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Comprehensibility of the world

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Albert Einstein, who was struck by the astonishing organization of the cosmos, said:

“The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible” and asked “How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality?”

I have to deduce that Einstein hadn’t an understanding of traditional metaphysics. Otherwise he would neither have spoken about the comprehensibility of the universe as “the most incomprehensible thing” or a “miracle”, nor he would have been surprised that math is so “appropriate to the objects of reality”. In fact metaphysics postulates “universal intelligibility” (nothing is unknowable in principle). The comprehensibility of the world is only a limited by-product of universal intelligibility, which is far more extended than that. Moreover, logic and math, which – when are correctly related to truth – are not mere “products of human thought”, are so effective and appropriate to describe the world only because of the power of the metaphysical principles which they derive from.

How does metaphysics explain the comprehensibility of the world? See this picture:

A camera c “sees” an object – say – an apple a by its lens but has not comprehension of it. A man m sees the apple with his eyes and, in addition, has comprehension of it. What gives man the comprehension, which the camera has not and cannot have? Materialists answer: “Man has the brain”. But the brain is only a physical tool, like the eyes. The brain per se doesn’t explain the deep meaning of comprehension. Furthermore, the brain itself, and its origin, has to be explained, and materialism is unable to do that.

In the figure you see that the apple (and all manifested things) is “connected” by a line R-a to the metaphysical Reality, which contains its principle (or archetype) and gives the apple all its reality. This is really a key point. What has the higher degree of reality is not the apple a, rather the apple in R! Who wants to grasp metaphysics, as first step, must understand that the entire cosmos has a lower reality respecting R. This lower relative reality of anything in the cosmos is fully due to a higher absolute and causative counterpart in R.

Man is connected to the Reality, which is the total Knowledge, by the line R-m, which gives him too all his reality, his being, and in the same time allows his mind to get comprehension of the apple (and anything else). Therefore existence and comprehension are direct participations to the Being and to the total Knowledge. No being, no knowledge is possible without this participation connecting man to the ultimate Being/Knower. This explains why Aristotle defined the highest knowledge as identification, and why Plato said that any real knowledge is remembering, reminiscence. In the picture the line R-m symbolically represents the ontological derivation of man from his principle and also the remembering-identification of his power of knowledge. The line R-a represents the beam connecting the higher apple to the lower apple, like in the Plato’s cave the Ideas/Forms are connected by light beams to their images in the cave, where humans see them.

In the language of Scholasticism this remembering is a sharing of essence/quality. In the language of modern algebra, this remembering is an isomorphism between the Reality and the knowledge of man. (An isomorphism between two things means that they share a common structure.) Without this triangular isomorphism (the lines R-a, R-m, m-a) man could have no comprehension at all of the physical apple a (also if his eyes see the apple along the line m-a). Without it man would be like a camera, an unintelligent receptor of light only.

Since Reality is also the Truth, the divine Intellect, the line R-m is called the universal intellect, which illuminates all intelligent beings. For this reason Thomists defined knowledge as adequatio rei et intellectus, i.e. the isomorphism between the material thing, its image in the human intellect, and finally its Form in the ultimate Source of all, the divine Intellect.

Since logic and mathematics are universal truths they are in the Truth-Reality R. When a scientist, by means of logic and math, is able to understand something about the working of the cosmos or one of its objects, like a, it is via the line R-m that pass downward, the logic, the math and all other stuff needed by m to know the object a, via the line m-a.

Now let’s apply the above explanation to the case when the comprehension of the natural object involves design inference. A design inference, at least partially, is always a reverse-engineering. Reverse-engineering is always, at least partially, isomorphic to the original direct engineering. Thus, also design inference involves the triangular isomorphism of knowledge, with the difference that in this case the Reality is seen as a Designer. The IDer doing the inference somehow remembers what the designer did, and even, at some lower relative level, identifies with him.

Materialists deny the metaphysical Reality R and its connections R-a and R-m. For them, knowledge and comprehension are physical states of the brain only. At the very end, for materialists, also knowledge is matter. This is nonsense of course, how can matter comprehend matter? Materialism absurdly conflates agent and object, knower and known, who sees and what is seen, who understands and what is understood. Consequently, materialism is entirely incapable to explain knowledge and comprehension of anything. So, for materialism, the Einstein’s question remains unanswered. Logic and math (that is fully based on logic), to be so effective, must be universal truths. If they are only states of the brain of one or more individuals – as materialists maintain – they cannot be universal at all. Universal truths must be objective and absolute, not just subjective and relative. Only this way they can be shared among all intelligent beings.

Knowledge of a by m, to be what really is, needs an absolute reference, which is a reference to the absolute. This absolute reference cannot be other than the source of the reality of the object a in R. This is the reason why both a-R and m-R necessarily converge to R, the final source of all: objects and knowledge of objects, the world and comprehensibility of the world.

Bottom line: without an absolute Truth, no logic, no mathematics, no beings, no knowledge by beings, no science, no comprehensibility of the world whatsoever.

54 Replies to “Comprehensibility of the world

  1. 1
    timothya says:

    Niwrad posted this:

    Bottom line: without an absolute Truth, no logic, no mathematics, no beings, no knowledge by beings, no science, no comprehensibility of the world whatsoever.

    How, exactly, do you propose that we (we human beings) arrive at an absolute truth?

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    Niwrad:

    I am first and foremost happy to see you taking up this subtle but oh so important topic, which I have also been recently reflecting on [cf the recent post and thread here].

    I trust that there will be fruitful exchanges on your model.

    I want to suggest that we may all find it significant to also reflect on Liebnitz’s Mill in the Monadology 16 – 17, especially the highlighted from 17 (and let me here HT Frosty):

    1. The monad, of which we will speak here, is nothing else than a simple substance, which goes to make up compounds; by simple, we mean without parts.

    2. There must be simple substances because there are compound substances; for the compound is nothing else than a collection or aggregatum of simple substances.

    3. Now, where there are no constituent parts there is possible neither extension, nor form, nor divisibility. These monads are the true atoms [i.e. “indivisibles,” the original meaning of a-tomos] of nature, and, in a word, the elements of things . . . .

    6. We may say then, that the existence of monads can begin or end only all at once, that is to say, the monad can begin only through creation and end only through annihilation. Compounds, however, begin or end by parts . . . .

    14. The passing condition which involves and represents a multiplicity in the unity, or in the simple substance, is nothing else than what is called perception. This should be carefully distinguished from apperception or consciousness . . . .

    16. We, ourselves, experience a multiplicity in a simple substance, when we find that the most trifling thought of which we are conscious involves a variety in the object. Therefore all those who acknowledge that the soul is a simple substance ought to grant this multiplicity in the monad . . . .

    17. It must be confessed, however, that perception, and that which depends upon it, are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perception, we could conceive of it as increased in size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find anything to explain perception. It is accordingly in the simple substance, and not in the compound nor in a machine that the perception is to be sought. Furthermore, there is nothing besides perceptions and their changes to be found in the simple substance. And it is in these alone that all the internal activities of the simple substance can consist.

