20 December 2009

Sartreian Freedom

As an atheist, Sartre denied that man is born with certain values, that man is born with universal ethics. As such, man must define freedom through his own actions. Freedom, in a classical definition, is to be without restraint. Sartre attempted to expand that definition by asserting that man was a prisoner of his own freedom, and that freedom was the only source of values. In short, man decides his values as he discovers his freedom.

As such, it matters not what side of a battle man sides with, so long as man acts with “good faith”, chooses the good of an action. Man, being his own source of freedom, establishes his own values. To deny introspection, to not choose to act for the good, leaves man in anxiety and acting in “bad faith”. Man must not act as others act, in a universal good, because that would remove introspection, would render the decision bad. Being born without a hierarchal system of values, man continually builds his own. As such, man is able to destroy the hierarchy with each choice and establish a new one. Man, realizing that he is the source of values, the fount of freedom, will only choose to adhere to his freedom. Man then, with a god removed, is his own judge.

Sartre was emphasizing that freedom is subjective, in that, man and man alone is capable of understanding his own freedom. Sartre believed that most men hide from their freedom, in denial of it, and adopt the deterministic values of society and/or theology. Attribution to external sources is utter denial of inherent freedom. Things influence things, but man, as an actor, is not a thing. Man is responsible for himself. To act differently makes man inauthentic, and man renounces his humanity.

To further extend freedom, no man has rights, as rights are external things. Rights are determinism. A ruler has the right to rule because the citizens deny their freedom in a Nietzscheian slave-morality as they accept passively the values set before them. Rights
have no ability to guide one’s action, to determine conduct. Man, being aware of his freedom, creates his own values, his own hierarchies. As such, even a revolutionary, one who battles for the freedom of all, denies his own freedom, as a revolution carries its own values and rules of conduct, ethics.

Sartre has established that man being free determines his own values, and as such, those values are mercurial, changing with each situation. A man who must choose between family and country can not rely on established values, but must determine his own action. Man must act for the good. How each man determines the good is man’s freedom. Freedom then is an active form, is not in stasis. Man who resists freedom is in a continual form of anxiety, as he must determine
to act for the good, to create his own values with each situation.

15 November 2009

Epistemology and Analogical of the Teleological Argument

The epistemological and analogical methods of the teleological argument are attempts at proofs for the existence of a god. Epistemology (knowledge) relies on the Platonic idea that knowledge is composed of truths and beliefs. It is the beliefs part that makes a proof for god difficult, if not impossible. Analogical arguments rely upon building logical proofs that combine humans with natural entities, cosmos. A common objection to this method is that humans are not like natural entities.

An argument from belief is deux visage in nature. Belief generally can not be provable as probable. To counter this argumental style, one could assume that the belief portion would be the easiest to target. Because of this, it is upon the believer to prove that one's beliefs constitute fact, as in:

I believe in X.
There must be at least one X.
Therefore, X is true.

The believer could use the tactic that belief is not something that can be measured by scientific principles. This is a quite defensible position. Semantical arguments, Wittgenstein's language games, sever a need to justify belief by the standards of science. The basic argument is that belief is written in the language of a divine being, and science is an artificial creation by man. As such, they are not cohesive nor interchangeable. Belief becomes a function of a purely religious realm.

In reality, disproving that “at least one” is key. The reason for this, is that for every argument made against belief, the believer can counter. Also, because belief is not tangible, it is a theoretical possibility. More simply, if someone believes that god is a rock, and states that there must be at least one rock that is god, the disproof of god being a rock is impossible. But one could show through a preponderance of evidence that no known rock is god. Following Ockham's Razor, because no known rock is god, then it would go to reason that there is no rock that is god. And even so, the argument can quickly turn circular. The believer might then simply counter that while every known rock is not god, one has not found the god rock. While Ockham works for science, it does not necessarily work for belief. And again the argument swings back to language games.

For analogical arguments, a logic proof is established. It systematically develops from the regularity of the universe, to its relations to humans, the to necessity for a god. For example:

The universe is ordered by laws.
Man is ordered by laws.
Laws are not spontaneous.
Neither the universe nor man created these laws.
Therefore, a creator established the laws.

Another version of the argument is to claim that:

The universe is ordered and like a machine.
Man is ordered and like a machine.
A machine can not create itself.
Therefore, a creator made both man and the universe.

This method of argument uses both induction and scientific fact to support itself. As one is unlikely to disprove scientific fact, the inductive process must be found fallible. While it is both true that man and the universe is bound by laws and have machine-like qualities, it is not necessarily true that those laws and qualities are the same. But even so, variability in law or quality does not disprove the theory. Given that:

A is non-B
C is non-B

are both perfectly logical. It is the conclusion that can be fallible. To state that A and C are non-B, requires extra steps to prove so, because while neither is non-B, there is no necessitation that A and C are the same. Doing so, is a false analogy and possibly tokenism. Does either system of argument have merit? The epistemological argument appears to be the most fallible of the two, in that, arguing from belief and trying to incorporate it as fact is improbable and most likely, impossible. If belief was an acceptable argument style, then anything would be possible. One could claim that they believe that they are god and as such then, would not be disproved. There are simply too many inherent flaws in the epistemological method.

As for the analogical argument, establishing a valid logical proof is also difficult. It is the transition from observable, scientific fact to supernatural necessity that is questionable at best. To make the leap that one can go from the observable to the unobservable is comparing disparate things. An orange is not an acorn. It seems also, that the analogical argument is better window dressing on the epistemological argument. But what it can not avoid is belief. Something that is unobservable requires an element of belief. And yes, belief has been responsible for amazing scientific discoveries, but those discoveries did not stem solely from belief.

01 October 2009

Heidegger’s Pursuit of Nothing

Heidegger, high priest of neologisms, has presented the question of metaphysics by presenting the idea of the Nothing. One could blame translational problems on the difficulty of understanding exactly what Heidegger was trying to say, or one could simply blame Heidegger for creating words to aid in hindering the understanding of the Nothing. Perhaps Heidegger is intentionally oblique or perhaps one has to be mad to understand him. Heidegger asks the seemingly simple question of what exactly is the Nothing, and then proceeds to explain what it is not. Heidegger may have assumed apperception from his devotees, but for generations that have followed, the Nothing has been something that has eluded explanation. Or does it? Perhaps the Nothing is truly that: nothing.

Heidegger spent the beginning of his essay eliminating science and logic as defenses against metaphysics. This purposeful removal forces the reader into an uncomfortable arena, an arena where one is stripped of science and must rely upon reason and intuition. One has lost the right to ask how and forced to ask Why? The why of science is the why that means to what extent or for what purpose or how. But this why is not that Why that Heidegger has prompted for. By eliminating science and logic, he returns to an older Why. Heidegger’s why is the unanswerable Why, the Why that is the Nothing, the zenith of metaphysics. When one ponders the unanswerable one does not truly seek to explain the question, but to understand something else. How does one define a god? Or better yet: Why god? A theologian would presumably have hundreds of answers, yet not the answer, and that is what the Nothing is; it is the answer than can not be answered, yet has all answers.

Science, in Heidegger’s view, had reduced man to calculations. For example as Max Born wrote:

Modern physics has achieved its greatest successes by applying the methodological principle that concepts which refer to distinctions beyond possible experience have no physical meaning and ought to be eliminated. (Max Born, "Continuity, Determinism, and Reality", (Danish Academy of Science, Mathematics and Physics, Section 30, No. 2, 1955), p. 4 .)

