Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Comments at "David Foster Wallace On Abstraction"

Comments posted at "David Foster Wallace on abstraction"

[Comment 1]

Abstraction must still interface with one's explanatory terminus. The Past Eternal universe (...forever dividing...) gives the Non-Theist no traction here with respect to Actual, Potential, Time, and Change, as Abstraction soon leads one beyond Physics-Full-Stop (... http://disq.us/p/1o5v88h ...). As for Eternalism vs. Presentism, there too Abstraction soon forces one beyond Physics-Full-Stop (... http://disq.us/p/1pn13tf ...). One must move carefully here lest one (perhaps unintentionally) makes a move which claims the one must expunge in order to subsume (... http://disq.us/p/1or4mzh ...). The following two items allude to relevant layers here:

[1] http://disq.us/p/1pstind
[2] http://disq.us/p/1ptuiad

~
[Comment 2]

Abstraction, Reference Frame, and Perception:

You make good points all around. As Dennis Bonnette points out, “…....perception-dependent judgments and calculations cannot possibly be ontological in nature….” The "interface" as it were between [A] the fundamental and self-explanatory nature of reality and [B] the contingent Reference-Frame of the Contingent Being must coherently traverse the affairs of Solipsism and Idealism – and leave them behind – before arriving at any justifiable *Ontic* claim. Very briefly: http://disq.us/p/1o5v88h

Also, from another direction, as another commented elsewhere:

“…a solipsistic universe would be indistinguishable from a theistic universe…”

That is addressed in the follow-up comments which follow this comment.

It is not so much “Triangularity Is Abstract But Tree Is Concrete” but, rather, it is the whole show from A to Z which is in play with respect to *ontic* claims (….for examples of just who real the problem is one only needs to survey the discussions amid Eternalism and Presentism.…).

On the affairs of Reference Frame, they are developed in a few thoughts from another thread at the Secular Outpost in which the following content challenged a few of their attempts to refute one or two of the standard Proofs of God. Of note, one of the claims was that radioactive decay proved such Proofs to be false and, when links to three resources here discussing that misunderstanding were provided the comments (my comments) began to disappear (after having started a discussion with the comments present). The difference between Metaphysics and Physics is quite often blurred and the content of this thread looking at “The Abstract” and “The Empirical” reminds us of that – and it also reminds us that the rational mind refuses to stop too soon. This thread was therefore linked to over in those (now missing) comments at the S. Outpost. Some of that content is as follows (and will be divided into two comments for word-count reasons).

I’ll hit “reply” to you again and start with the first of two parts………

[Comment 3]

Here’s the first of those two parts described in the previous comment:

I didn’t mean that you claimed Kreeft makes Time his A – Z and I should have been more clear on that. Rather, I mean that your body of premises aimed to argue against the proverbial A.T. Meta Proofs treat Time that way. As in:

The reason that Time is, so far at least, your A and your Z (so far) is that your entire analysis has discussed change from the perspective of contingent frames of reference. Which is to say you’ve not even discussed whether or not temporal becoming is real or illusory. That is to say you’ve not gone far enough upstream or downstream with whatever your own paradigm’s explanatory termini happen to be to discover whether or not the A.T Meta’s explanatory termini are in fact coherent or not.

Part of the problem which “Change In The Universe” faces is [A] it’s irrelevant to the proverbial Proofs vis-à-vis change which is why Feser and others are happy to grant the past eternal universe and [B] whether or not it (temporal becoming) is even *real* or *actual* in the first place. If it is real (actual), well then we are back to [A]. If is not real (if it is non-actual), well then we are back at [B] and Eternalism / Presentism arrive on scene. Therefore, Time is left just dangling in midair, as if it were the A – Z of one’s entire T.O.E.

To address Change without addressing Temporal Becoming is to address Change without addressing Time – and to stop “there” is to fail to address God, or, rather, the Divine Mind as per the Christian metaphysic. Not only that, but it also commits you to Time as your terminus of explanation on all points in this entire discussion of Proofs – which is – in the end – to define one’s T.O.E. by this or that contingent Reference Frame – which as pointed out does not go far enough and which is – in the end – irrational.

The Self-Explanatory comes in and by the Absolute's Frame of Reference, which cannot be less than Self-Reference. Where and how the Trinitarian Life subsumes all points there is another discussion but it is worth pointing out that the curious affair of short-circuiting reason's demands for lucidity within contingent reference frames just won't do.

