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Thomas J Donegan
Thomas J Donegan
Born January 22, 1958 Graduated 1976 Lawrence County Vo-Tech U.S.Navy, 11/76 - 10/82 Cryptologic Technician M-branch Graduated 1989 Slippery Rock University B.S. Mathematics, minors: Philosophy, History U.S. Government 1990 -2001 Various private sector Electrical/Electronics jobs 2001- present
 

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Dogmas, Knowledge and the edifice of knowledge

Aug. 16, 2017 1:01 am
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Our discussions regarding dogmas are actually precipitated by the manner in which dogmas have been recently characterized as purely a pejorative by writer’s professor Allen Shoaf and Bob Butler (Founder and Administrator @ bestthinking.com) at bestthinking.com. The characterizations in question not only claim that dogmas precipitate violence, but actually claim dogmas actually murder people. The individuals making such claims – regarding dogmas - don’t indicate whether the murders these dogmas commit are premeditated or whether the actions of the dogmas are crimes of passion…? We may want to return to that point (of course we would want to discuss whether dogmas are dogmatic in the commission of their murders; moreover we may contemplate what may happen if dogmas team up with assault weapons…), but we first discuss the edifice of knowledge and professor Allen Shoaf claims regarding the principle of non-contradiction.

In response to this assertion of mine: "The edifice of thought falls with the demonstration that the principle of non-contradiction does not universally hold; until such time we must hold - dogmatically - that it does" (tjd).

Professor Shoaf responded: No. This is a disastrous and murderous mistake. "Until such time" we "must" hold ONLY that we DO NOT KNOW. Any dogmatic assumption, any whatsoever, inhibits further effort to know. It comforts you to seem superior with your cynicism and calvinistic hatred of human striving, I know. But the scientist does NOT say, I hold such and such; he says, I DON'T KNOW and must search, relinquishing ANY dogma that fails as the search proceeds. This is a world-building difference in attitude, the difference between a hating and hateful dogma of human depravity (to which obviously you subscribe) and a will to ask what energy may reveal about the universe.

I am content now to turn my life and mind away from your nihilism.

Now of course part of my response follows (the full response is at the end, for any that may have interest):

Hi Allen!

Allen any and all fields of knowledge treat the principle of non-contradiction as an axiom, and must. It cannot be proven true! If it is false then it is both true and false simultaneously! Most people would call that insanity.

The following was not part of my response to professor Shoaf: Most people would call what insanity? To hold something to be both true and false simultaneously in relation to the same aspect of existence, and yet professor Shoaf’s claims that the principle (dogma) – of non-contradiction should be held as uncertainty. We pointed out that the subject of: A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age and Allen Shoaf’s blog-post: “Curiosity: A Remedy for Dogmatism” Claude Shannon relied upon the principle of non-contradiction as Shoaf claims: “Every digital device in use today bears the stamp of Claude Shannon's genius.” And you begin to wonder whether professor Shoaf understands the words with which he expresses himself? Digital devices, digital electronics, digital mathematics each unequivocally presupposes the dogma/principle of non-contradiction. Not only does he use the term “dogma” in a very narrow sense (certainly in a sense unrelated to the original meaning of the term, dogma viz: philosophical tenet), he also personifies the term, thus one can imagine dogmas as contract killers. Shoaf’s response to the assertion that the principle of non-contradiction is to be held dogmatically as true is: “No. This is a disastrous and murderous mistake. "Until such time" we "must" hold ONLY that we DO NOT KNOW. Any dogmatic assumption, any whatsoever, inhibits further effort to know.”

So one wonders what Allen Shoaf means by “knowledge?” This writer (Donegan) provides an answer (a description) - to the question: “what is knowledge” in the Blog-post “The Utility of Dogmas,” but not to what professor Shoaf may mean by knowledge? Here let us just note that the edifice of knowledge is predicated upon the dogma that the human mind corresponds - intelligently - to objective reality! One must take that correspondence upon faith, for it cannot be proven philosophically, and certainly not scientifically! And certainly that is not the only dogma – but it is the first and most fundamental – assumed as one begins to “download” the quantitative and qualitative measure/s of all that is i.e., existence, and a moment of reflection upon the reliance of human cognition upon an objective order would seem to render the philosophy of idealism senseless (Note: If knowledge were an a priori creation of thought - as both the naïve and critical idealists maintain - then each idealist should be able to describe the 5th, 6th, 7th dimensions and beyond in detail…)!

