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Q: “What does the design theory debate have to do with the law of non-contradiction (LNC)?” A: “A lot!”

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The latest flare-ups in the debates over design theory in and around UD have pivoted on the Law of non-contradiction; one of the most debated classical principles of logic.

Why on earth is that so?

The simple short answer is: if we are to make progress in debates and discussions, we must be at minimum agreed on being reasonable and rational.

In more details, LNC is one of a cluster of first principles of right reason that are pivotal to core rationality, and for years now, debates over design theory issues have often tracked back to a peculiar characteristic of the evolutionary materialist worldview: it tends strongly to reject the key laws of thought, especially, identity, excluded middle and non-contradiction, with the principle of sufficient reason (the root of the principle of causality) coming up close behind.

What is sadly ironic about all of this, is that hose who would overthrow such first principles of right reason do not see that they are sawing off the branch on which we must all sit, if we are to be rational.

Why do I say this?

Let me first excerpt a discussion on building worldviews, as I recently appended to a discussion on quantum mechanics used to try to dismiss the law of non-contradiction:

____________

>>. . . though it is quite unfashionable to seriously say such nowadays (an indictment of our times . . .), to try to deny the classic three basic principles of right reason — the law of identity, that of non-contradiction, and that of the excluded middle — inevitably ends up in absurdity.

For, to think at all, we must be able to distinguish things (or else all would be confusion and chaos), and these laws immediately follow from that first act of thought.

A diagram showing the world split into two distinct labelled parts, A and NOT-A, will help us see how naturally this happens:

Laws of logic in action as glorified common-sense first principles of right reason

If at a given moment we distinctly identify and label some thing, A — say, a bright red ball on a table — we mark a mental border-line and also necessarily identify NOT-A as “the rest of the World.” We thus have a definite separation of the World into two parts, and it immediately and undeniably holds that:

(a) the part labelled A will be A (symbolically, [A => A] = 1),
(b) A will not be the same as NOT-A ( [A AND NOT-A] = 0); and
(c) there is no third option to being A or NOT-A ( [A OR NOT-A] = 1).

So, we see how naturally the laws of (a) identity, (b) non-contradiction (or, non-confusion!), and (c) the excluded middle swing into action. This naturalness also extends to the world of statements that assert that something is true or false, as we may see from Aristotle’s classic remark in his Metaphysics 1011b (loading the 1933 English translation):

. . .   if it is impossible at the same time to affirm and deny a thing truly, it is also impossible for contraries to apply to a thing at the same time; either both must apply in a modified sense, or one in a modified sense and the other absolutely.

Nor indeed can there be any intermediate between contrary statements, but of one thing we must either assert or deny one thing, whatever it may be. This will be plain if we first define truth and falsehood. To say that what is is not, or that what is not is, is false; but to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true; and therefore also he who says that a thing is or is not will say either what is true or what is false. [Emphases added]

So, we can state the laws in more or less traditional terms:

[a] A thing, A, is what it is (the law of identity);
[b] A thing, A, cannot at once be and not-be (the law of non-contradiction);
[c] A thing, A, is or it is not, but not both or neither (the law of the excluded middle).

In short, the diagram helps take the “mystery” out of the laws, showing us why they make sense. [Cf. responses to objections  here.]  In 1011b, too, Ari gives us a bonus, by aptly defining truth:  to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true.(As a note for logicians: we are here specifically speaking with reference to the experienced world of credibly real things, so extensions to empty-set contexts in which questions over contrasted empty sets — that is, quite literally: no-thing –  arise, are irrelevant for the moment. That is, we deal here with the classic square of opposition. Then, once we see what follows from dealing with a world of real categories with at least one member each, we may then extend to the case of empty sets and see how much of a difference this possibility makes.)A fourth key law of sound thought is the principle of sufficient reason , which enfolds  the principle of cause and effect. Schopenhauer in his Manuscript Remains, Vol. 4, notes that: Of everything that is, it can be found why it is.”The fire tetrahedron (an extension of the classic fire triangle) is a helpful case to study briefly:

The fire tetrahedron as a model of cause, with a cluster of four necessary, and jointly sufficient causal factors

For a fire to begin or to continue, we need (1) fuel, (2) heat, (3) an oxidiser [usually oxygen] and (4) an un- interfered- with heat-generating chain reaction mechanism. (For, Halon fire extinguishers work by breaking up the chain reaction.) Each of the four factors is necessary for, and the set of four are jointly sufficient to begin and sustain a fire. We thus see four contributory factors, each of which is necessary [knock it out and you block or kill the fire], and together they are sufficient for the fire.

We thus see the principle of cause and effect. That is,

[d] if something has a beginning or may cease from being — i.e. it is contingent — it has a cause.

Common-sense rationality, decision-making and science alike are founded on this principle of right reason: if an event happens, why — and, how? If something begins or ceases to exist, why and how? If something is sustained in existence, what factors contribute to, promote or constrain that effect or process, how? The answers to these questions are causes.

Without the reality behind the concept of cause the very idea of laws of nature would make no sense: events would happen anywhere, anytime, with no intelligible reason or constraint.
As a direct result, neither rationality nor responsibility would be possible; all would be a confused, unintelligible, unpredictable, uncontrollable chaos. Also, since it often comes up, yes: a necessary causal factor is a causal factor — if there is no fuel, the car cannot go because there is no energy source for the engine. Similarly, without an unstable nucleus or particle, there can be no radioactive decay and without a photon of sufficient energy, there can be no photo-electric emission of electrons: that is, contrary to a common error, quantum mechanical events or effects, strictly speaking, are not cause-less.
(By the way, the concept of a miracle — something out of the ordinary that is a sign that points to a cause beyond the natural order — in fact depends on there being such a general order in the world. In an unintelligible chaos, there can be no extra-ordinary signposts, as nothing will be ordinary or regular!)

However, there is a subtle facet to this, one that brings out the other side of  the principle of sufficient reason. Namely, that there is a possible class of being that does not have a beginning, and cannot go out of existence; such are self-sufficient, have no external necessary causal factors, and as such cannot be blocked from existing. And it is commonly held that once there is a serious candidate to be such a necessary being, if the candidate is not contradictory in itself [i.e. if it is not impossible], it will be actual.

Or, we could arrive at effectively the same point another way, one which brings out what it means to be a serious candidate to be a necessary being:

If a thing does not exist it is either that it could, but just doesn’t happen to exist, or that it cannot exist because it is a conceptual contradiction, such as square circles, or round triangles and so on. Therefore, if it does exist, it is either that it exists contingently or that it is not contingent but exists necessarily (that is it could not fail to exist without contradiction). [–> The truth reported in “2 + 3 = 5” is a simple case in point; it could not fail without self-contradiction.] These are the four most basic modes of being and cannot be denied . . . the four modes are the basic logical deductions about the nature of existence.

That is, since there is no external necessary causal factor, such a being — if it is so — will exist without a beginning, and cannot cease from existing as one cannot “switch off” a sustaining external factor. Another possibility of course is that such a being is impossible: it cannot be so as there is the sort of contradiction involved in being a proposed square circle. So, we have candidates to be necessary beings that may not be possible on pain of contradiction, or else that may not be impossible, equally on pain of contradiction.