It is this assumption of science that Heidegger rejected in his elaboration of the Nothing. He wanted one to question that which has no physical meaning. As Heidegger wrote:

If science is right, then only one thing is sure: science wishes to know nothing of the nothing.

Ultimately this is the scientifically rigorous conception of the nothing. We know it, the nothing, in that we wish to know nothing about it.

Science is impotent then, to describe the Nothing, as the Nothing is nothing to it. To remove the Nothing from calculations, the Nothing is removed from “is”. So how then to
approach the Nothing? Heidegger opens the window to the Nothing through Anxiety. Not the general anxiety that is fear or trepidation, but the great Anxiety, the Anxiety that eludes
explanation. “We can not say what it is before which one feels ill at ease.” It is in this Anxiety that one eludes the totality of Beings and slips into the revelation of the Nothing.
This Anxiety then is the involuntary removal of the Self from beings, the curling of the mind away from logic towards questions without answers. Heidegger also states that one
can not pursue Anxiety and thus can not pursue the Nothing because “pursuit” is beingcentric. Anxiety is and the Nothing is, but neither can be grasped through conscious
deliberate intention. They are both a destination without traveling.

So what then of the Nothing? “In our asking we posit the nothing in advance as something that ‘is’ such and such; we posit it as a being. But that is exactly what it is distinguished from.” To turn a Heideggerian phrase: the Nothing is something that is nothing because nothing can not be something yet can be Nothing. It is this interpretation of the Nothing that Heidegger states in the mist of his exposition. The Nothing is the quality of abandonment of preconceived notions, of logical puzzles. The Nothing denies the “is” of something.

Denying or defining the Nothing means to lose Philosophy itself. “The nothing what else can it be for science but an outrage and a phantasm?” Man’s quest to explain everything is the quest to eliminate the Nothing, to eliminate metaphysical questions, which in turn causes Philosophy, the pure essence of the Nothing, to become philosophy,
the science-driven pursuit of knowledge. Adhering to science, Man loses his own essence. Losing the essence of Man is like the losing of childhood wonder. An old saying goes: “your childhood is over the moment you realize that you are going to die.” This is where logic and science intrude. And this is where the Nothing is lost.

But the Nothing can not be truly lost for it is always there. Heidegger seems to prompt for one to unlearn what one has learned, which is a Taoist and Buddhist ideal. To unlearn one abandons accepted fact and explores the unexplainable, not to explain it but to question it, to ask the Why. The question of the unexplainable is not rooted in the explanation but the journey to it. A journey is not pursuit because to undertake a journey one never needs to travel to a destination. A pursuit is an action that has a conceived end. It is the journey that is the Nothing; it is Philosophy itself. Philosophy, the Nothing, then is the question of the Why?

“Unyielding antagonism and stinging rebuke have a more abysmal source than the measured negation of thought.” The measure negation of thought is the Why and the Why is the abandonment of measured logic. To a scientist the why of why is the sky blue is answerable because of the refraction of light in semi-spherical water vapor. The Why of why is the sky blue to a child, full of wonderment and without scientific rigor, has no answer and all answers and is the Nothing. The journey of childhood is ensconced in the Why. All things to a child are encountered for the first time and this encountering is wrapped in the Why. Children are rarely satisfied with the adult answers to their questions, always prompting for further
explanations. This is the Nothing.

A friend’s child once asked if all veterinarians are vegetarians? Certainly they are not and this is the essence of the Why. Logic would answer that it is improbable and unfeasible to assume that all veterinarians should be vegetarians because such a thing is dis-logical. But in the Why, the Nothing, the question is not the asked one but the one that is implied which is: Why is it that not all veterinarians are vegetarians? The answers are not important; the question itself is.

Music is the journey of the Why. Music can be explained in terms of mathematics and physics. The Mozart Effect is a known phenomenon. And because it is a phenomenon science has despaired to explain it. But in the Nothing there is no need for the explanation but for the experience of it. Music is or the Mozart Effect is. This is the Why and not the why.

Heidegger wrote “Metaphysics is inquiry beyond or over beings which aims to recover them as such and as a whole for our grasp.” The essence then of beings, the essence of metaphysics itself, is then the Nothing, the Why. Grasping the ungraspable is the pursuit of science and not the journey of the Nothing. The existence of the ungraspable and the Why of it is the Nothing. This is Philosophy.

Lao-tzu in the Tao te Ching, which predates Heidegger by over two thousand years, wrote of the Nothing as “it is hidden but always present.” How can something hidden be present? The asking of this question is the Why as it has no answer outside of science and this is the essence of the Nothing that Heidegger reveals. Without science there is the Why and the Nothing, which are questions without answers. “The nothing does not remain the indeterminate opposite of beings but reveals itself as belonging to the Being of beings.” The core, the Being, of beings then is the Nothing. It is a Hegelian essence. A being without Being is the why and not the Why.

Science can not explain the essence of a being just as it can not explain free will. It can define, but the definition is not an explanation. Searle and Dennett have argued for decades over the concept of free will, both seeking for a resolve to the question. Their disagreement itself is the Why, is the Nothing revealed. Free will, consciousness, is the Being of beings and therefore Nothing. So where does this leave us in the journey of the Nothing? This essay itself, much like Heidegger’s, is a disjointed spiral of confusion and both reveal the Nothing. Attempting to explain the Nothing is the asking of the Why but answering neither. The Nothing truly needs no answer because it is nothing. Heidegger has established an almost Zen exercise by positing the Nothing. He has used the Nothing to further his goal.

Heidegger’s point to be taken then, is that one needs to return to pure thought and reason, to suspend logic and science and the why question and to instead pursue the Nothing and the Why and by doing so restore life back into Philosophy. If one stops asking the Why then what is the point of existence? Heidegger concluded his essay with the Nothing compelled to ask: “Why are there beings at all, and why not rather nothing?” If Philosophy remains as philosophy and the Why becomes why, then beings lose Being, reason is succumbed by logic, and the Nothing becomes something. The point of existence then is to exist without ever asking again: “Why?”

15 September 2009

Horkheimer’s Illusionary Script

To understand Horkheimer’s “The End of Reason”, one has need to understand the historical timeline the paper was written during. In 1937, four years prior, Horkheimer published the essay “Traditional and Critical Theory”, an essay which defined critical theory as a revolutionary form of Marxist theory, which called for the radical transformation in social theory and practice. It was not until eight years after “The End of Reason” that Horkheimer softened his stance on transformation by limiting it to educational systems, adopting Gramsci’s hegemony, which has since been expanded upon by Ivan Illich.

As the United States in 1941 was anti-communist and anti-fascist, and Horkheimer ensconced at Columbia University in New York City, his views had need to be carefully couched, have felicific calculus applied. It is because of this to truly understand “The End of Reason”, one has to apply Wittgenstein methods to it, to determine the different “language games”, to use Ockham’s Razor to obtain clarity. It is clear that Horkheimer was objecting to the global collectivism of society, the historical materialism, Smyth’s technocracy. What is not immediately clear though is the meaning of his final sentence which concludes with: “…there is nothing left but barbarism or freedom.(p48)” Freedom and barbarism have multitudinous definitions. Freedom is commonly accepted as liberty, an ideal, and barbarism as anathematic: cruel and savage. But, more obscure, meanings for the words, meanings a highly educated person like Horkheimer would know, change the entire reading of his essay and give it life as a call to fulfill critical theory, a destruction of the monist dystopia of Science.

