• Astrophel
    448
    No, I wouldn't say so. This would seem to flatten out what makes the "scientific method" distinct, why it only emerged in the modern era, etc. It renders all perception, seemingly even animal perception, "scientific," and collapses the meaningful distinction between pseudosciences, such as astrology, and the sciences.That is, it generalizes the term "scientific" to the point where it no longer has anything like its original meaning, which I don't think is helpful.Count Timothy von Icarus

    No, no. Pseudo sciences are what they are because there is no repeatable results, the essence of the scientific method. And the scientific method certainly did not emerge only in the modern era. The wheel, the pulley, the lever, and on and on, is science. Animal perception? The cow sees grass is greener on the other side and relocates. Was this science? It was proto-science. Our conditional sentential structure "If P, then Q" is a formalization of this. We don't use this "principle" when we conduct our affairs, generally, either.
    Nothing at all about the scientific method is undone by observing that such a "principle" is grounded in everydayness, any more that logic is offended by it, too, being ubiquitous in ordinary affairs. Sometimes we are illogical, sometimes logical. Logic remains what it is, even if I leave the house on a rainy day without an umbrella.

    I think it might be more useful to say that there are general principles that are essential to making the scientific method work that are also relevant to statistics, probability theory, perception, Hebbian "fire-together-wire-together" neuronal activity, and how physical information works at a basic level.Count Timothy von Icarus

    But this is about ontology: the Being that is presupposed by talk about neuronal activity. See Karl Popper on this. It is called the hypothetical deductive method, or, this is how I learned it, and this is offered as a replacement to induction. The idea is that when an object is encountered, we are always already equipped with a body of theories that already define the object. Knowledge is predelineated. See Thomas Kuhn Structures of Scientific Revolutions: Normal science is paradigmatic meaning assumptions already in place that make "shifts" even possible. The mind works like this, and one does not encounter an object ex nihilo, but rather the object is "deductively" determined from an existing data base, if you like that term.

    No one denies the terms you talk about have validity. But "how physical information works at a basic level," in philosophy, has to be THE basic level. Otherwise you are just doing science.

    It doesn't seem helpful to make every human action "scientific," in the same way it doesn't seem helpful to make it all "pragmatic." What exactly is the universal goal that is being pursued such that all things are pragmatic? Moreover, importantly, there seems to be a useful distinction between what is commonly called pragmatic and what isn't — a notable difference between pragmatist epistemology and Aristotleanism, etc. If the point is simply that people have purposes, why not just say that?Count Timothy von Icarus

    We don't just "say that" because it is not about the vague sense of people having purposes. It is a rigorous description of what a knowledge relationship is between epistemic agents and their objects. Walk into a classroom and there are chairs, desks, a white board, markers, and so on. The question is, what ARE these to you AS YOU KNOW what they are. They are use-values to you. A chair you can sit in, a desk you can write on, and so on. Of course, these all just sit there as well, as things merely present, but it just sitting there is not what knowledge is about. Knowledge is about what happens when you turn your attention to them and activate their meaning. Encounter a bank teller and think of all that comes to mind in terms of what a bank teller qua bank teller is, and you will have a list of all a bank teller Does.

    But this really is not the point. The reason pragmatics is foundational is TIME. It starts with Augustine (earlier, I know) and then Kant comes along. To understand pragmatism, you would have to read Kant's deduction. Not that pragmatists are Kantians, but that is a very long story. When one encounters something, an object, a feeling, an idea, what is this encounter? Everything hangs on the answer to this, but alas, it is a very long story. When an infant, the encounter had no knowledge dimension, this "blooming and buzzing" knew nothing. A chair was not a chair, nor a cat a cat. How do you think knowledge relations are made? In the learning process.

    Is the meaning of what? The meaning of a door is opening a door or the meaning of opening a door is opening a door? Is it that things are known in terms of their final causes? I'd agree with that, but the formal, material, and efficient causes can be objects of our inquiry as well, and these are all made manifest to some degree in perception.Count Timothy von Icarus

    But this is about the knowledge relation. You are the knower. What do you know when you say you know what a car door is? This is the point. You know what will happen when you approach the door, try to open it or close it, roll down the window, etc. When your eyes meet the car door and you are engaged with its possibilities, this is the essence of your knowledge of what a car door IS. The OP is saying that it takes an epistemic agent to "make the door what it its" because apart from these pragmatic engagements, there is no meaningful ontology. Talk about its existence independent of this agency is impossible. Major idea of the OP is this.

    I don't know what to make of this. Truth is often a constraint on freedom, something that asserts itself in the world against our will our expectations. How does this definition apply to usual cases of truth and falsity? E.g., if someone tells me Miami is the capital of Florida or a mechanic claims to have fixed my car and it starts having the same problems again?

    Freedom would seem to be posterior to perception. It is the sort of thing that must be developed. Infants do not have much by way of freedom.

    Hamlet's stoic lemma that "there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so," was understood by the Stoics as a very limited sort of freedom. Rather than a declaration of moral relativism or moral freedom, it assets our affective freedom as we respond to events. Yet even the Stoics admitted that this freedom was limited.

    But "nothing is either true or false but thinking makes it so?" I am not sure about this one. Yes, there is a sense in which thought and belief are required to give the appearance/reality distinction content but truth does not arise from mere "thinking that it is so." I would say that, to avoid a sort of nihilism, truth has to be grounded in the intelligibility of the world, which is a part of thought, but which transcends it.
    Count Timothy von Icarus

    Truth is made, not discovered. See Rorty's Mirror of Nature and his Contingency, Irony and Solidarity (goes without saying my thoughts derive from others). When we encounter an object, it is an interface, a construction of a phenomenon in a pragmatic interface. What there is "outside" of this is impossible to say, for even to speak of an outside is to borrow from contexts where something being outside makes sense, like the outside of a house. There is no outside that can be imagined. This is Wittgenstein.

    It is not a mere "thinking that it is so." It is a matter that thinking is "of a piece" with the object. One is not a mirror of nature. Does this idea make any sense at all? If you talk about the physical neurons of a brain as you did above, as part of what explains knoweldge, the question is begged: how does one affirm such a thing, neurons, that is? Why, IN this very neuronal matrix. But this physicality is supposed to be outside of the brain's interior.

