## Where does logic get its power?

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I like defining things so, logic: A method by which humans go from premise to premise that seems to reflect reality if the premises do. What was the "origin" of logic. Why is it that we are simply born with a "rule for deriving rules" and why does it work so well? For example, in mathematics, you CAN'T be wrong if you follow certain axioms because the axioms DEFINE what being wrong is. However you can never go back and "prove" the axioms you just have to accept them apriori. For example, no one knows why if A=B, B=C then A=C. You can't prove this axiom to be true you just have to accept it. Why is it then that humans can get by using arbitrary axioms that they are born with whose validity they cannot prove? And why is it that despite the fact that many axioms fit that description, that only very few work? Again, where does logic get it's reality-reflecting power?

I don't know if evolution is necessarily the answer here either because we don't know if logic is the reflection of reality or if reality is a reflection of logic. In other words, you cannot know whether mathematical axioms reflect reality or whether they're just the only way humans can perceive reality. "Reality" could be like a .zip file and logic our way of interpreting it. If you're playing a video game, the gameplay is not inherent in the source code of the game or in the hardware of the computer, it is an emergent property that comes from the player's and screen's limited processing power and algorithm for translating said source code

Is there any metaphysical basis for logic or are humans just stuck with a certain type of hardware
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A method by which humans go from premise to premise that seems to reflect reality if the premises do.

This doesn't seem like quite the right definition of logic. Logic can refer to many things, and the scope or domain of logic has changed over time. Broadly, logic refers to the rules of correct reasoning. More narrowly and more specifically, logic regards explorations of (or rather, theories about) the logical consequence relationship of some formal system under investigation, e.g. classical, Fregean logic. Given some set of assumptions and rules for allowed propositional transformations, what can be derived. That is the modern conceptualization of logic (deductive logic anyway).

Now, you ask a number of questions, which I'll assign numbers for convenience:

1) What was the "origin" of logic.

2) Why is it that we are simply born with a "rule for deriving rules" and why does it work so well?

3) Why is it then that humans can get by using arbitrary axioms that they are born with whose validity they cannot prove?

4) And why is it that despite the fact that many axioms fit that description, that only very few work?

5) Again, where does logic get it's reality-reflecting power?

1) What do you mean by origin? There's the biology of logic, exploring how our logical intuitions about what follows from what developed over the eons. Particular formal systems were created by particular people. Aristotle created Syllogistic logic, Frege created Classical Logic (which is not the same as Aristotle’s), Brouwer and Heyting (more the latter) created Intuitionistic logic, etc.

2) We are not "born with" a rule for deriving rules. Lakan has some stuff on this (it's a well known book, but the name escapes me). We mostly get this stuff, er, pictorally? Might not be the best word. Observation perhaps. We evolutionarily have some dispositions built in but a lot comes from hacking together a set of intuitions based on our experience while young. But these intuitions are often very limited and even fail us often (lots of experimentation done on common logic failures people do).

It's not like we reason according to any particular logic. Hell, people always have contradictions in their beliefs (whether they know it or not). But if we were "born with" classical logic our brain would start making us believe every proposition because of the Explosion principle. It's just an example, but it generalizes. If there is a discernable logic we operate on its very weak and it needs to be like that.

3) We're not exactly born with them, certainly not entirely. And there seems to be a pretty pragmatic explanation here. If the logic we naturally develop begins failing too often we change our logic until we find one that works. Otherwise we die so there's good incentive.

4) & 5)
It's a mistake, I think, to speak of logic having a "reality reflecting" capacity. There are no metaphysical inference rules or axioms, those are formal "objects". Perhaps the best way to characterize this is as follows. If reality didn't have a structure that would be equivalent to trivialism being the case. As there seem to be propositions which are only false, trivialism does not appear to be the case, therefore reality has a structure.

Now, logical systems are structures as well (in the math sense of "structure"), and as with mathematics broadly, it's natural to think there might be [at least one] logic whose structure is "the same" as reality's structure. I suppose we might speak of an isomorphism between the structure of a logic and the structure of a universe. In that circumstance, the success of various logics in practice seems to have a transparent reason: they chart the same algebraic structure. So the relationships which hold between abstract objects covered in logic can be "mapped" to the same relationship holding between real world objects in an equivalent arrangement (it's not identity).

