• Joshs
    5.4k


    It took many centuries for the idea to emerge that that Universe might be purposeless, it is one of the realisations (if it is a realisation) that is born out of the mechanical philosophy of Galileo and Newton. I suppose the idea that the Universe is animated by reason is a thread that is common to nearly all traditional philosophy. It’s only with the advent of modernity that this is called into question.Wayfarer

    Can the Universe be ordered without being animated by purpose? Do you see the difference? Purpose and reason seem to suggest A purpose and A reason. That is , a realism in which things works according to a certain scheme , a particular content of meaning. By contrast , it could be that the universe is ordered in the sense that it changes with respect to itself in a way that is profoundly intimate. What makes this unfolding ordered is not an assigned purpose, but the lack of arbitrary content violently polarizing its movement in one direction or another. For instance, psychologist George Kelly wrote:

    The universe that we presume exists has another important characteristic: it is integral. By that we mean it functions as a single unit with all its imaginable parts having an exact relationship to each other. This may, at first, seem a little implausible, since ordinarily it would appear that there is a closer relationship between the motion of my fingers and the action of the typewriter keys than there is, say, between either of them and the price of yak milk in Tibet. But we believe that, in the long run, all of these events—the motion of my fingers, the action of the keys, and the price of yak milk—are interlocked. It is only within a limited section of the universe, that part we call earth and that span of time we recognize as our present eon, that two of these necessarily seem more closely related to each other than either of them is to the third. A simple way of saying this is to state that time provides the ultimate bond in all relationships.

    Kelly says all events in the universe are interlocked via temporal succession. What does he mean by interlocked? He says “all its imaginable parts have an exact relationship to each other”, but by ‘exact' he doesn't appear to mean an objectively causal exactitude, even though he describes it as all working “together like clockwork”. The order of material causality is dictated by the empirical content, which is inherently arbitrary. A car engine's parts have an exact causal relationship with each other, but not an inferential one. If one part were removed, the others would retain their identity, even if the engine no longer worked. By contrast, in Kelly's form of interlocking, any two events are just as closely related to each other as either of them is to the third. In other words, all events are inferentially, relevantly, motivationally, replicatively related to each other like an optimally enlightened construct system, which is quite different than saying they are externally, causally connected via the representational relation between subjective knower and objective world.

    Whereas mechanisms are assembled piece by piece from different parts, each with its own already fixed properties, that are all externally related to each other, living wholes are made up of internally related ‘participant parts'. That is, instead of being structured into wholes by being all joined together by third entities (such as glue, nails, etc.) into unified structures, the ‘parts' of a living whole do not already have a fixed character, nor are they fixed in place by ‘glue' or ‘nails’.

    Unlike for Vervaeke, ‘getting the universe right’ doesn’t mean capturing some particular contentful purpose or reason or scheme that we can nail down as the ‘truth’. It means that through discursive and practical niche construction, organism and environment are formed and reformed together through an ongoing, mutually intra-active reconfiguration. Over time , this process of mutual reconfiguration can reveal itself to us as Kelly’s profoundly interconnected and intercorrelated movement of a universe. We dont need the universe to be purposeful in order to reveal a reality in which human behavior can be understood as ethically benign. In fact, purpose, by implying a right path and a wrong path, gets in the way of such an understanding.
  • Janus
    15.9k
    I sometimes think it might be that the ancients simply assumed there was a reason for existence and that the universe was animated by purpose. The meaning of ‘cosmos’ was ‘a unified whole’ and was presumed to be ordered by reason, which is why reason could get a purchase on it in the first place; it was the task of the philosopher to discern that purpose.Wayfarer

    I think that's right—the cosmos was understood to be centred on humans and was thus understood in anthropomorphic terms just as it was understood in anthropocentric terms,

    With the Copernican revolution came the realization that humans are not at the centre of the cosmos. Then came Kant's second "Copernican" revolution which, ironically, in a way placed humans back at the centre. But this can be understood in the sense that, for us, experientially and phenomenologically speaking, we do find ourselves at the centre of things. I think it pays to remember that this is just a perspective, not an absolute.

