Wednesday, February 08, 2006

More on Manata and Meta-Data

Paul Manata took the time to respond to my post. His response can be found here. Paul wastes no time in misrepresenting me:

I mean, these guys actually think that the laws of logic (not just our thoughts of them) are actually material entities!

This is not true. I never said that actual logical laws were material entities. I did say they are material, but I said they are meta-data or properties of material entities. More specifically, I said that logical laws were concepts used by humans to help understand the nature of the reality we exist in.

Maybe it will help if I say it like this: I assert that both gravity and the laws of logic are material, but I do not assert that gravity, or logical laws, are separate material entities themselves.

Manata then speaks about his views on the laws of logic:

...but I don't think that they are concepts. You can have a concept of a law of logic, but a law of logic is not a concept. In "A Companion To Epistemology" (ed. Dancy and Sosa) a concept is "... a way of thinking of something - a particular object, or property, or relation, or some other entity" (p.74, emphasis mine). So, I may think of my fiancé that she is beautiful, but is this concept my fiancé?! Basically, Kinney shows his ignorance of both concepts and logic.

Manata seems to be insisting that the laws of logic are actual separate entities if I am reading his fiancé analogy correctly! I have never heard anyone familiar with logic claim that logical laws are separate entities themselves! Does Manata think that the laws of logic are separate, immaterial entities? I am going to take a dictionary definition here to defend my position. says that logic is A) A system of reasoning; B) A mode of reasoning; C) The formal, guiding principles of a discipline, school, or science. That sounds a lot like a conceptual tool to me. At any rate, it sure doesn't imply that logic is a separate entity, like Manata's fiancé is.

Of course, I must admit right now that Manata does not typically like it when I use the dictionary, as he has called it bad form before when I called it in to play. I am interested in seeing Manata's definition for logic.

At any rate, Manata cannot escape these truths. The laws of logic, like the theory of gravity, are conceptual tools used to understand the way reality works. What we call gravity and logic are simply properties of the matter/energy that the universe is comprised of. Properties of matter/energy are not independent entities themselves, but are data that describe data. They are the proverbial meta-data of the entities to which they belong.

Manata then continues on his fix of considering logical laws independent entities:

No, if I interpret Moore as saying that they are instantiations that does not rescue Moore from the problem of universals! Actually, what I said was that if Moore wants to take these as instantiations then he has the problem of universals! So, does Kinney even read and grasp what I'm saying? It appears not. So, interpreting Moore in Kinney's way actually brings up the problem of universals! That is, how can one entity be multiply exemplifiable? Kinney here shows he not only doesn’t understand concepts, logic, but he also doesn't understand the problem of universals.

First off, let's look at the (gasp!) definition of "instantiation": To represent (an abstract concept) by a concrete or tangible example: “Two apples... both instantiate the single universal redness"

So logic is a concept, and the logical laws written in a book are concrete representations of the abstract concept of logic. That's assuming that we agree on the dictionary definition of the word "instantiation" which I'm not too sure Manata will agree with. But at least I have more ammo to support my earlier contention that logic is a concept and not an independent entity.

But let's get back to the universals problem. Manata said, "That is, how can one entity be multiply exemplifiable?" Remember though, that I specifically clarified earlier in this post that logic is not "one entity" as Manata put it. Logic is a property of reality, not an independent entity. But what if I were to say that logic was an entity and that it applied singularly to the entity of "reality"? Would it still be "multiply exemplifiable" if we considered logic to apply singularly to the single entity of reality?

Paul continues:

A logical law doesn't require matter for its instantiation. Also, it does not "depend" on matter for its existence, otherwise it would be contingent. Laws of logic are necessary in all possible worlds. There is no possible world were laws of logic would not/do not hold. So, what about the logically possible world, "matterless world?" Logic would hold in this world, and therefore cannot "depend" on matter for its instantiation. Furthermore, we're talking about logic qua logic, not the instantiation of logic.

Manata has it exactly backwards. Just last night I was watching the Science Channel and there was a special on the multiverse theory, where there are an infinite number of universes, all with different sets of rules. The rules change between universes, but the one constant thing is matter. Astrophysicists interviewed on the show talked about how the laws we operate in break down at the big bang singularity level, and how universes can duplicate themselves and have different laws between them. No physicist in the show ever implied that the laws were constant while matter was not. It was actually the other way around. And no scientist in the show implied a matterless world. In fact, they all implied that matter/energy is the one necessary thing for a "world" to even exist. What world can exist with no matter/energy, but with laws to govern said nonexistent matter/energy?

Remember, that if logic is a property of matter (logic is meta-data, and matter is data), then the logical laws would only exist if matter/energy was in that "world" too. I think the physicists on the show I watched last night would agree with me, as they clearly implied it when talking about the multiverse theory.

Regarding meta-data, Paul had this to say:

Huh? A concept is data about data? What about the concept: meta data? is that meta data about meta data?

Let me clarify. Thoughts are electronic signals in your brain. That is the data. These electronic signals are interpreted by your brain to have meaning. That meaning is the meta-data. And to answer Paul's question, the concept of meta-data is not meta-data about meta-data. It is just like every other concept. That seems like a silly question to me.

Regarding my claim that meta-data is material, Paul says:

Again, this is nothing but an assertion. Kinney just asserts this junk and offers zero arguments to back it up. I mean, he just thinks he can announce his view point and therefore that settles it?

Did Paul forget the part where I used a sound wave analogy? Or when I used a computer software analogy? Does Paul want to argue that a sound wave and a software program are both immaterial? Because that's what it seems he is saying.

Furthermore, Kinney cannot know, by observation, that "all meta data" is material.

True, I cannot observe all the meta-data in existence to confirm that it is all material. And Manata cannot know, by observation, that anything, including logic, is immaterial. Manata also cannot know, by observation, that God exists.