To Horkheimer, reason equated to the Spinozian belief that man could find liberation through knowledge. This is the freedom he wrote of in common interpretations of this essay, the apodictic reading. Reason, not sullied by Science, could buttress man from the assailment of the machine of science, the grinding of the human gear. For in Horkheimer’s view, man had been hebetated, had become a slave to the reason of machine and its dominance. The path for freedom for the vulgus was through reason.

Barbarism was man’s other option, according to Horkheimer, a barbarism driven by bellipotent Science, driven to subsume reason and obliterate it. This option Horkheimer railed against, for man would truly then be a part, a gear, in a machine. The vox populi would cease and man would become the mechanolater, the worshipper of machines. It would be the realization of Abelard’s warning that man without reason must be content with authority. Man would cease to be, man.

But, given the historical timeline of this essay, Horkheimer was a first phase critical theorist, a man who supported radical transformation to achieve the Marxist ideals of a society progressing from capitalism to socialism to a classless society, a man who could not voice those views openly for fear of imprisonment or death. As such, Horkheimer had need to obscure his true intent through this essay, obscured in such a way that only others who held his views could truly understand, his own camarilla, secret political society. Horkheimer went to length describing the rise of the Nazis, while detailing how reason had become epitonic. The ingurgitation of reason by Science, the enslavement, was an almost Götterdämerung against man.

For Horkheimer, the Kafkaesque nightmare must be vanquished, must be subverted, for only then could change occur, could man begin the Marxist utopia. It is because of this that one has need to utilize alternate meanings for the words freedom and barbarism. Freedom also means facility, a transvaluation of freedom for servitude. Man could find freedom by accepting his imprisonment as a cog, as a prisoner does once he accepts he will never leave his prison. “It induces the individual to subordinate himself to society… (p29)” Freedom means then to be boundless of reason, to do as Duncan’s queen in MacBeth and “die every day she lived.” To be facile to Horkheimer truly meant the death, oblivion of man as an individual by the machine. Heidegger’s Sein zum Tode, an anonymous face in an anonymous crowd. Man in context then would be but a disposable part of the machine, the machine Gestalt to man, the sum greater than the parts.

In the Roman Empire, barbarism was the action of the uncivilized, the uneducated, the un-Roman. To this end Horkheimer urges man, to strive against society, the technocracy, to accept reason as a paramour, an illicit lover. Reason alone could affricate, grate against, the machine of society, to “strip the gears” of production, to bring the machine to a halt. Horkheimer assailed Aristotle as the progenitor of empirical science, the same man who in Ethics wrote: “when devoid of virtue, man is the most unscrupulous and savage of animals.” This is the dualism of Horkheimer’s words. Man as a barbarian, a bantling, no longer anonymous, could seize control of the machine, Science, and regain his position as man. Horkheimer, no Luddite, could have foreseen man gaining control of the machine through reason, the machine then serving man.

Evidentiary to Horkheimer’s true intent is his allusions to individuals who stood against the Church, individuals who rose from the crowd, and who paid for their beliefs. Horkheimer espouses Roger Bacon and Siger of Brabant, both imprisoned for heresy against the Church, the latter murdered. These were men who railed against the machine of their time, who embraced reason and rejected collectivism, and who were resolute to accept the consequences of their actions. Horkheimer writes of Duns Scotus, who challenged the Church, its capitalism, and suffered eternal ignominy as from him the word dunce has arisen. Horkheimer refers also to Romeo and Juliet who “died in conflict with society… (p43)” Romeo and Juliet, the jusqu’ au
botists, radicals, through felo de se, self-murder, an apologia, rejected their unreasonable society. These examples were not idly selected by Horkheimer, were not an afterthought. Horkheimer chose these as examples of hope against the technocracy because “morality has survived insofar as men are conscious that the reality to which they yield is not the right one. (p36)”

Horkheimer’s interpretation of the Reformation, and of Luther, as a training of man to subordination is curious, peculiar. Luther, with hammer and nail, crucified the despotic capitalistic oligarchy of the Church. Horkheimer had previously quoted Voltaire’s belief that the proletariat could be enlightened to reason only by apostles, and Luther was an apostle. Luther had used reason as a weapon a gainst the collectivism of the Church, as a means to his own end. Perhaps one could deduce that Horkheimer referred to Luther recanting of his beliefs, his subordination to that which he fought against, his acceptance of freedom as facility, as “the idea of
reason, even in its nominalistic and purified form, has always justified sacrifice. (p33)”

But then, it could be argued that Luther through reason, had sacrificed his ideals, a “sacrificium intellectus. (p40)” To Horkheimer, “reason could recognize and denounce the forms of injustice
and thus emancipate itself from them. (p47)” Reason then, in a society that abhorred it, condemned it, could become the Urgrund, the primary principle, the apotropaic weapon. Reason could be the salvation of man, could free man from being a piece of the machine. As Dostoyevsky wrote in Notes from Underground (MacAndrew, A.R., 1961, New York: Signet Classic, p114-5):

But even if man was nothing but a piano key, even if this could be demonstrated to him mathematically- even then, he wouldn’t come to his senses but would pull some trick out of sheer ingratitude, just to make his point. And if he didn’t have them on hand, he would devise the means of destruction, chaos, and all kinds of suffering to get his way. For instance he’d swear loud enough for the whole world to hear- swearing is man’s prerogative, setting him apart from the other animals- and maybe his swearing alone would get him what he wanted, that is, it’d prove to him that he’s a man and not a piano key.

Reason would require an anti-Heidegger man, the one freed from the anonymous crowd, freed from the machine, the one who would deny death and act as immortal, the barbarian. Maine de Biran believed that man could achieve freedom through source of will. Post mortem nihil est, ipsaque mori nihil. After death there is nothing, not even death. Sartre argued that how man dies is eternal, regardless of how man has lived. Reason, recognizing the injustice of the technocracy, the devolution of man as a Baalist of the machine of Science, would be the tool to true freedom, liberty. As Bob Marley wrote in “Redemption Song”: “emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
none but ourselves can free our mind.” Emancipation of reason would lead man to actual freedom.

“The terror which pushes reason is at the same time the last means of stopping it, so close has truth come. (p48)” The terror, the sublimation of humanitas, had begun to draw man nigh. Horkheimer here suggested that terror had need to beget terror, for a man with reason to respond in kind to the terror of the machine, to use the very foundation the machine had been built upon to undermine it. Further in “Redemption Song” Marley wrote: “how long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look.” In this case, the prophet is reason, it is the apostle to man, the barbarian, outcast from the technocracy, desirous to slay facility, Voltaire’s apostle to the proletariat.

This is the message Horkheimer has concealed in this essay, that man must free himself from the machine, from Science, that man is not a piano key, and man must become man again, to regain the humanitas denied him by the machine, through reason. Man is on the precipice, the edge of permanent oblivion, servitude to the machine of Science, a machine that seeks to explain away the necessity of man. No longer should man accept the status quo, the anonymous oblivion of the
collective, no longer equate freedom with facility, but to battle facility outside of society, as a barbarian, freed from the machine in an a fortiori war, as the machine holds power only through the slave of man, for as yet, it is not autonomous. Man can strike then and become master, slave lord, of the machine. Man would then realize the Rastafarian “I and I”, which denotes “we” as a true collection of individuals, and no longer be anonymous, no longer be a cog. Horkheimer did not intend a Trotskyian ideal, a permanent revolution, but a revolution of reason, an end to the
totalitarianism of Science and the establishment of socialism, where the machine becomes tool and serves man.

