Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

A Universe without Logic.

  1. Jun 3, 2003 #1
    I'm sure most of us would claim to be open-minded. In fact, most people I've spoken to would consider it an insult to be called "closed-minded". Well, I'm going to put everyone's open-mindedness to the test, with this thread.

    (BTW, I would like to give credit for this thread to Manuel_Silvio. I've opened my mind greatly, after having debated with him for many posts).

    Philosophy, Science, and Mathematics all hinge on one thing: Logic. One must believe that there is some logic to the Universe's behavior, in order to be in any of those fields. However, have you ever considered the possibility - left open by logic itself - that the Universe does not behave logically?

    I'm not saying that I believe that the Universe is illogical, I just think it's a good idea to open our minds to the possibility. Why? Because there is nothing logically conclusive to cause one to tend toward logic.

    For example, Inductive reasoning is to try an approach as many times as possible, and then make a conclusion, based on empirical patterns observed (correct me if I'm wrong about that, btw). However, common sense will tell one that Inductive logic cannot be trusted; as one can never try something an infinite amount of times. This means that everything that we have observed to be an empirical pattern could just as easily have been a coincidence, every time.

    I welcome any argument/correction/comment/etc, that anyone would care to provide.

    I also wish to remind you all that this post is not intended to invalidate logic (as one could not "logically" do so :wink:). No, it is intended to open one's mind to the fact - that, through ignorance, we "knew", when we were young children - that logic is not essential, provable, even demonstrable (if one's mind is open enough).
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 3, 2003 #2
    I think the very question is "illogical" :wink: because logic is not an attribute of the universe, but instead is our means of understanding the universe, while the universe itself has nothing to do with logic. For expample, imagine a person who for the first time in his life is exposed to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. To that person, until he comes to accept QM, the universe would seem illogical. Notice the word seem, as logic only exists in human perception and is not a universal fact.
  4. Jun 3, 2003 #3
    this is an excellent thread and really makes one think but in my opinion: the universe does behave logically. i justify this by reminding my self of the times in history when we have made logical reasoning and, upon later observation, found it to be true. one could make the agrument that the universe behaves logically only in certain places or that the only way we understand it is by logical translation, but to me to it seem that to say that the universe is illogical is contradictive to science as a whole and would go against everything we've done. in other word: we must believe it is logical because if we don't we are no better off on our understanding of it.
  5. Jun 3, 2003 #4
    This is an interesting perspective (though I should warn you of Alexander's belief, which he will, no doubt, bring up soon ).

    Also, remember what I said in my first post: The observation of empirical patterns is what has lead to - at least some forms of - Logic (if it's a human invention, that is). These empirical patterns could just as easily have just been coincidence, every time.
  6. Jun 3, 2003 #5
    Yes, this last sentence sums up the typical human inability to see beyond logic. But I must ask you (in Manuel_Silvio-ish style :smile:) why would you attempt to understand it?
  7. Jun 3, 2003 #6
    That would be totally illogical! ... Or would it?

    Meaning, how can you answer this very question without the "means" of logic?
  8. Jun 3, 2003 #7

    that's why we're all here, isn't it?
  9. Jun 3, 2003 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    What about all of the times in history where logical reasoning lead to poor, and even patently absurd conclusions?
  10. Jun 4, 2003 #9
    human error, usually. cold hard logic rarly fails. (and when it does is usually means we don't have all the facts) Mentat should know what i'm talking about. in DUNE weren't the Mentats only able to funtion with all the possible facts, and even then weren't perfect?
  11. Jun 4, 2003 #10
    One might try to define all that logic is, and then imagine all that would not be it. Then extend that to extremes and try to sustain that in your mind to no limits, trying to insist that all of universe is Like That. Dangerous attempt, for to truely succeed, one must past beyond 'point of no return', ie. go nuts (nihilism). The only way left is to touch the subject gently, 'from a distance'.

    Note that, "coincidence, every time" = logic. Not necessarily aristoteles logic we are used to, but still logic. Fundamental property of logic is its consistency, all else is its 'form'. We may argue that universe does not behave according to logic we are used to, but to ask if it behaves logically is infact asking if universe is consistent.

    Empirical pattern of coincidence, every time, is consistency, infinite faultless demonstration of logic. Which our known universe precisely is.

    Yet, if you go further, and try to consider universe that is infinitely inconsistent, being infinite faultless demonstration of ill-logic, you face a dilemma: infinite inconsistency and faultless demonstration of that are not compatible. This means, that to be truely inconsistent 'every time', this must apply to 'inconsistency' Itself aswell, or, it can't be 'faultless' in demonstration 'every time'. It must be inconsistent in demonstration of inconsistency aswell.

    You start thinking about what is 'right' proportions of inconsistency and faultless demo of it so that it makes least sense. And you find that 'best' case you get is when its ideally undetermined, ie when probability of either is exactly 50%. Thats about max inconsistency you could possibly get, imho. And that applies to about anything, even existence itself. If outcome of same interaction is never the same, its consistency. Thus to be least consistent, probability of same outcome to any interaction must be 50%. And even that is consistent. You enter endless tailchase and find that its nearly impossible to sustain complete inconsistency, however hard you try, some kind of pattern emerges nevertheless.

