This is part 1, “Coming to Terms,” of the five-part essay “Proving Morality.”
Through the Manosphere hyperlinks—specifically a great article by Frost—I discovered Koanic Soul (koanicsoul.com). I am going to comment on the material there under the rubric and menu item “Mathematical Proof That The Supernatural Exists,” to wit the blog posts ‘May 19th 2012 archive of, “Mathematical Proof That The Supernatural Exists”’ and “Evidence That Christianity Is True.” My goal is to demonstrate critical thinking and analysis by example, and to dispel bullshit in the seedling protoculture I love. Where we each draw the boundaries of the Manosphere will differ, and we have factions within, which is entirely good given the inescapable nature of our mortal existence, but idea competition is work for the thinking man. This essay in five parts will be work.
I begin by critiquing the proof of the first post, the main text of which begins:
You should only attempt to read this proof if you have at least read the Wikipedia pages for Descartes’ “Discourse on Method” and “Meditations on First Philosophy”, and Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” and “Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics”.
Otherwise, it won’t make any sense – like reading a calculus proof when you only know algebra.
The one exception would be if you’re the sort of genius who can intuitively grasp an entire field from a few contextual hints. In this particular case, I estimate such a feat would require a verbal IQ of at least 150, possibly much higher.
I have an IQ (regular) only in the lower 130s, and still I did not bother to follow the links. The author groups his logic into four sets labeled A–D and a conclusion with commentary. No math is used in his mathematical proof: it’s a logical proof as far as my suspect perspicacity can discern. I’ll give the proof to you piece by piece with my commentary.
1a. You cannot be deceived that your conscious awareness is real and actually existing.
This is proven in Descartes, and is taken here as given. It is an a posteriori synthetic knowledge based on analysis plus the experience of consciousness.
2a. Your conscious awareness contains only that which you are aware of.
Purely analytic statement, definitionally true.
3a. Therefore, what you are aware of is real and actually existing.
Law used: Substitution.
Basically, Descartes said, “I think; therefore, I am.” It’s hard to find fault with that propositional implication. In fact, I totally agree with it. It is impossible to not have faith and use your computational capacity. Computation requires initial data to seed its interpretive calculations. Faith in thinking that one’s thinking about thinking is thinking, and thinking that thinking is proof of existence of the thinker is about as small of a leap and risk of data error as one can find to get the logical mind started.
I am thinking in terms analogous to functional computer design. The approach is justified on functional terms unbound by assumptions of implementation. Such was Freud’s approach to the derivation of psychoanalysis. Function analysis was used by Descartes in the aforementioned reasoning. The human ability to learn and become culturally assimilated, and to forget, and learn something else is suggestive of computation and computers. We have hardware that is fixed as circuitry and software that is loaded into specialized computational circuitry.
Computation with a computer is a process of deterministically organized data operations of reading and writing to move, ‘erase’ (overwrite or ignore), and mathematically generate data using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. What makes computation special as a machine design is the flexibility in interpretation of the data, not the basic operations on the data. Bits can be interpreted as integers or floating point numbers. A ‘97’ could be interpreted as a letter ‘A’, as an offset to access an indexed array element within a string of linearly stored values, or as the strength of the red channel for a pixel normalized with respect to a maximum value of 255. The basic operations are very limited, but the possibilities of interpretive construction are virtually infinite. In practice with computers, that data is binary or comprised of only two types of atomic values labeled as ‘0’s and ‘1’s.
What I am getting at is how ‘perception is reality’. The software creates a virtual reality only by deferential execution of the computational hardware in physical reality. To generalize here, we have a reality dependency where some Reality B is dependent upon Reality A. Whether human heads or computers, we see this dependency. The softerware depends on the harderware. The softer reality depends on the harder reality. A video rendering is limited by the computational speed of the employed processors, by the access speed and capacity of data storage, faster but volatile in the case of memory and slower but nonvolatile in the case of quote-unquote ‘storage’, and perhaps by the availability of electricity from the local power company.
Returning to consideration of the content of Set A, a posteriori knowledge is knowledge gained by deduction applied to the inputs of observation and any resultant logical constructs as a shorthand. A posteriori refers to inductive reasoning, meaning from the specific to the general, and also refers to reasoning from empirical evidence to general theory. Synthetic knowledge is knowledge of the general deduced by knowledge of the specific. Synthetic refers to generalizing analysis, as does induction. Thus, ‘an a posteriori synthetic knowledge based on analysis plus the experience of consciousness’ is inductive reasoning that begins with inputs of observation and creates a general system of propositions regarded as knowledge. Knowledge has a level of sophistication and worth based on the utility of using its propositions to interpret observations not utilized to create the propositions. Observations not fitting the assumptions of the reasoning that generated the knowledge can NOT be expected to fit the interpretation of that knowledge except by coincidence.
More will be said on the distinction of coincidence and causality later in this post. Suffice it to say now that coincidence is not causality and than knowledge presupposes a causality to give it reliability of interpretation and expectation. Knowledge accurately based upon causality allows for prediction of unspecified details from specified or given details. Theory is tested by empirical testing under conditions meeting the theory’s assumptions. If a theory fails generic empirical testing, it is not valid as a theory, though it could be a general rule. If we know the radius of a circle, we know the circumference from the knowledge (theory) that the proportionality of a circle’s circumference to its radius is always 2π, independent of other considerations including size or orientation of the circle. We could measure several circles, form the hypothesis of proportionality, and then test it on more circles, possibly by way of peer review or by participant studies where different persons measure only the radius or the circumference of unfamiliar circles.
I’ve beat to death the reasoning of proposition 1a (in Set A) for a reason. It is a reasonable proposition of seminal profundity. Proposition 2a is true by definition, though it would be too simplistic in a situation like quantum mechanics where the nature of things is probabilistic or otherwise not discrete, like catching the elevator with only your arm. My point is that there is a hidden assumption that must be honored for any resulting knowledge to be applied correctly. Freud’s derivation of psychoanalysis shows how fuzzy our consciousnesses can be, but for the purposes of the proof at hand, I fully accept the tautology because I accept the concept of ‘conscious awareness’ definitively bound per some yes-or-no threshold for the sake of discussion.
The conclusive proposition of Set A is 3a: “Therefore, what you are aware of is real and actually existing.” He arrives at 3a essentially by substituting the phrase ‘your conscious awareness’ with the phrase ‘you are aware of’ in proposition 1a. So far, so good. I agree with Set A. There is a devil in the details, and I have hinted at it already.
Blind faith is the courage substitute of choice for the mentally weak.
—‘Reality’ Doug, 29 April 2013