Sunday, November 07, 2010

Assumption Thumping

All reasoned objections to belief in God ultimately depend on unargued God-level assumptions which the objectors must appeal to for the same universal and ultimate authority over their thinking that those objections were supposed to challenge in the idea of God.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Truth and Consequences

The scholarly method of proceeding is based simply upon a profound belief in the pervasiveness of ideas. What is today a matter of academic speculation begins tomorrow to move armies and pull down empires.

J. Gresham Machen

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Devil's Advocate

"Everything I've told you is either an extraordinarily elaborate lie---or the very simple truth."

Arkady Renko
Gorky Park

Monday, October 18, 2010

Divine Simplicity

Richard Dawkins confuses the mind itself with a mind’s thoughts. A mind’s thoughts can be complex, but a mind’s thoughts are not the mind itself, because a mind can stop thinking its complex thoughts and contemplate something else instead.

adapted from William Craig
reasonablefaith.com, Q&A Question #1

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Lesson For Science

Any argument for or against belief in God, already assumes a system of God-level criterial statements that have the ability---and the authority---to decide the issue.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Invasion of the God Object

How many similarities with God does an object of thought have to have before I can no longer tell the difference between that object and God?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Background Music, Here and Yonder

The farther thought progresses, the more its system reveals a universal system that lies beyond.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Concrete Necessity and Human Insight

Of course we have not proved our view of the goal of thought. There can be no proof, or even a question about proof, if the nature of proof itself is already in question. All we can say is: Here is the standard and ideal that we actually use in thinking.

When we understand, it's always through a system. As our understanding grows more complete, it's always through a system of greater unity.

If the ideal seems unconvincing and artificial, consider its alternatives. Do they formulate better or worse what we mean by understanding? When we read a famous book called Ethics Geometically Demonstrated, most of us feel we are getting insight.


In the end this illumination is merely following associations.


But that explanation of understanding cannot itself be verified.

If we deny all degrees to necessity, and confine it to a set of the barest abstractions, not much insight remains. The genuineness of insight does not depend on ensuing changes in practice. Perhaps in a poem, a piece of music, or some religious experience an insight is gained that one hesitates to call understanding, because understanding has become so identified as something abstractly intellectual. But such insight is understanding, unique, limited in degree, but still with rights of its own. And to reject it as understanding on the ground of its concreteness is absurd.

If I accept the ideal of concrete necessity, these varying insights are legitimized, ordered, and appraised. If I accept any other, some insights must be excluded.

32.24

The Goal of Reflection

From it's beginning in perception, thought more or less unknowingly seeks a potential goal in every idea, the unified system implicitly at work at every stage of reflection, exercising its steady influence against irrelevant excursions and developing its fragmentary knowledge by the rules of an ideal system. The farther thought progresses, the more clearly does its system reveal the character of a system that lies beyond it.

Our study of reflection began with examples of the kind of unified system that governs reflection in ordinary thought. They were only provisional. Because the impulse of thought is toward self-revision, those examples become superseded by more complete systems. What is at the end of this process of continual self-revision is unknown, nor can we ever know what it is until we have attained it. But we can see the direction in which we must move if we want to attain it.

Thought tries to supersede all partial systems by a more developed overall system that will absorb and extend its earlier gains, and it can rest only when this process cannot be continued further. And thought is the potentiality of the object it seeks to know. Therefore, what fulfills the theoretic impulse must also bring about the most complete and immediate experience of the real.

32.23

Transcendence Realizes Immanence

The universe of existing things is a system in which all things are related internally. Let a and x be any two things in the universe. They are then related to each other causally. But if they are related to each other causally, then they are related to each other intrinsically. And if they are related intrinsically, then they are also related to each other necessarily in the sense that they causally act as they do in virtue of their nature or character, and that to deny such activity would entail denying them to be what they are. And to have this kind of relation to all other things is what being related to them internally means.

The immanent goal of thought is relevant to the experienced nature of things. To the best of our knowledge the immanent and transcendent goals coincide. The aim of thought from its very beginning is understanding. To understand anything means to apprehend it in a system that renders it necessary. The ideal of complete understanding would be achieved only when this system that rendered it necessary was not a system that itself was fragmentary and theorefore contingent, but one that was all-inclusive and so organized internally that every part was linked to every other by intelligible necessity.

But was this more than an ideal? Was there any reason to suppose that by its attainment thought would be nearer to its second end, the apprehension of things as they are? Such an ideal is remote from the world of actual experience, where we are met at every turn by seaming contingency and unintelligibility. At least it is thus remote at the first glance, and perhaps also at the second and third. But in the very nature of terms in relation, and in the nature of causality, there is ground for believing that such contingency is apparent only. In what we take as the real world, we can see the outlines of a necessary structure that is the counterpart of thought's ideal. There is nothing to stay our conclusion that with approximation to its immanent goal, the achievement of systematic necessity, thought is also approximating its transcendent goal, the apprehension of the real.

Consequently, I have reached the goal of my inquiry. I have sketched the ideal of thought, and shown that it is applicable to the real.

