On Proof, Disproof and Infinity Loops
How possible is it to prove anything definitively? Or to disprove anything definitively? The nineteenth century philosopher who some (but not I) see as the Father of Conservatism famously noted, as others had before and the more educated do today, that truth was unattainable as other than an approximation to which we were functionally led through a concept he labeled “convention”, something that although unproven absolutely we find useful to treat as proven. That is the nature of theories which most scientist and philosophers are forced to acknowledge are as close as we come to approaching truth. That confuses the less educated who assume that theories are identical to hypotheses, i.e., just ideas that are as likely as not to be true. They have an interesting point based on, … well, … “probability theory” although not based on the theory denominated the “law of averages” (or is it the other way around, this is getting confusing”).
And then we have axioms: unproven propositions considered either self-evident or assumed to be true. Sound rather like Hume’s conventions don’t they, except that Hume railed against the self-evident as being inherently unproven. So, … on the basis of the apparent impossibility of attaining true truth, unequivocal, unvarnished, metaphysical as well as physical truth, where are we on the concept of proof and disproof. Are they equally unattainable? Isn’t 2 + 2 always 4 and won’t it always be?
Not according to mathematical theory, oddly enough; it’s just always equaled 4 which is not the same as saying that it always will be. Well, maybe “saying” is the wrong term, anyone can say anything and most people usually do, perhaps “being” is the right term but it doesn’t fit the sentence’s syntax. Well, anyway, … the fact is, … woops, … wrong term, … “fact” is also an ironically confusing concept. All right then, let’s go with this: the prevalent opinion by the self-proclaimed more enlightened educated elite is that absolute truth is unachievable through scientifically attained proof and thus we only believe that we approach it, but the road is an insoluble labyrinth; although the faithful have a rather different opinion of which Hume would not approve (some conservative he’s turning out to be).
So, where are we?
As to infinity loops (not to be confused with “fruit loops”, or should they be?), it seems this speculative path is fast becoming one. Is there no way out? Well, perhaps there are a few, although proof is not definite and non-definite proof is semantically speaking, no proof at all. Here’s one:
I loved Peter Sellers in the movie “Being There”, didn’t you? Perhaps he knew the answer but he’s left us. Maybe I should too (it rhymes hence it must be true).
 © Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2012; all rights reserved