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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 441147  
Subject: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 11:12 AM
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Yesterday I fielded a call on the Atheist Experience from Matt Slick, a professional apologist at carm.org who also has his own radio show in which he takes calls from atheists. I let him pick the topic -- possibly my first mistake. He wanted to go after the Transcendental Argument for God (TAG).

My co-host and I have received some criticism for the way we handled this call. Basically we were interrupting a lot and stepping all over ourselves to catch an inconsistency in his argument -- so much that we kept quibbling with what might have been obvious logic in his premises, and we wasted so much time that he didn't get to the meat of the argument. At one point my co-host, Don, even denied that logic was universal, which I thought was a bad move.

I don't think I'm sufficiently familiar with the TAG to handle it gracefully, so I'm hoping I can get some backup. For reference, here's Slick's complete outline of the argument, which he didn't get to finish describing on the show.
http://www.carm.org/secular-movements/atheism/transcendental...

Stuff I was wondering:

1. Does anybody remember when/if this topic was gone over in a full length thread? Link?

2. I'd like to work on a succinct counter-argument that can be explained in a non-boring way that only takes a few minutes.

If you want to see the entire discussion, you can go to http://www.atheist-experience.com and view the episode from 2/15/09, starting at the last half hour. But I'm not saying this will be useful, as the conversation may have been kind of a train wreck on both sides.
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Author: jgc123 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300512 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 11:28 AM
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Kazim: "My co-host and I have received some criticism for the way we handled this call. Basically we were interrupting a lot and stepping all over ourselves to catch an inconsistency in his argument -- so much that we kept quibbling with what might have been obvious logic in his premises, and we wasted so much time that he didn't get to the meat of the argument"

As a trial lawyer who tries jury trials in real life, I know what it's like to be blindsided by an unanticipated argument, screw it up, and think of a million things that I could have done better. I am going to suggest some a rule of thumb that require practice and patience:

1. When you are hearing a new argument, admit that it is a new one or one that you have not worked through as thoroughly as the others. Or just tell the person that you are not sure you understand their version of the argument and keep asking questions until you are really ready to respond. If necessary, pull a Larry King and let them have the stage for the full hour, after which you invite them to come back. You can't win anybody over by not listening to them.

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Author: 1HappyFool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300515 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 11:45 AM
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1. When you are hearing a new argument, admit that it is a new one or one that you have not worked through as thoroughly as the others. Or just tell the person that you are not sure you understand their version of the argument and keep asking questions until you are really ready to respond. If necessary, pull a Larry King and let them have the stage for the full hour, after which you invite them to come back. You can't win anybody over by not listening to them.

The irony. <g>

1HF

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300516 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 11:51 AM
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gaahh...


here's Slick's complete outline of the argument, which he didn't get to finish describing on the show.
http://www.carm.org/secular-movements/atheism/transcendental......

Stuff I was wondering:

1. Does anybody remember when/if this topic was gone over in a full length thread? Link?


it's completely new to me*
so i suspect no thread here.



2. I'd like to work on a succinct counter-argument that can be explained in a non-boring way that only takes a few minutes.


i think there's a simple, unconvincing refutation --
( other than .perhaps, the ever-popular, "Ha! God requires FAITH. If there were a squirrelly argument for god's existence, salvation would be an IQ test!" )


<<<<<
The oversimplified argument,
Logical absolutes exist. Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature, are not dependent on the space, time, physical properties, or human nature.

They are not the product of the physical universe (space, time, matter) because if the physical universe were to disappear, logical absolutes would still be true.

Logical Absolutes are not the product of human minds because human minds are different, not absolute.

But, since logical absolutes are always true everywhere and not dependent upon human minds, it must be an absolute transcendent mind is authoring them.

This mind is called God.
>>>>>>>>

each 'premise' is ,IMO, questionable

they (as Sandy often points out ,iirc) confusing different kinds of existence

not much of a god*

/>: early in my morning --probably not making any sense.


=-=

*otoh, it strikes me as similar to a neo-Spinozan arguement for god:

just about everything we're familiar with has a cause (or causes)
what things don't?
the Universe apparently has no cause
Let's call it 'god'

notice --squirrelly argument & 'not much of a god' --at Most, a Deist god.

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Author: GusSmed Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300520 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 12:01 PM
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He's pretty much OK up until the final few steps. Specifically, steps 7B-D.

At that point, he might as well say "a miracle occurs," because he jumps from "there are absolute, abstract logical statements" to "those statements cannot exist without an absolute, perfect mind." There's simply no justification for going from, say, "the sum of a triangle's internal angles on a plane is 180 degrees" to "this property of geometry would not exist without a supernatural mind to think of it." It's a complete non-sequitur.

In going from 7A to 7B, his error is to reclassify logical principles as "thoughts." They're not "thoughts," though we do think about them. He even says so himself in 4C, stating that the logical principles would exist even without thinking. He does qualify 4C with "human" thoughts, but there's no reason at all for him to add that qualifier.

Further, there's no basis whatsoever for believing that a "perfect thought" defines a "perfect mind." By his logic, if I deduced one of his "absolute logical principles" myself, that would be a perfect thought, automatically making me God.

To address his "answers" to objections:

8B and 8E are essentially the same issue. He's insisting that logical absolutes have a cause, without providing any any justification for that assumption. He then makes the further unwarranted assumption that there's a mind "thinking" them.

8I is essentially true. In 8I/i, he simply re-asserts his premise without answering the objection, and then takes the petty route of using an alternate meaning for the word "need." In 8I/iii, he's being deliberately obtuse, conflating the idea with the thing.

The other objections aren't good objections, because they either don't address the argument or because they're patently false.

- Gus

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Author: GusSmed Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300523 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 12:13 PM
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each 'premise' is ,IMO, questionable

Let's look at the ones you identified.

Logical absolutes exist. Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature, are not dependent on the space, time, physical properties, or human nature.

I simply accepted this, but you're right. We need at least one decent example. I can't think of one off the top of my head. The most abstract ones I can imagine are dependent on space or at least abstract physical properties. The geometry example I used earlier depends on space.

They are not the product of the physical universe (space, time, matter) because if the physical universe were to disappear, logical absolutes would still be true.

It's easy enough to imagine a universe without matter, but a universe without time or space is outside our normal logical frameworks. It's very easy to just assert that things would be true even if time and space did not exist, but the arguments almost inevitably assume time and space do exist. This is the common issue with the "what happened before the big bang?" theistic argument. If time did not exist before the big bang, there was no "before."

Logical Absolutes are not the product of human minds because human minds are different, not absolute.

This assumes that logical absolutes are the product of any mind at all. But even if you were to grant that one, it really doesn't follow. You don't have to have a perfect, uniform mind to deduce a logical absolute.

But, since logical absolutes are always true everywhere and not dependent upon human minds, it must be an absolute transcendent mind is authoring them.

This is the step of logic - I wouldn't call it a "premise" - that I objected to in my reply. B simply does not follow from A. The logical absolutes are not "thoughts" and don't require an author.

This mind is called God.

One thing he doesn't address is that this definition of god is not a Christian god, despite the argument being on a Christian apologetics site. It's the Deist god. There's no reason to believe that a "perfect mind" authoring "logical absolutes" has any care whatsoever about individuals or even our species.

- Gus

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Author: ModernViking Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300524 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 12:23 PM
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TAG's premise boils down to the notion that, since thinking logically is a mental endeavor, someone/thing had to author "logical absolutes" into existence.

Yet, logical absolutes are not dependent on a physical universe. That being the case, how can a nonexistent mind conceive of logical absolutes, thereby ushering them into existence? This, it seems to me, is a fatal contradiction.

MV

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300525 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 12:31 PM
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Logical absolutes exist. Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature, are not dependent on the space, time, physical properties, or human nature.
------------
I simply accepted this, but you're right. We need at least one decent example. I can't think of one off the top of my head. The most abstract ones I can imagine are dependent on space or at least abstract physical properties. The geometry example I used earlier depends on space.


sum of the angles of a triangle even depends on the nature (curvature) of space. But might only depend on the Idea of space ..



Logical Absolutes are not the product of human minds because human minds are different, not absolute.
=========
This assumes that logical absolutes are the product of any mind at all. But even if you were to grant that one, it really doesn't follow. You don't have to have a perfect, uniform mind to deduce a logical absolute.


yup.




But, since logical absolutes are always true everywhere and not dependent upon human minds, it must be an absolute transcendent mind is authoring them.
----------
This is the step of logic - I wouldn't call it a "premise" - that I objected to in my reply. B simply does not follow from A. The logical absolutes are not "thoughts" and don't require an author.



i think you identified the biggest hole right there ..

simple, correct and possibly even 'convincing' refutation.



This mind is called God.
--------
One thing he doesn't address is that this definition of god is not a Christian god, despite the argument being on a Christian apologetics site. It's the Deist god. There's no reason to believe that a "perfect mind" authoring "logical absolutes" has any care whatsoever about individuals or even our species.


yup... although i'd guess the 'next step' might be : given a god, we KNOW the details through Faith . (maybe 'supported' by something like Descartes 'argument')


=

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Author: GusSmed Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300526 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 12:34 PM
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yup... although i'd guess the 'next step' might be : given a god, we KNOW the details through Faith . (maybe 'supported' by something like Descartes 'argument')

Stated that way, it's tinfoil hat stuff. "God beams his thoughts into my head." Not materially different from the Raelians.

- Gus

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300527 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 12:35 PM
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1. When you are hearing a new argument, admit that it is a new one or one that you have not worked through as thoroughly as the others. Or just tell the person that you are not sure you understand their version of the argument and keep asking questions until you are really ready to respond. If necessary, pull a Larry King and let them have the stage for the full hour, after which you invite them to come back. You can't win anybody over by not listening to them.

Thanks for the advice. While I have always supported the philosophical notion that it is a virtue to admit that you don't know something, when you're right there on the spot it's really hard to execute.

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300528 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 12:39 PM
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yup... although i'd guess the 'next step' might be : given a god, we KNOW the details through Faith . (maybe 'supported' by something like Descartes 'argument')

-----------
Stated that way, it's tinfoil hat stuff. "God beams his thoughts into my head." Not materially different from the Raelians.



hmmm....

i've long thought in the end it comes down to the little voices in our heads. ..

never thought it same as Raelians />:

maybe the difference is the nature of what's 'beamed' ... Or Not.



(>b

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300529 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 12:41 PM
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it's completely new to me*
so i suspect no thread here.


It's apparently pretty uncommon to hear this argument executed. Michael Martin remarks on this in an article I found:

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/induct...
It is likely that few, if any, readers will have heard of this argument. Indeed, it is probably not even known to most believers. Nor, to my knowledge, has it been critically evaluated in the standard philosophy of religion literature.

Logical absolutes exist. Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature, are not dependent on the space, time, physical properties, or human nature.

We actually wound up spending a lot of time focused on that premise, where we argued that logic is simply a descriptive construct. AE's other host, Matt Dillahunty, was watching and took us to task for that. He says that this is a fundamental principle of philosophy, and it made us look clueless to argue against this. Maybe Sandy can confirm or deny this.

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300531 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 12:46 PM
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I simply accepted this, but you're right. We need at least one decent example. I can't think of one off the top of my head. The most abstract ones I can imagine are dependent on space or at least abstract physical properties. The geometry example I used earlier depends on space.

A is A? A and not-A cannot both be true? Don't let the fact that Ayn Rand talked these points to death convince you that they're meaningless.

On the other hand, it's hard to say whether these principles actually "exist" or whether they're just tautological statements about the way things, in fact, are.

After the show, I remarked "Among the other faults of the TAG, the main one is that it's really effing boring." I mean, it seems to me like just a bunch of semantic game-playing. Like many arguments for God, it relies on pure abstract logic or math to "prove" something about the physical world, and the arguments seem to abstract to fruitfully argue about. I mean, it's hard to go much farther in my thought process than just saying "That's stupid." But it SOUNDS all intellectual and stuff, so that's not necessarily a good approach.