The idea of a completely coherent system is still obscure.
There are two kinds of obscurity. One is the obscurity that comes from relaxing logical tension in the face of ultimate difficulty, of letting all holds go, surrendering to wishful thinking, and plunging blindly into the mist. As one nears so high a conclusion, and one so much to be desired as the intelligibility of the world, the tendency to relapse into a murky mysticism is strong. But there has been no compromise with this kind of thing.

But there is a kind of vagueness whose condemnation, on such an issue, would be far less reasonable. If thought is the pursuit of a goal whose character can be realized only as the pursuit advances, a full and clear account of that goal must in the nature of the situation be impossible at any point along the journey. An account that was really adequate would not now be intelligible. An account that was quite simple, neat and plain could only be suspicious. The tale we have told of the concrete universal, and concrete necessity, and a system of parts such that none can be or be known without the others, cannot be rendered entirely clear from a logic of mosaics.

32.22

Conclusion

Everything is causally connected with everything else, directly or indirectly. Being causally connected involves being connected by the relation of logical necessity. Therefore, everything that exists is related internally to everything else, so that without this relation it would not be what it is.

Causality involves intelligible necessity in every case of inference. But can we say the same of causality generally? The principle can be extended to other mental processes, even though the presence of necessity is less discernible. But is there any evidence of intelligible connection among causal processes in physical nature?

There is nothing in causality but regularity of sequence or functional dependence. Between cause and effect there is some kind of intrinsic connection, and this is confirmed by the fact that ordinary inductive procedure involves an argument which without this intrinsic connection would be invalid.

This intrinsic connection is necessary, because when anything is said to have a consequent or a consequence because of its special nature, necessity is part of our meaning, and what follows can't be denied without self-contradiction. This is not to say that we can see why a specific hammer-stroke drives a particular nail. And without some core principle for this, the principle on which all practice is conducted and on which all causal argument is based, would be illusory.

32.21

Causality, Intrinsic Connection, and Necessity

So the view which denies any intrinsic connection to causality and reduces it to conjunction is false. There must be some intrinsic connection. And the insight that between cause and effect there is an intrinsic connection shows that it's also a necessary connection.

If the meaning of 'same cause, same effect', which is the principle of all inductive causal argument, is taken as expressing conjunction only, no evidence or argument for it are possible. And if it's accepted anyway, it's because we have an insight that is felt to justify it.

Think of a state of affairs in which there is causation but no uniformity. Everything now has a cause, but the causes vary. Everything produces effects, but the effects vary. The blow of the hammer sinks the nail today, but tomorrow under the same conditions, it does not, and produces instead the Melody in F or a case of measles in Kiev. We can talk that way, but we can't think that way, because to say this implies that when a produces x, the nature of had nothing to do with the result. Taht result could equally have appeared if nothing resembling a had been on the scene. Therefore, to say that anything may produce anything is to render the word "produce" meaningless. If a, because of its nature, had no constraining influence, there is no reason to say it produced anything. It is a thing of special character. This character makes it what it is. And we would be talking idly if we said that it produced something when this character was not engaged in any way.

To assert a causal connection between a and x implies that a acts as it does because it is what it is. For the causal relation which connects a with x connects a cause of the nature a with an effect of the nature x, and therefore must hold between any and any x.
When is said to produce x because of its nature as a, the connection referred to is not only an intrinsic relation but a necessary relation. First, reflection shows that necessity is part of our meaning when we call such relations intrinsic. If we lay down a yellow card, then to the right of it an orange card, and to the right of that a red one, they have spatial relations to each other, but those relations are not prima facie intrinsic, because as far as we can see there is nothing about a card of one color as such to demand space relations to cards of other colors.

Furthermore, regarded as mere color, orange comes between red and yellow. And that relation is intrinsic in the present sense, since it is determined by the natures of the three colors. But it's also necessary. Yellow, orange, and red being what they are, orange must come between the other two, and could not possibly fall elsewhere. And this is the case with all relation that turn on the content or character of the terms.

Necessity is not seen with equal purity or clearness in all such cases, but whenever a relation depends on a's being what it is, we see that the relation is necessary whether we can isolate the nexus or not. For example, whether the tendency to gratitude follows from the nature of modesty we may not be sure, but if we are, we are certain that modesty must carry with it this tendency. In fact, to say that something follows from the nature of a, but not necessarily, is meaningless.

And this is necessity in the logical sense. To say that a produces x in virtue of being a, and yet that, given ax might not follow, is inconsistent with the laws of identity and contradiction. Of course if a were a cluster of qualities abstracted from their relations, and its modes of causal behavior were another set of qualities conjoined with the former externally, then one could deny the externally conjoined qualities and retain the relationally abstracted qualities consistently.

But when we say a causes x, we do not mean that kind of conjunction. We mean an intrinsic relation, that is, a relation in which a's behavior is the outgrowth or expression of a's nature. And to assert that a's behavior, could be different while a was the same, would be to assert that something both did and did not come from the nature of a, which is self-contradictory.

That statement would also conflict with the law of identity. It implies that a thing may remain itself when you have taken away from it everything which it is such as to be and do. To strip it of these things would be to strip it of what makes it what it is, that is, to say that it is other than it is.

