Category Archives: Physics and Metaphysics

Scientific Determinism and Cause and Effect, and Ethics: an in-depth conversation with a determinist

The following is a conversation I had last week with an apologist for scientific determinism in the comments section of a Sam Harris YouTube video entitled “Free Will“. The first comment is my intitial contribution to the thread where I am addressing not Philip, the person with whom I will eventually have the conversation, but simply the video itself. The “you” in this comment refers to Sam Harris, as well as anyone who would assert, specifically, the fallacy that there can be ethics despite an utter lack of any free will, and this due to the monolithic and infinite deterministic power of “cause and effect”.

This is a complicated issue…well…no…the issue qua the issue isn’t actually that complicated. That is, the complication and complexity which indubitably arises in these kinds of discussions isn’t so much a function of the relatively simple and arrantly true claim that “A man who has no agency (cannot act according to himself) cannot actually do anything, because he qua he doesn’t act; and so by definition he cannot act ethically, so why the fuck are we bringing ethics into a conversation about determinism?”, but rather due to the fact that an advocate for determinism and an advocate for individual agency are going to interpret reality according to entirely separate and mutually exclusive metaphysical premises. This means that the conversation, in order for it to not be a collosal waste of time will trend towards…that’s right, metaphysics.  And that’s where the shit gets real. It is there, and only there, that you can really make the relevant case for your position. Like…if you are going to say that man is Self (that is, an Agent who functions from a position of Self-awareness, which implies the actually reality of Self and thus an efficacious distinction between Self and Other (environment)), or that man is Determined (a direct function of Cause and Effect, and thus has no efficacious ontological autonomy), then you must necessarily answer the question “What IS man?”. And that’s why metaphysics is always a part of these discussions, and why they go the way they go when the two conversants are fully committed to their completely different ideas, and also to the conversation (a combination which is unfortunately a lot rarer than you might think). Getting to the metaphysics is involved, and requires a careful and voluminous and painstaking dissection of any number of tertiary and ancillary assumptions. Obviously a YouTube comments thread isn’t the most ideal setting for this dialectic, which is why you’ll undoubtedly notice that the conversation is a bit clumsy and opaque in places.  Nevertheless I think that this conversation has, overall, a lot of value. For example, two of the more salient topics I address is:

1. How determinism contradicts the plurality of existence (the distinction (independence)) of existant objects, which is an implicit prerequisite for cause and effect according to the determinist’s own definition of this mechanism; and:

2. The paradox of: the necessity of the absolute-ness of objects (objects being infinitely themselves…that is infinite existential singularity) + the necessity of absolute relationship between a given object and any number of other distinct objects (infinite existential plurality)…which, as I said, scientific determinism contradicts.

The non-italicized comments are mine, the italicized, his. Thanks so much for reading; I hope you enjoy it.

-Zach

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Laughable. You can deny the existence of will and choice, which, drawn out to its logical conclusion, means that the Agent who is said to Will and to Choose (the autonomous Self) is entirely irrelevant, which practically speaking is the equivalent of non-existence, and yet still argue for ethics! Absurd. How do you have morality [or ethics] absent moral [or ethical] agency? How do you have intelligence absent intellectual agency? Scientific determinism is proof that scientists shouldn’t be within a thousand miles of philosophy. Once Sam can provide a metaphysic which does not collapse under the weight of its own contradictions then maybe I’ll consider him more than just another articulate pseudo-intellectual turned polemic.

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I think you’re confusing ethics with moral accountability. Even without free will, it makes sense to want people to have a good experience in life. You can accept you aren’t in control of your thoughts and actions, but you still have a conscious experience. So we have an ethical obligation, regardless of the existence of free will, to increase well being wherever we can. That means potentially stopping someone from doing something that decreases well being. Whether or not they were in control is besides the point.

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Without moral accountability, ethics are irrelevant. Meaning, you cannot argue for rational ethics if no one is actually able to act ethically, because choice (and thus will; and thus consciousness) is precluded by your scientific determinism. The irony is that this destruction of ethics (by making “Determinism” the metaphysic) is exactly what the Protestant church teaches. Man is fallen, and thus pervasively depraved, and so cannot choose good or know Truth. Sam is just another mystic without the funny clothes, I’m afraid.

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you didn’t really reply to what I said. I said suffering and well being still matter if free will doesn’t exist. and there’s no reason to think consciousness wouldn’t exist without free will. People can act ethically and also accept that they are not in control. determinism does not argue that we are depraved and evil, it argues that we are what we are for reasons beyond our control. To some, recognizing this make morality clearer. You are able to forgive others and think in terms of how they can be helped. if there’s no cause behind their action then there’s no way to change it. Belief in determinism also keeps you cognizant of what is affecting you and the things you do. you may not be in control, but in a sense you gain perspective from recognizing this.

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I did reply. You are arguing that ethics is possible absent moral agency. That is, absent the ability to choose right from wrong. If choice between right and wrong is impossible, then what you know to be good or bad with respect to anything is irrelevant. Which makes ethics irrelevant. And that which is irrelevant cannot by definition be effectively applied. Further, I notice that you make the implicit argument that you can know what is true or false and good or bad without actually being able to choose to pursue or apply one over the other. This is a rational impossibility. To be able to define a thing and yet be unable to apply it to a paradigm (like your existence) referenced to You (You, the Observer, as distinct from what you observe), makes the definition irrelevant. And it is impossible to generate an irrelevant definition. You cannot create meaning which doesn’t actually mean anything.

