• StreetlightX
    2.9k
    It also strikes me how the last thread on baseless speculations and the BIV offers us an example of said transcendantal stupidity.Akanthinos

    Let's just say - because I have no desire to talk about brains in vats - that the idea for this thread did not develop in a vaccum. :eyes:

    An answer can be true, and yet be entirely so vulgar as to be less compelling than a known lie. A sophisticated falsehood might actually be the best tool at hand to deal with how we relate to the world (in my case I always come back to how filled with fictions and falsehoods the legal system is, and how better off it is for it).

    ...Having to mount serious intellectual defenses against every baseless speculation encountered seems both counterintuitive and counterproductive. You should not feel compelled to offer a serious rebuke to a string of non-sensical sounds, why should you act differently simply because in another occasion you are offered a proposition which can be interpreted in your language? Baseless is not wrong, per say.
    Akanthinos

    Yeah, I think this is important to acknowledge: to recognize motivated and non-arbitrary discourse is not to pit it against truth; the point is rather to make truth do work, to give truths a discourse or set of discourses in which their significance and impact could be rightly assessed. Absent this, truths are simply homeless, their significance unassailable and closed to rational engagement. Those who think that truth and falsity exhaust the means of evaluation undermine truth itself: they sap the very ground from which to understand the significance of truth - they are relativists pretending to be otherwise.
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k


    There's a fundamental difference between the "origin of fossils and the causes of climate change" and something like philosophical propositions. The theories about climate change or fossil origin are based on empirically verifiable evidence, they both ultimately rely on something which we widely agree on the measurement of and (if they're good theories) they will make predictions which we widely agree on the measurement of. The 'rightness' of a theory about bridge-building is attested to by the ability of a bridge built according to that theory, to hold traffic. No one watches it fall down and claims it a success, no one believes that bridges are 'supposed' to fall down, that being the aim all along. To be honest, teaching English as a language falls more into this camp, the ability to correctly use terms being somewhat widely agreed on. But no similar wide agreement exists for arts and philosophy. There are those for whom Shakespeare does nothing, there are those (Schopenhauer comes to mind) for whom Hegel wrote nothing but mystical nonsense). Any idea that someone can recognise quality thought in these fields by some universal metric is clearly nonsense.

    I've no doubt at all that there is a body of work supporting the theory behind judging ESL success. Not having read any of it, I wouldn't presume to comment on it so will confine my comment to a theoretical example.

    Who is it that will have developed and refined it, and by what measure will they have identified a need for refinement? What would it 'not working' look like such that it could be recognised as being in need of refinement? If any of these things involved some external empirical fact, then it falls into the camp of fossils and climate change, if all of these considerations are measures 'in house' by a group whose membership criteria consist solely of being judged by the very metrics they're supposedly refining, then the whole system is self-immunised almost by definition.

    Why post then if your position is it's impossible to judge the difference between a good and a bad argument on its own terms?Baden

    Why I post is a long answer most would be entirely uninterested in, suffice to say it is not with the intention of persuading others by virtue of the universal quality of my argument. I'd have thought five minutes spent reading the threads here would be enough to convince anyone of the futility of such an enterprise.

    But your argument is the one that's self-immunizing by continuously conflating any form of judgment with personal preference.Baden

    I'm not seeing how that makes it self-immunised, perhaps you could expand on this.

    judgements occur in a context in which they are intregrated into a system that is standardized and monitored and based on educational theory not to mention the individual's experience in the field, so it's not simply a case of what seems right.Baden

    None of this prevents it from being simply a case of what 'seems right'. If you create a group of people, the selection criteria for which is agreement on a particular intuition, then ask them to collaborate on a standardised theory, you will end up with a theory which expresses exactly the intuitions the holding of which was a selection criteria for the group in the first place.

    Get a group of people together who all like red and ask them to come up with a method of judging colour, they will collectively come up with a system which puts red at the top.

