel postulate in geometry as an instructive example of the difference between an axiomatic logical system and its application to the real world.

    I then found out that Barry was not familiar with this story. Since others here may also not know it, and since it is so famous and instructive, here is a short summary.

    Euclid’s Geometry is the paradigm of a logical system where one starts with basic axioms, or postulates, (defined by Wikipedia as “so evident as to be accepted as true without controversy”), and then builds, via logical proof, additional propositions that are true as consequences of the original premises. The wonderful thing about this is that we can then prove things that are very much not-self-evident – it’s a powerful technique.

    Euclid started with five postulates. The fifth one was the parallel postulate, which stated that given a line and point not on the line, one and only one line can be drawn that never intersects the given line. This is called a parallel line.

    Even at the time, Euclid was a bit concerned about the “self-evidence” of this postulate, as it was about extending a line forever, which was out of the reach of human construction (the real-world activity which was used to model the procedures and results of Euclid’s geometry.)

    However, using the parallel postulate, a geometry that accurately agreed with anything we experienced in the real world was built. One of the most basic resulting theorems was that the sum of the angles in any triangle is 180°.

    Over the next 2000 years, various people tried to show that the parallel postulate could be proven from more basic axioms, rather than assumed, as Euclid’s concern about its being self-evident was unresolved. These failed.

    Finally in the 1800’s a couple of people pointed out that maybe the parallel postulate wasn’t self-evident – maybe there were other possibilities for the situation.

    The two other possibilities were that, given a line and a point not on the line,

    a) there was no parallel line (no line which never intersected), or
    b) many parallel lines.

    Although this seemed impossible, these men persevered, and wound up developing geometries that are just as logically consistent, complete, and valid as Euclid’s, even though they came to contradictory conclusions in places.

    For instance, in the first case above, there are more than 180° in a triangle, and in the second case less than 180°.

    Later, these geometries were found to apply to “curved” 2-dimensional surfaces: the first (elliptical geometry) to positively-curved surfaces such as a sphere and the second (hyperbolic geometry) to negatively-curved surfaces such as a hyperbolic paraboloid, as opposed to a flat surface to which the original parallel postulate applies.

    Since we also have a 3-dimensional Euclidean space (the one that is modeled by three mutually perpendicular axes), at some point people asked, “So what kind of space do we live in?” Is 3-d space a Euclidean flat space, or is it possibly a non-Euclidean space, either elliptical or hyperbolic? And what would a “curved” 3-d space even mean?

    All of this math, and all of these questions, of course, became an important part of the next two centuries of math and physics, but I’ll end the story here.

    And so, here is the important thing.

    All three geometries are “true” in that they are complete, consistent logical systems within themselves.

    But which one is “true” about the world? That is a question that can only be determined by testing – by examining the world to see which “fits best.”

    There is no “perfect correspondence” between these logical systems and the real world – none of them are self-evidently true.

    This is an instructive story, and central to a modern understanding of the nature of human knowledge.

  174. 174
    Aleta says:

    Barry quotes me, with ellipses, as saying, “Imagine a truly omniscient god . . . even though we can’t possibl[y] really imagine the mind of this god,” and then says “Posted without further comment.”

    Hmmm. It seems like Christians do this all the time – declare themselves to know something about a God about whom they also and often declare to be beyond man’s understanding. Of course we can’t truly imagine either the mind of the God you believe in or the god I was trying to invoke as a thought experiment. But Christians have nevertheless written jillions of words describing and arguing about the nature of the mind of God.

    So I don’t think my little thought experiment, and the point I was trying to make (which Barry ignored), is out of line.

  175. 175
    daveS says:

    Very nice post at #173, Aleta.

  176. 176
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta,

    Hmmm. It seems like Christians do this all the time – declare themselves to know something about a God about whom they also and often declare to be beyond man’s understanding.

    Let’s divide this statement into its two clauses:

    (1) “[Christians] declare themselves to know something about a God”
    (2) about whom they also and often declare to be beyond man’s understanding.

    You say there is a contradiction between (1) and (2). It is obvious that there is not. It is not inconsistent to say one knows something about X while at the same time admitting that one does not know everything about X. This is obvious, so it is a mystery why you think the two statements are inconsistent.

    Of course we can’t truly imagine either the mind of the God you believe in or the god I was trying to invoke as a thought experiment.

    It is true that we can’t truly imagine the mind of God. That does not mean we can’t know anything about Him. Again, it is a mystery why you would suggest that because we can’t know X fully it is impossible to know X even partially. Your premises does not support your conclusion as a matter of logic.

    But Christians have nevertheless written jillions of words describing and arguing about the nature of the mind of God.

    Indeed, they have, and for the reasons I’ve explained there is nothing illogical or contradictory about that.

    So I don’t think my little thought experiment, and the point I was trying to make (which Barry ignored), is out of line.

    I did not ignore your thought experiment. I demonstrated that it was internally incoherent.

  177. 177
    Aleta says:

    Barry, I was making the same point you are – that even though I can’t “really” imagine the mind of the god I was envisioning, I could make a statement about “something I might know” – that there would be no things there.

    Of course, to me, both these gods are imaginary, so what you see as “consistent” about your position is consistent and coherent because you make it so by declaration.

  178. 178
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta’s aphorism:

    1. In the past people made errors.
    2. Therefore, we should be all wobbly on whether 2+2=4.

    Aleta, 2 does not follow from 1.

  179. 179
    Aleta says:

    Totally misrepresentation of my position, and not on this topic. You are not interested in genuine discussion.

  180. 180
    Barry Arrington says:

    Barry, I was making the same point you are – that even though I can’t “really” imagine the mind of the god I was envisioning, I could make a statement about “something I might know” – that there would be no things there.

    No, you were not making the same point that I am. I state that we can comprehend God partially, but not in his essence. But your hypothetical is based on your conjecture about what God knows when He knows everything while at the same time admitting that we cannot possibly know what God knows when He knows everything. And that it why your thought experiment is incoherent.

  181. 181
    Aleta says:

    But your belief that you can comprehend God partially is just made up – the difference is that I know I’m hypothesizing about an imaginary god and you think your God is real.

  182. 182
    Aleta says:

    Thanks, DaveS. I wonder if Barry read about it and thought about what it might mean?

  183. 183
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta,

    But your belief that you can comprehend God partially is just made up – the difference is that I know I’m hypothesizing about an imaginary god and you think your God is real.

    So you are a dogmatist. You are wobbly on the whole 2+2=4 thing, but you are absolutely sure that God does not exist. Natch.

  184. 184
    Aleta says:

    What do you think about the parallel postulate story, Barry? Any thoughts about it what may say about the nature of the relationship between logical systems and reality?

  185. 185
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta,

    What do you think about the parallel postulate story, Barry?

    It is an interesting story Aleta. I think you draw the wrong conclusions about it, as I said in 178 above.

    Any thoughts about it what may say about the nature of the relationship between logical systems and reality?

    Why yes, I do have thoughts on that topic. In particular, I think people like you are frequently dishonest when they employ histrionics about the purported difficulties of mapping reality with a logical system.

    You demonstrated this in the 2+2=4 thread. You said that 2+2=4 does not map to reality when one attempts to add velocities. But as a math teacher you above all people know that the “2” and the “4” in that equation map to the cardinality of sets of distinct elements. And you also know that a “velocity” is not a set. And therefore you were being fundamentally dishonest when you suggested that “2+2=4 does not work when adding velocities” in an obvious attempt to cast doubt on the possibility of mapping reality with logical systems.

  186. 186
    Mung says:

    Aleta: StephenB’s assertion is founded on religious faith, and is thus unassailable and not in need of any demonstration or even a justification as to how it is known – thus his statement quoted above. For those of us without that faith, it is a mere assertion which we are not in any way compelled to find persuasive.

    This is just an assertion. Please explain your reasoning.

    Thank you

  187. 187
    Aleta says:

    I’ve been thinking about the issue of adding velocities, Barry – that was a reasonable point to consider. However, I assume you accept that we can add measurable quantities – if I walk ten feet and then walk another ten feet, I will have walked 20 feet. Here we are thinking of a foot as a distinct entity, and adding the feet is a matter of counting distinct elements. Also, we can measure, and thus count fractions of a foot by just changing the size of the distinct elements – we can count hundredths of a foot or thousandths of a foot.

    So I assume you accept that if I travel 10 feet and then I travel another 10 feet, I will travel 20 feet: 10′ + 10′ = 20′

    So now imagine I am travelling on one of those walkways at an airport that is moving at some speed, and by coincidence (to make things simpler) I am walking at the same speed on the walkway. Also, assume that in a certain amount of time the walkway moves 10 feet in relationship to the stationary ground, so that I also would walk 10 feet in relationship to the walkway. Therefore, I would have walked 20 feet in relationship to the ground – these are countable, distinct elements that we adding here, not velocities.

    However, it is false that I would have walked 20 feet in respect to the ground! 10′ + 10′ does equal 20 feet in this situation, contrary to all that common sense would tell us.

    Is this re-phrasing of the situation still “dishonest”? If this doesn’t change your opinion of this example, explain to me how adding units of measurements doesn’t meet the criteria of “the cardinality of sets of distinct elements.”

  188. 188
    Mung says:

    Popperian:

    Note that I’m still waiting for Barry to explain how he has infallibly identified an infallible source of moral principles and infallibly interpreted that source, in practice. No such explanation has been provided.

    So?

    Popperian:

    As such, when actually faced with a moral problem, it’s unclear how Barry has any other recource than to conjecture solutions to moral problems and criticize them, in practice.

    So?

    Are you making value judgments here, or just offering an opinion?

  189. 189
    Mung says:

    Aleta:

    For us, (or at least me), logic is a symbolic tool that we use to build models of the world, and then we test those models to see if they fit. As kf and I have pointed out, A = A presupposes that there are “things” in the real world that have a distinct identity, and it is those things that A represents. But “things” are a product of how we as human beings macroscopically experience the world. Our use of a logic based on “things” is an overlay on top of the real world – a map in which we draw boundaries in order to create things to be logical about.

    For us, (or at least me), logic is a means to gain knowledge. It is for you too, or at least you act as if it is.

    This model-building of the real world using symbolic logic, is that what you’re doing when you’re analyzing Barry’s arguments or constructing your own? Or do you have two kinds of logic?

    Our use of a logic based on “things” is an overlay on top of the real world – a map in which we draw boundaries in order to create things to be logical about.

    Why would we do such a thing?

  190. 190
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta @ 187

    Are you suggesting that your example represents two sets both having a cardinality of “2” that are added together to reach a third set that has a cardinality of something other than “4”?

    No, you are not. And you know you are not. Yet you are still trying to cast doubt on 2+2=4 with your example. And because you know what you are doing, you cannot plead mistake. You are being dishonest again. This reflects poorly on your character.

    Here’s a question for you. Do you think your dishonesty is somehow related to your disbelief in God? I do, but I’m just wondering about your take on the matter.

  191. 191
    Barry Arrington says:

    BTW Aleta,

    There is a way to prove your point that 2+2=4 does not invariably map to reality. Just show me any two sets both having a cardinality of “2” that are added together to reach a third set that has a cardinality of something other than “4.”

    Yes, that is impossible. I know. Game, set, match.

  192. 192
    kairosfocus says:

    Aleta,

    I am familiar with the way that other geometries have been created.

    However, set up the Re axis, operate on it with i to get the Argand plane. Now, set up a line of points Z = f(x, i*y) where y = m*x + c.

    Set m constant, and allow c to vary.

    For any x, you will have a set of guaranteed straight lines in a common plane of constant separation and the same slope, i.e. you have a definition of parallel, and an algebraic guarantee that the parallel lines in the plane will never meet for all x. Also, that the slopes which are tangents of the angle to ox, will be the same.

    Parallel, straight lines that will never meet.

    What happens with other Geometries is that they effectively equivocate meanings.

    Yes, other Geometries are feasible but in the sort of “flat” space suggested by our general experience it is indeed the case that parallel straight lines as suitably understood will never meet.

    This is already evident from classical Geometry, but in our day we seem to trust or acknowledge Algebra more. Indeed, it is a reasonable expectation from what parallel properly means.

    Now, is this sort of flat space the world we inhabit?

    (Notice, I went to Complex numbers to get guaranteed planes etc.)

    Not on the large scale, but that is an onward issue.

    KF

  193. 193
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta,

    I’ve been thinking about the issue of adding velocities, Barry

    Good for you. But what I would like you to reflect on is your dishonesty that I demonstrated in 185. Please allow me to offer some suggestions for those reflections. First, you have to admit that you have indeed been dishonest by using an example that you no for a certain fact does not apply. Second, please reflect on your motivations. Ask yourself, “Why was I dishonest?” “Is my dishonesty related to my disbelief in God?”

    Feel free to come back and give us a report on the result of your ruminations.

  194. 194
    Barry Arrington says:

    KF,

    Thanks for weighing in on the geometry issue. I do not have the technical mathematical background necessary to meet Aleta on that field, and he cynically took advantage of that fact. I suspected (but was unable to confirm) that Aleta was equivocating, just as he equivocates when he tries to get people to be wobbly on the whole 2+2=4 thing. Thanks for confirming it.

  195. 195
    Aleta says:

    I am not trying to “cast doubt” on 2 + 2 = 4. In the logical system in which those concepts are defined 2 + 2 is absolutely and unequivocally true. Also, in all cases where common human experience applies, such as counting stones, 2 things + 2 things will 4 things. No doubt about that.

    But, as we have explored the world more deeply, we have found that a commonsense notion about how quantities should add doesn’t work – in this case, the world isn’t as we thought it was.

    With that said, I’d like you to explain your objection to my example, and not just dismiss it as dishonest.

    First, I assume (but I was wrong last time I made an assumption like this) that you are familiar with the theory of relativity, and that you accept that the distanced I travel would not be 20 feet in respect to the ground. It might be good if you confirmed that assumption.

    So you must think that measuring the distance is not an example of “adding two sets of distinct elements” Do you think that measuring distance in general is different than counting, or do you think that somehow the fact that the walkway moves and I move on the walkway makes the things we are counting not the same as “adding two sets of distinct elements”?

    Please explain.

  196. 196
    kairosfocus says:

    Aleta,

    addition of vectors is not the same thing as addition of scalars. Just as with addition of matrices.

    I see you posted a comment just before me so I modify by clipping you:

    as we have explored the world more deeply, we have found that a commonsense notion about how quantities should add doesn’t work – in this case, the world isn’t as we thought it was.

    We see the same sort of equivocation again.

    You are clearly equivocating addition. A vector is not a number, it is a structure that is often based on numbers [other types can be defined], i.e. a 1 x n or n x 1 array, a special matrix.

    What happened is that we used a term in a new context on understanding that the two are not to be confounded. As you know you cannot add a real number and even a 2 x 1 column vector.

    In short, you equivocated.

    KF

  197. 197
    Aleta says:

    No Barry, kf at 192 misses the point. All the stuff he mentioned at the start of his post says that in a standard coordinate plane, which is flat, there will always be one and only parallel line, which is true

    Then kf writes,

    Yes, other Geometries are feasible but in the sort of “flat” space suggested by our general experience it is indeed the case that parallel straight lines as suitably understood will never meet.

    True – our general experience is that the world is flat. Our general experience doesn’t have a particularly good track record for being right. Euclidean geometry is perfectly fine for building houses, but not for astrophysics

    And then kf writes,

    What happens with other Geometries is that they effectively equivocate meanings.

    No, they don’t “equivocate” anything. They make different starting assumptions about the number of parallel lines that can be drawn through a point not on line: 0, 1, or an infinite number. The meaning of parallel doesn’t change.

    Then he writes,

    Now, is this sort of flat space the world we inhabit? Not on the large scale, but that is an onward issue.

    Yes, that is exactly the issue. Space may not be flat – our common experience of living in flat space may be just because we can only experience a very little part of it at any one time, but for all practical purposes assuming it is flat works just fine. At larger scales, that may not be true.

    There are three distinct and equally valid 2-d geometries. No one of them has any special a priori validity in respect to the real world.

  198. 198
    Aleta says:

    to kf at 196.

    I assume you accept that we can add distances if the distances are in the same direction . That is, even though the distances are vectors, 2 feet + 2 feet = 4 feet in the case where the vectors are tail-to-tip in the same direction (same angle.)

    True?

  199. 199
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta,

    Stop it. Really. Again, there is a way to prove your point that 2+2=4 does not invariably map to reality. Just show me any two sets both having a cardinality of “2” that are added together to reach a third set that has a cardinality of something other than “4.”

    In response you keep saying variations of “If you try to apply it in areas where it does not apply, it does not work.”

    Really, what is the point of that? It is getting tiresome.

    as we have explored the world more deeply . . .

    we have found that 2+2=4 is invariably, infallibly true in every single instance.

  200. 200
    eigenstate says:

    @KF,

    Parallel, straight lines that will never meet.

    What happens with other Geometries is that they effectively equivocate meanings.

