Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The principle of noncontradiction

The principle of non-contradiction is not a provisional postulate, it is a necessary truth based in reality. If it isn't, we are screwed. Our science is about cloud cuckoo land, not reality. Logic is ontologically prior to the material world. Reality is fundamentally intelligible, and at the foundation of everything is a rational, not a material explanation. Even the philosopher Thomas Nagel, who is careful to avoid any theistic implications for this line of reasoning, realizes this. 

If you say we agree to the convention, that implies we could have done otherwise. We can't. We bump up against reality, not our own rules, when we do so. When we agree to conventions, we could have done otherwise. When we are facing reality, we cannot do otherwise without, well, scraping ourselves against reality.

30 comments:

John Moore said...

Logic is not prior to the material world, but it's an integral part of the material world. Logic is just prior to our understanding of the material world. There's a big difference between the world and our understanding of the world.

Victor Reppert said...

But the laws of logic hold in possible worlds in which there are no material objects. If there is a world in which God exists, and God does not create matter, it still cannot be the case that God exists and does not exist. If logic were a part of the material world, this would not be the case.

For something to be really material, it has to be lacking in logic. Otherwise, you can build enough into the concept of matter to include God himself. In which case I would be happy to join the crew of materialists. It will be up to you guys to kick me out.

Joe Hinman said...

You could have a world in which all God does is hold matter together such that God = strong force. In such a world logic still applies e en tough everything apart from God is matter.

I have discovered that none really knows what matter is, Matter is energy what is energy? people give labels like "electrons" but when challenged to say what they are made of they don't know they just give names but the names just mean "more energy." Materialism, is really a sham.


btw see my article on Metacrock's blog frmmy old academic Journal i used to Run (Negatioons) it;s on Schweitzer and The Death of Civilization

John Moore said...

In a world without material objects, it's meaningless to say 1+1=2. It's meaningless to say triangles have 3 sides. It's meaningless to say a thing that exists does not not-exist, because no things exist.

Oh, is God a thing? If so, then maybe logic can exist without material objects. But you can't use the one as evidence for the other. That would be circular logic.

Two definitions of logic:

a) It's the fundamental underlying structure of space-time that determines how mass-energy changes.
b) It's a set of rules we use in our minds to predict how we will see mass-energy changing.

Type (a) logic is prior to type (b) logic.

You yourself wrote that the principle of non-contradiction is "based in reality," which I interpret as the fundamental structure of space-time. So logic wouldn't exist in a world without space-time. And the theory of relativity suggests that space-time itself can't exist without matter-energy.

Yes, I'm assuming materialism and defining logic to suit my assumptions, but you do the same thing when you assume theism and define logic your way. It's just two different perspectives, and neither can prove the other wrong.

What does it mean for something to be lacking in logic? A rock exists within space-time, so maybe it "has" type (a) logic. But a rock has no mind, so it certainly lacks type (b) logic. Is the rock "really material" or not?

Hugo Pelland said...

Victor, John, this is about the primacy of consciousness vs primacy of material existence, which I brought up here a few times over the years :)

Victor always assumes consciousness exists, John assumes the material world exist, and you both go on with your deductions from there.

And Victor is wrong imho...

John Mitchell said...

"In a world without material objects, it's meaningless to say 1+1=2. It's meaningless to say triangles have 3 sides. It's meaningless to say a thing that exists does not not-exist, because no things exist."

Horrible...

Victor Reppert said...

Hugo, if you assume the primacy of the material, you may or not get to the mental. And if you define as I suggested above, I maintain you won't. And if there is no mental, then even if there is a physical world, no one knows that there is. A world without the material is perfectly coherently possible. A world without aw mind might exist, but no one could possibly know that it does. That is why the mind is primary.

Hugo Pelland said...

Correct, if we assume the primacy of the material, we may not get to the mental. But we do. I have no problem with the theory that the mental is entirely a consequence of the material. What else is the mental if not humans' conceptual representation of the material world?

Hugo Pelland said...

*** that's kind of long; posting separately ***

That's actually what James Moore explained, but James Mitchell found horrible. If we assume the material first:
it's meaningless to say 1+1=2. It's meaningless to say triangles have 3 sides. It's meaningless to say a thing that exists does not not-exist, because no things exist.

This is axiomatically true, because we start with the assumption that the material does exist. It does not match your definition, I agree. Because yours does in fact assume the primacy of consciousness.

If we assume the non-material (or mental) first: the laws of logic hold in possible worlds in which there are no material objects. This is axiomatically true, because we start with the assumption that the mental does exist, independently & regardless of the material world.

So why is the primacy of existence preferable? It actually starts with something that 'is' and not with something that is 'not'; because the mental is just that, not-material. The assumption does not say what it is, just that it does exist.

