• Agent Smith
    6.2k
    The OP makes a good point! The infinite regress that inheres to the issue of explaining (things) proves his/her point in a succinct and powerful manner. It's turtles all the way down! :snicker:
  • Pie
    553
    Without the Other, the "I" would... what? Disintegrate?Tate

    It's like bright without dim, left without right. If there was only one person, what need for saying 'I think X.' Or of saying 'it seems to me that X.'

    As I see it, when I say 'as I see it,' I am politely acknowledging that I don't have to authority or certainty to grandly declare the way things simply are full stop. I offer a hypothesis that I am explicitly willing to revise as the conversation develops. If I say that I know something, that vaguely suggests my readiness to justify my authority to make such a claim according to the norms of the community we both belong to. For instance, mathematician might 'know' something is a theorem (is true) because he's familiar with the proof. Notice how we all know that we are all here together subject to various rules. From this perspective we can examine concepts like the self and knowledge in terms of moves in a social game.
  • Tate
    865
    It's like bright without dim, left without right. If there was only one person, what need for saying 'I think X.' Or of saying 'it seems to me that X.'

    As I see it, when I say 'as I see it,' I am politely acknowledging that I don't have to authority or certainty to grandly declare the way things simply are full stop. I offer a hypothesis that I am explicitly willing to revise as the conversation develops. If I say that I know something, that vaguely suggests my readiness to justify my authority to make such a claim according to the norms of the community we both belong to. For instance, mathematician might 'know' something is a theorem (is true) because he's familiar with the proof. Notice how we all know that we are all here together subject to various rules. From this perspective we can examine concepts like the self and knowledge in terms of moves in a social game.
    Pie

    All well said. But what about that perspective from which we see the self and knowledge as residents of a social complex: is this perspective the 'fool on the hill'? Who is it that stands apart to see this?

    Isn't this view meaningful relative to the other one, where the self is independent? Are we explaining by comparing diverging narratives?
  • god must be atheist
    4.5k
    Remember when you were young and you came across that question: if God created everything, what created God? That's it. It's the limit. You can't explain Everything.Tate

    Man. Man has created god. Of course that presupposes that god did not create everything. Christians also believe god did not create everything. Christians don't believe God created Evil, yet Evil is part of everything. Duhh.
  • Pie
    553
    But what about that perspective from which we see the self and knowledge as residents of a social complex: is this perspective the 'fool on the hill'? Who is it that stands apart to see this?Tate
    Philosophers ! I mean the 'serious' kind who labor together, subject to the norms of rationality, carefully building and testing the self-consciousness of the species. It's just us becoming more and more aware of ourselves in our talking about our talking about our talking. As Hegel might put, we little bald monkeys come and go, downloading the highlights of the conversation so far, maybe make a good point, and die. This conversation becomes more and more aware of itself as it continually moves to see itself from the outside, forever forging and extending its metacognitive vocabularies, making an otherwise necessary inheritance optional, sending out exploratory 'tentacles' (theories it's willing to drop if they don't live up to expectations), ...

    For instance, I love this dude for making explicit the philosophical situation itself.

