Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Manata: If it Doesn't Burn, it Isn't Material

Paul Manata thinks that concepts such as the laws of logic are immaterial. Manata has a bone to pick with meta-data, to be sure. According to Manata, if you can't burn the laws of logic, then they aren't material:

...does Dr. Moore actually think that if he burnt his logic book he would be burning actual laws of logic?!

Of course not. Dr. Moore is much more intelligent than that. And so is Paul, but he doesn't want us to think so in this case. Paul wants to blur the distinction between data and meta-data, and pretend they don't exist. Paul also wants it to look like Dr. Zachary Moore doesn't distinguish between data and meta-data. Manata takes one of Dr. Moore's statements out of context and way too literally - seemingly deliberately - in order to mount an attack using the problem of universals:

Dr. Zachary Moore has said, when asked if the laws of logic are observable entities, that,

"Of course they are. I can observe them any time I want in my logic book at home."

Now, Moore happens to think that the human notations are the actual laws! I mean, let's say his logic book has this notation expressing the law of non-contradiction:


So, since that is the actual law then if a book had expressed it thusly:


then that would be a different law of logic! If not, then we see that the same law can be instantated in two different expressions. Now Moore has more problems on his hands, namely, the problem of universals.

Dr. Moore clearly meant that he could see the instantiation of logic by reading said book. He didn't mean that he actually had the law contained within the book. You cannot contain concepts on paper, but you can represent the concepts on paper via meta-data. When I read a book by David Mills, am I actually consuming his physical electro-chemical thoughts? Can I destroy his actual thoughts if I burn his book? No!

If Manata really does think Dr. Moore literally meant what he said, then Manata isn't as smart as he seems. But I am betting that Manata knows better, and that he knows what Dr. Moore meant to say, but is deliberately misrepresenting it to be mean, to attack strawmen, and to generally give himself a rise from his own strange behavior.

If Manata acknowledges what Dr. Moore meant to say, then Manata's attack using the problem of universals disappears, and instead the problem lays on Manata's shoulders for his strawman attack.

We can expose the flaw in Manata's arguments simply by replacing "logic" with "sound wave." A sound wave is material (I doubt Manata will dispute that, but he might). A sound wave depends upon other matter for its existence, just like an instantiation of a logical law requires other matter (like paper and ink) for its existence. A sound wave -what you hear, rather- is meta-data, just like a logical law written on a piece of paper is meta-data. And any given sound wave, like when you talk or listen to your Walkman, is an instantiation of the concept of a sound wave, in the same way that writing down a logical law is an instantiation of the logical concept you had in your head.

And what is a concept? A concept is an idea represented by electro-chemical signals in the neurons in your brain. A concept is meta-data. A concept is purely material, just like all other meta-data, including logic and sound waves and the operating systems installed on our computers.

And meta-data, for anyone who doesn't know, is data that describes data. So a software program, for example, is the meta-data, and the electro-magnetic 1s and 0s that the software is composed of is the data itself. Another example is the sound wave: a wave of energy/pressure moves through the atmosphere, which is the data, and then you hear words from that sound wave that contain conceptual meaning, which is the meta-data.

A sound wave is not burnable. A sound wave is not containable in a jar. But a sound wave is purely material. The same thing applies to software programs, thoughts in your mind, concepts, and yes, even logic. Why? Because all meta-data is material.

Manata cannot even provide an argument for why logic is immaterial. The best he can do is misrepresent Dr. Moore's statements by taking them way too literally, and then claiming that if you can't burn a law of logic, then it must not be material.

At least Manata has the market cornered on banana jokes.


Zachary Moore said...

I'm glad my humble comments can inspire such great posts.

Incidentally, I followed up with Paul by talking about light, but sound is just as valid an example.

Aaron Kinney said...

Sweet! LOL you commented before I got a chance to send you an email.

Yes, light is another good route to take for argumentation of materialism.

I also like using computers as an example, especially since computers can "conceptualize" and utilize meta-data much in the same way humans can.

Paul Manata said...


Paul Manata said...

Here is the "context:"

Paul: LoL are not observable.

Now, note that I said the laws of logic were not observable. I did not say that the instantiations were not observable, but the laws qua entities. This is a very important point. Now, Zachary responds,

Zachary: "Of course they are. I can observe them any time I want in my logic book at home."

And so we can see that I said nothing about their instances but the laws themselves. Zachary responded by saying that "they" are observable and that he observes "them" in his logic book. The best interpretation that Moore can receive, therefore, is that he switched subjects and equivocated. So, even on the best interpretation, Moore's still a hack.

Then, check out what transpired, Isaac. Remember, I said that he could not observe the laws qua laws. he said he observed them in a book. Then, I go on to say,

Paul: "You're not observing the laws qua laws."

and, what does Zach say?

Zachary: "Sure I am. Every piece of matter contains the laws of logic implicitly."

So, in the context of Zachary observing them in a book he wants to (now) say that he didn't mean that he observed *them* but only instantiations. But, notice that I said, in response to his book thing, that he wasn't observing laws qua laws. (Obviously this implied that I meant he was only observing instantiations of those laws. This would have been a perfect time for him to say, "I know I'm not, that's not what I meant." But(!) what does he say? He says, "sure I am!" Sure he is what? Well, keeping in context, he means sure he's observing the laws qua laws (as entities).

Then, to his comment about them existing in matter (which is ridiculous!), I said,

Paul: "All the laws of logic? How do they fit? How big is one? Why implicitly? How do you know? have you empirically verified this?"

Then Zachary says,

Zachary: "Absolutely. They're as big as the Universe and as small as an atom (maybe smaller). You find them wherever you find matter."

You see, Isaac, Moore thinks the laws of logic are located in mater, and are material themselves. But(!) it gets worse. Moore says that there are only three laws of logic!!!

Paul: So, there are many laws of logic?

Zachary: No, there's just the three.

Now, obviously I meant that if they all exist in pieces of matter, then there are many laws. Moore still blunders, though. He can't escape because there are not just three but many. That is, the law of identity, excluded middle and non-contradiction are in each piece of matter. Therefore, there are lawS of excluded middle, etc. Maybe Moore thinks that there are only thre numerically. If so, then how can they be in more than one place at once? That is, if one piece of matter has the three laws, and another piec e has THE SAME laws, then he's not escaped the problem of universals as Kinney says he has. Furthermore, he has just dismembered his materialism.

Anyway, this is some of the lunacy we see from the guys as Goose the antithesis.


Zachary Moore said...


Why is your post addressed to Issac? Talk about out of context.

I think Aaron's thesis of meta-data is a much more elegant way of communicating what I'm trying to explain about the laws of logic.

Let's take just one of them: The Law of Identity. A=A. When I observe an apple, it shows me that law. That apple is that apple, and not a banana. Neither is it any other apple. Anything that I observe, by virtue of its identity, is an instance of the Law of Identity. Similarly, the Law of Gravity is shown to me when I observe an apple falling. Each apple that falls does so not because each uses a different Law of Gravity- they are all subject to the same Law. Each time an apple falls, it is a separate instance of the Law of Gravity, just as each individual apple is a separate instance of the Law of Identity. Both Laws are properties of the Universe. In this Universe, apples are attracted to objects of greater mass, and apples are not able to be bananas. I don't see why this is so difficult to understand.

Your argument that Logic is immaterial seems to me to be irrational. How does an immaterial entity interact with a material entity? Conceptually, that makes no sense.