• Joshs
    3.9k


    ↪Joshs Agent Smith's definition of language skepticism makes it sound like it's a stronger beef with language.

    "....language is (too) flawed to perform the tasks we assign to it and that includes everything spoken, written, signed." Though he's a landmark thinker, I think this is an overstatement. These days more than ever language is being misused, but I don't think in the sense he meant.
    GLEN willows

    Many scholars argue that for Wittgenstein the very structure of language makes radical doubt impossible.

    “Thus we arrive to the end of Wittgenstein's critique of
    skepticism. The core of his argumentation lies in asking the following: What kind of doubts does the skeptic raise? To which extent is it valid to insert those doubts in the language game in which we live? His answer to these interrogants emphasizes that some aspects of our thoughts cannot be doubted, since they are what allow us to construct our thoughts themselves, included the very formulation of any doubt. Thus the analysis of the skeptical doubt, its premises and consequences, allows him to prove that any doubt presuposses the existence of a field of certainty and hence, that skepticism cannot be the last word.”
    (WITTGENSTEIN AND THE LIMITS OF SKEPTICISM
    Stella Villarmea)
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k


    Well true, communication, despite my, what is to me an interesting, argument (not in any way to be construed as tooting my own horn), seems to work. However, in the simplified scenario of a world with just two words, my argument seems to be sound, oui? As the number of words (our lexicon) expands, the difficulty in re ensuring we're on the same page seems to compound as the possibility space of meaning (of words) explodes.

    I'll get back to you if I hit upon anything worth discussing, ok?
  • GLEN willows
    323
    absolutely and thanks for taking the time to discuss! Yes your argument was very interesting and I appreciate you’re taking the time to lay out the language philosophy issues - it definitely makes me want to explore the area more, even though I still have issues with it.

    Thanks.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k


    Most interesting. — Ms. Marple

    To say "Language is no good" is gibberish as language has, by that statement, been blackballed by the skeptic (sawing off branches one sits on, suicide) and so is unavailable to him.

    On the flip-side, I really can't say "Language is good" because that would be a circulus in probando.

    So the choices are:

    1. Self-refutation (unacceptable)

    OR

    2. Circularity (unacceptable)

    It's a dilemma! :snicker:

    :zip:
  • GLEN willows
    323
    Is it really one or the other? How about:

    3. Language needs improving?
  • Xtrix
    4.1k
    Sure. Love to hear more.GLEN willows

    Sorry I haven’t had much time lately. I made a post of what I’m driving at here a year or so ago: basis for modern science. Maybe you’ll find it interesting.

    A clue is given from the word itself: "natural." And so "nature." This word comes from the Latin natura and was a translation of the Greek phusis.

    It turns out that φῠ́σῐς (phusis) is the basis for "physical." So the idea of the physical world and the natural world are ultimately based on Greek and Latin concepts, respectively.

    So the question "What is 'nature'?" ends up leading to a more fundamental question: "What is the 'physical'?" and that ultimately resides in the etymology of φῠ́σῐς and, finally, in the origins of Western thought: Greek thought.

    The analysis of this concept is very important indeed to understand our current scientific conception of the world, and therefore the predominant world ontology (at least non-religious, or perhaps simply the de facto ontology ).
  • GLEN willows
    323
    perfect. I’ll read through that whole thread. Thanks. My first question is regarding your comment

    “There was an implicit conviction of a relationship between the cosmic, natural and human order”

    Do you mean a physical connection, as in we’re all made of atoms, come from stars, etc or do you mean a psychological connection of some sort, ex. Panpsychism?. And are you saying this is what modern science is missing?
  • Xtrix
    4.1k
    “There was an implicit conviction of a relationship between the cosmic, natural and human order”

    Do you mean a physical connection, as in we’re all made of atoms, come from stars, etc or do you mean a psychological connection of some sort, ex. Panpsychism?. And are you saying this is what modern science is missing?
    GLEN willows

    I don’t recall making that statement. Could you link me to where you found it? I’ll be able to explain better if I remember the context. Thanks!
  • GLEN willows
    323
    yes I think I got that quote from somewhere else. My apologies

    I know etymology is important to how we’ve developed our concept of nature and “physical.” Do you feel this shows that we’ve strayed from a more accurate portrayal of those terms? If not, I’m not sure what you’re point is, other than tracing the history of the words.
  • Xtrix
    4.1k
    Do you feel this shows that we’ve strayed from a more accurate portrayal of those terms? If not, I’m not sure what you’re point is, other than tracing the history of the words.GLEN willows

    The words help us see what's actually happening, and so it's important to understand them.