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300533 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 12:51 PM
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Logical absolutes exist. Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature, are not dependent on the space, time, physical properties, or human nature.
-------------
We actually wound up spending a lot of time focused on that premise, where we argued that logic is simply a descriptive construct. AE's other host, Matt Dillahunty, was watching and took us to task for that. He says that this is a fundamental principle of philosophy, and it made us look clueless to argue against this. Maybe Sandy can confirm or deny this.



my head's starting to hurt.

maybe Sandy will chime in ...

but my 'gut' says you're right (it's not yet Clear to me what a 'logical absolute' is) --
it's disputed question <what is the nature of 'laws of logic'?>


=

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Author: GusSmed Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300536 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 12:59 PM
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A is A? A and not-A cannot both be true?

OK, I see what you're getting at. But as you said, what does it mean to say these things "exist?"

Slick (great name for an apologist by the way) is asserting they wouldn't "exist" without a god to think them. Let's take the contrapositive. Let's start with the premise that we have a universe with no space, time, or minds of any sort, divine or otherwise. In what way would the absence of a "perfect mind" preclude A from being A?

- Gus

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Author: benjd25 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300540 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 1:03 PM
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I can't get to the CARM link from where I am, but looking at the 'really oversimplified argument':

But, since logical absolutes are always true everywhere and not dependent upon human minds, it must be an absolute transcendent mind is authoring them.

Why do logical absolutes have to be authored at all? What kind of leap is this?

I'd like to author a logical absolute. Can I do it? Can I observe it being done?

Asserting that a certain explanation must be the case for an unobserved phenomena...that's chutzpah.

Someone show me a logical absolute starting to be true and we can all start investigating how that happened. Until then...

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Author: jgc123 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300550 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 1:35 PM
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My head does hurt now. In what sense would a universe without space and time be a universe at all? In what sense would A equal A outside the space/time continuum? In what sense does even the logical construct A equals A make sense if there is no space/time continuum and no A to equal A?

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300552 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 1:45 PM
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My head does hurt now. In what sense would a universe without space and time be a universe at all?

good question.


In what sense would A equal A outside the space/time continuum? In what sense does even the logical construct A equals A make sense if there is no space/time continuum and no A to equal A?



that two. <g>


maybe easier to think of it in terms of maths.

in what sense does 'two' exist in a 'universe' without space or time?
(or stuff?)

Platonists think it does.
i don't know how they make sense of it.


=b

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Author: benjd25 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300554 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 2:09 PM
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Now I can get to the CARM link and read the less simplified argument...

Objections Answered

Logical Absolutes simply exist.

This is begging the question and does not provide an explanation for their existence. Simply saying they exist is not an answer.


A human being's experiences are that of being sentient and always existing. (No one, by definition, has experiences of themselves not existing.) Amazingly enough, most people seem to find the idea of anything just existing wholly implausible...except for a sentient being.

Coincidence?

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Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 2:12 PM
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It sounds sort of like a variation on St. Anselm's argument where he conceived of a perfect God 'greater than that which cannot be conceived', from which he concluded that the conception of a perfect god that exists is more perfect than the conception of perfect god that does not exist, therefore god exists'. Or something like that.

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300557 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 2:18 PM
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It sounds sort of like a variation on St. Anselm's argument where he conceived of a perfect God 'greater than that which cannot be conceived', from which he concluded that the conception of a perfect god that exists is more perfect than the conception of perfect god that does not exist, therefore god exists'. Or something like that.

That's the ontological argument. Not the same thing. The ontological argument attempts to define God into existence by saying that the definition necessitates the existence. The transcendental argument says that the existence of something (i.e., logic) necessitates a God to conceive it.

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Author: MDGluon Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300562 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 3:00 PM
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The transcendental argument says that the existence of something (i.e., logic) necessitates a God to conceive it.

Why?

After all then the existence of God requires a God to conceive it..right?

Logic is a method of thinking and examing the world, problems, etc. Why would the exitence of the method, logic, require a diety; after all this would imply that all methods of doing things then require a diety to exist.

Now it does require sentience, probably a high sentience to create and aply logic....but a god is not required as far as I can "logic" it.

md

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Author: GusSmed Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300628 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 6:23 PM
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Why would the exitence of the method, logic, require a diety; after all this would imply that all methods of doing things then require a diety to exist.

I think you can only arrive at that sort of unreasonable statement if you have a deep seated emotional need for a deity in the first place. It's so patently ridiculous that you can't swallow it otherwise.

- Gus

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Author: tenworlds Big gold star, 5000 posts 10+ Year Anniversary! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300629 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 6:32 PM
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I think you can only arrive at that sort of unreasonable statement if you have a deep seated emotional need for a deity in the first place. It's so patently ridiculous that you can't swallow it otherwise.
- Gus

-----

So Kazim's gut reaction to the 'argument', direct & to the point if somewhat impolite, is most accurate;

"That's stupid."






ten

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Author: GusSmed Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300630 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 6:41 PM
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So Kazim's gut reaction to the 'argument', direct & to the point if somewhat impolite, is most accurate;

"That's stupid."


True, but it's better to show your work. Otherwise it comes across as "is not either," even to people who agree with you.

- Gus

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Author: tenworlds Big gold star, 5000 posts 10+ Year Anniversary! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300650 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 8:51 PM
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True, but it's better to show your work. Otherwise it comes across as "is not either," even to people who agree with you.
- Gus

-----

Y'know, I wish I were as quick & erudite as many of the posters here. I don't do much 'live' debate because (it seems) I have to sift through so much stuff to present a cogent argument and, for me, it takes time. Often time enough that conversation moves on before I've made my point. I've had many occasions where my first thought was 'that's stupid', but wanted to 'show my work', but debates don't wait for my steady methodical processes. Discussion boards help me flesh out thoughts, but in my own time. I may not contribute much to topics like the one in this thread, but I do absorb much. Maybe too much, because I find myself, here in the reddest part of a red religious right state, reacting with 'That's stupid!' much too often. But I don't say it out loud anymore. Not right away. I've recently gotten into some discussions with 'right leaning folks' and their religious ilk, and when the discussion devolves to Rush's talking points I do finally toss out 'that's stupid', and you're right, it's generally a show stopper. Oh well. Sometimes that's all the 'argument' some folks understand.

I really appreciate y'all and the patience shown here. Although I did it to some extent, I hadn't heard of 'critical thinking' until I first started posting here. Same with 'intellectual honesty' and various logical fallacies.

And the adage is true; It's better to remain silent and people suspect you a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.




ten

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Author: salaryguru Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300663 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 10:46 PM
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I agree. It’s stupid.

1. Assert that logical absolutes exist.
2. Assert that they are independent of reality (ie. the universe, space-time continuum).
3. Assert that they are independent of man.
4. Assert that things that are independent of man must come from god.
5. Since logical absolutes exist (first assertion), god exists.

Proving any of the assertions is clearly difficult as everyone has already discussed.

But lets grant them all as true. How do I get from the author of logical absolutes to Jesus Christ as opposed to the Giant Spaghetti Monster? I’ve heard that the Giant Spaghetti Monster creates some pretty mean logical absolutes.

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300664 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/16/2009 11:27 PM
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...as opposed to the Giant Spaghetti Monster?

Blasphemy!!

It is the Flying Spaghetti Monster!!

As penance you must consume a plate of spaghetti every week for the next month! And then pray he has it in his noodly heart to forgive your transgression!

1poorguy (Arrrrrgh!)

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Author: VUCommodore Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300675 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 8:30 AM
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Kazim --

I'm sure I've brought it up here before. Probably on at least a couple of occassions. See, there is some use in having a Christian around on your board!

Here's Michael Martin's response to TAG -- he basically mirrors the argument to try and prove the non-existence of God. I think it is problematic, but maybe you disagree:
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/martin...

The "logic" subset of his argument is very weak, because it misuses the concept of contingency and/or uses a strawman version of the apologist's proposition of how logic is related to God.

The "science" subset is stronger, but I think it falls to the same sorts of objections that weaken the science subset of TAG (namely that when we're doing science, we don't have to prove everything in a logically rigorous way, we simply set up some assumptions for expediency and build conclusions upon them.

The "morality" subset is just a stock objection to divine command morality, and on top of that has a similar weakness as the "logic" subset has -- it alleges a status of contingency by either using an improper definition of "contingent" or by making a strawman of the apologist's proposition of how morality is related to God.

That said, it's the best response I've seen an atheist come up with.

The best theoretical response would be to come up with an alternative set of assumptions that "defuses" TAG -- in other words, a way that the atheist can explain and justify morality and logic from a worldview compatible with all of his own beliefs. This is probably more of what you are looking for, since it would be more concise and more easily explicible, and I think this would be much more challenging for the apologist to deal with, since all the burdens of complex logic and "nit-picking" would fall on him, if you were able to do this well. However, I haven't seen any atheist do this well.

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300677 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 9:21 AM
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...a way that the atheist can explain and justify morality and logic from a worldview compatible with all of his own beliefs.

First, it sounds like you're assuming an "absolute" here. I would maintain that morality is relative. What is moral to some is immoral to others. There is no absolute. Is eating fish on Friday moral? I have no problem with it....

However, if you check out the FAQ for this board you'll see that one atheist outlined the sort of explanation you are looking for. It was quite good, as I recall.

1poorguy

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Author: VUCommodore Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300687 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 10:14 AM
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"First, it sounds like you're assuming an "absolute" here. I would maintain that morality is relative. What is moral to some is immoral to others. There is no absolute. Is eating fish on Friday moral? I have no problem with it...."

Oh, well in that case you have no issue. I am assuming an absolute. I think that some things are absolutely immoral regardless of whether the perpetrator of the act and/or his society think they are immoral. For example, the Holocaust would have been immoral, absolutely and objectively, even if Germany had won the war and eventually exterminated the rest of humankind.

"However, if you check out the FAQ for this board you'll see that one atheist outlined the sort of explanation you are looking for. It was quite good, as I recall."

I will do that. Thanks. My post in this thread was not to bring out an argument, rather to provide some information along the lines of what Kazim requested.

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300689 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 10:26 AM
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I think that some things are absolutely immoral regardless of whether the perpetrator of the act and/or his society think they are immoral. For example, the Holocaust would have been immoral, absolutely and objectively, even if Germany had won the war and eventually exterminated the rest of humankind.

I agree. And society appears to agree. But there are those that don't. The German society of 1942 apparently among them. As I said, it's relative. From my egocentric/ethnocentric viewpoint it was/is immoral. Evidently from yours also. But if the Germans had won and you and I weren't around (assuming neither of us are ideal Aryans, which I'm not) then the folks that were around may very well view it as the pinnacle of accomplishments to rid the gene pool of "less than pure" genes that were holding the human race back. Relative.

Let's take an example from today. Honor killings. I suspect you would agree with me that those are terrible and reflect on a primitive and savage culture. Now go over to Sudan or Somalia and try to sell that viewpoint. They regard it is their duty if a female has "disgraced" their family. You will not be able to convince them otherwise. IIRC, they even have pronouncements from Allah to support their view.

Who's right? I think we are. They think they are.

I'm not "arguing" as such (I don't think). Just discussing. We're allowed to do that here! :-)

1poorguy

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Author: VUCommodore Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300691 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 10:31 AM
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"However, if you check out the FAQ for this board you'll see that one atheist outlined the sort of explanation you are looking for. It was quite good, as I recall."

Just read that explanation, and frankly I disagree that it is quite good, at least for the purpose of serving as an alternative justification of absolute morality. It starts out at the very beginning assuming that people have absolute rights of some sort.

It is, of course, very good at explaining what those rights are in systematic detail, but only if one stipulates to the starting assumption that humans have some sort of absolute right to autonomy, and that the condition of having a right imposes some sort of moral obligation or limitation on others. That assumption in and of itself is an absolute moral claim.

I don't want to hijack Kazim's thread, so I'll leave the discussion there. You are free to disagree with me, I just wanted to share my take on it because you were kind enough to point me in that direction, and I would feel very rude if I left the impression that I simply ignored your recommendation (especially since it is in the FAQ).