    As I went on to comment in the always linked note:

    We may bring this up to date by making reference to more modern views of elements and atoms, through an example from chemistry. For instance, once we understand that ions may form and can pack themselves into a crystal, we can see how salts with their distinct physical and chemical properties emerge from atoms like Na and Cl, etc. per natural regularities (and, of course, how the compounds so formed may be destroyed by breaking apart their constituents!). However, the real issue evolutionary materialists face is how to get to mental properties that accurately and intelligibly address and bridge the external world and the inner world of ideas. This, relative to a worldview that accepts only physical components and must therefore arrive at other things by composition of elementary material components and their interactions per the natural regularities and chance processes of our observed cosmos. Now, obviously, if the view is true, it will be possible; but if it is false, then it may overlook other possible elementary constituents of reality and their inner properties. Which is precisely what Liebnitz was getting at.

    We are back at the ugly gulch, and we are back at the issue of the astonishing effectiveness of mathematical thought in understanding and explaining our world. You may recall my summary in the already linked recent post:

    I recently started with the empty set {} and then constructed the natural numbers by successively equating {} = 0, {0} = 1, {0, 1} = 2, etc. This of course already brings to bear infinity. We can then define operations and mappings so we have addition, subtraction, equality etc. Then, I moved to the reals by using a Baire-like construction that exploits the properties of decimal fractions [WLOG] by defining ordered points in the interval [0, 1] through a countably infinite tree with ten branches at each forking node in succession 0.abc . . . Such allows us to fill up the continuum between 0 and 1, which is all we need to extend to any continuum.

    After that, I had used the i operator concept (where i*i*x = -1*x so we see sqrt -1 playing an important role) to get us to space (and BTW, to angles and rotation in time too, implicitly using the series expansion definitions of e^x, cos x and sin x, where x can in turn be generated as w*t, w angular velocity and t, time). Once we have an interval [0, 1], where it can also be shown that there is some continuous function on a proposed space S that will map points in [0,1] to its points, S is continuous too and is pathwise connected. The space of points (x, i*x) is obviously such as r*e^i*q can span it, r being the magnitude of the vector where r is in [0,1]. In addition, it is possible to iteratively define a Peano space filling curve that in effect allows a moving point — here comes kinematics, the study of motion without regard to forces — to fill it by continuously touring all points in the space. By identifying an orthogonal set of unit vectors i, j, k, and by bringing on board vectors and matrices as usually defined, we are at 3-d space and we are also at kinematics in time long since. For dynamics, we only need to move from points and images to inertial properties and forces across space and time thus momentum and energy. Along the way, calculus enters and gives tools to analyse — or to define — dynamics in the continuum. By this time, we are in familiar territory and can keep going to all of maths and physics in space-time domains.

    There are many issues to reflect on!

    KF

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: The Peano curve is important as it is continuous and a curve, i.e. it shows that points in a multi-dimansional spatial continuum have essentially the same cardinality as a line, that of the Reals.

  4. 4
    Blackrooney says:

    a similiar thought is found in the Bible as well…
    1. Corinthians 2:11-15


    11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the spirit+ of man that is in him? So, too, no one has come to know the things of God, except the spirit+ of God. 12 Now we received, not the spirit+ of the world, but the spirit+ which is from God, that we might know the things that have been kindly given us by God.+ 13 These things we also speak, not with words taught by human wisdom,+ but with those taught by [the] spirit,+ as we combine spiritual [matters] with spiritual [words].*+

    14 But a physical* man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know [them],+ because they are examined spiritually. 15 However, the spiritual+ man* examines indeed all things, but he himself is not examined+ by any man. 16 For “who has come to know the mind of Jehovah,*+ that he may instruct him?”+ But we do have the mind+ of Christ.*

  5. 5
    timothya says:

    kairosfocus thinks this:

    PS: The Peano curve is important as it is continuous and a curve, i.e. it shows that points in a multi-dimansional spatial continuum have essentially the same cardinality as a line, that of the Reals.

    How does this idea fit into niwrad’s model? Does it belong above the metaphysical line or below it?

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    I really like this post niwrad. It clearly elucidates something that’s been rumbling around in the back of mind much more clearly and directly than I could have elucidated it. I have one problem with the illustration you used though. From what you have said in your post, should not the man in the illustration, being a ‘conscious being’, have a ‘preferred position’ in reference to R (Truth-Reality), than either the apple or even the camera has?

    notes:

    Of related interest to this, Einstein was asked (by a philosopher):

    “Can physics demonstrate the existence of ‘the now’ in order to make the notion of ‘now’ into a scientifically valid term?”

    Einstein’s answer was categorical, he said:

    “The experience of ‘the now’ cannot be turned into an object of physical measurement, it can never be a part of physics.”

    Quote was taken from the last few minutes of this following video:

    Stanley L. Jaki: “The Mind and Its Now”
    https://vimeo.com/10588094

    The preceding statement was an interesting statement for Einstein to make since ‘the now of the mind’ has, from many recent experiments in quantum mechanics, undermined Einstein’s General Relativity as to being the absolute frame of reference for reality. i.e. ‘the now of the mind’, contrary to what Einstein thought possible for experimental physics, and according to advances in quantum mechanics, takes precedence over past events in time. Moreover, due to advances in quantum mechanics, it would now be much more appropriate to phrase Einstein’s answer to the philosopher in this way:

    “It is impossible for the experience of ‘the now’ to ever be completely divorced from physical measurement, it will always be a part of physics.”

    further notes to that effect:

    The Galileo Affair and the true “Center of the Universe”
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BHAcvrc913SgnPcDohwkPnN4kMJ9EDX-JJSkjc4AXmA/edit

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”; Eugene Wigner laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.

    “It will remain remarkable, in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the scientific conclusion that the content of the consciousness is the ultimate universal reality” –
    Eugene Wigner – (Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in Wheeler and Zurek, p.169) 1961 – received Nobel Prize in 1963 for ‘Quantum Symmetries’

    Eugene Wigner receives his Nobel Prize for Quantum Symmetries – video 1963
    http://www.nobelprize.org/medi.....hp?id=1111

    Here is Wigner commenting on the key experiment that led Wigner to his Nobel Prize winning work on quantum symmetries,,,

    Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: When I returned to Berlin, the excellent crystallographer Weissenberg asked me to study: why is it that in a crystal the atoms like to sit in a symmetry plane or symmetry axis. After a short time of thinking I understood:,,,, To express this basic experience in a more direct way: the world does not have a privileged center, there is no absolute rest, preferred direction, unique origin of calendar time, even left and right seem to be rather symmetric. The interference of electrons, photons, neutrons has indicated that the state of a particle can be described by a vector possessing a certain number of components. As the observer is replaced by another observer (working elsewhere, looking at a different direction, using another clock, perhaps being left-handed), the state of the very same particle is described by another vector, obtained from the previous vector by multiplying it with a matrix. This matrix transfers from one observer to another.
    http://www.reak.bme.hu/Wigner_.....io/wb1.htm

    i.e. In the experiment the ‘world’ (i.e. the universe) apparently does not have a ‘privileged center’. Yet, strangely, the conscious observer does exhibit a ‘privileged center’. This is since the ‘matrix’, which determines which vector will be used to describe the particle in the experiment, is ‘observer-centric’ in its origination! Thus explaining Wigner’s ‘bizarre’ statement, “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” (See also ‘Wigner’s friend’)

    In the following video, please note how the materialist’s dilemma of a proper frame of reference in reality (R) is highlighted by the ‘simple’ double slit experiment of quantum mechanics, in which the question, in all seriousness, is asked, “Is anything really physical?”