    It is central to Brandom’s kind of rationalism that for him the behavior of the cardinals in my yard does not count as assessable in terms of their reasons; they are sentient, rather than sapient, to use a typical Brandomian turn of phrase. For Brandom, sentient beings, such as the cardinals, react differentially to their environments. But they do not count as sapient because they are incapable of the kind of responsibility and authority for their acts that is characteristic of being obliged, prohibited, and permitted, (and being committed to a certain course of action or entitled to something), and which, on his view, is necessary if an agent’s inferences are to be appropriately appraisable. The cardinals’ behavior amounts to an implicit categorization of the features of their environment, but this behavior does not depend upon the birds performing inferences to or from the applicability of those categorizations. It is his distinctive analysis of the nature of inference and of the practice of drawing and evaluating inferences that forms the core of Brandom’s understanding of rationality. An agent is rational in Brandom’s preferred sense just in case she draws inferences in a way that is evaluable according to the inferential role of the concepts involved in those inferences, where the inferential role of a concept is specified in terms of the conditions under which an agent would be entitled to apply, or prohibited from applying, that concept, together with what else an agent would be entitled or committed to by the appropriate application of the concept. This articulation of the content of concepts in terms of the inferential role of those concepts, and the specification of those roles in terms of proprieties of inference, is combined with a distinctive brand of pragmatism. Instead of the content of a concept providing an independent guide or rule that governs which inferences are appropriate, it is the actual practices of inferring carried out in a community of agents who assess themselves and each other for the propriety of their inferences that explains the content of the concepts.
    https://ndpr.nd.edu/reviews/reason-in-philosophy-animating-ideas/

    This, of all his books I've look at, is the fastest-moving most big-picture and dramatic presentation of ideas presented more technically elsewhere.
  • Tom Storm
    4.6k
    Philosophers ! I mean the 'serious' kind who labor together, subject to the norms of rationality, carefully building and testing the self-consciousness of the species. It's just us becoming more and more aware of ourselves in our talking about our talking about our talking. As Hegel might put, we little bald monkeys come and go, downloading the highlights of the conversation so far, maybe make a good point, and die. This conversation becomes more and more aware of itself as it continually moves to see itself from the outside, forever forging and extending its metacognitive vocabularies, making an otherwise necessary inheritance optional, sending out exploratory 'tentacles' (theories it's willing to drop if they don't live up to expectations), ...Pie

    That's a lovely bit of writing. It does suggest a kind of progress (rather than an emerging truth) any further thoughts on this? Are we able to say the conversation becomes more useful over time?
  • Pie
    553
    That's a lovely bit of writing. It does suggest a kind of progress (rather than an emerging truth) any further thoughts on this? Are we able to say the conversation becomes more useful over time?Tom Storm

    Thanks! It seems the conversation and therefore/also its participants become richer and more complex, more self-referential, glutted like Shakespeare perhaps on the possibilities of personality. For me the key point is that we (as individuals) are each essentially 'us' as the inherited conversation, subject to its internal logic, appealing to its norms, talking and writing and performing its contingent signifiers.

    This criticism (of speculative philosophy) , he argued, presupposes a conception of reason is a cognitive faculty of the individual thinking subject that is employed as an instrument for apprehending truths. He aimed to show ... that reason is one and the same in all thinking subjects, that it is universal and infinite, and that thinking (Denken) is not an activity performed by the individual, but rather by “the species” acting through the individual. “In thinking”, Feuerbach wrote, “I am bound together with, or rather, I am one with—indeed, I myself am—all human beings” (GW I:18).
    ...
    Unlike sense experience, thought is essentially communicable. Thinking is not an activity performed by the individual person qua individual. It is the activity of spirit, to which Hegel famously referred in the Phenomenology as “‘I’ that is ‘We’ and ‘We’ that is ‘I’” (Hegel [1807] 1977: 110). Pure spirit is nothing but this thinking activity, in which the individual thinker participates without himself (or herself) being the principal thinking agent.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ludwig-feuerbach/

    In order to appreciate the anti-subjective emphasis of play, it is helpful to understand its “medial” (Truth and Method, 103, 105) nature: players do not direct or control the play but are caught up in it. Play has “primacy over the consciousness of the player” (104), follows its own course, and plays itself, so to speak. Play is not played by a subject but rather absorbs the player into itself. Gadamer’s primary concern is to elucidate what it means to be caught up in the game in a way that diminishes the subjectivity of the player. In fact, the subject of the game is not the player but the game itself.
    https://iep.utm.edu/gadamer/#SH3a