    But I would hope that as we’re a part of that unfolding process, that insofar as we capable of living meaningfully, then we’re playing a part in it, and it is purposeful - which is the overall orientation of the talks he’s giving.Wayfarer

    I agree that it is important for humans to "live meaningfully", and I think they in fact mostly do live meaningfully in the ways and to the degrees their individual capacities allow. As Karl Jaspers stresses, we are potentially capable of self-transcendence through reason, which means we are potentially capable via reflection, self-analysis and critique, of seeing where we are being ruled by instinctive appetites or unexamined inadequate or negative socially /culturally introjected notions and understandings.

    This idea is also reflected in the Nietszchean/ Heideggerian/ Kierkegaardian/ existentialist notion of 'living authentically" as opposed to living according to Heidegger's "das Mann". Where I think we diverge is that I don't think it is necessary to project this sense of purposeful life and potential self-transcendence beyond the human. Animals have their purposes, but as far as we can tell they cannot transcend their instinctive natures, and when it comes to plants and the rest of the mineral universe, even the idea of purpose seems inapt.
  • Igitur
    24
    As to the idea that God gives purpose, this might be true, but if there is a God then I believe (assuming God gives life purpose) that the purpose (obtained through faith and belief) ends up actually being faith and belief in a number of religions. Personally I choose to believe that life must have multiple purposes/meanings, just as life has much diversity in experiences and possibilities.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    Can the Universe be ordered without being animated by purpose? Do you see the difference? Purpose and reason seem to suggest A purpose and A reason.Joshs

    I said before, it seems an inevitable implication, but perhaps this is because of the theistic history of Western culture which seems to force itself upon us. There’s a passage I often quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Logos, to wit:

    God, according to the Stoics, "did not make the world as an artisan does his work, but it is by wholly penetrating all matter that He is the demiurge of the universe" (Galen, "De qual. incorp." in "Fr. Stoic.", ed. von Arnim, II, 6); He penetrates the world "as honey does the honeycomb" (Tertullian, "Adv. Hermogenem", 44), this God so intimately mingled with the world is fire or ignited air; inasmuch as He is the principle controlling the universe, He is called Logos; and inasmuch as He is the germ from which all else develops, He is called the seminal Logos (logos spermatikos). This Logos is at the same time a force and a law, an irresistible force which bears along the entire world and all creatures to a common end, an inevitable and holy law from which nothing can withdraw itself, and which every reasonable man should follow willingly.

    The parallels with 'dharma' are striking, dharma likewise being 'a universal law', 'individual station or duty', (and (n Buddhism) an element of experience). And there are many non-theistic forms of this kind of belief in Hinduism also. As metaphors, think they're quite philosophically congenial to naturalism or the kind of emergent or extended naturalism that is beginning to appear.

    Animals have their purposes, but as far as we can tell they cannot transcend their instinctive naturesJanus

    Whereas, humans can. Which is one of the predicaments that popular Darwnism leaves us, as it makes no provision for this fact.

    Steve Talbott, who's essays I really love, is a philosopher of biology who has a lot to say about that. There's a particular essay of his, From Physical Causes to Organisms of Meaning, which I think draws out this distinction in exquisite detail. (I wish I could paraphrase it, but it's a very hard topic to summarize. I found Steve Talbott's essays on The New Atlantis site, they're first rate on all of this.)
  • creativesoul
    11.6k
    Imho best to limit this to people because, so far as I know, there is no adequate language for making clear just what exactly animals are doing. As to your distinction between purpose on one side and meaning and significance on the other, l don't quite get it. But I have no reason to think I would disagree with you. I assume you mean that a dim bulb can illuminate meaning and significance, but that it takes something brighter to execute purpose. In any case I think none of it exists absent an agent in which it is thought/supposed.tim wood

    Perhaps unpacking the last claim would help.