    The point is this:

    1) "Real" is a loaded term that usually is defined as anything that science says is real.
    2) What is "science"? Science is natural philosophy. Its ontological underpinning is naturalism.
    3) What is "nature"? The word comes from the Latin natura, which is a translation of the Greek phusis, which is also where we get "physics." What does phusis mean? For the earlier Greeks, it meant something like a blooming or emerging, and for the later Greeks (e.g., Aristotle), it starts to take on a meaning closer to ousia -- which gets translated often as substance.
    4) "Nature" has its ontological roots in substance theory. Today we describe the material world of objects and use empirical means -- observation, experimentation, etc. -- to explain them. This is usually how science is characterized. Nature is matter, energy, and forces.

    So in terms of what's real -- yes, I think it's an honorific term. All kinds of things are real. If we define what's real as what's scientific, or natural, then that itself has a long tradition associated with it. Why should substances be any more "real" than anything else?

    I think we should learn a little something from the earlier Greeks: reality is this. It's what's happening in our awareness and, importantly, outside our awareness. It's what's present before us, but also what's absent.

    Lots more to say about this but I'll leave it there.
  • Janus
    12.8k
    That's a good passage, very much in accord with how I view it. I bought Rouse's book, but haven't found time, or space in my reading agenda, to begin it yet. I'm looking forward to it. :smile:
  • GLEN willows
    323
    1) "Real" is a loaded term that usually is defined as anything that science says is real.Xtrix

    Thanks for your response, sorry for the delay in mine.

    I'd like to clarify a couple of your points by asking some questions.

    First I think it's fair to point out that science is not a `thing,' it's the result of the work and study of individual human beings. And it evolves as you point out - it was part of philosophy at one point. So when you say science tries to corner the market on the definition of real do you mean it existed in Aristotle's science, Galileo's science, modern science?

    Secondly, If not as far back as Aristotle, then when in history did the scientific takeover of the definition of real take place?

    Thirdly, are you saying that, again, science tries to corner the market on the definition "real" for us back as far as the greeks, or is this a more recent development?

    I'm not being facetious or snarky, I ask this in the interests of "defining terms" or in this case tracing a historical background.

    Glen
    Xtrix
  • Xtrix
    4.1k
    First I think it's fair to point out that science is not a `thing,' it's the result of the work and study of individual human beings.Xtrix

    Why is science not a "thing"? Of course it's a thing. It's a human activity, yes. It's as much a thing as philosophy or art is a thing. It's just the name given for a certain kind of human activity.

    So when you say science tries to corner the market on the definition of real do you mean it existed in Aristotle's science, Galileo's science, modern science?Xtrix

    It's not that science tries to corner the market, it's that science's ontology is essentially naturalism, a substance ontology. Perhaps many people claim science is the sole road to truth and "reality" -- that's undoubtedly true -- but science itself, as a human activity attempting to explain the world, assumes an idea about the world that attempts to explain it in terms of natural processes -- i.e., in terms of "nature." If it doesn't, it's not science. At least in my view.

    In that respect, yes it existed from Aristotle onward -- all the ways its changed notwithstanding.

    Thirdly, are you saying that, again, science tries to corner the market on the definition "real" for us back as far as the greeks, or is this a more recent development?Xtrix

    I'm saying science takes for granted that the world (and what's "real") is what's natural. Almost by definition. It assumes this. Anything "beyond" nature is considered supernatural and beyond science's understanding, and is usually (and rightly) met with skepticism.

    Philosophy (and sometimes religion) isn't so restricted, however. In terms of ontology, which itself underlies science (natural philosophy), we can ask about beings in general -- and what "natural" beings are, what nature means, etc., and even inquire as to what being itself means. At the heart of this question is the nature of one being in particular, of course…the human being.
  • GLEN willows
    323
    — XtrixGLEN willows
    Why is science not a "thing"? Of course it's a thing. It's a human activity, yes. It's as much a thing as philosophy or art is a thing. It's just the name given for a certain kind of human activity.

    — XtrixGLEN willows

    Science is not a unified thing, in the sense that you were using it. Saying "science says..." this or that is as simplistic as saying "philosophy says there is no truth." Whose philosophy, and when?

    We do agree that science doesn't deal with the supernatural and metaphysics, and indeed we agree "rightly so" as you said. Science deals with objects that provably have substance, so as of this date science can NOT explain consciousness.

    I may have assigned a more negative tone to your texts, because I do sense a negative aspect to a lot of comments on TPF regarding science, which I find puzzling. And it's usually surrounding the issue of what is "real." Science looks at objects with substance as real, different philosophers have different theories...keeping in mind they are just theories.

    To me the arguments that nothing can be called "real" unless directly observed (ex. Van Fraassen] are silly and create an unnecessarily competitive context (you are either anti-realist or realist}. Empiricism ad absurdum. It rules out even microspores or telescopes. This is still taught at the university level BTW.

    But I understand the argument, and the different uses of the word 'real" - just not sure if there's a major problem with that. Many words have different meanings to different people *morality, justice, etc.

    So can you clarify a} are you making a critique of science and the scientific method, or just a benign comment that it has a particular ontology and b} can you name a different definition of real other than what science uses? Are you referring to pan-psychism...supernatural claims? I honestly could use some info on that.
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