Saturday, September 08, 2007

An admission and an indication of circularity

Continued from this thread, where John Morales has been very kindly and gently pointing out that he sees "no evidence that (I) understand logic".

So, John, ISTM you are implying that my accusation of the JN's reasoning as question-begging is funny b/c my own reasoning also begs the question.
If that's the case, then you are partly right and partly wrong. I *am* begging a similar question, true, but in questions of ultimates like this one, everyone has to appeal to faith at some point. That is what my questioning of the JN has been designed to reveal. I have faith in the God of the Bible. The JN has faith that "the road to truth is paved with evidence."

So, what's going on here? I will come right out and say that I have this faith. I will defend it as rational and as in full comport with reality. However, the JN denies that he appeals to faith. That has been my central criticism of his position so far. The problem is, these faith positions must undergo examination. My lines of questioning just also happen to demonstrate that his faith does not comport with reality, because it is self-defeating in its circularity.
My own faith position is circular in the same sense as his, and it is a presupposition as his is. But mine is not self-defeating, which is the beauty of the thing.

22 comments:

John Morales said...

Rhology,

There’s no discredit in being unfamiliar with formal logic, it’s just a conceptual tool, and in principle you can reason as well without using it.

Yes, among many other reasons (I posted the first five that popped into my mind) for my amusement, I recognised the irony of your accusation.

Yes, JN made assumptions too. I shan’t quibble (unless you demand it) about the nature of and the use he has for his assumptions as compared to yours, nor about the difference between what you call his faith and what you call yours.

Yes, you picked up an example of circular reasoning (note circular reasoning is not per-se invalid, merely tautological) and trumpeted it triumphantly, as if you’d addressed his claim generally. Over and over.
You did not note that his proposition (a) was an axiom, not a conclusion and (b), circular only when applied to itself, thus being generally true.

In your “begging the question” post, I submit that reading such as:
before I break into an analysis and God is the grounds for all rationality, logic, and induction would lead a naïve reader (such as I was at the time) to infer you claim a knowledge of such (i.e. analysis, logic).

I would be interested in your explanation of why the trio (rationality, logic, induction) was chosen. What’s wrong with deduction? Doesn’t logic already include induction? etc.

The other way in which he is inconsistent is in his borrowing of capital from the Christian worldview to bash Christianity. As an atheist, he has no way to account for reason, logic, or induction, but he uses them all to make his case […].
I’m sorry, I still can’t read this with a straight face. It’s just… too funny.

Let me see, you’ve made it clear that you’re untrained in logic, but you claim you can show where his is wrong. You’ve made it clear (hint: did Aristotelian logic precede or follow the founding of Christianity?) you are untutored in the history of logic, but you can account for it and JN can’t? You use rationality, yet somehow conclude he cannot himself use such by virtue of his atheism?

Oh dear. There is a word for this – arrogation.
Those who arrogate are known as arrogant.

I have this faith. I will defend it as rational and as in full comport with reality.

Yes, that's what I think JN is trying to get you to do. It's been a Sisyphean task so far.

My own faith position is circular in the same sense as his, and it is a presupposition as his is. But mine is not self-defeating, which is the beauty of the thing.

Really? I disagree with two out of those three claims.

In short, there’s no discredit in being unfamiliar with formal logic, unless you are and yet strongly imply otherwise.
I was saddened by Pilgrimsarbour's comment, for example, who seems to be under the impression that you know whereof you speak.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Greetings, Rhology!

First, I want to clarify that I do not accept “The road to truth is paved with evidence” as a statement of faith. Rather, it is a first principle. Perhaps better stated, it is a self-subsisting first principle, insofar as it can be applied to itself to support itself. Perhaps you believe all axioms and first principles are statements of “faith.” I disagree, believing faith is a particular word only suitable in particular contexts.

Second, I am glad to see you admit that you, too, beg the question. As I explained in the most recent post on my own blog, the entire Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG) shamelessly begs the question. If TAG begs the question--and it does--then it has no veridical worth and ought to be retired along with the argument from design and other such fallacies.

Third, you have not shown how my first principle is self-defeating except to say it begs the question. Perhaps, in alleging that my first principle is self-defeating, you are appealing to TAG--which has become your common strategy. However, because I have already debunked TAG as so much question begging, that would be a silly argument to which to appeal. By the way, you also have failed to show how your first principle comports with reality and how it avoids defeating itself. Declarative statements are different from convincing argumentation. Your stock and trade is the former, with an utter dearth of the latter.

