Thursday, October 29, 2015

Davy and Goliath VS. Gumby and Pokey.

I used to have film fest Friday. I got so many film reviews I decided to make a film blog(silver age of film--link in side bar).. Now I can't put films here because the nine people who look at the films are already readers here. So we can't have film fest Friday but we can have (wait for it)...Fun Filled Friday! In other words I'm too lazy to write anything profound so I'm recycling schlock. Have fun.
Ps, it wouldn't kill you to go look at the film blog--come to that it wouldn'thurt if bought my book either.

  photo Art_Clokey_zpsaf17ae9a.jpg
Art Clokey in the 60s (October 12, 1921 – January 8, 2010)

In keeping with my tradition of using friday for light fare, mostly film review, I decided to have a battle between two children's shows that I thought were  most creative. These are creative because they don't just draw the cartoons, they created miniature worlds in clay and they move them around physically. So they have little model worlds and everything in it has to be a tiny model; even facial expressions require a second doll for that expression.

One is a plodding Christian Children's cartoon,Davy and Goliath. The morality of each episode is heavy handed. It's a nostalgic childhood memory, each episode is filled with charm and skill, but the moral hangs heavy over the production, from the opening "A mighty Fortress is Our God" to the closing credits with production team of the Lutheran Church in America, it's a trip to Sunday School in moving clay. Against that image we have Gumby and Pokey which is one of the most creative cartoons ever made. Like Davy and Goliath, Gumby is done in clamation, but it's rawkus and anything can happen. It's the thoroughly creative brain child of an acid dropping hippie. While Davy and Goliath were directed by Author Clokey, Gumby and Pokey were created by Author Clokey. I saw an interview of him talking about his drug taking. It's not there now. I can't prove it because it's been taken down but I saw it.

That's right both are done by the same guy. Clokey's work on Davy and Goliath was commissioned by the Luthern Church in America and he was no alone in producing the script. His work with Gumby was a labor of love. Still both are loaded with charm and creativity. Was he an acid dropping hippie? One might think so watching Gumby and Poky. They go inside books and find whole worlds there. They are baked inside pies after being attacked by pastries. They melt down the drain while taking showers and come out poured into the kitchen sink by Gumby's parents.

Gumby has the  head sloped to one side so he would not appear as a fallac symbol. The name of the company called frama visions based upon the Sanskrit word for "love." "Gumby is an act of love to children." In one episode Gumby acquires the midus touch but instead of turning things to gold he turns them into art works, they actually pop into little mini sculptures that really look like they could be real art works. In one episode when they go inside a book the world the come out in is a planet in outer space it's already inhabited by another kid who is reading the book.

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Gumby and Pokey

Clokey put a lot of creativity into Davy and Goliath but it's more restrained. The little world is amazing because in miniature it looks just like a real world. Their little houses look modern 50's style houses inside. They have little door knobs, they have little tooth brushes. Davy is always getting into some kind of danger from his own stupidity. He's locked in a refrigeration freight car and carried to another tow. Goliath is stranded on the edge of a water fall and Davy has to swim out and save him. He's cornered by an escaped lion in his own backyard while sleeping in a pup tent. He's trapped in a cave and the caves looks realistic. Davy and Goliath taught a lot of lessons on accepting people of color and people who were different. Coming in the late 50's and early 60s that made this show very progressive for children's programing. It put them at odds with huge portions of the south.

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Davy and Goliath

Unlike the insulting show Lassey that wants us to think a good dog can solve any problem, Goliath knows nothing, he never solves anything, he can't even run for help, all he does is speak to Davy (only Davy understands him) in a low confused sounding voice and says thing like "I love you DaaaaveeEEEEEEEE!" or "I want some some food now.Daaaaave-eEEEEEEEEEEE!"

As it says on the Gumby world website: "Gumby creator Art Clokey was a true visionary and stop motion pioneer whose explorations in film had a profound impact on filmmakers worldwide for generations. Take a spin around the all new to discover more about Art Clokey, Gumby and friends." Clokey started Gumby in 1955. He's named after "gumbo" the word they used for a kind of clay the made at some relative's home in the country when he was a kid. Even though I can't prove it because the interview has been taken off Youtube there was one where hey himself said he had left his family in the 60s to join the counter culture. He now regrets that.

His Bio on Wiki says: " His son, Joe Clokey, continued the Davey and Goliath cartoon in 2004. In March 2007, KQED-TV broadcast an hour-long documentary Gumby Dharma as part of their Truly CA series."

official Davy and Golith Website


Gumby and Poky
In the Dough (where they are attacked by pastries)

Gumbasia (Cloaky's student film) (like Disney's Fantasia--this was mid 50s)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Poetry of Ray Hinman


Ray Hinman: (1956-2014)

Born in Dallas Texas, along with his twin brother Joe, June 20, 1956. Their Uncle was James D. Harman noted "Beat" poet of the 50s and leader on the West Coast in the "ban he bomb movement." "Uncle Jimmy" as we was called as an influence upon his nephew's style of poetry, along with Wallace Stevens, Yates and Keats.

Hinman grew up in Dallas, he drooped out of R.L. Turner High school his sophomore year in order to receive his GED that same year. He lived on his own for a time, traveled extensively across the United states by hitchhiking. On one trip he went up the West Coast to Vancouver and another trip he went up the East Coast to Montreal. He also spent extensive time camping and living off the land in the American Southwest.

He attended The University of North Texas, studying anthropology. He was a major local organizing in the Central America Movement of the 80s. He worked as an editor for the Negations Institute and their Academic Journal Negations. Throughout the years he has published poems in many journals and other publications such as Interstate, Well Spring, the Ameba, The Word, Fickle Muses and other such publications. He's read his poetry in public in Austin and Dallas.

"The Ex-Missonar Learns Mexico,"

After the rain we came into the low
country, the hills unrolled beneath us,
pitted with aroieas, green aloe vera plants concealed basins where water stood;
hidden from high ground like secret lakes.
We climbed from our horses and looked into
a pond, our faces shining against sky
and cloud.

There is nothing holy about hidden things;
chance has it's own way of breaking monotony
as one mile slinks
into the dust of another, but in this place
(out of mill ions allover the desert)
what seemed so dry from the trail's rim lay entangled with fertil ity, floating
in a bath of sky.

For years I had learned the desert from train windows, it's beauty no more than swirl ing dust, but when our faces rippled over brown roots,
dark as cinnabar, shooting into leafy green ... the vistas around us rose in vapour and begged

for a drink, in the distance a vulture called, and hundreds of zacadas; the hil Is rose
above us like domes.

"the Shaman Considers His Craft."

Did I say footprints?
Did I say each puddle reflects a world? I use to see distinction in things other people instinctively ignore.
The bird in the bush could sing his door wide, and with windows
there to open
the wealth of those deeper places could catch the thrush's warble and gl itter white fire.
But then I got to naming things, and relating one thing to another.
The tracks for instance, no longer just a trail to follow, an extension or some place where the mystery of places might echo a brittle birth.
I had to know that beauty--decode it,
like a song. The thrush's song, the broken tracks, the I ittle brown splotch that is the bird upon
it's branch, it had to be a destiny, a metaphysic or sympathy breaking down haunted tomes ...
levels of Justice and fate.

I had to know what made the haunted real,
to know how these doors open, one into another so that bird sails freely
and his fire pierces through the bush, the puddles that are sl fck as sl iding glass,
and know much more than being carried by a song (his song from his landscape) into a scape not mine and not his.
And at that point, that beauty that became so brittle as I went downward
(through the landscape his beauty built into the scape not mfne and not his)
I missed the whole haunted meaning of fire and magic both.
And I was left there, as if I stood before a maze of bushes all grown with doors.

Read more of Ray's Poetry

Buy my brother's Poetry: Ray Hinman, Our Cities Vanish

Click on image to Buy this book

Not religious poetry it's everything poetry. Highly literary.

come on look at it and see that's it's good!

