What does it mean to be SELF EVIDENT?

Of course, were something TRULY self-evident, one questions the need to argue or assert it. Both the Qur’an and Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (and various other works) are curious in that they occasionally appeal to common sense as if certain things are self-evident to everyone. The Qur’an often says “for DO YE NOT KNOW???” and I shall fetch vol I of the Institutes and quote page 1 – oh, sorry Chapter III – 1. That there exists in the human mind, and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity, we hold to be beyond dispute [self-evident?], since God himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has endued all men with some idea of his Godhead, the memory of which he constantly renews and occasionally enlarges, that all to a man, being aware that there is a God, and that he is their Maker, may be condemned by their own conscience when they neither worship him nor consecrate their lives to his service. – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol. I, Ch. 3


The ultimate problem with all discourse whether political or religious has a lot to do with something that Gödell proved and Wittgenstein hints at in the Tractatus – The proof of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem is so simple, and so sneaky, that it is almost embarassing to relate. His basic procedure is as follows:

Someone introduces Gödel to a UTM, a machine that is supposed to be a Universal Truth Machine, capable of correctly answering any question at all.
Gödel asks for the program and the circuit design of the UTM. The program may be complicated, but it can only be finitely long. Call the program P(UTM) for Program of the Universal Truth Machine.
Smiling a little, Gödel writes out the following sentence: “The machine constructed on the basis of the program P(UTM) will never say that this sentence is true.” Call this sentence G for Gödel. Note that G is equivalent to: “UTM will never say G is true.”
Now Gödel laughs his high laugh and asks UTM whether G is true or not.
If UTM says G is true, then “UTM will never say G is true” is false. If “UTM will never say G is true” is false, then G is false (since G = “UTM will never say G is true”). So if UTM says G is true, then G is in fact false, and UTM has made a false statement. So UTM will never say that G is true, since UTM makes only true statements.
We have established that UTM will never say G is true. So “UTM will never say G is true” is in fact a true statement. So G is true (since G = “UTM will never say G is true”).
“I know a truth that UTM can never utter,” Gödel says. “I know that G is true. UTM is not truly universal.” —


— ultimately, we cannot understand our own mind/brains … Just as we cannot see our faces with our own eyes, is it not inconceivable to expect that we cannot mirror our complete mental structures in the symbols which carry them out? All the limitative theorems of mathematics and the theory of computation suggest that once the ability to represent your own structure has reached a certain critical point, that is the kiss of death: it guarantees that you can never represent yourself totally. — which is kind of what Paul said with “through a glass darkly.”


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