Counting to infinity by infinity…

MAJOR PREMISE: It is not possible to measure an infinite magnitude.

POSTULATE: The very act of measuring, or quantitatively delimiting, puts an incoherent ‘cap’ on infinity.

MINOR PREMISE: It is possible to measure the universe. It is possible at the very least to measure matter, and material objects, as the constitution of the universe.

CAVEAT: The inability to measure the universe to an infinitely precise degree does not negate the fact of its measurability per se. Indeed, the very ability to challenge or refine one measurement, is itself based on a competing standard of measurement (viz., a measurement obtained in and of the actual spacetime manifold can only be refined, or, indeed, rejected by measuring it against other quantifiable objects). This is significant, because potentially infinite divisibility (i.e., by increasingly precise measuring devices), does not equate to actual infinity. If everything were actually infinite, then anything we measured, at any scale, would be infinite, not measurably finite, as our measurements report.

CONCLUSION: The universe is not of an infinite magnitude, and is not itself a material ‘entity’ of infinite magnitude. Nor can it, therefore, be eternal.

DENOUEMENT: I would even go so far as to say the idea of an infinitely large material substance, as well as an eternally ‘old’ temporal object, is incoherent, since in either case, the categories of materiality and temporality presuppose finite divisibility, i.e., quantitative divisibility and measurability as distinct objects in spatiotemporal relation to others. To be an object of empirical scrutiny is to be quantitatively delimited by others, and to delimit others objects in the same way. This holds for objects’ fourth dimension as well. Unless one is prepared to deny science can measure anywhere in the cosmos––i.e., sectors or ‘levels’ of the universe are metaphysically simple––then one admits the universe, from top to bottom, is subsumed by the finite categories of quantitative spatiotemporal extension. To reject the universe’s ‘subsumption’ under finitude is to posit an inifnite (and eternal) universe. Again, though, an infinitely extended quantity is incoherent on the grounds that an infinite magnitude cannot be a “quantum” (i.e., a discrete amount). One infinity cannot be more “magnus” than another, and therefore neither can be of any magnitude.

Been a long time since…

…blog and roll.

(All right, for that, you can punch me if you meet me and are a Zeppelin fan, the latter being a sufficient condition, the former being a necessary one. … Yes, I just punched myself.)

Except for the two posts I just added, I haven’t done anything on this blog for a few months. (Not that anyone here is necessarily complaining about that.) But now that I’m settled back in Taiwan with wireless internet and some down time, I think I might as well contribute a little sum’n-sum’n.

While posting the two previous entries, I noticed on of this blog categories is “humor”. How funny! Conveniently enough I just wrote a new dialogue on my blog that is… of a  humorous bent. It is between two recurring denizens of my blog, Ernius and Bertus. I figured a little levity might be a shot in the arm some readers here might appreciate. If not, I can only say to the disinterested: Don’t. Click. This. Link! (If you do, though, start from the bottom and work your way up as Ernius and Bertus work their way into your heart. … Just a little rehearsal for the cheesy promotional slogan when they go 30 Rock.)

Even if it lacks actual ‘humor’, I believe E & B’s banter offers a number of suggestive philosophical glimmers in a muted homage to Plato. Be thou the judge.

And Happy Chinese New Year, better buckle up for a wild Year of the Cow! 新牛年快樂!恭禧發財!諸事順利!萬事如意!天主保佑!

The expansive logic of love…

…versus the sterile logic of contraception.

Love by its very nature seeks to issue in something greater than either the beloved on his own or the lover in the abstract. Love seeks to issue in a higher synthesis comprised of the lover-with-his-beloved. Love is, therefore, intrinsically generative and expansive. Bene ergo dicitur bonum diffusum sui (Therefore is it well said that the good diffuses itself). So expansive, in fact, that love will not stop at this one step higher into harmony. Love between two lovers expands to encompass the very objects and people in their lives: this is why “inside jokes” are such a powerful signal, and reinforcement, of friendship and love: they conscript something ordinary and innocuous, the coal of everyday life, and transform them into diamonds forged by the power of love. For better or worse (Romeo and Juliet, anyone?), “worlds collide” precisely because lovers instinctively draw their surroundings into their inner circle. Because humans are essentially embodied, historical beings, our efforts to love one another inextricably draw matter, money, artifacts, and other flesh into the dance.

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Taking a watch apart…

…is lots more fun than putting it back together.

Someone asked me today about a question her roommate asked her not long ago. If we live our whole lives without God but then repent at the last minute, won’t God forgive us and save us? If not, how can you say He is so loving? If so, how can you say He is so just?

To help respond to this question, I suggested some analogies. The right way to understand this issue is based on the principle that some things are irreversible, or at least, so nearly intractable once enacted that they basically preempt such an easy ‘lat minute’ solution. As St. Augustine remarked in one of his many discussions of the fall in Adam, there are some acts we perform by which we forfeit our ability, let alone right, to undo or repent of them. Such as suicide. As soon as you kill yourself, there is by definition no last second chance or last resort to reverse that action. Suicide coalesces your last second with your last resort; a second later, you’re past your last resort, past the point of no return.

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A Nation Born Blind

Being too lazy to write a new essay on the occasion of today’s anniversary, I take the liberty of cribbing from my own blog from last year on this day. There are some interesting comments on the original post–check them out here.

In the Gospels Our Lord is sometimes portrayed as healing the blind, as though that were a remarkable thing to do, as though restoring sight to the blind were an act of kindness, the relieving of a malady. Imagine how strange it would have seemed, both in antiquity and to our own ears, were one of these blind people to say to Our Lord, “What are you doing? I don’t want my sight restored, I’m happy just the way I am!” Blindness has two vectors: one is either born blind, or one becomes blind after being born with sight. I find it very difficult to believe that a person who became blind after being born with sight would actually prefer to remain blind; but I also find it hard to believe that, if offered the capacity to see, someone who had been born blind would refuse the gift. Even without knowing what it is like to see, I think, a person born blind would be unable to think of any rationally compelling reason to remain blind if sight were in the offing.

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