Tuesday, April 05, 2011

No comment necessary

Bruce said...

Let me help you get unstuck. I help my friend Billy Pilgrim get unstuck and look how he turned out.

The 'absolutely true that absolute truth doesn't exist' is a cheap gimmick to force people into a desired answer. And using a question like 'Is it OK to molest children for fun' is picking an extreme example that no rational person would argue with.
Why didn't they ask "If you saw a madman about to blow up a bus full of children, and you could stop him by shooting and killing him, would that be OK?"
Or, "Is it OK to steal food to keep your family alive?"
And the step 8 answer is just a lazy example of circular logic.

Truth is a relative thing and it evolves over time.

The world is not black and white. Good or Evil. It's mostly grey.
I would argue that God's own rules have changed over time. Would Jesus order the slaughter of every man, woman and child in a city? Would society today condone such an action? No. but, it's the preferred modus operandi in the OT.

And I'll ask again Why is it OK for God to kill or order the killing of innocents just because it fits into his plan? Why is he exempt from his own rules?

The original sin answer/excuse you provided is pretty weak. Condemning millions for the innocent act of a two.

BTW, please try to keep your response a little more civil if possible. I tend to quickly dismiss people who resort to insults and name calling as they show they would rather think with their emotions rather then their brains.

Rhology said...

Hi Bruce,

is a cheap gimmick to force people into a desired answer

Is that true?



'Is it OK to molest children for fun' is picking an extreme example that no rational person would argue with.

What's wrong with that?
And is it OK to molest children for fun?
I guess I don't understand your reluctance to answer the question. I have zero doubt that you don't molest children, nor would you ever entertain such a notion, so I figure your reluctance stems from the notion that you know you're caught but don't want to admit it. If not, please explain why it's a bad question.


Truth is a relative thing and it evolves over time. 

Is the truth of the statement "Truth is a relative thing and it evolves over time" a relative thing? Relative to what?
Does the truth of the statement "Truth is a relative thing and it evolves over time" evolve over time? From what into what, and how do you know? And however you know, does THAT evolve over time and is it relative? If so, relative to what?



I would argue that God's own rules have changed over time.

And that is because you are ignorant of the Bible or are unwilling to treat it fairly according to its own terms.



Would Jesus order the slaughter of every man, woman and child in a city?

1) Yes, b/c Jesus is the God of the Old Testament.
2) Wait a sec, though. I thought you just told me that truth evolves over time, and is relative. Please explain how you can say that and then say this. What happened to the relativistic ethic you were espousing?
If you use an argument from modernity, how do you know that modern is better? Is the truth that


Why is it OK for God to kill or order the killing of innocents just because it fits into his plan? Why is he exempt from his own rules?

B/c the rule is "don't kill ppl w/o justification". That's the definition of murder. Anytime God puts someone to death, it's justifiable.


The original sin answer/excuse you provided is pretty weak.

Is the truth of the statement "The original sin answer/excuse you provided is pretty weak" a relative thing? Relative to what?
Does the truth of the statement "The original sin answer/excuse you provided is pretty weak" evolve over time? From what into what, and how do you know? And however you know, does THAT evolve over time and is it relative? If so, relative to what?


they would rather think with their emotions rather then their brains. 

I'm sorry to say that, coming from someone who refuses to think absolute truth exists, it's hard to take this kind of statement seriously.

Peace,
Rhology

Bruce said...

@Rhology,
Are you just pulling my leg? April Fools joke?

Rhology said...

Bruce,
Nope! Today's the 4th anyway. :-)
I'll look fwd to your reply.


OK, Last post on this for the day. The real world is calling.
@Rhology,
I apologize for being rude but I won't comment on your last posts right now other then to say that your logic and reasoning are extremely poor. I'll point it out later if I have the time and energy. Others may feel free to do so.

109 comments:

bossmanham said...

How do you get blogger to retain the little symbols and font?

Rhology said...

Copy and paste straight from that blog. But I've had trouble with that in the past when the font is different.

Bruce said...

Interesting that you didn't include all the comments. The comments that started the dialogue you did publish.

You know, where you were rude;

He says don't MURDER. I'm surprised to find you this dense on this issue.
And God can't murder - all ppl are condemned by their sin. He has every right to put anyone to death whenever.
So, nice try but this is a very elementary distinction. You'd do well to learn it.

Fail - you really think absolute truth doesn't exist? Why are you even blogging? How absurd. You're illustrating the site's purpose perfectly - reject the God of the Bible and you're a fool. You are acting like a fool, an idiot.

You also left out the comments from the people who spoke up to defend me. :-)

Rhology said...

I posted the relevant ones. And the link, if you noticed that. Anyone can see how it went down in totality.

I'm sorry you think I was rude, but I was surprised. You were dense. And you were acting like a fool/idiot.

What would be great is if you'd stop spouting such absurdities.

See, if you say I was rude but you don't think absolute truth exists, then I was not rude. And rude. And blue 5s faster than Monday.

Damion said...

What is this "absolute truth" I keep hearing about? I would think that if a proposition is true (and we're using classical logic rather than fuzzy logic) then it is just plain true or just plain false. How could it be absolutely (or relatively) true or false?

Can we come up with examples of absolute truths and relative truths for the sake of illustration?

Rhology said...

To tell you the truth, my biggest problem with Bruce's comment was this:

Truth is a relative thing and it evolves over time.

He hasn't even tried to answer that, and it's sort of pitiful.

Anyway, I like and would agree with this from Stand to Reason:


In the metaphysical and correct sense, absolute truth is the same thing as objective truth. On this view, people discover truth, they do not create it, and a claim is made true or false in some way or another by reality itself, totally independently of whether the claim is accepted by anyone. Moreover, an absolute truth conforms to the three fundamental laws of logic, which are themselves absolute truths. According to objectivism, a commitment to the absolute truth of some proposition P entails no thesis about a knowing subject’s epistemic situation regarding P.

Damion said...

It seems to me that most of the time when we say some given proposition X is true, we mean that it models reality well enough for our own purposes.

Consider a few statements:
Damion is bald.
The Earth is spherical.
Jesus was a faith-healer.

Now I'm hesistant to call any of these statements ABSOLUTELY true because when it comes down to it each of them is a little bit off. The Earth, for example, isn't perfectly spherical, and I do have a layer of peach fuzz growing out of some regions on my head. Still, the statements are RELATIVELY true enough for the sake of conveying information to other speakers of English.

Now, perhaps you can come up with a statement that is absolutely true and non-tautological but I cannot think of any right now.

All that said, I don't think what I'm talking about here has much to do with what Bruce was getting at. I think he was talking about the evolution of moral ideas over time, e.g. slavery and witch burning and such like.

Coram Deo said...

Rudeness is a relative thing and it evolves over time.

Brett said...

+1, Coram Deo!

Rhology said...

Coram Deo,

Yes, that obvious fact seems to escape Bruce. Unfortunately, it's not the only obvious thing that escapes him.


Dami0n,

Yes, I would not say your statements are ABSOLUTELY true.
I am here now is one that is absolutely true.
God exists.
The laws of logic exist.

If Bruce was talking about the evolution of moral laws over time:
1) It's amazing that he whiffed so badly on the whole "rudeness evolving" thing.
2) He was welcome to clarify, and didn't.
3) He didn't qualify his statement.

So I'll say probably not, but he wasn't clear enough to say for sure.

David said...

You need to pack it in with IATS over at the King and I blog.

He owned you. He knows it. I know it. Anyone following the argument knows it.