    There is no equivocaiton — the axioms are different and clearly stated as such. Riemannian geometries do not employ Euclidian axioms, they operate from their own axioms. There is no confusion or conflation between the two. The whole point of invoking this example is to illustrate the logical bootstrapping for different frameworks with their own definitions, their own axioms. Parallel lines in elliptical geometries do cross, due to the way the geometric space is defined.

    To suggest this is equivocation is to signal, once again, that you don’t understand the subject matter. And poor Barry, I see, supposes he can rely on your nonsense as a proxy case against Aleta, alas (Barry, you’re better off with the usual skim read on Wikipedia and throwing out a word salad based on key terms gleaned from the skim than deferring to KF here…).

    Yes, other Geometries are feasible but in the sort of “flat” space suggested by our general experience it is indeed the case that parallel straight lines as suitably understood will never meet.

    “Feasible”? What can that even mean, here. What would make a Riemannian geometry “feasible” or “infeasible”, a Euclidian geometry “feasible” or “infeasible”?? What Aleta (and I) have been trying to point out is that these are logical frameworks, rules systems built on a set of axioms and other definitions. They aren’t any more (or less) “feasible” than any other set of axioms/rules. “Certainty” does not apply to axioms of formal systems, and neither does “Feasibility”, and for the same reason — those are synthetic concepts, attributes that pertain to how some logical system might be applied to our real world experience.

    Once again, the claim I’m making that you (and Barry and StephenB) are thoroughly confused on the distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions is validated.

    This is already evident from classical Geometry, but in our day we seem to trust or acknowledge Algebra more. Indeed, it is a reasonable expectation from what parallel properly means.

    Not relevant to the formal system *as* a formal system? Do you understand the difference between a formal system and attempts to *apply* a formal system in real world models, and experiments? You are thinking the map is the territory.

    Now, is this sort of flat space the world we inhabit?

    Oy. In order to work on such questions you first have to have a conceptual framework which provides the rules and semantics for any answer you might hope to arrive at. The logical framework is not the physical dynamic. The logical framework is a means for thinking about the extra-mental world. The LOI is not concerned with ontology – ontological propositions are synthetic propositions. The LOI is analytic. The example of different geometries was well chosen by Aleta (I brought up the same example, without the more thorough treatment Aleta provided) to provide handy frameworks most of us are familiar with that highlight the distinction between logical propositions and epistemic propositions about the extra-mental world. And your response shows not a hint of understanding of this, even so, and worse, commends the “confused” hypothesis I’ve been offering; you allow that different geometries might be “feasible”, which is a blatant category error for geometries as geometries, analytical frameworks.

  201. 201
    kairosfocus says:

    Aleta,

    You are doubling down.

    I can understand with Euclidean vs non-Euclidean Geometries as there really is a lot of stuff said out there.

    I went to the Argand Plane as that best allows bridging Algebra and Geometry. (The ijk vectors would do much the same but are far more cumbersome.)

    Once we specify a flat space — one suggested by our small-scale experience — we see that the parallel postulate is precisely correct for that situation. And there will be infinitely many parallel lines with the same m but varying c. All, parallel and none converging or diverging as x moves far from the origin, without limit.

    Guaranteed by the algebra, separation of y1 = mx + c1 and y2 = mx + c2 for a given x per gap in y-coords, will be c2 – c1 for any x. constant separation independent of x value.

    And I pointed out that on the bigger scale a different geometry is applicable.

    But it is to equivocate to suggest that for its context, the axiom has been falsified.

    Likewise, I repeat, vector addition and its requisites uses the term addition but it is generally understood that these are quite distinct things. To suggest that addition (which normally denotes reals or a subset of the reals) does not follow what we are familiar with then switch contexts without due notice is equivocation and that is less innocent as abundant cautions are given.

    And in case you want to bring up that one, a Complex number, strictly, is a vector. That is why you work on components and in effect unit vectors. Yes, i in effect is a unit vector. (And onward, off we go to using complex exponentials to account for rotating vectors in the Complex plane.)

    KF

  202. 202
    StephenB says:

    SB: That is why sound arguments, (which are about the real world) are valid arguments (which are about our conceptions) with true premises (which are also about the real world. If you don’t understand what I just wrote, say so and I will explain it in a different way.

    eigenstate

    Doesn’t follow. The universe can support sound (true premises) and valid (logically) arguments, and has no need for any “perfect correspondence” as you assert.

    I didn’t ask you to evaluate what I said. You are not familiar enough with the subject matter to do that. I asked you to absorb what I said.

    Reality, (not the universe), cannot support logically valid arguments and logically sound arguments that are inconsistent with one another. That is why a valid argument is what it is and a sound argument is what it is. Otherwise, valid arguments and sound arguments, could invalidate each other, which is insane.

    hile other products of your reasoning are wholly mistaken, or perhaps just not capable of comprehending the actual dynamics of reality in this aspect or that. It doesn’t have to be that way either — reality is not beholden to my intuitions or yours. The point being that your “why” here doesn’t follow from your premise, even if I were to accept it (provisionally for purposes of discussion).

    I will try to explain it in a way that you might be able to understand. Dpn’t take it personally. The idea is to awaken your rational sensibilities by jolting you with a personal connection. Nothing else seems to be working.

    Let’s consider the following argument:

    All eliminative materialists are idiots,

    eigenstate is an eliminative materialist,

    Therefore, eigenstate is an idiot.

    That is a valid argument, but it may not be a sound argument.

    If, in the real world, it turns out that all eliminative materialists are really idiots, and if, under the circumstances, eigenstate is an eliminative materialist, then if follows that eigenstate is definitely an idiot. That would be a sound argument.

    Accordingly, the only way the first argument can be valid and the second argument can be sound, is if the internal logic of our minds corresponds perfectly and infallibly with the logic of the real world. If that was not the case, then valid arguments and sound arguments could invalidate each other.

    Do you understand why this is not possible? It is not possible because in both cases, the conclusions are always understood to follow infallibly from the premises. If either argument could be invalidated by the other, they would no longer be what they are, namely arguments in which the conclusion follows infallibly from the premise. If a conclusion that follows infallibly from a premise can be shown to be wrong by another argument, then it obviously didn’t follow infallibly from the premise.

    SB: Accordingly, the definition of LOI and LNC remain the same. The former is about things and the latter is about what we think and say about those things. It is as simple as that. Don’t try to over-complicate things in the name of sophistication.

    Well, I think we can simplify this to just noting that you are clearly committed to (what I claim is the confusion) that the LOI is indeed a physical principle, not a principle of reasoning and thought. If the LOI is about “things”, the conflation is confirmed, it’s that simple.

    Are you cuckoo? The LOI is a non physical principle that applies to physical things. The LNC is a non physical principle that applies to concepts. Hence, the connection between the logic of the mind and the logic of the real world.

    if you suppose the LOI is “about things” rather than “how we think about things”, the difficulty obtains, no matter which terms you prefer.

    There is no difficulty except in your understanding. The LOI definitely refers to the identity of things, not the identity of concepts. The Empire State Building (one entity with an identity) cannot also be Mount Everest (another entity with an identity). That is the law of identity in action. It is not about the idea or concept of those two entities. It is about the entities themselves.

    The difficulty here is that your subjectivism, which is likely a product of your materialism, prompts you to believe that reason’s rules are always about concepts in the mind and never about things outside of the mind. I am trying to disabuse you of that error because it is fatal to your intelligence. And, of course, I am trying to protect onlookers, who have been bamboozled by the same kinds of teachers that compromised your inability to reason properly.

  203. 203
    kairosfocus says:

    ES, you are trying a piling on. Fail. I simply point out for familiar instance that in the space denoted by the surface of a sphere — roughly comparable to earth’s surface — lines of longitude converge, lines of latitude don’t; and of course angles at triangle vertices behave in a very different manner than the classic sum to two right angles. But to pretend as though that is not a very different context from The Plane, is serious and too often manipulative equivocation. That FYI is why I took a moment to algebraically bridge to the spatial context which is what classical geometry and its extension in classic Coordinate Geometry, address. KF

  204. 204
    Aleta says:

    If I walk 10 feet and then walk 10 feet in the same direction, I will have walked 20 feet. I lay out 10 sticks each a foot long, and then I lay out 10 more foot-long sticks, and I count them and I went 20 feet. These sets each have cardinality 10, and they add up by counting.

    If I walk ten feet on a moving walkway that itself moves 10 feet, I don’t walk 20 feet, so this means that cardinality doesn’t apply here. Does it not apply because by definition if it did 10 + 10 would equal 20, or does it not apply because we aren’t counting foot-long sticks as we were in the first example?

    We can drop this, by the way. The Euclidean geometry issue is the more important. As I said to kf,

    There are three distinct and equally valid 2-d geometries. No one of them has any special a priori validity in respect to the real world.

  205. 205
    Aleta says:

    kf writes, “kf writes,

    But it is to equivocate to suggest that for its context, the axiom has been falsified.

    This remark so misses the point! I, and no one else, is even hinting that we can falsify the parallel postulate! And “for its context”, it is the best axiom we have for most purposes. I would never dream of using non-Euclidean geometry in framing a house.

    But there are other axioms that produce different geometries, which have uses in other contexts. All of the three possible postulates are entirely true – they are axioms!, within their own geometry, but that doesn’t make the others false – it just means that if you have different logical starting points you get different logical conclusions, and overall different geometries.

  206. 206
    kairosfocus says:

    Aleta, the equivocations are ever more apparent. I suggest doubling down on this will simply further show the problem. In this case [0, 10] + [0, 10] –> [0, 20]. Do you think suppressing the difference between a vector and a scalar is going to actually help your case? Likewise, when one switches unannounced from a plane to the surface of a sphere or another context, that is apt to confound results. KF

  207. 207
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta,

    We can drop this . . .

    Aleta, why did you not drop it when it was demonstrated that you were being dishonest when you were holding up a map of Texas and yelping about how it did not map to Arizona? I will tell you why. Because you are like almost every materialist I have ever encountered on this site. (eigenstate, whom I see has rejoined us, probably being the worst). When you get caught, instead of withdrawing your claim and apologizing, you feel compelled to double down.

    Why do you think that is Aleta? Does it have anything to do with that fact that you think of yourself has nothing more than sentient meat, and it is obvious that one chunk of meat has no moral duty to another chunk of meat, including the duty of honesty? I think it probably does.

  208. 208
    Barry Arrington says:

    BTW Aleta, I wrote my “doubling down” comment before I saw KF’s “doubling down” comment.

  209. 209
    Aleta says:

    kf writes,

    I simply point out for familiar instance that in the space denoted by the surface of a sphere — roughly comparable to earth’s surface — lines of longitude converge, lines of latitude don’t; ..,

    Uh, latitude “lines” are not really lines on a sphere in that they are not the shortest distance between two point. Only great circles are lines in the geometric sense, and they all converge.

    kf writes,

    But to pretend as though that is not a very different context from The Plane, is serious and too often manipulative equivocation.

    I’m not “pretend[ing] as though that is not a very different context from The Plane.” I’m saying the opposite – yes a flat geometry is different than a non-flat one, and they are applicable in different contexts. But no one geometry, nor no one of the starting parallel postulates, is any more true, in a logical sense, than any other. The may be more or less “true”, or “true enough” in different practical contexts, but that is a different kind of truth (synthetic, not analytic, to use the terms ES has been using.)

  210. 210
    Barry Arrington says:

    eigenstate,

    You ignored my question at 167. I will repeat it:

    I am curious about one thing though. After watching you do your thing over the course of several months, it is clear to me that you will say literally anything you think you can get away with. And that brings up the issue I raised before: You think of yourself as nothing more than sentient meat. One chunk of meat has no moral obligation to another chunk of meat, including an obligation to tell the truth. It is obvious that you put this principle into practice. And the amazing thing is that when you get caught lying it never fazes you. Indeed, it just seems to invigorate you and compel you to double down on your lies. My question is this: What is the point? Obviously, it is not to get at the truth. Why do you do it?

  211. 211
    Aleta says:

    kf writes,

    Likewise, when one switches unannounced from a plane to the surface of a sphere or another context, that is apt to confound results.

    And where did I “switch unannouceed” from a plane to a sphere. I believe I have been quite clear and explicit about the three geometries throughout this discussion.

  212. 212
    Barry Arrington says:

    SB

    The difficulty here is that your subjectivism, which is likely a product of your materialism, prompts you to believe that reason’s rules are always about concepts in the mind and never about things outside of the mind.

    And of course, the irony is that eigenstate does not believe he has a “mind” if by “mind” one believes anything other than the electro-chemical processes churning around in his skull.

  213. 213
    Aleta says:

    This discussion about “chunks of meat” is utterly irrelevant and ludicrous. I am certain that large numbers of Christian mathematicians would agree with me about the non-Euclidean geometry story and its significance, and about the relationship between math and the world in general, and would find your and kf’s inability to “get it” a bit puzzling.

    So I suggest we talk about the subjects at hand rather than reverting to name-calling and making irrelevant comments about my morals.

  214. 214
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta,

    And where did I “switch unannouceed” from a plane to a sphere.

    You did that in the same way that you switched unannounced from adding sets with cardinality to adding velocities in an effort to cast a shadow over whether 2+2=4 always maps accurately to reality. Your commitment to dishonest equivocation seems to be a fundamental part of your character.

    Again, I ask you, for the fourth time I think, do you think that dishonesty has something to do with your disbelieve in God?

  215. 215
    Aleta says:

    Barry – a question you never answered. I accept that this is not relevant to 2 + 2 = 4.

    Are you or are you not familiar with the result from the theory of relativity that in the walkway example, I would not walk 20 feet in respect to the ground, but a little less.

  216. 216
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta,

    So I suggest we talk about the subjects at hand rather than reverting to name-calling and making irrelevant comments about my morals.

    Look at the title of this OP Aleta. This post is about materialist nihilism. Therefore, questions about why you attempt to mislead by holding up a map of Texas and yelping about how it does not map to Arizona are for from irrelevant. Indeed, they are right on point. So please answer my question. Why did you try to mislead everyone with an example you knew full well was not apt?

    I am certain that large numbers of Christian mathematicians would agree with me . . .

    Are you also certain that large numbers of Christian mathematicians would try your Texas/Arizona stunt? I am just as certain that is not the case.

  217. 217
    Aleta says:

    And in which post did I “switch unannouced from a plane to a sphere.” Can you point to a post where I did that.? Can you quote me something I wrote?

  218. 218
    eigenstate says:

    @Barry

    You ignored by question at 167. I will repeat it:

    I am curious about one thing though. After watching you do your thing over the course of several months, it is clear to me that you will say literally anything you think you can get away with. And that brings up the issue I raised before: You think of yourself as nothing more than sentient meat. One chunk of meat has no moral obligation to another chunk of meat, including an obligation to tell the truth. It is obvious that you put this principle into practice. And the amazing thing is that when you get caught lying it never fazes you. Indeed, it just seems to invigorate you and compel you to double down on your lies. My question is this: What is the point? Obviously, it is not to get at the truth. Why do you do it?

    I’m sorry I understood that to just so much posturing for the crowd on your part. “One chunk of sentient meat” — by which you mean I human, I understand — does have moral obligations to other humans. Humans are evolved social creatures, and are hardwired with social psychologies that prioritize social contracts and and other social priorities — empathy, for example, that facilitate trust, collaboration and efficient allocation of work and resources in the community. Survival is a team sport for humans, so we are wired that way — ethics and moral codes are part of the machinery for humans.

    So your premise is wrong. Humans have psychological and moral priorities wired into them — this is how they are reified as “sentient meat”.

    As for lying, maybe just a single example of what you are referring to would be a good start. Provide a quote where you claim I’ve offered the quote knowing that the statement I was making was false, and we will go from there. My ambivalence to these variants of your rants — aside form my initial read that it was just so much posturing for the crowd — is that you find ideas that oppose yours to be dishonest just by virtue of their being opposed to your invincible intuitions. So it’s hard to marshal up much attention to that, as it’s a pervasive reflex. You don’t credit your opponents with meaning what they say, but take the low road and help yourself to the idea that they really know you’re right Barry, and are just lying about it. I’m told from time to time that I really am not at atheist, and really do know God exists, and am just lying about as some sort of rebellious sin. It’s not just an obnoxious way to interact with other people, it just makes for stupendously boring and banal exchanges that proceed from that position.

    I don’t accept the premises you’re offering, Barry, that’s my answer. If you want to focus on a specific example of something I said which you can demonstrate I said knowing it was false, I’ll be happy to take a look at it. Please provide a full quote and link, Barry, as I know better than to credit the way you recount the statements and arguments of your opponents. None of us recognize our own words or ideas in your representation of them, as a general pattern, in case you weren’t aware. And that’s not an inevitable fact, for example. VJTorley here is as wrong as anyone else here on the merits, in my view, but he’s an example that shows one can disagree and still have some principles about understanding and engaging opposing ideas as they are offered. You don’t do that, even though you could.

    That just makes it necessary for your to provide the quotes and links, so we avoid your problem, there in looking at an example you would provide.

  219. 219
    Aleta says:

    Thanks for addressing the “meat” issue, ES. This is quite off-topic and irrelevant to our discussion, but Barry brought it up.