When Horkheimer wrote “…there is nothing left but barbarism or freedom (p48)”, he was not referring to just the common definitions of those words, of liberty and savagery, but also of facility and uncivilized. The keys to understanding his true meaning lay within the confines of his essay, buried there because Horkheimer had need to be non-pellucid, vague, had feared his own freedom in the context of his era, the pre-McCarthian United States. He wrote of the rise of Fascism to illustrate the solecism of the machine of Science, the error in calculation that man would accept slavehood. Through his detail of Fascism he exposed the underbelly of the machine.

He purposely chose to illustrate those who battled against the totality of religion, those who sacrificed in the name of their ideals against the Church in an ideological struggle of methodologies. Horkheimer wrote a call for a revolution of reason, of humanitas armed with reason, against the machine, its weaknesses exposed, for man to use and embrace barbarism, to be uncivilized, to not be an anonymous piece of a machine, to attain Fichte’s how the world should be, how it should be altered through reason, true freedom, liberty.

28 August 2009

Cosmological Fallacy

The irrationality of a thing is no argument against its existence, rather a condition of it.
---Friedrich Nietzsche

At the latter end of the 1200's, John Duns Scotus put forth his idea of the first efficient
cause (Opera Omnia. Civitas Vaticana: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1950-). It was an attempt to logically prove the existence of god. His argument, composed of seven steps, is as follows:
(1) No effect can produce itself.
(2) No effect can be produced by just nothing at all.
(3) A circle of causes is impossible.
(4) Therefore, an effect must be produced by something else. (from 1, 2, and 3)
(5) There is no infinite regress in an essentially ordered series of causes.
(6) It is not possible for there to be an accidentally ordered series of causes unless there is an
essentially ordered series.
(7) Therefore, there is a first agent. (from 4, 5, and 6)
These seven steps, in effect, refuted while achieving nearly the same end, instead of improved upon, the argument of Anselm in his Monologia. Scotus's final step, that there is a god, is dependant upon each of the prior steps proving to be a logical possibility. Interestingly, steps 1, 2, and 6 are basic tenets of quantum physics (History and Root of the Principles of the Conservation of Energy. E. Mach. Open Court Pub. Co., IL., 1872). Steps 3-5 are the most difficult to support, and are most likely illogical and untrue.

Step two requires that no effect is can be caused by nothing. In effect, something must be the cause. Since something must be caused by something, cause and effect is circular. This is widely supported by physics, particularly quantum physics. Many philosophers have attempted to side-step this (notably Davidson, Haack, and Gasking) by creating a pseudo cause and effect that is dependent upon human manipulation. For this pseudo situation to be true, it would follow that a god is a manipulation of man and exists solely because of man. Nietzsche and Sartre both made that claim. This is antithetical to the theist view of a god.

Step three involves there being a terminal point for causes. Since each effect follows a cause, Scotus is requiring time to be linear. There is no other possibility. While this is a viable possibility, there are problems with it. There are fields of physics dedicated to proving that linear time either does not exist or runs concurrent with non-linear time at various intersections.

Even Anselm recognized that linear time was a problem to any theory of a god:
By contrast, if something is in no way constrained by confinement in a place or time, no law of places or times forces it into a multiplicity of parts or prevents it from being present as a whole all at once in several places or times (Monologia,22).

That a circle of causes is impossible (step three), according to Scotus, violates the second and fourth step. If an effect can not be produced by nothing at all , then it goes to logic that every produced effect is dependent upon a prior effect, and that each that follows is also dependent on the prior, without terminus. This is itself a circle. From Buddhism this point is made clear. The Buddhists believe that when one looks at a stream, one sees both the end and the beginning of the stream; it is the end of the source of the stream and the beginning of a new source.

Given the possibility of the fourth step being true, that an effect must be caused by a prior one, as it does follow from two, the fifth step potentially violates 1, 2, and 4. For the fifth step, that an infinite regress is not possible, to be logical and true, it would require that time be absolutely linear, with a definite beginning and end. This would be an establishment of a primary cause, and as such makes the first two steps either illogical or false. An effect that can not cause itself (α), and one that must be caused (β), can not be dependent upon linear time (~γ), a primary. But if time is linear (γ), then α and/or β is not possible.

If α is not true, then an effect can be the cause of itself. But, if this is so, then it follows that any effect can be the cause of itself, and is not limited to a god. In this, if a god is the cause of itself, and with α being false, self-causation of effect is granted. Because this law would need to be an universal one, in order not to violate multiple rules of physics, it would also follow that a tomato could be the cause of itself. A human could be the cause of a human. Darwinian evolution would be an anomaly.

Also, if β is not true, then an effect can be caused by nothing. This would allow for a god to be created without causation. That in itself violates many laws of physics and would require a nothing to not only have a definite property, but be uncaused. And if a nothing has property, then it can not logically be “nothing”; it is something. What follows then is that nothing is something and is the cause of an effect. If this nothing is something, then it is the primary point of causation (β therefore α) and time must be linear (if β and α therefore γ). But as has been shown, α and/or β must not be true for γ to be true ( ~α and/or ~β therefore γ).

There is much debate as to whether time is linear. It has been conjectured that time exists in a manner that we do not readily understand, and that our theory of time is limited to being linear by necessity. Einstein was certainly not the first nor the last to hypothesize the possibility of time travel. For this to be conceivable, time can not be linear. To travel back in time, say ten years, requires that time runs parallel, because if it did not, and we were able to travel backwards, we would most likely de-age ten years. To do otherwise would violate all knowledge we have of physics. Because we would be traveling between two points along a line, and since we can not exist in tangent with another of ourselves at that same point, we must regress. But if time is parallel or circular, we could achieve travel and exist with ourselves simultaneously at the same point in time. Non-linear time proves Scotus's fifth step to be illogical and false.

With the possibility of non-linear time, and with the above by Anselm, it is theoretically possible that the multiverse theory is plausible. The multiverse theory proposes that our universe is not unique and that there are at least one other universe coexisting with ours. This calls into question most of our current understanding of physics. Also the existence of a god becomes more feasible.

This possibility can then uphold many of Scotus's steps and could ratify Anselm as well. The problem of linear time would be solved as both linear and non-linear could exist together, and that in our universe it would be entirely possible to have a first cause that arose from nothing, which would be a crossing between multiverses. More clearly, since Scotus has put forth that an infinite regression is not possible, and that an effect can not cause itself or be produced by nothing at all, if a god existed in another universe and crossed into our own, that god would arise from nothing and yet not cause itself. This would give support Anselm's idea entirely. But to support Scotus fully, his first efficient cause would need to be amended as such:
1. No effect can produce itself.
2. No effect can be produced by just nothing at all.
3. There is no infinite regress in an essentially ordered series of causes.
a. Only if time is linear
b. If time is non-linear than an infinite regress of causes is possible.
c. The infinite regress requires that there be at least 1 other universe, a multiverse.
d. Because of the multiverse, regression can cross between time and place.
e. This amends #2 as the multiverse is a form of nothing in that it exists outside of our time and
4. Therefore, an effect must be produced by something else. (from 1, 2, and 3)
5. It is not possible for there to be an accidentally ordered series of causes unless there is an essentially
ordered series.
6. Therefore, there is a first agent. (from 3, 4, and 5)
But even with these modifications the final step is logical, but does not necessarily equal that the first agent is a god. The first agent could simply be another being that has crossed the boundaries of the multiverse.

