30 October 2007

Concerning Pleasurable Verbs

From Colin McGinn's review of Pinker's new book:

Of particular interest to the grammarian is the fact that in English all the impolite words for the sexual act are transitive verbs, while all the polite forms involve intransitive verbs: fuck, screw, hump, shag, bang versus have sex, make love, sleep together, go to bed, copulate. As Pinker astutely observes, the transitive sexual verbs, like other verbs in English, bluntly connote the nature of the motion involved in the reported action with an agent and a receiver of that motion, whereas the intransitive forms are discreetly silent about exactly how the engaged objects move in space. The physical forcefulness of the act is thus underlined in the transitive forms but not in the intransitive ones. None of this explains why some verbs for intercourse are offensive while others are not, but it's surely significant that different physical images are conjured up by the different sexual locutions—with fuck semantically and syntactically like stab and have sex like have lunch.
"Violate" is transitive, but I wouldn't have thought it was impolite. It's only usable to describe offensive sorts of sex acts, but that doesn't make the term impolite. If you want to speak about rape politely, "violated" is probably going to be a useful term. "Ravage" is also transitive, but strikes me as not so much obscene as ridiculous -- it seems to have a halo of cheap cologne. "Keep company" is transitive, yet is as innocent a euphemism as "sleep together". For that matter, "sleep with" is transitive, and if "sleep together" is inoffensive then "sleep with" wouldn't seem to be any worse.

In what way is "go to bed" silent about how the engaged couple moved in space? The bed is in space, and they went to it. It's silent about many interesting aspects of how they were moving, but then so is "fucked like rabbits". There are all sorts of movements that could involve. I have no idea what specific sorts of motions "fucked" is supposed to connote here; there are several candidates that come to mind, but it's hardly clearer than "slept with" would be.

In what way does "shag" underline "the physical forcefulness of the act" while "have sex" does not? I am not a Brit, and so I do not tend to use the term "shag", yet I know how to use it, and I know that it is generally offensive. Yet its relation to the "physical forcefulness" of sex is a mystery to me. It sounds like carpeting. "Have sex" brings the physical force to mind much more clearly, to my mind. Though I will happily grant that "shag" is a transitive verb. It takes a direct object. (Not "takes" in the sense in which "takes" is offensive, as in "He took her from behind." Did "It takes a direct object" underline the physical forcefulness of anything? If it did, I apologize; I didn't mean for my grammatical remark to be so rude.)

I suspect that the "physical images" McGinn conjures in the final sentence quoted may tell us more about McGinn than about English grammar. If I call to mind a physical image which "fits" the phrase "have sex", it does not much resemble a "physical image" of two people eating lunch. (Perhaps McGinn goes to a different class of restaurants than I do.) That McGinn thinks "fuck" and "stab" are similar qua "physical images" is something I would have preferred not to know; the parallels are clear enough if one looks for them, but it's kinda creepy that this is what came to McGinn's mind when he needed an example.

The whole review's a mess. I should probably read Pinker at some point, if only to see if he really is as bad as he'd appeared. Hopefully his jokes are as good as Zizek's.

24 October 2007

Against the Orthodox Lord

"Towards a Heterodox Reading of 'Lordship and Bondage'" was worth struggling through; McDowell sticks quite close to Hegel's text for most of the essay, so I had to re-read the first part of "Self-Consciousness" just to follow what he was saying. It pays off, though; refusing to pick out sections of the text in abstraction from their context lets McDowell make clear just how odd the standard reading of "Lordship and Bondage" is. Specifically, the "heterodoxy" of McDowell's reading is that there's a single person in Lord & Bondsman, and not two separate humans. I'm convinced he's right, after reading the Hegel passages again.

For a while I'd been bothered by two things about the "orthodox" reading of "Lordship and Bondage" (more or less, the version Kojeve expounds). Firstly: Why are there suddenly two people, here? There's no real socialization going on in the sections on Sense-Certainity/Perception/Force and the Understanding which lead up to "Lordship and Bondage", and there's no real socialization in the sections on Stocism/Skepticism/The Unhappy Consciousness which follow it. It looked like Hegel had bracketed a struggle among primitive humans with sections detailing conceptual muddles from the history of philosophy. And even stranger, the second person suddenly appeared in "Lordship and Bondage" despite the fact that society in general doesn't show up until Hegel starts discussing ethics later in the book. The impression I got was that there wasn't a "good" way out of the muddles in "Force and the Understanding" without pointing to some extra-Phenomenological facts; but the troubles of the working slave (who goes through Stoicism to Skepticism to Unhappy Consciousness to Reason) also solved the problems of "Force and the Understanding", so Hegel (as it were) started again, running through a second path, and in so doing cleared both his current path and the one he'd halted on. McDowell's reading makes the progression much smoother. There's not a second person (the random passer-by who demands recognition and struggles to the death to get it), there's still just our one confused thinker who we've been following along for the rest of the book.

