Saturday, June 13, 2009

Details of the First Principles of Logic and Rational Thought

[Author's note: this is the second of a series of articles that I publish periodically, when the need seems to warrant it.]

The First Principles: The bedrock of Logic and Rational thought

Since Rational thought requires valid logical propositions, and logic is based on the presupposition of universal truth in the form of the First Principles, it is necessary to fully understand what these principles entail and their impact. This section will list and then discuss the basic principles that make Rational thought possible and intelligible.

The First Principles can be categorized as follows:

1. The Intuitive Principles.

These principles, while not provable, are known to be valid intuitively.

a. Identity. If it is true, then it is true; if it exists, then it exists.

b. Non-Contradiction. If it is true, then it cannot be false; if it exists, it cannot NOT exist.

c. Excluded Middle. A (singular, unity) concept cannot be somewhat true and somewhat false; a (singular, unity) thing cannot somewhat exist and somewhat not exist.

d. Cause and effect. Every effect has a cause that is both necessary and sufficient.

e. Cogito (Descartes). Because I doubt my own doubt, it is true that I think; because I think (truth), I must exist (fact).

2. The Probabilistic Principles.

These Principles seem to encompass both truth and existence.

a. The Immutability of math throughout the universe.

b. The Immutability of physical law throughout the universe.

c. The mutability of all levels of verifiability (Godel's laws).
3. The Presuppositional Principles.

These principles are declared either as empirical constraints, or as part of a worldview.

a. No form of reality exists that cannot be either observed and measured directly or by the use of instrumentation.

b. No Singularities (temporary violations) exist in the physical laws of the universe.
4. The Principle of Rational Thought; Skepticism; and Rational Deniability

These two principles demonstrate the philosophical tension between the Rational Empiricists and the Anti-Rationalists.

a. No premise should be accepted without evidence.
( This is the Principle of Rational Thought, and the basis for “skepticism”: Hume, Russell, Ayer)

b. Existence of evidence via intuition is denied.
(This is the basis for Anti-Rationalism: Nietzsche)(Notice that deniability is declared true as a rational premise, which premise requires the intuition of its truth; so intuition is denied via the use of intuition, which is a paradoxical process to Rationalists – but not to Anti-Rationalists who deny that paradox exists).

5. The Principles of Evidence

Evidence is demanded by Rationalists and Skeptics. Anti-Rationalists deny all basis for evidence, except (paradoxically) Darwinism; Anti-Rationalists also deny paradox, having denied the First Principles due to their intuitive basis. So the following principles are Rational principles only, and are not necessarily accepted by the Anti-Rationalists.

a. All evidence ultimately devolves to the First Principles and is therefore intuitively based.

b. “Universals” can be assumed valid without proof. These include Mathematics, Logic, and Language (a syllogistic form of logic deriving from the First Principle of Cause and Effect). (Notice that this is an intuited principle).

c. Empirical evidence:
1. Physical; Sensate only: Therefore, measurable.

2. Local (inductive)

3. Repeatable (deductive)

4. Universality cannot be proven so must be assumed (intuited, based upon probability, which can be increased by numerous replications of tests)

5. Validity is probabilistic only (intuited, based upon statistical probability, which can be increased by numerous replications of tests)

6. Assumes the validity of the Presuppositional Principles, # 3 above.

7. Valid Empirical evidence can be falsified, but has not been. (Popper).

Second Level Effects of the First Principles

a. If the First Principles are true, it follows that truth exists.

b. If truth exists, then falseness also exists.

c. If falseness exists, then skepticism is justified.

d. However, if the First Principles are true, then intuition of truth is assumed a valid technique; therefore, skepticism is neither absolute nor is it immune to argument.

e. If the First Principles are NOT true, then any and every argument is not based on rational precepts, and skepticism becomes (1) absolute, and (2) Anti-Rational.

f. If Principle 4a, above, is valid, then ethical considerations can be intuited as First Principles. This is because Principle 4a expresses an “ought” imperative, which is an ethical statement, and which is considered to be valid for the foundation of Naturalism, and thus is considered to be a universal truth. It is intuited, and cannot be proven by itself, by empiricism, by Naturalism, or by Materialism. Thus the basis for Naturalism and Materialism (worldviews) as well as empiricism (a discipline) are based upon an intuited ethical value.

g. Because Naturalism, Materialism and empiricism are all based upon an intuited ethical value, then intuited ethical values exist, and can be valid (true).

h. Because intuited ethical values are seen to exist, then intuition exists, ethics exists, and values exist – outside and beyond the constraints and limits of Naturalism, Materialism and Empiricism; also transcendence is proven to be a valid source of both information and ethical value statements. I.e., Transcendence exists and can be valid.

