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Posted: 19 December 2008 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 661 ]  
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keith - 19 December 2008 11:43 AM

As to Burt’s claim: I agree with it in the very clear and limited sense that can be seen to underlie this thread’s Post #32. I think that reason can – per ‘Truth’s’ Point 6 – show itself to be our only fully coherent basis for knowledge selection. It cannot therefore ‘point beyond itself’ in the sense that I believe Burt to be suggesting*. It can only do so in the sense of understanding that even it exists merely in terms of, and by virtue of, the divisions that we impose on reality; and that these can be seen to include even our deepest division (for each of us, the ‘me’ as distinct from ‘everything else’).

*I’m afraid that what Burt wants from ‘point beyond itself’ is to be able to keep thinking of himself as a rationalist while avoiding the obligation that this seems to me to entail; of pointing out to all who he can see to propagating systems of proposals that are antithetical to reason (first, and ‘tip of the iceberg’, all of our ancient theisms) that they are wrong in the simplest and clearest sense of ‘wrong’ that can be established by human minds.

I’ll clarify.  The proto-Indo-European root for the word reason is ar, which means something like “to fit together.”  So at the basic level I see reason as a process of mental fitting together.  As you’ve pointed out, what gets fit together are the distinctions that we make, and making distinctions involves a process of collecting like things into mental “things” (I wanted to say categories, but that would lead to confusion with Aristotle’s categorical logic).  That sort of collection involves a “logic” (the root word for logic is leg, meaning “to collect, to speak”).  Rationality, on the other hand, I take as reasoning with the use of a logic that has coherent criteria for distinguishing and identifying the things that get grouped together.  This is a mental process so at the first level, saying that it can point beyond itself suggests that reasoning about something drawn from sensory perceptions (or their instrumental equivalents) can point beyond to something that fits in the material world.  At a second level, reasoning can point beyond itself in analysis of itself, pointing to its own limitations (as in the Gödel theorems, for example).  I don’t think you would disagree with either of those.  At a third level, however, reasoning can be turned on the reasoner, pointing out that the “me” is not a thing, but the result of various processes and it can identify the ways in which some of those processes are biased leading to faulty reasoning about other things or processes.  Since reasoning itself is a process carried out in a mind, it points beyond this but cannot indicate what it is pointing at other than in the negative (as with the “what is” of Parmenides, or the absolutely infinite in mathematics).  So the duty of pure reason is not to tell people who hold some obviously false belief that they are wrong (except under conditions where that would actually do some good rather than just making them more rigid in their belief), it is to do what is rationally necessary according to its perception of the situation.  Salt Creek does what he sees fit (for whatever reasons) but his perceptions are biased by various psychological factors that he has never investigated or understood, so he is mostly just ego-tripping.

[ Edited: 19 December 2008 08:50 AM by burt]
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Posted: 19 December 2008 08:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 662 ]  
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burt - 19 December 2008 01:44 PM

Salt Creek does what he sees fit (for whatever reasons) but his perceptions are biased by various psychological factors that he has never investigated or understood, so he is mostly just ego-tripping.

And you know this how, exactly? You pretentious fuckwit.

Rationality, on the other hand, I take as reasoning with the use of a logic that has coherent criteria for distinguishing and identifying the things that get grouped together.

Of course, Spurt. Things that exist get grouped together with things that exist. Things that don’t exist get grouped together with other non-existent stuff. Next tautology?

[ Edited: 19 December 2008 09:09 AM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 19 December 2008 09:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 663 ]  
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Salt Creek - 19 December 2008 01:54 PM

And you know this how, exactly? You pretentious fuckwit.

Look at it like this.

Burt:

“I’ll clarify.  The proto-Indo-European root for the word reason is ar, which means something like “to fit together.” So at the basic level I see reason as a process of mental fitting together.  As you’ve pointed out, what gets fit together are the distinctions that we make, and making distinctions involves a process of collecting like things into mental “things” (I wanted to say categories, but [blah blah Aristole blah blah pure reason blah blah right action blah blah Parminedes blah blah blah].”

