Comprehensibility of the universe Conservation of Information Emergentism UD Guest Posts

Origenes: “The Emergence of Emergentism: A Play for Two Actors”

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The stage is in darkness, with sombre mood music, then light rises . . .

Origenes, 226 in the Pregnancy thread:

<<Two desperate naturalists in a room.

A: “I feel completely desperate. There is no way we will ever be able to explain life and consciousness.”
B: “I feel the exact same way. The main issue is that we have nothing to work with. All we have is mindless particles in the void obeying mindless regularities. Starting from that, how can we possibly explain life, not to mention personhood, freedom, and rationality? There is simply no way forward.”
A: “Exactly right. Sometimes I feel like such a loser. The other day I heard that current science cannot even explain liquidity.”
B: “What did you just say?”

**POOF**>>

THE END.

105 Replies to “Origenes: “The Emergence of Emergentism: A Play for Two Actors”

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Origenes: “The Emergence of Emergentism: A Play for Two Actors”

  2. 2
    Origenes says:

    Thank you KF,

    This is an honor. The first play I’ve ever written and I’m over the moon with it. It came to me out of nowhere, I must say. I simply cannot explain it. All I did was putting various parts of the discussion together, and next, unexpectedly, the play, somehow ‘emerged’, for lack of a better word.

    KF added the setting and is absolutely right about it: starting with darkness, somber music, and then the dramatic rising of light …. it completes it.
    – – –
    p.s. IMHO the role of actor B is a real challenge for any actor. In particular the line ***What did you just say?*** must be communicated in such a way that the audience truly experiences the emergence of emergentism – Robert Downey Jr. comes to mind.

  3. 3
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    Bravo! Author! Author!

  4. 4
    asauber says:

    My Dinner With Alan

    Andrew

  5. 5
    Seversky says:

    And for the musical version, as sung by Dorothy and the Scarecrow (Strawman) from The Wizard Of Oz ,

    I could while away the hours
    Conferrin’ with the flowers,
    Consulting with the rain;
    And my head I’d be a scratchin’
    While my thoughts are busy hatchin’
    If I only had a brain.

  6. 6
    Belfast says:

    “Mindless particles obeying mindless regularities”
    It’s good, it’s very good. The conceptualisation is brilliant.
    But “obeying” is perhaps not quite the word, as obedience suggests choice.
    I can’t think of a better off the top of my head, “following” or “driven by” are no better . “Mindlessly obeying” has problems too.
    “Mindless particles AND mindless regularities” damages the visual impact.
    “Mindless particles randomly obeying mindless regularities.” Is superfluous.
    Anyway, congratulations.

  7. 7
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    Well, never let it be said that I always take the moral high-ground and never descend to pettiness. So here we go:

    Anti-naturalist: “There’s no naturalistic explanation for life and consciousness.”

    Naturalist: “No definite answer, sure, but there’s been lots of progress in figuring out how life and consciousness fit into a naturalistic worldview.”

    Anti-naturalist: “No, there isn’t. It can’t be done.”

    Naturalist: “Sure, just look at these books and articles [provides list]”

    Anti-naturalist: “Literature bluff! Literature bluff!”

    Naturalist: “well, read it for yourself — or not. It’s not my job to educate you.”

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    PM1, you know that I took time to answer you point by point. KF

  9. 9
    Belfast says:

    @PM1@7
    “ No definite answer, sure, but there’s been lots of progress ”
    Thomas Huxley, when installed President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, pronounced, “With organic chemistry, molecular physics, and physiology yet in their infancy, and every day making prodigious strides, I think it would be the height of presumption for any man to say that the conditions under which matter assumes the properties we call “vital” [alive] may not, some day, be artificially brought together. ”
    That was over 150 years ago; with very slight variations – three years, ten years, in our lifetime, soon, very soon now – is an echo-chamber regular, and only a manifestation of the triumph of forlorn hope over prolonged failure.
    “How did life begin? We don’t know ….. BUT we DO know that it was the result of chemical accidents though we can’t demonstrate even the first tiny step because we still don’t know what the first step was.”

  10. 10
    Alan Fox says:

    Is this the epitaph of arguments for “Intelligent Design”? Scientists can’t produce an evidenced explanation for the initial appearance of life on Earth, therefore ID must be true by default?

    I’m going to try an experiment. I’m going to wait for some positive scientific, testable hypothesis to emerge from the ID movement. Let’s see if I live long enough to see it.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Alan Fox asks, “Is this the epitaph of arguments for “Intelligent Design”?”,,,

    Well Alan, the proper word is not “epitaph” but “prologue”. But since you, self-admittedly, are not in control of the words you are writing, well then, I can hardly fault you, (or PM1), for constantly making such nonsensical arguments.

    BA77: “So AF holds that the ‘niche”, not AF himself, is responsible for the information that he himself is writing in his posts?”

    Alan Fox: “Yes, sort of, though I don’t know,,,”
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/at-evolution-news-for-darwinism-pregnancy-is-the-mother-of-all-chicken-and-egg-problems/#comment-771084

    Origenes: “Does rationality require a person who is in control of his thoughts?”

    PM1: “No, I don’t think so.”
    https://uncommondescent.com/mind/the-thought-that-stops-thought/#comment-771074
    also see Origenes response to PMI at post 72 of the same thread

    As to a positive testable hypothesis, well AF, whereas Darwinian evolution has no rigid falsification criteria that would demarcate it as a scientific theory, and not a ‘metaphysical research program’, and/or a pseudoscience,

    Dubitable Darwin? Why Some Smart, Nonreligious People Doubt the Theory of Evolution – John Horgan – July 6, 2010
    Excerpt: Early in his career, the philosopher Karl Popper ,, called evolution via natural selection “almost a tautology” and “not a testable scientific theory but a metaphysical research program.” Attacked for these criticisms, Popper took them back (in approx 1978). But when I interviewed him in 1992, he blurted out that he still found Darwin’s theory dissatisfying. “One ought to look for alternatives!” Popper exclaimed, banging his kitchen table.
    http://blogs.scientificamerica.....evolution/

    “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable: and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”
    – Karl R. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery

    Imre Lakatos – Pseudoscience
    Excerpt: In his 1973 LSE Scientific Method Lecture 1[23] he (Lakatos) also claimed that “nobody to date has yet found a demarcation criterion according to which Darwin can be described as scientific”.
    Almost 20 years after Lakatos’s 1973 challenge to the scientificity of Darwin, in her 1991 The Ant and the Peacock, LSE lecturer and ex-colleague of Lakatos, Helena Cronin, attempted to establish that Darwinian theory was empirically scientific in respect of at least being supported by evidence of likeness in the diversity of life forms in the world, explained by descent with modification. She wrote that
    “our usual idea of corroboration as requiring the successful prediction of novel facts…Darwinian theory was not strong on temporally novel predictions..”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imre_Lakatos#Pseudoscience

    ,,, whereas Darwinian evolution has no rigid falsification criteria that would demarcate it as a scientific theory, and not a ‘metaphysical research program’, and/or a pseudoscience, Intelligent Design does have a rigid falsification criteria so as to demarcate itself a testable scientific theory. In fact there is currently up to a 10 million dollar prize being offered for the first person that can “Show an example of Information that doesn’t come from a mind. All you need is one.”

    The Origin of Information: How to Solve It – Perry Marshall
    Where did the information in DNA come from? This is one of the most important and valuable questions in the history of science. Cosmic Fingerprints has issued a challenge to the scientific community:
    “Show an example of Information that doesn’t come from a mind. All you need is one.”
    “Information” is defined as digital communication between an encoder and a decoder, using agreed upon symbols. To date, no one has shown an example of a naturally occurring encoding / decoding system, i.e. one that has demonstrably come into existence without a designer.
    A private equity investment group is offering a technology prize for this discovery (up to 10 million dollars). We will financially reward and publicize the first person who can solve this;,,, To solve this problem is far more than an object of abstract religious or philosophical discussion. It would demonstrate a mechanism for producing coding systems, thus opening up new channels of scientific discovery. Such a find would have sweeping implications for Artificial Intelligence research.
    http://cosmicfingerprints.com/solve/

    ,,, i.e. Honestly admitting that natural processes can’t create information is just the very first step, i.e. the ‘prologue’, to the technological fruits that are to come to man from advances in systems biology, biomimetics, etc..,

    Emily Reeves: The Systems Biology Revolution – 2022
    https://www.discovery.org/podcast/emily-reeves-the-systems-biology-revolution/

    Eyeballing Design “Biomimetics” Exposes Attacks on ID as Poorly Designed By: Casey Luskin – December 2011
    Perhaps the most familiar example of biomimetics is the body shape of birds serving as the inspiration for aircraft design. But the list of fascinating cases where engineers have mimicked nature to develop or improve human technology goes on and on:
    • Faster Speedo swimsuits have been developed by studying the properties of sharkskin.
    • Spiny hooks on plant seeds and fruits led to the development of Velcro.
    • Better tire treads were created by understanding the shape of toe pads on tree frogs.
    • Polar bear furs have inspired textiles and thermal collectors.
    • Studying hippo sweat promises to lead to better sunscreen.
    • Volvo has studied how locusts swarm without crashing into one another to develop an anti-collision system.
    • Mimicking mechanisms of photosynthesis and chemical energy conversion might lead to the creation of cheaper solar cells.
    • Copying the structure of sticky gecko feet could lead to the development of tape with cleaner and dryer super-adhesion.
    • Color-changing cuttlefish have inspired television screens that use a fraction of the power of standard TVs.
    • DNA might become a framework for building faster microchips.
    • The ability of the human ear to pick up many frequencies of sound is being replicated to build better antennas.
    • The Namibian fog-­basking beetle has inspired methods of desalinizing ocean water, growing crops, and producing electricity, all in one!,,,
    The answer is hard to miss. The widespread practice and success of biomimetics among technology-creating engineers has powerful implications that point to intelligent design (ID). After all, if human technology is intelligently designed, and if biological systems inspire or outperform man-made systems, then we are confronted with the not-so-subtle inference that nature, too, might have been designed.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/18011

    Quote and Verse:

    “Of all signs there is none more certain or worthy than that of the fruits produced: for the fruits and effects are the sureties and vouchers, as it were, for the truth of philosophy.”
    – Francis Bacon – Aphorism 73 of Novum Organum – father of the scientific method

    Matthew 7:18-20
    A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

  12. 12
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @11

    I’d still love to see how you reconcile Popper and Bacon, since Popper developed falsificationism precisely in order to do science without induction. If you think that science involves induction, then what do you need falsification for?

    To be fair, I think there are really interesting reasons why Popper is the favorite philosopher of science among practicing scientists, even though there are glaring philosophical problems with his philosophy of science. My surmise is that most scientists like Popper because Popper shares what most scientists value: inspiration, creativity, a willingness to try out any idea, no matter how crazy, just to see if it works. And I’d bet that most scientists just don’t notice that his entire project is based upon rejecting induction in scientific reasoning — or if they do notice, they don’t care.

    Lakatos showed (correctly, I think) that there’s no demarcation criterion for any scientific theory, not just evolutionary theory — but that there is no basis for ever demarcating science from pseudo-science. (This does not mean that “pseudoscience” is a useless concept, only that there is no unambiguous criterion that puts all scientific theories on one side and all pseudoscientific theories on the other.)

    What I do like in Lakatos is his distinction between “progressive research programs” and “degenerating research programs”. I think this is a much more useful distinction than trying to solve the demarcation problem.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    PM1, (generously assuming that you were in control of the words you just wrote, and that you are, therefore, capable of even being rational 🙂 ), the conflict between Popper and Bacon exists far more in your imagination than it does in the real world.

    “Scientists do indeed begin with hypothesis, bold hypothesis, that could be falsified by evidence. But rather than looking for supporting evidence, Popper argued scientists (should) go out of their way to refute their own hypothesis. Testing them to destruction. They go out searching for black swans, not more white swans, (to confirm their hypothesis that ‘all swans are white). Science is all about falsification, not confirmation.”
    – Karl Popper’s Falsification
    https://youtu.be/wf-sGqBsWv4?t=16

    In fact, Popper, via his emphasis on falsifying evidence over and above just focusing on confirming evidence, used the inductive method far more precisely, in a ‘bottom-up’ inductive manner, to weed out a failed hypothesis. i.e. to ‘inductively’ weed out presuppositions that are wrong in a far more rigorous way.

    Deductive vs. Inductive reasoning – top-down vs. bottom-up – graph
    https://i2.wp.com/images.slideplayer.com/28/9351128/slides/slide_2.jpg

    Inductive reasoning
    Excerpt: Inductive reasoning is distinct from deductive reasoning. While, if the premises are correct, the conclusion of a deductive argument is certain, the truth of the conclusion of an inductive argument is probable, based upon the evidence given.[4]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductive_reasoning

    i.e. Empirical evidence, and inductively falsifying wrong presuppositions in a ‘bottom-up manner, still plays a central role in Popper’s reasoning, it is just that Popper held the inductive method can be abused, and indeed has been abused, particularly by naturalists, (and/or Marxists), especially when they look only for examples that confirm their naturalistic hypothesis, and ignore all evidence that falsifies it.

    Karl Popper
    Karl Popper equated naturalism with inductive theory of science. He rejected it based on his general critique of induction (see problem of induction), yet acknowledged its utility as means for inventing conjectures.
    “A naturalistic methodology (sometimes called an “inductive theory of science”) has its value, no doubt…. I reject the naturalistic view: It is uncritical. Its upholders fail to notice that whenever they believe to have discovered a fact, they have only proposed a convention. Hence the convention is liable to turn into a dogma. This criticism of the naturalistic view applies not only to its criterion of meaning, but also to its idea of science, and consequently to its idea of empirical method.”
    — Karl R. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, (Routledge, 2002), pp. 52–53, ISBN 0-415-27844-9.
    Popper instead proposed that science should adopt a methodology based on falsifiability for demarcation, because no number of experiments can ever prove a theory, but a single experiment can contradict one. Popper holds that scientific theories are characterized by falsifiability.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalism_(philosophy)#Views

    In short, Popper’s supposed rejection of the general method of induction was sparked by Naturalistic dogmatism which refused to consider any falsifying evidence, and only considered evidence that might lend support. (which sounds exactly what we are currently going through with Atheistic Naturalism and Darwinism)

    Moreover PM1, I can see why you yourself would try to diss falsification. There is simply no empirical evidence that is ever allowed to falsify Darwinian evolution.

    Darwinism vs. Falsification – link to defense of each claim
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1I6fT6ATY700Bsx2-JSFqL6l-rzXpMcZcZKZfYRS45h4/

    And thus, since Darwinian evolution is beyond empirical reproach, then obviously “it does not speak of reality”

    “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable: and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”
    – Karl R. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery

    Quote and Verse:

    “If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is … If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”
    – Feynman

    1 Thessalonians 5:21
    Test all things; hold fast what is good.

    Of supplemental note,

    Nov. 2022 – Lakatos himself based much of his ‘philosophy’ for shunning the importance of empirical falsification on the Copernican revolution. In fact, Lakatos specifically stated that, “I thought that the Copernican revolution might in particular serve as an important test case between some contemporary philosophies of science.”,,, (yet empirical evidence has now falsified the Copernican principle and has, thus, turned Lakatos’s entire rationale for questioning falsification on its head)
    https://uncommondescent.com/evolution/at-evolution-news-there-is-no-settled-theory-of-evolution/#comment-770283

  14. 14
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @13

    , Popper, via his emphasis on falsifying evidence over and above just focusing on confirming evidence, used the inductive method far more precisely, in a ‘bottom-up’ inductive manner, to weed out a failed hypothesis. i.e. to ‘inductively’ weed out presuppositions that are wrong in a far more rigorous way.

    Sorry, but that’s not correct. Induction has nothing at all to do with weeding out failed hypotheses. Popper thinks that a hypothesis must be rejected if even a single observation is incompatible with it. That is completely different from induction, where we generalize over multiple observations.

    Popper’s falsificationism is built upon the following truth of deductive (not inductive) logic.

    The following is a logically invalid argument

    1. If P, therefore Q.
    2. Q.
    3. Therefore, P.

    But Popper thinks that that’s how inductive reasoning works, in the following way. The inductivist is someone who reasons:

    1. If hypothesis H were true, then observation O would follow.
    2. We observe O.
    3. Therefore, H is true.

    Popper thinks that the inductivist is making a logically invalid argument because the two argument schemas are the same.

    By contrast, the following is logically valid:

    1. If P, then Q.
    2. But not Q.
    3. Therefore, not P.

    Popper uses this to reconstruct scientific reasoning as:

    1. If hypothesis H were the case, that would entail observation O.
    2. But we do not observe O.
    3. Therefore, H is not the case.

    and that is the logical basis of falsificationism. All the hard work of science goes into designing an experiment careful enough to show that H logically entails O, so that even a single failure to observe O is sufficient to reject H. No induction required.