Empiricism, Naturalism and Materialism

Because the “ought imperative” of Principle 4a is the necessary and sufficient principle upon which Naturalism and Materialism are based, it is easily shown that the transcendent nature of the underlying foundation of these concepts produces a contradiction that violates the anti-transcendent worldviews themselves.

In other words, Naturalism and Materialism declare that intuition and other transcendences cannot exist, yet the basis for Naturalism and Materialism is itself necessarily intuitive and transcendent.

So Naturalism and Materialism deny their own foundational validity, and thus are paradoxical (violate the Principle of Non-Contradiction), and so are neither coherent nor valid.

This paradox is fatal, rationally speaking, for Naturalism and Materialism, but not for Empiricism, because Empiricism has voluntarily chosen to limit its range of investigation, and, in theory any way, does not say anything at all about transcendences or about value systems, except that they are out of the range of the testability and verification constraints placed upon Empirical processes. (Empiricism is a process, not a worldview or value system).

In this manner Empiricism retains its validity as a process for obtaining information about physical reality. Naturalism and Materialism are seen to be invalid, non-coherent worldviews, spun off from Empiricism, but no longer identical to it.


Fred said...


Re Second Level Effects of the First Principles, paragraph h. can you explain how establishing that "intuition exists, ethics exists, and values exist" means that they then exist "outside and beyond the constraints and limits of Naturalism," etc? How do you make this jump?

Also, how does it then follow that "transcendence is proven to be a valid source of both information and ethical value statements."? How does transcendence suddenly come into this?

I suppose answering the first will answer the second.

Also, in The Principles of the First Principles you say "if intuition is valid, then transcendence exists – because intuition is transcendent."

How so? How is intuition transcendent? Because there is no resort to reason? Surely, a materialist would say "intuition" has its basis in the material brain and is therefore limited and constrained by that; that a child intuitively knows something exists (and therefore true) because his (materialistic) senses tell him so?

(I suppose answering this will answer the first two! oh well.)

Obviously, I'm not a philosopher; just someone interested in the ideas presented here and keen to understand them better.


Stan said...

Hello Fred, welcome to the blog and thanks for the question.

Philosophical Materialism and Naturalism presuppose that everything that exists is material, that it is mass-energy, existing in space-time, just as we think of minerals, rocks, planets, stars, etc. all being mass which exhibits energy, and which exist in space-time. When I refer to principles of Naturalism or Philosophical Materialism, it is this principle that I generally mean to reference.

Thoughts do exist, including intuited conclusions about mass-energy within space-time, and while thoughts do exist, they are not material in the sense of being removable from the brain as individual masses and measured for weight, height, length, shape, optical qualities such as reflective color, refractivity, or thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity, etc. Thoughts are not material under the empirical, scientifically necessary qualities that make a thing material and subject to experimental, replicable studies.

So in that understanding of what makes a thing material, a thought is not material. Being non-material, it is outside the category of material things, and thus transcends that category.

This goes for all concepts that are not empirically testable and falsifiable. That would include ethics and values and philosophies of all types. Since these concepts exist and have value, then they are proof of the existence of things which transcend material existence, and which are valid sources of information.

The conclusion then is that transcendence (meaning outside of the material realm) exists, and it can be valid (not delusional, although delusions also exist).

It is a mistake to consider that transcendence cannot exist because it goes against reason; reason itself transcends material existence, being thought-based and not subject to empirical study as an object removable from the brain for study; also reason is not affected by gravity, nor the other three of the four forces of physics, and it has no physical characteristics at all, no physical dimensions, no mass, and no energy to be applied to other masses.