I think your solution, moral relativism, is much more consistent with atheism, even though I personally don't find that moral relativism is compatible with my internal convictions about morality.

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Author: VUCommodore Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300725 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 12:01 PM
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1pg --

I'm just defensive because I take alot of crap here and elsewhere for "preaching" or "arguing" when I thought I was discussing all along!

In any case, I'll gladly stipulated that people disagree about morality, but I think that does absolutely nothing to suggest that there is no such thing as absolute, authoritative morality. That type of argument just doesn't work, as can be made obvious with an example: I think that the Christian God exists. My coworker believes that the set of Hindu gods exist, and not the Christian one. You believe that no gods exist. This does not mean that theology is relative, it means that at least two of us are wrong.

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300740 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 12:57 PM
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This really does have a simple refutation.

"Logical absolutes" are merely statements reflecting truths about the way the universe works. They are descriptive of reality. They are "absolute" because reality does, in fact exist, and statements about its functionings, its laws, and even the principles of logic themselves are nothing more than descriptive statements about reality.

All minds capable of logic can recognize that the "logical absolute" of opposition "exists" only insofar as it is descriptive of reality. The logical absolute which holds that no statement can be at the same time both true and false is not a function of mindsM, but a function of the way the universe works. "All four-legged creatures have four legs" both describes reality and answers to the "conceptual" rules concerning definitions -- including the one which says you can't have one definition of a term in the subject of the proposition and substitute a different one in the predicate.

It is not necessary for minds capable of logic to exist for logical absolutes to exist. Prior to the evolution of the mind of man to such a state where logic became possible, squares had four sides wherever squares existed and circles had none. Those are logical absolutes, whether or not anyone exists to recognize them.

The universe (however one may wish to define it, given the possibility of multiple universes, etc.) exists, functions in certain ways, and that universe and constitutes as much of reality as we have access to. Its existence and functioning -- complete with physical laws and logical necessities -- exist independently of the human mind. A mind is capable of experiencing logical absolutes in a conceptual way only after it has developed to a certain level of competence. It can recognize logical absolutes, but does not itself participate in the creation of them. Nor is a mind necessary for the creation of logical absolutes. However reality exists -- in whatever form at whatever stage -- its "manner of being" is theoretically open to description by any mind capable of observing and recognizing it. That "manner of being" includes whatever consistencies -- i.e. "logical absolutes" -- which, if rendered inconcistent, would change entirely the nature of that reality.

A "reality" just IS -- complete with all its definable attributes -- whether or not any mind exists competent to articulate those attributes.

SLL

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300741 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 1:08 PM
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Logical absolutes exist. Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature, are not dependent on the space, time, physical properties, or human nature.

I simply accepted this, but you're right. We need at least one decent example. I can't think of one off the top of my head. The most abstract ones I can imagine are dependent on space or at least abstract physical properties. The geometry example I used earlier depends on space.

Exactly right. "Logical absolutes" are nothing more than descriptions of reality and how it works -- including the fact that reality has a certain "logic."

There are no "logical absolutes" without a referent. All "logical absolutes" refer to some feature of the existing universe -- including its laws, regularities, consistencies, irregularities, etc. All those laws, regularities, etc. are nothing more than features of the reality of which they are attributes. "Logical absolutes" are, in essence, purely features of whatever reality in which they "exist." And all are in some fashion "dependent" in precisely this way on space, time, etc. "Logical absolutes" always presuppose a context -- and are absolutely dependent upon that context -- exactly because their only function is to describe certain features of that context.

SLL

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Author: jgc123 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300744 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 1:28 PM
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kazim in earlier post:

"We actually wound up spending a lot of time focused on that premise, where we argued that logic is simply a descriptive construct. AE's other host, Matt Dillahunty, was watching and took us to task for that"

SLL today: "All minds capable of logic can recognize that the "logical absolute" of opposition "exists" only insofar as it is descriptive of reality."

At first glance, it looks like kazim was simply sidetracked by a host who did not know what he was talking about.

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Author: tenworlds Big gold star, 5000 posts 10+ Year Anniversary! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300745 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 1:30 PM
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Prior to the evolution of the mind of man to such a state where logic became possible, squares had four sides wherever squares existed and circles had none.
-----

Wait a minit! Circles have sides.

Two.

INside and OUTside.







ten
-grinnin', duckin', ...runnin'

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Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 1:56 PM
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A is A? A and not-A cannot both be true?

Kazim, you posit "A" and "~A" as possible examples of subjects of propositions concerning logical absolutes which would be independent of time, space, etc -- in other words, you're suggesting that they're utterly abstract.

But they're really just words in the human language devised to do logic in. As such, they exist for the purpose of referring to aspects of reality. In the same way that all dogs are subsumed under the linguistic conventions, "dogs," "canines," "chiens," "cao," etc., "A" and "~A" exist as symbols, having referents in reality.

For example, if I claim that "nothing can be both A and ~A" I am making, not an abstract claim, but a claim about reality itself. Nothing can be both tall and not-tall. Nothing can be both red and not-red. These claims are not abstractions -- they are, rather claims made about both the nature of reality itself and the way in which language is used to describe reality. The claim that nothing can be both A and ~A is a claim which allows language to have meaning precisely by limiting language to include as "true" only statements accurately describing reality.

Thus, "A" is only a place-holder, in the same way that all words are place-holders. They're short-cuts in the process of reasoning, but they're not abstractions in the kind of Platonic sense you're (inadvertently, I think) suggesting.

Plato did a hell of a lot of harm, in my view, bless his well-meaning heart. He confunsed a whole lot of people about the nature of language, the nature of "abstract" ideas, the nature of reality, and the nature of truth. Aristotle more or less straightened him out, but by then, the damage had been done.

Language -- all language, including formal systems like propositional and existential logic, mathematics, geometry, etc -- is merely a human-invented tool for describing reality and communicating those descriptions to one another. While it is possible to conceptualize illogical notions, it is not possible to conceptualize illogical notions which conform to reality -- which are, in short, true. Because we mean precisely by "true," "that which comforms to reality." "Counter-factual" and "counter-intuitive" are different things, but we can, when vigilant, conceptualize either. The former, however, can never be "true."

A "logical absolute" is merely a tautology, whatever language we select to describe it with -- whether English, French, Portuguese, existential logic or mathematics.

SLL

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300755 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 2:08 PM
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It is not necessary for minds capable of logic to exist for logical absolutes to exist. Prior to the evolution of the mind of man to such a state where logic became possible, squares had four sides wherever squares existed and circles had none. Those are logical absolutes, whether or not anyone exists to recognize them.



so logical 'rules' wouldn't exist without a universe?
'physics' requires a universe with stuff.. it seems
maybe geometry requires space ...


but
"p v ~p" wouldn't hold?


=
..... maybe they just don't make sense.

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Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 2:13 PM
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Plato did a hell of a lot of harm, in my view, bless his well-meaning heart. He confunsed a whole lot of people about the nature of language, the nature of "abstract" ideas, the nature of reality, and the nature of truth. Aristotle more or less straightened him out, but by then, the damage had been done.

•••

A "logical absolute" is merely a tautology, whatever language we select to describe it with -- whether English, French, Portuguese, existential logic or mathematics.


but then, aren't they dependent on language ..thus on some 'mind'



=

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Author: crassfool Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300760 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 2:17 PM
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0x6a74 says

maybe easier to think of it in terms of maths.

in what sense does 'two' exist in a 'universe' without space or time?
(or stuff?)

Platonists think it does.
i don't know how they make sense of it.

Me, I'm a Platonist when it comes to math. (Kurt Goedel was too.)

I don't know how I really make sense of it, but any other view winds up hurting too much.

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Author: ibbieta Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300762 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 2:26 PM
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For example, if I claim that "nothing can be both A and ~A" I am making, not an abstract claim, but a claim about reality itself. Nothing can be both tall and not-tall. Nothing can be both red and not-red.

As a tangent on this line -- I can think of one famous example with A and !A existing simultaneously. Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment where the state of the cat in the box is undetermined until the box is tampered with. This line of thinking was a way to pull quantum mechanics into a conceptual realm that better meshes with our own.

Does the entwined states of quantum physics over-ride the purely abstract truths? If we lived our lives on a small planet with a noticeable curve would geometric postulates be different?

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Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 2:35 PM
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ibbieta says

As a tangent on this line -- I can think of one famous example with A and !A existing simultaneously. Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment where the state of the cat in the box is undetermined until the box is tampered with. This line of thinking was a way to pull quantum mechanics into a conceptual realm that better meshes with our own.

Schrödinger, be it noted, constructed his cat-experiment as a protest against the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum uncertainty.

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Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 2:44 PM
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so logical 'rules' wouldn't exist without a universe?
'physics' requires a universe with stuff.. it seems
maybe geometry requires space ...


but
"p v ~p" wouldn't hold?

=
..... maybe they just don't make sense.


My view is the latter. "p v ~p" would be meaningless. Propositions have to be about something, I think.

The entire notion of "truth value" would be meaningless.

Without a reality, how can there be meaning? Without a reality, how can there be truth or falsehood, or inconsistency or "logical error?"

All concepts have, at base, a referent in reality. All truths. All propositions. Even all tautologies.

That's my view, and I'm stickin' to it.

SLL

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Author: ibbieta Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300772 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 2:45 PM
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Schrödinger, be it noted, constructed his cat-experiment as a protest against the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum uncertainty.

Yeah, and like Einstein's dice-avoiding god, quantum physics manages to confound even the brightest minds. :) There is something comforting in that thought -- what fun would it be if we could completely understand the universe?

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Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 2:46 PM
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There is something comforting in that thought -- what fun would it be if we could completely understand the universe?



if there weren't SOME fun in it, there wouldn't be so damn many Christians.



(>,

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Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 2:48 PM
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My view is the latter. "p v ~p" would be meaningless. Propositions have to be about something, I think.

The entire notion of "truth value" would be meaningless.

Without a reality, how can there be meaning? Without a reality, how can there be truth or falsehood, or inconsistency or "logical error?"

All concepts have, at base, a referent in reality. All truths. All propositions. Even all tautologies.



works for me.

and just blows away a couple of the premises of TAG



-j
..... ex-Formalist.

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Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 2:52 PM
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but then, aren't they dependent on language ..thus on some 'mind'

No.

What do you mean by "dependent on?" Their truth?

If something is "logically absolute," that means it is impossible for it to be contradicted by reality. That's all it means. The facts of geometry -- e.g. the attributes of triangles -- are facts about the way reality is ordered. Perhaps there are other realitys ordered in other ways, and certain facts true in the reality in which we exist would not be "logical absolutes" in that other reality.

Facts are dependent upon a context. The context determines -- DICTATES, I'd say -- what constitutes a "fact." Context determines, as well, what constitutes a "logical absolute." I cannot discount the possibility of realities outside our purview in which the makeup of that reality might include what in our reality would be logical impossibilities. But we can make absolutely no meaningful statements about such posited realities. "p v ~p" might or might not hold.

I think I'll just have to call myself a metaphysical and epistemological "contextualist." Without context, there can be neither a metaphysics nor an epistemology. Without a reality to describe, there can be no logical truths or falsehoods, and certainly no "logical absolutes."

I think Joel would like this. Some propositions -- those regarding realities to which we can never have access -- are utterly devoid of meaning. They are gibberish.

SLL

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Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 2:58 PM
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Me, I'm a Platonist when it comes to math. (Kurt Goedel was too.)

I don't know how I really make sense of it, but any other view winds up hurting too much.


Silly boy. It doesn't hurt at all.

Picture, if you will, a universe in which everything is in flux. There may be no life forms whatever, but objects form, dissolve and reform, merge with other objects, separate, in constant motion in, say, a 12-dimensional space/time matrix. Nothing is permanent enough to "count." Nothing is individual -- everything is fleeting. Nothing has sufficient independence to be distinguished from anything else. In what sense would math have meaning in such a reality?