Also, the Christian god cannot be an axiom because the Christian god is reducible. The Christian god can be reduced to immaterial consciousness. Axioms are supposed to be irreducible, so the Christian god fails to be axiomatic.

By the way, the Christian god fails as a foundation for logic, as well. If logic is dependent upon the Christian god, then logic is contingent to the deity. That is, god could change the laws of logic on a whim. If that is the case, then logic is unreliable because, at any moment, the laws could change.


Yours,
JN

John Morales said...

TAG... That's the one where you need God in order for reason to exist, but reason exists therefore God must?

Bah. It's pretty simple to dispose of.

Why pressupose God in order to pressupose reason?

Skip the God step, just pressupose reason. Works every bit as well.

John Morales said...

Hm, it occurs to me that it may not be obvious to Rhology that, instead of the constant (reason) in the previous post I could've used a variable (x).

Just pointing this out in case nitpicking is in the air.

Rhology said...

Hi JN and John,

Ah geez, I haven't responded here at all! Sorry.

John,

I'm glad to see you see the obvious - that the JN has faith as well, in his 1st principles. that's kind of the point I was hoping to make. For my argumentation, it's a necessary 1st step. It has the added advantage of being obvious.

I'd indeed be interested in what you see as the diff between the way he uses his faith in his presupps and the way I do.

I'm not the one claiming circular reasoning is invalid per se (though I guess it's possible I've been careless in my verbiage - you may be able to quote me doing so, and if you can, I wouldn't be surprised and would have to retract). But when being questioned on one's 1st principles, it does little good to appeal to it to answer the questions (like I do, and like the JN does but won't admit).

I would be interested in your explanation of why the trio (rationality, logic, induction) was chosen. What’s wrong with deduction? Doesn’t logic already include induction? etc.

Nothing's wrong with deduction.
Strictly speaking, wouldn't we say that logic includes deduction also?
I'm just trying to express that the JN has assumed these things without support from his own worldview to do so, thus forcing him to borrow from mine.

did Aristotelian logic precede or follow the founding of Christianity?

That is an irrelevant question. I'm sorry - you're not following my argument. What is the ORIGIN of logic, reason, etc? Did Aristotle (and the 1st guy to pick up a rock and think "Hmm, this rock is in my hand. that means it's no longer on the ground!") CREATE logic (ie, is it a human convention?) or did he DISCOVER it (ie, is it an immaterial standard for the universe)?

You use rationality, yet somehow conclude he cannot himself use such by virtue of his atheism?

Correct. My worldview allows for it on its own merits; his does not.

Those who arrogate are known as arrogant.

It's not on my own merits that this is the case, but rather on the merits of our respective worldviews.

that's what I think JN is trying to get you to do.

Well, I need assurance that evidence is reliable for finding truth first. If we presuppose the JN's worldview, I have yet to see a good reason to believe that.

I was saddened by Pilgrimsarbour's comment, for example, who seems to be under the impression that you know whereof you speak.

Hmm, I heard once that those who arrogate are known as arrogant.

As for why not presuppose reason or (x) instead of God, I've dealt with that here.


JN,

If TAG begs the question--and it does--then it has no veridical worth and ought to be retired along with the argument from design and other such fallacies.

Then it's curtains for your 1st principle as well.
*EVERYONE* begs the Q as far as their 1st principles. I just want you to admit that you do the same, and then we can move on. John Morales can see it; why won't you just say you see it too?

you have not shown how my first principle is self-defeating except to say it begs the question.

I disagree, but you read about it here.

If logic is dependent upon the Christian god, then logic is contingent to the deity.

But I've not claimed it's dependent on Him. It flows out from Him - it's an attribute; the way He is.

Peace,
Rhology

John Morales said...

Rhology,

I have been charitable, so far, but it has become clear to me that you are not honestly engaging me; whether this is due to you not making the effort to comprehend my posts or due to you lacking the ability to do so I do not know.

Basically, I find your apparent misapprehensions must be either deliberate or due to obtuseness. Your technique of quoting one line or paragraph out of context and then quibbling is either foolish or just plain dishonest.

I tire of reiterating and rephrasing to accommodate you.

Look, here is evidence:
J: “The other way in which he is inconsistent is in his borrowing of capital from the Christian worldview to bash Christianity. As an atheist, he has no way to account for reason”
[…]
You’ve made it clear (hint: did Aristotelian logic precede or follow the founding of Christianity?) you are untutored in the history of logic, but you can account for it and JN can’t?

