Tuesday, October 08, 2019

What's the Big Idea?

Almost no time this morning, or at least I ran out of it quickly. There's really only one idea in this post, but I suppose it's a big one, maybe the biggest.

"The core idea of common-sense realism," writes Curry, "is that there are self-evident truths -- truths which do not need to be proved." These truths "are the foundation of human understanding; they are the necessary basis for knowing anything at all" (emphasis mine).

Because these truths are so foundational, various parallel universes -- universes of pure ideology -- come into being with their denial. I mean this literally, because the universe includes its own fulfillment in the human subject, a la Whitehead. In other words, the human person is not incidental to the whole cosmic Hebang, but absolutely central.

Indeed, person is the ultimate category, both the source and summit of reality. Being and truth are essentially two sides of the same coin, which is precisely why knowledge of truth is possible. And if it is possible it is necessary -- for the same reason that if it is possible to avoid evil, it is necessary to do so. (In other words, our truth-knowing capacity entails an intrinsic moral demand, i.e., to know it and to not lie about it.)

Eh, probably didn't explain that too well. Let's just move on. Or better, maybe you've noticed those puzzling quotes by Voegelin and Schuon in the comment box. Both go to the point I'm trying to make:

The quest, thus, has no external 'object,' but is reality itself becoming luminous for its movement from the ineffable, through the Cosmos, to the ineffable (Voegelin); and Fundamentally there are only three miracles: existence, life, intelligence; with intelligence, the curve springing from God closes on itself like a ring that in reality has never been parted from the Infinite (Schuon).

Like a joke, you'll either get those or you won't. Each describes the ultimate movement of existence, and our participation in that movement. And since it happens, there must be a principle that explains how it is possible for it to happen. That principle is the Meta-cosmic Person.

In fact, when it fails to happen -- when there is a break in the circle from ineffable being to personal truth -- that's when one of those parallel universes branches into being. No, literally. By definition there is only one uni-verse, so all others are counterfeits.

Now, the universe is the totality and unicity of all objects (exteriorities), events (processes), and experiences (interiorities). Thus, to say, for example, that there are objects but no subjects (or that subjects are epiphenomenal) is to sever the cosmos at the root and veer into a parallel universe that can't even account for the absurd subject who posits and inhabits it.

Am I just digging a deeper hole? If so, I'll bet Dávila can help dig us out of it. Read them slowly so as to partake of their verticality, such that they launch you upward:

--The truth is objective but not impersonal.

--The life of the intelligence is a dialogue between the personalism of spirit and the impersonalism of reason.

--Truth is a person.

--The permanent possibility of initiating causal series is what we call a person.

--The universe is important if it is appearance, and insignificant if it is reality.

--The world is explicable from man; but man is not explicable from the world. Man is a given reality; the world is a hypothesis we invent.

--The free act is only conceivable in a created universe. In the universe that results from a free act. God exists for me in the same act in which I exist.

--The universe is a useless dictionary for someone who does not provide its proper syntax.

In each of these, we see the centrality of personhood, and how personhood is bound up with the reality behind appearances. It's just common sense!

29 comments:

julie said...

In fact, when it fails to happen -- when there is a break in the circle from ineffable being to personal truth -- that's when one of those parallel universes branches into being.

Like poking a hole in a Klein bottle, so that all the isness runs out.

Speaking of which, apparently you can really buy a Klein bottle. Or even a Klein stein!

What a wonderful world :)

Gagdad Bob said...

Scott Adams actually got me to thinking about reality branching off into multiple universes.

Roy Lofquist said...

"[T]he atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts." ~ Werner Heisenberg

"Observations not only disturb what is to be measured, they produce it." ~ Pascual Jordan

"When the province of physical theory was extended to encompass microscopic phenomena through the creation of quantum mechanics, the concept of consciousness came to the fore again. It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness." ~ Eugene Wigner

"The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment." ~ Bernard d'Espagnat

"In the beginning there were only probabilities. The universe could only come into existence if someone observed it. It does not matter that the observers turned up several billion years later. The universe exists because we are aware of it." ~ Martin Rees

julie said...

I read Adams a lot in the leadup to the election. He's not always right, but does have some interesting perspectives. Stopped after he switched to mostly podcasts, though. His movie idea is a good one; it is clear that the reality I perceive is vastly different from the reality perceived by - well, most other people. That's why it's pointless to engage with the sock puppet brigade, we are literally speaking from different universes, and if we can't even agree on the essential terms of reality it is impossible to have a dialog in any fruitful way.

