Sunday 24 December 2017

You can't be right by accident (provenance is the hallmark of reality)

A stopped clock is not right twice a day - it is never right; because it never knows it is right.

It is knowing that is everything - and knowing is a matter of provenance: that is, a matter of where the knowledge comes from - its lineage.

A distorted version of this view is common - perhaps normal - among unreflective scientists, who regard provenance in terms of 'evidence'; begging the question of what counts as evidence.

But the corruption of science shows us that what counts as evidence, what counts as correct interpretation of evidence, is part of a circularity of definition which pre-decides all questions.

This is why we cannot, nowadays, avoid explicit metaphysics. We can no longer take metaphysics for granted (that genie is out of the bottle) - nor can we pretend that evidence supersedes metaphysics (unless we are happy to accept that hermetically-sealed bureaucratic careerism really-is science).

So we can only be right on the basis of true metaphysics, true basic-assumptions - and true basic assumptions can only be known (here and now) by the direct and intuitive knowing of our divine selves.

So it is that specific provenance - direct knowing of our divine selves - which is the sole guarantor of truth.


Chiu ChunLing said...

I would say that it is utility of the knowledge that makes it "right". But this is approaching it from the other direction, we know we are right when the assertion on which we have acted leads to desirable results that were predicted to result from the actions we took in light of that assertion.

However, it can be seen as a form of empirical testing of the validity of an assertion, which is surely related to science. More pertinently, it requires that, to be right, we stake something on our belief in an assertion. We have to act as if it were true, and then discover whether our acts led to the results we desired in choosing them.

It may be said, since we must act with confidence in the truth of the assertion in order for it to be meaningfully true, it is required that we have a basis for such confidence before we act. Can provenance provide this confidence?

Perhaps for some, or even most.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - "know we are right when the assertion on which we have acted leads to desirable results that were predicted to result from the actions we took in light of that assertion." -

Well, not so; because in practice the process is circular - and people with certainly-wrong ideas nonetheless firmly believe that they are vindicated by outcomes/ observations/ experiments - and indeed within their narrow-false metaphysical frames they are thus vindicated.

Chiu ChunLing said...

But they are still wrong if the outcomes were actually detrimental...according to their own desires. Ultimately, the universe makes no distinction about meaning, all statements are equally nonsensical until you have the capacity to care about the implications.

And God also does not care about us being "good" in any other sense than being free, and that to the end that we may be happy, that we may do that which brings us to the results we desire and refrain from that which would lose us those possibilities. I think happiness also requires that we have confidence that we can also in the future choose the desired results by correctly identifying the actions that will bring them to pass.

So it is not that it is necessary to know in advance that we are right in order to be merely right, but that we cannot be happy unless we are able to know in advance of the result that we are right, that is, making a correct choice. Otherwise we shall be fearful and uncertain.

This is why the Holy Ghost is called the Comforter, it brings to us a kind of confidence, and thus happiness, that is not available from our 'natural' capacities, or from any merely rational process. It gained this role in what we temporally perceive as after the death and resurrection of Christ, which connected for us the mortal ministry of Christ with His eternal redemptive power.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - what you are saying is what I used to believe - but no longer.

Chiu ChunLing said...

I suppose partly it is a matter of ultimate aims, do we seek ultimately to be right, or do we seek ultimately to be happy? I can't say I have an ultimate preference for either, but I cannot see any meaningful sense in which it is possible to be right as an end in itself. In every task, I evaluate whether a method or action is "correct" based on whether it accomplishes or at least advances another desired end beyond itself. Whether in chess, or math, or automotive repair, my standard of "correct" is oriented towards some actual goal.

I am minded of how my mother washes dishes, she goes through the "correct" procedure and doesn't worry too much about whether the dishes she puts away to bring out at Christmas are visibly and tangibly greasy. I suppose this is also one of the complaints about bureaucracy, that the "correct" process becomes a substitute for honest appraisal of the result.

For me it stands in stark contrast from Christ's assertion that, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." Then again, I don't suppose that Christ meant that, "A good tree cannot [ever] bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree [ever] bring forth good fruit." That would be clearly nonsense to anyone who knew anything about trees (particularly olive trees, which feature prominently in Christ's parables).

Modern food quality control furnishes an instructive example. You must open some of the packages created by your process and check if they are good or not. If any of them are bad, you must find out what has gone wrong with the process. You can't just check each package, because once you open a package and check the contents, it's no longer in salable condition...which was the point of quality control.

In other words, it is by checking how often a given provenance is right that you establish the reliability of that provenance. You can't assume the result is right just because the provenance is good, or wrong because it's bad. At best you know it to be likely or not.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - I agree that ultimately (eternally) happiness is the goal. (And that God goes to great lengths to make this as possible as our natures will aloow - which is often not very far.) But the trouble is that modern atheist materioalists (in thrall to evil) already believe that the outcomes do prove they are happy. Or, more exactly, they believe that any alternative will make them miserable in an immediate and intolerable way. So the outcomes method of validation is, in practice, useless.

Chiu ChunLing said...

I think rather than saying that it is useless, I'd say that it is amenable to the will of the individual in seeking what they really desire rather than what they 'should' desire. But the reason that free will is of ultimate importance is that there are some people for whom worshiping God in eternity could never be anything but a horror and outrage against their individual personality.