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Ethics is a function of epistemology. It is the rational (True, and thus appropriate, or Good) application of what you know. If you are unable to apply what you know, because free will and thus choice is impossible, then ethics does not exist. And if there is no application of what you know, then what you know is irrelevant; and if what you know is irrelevant, then you cannot actually know yourself. Which makes “yourself” impossible to define. Which means you cannot define others.. And all of this means that “Sam Harris” doesn’t actually exist to make this argument. And neither do you or I. So who is typing then?

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maybe we have a different definition of ethics. to me, an ethical action or event is one that results in someone feeling good rather than suffering. it’s true that if your definition of ethics requires moral agency, then yes, ethics don’t exist within determinism. all I am saying is that people have experiences regardless of control and it makes sense to want those experiences to be good even if you can’t truly control them. the thing is, we can apply our knowledge of right and wrong without control over the factors that led to the knowledge. it doesn’t make sense to make a decision of right or wrong that is not based on factors you don’t control. what would that even look like? which brings up the other point of the self. it’s true, under determinism the self is just an amalgamation of genes and experience. this solidifies the definition of the self more than a belief that there is some un-quantifiable 3rd factor. or you could just look at the self as the result of a configuration of matter that happens to result in consciousness, which also makes sense. you and I and Sam Harris exist as vessels for experience with predispositions. so yes, I’d say you are typing, but you are your genes and environment.

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Okay…well, leaving aside ethics for now, wrt your last comment I would ask how it is possible under the scientific determinism argument to get consciousness from unconsciousness? That is, determinism, I submit by definition, is the absolute antithesis of consciousness. It renders it completely (infinitely) irrelevant–lacking any degree of efficacy whatsoever, which means that if determinism is true, consciousness could not possibly exist. The empirical and rational proof of consciousness is that which gives it efficacy–the ability to apply the awareness of Self to a given existential context (the Self in Its Environment). If choice is impossible, then awareness is meaningless, because man cannot apply what he knows, including the knowledge of him Self. Which brings us back to the lack of any rational efficacy to consciousness within the determinist model. And we can assert that consciousness is an illusion, but this merely begs the question “An illusion of what?”. How can there be an illusion of that which determinism makes impossible by making it utterly antithetical to determinism?

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I’m not sure I see why consciousness has to be connected to free will. we don’t know how consciousness arose, but it seems rational to assume it comes from the brain. it may be my lack of philosophical training, but I’m not sure what you mean by the proof of consciousness being the ability to apply the self to an existential context. the only evidence I see is ones own experience. I know I am conscious, but I don’t know you are conscious. there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of free will. the two seem mutually exclusive. it’s not that choice is impossible, it’s just that all the factors that go into a decision can be, in theory, accounted for, given enough data. I don’t really see consciousness as an illusion because of what you said: an illusion of what? it’s a space for us to process information, but we know it’s not the only way we process info. the info we process, both conscious and unconscious, gives rise to our feelings, emotions, personality, views, and everything that we imagine makes up the self. I would say the self is an illusion if you believe we are just vessels for experience. but, consciousness itself is the tool we use to experience the world. my answer to your question is that I don’t think consciousness, free will, or even ethics really depend on each other. I like this conversation. if you can, I’d like to hear how you reach the idea that consciousness is antithetical to free will.

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Well, I think studying philosophy would be something you might do…not to sound pejorative or patronizing, of course. I find that the lack of rational consistency which is, again with respect, profound amongst scientists has precisely to do with their ignorance with respect to philosophy. Scientists are great at mathematically categorizing what they observe, but have no real plumb line for actually defining it in an ontological sense, which is absolutely necessary before one can make a philosophical assertion like “free will is an illusion”. Indeed, in order for science to be in any way meangingful, one must assume an ontological distinction between the observer and what he observes. Scientists like Harris obliterate this distinction by making the observer a DIRECT function of what he observes, which wrecks the dichotomy that gives science any practical application or indeed any meaning by wrecking the ability of the observer to actually apply any of the knowledge he gathers about his environment through observation because choice, which is rooted in the knowledge of what is true or false, becomes impossible. And this because the observer–the moral and intellectual agent whose existence provides the rationally necessary context for knowledge gained through observation–is concluded to not actually exist. Consciousness I submit is merely the ability of the Self–the individual Observer, of you will–to conceptualize what he observes and the apply it to his life: the manifestation of the ability of oneto make a distinction between himself and his environment. It’s not a “state”. It’s merely the awareness of self, which is merely the ability to conceptualize self, which implies the conceptualization of that which is not self. Once this dichotomy is realized, free will I think is self evident.