    Anyway, I like what you wrote here,

    One chunk of sentient meat” — by which you mean I human, I understand — does have moral obligations to other humans. Humans are evolved social creatures, and are hardwired with social psychologies that prioritize social contracts and and other social priorities — empathy, for example, that facilitate trust, collaboration and efficient allocation of work and resources in the community. Survival is a team sport for humans, so we are wired that way — ethics and moral codes are part of the machinery for humans.

  220. 220
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Likewise, I repeat, vector addition and its requisites uses the term addition but it is generally understood that these are quite distinct things. To suggest that addition (which normally denotes reals or a subset of the reals) does not follow what we are familiar with then switch contexts without due notice is equivocation and that is less innocent as abundant cautions are given.

    And in case you want to bring up that one, a Complex number, strictly, is a vector. That is why you work on components and in effect unit vectors.

    This is not true in my experience. The word “addition” is used in contexts much broader than simply subsets of the real numbers. It’s commonly used as a name for the binary operation in an abelian group. We speak of addition of complex numbers, for example.

    And in fact, since the complex numbers comprise a field, every complex number is a scalar as well.

    I really don’t see any issues with the terms and language Aleta has used; absolutely nothing misleading or equivocal about it.

  221. 221
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, Go to the Clapham bus stop. Ask the man you see there in ordinary clothes what addition normally means, without further specifying an unusual context. You will get 2 + 2 = 4 or the like. My point is just that, and it is quite certain that vector addition is not to be brought in without reasonable discussion of new context — the equivocation issue. Abelian Groups with commutative operations (vs non commutative ones) is in some ways even more esoteric. One will at least meet vectors in 4th form Physics and will be taught that a vector has magnitude and direction vs a scalar with magnitude only. The “generalisation” of addition involved, in an ordinary context, is exactly an example of equivocation: unannounced and in context misleading material shifts of meaning. Finally, there is a reason why complex numbers have two components, x + iy, r angle theta, r e^i theta or the like. No prizes for guessing why it has magnitude and direction from the origin. KF

  222. 222

    ES said:

    One chunk of sentient meat” — by which you mean I human, I understand — does have moral obligations to other humans. Humans are evolved social creatures, and are hardwired with social psychologies that prioritize social contracts and and other social priorities — empathy, for example, that facilitate trust, collaboration and efficient allocation of work and resources in the community. Survival is a team sport for humans, so we are wired that way — ethics and moral codes are part of the machinery for humans.

    By this reasoning, humans apparently also evolved to be hardwired for belief in god and to place social contracts and empathies secondary to believed-in divine commandments and to consider such rules absolute. They also evolved into sociopaths and psychopaths. They also evolved into groups that will use and manipulate the empathies and feelings of others for their own gain.

    ES and others fail to recognize that if you’re going to play the evolutionary ethics card, then all human behavior is validated as equally ethical because it all evolved, and there is no non-evolutionary standard by which to discern which evolved psychological habits are preferable.

    What does the term “obligation” mean when one is referring to behavior that is physically caused by the interactions of molecules?? Do you also have an “obligation” to gasp when deprived of air? An “obligation” to eat when you feel hungry? Who or what do you owe that “obligation” to, and what is the penalty for failing to live up to it?

    Under your evolutionary perspective, you might be “obligated” (meaning, under evolution, “wired to feel strongly about) to save your neighbor’s child from your neighbors abuse; yet that same evolutionarly foundation entirely justifies that abuse; in fact, you can equally say he has a moral obligation to abuse his child because that is how evolution has wired him.

    This kind of equivocation is just more insane nonsense materialists use to aviod the truth.

  223. 223
    Learned Hand says:

    LH:
    “If you ever feel the need to articulate a positive argument, I’d be interested in hearing it . . .”
    said the guy who is not certain he is not Mount Everest.
    LH, does it make you feel all super-duper sophisticated and intellectual when you say damn fool idiot things like that. It shouldn’t.

    If you had to list the readers here who don’t understand why you resort to insults rather than arguments, who would go on that list? Which of your readers do you think is dim enough to think that you have some cogent argument you’re just not bothering to write down?

    HeKS,

    Second, it’s not that anybody is saying, “Wait! Stop there! This is some complex proposition that we must believe and have faith in and it is not open to challenge.”

    That’s not actually true. I think BA at least has taken exactly this position in the past: that he has access to self-evident moral truths that we must believe and have faith in and are not open to challenge.

    What we’re saying to you and Learned Hand is that if you actually understand the Law of Identity, as represented by A=A, then you will notice that you can’t coherently challenge it without your challenge immediately descending into completely meaningless absurdity.

    And here I’ll explain—again—that this isn’t my position. I’m not challenging the LOI. I’m challenging the assumption that you’re capable of infallibly perceiving the LOI. Notice where you wrote, “if you actually understand the Law of Identity”? Well, I agree that this is an active question. Maybe you don’t. How can you know, when you are fallible and have no infallible tool for controlling error?

    An analytic proposition is one that is true BY DEFINITION.

    If that’s the case, then it’s another case of cogito ergo sum, or knowing one’s own beliefs: if I define A=A for the purposes of logic, is it possible my own definition is in error? I confess cogito ergo sum is the hardest case for me, but I don’t think it answers my underlying question: how do you know, without an unlimited and flawless perspective, whether you’ve misunderstood or failed to observe something?

    And I’m not sure this limitation is accurate here. BA will have to speak for himself, but if he really limits this to a question of definitions, it’s a recent development in his thinking. Remember when he banned critics for not kowtowing to his principles of right reason? One of the acid tests was about whether Jupiter can exist and not exist at the same time. Now we’re talking about physical objects and states, not just abstract definitions.

    And of course, the end goal of this presumption of infallibility is to establish the existence of objective moral truths that are infallibly known. Is that a question of definition? I don’t think so. I think BA and SB want to be able to say that it’s objectively true and unquestionable that fetuses are people from conception, for example. Not that they define fetuses as such, but that it’s true prior to any work they might do creating a definition.

    Having said all that, if we treat A=A in the way you suggest—essentially, “I define A to be A,” for the purposes of building a logical system—I certainly can’t see how that could be in error. Two points to bear in mind: first, now we’re back to an axiom. Axioms are things we assume to be true, not things that are proven true. I think BA and SB want these SETs to be true in some way other than “we, as human beings, define them to be such.” Second, the fact that I can’t see how a definition could be in error is not logical proof that a definition can’t be in error. Can you supply such a proof?

    A) Yes, Barry can infallibly know that analytic propositions are amenable to infallible knowledge, because they are true by definition, which makes it impossible for them to be false.

    Granted, arguendo, subject to my thoughts above.

    C) Yes, Barry can infallibly tell that a particular analytic proposition is true when it has been identified as such, because all analytic propositions are necessarily true by definition.

    I guess if we’re granting (A) arguendo, this one follows along.

    B) Yes, Barry can infallibly discriminate between analytic and synthetic propositions in any case where he can understand the proposition in question, since that will allow him to determine whether or not the predicate is included in the subject. If it is, it’s an analytic proposition. If it’s not, then it’s not.

    Can he? If we wrote down a thousand propositions and asked him to assess each one, as either an analytic and synthetic proposition, he’d get each one right? If we gave him that test every day for ten years, he’d never make a mistake?

    This is an astonishing proposition to me. People make mistakes. Even about questions that seem impossibly easy. I’m probably not the only person who gets the CAPTCHA questions wrong sometimes, even though 6×5 is not a hard question.

    Remember, the problem is not whether it’s possible to get a right answer to the question, but whether it’s impossible to get the wrong one. Such that if you gave the question to a million people of average faculties a thousand times in a row, you would have one billion correct answers, with no exceptions at all. And frankly, I don’t think that’s the case. Do you? Do you really mean to say that no one who understands the terms would ever give a wrong answer to the question, “Is this an analytic or synthetic proposition?”

    If the answer is no, if a mistake is possible, then we’re right back where we started from. Even if it’s possible to infallibly say that analytic propositions are infallibly true, you have to be able to discriminate between analytic and synthetic propositions. And you have to be able to do it infallibly. If it’s possible that one of those billion answers might be wrong, even if only because someone had a bad day and wasn’t thinking through the problem very clearly, then error is possible. And if error is possible at the discrimination stage, then error is possible in the final determination—because you could be wrong about whether this is truly an analytic proposition.

    That’s theoretical, of course. A more practical question would be, “does this person really understand what an analytic proposition is?” And that’s a harder question than I think you want it to be. Check out the TSZ discussion; it’s (at least part of it) on a much higher level than BA is comfortable with. I think there’s a valid question as to whether someone who mixes-and-matches questions about physical objects and analytic propositions is really operating with a perfect understanding of the concept.

  224. 224
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH

    if we treat A=A in the way you suggest—essentially, “I define A to be A,” for the purposes of building a logical system—I certainly can’t see how that could be in error . . . the fact that I can’t see how a definition could be in error is not logical proof that a definition can’t be in error.

    Eigenstate @ 116

    A=A is infallibly true and not dubitable as an analytic proposition. That’s the nature of a tautology. It’s prescriptive, it’s true by definition, and it’s indispensable as an analytic process.

    Eigenstate @ 124

    my understanding is that [Learned Hand’s] doubt is not (and he’d agree cannot be) aimed at a definition.

    Learned Hand, thank you for showing eigy his error.

  225. 225
    Barry Arrington says:

    Barry:

    said the guy who is not certain he is not Mount Everest.
    LH, does it make you feel all super-duper sophisticated and intellectual when you say damn fool idiot things like that. It shouldn’t.

    LH

    If you had to list the readers here who don’t understand why you resort to insults rather than arguments, who would go on that list? Which of your readers do you think is dim enough to think that you have some cogent argument you’re just not bothering to write down?

    Seriously? You want me to write down an argument for why you can be infallibly certain that you, Learned Hand, are not Mount Everest. God help us.

    Here is a clue, LH. When you say idiotic things like “For all I know, I may well be Mount Everest,” don’t expect anyone to argue you out of your idiocy. Expect to be called an idiot. You don’t need an argument. You need to be shamed into better conduct. And I am trying to do that, but it is hard, because you are damn near shameless.

  226. 226
    Barry Arrington says:

    HeKs

    Yes, Barry can infallibly discriminate between analytic and synthetic propositions in any case where he can understand the proposition in question, since that will allow him to determine whether or not the predicate is included in the subject. If it is, it’s an analytic proposition. If it’s not, then it’s not.

    LH

    Can he? If we wrote down a thousand propositions and asked him to assess each one, as either an analytic and synthetic proposition, he’d get each one right? If we gave him that test every day for ten years, he’d never make a mistake? This is an astonishing proposition to me. People make mistakes.

    LH, you don’t seem to understand what HeKS is getting at. He qualified the statement with “where he can understand.” Every single time I understand the predicate is included in the subject, I will understand it is an analytic proposition. And every time I understand it is not, I will understand it is a synthetic proposition. HeKs statement is a tautology. Any time I understand the nature of a proposition, it is impossible for me to be mistaken about the nature of a proposition.

  227. 227
    Aleta says:

    A definition, as a stipulation within a logical system, can’t be in error because we are just declaring that it is what it is. It might be not a very useful definition, either within the system or to applications of the system, but its “wrongness” is not something that could be proven wrong, either analytically or synthetically. So I don’t think LH is right here.

  228. 228
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH

    Check out the TSZ discussion; it’s (at least part of it) on a much higher level than BA is comfortable with.

    Said the guy who thinks he may be Mount Everest. Yeah see, over at TSZ, they are so smart and super-duper sophisticated like Mount Everest Boy here, I can’t possibly keep up. Thanks for the chuckle Mount Everest Boy (henceforth “MEB” for short).

  229. 229
    Barry Arrington says:

    Aleta,

    A definition, as a stipulation within a logical system, can’t be in error because we are just declaring that it is what it is.

    Finally something we agree about. But just try to convince Mount Everest Boy of the truth of that proposition.

  230. 230
    eigenstate says:

    By this reasoning, humans apparently also evolved to be hardwired for belief in god and to place social contracts and empathies secondary to believed-in divine commandments and to consider such rules absolute. They also evolved into sociopaths and psychopaths. They also evolved into groups that will use and manipulate the empathies and feelings of others for their own gain.,

    Yes, sure. Religion, as delusional as it may be, is not hard to account for in evolutionary terms. It provides a context for heightened social trust and collaboration, both of which are themselves beneficial to the group, no matter if the subject that anchors these bounds is completely imaginary. Religion as a social group dynamic may easily bring in more evolutionary benefits than any costs associated with its delusionary nature. Social bonding benefits may be modest, but real and effective. The real costs of the delusion are not so easily realized. There’s not an immediate penalty in evolutionary terms in god-belief, or even in the long term. With little costs associated with the misconception and very real benefits, we should not be surprised to find that religion is pervasive in evolved human psychology and the culture that proceeds from it.

    ES and others fail to recognize that if you’re going to play the evolutionary ethics card, then all human behavior is validated as equally ethical because it all evolved, and there is no non-evolutionary standard by which to discern which evolved psychological habits are preferable.

    No, that equivocates on “ethical” — it imports some external/supernatural concept of ethical in place of the concept of ethics as an aspect of evolved psychology. The priorities – the values that we are wired with, are not “good” or “bad” or “ethical” or “unethical” by some external-to-humans rule. There is no such rule, as you vaguely grasp. Instead, “ethical” or “valuable” obtains from the our evolved psychology, so the priorities we are wired for by evolution ARE the ethical underpinnings for humans. “Preferability” is not an external concept, but the outworking of evolved human psychology. This does not mean all behavior is equally ethical. For example, if humans are wired to identifier and resist cheaters — individuals who violate social contracts for sharing food and contributing to the hunt, or other kinds of resource development, and simply steal — then cheating will receive opprobrium and sanction.

    These priorities are not “set by God” or a function of some superstitious notion of deities and their moral dicta. Humans as a social group in real environments do not survive when cheaters proliferate. Some marginal number of cheaters can be supported in the tribe, but too many cheaters and not enough producers and the group’s survival is threatened. So groups that enact social contracts and rules that punish cheater are ones that survive and reproduce. There’s nothing magical about “cheating is bad”; it’s just a practical problem for the group if it’s unregulated, so successful human lineages (those whose progeny are living today) are conditioned by the environment to regulate cheating.

    What does the term “obligation” mean when one is referring to behavior that is physically caused by the interactions of molecules?? Do you also have an “obligation” to gasp when deprived of air? An “obligation” to eat when you feel hungry? Who or what do you owe that “obligation” to, and what is the penalty for failing to live up to it?

    For humans, our obligations are to humans, as members of a social group. As concerns one’s basis for acting this way or that, I’m wired (like you) for empathy, greed, etc., but that wiring is not something I chose, any more than the color of my irises, or the regularity of my breathing under the signaling from my autonomic nervous system. My hunger inclines me to eat, but there’s nothing magical or deontological about it, any more than I’m obligated to eat because God said so, or that I should be compassionate because God said so, or kill every last Amalekite because God said so. This is the real world, real physics, real animals and real processes we’re talking about.

    Under your evolutionary perspective, you might be “obligated” (meaning, under evolution, “wired to feel strongly about) to save your neighbor’s child from your neighbors abuse; yet that same evolutionarly foundation entirely justifies that abuse; in fact, you can equally say he has a moral obligation to abuse his child because that is how evolution has wired him.

    Well, if that abuse was adaptationally advantageous, then yes, although the basis for calling it “abuse” would be problematic. We say it’s abuse because of the priorities we are wired with, such treatment is detrimental to flourishing, non-adaptive. But if the world were otherwise, then our values would be otherwise accordingly, yes.

    Some species of prairie dogs, for example, are notoriously infanticidal. Mothers kill their own young, but more frequently kill the young of closely related kin in the group. When it’s studied, the more infanticidal females were found to be more fecund, have healthier offspring and be physically more robust themselves than their less infanticidal counterparts. So, are they “obligated by God’s law” to kill their nephews and nieces? No, it’s just advantageous in evolutionary terms, in real world causes and effects. It reduces competition for resources for the young who are not killed, and in general promotes the flourishing of the group. So the impulse obtains, and Mama prairie dogs are “evolutionarily obligated” toward infanticide. It’s a positive value in the “ethical algebra” of the prairie dogs.

    This kind of equivocation is just more insane nonsense materialists use to aviod the truth.

    There’s nothing equivocal about it. Theistic notions of deontology and moral obligations just don’t apply, and are not confused or conflated with the real-world dynamics that realize human psychology and behavior. Your idea that this is equivocation just implicates your commitment to your peculiar and mystical understandings about concepts like “moral obligation”. Those who don’t labor under those burdens don’t need or accept or even bother with the notions you consider non-negotiable. So, there’s no equivocation — your sense of obligation doesn’t fit in anywhere in a real model of the world, and never gets purchase in such a which where it even *could* be the basis for equivocation.

  231. 231
    Barry Arrington says:

    WJM

    Under your evolutionary perspective, you might be “obligated” (meaning, under evolution, “wired to feel strongly about) to save your neighbor’s child from your neighbors abuse; yet that same evolutionary foundation entirely justifies that abuse; in fact, you can equally say he has a moral obligation to abuse his child because that is how evolution has wired him.