    At this point I don't even know what your positive criticism is. That there should be no level of intuitive judgment at all with regard to so-called "transcendental stupidity"? In which case, for example, university essays could be marked by computers (and I can explain to you how that would be impossibly inaccurate and unfair if you like.). Or you just don't like the name? Or you don't think it exists at all? Or something like it exists, but not in the form described by Street, or what?Baden

    Yes, basically I do not see a method for discerning that which is not 'transcendentaly stupid' in fields such as art and metaphysics which does not simply reinforce the subjective views of a particular group.
  • StreetlightX
    2.9k
    The problem is simply that Psuedonuym has an incredibly blinkered view of not just philosophy, but - as it turns out - of basic argument in general, which he thinks can and should only be judged on the basis of truth - the 'empirically verifiable'. Absent any basic instinct for how rational arguments can be and are evaluated on their own terms, the only alternative he thinks there is is 'personal preference' and 'self-immunised selection'. But the rudimentary failure of imagination and pragmatics on his part circumscribes even what he thinks the alternatives are; the entire terrain of his thought is wrong. At this point I doubt it can be helped. He literally doesn't know what he's talking about.
  • Baden
    6.6k
    There's a fundamental difference between the "origin of fossils and the causes of climate change" and something like philosophical propositions. The theories about climate change or fossil origin are based on empirically verifiable evidence, they both ultimately rely on something which we widely agree on the measurement of and (if they're good theories) they will make predictions which we widely agree on the measurement of. The 'rightness' of a theory about bridge-building is attested to by the ability of a bridge built according to that theory, to hold traffic. No one watches it fall down and claims it a success, no one believes that bridges are 'supposed' to fall down, that being the aim all along. To be honest, teaching English as a language falls more into this camp, the ability to correctly use terms being somewhat widely agreed on. But no similar wide agreement exists for arts and philosophy. There are those for whom Shakespeare does nothing, there are those (Schopenhauer comes to mind) for whom Hegel wrote nothing but mystical nonsense). Any idea that someone can recognise quality thought in these fields by some universal metric is clearly nonsense.Pseudonym

    That's a strawman. We all know there's a difference between science and the arts in terms of empirical verification etc. The analogy I was making was based directly on the pedagogical example given, but more importantly on the recognition of the difference between arbitrary judgment and critical analysis as carried out by anyone seeking to recognize poor thinking of the sort here dubbed "transcendental stupidity". Do you recognize the distinction or not? (Judging from what you wrote, I guess not.)

    Who is it that will have developed and refined it, and by what measure will they have identified a need for refinement? What would it 'not working' look like such that it could be recognised as being in need of refinement? If any of these things involved some external empirical fact, then it falls into the camp of fossils and climate change, if all of these considerations are measures 'in house' by a group whose membership criteria consist solely of being judged by the very metrics they're supposedly refining, then the whole system is self-immunised almost by definition.Pseudonym

    We're already veering off topic, and going into the specifics of pedagogical theory would be taking it too far (and I have my own off-topic criticisms of that in any case). Again, the fundamental distinction between arbitrary feelings and critical identification of poor thinking at some level is all I intended to get you to recognize.

    Yes, basically I do not see a method for discerning that which is not 'transcendentaly stupid' in fields such as art and metaphysics which does not simply reinforce the subjective views of a particular group.Pseudonym

    I don't see the attraction of a philosophy forum for you then. The interest for most people here is, I would suppose, in making exactly the kinds of judgments you seem to deem impossible.



    I am sensing an impasse here...
  • Baden
    6.6k
    (@Pseudonym To clarify, no-one is holding up a completely objective universal metric here by which to make these judgements but supporting the idea that nevertheless some level of judgement can be made and agreed upon (even in philosophy and the arts). Otherwise arguing over anything in those areas would be nonsensical.)

    Edit: Put it another way, a lower level of certainty does not indicate complete arbitrariness or a waste of time. The interest is in finding platforms of rationality on which to raise the limited level of certainty the fields in question provide.
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k
    That's a strawman. We all know there's a difference between science and the arts in terms of empirical verification etc.Baden

    The relevance of that division is not the empirical vetification (that is simply the definition of the division) it is who is doing the verification. The significance is that an aspiring engineering student, or a user of engineering can both see for themselves that their theories (or those they make use of) are better than those which are discarded. Only the engineer might understand why the bridge stays up, but anyone can see that it stays up and that it is intended to do so.