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I must be missing it, but I don’t see how a lack of agency leads to nonexistence. You can put info into a calculator and it gives you an answer. That does not make it free. Similarly, we can take in info and then apply the knowledge we gained from it. The process is much more complicated for us, but at no point do I see the opportunity to insert free will. I don’t see how Harris wrecks the distinction between observer and what he observes or, if he does, how that makes choice impossible. Unless by “choice” you mean free choice. We make choices all the time with the inputs I’ve already mentioned. Your talk of an ontological argument seems to muddy the waters. The logic seems simple to me: If the material brain is all that is responsible for consciousness, then consciousness arises out of states of matter. If we live in a universe that follows cause and effect, then all states of matter arise out of previous states of matter. I’m sure it can be put more eloquently, but that’s how I think of it. Your last paragraph makes sense to me until the end. I don’t see how the conceptualization of self and that which isn’t the self leads to free will. I previously talked about the self being an illusion in that it is merely how genetics and experience manifest in consciousness. So in some sense, I think the dichotomy is false. The self is unavoidably connected to everything else because it is a product of everything else. I see what you mean about destroying the distinction now. It seems unavoidable. I guess I’d like to know if you think the logical argument I gave above makes sense. We can argue about the truth of the “ifs” if you’d like, but it’d be a weird and probably fruitless argument.

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I’m loquacious…that sometimes makes my arguments less accessible than I’d like them to be. My apologies. What I am trying to convey is that when you destroy the distinction between observer and observed, you cannot speak of Self, which means you QUA you cannot possibly make the arguments you (or Harris) are making. The very fact that you claim a truth is the proof that you concede that you can know the difference between truth and falsehood and can act in service to this knowledge. * If all things are determined, then there is no difference between this idea or that. Sam Harris is no more correct in his asssertions with respect to will than one who asserts the exact opposite. Everything by his own definition is merely the necessary and unavoidable effect of the Great All Determining Cause. So Harris makes an argument whilst at the same rendering his argument moot. Your agreement or disagreement is as determined as his assertion. Of what value then is consciousness? Of what value is knowledge? Of what value is science? None at all. And this further undermines his argument. As far as a “cause and effect” universe–I really don’t understand what that means. In order for “cause and effect” to have any practical value, there must be a difference between those things which are cause and effected, I would think.. Are you saying that “cause and effect” is a force which actually causes the things (material objects) upon which it acts? And if so, how do you quantify or even qualify cause and effect since nothing actually exists to be caused or effected because every object is a DIRECT and absolute function of “cause and effect”. Or are you saying that cause and effect is a force which is distinct from the things upon which it acts? In which case those things, ontologically speaking, are their own root “causes” if you will. I myself submit that cause and effect is simply one of many ways man conceptualizes the relative movement of objects he observes. Cause and effect is not ACTUALLY causal in the ontological sense. Meaning that cause and effect can describe relative movement but it cannot explain how a thing exists.

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this is getting into territory that departs from practicality. how is any science able to be done without breaking the dichotomy? I think youre judging the value of an assertion based on whether or not it was made freely rather than whether or not it reflects a truth about reality. and if we’re going to regress into claiming to not know anything about reality, then we can’t really get anywhere. my agreement or disagreement still matters without freedom of choice because it is still either right or wrong and it has consequences in the world. your deconstruction of cause and effect has left me perplexed and no closer to understanding you. I’m using cause and effect in the simple way people use it normally. as in, one thing causes another thing. a thing cannot come from no cause. I don’t know about you, I’ve experienced enough to believe all things are caused. what would it look like to see something that wasn’t caused? I don’t get your definition of existence. does something have to be separate from cause and effect to prove cause and effect? that simply makes no sense, and also doesn’t seem like a rational argument against it. if cause and effect can’t explain how something exists, then I don’t know what can. science makes basic assumptions about reality to function, but anyone who would honestly dispute those assumptions would not be able to function in reality themselves. philosophy and pure logic has its uses, but it seems one can use word games to get somewhere that doesn’t truly make any sense. we could blame this on my ignorance, but I have confidence that I would understand what you are saying if it truly made sense. I can tell you are very intelligent, but your ideas just aren’t clicking with me

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Quick reply: If everything is a direct function of something else, how can anything actually exist? If cause and effect is monolithic and infinite, how are objects actually independent of each other?

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I just do not see why interconnectedness makes things non-existent. Object aren’t really independent of each other? there’s no situation where an object isn’t being affected by another objects, even if it’s just gravity. can you give me one example of a thing that is not a direct function of something else?

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But it’s not interconnected-ness you are asserting. It’s a lack of any distinction whatsoever. You are making one thing an absolute function of another. “Absolute” means that there is no actual difference between the cause and the effect. This is not interconnectedness. This is the assertion that no “thing” (an object qua itself) actually exists. It makes your empirical perception of distinct objects actually impossible. To answer your question, I guess I would ask: does the apple fall from the tree because of gravity first, or because it is able, as a function of its own independent existence, to be “caused upon” by gravity? Unless the apple IS actually the apple, first, then it cannot be caused upon by gravity…there can be no real relationship.. Gravity then requires a true dichotomy. A true distinction. An apple qua an apple. Determinism makes this impossible.

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yes but you wouldn’t attribute free will to the apple simply because it exists right? gravity may cause it’s movement, but it’s existence is not of its own doing. it came from an apple tree, which came from a seed, and on back the causes go. how can cause and effect be separate when each effect then becomes a cause? what I am saying is that an object can’t exist without a cause. an effect cannot be removed from its cause so the apple can’t just ‘exist’ independently. gravity’s effect on the apple requires the apple to exist, but the apples existence is predicated on prior cause as well.