    E

    Well, if that abuse was adaptationally advantageous, then yes

    So if our environment somehow changed so that torturing infants for pleasure became adaptationally advantageous, then we would have an ethical obligation to torture infants for pleasure.

  232. 232
    Barry Arrington says:

    E

    There’s nothing magical about “cheating is bad”; it’s just a practical problem for the group if it’s unregulated

    And that answers my question. The reason you feel no compunction about being dishonest in these debates is that you realize cheating is not bad; it is merely maladaptive if it gets out of hand. But you, as one who has looked behind the evolutionary curtain, so to speak, feel free to cheat away, confident in your expectation that the rest of us will feel bound by the evolutionary imperative.

    Thanks for clearing that up E

  233. 233
    Learned Hand says:

    SB,

    [a] Let me call on my own example. I am infallibly certain that I am not Mount Everest for thousands of reasons. I will list only four: First, Mount Everest is very big and I am very small by comparison. Big cannot also be small. Second, Mount Everest is thousands of miles away from me, so I can’t be where I am and also at that location. “There” cannot also be “here.” Third, Mount Everest is inorganic matter that cannot think; I am matter and spirit with the faculty of intellect. Non intelligence cannot also be intelligence. Fourth, and most important, I cannot be what I am and also be something else. A cannot also be B.

    In 1850, someone could use the same “A cannot also be B” reasoning to say that a particle cannot also be a wave. But they would have been wrong. How could they know in advance that they were wrong? I don’t think they could. Such is the nature of being limited and fallible; such are we.

    There are people, as I said above, who claim that all existence is an illusion, and that all existence is one. That would make you and Mount Everest the same. How do you know they’re wrong? Of course you and I agree that they are wrong, but I’m looking for a tool or principle that would make our belief infallible.

    Your examples here are ways in which we test whether a proposition is true. Am I small? Is a mountain big? They’re useful questions. Are they questions that cannot be answered wrongly? I don’t think so; in fact, there are people who do answer them wrongly, such as those who believe that all life is a delusion, or who are themselves deluded.

    How do you know, infallibly, that you are not deluded when it comes to answering these questions? “I’m obviously not” is not a very satisfying answer. It’s a useful answer, in practice, but it doesn’t answer the underlying question. How do you know, infallibly, that you aren’t deluded?

    [b] I am infallibly correct when I acknowledge the first principles of right reason.

    I thought this sentence might be followed by an explanation of why you are infallible on these questions. I was disappointed.

    On all other things, I am fallible.

    So why is there a line between these questions and those questions? And how do you know you’ve drawn it infallibly?

    I could not even detect my own fallibility except in the context of infallibly certain first principles, just as I could not detect my errors in reasoning except in the context of reason’s infallible rules.

    You’re establishing only that it’s useful to be infallible. So what? The universe doesn’t care if you can detect your own errors. Whether you can make a mistake or not is completely independent of whether it’s useful to be infallible.

    If there is no such thing as perfection, then there can be no such thing as a mistake.

    Has someone claimed there’s no such thing as perfection? I’ve tried hard to keep you and BA from redefining the question here. It’s not whether perfect abstractions exist; it’s whether we, as fallible humans, can carve out some area in which we are infallible, and do it infallibly. As such, of course we can make mistakes. If X is abstractly, perfectly true, and we assert not-X, then it doesn’t matter one whit whether we have the ability to perfectly discern whether X is true. We’ve made a mistake.

    If there is no such thing as a standard of truth, then there can be no such thing as an error that violates that standard.

    This would be an interesting thing to read in a fortune cookie; whatever does it mean here? We establish standards of truth all the time. The question is whether those standards are infallible. Assuming arguendo that they are not, a proposition can still violate the standard. “Learned Hand is always right.” That’s a standard of truth. Certainly not infallible! “Learned Hand is wrong about X” violates that standard. Sorry, you’re arguing what sounds like deep philosophy, not things that make logical sense.

    [c] Yes, I agree fully with Barry. Also, I hold that the Law of Identity is the ontological component of the psychological law of non-contradiction. Both are infallibly true and inseparable. The former is the logic of reality and nature, the latter is the logic of mind and thought, each perfectly corresponding to the other.

    Thanks, it’s interesting to hear more about your position. How do you know that you can infallibly determine the difference between analytic and synthetic propositions? It’s truly impossible for someone to answer that question wrong on a test? That seems to be the important question to me; if it’s possible in practice to answer the question wrongly, then as a matter of pure logic, it doesn’t matter if you can infallibly say that analytic propositions are true because you can’t know infallibly that you’re dealing with an analytic proposition. Of course you could in practice, but we’re considering questions of abstract logic.

    In other words, assume we can answer questions within set X infallibly correctly. We have a question, A. If we can infallibly place it in set X, great, we can answer it infallibly. If not, then we can’t.

    And then, of course, there’s the infinite regression problem. Does your ability to discern what goes in set X go in set X? What about your ability to discern whether your ability to discern what goes in set X goes in set X?

    A simpler way of looking at it might be this: assume you can determine analytic propositions infallibly. “Is this an analytic proposition” is not an analytic proposition. So how can the answer be infallible? And since it’s not, error is back in the equation.

    Again, these problems are easy for most of us to deal with. We simply say, “Oh, A=A? That’s an axiom. We define it to be true and move on.” But if you need to be able to say that you can determine external objective truths infallibly, for example to serve as the foundation of a system of supposedly infallibly-detectible moral truths, that’s not sufficient. So you have to make axioms into something that’s externally true, not just defined as true.

    The fact that you can’t clearly establish where your infallibility comes from is an indictment, I think, of the proposition that you can infallibly access more complex moral truths (which are in and of themselves not analytic propositions). I realize that you disagree; I’m not trying to persuade you, but rather explaining my position.

  234. 234
    Learned Hand says:

    WJM,

    One wonders if LH considers the certainty of the statement “I exist” fallible.

    One might ask directly, unless one is enjoying the mental image created by phrasing questions with a metaphorical pinky in the air. (Which, to be fair, I do, so no problem.)

    I’ve actually answered this several times, but I try to remind myself it would be greatly unfair to charge anyone with perfect knowledge of this vast, sprawling, multi-part conversation.

    Cogito ergo sum is the hardest challenge to my position, because I think it’s truly self-referential in a way no other proposition is. The fact of considering it demonstrates it. I’ve had two relevant thoughts about it:

    (A) It might be the one thing we can say is infallibly true. That doesn’t do much except say that truths we demonstrate by questioning them can be known to be true, which doesn’t work for either “A=A” or “murder is bad,” so it’s not terribly helpful.
    (B) But I can’t comfortably settle on (A), because as a matter of pure logic, I still don’t have my perfect, infallible metric. Of course I cannot conceive of any way in which cogito ergo sum could be false, but an inability to demonstrate counter-examples does not prove a concept to be true. And how do I know that to demonstrate a proposition proves it to be true? I reason it out. And my reason is susceptible to errors, which I cannot infallibly detect or control.

    The solution is easy in practice. I take CES to be true, because I can’t imagine any way in which it could be false. As a matter of abstract reasoning, I don’t know whether I’m more persuaded by (A) or (B). I lean towards (B), because I can’t escape the logical problem of trying to establish something as infallibly true using reason, when reason itself can be in error. (And yes, that’s self-referential, because I’m using reasoning to question whether reason can be infallible. Which is one reason why I don’t say that it’s definitely true that absolute certainty is impossible.)

  235. 235
    Learned Hand says:

    Eigenstate,

    Hmmmm. Sounds like a distinction we’ve been stumbling around, between “I define this to be true” and “this is true in an external sense, independent of my own definitions.” I don’t have any sort of satisfactory answer as to the first one, as my answer to WJM shows. But I think SB and BA take these “A=A” questions to be of the latter category. I think that because they seem to think this infallible faculty they have is the foundation of their ability to infallibly detect objectively true external moral principles. No?

    And going back to my question to WJM, what about that first category? We can say, “I define this to be true,” but it takes reasoning to say, “and therefore it must be true since it’s defined that way.” If we accept that human reasoning can be flawed, then isn’t error possible even in the first case?

  236. 236
    eigenstate says:

    if we treat A=A in the way you suggest—essentially, “I define A to be A,” for the purposes of building a logical system—I certainly can’t see how that could be in error . . . the fact that I can’t see how a definition could be in error is not logical proof that a definition can’t be in error.

    Eigenstate @ 116

    A=A is infallibly true and not dubitable as an analytic proposition. That’s the nature of a tautology. It’s prescriptive, it’s true by definition, and it’s indispensable as an analytic process.

    Eigenstate @ 124

    my understanding is that [Learned Hand’s] doubt is not (and he’d agree cannot be) aimed at a definition.

    Learned Hand, thank you for showing eigy his error.

    Barry, I think you are not even trying here to understand. Let’s ask LH:

    Learned Hand,

    What would “error” for a definition look like? Can you give an example of some hypothetical circumstance where a definition was in “error”? I can, but only as a function of applying some definition (an analytic proposition) to a synthetic definition. If that would be the kind of example you give, then it’s time for Barry to eat crow as I expected would happen. If Barry’s correct, can you give a hypothetical, or an example where the definition is itself somehow erroneous, as a definition.

    My claim, and my understanding (which I do suppose you share, but correct me if I’m mistaken) is that “error”, like “certainty” or “doubtability” is not an attribute of a definition. Put conversely, if it can be wrong, it ain’t a definition. Definitions can and do regularly run into trouble when making contact with the extra-mental world, but any error or confidence problem there obtains in the model that *applies* to the definition.

    Maybe an example I provide will make this easy for you to clear up.

    A: “The morally good is whatever God says is good”.

    As a matter of definition, there’s nothing to doubt or find in error, here. We might resist this definition or that as incoherent or unintelligible, but as a matter of “error”, there’s nothing to attach error to, as it’s just a definition.

    What would I doubt about A? Well, here’s an obvious doubt that this definition might prompt? “This is wrong, as there is no basis for supposing God is a thing or exists at all as the authority per this definition”. But this doubt doesn’t “doubt the definition” as a definition, but doubts the synthetic propositions that result if we apply this definition to our experience with the extra-mental world. The error obtains in the model that *uses* this definition. The definition can’t be bothered, it’s just a definition.

    Anyway, that’s an example you might respond to. What’s possibly in doubt about A in your view? Your response should indicate whether you are thinking about errors as errors that obtain from incorporating A in some model or synthetic proposition, or whether you truly do, as Barry insists, find something dubitable about A (and other definitions) as definitions — unapplied and unattached to any synthetic propositions.

  237. 237
    Learned Hand says:

    SB,

    The funny thing about truth is that it can be explained many ways. Error can be explained only one way because it has no substance worth probing.

    Fortune cookie philosophy.

    Eigenstate,

    Heh, I’m following and responding to these one at a time, which is probably not helping.

    Learned Hand can correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that his doubt is not (and he’d agree cannot be) aimed at a definition.

    I actually have questions even about that. As I wrote above, I think “this is defined to be true” is a question of human reasoning, which we know can be flawed. How do you infallibly exclude that error? Of course in practice we assume there’s no error, and we take things that are defined to be true as axiomatically true—not as something that’s externally valid.

    I think the disagreement we have here might just be a question of definitions. It might be resolved by saying, “OK, such doubt is possible because we cannot know for a fact that any piece of reasoning is flawless, but so what? We’ll say it’s axiomatically true and move on.”

    That’s consistent with my position. I’m happy to take an axiom and say, “This is an axiom. I will never question its truth, because we’ve defined it to be true. There’s no deeper level of truth we can access with regards to this question.”

    If that’s comprehensible, would you say we agree on that point? I think we do, but obviously I’m feeling this out as we go.

    No, LH is free to confirm your idea that he and I disagree, but I’d be surprised to hear that he disagrees.

    I don’t think that we do, but there’s some tension in that you approach this from a position of better understanding. As far as I can tell.

    You have a terrible track record of misrepresenting what your critics are saying, and I think here again you’ve not understood LH’s focus on A=A as a proposition of synthetic knowledge. This is not hard to conclude at all if you read him, as he’s talking about doubt and fallibility — these are not traits of definitions or axioms, but epistemic factors in thinking about the extra-mental world. It’s quite clear neither your or StephenB have a working knowledge of the difference here, or your would not be using A=A to argue that “Jupiter might not be there” or “I am not Denali” (in Stephen’s case).

    I agree with all of this. The question of whether a definition can be in error seems like a recent invention in BA’s position. This line of discussion stems from his assertion that there are self-evident truths, which in turn sprang from his assertion that he can infallibly access external moral truths. The debate is fundamentally about perceiving an external, objective world, not creating our own definitions.

    LH, naively, I suspect, credits you with understanding this, and argues accordingly.

    I would not exempt myself from the naivety. I also did not consider the question of whether a definition can itself be flawed, except as a special case of “I think therefore I am,” prior to this afternoon. I certainly understood BA and SB to be talking about their knowledge of external reality, not definitions created by humans.

    LH, please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong and you DO in fact suppose that a definition can be “false” as a definition.

    I think the cleanest articulation of my position would be, “We cannot show that it is impossible for a definition to be false as a definition; we must assume it axiomatically.” As I said above, I don’t think we disagree about that. My focus on the first half of that formulation is probably a product of the fact that I’m backing into this question from the synthetic argument.

    I’ve read all of LH’s posts on this thread, and I think I’m current with him on the related threads, and I don’t see any disagreement. He’s free to confirm that he and I disagree. I think what disagreement we have is in the practical benefit of not hammering away at the elephant in the room first — your conflation problem with definitions and the dynamics of the extra-mental world. He clearly sees benefit in ignoring your difficulties in this area.

    I think you’re right in all of this. (Of course, the ultimate judge of what any human thinks is Barry Arrington, and/or StephenB. They’ll have to confirm what each of us really thinks.)

    I see your disability on this question to be pretty much a show-stopper to anything further on the subject. You’re not equipped any more than StephenB to engage on the merits of the real world if you can’t see the distinction between the LOI as analytic and a tool for thinking and reality not giving a damn what definitions we care to use — it is what it is, regardless.

    That’s only a show-stopper if the show is about having a meaningful discussion about the underlying concepts. Does that seem like BA’s goal?

  238. 238
    Learned Hand says:

    Learned Hand says “I cannot therefore be logically, absolutely certain of anything—not even that A=A.”
    Ouch Eigy. The chemicals interacting in your head led you astray there. Ya know, that is the problem with the smug condescension that you spewed in the comments above. When you are demonstrated to be totally wrong you look not only like an idiot but also an ass. Double ouch.

    We’ll let Learned Hand weigh in with clarification on this. I stand to be corrected if I’m mistaken. But my understanding of LH, having read his posts that A=A here, and any certainty being contemplated would be — must be synthetic in nature. I think you fail to account for the willful misreading that typifies your responses to critics, here. But I’ll let LH speak for himself if he wants.

    It’s not a distinction that I was thinking about at the time. I cannot be perfectly certain that A=A in any sense outside my own head, because the reasoning I would use to confirm it cannot be confirmed as infallible. But I can set the definition an axiom and proceed without a second thought. I think that’s another way of describing your position; yes?

    I’ve read all those posts, Barry. I remain confident that LH is not insisting to you that a definition qua does not admit of doubt or certainty. It’s a category error to ascribe “doubtable-ness” to a definition.

    I’ve tried to make this point by saying, in many comments, that the actual solution to the quandary of whether we can know that A=A is to assume it as an axiom and move on.

    I read LH and nod in agreement, but do wonder why he doesn’t just directly address your problem with axioms and definitions getting sublimated into physical principles of the universe by your magical intuition.

    Because I don’t have your background in philosophy. I focus entirely on the practical applications; the question of whether an axiom is true in any sense other than being an axiom seems quite pointless to me. What matters is whether someone can access external truths infallibly, and/or whether they have any infallible faculties with which to do so. I think the shift BA took into analytic propositions is because he cannot support his belief in such faculties, cannot back down, and cannot sustain a conversation that requires real self-scrutiny. And he read a Wikipedia article that proposed an easy out, although unfortunately one inconsistent with his prior writing about the LOI and Jupiter.

    Thank you, by the way. Your writing on this has been very helpful; I’ve let the distinctions get muddled, and probably contributed to confusion by being careless in my comments. I appreciate your contribution, and the example of positive interaction you set. I suspect that you will be punished for it. Such is life.

  239. 239
    Barry Arrington says:

    Eigenstate @ 236

    This is a classic example of your fundamental dishonesty. Yesterday, you and I had a heated exchange regarding LHs views about the infallibility of A=A as a definition. We both agree that it is infallibly true as an analytic proposition. Our disagreement was in your assertion that LH agreed with us. I said he did not You said he did.

    This is what you said yesterday.

    my understanding is that [Learned Hand’s] doubt is not (and he’d agree cannot be) aimed at a definition.

    Now, let’s look at what LH said today:

    if we treat A=A in the way you suggest—essentially, “I define A to be A,” for the purposes of building a logical system—I certainly can’t see how that could be in error . . . the fact that I can’t see how a definition could be in error is not logical proof that a definition can’t be in error.