Damion said...

Rho,

Whenever I say something like "X exists" I am almost invariably referring to the presence of a certain collection of matter/energy in a particular portion of space/time. When you replace X with "the laws of logic" or "God" or some other hypothetical immaterial and presumably transcendant entity, you have a problem conveying the meaning that you want to convey, because you've used the term "exists" in a radically different way than it is usually used when we are talking about the sorts of things that we all agree really do exist.

Rhology said...

I guess I'm confused by your meaning, Dami0n.
Do the laws of logic exist?

And I understand that that's how you talk and what you mean, but why should I or anyone else be limited to the same, especially when it's so obviously false?

Damion said...

Clearly, the laws of logic and grammar and the great State of Oklahoma do not exist in the sense that I am using the word "exist" so we need to be careful here so as to avoid equivocation. In what sense would you say such laws exist?

Rhology said...

I'd say you need to revise your use of the word "exist".

I don't know of any other way to explain it than to say existence = being. They are.

Damion said...

I'm trying to be very precise here, and I told you exactly what I mean when I say something exists. Can you at least try to unpack what it means to say that something exists once you take away the whole matter/energy somewhere in space/time aspect of existence?

If you cannot do this, I am genuinely at a loss to evaluate statements like "logic exists" or "god exists" or even "grammar exists" since such things clearly do not exist in the same sense as my car and my computer.

Rhology said...

Given the way you've been speaking, I'm not sure what you want me to say. You categorically reject, a priori, whatever doesn't fit your little matter/energy box.
If you want to deny that the laws of logic exist though they are clearly not matter or energy, be my guest, man. It just makes atheistic naturalism look really, really silly.

The laws of logic, like God, are immaterial, and yet they certainly exist. They are conceptual. They are abstract. They are, but they are not material, not energy.

We could go at this in this way: Does intelligence exists? I guess you'd say that it's an emergent property of matter that is present in some things/beings more than in others, no? If not, please correct me.
Yet, you have no objective way to measure its presence, just its expression in conformity to various preconceived notions.

God is b/c He has said so. If you don't believe it, that's in no way my problem. You believe plenty of silly things, like that laws of logic don't exist even though you strive to argue according to them. And each of those results seems to be b/c you are unwilling to think outside your box.

Damion said...


The laws of logic, like God, are immaterial, and yet they certainly exist. They are conceptual. They are abstract. They are, but they are not material, not energy.


In what sense do they exist, other than in the minds of those who believe and follow them? I mean, if that is your criterion, then Santa and Krampus and the Tooth Færy exist as well.

Rhology said...

How would one NOT follow the laws of logic?

Matt said...

DAMION SAID:

What is this "absolute truth" I keep hearing about? I would think that if a proposition is true (and we're using classical logic rather than fuzzy logic) then it is just plain true or just plain false. How could it be absolutely (or relatively) true or false?

For formal logical systems, a truth-valuation function, whose codomain is a set of truth-values, is defined relative to a model over the expressions of the language. For classical logics, this truth-value set contains only "true" and "false"; for three-valued logic, it contains three elements, and for fuzzy logic, it contains the elements on the interval [0,1] (where 0 is "false" and 1 is "true"). Speaking about absolute truth in terms of formal logic, the issue is not the language in question (and hence the set of truth-values), but the model used to define the truth-valuation function. "Absolute truth" would refer to having one model, and one model only, to apply to all propositions throughout all time, in all contexts. "Relative truth" would refer to having different models in different contexts - e.g., one model for one culture, another model for another culture, and so on. "Evolving truth" would refer to a model that changes over time. I suppose one could differentiate between "evolving universal truth" - one model that applies to all contexts, but that changes over time, and "evolving relative truth" - a set of models that apply in different contexts and which change over time. In opposition to this, "absolute truth" could also be called "unchanging universal truth."

Now I'm hesistant to call any of these statements ABSOLUTELY true because when it comes down to it each of them is a little bit off. The Earth, for example, isn't perfectly spherical, and I do have a layer of peach fuzz growing out of some regions on my head. Still, the statements are RELATIVELY true enough for the sake of conveying information to other speakers of English.

As above, the issue (as I see it) is not the vagueness of the proposition being discussed, but the universality and constancy of the standard by which the truth-values of propositions are evaluated. A vague proposition P can be truth-evaluated to '0.95', but that has nothing to do with whether or not the standard by which P is truth-evaluated to '0.95' is universal or constant.

Damion said...

I could be mistaken, but it looks to me like Matt just answered Rho's last question by outlining a few possible ways to modify or even eliminate the law of excluded middle.

As to "unchanging universal truth" doesn't that simply assume the existence of an unchanging universal mind in which propositions can be held and evaluated? If so, doesn't that sort of beg the question of theism from the get go?

Rhology said...

By more precisely explaining what that law of logic is in all its aspects? I don't see that at all.

I'd like you to focus on an easier one, then - the law of non-contradiction. How would one not "follow" it?

And yes, that does entatil that. No, it doesn't beg the question. Don't confuse "this is the only rational conclusion" with "this begs the question". They're not the same, no matter how inconvenient the rational conclusion.

Damion said...

I suppose we can talk about the LNC if you want, but first I'd like you to clear up whether the LEM is optional or binding.

Rhology said...

That's a good question.
Would you agree that the LEM is either binding or non-binding?

Damion said...

Of course I won't admit to that, since we've already seen examples of propositions to which the LEM seems to apply perfectly well and other examples where it doesn't seem to work so well. Personally, I'd like to see a good deal more fuzzy (between 0 and 1) thinking about truth values of propositions, e.g. instead of "Patrick Stewart is bald" we might say "Patrick Stewart is 90% bald."

Back to the subject now. Let's say we both agree that at least some the laws of logic are useful for understanding the world and talking to each other about it. You seem to think that they also *EXIST* (in some as yet undefined sense) even when there are no biological neural networks around to do any thinking about them. Why is that?

Damion said...

Alternatively, we can come at this problem from another angle altogether. Given that the laws of grammar are completely indispensable for us to communicate with one another and express our ideas, does it follow that they must exist transcendentally in the same way that the laws of logic do? If not, how do we distinguish between ideas like grammar which are inherent to humans and ideas like logic which exist in some inhuman way?

Rhology said...

Forcing the question to "is Patrick Stewart bald?" is a false dilemma and so I don't think it would pertain to LEM. You have to ask the right question to invoke the LEM, or better stated, you have to not ask the wrong question. Have you stopped beating your wife? etc.

Well, the sense in which they exist is not undefined. They are immaterial and conceptual. That's not possible on naturalism, which is a great reason to reject naturalism.
And the thing is, while there's no room for the obvious (a non-biological mind to conceptualise them) on naturalism, there's plenty on Christianity.

We differentiate between them in terms of their applicability, both scope and focus. Ie, the laws of grammar govern EXPRESSION and COMMUNICATION, not ontology and essence like the laws of logic govern. It's not a good comparison.

Damion said...

What does it mean to say something exists only conceptually but doesn't exist in the real world of electrons and electricity moving through space over time?

We both know what is means to hold a concept in one's mind, because we can do that ourselves.  We cannot do that without making certain neurones fire in the process, which I consider somewhat indicative. Perhaps the cortex is actually doing the thinking? If that is so, then might not laws of logic (along with every other proposition) exist only inasmuch as biological neural networks are around to do the thinking about them?

Rhology said...

The same way that your thoughts just now exist. And the message communicated in the words you typed into the combox.


We both know what is means to hold a concept in one's mind, because we can do that ourselves.

