Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Evidence and logic are always inadequate and nearly-always wrong (and, the importance of 'patient brooding')

Modern man is convinced that evidence and logic are not only the best, but the only valid sources of truth; and that imagination or direct-knowing (accessed by intuition) is subjective, make-believe, open to infinite error; yet evidence and logic are always inadequate.

Evidence is useless - and indeed is not evidence - without a metaphysical system that defines what is evidence and how to interpret it.

The invalidity of logic is simply that it is a model - a grossly simplified version of reality. This is what makes it potentially useful, and also what makes it wrong.

The problems with logic are (at least) two-fold - first that the correctness of logic is unsure. The history of philosophical logic is one in which there are discoveries and refutations - for example, in relatively recent times by Frege and Godel; so that at any particular time and place we cannot be sure that there is not some error in our understanding of logic.

Plus: The potential for error is multiplied (exponentially) by each step in logical reasoning - so complexity of argument is less sure than simplicity.

Secondly - logic is an abstraction which must be applied, must be 'mapped-onto' real life - and this is where things most commonly go wrong.

The problem can best be illustrated by mathematics, which according to some theorists is ultimately identical with logic. To apply mathematics to Life, we need to assign numbers to the entities and process of life - and it is in assigning abstract numbers to real things that things go wrong. Much the same applies to logical categories.

One of the recurrent problems of Christianity (and many other religions) - which goes back a very long way - is the technical, mechanical use of evidence and logic to manufacture specific desired conclusions, to 'settle' questions. And then to rely on these evidence-logic-manufactured 'answers' to the exclusion of the discernment of the heart. 

Something similar happens in science. Really creative science is a matter primarily of imagination - but imagination will not come when called, and will not do what it is asked when it is asked - so scientists are tempted to grind-out conclusions with evidence and logic, despite the lack of imaginative validation.

I have done this myself, many times, leading to contrived interpretations and conclusions that never stand-up to sustained reflection; and always regretted my impatience.

What is required is patient brooding, waiting upon the right answer to come in its own time and with its validating, certainty of evaluation of the heart.

I shall have more to say on this theme.


Samson J. said...

Evidence is useless - and indeed is not evidence - without a metaphysical system that defines what is evidence and how to interpret it.

This is why I am a Creationist, by the way.

Derek Ramsey said...

The laws of deductive reasoning (e.g. law of non-contradiction) are not subject to most* metaphysical assumptions. Metaphysical assumptions are involved in the potentially flawed premises, but, if accepted, the conclusions follow absolutely. This has no bearing on logic itself.

Maybe say "Logic is inadequate because evidence is nearly-always flawed or wrong"? Without logic, what rational basis do we have for evaluating beliefs or metaphysical frameworks? Under any given metaphysical assumption, a non-logical belief is never preferable to a logically consistent one. One can easily accept the miracles of Jesus, the existence of a creator, the resurrection, and divine revelation without abandoning logic. Logic and the metaphysical system can, and should, harmonize. Logic is inadequate on its own for truth, but it is invaluable on the whole.

And then to rely on these evidence-logic-manufactured 'answers' to the exclusion of the discernment of the heart.

In my experience, these are best explained by their violations of the laws of logic or flawed metaphysical assumptions.

*Yes, the laws of logic stand on metaphysical assumptions. But there are many metaphysical systems compatible with logic. It will interesting to see alternatives presented.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DR - I'm afraid I can't see the relationship between my post and your comment - they seem to be orthogonal.

Derek Ramsey said...

@BC I may just be completely misunderstanding your post!

The title is "Evidence and logic are always inadequate and nearly-always wrong". But there is nothing "nearly-always wrong" about logic. I fail to see any problem with logic at all other than pairing it with the wrong metaphysics. Yet the post seems to suggest a number of problems with logic.

For example, you say "The potential for error is multiplied (exponentially) by each step in logical reasoning - so complexity of argument is less sure than simplicity.", but in deductive reasoning, the deductive steps do not add any error at all. Error is in the premises (which have nothing to do with the logic itself) or logical fallacies. It sounds like you are talking about flaws in inductive reasoning.

Similarly, your example of Christianity's use of logic sounds more like a misuse of logic rather than any fault of logic.