The second problem I had with the "orthodox" reading was: What happened to the Lord? Kojeve said he got "bored" and just dropped out of history; Fukuyama (in "The End of History & The Last Man") said that mutually-recognitive slaves either reduced the Lord to a member of their own ranks or murdered him in an insurrection. Neither of these is a satisfying resolution, and neither has any basis in Hegel's text. The Lord just drops out of the picture. The progress of the Phenomenology continues with the working slave, who has found himself to be a being-for-self of sorts in that he can remake objects in nature to accord with his own notions of how things should be. By the "Unhappy Consciousness" the slave has become both slave and master, but there was never any hint as to how the master (the original one, who made the slave his slave) was supposed to also become both slave and master (since afterwards our thinker is always both, it appeared that the master had to have also been reconciled to his slave, and not just the slave to the master). It seemed quite odd that Hegel had a loose end hanging, there. Again, McDowell's reading solves this. The "master" was never anything but the slave, and so the aufheben of the one is the aufheben of both. No dangling plot-threads need resolving.

Rereading "Lordship and Bondage" with McDowell's suggestion in mind was like reading an entirely new section; suddenly the odd introductions and jumps were all smoothed out, and "The Truth of Self-Certainty" finally appeared at least modestly comprehensible. Previously, I'd had no danged idea what that section was trying to say; it was just a stumbling-block between the Understanding and Stoicism's working slave. I'd figured it was just a badly-written introduction for the new stuff that came along with the struggle to the death etc.

I'm glad I read "Hegel's Idealism as a Radicalization of Kant" before this paper. McDowell runs through most of the material from the earlier paper in a very brief form in "Heterodox Lordship & Bondage", and it was nice to not have to try to work out his views from the short form they had here. Really, "Heterodox Lordship" is mostly a paper on Hegel interpretation; as far as McDowell's broader project goes, he's covering the same ground as in his "Radicalization of Kant" essay.

In short: Very nice essay. Between this, "Radicalization of Kant", and the recent essay Currence passed along on "Overcoming the Myth of the Given", it occurs to me that much of McDowell's post-M&W work involves him getting closer and closer to Kant & Hegel, taking up more and more of their work for his own seesaw-dismounting ends. In the preface to Mind and World, McDowell had said that his book might serve as a "prolegomena to a reading of the Phenomenology of Spirit", and it appears he has taken his own suggestion. I welcome this development.

20 October 2007

What was wrong with propositional content? Oh, that.

Edit: Skip to the footnote to see me finally catch on. Feel free to read the rest of the post if you think it'd be fun to see me struggle my way through things. I threw it behind Tsukasa-Hisui, since a great whopping lot of it strikes me as wrong now. But I spent enough time writing it up that I'm not deleting it, dagnabbit. And I still don't like the "intuitional unity" stuff; McDowell seems to be trying to save more of Kant that I'm inclined to think is worthwhile. (And I'm inclined to save a lot!)

Reading McDowell's "Avoiding the Myth of the Given." Still not sure why he felt the need to revise his old way of saying things. And more puzzlingly, I have no idea what his new rejection of the idea that recognitional capacities can be active in the content of an experience was prompted by, nor whether or not it has anything to do with his new-found discomfort with the phrase "propositional content".

I will look at recognition first, since this bit puzzles me more. McDowell:

On my old assumption, since my experience puts me in a position to know noninferentially that what I see is a cardinal, its content would have to include a proposition in which the concept of a cardinal figures: perhaps one expressible, on the occasion, by saying “That’s a cardinal”. But what seems right is this: my experience makes the bird visually present to me, and my recognitional capacity enables me to know noninferentially that what I see is a cardinal. Even if we go on assuming my experience has content, there is no need to suppose that the concept under which my recognitional capacity enables me to bring what I see figures in that content.

Consider an experience had, in matching circumstances, by someone who cannot immediately identify what she sees as a cardinal. Perhaps she has never heard of cardinals. Her experience might be just like mine in how it makes the bird visually present to her. It is true that in an obvious sense things look different to me and to her. To me what I see looks like (looks to be) a cardinal, and to her it does not. But that is just to say that my experience inclines me, and her similar experience does not incline her, to say it is a cardinal. There is no ground here for insisting that the concept of a cardinal must figure in the content of my experience itself.
It appears that the upshot of McDowell's new (Travis-inspired) view is that we can say that two experiences have the same content, though in each of them things look different (depending on the recognitional capacities of the one having the experience). I don't get why this seems like an improvement over McDowell's old way of talking. Separating "how things look to me" from "how things are given to me in my experience" strikes me as undesirable, and this is how the new way of speaking seems to trend. Certainly we should want to be able to say that in some respect two people who are able to recognize different aspects of the world are able to nonetheless "see the same thing" -- in a sense the one who can identify the cardinal as a cardinal sees the same thing as the one who just sees it as a bird. And in a sense they don't see the same thing: one of them doesn't catch that he's looking at a cardinal. But why should we want to say that the two have experiences with identical contents? We can spell out the sense in which the two see the same thing (they are both able to recognize some aspects of the affair, such as that they see a red bird), and the sense in which they see different things (one catches on that he's looking at a cardinal, one hasn't the foggiest what the bird is called) without separating recognitional capacities from experience itself. McDowell says that the experience of someone who can't recognize things which I can recognize might be "just like mine in how the bird is visually present to her." But if we abstract from what one's experience allows one to recognize, then I am inclined to say that a bird can be "visually present" to me in the same way that it's present to a cat or dog. Which means that this sort of "visual presence" doesn't capture what it is for a rational animal to see something, for something to be "visually present" in such a way that one's conceptual capacities are already active in experience.*

If we do separate recognitional capacities from experiential content, then McDowell would (now) have us say that two viewers who are able to recognize nothing in common nevertheless can have experiences with the same content. This strikes me as undesirable. If a subject notices only things which another subject overlooks (and vice-versa) when presented with a certain state of affairs, then I don't know why we should say that the experiences of the two share more than a common causal terminus -- both of them have experiences which are caused by the same objects, but the experiences themselves are quite distinct (indeed, in this thought-experiment they don't even overlap in their content; how things look to one shares nothing in common with how things look to the other). I take this sort of thought to be a corollary of the idea that for things to be given in experience, experience must draw on one's conceptual capacities. Divergence in conceptual capacities entails divergence in experiences. I don't see the attraction in saying that divergence in conceptual capacities might leave untouched a common content to experiences.

