Thursday, December 28, 2006

Identify The Person

I already operate by believing in an Ultimate Personal Mind as the ideal for comparison to identify specific objects as limited and somewhat self-contradictory versions of that Ultimate Personal Mind.

That's how I know you're a person, even if you are only myself.

In order to group things into a category, that category must be there already.

Who says neo-kantianism isn't fun?!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Descartes Revisited

I believe I have discovered a new argument for the existence of God, based on the meaning of person combined with an inventory of the most basic background assumptions a human being operates with. This is consistent with the truth being "held down" as Paul once said. Everything except acknowledgment of God is already assumed by all, which means that this is the secret God of atheism as well. This argument closely follows the Cogito of Descartes which says that one's own existence cannot really be doubted because doubting is itself an act carried out by a already-existing selfhood who does the doubting in the first place. I will prove that doubting or denying God assumes God implicitly in everything except the name.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Taken With Life

"It's life that's the real thief. It's taken away everything I have."

---Countess Vanessa
"The Double Clue", Agatha Christie

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Truth Detective

One must always seek the truth from within.

Hercule Poirot (Agatha Christie)
"The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim"

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Pseudo-Problem of Evil

This is similar to Zeno's Paradox already assuming it's own falsification in its antecendent, whereby the paradox is asserted because some fraction of the A-to-B distance must already be traversed, a prior non-paradoxical necessity which begs the question of the whole paradox's viability in the first place, all in the attempt to help the conditional successfully infer a self-eliminated consequent. "must" makes it a strict implication of necessity, "If and only if..."

In other words, Zeno's Paradox assumes there is a contradiction to the "no traversals of x to y" consequent in order for it to be possible for the paradox to be stated at all.

That prior necessity to go through partial segments is impossible because it depends on the already-known success of partial segment traversing, each of which is open to the same impossibility because of further sub-segment necessities, and so on without end.

The prior smaller-segment-traversal requirement gets a free ride of non-paradoxicality in order to complete the conditional statement that expresses the paradox.

In the same way,

"If Evil exists,
then there is no God
or no Goodness of God
or no Goodness per se.",

assumes that the antecedent "Evil exists" is problem-free.

Yet it has to be true in order for the conditional itself to be considered true. Whether one is a Christian, merely a theistic or deistic believer in God, or an atheist, the assertion of any kind of objective reality of Evil already begs all the same questions, since it requires a non-problematic standard of Goodness according to which Evil can be identified or asserted as real in the first place

Consequently, there is no problem of Evil that does not assume non-problematic background assumptions concerning Evil's meaning and reality.

If Evil really did contradict Goodness, it's difficult to see how there could be any surviving criteria to begin with, on which to base the claim that Evil is real.

Comment: It seemed to me that your point is that the existence of evil presupposes the existence of God.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: I have actually changed my view on this one, in the process of editing it and rethinking it.]

My response: The claim that Evil exists indirectly assumes belief in God. The belief in Ultimate Goodness directly assumes belief in God because Ultimate Goodness can exist only as an aspect of an Ultimate Mind. But we do use different aspects of this Ultimate Mind Object by themselves as well as in partial and approximative complete sets.

A belief in ultimate goodness must be assumed, to give meaning to the claim that evil exists.

Note that I'm saying that the existence of God is -ultimately- presupposed, not -immediate- or -directly- presupposed by the existence of evil, because "God exists" is not the most direct conclusion or most direct prior assumption of "Evil exists".

However, the claim that evil exists does assume a non-problematic prior notion of good by which evil can be identified as objectively real.

But there cannot be a non-problematic notion of good if the existence of evil somehow negates the good, yet it's required for evil to be a reality that negates this same good that was used to recognize evil in the first place.

One cannot have it both ways. If evil exists as a negator of the good, then there never was the possibility of knowing this, because there would in that case be no prior good as the criterion for initially identifying evil.

Even if this core problem is ignored, the existence of evil could inveigh against the good only if evil could be shown to be unrectifiable in principle, which it cannot without knowing the outcome of all possible states of the total in advance, or apart from their obtaining.

However, such rectifiability would raise the same issue as that of identifying evil to begin with, since a rectified total, in the absence of which evil is identified, would be indistinguishable from the good. A rectified total is the same prior-notion-of-good assumption all over again, but introduced through an implicit back door.

In philosophical shop talk, there is a saying that "everyone has their god-statements", and there's no exception to this in the problem of evil's definitional self-exemption.

Every problem-of-evil claimant has their goodness assumptions, just as every atheist has their mind-god assumptions. Otherwise, there would be no basis for universal construance rules and obligations concerning the total, which are common to just about all objections to the existence or goodness of God.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lush As Logician

It's funny how someone can read something on my blog, and assume I believe it. I believe a lot of it, some I don't. If you don't want to read it, don't read it. If you want to assume I believe X because X was on my blog, that's your business. What can we infer about you from the same kind of fallacious reasoning? Take that and run with it.

Microsoft collectivism would say:

What conclusions would you like to jump to today?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

My Theory of Knowledge 1

Our knowledge comes from two sources in the mind.

Knowledge comes from receiving impressions and representations of objects, combined with spontaneously conceptualizing those representations.

