Axioms, Presumptions – Bull Crap?

Perhaps I don’t understand the nature of logic, but from what I understand is that every logical argument begins with a predetermined set of accepted norms (which are called axioms).

So, for example,  the argument:

1. Human beings are Material

Comes with the assumption that human beings exist.

At first it seems like a ridiculous thing to point out, but it’s true.

If we take a truly logically sober approach to this argument, we are obligated to point out this axiom…the assumption that human beings exist.

That being said, on what basis do we believe human beings exist (going a bit sophist here)?

One could argue that if we are able to record stimulation and physical responses in or by a human being, than the human being exists, right? Because if something can be interacted with by the physical senses of the human being, it exists.

Here’s the loophole:

The person claiming that a physical response was measured merely has had an EXPERIENCE in which they witnessed a stimulus being measured. But it’s still only an experience. The experience of a stimulus being recorded (in light of true sober-minded logic) could have been a hallucination. or a dream.

Now if many people claim they witnessed this stimulus being measured, than maybe it can be considered true?

According to most scientists today, it’s very possible for many people to have similar or the same hallucination, and Logically speaking, arguing that everybody had a hallucination is a reliable claim. Google the topic..there are many stories about mass hallucinations and such.

So if everything is experience, and experience is not considered a reliable axiom for arguments in our culture (Think about arguments for God’s existence, and how we shut them down because they are held up by sole experience), than truly an argument begins with something that’s accepted by faith.

No, I’m not religious. I do not believe in God.

I DO believe that the idea that we have finally discovered THE arbiter of truth through reason and logic is a result of certain men and women surfing the wave of our consciousness’s evolution without remembering there’s an entire ocean behind them and below them…

in other words, it’s irrational in itself to claim that reason and logic, manners of thinking that have arisen from a stage of our evolution, are the arbiter of ALL TRUTH, if our perception of truth is constantly still evolving.

One may look at all this and say “Well it’s just common sense to assume that I exist or that they exist”. Common sense being another fancy word for something everyone just “accepts because it’s true” or “accepts by faith”?

Common sense because our culture and her previous generations have instilled in us the mere idea that we exist as physical beings? It’s all faith if you ask me.

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6 thoughts on “Axioms, Presumptions – Bull Crap?

  1. Some great questioning here, Jake! I think the seminal observation you posed — “The person claiming that a physical response was measured merely has had an EXPERIENCE in which they witnessed a stimulus being measured. But it’s still only an experience. The experience of a stimulus being recorded (in light of true sober-minded logic) could have been a hallucination. or a dream.” — is similar to Descarte’s brain in a vat (or Matrix) scenario where all we have is the illusion of a body and experiences but no real way of knowing for sure.

    Since this is an epistemological issue, I’d say that we simply accept that reality is real until we have good justification for believing that it’s an illusion. In other words, just because a scenario is possible doesn’t mean it’s necessarily plausible. Also, I wonder if it were true that everything was an illusion whether we’d actually ever be capable of suspecting that it was. Look at it this way: When we dream certain characters make appearances besides ourselves (for example, the other night I dreamt about my dad). But the question is: Do the characters in our dreams ever know that they’re just dream characters and not as real as you or I? No, they don’t. As a matter of fact, no dream character of mine has ever said, “I wonder if I don’t really exist and that this is all a dream?” I think the reason they don’t say that is because dream characters don’t have the capacity to understand anything outside the dream world that they exist in.

    But we do. We ponder and think about objective reality as well as a metaphysical reality. And I think the very reason that we can be aware and differentiate between illusion and reality gives us indication that we’re experiencing something objectively real. Therefore, I would argue for a kind of Occam’s Razor technique of assessment (that is the least complicated option between real or not real is probably true). What do you think?

    P.S. I’m following your stuff, man. Keep it up!

  2. Hey there. Here’s My Response. I quoted you, than responded to various portions of the text.

    “Some great questioning here, Jake! I think the seminal observation you posed — ‘The person claiming that a physical response was measured merely has had an EXPERIENCE in which they witnessed a stimulus being measured. But it’s still only an experience. The experience of a stimulus being recorded (in light of true sober-minded logic) could have been a hallucination. or a dream.” — is similar to Descarte’s brain in a vat (or Matrix) scenario where all we have is the illusion of a body and experiences but no real way of knowing for sure.”