Materialists do in fact claim that the basis for reason is located in the brain, as a part of the brain mass. They dismiss intuition as self-delusion. They also insist that due to the universal principle of Cause and Effect, every action of the brain is fully caused by previous effects, which all had their causes going clear back to the Big Bang. This absolutely precludes human agency, which in turn precludes original thought which requires agency. Agency is declared a delusion under Naturalism and Materialism. Humans cannot be uncaused causers, due to Cause and Effect. So reason, it would seem, also cannot exist under naturalism. The paradox which seems obvious here is not detected by Naturalists and Materialists who insist both that they are reasoning and that they have no agency.

The case of a child knowing that something exists is actually an example of original empiricism: the child will explore existence with hands and mouth, and remember later. Children are great empiricists. They ask why and then test the answer they get, learning best from personal experiments which produce burnt fingers, and bruised elbows. So this is not intuition, but it is sensory empiricism.

Thanks for the questions, if I did not answer them clearly, let me know and I will try again.

Fred said...


Thank you for the answers and clarifications. I appreciate your time.

In the third-to-last paragraph of your answer (Materialists do in fact claim...) you state Materialists' adherence to Cause and Effect doesn't allow for any human agency which in turn doesn't allow for any "original" - uncaused - thought, since this requires agency.

You then say that because of this, reason,... also cannot exist under naturalism.

How do you draw this conclusion? Would not a Materialist say that reason does not have to be uncaused (original) for it to exist?

Would not a materialist also state that even granting for the non-material transcendent nature of thought one cannot deny the chemical and cellular processes occuring in the material brain in tandem with these thoughts as evidenced by countless scientific experiments; many of which have demonstrated that human behaviour (and therefore thoughts) can be altered as a result of material changes through various means to the brain?

I suppose the question then is whether it is these material processes in the brain which are the material precursors to non-material thought, or vice versa? Or is it that the two are in a circular relationship where one causes the other and back and forth, back and forth, etc.
Of course, a Materialist would give the "first/original" cause of all this as being purely material, the big bang. And a theist would give first cause as the "thought" or original act of creation of God.

Is this not then an endless argument which can never be resolved since neither claim can be proven? Of course, you rightly point out that because of this inability to prove their claims atheists cannot claim to be any more rational than deists.

Is this the main, and only, point of your blog: to deny atheists the claim of rationality? Do you go on to make any arguments in favor of the claims of theists? (I suppose I could answer the last question myself by reading your posts further!)

Best wishes.

Chris said...

Excellent. It occurs to me that the relationship between mind and matter and the nature of consciousness is what this blog is all about. Agency and free-will is the crux of the matter. Suppose you tell someone that if A=B
and B=C , then A=C, and he says ,
i cannot see why; I want you to prove it. Does not his incomprehension make clear the fundamentally intuitive nature of the proof he demands? Is it not a demonstration a contrario of what makes for real certitude? Think about it. "If the optic nerve has to be examined in order to be sure that vision is real, it will likewise be necessary to examine that which examines the optic nerve, an absurdity which proves in its own indirect way that knowledge of suprasensible things is INTUITIVE and cannot be other than intuitive."
Rather than seeing the fundamental truth of transcendence, they assault a first grade Sunday school cosmic parent God who is nothing but a celestial despot that logically contradicts the reality of human freedom. To the atheist, all religion/mysticism is at best, the product of a lazy mind. Basically, a cop out. But i think they've got it all backwards.

Stan said...

I like this:
"If the optic nerve has to be examined in order to be sure that vision is real, it will likewise be necessary to examine that which examines the optic nerve, an absurdity which proves in its own indirect way that knowledge of suprasensible things is INTUITIVE and cannot be other than intuitive."

That appears to be another way to look at Goedel's Theorems; the hierarchy of verification never ends, at least in this space-time domain.

Yariv said...

I think you're trying to equate the transcendence of language, mathematics, and thought, with transcendent mind, saying that materialism rejects the latter while relying on the formers, which you claim is contradictory. Materialism, in my understanding, does not reject transcendence. But it rejects the notion that transcendent concepts like mind exist independently of the material objects they transcend from. All that exists is matter, and matter gives rise to rule, words, and thoughts, all of which can be deconstructed materially into the atoms they describe (but not the atoms they are made of, since they are not material). But this does not mean that mind is an exception. Mind is not made of atoms (just like the number 3 is not made of atoms) but it is non existent without the atoms that give rise to it. There's nothing missing in those atoms that turns them into mind, in the same way that without material objects language wouldn't exist, and there's nothing "extra" in language beyond the material objects it describes, and their attributes and descriptions.

