• Banno
    23.6k
    I think Ayers would say that whether there are two senses or not should be decided empirically.frank

    I have to differ. He is saying that the difference is purely linguistic - his so-called "two languages" theory.

    I had thought that was what you meant by
    he's saying that the sense data theorists isn't offering us any needed revisions to everyday speech, but rather offering jargon that's helpful for special purposes.frank
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.1k


    I share your preference for embodied cognition, but unfortunately I will have to echo the young men here, since I do not have a clear way to unpack what you have said in the remainder of your post.

    Basically, what I was pointing to is how cognitive science, neuroscience, etc. look at "explaining experience" on a basic level. Consider the experience of seeing a tree. We start with a person in front of a tree

    Well, our current sciences that try to explain experience say "how the light bounces off the tree, how it ends up entering the eye, that's not our business. That's physics. We don't need to care about that. Our explanation starts with action potentials firing down the optic nerve."

    The problem is that there, off the bat, we've already removed the possibility of an explanation of sensation that is going to include the object of experience in any direct way.

    My point would be that people don't see trees in a vacuum. A human body in a vacuum becomes a corpse, and corpses don't appear to do any experiencing.

    It seems to me that an accurate view of experience can't start and end at the boundaries of an individual body. If it does, then of course you're going to end up with concerns about "how experiences can be about objects." You end up having to talk about "representations of trees," because you've already chopped the tree out of your explanation at the outset.

    But physics would seem to suggest no such hard line between discrete systems. The causal chain of light waves, tree, retina, and brain all flow seemlessly into each other, and that's the process that generates the experience of "seeing a tree." It's a system that includes tree and person, a relationship between person and tree (not person and "representation.")

    This isn't a flaw in the science, but more how it gets used in metaphysical discussions.



    It does seem to make it hard to explain how something could ever wake one up, that's for sure.
  • frank
    14.7k
    I haver to differ. He is saying that the difference is purely linguistic - his so-called "two languages" theory.Banno

    He meant that the two senses of "see" are already in the rules of language, and that this is supposed to support talk of sense-data. "Sense data" is the new jargon.
  • Banno
    23.6k
    Thanks. I won't disagree with what you have said. For the last few days Markov Blankets have been at the back of my mind. One might place a sequence of explanations between the tree and the experience, and set out the events in every one, and still have someone say "That's all very well, but you still have not explained the experience"...

    But I invite you to take a look at the titular book for this thread.
  • Banno
    23.6k
    7sfrank

    ??
  • frank
    14.7k
    Typing on a phone with big fat thumbs
  • Banno
    23.6k
    OK. Did you notice this...?
    So a translation (interpretation) would have the form :
    (This collection of sense-data statements) is true IFF (this statement about a material object)
    A rough example, the ubiquitous cup...
    (I see a red quadrilateral and a red ovoid and another ovoid) is true IFF this is a red cup.
    Now I hope it is plain both that this is the consequence of Ayer's position, and that it is absurd. A cup is not equivalent to a collection of sense data. And it's not just that it is entirely possible to have the sense data and not the cup, or the cup and not the sense data, but that the supposed equivalence is between entirely different things. The analogy is not like the mistake in saying chalk is a type of wood, but like saying chalk is a type of democracy. Material objects are not sense data.
    Banno
    That seems to be what Ayer has in mind, and it doesn't work.
  • Banno
    23.6k
    After all, saying it is "meaningless" to even talk of certain things is, in an important way, to make a metaphysical claim about them.
    @Count Timothy von Icarus

    Quite so. That's the essence of what the "analytic" philosophers believed, and explains why they spent their time talking about language.
    Ludwig V

    Not sure how to understand this, but it's probably worth pointing out that not all analytic philosophers think metaphysical claims are meaningless. While it was roughly true of logical positivists, and is often (somewhat erroneously) taken to be true of the early Wittgenstein, it's not true of Russell and Moore, nor of the Oxford Realists or Popper's intellectual children, and Quine naturalised metaphysics but would not call it that.

    Analytic philosophy is a broad church...

    A large part of the focus on language should be seen as working out the varieties of metaphysical statements so as to choose between them.
  • frank
    14.7k
    That seems to be what Ayer has in mind, and it doesn't work.Banno

    Yea, I see what you're saying.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.7k
    Why would I want to remove the potential of the underlying matter or substance?Ludwig V

    That seemed to be the objection you were raising, that Berkeley's and Locke's arguments removed the need for potential, as matter.