Kinney's argument:

1. All meta data is material.

2. Logic is meta data.

3. Therefore, logic is material.

Every premise is questionsable. Not one is obviously true. Furthermore, not one(!) of the books I have on philosophy or logic defines logic as "meta data" (not even Ayn Rand, Kinney's hero). Actually, and this is most embarrassing, logic is contentless. It has not "data."

Ayn Rand is not my hero. Maynard James Keenan is my hero, for the record. I even state this on my MySpace page that is linked from this blog. Where did Manata get this idea that Rand is my hero? I'm not even an objectivist.

And can Manata back up his assertion that logic has no data, or does he just assert? Manata should follow his own advice. All concepts are meta-data, and logic is a concept. Logic helps us make predictions about the universe and understand how things are. Logical concepts make claims about the properties of matter/energy. Sounds like it has data to me.

I'm wondering if Manata and I are using the same definition of "meta-data"?

Manata then provides arguments for why logic is immaterial, answering my previous charge that he cannot provide an argument. Thank you Paul for doing so. Lets look at them:

1. Material things are extended in space.

2. Logic is not extended in space.

3. Therefore, logic is not material.

Logic is not an entity, but a property. Properties are extended in space to the degree that the matter/energy they are associated with is extended in space. The speed of light is material just like light itself is material. Windows XP is material just like elecro-magnetism is material. And logic is material just like matter/energy is material.

Here's another:

1. If laws of logic are a material entities then they has location in space.

2. Laws of logic do not have location in space.

3. Therefore laws of logic are not material.

Again, the laws of logic are not material entities, but properties of material entities. So this argument is incorrect as well.

Here's another

1. If logical laws are necessary then they hold in all possible worlds.

2. Matter-less world is possible world.

3. Logical laws hold in matter-less world.

4. If laws of logic are material then they would not hold in matter-less world.

5. But they do hold in matter-less world.

6. Therefore, laws of logic are not material.

Premises 1, 2, and 3, and 5 are incorrect. Man do I wish I had a transcript of the show I saw last night on the Science Channel! A matter-less world is not a possible world. Logical laws can change between universes, but the existence of matter/energy is a prerequisite for the existence of a universe, according to the interviews of the scientists I watched last night on the Science Channel.

Here's another

1. Laws of logic are universal entites.

2. No material thing is a universal entity.

3. Therefore logic is not a material thing.

In response to premise 2, I would have to ask if the universe itself is A) material, and B) a universal entity?

Secondly, I never claim that if you can't burn a law of logic then it must not be material. All Kinney does here is show that he does not have the skills required to represent others arguments properly.

Oh boy. Manata didn't realize that I was trying to give a deliberately literal interpretation of what he said as a way to illustrate the way-too-literal interpretation that he made of what Dr. Moore said. Let's look at what Paul said regarding logic and it's materialism/immaterialism:

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

...And, does the good doctor seriously think he could crumble up a piece of his logic book, wet it and put it in a straw, and shoot someone with a law of logic?

See what is implied? Is it too far of a stretch for me to take Paul literally and to conclude that he said that if you cannot burn it or shoot it out of a straw then it isn't material? Is Paul conceding that I shouldn't have read him so literally like the way he read Dr. Moore so literally?

Before I post this, I want to take the time to thank Paul for responding so nicely. I read his entire post and didn’t feel insulted or offended as I usually do when reading what he writes about me. I don’t know if Manata consciously reduced the insults in his writing or if it was just be chance, but either way I want to thank him. So thanks Paul!


Anonymous said...

Jesus, could Manata ride this hobby horse any harder?

*burns a syllogism*

Zachary Moore said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Zachary Moore said...

Spot on. This is really fascinating to me. Did you read bleedingisaac's comments in Paul's post? He argues for logic as a linguistic construct thusly:

"If the human brain naturally evolved to think in terms of limiting and relating material objects, my belief that the laws of logic are linguistic/grammatic has an even firmer, naturalistic foundation.

In this case, logic would certainly appear universal, because the brain naturally imposes relationships upon material objects."

I interpret this as saying essentially the same thing that you're saying regarding meta-data. Could meta-data also be understood as an autocommunication of the brain that manifests itself in the emergent mind as a concept?

Francois Tremblay said...

Actually, *I* think that the laws of logic are physical entities. Too bad that I don't waste time with Manata any more. I've got better things to do.

Aaron Kinney said...

Zach, I think so. Thats a good way to look at it. The electro-chemical signals (data) that are passed around in your brain's neurons automatically manifest themselves in the emergent mind as a concept (meta-data). I like that idea.

Zachary Moore said...

Hmm... so ultimately, the only point of contention between you and bleedingisaac is whether metaphysical implies immaterial.

Aaron Kinney said...

To be honest I havent read bleedingisaac's comments very much in the past couple posts on Paul's blog and my blog.

breakerslion said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but there seems to be some confusion between "material" and "matter". To use a hackneyed example, If I yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre, and someone is trampled, a judge will find my utterance material to the events that followed. This will be especially true if there was no fire. Here then is a case of pure conceptualization with no basis in the real world outside my fevered brain, and because of its effects, you might even say it mattered.

Does this help? :-)

E-3 said...


I think the confusion lies in that Paul can't see how you are getting from the particulars to the universals.

What we call gravity and logic are simply properties of the matter/energy that the universe is comprised of.

How can you associate the property of one particular to another?

Logical laws can change between universes, but the existence of matter/energy is a prerequisite for the existence of a universe, according to the interviews of the scientists I watched last night on the Science Channel.

I am really confused now. Are you saying (or at least what these scientists are saying) that the properties of matter can change? If so wouldn't that throw the uniformity of nature, reliability of sense impression and laws of logic (as we currently know it) out the window?