Is there any metaphysical basis for logic or are humans just stuck with a certain type of hardware

It's a difficult question. My best guess is the above isomorphism answer. Otherwise, I'm tempted to say speaking of logic is to categorically be speaking of something very distinct from reality. Penelope Rush has a book on this, aptly titled "The Metaphysics of Logic", though it kinda drops into the Epistemology of logic at various times. I don't think I finished it, but it should give you something. And not to be too unethical, but you can (unsurprisingly) find uploads of the book's PDF online. NAUGHTY NAUGHTY
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I had similar conclusions but the main problem I find with them is how they dethrone logic so much. We both seem to have reached the conclusion that logic is: "A rule for making rules that is based off of ragtag collection of intuitions that we are born with strung together which helps us survive". You said that we are not born with logic and that we change it periodically to help us survive which I totally agree with but then that would be putting logic on the same "correctness" level as lunacy. They are both based on primordial intuitions, just that the followers of one survive and the followers of the other perish.

Broadly, logic refers to the rules of correct reasoning

The problem is, there are countless potential ways to formulate such rules and there is no meta-rule about how to do this for which there are no alternatives, at least none that I can see. The main goal for this discussion was to get people to think about such a meta-rule (A method for choosing logical axioms) for which there is no alternative. A "common ground" across all possible systems of logic if you will. Question 4 was supposed to be a trick question because what defines "work" IS the axioms of logic. You can't get an answer to "what works" without knowing something that works and you can't know what works without knowing the answer to "what works". It seems to me that the only way to develop a logical system is to pull yourself up by your bootstraps (beg the question) and I'm looking for someone to convince me otherwise
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I think at its most fundamental level, its basis, logic is what we call our description of the way reality works. The physical world has consistent patterns and sequence. An order. Logic is our way of describing it, hence math (which i think of as sort of purely logical.) is what physicists use to make sense of things, and why QM is so perplexing (it stops following the logic we have been using to describe it). We cant understand the logic of it, we dont have the full picture/equation. When we do figure it out, there will be logic to it.
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Is there any metaphysical basis for logic or are humans just stuck with a certain type of hardware?

Really interesting questions. I have the view that it is misleading to try and expain logic, (or more broadly speaking rationality) as logic is what is used to create just such explanations! That might sound a bit facile, but really it's a deep issue, and also, in my view, there is often a lot of circularity or question-begging involved in such attempts.

First and foremost, I am sceptical of neo-Darwinian explanations for logic and mathematical ability. Even though I have no doubt that h. sapiens evolved along the lines discovered by evolutionary biology, I think that describing logic in those terms is an over-reach for the principle of natural selection. It is basically treating logic as a kind of biological adaptation. And indeed some of the ultra-Darwinists, like Richard Dawkins, seem to have no hesitation in considering that logic and the like are in some sense simply like a particularly splendid peacock tail; but that is because in their worldview, Darwinian theory is the basis of every aspect of life and mind. We only exist in order to propogate the genome, and everything is subordinated to that principle.

On that topic, the philosopher Thomas Nagel is of particular interest. In his book, The Last Word, he explores the tendency to 'explain away logic' in an essay called Evolutionary Naturalism and the Fear of Religion (which has been posted online here.) Nagel is particularly interesting because he's a tenured and highly-respected teacher of philosophy, and also a professed atheist, who nevertheless takes a very sceptical view of naturalism's claims to 'explain' reason and logic. He went on to publish a much more robust and controversial book in 2012, called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False .

However you can never go back and "prove" the axioms you just have to accept them a priori.

Isn't that one of the implications of Godel's Theorem?

Gödel said that every non-trivial (interesting) formal system is either incomplete or inconsistent:[1] There will always be questions that cannot be answered, using a certain set of axioms;
[2] You cannot prove that a system of axioms is consistent, unless you use a different set of axioms.

