Jan 26, 2011

On the nature of Reality: A trialogue between a Rationalist, a Postmodernist and a Realist

Somewhere, in the middle of nowhere, 3 men contemplate...

Postmodernist: I assuredly believe in the non-existence of any objective reality. It's all relative..all in the mind of the observer !!

Rationalist: Hmm.... i don't agree... I’d say that 'truth' in-itself is absolute, and 'untruth' in-itself is absolute too, only 'nontruth' is not absolute. A system of knowledge based on relativity of multiplicity of nontruths can never lead to any conclusion which is true insofar the conclusion is based entirely on the mutuality of nontruths

Postmodernist: Voah Voah.... Hold on.... what is truth? what is untruth? what is nontruth?

Rationalist: this is an epistemological classification (not an ontological one mind you). So for the sake of argument, one may suppose...

'truth/true' - to be the attribute of a proposition, the content of which, is in perfect correspondence with an entitative reality

'untruth/untrue' - to be the attribute of a proposition, the content of which, is  positively NOT in prefect correspondence with an entitative reality

'non-truth/non-true' - to be the attribute of a proposition, the content of which, can neither be determined to be in correspondence with an entitative reality nor can it be determined to be not in correspondence with an entitative reality. (mostly, NOT always, this is a property of propositions which have a structural contradiction)

Postmodernist: OK… go on.. Now explain how does your argument above prove me wrong?

Rationalist:  See… this is my ontological argument for the impossibility of a (typically post modernist) rational assertion of the non-existence of an objective reality...

Any epistemological hypothesis, even the one which asserts the non-existence of an objective reality, is entirely and necessarily dependent on its 'correspondence with a stable, objective and entitative reality' for its existential validity


Assertion A1 - there is no objective reality

Premise 1 - truth value of an "any assertion" is determined by its correspondence with reality 

Premise 2 - an assertion which denies objective reality, like A1, is an element of the set "any assertion" 

Intermediate Premise - A1 has to correspond with objective reality

Conclusion - A1 is self-contradictory

(A1 is an invalid assertion of form "this statement is false")

Srticto Sensu- My argument only proves "the impossibility of asserting the non-existence of an objective truth" in a "truthfully valid" manner. If at all, a phenomenon is to be validly and truthfully asserted about, it can only be possibly done on the basis of 'true' and 'untrue' aspects of it, and not on 'nontrue' aspects


a cultural practice A can NOT be considered lesser, greater or equal to a cultural practice B with respect to a defined object (say human well being) insofar human well being is not conceptualized either in a 'true' or 'untrue' form.

Aggregate point: an unqualified claim of the kind "cultural practice A and cultural practice B are equally worthy of respect" (henceforth B1) is not valid.

It may appear that a claim of the kind "cultural practice A is lesser/greater than cultural practice B" (henceforth B2) is also invalid by the same logic, but that is not the case.

while B1 is invalid in all conditions of possibility, B2 is valid under those conditions where the intended object (human well being) is defined, even if only partially defined, but partially so in either true or untrue terms

human well being CAN be, in practice partially, and in principle wholly, defined in true or untrue terms....(C1)
(this in-itself is a separate topic, which i will deal with later)

Necessary implication: B1 can NEVER be true, B2 CAN be true.
My claim: B2 IS true as C1 is true.

Rest whole of my philosophy now is going to be an elaboration of C1
but that may take time, as it will draw upon all the developments in the field of genetics, economics, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, phenomenology, computational maths, quantum physics and chaos theory

Realist: A small query related to you point mr. rationalist

You issue the following propositions:
B1 = cultural practice A and cultural practice B are equally worthy of respect
B2 = cultural practice A is lesser/greater than cultural practice B...

But you have already mentioned that B1 is an unqualified claim!
And, B2 is mentioned as a claim – without any reference to its qualifications!

You arrive at the conclusion:
B1 is invalid in all conditions of possibility
B2 is valid under those conditions where the intended object (human well being) is defined

But, B1’s invalidity could be because of its nature – unqualified claim! And that seems to me as a presumption (that B1 is an unqualified claim) whose truth value needs to be probed first, i.e. before determining the validity of the propositions B1 and B2.

Rationalist: Clearly my point has lent itself to misunderstanding, i accept the responsibility for it and seek your pardon, lemme re-frame B1 and rest of it would fall in place by itself

B1, in the paradigm of 'strict epistemological-moral relativism', would read like

"there IS non-existent value difference between cultural practice A and cultural practice B"

Now this assertion is false,

1. if it is unqualified (the ontological argument)
2. if it is qualified ...(from C1)

Hence its false in all conditions of possibility

Lemme know if you seek further elaboration, it often is the case, with many bare-essential arguments of the kind that i offer here, that there are implicit premises within explicit premises, and any explicit premises can be resolved into one or more implicit premises, those which become explicit upon such resolution. And this can be done, in principle, infinitely.

Only at that point at which the truth of a particular explicit premise becomes self-evident, does an inter-observer agreement emerge. This phenomenon, I believe, was also in evidence in your query and my subsequent reply above.

Realist: Very well... that satisfies me for the moment.

Postmodernist: Hold on... basically what you're saying is that without defining human wellbieng, judgments such as if culture A is better than or equal to cultural B cannot be made?
well if that is what you're saying then defining C1- human wellbeing is the tricky part as the famous Foucault vs. Chomsky debate should explain it.

Rationalist: See.... you have grossly under-interpreted my argument,

what i am saying is that,
even when human well being is defined in true or untrue terms, B1 will always be, IN PRINCIPLE, false. and only B2 will have a chance of being true.

...and secondly,
C1 CAN be defined, in principle, in true or untrue terms, and that is the "new philosophy" that i bring to bear on this argument. and that is why it will take time to elaborate it as draws upon all the fields of knowledge that i have already mentioned.
beginning with Hume, and ending with post modernism, i reject, totally the claim that human well being cannot be defined in true or untrue terms.

In fact, my whole point of giving the ontological argument was, that this claim that "human well being cannot be defined in true or untrue terms" is actually parasitic on the claim "there is no objective reality" ..... so first i reject the ontological claim as contradictory and then i present my own case of C1... some brilliant minds are already working on this project ... though they are focussing totally on C1... whereas i felt the need to first attack the ontological foundations of post modernism.

Postmodernist: so two cultural practices may be considered greater or lesser but not of equal respect?
and that too in principle...
care to elaborate?
and i know C1 is the next best question...
the only problem is how do you talk about a universal human without being an imperialist???
I think one can talk about it metaphysically.. from the point of view of religion, but socio-cultural universals still seem kind of impossible.

Rationalist: kindly stick to my proposition, modified as above, i am saying, that there is a real value differential in any two precise statements of hypothesis about human well being,

A socio-cultural proposition, any given specific proposition, can be evaluated, against another specific socio-cultural proposition, and a value differential CAN be shown to exist between them.

YES!!, no two precisely formulated socio-cultural hypotheses about human well being, can, ESPECIALLY in principle, correspond exactly co-extensively, to a defined criterion of human well being, which is defined so, in either true or untrue terms.

if the truth of the statement above is not self evident, then lemme state an epistemological axiom, which will shed some light (thought i will also have to explain a bit of quantum physics to exactly and completely make the point, but i think you'll get the drift from the statement below)

you must be familiar with the principle of non-contradictory identification(PNI)
"No statement can be both asserted and denied, at the same time in the same sense"

...my ingeniously derived implication>>

>>>>"Out of ANY two possible and DISTINCT statements, any one AND only one, at one time and in one sense, can correspond exactly to one defined criteria, which is defined in true or untrue terms and not in non-true terms. and such correspondence, when obtained, will EXCLUDE the possibility of the other statement corresponding with the same criteria in the same sense at the same time"<<<<
so IN PRINCIPLE... B1 can never be true!!! Its almost tautological.... you shud've got this from my arguments above!!!

(All go quiet.....)
(....The argument seemingly resolved, they continue to contemplate silently)


uday said...

you've disappeared from Facebook. Just though you might be interested in this. The court is now being asked to ascertain the divinity of all sorts of things:

Siddharth Kaushal said...

hey Uday... good to hear from you.. yeah.. I need some social exclusion.. even from the fatuous kind proffered by facebook.

thanks for the link... i have been tuned in to this story, its quite fortunate that kerala is ruled by a leftist govt.. had it been a hindutva party it wuld've played to the galleries manned by bigots and foolish millions.

and even though it irritates me no end ....that such things should even be 'considered for being considered' seriously... im glad that its the court of law and not some religious pedagogue that'll have an authoritative verdict to pass on this.

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