3 of 6
3
Excluded Middle? - Keith?
Posted: 22 July 2008 10:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  342
Joined  2007-10-30
CanZen - 21 July 2008 05:28 AM

What I guess I am trying to say John, is why do you have this fear that past “truths” might be lost completely if we accept Keith’s conditions?  Perhaps like phlogiston and the ether, new formulations will destroy the mythological/theological “truths” anyway simply because they were just speculations.

Mythological, philosophical and theological pre-scientific knowledge are records of human experience.  That is what any future knowledge of human conduct and governance will have to be based upon.  Do you have any statistics suggesting that human beings have changed in terms of their cognitive blueprint in the past 5000 years?

I also understand your point about us (humankind) making the same mistakes in the future that we have already made in the past simply because we were oblivious to our history.  This is where we need the interpretive experts like yourself to assist us in establishing a fruitful future.  It is people like yourself John who can help us avoid the wasted time of groping around in the dark because your insights can illuminate paths that we don’t recognize or reveal pitfalls that we haven’t noticed.

To return to a point that I made earlier regarding the studies of Rollo May, M. Scott Peck and Idries Shah:  the major human blunder of the past 5000 years is the erection and maintenance of boundaries designed to protect our sense of who we are by contrasting ourselves with the other.  To avoid this blunder all that we have to do is listen to one another (and that would include listening to the experience of ourselves in the past).  I am not suggesting that we listen uncritically to the experience of others.  The idea of a critical rationalism advocated by Karl Popper, for example, starts with a falsifiable hypothesis which is then subjected to various critiques in order to affirm or deny its validity.  In order to do this in the case of pre-scientific knowledge of human relationships, we have to ease up on the criteria that Keith is proposing. 

Thanks for the thought evident in your reply, CanZen

John

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 July 2008 10:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  663
Joined  2008-05-22

Then we are in agreement here, Bruce. I don’t need scientific verification in a lab to accept Jesus as a historical identity. That’s my “puddle-jump” of faith, and I’m okay with that.

Besides, I would hate to think that perhaps we’ve been spending the past 2,000 years talking about someone who never existed in the first place! That would seem like a waste of everyone’s breath.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 July 2008 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1814
Joined  2006-11-10
Josh - 22 July 2008 02:45 PM

Then we are in agreement here, Bruce. I don’t need scientific verification in a lab to accept Jesus as a historical identity. That’s my “puddle-jump” of faith, and I’m okay with that.

Besides, I would hate to think that perhaps we’ve been spending the past 2,000 years talking about someone who never existed in the first place! That would seem like a waste of everyone’s breath.

Hold on there young Josh.
We don’t care much for this kind of talk around here.
If you, on occasion, agree with one of our resident religionists, the rule is to keep it to yourself.

As all morally sound atheists know, this is a fight to the death and we oughtn’t give an inch to the tenacious theists even if they come in the gentle disguise of Bruce.
Trust me, I have met the guy and he is ruthless, mean, vindictive and although he smiles a lot, I know that he is taking names and will be volunteering to hurl us heathens into cattle cars when his devious plan is finally realized.

So we will ignore this one little indiscretion and consider it an honest mistake any whelp can make, but do it again and there will be no more mister nice-guy and I will bitch-slap your punk-ass back to Kansas.

 Signature 

“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling is for fools.
But that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t want to live forever.”

From the autobiography of A.A.Mills, ‘The passage of time, according to an estranged, casual tyrant.’

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 July 2008 11:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1453
Joined  2005-01-22

Salt Creek.  Just how many feet can you stuff into your mouth at one sitting? Are you going for a record or just not thinking?

First of all you throw out the “mind meld” card as if that’s supposed to herd me in with the “woo-woo” crowd.  But guess what, i could actually understand those keyboard strokes that you sent out from your minding brain and in so doing we have, for all intents and purposes, met in some agreeable realm mediated by the internet.  Is that a “mind-meld?”  That’s as good as its going to get for us, I am fairly sure.

Next you go on as if my use of the word ‘meaningful’ is purely subjective, when I have specifically identified the boundaries (non-controvertial; scientific) that qualify some proposal as meaningful.  This sort of multi-user agreement on the context of ‘meaningful’ gives it an intersubjective domain and only those concepts that meet this criteria can actually be said to be meaningful.  It is this very conditionality that keith uses to throw the word ‘truth’ out the window . . . it has no actual meaning.