Receiving representations provides given objects. Conceptualizing those representations produces thoughts about those objects. Therefore, neither by themselves can produce knowledge. Consequently, intuition and concepts are two necessary elements of all knowledge.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Rational Necessity, Existential Premises, and Objectivity 4

Another objection: You're using rational categories to refute an argument which purports to deny their universal applicability.

My response: Both objections and answers can be intelligible only by using those categories. Hence, the objection is self-contradictory. Therefore, it's invalid.

And if anyone thinks they can formulate just one objection or answer without them, by all means let me know. Just try not to slip back into that nasty category habit in the process, ok?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Rational Necessity, Existential Premises, and Objectivity 3

An objection: The word necessarily changes the situation and removes the difficulty, since it is maintained that the rationally necessary is not necessarily the objectively real, and not that it simply is not the objectively real.

However, that which is not necessarily the case, or not necessarily actual, is either false or without sufficient rational grounds. If false, then the objection cancels out and is invalid, for the word necessarily may be dropped. If believed without sufficient rational grounds, then the definition may be substituted in the original statement---the rationally necessary is what is believed, without sufficient rational grounds, to actually be the case---and is therefore self-contradictory. In either case, then, the original objection fails.

Rational Necessity, Existential Premises, and Objectivity 2

The statement:

"The rationally necessary is not necessarily the objectively real"

is itself either rationally conceivable or not. If it is not rationally conceivable, then it is meaningless and the objection vanishes. If it is rationally conceivable and intelligible, then it must be either a statement about what is objectively and actually the case or not.

If the statement is not objectively and actually the case, it is false and the objection collapses again.

But if it is objectively and actually the case, then it is still false, since it claims that what is rationally necessary is not necessarily actually the case.

Moreover, is that statement itself  "rationally necessary"? Even my slowest readers should be able to get this point.

Thus the objection is self-contradictory in several senses.

Rational Necessity, Existential Premises, and Objectivity

If what is logically necessary to conceive, starting from existential premises such as the contingency of the phenomenal world or the existence of anything, is not applicable and necessary, then knowledge at every level of experience is impossible.

Knowledge exists only when it is rationally intelligible, resulting from a self-consistent application of the mind's categorical structure to the data of experience. Therefore, either what I must rationally conceive, on existential premises, is objectively the case, or no knowledge is possible.

But the position that knowledge is impossible is self-contradictory, since its truth involves its falsity. Therefore, what is rationally necessary to conceive, on existential premises, is objectively the case.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Arguing To Survive

If naturalistic evolution is true, then our cognitive faculties have resulted from blind mechanisms like natural selection, working on sources of genetic variation such as random genetic mutation. And the ultimate purpose or function or chore of our cognitive faculties, if they have one, is survival. Survival of the individual, the species, the gene, or the genotype.

Consequently, it's unlikely our cognitive faculties produce beliefs that are true. They can only help survive. Consequently, given naturalistic evolution, the probability or our faculties' being reliable is low, even when applied to naturalistic evolution itself.

--From Alvin Plantinga
"An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism"

Monday, July 03, 2006

Perfect-Mind Questions

Someone asked me about the wisdom of searching for or being preoccupied with a perfect mind.

First, I discovered the perfect mind long ago. To question there was one seemed to assume one, or assume my embodiment of one in that self-same process, so I just gave up and realized there is a universal brick wall in any attempt to even question it.
Questioning a perfect mind does the same thing.
That question assumes a perfect mind to analyze the wisdom of my belief in it to possibily recognize it to be deficient or to be a defection, in some way and to some extent, from a perfect habit of mind.

It's the same thing, in other words. There are just as many perfect-mind assumptions behind denials of a perfect mind, as there are in the perfect-mind belief itself.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dying to Surprise You

A man dies and suddenly finds himself at the gates of Heaven.

He immediately sees his wife and two children standing outside the gates looking at him. His wife says,

"When the doctor told us you were fading fast, we all ran home and committed suicide, just so we could surprise you here!"


From a cartoon in The New Yorker

Pessimism's Vested Interests

For most people
it would be very convenient
if God were a rascal.

When In Rome

You become what your companions are.

MYOB

If you want to make an enemy,
try to change someone.

Less Is More

Whoever lives
content with little
has everything.

Honestly

We weaken whatever we exaggerate.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

God, Authority, and Moral Agency

Brunner, Buber, Barth, Neibuhr, Bultmann and others like them: The only genuine or adequate basis for morality is a religion that acknowledges the sovereignty of the Lord found in the prophetic religions. Many non-religious people behave morally, but without a belief in God and God's law, there is no ground or reason for being moral. The moral relativism, skepticism, and nihilism rampant in our age is due to the weakening of religious belief by the rise of science. Without God there can be no objective foundation for our moral beliefs. Only a believer perceives that the God recognized in faith, is the only God, and all that is otherwise called good cannot lay claim to this title in its ultimate sense. The Good is always doing what God wills at any perticular moment. Moreover, this moral Good can only be attained by our unconditional obedience to God, the ground of our being. Without God life would have no point andmorality would have no basis. Without religious belief, without the living God, there could be no adequate answer to the persistently gnawing questions: What should I do? How should I live?

Nielsen: But is being willed by God the, or even a, basic criterion for believing that whatever is willed by God is morally good or is something that ought to be done?

Is being willed by God the only or the only adequate criterion for believing that whatever is willed by God is morally good or is something that ought to be done?

