On 2/24/07, Tom Caylor <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:

> On Feb 23, 3:59 am, "Stathis Papaioannou" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> > On 2/23/07, Tom Caylor <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> >
> > > My point in quoting Kronecker was to simply to allude to the fact that
> > > the foundations of mathematics are axiomatic in a similar way that
> > > ultimate meaning is ultimate.  We have a feeling that the foundation
> > > of math is ultimately right, even though we can't prove it.  In my
> > > "logical reason" (reason #1 a few posts back), I am simply arguing for
> > > realism (vs. positivism).  Your arguments that you are trying to
> > > enforce here would apply equally well (if valid) to realism in general
> > > (not just God), and therefore put you in the positivist camp.
> >
> > > Tom
> >
> > Positivists don't like metaphysics, but even if you allow that
> metaphysics
> > isn't all just nonsense, you have to maintain some sort of standards.
> How do
> > you weed out those metaphysical beliefs which *are* just nonsense?
> >
> > Stathis Papaioannou
> I agree that positivists don't like metaphysics, and they actually
> don't believe in it either.  The problem with this is that science is
> ultimately based on (and is inescapably in the context of) some kind
> of metaphysics, since it is in the context of the universe as a whole.
> There are some ways of sorting out metaphysics.  In fact these
> criteria are mostly the same as how we sort out science (since, again,
> science is based on metaphysics).  These are such things as
> fundamentality, generality and beauty.  However, the fact that science
> conventionally has been limited to the "material" (whatever that
> means!) implies that the criteria of naturality (a viscious circle
> actually!) and reproducibility (another vicious circle) that we have
> in science cannot be applied to the universe as a whole or to
> metaphysics.
> [Side note: But even more important is to recognize that metaphysics,
> as well as science, is filtered for us: we are part of the universe
> and we are limited.  So this filters out almost everything.  This
> limits more than anything the amount of "sense" we can make out of
> Everything.]
> However the criterion that you are trying to enforce, that of all
> things having a cause even in the context of Everything and Everyone,
> is a positivist criteria, treating metaphysics as science.  It assumes
> that Everything has to be part of this closed system of cause and
> effect.  There are plenty of criteria to sort out Everything (as I've
> mentioned above) without getting into the positivist viscious circle.

The universe is not under any obligation to reveal itself to us. All we can
do is stumble around blindly gathering what data we can and make a best
guess as to what's going on. Science is just a systematisation of this
process, with guesses taking the form of models and theories. However, it's
all tentative, and the scientific method itself is tentative: tomorrow pigs
might sprout wings and fly, even though this has never happened before. I
would bet that pigs will still be land-bound tomorrow, because there is no
reason to think otherwise, but I have to stop short of absolute certainty. A
metaphysical position would be that flying pigs are an absurdity or an
anathema and therefore pigs absolutely *cannot* fly. But it is arrogant as
well as wrong to create absolute certainty, absolute meaning, or absolute
anything else by fiat, just because that's what you fancy. If there are some
things we can't know with certainty or can't know at all, that may be
unfortunate, but it's the way the world is.

Stathis Papaioannou

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