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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2002 > Nov > Nov 26

Re: Filer's Files #45 - 2002

From: Martin Shough <mshough.nul>
Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2002 08:28:40 -0000
Archived: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 09:53:38 -0500
Subject: Re: Filer's Files #45 - 2002


>From: Richard Hall <hallrichard99.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Sun, 24 Nov 2002 15:06:26 +0000
>Subject: Re: Filer's Files #45 - 2002

>>From: Bob Young <YoungBob2.nul>
>>To: ufoupdates.nul
>>Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2002 17:33:06 EST
>>Subject: Re: Filer's Files #45 - 2002

>>>From: Bruce Maccabee <brumac.nul>
>>>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
>>>Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2002 16:41:35 -0500
>>>Subject: Re: Filer's Files #45 - 2002

>>No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the
>>testimony be of such a kind that its falseness would be more
>>miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.


>And what is this constant BS you are spewing about "miracles"
>being necessary to recognize UFOs as something real and
>unexplained?

>As Bruce has pointed out, some of the skeptibunker
>"explanations" are far more miraculous than simply accepting
>relaible testimony as valid evidence.

>- Dick

Dick, Bob and List,

Hume's argument purports to be rationalism, but is in fact a
'miracle' of rationalisation. The notion of the miraculous can
only be discussed meaningfully in the context of the sociology
of knowledge, where it is axiomatic that 'reality' is
fundamentally socially defined. That is, it is a consensual
understanding based on systems of theory, experience and belief
that are braced and underpinned by socially cemented
'legitimations' and all this stuff has to be built and
maintained by the activities of human beings in history. In
this context questions about truth and falsehood are often less
useful than questions about the appropriateness of this or that
response in terms of the ongoing self-producing and self-
justifying cultural dialectic. Evidently this point of view
embraces a scepticism more radical than that which Bob espouses,
because it transcends both the absolutely miraculous and Hume's
speciously absolute refutation of it.

Hume's argument was this:

"There must be a uniform experience against every miraculous
event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. And
as a uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a
direct and full _proof_, from the nature of the fact, against
the existence of any miracle."

That generations of wise philosophers, who continued to quote
it, failed to see the extraordinary ineptitude of this circular
argument can only be explained by reference to the kind of
reality it was becoming culturally appropriate to inhabit in the
early 'rationalist' Britain of the eighteenth-century, where
'natural law' was coming to be seen as a set of absolute
unchangeable templates laid down at the beginning of time. Today
we know that natural 'law' is a continually reinvented product
of human effort where even the notion of 'the beginning of time'
itself is something conceived and re-engineered by human
intellect and imagination.

Hume's argument attempts to put underneath this process
something absolute and unconditional, cunningly disguised in the
form of an argument from experience. Miracles he defined as
violations of the 'laws of nature' and argued that

"as a firm and unalterable experience has established these
laws, the proof against miracles, from the very nature of the
fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly
be imagined."

This is not an argument _from_ experience, however, but a
sophistical _embargo_ on experiences of a certain kind - that
is, experiences that are anomalous in terms of a philosophical
system and, more particularly, in terms of the psychosocial
homeostasis of the organism 'David Hume'.

This is a primitive rationalism that hasn't yet learnt that
experience is both personally and culturally dynamic. Nature is
for Hume a static truth. But a genuine argument from experience
is the argument from _all_ experience, which is conducted by
human society all along the breaking wavefront of its advance
into the unknown future, and which demonstrates that no cultural
experience is 'firm and unalterable'. All that is now 'law'
represents merely a temporising 'fudge factor' for an unknown
physics that is the miraculous waiting to become.

Clear minds

Martin Shough


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