Some suggest that the material logic of the world presupposes the prior mental logic of a creator. I suggest the inverse. It is the material logic that constrains our mental logic, and that we are improperly projecting this emergent mental logic back onto material logic.
Is there any reason to suppose that mind is prior to matter? I believe not.
Another way to state this is that our mental logic is merely descriptive (not prescriptive) of the material logic of our universe.
I intend to nudge you towards this conclusion with a succession of examples.
- First consider the Law of Reciprocity. This law describes how healthy societies find cohesion when a critical level of altruism is reached among its constituents. However, its descriptive power does not in any way imply that societies will actualize cohesion based on altruism. Note that this law can also be prescriptive (normative) in the form of the Golden Rule and the like, but this prescriptive notion lies in an entirely different realm than does the descriptive formulation.
- Now ponder the Law of Diminishing Returns. This law is an inductive generalization from our economic interactions. This law does not constrain economics, nor is prior to it, but rather economic phenomena restrict our formulation of economic laws. This is another soft example since, conceivably, we may uncover conditions in which the law does not hold.
- Now consider the Law of Gravitation. Newton’s inverse square law of gravity works just fine when we take the minivan to the store. However it breaks down at velocities approaching the speed of light. The law of gravitation was not prior to gravitation. It does not restrict gravity. Instead, our testing of gravity has allowed us to inductively construct an imperfect law that yet has pragmatic value.
- Now let’s look at an example of a physical law for which we have not yet encountered a counter-example, though a counter-example remains logically possible. The First Law of Thermodynamics, sometimes call “conservation of energy”, states that energy can be transformed but cannot be created or destroyed. We did not discover this law under a rock, but rather generalized it out of careful inductive observation. This law seems to have held up very consistently, but the mental concept of energy conservation does not constrain the physical world; rather, the physical world informs our mental formulation of the law. It may well be that the physical world cannot exist in any other form other than as it is, but it does not follow that a mental representation had to exist in some mind prior to the physical reality.
- I now want to take this one step further and apply this same concept to Laws of Mathematics and Logic. Mathematics and logic were not discovered outside human experience, but emerged from it. There is definitely a very high status of reliability that humans have placed on the consistency of mathematics and logic, and it may well be that there cannot be another mode of existence in which the mathematics and logic we experience are of any other form. However, even here we cannot say these laws are anything but descriptive, formulated through inductive exploration.
I hope this progression has convinced you that there are no prescriptive laws that exist independent of the mental abstraction of perceived material patterns. Comments are much appreciated.