    Intelligibility of the world? I assume you mean by world you mean the things laying around. These have intelligibility? How does one make the move from the intelligibility of the mind, to that of the world? One can simply affirm this, true, and suspend justification, but you know justification is everything to a meaningful assertion. I can't imagine how this works.
  • Wayfarer
    21k
    Truth is made, not discovered.Astrophel

    Can’t let that go by. I’ll refer back to that quote I mentioned the other day

    Frege believed that number is real in the sense that it is quite independent of thought: 'thought content exists independently of thinking "in the same way", he says "that a pencil exists independently of grasping it.”Frege on Knowing the Third Realm,Tyler Burge

    I see no reason to doubt it. The basic facts of arithmetic and logic are not made up but discerned. I think confusion arises from treating objects as mind-independent, when all our judgements about objects are contingent on sense-experience. But then, metaphysics proper never understood objects as being mind-independent in that sense. Yes, we construct the object from experience, but there are real objects, or at least objects which are the same for all observers - ideas, in other words. And as for basic arithmetical facts, they are not objects at all, but the operations of mind, and also invariant from one mind to another. Whereas it seems to me that you have adopted an attitude of unmitigated relativism.

    In respect of intelligibility, what it meant in pre-modern philosophy was precisely the identity of thought and being. I’ve started to understand this through a text I’ve gotten hold of, the title of which says exactly that, Thinking Being, Eric Perl. I had previously been familiar with the Platonist expression ‘to be, is to be intelligible’, but couldn’t understand what it meant. This book has helped with that.

    In any case, I don’t agree, truth is not made, or simply made. Truth includes and so transcends both object and subject. I’m totally on board with Kant’s Copernican Revolution in philosophy, but I also don’t believe it implies that kind of relativism.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.6k
    I see no reason to doubt it. The basic facts of arithmetic and logic are not made up but discerned.Wayfarer

    The problem is that all such "facts" require symbols, or signs. The symbol is essential, as necessary to the existence of an individuated fact. And the symbol is "made up". Therefore at the foundation, the basis of all such "facts of arithmetic" is the application of symbols, and this is something which is made up. The key to the usefulness of the sign, as discussed by Derrida in the section of "Voice and Phenomena" which I referred to earlier in this thread, is the capacity for repetition. And this as the "repeatable results", referred to by @Astrophel above, is fundamental to science.

    Repetition is a temporal concept, and repeatability is displayed to us through sensation as a continuity of sameness. The usefulness of the sign is found in a repetition of the sameness within the supposed independent reality, as time passes. The repetition is simplified into a continuity by epistemic, because that is how we apprehend it through sensation. When things are reversed, and priority is assigned to the continuity of sense data, instead of the individuated facts represented by the signs, misunderstanding results.
  • Astrophel
    448
    I think Buddhism is far better at mapping these ideas of what can and cannot be said - much more so than 20th century philosophy, although to explore it would be beyond the scope of the thread. Suffice to point to the 'parable of the raft', an early Buddhist text, in which the Buddha compares his instruction to a raft, thrown together out of twigs and branches, necessary to cross the river, but not to be clung to as being in itself a kind of ultimate. I think it contrasts with the absolutism of Judeo-Christian culture. Anyway, that's a major digression as far as this thread is concerned, I won't pursue it, but thanks for your replies.Wayfarer

    I think Buddhists, Hindus (not everyday Hindus praying to Ganesh) are the most advanced people in the world. The serious ones, dedicated to overcoming the self, overcoming all "attachments". Dock the raft, and move on, away from yogas. Language is a yoga. It may be more, that is, it may have an ontological significance we know about, and I suspect this true, for language and agency itself seem inseparable. Without language, where is the "I" of an experience, mundane, profound or otherwise?
  • Astrophel
    448
    Thank you very much. I didn't know that Wittgenstein articulated this thought.Ludwig V

    Just to say, when you read this in the Lecture on Ethics (online and free) you will not find exactly my interpretation. You read it an make up your on mind how this goes.
  • Joshs
    5.3k


    Truth is made, not discovered.
    — Astrophel

    Can’t let that go by. I’ll refer back to that quote I mentioned the other day

    Frege believed that number is real in the sense that it is quite independent of thought: 'thought content exists independently of thinking "in the same way", he says "that a pencil exists independently of grasping it.”
    — Frege on Knowing the Third Realm,Tyler Burge

    I see no reason to doubt it. The basic facts of arithmetic and logic are not made up but discerned
    Wayfarer

    Number is based on ‘same thing , different time’
    We look ar may aspect of our word and we see ‘different thing, different time’. How do we get from that to repetition of identity? It’s it just that there is no pure repeated identity in nature, but even in our imaginings of nature. The answer is , from a historical view, we got to it when it became useful to construct the ideality of ‘same thing’, different time’, which didn’t occur all at once, or just in one region of the world. We had to create a rule telling us that when we observed or thought of a multiplicity of things, we should abstract away everything else about the things other than the fact of their being individually noticed by us. This is a very specific concept designed for a specific human purpose. With this rule we now had the concept of pure , empty unit. We arrived at this concept well before it occurred to us that we could impose it back on nature as the ideal of scientific exactitude, forcing nature into categories of unitized things. Thus, we convinced ourselves that nature itself is made of numeric relations, fixed calculable qualities in relations of numeric exactitude. But nature only becomes exact, only becomes number, when we turn our attention away from what we actually experience in order to count.

