Re: virus: Religion, Zen, post-structuralism, and the

John ''!Boolean'' Williams (
Tue, 10 Jun 1997 08:32:05 -0400

At 11:10 PM 6/9/97 -0600, you wrote:

>> >Can't one have
>> >faith in anything smaller than a world-view?
>> [John's reply snipped]
>Yes, I understand what you mean by "paradigm". You didn't answer
>the question though.

Sorry, thought I had; then saw the *other* question. I think in a
colloquial sense, one can have faith in something smaller than a
world-view, but for purposes of discussions of world-interpretive faiths,
it's best to limit it to paradigm.

>> The "Deep Structure" is how people percieve Objective Reality; thus it
>> cannot be Objective Reality itself. Consider structures to be patterns of
>> thought. the Deep Structure is the struture at the core of all of these
>> other structures, which are faulty. The Deep Structure is directly
>> connected to the Objective Reality, and it is the obscuring of this
>> structure that causes other structures.
>So reality doesn't have any instrinsic patterns? Any organization that
>we might perceive is imposed by the mind? (I don't agree, I just want
>to make sure that is what you are claiming.)

Humn... I don't see how you got *that* out of the preceding paragraph. But
no, that's not what I'm claiming. I'm claiming that reality may:
a) not have any intrinisic patterns, and any organization we percieve is
imposed by the mind
b) reality has an intrinsic pattern that we percieve imperfectly because of
our interior position in reality; ie, we cannot observe it without being
involved in it.

Personally, I believe that from some vantage point, someplace, it is
possible to see how it all makes sense; even if it *is* merely biochemestry
and physics, and conciousness is an illusion.

>> Logic can be seen, then, as the
>> "Deep Structure" that drives Objective Reality, and we are capable of
>> percieving that Objective Reality only through correct and accurate use of
>> Logic.
>> You note that this assumes that we understand exactly how Logic relates to
>> the universe, and that we believe that we have a complete grasp of it
>> already, with nothing new to be added to our knowledge of Logic; and also,
>> that no "interpretation" occurs when one is using Logic.
>No, we don't understand exactly how logic relates to the universe. We
>have evidence that logic accurately describes the way the world works,

Evidence which is potentially polluted by people looking for evidence that
fits their understanding of what logic is....

>but the reason why is still debated by philosophers of mathematics and
>science (or more likely ignored).
>No, we don't believe we have a complete grasp of logic, with nothing new
>to be added. Fuzzy logic, for instance, is recent and still very
>No, no-one claims that there is no interpretation when one is using logic
>(that I'm aware of).

So you're backing away from your statement that Logic is the Deep Structure?

>> The post-structuralist response would be one or more of the following:
>> 1) How do we *know* that logic is the deep structure? It obviously can not
>> be used to prove itself, as demonstrated earlier.
>We don't *know* that it is but we do have good evidence that supports
>that theory because logically valid predictions come true.

Evidence which is potentially polluted by people looking for evidence that
fits their understanding of what logic is....[again]

>> 2) Assuming that Logic is a deep structure, how does one know that one is
>> either applying Logic correctly, devoid of any sort of interpretation or
>> bias?
>Logic is never used devoid of interpretation or bias.


>> This is what makes the Structure of Logic suspect. One cannot prove that
>> Logic is actually the Structure. One cannot prove that they comprehend
>> Logic enough to not have to rely on interpretation/emotion/bias. And one
>> cannot prove that, in any instance, an individual is using Logic
>> appropriately.
>I agree that one cannot prove these things. Do you apply these same
>extreme standards to religion or anything else?


>What is wrong with checking logic against reality? I'm aware that checking
>predictions against observations requires interpretation at some level, but
>subjectivity can be minimized to reasonable levels through corroboration and

HOW do you KNOW? How do you know you've "minimized subjectivity to
reasonable levels?" How much does the assumption and acceptence of the
current model(s) of logic color what you *both* percieve? How can you check
*anything* against something you can't see? Clearly, that is.

>I concur they are models. I don't see why that means they can't be tested.

It's not that they can't *because* they are models; it's that they can't be
tested because there is nothing to test them *except* models. There's the
model that we manufacture through language and dialectic (like this one).
Then there's the model in our head that is how we see the world, and we can
compare our manufactured model to our learned/perceptual model, but we
*cannot* compare either to the "reality model" because there is no way to
access it except through the biases and interpretations and expectations
imposed/created by the learned/perceptual model.

>> Again, consider Religion. For a great long time it was considered as the
>> Only Model, and it was believed to be a true and accurate model of reality.
>> Deviance from the model was not tolerated.
>> Along comes Logic. Logic, in many cases -- especially analysis of physical
>> phenomena -- appears to work better. But instead of learning from Religion,
>It does work better. Unless you insist that planes only appear to fly.


