INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
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H.B. Augustine graduated from Denison University in May 2012 with a degree in Communication and Philosophy. He is now working on a number of social innovations, including Taggle, Ubiquity University, and Integral Publishing House. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in connecting.
A Synthesis of Deduction and Induction
Classic philosophy is the anchor of all human intellectual activity, most generally consisting of metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and ethics. Because the aim of philosophy is to gain knowledge of Truth, epistemology is therefore the most relevant branch for us to resolve first because it concerns itself with nothing other than knowledge itself. Epistemology is yet incomplete – thus, the necessity to delve into such an issue in order to complete it so that we can advance in explaining all other relevant parts of philosophy. We will now see that the means to begin this great task is first to know and understand reality as it is in Truth; we can do this because our mind is capable of discerning between True things and un-True or false things, at least at some cognitive level.
Because we can grasp Truth at all, we can consider the notion of reality and we can see what it must be in itself out of pure logical and physical necessity. The explanation of reality will support the following explanation of knowledge and logic, which directly have to do with the still obscure concept of intuition. Both explanations together will prove what they together claim. Again, this method is not circular, as the content of its arguments overall will show. We briefly reviewed Descartes' in-itself ideal methodology through which he (to begin) thoroughly revolutionized the world. Spinoza adopts a similar technique, which is most evident in the Ethics.
Spinoza's method involves precise geometric adherence. Although we have scolded foundationalism and the geometric method as adopted by rationalism, we can still nod to its strengths from a logical communicative standpoint. All proofs cannot be contingent on a single foundation from which to deduce. However, it is necessary for the proofs in themselves to be contingent on a single foundation from which to deduce. Spinoza's deduction, in this case, begins with the broadest and most general Truth to acknowledge, proceeding to derive from it equally legitimate, and accordingly less broad and less general, Truths concerning whatever of interest. Spinoza, for instance (like Descartes), begins with what we cannot doubt, except not concerning what is relative to his own experience, but rather concerning what is relative to the World, overall as an Absolute assertion.
To generalize, Spinoza reasons that the World, ultimately, is all most fundamentally the same, and is most thoroughly a single Unit. This Unit must be as Powerful as the World is Complex. We can call the Unit “Nature” or “God” – all that matters is the concept conveyed by the names, not the names of the names themselves. From this definition of the World, Spinoza proceeds to explain other major components of philosophy besides metaphysics, such as philosophy of mind, epistemology, and, of course, ethics. He is able to justify all these further arguments with his primary deduction stemming from the Truth of World's unity.
Spinoza's ethics prove themselves True because of his logical method. Because the World is ultimately the same, this means that there is ultimately no such thing as an “individual.” There is only the World, only substance. It is not a matter of ethics or morality, then, but much more so a matter of practicality or “common sense.” Someone who fully knows and understands the World, according to Spinoza and his ethics, is someone who most if not all ethicists would agree is of “superior moral character,” whether this we take this to be a human construct or an intrinsic Truth. Spinoza's ethics are True because, at least according to some, they are contingent on his metaphysics that begin with a greater Truth. However, we ought to address the fact that many philosophers would still disagree with the validity and soundness of Spinoza's original statement – and this induces the illusion of the matter being one of opinion.
The latter could be one of opinion or it could be one of knowledge; if the latter, then the illusion of it being, in Truth, a matter of opinion. When we consider this intellectual issue relative to ourselves, we can agree that there is either Certainty in it in Truth being one of opinion, or, there is the possibility that it is the illusion of in Truth being one of opinion. When we compare the latter possibilities together, we see that the possibility remains. Therefore, it is Certainly possible that those who reject Spinoza's first posit, Certainly, fall under Plato's category of true belief or opinion, as opposed to the category of True justified belief or knowledge – meaning, given this is the case, they compared to those supporting Spinoza's claim are the same to geocentricists compared to Copernicus' “cult.” Nevertheless, we can agree given that the deduction – according to the audience – is “valid” and “sound,” this necessitates that the rest of its arguments, given that they follow accordingly, will support the most general claims of the argument in its entirety. We can further agree that this method is ideally best, because geometry is objectively True. However, many philosophers will still disagree, saying that “deduction” allows for too many errors.
In Defense of Deduction
Here is where we get an “abortion-type issue” between rationalists and empiricists. Rationalists, for the most part, will say that there is nothing wrong with deductive reasoning, as long as the content adheres to Reason. Empiricists, however, assert that no matter what, deduction leads to error and is inferior, always, to induction. Empiricists assert that we must acknowledge as many “little things” that we know to be True, proceeding to realize “bigger things,” systematically. With enough “things of the same level,” in this sense, we are able to realize “things of a higher level,” proceeding to move up the Kosmic Family Tree of Truth. There is one thing to note here. Empiricism and induction wish to acknowledge as many “little things” that we know to be True. In other words, though, this statement simply means to acknowledge all aspects of Certainty. Now, with all this in mind, let us return to the notion of this “Family Tree of Truth.” This notion, whether its members realize, is the cornerstone of all realism.