In addition, since matter as we know it is contingent, such a being will not be material. The likely candidates are: abstract, necessarily true propositions and an eternal mind, often brought together by suggesting that such truths are held in such a mind.

Strange thoughts, perhaps, but not absurd ones.

So also, if we live in a cosmos that (as the cosmologists tell us) seems — on the cumulative balance of evidence — to have had a beginning, then it too is credibly caused. The sheer undeniable actuality of our cosmos then points to the principle that from a genuine nothing — not matter, not energy, not space, not time, not mind etc. — nothing will come. So then, if we can see things that credibly have had a beginning or may come to an end; in a cosmos of like character, we reasonably and even confidently infer that a necessary being is the ultimate, root-cause of our world; even through suggestions such as a multiverse (which would simply multiply the contingent beings) . . . >>

____________

[Added, Feb 21:] Let us boil this down to a summary list of six first principles of right reason in a form we could write out on the back of the proverbial envelope, with a little help from SB:

{{Consider the world:

|| . . . ||

Identify some definite A in it:

|| . . . (A) . . . NOT-A (the rest of the world) . . . ||

Now, let us analyse:

[1] A thing, A, is what it is (the law of identity);

[2] A thing, A, cannot at once be and not-be (the law of non-contradiction). It is worth clipping Wiki’s cites against known interest from Aristotle in Metaphysics, as SB has done above:

1. ontological*: “It is impossible that the same thing belong and not belong to the same thing at the same time and in the same respect.” (1005b19-20)

[*NB: Ontology, per Am HD etc, is “The branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being,” and the ontological form of the claim is talking about that which really exists or may really exist. Truth is the bridge between the world of thoughts and perceptions and that of external reality: truth says that what is is, and what is not is not.]

2. psychological: “No one can believe that the same thing can (at the same time) be and not be.” (1005b23-24)

3. logical: “The most certain of all basic principles is that contradictory propositions are not true simultaneously.” (1011b13-14)

[3] A thing, A, is or it is not, but not both or neither (the law of the excluded middle).

[4] “to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true.” (Aristotle, on what truth is)

[5] “Of everything that is, it can be found why it is.” (Principle of sufficient Reason, per Schopenhauer.)

[6] If something has a beginning or may cease from being — i.e. it is contingent — it has a cause.* (Principle of causality, a direct derivative of 5)
_________

*F/N: Principles 5 & 6 point to the possibility of necessary, non contingent beings, e.g. the truth in 2 + 3 = 5 did not have a beginning, cannot come to an end, and is not the product of a cause, it is an eternal reality. The most significant candidate necessary being is an eternal Mind. Indeed, down this road lies a path to inferring and arguably warranting the existence of God as architect, designer and maker — thus, creator — of the cosmos. (Cf Plato’s early argument along such lines, here.)}}

It would seem that the matter is obvious at this point.

Indeed, as UD’s blog owner cited yesterday from Wikipedia, testifying against known predominant ideological interest:

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

The article (which seems to have been around since about 2004) goes on to say:

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

Schopenhauer sums up aptly:

The laws of thought can be most intelligibly expressed thus:

  1. Everything that is, exists.
  2. Nothing can simultaneously be and not be.
  3. Each and every thing either is or is not.
  4. Of everything that is, it can be found why it is.

There would then have to be added only the fact that once for all in logic the question is about what is thought and hence about concepts and not about real things.  [Manuscript Remains, Vol. 4, “Pandectae II,” §163. NB: Of course, the bridge from the world of thought to the world of experienced reality is that we do live in a real world that we can think truly about. Going further, there are things about that world that are self-evidently true, starting with Josiah Royce’s “Error exists.”]

And again:

Through a reflection, which I might call a self-examination of the faculty of reason, we know that these judgments are the expression of the conditions of all thought and therefore have these as their ground. Thus by making vain attempts to think in opposition to these laws, the faculty of reason recognizes them as the conditions of the possibility of all thought. We then find that it is just as impossible to think in opposition to them as it is to move our limbs in a direction contrary to their joints. If the subject could know itself, we should know those laws immediately, and not first through experiments on objects, that is, representations (mental images). [On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, §33.]

Similarly, Lord Russell states:

1. Law of identity: “Whatever is, is.”

2. Law of noncontradiction: “Nothing can both be and not be.”

3. Law of excluded middle: “Everything must either be or not be.”

(The Problems of Philosophy, p. 72)

The matter should be clear enough, and simple enough.

Sadly, it is not. There are some who would now say, of course you can define a logical world in which this is an axiom and by definition be true but that has nothing to do with reality.

That is why I had to further respond this morning:

____________

>>Let us start with a basic point, as can be seen in the discussion here on in context: the first step in serious thinking about anything, is to make relevant distinctions, so for each such case we divide the world into A and not-A.

(Notice the example of a bright red ball on a table. Or, you can take: Me and not-Me, etc etc. It helps to start with the concrete and obvious so keep that nice red ball you got when you were say 6 months old in mind.)

Once there is a clear distinction, the relevant laws of thought follow directly, let’s illustrate:

World: || . . . ||

On identifying a distinct thing, (A), we distinguish:

|| (A) . . . NOT-A . . . ||

From this seemingly simple and commonsensical act of marking a distinction with a sharp border so to speak, the following follows, once A is indeed identifiably distinct at a given time and place under given circumstances:

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

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

(c) there is no third option to being A or NOT-A ( [A OR NOT-A] = 1).

Or, in broader terms:

[a] A thing, A, is what it is (the law of identity);

[b] A thing, A, cannot at once be and not-be (the law of non-contradiction);

[c] A thing, A, is or it is not, but not both or neither (the law of the excluded middle).

And since there is a tendency to use classical quotes, let me cite one, from Paul of Tarsus, on the significance of all this, even for the very act of speech, the basis for reasoned, verbalised thought:

1 Cor 14:6 Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church . . .

In short, the very act of intelligible communication pivots on precisely the ability to mark relevant distinctions. Indeed, the ASCII code we use for text tells us one English language alphanumeric character encodes answers to seven yes/no questions, why it takes up seven bits. (The eighth is a check-sum, useful to say reasonably confident that this is accurately transmitted, but that is secondary.)

So, let us get it deep into our bones: so soon as we are communicating or calculating using symbols, textual or aural, we are relying on the oh so often spoken against laws of thought. This BTW, is why I have repeatedly pointed out how when theoretical physicists make the traditional scratches on the proverbial chalk board, these principles are deeply embedded in the whole process.

These are not arbitrary mathematical conventions that can be made into axioms as we please, they are foundational to the very act of communication involved in writing or speaking about such things.

Beyond that all the attempts to wander over this and that result of science in a desperate attempt to deny or dismiss actually rely on what they would dismiss. They refute themselves through self-referential incoherence.

For instance, just now, someone has trotted out virtual particles.

Is this a distinct concept? Can something be and not be a virtual particle under the same circumstances?

