23 April, 2018

Reality & Truth

Art by Anselm Kiefer

The Lost Paths 


Philosophy & Science

On reading various current papers about the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory both in Sub Atomic Physics and in present-day Philosophy it is becoming absolutely clear that literally nobody actually knows what Science is really about, and also they do not understand the basis of Mathematics - they have no evident programme for the pursuit of Truth!

So, with such an empty toolbox it should not surprise anyone what a mess the current intellectual climate is in. Of course, all the participants in this chaos, do regularly find their ways home, put all the right keys in all the right holes, and manage to eat with efficiency. But as to the problems listed above they seem totally bereft of the means to address them.

For a collection of telling reasons, they find NO way to concretely address their difficulties, and it is evident that it is precisely what they have been told to ignore or reject in their Education that so completely disarms their Thinking from finding the necessary solutions.

So, I must start at the bottom, and attempt to give them some appropriate ground and here are a few premises and early steps:-

  • Absolute Truth is always unobtainable!

  • Homo sapiens were never evolved to be able to reveal it!

  • Man was evolved to survive and to reproduce, and, certainly very differently to how he does it now!

  • Man is, as you know, a Great Ape!

  • But, being a social animal, is hence more intelligent than any loner species. His intelligence is social

  • And, he did evolve into becoming a bipedal, ground-dweller!

  • And, this released his branch-grasping hands to do more interesting things than mere locomotion through the trees.

  • Man's initial, crude vocalisations gradually became Speech.

  • And, his adaptable hands soon did many wholly new things.

  • He began to find and use flints with a sharp edge.

  • And, gradually learned how to knap those flints into effective tools.

  • Most of what he began to communicate via his speech was obviously to do with the above primary functions and activities.

Only with the comparatively recent Neolithic Revolution did Man's life change radically - for he stayed in one place along with others, communicated and co-operated much more, and began to develop new means of life, such as farming the land and domesticating animals.

Now, I hope you will forgive this snail-slow initial progress, but it was to make clear just how very late Mankind's use of Language was in an at all sophisticated way. So much so, indeed, that many of his necessarily-invented words are not always helpful, and, indeed, were often as much a hindrance as a help. In other words, Man had to learn how to initially abstract from Reality, and thereafter refine, or even correct, that language as best he could: and has necessarily been doing so ever since.

Yet, the emergence of intellectual disciplines occurred very late in that long process (circa 500 BC and ever since), and when such did happen, it both simultaneously and vastly extended his verbal reach, while often and unavoidably also setting-into-stone extremely important conceptual mistakes, some of which have persisted to the present day.

Meanwhile, the earliest, pre-Greek tenet of all, embodied in "If it works, it is right!" - basic Pragmatism, is even today daily claimed as being more important than literally all the other generalist conclusions, whatever the debate.

Now, that important intellectual revolution, achieved by the ancient Greeks, was established, perhaps surprisingly, upon an unusual basis - Geometry - the Study of Shapes, in which the unavoidable simplification of things, was in addition, extended to the perfecting or idealisation of those shapes into "Study-able Forms" - because once in such Forms, they were found to be both analysable and easily juxtaposed to deliver a vastly extended range, about which all sorts of rules could be derived and confirmed by Proof-via-suggested-Theorems!

Let us be clear, this wasn't about naturally-occurring Shapes, but about idealised versions of them, though Mankind soon learned that if one kept to such Forms in his construction and organisation of real world things, he could much more easily plan and calculate things to his advantage. But, and this is very important, the range of things, that could be carried out in this New Discipline, were NOT the same as those applicable in the real world! The new Mathematics, as it ultimately became known, was a discipline of Ideality- the World of Pure Forms alone. and NOT of the real concrete world - Reality!

And, the reason for this was that everything in this New World was permanently FIXED - they didn't qualitatively change or develop at all - And, this greatly simplified what could be done with them!

Much later, this was embodied into the Principle of Plurality, in which all things were assumed to be eternal qualitatively.

Interestingly, at almost the same time in India, The Buddha, a major spiritual leader, was saying the exact opposite - All Things Change, and Everything Affects Everything Else, which was later embodied in the opposite Principle of Holism.

Nevertheless, the power endowed by idealisation in Mathematics was so useful that the same sort of discipline was then established in Reasoning, where it was called Formal Logic, and somewhat later it was also similarly applied to Descriptive Science. 

Absolutely all of them conformed to the Principle of Plurality - which isn't actually True in anything other than Mathematics!

Perhaps surprisingly, apart from a brief criticism by Zeno of Elea, soon after the Greek Revolution, no general criticism of Formal Logic was mounted for about 2,500 years, so we can only draw the conclusion that even mistaken principles and consequent intellectual methods were very unlikely to be changed, and particularly when the bottom-line of "If it works, it is right!"continued to validate new conceptions, discoveries and inventions.

