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Posted by Luis Hamburgh on June 14, 2002 14:33:40 UTC

Hello Harv,

A normal person would be able to post this immediately (I saved it yesterday afternoon when the site went down), but I'm rarely able to read my own stuff without making a thousand changes, especially the next day (rolls eyes)...

>>>"I don't (think) this particular SAP (strong anthropic principle) approach jives with our many of our observations."

Let's get our terms straight here: your position is the SAP; mine is the WAP. Your opening paragraph is a very accurate portrayal of the SAP position.

>>>"You are not inventing a new position here, you are stating an ancient philosophical position."

As someone who has debated Stafford regularly, you might be inclined to read into the remarks of others an attitude of self-importance, but when I identify ideas as mine I'm simply distinguishing them from yours, theirs, etc. I know these ideas are not original, and I hope I haven't come across otherwise.

>>>"All I have to do is show severe weaknesses of materialism and then we have reason to doubt it."

Aha! There are but two ways you might logically show any sort of weakness in an argument's premise: through empiricism or inference. And since any empirical means would have to be materially based, you are forced to base your premise on pure inference. Thus, your premise is the absolute opposite of mine, and as such it's no wonder our conclusions are usually diametrically opposed to one another (hence the name of my last post).

Your desired conclusion is that something exists beyond the material level. But this means your argument is best if it can conclude the validity of pure inference based upon the premise that pure inference is valid.

You might be inclined to ascribe to my stance a similarly circular manifestation, but there is an important distinction: unless you wrap up your entire argument (against materialism) as "I'm just guessing here," you must use the devices I espouse in order to criticize the devices I espouse!

Importantly, your position is nonfalsifiable, as it is essentially the assertion, there is something beyond that which we can show.

>>>"Logic doesn't actually exist as far as materialism is concerned."

Sure it does. But it doesn't meet your definition of "existence," because you've presumed there to be "something deeper" than anything materialism itself can ever account for. No matter how robust the materialist argument, your premise is built to regard it as somehow less momentous than yours. How in the world could someone even hope to argue with that?

>>>"Materialism suffers in its inability to explain mathematical, logical, and physical laws."

What? Okay, I admit it I'm horrible with labels, but whatever position I espouse does not "suffer an inability to explain mathematical, logical, and physical laws." Indeed, it explains mathematical, logical, and physical laws quite superbly.

>>>"Tarski's theory of truth is based on satisfaction which for all practical purposes can only mean what humans find satisfying"

Tarski's theory is fully compatible with "materialism" (quoted now, because I don't think my position is exactly what you think it is). Since we're genetically suited to thrive in our surroundings, evolution suggests that we would tend to continue the very same type of growth that has allowed us to conform to (the rest of) the world/universe.

>>>"Your explanation of why humans seek spiritual meaning is a material one and therefore it does not satisfy the ultimate human quest for truth and meaning."

By describing an emotional impulse as "the ultimate human quest for truth" your position dismisses any attempts to logically examine itself. Why?

Do you not agree it's more sensible to examine an urge than it is to simply accept the desire to satisfy it? And what does it say of us if we simply accept instincts as some unexplainable compass guiding us towards truth? Why reject the logical examination of such instincts? How is it damaging to the "materialist" if he cannot satisfy an urge with his explanation?

One can logically explain an emotion, and one can logically explain the impulse of emotions. In the process, one might very well explain why somebody feels satisfied throughout or after an emotional experience. You may not agree with the explanations, but an examination of our urges can most certainly be a "materialistic" examination of satisfaction.

For instance, in "materialistic" terminology I might explain the processes which caused a young man to attempt ravaging a scantily-dressed young woman at a particular beach. But does the fact that my explanation cannot satisfy this young man's urges make my argument any less valid? How absurd!

(Of course, the needs you speak of are exceedingly more complex than the hormonal drive to reproduce, but I think these urges stem from emotions as well. As such I feel my example is a fitting one.)

>>>"I think ultimately it comes down to what is internalistically meaningful to your senses of the world and this is another way of saying that it is the most satisfying to your experience of the world..."

...which is entirely consistent with the "materialist" notion that we and the universe evolve together. In fact, is this not compatible with the Pantheist/Panentheist position?

>>>"We can identify through reason that nature follows rules... If you want to know if the universe is mathematically ordered, then you do experiments using mathematical structured theories and you see if those predictions match very closely with your observations."

This underscores why Stafford used to get so frustrated with you. You agree that the universe and we evolve together (some might say "as one"), and you agree that we know (the rest of) the universe through our senses, but you can't seem to make the connection that what we identify through reason is simply a reflection of the notion that we AND the universe evolve together.

>>>"To even doubt our observations..."

Sorry I don't exactly fit into whatever box you'd like to put me in, but I don't doubt that what I see is real. If I hallucinate, maybe my interpretation of reality is wrong, but nothing unreal exists.

(I think I mistakenly allowed you -- for a long time, too -- to label me as "antirealist," but the fact is I am not. The "deeper" meaning of things that you perceive is, in my view, the real imputed characteristic of reality. Reality is reality. To ask "why" is begging the question of a higher intelligence. "Why" is your way of imputing human motivations into a higher sentience, when all I assert is that our ability to recognize reality is just another part of reality.)

>>>"what happens when we say that human satisfaction is not a major concern when talking about materialist truths?"

Human satisfaction is the focus of what I was discussing in our last post... indeed, it seems I'm on the verge of getting right back into the same stuff I was bringing up in our last conversation.

(I hope this doesn't mean you might again "lose interest.")

>>>"To speak in terms of logical consistency... especially when they say logic doesn't actually exist."

Who's saying "logic doesn't exist in nature"? Not I! I'm saying that our co-evolution with the seemingly inanimate universe is part and parcel of our ability to recognize and react to certain consistent configurations in nature and ourselves.

What I am saying is much the same as what Stafford says. Indeed, as you pointed out, the idea has been around for eons (figuratively). Only most of us don't claimed to have proven it in 1960 (rolls eyes, again).


(I think, in fleshing out this response, I've clarified -- for myself if for no one else -- exactly why Stafford causes so much controversy in rooms like this. It's a familiar and old philosophy, only this version comes with numbers attached. Some readers might fuse their realization of the meaning of the philosophical position itself with Stafford's work, and come away with the mistaken notion that the philosophical stance is Stafford's own idea!)

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