Montecristo Captain Quixote

montecristo

The World Line of the Horizon Star

Some would say I was a lost man in a lost world


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Montecristo Captain Quixote
montecristo

Reality: it's what's for breakfast, lunch, and supper. It may not be enough, but it is what is

How do people take anything on pure faith? This is not to ask how they accept things which they have seen demonstrated before and accept as a matter of understanding but rather how do they accept mysticism, stuff burped up by their own ids, or things "given" to them as "received knowledge"? I have heard certain forms of believers point out that the belief in some form of "received knowledge" is almost universal among human beings and they bring this point up as if it makes a case for accepting some sorts of received knowledge as having a basis in real existence. If anything, I think the converse is true. It is the near universal tendency for people to believe in things which are patently untrue, even self-contradictory, which convinces me that there is no such thing as "received knowledge." It's all make-believe and evasions of reality. It is merely the power of self-delusion which is ubiquitous. If the objects of received knowledge had any basis in reality, one would think that there would be some sort of convergence toward some truth or truths but there is no such thing. Some people will believe, passionately, damned near anything. Where there is real knowledge it is always the product of unflinching, disciplined, identification, integrated without contradiction into the web of concepts which describe and explain the things human beings have observed, measured, and tested.

Columnist Joe Sobran once wrote that the thing that turned him away from atheism back toward the faith of his youth was a consideration of the Christian martyrs. He couldn't believe that something for which so many were so willing to die throughout history had no basis in reality. He reasoned that only something extraordinary and real could drive or inspire people to acts of such extreme faith. I think Joe is a being a bit too parochial. When you realize how ready, willing, and able people are to sacrifice themselves and others when inspired by a vast and diverse array of things which can not even be explained or defined, much less proved, then you start to see that none of these mystical "faiths" make any sense. Nobody's particular brand of zealous religious belief is special or unique — they each have their adherents and nobody's ineffable being or concept holds a monopoly on believers who are rock-solid in their unquestioning certainty. The human tendency to attach realism and meaning to the patently absurd should tell us all that nobody's mystical pipe-dreams and "traditions" should be immune, beyond, or impervious to skeptical scrutiny.

There is no "magic"; there are no leprechauns, unicorns, devils, angels, gods, goddesses, Supreme Beings, spirits, spirit guides, spooks, ghosts, ectoplasmic residue, past-lives, reincarnation, or karmic justice beyond natural cause and effect. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Wishing alone makes nothing so. Something must be produced before it can be distributed or consumed. Existence itself is finite. Everything that exists is bounded in space and time. That which isn't bounded in space and/or time is purely imaginary and has no existence except as a concept. The individual consumer imputes value to all resources and factors of production. There is no group mind, no "general will," no social consensus or contract, no noosphere. "Society" does not think, will, or desire, because there is no real, physical "social brain" to perform such functions, and the zeitgeist is a pure abstraction. The "Common Good" is a common delusion — values are individual and aligned only by coincidence, persuasion, and agreement, and often even the agreement is illusory.

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(Deleted comment)

Intuition is merely unconscious speculation

Intuition is very useful, as long as it is not confused with conscious evaluation and thinking. Intuition is a process of constructing subconscious linkages and recognizing patterns. Intuition is a complementary process. It is an excellent starting point or spring-board and inspiration for thought — it's just a lousy destination — one should never stop at mere intuition or attempt to use it as a substitute for fact and reason.

"... there are no leprechauns, unicorns, devils, angels, gods, goddesses, Supreme Beings, spirits, spirit guides, spooks, ghosts, ectoplasmic residue, past-lives, reincarnation, or karmic justice natural cause and effect."

This can't be proven conclusively.

Not saying they DO exist, just saying there's no way to prove that they don't exist. This mystery can be pretty intoxicating; it's always fun to think you have secret mystical knowledge, or that you share mystical secrets with a cadre of fellows. Strong and/or shared emotion can make anything seem real. So long as there can be unprovable concepts, there will be mystics.

Never heard of Occam's Razor?

The burden of proof is on the person claiming to identify some entity or phenomenon as belonging to the class of things which exist.

Mystics can advertise and sell all they want, just as long as they have no pretensions about forcing me to buy.

Did anything in particular happen to bring Cranky McRantrant out of his cave?

You are always in quest of the rest of the story....

Okay, first off, it isn't really "a rant" per se. I'm not so much frustrated by the things I'm discussing in the post as I am curious about why such things are so in the world. These are things which I frequently ponder. As for what inspired me to write some of these thoughts here at two AM this morning, I ran into a link on someone's page pointing to a mixed bag of observations and comments on the nature of depression and the means of overcoming it. I find some of the author's observations to be very cogent and some of the thinking and presumptions to be very fuzzy-brained indeed.

Re: You are always in quest of the rest of the story....

Interesting. I too ponder these things and recommend that you stop immediately, lest you fall into the very depression that author natters on about.

bravo.

h.l. mencken once published a long editorial-type article with all the names of forgotten gods throughout human history. all had been believed to be absolutely, fearsomely real - and none had a single worshipper left.

food for thought, there.

I couldn't agree more, but you already knew that.

However, I've always thought the reason that believers believed in the supernatural, in whatever form they did, was because it provided them with hope and comfort. The hard reality that we will one day all be dead and gone, and more importantly our loved ones will be, can be pretty terrifying.

Now it is my turn to ask you a question. In your analysis given above, where do you put the knowledge which comes from the conscience? Suppose, for example, that you were born and raised an ancient Greek aristocrat, and you had been taught, and everyone around you says, that exposing unwanted infants to the elements is a moral and acceptably legal practice. Nonetheless, you are haunted in your conscience by a knowledge that it is morally wrong. Even if you suppress that knowledge, it expresses itself.

The ancient Greeks told myths about Oedipus, left to die as a baby, yet who returned to destroy his father and bring a curse upon the land; and they told myths about Paris, left to die as an infant, saved and raised by shepherds, who returned to Troy with Helen, and by that brought destruction of all his line. It is a reasonable assumption to assume that they actually knew infanticide was wrong.

Supposing this assumption true, where would knowledge of this type fit in to your model? If everything not open to empirical test or rational deduction from self-evident first principles is to be dismissed as pipe-dream, what do we make of the conscience?

In dismissing tradition, you dismiss one aspect of human reason, namely, trial and error conducted over many generations of man. My father is a naval officer. Military service is by its nature one of the most conservative institutions of the human race, since, in the military, to err is to die. The institutional rituals of the military, the exchange of salutes, the marching in step, and award of medals for valor and so on, can not each one be justified by rational deduction from self-evidence first principles. And yet we know that military organizations conducted along these lines are more successful than institutions such as knighthood or hoplite service of the medieval or ancient world, and more successful due to discipline, not due to mere weapon technology.

There are things in life which we know work which we cannot say how they work. My child pushes a button on a computer which he cannot possibly understand because of the authority and tradition of his father, me: I tell him what to do when he sits down to play a computer game. That is tradition. That is received knowledge.

When I got married, and knelt and presented my bride with a ring. This I did because I followed the tradition and authority of my fathers and grandfathers. And yet I can give no rational account for the tradition of exchanging rings. Would you do away with a ceremony so simple and moving on the grounds that you do not understand it, ergo it is merely a pipe dream, purely imaginary, not real knowledge?

I spent my entire life living up to the standard you proposed, and, at 47 years of age, I discovered that I had wasted my time reinventing the wheel. It was an inefficient way to think. I had exiled myself on to a Robinson Crusoe island of philosophy, and had to remake every tool and rebuild every intellectual product myself, as if by hand. Had I been willing to accept the correct conclusions of my forefathers, who had gone through those exact same steps as I, I would have saved myself years of lost time. It goes the principle of specialization of labor.

I suggest that you are making a categorical error. You are applying the standards of the physical sciences to other types of knowledge where those standards are not useful. You are placing all types of knowledge in the category of natural philosophy.

Oh, and I did not answer your question.