    Philosophy presupposes nothing; this can only mean that it abstracts from all that is immediately or sensuously given, or from all objects distinguished from thought. In short, it abstracts from all wherefrom it is possible to abstract without ceasing to think, and it makes this act of abstraction from all objects its own beginning. However, what else is the absolute being if not the being for which nothing is to be presupposed and to which no object other than itself is either given or necessary? — Feurbach

    For instance, Bakhurst (2011, 2015), following McDowell and Brandom as well as Vygotsky, characterises Bildung as a process of enculturation during which the child, by means of acquiring conceptual abilities, is transformed from being in the world to being a subject capable of thinking and acting in light of reasons, thereby taking a view on the world and herself. As Bakhurst points out, this ‘gradual mastery of techniques of language that enable the giving and taking of reasons’ (2015, p. 310) is an essentially social process, because in acquiring concepts the child essentially learns to participate in a social praxis. Similarly, by adopting an approach to pedagogy that draws on both Vygotsky and Brandom, Derry (2008, 2013) emphasises the importance of a normatively structured learning environment in which adults provide opportunities for children to engage in the social practice of giving and asking for reasons in order to gain understanding of the inferential relations that govern our use of concepts.
    ...
    It is also very close to Brandom's view, which interprets intentionality as a fundamentally social phenomenon, namely as the ability for deontic score-keeping, that is the ability to ascribe and acknowledge justifications to others and oneself. Thus, on this view, human thinking, understood in terms of the possession and use of concepts, consists essentially in the ability to participate in the—necessarily social—game of giving and asking for reasons.

    The essentially social nature of the development of human rationality is also stressed in recent empirical research, in particular in Tomasello's (2014) influential evolutionary and developmental account.11 On Tomasello's view, human rationality is essentially characterised by what he calls ‘we-intentionality’. He claims that our ability for objective-reflexive-normative thinking is the result of a ‘social turn’ in cognitive evolution, which was necessitated by the need for increasing social cooperation. This ability is thought to have developed in two steps over the course of human evolutionary history, which are thought to be mirrored to some extent by human ontogeny. The first step consists in the development of shared intentionality, which children acquire around the age of 9–12 months. Shared intentionality is characterised by the ability to take into account another's perspective (without necessarily explicitly distinguishing one's own perspective from that of the other), for instance when jointly attending to an object with a caregiver. Ultimately, this enables children to engage in cooperative communication and two-level collaboration with another person. The second step consists in the development of collective intentionality. Thus, from the age of about 3 years onwards, children begin to be oriented not just towards a specific other, but towards the group and they begin to communicate conventionally. That is, they learn to evaluate and justify their reasoning according to the standards of the group. Taken together, the development of ‘we-intentionality’ is thought to have provided early humans with crucial survival advantages over groups who were not able to engage in reasoning of this kind (Tomasello, 2014).
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1467-9752.12407

    For Brandom, Kant’s central insight is that "what distinguishes judging and intentional doing from the activities of non-sapient creatures is not that they involve some special sort of mental processes, but that they are things knowers and agents are in a distinctive way responsible for" (p 32). Since Brandom’s Kant also holds that an entity is responsible for its judgments and its acts just in case it is capable of taking responsibility for those acts and judgments, Brandom’s Kant is committed to the view that having a mind is a matter of the minded entity taking responsibility for what it believes and does. Put in slightly more Kantian terms, Brandom’s Kant is committed to the view that the unity of apperception is achieved through a process in which an agent unifies her judgments by coming to believe what she ought to believe (has reason to believe) given her other judgments and the content of the concepts ingredient in those judgments.
    ...
    It is not merely the case that to be an agent who is responsible for what she believes and does an agent must acknowledge that responsibility. As Kant saw, it is also the case that that agent must be recognized as standing under that responsibility by other individuals, and that this requirement of mutual recognition allows, in a proto-Wittgensteinian fashion, for the possibility that we might be wrong regarding just what we have committed ourselves to. This possibility is in turn central to the independence of the content of concepts from our own application of those concepts.
    Brandom argues that for Hegel the content of all of the concepts that we are responsible for applying in judgments gets fixed in a way that is analogous to the way in which the content of the concepts used in the common law get determined:

