Page 13 - Logical and Spiritual Reflections
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Inductive truth is always frankly contextual. It is absurd to attack induction as “unreliable”
because it does not yield truths as certain and foolproof as deduction is reputed to do. To
argue thus is to claim that one has some standard of judgment other than (or over and
above) the only one human beings can possibly have, which is induction.
When inductive logic tells us: “in the given context of knowledge, hypothesis X is your
best bet, compared to hypotheses Y, Z, etc.” – it is not leaving the matter open to an
additional, more skeptical posture. For what is such skepticism, but itself just a claim to a
logical insight and a material hypothesis?
If one examines skepticism towards induction, one sees it to be nothing more than an
attempted generalization from past occurrences of error (in other domains), one that pays
no heed to past and present non-occurrences of error (in the domain under consideration).
That is, it is itself a theory, open to inductive evaluation like any other.

Inductive logic has already taken that skeptical hypothesis into consideration and
pronounced it inferior, because it does not duly take into consideration the specific current
evidence in favor of X rather than all other alternatives.

Even if a scientific theory is not absolutely sure forevermore, we must stick by it if it
seems at this time to be the closest to truth. The skeptic cannot come along and object that
“closest is not close enough” – for that would mean he considers (nonsensically) that he
has a theory that is closer than closest!
Hume foolishly ignored all this reasoning. He focused only on the positive aspect, and
rightly complained that this could not possibly be regarded as logically final and binding!
Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that he could see no “proof” of generalizing or
adductive reasoning. If we wrongly define and fail to understand some process, it is bound
to seem flawed to us.

When Hume discovered the unreliability of induction as he conceived it, he should have
looked for a flaw in his own view of induction, and modified it, rather than consider
induction as invalid. That would have been correct inductive behavior on his part. When
one’s theory leads to absurd consequences, our first reaction should be to modify our
particular theory, not theorizing as such. Instead of doubting his own thinking, Hume
attacked human knowledge in general, whining that it cannot be “proved”.
But of course, logic – by that I mean deductive logic this time – cannot tolerate such self-
contradiction. If someone claims the human means to knowledge, which includes induction
as well as deduction, is flawed, then that person must be asked how come he arrived at this
supposedly flawless proposition. One cannot reasonably have one’s cake and eat it too.

The argument against generalization is itself a generalization, and so self-contradictory.
We cannot say: since some generalizations are evidently erroneous, therefore all
generalization is invalid (i.e. we cannot be sure of the validity of any generalization, which
makes it as good as invalid) – because, of course, this argument is itself a generalization,
and therefore is invalidated by itself! What we can say for sure is that a generalization (like
that one) that leads to a contradiction is deductively invalid.

“competitiveness”. See in this regard my detailed essay “Principles of Adduction” in
Phenomenology (chapter VII, section 1).
Hume’s egotistical thinking in this and many other matters was very similar to that of
certain philosophers much earlier in India (notably the Buddhist Nagarjuna). Not to mention Greek
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