And then, out of nowhere, just tacked onto the end of all that blather:

“Salt Creek does what he sees fit (for whatever reasons) but his perceptions are biased by various psychological factors that he has never investigated or understood, so he is mostly just ego-tripping.”

Burt can hardly get through a post without bringing your alleged psychopathology into it, even if it has to be done with a shoehorn. 

Look on it as an accomplishment: you’ve got him contributing to Non Sequitur Dinner Theater, probably against his own volition and better judgement if he thought about it.  Not exactly a goal one aspires to.

[ Edited: 19 December 2008 09:20 PM by M is for Malapert]
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Posted: 20 December 2008 07:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 664 ]  
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M is for Malapert - 20 December 2008 02:16 AM

“Salt Creek does what he sees fit (for whatever reasons) but his perceptions are biased by various psychological factors that he has never investigated or understood, so he is mostly just ego-tripping.”

Burt can hardly get through a post without bringing your alleged psychopathology into it, even if it has to be done with a shoehorn. 

Look on it as an accomplishment: you’ve got him contributing to Non Sequitur Dinner Theater, probably against his own volition and better judgement if he thought about it.  Not exactly a goal one aspires to.

I just like pushing salty’s buttons, they are such an easy target and his responses are so predictable.  Maybe someday he will realize how mechanical his behavior is.

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Posted: 20 December 2008 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 665 ]  
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The part I especially liked was…

M is for Malapert - 20 December 2008 02:16 AM

Burt:

“I’ll clarify.  The proto-Indo-European root for the word reason is ar, which means something like “to fit together.” So at the basic level I see reason as a process of mental fitting together.  As you’ve pointed out, what gets fit together are the distinctions that we make, and making distinctions involves a process of collecting like things into mental “things” (I wanted to say categories, but [blah blah Aristole blah blah pure reason blah blah right action blah blah Parminedes blah blah blah].”

We have two internet dweebs, amateur psychoanalysts, each claiming to be pushing the other’s buttons. One of them feels the need to go

but [blah blah Aristole blah blah pure reason blah blah right action blah blah Parminedes blah blah blah]

in order to do it.  This seems a bit extreme, and very dweeby into the bargain.

I was only hoping someone would notice my evisceration of Keith’s loquacious wibbling, having gotten him to admit that he hopes (nay, believes) his thesis is unbreakable. There’s a certain amount of truthiness in it, but the privileged POV hasn’t really been fucked with, yet.

I’m just waiting for Keith to recommend a bit of quote-unquote knowledge from the philosophical wibblers that doesn’t need Viagra and a brick wall to lean against in order to stand up to science. I understand that human beings cannot pick themselves up by their own ankles, but philosophy has made the most attempts to do so….

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Posted: 23 December 2008 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 666 ]  
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burt - 14 December 2008 02:08 PM
keith - 14 December 2008 12:38 PM

** Once more: If Point 1 stands (if we create all of the divisions through which we can have knowledge) then we have never had a special and better kind of knowledge. Reason and ‘truth’ are simply, at this deepest accessible level, mutually exclusive.”

I think we’re in agreement that rationally constructed views of the world and of experience can only be imperfect images, but reason can point beyond itself.  The catch is that what it points to can’t, by definition, be rational (if it could be captured in concepts and language then it could be analyzed and rationalized).  That is why, as I see it, all the various theist beliefs and other systems such as Buddhism, while apparently contradictory, may be pointing to the same reality although they are, for the most part hopelessly outdated in their conceptual apparatus, and burdened with much that is just attempts to impose what once were thought of as necessary social controls. (In one sense, they mistake the container for the content and so each insists that it’s particular glass is the only one that wine can be drunk from.)

