Illusive Mind

The Unquestionable should be questioned

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Square Circles and other such Nonsense

 

Fortasse Veritam Non Est means “Perhaps Truth there’s not.” Or “Perhaps there is no truth”.

It is not a maxim upon which any certain conclusion can be drawn, because certainty there is not. Why? Because it does not claim that truth does not exist, it merely entertains that possibility.

Fortasse, is the key word, perhaps. To accept it means that something is possible, to deny it means that it is impossible. To say that it is possible that there is no truth is to say it is possible that anything is possible. That the realm of things that may be ‘true’ or existant is infinite in its capacity. The possibility of possibility itself.

Standard philosophical theory tells us that this is not the case, that there are well defined limits on what is possible. There is physical possibility, that which can coexist with the law’s of Earth physics. And logical possibility, that which can coexist with the laws of human logic.

It is no problem to entertain physical impossibilities because they simply need to be relocated to another planet, perhaps another universe. A heavy human walking on (liquid) water is considered impossible only because of our parochial attachment to the theorized physical barriers of this world.

There is not great intuitive leap in supposing that the world that we know is not the limit of the universe and to deny something’s existence in this world does not work to deny its existence at all.

This is not the case one we enter the realm of logical impossibility however. An object that is both a square and a circle at the same time cannot exist in any universe because it is contrary to itself, it violates simple logical laws. Intuitively this seems right, it simply makes no sense for the terms themselves are contradictory. These things lie outside the realm of human comprehension they are indeed nonsense.

It is interesting then that logical impossibilities are often used in Zen practices to prompt the student to reach Satori (enlightenment). To attain in the mind what is seemingly unattainable.

Can you yet see the same parochial attachment that is rampant in this distinction?

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2 Comments:

Blogger Joe said...

Have you read Meinong's "Theory of Objects"?

11/10/2004 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger Illusive Mind said...

Hey Joe, I have done a little study on Meinong, the realm of non-existent objects, golden mountains and so forth. It is interesting, though I regard it as a long held confusion between realities in philosophy.

For what does it mean to claim that something, let’s say a golden mountain does not exist. Does it mean that I myself have not encountered such a mountain before, that it is -sigh- physically impossible. These kinds of questions presuppose direct access to an objective reality.

In the context of my later posts it makes more sense to say that the golden mountain that is referred to has almost equal ontological value as any other mountain. It exists in language, like any other, a construction of our conceptual intellect. The only difference is there is no sense data connected with the golden mountain.

Thanks for the question Joe.

11/12/2004 01:11:00 AM  

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