Realism contends that life is knowable, understandable, and explainable. The World as we have come to see “really” is the way that our methods have shown. We are not being deceived. We can make sense of the World and we can potentially gain any number of insights concerning the way that it actually operates and is in itself. Whether realism sees Truth as “Truth” or sees it as “what ought to be so,” this philosophic branch nonetheless fully supports the import of a Family Tree of Truth. According to realists, the Universe is potentially describable and understandable – the World is potentially knowable and explainable. Everything we acquire that is undoubtedly True is the result of other things supporting it as necessary and sufficient evidence, and the same applies for each of these things – and so forth. Every aspect of the World or Universe contains any number of Truths that we can potentially discover and examine in order to discover and examine more Truths.
Because realism sees reality in the way that it does, we can agree that the Family Tree of Truth is such a cornerstone of its significance in relation to other major philosophic branches. Rationalism and empiricism, in many forms at least, Certainly fall under the category of realism. Rationalism generally operates using deduction more so than using induction, while empiricism generally operates the opposite way. Why we considered the significance of the notion of the Family Tree of Truth is that it does not matter whether one uses deductive or inductive logic. What matters is whether one is Certain about all the notions that initially support one's reasoning, for whatever purpose this may be. Let us reconsider Descartes' statement from the first chapter.
He begins by saying that he will never accept anything to be True that is not plainly so, by avoiding hurried judgment and false prejudice, and by only judging what presents itself clearly and distinctly giving no Reason to doubt it. Next, Descartes remarks that he will divide each of the difficulties he is considering into as many parts as possible – then, he will begin with what is simplest and easiest to know and ascend gradually, by degree, to what is less simple and more difficult to know. Finally, from all this he will have made enumerations so complete and reviews so general that he will be Certain of having omitted nothing. Let us agree that Descartes' technique in itself is ideal. In relation to deduction and induction, it may seem that Descartes falls under the latter. However, what is simplest and easiest to know, we may note, can be anywhere on the Family Tree of Truth.
Furthermore, “less simple” and “more difficult” Truths do not necessarily follow up from some Truth or Truths, and vice-versa. What matters, first, is that they are in fact True, and second, that what follows from them – whether deductively or inductively – is likewise True. The latter does not mean that deduction and only deduction is right, nor does it mean the converse. Consider the following diagram of a hypothetical “branch” of the hypothetical Family Tree of Truth.
We can pretend the “T” at the very top of the diagram is some justified scientific theory, whatever it may be. The following Ts are the more general and rudimentary notions supporting this theory. Furthermore, the six Ts below these two are the most general and rudimentary ones supporting them, and so forth. In this sense, it is ideal to begin with the Ts situated at the very bottom of the diagram, to discover their immediate implications, and then to proceed to move upward in order to justify the overall theory. However, where does the process begin?
Say there are “five more levels” of Ts justifying the bottom level that we see. Is it always necessary to acknowledge these additional ones? For instance, pretend the Earth being round is one of the Ts at the bottom of the above diagram. Is it necessary to acknowledge and explain all the Ts descending from this one before proceeding in our logic? Alternatively, could we agree that “the Earth is round” is a given and that there is no need to see further why this is the case? If we agree that in some or in many instances it is permissible, and even necessary, to accept any number of Ts as given, then we see a problem with always having to proceed inductively. Where do we draw the line in considering something given as opposed to requiring “sufficient logical support?”
If there are things that we may accept without question, then this means that deducing from them is legitimate if this can tell us what we do not know and are seeking to find. In short, what matters is whether something is True, not whether we came to know this thing deductively or inductively. It does not matter how metaphysical or abstract something may seem – what matters instead is whether it agrees with logical necessity or Reason. As we have seen, it does not matter “where” – hypothetically – any sort of consideration falls on the likewise hypothetical Family Tree of Truth. If the notion we are considering, whatever it may be, agrees with logical necessity or Reason, then we can use it for further reasoning.
Perhaps we are looking to find what notions, or Ts, are contingent on the one we have in mind. In the latter case, deductive reasoning is the appropriate method. However, perhaps we are looking to find what notions or Ts on which the one we have in mind itself is contingent. In this case, then, inductive reasoning is better – though we still must find a sufficient number of additional notions or Ts in order to find to what greater ones they lead – and what on which they depend. Why we have reviewed all the above is that there seems to be an unnecessary bias against deductive logic in the realm of contemporary philosophy today.
We have sought to see that there is nothing wrong with deductive logic, ideally, so long as the primary deduction agrees with logical necessity or Reason and all following deductions equally agree with the one we use to begin. The majority of the metaphysical discussion in this section is centered on deductive logic. So long as the reasoning is legitimate, then, there is nothing wrong with how abstract it may seem, how metaphysical it may appear, or how lofty it may be. However, before beginning with our own metaphysical exploration concerning “A Logical Anatomization of the Kosmos,” it is more appropriate instead by beginning with other metaphysical “beliefs.” We will see how these views differ from one another, but more importantly, we will see how they implicitly and significantly relate to one another – and what this altogether ultimately means, both in itself and relative to the foundation of the metaphysics we will perhaps adopt in support of the epistemology (and logic) that we are preparing to consider and accept.