Now, privately, I doubt such a reality can exist. But I can't know that, any more than I can know that a reality may exist in which nothing ever decays or combines or merges or even moves. What meaning would math have in THAT reality?

Math is a tool used to describe the reality in which we live, the one we experience, and the one where our brains formed evolutionarily for the purpose of perceiving our reality in a manner sufficient to allow us to survive. It may or may not have application to other possible "realities."

SLL,
Contextualist Extraordinaire

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300782 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 3:01 PM
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Silly boy. It doesn't hurt at all.

Picture, if you will, a universe in which everything is in flux. There may be no life forms whatever, but objects form, dissolve and reform, merge with other objects, separate, in constant motion in, say, a 12-dimensional space/time matrix. Nothing is permanent enough to "count." Nothing is individual -- everything is fleeting.



a winner!

...one day in GradSchoo we had a contest to imagine the most bizarre 'possible world' -- THAT woulda won


(> b

.... makes the winner sound borderline boring.

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300783 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 3:02 PM
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As a tangent on this line -- I can think of one famous example with A and !A existing simultaneously. Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment where the state of the cat in the box is undetermined until the box is tampered with. This line of thinking was a way to pull quantum mechanics into a conceptual realm that better meshes with our own.

Does the entwined states of quantum physics over-ride the purely abstract truths? If we lived our lives on a small planet with a noticeable curve would geometric postulates be different?


I recommend the book, "Flatland." Great laymen's description of how to conceptualize relativity.

And yeah, in a sense, we might agree that microcosmic events can break the macrocosmic laws of "legal absolutes." I think that's true in the same way the Godel's Theorem undercuts formal logic systems -- that is, reality is strange enough that the tools we use to describe it at the level of our perceptions simply cannot be strong enough to describe it at higher (or lower) levels. The language of logic is contextual -- though hugely useful. As are the various languages of mathematics.

SLL

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300788 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 3:07 PM
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Schrödinger, be it noted, constructed his cat-experiment as a protest against the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum uncertainty.

True, but subsequent research indicates that there really is a good deal of quantum uncertainty. At least, at the epistemological level, which is uncertainty enough for me.

There really are propositions which our formal systems are inadequate to express with truth-value accuracy. We may be able to express them, but we may not be able to assess their truth value -- and that inability is inherent in the system itself, not necessarily in the human mind.

A good example of this is the manner in which human beings can recognize the truth of Godel's Theorem despite the fact that the theorem proves that you cannot prove its truth. Now, I agree, THAT one can hurt the head a little until you grasp its meaning -- but I think it shows the extent to which no formal system can fully and adequately describe even this seemingly reasonably well-ordered reality we're living in.

SLL

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300789 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 3:14 PM
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a winner!

...one day in GradSchoo we had a contest to imagine the most bizarre 'possible world' -- THAT woulda won


(> b

.... makes the winner sound borderline boring.


Yay, me!!!

I'm currently reading a sci-fi novel called "Matter" by one Iain M. Banks, of whom I'd never heard before, though he's apparently well-known in Britain. Picked it up at Heathrow before a flight and have just now gotten around to starting it.

Lots of really cool, mind-blowing concepts in there already, and I'm only about 50 or so pages in. Shape-shifting of a very original sort. "Rollstars" on planets constructed by an ancient civilization where the inhabitants live inside the sphere and the "sky" is the inside of the planet's outer borders. Intelligent species of very mysterious abilities, etc.

Must have jogged my inventive urges. <G>

SLL

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Author: jgc123 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300795 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 3:23 PM
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I am glad you said that. My pea sized brain could not figure out how the logical construct A equals A would make sense if there were no space/time continuum and no A to equal A or not equal B in the first place.

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Author: sofaking6 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300797 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 3:26 PM
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I recommend the book, "Flatland."

OCD: I recommend a fat spleef and the book, "Flatland".

6

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300798 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 3:30 PM
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OCD: I recommend a fat spleef and the book, "Flatland".

LOL. I think.

SLL

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Author: tootru Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300805 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 4:04 PM
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I'm currently reading a sci-fi novel called "Matter" by one Iain M. Banks, of whom I'd never heard before, though he's apparently well-known in Britain. Picked it up at Heathrow before a flight and have just now gotten around to starting it.

Lots of really cool, mind-blowing concepts in there already, and I'm only about 50 or so pages in. Shape-shifting of a very original sort. "Rollstars" on planets constructed by an ancient civilization where the inhabitants live inside the sphere and the "sky" is the inside of the planet's outer borders. Intelligent species of very mysterious abilities, etc.

Must have jogged my inventive urges.


You will absolutely LOVE the Culture, Sandy. I have a collection of short works by Banks that I love dearly. Let me know when you're ready and I'll lend it to you.

I've read all of Banks's science fiction and a good number of his regular fiction (The Business being my favorite so far).

t.

I want to become a Special Circumstances agent when I grow up.

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Author: MDGluon Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300808 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 4:51 PM
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I think Joel would like this. Some propositions -- those regarding realities to which we can never have access -- are utterly devoid of meaning. They are gibberish.

SLL


As I believe Feyman said about a really horrible idea/thesis;

"It is not even wrong".

md

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Author: jgc123 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300811 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 5:02 PM
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"I think Joel would like this. Some propositions -- those regarding realities to which we can never have access -- are utterly devoid of meaning. They are gibberish.
SLL"

Thanks for picking up on that one, mdgluon. Sandy, you nailed it again. Here's what I did say:

"My head does hurt now. In what sense would a universe without space and time be a universe at all? In what sense would A equal A outside the space/time continuum? In what sense does even the logical construct A equals A make sense if there is no space/time continuum and no A to equal A? "

It looked like we were making logic itself into God.

Heyyyyy........

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Author: salaryguru Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300813 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 5:06 PM
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As I believe Feyman said about a really horrible idea/thesis;

"It is not even wrong".


It was Pauli. But it's still funny.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300816 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 5:33 PM
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Tru:

Thanks for the encouraging words about Matter. I'm never completely sure when I begin a book how good it's going to be. I hate wasting 100 pages and then finding out it sucks. Nice to know it's a good read.

I can't borrow books. I write in 'em. <G>

SLL

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300817 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 5:34 PM
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As I believe Feyman said about a really horrible idea/thesis;

"It is not even wrong".


LOL. I love that.

SLL

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Author: Lawtie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300819 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 5:42 PM
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I've read all of Banks's science fiction and a good number of his regular fiction.

Ha! I'm the opposite. I've read all his 'normal' fiction - but I'm not a science fiction fan particularly (to read at least).

Liked The Business, still think The Wasp Factory is my fave.

Lawtie

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Author: tootru Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300829 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/17/2009 6:38 PM
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I can't borrow books. I write in 'em.

Ah well ... FWIW, skip The Algebraist - it's the least of his works, IMO.

t.

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300869 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 6:36 AM
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For example, if I claim that "nothing can be both A and ~A" I am making, not an abstract claim, but a claim about reality itself. Nothing can be both tall and not-tall. Nothing can be both red and not-red. These claims are not abstractions -- they are, rather claims made about both the nature of reality itself and the way in which language is used to describe reality. The claim that nothing can be both A and ~A is a claim which allows language to have meaning precisely by limiting language to include as "true" only statements accurately describing reality.

Would it be correct to say that you DON'T think that logic is transcendent? That is to say, it is not universally applicable regardless of context?

When Slick called, my first approach was to dispute this notion, saying that logic is merely a mental construct that describes the world, not anything that has existence in its own right. Slick acted kind of shocked that his first premise was being questioned, and eventually he started condescendingly stating that my co-host and I don't have enough education to have a reasonable conversation with.

This didn't bother me so much, and I brushed it off with a joke ("Maybe you'd think I was educated only if I sat here agreeing with you"). But then when Matt D. called me, he said "Slick was right to be surprised, you guys were questioning foundational principles of philosophy. He would have gotten to a contradiction, but you were so busy interrupting that you didn't let him get there."

I've gotten a real flood of email from that show, with mixed reviews. Some say that our performance was so disgracefully rude that they were embarrassed for us. Others say that while they didn't like the call, it was because of Slick's tactics, and it would have been worse if he'd been allowed to go on without correction. And a few said "Best call ever, don't change a thing."

Needless to say, this has left me deeply confused. :)

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Author: Ziege19 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300872 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 7:49 AM
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When Slick called, my first approach was to dispute this notion, saying that logic is merely a mental construct that describes the world, not anything that has existence in its own right. Slick acted kind of shocked that his first premise was being questioned, and eventually he started condescendingly stating that my co-host and I don't have enough education to have a reasonable conversation with.

This didn't bother me so much, and I brushed it off with a joke ("Maybe you'd think I was educated only if I sat here agreeing with you"). But then when Matt D. called me, he said "Slick was right to be surprised, you guys were questioning foundational principles of philosophy. He would have gotten to a contradiction, but you were so busy interrupting that you didn't let him get there."


I probably wouldn've made a similar argument. I guess I can see where Matt is coming from though. Logic is like science; a tool that we use to describe and understand the world that has served us well and we deem to be reliable. Now, if Slick started out with his first premise as being "Scientific Absolutes exist" such as the speed of light or some other law, and you questioned him by saying it's not true, science is only a mental construct that describes the world and as such no scientific laws exist outside of humans, maybe you'd be in shaky territory.

But this analogy I think does point to the trick that Slick has tried to pull off here. He's made an argument that, in my analogy, would go something like this: Scientific laws exist. Scientific laws are how we understand the universe. Scientific laws are perfectly consistent. Scientific laws are conceptual thoughts. Therefore a mind must exist that thinks perfectly consistent thoughts. Woot! God.

Seems like he can't make up his mind as to whether Logic exists independently of a mind to think it up or not. To me it seems kind of like the whole tree falling in a forest thing, and he's saying that if the tree makes noise when there is no one to hear it, and for something to be 'noise' it has to be heard, then it must mean the noise has a hearer, and the hearer is God. Cooky stuff if you ask me.

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Author: benjd25 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300894 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 10:51 AM
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That is to say, it is not universally applicable regardless of context?

Isn't that what the transcendental argument is arguing? Before God authored logic, or if God hadn't authored logic, or outside of where God authored logic, there would be a context where the laws of logic didn't exist.

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Author: jgc123 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300899 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 11:06 AM
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K: "Would it be correct to say that you DON'T think that logic is transcendent? That is to say, it is not universally applicable regardless of context?"

What do you mean by universally applicable?

Its seems to me that logic IS universally applicable in this universe in which there is a space/time continuum and in which there are objects to which these laws universally apply.

But that does not mean that they have a separate existence or a platonic existence as a 'thing' or an 'objective reality beyond this universe' even if they apply to everything in the universe.

If there were no universe at all, and there were no 'things' to be equal to or not, what role would logic play? In what sense would logic exist if there were no universe, no space, no time, nothing to test logical premises by?

I think your host did not understand your argument. Logic can be 'universally applicable' to 'all things in the universe' and still be referential to the extent that it applies 'to all things in the universe'. It is not a platonic 'thing' with a separate existence even if it applies to all things in the universe.

I think your host was just plain wrong and did not understand your point.

But I haven't studied philosphy in 35 years and could be dead wrong and not understand HIS point.

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300901 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 11:21 AM
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jgc,

What about math? Would you lump that in with logic? IMO, the two do seem to overlap quite a bit.

I've said before that I think mathematics are not a human construct. I think they are -for lack of a better way of saying it- a part of the universe. I have no idea if a different universe would result in different mathematics, though if you held a gun to my head I would posit "no, they would be consistent across the entire multiverse". We didn't create math, we discovered it. Just because there were no humans around does that mean that when one T-rex met up with another that there weren't two of them? One plus one is two, regardless of whether we were there to label it as such.

And if math is universal, a part of the universe, and logic and math are interrelated (as I think they are), then it stands to reason that logic should also be universal. No?

1poorguy (wishing his phil of science class had been better)

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Author: TeraGram Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300902 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 11:23 AM
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One plus one is two, regardless of whether we were there to label it as such.

But sometimes, 1 + 1 = 10


-T, obfuscater.

