Logic and Absolutes ( Not Vodka )

Actually change is always changing. It just doesn’t change so much as to not be change any more (stagnation). Change is all that physically exists. That which truly never changes at all, is not physical.

James, the subject of ‘change’ in philosophy is a little more complicated than most realize, and the way the word is used can often be misleading. In identity theory there is something called mereological essentialism, and it deals with how things and their properties change over time (see endurantism and perdurantism.)

But what I meant in my above post was more along the lines of the meaning of the word ‘change’ becoming obscure if one accepts the premise that there is no absolute truth. I was trying to show Primal Eyebrows that if everything changes, then so too must the meaning of the word ‘change’ change, … or, if the meaning doesn’t ever change, then there is at least one absolute truth, and that is ‘everything changes.’ And yet, if this is the case, it is not the case, because the meaning of that statement stays the same.

This is an example of some of the philosophical confusion that occurs when people use ordinary words in philosophical ways. When we try to ‘look inside’, as Wittgenstein put it, rather than examining the way a word is embedded and used in ordinary discourse and human interaction, we ‘muddy the waters’.

A lot of this goes on in philosophy, so much so that it’s nearly impossible to address all of it. One can only sit back, watch, and smile… for these philosophers know not what they do.

Here is a piece of reasoning from something I wrote a while back in which I tried to show one of the problems involved with identity theory regarding changing properties:

aeternitatis.forumotion.com/t8-i … onysian#10

(the essay is not polished or finished… I was improvising, you might say)

Although it might seem as though I am arguing against you in this post, I am actually glad to see someone recognize these things.

Yes, although I call it “Definitional Logic”.

Concepts do not ever change. The words used to describe them might change, but not the concept being described. A perfect circle is eternally a perfect circle, regardless of what it is called. And non-changing concepts are not physical.

And that is a changeless absolute truth.

One of the new-age ideologies is the attempt to establish a truth model in which there is no such things as fixed absoluteness in any form. It is merely a social engineering effort to change the world by instilling a belief in a reality of relentless changing. That is why you get so many arguments against God (the absolute), not merely against Christianity (the preserving).

Yes … something along the lines of intellectual or rhetorical grace while distinguishing the author’s intent from pedantic sophistry as well as remembering to not get the map confused with the terrain.

You seem like one who would benefit by becoming an “ontological engineer” (one who understands and designs ontologies). Understanding ontological construction clears up nearly all philosophical questions rather quickly and permanently (which defeats those wishing to merely create chaos, obfuscation, and argumentation).

Alright. How do I say this. I don’t know how in less than ten thousand words so I’ll just say it in less than how ever many words are left after you subtract from ten thousand words the amount of words I use to explain.

Check that math for me, please.

I am schizophrenic philosopher anti-philosopher who plays both sides of the field. My intention is not to tell anyone anything, but to put out there things that are brought alive by those who see them. I am not the intellect behind any kind of sense that is made from what I write. The person reading it is the one who gives it life and makes it meaningful. I sprinkle fairy dust and then watch what happens.

The reason why I cannot claim any rights to being a philosopher is because anything I ever write, I could, just as well, refute it.

My problem is that I am too capable of doing philosophy, so much so that if I were ever forced to write one thing I thought was most true, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it because I can make anything true, and therefore anything I write is not determined by what I think is true, but by the reader.

The reader does all the work. I stir the mind up, as it were, with the purpose of provoking creativity and imagination in the reader. In this way I am not a philosopher as much as a kind of midwife or experimenter, you might say.

I need to tread lightly here because I don’t want to get mixed up with things I don’t believe are creative; I feel like you are trying to persuade me to move in a certain direction. I can’t move in only one direction. I am a non-linear, multi dimensional thinker and I must avoid any restrictions when I find them. So, I’d rather not pass comment on your above words, though I do appreciate the undeserved praise you’ve tried to give me. Or rather, I appreciate the fact that you thought I was deserving of such praise.

You could have “subtracted” those words.

That was already apparent.

Yeah well, intellectual insecurity is a common weakness today and it plays well against those of intellectual bullheadedness. Unfortunately it leads to nothing.

All of that was the exact reason that I made my suggestion. An “ontological engineer” or oncologist, is one who can see any perspective and understand exactly what it is that makes that perspective true or not. He can argue any side of just about anything. But unlike many, he understands within what ontological frame each argument is true or not. Understanding ontological construction gives the true thinker a foundation from which he gains even more freedom with which he can surmise counter arguments and make them stick, if he chooses. He becomes a “master of the angels” from which he gains a very solid foundation and might eventually choose to do something worth while.

Concepts do not change, if they are true - that means: logically true, correctly defined, logically correct. But if they are not true, then they change - mostly just after the changing of the power relations. Currently there are many untrue concepts.

