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Sunday, April 01, 2018

Binary thinking

If you read here regularly, you've probably encountered me dismissing those prone to attempting to divide everything into very simple conceptual poles. This is not to say that pure right and wrong do not exist, or that it is always inappropriate to apply Abelard's straightforward heuristic of "It is so or it is not so", merely that one cannot reduce all complex matters to such a simple binary equation.

So, it was interesting to discover, when re-reading a relatively new translation of Siddhartha, to see Herman Hesse portraying the protagonist referring to a concept that is not entirely dissimilar.

I have found a thought, Govinda, that you will think neither a joke nor foolishness, it is my best thought. It says: the opposite of every truth is just as true! For this is so: A truth can always only be uttered and cloaked in words when it is one-sided. Everything is one-sided that can be thought in thoughts and said with words, everything one-sided, everything half, everything is lacking wholeness, roundness, oneness. When the sublime Gautama spoke of the world in his doctrine, he had to divide it into Sansara and Nirvana, into illusion and truth, into suffering and redemption. This is the only way to go about it; there is no other way for a person who would teach. The world itself, however, the Being all around us and within us, is never one-sided.

Now, I certainly disagree with the surface meaning of the original thought; the opposite of every truth is simply not true or it would not be the opposite. But while that particular meaning is obviously incorrect, I think the subsequent statements are true in a slightly different sense than Hesse may have intended... or perhaps the translator messed it up somehow. I will have to review the original German to reach an opinion one way or the other. Regardless, that is neither here nor there, the point is that the world observably contains both the truth and the falsehood; to speak of what is necessarily implies the conceptual existence of what is not.

This is the true multiverse; it is conceptual, it is not material. There may be various levels of reality, there may be multitudes of realities in the way that even in our single material reality contains millions of simulated sub-realities and we are no more capable of proving that ours is the bottom turtle any more than an AI-controlled character in World of Warcraft can. But this conceptual whole is relevant for deeper understanding, for just as one cannot understand the concept of white when one has no ability to perceive the not-white of black, one cannot understand the concept of truth unless one is familiar with the not-truth of falsehood.

In the same way, we cannot grasp the essence of grace without an awareness of the not-grace of being sinful, and we cannot understand the importance of Jesus Christ or the reason for his sacrifice without an awareness of evil, both our own and the world's. This need to know both the truth and the various not-truths in order to understand something is why binary thinking is not merely limited, it is crippling.

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94 Comments:

Blogger Lovekraft April 01, 2018 8:34 PM  

re: multiverses, Schopenhauer said something to the effect that, even it were true, is so far removed from our very real earthly struggles, that to dwell on it is a waste of time.

Alan Watts mentions duality when he uses the earth and magnetic poles. Cut the earth in half, and there would still be two poles, and so on.

Blogger Nate73 April 01, 2018 8:34 PM  

That went in a different direction than I thought, my thinking was it was about the idea that any claim has a "grain of truth" in it and that people on opposite sides of an issue can both have something valid in their statement about it. E.g. in the dissolution of Yugoslavia the Serbs were favoring centralized control whereas the Croats and Slovenes wanted more autonomy. Both have some usefulness, but in that particular context once the Soviet Union fell there was no way to hold the disparate groups together.

Blogger OneWingedShark April 01, 2018 8:39 PM  

Interesting/good post; quite thought provoking.
One thing: perhaps grace would be better contrasted with condemnation (albeit Just and Righteuos) and, to a lesser degree, judgement, rather than sinfulness.

Blogger Aeoli Pera April 01, 2018 8:42 PM  

I agree, this was pretty good.

Blogger maniacprovost April 01, 2018 8:45 PM  

The conceptual limitations of others don't bother me, as such, but the most annoying manifestation of binary thinking is when someone reduces a problem to:
either do X (where X is a stupid and counterproductive idea)
or not do X (we're all sitting around doing nothing instead)

Not only is this a main waste of time and money in business, but this fallacy is celebrated by many under the guise of "a bias toward action."

No mere amount of education can eradicate this... it is cultural.

Blogger Aeoli Pera April 01, 2018 8:47 PM  

If I may draw a (brilliant :D) analogy...in order for a neurotransmitter's presence in the brain to be perceived by the brain, there must be an appropriate neuroreceptor. And, if the neuroreceptor exists, it must be conceivable for the neuroreceptor to be in both filled and not-filled states.