>> Logic makes the same mistake. It insists that it is the Only Model, and
>> devience from Logic is not permitted. :-) It is, indeed, a Sin of the
>> Church of Virus.
>Science (I think you are talking about Science here), if it could speak
>it would admit it is not the only model (obviously there is religion), but
>it would insist it is the current best model (if by best you mean most
>accurate or effective). Moreover, it possesses the best method for
>improving itself since it is not, and very likely will never be, perfect.

Okay, no, now I *am* talking about logic. Sorry, it's a hard habit to break.

>> Science has those tendencies, but it also has the tendency to give those
>> concepts lip-service only. Many scientists say "well, nothing can be
>> proven," and then happily insist that this or that or the other can't
>> happen/doesn't exist/shouldn't be applied because it's contrary to Logic.
>Contrary in what way? Entities which are logically incoherent? Postulated
>events that contradict accepted laws of physics? Irrefutable claims?

Yes, yes, and yes.

>> And Logic, of course, is never questioned; only an individual's application
>> of it.
>Are you talking about philosophers, working scientists, people off the
>street? In any case I think it is mostly a matter of expediency. How much
>effort do you want to put into questioning basics? Would you criticize
>someone for assuming that reality exists?

I am talking about philosophers, religious folk, and scientists here. I'm
not going to criticize the basic individual for assuming, say, his chair
exists. There's an issue of functionality there. Besides, someone doesn't
*need* to see the chair clearly in that instance to use it.

Where I become concerned about the dogma of objectively-observed reality,
which a) insists that there is a reality, b) assumes we can see it clearly,
even if only in some cases, c) assumes that they therefore have the Truth,
in a philosophical sense, d) happily goes along destroying other people's
perceptual and manufactured philosophical models, and denegrating them for
not agreeing with *thier* perceptual and manufactured philosophical models,
e) insists that their model is not a model but actually reality.

This is what Fundamentalist Christians do when they go around insisting
that Jesus is Lord, and it's what Church of Virus folk do when they go
around insisting that "Faith" is abdication of rationality for no good
reason, and one should only use Logic.

In these cases, the question of the nature of reality and our perceptions
of it becomes a little more important.

>> Agreed. But how does one measure? One better be able to, if one is going to
>> insist that there is only One Way.
>Effectiveness. Which paradigm allows you to do what you want most

Okay, that works for me. Now:
1) what do you do when that paradigm fails you in a situation?
2) how is this leaning on an interpretation that you cannot measure it's
adherence to actual reality differ from Faith, as defined by me at the
start of this thread?

>> In this case, I should have said that Religion and *Logic* both insist they
>> are absolutely true.
>No, logic is a formal system for manipulating propositions. It says only
>that if your axioms are true and you follow the rules precisely, then
>your conclusions will be true.

Often, in application of logic, the axioms that *our model* of Logic is
both applicable and accurate are understood. There's that understood axiom
at the begining, "Given that we know what we are doing," which in certain
metaphysical instances we truely cannot accept that we know what we are doing.

>> How does one interpret experience? And how do you know Logic never got
>> anybody into Heaven? ;-)
>In my experience (:-) consistency makes a good measure of how to
>interpret experience. I know others on this list don't agree that
>consistency is all-important, but I don't think they realize what they
>are giving up.
>All accounts of Heaven I have read are logically incoherent. Perhaps
>you have another concept of Heaven?

Are they logically incoherent (our model) or Logically incoherent (the
reality/omnicient-viewpoint model)?

>I concede
>it may be mistaken, but I have yet to see something better.

Ping! Okay, let me wrap up your other arguments here, and then I'll move to
the "motive and purpose for writing" section.

>> There is much so-called "observational data" and "empirical evidence" for
>> the existence and involvement of God, but it is often discounted since it
>> is assumed that "Logically," no such Being exists.
>No, it is discounted because if you allow that kind of proof for God,
>you also have to believe in ESP, Bigfoot, alien abductions, witchcraft,
[ aside: see that you lurker? he's picking on you! :-) ]

>crystal power, the Hindu pantheon, aromatherapy, and the prophecies
>of Nostradamus. And I'm sure some people do.

I don't see how it's required that you believe in them, just admit that
there may be some validity in them. Which I do. Some of them are so far
removed from the reality model to be rather useless (ie, Nostradamus),
others may be so far out of my control as to be not worth spending my time
on (alien abductions) and others are not integrated into my manufactured
and perceptual models and I'm doing just fine without them. I do not,
however, go stomping on any of them because they're stupid. Is that what
you want me to do?

>> >That implies that we believe our perceptions are connected to reality
>> >without any clear evidence (by your definition at the beginning of this
>> >message). I don't agree.
>> I challenge the concept of there being any clear evidence that it is
>> connected to reality.
>Science makes predictions that come true. Technology works.
>Planes fly. QED.