You're confusing two different statements:
A has some causal property because it has it.
and
A must have some causal property because nothing which did not have it could be A.
The first statement is a truism, but the second one is not obviously true, and can even be frequently false.
You're either saying the first statement, which is trivial, or the second statement, which begs the question.
I'm not making the first statement because I hold that in 'A causes B' I do not assert merely that B accompanies A, but that it does so because of A's nature.

And I'm not making the second statement. Even if I were, no begging of the question would be involed.

"A has some causal property because nothing which did not have it could be A"

asserts a material implication:

"A has some causal property because nothing which did not have it could be A"

is equivalent to the assertion that it is not the case that

"A has some causal property"
is true while
"Anything that does not have that property must be other than A"
is false.
But this is not saying merely that A has some property and that X's not having that property entails its not being A. It is saying that A has that property because of its nature as A, so that it entails and is not merely accompanied by, the truth of this second assertion.

But aside from this point, there is no begging the question. To say that A produces something because of its nature as A entails the statement that X's not having that property entails its not bieng A. It would be absurd to deny this.

The statement that anything produces anything because of its nature must be questionbegging.
But in that case it's question-begging to adopt any position on any issue. When we consider what we mean by saying A causes B or has the property of causing B, part of the meaning is that A acts in this way or has this property because of its nature. Therefore, the statement is not question-begging.

32.20

Sequence, Paradox, and Absurdity

If causality means regular sequence, then every unique event must be uncaused. An unexampled biological entity could not be thought to be a miracle, since miracles are supposed to be caused. It would have to be an explanation of chance.

Furthermore, no human action would ever spring from a self or from a motive. There's no intrinsic connection between volition and behaviour, character and conduct, motive and performance. Strictly speaking, no one murders anyone, though in some cases homicide has unhappily and quite inexplicably associated itself with certain elements of a person's constitution.

This association is more unfortunate because, And even though this association is completely irrational, it's also permanent. This view conflicts with our everyday judgments about practical action and accountability And even though all these judgments may be mistaken, the fact that the sequence view would require them to be mistaken is enough to impose a heavy burden of proof.

Note that we used the word 'require'. It was natural to use it, and those who hold the regularity view use it frequently. Yet, if they hold any belief that is said to be required by their theory, it's being required cannot have anything to do with them believing it.

And the sequence explanation of how we came to assume that causality involved more than association has some core issues. The usual explanation is that the regular repetition of and b together produced a habit of conjoining them in thought.

A habit or even a thought of uniform conjunction is clearly different from the thought of necessity. And what is meant by 'produced'? When one says that regular repetition produces a habit, it's not likely that one means only that there is a regular repetition of regular-repetition's-being-followed-by-a-habit.

Moreover, the statement


"We cannot perceive anything more than sequence in the connection of particular events."

Even though the way the body acts on the mind remains obscure, when we resolve to attend to something more closely and 'in consequence' succeed in doing so, we have a sense of 'enforcement' that does not leave us completely blank about the mode of connection. And in some cases of perception we are immediately aware of being causally acted on by some external agency.

Also, the position would guarantee a skepticism that may be unavoidable, but is not to be accepted until necessary.

Between the percept and its cause, there is no intrinsic connection. Since we have no access to nature except through impressions that are presumably produced in us causally, we must depend for knowledge on nature on an argument from the character of the impressions to the character of their source. This argument would be impossible by the kind of causation we are considering.

Also, the memory of our own experiences would be impossible by the above argument. When I recall something that happened yesterday, one of the factors that led to the remembrance was the occurrence of the past event itself. And when we say that this event 'conditioned' this recall, we don't mean that all similar events are followed by such recall, because we have in mind one event happening at a point in past time.

Finally, to say that causality involves nothing but regular sequence conflicts with common sense and science. The ordinary person has it fixed in their head that when they drive a nail with a blow of their hammer, there is an inner connection between these events which is not found in either of them and, say, a stom in the Antilles.

Their view is worthless.
Science from the beginning has had the same obsession. In some works, the uniformity view is insisted on, and some have even said that the name and notion of causality should be dropped by science (Russell, Mysticism and Logic, 180). But in this area scientific thought, even in physics (Stebbing, A Modern Introduction to Logic, 289) cannot succeed in getting rid of it, because behind the scientist's desire to discover the cause of things is their desire to understand, and their intuition that in mastering the cause of something they have to some extent understood it. We don't believe that the only reason why the scientific mind has rejected astrology is that the correlation between positions of the stars and the ups and down of human fortune has been imperfectly made out. We don't believe that when the connection was revealed between tuberculosis and bacilli, physicians would have admitted that it provided no further understanding of the disease, but only a new fact, concomitant though completely external.

The physical scientist finds their ideal in mathematics. And if they continue to refine and purify their statements of abstract connection, it's because in do so they feel themselves approaching not only the precision but also the necessity of mathematical relations. Of course their conviction may have been a delusion from the beginning. But whoever says that assumes the burden of proof. In their daily work and apart from philosophical controversy, no scientist will accept a bare given conjunction as ultimate truth. Thinkers and scientists looked for causes because they want to explain events, and if they had seriously held from the beginning the views of causation which many philosophers hold today, half the inspiration of the scientific search for causes would have been missing and induction would never have been trusted at all. (Bosanquet, The Distinction between Mind and its Objects, 59-60).

