Friday, August 1, 2008

Sye's definition of "proof"

Here's a small but I think very telling observation worth making at this point. Sye has just defined a "proof" as a valid argument with true premises.

This really does explain a lot.

For that's not what a "proof" is, in fact.

Suppose I am trying to convince you that I have an offspring. You don't believe me. As a matter of fact I do have an offspring. I now offer you this "proof" of that fact:

I have a daughter
Therefore, I have an offspring

This argument is valid. And its premise is true, too. But obviously I would not ordinarily be considered to have "proved" to you that I have an offspring - not in the sense of giving you good grounds to accept that conclusion, or in the sense of demonstrating to you, beyond reasonable doubt, the truth of my conclusion.

Why not? well, in order to provide a genuine "proof", I must not help myself to any unargued for and contentious premises, as I do in the above example. That is why it fails as a genuine proof. (In fact, the premise presupposes the truth of the conclusion.)

Sye's "proof" similarly contains an unargued for and contentious premise. So it's not a genuine proof either. Whether or not its a valid argument with true premises.

Sye can call it a "proof" if he wants (he can just insist it is a valid argument with true premises). But only by using the word "proof" in his own very peculiar way - a way that prohibits him from then accusing anyone not convinced by his argument of any sort of illogicality or unreasonableness.

I think this goes some way to explaining why Sye's so convinced he has a proof, despite the fact that he very obviously doesn't. He is confused about what a "proof" is. Is that fair comment, would you say, Sye?

Sye - is it your view that if we find your argument unconvincing and so reject your conclusion, we are not guilty of any sort of unreasonableness or illogicality? Given your definition of "proof", and given your argument does help itself to an unargued for and contentious premise, it looks like it has to be your view.

29 comments:

Paul C said...

I'm really enjoying all of this, although the sight of Sye sinking deeper into his script is depressing because I simply don't know how to help him.

However I am struck by the strangeness of his position. Sye claims to have a logical proof of God's existence - but he also argues that atheists are not justified in using logic. So according to his own premises, he is presenting an argument which atheists are not justified in accepting.

get_education said...

Paul,

Right! But the problem does not end there. Every time he rejects any of our justifications he uses ... logic! (his version of it) So, how are we supposed to understand his rejection if we are "not allowed" to use logic? Are we allowed only when he rejects our explanations but not when we reject his illogical stuff? I do not know if that is a contradiction, because I cannot use logic! (I have not "justified it").

So, we cannot understand his justifications, and we cannot understand why he rejects our explanations.

Of course, Sye's answer to these would be "How do you know that you cannot accept my justifications nor understand my rejection of your explanations?"

Well, we do not know, we can't know, we know nothing, we understand nothing. Unless, Sye could grant us the use of logic. But I do not know that either. So, it is more like a maybe we could if Sye granted us the use of logic. But I do not know that either ... and so on ad infinitum ...

This would be fun if it weren't because I feel so bad for this guy. I should not, he is happy and he thinks he has exposed our logical fallacies, but I still feel something in my stomach.

G.E.

PS. While reading this Sye was tempted to copy just the part where we say we cannot use logic and type this single word as a final expression of triumph:

Amen!

anticant said...

Stephen says Sye is confused about what a proof is. Of course he isn’t! Sye has the right answers to EVERYTHING, because God tells him. He is pure Humpty Dumpty:

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them - particularly verbs: they're the proudest - adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs - however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'

'Would you tell me, please,' said Alice, 'what that means?'

'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. 'I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'

- LEWIS CARROLL: Through the Looking Glass

I certainly don’t mean to, whatever anyone else does. And, G.E.,there’s no need whatsoever to feel bad for Sye – he is triumphantly happy in his invincible certitude, like all asylum inmates are. What I feel in my stomach is “yuk”.

get_education said...

anticant,

What I feel in my stomach is “yuk”.

Hum, yeah, that might be it.

And NOW, I have to go read through the looking glass, thank you very much! :-)

G.E.

anticant said...

Well, G.E. if it introduces you to Lewis Carroll, all this Sye-liness will have done at least some good!

Before "Through the Looking-Glass", you should start with "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland". Both are Victorian children's classics - still very popular, not least because of the author's whimsical use of logic.

