Logical Gal extols Excluded Middle Law

12 Mar

Excluded Middle

Tools are for the using.  And I was reminded yesterday, listening to a discussion, how helpful the laws of logic can be!

The conversation centered on the origins of the universe.  It seems that everyone has a theory or possible explanation for how our universe came into being or whether it has always existed. So how are we to judge?

First of all, to even hold a rational discussion presupposes that words have meaning.  And when we put words together we make truth claims that are either true or false. We all use and therefore at least implicitly rely on logic, whether we acknowledge it or not.  So to deny the laws that are present is folly.  Humans didn’t INVENT these laws, we simply have discovered them.  They are part of the universe.

rational v. irrational

And if they do NOT exist and if words hold no meaning that we can all agree on, then there is no point ever having ANY conversation.  We just end up sharing gibberish.

Back to the discussion I followed this week.  One man laid out a way of thinking about origins that relied on the Law of Excluded Middle.  This law states that there is no 3rd or middle option given A or nonA.  For example, a woman is either pregnant or NOT pregnant. There is no other possibility.

Regarding origins, the reasoning expounded proceeded this way:

  • The universe either had a beginning or it didn’t.
  • If it did have a beginning (and due to the articulation of the Big Bang Theory, most people accept that the universe is NOT eternal), something caused it or something did not.  
  • (If something did NOT cause the universe to begin, then it had to cause itself.  But that is irrational because then something would have to BE (to cause the universe) and NOT BE at the same time.  And that is impossible because of the Law of Non-Contradiction.

Law of Non-Contradiction

  • If something caused matter, time and space (MTS) to appear, it itself is MTS or it is not.  (If matter, time or space created the universe, then we are stuck with a problem of infinite regress, i.e what caused the PRE-matter, time and space that created the universe)
  • Whatever caused the universe to come into existence is either immaterial or it is nothing.
  • and finally….we are left with the conclusion that what caused the universe has to be immaterial, because nothing cannot create something.

Nothing produces nothing

The man pushing back against this line of thinking balked when pressed by this series of either/ors.  When the Law of Excluded Middle was articulated , all he could repeat was the assertion of a possible 3rd option.  I held my breath, curious to learn something I hadn’t previously considered.  But all he offered was that ONE DAY, scientists might come up with a different explanation.

I am VERY thankful for tools that help me sort out, categorize and think logically through complicated matters.

Question:  How does the Law of Excluded Middle help you?

10 Responses to “Logical Gal extols Excluded Middle Law”

  1. Marcel-Marie LeBel March 25, 2015 at 10:55 pm #

    You have the answer at hand! You can`t have something and nothing at the same Time! So, lets keep some time insulation between what exists and nothingness. Simple! But only time itself can guarantee never to touch nothingness. Conclusion: A) The universe is a contradiction that can never be tested for failure of the RNC. This is because time is RNC’s loophole. The spontaneity (evolution-expansion) is this resolution in progress … never to happen. B) A universe created from nothingness according to the rule of non-contradiction may only contain one substance: the time/process. Everything else in the universe must obey RNC. Marcel,

    • Maria March 26, 2015 at 10:36 am #

      Marcel – merci, thank you for your comment. But I really don’t understand what you mean by ‘time never touches nothingness’ And aren’t there ideas we accept without testing that could never be tested, but we accept as truth? We call them axioms. And who is your authority that states that a universe created from nothingness ‘is allowed’ to contain the time/process. I teach French by profession and do not have a science background.

      Maria

      • Marcel-Marie LeBel March 27, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

        Maria,

        Merci pour la réponse.

        The substance time/process keeps evolving so that there is never a “at the same time” situation that would make the RNC fail. For that reason, everything in the universe has to be this time/process. (note: the universe is itself a truth system; find the starting impossibility, the substance and the rules and, the logical description is then the actual process the universe uses to exist and evolve)

        Of course, a Universe that is logic, as shown by the effectiveness of mathematics rooted in logic, must also but operational on logic i.e. be able to perform addition, substitution etc. For that reason, only one substance (of one nature) may exist; can’t add apples and oranges.

        So, the top argument stems from the RNC which content of our universe obeys; it calls for time as only substance possible.
        Bottom argument confirms from operational logic requirements that only one substance is allowed. Both work together under the single impossibility of RNC logic

        Please see the essay below for the full discourse.

        Thanks,

        Merci,

        Marcel,

        You may consult the essay at the link below for more details.

        http://fqxi.org/data/essay-contest-files/LeBel_Metaphysics_Possibili.pdf

  2. Maria March 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

    Marcel – thanks for your explanation and the linked resource. I’ve just printed it out and will consider it carefully. I appreciate the time you have taken to explain your thinking!

    • Marcel-Marie LeBel March 29, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

      Maria,
      Good reading. I would appreciate your questions and opinion.
      Thanks,
      Marcel,

  3. Maria March 29, 2015 at 8:55 pm #

    Bien sûr – will do. We’re on a road trip tomorrow, so I’ll have time.

  4. Maria March 31, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    Marcel – I read your essay last night. I have never heard a definition of truth like yours, but it makes sense. A truth gives only one choice. You are either pregnant or your’re not.
    Here are some thoughts that I had AS I read your piece
    – the example of the sun, the moon and a star whose light left each body at different times – what you call a coincidence I would have just explained as us perceiving the light at the same time and that it was interesting that the the departure of those light waves was different. The idea that remains with me is that to be accurate with our language, we should always say – This is what I perceive instead of The apple is red.
    -I liked how you explained the need for humility and that we all fill in the blanks with assumptions, our best guesses (abductive reasoning?) and then give reasons why we think thus. Every worldview carries assumptions with it. And coming to a knowledge of the truth is a narrowing. An openmind is not a benefit unless you eventually close it on truth!
    – I didn’t know that ‘natural metaphyics’ is a name for logic. And I want to chew on what I sense is true – that we ‘create our own reality out of only a small selection or window from all the signals the universe offers.
    – asking about the nature or essence of something that is beyond the physical characteristics – like asking, ‘What is the nature of a tree, what is its ‘treeness’ ‘ or what is the nature of God, what is his godness?
    – the first assertion you make that doesn’t seem to be backed up with reasons in your essay is on page 4, under the heading The Subject Matter….. You claim that the universe has substance to support its lasting existence AND an INTERNAL CAUSE to support its spontaneous evolution. You’ll have to explain why you think that.

    That’s all I have time to write for now. We’re on the road to visit friends.
    Are you a professor in Ontario?

    Maria

    • Marcel-Marie LeBel March 31, 2015 at 10:45 am #

      Maria,
      Thank you for reading, absorbing/analysing my essay.

      – Natural metaphysics is about the universe, nature, stuff by opposition to pertaining to soul, love, God etc. Explaining the universe logically without resorting to deity is very recent; even Newton shaped his assumptions based on his beliefs; he started with a God perfect space and time.

      – In natural metaphysics, the nature of something is what this something is by itself. The following sentence shows a usage that describes well how I use the term of “nature”; — The substance, being dynamical, may be of different variations in different places. These variations are still of the same nature and are therefore logically operational on each other. —- This sentence is like an equation with variables. Lets replace the variables by their values: The substance (Time) being dynamical (evolves spontaneously at a certain rate) may be of different variation (rates) in different places. In other words, because time is dynamical, it has one variable property, the rate (of whatever it does) and this rate is open to having different values; the rate of time may be increasing or decreasing locally, in different places and these are “variations” of the same nature.. Maria, if you understand this, can you think of a better way to formulate this?

      – The universe has existed and evolved for 13 billions years .. long before we ever showed up; it does not need our presence or perception in order to exist or evolve. The two pillars of metaphysics substance and cause are required to explain lasting existence and spontaneous evolution. Here again; if you can think of a better way..

      – The way I see it. In order TO DO something with the universe you need the physical description of physics/science of HOW the universe behaves. If you want to understand logically WHY the universe does what it does by itself, you need a logical description of metaphysics. Both are complementary but mutually exclusive elements of knowledge. …

      Professor ??? No! BSc in Biology 1979 UofMontreal. 29 years as an expert in counterfeit money -RCMP Forensic Lab Ottawa. I retired at 60 in October 2014.

  5. Maria March 31, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

    Marcel – I appreciate the fuller explanation. I think I understand this aspect of time as substance. You talk about the universe existing and changing; I wonder what you would postulate as a first cause. Thanks also for sharing your career. Sounds fascinating. A book you would probably appreciate is Cold Case Christianity by a cold case homicide detective. A former atheist, he explored the question of Jesus from an evidentiary position.

    • Marcel-Marie LeBel March 31, 2015 at 10:20 pm #

      Maria,

      I don’t postulate about a first cause. That would not be natural metaphysics. I do believe in God, and out of respect, I am not ready to put him under a microscope or investigation. No matter how far this adventure brings us to, there is one mistake we should not repeat. So, here is the eleventh commandment, for those with a poor memory;
      You shall not look for God, anywhere else, but in each other.`

      Take care,

      Marcel,

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