The criterion for the goodness of an action or attitude is some measure or test for deciding which actions or attitudes are good or desirable, or at least are the least undesirable of the alternate actions or attitudes open to us. A moral criterion is the standard we use for determining the value of an action, principle, rule, or attitude. We have such a standard when we have relevant considerations for deciding whether something is what it is claimed to be. A basic moral criterion is a test for judging the legitimacy of moral rules or acts or attitudes, and a test that one would give up last if one were reasoning morally.

Also, in asking about the authority for our moral beliefs, we're not asking how we came to have them. Many people get their beliefs from parents, teachers, peers, and so on. They are beliefs which we have been conditioned to accept. But the validity or soundness of a belief is independent of its origin. When someone is asked where they got their moral beliefs, they are probably not asking how they came to believe them, but on that authority they hold those beliefs or for what good reasons or justification they hold them.

They cannot hold them on any authority. Many of us turn to people for moral advice in moral issues, but if we do what we do only because some authority says to, we cannot be reasoning and acting as moral agents. Because to respond as a moral agent, one's moral principle must be one's own deliberate decision and it must be something for which one is prepared to give reasons.

Hence, the fact that God has commanded, willed, or ordained something cannot be a criterion for claiming that whatever is commanded, will, or ordained ought to be done.


While I do not agree with Bultmann et al, a problem I notice about Nielsen's criticism against them is that it implies there is some supervisory obligation or "ought" about about the criterion for obligation itself, which begs the question all over again, as if we "ought" to construe "ought" in a certain way, and let's not mention the construance obligation itself.

Once again: What about that statement itself? "Ought" we believe IT?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Truth's Girlfriend

It is one mark of the truth, that it courts enquiry.

Daniel Wilson

Nature Abhors A Vacuum

For every true belief the mind rejects, it assumes a false one from which the fog of distraction rises to blot out true insight.

Boethius
The Consolation of Philosophy
Rome, 520 A.D.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

What about that statement itself?

Try saying, at least to yourself, "What about that statement ITSELF" any time you hear these grandiose "Who is to judge?", "No one can know THE truth", "Everything's relative" types of philosophical claims and questions.

"What about that statement itself?"

is one the most important questions in philosophy, especially for non-philosophical individuals.

It can make a lot of lights go on, and turn the tables in many situations. The statement

"No one can know the truth" ---is paraded around like that statement itself is the truth, isn't it?

See? You're becoming a streetwise philosopher already!

I have seen non-philosophical people of all ages have eureka moments, even turning points in their lives, just from thinking about this one almost magic question.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Unvarnishing the Truth

One must be honest in intellectual matters to the point of harshness. One must be accustomed to living on mountains---to seeing the wretched ephemeral chatter about politics and national egoism beneath one. One must have become indifferent, one must never ask whether truth is useful or whether it is a fatality. A preference, born from strength, for questions for which no one today has the courage. Courage for the denied. Predestination for the labyrinth. An experience out of seven solitudes. New ears for new music. New eyes for the most distant things. A new conscience for truths which have so far remained silent.


Friedrich Nietzsche
Bonn, 1888

Pre-Birthing

My time has not yet come. Some are born posthumously.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Stating the Unstated

My ambition is to say in ten sentences what everyone else says in a book. And what everyone else does not say in a book.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Twilight of the Idols
"Expeditions of an Untimely Man"
1889

Immortal Concision

Aphorisms are the forms of eternity.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Twilight of the Idols
"Expeditions of an Untimely Man" 51
1889

Dancing with Philosophers

There is no formula for how much nourishment a spirit requires. But if its taste is for independence, for wandering, perhaps for adventures to which only the swiftest are equal, then it prefers to live free on a light diet, than unfree and stuffed.

Not fat, but the greatest suppleness and strength is what a good dancer wants from their food. And I don't know what more the spirit of a philosopher could wish to be than a good dancer. For the dance is their ideal, their art, and also the only kind of piety they know, their 'divine service'.

Friedrich Nietzsche 1887

Hot Issues and Cold Showers

I regard profound problems as I do a cold bath. In quickly and out quickly. That one thereby fails to get down deep enough, fails to reach the depths, is the superstition of the enemies of cold water. They speak without experience. Oh! Great cold makes one quick!

Friedrich Nietzsche
1887

Social Butterfly Skeet Shooting

I no longer write anything which does not reduce to despair every kind of person who is 'in a hurry'.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Daybreak
"Preface"
1886

Wisdom Wars

Wisdom is a woman and loves only a warrior.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Thus Spoke Zarathustra
"Of Reading and Writing"
1883

Laughing Lions

Courage wants to laugh. Who of you can laugh and be exalted at the same time?

Friedrich Nietzsche
Thus Spoke Zarathustra
"Of Reading and Writing"
1883

Dreams of Imprintedness

Whoever writes in blood and aphorisms does not want to be read. They want to be learned by heart.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Thus Spoke Zarathustra
"Of Reading and Writing"
1883

The Diggers Revisited

The good individuals of every age are those who bury the old ideas in the depths of the earth and bear fruit with them, the agriculturalists of the spirit.

Friedrich Nietzsche
1882

Unselfishness' Selfish Motive 1

When they feel they are unselfish, they think there's no reason to bother with truth.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Daybreak 456
1881

Creating Hammers

Real philosophers reach for the future with a creative hand. And for them, everything that has ever existed becomes a means, an instrument, a hammer. Their knowing is creating.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Beyond Good and Evil 211
1886

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Enduring Significance of Stupidity

Imprudence may deceive itself, but it cannot alter the true value of things.