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Naturally I wasn’t asserting that the apple had free willl. I was asserting that before an apple can fall, it must BE an apple. It needs to possess a distinct identity before it can be said to be caused upon (effected), and before it can be said to cause something else. The point of my initial comment on this video was to point out the inherent rational contradiction which undermines the whole determinist argument. Since “cause and effect”, or the “laws which govern nature” are absolute and monolithic, there can be no such thing as distinct objects, because no object is “itself”–it is entirely a direct and absolute function of something else. There are no such thing as “things” which cause and effect acts upon, or cause and effect other things, because everything is merely an extension of cause and effect. Nothing has any actual identity. The apple is an absolute function of what caused it, which means the apple does not actually exist as such, which means it couldn’t have been caused, which means that that which caused it isn’t actually a cause, because it produced no effect, since the apple doesn’t actually exist. This is why YOU, if indeed you are a direct and utter extension of something else, don’t actually exist. Which means you can’t have a sense or awareness of “you” because you qua you is impossible. Now, if you’d like me to address how think the contradiction can be resolved with a better explanation of how to interpret reality, I can do that. But the fact that I’ve offered no resolution to your determinist fallacy doesn’t mean it’s not a fallacy. With respect, the determinist model colllapses under the weight of its own massive contradiction. You need a new model. Saying “this is the only model science supports” doesn’t make the model rational or true. It merely means that science as of now has failed to provide a rational interpretation and model of reality. So, re-evaluate your premises and start again.

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I think you’re reading too much into the importance of objects being identifiable. a determinist could describe reality as the process of matter continuously shifting into different forms. the distinction of when an object becomes what it is and stops being what it is is not clear. in this way, cause and effect is more like a continuous process rather than a series of stages because whatever stages you draw are arbitrary. however, it makes no sense to conclude that because stages of matter are ill defined, objects themselves don’t exist. hurricane Matthew is on the way. there is what Matthew is right now, but there is also the process of Matthew’s development. these two concepts cannot be separated, yet we can’t deny the existence of Matthew. I simply do not see this fallacy of determinism. i would like to hear another way to interpret reality that allows things to exist without a cause, but I understand if you are getting tired of this conversation.

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I would say that determinism actually makes cause and effect impossible because there are no independent “things” possible. Everything is merely an extension of determinism. There is no First Cause. Like…the first cause MUST have happened; it could not have NOT happened. In other words, it was determined. It had a cause; and that cause had a cause, and so on and so forth. Cause and effect is subordinated to the infinity of Determinism. Determinism is absolute and monolithic. It doesn’t actually allow for any distinct objects to cause or to be caused upon. Cause and effect is only rational when it becomes merely a cognitive means by which man organizes the relative movement of what he observes. But here’s the bigger issue: I think you are hinting at an implicit root paradox, and I think you are on to something. This is how I define the paradox to which I think you are alluding: object X must be defined according to its observable relationship with object Y; it cannot exist in a vacuum of itself, because in a vacuum of itself it is infinite, and what is infinite cannot be valued and thus cannot be defined. And I am saying that there can be no relationship between objects X and Y unless each object is ACTUALLY itself-with a distinct and separate ontological essence whereby it can have a unique identity and thus it can be said that object X IS ACTUALLY object X, and thus can have a relationship (like “cause and effect”) with object Y. And that is the big question. We need a metaphysic (an irreducible…an axiom of reality; that explains how what is, IS) that resolves this paradox. And it’s not been done yet. Well…I think I’ve done it 🙂 But I don’t think anyone else has. Anyway, I think you’ve definitely identified the paradox. It’s needs to be resolved, but determinism can’t do it.

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I’m still hesitant to accept that cause and effect requires independently defined causes and effects. but I see what you are saying. first cause is obviously a problem, but we can’t expect to know everything, or even that we are capable of understanding first cause, or that the question even makes sense because of the connection of time and space. but you think you have discovered an alternative to the apparent paradox? I’d love to hear it. unless it’s a secret.

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Well, at this point I think I will leave you with the paradox. The explication of the metaphysics, while not complex or hard to understand, necessarily, will likely lead to an even longer and more tedious conversation than this one. And I’m just not up for that right now.:-) I appreciate your time, and this was fun. Thanks for sharing you ideas with me; I always learn just a little bit more by these kinds of engagements, and I discover more of my own weaknesses, which is exceedingly beneficial in refining my ideas and, importantly, how I deliver them. Take care, man. And thanks again.

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Thank you too. I can’t say ive changed my mind but I feel that I need to read more philosophy. It’s a very difficult question. Take care.

Sam Harris: Science’s Satanic High Priest

To claim that will and choice are illusions is to claim that thought itself is an illusion. To claim that thought is an illusion is to claim that the Agent who necessarily must exist in order to think and to will and choose is likewise an illusion. This equation is inexorable, and quite frankly, obvious to anyone not a rank pseudo-intellectual determinist ideologue.

And once the intellectual Agent (the Self) is claimed illusory then morality must likewise be illusory…for the intellectual Agent is also the moral Agent.

And therefore, make no mistake and do not be fooled. Any scientific determinist like Sam Harris who argues that will and choice are an illusion is wrecking not only an aspect of man’s mind, but all thought itself, which thus denies the truth and validity of the Self…the individual human being. And once the Self is declared merely a figment of infinite universal cause and effect then morality is obliterated. And what follows is a torrent of bloodshed.