I don't follow why logic is an abstraction which must be applied, must be 'mapped-onto' real life. Are you suggesting that the law of non-contradiction is an abstraction that has to be mapped onto real life?

Bruce Charlton said...

@DR - 'Always wrong' as a guide to Life, or to Christianity - is what I meant, eg. with scholasticism

Nicholas Fulford said...

Logic always has been and always will be about showing internal consistency based on a set of premises. That is all it does, and given that trying to prove the premises by logic is not possible without meta-premises, and the meta-premises are not provable without meta-meta-premises, et cetera; it is a fool's paradise to attempt the exercise. (See Godel's "Incompleteness theorems" for a much more thorough examination of this problem.)

Gödel's two incompleteness theorems are among the most important results in modern logic, and have deep implications for various issues. They concern the limits of provability in formal axiomatic theories. The first incompleteness theorem states that in any consistent formal system F within which a certain amount of arithmetic can be carried out, there are statements of the language of F which can neither be proved nor disproved in F. According to the second incompleteness theorem, such a formal system cannot prove that the system itself is consistent (assuming it is indeed consistent). These results have had a great impact on the philosophy of mathematics and logic. There have been attempts to apply the results also in other areas of philosophy such as the philosophy of mind, but these attempted applications are more controversial.
- from

Derek Ramsey said...

Thank you for the clarification. That clears up some of the confusion.

Dualist said...

Such points as you bring up have been the centre of my intellectual existence since my teenage years. During the day, I work on Quantum Field Theories; though, catastrophically, my peers consider it quite bad form to bring up metaphysical concerns in physics. They really ARE quite content to assume a type of Naive Realism (in the most vague way imaginable), and can often be heard referring to themselves as Instrumentalists with PRIDE. To such men, it is just OBVIOUS we will ‘soon’ have a Reductionist explanation for consciousness, ‘you know, when we know more about the brain’. I’m never quite sure why they get up in the morning.

So, I jump though ‘hoops and strings’ all day simply because if I applied for funding for my REAL interests, I would probably be laughed out of the academy (I’m being harsh, really: the intrinsic, aesthetic beauty of the mathematics would be motivation enough for its study, as well as other reasons). But the lucky thing about Physics (as opposed to Biology) is that I’m free to go home at night and perform my own experiments – in my head. I can spend weeks/months thinking about a single part of a problem – and if it ‘goes nowhere’, then fine: no millions of pounds have been wasted! I can start a new line of attack tomorrow, for free.

As the points you raise will take at least a lifetime to answer, and at least 5 books to even attempt to convey to another person, I will not write discursively but will instead merely throw in a couple of points and questions.
As you intimated, Aristotle’s Prior Analytics was considered the last word on Logic for 2.5 millennia. Up until that point, mathematics SEEMED to be a purely Rationalistic endeavour, based on logical rules that were unquestionable. So yes, it was quite disconcerting when ‘progress’ seemed to restart in the field during the last century. As you may agree, Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems imply that maths in not WHOLLY rationalistic, in my view. I interpret them to mean it has an empirical basis: for everyday, garden-variety ‘Systems’, this means we have be able to ‘count’, accepting 1+1=2 as the starting point, for example, and building the rest up recursively. It would be highly impractical to go into the full details here, but if anybody is interested, just ask.

I totally agree with you, Bruce, that intuition is (ultimately) our only guide. I will not assume that any readers here have studied Formal Languages and Formal Proof, but the irony was that these were developed to effectively RID us of the need for Intuition. The whole enterprise began with two questions: Firstly, Leibniz asked ‘is there any ALGORITHM for deciding which statements of number theory are true’. In effect, he wondered whether it was possible to build a machine (which are notoriously low on intuition!) that could VERIFY the truth of mathematical statements. The second was Hilbert’s: Can the CONSISTENCY of number theory be proved using only NON-DUBIOUS principles of finitary reasoning?’ (that last term meaning ‘not using an infinite number of steps in the argument’). And so abstract Formal Systems were developed and, commendably, the question of what actually constitutes a mathematical proof was analysed.