Boethius
The Consolation of Philosophy
Pavia, 520 A.D.

Consolatio Philosophiae 2

Why then are miserable men in awe
When tyrants rage impotently?
If first you rid yourself of hope and fear
You have disarmed the tyrant's wrath:
But whosoever quakes in hope or fear,
Drifting or losing mastery,
Has cast away his shield, has left his place,
And holds the chain with which he will be held.

Boethius
The Consolation of Philosophy
Pavia, 520 A.D.

Consolatio Philosophiae 1

I fought many a great battle against the reckless forces of folly.

Boethius
The Consolation of Philosophy
Pavia, 520 A.D.

The Idea of the Good

The Meaning and Method of Moral Inquiry

It is destiny to decide. Whether choices are free or determined, trivial or momentous, carelessly made or carefully reasoned---in a sense it doesn't matter. The one thing there's no choice about is that we have to choose.

The scope of choice is not all-encompassing, since many choices are made by the natural environment, biology, family situation, the authority of other persons, the structure of society, education, upbringing, and by other influences.

But even though the destiny of these choices is not all-encompassing, it is all-pervasive. As we become reflectively self-conscious, we can choose how to respond to these influences and limitations, how to view this environment of limitations, and to what extent we can use its framework as a ladder on which we ascend to important goals. And in this process we may discover that the limitations themselves extend the scope of our choice, because those limitations exist only by providing an endless set of options which increase the scope of our decisions.

Without the provocation of limits, there could be no opportunity to choose, and therefore no freedom, so that the truth of freedom is necessity, and the necessity of freedom is truth.

I seem to have no legitimate claim against my constraints, since I have barely begun to take advantage of the slack which those limitations provide. Therefore it is my destiny to decide.

But for all we know with science at our disposal, maybe our decisions make no appreciable difference.

Many choices can be trivial in the sense that none of the alternatives seem likely to produce any consequentially different effect as over against other choices. An orange or grapefruit for breakfast, a symphony or an opera, paddleball or tennis. But some choices can make enormous consequential differences, such as in the choice of life vocation, a spouse, or some medical treatment or surgery. And sometimes these major choices are themselves conditioned by previous decisions that seem comparatively trivial. If I had not decided to go to military school, I might not have become acquainted with Austin, which has been my home for over 30 years. So we can never be sure about the consequences of even the options that seem trivial and indifferent when we confront them.

But the claim that one's choices make no significant difference is descriptively false, and is itself a choice that generates incalculable consequences drastically different from those that would conceivably follow from choosing to believe that one's options are in fact very important.

A life guided by rationally directed choice will be very different from one governed by the passive indifference generated by assuming no choice ever makes any difference. Hence, the indifference view is self-contradictory by being an exception to its own claim.

Adapted from Reconstruction of the Christian Revelation Claim, by Stuart Hackett

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Comfortable Deceptions

What people hate is not being deceived, but the bad hostile consequences of certain kinds of deception.

In a sense they want the truth. They want the agreeable life-preserving consequences of truth. But they are indifferent to pure knowledge, which has no immediate consequences. They are even hostile to possibly damaging and destructive truths.


Friedrich Nietzsche
"On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense"
(a fragment published posthumously)
1873

Nature Gone Wild

She threw away the key. And woe to the calamitous curiosity which might peer just once through a crack in the chamber of consciousness and look down, and sense that humanity rests upon the merciless, the greedy, the insatiable, the murderous, in the indifference of its ignorance---hanging in dreams on the back of a tiger.

In view of all this, where in the world does the urge for truth come from?

Friedrich Nietzsche
"On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense"
(a fragment published posthumously) 1873

The Tadpole Channel

The constant fluttering around the single flame of vanity is so much the rule and the law that almost nothing is as incomprehensible than how an honest and pure urge for truth could make an appearance among human beings.

They are deeply immersed in illusions and dream images. Their eye glides only over the surface of things and sees "forms". Nowhere does their feeling lead into truth, but contents itself with the reception of stimuli, playing, as it were, blindman's bluff on the backs of things.

Friedrich Nietzsche
"On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense"
(a fragment published posthumously) 1873

Bonfire of the Evanescent

That arrogance which goes with knowledge and feeling, which shrouds the eyes and senses in a blinding fog, therefore deceives humanity about the value of existence by containing the most flattering evaluation of knowledge itself. Its most universal effect is deception.

Friedrich Nietzsche
"On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense"
(a fragment published postumously) 1873

A 1-Minute Intellectual History

How miserable, now shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it didn't exist. And when it's done for again, nothing will have happened.

Because this intellect has no further goal that would lead beyond human life.

It's human. And only its owner and producer gives it such importance, as if the world pivoted around it.

Friedrich Nietzsche
"On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense"
(A fragment published posthumously)
1873

Retroactive Indicative

In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge.

That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of world history.

Yet only a minute.

After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.


Friedrich Nietzsche
"On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense", 1873, posthumously

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Few and the Many

The hope of society is that with the preservation of so many blanks one may also protect a few in whom humanity culminates. Otherwise it makes no sense at all to preserve so many wretched human beings.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Notes, 1873, VI, 336 f.