I have a sample website for his poems here: you can find several examples on there.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mind and emergent properties

An emergent property is one that stems from factors lower down in the evolutionary process that do not involve the emergent property. The emergent properties emerge from amid a set of properties none of which herald the emergent one. It just springs forth, life from non-life, consciousness from non-conscious, por soir from en soir....[E]mergent entities (properties or substances) ‘arise’ out of more fundamental entities and yet are ‘novel’ or ‘irreducible’ with respect to them. (For example, it is sometimes said that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain.) Each of the quoted terms is slippery in its own right, and their specifications yield the varied notions of emergence that we discuss below. There has been renewed interest in emergence within discussions of the behavior of complex systems and debates over the reconcilability of mental causation, intentionality, or consciousness with physicalism.[1]

According to O'connor and Wang emergent properties can't be reduced to the properties from which they spring. If true that means that if consciousness is emergent it's not reducible to brain fuction. Yet every reductionist I've ever argued with uses emergence to explain the rise of consciousness, which they take to be reduciable to brain chemistry. Emergence is also divided into strong and weak. Strong emergence is when the phenomenon is high level and emerges from a low level domain. Strong emergence was evoked by the British emergentists in the 1920s and is featured in most philosophical discussions about emergence. Weak emergence is in respect to low level domain when high level phenomenon emerges from low level domain but truths concerning that phenomenon are unexpected given the principles governing that domain.[2] The more radical consequences stem from strong emergence. As David Chalmers says, if the property could be deduced principle from the properties it emerges from there's no need to evoke new laws. The radical consequences result from the evoking of new laws, resulting from the emergence of properties not deducible in principle. I am avoiding discussions of artificial intelligence or the Chinese room argument (Searl)[3] as they would divert from the argument. I will, however, bring up Searl's argument about AI in order to make a larger point. Searl argues that consciousness is a biological product and computers can't be emergently conscious because they can't produce a biological basis. In answering Searl Paul Almond says:
While it is reasonable to regard consciousness as an emergent property of a physical system there is no profound sense in which it can be said that different people's brains work according to the same kinds of processes and an appropriately programmed computer and a human brain would work according to different processes. Any difference between these situations is just a matter of degree and any argument that we should presume other people conscious because their brains work in basically the same sort of way could also be used to justify presuming an appropriately programmed computer conscious.[4]
This may be a fine idea in philosophy, but how would it work in real life? A doctor in a hospital says “I can't deliver this baby because I have no proof that all human reproductive processes are the same.” You could not practice medicine on that basis. Almond also seems to be contradicting himself because he says on the one hand that we can't assume human thought processes work the same, but somehow we can assume that our minds work the same as computers (which would contradict the ideas that they don't all work the same). Why should we assume it's only a matter of degree? It's pretty self evident that there is a qualitative difference. Searl's argument doesn't help us in deciding about consciousness in humans as emergent but Almond's response tells us something about fallacies in human reason. We must assume that there is a likeness in human consciousness or we can't even do medicine and there's no point in doing science. Thus we can draw analogy between human consciousness and order in the cosmos, metaphysical hierarchy. This will become apparent in unfolding of the argument. But emergent properties per se do not destroy the TS argument.

The notion of emergent properties is firmly ensconced in the repertoire of modern scientific acumen. It's an article of faith for all, those who fail to pledge their allegiance to it are to be ridiculed. Actually there's no reason why emergent properties per se can't be embraced along with belief in God. There is no way to establish that God didn't set it up that way, it probably makes more sense to assume he did. Given the law-like regularity of the universe and modern notions of cause and effect, assuming spontaneous emergence with no prior arrangement of mind is just a contradiction to these aspects of nature (regularity and the necessity of causes). So emergent properties without God (the TS or some other prior agent) violate the criteria of best explanation laid down in chapter three [the book I am writing]; the logical consistency criterion. The emergence of mind is one of the most difficult questions. With simple “self organizing” such as snow flakes there's no problem. When reductionists start insisting that consciousness is emergent and reducible to brain chemistry (actually a contradiction, emergence belongs to holism and is the enemy of reductionism, but one finds at popular level these technicalities escape notice) we must take issue. The need for mind in creation is reflected in the hard problem and in the irreducibility of consciousness.

Reductionists, (especially readers of Dawkins) are convinced that brain chemistry explains consciousness but that view has been proved inadequate. The reductionists are doing a bait and switch, switching brain function for consciousness. Those who claim to evoke mystical experience by brain stimulating use no reliable means of measuring religious experience.[5] One of the major arguments, against the reductionist view, is known as “the hard problem.” The hard problem says that there's a texture to consciousness that can't be communicated, much less reduced to physical origins, but is with us all and thus its existence is self evident. That argument is illustrated by Thomas Negal in his famous article “What is it Like to Be a Bat?” [6] We can have all the facts science can provide about bats but that wont tell us what its like to be a bat. Consciousness has an irreduceable dimension that is fundamental to understanding it and yet scientific reductionism can't tell us about it. In fact some can't admit it exists, even though we all know it does. Sean Carroll dismisses the idea saying, “Nagel actually doesn’t spend too much time providing support for this stance, as he wants to take it as understood and move on.” [7] As though we don't know about the personal dimension to consciousness because we are all conscious (or most of us).

Nagel wrote a book way back in 2012,Mind and Cosmos, for which he was raked over the coals by all manner of scientifically inclined critics. Nagel's basic argument is that because there is this dimension of mind (the hard problem—we can't know what it's like to experience consciousness by reducing the concept to empirical data)-- the subtitle of the book says it-- “...the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.” He did not argue that evolution is wrong but that the reductionist understanding will never unlock the hard problem because they can't admit there's an aspect of the world their methods can't grasp. He says this not just about brain and mind but that “it invades our understanding of the entire cosmos and its history...a true appreciation of the difficulty of the problem must eventually change our conception of the place of the physical sciences in describing the natural order.” [8] He points to the hubris in modern scientific reductionism in thinking we can understand and explain all things, he argues that we don't understand much of the universe at all. He is arguing about what can and cannot in principle be understood by existing methods.[9] He argues that the failure of psychophysical reductionism to produce a theory of everything marks the inability of reductionism to penetrate the mind-body problem. He argues for a mind-like process in nature but he is not arguing for God. He's an atheist. He introduces teleology back into science.

Negal also argues that the connections between the physical and the mental that emergentists think are responsible for consciousness are all higher order. They concern only complex organisms and don't require any fundamental change in the physical conception of the elements that make up those organisms. "An emergent account of the mental is compatible with a physically reductionist account of the biological system in which mind emerges." [10] So emergence doesn't require any change in the 'ground up' conception of what makes up the universe. To be a true explanation, emergence can't just be a set of correspondences between the physical and mental. It must also be systematic, providing principles or laws linking the two. It must tell us why, or at least how, the physical emerges into the mental.

But even with a systematic theory, emergence seems like an unsatisfactory explanation of the mental. That purely physical elements, when arranged in a certain way, and even if systematically accounted for, should result in consciousness seems like magic. That physical things should exhibit, at the macro level, properties and relations not constituted out of the properties and relations of the physical parts making it up seems like magic. In other cases of emergence, we can understand how the micro properties of the parts give rise to the macro properties of the whole. Liquidity emerging from H2O molecules is an example.

Because emergence of the mental remains mysterious, we should seriously consider an explanation of the more fundamental constituents of the universe. This kind of explanation would draw on a general monism which posits that the basic building blocks contain properties that explain not only physical but also mental properties at the macro level. So there's a deeper more comprehensive reality, of which the physical is only one expression. This deeper framework would explain physical and mental as two aspects of this more fundamental reality. The physical would be an explanation of phenomena from the outside, and the mental would explain things from the inside. "Consciousness in this case is not an effect of the brain processes that are its physical conditions: rather, those brain processes are in themselves more than physical, and the incompleteness of the physical description of the world is exemplified by the incompleteness of their (brain processes) purely physical description." [11] Monism or dualism really depends upon how the terms are used, I don't intend to go into that here. I don't necessarily agree with him on monism but I do about the mental as a basic property of nature. Carroll reviews Mind and Cosmos, he justifies the sorry treatment it was given by the followers of new atheism, who paned it without giving it a chance. They basically treated Nagel like he is a young earth creationist (I believe he's an atheist). Carroll's justification:
Back in the dark ages a person with heretical theological beliefs would occasionally be burned at the stake, Nowadays, when a more scientific worldview has triumphed and everyone knows that God doesn’t exist (emphasis mine), the tables have turned, and any slight deviation from scientific/naturalist/atheist/Darwinian doctrine will have you literally tied to a pole and set on fire. Fair is fair. Or, at least, people will write book reviews and blog posts that disagree with you. But I think we all agree that’s just as bad, right?[12]

Translation: “this is not about facts, truth , logic, or reason. Obey the priesthood of knowledge and don't think. But hey we are imposing this ideology so the world will be safe for free thought, just remember to stick with the right ideas.” He says "everyone knows God doesn't exist," 90% of the population is excluded from “everyone.” His answer to the hard problem is basically that it's an old idea and David Chalmers likes it. He accuses Negal of using bad reasoning but his only example is a general allusion to “common sense” which he takes for bad logic, and does not bother to document (although I stipulate that he does appeal to that standard several times).. Appeal to common sense is not the best. Philosophers tend to hate it and its easy prey for people who themselves do not understand argument. For example Carroll belabors Nagel's admission that he's not an expert, not part of the priesthood of knowledge. He misses Nagel's rhetorical strategy in emphasizing consciousness, judgment and intuition in an argument about consciousness. We are all experts in being conscious. He also includes principle of sufficient reason, which is an immanently reasonable standard and one many great philosophers accept. Carroll's rejection of that principle is no doubt based upon the fact that he does not have a sufficient reason for ignoring the need for prior cause, necessity, and can't answer the questions raised by those who want real answers. His major reason for his beliefs is that they free him from belief.