32.19

Conjunction and Inductive Argument

Even those who accept the regularity view are compelled, sometimes in the statement of that view itself, to assume that that regularity view itself is false.

Events have causes in the sense of regular and special antecedents.

Do you intend to apply that to the future as well?

Yes.

But you have not experienced the future.

No.

Then you must be using an argument. You're saying that b will continued to follow a in the future because has followed a in the past.

But unless is connected with by something more than mere proximity of place or time, there's no ground for that argument.

Without some other connection, there is no reason for saying that past uniform sequence must be followed by future uniform sequence.


When we've argued from past uniformities to their continuation in the future, our expectations have been verified.

But the uniform sequence of verification of your expectation is just another sequence. It has no special privileges when we're asking why one should argue from any past sequence to future ones.


It's a matter of probability. Two or more events frequently occuring together is more likely to be maintained than broken.


You're either repeating the old assumption whose basis is in question, that the past is a guide to the future, or else it's is false.

If a and b are unconnected, there's no more reason to expect them to continue together than there is to expect an unloaded penny to continue turning up heads because it has just done so ten times in a row.

We 'postulate' the uniformity of nature, namely that the same cause is always followed by the same effect.

But what's the status of that posulate itself?

It can't be an arbitrary assumption, because it comes from experience.

But it's not a conclusion derived from experience, because the argument would be circular. If we did not assume 'same cause, same effect', we wouldn't argue that the same cause in the past would be followed by the same effect.

What part does this assumption play in the argument? It is the principle of the inference, just as the principle of syllogism is the rule involved in any syllogistic reasoning.

Now if the principle of an argument or inference can be without necessity, then the 'inference' to which it applies is not really an inference.

It's not even cogent.

The principle of uniformity not have the necessity of geometric demonstration, since the terms viewed as causes and effects themselves remain vague. But going from past sequences to future ones is itself an argument, and the principle of the argument, like the principle of inferences generally, must be more than a chance proximity of symbols or characters.

Therefore, the connections between causes and effects being used to predict their future sequences are always assumed to be intrinsic.

32.18

Conjunction and Probability

What do we do in ordinary life when we have to calculate the probability of finding a sequence repeated, where the events that are conjoined are not known to be connected in some other way?

Suppose we throw a die and get a six. The chances that six will turn up in a single throw are one in six, or 1/6. Assuming that we know of nothing in the way the die is thrown that will secure one side rather than some other, the chances that a second throw will have the same result is 1/6 x 1/6 or 1/36. The chances of getting three sixes in a row is (1/6) * (1/6) * (1/6), or 1/216. The probability of getting six sixes in a row would be one in almost 50,000, and if we carried the repetitions to ten or more, the figures would become astronomical.

If we found that anyone kept getting sixes regularly, we would begin to get suspicious. We would accept their results perhaps through two or three repetitions, or perhaps a few more. But there would come a time when the hypothesis of mere luck would strain our belief, compared to the theory of some sort of control, that we would only a dupe would continue believing it.

We can't say what the chances are of getting any one result, because we can't set a limit to the number of possible alternatives (Strictly speaking, we can't set such a limit in the other case either. We can't rule out beforehand the possibility that the die would stand on one of its corners and spin there permanently.). But we can say something if one of these results goes on repeating itself to the exclusion of all other results.

If there is nothing in one event that would compel or require another event to follow, then it's more likely that the first event would be followed by by something other than some other third event than by the second event itself. And if, in spite of this, only the second event continues to appear with the first event, it's just as naive to assume they are connected by anything but chance, as it would be to assume the same thing about winning throws of the die.

But that's what the denial of intrinsic relations commits us to. It says that if water continues to put out fires, it's just luck.

But if you believe in merely chance conjunctions, then among the possibilites covered by that view is not only repetition of the first event with varying consequents, but also its repetition with the same result.

It's always the improbable that happens. Watever side of a die comes up, the chances agsint it before it happend were five to one. Yet for all that, it happened. The simultaneous occurrence of the events composing the present universe is only one out of an infinite number of possibilities, and hence was all but infinitely improbably a moment ago. Yet here it is.

In the same way, the repetition of two events toegther a dozen times, or a hundred, or a thousand, is unlikely beforehand, but is still one of the possibilities conceivable under the rule of chance. Therefore, it's absurd to offer it as evidence against the rule of chance.

I don't think there is a reply to this, on it's own grounds. I think there are other ways in which the theory that all succession is chance can be refuted, such as by demonstrating necessity in inference. Out of an infinite number of chance combinations, the known history of the world may present one, and it might be argued that any extension of that history, with any multiplication of its uniformities, could only produce another.

But the argument commits the fallacy of inexhaustive division. The question at issue is how the successions we find are to be interpreted, and the original argument proceeded by offering the alternative of chance or some form of necessity, and then eliminating chance. The alternatives considered in the reply are not these. These are combinations that would be possible only by chance.

