Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Longmire Intelligibility Argument

Introduction:

The question of the origin and nature of reality's intelligibility has been a central concern in philosophical and theological discourse. This essay explores an original syllogism and supporting reasoning that argues for the existence of a mindful source behind the intelligible structure of the universe. By examining the axiomatic nature of intelligibility and its role in the syllogism, we aim to demonstrate the logical coherence and persuasive force of the argument.





Defining intelligibility:

Intelligibility, across various domains such as philosophy, science, and mathematics, refers to the clarity and comprehensibility of concepts, arguments, and information. It denotes the ease with which these elements can be understood, interpreted, and communicated. Key factors influencing intelligibility include precise language, logical structure, clear definitions, and effective visualization. High intelligibility ensures that ideas can be accurately shared, scrutinized, and built upon, facilitating learning, collaboration, and progress.


The Longmire Intelligibility Argument:


P1: Intelligible systems originate from a mind.


P2: Reality is an intelligible system.


C: Therefore, reality originates from a mind.


This syllogism hinges on the acceptance of intelligibility as an axiomatic starting point. The first premise asserts a connection between intelligibility and mental causation, while the second premise identifies reality as an intelligible system. From these premises, the conclusion follows logically: if intelligible systems originate from a mind, and reality is an intelligible system, then reality must originate from a mind.


The Axiomatic Nature of Intelligibility:

The persuasive power of the original syllogism lies in its recognition of intelligibility as an axiom—a self-evident truth that requires no further proof or justification. Several key considerations support the axiomatic status of intelligibility:


1. The undeniable reality of intelligibility: Intelligibility is an inescapable aspect of our experience and interaction with the world. We rely on it in every aspect of our lives, from simple communication to complex scientific inquiry. Denying the intelligibility of reality would undermine the very foundations of reason and investigation.


2. The necessity of intelligibility for rational inquiry: Intelligibility is a prerequisite for any form of rational inquiry or knowledge acquisition. The success of scientific investigation, logical reasoning, and mathematical analysis all depend on the inherent intelligibility of the world.


3. The self-evident nature of intelligibility: The intelligibility of reality is immediately apparent and does not require further proof. We encounter intelligibility directly in our everyday experiences and cognitive processes, recognizing patterns, structures, and meaningful relationships in the world.


4. The transcendental argument for intelligibility: The intelligibility of reality is a necessary precondition for the very possibility of thought, reason, and argumentation. To question or deny intelligibility would be self-defeating, as it would undermine the basis of the question or denial itself.


The axiomatic nature of intelligibility allows the original syllogism to proceed without engaging in circular reasoning or question-begging. It provides a solid foundation for the argument and aligns with our intuitive understanding of the world's intelligibility.


Alternatives and Objections:

While alternative explanations for the intelligibility of reality have been proposed, such as chance, necessity, or brute facts, these ultimately fail to provide a satisfactory account of the rational structure and organizational complexity of the universe. Such alternatives often beg the question by assuming the existence of an intelligible framework within which they operate, or they rely on counter-intuitive and unsupported assumptions about the emergence of intelligibility from non-mental processes.


In contrast, the syllogism's alignment with our common intuition and experience of intelligibility as a product of mental activity lends it a compelling and coherent explanatory power. The connection between intelligibility and mental causation is deeply rooted in our understanding of the world and provides a rationally satisfying and intuitively grounded explanation for the intelligible structure of reality.


Conclusion:

The syllogism, with its recognition of intelligibility as an axiomatic starting point, presents a logically sound and highly persuasive argument for the existence of a mindful source behind the intelligible structure of reality. By grounding itself in the self-evident and necessary nature of intelligibility, the syllogism avoids the pitfalls of circular reasoning and question-begging that plague alternative explanations.


The cumulative force of the philosophical and intuitive considerations explored in this essay strongly supports the conclusion of the syllogism. The axiomatic nature of intelligibility, the necessity of a mindful source for the rational structure of the universe, and the alignment with our common experience and understanding all converge to make a compelling case for the existence of a supreme intelligence behind the intelligibility of reality.


While the syllogism may not provide an exhaustive account of the nature and attributes of this mindful source, it establishes a solid foundation for further philosophical and theological exploration. It invites us to contemplate the profound implications of an intelligible universe grounded in the creative and purposeful activity of a supreme mind.


