Refutations: The Transcendental Argument

Here I tackle the Transcendent Argument as described by Matt Slick.

The gist of the Transcendant Argument is as follows:

1. If there is no god, knowledge is not possible.

2. Knowledge is possible (or some other statement pertaining to logic or morality).

3. Therefore God exists.

Slick’s detailed frame for the argument follows in italics, with my objections (not italicized) embedded within it. This is a long post, so I have included periodic summaries enclosed with “==========”.

Slick follows his argument with a set of responses to common objections. I will tackle these also, but in a separate post (here).

—– 1. Logical Absolutes

Right off the bat, I’m going to issue a warning to the reader: do not assume anything about the meaning of the word “absolute” unless Slick defines it explicitly. In other words, we should make sure that no part of Slick’s argument relies on implicit conceptions of what “absolute” means.

A. Law of Identity

i. Something is what it is, and isn’t what it is not. Something that exists has a specific nature.

ii. For example, a cloud is a cloud, not a rock. A fish is a fish, not a car.

This law is something we assert only because we observe it to be widely observed in the world. Because most things in nature look visually distinct from one another, we have adopted the convention of giving them unique labels. But we do not know for sure that this is a universally valid approach. The most we can say is that it is a result of inductive reasoning, and is therefore contingent on observations.

Note that Slick is not showing us that the Law of Identity is absolute (indeed, he has yet to define “absolute”), he is simply telling us what the law is.

B. Law of Non-Contradiction

i. Something cannot be both true and false at the same time in the same sense.

ii. For example, to say that the cloud is not a cloud would be a contradiction since it would violate the first law. The cloud cannot be what it is and not what it is at the same time.

According to the cloud example, this law can be interpreted as a restriction on language. To see this, consider that we have agreed beforehand to call a collection of suspended water droplets a “cloud”. Consider also that we have agreed to call any object that doesn’t fit this description “not a cloud”. To say that a cloud is not a cloud is therefore just an exercise in breaking the previously agreed-upon rules of language. It doesn’t have to be anything more mysterious than that.

But we can find an alternative interpretation if we look past the language issue. The Law of Non-Contradiction says that there are certain states of nature that cannot simultaneously be true. A rock cannot be both dry and wet at the same time, or be in direct sunlight and in shadow at the same time. As these statements – and Slick’s definition – imply, the Law of Non-Contradiction is intimately connected with the concept of time. It states that there is a restriction on the types of physical states that can exist at a single point in time.

Once again, however, this is a law that is induced from observation, and may be subject to change. Slick provides no argument that the law is absolute: he is merely telling us what the law is.

C. Law of Excluded Middle (LEM)

i. A statement is either true or false, without a middle ground.

ii. “I am alive” is either true or false. “You are pregnant” is either true or false.

Note one: “This statement is false” is not a valid statement (not logically true) since it is self-refuting and is dealt with by the Law of Non-contradiction. Therefore, it does not fall under the LEM category since it is a self-contradiction.

There is a bit of a problem here, depending on how one sees the above three logical laws. If these laws are actually just definitions of what, in Slick’s opinion, makes a valid statement, then we have no problem. As Slick points out, “this statement is false” does not fall under the definition of Non-Contradiction, so it cannot be regarded as a valid statement, and can be safely ignored. But if this is what Slick is doing, then why does he use the term “laws” instead of “definitions”? And why does his description of the laws seem to indicate that they are indeed laws, not definitions?

This distinction is critical. A law is a description of a certain class of observed phenomena. For example, “the acceleration of an object is proportional to the net force applied to it” is Newton’s Second Law: a description of what is observed in certain  problems of classical mechanics.

If the above logical laws are actually intended as descriptions of reality and not as definitions, then they do not tell us about what a valid statement is, and we are free to pick our own definition. For instance, we could define a valid statement as any grammatically correct sentence that is not a question. In this case, “this statement is false” is a valid statement. The fact that it fails to conform to the Law of Non-Contradiction simply indicates that the Law of Non-Contradiction cannot be generalized to all statements, i.e. it is not absolute.

Note two: If we were to ignore note one, then there is a possible paradox here. The sentence “this statement is false” does not fit this Law since if it is true, then it is false. Paradoxes occur only when we have absolutes. Nevertheless, the LEM is valid except for the paradoxical statement cited.

Here, Slick seems to concede the above point: if “this statement is false” is a valid statement (according to whatever definition of “statement” we might choose), then it fails to obey both the Law of Non-Contradiction and Excluded Middle.

