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FYI-FTR, # 2: KeithS of TSZ and other objecting sites, inadvertently shows the self-referential absurdity of evolutionary materialism and its fellow traveller po-mo ideologies regarding first principles of right reason and other self-evident first truths

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We live in a post-modern [actually, ultra-modern . . . in Joe Carter’s sense of “modernity on volume level ELEVEN, not merely  ten” . . . ] world, or so we are commonly told.

In that world, it is a commonplace to hear that “Aristotelian logic” exhibits a black- and- white thinking fallacy (strawman: any shade of pink, gold or green  etc. will do as NOT-WHITE . . . ).

It is equally commonplace to see that truth and rationality are reduced in the minds of such to mere opinion, to be decided in the end by the nihilistic principle might and manipulation make ‘right.’

Red warning flag (HT: Upper Allen FD)

Which is in itself a big red warning flag.

In such a situation, those who dare to defend the classic laws of thought that pivot on there being distinct things — such as a bright red ball on a table — in the world, which for general reference we may label A, leading to  the world-partition


W = { A | NOT-A },


. . . that is:


. . . are often derided as ignorant, ill-informed and potentially dangerous, intolerant clingers to an outmoded and dead way of thinking.

(Notice, the Alinskyite ad hominem laced manipulation games of name-calling, telling ‘truth’ by the clock, stereotyping and scapegoating being resorted to by the manipulators, instead of addressing the matter cogently on its merits? Another whole series of bright red warning flags. Similarly post-/ultra-modernism is absurd, and evolutionary materialism is self-refuting and inherently amoral inviting just this sort of nihilism as we are seeing; as Plato warned against in The Laws Bk X, 2350 years ago. We cannot say we were not warned in good time about the asp we are clutching to our bosom on the notion that it has changed its ways and become a lovably gentle lamb.)

I think it is worth adding this, by William J Murray, at 537, on why all of this matters, soberingly matters (where I would rather use “accept” or “acknowledge” than “assume”):

If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

In fact, we are dealing with a case of the influence of patently erroneous but persuasive and in the end deceptive and destructive ideas in an era that is not inclined to listen to the voice and wisdom of such a one as Paul of Tarsus:

1 Cor 14:If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 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]

Reason,  knowledge, understanding of meaning, communication, self-awareness and reasonableness all depend crucially on distinctions, starting with:

{Oneself | not-Oneself = the rest of reality }

. . . or, if you will, we can start with the proverbial bright red ball on the table:


. . . or, with SB’s favourite example of a big red ball, the planet Jupiter in the sky (here after being hit by the Shoemaker-Levy Comet) as being there as opposed to not there in the same sense and circumstances — and yes, the problem is that bad:



That is, we are here talking about the fallacy of sawing off the branch on which one must sit:

[youtube RYHci_KYIT4]

Not wise.

Now, in recent days, KeithS [KS] was trying to make much of an objection that nothing is certain [–> yes, I know this is self-referential on his part], on the assumption that there was no answer, e.g. here to StephenB (and he said similar things to me, KF) at 514 in the meaningless world thread of discussion:

. . . its time for you to revisit my argument to see if you can find a flaw.

It so happened that I had decided to pause overnight and respond to the objection, which appeared as the very next post, 515. I now headline FYI-FTR:


>> the first thing to show is that KS is inherently and inescapably dependent on what he tries to evade or blunt.

Now, let us clip from 453, which he has been linking on the pretence that I have been ducking or dodging. That is itself a willful misrepresentation of what I have done, what I have stated that I have done, and why. Namely, I am insisting on addressing a foundational issue, in light of a case where he has already played misrepresentation games with a point by point refutation. And lest it be missed what I am implying, continued misrepresentation in the teeth of reasonable opportunity to be accurate and fair, is deliberate deception. Something that has a short, blunt three letter name beginning with L.

Now, I clip 453, and only for your record:

>> I presented my argument earlier in the thread. Can you identify a flaw in it?>>

1 –> First problem, to communicate at all, KS implies his conscious presence and perceptions, ability to act, etc, as certain realities. He may not be sure of just what I is as to specific nature and origins, but it is self evident to him that he is as a conscious entity. This was pointed out by SB above at 491, and of course ignored as to implications, and misrepresented as to even its existence:

keiths, please do not say that no one has found a flaw in your argument. I have found two in your number 2 formulation alone:

2. If God (or Satan, etc.) exists, then it is possible that he has the power to deceive us.

[a] While it may be logically possible for a supernatural agent to deceive us about many things, existence is not one of them. It is not logically possible to deceive someone that doesn’t exist into believing that he does exist. Thus, your argument that deception can prevent us from being certain of anything fails.