Blogger Emmanuel Mateo-Morales April 01, 2018 8:52 PM  

VOX DAY:

Possibility 1. Laser AA batteries will completely eliminate airforces fullstop.

Possibility 2. Laser AA batteries will NOT completely eliminate airforces fullstop.

There cannot be any other possibilities except these two, very strict, BINARY outcomes.

XD

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 01, 2018 8:53 PM  

Every thought has a conceptual framework. That frame is either capable of containing truth or it is not. If it is not capable of framing truth, I have found no compelling argument that a conceptual frame will fit in a healthy human brain.
More succinctly, every lie points to the Truth.

Blogger Tanjil Bren April 01, 2018 8:54 PM  

"This need to know both the truth and the various not-truths..."
Or, in other words, the complexities of any thing (or system) before its whole can be (better or truly) understood?

Blogger Wynn Lloyd April 01, 2018 8:54 PM  

This is great. A good antidote to dualism. The priest today preached on the sacredness of the human body during the resurrection and last judgement, which is incomprehensible from the standpoint of a binary thinker on the subject, given the common complete condemnation of the flesh and total glorification of the spiritual. Being a binary thinker could be a major drawback for studying natural law, since morality can't easily be divided up into fleshly and spiritual spheres. I know I have a tendency to see the material world as evil, not as redeemed by the Incarnation. Yet the body and soul are intertwined and are both eternal. A good reminder to keep in mind the difference between the abstract world, enabled by conceptual tools, and the actual reality, which exists above and beyond the use of those tools.

This ride demands that one be mentally taller than I am. So I freely admit I could have butchered the ideas. Still, very thought-provoking. Who would have guessed that Buddhist beliefs could serve as a great jumping-off point for the discussion of the Christian faith.

Blogger VD April 01, 2018 9:00 PM  

There cannot be any other possibilities except these two, very strict, BINARY outcomes.

The fact that it is possible to construct some binary possibilities does not mean that binary analysis is relevant to all or even most concepts. You should probably stay out of this discussion, especially if you were under the impression that your comment was amusing.

Blogger Wynn Lloyd April 01, 2018 9:07 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Wynn Lloyd April 01, 2018 9:10 PM  

That's one big difference with leftists. They don't look at society as a whole. They can't grasp that society is a system, which needs functioning, constituent parts to perpetuate itself. Instead, they seem to only be able to look at society from their particular, limited, personal vantage point, where binary thinking is probably a much easier trap to fall into. It's the opposite of taking a bird's eye view of the entire system and thinking holistically.

In dindu-run cities, the leadership often exemplifies this. Bulletproof glass offends dindus, so it's outlawed, but over time the local economy will shrivel up and die, due to the danger placed on local employees, which is a consequence that dindu leaders can't seem to grasp.

Blogger pyrrhus April 01, 2018 9:12 PM  

The complexity of our world is greater than we can imagine...and then we add the Mandela Effect.

Blogger Lazarus April 01, 2018 9:14 PM  

This need to know both the truth and the various not-truths in order to understand something is why binary thinking is not merely limited, it is crippling.

But how many !Truths! do we need to know? They are multifarious.

Considering Peter's experience in denying the Lord 3 times, would that be a good metric to follow?

i.e. Truth versus 3 !Truths!

Blogger Tanjil Bren April 01, 2018 9:18 PM  

"But how many !Truths! do we need to know?"
How many do you think there are?

Blogger Lazarus April 01, 2018 9:24 PM  

@16

Multifarious

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 01, 2018 9:30 PM  

Since Truth is a single person, there can be, conceptually, an infinte variety of !Truth. In practice there are a half-dozen or so.

Blogger seeingsights April 01, 2018 9:32 PM  

Here's something from Infogalactic:

In logic, a many-valued logic (also multi- or multiple-valued logic) is a propositional calculus in which there are more than two truth values. Traditionally, in Aristotle's logical calculus, there were only two possible values (i.e., "true" and "false") for any proposition. Classical two-valued logic may be extended to n-valued logic for n greater than 2. Those most popular in the literature are three-valued (e.g., Łukasiewicz's and Kleene's, which accept the values "true", "false", and "unknown"), the finite-valued (finitely-many valued) with more than three values, and the infinite-valued (infinitely-many valued), such as fuzzy logic and probability logic.