In conclusion, the syllogism, with its axiomatic starting point and logically coherent structure, offers a powerful and persuasive argument for the existence of a mindful source of reality. It challenges us to embrace the intelligibility of the universe as a reflection of the rational and purposeful nature of its creator, and to seek a deeper understanding of our place within this intelligible cosmic order. By recognizing the axiom of intelligibility and its connection to mental causation, we may unlock a richer appreciation for the beauty, complexity, and ultimate meaning of the reality we inhabit.


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Addressing some objections: 


“The first premise seems to fail in that there exist many intelligible systems which are not the product of a mind such as river systems and weather systems.  JDL’s response to this objection is that these systems derive from mind-produced rules which give rise to these systems, but that reasoning is insufficient because 1)that consequence must be assumed and is not known and 2)neither the premise nor the syllogism allows for such a deviation from the precise elements within it.”


The objection to P1 is based on a misunderstanding of the premise and its implications. The argument that intelligible systems like rivers and weather patterns are not the product of a mind fails to consider the foundational nature of P1. The premise, "Intelligible systems originate from a mind," is an argumentum a fortiori, meaning that of the intelligible systems where the initial causal origin is known, all of them originate from a mind. This premise does not assume the conclusion but rather establishes a strong probabilistic foundation for the syllogism based on the available evidence. The objection's claim that the reasoning is insufficient because the consequence must be assumed is incorrect, as the premise is grounded in empirical observation rather than assumption.


“The second premise is undemonstrated.  There is no way to know that the universe is or is not intelligible.  It is too vague a premise.  While there are PARTS of the universe which are intelligible, there are parts that are not (at least so far).  As such, it cannot be accepted as a premise.”


The objection to P2, which states that the premise "Reality is an intelligible system" is vague and undemonstrated, fails to recognize the foundational nature of this premise. P2 is not a vague assertion but a logically, epistemologically, and ontologically necessary starting point for all rational inquiry. The available evidence overwhelmingly supports the intelligibility of reality as an axiomatic truth, and the reductio ad absurdum consequences of denying it further reinforce its validity. To claim that reality is not intelligible, or that its intelligibility is uncertain, is to undermine the very foundations of reason, logic, and empirical investigation. Such a claim disqualifies the objector from engaging in rational discourse, as it represents a forfeiture of one's claim to rationality itself. The intelligibility of reality is not merely a matter of partial or incomplete understanding but a necessary precondition for the possibility of any understanding at all.


Note: My research has not uncovered any similar phrasing of the argument, thus my eponymous titling, even though it is built on the shoulders of giants.


LIA supporting references:


Below is a fairly comprehensive list of references supporting the Longmire Intelligibility Argument, integrating the philosophical, scientific, theological, and mathematical perspectives that substantiate the claim that the intelligibility of the universe points to a mindful source.


Philosophical Perspectives on Intelligibility:


Thomas Nagel

- **Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False** (2012)

  - Nagel critiques materialism, arguing that the comprehensibility of nature suggests an inherent mind-like quality.


Alvin Plantinga

- **Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism** (2011)

  - Plantinga argues that theism provides a better foundation for the intelligibility of the universe than naturalism.


David Berlinski

- **The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions** (2009)

  - Berlinski critiques atheism and scientific materialism, suggesting that the rational structure of the world points toward an intelligent designer.


Theological and Classical Arguments:


St. Thomas Aquinas

- **Summa Theologica**

  - Aquinas' Five Ways, particularly the Argument from Design, assert that the order and purpose observed in the universe indicate a divine designer.


Alvin Plantinga

- **God and Other Minds: A Study of the Rational Justification of Belief in God** (1967)

  - Plantinga draws parallels between belief in other minds and belief in God, suggesting that the intelligibility of the universe indicates a divine mind.


Scientific and Mathematical Foundations:


Roger Penrose

- **The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics** (1989)

  - Penrose discusses the deep connection between mathematics and the physical world, suggesting an underlying intelligence.


Eugene Wigner

- **The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences** (1960)

  - Wigner's essay highlights the surprising effectiveness of mathematics in describing physical phenomena, implying a rational framework.


Paul Davies

- **The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World** (1992)

  - Davies explores the idea that the universe's intelligibility and fine-tuning suggest a higher intelligence.


