Monday, February 28, 2011

The limitation of Rationale


I wanted to club this topic with one on the conception of God, but because of the limit for a blog post that I have self-imposed, I thought of dealing with both of them separately. I am presently an agnostic, the reasons for which will come below. The reason why I wanted to write on the conception of God is that, very often we have none, or at best a hazy one, and still fight over it.

Coming to the current discussion, people often over look what are called ‘perceptions’ and see rationale as a disparate entity. Take the most beautiful of all sciences – Pure Geometry. You have what are called ‘axioms’ – which form the building blocks for theorems. A situation with only theorems would be like that in fig. It would be a complex network with no actuality, no concrete existence. All our arguments would then be in a circle.  Perceptions are what make theorems or logical deductions possible. For us to prove that a unique circle passes through 3 (non-collinear) points there should be 3 points. The existence of these points shouldn’t depend on something else.  Take the Archimedes principle. The perception here is that things weigh less in water/fluids. This can’t be derived but can only be ‘sensed/observed’. Based on this building block, further ‘theorems’ or conclusions can be derived. Put differently, there has to be a point where we stop asking “why”.  If we don’t, things will be in an infinite chain as in the figure. Some things are only axiomatic, and these are the result of sensual causality. If this be the case, we at once understand that rationale or reasoning cannot exist without perceptions.

The tricky part about perceptions is that they are not common for all of us. As I said in one of my earlier blog posts, you cannot convince a blind guy about the existence of sun based on direct visual experience. But that is the only direct way to prove its existence. Not only do perceptions differ, even among people with common perceptions, the ability to perceive- through our senses- is very limited. To instantiate, micro-organisms exist but are beyond the range of our naked eye. Light of very high intensity is beyond our range, so is that of very feeble intensity. Ditto with sound vibrations. One last example, it is well nigh impossible to count the number of hair strands on a normal guy. But we sure know the number is finite, otherwise the guy would never go bald. These examples only go to prove our limited perception capacity. And unfortunately, there cannot be any worthwhile deductions without perceptions.

Quick questions with the above primer: “What if God were axiomatic? What if God were a perception?” With such ridiculously poor capacity to perceive, hazy conceptions and no perceptions of God, the safest and most sound position is that of an agnostic. Also, these questions only highlight the need for a better conception of God, if there is one. To sum things up, rationale exists in connection with perceptions or axioms, and these axioms are related to our senses. Finally, our senses are very poor and limited. Will write on the conception of God in the next blog post. Ciao!

2 comments:

Arun said...

The trouble with using the excuse 'our perception is limited' is that you would have to end up accepting every FAIRY tale... not just that it is a bad idea, but it also shows HOW silly that agrument is.

In cases like this, you gotta use occam's razor. !

Shiva said...

1. My post doesn't ask you/any one to believe every fairy tale that you come across. It is that something intangible prejudice at the back of your head that has made you extrapolate - and mind you very poorly.

2. The post only justifies my agnosticism - neither does it prove/disprove the existence of God.

3. If you still don't get it, please count the number of hair strands on a guy with thick hair and report that number to me, if you can.

4. The post only goes to say that we are very limited ourselves. That perceptions are limited is not an 'EXCUSE', it IS the way things are. I am not giving you any fairy tale to believe, I am giving you VERY TANGIBLE EMPIRICAL EVIDENCES - try proving that sun exists/rises in the east to a blind guy (go back to 3, if you still don't get it)

P.S: I am an agnostic. I don't know what an occam's razor is. (A mixture of.....ORIGINALITY!)