    That’s a great simplified example.

    “Since this is an epistemological issue, I’d say that we simply accept that reality is real until we have good justification for believing that it’s an illusion. In other words, just because a scenario is possible doesn’t mean it’s necessarily plausible. ”

    I have definitely thought on this, and at first it makes a lot of sense to me. The problem that you and I must admit, is that how we consider something “plausible” is something instilled in us through our culture, particularly through the nature of reasoning and rationality.

    There are thinkers who simply accept that reality isn’t material until they have justification for believing it, as well. It goes to show once again, that what we consider “generally acceptable” is instilled in us through our culture, in my opinion.

    “Also, I wonder if it were true that everything was an illusion whether we’d actually ever be capable of suspecting that it was. Look at it this way: When we dream certain characters make appearances besides ourselves (for example, the other night I dreamt about my dad). But the question is: Do the characters in our dreams ever know that they’re just dream characters and not as real as you or I? No, they don’t. As a matter of fact, no dream character of mine has ever said, ‘I wonder if I don’t really exist and that this is all a dream?” I think the reason they don’t say that is because dream characters don’t have the capacity to understand anything outside the dream world that they exist in.”

    Real interesting thoughts here. I’ll have to write a post on dreams and such. Here’s what comes to mind. On a logical, rational basis, we have no way of knowing what the characters are or aren’t thinking (If they have the capacity to think…), so this really isn’t something that can be questioned in my opinion. We can only look at our own experience in the dream in order to question things. By default, we do not question whether or not something is a dream when we are dreaming until we learn and it’s revealed to us in our awakeness that we have the ability to control our dreams. And it takes practice. Read up on it if you haven’t. Pretty interesting. What if this reality is the same way? What if we simply haven’t hit the point yet where we have the ability to fully realize this isn’t the fullness of reality? What if a dream is the same as this world on a miniscule scale–reality in a different sort of fullness? In dreams, we have an experience that seems to be a perception of reality. In this world, we have an experience that seems to be a perception of reality. That’s all we can ever do. Experience Perception.

    “But we do. We ponder and think about objective reality as well as a metaphysical reality. And I think the very reason that we can be aware and differentiate between illusion and reality gives us indication that we’re experiencing something objectively real. Therefore, I would argue for a kind of Occam’s Razor technique of assessment (that is the least complicated option between real or not real is probably true). What do you think?”

    I agree with you here. Definitely. The problem is that for some, what they consider the reality they have separated from illusion is what you would consider their illusion. and vice versa. Going off the dream idea we discussed, we may simply be on the verge of realizing there is another reality. Or that this isn’t real. Who knows? Pretty trippy.

    I used to be a big fan of Occam’s Razor, but once again it’s only valid if we come to the table with a preconceived notion that ideas of the rational or reasonable nature stand as the arbiter of all truth. and that notion is something we accept by faith. By a cultural instilling in my opinion.

  3. Excellent comments here, Jake. I truly appreciate this conversation and the critical thinking involved!

    Let me offer this for consideration and, please, tell me what you think: I think the very nature of truth (that is, in order for something to be true it must correspond to reality) applies to everyone regardless of cultural persuasion. And I think there are good reasons to think so (for instance, insulin regulates the problem of diabetes whether in America or Africa or Saudi Arabia). Therefore, to say that other cultures probably don’t assess the nature of reality the way you or I do is really only pointing out that human beings have different ways of assessing the nature of reality. But that’s as far as that statement can go. It’s a separate enterprise altogether to determine whether the Western view of reality (let’s say) is correct or the Eastern view. I think, due to the laws of logic (identity, non-contradiction, excluded middle) the proposition that reality is objectively real leaves us with only an either/or chance that it is true — in other words, it’s either true or false. We wouldn’t say that reality is the way that everyone believes it to be all at the same time because that would violate the law of non-contradiction. So, in order to determine whether I’m assessing reality correctly, I have to do some work to provide good reasons to think so. But the opposing perspective (of another cultural persuasion) must also do some work to provide not only defeaters for my point of view but also good reasons for theirs as well. And I think, when that exercise takes place, we get closer to the truth of reality.