    I do think giving purpose(s) to things takes more complex cognition/thinking than attributing meaning/significance. As before, purpose involves a means to some goal. I think we agree there.

    I'm curious what sort of reasoning/justification grounds the implication that only humans are capable of attributing meaning/significance and/or giving purpose to things. The way you put the last claim may be indicative of how you've arrived at that. May I safely conclude that you do not believe any other creature(aside from humans) is capable of thinking in any way that it makes sense for us to say that they are attributing meaning or significance to something, or that no other creature is capable of 'giving' purpose to other things?

    All of that presupposes some unspoken notions. Meaning. Significance. Thought. We may be working from very different notions.
  • tim wood
    9k
    No. I had two cats. One an outdoor master of the neighborhood. I'd observe it lying hidden in a bush observing something intently, and it took me quite awhile to see that in two yards across the street, in two separate bushes, were two other cats, each observing the others with what appeared to be equal intensity and attention. The other cat a master of indoors and of people. The sidewalk being a main walkway for that neighborhood to the transit station, this cat would go out and lie on the sidewalk and "collect" pets, belly-rubs, and scratches from folks going to work in the morning and returning home in the evening.

    An old house, the doors were hung in such a way as to slowly swing closed if left open - without latching. And sometimes the cats would be trapped in a bedroom. Indoor cat figured out to reach under the door to pull it open, and to quickly slip through before it swung closed again. Outdoor cat, even after watching this a number of times, never got it. And a dog, a border collie, that at the playground understood instantly a game that was proposed to her, and was eager to play.

    I'm sure most pet owners can tell many like stories, clear examples of intelligence and even a sense of humor. And trained animals can do amazing things. So I do not limit such behaviour to people, but I do think it makes sense to speak in terms of people on the assumption that at least at first there may be greater clarity.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    I'm sure most pet owners can tell many like stories, clear examples of intelligence and even a sense of humor.tim wood

    The following extended passage about the chaffinch (a small finch) comes from a 1927 description by the British ornithologist Edward Max Nicholson (quoted in E.S. Russell’s 1934 book The Behaviour of Animals):

    Here the male must leave the flock, if he has belonged to one, and establish himself in a territory which may at the time be incapable of sustaining him alone, but must later in the season supply a satisfactory food-supply for himself, his mate and family, and against as many birds of other species as overlap his sphere of influence. He must then sing loudly and incessantly for several months, since, however soon he secures a mate, trespassers must be warned off the territory, or, if they ignore his warning, driven out. His mate must help with the defence of the territory when she is needed; pairing must be accomplished; a suitable site must be found for the nest; materials must be collected and put together securely enough to hold five bulky young birds; eggs must be laid in the nest and continuously brooded for a fortnight till they hatch, often in very adverse weather; the young are at first so delicate that they have to be brooded and encouraged to sleep a great part of the time, yet they must have their own weight of food in a day, and in proportion as the need of brooding them decreases their appetites grow, until in the end the parents are feeding four or five helpless birds equal to themselves in size and appetite but incapable of digesting nearly such a wide diet. Enemies must be watched for and the nest defended and kept clean. When the young scatter, often before they can fly properly, they need even greater vigilance, but within a few days of the fledging of the first brood a second nest will (in many cases) be ready and the process in full swing over again. All this has to be done in face of great practical difficulties by two creatures, with little strength and not much intelligence, both of whom may have been hatched only the season before.

    Here, too, organized behavior reflects the interests and needs, the perception, and the future requirements, of agents carrying out highly effective, end-directed activity. To be sure, the bird is not consciously reflecting upon its situation. But...we make sense of what happens by interpreting it as a series of reasonable responses to the bird’s ever-changing life context — all in the light of its own ends. While we cannot view the bird as inferring, deducing, and deciding, it is nevertheless recognizing and responding to elements of significance in its environment. There is a continual and skillful adjustment to a perceived surround that is never twice the same surround.
    Steve Talbott, Evolution and the Purposes of Life
  • tim wood
    9k
    I accept the description as given. But likely you even better than the author can see problems with any claims made about the bird's behavior - even with the author's own caveats in the second paragraph.

    I was after clear signs of just plain intelligence, a measure of humor added - videos of examples of which number in the thousands on Youtube.
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    Can the Universe be ordered without being animated by purpose? Do you see the difference? Purpose and reason seem to suggest A purpose and A reason. That is , a realism in which things works according to a certain scheme , a particular content of meaning. By contrast , it could be that the universe is ordered in the sense that it changes with respect to itself in a way that is profoundly intimate. What makes this unfolding ordered is not an assigned purpose, but the lack of arbitrary content violently polarizing its movement in one direction or another.Joshs
    Humans, more than most animals, are "animated by purpose". But the universe, as a whole system, is structured by Logic. That mathematical Logic is arithmetical, in that various threads of causation always add-up to a single global effect. Hence, the world may have an "assigned" (teleological) Purpose, but no-one knows what that final summation will be. Yet, humans, animated by their own motives, infer and impute various "schemes" to the world, to the World Mind.

    Since we live in the middle of the Cosmic "life-span", the beginning and end are remote and vague. And, since causation interacts with itself --- action & reaction --- the "unfolding" can seem to be random & chaotic. So, humans like to impose their own purposes in order to "polarize" its path in their chosen direction. Nevertheless, Evolution --- to unroll like a scroll --- gradually reveals that which was inscrutable until actualized. And many evolutionists interpret that scroll as a story moving toward a denoument or coda. Some have proposed that rational homo sapiens must be the acme of evolution. Others, propose that logical artificial entities will eventually inherit the Earth. Presumably, their programming God looks like a robot.

    Like most mysteries though, The End is obscured by misdirection, and the Purpose will only be revealed when all threads are tied-up in the final scene. Meanwhile, we will have to be content with incompletely informed prognostication ; which is "difficult, especially if it's about the future". :smile:
  • javra
    2.5k
    The questions here are, then, what is purpose (in itself), where does it come from, what is its ground? Or, what exactly gives it all meaning, makes it all worthwhile?tim wood

    As to what purpose is, I here take it to be that end for the sake of which an action, else movement, occurs or for the sake of which something is—with the latter (things) being subsumed by the former (processes) in any process theory.

    That said, for the kick of it, I’ll offer an extremely pithy premise regarding the universal purpose of biological evolution—within which context our own individual cognitive purposes unfold—which I’d love to see falsified on either logical or empirical grounds:

    • The steadfast global purpose to the evolution of life is that of life’s optimal conformity to that which is actual and, hence, real. *

    For better clarity, this irrespective of the detailed means, e.g. via optimal biological fitness relative to individuals and groups, via occurrences of genetic drift, and via the many almost innumerable other detailed means by which biological evolution is currently known to occur. Adaptation to an ever-changing world then being one less abstract facet of this just stated purposeful process. Such that that life which sufficiently deviates from optimal conformity to what is actual/real ceases to be while the life forms which maintains such optimal conformity to what is actual/real persevere.