    Quantum Mechanics – Double Slit Experiment. Is anything really physical? (Prof. Anton Zeilinger) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayvbKafw2g0

    A bit deeper reflection is here:

    The Soul Hypothesis: Investigations into the Existence of the Soul
    Chapter 6 is Hans Halvorson’s ‘The Measure of All Things: Quantum Mechanics and the Soul’
    Hans Halvorsen is a philosopher of quantum physics at Princeton University
    Description: Quantum theory’s strange conclusions are founded on data obtained by measuring effects in certain experimental situations. But if quantum theory is correct there are no determinate data of the required sort, for the states of the measuring instruments will be superposed and entangled and thus indeterminate. The dualist has a way out of this problem. Superposition is when a physical system is in two apparently inconsistent states at once — for example, an electron is passing through both the left-hand slit and the right-hand one at the same time. Because of the nature of linear dynamics, this superposition is retained in a device further down the line of this process. If this continued with an observer, he would be aware of inconsistently believing that the electron was in two places at once. But this is not what happens. Observation ‘collapses the wave packet’ (not a phrase Halvorson generally deploys) and only one determinate state is observed. Now it is often pointed out that measurement collapses the wave packet, but that the measuring device need not be a conscious observer. Halvorson replies to this that a non-conscious measuring device will itself be in an entangled state, but that if a conscious subject observes it, only one of its possible states will be seen, so consciousness is crucial to making reality determinate. (151)
    http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/24611-.....-the-soul/

    Of semi-related note to the infamous ‘Wigner’s friend’ thought experiment, please note how it is now shown that present observations can effect past states:

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    Moreover, the argument for God from consciousness can be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect):
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

    Quote of Note:

    Quantum Enigma:Physics Encounters Consciousness – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.
    And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial…

    Music and Verse

    Casting Crowns-Already There
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s099Omqw1_E

    Psalm 8:4
    What is man that You take thought of him,,,

  7. 7
    niwrad says:

    bornagain77 #3

    “Should not the man in the illustration, being a ‘conscious being’, have a ‘preferred position’ in reference to R (Truth-Reality), than either the apple or even the camera has?”

    Yes! You are right. The man has a preferred position in reference to R, for man has intellect while objects haven’t. Any illustration is necessarily defective, and I was unable to evidence in the picture the man’s “centrality”. Sorry.

  8. 8
    DiEb says:

    The Peano curve is important as it is continuous and a curve, i.e. it shows that points in a multi-dimansional spatial continuum have essentially the same cardinality as a line, that of the Reals.

    To show that “that points in a multi-dimansional spatial continuum have essentially the same cardinality as a line” you don’t need something which is “continuous and a curve” (BTW, curves are continuous), but just a bijective mapping. You could map [0;1] x [0;1] bijectively on [0;1] by sending (0.a1a2a3a4…;0.b1b2b3b3…) on 0.a1b1a2b2a3b3a4b4….

    I’m afraid the only need for the Peano curve is in this context that it sounds so nice and a little bit impressive….

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    niwrad, it is interesting to note that everybody seems to intuitively know that General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics should be able to be unified into a ‘theory of everything’, into an Truth-Reality R,,,

    “So you think of physics in search of a “Grand Unified Theory of Everything”, Why should we even think there is such a thing? Why should we think there is some ultimate level of resolution? Right? It is part, it is a consequence of believing in some kind of design. Right? And there is some sense in which that however mulrifarious and diverse the phenomena of nature are, they are ultimately unified by the minimal set of laws and principles possible. In so far as science continues to operate with that assumption, there is a presupposition of design that is motivating the scientific process. Because it would be perfectly easy,, to stop the pursuit of science at much lower levels. You know understand a certain range of phenomena in a way that is appropiate to deal with that phenomena and just stop there and not go any deeper or any farther.”,,, You see, there is sense in which there is design at the ultimate level, the ultimate teleology you might say, which provides the ultimate closure,,”
    – Dr. Steve Fuller – quote as stated beginning at 17:34 minute mark of the following video:
    In Cambridge, Professor Steve Fuller discusses intelligent design – Video
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....nd-others/

    But nobody seems to know how to unify them, mathematically, into a theory of everything:

    “I discovered that nature was constructed in a wonderful way, and our task is to find out its mathematical structure”
    Albert Einstein – The Einstein Factor – Reader’s Digest

    LIVING IN A QUANTUM WORLD – Vlatko Vedral – 2011
    Excerpt: Thus, the fact that quantum mechanics applies on all scales forces us to confront the theory’s deepest mysteries. We cannot simply write them off as mere details that matter only on the very smallest scales. For instance, space and time are two of the most fundamental classical concepts, but according to quantum mechanics they are secondary. The entanglements are primary. They interconnect quantum systems without reference to space and time. If there were a dividing line between the quantum and the classical worlds, we could use the space and time of the classical world to provide a framework for describing quantum processes. But without such a dividing line—and, indeed, with­out a truly classical world—we lose this framework. We must ex­plain space and time (4D space-time) as somehow emerging from fundamental­ly spaceless and timeless physics.
    http://phy.ntnu.edu.tw/~chchan.....611038.pdf

    Shape from Sound: Toward New Tools for Quantum Gravity – 2013
    Excerpt: To unify general relativity and quantum theory is hard in part because they are formulated in two very different mathematical languages, differential geometry and functional analysis.,,,
    http://prl.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v110/i12/e121301

    Testing Einstein’s E=mc2 in outer space – January 4, 2013
    Excerpt: “The most important problem in physics is the Unifying Theory of Everything – a theory that can describe all forces observed in nature,” said Lebed. “The main problem toward such a theory is how to unite relativistic quantum mechanics and gravity. I try to make a connection between quantum objects and General Relativity.” The key to understand Lebed’s reasoning is gravitation. On paper at least, he showed that while E=mc2 always holds true for inertial mass, it doesn’t always for gravitational mass. “What this probably means is that gravitational mass is not the same as inertial,” he said.,,,
    “Space has a curvature,” Lebed said, “and when you move a mass in space, this curvature disturbs this motion.” According to the UA physicist, the curvature of space is what makes gravitational mass different from inertial mass. Lebed suggested to test his idea by measuring the weight of the simplest quantum object: a single hydrogen atom, which only consists of a nucleus, a single proton and a lone electron orbiting the nucleus.,,,
    Lebed suggested the following experiment to test his hypothesis: Send a small spacecraft with a tank of hydrogen and a sensitive photo detector onto a journey into space. In outer space, the relationship between mass and energy is the same for the atom, but only because the flat space doesn’t permit the electron to change energy levels. “When we’re close to Earth, the curvature of space disturbs the atom, and there is a probability for the electron to jump, thereby emitting a photon that is registered by the detector,” he said. Depending on the energy level, the relationship between mass and energy is no longer fixed under the influence of a gravitational field. Lebed said the spacecraft would not have to go very far. “We’d have to send the probe out two or three times the radius of Earth, and it will work.” According to Lebed, his work is the first proposition to test the combination of quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of gravity in the solar system.
    http://phys.org/news/2013-01-e.....space.html