I disagree with Adams slightly on his observation about the news, though, as I'm not at all convinced that there are necessarily two major news factions any more than there are two distinct political parties. Kayfabe isn't limited to wrestling. Whenever possible, if you want to know what really happened, check the source documents. And sometimes he seems either hopelessly naive or putting on a front of ignorance; since when have Democrats cared about the "integrity of American elections"?

Van Harvey said...

Julie said "...if we can't even agree on the essential terms of reality it is impossible to have a dialog in any fruitful way..."

That's a big 10-4.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. Godwin, Roy, Julie, Van.

This is the fateful sock puppet who does not share your essential terms of reality, and therefore is impossible to dialog with.

That being said, I do like your thoughtful comment Roy. You foreground quantum based reality speculations which are truly fascinating. It is like pulling back the curtain on the Wizard of OZ pulling levers. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" thunders a voice.

Probably God creates, tweaks and massages creation using consciousness which condenses out or hardens as quantum levers,particles, energy, etc, and He'd rather we not focus on the levers and mechanics of it all, but rather just enjoy the spectacle.

If I'm not mistaken, Dr. Godwin detests the whole idea the universe only exists when observed. As a matter of fact I don't like it much either. This is because universal truths are again up for grabs, if they are so darn malleable as that. Unsettling to say the least.

Well, tah tah have a splendid night all, a new day is on the way, plenty of trolling to do, me so happy.

Roy Lofquist said...

@anonymous troll

Actually, I think The Prophet (PBUH) had the right of it when he wrote “I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”.

Van Harvey said...

"Because these truths are so foundational, various parallel universes -- universes of pure ideology -- come into being with their denial. I mean this literally, because the universe includes its own fulfillment in the human subject, a la Whitehead. In other words, the human person is not incidental to the whole cosmic Hebang, but absolutely central."

Yep. And summarizing the comment box quotes:
1) Reality exists
2) To exist is to have Identity - what something contextually exists as
3) Consciousness participates in awareness of this.

Nothing you can think or do, can be done without all three, and the attempt of denying either, immediately generates a lie, and acting on or justifying that, spawns ideology.

Anonymous said...

I think most people here would agree that we don’t want a society where people freely prey on each other.

Anonymous said...

Most everybody I've ever met tends to project whatever does or doesn't work for them personally, onto all of reality, and call it reality.

Van Harvey said...

Regarding the quantum leaps of Heisenberg and a legion of others, the attempt to apply the reality of what happens in the context of the quantum level, to the reality experienced in the context of human behavior, is at best foolishness, or more often, mendacity. It's as moronic as attempting to describe the color, sound and scent of the nucleus of an atom, and advising a person to emulate them in their daily life.

Van Harvey said...

aninnymouse said "...tends to project whatever does or doesn't work for them personally, onto all of reality, and call it reality."

Guess what three things you used together in order to identify that they were 'projecting' that? Denying one or more in order to 'project' a false reality, is the means of forming lies and ideologies. Why am I so unsurprised that 'most everybody' you've met, does just that?

Huh. Stunner. But thanks for verifying what I said.

Anonymous said...

I was verifying. Projection is a common fact. Everybody has an ideology.

Anonymous said...

If universal truths could be known, then they would’ve sprung up all over the world throughout human history - in disparate places like India, China, France, the USA... – to then be commonly accepted worldwide. Yet as it is, India is still mostly Hindu, China atheist, France agnostic, and the USA still mostly Christian.

Could it be that universal truths always get stamped out, like cancer cure discoveries, by nefarious profiteers? If this is the case then some of the regulars here may want to be watching their backs. The Deep Roy State is preponderant.

But I digress. Few people doubt that there’s an Absolute Truth For Everything (ATFE), but most might agree that ATFE is beyond the present capability of humans to grasp. One smartest-man-ever type Chris Langan has his CTMU, which seems mostly the same thing. But that we cannot even agree on acronyms seems unpromising.

But quite happily, along comes Bob! He suggests that if we could all just properly jack into the almighty network, that we’d be that much closer to grasping that absolute truth. And if not then just sit back and marvel at the mysteriousness of it all. Sounds good to me. But based on what I’m seeing in the comments section, there may still be a bit of work to be done.

Anonymous said...

God Is.

As universal as it gets.

If you disagree, feel free to take it up with Him; I understand he enjoys such conversations.

River Cocytus said...

Someone needs to read Lewis' The Pattern of the Tao (Dao), to get a grasp on universal / common sense truths in the metaphysical / moral realm.

Universal truth may not be necessarily so common in history as it requires some clarity in the instrument to recognize; there is always an interplay between subject and object, in which if the subject is unable to perceive what evidences itself, it remains unnoticed (hiding in plain sight, as they say.)

This is also one reason why one of the wise men of history once said, "don't try to change the world, change worlds." Or didn't the Psalmist say, "The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the works of His hands?" There are certainly multiple 'universes', what isn't evident concerning them is if they indicate multiple physical worlds, just mental ones laid over the brute facts of stardust.

River Cocytus said...

@van: the property I think that is called Reflexivity is that, in conscious or intelligent beings, since they are able to observe and intuit the rules or policies which are enacted towards them, they can change their behavior in response, which may provoke a change in policy ad infinitum. Social science tends to get mired up in plans that get snarled by reflexivity (we like to call these unintended results, but you could simply call them perverse incentives) and for that reason has become somewhat of a byword in these days. Socialism so-called has as its central problem (versus capitalism, which seems relatively stable at least in self-reinforcing incentives) that it creates incentives that directly undermine and destroy itself simply due to human nature and reflexivity. Capitalism has other problems for certain, but as Davila noted, it created that prosperity which socialism is envious of.

Anonymous said...

RC, what if socialism or capitalism, or whatever mixture or non-mixture of either, are fragile constructs which can be easily corrupted by clever and powerful evil? Why not just stay focused on the evil itself? It's in the Bible.

In your world there must be socialists everywhere, behind every lamp post, in every dark alley and maybe even under your bed. I for one, have never met one and have no idea what you're talking about. Is it a matter of perspective?

Functioning capitalism, a functioning representative democracy, and big-tent Christianity appear to be settled science. If anything, evil has taken over control of those things and manipulates the common citizenry into to wasting their time and energies to be focused on some charicaturized evil on 'the other side' so they can get away with whatever they want. That'd be the real "Deep State" if one does exist.

Van Harvey said...

River said "...Social science tends to get mired up in plans that get snarled by reflexivity..."

Perhaps it does on its good days, but the rest of the time 'social science' is just wistful notions strutting about in daddy's lab coat.

"Capitalism has other problems for certain..." Not least of which is that it was a term of the early French Physiocrats, for an effective financial strategy - nothing more. Marx, finding it easier to attack 'money' than 'Liberty', jumped it up to the level of Economics, and then jumped that up as a substitute for philosophy, and as a means to strawman the Free Market to death... which of course the Right has enthusiastically cooperated with.

The modern habit of referring to an entire system of political philosophy, by an economic system, is like identifying human beings as 'Transporters of stomachs'. It is sad and depraved.

Prior to Marx, No one ever used the term in reference to an entire economic system, let alone for a political system. Adam Smith never used the term at all, he used the term 'Natural Liberty', which Marx wasn't going to touch with a ten foot pole. 'Free Market' is a term that's close to Smith's and is still in use and is a relatively harmless substitute for his, but even then it needs to be used to refer to a full system of Individual Rights that are upheld and defended under a Rule of Law, with that being the point of the Govt's Laws, and used to limit the Govt to that purpose. But of course, even that is only worth a damn with a moral people who value and respect the Truth.

"...Socialism so-called has as its central problem... that it creates incentives that dire..." Socialism has as its central problem that it is founded upon the denial and destruction of individual rights in every way, shape, and form, and is, and can only be, an immoral system of pitting powers against powers. But it does have the advantage of being the darling of the 'social sciences', soOo... there's that.
(sorry for the rushed and typo'd 1st comment)

Anonymous said...

There is nothing here which will prevent the inevitable anacyclosis.

River Cocytus said...

I don't find the concept of individual rights compelling, but for that matter, I also don't find the concept of group rights compelling either. I would certainly *prefer* to have as my political property guarantees against certain actions against me, such as censorship, personal violence, search or seizure of my goods without warning, the use of my land or home as quarters for operatives of the state, an arbitrarily arranged criminal trial which I would have no chance of being able to defend myself in and so on. I don't think however the concept that these rights are actually inalienable in a real sense holds up. It's smoke and mirrors. It could be read as an agreement between the founders and their successors to be held in perpetuity to NOT alienate these guarantees, and certainly freedom is impossible without regularity in law, which is the genius of the Romans and the Anglos, among others, which we've had the fortune to benefit from.

I don't see a metaphysical basis for these particular rights; nor again for any of the rights that socialists or radical leftists claim such as the right to have their basic needs taken care of, or the right to live in whatever transgressive way they want to and not suffer social consequences.

The free market is sort of misleading as well, since as I understand it, you can't really have a free market until you don't, that is, until you restrict certain activities from the market by compulsion, namely force and fraud. The early Romans did NOT have this restriction, and you were held to whatever agreements you made even if someone deceived you or attained your consent via threat. Our incarnation of the Free Market (conceptually) is powerful because by restricting certain activities, it allows those who can't wield personal armies to do business - with a slight overhead of contracts and market courts. By adding more actors with valuable things to trade to the market, you open up the market to more positive-sum trades while restricting with state force trades that tend to be zero or negative sum (i.e. robberies and fraud.)

Yet it is certainly the case that a savvy buyer with sharp teeth could do fine without these, it just would place a very high bar on effective participation and make it far easier to use the market for what amounts to theft, which may benefit the thief has no possible benefit to the society or state, so it has no reason to tolerate that.

I would like to see a metaphysical justification of individual rights that doesn't end up in progressivism; this isn't to say I expect them to be proven in the sense of derived from other principles, but it would be nice to see a rigorous demonstration of their validity (which at the moment seems quite lacking to me.) That would look like assuming them and with them as guides, demonstrating their superiority to systems that lack them, and hopefully not straw-men, as people are wont to do with capitalism and socialism.

River Cocytus said...

@anon 12:49

As I understand it, whether there are socialists everywhere or not is something we might call the 'no true socialist' fallacy. What is the true socialism? It has been used both positively and negatively for long enough that we could in fact, if it were rhetorically advantageous to us, state without any kind of contradiction that socialists are in fact, everywhere.

The collection of people that we could call socialists for various reasons is pretty universal; even Elon Musk is profiting from government subsidy.

Van Harvey said...

River said "I don't find the concept of individual rights compelling, but for that matter, I also don't find the concept of group rights compelling either. ..."

To dabble in making political comments upon the American scene, without finding that which the entire political system is founded upon in America 'compelling', is, metaphysically speaking, to not be an American. Of course you are far from being alone in this matter, in fact there are way more people living in America today who hold your opinion, than mine... but that accident of geographic dwelling places, is not enough to make them, in any meaningful way, American. Such similar accidents of birth and residency would be more than sufficient to make a person German, or Italian, or French, but American... not so much. Ironically, the person who moves to these shores from any of those other place in the world, in order to become an American, would be far truer Americans, than those merely born here.

Ah well.

"...I would certainly *prefer* to have as my political pr..." Might I suggest moving to Canada, France, etc., where your 'rights' will be treated as merely popular 'preferences'?
[annoying blogger comment break due to length]

Van Harvey said...

[continued] "I don't see a metaphysical basis for these particular rights;" If they have no metaphysical basis, then the individual rights that America was founded upon, would be nothing more than popular preferences, the fact that the self-evident nature of them were seen as more than that, is the basis of American Exceptionalism... which part do you have difficulty apprehending?

Could it be that you don't bother to think about them metaphysically, but only preferentially, and particularly because such a trite and shallow regard enables you to indulge in thinking about how manipulating the 'proper preferences' might solve whichever burning 'social science' issue that's captivates your interest at the moment?

No need to answer that, let's just move on to what you're now busily avoiding... though I'm pretty sure that over the years here you've been present for, and sometimes even participated in, going through the obviously self-evident nature of individual rights, but... what the hey.
[annoying blogger comment break due to length]

Van Harvey said...

[continued] The nature of being human, requires observation, thought, and taking action upon what you conclude to be the best course of action. The more comprehensive and reflective of the reality of how things actually are, and the more hierarchically abstract your concepts are, while still being reflective of the essential nature of what is real and true, the more likely your thoughts and actions will result in successful actions, and ordered thoughts upon them, and life in general. This is no less self-evidently true of the jungle dweller, than of the city dweller - the better you conceive and understand the nature of your surroundings, and the threats facing you, as well as how to communicate and interact with your fellows in order to succeed in creating wealth, sustenance, and the materials that secure you against the elements, the more likely it is that you will persist and prosper.

IOW: Metaphysically, you must recognize reality, order your thoughts and actions in respect to what is real and true, in order to succeed in living. Did I lose you on any metaphysically compelling point there? If not, then congratulations, you've recognized the self-evidently compelling metaphysical basis for Individual Rights.
[annoying blogger comment break due to length]

Van Harvey said...