    ------

    * As to some of this pithily expressed premise’s implications: The same relationship of “conformity to that which is real/actual” can well also adequately define the attribute of truth—such that when this conformity becomes complete, hence absolute (here tentatively entertaining the hypothetical that it in principle can), life then obtains a state of being wherein truth and reality/actuality become one and the same: here maybe better expresses as “Truth” with capital “T”. Also of note, as it’s been just specified, this global purpose of life will then occur in the absence of any superlative ego’s (i.e., God’s) so intending things to be—with the very notion of a purposing God being superfluous to the state of affairs specified (a God who'd furthermore also need to be subject to some end in order to act purposely, different issue though this is)—instead, here purpose in the form of ultimately becoming one with global Truth is a staple aspect of existence; i.e., it becomes a brute fact of the world. So, in a likewise somewhat informal expression, the purpose of life is here taken to be that of not only eventually discovering the quintessentially genuine (“true” in this sense) actuality/reality of being itself but of also becoming one with it. Add some measure of indeterminacy and free will into the equation and, we via our own freely willed choices then (at least at times) stand in the way of this grand end being actualized, or at least further approached; this, for one example, by preferring fictitious accounts of what is and of what will be over truths regarding the same (truths which at times can be at least initially unpleasant to accept). Other implications could then follow, such as the provision of why lies in general are to be deemed bad: they further the whole from the very end here addressed (which I might add could also be labeled as "the Good").

    All that said—with all these implications being not perfectly expressed—what I’m primarily curious about is, again, any valid argument against the pithy premise regarding the global purpose of life (this via the analysis of biological evolution’s purpose/end) which was previously specified.

    P.s., While I’m anticipating some degree of discord on the matter if I’m at all replied to, I likely won’t be around to reply for a number of days.

    [edit: some typo's corrected]
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    I was after clear signs of just plain intelligencetim wood

    Birds and other animals surely exhibit intentional behaviour. What they don’t exhibit is the rational, abstract and meta-cognitive awareness of h. sapiens. But the excerpt shows how intentional, purposeful acts don't necesssarily require the latter and that intentionality has a much broader scope than what we think of as conscious intentionality.

    The steadfast global purpose to the evolution of life is that of life’s optimal conformity to that which is actual and, hence, real.javra

    :100: I've been reading about the ideal of the mind's conformity with actuality and the distinction between 'conforms with' and 'corresponds to'. Compare with the Platonic principle 'to be, is to be intelligible.' See Eric D Perl Thinking Being.
  • javra
    2.5k
    :100: I've been reading about the ideal of the mind's conformity with actuality and the distinction between 'conforms with' and 'corresponds to'. Compare with the Platonic principle 'to be, is to be intelligible.' See Eric D Perl Thinking Being.Wayfarer

    Thank you kindly. Yes, though in some ways subtle, I find the distinction quite important, both ontologically and epistemologically - in many ways related to the notion of forms/eidoi and their relation of either accordance/harmony or the converse (whereby conflict occurs in some measure). Thumbs up to the Platonic principle you quote.

    I've so far gotten a "404 not found" in the link. I'll check back in later.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    I'll check back in later.javra

    Sorry about that, wrongly transcribed, here it is again https://www.gornahoor.net/library/ThinkingBeing.pdf

    I am mainly interested in the chapter on Plato. He shows where the predominant interpretation of the nature of the ideas or forms goes wrong.
  • tim wood
    9k
    Birds and other animals surely exhibit intentional behaviour. What they don’t exhibit is the rational, abstract and meta-cognitive awareness of h. sapiens. But the excerpt shows how intentional, purposeful acts don't necessarily require the latter and that intentionality has a much broader scope than what we think of as conscious intentionality.Wayfarer
    I'm of two minds on using "intention." Informally, sure. Formally, not so sure. It is as much as said that the animal's behaviour "intends" while the animal itself cannot. - and that doesn't make a lot of sense.

    Now to be sure, I hold and agree that lots of animals can intend and learn, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. And there's too much evidence to deny that most animals have a quality of life. But we also learned that some animal behaviour is "hard-wired," instinctual - I do not know if that is still a valid viewpoint - and if so, then it seems fair to ask at such times what exactly is doing the intending or what it even means.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.8k
    Humans, more than most animals, are "animated by purpose".Gnomon

    This is debatable. Humans, with intellect and will, provide themselves the freedom to choose from a multitude of options in their activities. Animals seem to be driven towards very specific goals, without the capacity to choose. Each is "animated by purpose", and I do not see how you could argue one is more so than the other.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    we also learned that some animal behaviour is "hard-wired," instinctual - I do not know if that is still a valid viewpoint - and if so, then it seems fair to ask at such times what exactly is doing the intending or what it even means.tim wood

    I agree that it’s a very murky question, but I think there’s something fishy about it too. Sorry about the mixed metaphor, but speaking of murky and fishy, but a story that’s fascinated me is the account of the long-finned eels in Sydney’s Centennial Park. They live in murky ponds in the middle of said park, which is quite a few kilometres from the ocean. But every so often, at night and when it’s very wet, they’ll begin a migratory trek through a route that takes them across open parkland into some ponds connected to Sydney’s Botany Bay (hence their preference for wet evenings). And then they’ll make their way to a deep ocean trench near New Caledonia, which is about 1,800 km from Sydney, to breed. Their larval offspring then drift around for a few years, becoming elvers, and then when reaching their adult form, will make their way back to Sydney’s Centennial Park - even though they, as individuals, have never been there. But they know. Instinct, I guess.

    There are many examples of migrating animals doing things like this - Pacific Salmon (or is it Atlantic? Whatever), who make their way back to their home stream from across thousands of miles of ocean. Birds who fly from the Arctic to Tasmania to breed. Obviously they don’t consciously calculate anything in the way a human would, but it makes me wonder whether how well we really understand what ‘instinct’ is, and how much of nature depends on these ‘instinctive’ processes. They’re not intentional processes, in the sense that human agents understand it, So in some sense they’re ‘intentional’ but also unconscious. (Schopenhauer devotes a section of WWI to this.)

    But to try and tie this back to some of the points I brought up earlier, I’m wondering if it suggests a sense in which intentionality (or ‘will’ in Schopenhauer’s sense) is manifested at the most basic level of organic life. I don’t want to say that it is, but I think it’s an interesting question, and that it relates to questions of purpose and intentionality on a larger scale than the intentional actions of conscious agents.
  • tim wood
    9k
    I knew there was a good reason I didn't live in Sydney!

    i recognize there are lots of ways to attack a problem, but at the same time it's useful to remember that the attack itself can be even entirely destructive of the ground contested. Bird migration is a mystery. Near as I can tell, we know only that a bird is here at one time, and later is very far away there, and later still here again, and there again, until for any of nature's or man's reasons it can't.

    Newton theorized that gravity was a force operating over distance (apparently himself understanding better than most this was problematic). But in terms of human travel, this is reasonable. I wish to go from Boston to San Francisco, or maybe Sydney to Perth, my destination, then, exerting a "force" That is, I can cognize my destination in reasonable ways and terms.

    But what is this for a certain hawk that makes the annual round-trip from Alaska nearly to Tierrra del Fuego? Or any other such bird? My bias is that we know what, but little or nothing about how. And until we do, descriptive language must be suspect, come with warning label attached so to peak. "Will," "intention," "knowledge," while seeming efficacious, at the same time likely misleading and of sense, destructive.

    Does a bird intend as a matter of will his purpose to be a long trip, or any trip at all? Imho such language must be abandoned as being obstructive of real understanding, as in a manner of speaking gravity is abandoned in favor of curved spacetime, hurdling in an insight all of Newton's problems.
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    Humans, more than most animals, are "animated by purpose". — Gnomon
    This is debatable. Humans, with intellect and will, provide themselves the freedom to choose from a multitude of options in their activities. Animals seem to be driven towards very specific goals, without the capacity to choose. Each is "animated by purpose", and I do not see how you could argue one is more so than the other.
    Metaphysician Undercover
    Perhaps I should have said, "human purposes are both more complex and more general than animal's simple & narrowly focused goals" . But that's a mouthful, compared with just "more than". :smile:
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    12.8k

    All eels have very interesting life cycles. They begin life in the ocean, and stay there many years, often traveling thousands of kilometers. Then they travel up fresh water rivers and streams for many more kilometers. There they stay for many years, to feed and grow. Then they head back to the ocean traveling thousands of kilometers to spawn. All the while, they metamorphose through numerous stages suited to what they are doing at the time.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    I knew there was a good reason I didn't live in Sydney!tim wood

    Don't worry! You could live your whole life in Sydney, as I have, but never cross paths with a migrating eel. I only know about it because I read of it in the Sydney Morning Herald. (Although I have observed them stealing pieces of bread that the visitors feed to the ducks when I've visited Centennial Park.)

    My only point was to argue that the view we have that 'purpose' is solely the prerogative of conscious agents is a very narrow one.
  • creativesoul
    11.6k
    I do not limit such behaviour to people, but I do think it makes sense to speak in terms of people on the assumption that at least at first there may be greater clarity.tim wood

    Ah. Good. Thanks for clarifying.

    So, I'm curious. Do you have a bare minimum criterion for what counts and/or what it takes for any and/or all examples of giving purpose to something to count as such?

    I mean, it seems to me that if humans and other creatures can 'give things purpose' then there must be some bare minimum criterion, some basic set of common denominators/elements, which counts as such. What do all examples of a capable creature giving purpose to something include, human examples notwithstanding?

    I'm concerned that focusing upon only human examples could lead us away from the more basic ones. It seems to me that our criterion regarding what counts as the most basic outline of 'giving purpose' needs to be perfectly capable of bridging the gap between the language less animals' cases and our own.
  • tim wood
    9k
    So, I'm curious. Do you have a bare minimum criterion for what counts and/or what it takes for any and/or all examples of giving purpose to something to count as such?creativesoul
    An excellent question! I had to read it more than once to understand what you were asking. Not, what are the minima for a purpose to be a purpose, but rather, as you have already granted that purpose is granted, given, assigned, what is the least that a grantor does that establishes the purpose as a purpose? I assume, here, that grantor and grantee can be the same person.

    And it seems to me that absent articulation and communication, there can be no purpose. Or, expressible and expressed. And it seems just that simple, between grantor and grantee.

    But this may, can, and does present problems for an observer. He may suppose purpose where there is none, none where there is at least one, and where there is at least one, he or she may very well misinterpret it or fail entirely to understand it. Example: a man entering an office is gestured to a chair and invited to sit down. And here a small constellation of purposes that would be simple though tedious to lay out. Now suppose exactly the same scene, but the man entering is blind. This a different set of purposes! The blind man might well say to himself that he would like to sit down, but first he had better find the chair and then orient himself to it.

    And here enters the notion of incremental purpose (not to be confused with subordinate purposes), which may elude the observer entirely. The sighted man articulates his purpose as to to take a seat in the chair, probably without giving any thought to his subordinate purposes of moving his feet and legs in a coordinated alternation to the chair and then sitting down. Rather he's got it all plump in one step, or one purpose.

    But the blind man cannot do that. His progress is necessarily incremental - and so forth. And if the observer doesn't get it, then his testimony is worthless with respect to any purpose of the blind man, except perhaps his final purpose, which by the time he gets to it, may only merely resemble the sighted man's purpose without being quite the same.

    For brevity's sake, I leave to you filling in the gaps, here, and understanding the caveats about attributing, as an observer, purpose.

    And what that leaves, in many cases where purpose is the topic, is the question as to exactly what for the purposes of the discussion purpose is - and then writing down that answer and not forgetting it.

    .
  • creativesoul
    11.6k
    So, I'm curious. Do you have a bare minimum criterion for what counts and/or what it takes for any and/or all examples of giving purpose to something to count as such?
    — creativesoul
    An excellent question! I had to read it more than once to understand what you were asking. Not, what are the minima for a purpose to be a purpose, but rather, as you have already granted that purpose is granted, given, assigned...
    tim wood

    My apologies. The scarequotes implied uncertainty on my part. You used the terms. I indicated my own trepidation of that use by using scarequotes. That was a way of mentioning without assent.
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