In Defense of Truth: PART II
NOTE: This is my answer to a Filipino Freethinker named Pecier Decierdo. In my blog article entitled In Defense of Truth, I discussed what’s wrong with the neo-mystic collective Filipino Freethinker, “environmental conservatism,” Reproductive Health bill, and other related issues. In his lengthy reply, Pecier Decierdo presented the alleged superiority of his logic, philosophy, and science. Since he raised a lot of issues and misrepresented some of the arguments I raised in my original post, my counter-argument has to be very long in order to address only the pertinent points he made.
Context-dropping, floating abstraction, mystical Popperian (Kantian) perspective, straw man fallacy, and an attempt to direct
the discussion to another battleground, which you believed to be my waterloo (just an observation)—these are the basic problems/flaws in your lengthy response to my argument.
You have successfully dropped the context of my argument and then raised a lot of insignificant issues, which are not in any way related to the arguments I raised. By making a lot of unrelated, minor issues, which do not really represent my views, you have resorted to straw man fallacy by ignoring my actual position and substituting it with misrepresented and distorted version of my argument. However, I have to make it clear that this is simply my observation since I believe your argumentation is just a product of your very little knowledge about the philosophy of Objectivism and your failure to consciously integrated the junk heap of philosophical perspectives and ideas you absorbed from your Kantian professors.
Here’s what you said: “First of all, some truths are absolute. Among the group of truths that are absolute are the truths of logic and the truths of mathematics. A is A, a=a, 1+1=2, “Cogito ergo sum” and so on and so forth. In the language of philosophy, these truths are a priori, analytic and necessary. When these truths are not tautologies (such as A is A) or axioms (1+1=2), then they are deduced from tautologies or axioms.”
First, let me address your statement “some truths are absolute” by clarifying what I meant by “truth and science are absolute.” I was referring to metaphysical truth and scientific truth. A scientific truth constitutes a fact of reality, a metaphysical reality. Realty is an absolute. Truth is properly defined as the recognition or identification of the facts of reality, and we integrate and recognize these facts by the application of concepts. On the other hand, the dictionary definition of truth is: “conformity to fact or actuality; a statement proven to be or accepted as true.”
When a philosopher or a person claims that there is no such a thing as absolute by justifying the presumption that there is a dichotomy—an artificial split—of truths and opposition, then such a philosopher or a person is undercutting the validity of human volition. What do you think will happen if truths are not absolute?
Such statement as “it may be true today, but it may not be true tomorrow”, or “it may be true for you, but it’s not true for me” is a product of man’s relative premises, which indicates that there is no such thing as absolute. And such kind of relativist and skeptic mentality simply means that there is no objective perceivable reality, or there is no reality at all, and that the Law of Identity (A is A) is illogical.
When you said “some truths are absolute”, then you are saying that some facts of reality are half-truths or half-falsities. But if you’re really aware of the important function of definition, you would realize the danger and invalidity of your statement “some truths are absolute.” It is either-or. If a thing, or a particular fact of reality, is not true or semi-true, then it’s false.
You went on to argue that “the truths of science are never absolute,” saying they are merely “provisional, which means that they are true only as far as the present body of evidences is concerned.” You gave as example the “Newtonian mechanics” which was regarded as “true” back in the day of Isaac Newton.
Again, let me restate that I am talking of scientific truth, which should be established (by means of scientific process or validation), objective, permanent, and immutable. When it comes to scientific theories, one cannot prove any theory to be true. For example, a scientist might conduct a series of test in order to disprove a particular theory. Such a theory might pass 10,000 tests, yet the 10,001st test could prove it false. Thus, a scientific theory, which passed so many tests or falsification attempts, is not supposed to be considered an “absolute” scientific truth. The law of gravity is an absolute truth, because if it were not absolute then we there would be chaos. And if the laws of physics and science were not absolute, economic activities and scientific progress would be impossible.
This only shows that you have gone too far in explaining what you think is my invalid argument.
Now let me address what you stated in your counter-argument: that cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am) is an absolute truth, which is one of your biggest philosophical flaws. I think you should reconsider calling yourself a “Freethinker” (if this term has any meaning at all).