    It is only when we empty the world of everything natural that we locate the context-free abstraction of ‘same thing, different time’. Number is the very essence of thought in its most stripped down functioning, as associative synthesis. Frege believes that number refers to a concept in the world , but Husserl argued the opposite:

    …the number relates, not to the concept of the enumerated objects, but rather to their totality . Its relationship to the generic concept of the enumerated is simply the following: If we count a group of homogeneous objects, e.g., A, A and A, we at the outset abstract from the intrinsic nature of their contents, thus also from the fact that they are of the genus A. We form the totality form one, one and one, and subsequently note that "one" in this case is to have the signification "one A " Thus, it is only after the enumeration, which as such is totally indifferent to the circumstance that the objects are A's, that the generic concept links up with the number as a defining factor. It determines the unit, i.e., the representation of the "something" enumerated, which is at first void of content, as a something falling under the concept A. The relationship between number and the generic concept of the enumerated is thus in a certain manner the opposite of what Herbart and Frege maintained. The number does not say something about the concept of the enumerated, but rather the concept says something about the number.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.1k


    In this context, do we really have a basis for making these judgements?

    What context? Judging the various merits of historical lines of thought? I should hope we have some basis for making these judgements, or else philosophy doesn't really seem possible. I don't think we have to "go back," to say something like "well here the Stoics really got off track..." or "in retrospect Descartes' dualism has these issues," etc.

    So perhaps we should be very careful, and sceptical of certainties

    It's easier to have destructive certainties when you allow them to sit apart from one another, and so to selectively decide where reason applies. So, yes we should be skeptical of certainties, but we should also not be terrified of them.

    Consider Plato's "noble risk" at the end of the Phaedo.

    It is not fitting for a sensible man to affirm confidently that such things are just as I have described; but that this or something of this sort is what happens to our souls and their abodes, and since the soul is clearly immortal, that this is so seems proper and worth the risk of believing; for the risk is noble.

    We should not want to reach the point where fear of error becomes fear of truth for us. We shall have to act anyhow or others will act for us. We don't want to end up in a situation where "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

    Meanwhile, if the fear of falling into error introduces an element of distrust into science, which without any scruples of that sort goes to work and actually does know, it is not easy to understand why, conversely, a distrust should not be placed in this very distrust, and why we should not take care lest the fear of error is not just the initial error. As a matter of fact, this fear presupposes something, indeed a great deal, as truth, and supports its scruples and consequences on what should itself be examined beforehand to see whether it is truth.

    Phenomenology of Spirit §74

    In an exchange with Erasmus, Martin Luther allows that his predestinating vision of God "seems evil and cruel," but then states that this simply shows how degenerate man's sense of reason is after the Fall. That God should seem evil just shows that man is evil. Man cannot judge properly. Except Luther uses his judgement often and forcefully, in part, to articulate the very theology he his citing as evidence for his inability to reason.

    Having read a number of Luther's letters, I feel they can oscillate between the sublime and the horrid. When he goes into his unhinged rant against the peasants "crush and stab them, kill them where you find them," and seems to embrace the political expediency of "every prince a Pope in his lands," this seems to flow from the fact that he has cut up reason. Now reason can stand in some places. In other places absolute certainty blocks its application and warrant. This leads to chaos.

    Obviously, Catholics did this too, as did Calvin's tradition at times. They placed some dogmas outside the realm of reason, and in doing so ruined reason and faith. Erasmus was hated by both Protestants and Catholics at the time for refusing to do this, but I think time has proved him to be the wiser soul of this era. He was not too timid to risk certainty in some areas, but also unwilling to butcher reason for piecemeal consumption — a sin Plato puts a lot of focus on.


    Aren't practices and ways of life ("This is what I do") foundations for Wittgenstein at least? If they are, your question does arise, as it always does for any foundation. For some, it leads us to a change of discourse, to naturalistic ideas about human beings, social animals finding their way through the "real" world. But that seems to be where we came in!

    People take Wittgenstein many ways. If the ideas in PI around social practices are deflated enough, they begin to look trivial. Everyone knows that different peoples call different things by different words and that a child learns to speak by being around a given language. A Greek child raised in Latin society speaks Latin, an Arab raised in France comes to call things by French words. People who move to foreign countries come to refer to things by foreign words. Often, the sounds that represent words seem quiet arbitrary, and they change with social trends. All this was known and accepted since antiquity.

    Did the verificationists and positivists Wittgenstein was speaking to forget this? At first glance it might seem this way, but I don't think they did. Rather, they abstracted the social variances away in their conception of abstract propositions to try to grasp the nature of meanings and reference.

    What does Wittgenstein say to such attempts? Interpretation is very varied here. Kirpke moves past the trivial at the cost of advocating a theory of rule following that seems implausible even to other self-described Wittgensteineans. McDowell gets rid of interpretation, sort of turning it into an unanalyzable primitive grounded in practice IIRC. Point being, "rules all the way down," is saying something novel, although I don't think it works.

    If we say, "well the natural world is involved in meanings, as well as human cognitive architecture, the phenomenology of human experience, intentionality, and purpose," though, which I think we must, then the role of social practices seems to slide back towards the merely obvious. Once we locate the proximate source of meaning in social practices, the obvious next question is "what causes those practices to be what they are?" I find some phenomenological explanations of how predication arises quite plausible, but then these lead to the question: "why is human phenomenology this way?"

    This seems to lead back to the way the world is, the way objects of predication are, and the way human minds (part of the world) are, which seems to reintroduce the question of "how language hooks to the world," that some, such as Rorty, thinks Wittgenstein has proven to be unanswerable. I personally don't think Rorty is right here. The question of "where do rules come from," seems both possible to investigate and very relevant.

    IDK, IMHO, what PI says about justification is more interesting than what it says about language.

    Do their have to be general principles as such? Should we not change the model and think of something more dynamic, more evolutionary?

    I don't see why not. I feel like too much is dismissed as unknowable because it can't be formalized in static systems, as if the limit of current modeling abilities is the limit of knowledge. Sort of like how many in physics say the universe must be computable because we lack an understanding of how things would be "decidable" otherwise.
  • Astrophel
    448
    I see no reason to doubt it. The basic facts of arithmetic and logic are not made up but discerned. I think confusion arises from treating objects as mind-independent, when all our judgements about objects are contingent on sense-experience. But then, metaphysics proper never understood objects as being mind-independent in that sense. Yes, we construct the object from experience, but there are real objects, or at least objects which are the same for all observers - ideas, in other words. And as for basic arithmetical facts, they are not objects at all, but the operations of mind, and also invariant from one mind to another. Whereas it seems to me that you have adopted an attitude of unmitigated relativism.Wayfarer

    Unmitigated relativism: There was a time when I would agree with you. Now I am convinced that the lines drawn between the world we are IN and what is supposed to be beyond these lines don't really exist at all. Nothing changes in science nor in our familiar affairs. Relativism? But if a thesis says all knowledge is contextual, and nothing can be affirmed outside of a context, and contexts themselves are relative to other contexts, and there is no way out of this, for one would have to actually demonstrate a contextless propositional environment is even possible to make sense of it, and this necessarily requires, you know, context!; then the very idea of noncontextuality (at this level of the most basic assumptions) is out the window. The great rub is this: This is NOT saying everything is relative, for even relativity is a contextual and contingent idea. Everything is OPEN!!