If so, the suggested concept is simply confused (try, a square circle or a triangle with six corners); back to the drawing-board.

(But of course there are effects that are traced to their action, so they seem to have reality as entities acting in our world below the Einstein energy-time threshold of uncertainty. The process that leads us to that conclusion is riddled with the need to mark distinctions, and to recognise that distinctions mark distinct things.)

And, BTW, we can extend to the next level. The number represented by the numeral, 2, is real, but it is not itself a physical entity; it just constrains physical entities such that something with twoness in it can be split exactly by the half into equal piles.

Similarly, the truth asserted in the symbolised statement: 2 + 3 = 5 constrains physical reality, but is not itself a material reality built up of atoms or the like. All the way on to 1 + e^pi*i = 0, etc; thence the “unreasonable: effectiveness of ever so much of mathematics in understanding how the physical world works. That is, we have a real, abstract world that can even specify mathematical laws that specify what happens and what will not happen. Even, reliably.

All of this pivots on the significance of marking distinctions.

So, those who seek so desperately to dismiss the first principles of right reason, saw off the branch on which they must sit.

It is a sad reflection on our times, that we so often find it hard to see this.

I know, I know: “But, that’s DIFFERENT!” (I am quoting someone caught up in a cultic system, in response to correcting a logical error.)

No. It is NOT actually different, but if we are enmeshed in systems that make us think errors are true, the truth will — to us — seem to be wrong.

Which is part of why en-darkening errors are ever so entangling.

It takes time and effort for a critical mass of corrections to reach breaking point and suddenly we see things another way. In that process, empirical cases are crucial.

But, there is another relevant saying: experience is a very good teacher, but his fees are very dear. Alas for fools, they will learn from no other.

Sadly, there are yet worse fools who will not even learn from experience, no matter how painful.

But then; it is ever so for those bewitched by clever, but unsound, schemes.

I hope that a light is beginning to dawn.>>

____________

Now, it will come as no surprise to see that I come down on the therapeutic side not the litmus test side of the issue of using the LNC as a test of rationality and fitness to discuss matters.

That is, I hold that this particular confusion is so commonplace that the key issue is to help those enmeshed, recognising that this is going to take time and effort. In that context, it is the specifically, persistently and willfully disruptive, disrespectful, deceitful and uncivil who should face disciplinary action for cause; in defence of a civil forum where important ideas can be discussed civilly. For contrasts on why that is necessary, cf YouTube and the penumbra of anti-ID sites.

Having said that, what is on the table now is rationality itself.

That is how bad things are with our civilisation at the hands of its own intellectual elites.

Do you see why I speak of a civilisation facing mortal danger and all but fatally confused in the face of such peril?

And of course the weapon of choice for the willful confus-ers is to get us to swallow an absurdity. That guarantees loss of ability to discern true from false, sound from unsound, right from wrong. Then, also, when we are told the truth, because we have been led to believe a lie, we will often resist the truth for it will seem to be obviously false.

No wonder, the prophet Isaiah thundered out, nigh on 2800 years ago:

Isa 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.

 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
and clever in their own sight . . .

We would do well to heed these grim words of warning, before it is too late for our civilisation. END

F/N: For those puzzling over issues raised in the name of quantum theory or the like, I suggest you go here for a first examination.