This philosophical concoction by Rene Descartes is NOT an absolute truth. In fact it is false! For your information this was properly dealt with by my Goddess (your own word) Ayn Rand, who demolished it with her “I am, therefore I’ll think.” Ayn Rand’s “I am, therefore I’ll think” best explains the primacy of existence over consciousness. Hence, “I am” is a clear statement of one’s existence, a rejection of Descartes’ “I think”, which pertains to the primacy of consciousness over existence. If you’re aware of Rand’s metaphysics, you would have grasped that it is more complete and is consistent with her epistemology, which starts with irreducible primary-existence.
If you take Descartes’ cogito ergo sum as an absolute truth, then it reveals that you simply absorbed a junk heap of philosophical drivels without having been able to consistently and coherently integrate them. Rene Descartes’ “the prior certainty of consciousness” is the idea that existence is not plain and obvious to man—that it can only be validated by the process of deduction from the innate, intrinsic contents of his consciousness. This means that man’s consciousness consists of some faculty other than the faculty of perception. Thus Descartes considered the contents of a man’s consciousness as the irreducible primary and absolute, to which existence or reality has to adhere to. Is this what you call an absolute truth?
To make it very clear why Ayn Rand attacked Descartes’ archaic, invalid cogito ergo sum, which you consider to be an absolute truth, she wrote:
“The basic metaphysical issue that lies at the root of any system of philosophy [is] the primacy of existence or the primacy of consciousness. The primacy of existence (of reality) is the axiom that existence exists, i.e., that the universe exists independent of consciousness (of any consciousness), that things are what they are, that they possess a specific nature, an identity. The epistemological corollary is the axiom that consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists—and that man gains knowledge of reality by looking outward. The rejection of these axioms represents a reversal: the primacy of consciousness—the notion that the universe has no independent existence, that it is the product of a consciousness (either human or divine or both). The epistemological corollary is the notion that man gains knowledge of reality by looking inward (either at his own consciousness or at the revelations it receives from another, superior consciousness). The source of this reversal is the inability or unwillingness fully to grasp the difference between one’s inner state and the outer world, i.e., between the perceiver and the perceived (thus blending consciousness and existence into one indeterminate package-deal). This crucial distinction is not given to man automatically; it has to be learned. It is implicit in any awareness, but it has to be grasped conceptually and held as an absolute.”
Now going to your ignorant, pathetic attack on Aristotle, Ayn Rand and induction. You wrote the following statements: “You see where pure reason lead Aristotle? What, do you think, is the reason why a very intelligent and first class mind as Aristotle got it very wrong in physics, astronomy, biology and basically all of science? I am not downgrading Aristotle’s contribution to philosophy and logic –I am an Aristotle fan, after all, and between Plato and Aristotle I’d bet my but on Aristotle any day — what I am asking you about was his failure to discover the modern theories of science despite his superlative intellect. Why was Aristotle’s theory of motion wrong? Why was his theory of gravity? His theory of forces? His theory of momentum? Answer: he was not empirical enough; he was not experimental enough.”
Aristotle who lived thousands of years ago truly understood how man could gain knowledge, as well as the function of man’s cognition, which you and some so-called intellectuals of the modern era miserably failed to understand. In his hierarchy pertaining to induction, demonstrative reasoning, particulars, perception and universals, Aristotle contends that: a) induction starts with sense-perception of particulars; b) it derives from particulars, hence it is impossible sans sense-perception; c) induction is the only process to grasp universals; and d) demonstration, which is the deductive form of knowledge, proceeds from universals.
We use the process of induction when we begin our reasoning process from particulars to universals. Thus we start with what exists and then we move to universals. Induction and deduction are the process of developing and applying concepts. The first pertains to the process of grasping the facts of reality and of integrating and of consolidating them into unified concepts, while the second is the process of absorbing new instances under an already known concept. Since you consider Ayn Rand an insignificant and “unoriginal” philosopher without reading any of her books except probably second-hand, dishonest reviews, let me tell you that she had strongly defended inductive reasoning better than any philosopher in the past century. Just recently a physicist and philosophy professor, David Harriman, and Dr. Leonard Peikoff, a philosopher, explored and tackled the significant role of experiment and mathematics in confirming and justifying generalizations in physics. Harriman contends that philosophy- a science that edifies scientists the ways to be scientific- is an inductive science.