Blogger LES April 01, 2018 9:44 PM  

We live in a world of opposites: positive-negative, on-off, light-dark, alive-dead,
left-right, up-down, in-out, hot-cold, etc.

The first time I became aware of thesis-antithesis was reading Dr. Francis Schaeffer. Philosophically there exists two pre-suppositions: dualism or materialism. God exists or not.

Materialism says that matter is all that exists and the Universe is without meaning or purpose. Yet, people who claim to be atheist live as though their lives have meaning an purpose, even claiming to be spiritual. Schaeffer's modern "line of despair" is when people face up to the logical conclusion that if there is no God, there is no Man, that is, no ultimate meaning to life. You cannot synthesize your way out of that.

Schaeffer posits that since meaning, purpose, truth, beauty, justice, etc. do exist, we can logically hold that those are grounded in ultimate reality, God.

I'm not a philosopher or an expert on Schaeffer, but that is my take on what I remember reading.

Blogger OGRE April 01, 2018 9:47 PM  

@19 if your interested in multivalent logic a good place to start is "Fuzzy Thinking" by Bart Kosko.

Blogger HoosierHillbilly April 01, 2018 10:00 PM  

Interesting bit to chew on. This is somewhat of an inversion of past assumptions. God is Truth and Right. We fallen humans just waddle around on the Wrong side all the time. We can get closer to Truth with God's aid, but always we are Wrong this side of the grave.

Binary? Yep. But our finite minds can't help but try to find Right, as we know we had it once, but lost it. I mean, even the common 2+2=4 we can't get Right. 3 = 1?!

Thanks be to God for offering a future where we might finally know Truth.

Blogger Welsh Woodsman April 01, 2018 10:18 PM  

"If you read here regularly, you've probably encountered me dismissing those prone to attempting to divide everything into very simple conceptual poles.....one cannot reduce all complex matters to such a simple binary equation."

And this is why I read this blog daily. Its a literary oasis. A place where I'm intellectually challenged and stimulated. Unfortunately, the type of thinking that takes place here is rather rare these days. This blog helps to negate that.

Blogger Lovekraft April 01, 2018 10:22 PM  

The scene from the Passion of the Christ where Pontius Pilate asks Jesus (who has been beaten to a bloody pulp) "what is truth?" And Jesus just turns and looks at him and doesn't speak a word, and the scene ends.

There's a lot of message in that little exchange. Sometimes truth is right in front of us but we get caught up in mental gymnastics.

Blogger Uncle John's Band April 01, 2018 10:27 PM  

The notion that a concept necessarily contains within it its opposite is a basis of Derrida's deconstruction (after a fair bit of linguistic chicanery) and then, in turn, to the lunatic feminism of Kristeva and Butler. They dishonestly try and claim that the opposition inheres within the concept itself, therefore negating it. This formation places the coexistence of opposites in the mind of the thinker rather than the thought, avoiding that path to nihilism. I hadn't thought about it from this angle. I like it.

Blogger Rambam April 01, 2018 10:38 PM  

Paradox is the foundation of all truth.

Blogger bob kek mando - ( I love the smell of Autism on the internet. It smells like ... victoREEEEEEEEE ) April 01, 2018 10:42 PM  

2. Nate73 April 01, 2018 8:34 PM
in the dissolution of Yugoslavia the Serbs were favoring centralized control whereas the Croats and Slovenes wanted more autonomy.



that was the popular lie in the News Media. that's not what was really happening at all.

explain why Slovenia was permitted to leave Yugoslavia with almost no drama ( less than 70 killed and less than 400 wounded for both sides, combined, less than two weeks from beginning to end ).

explain why Serbs have no right to self rule while Bosnians, Croatians and Slovenes do.

research the percentage of Serbs living in "Bosnian", "Croatian" and Slovenian territory in 2001.


5. maniacprovost April 01, 2018 8:45 PM
No mere amount of education can eradicate this... it is cultural.


no, you've missed the Social Dominance angle.

to people for whom SD is the over riding concern the "intelligence" or efficacy of any particular plan is almost wholly irrelevant. what is "important" is that THEY be in charge. in fact, the stupider the plan, the more obvious a demonstration of their Social Dominance when they can force other people to follow through with it.