While Scotus went to great pains to formulate a logical representation for the existence of a god, to the satisfaction of theists, he went wide of the mark. Granted it is not feasible to assume that he would have the knowledge, or even the insight to it, of what we now possess. He worked with what was available to him in his time and while his first cause is flawed, it can be repaired and can still be possible. At our current level of understanding of the universe we can not unequivacably dismiss his theory. In fact, as our base of knowledge grows, it does make his first cause more probable.

15 August 2009

Science as Religion

Saint Anselm, in the Monologion, postulated that there is some one thing that exists which all things exist and that one thing exists through itself so therefore is greater than all other things. The significance of this statement is that Anselm side-stepped the problem of faith in a fairly convincing way. He would later define his position even more sharply in Proslogion.

Religion is philosophy. For a religion to not be a philosophy, it must prove that its deity truly exists. None can do that and they rely upon "faith". The position of faith has been argued since before Anselm's time to the present. Kant worked around the issue with his Categorical Imperative, which loosely outlined, is the work towards the greatest good. Kierkegaard addressed faith as the only way a person can achieve the true self.

But Kierkegaard realized that Christian religion, and I would argue religion in general, harms itself with dogma, because its dogma denies reason because of its paradoxes. To counter this Kierkegaard made his argument of faith through the absurd (suspension of reason to believe in something higher than reason).

Interestingly, Pope John Paul II made this statement: Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish (John Paul II, "Letter to Reverend George V. Coyne, S.J.", Origins, 378.).

It is a tantalizing statement. Science and religious philosophy have virtually always been at odds, basically because science does not require faith; science deals ultimately with absolutes (water exists). If science and religion work more closely, will science remove faith, as faith is superstition? Did John Paul introduce something more dangerous than the faith problem by introducing the possibility that science is religion?

Think about that last statement. Science deals with absolutes. It does not require Kierkegaard's absurd, embraces (to a point) Kant's Categorical Imperative, and also fulfills Anselm's test. For religion to be something other than philosophy, it must prove its deity exists absolutely and therefore remove the need for faith. Following this line, science is the only true religion. I tend to believe that John Paul saw this issue coming to a head in the near future and attempted to stave it off by joining religious belief with science again, as it was before Copernicus.

04 August 2009

Death and Humanity

First off, let me toss out there that death is a state (being dead) and does not have the usual religious attributes attached to it. You die you are dead. That being said, Feldman's Termination Thesis (2000) is to me, the most logical position to take regarding death. In layman's terms, when we die, everything about us ceases to exist. In effect we are annihilated in the process. Religion of course has spawned the theory that we exist beyond death, as though death is a transitory state, akin to Donne's Death Be Not Proud. Religion takes advantage of a common human flaw, the need to exist beyond our given span in time. Ozymandias comes to mind. We humans mate for the sake of continuing our line, the same thing that other animals do. And for some reason, humans spend thousands of hours worrying about what comes after death, as though there must be something beyond, that there is no logical reason for us to be born, live and then die and then have nothing else.

Death is death. Moths die. Plants die. Solar systems die. Humans die. That is the commonality that brings us all together, that is the universal truth.

25 July 2009

Free will and consciousness: are they conjoined twins?

There are those that believe that you can not have free will without being conscious. Most will accept that you can be conscious but have no free will. I won't get into the Ontological portion of the argument in this post (but will eventually I am sure). I maintain that one could be either conscious or have a free will but it is not necessary to have both. To clarify, I can be conscious but have no free will, and I can have free will and have no consciousness.

The first part is easy to support. But how can one have free will and not be conscious? If monkeys do not have consciousness (many believe that humans are the only conscious things), and you put a banana to the left and right of them and they select a banana, then they have free will without consciousness. Could this apply to humans? Certainly. We make choices all the time (free will) but have no real viable means of detecting if we are actually conscious.

18 July 2009

Brain-state and causality

Let's start with a quote by Donald Davidson:

The notion of supervenience, as I have used it, is best thought of as a relation between a predicate and a set of predicates in a language: a predicate p is supervenient on a set of predicates S if for every pair of objects such that p is true of one and not of the other there is a predicate of S that is true of one and not of the other (Davidson, 1985, p. 242).

Previous theories had argued that claims concerning the identity of particular mental and physical events depended upon the discovery of lawlike relations between mental and physical properties. These theories thus held that empirical evidence supporting such laws was required for particular identity claims. According to Anomalous Monism, however, it is precisely because there can be no such strict laws that causally interacting mental events must be identical to some physical event. The token-identity thesis thus requires no empirical evidence and depends on there being no lawlike relations. It in effect justifies the token-identity of mental and physical events through arguing for the impossibility of type-identities between mental and physical properties or kinds (Davidson 1970, 209, 212-13; see Johnston 1985).

To draw his ideas out further, x=y IFF z (z causes x and implies y or z causes y and implies x) and z (x causes z and implies y or y causes z and implies x).

An explanation of an agent's action can be considered adequate only if it shows the action in question to be reasonable against the background of an agent's beliefs and desires. This latter
condition together with the truth condition, which states that the propositional attitudes a rationalization attributes to an agent must be true, form the necessary conditions for the justification model of explanation.

Davidson considers the above conditions necessary but not sufficient. The deficiency of the justification model is explained by drawing attention to the distinction between having a
reason for an action and having the reason why one performs an action. For a reason to be the reason why one performs an action the reason must cause the action.

For example, one has a reason to turn on the television, say, to watch one's favorite TV show. But this need not be the reason why one turns on the television. This is because the above reason did not cause one to turn on the television.

As Davidson puts it:

[S]omething essential has certainly been left out, for a person can have a reason for an action, and perform the action, and yet this reason not be the reason why he did it.

The reason for one to turn on the television could simply be because one is lonely and desires company. Thus, one reason (namely, to keep one company) was the cause of the action while the other reason (namely, to watch one's favorite show) wasn't.

Davidson continues:

Of course, we can include this idea too in justification; but then the notion of justification becomes as dark as the notion of reason until we can account for the force of that "because."
The mere possibility that a person acted on the basis of one reason rather than another presents an insurmountable obstacle. The anti-causalist has no way of accounting for the force of the "because" in the rationalization.

The only solution, according to Davidson, is to view the efficacious reasons (the ones that account for the correct rationalization) as causes of action. This leaves us, according to Davidson, with only one alternative to justificationalism, namely, the view that reason explanation is a species of causal explanation.

According to Anomalous Monism, however, it is precisely because there can be no such strict laws that causally interacting mental events must be identical to some physical event.

X=X but is not dependent on brain-state.

11 July 2009

Kant and Love

Kant put forth an idea that love is nothing more than the legal co-ownership of physical parts. Many philosophers have bemoaned this idea, notably Horkheimer, as though love is an actual obtainable ideal. I put forth that love is nothing more than acquiring goods in return for services, a form of capitalism, if you will.