Right, and there you go! :-)


Perhaps the cortex is actually doing the thinking?

The question mark ? says everything we need to know. You don't know, on naturalism, just what is thinking. At best you know that it INVOLVES neurons in the brain, but you don't know the origin.

But we go back, here, to the difficulty of universal concepts w/o a universal mind.


then might not laws of logic (along with every other proposition) exist only inasmuch as biological neural networks are around to do the thinking about them?

Let me ask this in response: Would it be true, before life began, that rocks were both rocks and not-rocks at the same time in the same way?
Ie, that the law of identity was not in effect?

Damion said...

To say that proposition X is true is to say that there is a mind thinking the proposition and that the proposition models reality well enough for our purposes. This holds for the law of identity as well as any other meaningful proposition.

To your question of whether a given proposition was true before there were any living minds to think it, I would say that obviously a proposition that does not yet exist cannot be thought to be true or false. A proposition has to firsrt exist as a thought in a mind, being thought about by a collection of matter that is capable of thought.

Damion said...

If materialism is true, then of course no propositions can exist (much less exist and be true) until a brain evolves which is capable of thinking those propositions.

If dualism is true, then minds "exist" in some mysterious way that we do not understand and cannot be tested.

All versions of TAG presuppose that dualism is true and that therefore some things (e.g. gods, angels, laws of logic) "exist" in a mysterious way that has little to do with matter and energy, but that somehow ineracts with the natural world.

I'm willing to allow that either naturalism or dualistic supernaturalism could possibly be true, but I don't see your warrant for excluding the possibility of naturalism by presuming that some things (e.g. logical laws) must exist in an immaterial way.

Rhology said...

So how does your comment about the "not yet a mind" relate to whether the rock was both a rock and a not-rock?

If dualism is true, the immaterial mind CAN be tested, just not with materialistic science. There's more to knowledge than just science, as should be obvious when one considers that the definition of science is not itself material and not available to experimentation.

You're having difficulty with the existence of immaterial logical laws, and I don't blame you. You'd have to give up naturalism, and you're so steeped in it, it's got to be tough. You also have OAGcast peer pressure to deal with. So let's move on to something a little closer to home (though honestly, given all y'all atheists' boasts of being Those Who Are Rational, it's bizarre to see you question the existence of laws of logic) - the definition of naturalism.

Surely you'd agree that the definition of naturalism exists. Yet it is clearly not material. Right?

Damion said...

The proposition "this is a rock" did not exist, because therre were no brains capable of observing and apprehending rocks or thinking about what they are or coming up with conceptual categories such as "rock" or "planet" or what-have-you. Moreover, I'd point out that you've picked a somewhat slippery category to work with here. It might be better to pick something with sharper conceptual edges, like maybe an electron.

As to definitions, can they exist without someone to think about them? If not, they must exist in the same way as propositions. So the definition of naturalism (along with all concepts, propositions, and linguistic conventions) only comes intoo being once there are people advanced enough to have those thoughts.

Damion said...

I think a decent part of the problem here is that you seem to presuppose dualism must be true, whereas I do not presuppose either dualism or monism. I concluded that monism is true only after exhausting every possible attempt to demonstrate or infer dualism.

Rhology said...

You assume the proposition didn't exist, but you have no idea, in reality.
But let's pretend that you're right, that the proposition didn't in fact exist at the time. Was the specific electron not not-that-specific-electron at the same time in the same way?
(I'm not sure why an electron is preferable to a rock, but either way works for me.)

So naturalism was once not the case? Am I reading you correctly?

I disagree that my presupposing dualism is part of the problem. Such is not relevant to the questions I'm asking you, especially when I've been careful to delineate "on naturalism" vs "on Christianity".

The Chemist said...

This has all been very entertaining. Excellent reading material while waiting for the little ones to drift off to sleep.

Damion,
I really don't see how Rhology's question is difficult. Certainly you accept the reality of an external world and this world has a certain set of facts associated with it that exist regardless of any minds to comtemplate it, right? So the rock must either exist or not exist independent of any minds thinking about it, but it cannot do so simultaneously. What's so difficult about the question? If an inability to answer such a basic question as this is the price to pay for atheism, then I feel even more secure in my beliefs.

Anyway, I don't think the electron is a better example of an object that has clearer conceptual edges. Frankly, as a chemist who has spent about a dozen years working in the field and teaching quantum mechanics, I can assure you that they are quite bizzare and run counter-intuitive to the way people think "oridinary" matter ought to behave. You are certianly free to pick the electron, but I wouldn't say that they are easier to wrap your mind around than say a piece of gravel in the driveway. Just a thought.

Damion said...

Was the specific electron not not-that-specific-electron at the same time in the same way?

Okay, I think what you are asking is whether a given electron, which has perhaps been around since before the dawn of life, has had the physical properties that electrons are known to have for all those billions of years, and moreover has always been that particular electron, as opposed to a collection of photons or something even more exotic.  The answer, of course, is that I don't know.  There is no way to test for the age of an electron since it's original formation, AFAIK.

Had it been a rock, this analysis would have been even less clear, since the conceptual boundaries between rocks, asteroids, planetoids, meteorites, and the like are fuzzy at best, and I don't want to spend too much time trying to suss that all out.

So naturalism was once not the case? Am I reading you correctly?

If naturalism is true, we say that there was once a time when concepts such as naturalism and truth (along with all other concepts) did not exist because there were no brains around to think about them.

To try to clear things up just a bit, consider these two propositions:

1) Naturalism was true five billion years ago.

2) It is true *now* that no nonnatural entities existed five billion years ago

The latter statement entails that no supernatural entities existed five billion years ago, whereas the former statement 
may taken to mean that the proposition "naturalism is true" existed five billion years ago, along with the concepts of naturalism and truth.  Of course, no naturalist would assert this, and so perhaps the first sentence should always be interpreted with the meaning more clearly given by the second one.

Damion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damion said...

Okay, back to the electron. If we stipulate up front that a given electron (call him Ed) is 10 billion years old, and stipulate that Ed is currently bobbing around in my ice water, we can safely assume that Ed has been an electron the whole time, having all the usual properties of electrons. What we cannot do is claim that any propositions existed about Ed until very very recently in the grand scheme of things. No propositions like "Ed is Ed and not not Ed" because there was no one around to think about Ed.

Damion said...

Mr. Chemist,

I was really hoping not to have to address the semantical difficulties around the idea of "rock" but hey what the hell.  

Start with a mountain, e.g. Mt. Sinai, and cut it in half. Then cut both halves in half. Keep going until it is clear that what you have on your hands aren't boulders anymore, but please don't keep going until you have merely pebbles or grains.  Now the question is, how big (or small, or non-molten, or  earthbound, etc.) does a collection of minerals have to be before we can call it a rock?

What about rocks in space?  Do we call them rocks or asteroids?  Must they be gravitationally bound to a planet? How about a planetoid?  

Now the great thing about electrons is that they always have the same mass and charge, and if we forcefully split one up (unlike rocks) we don't end up with two of them.  We cannot melt them and put them together to make a mass which may also be called one of them once it cools.

I hope by now it is clear what I'm getting at here. Rocks may be rock hard, but they are conceptually soft. Too easy to get confused about when you are no longer dealing with rocks but rather with aggregates or derivatives thereof.

Rhology said...

The answer, of course, is that I don't know.

