Famous philosopher Thomas Nagel recently published a book questioning the hallowed dogma of strict, reductionist materialism. I have not read the book, but a philosopher friend recommended it to me. It’s nice to see someone daring to challenge the ridiculous control grid that is modern so-called academia. In a similar vein this week, a friend set up a Google chat where I was able to meet an MIT professor and debate certain questions relating to materialism and Platonism. While I have to tread lightly here, I want to make it clear that I am not advocating everything Plato taught. However, in the course of debating academics and thinkers, appeals to the hallowed tradition of Platonism and mathematics seems to have some weight as an inroad. I don’t think I made much progress in my discussion/debate with the MIT chap, but it illustrates for me further confirmation of the correctness of my own positions on metaphysics.
In the course of this conversation several ideas came to mind that highlight the impossibility of rank materialism. Many of them have been highlighted here before, but it’s always good to rehearse them, since modernity is so committed to this dogma without question. The first faulty presupposition is naive empiricism. The scientific and academic establishment is still dominated by naive empiricism as its sole epistemological approach. Believe anything you want, in fact, just so long as undergirding all of it is the ridiculous idea that “all knowledge comes through sense experience.” This is the ancient error of the sophists, nominalists and Enlightenment empiricists.
Caught up in the populist ideas of their times, these strands of philosophers and thinkers simply assumed that the intellectual climate that fostered “progress” was and is only had in circles that adhere to this doctrine. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since most in this school follow some form of what they would term “logic,” it is very easy to demonstrate that the claim “all knowledge comes through sense experience” is false by appealing to the sentence itself. The claim itself is an exceptionally strong universal claim about both knowledge and metaphysics. Given the propensity of those in this strand to bully theists for unsubstantiated claims, there is no possible way, on empirical grounds, to prove such a claim. The claim itself necessarily entails a whole host of metaphysical preconditions, too, which are anathema to naive empiricism. So the very dogmatic claim of naive empiricism, which even W.V.O. Quine, one of their own, showed was an impossible claim, is still quite impossible. In fact, you can read David Hume himself, the grandfather of modern atheistic materialism, for an elaborate explanation of how empiricism necessarily entails radical skepticism and is therefore utterly destructive to all knowledge. For example, in the Weekly Standard piece on Nagel’s recent workshop with materialists, we read:
“At the workshop the philosophers and scientists each added his own gloss to neo-Darwinian reductive naturalism or materialistic neo-Darwinian reductionism or naturalistic materialism or reductive determinism. They were unanimous in their solid certainty that materialism—as we’ll call it here, to limit the number of isms—is the all-purpose explanation for life as we know it.”
Since modern academia is not much more than a vast machine of brainwashing and propaganda, we cannot expect much, but as with most “educated intellectuals,” knowledge of Plato rarely consists of more than a smattering of the Republic and a few dialogues. My concern here is not to delve into Plato’s theory of the polis, but to highlight the metaphysics. Modern academia being the machine it is, they only know to follow the popular line of Plato as this, that or the other, and almost never hit on the fact that Plato was part of an esoteric tradition extending from Egypt and older cultures that had a specific cosmogony and cosmology that closely connected with anthropology, embodied in the classic microcosm/macrocosm analogy.
Since my opponents were not familiar with the Timaeus, we were at a bit of a loss, because the Timaeus exemplifies this tradition so clearly. I am not saying that all the statements about polytheism or creation by the gods is necessarily metaphysically correct or literal, but that there is a great amount of truth in the work that clearly extends back to an older creation tradition that is very similar to the Mosaic, where the logos or word is preeminent in the creation act. This means the external world, whatever ‘stuff’ one conceives it to be made of, is inherently rational and imbued with meaning and the manifestation of the divine energeia. The modern materialists hold the utmost opposite as their working presupposition: meaning and logos are merely social conventions foisted upon reality from finite, meaningless brains that resulted from equally meaningless materialistic process. On the contrary, what I further realized in the course of the conversation was how vastly different the approaches to the world as a whole were between us. My operating presuppositions so radically differ in my view of the world that it is very difficult to translate them into concepts that even make some kind of sense for the die-hard materialist.