[b] Even the IF, THEN portion of your assertion assumes and depends on the Law of Non-Contradiction for its validity. IF God exists, >>>THEN he can…..” So, if you are not certain about the Law of Non-Contradiction, then you are not even certain about your own argument.

2 –> In short SB is highlighting not only technical flaws but a habitual pattern on KS’s part of disrespect for accuracy and fairness. That is, we are dealing with willful manipulation.

3 –> I also wish to extend SB’s flaw [b] a bit, as to simply post a comment or speak intelligibly, KS LIKE THE REST OF US IS DEPENDENT ON THE DISTINCT IDENTITY OF SYMBOLS AS A CERTAIN FACT. Let me illustrate from his opening words above, using ~X to mean NOT-X, and _ for space:

“I presented . . . ” –> {I | ~ I} + {_ | ~ _} + {p | ~ p} + {r | ~ r} + {e | ~ e} + {s | ~ s} + {e | ~ e} + {n | ~ n} + {t | ~ t} . . .

4 –> That is, the very act of writing and posting is critically dependent on the self evident nature of the laws of identity, non-contradiction and excluded middle, as to have a distinct identity is immediately to partition the world { A | ~ A } thus to have as immediate correlates, LOI, LNC, LEM. You simply cannot act as a communicator, without implying and accepting this, and to try to do so simply affirms the point. These are undeniable, and certain. Indeed,they are key parts of the basis of all communication and thus are necessary conditions of rationality, communication and discussion.

5 –> In addition, by speaking of “I” and “my,” KS immediately implies that he exists as a distinct, conscious entity, i.e as one with an identity and awareness of it that has power to act. If he tries to deny or obfuscate this, the proper answer is: and who is speaking? Meaningless noise on the Internet that somehow just happened to toss up what looks like a string of symbols in coherent English? (And of course, down that road lies the significance of the reality of agency with purpose and power of responsible choice, thence the capability to do that which blind chance and mechanical necessity acting on the gamut of our solar system or the observed cosmos, is not credibly able to do as an observable output. Thence the whole project of intelligent design that KS and others of like ilk are so desperate to dismiss.)

>>In the hopes of making some progress in this thread, let me lay out my argument systematically, with numbered statements, so that it will be easier for people to specify exactly what they disagree with and why.>>

6 –> We see here of course the first point, of using distinct symbols, but also the use of language I have highlighted that underscores the inescapable reality of conscious agency as self evident, and as accepted. If KS wishes to disagree, we can say what has capability to disagree? Noise?

>>1. It’s possible that God exists. (or Satan, or demons, etc.)>>

The fire tetrahedron, a paradigm of causal dependency on enabling causal factors. F (HT: Wiki)

7 –> This already ducks a major issue, rooted in the principle of sufficient reason [that if A exists we may ask and seek/expect a reasonable answer as to why] and the logic of cause and effect, specifically the nature of enabling causal factors such as the heat, fuel, oxidiser and chain reaction. Namely, contingency vs necessity and possibility of being.

8 –> That is, if something A has a beginning or is otherwise contingent, it has at least one enabling on/off causal factor, let us call it F. Should F be OFF, A will not begin, or will cease from being. However, that raises the issue that there may be beings that have no such factors, F. Serious candidates to be such beings will be one of two things: impossible due to having core attributes that are incompatible (like a square circle), or possible and if possible, they will have nothing to block existence, they will be actual, and without either beginning nor end. As a simple example, the asserted truth in 2 + 3 = 5, is an example, as is the number 2 used therein: these did not begin, nor can they cease from being [they are eternal], they are not caused and they are not dependent on an external reality for their existence.

9 –> God, is plainly a serious candidate to be a necessary being [as, e.g. by definition God would be eternal as a core characteristic . . . ], so immediately, if God is possible, he is ACTUAL. That means that to sustain his evolutionary materialism KS has the burden of proof — oops he denies the possibility of pure undiluted untainted certainty — to show that God is impossible.

10 –> So we see that by ducking first principles of right reason and the like, KS is already off on a red herring tangent at worldviews level, and is failing to shoulder the atheist’s burden of proof.

>> 2. If God (or Satan, etc.) exists, then it is possible that he has the power to deceive us.>>

11 –> It is not insignificant to see here the voice of the snake in the garden, challenging the integrity of God by association of God with deception.