I think that we are pretty close to being in agreement, but not – as noted in my last post to SC – on this matter of reason ‘pointing beyond itself’ in the way I must understand you to be implying from some of your earlier posts. I won’t rehash here the limited way in which I think that it can point beyond itself. But I’d like to be more explicit, for you and SC, on how I think it can’t. What reason can’t do, from my side, is to continue to bear silent witness to our propagation of blatant irrationality. When we see parents or educators or religious leaders trying to sell proposals to children, or ‘the voters’ or whoever, that we can see to be clearly controverted by reason then I think that reason requires us to speak up. As I’ve tried to make clear, such proposals can be seen to include at least all ideological and theological ‘knowledge’. For example: proposals that are in any meaningful sense Christian can be seen to be in that sense, and to exactly that extent, antithetical to reason. As noted previously; the defining ontological story for each one of our theologies can be seen to rest entirely upon its miracles. To be clear, I am not saying ‘99.99%’, I’m saying entirely. If the miracles reported by the Christian Bible did not happen (if there was no virgin birth, no water walking, no resurrection after three days of being dead, and so on) then we have no reason for accepting any shred of the ontological story that distinguishes Christianity from Islam, Judaism or Scientology. Most simply, we have no basis for Christianity’s selection as knowledge. We know now, from the entire enormous, internally consistent and ultimately observation grounded body of our scientific knowledge, that these kinds of events don’t happen. We know, exactly as surely as we can know anything, that they never did happen. We can also clearly see the psychological damage that we are maintaining in all of our societies through our continued propagation of such proposals as knowledge. I must therefore suggest that reason compels us to oppose them; and to oppose them totally. Immediate intellectual blitzkrieg. My plan for initiating and pursuing that is laid out in ‘Truth?’, but it seems to be where you and I part company. I understand that you want to fight, but in a limited gentlemanly and piecemeal kind of way. Basically, without really upsetting any of our intellectual opponents. I fear that you wish to use ‘reason pointing beyond itself’ to hold open that option.         

Re your final sentence above: I’d agree, but note that this is exactly the kind of silliness that I’m proposing we eliminate.

BR,

Keith

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Posted: 23 December 2008 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 667 ]  
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burt - 14 December 2008 03:18 PM

I dug the Spencer-Brown reference out of an old file.

“We take as given the idea of distinction and the idea of indication, and that we cannot make an indication without drawing a distinction.
“We take, therefore, the form of distinction as the Form.
“Distinction is perfect continence.
“That is to say, a distinction is drawn by arranging a boundary with separate sides so that a point on one side cannot reach the other side without crossing the boundary.  For example, in a plane space a circle draws a distinction.
“Once a distinction is drawn, the spaces, states, or contents on each side of the boundary, being distinct, can be indicated.
“There can be no distinction without motive, and there can be no motive unless contents are seen to differ in value. 
“If a content is of value, a name can be taken to indicate this value.
“Thus the calling of the name can be identified with the value of the content.”


Thanks for the digging. I think that the quote is all very well; but the first few lines seem to me to make its operative point. In Point 1 of ‘Truth?’ I agree with Spencer Brown about what we can see ourselves to have been doing, but try to offer the additional insight that we can see this to have always been wrong.

Best regards,

Keith

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Posted: 23 December 2008 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 668 ]  
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keith - 23 December 2008 01:06 PM

We know now, from the entire enormous, internally consistent and ultimately observation grounded body of our scientific knowledge, that these kinds of events don’t happen.

You quite simply do not “know” that these events never happened. You do not think they happened, and you are not convinced that they did happen, but you cannot truthfully say that you “know” that the miracles reported in the New Testament never did happen. And then to say that “(w)e know, exactly as surely as we can know anything, that they never did happen” is simply ridiculous. Miracles are claimed historical events, and in the case of the NT, events that happened, if at all, 2000 years ago. You simply cannot say that you “know” something about a claimed 2000-year-old historical event with the same certainty as something that happened today. Significant things that happened today are documented in ways that were not available 2000 years ago. Your level of knowledge about ancient events can NEVER equal the knowledge that you have about something that happened today. If your level of knowledge about historical events is less than your knowledge of current events, then your knowledge of historical events is simply not as absolute as you claim. And if your “knowledge” is not absolute, you could be totally wrong. Your post was an exaggeration.

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Posted: 23 December 2008 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 669 ]  
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Bruce,

“Not knowing” some 2,000+ year old events took place is true, but then assigning a small probability that something remotely associated with those events being reported accurately across 2,000 years seems reasonable. 