    My suggested explanation doesn't even eliminate the counterfactual phenomenon; it simply provides a fully explanation of the causes that produce it.Ludwig V

    I explained, the explanation you provided was far from a full explanation. When you come to grips with that we might be able to continue the discussion.

    Somehow people do regularly distinguish real from unreal, for all practical purposes anyway. It's not merely a logical thing, it's more at the level of innate capability.frank

    But the example was when a person was under the influence of LSD. It is in this situation that the real parts of the experience are not so easily distinguishable from the unreal. We could say the same about someone suffering mental illness like schizophrenia.

    We know, for instance, that if a person is blind from birth, but then gains sight, they won't be able to distinguish a picture of an apple from a real apple. That's not a logical issue. It's something about perception.frank

    I don't see how you draw the conclusion that if it's something about perception, it's not a logical problem.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.7k
    Ayer's problem (which is common to most modern philosophers) is that he approaches the distinction between the real good and the apparent good from the preconceived idea that "the real good" must have some sort of independent objective existence, supported by some divine unity like God, and that "the apparent good" is the good which the individual person apprehends.

    However, this distinction between the real and apparent good, needs to be understood through the Platonic principles from which it was derived. Proper understanding reveals that "the real good" is the good apprehended by the individual, as one's goal or objective. Because the individual's apprehended goal or objective is "the good" which actually motivates the individual to act, it must be known as "the real good". This leaves any proposed independent good, supposedly supported by a divine unity, or God, as the "apparent good". Inverting this, and trying to understand "the real good" as some sort of independent, objective good, supported by God, leaves "the real good" as completely incoherent, as demonstrated in Plato\s Euthyphro, and this incoherency is what confronts Ayer.
  • Banno
    23.6k
    IX continued...
    Ayer had proposed two different senses of perception words, one in which we infer the thing "seen" exists, and the other in which no such presumption is made. Austin shows the weakness of this account by again exposing it to a barrage of counter examples. Then oddly,
    I have argued that there is no reason at all to suppose that there are such different senses. Now it might be expected that this would be a serious matter forAyer's argument; but curiously enough, I don't think it is. For though his argument is certainly presented asifit turned on this doctrine about different 'senses' of verbs ofperception, it doesn't really turn on this doctrine at all. — Austin p.102
    The actual argument is that philosophers have invented a way of using "see" and similar words such that what is seen must really exist. They then "discover" that material things are inadequate to the task of being the things that really exist; so they invent a new thing, and put this in the role

    You can hear the glee in Austin's voice as he points out that this argument doesn't use either the argument from illusion or the two languages argument.

    So what is it all about? It's about certainty. All this frippery hides Ayer's actual interest, which is to find (or invent) firm grounds for our statements about the way things are.

    And so to Lecture X.
  • Banno
    23.6k
    Incorrigible. An interesting choice which aroused my curiosity. Not certain, as I have used. So in the OED, there are three senses for the adjective:
    1. 1340– Bad or depraved beyond correction or reform: of persons, their habits, etc.

    2.1541–1804 Of something faulty or defective: That cannot be improved or set right. Of disease: Incurable.

    and the third, the one used by Austin...
    3. 1611– Not liable or open to correction; so good that it cannot be improved. Also, not verifiable; that cannot be proved false.

    And the source for this third? Well, the earliest listed, from 1611, is "The Reader being well instructed..may, without any further labour, make a good and incorrigible peece of worke" - R. Peake

    And the second, from 1956? Why, "Experiential statements are not incorrigible in the sense that once they have been discovered to be true they cannot subsequently be denied", from our very own A. J. Ayer, Problem of Knowledge, p 55.

    It's not Austin's word, it's Ayer's.

    Another of Austin's jokes? I like to think so. He loved his OED.
  • Antony Nickles
    1.1k
    The Cambridge Dictionary definition is "existing as an idea, feeling, or quality, not as a material object". This, to me, fits with, for example, Austin's insistence that not everything is a material object. Numbers would be an prime example. The Cambridge Dictionary gives, truth, beauty, happiness, faith and confidence as examples of abstractions. I have always understood properties like colour and shape to be abstractionsLudwig V

    Well, we could play a little at ordinary language philosophy and see if there are any actual distinctions but don’t we see here at least a related problem because of the use of “material object” as a contrast, when that term is the unattainable maguffin that has left us with “appearance” and “indirect perception”?