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300903 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 11:25 AM
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Isn't that what the transcendental argument is arguing? Before God authored logic, or if God hadn't authored logic, or outside of where God authored logic, there would be a context where the laws of logic didn't exist.

I don't THINK that's what it says. Rather, it says that logic has to exist in *a* mind. It doesn't indicate that God invented logic, only that logic has to exist inside his head. If you say "outside of where God authored logic" then that is counter-factual because God is everywhere and always.

I guess.

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300906 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 11:51 AM
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Would it be correct to say that you DON'T think that logic is transcendent? That is to say, it is not universally applicable regardless of context?

That's right, Kazim. I believe logic to be dependent upon context, and a feature both of (a specific) reality and of the mind which may observe, experience and attempt to interpret it.

But then when Matt D. called me, he said "Slick was right to be surprised, you guys were questioning foundational principles of philosophy.

My own education in philosophy led me to understand that one must always question foundational priciples -- of any discipline. And my own questioning of the foundational principles of logic came about, first, through my exposure to Godel and, subsequently, to research in questions of epistemology.

Needless to say, this has left me deeply confused. :)

Those who have advised that, when presented with an argument you've never heard articulated before, the best answer is always, "I'll need to think about that one -- it's new to me. Let's talk when I've had a chance to mull it over." were right. Philosophical issues are too complex and often too subtle to make "winging it" a viable approach. And anyone who insists upon an immediate answer to their argument will be arguing in bad faith, and you will easily be able to point that out. "Don't you spend some time actually thinking about a new idea before accepting it as true or rejecting it as false?"

Don't get caught in the trap of assuming a bad argument is always an easy one to refute. Some -- like this one -- use the trick of presenting a premise which seems so intuitively true that it's easy to overlook the problems with it, and to just accept it on its face. Very dangerous, and very easy mistake to make.

Always examine premises. The argument may be sound, but a false premise will kill it.

SLL

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300907 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 11:54 AM
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One plus one is two, regardless of whether we were there to label it as such.

But sometimes, 1 + 1 = 10



perhaps worse..

sometimes ..

two + two = five
two + two + two = nine
and
two + two + two + two = fourteen



(>:

ex-cessive poster

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300909 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 11:58 AM
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That's right, Kazim. I believe logic to be dependent upon context, and a feature both of (a specific) reality and of the mind which may observe, experience and attempt to interpret it.
================

But then when Matt D. called me, he said "Slick was right to be surprised, you guys were questioning foundational principles of philosophy.
---------------
My own education in philosophy led me to understand that one must always question foundational priciples -- of any discipline.



ditto.

sounds like Matt went to 3d rate Philosophy School (since we went to 2d rate <g>) ..or worse


-

Always examine premises. The argument may be sound, but a false premise will kill it.


yup .....old bumper-sticker from the 70s:

Question Premises!

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300910 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 11:58 AM
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Now, if Slick started out with his first premise as being "Scientific Absolutes exist" such as the speed of light or some other law, and you questioned him by saying it's not true, science is only a mental construct that describes the world and as such no scientific laws exist outside of humans, maybe you'd be in shaky territory.

Even here, context matters. The laws of nature apply to the universe in which we live. We cannot know if they apply "universally" (for want of a better word) "elsewhere," if any "elsewheres" exist. We can only talk meaningfully about our reality -- not about meta-realities.

Including the one purportedly containing a Supreme Being.

That's the heart of the problem with the caller's argument. He wants to infer a meta-reality (God) from the truths about our very local one. That's an illegitimate inference.

It also occurs to me to wonder what the caller would have said had Kazim brought up Godel. We know that formal systems have limitations --Godel proves it -- and so we know as well that whatever "logical absolutes" we may accept as inherent in our systems, they can only be accepted provisionally. Yes, a tautology is a "logical absolute," but it might be subject to Godelian problems in a self-referential context -- or, of course, in any context outside our local reality (our universe.)

SLL

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300911 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 12:09 PM
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We didn't create math, we discovered it.

Yes, we did create math -- to describe observable relationships among things existing in our universe.

Our universe. Observed by us.

Now, I will grant you that it's a powerful tool, in that it has predictive properties. But those properties are a feature of the fact that our observations have become increasingly more sophisticated and our invention of new mathetmatical languages to facilitate description of our universe has led to reasoning systems powerfully consistent with reality.

They are not, taken one at a time, however, in any sense infallible, as the need for different "geometries" (languages of spacial relation) indicates. Were Euclidean geometry sufficient to describe all spacial relations within our universe, Riemannian geometry wouldn't have been need to be invented to cope with relations beyond the scope of Euclid.

So, even within the context of our own reality, mathematics remains a powerful, but neither complete nor sufficient tool for description and understanding. It is, like any formal system, moreover, subject to the limitations Godel revealed, and it certainly has application only -- so far as we can know -- to our own reality, to this universe to which we are restricted (so far).

We can't legitimately make the logical "jump" from "mathematics corresponds to the universe" to "our mathematics corresponds to ALL UNIVERSES," in the first place, and, in the second place, even within this universe, several forms of mathematical language are required to describe, understand, and predict features of reality.

We need to be more humble about epistemological matters, I believe.

SLL

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300912 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 12:13 PM
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We didn't create math, we discovered it.

Yes, we did create math -- to describe observable relationships among things existing in our universe.

Our universe. Observed by us.


yup.

in MY view: math is just logic plus a couple extra Axioms*
( Euclid being the best example )

if we found it NOT fitting observed relationships ..we'd change the Axioms.


So, even within the context of our own reality, mathematics remains a powerful, but neither complete nor sufficient tool for description and understanding. It is, like any formal system, moreover, subject to the limitations Godel revealed, and it certainly has application only -- so far as we can know -- to our own reality, to this universe to which we are restricted (so far).

We can't legitimately make the logical "jump" from "mathematics corresponds to the universe" to "our mathematics corresponds to ALL UNIVERSES," in the first place, and, in the second place, even within this universe, several forms of mathematical language are required to describe, understand, and predict features of reality.

We need to be more humble about epistemological matters, I believe.


that two.



(> b

* way back, i had a course in 'Axiomatic Logic'

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300913 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 12:48 PM
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We can't legitimately make the logical "jump" from "mathematics corresponds to the universe" to "our mathematics corresponds to ALL UNIVERSES," in the first place,...

I agree. I did say it was conjecture on my part.

...and, in the second place, even within this universe, several forms of mathematical language are required to describe, understand, and predict features of reality.

But typically I believe they are interrelated. Euclidean geometry is a special case of Riemannian geometry, I believe (I stopped my math at Complex Analysis...someone that continued on -like Loren- may be able to correct me there). Much as Newtonian mechanics are a special case of relativistic mechanics. Or a Taylor series is a special case of a MacLauren series. Etc.

No, it is not complete or infallible. If it were there would be nothing left for mathematicians to do. But where they prove fallible it seems (at least so far) that a new level is discovered which covers that and includes, as a subset, the special cases known previously (see above paragraph for examples).

We need to be more humble about epistemological matters, I believe.

What's not humble about saying we discovered it as opposed to we constructed it? I'd say claiming invention is "more" than claiming discovery/finding. We didn't invent fire, we discovered it. We harnessed it. But there was fire long before there was man.

We invented the language we use to describe math. But from a logic standpoint one plus one is two, regardless of whether you use binary (where 10 is not "ten" it is "one zero"), or whether there is anything/anyone around that can understand the concept of counting for that matter. Water is water. Agua. Wasser. Whatever. That's just language, but the "thing" exists independent of that language. Call it "bread" if you like, it's still the wet stuff that freezes at 0C and boils at 100C (at sea level) that composes most of our body's mass.

We didn't invent the parabola. Nor its properties. They existed independent of us, IMO. We discovered them, described them, and today some clever person figured out they are useful for sending and receiving wave-based transmissions (acoustic or EM).

If I understand Godel correctly, we cannot know everything in a formal system. And we don't. And perhaps quantum mechanics (or, more specifically, the mathematics behind it) is a manifestation of this in that we can never have complete knowledge of the workings of the universe. I don't see an inherent contradiction here with the notion that mathematics are a property of the universe. How else could they have such awesome predictive power if they weren't somehow interwoven with it?

1poorguy

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300918 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 1:13 PM
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We didn't invent the parabola. Nor its properties. They existed independent of us, IMO. We discovered them, described them, and today some clever person figured out they are useful for sending and receiving wave-based transmissions (acoustic or EM).

That's right. The universe exists, and it has properties. Including ways in which things move, relate, interact, etc. But those are properties only of our universe -- and properties of real, existing things.

The "parabola" doesn't exist independently of an actual parabola. A parabola is a relationship between an object and the space it inhabits. If the space an object inhabits were different from the space in our universe in some way, a parabola might not be a possible relationship.

We devised methods by which to explore our reality, and among those methods are formal language systems. It is no mystery that they largely conform to our reality -- they were devised to do exactly that. There's nothing supernatural about the relationship between Peano arithmetic and the fact that two apples placed next to two other apples will supply you with four apples. Peano arithmetic was devised as a shorthand method of describing that fact, and, not coincidentally it applies to all material objects of a certain description. It does not, interestingly, apply to certain measures of certain chemicals, however -- and we needed a new set of linguistic tools to help us describe that fact.

We are operating within a very specific local reality, and the rules by which things within that local reality work are themselves features of it. Whatever tools we may devise to understand those features are useful to the extent that they serve that purpose. When they fail us, we invent new tools.

Math is a language. That's all it is. Just like English or Dutch or Swahili. It is a formal system in the way that all formal systems are -- and it serves as a symbollic shorthand method of saying things quickly that English and Dutch and Swahili would take a very long time to say. An equation using symbols to represent concepts might be written on an 8x10 piece of paper. The exegesis of that equation, written in ordinary language, might require an entire book. That's why the tool is so useful. It allows us to see the relationships between certain kinds of ideas without resorting to the often cumbersome and problemmatic use of ordinary language, with all its definitional complexities, etc. Math obviates this need precisely by axiomatizing the definitions right at the start -- an oversimplification, of course, which results in the need for ever new symbollic, formal languages to describe ever new discoveries about the reality in which we live.

All formal systems include rules for relating symbols (syntax), definitions of terms, etc. Including ordinary language. We can shorthand ordinary language with formal logic in order to see relational truths about the use of reason -- but we should always remember that the manipulation of the symbols represents actual linguistic forms. "All A are B" is meaningless unless we know what "A" and "B" stand for -- what they represent. All language is representational, and what all languages represent is the reality in which we live, including its objects, its features, its context and the rules governing its behavior.

SLL

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300919 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 1:46 PM
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Math is a language. That's all it is.

<snip>

All formal systems include rules for relating symbols (syntax), definitions of terms, etc.


Yes. That makes sense. I would agree, with the caveat that its the symbols that are the language. I am not so sure that what the symbols describe are (e.g. I can see a parabola in my mind without the need for writing an equation, though the equation makes it more precise naturally). The relationships exist, even in the abstract. Or so it seems to me. So I'm not quite sure where you and I are diverging on our viewpoints here.

All language is representational, and what all languages represent is the reality in which we live, including its objects, its features, its context and the rules governing its behavior.

Again, yes. But how does this negate the notion that mathematics (logic/relationships, not the symbols y=x^2) are not some fundamental property of the universe?

1poorguy

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Author: DBAVelvet74 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300921 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 2:09 PM
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When you are hearing a new argument, admit that it is a new one or one that you have not worked through as thoroughly as the others.

I remember hearing a talk about how good public speakers deal with unexpected questions, especially questions they don't have an answer ready for.

The proper response is "That's a good question."

I almost snicker now anytime I hear someone use it, but if you do hear it, you will almost always get a long pause after it while they figure out what answer to give.

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300922 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 2:14 PM
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We didn't invent the parabola. Nor its properties. They existed independent of us, IMO. We discovered them, described them, and today some clever person figured out they are useful for sending and receiving wave-based transmissions (acoustic or EM).
----------
That's right. The universe exists, and it has properties. Including ways in which things move, relate, interact, etc. But those are properties only of our universe -- and properties of real, existing things.

