Monday, December 21, 2020

First Principles of Thought and Stupidity

What are the principles by virtue of which thought is possible? 

Well, it depends on what we mean by "thought" -- by which we don't mean just anything, e.g., Dr. Jill Biden's subliterate doctoral thesis, much less Michelle Obamas's 8th grade level master's thesis. Rather, the value of thought derives from its being in conformity with reality. To put it another way, thought is the link between being and truth.

Or so we have heard from the wise. Or from some voice in my head, I forget which.

How is it possible to think unless thinking can be resolved to first principles? I don't know. Ask a leftist, for whom thinking, principles, reality, and truth are completely independent of one another.

By the way, we got off to a late start this morning, so don't be surprised if things end abruptly. I was tempted to give myself a timeout for the rest of the year, but I also find myself toying with this subject, especially after reading an admirably clear presentation of it in Sheen's God and Intelligence in Modern PhilosophyLet the plagiaphrasing begin:

Traditional philosophy begins with common sense. Its basis is the certitudes of the immediately evident principles which are apprehended by the light of intelligence from the most simple and evident facts about us.

What we're looking for is the principles with which one cannot possibly disagree without implicitly agreeing with them. Are there such principles? Or are postmodernists correct that we live in a cosmos of absolute relativity and therefore utter stupidity? 

How do we know a first principle when we see it? What are its qualifications? Well, it "ought to be one about which it is impossible to be mistaken." It should "be so evident as to admit of no error." Moreover, no sneaky stuff, no conditions, no special pleading, and no appeals to authority: it must be naturally known.

The first principle of thought is the foundation of all our intellectual constructions. There is no certitude in the last analysis unless they can be resolved back to the first principles of thought. Only on condition that the first principles are firm and stable will the conclusions be firm and stable, and the nearer our conclusions are to the first principles the more certain they are...

As we've suggested before, what instinct is to the animal, intellect is to man. Sheen suggests something similar, that "What the determination of form and end is for plants, what instinct is for animals, this and more the first principle is for man."

Why? Because, as our frequent commenter Nicolás has said

Intelligence is the capacity for discerning principles.

 Which is precisely why

Nearly every idea is an overdrawn check that circulates until it is presented for payment.

Your little idea must ultimately be backed by the full faith and credit of the First Bank of Reality, otherwise you're just circulating so much funny money. Your intellectual paper money must be founded on something solid, on real wealth -- which is also why

The doctrines that explain the higher by means of the lower are appendices of a magician’s rule book.

For to reduce the higher to the lower like trying to live inside your bank account, or to avoid starvation by eating money. Why do we laugh at these folks? Because

Four or five invulnerable philosophical propositions allow us to make fun of the rest.

I'm almost loathe to discuss it, because it was such a dreary and tedious book, but this is all covered from the other side of the spectrum in Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity. What makes it tedious is that the authors attempt to be fair and dispassionate in describing these morons, instead if doing so in an insultaining and ironyclad way. 

For if first principles are immediately evident to the light of intellect, then these ideas are immediately seen to be idiotic by that same light. No one needs to describe them in excruciating detail.  The bottom line is that leftist scholarship is full of the kind of thinking that renders intelligent thought impossible. 

Literally. For it is -- proudly -- mired in relativism, subjectivism, radical skepticism, social constructivism, and suspicion of any and all meta-narratives (except its own).  It rejects objective truth, the power of reason, the existence of human nature, and the capacity of language to communicate truth. Indeed, it is the philosophical antithesis of common sense realism, in that its first principle is

a broad rejection of the correspondence theory of truth: that is, the position that there are objective truths and that they can be established as true by their correspondence with how things actually are in the world. 

So it is an overt rejection of the very classical liberal enlightenment values that undergird our civilization. Which got me to thinking: isn't the progressive left just an inevitable entailment of these values, once they are detached from the Absolute? Yes, but we're out of time....


40 comments:

julie said...

There is no certitude in the last analysis unless they can be resolved back to the first principles of thought.

As the carpenters say: measure twice, cut once.

Anonymous said...

This well-crafted and lucid post argues for the primacy of verifiable facts and principles to undergird out thoughts and actions.

A lucid understanding of reality is needed by each person to avoid injury and so as not to remove oneself from the gene pool too quickly.