Note once again that Slick does not show that the Law of Excluded Middle is absolute, he simply tells us what the law is, and provides one possible exception.

There are two further things to note:

1. Slick has revealed his implicit definition of the word “absolute”. He apparently takes “absolute” to mean “universally applicable”. Thus, if a particular statement does not apply to an absolute law, we have a paradox. There are only two ways we can resolve this paradox: either concede that the law is not absolute, or show that the problematic statement does not fall under the law’s jurisdiction. As discussed above, the latter approach can only be taken if the Law of Non-Contradiction is considered to be (part) of the definition of a valid statement. Yet it seems clear from the context that Slick does not intend the Law of Non-Contradiction to be a definition, but an actual law, hence it’s name. We therefore have only one option remaining: concede that the law is not absolute.

2. Because Slick has revealed his definition of “absolute”, we can immediately conclude, even without using “this statement is false”, that none of the laws given thus far are absolute. This is because, as per my previous comments, they are laws intended to describe observations, and therefore can never be shown with complete certainty to be universal, because they always stand to be corrected by new, contradictory observations. In the same way, Newton’s Second Law can never be shown with complete certainty to be universal, because we don’t know for sure that what we understand about physics is applicable to the entire universe: contradictory observations are – at least in principal – possible.

(It is true that most physicists take Newton’s Second Law to be universal, but this is a provisional assumption made for practical purposes. There is, in fact, no water-tight argument to show that it is universal.)

Note three: If we again ignore note one and admit a paradox, then we must acknowledge that paradoxes exist only within the realm of absolutes.

No further comment here.

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Summary thus far: Slick puts forward three laws which he asserts, without proof, are universally applicable, i.e. absolute. I argue that all of these laws are actually descriptions of our limited observations of the world around us, and we therefore have no way of determining if they are absolute.

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—– 2. Logical absolutes are truth statements such as:

A. That which exists has attributes and a nature.

i. A cloud exists and has the attributes of whiteness, vapor, etc. It has the nature of water and air.

ii. A rock is hard, heavy, and is composed of its rock material (granite, marble, sediment, etc.).

B. Something cannot be itself and not itself at the same time.

i. It cannot be true to state that a rock is not a rock.

C. Something cannot bring itself into existence.

i. In order for something to bring itself into existence, it has to have attributes in order to perform an action. But if it has attributes, then it already has existence. If something does not exist, it has no attributes and can perform no actions. Therefore, something cannot bring itself into existence.

D. Truth is not self-contradictory.

i. It could not be true that you are reading this and not reading this at the same time in the same sense. It is either true or false that you are reading this.

E. Therefore, Logical Absolutes are absolutely true. They are not subjectively true; that is, they are not sometimes true and sometimes false, depending on preference or situation. Otherwise, they would not be absolute.

Here, Slick uses a similar definition of “absolute” to the one he used before. Previously, he defined an absolute law as one that applies to all instances of the phenomenon it describes, i.e. a universal law. Here, he describes an absolute truth statement as one that is both objectively and universally true: it does not depend on the opinions of the person making it, and it does not depend on the circumstances surrounding its appearance.

Some of the examples he gives are merely restatements of the absolute laws of logic, so they are subject to the same criticisms as those laws. For instance, Statement A (“That which exists has attributes and a nature”) is a restatement of the Law of Identity, Statement B (“Something cannot be itself and not itself at the same time”) is a restatement of the law of Non-Contradiction, and Statement D (“Truth is not self-contradictory) is a restatement of the Law of Excluded Middle. Statement C (“Something cannot bring itself into existence”) is a description of how we perceive causality, but because we cannot know for certain that causality works in the same way everywhere and at all times, we cannot conclude that Statement C is absolute.

There is, however, a class of statements that Slick does not mention, that can be regarded as absolutely true. These are tautological statements: statements that ensure their own truth. For example “all circles are round” is always true, no matter the time or place. This is because roundness is built into the very definition of a circle, so it must always be true that a round thing is round. Not particularly elevating, but there it is. Notably, such statements are self-fulfilling: they need no reference to anything in the outside world to be true.

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Summary thus far: Having defined “absolute laws”, Slick goes on to define “logical absolutes”, which turn out to be, for the most part, restatements of the absolute laws, and therefore subject to the same criticisms I offered earlier. There is, however, a class of statements, which Slick does not mention, which are “absolute”: these are tautological statements like “that bachelor is unmarried”.