You've been so eager to show that your hypothesis of chance will cover the facts that you've forgotten that to the hypothesis under which all your combinations fall, there is a further alternative which may cover the facts equally well. And when we turn from chance to intrinsic connection, it not only covers the facts much better.

For on the chance hypothesis, every successive repetition of a conjunction given in the past is the occurrence of the progressively more improbable, while with intrinsic connection, it's only a confirmation, more impressive at each recurrence, of what the hypothesis predicted. So far, neither theory can exclude its rival. But the chance hypothesis, while consistent with the known arrangement, would accord equally with any other arrangement. The hypothesis of connection accords selectively with the arrangement actually found.

32.17

Causation, Physical Nature, and Regular Sequence

So not only in inference but also in many other mental processes, the causal relation involves necessity.

But what about causation in physical nature? This is the field in wich most cases of causation are considered to occur.

The only relation between physical cause and effect is mere regular conjunction. You can't show that the relation of a hammer to a nail it hits is the same as the relation between statements in the process of inference and other mental processes.

The question

"Why is any physical event followed by any other?

has not been answered. But failure in specific cases does not show that causality is merely regular sequence. Regular sequence is not enough. There must be some intrinsic connection between cause and effect. And this intrinsic connection includes logical necessity.

Mental processes supply genuine cases of causality, and any situation in which the causal relation involves necessity is enough to invalidate an explanation which denies that causality involves necessity.

But we are dealing with causality in physical nature. And even there, the theory is disproved by several criticisms.

32.16

Necessity, Tautology, and the Empirical

The consequent that seems to be entailed by love, or low self-esteem, or the incomplete work of the painter, is not a predicate distinct from the subject and necessitated by it, but part of the subject itself. To feel gratitude when praised by others, for example, is part of the meaning of low self-esteem. The judgment is analytic.

But an analytic judgment is one in which the predicate forms part of the subject concept, part of the subject as thought of.

"A circle is round." 

is analytic, if to think of a circle is to think of a round figure.

"A circle is that plane figure which encloses the largest area with the smallest perimeter."
is not analytic, because even though it's as necessary as the previous statement, the predicate does not have to be a part of the buejct concept. I can think of a circle without thinking of this property of it. To say that a judgment is still analytic when the predicate is part of the subject, not as thought of, but as existent in rerum natura, would make the drawing of the ddistinction impossible in most of our judgments.

The feeling of gratitude is not part of what we mean by low self-esteem. I can think about low self-esteem without any reference to gratitude, and yet see when it is pointed out to me that there is more than an accidental connection between them.

To call such statements necessary is to take them as prior, and to take them as prior is to say that they are not dependent on experience, and to say that all statements about special types of emotion and desire are not dependent on experience is absurd.

But the mark of prior connections is not our ability to conceive them before they are presented in fact, but simply their necessity. And necessary connections are just as truly presented through the given as any other connections.

That whatever is read is extended is learned through experience, although this does not involve saying that like the statement

"Red coals burn."

it's a mere empirical connection.

But necessity holds only among formal characteristics, such as those studied in arithmetic and geometry, not among such qualitative characters as love, hate, and desire.
That's mere superstition. The statements

"What is read is extended."
and

"Pleasure is a good."
are just as prior as

"2 + 2 = 4"

I'm not suggesting that in the instances mentioned about mental causality the factors connected and the connections between them can be isolated as they can in these simpler instances. The causal relation is complex, and the relation of necessity is merely one of its strands.

And when we speak of low self-esteem producing gratitude, those two terms are so vague and complex, that if they were fully analyzed, we would see that we had included something in each which was not intimately connected with the other, and omitted from each something that was connected in that way.

But that only proves that in these cases no necessary nexus has been analyzed out yet. The failure to discern connections has been used too frequently to decide against the conviction that we do have insight into why the result occurs in these cases.

32.15

Necessity and Inference

Inference is of course just one of many mental processes. And the influence of necessity shown in inference can be traced to other mental processes.

Not that it's presence in other processes is equally plain. And I don't expect this anyway. Inference is concerned with necessity in a unique way.

But necessity, no matter what our first impressions are, is a matter of degree. Between a complete demonstration and a mere accidental conjunction it might be present in many degrees. Rigorous inference approximates a complete demonstration, and assocation by mere contiguity is just an accident.

And between demonstration and accidental conjunction there are many processes in which there is more contingency than in inference, but more necessity than in association.

A painter is painting a landscape that is half-completed, and he finds himself moved to put a tree in the foreground. Is that kind of development normally intelligible? Most painters would not say so.

And it's not an example of pure necessity, but clearly falls somewhere in between.

Let's say someone is afraid of dogs. Through psycho-analysis they discover that at an early age they were badly injured by the attack of a dog. It may come to them as a quasi-intuitive insight that it was this that caused the fear. And let's assume they're right. I can't claim how the fear arose is unintelligible to them.

"Why are modest men grateful? Because they think lightly of their own deserts. This implies a syllogism in Barbara.

All who think lightly of their own deserts are grateful,

and

Modest men think lightly of their own deserts." (Joseph, Logic, 306)

Does the major premise

All who think lightly of their own deserts are grateful.

express a causal connection or a logical connection?

It expresses both.

