Saturday, March 05, 2011

Induction and a mentalistic universe

Doctor Logic: Expectation assumes induction. If I give up induction as a principle of reason, I wouldn't expect anything at all. I certainly couldn't expect that God would keep things regular because that would involve induction somewhere along the line.

VR: My expectation that God would keep things regular is a direct inference from the immediate knowledge I have of my own mind (about the only thing, perhaps, that I have immediate knowledge about). I know what it is to have a mind. And a mind that prefers disorder to order is simply not a mind. Hence there is something incoherent about the idea of a disordered and chaotic universe that was made by a mind, but there is nothing incoherent about the idea of a chaotic universe that was not made by a mind.

46 comments:

GREV said...

Fatal Point perhaps in this is assuming that the Creature knows the mind of the Creator ..... know in part ... comfortable with that.

Victor Reppert said...

But all I am assuming here is that I know what it is to have a mind. If there is not preference for order over disorder, it's not a mind, however imperfectly I may know that mind.

JS Allen said...

Couldn't this cut both ways? If we admit that minds seek order, and we hypothetically consider the case of minds arising from chaos, we could expect those minds to erroneously seek order in the chaos.

Crude said...

If we admit that minds seek order, and we hypothetically consider the case of minds arising from chaos, we could expect those minds to erroneously seek order in the chaos.

Isn't that a recipe for some radical skepticism?

Gimli 4 the West said...

VR: "a mind that prefers disorder to order is simply not a mind."

This is just about the best one sentence explanation of nihilism I've read. Nihilism, the other side of atheism.

Papalinton said...

Victor
Is it your assumption that oder of the universe can only be ascribed to a deity?

It would seem to me that order and chaos/disorder are but obverses of the same coin. Why should order and regularity not be perfectly natural occurrences?
Anything other than that which we can observe and sense is simply concession to invoking teleological intentionally to an otherwise naturally occurring universe. Nothing more, nothing less. To invoke some form of personified actuality as the grounds for explaining the order of the universe is a bit of a stretch, and is only found so in theology. There is no other field of human endeavour that verifies or substantiates the claim.

The mentalistic universe, if that is what you are describing what is normally considered as 'thought', or thought-patterns, is purely metaphysical. It lives, grows and dies with the brain.

Your world of christian stories are produced in the brain and mind-states no differently than Trekkies picture their transported world. Indeed it is the same areas of the brain that show fMRI activity consistent with recall of either set of thought-patterns.

Cheers

Gimli 4 the West said...

Pap, I like the comparison of Theist and Trekkies, kind of reminds me of the comparison of atheists and Stalinist.

So, tell me why you're a Stalinist and when was the last time you beat your wife.

Don't worry, it's just between us.

Anonymous said...

There is no other field of human endeavour that verifies or substantiates the claim.

Except all of those fields in which a human mind creates order. Which would include almost every instance of engineering, art... and, if you're a skeptic, science.

Papalinton said...

Gimli 4 the West
"So, tell me why you're a Stalinist and when was the last time you beat your wife?"


I'm not a christian. I don't believe in violence, or hell, or eternal damnation.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a christian. I don't believe in violence

Joke A: So you're not an atheist either?

Joke B: I'm pretty sure violence exists, Pap smear.

Papalinton said...

Anonymous
"Except all of those fields in which a human mind creates order. Which would include almost every instance of engineering, art... and, if you're a skeptic, science."

Misconstrual of the intent of the message again, I note, Anon. I'm perfectly happy with engineering, art, music, science etc as ideations of the mind. All perfectly normal and an integral component of the natural world, just as one would expect it to be.

No amount of convoluted theological wordfest will make the case for any of it, be it art, music etc, to be a gift from some anthropomorphized figment, itself a contrivance of the fertile and creative mind.

Denis Diderot, french philosopher notes: "I have only a small flickering light to guide me in the darkness of a thick forest. Up comes a theologian and blows it out."

Anonymous said...

Misconstrual of the intent of the message again, I note, Anon.

No harm done, Paps. You don't offer much content to begin with.

I'm perfectly happy with engineering, art, music, science etc as ideations of the mind. All perfectly normal and an integral component of the natural world, just as one would expect it to be.

To the naturalist, the existence of mind is an embarrassment crying out for an explanation, a fly in the ointment. And the sheer capability of minds a lingering threat, as every advance of order, creativity and understanding inside and outside of science only serves to illustrate the work of a mind in nature itself.

