Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Anthropic Principle and Epistemic Issues

Anthropic Principle, Wikipedia

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines the Anthropic Principle as "the cosmological principle that theories of the universe are constrained by the necessity to allow human existence. In its ‘weak’ form the principle affirms that a universe in which living observers cannot exist is inherently unobservable. ‘Strong’ forms take this line of reasoning further, seeking to explain features of the universe as being so because they are necessary for human existence."

In this note, I would like to just highlight the chief epistemic issues associated with this Principle.

Related Topics: Hegelian Dialectical Idealism (the Phenomenology of the Mind: Evolution of Consciousness); Schopenhauer's philosophy of the Will, Advaitin Philosophy, Madhyamaka (Sunyavada), the Heisenberg Principle and Consciousness, Naturalism, Determinism, Aristotelian Logic, Process Philosophy, Creationism, Cosmological Argument, Teleological Argument, Intelligent Design, Multiverse Theory.

Chief Epistemic Issues 

1. If the Anthropic Principle is applied to evolutionary theory, then the result is self-contradiction: the laws are deterministic, while evolutionism is founded on chance, probability, and randomness. In addition, the mind that is the end result of the deterministic process is also part of the deterministic whole; therefore, "truth" is not transcendent; as a result, the "observer" cannot exist: but, this is not the case (or at least should not be) if the anthropic principle is posited at all and we claim to be the intelligent observers of the universe. In brief, if the anthropic principle is applied to evolutionary theory, then science would become impossible due to the immanent determinism involved -- which is self-defeat.
2. On the other hand, if the observer is magnified above the perception of objects (as in Advaitism), then the universe or pluriverse as objective reality ceases to really exist: in which case, again, science is ultimately invalidated. (Ref also discussions on the Heisenberg Principle: the observer determines the phenomenon observed)
3. However, even if one opts for nihilism and the doctrine of emptiness of both the observer and the objective universe (as in Madhyamaka), then again science as an objective discipline is invalidated.
4. The Anthropic Principle involves a conflict of idealism and materialism. The question involved is "What is the world ultimately composed of and how do we know it?" Unless that is solved, the debate is unresolved.
5. The idealistic theory would suggest that the world is composed of ideas observed by the mind; therefore, the "anthropic principle" is ultimately subjective. Even the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant posits a mind that possesses the categories and rules by which the world is understood. As such then, the "anthropic principle" would merely be a principle imposed on reality by the mind.
6. The materialistic theory, however, would land us in problem no. 1 discussed earlier.

There is certainly a mind-matter conflict involved.

Christian Theological Viewpoint

1. The universe is intelligently designed with a purpose by God, the Intelligent Designer.
2. The earth is unique habitat of physical life and Man is the only creature who has freewill and the ability to know truth and choose his actions in accordance to reason.
3. Therefore, Truth is transcendent and human actions are moral (not deterministic+bearing eternal consequences).

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