Those theorems are important to mathematicians because they prove that is impossible to create a set of axioms that explains everything in maths.

So, my view is that you can't explain logic - logic is what explains. That doesn't mean logic is omniscient, as I certainly don't believe that it is, but that by its very nature, it is what the rational mind uses to interpret and understand. I think a lot of modern philosophy tends to deprecate that, because the sentiment is reminiscent of the rationalist tradition in philosophy, which is nowadays regarded as superseded. But I'm not so sure.
• 4.5k
I like defining things so, logic: A method by which humans go from premise to premise that seems to reflect reality if the premises do. What was the "origin" of logic.

Logic arises quite naturally out of getting into the habit of imagining nature organised like a machine. So as soon as humans were building huts with doors, or fields with fences and gates, already a mechanical conception of things was taking shape.

A switch is the canonical logical device. It is either off or on, open or shut. And doors and gates are kinds of switches. The world is divided into inside or outside. In the hut or paddock, or outside it. They are machines for the organisation of living. So the origins of logic as a useful way of conceiving of nature go right back to human technological inventions. If we could impose a rigid circuit-like pattern on the unconstrained flows of nature, then we would be laughing.

Logic thus arose as a way to regulate natural flows rather than as a close description of nature. It was a way to impose our artificial mechanical schemes on the world.

Why is it that we are simply born with a "rule for deriving rules" and why does it work so well?

But we are not born with a brain designed to think mechanically. We are only taught from the earliest age to learn to think that way because we depend so much on artificial ways to regulate an otherwise fairly unruly nature.

It works well in that a logical turn of mind grants humans a good dose of control over material events. But also, machines are brittle things. They break very easily or can give very wrong outcomes. So strict logic - of the kind you are describing - can be just as useless as it is advantageous. Garbage in, garbage out.

Good job we do have properly evolved brains to fall back on when the literalism of logic lets us down.
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This is an ancient paradox by pyrenean skeptics.
So, my view is that you can't explain logic - logic is what explains

But WHAT does logic explain? The paradox is that in order to answer the question "How am I going to explain" you have to have something that IS explained but in order to explain something you have to know the answer to the question "How am I going to explain". So for example, you can't say "Killing is bad because I saw someone killing someone and that is bad". That's a circular definition. If I asked you "What does bad mean" in order to make the statement "Killing is bad" you have to know what "Bad" is but in order to do that you have to know the answer to the question "What does bad mean". The point is that the axioms for any logical OR illogical system are unprovable in terms of the system
(Ok so I just typed all of this and I realized I'm just describing Godel's theorem but I don't wanna erase it so here goes nothing)

So now the question is how should one choose between these axioms? Based on survival? Why? That's just another axiom. What I'm trying to find in this discussion is an axiom that escapes this, an axiom everyone MUST accept
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Yeah good luck with that. :smile:
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but isn't it really sad that there isn't one so far? :sad: I know morality is a fickle thing but why does everyone stick to so much if it's based on unprovable arbitrary axioms? And wouldn't it be great if there WAS such a meta-axiom everyone has to accept? If it's there I want it
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We both seem to have reached the conclusion that logic is: "A rule for making rules that is based off of ragtag collection of intuitions that we are born with strung together which helps us survive". You said that we are not born with logic and that we change it periodically to help us survive which I totally agree with but then that would be putting logic on the same "correctness" level as lunacy. They are both based on primordial intuitions, just that the followers of one survive and the followers of the other perish.

It's not ragtag, that would suggest the rules are arbitrary. If the rules allow us to survive and understand the world, then the justification for accepting them is straightforward. And intuitions do not themselves make the logic, they are just part of how we get started. As I mentioned, there have been many experiments which show consistent failures of reasoning that people engage in, even those with formal logic training. So our logical intuitions are not on the same level as lunacy, we can check for the usefulness of our assumptions about logic.

The problem is, there are countless potential ways to formulate such rules and there is no meta-rule about how to do this for which there are no alternatives, at least none that I can see.