Blogger Zaklog the Great April 01, 2018 11:12 PM  

Niels Bohr: "The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth."

It's easy enough to find illustrations:

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Out of sight out of mind.

Too many cooks spoil the soup.
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed. (Prov. 15:22)

Opposites attract.
Birds of a feather flock together.

Blogger Ahärôwn April 02, 2018 12:01 AM  

This is why I like this blog.

Thank you for the profound thoughts, Vox.

Blogger Jack Amok April 02, 2018 12:25 AM  

The fact that it is possible to construct some binary possibilities does not mean that binary analysis is relevant to all or even most concepts.

A binary thinker would probably say that either someone is a binary thinker or they aren't. And for them, that's the end of it. Life offers up a game of 20 Questions - they stop after asking the first one.

Base-2 still lets you create a lot of different numbers out of a bunch of binary results. Must be hell to go through life with a one-bit processor.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine April 02, 2018 12:51 AM  

"one cannot understand the concept of truth unless one is familiar with the not-truth of falsehood."

"You will be like God, knowing both good and evil."

"except these two, very strict, BINARY outcomes."

"There are two types of people in this world. Those who believe that everything is binary, and those who believe that nothing is binary."

Oh drat Jack, you've spoilt it.

Blogger Zaklog the Great April 02, 2018 12:54 AM  

There are 10 kinds of people in the world: Those who understand binary and those who don't.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 12:54 AM  

@Rambam,
Paradox is an basic illustration that one's logic is based on false premises.
More commonly, paradox is a cheap rhetorical trick almost always based on a strawman.
Paradox virtually NEVER illustrates a truth, and certainly truth is never based in paradox.

Blogger Rambam April 02, 2018 12:59 AM  

Emet =truth
Emunah = Faith, faithfulness
Amen = The idea expressed is of firm trust, acceptance, and reliability.

All from the same root.

The Western mind attempts to explain much but understands little.

A little less conversation, a little more action.

Blogger Rambam April 02, 2018 1:10 AM  

@Whiplash
Ever read Job?

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 1:23 AM  

Yes. Have you read Aquinas?

The Western mind attempts to explain much but understands little.
The Eastern mind makes objectively stupid and contradictory statement, refuses to think, and calls the resultant mishmash of error and absoltism wisdom.

Blogger Rambam April 02, 2018 1:36 AM  

@Whiplash
I am speaking from a Christian perspective. Jesus was a Jew and not a Greek. Your argument is the same as a Roman pagan would make to a Jew in Jesus' time. Thomas Aquinas was 1200 years after Jesus, didn't know Hebrew and was undoubtedly in a similar predicament as you.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 2:10 AM  

@Rambam,
Truth is not dependent on proximity to Jesus in genetics, language, culture, or time.
You're an untutored moron saying objectively stupid things and sneering at your betters.

Blogger Rambam April 02, 2018 2:15 AM  

I beg to differ. Truth is dependent on proximity to Jesus in all the things you mentioned except perhaps genetics. The body of Christ is a spiritual body after all.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 2:16 AM  

And, no, you are not speaking from a Christian perspective. Whether you understand it or not, you a speaking from a Buddhist perspective.

Blogger Rambam April 02, 2018 2:23 AM  

Well as "Buddhist" Christian I wish you great success in your search for Western Intellectual Nirvana.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 2:26 AM  

Demonstrating your opponent's point is not a winning strategy.

Blogger Rambam April 02, 2018 2:28 AM  

Eastern philosophy is not necessarily about winning grasshopper.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 2:29 AM  

So, Hebrew speakers who keep kosher have a better understanding of truth than you do?
Since Aquinas is 800 years closer in time to Christ, does this give him greater insight?
Can you not see you are killing your own, well, argument is the wrong word, your own assertion?

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 2:30 AM  

No, Eastern philosophy is about surrendering to ignorance. Losing is a side effect.

Blogger Rambam April 02, 2018 2:35 AM  

@Whiplash
Argument is not the point here grasshopper. Getting to the genesis of Jesus' thought is and how best to do that. Thomas Aquinas is light years away from what Jesus was about.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 2:37 AM  

Sneering assertions of superiorty are ludicrous coming from you. Jesus was not a philisopher. In a very real and essential way, Jesus' thought is unimportant. He came not to teach, but to die.