    From which it follows, as Popper makes very clear, that it is not logically possible to ever confirm a scientific hypotheses. All hypotheses fall into one of three categories: falsified, not yet falsified, and not even falsifiable.

    Popper’s complaint against Marxism and psychoanalysis was not that they were false or nonsense, but they were not genuine sciences — and that was because (he thought) every objection to them was dismissed by using that theory. Criticisms of Marxism were dismissed as mere ideology that disguises class interest; criticisms of psychoanalysis were dismissed as unresolved Oedipal issues. So the problem, he thought, is that Marxists and psychoanalysts were not even able to recognize the sheer possibility that their theories could be mistaken, because they desperately needed to be right, no matter what. And that obstinate clinging to being right, no matter what, is the exact opposite of a scientific attitude.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    PM1, perhaps if you were, via your free will, to exert more control of your thoughts and words, instead of just letting the random jostling of atoms in your brain dictate your thoughts and words for you, your arguments for atheistic naturalism might be more persuasive to others here on UD?? Just a suggestion! 🙂 (And also generously assuming that you have the will necessary to change your actions)

    You are, of course, and as usual, wrong. Inductive reasoning is indeed included in the ‘deductive’ feedback loop you’ve indicated.

    1. If hypothesis H were the case, that would entail observation O.
    2. But we do not observe O.
    3. Therefore, H is not the case.

    i.e. As you yourself indicated in your deductive argument, “bottom up” empirical evidence and/or observation, via step 2, is given ‘inductive’, i.e. ‘bottom-up’, authority to provide feedback and falsify a deductive premise.

    And again, Darwinists and/or Atheistic Naturalists are notorious for denying empirical evidence any ‘inductive feedback’ authority to falsify their premise of atheistic naturalism. And as such, that makes atheistic naturalism profoundly unscientific and irrational.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note to Atheistic Naturalists denying empirical evidence any ‘inductive feedback’ authority to falsify their premise of atheistic naturalism.

    There Is No Settled “Theory of Evolution” – Cornelius Hunter – November 10, 2022
    Excerpt: What is evolution? The origin of species by: natural selection, random causes, common descent, gradualism, etc. Right?
    Wrong. Too often that is what is taught, but it is false. That’s according to evolutionists themselves. A typical example? See, “The study of evolution is fracturing — and that may be a good thing,” by Lund University biologist Erik Svensson, writing at The Conversation.
    Evolutionists themselves can forfeit natural selection, random causes, common descent, etc. How do I know? Because it is in the literature.
    So, what is evolution? In other words, what is core to the theory — and not forfeitable? It’s naturalism. Period. That is the only thing required of evolutionary theory. And naturalism is a religious requirement, not a scientific one.
    Aside from naturalism, practically anything is fair game: Uncanny convergence, rapid divergence, lineage-specific biology, evolution of evolution, directed mutations, saltationism, unlikely simultaneous mutations, just-so stories, multiverses … the list goes on.
    But this is where it gets interesting. Because if you have two theories, you don’t have one theory. In other words, you have a multitude of contradictory theories. And you have heated debates because nothing seems to fit the data. In science, that is not a good sign. But it is exactly what evolutionists have had — for over a century now.
    There is no such thing as a settled theory of evolution. On that point, textbook orthodoxy is simply false.
    – Dr. Cornelius Hunter – PhD. Biophysics
    https://evolutionnews.org/2022/11/there-is-no-settled-theory-of-evolution/

    “Being an evolutionist means there is no bad news. If new species appear abruptly in the fossil record, that just means evolution operates in spurts. If species then persist for eons with little modification, that just means evolution takes long breaks. If clever mechanisms are discovered in biology, that just means evolution is smarter than we imagined. If strikingly similar designs are found in distant species, that just means evolution repeats itself. If significant differences are found in allied species, that just means evolution sometimes introduces new designs rapidly. If no likely mechanism can be found for the large-scale change evolution requires, that just means evolution is mysterious. If adaptation responds to environmental signals, that just means evolution has more foresight than was thought. If major predictions of evolution are found to be false, that just means evolution is more complex than we thought.”
    ~ Cornelius Hunter

    Here are a few falsifications of Darwin’s theory that Darwinists simply ignore as if they do not matter,

    1. Darwin’s theory holds mutations to the genome to be random. The vast majority of mutations to the genome are not random but are now found to be ‘directed’.

    2. Darwin’s theory holds that Natural Selection is the ‘designer substitute’ that produces the ‘appearance’ and/or illusion of design. Natural Selection, especially for multicellular organisms, is found to be grossly inadequate as the ‘designer substitute.

    3. Darwin’s theory holds that mutations to DNA will eventually change the basic biological form of any given species into a new form of a brand new species. Yet, biological form is found to be irreducible to mutations to DNA, nor is biological form reducible to any other material particulars in biology one may wish to invoke.

    4. Darwin’s theory, (via Fisher’s Theorem in population genetics), assumed there to be an equal proportion of good and bad mutations to DNA which were, ultimately, responsible for all the diversity and complexity of life we see on earth. Yet, the ratio of detrimental to beneficial mutations is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial, information building, mutations whatsoever.

    5. Charles Darwin himself held that the gradual unfolding of life would (someday) be self-evident in the fossil record. Yet, from the Cambrian Explosion onward, the fossil record is consistently characterized by the sudden appearance of a group/kind in the fossil record, (i.e. disparity), then rapid diversity within the group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall group/kind, and within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. Moreover, Fossils are found in the “wrong place” all the time (either too early, or too late).

    6. Darwin’s theory, due to the randomness postulate, holds that patterns will not repeat themselves in supposedly widely divergent species. Yet thousands of instances of what is ironically called ‘convergent evolution’, on both the morphological and genetic level, falsifies the Darwinian belief that patterns will not repeat themselves in widely divergent species.

    7. Charles Darwin himself stated that “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Yet as Doug Axe pointed out, “Basically every gene and every new protein fold, there is nothing of significance that we can show that can be had in that gradualistic way. It’s all a mirage. None of it happens that way.”

    8. Charles Darwin himself stated that “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection.” Yet as Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig pointed out, “in thousands of plant species often entirely new organs have been formed for the exclusive good of more than 132,930 other species, these ‘ugly facts’ have annihilated Darwin’s theory as well as modern versions of it.”

    9. Charles Darwin himself stated that, ““The impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God. Yet ‘our conscious selves’ are certainly not explainable by ‘chance’ (nor is consciousness explainable by any possible reductive materialistic explanation in general), i.e. ‘the hard problem of consciousness’.

    10. Besides the mathematics of probability consistently showing that Darwinian evolution is impossible, the mathematics of population genetics itself has now shown Darwinian evolution to be impossible. Moreover, ‘immaterial’ mathematics itself, which undergirds all of science, engineering and technology, is held by most mathematicians to exist in some timeless, unchanging, immaterial, Platonic realm. Yet, the reductive materialism that Darwinian theory is based upon denies the existence of the immaterial realm that mathematics exists in. i.e. Darwinian evolution actually denies the objective reality of the one thing, i.e. mathematics, that it most needs in order to be considered scientific in the first place!

    11. Donald Hoffman has, via population genetics, shown that if Darwin’s materialistic theory were true then all our observations of reality would be illusory. Yet the scientific method itself is based on reliable observation. Moreover, Quantum Mechanics itself has now shown that conscious observation must come before material reality, i.e. falsification of ‘realism’ proves that our conscious observations are reliable!.

    12. The reductive materialism that undergirds Darwinian thought holds that immaterial information is merely ’emergent’ from a material basis. Yet immaterial Information, via experimental realization of the “Maxwell’s Demon” thought experiment, is now found to be its own distinctive physical entity that, although it can interact in a ‘top down’ manner with matter and energy, is separate from matter and energy.

    13. Darwinists hold that Darwin’s theory is true. Yet ‘Truth’ itself is an abstract property of an immaterial mind that is irreducible to the reductive materialistic explanations of Darwinian evolution. i.e. Assuming reductive materialism and/or Naturalism as the starting philosophical position of science actually precludes ‘the truth’ from ever being reached by science!

    14. Darwinists, due to their underlying naturalistic philosophy, insist that teleology (i.e. goal directed purpose) does not exist. Yet it is impossible for Biologists to do biological research without constantly invoking words that directly imply teleology. i.e. The very words that Biologists themselves are forced to use when they are doing their research falsifies Darwinian evolution.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1I6fT6ATY700Bsx2-JSFqL6l-rzXpMcZcZKZfYRS45h4/edit

  17. 17
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @14

    You are, of course, and as usual, wrong. Inductive reasoning is indeed included in the ‘deductive’ feedback loop you’ve indicated.

    1. If hypothesis H were the case, that would entail observation O.
    2. But we do not observe O.
    3. Therefore, H is not the case.

    i.e. As you yourself indicated in your deductive argument, “bottom up” empirical evidence and/or observation, via step 2, is given ‘inductive’, i.e. ‘bottom-up’, authority to provide feedback and falsify a deductive premise.

    Making a single observation is not the same as inductive reasoning, which involves generalizing over multiple instances. Observations must have epistemic authority in order to count as reasons for falsifying a hypothesis, but they aren’t premises or conclusions in an inductive argument.

    (By the way, there’s no such thing as a deductive premise or inductive premise: what makes an argument inductive or deductive is the form of the argument, not the content of the individual premises.)

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    PM1, again, your arguments might be far more persuasive to people here on UD if you were actually in control of your thoughts and you had the capacity to think rationally. Again, just a suggestion. Do with the suggestion what you will, (that is if ‘you’ can will yourself to do differently than what the random jostling of atoms of your brain tell you to do) 🙂

    Again, “you’, (again assuming “you” exist as a real person and not as a neuronal illusion), are of course, and as usual, wrong.

    In your example, there is indeed an inductive ‘bottom-up’ feedback loop of empirical observation, “O”, that is given the authority to falsify premise “H” in the deductive argument. “You” saying that, “Making a single observation is not the same as inductive reasoning, which involves generalizing over multiple instances”, that claim from you is just a plain, and simple, flat out lie on your part (which is becoming a recurring theme with you), and that lie from you certainly does not negate the fact that a bottom up inductive inference is certainly being made from “O” to falsify the general claim “H”.,,, Having multiple instance of empirical observations “O” that, in a ‘bottom-up’ fashion, falsify the general claim “H” only makes the inductive inference that “H” is false more secure. And indeed, in the real world of empirical science, and for the vast majority of times, it takes multiple instances of “H” being experimentally falsified by “O” to completely invalidate “H” as a claim.

    And having worked in the chemical industry for years, trouble-shooting and fixing various problems in chemical plants, I can most certainly tell you that ‘bottom-up’ empirical falsification was our bread and butter for sorting through various possible causes for a problem in order to find the correct cause of the problem and fix it. i.e. We were constantly ‘reasoning up’, in a ‘bottom-up’ inductive fashion, from empirical observation in order to sort through various possible causes of a problem in order to eliminate the wrong ones and find the right cause of the problem.

  19. 19
    Origenes says:

    PM1:

    From which it follows, as Popper makes very clear, that it is not logically possible to ever confirm a scientific hypotheses. All hypotheses fall into one of three categories: falsified, not yet falsified, and not even falsifiable.

    Popper wrote:

    “Scientific theories can never be ‘justified’, or verified. (p.317)” [Popper ‘The logic of Scientific Discovery’]

    My concern with this is that Popper’s claim is itself well within the realm of science. IOW the claim itself is a scientific theory/hypothesis.
    So, we can (and must) apply it to itself, thus:

    1. Scientific theories can never be ‘justified’, or verified.
    2. [“Scientific theories can never be ‘justified’, or verified”] is a scientific theory.

    From (1) and (2)

    3. [“Scientific theories can never be ‘justified’, or verified”] can never be ‘justified’, or verified.

  20. 20
    Origenes says:

    More Popper:

    ‘The problem of induction consists in asking for a logical justification of universal statements about reality . . . We recognize, with Hume, that there is no such logical justification: there can be none, simply because they are not genuine statements.’ [p.14 The Logic of Science’]

    So, Popper is saying: universal statements about reality have no logical justification and are not genuine statements.
    However, this statement is itself a universal statement about reality. So, It can (again) be applied to itself, and commit suicide. That is, it follows that the statement itself has no logical justification and is not a genuine statement …
    For me this is typically Popper, a few years back I found dozens of statements by him to be self-referentially incoherent. I’m quite sure I have posted them on this forum, but I cannot find that particular post.

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    Thanks for pointing out Popper’s ‘philosophical overreach’ Origenes. I had an inkling of it, but I did not know just how bad his overreach actually was.

    As to this one self-refuting claim in particular, “Scientific theories can never be ‘justified’, or verified. (p.317)” [Popper ‘The logic of Scientific Discovery’]

    1. Scientific theories can never be ‘justified’, or verified.
    2. [“Scientific theories can never be ‘justified’, or verified”] is a scientific theory.
    From (1) and (2)
    3. “Scientific theories can never be ‘justified’, or verified” (is a scientific theory that) can never be ‘justified’, or verified.

    And we can even include this following claim from Popper to falsify that preceding claim that he made,, i.e.,,, “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable: and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”

    “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable: and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”
    – Karl R. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery

    And from that we get,

    1. For a scientific statement to speak about reality it must be experimentally falsifiable.
    2 “Scientific theories can never be ‘justified’, or verified” is a scientific statement.
    3. Yet “Scientific theories can never be ‘justified’, or verified” can’t be experimentally falsified.
    4. Therefore, “Scientific theories can never be ‘justified’, or verified” does not speak about reality.

    Moreover, the reason I take exception to Popper’s blanket claim that “Scientific theories can never be ‘justified’, or verified”” is that Special Relativity, General Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics have all been through nothing less than ‘experimental hell’. And yet those mathematical theories have come through ‘experimental hell’ unscathed. i.e. Although Herculean experimental efforts have been made trying to find any discrepancy between what the mathematics of those theories predict, and what we experimentally observe, there is simply no discrepancy to be found in the mathematical predictions of the theories and the observations of our experiments. (with the caveat, of course, being, as far as measurement accuracy will allow us to tell)

    “Recent experiments have confirmed, to within one part in one hundred million billion (10^17), that the speed of light does not change when an observer is in motion.”
    Douglas Ell – “Counting To God” – pg. 41 – 2014

    Experiment with speeding ions verifies relativistic time dilation to new level of precision – Sept. 19, 2014
    Excerpt: A team of researchers,, have conducted an experiment using ions pushed to 40 percent of the speed of light to verify time dilation to a new level of precision.,,
    the team describes how their experiment was conducted and how it allowed them to validate the time dilation prediction to just a few parts per billion.,,,
    The experiment allowed for measuring the shift in laser frequencies relative to what the transition frequencies would be for ions that had not been accelerated. By combining the two frequency shifts, uncertainties could be eliminated making it possible to validate time dilation predictions to an order of precision much higher than previous limits,,
    http://phys.org/news/2014-09-i.....ision.html

    “When this paper was published (referring to the circa 1970 Hawking, Penrose paper) we could only prove General Relativity’s reliability to 1% precision, today we can prove it to 15 places of decimal.”
    Hugh Ross PhD. Astrophysics – quote taken from 8:40 mark of the following video debate
    – Hugh Ross vs Lewis Wolpert – Is there evidence for a Cosmic Creator
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLMrDO0_WvQ

    Dark energy alternatives to Einstein are running out of room – January 9, 2013
    Excerpt: Last month, a group of European astronomers, using a massive radio telescope in Germany, made the most accurate measurement of the proton-to-electron mass ratio ever accomplished and found that there has been no change in the ratio to one part in 10 million at a time when the universe was about half its current age, around 7 billion years ago. When Thompson put this new measurement into his calculations, he found that it excluded almost all of the dark energy models using the commonly expected values or parameters.
    If the parameter space or range of values is equated to a football field, then almost the whole field is out of bounds except for a single 2-inch by 2-inch patch at one corner of the field. In fact, most of the allowed values are not even on the field. “In effect, the dark energy theories have been playing on the wrong field,” Thompson said. “The 2-inch square does contain the area that corresponds to no change in the fundamental constants, and that is exactly where Einstein stands.”
    http://phys.org/news/2013-01-d.....-room.html

    Clumped galaxies give General Relativity its toughest test yet – June 24, 2014
    Excerpt: Nearly 100 years since Albert Einstein developed General Relativity, the theory has passed its toughest test yet in explaining the properties of observable Universe. The most precise measurements to date of the strength of gravitational interactions between distant galaxies show perfect consistency with General Relativity’s predictions.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....215938.htm

    Introduction to The Strange World of Quantum Mechanics
    Excerpt: quantum mechanics is the most successful theory that humanity has ever developed; the brightest jewel in our intellectual crown. Quantum mechanics underlies our understanding of atoms, molecules, solids, and nuclei. It is vital for explaining aspects of stellar evolution, chemical reactions, and the interaction of light with matter. It underlies the operation of lasers, transistors, magnets, and superconductors. I could cite reams of evidence backing up these assertions, but I will content myself by describing a single measurement. One electron will be stripped away from a helium atom that is exposed to ultraviolet light below a certain wavelength. This threshold wavelength can be determined experimentally to very high accuracy: it is
    50.425 929 9 ± 0.000 000 4 nanometers.
    The threshold wavelength can also be calculated from quantum mechanics: this prediction is
    50.425 931 0 ± 0.000 002 0 nanometers.
    The agreement between observation and quantum mechanics is extraordinary. If you were to predict the distance from New York to Los Angeles with this accuracy, your prediction would be correct to within the width of your hand. In contrast, classical mechanics predicts that any wavelength of light will strip away an electron, that is, that there will be no threshold at all.
    http://www.oberlin.edu/physics.....intro.html

    Experimental non-classicality of an indivisible quantum system – Zeilinger 2011
    Excerpt: Page 491: “This represents a violation of (Leggett’s) inequality (3) by more than 120 standard deviations, demonstrating that no joint probability distribution is capable of describing our results.” The violation also excludes any non-contextual hidden-variable model. The result does, however, agree well with quantum mechanical predictions, as we will show now.,,,
    https://vcq.quantum.at/fileadmin/Publications/Experimental%20non-classicality%20of%20an%20indivisible.pdf

    These are just crazy, almost incomprehensible, levels of experimental verification.