An example of the need for Intuition is Church’s Thesis, which states that ‘the notion of an algorithmically computable function coincides with that of a recursive function’ (for now, just assume that last phrase means ‘can be represented a whole number’ – and no, we don’t mean a particular VALUE of the function, we genuinely do mean that the WHOLE function at all points can be written as a number, just like when we would normally write y=x^2, or whatever). But this is a PHILOSOPHICAL thesis. It is not provable. We can give ‘evidence’ to support it, but accepting its validity ultimately lies with our INTUITION, not ‘proof’. Unsurprisingly, some mathematicians deny that such theses are ‘allowable’ in maths. Whether we ‘need’ it is another question altogether.

Dualist said...


But even in such Formal Systems it was soon realised that certain questions could NOT be mechanised ie. a computer that was set to answer them would need an infinite length of time. Ironically, one of these examples is that there is no GENERAL algorithm for deciding whether a particular ‘program’ will ‘halt’ or instead just runs forever!

For those that are still reading, I realise this comment is already getting long and I haven’t really started philosophising yet, so I will just make assertions/questions from here on:

Given the preceding paragraph, A VERY interesting, natural question then arises: is the HUMAN MIND (as opposed to a machine) capable of determining the truth of ‘something’ that is NOT algorithmically decidable? If it CAN do so, then we have ‘proved’ (grrrr..) that consciousness is NOT something that could arise from the deterministic action of a computing machine. Roger Penrose claims that certain operations performed by ‘us’ when we ‘do’ maths show that we CAN do non-computable things, and I tend to agree with him on this one. It is this work that I spend much of my evenings ‘patiently brooding’ over. I would like to say, much, much more about this in the future, including its implications for the existence of a Soul.

So, yes, within a GIVEN logical system, VIRTUALLY everything CAN be proved without question, even (in principle) by a machine. But there are an infinite number of possible ‘formal systems’. So we are very, very far from the original notion of a SINGLE Logic being something just ‘out there, eternally’. On the other hand, there are also an infinite number of metaphysical systems we could choose from, so we are not in much a different position from when we rely on Intuition throughout, epistemologically at least.
(And this is also ignoring the PRACTICAL impossibility of using Formal Languages to decide problems of genuine interest – in the same way it would be impractical to describe how Microsoft Windows operates by using only machine code to do so)

I also agree that ‘evidence’ also means nothing without metaphysical/epistemological systems to interpret/’deal with’ it.

So this brings us onto the question of ‘picking’ a metaphysical system. Do we pick one ‘off the shelf’, so to speak? If so, what guides us in selecting one system over another? Because for anybody wanting to approach the answer to this from an ‘intuitive angle’ we are now at an interesting point in history: what appears to be implied by those theories of the last century – General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics - appears to be so incredibly NON-INTUITIVE (in ANY interpretation) that even the greatest genius of all time would not have been able to arrive at these theories in a RATIONALISTIC manner. In my opinion, we have stumbled upon certain facts that seem to offer us the chance for our limited brains to arrive at NEW, METAPHYSICAL systems that would have been simply impossible (barring miracles) to conceive of before we knew of that ‘evidence’.

Basically, I am saying that our new-found empirical evidence IMPLIES wholly new metaphysics of the type we have never ‘considered’ before. We certainly have no metaphysics so far intuited that could hope to be used to ‘interpret’ this evidence (fully, at least). We need to start from scratch. Please understand that this is not for theoretical reasons (of course metaphysics still ‘underlies’ physics) but only due the limited nature of our intuitions and intellects.

Dualist said...


While the Instrumentalist is merely happy that his theory agrees with whatever numbers appear on his lab-equipment, WE here, I’m sure, still thirst for the FUNDAMENTAL meaning of it all? Regarding what you said, I DO believe that evidence and logic can ‘explain’ things, but only ‘higher order’ things eg. once we have ACCEPTED quantum mechanics, we can use it to fully explain the ‘higher order’ theory of Chemistry, which can then itself be used to explain Biology. So yes, we could never say that any of the brilliant discoveries you yourself have made in biology are absolutely ‘true’, because we do not even know what a proton or electron actually ARE, so we have no idea what chemistry ‘is’, let alone a human cell. But that is 100% fine, because biologist do not claim absolute, fundamental Truth – they are happy to simply accept the laws of chemistry as being ‘true’, and use them to make discoveries of practical use. No, it is only (some of) we physicists who are so arrogant.