I don't believe transcendence is relevant in nature (sans intelligence) because it's simply an expression of OUR recognition that local rules are obeyed globally. Every atom KNOWS it's supposed to have orbiting electrons... This transcends individual atoms across galaxies... Transcendence. But it can be understood as a local rule, a result of the characteristics of what atoms and electrons are made of, characteristics they have no choice but to have, materially, in the same way 1+1 has no choice but to be 2, whether it's here or on another galaxy. so transcendence is merely the global application of local MATERIAL rules.

Yariv said...

Reading my own comment I should clarify how the last two words do not contradicts. Rules are transcendent, because they are global. But each local participant does know they part of a global effort, they only know they alone must follow a local role, which they have no choice but to follow due to their own construction and basic attributes. Nothing is transcendent locally, so nothing is transcendent globally, unless an intelligent global observer notices the resulting pattern. The pattern transcends each local participant but doesn't exist without local participants. Each local participant is strictly material.

Yariv said...

(...each local participant DOESN'T know they ARE part of...)

Stan said...

You said,
"they only know they alone must follow a local role, which they have no choice but to follow due to their own construction and basic attributes."

This seems to suggest that you believe in strict determinism, even of human faculties and behavior. If that is so, then the mind is strictly determined by charge flow in neurons, which in turn is caused by voltage differentials due to atomic valence bands being unfilled, etc. Why should any of this construction be expected to produce cogent thought which actually tries to understand itself? There is nothing inherent to charge flow or atomic structure which predicts human faculties, even when viewed in a reverse engineering mode.

Further, there is nothing physically located in the brain which can be removed and labelled, "mind". For whatever reason the mind dances around on the brain, uses the brain, and is not the brain.

This is a different form of transcendence than the metanarrative sort which you describe. The comprehension capability transcends the capability of the assembled material components.

Stan said...

I don't understand your logical deduction that we should be worried about 'any' Muslim, instead of looking at many other character traits.

What characteristics of the San Bernardino Islamic killers would you have looked at as indications of their intent to Jihad-kill? Let’s see; married, new baby, professionals, attend mosque, were “vetted” immigrants. If there were character clues there, everyone around them missed them.

”For immigration purposes, for instance, you do understand that it's not anybody who comes to the border who can be accepted as a refugee, right?”

Major Hasan was even in the army; he didn’t even hide his on-line connections to terrorists, but those who surveiled him allowed him to freely mix with legally disarmed people. Despite yelling Allahu Ackbar while killing, his bloody spree was termed “workplace violence”. There is a specific blind spot when it comes to Muslims. How you deal with them is up to you; how I do it is up to me.

”Also, no, I don't believe that "Islamic men [and women] mass-murder innocent Americans". First, there is no such mass murder that I am aware of; there were isolated examples since 2001, none we should tolerate nor ignore, but nothing even close to 'mass' murder.”

So the Islamic man and woman who killed 17 people in San Bernardino are not mass murderers? What exactly does it take, in your dictionary, to qualify as a mass murder? Killing everyone on four loaded domestic airplanes while also killing people in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and aiming at the Capitol don’t qualify? I know, that’s old news, ancient history, etc.etc. Well, I don’t need to recap everything that is happening in Europe.

”Second, no, you cannot include "[and women]" because it's simply false; women are way underrepresented among jihadists. I.e. women are not even close to 50% of terrorists even if they make up for ~50% of Muslims.”

Women are actively engaged in the “stab an Israeli” game. Women do participate, usually as suicide bombers. Where does it say that their representation must be “equal” numerically to men? What sort of rule is that?

”Third, it's really unfair to say that sanity is found on one side but not the other. I am not sure how black-and-white you think it is though... Surely, you agree that some Islamists are in fact mentally ill, and encouraged/manipulated by religious leaders to do harm; they exploit their mental illness.”