In attacking Nagel's position that we need an explanation for physical law. Carroll says “They [people such as Negal] cannot simply be (as others among us are happy to accept). And the only way he can see that happening is if 'mind' and its appearance in the universe are taken as fundamental features of reality, not simply by products of physical evolution.”[13] Believers are actually tortured with all of that unnecessary thinking? And I thought we were benighted. Apparently it's the skeptics who are happy not to ask questions. There's less to being a “free thinker” than I thought. Carroll then contemplates the terrible consequences for human reason if we accepted that consciousness is not purely physical, (as though the mental dimension just isn't there even though we all experience it all the time); “Imagine what it would entail to truly believe that consciousness is not accounted for by physics. It would entail, among other things, that the behavior of ordinary matter would occasionally deviate from that expected on the basis of physics alone.”[14] There's an expectation that it wont deviate? If it's not prescriptive, if there is nothing to make the regularity stick then we should expect deviation however rare. But of course that's one of those things free thinkers should be happy not to question.

What would it entail to truly believe that consciousness is not accounted for by physics? Belief in God? Nowhere does Nagel go near that conclusion, and in calling himself a monist he could be veering away from that conclusion. Nor does he actually say that physics can't account for consciousness, only that I hasn't, and wont as long as it refuses to consider a mental dimension. Apparently even one step in the direction of God is too close. Carroll then says, “Several billion years ago there weren’t conscious creatures here on Earth. It was just atoms and particles, bumping into each other in accordance with the rules of physics and chemistry. Except, if mind is not physical, at some point they swerved away from those laws, since remaining in accordance with them would never have created consciousness.”[15] Come again? There are laws that determine things? They can't be deviated from? If the regularity of nature is only a description of “tendencies” why shouldn't there be deviation? More of that double minded assumption, laws are not prescriptive except when they help us pretend there's no God. “So, at what point does this deviation from purely physical behavior kick in, exactly? It’s the immortal soul vs. the Dirac equation problem.”[16] Nagel never says we have an immortal soul. Where does that come from. It's like he's arguing with someone other than Nagel. By that statement he means that if the process of our brains “isn't simply following the laws of physics” (another implication of mandated physical law) then “you have the duty to explain in exactly what way the electrons in our atoms fail to obey their equations of motion. Is energy conserved in your universe? Is momentum? Is quantum evolution unitary, information-preserving, reversible? Can the teleological effects on quantum field observables be encapsulated in an effective Hamiltonian?”xvii[17]

First of all, Nagel doesn't say anything about the consciousness dimension being opposed to the laws of physics. Neither do I. Who says there is not a conscious dimension to the laws of physics that we don't know about? But that would be like admitting the priesthood of knowledge doesn't know all things. Secondly, the smokescreen of Nagel's inability to answer specific questions is, as smokescreens usually are, a red herring. If it's a dimension we don't know, then of course we don't know. He has no argument to disprove the hard problem, and no means of demonstrating that Nagel's surmises about it are not sound. Carroll's basic argument is “this can't be true because if it was it would mean the priesthood is not all knowing and there might be a God.” In Carroll's world those reasons are as sound and valid as the equations to which he alludes.

The veracity of this charge is summed up in his final paragraph in the phrase: "He [Nagel] advocates overthrowing things that are precisely defined, extremely robust, and impressively well-tested (the known laws of physics, natural selection) on the basis of ideas that are rather vague and much less well-supported (a conviction that consciousness can’t be explained physically, a demand for intelligibility, moral realism).”[18] Nagel doesn't advocate overthrowing anything, nor does he suggest departing from physics or the methods of scientific exploration. He even says that dualism is a wrong choice. All he is really saying is that there's a dimension that we don't know much about and until we start including it in our explanations, our explanations lack something in explanatory power. Carroll's answer to that seems to be “don't question the faith!” If there is a dimension we don't understand and admitting that is of “enormous consequence” then if true the explanation offered by materialism, physicalism, science itself is not the best. That explanation doesn't account for all the data, one of the criterion for best explanation. The TS argument assumes that dimension and since it doesn't overturn the laws of physics, but assumes them, then it is a better explanation.The irreducibility of mind to brain serves two purposes in the argument: (1) it means there is a dimension that physicalism has ignored, thus it cannot be the best explanation, (2) it sets up Nagel's answer that there must be some mind-like process in the universe for which physicalism cannot take account. When I say “physicalism” in this context I mean all the camps such as: materialism, physicalism proper, reductionism, functionalism, scientism. In presenting evidence for irreducibility of mind to brain I am setting up the argument for mind as the best organizing principle. There is actual positive scientific data that mind does not reduce to brain.


1 Timothy O'Connor and Hong Yu Wong, "Emergent Properties", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = . Here, Accessed 9/13/15 2 David Chalmers, “Strinmg and Weak emergence,” Research School of Social Sciences, Austrailian National University, online resource, PDF URL: accessed 9/13/15. 3 David Cole, "The Chinese Room Argument", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL = .
4 Paul Almond, “Searl's Argument Against AI and emergent Properties—part 1,” MLU: Machines Like Us, (December 29, 2008) online resource, URL: accessed 9/13/15.
5 Joseph Hinman, The Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief. Colorado Springs: Grand Viaduct Publishing, 2014,
6 Thomas Nagel, "What is it like to be a bat?", Mortal Questions, Cambridge University Press, 1979, p. 166. pdf: accessed 9/14/15. Nagel is philosophy professer atv NYU. Ph.D Harvaed 1963, awards: 1996 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay.
7 Sean Carroll, “Mind and Cosmos,” Sean Carroll (blog)(posted August 22, 2013) URL: accessedd 9/14/15.
8 Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos:Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False,. Oxfor: Oxford, London: New York University Press, first edition, 2012, 3.
9 Ibgid 4
10 Ibid 55
11 Ibid 57
12 Carroll, “Mind…”op. Cit.
13 Ibid
14 Ibid
15 Ibid
16 Ibid
17 Ibid
18 Ibid

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Outrage and Incredulity: The Atheist Charge of No Evidence


What is all this stuff really about? It never ceases to amaze me how passionate atheists can be about nothing. I mean by that, atheism is supposed to be nothing more than an absence of belief, right? Yet so many times I see them full of fire and arrogance, blowing their little minds just because someone holds a view they don't like. Why? Consider this tirade by Arizona Atheist on Atheist Watch:

Arizona Atheist

Faith is bullshit. Your claiming it's "complex" does nothing to solve your problem. Theists have no evidence for their beliefs and that's that. All "arguments" are simply "god of the gaps" arguments and nothing more. Due to the tremendous lack of proof/evidence for all theistic claims it's all based on "blind faith." So, yes Loftus is correct. Faith is nonsense.
Clearly outraged by belief, but why? The major thinkers in Western culture have been religious, only a tiny handful of great thinkers throughout history have been true atheists, yet to look at such comments (which are a dime a dozen) one would think that belief was the most idiotic thing anyone ever thought of. One of the things that really strikes me as absurd is their insistence that "there's no evidence at all..." This is bound to strike me the wrong way when I have 42 arguments for the existence of God (of course we all know the importance of the number 42). No evidence, except these 42 arguments! Why the histrionics? here I will argue two things: (1) The reason it seems that there is no evidence is because atheists value only the methods that give them the answers they want, they do not accept evidence for God because it has to come from the wrong methods, and they reject the methods because they are mining their data. (2) They are angered by the concept that other methods may be valid because that would imply that they are only looking at the surface of the issues. Why that should alarm them so I'm not sure. I think it's a cultural thing, the hate group derives some sense of superiority from deriding the target (according to the standard FBI model).