R: “did Aristotelian logic precede or follow the founding of Christianity?”
That is an irrelevant question. I'm sorry - you're not following my argument
.

That was an example of what I mean.

To put it bluntly, I suspect you have little idea of how pathetic you appear, apparently unable to parse clear English or to fathom sentences with clauses, pseudo-arguing your points with pseudo-logic.

Rhology said...

OK, I'll pseudo-ask you, then, to explain how I got you wrong.

You are the one who are getting the question wrong - never have I based any of my argument on a history of the study of logic by humanity. My position is that logic is grounded in the God of the Bible and thus, anyone who discovers and/or uses logic discovers an attribute of God. God created the universe and predates the religions He started. Why, then, would a question about Aristotle be even relevant?

Peace,
Rhology

John Morales said...

anyone who discovers and/or uses logic discovers an attribute of God

Sheesh you have a lot of discovery to do, then!

Go and buy a textbook, then read it. Learn the attributes of God that way, if you want. No-one is stopping you.

If you'd bothered to read the link I posted long ago, you'd find there are many kinds of "logic". If you research its history, you'll find it was independently discovered in China, India, and Greece, well before Christianity came around.

Why, then, would a question about Aristotle be even relevant?
Well, medieval Christian logic was based on the re-discovery of Aristotle's works, for one thing. A seminal work was "Tractacus", by Peter of Spain.
Also, you said earlier that you agreed precisely with St. Anselm's metaphilosophy. He was of medieval times.

My position is that logic is grounded in the God of the Bible and thus, anyone who discovers and/or uses logic discovers an attribute of God.
That's basically Platonic idealism. It predates Christianity, too.

As for the God of the bible, you do realise it's an amalgam of pre-judaic deities, don't you? Christianity is a Johnny-come-lately, as far as religions go.

John Morales said...

Bah, I misremembered the title. It's Tractatus.

http://www.wordmp3.com/gs/peterofspain.htm

That's part of the history of your religion, by the way. I'd have thought you'd have some interest in that.

Rhology said...

Hey John,

It's far better to learn the attributes of God thru the Bible, actually. A logic textbook would only present a rundown of one or two of His attributes. Which are definitely worthy of exploration, you're absolutely right. And I'd like to.

Many kinds of "logic"... well, that depends on what you mean. Some of the most basic laws of logic, law of non-contradiction, law of identity, etc, are not variable by location or "type" of logic. But you probably mean sthg else.

Hmm, I don't remember saying I agreed "exactly" with Anselm's metaphilosophy. I remember correcting someone about where the Transcendental Argument for God came from...I might've forgotten.
But again, whether it's medeival Xtian logic, Aristotelian, Chinese, doesn't matter. It is all discovered, it came from somewhere. It's grounded in sthg.

And you'd need to make an argument that TGOTB is an amalgam...that's just a historically ignorant thing to say.

Finally, thanks for the link: I'll listen to it. I am interested.

I'd have thought...

Geez, a guy can't get a break. Wow - I haven't ever heard of a slightly-obscure Xtian logician from medeival times, suddenly I'm not interested in the history of my own religion.

Peace,
Rhology

John Morales said...


J:you said earlier that you agreed precisely with St. Anselm's metaphilosophy.
R:I don't remember saying I agreed "exactly" with Anselm's metaphilosophy
.
...
J:It seems to me your metaphysics could be summarised (not in my own words) thus “Nor do I seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may understand. For this too I believe, that unless I first believe, I shall not understand."
R:Yes, that is precisely right.

Regarding the history, the work of that "slightly-obscure Xtian logician" was integral to apologetics for centuries.

Regarding the nature of the biblical God, that's my opinion.

Note:
I spent nearly three years at a Jesuit boarding school (in Spain) in my youth, and have been exposed to rigorous Catholicism. So I am not unaware of the Bible's contents.

John Morales said...

Geez, a guy can't get a break.

Rhology, do yourself a favor and look up the etymology of the idiomatic ejaculation "geez".

To some, "taking the Lord's name in vain" is not a good thing.

John Morales said...

Many kinds of "logic"... well, that depends on what you mean. Some of the most basic laws of logic, law of non-contradiction, law of identity, etc, are not variable by location or "type" of logic. But you probably mean sthg else.
Did you read the contents of the link I posted long ago? That explicitly explains what I mean.
whether it's medeival Xtian logic, Aristotelian, Chinese, doesn't matter. It is all discovered, it came from somewhere. It's grounded in sthg.
Since apparently further reiteration is required, I shall leaven it with levity.
Rhology: I need to assume God, or I can’t use logic.
Rhology’s mythical Xtian logician: I need to assume God, or I can’t use logic.
Logician: I need to assume some axioms, or I can’t build a formal logic system.
Rhology: … Um. There’s more?
Rhology’s mythical Xtian logician: Yes, now we need to assume some axioms, or I can’t build a formal logic system.
John: Hm. The Xtian logician and the logician are now at the same place.
Rhology: ________________________.
Rhology: No, it’s the same thing! See, both make assumptions! The God assumption is necessary because I say so! TAG!!!

Rhology said...

Hi John,

[[rummages around in other posts]]
Ah, you must mean this article. No, to be honest, I missed it, but I read it when you mentioned it here.
Very possibly from sheer laziness, but also from peer pressure, one might say, I'm not inclined to morph my vocabulary to the extent that I'd use "logical" and such correctly, for a few reasons. Most people don't use it that way, for one thing; to say "logical" communicates what I'm trying to say. Also, I don't understand the subject well enough - better the devil I know than the one I don't.
I appreciate the link, though.

It is, now that I think about it, irrelevant to the topic at hand, though. Let me make it more explicit. On naturalism, logic, any logic, is nothing more than a human convention. A theistic God is required to justify positing a concept of logic that extends beyond human convention. Of course, the problem with logic as human convention is that it could be changed from person to person, and there would be no call to think that the universe operated according to, say, the law of non-contradiction, since logic is merely a human convention. Additionally, you could say sthg and I could take it in completely the opposite way that you meant it, and neither of us are right nor wrong.
That's what I mean when I say that all logic, regardless of which group of humans discovered and wrote about it, is God's logic. Without God, where is the standard?

As for whether the God assumption is necessary b/c *I* say so, an argument to the contrary remains to be seen.

Peace,
Rhology

John Morales said...

Very possibly from sheer laziness, but also from peer pressure, one might say, I'm not inclined to morph my vocabulary to the extent that I'd use "logical" and such correctly
Fine. Perhaps you should put this as a disclaimer so, when you post about analysis and logic, people know you’re just guessing.

It is, now that I think about it, irrelevant to the topic at hand, though. Let me make it more explicit. On naturalism, logic, any logic, is nothing more than a human convention. A theistic God is required to justify positing a concept of logic that extends beyond human convention. Of course, the problem with logic as human convention is that it could be changed from person to person, and there would be no call to think that the universe operated according to, say, the law of non-contradiction, since logic is merely a human convention. Additionally, you could say sthg and I could take it in completely the opposite way that you meant it, and neither of us are right nor wrong.

That is so… awful. It is wrong on so many levels it’s obvious you don’t “get it”.
Want to prove my opinion wrong? Just try to express the above “argument” in symbolic logic, and as you do so you may begin to see it for what it is.

As for whether the God assumption is necessary b/c *I* say so, an argument to the contrary remains to be seen.
Normally, the person making a claim has the onus of justification. I say there is no need for the assumption, you say there is. Support your claim, then, other than by assertion or Platonic idealism.

Sigh.

John Morales said...

PS Symbolic logic needn't be scary symbols. For example, by using the symbols X, P and the parentheses, I can point out:

Of course, the problem with logic as human convention is that it could be changed from person to person, and there would be no call to think that the universe operated according to, say, the law of non-contradiction, since logic is merely a human convention.
----->
Of course, the problem with X as human convention is that it could be changed from person to person, and there would be no call to think that the universe operated according to, say, the law of P(X), since X is merely a human convention.
====>
Consider variable X as a member of (logic, reason, mathematics, music, gardening, speech), and P(X) as a property of X such as for logic, non-contradiction; for music, scales; for gardening, seasonality etc).

If that were a valid argument, it would hold for all values of X.

John Morales said...

Oh yes, it irks me you single out non-contradiction.

Here:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ternary_logic

Rhology said...

Hey there,

Perhaps you should put this as a disclaimer so, when you post about analysis and logic, people know you’re just guessing.

"Guessing" and using words in their customary manner are not equivalent.

Just try to express the above “argument” in symbolic logic, and as you do so you may begin to see it for what it is.

Sorry, can't. You may have to condescend to my lower level of education to express your argument.

the person making a claim has the onus of justification.