    Theory of everything
    Excerpt: Many candidate theories of everything have been proposed by theoretical physicists during the twentieth century, but none have been confirmed experimentally.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_everything

    Perhaps the most infamous attempt to unify General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics was M-Theory:

    ‘What is referred to as M-theory isn’t even a theory. It’s a collection of ideas, hopes, aspirations. It’s not even a theory and I think the book is a bit misleading in that respect. It gives you the impression that here is this new theory which is going to explain everything. It is nothing of the sort. It is not even a theory and certainly has no observational (evidence),,, I think the book suffers rather more strongly than many (other books). It’s not a uncommon thing in popular descriptions of science to latch onto some idea, particularly things to do with string theory, which have absolutely no support from observations.,,, They are very far from any kind of observational (testability). Yes, they (the ideas of M-theory) are hardly science.” – Roger Penrose – former close colleague of Stephen Hawking – in critique of Hawking’s new book ‘The Grand Design’ the exact quote in the following video clip:

    Roger Penrose Debunks Stephen Hawking’s New Book ‘The Grand Design’ – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5278793/

    This following article and video highlights the main difficulty of reconciling GR into the framework of QM:

    THE MYSTERIOUS ZERO/INFINITY
    Excerpt: What the two theories have in common – and what they clash over – is zero.”,, “The infinite zero of a black hole — mass crammed into zero space, curving space infinitely — punches a hole in the smooth rubber sheet. The equations of general relativity cannot deal with the sharpness of zero. In a black hole, space and time are meaningless.”,, “Quantum mechanics has a similar problem, a problem related to the zero-point energy. The laws of quantum mechanics treat particles such as the electron as points; that is, they take up no space at all. The electron is a zero-dimensional object,,, According to the rules of quantum mechanics, the zero-dimensional electron has infinite mass and infinite charge.
    http://www.fmbr.org/editoral/e....._mar02.htm

    Quantum Mechanics and Relativity – The Collapse Of Physics?
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6597379

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Though the physicists/mathematicians in the preceding video, in exasperation, feel that they are at a dead end in ever successfully reconciling General Relativity within Quantum Mechanics, I would like to put forth the case that the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Himself, as strange as it may sound people, is the most parsimonious solution to the number one problem in science today.

    The reason I hold that the resurrection of Jesus is the most parsimonious explanation for the reconciliation of GR into QM is that, as niwrad has pointed out in this post, and as Godel has shown in his incompleteness theorem, we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable,,

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    Godel and Physics – John D. Barrow
    Excerpt (page 5-6): “Clearly then no scientific cosmology, which of necessity must be highly mathematical, can have its proof of consistency within itself as far as mathematics go. In absence of such consistency, all mathematical models, all theories of elementary particles, including the theory of quarks and gluons…fall inherently short of being that theory which shows in virtue of its a priori truth that the world can only be what it is and nothing else. This is true even if the theory happened to account for perfect accuracy for all phenomena of the physical world known at a particular time.”
    Stanley Jaki – Cosmos and Creator – 1980, pg. 49

    In fact Godel himself had this to say,,

    The God of the Mathematicians – Goldman
    Excerpt: As Gödel told Hao Wang, “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person.” – Kurt Gödel – (Gödel is considered one of the greatest logicians who ever existed)
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    Thus if we allow God to play ‘the role of a person’ in Jesus Christ, which may be very difficult for some people to allow the possibility of, then a empirically backed reconciliation of GR into QM finds a very credible, empirically backed, solution in the event horizon evidenced on the Shroud of Turin:

    THE EVENT HORIZON (Space-Time Singularity) OF THE SHROUD OF TURIN. – Isabel Piczek – Particle Physicist
    Excerpt: We have stated before that the images on the Shroud firmly indicate the total absence of Gravity. Yet they also firmly indicate the presence of the Event Horizon. These two seemingly contradict each other and they necessitate the past presence of something more powerful than Gravity that had the capacity to solve the above paradox.
    http://shroud3d.com/findings/i.....-formation

    Turin Shroud: a medical forensic study of its blood marks and image (Body Position) – G.Lavoie – May 2010
    http://www.acheiropoietos.info.....oieWeb.pdf

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    Verse and music:

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    Phillips, Craig & Dean – When The Stars Burn Down
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPuxnQ_vZqY

  11. 11
    niwrad says:

    kairosfocus #1

    “I am first and foremost happy to see you taking up this subtle but oh so important topic.”

    Thanks kairosfocus. Yes, I agree with you about the importance of the topic (on which you dedicate so many efforts). In fact there is a thing more important than to know X. It is to know WHY we can know X. “To know X” is science. “To know WHY we can know X” is meta-science, so to speak. “Meta-X” is always higher than X (“meta” means “over”, “overarching”, “transcending”, “beyond”, “superior”, “super”, “upon”…). Metaphysics is the highest knowledge, to which all other knowledges are necessarily subordinate, also if the priests of materialism and scientism don’t like that.

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    niwrad, I want to thank you again. I’m glad you have articulated this topic so clearly (and so deeply). It is interesting that even atheist Alex Rosenberg, whom recently debated Dr. Craig, concedes some of the very points you have made as to intelligibility. (Although he does not flesh out the depth to which the dependency goes as you do) Yet, amazingly, Dr. Rosenberg is unwilling to follow the logic of his own ‘mind’ out of the atheistic/materialistic abyss that he found himself mired in. Apparently his belief/desire in materialism/atheism is so strong that even the undermining of his very own rationality by materialism isn’t enough to dissuade him of perusing it to the bitter end,, perhaps even into Friedrich Nietzsche dark nihilism.

    Parable of the Madman – Friedrich Nietzsche – as told by Ravi Zacharias – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TO5MytakLy8

    niwrad, I have filed your post right under the Craig-Rosenberg debate in my notes:

    Is Faith in God Reasonable? FULL DEBATE with William Lane Craig and Alex Rosenberg – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ge#t=3641s

    Dr Craig states that Dr. Rosenberg blurs together:

    Epistemological Naturalism: which holds that science is the only source of knowledge and, Metaphysical Naturalism: which holds that only physical things exist

    As to, Epistemological Naturalism, which holds that science is the only source of knowledge, Dr. Craig states it is a false theory of knowledge since,,,

    a). it is overly restrictive
    and
    b) it is self refuting

    Moreover Dr Craig states, epistemological naturalism does not imply metaphysical naturalism.,, In fact a Empistemological Naturalist can and should be a Theist, according to Dr. Craig, because Metaphysical Naturalism is reducto ad absurdum on (at least) these eight following points:

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

    I strongly suggest watching Dr. Craig’s short presentation, that I have linked below, to get a full feel for just how insane the metaphysical naturalist’s position actually is.