    This is the strength of Heidegger. From here, one can move forward, for we have a new horizon of possibilities that is grounded in the "given" vis a vis the openness of interpretation. Eternity is no longer spatio/temporal eternity, for what we called eternity is now the indeterminacy IN the givenness of the world we are IN. You know how Kant divided ontology, making noumena completely remote from understanding. In this openness, we now are "allowed" to embrace the noumenality IN the phenomenon,
    for when we are no longer committed to fixity of any kind interpretatively, we can practice true "gellasenheit".

    Rorty, of course, we leave behind....and keep. There is no such thing as non propositional knowledge, her says; yet what it is that is to be fit into a proposition is indeterminate. As I see it, the world can once more BE, what it once was, arguably, prior to the bloating of knowledge assumptions that fixate it with such vigor and authority. Standing in the openness of Being is not a philosophical exercise. It is something else. The world is something else, something "tout autre".
  • Ludwig V
    945
    I feel like too much is dismissed as unknowable because it can't be formalized in static systems, as if the limit of current modeling abilities is the limit of knowledge. Sort of like how many in physics say the universe must be computable because we lack an understanding of how things would be "decidable" otherwise.Count Timothy von Icarus
    I am pretty confident that the first sentence is right. As to the second sentence, I find myself considering the possibility that the two concepts of decidability and computability may be defined in terms of each other. If they are not, then I'm rather unclear what they mean.

    Once we locate the proximate source of meaning in social practices, the obvious next question is "what causes those practices to be what they are?" I find some phenomenological explanations of how predication arises quite plausible, but then these lead to the question: "why is human phenomenology this way?"Count Timothy von Icarus
    Yes, that's part of what I'm saying. Any proposed foundation will generate a question why that is so. There are only two ways to stop the regress - first, find an indubitable, self-evident, axiomatic starting-point or second, turn the regress into a loop. Neither is very satisfactory. On the other hand, I don't find the idea that there will always be unanswered questions or that our explanations are incomplete and no matter how fast we run, we will never arrive at the Grand Theory of Everything. None of that means that what we call following a rule is not the result of human practices and way of life.

    If we say, "well the natural world is involved in meanings, as well as human cognitive architecture, the phenomenology of human experience, intentionality, and purpose," though, which I think we must, then the role of social practices seems to slide back towards the merely obvious.Count Timothy von Icarus
    I'm not sure that this is much of an objection to what Wittgenstein is trying to do - assembling reminders to enable us to find the way out of the bottle. Like the fly, once we've seen the way out, it is obvious. He starts on the basis that everything is in plain sight. Actually, this sounds like the well-worn "trivial or false" dilemmas that analytic philosophers used to be so fond of.

    It's easier to have destructive certainties when you allow them to sit apart from one another, and so to selectively decide where reason applies. So, yes we should be skeptical of certainties, but we should also not be terrified of them.Count Timothy von Icarus
    Yes. I think that Hume is very sensible when he distinguishes between judicious or moderate scepticism and radical or Pyrrhonic scepticism. (He thinks the former is necessary and wise and the latter is unhinged; he recommends a month in the country for anyone suffering from it.)
    I think that a parallel critique of certainty is entirely appropriate. A judicious and moderate certainty is indeed wise, but a radical and dogmatic certainty is not only divisive (but, let's be blunt about this, people love a fight, especially when they can join in) but also unlikely to stand up to the test of debate.
    When I asked whether we have a sound basis for making large-scale judgements about movements of ideas in the past - especially the distant past, I did intend the question as a reminder of the complications involved in reading those texts and the need for caution in evaluating them. I was particularly exercised by what appeared to be Heidegger's nostalgia for scholastic philosophy and by doubts about how far it is reasonable to apply modern philosophical ideas to what are much more like religious texts rather than what we would think of as philosophy. I know we think we can separate the two, but I'm not sure about how appropriate that is. It depends, I suppose, on what the project is.
    I have to admit, however, that I have a prejudice about any pronouncement about History or Culture (Ancient or Modern). The grand and large scale too often sweeps aside nuance and detail and creates distortions in doing so.
  • Wayfarer
    21k
    I think Buddhists, Hindus (not everyday Hindus praying to Ganesh) are the most advanced people in the world.Astrophel

    I believe the important philosophical perspective they bring is that of non-dualism. The modern world, cosmopolitan as it is, is then able to consider these perspectives through dialogue with its representatives. (Heidegger seemed aware of this, there's a televised discussion between him and a Buddhist monk on the Internet, and quite a bit of literature on Heidegger and Eastern thought.) I'm also aware of the well-grounded criticisms of Buddhist modernism but nevertheless the Eastern tradition can help cast light on many deep philosophical conundrums of the West.

    (Also I will acknowledge that whereas your approach seems defined in terms of the curriculum of philosophy, mine has been eclectic, as I encountered philosophy in pursuit of the idea of spiritual enlightenment. Consequently I am not as well-read in the later 20th C continental philosophers as others here, including yourself, although I'm always open to learn.)

    Without language, where is the "I" of an experience, mundane, profound or otherwise?Astrophel

    Well, sure! But teasing out the implications of that, actually treating it as a discussion in analytic philosophy, may also cast some light. There is that which is beyond words, ineffable, 'of which we cannot speak', but we can nevertheless can try and develop a feeling for what it is, and where the boundary lies (rather than just 'shuddup already'.)

    nature only becomes exact, only becomes number, when we turn our attention away from what we actually experience in order to count.Joshs

    Sure. My contention about number is a simple one: they are real as constituents of reason but not materially existent, and I think that says something important.