This doesn't seem true. Consider taking classical logic and removing the Law of Non-contradiction. What happens is the logic trivializes, every proposition becomes provable in the resulting system. That system loses mathematical structure. So there's one "meta-rule" right there: the axioms cannot on pain of absurdity result in the system degenerating like so. There's really to say on this, as I will do below.

The main goal for this discussion was to get people to think about such a meta-rule (A method for choosing logical axioms) for which there is no alternative. A "common ground" across all possible systems of logic if you will. Question 4 was supposed to be a trick question because what defines "work" IS the axioms of logic. You can't get an answer to "what works" without knowing something that works and you can't know what works without knowing the answer to "what works". It seems to me that the only way to develop a logical system is to pull yourself up by your bootstraps (beg the question) and I'm looking for someone to convince me otherwise

This is mistaken, I believe. When I referred to a logic "working", I was speaking extra-logically. As in, the applicability of some logic to figuring things out in the real world and keeping us from making reasoning errors which lead to harm and such. This has no recourse to the axioms of logic determining what "working" means.

But you ask how justify logic without begging the question, basically. There's two ways I can think of how to do this. You justify a deductive logic by means of abduction, a model of theory choice. Whatever logic, in some specified domain, comes out the best on the criterion of theory choice is the correct one for the domain (we can assign them scores basically). That's not question begging, it's using a different type of reasoning.

Another way would be to pick a very weak logic which contains principles no one disputes but which does not contain principles under disagreement. Whatever that logic ends up being, it would have to, for example, have a conditional which satisfies Modus Ponens. That will be a common ground across logics that are actually used. Either of these means suffice.
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It's not ragtag, that would suggest the rules are arbitrary.

It IS entirely ragtag because any rule you choose to use as an axiom is by definition based on no other reasoning. Take the Law of non Contradiction for example. In terms of practical value this law is priceless however it IS an axiom and it IS entirely arbitrary. God could've woken up one day and decided "hey you know what, let's get rid of the law of non contradiction" and created an absurd yet consistent universe. A better example is fuzzy logic. It has no binary truth value but it is still very useful and entirely consistent. You can only say it is not ragtag to the extent that it helps us survive when applied.

So there's one "meta-rule" right there: the axioms cannot on pain of absurdity result in the system degenerating like so

Why not? This binds our logical systems to practical value, which brings it back to the definition you started your reply with. Now logic requires neither rigor not any specific axioms, it just needs to be useful when applied to the world. It just so happens that rigor is extremely useful when applied to the world so we use that in almost all logical systems

This is mistaken, I believe. When I referred to a logic "working", I was speaking extra-logically

Again, you are binding logic to practical value which is exactly what the start of your comment tries to refute.

That will be a common ground across logics that are actually used

Keyword: "that are actually used"
I'm not looking for a way to justify logic in terms of practical usefulness (because you can justify almost anything that way) or in terms of consensus as a result of practical usefulness. I am looking for a way to justify it that is entirely devoid of practical uses. I think this is impossible but I wanted to see other people try.

In other words my question is "Is 2+2=4 because that's how the world works, or is 2+2=4 because the homo sapiens that survived said so". I think there is plenty of proof for the latter and none for the former and I want to see if others reach the same conclusion. This is why I tell people to find me this axiom that is entirely indisputable without resorting to arguments from practicality
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There is no adequate metaphysical consensus nor ground of epistemology. This is the most important stepping stone. Neither does logic, for that matter, have any 'power.' What power could it have? What power does it have that is not given to it by us? Lies and irrationality are at the base of so much apprehension of power. Logic does not have any more power than irrationality or lies. Logic is nothing. In the end, what will logic be? In the end, what will logical analytics get us?
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Tell me something powerful and important logic has given humanity.
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No matter how hard one tries, human existence will never be forced to be logical.
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the computer ur posting this on. The point is that logic seems to be just another man made invention that helped some of us survive and that's pretty sad.
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This is why I tell people to find me this axiom that is entirely indisputable without resorting to arguments from practicality

Logic can determine validity because of its relation to fact. Logic is the expression of the relation between the fundamental and the auxiliary; between the intrinsic and the extrinsic; between the absolute and the relative; between fact and perspective.