    So what differentiates philosophy (of this sort, T-philosophy, as Horwich calls it) and fine art, is not that only the experts are able to judge why the theory works, but only they are considered able to judge that it works.

    To reiterate (perhaps labour) the point. No one sane is going to accept a bridge which does not transport something across a gap without collapsing, they do not need to be told they are wrong to accept such a product, it is self evident. If someone wishes, however, to talk about the idea that we might be brains in a vat (the topic which, let's face it, prompted this latest version), they must be told that their ideas are 'transcendentaly stupid' it is not self evident because they simply don't work, so if they're not poor because they don't work, then why are they poor? All that seems to be left is that they do not fit an arbitrary set of judgements. I don't see the fact that this set of judgements had been long-ruminated on being a saviour of its authenticity.

    Basically, I get that you're trying to describe a distinction between arbitrary personal judgement and critical identification of poor thinking which is not yet as objective as empirical vetification. What I don't get is what makes you think that. What structural or empirical basis are you using to determine that such a process is possible, because it sounds like just wishful thinking.

    I don't see the attraction of a philosophy forum for you then. The interest for most people here is, I would suppose, in making exactly the kinds of judgments you seem to deem impossible.Baden

    One of my academic interests is in how people hold and defend belief, particularly in relation to group dynamics. I think my interest here should be obvious from that without me having to spell it out? As to the interest of most people here, I would say the empirical evidence on group behaviour very much opposes your view. Most people are here to reinforce beliefs which confer membership of the social group to which they wish to belong.
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k
    The problem is simply that Psuedonuym has an incredibly blinkered view of not just philosophy, but - as it turns out - of basic argument in general, which he thinks can and should only be judged on the basis of truth - the 'empirically verifiable'.StreetlightX

    Not at all. I think the judgement of argument can be made on its effect. If I wish to argue that eating pigs is wrong, the success of my argument is clearly how many people stop eating pigs. Judging philosophy itself, however, (by which I presume you mean judging philosophical propositions, not the subject as a whole) has not similar consequential measure. I suppose if the purpose were to popularise one's idea, then it's popularity might be s measure of its quality, but you'd have to specify a timescale. What it seems most people within these fields want to do is measure it by some intuitive sense of 'rightness' held by those who've been taught to 'see' it. I have no problem with measuring things by their similarity to an intuitive sense either. This is how folk art is measured, and to a great extent ethics, even logic and maths, as Ramsey later argued. What I dislike is the second half of that proposition. That the judgement is only carried out by those who've been taught how to 'see' it. This creates nothing but a self-immunised system of judgment. Of course it will create the appearance of consistentcy because the membership criteria in the first place require that you agree with the very criteria by which you were admitted.

    At this point I doubt it can be helped. He literally doesn't know what he's talking about.StreetlightX

    Guess I'm not in the group then?
  • Baden
    6.6k
    Basically, I get that you're trying to describe a distinction between arbitrary personal judgement and critical identification of poor thinking which is not yet as objective as empirical vetification. What I don't get is what makes you think that. What structural or empirical basis are you using to determine that such a process is possible, because it sounds like just wishful thinking.Pseudonym

    It sounds like you're asking how any judgment of quality of argument that's not empirically verifiable is possible. And then asking for an empirical verification to show that that's the case! But your criticisms of my argument already presume you're acting on the same presumption I am, and know the answer. The structure is at base, the structure of reason, which undergirds empirical verification in the first place.

    One of my academic interests is in how people hold and defend belief, particularly in relation to group dynamics. I think my interest here should be obvious from that without me having to spell it out? As to the interest of most people here, I would say the empirical evidence on group behaviour very much opposes your view. Most people are here to reinforce beliefs which confer membership of the social group to which they wish to belong.Pseudonym

    Well, I disagree. I think most people come to a philosophy forum primarily to do philosophy. And empirically based results, for example, a poll alone, won't definitively decide the answer. Theory, reason, and critique of thought would come into play.