Zeus would impregnate females on whim. De Sade used love for the purpose of exploring sexual taboos. English Parliament sought to marry its "virgin queen" to secure power over the French.

Throughout history love has been nothing more than utilitarian, except in the prose of the poets.

I state that love does not exist, but is simply a tool to achieve "something": power, riches, social standing, sexual fulfillment, and/or lust. I should have better defined "love". Love in the romantic sense can be best defined as a complex neurochemical response, one that can be mimicked by chocolate. The endorphins create a "pleasant" feeling, and one could argue, an addiction. This would explain the "heart break" phenomena.

My post is a bit of a Catch-22, on rethink. Stating that love is an acquisition of goods is almost equating it to the classic psychological question of "if you give a beggar money, do you do it for the beggar or yourself?" I suppose it opens love up to the Ontological question.

But, based on our knowledge of neurotransmitters, the endorphins and such, it does seem plausible that Kant was truly on to something more universal than the arranged marriages of his time.

I also agree that familial love is a bit different, but that too could be a form of endorphin addiction, though I would suspect that a different sort of neurotransmitter is involved. But, if familial love was without boundaries, without a give and take of wants, there would not be estranged families.

In all, love seems to be a complex weave of neuron firings, social more' fulfillment, and desired resolution of a want.

08 July 2009

Is theory of mind true science?

Using Searle's Chinese Room as a basis, when it was first proposed, it was believed to be untestable because of the limitations of computer technology. Even so, to test it would have required the inclusion of computer science and mathematics. Theory of mind at that point was just philosophy and thus pseudo science (Popper, Kuhn).

But, along came several brilliant philosophers (Mooney comes to mind) who thoroughly destroyed that test and showed that a computer could beat the room.

Now, because theory of mind was able to solve the puzzle of the room without incorporating help from what is considered true sciences, it was able to satisfy Popper's falsifiability, pass Kuhn's test, refute Holism, and complete a Bayesian equation. As such, theory of mind transitioned from pseudo science to true science.

Additional evidence is Dennett being moved from the philosophy department to the cognitive science department, and UGA building an AI program that depends on theory of mind.

Metaphysical Questions: can we do away with them?

Given that one of the purposes of Post Modern Philosophy (PoMo) is to eliminate the need for metaphysical questions and adhere to some sort of "language game", tossed out by Wittgenstein and furthered by Rorty, the obvious question has to be then, is it possible to remove metaphysical questions?

Rorty of course, in his "don't want to get trapped in an argument I can't win" style, has relegated metaphysics to some sort of "private language". With PoMo relying upon empirical language and such, what is the place for theories? Are these not metaphysical questions with an official stamp?

For me, Voltaire may have actually had a quite apt knowledge of human spirit when he stated that if "god did not exist, man would create one". It seems to me, that metaphysical questions are a driving force in humanitas.

While I believe that one day Science will be able to map every part of the brain (consciousness, ...), there will still be the question of whether it is truly correct.

So I have to ask then, is it feasible at all to think it is possible to abandon metaphysical questions???

Chaos and reality

Is there anything that has stability, or are all things governed by chaos? If you think about the lifespan of a human, on the surface it is mostly stable, but it is not at all. A person can die at any moment for any reason. The seasons are on a Gregorian calendar, and that is a stable thing, but we all know that the seasons change as they will. Summer begins sometime in June, not necessarily on the 20th. The Sun grows older and larger every day, but what prevents it from going supernova tomorrow?

Is there anything that is immune to the influence of chaos, and therefore stable, or is everything influenced by chaos?

Note: And before anyone replies that chaos is stable because we know it is chaotic, I allow that it might be the only stable thing in the universe.

06 July 2009

Understanding the empty room

The Spacious Mind

By Ajahn Sumedo, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. V, #1

The spacious mind has room for everything. It is like the space in a room, which is never harmed by what goes in and out of it. In fact, we say "the space in this room," but actually, the room is in the space, the whole building is in the space. When the building has gone, the space will still be there. The space surrounds the building, and right now we are containing space in a room. With this view we can develop a new perspective. We can see that there are walls creating the shape of the room and there is the space. Looking at it one way, the walls limit the space in the room. But looking at it another way, we see that space is limitless.

From the Tao, it is not the room that is important, but the space within. From Heidegger, the space exists whether the room does or not.

But I feel that what we fail to realize is that it is the space, the empty area that defines the room, that we never truly understand. The area we live in is filled with our stuff, stuff that we feel defines us, but the space between all of that is what truly does. It feels all that we do, and absorbs our energies, recording what we were at that moment in time.

And that is what we fail to see, that all that we do is seen somewhere, usually by the space around us, and is recorded. While we all wish to be good and do the right thing, in reality we all have our own dark moments. The space around us records it.

No, we should not avoid the darkness. It is part of our own human nature and vital to our survival. It makes us who we are, and if we can embrace it as natural, then we will be whole.

03 July 2009

Intelligent Design = No free will

ID (intelligent design/creationism) has purported that the entire universe was created by an intelligent 'designer' and actually do use some factual scientific evidence to support it. And of course, their scientific evidence is dwarfed by the Darwinic evidence. But I digress. The hole I want to poke into their entire argument centers on free will.

For about as long as philosophy has existed, free will has been a hot debate. From my readings of ID, readings that say that everything was created following a specific design, there is only one possibility regarding free will: there is none.

You see, if someone created us, and we were created to serve a purpose, that purpose is our drive. To have such a drive is akin to a computer program. The program could be a jumble of useless code, but if it were, it would not serve its purpose. But if the code was specific, the program would do what the author intended. As such, if we were all created to fulfill a purpose, then we have no free will.

To extend it further, no creator of anything will create something that has no purpose. Yes, artists do create 'anti-art' but in doing so, they create art. To paraphrase Hegel and Heidegger, nothing is something because labeling a nothing 'nothing' makes it something. An intelligent creator would not create beings that had zero purpose. That would be illogical and defy the intelligent basis of the argument. The ID science shows intelligent purpose. From my memory: "the universe was created by the creator following a specific plan. Nothing created was by chance or haphazard." And the ID crowd have gone to great lengths to tackle the 'by chance' angle. They have proposed wonderful mind games to prove their point. Such as:

If you are riding on a train towards Wales and you see a bunch of rocks on a hillside, and those rocks spell out 'welcome to Wales' (those rocks actually exist, they were put there by the British Railways) you have two choices, which are either they were put there following a plan or they were completely arranged as such by chance. The point of that exercise is to illustrate the 'impossibility' of the universe evolving by chance (yes, the argument goes much deeper, but let's not cover that now).

And that is where ID falls upon its own sword. Not only do most of their assertions result in endless loops (meaning that they can not be true), there is simply no possible way for them to allow for free will without destroying their own argument.

For a being to have free will, that being must be able to make all choices according to its own personal whim, to have the ability to go against a plan. With ID, there is a plan. With ID, there is no free will.

To take it further, without a free will, and with a plan, then heaven and hell could not exist at all. They would simply be aberrations, ghosts in the machine, delusions. When the machine, man, ceases to exist, so would heaven and hell. If one must have an afterlife, then only heaven or only hell must exist. For both to exist, there can be either no designer or no free will.

A bit of Hegel regarding will

Removing one's will from the body is not relinquishing one's will, one's self. Only death could accomplish that. Allowing another to possess oneself, in the apparent absence of the will is just an act of the will, but not a true possession, nor is it coercion. The will is not something that can be arbitrarily turned off and on, as it is an universal. Only through the rejection of life, accepting death, does the will cease to be our own will. Existence is not to be confused with Dasein, and I think this may be the crux of the problem.