[Comment 4]

Here’s the second of those two parts:

**Clarification:

I stated “The Self-Explanatory comes in and by the Absolute's Frame of Reference, which cannot be less than Self-Reference. Where and how the Trinitarian Life subsumes all points there is another discussion but it is worth pointing out that the curious affair of short-circuiting reason's demands for lucidity within contingent reference frames just won't do.”

However, by “short-circuiting reason's demands for lucidity within contingent reference frames just won't do” I am not referring to reason’s demands for lucidity within contingent reference frames, for, obviously, Reason in her proper role as truth-finder demands lucidity “there too” so to speak. Rather, what the comment references is Reason’s demands for lucidity not “just within this box” (so to speak) but in fact she reaches outward into all possible reference frames – to Totality. But of course Time is neither Absolute nor is Time The Absolute’s Own Reference Frame. Therein Physics as such leads the rational mind to that which is beyond physics – just as – in the Contingent Being – the contingent affairs of reason itself leads the rational mind beyond itself and into Reason Itself.

As Dennis Bonnette points out, “…....perception-dependent judgments and calculations cannot possibly be ontological in nature….” Any contingent frame of reference necessarily fails to be self-justifying. As in self-explanatory. Any such Reference Frame leads one beyond itself, and into the Absolute's Reference Frame which cannot be other than Unconditional Self Reference amid the Infinite Knower, the Infinitely Known, and all Communique therein, as the triune topography of Infinite Consciousness – of the Divine Mind – presses in ( … https://www.metachristianity.com/thoroughly-trinitarian-metaphysic/ ..). With respect to Physics, Time, and our own reason vis-à-vis our own contingent reference frame:

[1] http://disq.us/p/1o5v88h
[2] http://disq.us/p/1pn13tf
[3] http://disq.us/p/1or4mzh

The reality of temporal becoming is in fact actual or else it is in fact illusory. If the later: well then there is that discussion and the Non-Theist must deny change all together (...the discussions amid Eternalism, Presentism, and so on...). If the former: well then we arrive at Feser's (and others) seemingly odd willingness to just GRANT the Non-Theist his past-eternal universe for, as that odd willingness tells us, it grants *no* relief to the troubles which Non-Theism faces amid temporal becoming and the causal ecosystems therein.

[Comment 5]

A segue of sorts: http://disq.us/p/1ptuwhq

[Comment 6]

My previous comment linked to a segue of sorts. The comment was one in a series which challenged the author's arguments against some standard proofs of God. In it I linked to this OP by Feser as per the following comment which is not visible there now:

Radioactive Decay, Word Salad, and Wider Discussions:

It is claimed that radioactive decay presents a problem. That is fine as far as it goes. However, to defend that one will need to address the three sources of Feser which refute that claim, namely the two blog posts (...linked to earlier...) and, then, if one has a digital copy of Five Proofs one can search for the word "radio" or "radioactive" and, the several hits which one finds will also have to be addressed. As for what is called word-salad, that is a discussion on the wider arena surrounding causation and change which have to be -- at some point -- "pulled in" as it were and shown to "fit" or else "not fit" into the argument. That is true for any argument, not just Non-Theistic or Theistic. Sure, expanding the lens of this discussion to point out that "this box" cannot be coherent if it fails to hold up "further out" (so to speak) may seem like "world salad" to some, but that is a mark of one's unawareness of why and how any particular "narrow slice" of observational reality is but a part of much larger, wider, discussions. And those discussions are not mine, but are in fact held by both Non-Theistic and Theistic thinkers alike in what is a rather interesting array of descriptions of reality's fundamental, or irreducible, nature. The fundamental nature of Time, Change, and Becoming are in fact inter-related (...perhaps intra-related is better...?) and are in fact relevant to this discussion and, therefore, all the affairs of "Reference Frame" necessarily weigh in.

A segue of sorts comes through observations of Abstractions and the Empirical: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/01/david-foster-wallace-on-abstraction.html

The Wider, Thicker "metaphysic" surrounding radioactive decay cannot be defined as "word salad" if one wants to address the *actual* definitions (...premises...) put forth by the Christian metaphysic. To discount such definitions and premises in that manner leads one to misread the actual claims and to then embark on presenting arguments against this or that straw-man. Hence the problem of radioactive decay, causal ecosystems, temporal becoming, reference frame, and so on.

