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Reduction to infinity

(An approach to infinite regress)

The fallacy of logic


The main problem with logic is that it cannot prove itself.
If logic is true, then we have to test it. Let’s suppose that logic is false. But
if logic is false then our first assumption that logic is true is false. So logic is
false. But if logic is false then we cannot use logic for any conclusion. But since
logic is all we have then we must consider logic as true without relying on proof.

Reduction to absurdity:

A: ‘Logic is true.’ A: ‘Logic is false.’


Let’s suppose A is false. Let’s suppose A is false.
If A is false then B. If A is false then B.
B: ‘Logic is false.’ B: ‘Logic is true.’
Which contradicts A. Which contradicts A.
Then A: ‘Logic is true’ is true. Then A: ‘Logic is false’ is true.

This is a fundamental logical loop. In fact it didn’t prove much. The basic thing
we demonstrated is that we use logic.

Reduction to infinity
When we try to demonstrate a truth we use syllogisms until we find a
contradiction:
Reduction to infinity

P0: ‘Logic is true.’


If P0 is true then…
P0 → P1 (if P1 true…)
P1 → P2 (if P2 true…)
P2 → P3 (if P3 true…)
Pn → Pn+1 …

We can repeat this process until we find a proposition wrong. Then the whole
syllogism collapses. But if our first argument is quite strong (or just axiomatic)
then it could hold true for ever. In this case we assume that we are satisfied with
an adequate number of repetitions that support our primary argument more and
more…

Infinite regress
This is what we call an infinite regress. If P0 is our first proposition then it is true
if P1 is true, and P1 is true if P2 is true, and so on:

Pn+1 = Pn + I

(where ‘I’ stands as the ‘next


step’ in the series.)

If the first proposition P0 stands as ‘truth’ (like the sentence ‘logic is true’), then
we will never end with a contradiction nor with an affirmation.

Proof vs. demonstration


- Russell believed that all propositions of mathematics could be proved.
- Gödel showed that truths of a logical system are not provable within its
own premises.
So Gödel’s theorem has given an end to our ambition that there could be
any logical system complete, as Russell in his ‘Principia’ would have expected.
We cannot demonstrate truths, we just accept them. On the other hand, by
demonstration we cannot prove a truth.
- As Aristotle put it forward:

Some hold that, owing to the necessity of knowing the primary


premises, there is no scientific knowledge. Others think there
is, but that all truths are demonstrable. Neither doctrine is
either true or a necessary deduction from the premises. The
first school, assuming that there is no way of knowing other
than by demonstration, maintain that an infinite regress is
involved, on the ground that if behind the prior stands no
primary, we could not know the posterior through the prior…
The other party agrees with them as regards knowing, holding
that it is only possible by demonstration, but they see no
difficulty in holding that all truths are demonstrated, on the
ground that demonstration may be circular and reciprocal.
Our own doctrine is that not all knowledge is
demonstrative: on the contrary, knowledge of the immediate
premises is independent of demonstration. Such, then, is our
doctrine, and in addition we maintain that besides scientific
knowledge there is its originative source which enables us to
recognize the definitions.

Aristotle therefore believed that we can simply prove a theory by its axioms. Still
the problem remains: How can we find the originative source of a logical
argument?

Infinite causal chains vs. infinite causal loops


Infinite causal chains
Another name for infinite regression is an infinite causal chain. An infinite causal
chain has no beginning or end. We can use any means of logical deduction but we
can never reach an end or a first cause. Infinite causal chains are logically valid
but, let’s say, incomplete with regard to common experience.

Infinite causal loops


There is a fast way to ‘escape’ from a causal chain. For example, if we ask how
the universe started we can simply reply that the universe has always existed. So a
‘previous state’ loses any meaning. This is an example of an infinite causal loop.
But here we have to face a problem: If a causal loop can explain its existence as
its own cause, then logical reasoning loses any sense. Because logic will have to
ask: ‘What is outside a causal loop?
- Richard Hanley has argued that causal loops are not impossible but their
only possibly objectionable feature they all share is that coincidence is required to
explain them.
Therefore ‘causal’ loops are in fact acausal.

Infinite causal chains Infinite causal loops

Open Closed
Causal and infinite Acausal and spontaneous
Truths are demonstrable Truths are axiomatic
Effects need a cause to Effects are their own causes
explain them and vice versa
Time is an important Time is fundamentally an
property of nature illusion
God is an eternal question God is an internal question
Chance is explained with Chance is explained with
probabilities ‘meaningful’ coincidences
Classical determinism Quantum non-locality
Big Bang Model Steady State Universe

The ‘cosmological’ argument


This is exactly the key point of the anthropic principle: A human point of view
about the world is always a point of view of the human mind. In the same way we
can rename this ‘human’ principle as ‘bee’ principle, ‘dolphin’ principle, or more
generally as the ‘cosmological’ principle, meaning the cosmological principle as
‘we’ know it.

The cosmological argument

1) Every finite and contingent being has a cause.


2) A causal loop cannot exist.
3) A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.
4) Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not
an effect) must exist.
1)
What caused the first cause?

As we can easily see the famous ‘cosmological’ argument is just a ‘logical’


argument that cannot even prove if our logic is reciprocal or even legitimate
concerning the ‘cosmos’. The quest of a first cause leads to infinite regress that
‘ends’ with an irrational and ‘miraculous’ breakthrough to a self- existent and
self- explaining causal loop which in turn can expand to an infinite series of
causal loops and so on…

Logic and the ‘real’ world


There still remains an important question: Does nature ‘thinks’ the same way
humans do? Are all human problems also problems of nature? If humans are
‘nature’ then the obvious answer is yes. But this answer is still an answer of logic.
Could nature have a more sophisticated way of ‘thinking’ above human logic?
Still the previous question is a question of logic. And so on…

Infinity of infinities…

A: ‘How did the universe begin?’ A syllogism begins without a


beginning or an end (an infinite causal chain).
B: ‘The universe has always existed.’ A spontaneous reply that explains
the origins of the previous question but defies demonstration (a non-
causal loop)
C: ‘The origin of the universe is acausal but the universe consists of
causal events.’ A thought unifying A and B.
D: ‘What is there outside the universe?’ The acausal loop breaks into an
infinite number of infinite causal chains. Birth of a new syllogism that
assumes the existence of a ‘multiverse.’
E: ‘What existed before the multiverse?’ Each infinite chain ‘bends’ to
find its origins. Many multiverses of spontaneous origin.
F: “What lies outside the set of all sets of multiverses?” The process
goes on for ever…

Is there really a way through?


As we saw our logic works with an infinite regress procedure. We can stop it but
if we want to have a definite answer then we have to start again. We could admit
that logic is insufficient to understand the world but if we abandon logic then we
lose any ability of common sense. Is there a function within the limits of ‘mind’
that if found could lead us to a new way of thinking? Perhaps this question is just
another question of logic. But since so far our logic and our common sense have
proved worthy of understanding or at least having access to ‘incredible’ things
outside their realm, there is a question left: ‘Why do we understand?’ We may not
be able to reply but I guess we can keep our mind open to the possibility of
miracles.