This only proves that in some instances, we've managed to hit something
close enough to make it work. It does not prove that it will continue to
work in all cases; nor that the reasons for working are exactly what they
think they are. Since it's the metaphysical level that started this, can we
get off the functional level here a second? On a *metaphysical* level,
there is no clear evidence that our logical manufactured models of reality
are accurate. IE: when we adress issues like "is there a God?" "what is the
meaning of life?" "does Magick actually work?" "is there a S(s)pirit?"

>> I agree; however, I would say that all of our perceptions are filtered
>> through interpretive, linquistic, and sensual processes which remove our
>> understanding of Reality from being clear or completely accurate.
>I agree (and never claimed otherwise).

You've never claimed otherwise, but you frequenly *act* otherwise.

>But we don't need a clear or
>complete understanding of reality to have clear evidence that our
>perceptions are connected to reality.

Read that last sentence again.

>> Expound, please. I think I know where you are going, but I want something
>> to work with here. :-)
>I'm suggesting that currently metaphysical matters (such as the
>meaning of life) can be cast into scientific terms (like causality
>and complexity) and thereby enter the realm of science (not unlike
>the formerly metaphysical matter of cosmology).

I think it can, too, but once you do so, you're moving science into the
metaphysical realm, insisting that logic and scientific observation have
application in interpreting things unknown and unseen, and open yourself to
challeges based on metaphysics.

Now, if you're going to go all behaviorist on me, I'll have to plead
extreme difference of opinion.

>I'm saying that reason is based on logic, but with reasonable beliefs
>and goals addeds as axioms. Given that definition, when is it reasonable
>to not rely on logic?

Well, duh. Given that definition, it never is, since you've here defined
reasonable as "acting logically." But, to my way of thinking, that's too
narrow. It's like defining "Blue" as "things that are not Red."

If, however, you define reason as acting based on your knowledge and
experience (and I would add "interpretation of the significance of these):

When logic does not serve its purpose; when logic does not adequately
address issues one is faced with. When one suspects one's model of logic is

>Unless Logic makes no claim to have the total truth (being just a set
>of rules I don't see how it could).

It can, by including in its set of rules that one must always use Logic to
interpret reality.

>> I certainly hope so. Is logic particularly comforting?
>> I'm sure it is to some.
>Personally I found the belief that meaning=effect to be comforting
>after the death of my grandparents last year. Things that I had heard
>before now make sense: that I can continue to add meaning to their
>lives by remembering them, letting their lessons, values and wisdom
>affect me today. It is not the rules of logic that I find comforting
>(at least not in this particular context), it is the application of logic
>to reasonable (as opposed to mystical) beliefs and goals (adding
>meaning to their lives, as opposed to pretending I will meet them
>again some day in a perfectly nice place).

I can see that. That's fine. Good for you. Now: you think everyone else
should have to rely on this as well?

>> >What is the One True Conviction? Didn't we already dispense with
>> >ultimate truths a couple paragraphs ago?
>> The One True Conviction is that we can know something or achieve any sort
>> of enlightenment.
>Well... that sounds reasonable. (But not religious, in that I don't think
>faith is required.)

It is required, *as defined by you*: belief in something with no good
reason. Reason is, as defined by you, acting logically. Acting logically,
you cannot accept Faith, since there is no good reason.[1] Ergo, you cannot
accept the One True Conviction. Ergo, you cannot accept that Logic applies.


>> >What if emotions are logical? What if rationality depends on emotion?
>> What if the rational explaination for miracles is "God did it?"
>Then I would like to see a reasonable defence of that claim. (I can
>provide ones for my claims above.)

But you won't insist that a reasonable defense does not exist? C'mon -- I
know you can do it!


PS: I'm not trying to convince people not to use logic. If you want to use
logic primarily, then fine by me. If it is fulfilling, okeydiddlydokey. No
problems here, if you can live with the contradictions. I live with mine.

What I object to is your dogmatic (as in, the Dogma of the CoV) position
that logic is the only useful tool in all instances, and your insistence
that anyone who does not share your trust in logic is a fool. Myself, I
think you wear no clothes.

I *use* logic. It's useful for quite a bit. I'll go to a physician when I'm
sick, and I'll ride a plane. In these instances, logic has proven itself to
be an accurate model to use. But as for the definitions of "the meaning of
life," etc -- the metaphysical ones -- I'll stick to
not-exactly-logical-thinking, thank you, and consider myself at least as
intellegent as you. Perhaps more, because I'm not insisting that people who
disagree with *me* are nutbars or stupid. :-)

-- John "Yawning or Snarling" Williams

[1] Every time I've said this, you've insisted otherwise. Then we begin a
similar discussion. This is the second time around the block. Want to go
again? All you have to say is "I have good reason," and then I'll proceed
to insist that all your reasons are invalid, logically speaking, and the
only reason you accept them is because you have Faith in your particular
John Williams ICQ Address: 1213689
"See my loafers? Former gophers!"
Various Artists: Raising the Tide of Mediocrity for Two Years