The "parabola" doesn't exist independently of an actual parabola. A parabola is a relationship between an object and the space it inhabits. If the space an object inhabits were different from the space in our universe in some way, a parabola might not be a possible relationship.


actual parabolae Only exist in minds .. anything you draw will be mucked up by irregularities in the ink and paper. (pixelated on a computer screen)

*might* be the orbit of one body in a two-body system ..but there aren't and two-body systems*



-b
.... * 3d place in our 'craziest possible world' contest was a giant Avocado pit, orbited by a pea (a .true. ellipse!)

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Author: tenworlds Big gold star, 5000 posts 10+ Year Anniversary! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300926 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 2:50 PM
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Math is a language. That's all it is. Just like English or Dutch or Swahili. It is a formal system in the way that all formal systems are -- and it serves as a symbollic shorthand method of saying things quickly that English and Dutch and Swahili would take a very long time to say. An equation using symbols to represent concepts might be written on an 8x10 piece of paper. The exegesis of that equation, written in ordinary language, might require an entire book. That's why the tool is so useful. It allows us to see the relationships between certain kinds of ideas without resorting to the often cumbersome and problemmatic use of ordinary language, with all its definitional complexities, etc. Math obviates this need precisely by axiomatizing the definitions right at the start -- an oversimplification, of course, which results in the need for ever new symbollic, formal languages to describe ever new discoveries about the reality in which we live.
All formal systems include rules for relating symbols (syntax), definitions of terms, etc. Including ordinary language. We can shorthand ordinary language with formal logic in order to see relational truths about the use of reason -- but we should always remember that the manipulation of the symbols represents actual linguistic forms. "All A are B" is meaningless unless we know what "A" and "B" stand for -- what they represent. All language is representational, and what all languages represent is the reality in which we live, including its objects, its features, its context and the rules governing its behavior.
SLL

-----

Not being formally educated myownself, most of this stuff is beyond my ken, but I think I can grasp the generalities of the thing. Am I on the right track in stating that Kazim's caller is trying to define something into existence, or is it that he is taking liberties with definitions (epistomology) to make them describe, for all intents and purposes, something of his (or somebody's) invention(imagination)? Sort of trying to describe something that isn't there? And on top of that, there's no 'there' there either. (Not one that we have the ability to perceive anyway.)

The part I bolded above seems, to me, to explain why 'G-d' has all the attributes that we have. Even the Deist G-d, who supposedly started stuff then took off. 'Starting' something going, and 'leaving' are mostly attributes reflective of us (AFAIK). If G-d was this whole different 'thing' there would necessarily need to be a whole different (symbolic?) language to describe it.

Or something like that.






ten

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Author: sofaking6 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300928 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 2:51 PM
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That's right. The universe exists, and it has properties. Including ways in which things move, relate, interact, etc. But those are properties only of our universe -- and properties of real, existing things.

In fact, these are properties only of the sliver of our universe observable to us from Earth. We can only assume the universe is homogenous enough to make that a representative sliver.

6

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Author: Ziege19 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300929 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 2:52 PM
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actual parabolae

Now that's some fancy pluralizin right thar.

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300931 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 3:23 PM
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In going from 7A to 7B, his error is to reclassify logical principles as "thoughts." They're not "thoughts," though we do think about them. He even says so himself in 4C, stating that the logical principles would exist even without thinking. He does qualify 4C with "human" thoughts, but there's no reason at all for him to add that qualifier.

After reading this thread a few times, I still think this statement from Gus comes closest to encapsulating the problem with this argument.

I'm starting to circle around a good way to reply to this argument. I've been looking at the discussion between Sandy and 1poorguy about whether or not logic really relies on a mind to "exist" (whatever that means).

While I now recognize that Sandy might be right -- maybe logic isn't transcendent -- I can also see that it's likely to be a sticking point for someone like 1pg (who might also be right) if I attempt to argue that way. I'd like to avoid any argument that winds up hinging on whose definition is right. It's way too abstract for a live discussion, and I think ultimately it doesn't matter.

So let me look at it this way. Slick's own argument actually undercuts the claim that logic is transcendent. It says:

6. Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature
6A. Logic is a process of the mind.


Meh. If logic requires the context of a MIND to exist, then it's not really transcendent, is it? It still requires a carrier.

But in 4C is where he really pulls a sleight-of-hand:

Logical Absolutes are not dependent on people. That is, they are not the product of human thinking.

WaitwaitwaitWAAAAAIT a minute.

Slick singles out "humans" as special minds that CAN'T store logical absolutes. Why? With what justification? It seems to me that he's only using "human minds" as a special case of "minds" because if he said "Logical Absolutes are not dependent on people" then the whole argument wouldn't work.

We don't have any particular evidence of non-human minds, especially not any minds which exhibit Slick's magical property of being "absolutely perfect" (statement 7B) To assume that logic requires a mind, particularly a perfect one, is begging the question. Clearly logic exists, and we have not observed any perfect mind housing it -- to the extent that we've seen it housed, it's only in imperfect human minds.

So to recap: Slick says, without evidence, that logic requires a mind to exist (6A) but it can't be a human mind (4C) so it must be a perfect mind (7C). And furthermore, if everything else ceased to exist, logic would cease to exist unless housed in this perfect mind (4Cii: "If Logical Absolutes were the product of human minds, then they would cease to exist if people ceased to exist.")

So let's ask this question: If God ceased to exist, would logic cease to exist? According to Slick, yes. But then he's making the existence of logic contingent on the existence of a god that he proved to exist only by asserting that logic has to keep existing.

This is circular, isn't it? Or am I missing something?

Looking back at this post, it's still pretty rambly and it's not clear that I would be able to follow it if I hadn't already spent a few days on it. Still not sure if I'm barking up the right tree here.

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300932 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 3:25 PM
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Slick singles out "humans" as special minds that CAN'T store logical absolutes. Why? With what justification? It seems to me that he's only using "human minds" as a special case of "minds" because if he said "Logical Absolutes are not dependent on people" then the whole argument wouldn't work.

OCD:

It seems to me that he's only using "human minds" as a special case of "minds" because if he said "Logical Absolutes are not dependent on minds" then the whole argument wouldn't work.

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300933 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 3:30 PM
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actual parabolae

Now that's some fancy pluralizin right thar.



well ..i'm semi-famous for Makin Up my own grammers and spellunks



(> b


... this one i learned from the Goldrushes

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300934 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 3:30 PM
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Meh. If logic requires the context of a MIND to exist, then it's not really transcendent, is it? It still requires a carrier.

Not to muddy up the water too much, but to me this may (or may not!!) be akin to the ancient question "if a tree falls and there's no one there to hear it does it make a sound?". I say "yes" because the physics says it will.

Similarly, if a=b and b=c then a=c I would expect to hold whether or not a mind is present to process/verify it. Granted, it would be in the abstract. But is that relationship really dependent upon us (or any sentient) codifying it in some manner? Or does it simply exist as a property of the universe we inhabit?

Obviously I would take issue with 6A (at which point the rest of his argument becomes irrelevant to me).

1poorguy

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300935 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 3:36 PM
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Not to muddy up the water too much, but to me this may (or may not!!) be akin to the ancient question "if a tree falls and there's no one there to hear it does it make a sound?". I say "yes" because the physics says it will.

Presumably Matt Slick would say "yes" because God's mind hears it, hence invalidating the question.

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Author: TeraGram Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300936 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 3:39 PM
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t still requires a carrier.

Not to muddy up the water too much


Oh, good, because that's my job.

'Round these parts we talk about "chili sauce carriers". Water is not a good carrier, nope. Not at all. Beef? Great! Lamb! Excellent! Water, not so much.

If you need further questions on this topic answered, feel free to let 'em fly, though for some of the more complicated questions you may have to wait until I can ask He of the Glass-Lined Stomach (my dear fire-breathing spouse).

FTR, the chili sauce of preference is here: http://huyfong.com/frames/fr_oelek.htm


- T.

ps: also ftr, I used to consider myself somewhat ejumaketed but having read this thread from top to bottom (more than once I might add) well... let's just say I'm practicing my own stress-headache-cure technique, a-yup.

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300937 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 3:42 PM
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Presumably Matt Slick would say "yes" because God's mind hears it, hence invalidating the question.

Well, he's clearly insane (plus I don't accept 6A), so I can safely ignore his input. He can't assert God's mind by assuming it, or it does become circular.

Curious what you (and others) thought, not Slick. Doesn't matter if a mind is present, the tree will make a loud 'thud' when it hits the ground. But what about the transitive property? That's also more in line with your interest since that is logical (and mathematical). Does a mind have to exist for that property to hold?

1poorguy

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Author: jgc123 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300938 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 3:45 PM
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"So let's ask this question: If God ceased to exist, would logic cease to exist? According to Slick, yes. But then he's making the existence of logic contingent on the existence of a god that he proved to exist only by asserting that logic has to keep existing."

It almost sounds like you are applying the Euthyphro dilemma to logic instead of morality. "if god said that 'A is not A' would that mean that A is not A? If so, then logic itself is not 'transcendent'. It is changeable by the will of God.

If it cannot be that A can be A and not A, then logic does not depend on God for it's existence.

I don't understand what I just said but I am old enough not to be afraid of proving my stupidity.

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300940 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 3:53 PM
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It almost sounds like you are applying the Euthyphro dilemma to logic instead of morality. "if god said that 'A is not A' would that mean that A is not A? If so, then logic itself is not 'transcendent'. It is changeable by the will of God.

If it cannot be that A can be A and not A, then logic does not depend on God for it's existence.

I don't understand what I just said but I am old enough not to be afraid of proving my stupidity.


Actually I think it's pretty insightful.

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Author: benjd25 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300941 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 4:10 PM
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If God ceased to exist, would logic cease to exist? According to Slick, yes. But then he's making the existence of logic contingent on the existence of a god that he proved to exist only by asserting that logic has to keep existing.

Yes, he has a contradiction. If logic is dependent on God to exist, it is no longer absolute. It only exists in contexts where God has authored it. It's basically what I said in my previous post.

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Author: feedmeNOWhuman Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300945 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 5:37 PM
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If you say "outside of where God authored logic" then that is counter-factual because God is everywhere and always.


Except for when God is outside of time because he has knowledge of the future and past and present all at the same time, except it's not time because he's outside time. Except when he's inside time parting seas and burning bushes and finding lost car keys.

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Author: feedmeNOWhuman Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300947 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 5:43 PM
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But, since logical absolutes are always true everywhere and not dependent upon human minds, it must be an absolute transcendent mind is authoring them.


I asserted the bolded part above at CF recently, and someone asked if it was true inside a black hole. I had to think about it, but I have a feeling that inside a black hole might not be inside the universe. It might not even be a place. Anyone?

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300949 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 5:53 PM
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I've just been chatting online with Matt D, and we're cranking out a number of Objections that are clearly NOT addressed by section 8 in Slick's web page.

1. In every section he makes the case for "logical absolutes" being transcendent... except for section 6. In section 6, he says that "Logic is a process of the mind." Notice how he makes it look like he is talking about the same thing, but in fact he's not. If you plugged in "logical absolutes" for that statement, it wouldn't work. So he builds up one case but then draws a conclusion about something else entirely. Logic may be a process of the mind, but logical absolutes cannot be, without contradicting his earlier claims.

2. "God" is assumed to be immune from Slick's arguments. 8B says: "Logical Absolutes simply exist" and the response is: "This is begging the question and does not provide an explanation for their existence. Simply saying they exist is not an answer." Yet "God just exists" is assumed. Needless to say, this doesn't solve the problem, merely pushes it back to something that is not observed.

3. According to 7B, logical absolutes, being "perfect," can only be conceived by a perfect mind. But if this is the case, then Slick's own human mind should not be able to have a perfect thought, and therefore cannot recognize logical absolutes as being true.

4. (Euthyphro) If God said "A is not A" would the laws of logic change? If yes, then God is illogical. If no, then God is not the author of logic.