(It is probably worth noting that I'm not sure my thought-experiment is coherent -- I suspect that there may be some concepts, such as certain indexicals and notions of substance and causal relations, which anyone who can have conceptually-contentful experience must have, and so there very well may be things which anyone could recognize if they can recognize anything at all, and thus any experiences of "the same thing" will also have some overlap in content. I think my point remains clear enough even if the thought experiment is rendered a bit less dramatic, in this fashion.)

In the paper, McDowell also introduces a form-content distinction which he holds to be similar to Kant's various forms of intuitional unity (which for Kant were read off from the table of judgements). The example he uses is animal. Intuited content given in the intuitional form of "animal" can include concepts like "hopping" and "perching" which don't find a use when we stick to the "common sensibles of sight" which are "space occupancy: shape, size, position, movement or its absence." This strikes me as needlessly complex. For one thing, we can speak intelligibly of a precarious rock as "perched" on the edge of a precipice, or of a tumbleweed as "hopping along the prairie". When we do so we speak with a little more color to our language than when we say "the rock is on top of the cliff, near the edge" or "the tumbleweed is bouncing as it is blown along by the wind", but I don't see why we should say that the difference is substantial enough that the two ways of talking encapsulate distinct "forms of intuitional unity" which we can be given. It's just that in the normal use of terms like "hopping" and "perching" we are ascribing a sort of agency to what hops or perches. So in cases where we're not inclined to speak of agency (such a with rocks and tumbleweeds) we don't generally use such language. And in cases where we are inclined to speak of agency (such as with wolverines and rabbits) we can use such language without sliding into metaphors. But this sort of distinction doesn't require me to make any reference to various "forms of intuitional unity" for any reason that I can see. The rocks and tumbleweeds and wolverines are all given to me in experiences with various contents. Some of the contents are similar to one another, some are more distinctive. I don't know what work the form/content distinction is doing for McDowell, in its new "intuitional" form.

I suspect that McDowell's new distinctions may just be trying to make it clearer that McDowell's position respects the differences between actively thinking that things appear thus-and-so and it merely being given to one that things are thus-and-so (without one noticing the fact). The difference becomes clearer in cases where one needs to make some novel conceptual shifts to allow for things being thus-and-so to be seen clearly (such as coining an adjective to capture this quality of a thing, or employing a phrase such as "the same color as this shade"); in these cases we must make some modest expansions to our conceptual repertoire to make explicit what has been given to us in intuition. And in cases where one doesn't recognize a distinction which has been made visible to one (for instance, just seeing a particular shade of red as "a darkish red" rather than "this shade", and thus not paying attention to whether it's the same color as some other red things of slightly different dark shades), one could have made the conceptual shift, could have articulated what was given to one in intuition by a novel demonstrative phrase or newly-coined term, and so the mere givenness of the intuited content was already conceptual. For if one had recognized the distinction, one would have done so by an exercise of conceptual capacities, not be antecedently "noticing" the distinction (through some non-conceptual manner of apprehension) and then reflecting conceptually on what one noticed.

McDowell stresses (contra Kant) that the unity of an intuition is a given unity, and not something we've compiled (as in the unity of a judgement). The way I would want to speak of this is that we recognize unity in an intuition -- thus the unity was not something we put there, unlike in the unity of a judgement. I form my judgements; my intuitions are already formed when I get them. But this just makes me more confused as to why McDowell wants to exclude content which requires the exercise of recognitional capacities from the content of an experience. I'm inclined to say that recognition goes all the way down in experience; to notice something at all is to recognize it as being how it is.

Hegel makes this point by way of a maxim of Schelling's: nature is "petrified intelligence". What is, in nature, is the sort of thing which can thought of. The varieties of way things can exist in nature are varieties of ways things can be thought about. But nature is "petrified" intelligence; it is not actually being thought by anything, necessarily. (I recall Berkeley saying that God was constantly perceiving everything, which was how a tree stayed a tree when no human was looking at it. Hegel doesn't need to posit anything like this.) But when nature is thought about, it is (so to speak) enlivened by thought -- what was merely passively "there" for thinking becomes actively thought; the dead intelligence of nature becomes the living intelligence of thought.