[Comment 7]

Part 1

….this line is finite in that it has ends, but it is also infinite because one can keep slicing its parts into still more parts, ad infinitum, such that in fact there is no end to its parts and the line is, thereby, infinite…

There are several problems with this. First, as a Christian, it is not a problem to infer that the proverbial Beneath & Above or the proverbial Always & Already is not only “infinite” (…perhaps Absolute is metaphysically more precise…) but in fact interfaces with the Created Order such that – at some “ontic-seam” somewhere we run into that “phase change” or “transition” so to speak amidst the Finite and the Infinite. It is not “that” which is the “problem” here. Rather, it is along the following lines where “Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox” runs into trouble:

Time, Space, & God – a brief look from http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/02/time-space-and-god.html

"So, there just is no sense to be made of the idea that there is something distinct from God that he cannot not create. If he cannot not create it then that is only because it cannot not exist, in which case it is purely actual and subsistent being itself and thus really identical with God. If it is really distinct from God, then it is not purely actual or subsistent being itself, and thus it can fail to exist and God can refrain from creating it. The supposed middle ground position between pantheism on the one hand, and affirming the contingency of time and space on the other, is an illusion."

We start a bit downstream and work our way upstream, towards that “metaphysical wellspring of all ontic possibility” as we are ever so careful with respect to the trajectory of that the proverbial Arrow of our semantic intent:

Potential Parts, Semantic Intent, & Reference Frame:

First, a brief quote from http://disq.us/p/1oejdyo which alludes to several transcendentals, the traversal of which all Non-Theistic termini fall short of:

Actually, there isn't any ontic-difference because the Change-In-Perception between the Now Self and the Future Self and the Past Self does not happen. You are actually a "Part" of the Block, which has many "Parts", even as you are, simultaneously, sort of hovering outside of it and looking down / over / across it and seeing different slices through different frames of reference. As the Conscious Observer your perception changes even as your perception never changes because there is no change nor anything to Q or Cause said change in your Perception as the Conscious Observer. "You" as the Conscious Observer are "simultaneously" both a Static / Motionless "Part" of the Block and an Observer hovering outside of the Block looking down / over / across it and seeing different slices through different frames of reference. Which carries us full Circle as we repeat the cycle given that as the Conscious Observer you are, now, even still, a static / motionless "Part" of the Block "such that" your perception never changes, ,and, also, you are hovering / moving "such that" your perception changes as you look across / over different slices of the Block, because there is no change nor anything to Q or Cause said change in your Perception as the Conscious Observer. Your perception as the Conscious Observer never changes even as your perception as the Conscious Observer changes as you observe things from different frames of reference. Got it? Don't ask questions. Just believe.

End quote.

Continued....

[Comment 8]

Part 2

Akin to the debate amid Eternalism vs. Presentism, there is a concrete sense in which (…contra physics-full-stop…) it is the case that *both* are actual in the Christian metaphysic. That is found only in and by the affairs of Timelessness, Pure Actuality, and ALL reference frames whether Possible or Actual vis-à-vis the Divine Mind, Possible Worlds, and so on. That is why we find that Physics, when followed to all possible termini, leads us out and beyond herself, beyond Physics-Full-Stop, rather than in the illusory shadows of non-being forced by all Non-Theistic termini. Eternalism and Presentism both subsist but, of course, when the Christian makes such a statement his semantic intent is quite different than that of the Non-Theist.

Then, just the same, that is why we find that reason itself in and by all Non-Theistic termini lands not in the convertibility of the necessary transcendentals with respect to *being* but, rather, in the illusory shadows of non-being. Is that Presentism? Is it Eternalism? In fact it is again both (…by the Christian’s semantic intent and not by the Non-Theist’s…) for with respect to our own “contingent reason itself” so to speak it is the case that, like Physics, so too reason itself when rationally followed leads one beyond one's own unavoidably contingent reason and into the Necessary & Irreducible vis-à-vis Reason Itself. The Divine Mind presses in (... http://disq.us/p/1o5v88h ...).

The Self-Explanatory:

The Self-Explanatory comes in and by the Absolute's Frame of Reference, which cannot be “something less” than the Totality of Unconditional Self-Reference. Where and how the Trinitarian Life subsumes all points there is another discussion but it is worth pointing out that the curious affairs of all possible Non-Theistic explanatory termini are forever short-circuiting reason's demands for lucidity within contingent reference frames, and that just won’t do. Now, obviously Reason in her proper role as truth-finder demands lucidity “there too” so to speak. Rather, the semantic intent there aims at the fact that Reason’s demands for lucidity cannot be rationally held if doing so forces one to abort everything but various contingent contours “just within this box” (so to speak) but, rather, it is the case that Reason reaches outward into all possible reference frames – to Totality.