Although I understand what you meant, I have to say that more precisely truth has nothing to do with concepts one way or another. A concept is merely a concept. It might fit well within an ontology, in which case it would be a valid element within that ontology, or it might not.

To say that a concept is “untrue” could only mean that it doesn’t fit into a previously accepted ontology: it is “untrue to the ontology”.

“Truth” only refers to an accepted ontology.

This is a childish caricature; a strawman.

The point is about the nature of truth, not about the meaning of ‘absolute’.
The point is that statements are assertions, about perception and interpretation of that experience. They are not natural phenomena outside the language community of those making the statements. Truths are about the relationship between experience and the language. None of them are absolute in the sense that they can be meaningful were no humans or human interaction part of the universe, as it is a construct of human behaviour.

That’s right.

So then whatever is the truth about nature is only kinda true, not absolutely true? What like half true? Three quarters true?

Make an statement using the word nature, and, with the permission you have granted me, I will tell you the statement isn’t true. I must, because according to you, something that is true cannot be absolutely true.

What kind… indicative, declarative, imperative, subjunctive?

What kind of statement is this: ‘go get the mail, please’.

Is that statement true or false? Neither, because commands cannot be true or false. Now, is it absolutely true I just told you to go get the mail, or just kinda true?

A light bulb just lit up. ‘Ah!’, says Lev.

Wittgenstein couldn’t have said it better himself. Outstanding, Smushkin.

Now it’s getting a little sticky. Some would argue that truth isn’t ‘about’ anything, but rather the state of the validity and/or soundness of either a deductive or inductive proposition. A tautology is always deductively true, while an inference may or may not be true.

‘A circle is round’ is absolutely true regardless of whether or not you or I ever know this. Not because we can know circles exist without us observing them (we cannot), but because roundness is a necessary property of a circle.

If there is a circle, it must be round. If it isn’t, you wouldn’t be able to recognize the meaning of that statement to challenge it. Or if you did, and chose to challenge it, would you say a circle isn’t round? Really? It is round not because we have chosen on a whim to give it such a property, but because by ‘round’ I also mean ‘circular’, and by ‘circular’ I also mean ‘round’.

And, to tie this to our original point, whether or not a circle is round is a matter of fact in either case, absolutely.

Don’t look behind the words. Look at how they are used.

That above post was just edited. Reread it.

I couldn’t even get past the first sentence of Greecey’s post before it fell apart. So, I just grabbed the first sentence in a drive-by.

Awesome. We found one. A statement about what is inside the human brain, then, can be absolutely true or false?

Well, it’s a start, I guess. He’s making progress.

Soooo, if I glue some bark to the wall, the wall now has the quality ‘treeness’?

What does a ‘general’ tree look like, anyway? I’ve seen particular trees before, but being that I’m a nominalist, can’t really say I’ve seen a ‘general’ tree.

I have seen a plastic christmas tree at the Dollar ‘General’ before though. Does that count?

There are no circles in nature; only in human conception. A circle is nothing more than a human idea. It cannot exist in reality.
The entire nature of the idea that a thing can be true or not is “interested”. Truth is “partial”. No humans: no truth.
A statement that states there are no absolute truths stands. Saying it is not absolutely true, does not mean that there is such a thing as an absolute truth. None of this is true to everyone; thus not absolute, but meaningless to some.

Let’s use a square. Say you have an imperfect square such that the upper right corner is not a perfect 90 degree angle, but obtuse. The right side of the square is at a 91 degree angle, then. We have an imperfect square. But then we must also have an imperfect, imperfect square, according to you, since the line connecting the upper right corner to the lower right corner cannot be perfectly straight (I assume you would also say there are no perfect straight lines, yes?)

Ergo, there are no imperfect squares in nature; only in human conception, and so your proposition is false.

Yes and no. There is no Absolute truth because all that exists is not in the form of a proposition. Remember, you only know and use the word ‘absolute’ in language, so you cannot think about what it means unless you are considering it in a statement. For there to be Absolute truth, such a claim would have to be in the form of a proposition about everything that exists. And who could make such a proposition? Nobody.

Besides, what would the statement ‘everything is absolute’ even mean? That everything exists? That everything is completely and totally what it is? Well…duh.

But there are absolute (lower case ‘a’) truths everywhere. One example is that you were absolutely right in saying there is no Absolute truth.

There are no precisely fixed forms in nature. What we call “perfect” is only meaningful to us. But no matter how you define one particular precise shape, there will be none of those in the physical universe. Precision is the issue.

If you define a shape with allowances for imprecision, eg. “round”, rather than “perfect circle”, a great many natural objects might fit into that definition.

