Thursday, January 26, 2012

Truth and Consequences

The irony, of course, is that we can never have objective knowledge of the objective world, whereas we may have objective knowledge of the subjective world. In other words, the cosmic situation is exactly the opposite of what materialists imagine.

What I mean by this is that -- for starters -- Gödel's theorems render any totalistic scientific explanation strictly impossible.

And frankly, I don't even think we need Gödel to tell us that any scientific theory is going to contain premises for which it cannot account. The most complete "theory of everything" is, by definition, going to have a gaping omission.

After all, one has to start somewhere, and one must arrive at this somewhere prior to one's eventual explanation. Thus, the bottom line is that any merely scientific account is going to be either consistent or complete, but not both. D'oh!

As we have mentioned in the past, many postmodern types who do not understand Gödel use his theorems as a bulwark against absolutism. Since no theory is complete, all theories become equal, and we descend into the nihilism of deconstruction.

But that is not what Gödel meant. Here again, we do not need Gödel to remind us that human beings know any number of truths which cannot be proved with mere logic. Gödel was not saying that objective truth doesn't exist because logic cannot prove it; rather, that there exist truths beyond logic.

After all, logic cannot furnish its own materials, but requires an alogical -- or translogical -- being to do so.

So the first axiom of logic is not the law of identity, or of the excluded middle, but: the middleman, the human being, who, by definition, transcends the logical system he deploys. If he doesn't, then man cannot actually prove anything, for he can never escape the closed circle of logic.

Nevertheless, many people use Gödel as an excuse to plunge into subjectivism, relativism, multiculturalism, and all the rest. The reasoning apparently goes something like this: if even science cannot prove any ultimate truth, how much less is religion entitled to make such a claim?

On the surface this sounds plausible, but if we look a little deeper, we can detect the systematic stupidity of the tenured. For Spitzer puts forth ten principles that he suggests are undeniable by reason. Or, to put it another way, these are ten principles that any reasonable person -- and a "person" is a being endowed with reason -- will accept as true.

Some of them touch on "science," others on virtue and on the very possibility of civilization. As Spitzer explains, "Three of them concern evidence and objective truth, three of them concern ethics, three of them concern dignity and treatment of human beings within civil society, and one of them concerns personal identity and culture."

Now, what is truth? Well, for one thing, it is the thing that results in bad stuff happening if we fail to appreciate it. This applies to every level of reality, from the lowest (i.e., physics) to the highest (i.e., spirit). Ignore the law at your own peril, whether it is the law of gravity ("I can fly!") or the law of humility ("I'm a god!).

So, we are always free to disobey the law. But "Failure to teach and practice any of these principles can lead to an underestimation of human dignity, a decline in culture, the abuse of individuals and groups of individuals, and an underestimation of ourselves and our potential in life."

And "Failure to teach and practice several of these principles will most certainly lead to widespread abuse and a general decline in culture" (Spitzer).

Take the example of the Islamic world. Why is it so systematically f*cked up? Conversely, why is America that shining city on the globe? The latter (mostly) obeys the law (or used to, anyway, before the ascendence of the left). The former is a metacosmic scofflaw.

Let's start with the first three principles, which apply to evidence and objective truth. Notice that one is always free to ignore them, but that doing so will result in less freedom and a more dysfunctional adaptation to life.

Principle 1: The best opinion or theory is the one that explains the most data.

I mean, right?

Principle 2: Valid opinions and theories have no internal contradictions.

You know, like "This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy," and "except the Keystone pipeline." That's what you call an "internal contradiction." Another one is "we reject supply side economics" and "feeding a massive top-down state is the key to economic prosperity."

Principle 3: Nonarbitrary opinions or theories are based upon publicly verifiable evidence.

All tyranny begins and ends with violation of this principle, e.g., "Jews are an inferior race," "poverty causes crime," "the constitution is a living document that means what we want it to mean," etc.

Without question, truth is the most important value of a civilization: "No bias, ostracization, marginalization, or persecution ever occurred without someone claiming that their biases were the 'truth'" (ibid.). Once the lie is accepted as truth, then horror follows, owing to man's innate respect for truth. For man so loves truth, that he will commit heinous acts in defense of it.

For example, if it is really true that the black man has no rights the white man is bound to respect; or that a fetus is not a human being; or that men and women have no essential differences; or that America is the "great satan," then people will act on these "truths" in good conscience.

To be continued....


julie said...

Once the lie is accepted as truth, then horror follows, owing to man's innate respect for truth. For man so loves truth, that he will commit heinous acts in defense of it.

Along those lines, Insty yesterday linked to an article claiming that there's finally (after all this time) an effective application of embryonic stem cells. Never mind that in the same time they've been trying to find a use for embryonic stem cells, all kinds of amazing treatments have been done using adult stem cells, which just generally seem to be vastly more effective and useful, and without the taint of destroying a human life.

Rick said...

"the constitution is a living document that means what we want it to mean," etc."

Prediction: when you finish your work with the Ten Principles, and a person is to truly understand and internalize them (looking forward to that myself) a person will have aligned his wants properly and discover that the Constitution really does mean what he wants it to.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, rightly ordered desire will comport with reality.

Van said...

"So the first axiom of logic is not the law of identity, or of the excluded middle, but: a human being, who by definition transcends the logical system he deploys. If he doesn't, then man cannot actually prove anything, for he can never escape the closed circle of logic."

Yep. To use logic is to admit that Reality exists... that what is, IS; that what exists exists as something, and in perceiving that you involve your awareness of your own self.

All of which comes prior to thought and prior to logic, and only because it does, are we able to conceive of and understand the law of non-contradiction, that "the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect;"

What Aristotle tried his best to say to those he defined the rules of logic for, was that 'whatever your logical argument, it must agree with your premises which must agree with reality'. Or Aristotle's polite smackdown in his Metaphysics

"...But since there is one kind of thinker who is above even the natural philosopher (for nature is only one particular genus of being), the discussion of these truths also will belong to him whose inquiry is universal and deals with primary substance. Physics also is a kind of Wisdom, but it is not the first kind.-And the attempts of some of those who discuss the terms on which truth should be accepted, are due to a want of training in logic; for they should know these things already when they come to a special study, and not be inquiring into them while they are listening to lectures on it... "

mushroom said...

Good point, Rick. It's like Jesus saying, If you are in Me and My Word is in you, ask what you will and it will be done, because at that point, you are in harmony with the Father.

Verdiales said...

It's a pity though that formal or informal logic are rarely taught at any level these days. There's a distinction between validity and soundness? Never heard of it. Plus, even a basic stats class is a major owie.

This is a problem.

What's driving all this may be a prevailing sensibility. A writer I like said this (transcribed from oral remarks): "The most unstable people are the young. Along the way, something gets established in them - since you need to have certainty in life - on a whim, something gets set in them, that whatever is easiest gets instilled in them as a path to certainty, whatever seems easiest. And whatever cannot be seen seems equivalent to what doesn't exist. And since what exists, being fleeting, is ephemeral, everything is nothing. Deep down, today this is everyone's philosophy."

Life is one damned thing after another. There's no rhyme or reason to that.

Well, they'll take the rhyme as long as the reason is to party.

John Lien said...

Thanks RickBobMush.

That supports a hunch. Or, what I heard and forgot finally sunk in.

TmjUtah said...

There is right, there is wrong.

Choose wisely. Cost always applies.

mushroom said...

"One damn thing after another" was my late father-in-law's most repeated phrase. You really have to be careful, because that attitude is contagious and pretty likely to be spiritually fatal.