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

  13. 13
    niwrad says:

    bornagain77 #8

    “It is interesting that even atheist Alex Rosenberg, whom recently debated Dr. Craig, concedes some of the very points you have made as to intelligibility.”

    Thanks bornagain77. Godless scientists are strange guys. Their own “being” is entirely based on what I called “Reality” in my post and its illustration. Their own job is entirely based on what there I called “intelligibility”. Even their own “negation” of metaphysics is entirely based on metaphysics, what else! Reality, intelligibility, metaphysics are all “dots” or “signs” that – when connected – lead directly to … surprise … God. They refute to connect the dots, without discerning that their refutation is in primis the negation of their own personal real essence.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related interest: contrary to the atheist’s belief that they are the ‘rational’ ones, it turns out that belief in atheism/materialism leads to increased irrationality personally and for society as a whole:

    Look Who’s Irrational Now – 2008
    Excerpt: “What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....54585.html

    There are actually studies that show that people who do not believe in a soul are a little bit more anti-social (psychopathic) than the majority of people who do believe in a soul:

    Anthony Jack, Why Don’t Psychopaths Believe in Dualism? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?l.....zOk#t=862s

    The following video is far more direct in establishing the ‘spiritual’ link to man’s ability to learn new information, in that it shows that the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot or near the top spot in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court, not by public decree, in 1963. Whereas the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world:

    The Real Reason American Education Has Slipped – David Barton – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318930

    AMERICA: To Pray Or Not To Pray – David Barton – graphs corrected for population growth
    http://www.whatyouknowmightnotbeso.com/graphs.html

    United States Crime Rates 1960 – 2010 (Please note the skyrocketing crime rate from 1963, the year prayer was removed from school, thru 1980, the year the steep climb in crime rate finally leveled off.) of note: The slight decline in crime rate from the mid 90s until now is attributed in large part to tougher enforcement on minor crimes. (a nip it in the bud policy?)
    http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

    What Lies Behind Growing Secularism by William Lane Craig – May 2012 – podcast (steep decline in altruism of young people since early 1960’s)
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....secularism

    Bruce Charlton’s Miscellany – October 2011
    Excerpt: I had discovered that over the same period of the twentieth century that the US had risen to scientific eminence it had undergone a significant Christian revival. ,,,The point I put to (Richard) Dawkins was that the USA was simultaneously by-far the most dominant scientific nation in the world (I knew this from various scientometic studies I was doing at the time) and by-far the most religious (Christian) nation in the world. How, I asked, could this be – if Christianity was culturally inimical to science?
    http://charltonteaching.blogsp.....-wife.html

    America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists – Rodney Stark – book
    Excerpt: Stark devotes whole chapters to unpacking the latest research on how religion affects different facets of modern American life, including crime, family life, sexuality, mental and physical health, sophistication, charity, and overall prosperity. The cumulative effect is that when translated into comparisons with western European nations, the United States comes out on top again and again. Thanks in no small part to America’s rich religious culture, the nation has far lower crime rates, much higher levels of charitable giving, better health, stronger marriages, and less suicide, to note only a few of the benefits.
    http://www.amazon.com/Americas.....1599474123

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

  15. 15
    Robert Byers says:

    Old AL got this one right!
    The universe is in order because it was created to be orderly by a creator.
    Its self evident.
    math is only a language of this reality. Its divisions only demonstrate a ordered machine. This reality is what exists and not math. Math is a illusion. Its only a creation of man and doesn’t exist without man as it were.

    Its so evident that a ordered and complex thing as physics and biology could only be the work of a thinking being.
    Its a waste of time to quarrel with deniers of this.
    Its better to quarrel about other matters of origins like evolution and geology etc.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    Ravi Zacharias – Why I’m Not An Atheist – livestream video (skip to 1hr 5min mark to pick up lecture)
    http://new.livestream.com/mbc-tv/events/1998779

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    Niwrad: As thread owner, it seems likely that you have power to release moderated comments in your thread, as will be seen on hovering at the bottom of the body of the comment when you open the page in edit mode and scroll down to comments. There seem to be a few for this thread (from the comment stream). I will not comment on reply until I see such. KF

  18. 18
    StephenB says:

    Oh my, niwrad, what a wonderful post. You have fulfilled a desperate need. Other than the contemplation of God and his sacred mysteries, there is no subject on earth more important that story of how man apprehends reality and whyu it matters. As Aquinas once put it, “reason in man is rather like God in the world.”

    Many people underestimate the importance of this topic. To understand it is to go a long way toward countering Kant’s deadly blunder of denying the possibility of noumenal knowledge. As we often discover at UD, modern minds contaminated with this error lose their capacity to interpret evidence in a rational way.

  19. 19
    Mung says:

    Many people underestimate the importance of this topic. To understand it is to go a long way toward countering Kant’s deadly blunder of denying the possibility of noumenal knowledge.

    I can’t know what it means to be a blog post, therefore I cannot know a blog-post-in-itself, therefore no one can know what it means to be a blog post, therefore knowledge about blog posts is impossible?

  20. 20
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: North Korean Shin Dong-hyuk talks about his escape from Camp 14
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....P4y3NRstcA

  21. 21
    niwrad says:

    Thanks StephenB. You are right about the importance of “the story of how man apprehends reality”. In fact, the same channel-connection R-m that is the via of comprehension is the via of creation of ourselves and all our powerful attributes: being, agency, intellect, life, consciousness, reason, mind, free-will…). IOW, the line R-m is not at all an abstract invention arisen in the wry brain of niwrad, rather what has the highest level of reality and power relating to us! Isn’t that a beautiful thing for all of us?

  22. 22
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Right, because no one has ever developed a naturalistic alternative to Platonic-Aristotelian treatments of knowledge and meaning — except for Wittgenstein, Dewey, Quine, Sellars, Brandom, Churchland, Foucault, Deleuze, Merleau-Ponty — but who cares?

  23. 23
    niwrad says:

    Kantian Naturalist #18

    A naturalistic theory of knowledge cannot exist for the simple fact that knowledge is transcendence. The physical cannot know the physical because who sees and what is seen cannot identify (nihil agit se ipsum). Have you noted that the philosophers you cite are all modern thinkers? Modernism is total negation of traditional metaphysics. No wonder that modern philosophers have worked hard to search for an impossible naturalistic theory of knowledge.

    Given we *know* that you are “Naturalist” and we *know* that I am “niwrad” (names matter after all – and are not physical, do you concede that?) it is likely we will never agree on this and many other topics. Do you feel relief with your naturalistic theories of knowledge? Yes, ok, I do too with the traditional one. So no problem.

  24. 24

    niwrad: You forget that KN is not hampered by such antiquated ideas as the law of identity or non-contradiction. For such as he, even a 4-sided triangle is possible.

  25. 25
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Niwrad, I suppose there’s little hope for agreement between us as to whether the rejection of “traditional metaphysics” — a rejection that you call “modernism” — was a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. By my lights, it’s without question a Good Thing, and of course my thinking it to be so goes together with a whole host of aesthetic, ethical, and political positions with which you would most likely disagree as well.

