Archive for June 18th, 2012

June 18th, 2012

The Connection between Phenomenology and Existentialism

by Max Andrews

Perhaps the most important connection between phenomenology and existentialism is the philosopher’s role.  For the philosopher, the act of philosophizing is not a mere intellectual exercise that could exist solely in consciousness.  To the contrary, philosophy is a procedure and inquiry to the self, a “discovery and self-liberation.” The intellectual and cognitive acts of philosophy are participatory in their inquiry of the world.  This would be very similar to the understanding that Socrates is the philosopher. He not only taught and philosophized, but he understood that the very act of philosophizing was an act of engagement with the world and it was a way of life.  For the existentialist, there are more than thinking and thought experiments to philosophizing.  Philosophy is the very demonstration of participation.

To bridge the connection the philosopher must deny the phenomenologist’s transcendental ego.  When the philosopher denies the primacy of spectatorial knowledge he becomes an existentialist.  This is, perhaps, just as important as understanding the philosopher’s practical role because this provides an initial premise for participation in the world.  The existence of the philosopher, or human being, is more than a passive role of non-engagement.  A human being can and does engage and can be consumed in participating in and being a part of the world.[1]

June 18th, 2012

Miracles and the Modern Worldview

by Max Andrews

David Hume was an 18th century skeptic from Scotland who is considered an authority by many philosophers in challenging miracles.  Consider his take in An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding:

A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience as can be imagined… It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health, should die on a sudden: because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle that a dead man should come to life; because that has never been observed, in any age or country. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation.

Hume’s idea of “extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence” is pictured in a scale.  On one side is full proof and the other side is the evidence from all people in all the ages for the regularity of the laws of nature, which also amounts to full proof.  Thus, proof stands against proof and does not incline in either direction, the wise man cannot hold to a miracle with any degree of certainty.  According to Hume, miracles are violations of the “laws of nature” that “firm and unalterable” experience has solidly established.   Only a superior testimony of experience may override this proposition, but, unfortunately, there cannot be such a testimony, for if there were, miracles would no longer merit their name.  

June 18th, 2012

A Fourth Exception to the BVG Theorem

by Max Andrews

The Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem states that any universe, which has, on average, a rate of expansion greater 1 that system had to have a finite beginning. This would apply in any multiverse scenario as well.  There are four exceptions to the theorem.*

Time reversal at singularity

Example: Aguirre-Gratton

(Regarding BVG): The Intuitive reason why de Sitter inflation cannot be past eternal is that in the full de Sitter space, exponential expansion is preceded by exponential contraction.  Such a contracting phase is not part of standard inflationary models, and does not appear to be consistent with the physics of inflation.  If thermalized regions were able to form all the way to past infinity in the contracting spacetime, the whole universe would have been thermalized before inflationary expansion could begin.  In our analysis we will exclude the possibility of such a contracting phase by considering spacetimes for which the past region obeys an averaged expansion condition, by which we mean that the average expansion rate in the past is greater than zero: Havg > 0. (Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin 2003, p1)