So you think it is possible that Ed could've been both an electron and not-an-electron 11 billion yrs ago? That's specifically what i've been asking, not whether Ed was originally sthg else.
And ditto with naturalism - 11 bil yrs ago was naturalism true? Not "did someone say 'naturalism is true'?"


2) It is true *now* that no nonnatural entities existed five billion years ago

Was it true 5 bil and one yrs ago that no nonnatural entities existed?



No propositions like "Ed is Ed and not not Ed" because there was no one around to think about Ed.

Again I remind you - you ASSUME that there was no one around. I disagree, and I have a good reason to. I've not seen a good reason from you to justify this assumption.


Now the question is, how big (or small, or non-molten, or earthbound, etc.) does a collection of minerals have to be before we can call it a rock?

This is pointless. We're asking you if there were rocks back before you think any minds were and if it was true AT THAT TIME whether those rocks were both rocks and not-rocks.

Damion said...

11 bil yrs ago was naturalism true?

On naturalism, 11 billion years ago there were no minds in existence to think about concepts such as truth or falsity or naturalism, or to think up any propositions to which to apply such concepts.  

Not "did someone say 'naturalism is true'?"

It is not about what someone said, but about thoughts in someone's mind.  When did I say anything about saying anything?

Was it true 5 bil and one yrs ago that no nonnatural entities existed?

On naturalism, it is true *NOW* that no nonnatural entities existed 5 billion years ago.  Or at any time in the past.  But the truth has to be evaluated using concepts and propositions which only came into being relatively recently, e.g. concepts about what are the natural properties unique to electrons.

Again I remind you - you ASSUME that there was no one around.

Again, I am merely outlining the naturalist position.  If you want to do an internal critique thereof, you have to show how it is inconsistent with itself, for example, by assuming that the laws of logic have always existed.  Naturalism does not do this, as I have shown.  If you'd rather do an external critique, it is up to you to demonstrate that the laws of logic do indeed "exist" transcendentally rather than merely being thought about by human beings.

Rhology said...

Again, you assume there weren't any, and this is where this gets you - absurdity. You're unable to tell me. It's all shrouded in a mist of unknowability. What's really funny about that is that published scientists put out widely-peer-reviewed scholarly work about the Big Bang and evolution by natsel and all this stuff to which you enthusiastically subscribe, but you can't tell me whether those things happened. You can apparently make no statement to that effect. And yet I thought you had "mountains of evidence". All your mountains are apparently circumstantial and have no bearing on the actual occurrences. They're like convenient fairy tales you can tell your kids.

Say/think - this is a semantic game, and you've already given away the farm, so no need to go down this path any farther.

I didn't ask you about your unsupportable opinion NOW. I asked about THEN. And you've given your answer. It's a bizarre and absurd answer, but OK.


you have to show how it is inconsistent with itself, for example, by assuming that the laws of logic have always existed.

To say that the laws of logic have not always existed is to say that they have both always existed and have not always existed. I'm not only happy; I'm ecstatic to leave this right where it is. Who needs more evidence that naturalism is utter garbage?

Damion said...

now grammar have existed laws must always the of apply always

Or rather, must the laws of grammar have always existed to apply now?

Rhology said...

We differentiate between them in terms of their applicability, both scope and focus. Ie, the laws of grammar govern EXPRESSION and COMMUNICATION, not ontology and essence like the laws of logic govern. It's not a good comparison.

Damion said...

I didn't ask you about your unsupportable opinion NOW. I asked about THEN

I'm not sure what sort of support you are looking for here. I answered that (on naturalism) there simply were no concepts or propositions back then. What exactly it the problem with that? You want me to make an evidential case that naturalism is true right now?

Damion said...

I don't see where you demonstrated that the laws of logic govern anything more than the use of language to convey meaning, e.g. this is what "NOT" and "TRUE" should be taken to mean.

Damion said...

We could quite easily avoid these linguistic conventions (which you think of as immutable transcendent laws) and wholly do away with both the LNC and the LEM by speaking of truth values not in exclusivist terms but strictly in terms of numerical values between 0 and 1.

For example:

1) It is true that fuzzy logicians exist
2) I am 99.9999% certain that fuzzy logicians exist

Rhology said...

If we're playing that game, I assert that you have taken immutable transcendent laws and transmogrified them into linguistic conventions.

Let the reader judge whether your defense of that transmogrification in this thread has been anything close to rationally coherent.

Damion said...

If the key question here is "What is the nature of the laws of logic" then it will not do simply to assume that they are as you claim they are and accuse me of transforming them into something else.

We have each given our answers to this question. You say they are ideas held timelessly in an immaterial transcendent mind (and circularly argue to the existence of that mind from the existence of these ideas) while I have answered that they are essentially conventions for human communication, not unlike the laws of grammar or definitions in a dictionary. Now the question is how we could persuade an agnostic on this issue to our side of the argument.

I'd point out the flexibility and multiplicity of logical systems, e.g. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-classical_logic

I'd also point out the success of people who reject the LEM and LNC in generating useful algorithms.

Whereas, you'd point out ... ? You seem to assume that you need no proof at all, people should simply presume that you are correct.

bossmanham said...

Of course Damion assumes God didn't exist in the past to ground these certain logical truths.

Am I mistaken, or is Damion arguing that our thought creates reality. Are you saying the universe didn't operate by causal principles and the like before humans came around to give names to those processes?

Rhology said...

I'd probably ask the questions I've been asking you this whole time, and then snickering when you say you can't know whether electrons were electrons.

Damion said...

"Of course Damion assumes God didn't exist in the past to ground these certain logical truths."

As I just said, the question is "what is the nature of the laws of logic?" This assumes neither that they are formulated firstly by human beings nor grounded transcendentally in the minds of supernatural beings.

The next question is what sort of evidence might be adduced one way or another.

As I argued above, one sort of evidence would be that (from the perspective of fuzzy logicians) the LEM and LNC are optional semantic conventions, easily discarded in favor of a non-binary quantitative approach to truth values.

Since I've seen no evidence presented from the other side in favor of the conclusion that the laws of logic (unlike the laws of grammar and spelling and the State of Oklahoma) are somehow transcendent, I can safely assume that you don't have any evidence in favor of your side. You merely presume that others will presume as you do.

Damion said...

Are you saying the universe didn't operate by causal principles and the like before humans came around to give names to those processes?

Of course not. Electrons were negatively charged at 1.60217646 × 10-19 coulombs and weighed 9.10938188 × 10-31 kg before we discovered those facts, and well before we invented concepts such as the coulomb or the kilogram.

Of course, that is not to say that certain electron-related propositions were around back before humans (or anyone else) discovered the existence of electrons.

Rhology said...

that is not to say that certain electron-related propositions were around back before humans (or anyone else) discovered the existence of electrons.

Why did it take you so long to actually answer the questions I've been asking, rather than the ones you wanted to answer?

Damion said...

I don't think that is a serious question, Rho.

It should be obvious that if naturalism is true then states of affairs (e.g. properties of electrons) come into existence way before propositions come into being about them. My question to you guys is why you see that as a problem.

I can conceive of the possibility of dualism, but you seem to rule out monism apriori on the grounds that some ideas must "exist" always and everywhere, even if there are no brains about to think them. My other question is why you think this must be so.

Can you been answer either of these two questions?

Damion said...

I should preemptively add that if your argument would work not only for the laws of logic but also for the laws of language and grammar (e.g. How could you clearly communicate about the world without using these laws?) then it clearly won't go nearly far enough.

Rhology said...

Actually, all this time you have been acting like it's a problem. I'm glad you've finally come around.
Thing is, since the laws of logic are conceptual, and since they always necessarily hold, that creates a problem for naturalism. What's important is not that PROPOSITIONS be made, but that the laws actually hold. And how could they hold, as conceptual, w/o a mind? This sets them apart from laws of grammar. I'm being 100% serious - this comparison gets you nowhere.

I reject materialism b/c, for one, ideas do exist. Heck, memes exist. It amazes me that Dawkins invented/discovered memes and yet still seems to hold to materialism. If you think ideas exist materially, then weigh one and let me know how that experiment went.

Vlako said...

If you think ideas exist materially, then weigh one and let me know how that experiment went.

Theoretically this could be done by measuring the electrical and chemical activity in somebody's mind before, during and after the process of thinking about a particular idea. You wouldn't measure 'weight' but you could measure energy losses, which would essentially measure the material existence of an "idea".

Okay, so now we've resolved that, perhaps you could explain exactly how and where you think ideas "exist", if not in the mind? Oh, and be sure to answer this question with another question. That will distract everybody from the fact that you don't have an answer.

Rhology said...

Vlako,

That at best would demonstrate that ideas ALSO exist in the brain's electrochemical activity. Science can't touch whether things exist immaterially / non-energetically. that's the point of the question.

Ideas exist in the mind. The mind exists immaterially.

What's really funny about your bluster about my "asking another question to confuse" is that there's a serious question on the table - the laws of logic being conceptual - and you asked another question to distract everyone from the fact that you don't have an answer. Irony can be pretty ironic.

Rhology said...

--ideas ALSO exist in the brain's electrochemical activity.

Which I don't deny, BTW. Christianity is dualistic - immaterial AND material.

Damion said...

What's important is not that PROPOSITIONS be made, but that the laws actually hold.
 
The various laws of logic *ARE* propositions, in the philosophical sense of that term:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proposition
 
You seem to be saying that the laws of logic can “exist” and “hold” in some undefined sense even though no one is around to think about them.  Obviously, this cannot be so, if naturalism is true.  How do you intend to prove that these propositions existed before there was any biological being around to think about them? 
 
If they did not exist as propositions, in what sense can they possibly be said to hold? For that matter, what does it mean to say that the LNC "holds" right now, beyond the idea that it tells us how to use words such as "true" and "not true" in conventional propositional logic?

As to materialism, you seem to reject it somewhat hastily. Why assume that a biological neural network is incapable of subjective experience in a material world?

Vlako said...

"That at best would demonstrate that ideas ALSO exist in the brain's electrochemical activity. Science can't touch whether things exist immaterially / non-energetically. that's the point of the question."

Your point was that you reject materialism at least in part because you claim that ideas are immaterial. I have given you a theoretical technique for measuring the material presence of ideas. I assume that you are not refuting this theoretical technique, but are you now claiming that ideas may be both material (i.e. evidenced in the brain) and immaterial (i.e. evidenced somewhere inaccessible to science)?

Damion said...

Since the laws of logic are meaningful statements, you argument is essentially this:

1. Meaning exists everywhere and always
2. But meaning can only exist in a mind

:. A mind exists everywhere and always, and we call this transcendent mind "God"

But you've come nowhere close to proving the first premise, you've merely asserted that the laws of logic (as opposed to various other conventions regarding the meaning of our words and collections of words) have always "existed" somehow or another. AFAIK, youre argument for this is "Well, try making sense about the world without them!" which doesn't nearly get you where yoou are hoping to go.

On the naturalist view, all propositions are thought up by neural networks (or some computational equivalent) and thus propositions expressed by sentences such as "electrons have properties X, Y, & Z" do not come into existence until living beings invent the concept of electron along with concepts X, Y and Z and then put them all together in a meaningful way. Similarly for propositions about how to use words like "true" and "not true" and the like.

So the question remains, which particular propositions have existed always and everywhere and how do you know?

Vlako said...

"Christianity is dualistic - immaterial AND material."

Sorry, I missed that additional comment.

Let ideas=i, let material=p and immaterial=¬p.

On the one hand, you assert that ¬(p^¬p).

On the other hand, you assert that i=p and i=¬p, therefore p=¬p.

You were right about that irony thing.

Vlako said...

Sorry, that should have read: "you assert that i=p and i=¬p, therefore p^¬p."

I think. I'm always getting my notation mixed up...

Rhology said...

Interesting, so let's pursue that for a bit.
THe laws of logic are propositions.
Naturalism says that a mind is required for propositions.
Naturalism says that no minds existed before the development of the first sentient life (let's say human for the sake of argument) capable of thinking about those laws.
Thus the laws of logic did not...what? Come into existence?...before the development of the first sentient life.

OOORRRRR...
We could make sense of this whole thing by recognising that the laws of logic actually have been during the entire existence of the universe. Why? B/c it's absurd to say that they both existed and didn't exist before the development of the first sentient life.
And thus one would think there's a greater mind than that.


AFAIK, youre argument for this is "Well, try making sense about the world without them!" which doesn't nearly get you where yoou are hoping to go.

Apparently it both gets me where I'm hoping and doesn't get me where I'm hoping. And 5 is smell when purple chop 6ly.


And I don't assume that about a biological neural network. I think you're misreading me.



Vlako,
I have given you a theoretical technique for measuring the material presence of ideas

And I reminded you that at best you've described a way to find the material MANIFESTATION of those ideas. At best.

And I'm sorry; it's a weakness, but I'm unfamiliar with that kind of notation. Could you restate, please? I don't see where I've said anything ironic.

Damion said...

"And 5 is smell when purple chop 6ly."

In this partiicular writing sample, you've evidently thrown out the laws of grammar and the laws of Webster, but not the laws of logic. Which goes to show the failure of any argument structured like this "If you cannot communicate clearly without following rules X,Y,Z then those rules must be the prodcuts of a transcendent mind. Unless you concede that grammar and definitions "exist" apriori in the same sense as laws of logic, you're going to have to make another argument altogether.

Damion said...

 Thus the laws of logic did not . . . what?  

On naturalism, the laws of logic, grammar, and the various conventions governing which subjective meanings were mapped onto which collections of symbols/phonemes all arose sometime in human prehistory, with the advent of human language.

Propositions such as the meaning we find in the LNC and LEM presumably came along much later, with the advent of philosophy and attempts to think about how language really works, especially the specialised language of the propositional calculus.

Damion said...

It occurs to me just now that there is a general class ot arguments which go like this:

1) We cannot imagine a world without X
2) But X requires the existence of God
:. God must exist

Now you can swap in various concepts for X, e.g. "universally morally binding commands" or "necessarily transcendent concepts" to include the LNC and LEM, or even "necessarily existent eternal souls" but in every case the naturalist answer is the same: We can imagine it, indeed, it seems like we're probably living in it.

Damion said...

Correction:
"If you cannot communicate clearly without following rules X,Y,Z then those rules must exist transcendently."

All that a failure of communication really entails is a failure to communicate. I hope that for the sake of discussion we all adhere to the usual conventions of spelling and grammar and the dictionary and the propositional calculus, but I cannot see why any of these things should be thought to "exist" other than in the usual way that thoughts are generated by beings with brains.

Vlako said...

Are ideas material or immaterial?

Rhology said...

In what way is "smell when purple chop 6ly" a logical statement?
What if I replaced it with "I am lying"?


Propositions such as the meaning we find in the LNC and LEM presumably came along much later

1) You presume so. You have no way of knowing, but you put your faith out there so confidently, one is almost convinced based on your sheer testimony alone.
2) When you talk like this, I don't know whether an electron was an electron before people came along to make propositions.