Transcendental Arguments:


Immanuel Kant

- **Critique of Pure Reason** (1781)

  - Kant's transcendental arguments suggest that the conditions for the possibility of experience imply a rational order that our minds are capable of understanding.


Contemporary Discussions:


John Polkinghorne

- **Science and Providence: God's Interaction with the World** (1989)

  - Polkinghorne discusses the relationship between the intelligibility of the universe and divine action.


William Lane Craig

- **Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics** (2008)

  - Craig provides arguments for the existence of God that include the intelligibility and fine-tuning of the universe.


Michael Behe

- **Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution** (1996)

  - Behe argues for intelligent design based on the complexity and specified information in biological systems.


Philosophical Intuition and Experience:


Michael Huemer

- **Ethical Intuitionism** (2005)

  - Huemer argues for the self-evident nature of certain truths, paralleling the idea that intelligibility is axiomatic.


G. E. Moore

- **A Defence of Common Sense** (1925)

  - Moore's defense of common sense supports the acceptance of self-evident truths, such as the intelligibility of reality.


Historical and Classical Perspectives:


Plato

- **Timaeus**

  - Plato presents the universe as a product of a divine craftsman who orders the cosmos in a rational and intelligible manner.


Aristotle

- **Metaphysics**

  - Aristotle's concept of the "Unmoved Mover" posits a primary cause of all motion and order in the universe, suggesting a rational source.


Contemporary Philosophy of Science:


John Lennox

- **God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?** (2009)

  - Lennox argues that scientific discoveries about the order and intelligibility of the universe point toward a rational designer.


Stephen Meyer

- **Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design** (2009)

  - Meyer examines the complexity and information content of DNA, arguing that such sophistication indicates an intelligent source.


Cognitive Science and Philosophy of Mind:


John Searle

- **Mind: A Brief Introduction** (2004)

  - Searle discusses the nature of consciousness and its role in making sense of the world, tying intelligibility to the presence of a mind.


Thomas Nagel

- **The View from Nowhere** (1986)

  - Nagel explores the objective nature of reality and the capacity of human minds to comprehend it, suggesting that intelligibility implies a mindful origin.


Mathematical Philosophy:


Kurt Gödel

- **On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems** (1931)

  - Gödel's incompleteness theorems imply that the mathematical intelligibility of the universe might transcend purely mechanical explanations.


Roger Penrose

- **The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe** (2004)

  - Penrose argues that the mathematical coherence and beauty of physical laws indicate an underlying rational order.


Theological Reflections:


C.S. Lewis

- **Mere Christianity** (1952)

  - Lewis argues for the existence of a moral lawgiver based on the intelligibility of moral truths, extending this to suggest a rational source behind the universe.


Alvin Plantinga

- **Warranted Christian Belief** (2000)

  - Plantinga discusses the rational warrant for belief in God, including the intelligibility of the universe as a supporting factor.


Philosophy of Mathematics:


Mario Livio

- **Is God a Mathematician?** (2009)

  - Livio explores the effectiveness of mathematics in describing the physical world, suggesting this deep connection might indicate a rational order.


Ian Stewart

- **The Problems of Mathematics** (1992)

  - Stewart discusses how mathematical problems and their solutions reveal the rational structure of reality.


Anthropic Principles and Fine-Tuning:


John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler

- **The Anthropic Cosmological Principle** (1986)

  - Barrow and Tipler explore how the fine-tuning of the universe for life suggests an intelligible and rational setup.


William Lane Craig and Quentin Smith

- **Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology** (1993)

  - This work debates the implications of cosmological discoveries, with Craig arguing that the intelligibility and origin of the universe point to a divine mind.


Philosophy of Religion:


Richard Swinburne

- **The Existence of God** (1979)

  - Swinburne presents arguments for God's existence, including the coherence and intelligibility of the universe as evidence for a rational creator.


Edward Feser

- **Five Proofs of the Existence of God** (2017)

  - Feser outlines classical and modern arguments for God's existence, emphasizing the intelligibility of the universe and its dependence on a rational source.


These references collectively support the Longmire Intelligibility Argument by drawing from a broad array of disciplines, highlighting the rational structure of the universe and its implications for a mindful origin.