Although the principle (dogma) of objective-reality is the first dogma presupposed vis-à-vis by the edifice of knowledge, the dogma of the principle of non-contradiction is too a necessary concomitant dogma, upon which human knowledge and understanding ascends. So Allen Shoaf holds dogmas are impediments to knowledge, but he also holds the tool of logic, and consistency as dubious until proven – my guess is he means empirically proven – by its employment in the scientific process; this renders the scientific process dubious and absurd i.e., one does calibrate an instrument by its use in the measure of an unknown! The scientific method, employs a plethora of presupposed dogmas e.g., objective-reality (Note that the philosophy of idealism a priori denies an objective order…), non-contradiction, the correspondence of the human mind and objective reality, that reality is intelligible, the principle of sufficient reason i.e., a coherent extended continuity of physical existence amenable to measure i.e., to systematic examination and explanation i.e., amenable to scientific explanation etc. thus not only is it (the scientific method) a collective dogma, it presupposes other dogmas in its utilization… We may further discuss the scientific methods – as philosophical tenets (dogmas) - in future posts…

Here we only wished to show that professor Shoaf’s claims which regard science and the scientific method in opposition to dogmas is vacuously inane. Professor Shoaf may have an argument if he were to have were begun his essay with a definition of “dogma” paired down to mean something like: “Fideistic (i.e., irrational implacable acceptance of a view, or views, which may be demonstrated as dubious through dialectical examination or via methodical questioning) embrace of a doctrine or doctrines which render an account of an event, a phenomena, or of reality in its entirety, and hold that those that fail to accept such an account may be justifiably tortured, maimed and murdered.” Unfortunately, professor Shoaf cast all dogmas into the fiery-pit; ironically such an action almost meets the definition of dogmas which we just delineated…

We now turn to this assertion by professor Shoaf: “It comforts you to seem superior with your cynicism and calvinistic hatred of human striving, I know”

One wonders how Allen Shoaf can know what comforts another (me) whom he has never met (me), nor has he ever engaged in a conversation? And from whence does Mr. Shoaf derive the thought that this writer is either a cynic or a Calvinist? The very reason this individual (Donegan) writes is from a moral impetus; forgive me my pretension, but it strikes that so many (particularly so many well educated) today are confused about so many things, that any moral being endowed with “sight” is obliged to attempt to turn the lights on for the confused, and the sentimental… Thus, this writer – who holds there is an objective moral order ordained by a rational God – is the very antithesis, in thought (and hopefully action) of what constitutes cynicism; unless one claims that fulfilling what one understands as their moral obligation is cynical…

Regarding my ostensible “Calvinistic hatred of human striving” with which professor Shoaf tags me, we respond: “Calvinism – as a “Christian religion” – like Islam, separates the mind/intellect of God, from the Will of God placing the will over the intellect (voluntarism), thus the Calvinistic concept of God allows God to be somewhat capricious, and therefore irrational… Nobody that acknowledges an objective rational order can embrace such a god. Moreover, such is one of the reasons the Catholic Church proclaimed not only Calvinism a heresy, but also Lutheranism which too has intimations of God’s Will determining what is truth (this is the reason for Luther’s dictum: Sola Scriptura; Luther wanted to be rid of philosophical regulation of Scripture to which the Church had become accustomed…). Of course this would reduce all things to caprice and that may describe professor Shoaf’s definition of dogmatism, but as we have already discussed such a definition is pejorative and not reasonable… Hatred? This writer can avow his hatred for the irrational ideas which so many people assimilate, but this writer is not aware of any human whom he hates (wishes ill fortune). Perhaps Allen knows me better?

And then this closing remark by professor Shoaf:

Response to Allen’s words quoted above: “I am content now to turn my life and mind away from your nihilism.”