Sayeth McDowell: "The intuition [of a red bird] brings something into view for the subject, and the subject recognizes that thing as an instance of a kind [that is, as a cardinal]. Or as an individual; it seems reasonable to find a corresponding structure in a case in which an experience enables one to know noninferentially who it is that one has in view." Why should we not say that the intuition brings an instance of the kind "cardinal" into view, with the subject recognizing it as such? This strikes me as even more natural in the second case McDowell considers: If I see Smith, then it strikes me as ridiculous to say that anything was given to me in intuition other than Smith (which I then recognized as being an instance of "Smith"). If I see Smith and noninferentially know that it is Smith whom I see, then why shouldn't I say that the experience of "seeing" here has a content to the effect that "That's Smith!"? I didn't see "someone" and recognize that this someone=Smith; I saw Smith. I didn't notice a Smith-shaped object, or a person, or an animal; none of these thoughts occurred to me when I ran into Smith. I saw Smith. Though one could say that all of these (Smith, a Smith-shaped object, a person, and an animal) were given to me in intuition, I only recognized a single aspect: Smith. I have no idea why McDowell wants to say that some of these aspects are part of the content of the intuition, and some are merely noninferentially known when appropriate intuitions are given. (Sometimes recognition only dawns slowly. And sometimes one recognizes something only inferentially -- "It has black-red-yellow stripes. That means the snake is poisonous, if I remember the rhyme correctly." I can see why one would want to distinguish knowledge gained inferentially from knowledge gained noninferentially. But in cases where recognition dawns slowly, but noninferentially, I see no reason not to just say that one is recognizing what was given to one (in intuition, in experience) as being what it is.)

*Actually, as I review this post, it occurs to me that one might say that non-rational animals and rational animals both have experiences with the same (conceptual) contents; it's just that the non-rational animals do not recognize anything which they are given. A bird can take flight because a cat is given to it in experience, but it cannot recognize the cat as a cat, as an instance of the kind "cat". It merely reacts to the (distal) stimulus. And so recognitional capacities aren't active in the content of one's experience, since the content could be that of an experience had by an animal with no recognitional capacities. This would also hold for all other conceptual/linguistic capacities; none of them are active in the content of our experience. But the content of experience is still "conceptual" because it is suitable for taking up by a rational animal, for making part of our discourse, for making explicit judgements which endorse the content of that experience as being how things are. This means it is misleading to say that experience has "propositional" content, since that is what judgements have -- an articulated content, a content which has already been made part of a discourse, the subject of an explicit judgement, some 'p' in "So-and-so thinks that p". The content of an experience might be something which no one ever notices, which is never made part of a discourse, which is never the subject of an explicit judgement, which no one ever thinks. And so we coin a new term: Intuitional content. The (intuitional) content of an experience becomes the (propositional) content of a belief if one takes one's experience to be trustworthy in a particular case and thus "endorses" the "claim" which an experience contains. (In contradistinction from conversation, where if I agree with what you just said then I endorse the claim which you just made, without scare-quotes. What you said had propositional content, not intuitional content, and so needed no joining to any linguistic token, nor any explication in active thinking. It had already been so joined, so explicated.) Now I can see why McDowell no longer wants to maintain the two theses he'd previously endorsed. They muddied the waters. McDowell's views have not changed at all; they've just been polished up a bit, some rough edges worn smooth. And McDowell is right, Davidson's response in the Open Court volume was a lot better than I'd taken it to be.

17 October 2007

The Troll of Sorrow Wildlife Sanctuary

Because it would be a shame to delete his comments forever, I will be preserving anything the Troll of Sorrow posts here. And throwing in anime pictures because I enjoy the juxtaposition.For completeness' sake, I'll be including any comments I don't delete, too. ToSsy isn't always so ugly that I'm unhappy leaving him in plain view.

Fuko is very excited about this idea, and has volunteered to play the role of gatekeeper.

J said...

You don't understand empiricism very well, like most philo-hacks. It's not whether our sense data corresponds to what is "really" out there: but what grounds do I have to doubt that it doesn't? Whose inferences are sounder? Descartes or Hobbes? H. (and Locke a nicer Hobbes). Put in those terms "external realism"--and really, normal science--wins over the metaphysicians. Hobbes addresses in Lev. (the motions stuff: however quaint or primitive, still sound). Locke mentions that in ECHU (though it's overlooked by the theological sorts who don't care for Locke's more "physicalist" aspects): it's the "being in the fire vs. the sensation of/perception of fire" or something). Or Hume's impressions/ideas, though Humean skepticism sort of questions whether impressions do stem from outside, external sources (he's sort of wrong there: as anyone who values physical science must admit).

The so-called problems of epistemology then are really problems of perception, vision, knowledge accumulation--and probably intention. That may be psychologistic. Tant pis. I wager Locke would agree with this somewhat modified Quinean---and nominalistic view---as did Wm. James (not with some odd Kripkean "realism" or the possible worlds hype---And modal logic sort of another word for lightweight probability chat).

That may not be pretty, or elegant as Descartes: but then neither is your nervous system.

J said...

HOWEVER a sort of Cognitive- Kantianism has its appeal: tho' most trad. Kantians (a rare breed) refuse to grant psychological readings of the synthetic a priori and categories. Locke and Kant are closer than most philo-wanks realize; indeed Kant offers some praise to Locke somewhere in 1st critique. It's a bit of a challenge to compare Locke's primary/secondary qualities with Kantian categories, but the difference is not that great: Kant sort of avoids the problems of "associationism" and considers the cognitive structure--the conditions of experience--innate. (The analytic-synthetic distinction also preserves objectivity one might say) Peel away the theo-bits (or cognitivize the Noumena in a sense), and Kant's quite sound empirical Realism (phenomena as sense data--why not? or rather call someone to explain the diff.). What's more, the system has a certain use--like say in regards to ethics. If say a John Holblo and his galpals at the Valve are liars and deceivers (or worse), they gotta deal with some repercussions, in terms of Kantian reality.........(and it's somewhat curious how much Kant bothers Quine as well)

J said...

