Logic and nihilism

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Xev, Jan 19, 2004.

  1. Xev Registered Senior Member

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    Logic is generally seen as a prescription for arriving at truth - as long as our methods of reasoning are sound, our conclusions will be.
    Unfortunately, by accepting this line of thought one ties conclusions to methods of reasoning.

    In 1829, Nickolai Lobachevsky published a small book on geometry whose conclusions would radically change the history of geometry. For over 2000 years, our knowledge of geometry was essentially based on the work of Euclid of Alexandria. All of Euclid's theorems are based on five postulates - by these five, he goes on to give a system which, with modification, has formed the basis for our knowledge of geometry. Yet the fifth postulate was incomplete. What Lobachevsky did, and which revolutionized geometry, was to replace that fifth postulate.
    Euclidian and non-Euclidian geometry are radically different for this reason. Yet neither is "false" - both are internally consistant.

    By simply changing one postulate one can radically arrive at different "true" conclusions. Apply this to the study of logic - logic defines a structure of reasoning and criteria by which bad methods of reasoning are weeded out. Change the criteria and what is accepted as a valid conclusion and what is accepted as invalid can change radically.

    Simply put, logic's stance as a self-referential system undermines it. Nihilists believe that a thing is only what it is, and its values or associations are not indicative of the thing in-itself. Compare this to formal logic, which values the reasoning that we follow as valid or invalid. Logic is inescapable - even illogical or magical thinking is a form of logic - but the idea that we can arrive at truth by creating the proper methods to do so seems antiquated.

    (I should say that I'm thinking of formal and philosophical logic when writing this.)
     
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  3. WANDERER Banned Banned

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    Logic for me is a set of rules constructed from experience and consistency.
    So logic leads to ‘truth’ that is always subjective because it is tied to the experiences and awareness of every individual.
    The search for ’ absolute truth’ or ‘objective truth’ should be left aside as a myth so that we may focus our attentions in finding a superior ‘subjective truth’.
    Man sees what he is looking for; let him look for greatness.
     
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  5. Xev Registered Senior Member

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    Amazing, no comment from the peanut gallery so far.

    Wanderer:
    Well that's so and I agree, but formal logic posits a set of rules that is allegedly objective.
    Of course, accepting that set is a subjective act. You see what I'm getting at? Not only our truth but our logic is subjective. It seems obvious enough, doesn't it? But the conclusions are breathtaking. Or perhaps that's just me, I've spent much of my life dedicated to rational methods of thought. The implications of this subjectivity did profoundly change everything for me when I discovered them.

    "While we may believe
    our world - our reality
    to be that is - is but one
    manifestation of the essence"
    -Varg Vikernes
     
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  7. thefountainhed Fully Realized Valued Senior Member

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    The objective is merely a set of subjectives decided upon. This is what allows different conclusions. Also they are not both "true" unless view within their contexts. The two rules are mutually exclusive.
     
  8. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    It may be seen that way, but that's incorrect. Sadly, it will still be seen that way regardless.

    No, by accepting that line of thought, one misses the usefullness and thus the point of logic. Conclusions are always tied to methods of reasoning, especially since all methods of reasoning contain at minimum, one subjective judgement.

    Beautiful. You gotta love big thinkers.
    "our knowledge" as in the populations knowledge is still based on Euclid's thinking. Non-Euclidian geometry is of little utility to the average person.

    I think this serves as a clue to the nature of logic, as I'll describe below.

    Recognize that logic is a transform.

    You put in assumptions (1=1, what I see is real, the measurement of angle is representative of reality, etc.), logic is used to process them, you get results.

    Those results are wholly based on the assumptions.

    That is a matter of opinion. If you misunderstand the application of logic, then yes you're correct. Otherwise, it's a reflection of expectation to say that it is "undermined". It is as effective as the assumptions employed to yield the pertinent transform (disregarding the skill of application).

    That is simply common sense. I have no idea why you associate that with nihilists, but you read more than I do so maybe you have good reason. Regardless, as you elude to below, you had to use logic to reach that conclusion.. how can you be sure it's valid?

    You must not be referring to binary logic (which is quite formal)? Reasoning, IMO, is much more broad than logic, and actually gave birth to the concept. Reasoning is not formal. Aspects of it might be, but all in all, reason incorporates intuition and faith. Formal logic doesn't value anything. It is susceptable to flawed assumptions.

    I'd say you're mistaking logic for reasoning in that case, but the terms are often used interchangably. You are apparently not using terminology the same way I do.

