Tag Archives: Ontology

Logical Gal and Natural Selection

30 Apr

Nat Selection

In the last post I discussed how luck and chance have no attributes, no ontology. They aren’t anything real: neither a material substance nor an immaterial substance.  They are merely a description that some people ascribe to events happening with no seeming influence from any force.  As such they can exert no power on anyone or anything.  So wishing someone ‘Good Luck’ is pointless.

Similar to the concept of luck and chance is the phrase natural selection.   Before one addresses whether this is a concept that corresponds to reality, once must first define it.  Does natural selection describe something that is a real substance (again either material or immaterial) with attributes?  If so, then we would say it has ‘being-ness’ or ontology.  It has a ‘bundle of properties’. For an explanation of the Bundle Theory click here . If it is not something, but rather the descriptive process of change, then we know ipso facto that it is powerless.

According to Wikipedia, the term Natural Selection was coined by Charles Darwin who juxtaposed this newly described concept against artificial selection aka selective breeding.

How is natural selection akin to luck/chance?  Both terms are describing processes that have no being-ness.  As such, they have no attributes and therefore NO power or force or ability to influence anything.

Selective Breeding

But have you noticed that popular speech actually imbues natural selection (and luck) with abilities that can exert an influence?

You can see this gap in clear reasoning just by thinking about what the concept of selective breeding entails?  It implies a selector of traits to aim for.  I’m assuming that the only selector envisioned is the human kind.  But what kind of selector would a ‘natural’ one be?

  •   Does cauliflower have the ability to make that kind of decision? 

That is like the imaginary Mother Nature. Do you remember the commercial for Chiffon Margarine?  It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!

Mother Nature

Our takeaway – when we are trying to define and clarify a term it is helpful to sort out first whether the concept referred to is an actual substance or a process.

 

Logical Gal & the ‘stuff’ of luck and chance

28 Apr

luck

In French, to wish someone good luck, one says, “Bonne chance!”

But what ARE luck or chance?  They are actually descriptive words of what we think are uncontrolled, random outcomes. When we view the circumstances as favorable, we call that GOOD LUCK.  Contrariwise, awful events are considered BAD LUCK.

I used to wish student athletes headed off to a baseball or soccer game a cheery “Good luck!”   And they would reply with an enthusiastic ‘thanks’ and head out the door, or down the hall.  But once I became a Logical Gal, I began to think about my words in a more careful manner.  Just what was I hoping would guide the outcome of this player and his or her efforts? What WAS chance /luck, after all?  When students are about to sit for the SAT exam or semester finals, what do we mean by wishing them ‘good luck’?  Is it just a way of SEEMING to care?

Good luck on your exams

As it turns out, they are NO THING!  Chance and luck are just descriptive words.  They have NO ontological being-ness. They are truly nothing at all!  They have no power, no abilities, no force they can exert.  It is easy to see that they have no material properties.  And in a similar manner, they have no immaterial characteristics, either!  On the other hand, my immaterial mind CAN exert an immaterial influence over my fingers to press on the computer keys in a certain way.  Can chance do that?

This idea of luck being what determines outcomes is pervasive in our Western Society.  But don’t think the East is exempt from fantasy thinking!  They play with the idea of Karma. You get what you deserve!  What a horrid and frightening thought!  I deserve a whole hell of a lot of bad stuff.  God forbid He should repay me what I owe!

Question:  If you have already advanced past this superstitious social courtesy from pagan days of yore, what have you found to substitute as a way of send off before a trying event?  I’m using the French exhortation: Bon Courage!

bon courage

 

 

Logical Gal and defining God

14 Apr

First things first

In any argument, where we are defending a propositional truth, we must begin with clarifying terms.

I was reminded of the power of  this initial step while reading a way of thinking about the God hypothesis.  The book explored how to think through the question:  – does God exist?  and if so, what kind of God(s)?

The author took pains first to work through the idea that a transcendent, supernatural force was a better explanation than pure material happenstance for the existence of the universe.  What helped my thinking was the distinction he further made between a personal supreme being and an impersonal force.

Some thinkers have settled into deism – the belief that a supernatural being did create the universe and then left it to run on its own.  This being or ‘god’ is impersonal.

What the author did, then, was to cause his readers to think about what it means to be ‘god’. Here is what I retained from his discussion in my simple logical gal words.  The concept of ‘god’ refers to a being which is perfect in every aspect.  By perfect, I mean the ultimate, the most, the highest form of a quality.

By juxtaposing specific traits and seeing which form of god would be MORE perfect, one can arrive at a fuller sense of the concept.

Perfect God

For instance, which is better?

  • a personal god or an impersonal god? (think impersonal computer-type creator)
  • a god who communicates with his creation or one who just sets it in motion and leaves it on its own
  • a god who knows the outcome of every event or one who ‘learns’ as time unfolds
  • an all-powerful god or one who is limited by the self-determination of its creation

In other words, whatever you think of as the best in any category, THAT is what God is like.  If there is something better than how you have defined god, then that ‘whatever’ is god.

Philosophers call the nature or essence of something its ontology, its being-ness.  So even before one starts to argue for the existence of God, our minds natural GO there, to what is ultimate love and goodness and justness and mercy and kindness and truth and intelligence and power – all in one.

I’ll leave you with one thought and a question in this cursory exploration of the nature of God.  I maintain that the very fact that we even have an idea of what ‘perfect’ is, represents proof in itself that a perfect god exists.

Question:  How else would we have a sense of this attribute AND the degree which is ultimate?