No amount of convoluted theological wordfest

..is necessary, really. It's downright self-evident, except for people who are so, so slow.

You've lost, Paps. The theists have the better argument. They don't even need miracles to testify to their view. That is just icing on the cake.

Retreat, now, to your french philosophy and your radical skepticism. Hug your knees and mumble, "It's all chaos, the order is illusion" over and over. ;)

Gimli 4 the West said...

Pap, as promised, I won't embarrass you by letting this get out. I'll keep your confession just between us.

Gimli 4 the West said...

Pap, on second thought, I really do think you should reconsider your identification with Stalin.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Anon wrote:
"To the naturalist, the existence of mind is an embarrassment crying out for an explanation, a fly in the ointment"

Great quote, I wish more stuff like this was actually published I'm scouring the literature for them...people are unfortunately usually more reserved (Huxely, Fullerton are exceptions to some degree).

Also, great quote from Diderot Papa Lint!

Blue Devil Knight said...

Anon if you have published such quotes in the literature, or know of such good antinaturalistic bumperstickers, please email me the sources

bluedevil dot knight (it's a yahoo acct).

Doctor Logic said...

Victor:

My expectation that God would keep things regular is a direct inference from the immediate knowledge I have of my own mind (about the only thing, perhaps, that I have immediate knowledge about).

Again, this is circular.

First, there's no such thing as immediate knowledge. We certainly have self-knowledge of the order in our minds, but we don't get that instantly. We learn to recognize that order over time. We need memory for order, and we compare our state of mind 5 minutes ago (or 5 days ago) to what it is now.

Moreover, when I say something like "I'm worried about my brother's health, just like I was yesterday", it's implicit that I could recognize my brother and his state of health. And there would be no way I could recognize my brother or a state of health unless those things were regular such that past experiences of "brother" have implications for future experiences of "brother", etc. The objects of deduction are known by induction.

Your argument above relies upon the inductive inferences I describe above, and then compounds it with one more inductive inference. Since, in your past experience of minds, minds prefer order, you expect that your future experiences of minds will be of minds that prefer order.

So you are already assuming the cosmos will be sufficiently orderly to make inferences about the future from the past, even before you get to considering God's existence. Hence, God is not the reason you make inductive inferences.

And, finally, your argument doesn't work, even after you accept inductive inferences because physical laws have inherent order as much as minds do. That is, a mind of God isn't necessary (based on the argument you gave), and there's no great advantage in your argument to having an invisible primordial mental order to explain a primordial physical order.

GREV said...

Am I wrong; but isn't there an argument that physical laws don't have as much assumed order as many like to think they do?

So the claim that physical laws are the basis for things is then suspect because the laws need something or Someone to sustain the order they are believed to give?

Just thinking aloud. If foolish please disregard.


Makes for fascinating reading.

Anonymous said...

We certainly have self-knowledge of the order in our minds, but we don't get that instantly. We learn to recognize that order over time.

We use order to recognize our minds are orderly before we're aware of the order?

GREV said...

God's Undertaker:Has Science Buried God by John Lennox

From Page 45 -- “It is likewise a category mistake to suppose that our understanding of the impersonal principles according to which the universe works makes it either unnecessary or impossible to believe in the existence of a personal Creator who designed, made, and upholds the universe. In other words, we should not confuse the mechanisms by which the universe works either with its cause or upholder.

The basic issue here is that those of a scientistic turn of mind like Atkins and Dawkins fail to distinguish between mechanism and agency. In philosophical terms they make a very elementary category mistake when they argue that, because we understand a mechanism that accounts for a particular phenomenon, there is no agent that designed the mechanism.....

Michael Poole, in his published debate with Richard Dawkins, puts it this way “... there is no logical conflict between reason-giving explanations which concern mechanisms, and reason-giving explanations which concern the plans and purpose of an agent, human or divine. This is a logical point, not a matter of whether one does or does not happen to believe in God oneself.”

Failure to distinguish between Mechanism and Agency. Just because one understands the mechanism does not do away with the Designer of the Mechanism.

So a basic category mistake is at the heart of some of this. Keeps getting interesting.

Doctor Logic said...

Anonymous,

We use order to recognize our minds are orderly before we're aware of the order?