In my next article, I will make my case for what I consider the root flaw of scientific determinism: the subordination of the Observer to that which is observed. In other words, the absence of any rational metaphysic.

 

 

 

The Paradox of Existential Plurality

The following is a true paradox, not a contradiction in terms presented as a paradox because some people are too lazy to fully and properly think it through. (And by “some people” I mean many scientists, as well as most (other) religious people, especially and including Christians.) 

A thing which has no parts cannot exist; and therefore all things must contain an infinite number of parts.

To Claim That Man is Caused is a Contradiction, and Thus Impossible

Before you can claim to be caused by some root determining force, like God or Natural/Physical Law, you must be able to define “you” as distinct from that force; otherwise “you” is merely an absolute (categorical) extension of the force which means that there is in fact no “you” at all but merely the determining force. And this makes it impossible to ask the questions “what caused me?” and “what am I?” (which in fact summarize the underlying rationale for claiming you were caused) because there is no frame of reference for “me” at all.

Of course once you define “you” as distinct from the root determining force then you have rendered the claim that you were caused by this force a ridiculous contradiction. The very assertion, in other words, that “X caused me” is rationally impossible.

Cause, Effect, and Movement Exist Only by the Cognition of the Observer

The human ability to conceptualize from the frame of reference of the Self is not simply an evolutionary extension of the mathematically determined machinations of an “objective reality outside” of one’s consciousness/cognition, but is integral to objective reality itself, at the most fundamental level. I submit that absent man’s ability to conceptualize the movement of what he observes (that is, man as the Observer) and to establish Self as the reference–as the constant–it is impossible that there is any movement at all, and therefore can be no evolutionary/mathematical “cause and effect” interaction of objects in the material universe.

To claim that there is any such thing as as object movement, or cause and effect interaction, once the observer is removed from the equation is impossible. Because once he who provides the reference by which any such cause and effect interaction and/or object movement has any meaning (including relevancy,  purpose, direction, velocity, distance, etc.) there is no rational argument for asserting or believing that it is happening at all in some “objective reality” that can somehow excludes the very thing that gives that reality any value.

In other words, once movement is no longer observed (and by “observed”, again, I mean not only perception, but the cognitive power of conceptualization), movement has no specific context; no reference by which it can be gauged as “movement” qua movement. This means that without a reference, all movement–and therefore all cause and effect interactions and their “mathematical” deterministic mechanisms–is relative not to a specific but to an absolute degree. And absolute relativity of movement–that is, relative interaction with no set reference provided by the conceptualizing observer–means that all movement of all objects “mathematically” sums to zero. Meaning that absolute relativity, by nature, instantaneously nullifies any movement by any object at any given moment. And if all movement in all moments sums to zero because of un-referenced relativity, then there is, in fact, no movement at all; because movement with zero value is the absence of movement, by definition.

For a simple example, let’s take object A and object B in co-existing in a vacuum (where all must exist if we concede a plurality of existence–that things which exist are utterly distinct from one another). Because of the relative nature of movement, existence in a vacuum demands that any movement by A is automatically and instantaneously transferred to B, and vice versa. There is no way in this vacuum, absent an observer, to claim that only A moves, and not B. In other words, because their existence is again necessarily relative, any movement of A is also the movement of B. And by this I mean that B’s movement is not a reciprocal movement; it’s not a corollary movement; it is the same movement; the movement of A is the movement of B. There is one, un-shared movement. B moves equally as A moves as though B were in fact acting categorically as A.

How can this be?

A scenario where two objects with a single movement by both but no reference to measure which object has moved contradicts the plurality of existence between A and B. There can be no interaction between such objects; no distinction. Any action of one is the action of the other…and because existence is an action, even rank co-existence is impossible.

In a vacuum with no observer, object A moving relative to B while B is not moving, demands the corollary that B is moving relative to A while A is not moving; which means it is axiomatic that objects A and B in the instance of any movement must have both moved and also must have both not moved at the same time. And what this means is that movement in such an absolute relative relationship is a context where the movement of objects and the absence of movement by objects are one and the same.

Which is impossible. The integration of mutually mutually exclusive properties (e.g. movement and non-movement) nullifies them both, rendering to them an existential, moral, and rational value of zero; of NOT; of VOID. That is, of a purely abstract, imagined, placeholder status.

The relative context then, and again, necessitates at a fundamental, axiomatic level the conscious perspective of the observer, who is able to conceptualize relative distinctions between objects using himSELF as the reference.

Now, Objectivists and other “empirical” philosophers will almost certainly accuse me of promulgating a Primacy of Consciousness metaphysic, but this is in large part because they suppose that one can separately categorize evidence and reason, which is not actually possible. There can be no objective, empirical evidence which is also a conceptual contradiction. Of course the light wave/particle paradox is often trotted out as a rebuttal to this assertion, but this is easily rebuffed using reason (which I won’t explain here).

I wish to be clear that I am not proposing a purely subjective, “ethereal” metaphysic…and frankly, this is an amateurish criticism. On the contrary, because rational consistency is necessary to the apprehension and definition of Truth, as the above discussion on relativity and movement indicates, it is impossible that one can claim any efficacious philosophical (metaphysics through aesthetics) positions based purely upon subjective standards. This is because subjectivism necessarily equals contradiction. And contradiction is NOT an idea, it is the absence of one.

Further, to argue that the individual conscious observer’s self-evidentiary and necessary inclusion in anything objectively true (self/evident because truth is only known by conscious individuals) is somehow a bias and a liability to reality is the very definition of absurdity. But further discussion of this is better suited to a separate article…the topic is too complex and involved to serve as a side note for this one.

The point of this article is that man’s consciousness–his conceptualizing ability–is much more than a perfunctory extension of some ethereal, evolutionary, determinative force in the “objective” universe–a force which must necessarily contradict itself by spawning such a consciousness in the first place. Rather, it is a fundamental component of rational consistency, and thus is indespensible in any definition or discussion of objective reality. Human cognition; consciousness; conceptualization; awareness of Self is inexorably tied to the metaphysical axiom–the irreducible Truth from which ALL things spring.

Why Authority (Violence as the Primary Means of Achieving Objectives) is a Direct Function of Determinism

The primary ethic and politic of determinism is authoritarianism. That is, once individual Will becomes merely an inexorable effect of a Singularity of Cause which decides all purpose, be it God, or Natural Law/Scientific Empiricism, Existence (what “is” as its own end, where “Existence” must necessarily subordinate all other definitions of all objects, rendering their distinctions moot), or Social/Cultural Construction, or any other garden variety ideal like the Common Good, the Underprivileged, etcetera etcetera, then man cannot by definition act purposefully, on his own, to any relevant, rational, or moral objective, regardless of how this objective may be defined. Thus, all knowledge and purpose can only be ascribed to some kind of transcendent (and rationally impossible) revelation according to those who proclaim themselves the ecclesiastical (ruling according to “spiritual” mandate) recipients of the “Wisdom” or “Truth” of the Great Cause (the Singularity of Cause).  Examples of this can be found in religious leaders who claim divine rulership according to “God’s Calling”, the Representatives of States who claim to act on behalf of the “People” or the “Common Good”, or Intellectual elites who claim natural insight or acumen with respect to the “language of the Universe”, where the universe speaks in the arcane vernacular of mathematics, statistical analysis, genetic and evolutionary processes, various research methodologies, etcetera, etcetera. In all of these cases, Truth, and thus necessarily all that Is, is a function of an abstract ideal which causes absolutely, and therefore categorically determines all that man does, and thus, by definition, all that man thinks. Man then can only be compelled and controlled by force (violence), since he possesses no real capacity for self-awareness and therefore no capacity for self-control. He cannot think, therefore he cannot choose. And therefore he must be ruled–and absolutely so, by those who DO think, and DO know: those, again, who are the self-proclaimed extensions of the Determining (Singularity of) Cause. In other words, they rule you, because they are, as far as you are concerned,  indistinguishable from that which determines you.

Why a Plurality of Existence is Impossible

“Existence exists”, not distinct existences, so the metaphysical premise goes.

So, let’s be clear about what this means. It’s not the tree which is the metaphysical primary, okay, but the existence of the tree. And since existence is the primary, and all things “objectively” exist, existence becomes a de facto singularity, not a plurality, since there is and can be no relevant difference between the existence of objects. In other words, if all things exist, and existence is the metaphysical  primary, then all things must exist equally. It cannot be said that on the primary metaphysical level one thing–one object–exists more or less than another.  Meaning that when it comes to existence, there are no relevant distinctions between the existence of objects…between that which equally–in equal measure–applies to all objects, regardless of what the objects are; regardless of the nature of the objects. And an irrelevant distinction is in fact no distinction at all. For nature does not trump the metaphysical primary in terms of describing the absolute, infinite, unchanging essence of a thing. Nature thus becomes moot if in fact the metaphysical primary is one of absolute and infinite equality.

Additionally, it is not the nature of objects which drives the supreme relevancy of existence, as though it functions according to its own separate paradigm. For in that case the metaphysical primary would be absolutely bound to “nature”, making it a direct function of existence. But in that case, how can there be distinctions of nature? If nature is in essence the metaphysical primary, and thus must apply in full and equal measure–absolute and infinite–to all objects, then how can any relevant distinctions be defined by nature?

They cannot.

So then, for nature to apply as a means to provide relevant distinctions between objects it really cannot have anything directly to do with the metaphysical primary.  It must apply particularly to specific objects, in varying degrees, and not equal amongst objects. But this becomes impossible and irrelevant to that which does apply absolutely equally to all objects–that is, the metaphysical primary, because that which IS all things, the primary, nullifies that which is in opposition to it–in this case, a “plurality of existence according to nature”–which attempts to subordinate existence, the metaphysical primary, to nature, in order to rationalize a plurality of existence. This is obviously contradictory, and thus illogical and impossible.

Nature, then, cannot be the one thing which all things equally share, but also by which objects can be defined distinctly, because this is a contradiction in terms. In short, nature cannot be rationally incorporated into the metaphysical primary of existence, which again must be singular, because it–that is nature–is considered a property unique and of various value or degree to objects. Since existence, the primary, must rationally apply to all objects equally, then by definition there can be no unique and ultimately distinctive properties amongst those objects.

In every case then, I submit, there can be no plurality of existence for the simple fact that there must be some singular and absolute commonality which binds all objects by forming the very essence from which they all are a direct function, and which resolves the existential mutual exclusivity of objects which are said to be “plurality” at the fundamental, primary metaphysical level really must mean mean is infinitely distinct…or infinite distinction. Which is of course impossible. For even what is “plural” in existence must have a common context whereby the plurality is not infinite distinction between objects–which again is really the metaphysic of the mutual exclusivity of objects–in order that actual efficacious interaction between and amongst objects can occur. And that context is the metaphysical primary. And it is not plural, but utterly and infinitely inclusive and singular.

There is No Reason For a Flat Earth Conspiracy Because There is No Reason to Lie: Why what is observed is irrelevant; it is what is philosophically assumed about what is observed that matters

This essay is primarily a response to commenter Wednesday’s World, who contributed a thought in the comments section of my previous post.  It can be seen here. I recommend checking it out prior to reading my relatively short response (well, too long for a reply in the comments section, but much shorter than my usual voluble yarns).

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Hi Wednesday’s World. Thanks for visiting my page and for commenting.

As one who avers that all movement between bodies is relative, how such movement is observed by the senses may not in fact describe the existent properties of said bodies which are moving.  In other words, how we observe things to move relative to us may not necessarily be a true representation of how those things actually exist in space; or rather, in a vacuum of themselves.

Take the duality of light paradox. Science says that light is both a particle and a wave. But this is only because human beings observe it as one or the other depending on the environmental context.  But I do not accept the premise that light can be in essence both what it is and what it is NOT simultaneously simply because we observe it that way.  And the reason I do not accept the premise is because it violates THE fundamental law of rational non-contradiction.  And to violate reason by asserting and inserting a full-on contradiction destroys the very foundation of existence; which precludes man from ever apprehending truth.  And this is a recipe for disaster, and is the clarion call for every despot and bloodthirsty tyrant in world history, bar none.

The contradiction implicit within the wave/particle duality of light paradox is the idea that something is both what it is and what it is not–that is, the idea that an object is “both” and “and”, where something, for example, is both A and B while simultaneously being distinctly A and not B, and vice versa.  But what is proclaimed to be “both” and “and” is in reality nothing more than “is” and “is not”.  This is, by definition, impossible.  So I deny the paradox regardless of how we observe light because the philosophical conclusion which such a paradox renders is entirely untenable, and thus must ultimately destroy the very reality of existence.  If there can be “truth” within the idea that something can be both an “is”  and an “is not”, then truth is itself, fundamentally, a contradiction, and therefore cannot possibly be true.  Because to say that something both “is” and “is not” demands the corollary that that same thing is both simultaneously “true” and “false”.  In which case Truth (and Lie) cease to have any meaning whatsoever.  If truth is not necessarily true, then it is impossible for man to know anything at all.  Which renders all discussions moot, and “reality” and “morality” become nothing more than a matter of who has the biggest gun (or bomb, or sword, or stake, or dunking chair) and the willingness to use it.

You want conspiracy?  Try looking at the existential assumptions which drive the very meaning and relevancy and purpose of what is observed, and not simply at what thing is observed.  In fact, to ask people to spend so much time examining and questioning the physical nature of what is observed, as though ideas are a function of the sensory data and not of the individual ability to exist as a categorical and absolute SELF…well, that to me is the real conspiracy here with respect to the flat-earth issue.

Also, to your point about telescopes and horizons, and the heavenly revolutions of the sun and the moon, well…just because I observe from terra firma that the sun revolves around the Earth or that the horizon is flat or that a boat does not “dip” below a curvature on the horizon does not mean that I accept the Earth is flat.  This again is a function of my premise that what is observed does not necessarily represent the existent nature–the Truth–of the objects I am observing relative to me.

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To understand the true nature of ourselves and other objects which exist, we must examine our philosophical premises and develop irreducible metaphysical and epistemological axioms which are completely consistent, non-redundant, and non-contextual. It is only via this that can we claim to possess Truth.

Truth is not a function of science, as I said in my last post.  And thus I find it of little practical use to try to prove empirical scientific data false, simply because at the end of the day, science–with respect to empirical evidence–is going to destroy all contrary arguments, because A. they have MUCH better equipment than you or I do, and are MUCH better at math than everyone else (because they have to be), and mathematics is the single greatest–and, ultimately, the only relevant–means by which all empirically observed data can be classified as actual in the empirical sense and thus evident in the empirical sense; and B. they have no reason to lie or to cover up anything they discover, such as a flat earth, because, again, truth is not a function of empirical data but a function of the philosophical premises by which any of that data has any relevancy or meaning to humanity–or, more specifically, to the existence and the essence of the individual human being. In other words, scientists, or rather, scientific empiricists (because not all scientists are necessarily scientific, mathematical, and empirical determinists) only have to convince people that THEIR existential interpretive premises are the correct ones (e.g. causal determinism, consciousness as illusion, the reality and deterministic force of Space and Time, the material transcendence and universal “governance” of physical laws, the transcendent, autonomous and self-contained existence (and thus causal power) of Abstraction, such as mathematical proofs). After that, they can be perfectly truthful about what they observe as the physical properties of the universe and the objects in it. Because once you control the interpretive philosophical premises–once you are in charge of the axioms…the irreducibles–everything becomes a direct function of those premises. There is nothing then to be gained by lying about empirical data because all such data MUST inevitably and inexorably conform to the premises.

We need to understand that reality is a function of what we believe…or rather, our ability to conceptualize, and from this to formulate ideas, not our ability to observe.  Because of this, there is simply no reason to lie about the shape of the earth. There is no reason for a conspiracy. Control is a function of who gets to define reality according to the metaphysical and epistemological assumptions we hold about the nature of existence; and by this I mean the nature of HUMAN existence, and by this I mean the nature of individual human existence, because, really, that is the only existence which matters; the only essence which matters.  What reality looks like is besides the point. There is no reason to lie about the empirical data–the observed data–because what is observed must simply be the necessary and inviolable result of the premises, period.  The premise will and MUST define what is observed, regardless of HOW it is observed. Because what is observed is a direct function of the premises we hold about the nature of reality…of existence, of essence.  And this is because reality is not a function of empirical observation, but of philosophy; of ideas.  Philosophy…the ability of man to know himself and to know what he is not is the root of Truth.  Philosophy defines material reality as a function of man’s metaphysical essence.  And all that man observes MUST comport and WILL comport to the irreducible philosophical axioms, be they rational or irrational.  It is our job to make sure they are rational.  Then, when we do, we can know that what is observed can be described rationally, and reality can be established because Truth will have been bestowed upon what is seen.  But the form of what is seen is not the issue.  In itself, the form of the Earth is irrelevant.  Thus, there is no reason to lie about it.  There is no reason for a conspiracy.

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You observe something. You reproduce what is observed in various contexts in order to establish that its pattern is one of uniform consistency. Then you create an arcane (but practical and imminently utilitarian) mathematical proof for the observed event, substituting particulars (e.g. the apple, the tree, the ground) with abstract universals (e.g. x, y, and z). And then, suddenly, seemingly without regard to the destruction, war, torture, abuse, psychological obliteration, and bloodshed you are initiating you proclaim the mathematical proof not a conceptual abstraction devised by man to organize his environment to his own promotion and pleasure but as the “language” of an actual autonomous cosmic governing AGENT, or FORCE, which determines by its power every action (with respect to the movement in question…that is, the movement to which the mathematical proof relates) of every object in the universe.

Now, to be fair, this is most likely due to the sheer and staggeringly immense power of mathematics to enable man to manipulate his environment to his own will and whim and to codify it conceptually thus making it universally accessible to all men, which grants the illusion I think of  some kind of cosmic, causal universality.  And this rather than a form of intentional malevolence whereupon a certain group of impish nerds in lab coats and comb-overs wish to subject and subdue and subordinate the vast “unenlightened” masses to their whims and pleasures.  Alas, we have the institutional Church of ALL religions for that.  Satan is always in the place everyone has been convinced he is not, I suppose.

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Finally–and this is not nearly as important as the aforementioned points–I still insist that the most glaring “scientific” flaw in the flat-earth theory is the fact that gravity is uniform upon the world. That is, no matter where you stand, you weigh the same. This could not be possible if the earth were flat. A disc shaped earth, or a one dimensional earth, would demand an entirely different gravitational rubric. This would affect everything in the universe–from the revolution of the sun and the moon to the position of the stars in the sky to how you looked to what you could do to how you identified yourself as “human”, if there could even be such a thing (there couldn’t, I guess is my point).  In other words, if it weren’t for a round earth you could not take issue with the scientific data, or claim your own as a counter-proof, in order to deny a round earth because the data wouldn’t exist in its present condition in the first place.

Flat Earth Conspiracy: I understand the skepticism, but don’t let this distract you from the real fight

Yeah…this flat earth conspiracy thing just isn’t real, man. There are real conspiracies, but this isn’t one of them.

There are several obvious problems with this theory; the biggest problem, however, is: the uniformity of gravity precludes such an earth; gravity would be categorically and self-evidently different if the earth was flat, or disc shaped.

The real question I suspect leads one to consider this flat-earth idea has in actuality nothing to do with a geocentric or heliocentric astronomical construct, but how we actually define what is “center” in a universe which cannot have any location or any age in and of itself because time and space were created AFTER the Big Bang.

You see, if we want to make the earth the center of the universe, we must first realize that “space”, or “location” is not the true plumb line. The real plumb line is not a scientific one, but has to do with how we define man’s metaphysic. If man is absolutely HIMSELF (which he is), then everything revolves around the individual, since the context of YOU, or SELF, is the only existential constant. In fact is the only non-abstract, non-theoretical constant, period.

Thus, to make the planet of Man the center of the universe is a more rational way to view existence philosophically, which, again is where the real fight for freedom happens.

We must all remember that science has nothing to do with Truth; it is an organizational abstraction. Period. Full stop. There can be no scientific “cause” of anything, because before you can have a cause, you must have some THING to initiate causality. This means that the initial cause will itself not be subject to the laws of physics; which makes them fundamentally irrelevant with respect to explaining the nature of existence–and our inability to defend the nature of existence from scientific determinism, the prevailing philosophy today, is precisely why the hordes of authoritarian collectivism march to and fro upon the world almost entirely unopposed .

Anyway…

Since human existence predates science and the concepts it employs, being a function OF man, it cannot have created him.

Again, this is the real fight. This flat earth stuff is just a distraction. Don’t let it.