If someone we know has low self-esteem becomes grateful for someone else's esteem, is that as surprising, unpredictable, and unintelligible, as if they had started speaking in a Sumerian language or become violent?

I'm not saying that between thinking lightly of oneself and being grateful there is the same simple abstract connection that one finds in geometry. I can't isolate in human nature the precise reciprocating conditions of gratitude, or formulate the rule in anything better than a statement of tendency.

But tendency is after all not utter darkness. We do have some insight into why the person of low self-esteem should be grateful for the esteem of others.

We can see and to some extent really understand why an insult tends to anger, why love leads to grief if the object of one's love dies or is untrustworthy, why a success should give pleasure, why the anticipation of physical pain should arouse fear. It does seem more reasonable on other than inductive grounds to suppose that if Ann loves Bob that will tend to make her sorry when Bob dies than to suppose that it will make her intensely glad. . . . At any rate anybody who denies altogether the insight for which I am contending will have to hold that it is just as reasonable to think of love as causing intense joy at the death of the person loved, except that this does not happen in fact.

If the regularity view were true, all practical life would be nonsense. All practical life assumes we can do things and are moved by motives and desires.

For example, to say that some actions are motivated by power is more than saying that some actions generally follow a desire for power.

It is saying:

"Some actions are driven by the desire for power."

does not merely follow, but is itself determined by the desire for power.

Causation is not merely regular sequence, but intrinsic connection as well.
(Ewing, Idealism, 176-178, 161-162)

32.14

Denying Necessity Renders Argument Irrational

Unless necessity is a part of inference, no argument will prove anything.

When I reach a conclusion from evidence, I commonly assume I have been moved by the uniqueness of this evidence, that the relevance of the evidence and the cogency of the argument had something to do with my concluding as I did.

But if they have nothing to do with my concluding things, then no conclusions are ever arrived at because the evidence requires them.

And the assumption that I have been moved by reasons is an illusion.

I've been moved only by causes, and between those causes and their effects there is no rational connection.

So the fact that a conclusion is reached at the end of an argument, no matter how necessary each statement may seem because of the statements before it has nothing to do with its validity, since logical factors had no part in the actual causation of the of the conclusion.

But how can you even argue for that view consistently? If you do argue for it, you assume that your own belief and that of those you're trying to convince might be affected by your argument, and that the more reasonable or logically compelling you can make your case, the better your prospects of persuading reasonable minds.

If you were to act consistently with your theory, you would abandon reasoning and never seek to reason with others.

No one is really moved by reasoning to accept a conclusion, are they?

32.13

Necessities Within Content

You're confusing two different kinds of relation. Logical relations are timeless, connecting essences or characters. Causal relations are temporal, and connect events. Hence in reasoning, logic is not the cause of the outcome. Logic is not a series of causes and effects, whether physiological or psychological.

Logic is simply the fact of the consistency of one statement with another. It's the knowledge of these consistencies and inconsistencies which is to some slight extent the cause. Causality links events and the events in the case being considered are first my acceptance of the conclusion, then my apprehension that the premises entail the conclusion, and my acceptance of that conclusion.
It is between these events, or psychical facts, that the causality holds, and it's as meaningless to say that one such event entails another as it is to say the premises cause the conclusion.

An attractive view, for the moment. You're trying to draw a line horizontally through a train of events, and say that above that line are the characters or universals of logic, and below that line are the existences or occurrences of causality.

But that kind of line can't be drawn. Even if it could, causality would have no necessity or meaning. The characters dealt with by logic do enter into the causal process. An event without characters is no event at all.

If what happens is nothing, then nothing happens.

When a hammer drives a nail, the cause in part is the motion of a certain mass at a certain velocity. These characters are an integral part of the cause. It's because of their presence that this effect rather than some other is produced, and no statement of what caused the effect could disregard them.

In the same way, the psychical event called the occurrence of a judgment in a mind is not a naked act or event. It's always a presentation of this rather than that.

And the character of this content enters vitally into the causation.

Now if the contents or characters of the events enter into the process, we can't say that the relations between these characters are irrelevant to it. Maybe no one would deny that there is a fact such as association by similarity. And however difficult it may be to construe the mechanism at work, it would be futile to deny that the similarity of content sometimes has something with the appearance of an associate. That relations within the content play a part in causation is even clearer when the relation is logical necessity.

In explicit inference we have a process in which we can directly see not only that one event succeeds another, but in large measure why one event succeeds another. It would be absurd if after the presence in our minds of the judgments, 'the squire was the abbe's first penitent' and 'that first penitent was a murderer', and the conclusion, 'the squire is a murderer', that we said we didn't have the slightest notion of why this conclusion emerged rather than a judgment about Florida grapefruit.

The fact that this was the logical conclusion to draw is relevant to its appearance as an event. And this does not commit us to say that necessary relations, connecting the content now before us with something else that is not before us, have something to do with the development of this content in one direction rather than another, that necessities within the subject-matter lay under some degree of compulsion the temporal path of thought. You may not accept the metaphysical theory I offered earlier to explain this compulsion, but the compulsion is an undeniable fact.