5. (Different wording of the above) In 4C, Why do you draw the conclusion that "Logical Absolutes are not dependent on people" rather than "Logical Absolutes are not dependent on minds"? You imply it's because people can have different opinions. Is God incapable of changing his mind? If so, then God is not the author of logical absolutes, but merely a conduit.

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Author: anattafool Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300951 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 6:15 PM
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It seems to me that he's only using "human minds" as a special case of "minds" because if he said "Logical Absolutes are not dependent on minds" then the whole argument wouldn't work.
-----------

Maybe he meant squid minds?

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Author: GusSmed Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300952 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 6:20 PM
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If God ceased to exist, would logic cease to exist? According to Slick, yes. But then he's making the existence of logic contingent on the existence of a god that he proved to exist only by asserting that logic has to keep existing.

This is circular, isn't it? Or am I missing something?


That's correct, it's circular.

Still not sure if I'm barking up the right tree here.

No, I think you're correct. The most basic problem with Slick's argument is that he says that absolutes require a mind to exist. Perfect mind or not, he's simply asserting that without any justification. It's a pretty silly assertion given that he's able to see that they can exist independent of human minds - why not independent of perfect minds as well?

- Gus

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Author: GusSmed Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300953 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 6:28 PM
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if god said that 'A is not A' would that mean that A is not A? If so, then logic itself is not 'transcendent'. It is changeable by the will of God.

If it cannot be that A can be A and not A, then logic does not depend on God for it's existence.


I think that's brilliant as well. The central problem remains that his assertion that a mind, perfect or not, is required for logic to exist. This is self-evidently a silly assertion for rational humans, but this argument points out that it's also self-contradictory.

- Gus

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300954 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 6:35 PM
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Again, yes. But how does this negate the notion that mathematics (logic/relationships, not the symbols y=x^2) are not some fundamental property of the universe?

The relationships are, indeed, a fundamental property of the universe. The logic, mathematics and linguistic systems we use to study those relationsips -- and all of the other properties of the universe -- are invented by man, and do not exist in some independent way.

The distinction I wish to draw is this (and it's a difficult one to put in words): Gravity is a fundamental feature of our universe. The mathematics which we have invented to describe gravity represent that feature in a manner which makes it comprehensible to us. Now, we can use mathematical symbols like 2 + 2 = 4, or we can also say, instead, in common language, "two plus two equals four." Note how efficient and short and tidy the first construction is, and how much more cumbersome the second. Both represent a fundamental feature of the universe, both express that feature equally truthfully, but neither of these IS the feature it represents.

The more complex a mathematical equation, the more cumbersome the ordinary language necessary to express it. But the math is only a stand-in for ordinary language. There is a linguistic equivalent for every single symbol in every mathematical equation. We could as truthfully express an equation in language as we can in math -- but the epxression would not be nearly as elegant, and certainly nowhere near as simple.

Now, if you wish to make the case that languages -- each language, whether linguistic, mathematic, logical, or the language in which whales or ants commuicate -- are themselves "features" of the universe, I would agree that they have become so, but only because, through evolution, creatures have developed means by which to communicate. But a parabola cannot have "existence" except as a feature of the actual, real, tangible universe. There is no "platonic" parabolic "form." You can form a mental image of a parabola because you have seen objects describe a parabolic motion, or you have seen a diagram of such a motion in a book. The parabolic motion of some objects under certain conditions is clearly a feature of our universe, but the abstraction "parabola" is not a real thing. "2 + 2 = 4" is a feature of the universe in precisely the same way that a history text is a feature of the universe. Both are artifacts of man, both describe -- to the best ability of the describer -- facts about reality, and to the extent both accurately represent reality, they have positive truth value and are useful in understanding the nature of the universe.

The concepts of "addition," or "multiplication," or "square roots" have as their foundations the existence of the material world, in which objects arrive to our senses in multiples, are available to be counted (and we capable of inventing the idea of counting them in the first place.) What meaning would "number" have in a non-material world? There can be no relationships in the abstract -- only real relationships, though we can use our observations of the relationships between real objects to generalize about the way the universe works. That job -- generalizing from observations, making inferences, even just counting -- is done by us with the languages we have invented to manipulate observations.

You have a Platonic urge -- the urge to think of mathematics as representing something more mysterious, more romantic than merely observed phenomena. It is one of the most important workhorses of science. But observation is more fundamental still -- and itself forms the basis for the languages -- including math -- we have invented to record, explore, understand and communicate those observations.

Math is a way of generalizing from the particular -- of discovering how the universe thinks. It is not the universe's "thinking." It is no more an expression of the universe than is Michaelangelo's David -- both are human artifacts. But if you will hold that everything that emerges in this universe is (and I'm comfortable with this argument) itself a "feature," then languages, too, are features of the universe. It's just that there's no difference in quality between a "mathematical truth" and any other kind. True is true, and to say that "John is a man" in a true way is to make the very same kind of claim that one makes when one asserts that "two plus two equals four," except that the first is specific to John and the second generalizes to all material objects having the property of being "countable."

SLL

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300955 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 6:39 PM
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actual parabolae Only exist in minds .. anything you draw will be mucked up by irregularities in the ink and paper. (pixelated on a computer screen)

Ah, you mean the "ideal" parabola. Yes -- that's a "feature" of some particular human minds.

Rather like the "ideal sexy guy," which is a feature of my own. And which, like the "ideal parabola," almost certainly fails to exist in reality. Though Alan Rickman comes close. At least, at this distance. <G>

* 3d place in our 'craziest possible world' contest was a giant Avocado pit, orbited by a pea (a .true. ellipse!)

Okay, that actually sounds more like the 3rd place placer of the "craziest possible student" contest. Or perhaps the "dumbest possible world" contest.

SLL

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300956 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 6:52 PM
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Not being formally educated myownself, most of this stuff is beyond my ken, but I think I can grasp the generalities of the thing. Am I on the right track in stating that Kazim's caller is trying to define something into existence, or is it that he is taking liberties with definitions (epistomology) to make them describe, for all intents and purposes, something of his (or somebody's) invention(imagination)? Sort of trying to describe something that isn't there? And on top of that, there's no 'there' there either. (Not one that we have the ability to perceive anyway.)

Ten, my dear, that's exactly right, even if the language is a little imprecise.

Platonists want to define things like 'THE parabola' into existence, things like 'THE yellow,' things like, 'THE cocker spaniel.' There is no ultimate abstraction of "cocker spaniel," anymore than there's an ultimate abstraction of "parabola," except as a generalization from all parabolas and all cocker spaniels.

When people encounter certain kinds of consistencies in the way the universe operates, they have this seemingly irresistible urge to assume a kind of magic about it -- to assume that, for instance, it can't POSSIBLY be a coincidence that all observable triangles have the exact same number of degrees of their interior angles as every other observable triangle. And of course, it ISN'T a coincidence. It's just part of what makes a triangle a triangle and not something else.

And the same urge is at work with those who postulate gods to explain the seeming "coincidences" of our observations and the ways in which we express them. "Wow! This is the ten thousandth triangle whose interior angles I've measured, and their sum is always the same! That can't be a coincidence. It can't just have HAPPENED. Something had to MAKE it happen! It's just too weird to be explained any other way."

It's precisely the same mistake as thinking that because mathematical truths describe our universe, they must describe, as well, all possible universes, or that the laws of logic which govern our reality and the manner in which reason produces truth in our universe must be applicable in any possible universe.

People like magic. It's romantic. It's thrilling. But it just ain't so.

There is no "relationship among the interior angles of a triangle" which exists apart from actual triangles. Those actual triangles are what MAKE that relationship, not the other way around. There wasn't a relationship FIRST, and then a triangle. That's the source, in a way, of the confusion many exhibit about the power of mathematics.

SLL

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Author: GusSmed Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300957 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 7:03 PM
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4. (Euthyphro) If God said "A is not A" would the laws of logic change? If yes, then God is illogical. If no, then God is not the author of logic.

He'd have to destroy his common sense particle first. Everyone knows you can't have Tea and No Tea simultaneously until you destroy your common sense particle.

- Gus

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300959 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 7:08 PM
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In fact, these are properties only of the sliver of our universe observable to us from Earth. We can only assume the universe is homogenous enough to make that a representative sliver.

Another important point. It's unlikely that the laws of motion and matter we observe locally DON'T apply to the most distant reaches of our universe, but I'm not confident we can be absolutely sure of that. Our infereces that they do are predictions, of necessity, based upon observation of our neighborhood of "reality," which is all of "reality" we (so far) experience directly.

Telescopes have increased astonishingly in power, but we also have to remember that when we look through them, we are observing the past. We have no idea -- nor any way of discovering -- what's going on as we speak in most of our galaxy, much less in the universe as a whole.

SLL

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300960 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 7:14 PM
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Not to muddy up the water too much, but to me this may (or may not!!) be akin to the ancient question "if a tree falls and there's no one there to hear it does it make a sound?". I say "yes" because the physics says it will.

Imprecise. It will make "sound waves." For those waves to be translated into "a sound," there must be a receiver.

See, everything depends upon definition and precise language in philosophical discussion. If what you mean by "a sound" is merely "sound waves," yeah, there there. But there's no loud "bang" except in something's ear. Could be a bunny rabbit. Can termites hear?

I draw a distinction between the sound and the waves which produce it. So, I think, do most scientists.

SLL

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300961 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 7:18 PM
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Similarly, if a=b and b=c then a=c I would expect to hold whether or not a mind is present to process/verify it. Granted, it would be in the abstract. But is that relationship really dependent upon us (or any sentient) codifying it in some manner? Or does it simply exist as a property of the universe we inhabit?

Now, this is less problemmatic, because it asserts that, regardless of what "a," "b," and "c" refer to, the relationship claimed will hold -- and that is true, even if no mind exists to notice it.

I would not be true, however, were there no material objects or relationships for the symbols "a," "b," and "c" and the functions "if," "and," and "equals" to represent. That truth is valid in all cases in our universe, but only because it describes a feature of our universe. Again, it's descriptive; it's not proscriptive. It states a fact about reality -- it does not CREATE that fact.

SLL

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Author: rmhj Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300963 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 8:09 PM
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I asserted the bolded part above at CF recently, and someone asked if it was true inside a black hole. I had to think about it, but I have a feeling that inside a black hole might not be inside the universe. It might not even be a place. Anyone?

I've made random postings about this, but as far as physics is concerned, crossing the event horizon puts you in a different universe. Time is different there, and there's no way that you can cross back into this universe. Aside from that, physics doesn't have much to say about the "inside" of a black hole -- from the outside, all of its properties are inherent in the event horizon itself (mass, spin, charge, size).

rj

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300964 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 8:55 PM
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actual parabolae Only exist in minds .. anything you draw will be mucked up by irregularities in the ink and paper. (pixelated on a computer screen)

Ah, you mean the "ideal" parabola. Yes -- that's a "feature" of some particular human minds.


no i mean actual ones ..that fit the Equation.

all the ones in nature are mere approximations.


.... like Alan Rickman.


(>:

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Author: sandyleelee Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300965 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 9:02 PM
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Ah, you mean the "ideal" parabola. Yes -- that's a "feature" of some particular human minds.


no i mean actual ones ..that fit the Equation.


Well, darling, where do I go to see an ideal parabola? Is there some science museum displaying one? A laboratory?

I've never seen an ideal anything, now I come to think of it. Nor heard, tasted, smelled or touched one. Is there some other sense by which you observe this "actual" ideal parabola? By what means have you recognized it?

You Platonist, you.

SLL

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300967 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 9:44 PM
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See, everything depends upon definition and precise language in philosophical discussion. If what you mean by "a sound" is merely "sound waves," yeah, there there. But there's no loud "bang" except in something's ear. Could be a bunny rabbit. Can termites hear?

I draw a distinction between the sound and the waves which produce it. So, I think, do most scientists.



'ear', 'brain', 'nervous system'

insects can sense the waves ...without ears


(>:

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300968 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 9:48 PM
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.no i mean actual ones ..that fit the Equation.