    Speaking of truth: I see two fundamental types of truth. The objective and subjective. For instance the truth that the truth is based on your assumptions, or rather.. that it's context dependent. That is a truth that transcends itself, yet still adheres to itself. Its truth depends on the context in which it is stated, yet it is applicable even if you fail to acknowledge the validity of the context.

    The thing is: The truth is abstract. The only thing making something "true" is a structure in your head which validates or invalidates the stuff you present it. As such, there may be rules, there may be absolutes, but they have little bearing on the physical world unless forged there by force of will. The physical world will determine what is. This is often a useful tool when people assert truth via their will. If you want to hurt me, you can hit me. You will create a common context and assert a truth in doing so, manipulating the physical world to do so.

    I'll stop before I get lost in all of that.
     
  9. BigBlueHead Great Tealnoggin! Registered Senior Member

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    Xev sez:
    The natures of even our most basic concepts are cloudy enough that I don't believe that there is any way to arrive at truth, or even recognize it if you were sitting on it. Many of our deeply held beliefs are conventions; often we have conventions even for things that we consider to be "true", and there is no way to discover what truth underpins them.

    Consider numbers, for instance. People have many different ideas of what numbers are - linguistic representations of arrangements or properties - but numbers still enjoy a different status in our language from other symbols.

    When we say "A", we know that's a sound (convention) for a written symbol (convention) that we use to communicate words (convention) in our language (convention).

    When we say "1", we know that's a sound (convention) for a written symbol (convention) that we use to communicate... this is where it gets foggy. It could be:
    Representation of an ARRANGEMENT - a single thing.
    Representation of a PROPERTY - a single thing has the property of being single.

    I'm not sure which of these it is, but it represents a problem:

    When we say "Apple", we know that - if humans had never existed but apples did - there would still be apples but they would not have the name "apple". Apple is a real thing (for the sake of argument). "Apple" is a conventional term that dies with us when we die.

    When we say "1", we know that - if humans had never existed but objects did - there would still be single objects but they would not have the name "1". There would still be 1 of the object, even though the name "1" doesn't exist. "1" is just a name for its single-ness. "2" a name for the number of 2 things, &c.

    So it seems to make sense that numbers can exist without an intelligent observer/speaker, where names can't.

    Consequently numbers seem to make the most sense as being names for arrangements - think of 1,2,3,4 the same way you think of inside, outside, above, below - states of arrangement.

    But is this how we think of numbers really? Not really; by convention we handle numbers as abstract entities for mathematical use. But that doesn't change the fact that they appear to exist without us, as arrangements of physical objects.

    There are similar conventions in geometry and other fields that are often considered to be "representative of the world"; they sometimes serve to demonstrate those aspects of the world that we are unable to analyze to any degree.

    Poincare had an example of a geometric convention that cannot be broken out of to find the "truth" - you can read about it briefly <a href="http://mcs.open.ac.uk/tcl2/nonE/CABRI2001/PDiscMod.html">here</a>, it's just a thought experiment really...

    On the basis of these unbreakable conventions I must agree that truth is not a fish that you can catch.
     
  10. spookz Banned Banned

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    So it seems to make sense that numbers can exist without an intelligent observer/speaker, where names can't. (bbh)

    i fail to see the difference unfortunately. as with the requirement that an observer is required to name that which is apprehended, so is his presence required in order to quantify the same

    if there is no observer, distinctions cannot be made b/w 1/2/3/4

    ja? no?

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  11. thefountainhed Fully Realized Valued Senior Member

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    And this is where I disagree. The physical world is non existent without the observer. A physical world is realizable only within the viewpoint of the individual. Again, there is no objective that is not based on a subjective. One takes the subjective, and unconflicting with other subjectives, presupposes its truth. That subjective then becomes an objective.

    Logic takes a set of subjectives and asserts their objectiveness within a specific context. A such, on earth, gravity is 9.8m/s^2. And within this context, we say that value is the objective. Or perhaps that, when cut, a living person bleeds. Again, within this context, that becomes an unconflicted subective, and hence an objective. One can follow logically and assert therefore that "I cut A. Therefore, A is bleeding". And other factors, unconsidered, "A is not cut. Therefore, A is not bleeding."

    Logic is merely formalized reasoning that yields a truth, every sungle time-- as long as viewed within its context. The physical of the tree therefore is entirely dependent on the assumptions made by the subject.
     