02 July 2009

The Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma: A meta-solution for evolution

Dennett's example of the prisoner's dilemma, used as a backdrop for the evolutionary stable strategy (ESS) of Maynard Smith, may be a foundational explanation for adaptation. Adaptation is best illustrated in Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning: “Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual. (p98)” Adaptation is a characteristic of an organism that has been favored by natural selection. In a sense, if an organism has two evolutionary “choices”, a long neck or a short one, the one that provides to best chance for continued existence of the organism is the most likely one to be selected. Negative characteristics, mutants, may remain for a few generations, but the effect on the organism is generally extinction (organism or characteristic). A cornerstone of Darwinian evolution is the drive for replication, continued existence. Dennett fervently supports adaptation as being necessary to continued existence, that it is an optimality assumption.

Dennett relies on Dresher and Flood's prisoner's dilemma to explain Maynard Smith's evolutionary stable strategy (ESS), a theory in evolutionary game theory. The prisoner's dilemma is quite simple in its design. Two people are each given two choices, to either cooperate (stay quiet) or to defect (implicate the other), with established payoffs. This builds a payoff in a 2x2 matrix. If both defect the payoff is zero, both cooperate the payoff is 2, and if one defects and the other cooperates, the payoff is -1 and 4, respectively. Dennett slightly changes the payoffs (reverses the choices) in order to make his point. This may actually corrupt the game, as it weights the optimal choice to be cooperation. But even so, an ESS can be established, with both players selecting what is optimal for themselves, continual defection in the classic game and in Dennett's version.

The question arises then: if mutual cooperation is beneficial (Dennett's version) and since genetical (physical stance) there is bounded rationality (near-optimal behavior in regards to goals, or “as-if” rationality), which in turn should theoretically mean that at the gene level of an organism mutual cooperation would be the standard, with defection as an aberration. But Dennett takes the stance that the suboptimal always defect, which is not the same as near-optimal, is the standard. While adaptation is still a viable theory, ESS comes into question. Paraphrasing Dawkins, ESS is a strategy that competes well with like organisms (clones?), and is a strategy of domination (p254). ESS by definition is a stable strategy, in alignment with Dawkins, but also partially with my above question. Mutual defection or mutual cooperation, which is the strategy of domination and stable at the same time?

One of the most curious omissions of Dennett is to the iterated prisoner's dilemma. Simply described: as the game is iterated, the players learn from each other, becoming better able to predict the moves of their opponent and choose the optimal response. It could be claimed that this version requires genes to have rationality, but does it? A gene, according to Dennett, will act in whatever manner necessary to guarantee replication. It seems apparent, that even with as-if rationality, a fluid strategy is probable.

While this still reflects Dawkin's and Dennett's view of ESS, in both Dennett's version and the classic version, it begins to shift away from my posited theory, that mutual cooperation is the optimal strategy. Axelrod in The Evolution of Cooperation (1984) proved just this. The strategy of tit for tat (credited to Anatol Rapoport), cooperates on move one and afterwards does whatever the opponent did in the previous round, was pitted against over fifty competing theories in 200 cycles each. It came out on top against all the others. Axelrod repeated his experiment, this time Maynard Smith submitted his theory, a variation of Rapoport's (tit for two tats), and finished in 24th out of 66 entries. Again tit for tat beat all the others.

A case could be made that ESS is tit for tat. Without going into the mathematics behind optimality payoffs, mutual cooperation in the classic game is the optimal choice and the most rational. Mutual defection in Dennett's version is the optimal choice and most rational. The latter supports Dennett's illustration of the mother and the fetus. But turning to species, Dennett's version of the prisoner's dilemma only works at the meta-level.

Taking into account three types of species, the super predators (crocodiles), the predators (tigers), and the non-predators (gazelles), we can assign always defect, defect or cooperate, and always cooperate to them. If we follow Dennett's version, then logically one would have to assume that crocodiles represent ESS at the non-meta level. The tigers are able to mostly represent ESS at the non-meta level. But, the gazelles do not seem to. How can a creature that always cooperates have continued survival against crocodiles and tigers? Of course this is at the intentional level, and the as-if rationality becomes actual rationality.

Returning to the gene level, bringing back to focus the as-if rationality, ESS and Dennett's version of the prisoner's dilemma works as a meta strategy. The genes of all three animals are not
aware of the choices being made at the intentional level, but are driven to defection, adaptation, to increase the chances of replication. The classic prisoner's dilemma seems to not work at the physical level, because that would mean that genes would always cooperate, and theoretically limit the chance for replication. Or more likely, it would mean that adaptation, while still possible, must have another cause, a cause that is at the intentional level.

Therein lies the danger of the classic version. It violates Dennett's reverse engineering. It makes adaptation happen for rational reasons, not as-if ones, and quite possibly plays into Smith's evolutionary stable state, which Gould has run with. Dennett allows for the possibility of stasis in evolution, as does Darwin (Dennett's assertion). But Dennett is quick to point out that stasis is not an end-game, with his thorough explanation of habitat tracking. And it is here that the problem of the super predator dents Dennett's armor.

If the super predator is the optimal player in Dennett's version of the dilemma, always choosing to defect, why is it, that in the course of evolution the super predators become extinct? It goes to reason that if they were able to adapt at the gene level, if their habitat changed, they would follow the shifting habitat, or shift genetically to adapt to their changing habitat. There is little evidence here, but what if they followed Dennett's habitat tracking and still went extinct? That appears to be a strong case against adaptation being driven at the gene level. The super predators, confronted with a shifting habitat, and not being aware at the intentional level of the severity of the change, opting for continued dominance, by intent made themselves extinct. The ESS would have still worked as a meta-strategy at the genetic level, but a rapid change in environment could happen quicker than genetic shift. In this case, Dennett's version of the dilemma still works.

So it appears that if one allows for both versions of the prisoner's dilemma, and for Smith's evolutionary stable state, adaptation is a viable theory. A clarification needs to be made though, that adaptation occurs differently at the physical and the intentional levels. During a period of stasis, both versions of the dilemma work in concert, with genes always defecting, and with species always cooperating. Once the stasis ends though, adaptation determines survival from the intentional level of a species.

At the physical level, adaptation takes the form of the ESS, Dennett's prisoner's dilemma, with genes continually defecting, in order to improve the chance for replication. At the intentional level though, mutual cooperation is the surest form of replication, with species adapting in unison with their environment. Species that are unable to adapt at the intentional level, ones that always defect, classic prisoner's dilemma, Tyrannosaurus rex, go extinct with a shifting environment. While at the physical stance there is sustained adaptation, it can not meet the speed of change required for continual existence. Since the genes are then at the mercy of the intentional level, adaptation at that level is the determinant of survival. No sky hooks are required, only specialized cranes, ones that place intentionality as the foundation in reverse engineering, ones that Dennett seems to have not envisioned in his version of adaptation.

Note: references to Dennett's ideas are from Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Dennett

The existence of good and evil

One of the commonplace arguments in Philosophy of Religion is the existence of good and evil. Cicero once wrote that "The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil." The Marquis De Sade urged people to explore their darkest nature to truly understand it. This seems a groundwork for Nietzsche's "Beyond Good and Evil". In a nutshell, Nietzsche wondered what good and evil would be if we dropped those words, and also all religious connotations to actions. What really is evil? What is good?