There is insufficient sanity to be found in the west. Sanity is not an issue for Islam communities: obedience is the issue; adoption and compliance are requisites.

The west is now Post Modern in almost all of its aspects. Education has seen to that. The media, Financial system and government have become largely, if not entirely, morality-free. Except, of course, for consequentialism, which is a theory of tactics and not morals.

Stan said...

” By the definitions we discussed here, I am actually compelled to protect the 'heretical' Muslims who are also trying to prevent violence within the Muslim community, by explaining their reason to reject jihad. They might be 'fake' Muslims, so not Islamists I guess, but I wish Islam turns into their non-literal `'Muslim' does not help anything.”

Why are Muslim immigrants given priority over your innocent countrymen? By what criterion do you so adjudge? By what moral authority?

” " Islam is not a “religion” in the same sense as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and others are. Islam is a self-contained, closed-system, government oriented and controlled system "

False; it is exactly like all the others; otherwise there would be no Heretics...”

Really? Sharia is not a governmental dictate? As Dragon Fang explained, heresy is the same as treason. How is that the case for the Hindu? The Buddhist? The principles of the Islamic theocracy are well spelled out. That is the reason that there are no-go zones in Europe and Britain: the local government is Islamic Sharia and is run by Imams.

” Basically, you cannot have it both ways; you cannot say that Islam, as a whole, including fundamentalists and heretics, is a closed system since the heretics are, by definition, rejecting that closed system.”

Why should I include false Islamists under the rubric, “Islam”? Islam is well defined in the texts. Anything outside of that is heresy because it is NOT Islam. That’s what heresy means.

The logic principle is that !A != A.

Further, this non-Islamic heresy is just like Atheism in the following sense: they reject the standards of Islam and they make up their own rules to suit themselves, thereby removing moral authority from their own deity, and supplanting it with their own, presumed, moral authority.

We are living in a time when there are no absolutes and all religions and ideologies are equally valid. So there is no heresy, at least in the Post Modern, Leftist western cultures. Multiculturalism dictates that every culture must accommodate and tolerate every other culture, and that the result will be a vibrant, one-world culture within which all peoples get along swimmingly. But total tolerance is a respected value only in Post Modern western cultures which are in rational and economic decline. Europe started out with total tolerance of the “refugees”, and now finds that they cannot “tolerate” the 7th century barbarism that is the religion-based culture that comes with them. Some European countries have clamped down on their levels of tolerance; others still have not, preferring the “virtue” of total tolerance to the safety of women, truck drivers, journalists, Jews, etc.

Stan said...

” The risk of having more and more weapons, especially in highly populated areas, is not worth the chance.”

This is an evaluation statement without either statistics or methodology for determination: i.e., your opinion. The risks involved with terrorists having guns, criminals having guns, is far higher than law-abiding citizens having guns. So your blanket statement does not apply.

” There were so few attacks on American soil; nothing has ever come close to 9/11, which would not have been different if everyone was armed obviously...”

This is false on the face of it; obviously if passengers had had some sort of protection, if the pilots had had some sort of protection, 9/11 either would not have happened, or would have been minimized. The passengers who took over the one aircraft died preventing further deaths in DC. Maybe they would have lived if they had been armed… AND that’s the reason that there are armed Marshalls on random aircraft today. If you cannot fight back, then you are set up to be a potential victim.

” However, more guns necessarily lead, at the very least, to more accidents. Why should we tolerate accidental deaths?”

Yes. We should restrict the use of bathtubs, automobiles, bicycles and especially motorcycles, as well as walking outdoors in winter.

It is interesting seeing what you are not willing to tolerate vs. what you are.

” Also, what about examples like that one?”

What about it? What about school bus wrecks? What about ambulance wrecks? What about alcohol and drunk drivers? What about smoking and cancer?

There are too many school buses; too many ambulances; we should ban alcohol and stop selling all drugs, even in pharmacies; including tobacco and marijuana. Right?

If you go by numbers, and you do, then Islamic terrorism around the world ranks pretty high. And if you go by numbers, the number of homicides has decreased in the past few decades in the USA, while gun sales have soared, and total numbers also have soared. I posted a graph of FBI numbers somewhere. There is an anti-correlation between total gun numbers and homicides. If you take that correlation as gospel fact, then when everyone is armed and carrying, there would be no homicide by gun. But that is a false “truth”, like all correlations and anecdotal extensions. BTW, Islam is not an anecdote, it is a documented set of moral principles with the moral authority of their deity.