Hoisted by a Petard

I did try to establish a heresy of my own. And when I had put the last touches on it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy.

G. K. Chesterton
Orthodoxy, 1959

Beautiful Loser

"This beautiful world history is a chaotic pile of garbage."

Friedrich Nietzsche
Notes, 1873

Alternative Religion

"Deification of success is truly commensurate with human meanness."

Friedrich Nietzsche
Notes, 1873

Many Counselors

"In the natural order of things, there are always several geniuses who spur each other to action."

Friedrich Nietzsche
"Homer's Contest", 1872

Monday, June 12, 2006

Personalism from a Virtue

"Every great virtue kindles a new greatness."

Friedrich Nietzsche
"Homer's Contest", 1872

Retro Jealousy

"Even a dead man can still spur a live one to consuming jealousy."

Friedrich Nietzsche
"Homer's Contest", 1872

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

You Owe! You Ought! You Must!

"What the philosophers call character is an incurable disease. An imperative ethics is one that deals with the symptoms of the disease, having the faith while it fights them that it is getting rid of the real origin, the basic evil."

-Friedrich Nietzsche
"On Ethics", 1868

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Pleasure and Inquiry

Faith does not offer the least support for a proof of objective truth. Here the ways of humans part. If you want to work for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe. If you want to be a devotee of truth, then inquire.

-Friedrich Nietzsche
In a letter to his sister
Bonn, 1865

In A Letter To My Sister

"As for your principle that truth is always on the side of the more difficult, I partly agree.

But it's hard to believe that 2 times 2 is not 4. Does that make it true?

Is it really so difficult to just accept everything you've been brought up on, and what really comforts and elevates humanity?

Is that more difficult than to strike new paths, fighting the habitual, experiencing the insecurity of independence and the frequent wavering of one's feelings and even one's conscience, proceeding often without any consolation, but always with the eternal goal of the good, the true, and the beautiful?

After all, do we have to have a view of God and the world that makes us feel the most comfortable? Do we seek rest, peace,and pleasure in our inquiries?

No. Only truth. Even if it's the most repulsive and ugly truth."

Friedrich Nietzsche
In a letter to his sister
Bonn, 1865

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Nominally Yours

1280-1349

William of Ockham advocated nominalism. It's a variety of conceptualism known as terminism:


A universal is an intention of the mind. And the objects of science are statements, not things. Only the term has universality. Knowledge of things must be intuitive, and in understanding things you must not use more concepts than necessary. This is Ockham's Razor, which cuts off superfluous things. Also, the limitations of human reason implies that the principles of morality cannot be proven to be necessary. Both are matters of faith. (See his Commentary on the Books of Sentences)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Survival System

To have an sensible world-view through which I can act, predict and communicate to live even the most mundane life, I have to look at the world as somewhat stable and regular, with regular and predictable connections between different situations, And as a perceiver and communicator I have to be able to distinguish between different things in shared experience, to identify those items, and to generally refer to them and describing them.

Any perceptual judgment is inside this system and assumes it. In saying 'This is a table', I am implicitly claiming that here in my perceptual environment is a spatio-temoral continuant, with all that that implies, and that I have perceptual access to it.

I am explicitly claiming that this object is to be classified according to the everyday procedures for sorting objects based on my interest. And this would be impossible without assuming the system.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Verification

The truth-value of any statement depends on verifying or falsifying background beliefs of some kind. And yes, it is also true of the previous statement as well as the present one.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Usual Self-Contradiction

"Truth isn't merely truth with respect to some standpoint. Trying to explain truth-from-a-standpoint itself involves the notion of objective truth beyond all standpoints."

Alvin Plantinga

Friday, May 05, 2006

Ideas

The nature of ideas is perhaps the central problem of philosophy.

Josiah Royce

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Sides of Understanding

"Anyone who knows only their own side of the case doesn't know much about it."

John Stuart Mill

Friday, April 28, 2006

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

What most people want to know
is usually none of their business.

Absent-Mundaneness

It's easier to fight for principles
than to live up to them.

Manifest Clarity

The clearer you are
about what you want,
the more power you have.

Gradualism Revisited

Practices zealously pursued
become habits.

One of these days...

One of these days
is none of these days.

Excellence

Take the time to do things right,
or you'll end up wasting time
doing it over.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

No question is so difficult as that to which the answer is obvious.

Ascendancy

Living well is the best revenge.

Question Of Importance

The important thing is
to keep asking questions.

Existential Conscription

Life is a lease
imposed on the occupant
without previous notice
of the conditions
in the contract.

Obverse Contrapositive

Innocence itself sometimes needs a mask.

I Am Waiting

They also work who only sit and wait.

It's Just Luck

The harder you work,
the luckier you get.

Crank It Up

Every emancipator
serves their apprenticeship
as a crank.

Evolution of Life

Life is a hereditary disease.

One Way Only

Life is a one-way street.
And we're not coming back.

Time for Love

You love what you find time to do.

Excellence

Everything well done,
or nothing attempted.

God's Number

What people usually ask God for
is that two and two not make four.

Sacrificial Wheel-Spinning

People will sacrifice themselves for government, for religion, and even for God, as long as these remain their creation, their idea, and are not taken too personally.