    That being said, my point was simply that there has been a great deal of work done in naturalistic theories of knowledge and meaning, that the view is much more interesting and sophisticated than you assume it to be, and if you wanted to be an intellectual rather than an apologist, you just might want to take a look at what’s actually been written rather than rely on your assumptions about what must be the case.

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    If you hold there there is no transcendent ‘you’ apart from your body then there can be no objective ‘system of knowledge’ for you since you lack an objective outside point of view apart from your temporal body.

    “‘I’ am my body”
    – Kantian Naturalist

  27. 27
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist,

    Matter cannot comprehend matter. There is simply no way around the fact that in order for a knower to know something, each element of the process must exist in a different realm. A concept of a physical universe cannot also be a physical universe. Otherwise, the human mind could not get a universe inside of it. A material universe certainly cannot get inside itself.

  28. 28
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Let’s get at some of these complicated issues through a different route: on your conception of anti-materialism (however Platonic, Aristotelian, Scholastic, Christian, etc.), do any animals know anything? If so, how? If not, why not?

  29. 29
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist

    That being said, my point was simply that there has been a great deal of work done in naturalistic theories of knowledge and meaning, that the view is much more interesting and sophisticated than you assume it to be, and if you wanted to be an intellectual rather than an apologist, you just might want to take a look at what’s actually been written rather than rely on your assumptions about what must be the case.

    A true “intellectual” makes his case, as niwrad has done, he doesn’t simply provide a reading list, as you have done. Follow niwrad’s example. Go ahead and make your case for matter comprehending matter in about ten paragraphs. Feel free to use pictures and diagrams. Let us indeed, separate the partisan apologist from the true intellectual.

  30. 30
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    I do not recognize anything of my own views in the phrase, “matter comprehending matter.” But if there’s interest in an alternative to the Platonic/Aristotelian picture niwrad sketched, I can provide one.

  31. 31
    Box says:

    KN #26: I do not recognize anything of my own views in the phrase, “matter comprehending matter.”

    So your view on reality is not naturalistic? In your opinion matter and laws of nature do not produce the universe? What exactly do you add to the mixture?

  32. 32
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist

    But if there’s interest in an alternative to the Platonic/Aristotelian picture niwrad sketched, I can provide one.

    Irrational alternatives are not hard to find, as your list of names makes clear. I would, however, be interested in knowing about a rational alternative. Yes, please provide the sketch.

  33. 33
    niwrad says:

    Kantian Naturalist

    “The very metaphysical doctrine has not at all to worry about the various “theories of knowledge” that modern philosophy so heavily elaborates; on the contrary, in such attempts of substituting a “theory of knowledge” to the real direct knowledge it is easy to see the clearest admission of impotence, also if certainly unconscious, from this philosophy, so fully ignorant of any possibility of effective realization.” (René Guénon, “The Multiple States of the Being”, chap.XV, “The realization of the being by means of knowledge” [my translation from French])

    An advice for you dear Kantian Naturalist: study Guénon and you will discard all modern philosophies and become less “naturalist” than me.

  34. 34
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    A non-Platonic view of knowledge and meaning:

    Empirical knowledge (i.e. justified, true beliefs about matters-of-fact) requires two distinct conditions: embodiment and discursivity.

    Embodiment — being a living body — is necessary for locating sensuous particulars in space and in time and so for recognizing relations of similarity and difference between sensuous particulars; discursivity — being able to navigate the space of reasons — is necessary for classifying those particulars as being objects and properties. Discursivity allows one to identify and evaluate (i) logical relations between assertions, (ii) metaphysical relations between states-of-affairs, and (iii) the relation between (i) and (ii).

    An embodied but non-discursive being would be able to identify motivationally salient sensuous particulars, but it would not be able to make such elementary metaphysical distinctions as “object/property” or logical distinctions as “subject/predicate”. A discursive but non-embodied being would be able to construct a logically consistent system of assertions, but it would not be able to identify correlations between its objectively valid assertions and any spatio-temporal sensuous particulars. Hence neither an embodied but non-discursive being, nor a discursive but non-embodied being, would be able to so much as entertain anything that would look to us like a candidate for empirical knowledge.

    Now, the astute reader will notice that thus far, I’ve not yet said anything that a Platonist would find objectionable. That’s part of my point — to begin with a correct description of our epistemic situation, and then move to contrasting explanations of that situation. (This correlates, roughly, with Kant’s distinction between transcendental and empirical claims.) Now I’ll develop the contrast between Platonism and pragmatism (though my pragmatism is more closely aligned with that of Peirce, Dewey, and Sellars than with that of James and Rorty).

    Whereas the Platonist explains discursivity in terms of our grasp of the relevant Forms or Ideas, the pragmatist explains discursivity in terms of our grasp of socially-grounded norms. Put otherwise, for the pragmatist, one’s grasp of a concept just is one’s ability to use a word correctly. (It is not that the ability to use the word correctly is explained by one’s grasp of the corresponding Form, but that the ability to use a word correctly just is one’s grasp of the concept. Concepts are not words, but they are the abilities to use words correctly.)

    Correct usage, in tern, is constituted by social practices, and in particular, by social practices. (This is not a matter of “convention”, because people can fail to properly understand their own social practices — as, for example, the citizens of Athens sentenced Socrates to death because they failed to grasp that their social practices were destructive of their civilization, as they were promoting the very same values that led to the defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War.)

    But, it does follow from this view that there is no good theoretical answer to the question, “why should we have the social practices that we have?” For our social practices are the ground of justification and of meaning (though not, of course, of truth), and so cannot be justified in terms of anything further or more ultimate than themselves. (I like to put it as follows: there are grounds, but the grounds are groundless.) The only good response to, “but should we have the social practices that we have?” is a practical response: to propose an alternative and see how well it fares.

    There’s a lot to be said about how discursivity and embodiment interaction is implemented through the brain-body-world causal nexus, but I think I’ve said enough for now.

  35. 35
    niwrad says:

    Kantian Naturalist #30

    Empirical knowledge is only an infinitesimal part of total knowledge. Non empirical knowledge needs neither embodiment nor discursivity.

    Whereas the Platonist explains discursivity in terms of our grasp of the relevant Forms or Ideas, the pragmatist explains discursivity in terms of our grasp of socially-grounded norms.

    Discursivity is reason. Also an isolated man can be rational. So reason transcends socially-grounded norms.

    There are grounds, but the grounds are groundless.

    This is your usual self-confuting relativism.

    For the pragmatist, one’s grasp of a concept just is one’s ability to use a word correctly.

    Knowledge immensely transcends use of words. What is conceivable immensely transcends what is expressible.

    Pragmatism is a poor conception of knowledge. It reduces the infinite knowledge of the Being to an infinitesimal, the practical utility of individuals.

    Please please retry with something less miserable.

  36. 36
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Following-up:

    (1) A human being living in solitude who has been properly socialized and acculturated can be perfectly rational — imagine a prisoner or a hermit — but I simply don’t think that a human being who lacked all socialization and acculturation — someone who had never acquired any discursive practices, i.e. had never learned a language — could be rational.