    They placed some dogmas outside the realm of reason, and in doing so ruined reason and faith.Count Timothy von Icarus

    In Theological Origins of Modernity, Gillespie places the origin of this tendency with the Franscisan order who insisted that God was was not bound by reason, an attitude was anathema to the Scholastics, who tended to see in the workings of reason a mirror of the divine intellect. He says this tendency makes God capricious and wholly unpredictable and unknowable and that this 'theological voluntarism' is also characteristic of Islam.

    I was particularly exercised by what appeared to be Heidegger's nostalgia for scholastic philosophy and by doubts about how far it is reasonable to apply modern philosophical ideas to what are much more like religious texts rather than what we would think of as philosophy.Ludwig V

    Something I'm often grappling with due to my preoccupation with ideas arising from spiritual traditions. I think there is something of an implicit barrier in modern philosophy against ideas and indeed ways of thought that are deemed too close to being religious, and that also is a barrier against a considerable amount of pre-modern philosophy in the West.
  • Joshs
    5.3k


    nature only becomes exact, only becomes number, when we turn our attention away from what we actually experience in order to count.
    — Joshs

    Sure. My contention about number is a simple one: they are real as constituents of reason but not materially existent, and I think that says something important.
    Wayfarer

    If the concept of number emerged at some point in cultural history , was this a necessary or contingent event. And if it was not necessary, that is, if we could conceive of a different trajectory of culture in which the concept of number did not emerge, can we still say that it is independent of thought?
  • Joshs
    5.3k

    Rorty, of course, we leave behind....and keep. There is no such thing as non propositional knowledge, her says; yet what it is that is to be fit into a proposition is indeterminate. As I see it, the world can once more BE, what it once was, arguably, prior to the bloating of knowledge assumptions that fixate it with such vigor and authority. Standing in the openness of Being is not a philosophical exercise. It is something else. The world is something else, something "tout autre".Astrophel
    If you haven’t ready Lee Braver yet, I think you would really enjoy him. He reads Heidegger through Kierkegaard.
  • Astrophel
    448

    Yes, Heidegger: Thinking of Being. I'll take a look. Thanks!
  • Wayfarer
    21k
    If the concept of number emerged at some point in cultural history , was this a necessary or contingent event.Joshs

    Well, the qualifications of necessary/contingent generally apply to facts, don't they, rather than events? And the discovery of arithmetic, mathematics and geometry was not a single event, it occured over thousands of years, and is still on-going. But the basic point is, I take it, that basic arithmetical principles are true in all possible worlds, as the saying has it.

    (One of the posts I often point to is What is Math? Smithsonian Institute Magazine. It explores the ideas I find interesting about this question, in particular the pro's and cons of mathematical platonism. The representative Platonist is one James Robert Brown, an emeritus professor, who's book I subsequently sought out. But alas, many of the arguments are really too difficult to understand for someone without a background in maths. But there's one gem of a quote in that essay, which I think unintentionally exposes the source of much current hostility towards platonist ideas: 'Platonism", as mathematician Brian Davies has put it, “has more in common with mystical religions than it does with modern science.” The fear is that if mathematicians give Plato an inch, he’ll take a mile. If the truth of mathematical statements can be confirmed just by thinking about them, then why not ethical problems, or even religious questions? Why bother with empiricism at all?")
  • Joshs
    5.3k
    But the basic point is, I take it, that basic arithmetical principles are true in all possible worlds, as the saying has it…If the truth of mathematical statements can be confirmed just by thinking about them, then why not ethical problems, or even religious questions? Why bother with empiricism at all?"Wayfarer

    Are we talking about truths, or a method that is self-confirming by its very nature as method? Don’t mathemarical statements have to be true in all possible worlds by virtue of the fact that the method of ‘same thing, different time’ stipulates the very concept of ‘true in all possible worlds’ as empty repetition of identity? Wittgenstein recognized the truth of mathematics as ‘hinge propositions’ that are true in virtue of being the unquestioned ground of assertions within a language game.
  • Astrophel
    448
    I believe the important philosophical perspective they bring is that of non-dualism. The modern world, cosmopolitan as it is, is then able to consider these perspectives through dialogue with its representatives. (Heidegger seemed aware of this, there's a televised discussion between him and a Buddhist monk on the Internet, and quite a bit of literature on Heidegger and Eastern thought.) I'm also aware of the well-grounded criticisms of Buddhist modernism but nevertheless the Eastern tradition can help cast light on many deep philosophical conundrums of the West.

    (Also I will acknowledge that whereas your approach seems defined in terms of the curriculum of philosophy, mine has been eclectic, as I encountered philosophy in pursuit of the idea of spiritual enlightenment. Consequently I am not as well-read in the later 20th C continental philosophers as others here, including yourself, although I'm always open to learn.)
    Wayfarer

    As you can see, I am no expert. But I do read and think like you, just different books and essays.

    Consider that non dualism only makes sense when played off of dualism. I read a paper by Dick Garner, who was a professor at Ohio State, in which he tried to logically formulate the Buddhist resistance to being spoken about plainly, and it was not in the assertion that something is the case or not the case. The Buddhist "truth" was to be found in the cancelation of these (and he drew out the symbolic logic for this).

    There is a strange threshold one gets to reading phenomenology, where the "nothing" get a lot of attention. I am reading, and have been for a while, Michel Henry, Jean luc Marion, Jean luc Nancy, when I get the chance.