Lewis Carroll was the pen-name of the Rev. C.L. Dodgson, a brilliant Oxford mathematician. He also wrote "Symbolic Logic", a deeply serious and in places highly amusing work which I would be most interested to see Stephen and others commenting on here. Edited by William Warren Bartley III, it was published for the first time in full by Harvester Press in 1977.

Sye TenB said...

@ Stephen Law,

Really Stephen, I expected better from you.

”… in order to provide a genuine "proof", I must not help myself to any unargued for and contentious premises, as I do in the above example. That is why it fails as a genuine proof. (In fact, the premise presupposes the truth of the conclusion.)”

I have argued for the truth of my premise, i.e. that it is true by the impossibility of the contrary. You may not like this argument, but to say that I have not given it is to be disingenuous. Also, on the other thread I have asked you to show ONE proof that is absent of presuppositions, I repeat that challenge here.

Now Stephen, in the “God and Logic III” thread, you accused me of using strategies that I simply do not use. It has never been my argument that all atheists are crude reductive materialists, as you have accused me of suggesting, simply that atheists cannot account for universal, abstract, invariant entities, and it is not my argument that atheists do not, or cannot use logic, simply that they cannot account for what they are doing. I expected you to either support your claims, or retract them. So far, you have done neither.

I showed up here over a week ago, at which time I placed the challenge before you to tell us how universal, abstract, invariant entities such as the laws of logic can be accounted for in your worldview. What am I supposed to conclude from the fact that you have yet to do this?

Cheers,

Sye

Sye TenB said...

Paul C. said:

"However I am struck by the strangeness of his position. Sye claims to have a logical proof of God's existence - but he also argues that atheists are not justified in using logic."

I have never argued that atheists cannot or do not use logic, just that they cannot account for what they are doing.

Cheers,

Sye

Andrew Louis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Louis said...

Sye,
a vary brief point (phrased differently from earlier): (let me first remind you that have accounted for the laws of logic in my worldview and you have yet to refute that)

You often accuse us of "begging the question". Since you believe in the absolute nature of logic, then you'd certainly agree that "begging the question" refers to a circular argument, and therefore is not a proof. I say "NOT A PROOF", because you of course accuse us of not having proof as we're, again, begging the question.

However, you state vary succinctly that:
"All ultimate authority claims have a necessary element of circular logic, but not each (read only one) is valid."

So you're admitting that your argument begs the question and is therefore not a proof. Not only are you admitting it, but you’re saying it's NECESSARY. So really you’re saying that it's NECESSARILY the case that you don't have a proof because you’re violating one of your absolute and thus violating the nature of God.

(oh boy, violating God)

The only way for you to salvage this is to break one of your absolute laws of logic. From what I've said above it's clear that you’d have to violate the LAW OF NON-CONTRADICTION (which you believe to be absolute as well). I say this because of course, in order to follow the laws of logic and conclude to a valid proof, you cannot be circular without begging the question. But, if your argument is necessarily circular as you say, then as you use it it must not be circular at the same time in order to be valid, therefore violating the non-contradiction law.

(and violating God’s nature yet again, sheesh)

So you only have a proof if you can violate God’s nature.

Nick said...

Sye,

"I have argued for the truth of my premise, i.e. that it is true by the impossibility of the contrary."

That isn't an argument - it's just an assertion. You have to actually demonstrate why the contrary is impossible - not just assert it. Please provide a sound logical argument for that assertion, if you have one.

"I showed up here over a week ago, at which time I placed the challenge before you to tell us how universal, abstract, invariant entities such as the laws of logic can be accounted for in your worldview. What am I supposed to conclude from the fact that you have yet to do this?"

And we have asked you repeatedly for the last week to justify by means of sound logical argument that the laws of logic can only be accounted for on your worldview. What are we supposed to conclude from the fact that you have yet to do this?

Anyway, for your enlightenment, I am providing the following links (again).

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/logic.html

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/induction.html

Maragon said...

"I have argued for the truth of my premise, i.e. that it is true by the impossibility of the contrary."


But you have never once proven this to be true, Sye.

