• mcdoodle
    984
    I'd be interested in hearing more about this series of steps. I can kind of see it with respect to the syllogism, and it certainly fits Aristotle's patterns of thought, but I'm wondering how you relate that back to habituation and rule-following. Like, there's a series of habits which build good character and develops phronesis?Moliere

    I only meant the steps in some sort of process of inference.

    I do think that in say bike-riding we learn a series of steps, until by repetition we don't even think about the steps, we 'just do it'. So knowing-how is built up from knowing-why. Our reasoning is built into things we have learnt to do automatically, like making tea or feeding the cat. It's hidden in familiar acts.

    Sometimes I think the rule-following bit is a bit more a convenience of the world we live in and a product of our educational systems. It's easier to govern large swathes of people who are accustomed to hierarchy and authority.Moliere

    Just to use language, though, as an example, is an example of rule-following. Our carers teach us over and over again until we get it. Then we become so habituated to it that we forget we once learnt to follow rules to do all this saying and hearing. We are rule-following animals. The authoritarians use this fact about us to inculcate their ways into us. But left to myself I learn, say, a route to a place, and then I take that same route over and over, sometimes in defiance of people who tell me about rationally better routes: I know my route, I trust it, I'm safe along it.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    Just to use language, though, as an example, is an example of rule-following. Our carers teach us over and over again until we get it. Then we become so habituated to it that we forget we once learnt to follow rules to do all this saying and hearing. We are rule-following animals. The authoritarians use this fact about us to inculcate their ways into us. But left to myself I learn, say, a route to a place, and then I take that same route over and over, sometimes in defiance of people who tell me about rationally better routes: I know my route, I trust it, I'm safe along it.mcdoodle

    I think you have the better way of putting it. Good point with language-learning, something which is certainly prior to authoritarian structures.

    I think this notion of safety and trust is close to habit. So we might change our route if we care about something more than our familiar and safe and trustworthy patterns have thus far proven comfortable -- perhaps there's a new shop along another route, or we find the standard route becoming congested with traffic. In a sense this is perfectly rational -- I have in mind, if someone were to tell you a shorter way of getting somewhere, that while if you cared about saving time then it would make sense to try it, but given that you care about familiarity you're being more rational by following the same route than by adhering to some other standard that falls outside of your care.

    I only meant the steps in some sort of process of inference.mcdoodle

    Got it.

    I do think that in say bike-riding we learn a series of steps, until by repetition we don't even think about the steps, we 'just do it'. So knowing-how is built up from knowing-why. Our reasoning is built into things we have learnt to do automatically, like making tea or feeding the cat. It's hidden in familiar acts.

    Reason is "baked in", so to speak. There's a series of events or lessons or steps that are reflected upon, but then through repetition the awareness of those steps sinks into the body and stops being something
    reflected upon.

    This is interesting too -- rather than looking at reason as a series of rules or norms for thinking, this seems to cast reasoning as whatever takes place in the process of learning, and the motivation (know-why) for such learning to take place.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k


    I like the bike example. You can spend time watching people ride a bike, you can pick up a book and read all about how a bike works, and you can touch and feel a bike but until you try, and you learn how to ride a bike you cannot say you know what it means to ride a bike.

    Similar to the Mary's Room thought experiment. Mary can learn all about the color red while in her white room, but until she gets out in real world an experiences the color red, she can't be said to know the color red.
  • mcdoodle
    984
    All this being said, though, we return to your original question:

    How do appeals to practical reason work?Moliere

    It feels as if the premisses count a lot, but only given that we have some kind of mutual agreement that syllogism-style steps are reasonable.

    If the steps are accepted, what *matters* to the person appealed to has to be found and invoked, otherwise the superficially rational argument falls on stony ground. (As someone who has spent many hours as a Green candidate or advocate failing to persuade voters of the merits of my case, I believe I have some experience of this stony ground) We have to find at least a mutually-common premiss to get anywhere. This zone is where many rational-seeming people trying to appeal to what they regard as practical reason get stuck. They get frustrated or angry that others don't get their argument. They are apt to think others are being 'irrational' when it may be that they are coming at it from different presuppositions.

    Phronetic explanations seem to need to satisfy both explainer and the explained-to. I'm interested in medical diagnosis in this context. Doctors/nurses need a conclusion as much as a patient does. Sometimes then a the invocation of a so-called 'syndrome', or some other way of just summarising symptoms, masquerades as a diagnosis when in honesty it falls short. To name symptoms well is an important step, but it isn't a diagnosis that can lead to a prognosis. It is however somehow satisfying in lieu of the meaningful.
  • mcdoodle
    984
    Similar to the Mary's Room thought experiment. Mary can learn all about the color red while in her white room, but until she gets out in real world an experiences the color red, she can't be said to know the color red.Cavacava

    Many decades ago I was between homes and only had an old black-and-white tv set on which to watch snooker which has multi-coloured balls. I came to learn which was a red ball (there are a lot of them in snooker) but I didn't through the telly experience redness. I am never quite sure I accept Jackson's notion that you can 'learn all about the colour red' without experiencing redness. But I quite take your comparison.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    If the steps are accepted, what *matters* to the person appealed to has to be found and invoked, otherwise the superficially rational argument falls on stony ground. (As someone who has spent many hours as a Green candidate or advocate failing to persuade voters of the merits of my case, I believe I have some experience of this stony ground)mcdoodle

    Heh. That strikes a chord with me. I've experienced the stony ground before, too.

    This kind of reminds me of the parable of the sower.

    We have to find at least a mutually-common premiss to get anywhere. This zone is where many rational-seeming people trying to appeal to what they regard as practical reason get stuck. They get frustrated or angry that others don't get their argument. They are apt to think others are being 'irrational' when it may be that they are coming at it from different presuppositions.

    Phronetic explanations seem to need to satisfy both explainer and the explained-to.

    That's a good point. One of the things in the back of my mind while reading your reply was the thought of organizing. There's a school of organizing which treats the organizer as a kind of enlightened individual who knows what people want better than they do. What's more is that, doing enough organizing, sometimes it's even true that you know what people want more than what they do given certain practical circumstances that the people you organize are usually unaware of.

    So you can easily convince yourself of your enlightened cred.

    But this sort of relationship usually omits the organizer from being satisfied by some explanation. The organizer acts in a professional capacity to serve the people explicitly and only. And explanations no longer really act like appeals at that stage -- they are what people want to hear, and they move them to the best outcome given the circumstances, but there is a hard asymmetry between the organizer and the organized. Similar to the patient and the analyst, actually. (not sure about doctor, though. Maybe at one point, but the medical field seems to have incorporated patient input into their practice, from my cursory glance)

    That is, there are no explanations or appeals, they are tools to move people thus and so.

    But having that double requirement sort of gives a golden mean between two points -- on the one hand, the problem of rational people that you highlight. And then on the other hand, the problem of assymetric knowledge or status. Both, in a sense, are a deficiency in being able to listen, just from different reasons -- one is too wrapped up in their own reasoning, and the other is too wrapped up in an "objective" theoretical construct of the Other's reasoning. But the mean would have us listen to an Other, and find common ground in order to build what could reasonably count as rational phronetic explanations or reasons.

    I'm interested in medical diagnosis in this context. Doctors/nurses need a conclusion as much as a patient does. Sometimes then a the invocation of a so-called 'syndrome', or some other way of just summarising symptoms, masquerades as a diagnosis when in honesty it falls short. To name symptoms well is an important step, but it isn't a diagnosis that can lead to a prognosis. It is however somehow satisfying in lieu of the meaningful.

    Taking the medical "analogy" to the next step, eh? :D

    That's cool. Maybe I should delve more deeply into that area.

    In my mind I'm sort of trying to work out what it would be to make an appeal as equals, though clearly there are always going to be asymmetries of some sort too just through natural ability.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    A quick summation of necessary conditions thus far:


    Emotional attachment or motivation (know-why)

    Shared beliefs or commitments to which appeals can be made or made from.

    The belief that a speaker is someone who is worth listening to.

    The explanation must satisfy both the spoken-to and the speaker.

    Experience in the area under consideration (like riding a bike -- you wouldin't listen to the Mary of bike-riding, studious though she is, you would be more likely to listen to the person who has ridden a bike quite often)
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    I think there are probably limits to practical reasoning. I'd be interested in understanding the limitations of reason as it is applied to our practical lives. So rather than how does it work, I'd be asking when does practical reason work? When doesn't it work? And when should it and shouldn't it?Moliere

    The way I see it ''practical'' reasoning is a slave to our nature. Reason applied to satisfy our desires. ''Practical'' reason is like money - a means to achieve ends. The rules of logic apply though and apart from some fallacies logic is used to achieve goals whatever they may be.

    ''Philosophical'' reasoning has one more responsibility - that of finding good desires to apply our logic to.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    I'm not sure what you intend with your quotes. I'm just noting that.

    I view reasoning as an activity that humans can do. So rather than looking at it as a tool, it's really more of a power -- we don't use reason like we use a hammer. We use reason like we use seeing -- it can be put to multiple functions, some of which aren't exactly bound to desire in an ends-means relationship. Rather, we are motivated to do something -- reasoning comes out of or flows forth from emotion or motivation. It is something of an art, really. It can be taught and developed, as one develops one's ability to paint or act.

    So the when, from my perspective at least, comes about when reason ceases to be the best art to practice. Sometimes we should be poets, and sometimes we should be reasoners. But when is it best to reason? And when does it get in the way?
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    Actually that does set off my thinking a bit -- thinking of reasoning as an art. Exactly like learning to make art -- Doesn't reasoning sort of work in the same way? To be susceptible to a justification one would have to care about reasoning, and to care about it one would have to be able to do it. We can all doodle a stick-man, but we cannot all paint a landscape. We are all quite able to remain rooted in our upbringing, and cling to beliefs. We can supply reasons for our beliefs. But we are not all able to think through our beliefs, find inconsistencies, let go of beliefs, and entertain new thoughts without commitment while building arguments that would support said beliefs.

    (There's something of the imagination at work in this.)

    For a justification to work we would have to have some kind of familiarity with the art of reasoning, to trust that reasoning can help, to be able to sort good reasons from bad ones, and have some sort of practice in making judgments of this sort.
  • TheMadFool
    2.3k
    But when is it best to reason? And when does it get in the way?Moliere

    Never say never or always. It's a known fact that nothing is applicable for all cases - there usually is an exception. For instance I find reason inappropriate for morality. Proof? People call the good ''naive''. In other words it's foolish to be good in the world as it turns now. Strangely, it's reason that makes us see just that. Confusing!
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    On philosophy:

    Philosophy pushes the boundaries of sense. With new philosophy new concepts or ways of thinking are explored. If it were always bound by teleology then philosophy would almost just be the engineering of the mind, trying to make better inferences, clearer explications, or more certain truths.

    Simultaneously if philosophy were not bound to reason then it begins to look too much like other activities -- like writing poetry or prose, politics, proselytizing, self expression, or simply writing a journal. It loses what has been an enduring quality of philosophical writing -- appeals that, in principle, are evaluable on the basis that they are made rationally or for reason to consider.

    Or, in the case of medical philosophies, reason was being put to use in the service of said medical desires or needs.


    So I'm tempted to call philosophy proper the art of reasoning, where the teleological structure of reason is temporarily suspended and concepts are created out of the principles of reasoning itself. So we can follow an argument or make an argument or some such, just as a painter can paint a representation of a street or a person. It's still art to do so. But the suspension of goals or representation (for reason and painting, respectively) creates a kind of play with the principles themselves -- hence the art of reason, or the art of painting. There's even a play in just putting the principles to use, in setting up a picture just so, or coming up with a story or example that fits just right to some general principle or argument being made.

    but the key thing I'm trying to resolve here is the claim that reason is teleologically structured, philosophy is entirely useless (but valuable), and philosophy is inextricable from reason.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    So I'm tempted to call philosophy proper the art of reasoning, where the teleological structure of reason is temporarily suspended and concepts are created out of the principles of reasoning itself. So we can follow an argument or make an argument or some such, just as a painter can paint a representation of a street or a person. It's still art to do so. But the suspension of goals or representation (for reason and painting, respectively) creates a kind of play with the principles themselves -- hence the art of reason, or the art of painting. There's even a play in just putting the principles to use, in setting up a picture just so, or coming up with a story or example that fits just right to some general principle or argument being made.

    but the key thing I'm trying to resolve here is the claim that reason is teleologically structured, philosophy is entirely useless (but valuable), an


    Disinterest applies to art as well as it does to reason. The beauty in art does not depend on any pleasure referenced by the work. Beauty lies in the extrinsic relationship between form and matter in the work, which drive our intrinsic judgement of taste. Beauty lies in the play between form and matter, but this play of the senses is non conceptual. It only becomes conceptual because we can universalize (idealization) the particular thereby expanding our conception of what is beautiful.

    The formal principles (form) of action are either hypothetical or categorical imperatives, where a hypothetical imperative is instrumental in achieving a useful end, a categorical imperative formalizes the sense of duty which we intend/legislate as a reasonable principle (matter) of our action to serve as if ( Play) a universal law of reason. Kant's moral philosophy as in art also universalizes the particular. He based the motivation for our actions in our sense of duty ( as the product of the absolute freedom of our will which must be assumed for morality to exist) in which reason also must be disinterested in its moral pursuit.
  • mcdoodle
    984
    What art or skill are we using when we unpick assumptions or presuppositions? When we question, say, why a rule is a rule? I think it’s fair to say the outcome is the result of practical reasoning, but it’s hard to be clear what that involves. Sometimes an imaginative leap is required. An imaginative leap isn’t reasoning, exactly. It sometimes enables clearer reasoning. Oddly for me an imaginative leap in an argument feels like the same sort of thing as when I’ve been struggling over a song or story I’m trying to write then seem to envisage a solution. Suddenly the problem has a different shape, to which different parameters apply. Now I can reason / sing / fictionalise anew.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    I definitely feel like picking through a problem has a similar feel to struggling with some work of art. There is a kind of leap in coming to a novel solution, one that involves the imagination at work -- and also in working out the implications of said leap.

    I think trying to frame it in terms of how is better just because I agree that it is very hard to be clear on what is involved. But I think it's a little easier to say how -- like the elements and principles of visual art. They don't really specify what art is, they're just general guidelines for how to think about art in order to make art. And true mastery of an art often involves the intentional breaking of those guidelines. But that only comes with thousands of hours of practice.

    So maybe the conditions I listed are a bit too clinical -- as seen from the outside, based upon examples of practical reasoning, rather than ways of thinking through a practical problem.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    I think I would put it that disinterest can apply to art as it does to reason.

    While I think that Kant is closer to Hume than traditional readings tend to render him, I will say that he doesn't allow for many motivations inside of his account of practical reason. He also is primarily interested in practical reason in its moral sense, and I don't think that's quite right. Insofar as we are deliberating about action then I'd say that practical reason is being applied or appealed to. But a lot of our actions are not strictly moral, especially in a deontological sense. Plus it seems to me that we can be motivated by more than respect even within moral deliberation, and especially in ethical deliberation.

    Disinterest, as I see it, would apply in cases where advice is being given by some trusted person. So a priest, a counselor, a friend, a mentor, or something along those lines.

    But then we can also use reason to our own benefit. While there is something good to be said about not being caught up by certain passions, we are passionate beings. And reasoning about our own well-being is anything but disinterested, even in the specific Kantian sense.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    I know that it sounds outlandish -- but I think that there is something worthwhile in acting in developing practical reason.

    There is something important learned in thinking through a character or role -- you have to develop motivations which may not be your own, you have to think from the perspective of a total other while being able to relate to that other just enough to make it come to life, and you have to do more than just think through said relation -- you have to embody this other person, and in a sense -- if only temporarily and within the confines of an art -- become them. By playing tragic roles, comedic roles, and things in-between (even two dimensional roles, at times) you get a feel for the human being in practice without the total effects on your actual life.

    While there is more to consider in play acting than just these considerations (such as making an entertaining play, or standing in a way that you can be seen), there is something about others that comes to light in taking on them as if they were yourself, and not just in fantasy but in a way that it is at least believable in a play acting setting.

    I also don't want to overemphasize the art in terms of practical reason. We can get lost in fantasy. But such is also the case even when dealing with real problems in our life. I think acting just helps in being able to step outside yourself, just a little bit, and even come to understand yourself a little better as you make comparisons, distinctions, and relations to something that is not ourself.
  • Arne
    295
    It would seem that appeals to emotion are pertinent. If we feel nothing then how could we make a decision?Moliere

    I like that. To some degree (perhaps a significant degree) emotions do tell us what matters to us. And of course what matters to us contributes to deciding which issues get our attention.
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