Gad, events taking place yesterday are often misreported, not taking into account multiple language translations and interpretations across 2,000 years.  Whatever happened to whom and when, and then reflected across multiple language interpretations and used as “evidence” would be thrown out of any court these days.  Biblical script is more akin to a Rorschach or TAT than anything else.

Dennis

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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 24 December 2008 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 670 ]  
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Dennis Campbell - 23 December 2008 08:21 PM

Bruce,

“Not knowing” some 2,000+ year old events took place is true, but then assigning a small probability that something remotely associated with those events being reported accurately across 2,000 years seems reasonable.

Fine, I agree. Place a small degree of probability on an ancient event. But it is simply fallacious to claim that you can “know” that something did not happen 2000 years ago with the same certainty that you can “know” what happened in your own life today. That’s what Keith claimed, in essence.

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Posted: 24 December 2008 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 671 ]  
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Bruce,

“Knowledge” is a relative term, obviously.  Many things happened 2,000 years ago, and some fragments of a few events are reflected in remains of scripts multiply translated.  To use those as a basis for “knowledge” now is poorly based indeed.

Dennis

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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 01 January 2009 11:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 672 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 23 December 2008 08:07 PM
keith - 23 December 2008 01:06 PM

We know now, from the entire enormous, internally consistent and ultimately observation grounded body of our scientific knowledge, that these kinds of events don’t happen.

You quite simply do not “know” that these events never happened. You do not think they happened, and you are not convinced that they did happen, but you cannot truthfully say that you “know” that the miracles reported in the New Testament never did happen. And then to say that “(w)e know, exactly as surely as we can know anything, that they never did happen” is simply ridiculous. Miracles are claimed historical events, and in the case of the NT, events that happened, if at all, 2000 years ago. You simply cannot say that you “know” something about a claimed 2000-year-old historical event with the same certainty as something that happened today. Significant things that happened today are documented in ways that were not available 2000 years ago. Your level of knowledge about ancient events can NEVER equal the knowledge that you have about something that happened today. If your level of knowledge about historical events is less than your knowledge of current events, then your knowledge of historical events is simply not as absolute as you claim. And if your “knowledge” is not absolute, you could be totally wrong. Your post was an exaggeration.

Excellent! I think that I quite simply do know – from the position that I explained in detail in ‘Truth?’ – that the NT miracles didn’t happen. So we are now in a position of clear and solid disagreement. From here, in reference to T?’s Point 3, I think that some real progress should be possible.

Let’s compare (A) the strongest form of my statement re the NT miracles (‘we know, exactly as surely as we can know anything, that they never did happen’) to (B) the most extreme statement of immediate repeatable-observation-based-knowledge that we can concoct. I’ll propose for B; that if I stand here on the earth’s surface and steadily hold out a brick, and then release it, it will fall. I understand your position now to be that B can be known with greater certainty than A, based on our ability to reconfirm B at will. But from my side (and Hume’s and Popper’s) this greater certainty is an illusion. I think that to whatever extent we can establish justification for B [and, SC, I do indeed believe that we can do this] we can also and equally establish it for A. We can only establish it for B through our acceptance of the assumptions that we can see to underlie Induction (specifically: the existence of a free standing ‘extra human’ reality, whose future behavior will in some significant sense resemble its past behavior)*. But having embraced these assumptions I cannot then understand our apparent suspension of them in order to allow our acceptance of proposals like the NT miracles. If we must accept as valid our expectation of consistency between our present and future observations (that we can know, from seeing the brick fall this time, that it will do so next time) then must we not equally accept the expectation of consistency between our present and past observations? This expectation seems to me to clearly rule out the NT miracles. To look at just one of them, water walking, this would be precisely as weird as a released but non falling brick. Not 99.99% as weird, but precisely as weird; in that both would require suspension of the same physical law (gravity). Now; there is of course the completely ‘alternative’ proposal advanced by Christians. In effect, that the whole of science deals only with a kind of auto-pilot mode for physical reality; which can be suspended/over-ridden at any time and in any way through the will of their supernatural being. But I find that proposal to be incoherent, so I think that we have been maintaining it only through the mind damage that we have been propagating through our assumption of possession of a reason-opposable knowledge basis. The two problem questions for any assertion of the form ‘It was all done by a supernatural being’ seem to me to be (1) What, exactly, was done; and (2) by which supernatural being. Our species has observably thrown up millions of logically exclusive ontological stories (i.e., stories that contain millions of different miracles, each set of which purports to justify our acceptance of a different supernatural being or set of such beings). I can find no intellectually honest process through which any one of these stories can be selected over any other. If I try to select on the basis of ancient texts, or endorsement by venerable elders, or even emotional appeal (recall; each one of our theisms contains at some level the injunction that its own proponents should rule the world) then I will be unable to do so. They all have these. How then can I become functionally a Christian (i.e., a Christian to the exclusion of being a Mormon or a Mithraist or a Manichiest)? To the extent that I engage my mental faculty that I can see to be capable of honest selection it will not lead me to any of our theisms. You and I and SC understand exactly where it will lead me; and we can see that that position logically controverts my acceptance of the NT miracles. Human beings simply don’t – through reference to that entire body of knowledge – walk on water, or turn it into wine, or rise from the dead.