Every person learns, at various rates, to understand and think clearly about gravity, fire, kinetic force, deep water, fast water, aggression from others, moving vehicles, cold temperatures, overly hot temperatures, biting insects, lack of food, too much food, lack of sleep, sharp blades, firearms, ligatures around the neck, bacteria, viruses, spoiled food, and so forth and so on.

These are the truths which we all must need share. Physical laws and properties do need to be apprehended accurately and I think most people get all that dialed in OK.

But then, let's not give reality TOO much weight. It is tempting to extrapolate from safety consideration and base all thought on reality, but that's not really necessary or even beneficial.

Once survival needs are met, the great STRENGTH of humankind is the ability to ditch reality and go into fantasy mode. This is where the creative heavy lifting gets done. And fantasies do translate into realities sooner or later.

You can take most any widget from the TV series Star Trek from tricorders to phasers and all of these have or will manifest.

So your odious leftist, imagining gender is fluid and two girls can marry, well...that is fair game suh. It is fair game. It can be made to come to pass.

So there's my two cents on the matter. Truth and reality. Can't live without it, but it is not all there is.

-Mindy Likes to Watch

Anonymous said...

It looks like far-right media sources have been walking back their voter conspiracy stories since Smartmatic’s lawyers have been threatening defamation lawsuits. Since the media sources would be highly unlikely to be able to prove any allegation, they have no choice but to back down. Apparently lying for political points (or entertainment) works, until lawyers start demanding actual proof.

ted said...

I read "Cynical Theories", and while I generally liked it, I agree it got very tedious spending a chapter on each identity group and its inane ideas. It can easily be summed up in a chapter - or a paragraph like you did!

ted said...

Also the authors articulate they are classical liberals, and don't adhere to conservative or religious beliefs. Like you also said, it's a slippery slope when you're "detached from the Absolute".

Anonymous said...

Finally a verifiable case of voter fraud. You were right!

https://www.businessinsider.com/voter-election-fraud-pennsylvania-charge-dead-mom-vote-trump-2020-12

Nicolás said...

Because he does not understand the objection that refutes him the fool thinks he has been corroborated.

Anonymous said...

What if the objection sure as hell does unconsciously wants a theocratic kingship?

The more intelligent of conservative representatives act the skeptic, as they should. "Show me that the inevitable voter fraud is within historically acceptable limits" they say. But they have to be reasonable, since personal responsibility demands reason. After 60 lost court cases, some Supreme, they acquiesce. So they turn their skepticism towards Trump. What does Trump see which thousands of voting officials do not?

Well, they see the fine print in his donation agreements. They see that it says that he gets to keep most of the money.

Where is the God in this? Why didn't he just give Trump the majority of the official vote count, where nobody would be the wiser? Is this yet another amusing game for him? Is this an attempt to get his more politically conservative and power hungry faithful to self-reflect at their current direction? Is God instead, "owning the libs", because his hurricanes have failed against the gay movement? So why doesn't he just tornado-destroy the Log Cabin Republican clubhouse? Why doesn't Jim Hoft worry about these things? Does he ever even say anything Christian? So many questions, which will never go answered.

Nicolás said...

Militant irreligion gradually transforms the one possessed into a simple imbecile convulsed by hatred.

Anonymous said...

An absence of evidence does not need to be corroborated. Someone making accusations needs corroboration of which has not been provided. After losing 60 court cases, having the Attorney General state that there was no fraud, and having no evidence at all of fraud, anyone who believes in this is delusional, lying to themselves, lying to others, or stupid. You clearly aren't stupid, so which is it? Do you live in a fantasy land? Do you recognize the truth, but are afraid to admit it? Do you think that our democracy doesn't matter, and that your candidate is important enough to throw away democracy. Which is it, because you are clearly and verifiably wrong.

You can make all of the insulting quips that you want, but you have offered no evidence of you assertions as has neither anyone else. Your behavior is as childish as the first toddler.

I can understand how stupid people can hold a belief that is clearly and verifiably false. I find it scary that intelligent people can by into this drivel.

Anyway, you cry and moan and groan all you want. Your candidate lost fair and square and there isn't a damned thing you can do about it aside from rallying your cheerleaders.

How do you expect anyone to take anything you say seriously?






Nicolás said...

What I say here will seem trivial to whoever ignores everything to which I allude.

Anonymous said...

This isn't a matter of ignoring all of your allusions. I happen to agree with some things you say and disagree with others. My comments have been solely on your assertion that the election was fraudulent. Unless you have some evidence that Trump couldn't come up with in 60 court cases, that assertion is false. Don't you think dismissing our democracy should be based on more than the ramblings of a poor loser who claims he won by millions of votes without any factual basis for this assertion? Don't you think that having a president who refuses an orderly transition of power is doing damage to our democracy? Should that be the new standard whereby any president who loses can falsely claim otherwise? Shouldn't the will of the voters be what determines our president?

Cousin Dupree said...

It's touching to see a Dem finally concede the 2016 election.

Anonymous said...

Militant irreligion gradually transforms the one possessed into a simple imbecile convulsed by hatred.

Are you trying to fit me into a box which you've constructed just for me? Or projecting perhaps? Actually, I prefer religion, but only if it makes American sense. I don't like Christians worshipping a malignant narcissist. Been tried before, with disastrous results.

Anonymous said...

anon @12/22/2020 12:01:00 PM,

If Bill Barr or Brian Kemp are any examples, it's quite risky to go against Bob's mob. He could get death threats. Or worse.

Anonymous said...

Dupree,
Hillary, that insufferably self-entitled historically poor candidate bitch, conceded the very next morning after the election. She then pouted about Russian conspiracies. Nobody actually took any challenges to their handpicked Supreme Court, and after being dismissed, endlessly pouted all POUTU-like and considered anything remotely martial law.

Nicolás said...

Liberals describe a past that never existed and predict a future that is never realized.

Anonymous said...

"It's touching to see a Dem finally concede the 2016 election"

I am not a Dem. You consistently refuse to address how you can believe in the obviously false claims of a fraudulent election and can only deflect. You have never addressed facts and keep on repeating the Orange Buffoon mantra.

I guess aside from stupidity (which I don't believe is your case), delusion, or just not caring about the truth, there is one more possibility: You really do know better and know your assertions of election fraud are full of crap and you intent is just to annoy. If that is the case, kudos to you... you have accomplished your goal.

Nicolás said...

Reducing another’s thought to his supposed motives prevents us from understanding him.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that being annoying is very enticing, especially if it appears aimless and unprincipled.

But then I did hear that Jesus was actually a lot like Gilbert Gottfried.

Anonymous said...

It really isn't that hard to understand. Justify your dangerous assertions about election fraud with facts. You refuse to do that. To any rational person, you don't have a leg to stand on. Major accusations without fact. Why don't you just admit that you were wrong. It isn't that hard.. The malignant narcissistic can't do it, but I bet you can. Come on... give it a try... I bet you can. You'll feel better afterwards.




Nicolás said...

Secular morality exudes pride.

Daisy said...

Anon, U mad, bro?

It's the holidays, maybe you should try a nice, soothing glass of nog. The one that coats is the only one you need.

Anonymous said...

No Daisy, I am fairly sane. However I must admit that I did take trying to reason with the good Doctor too far when it was obvious that he would stick to his poorly thought out position as far as election fraud was concerned and only has the ability to deflect lash out with insults when presented with a differing opinion and refuse to respond with a fact-based argument. It is a shame as he really does have some very thought-provoking articles. I guess is that all he wants is a group of yes-people and cheerleaders who agree with him on his blog (kind of reminds me of someone - can't put my finger on who). It is his blog and he can do what he wants, but the ability to be able to have a discussion with those with opinions that don't agree 100% with his would certainly give him more credibility and make this a much more interesting site.

Cousin Dupree said...

I don't even recall Bob posting anything about the rigged election. What did he say, exactly?

Anonymous said...

I believe the conversation started a while back when "he" stated that the election was stolen and made references to voter fraud. When the topic as to there not being any proof of voter fraud was bought up my multiple anons (not only me), his response was pretty much one of insults and deflection to any who contended that there was no proof of voter fraud. Yeah, I did post the link above about the verifiable case of voter fraud being someone who voted for Trump which was a somewhat inflammatory nose tweak.

I probably have taken the posts too far given the fruitlessness of it and I do take my concern about what is going on in this country too far. I guess that what makes my reaction to "his" position on this so concerning to me is the erosion of our democracy and how smart people could buy into the election fraud conspiracy theories. Anyway, "he" won and I give up.

Cousin Dupree said...

Specific post, please.

Anonymous said...