THEN you continue by trying to somehow make the term ‘meaningful’ meaningless. At this point I was just shaking my head in bewilderment. Was all this sloppy, shoddy reasoning coming from Salt Creek?  How is it even possible that meaning is NOT at the core of knowledge?  What sort of heavenly creatures can grasp knowledge pure and perfect without the taint of language and meaning to blurr the vision?

Finally, your comment on my envisioned experiment undertaken in an effort to explain what might constitute the human “faculty” we conscience, was a sad case of “there’s nothing new under the sun” kind of minding.  All I can say in regard to your comments S.C. is - if you clearly do not understand what someone is attempting to articulate, why make any comment at all? If we can (through actual experimentation) discover the particular cognitive conditions (given a particular biology, anatomy, and neurology) that allow monkeys to swing from one tree to another, why couldn’t we discover the conditions (cognitive blueprint, as I called it) that allow humans to make moral decisions?

Anyway, maybe I just thought you were so much more intelligent than every one else, but now I’ll have to settle for “more or less” instead.  I’m beginning to realize S.C. that it might be your incredible linguistic skills that have fooled me into accepting “more” than I should have- you do have an incredible way with words (and I will admit that some times you lose me completely).

Bob

Keith and John - I’ll respond later this week.

[ Edited: 22 July 2008 11:39 PM by CanZen]
 Signature 

It’s definitely a moon! . . . and now it’s become a sunflower!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 July 2008 12:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  139
Joined  2008-01-11

Hello CanZen,

I’m not sure who’s position John Brand has been attacking as “Keith’s” in his last couple of posts; but I’d like to state clearly that it isn’t mine. His assertion that the heirarchal selection process that I outline in ‘Truth’s’ Point #4 rules out most of our pre-scintific proposals as knowledge is clearly controverted by Point #4, by countless statements made during our debate, and deliberately explicitly by my post #27 in this thread.

‘Recasting’ of a debating opponent’s position that we are unable to answer into some familiar form that we can answer (in this case ‘scientism’) is a very old debating trick, but no more than that. It has nothing to do with progress towards an honest agreement as to what proposals we will accept as knowledge.

Best regards,

Keith

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 July 2008 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27
CanZen - 23 July 2008 03:34 AM

Finally, your comment on my envisioned experiment undertaken in an effort to explain what might constitute the human “faculty” we conscience, was a sad case of “there’s nothing new under the sun” kind of minding.

The problem you are setting up is part of the old goal of the description by human beings of what it is to be a human being. This subject used to be called “humanities”, and universities still set it off in a separate part of the campus, where you can find the philosophy department. Then there are the kinds of ideas that E. O. Wilson and Dawkins talk about in the context of sociobiology (or evolutionary psychology), the “gene-culture coevolution” thing, and suggest it is ultimately reducible to biology. Wilson suggests terms like “epigenetic rules”, that may get the idea across. His examples illustrate the difficulties in relating gene-plexes to specific commonalities in their cultural manifestations.

“Cognitive blueprint” is a philosophical term that does not contain much semantic content, since “blueprint” refers to something that is not at all like gray matter, and “conscience” is a term that still fits only into discussions of ethics, and is too freighted with the old philosophical (and even religious) baggage that I suggest you come up with a better term.

CanZen - 23 July 2008 03:34 AM

This sort of multi-user agreement on the context of ‘meaningful’ gives it an intersubjective domain and only those concepts that meet this criteria can actually be said to be meaningful.

I agree, absolutely. All you are describing, however, is the fact that most of the audience nods its head and applauds after the symphony conductor has given the last wave of his baton, and turns to bow to that audience. Yes, it’s intersubjective. What you need is a vocabulary that can communicate that on the typewritten page. So far, what I see documents the obvious.

When you use a completely vague term like “meaning” in a way that assumes everyone knows what you are talking about (the same goes for “consciousness”) you are constructing a narrative, and are writing literature. You can try fancy literary tricks, like making those nouns into verbs, but the subterfuge is transparent. The arts are traditionally the way in which human beings communicate “meaning” to each other, including literature. Don’t confuse it with science. Even if science one day identifies the biological basis of “meaning” and “explains how” arts and cultural artifacts communicate it, the task of identifying what it “is” remains the province of metaphysics.