This is where most of my peers go wrong: they actually think these ‘Laws of Nature’ we ‘discover’ provide a FUNDAMENTAL explanation of nature, with no metaphysics required (so they are clearly oblivious to their own metaphysical assumptions). It is actually the fact that you, Bruce, are one of the rare few scientists who clearly sees beyond this that makes me want to visit this site and to write such comments here.

As I always say: yes, we DO observe that the planets regularly orbit around the sun, but as it does so the Earth isn’t thinking ‘Whoa! I better turn left here ‘cos I need to follow Newton’s Inverse Square Law’. Even Newton who discovered this law did not claim to EXPLAIN gravity – in the General Scholium at the end of the Principia he writes ‘as to the CAUSE of the phenomena I have NO HYPOTHESIS’. He was a rare one, though. Most scientists I know have so given up on Truth and Meaning that they really DO believe that string theory could be a ‘Theory of Everything’, lol!

What does it MEAN for ‘matter’ to have both wave and particulate properties AT THE SAME TIME?

What does the ‘collapse’ of the wave-function into a definite State upon observation actually MEAN? Does our observation actually AFFECT reality itself, or do we ‘simply’ need to arrive at a deeper epistemological understanding? The Copenhagen Interpretation is just a cop-out, in my opinion. Is HUMAN observation necessary for this collapse, or would an ant’s have the same effect? If not, how did change occur in the universe before humans arrived, or is it meaningless to speak of this? Would this imply the existence of a God Who is the universal observer of everything?

So, we really need to gain a deeper understanding of what we need by ‘Measurement’. But since I was a young boy, I have KNOWN that a mere mathematical modification of the Standard Model of Particle Physics is almost comically insufficient for this venture. My intuition still tells me that to answer these questions we will need to arrive at both a new Physics AND a new Metaphysics, finally bridging the gap and finding Unity between the conscious ‘Mind’, Logic, Reality and Spirit. Should keep me out of trouble for a while…..

Dualist said...

As a completely separate comment from the above ones:

I feel you are being a little rash in your condemnation of scholasticism. I do not see it as MANUFACTURING answers.

At its best, it was simply trying to provide FURTHER justification for the Intellect, to supplement Dogma that had long been known by Faith. I believe this has been a great help to many more people than it has hindered.

I understand that you yourself are verging towards the idea that Intiution is the only way to arrive at KNOWLEDGE of the spiritual (and I would tend to agree) - but remember, such an assertion is itself only an intuition of yours (or if you have arrived at this position using your Intellect, have you not refuted your own position on scholasticism?) And don't forget, we are not REQUIRED to KNOW anything spiritual, only to believe it, and getting the Intellect on board could certainly help with that, would you not agree?

To convince other people of your position on this, or anything, you yourself wrote this blog. This is exactly what the scholastics did. Disputation was how they went about doing it, much as goes on here: you write and we comment back.

At least check out the very opening section of Aquinas' Summa to read how (probably) the greatest of the Schoolmen himself thought about the venture:

Bruce Charlton said...

@Nicholas - Yes, my understanding is that Godel's theorem retrospectively undercut some logical work previously regarded as solid. This is indicative that logic itself is not exactly what it seems - at least not if pushed through several steps of inference.

Bruce Charlton said...


I regard Aquinas as the greatest ever systematic philosopher - but the Roman Church had begun to abandon his system within a generation, and has never stopped revising it since. It seems clear that Abelard opened a door to speculation which was, in practice, un-shuttable. When one looks at the *detailed* Roman Catholic teaching on sexuality, I see a clear reductio ad absurdum; when judged by the discernment of the heart - the logic leads the morality in exactly the way I critise; and which is absurd and alienating.

Nicholas Fulford said...