    I would take an “idea” as an abstraction solely because it is, or can be, removed as my expression “Hey, that was my idea!” This is tied perhaps to a sense of problem-solving.

    I’m not sure a feeling counts. This sounds suspiciously like it is in contrast to reason, as “emotive” to the positivists; somehow turned into a value.

    Again, quality makes me nervous of its philosophical sense (as “real” was to be a quality), but quality is of course a measure of attainment, and so the goal (refined metal) or standard (of a specimen of horse) is abstracted in order to be standardized, though metal has science, and husbandry has breeding.

    Numbers are the ultimate example. If math and science weren’t so successful, philosophy would never have gotten dragged off course so much trying to be like it. So, of course, the most important thing missing from math is us.

    Truth and beauty are measured by standards; I’m pretty sure we don’t measure happiness (except in being petty). I want to say faith is more like resolve than opinion so I don’t think that counts, along with confidence, which is more like knowing a skill, though I imagine it could affect one’s general demeanor (or head size).

    I know too much to want to get into color and shape here (I take it back, can we call them qualities and be done with it?)
  • Ludwig V
    1.1k
    I know too much to want to get into color and shape here (I take it back, can we call them qualities and be done with it?)Antony Nickles

    I also know too much to want to argue with you. I had in mind only the cautious idea that "abstract" might have its uses. As so often, we ought always to consider the meaning of "abstract" in a particular context and in the light of what counts as "concrete" in that context.

    As Austin might say:- "This discussion of appearance and reality is too abstract. We need to consider some concrete examples".

    The use of "quality" as a classification of "colour", "shape", etc. is arguably a philosophical invention (Aristotle?), which survives only by it's contrast with whatever "part" of an "object" is not a quality. "Relation" is a similar term. "Object" here could mean "substance" or "essence" or, in more recent times, as whatever is named when a name is bestowed or referred to when a referring expression is used. (The point is, of course that "quality" in this use, as in all the other uses you identify, is part of a language-game, only not a natural or ordinary language game - context again.)
  • Ludwig V
    1.1k
    it's not true of Russell and Moore, nor of the Oxford Realists or Popper's intellectual children, and Quine naturalised metaphysics but would not call it that.Banno

    Yes. I'm afraid I over-generalized.

    So what is it all about? It's about certainty. All this frippery hides Ayer's actual interest, which is to find (or invent) firm grounds for our statements about the way things are.Banno

    I found it very hard to get to grips with IX, but I think I've finally got my head more or less round it. I was not entirely happy with the discussion of " see as", especially in the context of "The speck is a star" (and is the star a speck - I suppose so.) Austin cites Wittgenstein here, but W is not as comprehensive here (at least in the PI as he so often is. This links to the point that Austin also makes, that the "same" object can be described in more than one way (as in the example of kicking the door and kicking some painted wood.) I was also reminded of Kripke's discussion of Hesperus, Phosphorus and Venus.

    There's a lot more to be said here and I'm not sure that Austin totally excludes the possibility that the idea of sense-data, or something quite like them may not have a place.

    Calling seeing the duck-rabbit as a duck (or a rabbit) an interpretation is not quite right, but captures the point that the same object can be seen in two ways. We know it is the same object because we have the third description as a mediator - actually, there are two mediating descriptions. One is the duck-rabbit. The other is the description of the marks on the paper. But these, I think, are yet more interpretations. In fact, it isn't clear that there is any description that is truly neutral. In the "ordinary" practice of interpretation, there is something that counts as the original, which is what is to be interpreted.

    In most ordinary life, we can sort out how to proceed. But when our access is so limited as it is in astronomy, I'm not sure that things are so easy. It's very tempting to interpret the specks we see, from which we deduce the reality that lies behind the appearances, as data. I suppose we can classify these cases as exceptional, but still, we've given Ayer his first move. However, there is, so to speak, a real speck that we see, so this is not the incorrigible data that Ayer was looking for.

    Still - on to X and incorrigibility. It was interesting to see a solid argument that the philosophical use of the term is technical, or specialized.
  • Fooloso4
    5.7k
    Analytic philosophy is a broad church...Banno

    Camouflaged to look like a barn (?).
  • Ludwig V
    1.1k
    Proper understanding reveals that "the real good" is the good apprehended by the individual, as one's goal or objective.Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't know what makes this understanding "proper". It is defensible as a view. But people often do things that they think are in their interests, but actually bring them harm. Moreover, it clearly wasn't Plato's view. (Only philosophers can understand what the real good is)

    The passage you quoted from me
    My suggested explanation doesn't even eliminate the counterfactual phenomenon; it simply provides a fully explanation of the causes that produce it.Ludwig V
    has a typo. It should have read "My suggested explanation doesn't even eliminate the counterfactual phenomenon; it simply provides a FULLER explanation of the causes that produce it". So I'm not arguing that the kind of explanation I'm citing explains potential away.

