• Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    It's supported by the vast results it has produced, which Platonic metaphysics hasn't come anywhere near to producing.S

    A method is a way of proceeding in activities. It may be supported by a system of guidelines, rules or something like that. That a specified activity has produced favourable results may be cited as justification for the method, only after the fact. Since this cited success is necessarily posterior to proceeding into the activities employing the method, it is impossible that this is what supports the method. To account for what supports the method is to account for the foundation of its existence. What supports the method is what inspires one to proceed into the activity employing the method, and this is necessarily prior to the success of the method, as a cause of its success.
  • S
    11.4k
    A method is a way of proceeding in activities. It may be supported by a system of guidelines, rules or something like that. That a specified activity has produced favourable results may be cited as justification for the method, only after the fact. Since this cited success is necessarily posterior to proceeding into the activities employing the method, it is impossible that this is what supports the method. To account for what supports the method is to account for the foundation of its existence. What supports the method is what inspires one to proceed into the activity employing the method, and this is necessarily prior to the success of the method, as a cause of its success.Metaphysician Undercover

    Oh dear. You're doing that thing again where you speak all funny and come up with ad hoc justifications.

    The scientific method has been widely applied and has produced vast and seriously impressive results. That's what supports it. I do not care that you can come up with some sophist logic in order to say that, no, actually that doesn't support it, and therefore, hurrah, Platonic metaphysics is fandabbydosey.
  • 180 Proof
    27
    Do you consider, for instance, that merely assuming 'the natural world is explainable' is a "recourse to metaphysics"?

    :chin:

    If you're asking what kind of reflection is required to understand the world ... — frank

    I'm not. I'm only proposing a 'working assumption'.

    Yes, I think that would be a metaphysical assumption. Especially, but not only, if it means [ ... ] — Coben

    It's only an assumption not a conclusion or categorical statement; why not just methodological instead ... in order to get 'research programs' off the ground, so to speak, and keep them flying? Absent this, why bother trying to 'explain' that which is not assumed (or, even moreso, assumed not) to be explicable ?

    So then naturalism is not tied to physicalism. — Coben

    I think the latter is a function of the former in the following sense:

    N proposes methodological criteria (e.g. hypothetical-deductive reasoning) for forming explanatory hypotheses of [regularities of-transformations in] the universe.

    P proposes formal criteria (e.g. abductive reasoning) for building & testing quantified models of explanatory hypotheses of  [regularities of-transformations in] the universe.

    Why do you class scientists as naturalists? — Metaphysician Undercover

    I didn't generalized/stereotype scientists; I simply offered them as an example of naturalists. Besides, it's true of many - most? - of them in a methodological more than a philosophical sense.

    I think that to assume that something which has not yet been explained, is explainable, is a metaphysical assumption. — Metaphysician Undercover

    So are you suggesting that there aren't any non-metaphysical - methodological - grounds for attempting to explain  unexplained states-of-affairs?
  • Isaac
    1.1k
    if a model or meta-model gives its users confidence, a sense of cohesive understanding, this may lay the ground for productivity. Call it a potential placebo effect if one must. I would black box that.Coben

    The very matter which took me from social psychology to philosophy was the way metaphysical assumptions affected mental health. Way off topic here, but a very interesting field of study for me.
  • Isaac
    1.1k
    Too literal. :wink: Here's a quote:

    Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. — Wikipedia
    Pattern-chaser

    I've bolded the relevant part, for me. By what measure could you possibly know you are wrong about a metaphysical position such as to be self-corrective?
  • Isaac
    1.1k
    None of what you just said has anything to do with truth, so it is missing the point. I was criticising the proposition which you previously mentioned, that "truth itself is only a meaningful notion with regards utility". No, it isn't. It is meaningful without that, as I demonstrated with my example. You've got the statement, and you've got the truth-maker. That's what makes truth meaningful.S

    I'm presuming in this that you're arguing the "truth-maker" here is correspondence with reality? That's fine when the subject matter is empirical, as with science, but here we're talking about metaphysical propositions. One of which would be that "truth" is correspondence with reality, which would be a required foundation for the principle above.
  • S
    11.4k
    I'm presuming in this that you're arguing the "truth-maker" here is correspondence with reality? That's fine when the subject matter is empirical, as with science, but here we're talking about metaphysical propositions. One of which would be that "truth" is correspondence with reality, which would be a required foundation for the principle above.Isaac

    Yes, that's what truth is. Truth doesn't require utility. Were you talking about something else?
  • Coben
    834
    He said it was only true with regards to utility. The only way to see if it is true is related to utility. There is no knowing something is true without it having utility. It has to predict something, lead to something.