    The judge must decide, for each new case, both what to endorse — that is, whether or not to take the concept in question and apply it to the situation as described — and what the material incompatibility exclusions and consequential inclusions articulating the content of the concepts are. And for both of these tasks the only raw materials available are provided by how previous cases have been decided. (p 84)

    In making these decisions, the judge in the common law tradition and the concept user in general is responsible both to the other contemporary (authorized) users of the concept in question and to the history of the previous uses of the concept; she must submit reasons for using the concept in the way that she does that appeal to those previous uses as justifications and are acceptable to her current, and future, colleagues. In doing so, and responding to other contemporary uses of the concept by either recognizing or failing to acknowledge them as appropriate, each current concept user is situated as part of a contemporary community that is perpetually interpreting, extending, and clarifying the tradition from which the community has arisen by applying to new cases the concepts inherited from that tradition.
    https://ndpr.nd.edu/reviews/reason-in-philosophy-animating-ideas
  • Tate
    865
    Instead of the content of a concept providing an independent guide or rule that governs which inferences are appropriate, it is the actual practices of inferring carried out in a community of agents who assess themselves and each other for the propriety of their inferences that explains the content of the concepts.
    :cool:
    Maybe. How would we know this is what's happening? This is what irritates me about realism. It builds castles in the sky and hands them to you, so proud to have arrived at something possible, as if the mechanistic character of our present age ought to do the rest of the work.

    Just venting.
  • Pie
    553
    How would we know this is what's happening?Tate

    A philosophy forum is not a bad place to start looking. The idea is to understand the meaning of concepts primarily through the way we offer and demand reasons, through the way we treat one another and explain ourselves to one another. 'I thought the light was green, officer.' Or 'I had a terrible headache' or 'I was under the impression that mushrooms were legal in Idaho.'
  • Tate
    865
    The idea is to understand the meaning of concepts primarily through the way we offer and demand reasons,Pie

    Again, I think this is more hypothesis than conclusion of an argument, isn't it?
  • Pie
    553
    Again, I think this is more hypothesis than conclusion of an argument, isn't it?Tate

    I take what you mean, but I'd say it's both in that it's an hypothesis that's been argued for. Philosophy isn't math of course, so conclusions aren't theorems.
  • Pie
    553


    Amplifying, I think Wittgenstein (and not just him) already proved well enough that meaning is public, outside of and between individuals, not glowing in their pineal glands. But Philosophical Investigations, for all its ghostbusting, doesn't sketch much of a positive theory. As I understand it, Sellars' brilliant move was to see the practical/social primacy of humans making, challenging, and defending claims. A 'hanging' concept doesn't mean much apart from a complete thought/claim. Inferences are how we justify and challenge claims, how we explain ourselves and others, ...how claims relate to one another. So it makes sense to look how concepts work within/between claims as part of seeing them work between claimants.

    A 'self' (to put it playfully) is something like a set of claims that ought to cohere. An 'object' is a set of claims that 'must' cohere (as in we can't make sense of a round square, while being all too familiar with humans who contradict themselves.)
  • Agent Smith
    6.2k
    A few years back I posted on another thread that free will is most likely inexplicable as all explanans are causal i.e. exist in a deterministic framework.
  • Tate
    865
    A 'self' (to put it playfully) is something like a set of claims that ought to cohere.Pie

    If there's a claim, there's a claimant. Any psychological position you take, whether it's transcending society, transcending time, transcending Everything, it's all the self. You never get beyond it. Ego, maybe you can have a kind of vantage point on it, but that's apt to be a twin of the ego as opposed to a true transcendence, in other words, you see yourself by pretending to be someone else.

    This same theme is there in the thread about solipsism. You're too easily laying out your externalism as an answer, as if you're critiquing a problem with internalism.