    Hume seems to be in the position that inductive reason (because it is based on habit and custom") can only offer us probable knowledge of the world, hence it cannot be a good ground for believing in the world.Corvus

    I didn't realize that your question to me was in the context of Hume. You did drop a hint, but I didn't pick it up. My fault. That does change things. However, your sketch above is an abbreviation of his argument, which does not reflect what he thought he was doing.

    Hume was happy to employ sceptical arguments against the idea of "hidden causes" or "hidden powers", as he refers to them. But he was scathing about what he calls "pyrrhonist" (radical sceptical) arguments. Not that he thought that they could be refuted; he just thought they should be ignored. His argument about association of ideas, habit and custom was intended to provide, not a refutation, but a basis for ignoring such arguments. He relies on past experience, for example, as a "full and complete proof" when he argues that a naturalistic explanation of a supposed miracle will always be more plausible than the supernatural one. As Austin says in Sense and Sensibilia "There's the bit where you say it, and the bit where you take it back".

    So I agree that there's no deductive argument for positing that things you don't perceive continue to exist (A). But there is a considerable weight of (reasonable) evidence against it. In my opinion, it is at least enough to put the burden of proof on the your idea that things cease to exist when not perceived - the contradictory of A. Curiously enough, there's no deductive argument for that, either. Stalemate. In another discussion, we could ask each other what's next, but perhaps that will do for now.
  • frank
    14.7k
    But the example was when a person was under the influence of LSD. It is in this situation that the real parts of the experience are not so easily distinguishable from the unreal.Metaphysician Undercover

    I guess if you take so much you have a psychotic break. I don't know. Datura apparently does take away the ability to distinguish real from unreal. It's said to be extremely traumatic.
  • Antony Nickles
    1.1k

    We could just refer to color and shape as a thing’s color and shape (thus the reticence to “abstract” from them to anything else as unnecessary); our interest in them (what we judge them for) is how we identify, count, compare, etc., and so we could investigate the mechanics and criteria of those practices in various contexts. However, no thanks.
  • Antony Nickles
    1.1k
    So here's a question for anyone who cares to delve deeper. That [we can’t see material objects and so only see sense data] seems to me to be the argument in Foundations, found on pp 24-25. If not that argument, then which?Banno

    Well, you are right that he does try to make it a “linguistic issue” “because [ordinary language] is not so good an instrument as the sense-datum language for our special purposes” Foundations p. 25 (emphasis added) And so the “purpose” forces the argument, thus “it is useful [in looking at how our experiences relate to what we say about things to] refer to the contents of our experiences independently of the material things that they are taken to present.” P.26 So the “purpose” here is to remove our statements to be “independent” from judgment to particular cases. Having removed ourselves from the “empirical propositional” and only relying on different methods of “descriptions”, “we cannot properly claim that it is either true or false.” I think this is why Austin characterizes it as being able to say anything you want, but what I take Ayer to be doing is abstracting the discussion from a factual one so we are always correct, despite it only being about our description, with the actual goal that we are never wrong about what we see (sense-data).
  • Banno
    23.6k
    I was not entirely happy with the discussion of "see as"...Ludwig V
    It's just that there can be more than one true statement for any given fact. Did you kick the door or the painted wood?

    This needs to be pointed out because Logical Positivism speaks as if there were only one. That's probably a consequence of it being an adaptation of the Tractatus; it's assuming a form of logical atomism as its foundation.

    So logical positivism starts at perception and supposedly builds material objects from there, then natural laws from material objects.

    Now "I kicked the wooden door" might well be logically equivalent to "I kicked the painted piece of wood". But it is harder to say "I see a rabbit" is equivalent to "I see a duck".

    Austin shows how logical positivism grossly oversimplifies the things we do with words, and so also the way we understand what is going on around us.
  • Banno
    23.6k
    We could just refer to color and shape as a thing’s color and shapeAntony Nickles
    ...the core Austinian argument against qualia...
  • Banno
    23.6k
    Camouflaged to look like a barn (?).Fooloso4
    :smile:

    The "broad church" metaphor was used by formed Prime Minister John Howard to describe his Liberal Party - an amalgam of progressive liberals, libertarians and conservatives, unwieldy and incompetent. It's as if the 'mercan Democrats and Republicans were one party, ranged against a socialist Labor Party and the Greens...