The concept of “absolute” implies a precision toward one extreme, much like “perfect”. Finding an absolute anything in nature would be very difficult.

No. Squares don’t exist. They are a 2D construct in a 3D world. Whilst we might try to make objects that comply to an ideal, we can never achieve it.

This will something of a 55 mph thought experiment on the fly, Lev. Do with it what you will.

What I said of the square could also be said of a cube (you think cubes exist, don’t you?), if you prefer. At any rate, if a square didn’t exist, you wouldn’t be able to say it didn’t exist. That’s sounds confusing, I know.

What is happening here is you are confirming a concept by denying it represents a real thing; it is a bit like Chomsky being asked if he believed in God. If he says ‘no’, then he is answering in the affirmative… he is granting that the concept of ‘God’ does exist, while the thing ‘God’ does not, so that he can say “God does not exist”. Follow?

Instead Chomsky answered this question with “I don’t understand the question”. This is the only way to respond to the question “do you believe in God”. Such a question couldn’t even be asked if there were no God because the concept of God would not exist to be questioned.

These same terms apply to your questioning of the square’s existence. It is not the square itself that is important, but what you mean when you say it does or doesn’t exist. When you point to a square and say “that is not a perfect square”, what could you possibly mean? That the shape you see does not correspond to our shared definition of ‘square’, or that we have no definition of square in the first place? If the latter, you would not be able to refute it, because you would have no concept of an imperfect square. This is very confusing, yes.

You could never say “a shniggle dorf doesn’t exist” unless it existed at least as a concept. But wait, would that ever matter…whether or not it really existed, or whether or not we signify the thing is real by our pointing to it?

Zoot: Look, Lev! There is a shniggle dorf!

Lev: That’s not a real shniggle dorf, just the ‘ideal’ of a shniggle dorf.

Zoot: Hmm. Perhaps you are right. But what should we do with it? Let’s put it on the shelf, whatever it may be.

All the ways in which we scrutinize the object are irrelevant to the way we use it, the way we make our actions meaningful in how we look at it, feel it, carry it to the shelf, talk about it, etc. Our definition of it is really not important. As we examine the shniggle dorf we isolate various aspects and properties of it to discuss. That is its color, that is its shape, etc. But in each case our pointing to these things has nothing to do with what we mean about it. The meaning is not some mysterious thing behind the object, but only in how it is used, handled, communicated, and so on.

Our perfect or imperfect or real or unreal square is the subject of our language game, and this game transcends, in a way, how we actually make it meaningful through our use of it. The pointing and describing and defining never makes contact with the reality of the thing in question which we are interacting with. All I can know is how Lev interacts with this object, not what he ‘thinks’ about it. See Wittgenstein’s Beetle in a Box.

You’ve conversed about spheres and squares. Now similarly consider a metre.
(And I say metre because it was invented by the French I believe, and because America has stuck its little nose up about it, so, right back at ya 'merca.)

Clearly there are many practical uses to having a piece of stick that measures roughly the same as a piece of stick on the other side of the planet. That’s how we figure out how many liters of fuel we need to get from here to there, and therefore plan a trip. Does help to know what a liter is as well, and a kilo too for that matter, so that we are able to tell the people there on the other side of the planet that we need this many kilos of this thing that is only found over there.

If their kilo is smaller than my kilo, though, I’m going to be pretty fucking pissed, so it might help it if we can define a kilo as something that can be measured over and over again the same way, so that it is verifiable my many independent parts, and not so much be a matter of perspective or interpretation.

So I guess the best way to do this is to base these units in phenomena. A kilo can be 1 liter of water, since it is found everywhere. But what’s a liter of water? Hm, how about the amount of water that fits in a cube with 10 cm sides. And what, you may ask is a cm? One hundreth of a metre, of course. And what is a metre? A fraction of a pretty damn rough estimate of the distance between here and there… Hmm, what if imstead we got a pendulum and… Shut up about pendulums, Pierre, we spent a shitload measuring this thing and we are sticking with it.
So in order to preserve this entire system of units in which one references the other, which references the other, which references the metre, we make one out of platinum and stick it in a vaccum so it stays the same. Then, whenever someone needs to know exactly how badly their measuring tape shrank due to the arid climatic conditions od their land, they can bring it here and we can compare them.

But what happens if the power gets shut off in our vaccum chamber and our metre changes a little bit, or if Pierre borrows it without asking and drops it…again, can’t we find a unit to reference it against, as a backup plan? Is there anything we know in the whole observable universe which can provide us with a little bit of absoluteness? How about the speed of light?! That’s pretty constant, right? We can count how many nanoseconds elapse when a beam of light starting at one tip of our metre arrives at the other end! Genius!

Hmmm… what’s a nanosecond again?