The Thing-in-itself which would escape our concepts "is already something subjectively thought", and therefore Kant's restriction of knowledge to "appearances" as opposed to "things in themselves" was straightforwardly wrong.

I don't think Kant's account of phenomena may be so easily dismissed, nor "wrong" in the sense you mean. Zizek (I am still reading through the sludge of the Parallax Gap, and even enjoy 1 page out of 10) often seems to assume that Kant always advances some theological or transcendent view, but that's a rather naive reading. Kant's point obviously was as much about perception as about "metaphysics": your image of the espresso cup is not the cup itself--that's the gap (at least the Kantian gap). Phenomena or sense data, in the empirical tradition--may be not identical but damn near.

Much knowledge is inferential, based on observationm and probable as well: that seems related to what Kant, following Hume, was getting at with phenomena. The mental categories and concepts depend on phenomena, on sensibility, but at the same time we are constrained by our perceptive apparatus--were our eyes differently formed the world would be quite different. Yes, taken too far--a denial that empirical knowledge is possible, really--the Kantian schema may be problematic. Doing chemistry experiments you assume you have acquaintance with the ding-an-sich (at least in that one laboratory). But in some sense the subjectivity of space and time, the a priori categories may be more advanced than naive empiricism (or the bizarre material-idealism of Hegel--tho' he's hardly clear on that): relativity in a sense seems to confirm Kantian empiricism to some degree.

J said...

You misread the point again. I didn't say the sense data was noumenal: the categories and synthetic a priori, and speculations on freedom etc. are noumenal. Kant does however assert that knowledge depends on objective, perceivable phenomena, even if the ding-an-sich remains out of reach. And the phenomena is not the ding-an-sich, but filtered through human's own perceptive apparatus. That's the point, in brief.

Kant's point against introspection--what I think you mean by "subjective phenomena" is interesting, but in a sense empirical as well. He's saying that knowledge and concepts depend on the phenomena--the categories sort of filter that phenomena (via "intuitions"--a fancy name for cognition, really), not on subjective reflection or contemplation. But he grants the categories themselves are noumena (that does not necessarily mean "transcendent" or immaterial, except for the shallowpate sort of theological readings).

J said...

Debatable. Mathematics is synthetic a priori, according to K. And numbers, equations, functions are objects. Thus, I don't think Kant suggests that objects are all phenomenal, or from the senses. So non-perceivable entities, at least objects not deriving from purely sensible experience, such as numbers are objects, and can be used in cognition, obviously.

He doesn't really identify the SAP and categorical "manifold" as noumenal, perhaps, but that is somewhat unclear: I haven't read 1st critique in some time, but I have read people argue that the categories, and space and time, are meant to be construed as noumenal. That is the "inner fountain," so to speak. The stuff on the ego in the Deduction is different and a bit more dubious, methinx.

Obviously K. did not know much about cognition: space/time perceptions are really brain functions (as are all noumena really, if one holds to "normal science), but the point holds. The categorical manifold is noumenal, or it is "cognitive". Certainly not phenomena.

J said...

"""Space and time are not noumenal, for Kant.""""

I may have used noumenal a bit loosely. But then Kant sort of appropriates the term (some philosophers complained about that, I believe). Either way, if transcendental idealism of space and time implies "not located in physical reality (i.e. the brain)" Kant should be placed on shelf next to Aquinas....or Plato. Similarly for "noumenal objects."

That was my entire point: if you take the system as Kant himself presents it, it's very strange: "idealism" in the metaphysical sense. It is only by psychologizing the 1st Critique that it remains somewhat viable. Similarly for Fregean "abstract objects", whether numbers, functions, logical forms. We agree they are objectively Real in some sense (at least when not in a nominalistic mood), but not floating in some platonic abode. Logic may be rules of thought: but not rules from "God."

And to turn skeptic for a nano-second there are no convincing arguments for the a priori status of the categories or synthetic a priori: my point then maybe pragmatist to some extent. We agree to hold cognitive structures such as the categories and forms of space and time "a priori": but that is to preserve a certain objectivity. I think that's what Kant wants to do, to preserve objectivity, certainty, not only of science, but all knowledge. So a Hume in a bad mood simply says your entire system is predicated on "a prioricity" which itself cannot be established but merely posited.

J said...

Either way, I don't think he ever offers a convincing argument for "a prioricity" itself, but he repeats it ad nauseum: he does not offer something as simple as a refutation of Locke's "tabula rasa", as far as I can recall.

The categories may be involved in all thinking, but the categories themselves certainly can be viewed as human (rather than transcendent or theological), historically determined, developed, codified. Indeed Kant follows Aristotle mostly, right. Kant obviously overlooks that historical and one might say anthropological development of knowledge.

Noumenal traditionally meant something like abstract thought in general, not the specifically Kantian transcendental object thing. Somewhat platonic perhaps, but not necessarily immaterial. Maybe Hume's "ideas" captures it: relations of concepts, logico-mathematical givens, categories like quantity or magnitude, but without the somewhat odd transcendental stuff.

Additionally, I don't see how a nominalist respects Kant, except with great modifications (sort of like what I suggested). The synthetic a priori is not nominalist, at least as I understand it. Or, can one be a nominalist and subscribe to a priori truths, whether analytic or synthetic? Ich denke nicht.