    Of course someone who has acquired a robust set of discursive practices can reflect on them, since rational reflection is itself a social practice, and indeed the most important one we’ve yet developed. So it all depends on what “the transcendence of norms by reason” is taken to mean. If it means that we can pose to ourselves questions about how our norms can be revised, and by what criteria, etc. then I have no objection; if it means that we can look down upon ourselves from “the view from nowhere”, sub specie aeternitatis, then I disagree in the strongest sense.

    (2) I’m interested in empirical knowledge — that being, you know, important for science — but I’m willing to talk about moral knowledge, mathematical knowledge, or even (in my sense) “metaphysical knowledge”. A more fine-grained approach would require distinguishing between explanation, understanding, wisdom, justification, etc.

    (3) I’m not using a straw-person caricature of Platonism; I’d appreciate it if no one used a straw-person caricature of pragmatism. Try reading the article I linked to, or referring directly to what I said; at no point did I say anything about “the practical utility of individuals”.

    (4) The original post made the contention, as I understood it, that empirical knowledge is only possible because there is such a thing as “infinite knowledge of the Being”. So, if someone says, “but why should I think there’s any such thing as ‘infinite knowledge of the Being?'”, one can respond, “because if there weren’t, there couldn’t be any ordinary empirical knowledge, either!” So my contention here is really two-fold:

    (i) embodiment and discursivity are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for empirical knowledge;

    (ii) embodiment and discursivity are better explained in terms of the brain-body-world causal nexus than in terms of non-material objects somehow (causally? is there ‘immaterial causation’?) interacting with non-material minds;

    (iii) so there is no need to talk about “the infinite knowledge of the Being,” whatever that means, in order to understand empirical knowledge.

  37. 37
    StephenB says:

    KN

    Now, the astute reader will notice that thus far, I’ve not yet said anything that a Platonist would find objectionable.

    The astute reader will notice that you have not yet addressed the issue. How does the knower apprehend the thing known from a naturalist perspective?

    Whereas the Platonist explains discursivity in terms of our grasp of the relevant Forms or Ideas, the pragmatist explains discursivity in terms of our grasp of socially-grounded norms.

    If the standards for discursivity are defined in terms of socially grounded norms, it follows that those standards change when the norms change, which means that they are not standards at all. Do you understand why this is not rational?

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    DiEb:

    I see your comment has been released, on Peano.

    I used Peano’s space-filling curve precisely because of something modern mathematicians “deplore.” It is VISUAL, analogous to how a ball of twine fills a volume, while being a “linear” feature.

    With this curve in hand, we have a visualisable expression of how a space has the same cardinality as the real number line. (And, it is all in order, it can be shown analytically.)

    One that I bet will never be forgotten, once seen!

    KF

  39. 39
    niwrad says:

    timothya #1

    How, exactly, do you propose that we (we human beings) arrive at an absolute truth?

    A neat and polite question asks an exact answer.

    To get a theoretical knowledge of the Absolute Truth you should study the metaphysical doctrine of Tradition. The pandit who, in the modern times, has magisterially expressed such lost doctrine is René Guénon in his 27 books (almost all translated to English by Sophia Perennis).

    After having well done such preliminary job, you will have an idea on how to pass to the second step: to get the direct and effective knowledge of the Absolute Truth, which is technically called “metaphysical realization”. After having obtained such goal the illusory timothya will be entirely and definitely died because fully and eternally identified with the Absolute Reality.

  40. 40
    Box says:

    Niwrad #39: (..) pass to the second step: to get the direct and effective knowledge of the Absolute Truth, (..). After having obtained such goal the illusory timothya will be entirely and definitely died because fully and eternally identified with the Absolute Reality.

    Why would the alleged ‘illusory’ Timothya (or niwrad or Box) commit mental suicide over some alleged ‘Absolute Reality’, ‘Nirvana’, ‘Atmâ’ or ‘Universal’? What could possibly motivate us? The recurrent problem with eastern doctrines is their joined attack on individuality, consciousness and reason, which they call ‘ego’, ‘illusory’, ‘lower self’ and what have you.

  41. 41
    niwrad says:

    box #40

    Yours is a typical question about the second step when the first step is not yet accomplished. In the metaphysical realization nobody “commits mental suicide”, nothing is destroyed but illusion, which is a useless and harmful thing.

  42. 42
    Box says:

    Niwrad #41
    Am I talking with ‘Absolute Reality’ or are you still your good old ‘illusory’, ‘useless’ and ‘harmful’ self?

  43. 43
    niwrad says:

    Box #42

    Yours is a personal question about niwrad that, as such, has no importance. General questions are more important than individual ones. Timothya asked a general question, niwrad answered him, that’s all.

  44. 44
    StephenB says:

    niwrad, I like Box’s question, so if you don’t mind, I think I will stretch out on it a bit. To know absolute reality in the most profound sense, we would have to know, among other things, [a] God as He is and as He knows himself, [b] everything about His created order, including its purpose [c] the truth about our relationship to God, [d] the purpose of our own existence, and [e] the means for realizing our destiny.

    Though reason and contemplation will certainly take us to unimaginable heights, there are certain truths that are simply beyond our grasp. Ultimately, we must depend on faith and Divine revelation to complete our journey, which is both intellectual and moral in scope. At that point, our task, it seems to me, is to discern which, among the many competing religious world views, represents God’s ultimate truth. Religion must first pass the test of reason, but after it does, it can and should illuminate our reason.

    It is, therefore, important to know who, among all those who claim to speak for God (or truth) is the most credible candidate. I submit that there are three tests that we can administer that will provide the most reasonable answer:

    1) Did that person ever teach anything contrary to reason? Did He provide knowledge that humans would never have attained without the intervention.

    2) Was the person’s appearance foretold. The least God could do is tell us ahead of time that He was going to send someone.

    3) Did that person establish His Divine credentials by performing miracles and associating those miracles with his claims to Divinity. Did he literally rise from the dead?

    Let us now consider some of the major figures and decide who, if any, passes these tests:

    Socrates–no

    Plato–no

    Aristotle–no

    Muhammed–no

    Ghandi–no

    Confucious–no

    Krishna–no

    Guenon–no

    Jesus Christ–Yes.

  45. 45
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: StephenB # 37:

    If the standards for discursivity are defined in terms of socially grounded norms, it follows that those standards change when the norms change, which means that they are not standards at all. Do you understand why this is not rational?

    I understand why it seems to you that rationality must be timeless and unchanging, but on my more modest, deflationary account of rationality, rationality is itself part of the process of life, history, and becoming, and does not stand entirely apart from it. But yes, I do think that some norms do evolve over the course of human history — and I think that’s a good thing, because a lot of those changes have resulted in less privilege and less oppression.

    What is significant about the life of a discursive animal is that a discursive animal can adopt a free and distanced attitude towards its own embedded situatedness; it is not wholly absorbed into it, as non-discursive animals are. And with the capacity to adopt a free and distanced attitude comes the possibility of both detecting and correcting one’s cognitive errors, which non-discursive animals cannot do. So norms can still do some of their old work — guiding a self-correcting enterprise from which the norms themselves are not exempted — even though reason is part of life, history, and becoming.