Who Am I

When you're alone
in your bedroom
with the door closed,
that's who you are.

--Billy Graham

Get Rid Of It

Life, like the airlines,
charges for excess baggage.

Optimization

What is the best
use of your time
right now?

Journey's End

In the long run,
whoever suffers,
conquers.

Inhaling the Edge

Frustrations and denials which seem cruel and unfair are often important equipment for life.

True Excellence

The mediocre are always at their best.

Passion Play

Anyone in passion
rides a mad horse.

Chilly Reception

In the north, the need to guard against winter already makes people more thoughtful.

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

Most people's absence
is good company.

Peace

Those who strike first admit their ideas are weak.

Determined To Persevere

Keep on, regardless.

Run Away! Run Away!

The best way to escape problems is to solve them.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Precarious Life

In prosperity, life is only a sketch. And when misfortune comes, the wet sponge blots out the drawing with a touch.

--Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.)

Politics

Politics has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.

--Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, 1907

Where are the future Time Travelers Now?

"... but nature seems uncooperative ... For a discussion of the apparent impossibility of time machines in general relativity, see "Singularities and Causality Violation," by Frank J. Tipler in Annals of Physics, Vol. 108, pp. 1-36, 1977. Tipler is open-minded; in 1974 he had argued
the other side of the case."

--Eric Drexler, Engines of Creation

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Chaos in Order's Experience



The earliest records of humanity are very incomplete. The evolution of ideas was spasmodic. There was no steady progress. Ideas arose as situations demanded them. Only later reflection began to weave them into intricate systems of ideas.


It's the same today, since most minds do not build, much less seek, complete structures. Moreover, the life of the mind is episodic, uneven, unsystematic, and unpredictable.

Adapted from Albert Avey, Handbook in the History of Philosophy.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Self-Referential Analysis

A self-referentially inconsistent statement undercuts itself. It denies or cannot explain something that's required for that statement itself to make sense and be true.

Also, a self-referentially inconsistent statement itself in its own subject matter. Hence, it refers to itself. But a self-referentially inconsistent statement can't explain or justify itself, just as universal skepticism puts itself into the same doubt in which it puts other kinds of knowledge.

In a similar way, anyone who says that something can both be and not be thereby shows the impossibility of their own view.

They cannot say anything, because on their own view words can have no significance.

Moroever, assuming that the same thing can both be and not be, the contradictory of that assumption can be used with equal propriety.

Thus, whatever might be designated as A can be designated as non-A.

“Whatever might be designated as A can be designated as non-A” implies that words have no definite meanings, or even the minimum condition for definite meaning.

In asserting that ‘whatever might be designated as A can be designated as non-A’, one must say something with a meaning that is not completely indeterminate.

In asserting that ‘whatever might be designated as A can be designated as non-A’, one makes use of what one explicitly denies.

To assert that ‘whatever might be designated as A can be designated as non-A’, is to listen to reason while one disowns it.

Through Difficulties To Honor

One of the greatest truths is that life is difficult.

But to know that life is difficult is to thereby transcend its difficulty.

Once we accept the fact that life is difficult, its difficulty doesn't matter any more.

There's no reason to believe that life should be easy.

Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them?

Summary of M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Two Of Us

"I would also like to thank many of my teachers and collegues. Principal among them is my wife, Lily.

She has been so giving that it is hardly possible to distinguish her wisdom as a spouse, parent, psychotherapist, and person from my own."

M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Sig's Illusion

"I do not believe there are any single easy answers. I believe that brief forms of psychotherapy may be helpful and are not to be decried, but the help they provide is inevitably superficial."

M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

SpiritMind

"I make no distinction between the mind and the spirit, and therefore no distinction between the process of achieving spiritual growth and achieving mental growth. They are one and the same."

M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Specifics 3.18

Reflecting is trying to understand an object within the system that causes that object. It's being aware of something you must have to be able to fit reasons into systems and carry them around in your mind. But that object itself is something different from systems and minds.

Grasping a connection between this super-rational object and those systems and minds is a process.

First get clear on the problem.

Undefined mental bridges connect to islands lost in the fog.

Reflecting is trying to solve a problem. It's trying to get a line from the coast to something helpless at sea through a shifting and uncertain light.

Self-Repairing Metasystems 3.21.1

Reflection is always trying to solve a problem. To solve the problem, you have to know what the problem really is. But to know what the problem is, you have to know what questioning is. A question is a system of ideas that is trying to fix a problem in its own structure.

Questioning clarifies the problem to figure out how to solve it. Once the system of ideas is as complete as we can make it, we can construct theories. The more complete the system, the more the solution is better, easier, and faster. Wording the question well is part of the process of answering it. Very few can or do truly think. Many minds wander from the subject in hopeless reverie or they just get bored. They can't think about ideas. They may be tired or distracted or just not interested. Or they may be over-emotional. They might be insane, or just plain wierd. These things we pass by. They distort and disrupt by breaking in from the outside.

They have an importance, and some thinking is at the mercy of those factors. But thinking can can never surrender itself completely to the control of the subject-matter and it can be objectively logical, even though it can be influenced by instincts, desires, and feelings. If that were not the case, one could not know that fact, much less state it.

If all thinking is governed by non-logical factors, then that statement itself is also governed by those non-logical factors, and that statement has no more claim on our acceptance than any other non-logical factor. If we can't solve a problem, it's because of a lack of knowledge and-or creativity or the will to inquire.