    At base, I’m totally with you, Jake. There’s no way to know with 100% certainty that what we are experiencing isn’t some kind of illusion. But I think the reason Westerners (of which I clearly am) typically employ rationality and reasoned inference to gauge reality is because it matches in a correlative way that has been scientifically verified. Scientists employ rational inference in order to conduct experiments and draw conclusions about reality. And it’s worked rather successfully — especially in the medical field. So while you’re right that we Westerners put our faith in the rational in order to get at truth, I would argue that we do so based on the evidences of our propositions matching with reality in a way that we can measure consistently over time. In other words, we have good justification for having this faith. I’m not so sure that someone from an opposite cultural perspective has the same justification.

    But, I should say, I could be wrong about this (as my wife can tell you, I’m wrong all the time at home! Ha!) so I’m not going to be too dogmatic about my conclusions since there might be some compelling arguments to the contrary that I’m not aware of.

    What do you think, Jake?

    • Hey there! Sorry this took so long. Been doing school work and stuff. Here’s my response. Same Format as last time…it’s a long one, so take your time 🙂

      “Let me offer this for consideration and, please, tell me what you think: I think the very nature of truth (that is, in order for something to be true it must correspond to reality) applies to everyone regardless of cultural persuasion. And I think there are good reasons to think so (for instance, insulin regulates the problem of diabetes whether in America or Africa or Saudi Arabia). Therefore, to say that other cultures probably don’t assess the nature of reality the way you or I do is really only pointing out that human beings have different ways of assessing the nature of reality. But that’s as far as that statement can go. It’s a separate enterprise altogether to determine whether the Western view of reality (let’s say) is correct or the Eastern view. “

      I agree wholeheartedly.
      I just want to clarify that when I say “culture” I mean the results of humankind’s thinking in TODAY’S generation. I mean Human culture. There are sub-cultures within human culture, but I’m talking human culture as a whole.

      “I think, due to the laws of logic (identity, non-contradiction, excluded middle) the proposition that reality is objectively real leaves us with only an either/or chance that it is true — in other words, it’s either true or false. We wouldn’t say that reality is the way that everyone believes it to be all at the same time because that would violate the law of non-contradiction. So, in order to determine whether I’m assessing reality correctly, I have to do some work to provide good reasons to think so. But the opposing perspective (of another cultural persuasion) must also do some work to provide not only defeaters for my point of view but also good reasons for theirs as well. And I think, when that exercise takes place, we get closer to the truth of reality.”

      Yup. I agree here as well. What I ponder about, however, is why so many of us have differing standards of “how much is enough” in terms of justification for what reality is. Sure, you may have a group of people who all agree that reasons must be provided in order to justify beliefs regarding the truth of reality, but people having differing standards as to how many reasons is enough. And I guess what I’m pointing out here is that this difference is what shows me that reason isn’t all there is. If Reason was as solid as we make it out to be, everyone one would have the same standards as to how much “enough evidence” is to convince them. But they don’t. Any sort of difference within that realm means that there is an aspect of emotional intuition and faith. Experiential faith, in my opinion. And if people are chronically beginning to agree on what the standards are in terms of how much evidence is enough, than they are doing the very same thing we accuse the religious of doing–conforming and “just believing because–”.

      “At base, I’m totally with you, Jake. There’s no way to know with 100% certainty that what we are experiencing isn’t some kind of illusion. “

      Looking back at our conversation we have covered a lot of points. I feel like we’ve gone a bit off track (just to acknowledge and help organize our thoughts). Heres the track I feel we’ve taken, according to what points we are touching on:

      My post: Axioms are a Matter of Faith>Response Discussion:Discerning Reality (through the example of dreams)>My Response to Response: Methods of Discerning reality are culturally Instilled>Your Response: The difference between rational faith and unjustified faith .