Vlako,

Immaterial. A brain/mind accessing them and interacting with them has a material aspect, as you've pointed out.

Vlako said...

"Immaterial. A brain/mind accessing them and interacting with them has a material aspect, as you've pointed out."

So what exactly did you mean when you said that "Christianity is dualistic - immaterial AND material"? I assumed you were talking about the topic at hand, but apparently not.

Rhology said...

No, I was.
But you asked me about an immaterial thing. :-)
Ask me about something else, like a human being, and I'll tell you it's both material and immaterial.

Vlako said...

Ask me about something else, like a human being, and I'll tell you it's both material and immaterial.

So humans are both material and immaterial?

Rhology said...

Yes.

Vlako said...

So the laws of logic do not apply to humans?

Rhology said...

?? How does being both immaterial and material imply illogic?

Vlako said...

It breaches the law of the excluded middle.

Rhology said...

How so?
The American flag is red, white, and blue. All three at the same time.

You need to show how immaterial and material are mutually exclusive.
Better said, humans have a material part (body) and an immaterial part (the soul, mind).

Vlako said...

You need to show how immaterial and material are mutually exclusive.

They are mutually exclusive by definition.

Better said, humans have a material part (body) and an immaterial part (the soul, mind).

Oh, but now it doesn't matter if I can show that material and immaterial are mutually exclusive, because according to you it doesn't apply in this case.

You previously asserted that humans are both material and immaterial. You now qualify that by asserting that humans are composed of two parts, one material and one immaterial.

This is begging the question.

Rhology said...

What I meant is you need to show that they can't both be present in something at the same time, not that "the material is immaterial".

Sorry that I had to clarify, but your question revealed that I wasn't being sufficiently clear.

You need to show, however, how I'm begging the question.

Damion said...

In what way is "smell when purple chop 6ly" a logical statement?

I never said it was meaningful in any sense, much less propositionally meaningful.  By violating the universal laws of grammar and spelling you've failed to create the sort of well-formed formula to which the laws of logic can be applied.

You presume [propositions arose with complex brains]. You have no way of knowing, but you put your faith out there so confidently...

You seem to presume that propositions can exist in some other way, but you've never given any evidence that they can do so. On the other hand, I have literally billions of reasons to suppose that propositions are a product of human thinking.

1) Humans can think about propositions (such as the rules of spelling, grammar, and various systems of logic)
2) Human thought is clearly dependent upon neurological and biochemical processes in the human brain
3) We have never observed propositions arising in any way other than by human brains doing what they do

We know that several billions of human brains can think about propositions, but we've never yet witnessed *ANYTHING* else that can think about them.  Is it so presumptuous to conclude, upon considering these facts, that propositions arise from human thought rather than in some unspecified mysterious magical immaterial manner, which we have yet to observe or even adaquately describe?

By way of very close analogy, let me ask whether you think rules of spelling and grammar and semantics existed on Earth prior to the human brains that thought them up?  If not, why not?  Are you not using precisely the same reasoning as above to conclude that these things arose with the advent of human thought and language?

I know you are going to say (again) that the laws of classical logic, which tell us how we should apprehend the meaning of certain words when put together in certain ways, are somehow very different that the rules codified by grammarians and dictionary authors.  By they are all alike in the business of telling us how to apprehend the meaning of certain words when put together in certain ways.  Just look up words such as "NOT" and "OR" in a reasonably advanced dictionary and you'll immediately run across a collection of logical laws outlining how conjunctions are used in everyday English predicate logic.

Vlako said...

What I meant is you need to show that they can't both be present in something at the same time

"Material" and "immaterial" are not things that are present in an object, but characteristics of that object. It should be obvious to all but the most dense that an object cannot be material and immaterial at the same time.

It is begging the question because your argument that humans are both material and immaterial is that humans are both material and immaterial. This is inadequate.

Damion said...

As to this idea that the mind must be immaterial, I can easily imagine what good evidence for that claim might look like.

If we had never discovered an organ that does our thinking, that if damaged in various ways will impair all the various aspects of thought and memory and feeling, if indeed the brain was nothing more than a vast storage place for phelgm and mucus, well then we'd have very good evidence too assert (as you do) the need for an immaterial mind to do the thinking for us.

As it stands, though, there is no need whatsoever to posit such a mysterious and immaterial mind.

Twin-Daddy said...

For the love of all that is good Rhoblogy..stop attempting to argue philosophy or apologetics, you're TRULY terrible at it.

You should spend more time studying the topics before you just start throwing out words hoping to hit some target. Truly terrible and its making you look ignorant and your beliefs look unfounded.

Please..stop now.

Rhology said...

sort of well-formed formula to which the laws of logic can be applied.

That might be part of our disconnect. The laws of logic apply to EVERYthing.
And they're not just "invoked" by writing syllogisms. Rocks are not non-rocks. If the laws of logic did not hold, they could and would be both rocks and non-rocks at the same time in the same way.


You seem to presume that propositions can exist in some other way, but you've never given any evidence that they can do so.

I've shown numerous times that the contrary is absurd. You seem to prefer absurdity as long as it complies with your preferred faith position.


propositions are a product of human thinking.
1) Humans can think about propositions


Humans can think about rocks.


2) Human thought is clearly dependent upon neurological and biochemical processes in the human brain

How do you know?
Then, when you answer that with some sort of materialistic-only neurological study, imagine that I asked of that: How do you know? Then the next time, I ask: How do you know? Please provide your string of reasoning, assuming that I'd ask "How do you know?" 10 times.


3) We have never observed propositions arising in any way other than by human brains doing what they do

This begs the question. I have, and so have many others. In fact, you have too but you refuse to admit it for other reasons.
Even on naturalism, this is nothing more than a tautology.


Is it so presumptuous to conclude, upon considering these facts, that propositions arise from human thought

Yes, b/c of the absurdity I've already pointed out.


in some unspecified mysterious magical immaterial manner,

1) It's not "magical".
2) And it's hardly unspecified. I can tell you an awful lot about the Ultimate Mind.


let me ask whether you think rules of spelling and grammar and semantics existed on Earth prior to the human brains that thought them up?

I think we've been over this. No, they did not exist.
Two weaknesses of this analogy are easily visible:
1) Rules of semantics/syntax and all that vary between languages. I wonder if you're going to tell me that we all get to make up our own version of the law of non-contradiction. If so, I wonder if it is true both that we get to make up our own version of the law of non-contradiction and that we do NOT get to make up our own version of the law of non-contradiction.
2) Laws of grammar don't have anything to do with whether a rock is a non-rock.


if indeed the brain was nothing more than a vast storage place for phelgm and mucus,

Well, actually, on naturalism there is no reason other than blind faith to think that your brain is any more than that. You don't know whether your cognitive faculties are reliably tuned to produce true beliefs. You have faith that they are.
On naturalism, humans are nothing more than fizzing chemicals, molecules in motion. You seem to prefer lending credence to what these bags of protoplasm say, but again that's because you have faith in them. The point is, it's trivially easy to point out your blind faith statements and ask you to give me a reason to think they're true.



Vlako,
"Material" and "immaterial" are not things that are present in an object, but characteristics of that object.

Yes, that's a good and fair qualification. Thank you.
I was sloppy when I referred to humans, so I apologise. What I should have said was that humans have a material aspect and an immaterial aspect.


Twin-Daddy,
Thanks for your opinion. And for your part, I'd like you to look up what "troll" is. Hint: It's what you are and what I am not.