As I have pointed out numerous times, belief in God is not merely adding a fact to the universe. The question of God is not a question about just the existence of one more thing. It's a question of orientation to being as a whole, especially to one's own individual being. If God exists then all of reality is something other than we think it is. If God is real then I am more than myself I am a creature of God. Atheists and theists live in two different worlds. Thus no amount of empirical data is valid as an answer. So the kinds of answers that would count cannot be sought though scientific evidence alone. The atheist approach is to see this as a limitation or an indication that there is no God. That approach obviously fits what they want to see in the first place. Now many of them will say "I was a Christian for 20 years." None of them ever follow that up by saying "I scored real high on the M scale, I had mystical consciousness and union with Christ and Baptism of the Holy Spirit and then I realize it was all false and delusion and made up. The only people who come to this conclusion are those are didn't have it in the first place.

I'm not arguing that they weren't "saved" or they weren't "real Christians." Being a "real Christian" and having Baptism of the Holy Spirit, or "mystical experience" are three different things, they are not three different names for the same thing. Nor am I saying that strong Christians can't give up their faith. Bu strong Christians tend to give up their faith because they fall into sin, they outgrow their milieu and don't go on to higher understanding, or they suffer grave disappointment (such as death of a spouse) and never work through it. No one that I know of ever gave up belief in God just because some intellectual argument was hard to answer, or some body of work intimated that it wasn't true, and here I am speaking of those who had the advanced personal experiences. Those sorts of experiences indicate that it is real. These are such deep confirmations in the heart of hearts that they cannot be easily denied or given up. Of course atheists don't even value this form of knowledge. Deeply fearing the subjective, they just ascribe it to "psychology" and for them that term is as good as saying "lie."

The difference in these two ways of thinking is striking. But the atheists can offer no evidence or arguments to invalidate the phenomenological approach. Faith is an existential response to an phenomenological apprehension. This means that faith is personal individual response, not one formed by education or trained through opponent conditioning; it is a response of the individual although course cultural and learning and even genetics come into it. It is a response to the apprehension of sense data apart from the organizing principles imposed upon sense data by genetics, culture, trainnig, psychological pre disposition. It's a response to the suggestions made by the phenomena themselves as we apprehend them. By "existential" it is fundamental to our existence and within the moment of perception. What exactly is being perceived? That we can't know, but it varies from person to person. Or I should say the vehicle of it varies from person to person. One person may find that a full blown mystical experience is what brings them around, another may be exposed to just one phrase or one image and find that merely a pang of the heart is all that is needed.

Atheists draw such a hard and fast connection between science and the world. One could easily get the impression that the world comes with little labels on rocks and trees that say "naturalistic." If religion was true the labels would say "trees by God." But when I argue my Transcendental Signifier argument they will say that we are just imposing meaning. That's one tier standard response. Human brain sees pattern and imposes meaning upon pattern it's just ink blots. The world is a big ink blot. But they don't apply that to science. They seem to think scinece is just straight forward and literally true and unlimited in its ability to know all of reality that ever be. We derive the kind of certainty from scinece that we do because it's dealing mainly with things that can be observed. These are relatively easy questions. No one thinks a question like "where did the universe come form" is easy. Atheists seem to infer that it is easy and if challenges that sense of certainty they become irate. I often wonder why certainty is so important to them. But have totally obscured the truth of scinece, that it is culturally constructed and not absolute. Their ire is such that when I argued this on CARM once one of them said "you are scum!" Of course they pronounce the basis of knowledge (epistemology) to be 'bull shit" because it's philosophy, but they never try to undersatnd the philosophical basis to their empiricism. They take that as absolute proof beyond question.

Science is a relative cultural construct. It is not absolute knowledge, it is not progress based upon cumulative effects. It works by paradigm shifts, with each shift the whole ground changes. Every time it changes we start over. It is not linear or progressive.

Example: Top down causality in brain mind.

top down means something above the brain is directing causal states in brain function: the mind is not reduced to the brain because its directing the brain. Top down causlity is a scientific fact, it was proven log ago, but because it disproves the reductionist ideology it is ignored as though its not true:

Rosenberg (from journal of conscientiousness studies)

"Take the matter of 'downward causation' to which Harman gives some attention. Why should this be an issue in brain dynamics? As Erich Harth points out in Chapter 44, connections between higher and lower centers of the brain are reciprocal. They go both ways, up and down. The evidence (the scientific evidence) for downward causation was established decades ago by the celebrated Spanish histologist Ramon y Cajal, yet the discussion goes on. Why? The answer seems clear: If brains work like machines, they are easier to understand. The facts be damned!"[Miller quoting Rosenberg, Journal of Consciousness Studies, op. cit.]

e.Consciousness as a basic property of nature.

JCS, 3 (1), 1996, pp.33-35

Naturalism loses its ground.

This is a probabilistic justification argument; It does not seek to directly prove that God exists, but that it is rational to believe in God and that there are good reasons to. In a nut shell the argument says that the concept of materialism has been changing over the years. It has now incorporated so many idea that were once lumped in with magic, supernatural, or generally "unscientific" categories that the old concept of materialism as an objection to God belief and a refutation of religion is now obsolete. Essentially there are 10 areas:

(1) Quantum Theory (no need for cause/effect)

(2) Big bang Cosmology (realm beyond the natural)

(3) Medicine (healing)

(4) Consciousness (invites concept of dualism)

(6) Maslow's Archetypes (universal ideas)

(7) Miracles (empirical evidence)

(8) Near Death Experiences (scientific evidence)

(9) Esp Research (the fact that they do it)

(10) Validity of religious experience (Shrinks no longer assume pathology)

The argument turns on the basic historical fact that atheists have lost the ground upon which they dismissed God from science in the first place. In their book Lindberg and Numbers demonstrate that the moment at which this happened was when La Place said "I have no need of that hypothesis," meaning the idea that God created the universe. What he meant was that God was not needed as an explanation because we now have naturalistic cause and effect, which explains everything. But the atheist has cashed in cause and effect to over come the Big Bang.

Naturalists are now willing to consider ideas like the self caused universe, Hawkings unbounded condition which removes cause completely as a consideration; or based upon quantum theory they are willing to accept the notion that causality is an illusion, that the universe could just pop up out of nothing. With that commitment they lose the ground upon which they first removed God from consideration. Now, perhaps they still do not need God as a causal explanation, but in the Religious a pirori argument, and in the innate religious instinct argument I say that belief was never predicated upon a need for explanation in the first place.

Nevertheless, the fact still remains, the reason for dismissing God was the sufficiency of natural causation as explainable, with that gone there is no longer any grounds for dismissing consideration of God from the universe.I will argue that more than that is going. There is a paradigm shift underway which demonstrates a total change in scientific thinking in many areas and over many disciplines. That change demonstrates that the materialist concept is wrong; there is more to reality than just the material world. There are other aspects to the material world wich are non-deterministic, non-mechanistic, and which call into question the whole presupposition of excluding the supernatural from consideration.

The groundwork for understanding this shift was laid by Thomas S. Kuhn in his theory of paradigm shifts. Kuhn's famous theory was that scientific thought works through paradigm acquisition, and that paradigms change when they can no longer absorb anomalies into the model and must account for them in some other way. This theory entails the idea that science is culturally constructed; our ideas about science are culturally rooted and our understanding of the world in a scientific fashion is rooted in culture. For this reason he thought that science is not linear cumulative progress. "scientific revolutions are here taken to be those non-cumulative developmental episodes replaced in whole or in part by a new one..." (Thomas kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," (92)

"In section X we shall discover how closely the view of science as cumulative is entangled with a dominate epistemology that takes knowledge to be a construction placed directly upon raw sense data by the mind. And in section XI we shall examine the strong support provided to the same historiographical scheme by the techniques of effective science pedagogy. Nevertheless, despite the immense plausibility of that ideal image, there is increasing reason to wonder whether it can possibly be an image of science. After the pre-paradigm period the assimilation of all new theories and of almost all new sorts of phenomena has demanded the destruction of a prior paradigm and a consequent conflict between competing schools of scientific thought. Cumulative anticipation of unanticipated novelties proves to be an almost nonexistent exception to the rule of scientific development.The man who takes historic fact seriously must suspect that science does not tend toward the ideal that our image of its cumulativeness has suggested. Perhaps it is another sort of enterprise."(Ibid,94)

What all of this means is that science is not written in stone. We do not pile one fact upon another until we get to the truth. We formulate a concept of the world and we hold to it and defend it against changed until there are too many problems with it then we move to another totally different world view. This is what has been going on in science since the French enlightenment. Materialism replaced super-naturalism and Materialists have been defending it against change all this time. Now there are too many problems, they have brought in so many ideas contrary to materialism it is not meaningful anymore; paradigm shift is immanent and has begun in many areas. This is not to say that Kuhn had anything to say about the supernatural, he was a materialist. But his theory shows us that change in the concept of materlaism is on the way.