People take things on pure faith under several circumstances, as when there are other signs that the witness is reliable, as when the witness has been proven right previously on several occasions, or, most often, as when what the witness says appeals to the judgment of the listener -- it fits the pattern or model of the universe, it seems in character, it is not hard to believe -- especially when the alternate theory does not fit the understood pattern of the universe.

There are other faculties of the reason aside from deductive logic or empirical confirmation,and an ability to see patterns and make judgments is one of them. Beauty is perceived by the reason, for example, and it is a faculty beasts and lower animals, as best we can tell, do not share with us. Moral goodness is perceived by the reason, for another example, and it is a faculty beasts seem not to share.

I can say with perfect assurance that my wife loves me. If you ask me, I say that I know it. Is it knowledge? I know she loves me because I have faith in her. If ambiguous evidence were presented to me that she were unfaithful, I would be morally bound to ignore that evidence, and it would be rational for me to do so, since the risk-reward ratio of falling into a false suspicion should the evidence proof misleading outweighs the gain. It is reasonable for me to run the risk of overestimating my wife's fidelity, because the opposite risk of underestimating it and expressing suspicion can ruin a marriage.

Now, if the pattern of facts did not fit the "my wife loves me" model of the universe, my faith in her would erode. It would be a faith without foundation. An unfounded faith. And yet, whatever you call it, the outward signs she gives of her faithfulness to me are merely outward signs. Some act of trust is needed to make the connection between outward signs of love and my conviction that her inward self, her soul, actually feels and wills that love.

Again, this knowledge of true love is a reality open to us by the reason, since beasts do not know it. A bull in heat rutting with a cow does not stop to ponder whether his mate's affection is skin-deep or sincere. Animals do not fret about being deceived by infatuation.

Spoken like the eloquent apologist you are. Your mysticism has a robust crunchiness which is in many ways preferable to the soggy agnosticism rooted in nothing more than popularity, or worse, rebellion for rebellion's sake.

It's an interesting example of a kind of faith that you give in your third and succeeding paragraphs. You are to be congratulated: a solid marriage is indeed a treasure. You ask if belief in your wife's love is knowledge. I would say that it is. Aristotle says:
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."


I think you're trying to draw an analogy to Pascal's Wager here. I would point out that the gamble you take on marriage and love is rational only because the verity of your wife's existence can be readily ascertained, the conditions of the gamble are relatively better understood because you and your wife can lay them out for each other and explain them, and the prize can be verified.

No, I am not going there

"I think you're trying to draw an analogy to Pascal's Wager here."

Well, like the allegedly eloquent apologist you take me to be, my aim is much more modest.

I am merely trying to establish that reason has more faculties than empricism (which tells us whether our statements about the external world match our sense impressions of the external world) and deduction (which tells us whether our statements about any topic agree with each other, and agree with self-evidence first principles.)

I am trying to establish that the reason also recognizes patterns, makes judgments, assesses probabilities and weighs honesty, and that the reason makes us aware of beauty and moral truth.

You see, I am trying to establish that I have more faith in reason, the Logos, than those who call themselves men of reason.

I am not touching Pascal's Wager, which I dismiss as a ridiculous argument. Pascal argues that if it is in my advantage to believe something, I should believe it. I answer that I believe what reason dictates, and I cannot (nor can any man) make himself by an act of will or self persuasion MAKE himself believe something he knows to be false.

A man can fight off a suspicion if he thinks the suspicion is unworthy of him. A man can, when he at the crossroads of hope and despair, pick hope. Despair is when you have faith that something bad will happen; hope is when you have faith that something good will happen. Since whatever will happen has not happened yet, the judgment before the fact cannot be based on fact. Reason bases its judgments about what will or might happen based on pattern-recognition.

I hope the sun will rise tomorrow. Not only is that hope NOT irrational, the kind of skeptic who thinks the sun might not rise tomorrow is showing such poor judgment that we can dismiss his idea as either a parlor game or irrationality.