Comments
K: There are several cosmological fine tuning cases [many of which stand or fall separately from one another but form a cumulative case like mutually supportive stands of a rope of reasoning, not a chain that is no stronger than its weakest link . . . ], and the privileged planet hypothesis is just one of these. Actually, several. And, you will see that in the linked, I emphasise something that stands apart from the usual list of points. Namely, the cosmological significance of water and the first four elements in abundance, H, He, O, C. Add N more or less the fifth element and we have reached proteins, fats, carbohydrates etc in aqueous medium. But this is an off-topic, requested clarifying footnote, not an invite to a separate discussion in a vitally important thread. If you want or need more ask me to post a new thread on that. KFkairosfocus
February 21, 2012
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Hello kf, I see you linked to the ID foundations post regarding cosmological fine tuning. If i may ask, what is the difference between the cosmological fine tuning hypothesis and the privileged planet hypothesis? Is the latter a special case or subset of the former or does it stand separately?kuartus
February 21, 2012
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F/N: I skimmed the thread and OP that Aleta has now repeatedly linked. I can see that from the outset they are making the little error at the beginning that Adler has highlighted, and which is discussed in more details here: failing to recognise the reality of self-evident truths of right reason, and in particular the first principles of right reason. For instance, in the OP, Dr Liddle remarks:
They are indeed axiomatic - in other words, they are axioms on which a certain form of logic is based. Now I'm no logician, but I am capable of seeing that if we assume those axioms are true, we can construct a logical language in which useful conclusions can be drawn, and useful computations performed. But there are some propositions that simply are not possible in that language, because those axioms themselves are based on more fundamental assumption: that we know what an "object" is; that we know what "time" is - in other words, that we know what "is" is . . .
Let me clip Wikipedia, speaking against its known ideological interest:
In epistemology (theory of knowledge), a self-evident proposition is one that is known to be true by understanding its meaning without proof. Some epistemologists deny that any proposition can be self-evident. For most others, the belief that oneself is conscious is offered as an example of self-evidence. However, one’s belief that someone else is conscious is not epistemically self-evident . . . . A self-evident proposition cannot be denied without knowing that one contradicts oneself (provided one actually understands the proposition). An analytic proposition cannot be denied without a contradiction, but one may fail to know that there is a contradiction because it may be a contradiction that can be found only by a long and abstruse line of logical or mathematical reasoning. Most analytic propositions are very far from self-evident. Similarly, a self-evident proposition need not be analytic: my knowledge that I am conscious is self-evident but not analytic . . . . For those who admit the existence [i.e. reality] of abstract concepts, the class of non-analytic self-evident truths can be regarded as truths of the understanding–truths revealing connections between the meanings of ideas.
That is, a self-evident truth is one that -- providing we understand what is being said in light of our undeniable (and self-referential) experience of the world as intelligent, language-using, knowing and communicating creatures -- we see is so, and that it MUST be so, on pain of obvious absurdity if we try to deny it. That is, these are foundational truths that we know or should know are so and must be so. So, to willfully reject such a truth is to implant an absurdity in the heart of our reasoning, and to open ourselves up to that en-darkenment of heart and mind that leads us to reject truth because we have swallowed an error. The reality of such truths is too often disputed, so let us give a key case, Warranted Credible Truth no 1, per Josiah Royce via Elton Trueblood: error exists. This is of course an all too familiar and universally accepted truth. That's why we have arguments over what is correct! But there is a subtler and highly instructive side to it: it is UNDENIABLY true, on pain of self-referential absurdity. That is, if we try to deny that error exists, as a test, we immediately have a choice of which of two claims is in error: (a) that error exists, or (b) that error does not exist. One of these must be in error, on the common sense understanding that even philosophers must respect. And obviously, the correct one is (a), as it affirms what we have seen is undeniably so: error exists. Now, that looks trivial, doesn't it? NOT. WCT 1 implies that truth exists, and undeniably true truth exists. Warranted credible truth -- knowledge -- exists. So, those who wold dismiss the reality of truth, or the know-ability of truth beyond seeming true to me or you, etc, are in error. This actually cuts a wide swath across many popular worldview level opinions: radical relativism and its many friends and kissing cousins. In addition, "error" is not a tangible reality: we cannot touch error as such, though we may see cases of error. Just like we cannot touch two as such though we may touch glyphs that represent it and illustrate with concrete cases. Reality is not to be conflated with physicality; and indeed it is precisely because mathematics often captures logical, abstract facets of reality, that we so often see its awesome power in science, engineering and even day to day life. Going further, we have in hand a case where we can see for ourselves that axioms are not always arbitrary and merely evaluated on being useful. Some axioms are warranted and credible as self-evident truths. So, the notion that we are free to select whatever axioms we want and then just look to see if it works well enough to be useful, crashes to the ground in flames. For, there are what Aristotle identified as the most certain of all truths, truths that are certain and know-able to all on pain of patent self-referential absurdity. It so happens that he first principles of right reason belong to exactly that category of truths. Now of course, one of the points that are being disputed is that: "we know what an "object" is; that we know what "time" is - in other words, that we know what "is" is . . ." This actually inadvertently shows what is at stake here: if we reject the first principles of right reason, our ability to communicate itself disintegrates into a chaos. (So, apply Kant's Categorical Imperative here . . . ) But in fact, we premise our whole structure of knowledge on the undeniable self-referential and in-common common sense facts of human existence, which includes that we can and do communicate using language and keystone concepts such as our ability to answer to who or what [objects], to when [time] and to existence or non existence [is]. Or else, who is speaking, what does s/he say, and about what, when, where, and how accurately, how well warranted, evaporate in a chaos of confusion and contention. In short, we are patently seeing absurdity piled upon absurdity here. But of course, the underlying question on the issue being touted is that such words defy precising definitions that state necessary and sufficient conditions that infallibly tell us what they mean and/or operations that we can use to observe or measure them, etc. And, a selectively hyperskeptical voice can have great fun making such efforts at definition seem ridiculous. The only problem is that the process of making or challenging such definitions alike would depend on the common sense recognition of what these things mean. That is the one pushing such skeptical talking points is being self-referentially incoherent. So, are we locked into a circle of confusion and begged questions, with knowledge and reason themselves evaporating? Not at all. We start from the reality that we exist as intelligent and communicating creatures in a real world, and that we recognise many concepts on the basis of knowing cases, intuiting connexions and using that abstracted pattern to identify further cases on family resemblance. This process obviously can err, but the very fact of error is a case of existence and of truth existing and of knowable truth existing. So, we know well enough what things are, both concrete things and abstract ones of the order of the truth in the statement 2 + 3 = 5. We know full well that we can recognise cases of such things, and mark them off with labels, like A. Once that is done, we know full well that A is distinct from NOT-A, just as Dr Liddle is distinct from the rest of the world: her husband, her cat, her car, her workplace, her blog etc etc. In short, we see the basic laws of thought swinging into action, as has been repeatedly described and explained. And, in a case where to deny such is to end immediately in self-referential absurdity. What is more, if I were to take what Dr Liddle wrote and say that it means the opposite, she would rightly object that I am distorting what she said. In short, she full well knows that in relevant cases we know the difference between an assertion and its denial. She knows or should know that if one stands at the four-state point or the like, one can be "in" four states at once, but only if we take "in" in an inclusive sense. If we take "in" in the exclusive sense, that is not possible, and so the problem being posed turns out to be a case of needing to be clear what we are asking about. And of course there are things that shade off into one another, indeed Aristotle discussed white and black and grey in the very passage in Metaphysics we have been talking about. Does that mean there is no difference between white and black, or that something can be white and not white in the same sense and time etc? Patently not. That stricture on being in the same sense and time etc, is an invitation to be precise enough to mark whether we are equivocating when we say A and NOT-A. As Ari himself observed:
. . . the most certain principle of all is that regarding which it is impossible to be mistaken; for such a principle must be both the best known (for all men may be mistaken about things which they do not know), and non-hypothetical. For a principle which every one must have who understands anything that is, is not a hypothesis; and that which every one must know who knows anything, he must already have when he comes to a special study. Evidently then such a principle is the most certain of all; which principle this is, let us proceed to say. It is, that the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect; we must presuppose, to guard against dialectical objections, any further qualifications which might be added. This, then, is the most certain of all principles, since it answers to the definition given above. For it is impossible for any one to believe the same thing to be and not to be, as some think Heraclitus says. For what a man says, he does not necessarily believe; and if it is impossible that contrary attributes should belong at the same time to the same subject (the usual qualifications must be presupposed in this premiss too), and if an opinion which contradicts another is contrary to it, obviously it is impossible for the same man at the same time to believe the same thing to be and not to be; for if a man were mistaken on this point he would have contrary opinions at the same time. It is for this reason that all who are carrying out a demonstration reduce it to this as an ultimate belief; for this is naturally the starting-point even for all the other axioms . . . .
We did not suddenly see things that Aristotle was blind to, in the past 100 or so years! So, plainly, the issue is that we must recognise that here are such things as self evident truths, including the first principles of right reason. On pain of chaos, and obvious breaches of common sense that amount to patent absurdity. KFkairosfocus
February 21, 2012
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Onlookers: Sad to say, our civilisation has plainly gone mad, and the chief inmates are running the asylum. Let me hasten to add: this is not to indict those victims of the willful, irresponsible implanting of the absurd into the collective mindset of our civilisation who we see coming here and over at blogs and sites in the penumbra surrounding UD. It is, rather, to diagnose a disease of the mind that could easily be fatal for our civilisation. SB, above is ever so right, to point out that we are seeing a rejection of soundness -- and thus truth -- in thought. The conclusion of a valid argument follows properly from its premises, and so if the premises are true, a valid argument standing on true premises will have true conclusions. Where, the truth says of what is that it is, and of what is not, that it is not. And of course, where we may have adequate warrant for certain claims to be certain that they are true, or at least be morally confident enough to see that to treat them as false would be irresponsible or even dangerous. For instance, science inevitably rests on a pattern of thought that is formally fallacious: If Theory, T, then Observations and predictions, O + P, but since we see O + P, then we infer T. That is T => (O + P), (O + P) therefore t. Let (O + P) = X and we can see where if T = "Tom is a Cat" And X = "Tom is an animal" the structure is immediately and obviously a fallacy:
T => X (If Tom is a cat then Tom is an Animal) X (Tom is an animal) _____________________ T (Tom is a cat) This is of course the affirming of the consequent.
But, in practice, the explanation T we construct may be so well tested and empirically reliable, that we would be foolish to ignore it. For instance, think about pharmacology and the drugs we take for our ailments, which are developed using the said same scientific approach, warts and all. T is therefore seen as warranted as empirically reliable, and to be worthy of confidence per empirical tests though necessarily at most provisional. That is why physics has undergone two major revolutions in 350 years, and may be on the verge of a third if those recent faster than light neutrino observations pan out on cross-checking. But, what happens where scientific investigations traipse into fields where we cannot make such cross-checking observations? Too often, in fields such as origins science, it leads to the ideologisation of science. For instance, on origins science, it is easy to show that he empirically reliable source of functionally specific complex organisation and associated information is design, but because the implications cut across dominant schools of thought in origins science [which deals with the remote and unobservable deep past] we see a stout defence of the evolutionary materialist status quo that too often does not shun to resort to the most dirty rhetorical and propaganda techniques. (Indeed, that is why UD's mods have to be so stringent, all too often. And it is why several key contributors here generally decline invitations to wade into the tainted fever swamps, other than to perhaps serve a notice of record.) But now, we are seeing something deeper than the above. Reasoned thought itself is under attack in this ultra-/post- modern era. So bad is this, that there are ever so many who think that something is wrong if one sticks up for longstanding, self-evidently true and indisputably certain first principles of right reason. (Did you notice how Aristotle described the concept of self-evident first principles of right reason in the clip from last night? [Read above.]) Lest we forget (I know, I know, this cuts across what we have been ever so confidently taught by the professed wise and brilliant, complete with convincing -- but misleading -- talking points and claimed proof cases), let me again clip the basic summary developed above:
Consider the world: || . . . || Identify some definite A in it: || . . . (A) . . . NOT-A (the rest of the world) . . . || Now, let us analyse: [1] A thing, A, is what it is (the law of identity); [2] A thing, A, cannot at once be and not-be (the law of non-contradiction). It is worth clipping Wiki's cites against known interest from Aristotle in Metaphysics, as SB has done above:
1. ontological*: “It is impossible that the same thing belong and not belong to the same thing at the same time and in the same respect.” (1005b19-20)
[*NB: Ontology, per Am HD etc, is "The branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being," and the ontological form of the claim is talking about that which really exists or may really exist. Truth is the bridge between the world of thoughts and perceptions and that of external reality: truth says that what is is, and what is not is not.]
2. psychological: “No one can believe that the same thing can (at the same time) be and not be.” (1005b23-24) 3. logical: “The most certain of all basic principles is that contradictory propositions are not true simultaneously.” (1011b13-14)
[3] A thing, A, is or it is not, but not both or neither (the law of the excluded middle). [4] “to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true.” (Aristotle, on what truth is) [5] “Of everything that is, it can be found why it is.” (Principle of sufficient Reason, per Schopenhauer.) [6] If something has a beginning or may cease from being — i.e. it is contingent — it has a cause.* (Principle of causality, a direct derivative of 5) _________ *F/N: Principles 5 & 6 point to the possibility of necessary, non contingent beings, e.g. the truth in 2 + 3 = 5 did not have a beginning, cannot come to an end, and is not the product of a cause, it is an eternal reality. The most significant candidate necessary being is an eternal Mind. Indeed, down this road lies a path to inferring and arguably warranting the existence of God as architect, designer and maker — thus, creator — of the cosmos. (Cf Plato’s early argument along such lines, here.)
These six claims, once we reasonably understand them in light of our experience of the world, will patently be seen as true, and necessarily so on pain of absurdity. So soon as we can identify something, A as a definite object, A is itself, not something else at the same time and in the same sense. Similarly, the understanding of what truth is, is the ordinary and reasonable meaning: telling it like it is. And if something is, there is a reasonable question: why, which can be answered. That answer, for something that begins or may cease, is that it has a cause, and this raises the root question of beings that are necessary, and have no cause. (Cf the previous discussion in the ID Foundations series, here.) This then points to the question, what best explains the contingent cosmos we observe, which turns out to be fine-tuned for C-chemistry, cell based life. Cosmological design thought and theory therefore point to a designer and builder of our observed cosmos. That we inescapably find ourselves under moral government [those who protest this, inevitably demonstrate this by appealing to moral considerations] strongly raises the issue that the only worldview worth having is one in which there is a foundational IS that grounds OUGHT. This leads many serious thinkers to accept the best explanation as being that the designer and maker of the cosmos is an inherently good, wise, loving and just Creator God. These are serious and even compelling arguments, so such generic theism is not to be tartly dismissed as idiocy, ignorance, stupidity or worse -- precisely what the New Atheists, unfortunately, are ever so quick to do. Too often, in the crudest, most uncivil and disrespectful or disruptive ways. Now, we have put some big questions on the table. They are going to be hard to answer. But then, that is actually one definition of philosophy: the organised attempt to provide sensible and systematic answers to the hard questions posed by our existence and predicaments. So also, let us remind ourselves: if we swallow and believe a keystone absurdity, it becomes our sheet anchor for what we think is the truth. Then, unfortunately, when the real truth -- what Francis Schaeffer called "true truth" -- comes along, it necessarily will not conform to the absurdity we have swallowed. SO, IF WE HAVE BEEN LED TO BELIEVE KEY ABSURDITIES, IT WILL LEAD US TO DOUBT, DISPUTE AND EVEN REJECT THE REAL TRUTH WHEN WE SEE IT. This brings to mind three key warnings from that much despised book of ancient but all too relevant wisdom, the Judaeo-Christian scriptures:
Prov. 16:22 Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it, but folly brings punishment to fools. 23 A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.[b] 24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. 25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Isa 5:18 Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes . . . 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Eph 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. [cf Rom 1:18 - 32]
Yes, I know, I know, many will be irritated or worse by seeing these nuggets of wisdom from a book they despise. Talking points on Creationism in cheap tuxedos are being warmed up to be trotted out as we speak -- where, of course there will be nothing on a priori evolutionary materialist atheism lurking in the holy lab coat. But, obviously, that knee-jerk rage at God does not change the force or relevance of those classic bits of wisdom we so desperately need to heed that have just been cited. One thing is sure, the exchanges above make it painfully plain why we need a therapeutic approach to the ills of the world of reasoned thought that haunt our civilisation. We are desperately sick as a civilisation. The question, is, whether we are willing to take the medicine that can cure our ails, before it is too late. The jury is still out on that. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
February 21, 2012
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Oops, I mean, I don't believe that you are capable of rational thought. My offer for help still goes, however.StephenB
February 20, 2012
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Aleta, I feel sorry for you because I don't believe that you are not capable of rational thought. Let me know if I can ever help you.StephenB
February 20, 2012
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Reply at http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/?p=296#comment-3841, including an explanation of why I'm responding there, not here.Aleta
February 20, 2012
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If logic was not linked to the real world, we could advance VALID arguments, but we would be powerless to advance SOUND arguments. An argument is valid if its structure is flawless, meaning that its conclusion infallibly follows from its premises. However, a valid argument may or may not be sound, that is, it may or may not contain true premises. An argument is SOUND if it is valid and if it contains only true premises, that is, premises that accurately reflect the real world. Clearly, if logic was not linked to the real world, there would be no such thing as a true premise and, therefore, no such thing as a sound argument. Anyone who cannot, or will not, grasp this point is incapable of rational thought.StephenB
February 20, 2012
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--Aleta: "Just the part about Aristotle, not all of it." Well, actually, Aleta, in depends on which day of the week we are interacting. First, you reject the ontological aspect of the LNC when you define your general position (the map is not the territory). On the other hand, when we ask you about Jupiter moons, and mountains, you accept the ontological aspect, contradicting your original position. (Suddenly, there is no gap between logic and reality). Then, when we correct you with examples and ask you to extend the ontological part to all existing things, you revert back to a total denial of the ontological aspect altogether. (Oops, there's that gap again). As I say, your position is completely irrational. It cannot be defended.StephenB
February 20, 2012
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F/N: It is probably worthwhile to hear Ari himself in Metaphysics, per Jowett: __________ >> . . . the most certain principle of all is that regarding which it is impossible to be mistaken; for such a principle must be both the best known (for all men may be mistaken about things which they do not know), and non-hypothetical. For a principle which every one must have who understands anything that is, is not a hypothesis; and that which every one must know who knows anything, he must already have when he comes to a special study. Evidently then such a principle is the most certain of all; which principle this is, let us proceed to say. It is, that the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect; we must presuppose, to guard against dialectical objections, any further qualifications which might be added. This, then, is the most certain of all principles, since it answers to the definition given above. For it is impossible for any one to believe the same thing to be and not to be, as some think Heraclitus says. For what a man says, he does not necessarily believe; and if it is impossible that contrary attributes should belong at the same time to the same subject (the usual qualifications must be presupposed in this premiss too), and if an opinion which contradicts another is contrary to it, obviously it is impossible for the same man at the same time to believe the same thing to be and not to be; for if a man were mistaken on this point he would have contrary opinions at the same time. It is for this reason that all who are carrying out a demonstration reduce it to this as an ultimate belief; for this is naturally the starting-point even for all the other axioms . . . . "There are some who, as we said, both themselves assert that it is possible for the same thing to be and not to be, and say that people can judge this to be the case. And among others many writers about nature use this language. But we have now posited that it is impossible for anything at the same time to be and not to be, and by this means have shown that this is the most indisputable of all principles.-Some indeed demand that even this shall be demonstrated, but this they do through want of education, for not to know of what things one should demand demonstration, and of what one should not, argues want of education. For it is impossible that there should be demonstration of absolutely everything (there would be an infinite regress, so that there would still be no demonstration); but if there are things of which one should not demand demonstration, these persons could not say what principle they maintain to be more self-evident than the present one . . . . if all contradictory statements are true of the same subject at the same time, evidently all things will be one. For the same thing will be a trireme, a wall, and a man, if of everything it is possible either to affirm or to deny anything (and this premiss must be accepted by those who share the views of Protagoras). For if any one thinks that the man is not a trireme, evidently he is not a trireme; so that he also is a trireme, if, as they say, contradictory statements are both true. And we thus get the doctrine of Anaxagoras, that all things are mixed together; so that nothing really exists. They seem, then, to be speaking of the indeterminate, and, while fancying themselves to be speaking of being, they are speaking about non-being; for it is that which exists potentially and not in complete reality that is indeterminate. But they must predicate of every subject the affirmation or the negation of every attribute. For it is absurd if of each subject its own negation is to be predicable, while the negation of something else which cannot be predicated of it is not to be predicable of it; for instance, if it is true to say of a man that he is not a man, evidently it is also true to say that he is either a trireme or not a trireme. If, then, the affirmative can be predicated, the negative must be predicable too; and if the affirmative is not predicable, the negative, at least, will be more predicable than the negative of the subject itself. If, then, even the latter negative is predicable, the negative of 'trireme' will be also predicable; and, if this is predicable, the affirmative will be so too. "Those, then, who maintain this view are driven to this conclusion, and to the further conclusion that it is not necessary either to assert or to deny. For if it is true that a thing is a man and a not-man, evidently also it will be neither a man nor a not-man. For to the two assertions there answer two negations, and if the former is treated as a single proposition compounded out of two, the latter also is a single proposition opposite to the former . . . . those who ask for an irresistible argument, and at the same time demand to be called to account for their views, must guard themselves by saying that the truth is not that what appears exists, but that what appears exists for him to whom it appears, and when, and to the sense to which, and under the conditions under which it appears. And if they give an account of their view, but do not give it in this way, they will soon find themselves contradicting themselves. For it is possible that the same thing may appear to be honey to the sight, but not to the taste, and that, since we have two eyes, things may not appear the same to each, if their sight is unlike. For to those who for the reasons named some time ago say that what appears is true, and therefore that all things are alike false and true, for things do not appear either the same to all men or always the same to the same man, but often have contrary appearances at the same time (for touch says there are two objects when we cross our fingers, while sight says there is one)-to these we shall say 'yes, but not to the same sense and in the same part of it and under the same conditions and at the same time', so that what appears will be with these qualifications true. But perhaps for this reason those who argue thus not because they feel a difficulty but for the sake of argument, should say that this is not true, but true for this man. And as has been said before, they must make everything relative-relative to opinion and perception, so that nothing either has come to be or will be without some one's first thinking so. But if things have come to be or will be, evidently not all things will be relative to opinion.-Again, if a thing is one, it is in relation to one thing or to a definite number of things; and if the same thing is both half and equal, it is not to the double that the equal is correlative. If, then, in relation to that which thinks, man and that which is thought are the same, man will not be that which thinks, but only that which is thought. And if each thing is to be relative to that which thinks, that which thinks will be relative to an infinity of specifically different things. "Let this, then, suffice to show (1) that the most indisputable of all beliefs is that contradictory statements are not at the same time true, and (2) what consequences follow from the assertion that they are, and (3) why people do assert this. Now since it is impossible that contradictories should be at the same time true of the same thing, obviously contraries also cannot belong at the same time to the same thing. For of contraries, one is a privation no less than it is a contrary-and a privation of the essential nature; and privation is the denial of a predicate to a determinate genus. If, then, it is impossible to affirm and deny truly at the same time, it is also impossible that contraries should belong to a subject at the same time, unless both belong to it in particular relations, or one in a particular relation and one without qualification . . . >> __________ We have been those roads of thought long since, in the footsteps of such men. KFkairosfocus
