Sound concepts

Submitted by jhwierenga on Mon, 07/30/2018 - 08:10

Concepts that are derived from natural law are sound, and may be used in arguments to prove things

Phenomenon explained :

"Philosophical Babel": Even though they each argue impeccably, philosophers rarely agree. Words can be used with equal alacrity to argue that God exists and that He cannot possibly exist, that everything can be known and that nothing can be known, that it is essential to be good and that we should move beyond good and evil, that words are fundamentally meaningful and that words are meaningless.

Words work: We experience on a daily basis that the words we use have communicative and predictive value, by and large.

The QO explanation for the fact that there are many impeccably argued but nevertheless mutually contradictory philosophies is that they almost invariably make use of unsound concepts.

Constructive truths

Concepts in the form of 'natural order' quanta that express themselves in space and time to together create a universe in which they can be experienced by us have the philosophically interesting quality that if you put two of them together, you get a new concept which also expresses itself in space and time. Such concepts make sense, they correspond to things we can observe and therefore can contain no contradictions. That applies not just to concepts that are expressed in tangible things - electrons and protons, for example - but also to mathematical concepts, and, we are inclined to believe, to more abstract concepts such as beauty and truth. All concepts which exist as  'natural order' quanta and shape our universe are sound.

Invented concepts

Clearly, not all the concepts we are capable of conceiving actually exist as  'natural order' quanta. Concepts that we invent, rather than discover, do not play a role in shaping phenomena in space and time. We therefore have no guarantee that they are sound. If we use such concepts in an argument that some particular state of things is the case, we run the risk that the concepts will not support the weight of the argument, leaving us with a conclusion which is untrue despite being bolstered by an argument with faultless logic. Sound logic, applied to unsound concepts, produces unsound conclusions. We cannot arrive at truth using words of straw.

A concept cannot correspond to a  'natural order' quantum and express itself in space and time unless the following two conditions are met.

  • Firstly, the concept must have evolved from simpler concepts, starting with the initial quantum. It must have an ontological genesis. This is not possible for concepts that cannot be generated in a finite number of steps - therefore the concept of infinity is unsound - and for concepts which directly or indirectly refer to themselves.
  • Secondly, it must resonate, by itself and together with pre-existing concepts. This requirement eliminates concepts which require negations in their definitions. In particular the concept of perfection, as the absence of imperfections, requires negations and therefore cannot be sound.

Judging soundness

Unfortunately, the above conditions are not always easy to judge in practice. However, there is another approach which helps. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. A concept that does not in fact express itself does not exist as a  'natural order' quantum. Again, infinity is a case in point. We do not observe infinities, therefore infinity does not exist as a  'natural order' quantum. More generally, concepts that merely describe things but do not cause them to be, cannot be said to express themselves. We can tell this intuitively. If there was no  'natural order' quantum for the colour red or for the concept of a chair, our universe would be the same. Ergo, they are not 'natural order' quanta, and cannot be used as structural components of sound arguments.


This explanation follows from the QO concept of natural law, and shares its credibility: it is foundationally credible.