Some words from an old German philosopher named Leibniz that I think explains things a little better than I can:
Necessary Truths. Necessary truths are those truths which are so by logical definition. For instance the phrase, “a senior citizen is any elderly person.” How do we know this is true? It’s true because we have said it was true, by the very definition of our terms “senior citizen” and “elderly.” These are thus truths “by necessity.”
Other forms of necessary truths are: “a circle is a perfectly round line”; “a square is an area enscribed by four straight lines of equal size meeting at right angles to each other”; “8 + 3 = 11.” These are true because we have ourselves defined the word “eleven” to mean eleven and not ten–or because we have given the name “circle” to the round object and the name “square” to the boxy object. We could have reversed the words and taught ourselves to see them accordingly–even teaching our children to use these words in this new way and it would not change anything about reality. We are only talking about things that are “true” by common definition. If you change the definitions you only are changing our vocabulary, our terminology–not the reality of the things in themselves.
Some people when asked what color the sea is might say “green.” Others might say “blue” There is no point in arguing which of these statements is true, because they are true by definition–that is by how a person defines the boundaries of blue or green–especially where they meet each other on our personal color charts!
This arbitrariness is the very essence of all things that are true by definition, by necessity.
Contingent Truths. Also–this necesary truth which is true by very definition or necessity has no cause and effect to make it true, such as “if you go out in the rain you will get wet.” The latter kind of truth is a truth of fact, a truth of science, a “contingent” truth. It is true because something “causes” it to be true. A contingent truth is a very different order of truth than a necessary truth.
In our modern thinking, every event supposedly has its particular “cause,” something that caused it to be or to happen. We are not merely interested in the necessary truth that “Johnny is wet.” If we were Johnny’s mother, we would certainly want to know why Johnny is wet. We would be interested in the contingency of his wetness–that is, the realm of cause-and-effect about his wetness. (But Johnny himself in the face of such a question might speak up: “Aw Mom, I’m not wet, I’m just a little damp.” He is offering up a necessary truth when his mother is looking for a contingent truth: “how did you get this way?”)
The thing that characterizes modern culture is our preoccupation with contingent truths. We want to know why things happen. We’re like one of two people gazing at a setting sun across a lake, blanketed by clouds of hues of pink and orange and even red. One person might be thinking “how beautiful this all is” (a truth by necessity). But we westerners would be too busy to notice such beauty because our minds were working on the thought: “why do these colors occur as they do; what causes the red, the orange and the yellow?” We don’t just want to receive the truths of the events. We want to master those truths. And so we busy our thoughts with the quest for contingent truths. We are of a scientific bent or nature!
Anyway, it is this realm of cause and effect truths that our modern, western, “empirical” science is designed to explore. In the end, such science hopes to be able to provide an explanation for everything that happens under the sun–in terms of the causes of all things.
The ultimate contradictions inherent in contingent truths. The difficulty, however, of trying to describe life, the very universe, through such truths of fact or contingent truths is that there is no end to their contingency. If everything has a cause there can be nothing that has no cause. And yet something has to start the series of cause-and-effect off. By this very logic of cause-and-effect there can never be some kind of ultimate starting point, a point at which things simply are, without a cause. And yet the process of cause and effect necessarily requires some kind of a starting point, one which would be the ultimate cause of all other causes. Thus this logic cannot, because of its need to explain all events in terms of their cause, provide any kind of explanation of this most important of all causes: the first cause! At this most critical of points in its line of logic, its very logic breaks down!
Thus without being able to provide an explanation for first causes, there can be no true logic to such a science. Indeed, all that factual or contingent science can do is to study the appearances of events, and their apparent causes. It cannot truly find the ultimate cause of anything.
At any rate, I had a reasonably good thanksgiving. I got drunk on thanksgiving night and had a muscle relaxant, and fell fast asleep on the crackbaby mansion floor. Yes, we went to Tyler to visit our parental units for the holidays, and that was all fun for a while, but I’m glad to be back. My parents still don’t approve of me starting my own business. For some reason they never have. They always find it to be a waste of time.
Maybe when I’m worth a billion dollars, they’ll think it was worth it. I want to please them, I really do, but I don’t know what it really takes to wow them anymore. I thought showing motivation enough to start my own business and suceed would be enough. But no. Apparently I’m still not responsible enough at the age of 21 to care for myself and look out to see if I’m being illicitly being parted from my money much less to start my own business.
I’ll make them proud if it is the last thing that I do. Dangit!
At any rate, hrmm.. I’m kinda tired, so I think I’m going to have a nappy time now.
Quote of the Entry: “very few winged aliens are chosen to perform those roles”