Blogger Rambam April 02, 2018 2:41 AM  

He came not to teach, seriously? Who else had the words of life? I thought he taught in parables.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 2:44 AM  

Whatever goes on between your ears, calling it thought is probably an exaggeration.
Jesus is the word of life.

Blogger Rambam April 02, 2018 2:56 AM  

Not sure where you were going there, but yes, Jesus was the Word and the Word dwelt amongst us. Volley to you.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 3:08 AM  

Treating Jesus as a philosopher or merely a teacher is an insult to Him. He did not teach any philosophy whatsoever, and damned little theology.

Blogger Rambam April 02, 2018 3:13 AM  

Hey, you turned Jesus and me into philosophers.
I was telling you like it is. You couldn't handle the "truth".

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 3:15 AM  

No, you weren't "telling it like it is". You were posing.

Blogger Rambam April 02, 2018 3:17 AM  

Nope, never been a poser.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 3:26 AM  

"Paradox is the foundation of truth" is a pose. A moment's reflection would reveal the stupiduty of it to any honest man.

Blogger Rambam April 02, 2018 3:32 AM  

If you can't accept paradox how can you hope to relate to an infinite God? This is basic reward versus punishment, good versus evil, why the righteous suffer and the evil person prospers etc.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine April 02, 2018 3:57 AM  

"Paradox is an basic illustration that one's logic is based on false premises."

"Stereotypes are bad, mmmkay?"

"Dude, stop stereotyping stereotypes."

"If you can't accept paradox how can you hope to relate to an infinite God?"

Very easily. Semantic games and quoting things you heard other people say does not make you clever, Rambam.

Particularly obviously false things. That would make you an idiot at best, and a fool at worst. If you were to say that some truths are situated such that a superficially (read: word games) opposite statement is also true, that would be acceptable.

One could say that a door may be open, and this is true. One can say the opposite, that a door may be shut, and this is also true. This is superficial, because one is not talking about the door entire, but rather about the two different modes that define what a door is, and are specifically opposed modes within that identity.

With relation to God, there is logically no perceptible paradox. God is further up the scale than simple human understanding, and as such, humans are unfit to claim that anything about God is paradoxical.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine April 02, 2018 3:58 AM  

"why the righteous suffer and the evil person prospers etc"

So what you're saying is, you don't believe in Heaven and/or Hell. So much for your erstwhile Christianity.

Blogger Rambam April 02, 2018 3:59 AM  

@Whiplash
You timed out my man. I'm going to bed. Mañana.

Blogger The Kurgan April 02, 2018 4:31 AM  

Indeed.
I would say the observation of the clear clues left all over the place of the existence of the eternal psychopath and his minions were really very instrumental into my eventual baptism.

Blogger yoghi.llama April 02, 2018 4:34 AM  

One of my favourite zen images is the finger pointing at the moon: the moon is the truth, the finger is the either/or verbal concept. The finger can never touch the moon, but it's a reasonable and effective means of pointing at the moon. Some people fixate on the finger instead of the moon, and think the finger is the truth. This is their fault, not that of either the moon or the finger.

My teacher is a retired mathematician who says the mathematical nature of the universe corresponds to paratantra: https://infogalactic.com/info/Asatkalpa

He also likes to quote Vimalamitra who would get very cross with people who denied an external reality. "Don't be *ing stupid, of course there's an external world!" said Vimalamitra. (It's just that it's nothing like what you perceive for now.)

There are some coarse similarities between Buddhist systems of deconstructing thoughts and concepts and Western systems. My fellow Buddhists who are left wing unfortunately sometimes conflate the two. I try to point out that the two systems evolved in very different cultural contexts and had different purposes.

The purpose of the Mahāyāna system is to create a bodhisattva who will manifest the six perfections for three incalculable kalpas and surrender all ego-clinging to be of service to all sentient beings until all have attained enlightenment.

The purpose of the Western system is to eliminate the bourgeoisie and seize the means of production.

They're both relativistic systems, in a sense … but it's not good optics for us to be conflated with the Western relativists.