    You were wrong. LH does indeed believe he cannot be sure that A=A can’t be in error as an analytic proposition.

    When I point out you were wrong in your assessment of LH’s position, you respond by pretending LH did not say something he plainly said and that he really agrees with you after all.

    I ask you again E. What is the point of that? You know you are being dishonest. I know you are being dishonest. All of the onlookers know you are being dishonest. For the life of me I can’t see why you feel compelled to lie when everyone knows you are lying – and then pretending the problem is my failure to understand your superior intellect.

  240. 240
    eigenstate says:

    @Learned Hand,

    Hmmmm. Sounds like a distinction we’ve been stumbling around, between “I define this to be true” and “this is true in an external sense, independent of my own definitions.” I don’t have any sort of satisfactory answer as to the first one, as my answer to WJM shows. But I think SB and BA take these “A=A” questions to be of the latter category. I think that because they seem to think this infallible faculty they have is the foundation of their ability to infallibly detect objectively true external moral principles. No?

    That’s correct, and is not different than would I’d understood from your previous posts. As I’ve said repeatedly, Barry and Stephen are thoroughly confused on the crucial distinctions between “logical statements” and “statements about the world”. Wittgenstein and others are right to point out that we do not have language or concepts with out stimuli and input from the extra-mental world, so there is a predicate for any logical system humans construct which depends on non-logical/real world experiences.

    Barry and StephenB and KF and now WJM’s (apparently) basic error obtains in confusing a definition for physical principle, or more precisely supposing that there is a perfect isomorphism between the analytical proposition and corresponding propositions about the state of the world that the two share an identity. I understand from your latest comments here that Barry mistakes your concerns regarding fallible reason in crafting and expressing definitions with concerns about the “empirical truth” of definitions that do not depend on or interact with empirical input at all as definitions.

    And going back to my question to WJM, what about that first category? We can say, “I define this to be true,” but it takes reasoning to say, “and therefore it must be true since it’s defined that way.” If we accept that human reasoning can be flawed, then isn’t error possible even in the first case?

    Yes, certainly. But this is an error in reasoning where and when this happens. It’s an “error in the definition”. Articulating this as you have just here illustrates both the source of confusion and the absence of any substantial conflict in the concepts you are applying here with the ones I’m applying.

    I fully agree that our reasoning is error-prone, and that the activity of forming definitions is not exempted from this fact. As I pointed out above, definitions are problematic sometimes because they are incoherent or unintelligible. We might say this is one type of “reasoning error” to worry about in creating and articulating definitions. But this is an error that simply fails to reify a definition in the first place. There’s no tautology to test or consider in error, only confusion about what was intended in its place.

    The reason we say a tautology is “trivially true” is because a definition is not liable to tests for error, risks of incoherent/incomprehensible articulations of the definition notwithstanding. The “trivial” descriptor obtains since it cannot be otherwise conceptual. Doesn’t matter what the state of extra-mental world is, doesn’t matter how challenged we are in articulating subtle concepts, etc. The tautology is just a conceptual association, and “just is”, as an association.

    This doesn’t in any way indemnify us from risks of errors in reasoning as we create and express definitions. Biut we either succeed or fail in doing so, and so either produces an association a definition that can be used in a logical framework, or not.

  241. 241

    ES said:

    Yes, sure. Religion, as delusional as it may be, is not hard to account for in evolutionary terms.

    One wonders what “delusional” means under the perspective that one is caused to have beliefs by agglomerations of historical and currently interacting molecules, and under the assumption that there is no such thing as an available objective means of arbiting one set of physically caused beliefs from another? Under A-Mat, organic beings simply believe what biology and physics causes them to believe with no means of objective, external arbitration – what then is a “delusion”?

    Perhaps he means “delusion” in the post-modern normative sense – meaning, divergent from what most other people believe. Does ES really think that most other people share his/her beliefs?

    It’s a shame ES doesn’t see the irony of the rest of his commentary, blurting out whatever his biology and physics commands as if those uterances represent truths; as if others have the autonomous free will to recognize them as such and change their own physical structure in some top-down means to accommodate those “corrections”; as if we have an objective means of determining them to be true; as if his blurting out such naturally-causes sounds was any different in nature from any religious fundamentalist, cave man or insane person blurting out sequencers of noises they think meaningful and true; as if his beliefs are not necessarily every bit as “delusional” as any other.

    As the man said, you cannot argue with the willfully insane.

  242. 242
    Barry Arrington says:

    E

    That’s correct, and is not different than would I’d understood from your previous posts. As I’ve said repeatedly,

    E, you are lying. Everyone knows you are lying. Again, why? It is pointless. Do you have no shame?

  243. 243
    Mung says:

    SB:

    The difficulty here is that your subjectivism, which is likely a product of your materialism, prompts you to believe that reason’s rules are always about concepts in the mind and never about things outside of the mind.

    That’s what monism gets you. Incoherent dualism.

  244. 244
    Barry Arrington says:

    E you have not responded to my 231. Do you have a response?

  245. 245
    Learned Hand says:

    Barry, I think you are not even trying here to understand.

    I agree. I think BA’s goals are (a) to score points, and thus feel and look good, and (b) to demonize those who question him. Understanding what another person thinks is wholly irrelevant. Taking a sentence and responding to it, as if it exists in isolation, is perfectly sufficient to achieve those goals. Having an adult conversation about ideas is perfectly irrelevant to those goals. Hence, lots of selective quotation and very little reasoned discussion. Amateur analysis is worth what you pay for it, but it seems pretty consistent with the foot-stomping model of discourse.

    What would “error” for a definition look like? Can you give an example of some hypothetical circumstance where a definition was in “error”?

    As I said above, I can’t even imagine, and no, I can’t.

    I can, but only as a function of applying some definition (an analytic proposition) to a synthetic definition.

    Do you mean something like, “I will define 4 as the product of 2 x 1,” and the failure of that definition to describe the external world? I agree that’s possible, of course.

    If that would be the kind of example you give, then it’s time for Barry to eat crow as I expected would happen.

    Under no circumstances will that ever happen. BA’s not in this to discuss or refine ideas: the goal is to attack you, and defend his conclusions from scrutiny. Admitting error would be directly contradictory to those goals.

    If Barry’s correct, can you give a hypothetical, or an example where the definition is itself somehow erroneous, as a definition.

    No, I can’t.

    My claim, and my understanding (which I do suppose you share, but correct me if I’m mistaken) is that “error”, like “certainty” or “doubtability” is not an attribute of a definition. Put conversely, if it can be wrong, it ain’t a definition. Definitions can and do regularly run into trouble when making contact with the extra-mental world, but any error or confidence problem there obtains in the model that *applies* to the definition.

    Sure. My argument above was essentially saying that this question—the very concept of what a definition is—can’t be infallibly shown to be infallible. Could it be infallible? Sure. But what tool do we use to say that this piece of reasoning cannot contain flaws? I can’t think of any, and BA, when asked to provide such a tool, says, “shut up, liar.”

    The solution is to say that we don’t need to call a definition infallibly certain, we just call it an axiom and move on. I’ve made that point in many different comments. I think you’re saying the same thing, but skipping over the question of whether any reasoning at all can be said to be infallible. (In much the same way a man sets his alarm without wondering whether the sun will rise tomorrow. We just skip over these absurdly fundamental questions.)

    Maybe an example I provide will make this easy for you to clear up.

    A: “The morally good is whatever God says is good”.

    As a matter of definition, there’s nothing to doubt or find in error, here. We might resist this definition or that as incoherent or unintelligible, but as a matter of “error”, there’s nothing to attach error to, as it’s just a definition.

    Right. The questions I asked above, in this example, would be something like asking, “is there any possible exception to the rule that whatever God says is good is good?” Well, we can’t identify any external standard that would prove the rule or provide certainty, so we just call it an axiom and move on.

    Anyway, that’s an example you might respond to. What’s possibly in doubt about A in your view?

    About the definition itself, nothing. I can think of no way it could be flawed in its own terms. My point above was that to say “I can see no possible flaw” is not a logical proof that no flaw is possible. I think you’re making the same point by saying that the idea of a logical proof that no flaw is possible is irrelevant to a definition that we create. We just take it as defined and move on. Is that correct?

    Your response should indicate whether you are thinking about errors as errors that obtain from incorporating A in some model or synthetic proposition, or whether you truly do, as Barry insists, find something dubitable about A (and other definitions) as definitions — unapplied and unattached to any synthetic propositions.

    I’m not thinking of it in these terms at all, really. Like Barry these aren’t concepts I’m very familiar with. I appreciate that your questions are sharpening my position.

  246. 246
    Learned Hand says:

    E, thanks for your comment @ 240. I don’t see anywhere we disagree.

  247. 247
    Mung says:

    Aleta:

    But no one geometry, nor no one of the starting parallel postulates, is any more true, in a logical sense, than any other. The may be more or less “true”, or “true enough” in different practical contexts, but that is a different kind of truth (synthetic, not analytic, to use the terms ES has been using.)

    LoL.

  248. 248
    Mung says:

    Learned Hand: E, thanks for your comment @ 240. I don’t see anywhere we disagree.

    I like jello too.

  249. 249
    Barry Arrington says:

    E

    A=A is infallibly true and not dubitable as an analytic proposition.

    LH

    I don’t see anywhere we disagree.

    Finally, LH admits that A=A is infallibly true and not dubitable as an analytic proposition.

    It took us a few days to get you there, but you finally got there. Good for you.

    LH, now that you admit that A=A is infallibly true, tell us how you know that it is infallibly true.

  250. 250
    Aleta says:

    Mung, what are you lol’ing about? Be specific. Do you think that Euclidean (flat) geometry is more true in a logical sense than the other two geometries?

  251. 251
    StephenB says:

    Learned Hand

    In 1850, someone could use the same “A cannot also be B” reasoning to say that a particle cannot also be a wave. But they would have been wrong. How could they know in advance that they were wrong? I don’t think they could. Such is the nature of being limited and fallible; such are we.

    Recall the unabreviated LOI and LNC. A thing cannot be what it is and also be something else at the same time and under the same formal circumstances (in the same sense) .

    There are people, as I said above, who claim that all existence is an illusion, and that all existence is one. That would make you and Mount Everest the same. How do you know they’re wrong? Of course you and I agree that they are wrong, but I’m looking for a tool or principle that would make our belief infallible.

    The very fact that a proposition is self evident is proof that we can be infallibly certain about it. Only that which is really true can be obvious. Notice, I didn’t say “apparent.” It is self evident, for example, that a finite whole is greater than any one of its parts.The broader point is that Reason’s rules serve as the vehicle by which we can reach the destination of truth, insofar as we are able.

    There are a great many things, most things really, that we cannot know. Some truths must be revealed to us because they are out of reach for our limited minds. This is probably why so many people succumb to false religions. Not everyone runs away from the truth, but seeking it and finding it are two different things.

    It is easy to fall into error. That is because most world religions do not offer their adherents good reasons for believing what is being taught. Unlike the case for Christianity, there is no such thing as Islamic or Buddhist, or Hindu “apologetics.” These religions don’t even claim to be rational. Yes, Islam claims to be inspired, but it does not claim to be rational. In some cases, leaders of a given religion may say, “cone join us and be a part of something.” In other cases, they might say, “convert, or I will kill you.” What they will likely not say is this: “Here is why our religion is right and other religions are, at least in part, wrong.” This should be a thinking man’s clue to keep searching.

    So, we need reason to find our way around. The capacity to know some things– and to know which things are really important–depends on the validity of reason’s rules and our ability to be certain about their application in the real world. This is the supreme role that reason is supposed to play–to help people find the right religion–a religion grounded in reason yet, at the same time, capable of illuminating reason. Religion should be made to pass the test of reason before being allowed to illuminate reason. Otherwise, it may contaminate reason.

    Remember also we are discussing rationality. Many people are not rational and do not want to be. One of the first indicators that someone does not want to be rational is the act of denying self evident truths. That person values something more than the truth–usually a life style. What that person doesn’t know yet is that a faith-based life is far more joyful and fulfilling than the mindless pursuit of pleasure and the dreary prospect of returning to dust never to be heard from again. That is because there really is such a thing as truth and it really does set people free.

  252. 252
    eigenstate says:

    Finally, LH admits that A=A is infallibly true and not dubitable as an analytic proposition.

    It took us a few days to get you there, but you finally got there. Good for you.

    LH, now that you admit that A=A is infallibly true, tell us how you know that it is infallibly true.

    No, Barry, you just trolled while you could for a few days. This is not that hard to understand. He hasn’t switched his position. Own the fail.

  253. 253
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH,

    We will let you tell us authoritatively and conclusively what your opinion is today:

    Here is the proposition:

    A=A is infallibly true and not dubitable as an analytic proposition.

    Is that proposition true or false?

    Let the squirming begin.

  254. 254
    bornagain77 says:

    Before neo-Darwinists try to account for religion, or anything else, in ‘evolutionary terms’ should they not first give an account for the human brain?

    In other words, since they can’t even provide real time empirical evidence that unguided material, i.e. evolutionary, processes can produce even a single neuron of the following complexity, why should any thing else they say afterwards carry any weight whatsoever?

    Human brain has more switches than all computers on Earth – November 2010
    Excerpt: They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study: …One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-2708.....2-247.html

    The Half-Truths of Materialist Evolution – DONALD DeMARCO – 02/06/2015
    Excerpt: The human brain could not have evolved as a result of the addition of one factor at a time. Its unity and phantasmagorical complexity defies any explanation that relies on pure chance. It would be an underestimation of the first magnitude to say that today’s neurophysiologists know more about the structure and workings of the brain than did Darwin and his associates.
    Scientists in the field of brain research now inform us that a single human brain contains more molecular-scale switches than all the computers, routers and Internet connections on the entire planet! According to Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, the brain’s complexity is staggering, beyond anything his team of researchers had ever imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief. In the cerebral cortex alone, each neuron has between 1,000 to 10,000 synapses that result, roughly, in a total of 125 trillion synapses, which is about how many stars fill 1,500 Milky Way galaxies!
    A single synapse may contain 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A synapse, simply stated, is the place where a nerve impulse passes from one nerve cell to another.
    Phantasmagorical as this level of unified complexity is, it places us merely at the doorway of the brain’s even deeper mind-boggling organization. Glial cells in the brain assist in neuron speed. These cells outnumber neurons 10 times over, with 860 billion cells. All of this activity is monitored by microglia cells that not only clean up damaged cells but also prune dendrites, forming part of the learning process. The cortex alone contains 100,000 miles of myelin-covered, insulated nerve fibers.
    The process of mapping the brain would indeed be time-consuming. It would entail identifying every synaptic neuron. If it took a mere second to identify each neuron, it would require four billion years to complete the project.
    http://www.ncregister.com/dail.....evolution/

    “Complexity Brake” Defies Evolution – August 8, 2012
    Excerpt: Consider a neuronal synapse — the presynaptic terminal has an estimated 1000 distinct proteins. Fully analyzing their possible interactions would take about 2000 years. Or consider the task of fully characterizing the visual cortex of the mouse — about 2 million neurons. Under the extreme assumption that the neurons in these systems can all interact with each other, analyzing the various combinations will take about 10 million years…, even though it is assumed that the underlying technology speeds up by an order of magnitude each year.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62961.html

    Component placement optimization in the brain – 1994
    As he comments [106], “To current limits of accuracy … the actual placement appears to be the best of all possible layouts; this constitutes strong evidence of perfect optimization.,, among about 40,000,000 alternative layout orderings, the actual ganglion placement in fact requires the least total connection length.
    http://www.jneurosci.org/conte.....8.abstract

    The Puzzling Role Of Biophotons In The Brain – Dec. 17, 2010
    Excerpt: In recent years, a growing body of evidence shows that photons play an important role in the basic functioning of cells. Most of this evidence comes from turning the lights off and counting the number of photons that cells produce. It turns out, much to many people’s surprise, that many cells, perhaps even most, emit light as they work.
    In fact, it looks very much as if many cells use light to communicate. There’s certainly evidence that bacteria, plants and even kidney cells communicate in this way. Various groups have even shown that rats brains are literally alight thanks to the photons produced by neurons as they work.,,,
    ,,, earlier this year, one group showed that spinal neurons in rats can actually conduct light.
    ,, Rahnama and co point out that neurons contain many light sensitive molecules, such as porphyrin rings, flavinic, pyridinic rings, lipid chromophores and aromatic amino acids. In particular, mitochondria, the machines inside cells which produce energy, contain several prominent chromophores.
    The presence of light sensitive molecules makes it hard to imagine how they might not be not influenced by biophotons.,,,
    They go on to suggest that the light channelled by microtubules can help to co-ordinate activities in different parts of the brain. It’s certainly true that electrical activity in the brain is synchronised over distances that cannot be easily explained. Electrical signals travel too slowly to do this job, so something else must be at work.,,,
    (So) It’s a big jump to assume that photons do this job.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....the-brain/

    Of related note to “It’s certainly true that electrical activity in the brain is synchronised over distances that cannot be easily explained”, the following video and paper comments on ‘zero time lag’ in synchronous brain activity:

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness – Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video (1:58 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/jjpEc98o_Oo?t=117

    ,,, zero time lag neuronal synchrony despite long conduction delays – 2008
    Excerpt: Multielectrode recordings have revealed zero time lag synchronization among remote cerebral cortical areas. However, the axonal conduction delays among such distant regions can amount to several tens of milliseconds. It is still unclear which mechanism is giving rise to isochronous discharge of widely distributed neurons, despite such latencies,,,
    Remarkably, synchrony of neuronal activity is not limited to short-range interactions within a cortical patch. Interareal synchronization across cortical regions including interhemispheric areas has been observed in several tasks (7, 9, 11–14).,,,
    Beyond its functional relevance, the zero time lag synchrony among such distant neuronal ensembles must be established by mechanisms that are able to compensate for the delays involved in the neuronal communication. Latencies in conducting nerve impulses down axonal processes can amount to delays of several tens of milliseconds between the generation of a spike in a presynaptic cell and the elicitation of a postsynaptic potential (16). The question is how, despite such temporal delays, the reciprocal interactions between two brain regions can lead to the associated neural populations to fire in unison (i.e. zero time lag).,,,
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....MC2575223/

    Nonlocal mechanism for cluster synchronization in neural circuits – 2011
    Excerpt: The findings,,, call for reexamining sources of correlated activity in cortex,,,
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1103.3634

    Up the thread I read some neo-Darwinist, perhaps ES, claim religion is delusion, yet I hold that anyone who believes the preceding unfathomed, phantasmagorical, complexity of the human brain was created by unguided material, i.e. evolutionary, processes is a person who is the very definition of delusional and who needs to be locked away for his own safety as well as the safety of others.
    🙂
    Verse:

    Psalm 139:14
    I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

  255. 255
    Barry Arrington says:

    E you have not responded to my 231. This the third time I have asked for your response.