Your attack on Aristotle, Ayn Rand, and induction is also unoriginal. If Ayn Rand is the subject of most nihilist, irrational, and dishonest criticisms in the liberal media today, Aristotle and induction have been the subject of assault by some irrationalist philosophers since the time of Immanuel Kant, David Hume and Karl Popper. You have simply parroted the illogical argument held by Hume and Popper against induction. Popper agreed with the idea of Hume that “there is no argument of reason which permits an inference from one case to another.” Both argued that induction depends on observation for its validity. And this is also your main argument against induction. You said: “The laws and theories of science are not absolute for the following reasons: the facts and theories of science are inductive generalizations inferred from a finite body of observations, data and evidences.”
But this is not the case. Induction does not depend on observation alone for its validity. It depends for its validity on the Law of Identity. Existence signifies identity. A is A means a thing is what it is. For instance, the actions of a particular object or entity form part of its identity, which means that entities exist, which possess identity.
Existence signifies identity. This means that it is impossible to exist without being something, and an entity can only be what it is- A is A. Thus the way to knowledge is through valid induction- meaning it must be free from any contradiction- that rests upon the axiom of the Law of Identity. In ordinary language, A is A, or the Law of Identity, means “you cannot have your cake and eat it, too.” This is very elementary. All invalid criticisms against induction is always grounded in the fact that the irrational critics overlooked the Law of Identity, and this is the case of both Hume and Popper.
Induction played and still plays a very important role in man’s civilization because all knowledge of language and of entities were gained or obtained inductively and not intuitively. If you consider induction insignificant then all the acquired human thought, all language, and all knowledge of the world and reality would be insignificant as well.
In regard to your so pathetic attempt to repudiate Aristotle and Ayn Rand, let me quote the latter, whom I consider the greatest philosopher on earth:
“Observe every anti-Aristotelian, every mystical, school of thought in any philosopher since the time of Aristotle up to the present, and you will observe that, directly or indirectly, and usually quite implicitly, the philosophers rest their attack on reason on their attack against the law of identity. It is the law of identity that every irrationalist is attempting to attack, to destroy, and to eliminate from human thinking. And it can’t be done. The law of identity is an axiom which has to be used by its opponents in the very act of denying it. But if you want to untangle the complex, incredible, fantastic attacks on human reason, I will leave you with this clue. See in how many different ways the mystery of these attacks consists only of one fundamental issue: the attempt to negate the law of identity. And when you realize that, you will realize clearly the immortal, incomparable greatness of Aristotle and of his achievement”
You also said: “Another thing that is so flawed with your comment on Malthus’ thesis is that you think all scientific theories have to be true for all time. But that’s flat-out wrong.”
Again, I never stated that “scientific theories have to be true for all time.” Go back to my argument above. Here you’re simply attacking a straw man by distorting my position and by replacing it with another version that does not in any way represent my original position.
I have to repeat here what I have stated in my first post:
“Both the anti-population advocates and the environmentalists demand for more government powers. They believe that population growth would lead to what most of them fear—a so-called Malthusian catastrophe. This anti-population philosophy devised by Thomas Malthus in the early eighteenth century, which was imbibed by Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich and the rest of the modern-day environmentalists and the so-called population experts, postulates that “the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.” Despite the fact that it was developed about two centuries ago, this Malthusian theory still poisons most modern-day population intellectuals. Malthus wrote his thesis for irrational men at the time when such things as genetic engineering, wireless technology, high-end machines and apparatuses, innovative architectural engineering, among many others were still beyond the imagination of man. Malthus, his followers, and fellow thinkers believed that man is a helpless being who cannot improve his status on earth.”
You said: “The prerequisite of a Malthusian trap is a population that grows faster than the growth of production. That prerequisite was satisfied in the times before the Industrial Revolution, thus the Malthusian trap.”
Although I don’t think that the above-quoted has anything to do with what I stated in my original post, I think I have to address the fatal error in your argument. Are you now saying that we must go back to that pre-industrial revolution era in order to “satisfy” what you call the “prerequisite of a Malthusian trap”? If this is the case, then you’re agreeing with my statement that “Malthus wrote his thesis for irrational men at the time when such things as genetic engineering, wireless technology, high-end machines and apparatuses…” thus his argument is simply a myth and never scientific. You’re somehow agreeing that Malthus wrote his illogical, invalid thesis for people like you. May I remind you that you claimed earlier that Malthus’ thesis was scientific during his time, but it is no longer scientific today.