Now, my aim is immodest in that I am asking you to reject a modern (Descartes, Hume, Kant) notion of the limitations of reason. These three men all argue that the reason is limited to deduction and empiricism. But this is something that cannot be proved by deduction nor by empiricism. I say the reason also includes judgment, sanity, morality, and aesthetics. I say these are objective and not merely matters of opinion or personal taste. I am trying to overthrow two centuries of reasoning on epistemology and return to an older and more rational view of reason.

Re: No, I am not going there

Okay, you're not invoking Pascal, to your credit. I agree with you about the Wager, and throw in that it is also a case of question begging.

I find your crossroads scenario interesting. Hope and despair though, are merely two sides of the same coin. If one doesn't have an accurate assessment of the weight of the circumstances in which he finds himself then no prediction can logically be made. One must merely choose to live and deal with any adversities as they arise. Hope without evidence is merely an expression of the desireability for low opportunity costs. Optimism is merely the realization that opportunities will present themselves as long as there is life. You say, "Reason bases its judgments about what will or might happen based on pattern-recognition," and I agree. Our aptitude for such pattern recognition is enhanced and strengthened by the habit of focusing on what actually exists. See Michael Miller's "Focus On Existence" to see what I mean.

I say the reason also includes judgment, sanity, morality, and aesthetics. I say these are objective and not merely matters of opinion or personal taste.

Judgment is a neutral term. It is neither reason nor unreason. It is the process of reaching conclusions based upon identification. The criteria for judgment may either be rational or irrational, depending upon the person doing the judging.

Sanity is an assessment of how well an individual's actions and perceptions facilitate his continued effective interaction with existence around him.

Morality is a code of values, accepted by choice, as per Rand, again. It can be grounded in reason but it is not itself reason.

Aesthetics is a trickier matter. I will admit that aesthetics is probably the weak link in my understanding of philosophy. All I'm willing to say is that if aesthetics is objective then it is still going to be a titanic undertaking to draw lines and establish boundaries there.

Re: No, I am not going there

"If one doesn't have an accurate assessment of the weight of the circumstances in which he finds himself then no prediction can logically be made."

My point exactly. I hope you will grant the next point also, that hope and despair are mutually exclusive and binary choices. It is either one or the other. A human being, with human psychology, can only maintain an aloof indifference to the outcome of matters that do not engage one's self interest or one's passion.

I should say, lest I be accused of overlooking another option, a stoical resignation and fortitude that does not quail or falter of give into fear we perhaps can classify as a type of hope, it is merely an unemotional or coldhearted hope, and perhaps not as useful as the more enthusiastic type.

Re: No, I am not going there

I do indeed agree that hope and despair are mutually exclusive.

My thoughts on Aesthetics

"Aesthetics is a trickier matter. I will admit that aesthetics is probably the weak link in my understanding of philosophy. All I'm willing to say is that if aesthetics is objective then it is still going to be a titanic undertaking to draw lines and establish boundaries there."

Ayn Rand is the only modern philosopher who tried, but her metaphysics was nominalism, and so she attempted to attach the beautiful and lovely to expressions of what she called highest values -- capitalists love skyscrapers and do not (for example) feel sublime and awed at the sight of stars, etc. This theory does not explain all the facts, but my respect for Rand is great, because she made a bold attempt. Other modern philosophers are girlmen and craven cowards compared to her.

Myself, I hold with Plato and St. Thomas Aquinas that the Beautiful is an objective object of thought. We know a line is straight or crooked because we compare it with an ideal line in thought, and everyone who thinks of the ideal line thinks the same thing. We know an argument is logical or illogical because we compare the argument against ideal laws of logic in thought, and everyone uses the same ideals laws (even people who never studied logic, or who lived on earth before Aristotle use the same rules. This is how we know those laws were discovered, not manmade.)

Likewise, we know the beautiful when we compare it to an ideal of beauty. If there is no objective ideal of beauty, than not only is all taste merely a matter of taste, and all beauty in the eye of the beholder, BUT, it would be impossible for me to both think something is beautiful and to think that maybe my taste is bad and that I should learn to see it for what it is. In other words, if there is no such thing as true (objective) beauty ,then there is false beauty, and no such thing as correcting an wrong opinion about beauty, and there is no way to correct mistakes, to learn, to grow, or to develop good taste.

This jars against our experience. We all know there are things we think beautiful as adults that children do not find so, and we recall the change in our aesthetics as our judgment deepened. If there is no objective standard of aesthetics, than that change is merely change, and not growth. But since it feels like growth, and we remember it as growth, the facts on the ground testify to an objective standard.

Romance, Logic, Authority

"I would point out that the gamble you take on marriage and love is rational only because the verity of your wife's existence can be readily ascertained, the conditions of the gamble are relatively better understood because you and your wife can lay them out for each other and explain them, and the prize can be verified."

I would never sit down and lay out for my wife arguments for an against my trusting and loving her. I would simply love her. I would get on my knee and ask her, with fire in my heart and poetry on my lips, to marry me. I would give her my heart and soul and adoration.

Real marriage, real romance, is very far away from what you have described. Perhaps an arranged married between two hostile nations, where some unwilling prince and reluctant princess are thrust together, or perhaps Solomon taking on another wife added to his collection of 300 wives and 700 concubines can be made on terms laid out and explained, but not this.

Being "reasonable" does not mean you use reason for everything. I do not reason with my cat nor with my young children: they are under my authority. I do not reason with an enemy in time of war, except at the command of a superior: I am under authority. I do not reason with my beloved to get her to love me, since the great god Cupid does not come when logic commands, but only when love seduces: Cupid is not under authority.

I reason with a jury when I am trying to win a case. The courtroom, like the laboratory, is the throneroom of reason, including that specious reasoning called rhetoric. But when the judge says he will hold me in contempt if I defy him, I do not reason with him, but obey, since I am under his authority.

(Authority does not mean power. A Nazi prison camp guard, or a pagan god, can have me in his power: but my duty is to escape. A judge, even if he is a weak old man can order me in his quavering voice, and I must obey, not because I fear his power, but because I respect his authority. Clark Kent obeyed his parents, Ma and Pa Kent back on the farm, because they had authority, not because they had power.)

Being "reasonable" means you use reason for those situations where reason is the right tool. It is not the key for all locks.

Re: Romance, Logic, Authority

I see I have suffered from imprecision in formulating my comment. Just because one can lay out and explain the pros and cons of marriage to one's spouse does not mean that one necessarily does or must do so. Your wife almost certainly could, whether she has or not, make a list of the pros and cons of being married to you. She can weigh these things because she has direct experience with you as a real existing entity. My point is that she can directly evaluate your actions and these inform her "faith" in your affections and you in hers. Your faith in your wife's affections is not the same as a faith in a divinity.

You do not reason with your cat but you use reason in figuring out how to exercise control of your pet.

I do not reason with my beloved to get her to love me, since the great god Cupid does not come when logic commands, but only when love seduces: Cupid is not under authority.

Agreed. Love is a response to values embodied in another person, in one sense, and in another sense, it is a choice to provide and exchange material and abstract values with the object of your affection. With regard to the first sense, either one perceives values in someone, and is moved to love them, or else one does not. Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification. As such, logic can help you consciously identify why you love someone but it cannot command that you actually do so. The set things you hold as values are what determines what and whom you love.

Re: Romance, Logic, Authority

As for authority, you use reason to establish the presence or absence of it. The judge may not reason with you directly when he sustains or denies some motion of yours but his authority derrives from the evaluation and judgment of the people with whom he interacts. The only way to distinguish between the tyrannical prison camp guard and the judge who upholds just laws and procedures is through the use of reason to evaluate the actions and circumstances of each.

A question about Leprechauns

While we are on the topic, let me ask you a simple question about faith. You seem to say that rational decisions can be made without faith, but I would like to ask you about a particular case.
Let us suppose, just for the sake of argument, that you don’t believe in leprechauns: not only are they unlikely, but, in your model of the universe, your world-view, they simply do not and perhaps cannot exist. Where would they fit? Leprechauns cannot be magical creatures, because there is no such thing as magic. They cannot be Neanderthals or hobbits or some other offshoot of the human race, because there is no fossil record of their evolution. They cannot be space aliens because, obviously, then they would be space aliens and not leprechauns.
So you walk home one evening, and there, sitting on top of your stove, is a leprechaun in a green coat and a red cap. He is mending a shoe and smoking a clay pipe.
Staring at him with disbelief, you ask him to do something leprechaunish, and he eats your cat in one bite, hands you a pot of gold, and enchants your feet so you dance a jig for three minutes. And then he mends a hole in your shoes.
Fine. At this point you have two a stark and binary choice. Either you believe your eyes, and take it on faith that you are not hallucinating or delusional, or your believe your world-view and you take it on faith that you are hallucinating or delusional.
It is a question of faith rather than empirical data because the instrument you use to verify your empirical data, your senses, are the very thing whose reliability is now in question. Any “evidence” that the leprechaun is a dream or a delirium could itself be a dream or a delirium; likewise any “evidence” that you are of sound mind, awake and alert.
As long as what you see with your eyes agrees with your world view, the question of choosing between them never comes up. You can say that your reason and your senses confirm the same evidence. But once you see a leprechaun, your reason asks you not to trust (put faith in) your sense, and your senses ask you not to trust (put faith in) your previous reasoning.
Logic itself is mute on this issue. Logic says that your well reasoned world view and your senses cannot both be accurate once you see a leprechaun. At least one must be mistaken. Logic does not tell you which one. It is just as logical to say (1) “Since there can be no leprechauns in a rational world, but hallucinations can strike those who think they are of sound mind, therefore I am hallucinating” as it is to say (2) “Since I am of sound mind, and since new evidence must overturn old models of the universe, since I see and can empirically verify that there is a leprechaun sitting yonder, therefore my previous model of the universe must be false, or, at least incomplete.”
Statement (1) is the statement of man who places more faith in his model than in his eyes. Statement (2) is a statement of a man who places more faith in his eyes than in his model.
I challenge you to tell me a method of deciding objectively between statements (1) versus statement (2) which does not rest on an act of faith, or trust.
(And it is no good asking a second witness to come look at the leprechaun. All that does is raise the question of whether you have faith in the second witness.)

Re: A question about Leprechauns

Your argument rests on the presumption of the leprechaun. It is the same sort of scenario that asks what one would do if one discovered that one was only a brain in a jar. You want to doubt your senses in order to make room for whatever make-believe in which you desire to indulge. At the risk of being dismissed as a "Randroid," I'll quote Ayn Rand, whom I believe made a cogent observation on this kind of desire:
"Those who tell you that man is unable to perceive a reality undistorted by his senses, mean that they are unwilling to perceive a reality undistorted by their feelings. 'Things as they are' are things as perceived by your mind; divorce them from reason and they become 'things as perceived by your wishes."

Ask yourself why you chose a leprechaun for your scenario. The universe is chock full of unexpected surprises and new discoveries which cause people to examine what is known and revise the theories. The understanding of the phenomenon of radioactivity is not very old, in terms of human history. The earliest explorers of that phenomenon did not attribute it either to "witchcraft" or hallucination; they approached the phenomenon with curiosity and applied their reason to it. I suspect what you mean to ask, in a more general sense, is how would I react to something which cannot be. I'll let you know when I encounter such a thing.

How you should have answered.

"Your argument rests on the presumption of the leprechaun."

Well, yes. It starts "let us assume for the sake of argument that..."

"You want to doubt your senses in order to make room for whatever make-believe in which you desire to indulge...."

Well, no. That is not only not what the argument here given says, it is attributing to me a motive that I do not have, and it is changing the subject from the argument to the motive.

"Ask yourself why you chose a leprechaun for your scenario...."

No. That would be an informal logical error. By calling my motives into question my motives rather than addressing the argument as stated, you are using an ad hominem.

"The understanding of the phenomenon of radioactivity is not very old, in terms of human history. The earliest explorers of that phenomenon did not attribute it either to "witchcraft" or hallucination...."

Because these discoveries did not contradict their model in any fundamental way. One scientific theory as opposed to another does not give rise to the idea, the one I here propose, that seeing something which cannot be explained in your model must compel either a doubt in the model or a doubt in your eyes.

"I suspect what you mean to ask, in a more general sense, is how would I react to something which cannot be."

Your suspicion is without support. I asked you exactly the question I asked. Intellectual honesty, if not courtesy, would require you answer what was asked.

"I'll let you know when I encounter such a thing."

Intellectual honesty, if not courtesy, would require you answer what was asked. You duck the question awkwardly, considering that you are speaking to a man who had (or says he had) a supernatural event in his direct experience. You can pretend Leprechauns do not exist, but if you pretend I do not exist, you are falsifying reality.

You are here acting the very way you criticize in religious people: When I asked you to question your axioms, your faith, you challenge my motives, scoff at the question, and weasel out of answering.

Forgive me for showing off, but may I tell you how an atheist is supposed to answer the question I gave?

You are supposed to say that seeing a leprechaun does not necessarily change any metaphysical belief, such as the existence of the supernatural. It merely means that there is an order of being or a part of natural existence previously thought to be myth, now seen to be real, and the various magical charms of the creature are something science can study, and eventually deduce: it is not really 'magic' but rather a hitherto unknown branch of parapyschology, operating on rules unknown to man. We know the rules exist because everything has a nature; and we know nature exists because A is A. These are not statements of faith but axioms that are self-evident, based on reason, not emotion.

There. I have done your side of the work for you.

Re: How you should have answered.

I am surprised that you do not still practice law. You're very good at expressing yourself clearly and reasoning through the discussion. You have, indeed, done at least some of the work for me. For your other objections I assert that I have merely been unclear in what I meant and it has lead you to draw the wrong conclusions about what I am arguing here. I intended no ad hominem nor did I intend to duck the question. I did intend to point out that I found the question unanswerable.

I'm not questioning your motives; I am questioning your argument. Let's consider your leprechaun one more time. The leprechaun represents something I cannot explain. There are quite a lot of things I cannot explain which do, nevertheless, no doubt exist. The existence of such things does not require me to doubt either my senses or my metaphysics. That is precisely why the leprechaun is a suitable subject but these other, natural phenomena are unsuitable. The hypothetical leprechaun forces me into a dilema: doubt my senses or doubt my metaphysics; a phenomenon which was merely beyond my power to explain would not cause that dilema. That is the meat of your final paragraph. It is eloquently put and I agree with it. The point is I didn't suspect that this is the question you wanted answered. Your final paragraph doesn't answer the question I heard you ask.

I tried to get at this by asking you "why a leprechaun"? Why not anything else I couldn't explain but for whose existence we have ample evidence? The key is in this observation of yours:

Because these discoveries [the phenomenon of radioactivity] did not contradict their model in any fundamental way. One scientific theory as opposed to another does not give rise to the idea, the one I here propose, that seeing something which cannot be explained in your model must compel either a doubt in the model or a doubt in your eyes.

The essential characteristic of your hypothetical leprechaun is that it must be something my world-view can not only not explain, but must actually preclude as an impossibility, forcing me to change my metaphysics, or doubt my senses in order to accomodate it. The problem with your thought experiment is not your motive, but with the argument itself: it is question begging. It presumes the existence of the thing whose existence is being debated. Boiled down, is the leprechaun not a metaphor for your own vision experience? I had not known at the time of the existence of your experience. I have never had such an experience. I am certainly in no position to definitively answer whether or not it was a hallucination because I did not experience it. I may only speculate that it was a hallucination and that you are wrong about attributing supernatural qualities to it. I have never encountered a leprechaun. What I heard you asking was this: "Would you doubt your metaphysics or would you doubt your senses if you were confronted by a manifestation of God?" My counter-question was: "What do you mean by God?"

Q: When is a leprechaun not a leprechaun?
A: When it manifests as a non-supernatural entity with measurable, or at least understandable, characteristics.

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