    Heidegger and a Buddhist monk. An interview? Of course, there is that famous Der Spiegel interview where he mentions Buddhism, briefly. Where would I find this?
  • Joshs
    5.3k


    Heidegger and a Buddhist monk. An interview? Of course, there is that famous Der Spiegel interview where he mentions Buddhism, briefly. Where would I find this?Astrophel

    I’ve been reading Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy, where he states

    Da-sein is the grounding of the truth of beyng. The less that humans are beings, the less that they adhere obstinately to the beings they find themselves to be, all the nearer do they come to being [Sein]. (Not a Buddhism! Just the opposite).
  • Wayfarer
    21k
    Are we talking about truths, or a method that is self-confirming by its very nature as method?Joshs

    What drew me to the question, was 'what is the nature of number?' Without going into all the background, the idea that struck me was that numbers are real, in that they're the same for anyone who can count, but they're not material in nature. They exist in a different way than do objects, they're only perceptible to an intelligence capable of counting. And mathematics is also fundamental to the success of modern science. But it turns out to be a contentious debate. Naturalists generally disparage the 'romance of maths'. Another article I have on my links list is about the 'Indispensability Argument' for mathematics.

    Mathematical objects are in many ways unlike ordinary physical objects such as trees and cars. We learn about ordinary objects, at least in part, by using our senses. It is not obvious that we learn about mathematical objects this way. Indeed, it is difficult to see how we could use our senses to learn about mathematical objects. We do not see integers, or hold sets.....

    ....Mathematical objects are not the kinds of things that we can see or touch, or smell, taste or hear. If we can not learn about mathematical objects by using our senses, a serious worry arises about how we can justify our mathematical beliefs.

    For some reason, this strikes me as faintly comical. But it also says something about the stranglehold of empiricism on philosophy.

    To me, this all ties into realism about universals, questions about the nature of reason, the Greek and medieval philosophy of the rational soul, and questions about the nature of meaning, and how it is grasped. They are themes I like to explore.

    Incidentally, looking around for more info on Lee Braver, I found his book Groundless Grounds, from the abstract of which:

    Ludwig Wittgenstein and Martin Heidegger are two of the most important—and two of the most difficult—philosophers of the twentieth century, indelibly influencing the course of continental and analytic philosophy, respectively. In Groundless Grounds, Lee Braver argues that the views of both thinkers emerge from a fundamental attempt to create a philosophy that has dispensed with everything transcendent so that we may be satisfied with the human.

    As you might guess, given the content of my posts, I tend to recoil from the very idea.

    As you can see, I am no expert.Astrophel

    Maybe, but your posts are quite interesting, and, like mine, eclectic.

    Consider that non dualism only makes sense when played off of dualismAstrophel

    It takes some doing to get a feel for non-dualism. I first discovered Advaita (Hindu) before delving into Buddhism. I will say that non-dualism is a very subtle idea - once you get a grasp of it, elements of it can be found in the Western philosophical tradition, but the origins are very different. It's very much tied to meditative awareness as a different mode of being.

    There is a strange threshold one gets to reading phenomenology, where the "nothing" get a lot of attention.Astrophel

    That's where there is some convergence with the Buddhist principle of emptiness, śūnyatā. Very deep topic, but I will say that 'no-thing' is not quite the same as mere absence or lack. In any case, there are scholars who work on the crossover between phenomenology and Buddhist philosophy. It was a theme in The Embodied Mind, Varela, Thompson, et al.

    There have been quite a few essays written on convergences between Heidegger and Zen Buddhism although I don't know of any to recommend.

    Heidegger's dialogue with a Buddhist monk is here.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    Ludwig Wittgenstein and Martin Heidegger are two of the most important—and two of the most difficult—philosophers of the twentieth century, indelibly influencing the course of continental and analytic philosophy, respectively. In Groundless Grounds, Lee Braver argues that the views of both thinkers emerge from a fundamental attempt to create a philosophy that has dispensed with everything transcendent so that we may be satisfied with the human.

    As you might guess, given the content of my posts, I tend to recoil from the very idea.
    Wayfarer

    I saw that review or article. If that is in fact what their project involves (and perhaps the wording is wonky). My quesion is what exactly does 'dispensed with everything transcendent' mean? Do they mean this is the sense that their ontology makes transcendence inaccessible or incoherent? It's one thing to bracket something away, it's another to say it is meaningless. I'd love a bit more on this.
  • Wayfarer
    21k
    Well I guess the answer to that is 'read the book'. It's a follow on from Braver's A Thing of this World, which @Joshs has recommended, but I'm struggling to get around to it, being in a perpetual backlog of things I ought to read.

    Oh, and as to how to delimit 'the transcendent' - very good question, I would say. 'Ethics are transcendental' does appear at the very end of TLP, in fact that and the sorrounding aphorisms are about the only ones which appeal to me.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    I'm struggling to get around to it, being in a perpetual backlog of things I ought to read.Wayfarer

    I hear you. I've been watching Braver on youtube but I work 50 plus hours a week, so I really don't have it in me to read anything except for the labels on shampoo bottles.
  • Wayfarer
    21k
    I will say, apropos of the thread title, something that is becoming clear to me is the consequence of the rejection of the idea of there being final causes. As I understand it, this was one of the casualties of Galileo's science - as it should have been, in the case of physics, with the obsolete notions of bodies having their 'natural places'. But there's another sense of final causality, the end to which things are directed, and that applies to biology in a way that it does not for physics.

    //probably another thread//
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.6k
    But there's another sense of final causality, the end to which things are directed, and that applies to biology in a way that it does not for physics.Wayfarer

    One thing to keep in mind is that the ancients did not have the separation between living and inanimate, which has since been developed and is fundamental to us. So the common understanding was that "natural" things are all things other than those created by humans. It's interesting to recognize that in Plato's "Symposium" the Idea of "Beauty" is understood through reference to artificial things only. This provided the relation between beauty and good, the fact that the beauty of human artifacts and human institutions is related to their purpose. That grounded "beauty" in something real. But in modern days we completely dissociate beauty from purpose, and this has been developed as a fundamental metaphysical division, the division between "good" (for the sake of something else) and "beauty" (for the sake of itself). In ancient times, since both the artificial and the natural, were products of activity (becoming), they each required soul as the source of activity. The separation we have today was initiated by Aristotle.

    But you'll notice in Aristotle's "Physics" there is significant discussion of final cause. And when he makes a comparison between artificial things and natural things, to demonstrate how the form of a thing comes to be within the thing itself, his choice of a natural thing is an acorn, which is a living thing. So in that sort of "natural thing" we can see clearly how the matter of the seed provides the potential for the thing which will come into being, and how that form is put into the material potential (the seed) from a prior being the parent tree.