12 –> We have already highlighted the flaws in this assertion, let me clip SB again:

a] While it may be logically possible for a supernatural agent to deceive us about many things, existence is not one of them. It is not logically possible to deceive someone that doesn’t exist into believing that he does exist. Thus, your argument that deception can prevent us from being certain of anything fails.

>>3. If he has the power to deceive us, then he might be exercising that power at any particular time.

4. Being human, we cannot reliably determine when he is deceiving us and when he isn’t.

5. Any particular thought we have might coincide with a time when God/Satan/the demon is deceiving us.>>

13 –> The voice of the snake in the garden continues. And in continuing, distracts our attention from the prior point that conscious self awareness is not something that we can be deceived about. We may be mistaken as to what we are but we are self evidently self aware and hold the identity “I.”

14 –> KS’s argument pivots on refusing to face the implications of that little word, “I” or the words like “we,” self evident self awareness of whatever nature. It matters not that we may be brains in vats stimulated electrically, or prisoners in Plato’s Cave fed on shadow shows confused for external reality, we are aware of ourselves and that is self evidently, undeniably real. If one pretends to be uncertain of that, then one is to be asked: and who is it that is doubting, molecular noise?

>>6. Thus, any particular thought might be mistaken.>>

15 –> Here, KS ducks the other major self evident truth that has been presented as demonstrating absolute certain knowledge and truth, the Royce proposition, E: Error exists. That is, he is here begging the question by making a dubious assertion in the teeth of decisive counter examples presented to him oftentimes and consistently brushed aside or ignored and/or willfully misrepresented. (His latest talking point is that such are cases of “spam.”)

16 –> Let us hold fire for a moment on the issue, and follow how refusing to face the self evident character of E is a red herring chase led away to a strawman set alight to cloud and confuse the issue:

>>7. If we claim to be absolutely certain of something that isn’t true, we have erred.

8. Therefore we should never claim absolute certainty for a thought that might be mistaken.>>

17 –> “We” again, symbols in train dependent on distinct identity again, and of course begging the question of E.

18 –> In addition, we see the “Therefore,” which is saying in effect p => q, p, so q. But the logic of implication is critically dependent on the self evident nature of the identity cluster and particularly non-contradiction. While we may debate the details of implication and extensions beyond mere material presentation, p => q at minimum entails [NOT- (p AND ~ q)]. That is when an implication is present, P is sufficient for q, so that we cannot have p true and q false. Also, we cannot have q false and p true. Without LNC there, this whole possibility falls apart. That is the view in question is literally irrational or even anti-rational, and undermines the possibility of proof itself.

19 –> However, we must return to the issue of E. Let me cite again the chain of argument that KS has tried to reject as “spam,” which turns out to be absolutely pivotal to the whole matter:


>> consider Josiah Royce’s subtle but simple claim: error exists.

To try to deny it only ends up giving an instance of its truth; it is undeniably true.

Let’s zoom in a bit (using mostly glorified common sense “deduction” and a light dusting of symbols), as this will help us understand the roots of reasoning and reasonableness. As we have stressed, this is back to roots, back to sources, back to foundations. So, in steps of thought:

1: Let us take up, Royce’s Error exists, and symbolise it: E. (Where the denial would be NOT-E, ~E. Error does not exist, in plain English.)

2: Attempt a conjunction: { E AND ~E }

3: We have here mutually exclusive, opposed and exhaustive claims that address the real world joined together in a way that tries to say both are so.

4: Common sense, based on wide experience and our sense of how things are and can or cannot be — to be further analysed below, yielding three key first principles of right reason — tells us that, instead:

(a) this conjunction { E AND ~E } must be false (so that the CONJUNCTION is a definite case of an error), and that

(b) its falsity being relevant to one of the claims,

(c) we may readily identify that the false one is ~E. Which means:


(d) E is true and is undeniably true. (On pain of a breach of common sense.)

5: So, E is true, is known to be true once we understand it and is undeniably true on pain of patent — obvious, hard to deny — self contradiction. [ –> Let’s add, to make it even plainer: to say in effect that it is an error to say “error exists” necessarily implies that error exists.]

6: It is therefore self evident.

7: It is warranted as reliably true, indeed to demonstrative certainty.

8: Where, E refers to the real world of things as such.

9: It is a case of absolute, objective, certainly known truth; a case of certain knowledge. “Justified, true belief,” nothing less.

10: It is also a matter of widely observed fact — starting with our first school exercises with sums and visions of red X’s — confirming the accuracy of a particular consensus of experience.