  256. 256
    Daniel King says:

    So if our environment somehow changed so that torturing infants for pleasure became adaptationally advantageous, then we would have an ethical obligation to torture infants for pleasure.

    God tortures infants all the time, by way of genetic defects, intrautarine malfunctions, or any number of post-partem insults. We don’t know why God does this, but I hope that he doesn’t enjoy it.

  257. 257
    bornagain77 says:

    Daniel King, and your argument has validity for your atheism how exactly?

    In order for you to make ‘the argument from evil’ you must first presuppose the existence of evil.

    i.e. Evil is a Theistic presupposition. Thus the argument refutes itself and is of no help for you in your effort to establish your atheism as true:

    “The strength of materialism is that it obviates the problem of evil altogether. God need not be reconciled with evil, because neither exists. Therefore the problem of evil is no problem at all.,,, And of course since there is no evil, the materialist must, ironically, not use evil to justify atheism. The problem of evil presupposes the existence of an objective evil-the very thing the materialist seems to deny. The argument (from Theodicy) that led to materialism is exhausted just when it is needed most. In other words, the problem of evil is only generated by the prior claims that evil exists. One cannot then conclude, with Dawkins, that there is ‘no evil and no good’ in the universe.,,,
    The fact that evolution’s acceptance hinges on a theological position would, for many, be enough to expel it from science. But evolution’s reliance on metaphysics is not its worst failing. Evolution’s real problem is not its metaphysics but its denial of its metaphysics.,,,
    Cornelius Hunter – Darwin’s God – pg. 154 & 159
    http://www.amazon.com/Darwins-.....1587430118

    Moreover, if Darwinism were truly a proper science, then why is it one of the most theologically entangled, evidence free, sciences going?

    Notes:

    Methodological Naturalism: A Rule That No One Needs or Obeys – Paul Nelson – September 22, 2014
    Excerpt: It is a little-remarked but nonetheless deeply significant irony that evolutionary biology is the most theologically entangled science going. Open a book like Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True (2009) or John Avise’s Inside the Human Genome (2010), and the theology leaps off the page. A wise creator, say Coyne, Avise, and many other evolutionary biologists, would not have made this or that structure; therefore, the structure evolved by undirected processes. Coyne and Avise, like many other evolutionary theorists going back to Darwin himself, make numerous “God-wouldn’t-have-done-it-that-way” arguments, thus predicating their arguments for the creative power of natural selection and random mutation on implicit theological assumptions about the character of God and what such an agent (if He existed) would or would not be likely to do.,,,
    ,,,with respect to one of the most famous texts in 20th-century biology, Theodosius Dobzhansky’s essay “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” (1973).
    Although its title is widely cited as an aphorism, the text of Dobzhansky’s essay is rarely read. It is, in fact, a theological treatise. As Dilley (2013, p. 774) observes:
    “Strikingly, all seven of Dobzhansky’s arguments hinge upon claims about God’s nature, actions, purposes, or duties. In fact, without God-talk, the geneticist’s arguments for evolution are logically invalid. In short, theology is essential to Dobzhansky’s arguments.”,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....89971.html

    Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of theology? – Dilley S. – 2013
    Abstract
    This essay analyzes Theodosius Dobzhansky’s famous article, “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution,” in which he presents some of his best arguments for evolution. I contend that all of Dobzhansky’s arguments hinge upon sectarian claims about God’s nature, actions, purposes, or duties. Moreover, Dobzhansky’s theology manifests several tensions, both in the epistemic justification of his theological claims and in their collective coherence. I note that other prominent biologists–such as Mayr, Dawkins, Eldredge, Ayala, de Beer, Futuyma, and Gould–also use theology-laden arguments. I recommend increased analysis of the justification, complexity, and coherence of this theology.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23890740

  258. 258
    eigenstate says:

    Barry,

    E you have not responded to my 231. Do you have a response?

    You didn’t pose any questions in 231 or 232, Barry. There’s no question to answer.

    Do you want my general opinion of your comments?

    Well, if the world was far different than it is, it would be far different than it is. If was a force that repelled matter with the strength it attracts matter, that’d be a pretty different universe, wouldn’t it?

    That would be a shocking difference from the universe we live in!

  259. 259
    Barry Arrington says:

    eigenstate @ 258

    But we are not talking about the “universe.” We are talking about whether something is — your words — adaptationally advantageous.

    Your example is not germane. What is adaptationally advantageous can change, and in fact it frequently does. And it does not require anything as drastic as a change in the laws of physics for that to happen. Indeed, evolutionary theory posits that what is adaptationally advantageous can change merely on the basis of a change in an organism’s environment. For example, woolly mammoths’ thick fur may be adaptationally advantageous in an ice age. It may cause them to get heat stroke and die in a warming period.

    So, I will ask the question again,

    If our environment somehow changed so that torturing infants for pleasure became adaptationally advantageous, would we then have an ethical obligation to torture infants for pleasure?

    A simple yes or no will do.

  260. 260
    eigenstate says:

    @Barry,

    Yes, by tautology:

    If the environment were such that killing infants for pleasure was obligatory by nature, then necessarily, the killing of infants for pleasure would be obligatory.

    Or, if pigs had wings that enabled them to fly, would they then be able to fly?

    I think so, by the same principle. You could really answer any such question with that same formula.

    Where the the environment requires X, X is required

    Try it out, you can put just about anything you like in for X, and it works!

  261. 261
    eigenstate says:

    @Barry,

    Here’s the tautology I’m interested in from you, analogously:

    If the God you worship somehow demanded that torturing infants was holy requirement of the faith, as a most necessarily good act in service to his divine will, would you be morally obligated to torture infants?

    More simply, even: if God obligates you to torture infants for fun, would you be so obligated?

  262. 262
    kairosfocus says:

    Aleta (attn BA, LH, ES & WJM):

    While a lot else happened, this is important:

    A definition, as a stipulation within a logical system, can’t be in error because we are just declaring that it is what it is.

    Definitions, even in formal systems, can beg questions (etc. of course) and become dubious as a result.

    The fallacy of begging the question in an explicit definition or a definition by discussion or a definition by principle/criterion (as with the old verificationist view) is just that, a fallacy. No true Scotsman will X is a simple case in point.

    A more serious context is where definition is not arbitrary game-playing in a sand-box but should seek to accurately describe reality in some relevant facet. Plato’s dialogues often pivot on such, e.g. what is justice?

    In other words it is patently not an error to highlight cases where definitions must seek to precisely, coherently, accurately and materially completely describe an aspect of reality. Which is itself not to be question-beggingly equated to the physical, material world.

    In short, the fallacy of the question-begging, often ideologically loaded and sometimes invidiously accusatory definition must be recognised and addressed. Yet another first steps in reasoning issue for UD.

    DEFINITION:

    The fallacy of the question-begging definition –> presentation of a definition as a part of an argument that embeds or directly implies — without adequate justification — a conclusion that is reasonably open to question or dispute, often thereby suppressing or seeking to disqualify, mischaracterise or lock out relevant views, arguments or concerns of one side of a matter in dispute. Such may be by way of manipulatively stipulative and/or persuasive [re-]definitions that are loaded.

    A case very relevant to origins science education is found in the US National Science Teachers Association Board statement of July 2000 . . . which I understand came about through a million dollar project:

    The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts . . . .

    [[S]cience, along with its methods, explanations and generalizations, must be the sole focus of instruction in science classes to the exclusion of all non-scientific or pseudoscientific methods, explanations, generalizations and products . . . .

    Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge. [[NSTA, Board of Directors, July 2000. Emphases added.]

    See how many ways there are loaded definitions that beg huge questions, impose agendas by ideological dominance, invidiously mischaracterise those who don’t toe the party-line and even hint at menace?

    Definition is not immune to error.

    Genuinely self-evident truth, by contrast, once clearly understood, will remain true, seen as true once one understands, and so seen as true by necessity on pain of absurdity on attempted denial. One may indeed reject such, but at the cost of clinging to absurdities.

    KF

  263. 263
    Virgil Cain says:

    DK:

    God tortures infants all the time, by way of genetic defects, intrautarine malfunctions, or any number of post-partem insults.

    How is any of that God’s doing?

  264. 264

    I said:

    Under your evolutionary perspective, you might be “obligated” (meaning, under evolution, “wired to feel strongly about) to save your neighbor’s child from your neighbors abuse; yet that same evolutionary foundation entirely justifies that abuse; in fact, you can equally say he has a moral obligation to abuse his child because that is how evolution has wired him.

    ES responded:

    Well, if that abuse was adaptationally advantageous, then yes ….

    Your logic is flawed, ES. If a “moral obligation” by definition is “the strong feelings towards how one ought behave generated by the agglomeration of physical, evolutionary processes and interactions”, then whether or not one can determine if it is adaptationally advantageous, acting on that evolution-generated moral feeling is what one is morally obligated to do, period. It’s a definitional tautology.

    Therefore, under your evolutionary basis for morality, if one feels strongly compelled to torture children or cannibalize random people or fly planes into buildings or burn supposed witches at the stake, such strong, compelling feelings authorize such behaviors as moral by definition.

  265. 265
    Barry Arrington says:

    E asks:

    If the God you worship somehow demanded that torturing infants was holy requirement of the faith, as a most necessarily good act in service to his divine will, would you be morally obligated to torture infants?

    More simply, even: if God obligates you to torture infants for fun, would you be so obligated?

    Your question is akin to asking, “if circles where square how many sides would they have? It is incoherent. The good subsists in the nature of God, and God does not act against his own nature. It is therefore literally impossible for him to command anyone to torture an infant for pleasure.

  266. 266
    Popperian says:

    I wrote:

    Note that I’m still waiting for Barry to explain how he has infallibly identified an infallible source of moral principles and infallibly interpreted that source, in practice. No such explanation has been provided.

    Mung:

    So?

    He might feel obliged to make moral choices, but that does not actually give him access to what moral choices to make.

    I wrote:

    As such, when actually faced with a moral problem, it’s unclear how Barry has any other recource than to conjecture solutions to moral problems and criticize them, in practice.

    Mung:

    So?

    So, this is effectively no different than what one would do if they did not believe in an infallible, objective morality.

    To quote from the referenced article….

    I’ll tell you what really happened. You witnessed a dress rehearsal. The real ex cathedra ceremony was on the following day. In order not to make the declaration a day early, they substituted for the real text (which was about some arcane theological issue, not gravity) a lorem-ipsum-type placeholder that they deemed so absurd that any serious listener would immediately realize that that’s what it was.

    And indeed, you did realize this; and as a result, you reinterpreted your “direct experience,” which was identical to that of witnessing an ex cathedra declaration, as not being one. Precisely by reasoning that the content of the declaration was absurd, you concluded that you didn’t have to believe it. Which is also what you would have done if you hadn’t believed the infallibility doctrine.

    You remain a believer, serious about giving your faith absolute priority over your own “unaided” reason (as reason is called in these contexts). But that very seriousness has forced you to decide first on the substance of the issue, using reason, and only then whether to defer to the infallible authority. This is neither fluke nor paradox. It is simply that if you take ideas seriously, there is no escape, even in dogma and faith, from the obligation to use reason and to give it priority over dogma, faith, and obedience.

    Mung:

    Are you making value judgments here, or just offering an opinion?

    Neither. See above.

    Barry is trying to explain human moral behavior via an infallible source of objective morality. Yet, he has not explained how he would have access to it in the way necessary, in practice, when faced with moral problems.

    Unless Barry somehow denies that actual moral problems exist, it’s unclear how he’s in any better position than those he criticizes.

  267. 267
    Learned Hand says:

    BA @ 253,

    Ever eager to demand answers, ever churlish about providing your own.

    Defining A as equal to A is defining A as equal to A; the proposition is not fallible if the only metric is its own definition. The reasoning process behind creating the definition, and understanding its implications, is fallible.

    Can you answer Popperian’s question above? How do you have access, infallibly, to objective moral propositions?

  268. 268
    eigenstate says:

    @Learned Hand,

    Defining A as equal to A is defining A as equal to A; the proposition is not fallible if the only metric is its own definition. The reasoning process behind creating the definition, and understanding its implications, is fallible.

    This a very nice, succinct articulation of my position on this.

    Can you answer Popperian’s question above? How do you have access, infallibly, to objective moral propositions?

    Would like to see him answer this as well.

  269. 269
    juwilker says:

    Hi Everyone, this has been a fascinating thread. The back and forth is like watching a tennis match, but also like going to school at same time. Its like taking an introductory logic course. I am a casual observer in the sense that I have very little training in formal logic or physical (or metaphysical) sciences. But I don’t consider my self a moron either. I am having a fairly successful business career, have an advance business degree from a decent university, have considered and debated the big issues of life, and have made a decent go of things.

    I admire the effort and knowledge of people in this thred as they make their case for their positions. But as a casual observer, I do think ES and LH are not doing well in the logic/epistemology debate. Anytime one can not say for sure that they are not Mount Everest; they should really take a step back and reconsider the foundations of their arguments.

    Knowledge and argumentation are certainly a personal endeavor and you might find you have a fairly solid argument. But when you have 1% (probably less) of the population trying to convince the other 99% they can’t be sure they are not Mount Everest, its a losing cause. The 1% should move on to other, more important societal issues, if they can.

    Justin

  270. 270
    Learned Hand says:

    Anytime one can not say for sure that they are not Mount Everest; they should really take a step back and reconsider the foundations of their arguments.

    So what’s the logical process for knowing, without even the technical possibility of error, that you aren’t?

    Odd how the people shrieking about how easy it is to exclude error don’t seem to be able to identify how it’s actually done. Which is, of course, consistent with their surety being an artifact of preferred belief rather than actual logical reasoning.

    Knowledge and argumentation are certainly a personal endeavor and you might find you have a fairly solid argument. But when you have 1% (probably less) of the population trying to convince the other 99% they can’t be sure they are not Mount Everest, its a losing cause. The 1% should move on to other, more important societal issues, if they can.

    Logic is not a democracy.

  271. 271
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    Odd how the people shrieking about how easy it is to exclude error don’t seem to be able to identify how it’s actually done.

    Why don’t you tell us how you did it when you wrote:

    Defining A as equal to A is defining A as equal to A; the proposition is not fallible . . .

  272. 272
    Mung says:

    Learned Hand: Logic is not a democracy.

    Is that supposed to be an obvious self-evident truth? To me it reeks of the Law of Identity, and I want nothing to do with it.

  273. 273
    Learned Hand says:

    To me it reeks of the Law of Identity, and I want nothing to do with it.

    Probably wise.

  274. 274
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    their surety being an artifact of preferred belief rather than actual logical reasoning.

    You wrote:

    Defining A as equal to A is defining A as equal to A; the proposition is not fallible . . .

    Was your surety an artifact of preferred belief, or was it a product of actual logical reasoning?

  275. 275
    Learned Hand says:

    Another comment with no thought, no argument, no advancement of a conversation–just an attempted gotcha.

    As I said, odd how the people shrieking about how easy it is to exclude error don’t seem to be able to identify how it’s actually done.

  276. 276
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    As I said, odd how the people shrieking about how easy it is to exclude error don’t seem to be able to identify how it’s actually done.

    Well, it just seem logical to me that you, having done it, can tell us how you did it.

