27 August, 2009

Presuppositionalist Nonsense Part II

In Presuppositionalist Nonsense Part I, it was shown that the request of a presuppositionalist for an account of the abstract, universal, invariant laws of logic is a dishonest approach as it already assumes, with no verification, that the laws of logic are indeed abstract, universal and invariant. The onus is actually on the presupper to prove this claim, which they unsurprisingly never do. Of course, to do so amounts to an impossibility since they would literally have to demonstrate that no law of logic has ever been broken at any time since the universe existed and that no law of logic will ever be broken in the future.

It is, however, much easier to disprove as one example of a law of logic not holding is all that is needed. In Part I, the example of relativity was used to show that the law of non-contradiction is not universal. I was challenged by a presupp commenter called Sye TenB that this example did not apply since different perspectives do not count as 'the same way', which is a necessary condition of the law of non-contradiction.

I disagreed with him but I took his criticism on board nonetheless and now I present a slight variation on my argument which I hope will clear it up. Instead of two people and a train, simply imagine the perspective of one person sitting at a table looking at a bunch of flowers. From the perspective of the person, the flowers are not moving. However, this person knows some basic cosmology and is thus aware of the fact that the earth's rotation is moving the flowers. I submit that this person can simultaneously appreciate the fact that the flowers are thus moving and not moving at the same time, and crucially, in the same way.

Now I can already hear Sye saying that the person is simply imagining two different perspectives and so this still isn't in the 'same way'. But, again, I would disagree. The person doesn't have to literally imagine themselves looking at the flowers from an outer space perspective in order to know that they are moving. They can simply have knowledge of the fact that it is moving with the earth's rotation. So, in my opinion it's possible to look at an object and simultaneously think of it as both moving and not moving at the same time and in the same way.

Anyway, I promised another example of the law of non-contradiction not holding and here it is...

Suppose that the last few sentences in yesterday’s edition of a tabloid newspaper read:

"We have received several complaints accusing our newspaper of sub-standard journalistic ethics. We thus make this pledge. The last sentence in tomorrow’s edition of the newspaper will be true."

This is a grammatically correct meaningful sentence. It imparts information on a particular subject. So, after reading today's paper, you check the last two sentences which read:

"Correction: we regret to inform our readers of a mistake. The last sentence in yesterday’s edition of the newspaper was not true."

Again, a grammatically correct meaningful sentence. It similarly imparts information on a particular subject.

Now you remember from yesterday's edition that the last sentence in today's edition would be true. This means that the original sentence in yesterday's edition is no longer to be considered true. The result is that the first sentence is both true and not true at the same time and in the same way, thus breaking the law of non-contradiction. Of course, a presupper will deny this to the end, perhaps by saying that the first sentence is not true and false at the same time, since it was originally true yesterday, and then only became false today. But if it only became false today, then that means the last sentence in today's edition is also false, meaning the first sentence is true again. So it most definitely is true and not true at the same time and in the same way.

As I explained in Part I, this breakdown in the law of non-contradiction is consistent with the fact that the laws of logic are man-made entities. They are useful guidelines which describe how reality seems to work. This is not consistent, however, with the presuppositionalist worldview in which the laws are logic, as derived from God's nature, are universal and invariant.

A common presupper response to this would be something like:

Could the universe have both existed and not existed before man came along and created the law of non-contradiction?

This is just a silly question. The existence of the law of non-contradiction is not necessary for something to exist in a non-contradictory way. Logic does not determine reality, reality determines logic.

Now the following is not a scenario that I believe in, but just for fun lets consider for a moment the possibility that the universe did exist and not exist at the same time...

I'd just like to repeat that last sentence to deter potential quote miners.

Now the following is not a scenario that I believe in, but just for fun lets consider for a moment the possibility that the universe did exist and not exist at the same time...

In what way could we measure or observe this? Let's take one at a time:

1) If the universe does exist and not exist at the same time then, as one part of that dichotomy, it would necessarily exist. Since we are here observing the universe, I think it is safe to assume that it does indeed exist.

2) If the universe does exist and not exist at the same time then, as one part of that dichotomy, it would necessarily not exist. By definition, there would be no trace of this non-existent universe to measure or observe, and indeed we have no trace of such.

So from our viewpoint, there is no evidence to falsify the hypothesis that the universe actually does exist and doesn't exist at the same time. The presupper will jump on the idea of the universe not existing and extrapolate to suggest that this means your consciousness also doesn't exist. But what they fail to consider is that the original question is whether the universe (or one's consciousness) can both exist and not exist at the same time, not just whether it doesn't exist. As I have shown, this is not inconsistent with what we observe, as we do in fact exist, and we cannot measure our non-existence.

The very fact that this is difficult to understand or comprehend shows that the law of non-contradiction is a man-made entity, which describes reality with a high degree of precision, but is not necessarily universal or invariant.

To sum up, in my view logic is only applicable to human thought and reasoning, meaning it is not universal. Is logic necessary for a rock to exist or the sun to shine? No, it is only necessary for humans to think and reason about these things. Consciousness uses logic to interpret and interact with reality. Logic does not exist outside of consciousness. And even at that, in rare cases it does not always hold true, leading to paradoxes and contradictions. These contradictions refute the presuppositionalist's worldview, since they require the laws of logic to be universal and invariant.

In Part 3 I will discuss how the presuppositionalist's own position on such things as senses, reasoning and certainty is self-refuting and how their claimed presupposition that God is the source of logic and certainty is fallacious.


5 comments:

Sye TenB said...

I have no problem letting your 'logic' stand on its own. :-)

I'd comment on your logic, but that would be like one baseball commenter correcting another when he is talking about the nice field goal that the batter just kicked. It is so wrong, that it does not deserve the dignity of being called a mistake. :-)

No doubt you will suggest that I have no rebuttle to your batter's field goal, but if you really want one, I will be glad to comply.

Cheers,

Sye

rhiggs said...

The rules of baseball are not universal or invariant.

Great analogy!


Oh and I don't know what a 'rebuttle' is so I think I'll decline your offer.

:D

Pvblivs said...

     The variant on the liar paradox is certainly interesting. From what I have read, the final conclusion was that any definition of truth was necessarily incomplete. Any sufficiently advanced axiomatic system will have statement that the system can neither prove nor disprove.

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

The law of non-contradiction does not apply in the realm of quantum mechanics were particles can be in two places at the one time and can be similtaneoulsy a wave and a particle. We have to invent a new set of logical rules to describe how things work in this realm. We are still figuring out how they do - by observation and inference from the observations.

rhiggs said...

Thanks for the comment Rosemary. Yes indeed quantum mechanics poses a problem for the likes of $ye and his cohorts, not least the fact that electrons simultaneously travel all possible paths between two points.