One of our main deficiencies is in how we define reality or how we determine what is fact. For example, many would argue that an object in their house is fact/real maybe because it has 'objective' existence or because the proof of its existence can be evident to others. However, according to me, it fails to be a fact/reality because it can cease to be that object. My definition of fact/reality is that which is; that whose value is absolute; the indisputable, the undeniable, and in that sense, it describes that which remains even when everything else ceases. For example, we may break down matter into an ever diminishing quantity and yet something is always bound to remain. That, which is fundamental to everything; that, which is absolute in its manifestation, is fact/reality. And even though it seems exceedingly abstract, we can conceive of what we refer as our world and our life as being based upon this fact/reality, which permeates and configures everything we are. Nature/Natural law(s) - or what we call the laws of existence - are the activities expressed by fact/reality and logic is the expression of that relationship between fact/reality and nature.
Mathematics, science, philosophy, metaphysics, etc., are just a few interpretations of the logic which we understand.
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the key here is that you'll never uncover such facts as you are describing them. This is because you can never tell once you HAVE reached the absolute minimum as you describe it. Donald Hoffman has a great Ted talk about how our perceptions shape reality rather than reflect it but to summarize: all of the reality you witness is like a Windows screen. It's not there to teach you about logic Gates and semiconductors, it is there to do the OPPOSITE. It is there to HIDE the reality from you so that you can do useful things with the representation. A folder on a screen is NOT an actual physical folder inside of your computer obviously. Similarly, you can't take a magnifying glass and see the pixels on the screen then proclaim "AHA I HAVE FOUND THE IRREDUCIBLE NATURE OF REALITY". Reality may always be more reducible yet and I suspect that when people describe "alternate dimensions" while taking LSD or other similar drugs that it's analogous to temporarily disabling key files on Windows so that your screen starts to bug out. In a Windows system there are very specific things you can and cannot do, that is logic for us. What I'm asking is how does the hardware work. I've come to the conclusion that the answer to that question is unknowable with the given info but I wanna see what other think
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The best way to conceive of fact/reality is as a union of principle and potential. If we try to confine it with a form, then it defines its own limitation and ceases to be absolute.

I think the computer is based on the binary code. Both software and hardware are designed to interact through the binary code according to the relationship between physical configurations and the preset algorithms.
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yes but you'd never know that from studying the windows system. All you'd know is pixels that's the point. You wouldn't have access to the concept of "physical reality" if all you can ever see is a 2D computer screen. You may be able to accurately predict what would happen based on each click, classify the clicks and be able to use the computer maximally efficiently, but you will never have irreducible knowledge for certainty. If anyone actually asks you "Why do the pixels act that way, explain without referring to pixels" you would not be able to as they are all you see. I'm equating logic to "studying the pixels". It only reflects reality as consistently perceived by us and so is by definition arbitrary, because you can perceive reality in countless ways. For example, a Windows system cannot communicate with a Linux system without some form of translation. If someone using the windows system keeps referring to aspects of the UI (he thinks these are irreducible to any simpler units) the Linux user will never understand and vice versa. They both don't realize that they have a common hardware and they can never realize this from studying their own systems individually. This is why I say the axioms of logic are arbitrary, because they are shaped based on out perceptions which are based on evolution. You can have multiple, consistent, functional logics based on the reality you're given. Analogously, you can have multiple, consistent, functional processing systems for the same computer. What I'm trying to do in this post is find if there is anything that must be shared across all processing systems that is deducible from the systems themselves
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I don't think there is any over arching point of logic. I can only suppose that something about humans or human unconscious mechanisms can implant certain motives in some with which they would ultimately protect themselves. In other words, I would rather prevent talking about instincts at all costs.
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Powerful and important... This smartphone I am typing on?
What will this mean in the end for me?
What will this phone and these words and all of this confusion on this website displaying the fateful hymn of the human race called Philosophy mean to me when I turn my face against the wind, on the side of a mountain toward a storm, on the side of a cliff observing roaring, crashing waves on a rocky shoreline?
The point is that logic is absolutely meaningless, as is every human invention that prolongs the inevitable point of overcoming this life and not fearing death. After such a point, everything about life is seen across an uncrossable rift. Nothing about language, too, is logical. What is logical about me adressing you right now? Nothing important about existence has ever had its foundation in logic.
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What I'm trying to find in this discussion is an axiom that escapes this, an axiom everyone MUST accept

