Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Philosophy can be a hobby, and that is the only excuse for the following.  We are looking into how it is that men apply different standards to themselves than they do to gods. If you are allergic to a certain kind of verbal vapidity, read no further. 

All this came back to me after reading a recent article discussing A. J. Ayer's so-called mystical experience.
This happened before certain chemical interactions and sites in the brain were the stuff of pocktail ponversation. (He died in 1988.) But now such accounts often get reductionistic comments along the lines of  a site in the brain that needs god, or whatever, a certain chemical has the same effects. Such "explanations" are worthless in that the same could be said about any experience, so pointing this out has no cognitive value. Because something might be programmed in the brain has no direct bearing on its ontological status. (Told you I was slumming. Jan Cox found such philosphical chatter amusing at best, useless at most.)

But this is fun, so let's talk about what the 20th century fondly referred to as the "verification principle.")
This was the idea that if you could not verify something  empirically your statement about whatever was nonsense. Ayer was a leading expositor of this idea.
(I haven't read enough to know how he explained metaphor.) But using this rationale the positivists threw out metaphysics.  Okay with any card carrying mystic.  And the threw out the past. Check. External world, need that. good. Hmm, maybe we are logical positivists after all. I. But wait---all this and you retain, not just the external world, (good) but you keep, that monkey in the skull, the chattering, oh let's call the rational mind, what, say, a "freddy." (No personal references here, freddy just has a certain simian similarity.) 

How did this happen, how is it that you are not bothered that the vp  (verification principle) itself  cannot be "verified." You are applying a different standard to god, than to man, is one way to put it.  Another way is to analyze the freddy for a certain regal, don't question my authority, aspect of the rational mind. 

When you lop off the past, philosophy (metaphysics), theology, and the subjective interior world, and leave just the monkey swinging behind bars, you could be accused of throwing out the ocean with the mermaid.
(For instance---there is nothing subjective about man's internal world----there is no accounting for human communication without assuming some similarity between minds. Because words referring to the external world do not apply internally does not deny the consistency and studyability of the interior side of man.)  It is like, having lopped theology off of reality, the chattering mind grabs some of its attributes for itself, like a coup de dieu. 

What the VP leaves is an incomprehensible world, with just a monkey clinging to a crown.  This leaves unexplained the critical structure of this mechanical mind, the filephilia of our kind of monkey, the motive for viewing reality as a table tennis table and asserting against all the evidence that this flat green table is all there is, as if it could hang suspended in (what?) and not evoke questions.  And what about those monkey bars? They in themselves (the reality of being confined in a physical space.) should provoke curiosity. To say nothing of a topology of humanity which includes such goings on in its so-called centers of learning.  (Ayer was Wykeham Professor of Logic at the University of Oxford.) Least I submit to an agneurism, let's close with the thought of Thomas of Aquinas, the above
is just straws in the wind. (Too bad he wasted most of his life.)