Well, darling, where do I go to see an ideal parabola? Is there some science museum displaying one? A laboratory?



only within your mind. and only if you're 'mathematically imaginative enough.

museums and labs only have better approximations.


same with straight lines and triangles and ellipses and circles and squares


(>:

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Author: Kazim Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300970 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/18/2009 11:59 PM
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He'd have to destroy his common sense particle first. Everyone knows you can't have Tea and No Tea simultaneously until you destroy your common sense particle.

Cheers to you for working in a very, very, VERY obscure Douglas Adams reference.

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Author: tenworlds Big gold star, 5000 posts 10+ Year Anniversary! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300975 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/19/2009 7:05 AM
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Ten, my dear, that's exactly right, even if the language is a little imprecise.
-----

Kewl. Thanks.

Nice to know my struggles just to keep up aren't entirely in vain!

:-)





ten

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Author: tenworlds Big gold star, 5000 posts 10+ Year Anniversary! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300976 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/19/2009 7:16 AM
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See, everything depends upon definition and precise language in philosophical discussion. If what you mean by "a sound" is merely "sound waves," yeah, there there. But there's no loud "bang" except in something's ear.
-----

It's amazing what a few imprecise keystrokes can do to the flow and continuity of a sentence.


mmmmmmmhmhmmmmmmmhmmmmmmhmhmmmmmmSCREEEEECH! wha...?






;-)

ten

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300983 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/19/2009 11:03 AM
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The relationships are, indeed, a fundamental property of the universe. The logic, mathematics and linguistic systems we use to study those relationsips -- and all of the other properties of the universe -- are invented by man, and do not exist in some independent way.

The distinction I wish to draw is this (and it's a difficult one to put in words): Gravity is a fundamental feature of our universe. The mathematics which we have invented to describe gravity represent that feature in a manner which makes it comprehensible to us.


It is difficult to put into words, I agree. But I'm not sure I agree (still), though I do understand your distinction. I would agree that the language of mathematics is a human construct. If extraterrestrials were to show up on the White House lawn someday I think we would find they use a completely different language of mathematics, but the math itself would be the same. It would have to be to be useful.

And, no, I don't believe I am appealing to magic here. I do not regard mathematics as magic in any way (nor romantic nor mystical)...my assertion is that the underlying principles behind the symbols are a fundamental part of the universe; and that's why we can describe them so successfully, and that's also why they exhibit such predictive power. It's no more magical than the principle that any object with mass has gravity. Consider that Einstein's theory of GR was not testable for over half a century. It was "just math". But it turned out to be predictive and correct. Mathematicians continually are churning out new things which very often end up describing something real. Taken to the extreme I once read an assertion (that I still don't entirely agree with) that we only need math, we don't need experiments because they always prove-out the math anyway.

I'm not sure I've made it any clearer at all, sandy. I thought about getting into quantum numbers, but decided that may further confuse an already-difficult topic to verbalize. This is interesting stuff to think about.

1poorguy

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300986 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/19/2009 11:17 AM
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It states a fact about reality -- it does not CREATE that fact.

I agree. So somehow we are looking at this slightly differently. The transitive property is descriptive, but it's also a property of the universe. We seem to agree on that. So I'm not sure how we disagree here. But apparently we do(?).

And eventually this gets back to where Kazim was...the transitive property is both logical and mathematical (which is why I dragged it into the discussion). Logic and math seem to go hand-in-hand. So are they properties of the universe, or are they dependent on a mind somewhere to exist?

1pg (would have enjoyed phil of science a LOT more if we had gotten into this sort of discussion...I should find my old prof and slap him...)

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Author: centromere Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 300990 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/19/2009 11:41 AM
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Again, it's descriptive; it's not proscriptive. It states a fact about reality -- it does not CREATE that fact.

How do you know?

Were the relationships we now call logic and math created at the time of the Big Bang or did the Big Bang occur because of preexisting rules that we now call logic and math?

If the former then you are correct, logic/math are descriptive approximations of reality. If the latter, then logic/math determine reality.

This is a bit of an oversimplification but I think those that advocate the multiverse generally believe the former and those searching for the grand unifying theory (and most theists) believe the latter.

But I don't think anyone really knows the answer.

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Author: MDGluon Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 301025 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/19/2009 1:19 PM
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He'd have to destroy his common sense particle first. Everyone knows you can't have Tea and No Tea simultaneously until you destroy your common sense particle.

Cheers to you for working in a very, very, VERY obscure Douglas Adams reference.


Could also be a inference/reference to Terry Prachett's diskworld; i.e. the Science of Diskworld I and II where we poor roundworlders exist inside a captured universe at the Unseen University. We have no observable Dietium particles/elements which means "No dieties".

Not sure if we have any commonsensium either.

Being we live on a dangerous rock which gets whacked regularly with other rocks....damn undergrads and thier games.

md (memory fuzzy on the Hitchhikers series)

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Author: GusSmed Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 301029 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/19/2009 1:28 PM
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Kazim got it right. I was referencing a particular joke in the Infocom Hitchhiker's Guide adventure game. It is very obscure, but we've discussed the game in the past and I knew he'd get the joke.

- Gus

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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 301179 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/20/2009 3:52 PM
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VUCommodore: "In any case, I'll gladly stipulated that people disagree about morality, but I think that does absolutely nothing to suggest that there is no such thing as absolute, authoritative morality. That type of argument just doesn't work, as can be made obvious with an example: I think that the Christian God exists. My coworker believes that the set of Hindu gods exist, and not the Christian one. You believe that no gods exist. This does not mean that theology is relative, it means that at least two of us are wrong."

Or perhaps all three?

Regards, JAFO

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Author: VUCommodore Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 301391 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/23/2009 8:09 AM
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"Or perhaps all three?"

Certainly possible, hence "at least two".

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Author: crassfool Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 301921 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/25/2009 9:01 PM
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Sandy Lee Lee says

"Schrödinger, be it noted, constructed his cat-experiment as a protest against the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum uncertainty."

True, but subsequent research indicates that there really is a good deal of quantum uncertainty. At least, at the epistemological level, which is uncertainty enough for me.

And I believe Schrödinger eventually accepted it. And as his cat-experiment indicated, it is meaningful at the macro scale, not just among the wee little quarkies. Someone once made a calculation about a totally classical experiment: a billiards table and a set of balls initially set in motion on well-defined trajectories. Let the table and balls be as physically perfect as you like, and let there be no friction so the balls just keep on rolling and bumping and bouncing, all according to classical physics. But if you apply Heisenberg's principle to the experiment, it turns out that within a couple of days quantum uncertainty makes the positions and motions of the balls completely unpredictable.


There really are propositions which our formal systems are inadequate to express with truth-value accuracy. We may be able to express them, but we may not be able to assess their truth value -- and that inability is inherent in the system itself, not necessarily in the human mind.

A good example of this is the manner in which human beings can recognize the truth of Godel's Theorem despite the fact that the theorem proves that you cannot prove its truth. Now, I agree, THAT one can hurt the head a little until you grasp its meaning -- but I think it shows the extent to which no formal system can fully and adequately describe even this seemingly reasonably well-ordered reality we're living in.

I find it all very comforting.

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Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/25/2009 9:07 PM
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Sandy Lee Lee says

"Me, I'm a Platonist when it comes to math. (Kurt Goedel was too.)

"I don't know how I really make sense of it, but any other view winds up hurting too much."

Silly boy. It doesn't hurt at all.

Picture, if you will, a universe in which everything is in flux. There may be no life forms whatever, but objects form, dissolve and reform, merge with other objects, separate, in constant motion in, say, a 12-dimensional space/time matrix. Nothing is permanent enough to "count." Nothing is individual -- everything is fleeting. Nothing has sufficient independence to be distinguished from anything else. In what sense would math have meaning in such a reality?

Now, privately, I doubt such a reality can exist. But I can't know that, any more than I can know that a reality may exist in which nothing ever decays or combines or merges or even moves. What meaning would math have in THAT reality?

I don't think about the "meaning" of mathematics, any more than I think about the meaning of hydrogen. I can easily imagine mathematics existing in a universe totally devoid of anything else at all. It would be exactly the same mathematics.


Math is a tool used to describe the reality in which we live, the one we experience, and the one where our brains formed evolutionarily for the purpose of perceiving our reality in a manner sufficient to allow us to survive. It may or may not have application to other possible "realities."

That is a use of math, but it's not what math is, in my view.

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 301943 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/26/2009 12:32 AM
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I don't think about the "meaning" of mathematics,

••••

Math is a tool used to describe the reality in which we live,

That is a use of math, but it's not what math is, in my view.



i have thought about the meaning of 'mathematics' ..and think it's just a language , ie a certain kind of tool for communicating descriptions of certain kinds of things.

maybe that's the influence of the Sqirrels

i can't imagine a universe with Nothing but math. i can't imagine a language without some sort of mind. i can imagine a universe of nothing but Angels ,who may or may not know any math.


-b
...or maybe the bias derives from my MA thesis.

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Author: HoracePuckey Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 301951 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/26/2009 1:04 AM
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Math is a tool used to describe the reality in which we live,

That is a use of math, but it's not what math is, in my view.

i have thought about the meaning of 'mathematics' ..and think it's just a language , ie a certain kind of tool for communicating descriptions of certain kinds of things.

maybe that's the influence of the Sqirrels

i can't imagine a universe with Nothing but math. i can't imagine a language without some sort of mind. i can imagine a universe of nothing but Angels ,who may or may not know any math.


-b
...or maybe the bias derives from my MA thesis.

I claim that Math is not arithmetic, not algebra, not calculus, etc, but math is what one does with those tools.

Horace

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 301952 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/26/2009 1:14 AM
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...or maybe the bias derives from my MA thesis.

I claim that Math is not arithmetic, not algebra, not calculus, etc, but math is what one does with those tools.



"what one does"?


like 'music' is what one does with a tool like a Clarinet?

like 'eat' is what one does with a Donut?

like 'hammer' is what one does with a hammer?



i don't understand.



=

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Author: HoracePuckey Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 301954 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/26/2009 1:21 AM
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like 'hammer' is what one does with a hammer?

i don't understand.

You are not literal enough. Carpentry is what one does with a hammer.

Horace

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Author: 0x6a74 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 301955 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/26/2009 2:09 AM
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i don't understand.

-------
You are not literal enough. Carpentry is what one does with a hammer.



i sit corrected.

but remain confused.


=

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Author: jgc123 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 301963 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/26/2009 9:09 AM
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ox: "i have thought about the meaning of 'mathematics' ..and think it's just a language , ie a certain kind of tool for communicating descriptions of certain kinds of things."

That still sounds right to me. If there were no time and no space and no things at all, what would 2 plus 2 mean?



ox: " I can't imagine a universe with Nothing but math. i can't imagine a language without some sort of mind. i can imagine a universe of nothing but Angels ,who may or may not know any math."

My imagination has similar limiatations. What would math describe in a universe of nothingness?

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 302050 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/26/2009 2:15 PM
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If there were no time and no space and no things at all, what would 2 plus 2 mean?

If 2 plus 2 were somehow a part of the fabric of space-time, then if there were not space and no time then clearly 2 plus 2 would evaporate as well.

1pg

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Author: crassfool Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 302059 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/26/2009 2:38 PM
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0x6a74 says

i have thought about the meaning of 'mathematics' ..and think it's just a language , ie a certain kind of tool for communicating descriptions of certain kinds of things.

But so much of math is completely unnecessary for describing physical reality. For example, irrational numbers. They are an abstraction that results from certain operations on rational numbers, like taking the square root of 2. Without any knowledge of irrational numbers, you can compute the square root of 2 to any desired precision. Now, in that example you don't really know what a square root IS, but that's of concern only inside of mathematics.

... and if space itself has a quantum "granularity" then irrational numbers don't correspond to anything in nature!

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Author: crassfool Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 302060 of 441147
Subject: Re: Transcendental argument Date: 2/26/2009 2:41 PM
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