Now of course professor Shoaf again uses a term in a manner where - in context - it means nearly the opposite of what the word actually means. We again are inclined to think that Mr. Shoaf has the intellectual wherewithal to understand that nihilism (i.e., the rejection of absolute codes, creeds, God and objective & enduring meaning that may only be, i.e., exist, as established by a rational God) more accurately represents his own view of life than mine, but we think his disposition is such that, that he tends towards sentimental expressions (quasi-irrational), rather than reasoned arguments when he is impassioned… Of course it may be also be the case that professor Shoaf has assimilated/adopted the vogue meaning of nihilism (Paul Duginski brought the popular meaning to my attention about a year ago, which prompted me to write a few words regarding “nihilism” in a blog-post by that name @ bestthinking.com); it may also be the case that Allen doesn’t understand (we consider that doubtful!)…

Below is the 3rd note I left for Professor Allen Shoaf regarding “Curiosity: A Remedy for Dogmatism,” one may read the tête-à-têtes on Allen Shoaf’s blog.

We have yet to address Bob Butler’s comment, which we shall do in a subsequent post in which we shall also address what is presupposed – what dogmas - by the scientific-method…

Thomas J. Donegan

guildma@msn.com

Hi Allen!

I just got home from work (work 3 shifts, and am on the midnight shift), and so my response will be short (I'll provide a lengthier reply later...). I had begun a reply to you and Bob Butler; I didn't see his post the other day as I hurriedly responded to you, before I went off to work... But mid-nights tend to "slow" me down...

Allen any and all fields of knowledge treat the principle of non-contradiction as an axiom, and must. It cannot be proven true! If it is false then it is both true and false simultaneously! Most people would call that insanity. Both you - and Bob Butler - have a very narrow and tendentious understanding of "dogma;" dogmas murder nobody! And as an aside, Chesterton says (paraphrase): 'There are two kinds of people, those that knowingly embrace dogmas, and those that embrace them unknowingly.'

The original meaning of "dogma" is: "philosophical tenet," and thus both the principle of non-contradiction and the scientific method, are dogmas in the broad understanding of the term... i.e., they are "tools" assumed true so as to be utilized to advance knowledge...Note that if you think that the scientific-method is falsifiable, then you must be able to state the conditions under which it can be shown to be false e.g., Einstein's General Theory of Relativity may be falsified by place 3 satellites in space (at considerable distance, but within the gravitational field influence of some heavenly body...) and using mirrors and laser beams to form a triangle; if such were done (Lord Eddington just waited for a solar eclipse), and the triangle contains 180 degrees then the theorem would be shown false. One need not perform the experiment, one only need to describe a condition of falsification; by the way the criteria (as all criteria validating science) is philosophical, not scientific!

People embracing certain "dogmas" may murder people, and certainly have murdered people, but the dogma in-and-of-itself is not responsible; it takes a host human, or group of humans that then murder others... As I have already stated certain dogmas advance human kind e.g., "that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights..." There a quite a few dogmas in Jefferson's claim, and they ameliorated, but did not perfect, the human condition...

One of the most dogmatic (in the narrow sense of how you use the term "dogma") claims that I have ever come across is: "No. This is a disastrous and murderous mistake. "Until such time" we "must" hold ONLY that we DO NOT KNOW. Any dogmatic assumption, any whatsoever, inhibits further effort to know. It comforts you to seem superior with your cynicism and calvinistic hatred of human striving, I know."

To hold that nothing is certain - agnosticism - leads eventually to despair, as individuals and as a species.

With this statement: "I am content now turn my life and mind away from your nihilism" you seem to join Paul Duginski in not quite understanding that "nihilism" is the rejection of absolute codes and creeds and to intimate that any correlation between mind - and other - is capricious and illusory, because there isn't any God i.e., intelligent ordering principle transcending, and causing that which is... As I pointed out to Paul, what follows is either the true nihilist - the Greek stoics - fell silent, since anything they'd utter would be purely ephemeral and therefore ultimately meaningless, or one becomes the hedonistic nihilist with despotic designs i.e., Machiavellian.

I will write you a lengthier note later Allen (not necessarily today), but this statement of yours??

"It comforts you to seem superior with your cynicism and calvinistic hatred of human striving, I know. But the scientist does NOT say, I hold such and such; he says, I DON'T KNOW and must search, relinquishing ANY dogma that fails as the search proceeds. This is a world-building difference in attitude, the difference between a hating and hateful dogma of human depravity (to which obviously you subscribe) and a will to ask what energy may reveal about the universe."

I don't think I've ever "hated" anybody (to hate is to will another bad fortune, and is derived from an ill-will... I'm with Socrates: "It is a greater evil to perpetrate injustice, than to suffer injustice." But as I said, I'm off to bed!

Best wishes Allen!

Take care, cordially!

tjd

 
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