STAN to Scott: Climbing high? or Climbing out?

Stan replies to my previous post. As always, I've taken the liberty of slightly reformatting it for readability on my blog. I encourage comments from interested readers either to Stan or myself. I will reply as time permits. Stan writes:

Popper wrote that falsification is his method to eliminate the “demarcation” problem, which is the problem of separating the physical issues from the metaphysical issues. Metaphysical issues cannot be falsified for the same reason that they cannot be proven: they are not physical. At one point Popper writes that it doesn’t matter if the falsification testing is done, what matters is that it could be done. The capability of testing for falseness proves the material nature of the issue, and eliminates any metaphysical contenders, thereby showing the suitability of the issue for empirical pursuit.

As I tried to emphasize before, the purely non-physical cannot be found in the purely physical realm. Period. I do not dispute this, I agree 100%, because it is true by definition. It is a tautology; or as Popper calls it, a universal. And for that reason, physical testing of non-physical issues can not be expected to produce physical test results, ever. For one thing, how would one test a non-physical thing, physically? It is contradictory, paradoxical, and in Popper’s words, non-sensical (sort of a play on words there).

Are we able to agree that there is not now and never can be physical proof of the non-physical? For example, all ID references are actually inferences drawn from certain characteristics of certain phenomena. There is not, and cannot be, the certainty of tangible proof of intelligence which might have been involved in our history. While inferences are widely used in historical biology, that is not the issue here. Inferences do not lead to certainty, and metaphysical inferences are not empirically useful. I think we agree to this?

Scott said,

“To me, the question is whether or not you can reason your way to such a position [a realm outside naturalism] on the basis of evidence.”

“But here’s the thing: if I can’t also connect the dots between those claims and purely natural causes, then practically speaking, I’m not making much headway. It remains but a metaphysical stance only. So we can have that conversation, if you like, but I hope you understand the burden lies with you.”

“Remember, the question for me is not whether or not I assent to the existence of a realm outside naturalism, because (after all) I hold pretty conventional Christian beliefs. To me, the question is whether or not you can reason your way to such a position on the basis of evidence. For now, I’ll forego the question of whether or not either of us possess an ‘internal faculty of discrimination’ that's valid, etc.....if only to give you a fighting chance, Because, Stan, that hill you want to climb ?....it’s steep, brother.”

Assuming that this is a discussion and not a debate, the question of burden seems odd; however, I accept the burden for the purpose of this conversation, and now I request a serious look into the nature of “evidence” as I have highlighted in your comments, above. Can we find any type of credible evidence that speaks for a non-physical reality? Even given the understanding that the evidence we seek is not for an empirical entity? If we demand empirical, “purely natural” causes, then we have regressed to metaphysical naturalism, haven’t we? So we do need to investigate the nature of evidence and the limits or expansiveness of its capabilities.

There are several categories of evidence, generally including sensory (tangible), internal experiential, and intuited. We can ignore the “revealed” and “eyewitness” categories for now. I suggest the following for discussion:

Sensory evidence is derived from our apprehension of external sources and is useful to empiricism, because external sources are accessible to other’s sensory inputs also, and can be verified independently.

Internal experiential evidence is independent of external sources, and is useful in defining the being that is one’s self. This is the evidence invoked by Descartes, who rejected all sensory evidence in order to discover what sort of a “being” he was, based on his unique internal composition. Because this sort of evidence is outside the auspices of empiricism, Materialists deny its existence, insisting that internal experiences are deceptions visited upon us by our own nervous system. Where is the evidence of deception? Why should a deceived Materialist be thought credible anyway?

Intuitive evidence is the knowledge of valid concepts which exist both outside of empiricism, and outside one’s self. Logic, mathematics, universals are some of the issues determined to be valid intuitively. Some Atheists, notably Nietzsche, and followers denied that any of these First Principles or universals could be proved and therefore they were not valid and could not be accepted. (“Beyond Good and Evil”, Friedrich Nietzsche; translated, Walter Kaufmann, Vintage 1989, p22-24.) The deception lies here, in conflating the need for testing with non-physical, intuited true essences.

As long as we have Popper up to bat, here are some related excerpts from his book, “The Logic of Scientific Discovery”:

Popper on Metaphysics:

“The fact that value judgments influence my proposals does not mean that I am making the mistake of which I have accused the positivists – that of trying to kill metaphysics by calling it names. I do not even go so far as to assert that metaphysics has no value for empirical science. For it cannot be denied that along with metaphysical ideas which have obstructed the advance of science there have been others – such as speculative atomism – which have aided it. And looking at the matter from the psychological angle, I an inclined to think that scientific discovery is impossible without faith in ideas which are of a purely speculative kind, and sometimes even quite hazy; a faith that is completely unwarranted from the point of view of science, and which, to that extent, is ‘metaphysical’.."

“Logic of Scientific Discovery”, Popper, 1935 /2006 Routledge; p16, 17. (Emph added)

On intuition, Popper opines, then quotes Einstein:

“My view may be expressed by saying that every discovery contains ‘an irrational element’, or ‘a creative intuition’, in Bergson’s sense. In a similar way Einstein speaks of the ‘search for those highly universal laws … from which a picture of the world can be obtained be pure deduction. There is no logical path’, he says, ‘leading to these … laws. They can only be reached by intuition, based upon something like an intellectual love (Einfuhlung) of the objects of experience.”

Popper, LSD, p 8,9; Einstein, Address on Max Planck’s 60th birthday, 1918. (emph added)

So, Scott, it is not necessary for me to climb the hill you have prescribed, because that hill is a paradox with no summit. (There can be no physical proof for non-physical existences; these are mutually exclusive, and their conjunction is contradictory and paradoxical). My approach is and has been to look for, oh say, something that we believe, with no tangible evidence possible for its existence.

I think that Materialism is rather more of a hole of its own construction, which it may not - by dogmatic principle - leave, and then condemns others for leaving or not entering. And again, methodological naturalist empiricism, down in that materialist hole, belongs there, sifting through the natural dirt. But that dirt is not all there is to reality, unless the other avenues of evidence are convincingly denied. They cannot be successfully empirically denied due to the paradox of their conjunction.

Here’s an example of a belief I came by recently, with no proof. After a recent medical escapade, I came to realize that I still exist as more than meat, even though being totally unconscious in the sense of being anesthetized (no dreams). When I recovered consciousness, I regained the same characteristics as before I was anesthetized. So my existence during that time, if one requires thought to be the basic prerequisite for existence, appeared to have disappeared, yet it subsequently returned completely. I have no knowledge of my mind’s existence during that time, but I infer from subsequent experience that it did not cease to exist. Can I presume to “know”, intuitively, the truth of this, that I did not cease to exist during anesthesia? The answer appears obvious, but the evidence is intuitive, not empirical; inferred, not experimental.

Maybe more pointedly, “can evidence via intuition ever point to the validity of an intangible existence?” Or maybe, “can evidence via intuition provide enough certainty to support belief in an intangible existence?”

You see, I believe that it can, and I believe that, in spite of having no tangible empirical data to back me up.

This path, then, is non-empirical; I wonder if you wish to take off and leave the land of the tangible, for the possible existence beyond tangible? Can we accept the existence of intuition as a tool for acquiring evidence? Can we see that there are things that can be accepted as true or valid, without tangible physical evidence? If not, then I suggest that the philosophy being held to is metaphysical naturalism, which is a lock-down situation. I know that you denied that, but then you also seem to absolutely require physical test results for non-physical entities; so one of those must be an error, possibly my error of interpretation.

Can we move on into the arena of intuition?

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