    To give a glimpse of just how insanely precise the measurement of 120 standard deviations is for ‘Leggett’s Inequality’,,, (which is the main line of experiments from quantum mechanics that have falsified “realism”,,, Of note:”realism’ is the belief that an objective reality exist apart from our ‘measurement and/or observation’ of it))

    Standard deviation
    Excerpt: In statistics, the standard deviation (SD) (represented by the Greek letter sigma, ?),,,
    Particle physics uses a standard of “5 sigma” for the declaration of a discovery.[3] At five-sigma there is only one chance in nearly two million that a random fluctuation would yield the result.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....le_physics

    SSDD: a 22 sigma event is consistent with the physics of fair coins? – June 23, 2013
    Excerpt: So 500 coins heads is (500-250)/11 = 22 standard deviations (22 sigma) from expectation! These numbers are so extreme, it’s probably inappropriate to even use the normal distribution’s approximation of the binomial distribution, and hence “22 sigma” just becomes a figure of speech in this extreme case…
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....air-coins/

    Again, 120 standard deviations for Leggett’s inequality, is just a crazy, almost incomprehensible, level of experimental verification.

    So thus my objection to Popper’s blanket claim, “Scientific theories can never be ‘justified’, or verified” is that, (besides being a self-refuting statement), “by golly, special relativity, general relativity, and quantum mechanics” have all been through ‘experimental hell’, and their mathematical predictions have been experimentally verified’ to insane levels of precision, and therefore we certainly are ‘justified’ in believing that they are accurate mathematical descriptions of reality.And until someone/anyone, can find any discrepancy in the theories, the belief that we now have, (what I have termed), ‘platonically perfect’ mathematical descriptions of the universe is a well ‘justified’ belief.

    1 Thessalonians 5:21
    Test all things; hold fast what is good.

  22. 22
    Origenes says:

    Bornagain77 @

    I agree with your analysis.
    It seems to me that Popper’s claim can be paraphrased as: “we can never be certain about anything”, which applied to itself is, of course, a full-blown self-referentially incoherent statement.
    People often wrongly assume they occupy a position independent of what they are talking about. We have both witnessed some extreme examples of this phenomenon in the past couple of days. E.g. how can someone claim that he doesn’t **think** that rationality requires control over his thoughts? How does that not lead to a ‘self-referentially incoherent experience’?

    BTW I found one ‘Popper-makes-self-referentially-incoherent-statements-post‘, this one contains just 8 statements; there must be other posts on this subject.

  23. 23
    Alan Fox says:

    And having worked in the chemical industry for years, trouble-shooting and fixing various problems in chemical plants…

    Another engineer! One more data point for my hypothesis. 😉

  24. 24
    bornagain77 says:

    AF: “One more data point for my hypothesis.”

    Correction, one more data point for your “niche’s” hypothesis.

    BA77: “So AF holds that the ‘niche”, not AF himself, is responsible for the information that he himself is writing in his posts?”

    Alan Fox: “Yes, sort of, though I don’t know,,,”
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/at-evolution-news-for-darwinism-pregnancy-is-the-mother-of-all-chicken-and-egg-problems/#comment-771084

    In other news, AF’s ‘niche’ also holds to the hypothesis that Alan Fox does not actually exist as a real person, but that AF is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’. (Which is, needless to say, bad news for Alan Fox).

    The Confidence of Jerry Coyne – Ross Douthat – January 6, 2014
    Excerpt: But then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession (by Coyne) that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant: But more on that below.) Prometheus cannot be at once unbound and unreal; the human will cannot be simultaneously triumphant and imaginary.
    https://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/06/the-confidence-of-jerry-coyne/?mcubz=3

    The Brain: The Mystery of Consciousness – Monday, Jan. 29, 2007
    Part II The Illusion Of Control
    Another startling conclusion from the science of consciousness is that the intuitive feeling we have that there’s an executive “I” that sits in a control room of our brain, scanning the screens of the senses and pushing the buttons of the muscles, is an illusion.
    – Steven Pinker – Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University
    http://www.academia.edu/279485.....sciousness

  25. 25
    Alan Fox says:

    @ Phil

    I’ve just checked and I’m alive and well, comfortably ensconced in my self-designed and constructed niche.

  26. 26
    Alan Fox says:

    Another startling conclusion from the science of consciousness is that the intuitive feeling we have that there’s an executive “I” that sits in a control room of our brain, scanning the screens of the senses and pushing the buttons of the muscles, is an illusion.

    Does Phil agree with Stephen Pinker? Startling? More like obvious, I would say.

  27. 27
    Alan Fox says:

    Phil asked previously:

    So AF holds that the ‘niche”, not AF himself, is responsible for the information that he himself is writing in his posts?

    To which I replied:

    Yes, sort of, though I don’t know…

    To help Phil, let me expand. I don’t know how life got started on this planet, but I am convinced all existant and extinct life we know of share a common ancestor. The adaptation to available niches led to the diversity of life and to the appearance of humans. Of course I don’t know every detail of the process. Nor do I know how tightly we are bound by our physical make-up that makes us human. I reject strict determinance and I am convinced humans have the constrained ability to make choices. Part of that constraint stems from our physical make-up such as our cognitive capacity which are products of an evolutionary pathway. Hence “sort of”.

  28. 28
    bornagain77 says:

    Alan Fox tries to have his cake and eat it to,

    AF: “I’ve just checked and I’m alive and well, comfortably ensconced in my self-designed and constructed niche.”

    I know that you exist as a real person, and you most definitely know that you exist as a real person. In fact, the fact that you really do exist as a real person is the most certain thing that you can possibly know about reality, (Descartes). But alas, your worldview of Atheistic Naturalism itself is what cannot possibly ground your existence as a real person. Much less, since Atheistic Naturalism denies the existence of agent causality, and/or free will, can your Atheistic worldview possibly ground you ‘self-designing’ your own “constructed niche”. i.e. Your beef is with your Atheistic worldview, not with me. I know that you exist and that you, as a causal agent, bring about ‘intelligent’ effects in the world that have no possible naturalistic explanation. Every single sentence that you write is undeniable evidence that you are a real person who, via your free will, brings about real, and intelligent, effects in the world.

    (1.) I do something.
    (2.) A thing that does not exist cannot do something —— from nothing nothing comes.
    From (1.) and (2.)
    (3.) I exist
    https://uncommondescent.com/cosmology/from-iai-news-how-infinity-threatens-cosmology/#comment-766606

    You can try, and indeed you have tried, to trivially rationalize, and/or ‘hand-wave’, these fatal problems away as if they are no big deal for your worldview of Atheistic Naturalism, yet these ‘problems’, no matter how much you may try to ignore them, and/or rationalize them away, are catastrophically fatal for your worldview. And if you are to maintain a shred of intellectual honesty, even a shred of intellectual sanity, you are forced, (indeed you should be more than willing), to give up the sheer insanity inherent in your ‘chosen’ worldview of Atheistic Naturalism and adopt a worldview that can reasonably, and sanely, ground your existence as a real person who brings about real effects in the world. i.e. Ground your existence as a real person who, via their free will and/or agent causality, has the capacity to bring about about real, and intelligent, effects in the world.

    Might I suggest Judeo-Christian Theism as an alternate, and sane, worldview that can ground your existence as a real person who, via your free will, brings about real, and intelligent, effects in the world?

    Comprehensibility of the world
    Excerpt: ,,, Bottom line: without an absolute Truth (i.e. God), (there would be) no logic, no mathematics, no beings, no knowledge by beings, no science, no comprehensibility of the world whatsoever.
    https://uncommondescent.com/mathematics/comprehensibility-of-the-world/

    The Great Debate: Does God Exist? – Justin Holcomb – audio of the 1985 Greg Bahnsen debate available at the bottom of the site
    Excerpt: When we go to look at the different world views that atheists and theists have, I suggest we can prove the existence of God from the impossibility of the contrary.
    The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight.,,,
    http://justinholcomb.com/2012/.....god-exist/

    Verse:

    Genesis 2:7
    Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

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

    “It is because we, (as souls), have a faculty of (immaterial) mind that we are capable of having concepts, thoughts, beliefs,,, things like that.”,,,
    – J.P. Moreland – Is the Soul Immortal?
    https://youtu.be/QzbdT0GxAdk?t=209

  29. 29
    Origenes says:

    Bornagain @28, Alan Fox

    I know that you exist as a real person, and you most definitely know that you exist as a real person. In fact, the fact that you really do exist as a real person is the most certain thing that you can possibly know about reality, (Descartes).

    One’s existence must necessarily be one’s most certain truth. For any person, the existence of “I” cannot be doubted in principle, precisely because, there is no position a person can occupy independent from “I”. The “I” is no object between objects.

    Everything external to the “I” can be doubted, without being self-referentially incoherent. Life on earth can be thought of as an “illusion”; a dream.

    One cannot draw a circle around “I” and proceed with arrogating oneself a position outside the circle and judge the existence of “I”. There is no outside of the circle, one does not have an ontological right to assume a position independent of the “I”.

    Everything external to the “I” can be doubted, without being self-referentially incoherent. To think that solipsism is true is anything but self-referentially incoherent. Life on earth can be coherently thought of as an illusion, it could be part of a dream.

    There is but one thing which cannot possibly be an illusion: the “I”.

    Daniel Dennett: Consciousness is an illusion.

    Bill Vallicella: Consciousness cannot be an illusion for the simple reason that we presuppose it when we distinguish between reality and illusion. An illusion is an illusion to consciousness, so that if there were no consciousness there would be no illusions either.

  30. 30
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @19

    My concern with this is that Popper’s claim is itself well within the realm of science. IOW the claim itself is a scientific theory/hypothesis.

    I don’t think there’s any danger of self-referential incoherence in Popper. He is making claims about science, not making a scientific claim. (Which is not to say that scientists themselves can’t or don’t also make claims about science.)

    There are some good reasons for rejecting Popper’s philosophy of science (as Bornagain77 notes with his remarks about the importance of induction in scientific practice), but I don’t think that the allegation of self-referential incoherence is one of them.

    What I like in Popper is his admiration for the epistemic virtues of good scientific practice: creativity, tenacity, a willingness to allow the universe to prove that you are mistaken about your most cherished beliefs. I just think he was mistaken to reject the importance of induction. He took Hume’s problem of induction too seriously.

    Rather, I think that good scientific practice requires an interdependence between abduction, deduction, and induction: abduction for recognizing the explanatory role that a hypothesis needs to play, deduction for testing those hypotheses as rigorously as possible, and induction for determining the degree to which to the data confirm the hypothesis.

    A bit off-topic, but some of you might be interested in this book about how we came up with the very idea of such a thing as “the scientific method”. A major figure in this history is William Whewell, a British polymath who coined, among other words, the English word “scientist”. (Prior to this, scientists were called “men of science” or “natural philosophers.”)

  31. 31
    bornagain77 says:

    “I don’t think there’s any danger of self-referential incoherence in Popper.”

    Boldly proclaims the person who also claims that he has no control over his own thoughts

    Origenes: “Does rationality require a person who is in control of his thoughts?”

    PM1: “No, I don’t think so.”
    https://uncommondescent.com/mind/the-thought-that-stops-thought/#comment-771074
    also see Origenes response to PMI at post 72 of the same thread

    i.e. Why in blue blazes should anyone take you seriously PM1? You are not in control of what you are saying! 🙂

  32. 32
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @31

    Why in blue blazes should anyone take you seriously PM1? You are not in control of what you are saying!

    Of course I’m in control of what I’m saying, especially when writing, when one has the luxury of erasing and rewriting an inapposite turn of phrase.

    And control of what one says is exactly what I asserted we do have, as you would know if you were follow a line of thought beyond a single quotable sentence.

    Self-control consists precisely in the ability to decide whether or not to say what one thinks, and if so, how to say it — as well as in the ability to decide whether or not to act on one’s desires, and if so, how to do so.

    I know it’s quite crucial to your worldview that naturalists cannot endorse agent causation, but since I am a naturalist who does endorse agent causation (see here), you might consider whether you understand naturalism as well as you think you do.

  33. 33
    bornagain77 says:

    Well PM1, I don’t blame you for backtracking on your quoted statement, and now claiming you are an atheistic naturalist who endorses agent causation. (after all, It is par for the course for atheists to believe in contradictory things, indeed an atheist must believe in contradictory things if he is to live his life with any semblance of sanity),

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt: ,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    https://www.sott.net/article/260160-The-Heretic-Who-is-Thomas-Nagel-and-why-are-so-many-of-his-fellow-academics-condemning-him

    But alas, the only way atheistic naturalism can be made compatible with agent causation, and/or free will, is if Baron Munchausen really does have the ability to pulls himself free out of a swamp by his own pigtail.
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pull_oneself_up_by_one%27s_bootstraps
    i.e. It just ain’t gonna happen no matter how much you may hope/imagine, it to happen. You are simply up to your neck in the swampy morass of insane atheistic metaphysics and no amount of pulling on your own pigtail is ever going to free you from catastrophic epistemological failure inherent therein.

    Of supplemental note, even leading atheists have honestly admitted that it is impossible for them to live their lives as if they do not have free will,

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

  34. 34
    Origenes says:

    PM1 @

    I don’t think there’s any danger of self-referential incoherence in Popper.

    Don’t just assume based on authority. Observe and draw your own conclusions.

    Popper: “All knowledge remains conjectural.”

    Popper’s central thesis and it is obviously self-referentially incoherent, but if you cannot decide for yourself, don’t take it from me, here is N. Dykes:

    More pointedly, the proposition “all knowledge remains conjectural” is a contradiction in terms. The objection gathers strength when one notices that Popper’s proposition is itself not conjectural. Universal and affirmative, it states that “All knowledge remains conjectural” – which is a claim to knowledge. The proposition thus asserts what it denies and is self-contradictory on a second count.
    [Nicholas Dykes, ‘Debunking Popper: A. Critique of Karl Popper’s Critical Rationalism’.]

    More self-referentially incoherent stuff from Popper :

    “The way in which knowledge progresses, and especially our scientific knowledge, is by unjustified (and unjustifiable) anticipations, by guesses, by tentative solutions to our problems, by conjectures. These conjectures are controlled by criticism; that is, by attempted refutations, which include severely critical tests. They may survive these tests; but they can never be positively justified: they can be established neither as certainly true nor even as ‘probable’ …” (C&R vii). Elsewhere, Popper put the matter more succinctly: “all knowledge is hypothetical” (OKN 30) or “All knowledge remains … conjectural” (RASC xxxv); and it is in the form ‘all knowledge is conjectural’ that the essence of his philosophy has been captured – and has influenced others.”