Kuhn is not alone in these observations, major scientific thinkers have questioned scientific 'pretense of objectivity' throughout the century:

This 'bigger' aspect can also be seen in Rosenberg's 'liberal naturalism' [CS:JCS:3.1.77]:

"The question of scientific objectivity becomes more compelling when one considers that doubts about the reductive paradigm are by no means new. William James (1890), Charles Sherrington (1951), Erwin Schrodinger (1944, 1958), Karl Popper and John Eccles (1977)--among others--have insisted that the reductive view is inadequate to describe reality. This is not a fringe group. They are among the most thoughtful and highly honored philosophers and scientists of the past century. How is it that their deeply held and vividly expressed views have been so widely ignored? Is it not that we need to see the world as better organized than the evidence suggests?

"Appropriately, the most ambitious chapter of this section is the final one by Willis Harman. Is the conceptual framework of science sufficiently broad to encompass the phenomenon of consciousness, he asks, or must it be somehow enlarged to fit the facts of mental reality? Attempting an answer, he considers the degree to which science can claim to be objective and to what extent it is influenced by the culture in which it is immersed. Those who disagree might pause to consider the religious perspective from which modern science has emerged.

"There is reason to suppose that the roots of our bias toward determinism lie deeper in our cultural history than many are accustomed to suppose. Indeed, it is possible that this bias may even predate modern scientific methods. In his analysis of thirteenth-century European philosophy, Henry Adams (1904) archly observed: "Saint Thomas did not allow the Deity the right to contradict himself, which is one of Man's chief pleasures." One wonders to what extent reductive science has merely replaced Thomas's God with the theory of everything."

Science lacks the absolute guarantee that many atheists think it has. The more complex and removed from immediate observation the question is the less certainty it has. This means that it is not a fit vehicle to tell us about god.God is not a scientific question. Science is not prior to philosophy but the other way around. Science evolved out of philosophy, it used to be called 'natural philosophy.' While science does offer a sense of "working" its what it works for that matters. It does not work to give us any understanding of ultimate reality. Thus is it not a fair question to ask why there is no proof of God scientifically? Of cousre not, because God is not a scientific question. The reason God is not science is because God is not empirical. God is not given in sense data. Now atheist may ask why that is, they sometimes ask "why doesn't God make himself better know," that's because God is not a big guy in the sky. The same reason why he's not empirical. Because he's not a "he" the "he is just a metaphor. God si beyond our understanding, the basis of reality. God is prior to even epistemology. That would be like expecting evidence of the eloctro-magnetic spectrum to tell us about the basis of existence itself. Atheist continually treat God as though he is a big man in the sky, although for some this may be because they want to take on the fundies most of all. Such an atheist is John Loftus.

John Loftus

We’ve argued against the concept of faith many times before, but let me try again. I have argued that the Christian faith originated as and is purely human religion completely accountable by humans acting in history without needing anWy divine agency at all. But setting that important discussion aside, faith is a cop out, especially when it comes to the number of things Christians must take on faith in order to believe. Let’s recount some of them.

Here is a typical example of an atheist ragging on faith. That is to say, he is not analyzing the basis of faith at a deep level, but merely dismissing it as some sort of non answer. It will become clear in a moment that the specific reasons he gives are those that view God as an empirical object of knowledge and thus a big man in the sky. I know that Loftus will say this is because he's concerned with the fundies more than with liberals. But true though that may be it still gives a mis-impression to only deal with faith at such a superficial level and never acknowledge that it is a much more complex process than this. Consider his argument about questioning why God created:

No reasonable answer can be given for why a triune God, who was perfect in love neither needing nor wanting anything, created in the first place. Grace and Love are non-answers, especially when we see the actual world that resulted. For Christians to say God wanted human creatures who freely love him is nonsense, for why did he want this at all? If love must be expressed then God needed to express his love and that implies a lack.
He speaks of "he" and "want" and so forth as though God is just a big man. This is part of his incredulity over the Trinity because how could a big man in the sky be three big men in the sky and yet just one big man in the sky? He's basically arguing here that god can't be a big man and thus can't want anything. But assumes that he must know what form God could take if he isn't a big man. That means he has to regard God as an object of empirical knowledge, of course it would never apply to anything beyond our understanding. If we regard God as the ground of being these questions are all moot, thus we have to frame them differently. We could begin by not asking "why would a God who has no needs craete in the first place?" That question is unanswerable for the ground of being, since we don't even know if we can speak of "creation" in the same sense. By what can't be answered can't be answered negatively either. We can't rule out the love answer on the premise that God can't love becasue he's the ground of being. Indeed most of the major theologians who speak of God this way (Tillich, McQuarry and Von Balthsar) find a link between being and love in the first place. Of course we can't speak of God "needing" but we could speak of God producing. Or we can speak of being producing the beings. McQuarry speaks of "being lets be." We have to ask a different set of questions to begin with if we conceive of God as the basis of reality rather than an object of knowledge.

Loftus goes on to play the same game in relation to the three in one aspect:

It’s hard enough to conceive of one person who is an eternally uncased God, much less a Godhead composed of three eternally uncased persons. There are some Christians who maintain the Father eternally created the Logos and the Spirit, while others claim that three persons in one Godhead is simply an eternally brute inexplicable fact. Why is that brute fact more reasonable to accept than accepting the brute fact of the laws of the universe, which is all that’s needed to produce the universe? There are social Trinitarians and anti-social Trinitarians. Both sides accuse the other side of abandoning the Chalcedonian creed, either in the direction of tri-theism, or in the direction of Unitarianism.
First of all his knowledge of Orthodoxy is slipping here. Either that or he doesn't care to define Christianity by the ruels of the Christian community. No Christian believes that the Logos and the Spirit are created, as that is a violation of the creeds. His appeal to the laws of the universe is not applicable here because it is not a competitor for God's position as transcendental signifier. In fact laws of nature are totally inexplicable and we do not know what they. They no longer carry the same wight they did in the enlightenment. Thus they are a dandy reason to believe in God, because the supposition of a mind an notion of a set of disembodied laws is pretty had to grasp (see the previous article). But the argument he makes is absurd in light of the Ground of Being. we don't have to ask how can a big man in the sky be three big men in the sky and yet one big man in the sky. As ground of being God can easily contain within his divine economy three persona which share the same essence as all three are merely reflections of the one ground of being. McQuarry makes this point himself where defines the Trinity as having to do with the one and many and the notion of being as the ground of diversification of existence (see Principles of Christian Theology).

Atheists storm about the suppossed lack of evidence, yet they put all their marbles on issues such as string theory and mutliverses, matters for which there is no empirical data of any kind. Then they rail against God because there's no empirical data! Belief in God is a realization that comes from understanding about the nature of being, especially one's own being. It is not the result of empirical data, nor can it be. The concept is misguided and that expectation is a waste of time. There two trajectories that inform us of the nature of being such that we might associate it with the sense of the numinous. These are deductive understanding fo transcendental signifiers on the one hand, (matters such as the ontological argument), and then personal experience on the other. Mystical experience, the sense of numinous these are matters of realizing God. They offer a deep seated conviction that can't be refuted by mere circular reasoning or question begging of atheist assertion. On the other hand, deductive arguments demonstrate the logical necessity of thinking about being in religious terms.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Laws of Physics: Alternatives to the Prescriptive/Descriptive Dichotomy (part 3)

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Alternatives to “law” and P/D dichotomy in science<>

It seems clear that a great deal of the fuss is the result of the words, “law” vs. “description.” The prescriptive/descriptive dichotomy is probably too simplistic. Neither is it so simple to just find a new term. One of the more interesting developments in philosophy of science is the small, yet determined, group of feminist science critics. Their social project is to clean science up from it's “sexist spin” (my term) by ridding it of paradigms based upon dominance, hierarchy and linear understanding. Naturally one of the first places they have to start is in dealing with the notion of natural law. Nelson quoting Keller:

Our under standing of what constitutes a law (in nature as well as in society) is of course subject to change, and not all laws necessarily imply coercion. Certainly not all scientific laws are either causal or deterministic; they may, for example be statistical, phenomenological, or just simply the 'rules of the game.'….The extreme case of the desire to turn observed regularity into law is of course the search for the one 'unified' law of nature that embodies all other laws, and that hence will be immune to revision.[1]
Keller doubts that the P/D dichotomy distinguishes the law of nature metaphor from coersion, (Nelson's analysis of Keller). Keller wants to draw upon biology rather than physics. She moves from search for laws to a search for order. Linear hierarchy of the legal metaphor limits our relation to and understanding of nature. Keller admits that order can imply the same hierarchical relationships as does law. It also allows for other kinds of relationships. “Order is a category comprising patterns of organization that can be spontaneous, self generated, or externally imposed; it is a larger category than law precisely to the extent that law implies external constraint..”[2]

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Ruth Bleier says dominance determinism and hierarchy is in genetics, so biology is not free of it. She also uses that fact to justify using political concerns as guides to scientific paradigms, because in matters such as racism the relationship between the scientific and political was one to one. In other words the dominance and hierarchical nature of genetics was used to justify racism.[3]A Derridian might say, however, that the tension between the two implications of “order” is the point of deconstruction. Law and order go together like soup and sandwich. There's an even better answer as to way the idea of using order rather than law is not a defeat for my argument: order, and organizing principle might fit together well. Oder might be the product of organizing principle.

Mind, the best organizing principle

Mind is the best organizing principle we know. Only mind can plan, deal with complexities, and choose the best way to deal with a problem. I've dealt with self organizing systems in chapter one. “Self” organizing is a misnomer, and it is relative to the perspective of the thinker as to whether or not there is organizing or disorganizing. All of the phenomena we've been discussing are mind dependent. Deciding what is universal and what only looks like it is, is mind dependent. We can't consider the universe and not be aware that all our labeling and understanding is our attempts at forging constructs to organize our experience of the universe. Why should we think that complex organization can be free of mind? This applies to our own perceptions. It doesn't prove that mind is what makes the phenomena organized, but phenomena as we understand it is dependent upon our minds to organize the patterns in such a way as to put together a complex understanding. Such understanding usually entails a complex organization in nature. Skeptics will inveriably charge that we are just imposing our own patterns upon nature. Are we imposing them or discovering them?

Science requires that we find patterns. If the patterns we find really explain, or if they give us a plausible answer, we are on the right track. This is especially true if we can navigate in the world by the patterns we seem to find. We can't get outside our perceptions to prove reality. We cannot extricate ourselves from either the web of pattern-imposing or the “prison house of language”[4]in order to judge objectively weather or not the patterns are really there. We do not find this state of affairs debilitating, however, because, as Thomas Reid intimated, we go by our perceptions as long as they work and we stop following what does not work. But it is not merely because we perceive certain patterns that we accept those patters as real. It is because we perceive it in a particular sort of way. We accept certain patterns as real because we perceive them in a regular and consistent way. This has been stated above by Reid. The common man goes on with his lot never giving a second thought to the fact that he can no more prove the veracity of the things around him than he can the existence of God or anything else in philosophy. Yet we accept it, as does the skeptic demanding his data, while we live out our lives making these assumptions all the time.

If every time we woke up in the morning it was in a different house, with a different family, but one which made the assumption that we did nevertheless belong there and always had, and if the route to work changed every morning, if we never went to the same job twice, if our names and our looks were always different each day, we might think less of direct observation. But because these things are always the same from moment to moment and they never differ, we learn to trust them and we trust them implicitly as a matter of course. We do not try to prove to our selves each day when we get up "I am the same person today that I was yesterday," precisely because we learn very early that we always are the same person. We observe early on that we cannot penetrate physical objects without leaving holes and so we do not try to walk though walls; we know that doesn't work because it never works. As I pointed out above, Hume observed that when we see two billiard balls we do not really see the cause of one making the other one move. What we really observe is one stopping and the other one starting. But, in practical terms, we do not observe the causality of a car running over the pedestrian as causing the pedestrian to fly across the road, but we know from experience that these two factors usually go hand in hand and so we don't play in the street. In other words that our perceptions work to enable us to navigate in the world is good enough reason to think we got it right.

Our understanding of cause is based upon frequency of correlation. Thus a tight correlation is usually indicative of a cause. In making this argument on the internet many skeptics have argued "I see that the world is real with my own eyes." That's the point, why trust your eyes? You cannot prove they are seeing things properly. Everything could be an illusion everything we observe could be wrong. We cannot prove the existence of the external world, we assume it because it is always there. Some try to claim this direct observation as empirical proof. But they are confusing the notion of scientific empiricism with epistemological empiricism. Before we make the assumption that scientific data is valid we first make the epistemological assumption that perception is valid. Otherwise there would be no point in assuming the data. So epistemological empiricism is prior to scientific methods. In fact we have to simply make this assumption a priori with no proof and no way around the problem in order to be able to make the assumptions necessary to accept scientific data. We do usually make these assumptions, but they are assumptions none the less. Still others try to contend that empirical scientific evidence proves the reality of the external world. But of course if the world were an illusion than any scientific evidence we gather would be part of the illusion as well. So there is no other way to demonstrate the truth of the external world, the existence of other minds, or the reality of our own existence except through the consistency and regularity of our sense data.

We can add to consistency and regularity the concept of inter-subjective testimony. In other words do others claim, as far as we can tell, similar observations of the same phenomena? This is encapsulated in the colloquial expression, “do you see what I see?” The idea that others see it too is an important aspect of epistemic criteria. Science would have no meaning without this assumption. That's the whole point of repeating experiments. “Inter-subjective” is a better term than “shared experience” because we don't share the same experiences. All perception is subjective. This does not mean, however, that coroberative testimony is not part of the epistemic criteria for justification. We get around the subjectivity problem by not seeking absolute proof but confirmation by the coroboration of like-experiences. So our epistemic criteria, which we impose without knowing or thinking about it, we use it habitually or instinctivley consists of: regular, consistent, inter-subjective and navigational. When perceptions meet this criteria we tend to trust them.

The upshot of it all, in terms of epistemic criteria, is an understanding of what works. We can navigate in the world by our perceptions, we don't run into the wall when we walk through the door, we know our perceptions are working. If we can confirm the patterns with experiments connecting them to to nature we know we have the right patterns. If our explanations enable us to confirm our understanding we know we must be finding true patterns. Without that there would be no point to science. It is our minds discerning the pattern. We make assumptions about natural law to explain complex organization in nature. Why assume no mind is involved in laying down those “laws,” (whatever we call “laws” that produces regularity in the workings of the physical world). The epistemic criteria is very mind dependent. Those are two separate reasons to think that mind is the best organizing principal: (1) All understanding of phenomena is mind dependent (even pointing out that we are picking out patterns is mind dependent), (2) Our epistemic criteria (product of mind) enables us to understand which patterns work for navigating or explaining the world. If mind is necessary to understanding the workings of the world why should we think its not involved in whatever it is that produces the law-like regularity? There are two more reasons for understanding mind as the best organizing principle: (1) The hierarchical nature of complexity, (2) the phenomena some construe as consciousness in nature(pan-psychism).