You seem to be looking for a way to rationally justify reason, and this cannot be done, no matter what you think reason consists of.

I'm saying that rationality requires both deduction and induction. Giving up either results in an inability to hold beliefs or make rational inferences.

Moreover, since no rational proof of the rational axioms can ever be given without circularity, we can't produce a proof of the axioms, not with deduction, induction, nor any combination of the two.

Everything we can ever rationally believe assumes the rational axioms as a starting point, even if implicitly. So, if we believe that minds are orderly, we have already assumed that our minds satisfy rational axioms, and are therefore ordered (since order in this context means having the ability to do induction and deduction (= avoid contradictions)).

Anonymous said...

You seem to be looking for a way to rationally justify reason, and this cannot be done, no matter what you think reason consists of.

I'm A) examining the idea that one's own mind being ordered is a datum, not an inference, and B) exploring what must be true about the universe for reason to be possible to begin with. In A's case no justification would be required. In B's case, "justifying" reason is not the goal anyway.

Doctor Logic said...

Anonymous,

So you don't dispute that induction is necessary for reason?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Logic:

"So, if we believe that minds are orderly, we have already assumed that our minds satisfy rational axioms, and are therefore ordered (since order in this context means having the ability to do induction and deduction (= avoid contradictions))."

Victor: "And a mind that prefers disorder to order is simply not a mind."

It sounds as if Dr. Logic and Victor saying the same thing here. -- Bilbo

Anonymous said...

So you don't dispute that induction is necessary for reason?

I'm not even considering that right this moment. I'm considering what I outlined in A, and B.

Doctor Logic said...

Anonymous,

I'm not even considering that right this moment. I'm considering what I outlined in A, and B.

I'm not sure where you plan to go with A. If reason requires induction, as I have argued, then a mind that is ordered is a mind capable of induction (as well as deduction). In that case, the datum would include the fact that we are capable of induction.

If it is not a datum, then our orderliness is an inductive inference.

In either case, we don't need God to legitimize induction.

And, of course, any attempt to use a datum/data about our own mind to make an inference to other minds will again rely on induction, and end up being circular if it attempts to justify induction.

As for B, you seem to be looking to construct some sort of ontological argument, which is something many people have attempted to do. That's fine, but I don't see its relevance to this thread. Any argument for induction is going to rely on induction, even if it relied on a datum.

Doctor Logic said...

Bilbo,

Victor: "And a mind that prefers disorder to order is simply not a mind."

It sounds as if Dr. Logic and Victor saying the same thing here.


I'm not sure we're saying the same thing because Victor hasn't defined what order means. Even if we agreed that order meant the ability to make deductions, Victor would still need to employ induction to reach his destination, and that would render the argument circular.

Anonymous said...

In that case, the datum would include the fact that we are capable of induction.

Again: I haven't even addressed the topic of induction one way or the other. I'm exploring the idea whether the order of my mind is a datum.

In either case, we don't need God to legitimize induction.

According to you legitimizing/"justifying" reason "cannot be done, no matter what you think reason consists of."

So your position wouldn't be that "we don't need God to legitimize" inductive reasoning, but legitimizing it is impossible.

As for B, you seem to be looking to construct some sort of ontological argument, which is something many people have attempted to do.

Or, maybe I'm just asking the question, "What would need to be true about the universe for reason to be possible to begin with?" This is very on topic, and is a pretty innocent question.

Anonymous said...

Victor: "Hence there is something incoherent about the idea of a disordered and chaotic universe that was made by a mind, but there is nothing incoherent about the idea of a chaotic universe that was not made by a mind."

But is there something incoherent about an ordered universe that was not made by a mind? -- Bilbo

Anonymous said...

Or perhaps we should examine the argument this way:

We have some evidence that the universe is ordered. And we have some evidence that it is disordered. Which is it?

A Judeo/Christian Theist believes the universe created by a rational, benevolent God. Therefore, he/she would expect the universe to be ordered. When confronted with apparent disorder, she/he would investigate to try to find the underlying explanation and re-establish the view that the universe is (at bottom) ordered.

Contrast this with a polytheist, who believes that the universe was not created by a rational, benevolent God, and is currently controlled by different, competing deities. Confronted by apparent disorder, the polytheist would probably be less likely to seek for an underlying explanation that re-establishes an orderly view of the universe. -- Bilbo

Anonymous said...