  35. 35
    Origenes says:

    Follow-up #34

    : “The quest for certainty.. . is mistaken …. though we may seek for truth … we can never be quite certain that we have found it” (OSE2 375). “No particular theory may ever be regarded as absolutely certain …. No scientific theory is sacrosanct …” (OKN 360).
    “Precision and certainty are false ideals. They are impossible to attain and therefore dangerously misleading …” (UNQ 24). He summed up with an oft repeated aphorism: “We never know what we are talking about” (UNQ 27).
    Accordingly, Popper refused to grant any philosophical value to definitions: “Definitions do not play any very important part in science …. Our ‘scientific knowledge’ … remains entirely unaffected if we eliminate all definitions”
    (OSE2 14). “Definitions never give any factual knowledge about ‘nature’ or about the ‘nature of things”‘ (C&R 20-21). “Definitions …. are never really needed, and rarely of any use” (RASC xxxvi).

  36. 36
    Seversky says:

    Origenes/29

    There is but one thing which cannot possibly be an illusion: the “I”

    If it were found to be possible for self-awareness to emerge from a sufficiently complex computer simulation then it might be possible that we are no more than avatars running on some vast cosmic computational system. In that case, how “real” can we say that “I” is? How certain is our “knowledge” of self?

  37. 37
    Seversky says:

    Origenes/34

    Popper’s central thesis and it is obviously self-referentially incoherent, but if you cannot decide for yourself, don’t take it from me, here is N. Dykes:

    More pointedly, the proposition “all knowledge remains conjectural” is a contradiction in terms. The objection gathers strength when one notices that Popper’s proposition is itself not conjectural. Universal and affirmative, it states that “All knowledge remains conjectural” – which is a claim to knowledge. The proposition thus asserts what it denies and is self-contradictory on a second count.
    [Nicholas Dykes, ‘Debunking Popper: A. Critique of Karl Popper’s Critical Rationalism’.]

    Does Popper specifically exclude his own proposition? If not then the claim that all knowledge is conjectural can include itself without raising a contradiction. In effect, what Popper is claiming is that, while we can have greater confidence in the truth of some propositions rather than others, in no case does that confidence rise to a justifiable level of absolute certainty.

  38. 38
    Origenes says:

    Seversky:

    In effect, what Popper is claiming is that, while we can have greater confidence in the truth of some propositions rather than others, in no case does that confidence rise to a justifiable level of absolute certainty.

    So, Seversky, you are saying: “we cannot be certain about any proposition”, right? It seems to mean the same thing as Popper’s “all knowledge remains conjectural.”

    Here we go again:

    1. We cannot be certain about any proposition.
    2. [“We cannot be certain about any proposition”] is a proposition (universal & affirmative BTW).
    3. We cannot be certain about [“We cannot be certain about any proposition”].

    – – – –
    These attempts come awfully close to the mother of all self-contradictory statements: “true statements do not exist” or “truth does not exist.” One is well-advised to stay as far away as possible from that whopper.

  39. 39
    Origenes says:

    Seversky, 36@

    If it were found to be possible for self-awareness to emerge from a sufficiently complex computer simulation then it might be possible that we are no more than avatars running on some vast cosmic computational system. In that case, how “real” can we say that “I” is? How certain is our “knowledge” of self?

    One would still be unable to doubt one’s existence. Nothing can change that.
    A question for you:
    Suppose your scenario, suppose that one day a computer acts on its own accord. Suppose it creates new code that cannot be traced back to a programmer. What would be the materialistic/physical explanation for that? What would be identified as the physical source of the new code?

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    PM1:

    But Popper thinks that that’s how inductive reasoning works, in the following way. The inductivist is someone who reasons:

    1. If hypothesis H were true, then observation O would follow.
    2. We observe O.
    3. Therefore, H is true.

    Popper thinks that the inductivist is making a logically invalid argument because the two argument schemas are the same.

    This is actually a strawman on Newton (and Locke etc). Here is Newton in Opticks, Query 31.

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For [speculative, empirically ungrounded] Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. [–> this for instance speaks to how Newtonian Dynamics works well for the large, slow moving bodies case, but is now limited by relativity and quantum findings] By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving [= testing, the older sense of “prove” . . . i.e. he anticipates Lakatos on progressive vs degenerative research programmes and the pivotal importance of predictive success of the dynamic models in our theories in establishing empirical reliability, thus trustworthiness and utility] the Explanations. [Newton in Opticks, 1704, Query 31, emphases and notes added]

    It is better to see this as an argument on empirical support, backed by observed reliability, driven by the underlying thesis of a generally orderly, in key part intelligible world. That, as you know, comes from the Judaeo-Christian worldview that God holds all things together by his word of power. Hence, laws of nature.

    Obviously, Newton and others are open to correction and recognise that results are subject to such further observations.

    Warrant, to be knowledge in the commonly used sense, does not have to be certain, just well founded and reliable. I have described this as weak form/sense knowledge. The kind we have from history, courts, serious news reporting, medicine, common sense, science.

    Warranted, credibly true (and so, reliable) belief.

    Knowledge, after all, is a term from ordinary usage, and it is a common, widespread phenomenon. The sort of tightened claims I have seen, turn it into a rare phenomenon. That difference is telling, these are distinct phenomena.

    KF

    PS, Dallas Willard:

    To have knowledge in the dispositional sense—where you know things you are not necessarily thinking about at the time—is to be able to represent something as it is on an adequate basis of thought or experience, not to exclude communications from qualified sources (“authority”). This is the “knowledge” of ordinary life, and it is what you expect of your electrician, auto mechanic, math teacher, and physician. Knowledge is not rare, and it is not esoteric . . . no satisfactory general description of “an adequate basis of thought or experience” has ever been achieved. We are nevertheless able to determine in many specific types of cases that such a basis is or is not present [p.19] . . . .

    Knowledge, but not mere belief or feeling, generally confers the right to act and to direct action, or even to form and supervise policy. [p. 20]

    In any area of human activity, knowledge brings certain advantages. Special considerations aside, knowledge authorizes one to act, to direct action, to develop and supervise policy, and to teach. It does so because, as everyone assumes, it enables us to deal more successfully with reality: with what we can count on, have to deal with, or are apt to have bruising encounters with. Knowledge involves assured [–> warranted, credible] truth, and truth in our representations and beliefs is very like accuracy in the sighting mechanism on a gun. If the mechanism is accurately aligned—is “true,” it enables those who use it with care to hit an intended target. [p. 4, Dallas Willard & Literary Heirs, The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge, Routledge|Taylor& Francis Group, 2018. ]

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev:

    what Popper is claiming is that, while we can have greater confidence in the truth of some propositions rather than others, in no case does that confidence rise to a justifiable level of absolute certainty

    Thus, self referential and self defeating.

    What is warranted is to claim that weak sense knowledge, though tested and reliable, is in principle generally defeasible. That is, it is an act of supported belief. However, there are some things that are utterly certain, especially the self evident.

    It is also warranted to say, we have had many things once widely thought to be pretty certain knowledge, corrected. Newtonian dynamics is case no 1.

    We walk by faith and not by sight, indeed.

    KF

  42. 42
    Origenes says:

    Seversky@ // follow-up #39

    If it were found to be possible for self-awareness to emerge from a sufficiently complex computer simulation then it might be possible that we are no more than avatars running on some vast cosmic computational system. In that case, how “real” can we say that “I” is? How certain is our “knowledge” of self?

    Ori: One would still be unable to doubt one’s existence. Nothing can change that.

    Cogito, “I do something, therefore, I exist”, cannot be doubted, but it does not provide us with a defined knowledge of “I” and/or existence.
    Surely, “what is consciousness?”, “what is being?” are still questions to be answered. So, does one know what one is talking about when one concludes “I exist”? Perhaps that is your larger point here.

    I would say that Descartes’ argument functions because the terms it uses are general, “wide enough” to encompass all possible coherent definitions of “I” and “existence.” Whatever “I” precisely is, whatever “do something” precisely is, whatever “existence” precisely is, the argument holds.
    The terms are like icebergs and although we cannot see the (larger) parts below the water line, we still know that we must be right.

  43. 43
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @34

    The paper by Dykes is clearly argued and it suggests that Popper’s critical rationalism depends upon assumptions he inherits from Hume and from Kant. And I agree with Dykes that those assumptions are questionable — if one were to reject those starting-points, Popper’s critical rationalism is much harder to defend. But, Dykes doesn’t do much to justify his preferred starting-point, either.

    I agree with Dykes that if one assumes an ontology in which there are things with essences and those things endure over time, then Hume’s riddle of induction just disappears. Hume’s riddle of induction depends upon an ontology of separate, discrete events, where all connections between them are only psychological projections. (Kant basically shares the same underlying ontology of sense-impressions: they are separate unconnected events and all connections between them are a result of the mind imposing order on sensory chaos.)

    That said, I don’t share Dykes’s assurance that it’s just obvious that a thing-ontology is true and an event-ontology is false. I think that one would still need an argument for why we ought to prefer an ontology of things over an ontology of events, and then use that to motivate a critique of Hume and Kant.

    I’m no expert on Popper, so I’ll leave aside whether Dykes is right to say that Popper depends on Hume and Kant. But for a counter-point to Dykes, I did find this: A Refutation of Nicholas Dykes on Karl Popper. Might be worth your time.

    I suspect that Dykes misses Popper’s point when he says that Marxism and psychoanalysis were not irrefutable but were decisively refuted (pp 12-13). When Popper says that Marxism and psychoanalysis are pseudosciences, he’s talking about the attitude held by the advocates of those doctrines. As Popper sees it, the real problem with Marxists and Freudians is that they are unable to imagine ever being wrong. That is, for Popper, the opposite of the proper scientific attitude: a scientist is always inviting reality to prove them wrong, and will do everything they can do discard their own favorite hypotheses.

    It’s surely no inconsistency for Popper to have held that Marxism was at one point a science because Marxists had regarded their hypotheses as tentative conjectures that could be tested against reality, and that Marxism ceased to be a science when the propositions of Marx and Engels became self-confirming dogma.

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    PM1, of course one can always manufacture an invitation to the grand delusion thesis and say, prove me wrong. The problem is not with the power of assertion it is one of the roots of the hard question nature of philosophy, self-referentiality. We exist, undeniably; by memory and observation, we are going concern entities (of finite lifespan). We are capable of reasoning, and anything that casts hyperskeptical doubt on that is self referential. Which is precisely where we are with this case. The argument would “prove” too much, undermining reason thus the arguer from Hume forward to Popper et al. Skepticism, especially in hyper forms, of course, is an inferior good substitute for due prudence. Which last would reply, any claim that asserts, implies or opens the door to grand delusion may be set aside as self referentially absurd thus self defeating. There is no reason to dismiss distinct identity (foundational to logic), or the stability or continuity of beings with core characteristics. In that context, it is unsurprising to see patterns that are sufficiently consistent to be taken as marks of such characteristics. For instance, in human computer arithmetic techniques, patterns of results from adding, multiplying etc are taken advantage of to greatly speed up and enhance reliability of arithmetic results. That is how my late dad, was able to add three columns of decimal digits to any length, with sufficient speed and reliability that he would habitually mentally cross check calculators. Similarly, there is no good reason to arbitrarily doubt the reliability of the day-night cycle, the seasons, that unsupported heavy objects near Earth’s surface fall at 9.8 N/kg initial acceleration, that this lets us weigh the Earth, or that Stars fall into the Hertzsprung-Russell pattern, etc. Yes, we cannot prove to arbitrarily high absoluteness, but we cannot live by such hyperskepticism. We cannot presume food and water poison unless absolutely proved otherwise, and much more. And even the concept poison implies stable characteristics. KF

  45. 45
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @44

    I would agree up to this point: Hume, whom I more than admire, is very close to what is called in Buddhism “the two truths doctrine”: there is the conventional reality, in which there are both stable and enduring objects, with synchronic and diachronic identity and definite physical properties and stable and enduring selves, with synchronic and diachronic identity and definite mental properties. But there is also ultimate reality, which has neither objects nor subjects, nothing has identity, and there are no properties. We live in conventional reality, but enlightenment consists partly in understanding that conventional reality is not absolute reality.

    As my nom de plume suggests, I find skepticism quite fascinating, especially in the demanding version that has become known as the Dilemma of the Criterion. Overcoming it is one of the most — if not the most — intellectually demanding problems of Western philosophy. It’s been argued that Hegel succeeded, and that Hegel’s solution was given a less metaphysically extravagant reformulation by Peirce. I think that’s basically right.

    I don’t know how we got off on this tangent. Anyway, back to making sense of emergentism!

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    PM1, I have been busy elsewhere. I suggest, distinct identity is the pivot of rationality, without which we cannot even have language much less argument. At logic of being level, it is tied to what it is to be an X, i.e. any particular possible world W is marked out from its typical quite near neighbour W’ by some A such that W – A = W’ and thus we have that there are in common characteristics and distinguishing ones for specific worlds. These being of course sufficiently complete clusters of coherent propositions describing how this or another world is, might be etc. From this, elsewhere I drew out 0, 1, 2 then by von Neumann N, thence Z,Q,R,C,R* etc, leading to universal power of core math, answering Wigner. Distinct identity then has ontological significance for worlds, thoughts and beings. The attempt to sideline it is headed in the self referentially self defeating direction, where yes non contradiction and excluded middle are close corollaries. In particular, a vast infinity of distinct abstract entities and relationships tied to structure and quantity are therefore necessarily present and woven into the fabric of any possible world. Further, the general denial of objective knowledge is itself an objective knowledge claim, is self referential and is self defeating. Instead, that in any world, error is possible, is actual, is itself an undeniable proposition. It is known to incorrigible certainty. So the path is to acknowledge subjective vs objective vs absolute, and to reckon that knowledge is a property of the people and comes in similar degrees. So, weak sense knowledge is warranted [that’s about Gettier etc], credibly true — so, reliable — belief. Reliable is key, and so are warrant and credibility. This defeasible weak sense is true about common sense, perception of ourselves and our orientation as well as the world we inhabit, serious thought, good newspaper reporting, education, courts, history, policy making, medicine, science etc. With Godel and co, even math. For some few items, knowledge becomes certain beyond correction, e.g. self evident first truths. But a worldview cannot be built up from such, they serve as sound plumb line tests. KF

  47. 47
    Origenes says:

    PM1 @45

    As my nom de plume suggests, I find skepticism quite fascinating …

    Skepticism as a philosophy always looked like a self-contradictory project to me, only expressable in self-contradictory statements like “it is not possible to arrive at knowledge” or even worse “true statements do not exist.”
    Not sure why it is still a thing, especially after Descartes undeniably showed that there is at least one thing immune to skeptical undermining — see also my post here.

  48. 48
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @47

    Skepticism as a philosophy always looked like a self-contradictory project to me, only expressable in self-contradictory statements like “it is not possible to arrive at knowledge” or even worse “true statements do not exist.”

    The point of Skepticism is to liberate us from the need to know the ultimate truth of things — to accept that being guided by “the appearances” is sufficient for human happiness. On the Skeptical view, the need to be right about things is a major cause of suffering, conflict, and violence. Overcoming that need, by recognizing that it’s not possible for anyone to know the truth about the world, would make us more contented, tolerant, and peaceable.

    Or so that the Skeptics would us believe. I’m certainly not persuaded — I just think that the Skepticism has gotten a bad reputation that it doesn’t deserve.

    Not sure why it is still a thing, especially after Descartes undeniably showed that there is at least one thing immune to skeptical undermining — see also my post here.

    Descartes’s cogito argument — which he borrowed from Augustine, by the way — at most shows the impossibility of doubting that one is conscious. Some philosophers have argued that he was misled by grammar when he reasoned from “thinking is observed” to “therefore something must exist which is doing that thinking, a thinking thing”.

    But the real question is whether Descartes could reason without circularity from the sheer awareness of having thoughts to any claims about the nature of mind-independent reality.

  49. 49
    Origenes says:

    PM1 @ 48

    The claim, as you formulated it, “it’s not possible for anyone to know the truth about the world” is itself a truth about the world, so what we have here is once again a case of self-contradiction. As I said, skepticism is only expressible in self-contradictory statements.

    My challenge to you: formulate the claim of skepticism without raising self-contradiction. Formulate that truth does not exist, without making a truth statement. Give it your best.

    Descartes’s cogito argument … at most shows the impossibility of doubting that one is conscious.

    Suppose you are right, that spells the end of any ‘ambitious’ skepticism, right?

  50. 50
    Origenes says:

    Stanford article on “Pyrrhonian Skepticism”:

    But some skeptics are skeptics regarding second- (and higher-) order propositions as well as regarding first-order propositions. Following the same ancient tradition, we will call that kind of skepticism “Pyrrhonian Skepticism”. Without any claim to historical accuracy, we will take Pyrrhonian Skepticism to be absolute skepticism—the thesis that suspension of judgment is the only justified attitude with respect to any proposition p. Is Pyrrhonian Skepticism so understood self-refuting?

    Allow me to answer this question:

    (1.) Suspension of judgment is the only justified attitude with respect to ANY proposition p.
    (2.) (1.) is itself a proposition.