32.12

Logical Necessity in Inferential Causality

Consider any instance of reasoning, for example the case of the abbe and the squire. "Ladies", says the abbe, "do you know that my first penitent was a murderer?" "Ladies,", says the squire, entering shortly afterward, "do you know that I was the abbe's first penitent?"

Of course a conclusion was produced in the ladies' minds, and the question is about the nature of the causation that produced it. Now the ladies' entertainment of the premises had something causally to do with the emergence in their minds of the conclusion. The question is whether, when we say that the one contributed causally to the other, our only proper meaning is that whenever the first appears the second one does, or whether we must also say that the special logical relation in which the content of the premises stands to the content of the conclusion had something to do with the appearance of that conclusion. It did have something to do with it.

According to the regularity theory, our only reason for expecting the judgment that arose rather than some other judgment, such as that Florida raises grapefruit, is that thoughts of the first kind have regularly been followed by thoughts of the second. The question why what followed did follow is one which we cannot answer. The connection between the events is no more intelligible than the connection of lightning and thunder for a savage.

If the ladies were asked how they came to have the belief, they would say that it was because this belief was implied by what they were thinking in the previous moment, and this is the natural and correct answer. Other causes could have contributed to the result. We are not saying that causality reduces to logical necessity. But when one passes in reasoning from ground to consequent the fact that the ground entails the consequent is one of the conditions determining the appearance of this consequent rather than something else in the thinker's mind.

32.11

Causality Assumes Logical Necessity

Causality involves an element of logical necessity.

There's nothing in causal law except regular antecedence and consequence. All we are justified in meaning when we say that a causes b is that neither is ever found without the other.



But we mean more than this by causality, and there's more to it. One of those factors is logical necessity.

32.10

Causal Implies Internal

All things are causally related, directly or indirectly. And being causally related involves being logically related.

Consequently, everything in the universe is related internally to everything else.

But is everything really related causally to everything else?
If they are not, it could only be because either some events are not caused or that if all events are caused, they are not all related causally to all the others.

In fact, the ulitmate components of matter are not governed in every detail by causal law.
There is the Heisenberg indeterminacy principle, that a particle may have position or velocity but not both in any exact sense.
There is also the view that the macroscopic objects with observable behavior are all enormous aggregates of sub-atomic particles, that the regularity of their behavior is merely the statistical stability displayed by other large aggregates, and that this regularity is as consistent in the one case as in the others with caprice among the ultimate components.
The theory that there is something in the situation of a radium atom determining it to break up at one moment rather than another is without evidence.
Well, some physicists have not been persuaded that the new results point validly to any suspension of causality, such as Einstein, Planck, Lodge, and Rutherford. So whichever side you take, you will at least have it on some good authority.

Also, some who have examined the Heisenberg indeterminacy principle believe it confuses indeterminacy in our knowledge with indeterminism. The use to which the principle of indeterminacy has been put is largely due to an ambiguity in the world 'determined'. In one sense a quantity is determined when it is measured. In the other sense, an event is determined when it is caused.

The principle of indeterminacy has to do with measurement, not causation. The velocity and position of a particle are declared by the principle to be undetermined in the sense that they cannot be accurately measured. This is a physical fact causally connected with the fact that the measuring is a physical process which has a physical effect on what is measured. There's nothing in the principle of indeterminacy to show that any physical event is uncaused.

So it would be precipitate to assume the principle of causality has been falsified. Of course you don't prove it true by showing that certain objections to it are questionable. But since apart from such objections, the principle holds the field, a constructive argument for it is perhaps unnecessary at this point.

But granting universal causality, there are areas of causal influence that are closed to each other. So what is happening now in the sun can be neither cause nor effect of anything now happening on earth, because no causal agency, not even gravitation, can travel faster than light, and it takes light an appreciable time, about eight minutes, to make the journey from sun to earth.
There's nothing in such facts to challenge universal causality. Everything is not directly  connected to everything else, so that you could pass from any event to any other by following a single line of causation forward or backward. But everything is connected directly or indirectly with everything else. Events now happening in the sun are traceable to causes occurring only a few minutes ago which in turn did affect the course of events on earth.

So events in the two regions, even when neither is the cause of the other, are connected through common causes. And there is no region or event that is cut off from any other. Every body pulls every other towards it, no matter how distant it may be. Newton's apple not only exerted its pull on the earth, but every star in the sky, and the motion of every star was affected by its fall. We cannot move a finger without disturbing all the stars.

So the causal relation is universal, and causal relation includes indirect causal relation. Consequently, every existing thing is causally related to every other thing.

32.09

Abstract and Natural Attributes

But what are the limits of the internal relations theory? It can't be applied to relations between abstract universals, such as the relation of equality between the pure number 4 and 2 + 2. And this is because we can't talk about the possibility of an abstract universal being different from what it is, but only to relations between concrete terms.

That's true in a sense. If an abstract universal means an abstracted universal, which is a universal considered separately from its context in nature, then it will not depend on its relations because we have defined it that way.

But using universals as if they were independent does not prove whether they are independent. My argument is that they are not independent as they exist in nature.