Stan said...

” That's the kind of crazy thing that only happens when people have guns, and suddenly get some crazy impulsive ideas.”

Really? Only with guns? No other sort of melee, say with knives? Your data for that truth statement is…?

” see it from my point of view for a minute? I asked you to think of an hypothetical scenario, which was a real situation for me, where I had people, already in my house, and learned they were Muslim. Your reaction: think about your concealed carry... Is it really that weird to conclude that you are scared of Muslims then? Or if I should not use the word 'fear', is it really that weird to conclude that you have a strong impulse to think you should be prepared for the worst? That kind of reaction, this instant worry for your own life, and need for protection; how is that not fueled by fear?”

Why is it not fueled by reality? Why do you insist on me being fearful? What is your motivation?

In fact, I do have a fear, that of people who prefer their virtue-signalling over the safety of others. Those are the ones who would invite barbarians into their compound – our compound - in order to prove the virtue of their “total tolerance” at the expense of the deaths of innocents. That is the Post Modern poison which will ultimately destroy the once-strong west. It is irrational to expose one’s family and one’s country to barbarism merely to prove one’s moral superiority to those deemed “fearful”, irrational, X-ophobes. Designating irrationality to the class designated as X-ophobes is stock-in-trade for those who value their own personal moral authority over rationality. So projection of their own fear of being “immoral” is foisted onto actual realists who disagree.

If you really believe in zero deaths of innocents due to Jihad, there is only one way to do that.

” Sure; but it would also fit non-Muslims attackers who often look innocent, normal and healthy... until they are not.”

You are using a Red Herring Fallacy to change the subject. The subject is Islam, its barbarians and its non-Islamic heretics.

Stan said...

” And since we cannot really prevent all the mentally ill to carry guns, nor who they are actually, I guess we should all, always, carry guns. So it has nothing to do with Muslims after all... which is my point.”

It applies to the generic “Muslims” in spades. It applies to the set [all who are intent on existing violently outside our laws]. And that includes Qur’anic Islamists and non-Qur’anic non-Islamists. So your exclusion of these from the set doesn’t work.

” The label 'Muslim' is too broad, too vague”

So because of that, “some” number of Jihadis must be allowed in, in order to be “fair”. Further, it is insane and irrational to carry a weapon for self-protection and protection of one’s family.

We should stop cooking food, because “most” bacteria are harmless to beneficial; that is worth the cost of allowing “some” harmful, even deadly bacteria in our meals.

” Because it's not just religion, at all, it's a lot about socio-economic context, coupled with horrible religious messages.”

And just above you claimed that it was exactly equivalent to ALL other religions. One of those claims cannot be the case.

” I don't see nearly 10% of them as killers; so that's why the number does not matter much to me. If we could prove that just 1% are actual killers, motivated by nothing but religion along and showed no prior sign of it, I might be worried. Unless I am super na├»ve, I don't see that there are actually 10 million Muslims actively killing non-Muslims right now... But that's not the reality we live in, don't we?”

1% of 1 million Muslim Immigrants (Germany has more than that) would be 10k. And since the Jihadis kill far more than their own number, the number of dead Americans would likely be, say 10:1, so that would be 100k dead Americans. All due to “tolerance” of an ambiguous group of people who are unrelated to western standards.

Expecting western standards to apply to the Middle East and its inhabitants is what caused the instabilities which are ongoing at this time: they do not respect democracy; to them it is anarchy, while only Islamic hegemony provides moral virtue and stability. And the internal incongruities are producing Muslim on Muslim mass murder, infidel mass murder – but that has been happening for a millennia and a half and is nothing new. All that is new is mobility and weaponry.

And then you beg off, which is OK, it’s your choice.

Yes, grounding principles would be an interesting topic. You could start off at one of the First Principles Articles, say this one:
or any of them.

So let’s move on.

World of Facts said...

Hey, it looks like the last comments here are actually answers to my comments on another thread from last month... Interesting; I had missed these.