We can understand how modern science would be more likely to grow up in a Judeo/Christian environment, than in a polytheistic one. -- Bilbo

Hiero5ant said...

Listening to believers in the resurrection or the virgin birth boast of "the expectation of a universe governed by laws" is like listening to elderly tea partiers demanding that Obama not "take money away from Medicare and put it in some Big Government Entitlement." 100% self-awareness fail.

Anonymous said...

Except the virgin birth and resurrection are explicable and orderly even on a theistic view. Naturalists are open to vastly more "miracles" than that in principle. They just would lack explanation ultimately.

GREV said...

What is so automatically wrong with Circular Arguments?

Refuting the Circular Argument: The True Fallacy
David A. Garner
University of Tennessee

Victor Reppert said...

If there are miracles, then there have to be laws of nature. Miracles are "teleological suspensions of the natural."

Papalinton said...

@ Anonymous
"Except the virgin birth and resurrection are explicable and orderly even on a theistic view. Naturalists are open to vastly more "miracles" than that in principle. They just would lack explanation ultimately."

Give it a break Anon.
This is the 'god of the gaps' argument, naturalists open to miracles but lack explanation. Naturalists say, 'I don't know', not 'we don't have an explanation therefore god must have done it'.
That simply is reverting to the primitivistic mindset that provided order in the minds of earlier generations of humans throughout history. Reliance on the knee-jerk reaction of a teleological response to things as yet inexplicable, is the classical example of the invocation of a 'god of the gaps'.

If there is a designer-creator, scientists only have to revise their science books. If there is no designer-creator, christians have to throw out their christian book - holus-bolus. Scientist could live with a designer-creator, christianity would die without one. This is the fundamental reason christians battle so hard to keep their faith 'alive'. scriptures. The death and resurrection of jesus is the central focus of the christianities. They know deep in their minds [not in their heart of hearts], that there is a dearth of any form of evidence, except for second-hand hearsay, for that belief, and that it is predicated solely on the 'miracles' of a dead putrescent body coming to life [not unlike zombies and vampires. Indeed they share a common folkloric origin with the resurrection and ascension of jesus] and zooming into the sky.

How convenient that the body was dumped in Gehenna and the tomb was empty. I do hope archeologists never stop searching for his bones, do a DNA test on them [which should show parthenogenesis, with no contribution of male sperm in his genetic makeup].

In terms of miracles, why does your god have such disdain for amputees? For every amputee that has done the pilgrimage to Lourdes, not one has succeeded in gaining his compassion. The only miracles that occur on a regular basis today are due to the hard yards of scientists in the exponential growth and understanding of medical and biological sciences developed in a perfectly natural world, just as one would expect.

Sheesh Anon, adults with fairy stories about super-heroes and arch super-villains gets to be a bit of a stretch after a while, no?

Anonymous said...

This is the 'god of the gaps' argument, naturalists open to miracles but lack explanation. Naturalists say, 'I don't know', not 'we don't have an explanation therefore god must have done it'.

Or they say "it's just a brute fact it is" or "it happened but there is literally no explanation" or "it happened without cause" or "it came from utter nothingness" or...

It's a lot more magical than most theisms can ever hope to be. It's the naturalists who are most likely to deny the principle of sufficient reason, not the theists.

Saying "I don't know" doesn't hide the fact that the only possible explanations you have available are hilariously magical.

GREV said...

"Michael Poole, in his published debate with Richard Dawkins, puts it this way “... there is no logical conflict between reason-giving explanations which concern mechanisms, and reason-giving explanations which concern the plans and purpose of an agent, human or divine. This is a logical point, not a matter of whether one does or does not happen to believe in God oneself.”


Poole quoted in Lennox -- Dawkins considered Poole very fair in his critical comments of the positions taken by Dawkins.

Are the reason giving explanations of the naturalist and or materialist able to account for Knowledge and Truth?

Doctor Logic said...

GREV,

What is so automatically wrong with Circular Arguments?

Premise P1: x = 2

Premise P2: x + y = 5

Conclusion C1: y = 3
(From P1 & P2)

Conclusion C2: Therefore, x = 2
(From C1 and P2).

All of this is perfectly valid, but, of course, I've not proven or lent legitimacy to P1 by doing this.