February 20, 2012
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Just the part about Aristotle, not all of it.Aleta
February 20, 2012
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The above reference was from Wikipedia.StephenB
February 20, 2012
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Aleta, I visited the other website, but you did not answer the question. You simply rationalized your evasion. The LINK between LOGIC and REALITY is INHERENT in Law of non-Contradiction, which includes the logical, the psychological, and the ONTOLOGICAL. You want to keep the logical aspect and abandon the ontological aspect, which is just another way of trying to have it both ways, claiming to accept the law it while abandoning it at the same time. Here is Aristotle's formulation: 1. ontological: "It is impossible that the same thing belong and not belong to the same thing at the same time and in the same respect." (1005b19-20) 2. psychological: "No one can believe that the same thing can (at the same time) be and not be." (1005b23-24) 3. logical: "The most certain of all basic principles is that contradictory propositions are not true simultaneously." (1011b13-14) To reject the ontological aspect of the Law of non-contradiction, or to limit it to the realm of the logical, is to deny the law of non-contradiction. You have, therefore, abandoned rationality. I do not discuss science or any other important matter with irrational people. I simply make reference to the fact and move on. ________ An important note, worthy of remarking, SB. KFStephenB
February 20, 2012
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to StephenB: the answer to your question is at http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/?p=296#comment-3715Aleta
February 20, 2012
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And if we call the tail of a sheep a leg, how many legs will it have?kairosfocus
February 20, 2012
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WJ: a triangle's got a top and a beneath, so there: FIVE sides, hic! KFkairosfocus
February 20, 2012
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UT: You have raised some interesting points. I note: 1 --> I emphasise elsewhere the difference between a real contradiction and a gap in our concepts, by asking if one can at just one point on earth, stand to the due north of London -- England, Bridgetown -- Barbados and Kingston -- Jamaica. 2 --> At first, this seems impossible; until we remember that the Earth is a ball, not a flat object. So, go to the north pole and stand there. If unity and diversity refer to different aspects of an object, phenomenon or situation, they do not stand in contradiction. (This is of course central to the triune understanding of God central to Christian theology.) 3 --> So, it is possible to stand at a point of convergence and be "in" multiple states without contradiction. But if "in" were to mean solely in, that would be a different matter as that would exclude intersecting a border. 4 --> The sense in which A is I, and you are you has that exclusive property: you as an identity, cannot intersect with me as an identity in the same sense and time. 5 --> Being a mole on or next to a nose is a related case: we do not have a defined knife-edge point or borderline that is generally agreed, UNLIKE (MOST) BORDERS OF STATES. And indeed if you look at the map of Arabia, you will still see some undefined border zones; as used to be much more common. 6 --> We could define a knife edge line which would allow our mole to intersect the border or we could use the Zadeh fuzzy zoning with an overlap so a point/mole could be 60% nose, 30% mouth and 10% cheek. (This last is commonly used in control theory.) Indeed, we could use this to map out where people think each of these zones ends, coming up with a sort of social consensus map. But where sharp definition is important [have you ever seen a real estate dispute that required a resurvey of a lot?], we will usually agree on a border. 7 --> This does not change that a unique point is itself, not something else and not both. 8 --> The tree example you gave is similar, with change over time. The border between seed and seedling, or seedling and sapling, or sapling and tree are linked by steadily acting processes and are fuzzy. That does not change the fact that the white guava tree or the cashew tree or the mango, soursop and sugar apple trees behind where I type, each had a unique identity through these processes. Hence the significance of beginning from the act of identification, the fact of identity and recognising the need to have the circumstances duly recognised and consistent in dealing with a case. (This tends to be obscured in using symbols, but in the real world it is vital.) 9 --> As for quantum examples, they are discussed here at first level -- before this post was attempted -- as has been repeatedly linked above. We deal with wavicles [and I lean towards some vague version on Copenhagen, on grounds of the extravagances of branching worlds], which do interact with both slits and influence the resolution that marks the dot pattern on a screen. Superposition of waves is not to be confused with superposition of existence and non-existence [Scroedinger's cat and all that]. Virtual particles are real enough to be a part of observable effects. And much more. The quantum world is strange, but no stranger in the end than other aspects of the problem of the one and the many in an evidently coherent cosmos. KFkairosfocus
February 20, 2012
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Brent: Thanks, this and related threads are a revelation on just how deep-rooted the rot that ails our civilisation is. KFkairosfocus
February 20, 2012
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KF, Embarrassingly, I just now did read fully the OP. I skimmed it due to time constraints when I first opened it, and upon seeing Aleta's comment just couldn't refrain from jumping in. Thanks for a very, very good read and explanation of things that, as you said, are sadly still in need of explaining.Brent
February 19, 2012
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Another question to ask some of them is if there are 4-sided triangles in any universe, or if 2+3=5 in all possible universes. Then ask them, if that rule just describes things we happen to find in our exterior reality, then why can we not find - somewhere, in this universe or another, that 2+3=180, or that triangles have 4 sides? I mean, logic is just the man imposing his brutal, patriarchal mind-control on the people, y'know? Logic is prison, bro. Reality is beyond our conceptualization of it! I mean, besides the fact that we can conceive of it enough to know it's beyond our ability to .. eh, gimme another brewski.William J Murray
February 19, 2012
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Well, Aleta had to retreat back to quantum physics. So I found these few comments spot on:
KF said: " . . . empirical reliability of a model’s outputs says nothing about the ultimate truth of its assumptions and explanatory constructs etc. "As in, affirming the consequent is still a formal fallacy, even when dressed up in a lab coat." And: "Now, we do have superpositions and uncertainties etc in physics, but that is not to be equated with the superposition of existence and non-existence [as some have imagined for Schroedinger's poor cat], or the like. And, when the physicists set out to do the calculations, they are locked down to treating the symbols as distinct things with distinct specific relationships, on pain of chaos and confusion leading to nonsense. "
William J Murray said: "How would you go about discovering something that cannot be identified as itself and not anything/everything else (principle of identity)?"
Throughout the thread, I often referred to the LNC where it would probably have been more proper to refer to the LoI (law of identity) because they are so interrelated. But, I think it is wiser to first press this LoI upon Aleta and those who look to quantum mechanics for an escape hatch from reality.Brent
February 19, 2012
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--Aleta: "I’m in agreement about ending this madness, Stephen. See you some other time." Translation: I will never answer your question.StephenB
February 19, 2012
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kairosfocus:
But, that’s O/T for UD, even on a phil issue.
No worries, I only mentioned as an example of the largest philosophical set of which I'm aware. Can I assume from your latest two responses that you're simply looking for 'reasonable and responsible' as good faith and sportsmanship in debate?Maus
February 19, 2012
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I'm in agreement about ending this madness, Stephen. See you some other time.Aleta
February 19, 2012