I pointed out above that the grand unified theory posits a single simple idea at the top of the metaphysical hierarchy. As Wineglass put it “...the theory of everything will unite all aspects of physical reality in a single elegant explanation .” That is a transcendental signifier, that's its job description. The thing is having one simple and elegant idea to explain the immense complexity of the universe is very much a hierarchy. It's no simple two stage affair either, the more complex data and explanations become, the more stages or layers are needed. Going up the structure we would go from vast to simple to one final idea at the top. That idea would have to be aware, thus include mind. First in order to account for mind as part of the brick-a-brack of the universe it would have to have the same understanding that mind gives us, or it could not comprehend the idea of mind. Secondly its one thing to look at causes and posit a reduction in complexity going back to the first thing, so just in terms of causes it might make sense, like Hawking's idea of gravity to see a progression from simple to complex (excluding the weaknesses in Hawking's theory I will discuss, latter), its is quite another to take one simple idea and claim an explanation of all things. How could a simple mindless idea choose from immense complexity? It would have to make choices or the odds would vastly favor not producing life. Thirdly, the idea about gravity as final cause assumes that consciousness can be reduced to brain function alone. I have shown this to be wrong.v[5]Thus if mind is more than just a product of complex brain function then its hard to see how it could come to be from non mind. The obvious answer the skeptic will give is consciousness is emergent. That assumes the reduction I just spoke of, and has not been proved. As the noted geneticist Sewell Wright said, “Pancycism and Science” 82, “Emergence of mind from no mind at all is sheer magic.”[6]

1 E. F. Keller, quoted in Lynn Nelson, Who Knows?... op. Cit., 220. see parts 1 and 2
2 Keller, quoted by Nelson, Ibid.
3 Lynn Nelson, Analysis of the ideas of Ruth Bleier, Ibid, 221. Ruth Bleier was a neurophysiologist, Ph.D, from Johns Hopkins, she was a life long activist, summoned before the HUAAC by Joe McCarthy, for running a peace committee in Maryland. She also taught Psychiatry, was professor at University of Wisconsin at Madison, and one of the first feminist thinkers to bring a feminist critique to scientific paradigms.
4 The phrase "prison house of language" is a post modern slogan I used to hear in my Derridian days. I can't find where it originated.
5 Brad Peters"Mind does not reduce to brain" Modern Psychologist blog URL Peters is a psychologist in private practice; I have also done many blog pieces on the topic. Here
, here, and here.

6 Sewell Write, “Panpsychism and Science,” In Mind in Nature.Lanham Maryland:University press of America, ed. Cobb and Griffin 1977, 82.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Laws of Physics (part 2): Hume's Empiricism Offers No Answer


Alan Chalmers discusses the way that followers of the Philosopher David Hume deal with the problem of explaining the regularity without prescriptive laws. Chalmers represents the scientific realists, Humeans are their oppents. Followers of Hume believe that it's going too far beyond the bounds of what can be proven to suggest that laws govern things or that properties of nature produce the effect of governance. Chalmers goes back to the billiard balls to illustrate Hume's position. Hume argued that we don't see one ball moving the other but one ball stop and the other one start. We don't see the causal process so we must assume it. Hume believed that we don't have a rational warrant for belief in physical bodies or the external world. These must be assumed on faith.

At least Chalmer's and the realists are willing to admit there's a problem. I will demonstrate that his solution is little better than Hume's (in the next chapter). Humean refusal to move out of deniel is indicative of modern science as a whole. This law-like regularity is just a set of behaviors and natural laws are just descriptions of those behaviors, never mind how law-like they are. Chalmer's argument against Hume does not answer Hume, it just assumes that we know already that nature has active properties that make things happen. That's just refusal to believe Hume's logic. Hume's skepticism fuels atheist empiricism, that stands behind all their claims that there is no rational reason to believe in God. I wonder how many of them ever realize that according to Hume there's no reason to believe in the external world. Mattey says of Hume:
Consider the question whether we are justified in believing that a physical world exists. As David Hume pointed out, the skepticism generated by philosophical arguments is contrary to our natural inclination to believe that there are physical objects. Nonetheless, after considering the causes of our belief in the existence of body and finding them inadequate for the justification of that belief, Hume admitted to being drawn away form his original assumption that bodies exist. "To be ingenuous, I feel myself at present..more inclin'd to repose no faith at all in my senses, or rather imagination, than to place in it such an implicit confidence," because "'tis impossible upon any system to defend either our understanding or senses." His solution to these doubts was "carelessness and in-attention," which divert the mind from skeptical arguments.[1]
Hume tells us:

[T]he skeptic . . . must assent to the principle concerning the existence of body, tho' he cannot pretend by any arguments of philosophy to maintain its veracity. Nature has not left this to his choice, and has doubtless esteem'd it an affair of too great importance to be trusted to our uncertain reasonings and speculations. We may well ask, What causes induce us to believe in the existence of body?, but 'tis in vain to ask, Whether there be body or not? That is a point, which we must take for granted in all our reasoning.” (A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Part IV, Section II)[2]
For an answer to Hume I turn to Hume's contemporary opponent, Thomas Reid. More specifically to G.J. Mattey and his use of Lehrer and Reid. Thomas Reid (1710-1790) Scottish philosopher, leader of the “common sense” school. He studied Philosophy at Marischl college, Aberdeen. He served as a Presbyterian pastor. He influenced modern philosophers such as Charles Sanders Peirce.[3]

Reid argues that we are justified in following our senses.

That the evidence of sense is of a different kind, needs little proof. No man seeks a reason for believing what he sees or feels; and, if he did, it would be difficult to find one. But, though he can give no reason for believing his senses, his belief remains as firm as if it were grounded on demonstration...Many eminent philosophers, thinking it unreasonable to believe when they could not shew a reason, have laboured to furnish us with reasons for believing our senses; but their reasons are very insufficient, and will not bear examination. Other philosophers have shewn very clearly the fallacy of these reasons, and have, as they imagine, discovered invincible reasons against this belief; but they have never been able either to shake it themselves or to convince others. The statesman continues to plod, the soldier to fight, and the merchant to export and import, without being in the least moved by the demonstations that have been offered of the non-existence of those things about which they are so seriously employed. And a man may as soon by reasoning, pull the moon out of her orbit, as destroy the belief of the objects of sense. (Essay on the Intellectual Powers of Man, Essay IV, Chapter XX)[4]
He doesn't put it in these terms but he's arguing that living by the assumption that perceptions are real, works. Ignoring that realization doesn't work. Now he does say that perceptions can be wrong and we need attention to detail.[5] But in general he's talking about justification of belief in the external world and physical bodies. People go about their lives doing what they do and assume the reality of the world works. Now a student of philosophy may think “but that's the average person who knows nothing of philosophy and doesn't think. No philosopher lives by Humean skepticism. When a philosopher makes love he or she does not pull back at the most climatic moment and say “is my partner here real? Is this real? Am I really doing this deed in this place? Philosophers who are drafted and sent to was don't walk into machine gun fire to see if the bullets are real. Reid argues that we have prima face justification to assume the reality of regular and consistent perceptions. Science couldn't really thrive on Humean skepticism. To a point skepticism is good for science since science is not about proving facts but testing hypotheses. Yet if we never assume the reality of perception why bother with empirical observation?

Lewis and systems

Of course Hume is assumed by modern philosopher to have won the show down with Reid (although I disagree). Now a follower of Hume's, David Lewis, has in the late twentieth century developed a means of explaining physical and natural laws that will quite likely be argued against the TS argument. Lewis has overhauled modal logic, possible worlds, and counterfactuals, as well as other fields.[6]In dealing with the question “what is a law?” there are two major approaches: David Lewis (“Systems,” o “systematized regularity theory”) and David Armstrong's (universals).[7]Systems are made up of two competing aspects, strength and simplicty. Strength here means better explained and proven. Because strength involves explanation there is automatically a tradeoff between strength and simplicity. We can make a hpothesis stronger by explaining in more detail. But at the coast of simplicity. We can make them more simple by streamlining explanation, but at the coast of strength. “According to Lewis (1973, 73), the laws of nature belong to all the true deductive systems with a best combination of simplicity and strength.”[8]
One last aspect of the systems view that is appealing to many (though not all) is that it is in keeping with broadly Humean constraints on a sensible metaphysics. There is no overt appeal to closely related modal concepts (e.g., the counterfactual conditional) and no overt appeal to modality-supplying entities (e.g., universals or God; for the supposed need to appeal to God,.... Indeed, the systems approach is the centerpiece of Lewis's defense of Humean supervenience, “the doctrine that all there is in the world is a vast mosaic of local matters of particular fact, just one little thing and then another” (1986, ix). [emphasis mine].[9]
One reason why thinkers like this view, apparent from the quotation, is the alleged use of Occam's razor saving God out of the picture. I have dealt with that in chapter three. God is not multiplying entities beyond necessity, since God is not subject to physical law. The necessity if God cannot be understood in terms of science or physical law. Another problem with this approach is that it really contributes nothing toward answering the question about the nature of physical laws, ie descriptive laws appear to be descriptions of of prescriptive laws. If we decide that laws are the best balance between strength and simplicity, that does not prove that the law-like regularity is not the result of some external organizing principel or transcendental signified. Laws can be a balance between strong and simple, and still be set up by God. That doesn't blunt God arguments unless it indicates that the organizing principle (the balance) is spontaneous, that cannot be proved. One might argue that it can't be proved wither. Abductive arguments don't seek to prove, but argue from the best explanation; systems can't be the est for the question since it doesn't answer it. Moreover, Lewis' systems idea has been criticized as mind dependent; the ideas of strength, simplicity, and balance seem subjective and thus mind dependent.[10]Thus it turns out that the system's view might actually support the TS.

