DiaBlogue: Ontologically Correct

While on a quest for Universal Agreement, Alan appears slightly puzzled by my Universe, And Three Examples. Specifically, he wonders:
  • “if the truth of a historical account can be established by philosophical considerations”
  • whether “God exists” is a ‘real’ true (or false) statement
  • whether the rational and spiritual universes are “metaphor” or “a description of reality”
  • if the brain “is entirely physical process what room is left for choice?”
  • “whether conciousness and behavior and choice (or the illusion thereof) are all manifestations of purely physical processes”
  • if “positing a separate spiritual existence to explain them” is a “God of the gaps” explanation

And proposes:

  • Ernie … elaborate further on his statement about starting from philosophy, particularly how that relates to historical considerations.
  • I … return to developing my eight (or so) supporting arguments.
  • We … talk about choice (free will) and related implications for goodness and morality.
  • Ernie … present arguments supporting the reality of a spiritual universe
[Read more] for my attempt to provide a more rigorous case for spiritual truth, its relation to historicity, and other millennia-old puzzles.

At the risk of being didactic, let me try to frame the question as a series of propositions, so we can separately examine the validity and/or truth of each one.
First of all, let me start with the definition we agreed to earlier:
1. The universe is the objective reality behind our subjective experience
Having that is a common starting point is immensely helpful, as it lets us skip past a whole host of epistemic and ontological problems. Now, let me make a second assertion.
2. Human beings have three kinds of experiences: sensations, cogitations, and emotions.
I would hope that Alan agrees that these — at least prima facie — all exist, and are distinct categories of experience: I see light. I think about Boolean logic. I feel happy.
If that is true, then — starting from experience, remember? — we have potentially three different universes. I suspect my terminology led to some confusing connotations, so let me try again.
3. These three experiences explore, respectively, the physical, conceptual, and relational universes.
In other words, these three universes are — according to (1) — all equally, objectively real within their domain. That doesn’t mean they are real in the same way, necessarily. However, it does mean that the following are all equally valid, well-formed statements:
* Atoms are the basic constituents matter
* Pi is an irrational number
* Love is necessary for a happy marriage
In particular, I am asserting that all of those statements are “real truths.” That is — given appropriate
definitions! — those statements are all completely true (or at least
demonstrably false) whether or not anyone believes in them.
Still with me, Alan?
Of course, that does necessarily mean that all of those ultimately real. That is why we have the concept of divinity, which I summarize here as:
4. Economic divinity is the complete proximate source of the reality we experience
Now, if I understand Alan correctly, he is asserting naturalism, which in this context appears to mean:
5-A. The character of economic divinity is identical to that of physical reality
Which would seem to imply conceptual and relational experiences are illusions created by physical processes, and do not reflect any underlying reality. Thus, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Further, it would imply that the statement “It is Better to Believe Truth than Choose Self-Deception” is a non sequitor. Is that a valid inference, Alan?
I don’t deny Alan’s right to make such an assertion, but I would like to point out that it is essentially a religious assertion, and a fairly strong one at that. Also, I find it completely inconsistent with his earlier assertions about Truth and Choice — not to mention Good — so I worry that I may have missed a definition somewhere along the way.
To be sure, Alan might counter that my assertion of the existence of relational and conceptual reality is similarly religious. However, I would riposte that — unless he is willing to a priori deny the validity of mental and emotional experiences — it is merely an inevitable consequence of our definition. There is no “God in the gaps” here — in fact, there is no god at all, yet; merely an inference from empirical observations.
That said, I am willing to make a similarly strong religious statement, which is that:
5-B. The character of economic divinity is identical to that of Jesus Christ
This is where the ontological rubber meets the historical road. I believe I have adequate empirical justification for believing in physical, conceptual, and relational reality. However — apart from Christ — I do not have epistemic justification for believing they represent a single underlying unity, much less one that is well-disposed towards me!
As an alternative, for example, I would like Alan to consider what I call “2+1 Deism”. In this view, physical and conceptual reality *do* independently exist, and are intimately connected with each other. Thus, science is actually a valid enterprise, since math and physics have a “real” relationship, not merely a socially-constructed one artificially projected onto reality. (I would hope Alan believes that, or we both wasted a lot of time at Caltech. 🙂 This also allows for meaningful concepts of ‘truth’ and ‘validity.’
However — and I suspect this may address his larger concern — while 2+1 Deism acknowledges the ontological validity of relational concepts like ‘love’ and ‘anger’, it doesn’t allow them any direct influence over physical reality. Thus, Alan is free to make true, correct, and real statements about emotions in the context of their role within human systems, without needing to show that those are embedded in physical reality; any more than I need to show that “Pi” only exists in the context of physically-drawn circles.
Does that help, Alan?