  12. BigBlueHead Great Tealnoggin! Registered Senior Member

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    Spookz - if there are no observers, but one single object (in a certain region of the universe we are considering), say a rock, there will still be a single rock. It doesn't need to be observed for there to be 1 of it.

    thefountainhed - though the theory is that any logical statement represents a truth value, there are serious problems with this view. One of the most basic is this:

    Hamlet's great-grandfather's eyes are blue.

    Is that statement true? False? No mention was made of Hamlet's great-grandfather by Shakespeare in any known writing, and he's dead and can't be asked. There is no fact of the matter where this is concerned, so the sentence can't be true or false.

    Another is that we still have great difficulty logically quantifying natural language...
     
  13. thefountainhed Fully Realized Valued Senior Member

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    --So it seems to make sense that numbers can exist without an intelligent observer/speaker, where names can't.

    I do not believe you can reach that conclusion. A number is an abstraction based on a physical; in the same way, a name is an abstraction based on a physical. 1, X, deux, are all names. What they define is not realizable unless one counts. And to count, one must distinguish and differentiate between specifics. As such, one needs naming to count. The two are not mutually exclusive.
     
  14. BigBlueHead Great Tealnoggin! Registered Senior Member

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    So, without an observer, there cannot be 1 object?

    Edit: if numbers are only names, then what are they labels for?
     
  15. thefountainhed Fully Realized Valued Senior Member

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    Without an observer, there is no conception of 1. The observer must distinguish and classify to associate 1. One of what? Earth, oranges, etc? There must be classifications.

    Numbers are names needed for a realization of the abstract called counting. Again, how does one count 10 of anything? One must first classify what is being counted.

    10 oranges 10 objects 10 x

    After the classification, one then distinguishes between the individual pieces and assigns numbers 1, 2, 3, etc to distinguish. The final result therefore becomes the count, plus the classifier(s). Numbers are a tool; they are a naming convention. This is what allows for different kinds of representation for numbers.
     
  16. thefountainhed Fully Realized Valued Senior Member

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    The theory is true only within a specific context. The logic within sphere A, may not necessarily apply to that of sphere B. However, within their specific spheres, they necessarily reach the true conclusions.

    That sentence cannot be considered logical unless one presupposes its truth. It then becomes truth, a priori. If one cannot know that it is true, then it is not logical.

    One can presuppose these truths:

    1. All members of Hamlet's family have blue eyes.
    2. A great grandfather is a family member.

    Therefore, the statement "Hamlet's great-grandfather's eyes are blue." becomes a truth-- within the context of the objectives it is based upon.

    What do you mean by natural langauge? The language of speech?
     
  17. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    Without an observer, there is no separation of the 1 from its environment. There may be one of something you classify as A. But without you the something is not A, or B, or anything. It is merely part of the tao so to speak.
     
  18. BigBlueHead Great Tealnoggin! Registered Senior Member

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    Then how many environments are there?
     
  19. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    well, you can hypothesize that there is an environment without the need for an observer, but you can only reach the conclusion that there is one environment if you observe (or imagine) it. otherwise there is only the "is" and nothing can be said of it.
     
  20. thefountainhed Fully Realized Valued Senior Member

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    Then how many environments are there?

    One, you ask that I count, and two, you ask that I classify. The subject must be present for both events to take place.
     
  21. BigBlueHead Great Tealnoggin! Registered Senior Member

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    Not so, unless you're claiming that the universe has no nature without an observer. Do you believe that only observation makes things real? I believe that there is an objective universe, whether we see it truly or not.
     
  22. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    Yes and no, sadly. From my assumption of the plausibility of cause and effect, I assume that the physical/naturalistic world existed in time prior to my observance of it. To me, this is a matter of faith. I don't have faith that this is indeed true, but that it is reasonable based on my comprehension of what it is to be. So while you can validly argue your point all day, I circumvent your point with an assumption.

    In other words, I think you are right that it is "realizable only within the viewpoint of the individual" but that this does not mean it is "non existant" without that observer. It simply means it hasn't been observed.

    Sorry but here I have to laugh. You're telling this to Mr. Annoying Subjectivity Man? Preaching to the choir brother.

    Have you forgotten that just because you can't see it - that don't mean it ain't there? My pa taught me that there. Ah-hyuck.
     
  23. thefountainhed Fully Realized Valued Senior Member

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    What is the "nature" of the universe unless the observer is able to conceptualize that nature?

    Is the universe an extremely cold place, cold place, warm place, etc. You get it? A nature is of the universe cannot be discussed with the subject. It is non existent within an experience.

    What is this objective universe? If you do not know it, then on what basis do you base your belief?
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2004

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