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—– 3. Logical Absolutes form the basis of rational discourse.

A. If the Logical Absolutes are not absolute, then truth cannot be known.

To “know” a truth, requires us to evaluate a truth claim, and it is probably the case that any process of evaluation involves at least some logical argumentation. We must agree, then, that if the laws of logic cannot be trusted to work universally, then we cannot have complete confidence in our assessments of truth claims. I would argue that we can, however, have a pretty high degree of confidence, simply because we observe logical laws to be so dependable. We trust our lives to these laws daily.

B. If the Logical Absolutes are not absolute, then no rational discourse can occur.

i. For example, I could say that a square is a circle (violating the law of identity), or that I am and am not alive in the same sense at the same time (violating the law of non-contradiction).

ii. But no one would expect to have a rational conversation with someone who spoke in contradictory statements.

What this argument boils down to is language. Slick is saying that if we don’t agree on – and follow – a basic set of linguistic conventions, then we will be unable to communicate intelligibly with each other. Indeed. Unfortunately for Slick, this has no bearing whatsoever on the existence of God.

Perhaps Slick means that we cannot have a rational discourse if our laws (e.g., Law of Identity, Newton’s Second law, etc) are not absolute. However, it’s quite possible to have rational discourse that relies on laws which, purely from an historical perspective, appear to be reliable but which may, in certain circumstances, fail.

Indeed, the only lesson to be drawn from such a situation is that we should never assign 100% confidence to any of our truth claims. But this doesn’t mean we need to assign exactly 0% confidence to them either. As usual, if we are worried about making a mistake in our thinking, we can check our conclusions against the available evidence.

Ironically, logical statements that are absolute, namely tautological statements, are specifically designed not to tell us anything about the real world. They’re self-fulfilling. In this case, then, absolute statements don’t do much better than nonsensical statements at furthering rational discourse.

C. If Logical Absolutes are not always true, then it might be true that something can contradict itself, which would make truth unknowable and rational discourse impossible. But, saying that something can contradict itself can’t be true.

Let’s break this down:

1. If logical absolutes are not always true then

2. There might exist a statement that contradicts itself.

3. But it’s impossible for something to contradict itself.

4. Therefore, 2 is false

5. Therefore, 1 is false, and logical absolutes are always true.

This would be a great argument except for one glaring error: step 3 claims that it is impossible for something to contradict itself, but this is only the case if the laws of logic are absolute. Yet in step 1 Slick assumes, for the sake of argument, that logic is not absolute. Step 3 therefore cannot follow if we accept step 1, and the argument fails.

(Furthermore, Slick would do well to make a more careful distinction between absolute logical laws and logical absolutes, if there is one.)

D. But since we know things are true (I exist, you are reading this), then we can conclude that logical statements are true. Otherwise, we would not be able to rationally discuss or know truth.

It is clear from this statement that whoever devised the Transcendental Argument did it a long time ago. No serious philosopher today would brazenly claim that we know, with complete certainty, that we exist, or that we are really reading when we think we are. There is simply no firm foundation on which to ground the view that we can be certain of anything.

And again, Slick uses the “Lord, Lunatic, Liar” approach, giving us two extremes as our only options: knowing truth with complete certainty or knowing nothing at all.

E. If they are not the basis of rational discourse, then we cannot know truth or error since the laws that govern rationality are not absolute. This would allow people to speak irrationally, i.e., blue sleeps faster than Wednesday.

Yes, and people do speak irrationally, on quite a regular basis.

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Summary thus far: Slick claims that if his logical laws and statements are not absolute, then we are in a total state of ignorance about the world. I argue that the lack of absolutes in logic requires us to take a skeptical view of all knowledge without requiring us to throw it all out as complete fantasy.

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—– 4. Logical Absolutes are transcendent.

A. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on space.

i. They do not stop being true dependent on location. If we travel a million light years in a direction, logical absolutes are still true.

If logical statements were absolute then they would, by definition, be spatially invariant. However, Slick has not demonstrated that any logical statements are absolute. I offered tautological statements as examples of absolutes, and indeed, these are true in any location. It doesn’t matter where you go in the universe, the statement “that circle is round” will always be true, because you only call something a circle if you already know it is round.

B. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on time.

i. They do not stop being true dependent on time. If we travel a billion years in the future or past, logical absolutes are still true.

The same form of argument for spatial invariance applies here.

C. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on people. That is, they are not the product of human thinking.

i. People’s minds are different. What one person considers to be absolute may not be what another considers to be absolute. People often contradict each other. Therefore, Logical Absolutes cannot be the product of human, contradictory minds.

This is a confusing argument because it does not define what it means for something to be the “product of a human thinking”. It is true that no human mind can claim creative credit for statements regarding observations of the real world. For instance, it is objectively true that the peak of Mr. Everest is a certain elevation above mean sea level. This is not a truth claim that anyone has invented out of thin air. Rather it is a claim that the natural world has imposed upon us, and which anyone can verify if they so wish.

Yet there is also a sense in which objective statements about the world are “products of human thinking”: it is our minds that are making these statements. Statements about the world are descriptions. And only minds can make descriptions. This goes for both logical absolutes and non-absolutes. For instance, “that circle is round” is an absolute statement that is purely a product of human thinking.

Next, note that by using statement C. i., Slick is suggesting that simply by disagreeing about the status of a particular statement, we can conclude that that statement is not absolute! In other words, to make the Law of Identity non-absolute, I simply have to disagree with Slick about whether it is absolute or not. And since I have indeed disagreed with Slick on this point, he is forced to conclude, by his own argument, that the Law of Identity is not absolute.

ii. If Logical Absolutes were the product of human minds, they would cease to exist if people ceased to exist, which would mean they would be dependent on human minds. But this cannot be so per the previous point.

As I’ve already argued, laws of logic are descriptions of the world as we understand it. And descriptions are the products of the human mind, even if the objects being described are not. Furthermore, human minds have figured out a way to record descriptive information using various media, so that if all people were to disappear tomorrow, it would be fair to say that our descriptions of the universe, including our laws of logic, would continue to exist, at least until the papers and computers that held them decayed into dust.

That said, note how circular Slick’s argument is. By considering what would happen if logical absolutes were products of the human mind, he is essentially considering what would happen if logical absolutes depended on human minds (if something is the product of a mind, it must depend on that mind). Yet this is the very thing he is trying to set out to prove. This argument, then, adds nothing to the discussion.

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Summary thus far: Slick claims that logical absolutes do not depend for their existence on space, time, or human minds. I argue that because logical laws are descriptions of the world around us, it is possible that they do, in fact, vary with space and time: we simply don’t know if they are universally true (absolute) or not. Tautological statements, on the other hand, are absolute, so it is true that they do not vary with space and time. Furthermore, since all logical laws are descriptions, they are products of the human mind, even if they are not products of the imagination. Tautological statements, like all statements, are also products of the human mind.

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—– 5. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on the material world.

A. Logical Absolutes are not found in atoms, motion, heat, under rocks, etc.

Since Slick has not shown that logical absolutes exist, it is probably true that none are found in these places. As for absolute statements like “that circle is round”, these are, in fact, dependent on the physical world. This is because they are products of the human mind, which in turn is a product of interactions between atoms.

B. Logical Absolutes cannot be photographed, frozen, weighed, or measured.

C. Logical Absolutes are not the product of the physical universe, since that would mean they were contingent on atoms, motion, heat, etc., and that their nature was dependent on physical existence.

i. If their nature were dependent upon physical existence, they would cease to exist when the physical universe ceases to exist.

ii. If they were properties of the universe then they could be measured the same way heat, motion, mass, etc., are measured. Since they cannot be measured, they are not properties of the universe.

Neural activity, and therefore human cognition, are functions of  the location and interaction of physical objects. While it is true that a direct measurement of neural activity won’t give you a direct observation of individual thoughts, neither do measurements by modern scientific instruments give us a direct observation of atoms. Instead, the structure of atoms is something we infer from the measurements. In the same way, cognition is something we infer from measurements of neural activity.

This is relevant because if, as I have argued, the laws of logic are descriptions of the world around us, and these descriptions are made by human minds, then they can, in principle, be measured in some way, because they emerge from the functioning of a physical object. The same goes for absolute statements like “that circle is round”, which are the products of human cognition.

D. But, if the universe did not exist, logical absolutes are still true.

i. For example, if the universe did not exist, it would still be true that something cannot bring itself into existence and that if A=B and B=C, then A=C. The condition of the universe does not effect these truths.

But how do we know that if A=B and B=C, that A=C, if there is no such thing as A, B, or C? In other words, if there are no objects to compare using this logical rule, how do we know the rule holds? Can Slick (or anyone for that matter) provide a proof that this rule of logic holds universally, or is universality just being baldy asserted here like the absolute nature of the logical laws was earlier?

Ultimately, the only reason we know that the above logical rule holds is because we’ve observed it to hold time and time again in the real world. Indeed, as I’ve already argued, the whole train of thought actually runs in the opposite direction: because we observe a repeatable pattern in the world around us, we describe this pattern with a rule, such as the example given above. Take away the world which led to this description, and the description no longer makes any sense.

ii. For example, if the universe did not exist, it would still be true that something cannot be itself and not itself at the same time.

False, because the concept of “something” would be meaningless.

iii. Therefore, Logical Absolutes are not dependent on the material world.

Refuted by the above arguments.

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Summary thus far: Slick argues that logical absolutes are not dependent on the existence of the universe. I argue that both normal (non-absolute) logical laws and absolute statements do, in fact, rely on the existence of the universe to make sense, because (in the case of laws) they are descriptions of the universe, and they are products of human brains.

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—– 6. Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature.

A. Logic is a process of the mind. Logical absolutes provide the framework for logical thought processes. Therefore, it seems proper to say that Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature since Logical Absolutes are truth statements about Logical things.

I agree that the entire enterprise of logic is indeed conceptual: it is a property of human brain function, without being an actual brain.

i. If you disagree that Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature, then please explain what they are if not conceptual realities.

Slick is suggesting that if his reader has difficulty coming up with an alternative to his idea, then his idea must be true. Not the best argument out there!

ii. If you cannot determine what they are, then how can you logically assert that they are not conceptual realities since logic is a process of the mind and logical absolutes are truth statements which are also products of the mind? Expanded: Logical absolutes are either conceptual by nature or they are not.

This adds nothing further to the argument.

B.      i. If they are conceptual by nature, then they are not dependent upon the physical universe for their existence.

a. If they are dependent on the physical unverse for their existence, then are they said to be properties of the universe the same way that red is a property of an apple?

b. If Logical Absolutes are said to be properties of the universe, then can they be measured the same way that other properties of the universe can be measured? If they cannot, then how are they properties of the physical universe?

c. If they are not properties of the universe and they are of the mind, then it seems proper to say that they are conceptual by nature and that they depend on mind for their existence.

From this last statement, it is clear that Slick is under the impression that the mind is not of the universe: that it is something separate from the universe. However, he does not show this to be true. Indeed, everything we understand about the mind today indicates that it is a property of brain function, and is therefore very much part of the universe. And if the mind is part of the universe, so also is logic, which is the product of the mind.

I suspect that this line of argument originated many decades ago when the field of neuroscience had yet to take off.

To summarize: logic is both conceptual and dependent on the physical universe. If there were no brains, there would be no thinking, and there would be no concepts.

ii. If they are not conceptual by nature, then:

a. What is their nature?

b. If it is denied that Logical Absolutes are either conceptual or not conceptual, then this is impossible because “conceptual or not conceptual” entails all possible options. Either Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature or they are not.

c. If they are not conceptual by nature, then what are they? If it is not known what they are, then how can it be said what they are not since, it seems fair to say, that knowing what something is not also entails knowing something about what it is?

i. For example, I know what water is. If someone says that a piece of wood is water by nature, I would say that it is not. If someone says that a frying pan is water by nature, I would say it is not. If someone were to say to me that a “flursist” (a word I just made up that represents an unknown thing) is by nature hard, how then can I rationally deny such a claim by saying “I don’t know what a flursist is, but I know it isn’t hard”? The repsonse would be, “Since you don’t know what it is, how do you knwo what it is not?” Is the response correct or not correct?

Again, Slick is trying to support his claim by challenging his audience to come up with an alternative, and hoping that they won’t. If a point cannot be demonstrated with an actual argument, then it shouldn’t be made in the first place.

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Summary thus far: Slick claims that logical absolutes are conceptual, but are not dependent on the physical universe. Aside from the fact that he has not demonstrated the existence of logical absolutes, he does not show that the mind is not part of the physical universe, and he therefore fails to show that logic is independent of the physical universe. We do agree, however, that logic is conceptual.

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—– 7. Thoughts reflect the mind

A. A person’s thoughts are the product of that person’s mind.

Agreed.

B. A mind that is irrational, will produce irrational thoughts.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as a wholly irrational or wholly rational mind. From what we know of minds, they have the ability to be both rational and irrational depending on the circumstances. I would therefore rephrase the above statement as follows: it is possible for minds to have irrational thoughts.

C. A mind that is rational, will produce rational thoughts.

As per the above objection, I would rephrase this as follows: it is possible for minds to have rational thoughts.

D. It seems fair to say that an absolutely perfect mind would produce perfect thoughts.

I object to this premise on the basis that “perfect” is not defined. What, exactly, is a perfect mind and a perfect thought? If Slick is talking only about rationality, then perhaps a perfect mind could be defined as one that has only rational thoughts. But Slick does not actually give us this definition.

E. Since the Logical Absolutes are transcendent, absolute, are perfectly consistent, and are independent of the universe, then it seems proper to say that they reflect a transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent mind.

Here Slick is smuggling in a whole list of properties that he hasn’t shown pertain to logical absolutes. This is only the second time he has used the word “transcendent” (it appears for the first time in the title of Section 4), and he slips it in here as if it had been there all along. According to the dictionary, “transcendent” means “extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience”. Slick has not demonstrated that logical absolutes conform to this definition, so I deny that logical absolutes – assuming they exist – are transcendent.

Furthermore, Slick has not demonstrated that logical absolutes are “perfectly consistent”. It’s not even clear what he means by this phrase. Consistent with each other? Or with something else? I therefore deny that logical absolutes – if they exist – are known to be “perfectly consistent”. As argued already, I also deny that any logic is independent of the physical universe.

Of course, tautological statements like “all bachelors are single” are always consistent, because they’re tautological. But these statements are not “transcendent”, and they’re not “independent of the universe”.

With these definition-related issues aside, there is a much deeper problem here, perhaps the most serious problem for the entire argument, namely the conclusion that logical absolutes must be the product of a mind. Slick’s own argumentation has already refuted this possibility on two counts:

1. According to Section 4Ci, logical absolutes cannot be the product of minds, for the reason that minds tend to disagree about what logical absolutes are. How, then, can it now be concluded that logical absolutes are, in fact, the product of a mind? Even if this mind is “transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent”, there still exist other minds (human minds) that disagree with this uber-mind regarding what should be considered logically absolute. And as long as this disagreement exists, Section 4Ci of the argument denies that logical absolutes can be the product of minds.

2. Section 4Cii also denies the existence of logical absolutes in minds, this time based on the idea that if minds were to disappear, so also would logical absolutes. But this is just as applicable to the uber-mind described here. This uber-mind might be “transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent”, but surely it is true that if this mind ceased to exist, so also would logical absolutes? And if this is true, then surely logical absolutes cannot be the product of this mind, according to Section 4Cii? Slick does not demonstrate that the uber-mind is exempt from this line of argumentation.

Perhaps Slick is not saying that logical absolutes originate in this uber-mind. Perhaps he is saying that if an uber-mind existed, it would only think using logical absolutes. But so what? This argument gets us no closer a demonstration of the actual existence of the uber-mind. If the uber-mind did not create logical absolutes, but merely uses them, then logical absolutes exist independently of the uber-mind: we do not need the uber-mind to exist in order to explain them.

F. We call this transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent mind God since a physical brain is not transcendent by nature because it is limited to physical space, and God is, by definition, transcendent in nature.

This claim fails because nowhere in the argument has anything been shown to be transcendent. Indeed, the concept of transcendence has not even been defined. Rather, transcendence was arbitrarily inserted into the argument one or two steps previously in order that the final step could claim that the uber-mind is not physical. This is very sloppy argumentation indeed.

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Final Summary:

Slick’s argument fails because it makes unsupported assertions, and is self-contradictory. Specifically, Skick makes the assertion that a certain set of logical laws are absolute, without actually showing this to be the case. He also arbitrarily asserts the idea of “perfect” and “transcendent” thoughts without telling us what he means by these terms, and why they are needed. Finally, he argues that logical absolutes cannot be the product of minds, because minds disagree about what logical absolute are, and because the disappearance of minds would require the disappearance of logical absolutes. But he then goes on to conclude that logical absolutes are, indeed, the product of a mind, without explaining why this mind is exempt from his own objections.

I argue throughout that what Slick presents as logical absolutes are not actually absolute, and that all logical thought (including my own examples of logical absolutes) is, indeed, the product of human minds.

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