3.21.18 ~ Solution Formulas

Can any rules teach the formula for recognizing which quality of an object is the most connected to it? The only prior advice that can be given to someone embarking onlife with a certain purpose is: Among the circumstances you encounter, pick out the *right* circumstances for your purpose. Millions stare at something before a brighter mind thinks of the concept. Genius sees the right things when opening one's eyes to the world. Fools have the same purposes as geniuses, but get their attention tangled up in the superfluous.

3.22.1 ~ The Reflective Process

Relection is an imperfect system of ideas developing toward self-completion. A challenge to the system by something demanding inclusion starts the process. This challenge added to theoretical, practical, and other needs causes the system to begin incorporating the foreign object within itself. First, it makes the issue to be settled as definite as the case admits, and makes explicit the resources already assumed which imply things about the problem. Second, if those resources are not sufficient, one broadens the base from which implication might emerge, by reading, consulting, and observing. Third, one theorizes.

3.22.27 ~ The Problem of Invention

The problem of invention is how a partially realized goal gets what it needs to extend itself or complete itself in some sense. How does a goal conquer the waves of irrelevant impluse and association and reclaim a further domain of the sea? Invention is purpose assuming authority over ideas. Implications from it are no accident. There is thought in the goal itself. The purpose takes what it needs from what is given, and discards the rest. And it doesn't just select from passively received matter. The purpose makes the matter an object of thought. The spirit of logic makes distinctions in the unformed matter, and the spirit of beauty supplies the goals and the means of reaching them. The tendency toward a completed unity is the source of all thought. But what are the devices the fragments already in the mind use to extend and complete themselves?

3.23.1 ~ A New Thought

Reflection begins with a collision between a system or order already in the mind, and some fragment that ought to be included in this system, but remains outside it. A detective begins to reflect on someone's death because there is a conflict between the fact of the person's death and something already in the mind. The detective orders their experience on the principle that events have causes. This event challenges inclusion in that order. The detective makes it fit by first learning the details of the problem by reflecting and observing. Observation is guided by what experience has taught about which details are relevant.Consequently, the detective pays more attention to bruises apparently made by some blunt instrument.The details are not obtained by focusing on a single point. The basis of a new thought must be broad. If the question was merely who might have used the blunt instrument, their would be an indefinitely large number of answers. The question is who must have done this in view of unemptied pockets, signs of a struggle, the butler's loyalty, and perhaps a hundred other things---all relevant details. A successful conclusion from a single factor alone would be an accident. The conclusion come from all of them taken together.The problem is to fit a detached fact into the entire surrounding system.

3.27.x

Two minds think about the same problem with the same data. One catches the essential key to solution and the other does not. Why? Because one is more intelligent than the other? Some perverse cleverness or fertility that goes off in dazzling disregard of fact? No. Thought controlled by the necessities of the case. Random and heterogeneous analogies cause thought to drift through various associations. The less random and heterogenous they are, the more necessary they become.The universal connection discovered should be the right one. Newton, in contemplating planets and apples, must light on the concept of falling as leading to the force he seeks. Darwin must select from people and racehorses the feature that is essential to improvement of the type. The suggestion of an undiscovered star must come to Leverrier. Shakespeare must be carried, with or without analogies, to the last speech of Othello. All of these things are explainable in only one way. The ideal order which their thinking tries to realize has produced something new in them.The issue begins to form in their minds, parts or aspects are connected, hidden affinities come to light, not because they wanted it, but because they went beyond more people in recognizing a necessity that is within us and also beyond us.The ability to use analogies to pass quickly from one topic to another is an expression of logic itself. The eye that can trace the lines of necessity and single out the relevant from the more common irrelevant associations is guided by the invisible purpose of ideal rationality. The influence of ideal rationality is felt stronger in some minds rather than others. Ideal rationality organizes the chaos of experience into fixed categories. In inquiring minds these categories form themselves more readily and in closer alignment, as logic gains control and prepares to create a new synthesis.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

If You Can't Beat'em, Undermine'm

Not everyone in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had the capacity to defeat the church in war or even in politics. An increasinly important alternative strategy now emerged---attacking the ideas on which the church was based.

For an increasingly numerous and articulate group within Western culture, the best way to reduce the excessive influence of the church was to undermine the credibility of its teachings. While some saw the attraction of atheism as lying in what it proposed, most saw its appeal in its ability to weaken, perhaps even destroy, the institution of the church.

Paradoxically, the historical origins of modern atheism lie primarily in an extended criticism of the power and status of the church, rather than any asserted attractions of a godless world.

Adapted from Alister McGrath, The Twilight of Atheism, p. 11.

Classical Greek Atheism

"Yet atheism failed to have the impact on the late classical world that some feared and others secretly longed for. Roman writers such as Lucretius (c. 94-c. 50 B.C.) argued that religion merely evoked terror---as, for example, in the case of Agamemnon, whose fear of the goddess Artemis led him needlessly to sacrifice his only daughter. Atheism, Lucretius declared, eliminates such terror and allows us to focus on the natural forces and processes at work around us.

These ideas had relatively little impact on their own era. They would, however, find a new and highly receptive audience centuries later. Perhaps the world was not yet ready for the announcement of the death of the gods.

That day would come---with a vengeance."