Surely you understand the difference between ASSERTING something and PROVING something?

Maragon said...

"I showed up here over a week ago, at which time I placed the challenge before you to tell us how universal, abstract, invariant entities such as the laws of logic can be accounted for in your worldview. What am I supposed to conclude from the fact that you have yet to do this?"

He answered you several posts ago. As usual, you're not bothering to read what your opponents are telling you.

Stephen Law said...

Hi Sye

I'll have to brief right now...

(i) you ask for an example of a proof free of presuppositions. First tell me what you mean by a "presupposition" I don't want any more Humpty Dumptying from you.
(ii) I have shown how atheists can accommodate objective laws of logic. You just didn't understand because you are confusing the two questions (a) how to justify logic and (b) what metaphysically underpins logic. I guess I could spend ages explaining all this...
(iii) In any case, your challenge to atheists to show how they can accommodate logic is irrelevant, as we are discussing your website proof, which I contend is not, as it stands, a proof, on any reasonable understanding of "proof". You have yet to show it is. Endlessly repeating your challenge is not relevant because, even if you could thereby show that the laws of logic require God, you still would not have shown that I am wrong to say that your "proof", as you present it on your website, fails. And THAT is what we are supposed to be discussing, remember? Hence I shall not allow myself to be sidetracked by that irrelevant challenge (which I have, in any case met - see above).

Sorry if I unfairly accused you of characterizing all atheists as crude reductive materialists. I take that back.... I just wondered what the relevance of the stuff in your proof about the laws of logic not being material was. I guess its not relevant, then?

Stephen Law said...

Oh yes - and, as Nick constantly reminds us, you have presented no argument in support of your premise (1). We looked behind the continue button. It's not there.

If it's there - where is it? What is it?

There is a crap argument behind the contained ink, though - an argument refuted ages ago.

jeremy said...

This debate has helped clarify things for me, and I feel that Stephen has conclusively shown to any reasonable person that

(i) Sye's "proof" is no such thing.
(ii) There is no intrinsic difficulty in atheists using or justifying logic.

Sye is just irritating now. At what point do you have to simply ignore the man who keeps insisting that the earth is flat, despite your extremely patient arguments to the contrary?

I feel it's time to let Sye go.

David B. Ellis said...

Jeremy's probably right. We've spent a very long time debating with someone who is saying that if God didn't exist 2+2 wouldn't necessarily equal 5.

I feel brain cells dying as I type in protest for the way I'm wasting their time.

Andrew Louis said...

1.)The laws of logic are absolute.
-Prove it
2.)Because they’re absolute in the mind of God
-prove it
3.)because without him we wouldn’t be able to prove anything
-prove it
4.)Because of the impossibility of the contrary
-Prove it
5.)because without him we wouldn’t be able to prove anything
-prove it
6.)Because of the impossibility of the contrary
- Prove it
7.)because without him we wouldn’t be able to prove anything
-prove it
8.)Because of the impossibility of the contrary
-Prove it

That's all the proof I need, makes perfect sense.....
Well Sye,
I’m ready to jump on the Christian bandwagon now, why don’t you pass me the wine and some of those communion wafers you got there; I’m hungry.

Andrew Louis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Louis said...

Oh, we’re off to see the Wizard,
The wonderful Wizard of Sye!
You'll find he is a whiz of a Wiz
If ever a Wiz there was.

If ever a wonderful Wiz there was
The Wizard of Sye is one because
Because because because because because.....
Because the contrary is impossible.

get_education said...

anticant,

I have read Alice in Wonderland. And I agree with you that something good came from me "listening" Sye's babbling. I will read Through the looking Glass, and I just learned, from you, about that other book on symbolic logic. Thanks.

---
As of Sye, maybe I can only conclude (allowed because I am not talking to him), that Sye's rules of logic differ from those most of us share. under such logic and worldview asserting that "God is the explanation, because of the impossibility of the contrary," is valid and proof at the same time in and of itself. That differs greatly from what we understand as proof. It is not a matter of whether we like it, but of whether we see it as a proof or as a mere assertion (or as a charged premise). Let us also remember that our "justifications" get rejected by Sye, because he "does not like them." Thus, the only conclusion we could agree upon with Sye is that we do not have a common background.