But even in such Formal Systems it was soon realised that certain questions could NOT be mechanised ie. a computer that was set to answer them would need an infinite length of time. Ironically, one of these examples is that there is no GENERAL algorithm for deciding whether a particular ‘program’ will ‘halt’ or instead just runs forever! - Dualist

A flight of fancy on my part, but what if this applies at the level of a meta-universe. It does not imply an ultimately steady state - as at least this universe is - but a persistence of that which is an "in itself" without beginning. i.e. There is that which is in itself such that any other thing derives from that base something. It simply is, and is the base upon which any thing else ultimately rests. We may not be able to characterize it in any other sense, but that is sufficient and gets around insufficiency in any derived expressions as well as the problem of infinite regression.

At its most basic metaphysics we might say, "THAT is, and is necessary such that any expression occurs at all - ever." The fact that this universe exists with us in it to think about such things would seem to be sufficient.

This implies that any expression references THAT and that THAT is closed and sufficient with respect to itself, but open-ended in terms of what expresses as a universe over time / iteration. Incompleteness would necessarily seem to follow in any iterative expression.

These are just my fanciful reflections, and would also necessarily suffer from the problems of incompleteness given I am part of a time bound expression. :)

Dualist said...


I certainly agree with you about Aquinas. Perhaps we could say St. Anselm slightly preceded Abelard both in time, depth AND holiness, but yes, both were around in that incredible inflation of knowledge and understanding that was the 12th Century Renaissance.

There is certainly a palpable sense (for example, reading the Catechism) that St. Thomas became considered almost ‘the last word’ on Catholic Theology from his day onwards. In my opinion, the century succeeding his also produced many great minds and souls that did not necessarily detract from Aquinas, though, admittedly, the greatest of these (Ockham) being more important for the history of Science, and Meister Eckhart, though awe-inspiring, could hardly be described as a Systematic Theologian!

Though I could not deny that I have seen the ‘let’s see how we can reach that target’ approach in Catholic Philosophy before, I source that particular decline only to the accursed Second Vatican Council of 1962. Since then there have been attempts at ecumenism that would be commendable in themselves, but are normally at the expense of watering down the Angelic Doctor’s teachings

Dualist said...

@ Nicholas

We’re in deep waters now, my friend.

What you are describing in the first paragraph seems to me to be the God of the Philosophers. If ‘It simply is’, then are we not once again referring to that Substance Whose Essence is Existence? (Though what we could here mean by ‘substance’ is perhaps best left to the intuition!) Now we’re back to square one again. But where is our understanding of that meta- ‘It’ derived from: a Rationalistic sense or even by using Empiricism (if using a general definition of this, admitting anything from fundamental physics to the Bible)? On the other hand, if ‘It’ can only be characterised by (a) having existence and (b) being the ‘base upon which anything else ultimately rests’ then is not this concept applicable to almost anything we wish, from Spinoza’s God, to Aquinas’, to Stephen Hawking’s? It is actually SAYING anything about this ’It’ that is the problem, as I’m sure you’ll verily agree! 

What you describe in the next two paragraphs is basically what we do when dealing with ANY Formal System, so I’ll just very briefly outline what we ‘do’ in Mathematical Logic for the benefit of any readers who may not have encountered it before:

We first define a formal symbolic language: we define the logical symbols (quantifies, connectives, identity symbol, punctuation symbols, variables) and arithmetic symbols (zero, add, multiple etc.), then agree on what strings of these form ‘terms’, ‘words’, ‘sentences’ and up to ‘formulas’. Crucially, assigning the individual symbols their own ‘Gödel Numbers’ means (because of the way these numbers are defined using prime numbers) that we can assign a unique number to specific formulas etc. (It is effectively these numbers that home computers ‘crunch’).

We then need an ‘Interpretation’ which effectively means deciding on the rules for Truth Tables. If we define a set S of ‘sentences’ in the formal language, then the set of all sentences which are derivable in the formal system from ‘assumptions’ in the set S is called the ‘theory’ of S, written Th(S). S is then said to be a set of ‘axioms’ of the theory. In this type of language, it sounded like what you proposed was to make ‘THAT’ one of the assumptions?

An ‘interpretation’ of a theory T is an interpretation of the formal language in which ALL of the theorems of the theory are true. Though the details are fairly involved, the idea is that any things to be ‘proved’ in this system are done in reference to the ‘assumptions’, using only tautologies etc. And the actual method for FINDING proofs involves the use of certain Universal Quantifier ‘rules’ and Existential Qualifier ‘rules’ etc., (though even all this is only a ‘branch’ of the study of Logic, known as ‘Propositional’, and this can easily be generalised itself). But once again, what could we say about the assumptions for such a meta-universe, and in what language could we do this? It could certainly be made as open-ended as we like, at least that much is clear!