    From (1.) and (2.)

    (3.) Suspension of judgment is the only justified attitude with respect to (1.)

    What does conclusion (3.) mean? It means that we do not know whether or not “Suspension of judgment is the only justified attitude with respect to any proposition p” is true. So, applied to itself, proposition (1.) undercuts itself. It is clearly a self-contradictory statement.

    The Stanford article goes on to argue that the proposition “the only justified attitude with respect to the proposition that p is suspension of judgment” is not self-contradictory. I agree with this, of course. Surely, it might be the case that suspension of judgment is the justified attitude towards some particular proposition. However, the claim becomes self-contradictory when it is about ANY proposition (which includes itself).
    So, what is the Stanford article doing here? I really don’t know. Perhaps someone can explain.
    – – – –
    More Stanford:

    Agrippa’s trilemma, then, can be presented thus:

    (1.) If a belief is justified, then it is either a basic justified belief or an inferentially justified belief.
    (2.) There are no basic justified beliefs.

    Therefore,
    (3.) If a belief is justified, then it is justified in virtue of belonging to an inferential chain.
    (4.) All inferential chains are such that either (a) they contain an infinite number of beliefs; or (b) they contain circles; or (c) they contain beliefs that are not justified.
    (5.) No belief is justified in virtue of belonging to an infinite inferential chain.
    (6.) No belief is justified in virtue of belonging to a circular inferential chain.
    (7.) No belief is justified in virtue of belonging to an inferential chain that contains unjustified beliefs.
    Therefore,
    (8.) There are no justified beliefs.

    At first glance (8.) is clearly a self-contradictory statement. But perhaps there is a reason that it cannot be applied to itself? Unwittingly the Stanford article assures us that it can be applied to itself:

    It is interesting to note that Agrippa’s trilemma is perfectly general; in particular, it applies to philosophical positions as well as to ordinary propositions.

    OK! It applies to everything! Well, let’s apply it to itself then:

    (1.) There are no justified beliefs.
    (2.) (1.) is itself a belief.
    From (1.) and (2.)
    (3.) (1.) is not a justified belief.

    What does (3.) mean? It means that it is not justified to hold the belief that there are no justified beliefs. It follows that there are justified beliefs.
    Conclusion: ‘Agrippa’s trilemma’ is perfectly self-refuting nonsense … The Stanford article somehow fails to notice this obvious fact.

  51. 51
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @49 and @50

    I’m no expert in Skepticism (or anything else, really), but based upon my limited reading in the area, here’s a response. Bear in mind please that I’m not trying to defend Skepticism, only explain why I think it’s really fascinating.

    The Dilemma of the Criterion goes something like this: consider any doctrine that purports to contain true claims about the ultimate nature of reality. What justifies this doctrine, such that it would be rational to accept it? Suppose that we need some criterion or standard by which to evaluate this doctrine. If the criterion is itself part of the doctrine, then we’re begging the question. If the criterion is not part of the doctrine, then either it is merely arbitrary or we can ask the question as to what justifies that criterion. Then it would be some other doctrine that justifies the criterion, and we can raise the question of what other criterion justifies that other doctrine that justifies the first criterion, etc.

    One philosopher who puts this dilemma to great effect is Michel de Montaigne in his Apology for Raymond Sebond. Montaigne argues that any claim from a great philosopher of antiquity can be opposed with another claim from an equally great philosopher. We have (he claims) no criteria that would allow us to decide between Platonic idealism, Epicurean atomism, or Stoic pantheism, nor are we entitled to the claims about our own rational powers that would ground Scholastic rational theology.

    Montaigne concludes with fideism: the Christian should accept the teachings of the Church based on faith alone, since reason cannot help us. A century later, Hume would use very similar arguments to come to an anti-fideist conclusion.

    So, in response to this:

    My challenge to you: formulate the claim of skepticism without raising self-contradiction. Formulate that truth does not exist, without making a truth statement. Give it your best.

    The Skeptic claims that it is not possible to justify any doctrine about the ultimate nature of reality. Since that claim is not itself about the ultimate nature of reality, it is not self-contradictory.

  52. 52
    Origenes says:

    PM1@51

    The Skeptic claims that it is not possible to justify any doctrine about the ultimate nature of reality. Since that claim is not itself about the ultimate nature of reality, it is not self-contradictory.

    There is a problem with your claim: how do you know that ‘The Dilemma of the Criterion’ is not about the ultimate nature of reality? In order to make that claim coherently, in order to know what you are talking about, you must hold some belief/doctrine about the ultimate nature of reality, which informs you that ‘The Dilemma of the Criterion’ has no bearing on it. However, according to skepticism, no doctrine about the ultimate nature of reality is justified. According to skepticism, there is no way of knowing what the ultimate nature of reality is, so, there is no way to ascertain which proposition is about it and which is not.
    Your claim “‘The Dilemma of the Criterion’ is not about the ultimate nature of reality” tells us something about the ultimate nature of reality and is therefore a claim about the ultimate nature of reality. A claim that, according to Skepticism, cannot be justified.
    You draw a closed circle around ‘doctrines about the ultimate nature of reality’, and next you arrogate to yourself a position outside of this circle by which you can judge those doctrines. But how do you justify the presumed epistemic right to be outside of this circle? You cannot.

    – – – – –
    Edit:
    It just occurred to me that an even more direct response is available:
    The claim “it is not possible to justify any doctrine about the ultimate nature of reality” tells us something about the ultimate nature of reality. It tells us that the ultimate nature of reality is such that no justified doctrine about is possible.
    Therefore it is incoherent to state that the skeptic’s claim is not about the ultimate nature of reality.

  53. 53
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @52

    There is a problem with your claim: how do you know that ‘The Dilemma of the Criterion’ is not about the ultimate nature of reality? In order to make that claim coherently, in order to know what you are talking about, you must hold some belief/doctrine about the ultimate nature of reality, which informs you that ‘The Dilemma of the Criterion’ has no bearing on it.

    As I understand it, the dilemma of the criterion is about what we say about the ultimate nature of reality, not about the ultimate nature of reality itself. It is a second-order claim, not a first-order claim.

    It’s comparable to the difference between “the cat is on the mat” and “the sentence ‘the cat is on the mat’ is true”: the first sentence is about a state of affairs in the world, and the second sentence is about the first sentence.

    Likewise, the dilemma of the criterion takes metaphysical doctrines as its object and is making a claim about them — that none of them can be justified — which is different from making a claim of metaphysics.

    I don’t know if this is sufficient to refute the charge of self-referential incoherence, but it seems like an important distinction to make.

  54. 54
    Origenes says:

    PM1 @53
    In the Stanford article, in particular concerning Pyrrhonian Skepticism, it is not stated anywhere that Skepticism restricts its focus to ‘doctrines about the ultimate nature of reality.’ On the contrary, it is stated that Pyrrhonian Skepticism is absolute and applies to any claim/proposition:

    “It is interesting to note that Agrippa’s trilemma is perfectly general; in particular, it applies to philosophical positions as well as to ordinary propositions.”

    If true, it follows that Agrippa’s trilemma can rightly be applied to itself.
    – – – –
    Back to your statement:

    The Skeptic claims that it is not possible to justify any doctrine about the ultimate nature of reality. Since that claim is not itself about the ultimate nature of reality, it is not self-contradictory.

    If your statement is true, then the claim tells us exactly nothing about the ultimate nature of reality. However, the claim tells us, that the ultimate nature of reality is such that we cannot justify any doctrine about it. A first-order claim. Certainly, it can be argued that this does not tell us much about the ultimate nature of reality, but it undeniably tells us something.
    Moreover, your statement presupposes a held justified doctrine about the ultimate nature of reality to ascertain that it is such that one cannot hold justified propositions about it. However, this contradicts the skeptic claim, as you defined it, that one cannot have justified doctrines about it.

  55. 55
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @54

    the contrary, it is stated that Pyrrhonian Skepticism is absolute and applies to any claim/proposition:

    “It is interesting to note that Agrippa’s trilemma is perfectly general; in particular, it applies to philosophical positions as well as to ordinary propositions.”

    If true, it follows that Agrippa’s trilemma can rightly be applied to itself.

    This would right if the Trilemma were itself a philosophical statement in the required sense. I don’t think that it is, because I think there’s a difference here.

    The difference between “ordinary statements” and “philosophical statements” (as per the SEP) could be construed as a difference of scope. Ordinary statements about everyday objects and events as we practically perceive and manipulate them; philosophical statements are about everything. They are comprehensive.

    If that’s right, then that’s compatible with my claim that the Skeptic is demonstrating the absence of justification for any metaphysical doctrines. Again, and this is crucial: the Skeptic is not saying, about ultimate reality, that no claim about it is justifiable. She is saying, about claims about ultimate reality, that none of those claims are justifiable.

    In other words, here’s the issue. Are the following claims equivalent?

    For each claim about ultimate reality, there is no justification for that claim

    and

    It is a truth of ultimate reality that no claim about it is justifiable

    I can agree with you up to this point: Skepticism would be self-referentially incoherent if the two claims were equivalent or if the first entailed the second.

  56. 56
    Origenes says:

    PM1@55

    SEP: “It is interesting to note that Agrippa’s trilemma is perfectly general; in particular, it applies to philosophical positions as well as to ordinary propositions.”

    Ori: If true, it follows that Agrippa’s trilemma can rightly be applied to itself.

    This would right if the Trilemma were itself a philosophical statement in the required sense. I don’t think that it is, because I think there’s a difference here.

    Again, SEP: “… it applies to philosophical positions as well as to ordinary propositions”
    The Trilemma is a philosophical position, is it not? So, it follows that we can apply it to itself, right?

    The difference between “ordinary statements” and “philosophical statements” (as per the SEP) could be construed as a difference of scope.

    Again, according to SEP, the Trilemma applies to both kinds of statements.

    Ordinary statements about everyday objects and events as we practically perceive and manipulate them; philosophical statements are about everything. They are comprehensive.
    If that’s right, then that’s compatible with my claim that the Skeptic is demonstrating the absence of justification for any metaphysical doctrines.

    I take it that, unlike SEP, you want skepticism to limit its scope to metaphysical doctrines.

    Again, and this is crucial: the Skeptic is not saying, about ultimate reality, that no claim about it is justifiable. She is saying, about claims about ultimate reality, that none of those claims are justifiable.

    In other words, here’s the issue. Are the following claims equivalent?

    For each claim about ultimate reality, there is no justification for that claim

    and

    It is a truth of ultimate reality that no claim about it is justifiable

    I can agree with you up to this point: Skepticism would be self-referentially incoherent if the two claims were equivalent or if the first entailed the second.

    To me, the statements are equivalent. At this point, the difference between a Skeptic and a Taoist is unclear to me.
    – – – – –
    edit: The claim “it is not possible to justify any claim about women” would tell us, that women are such that no claim about them is justified. IOW it is (also) a claim about women — and therefore self-contradictory.

  57. 57
    Origenes says:

    The skeptic wants to criticize, but he doesn’t want to be criticized himself. We all make statements of belief, skeptics included. But the skeptic posits a closed circle in which no beliefs are justified. Yet at the same time, he arrogates to himself a position outside of this circle by which he can judge the beliefs of others, a move he denies to his opponents. Since the raison d’être of his thesis is that there is no outside of the circle, he does not have the epistemic right to assume a position independent of it, and so his belief about the unjustifiability of beliefs or reasoning is just as unjustifiable as those he criticizes. If the circle encloses all beliefs, if all beliefs are unjustifiable, he cannot judge between truth and falsity, since any such judgment would be just as unjustifiable as what it seeks to adjudicate. At no point can he step out of the circle to a transcendent standpoint that would allow him to reject some beliefs as tainted while remaining untainted himself.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    Origenes, sobering point, worth headlining, so here goes. KF

  59. 59
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @57

    I really don’t think that’s at all true. You are erecting a massive castle out of our one line from the SEP entry. SEP entries are fine (I use them and recommend them all the time) for getting basic understanding of the issues. But they are really limited.

    While I’m no expert, I have read Sextus Empiricus and Montaigne, and from those sources, I can say with some confidence that the Skeptic does not take the Dilemma of the Criterion to apply to all beliefs: it applies only to beliefs about “reality”, as distinct from “appearance”.

    That is, the skeptic accepts the metaphysician’s distinction between “how things appear” and “how they really are” (a distinction that in Western phil goes back to Parmenides). The Skeptic’s project is to show that no account of reality, as distinct from appearance, is rationally defensible.

    I think that your allegation that Skepticism is self-referentially incoherent rests on a pretty serious misunderstanding of what the Skeptic is really saying.

  60. 60
    Viola Lee says:

    re 59: Yes. My contribution to the discussion. I’ve been on the receiving end of this misunderstanding of skepticism, so I appreciate what PM has to say.

  61. 61
    asauber says:

    “The Skeptic’s project is to show that no account of reality, as distinct from appearance, is rationally defensible.”

    That sounds like an attempted account of reality.

    Andrew

  62. 62
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @61

    That sounds like an attempted account of reality.

    Yes, that was Origenes’s mistake as well. The mistake rests on a conflation between claims about reality and claims about claims about reality.

    The former is about how the world really is; the second is about what people say about how the world really is.

    It seems like some people here are just really committed to not understanding a fairly basic distinction.

    Understanding skepticism correctly is not the end of the world. As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m not a skeptic myself. I just think it’s a really interesting concept to wrestle with.

  63. 63
    asauber says:

    PM1,

    So the skeptic’s position is that you can’t rationally make a claim about reality.

    So then why should or would I ever give skepticism a second of my time, since the rule breaks itself?

    Andrew

  64. 64
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @63

    So then why should or would I ever give skepticism a second of my time, since the rule breaks itself?

    It doesn’t. Origenes is mistaken. I’ve tried explaining why but to no avail.

  65. 65
    asauber says:

    “It doesn’t.”

    It does.

    Andrew

  66. 66
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @65

    I’ve given an argument for why Origenes is wrong. My argument is based upon my having read Sextus Empiricus (Outline of Pyrrhonism), Montaigne (Apology for Raymond Sebond) and Hume. Can you show where I’ve made a mistake? What’s your evidence? Have I misunderstood those texts?

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    PM1, if discussion of reality is reduced to discussion of appearances in general, that includes the skeptic’s claim. It is self referential and self defeating, as say Bradley pointed out for the Kantians. KF

    PS, I clip:

    We may agree, perhaps, to understand by metaphysics an attempt to know reality as against mere appearance, or the study of first principles or ultimate truths, or again the effort to comprehend the universe, not simply piecemeal or by fragments, but somehow as a whole [–> i.e. the focus of Metaphysics is critical studies of worldviews] . . . .

    The man who is ready to prove that metaphysical knowledge is wholly impossible . . . himself has, perhaps unknowingly, entered the arena . . . To say the reality is such that our knowledge cannot reach it, is a claim to know reality ; to urge that our knowledge is of a kind which must fail to transcend appearance, itself implies that transcendence. [–> this is the “ugly gulch” of the Kantians] For, if we had no idea of a beyond, we should assuredly not know how to talk about failure or success. And the test, by which we distinguish them, must obviously be some acquaintance with the nature of the goal. Nay, the would-be sceptic, who presses on us the contradictions of our thoughts, himself asserts dogmatically. For these contradictions might be ultimate and absolute truth, if the nature of the reality were not known to be otherwise . . . [such] objections . . . are themselves, however unwillingly, metaphysical views, and . . . a little acquaintance with the subject commonly serves to dispel [them]. [Appearance and Reality, 2nd Edn, 1897 (1916 printing), pp. 1 – 2; INTRODUCTION. At Web Archive.]

  68. 68
    Origenes says:

    PM1

    Yes, that was Origenes’s mistake as well. The mistake rests on a conflation between claims about reality and claims about claims about reality.

    A claim about an apple is not an apple itself. This is true because an apple is a thing among other things. However ‘reality’ is not a thing among other things. Reality encompasses all things, including “claims about reality” and “claims about claims about reality.”
    IOW you cannot draw an enclosed circle around reality and next find “claims about reality” (or whatever) to be outside of that circle. Unlike with a drawn circle around an apple, here, in the case of ‘reality’, there is no outside of the circle.

  69. 69
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @67

    if discussion of reality is reduced to discussion of appearances in general, that includes the skeptic’s claim.

    Once again: no. The skeptic begins by accepting the metaphysician’s distinction between “appearance” and “reality”. This distinction was accepted by all of the post-Parmenidean philosophers of antiquity: Plato, Aristotle, Democritus, Epicurus, Epictetus, etc. They are disagreeing about what reality is, but they all accept the appearance/reality distinction.

    The Skeptical point is that once we accept the appearance/reality distinction, then no account of reality can be rationally defended, because they all run into the Dilemma of the Criterion.