Bob wrote that anti-trump voter fraud was a "metaphysical certainty." After being exercised about this, I haven't heard any more metaphysical certainty.

Bob has been chastised. He stepped in it with by supporting the conspiracy theory and he knows it. His candidate lost. Not a good year for Bob.

The MAGA people are unable to criticize Trump. They just can't bring themselves to do it. You could probably give them truth serum and they would not be able to form words. That's how strong the prohibition runs. Magical.

Bob is not going to admit being wrong about anything in any way, shape, or form; he just never concedes error. Bob may be a narcissist (ironic but not surprising); probably the profession attracts those who are at tad ill themselves.

No, you have to love Bob the way he is or not at all. He's not a bad sort, but if you are looking for love, respect and validation, you will not find it with Dr. Godwin. I've been hanging here for 15 years, friend.

His apparently happy spouse and stable marriage would need to be factored in. He can't be that bad if such is the case; his private persona is doubtless not as heartless as the public one.

Daisy said...

Good grief, the butthurt oozing from this guy. Gamma wall of text much?

julie said...

Wow.

In unrelated news, today's sign of the apocalypse: AOC says something I completely agree with.

Gagdad Bob said...

Republicans in congress couldn't even wait until January 20 to get back to business as usual.

Anonymous said...

Well, I for one am impressed with the progress the other anons have made. It seems like yesterday that all they wanted was socialism and satanism.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie:

Even Trump has said some things I agree with ;-) Although I very rarely agree with anything that AOC says also and consider her a clueless naive child. I think that you and I could agree that the system, whether Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Liberal is corrupt. Basically they all sold out to special interests and had the lobbyists insert into the bill what they paid for in terms of hard campaign donations or the revolving door of the promise of future jobs. Nobody that voted on the bill knew what was in it in total. Pretty disgusting and as Bob noted above, business as usual...

Anonymous said...

Speaking of AOC, I think she gets way more press than is warranted given her junior status in congress. I think much of it has to do with her being young and pretty. If she was 60 and obese, I doubt that she would get that much press.

ted said...

Yes AOC is young, pretty, AND RADICALLY LEFT. Let's not forget that. There's a few pretty politicians out there, but they don't come from the School of Redistribution of Wealth and Honor as she does.

julie said...

Oh, agreed - there's no question at all about who and what she is. But truth is truth; to hear her speak it is as surprising as seeing a dolphin stroll down the street.

Anonymous said...

Julie wrote regarding AOC:

"Oh, agreed - there's no question at all about who and what she is. But truth is truth; to hear her speak it is as surprising as seeing a dolphin stroll down the street."

The healing begins. The nation moves on. Expect to see lots more dolphins strolling....

Anonymous said...

The obsession with being telegenic is disturbing. All one has to do these days is rehearse the proper rhetoric, and a lucrative career can be born.

That's because today most of everything revolves around the investor class. Sure, you can freely choose to live off-grid to homestead and home school. But sooner or later, you're gonna have to pay the piper. My own favorite YouTube homesteader, a self-reliant gun-toting Christian, besides his ad revenues from multinationals, relies heavily on free gifts from tool corporations looking for endorsement.

Even conservative outlets like Fox, Newsmax, and OAC, have been reminded that they're owned by the investor class. One can criticize nebulous entities, like "the far left" any way they want, but go after name-brand corporations like Smartmatic and Dominion and just the threat of defamation lawsuits will set your behavior straight.

Anonymous said...

Did I day OAC? OAN. See what I mean?

Van Harvey said...

"How is it possible to think unless thinking can be resolved to first principles? I don't know. Ask a leftist, for whom thinking, principles, reality, and truth are completely independent of one another."

Yep. I've been distracted by this same subject into a new post, interrupting me from finishing a series of posts that I was finally getting around to posting off my back, and that was [glances up a publish date], yep, right about the same time you were here. The problem with the "Ask a leftist", is that those pesky leftists haven't kept their muddy thoughts to themselves, and even sensible conservatives hardly notice the mud they carelessly bake into their own pies, and there is much blinking when pointing that fact out.

"...in Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity. What makes it tedious is that the authors attempt to be fair and dispassionate..."

Heh, started that last week too, and yes, same impression. They continually identify pure absurdities, and then go on to carefully examine what's built upon it as if they're honestly not sure whether or not that next thought is going to be even crappier.

Ah well, keeps the blogosphere spinning round and round.