  46. 46
    nullasalus says:

    But yes, I do think that some norms do evolve over the course of human history — and I think that’s a good thing, because a lot of those changes have resulted in less privilege and less oppression.

    And a lot of them have resulted in a whole lot more privilege and more oppression. See: Kermit Gosnell.

    See, the thing about ‘evolving norms’ is they don’t have to ‘evolve’ in the direction we like. Someday – hey, it may not even be far off – the norm for a man, or a woman, or a child speaking out of place may be a pipe to the face and a busted jaw. Which can be acceptable by the new norm.

    Right, because no one has ever developed a naturalistic alternative to Platonic-Aristotelian treatments of knowledge and meaning — except for Wittgenstein, Dewey, Quine, Sellars, Brandom, Churchland, Foucault, Deleuze, Merleau-Ponty — but who cares?

    They haven’t. For some of them that’s obvious – your list includes eliminativists. For others, all they’ve developed is a vague, grasping hope that maybe, someday, possibly, an alternative can come up. For still others, their alternative is vague – and upon inspection, it either collapses into eliminativism, or non-naturalism.

    If I said ‘Sure, as if no one has ever developed an alternative to evolutionary theory – except for Ken Ham, John D Morris, etc etc – but who cares?’, it’d have about as much purchase.

  47. 47
    Box says:

    Niwrad #43 You sound like THE BORG.

  48. 48
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist

    I understand why it seems to you that rationality must be timeless and unchanging, but on my more modest, deflationary account of rationality, rationality is itself part of the process of life, history, and becoming, and does not stand entirely apart from it. But yes, I do think that some norms do evolve over the course of human history — and I think that’s a good thing, because a lot of those changes have resulted in less privilege and less oppression.

    Morality grounded in cultural norms is, by definition, irrational because it is undefinable. It cannot provide any rational justification for itself. You suggest, for example, that “less privilege” and “less oppression” are “good things,” but you have no warrant for saying so. Why are they good things? Why are their opposites (tyranny, totalitarianism, elitism) bad things?

    I have a rational reason for rejecting these social practices inasmuch as they violate the objective natural moral law. You have no warrant at all. Indeed, your standard is self refuting. What happens if social norms evolve in the direction of “more privilege” and “more oppression.” Will you reverse yourself and follow the evolutionary trend, or will you go searching for yet another arbitrary standard for morality?

  49. 49
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Nullasalus and StephenB: don’t worry, I’m not a complete postmodern ironist. Just mostly.

    I have a question for you, Nullasalus — you said that for some of the figures on my list, their alternative collapses into either eliminativism or non-naturalism. Would you be willing to elaborate on what you mean by “non-naturalism,” and which of those philosophers count as slipping over into “non-naturalism,” by your lights?

  50. 50
    nullasalus says:

    I have a question for you, Nullasalus — you said that for some of the figures on my list, their alternative collapses into either eliminativism or non-naturalism. Would you be willing to elaborate on what you mean by “non-naturalism,” and which of those philosophers count as slipping over into “non-naturalism,” by your lights?

    I think we’ve gone over this before. I stand by ‘naturalism’ basically being elastic in meaning to the point of absurdity – even gods can exist now and be called ‘naturalistic’ – but here, it’s enough that it collapses into a kind of Platonic/Aristotilean take on nature.

  51. 51
    Barry Arrington says:

    StephenB @48:
    Isn’t it obvious that when KN says that “less privilege” and “less oppression” are “good things,” the only thing he means is that he, KN, personally prefers less privilege and less oppression. In fact, for KN the word “good” is a only a synonym for “that which I prefer.”

  52. 52
    StephenB says:

    Barry @51,

    Oh, yes, it is obvious that for KN, “good” is a synonym for “that which I prefer.” I have no illusions about that. As E. Michael Jones puts it, “There are ultimately two alternatives in the intellectual life: either one conforms desire to the truth or one conforms truth to desire.”

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    TA@5:

    Some time ago, I took time to lay out a mathematical frame that starts with the set that collects nothing, {}, then uses that per Zermelo Frankel to get to the natural numbers, then uses a tree based on decimals, WLOG [purists would use binary numbers], to get us the continuum. Injection of sqrt (-1) allows us to rotate, getting to space [and angles], and extending to the ijk roots of unity based vectors gets us to volume.

    Succession and location that shifts gets us to kinematics, and addition of inertia and force, to dynamics.

    Along the way, I used the space filling curve to give a visual picture on how the continuity of a space is the same as that of the Reals, making reference above [I think] to how a ball of string gives a crude approximation. By this point, instantiation can give us a virtual [computer game?] world, and the mind of God would give us a real one.

    So, the Peano curve is a useful side light.

    What is pivotal, is that we have here a frame that puts the unification of mathematics considered as the logical study of structure and quantity, in the core of our understanding of the physical cosmos. This also allows us to reflect on Wigner’s remarks on the astonishing effectiveness of mathematics in the physical sciences.

    That is, the rational unity of the world and its comprehensibility/ intelligibility on mathematics and underlying logic point per best explanation to our being in a creation of mind, the mind of One “in whom we live and move and have our being,” who “sustains all things by his world of power,” and by and for whom “all things have been made, that were made.” One who is Logos — communicative reason Himself.

    And in that context, it is very reasonable to see science as thinking the creative and sustaining thoughts of such a mind after it, to understand the rational order of Creation; the better to make wise, creative and good use of it as an expression of the stewardship of being in the image of mind.

    And yes, on such a view of things, it would make a lot of sense that we should expect to see signs that point to design as features of our world, whether the cosmos or the world of life or the life of the mind itself.

    But, on comparative difficulties analysis — i.e. yes, these are worldview level issues/claims connected to the significance of science and mathematics — we are not at all locked up in a vicious question-begging circle. Alternative views exist so difficulties can be compared across factual empirical adequacy, coherence and explanatory power and elegance as opposed to what is either simplistic or patently an ad hoc patchwork.

    For highly relevant instance, if it had turned out that the cosmos is chaotic [and so a misnomer!] then that would go hard against the concept of unifying, creative mind as its source. It doesn’t, and for decades we have had Nobel Prize holding Physicists commenting on just how astonishingly mathematics speaks to physical reality.

    Similarly, it has been possible that there are no empirically and conceptually reliable signs of design as cause. So far, the strong evidence says that there are. So, we are in our epistemic rights to appeal to such, and to point to the wider context of their significance.

    Indeed, the very existence of highly mathematical sciences as a success story on understanding our world, speaks volumes on the likelihood that a very good explanation for that would be that physical reality is a product of mind.

    All of this, we have a perfect right to look at, and to reflect on seriously and soberly.

    KF

  54. 54
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    I think that Owen Flanagan has a done a pretty good job of unpacking how ethical norms are grounded in biological norms, in his Ethics as Human Ecology. It’s problematic in places here and there, but I find it more compelling that most of the “naturalized ethics” out there these days. Flanagan sometimes lacks precision and rigor, but I think he sees deeply into the nature of philosophical problems.

    I suspect, though I haven’t worked this out in any detail, that Flanagan’s way of grounding ethical norms in biological norms could be usually synthesized with the capability approach to justice, freedom, criticisms of hierarchy and oppression, and so on.

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