    It is self referential and self defeating, as say Bradley pointed out for the Kantians.

    I’m not sure Bradley understands Kant, or Hegel’s critique of Kant.

    It is no part of Kant’s view that we can know that noumena are unknowable. That’s clearly absurd and not at all what Kant actually says. Kant’s position is far more subtle than that, and much harder to refute (though I believe Hegel succeeds).

    Kant’s claim is that we must restrict objectively valid judgments to what we can possibly experience. An objectively valid judgment is an assertion with a truth value (either true or false) that can be determined independently of what we hope, believe, desire, assume, etc. (The propositions of math and science are Kant’s exemplars of objectively valid judgments.)

    The reason we need to do this, Kant says, is to salvage morality and faith from the onslaught of materialism (or what we today would call naturalism or scientism). If reality in itself conforms to the requirements of Newtonian physics, then free will is impossible and so is personal immortality.

    So Kant restricts the whole domain of scientific investigation to how we experience the world, leaving open the conceivability of things in themselves being not determined by mechanistic physics, and thus allowing us the right to believe that we are free, that God exists, and that some aspect of ourselves survives our death.

    As Kant sees it, if we had scientific knowledge of noumena, then we would be obligated to be Spinozists: deny a transcendent personal God, deny free will, and deny personal immortality.

    Hegel’s brilliance is multi-faceted, and has nothing to do with accusing Kant of such a basic error as Bradley does.

    Hegel first points out that assuming a total separation of being and thought (as Kant does) is just as dogmatic as assuming a total unity of being and thought. The unity of being and thought must itself be demonstrated, and that demonstration must proceed without any presuppositions at all. Hegel undertakes this in the Science of Logic, which is probably the most difficult text of the entire Western canon.

    Hegel also points out that while Kant was right to argue for the distinction between intrinsic purposiveness and extrinsic purposiveness, Kant erred in assuming that the former can be no more than a subjective heuristic owing to our own limitations. Instead Hegel, who knew biology much better than Kant did (though Kant had a far better grasp of physics), argued for the reality of teleology and that nothing could be a rational being without being a rational animal. (One can see lots of Aristotle being deployed here.)

    As Hegel sees it, Kant was right to claim that traditional metaphysics dogmatically assumed the unity of being and thought, he himself dogmatically neglected the possibility and necessity of demonstrating the unity of being and thought — beginning with a completely presuppositionless starting point.

    And one of the consequences of that demonstration, Hegel thinks, is the reality of biological purposiveness and that purposiveness is required for rational cognition.

    I also think that Hegel’s transformation of dialectics into the method for doing philosophy is also what’s necessary for overcoming the Dilemma of the Criterion, but that’s a separate issue.

  70. 70
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @68

    . However ‘reality’ is not a thing among other things. Reality encompasses all things, including “claims about reality” and “claims about claims about reality.”
    IOW you cannot draw an enclosed circle around reality and next find “claims about reality” (or whatever) to be outside of that circle. Unlike with a drawn circle around an apple, here, in the case of ‘reality’, there is no outside of the circle.

    The problem here is that you’re not seeing how the skeptics are working within the conceptual space of ancient Greek and Roman thought. It is crucial to that whole way of thinking that there’s a distinction between “appearance” and “reality”: how things seem to be (opinion, doxa) and how things really are (truth, episteme).

    All of the debates between the rival schools of antiquity were about different conceptions of how things are. Is reality atoms and void, as the Epicureans taught? Is realty transcendent ideas, as the Platonists taught? Do we perceive forms through our senses (Aristotle) or by turning away from the senses (Plato)? Is the world a result of chance and necessity (Epicureanism) or is there an intelligence at work in the world which constantly strives to bring about what is best for all (Stoicism)?

    The Skeptic is accepting what the metaphysicians insist upon: the intelligibility of a distinction between appearance and reality. Their point is that no account of reality, as distinct from appearance, according to the metaphysicians’s own insistence, can be rationally defended.

    This is why the Skeptic is not self-referentially incoherent: because all he’s doing to accepting what the metaphysician is demanding, and showing that metaphysical truth as the metaphysician understands it is impossible.

  71. 71
    Origenes says:

    PM1 @

    Once again: no. The skeptic begins by accepting the metaphysician’s distinction between “appearance” and “reality”. This distinction was accepted by all of the post-Parmenidean philosophers of antiquity: Plato, Aristotle, Democritus, Epicurus, Epictetus, etc. They are disagreeing about what reality is, but they all accept the appearance/reality distinction.

    If they, as you say, disagree on what reality is, and they do, based on their different doctrines of reality, then they also hold different appearance/reality distinctions. How does that work for the skeptic? He does not hold any doctrine about reality, so on what basis does he make his particular appearance/reality distinction?

  72. 72
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus @

    The man who is ready to prove that metaphysical knowledge is wholly impossible . . . himself has, perhaps unknowingly, entered the arena . . . To say the reality is such that our knowledge cannot reach it, is a claim to know reality ; to urge that our knowledge is of a kind which must fail to transcend appearance, itself implies that transcendence. [–> this is the “ugly gulch” of the Kantians] For, if we had no idea of a beyond, we should assuredly not know how to talk about failure or success. And the test, by which we distinguish them, must obviously be some acquaintance with the nature of the goal.

    I could not agree more.

  73. 73
    Origenes says:

    Let’s hear it from the master himself …

    Kant: We have therefore wanted to say that all our intuition is nothing but the representation of appearance; that the things that we intuit are not in themselves what we intuit them to be, nor are their relations so constituted in themselves as they appear to us; …

    Here, Kant does not say “we may very well be mistaken about how things are in themselves”, no, he is telling us, that we are definitely mistaken. That we cannot be right. Ever.

    How can he possibly know this for sure? In order to know this for sure, he must have some transcendent position from which he can clearly see ‘how things appear’ and ‘how things really are.’ However, according to his own theory, whatever he believes reality to be he must be mistaken about it.

    Again Bradley, quoted by Kairosfocus in #67:

    to urge that our knowledge is of a kind which must fail to transcend appearance, itself implies that transcendence.

  74. 74
    bornagain77 says:

    A little trip down memory lane,

    BA77: “So AF (Alan Fox) holds that the ‘niche”, not AF himself, is responsible for the information that he himself is writing in his posts?”

    Alan Fox: “Yes, sort of, though I don’t know,,,,”
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/at-evolution-news-for-darwinism-pregnancy-is-the-mother-of-all-chicken-and-egg-problems/#comment-771084

    Origenes: “Does rationality require a person who is in control of his thoughts?”

    PyrrhoManiac1: “No, I don’t think so.”
    https://uncommondescent.com/mind/the-thought-that-stops-thought/#comment-771052

    Game over.

    (1) rationality implies a thinker in control of thoughts.
    (2) under materialism a thinker is an effect caused by processes in the brain (determinism).
    (3) in order for materialism to ground rationality a thinker (an effect) must control processes in the brain (a cause). (1)&(2)
    (4) no effect can control its cause.
    Therefore materialism cannot ground rationality.
    per Box UD

  75. 75
    Origenes says:

    More Kant, more questions …

    What may be the case with objects in themselves and abstracted from all this receptivity of our sensibility remains entirely unknown to us. We are acquainted with nothing except our way of perceiving them, which is peculiar to us, and which therefore does not necessarily pertain to every being, though to be sure it pertains to every human being. [Kant]

    Kant speaks with absolute certainty about all of us and I am wondering why it is that Kant thinks that he knows other people so well. Somehow he knows for certain that we all have the same way of perceiving. He knows for certain that the same limits ”pertain to every human being”, but do “not necessarily pertain to every being”.
    How does Kant know all that for a fact? Why is Kant so certain that no one can possibly perceive how things are in themselves? Did he check? Is he a mind reader of some sort? And if someone would be able to see things how they are in themselves, would Kant be able to confirm such? Why is how the other is ‘in himself’ not just as unknowable to Kant as the way objects in themselves are?

  76. 76
    bornagain77 says:

    As to differentiating which beliefs we may have are true and which beliefs are false, it is interesting to note that Darwin’s theory itself undercuts our ability to differentiate between true beliefs and false beliefs. In short, as Nancy Pearcey explains “Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.,” and “if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.”

    Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself – Nancy Pearcey – March 8, 2015
    Excerpt: A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. “This circle is square” is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself….
    An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.
    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.
    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?
    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.”,,,
    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.
    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.
    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.,,,
    Darwin’s Selective Skepticism
    People are sometimes under the impression that Darwin himself recognized the problem. They typically cite Darwin’s famous “horrid doubt” passage where he questions whether the human mind can be trustworthy if it is a product of evolution: “With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.”
    But, of course, Darwin’s theory itself was a “conviction of man’s mind.” So why should it be “at all trustworthy”?
    Surprisingly, however, Darwin never confronted this internal contradiction in his theory. Why not? Because he expressed his “horrid doubt” selectively — only when considering the case for a Creator.
    From time to time, Darwin admitted that he still found the idea of God persuasive. He once confessed his “inward conviction … that the Universe is not the result of chance.” It was in the next sentence that he expressed his “horrid doubt.” So the “conviction” he mistrusted was his lingering conviction that the universe is not the result of chance.
    In another passage Darwin admitted, “I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man.” Again, however, he immediately veered off into skepticism: “But then arises the doubt — can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?”
    That is, can it be trusted when it draws “grand conclusions” about a First Cause? Perhaps the concept of God is merely an instinct programmed into us by natural selection, Darwin added, like a monkey’s “instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.”
    In short, it was on occasions when Darwin’s mind led him to a theistic conclusion that he dismissed the mind as untrustworthy. He failed to recognize that, to be logically consistent, he needed to apply the same skepticism to his own theory.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....94171.html

    Or more succinctly

    !. Darwinian evolution selects beliefs for survival value, not truth value.
    2. If beliefs are selected for survival value not truth value, we cannot know which beliefs that we have are true and which beliefs are false.
    3. Darwinian evolution is a belief.
    4. Thus, as a belief, we cannot know whether Darwinian evolution is true or false.
    5. Yet, we know that, if Darwin’s theory is true, we cannot differentiate between true beliefs and false beliefs. And we know that that is, none-the-less, a true belief for us to hold.
    6. Therefore, Darwinian evolution is false. i.e. We can have beliefs that we can know to be true.

    Or Nancy Pearcey even more succinctly put it, “if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.”

    Of note: Postmodern philosophy, which is the bastard child of Darwin’s theory, denies the existence of objective truth altogether.

    “postmodernism is highly skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person.”
    https://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/gengloss/postm-body.html

    In the following article Nancy Pearcey explains the link between Darwinism and postmodern pragmatism

    How Darwinism Dumbs Us Down – Nancy Pearcey
    Excerpt: To understand how Darwinism undercuts the very concept of rationality, we can think back to the late nineteenth century when the theory first arrived on American shores. Almost immediately, it was welcomed by a group of thinkers who began to work out its implications far beyond science. They realized that Darwinism implies a broader philosophy of naturalism (i.e., that nature is all that exists, and that natural causes are adequate to explain all phenomena). Thus they began applying a naturalistic worldview across the board—in philosophy, psychology, the law, education, and the arts.
    At the foundation of these efforts, however, was a naturalistic approach to knowledge itself (epistemology). The logic went like this: If humans are products of Darwinian natural selection, that obviously includes the human brain—which in turn means all our beliefs and values are products of evolutionary forces: Ideas arise in the human brain by chance, just like Darwin’s chance variations in nature; and the ones that stick around to become firm beliefs and convictions are those that give an advantage in the struggle for survival. This view of knowledge came to be called pragmatism (truth is what works) or instrumentalism (ideas are merely tools for survival).
    Darwinian Logic
    One of the leading pragmatists was John Dewey, who had a greater influence on educational theory in America than anyone else in the 20th century. Dewey rejected the idea that there is a transcendent element in human nature, typically defined in terms of mind or soul or spirit, capable of knowing a transcendent truth or moral order. Instead he treated humans as mere organisms adapting to challenges in the environment. In his educational theory, learning is just another form of adaptation—a kind of mental natural selection. Ideas evolve as tools for survival, no different from the evolution of the lion’s teeth or the eagle’s claws.
    In a famous essay called “The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy,” Dewey said Darwinism leads to a “new logic to apply to mind and morals and life.” In this new evolutionary logic, ideas are not judged by a transcendent standard of Truth, but by how they work in getting us what we want. Ideas do not “reflect reality” but only serve human interests.
    To emphasize how revolutionary this was, up until this time the dominant theory of knowledge or epistemology was based on the biblical doctrine of the image of God. Confidence in the reliability of human knowledge derived from the conviction that finite human reason reflects (to some degree at least) an infinite divine Reason. Since the same God who created the universe also created our minds, we can be confident that our mental capacities reflect the structure of the universe. In The Mind of God and the Works of Man, Edward Craig shows that even as Western thinkers began to move away from orthodox Christian theology, in their philosophy most of them still retained the conception that our minds reflect an Absolute Mind as the basis for trust in human cognition.
    The pragmatists were among the first, however, to face squarely the implications of naturalistic evolution. If evolutionary forces produced the mind, they said, then all are beliefs and convictions are nothing but mental survival strategies, to be judged in terms of their practical success in human conduct. William James liked to say that truth is the “cash value” of an idea: If it pays off, then we call it true.
    Pragmatism Today
    This Darwinian logic continues to shape American thought more than we might imagine.,,
    Postmodern Campuses
    These results of pragmatism are quite postmodern, so it comes as no surprise to learn that the prominent postmodernist Richard Rorty calls himself a neo-pragmatism. Rorty argues that postmodernism is simply the logical outcome of pragmatism, and explains why.
    According to the traditional, common-sense approach to knowledge, our ideas are true when the represent or correspond to reality. But according to Darwinian epistemology, ideas are nothing but tools that have evolved to help us control and manipulate the environment. As Rorty puts it, our theories “have no more of a representational relation to an intrinsic nature of things than does the anteater’s snout or the bowerbird’s skill at weaving” (Truth and Progress). Thus we evaluate an idea the same way that natural selection preserves the snout or the weaving instinct—not by asking how well it represents objective reality but only how well it works.
    I once presented this progression from Darwinism to postmodern pragmatism at a Christian college, when a man in the audience raised his hand: “I have only one question. These guys who think all our ideas and beliefs evolved . . . do they think their own ideas evolved?” The audience broke into delighted applause, because of course he had captured the key fallacy of the Darwinian approach to knowledge. If all ideas are products of evolution, and thus not really true but only useful for survival, then evolution itself is not true either–and why should the rest of us pay any attention to it?
    Indeed, the theory undercuts itself. For if evolution is true, then it is not true, but only useful. This kind of internal contradiction is fatal, for a theory that asserts something and denies it at the same time is simply nonsense. In short, naturalistic evolution is self-refuting.
    Clash of Worldviews
    The media paints the evolution controversy in terms of science versus religion. But it is much more accurate to say it is worldview versus worldview, philosophy versus philosophy. Making this point levels the playing field and opens the door to serious dialogue.,,,
    https://www.namb.net/apologetics/resource/how-darwinism-dumbs-us-down/

    As Nancy Pearcey also touched upon, Darwin’s theory denies “the idea that there is a transcendent element in human nature, typically defined in terms of mind or soul or spirit, capable of knowing a transcendent truth or moral order.”,,,

    Thus to sum up thus far, Darwin’s theory denies that we can know objective truth, whilst Darwinism’s bastard philosophical child of postmodernism ends up denying the existence of objective truth altogether.

    And putting all that together, the primary reason why Darwinism, in the end, ends up denying the existence of objective truth altogether, and driving itself into catastrophic epistemological failure, is simply because objective truth is profoundly immaterial in its foundational essence.

    For instance, mathematics itself, such as 2+2=4, which is obviously objectively true for all people, and not just relatively true to only individual people, is profoundly immaterial in its foundational nature. How much does 2+2+4 weigh? How fast does 2+2=4 go? Is 2+2+4 closer to Miami or Seattle? etc..

    Such questions are nonsense because, obviously, the objective truth of 2+2+4 is profoundly immaterial, and we grasp its truthfulness via our immaterial minds. It simply could not be otherwise.

    Alfred Wallace himself, co-discover of Natural Selection, considered our ability to do math to be proof, in and of itself, that we have souls.

    “Nothing in evolution can account for the soul of man. The difference between man and the other animals is unbridgeable. Mathematics is alone sufficient to prove in man the possession of a faculty unexistent in other creatures. Then you have music and the artistic faculty. No, the soul was a separate creation.”
    – Alfred Russel Wallace. – 1910 interview

    Moreover, since our own immaterial minds came into being and are therefore contingent, and are not eternally existent, and yet we can discover eternal, and objective, mathematical truths with our immaterial minds, such as 2+2=4, then it necessarily follows that “there must exist an eternal mind in which these eternal (mathematical) truths reside.”