Blogger wreckage April 02, 2018 5:00 AM  

Liked hearing you just lay out some philosophy, Vox, particularly since it rhymes with my own substantially slower thoughts on the matter.

Blogger wreckage April 02, 2018 5:04 AM  

The foundational stupidity of reductive materialism is that if there is a material description of anything, there is no God. Which assumes God is a material substance that has been displaced by the object.

Blogger Dire Badger April 02, 2018 5:27 AM  

We are in a war. The forces that oppose us are pure evil.

In this case, Binary thinking, (Us versus them) is extraordinarily useful. THEY might not be terribly binary, but the differences between an active opponent, a ravening lunatic liberal, a smarmy smartass trying to get rich, and a passive 'thinker' that never picks a side, are meaningfully irrelevant... They are aiding those that wish to destroy our culture, our species, and our nation.

When you are fighting a war to rebuild a future for your children and grandchildren, is it truly safe to try and 'understand' all the various gradient of enemy, to empathize with them, beyond what is necessary to defeat them? Is the purple-haired campus feminazi really that different from the flaccid fatass doxxing twitter right-to-lifers, or the flamboyant fag prancing in chains wearing little but rainbow body paint and a skirt in a Seattle Parade?

Yes, they are different from each other, and some understanding of their differences will help to tear apart their coalition... but to the average man, Is it really worth understanding these differences beyond knowing that these freaks are EVIL?

Binary thinking is hugely important to winning a war, it always has been. Leave the shades of grey to the commanders, all it will do for the foot soldiers is confuse and demoralize them.

Blogger Uncle John's Band April 02, 2018 6:24 AM  

This is illustrative:

34. Rambam April 02, 2018 12:59 AM
“Emet =truth
Emunah = Faith, faithfulness
Amen = The idea expressed is of firm trust, acceptance, and reliability.”

I don’t think I could find a better illustration of the Talmudic roots of poststructuralism. You’ll have to explain the epistemological legitimacy of your etymological vignette. Unless you believe words are metaphysically transparent, in which case the “Western mind” isn’t the only thing understanding little.

@37 “Jesus was a Jew and not a Greek”

So THIS is why etymology is ontology. Direct question: why were the Gospels written in Greek?

@ 39 “The body of Christ is a spiritual body after all.”

Then why do we care about Hebrew etymology? Or Christ's half-Jewish roots?

@ 56. “If you can't accept paradox how can you hope to relate to an infinite God?”

Jesus. You know - you were just mentioning him. Funny you should speak of a Christian perspective when you misunderstand the Incarnation. Ironic, just after Easter, really.

The initial response to your spray of drivel is to chuckle that incoherence isn’t paradox and move on. Your subsequent evasive dishonesty reveals you to be more than just an idiot. Talmudic roots of poststructuralism indeed…

Blogger Ken Prescott April 02, 2018 8:39 AM  

Binary thinking has its place, along with octal, decimal, and hexadecimal...

Blogger marco moltisanti April 02, 2018 8:42 AM  

Vox, if you know enough German to be capable of reviewing this passage in the original you should be able to read all of Siddharta in the original without too much effort. It's not long and it's written in very simple German. It's a great springboard for learning to read the language well before moving on to tougher authors like Kafka and Mann.

Blogger Aeoli Pera April 02, 2018 9:14 AM  

Ken Prescott wrote:Binary thinking has its place, along with octal, decimal, and hexadecimal...

*Throws tomatoes*

Blogger Avalanche April 02, 2018 9:52 AM  

@6 "And, if the neuroreceptor exists, it must be conceivable for the neuroreceptor to be in both filled and not-filled states."

Only sequentially.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 10:08 AM  

The question to ask, @Rambam, is what is a paradox?
Formally, a paradox is a demonstration that the argument that leads inevitably to result A also leads inevitably to result !A. It is a species of reducto ad absurdam.. It is usually met as an objection to a line of argument, almost always a dishonest objection based on a strawman. All a formal paradox, should it chance to be valud, can tell you is to check your premises, particularly unstated ones.

Conversationally, or more acurately, pseudo-dialectically, a paradox is a set of facts or arguments that seem to the speaker to be contradictiry. A and B are both true, yet A implies !B.
This second type should tell you that you don't really understand one or both apparently contradictory facts, as either A or B is not true, or usually, A does not imply !B. An honest man has no trouble admitting this. A sophist will think so highly of his own argument that he will a$ert all three are true, and truth will be found in the paradox. And a fool will naturally leap to the same conclusion.

All that can actually be found in a paradox is an error, never the truth. It is facile, pseudo-sophisticated, and honestly stupid to assert that truth can be found there.

It is like asserting that intelligence can be found in a failing grade.

Blogger Avalanche April 02, 2018 10:13 AM  

@20 "Schaeffer posits that since meaning, purpose, truth, beauty, justice, etc. do exist, we can logically hold that those are grounded in ultimate reality, God."

I'm currently reading (the Amazon sample; decided last night to buy it): Heretic: One Scientist's Journey from Darwin to Design by Matti Leisola. ("Leisola studied biotechnology and has a degree of Doctor of Science in Technology (1979) from Helsinki University.")

Well written, very interesting. Not convinced yet,but willing to learn. Ties in nicely with The Irrational Atheist by our host. (Ha! I first typed that title as The Irrational Heretic.

I am finding Leisola good to read because he's coming at it (it = the concept of God existing, if that's his point; it's what I am looking for in his book) from (so far) straight science: "Here is what we're finding, and have been finding for many decades (or longer), in genetics and microbiology and so on, which makes pretty clear (probably irrefutable) that it is NOT and could not have been primordial soup and electrical magic! (NOT his phrasing!)

I had given up on Darwinism some years ago from learning the 'Alt Right' versions (they aren't, but they could be) of archeology and paleontology et al. that "science orthodoxy" rejects but won't (can't) explain. CLEARLY Darwin was wrong.

However, the leap from there to "God will finally speak to us through a pure red heifer, and we've got an agency who actually goes out and searches cows' hides for THREE disqualifying white hairs" -- pretty much permanently (so far) puts me off "religion" entirely.

For some struggling with the: "but SCIENCE shows it's can't be any 'intelligent design'" idea, this book seems (so far) a good way to come towards it.

Blogger Avalanche April 02, 2018 10:18 AM  

@28 "Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Out of sight out of mind.

Too many cooks spoil the soup.
et seq."

But none of these ARE truths! They are falsifiable descriptions of things that SOMETIMES apply and sometimes don't. They are sort-of accurate shorthand: e.g., sometimes too many cooks make an EXCELLENT soup!

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 10:26 AM  

Rambam
If you can't accept paradox how can you hope to relate to an infinite God? This is basic reward versus punishment, good versus evil, why the righteous suffer and the evil person prospers etc
This, this right here, is why I gave up dialect. Every songle thing you cite is not "A vs !A" each is an example of the same set of premises arriving at a different result in a different cicumstance. It's an argument of the form "A but err, not, ummm and gee whillkers, A isn't commensurate with my presupposition!" Most of all, none of them is a paradox. They are the mere opposite of paradox.

Blogger Uncle John's Band April 02, 2018 10:31 AM  

@73. Snidely Whiplash

That may just be the high verbal IQ at work.

Blogger Avalanche April 02, 2018 10:35 AM  

@46 " Getting to the genesis of Jesus' thought is and how best to do that. Thomas Aquinas is light years away from what Jesus was about."

And so YOU -- many many hundreds of years FURTHER from Jesus -- do understand His thought and can speak authoritatively about it?

Interesting delusion about time.

Blogger Solaire Of Astora April 02, 2018 10:37 AM  

Jesus came not to teach but to die? Why not both? And I was under the impression that with free will there was a chance, however slight, that the Jews actually would not have rejected him which may have changed the trajectory of his life. Maybe he would have been crucified anyway I can't say but I doubt it was so simple as he came to die and had no other purposes.

OpenID markstoval April 02, 2018 10:41 AM  

Great post, I enjoyed that post. Hell, I even may have understood it.

Funny how the thread turned out since Vox only argued that there are some propositions that are, indeed, binary; but there are many that are not. Perhaps the majority are not according to the post. What is so controversial about that?

The philosophers and the mathematicians tell us to get our definitions sorted out first. Often we are debating two different things and neither party realizes it.

Students ask if pi is 3.14 or 3.1416. I normally tell them that pi is irrational, just like most women, but 3.14 will do for this course. I am trying to say that the situation, vocabulary, and our needs often determine which "answer" is the "truth".