  277. 277
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    just an attempted gotcha

    Nonsense. You arrived at a conclusion. How is it a “gotcha” to ask you how you arrived at it?

    I mean it couldn’t have been easy after spending literally weeks denying the possibility that a proposition could be infallible; something must have changed your mind. Tell us what changed your mind. Again, how is asking what changed your mind a “gotcha”?

  278. 278
    Learned Hand says:

    I mean it couldn’t have been easy after spending literally weeks denying the possibility that a proposition could be infallible; something must have changed your mind. Tell us what changed your mind. Again, how is asking what changed your mind a “gotcha”?

    Eigenstate explained why you’re wrong to be counting coup. You banned him for it, which is certainly easier than talking about ideas. Do you have any?

    I said many times that a proposition cannot be known infallibly, not that propositions in and of themselves cannot be infallibly true. You still don’t understand my position, which may be one reason you’re focused on gotchas rather than ideas.

    This idea that “A=A” is infallibly true only because it’s defined as such is a new introduction to the conversation. You didn’t take this approach when you were screeching about Jupiter and using it as an excuse to ban critics; you didn’t take this approach when self-evident truths included moral propositions. Indeed, this entire line of inquiry stemmed originally from your assertion that objective, external self-evident truths can be known infallibly–not merely that we define them as such.

    But having introduced this idea, as the last refuge for your increasingly incredible idea that you have infallible faculties capable of perceiving objective external truths without error, you now are going back to prior statements and scrutinizing them in light of the latter change.

    My position hasn’t changed, BA. I think yours has. But it’s hard to tell, with all the work you do hiding your light under a bushel.

    BA, if your ideas work, why can’t you talk about them? Why can’t you discuss them without attacking the messenger?

  279. 279
    Learned Hand says:

    Well, it just seem logical to me that you, having done it, can tell us how you did it.

    Only be defining it to be true and not admitting any test of the proposition other than the definition itself:

    “Defining A as equal to A is defining A as equal to A; the proposition is not fallible if the only metric is its own definition. The reasoning process behind creating the definition, and understanding its implications, is fallible.”

    Which isolates human infallibility to the most trivial exercises. If we define it to be true, and our definition is the only metric, it’s true. But what about external truths? What about the moral truths that underlie this line of discussion? How can they be known infallibly?

    BA has nothing to say.

  280. 280
    Barry Arrington says:

    “You banned him for it”

    eigenstate has not been banned. That is a lie. Why do you feel like you can just come into this site and tell lies?

  281. 281
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    As I said, odd how the people shrieking about how easy it is to exclude error don’t seem to be able to identify how it’s actually done.

    Barry:

    Well, it just seem logical to me that you, having done it, can tell us how you did it.

    LH:

    Only be defining it to be true and not admitting any test of the proposition other than the definition itself:

    “Defining A as equal to A is defining A as equal to A; the proposition is not fallible if the only metric is its own definition. The reasoning process behind creating the definition, and understanding its implications, is fallible.”

    Which isolates human infallibility to the most trivial exercises. If we define it to be true, and our definition is the only metric, it’s true.

    OK. So humans can be infallible about “the most trivial exercises.” The most trivial exercises in what? Looking up, the most logical answer seems to be a trivial exercise in reasoning about definitions and the implications thereof.

    So, LH, where is the line between a “trivial exercise” in reasoning and a non-trivial exercise in reasoning? Are you, Learned Hand, the infallible source of all judgments about what is trivial and what is non-trivial?

  282. 282
    Learned Hand says:

    Pardon me–you put him in moderation for it, an alternative method of exercising power to constrain criticism.

  283. 283
    Learned Hand says:

    So, LH, where is the line between a “trivial exercise” in reasoning and a non-trivial exercise in reasoning? Are you, Learned Hand, the infallible source of all judgments about what is trivial and what is non-trivial?

    No. In fact, once we pull back from the trivial world of definitions measured by their own definitions, we have to look at the practical, human question of analyzing such propositions. And there’s the problem of whether humans can infallibly identify a proposition as an analytic proposition, such that no omission or entailment can be incompletely or incorrectly understood. Is such discrimination infallible? I don’t think so; I think if we gave 1,000 people a test on this question 1,000 times, we would not reliably get 1,000,000 perfect answers. The possibility of error creeps in as soon as the proposition expands beyond the trivial.

    Are you now of the opinion that the infallible assessment of a proposition is possible only for analytic propositions? Or is your earlier ranting about Jupiter an indication that you feel it’s applicable more broadly? It’s hard to tell, you hide your ideas so aggressively.

  284. 284
    Barry Arrington says:

    an alternative method of exercising power to constrain criticism

    No, a method for giving us a temporary (one day) respite from his insanity. Beating back madness is hard work, and I admit that I need a break from time to time.

  285. 285
    Barry Arrington says:

    So humans can be infallible about “the most trivial exercises.”

    Mount Everest is a mountain in Asia. I am a man in Colorado. A man in Colorado cannot also be a mountain in Asia. Therefore, I am infallibly certain that I am not Mount Everest.

    Seems like an awfully trivial exercise in reasoning there. Which side of the line do you put it LH?

  286. 286
    HeKS says:

    @Popperian #118

    This series of OPs started with trying to point out that what we end up with are moral problems to solve. Unless one can infallibly identify an infallible source, then infallibly interpret it, how does Barry, or anyone else, have any other recourse other than to conjecture solutions to moral problems, then criticize them? No one has explained how this is possible, in practice.

    If you look back through my comments in this thread you will see that I haven’t been discussing any ability to infallibly know objective moral truths one way or the other. I entered this discussion because I saw people arguing against the validity of the Law of Identity and other basic rules of logic and right thinking, and making the obviously self-defeating claim that we might use argument and reason to undermine and disprove these, and that we ought to operate under an ongoing doubt about the truth of these most basic principles of rational thought.

    In the same sense, how do you infallibly know anything is indeed an A instead of a B or something else we haven’t identified yet?

    You seem to be confusing ideas here. A=A is about telling us that A is itself, and that A has distinct identity. It is not about telling us whether some particular X is some A or some B, where A and B are distinct identities and X has some definition that corresponds to the identity of one or the other.

    What A=A does do is point to the fact that A!=~A, that A is not equal to something that is not itself, that A can’t be both itself and not itself at the same time and in the same sense, which would contravene the Law of Identity. Thus we have the Law of Non-Contradiction.

    So, if some particular X has a definition that corresponds to identity B, and if identity B is not contained within identity A (i.e. if B is not just a different name for A), then we know that X!=A, because X=B, and B=~A.

    More generally, we are led to see that the world is divided up into things that are either A or ~A. No particular X could fall into both categories at the same time, since that would entail being both A and not-A at the same time, in contravention of the Law of Non-Contradiction and, in turn, the Law of Identity. Further, no X could fail to be either A or ~A, such that it is neither, as the Law of Identity sets A off as distinct from everything that is not itself, leaving no crack between A and ~A for any X to fall through. And, thus, we have the Law of the Excluded Middle.

    So, you asked:

    how do you infallibly know anything is indeed an A instead of a B or something else we haven’t identified yet?

    But in this, you’re missing the point.

    The laws of Identity, Non-Contradiction and the Excluded Middle are what make it even sensible to consider that A and B could be distinct things, and that some X could possibly be one and not the other.

    Unless you do, A=A isn’t actually going to help you solve problems, in practice.

    Except in the sense that it is the whole basis for the possibility of solving problems in the first place.

    And you’re asking why I’m having such “difficulty getting it”?

    Yes, absolutely, and I’m still asking. As soon as you start talking about how these first principles of right reasoning could potentially be undermined through argument and rational criticism then it becomes apparent that you are not getting it. It is a self-defeating endeavor, as the degree to which you might hypothetically succeed is precisely the degree to which you undermine your own success, since you cannot possibly argue against the validity of the LOI, LNC and LEM without using the LOI, LNC and LEM, and so any success in undermining them would cripple your own argument against them. Realizing this, it is simply silly to suggest that we should operate under an ongoing doubt about the validity of these first principles, where “ongoing” means after we’ve recognized the obviously self-defeating nature of the doubt.

    IOW, if criticism really does rest on A=A, but you cannot infallibly identify anything as an A

    You are mixing up two ideas here, as I pointed out above. A=A is not about identifying some X as an A, such that the term “A” is being used in two very different ways. A=A is about understanding that something is itself as opposed to something else that is not itself. A=A, X=X, G=G, and so on.

    then, by your own foundational “standard” there can be no criticism, knowledge, etc.

    Of course there can. It is made possible by and derived from the application of these first principles of logic and right reasoning. They are what make criticism even possible. Criticism and knowledge is impossible if two logically contradictory propositions can both be equally true at the same time or if it is impossible, in principle, to distinguish between outcomes.

    That’s what I mean by holding knowledge and reason hostage.

    You mean that reason is held hostage by insisting on the validity of the very first principles that make reason possible in the first place? You mean that reason, criticism and knowledge can be set free to really blossom by allowing that logically contradictory propositions could be equally true at the same time and that all possible outcomes could be identical?

    What is the alternative?

    If you’re familiar with epistemology, I’m a Popperian in that we start out with a problem, or for which we conjecture solutions to that problem, then criticize those solution and discard errors we find. That’s my “view” on the growth of knowledge.

    I’m happy for you. But I’d be even happier for you if you realized that this process presupposes the validity of the first principles of logic and becomes completely unhinged and useless if those principles are invalid.

    This includes giving up the quest for justificationism.

    I hope you understand that there is a difference between justifying and proving your beliefs as true (or even as cohering with other beliefs you hold) and ensuring that your beliefs are simply rational (i.e. in accord with the basic principles of logic and right reasoning).

    To summarize, with each infallible authority described in each OP, one has had to use reason and criticism to determine when defer to the supposedly infallible authority. Reason always comes first. Regardless if that authoritative sources is God, our senses, or even A=A.

    Reason always comes first … even before A=A? Huh?! A=A, being the first basic principle of right reason is now an “authority” which must be made subject to reason and criticism? Huh?! Your summary is utterly incoherent. It is word salad. It is a flock of bleachers feeding their baby oranges speaker chairs.

    A=A is an extremely hard to vary explanation, just as 2+2=4.

    Huh? A=A is extremely hard to vary? And the understatement award goes to…. If you vary it, rationality comes to an end.

    I know of no good expansions that suggest otherwise, Bad explanations would be along the lines that just some things are liable to be something other than what it is, while others are not

    There’s an easier way to word that “bad explanation”. It goes like this: “Sometimes the Law of Non-Contradiction is broken”. Can you figure out when that is the case? No? Then you can’t figure out when it is not the case. Congratulations. Rationality has been destroyed … again.

    or that some capricious being decides to occasionally break this rule for fun, etc.

    Except for the fact that theists maintain that God cannot do what it is logically impossible to do, and hence the reason they point out that certain atheist arguments against God are misguided, as they misconstrue use of the term “omnipotent” to mean “can do anything, including what is logically impossible”, which is simply not the case.

  287. 287
    HeKS says:

    @Barry #226

    LH, you don’t seem to understand what HeKS is getting at. He qualified the statement with “where he can understand.” Every single time I understand the predicate is included in the subject, I will understand it is an analytic proposition. And every time I understand it is not, I will understand it is a synthetic proposition. HeKs statement is a tautology. Any time I understand the nature of a proposition, it is impossible for me to be mistaken about the nature of a proposition.

    Exactly.

    Also, I found this comment from LH rather interesting:

    Can he? If we wrote down a thousand propositions and asked him to assess each one, as either an analytic and synthetic proposition, he’d get each one right? If we gave him that test every day for ten years, he’d never make a mistake? This is an astonishing proposition to me. People make mistakes.

    People make mistakes? Is he sure? Is LH therefore absolutely certain that error exists?

    HeKS

  288. 288
    Barry Arrington says:

    HeKS,

    Allow me to catch you up a bit. After two weeks of resistance, we finally dragged LH kicking and screaming into admitting the infallibility of the law of identity. In the end it was not our arguments that did the trick. It was because even elmininative materialist eigenstate — despite the fact that he believes his own experiences of subjective self-awareness and subject-object duality are illusions — is not stupid enough to deny the infallibility of the proposition A=A.

    So LH is now with us on the possibility of infallible knowledge. Now if we could just get him to stop believing he may be Mount Everest . . .

  289. 289
    HeKS says:

    Barry,

    But don’t eigenstate and LH hold that A=A does not actually apply necessarily to the external world and that it is simply a useful axiom for thinking about things and therefore not an actual basis for any infallible knowledge? And don’t they further hold that A=A is only infallibly “true” as a definition, which is not subject to being either true or false as a definition?

    Furthermore, it seemed to me that either eigenstate or LH (I can’t remember which) confused an analytic proposition as being identical with a definition (which holds a certain irony) rather than being a proposition that is true by definition. Obviously there’s a strong connection between the two, but “definition” and “analytic proposition” don’t mean exactly the same thing.

    For example, the statement “all bachelors are unmarried” is an analytic proposition, but it is not a definition. The meaning of the word “bachelor” is not exhausted by the term “unmarried” (it only applies to men), nor is the set of persons who can be described as “unmarried” identical to the set of persons who can rightly be described as “bachelors” (women can also be unmarried).

    HeKS

  290. 290
    Barry Arrington says:

    HeKS

    But don’t eigenstate and LH hold that A=A does not actually apply necessarily to the external world . . .

    Yes, they do. Our work is far from done. But in 288 I was just celebrating a victory — no matter how small — of reason over madness. God knows such victories are rare enough; we should stop to celebrate them when they do occur.

  291. 291
    HeKS says:

    Barry,

    Yes, they do. Our work is far from done. But in 288 I was just celebrating a victory — no matter how small — of reason over madness. God knows such victories are rare enough; we should stop to celebrate them when they do occur.

    Fair enough.

    You know, assuming that I understand their viewpoint and have stated it accurately, I find it seems to have some interesting implications.

    Let’s allow for a moment that these rules of logic are merely foundational axioms for thought, but ones that do not necessarily apply to the extra-mental world. That is, they are vitally necessary in order for us to be able to think about and conceptualize things, but the external world does not necessarily need to conform to them.

    Ok, so now let’s ask a question: Is it possible for a square-circle to actually exist in the extra-mental world?

    There seem to be three possible answers:

    A) No
    B) Yes
    C) Maybe – The question is unanswerable because any differentiation between the other answers relies on the validity of the LOI, LNC and LEM applying to the extra-mental world.

    If we choose A and say that a square-circle cannot exist in the extra-mental world then we are saying that the LOI, LNC and LEM apply necessarily to the extra-mental world. Presumably, people like eigenstate and LH will not choose this one.

    If, instead, we choose B and say that a square-circle can exist in the extra-mental world, then we are saying that the extra-mental world is not constrained by the LOI, LNC and LEM. This, again, would be a claim to certainty, so again, eigenstate and LH would presumably pass on this choice.

    This stuff is all very obvious so far. What’s interesting is when we consider the hypotheticals of option C.

    So, suppose our answer is that maybe a square-circle could exist in the extra-mental world. What would be the mental implications of this possibility? Well, even according to eigenstate, the LOI, LNC and LEM are necessary axioms for us to actually think about anything. But if you try to think about a square-circle (beyond the words themselves) what do you get? Nada. It’s impossible to picture or conceptualize or think about meaningfully in any way, because it contravenes first principles of logic and right reasoning.

    What, then, would happen to a person mentally if they came across a square-circle in the world? It seems to follow necessarily that they would be unable to mentally process it as it actually existed. This seems to open the door to three possible scenarios:

    1) The square-circle would appear distorted in some way that was utterly incomprehensible to the person, recognized only as being indiscernible.

    2) The square-circle would be utterly imperceptible to the person, as though it weren’t even there.

    3) The person’s mind would forcefully warp the square-circle into something other than it actually was so that it could be mentally perceived and processed by the person.

    If either scenario 1 or 2 were true, it would be conducive to the possibility of gaining certain knowledge of at least some things in the extra-mental world, since it would mean that everything that is perceivable and discernible to the human mind is actually in harmony with the LOI, LNC and LEM, as anything that is not would either be completely imperceptible or utterly indiscernible to the human mind (note that this is not the same as saying that whatever cannot be directly perceived by humans is therefore in contradiction of the LOI, LNC and LEM)

    On the flip side, if scenario 3 were true, we would be utterly unable to identify anything (whether some entity or some state of affairs) that did not conform to the LOI, LNC or LEM, even if it were staring us right in the face. This would completely undermine our ability to analyze evidence, weigh competing theories, assess the outcomes of experiments, or draw any kind of reliable rational conclusions about anything based on either observable evidence or the application of logic, because it would be entirely possible that any given piece of evidence is something completely different than we think is, with no hope of ever being able to find out. Science would thereby be destroyed, as would be any basis for favoring a rational and coherent worldview over an irrational and incoherent one. If all evidence that could possibly be marshalled in favor of one view over another contradictory view is not only open to question but could in fact be something utterly different than it seems, possibly actually supporting that contradictory view, and without any possibility of us knowing or ever finding out, or if the views that conflict in our minds could be identical when applied to the extra-mental world, then on what grounds can we argue that holding a rational worldview is commendable or virtuous rather than just some different kind of delusion?