    11. The Argument from Truth
    This argument is closely related to the argument from consciousness. It comes mainly from Augustine.
    1. Our limited minds can discover eternal truths about being.
    2. Truth properly resides in a mind.
    3. But the human mind is not eternal.
    4. Therefore there must exist an eternal mind in which these truths reside.
    https://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#11

    And please note that this argument for our immaterial minds, and for God, from the existence of mathematics is perfectly consistent with what we now know to be true about mathematics from Godel’s incompleteness theorem. Namely, that mathematics itself has a contingent existence and does not, in and of itself, have a necessary existence, i.e. “Math (can) not play the role of God as infinite and autonomous.”

    Taking God Out of the Equation – Biblical Worldview – by Ron Tagliapietra – January 1, 2012
    Excerpt: Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) proved that no logical systems (if they include the counting numbers) can have all three of the following properties.
    1. Validity … all conclusions are reached by valid reasoning.
    2. Consistency … no conclusions contradict any other conclusions.
    3. Completeness … all statements made in the system are either true or false.
    The details filled a book, but the basic concept was simple and elegant. He (Godel) summed it up this way: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove.” For this reason, his proof is also called the Incompleteness Theorem.
    Kurt Gödel had dropped a bomb on the foundations of mathematics. Math could not play the role of God as infinite and autonomous. It was shocking, though, that logic could prove that mathematics could not be its own ultimate foundation.
    Christians should not have been surprised. The first two conditions are true about math: it is valid and consistent. But only God fulfills the third condition. Only He is complete and therefore self-dependent (autonomous). God alone is “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28), “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). God is the ultimate authority (Hebrews 6:13), and in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....1/equation

    Verse and Quote

    John 14:6
    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    “If you were to take Mohammed out of Islam, and Buddha out of Buddhism, and Confucius out of Confucianism you would still have a faith system that was relatively in tact. However, taking Christ out of Christianity sinks the whole faith completely. This is because Jesus centred the faith on himself. He said, “This is what it means to have eternal life: to know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom the Father sent” (John 17:3). “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Buddha, before dying, said in effect, “I am still seeking for the truth.” Mohammed said in effect, “I point you to the truth.” Jesus said, “I am the truth.” Jesus claimed to not only give the truth, but to be the very personal embodiment of it.”
    http://commonground.co.za/?res.....way-to-god

  77. 77
    relatd says:

    Ba77,

    Two concepts are at work here. The suppression and distortion of the truth, and the promotion of evolution to manipulate the public mind.

    1) There are things that are true and will always be true. This includes human behavior as it applies to individuals and societies. There are healthy behaviors and unhealthy behaviors. The healthy behaviors include human cooperation in small groups and the larger society. Certain groups I call Total Strangers want to distort the perception of how humans should behave in the present. And they want to suppress good and healthy examples of human behavior on TV, in movies and the internet.

    They also promote addiction. To drugs, to alcohol and other addictive behaviors. Of course, this is bad for individuals and society at large. We should resist addictive behaviors.

    2) Evolution is not just pseudo-science, it is a force for promoting atheism. For promoting the idea that random events led to human beings. That is wrong and harmful to authentic human identity. To knowing who we really are. We were created by God. Our bodies were designed in all their complexity. We are far too complex to be explained by the discredited theory of evolution. The interactions within cells are far too complex, along with the instructions that regulate their function. We must realize this. You are not an accident. God who made all things, all life, made you.

  78. 78
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @73

    How can he possibly know this for sure? In order to know this for sure, he must have some transcendent position from which he can clearly see ‘how things appear’ and ‘how things really are.’ However, according to his own theory, whatever he believes reality to be he must be mistaken about it.

    This is a really good question, and one that’s been much debated over the centuries. I know Kant fairly well, and I can say something about this. But I wouldn’t say that I’m entirely convinced by the Kantian view, myself.

    You’re right that Kant’s distinction between “phenomena” and “noumena” (his terms for the world as we experience it and how it really is in itself) must rest on some privileged position from which that distinction can be conceptualized.

    So now we can ask: what is that position, and what justifies it?

    Kant insists that his method is transcendental philosophy. This consists of (1) taking the most high-altitude, most fully general description of the world as we experience it and (2) inquiring into what kinds of cognitive capacities and incapacities that the mind must have in order for us to experience the world and ourselves as we manifestly do.

    From this extremely high-altitude position, Kant observes two things:

    1. Some concepts can be subsumed under more general concepts, the way that “spaniel” is subsumed under “dog,” and “dog” under “mammal”, etc. But some concepts aren’t subsumed under any others. These concepts are categories and include concepts as such “substance”, “cause”, “necessity”, “relation” etc. We cannot think without using at least one of the categories, and usually more than one. (There are twelve in all. More on this later!!)

    2. Everything that we can perceive, remember, or imagine involves space (for physical things) and time (for physical and for mental things). We see something as having specific qualities and properties, but also as over there, seeing it now or as remembering it (now) as having been behind that other thing in the past.

    That is, we experience the world (and ourselves) in terms of spatial relations and temporal successions. Even the mind’s own experience of itself is necessarily temporal, though non-spatial — we experience a temporal order to our thoughts, memories, feelings, desires, and hopes. (“I was thinking of nice it would be to go for a walk, then realized how cold it would be.”)

    So, here’s the question: what justifies Kant’s position that we cannot know whether noumena (things in themselves) are spatial and/or temporal?

    Now, I’m going to say something kind of wild and maybe bizarre, but I think it’s the most sympathetic way of reading Kant’s project: Kant introduces this claim as a hypothesis. He’s not saying “here’s how it is, folks”. He’s saying, “what if this were the case?”

    OK, fine (one might say): but what justifies that hypothesis?

    Here we need to take a step back and think about Kant’s entire project. He wants (he tells us in the introduction to the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason) to turn metaphysics into a science. This means (he thinks) making an experiment in metaphysics and seeing how well it works. His “metaphysical hypothesis” is: all that we know a priori of things is what we ourselves contribute to our experience of them.

    Now, how we are we to determine if this work? What are the success conditions? Again, he tells us: the hypothesis is a success if it ends the conflict of reason against itself.

    What is this conflict?

    It is the fact that we are confronted with many different metaphysical systems, all of which are a priori (and so we cannot appeal to experience in order to decide between them) and all of which are internally consistent (and so we cannot appeal to logic to decide between them) and yet they are incompatible — they cannot all be true.

    Kant claims that if all we can a priori of objects is what we contribute to our experience of them, and therefore can know nothing a priori of things in themselves, then we can put an end to the conflict of reason against itself.

    And we can do that by showing that while mechanistic physics is exhaustively true of the world as we experience it, we are nevertheless permitted to believe that God exists, that the soul is immortal, and that the will is free. Hence we are permitted to deny atheism, determinism, and fatalism.

    This ends the conflict of reason against itself, because it concedes that naturalism (as we would call it today) is true, but only for the world as we experience it, while also establishing that we are rationally entitled to affirm the core beliefs of Christian doctrine.

    (Elsewhere Kant gives a different argument for why we are obligated to believe in God, personal immortality, and free will.)

    Kant speaks with absolute certainty about all of us and I am wondering why it is that Kant thinks that he knows other people so well. Somehow he knows for certain that we all have the same way of perceiving. He knows for certain that the same limits ”pertain to every human being”, but do “not necessarily pertain to every being”.

    This is a really good question! Kant certainly does not want to be doing anything like empirical psychology or anthropology, so it might seem that he’s making claims about what is universally and necessarily true about all human minds based on his own case.

    But I don’t think it’s quite that bad: he is taking on board, and taking for granted, not just his own experiences but also what people generally tend to experience, as evident from everyday interactions with them but also (and especially) the sciences and mathematics.

    How does Kant know all that for a fact? Why is Kant so certain that no one can possibly perceive how things are in themselves? Did he check? Is he a mind reader of some sort? And if someone would be able to see things how they are in themselves, would Kant be able to confirm such? Why is how the other is ‘in himself’ not just as unknowable to Kant as the way objects in themselves are?

    I think that if someone were to claim that he knows what things in themselves are, he would say, “demonstrate this knowledge, and convince me.” That’s the attitude he took towards the mystic Swedenborg in Dreams of a Spirit-Seer.

  79. 79
    Origenes says:

    PM1 @78
    Before we proceed, I would like to have clarity about the following:
    To be clear, is it Kant’s position that we must be wrong about how things are in themselves? I am asking because that is how I understand him when he writes:

    We have therefore wanted to say that all our intuition is nothing but the representation of appearance; that the things that we intuit are not in themselves what we intuit them to be, nor are their relations so constituted in themselves as they appear to us; …

    Is Kant saying here that how things appear to be in themselves to us, cannot possibly coincide with how things are in themselves in reality? That there must necessarily be a difference between ‘how things appear to us’ and ‘how things really are’?

  80. 80
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @79

    Is Kant saying here that how things appear to be in themselves to us, cannot possibly coincide with how things are in themselves in reality? That there must necessarily be a difference between ‘how things appear to us’ and ‘how things really are’?

    Briefly: no. Here’s why.

    Kant thinks that any claim to definitive knowledge about things in themselves will necessarily take reason beyond its own proper limits.

    His argument for this position turns on the following idea: for any claim about what things in themselves are, we can always entertain the negation of that claim. But we cannot decide which of the two — the assertion or its negation — is true.

    A Christian may say, in full candor and sincerity, that a transcendent personal God exists, that we have libertarian freedom, and that an aspect of our personal identity survives the death of the body. And theologians and philosophers have lots of sophisticated arguments for those doctrines.

    At the same time, consider the ideas of Benedict Spinoza. (Spinoza was certainly the most sophisticated naturalism of Kant’s time, and it has only slightly been improved upon since.) Spinoza reasons that God cannot be distinct from Nature, that everything we do must conform to the same laws of physics that govern everything else in the physical world, and that nothing that makes us unique from one another can survive the death of the body. (All this Spinoza logically deduces from the very concept of “substance” and what it must mean to say that God is absolutely, infinitely powerful.)

    So here we have two logically coherent, wholly a priori metaphysical systems, that make utterly opposed claims about what things in themselves are like.

    Since they are both logically coherent, reason cannot choose between them. Since they are a priori, experience cannot choose between them. What we should do, Kant thinks, is simply avoid making all claims about what things are like in themselves: we should say nothing about their properties, qualities, whether they are physical, mental, both, neither.

    (This does result in a very serious problem, though, since Kant also suggests that things in themselves are the causes of our sensations — in which case the category of causation must apply to things in themselves. Many philosophers over the centuries have taken this as the thin end of the wedge that they use to destroy the entire Kantian system.)

    But, given Kant’s official agnosticism about things in themselves, he couldn’t say “yes, we can know for sure that appearances and things in themselves cannot be the same” (which is what you were asking, I think). The most he could say is, “it is possible that appearances and things in themselves coincide, but we can never know for sure that they do.”

    In other words, Kant’s official agnosticism about things in themselves means that he can’t say that things in themselves lack spatial and temporal structures. But he doesn’t need to go that far: all he needs to say is that since we cannot know that they do have spatial and temporal structure, we are rationally permitted to believe that they don’t. And that’s enough for Kant to then say that we are rationally permitted to believe that things in themselves are not causally determined.

    And it matters that things in themselves are not causally determined because we are also things in themselves. That is, there is a self as we appear to ourselves, or how we experience ourselves — and that could be fully determined. But we are also permitted to think of ourselves as undetermined, or as having free will.

    In other words, we cannot know that we have free will, but we also cannot know that we don’t have free will, so we are rationally permitted to believe that we do. (Elsewhere Kant argues that morality requires that are rationally obligated to believe that we have free will. It also requires that we believe in God and believe in personal immortality.)

    Does that address your concern?

  81. 81
    Origenes says:

    PM1

    The most he [Kant] could say is, “it is possible that appearances and things in themselves coincide, but we can never know for sure that they do.”

    So, according to Kant, we can never know for sure how things really are. Correct?

  82. 82
    Origenes says:

    A conversation with Immanuel Kant:

    John: “Good afternoon. I exist.”
    Kant: “You are permitted to hold that belief mister, but, I have to point out that, in principle, we can never be really sure that ….”
    Charles: **I do not exist. Sorry, to interrupt. I am just a figment of the imagination of Mr.Kant here.**
    Kant: “You are both permitted to hold your beliefs, but, and please let me finish my point here guys because this is incredibly deep and important, we can never ever be really sure that …”
    John: “I agree with your point. Indeed we can never be absolutely certain about my existence. However I, on my own, can. I, and only I, am absolutely certain of my existence. You cannot, but I can know how I am in myself, so to speak.”
    Kant: “Ok, bring it.”
    John: “Here goes: cogito ergo sum.”

  83. 83
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @81

    So, according to Kant, we can never know for sure how things really are. Correct?

    If by “how things really are” we mean “how things are in themselves, completely separate from everything that the mind contributes to experience”, then yes.

    Because that’s the key: what we experience as the world depends on what the mind contributes to that experience. If we had very different sensory organs, we would experience the world in really different ways. And if we had really different concepts, again, we would experience the world in really different ways.

    Kant’s point is that if all we can know is what we can experience, and if all of our experience depends in part on what the mind contributes to that experience, then we cannot know what the world is like “in itself,” independent of the mind’s contribution.

    John: “I agree with your point. Indeed we can never be absolutely certain about my existence. However I, on my own, can. I, and only me, am absolutely certain of my existence. I can know how I am in myself, so to speak.”
    Kant: “Ok, bring it.”
    John: “Here goes: cogito ergo sum.”

    Kant wouldn’t deny that we are immediately and indubitably aware of our own self-consciousness. He just doesn’t think that it follows that therefore we can know that we exist as souls, really distinct from our bodies, and capable of persisting after the death of the body.

  84. 84
    Origenes says:

    PM1 @

    Kant’s point is that if all we can know is what we can experience, and if all of our experience depends in part on what the mind contributes to that experience, then we cannot know what the world is like “in itself,” independent of the mind’s contribution.

    So, Kant posits the hypothesis that each one of us contributes to one’s experience in such a radical way, that we are all permanently disconnected from the outer world, assuming that there is an outer world at all.
    And perhaps that’s not exactly what he is saying. Kant is unclear about his position—a bad sign. To be frank, his dark mission does not interest me. I am a searcher for truth, in fact, I demand it, and I have neither the patience nor the interest for any witling skeptical self-referential effort to have me convinced that I can never get there. So, I am out.
    – – –
    p.s. I do not agree with your interpretation of cogito, perhaps for another day.

  85. 85
    Origenes says:

    @84 /Clarification/
    I was referring to the effort by E. Kant when I wrote “… witling skeptical self-referential effort …”.

  86. 86
    Sandy says:

    🙂 Kant kan’t . Self-refuting is the middle name of Kant.

  87. 87
    Origenes says:

    I am going to self-contradict here by writing another post about Kant …

    The broader point that’s been made in this thread is that hyper-skepticism is self-refuting. In order to ground his hyper-skepticism, the hyper-skeptic must hold some belief that he is not permitted to hold by his own ‘philosophy.’
    Now, is Kant a hyper-skeptic?

    PM1@: Kant’s point is that if all we can know is what we can experience, and if all of our experience depends in part on what the mind contributes to that experience, then we cannot know what the world is like “in itself,” independent of the mind’s contribution.

    According to PM1, Kant says: If one’s mind distorts one’s experience of a thing, and if one can know a thing only by one’s experience, then we can never attain certain knowledge about a thing.

    I agree. The conclusion follows logically from the premises.

    However, if Kant claims that this horror scenario is actually the case and that his premises are true, then he claims to have certain knowledge that he cannot have. Then he makes a self-refuting hyper-skeptical claim.

    If the mind distorts one’s experience of all things and experience is the only source of knowledge about things, then one cannot know for certain that the mind is distorting things. To know for certain that the mind is distorting all experience requires a transcendent standpoint that offers an undistorted view of the mind and its experiences.

    Suppose my mind distorts my experience by having colors mixed up. Objects that are in reality green, I see as red, and objects that are in reality red I see as being green. It might actually be the case that my experience of green coincides with how other people experience red and vice versa. The point I am trying to make is that I have no way of knowing. To know this requires a transcendent standpoint, which I (and Immanuel Kant) have no access to.

    Summing up: Sandy is right, Kant kan’t make a truth claim or he be self-refuting. 🙂

  88. 88
    jerry says:

    There is only one truth and everyone knows part of this truth.

    We are somehow able to make it through this world, sometimes quite easily. How does this happen if one does not have access to a lot of this truth?

    What we understand is based not only on our experiences but on the experiences of millions like us and on logic. It is also based on instruments that detect aspects of the truth which are consistent from person to person. These instruments are getting better and better.