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As far as things existing (or not) on a spectrum are concerned: A seed is not a tree, A sprouted seed is not a tree, But at some point a seed sprouts and is a sprout at some later point the sprout becomes a sapling and at a yet later point the sapling becomes a tree. It is never both a tree and not a tree in the same sense and at the same time (LNC) Yet it is not clear exactly when the tree begins to exist. Similarly for a single water molecule to droplet to drop to puddle to pond to lake to sea to ocean. I can imagine Aleta's "Xo on a mountain" example in a similar way... even with some extra fuzziness. This is not to doubt whether the mountain exists or not in the same sense at the same time. For sake of discussion we can talk about a real mountain that exists, let's say Mount Shasta in Northern California. At what point can one say that Xo is ON Mt. Shasta or not? Another example is Four Corners (the arbitrary point where the states Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet) One can stand in all four states in the same sense at the same time yet not be in any particular state. I have done it and I didn't poof out of existence in a flash due to a violation of LNC. Then there is wave-particle duality and the double slit experiment which, when combined with the photoelectric effect, really seem to tax the LNC. But I won't discuss those just yet.utidjian
February 19, 2012
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--Aleta: "Your very questions assumes that there is a absolute link between classical logic and reality, and I’ve been arguing that that is not the case: there are ways in which classical logic is a very powerful tool, and there are ways where its use hinders our understanding, because of the necessity to dichotomize that it entails." Aleta, Of course there is a link between logic and reality. It is your irrational claim to the contrary that sustains your confusion. Let me try to unwrap this for you. On the one hand, you claim that no reliable (absolute is the wrong word) link exists between logic and the real world on the grounds that the "map" is different from the "territory." On the other hand, you temporarily reverse your position each time we start getting into examples. You admit, for example, that the moon, which exists in the real world, cannot exist and not exist at the same time. In making that admission, you are conceding that logic and the world are, indeed, linked, insofar as the moon's existence is concerned. In other words, you are admitting, with respect to the LNC, that no decisive gap exists between the map and the territory. Later on, under unrelenting pressure, you finally acknowledged that logic and the world are also linked insofar as real-world mountains and real-world ocean's are concerned. In spite of your earlier protests, it didn't matter whether we can identify where the mountain (or ocean) begins and the land (or tributaries) end. You came to recognize, I hope, that those "objections" were not, shall we say, richly conceived. Again, there was no significant gap between the map and the territory. So, my question is designed to revive your intellectual capabilities to a point that you will understand that the link between logic and reality, at least in the context of the LNC, doesn't turn on, off, and back on again. If it is true for some things, it is true for all things. My question was designed to help you understand that we can extend our list of those things already acknowledged to pertain to the LNC 9Jupiter, the moon, the mountain, and the ocean)--to ALL things. Here it is for the eight time: Does the law of non-contradiction pertain to ALL INSTANCES OF THINGS EXISTING IN THE REAL WORLD–(moons, mountains, oceans and EVERYTHING ELSE). Yes or no Just say yes and let's end this madness.StephenB
February 19, 2012
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WJ: I should add my comment on the particular attempt to tell "truth" by the clock you addressed. That is of course a fallacy, in and of itself. But also, you will observe that A -- how ironic that is -- has dichotomised off that ancient metaphysics she would dismiss. In other words AM is itself in her view and not NOT-AM also, or whatever fashionable claim. So, we see that A cannot in practice operate other than on the basis of what she -- I infer here on the name -- would reject. H'mmm . . . KFkairosfocus
February 19, 2012
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If we discover some aspect of reality that doesn’t fit a logic built upon ancient metaphysics based on objects and their properties, then so be it. Reality wins, and our logical tools must be amended to help us understand that reality.
How would you go about discovering something that cannot be identified as itself and not anything/everything else (principle of identity)?William J Murray
February 19, 2012
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Aleta: I must take up your:
Your very questions assumes that there is a absolute link between classical logic and reality, and I’ve been arguing that that is not the case: there are ways in which classical logic is a very powerful tool, and there are ways where its use hinders our understanding, because of the necessity to dichotomize that it entails. Furthermore, as someone remarked elsewhere, Aristotle’s logic presupposes a particular metaphysics in which “things” and “properties” and “existence” are assumed. Modern physics perhaps challenges that metaphysics . . .
Pardon, Aleta, but there is no empty assumption involved, there is a big difference between assumptions and self-evident truths that are seen to be so based on our experience of the world and are also seen to be necessarily so on pain of absurdity. You are giving me the distinct impression that you have not read the original post, and where it comes from, much less the earlier markup on ES's arguments about quantum mechanics. If you only come here to trumpet talking points and do not actually interact with the course of discussion, then that is not helpful.. You seem to despise "dichotomising," but you happen to have a stable identity as an individual and a name, whether or not it is an Internet Handle. That's not a question-begging assumption that can be dismissed, that is an easily observed reality that we dare not dismiss, on pain of absurdity. You are therefore a relevant case in point: It is not possible for you to be and not be in the same sense at the same time. It is not possible for you to be neither there nor not there. One or the other of Aleta exists and Aleta does not exist will be true, but not both and not neither. So, let us reprise the summary form the OP that I just updated from earlier today:
Consider the world: || . . . || Identify some definite A in it: || . . . (A) . . . NOT-A (the rest of the world) . . . || Now, let us analyse: [1] A thing, A, is what it is (the law of identity); [2] A thing, A, cannot at once be and not-be (the law of non-contradiction); [3] A thing, A, is or it is not, but not both or neither (the law of the excluded middle). [4] “to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true.” (Ari, on what truth is) [5] “Of everything that is, it can be found why it is.” (Principle of sufficient Reason, per Schopenhauer.) [6] If something has a beginning or may cease from being — i.e. it is contingent — it has a cause. (Principle of causality, a direct derivative of 5, which points to the possibility of necessary, non contingent beings, e.g. the truth in 2 + 3 = 5 did not have a beginning, cannot come to an end, and is not the product of a cause, it is an eternal reality. The most significant candidate necessary being is an eternal Mind. Indeed, down this road lies a path to inferring and arguably warranting the existence of God as architect, designer and maker — thus, creator — of the cosmos. Cf Plato’s early argument along such lines, here.)
Now what from that list is a matter of dubious assertions of question-begging assumptions? That something identifiable exists is a fact of experience, antecedent to labelling it, e.g. a bright red ball on a table, or Aleta. That thing is itself. It is not both itself and something else. Nor is it neither itself nor something else. It is itself. Now, we do have superpositions and uncertainties etc in physics, but that is not to be equated with the superposition of existence and non-existence [as some have imagined for Schroedinger's poor cat], or the like. And, when the physicists set out to do the calculations, they are locked down to treating the symbols as distinct things with distinct specific relationships, on pain of chaos and confusion leading to nonsense. And I still see lurking int he background the idea that Kant's ditch between the phenomenal world of mental experience and the noumenal world of things in themselves, is still there in your mind, in the guise of a gap between language and reality that is unbridgeable. Pardon, but as was shown above yesterday I think, that is self-refuting by being self-referentially incoherent. Of course, you can choose to ignore that, but all this would show is that you would be clinging to the demonstrably absurd. Please, think again. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
February 19, 2012
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Maus: I'll say but little on Islam other than to point that a lot of its pivot is historical and on its founder and era, so the evaluation of its truth claims will hinge on that. For which I suggest here as one significant view. But, that's O/T for UD, even on a phil issue. As touching science, the matter is simple: science seeks to provide an empirically reliable and at least possibly true description and explanation of our world. It provides a provisional warrant, and so a weak form, open-ended body of knowledge. That body is useful because of its empirical reliability, but we know already that empirical reliability of a model's outputs says nothing about the ultimate truth of its assumptions and explanatory constructs etc. As in, affirming the consequent is still a formal fallacy, even when dressed up in a lab coat. Next, there are of course all sorts of phil views and even anti-phil views that can be held. What is at stake here is actually a matter of glorified common sense [what is implied in being able to identify something as a distinct thing in the world with a stable identity), but I reserve that for my following comment to Aleta. All best KFkairosfocus
February 19, 2012
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