[continued]
Just in case you missed the obvious, let's review the basics:

1 - In order to live as a human being, you must perceive, conceive, and act in accordance with what is real and true. This is no less true for those choosing between edible and poisonous berries to eat, or whether you will put in an honest days work, or refuse to do so and starve to death.
2 - In order to do #1, you must be able to think and act according to your best judgment, and for non-hermits that means being able to converse with others, and choose who you think will aid and who would hinder, successfully putting your thoughts into action.
3 - Self-evidently, this means that you must be free to speak, choose who you will associate with, and to retain the fruits (or negative consequences) of your actions, in order to live life as a fully human, human being, and permitting others the liberty to do the same.
4 - Additionally, being human, there are going to be persons, artistic expressions, religious beliefs, that your life would be stunted and brutalized, if you were forcibly prevented from engaging in.
5 - Living in society with others, without being subject to the arbitrary violence of forcible abuse, requires recognizing that we do make mistakes and sometimes misunderstand the statements and intentions of others, and so recognize the necessity of having a means of resolving disputes between each other that will occasionally arise out of honest error or misunderstandings (or deliberate abuses and evil intent), which requires a methodical means of examining the nature of those disputes by those who do not have a direct interest in how that dispute is resolved, except that it be done in a manner that any reasonable person might, on reviewing the facts, would likely judge similarly. In order to avoid the brutal nature of a violent 'all against all' life of violent vendettas, every person's life and well being depends upon their supporting such a system of conflict resolution and rules of thumb derived from them, being not only respected, but that they agree to accept such judgments ahead of their being personally involved in them. In order for such a system to become a tool of violence and abuse itself, it must be open to discussion, debate, and modification by those who respectfully live under it. And in those instances where some may, whether by deliberate intent, or passionate excess, choose to ignore those requirements, and act to physically assault, whether to injure or murder, that which all of these self-evident truths are predicated upon preserving - human life lived in a human manner - necessitates each person be permitted to defend themselves and what is theirs, from such violence.

In case you missed it, we've just thumb-nailed the metaphysical nature of those individual rights that are essential to living lives in liberty in society with others, the individual rights of freedom of speech, of association, of property rights, of religion, of the press, of equality before the law, the right of a fair trial, of the right to participate in and appeal to government, the right to be secure in your possessions and of contract, and the right to keep and bear arms.

If you need a little more detail, I've given more here, and elsewhere... let me know if you need more.

Van Harvey said...

River said "The free market is sort of misleading as well, since as I understand it, you can't really have a free market until you don't, that is, until you restrict certain activities from the market by compulsion, namely force and fraud."

Have you considered the possibility that you don't understand it? If so, what have you done to resolve that... or not?

"The early Romans did NOT have this restriction, and you were held to whatever agreements you made even if someone deceived you or attained your consent via threat. " Guess what else the early Romans, and the early Greeks for that matter (both of which I'm big fans of) did NOT have? That's right: a Free Market. They had more or less unrestricted trade, and they had the basis for systems of law, and they had most of the necessary philosophical basis, but they never had a Free Market, because they laced the concept of 'all men are created equal', and so required all to be treated equally before the law, and so they could not, and did not, have or enjoy a Free Market (which requires and implies what I said in my first comments above).

"...restrict certain activities from the market by compulsion, namely force and fraud." There is a great deal of ... error... here, that I'm hoping is only that of thoughtlessness, rather than the guile and craft of uber-libertarian and leftist ideological thinking. Regardless, acting without abuse of force and fraud, requires no compulsion of law upon the actions of an honest person, only those who deliberately act by force and fraud are compelled by the law to answer for their crimes.

[argh... length break. I haven't done this in a long, long, time]

Anonymous said...

As power concentrates into pathology, what was once common sense becomes a diversionary sideshow for the moral masses. Same old story. Good luck preaching to those being ruined by sociopathic mismanagement. When rationalizing fails, the powerless have a historic habit of forming into inflamed mobs demanding change which authoritarians will take full advantage of. It's easier to just manage the PTB.

And where's your admiration of Christianity?

Anonymous said...

Hello River C and Van:

Nice to see a debate conducted in a civil manner in the blog comments. Kudos to your both for lengthy and thoughtful comments.

For the contention regarding the existence of metaphysical underpinnings of rights, I rule in favor of Van. The reasoning being, everything has a metaphysical under-pinning of some kind, because this is a metaphysical cosmos. Van's exploration of rights fails to mention that denial of rights and abuses of rights also have metaphysical underpinnings.

For the contention that theft and fraud are included in Free Market transactions, I rule in favor of River C. These are transactions indeed, and forms of these are carried out daily in our nation under the flag of capitalism. It is built in. The exchange is, give me money for nothing. "Nothing" is a valid place-holder. There is no rule there has to be "something" both ways in an exchange.

You may appeal my ruling by writing a comment with rationale.

Regards, Interlocutor X