It’s been very busy here. In addition to having house guests (who left near the end of last week), someone quit at the place I work (a part-time job, still don’t have a full-time, and not really anxious for one), and I picked up a lot of additional hours that I’m still not quite used to. My hours just about tripled. I don’t mind at all the extra money this will bring in, but I have to get used to the new schedule. This week it’s been a bit exhaustive, but hopefully I’ll get used to it and get into the groove of things.
I finished reading Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique last week, and posted some quotes on my Book Quotes blog. ‘Twas a good book, I recommend it… I’d like to buy it in paperback if/when it comes out.
I’m now reading Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson by Jennifer Michael Hecht. I read somewhere (maybe on the author’s website?) that the author originally wanted to call the book “A History of Atheism” or something. That’s basically what it is, the history of the questioning of religion, or doubting it. That said, it’s not a book of “why atheism is correct” or “why religion is correct” … it doesn’t really seem to make any religious judgments itself, it’s more a “history of religious philosophy” book. For someone like me who doesn’t know much about history, or religious history for that matter, it’s very educational.
So far, I’ve only read the first two chapters (which are the first 85 pages), and there seem to be qutie a few philosophers of old who questioned how we can really know anything or what the point is of questioning things is when answers cannot be obtained.
But maybe how we humans understand logic in the first place is fundamentally flawed in a way we can do nothing about.
So often we think in terms of cause and effect, an event and a reason for it, a “why?” for everything.
For many things, this seems logical. Something happens, we ask “why?”, we come up with a reason, and that’s that. The trouble is, we can always keep asking “why?” again. And again. Ad infinitum. This usually leads us to some point where we can go no further, a point where we have to say “I don’t know” and that’s that. But even if we could come up with answer, what would be the point? We would just ask “why?” again, and it would have to go on forever. Every event would have to have an infinite number of causes, going backwards for eternity. If it goes on forever, then isn’t that the same as there being no answer at all? There can be no end point.
One could cheat, and go in circles. “Why are you the boss?” “Because I tell people what to do!” “Why?” “Because I’m the boss!” Of course, such circular logic is considered a logical fallacy. But real logic isn’t always much more helpful, even though it seems to make more sense to the mind. But if logic isn’t circular, is it linear? A line that goes on forever? That’s just as useless as a circle! In fact, just about every shape logic could be in is useless. (Well, depending on what you’re using it for.) The whole cause and effect, one thing from another, dominoes of logic . . . ultimately I think it’s a flawed way of looking at the universe, of trying to discover truth. But right now I have no earthly (or heavenly or hellish) idea of what it could be replaced with.
I’m sure these are not new thoughts for the world, but . . . well, there it is. Logic is illogical! Don’t ask me why! Let me know if you have heard of any philosophers who have had similar thoughts, as I should very much like to read about them. There’s gotta be someone out there, some form of thought I haven’t heard of yet…
On an unphilosophical note, I had a weird dream a few nights ago. Near the end of it, a bunch of people gave me a bunch of presents, and it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas or anything. Being quite astounded at my good fortune, I thought “this must be a dream! I’m going to wake myself up!” and with some strange mysterious semi-lucid mental process, I awoke myself. It was like my uncontrollable subconscious willingly giving control back to the my real conscious self. It was a really strange strange experience.
I call the blog “Blather” so I can blather ya know!
That’s all for now. Oh, in case you missed it, I posted a YouTube video a few days ago right here. It’s a piece I’m hoping will be on my first album, which I’m hoping will be finished this year.
LanthonyS · May 5, 2009 at 6:40 AM
And a logical progression assumes the universe is totally deterministic and comes out the same way every time! 🙂
For deep thoughts on the matter, see
S P Hannifin · May 5, 2009 at 2:55 PM
Thanks for the comment!!
I think that’s a separate issue; even if it weren’t deterministic, I think most humans would reject the notion that things happen for no reason at all. And, if one did accept that notion, logic would simply be a line that has a starting point, but that doesn’t make the line complete, that’s just a form of giving up, and not asking “why?” anymore.
Perhaps the real issue is thinking that the world has to be either deterministic or not, which gets into that whole “how we perceive time” issue. The past is unchangeable, the present is so infinitely short we can hardly consider, and the future can only be considered by imagination. Non-deterministic thought says “it can be changed” … but what’s really being changed? It doesn’t exist yet! Deterministic thought says “it’s already determined, and it already factors in what everyone thinks about it. Just because we can’t guess what it will be only shows how complex the world is” and so the future becomes only an uncertainty, a figment of the imagination once again, because whatever is really is hasn’t come into existence yet. So what’s really the difference between the two schools of thought? Neither change the past or present, or make the future any more knowable.
You say “comes out the same every time” but there’s only one time, or perhaps really no time at all. The dinosaur’s computer does not atomically boot-up in exactly the same way every time; atoms, electrons, very small particles, are each in different positions and they will determine whether or not the soundcard will be detected. That the computer sometimes does and doesn’t detect the soundcard says nothing about whether or not the world is deterministic. Neither does our own incomplete knowledge, for we can understand how complex the world can be at the quantum level enough to know that we don’t have the power to simulate it.
Confusing stuff. 😀