For arguing there has to be an agreed upon background. Since that cannot happen with Sye, as continuously demonstrated by Sye himself. Then there is no way to having any debate. So, Sye fails at convincing us that he has any proof, because his understanding differs from ours, and we are not about to change what we understand to be proof just for him.

Since he asserted too that if he allows us to use logic, without justifying it, against him he loses at the outset, and since we do not see any reason why we would need his permission, we can conclude, safely, that he has lost [at the outset]. We can also safely conclude that he has no proof except according to his own worldview and version of logic, which is not the same as ours.

No point in any following Sye. I could not care less explaining to you how I know, nor do I need to justify/account for my use of logic, nor do I need to present to you any standards, nor anything. We cannot agree on a common background, there is no debate possible. You said that yourself. Have a nice life.

G.E

anticant said...

G.E: I think you will enjoy "Through the Looking-Glass" even more than "Alice in Wonderland". It is plotted on a game of chess, with all the correct moves being made for Alice to start out as a pawn and end up a queen. Very clever.

As for Sye, he strikes me as a nice and well-meaning person, and remarkably good-tempered, but also hideously dangerous because like all closed-mind fanatics whose thinking moves in small circles with unbreachable perimeters, he lives in a dream world and it is impossible for him to think that he might just possibly be wrong.

We had the same phenomenon with Ibrahim Lawson, the Islamic headmaster who teaches [=brainwashes] his pupils that the "truth" of Islam is a given absolute, not to be questioned. And you see it with all totalitarian closed mental systems - communism, fascism, nazism, Roman Catholicism, fundamentalist Christian sects, Scientology, etc. etc.

The best antidote to this sort of irrational nonsense is to read Popper: "The Poverty of Historicism" and "The Open Society and its Enemies" - devastating demolitions of absolutist and idealist philosophy.

Happy reading. Have fun.

Anticant

Tony Lloyd said...

Hi Anticant

Add W W Bartley's "The Retreat to Commitment" to Get_Education and Sye's reading lists (and your's, if you haven't read it already). Philosophically it's a follow-on from Popper and the Critical Rationalism put forward in "Open Society". Bartley looks at fundamentalism (in the States), its fight with liberal theology and the mistakes liberalism made. The main "mistake" is identified by Bartley as trying to secure foundations rather than criticising (a bit like Sye. No, a lot like Sye, in fact what Sye does wrong). His solution is Comprehensively Critical Rationalism - criticise everything. Good, and enjoyable, read.

BTW Stephen, an update on "The War for Childrens' Minds". I was trying to get my wife to choose it as her book-group book. I failed. But I did get her to read it and it is, slowly, being passed around the mothers of this little area of London.

anticant said...

Thanks, Tony. I'll certainly look at that. But I doubt whether any of our suggestions will be on Sye's reading list - so far as he's concerned, "It's All in the Book". [Do you know that wonderful Johnny Stanley record?]

anticant said...

Here it is, folks - words plus mp3 recording of original:

http://www.turoks.net/Cabana/ItsInTheBook.htm

get_education said...

Thanks Tony!

Tony Lloyd said...

Little Bo Peep, it all makes so much sense.

Stephen Law said...

thanks for the plug, Tony!

Anonymous said...

Being, possibly, one of those disreputable crude reductionist atheists whose idea of philosophical proof is Dr Johnson kicking a stone in reply to Bishop Berkeley, I was pleasantly surprised to learn something from this debate - thank you Andre, Stephen, David Ellis, anticant, nutcasenightmare and many others for your contribution to my education.

Alas, Sye, I remain as puzzled as ever as to just how your god accounts for the laws of logic any better than magic accounts for the rabbit in the hat.

Alice fans should read the Annotated Alice by Martin Gardner for its many informative comments.

The appropriate Monty Python reference is perhaps the dead parrot sketch.

Kiwi Dave

get_education said...

Alice fans should read the Annotated Alice by Martin Gardner

Kiwi,

THANKS YOU FOR THIS! I had no idea that there was an annotated version ... annotated by Martin Gardner! Wow, I HAVE to see that!

G.E.