The “mind-meld” idea is not proposed seriously, and remains the safe property of woo-woo captains. The closest thing we have to it right now is the painting, the poem, and the symphony. What we also have is the joy of divergent opinions on what something “means” when expressed by the reviewer or critic: Don’t let it slip by that the first-order explanation for that divergence is that no human being’s world-line coincides with that of another. What someone like John Brand is up to amounts to trying to stuff all those world lines into a sheaf circumscribed by ancient texts. I know that is not what you are up to, so you don’t need to defend yourself. Getting people to understand what they have in common has as its goal something other than getting people to understand what they have in common. The goal of inducing everyone to adopt one goal is the goal of squaring the circle.

Just so you don’t miss my point again, if you want to know what it is to be a human being, you can get a second opinion (that is, from another species that uses language), or you can just say you know because you are one. Don’t obfuscate this. If you want to communicate “meaning” to other people, use art and literature and music and sculpture. Philosophy is not yet ready to join in this project, and the ideological confusion is splashed across the fragmented discourse of your academic literature.

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 July 2008 07:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1539
Joined  2006-12-04
Salt Creek - 23 July 2008 10:40 AM

If you want to communicate “meaning” to other people, use art and literature and music and sculpture. Philosophy is not yet ready to join in this project . . .

Comments like make me happy to be a composer.

 Signature 

“The hands that help are better far than the lips that pray.”
          — Robert G. Ingersoll

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 July 2008 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27
CanZen - 23 July 2008 03:34 AM

This sort of multi-user agreement on the context of ‘meaningful’ gives it an intersubjective domain and only those concepts that meet this criteria can actually be said to be meaningful.

This leaves out so much as to render it useless generality. If you do not elaborate, this is the same as the argument that “fifty billion flies cannot be wrong”. Multi-user agreement that the Koran is “meaningful” cannot seriously be denied. What is interesting is the nature of the disagreement. This is something I already pointed out. It is “disagreement” rather than “agreement” that is the lifeblood of science. About which there is agreement, there is no discussion.

The attitude in the humanities that seeks agreement (Keith’s “truth claims”) is diametrically opposed to that in the sciences. Get used to this distinction, and at least make a vain fucking attempt to understand it.

[ Edited: 23 July 2008 09:19 AM by Traces Elk]
 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 July 2008 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17
Salt Creek - 23 July 2008 01:15 PM
CanZen - 23 July 2008 03:34 AM

This sort of multi-user agreement on the context of ‘meaningful’ gives it an intersubjective domain and only those concepts that meet this criteria can actually be said to be meaningful.

This leaves out so much as to render it useless generality. If you do not elaborate, this is the same as the argument that “fifty billion flies cannot be wrong”. Multi-user agreement that the Koran is “meaningful” cannot seriously be denied. What is interesting is the nature of the disagreement. This is something I already pointed out. It is “disagreement” rather than “agreement” that is the lifeblood of science. About which there is agreement, there is no discussion.

The attitude in the humanities that seeks agreement (Keith’s “truth claims”) is diametrically opposed to that in the sciences. Get used to this distinction, and at least make a vain fucking attempt to understand it.

An interesting distinction because disagreement is far more prevalent in the humanities.  The role of disagreement is service of the goal of a discipline is important and as your say, what is interesting is the nature of the disagreement.  In science, disagreement is used as a means of coming to agreement on what is to be accepted as an empirical result, or what is acceptable as current theory.  In other words, the dynamism of science arises through attempts to resolve disagreements.  In the humanities, disagreement is not expected to be resolved.  Rather, the goal is for participants in a debate to come to deeper understandings of the subject matter, to develop more nuanced views, to further their understanding of other points of view, without the necessity of agreement.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 July 2008 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27
burt - 23 July 2008 04:23 PM

In other words, the dynamism of science arises through attempts to resolve disagreements.  In the humanities, disagreement is not expected to be resolved.

WTF? Is “deeper understanding”? WTF? Is “more nuanced view”? WTF? WTF? Understanding? Is there “understanding” of “understanding”? Uh-uh!

Know why disagreements in science lead to dynamism? Because when “phlogiston” is shown to be a nonsense word, people stop using it. In philosophy, people (apparently) do not stop using the word “deeper”. Why is that? Do philosophers have their heads up their asses? Deeper?

burt - 23 July 2008 04:23 PM

to develop more nuanced views, to further their understanding of other points of view, without the necessity of agreement.

You mean, the capacity to chow down on bullshit and not puke? That’s what “understanding” is, in philosophy.

