Birdman's Weekly Letter #368:
The Logic-Reality Paradox

By John 'Birdman' Bryant


Date: March 14, 2006
To: The usual suspects
From: John Bryant
Re: Birdman's Weekly Letter #368: The Logic-Reality Paradox
Contents: Opinion (as always)
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The Logic-Reality Paradox


The Logic-Reality Paradox is the paradoxical situation that certain facts of the physical world "don't make sense" or "aren't logical". This is a paradox which, as far as I know, has never been identified before as a paradox, tho the specific instances of paradoxicality which the paradox embraces have probably been thought about at least indirectly, ie, without necessarily explicitly recognizing that such instances showed a discontinuity between, on the one hand, logic, and on the other, the physical world which logic was intended to represent or describe.

The best way to understand the Logic-Reality Paradox is to understand particular instances of it. The following are three which have stimulated the writing this essay, but there are probably many more, and perhaps an infinite number.

* The spirit paradox: Physical evidence, as from seances, seems to indicate that there exist things commonly called spirits which are conscious and intelligent entities which -- tho different from ordinary material bodies -- can nevertheless interact with the physical world, and furthermore are responsible for animating human and perhaps animal bodies. However, the notion that a spirit is responsible for animating a body and therefore somehow controlling its brain seems impossible, because it would mean that the brain does not function as a thinking organ, but merely as a sort of collection of levers or buttons which the spirit uses to manipulate the body. This is problematic because it seems to mean that the brain is nothing more than a terminal point for nerve endings, and is especially problematical because it seems to violate conservation of matter and energy by allowing the brain to be operated by 'spirit energy' (whatever that is) rather than physical energy. It is also problematic because it seems to imply that there is some sort of mysterious interaction between the spirit and the body, contrary to scientific observation which deems that brain states are caused only by prior brain states, and not by the intervention of spirits.

* The existence paradox: Since the universe exists, it must have come into existence, and yet coming into existence implies that it came into existence from nothing. This seems completely crazy, because it seems impossible to envision a change where nothing suddenly becomes something.

* The paradox of non-existent existence: Mathematicians say that the square root of minus one does not exist for the simple reason that there is no number which, when multiplied by itself, gives the result -1. In spite of this, however, the square root of minus one is a very useful notion, and finds significant application in the physical world to calculations involving alternating current circuits. This then raises the question, How is it possible for a non-existent number to be useful -- and indeed indispensable -- in certain mathematical calculations?

Note: The above paradox may probably be generalized on the basis that there are many different kinds of existence besides 'normal' existence. For example, there is physical existence (consisting of objects which can be both created and destroyed); the existence of ideas (which are not physical, and cannot be destroyed, altho they have evidently been created); 'non-existent' ideas, such as the square root of minus one; non-existent but possible physical objects, such as my million-dollar bank account; impossible physical objects, such as the object which is both red all over and green all over; and probably an infinity of other objects. I have discussed different forms of existence in my currently-unpublished book Logical Alternatives: Studies in the Philosophy of Logic and Existence.

What I am driving at in citing the above paradoxes is that logic, such as we know it, just doesn't seem to enable us to think about certain things very well, altho it does just fine with ordinary objects and everyday situations. Whether this means that logic needs to be 'improved' -- as some have tried to do with such creations as 'fuzzy logic', 'multi-valued logic', 'deontic logic' and the like -- or whether it represents some kind of epistemological wall which we are 'up against, mutha fukka' because of our innate limitations, I do not know, tho I would guess the latter, as it is difficult to see how logic can be improved in any significant way. But then maybe that is because I am using the wrong kind of logic.


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