• aletheist
    708


    When I first started getting acquainted with Peirce's thought, several people warned me that it would take a while - and I have found that to be very much the case. If you would like to read his own words, I think that the best place to start is with the two volumes of The Essential Peirce. If you prefer a fairly comprehensive introduction written by someone else, I suggest The Continuity of Peirce's Thought by Kelly Parker and/or Peirce and the Threat of Nominalism by Paul Forster. If you are looking for something shorter that focuses primarily on metaphysics, I recommend Charles Peirce's Guess at the Riddle by John K. Sheriff.
  • mcdoodle
    553
    Thanks, Un, I agree about the interesting zones of inquiry. 'Social science' in general, as with your example of psychology, seems necessarily limited by an inescapable circularity. If a market is rational, for instance, then all the players in it would theoretically know the theory of the rational market, and adjust accordingly. (My first degree back in prehistory was Economics) This seems to be an occasional cause of machine-led panics in markets.

    I've been reading and thinking lately about placebos, because they are at the cusp of medical science where the most physicalist of scientists has to consider the role of 'belief' and 'expectations'. In these areas 'science' could expand its realm by expanding its attempt to understand the first person position. After all, testimony is perfectly reasonably evidence (indeed I sometimes think even facts are only testimony, just very well-supported). Varela in 'The Embodied Mind' made an impassioned plea for scientists to open themselves up to first-person narrative, but it seems to have fallen on stony ground so far.

    And then the David Deutsch stuff advocated by Tom intrigued me lately, because one of its rationales was built up from 'decision theory', which I've tended to regard as pseudo-scientific game-playing, claiming as it does to be able to second-guess rational choice, but which I perhaps ought to have taken more seriously. (I don't mean the Deutsch stuff depends on this, it's just one line of support for it) Ah me, so much to misunderstand, so little time.
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    I go back to your example of a vortex in water. You can't just scoop out a vortex. Similarly I have a hard time visualizing what a constraint is supposed to be independent of a material basis.darthbarracuda

    So are solitons and electron holes material things in your book? We can use them for computing. They obey the quantum rules of particles.

    And for the millionth time now, this is not about imagining reality independent of a "material basis". Why do you find a hylomorphic understanding of substance so difficult?

    The difference is in the view one takes of the material side of the deal. For you, the material basis is itself substantial. Matter is already matter - which begs every important metaphysical question.

    But my view explains materiality as emergent from contextual constraints - formal and final cause. It is the limitation on possibility that crystallises substance as something "physically actual".

    Protons and electrons exist because the cooling/expanding Cosmic context freezes them out as expressions of broken gauge symmetries. They have actual mass and move about at less than the speed of light because the further global Goldstone symmetry is broken by the Higgs mechanism.

    So modern particle physics says the basic substance of existence - quarks and leptons - are made substantial by material possibility (pure radiation) being trapped into formal regularities (broken symmetries) which they can no longer escape (because the Big Bang has removed that freedom with its cooling and expanding).

    If you want to "visualise" a constraint, just think of the symmetries that underlie the standard model of particle physics. As forms, they have a logical necessity.

    You can't get simpler than the U(1) symmetry of electromagnetic charge - the symmetry of a circle - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitary_group

    So that puts an irreducible limit under Cosmic existence. If you have a reduction of degrees of freedom going on of the kind that produces particles as the minimal possible states of excitation, then EM winds up being the bottom level particle property for the very good reason that nothing could be simpler.

    And yet even that simplicity still has a structural complexity - exactly as Peirce's triadic view of relations argues.

    So in any form of existence which involves the kind of constraint on action which produces an organised dimensionality (ie: a universe), the realist thing is the fact of mathematical form. Matter can try to do whatever the heck it wants. At the Big Bang, matter fields could fluctuate in ways to contain every kind of symmetry-breaking particle. But as a context develops - as the Universe expands and cools - then only the simplest modes of being can actually survive. And so everything reduces down to whatever mathematical form says is the simplest kind of ... mathematical form.

    If I sound frustrated, its only because the first time we corresponded, it was about ontic structural realism. You seemed to love the idea - yet clearly reading the Ladyman/Ross book has left zero impression on your thinking.
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    Varela in 'The Embodied Mind' made an impassioned plea for scientists to open themselves up to first-person narrative, but it seems to have fallen on stony ground so far.mcdoodle

    You can blame the scientists. But it is the scientists who actually investigate and support the idea of a placebo effect. Its a huge area of research.

    Who you really ought to blame are the public who are so susceptible to woolly mystic beliefs - like that antibiotics can fix their viral infections. Or SSRIs can take away their depression.

    You could also give big pharma a kicking. It is in their financial interest to foster a mechanistic view of pharmacueticals.

    So your fingering of "science" as the problem could hardly be wider of the mark. Science actually pays regards to the evidence in forming its views. You would never have heard of the placebo effect unless it had come to light as a result of research.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    Or SSRIs can take away their depression.apokrisis

    mhm, guess we agree on something.
  • Punshhh
    531
    Good luck with your creative mysticism - which you seem to have faith in without even being able to justify it as a method.


    Well, I don't have much use for faith, it is a rational inquiry. Also the method can be explained, but cannot be demonstrated as of any use, other, perhaps, than in creative insight. Something which goes presumably beyond the scope of the demonstrable, or the reliable.
    Meanwhile scientific reasoning - as defined by Peirce - started producing extraordinarily powerful insights from the moment the ancient Greeks first got going with it.
    Yes, I wouldn't be without it, but it is not actually conducting metaphysics as far as I can see. All it is doing is looking at what we are presented with upon birth( I will label this y) and concluding, or declaring, that that is all there is, if not physically, then in terms of existence as a whole.

    There can't reasonably be considered anything else ( I will label this x ) other than y, because we can't perceive or detect it, or our rational analysis of y doesn't dictate it. And if one were to consider x as anything other than by definition that which is not y, then you are engaged in some kind of wishful thinking, or worse.
    So no surprise that the "two dimensional polarity" of Metaphysical dialectics and hierarchical organisation are what folk stick with. It's success has been "unreasonably" spectacular. We know how and when the Universe began, how and when it will die.
    Again, you are describing y, I'm happy with the explanation, it's very pragmatic, why would we conclude anything else? Well apart from the bit about us actually knowing how the universe began and how it will "die". How anything came to exist, how the existence of anything is sustained. Is this existence "y" some kind of projection of, or from myself, or some other self. How do we deal with the philosophical conundrum of regression in cause? How come it seems not to be a problem in things coming to an end equally as in them coming to be? You know, the questions provided by philosophy. I don't see them being addressed.


    When I realised this I turned my attention to x and to any other philosophical viewpoint which took an interest in x. It was then that I began to see the limitations of just focussing on the y and the human conditioned interpretations of y. It was all a bit jaded.
  • mcdoodle
    553
    So your fingering of "science" as the problem could hardly be wider of the mark. Science actually pays regards to the evidence in forming its views. You would never have heard of the placebo effect unless it had come to light as a result of research.apokrisis

    I keep saying, I'm not fingering science as the problem, I'm only trying to propose a limit to the purview of the scientific view.

    All cultures have healers and to me it's common sense knowledge that visits to the healer, with the culture's beliefs and expectations built into the encounter, sometimes make people feel better even if the healer's potions are made of sugar or wood pulp. Science hasn't discovered or revealed this knowledge to anyone. What science does is take such common sense knowledge and systematise the study of it, which I completely agree, is excellent work, and sweeps away many myths.

    Medical science for a long time had a physical, physiological bias, and resisted scrutiny of what have become known as placebo effects. Clifton K Meador wrote a lovely book 'Symptoms of unknown origin' detailing his life's journey - from medical trainee ridiculing how older practitioners would give patients vitamins or prescribe a dose of brandy - through an intensive 'physicalist' phase of medical research - to his own later mellow understanding that the nature and mood of the medical encounter was and is profoundly important, especially because so many 'presenting' purported medical problems are seemingly intractable. In his and my lifetime placebo studies have mushroomed, and I'm very glad. Indeed there seems to a new phase of bright young researcher-practitioners who are trying to bring first-person accounts into the frame.
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    ...to me it's common sense knowledge that visits to the healer, with the culture's beliefs and expectations built into the encounter, sometimes make people feel better even if the healer's potions are made of sugar or wood pulp.mcdoodle

    But what is the source of this "commonsense" understanding of magical thinking? It can only be that you are benefiting from a tradition of scientific rationality.

    So you are talking about a sense that was decidedly uncommon outside of a scientific metaphysics.

    What science does is take such common sense knowledge and systematise the study of it,mcdoodle

    You invert the causality for reason of polemics. It was the systematic study of nature that has resulted in naturalism (rather than supernaturalism) becoming widespread commonsense in modern society.

    Medical science for a long time had a physical, physiological bias, and resisted scrutiny of what have become known as placebo effects.mcdoodle

    Doctors are the most mechanical of thinkers. I found it quite horrifying as a biologist to start doing neuroscience and be exposed to what seemed the most primitive thinking about natural causality.

    So yes, medical science does have a particular problem. It is after all a discipline that earns it keep by "fixing things". And treating the body or brain like a broken machine is the simple place to start on when you don't really understand the complexity from a deep biological point of view.

    However again, even medical science is science in that in the long run it will be pragmatically self-correcting. So paradigm shifts are possible, and will happen if they deliver better outcomes.

    Indeed there seems to a new phase of bright young researcher-practitioners who are trying to bring first-person accounts into the frame.mcdoodle

    Yep. A good doctor in the front line knows it is about dealing with people holistically. And modern medical training gets that too.

    So your argument boils down to there being a problem with Scientism and an overly-reductionist, overly-mechanical, approach to understanding nature. And it is easy to agree that that mindset has become widespread - especially in popular culture.

    But actual scientists are rarely that dogmatic. Even that arch-reductionist, Francis Crick, replied that he pushed his more wacky hypotheses about the neural basis of consciousness simply in the spirit of putting up ideas that others could actually knock down.

    And my position remains that all phenomena - including ethics and aesthetics - are expressions of natural principles, hence comprehensible by the methods of scientfic reason. Which to be precise, is the triadic cycle of abductive creative guessing, deductive theorising, and inductive confirmation, as outlined in Peircean pragmatist epistemology.

    So indeed, one method to rule them all. :)
  • mcdoodle
    553
    So your argument boils down to...apokrisis

    Apo, I would enjoy debating things with you more if you gave some sign of being the slightest bit interested in learning from other people here. I'm an old git who's learnt a great deal from this forum and the old one, including from many people I've disagreed with, and now I've gone back to grad school in the hope of learning some more. Your constant disparagement of arguments not your own is very wearing. Every point on which you agree with me is immediately balanced by another disparaging remark. Our metaphysics are different: so be it, that's the way it is with metaphysics. Where you have something evidentially to demonstrate to me, I am happy for you to tell me. But your point-by-point remarks above are rhetorical, merely assertive. I don't see what they demonstrate except the differences in our personalities and points of view.
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    Hey, you go on a philosophy forum and not just your arguments, but your premises too, get picked apart. Get used to it.

    You made the assertion that science just systematises commonsense. I provided a counterargument. Now apparently I'm guilty of not just sitting here nodding in encouraging agreement???
  • Noble Dust
    149
    Hey, you go on a philosophy forum and not just your arguments, but your premises too, get picked apart. Get used to it.apokrisis

    Says the guy who's never put his neck out and started a discussion here. >:O
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    If you want threads on the biophysics of substance or the thermodynamic imperative, I could start providing those again. But be careful what you wish for. ;)
  • Noble Dust
    149
    I need to learn! :P
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    And the honest truth is I need to be pushed.

    I'm basically so lazy I need to be made to justify my views by plunging back into the literature to make sure I actually understood what I thought I knew.

    So there is a method here - even if it grates on some.

    I make dangerously bold statements knowing that I'll really look stupid if I get the basic facts wrong. I make the stakes very high for myself so as to give myself no choice but to go do the homework and make sure I'm right.

    But that's enough explaining. Everyone knows this is the internet and that naturally polarises people so they either excessively agree or disagree - and take it all completely personally either way.
  • aletheist
    708
    I make dangerously bold statements knowing that I'll really look stupid if I get the basic facts wrong.apokrisis

    My personality is not conducive to being quite that "reckless," so to speak; but I do see this as a place where I can try out new ideas as working hypotheses, figure out how well I can articulate them, and see whether they hold up to scrutiny.
  • apokrisis
    1.4k
    Abductive reasoning is always reckless! But as you say, then comes the deduction and induction which justifies it as the right thing to have done.
  • Noble Dust
    149
    I make dangerously bold statements knowing that I'll really look stupid if I get the basic facts wrong.apokrisis

    I do the same thing, although clearly from the other side of the "isle".
  • Noble Dust
    149
    Very true, and something we all do, but only to a point. No need to hold the various members of this forum, or another forum, or a university as the only arbiters of truth, or scrutiny, as you say. It's a good breeding-ground. :)
  • Punshhh
    531
    You can't teach an old dog new tricks.( I'm not referring to you by the way;).
  • mcdoodle
    553
    I won't bark at you then :)
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.