On Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 12:06 AM, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
>> 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?

No, I imagine he means what he says.  Any reality.

I assume you were going to say something about quantum indeterminancy
here?  Or am just I being paranoid?

>> 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"?

Why not thought?  What’s wrong with the use of thought there?

He’s French, he does things like that.

>> If thought is to avoid an infinite regress while submitting to the
>> principle of reason,
> Why does it need to avoid an infinite regress?

An infinite regress in a series of propositions arises if the truth of
proposition P1 requires the support of proposition P2, and for any
proposition in the series Pn, the truth of Pn requires the support of
the truth of Pn+1. There would never be adequate support for P1,
because the infinite sequence needed to provide such support could not
be completed.

Distinction is made between infinite regresses that are "vicious" and
those that are not. One definition given is that a vicious regress is
"an attempt to solve a problem which re-introduced the same problem in
the proposed solution. If one continues along the same lines, the
initial problem will recur infinitely and will never be solved. Not
all regresses, however, are vicious."

Trying to find a reason for a reason for a reason...seems like the
vicious kind of infinite regress.

Hey, look, the “The Münchhausen-Trilemma”!  I’ll read that tomorrow.
Arguing with Brent has paid dividends yet again!

> 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.

Why would reality be that way instead of some other way?  Why our
particular circle of reasons instead of some other circle?  Why not a
vicious circle instead of a virtuous one?

>> 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?

Quentin Meillassoux...and because you’re intellectually curious?

Actually, you’re more intellectually grumpy I think.

> 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,...).

Quantum mechanical laws would still enforce the necessity of one
probability distribution instead of some other, wouldn’t they?

The probabilistic aspect takes place within the fixed and unchanging
context of quantum mechanics.

Like the randomness of the shuffle takes places within the
deterministic rules of poker.

Do the rules of poker change from one day to the next?  The suits?
The number of cards in the deck?  Are those aspects random?

Does quantum mechanics have similarly fixed aspects?  Do new
fundamental forces pop in and out of existence?  Are there days when
electromagnetism doesn’t work?

And if not, why not?  What enforces the consistent application of the
QCD and QED and gravity?  And what enforces the consistent application
of that enforcement?  And what enforces the enforcement of the
consistent application of the enforcement?  And so on.

Is there a sufficient reason for these things?  Or is this just the
way it works, for no reason?

>> 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.

Splendid.  His wikipedia entry says that he is 3rd Dan, International
Karate-do Shobukai; 4th Dan, Shi’to Ryu, and an Australian National
Kumite Referee and Kata Judge.

>> 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..

Why that circle of explanations instead of some other circle of
explanations?  Why a circle instead of a line of explanations?  Why a
circle instead of some crazy cyclic graph of explanations?

Why any explanations at all?

>> 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 I appreciate the effort you put into it.

>> 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.

None of which would be explainable in terms of anything else, would
they?  This comment was a bit of a non sequitur.

>>> 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.

Explanations aren’t real?

If I explain the color of my pen by reference to photons, you’re
saying photons aren’t “real”, in some sense?

Electromagnetism isn’t “real”...there are no laws, no necessities,
just experiential events that we fit “unreal explanations” to as
calculational devices?

I’m fine with that view.  Though it should probably be made more
explicit to the general public I think.

>>> Or are you saying that we could have a complete explanation, but no
>>> reason for why that explanation holds?
>> Yes.
>>> But in that case, it wouldn’t be a “complete” explanation of reality, would
>>> it?
> Sure it would.

If electromagnetism explains why things happen one way rather than the
other, then what explains electromagnetism?  If the answer is “I don’t
know,” then we don’t have a “complete” explanation of reality.

“It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it
exists.”  -- Ludwig Wittgenstein, 6.44, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

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