    Anyway, I think we are at an impasse because you don't appear to want to explicitly accept regular terms of rational engagement which require us to critically analyze each other's posts in order for the conversation to be of any intellectual value. If we really are just pointlessly talking at each other in order to reinforce our beliefs and membership of etc., I suppose we've done enough of that. Really though, I think you're taking a grain of skeptical truth and trying to make a loaf out of it.
  • StreetlightX
    2.9k
    . What it seems most people within these fields want to do is measure it by some intuitive sense of 'rightness' held by those who've been taught to 'see' it.Pseudonym

    This of course is the false choice I was speaking of. And to frame it as a matter of 'in-groups' and 'out-groups' - as if it wasn't the case that literally anyone can assess arguments in a way that doesn't conform to your fake choices - even you(!), even though you seem constitutively incapable of acknowledging it at an explicit level of discourse - well, that's just more silly talk. An attempt to give moralist cover to your own incomprehension.
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k
    It sounds like you're asking how any judgment of quality of argument that's not empirically verifiable is possible. And then asking for an empirical verification to show that that's the case!Baden

    I did offer a structural option too. Basically anything other than just hoping it's the case. I'd expect to see either some empirical evidence that the judgement of the philosophical community (or any part of it) is more than just shared opinion, or some structural reason why you'd reasonably expect it to be.

    But your criticisms of my argument already presume you're acting on the same presumption I am, and know the answer. The structure is at base, the structure of reason, which undergirds empirical verification in the first place.Baden

    Maybe, but if it's so, then it is at a level that is inaccessible to both of us to nor anyone yet in history. If arguments were judgeable by reason at a level we all had access to, then why would they literally all remain unresolved? If the discussion we're having now, the arguments we're presenting, could be analysed by reason, and one or the other found wanting, then would not all such arguments have submitted to such analysis by now. It is clearly either not something subjectable to reason or something the subjection of which to reason is far too complex for the human mind to do.

    Well, I disagree. I think most people come to a philosophy forum primarily to do philosophy.Baden

    Well then you're far less cynical than I am.

    And empirically based results, for example, a poll alone, won't definitively decide the answer. Theory, reason, and critique of thought would come into play.Baden

    How convenient. Another belief inpenetrable by empirical evidence.

    you don't appear to want to explicitly accept regular terms of rational engagement which require us to critically analyze each other's posts in order for the conversation to be of any intellectual value.Baden

    I didn't say that. Claiming that chess serves no universal purpose is not equivalent to saying one does not wish to play chess.
  • StreetlightX
    2.9k
    If someone offers an analysis , then any criticism of it should address the errors and or untruths in it, and not simply arrogantly dismiss it as insignificant, irrelevant, vacuous, trivial or whatever. Along the latter way lies the tendency to fascism and political correctness (which is really fascism in disguise) inherent in the worst forms of postmodernist thought.Janus

    Just to circle back to this because I think it's important to address - as I said to @Akanthinos, there is no disjunction between truth and significance: in fact, a truth matters to any given subject matter to the degree that it has bearing upon it. This is hardly a radical sentiment! And in fact it's basically a tautology - a truth matters when it matters, and not all truths mattter in the context of addressing any particular problem. Again, if this somehow counts as 'fascism' at work, then you've stripped fascism of any coherent meaning.

    Now, one of the few points I'm trying to make is simply that the index of any truth for any particular problem must belong to the problem itself: to understand a problem, to flesh it out, is to know, minimally, what kinds of things bear upon it, what belongs to its scope and what escapes it. This is a minimal condition - not of philosophy - but of any dialogic situation: "how are you?" "I'm a human being": the minimal, positive discrimination that we make that allows us to respond "what are you talking about?" is just the condition of rational exchange. In fact we take it so much for granted that we barely notice it because we are, for the most part, enculturated humans who know how to use language.

    Thought, of course is simply no different: even to "address the errors and or untruths" in an analysis is to judge that those truths or errors as relevant to begin with: it is the very constitutive condition under which we are able to 'address the errors and or untruths' - we address them to the extent that they are relevant. To speak of transcendental stupidity - a provocative name for a rather mundane capacity that seems to have bunched up a few pairs of panties - is to simply make explicit a danger that we address - albeit mostly unconsciously - in all rational dialogue.

    In fact, the reason that pedagogy is placed front and centre in the OP is that it is precisely in explicitly pedagogic situations that this danger is most obvious: in pedagogical situations, we face contexts where we have not learnt our way about, where the contours of what is and is not significant and relevant are brought most sharply into focus. It's a common trope that master mathematicians are and can be in fact awful at what a school student might consider 'math': the mundane calculations scribbled in lined paper books; but of course what makes them masters is their knowledge of the mathematical landscape: of what techniques might be brought to bear on a particular problem, of what theorems to call upon when faced with such and such an issue - and importantly, of what approaches not to take.

    The only thing 'postmodern' is the radically stupid idea that anything goes, that anything is worth addressing, and that each and every mundanity is worth its weight in gold. To say that there are errors other than at the level of facts, that one can make mistakes of sense and significance is simply to make explicit what is implicit in all rationality, and to draw attention to it. To do otherwise, well, that is relativism, that is where one loses ones power to discriminate and otherwise engage in what literally is transcendental stupidity.
  • frank
    1.4k
    Seems to say that a fuel filter sitting in storage is stupid because it isn't in a moving car.

    But if it's a condition of thought, the advice is to make note of inherent inefficiency? Ok, but impractical musing is fun and sometimes profitable.
  • StreetlightX
    2.9k
    Ok, but impractical musing is fun and sometimes profitable.frank

    As is playing in the mud, occasionally.
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k
    a truth matters to any given subject matter to the degree that it has bearing upon it.StreetlightX

    Absolutely, I don't think anyone's denying that.

    the index of any truth for any particular problem must belong to the problem itself:StreetlightX

    Again, I don't see anyone denying this either.

    the radically stupid idea that anything goes, that anything is worth addressing, and that each and every mundanity is worth its weight in gold.StreetlightX

    Once more, I don't hear anyone trying to argue otherwise.


    So, the bit you've glaringly missed out, which is where the rather sensationalist comparison to fascism comes in is the bit where you additionally claim that a certain group of people just 'know' which truths matter to which subjects, that they just 'know' what the index of truth is for each problem, that they just 'know' what is worth addressing and what is not. And not just know in the vague sense of someone clutching at some intangible feeling, not know in a collaborative sense where mutual agreement is sought, but know with sufficient certainty to dismiss out of hand, belittle, and occasionally just downright insult anyone who dares to think otherwise.
  • StreetlightX
    2.9k
    Where you additionally claim that a certain group of people just 'know' which truths matter to which subjects, that they just 'know' what the index of truth is for each problem, that they just 'know' what is worth addressing and what is not.Pseudonym

    Quote me or buzz off.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    728
    I don't know Deleuze and so may be talking through my hat, to use a charming old phrase, but damned if he doesn't sound a lot like Dewey here. And it seems he was fond of the Stoics, too. Perhaps I should read his stuff.
  • frank
    1.4k
    As is playing in the mud, occasionally.StreetlightX

    Did you not devote quite a bit of your life to playing in the mud?
  • frank
    1.4k
    Propositions don't hang in the breeze anyway. We ask the world questions, and propositions are the answers we get. The world speaks our language (or so it seems to us).

    Math propositions are the same.

    The unknown proposition is a side effect of realism.
  • StreetlightX
    2.9k
    As I've said elsewhere, to the extent that propositions are simply bearers of truth, and to the extent that truth is precisely what is not at issue - or at issue only in a derivative, secondary sense - propositions are precisely what 'hang in the breeze'. Propositions are just about the least significant thing in addressing any problem. They are detritus, the necessary debris left over once you have your concepts right and distinctions properly drawn.
  • fdrake
    1.3k


    If I can be so intrusive, I'd recommend listening to Manuel De Landa's lectures on Youtube. De Landa sees things from a very Deluzian perspective, but his lectures are far less dense than reading Deleuze (or Deleuze and Guttari).
  • frank
    1.4k
    If you and I agree, it's to a proposition. I don't follow you. Is it agreement that you find to be unimportant?
  • StreetlightX
    2.9k
    Yes. Agreement with you is not the point of dealing with a problem. The problem is. Or put otherwise:

    "What is true or false is what human beings say; and it is in their language that human beings agree. This is agreement not in opinions, but in forms of life".
  • StreetlightX
    2.9k
    A good suggestion of fdrake's part - Deleuze isn't as ah, striaghtfoward as Dewey. That said, I have to admit an upsetting ignorence of Dewey's work on my part, though I do know that a few scholars have drawn attention to certain parallels between the two. Imma Semetsky in particular has written a book or two on their similar approaches to pedagogy and education, though I've not read them unfortunately.
  • frank
    1.4k
    "What is true or false is what human beings say; and it is in their language that human beings agree. This is agreement not in opinions, but in forms of life".StreetlightX

    The first sentence is wrong. If I agree with you, it's not with the words you speak that I agree. It's to the content of your speech. That content we call a proposition. The same proposition can be expressed by multiple groupings of words. So we know a proposition is something other than words.

    The second sentence is quasi-mystical. He's saying that the whole is in the part.

    There's no doubt that our conversation is meaningful only in the light of a broader form of life. Only someone also immersed in that form would be able to grasp the proposition you express by your speech.

    Nevertheless, your speech does have content (unless you want to argue behaviorism and say that it doesn't).
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.6k


    I think "the words you say" is equivalent to content here. What we say doesn't have any relevant meaning outside the context of our language. If I am thinking "about what you say," I'm considering the context of your speech, the meaning ("what") as uttered by you ("you say" ). If we agree, it is with the words we say.

    The issue is that agreement about content propositions is not really what's at stake in disagreement. We aren't moved to disagree by whether we agree with context of other speech. We are moved to disagree on account of life itself. On the grounds of how the world which is not a language act is reflected or not in the content of our language.

    Our world does not speak our language. We speak the language of the world. When speaking a truth, our language reflects the meaning of the world. If we speak falsehood, the language in the world (ours) fails to speak language of the world (the meaning of the things we speak about is missing from our language).
  • Janus
    5.7k


    OK, then maybe I misunderstood you. Are you saying that being "transcendentally stupid" consists in starting with some set of premises and then failing to make any (or many) of the significant connections, or explicate any (or many) of the relevant concomitants, within the context of those premises? Just a kind of poverty stricken, lame account, like a limping engine. A failure of the understanding and the creative imagination, and not that particular sets of premises are transcendentally stupid? Something like that?

    To clarify, I would have thought that what you were saying would not have allowed you to say both that "Plato is full of shit" and that Plato is not transcendentally stupid, but if you can say both of those things, consistently with what you are trying to say about transcendental stupidity, then it appears that I have indeed misunderstood you. :smile:
  • frank
    1.4k
    If we agree, it is with the words we say.TheWillowOfDarkness

    Is it? It's in Miami. Do you agree?
  • StreetlightX
    2.9k
    The first sentence is wrong. If I agree with you, it's not with the words you speak that I agree.frank

    Good thing the sentence doesn't even mention the word 'words' then.

    The second sentence is quasi-mystical. He's saying that the whole is in the part.frank

    Good thing that your paraphrase is entirely off-base then.
  • frank
    1.4k
    Was I wrong? I'll have a think on what it means to be wrong.
  • StreetlightX
    2.9k
    . Are you saying that being "transcendentally stupid" consists in starting with some set of premises and then failing to make any (or many) of the significant connections, or explicate any (or many) of the relevant concomitants, within the context of those premises?Janus

    Yes, but perhaps a tad bit more radical. I don't see it as a two-step process - first, a premise, then failure to make connections, etc, etc. It's more that a premise may not even be one to begin with if, 'in-itself' it is not properly articulated: how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Make all the connections you like, but the starting point itself is compromised, right at its heart.

    To clarify, I would have thought that what you were saying would not have allowed you to say both that "Plato is full of shit" and that Plato is not transcendentally stupid, but if you can say both of those things, consistently with what you are trying to say about transcendental stupidity, then it appears that I have indeed misunderstood you. :smile:Janus

    To say Plato is full of shit but not a transcendental idiot is simply to say that not all disagreements resolve into transcendental stupidity. There can be substantial and interesting disgreements between positions which are motivated and non-arbitrary; none of this disqualifies that.
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