• Pattern-chaser
    Yes, consensus is sometimes mistaken for objectivity. I've never understood that. :confused:
  • creativesoul
    My position refutes the very notion of 'pure reason'.
    — creativesoul

    I'd like to see the reasoning to support that. I'd say there is pure reason, but it consists only in tautologies and 'contentless' formal logic. Some people, Kant among them, claim that there is synthetic a priori reasoning (as well as the tautologous analytic a priori kind) but I'm pretty sure that should not be accepted.

    I reject both 'kinds' of a priori reasoning/knowledge set out by Kant and both 'kinds' of reasoning set out by Hume. That said, what you're asking me for is groundwork that is book-worthy in it's own right, to say the least. I'll do what I can to convince you that of the possibility that pure reason is a (mis)conception. During this, I'll try to summarize and briefly cover both, Hume and Kant, since their philosophies are closely related. They both stem from the same convention, particularly the conventional 'understandings' of causation, knowledge, and belief.

    It is worth mentioning what was driving Hume's philosophy at the time. Much like today, there were many assertions, many incommensurate and/or incompatible positions all of which were equally valid/consistent... So, the question was/is what and/or who to believe and by what standard ought we assent? Hume chose Empiricism.

    Hume was not alone when he focused upon the truth conditions of propositions. He was an empiricist. Propositions are empirical - I suppose. However, truth conditions are not equivalent to truth, and neither truth conditions nor truth is equivalent to a proposition. Propositions are nothing more and nothing less than complex thought/belief. Setting out the truth conditions for a proposition says nothing at all about what the proposition itself consists in/of. Propositions do not consist of truth conditions, and yet truth conditions are crucial when considering the difference(s) between the two kinds of reasoning coined by Hume. The truth conditions are the only difference he focuses on. He fails to take account of the similarities. That is the fatal flaw.

    The very notion of 'pure reason' is a consequence of Hume's framework/taxonomy; his dividing 'all the objects of human inquiry' into two categories, "relations of ideas" and "matters of fact"; aka Hume's Fork. These are/were held to be the mutually exclusive and exhaustive categories of all human inquiry. The former - "a priori" - presupposes that reasoning can be somehow independent of human experience. That dubious presupposition has more than two centuries worth of being glossed over, but it is entirely false and based upon a gross misunderstanding, neglect, and/or outright willful ignorance of the existential dependency and/or elemental constituency of both 'kinds' of reason he delineates.

    A priori propositions/reasoning(relations between ideas) and the reasoning that they support(according to Hume) have truth conditions that we determine - by definition alone. The things we're talking about are of our own invention. This is seen below...

    The following is from the SEP article...

    Propositions concerning relations of ideas are intuitively or demonstratively certain. They are known a priori—discoverable independently of experience by “the mere operation of thought”, so their truth doesn't depend on anything actually existing (EHU 4.1.1/25). That the interior angles of a Euclidean triangle sum to 180 degrees is true whether or not there are any Euclidean triangles to be found in nature. Denying that proposition is a contradiction, just as it is contradictory to say that 8×7=57.

    Here we see that he is talking about propositions that are true as a result of corresponding definitions and/or further descriptions of abstract conceptions of our own invention(relations of ideas). The demonstration of which comes by logical argument with definitions for premisses. A Euclidean triangle is what it is because we won't let it be anything else. The same holds good for 2+2=4. There is also the implicit assumption/premiss/presupposition that not all 'objects' of thought exist. We can only take this to mean that that which exists can be literally found and/or perhaps physically observed 'in nature', like trees and such. There is also yet another implicit premiss that draws a distinction between human thought/belief and nature such that thought/belief itself, along with being a result and/or product of human thought/belief excludes it(the 'object of thought/understanding) from being a part of nature - by pure definition alone. By this framework, thought/belief cannot be empirical or natural, save it's complex empirical manifestation via language(thought/belief in statement/propositional form).

    Then there's the other kind of reasoning Hume delineates...

    In sharp contrast, the truth of propositions concerning matters of fact depends on the way the world is. Their contraries are always possible, their denials never imply contradictions, and they can't be established by demonstration. Asserting that Miami is north of Boston is false, but not contradictory. We can understand what someone who asserts this is saying, even if we are puzzled about how he could have the facts so wrong.

    Now seems an apt time to further expose the aforementioned fatal flaw...

    The introductory phrase directly above is misleading. The only sharp contrast here is between two purportedly mutually exclusive categories of reasoning that are only found together in Humean thought. Humean thought corresponds to Humean invention. Humean invention does not correspond to fact.

    In nature, as compared/contrasted to Hume's notion of nature, we invented cardinal directions. We invented math. We invented names for people, places, and things.

    That is the way it is, because that is the way it happened.

    There is no elemental, existential, and/or constitutional difference between the conception(s) of cardinal directions, the names of cities, and Euclidean triangles. Cardinal directions cannot be found in nature any more than a Euclidean triangle. Miami is certainly not something that exists independently of thought/belief(relations of ideas). To quite the contrary, "Miami" is the name we've given to an area. "Miami" picks out that area. That area may exist in nature independently of all human thought/belief, but "Miami" does not, and thinking about that area in terms of it's being Miami is existentially dependent upon our naming it such. What's north of Miami is determined solely by relations between our ideas of cardinal directions and names of cities. That is no less a relation of ideas than what we say/learn and/or conclude about Euclidean triangles.

    There is no difference in elemental constitution between reasoning amounting to relations of ideas and reasoning amounting to matters of fact(Hume's notions) for - as just argued above - the latter consists of the former.

    That doesn't even touch on the non-existent distinction between passions and reason. If I recall correctly, Mww and I thoroughly discussed that earlier in this thread, even if for clearly different purposes/reasons/motivations.
  • Janus
    I don't have a lot of time at the moment, so I will just comment briefly. I generally agree with most of what you say here.

    The point you make about what's north of Miami is similar to points I have made in the past about facts like Paris being the capital of France. We define the boundaries of Miami and what's north of that (that is closer to the North Pole) is, in the less precise sense determined by the actual geography of the Earth, and in the most precise sense by where we draw the boundary of Miami. There is always a 'tautologous' or analytic element in such facts.

    And the same goes for 2+2=4, in the opposite direction so to speak. It is often considered to be entirely analytic. But it is only because whenever we select two sets of two items and consider them altogether there are always four items. This is the general invariance of number, and it relies on the stability of objects in our world. If objects were not stable we could select two sets of two items and we might sometimes find that we had five, six, a hundred or any number of items. That would not be logically impossible, but counting and mathematics, and indeed probably life itself would be impossible in such a chaotically morphogenic world.
  • S
    However, truth conditions are not equivalent to truth, and neither truth conditions nor truth is equivalent to a proposition.creativesoul

    Is your book going to be full of distinctions that no one is unclear about, and which don't need to be made? You do this often.

    Apples are not oranges. And neither apples nor oranges are animals.

    Yeah, real profound. Real creative. I can't wait for the book. I'm going to be first in line.
  • creativesoul

    I've re-read Hume's Enquiry, and in doing so came across several issues that all seem to be consequences of not drawing the distinction between thought/belief and thinking about thought/belief. I'm not sure when I'll have time to expose these issues, but it needs to be done.

    His notion of belief shows this nicely, I think. The interesting thing to me is the similarity between some of his justifications and my own.
  • creativesoul
    Is your book going to be full of distinctions that no one is unclear about, and which don't need to be made? You do this often.S

    Indeed, and for good reason. It's called groundwork. It's something that people actually doing philosophy find necessary. The interesting part comes when one holds them all in consideration at the same time while looking at the consequences.

    Some people sit in the safest seats around the arena criticizing actual participants in battle. There's no vulnerability there. Nothing to defend, because no firm stance is taken on anything.

    Get in the ring.
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