Armstrong and Universals

David Armstrong's ideas of universals is the rival and alternative to Lewis' view. Unfortunatley, this doesn't help the TS argument because the very point that makes it appealing is that it's less mind dependent, thus less friendly to the TS argument. To understand this theory we need to employ some modernized versions of Platonic thought. We have universals and particulars, universals are always true across the board and shared by many objects (heavy, light. brown, dark) and particulars are abd concrete objects, this particular dark brown pen in my hand. Universals are not located in a platonic realm, however, but in all the objects that share that quality (Aristotelian, no form without essence). So all red things share the universal of redness, and that universal is distributed among all red things. Some things seem universal and are not, such games. Not all games are universals because not all games share the same qualities.[11] The upshot is that there's a relationship between universals. If we have relations between objects that are universal we can draw relations between universals.
We need to be clear how a relation between universals can generate a relation between particular objects. To do this, note that if we have a first-order relation R (e.g. ‘being next to’) and two particulars a and b, then the combination R(a,b) is a particular (e.g. ‘the fact that a is next to b’). Similarly, the second-order universal N, when applied to the two first-order universals F and G, yields a first-order universal N(F,G). N(F,G), the relation between universals, is therefore itself a universal. It is then instantiated through the form N(F,G)(a’s being F, a’s being G).[12]
Armstrong's concept of universals distinguishes laws from regularities, Lewis' systems theory does not. That might seem to be a problem for the TS argument because it might seem to explain the law-like regularity of the universe. But, does it really explain it or merely gloss over it? First of all, there is no such thing as redness. Colors are not intrensic properties of objects, they are what our rods and cones do with light. Thus while pigmentation may be universal, redness or blueness is not. Even pigmentation is not universal because we believe that ogs don't see color. Even seeing is not universal to all organisms. So it looks like “universals” are also mind dependent, after all, everything seems universal on the surface, but could probably be questioned. There may be no universals. . Secondly, how can we know anything is universal when we are so little travaled in the universe? We use telescopes to see distant galaxies, but we also know the gravitational lense creates illusions in the night sky. The night sky is really a myth. Without physically and actually going to distant ends of the galaxy we can't know empirically what is universal and what is not. That means Armstrong's theory can't meet the atheist or skeptical dictum of empirical “proof.” We might well ask if there are universals, or even physical laws?

Do the descriptions describe “real things?”

The Laws of physics as written by Newton are mathematical abstractions. For Newton, Boyle and their Latitudinarian allies these laws were abstractions of God's will. For modern scientists they are merely descriptions of the way the universe behaves. According to Lewis (1973, 73), the laws of nature belong to all the true deductive systems with a best combination of simplicity and strength. what is being described is a law-like regularity. Are physical laws descriptions of the result of prescriptive laws? Some have asked what is being described? Are there real laws? Do the laws describe real things (other than the behavior itself)? Things always fall down and not up (toward the center of mass). Why? What makes it so? Friction excites molecules and produces heat but why? Answering things like “because that's what exciting molecules does,” is just like saying “it's just that way.” Paul Davies illustrates with an analogy to money. If one has money in the pocket, one has tangible paper and coinage that can he touched, and held, and traded for goods. If one has money in the bank, however, one only has a theoretic idea, and idea can be used to produce other theoretical ideas, such as interest, exchange rates, and debt. One can even use the theory to acquire other tangible goods. Is the money real? Physical laws are like that. They are mathematical abstractions describing what goes on in the natural world. [13]Davies believes that most physicists just assume that some day we will learn enough that our understanding will converge upon the reality the laws depict. He points out that there are physicists who are like Platonists in that they believe that laws of physicists, in so much as they are mathematical descriptions, as well as all numbers exist beyond the physical world in an abstract reality.

Think about the inconsistency, telling us there is only the physical, no realm of the unseen, then believing the reality of an abstract realm of math. A Platonic realm is a safe halfway house between God and the material. It's not real Platonism, it's The laws of nature created by God with God taken out of the picture. Of course that's not to say that physicalists are platonists, nevertheless, St. Augustine put the forms in the Mind of God, that would seem to be a more rational idea. After all Plato theorized a form of forms.[14]

That forms the basis for a mind, even though “the one” per se may not have been concieved as mind. The term we translate as “form,” however, is eidos, meaning idea. Ideas are in minds, and it was the next logical step for Augustine to place the froms in the mind of God. Afterall its easier to believe a min holding ideas than to think of ideas floating about disconnected from mind. Of course this is a conditional argument because I'm not arguing for an Augustinian view. Yet Platonism itself leads to a more elegant solution of minds as the basis of abstract objects. Thus if we regard abstractions as real then we should see them as mind dependent. Abstractions them selves are mind-dependent, come to that. It is hard to see how they could exist outside of a mind.

That mathematical ideas and physical laws are products of the mind would seem to make more sense than disembodied mathematics and laws just hanging about in some non-physical and non mental dimension. Even Armstrong's idea doesn't posit such a realm. We can't comprehend what kind of reality would be neither mental nor physical. Of course there could be some realm we don't understand, but that would seem to be a faith response on the part of the skeptic. There must be a logical reason why Aristotle didn't buy Platonism. That the Agustinian approach allows us to say there is no form without essence and still see mathematical entities as “real,” would make it seem the best option, but it requires the mind of God.


1 G.J. Matty, 2002 Lecture Notes, Lehrer's Theory of Knowledg e, Second edition chapter 4 the Foundation Theory: Fallible Foundations. Online resource, URL: accessed 9/2/15.

Mattey was one of the top Reid scholars. Mattey is senor lecturer at U*.C. Davis, Joinws faculty in 1977 (Ph.D. from U. Pittsburgh). He specializes in 17th and 18th century philosophy, epistemology and logic.

2 David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Part IV, Section II, Mineola, NY&: Dover Pu8blishing 2003, 134-157.

3 C. S.Peirce , "Some Consequences of Four Incapacities", Journal of Speculative Philosophy 2, (1868) pp. 140–157, see p. 155 via Google Books. Reprinted, Collected Papers v. 5, paragraphs 264–317 (see 311), Writings v. 2, pp. 211–42 (see 239), Essential Peirce v. 1, pp. 28–55 (see 52).Essay on the Intellectual Powers of Man, Essay IV, Chapter XX)

4 Thomas Reid, Essay on the Intellectual Powers of Man, Essay IV, Chapter XX, quoted in Mattey, op. cit.

5 Ibid.

6 Brian Weatherson, "David Lewis", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>
. According to Weatherson:
David Lewis (1941–2001) was one of the most important philosophers of the 20th Century. He made significant contributions to philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of science, decision theory, epistemology, meta-ethics and aesthetics. In most of these fields he is essential reading; in many of them he is among the most important figures of recent decades. And this list leaves out his two most significant contributions.

7 John W. Carroll, "Laws of Nature," The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), online resourse URL = <>.

8 Ibid. the article sites: David Lewis, Counterfactuals, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973.

9 Ibid. The article sites: David Lewis, Philosophical Papers, Volume II, New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

10 Ibid.
On mind dependent criticism: “See, especially, Armstrong 1983, 66–73; van Fraassen 1989, 40–64; Carroll 1990, 197–206.”

11 Hugh McCarthy, “The Universal Theory of Physical Law,” Hugh McCarthy's ASC blog. (Dec. 17, 2014) On line Resource URL:
I hesitate to site another blog by a Ph.D. candidate, but this is the most cogent and helpful explanation of Armstrong I've seen. McCarthy:
This blog is part of an ASC research project that I am completing as part of my PhB (Science) degree at the Australian National University, in the summer of 2014-2015. I am looking at the relationship between law and science, trying to answer questions like “What is difference between a legal law and a scientific law?” The project is supervised by Joshua Neoh from the ANU Law Department, and Pierre Portal from the ANU Maths Department.

12 Ibid.

13 Davies, Cosmic Jackpot…,
14 Rep. 596a:
We customarily hypothesize a single form in connection with each collection of many things to which we apply the same name
Then let’s now take any of the manys you like. For example, there are many beds and tables ... but there are only two forms of such furniture, one of the bed and one of the table.