On Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 5:50 PM, Stephen Paul King <stephe...@charter.net> wrote:
> On Tue, Nov 2, 2010 at 8:24 PM, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> "if laws were contingent, they would change so frequently, so
>> frenetically, that we would never be able to grasp anything
>> whatsoever, because none of the conditions for the stable
>> representation of objects would ever obtain. In short, if causal
>> connection were contingent, we would know it so well that we
>> would no longer know anything. As can be seen, this
>> argument can only pass from the notion of contingency to the
>> notion of frequency given the presupposition that it is
>> extraordinarily improbable that the laws should remain
>> constant rather than being modified in every conceivable way
>> at every moment."
> Here we have what appears to be a well reasoned argument until
> we inquire as to the definition of the term "to know" that is
> used. If an entity exists in a universe subject to frequent
> and contingent change what is to allow the mind of that entity
> the ability to have the ability to know anything at all? The
> entity and its brain/mind would be subject to the very same
> capricious randomness that the rest of that universe undergoes
> and thus the notion of knowing becomes null and void.
If an entity exists in a universe that is subject to unchanging causal
laws, how can it have justified true beliefs (a.k.a. knowledge)
If the entity's beliefs are the result of some more fundamental
underlying process, then those beliefs aren't held for reasons of
logic or rationality.
Rather, the entity holds the beliefs that are necessitated by the
initial conditions and causal laws of it's universe.
Those initial conditions and causal laws *may* be such that the entity
holds true beliefs, but there is no requirement that this be the case
(for example, our own universe produces a fair number of delusional
So holding true beliefs, even in a universe with causal laws, is
purely a matter of luck - i.e., is the entity in question lucky enough
to live in a universe with initial conditions and causal laws that
lead to it holding true beliefs.
Further, if the initial conditions and causal laws don't cause the
entity to present and believe true rational arguments, there would be
no way for the entity to ever detect this, since there is no way to
step outside of the universe's control of one's beliefs to
independently verify the "reasonableness" of the beliefs it generates.
Again...schizophrenics are generally pretty convinced of the truth of
Even in a lawful universe how do you justify your beliefs? And then
how do you justify your justifications of your beliefs? And then how
do you justify the justifications of the justifications of your
beliefs? And so on. Agrippa's Trilemma.
So. Given the capricious randomness involved in the selection of the
entity's universe's initial conditions and causal laws (of which the
vast majority of conceivable combinations would result in false
beliefs) the notion of knowing becomes null and void.
Neither Meillassoux's scenario nor the "lawful universe" scenario
allow for knowledge. In both cases, holding true beliefs is a matter
of luck, and no belief can be justified (not even the belief that no
belief can be justified).
> Does Meillassoux not understand anything about
> calculus, analysis, computational complexity
> theory or other higher mathematics?
Perhaps you could be a little more specific in exactly how you feel he
exposed his ignorance?
> OTOH, to wonder which infinity the set of all
> possible worlds belongs to is not trivial matter
I think Meillassoux's main point with this digression into Cantorian
set theory is that just as there can be no end to the process of set
formation and thus no such thing as the totality of all sets, there is
also no absolute totality of all possible cases.
In other words, there is no "set of all possible worlds". And thus
"we cannot legitimately construct any set within which the foregoing
probabilistic reasoning could make sense."
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