Space-Time, Reference Frame, & Little Boxes:

But of course Time is neither Absolute nor is Time The Absolute’s Own Reference Frame. Therein Physics as such leads the rational mind to that which is beyond physics – just as – in the Contingent Being – the contingent affairs of reason itself leads the rational mind beyond itself and into Reason Itself. Again the Divine Mind presses in. As Dennis Bonnette points out: “…....perception-dependent judgments and calculations cannot possibly be ontological in nature….

Any contingent frame of reference necessarily fails to be self-justifying. As in self-explanatory. Any such Reference Frame leads one beyond itself, and into the Absolute's Reference Frame which cannot be other than Unconditional Self Reference amid the Infinite Knower, the Infinitely Known, and all Processions / Communique therein as the triune topography of Infinite Consciousness – of the Divine Mind – presses in ( https://www.metachristianity.com/thoroughly-trinitarian-metaphysic/ ).

Semantic Dependence, Abstraction, Mind, Reference, & Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox:

In the com-box from http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/01/david-foster-wallace-on-abstraction.html we find various hints at something akin to this:

….this line is finite in that it has ends, but it is also infinite because one can keep slicing its parts into still more parts, ad infinitum, such that in fact there is no end to its parts…

In that discussion...

Continued...

[Comment 9]

Part 3

In that discussion some of our Non-Theist friends are claiming that the shuffling of parts in, say, this or that universe presents a paradox – that of “Potential Parts”. Obviously if one refers to the Milky Way as A-Thing, one's syntax is referencing X. If one then refers to the Milky Way as "All-These-Things" then again one's syntax is referencing, not X, but Y.

In E. Feser’s “From Aristotle to John Searle and Back Again: Formal Causes, Teleology, and Computation in Nature” we find several segues here:

"The technical sense in question is essentially the one associated with mathematician Claude Shannon’s celebrated theory of information. Shannon was concerned with information in a *syntactic rather than *semantic sense. Consider the bit, the basic unit of information, which has one of two possible values, usually represented as either 0 or 1. To consider a bit or string of bits (e.g., “11010001”) in terms of some interpretation or meaning we have attributed to it would be to consider it semantically. Semantic information is the sort of thing we have in mind when we speak of “information” in the ordinary sense. To consider the properties a bit or string of bits has merely as an uninterpreted symbol or string of symbols is to consider it syntactically. This is “information” in the technical sense. When instantiated physically, a bit corresponds to one of two physical states, such as either of two positions of a switch, two distinct voltage levels, or what have you..."

We run into this same array of affairs vis-à-vis semantic intent when we speak of the triune topography of Divine Simplicity amid Trinity, God, the Divine Mind, and so on. Another slice of this pie which we have to keep in mind is the fact that, as Ravi Zacharias discusses, men knew that three fish were not the same as one fish in the first century and yet they converged within the syntax of 1 / 3, and so on. The distinction of using a term in a different sense with respect to [A] vs [B] is something we can miss or perhaps downplay. Yet Zacharias goes on to point out that language employed in reference to such metaphysical topography arrives on scene:

[1] univocally and
[2] equivocally and
[3] analogically.

In several approaches we can add two more:

1. the fact that distinction is not to be equated to division and
2. the fact that "distinction-void-of-division" is not incoherent.

Care must be taken to note in which sense our various semantic intents are constructed as we find, yet again, that permitting frail and contingent reference frames to define one's T.O.E. is inexplicable. And ultimately irrational. It sometimes seems that we really do not comprehend the sheer Totality of our dependence upon the unavoidable Ontic Arrow of the Absolute's Own Reference Frame whether we are traveling Downstream or Upstream.

Wittgenstein–esc indeed, only, the Christian refuses to settle for a half-narrative. As per [1] http://disq.us/p/1owou01 and [2] http://disq.us/p/1owovkf Gilson asks, “When God created space, where did He put it?” The very syntax of “space” and all contours of that very concept are themselves but frail and contingent reference frames.

Once again we find that the Absolute’s Own Reference Frame necessarily sums to Unconditional Self-Reference and, also, we find that the Non-Theist misses the unavoidable fact that the Absolute houses a fundamental relationship with — not SOME — but ALL frames of reference whether we reference Possible Reference Frames or Actual Reference Frames.

We'll leave our Non-Theist friends to unpack within the frail and contingent mind of the contingent conscious observer what they suppose [A] Absolute Self-Reference and [B] Infinity and [C] the Trinitarian Life all share in common vis-à-vis the *Christian's* metaphysic.

scbrown(lhrm)
~

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