    "Analytic Philosophy" is similarly an uncomfortable adjunction of very different ideas.
  • Banno
    23.6k
    I'm afraid I haven't been able to follow what you are saying here.

    ..this is why Austin characterizes it as being able to say anything you want...Antony Nickles
    I took this as a sideways swipe at Carnap, another logical positivist. Carnap does think that we can say anything we want - his "protocol statements" need only be consistent with each other, not needing any formal "correspondence" to the world. Ayer and Carnap clashed on this issue.

    So Carnap might well have taken
    4.211 It is a sign of a proposition’s being elementary that there can be no elementary proposition contradicting it. — Wittgenstein Tractatus, 89
    to heart, thinking that all that was needed was for elementary propositions to be consistent; while Ayer took his elementary propositions to be something like "I see a red square".
  • Ludwig V
    1.1k
    However, no thanks.Antony Nickles

    Is the offer you are declining the project
    we could investigate the mechanics and criteria of those practices in various contexts.Antony Nickles
    . I confess I don't feel tremendously enthused at the prospect in the abstract.

    Having removed ourselves from the “empirical propositional” and only relying on different methods of “descriptions”, “we cannot properly claim that it is either true or false.”Antony Nickles
    what I take Ayer to be doing is abstracting the discussion from a factual one so we are always correct, despite it only being about our description, with the actual goal that we are never wrong about what we see (sense-data).Antony Nickles

    Do you mean that Ayer represents the question as which "language" to use so that he can choose between the options on the grounds that sense-datum language cannot be wrong and for that reason is more "clear and convenient" for the special purposes of philosophy? That makes sense. But I think the two languages are not equivalent precisely because one is true or false and the other is incorrigible.

    Now "I kicked the wooden door" might well be logically equivalent to "I kicked the painted piece of wood".Banno
    In some sense of "logically equivalent" that's probably true. But the different descriptions might make a serious difference. "I shot the target" and "I shot the heir to the crown" are not by any means criminally equivalent. But it would be odd, wouldn't it, to say that "the wooden door" and "the painted piece of wood" are interpretations of anything.
    But it is harder to say "I see a rabbit" is equivalent to "I see a duck".Banno
    The point here is that the two descriptions are logically not equivalent and yet both duck and rabbit are valid interpretations, so both "I see a rabbit" and "I see a duck" can be said when what I see is a single picture. Rorschach images are a different kind of case with some of the same features.

    So in the end, I think that Austin hasn't thought these examples through. I can see the general relevance to perception, but the exact points are not clear.

    Austin shows how logical positivism grossly oversimplifies the things we do with words,Banno

    Yes, he certainly does that. The pity of it is that no-one seems to follow his example. Philosophy still loves its classifications and its doctrines.
  • Ludwig V
    1.1k
    Comparative NgramsBanno

    These are quite fun and I'm guessing they show something about their work through the decades. But I don't know (and don't understand the Wikipedia article) about Ngrams. Is there a layperson's explanation anywhere? One axis is years, so that's clear. The other is a percentage, but percentage of what?
  • Banno
    23.6k
    It's just how often the term appears in Google Books, as a percentage of total words. Indicative, rather than serious.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Ngram_Viewer

    http://storage.googleapis.com/books/ngrams/books/datasetsv2.html
  • Banno
    23.6k
    But the different descriptions might make a serious difference.Ludwig V

    Of course.

    Yet Ayer has to maintain some sort of equivalence in truth value between sense data language and material object language if he is going to maintain that the difference between them is no more than linguistic. If the truth value changed with a change in wording, then how could the two be saying the very same thing?

    But it would be odd, wouldn't it, to say that "the wooden door" and "the painted piece of wood" are interpretations of anything.Ludwig V
    "You kicked the door" IFF "You kicked the painted piece of wood"

    If the door is the very same as the painted piece of wood, this has to be so.

    So in the end, I think that Austin hasn't thought these examples through.Ludwig V
    I think the point you are making is much the same as the one Austin is making. Austin treats such stuff in more detail in A Plea For Excuses, a prime candidate for a follow on thread. HE talks about shooting donkeys rather than targets or the heir to the crown.
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