Now the PoMo philosophers have warped this argument to their idea of public and private language. I am fairly confident that Wittgenstein would be appalled by what Rorty and his group have done to his original ideas.

In the classic sense, good is something that does not harm and is approved by the current social mores. To quote Blaise Pascal "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." But even the definition of evil is obscured in religious context. In the bible, god slays entire villages, has named Gabriel as the angel of death, and has vast armies. Many people are damned to eternal torment simply because they are not specified on a list of names. Are these good things? Is it even possible?

There is an argument that evil must exist in heaven if heaven allows for free will. But it goes well beyond that. In the Hindu religion there are numerous deities (almost all I think) that are dualistic in their ability to preserve/destroy. It is this nature that blurs the definition of good and evil. The instance of Kali comes to mind. She is the great earth mother and eats her children to maintain the world. Is it evil that she eats her children, or is it evil that she maintains the world? Is it good she eats her children or good that she maintains the world? Is it both? Or is it neither?

To me, good and evil do not exist. Actions exist. We act as we do, and the repercussions of our actions reflect upon us. Mary Wollstonecraft wrote "No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks." I state that she was wrong. I could quote the Existentialists in my argument, but it is not necessary. A person who does a thing, for whatever reason does so for a need. That thing is an action and that action produces a result. When a person adds 1 and 1 together, the addition is an action and that action ends in a result (2). Stripping morality and religion from action, we are left with result. Hegel understood this better than most.

To use an existential argument, you are starving and your family is starving. You walk by a window where there is food. You take the food to feed your family. Where then is the evil? Is it in your action? Is it in your result? Is it applied to the person who put the food in the window knowing that hungry people could walk by? Or is it just food in a window that you took to feed your family?

Good and evil do not exist when morality, which is bourne of religion, is tossed on the garbage heap. All that remains is actions and results.

Free will v. Heaven

Once again I am reading Dostoyevsky's The Brother's Karamazov. As a philosopher, this is a seminal reading, and ranks with Hegel's Philosophy of Right and Sarte's Being and Nothingness, amongst others. The chapter known as rebellion (mistakenly referred to the Grand Inquisitor, which is the following chapter) attacks the notion of suffering and faith and the limitations of god's power. But it is not suffering that I will allude to.

Philosophers in general have missed the implication of Ivan rejecting heaven entirely. Let me draw from this version: http://www.whitworth.edu/Core/Classes/CO250/Readings/fr_dost.htm.

While there is still time, I hasten to protect myself, and so I renounce the higher harmony altogether. Note: emphasis added It's not worth the tears of that one tortured child who beat itself on the breast with its little fist and prayed in its stinking outhouse, with its unexpiated tears to `dear, kind God'! It's not worth it, because those tears are unatoned for. They must be atoned for, or there can be no harmony. But how? How are you going to atone for them? Is it possible? By their being avenged? But what do I care for avenging them? What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell?

At the minimal, the catholic belief system has heaven and hell. Purgatory was added at a later date, to try to reconcile that most people were damned to hell if their family name was not on the original list. This makes 3 possible afterlives. Dostoyevsky has added an interesting twist. If we, as humans and with free will, renounce heaven ("higher harmony"), refuse at death to go there even if we are allowed to do so, what happens? Surely no such person would go to hell, or even to purgatory. As Dostoyevsky wrote: I would rather be left with the unavenged suffering. I would rather remain with my unavenged suffering and unsatisfied indignation, even if I were wrong. The unavenged suffering is here and now.

The fourth possibility is to not enter heaven, hell, nor purgatory, but to remain here, on Earth. If free will exists, we are perfectly within our allowance to choose to remain here. Since matter can not be destroyed nor created, we remain as ghosts. Was Dostoyevsky, even by accident, accounting for ghosts? Did he manage to reconcile free will, the rejection of an afterlife as outlined in a bible, with the folklore of ghosts?

Logically this makes sense. Where do the atheists and agnostics go after death? They don't believe in the heaven/hell/purgatory thing, and if they have free will, there must be another option (pending a god exists). Dostoyevsky's Ivan specifically stated he acknowledged god's existence.

How does this all jibe with my conclusion that if free will exists in heaven, there must be evil in heaven? My summation is this: if there is a heaven and heaven has free will, there must be both evil in heaven, thereby making heaven and hell the same, and there must also be somewhere for those that reject heaven, as matter must exist.

Insecurity reflected as belief

All belief is a cover-up for insecurity.
Deepak Chopra (दीपक चोपड़ा)

ABC had some sort of special about religion, and though I was programming, I heard those words. And of course, I knew that he would be attack visciously for saying it. But why? Too many people who "believe" are too wrapped up in their own insecurities to truly understand the beauty of that simple statement. And worse, too many have never really read whatever text they use and understand it.

If you are secure, there is no belief, there is knowing. One knows something is; one does not believe in something. This is the key to undermining the whole faith debate. Faith itself is illogical. Faith requires belief. Knowing requires neither faith nor belief.

I know me. I do not believe in me, nor do I have faith in me. Either one cheapens me.


So I am thinking recently, I am my own destruction. And then the logical side has to ask: if you aren't who is? Of course we all are our own destruction. This does not go against what I have written before: "I know me. I do not believe in me, nor do I have faith in me. Either one cheapens me."

It is what Nietzsche laughed at when he wrote "He who cannot command himself shall obey. And many a one can command himself, but still sorely lacketh self-obedience!".

We all do the things that we know are stupid, things that bring our downfall. And we do it knowingly, and yet we still do. Why? Natural selection has given us survival skills that go beyond most animals, and yet we willingly do things that go against saving ourselves.

Is it a flaw in basic human character? Is it some macabre dance with death? Are we programmed to seek riches and such, yet aspire to nothingness? Do we seek Heidegger, even though we don't understand him?

Maybe the Existentialist crowd was right, and life is a struggle to be genuine. But even so, what is really genuine? Being tools of destroying ourselves? Was Davidson right in questioning the reason a person turns on the TV? Does that person do it to watch TV or is that person looking for meaning in life? Does that person know that he is destroying himself no matter the answer?

We are our own destruction. We embrace it; we become it. But can we avoid it, can we command it? I know me. I know I am my own destruction. I don't know if I can avoid it.

Thoughts on Fichte

Fichte is known for stating that the "I is aware of itself as making itself self-aware" (part of his Wissenschaftslehre).

And of course across the decades people have wondered what the hell he has meant? Was it some precursor to Sartre's "man creates himself" or Nietzsche's "Superman"?

In my take, we are only really aware of our selves, our own being, when we are self-aware, when we understand our actions reflect back upon ourselves and generate the consequences. Something goes from the objective to the subjective and only then can it influence the I (Ichheit).

To clarify a bit, if the objective says that stars exist, and the subjective believes that stars exist, then the I must accept both of these statements for the I to believe that stars exist.

Basically the I must be aware of itself, and as such it then aware of things other than the I. If the other things do not reflect what the I is aware of, then they do not exist.

Where the hell am I going with this? Unless we are fully aware of the things that we do, and accept that what happens following are a direct reflection of ourselves and our understanding of ourselves, then we will never really believe that whatever happens is a consequence of our actions. What happens to each of us is directly because of what we do to create it.