    I say no, internalism and externalism are left and right, north and south, and they're both tools of the mind and self.

    As Witt said, Everything is circumscribed by the subject.
  • Pie
    553
    If there's a claim, there's a claimant. Any psychological position you take, whether it's transcending society, transcending time, transcending Everything, it's all the self. You never get beyond it.Tate

    What's that ? I can't hear you. And if I could, ....

    Do you see how your reasoning aims beyond yourself towards me, attempting to bind me ?

    "It's impossible for us to get beyond the self." The statement does what it says can't be done in the very saying of it.

    As Witt said, Everything is circumscribed by the subject.Tate

    Respectfully, that's just about antithetical to the way I understand Wittgenstein.
  • Tate
    865
    As Witt said, Everything is circumscribed by the subject.
    — Tate

    Respectfully, that's just about antithetical to the way I understand Wittgenstein.
    Pie


    5.632 The subject does not belong to the world but it is a limit of the world.

    --Tractacus
  • Pie
    553
    5.632 The subject does not belong to the world but it is a limit of the world.Tate

    I know that line from his early work, and that's something we can talk about. But I'm especially coming from the point of view of his later work (PI and OC) (just to elucidate the 'antithetical' comment, not to end the discussion.)
  • Tate
    865


    I think it's probably a mistake to take Wittgenstein as advocating any particular metaphysics. I've been taking him as just exploring the mechanics of climbing the ladder.
  • Pie
    553
    think it's probably a mistake to take Wittgenstein as advocating any particular metaphysics. I've been taking him as just exploring the mechanics of climbing the ladder.Tate

    To me, he destroys the theory that meaning is private (to name just one result.) I just happen to be interested in clarifying what it means to mean something, how we do and how we ought to settle beliefs, etc. The 'big' insight for me was something like the intrinsic publicity of meaning, what it means to be 'in' a language with others, the way that very notion of the 'I' is a token caught up in a public, worldly 'game.' I think the realization starts around Hegel, and its enemy or the superstition it opposes is the ghost story criticized by Ryle (and the later Wittgenstein.)
  • Tate
    865
    To me, he destroys the theory that meaning is private (to name just one result.) I just happen to be interested in clarifying what it means to mean something, how we do and how we ought to settle beliefs, etc. The 'big' insight for me was something like the intrinsic publicity of meaning, what it means to be 'in' a language with others, the way that very notion of the 'I' is a token caught up in a public, worldly 'game.' I think the realization starts around Hegel, and its enemy or the superstition it opposes is the ghost story criticized by Ryle (and the later Wittgenstein.)Pie

    The subject and the ego (the "I") aren't the same. I take his use of "subject" to be Schopenhauerian. It's not a doctrine that it's the limit of the world. It obviously is. The point of that statement in the Tractacus was to point out why there is no theory of the subject.

    Privacy isn't really an issue there either.
  • Pie
    553

    Correct me if I'm wrong. I was very passionate about the TLP once, but I haven't studied it recently.
    Anything I can see, is not the I that sees it. Nor is anything the I can think the 'I' itself. The 'I' is like the field of vision, not an object in the field. Even the concept of the 'I' is never it. The 'I' is Sartre's nothingness, basically, a similar thought. We have almost a negative theology here.
    How, then, did we ever come up with the concept/word 'I' ? What are its primary uses ?