    One might even imagine that our known universe is based on those 'snapshots' of existence when probability of consistent events turned out to be the case, and that 'inbetween' other universes have their chance. In overall, it may be inconsistent, we just can't observe that, its too far off our reach. We might exist above parts of its patterns of inconsistency, in patterns of coincidence that we consider perfectly logical. One might even attribute that to cause of planck time, we just happen to coincidently exist 'at the same time'

    Though, even here we have this 'duality', any fundamental claim has no more than 50% probability of being 'the truth'.
  12. Jun 4, 2003 #11
    Logic is a tool of the mind, and the way we (in a structural way) reason about the world, the universe.

    But there is nothing mandatory to the universe, the material world itself to behave this or that way. Logic has no meaning to the material world.

    Let me give some examples, that maybe can lead to the conclusion that the universe itself knows nothing about logic.

    For example, let us try the most basic law of logic, and see how that fits on the world. The most basic las of logic is the law of identity (A = A). At first instance, we would claim that the universe is behaving according to this law. An electron is for sure an electron, isn't it?
    If we take a macroscopic object, for instance a pound of sugar, then let us think of what to make of this law. Is a pound of sugar equal to a pound of sugar?
    At first instance we would say yes. Both pounds of sugar have the same taste, same weight, are made of the same stuff, etc.
    Yet, when we have a closer inspection, we might notice differences. All sugar crystals have their own specific shapes, and not one is exactly like any other. So a pound of sugar is not exactly equal to a pound of sugar. Never.

    But let us go on, and try for more basic things. Like a proton. A proton would seem to us equal to any other proton.
    Yet we know of protons mostly as the nucleons inside atoms. Protons and neutron are holding there the nucleus, and interchange force particles (carriers of the strong nuclear force). This interchanging of force particles, caauses a proton to change into a neutron and then back into a proton. So, a proton then is not equal to a proton, cause a proton changes everytime. But perhaps a proton without change, that is a proton outside of time, is equal to a proton?

    Well then perhaps the idea of a proton is equal to the idea of a proton, but the proton outside of time, that is a proton that does not change/interact, is not existing.

    Conclusion: the law of identity is not applicable to the real world.
  13. Jun 4, 2003 #12
    Examine the statement "Logic does not govern that." You are making a statement that requires logic. A statement assumes the truth of itself (a logical property) and makes a true/false distinction (logic) about something. This is statement is applying logic to "that". But if "that" is not affected by logic, then this statement cannot be applied to "that".
  14. Jun 4, 2003 #13
    Re: Re: A Universe without Logic.

    Yes, it would be completely illogical.

    Also, it really isn't possible to leave the framework of logic, for a logical reason. That would be paradoxical. So, what I am proposing is not that one entirely leave the framework of logic, but that one see the possibility of the Universe without Logic.
  15. Jun 4, 2003 #14
    Is that a logical conclusion? Think about it, logic itself tells one that logical conclusions are unusable in an illogical Universe. Thus, if you say that the reason we are here is to progress in our knowledge/understanding, then you are bound to logic.
  16. Jun 4, 2003 #15
    Yes, but you are contradicting yourself by mentioning the margin of error in any Mentat's conclusion. Do you see why?
  17. Jun 4, 2003 #16
    i quote Ludwig Wittgenstein on this one:

    "What is the use of philosophy, if all it does is enable you to talk...about some abtruse questions of logic, ect., and it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life?"
  18. Jun 4, 2003 #17
    Re: Re: A Universe without Logic.

    I agree. However, my point is that humans look for logic in the behavior of the Universe (and invent such things as Causality), when there may be none there at all.

    I could find fault with this illustration (by, perhaps, pointing out that a pound of sugar is a weight of the whole - not a property of all of the constituents) but I understand what you are trying to say.

    Actually, one could easily assume that a proton is only a proton if it is constantly indeterminable. However, I still think I see what you are trying to say, and so I needn't present any argument against which particular analogy you use. The point is that the law of identity is not perfect (and, according to the truly open mind, needn't exist at all), and I definitely agree.

    P.S. Forgive my having argued with the analogies, inspite of having shown why it was unnecesarry. Bad personality trait, I guess.
  19. Jun 4, 2003 #18
    And yet you have also just applied logic to the attempt at invalidating logic. Why should I believe that "making a statement requires logic". That is a logical conclusion, and is thus outside the realm of the illogical Universe. Of course, what I am saying here is also a series of logical statements...

    I guess it all goes back to the fact that one cannot logically look outside of logic, but one can, nonetheless, do so. We just don't know how, I guess.
  20. Jun 4, 2003 #19
    He's just making my point: Philosophy is of no use, if it doesn't enable you to improve your thinking; and you still haven't explained why you are intent on improving your thinking.
  21. Jun 5, 2003 #20
    Is no one going to address my post?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook