In the last post I discussed how Chassidic panentheism can be justified in the style consistent with that of Spinoza. Today I want to add to that some notes and clarify a bit more.
While Godel’s proof of God’s existence with Anderson’s emendations is an inspiring, uplifting example of employment of modal logic for resolution of existential philosophical dilemmas, one might have difficulty agreeing with some of the axioms. Notably, in a later paper , Anderson himself, along with Gettings, revisits Axiom #3: namely, that Godlikeness, as conjunction of positive properties, is positive.
In other words, how can we be sure that existence of two positive properties taken together, in the same universe, cannot lead to a situation where one of the two properties actually negates the other, in some form or another? This is a very subtle but real argument. For example, maybe a perpetuating property in one domain, when it meets a perpetuating property from a different domain (assuming the former domain grows to meet/subsume the latter) is a rather negative property for the second domain. Here, “domain” does not necessarily need to be restricted to spatial, but can be logical or something even more general, something like what Parfit’s Selector operates in.
Basically, my goal in this post is to provide an intuition for why Axiom #3 holds. I think that here God’s modes a la Spinoza — though this time it is vis-a-vis the mode unfoldment — has as much explanatory power as in the problem of evil I discussed earlier, in the last post. Let’s give, again, same example, inspired by a post on Turchin’s blog “Clyodynamica” . Consider the Aztecs and human sacrifice . Human sacrifice was a normative phenomenon, based on accepted custom. A powerful regional empire existed, where this was practiced openly. Let’s look at the later facts: the Aztec empire was defeated by a handful of Spaniards. “Weak tea” one might say, as the Spaniards had a lot of help from locals, disease, etc. This, however, while true, fails to look at the deeper mechanism: the Spaniards, when they where receiving an immense support from local tribes, had a strong political card to play: most people find human sacrifice scary, if not abhorrent, and while it might work temporarily as a scare and awe tactic, it will lose out to a less brutal framework, assuming the latter is part of a more technologically advanced civilization that possesses other, non-self-destructive uniting rituals and customs.
Here we see the outlines of the mechanism of positive properties undergoing selection before unfoldment of the next level of mode of God.
Going back to the example of Aztecs, it’s still possible to imagine a situation where evil triumphs, one can argue. In such a case, let’s imagine a highly brutal, sadistic civilization that somehow is lucky to prevail on a planet. My treatise here is that if sadism itself is a supporting property integral to its existence, the culture will either self-evolve in a rationalistic sense, when it tries to further itself, abandoning its sadism or, if not, it will be eventually conquered by beings from another sun system or, even more likely, a splinter society within its own domain, i.e. groups that don’t spend valuable energy on self-destructive behavior. This is easy to understand if one sees that life is not just a property of Earth, but trillions or more of other domains in the cosmos (for recall: fine-tuning for life is a positive, perpetuating property of our physical Universe).
While I cannot convince those who lack imagination, my goal here is to provide a sense that I think that a conjunction of positive properties is, indeed, eventually positive, for the reason that either the more positive property wins out by nullifying the second property or a third, as yet nonexistent, positive property emerges to compensate for the negative conjunction of the previous two.
When the winning combination of positive properties spreads itself universally across all domains within a universe (where universe does not necessarily have to consist of an actual universe but, rather, a sufficiently large domain) the next level of God’s mode unfolds within that universe. If another mode of God unfolds in either of two competing domains (if domain is sufficiently large), a new type of object might emerge, for which either of these three properties might be applicable, further necessitating such conjunction (now of three properties) to become positive. In effect, I’m trying to say that either: 1) the previous properties (or even both) were not really positive, or 2) some objects within those domains are bound to perish to necessitate the conjunction to be positive.
In the worst possible case, the two domains annihilate each other (where “annihilation” refers to applicable properties or objects, in the most strict sense of the term), in which case other domains will evolve and expand to take their place. If the positive properties that take hold are different, then by definition, the previous two were not positive properties, an obvious contradiction. Hence, whatever properties were positive will still be manifested.
This, in essence, constitutes my argument in support of the intuition that Axiom #3 is correct: being Godlike (where Godlikeness is a conjunction of all positive properties) is a positive quality in itself, as viewed in timeless/infinite-time sense.
By the way, you can see above why “perpetuation” might be preceded by “object production” as positive property. Properties are objects, too. And properties that produce certain objects/properties (on the basic level, those that are valid and are not negated, by e.g. Russell’s paradox) are, obviously, perpetuating. Property of producing negating properties, including when they are conjuncted, is not a positive property. You can also see that mode unfoldment implies creation of new positive properties and new type of objects (objects arising from previous modes) on which those new properties operate.
Sometime, I also would like to discuss Parfit’s Repugnant Conclusion, and why it is not correct to assert its repugnance, and moreover, why the hope of some modern philosophers (including Parfit) of divorcing “ethics” from religion is a misleading epistemic utopia.