Now, why is it tempting to use the primacy of consciousness? Because of what you just said, among other things:

- And if there is no mental, then even if there is a physical world, no one knows that there is.
-- Correct. That's how the physical world was before any animal had any mental activity, before there were any humans basically nor any less complex animals capable of pseudo-reasoning.

- A world without the material is perfectly coherently possible.
-- Not if you start with the primacy of the material. It works for you because you already assumed the mental, i.e. the non-material. Moreover I would argue that no, it is not coherent at all to have a world without the material.

I will add one more counter-argument to grill that point more; hopefully it's not a strawman:
- I think therefore I am. I know I exist because I think. My consciousness is real to me regardless of the existence of an external reality.
--That seems so tempting, but the fact is that we cannot even think of something that would be purely non-material. That's why we can only say non-material in the first place. What we think of are bits and pieces of material things, because the mental is nothing more than the brain remembering what it experienced and combining these building blocks into almost seemingly infinite combinations.

Mortal said...

In a world without material objects, it's meaningless to say 1+1=2. It's meaningless to say triangles have 3 sides. It's meaningless to say a thing that exists does not not-exist, because no things exist.

This comment fascinates me. One could take it as support for the Nicene Creed's "Creator of all things visible and invisible." If mathematics and logic have no meaning absent a material world, then God actually is the creator of those (invisible) things, alongside our material universe.

Hal said...

And if you define as I suggested above, I maintain you won't.

I see little reason for accepting your definitions.

A world without the material is perfectly coherently possible.

It doesn't seem so to me. I can't imagine what such a world would be like. What does a mind think of in such a world? Even idealists who deny the existence of the material world have to populate it with mental things that look and feel and taste and sound like material things.

We do know that the universe existed for a time without any beings capable of thinking. And observing the diversity of living things provides some clues as to how beings with the capacity to think evolved.

Aron Zavaro said...

Even the sentence "The principle of non-contradiction is not a provisional postulate" requires you to adopt the law of noncontradiction as a necessary truth. That sentence is being proposed as a TRUTH, and as a denial of any contradictory sentences.

Victor Reppert said...

I don't believe that the universe ever existed without a thinking being. I am a theist.

Victor Reppert said...

Look, you have to define the material by DELETING the mental. You can't even give an account of what the material is, without using what is called the via negativa. Look at this definition:

physical substance in general, as distinct from mind and spirit; (in physics) that which occupies space and possesses rest mass, especially as distinct from energy.

So, I can't start with the material. Quite the contrary, in order to know what the material is unless you know what the mental is, and state that, at least on the basic level, the mental isn't there.

Hal said...

I don't believe that the universe ever existed without a thinking being. I am a theist.

I'm talking about the things that exist in this universe. One can certainly be a theist and still accept the fact that it took a long time before beings capable of thought came into existence.


Look, you have to define the material by DELETING the mental. You can't even give an account of what the material is, without using what is called the via negativa.

Certainly one can distinguish between mental objects and material objects. In the same way, one can distinguish between living substances and non-living substances. That doesn't entail accepting your position that the mental is ontologically prior to the material.

The mental depends on the material. It is only because we have material bodies that we can can sense and experience the world we live in. It is only because we have material bodies that we can express our thoughts and share them with others.

Hugo Pelland said...

Victor,
You got this backward in my opinion. I don't define the material by deleting the mental; it's the mental that is defined as non-material under the primacy of material existence. This was one of the point I made above. Again, what is the mental if not a representation of the material?

Under the assumption of the primacy of consciousness however, you already have a mental existence to start with, and you then define the material as something else. But you run into the same issues: what is the mental in that case? How can you even discuss the mental without referring to the material? Your assumption requires that you are able to describe the mental, but you do so in material terms because you and I are material people. How can you, as a human being, discuss the mental without referring to the material?

In other words, that's the big problem here I think: you cannot ignore what we know about the world we live in when it comes to philosophical discussions. We know a lot about how humans think, how the universe works, and how we came to be what we are. Therefore, stating that you don't believe the universe ever existed without a thinking being is nothing more than stating your belief in God without justification; it's unconvincing. In reality, we know that there was a time when no human beings existed and thus no human minds at all, yet material existence did exist. With that knowledge in hand, it makes perfect sense that minds came to be part of that material universe as material observers able to conceptualize what they perceive, creating building blocks for more concepts, which are used to think of so many different things, both purely material and mental, but always using material building blocks as an ontological basis.

Hal said the same basically but he's better at being brief!

Victor Reppert said...

Well, what is it for something to be material? Is occupation of space enough, or do you need something else? Do you need some reference to laws?

Mortal said...

Is occupation of space enough, or do you need something else?

You need "stuff" - tangible, solid, stuff. Not dependent on whether anyone knows it's there, but in and of itself "there".

Hugo Pelland said...

From our point of view, as material human beings, it's what we perceive with our senses. Then, when thinking about what it means 'to exist', we can try the primacy of existence: let's assume that what we perceive truly is a base reality. Can we then get to justifying our mental existence? Absolutely, as our mental existence is nothing more than the conceptualization of that material world we assume exists.

Victor Reppert said...

Material objects, by definition, obey the laws of matter. The laws of physics are definable in terms which make reference to what kinds of beliefs will produce the truth. Whether I will form beliefs in accordance with those principles which will produce true beliefs reliably or not is not specified in the basic-level description. So, how can truthful reasoning be given a purely physical description.

A mentalistic world can be simply a world with God in it and no creatures. That is coherently possible. Are you saying that a God who never creates a world is logically impossible?

Hugo Pelland said...

The laws of matter were built by humans to describe material objects' behavior. That's why they are approximation, even when we call them laws; Newton's laws being the prime example given that they were replaced by relativity principles, which in turn might get refined with some other explanations.

I genuinely don't understand what a 'mentalistic world' world means given that the only 'mental' I know of is what I keep describing as a 'representation of the material world'. Again, how can you even talk about mental stuff without any reference to the material world? or how can you do any kind of truthful reasoning?

And no, I am not saying that a God who never creates a world is logically impossible, because we could have a material God creating a material universe. That's one logical option. It's not the God you believe in, I know, but for something to be logically possible, we just need one valid option, and we do have one in this case.

Hal said...

Material objects, by definition, obey the laws of matter.

Not sure why you would think that. Do you not believe in miracles? Do you not think the water that was turned into wine by Jesus was a material object?



Hal said...

A mentalistic world can be simply a world with God in it and no creatures. That is coherently possible. Are you saying that a God who never creates a world is logically impossible?

What is a "mentalistic world"? Did God create it? If so, then I don't see how that supports your claim that it is logically possible for God to never create a world.

Victor Reppert said...

A mentalistic world might include God alone. But it also could include created spirit beings.

Hugo Pelland said...

But how can you, a human being, talk about spirit beings that are not material? What are they, besides 'not' material? Again, the mental experience we have, as far as I can tell, is entirely based on the experience of the material world we had. What would spirit being experience? What does 'thinking' even mean for them?

Take a more specific example: what does a triangle mean for them? Is it a shape with 3 sides? But then what is a side when you don't have shapes to refer to, or what is 3 when you don't have material things to refer to to explain the convention that is the number 3?

The question of the laws of physic was directly related to that. Your definition of what the laws are was inaccurate. They are not about what's 'true', they are about describing things.

Hal said...

The principle of non-contradiction is not a provisional postulate, it is a necessary truth based in reality.

It is a rule. Rules are neither true or false. Like other rules of logic it is partly constitutive of what it means to think and reason.


A mentalistic world might include God alone.

That doesn't really explain what a mentalistic world is. Are you saying that God has to live in a mentalistic world? Earlier you said that God need not create any worlds. What is this mentalistic world God has created?

Victor Reppert said...

Nobody seems to have defined material.

A mentalistic world is a world in which mental explanations are fundamental explanations.

Think about biological explanations, which might include teleology. These are considered naturalistic because they are not basic explanations. But if there is a mental explanation, naturalism requires that it not be a fundamental explanation.

Hugo Pelland said...

I did actually, the material is:
From our point of view, as material human beings, it's what we perceive with our senses.

It's not deleting the mental, it's embracing the fact that the mental comes as a consequence of this experience.

The mental is a basic explanation because you assume that the mental is a base existence. But why don't you even try to consider the material as a base existence?

You might find a flaw, and I would love to hear it.
But so far I have never ever heard any, and I do see flaws in the primacy of consciousness, as expressed above.

Victor Reppert said...

You use the term material to define it. That doesn't define anything. If I didn't know what material meant to begin with, I still don't know.

Hugo Pelland said...

This is bizarre honestly. Here we are, we are all people who can smell, touch, taste, hear, see things, or at least some of these 5 things; basically we are all humans with bodies and these bodies are experiencing things, sensing things. We can interact using these same senses and, because of thousands of generations of humans before us, have really efficient tools to do so. Through these interactions, we can agree not only on labels to describe what we perceive directly with our senses but also on labels that are used to describe things we can only think about, and not perceive with our senses: material things and mental things. The labels we use to make a difference between what we perceive outside of our body versus what we think of, inside our private mental palace, our mind.

So what's wrong with saying that from our point of view, as human beings, the material is what we perceive with our senses? I even re-arranged the words a bit to make it clear that it's not actually using the word material to define the material...

Moreover, what is the mental anyway in your world? Was that it: "For something to be really material, it has to be lacking in logic."