Re: belief, faith, truth

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Sat, 18 Feb 2006 17:09:22 +0100

Hi Ben,

Le 13-févr.-06, à 21:18, Benjamin Udell a écrit :

> Hi, Bruno,
> You're tending -- too selectively, arbitrarily -- to try to go by what
> was meant by words many hundreds and even some thousands of years ago.

Plotinus appears to be a rationalist. I don't care what he means by the
terms he used. I look only at the validity of its arguments, and I
discover some interpretation of its theory in term of self-reference
(arithmetical, or analytical, with our without some angelical
(infinite) inference rules).

> Original or early meanings can be very illuminating, but a lot has
> happened since then, and there is some degree of _stare decisis_ in
> these matters.

In the long term progress could be monotonic (growing), but in front of
unsolved problems we must be open to the possibility of the need to
backtrack. What do you mean by _stare decisis_ ?

> Words like "property" (originally, a non-essential differentia, i.e.,
> an idiosyncrasy) and "physics" (which meant "pertaining to growth,
> especially to plants as growths," as in _phyton_, "plant") could not
> withstand the standard which you apply. And it's best if you seem to
> prioritize your theory much, much higher than you prioritize the
> correcting of wrongs which you believe to have been done in
> theologically related politics over a thousand years ago. And you
> can't simultaneously do that and justify the use of the word
> "theology" as the correction of an ancient wrong and restoration of
> the original, legitimate meaning. People just don't care _that_ much
> about pedigree or ancient politic!
> s. And if you don't really care that much either, but are basically
> just seeking a justification, it's good to pick one which will bear up
> under the weight which you place on it, so that you don't give the
> appearance of over-prioritizing such ancient occurrences. And if you
> do actually care that much, then you should consider whether you care
> about your machine theory even more. It's good to give your intended
> audience the sense that you share & understand their concerns and are
> familiar with the same intellectual world as they are.

I have already try to hide the theological aspect (in the lille thesis)
but apparently it makes things only less understandable.

> Your best arguments on terminology all seem founded in the present,
> e.g., the vagueness of the word "metaphysics," plus its causing
> opprobrium among scientists.

Another annoying feature of the term "metaphysics" is that it has made
quasi impossible for the physicians to do metaphysics with "meta"
having the corresponding sense of the "meta" in metamathematics (the
"old" name of recursion theory). Now, most physician would say (at
least before the rise of the quantum) that such a "meta-physics" is
just physics. That is: physician, together with their laboratories and
their libraries just obeys to ... the laws of physics. OK, but when you
say that with quantum mechanics, you are going toward Everett and the
many-worlds. Everett is the first serious "meta-physician" in that
sense. Well Galieo and Einstein (and others) did pave this
'desanthropomorphization' process. Embedding the subject into the
object of study. Embedding the spectator in the spectacles, said the

> However, if its causing opprobrium among scientists is a sufficient
> objection, then the opprobrium which the word "theology" will cause
> among scientists is a sufficient objection too.

I am trying to formulate a, admittedly fundamental, problem and to
suggest a way to tackle it. Only pseudo-scientist can yell. Others
could try to refer to some publications if they believe that the
problem has been already solved. Remember; scientist are modest; they
never refer to truth, and when they do, they are no more scientist. It
happens after pension, sometimes; or during the coffee pause (important
for the brainstorming and research, but avoided in the publication.

> The opprobrium would likely be even greater, and the objection,
> therefore, that much stronger. Add to that, the opprobrium which would
> be caused by your use of the word "theology" among religious people
> generally in proportion as your theory were to gain fame or notoriety.
> What will they say?

Normally, anyone having faith, should welcome any rationalist, that is
modest, approaches. What could they fear? Ghazali makes already the
point in his critics of Aristotle, Plato and the philosopher. See:
or its work "the incoherence of the philosophers" (Tahafut
(About the word Falasifah, I think Ghazali's work makes the word
Falsifiable from it, but falasifah ment "philosopher". The greek word
"philosophy" (love of sageness) apparently gives rise to falsifiable
through Gazhali!)

> Worst-case scenario: They'll say and believe that you're founding a
> religion of worship of some Big Machine in the Sky.

Not really because I say the contrary. Machines and Angels got the
truth by looking deep inside themselves.

> Imagine having myriad academic people and highly religious people
> united, as strange bedfellows, against you, and declaring against that
> which they call the nightmarish bastard offspring of a shotgun wedding
> between religion and science.

Given that the essence of science is modesty, only bad faith needs
authoritative dogma, and yes, can fear research, both outside-emiricist
research, and a fortiori any form of mystical rationalism, like the
(neo)platonist one.
The Athenian Platonist Academy of Athen has *already* be closed, you

> Even Romeo's & Juliet's circumstances were less forbidding.
> Of course lots of people have startling and evocative theories,
> deriving physics from various abstract considerations. The odds of
> your particular theory's becoming famous seem small to a comparatively
> ignorant outsider like me. Yet, if you have confidence in the
> persuasiveness of yourself & your theory,

It is not my theory. It is a theory which exists since a very long
time, and I have just made a progress, may be.

> then you should think very carefully before actually naming your
> theory as a new and scientifically based competitor in the religious
> field,

Science just cannot be in competition with theology. Science can be,
and has been and apparently still is, in competition with dogma. Be it
"dogma" of pseudo-scientist, tyran, or any entity believing she can
make the thinking in your place.
I respect all religion which respects my freedom of enquiry and

<snip> : I agree somehow, but the nuances I would like to add would be
too much anticipation at this stage. OK, I will try to take into
account your feeling and I will NOT use the term theology in my next
paper. I will probably transform "Elementary testable Machine theology"
, by "self-referential interpretation of Plotinus". Reserving
"theology" for a book later as uv suggests, thanks.

> Since you're talking not only about metaphysics but also about
> machines as metaphysicians, maybe there's some way to coin a word
> there.
> "Metaphysicianology" sounds & looks awful.
> "Metaphysicistics." Better, but not much better.
> "Machine metaphysicisms."
> "Metaphysicology." "Metaphysicalistics." Those are, at least,
> pronounceable.
> I'm not doing too well. It's definitely easier to criticize your word
> choice than to supply you with a better word choice. Still, if plain
> old "metaphysics" is out of the question because of the reception
> which it gets, then "theology" would seem even more out of the
> question.

Nooo..... please: no "meta" and no "physics". Since Aristotle we are
too much "physics" centred, if you want more on my opinion.
Thanks any way for the comments which I will take into consideration.

Received on Sat Feb 18 2006 - 11:11:59 PST

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