Tuesday 30 November 2021

Experience versus theories - sometimes theories win...

I was thinking about how having theories about The World can be confused with actually experiencing the world in line with the theories. 

This can happen in deep theology - for example discussing the nature of God; we may have an inspiring theory, but our experience may be very different - or non-existent. 

Or ghosts - there is the matter of whether we 'believe-in' ghosts - but another matter of whether we have had personal experience of ghosts - e.g. if we have 'seen a ghost'. 

It is natural, and probably right, to regard experience as higher than theory - because that is what we want from life. 

Yet in fact the two are not separable. For instance, 'seeing a ghost' entails seeing some-thing and concluding it was a ghost - and this means that in order to se a ghost (and not just some pattern of light) we must already believe a theory that ghosts exist and can be seen. 

So, although what we want most is some types of experience; in fact we will not have the experiences unless and until we have the theory. 

Because if we do not believe in the reality of ghosts - we will not perceive a ghosts but instead... something else, or nothing at all. 

And if we happen to experience the kind-of-thing that is traditionally considered to be a ghost - we will explain it away as an illusion, maybe the result of sleepiness or just wishful thinking ('fooling ourselves')... but we will Not experience a ghost. 

And we would anyway soon forget such an experience; or regard it as trivial, or pathological (a momentary hallucination, maybe). 

Conversely, if we believe-in ghosts and believe that ghosts are important; then we will almost certainly experience ghosts (later, if not sooner). And if we do not personally perceive ghosts, then we will experience ghosts in fiction, movies, 'news' stories... 

Such 'media experiences' may take a role in memory and conviction; indeed, in the modern world it seems that media-experiences are primary (that is; we live mainly in virtual reality) - and media-experiences lead to more powerful memories and deeper convictions than one's own personal experiences. 

A pertinent example is related to the trans agenda. Because people believe the theory that sex can be changed (man to woman, woman to man); they experience multiple confirmations of the reality of their theory - experience it via TV and newspapers, confirmed by official assertions and the structure of law. 

If a person considers undergoing trans changes, he will be 'counseled' by 'experts' all of whom assume the reality of changing sex by personal choice; and the moral imperative to support such change in every way. 

And if such a change happens to someone (drugs, surgery etc); any inconsistencies of their expectations with reality will be attributed to the ignorance and malice of hostile persons - not to falseness of the theory that sex can be changed.

So, the falseness of such a theory is not discoverable through personal experience; because what counts as relevant experience, and what counts as falsifiable, are both controlled by the theory itself - and this theory is endorsed by the Global Establishment and all it controls.  

And what of this created world, God, Jesus, the soul, divine providence, Heaven? Theories are necessary to experiencing them. Conversely, if the theories of creation/ God/ Jesus etc are believed to impossible, nonsense, delusion - none will be experienced. 

Therefore our basic theories about Life (i.e. metaphysics) are what determine our experiences of Life; and experience cannot overturn our deepest convictions

Therefore... we - each and all - need first to recognize and then to evaluate the truth (and virtue, and beauty) of our most basic theories-about reality. 

Such an evaluation can only be intuitive (heart-thinking, direct-knowing) - since no possible 'evidence' counts either for, or against, a basic and fundamental theory (because, as illustrated above, the theory-believed dictates what counts as evidence). We need to determine whether or not - once we have identified them - we really do believe the theories that we have come to regard as basic. 

This is absolutely vital; because so many people do not know what they have (unconsciously and habitually) come-to believe. Others discover that they do Not really believe the assumptions that actually govern their lives - assumptions that govern their very experiences.

Some will discover that their deepest, structuring and governing, theories have been implanted into them by covert propaganda and aggressive socialization. Once isolated and examined, these theories are immediately seen as false to intuition, and evil by motivation.

But the first step must be to discover them.   


Skarphedin said...

"Some will discover that their deepest, structuring and governing, theories have been implanted into them by covert propaganda and aggressive socialization. Once isolated and examined, these theories are immediately seen as false to intuition, and evil by motivation."

I've spent some time working through Anselm's "ontological" "proof" in his Proslogion. I actually consider myself an Anselmian (despite how goofy that sounds).

The quo majus is actually a koan and meditating on it brings to awareness (eventually) what you discuss in this excellent post.

The scene is that a Fool stands in the town square and says to the crowd: "God doesn't exist". Anselm, a spectator, in response says: "God is the quo majus". The fool rebels as does Anselm's facile friend Guanilo but the case is closed the game is over. The fact that those words were "heard" proves God's existence in re (and perhaps only or merely that). The more honestly and consistently one ponders the quo majus koan, the more that becomes apparent (along with other things such as the Hierarchy of Being etc).

What you point out is to me the most important thing to think about.

Of course, Hegel then says "yes yes true but that's only the beginning and things only get interesting after this" at which point he crazy-talks for thousands of pages.

But, I mean, he is right. The grounding (or resolution of the issue you present) as momentus as it is then becomes merely a "new beginning".

Anselm's description of the atheist (which is "logically" impossible) as a Fool is fascinating (at least to me). As you say, his position is evil. Purely and simply. I think Anselm would say "he's a fool because he isn't thinking". Atheism being a non-thought. I can't track it down but there is a famous quote from a Muslim holy man about him praying for endurance with foolishness.

I've probably made little sense but this post struck me powefully. Thanks.

MVT said...

I was an atheist until I learned about the philosophy of antinatalism. I had small children at the time and was horrified at the idea that I had done something immoral to them. I realized I had to change my assumptions and start having faith in God.