Alister McGrath
The Twilight of Atheism

Prior Mind Structures

Probing the underlying structures of our own reasoning, assumptions, values, and beliefs is no different from anything else we can think about.

This is not just standard procedure in many other areas of thought. It is considered matter-of-factly necessary in relation to any area in which truth-claims must be adjudicated because of the implications of the possibility of error.

Design and verification issues always come up when something goes wrong.

The design and structure of the World Trade Center towers have been the subject of extremely focused, detailed, and complex analysis since 9-11, including retracing the reasoning for various design and construction decisions in that project.

So why then is straightforward analysis claimed to be unable to arrive at a reliably true position concerning God or even operational values common to believers and atheists?

More importantly, why is the unknowability claim considered true?

And the issue of God is by no means the only area that can be questioned in this way, as we shall see.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Finding Water

Religion uses a divining rod.

Philosophy uses a pick and shovel.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Law Spheres

Every part and aspect of nature can be isolated as a subsystem
governed by laws which are describable as functions of time.

Joseph Weizenbaum
Computer Power and Human Reason

Appearance & Reality

Ideas which at first seem obvious and simple are sometimes buoys marking out stormy channels in deep intellectual seas.

(1984)

Reaching

Intense vitality, joy in living, vigor of creative writing bring to bear on their owners immense happiness and acute suffering. The reaching upward and outward of the mind is at the same time the keenest joy and the fiercest pain.


Maisle Ward (1889-1975)
Quoted in The Instructed Heart, by Fulton J. Sheen

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Blind Alley

For these people of today I do not want to be light, or to be called light. These I want to blind. Lightning of my wisdom! Put out their eyes! They arouse mistrust against great things, these subtle counterfeiters and actors---until finally they are false before themselves, squinters, worm-eaten decay, cloaked with strong words, with display-virtues.

Nietzsche
The Portable Nietzsche, p. 401

Ivory Ignorance

Even first-rate philosophers are often surprisingly ignorant of the relevant philosophical literature.

William Wainwright
Philosophy of Religion

Destiny's Darling

One meets one's destiny often in the road one takes to avoid it.

Less Is More

Very few of us can own things without being corrupted by them, gaining thereby a false sense of security. Very few of us can resist being distracted by things. We need to choose the simple and lasting instead of the new and individual. . . . This means reducing instead of adding, the reversal of our habitual thinking.

Anni Albers

Death

Death is nature's way of saying "Howdy!".

Cult

"Cult" just means not enough people to make a minority.

Robert Altman
The Observer, 1981

I Have The Touch

In prosperity, human life is only a sketch. And when misfortune comes, the wet sponge blots out the drawing with a touch.

Aeschylus

Rest

Everywhere I have sought rest and did not find it except by sitting alone in a nook with a little book.

Thomas a Kempis

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Foundations of Modern Atheism

Belief in God was so embedded in Western European culture that it was itself unaffected by the demands for systemic change brought about by the Protestant Reformation.

Protestantism developed the foundation for the emergence of atheism several centuries later.

Yet the seeds of a renewed interest in atheism had already been sown.

The power of the corrupt, oppressive, and backward church had legitimized the older order which could not cope with the challenges of a new age.

So how could the church now liberate from a bondage that it had perpetuated and legitimized?

-rewrite of Alister McGrath, The Twilight of Modern Atheism, Chapter 1, page 10.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Spare Us The Monuments

"If I have done any noble action, that is a sufficient memorial. If I have done nothing noble, all the statues in the world will not preserve my memory."

Agesilaus
King of Sparta

What God Cannot Do

"This only is denied to God: the power to undo the past."

-Agathon

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hating Proof on Principle

"I'm amused to see you so vigorously defending your own style of nonsense against somebody else's style. All these emperors without clothes, you all have your turfs to defend. This boy comes in and offers to prove God's existence and you . . . obviously wish him dead, gone, out of the church. To you he's a heretic."

John Updike
Roger's Version

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Coroner of the Death of Belief in God

"The primary emphasis of Nietzsche's mature writings is that 'Belief in the Christian God has become unbelievable'---a statement that represents a cultural observation rather than a philosophical argument. 'What is now decisive against Christianity is our taste, no longer our reasons.' "

Western culture has not ceased to believe in God on account of unassailable philosophical reasons, but because of its shifted mood."

-Alister McGrath
The Twilight of Atheism

The Coroner of the Death of God

Nietzsche did not form a project to kill God. He found him dead in the soul of his contemporaries.

-Albert Camus

Spring Cleaning

She: Do you believe in god?

He: Yes.

She: Why?

He: Well i just think there has to be a god.

She: Why?

He: Well i just don't think it could all just have happened.

She: But my question is why you think those things. I get the point that you believe them. My question is why, not whether.

Chain Drive

Justaposing views and their respective cases is an engine of clarity.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Not A Match

Never let someone be your priority
while allowing yourself to be their option

Saturday, February 04, 2006

In The Moment

It's not what you did. It's what you do. Now.

-Michael, in "La Femme Nikita"

Friday, January 27, 2006

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Secret Agent

WIFE: See you at dinner, Johnny. We're very informal.

JOHN DRAKE: Until dinner, then.
[JOHN LEAVES]

HUSBAND: I would have thought you'd learned your lesson with Andrews.

WIFE: Of course, darling. Didn't you?