My next argument after criticizing empiricism was the classic one relating to numbers which all materialists find a difficulty grasping. If take a logical entity like the number “7″ and consider that collecting “seven” objects alone cannot account for the invariant, unchanging and eternal conceptual nature of something like “7,” we can begin to see that a number proper is not like material things in a very fundamental way. In other words, the classic philosophical problem of identity and predication emerges as something impossible for rank materialism. What is a number, if it is clearly not a mere collection of these atoms? Even if the materialist affirms that “seven” is just the collection of some seven objects, it begs the question: is that particular collection the number 7? Clearly not, since the removal of one of the objects does not suddenly erase the number “7″ from existence. I apologize to more thoughtful readers that such basic philosophy has to still be recounted, since anyone who has taken philosophy 101 knows this is one of the first things you will discuss. Consider another illustration: which is the number 7?
The answer is all and none. This is the problem of the one and the many, a very dastardly problem for rank materialists. “Seven” the conceptual reality is therefore something that transcends each of these concrete particular symbolic representations. The pure materialists must always, of necessity, reduce all conceptual reality to some arbitrary collection of the molecules and atoms and arbitrarily predicate “sevenness” to those things. But if all reality is mere matter, the brains engaged in the process of predicating “seven” do not contain the same neural impulses that are firing to cause the concept “seven.” So the question can be reframed as follows: in the collection of numbers above, what is it that causes us to connect these different symbols? What, precisely, is the ‘nature’ of the connectedness? It cannot be simply what is happening in our minds chemically, because we are looking for the connecting principle or meaning behind these events. The chemicals in my head are not the chemicals in yours, so what is “sevenness”? Simply restating it is those molecules and these molecules begs the question, since assuming that the mind can pick out a certain collection of molecules as a specific object of predication just assumes materialism again. It is as if to say, “signs and symbols have no real ontological status beyond being token symbols of material reality because the chemical reactions in the brain that equate to being signs and symbols.” But this is logical and philosophical nonsense.
While I do not fully agree with Max Tegmark that all reality is purely math, per se, Tegmark is definitely on the right track when he talks about how the fundamental nature of reality is quite different from what these people imagine. Rather than adopting the ridiculous and childish idea that mathematics is an invention of human social construct, Tegmark explains that mathematics is very much at the heart of reality and very much something that precedes man. In contrast to the materialists and existentialists who hold that existence precedes essence, the worldview I espouse is quite the opposite: essence precedes human existence. Meaning and number are not random creations of chaotic process, they are the very fabric of reality itself, and are not dependent on the “invention” of some guy.
When we read the Timaeus we see that even at that early date Pythagoras, Socrates and Plato, had a conception of the fundamental structure of reality being based around geometry – the very archetypal forms of nature. In authentic education taught in the trivium and quadrivium, we know that geometry is number in space, while music is number in time. With the Timaeus, we can see that early in this tradition there was an almost magical conception of the idea that at a very fundamental level reality is geometrically structured into forms known now as the “Platonic Solids.” These forms can be seen in everything in our world, from the molecular level, to the cosmic level. The Platonic Solids follow upon the pattern of the One, the Dyad and Triad, which extend out to make all geometrical shaped and forms. These structures emerge everywhere in “nature,” and show that all reality highly structured and ordered, as opposed to being the product of random chaotic forces. for example, by the use of cymatics we can see that notes in music have a certain form when played on a surface that can demonstrate the geometrical structure they produce.
Only a fool would think that the platonic solids have chemical equivalents by random happenstance. On the contrary, these things demonstrate very clearly that we are right as positing an omniscient Mind as the Source of all these interconnected phenomena. This is more clearly seen when we examine the notions of linguistic philosophy and the problem of predication, which I have outlined elsewhere. It also shows that reality itself has its own metaphysical structure which functions as a precondition for even the possibility of knowledge at all, in a transcendental sense. By transcendental here, I am referring to “transcendental philosophy,” and not anything else.