Damion said...

 
The laws of logic apply to EVERYthing.
 
It seems that you believe that the laws of logic do not merely provide us with guidelines for using language, but actually determine what reality actually does, sort of like natural laws.  This is exceedingly strange to me.  Even when I was a theist, I could still imagine the hypothetical possibility of a material world devoid of concepts (e.g. “6” or “negation” or “contradiction” or “rock”), propositions (e.g. “the object in that briefcase is not a rock” or the LEM or LNC), language, grammar, conceptual codifications of natural laws (E=mc^2), and anything else that is strictly conceptual and therefore requires the existence of a mind. 

Why is it that you consider it impossible for the things we call electrons to exist and have the particular properties they have witthout giving rise to the mental concepts of being and negation and electron, much less the propositions which put all these concepts together in a single meaningful proposition?

Rocks are not non-rocks.
 
As a tautology, this is not particularly useful, but it seems to me that you are saying here that if an object has the properties that English speakers usually attribute to the word “rock” then it should be labeled as “rock” and cannot be accurately described as not being a rock because of what we mean by terms like “not” and other such negations.  This is clearly a series of linguistic conventions: Use words like “rock” in a manner such that a given object is considered either to fit the concept well enough to be called a rock, or else we shall not call it a rock, but we might have some other word for it such as “pebble” or perhaps “boulder” or “meteor” or “asteroid,” depending on its current size and position.  Also, use “not” in an exclusive way. 
 
In brief, the LNC and LEM are prescriptive conventions of sentential logic, which is itself the preferred logical system underlying the English language.
 
If the laws of logic did not hold, they could and would be both rocks and non-rocks at the same time in the same way.
 
Not at all.  A given rock (or any other object, such as an electron) would have the particular properties that it does (such as mass and charge and position) by virtue of the operations of natural law, regardless of whether there are any minds around to notice and start labeling those properties (e.g. if it is made of minerals and planet-bound and smaller than a boulder but bigger than a pebble, we’ll call it a “rock”)

I wonder if you're going to tell me that we all get to make up our own version of the law of non-contradiction.
 
As I have repeatedly pointed out, the fuzzy logicians have already done this by discarding the LNC in favor of multivalent truth values.  This fact strongly militates against your assertion that classical predicate logic is the only workable logical system.  You are right to point out, however, that the English language is so firmly rooted in classical sentential logic that it is very difficult to write in English without using it.

Laws of grammar don't have anything to do with whether a rock is a non-rock.  
 
Laws of language provide us with the concept of rockiness and determine the conceptual boundaries between a rock and its close conceptual relatives, many of whom I’ve already named.

The Chemist said...

It seems to me the disconnect here is that Rhology is claiming that a rock cannot be a rock and a non-rock at the same time and in the same way regardless if there are not any human minds around to hold the proposition. I agree with him. It seems to me that this idea is not something that depends on human minds but is reality forced in on us. Human minds merely perceive it and recognize it.

To claim that this idea is dependent on human minds leads to absurdity, unless you are willing to admit that rocks can simultaneously be non-rocks in the absence of any human minds.

Now to the good ol' mind-body problem. As to the argument that substance dualism is false (raised by Damion and Vlako), I do not think they have demonstrated this at all. I have a hard time seeing how a fully reductionistic approach to the mind can be successful. For one, it totally fails to explain why people have an enduring sense of "I" during change over time. It also fails because the physicalism that drives it is unable to fully reduce first person perspectives to third person perspectives, which it must be able to do if dualism is false. Lastly, physicalism is totally incompatible with any sense of libertarian freedom of the will. I am convinced that determinism is false, thus this sort of reductionism is false as well. In other words, inviting physicalism to explain the mind leads you to determinism. This will only be successful if you are convinced determinism is in fact true. Any sense of "free" will is incompatible with physicalism.

Claiming that brain states are correlated with ideas does not establish causality. This is an extremely common misunderstanding. Correlation does not imply causation. For example, the brain could be the vehicle through which the mind interacts with the body.

This comment intrigues me quite a bit. "Theoretically this could be done by measuring the electrical and chemical activity in somebody's mind before, during and after the process of thinking about a particular idea. You wouldn't measure 'weight' but you could measure energy losses, which would essentially measure the material existence of an "idea"."

Again, this doesn't demonstrate causation. It would raise interesting questions about the conservation of energy (1st law of thermodynamics). I would just like to point out that the first law is defined only for closed systems that are fully materialistic. Even if ideas contribute energy to the brain, it does not eliminate dualism. Doing so would require you to beg the question by assuming the human is a closed entity, which is the very question at hand.

Damion said...

It seems to me the disconnect here is that Rhology is claiming that a rock cannot be a rock and a non-rock at the same time and in the same way regardless if there are not any human minds around to hold the proposition. I agree with him.

We can all agree that if X has the peculiar properties of an electron (I still think “rock” is too conceptually fuzzy for reasons I’ve outlined above) it has those properties whether anyone knows what those properties are or not.  However, to say the that the LNC “exists” and “is true” requires far more than just certain objects behaving in certain ways.  It requires the existence of concepts and propositions, which are used to describe and think about and talk about objects, and which in turn requires someone to be thinking about them.  

By claiming that the LNC and LEM “exist” everywhere and everywhen, you are basically presuming the existence of a transcendent mind.  You are free to do this, of course, but I have not yet seem any compelling reason to give up the idea that the universe could simply be made of matter in motion, and devoid of any concepts, at least for the first few billions of years.  So far, the only argument has been essentially “It is difficult to use sentential logic to describe a world without propositions.”

To claim that this idea is dependent on human minds leads to absurdity, unless you are willing to admit that rocks can simultaneously be non-rocks in the absence of any human minds.

You seems to be claiming that the ideas somehow hold reality in check, but I’d say that this is precisely backwards.  We come up with ideas to describe reality as we find it.  The absence of ideas from the universe only leads to absurdity if you believe that objects cannot have certain properties unless there are also propositions to describe those properties.  However, electrons have had the same properties they have now for countless generations before we discovered their existence and figured out what those particular properties are.

You have to separate the way things are in reality from concepts describing reality and statements about reality.  This is not easy to do because any attempt to describe a mindless universe will necessarily draw upon language and ideas which are innate to minds, but no one said that reality was easy.  One only needs to take a few courses in physics to realize that reality is quite difficult indeed.

Damion said...

Well, actually, on naturalism there is no reason other than blind faith to think that your brain is any more than that. You don't know whether your cognitive faculties are reliably tuned to produce true beliefs.

On naturalism, we'd expect humans to be far better at solving survival-related and interpersonal problems than abstract problems of math and logic, and we'd expect them to be prone to all sorts of informal fallacies. As it happens, there is ample evidence that humans are generally unreliably tuned in precisely these sorts of ways.

Damion said...

Chemist,

If the brain is nothing but the vehicle for the mind, why does it seem to require such a complex internal structure? I would think all it would need to do is connect up to the output neurons and the sensory inputs.

I suppose what you are saying is that when part of the brain is damaged, and someone loses a certain mental function (say, impulse control or short-term memory) that the mind still keeps these functions going in the immaterial nonspatial magical realm, but the brain just cannot access those aspects of the mind because of the damage to the inferface?

If so, are you also making this claim for other mammalian brains, or just ours?

Damion said...

By a happy concidence, I recently came across a paper which describes my views on the mind/body problem in detail and more eloquently than I ever could. Just in case you are interested:
Why I Am Not a Property Dualist

The Chemist said...