    Now as we all know, there is always more truth to learn. But to obsess over personal experiences as the only access to this truth and it may be significantly different from person to person is nonsense. We live in a world where experiences are constantly verified or sometimes contradicted by things outside of us. We adjust and get better and move on.

    That is how a baby learns and we continue to learn. We read, we see, we hear, we feel, we compare everything to what others read, feel, see and hear. All get us somewhat closer to the truth.

    We are beings that are constantly assessing this world to learn more truths. That is what science and logic are about. That we will never know all the truth is so obvious that it must be by design. But yet we probe and observe.

    To somehow believe our experiences are significantly different from others is absurd. We adjust our beliefs on many things based on what others believe but these are constantly tested against reality. Reality will always keep us in line.

    We are here and we have survived. But always learning. Science and our daily experiences will tell us much but it can never tell us everything. For that we have to search elsewhere.

  89. 89
    Alan Fox says:

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-mind/

    @ PM1, a reasonable précis of Kant on consciousness?

  90. 90
    Sandy says:

    Jerry
    But to obsess over personal experiences as the only access to this truth and it may be significantly different from person to person is nonsense.

    There are many levels of truth. It’s called Maths what is learnt on 5 grade and also on postdoctoral studies. Different levels of the same Maths. Same thing with the Truth. If you stay 30 years on a cave eating once per week praying continuously will have access to a much different truth than if you watch Netflix ,eat from McDonald and stay all day long on tiktok, twitter,UD,etc.

  91. 91
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @84

    Kant’s starting-point is not the Cartesian skeptical question “how can know that the external world exists?” Kant accepts that the external world exists — that’s what physics is all about! But he wants to build a barrier between science and metaphysics. And the problems with his position lie in whether he’s entitled to the assumptions he needs to make in order to do that.

    More specifically, Kant takes it for granted that the best science is Newtonian mechanics, which is fully deterministic. So if Newtonian mechanics were absolutely true — true about how the world in itself really is — there’s no free will, and probably no personal immortality and probably no God in a transcendent personal sense, the sort of Being who reveals Himself.

    Kant wants to construct a barrier between science and metaphysics in order to prevent physics (the best science of his day) from leading to naturalism (no God, no free will, no soul).

    Kant posits the hypothesis that each one of us contributes to one’s experience in such a radical way, that we are all permanently disconnected from the outer world, assuming that there is an outer world at all. And perhaps that’s not exactly what he is saying.

    That’s not what he’s saying. He doesn’t think that your mind constructs your experiences and my mind constructs my experiences.

    Rather, he thinks that he can describe the mind as such, what it is for something to be a mind at all, which is the same in all of us and which therefore constructs all our experiences.

    That’s why all of us can understand that there are physical objects that obey laws of physics, that exist in space and in time, and that are governed by cause and effect. (That’s also why all of us know ourselves and each other to be self-conscious rational agents with infinite moral worth and deserving of respect and dignity. )

    Kant does not doubt that we can know “the outer world,” if by that you mean the physical world — the world of spatial objects with physical properties, things that don’t disappear when no one is looking at them. Kant accepts the reality of space and of time and the sciences of the spatio-temporal world.

    What he denies is that anyone can know the absolute truth of the world. He thinks that for every doctrine of what is absolutely true, there is another doctrine that is incompatible with it, and with us having no way to decide between them.

    So, is Kant a skeptic? He would certainly deny it. He would say that his entire project is to show us to how to avoid Hume’s skepticism. But one might think that in doing so, Kant nevertheless concedes too much to Hume.

    To know for certain that the mind is distorting all experience requires a transcendent standpoint that offers an undistorted view of the mind and its experiences.

    I agree. And that’s often how Kant is interpreted. But I don’t think it’s the right reading.

    I read Kant as saying (as I said above) if we adopt the hypothesis that the mind always contributes to the world as we experience it, then we can construct a barrier between science and metaphysics, and that would allow us to end the conflict of reason against itself, and especially the conflict between naturalism and theism.

    Kant is unclear about his position—a bad sign.

    He’s a terribly bad writer, for sure.

    To be frank, his dark mission does not interest me. I am a searcher for truth, in fact, I demand it, and I have neither the patience nor the interest for any witling skeptical self-referential effort to have me convinced that I can never get there. So, I am out.

    It’s certainly true that Kant would not endorse a search for ultimate, absolute truth. He thinks that’s impossible for beings like us, because we cannot step outside of our own minds.

    While I have tried to make his views seem plausible and unpack some of the reasoning behind them, I’m quite happy to admit that I’m not a Kantian. I think that there are cracks and fissures deep in the edifice, far below the surface we haven’t begun to scratch.

    (Also, not that anyone asked, but my favorite philosophers are John Dewey and Richard Rorty — so if you know anything about them, you’ll be able to guess that I read Kant as one of my favorite enemies!)

  92. 92
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @89

    Yes, I accept Brooks’s reading of Kant as a philosopher of cognitive science, and that his contributions to cognitive science are largely detachable from larger project to which they belong (reconciling Newtonian physics with Lutheran piety).

  93. 93
    relatd says:

    More emerging emergence? Goal oriented. Nothing emerges from anything without information. Nothing emerges and survives without perfect functionality.

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    PM1, 80:

    Kant thinks that any claim to definitive knowledge about things in themselves will necessarily take reason beyond its own proper limits.

    His argument for this position turns on the following idea: for any claim about what things in themselves are, we can always entertain the negation of that claim. But we cannot decide which of the two — the assertion or its negation — is true.

    In steps:

    >>Kant thinks that any claim to definitive knowledge about things in themselves will necessarily take reason beyond its own proper limits.>>

    1: Things in themselves, i.e. reality, is readily recognised as the actual state of affairs that obtains, aka what is the case; truth accurately describes such, and knowledge is a state of warranted, credible access to truth.

    2: This assertion by Kant is intended to be accurate to the state of affairs, and is meant to be objective, warranted, credibly and reliably true. Further, as is ever so common of worldview level assertions, it is self referential as a statement and again as an utterance of a man.

    3: As implied objective knowledge, this sets out to delimit rational inquiry and as a case of rational inquiry it delimits itself, on its face. That is, this too is precisely a case of what it asserts ” will necessarily take reason beyond its own proper limits.”

    4: Thus, it is self referentially self defeating and unreliable. We can set it aside and what depends on it in chains of reasoning.

    5: Of course, those who assert things like this will be seen to point the finger at others, oh you are trying to talk beyond the bounds, about things in themselves, you cannot do that to try to defeat this you must confine yourself to the world of appearances. To which reach for power over freedom to think, the right answer is, sez who.

    6: The kantian programme is self defeating. Instead we acknowledge the possibility of and struggle against error, but that is already a point of certain, undeniable truth and knowledge beyond the bound. Error exists. Josiah Royce and Elton Trueblood et al have put their finger on an archimedean point.

    7: We must existentially struggle with it but its known presence shatters the shackles of all schemes that would separate us from knowledge of and reasoning regarding what is the actual case, reality.

    >>His argument for this position turns on the following idea: for any claim about what things in themselves are, we can always entertain the negation of that claim.>>

    8: Indeed, let E = error exists. Then, ~ E means, it is error to assert E. But the attempted denial implies E and we see that E is not only a fact of experience but an undeniable, self evident and certain truth. Which, is a category that is non empty as we find an instance. So, the reduced square of opposition does not apply. (And I like the revised understanding of the classic square at SEP https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/square/ .)

    >> But we cannot decide which of the two — the assertion or its negation — is true. >>

    9: On the contrary, we have on the table a case of undeniable truth that is self evident and known to certainty. The claim you report fails.

    KF

  95. 95
    JVL says:

    Sandy: It’s called Maths what is learnt on 5 grade and also on postdoctoral studies. Different levels of the same Maths.

    Clearly you’ve never taken graduate level mathematics!!!

  96. 96
    Origenes says:

    PM1 @91

    Kant takes it for granted that the best science is Newtonian mechanics, which is fully deterministic. So if Newtonian mechanics were absolutely true — true about how the world in itself really is — there’s no free will, and probably no personal immortality and probably no God …

    It is clear as day that determinism does not allow for a person who is in control of his actions and thoughts and is, therefore, utterly incompatible with any rational inquiry, including science. The fully deterministic materialism of Kant’s days should have received nothing but ridicule as a metaphysical hypothesis.

    Kant wants to construct a barrier between science and metaphysics in order to prevent physics (the best science of his day) from leading to naturalism (no God, no free will, no soul).

    Determinism is utterly absurd and unacceptable. It cannot be taken seriously. Did Kant not know this?

    1.) If determinism is true, then all our actions and thoughts are consequences of events and laws of nature in the remote past before we were born.
    2.) We have no control over circumstances that existed in the remote past before we were born, nor do we have any control over the laws of nature.
    3.) If A causes B, and we have no control over A, and A is sufficient for B, then we have no control over B.

    Therefore

    4.) If determinism is true, then we have no control over our own actions and thoughts.

    – – – –
    Kant needed 50 books to erect some half-baked barrier against determinism, while it took me just 4 lines to completely demolish it ….

  97. 97
    kairosfocus says:

    Origenes, I also reply here. A missing factor is the hold of Newton’s laws of mechanics, extended to a whole view of the world at that time. Some were convinced of global mechanical necessity to the point of, the first moment of the cosmos determines all else since to mathematical precision.This made belief in freedom difficult to sustain. That is what Kant faced. This of course cries out for the self moved rational soul as a first requisite of even doing philosophy, but to those locked into a system, that seems little more than a clever verbal trick. To those caught up in the evolutionary materialist web, the same seems so today. The rot runs deep, and it is hard for many to take courage of logic and recognise that determinisms destroy any basis for even the reasoning that gets to determinism.

  98. 98
    Origenes says:

    KF @ 97

    A missing factor is the hold of Newton’s laws of mechanics, extended to a whole view of the world at that time. Some were convinced of global mechanical necessity to the point of, the first moment of the cosmos determines all else since to mathematical precision. This made belief in freedom difficult to sustain. That is what Kant faced.

    It is very difficult for me to accept that Kant and his contemporaries did not reject determinism out of hand. Very difficult. I am very serious when I say that I truly do not get it.

    This of course cries out for the self moved rational soul as a first requisite of even doing philosophy, but to those locked into a system, that seems little more than a clever verbal trick.

    A collective blindness of some sort?

    To those caught up in the evolutionary materialist web, the same seems so today. The rot runs deep, and it is hard for many to take courage of logic and recognise that determinisms destroy any basis for even the reasoning that gets to determinism.

    Determinism absolutely destroys rationality. Once you’ve seen it, you cannot unsee it, and it becomes a totally uncomplicated evident thing. Perhaps, that is my problem here.

  99. 99
    Origenes says:

    Determinism and understanding.

    For me, to clearly see that determinism is incompatible with rationality I had to realize that, under determinism, my understanding of things was no longer mine. At first, determinism didn’t seem completely absurd to me, because I labored under the false idea that determinism only applied to my reasoning, but that my understanding of things was (somehow) still under my control. I subconsciously made an illogical distinction between ‘reasoning’ and ‘understanding’.
    It was only at the moment that I realized that determinism entails that something beyond my control, causes me to ‘understand’ things …. it became completely clear to me how utterly incompatible determinism and rationality are.
    Because, if I understand things, not because I understand them, but because I’m “told” that I “understand” them, then I understand nothing and no rationality in me is to be found.

  100. 100
    kairosfocus says:

    Origenes,

    here is a sampler of the attitude, from de Laplace:

    We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect [–> often, Laplace’s Demon] which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes. —?Pierre Simon Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities

    That is the mindset, here presented by a leading and enduringly famous Mathematician-Physicist.

    Of course, my reply is, the absurd result implies major things are left out of the reckoning.

    KF

  101. 101
    Seversky says:

    Kairosfocus/100

    … for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes. —?Pierre Simon Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities

    Exactly so, An omniscient being who demonstrated foreknowledge of the future would mean that the future is already determined and exists to be known. We might, like Peter, try to deny it but we cannot avoid it.

  102. 102
    Seversky says:

    We are all, whether we like it or not, determined to some degree. For example,

    We are each just the latest link in a chain of procreation stretching back through the histories of our families to be lost in the mists of times past. We had no choice over when and where we were born or who our parents were. We had no choice over our genetic inheritance. We had no choice over what influenced our parents or more distant ancestors. We had no choice over what influenced us before we were aware of being influenced.

    For all the talk of free will, we are inescapably contingent beings and any account of free will must embrace that understanding.

    And, given how little we understand about the origins of life and the nature of consciousness, how do we know that rational, self-aware life-forms such as ourselves are not determined? How do we know that we are not just a necessary consequence of the outworking of natural laws and processes? And, if so, how is that a problem?

  103. 103
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, nope. The particular context of Laplace’s demons is the time direction insensitivity and utter determinism of a Newtonian, material world of atoms and bodies ruled by F = 0 => a = 0, F = dP/dt and F12 + F21 = 0. In that context of a material metaphysics with a deterministic equation set, once a single time point’s parameters and position momentum values are precisely fixed, the structure of the model dynamics set its prior and successive trajectory to all time. But, a world that is not like that, one in which we are not merely pre programmed computing substrates with associated sensors and actuators, a world in which we can actually reason . . . as is a subtext for your own argument to have any cogency . . . is a world of self moved agency not deterministic utter irrationality. And, you were in the general neighbourhood when it was pointed out that God being at the north pole of spacetime so that he is aware of the span of actual events is not equivalent to predetermination like Laplace’s demon. Indeed, I suspect part of the context that lends plausibility for some, is the same Newtonian clockwork cosmos vision. Which was never viable and has been shattered by the rise of statistical thermodynamics, quantum theory and relativity. our contingency is of course just a recognition that we are not utterly autonomous, we cannot leap off a high cliff, flap our arms and fly away at will. But we can freely and responsibly argue and type up objections, even fallacy riddled ones. KF

  104. 104
    Origenes says:

    A Compatibilistic Response to the Consequence Argument.

    1.) If determinism is true, then all our actions and thoughts are consequences of events and laws of nature in the remote past before we were born.
    2.) We have no control over circumstances that existed in the remote past before we were born, nor do we have any control over the laws of nature.
    3.) If A causes B, and we have no control over A, and A is sufficient for B, then we have no control over B.
    Therefore
    4.) If determinism is true, then we have no control over our own actions and thoughts.

    Compatibilism is the enigmatic view that determinism and free will can both be true. Slagle notes that compatibilism is “a common position among philosophers.” According to the compatibilist, it does not follow that we do not control our actions and thoughts. Nozik puts it thus:

    “No one has ever announced that, because determinism is true thermostats do not control the temperature” [Nozik, 81]

    IOW according to the compatibilist, it is coherent to say that we do control our actions and thoughts, just like it is coherent to say that a thermostat controls the temperature.

    So, according to compatibilism, from …

    … the fact that the cause and effect chain can be traced back to processes that precede that thermostat’s changing the temperature—and even that precede the thermostat’s existence, or the invention of thermostats—it does not follow that the thermostat is not controlling the temperature. [Slagle]”

    Compatibilism does not make any sense to me but it is widely held. Perhaps someone can explain.
    – – – –
    Merry Christmas everyone.

  105. 105
    Origenes says:

    Seversky @102

    And, given how little we understand about the origins of life and the nature of consciousness, how do we know that rational, self-aware life-forms such as ourselves are not determined? How do we know that we are not just a necessary consequence of the outworking of natural laws and processes? And, if so, how is that a problem?

    The problem is this: if physical determinism is true, then all of our conclusions are, at best, only accidentally true because they are produced by forces that leave rationality to the side. Some beliefs we hold might accidentally be true, but we could never know it. Even if we were allowed the freedom to check them we could not do so because our conclusions would not be brought about by reasoned investigation; it would be “merely fortuitous” or a “happy circumstance” if some turned out to be true. Under physical determinism, the necessary and sufficient causes of someone drawing a conclusion have nothing to do with rationality or reasons, and therefore whatever reasons I think I have for a conclusion are unnecessary, given that I would have drawn the same conclusion without them. And even my reasons (or my awareness of reasons) are unnecessary since they do not explain my conclusion or belief.
    Summing up, the problem is ***the total destruction of rationality***. A far more serious problem than the one that is wittingly described in the Stanford entry on causal determinism:

    … what is at stake in determinism: our fears about our own status as free agents in the world. In Laplace’s story, a sufficiently bright demon who knew how things stood in the world 100 years before my birth could predict every action, every emotion, every belief in the course of my life. Were she then to watch me live through it, she might smile condescendingly, as one who watches a marionette dance to the tugs of strings that it knows nothing about. We can’t stand the thought that we are (in some sense) marionettes.

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