And that is my 2 cents worth. (but is that adjusted for inflation?)

Blogger bob kek mando - ( I love the smell of Autism on the internet. It smells like ... victoREEEEEEEEE ) April 02, 2018 10:42 AM  

Vox will make a new post today.
vs
Vox will not make a new post today.

the opposite is as True as the Truth.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 10:44 AM  

It's just that it's nothing like what you perceive for now.
And he can demonstrate this, how exactly? This is an argument from contradiction, which in the end is always an argument from personal authority. The assertion is it's own disproof.
Buddhists always look at me funny when I tell them that the Buddha encountered the problem of ontology, and promptly crawled up his own asshole in response. This is an illustration of someone who followed him up there.

Blogger Cool Guy449xx_420 April 02, 2018 12:15 PM  

My autism is trying desperately to visualize this. It's appearing as a set of pyramids.
I really enjoy these types of posts. More on the three types of thinking, pls.

Blogger Cool Guy449xx_420 April 02, 2018 12:17 PM  

Hahaha
Yeah, sorta.

Blogger Martin April 02, 2018 1:02 PM  

Anyone who would willingly take the moniker (((Rambam))) would have to be either an avowed Talmudist or a troll. This particular Rambam's intellectual posturing demonstrates that he does so in full knowledge of his namesake's double-mindedness, which which he is in sympathy.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 1:10 PM  

@ Martin,
I don't mind that so much as the sneering idiocy.

Blogger VD April 02, 2018 3:35 PM  

Nope, never been a poser.

That is observably untrue.

Blogger Resident Moron™ April 02, 2018 4:54 PM  

"e.g., sometimes too many cooks make an EXCELLENT soup!"

There are times when the level of intellectual discourse here humbles me.

This is not one of them.

If the soup is excellent then by definition there were NOT "too many cooks".

Blogger Resident Moron™ April 02, 2018 5:02 PM  

Interesting thread though, given that my own experience of binary thinking is heavily dominated by people for whom "You disagree with me and are therefore bad and wrong!" is the only absolute truth.

Apologies to Avalanche if my last comment came across as insulting - I didn't intend that but on re-reading it it doesn't seem as playful as I intended.

Blogger VD April 02, 2018 5:20 PM  

You're banned and spammed, Rambam. Don't comment here again.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 5:38 PM  

Yep, Gamma.

Blogger VD April 02, 2018 6:33 PM  

What part of "don't comment here" is hard for gammas to understand?

No one is spammed because I am afraid of them or lack the ability to address their arguments. They are spammed because I do not like them and I do not believe they add any value to the discourse.

So, go away. It's not that hard. It's a big Internet.

Blogger Dirk Manly April 02, 2018 7:20 PM  

"The complexity of our world is greater than we can imagine...and then we add the Mandela Effect."

You mean the fact that stupid people often
a) forget important events
b) remember important events wrong
or even C) weren't even aware of the important event in the first place

Blogger Jack April 02, 2018 7:58 PM  

This reminds me of two things from the classics of East and West. The first is the second verse of the Dao De Jing, in which Laozi says:

"Recognize beauty and ugliness is born.
Recognize good and evil is born.
Being and non-being produce each other."

It's a similar idea but it misses the mark by regarding being and non-being as equal, like in the symbol of Yin and Yang. Good doesn't need evil, but apparently we need evil in order to recognize the good.

The second is Plato's contention in The Republic that this world is a mix of being and non-being. He didn't make the same mistake of not seeing the supremacy of being over non-being, and also recognized that the Supreme Good is even beyond being.

Blogger Dirk Manly April 02, 2018 8:30 PM  

@25

"Apply Derrida's deconstruction to .. "

I suggest that you apply Derrida's deconstruction to Derrida's Deconstructionism.

Deconstructionism only survives if Deconstructionism is a false argument.

Therefore, Deconstructionism is an absolutely useless tool for evaluating ANYTHING.

Q.E.D.


Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 02, 2018 10:34 PM  

Damn, he just can't quit you, Vox.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash April 03, 2018 12:15 AM  

Although he's prividing plentyvof evidence that he's queer for middle aged comic villians in opera cape and stovepipe hat.

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