    I think you are interpreting 'utility' to mean something beyond this. Like it has to be a valuable tool or something. The fact must effectively tunction in predicting something. That is its truth.
  • S
    11.4k
    He said it was only true with regards to utility. The only way to see if it is true is related to utility. There is no knowing something is true without it having utility. It has to predict something, lead to something.

    I think you are interpreting 'utility' to mean something beyond this. Like it has to be a valuable tool or something. The fact must effectively tunction in predicting something. That is its truth.
    Coben

    You're mixing up truth with epistemological methods. What is it that you want to talk about? I naturally thought that it was the former, given that the original proposition that I was replying to was worded explicitly about truth itself, not any epistemological method. And those last few sentences are confused. You're just calling some usefulness or predictive power related to a fact, "truth", but that's not truth, that's just usefulness or predictive power. Just call it what it is, not what it's not. Truth is simply: Is that so? Yes.

    Typical philosophy enthusiast. Trying to be novel and overcomplicating things. Truth is fine the way it is. It makes sense. It works. It can be understood. Don't try to reinvent the wheel.
  • Coben
    834
    But that's what pragmatists do. They see process where other see final forms. To a pragmatist facts in minds are actually processes. And they are parts of processes. And I am not talking about how we decide it is true -epistemology-I am talking about what facts do. A fact that does not lead to predictions, future observations, that is not instrumental in some process, is meaningless and would not be true for me. It would just be a statement hanging in the air. You're arguing perhaps some correspondence type theory for truth.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth-correspondence/
    or maybe the identity theory of truth....
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth-identity/

    And if that's the case, I could be wrong, those are just peachy ways of looking at truth. I think more pragmatic ways of looking at it are better and actually match what I and in the end other people do when facts are involved. I don't think it is the correspondence, I think it is what the assertion does. I am wary of putting truth 'in' things. I think facts are processes that do things, not things that are true.

    It's a bit like the 'do words contain meanings' discussion elsewhere, though with differences.
    Any idea upon which we can ride, so to speak; any idea that will carry us prosperously from any one part of our experience to any other part, linking things satisfactorily, working securely, simplifying, saving labor; is true for just so much, true in so far forth, true instrumentally. This is the ‘instrumental’ view of truth. (1907 [1975: 34])
  • S
    11.4k
    But it's a false dilemma. You can keep hold of the importance you see in predictive power and usefulness without fighting a losing uphill battle against ordinary language with regard to what you call true. There's nothing pragmatic about speaking dumb when you don't have to, and when doing so raises more problems than it solves. And you are faced with massive problems, because your theory doesn't rule out what we could call false-truths, like a hexagonal shaped Earth, which under your barmy theory of truth would qualify so long as it was useful and had predictive power, even though Earth isn't in fact hexagonal.
  • Coben
    834
    Re: my comment in the other thread. You didn't have to be nicey nicey to me here, but there's no reason to say 'speak dumb' here.

    Now you made up a description of the earth as a hexagon, one for which you have no pragmatic uses, I assume, as if this showed that pragmatic truth is a poor theory. We know that Newtonian notions of absolute space, for example, and absolute motion, are not correct, in some correspondance theory of truth. Einstein took that away. However Newton's truths are incredibly effective. I think it useful to consider them true. and who knows, maybe someone will override Einstein.

    You think your ideas about truth eliiminate having false truths?

    Your epistemology is infallible?
  • S
    11.4k
    Re: my comment in the other thread. You didn't have to be nicey nicey to me here, but there's no reason to say 'speak dumb' here.Coben

    Of course there's reason to use that term here, otherwise I wouldn't have used it here. Look, I'm not going to sugarcoat my language for your sake. An example of speaking dumb would be to call left "right" and falsehoods "truths". If I think you're speaking dumb, I'll say so.

    Now you made up a description of the earth as a hexagon, one for which you have no pragmatic uses, I assume, as if this showed that pragmatic truth is a poor theory. We know that Newtonian notions of absolute space, for example, and absolute motion, are not correct, in some correspondance theory of truth. Einstein took that away. However Newton's truths are incredibly effective. I think it useful to consider them true. and who knows, maybe someone will override Einstein.Coben

    No, it was hypothetical, a thought experiment, where you're supposed to assume that the hexagonal Earth theory is of pragmatic use. Obviously I wasn't giving a real world example, obviously.

    Obviously.

    You think your ideas about truth eliiminate having false truths?

    Your epistemology is infallible?
    Coben

    We're not talking about epistemology, we're talking about metaphysics. My epistemology is fallible. But how can something not be true if it corresponds with reality, thereby making it so?
  • Isaac
    1.1k
    Yes, that's what truth is. Truth doesn't require utility. Were you talking about something else?S

    Truth as correspondence with reality has its problems though, which pragmatism tries to solve. We don't have direct access to reality and the physical laws (if there are any) which govern it. What we have are the reports of our senses and the models we use to predict cause and effect among matter. So when A says "it is raining" all I have to check that with is my model of the world. But my model of the world already contains the sensory report that person A just said its raining, and probably the interpretation that person A is disposed to act as if it were raining (put on a coat, carry an umbrella etc.).

    So we cannot simply compare the statement and the model to see if the two are the same. They're obviously not. One is a statement, the other a model, for a start. So we are instead seeing if the belief the statement is taken to express fits in our model of the world, not whether it matches it.

    This is what is meant by utility (or dis-utility), like trying to fit a cog into a machine where it will (or just won't) go.

    Now, you might say that I can't just presume it's the cog that's wrong and not the machine I'm trying to fit it to, but if you're trying to make that claim on the basis of correspondence with reality, then we're back at the beginning again. We don't have direct access to reality to check that. We could use the incredibly good predictive power of a good model as a reason to accept it over others, but what's that if not utility? There's nothing whatsoever to say that the 'world as it really is' is consistently predictable, so predictive power can't be taken to be an indicator of correspondence with reality. It can be taken as an indication of greater utility.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    By what measure could you possibly know you are wrong about a metaphysical position such as to be self-corrective?Isaac

    OK, I'm done. "Self-corrective" may not fit into this particular use of the word. But I can't be bothered with having to explain everything that you find less than 100% precise and analytical. Some thing really are - in the Real World - vague. That's life.

    Take care.
  • Gnomon
    47
    So, yes, these "potential realities" do not "exist in spacetime" rather they give rise to the actuality that is spacetime. This is also in line with what apokrisis used to go on about; the idea of the "apeiron" and all that. For another take on this idea see also Incomplete Nature by Terence Deacon.Janus
    Good point! This potential vs real argument is another example of how "binary thinking" (either/or, black/white, real/ideal dichotomies) can be confusing when philosophical discussions get way down close to apeiron (infinity). That's why I prefer to speak in terms of a physics/metaphysics continuum. In the Enformationism theory, there is no hard line between Physics (matter) and Meta-Physics (mind). It's all shape-shifting Information, all the way down.

    Terrance Deacon, in his attempt to describe how living organisms evolved from non-living things, introduced the paradoxical concept of "the power of absence". This would make no sense to those who are limited to rigid categories. But in Deacon's worldview, Potential is an absence that has the power to create a presence, as-if it was a black hole sucking things into its orbit via gravity, and popping them out on the other side as a new Actuality. A similar concept is the physics of Strange Attractors that seem to exert a pulling "force" toward an empty place in space. Such "absences" seem to be part of our scientific reality, even though they have no material existence. They can only be understood in terms of logical/mathematical Information relationships.

    Power of Absence : http://bothandblog3.enformationism.info/page33.html
  • Janus
    8.2k
    :cool: Ah, I see you are already aware of Deacon's work.
  • Coben
    834
    Of course there's reason to use that term here, otherwise I wouldn't have used it here. Look, I'm not going to sugarcoat my language for your sake. An example of speaking dumb would be to call left "right" and falsehoods "truths". If I think you're speaking dumb, I'll say so.S
    Sugercoat. Again the false dichtomy. Just argue the case, show the errors.
    No, it was hypothetical, a thought experiment, where you're supposed to assume that the hexagonal Earth theory is of pragmatic use. Obviously I wasn't giving a real world example, obviously.S

    Right. But that has nothing to do with my point. You picked a poor example, one where you don't even take the time to see if you can come up with a use. IOW you picked an example that you think has no use, and yet it was an example, somehow, that I or some other pragmatists would be defending because it has some use.
    And seem to think this is evidence of something. And you did this instead of using the example I provided. So you make up a poor example that no pragmatist and in case I haven't used, rather than using one provided. This is pretty much by definition a lack of integrity.
    But how can something not be true if it corresponds with reality, thereby making it so?S
    Now you are defending your theory of truth which it seems is correspondence. I even specifically said that if that was your theory you are a believer of good theory of truth. But that's not the issue.
    You treated a theory based on intrumentality as if it was wrong and stupid. Perhaps what we have are two different but workable theories of truth. I am not mounting an argument against yours. I am just saying that pragmatic theories of truth makes sense and, well, can be quite useful. I can deal with a diverse set of models and methodologies. So my saying that his makes sense is not saying yours is bad or dumb. And heck, perhaps a third is even better, or perhaps both our models are not the best ones. But I do note the pattern that if someone asserts something you would not, it means they think you must be wrong, and, given your habits of communication, they must, therefore, think you are stupid. That must be painful.

    The amazing thing is, it might be, well, useful to have different views about the nature of truth out there, since it seems like each one has potential weaknesses. We don't have to decide which one is the Pope.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    6k
    The scientific method has been widely applied and has produced vast and seriously impressive results. That's what supports it.S

    It's sad that I have to tell you this, but this is false. Success only supports the trials of trial and error. And the scientific method is a bit more advanced than trial and error. Don't you think? The scientific method, as a way of acting, is supported by principles, not by successes. I think what you are really trying to say, is that scientism as a metaphysics, is supported by the successes of the scientific method.

    So are you suggesting that there aren't any non-metaphysical - methodological - grounds for attempting to explain unexplained states-of-affairs?180 Proof

    Right, the desire to explain what is unexplained is a subject of metaphysics.
  • 180 Proof
    27
    Right, the desire to explain what is unexplained is a subject of metaphysics. — Metaphysician Undercover

    You lost me, MU. Good luck with that.
  • Gnomon
    47
    Ah, I see you are already aware of Deacon's work.Janus
    Yes. I was impressed with his non-reductionist approach to the question of how Life might have emerged from non-life. Although, as a scientist, he was careful to avoid crossing the line into metaphysics, "the power of absence" is essentially a metaphysical concept, in the sense that it is not an observation but an inference.

    A related book is, Neither Ghost Nor Machine, The Emergence and Nature of Selves, by Jeremy Sherman, a member of Deacon's team. Ironically, from the perspective of my Enformationism worldview, I would say that the human Self (Soul) is both Ghost (metaphysical) and Machine (physical) : both Immaterial and Material; both Subjective and Objective..

    The Ghost in The Organism : http://bothandblog3.enformationism.info/page20.html
  • Gnomon
    47
    Anyone else read Philosophy Now?

    A neat argument that much of modern theoretical physics is actually bad metaphysics.
    Banno
    Yes, I read that. It's why many people find justification for their traditional religious beliefs in Quantum Theory and other cutting-edge notions that stray from the "hard" physics of Isaac Newton. But my semi-religious worldview is basically an update of ancient notions of "Soul" and "Spirit" in terms of the current understanding of how the world works. e.g. No mercurial gods on thrones, but a nerdy cosmic Programmer running an evolutionary program. :smile:

    "many of the theories embraced by theoretical physicists today look like what Smolin calls 'metaphysical fantasies'."
  • Jack-N
    2
    A few more words on metaphysics: Metaphysics received its first formulation with Aristotle, one positioning it with respect to physics. Unless metaphysics is to be relegated in its entirety to the history of philosophy, an answer to the question, What is metaphysics?, must be contemporary.

    A lot of what contributes to the difficulty of answering the question is historically contingent: the branching off of much of science from philosophy. What remains in the province of metaphysics is controversial, and much of that controversy is the product of differing views about what physics is, what it does, how it does it, and how that all differs from the methods and goals of metaphysics.

    What are some of these differences? Probably the most striking difference is one of language, which in the case of physics is mathematics. If there is a clear line that can be drawn between modern physics and metaphysics, that line is drawn with mathematics. And something very interesting happens when, for purposes of general debate or popularization, scientists translate the "meaning" of the mathematics of physics into a natural language: the line dividing physics and metaphysics immediately begins to blur. The translation from mathematical equation to natural-language description will always delineate a pathway from physics to metaphysics.

    This should tell us something about the two disciplines. For one, it suggests that Whitehead was right in thinking that mathematics does not constitute a model that is generalizable. The kind of necessity proper to mathematical demonstrations cannot be transferred to philosophy. For another, it suggests that there is an activity that is distinctively proper to metaphysics, and the tool for that activity is natural (as opposed to formal) language.
  • Janus
    8.2k
    Although, as a scientist, he was careful to avoid crossing the line into metaphysics, "the power of absence" is essentially a metaphysical concept, in the sense that it is not an observation but an inference.Gnomon

    I agree that "the power of absence" is a metaphysical concept, so did he really avoid crossing the line into metaphysics?

    Anyway thanks for the link and the reference to the Sherman book; I'll check 'em out... :grin:
  • joshua
    13
    The kind of necessity proper to mathematical demonstrations cannot be transferred to philosophy. For another, it suggests that there is an activity that is distinctively proper to metaphysics, and the tool for that activity is natural (as opposed to formal) language.Jack-N


    That sounds right. And we can also question just how formal mathematical demonstrations are. Of course they are relatively formal, but I venture that they also speak to and depend upon spatial and numerical intuition -- a compact language that is easy to parse with the eyes but not radically different from English, for instance. This isn't to deny that some math is extremely formal, but then our reasoning about this extremely formal math will depend on intuition. Sans application and/or aesthetics, it's hard to understand why a human being would bother.
  • joshua
    13
    I think facts are processes that do things, not things that are true.Coben

    I find pragmatism fascinating. I am attracted to its attempt to get the truck out of the mud. For my $, too much philosophy is just verbal disputes. But I find the flight from truth a little too metaphysical and problematical.

    To me, in your quote above, you are suggesting that ...you think it is true that...facts are processes that do things, not things that are true. If you don't believe that facts exist in that particular way, then why embrace pragmatism? Is it useful to believe that it is useful to believe whatever is useful to believe? It all strikes me as a bit circular. I'd prefer to say something like: it seems to true to me that we'd do better to argue about stuff that matters and look at whether this or that issue is really just a matter of terminological preference.

    Sometimes I think pragmatism can't resist wading back in to the mud as a kind of liberator. For me the 'mud' is something like a game that you can only win by abandoning the sunk cost. On the bright side, a wallow in the mud is a kind of inoculation against a talking that doesn't pay off. Or maybe it's a fun game like chess but we should be advancing our career, etc., but can't let go of the fantasy that a certain kind of talk is Serious.
  • Coben
    834
    I tend to agree. In fact, I tend to look at truth in a few ways. I am eclectic and ad hoc. I actually think most people are. But where it is important I think, is that the pragmatic approach is more likely to allow one to practice na idea over time to see if it works, rather than deciding yes, this is true so I will apply it. I think this is much more useful, lol, than not allowing this. Now of course someone with a correspondance truth model can do this, but I think they are much less likely to. And I think they are much more likely to judge people irrational who are using ideas that seem to or even do work for those other people, rather than see what is happening in situ - or even acknowledging that in fact they do this themselves in many ways. I think there is an inherent humilty in pragmatic approaches, and it is more exploratory.
    Or maybe it's a fun game like chess but we should be advancing our career, etc., but can't let go of the fantasy that a certain kind of talk is Serious.joshua
    To me this would apply to any position on truth: correspondance, identity, pragmatic...
  • joshua
    13
    In fact, I tend to look at truth in a few ways. I am eclectic and ad hoc.Coben

    Same here.

    But where it is important I think, is that the pragmatic approach is more likely to allow one to practice na idea over time to see if it works, rather than deciding yes, this is true so I will apply it. I think this is much more useful, lol, than not allowing this. Now of course someone with a correspondance truth model can do this, but I think they are much less likely to.Coben

    I find that plausible. And what I know of Willy James suggests that he was solid, a good face on the movement. I think you are touching on personality types and which philosophies they tend to embrace. I do agree that the correspondence model is something like the default position. So it's going to be tempting for closed minds. Still, despite its problems, I'd still vote it the least worst choice. Those problems, after all, are usually only problems in the 'mud' and not in everyday life.

    I think there is an inherent humilty in pragmatic approaches, and it is more exploratory.Coben

    I think you are generally right. I have, however, seen a few pragmatists who are wrapped up in pragmatist jargon. And they can be arrogant. Clearly that has nothing to do with you. I'm just saying that some folks into anti-realism come off surprisingly evangelical. Personally I think it's hard to do philosophy and avoid implying that some kind of truth exists. How interested are we in the mere opinion of strangers? Admittedly there are some ridiculous or untrustworthy opinions that might be worth hearing for entertainment value, but you know what I mean. We want to learn about reality to act and speak more effectively/successfully. (I trust you'll agree.)
  • joshua
    13
    To me this would apply to any position on truth: correspondance, identity, pragmatic...Coben

    Fair point. I agree. Or at least once the 'big' issues are settled (usually stuff about virtue and vice), the little issues are toys. Of course the big issues can stop being settled. Point being that philosophy for me is 'really' about who I should be, who I should trust, things like that.
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