I think this might prove, er, challenging. :wink: The point is that "axiom" is another word for "guess" or "assumption". And axioms are the worst sort of assumptions, because declaring an axiom says "this is a guess, but I intend to reason on the basis of this guess. So any conclusions we reach depend on our guess being true. Yes, that's right, the guess that we are unable to prove - we would if we could! - is the foundation for future reasoning.... :chin:

So, is there a guess (an educated guess, perhaps, but still a guess) that everyone MUST accept? I suspect not. Only if it could be proven could you even hope for universal acceptance. [Humans being humans, many of them would choose not to accept it anyway.... :fear: ]
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Now logic requires neither rigor not any specific axioms, it just needs to be useful when applied to the world.

Yes, that's sort of how it is. :up: Axioms are guesses, so we should not use them to justify our arguments here. And there's nothing else, assuming you don't have a provable foundation for whatever it is you're thinking about. If you did, you wouldn't fall back on axioms, right? So yes, I think logic guides us to use usefulness (or something similar) when there's nothing better available. :chin:
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My definition of fact/reality is that which is; that whose value is absolute; the indisputable, the undeniable, and in that sense, it describes that which remains even when everything else ceases.

Isn't that just a description of hard Objectivity? Objective Reality is that which is, in my mind. But then we end up derailing this thread into the eternal subjective/objective discussion, which probably isn't helpful. Suffice it to say that your definition is superb, but unusable (by humans) and impractical for that reason. It has no value to humans because it describes a reference that is (and must remain) unavailable for comparison. A yardstick that cannot be used to measure things....
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You wouldn't have access to the concept of "physical reality" if all you can ever see is a 2D computer screen.

You would have indirect access, which is what we humans have to 'Objective Reality' anyway. This is why subject/object stuff gets so difficult. Our access (to Objective Reality) is indirect, and so OR is unknown to us. So we can't use it as a reference by which to judge other things. It would be ever so handy if we could.... :wink:
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Is there any metaphysical basis for logic or are humans just stuck with a certain type of hardware

My understanding is that logic is ultimately based on the principle of identity: A=A. It seems impossible to mount a successful argument against identity because an argument against identity would automatically refute itself (it would deny that the argument is what it is). Not to mention that denying identity just seems plain bonkers. So, logical truths seem to be necessary truths.

Now, there are some logicians who entertain so-called "paraconsistent" logics where the principle of identity is violated. However, note that even in doing so they still rely on the principle of identity, otherwise they would not be able to make any arguments at all. In their paraconsistent logics, the principle of identity is violated only in arbitrarily selected cases, so that the rest of their logical system remains consistent and thus capable of producing arguments.

I have heard that paraconsistent logic can be useful for example in database analysis where it can come to meaningful conclusions even when parts of a database contain inconsistent information (that is, information that violates the principle of identity). By isolating these inconsistencies, paraconsistent logic can prevent them from contaminating and thus making useless the rest of the database. Paraconsistent logic in general does not say that the inconsistent information is true (although some paraconsistent logicians, called dialetheists, do make this outlandish claim).

Apparently, the principle of identity also holds in the physical world we live in, which is not surprising.
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I just don't want to ground logic purely in practical survival value because then there is no stopping someone from saying "I'm going to violate the principle of identity and if it kills me, so be it". In fact that man would be just as logical as Aristotle himself. And everyone would be just as logical as a complete lunatic ultimately. I have come to accept that relativism myself but I want to see people try to refute it. Who knows maybe I'm wrong. The main point is that axioms cannot defend themselves at all and that all of our logic, morality and lives is built on them so ultimately, there is nothing stopping the murderer from killing or the lunatic from insisting that 2+2= 67. The problem now becomes self-referencing and you have to call to doubt the statement "axioms cannot defend themselves at all" because even THAT is an axiom and that's what I'm trying to do with this post. Find me an axiom that is undoubtable

Humans being humans, many of them would choose not to accept it anyway

I am looking for something you must be accepting SINCE you're human. Something that can never be refuted. Something like "I'm conscious" that is actually useful. Although I see some people doubting even their own consciousness. I want something completely self evident and irrefutable.

because an argument against identity would automatically refute itself

True, but it would also refute every other argument with it. It's like an intellectual suicide bomber. You can refute the principle of identity, refute your own refutation and still be perfectly consistent in a state of eternal "I don't know". That's what the phyrrhonean skeptics did and I believe their position is the most valid and unassailable in philosophy.
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I want something completely self evident and irrefutable.

Don't we all! :up: But there is no such thing in the real world, I don't think. Objectivism, and the certainty that comes with it, is an intellectual game, nothing more (to us humans). There is nothing for us such as you describe. Sorry. :fear:
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True, but it would also refute every other argument with it. It's like an intellectual suicide bomber. You can refute the principle of identity, refute your own refutation and still be perfectly consistent in a state of eternal "I don't know". That's what the phyrrhonean skeptics did and I believe their position is the most valid and unassailable in philosophy.

It's not even an eternal "I don't know" (because that would also mean "I do know"). It's nothing. An inconsistent statement refers to nothing (its parts may refer to something but the statement as a whole refers to nothing).
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You are oversimplifying the means with which we interact with reality. First, we know our perception is based predominantly on our interpretation of past experiences, which is why, we employ less restricted techniques towards discovery of the unknown. This is where conception comes in. The idea that our planet is a sphere/spherical was conceived millenia before the telescope was invented. The idea of the atom is also an approximation of what energy would be like in those circumstances. We are yet to observe actual atoms. Reason does not just employ logic to give context to past experiences, it also tries to project possibilities, and the success so far is because of the underlying fundamental unity of fact/reality which we all presume and are yet to be proved wrong.
It is unfair to suggest that humans don't have the capacity to know everything when we have a limitless potential to unfold. We are like children, we are constantly growing and learning. The coherency to the idea of a greater intelligence/system of activity which exists even in fields like metaphysics shows the degree to which we can conceive of fact/reality. Even though astrology is not dependable in the sense of constellations and the impact of celestial bodies on our behaviours, can you imagine how much information those primitive civilisations conceived of and the degree of proximity to the principles which they are based on. It is quite baffling that they would conceive of constellations (collection of celestial bodies), only for us, with the use of equipments for actual observation, to discover solar systems and galaxies. How ingenious is it for them to conceive of psychology based on a relationship of the external world and our instinctive behaviours. They may have put too much significance in the abstract but, considering how sound the idea of attitude and response to external stimuli is, all they needed was the right perspective and modern science would still be ancient metaphysics.

The limitation of perception to the bounds of experience is a significant one because it compels us to focus our efforts towards our immediate circumstances before we think to venture further. What good is there in knowing everything when we do not have comprehensive control of our persons, impulses, thoughts (biological, psychological, social, etc). Charity begins at home is based on a universal principle: you cannot see in others what you do not see in oneself. We cannot carry out conception without the development of perception, and the greater our perceptive abilities the further we can conceive.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution." - Attributed to Albert Einstein.

However, without requisite knowledge our imaginings would yield little of significance.

As to the computer analogy, I think it is flawed just as the brain-in-a-vat hypothesis because they imply a separation between fact/reality and our perception of it. What we perceive is an expression of fact/reality not something disconnected or veiled from it. Someone said, "a logician could infer the niagara or the pacific ocean from a drop of water," the same applies to observing a computer screen or from the perception of an expression of fact/reality. If it hadn't happened, we would not be having these kind of discussions.
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The best way to conceive of fact/reality is as a union of principle and potential. If we try to confine it with a form, then it defines its own limitation and ceases to be absolute.

It's a conceptual yard-stick e.g., ethics/morality, whose value is symbolic and only manifests in practical reality according to our understanding and consequent application of it.
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