      So we now are discussing how we can justify any given “basic belief”, and the difference between rational and irrational faith, eh? (correct me if I’m wrong. I want to make sure I’m responding to the points you want response to)

      “But I think the reason Westerners (of which I clearly am) typically employ rationality and reasoned inference to gauge reality is because it matches in a correlative way that has been scientifically verified.”

      Definitely. Within the nature of scientific practice, reason and logic are the only ways to go about measuring things. However, that’s WITHIN the practice of science. WITHIN the practice of experimentation. Within the realm of things we percieve to be consistent. It still does not account for the beliefs we come to science with. For example, the idea that physicality and a consistent occurrence denotes existence. That is a belief, whether or not we want to admit it.

      “Scientists employ rational inference in order to conduct experiments and draw conclusions about reality. And it’s worked rather successfully — especially in the medical field. “

      Yes, it has. Rationality has spurred us on to DISCOVER what works. to DISCOVER what sort of interactions with the human body are helpful. However, reason does not account for what reality is as a whole, in my opinion. Reality as a whole is different than the study of medicine. Rationality in the study of medicine helps us discover what sort of interactions between medical substances and the human body are beneficial for life. But that’s all it does. It spurs us on to discover. It does not literally provide a basis for what reality is.

      “So while you’re right that we Westerners put our faith in the rational in order to get at truth, I would argue that we do so based on the evidences of our propositions matching with reality in a way that we can measure consistently over time. In other words, we have good justification for having this faith. I’m not so sure that someone from an opposite cultural perspective has the same justification.”

      I said this earlier, but when I refer to culture I mean human culture as a whole. Humanity at this stage of his consciousness.

      I apologize if I didn’t make my original point clear. I am not arguing that we put our faith in rationality and logic. I’m claiming that rational arguments BEGIN with an axiom of faith. A belief of faith, whether or not we want to admit it.
      In regards to justification for a belief, what determines a reliable justification in the end?

      For example,
      If the probability of falling when you walk is very low based on scientific experimentation, and observation of your personal kinesthetic mechanics, than it seems like a justified belief to believe and put your faith in your ability to walk. But if you fall next time you try walking, your faith in the ability to walk without falling has been deemed unjustified (while it was reasonable within the nature of reason). I guess the point I’m trying to make is that a belief is not justified by rational faith in the end because of the reliability of experimental practices man has devised. It is justified and in the end simply if its TRUE in the end. If I believe I’m going to fall next time I try walking, and that is a belief that comes up against scientific odds, it ends up being the most “reliable” belief in the end if I do fall. Because it’s what actually happened.

      What we have done with reason and logic, in my opinion, is began viewing it as a multi-generational arbiter of truth. In other words, I feel we fall into the trap of believing our consciousness’ are done evolving when it comes to figuring out truth.

      How we determine truth is based on the mechanics of our consciousness in the stage of our evolution. So how can one say that reason and logic is the best there is if it has merely transcended and included the previous stage of thinking through which man has determined what the truth is?

      if You and I take a look at the history of man’s thinking, we see not only a progression in his physiologically changes, but also a progression (not better or worse) in the way that he thinks and processes reality. What I believe man tends to do nowadays (Western Culture particularly…and I’m one of them), is embrace our means of determining one truth as the means of determining all truth. Instead of approaching reason and logic knowing that we are incorporating elements of our previous stages of thinking (faith, for example), we attempt to blot out those stages because science and rationality seems so stable and complex, and has produced reliable results within the realm of MOST scenarios (not all of them…and the scenarios that aren’t part of the “all” are the ones that show us reason and logic are not that big of a deal).

      “But, I should say, I could be wrong about this (as my wife can tell you, I’m wrong all the time at home! Ha!) so I’m not going to be too dogmatic about my conclusions since there might be some compelling arguments to the contrary that I’m not aware of.
      What do you think, Jake?”

      I am with you here for myself. I really could be wrong too. lol. I appreciate your insight. It keeps me sober-minded. And helps me not get all dogmatic on myself and everybody else.

  4. Pingback: Is God Limited By Logic? Part 2: The Unrestricted Principle of Sufficient Reason | ajrogersphilosophy

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