Let's suppose that, for whatever reason, I believe P1, but P1 is wrong. By putting forward this circular argument, and imagining it to be persuasive, I just prolong my ignorance. I trap myself in a world of false beliefs supported by bad arguments.

THAT is what's wrong with circular arguments. They let you rationalize any belief, whether or not that belief is true.

Papalinton said...

Hi GREV
"Are the reason giving explanations of the naturalist and or materialist able to account for Knowledge and Truth?"

Knowledge [even capitalized Knowledge] is information gathered, either recorded or memorized. Now this information can be anything, founded on fact or based in fiction. Both are equally received in the brain as indeed both types can be recorded, just as myths can be recorded and learned as information by people, so too can people learn knowledge about factual things, from the natural world. Just because one has knowledge does not in any form mean that that person is in fact holder of actual demonstrable naturalistic reality. The contrived mythologies of the judeo-christian writings are just such forms of information, knowledge if you will, that has no basis in substantive fact. And simply because many people believe otherwise does not make it factual. This is in stark contrast to information,knowledge if you will, that is founded on fact; for example, we know without doubt that that schizophrenia and epilepsy are not indicators of devil possession as 99-100% of people in earlier times believed so. We now have fact, verifiable, repeatable, testable facts [knowledge] that these conditions can now be attributed to either a malfunctioning or dysfunctional brain and can in part if not completely mitigated by medical therapy of varying kinds.
[cont.]

Papalinton said...

@ GREV [CONT 2]

So yes naturalists and materialists are easily able to account for Knowledge. But it seems theists are singularly unable to distinguish knowledge bounded in fact with inventive knowledge based in the fictive world of teleological imagination.

The same goes for truth [even capitalized Truth]. The proper definition of Truth is that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality. As we have seen knowledge can be of both factual and fictional in origin. An excellent example of fictional knowledge is the study of mythology, fairy tales, and bible stories such as the great flood, or the exodus or the talking snake. But knowledge of itself is not synonymous with truth. Although one can say they have true knowledge of the resurrection and the ascension, it is only true in the theological sense, not in a factual sense, as this form of 'truth' is based solely on belief or faith. And we know that for a fact because 5 billion people do not believe it. Equally we know, more pertinently, that Jews do not believe in the resurrection and ascension, even at the time it was supposed to have happened. So from external verifiable sources, it is clear that this 'truth' is, and can only be such within the purview of christian theology.

Cheers

GREV said...

Thanks Doc:

Shall review and hopefully reply in another day or so.

Some make the argument that the rules of formal logic must change in this matter. I'm sure that is up for debate.

A provisional statement, subject to change, that I would make is this.

Is it considered appropriate to believe that a Creator, having the properties of pure consciousness and goodness amongst many others in its Being, so that all possible states of thought and everything else are known there. Could construct its mode of relating that makes it such that the thoughts and propositions set forth by such a Being are not strictly bound by the laws of formal logic we have devised?

Does that then render such a Being unknowable? Or does it make us dependent on the revelations of such a Being to which we then apply rational processes understanding our limitations?

GREV said...

Seems like the basic category mistake error is still being indulged in. Regarding mechanism and agency. Whereas the point regarding belief in God does not enter into discussion of mechanism.

Because the universe is workable and ordered according to abstract mathematical laws the point can be made that a Rational Mind is responsible for this and so thus a better accounting for Truth and Knowledge is found there.

Love the word verification unfortio

Doctor Logic said...

GREV,

I consulted one of my friends, and she explained to me that circular arguments are okay because it's okay to have circular arguments. :P

JS Allen said...

If we admit that minds seek order, and we hypothetically consider the case of minds arising from chaos, we could expect those minds to erroneously seek order in the chaos.

Crude said...
Isn't that a recipe for some radical skepticism?


Possibly. I'm not very good with philosophy, so I don't see where you're going with this. Can you elaborate?

Hiero5ant said...

If it is explicable it's hardly a miracle, and if it admits of suspensions it's hardly a law then, is it?

I don't go in much for metaphysics -- I am not a naturalist -- so I don't find much of interest in problematizing "the very existence order" in some place I've never seen called "the universe" or "the world". Induction (cognition) is simply the extraction of regularities from experience. We should no more be surprised that we induce regularities than we should be surprised that musicians produce sound. It's what we set out to do in the first place.