Surely we couldn’t express ‘THAT’ in a symbolic language amenable to algorithm? Then prepare yourself for a staggering fact: if we believe Gödel himself, he used the more general ‘modal logic’
to PROVE ‘the necessary existence of an object which each positive property, but no negative property’!!

Did Gödel really PROVE the existence of God 50 years ago? If so, wouldn’t there have been a great song-and-dance about it in the media, no (yeah, right…)? Indeed, if we DO accept his axioms (for example, the existence of positive and negative properties in the first place), then the modern computer in front of you could verify the ‘theorem’ in less than a second. “Computer says yes!” To see if you believe this or not, start here:ödel%27s_ontological_proof

Nicholas Fulford said...

On the other hand, if ‘It’ can only be characterised by (a) having existence and (b) being the ‘base upon which anything else ultimately rests’ then is not this concept applicable to almost anything we wish, from Spinoza’s God, to Aquinas’, to Stephen Hawking’s? It is actually SAYING anything about this ’It’ that is the problem, as I’m sure you’ll verily agree!  - Dualist

I am going to restrict my reply to just this quote, and thank-you for your reply and to Bruce for continuing the thread.

Existence is a funny term. I tend to think of something that is instantiated as being existent, but that THAT is what upon being instantiated results in an unfolding universe. THAT defines the limits of what is expressible as nothing can arise which is not in some way wholly dependent upon THAT. The problem is my limitation as occupying a particular locality in a particular universe expressing over a particular set of events that I experience over a very short timeframe. Now, if self-similarity is an inherent essential characteristic - which it would have to be if THAT is - I have some potential to observe enough to at least be aware of that essential characteristic. The difficulty - the one that I see gets us into trouble a lot - is that with a limited window and a desire for certainty, we often project and create images much the way that the projector creates shadows on the wall of Plato's cave. We may intuit the projector, but are eyes are firmly fixed on shadows to which many of us have vested our identities to. I think that even the most enlightened thinker is bound to a cluster of core internal biases that define his or her identity and relationship with the universe. Without something at least taken as provisionally true all falls into chaos, but projecting what is provisionally true into being absolutely true binds the mind to a dogmatic frame from which the experience of the universe is deeply biased and unrecognized as being biased by the individual.

I hope I have not diverged terribly, but it reminds me of the problem that Golyadkin experiences in Dostoyevsky's "The Double". (see - Golyvadin' identity and reality are undergoing a terrible crisis as he morph's in ways that are subjectively out of control, and which are deeply humorous to the reader who sees his plight from an intimate proximity but one level removed. It is easy to feel deep sympathy for his plight because it is one which is one that confronts us as we identify with him.

Dualist said...

And thank you for your reply also. I’ve only just seen your comment so I’ll just say a few brief things, and hopefully we’ll get to chance to discuss some of the implications in future. I’ve got more free time than usual at the moment, so it shouldn’t take me too long to reply to any future comments.

As often, it is the search for ABSOLUTE Truth wherein lies the problem, particularly from the viewpoint of a ‘thinker’, whether Rationalistic or Empirical (or any other). Relying solely on thought alone then, yes, we are almost compelled to arrive at the chaos of Postmodernism. We could talk about this all year, but as it still appears to me there are a couple of ways of conceiving of THAT (as you have currently defined it) that would still be consistent with different, antithetical philosophies, I’ll just concentrate on a few ideas.