Didn't look at the paper yet Damion, but I would not that I am not a property dualist either. I am a substance dualist.

Rhology said...

it has those properties whether anyone knows what those properties are or not.

OK, good, thank you.


It requires the existence of concepts and propositions, which are used to describe and think about and talk about objects

Well, I think this confuses the issue a bit, b/c if sthg has a property, it does not have that same not-property in the same way at the same time. That is itself LNC.


By claiming that the LNC and LEM “exist” everywhere and everywhen, you are basically presuming the existence of a transcendent mind.

One reason why this line of questioning is so rewarding is b/c it gets you say things like that, and then you say "but of course there is not one", which means that there was a time when LNC and LEM didn't hold. Which means that there was also not a time when LNC and LEM didn't hold. Your position results in absurdity.


You seems to be claiming that the ideas somehow hold reality in check, but I’d say that this is precisely backwards.

It's strange to say that logic "holds reality in check". Logic, rather, is how reality is.


On naturalism, we'd expect humans to be far better at solving survival-related and interpersonal problems than abstract problems of math and logic

YOU might, but that's b/c you have an investment in it. Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism as well as arguments that invoke the very real possibility of and impossibility of disproving solipsism provide defeaters for that assumption. I'm glad that's your religion, but I see plenty of good reasons for rejecting it.


If the brain is nothing but the vehicle for the mind, why does it seem to require such a complex internal structure?

This is naturalism of the gaps. You don't know, so you posit naturalism.
God delights in complex stuff; that is easily discernible from study of the universe. It's a plenty fine explanation.


I would think all it would need to do is connect up to the output neurons and the sensory inputs.

And you haven't created a brain yourself yet with your superior structure...why?

And I'm afraid I don't know the diff between property and substance dualist, so I'll have to let you guys hash that out. Sorry. :-)

The Chemist said...

However, to say the that the LNC “exists” and “is true” requires far more than just certain objects behaving in certain ways. It requires the existence of concepts and propositions, which are used to describe and think about and talk about objects, and which in turn requires someone to be thinking about them.

I think this is just backwards. Things have a certain set of characteristics but it is absurd that they could both have those and not have those at the same time. Thus, the LNC seems to be a reality of the world, regardless if anyone is able to conceptualize them. The language is a secondary issue here.

I did not say that ideas hold the world together; however, I am not opposed to that claim. It is perfectly consistent within Christianity. I do claim that the LNC and LEM are aspects of the world that we describe with language in the form of propositions. They seem to me to be basic facts of the world akin to other basic facts such as the mass of an electron.

What is humerous is that I agree with you that separating reality from concepts describing reality is very important. The point of departure is that LNC and LEM appear to be apart of reality. Denying them leads to aburdity.

I honestly have no idea how the mind interacts with the brain, but I am convinced (see the three reasons I gave earlier) that the mind must be a separate substance from the physical brain. This does not entail the brain be a simple substance. Furthermore, this doesn't phase me (or you I presume either) in other areas. For instance, do we *really* know why oppositely charged particles attract one another? We make sense of this by positing the existence of a field that permeates the space around the two particles, allowing them to interact at a distance. However, what exactly is the "field" and how does it really cause the particles to interact? I am not bothered by this here, so why should I be bothered by it when I turn to the complexity of the mind and the body? Please note that I don't say this out of ignorance. I have a fair amount of science under my belt now.

Rhology said...

Sorry that I didn't check the spam filter for a few days. I just cleared it. My apologies to The Chemist and Damion.

Vlako said...

Things have a certain set of characteristics but it is absurd that they could both have those and not have those at the same time.

Like being material and immaterial at the same time? Or like being man and God at the same time? If you want to hold either of those positions, then your argument against Damion is a lot weaker.

Matt said...

Like being material and immaterial at the same time? Or like being man and God at the same time? If you want to hold either of those positions, then your argument against Damion is a lot weaker.

Christianity does not hold that a human being is material and immaterial in the same sense, or that Jesus is God and man in the same sense. Hence, those positions are not a violation of the law of non-contradiction.

Vlako said...

Christianity does not hold that a human being is material and immaterial in the same sense, or that Jesus is God and man in the same sense. Hence, those positions are not a violation of the law of non-contradiction.

In what sense does "Christianity" hold these things then, that makes them exempt from the laws of logic? And might other entities also be exempt from the laws of logic in a similar way?

Rhology said...

What precisely is illogical about those things? Be specific, show your work.

Matt said...

In what sense does "Christianity" hold these things then, that makes them exempt from the laws of logic?

In this sense, Christianity is a worldview, a set of propositions.

There is a world of difference between two propositions not violating the law of noncontradiction, and two propositions being "exempt from the laws of logic." Are you intentionally trying to be hyperbolic here, or do you actually fail to grasp this distinction?

There is no contradiction in saying that human beings have a material part and an immaterial part, or that Christ has a divine nature and a human nature. It would be a contradiction to say that there is one part that is both material and immaterial, or that there is one nature that is both divine and human - but these are not propositions of the Christian worldview. You need to stop setting fire to straw men.

Vlako said...

There is no contradiction in saying that human beings have a material part and an immaterial part, or that Christ has a divine nature and a human nature. It would be a contradiction to say that there is one part that is both material and immaterial, or that there is one nature that is both divine and human - but these are not propositions of the Christian worldview. You need to stop setting fire to straw men.

It wasn't a straw man, I was simply asking a civil question.

So in your philosophy, to be a human being requires that you are composed of two parts: one material and one immaterial? Are the two inseparable from the point of their creation? Does one precede the other? Does one survive the other?

Can I remind you that the original statement which set this off was Things have a certain set of characteristics but it is absurd that they could both have those and not have those at the same time. Your counter here is that human beings can be both material and immaterial because they are composed of two parts.

Yet couldn't one make the same argument about anything? This flower exists and does not exist; there is a material part which exists, and an immaterial part which does not exist. Or something like that?

Rhology said...

hi Vlako,

For my part, I wouldn't say that being a human REQUIRES it. It's how humans are, by God's creation.
No, the two are not inseparable. They are inseparable until death, at which point the body is buried or burned or whatever and the soul goes to be either in Paradise or in Hades. Then, later, in the end, the Eschaton, all bodies will be resurrected and the souls will be reunited with the bodies. The bodies will be, however, immortal though still material, so for eternity everyone who has ever lived will be both material and immaterial. So the soul is more permanent than these current mortal bodies we all have, but resurrected eschatological bodies will be of equal permanence as the soul.
That's biblical theology.

About the flower, I think that even you would have to agree, however, that the flower is composed of material and immaterial. The material is the atoms that comprise its spatial expanse. The immaterial is the property of the flower - its flower-ness.

Vlako said...

"I think that even you would have to agree, however, that the flower is composed of material and immaterial"

No, I wouldn't. "Flower-ness" is strictly in the eye of the beholder, and has no relation to what you're talking about in relation to the immaterial part of human beings.

Rhology said...

"Flower-ness" is strictly in the eye of the beholder

So, if someone thinks the flower is a gorilla, and another an asteroid, is the flower indeed a gorilla or an asteroid?

Vlako said...

"So, if someone thinks the flower is a gorilla, and another an asteroid, is the flower indeed a gorilla or an asteroid?"

If someone thinks the flower is un fleur, and another a bulaklak, is the flower indeed un fleur or a bulaklak?

Be clearer in your thinking, and you might get clearer answers.

vlako said...

By which I mean, please clarify what exactly it is that you are asking.