On 7/12/2010 7:56 PM, Allen Rex wrote:
On Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 2:27 PM, Brent Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com>  wrote:
You don't spell out what this principle of facticity is, but it seems that
it refers not to the world, but to our explanations of the world.
So the first sentence says:  “I call 'facticity' the absence of reason
for any reality”

You mean the absence of a sufficient reason for any piece of reality?

In his book “After Finitude”, Meillassoux explains that the principle
of facticity (which he also refers to as “the principle of unreason”)
stands in contrast to Leibniz’s “Principle of Sufficient Reason”,
which states that anything that happens does so for a definite reason.

> From pg. 33 of After Finitude:

“But we also begin to understand how this proof [the ontological proof
of God] is intrinsically tied to the culmination of a principle first
formulated by Leibniz, although already at work in Descartes, viz.,
the principle of sufficient reason, according to which for every
thing, every fact, and every occurence, there must be a reason why it
is thus and so rather than otherwise.

For not only does such a principle require that there be a possible
explanation for every worldly fact; it also requires that thought
account for the unconditioned totality of beings,

Why "thought"?

as well as for their
being thus and so.  Consequently, although thought may well be able to
account for the facts of the world by invoking this or that global law
- nevertheless, it must also, according to the principle of reason,
account for why these laws are thus and not otherwise, and therefore
account for why the world is thus and not otherwise.  And even were
such a ‘reason for the world’ to be furnished, it would yet be
necessary to account for this reason, and so on ad infinitum.

If thought is to avoid an infinite regress while submitting to the
principle of reason,

Why does it need to avoid an infinite regress? Maybe reality is like an infinite set of Russian dolls. Actually my favorite is the virtuous circle of reasons. You just follow it around until you find one you understand.

it is incumbent upon it to uncover a reason that
would prove capable of accounting for everything,

Who says it's incumbent...and why should I care?

including itself - a
reason no conditioned by any other reason, and which only the
ontological argument is capable of uncovering, since the latter
secures the existence of an X through the determination of this X
alone, rather than through the determination of some entity other than
X - X must be because it is perfect, and hence causa sui, or sole
cause of itself.

If every variant of dogmatic metaphysics is characterized by the
thesis that *at least one entity* is absolutely necessary (the thesis
of real necessity) it becomes clear how metaphysics culminates in the
thesis according to which *every* entity is absolutely necessary (the
principle of sufficient reason).  Conversely, to reject dogmatic
metaphysics means to reject all real necessity,

Why "all"? Quantum mechanics already rejects some necessity and replaces it with probabilities - but not "all"; instead it recovers necessities in certain limits (eigenfunctions, decoherence,...).

and a fortiori to
reject the principle of sufficient reason, as well as the ontological
argument, which is the keystone that allows the system of real
necessity to close in upon itself.  Such a refusal enjoins one us to
maintain that there is no legitimate demonstration that a determinate
entity should exist unconditionally.”

It is explanations that may be contradictory, not facts.
Pg. 60:

“We are no longer upholding a variant of the principle of sufficient
reason, according to which there is a necessary reason why everything
is the way it is rather than otherwise, but rather the absolute truth
of a *principle of unreason*.  There is no reason for anything to be
or to remain the way it is; everything must, without reason, be able
not to be and/or be other than it is.

What we have here is a principle, and even, we could say, an
anhypothetical principle; not in the sense in which Plato used this
term to describe the Idea of the Good, but rather in the Aristotelian
sense.  By ‘anhypothetical principle’, Aristotle meant a fundamental
proposition that could not be deduced from any other, but which could
be proved by argument.  This proof, which could be called ‘indirect’
or ‘refutational’, proceeds not by deducing the principle from some
other proposition - in which case it would no longer count as a
principle - but by pointing out the inevitable inconsistency into
which anyone contesting the truth of the principle is bound to fall.
One establishes the principle without deducing it, by demonstrating
that anyone who contests it can do so only by presupposing it to be
true, thereby refuting him or herself.  Aristotle sees in
non-contradiction precisely such a principle, one that is established
‘refutationally’ rather than deductively, because any coherent
challenge to it already presupposes its acceptance.  Yet there is an
essential difference between the principle of unreason and the
principle of non-contradiction; viz. what Aristotle demonstrates
‘refutationally’ is that no one can *think* a contradiction, but he
has not thereby demonstrated that contradiction is absolutely
impossible.  Thus the strong correlationist could contrast the
facticity of this principle to its absolutization - she would
acknowledge that she cannot think contradiction, but she would refuse
to acknowledge that this proves its absolute impossibility.  For she
will insist that nothing proves that what is possible in-itself might
not differ toto caelo from what is thinkable for us.  Consequently the
principle of non-contradiction is anhypothetical with regard to what
is thinkable, but not with regard to what is possible.”

The trouble with the principle of non-contradiction is that it's application is only to statements of the form "X and not-X". In realistic cases which are of the form "If Y then not-X. And X." It is sometimes the case that the conditional turns out to be false.

Continuing on pg. 77:

“It could be objected that we have conflated contradiction and
inconsistency.  In formal logic, an ‘inconsistent system’ is a formal
system all of whose well-formed statements are true.  If this formal
system comprises the operator of negation, we say that an axiomatic is
inconsistent if *every* contradiction which can be formulated within
it is true.  By way of contrast, a formal system is said to be
non-contradictory when (being equipped with the operator of negation)
it does not allow *any* contradiction to be true.  Accordingly, it is
perfectly possible for a logical system to *be* contradictory without
thereby being inconsistent - all that is required is that it give rise
to *some* contradictory statements which are true, without permitting
*every* contradiction to be true.  This is the case with
‘paraconsistent’ logics, in which some but not all contradictions are
true.  Clearly then, for contemporary logicians, it is not
non-contradiction that provides the criterion for what is thinkable,
but rather inconsistency.  What every logic - as well as every logos
more generally - wants to avoid is a discourse so trivial that it
renders every well-formulated statement, as well as its negation,
equally valid.  But contradiction is logically thinkable so long as it
remains ‘confined’ within limits such that it does not entail the
truth of every contradiction.”

Yes, I'm familiar with Graham Priest.

And so the principle
reduces to the well known one that every explanation is in terms of
something else (hopefull something we understand better).
If every explanation is explained in terms of something else, this
leads to the infinite regress that Meillassoux refers to in the above
passage, right?

Not necessarily.  It may lead to a circle of explanations..

Are you making the claim that there is no final explanation, but
rather that every explanation itself has an explanation - so there are
an infinite number of explanatory layers?

I'm not making any claim.  I'm pointing out possibilities.

And further, that there is no first cause?  That there are an infinite
number of causes in our past?

A first cause wouldn’t be explainable in terms of something else, would it?

Neither would a final explanation, I wouldn’t think...

Maybe there are two or three or 42 "first" causes. Or maybe there are some higher cardinality of "first" causes.

We may have a complete explanation of reality - but we can never know that
we do.
An explanation that explained itself and the rest of the universe also?

An explanation doesn't need to explain itself since it is an explanation - not part of reality.

Or are you saying that we could have a complete explanation, but no
reason for why that explanation holds?


But in that case, it wouldn’t be a “complete” explanation of reality, would it?

Sure it would.


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