So in a sense the internal relations theory applies only to concrete terms. It applies only to things, attributes and relations taken in the natural or original situation, although this does not necessarily mean that the entire concrete context has to be exhausted before the internality is apparent. The theory does not apply to objects taken in that abstraction which would beg the question, but in their real or natural habitat.

We mentioned being red-headed because it's trivial. The attribute at first seems so clearly 'external' to its subject that it makes the issue extremely difficult. Hence, it's a crucial instance for the theory of internal relations.

If you could have a perfect relational knowledge of the total, you could go from the nature of red-headedness to these other characters which qualify it, and from the nature of red-headedness you could reconstruct all the red-haired people. With this perfect knowledge you could start internally from any one character in the universe, and pass to all the other characters. In each case you would go more or less directly or indirectly, and with unimportant characters the amount of indirectness would be enormous, but no passage would be external.

Such knowledge is out of our reach, and possibly out of the reach of any mind that has to think relationally. But if knowledge is perfected in the Absolute, as we believe, then the purpose of such knowledge is realized in a higher form, and along with ignorance and chance, the last trace of externality has vanished.

32.08

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Universal References Depend on Relations

Even if your argument is valid for unique things, it's not valid for universals. And your view of internal relations has to apply to both. On your view, not just things but terms are what they are because of the way they are related to things. And there's no reason to think that an abstract characteristic is so connected with other things that none of its relations to those things could be different without that characteristic itself being different. Many believe that to say fully what something is, you have to know everything about how it's related to other things.

But notice they don't demand this for universals. Having red hair may occur in many people with different temperaments, histories, and states of health. Therefore, having red hair is related to all those characteristics as well as all others. If having red hair was not having red hair unless it was related this way, then no one could know what having red hair was without first knowing all its relations to the mental and bodily traits of those who had red hair.

We do not know all these relations. But we do know what red-headedness is. We have knowledge which on this theory would be impossible. Hence the theory is wrong.

Yet this argument does not prove what it tries to prove. It proves that we can have some knowledge of red-headedness without knowing all the relations of redheadedness. What it ought to prove is that we can know red-headedness fully and as it really is without such knowledge.

And there's a big difference between these two statements. It would be absurd for the theory of internal relations require that we deny that we can have knowledge of red-headness without knowing all the relations of redheadedness. Because it's obvious that we do attach some meaning to red-headedness even though we do not know all its relations. No defense of internal relations has ever denied that, because it would imply that every bit of knowledge we have is illusion, since nothing ever comes before us whose relations we know exhaustively.

The fact that all knowledge is a matter of degree does not imply knowledge nihilism. We can and do have some knowledge without an exhaustive grasp of relations. When we use the term 'red-headedness', we use it with a meaning and we have some knowledge of the attribute it names, even though we don't know all the relations of that attribute.


But is that equivalent to saying that the red-headedness now explicitly in our thinking is all there is to that attribute as it exists in the nature of things?


Well that's what is implied in the criticism, because unless the criticism means that we can know the real nature of an attribute without knowing its relations, it is saying nothing we disagree with. But to assume that what is now presented in idea gives the whole nature of what is referred to us begs the question and adopts a position we've already shown is false. An idea always points beyond itself. It always means more than it is. It always refers to more than it includes within the circle of its explicit content. That's what makes it an idea. This difference comes under the head of immanent and transcendent meaning (See 1.2.18).

That there is such a difference is undeniable. It's the difference exemplified (though of course not perfectly, since transcendent meaning can never be captured completely) by the interval between what presents itself to the schoolboy when he thinks of Napoleon's loss of Waterloo and what presents itself to the historian. Both refer to the same thing, but by general admission the historian's explicit grasp is nearer to the fact than the school-boy's (2.4.27.4 - 2.4.27.5).


What makes the the second grasp better than the first?  It's the fuller grasp of context, that is, of the antecedents, methods, and bearings of the engagement. The schoolboy must understand these things to be able to understand the defeat as it really was, and as he apprehends the context more fully, his thought immediately remolds itself internally and approximates to the external fact.

Similarly of the more trivial thought we have used to illustrate. For everyday interaction on the level of common sense, the ordinary notion of it suffices. Therefore, does our notion at this level exhaust the nature of the object? There is no more reason for thinking that than there is for thinking that our ideas of anything else on this level are truly adequate to their objects.

As little as might be the point of reflecting on it ordinarily, it's still a fact that red-headedness is an integral part of an organism, and is so bound up, for example, with the structure of hair fibers and this in turn with all kinds of constitutional factors determining racial and individual differences that our common notion of it supplies scarcely more than a sign-post to its real or ultimate nature., that is, to what is as embedded in its own context.

As we grasp those further relations, our explicit thought o fthe attribute is modified while our reference remains the same. We see that we are advancing toward the character as it really is.

In such a series of ideas, our reference is the following: In such a series of ideas, our reference is the same throughout. Our comprehension of what we refer to changes throughout. The changes in comprehension arise from grasping our original content in a fuller context of relevant relations. Our Comprehension at the end of the series is a closer approach to the real character than our comprehension at the beginning. Further advance must be assumed to lie along the same line. And no limit can be set beforehand to the context that complete comprehension would demand. This is what can be verified as fact in any process of improving knowledge.

32.07