If I’ve read you correctly, couldn’t the properties you assigned be ascribed to both a Transcendent or an Immanent THAT. This is one of the reasons why I felt we were back at square one again (and not necessarily through a deficit in your explanation, perhaps just the nature of the beast). Out of the possibilities, the closest philosophy to what you describe is Spinoza’s (to my ears), but I won’t here presume only his concepts. If THAT ‘defines the limits of what is expressible as nothing can arise which is not in some way wholly dependent upon THAT’ then you were certainly suggesting we genuinely COULD ‘express’ something about it. The part I didn’t fully understand was when you said ‘if self-similarity is an inherent essential characteristic - which it would have to be if THAT is - I have some potential to observe enough to at least be aware of that essential characteristic’. It sounds like you were saying we can gain some knowledge of THAT through ‘projecting’ backwards from particularly instantiations. So, obviously, we’d have to KNOW (not just provisionally so) that self-similarity WAS Essential. The fact that you said that it ‘had to be so’ makes me think I have not correctly inferred what your definition self-similarity is.

Are you presuming Scotus’ Univocity of Being in all this? If so, and if you WERE also thinking of THAT as Immanent, I wonder if Deleuze’ ‘extension of this notion would give you any food for thought?

When dealing with Thought, like we discussed in relation to Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems, there is always something we need to accept as true. It’s like with Gödel’s Proof of God’s Existence: it is meaningless unless we first accept the existence of positive and negative qualities. It IS possible to ‘create’ (or do we discover?) Logics dealing with provisional truths – this is the field of ‘Fuzzy Logic’- and we can hopefully discuss that another day.

It’s becoming a long comment again, so I’ll just throw a quick thought out there: even if we DO accept that in having Faith we are ‘projecting what is provisionally true into being absolutely true’ (I understand you weren’t necessarily/only referring to Faith with this, but it seems to apply) then does it not pay to consider one more thing: even if everything we said about particular instantiations being projected from THAT IS ‘true’ (in some sense…), then does this necessarily apply to the Soul also? When discussing Plato’s cave, is the relationship between the ‘shadows’ on the wall and THAT exactly the same as the relationship between THAT and US? Now, like I said at the start, if we are just dealing with the God of the Philosophers, then saying such a thing has just opened up an equally begging-the-question can of worms.

Dualist said...

But if THAT is CONSCIOUS also (I know…this sounds like I’m now just accepting cogito ergo sum as an absolute truth, but not necessarily, I’ll hopefully get chance to say more about this in future) this may not necessarily be the same relationship. At this point, let’s remind ourselves that if THAT has the nature we’ve initially ascribe to it, then that THAT is also the CAUSE of your ‘seeing’ those particular shadows (at the very least from ITS point of view; referring to what I said the other day about Free Will). So for MOST people, their own projections do indeed lead to biases. But for the man whose soul is spotless – he is now in perfect Union with THAT(?) – could not THAT then CAUSE (or at least ‘allow’) us to arrive at specific provisional truths that lead to Absolute Truth? Though consequently, even if we did arrive at Absolute Truth, we should still never hope to communicate this to other people, even those in this State of Grace, because our relationship is totally different.

Similarly, even if what I say is ‘true’, I could never prove this to you because we are writing (which is wholly intellectual), so once again we would both need to ‘accept’ some provisional truth. But could not THAT HELP us to find certain, specific, seemingly-provisional truths that do indeed lead to absolute truth, and KNOW we have done so (for as long as we remain in Union with THAT)?

Anyway, you have got me thinking about certain ideas I had not considered for some time, so thank you for waking me from my ‘dogmatic slumber’! Because time has been short, I have not argued this all as clearly as I normally try to - looking back, I have subtly ‘mixed’ and ‘assumed’ different definitions of certain concepts. For this reason, if anything does not seem clear, that’s wholly my fault, and if you want to tell me I’m talking Absolute Rubbish, then I won’t be offended! 

As for ‘The Double’, it’s funny you mention that. I am not very well read on post-1600 literature (my literary interests lie almost exclusively in Ancient and Medieval languages and letters, though slowly I’m getting closer to my own century) - though I DO love Dostoevsky. I have read ‘Devils’ (I actually typed out some horrendous quotations from it for another website - they would have been very relevant to our discussion of the Left’s plans for using sexuality, I’ll link them on Bruce’s blog when it is next fitting), ‘The Idiot’ and ‘The Brothers Karamazov’, and I’ve got (but not read) some of his novellas and short stories. I’d heard of The Double but presumed it was another short story, as I thought the only other novel he’d wrote was Crime and Punishment. From what you have written, it sounds like it deserves to be at the top of my reading list.