    Now we separate the inanimate, and the activities of the inanimate are the subject of "physics" proper, while the animated "beings" are the subject of biology. You'll notice that the defining activities of the living beings (biological) are internal to the being, so the being is animated. within. On the other hand, the defining activities of the inanimate (physical) things are in the external space, which surrounds the active things. These are the two distinct types of activity outlined by Aristotle in his "Physics", internal activity which is "change" proper, and change of place (locomotion), which is relative change.

    Physicalists will insist that all change is reducible to the relative motion known as change of place, which is studied by physics. However, modern (quantum) physics demonstrates very clearly the incompatibility between the two through the problems with the principle of locality.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2.1k


    But this is about ontology: the Being that is presupposed by talk about neuronal activity.

    The reference to Hebbian learning was just an example of the extremely defuse number of phenomena that are "scientific," in the sense of involving correlation. I wasn't trying to make any other point aside from the fact that this seems to make a very large number of things "scientific," in a way that stretches the word far past its normal usage. So, the suggestion is that, if you can elucidate what all these things have in common more clearly, it would be helpful for your case. I do agree that they all have something in common, but explaining exactly what will not be easy. Information theory has been used to unify many of these ideas, but it leaves our the subjective element and so leaves out something essential.

    See Rorty's Mirror of Nature and his Contingency

    Funny enough, Boethius also criticizes the image of the mind as "mirror of nature" for being misleading writing in 524AD. "Everything is received in the manner of the receiver." But crucially, he has as organs of perception the "imagination" and "intellect," capable variously of abstracting objects away from their surroundings and of comprehending their intelligible forms. This makes all the difference in the conclusions he draws from this sort of relativism.

    Intelligibility of the world? I assume you mean by world you mean the things laying around. These have intelligibility? How does one make the move from the intelligibility of the mind, to that of the world? One can simply affirm this, true, and suspend justification, but you know justification is everything to a meaningful assertion. I can't imagine how this works.

    Let's back up from metaphysics for a second. A phenomenological explanation of intelligibilities might be something like "the sum total of true things that can be elucidated about an object of discussion across the whole history of the global Human Conversation." Here, "truth" is defined in phenomenological terms, e.g. the truth of correctness, whereas a metaphysical explanation is set aside for now. An important point made by phenomenologists is that predication emerges from human phenomenology and intersubjectivity.

    When we perceive an object, we run through a manifold of aspects and profiles: we see the thing first from this side and then from that; we concentrate on the color; we pay attention to the hardness or softness; we turn the thing around and see other sides and aspects, and so on. In this manifold of appearances, however, we continuously experience all the aspects and profiles, all the views, as being “of” one and the same object. The multiple appearances are not single separate beads following one another; they are “threaded” by the identity continuing within them all. As Husserl puts it, “Each single percept in this series is already a percept of the thing. Whether I look at this book from above or below, from inside or outside, I always see this book. It is always one and the same thing.” The identity of the thing is implicitly presented in and through the manifold. We do not focus on this identity; rather, we focus on some aspects or profiles, but all of them are experienced, not as isolated flashes or pressures, but as belonging to a single entity. As Husserl puts it, “An identification is performed, but no identity is meant.” The identity itself never shows up as one of these aspects or profiles; its way of being present is more implicit, but it does truly present itself. We do not have just color patches succeeding one another, but the blue and the gray of the object as we perceive it continuously. In fact, if we run into dissonances in the course of our experience – I saw the thing as green, and now the same area is showing up as blue – we recognize them as dissonant precisely because we assume that all the appearances belong to one and the same thing and that it cannot show up in such divergent ways if it is to remain identifiable as itself. [It's worth noting the experiments on animals show they are sensitive to these same sorts of dissonances


    When we move to intersubjectivity, to predication, we make a significant step.

    We achieve a proposition or a meaning, something that can be communicated and shared as the very same with other people (in contrast with a perception, which cannot be conveyed to others). We achieve something that can be confirmed, disconfirmed, adjusted, brought to greater distinctness, shown to be vague and contradictory, and the like. All the issues that logic deals with now come into play. According to Husserl, therefore, the proposition or the state of affairs, as a categorial object, does not come about when we impose an a priori form on experience; rather, it emerges from and within experience as a formal structure of parts and wholes...

    For a longer excerpt on this process, see the long quote midway through this post: https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/879424

    The work of metaphysical explanations of intelligibilities then is to elucidate what lies behind these processes and what makes different minds work similarly.

    How does one make the move from the intelligibility of the mind, to that of the world? One can simply affirm this, true, and suspend justification, but you know justification is everything to a meaningful assertion. I can't imagine how this works

    Many ways. Wittgenstein for example, points out the compelling nature of clarity, symmetry, and parsimony in explanations.

    Demands for absolute justification can undermine any assertion. How are you sure there are other minds other than your own? How are you sure your thoughts aren't piloted by an evil demon who makes you only sure of falsehoods? Why speak of the "intelligibility of mind," when all you really have grounds for is the apparent intelligibility of things in your own mind? Why believe reason or argument is useful? This is an aspect of the transcendental nature of reason. We can always ask "but is this really true?" in the same way that Moore identified how we can always ask re practical/moral judgement, "is this truly good?"

    The position that intelligibility is a sui generis creation of "mind" itself makes metaphysical assumptions. It not unlike how Hume's arguments re cause assume that seeing a baseball break a window or seeing one billiard ball move another isn't observing cause. At first glance, it seems to be a somewhat pious statement about the limits of knowledge, not assuming too much, but the assumption of ignorance itself assumes much. On closer inspection, such claims end up grounded in the conceptions of causation dominant in Hume's day, the idea of extrinsic eternal laws shaping the interactions of discrete things.

    IMO, any successful metaphysical theory of truth has to recover the phenomenological given of truth, the way in which truth is prephilosophical.



    What there is "outside" of this is impossible to say, for even to speak of an outside is to borrow from contexts where something being outside makes sense, like the outside of a house. There is no outside that can be imagined. This is Wittgenstein

    Sure, but Wittgenstein leaves untouched the issue of how the house is built and from what it is constructed. If you can build additions onto the house as needed, if there is no limit to the size of the house, and if the house is built from the very things you are trying to fathom, then I think very different conclusions will follow compared with the case where the house is said to fixed and sealed. But I would say there is plenty of evidence that people can both move between different houses (consider Eriugena's different affirmations and negation re levels of being if you're familiar with that) and reconstruct or expand the houses. The goal of "getting outside" might be a "blind alley," but I think it's possible to take different conclusions from this.

    Well, I'd say the house is built from the materials of human phenomenology, and these include intersubjective predication and essences. But do these spring to mind uncaused? Intelligibilities seem to be "in" the world to start with, as a given to our experiences. Metaphysics has to try to explain the why of this.
  • Astrophel
    448
    Da-sein is the grounding of the truth of beyng. The less that humans are beings, the less that they adhere obstinately to the beings they find themselves to be, all the nearer do they come to being [Sein]. (Not a Buddhism! Just the opposite).

    Stunning, really. This from the unapologetic Nazi (that Robert Solomon and others say he was. I've read some of the "black notebooks" and they are pretty hateful.) ?? Levinas' "totality" is premised on just this moral deficit in B&T.
  • Astrophel
    448
    Well, sure! But teasing out the implications of that, actually treating it as a discussion in analytic philosophy, may also cast some light. There is that which is beyond words, ineffable, 'of which we cannot speak', but we can nevertheless can try and develop a feeling for what it is, and where the boundary lies (rather than just 'shuddup already'.)Wayfarer

    It would be more, shuddup and attend! How does one attend? This takes thoughtful insight, not just shutting up, the thoughtful insight that is implicitly THERE in the shutting up. As the epiphany comes to the mathematician or the scientist, it seems to come from nowhere, the discursivity of thought in the underpinnings of realization unnoticed. Shutting up and allowing the world to "speak" is a matter of all of our speculative resources at bay, yet in an anticipatory silence. Drove Kierkegaard to his dark nights of torment.
  • Lionino
    1.8k
    What drew me to the question, was 'what is the nature of number?' Without going into all the background, the idea that struck me was that numbers are real, in that they're the same for anyone who can count, but they're not material in nature. They exist in a different way than do objects, they're only perceptible to an intelligence capable of counting. And mathematics is also fundamental to the success of modern science. But it turns out to be a contentious debate. Naturalists generally disparage the 'romance of maths'. Another article I have on my links list is about the 'Indispensability Argument' for mathematics.Wayfarer

    Great links for that topic:
    https://maa.org/sites/default/files/pdf/upload_library/22/Allendoerfer/1980/0025570x.di021111.02p0048m.pdf
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nominalism-mathematics/
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/platonism-mathematics/
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/platonism/
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/philosophy-mathematics/

    Lower-case platonists holds that numbers are abstract objects, non-causal, non-spatial, non-temporal objects.
    But then Benecerraf's problem:
    Benacerraf is skeptical that such an account exists. Thus, he thinks, we must either endorse a “non-standard” antirealist interpretation of mathematics or settle for an epistemic mystery.

    And one may then wonder about the implications of each of these ideas. Obviously mathematics exists, I can do calculations right now, so, without ignoring the topic, someone must decide what it is that mathematics is about, and pick a side, be realist or antirealist. A physicalist cannot be a realist about mathematics¹, so he must adopt another view. But both immanent realism and conceptualism have a fair share of trouble, which leaves us with nominalism.
    One might then seek the connection between these ontologies of mathematics and the foundations of mathematics. The paper linked claims that formalism is closest to nominalism, logicism to platonism, and intuitionism to conceptualism. But then there will be contentions still.

    This debate is also intimately linked to the queston of whether mathematics is invented or discovered. For the intuitionist, for example, mathematics would be unarguably invented.

    1 – Unless he adopts a naturalised platonism.
  • Wayfarer
    21k
    :clap: Thanks for those, happy to have someone here that recognises the issue. I find the details very difficult due to my lack of background in formal logic and mathematics. But I'm familiar with the SEP articles and have refered to Platonism in mathematics article.

    Mathematical platonism has considerable philosophical significance. If the view is true, it will put great pressure on the physicalist idea that reality is exhausted by the physical. For platonism entails that reality extends far beyond the physical world and includes objects that aren’t part of the causal and spatiotemporal order studied by the physical sciences. Mathematical platonism, if true, will also put great pressure on many naturalistic theories of knowledge.
    --

    As the epiphany comes to the mathematician or the scientist, it seems to come from nowhere, the discursivity of thought in the underpinnings of realization unnoticed.Astrophel

    :100: Great post! One of my early favourite books of popular philosophy was Arthur Koestler 'The Sleepwalkers' which contains many accounts these kinds of serendipitous discoveries in the history of science.
  • Lionino
    1.8k
    As an addition to my previous post, Max Tegmark's mathematical universe would be an example of a naturalised platonism¹.
    1 – Any view that takes mathematical objects to be simultaneously abstract and perceptible (Balaguer, "Against (Maddian) Naturalized Platonism", 1994).
  • Ludwig V
    945
    I believe the important philosophical perspective they bring is that of non-dualism.Wayfarer
    Yes, but there is also the idea that understanding requires training the mind - or maybe even reconstructing it. (I mean, by meditation, of course) Christianity, it seems to me, talks a great deal about belief and so presents itself as primarily a matter of doctrine. (Judaism emphasizes law, Islam acceptance, and so on.) This is complicated and not a sharp distinction, but the emphasis is there and sets these views apart from Western empiricism and rationalism.

    Encounter a bank teller and think of all that comes to mind in terms of what a bank teller qua bank teller is, and you will have a list of all a bank teller Does.Astrophel
    This is the difference between what a bank teller IS and what a bank teller DOES. Popper, in the Open Society, identifies this difference as part of the difference between science and (some kinds of) philosophy. (Maybe in other places as well - I just don't know.) It seems to me a very important difference.
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