Tuesday, March 26, 2013

You Can't Have Your Crick and Eat it Too

The problem of pseudo-significance is strange: What do we believe we say when we say what signifies nothing? --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

About 20 years ago Francis Crick -- whom we mentioned in yesterday's post -- published a book called The Astonishing Hypothesis, to much acclaim by his benaughted coreligionists. The banal hypothesis goes like this:

"A person's mental activities are entirely due to the behavior of nerve cells, glial cells, and the atoms, ions, and molecules that make them up and influence them."

Two things. First, could I buy some pot from you? Second, a scientific hypothesis isn't just anything, but analogous to a legal argument, in which you state the conclusion and proceed to demonstrate why it is true.

But how could one ever demonstrate the truth of such a comically Astigmatic Hypothesis? (See #2.) It reminds me of that crack by Haldane:

"For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true." And if the mind can arrive at truth, then there is no reason to believe the mind is reducible to atoms, molecules, and nerve cells.

Besides, there's nothing astonishing about a human being dressing up his conclusions as arguments, his prejudices as principles. A little irony, please. Human beings engage in this fallacy all the time. BFD. We've all been to college. We know the secular drill.

On second thought, I think Crick needs some stronger pot. Or at least something to get him out of his pneumacognitive rut. Fifty years is a long time between ideas. But if the rut is genetically determined, there is no way out. Man is then reduced to a broken record, condemned to repeat the same foolish things over and over, with no contact with reality and a Nobel Prize to prove it.

I know. Astonishing. Like this aphorism by Don Colacho: "Nearly every idea is an overdrawn check that circulates until it is presented for payment." I dare you to try to convert Crick's rubber check into real money. The teller at the First Bank of Perennial Truth will just laugh at you.

I have an even more astonishing hypothesis. It actually consists of a dense network of hypotheses, each supporting the others. Furthermore, if the hypothesis is untrue, then it "unexplains" so much about the world, that reality becomes completely absurd and unintelligible. Symbolically, it reduces to O or Ø.

In plain English, the hypothesis goes like this: man is created in the image of the Absolute. This being the case, it explains how and why we, of all people -- middling relativities that we are -- nevertheless have access to a transcendent and unchanging realm of love, truth, beauty, virtue, and much more -- to everything, in fact. For to paraphrase Aristotle, "the soul is all it knows," and nothing exists that cannot be potentially known.

It reminds me of a remark by Arthur Koestler, that "The evolution of the brain not only overshot the needs of prehistoric man, it is the only example of evolution providing a species with an organ which it does not know how to use."

Crick and other victims of scientism especially prove the latter half of Koestler's hypothesis, for "The world is explicable from man, but man is not explicable from the world" (DC). In short, as it pertains to truth, you can't have your Crick and eat it too.

Here is an even more astonishing hypothesis, which follows from the first: ultimate reality isn't just personal, but a person (for there is no other way to have the former unless it is via the latter).

Well, there is one other way: scientistic magic. For one can only explain the higher from the lower via magic, or voodoo metaphysics. Conversely, every time the higher makes an ingression into the lower, it is a miracle, not magic.

In other words, pretty much everything is a miracle -- i.e., an instance of vertical causation -- although there are, of course, degrees of miraculousness, and with them, degrees of astonishment.

All of this leads to yet another hypothesis, this one articulated by Don Colacho: "That which is not a person is not finally anything." Do you see why?

Examining our web of hypotheses, we find another: "Love is the act that transforms its object from a thing into a person." And coming full circle (I'm paraphrasing DC here), "to love a person is to discover the reason God created him."

Put -- or pull, rather -- it all together, and what do we have? Ultimate reality is a cosmic area rug of "loving personhood." Can we prove that? Yes we can. At least to the extent that such things can be "proved." Demonstrated or lived is more like it, for this pertains to the realm of being per se, with the knowledge flowing from that.

Hmm. I never got to my main topic, which is Alexander's truly astonishing hypothesis about the personal nature of reality, and how we may tune into its frequency. Now, he's probably got some good pot. But we'll have to wait until tomorrow's post to inhale.

We'll end with a little rejoycing:

--Ore you astoneaged, jute you?

--Oye am thonthorstruck, thing mud.

(Stoop) if you are abcedminded, to this claybook, what curios of signs in this allaphbed!

13 Comments:

Blogger Rick said...

"to love a person is to discover the reason God created him."

Where has that sentence been all my life?

3/26/2013 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Yes, speaking "about the personal nature of reality, and how we may tune into its frequency". There a lot of syncoonicity goin'round lately. Just ask Mushroom.

and

"The evolution of the brain not only overshot the needs of prehistoric man, it is the only example of evolution providing a species with an organ which it does not know how to use."

And from the Weekly Standard (Andrew Ferguson) article linked by Ace yesterday:

"But the human brain can do much more than this. It can perform calculus, hypothesize metaphysics, compose music—even develop a theory of evolution."

Horshack has a question:

If our brain and the prehistoric brain are essentially the same brain, then the latter could understand and perform calculus, hypothesize metaphysics, compose music too, yes?

And it can do this because = accidentally?
And if not, what have I got that he hasn't got?

That's a mighty big accidental capacity hangin out there.

3/26/2013 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, it's like monkeying around with a toaster and discovering that it also makes a good computer.

3/26/2013 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Gould's concept of "spandrels" doesn't quite cover it.

3/26/2013 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ace is right. It's not like it's a new idea. And you can disagree without the pants-wetting moral panic.

3/26/2013 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The brain works according to natural laws which were discovered by the brain.

But religious people are deluded by their brains.

We know this because: Math.

I'm glad we had this talk, and that I was able to clear all that up with my brain activity which is "entirely due to the behavior of nerve cells, glial cells, and the atoms, ions, and molecules that make them up and influence them."

If that seems ridiculous ...

Thanks to Vox Popoli.

3/26/2013 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Furthermore, if the hypothesis is untrue, then it "unexplains" so much about the world, that reality becomes completely absurd and unintelligible.

Yes, that would be like taking a loose thread and unraveling the veil. All you'd have left is a big pile of string and an incomprehensible mysterO, which only had form because there was a veil...

3/26/2013 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ultimate reality is a cosmic area rug of "loving personhood." Can we prove that? Yes we can. At least to the extent that such things can be "proved." Demonstrated or lived is more like it, for this pertains to the realm of being per se, with the knowledge flowing from that.

Speaking of which, and of links via Ace, there was one to an interesting article in the New Yorker about Horace Mann (an exclusive high school in Brooklyn) and cults of personality. What jumped out to me was the way this particular teacher, Berman, used the trappings of greatness to create in his "chosen" students the feeling as though he could somehow bestow that "loving personhood," to the extent that one of his victims held onto a gift the teacher had given him once because "This meant that somebody loved me, and nobody had ever shown me that before." And yet, the teacher by his actions showed that he didn't love his victims at all - rather, it seems he loved the power he had over them. It's as though he showed them the rug, then systematically yanked it out from under them.

3/26/2013 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Tangentially, speaking of speaking of truth, there's this over at Steyn's:

On the other hand, the [Canadian] supreme court's words are truly offensive, beginning with its breezy contempt for "truthful statements" and its preference for "group rights" over individual liberty. In Canada, gay marriage is legal coast to coast; "gay-straight alliance" groups are mandated in every school in Ontario; Catholic educational institutions are obliged to let students bring their same-sex partners to the prom; publicly funded "Pride" parades are obligatory in not just the louche metropolitan fleshpots but remote small towns; gay arts festivals are enthusiastically sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada, Air Canada, and every other important corporation. As societal approval goes, that's not bad for a demographic that represents 2 percent of the population. Mr. Whatcott's minority group — evangelicals — makes up about 8 percent of the population but is in no danger of municipally funded parades, or mandatory "evangelical-secular alliances," or corporate sponsorship from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. All Mr. Whatcott's left with are his photocopied flyers, with handwritten margin notes.

But that clear and present threat "demonstrably justifies" the supreme court in sodomizing the hell out of Canadians' free-speech rights.

3/26/2013 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

What a strange story about that Berman guy. And what a dark world for all involved.

Education is pretty useless without a light detector.

3/26/2013 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

No joke. It reminds me of The Dead Poets Society, if at some point Robin Williams had put his hands down one of the students' pants while sounding his barbaric yawp.

3/26/2013 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just thinking about Berman -- if you raise a child that has lost his ability to be instantaneously repelled by such an individual, it's already too late. You've failed as a parent.

In fact, Berman specialized in identifying damaged and vulnerable souls. But who damaged them? The clueless parents.

The whole pattern, by the way, is a common pathway to male homosexuality.

3/26/2013 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

So nice to be here. There's been endless linking to an Open Letter to the Church from a Lesbian that has me in despair and doubt about the future of American Christianity. Or Christ-inanity.

Let me just sit here and ...breathe.

3/27/2013 04:29:00 AM  

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