I've made it several times - the impossibility of the contrary, the fairly-obvious fact that you use logic and reason, assuming they are useful and available and make sense, even though your worldview does not allow for that assumption.
You reveal that you know God exists, but explicitly you reveal that you hate Him so much that you'll go to any lengths to ignore Him.

And this idea that it "should" hold for all values of X, what you ignore is evidenced when you gave examples of what X could be. Logic, reason, gardening. Gardening? Logic is a 1st principle of reasoning and in that, isn't it a bit unique from, say, gardening?

it irks me you single out non-contradiction.

Argument by superior education, hand-waving, and obscure reference. That article didn't tell me much, but perhaps you can describe how it clarifies that a=non-a sometimes apparently, and I'm guessing this is what you mean though I could be wrong, does not hold.

Peace,
Rhology

John Morales said...

Rhology,

I was being polite when I said guessing. More to the point, using “words in their customary manner” when discussing these issues allows for plenty of sophistry, semantic ambiguity and lack of clarity – exactly what you seem to desire.
Your tone (in the post to which I originally commented) attempted to project an image of expertise which only works with others who are equally clueless.

You don’t agree that gardening is a human convention that could be changed from person to person, and seasonality can be considered a law of gardening?
OK. What about music/scales, then?

And this idea that it "should" hold for all values of X… is talking past you, I know. After all, you wouldn’t want to speak of arguments in a sense other than “disputations”. Ahem.

Obscure reference? This is an obscure reference (disclaimer - it's also well beyond my level of expertise): http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-manyvalued/
Intro: Many-valued logics are non-classical logics. They are similar to classical logic because they accept the principle of truth-functionality, namely, that the truth of a compound sentence is determined by the truth values of its component sentences (and so remains unaffected when one of its component sentences is replaced by another sentence with the same truth value). But they differ from classical logic by the fundamental fact that they do not restrict the number of truth values to only two: they allow for a larger set W of truth degrees.

My point being I think it’s silly to postulate a monolithic, canonical “logic” in some Platonic realm from which (smart) people copy their concepts.

but perhaps you can describe how it clarifies that a=non-a sometimes apparently
It was in the article:
------
In this truth table, the UNKNOWN state can be metaphorically thought of as a sealed box containing either an unambiguously TRUE or unambiguously FALSE value. The knowledge of whether any particular UNKNOWN state secretly represents TRUE or FALSE at any moment in time is not available. However, certain logical operations can yield an unambiguous result, even if they involve at least one UNKNOWN operand. For example, since TRUE OR TRUE equals TRUE, and TRUE OR FALSE also equals TRUE, one can infer that TRUE OR UNKNOWN equals TRUE, as well. In this example, since either bivalent state could be underlying the UNKNOWN state, but either state also yields the same result, a definitive TRUE results in all three cases
------
i.e. A = ~A for A=UNKNOWN

J:the person making a claim has the onus of justification.
R:I've made it several times - the impossibility of the contrary, the fairly-obvious fact that you use logic and reason, assuming they are useful and available and make sense, even though your worldview does not allow for that assumption
.
1.I wrote Support your claim, then, other than by assertion or Platonic idealism. That’s an assertion.
2.Two assertions, really. My worldview has no need for that assumption, so it’s utterly irrelevant whether it allows for it or not.

John Morales said...

Meta-comments:

1. I did actually post my world-view in your blog previously, so I'm not sure why you choose to misrepresent it.

2. If you think I'm arrogating and projecting an image of expertise, you're misreading me (it may be the case relative to you, however). I do however think your posts could thus be interpreted.

I'm not an expert, especially if you compare me to a scientist, just not clueless.

3. You say you can't use symbolic logic, but you're doing so in symbols (letters, words) that represent concepts, using a syntax and grammar that's shared between us.
It's not a formal system designed to manipulate truth-concepts, so it's harder to work with than formal logic systems. Obviously, these need to be learnt to be used.

Meta-point: This is to say, I don't consider myself "your superior", except perhaps in the sense I don't shackle my thinking with dogma, and try to be honest with myself.

Bruce said...

First, I want to clarify that I do not accept “The road to truth is paved with evidence” as a statement of faith. Rather, it is a first principle.

I prefer my first principle.

Reason is reasonable (aka logic is logical).

It doesn't take much in the way of faith to accept this as self evident and I defy anyone to give a more reasonable first principle.

John Morales said...

Bruce, JN has taken a break from blogging.

But your comment still shows that atheism doesn't imply any shared positive claims.

Rhology keeps talking about the "atheist mindset", but the only shared thing atheists have is disbelief in deities.

Ah well.