*I am not suggesting Induction as a ‘truth’ basis. I’m suggesting it as a best apparent basis for our critical selection of best present knowledge. I remain entirely open to suggestions for a superior basis from any quarter. ‘Truth?’ is my statement of my inability to find any such thing, and of what I understand to be the simple rational implications of that inability.

In summary; I’m saying that if we select proposals as knowledge on the basis that I’ve outlined in ‘Truth?’, and that seems to me to be our only functional and coherent one, we will be constrained to select both, and equally, proposals B and A. That bricks released at the earth’s surface fall; and that the NT miracles did not happen.   

In response to your last couple of sentences: Yes, and of course, A and B could both be wrong. Possessing no independent basis through which I can hold some of my proposals as absolute in the sense that you still seem to desire for some of yours I might be constrained, through future observations, to abandon either or both of them. What I’m saying is merely that I can see myself to have equal and sufficient grounds for now for holding them both as knowledge.

BR,

Keith

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Posted: 01 January 2009 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 673 ]  
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  Dennis Campbell - 23 December 2008 06:21 PM

  Bruce,

  “Not knowing” some 2,000+ year old events took place is true, but then assigning a small probability that something remotely associated with those events being reported accurately across 2,000 years seems reasonable.

Fine, I agree. Place a small degree of probability on an ancient event. But it is simply fallacious to claim that you can “know” that something did not happen 2000 years ago with the same certainty that you can “know” what happened in your own life today. That’s what Keith claimed, in essence.

Bruce,

I cannot “know,” with certainty, that there’s not little green men living on the back side of Mars, cleverly hiding at the bottom of cantons, who are watching us as agents for a remote power somewhere in the galaxy.  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and all that. 

But I’m quite comfortable making a bet that they do not exist,

Dennis

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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 01 January 2009 06:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 674 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 24 December 2008 01:45 PM

Fine, I agree. Place a small degree of probability on an ancient event. But it is simply fallacious to claim that you can “know” that something did not happen 2000 years ago with the same certainty that you can “know” what happened in your own life today. That’s what Keith claimed, in essence.

And that’s what you bank on to chop a baby in half...and pass your collective judgments, thereby causing a lot of real people a lot of real grief? Where, I wonder, does intelligence and wisdom ever kick in?

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Posted: 01 January 2009 06:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 675 ]  
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goodgraydrab - 01 January 2009 11:14 PM
Bruce Burleson - 24 December 2008 01:45 PM

Fine, I agree. Place a small degree of probability on an ancient event. But it is simply fallacious to claim that you can “know” that something did not happen 2000 years ago with the same certainty that you can “know” what happened in your own life today. That’s what Keith claimed, in essence.

And that’s what you bank on to chop a baby in half...and pass your collective judgments, thereby causing a lot of real people a lot of real grief? Where, I wonder, does intelligence and wisdom ever kick in?

I have no idea what you are talking about regarding chopping a baby in half. If you are talking about Solomon, the baby was not chopped in half, and that was 1000 years before Jesus. Where, indeed, does intelligence and wisdom ever kick in with your posts?

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