From this point in the conversation, I went on to argue that the very possibility of creating an AI supercomputer or something like the Cloud assumes a world far different from what the materialist thinks. This sounds a bit odd at first glance, since generally speaking its the AI fanatics and tech geeks who are often the first to cry that computing so loudly heralds the dawn of the victory of the “materialist” worldview. On the contrary again, the ability to encode information in light, based on the fact that light itself is information is precisely proof of the opposite of what these fools believe. The ability to store information in a sort of realm of forms if you will, where algorithms and sets ‘stand for’ reality is an analogy of what must be the case on a more cosmic, interdimensional level. We cannot locate the essence of things solely in the concrete historical of a thing due to 1) the problem of the one and many I outlined above, and 2) the classical philosophical problem of identity over time. This does not mean that someone who takes the route I am mentioning de facto has all answers to all questions, either. But if our starting points lead us to the utmost absurdities, as raw materialism does, it must be jettisoned for real progress to occur.
I often reference Kurt Godel because the incompleteness theorum is a great example of why no system can be explained solely by the axioms that undergird the system. Godel showed this against Bertrand Russell’s challenge, yet many people are unable to make the connections as to what the implications of this are. Not only does it show that mathematical sets cannot be justified by reference to other mathematical sets, as Godel, Escher, Bach shows, this pattern emerges in other disciplines and areas of life. But even Hofstadter cannot seem to make the connection between this and why materialism is false. As I mentioned with Godel, a friend sent me an interesting piece the other day that appears to be true and confirms something he and I had been speculating about lately: is there something more sinister at work in terms of the suppression of Platonism and the promotion of rank materialism? Readers of my blog will know that I certainly think the promotion of communistic dialectical materialism is demonstrably true and “conspiratorial,” but is there a flipside to this idea, where truth about the actual nature of reality is being suppressed? Perceptive readers and friends will recall that I have made mention in the past of my suspicion that there is much more to Leibniz and Husserl in particular than is commonly known, and what my friend sent me especially perked my ears.
Apparently, I am not the first to wonder about this idea. A blogger recently put together a fascinating article about Godel himself coming to the same conclusion regarding the actual philosophical tradition we are now taught in the West. And who did Godel specifically pick as suppressed? Two Platonists were fingered - Leibniz and Husserl. The blog reads:
“Perhaps the greatest logician of all time, Kurt Gödel uncovered the existence of a world-wide conspiracy to make men less intelligent. For years Gödel had been very interested in the work of Gottfried Leibniz, whose characteristica universalis influenced Gödel’s use of symbolism in his famous incompleteness proofs, and went so far as to request copies of the voluminous Leibniz manuscripts to be brought to the United States during the second World War. Gödel initially claimed to have discovered evidence of a conspiracy suppressing Leibniz’s work—that Leibniz had in fact completed the famously unfinished (and unfinishable) universal language of thought, but had been prevented from publishing it. In conversation, Gödel suggested that the Viennese Academy of Science, officially inaugurated in the mid-19th century, had in fact been founded by Leibniz in secret some centuries before; its record books, which contained references to the complete characteristica universalis, had been systematically destroyed.”
And a commenter writes:
“I came across this in On the Philosophical Development of Kurt Gödel Author(s): Mark Van Atten and Juliette Kennedy on page 452-453 in a footnote:
“[After quoting Godel talkign about a manuscript of Husserl that had been removed from published record] Godel has made similar remarks about manuscripts disappearing, e.g., some of Leibniz’, which have sometimes been dismissed as symptoms of a possible mental instability on Godel’s part. But in this case, Godel was completely correct, and by way of proof he pointed Sue Toledo [92, p.9]”
So we have here another case of Godel’s allegations of important works being removed actually being evidence of his meticulous research abilities.”
This is both amazing and important. There is a characteristica universalis because Plato was right. Of course I cannot verify if this is absolutely correct, but it is something I have spoken to others about for a few years now. My intuition is almost always right. These last facts about Godel do not prove anything about the case against the materialist, but they do fit perfectly into why I think we will eventually win out in the long run against the materialist enemies and haters of truth. Because the world is actually so far from what they think, their “system” cannot win out in the long run. Anything at odds with actual reality can only fail in the long march of history. True, Plato argued with the sophists of his day, and Leibniz did battle with the materialists of his, but in our day things are coming to a head. The big discoveries in theoretical physics are coming to vindicate our view of reality as opposed to the chaos philosophers of nonsense. They fail to realize that they war against their own very being and logoi, and are thus doomed to fail. The solution to this dilemma is the notion of a single unified science, as Dr. Phillip Sherrard accurately explained.
Read the essay here: A Single Unified Science.