Nevertheless Hegel, revisiting Zeno criticisms, finally realised several important mistakes!

First, he realised that Dichotomous Pairs of contradictory concepts, which according to the long-agreed Rules of Formal Reasoning, were both equally applicable at certain points in a line of argument - yet, in fact, only one of the choice ever actually worked, and which one it was could only be discovered by trying them both out! Formal Logic, as such, was, indeed, failing, and Hegel had to find out why.

He not only re-assessed Zeno's cases involving Movement and the concepts of Continuity and Descreteness, but, in addition, sought out as many such Dichotomous Pairs as he could find, and then always looked for what should have distinguished between them in the premises-assumed.

He found that in every case the premises used were always insufficient, and if a new kind of premise was included the usual impasse in Logic could be transcended!

The new premises turned out to always be concerning Qualitative Changes, which were prohibited by the Principle of Plurality. Hegel decided that he had to install Qualitative Changes in a wholly new Science of Logic, but, to do such was much easier said than done, because when things didn't change, then the Old Logic was still sufficient, so careful investigations would have to be undertaken to assess all situations.

Hegel attempted to generalise all situations into a New Form, composed, at the extremes, with each of the concepts from a Dichotomous Pair, with varying premises actually positioning the situation, at one extreme or the other for "those prior singly-defined solution cases", or somewhere in between, where a sufficient change in circumstances could precipitate a flip from one extreme to the other.

He called his scheme Dialectics, but as it was clear that in certain conditions a single option could be ensured by Pragmatism, they did that instead!

NOTE: A similar trick is used throughout Science, for, if the experimental circumstances were suitably restricted, and then rigorously controlled, they too could count upon particular outcomes, so they only used such "extracted Laws" in the identical circumstances, as those under which the Law had been extracted.

Indeed, this theorist labels the usual incarnations as Pluralist Logic and Pluralist Science, and is currently in the process of erecting a Holist Alternative to the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory.

Now, there is a great deal more to this story than has been addressed here, for the pluralist approach in Physics has other major flaws, the most important being the total trust in pluralist formal equations as against the holistic alternative of Causal Explanations: for apart from the control of circumstances necessary to get a relation both clearly displayed and extracted too, it was also the usual next step of fitting up a purely formal mathematical form to the extracted data by substituting sets of measured data into a given General Form, and thereby getting a set of simultaneous equations, in the so far Unknown Constants of that General Form.

Then, solving the simultaneous equations would give the values of those constants, which would then be inserted into the general form, to give the Equation of the Law - But, it, most certainly, isn't that at all! It is both a pluralist aberration AND also an idealistic version of the Law.

So, it will, therefore, have built-in inextricably-into-it the limited range of the ideal version, so that it blows up, in the real world, when that range is exceeded, along with whatever local features were also included due to its artificially-arranged-for pluralist context.

So, what do they cause to happen when fitted up with a causal Explanation based-solely upon such flawed formal results?

Those explanations will certainly fail!

BUT, is it the fault of making a Causal Explanation? NO! It is caused by the mangled formal representation used to determined that explanation.


So, where is Truth in all this mess!

The Absolute Truth often demanded cannot exist in the above pluralist and idealist manipulations. Indeed, what is actually achieved frequently minimises any Explanatory Truth to be found there, and replaces it with Pure Form alone!

And, the methods used don't ever deliver any Aspects or Parts of the Truth, which can, indeed, be the case with a directly attempted causal explanations. Yet these can, and indeed do, exist with direct attempts to explain, in the old ,now discarded ways of Causal Explanation.

What real scientists seek is more Objective Content in their explanations, than were previously available. So, it is an infinitely better, if erratic, route towards Truth, because, as distinct from mere formal descriptive methods, it alone asks the vital question, "Why?" And, only a constantly-repeated insistence upon that question, can overcome prior inadequacies and refine our conceptions.

The alternative route, which can only answer the question, "Why?" with the answer, "Obeys this equation!", not only explains absolutely nothing concretely, but is clearly also totally idealist.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I somehow stumbled upon your blog while searching for resources that discuss whether a priori knowledge is possible. This post in particular really struck me as a clear-headed and historically informed account of truth theory, and I would really like to know--as a 24-year-old with frustratingly fragmented knowledge of philosophy and science--what kind of resources you might recommend to me for studying the history of ideas, and for developing my own view on truth. I am becoming ever-more disenfranchised with the public intellectual scene, where intellectual one-upmanship seems to direct most discussions. I'm also somewhat overwhelmed by this information age. I tend to moderate my frustration by reflecting on socratic wisdom, although this never does stop me from wishing to know more about myself, what I think, and what else there might be to think (and to know about what I think, etc.)...

    Kind regards,