Here’s another fallacy in your argument: “The prerequisites are not satisfied today, thus the exponential growth of the human population. But the situation will not last for long; the earth has a limited carrying capacity and the day is drawing near when the growth of our production cannot beat the growth of our population, hence the need for conservationism for the sake of our species’ survival.”
This is the reason why an individual must embrace an integrated philosophy by deliberately, consciously understanding the relations between his metaphysics and epistemology, and how these two basic foundations of philosophy relate to his ethics and politics. Thus the basic principles that one must embrace should not contradict or clash with one another.
First, the mystical theory of Malthus, which you believe to be true, is invalid or incorrect. His population principle is the very foundation of the environmental movement or the conservationist philosophy, which you fervently support. Its alleged validity is the term “earth’s carrying capacity,” which refers to the number of people living in a particular area. The apologists of environmentalism or environmental conservatism also introduced a new term, “ecological footprint,” which is a measurement of the number of units a particular land area an inhabitant uses. This scheme is a clear inversion of the term “carrying capacity.” However in practice, this scheme is totally unscientific, a proof that you really don’t know what you are talking about.
Your pathetic, ignorant defense of Malthusian trap simply shows that you are a skeptic, and that you don’t believe that man has the capability to improve his status on earth. This statement of yours—“ the earth has a limited carrying capacity and the day is drawing near when the growth of our production cannot beat the growth of our population”— simply proves that you’re flat-out wrong in your philosophy of death. You claim to be very good at science, yet you don’t even understand the role of economics in our lives and in the survival of man.
Again I repeat what I stated in my original post:
“Because of the continued development of science and technology, man is now able to command nature. If man wants to live on earth, he must regard reason as his absolute and believe that his mind is valid and that ideas matter. To counter scarcity of food, scientists discovered genetic engineering. In the Philippines, Filipino scientists developed a scientific formulation at the Philippine Rice Research Institute decades back to genetically manipulate rice production in the country. But since most politicians did not value rational philosophy and ideas, this innovative undertaking was slowly overshadowed by what they call “practical programs” and “pragmatic results.” Before, television sets and radio were only for the rich, but the ‘greedy’ capitalists who were only after money managed to offer these “luxuries” to average-earning people through mass production and competition. Before, computers were as large as a single-storey house, but because of continued innovation and discovery, innovators and capitalists now offer affordable computer units and laptops in almost all part of the globe.”
Now I don’t believe in shrinking resources. There are shrinking resources because man’s freedom is shrinking. What do I mean by this? If world governments allowed economic freedom to flourish and if the stupid environmentalists and their nihilist cohorts (e.g., the secular humanists, freethinkers, and religious people) stayed at bay and kept their stupidity a private matter, there would have been a new technological and scientific renaissance on earth. Technological and scientific development is only possible in a free society. By free society I mean an informed society. A society that does not regard man as a sacrificial animal or the means to the ends of others. And we would only be able to achieve a free society if men truly understood the real essence and concept of reason.
However, instead of directly rebutting my argument against Malthus and the Reproductive Health bill, which is one of the major issues in our discussion, you adduced a lot of unrelated issues and misrepresented and distorted some of my arguments. The issues that you should have addressed are the following:
- If your science tells you that we must “conserve”, how will it be done? a.) Through the use of government force (population control programs); b) Suppress economic and industrial activities; c) Stop scientific development since they use natural resources; d) all of the above?
- If you’re a defender of reason, you should know the impact of “population control” programs on freedom and individual rights. How will it affect you as an individual?
- What is the role of economics and technology in the improvement of man’s life?
- What is the ethical system that a man must embrace in order to live as a logical, rational, and productive human being? This issue is important because the ethical system that most Free-Farters embrace is the morality of, for, and by the lemmings: Altruism.
- What is the best and most moral political system that a man must support and establish in order to guarantee economic and scientific development, protect his rights and freedom, and ensure his survival from natural or man-made calamities?
Another pathetic, hilarious point you made is the following: “You are confusing an a priori proposition with an a posteriori proposition. That is an error in elementary logic.”
That statement reveals why you are so deeply flawed in your way of reasoning. It reveals why you don’t even see the danger of the Malthusian population principles and the Reproductive Health bill. It shows you’re simply parroting what you learned in your philosophy and science classes without even understanding them.
Now let me tell you what’s wrong with this “elementary logic”— a priori and a posteriori dichotomy by Immanuel Kant. Kant’s analytic-synthetic dichotomy is nothing but an illogical concoction that aims to undercut man’s cognitive function. This dichotomy, characterized by equivocations and circumlocutions, naturally results in the specious precept that a factual proposition cannot be necessarily true, and that a necessarily true proposition cannot be factual.
Immanuel Kant’s analytic-synthetic dichotomy, which you embrace and which is the result of some people’s inability to identify that logic is our only method of cognition, must be repudiated, discarded as false because it commits two certain forms of errors— 1) metaphysical, which is the split between contingent facts and necessary; and 2) epistemological, which is an invalid view of the nature of concepts.
Since you think that Ayn Rand’s philosophy of science and epistemology is “very outdated” (though I’m pretty sure you didn’t read any of her books), let me quote her:
“The failure to recognize that logic is man’s method of cognition, has produced a brood of artificial splits and dichotomies which represent restatements of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy from various aspects. Three in particular are prevalent today: logical truth vs. factual truth; the logically possible vs. the empirically possible; and the a priori vs. the a posteriori. The theory of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy presents men with the following choice: If your statement is proved, it says nothing about that which exists; if it is about existents, it cannot be proved. If it is demonstrated by logical argument, it represents a subjective convention; if it asserts a fact, logic cannot establish it. If you validate it by an appeal to the meanings of your concepts, then it is cut off from reality; if you validate it by an appeal to your percepts, then you cannot be certain of it.”
Now allow me to make my personal observation of your ignorance and the fatal contradiction in your Popperian, Kantian, and mystical philosophical perspective. If you’re really aware of the significance and of the function of logic, you would have readily and easily grasped what’s wrong with the Reproductive Health bill and the Malthusian idea of “ecological conservatism.” I’m talking of the practical, reality-based application of logic. We don’t only learn logic or philosophy by studying at UP or any so-called sophisticated school in the country. In fact most of our philosophy professors are Kantian. For your information, Ayn Rand regarded Immanuel Kant as her intellectual enemy.
In this blog I stated why Kant is Ms. Rand’s intellectual adversary:
“Ayn Rand considered Immanuel Kant her intellectual enemy. Kant, according to her, did not directly destroy reason; his works were designed to distort the concept of reason. The main tenet of the philosophy of Objectivism is “existence exist” and its metaphysics is “objective reality.” Kant’s philosophy is the total opposite of Objectivism. Kant divided man’s world into two: the phenomenal world, which is not reality, and the noumenal world, which is unknowable. Logic tells us that if the noumenal world is unknowable or cannot be perceived by man’s mind, how did Kant discover it? Did he discover it through the help of an unknowable mystical being? The philosophy of Kant waged war on man’s mind and this is the reason why Ayn Rand called him her greatest intellectual enemy. As a philosopher, Ayn Rand understood the role of philosophy in destroying or improving man’s mind. Kant was indeed the “witch doctor” of the Middle Ages whose intention was to close the door of philosophy to reason. We have seen the influence of his philosophy today. His followers and the mini-Kantians of today are simply carrying on the destruction of man’s mind.”
If you really thought that you’re good at logic, philosophy, and science, then you would have known the danger of the RH bill and environmentalism or ecological conservatism. Logic is not merely about memorizing Kantian principles or the obsolete, mystical, irrational philosophies of Kripke, Quine, Russell, Wittgenstein, Frege and “the rest of the analytical schools of philosophy.”
I have clearly argued the reason why I’m strongly opposed to the RH bill, and I have yet to see your detailed, logical explanation why this socialist legislation must be enacted into law. Your support to this evil bill and ecological conservation is the practical, real-world, or reality-based application of your logic, philosophy, and everything you learned in college.
If you really want to destroy Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism, better start reading her books and don’t just rely on second-hand information like what your fellow Free-Farter did. Get back to reality and try to learn more!
I suggest that you read the books of Ayn Rand, particularly her non-fiction books, and then compare them to the irrational, third-rate philosophers you encountered in college or in your reading. Try to learn more about: “Karl Popper’s Assault on Science.”
 Rand, A. (1990). Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. New York: Plume.
 Rand, A. (1963). For the New Intellectual. New York: Signet
 Rand, A. (1984). Philosophy: Who Needs It. New York: Signet, 24
 Rand, A. (1990). Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. New York: Plume,126