    Sartre devotes a great deal of effort to establishing the impersonal (or “pre-personal”) character of consciousness, which stems from its non-egological structure and results directly from the absence of the I in the transcendental field. According to him, intentional (positional) consciousness typically involves an anonymous and “impersonal” relation to a transcendent object:

    When I run after a streetcar, when I look at the time, when I am absorbed in contemplating a portrait, there is no I. […] In fact I am plunged in the world of objects; it is they which constitute the unity of my consciousness; […] but me, I have disappeared; I have annihilated myself. There is no place for me on this level. (Sartre 1936a [1957: 49; 2004: 8])

    The tram appears to me in a specific way (as “having-to-be-overtaken”, in this case) that is experienced as its own mode of phenomenalization, and not as a mere relational aspect of its appearing to me. The object presents itself as carrying a set of objective properties that are strictly independent from one’s personal relation to it. The streetcar is experienced as a transcendent object, in a way that obliterates and overrides, so to speak, the subjective features of conscious experience; its “having-to-be-overtaken-ness” does not belong to my subjective experience of the world but to the objective description of the way the world is (see also Sartre 1936a [1957: 56; 2004: 10–11]). When I run after the streetcar, my consciousness is absorbed in the relation to its intentional object, “the streetcar-having-to-be-overtaken”, and there is no trace of the “I” in such lived-experience.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sartre/#TranEgoDiscInte
  • Tate
    865
    Yep. Well put.
  • Pie
    553

    Thanks.

    It seems to me that 'I think' is an implicitly or explicitly added tag to whatever 'I' say. I could be weird and say that @Pie claims P. As I see it, it only makes sense to invent and track a self if there's a community who's keeping score. Of course we have individual bodies, but was it logically necessary to assign a single 'soul' or 'ghost' or 'tag' to each body ? This is another problem with Descartes. Why is it 'I' think rather than 'we' think or 'it' thinks ?
  • Tate
    865
    This is another problem with Descartes. Why is it 'I' think rather than 'we' think or 'it' thinks ?Pie

    Sounds like you've got some identity issues.
  • Pie
    553
    Sounds like you've got some identity issues.Tate

    Oh it's a good topic for humor, but your man Wittgenstein gave me the idea.

    Or imagine that it were usual for human beings to have two characters, in this way: People's shape, size and characteristics of behaviour periodically undergo a complete change. It is the usual thing for a man to have two such states, and he lapses suddenly from one into the other. It is very likely that in such a society we should be inclined to christen every man with two names, and perhaps to talk of the pair of persons in his body. Now were Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde two persons or were they the same person who merely changed? We can say whichever we like. We are not forced to talk of a double personality.

    I speculate that it's just far more efficient to assign one 'player' to each body, more with the grain of our biology perhaps. It would be challenging as well to praise or rebuke (or marry or imprison) the correct 'player' if more than one locus of responsibility, one player, was associated with the same body.

    In another passion (can't remember where), Wittgenstein discusses the idea of personalities as mere patterns of behavior, (understood to be) trading bodies. Descartes sought to be presuppositionless, but these examples show how difficult that is, how 'thrown' we are into inherited interpretive habits that we've never been able to question...not until a madman or a philosopher shows up and teaches us how. Perhaps it's like genetic mutation, almost always a bad thing, but sometimes lucky.
  • Tate
    865
    And through all that, the subject remains the subject: the limit of your world.
  • Pie
    553
    And through all that, the subject remains the subject: the limit of your world.Tate

    From my POV, it's on you to distinguish this 'limit' from a mere nothingness, a mere 'I think' tag that's added to every fact. As the self shrinks to a point without extension, to the mere field of vision itself, to some synonym for being itself, inexplicably flickering on a causal nexus it plays no role in?
  • Tate
    865
    From my POV, it's on you to distinguish this 'limit' from a mere nothingness, a mere 'I think' tag that's added to every fact.Pie

    Do you have a point of view? Or is it just the bewitchment of language that makes it seem so?

    English is unusual in that it requires specifying pronouns. It's common for first, second, and third person identification to be embedded in verb usage, like "cogito."

    The "I" is part of the very structure of human language. Just note what's going on when you try to say the "I" isn't necessary. You can't actually say that, as Witt would point out.

    I agree with him that speaking of the subject, which I think is subtly different from the ego( maybe more primitive), is beyond the capacity of language. That doesn't make it nothing.
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