11: So, here we have a certainly known case of truth existing as that which accurately refers to reality.

12: Also, a case of knowledge existing as warranted, credibly true beliefs, in this case to certainty.

13: Our ability to access truth and knowledge about the real, extra-mental world by experience, reasoning and observation is confirmed in at least one pivotal case.

14: Contemporary worldviews — their name is Legion — that would deny, deride or dismiss such [including the point that there are such things as self evident truths that relate to the real world], are thence shown to be factually inadequate and incoherent. They are unable to explain reality.

15: Such worldviews are, as a bloc, falsified by this one key point. They are unreasonable. (And yes, I know this may be hard to accept, but if your favoured system contradicts soundly established facts and/or truths, it is seriously defective.)

16: Of course the truth in question is particularly humbling and a warning on the limits of our knowledge and the gap between belief and truth or even ability to formulate a logical assertion and truth.

17: So, we need to be humble, and — contrary to assertions about how insisting on such objectivity manifests “arrogance” and potentially oppressive “intolerance” – the first principles of right reason (implicit in the above, to be drawn out below) allow us to humbly, honestly test our views so that we can identify when we have gone off the rails and to in at least some cases confirm when our confidence is well grounded.

So — while we can be mistaken about it — truth exists and we can in some cases confidently know it on pain of absurdity if we try to deny it. In particular, it is well warranted and credibly true beyond reasonable doubt or dispute that error exists. Truth therefore exists, and knowledge — i.e. the set of warranted, credibly true [and reliable] claims — also exists. (As noted already, but it bears repeating as it is hard for some to accept: this cuts a wide swath across many commonly encountered worldview ideas of our time; such as, the idea that there is no truth beyond what seems true to you or me, or that we cannot know the truth on important matters beyond conflicting opinions.) >>

>> 9. Since any particular thought might be mistaken (by #6), we should never claim absolute certainty for any thought.>>

20 –> But, 6 begs the question and dodges the self evident, undeniable truth that error exists. It therefore falls to the ground. 7, 8, 9 being dependent on question-begging, they also fall with it.

21 –> the argument fails, but predictably KS will not be willing to acknowledge the fact, indeed he will almost certainly try to pretend that this is irrelevant to answering the question, and may dismiss it as spamming. How do I know that? He has already done so on another matter.

>>Note that this argument can also be made simply by appealing to the imperfection of human cognition, but it’s more fun this way.>>

22 –> The argument has failed, actually from the outset:

“I presented . . . ” –> {I | ~ I} + {_ | ~ _} + {p | ~ p} + {r | ~ r} + {e | ~ e} + {s | ~ s} + {e | ~ e} + {n | ~ n} + {t | ~ t} . . .

>>Also note that the argument applies to atheists and theists equally. Atheists don’t think there is a God, of course, but it is still possible that there is a God, and possibility is all that is necessary for the argument to work.>>

23 –> KS has ducked the implications of the possibility of God’s existence, and he has failed to present a sound argument.

24 –> that will not prevent him from trying to embroil us in a rhetorical crocodile death roll of going in circles of contention over and over again. However, we need only ask him, WHO is speaking, as the very existence of an I to speak, is a case of self evident truth about which we cannot be mistaken. let me agsain cite SB on this point:

a] While it may be logically possible for a supernatural agent to deceive us about many things, existence is not one of them. It is not logically possible to deceive someone that doesn’t exist into believing that he does exist. Thus, your argument that deception can prevent us from being certain of anything fails.

25 –> One last point: once there is ANY self-evidently true statement, there is a case of absolutely certain truth and absolutely certain knowledge. Thus, to show such a case (or even just to try) is directly and fully relevant to overturning by counter example, any assertion that such are impossible or do not exist.

26 –> Therefore, when KS above tried to pretend that laying out such direct cases and showing why they are demonstrations of what he wants to pretend cannot be or is not, was distractive spamming, he was being not only rude but wrong. Wrong in a way that he as an educated person must know is so: a universal negative claim is shown false by just one counter example. He was being willfully misleading in the cause of continued misrepresentation to advance an ideology that is demonstrably incoherent and irrational.

27 –> In short, KS is already in a situation of refusing to attend to cogent correction of his errors. On track record, this will — sadly — predictably continue.>>


Of course, as predicted, KS could not resist trying to dismiss, and did so on the notion that we were begging the question that logic is valid.

So, I went on to answer this overnight at 532:


>> Re KS:

Every objection you raise in your comment, every counterargument you make, depends on logic.

If we could be absolutely certain that the rules of logic were correct, and that you are applying them infallibly, and that your assumptions were absolutely correct, then we could be absolutely certain of your conclusions . . .

Just the opposite is the case.

Every step in KS’ attempted rebuttal depends on:

1: that he is a self-aware and other-aware conscious entity as incorrigibly true

2: That starting with the identity of himself, there is a whole series of world-partitions, e.g. { “I” (= KS) | NOT-I } and the direct correlates of this, i.e. LOI, LNC, LEM. Using A as symbol:

(a) LOI: the part labelled A will be A (symbolically, [A => A] = 1),

(b) LNC: A will not be the same as NOT-A ( [A AND NOT-A] = 0); and

(c) LEM: there is no third option to being A or NOT-A ( [A OR NOT-A] = 1). For those who need it, to be clearer about the significance of the dichotomy in World, W = { A | NOT-A }, let’s instead explicitly use the Exclusive OR, AUT not VEL: [A Ex-OR NOT-A] = 1. That is A, or not A but not a third option such as A AND NOT-A, and no fourth such as neither A nor NOT-A.

3: In short, it is not so much that I (KF) have been silly and begged the question of the validity of logic, but that it is truly fundamental, so that one cannot make a first step as a conscious entity without standing on it.

4: KS essays to saw off the branch on which he too must sit, and so clings to absurdity. We are simply telling him and his ilk, stop the madness!

5: Similarly, we have a perfect right to demand of the [potentially . . . it holds that nothing is certain beyond opinion] delusional entity imagining itself to be KS, whence the status of being aware, and whether this is something that one CAN be deluded of. The answer is patent, that one may be deluded as to WHAT one is, but cannot be deluded THAT one is, once one has self awareness. From which world-partition and its correlates immediately are evident and intelligible.

6: It is no accident that KS dodges this, in order to try to fixate on the alleged uncertainty of first principles of right reason. The very fact of his being as a self aware entity manifests the truly foundational nature of world partition, thus those attributes of it that we justly label the first laws of thought. We discover such, we see they are so and must be so in order that we can even have a distinct identity as going concerns, and we see the saw off the branch on which we all must sit self-referential absurdity of those who would challenge the laws.

7: Indeed, just to cast up an objection, KS inevitably depends on those same laws he would scant. He is forced to use verbal symbols, here in textual form. So, immediately, as was highlighted in the corrective — and which, as predicted, was conveniently ignored by KS — he depends on the distinction of symbols, thus a whole series of world partitions:

Every objection –> {E | ~E} + {v | ~v} + e {e | ~e} . . .

8: Likewise, if we ponder a moment, we will see that KS is implying that he accepts the reality, thus the possibility of error, no surprise he doubtless received his fair share of sums returned by a teacher, full of red X’s. Thus, he is also ducking the undeniability that error exists. Indeed, the absurdity here can be seen by casting the denial of the Royce proposition in these terms: “It is an error to imagine that error exists.” Oops.

9: KS’s objection collapses in absurdity, just as will be true of any attempt to deny a genuinely self-evident truth.

I took time to address this to simply underscore that we discover the pivotal self-evident truths, we do not prove them, and inasmuch as the first principles of right reason are embedded in these, the demand for proof reveals itself as a demand to prove that proof exists. Yet another absurdity.

I have forgotten now who was the Greek thinker challenged by a member of his audience to prove the reality of logical proof. His reply was, that this exercise would require the use of that very same logic.

At this level, logic is discovered, is found to be foundational, and is respected as such — at least by those able to see that it is not a wise move to saw off the branch on which one must sit, or to pluck out the eyes by which one must look.

So, as with other worldview foundational points, we come to the identity cluster as common sense going concerns, and we learn to respect rather than complain against the constitution of ourselves and our world.

That, to cling to his scheme of thought, KS must saw off the branch on which we all must sit, and pluck out the eyes by which we all must see is the surest sign of the absurdity of his stance.

So, finally, let us ask: WHO is objecting?

If KS cannot acknowledge that he is a distinct, incorrigibly self-aware entity, then he has no status to speak. Where, just the distinctness of I (a first fact for each of us if there ever was one), immediately brings out the correlates of world partition.

Clinging to an absurdity that demands rejection of first facts and principles is not a healthy sign, but such seems to be the nature of today’s post modern evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers.

Sad, and sadly revealing.>>


Let this serve as a clear marker on the sort of reduction to absurdity we are seeing today. END

PS: This is headlined FYI-FTR, if you want to comment further, go to the thread from here on.