    HeKS

  292. 292
    Barry Arrington says:

    HeKS @ 291:

    LH’s standard response would be to choose a fourth option:

    D. I can’t imagine or even conceptualize a square circle in the extra-mental world, but my inability to imagine or conceptualize merely means I am fallible and cannot imagine ever possible extra-mental event; it follows that while I cannot even begin to explain how an extra-mental square circle is possible, I cannot rule it out.

  293. 293
    HeKS says:

    Hi Barry

    LH’s standard response would be to choose a fourth option:

    D. I can’t imagine or even conceptualize a square circle in the extra-mental world, but my inability to imagine or conceptualize merely means I am fallible and cannot imagine ever possible extra-mental event; it follows that while I cannot even begin to explain how an extra-mental square circle is possible, I cannot rule it out.

    But that’s not really a fourth option. That’s just the third option, which is essentially equivalent to maybe, and so it entails the implications I assigned to that. What are your thoughts on those?

  294. 294
    Mung says:

    HekS: Is it possible for a square-circle to actually exist in the extra-mental world?

    You can say the word square and you can follow it with the word circle. You can even hyphenate the two when writing the words. But there is no concept of a square circle.

  295. 295
    HeKS says:

    Mung,

    That’s exactly my point. As I said:

    But if you try to think about a square-circle (beyond the words themselves) what do you get? Nada. It’s impossible to picture or conceptualize or think about meaningfully in any way, because it contravenes first principles of logic and right reasoning.

    Do you have any thoughts on the implications I stated regarding our mental perceptions of the external world once we realize this?

  296. 296
    Barry Arrington says:

    HeKS

    LH has a standard response to that objection as well. The fact that you cannot imagine what a square circle would look like is a failure of your imagination that by no means precludes the concept. His favorite aphorism is “the universe is not only stranger than we imagine; it is stranger than we can imagine.”

    And he also likes to work in “the map is not the territory” a lot.

    And you can be certain that he is utterly flummoxed when he stops using pronouns, as in “HeKS does not seem to understand that there are a lot of other people out there who are not HeKS.”

  297. 297
    Box says:

    Barry and HeKS,

    Feser on the difference between grasping a concept and having a mental image:

    Triangularity as your intellect grasps it is entirely determinate or exact; for example, what you grasp is the notion of a closed plane figure with three perfectly straight sides, rather than that of something which may or may not have straight sides or which may or may not be closed. Of course, your mental image of a triangle might not be exact, but rather indeterminate and fuzzy. But to grasp something with the intellect is not the same as to form a mental image of it. For any mental image of a triangle is necessarily going to be of an isosceles triangle specifically, or of a scalene one, or an equilateral one; but the concept of triangularity that your intellect grasps applies to all triangles alike. Any mental image of a triangle is going to have certain features, such as a particular color, that are no part of the concept of triangularity in general. A mental image is something private and subjective, while the concept of triangularity is objective and grasped by many minds at once. And so forth. In general, to grasp a concept is simply not the same thing as having a mental image.

  298. 298
    Aleta says:

    Positing a square circle can easily be shown logically, within the structure of geoemtry, to lead to a contradiction, and thus be impossible: proof by contradiction is a standard proof technique.

    The fact that we can’t imagine one with a mental image is a consequence of one being geometrically impossible. However, not being able to imagine something is not a sufficient reason to think a mathematical object is impossible: 4-dimensional hypercubes are perfectly logical mathematical objects and we can’t imagine one of those either.

  299. 299
    HeKS says:

    Barry,

    I think perhaps I’m not being clear, because while I agree that LH says those things, none of them address my point. Eigenstate and LH want to deny the possibility of certainty over knowledge of any sort about the extra-mental world, but they don’t seem to be in any rush to abandon science or rationality as being wholly useless. They therefore seem to take the position that the first principles of right reasoning (LOI, LNC, LEM) are only necessary axioms with respect to our ability to think about anything, but that the extra-mental world is not beholden to these principles, by which they seem to mean that they are not necessarily a complete description of what might be possible in the extra-mental world. And yet, they don’t seem to be throwing up their hands and declaring science useless and rationality itself utterly baseless. They seem to think that the mere claimed possibility of what we might call extra-logical entities or states of affairs is sufficient to eliminate the possibility of any absolute certainty with respect to any kind of knowledge of the external world but also somehow think that rationality isn’t burned to the ground.

    What I’m saying is that even if they’re right and such extra-logical entities do or can exist in the extra-mental world, that doesn’t necessarily mean that absolute certainty about aspects of the extra-mental world is impossible. Instead, what it seems to mean is that either the ability to know some things about the external world for a certainty is actually increased, or else rationality and science is utterly destroyed and pointless. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground.

    Again, to be clear, what I’m saying here is based on allowing that there is or might be extra-logical entities in the external world, just as they claim. I am not relying on any argument that such things couldn’t possibly exist in the extra-mental world. And what I’m arguing is that this possibility doesn’t actually help their (middle-ground) cause.

    Aleta,

    I find it best to admit when I’m incompetent in a subject, and when it comes to math, I’m largely incompetent. In fact, if you do a google search of this site with my name and the word “math” I think you’ll probably find me saying that a few times.

    That said, as I was just saying to Barry, I’m not arguing that things we can’t visualize or that don’t conform to the basic rules of logic couldn’t possibly exist in the extra-mental world. I’m talking about the possible scenarios that are implied if they do.

    Also, I’m not clear on how the existence of a “perfectly logical mathematical object” serves as a basis for arguing that things could exist in the extra-mental world that are logically inconsistent. As I said in my earlier post, what I was arguing was “not the same as saying that whatever cannot be directly perceived [or visualized] by humans is therefore in contradiction of the LOI, LNC and LEM”.

    HeKS

  300. 300
    Learned Hand says:

    Beating back madness is hard work, and I admit that I need a break from time to time.

    It can’t be that hard; you refuse to offer even a cursory explanation of why the people you revile and insult are wrong. Be honest, BA—typing “liar!” isn’t that much work. You can make a macro for it if it wearies you.

    Mount Everest is a mountain in Asia. I am a man in Colorado. A man in Colorado cannot also be a mountain in Asia. Therefore, I am infallibly certain that I am not Mount Everest.
    Seems like an awfully trivial exercise in reasoning there. Which side of the line do you put it LH?

    The fallible side. Because logically, “I’m certain!” is not an argument that supports the proposition that an infallibly certain answer is possible. It’s a lazy and sophomoric substitution of the feeling of certainty for a reasoned argument for why error is impossible. Whether you’re certain is an entirely separate question from whether error is logically possible. After all, people make mistakes on trivial questions all the time.

    And even if they didn’t, it still doesn’t resolve the question. How do we establish, rigorously and logically, that a proposition about the real world is known infallibly? “It’s easy” isn’t even on the same wavelength as an answer.

    For example, there are people who assert that all life and existence is an illusion—that you are not a man, you are not in Colorado, neither men nor Colorado exist, etc. I find the philosophy pointless, but it exists. How do you know, infallibly, that they’re wrong?

    After two weeks of resistance, we finally dragged LH kicking and screaming into admitting the infallibility of the law of identity.

    You’re preening, not thinking, and thus still misunderstand the conversation that’s been going on above your head for weeks. My position has not changed, and my point has not been that the law of identity isn’t infallible. It’s that we cannot infallibly perceive propositions. My failure to add “except in purely tautological ways” seems to have confused you, and I’ll own that failure to communicate. On the other hand, I’ve directly explained this to you several times. I know that reading and responding to an argument is hard. Can you bring yourself to try?

  301. 301
    Learned Hand says:

    HeKS,

    LH, you don’t seem to understand what HeKS is getting at. He qualified the statement with “where he can understand.” Every single time I understand the predicate is included in the subject, I will understand it is an analytic proposition. And every time I understand it is not, I will understand it is a synthetic proposition. HeKs statement is a tautology. Any time I understand the nature of a proposition, it is impossible for me to be mistaken about the nature of a proposition.

    Exactly.

    Then at best you’ve got yourself a tautology, as BA says; things that we define as true are true, things that we define as being infallible are infallible, when and where no other metric is possible. Great, but so what?

    The paraphrase above admits that in the real world, error is going to happen. Think about that test, asking people whether A=A is an analytic proposition: people will answer the question wrong. Your answer, as interpreted above, is that they’re just No True Scotsmen when they do, because they didn’t understand the proposition. They thought they did, though. The individual people who err won’t know that they’ve erred (or else they wouldn’t have), and how can any test-taker know infallibly they aren’t among this group of people who misunderstood? And if they can’t know in advance whether they’ve erred, then how can anyone taking the test know infallibly that they’ve correctly assigned any given proposition to the “I can know this infallibly” bucket or the “I could be in error” bucket?

    People make mistakes? Is he sure? Is LH therefore absolutely certain that error exists?

    I’ve answered this question a bunch of times. I take the position only that no one has illustrated—or, with the exception of SB, even tried to illustrate—how it could be possible for a human being to know something infallibly. BA has worked himself backwards to analytic propositions (abandoning, for the moment, Jupiter and moral propositions), a limitation I think is probably fair. Is it possible that error doesn’t exist? I suppose it’s possible, but you’d have to put up an argument for the proposition—and while insults are thick on the ground here, actual arguments are hard to come by.

    For example, the statement “all bachelors are unmarried” is an analytic proposition, but it is not a definition. The meaning of the word “bachelor” is not exhausted by the term “unmarried” (it only applies to men), nor is the set of persons who can be described as “unmarried” identical to the set of persons who can rightly be described as “bachelors” (women can also be unmarried).

    I confess the distinction escapes me. I think you’ve shown that “unmarried” is an incomplete definition of “bachelor,” but all that shows is that the two terms are not exactly identical. I think “all bachelors are unmarried” is true by definition; the fact that “all unmarried people are bachelors” is not relevant. In other words, I don’t think exact equivalence is necessary. I don’t think this is an important point, I’m just quibbling, but I’d appreciate understanding where you’re coming from here.

    Let’s allow for a moment that these rules of logic are merely foundational axioms for thought, but ones that do not necessarily apply to the extra-mental world. That is, they are vitally necessary in order for us to be able to think about and conceptualize things, but the external world does not necessarily need to conform to them.
    Ok, so now let’s ask a question: Is it possible for a square-circle to actually exist in the extra-mental world?
    There seem to be three possible answers:
    A) No
    B) Yes
    C) Maybe – The question is unanswerable because any differentiation between the other answers relies on the validity of the LOI, LNC and LEM applying to the extra-mental world.

    Barry’s answer on my behalf isn’t bad. I wrote this before I read it: My answer would be D) We can’t know, infallibly, but our inability to find or even conceive of a square-circle is a very good basis for proceeding as if it is not possible. (Your C is very close to that, but I would want to emphasize that our fallibility doesn’t mean we have to go hunting for square-circles or to suspect one will show up any day now. Our belief that we will survive the night fallible, but we still set our alarm clocks.)

    What, then, would happen to a person mentally if they came across a square-circle in the world? It seems to follow necessarily that they would be unable to mentally process it as it actually existed.

    I’m not sure this is true at all. I think there are lots of things that we find impossible to mentally process. Try to picture both aspects of a Necker cube simultaneously, or infinity. (The cube might not be a good example, I don’t know if you’d consider it to be “in the world” since it’s representational. It’s an amusingly mind-melting exercise, though. And it supports your thought #3 a bit, since our brains seem to force us to see just one half at once.)

    If all evidence that could possibly be marshalled in favor of one view over another contradictory view is not only open to question but could in fact be something utterly different than it seems, possibly actually supporting that contradictory view, and without any possibility of us knowing or ever finding out, or if the views that conflict in our minds could be identical when applied to the extra-mental world, then on what grounds can we argue that holding a rational worldview is commendable or virtuous rather than just some different kind of delusion?

    Consistency, I think. As I said above, we aren’t infallibly sure that we’ll wake up in the morning, but we set our alarms anyway. If circle-squares are possible and perceptible, we’ve never found one and can’t conceive one; we should proceed as if they’re impossible until and unless someone proves us wrong. If circle-squares turn out to be impossible, we’re in good shape. If they’re possible but imperceptible, we’ll never know it, so we’re still in good shape.

    I don’t think we have to be infallible in any meaningful way to value rationality. After all, we already know that people make mistakes about facts and logic all the time—yet we carry on. If all were formless chaos and uncertainty meant that 2+2=4 was only true half the time, it would undermine logic. But when no one can find any example of it ever not being 4, or conceive of such an example, we have just cause to take it as an axiom and proceed.

    But that doesn’t make us infallible! It just means we don’t need to be hostage to the concept of fallibility, when it comes to such basic concepts. The reason we’re having this conversation at all is that BA and SB take the concept of fallibility far beyond such trivial notions, to moral propositions that can’t be tested in the way that 2+2 can. And if they can’t show how they know anything non-trivial infallibly, why should we agree that their moral beliefs are infallible?

    Eigenstate and LH want to deny the possibility of certainty over knowledge of any sort about the extra-mental world, but they don’t seem to be in any rush to abandon science or rationality as being wholly useless.

    Correct. The fact that we could be wrong does not mean that we are wrong, obviously. We can test the consistency of propositions to see whether they hold up, and if the tests aren’t infallible, that’s OK. We know from experience that we can proceed on certain axioms reliably, and that if our understanding of them is wrong, it’s wrong in such a way that isn’t impeding us.

    Instead, what it seems to mean is that either the ability to know some things about the external world for a certainty is actually increased, or else rationality and science is utterly destroyed and pointless. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground.

    I understand what you’re asserting, but not why. Why do we have to be infallible to reason? We apply rationality every day, and it works extremely well. The fact that it works justifies our continued reliance on it. It does not prove that our understanding of its principles is infallible, since that understanding could be flawed in ways that don’t affect us or can’t, in turn, be accurately perceived. Unless and until such flaws do affect us, we’re entitled to go on with our lives.

    Here’s a question for you: what about religious people? If I believe that God is omnipotent and above even the laws of time, space, and reason, then I have to assume these fundamental laws don’t apply universally–God could suspend them on a whim. Am I therefore not allowed to reason? If I assume that God suspended the LOI during the act of creating a universe separate from Himself, or the LOI or LNC by being three-in-one, how does that keep me from using reason and logic everywhere else in my life–even being a scientist?

    Thanks for offering a serious and interesting argument. I’m enjoying it, and I hope I’m being clear. I travel a lot for work, and when I come back to a conversation like this after a day or two there’s a lot to wade through. I chopped up several of your comments in the above response; please let me know if I missed something you’d like a response to.

  302. 302
    HeKS says:

    Hi LH,

    Thanks for the response. I’m also very busy with work right now so I have very little time to participate here at the moment. I also happen to be working on a post for the site about the use of arguments related to God possessing an attribute of omni-something, because I believe Christian claims about what this means are routinely misconstrued, leading to very faulty arguments against God’s existence. That said, I’ll respond to you as soon as I have some time.

    HeKS

  303. 303
    Learned Hand says:

    HeKS,

    I understand the demands of work! I’m only going to be home for a few days over the next month–if I comment it’ll be from Boston or Detroit or SLC or Baltimore or Houston or Germany or who knows where else. (Consulting pays my bills.) Thanks for the discussion so far, if we don’t get a chance to continue.

    If we do, I’m very curious to see how you think the provisional nature of the laws of reason in the eyes of many (not all, I think) religious people affects their ability to reason. If that’s included with your post, I’d appreciate it.

    I also hope you’ll bear in mind something that, in my experience, gets left out of many Christians’ explanations of Christianity to outsiders: it’s a different faith to different people. Which is not to say they’re all right, at least from any particular believer’s perspective, but merely that if you gathered fifty Christians together and asked each to explain what it means for God to be omnipotent, you’d get a dozen answers at least. I like that, I think it shows that people’s faith makes them think. But it makes any single explanation along the lines of “this is what Christians think” is likely to be underinclusive.

  304. 304
    juwilker says:

    LH@ 270
    “Odd how the people shrieking about how easy it is to exclude error don’t seem to be able to identify how it’s actually done. Which is, of course, consistent with their surety being an artifact of preferred belief rather than actual logical reasoning.”

    LH, I “wikipediaed” the term solipicism. I had heard the term here and there and the arguments you make seem come from someone who fits that belief. It might not be correct, but I think you are a solipcist. You are basically saying you can’t be sure of knowing anything, and give yourself permission to question everything. Perhaps you can live this way. I can’t. I have to live my life being “sure” of various things.

    Your response to me is incoherent. How can you even criticize my “preferred belief” with your “preferred belief”? Silly isn’t it? How can you even identify “actual logical reasoning”? How would you know what it is?

    This will be my last post in this thread. I doubt I can change your mind. Its obvious you have built your house on this property and don’t intend to move. But I would like you to consider that you are more than just particles in motion. Your ability to cogently reason (if you choose to) is not an accident, but the gift of your creator. Your retort to your creator “but you didn’t give me the ability to be sure I was correct” will not excuse you.

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