[ Edited: 23 July 2008 01:01 PM by Traces Elk]
 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 July 2008 12:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3208
Joined  2007-04-26
Salt Creek - 23 July 2008 04:42 PM

WTF? Is “deeper understanding”? WTF? Is “more nuanced view”? WTF? WTF? Understanding? Is there “understanding” of “understanding”?

I share SC’s very sensible objections to vagueness and intangibility. Those concepts are meaningless without specifics. It’s like trying to wrap one’s arms around a mist.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 July 2008 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17
Carstonio - 23 July 2008 04:52 PM
Salt Creek - 23 July 2008 04:42 PM

WTF? Is “deeper understanding”? WTF? Is “more nuanced view”? WTF? WTF? Understanding? Is there “understanding” of “understanding”?

I share SC’s very sensible objections to vagueness and intangibility. Those concepts are meaningless without specifics. It’s like trying to wrap one’s arms around a mist.

So you reject the value of the humanities?  Perhaps neither you nor Salt Creek have had the experience of hearing a symphony and realizing that there was much more in it than one thought the last time one heard it.  Or seeing a performance of, say, The Tempest, and seeing new things in it, not seen before.  Or engaging in a discussion about a book with somebody who disagrees with you and at the end thinking that you still disagree, but he has made some points that show how your views can be refined.  Do you really need a meter stick before allowing that such experiences allow “deeper” understanding?  If so, you must be leading pretty shallow lives.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 July 2008 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27
burt - 23 July 2008 06:30 PM

So you reject the value of the humanities?  Perhaps neither you nor Salt Creek have had the experience of hearing a symphony and realizing that there was much more in it than one thought the last time one heard it.  Or seeing a performance of, say, The Tempest, and seeing new things in it, not seen before.  Or engaging in a discussion about a book with somebody who disagrees with you and at the end thinking that you still disagree, but he has made some points that show how your views can be refined.  Do you really need a meter stick before allowing that such experiences allow “deeper” understanding?  If so, you must be leading pretty shallow lives.

Well, Burt, two or three weeks ago, it seems, you were essentially creaming your shorts to tell me how great the fiction of Robert Anton Wilson is. It seems you like everything. Do you know what one of the meanings of the word “critical” is? It has something to do with being able to distinguish shit from shinola. How well do you think you’re doing, or is your main shtick simply telling other people what shallow lives they must be leading because they don’t have your urbane tastes?

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 July 2008 06:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3208
Joined  2007-04-26
burt - 23 July 2008 06:30 PM

Perhaps neither you nor Salt Creek have had the experience of hearing a symphony and realizing that there was much more in it than one thought the last time one heard it.  Or seeing a performance of, say, The Tempest, and seeing new things in it, not seen before.  Or engaging in a discussion about a book with somebody who disagrees with you and at the end thinking that you still disagree, but he has made some points that show how your views can be refined.

I’ve had such experiences plenty of times. My point is that those experiences are irrelevant to the cause of determining the exact nature and properties of the physical universe. That cause allows no room for inexactitude and vagueness and intangibility. One can appreciate the humanities while recognizing that these are almost useless for determining the nature of the universe. Part of the objection to religion is that it blurs the line between sciences and humanities.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 July 2008 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2821
Joined  2005-04-29
John Brand - 22 July 2008 02:45 PM

. . .

. . . I am not suggesting that we listen uncritically to the experience of others.  The idea of a critical rationalism advocated by Karl Popper, for example, starts with a falsifiable hypothesis which is then subjected to various critiques in order to affirm or deny its validity.  In order to do this in the case of pre-scientific knowledge of human relationships, we have to ease up on the criteria that Keith is proposing. . . .

John, to clarify what I’ve been trying to get at and what Salt Creek seems to be saying with blunt force: literature and other arts are where the cognitively ambitious reside. At some point in their lives, such people read Plato, Homer and quite a few of the other ancients, but they tend not to continually go back and attempt to shove the dead asses of the Greeks out of their graves. What you may think of the term “truth” is a minor issue, I suspect. We all know how slippery the word can be, and have been properly warned by keith as to its inherent dangers. But do you agree with me here in what I say about how sensibly to go about seeking truth claims? The ancients may have been amazingly insightful given the tools they had to work with, but new “truth”-seeking tools far surpass theirs. Science teachers don’t go back to their outdated textbooks to make assignments. They’d be laughed out of their jobs, or maybe even forced out.

 Signature 

Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 6
3
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed