Last post I presented an argument that reflexes are in some way fundamental. However, the argument has a fatal flaw.
I argued that reflexes are fundamental based upon the logic of causality: that since they have a unique causal structure, they are fundamental. But if they are fundamental, then where does my argument get its rhetorical force? To argue for a conclusion, the premises must at least be as secure as their conclusion. Therefore my argument begs the question: I have assumed the logic of causality to be fundamental when trying to determine what is fundamental.
One might wonder if we could ground causality to salvage the argument. But this only leads us into further contradiction. If we use a causal phenomenon in grounding causality—such as a logical argument—then we have begged the question. If we use a non-causal phenomenon, then there is still difficulty since to know something is non-causal is to already have presupposed something about the causal.
Consider a gently modified aphorism from Wittgenstein:
If the causal is what is grounded, then the ground is not causal, nor yet non-causal.*
This might make the enterprise of grounding causality seem futile. In order to ground the causal we would 1. Not be able to even write an argument since our language has causal artifacts in it, and so beg the question again by constructing an argument. 2. Seemingly have to violate the the law of the excluded middle, as it applies to causality. Therefore it is impossible to use causality to argue for the fundamental status of reflexes.
However, consider the opposite situation: using reflexes to ground causality.
As described previously, reflexes are a curious mix of both causal and non-causal factors. This solves Wittgenstein’s grounding razor. Secondly, no causal argument is required to connect reflexes and causality: by experience, reflexes contain causal & non-causal parts, and since we all have reflexes, we all have had fundamental experiences of the causal & non-causal. Moreover, if it is true that reflexes are impervious to the Cartesian Evil Genius, then this also lends credence to their fundamental status—notice this part of the previous post is independent, it can stand alone. Therefore, we can use reflexes to ground causality, not the other way around.
*See Wittgenstein, On Certainty, #205: If the true is what is grounded, then the ground is not true, nor yet false.