J said...

The ideality of space and time in the 1st Crit. also questionable, as empiricists and scientists have noted for 2+ centuries. That's a rather difficult matter, of course, and I am not going to offer some lengthy treatise. Russell thought it was mostly BS, as did most of the positivists. While I sort of agree that there is a subjective element to how human's awareness of space and time (we can't easily prove that space-awareness is learned empirically, perhaps), that doesn't imply that space is not in some sense objective and part of the physical world.

Not sure of all the "proper" objections, but the regularity of phenomena itself sort of strange if one thinks that space is purely subjective. One could think of other objections: would a person blind from birth have an awareness of say linear perspective--can he learn to see like a city street in 3d? Not sure, but seems unlikely. Highly unlikely. He doesn't know what "blue" is-- or means-- either, except maybe by someone explaining wave-lengths. So there is something in the physical world that a person with normal vision perceives, and that something is not part of his own subjectivity.

This issue can of course become fairly wieldy, and this is merely scratching the surface. But there is another issue, which may seem a bit primitive but pertinent to the supposed ideality of space and time. Watch cats hunting birds. They know what space is. They know what time is, arguably. Or it sure seems they do, or their brains do, whether one wants to call that consciousness or not. They make the right decision based on their visual perception of the bird in space: nearly mathematical in a sense--pounce, and lunch-time. Are they in contact with the Transcendent Idea? Ich denke nicht.

J said...

Yes, I find that all rather stimulating, and richly suggestive. See also Putassimo's ""Unity and Difference in the Political Philosophy of Brigham Young and the Church of LDS. """

"In the political philosophy of Brigham Young, one notes a persistent concern with the Transcendent Idea as it manifests itself in the particularity of sensible experience. For the Mormonic ontologist, the Idea realizes itself in the form of numerous sacred "sperm receptacles" which are known in a rather a posteriori fashion......"

B 343-345

J said...

Are you a mormon or not? That's the real issue. Are your defending monotheism? Looks like it. If so, you obviously are on the side of the irrationalists: even Kant (you might have known had you read him a bit more closely) denied any rational arguments for "God."

Now, look up "Russell, Bertrand" and in your Liar's Handbook, and take on his refutations of Kant's arguments for the subjectivity of space..... and time. For that matter, CS Peirce's contra-Kantian idealism arguments will do as well.

J said...

Ooo "Troll" . Such astounding literary creativity! There's no "troll"; however there are a few little literary and philosophaster mafiosos (i.e. the Valve--if you can stomach it) who chant "troll" when someone challenges their chi-chi conservative aesthetics and all-around hypocrisy and irrationalism. "Troll" is neo-conSpeak (actually not even neo-con ala Hitchens, but more like PodhoretzSpeak), and equates to something like "one who dissents in a rational manner."

Let's start with Quine and his pal Goodman's Constructive Nominalism (google 'er). Or even Carnapian verification. Then you got sheiet to say, about like, anything.

Con.Nom. means pinkslip-day for literary frauds, bad german metaphysics, theology, and even most in the Law bureaucracy.

(there's a gap here because ToSsy commented three times in rapid succession, each time deleting his comment and then posting a slightly-expanded version. I add the images before I copy/paste the text, and the text had disappeared by the time I had added Shiori.)

J said:
('scuzi editing. I am nearly taken this seriously, RosheeDan. )Au contraire. Kant is the naif. Russell's criticisms of Kant's a priori Euclidian space are informed by a knowledge of modern mathematics (including non-Euclidian geometry), relativity, and empirical psychology. At the same time he doesn't completely reject Kant's assertion that there is some spatial "form" which conditions perception: I think he does recognize that "given" of perception as a property of human thinking, not derived from some transcendent ideal realm. Or at least I hope he does. So, as y'all say, it's somewhat "ontological" issue: if you are saying the space-awareness must be extra-human, a priori, and transcendent and/or immaterial, I object (and I think Russell would too). On the other hand, if you (or Kant) assert the space-awareness (even a Euclidian one) relates to how humans perceive external objects (yeah another issue), without a transcendent ontology, I agree, mostly, though at the same time object to the insistence that the space-awareness is "subjective" and has no necessary relation to the perceived phenomena (another point raised by Russell: spatial relations, like colors, are understood visually. So no eyes, no awareness of space. That seems to require a certain empiricism that Kant questions).

Grayling has some interesting ideas on this:"""""Russell accepted the Kantian view that there must be such a thing as a 'form of externality' as a condition of possibility for spatial experience. In an interesting modification of Kant's thesis he argued that the possibility of such experience rests not just on the constitution of sensibility but on the world's receptiveness to the adjectives we impose on it. But he locates the properties of the form of externality not in Euclidean but in projective geometry, its transcendental status–carefully disentangled from the question of the subjectivity of a priori elements in experience–consisting in its applying to all spaces independently of experience of any of them.""""

Deep Doc, but I doubt Russell, who never forgets his Locke, would have necessarily agreed to a priori views of any sort, except as posits. Or if space-awareness (even some projective geometry) does come hard-wired prior to experience, that is still a property of human thinking, of bio-chem. neurology. If you had eyes all around your head, reality would be quite altered.

(I don't think Kant requires a leap of faith. He himself says the status of noumena is more speculative and doubtful than is phenomena, right? Analytic of principles, baby. OR somewhere like that: I don't claim to be Kantian and just peruse Kemp-Smith's Vernunft when have a day or two away from racetrack.

Anyway, what about the "refutation of idealism" that the Big K. attached later? Again he insists that phenomena is objective, though conditioned by our own perceptive mechanisms, doesn't he? Kant remains with the scientists (ie externalism, for lack of better term) methinks, however verbose and provincial (and somewhat theological).........

Don't be hatin,' SOHeeeDan.

J said...

""""In the "Refutation of Idealism" he rejects the idea that our knowledge of external objects is somehow reliant on our knowledge of "inner" states (such as sense data, or impressions, or mental representations). We can have the later because we have the former, and not vice-versa."""""

That itself seems rather empirical and counter to "a prioricity" (and metaphysics, really) unless one assumes that "a prioricity" means something like innate cognitive structure or something. As I asked before SOHeeDan, how does one distinguish between phenomena and sense data, since Kant himself grants phenomena is not ye olde ding-an-sich, and is subject to subjective, and I would say, neural processing? Obviously direct acquaintance, in BertySpeak, with the objects of knowledge is not always possible (and the aquaintance/description epistemology still somewhat Kantian, though perhaps a bit more linguistically aware). Seems a matter of degrees, rather than contraries.

In other words, Kant offers a type of scientific empiricism, which is not nearly as skeptical of appearance (and causality, knowledge, etc.) as say Hume is (though Humean skepticism interesting in regards to cause/classical physics, at least in terms of fallibility (and one might say probability/contingency, etc), and Kant quite mistaken in his insistence that classical physics are somehow part of that a priori structure (unless he means something like cognitive innateness). I doubt Kant understood probability very well.

So the Critique does sort of suggest a scientific empiricism, but Kant first provides a little story for the perceiver (categories, synthetic a priori, subjective space and time, etc.): a story which is at least questionable, since it's based on a prioricity, and also rather lacking in the specifics of how knowledge came about historically---Euclidian geometry doesn't just appear; it grew, was systematized, formulated in response to, Osiris forbid, practical, economic concerns related to agricultural, architecture, military, etc.)

J said...

The Luv-lee Geisha goil with purply hair, glasses, and leather corset: yeah. Ka-neee-chi-wah. Tho' TOSsy's a bit more fond of......Szechuan..........

Ah used to enjoy Samurai Jack a bit, at least for 10 minutes. I'm not much of a manga-head. You ever dig Wagner's Ring cycle?

J said...

There's no "privileged access" to phenomena for one, whereas there is privileged access to sense data. To have a red sense datum in view is to know that one has a red sense datum in view, as I recall sense-data theories running, and to think that one has a red sense datum in view is to have a red sense datum in view.

Interesting distinction. I think a key difference between P. and SD, however, rests on how Kant sort of presumes some objectivity in regards to the perception of phenomena (sensibility): he wants to say, this is how reason works for all humans (though he wouldn't lower himself to mere humanity).

The sense data afficionado, on the hand, knows about the problem of other minds for one (and in a sense verification), and so his argument relates more to how individuals justify their own beliefs (and knowledge based on beliefs) via observation (or aquaintance in Russell's terms), and then construct a sort of neural data-base, though that justification might be via language, reports, pictures, other forms of data (obviously obtaining knowledge from reading itself a rather different and cognitive topic, and I think rather anti-phenomenal).

Given a certain regularity of appearance (at least on macro, human scale), a more extreme sort of Humean doubt of the reality of immediate perceptions ("perceptions" seem nearly synonymous to sense data) thus does not seem warranted, nor does some extreme skepticism in regards to external causes of perceptions (like we never saw Napoleon; therefore he never existed): Kantian idealism often seems closer to Humean doubt than to say a Russellian or scientific empiricism. The perceptivist doesn't doubt his observations (or inferences based on observations) relate to an objective, external reality, but he does realize that they are conditioned and processed by his own visual and neurological apparatus, and perhaps even by cultural, linguistic or political factors.

J said...

But I might be mistaken. Perhaps we, at least some of us--like those who know of the Sacred Logical Forms (Holy Modus Ponens!--)-transcend the world of mere mortals and gross material reality. Kant's account simply seems so strange, labyrinthine, and counter-intuitive. If it's metaphysics we are to have, I'll take Descartes over Herr Kant. And I find Descartes a more capable philosopher: his arguments are quite more powerful and "tight" (though I don't agree with his theological aspects, mostly, such as the ontological argument). I wager Descartes was a more qualified to write on mathematics and science than Kant as well. But our own perceptions and thinking are really more fundamental than what we perceive: I don't think that again necessitates some extreme doubt, but obviously humans do tend to think they exist, and are free to some extent. That's a bit brief for Descartes. Tant pis.

I nearly agree to a dualism, as long as that dualism remains somewhat, yeah, cognitive and neurological, for lack of a better term, and the Res Cogitans interpreted as sort of "mind stuff" and not... a ghost in the machine. Human knowledge is anomalous: that doesn't necessarily mean transcendent or immaterial.

(On the other hand one can understand why more economically and historically oriented folks (our marxist pals) would object to Descartes: even Hobbes' criticisms quite powerful, and overlooked (and Hobbes a better and more methodical philosopher than most Germans as well, including Kantski: he also anticipates Darwinism to an extent).

J said...

Not much of a "literatur-aesthete"-type in general. (Like, I haven't read "Moby Dick" yet.

Bravo SteelyDan! I'm anti-aesthete and definitely anti-literature/MLA, mostly (make exceptions for, say, SteelyDan, or decent cyberpunk, Debussy, etc.), and have read Capn Melville's MD, and it's mostly hot air, with some Job-like bombast from Ahab, a bit of naturalism via Queegueg & Ishmael, shakespearean rhetoric.

It's better than say the garbage of Harry Cotter (which I actually would ban were I Minister of Info, along with plenty of other pulp), but like ALL literary narratives, MD's not some accurate statement of historical, scientific, or psychological reality.

If you actually had more acquaintance with the career of the blog-scribbler aka "TOS"--at least last 2-3 years--you might have noted that "TOS" has repeatedly called into question literary claims and the Lit. biz itself. We here at TOS, Inc. assert that the MLA is 95% Bogus; that lit. aesthetes are more or less glorified pagan-priests, that Lit. generally confirms nearly mystical sorts of thinking. Not always.

We grant that while Lit. might develop syntax skills, there are other types of non-fictional, non-literary sources that will do the same, whether scientific, history readings, or research in various fields. However the foreign language skills that some lit. people stress are not wrong: but again that could be done sans Lit. departments, er bureaucracies.

Really, I consider literature to be sort of an idol of the tribe, similar to entertainment. Shakespeare and George Lucas are both equally wrong. It has no truth-function really, so is more akin to a type of syntax-music; and, well, if only a type of music, a Debussy--or even Bach-- quite superior, and preferable to the music of even supposed "greats" like Joyce.

I make exceptions for satire a bit: I think Swift or Voltaire produced a bit different kettle of fish than does the potboiler industry, Danielle Squeal, Steven Queen, Inc. etc. But even satire lacks veracity: though it does at least point at real political situations. Similarly for historical fiction: why bother with War and Peace when I can read the historical narrative? What is a short-story of WWI, compared to the actual facts or Verdun? I think Lit. functions as some massive deception, as does Entertainment, and most fine arts. Music too for the most part, though Plato himself allowed some music in the Republic, while kicking the f-n poets and potboiler meisters to the border. That may be quaint, or even somewhat puritanical, but dem's the breaks.

Some analytical philosophers were not too keen on aesthetics, Russell included--BR wrote some interesting things which I think are contra-literature. I'm not some strict positivist, but there was something to the idea that statements (or collections of statements, or narratives, etc.) incapable of being confirmed (or Osiris Forbid, verified) should be held as meaningless.

So S-Dan, put your positivist hat on, and shut the rhetorical windbags and teasippers of the MLA the F. down.


J said...

In general, for Hegel Catholicism is a realm of heteronomy, of slavishness and submission; Protestantism is a religion of freedom, of "the law which gives liberty" and of freedom from "the law which brings death". Thus in Catholic France, the populous was not equipped to govern their own state, for they did not even govern their own lives, but still remained in spiritual bondage.....

Like Luther, or for that matter BillyBob baptists everywhere, Hegel then affirms that "dispensationalist" view that more or less implies a type of machiavellian religion (doesn't Hegel praise Nick M. too at one point?): to the faithful, anything is permissable---wars, whores, blogging with mafiosos, lying in general. Hegel then sort of the philosopher's version of "be strong in your sins". Even Kant's ethics a bit more, well, ethical.

While I do not find the catholic tradition that superior in practice, at least in principle the paddies realize that dispensationalism sort of equates to a type of spiritual anarchy. According to authentic catholic code, one is not forgiven simply by showing up for church or laying some 20s on the tithing plate: catholic ethics slightly closer to a somewhat platonic objectivity. Luther on the other hand whined about indulgences and catholic sins, and then turned around and more or less dismissed "good works" as a whole, and advocated execution of heretics, jews, non-xtians, etc. He was another prussian militarist, really: and that's what Hegel affirms.

J said...

Ah SOH-Dan sowwy to see you associate with the mafia scum of blogland. Po' little SOH-Dan-stein.

J said...

That's the Spirit, Hypocrite-Dan. When someone points out the absurdities of protestant tradition, delete!

Manga, eh. Whaddya bet a lot more interesting stuff on your ISP, as well. You're potential Valve material, Teufel-Dan.

J said...

Ah CPU-Dan I suspect I know as much about gear --hard and software--as you do. Your ISP does have a record of all your Net traffic---files downloaded from sites, IP addies, or sent from your palsies, S-Dan. That is, unless you are a clever S-Dan and use proxies--and given your manga-fetish I suspect you know where your LAN settings be. But uh course a good Xtian like you has nothin' to be ashamed of, raht?

I do find your TheoSpeak sort of dull. If monotheism were like True, the Big Guy is about equivalent to a cosmic Pol Pot. Initially we thought you were an analytical sort, but you seem more with the GasBagosophy. Alas.

J said...

You don't know jack about computing or networking or logic, S-Dan. But you have learned to parrot some cheap TheoSpeak, like dozens of other phonies. Aw yeah Hallelooojah brutthr.........

I doubt you could do a reductio for like Modus Tollens.

You probably don't want to get caught, Xtian-Dan with your grubbies in a......cookie jar. Bad when you go to sit for Texass Pro-Liar's Exam.

J said...

You don't quite understand the point on ISP records. They record all your Net traffic, IP addresses, URL's visited, chats, blogging: everythin'. Unless you use a proxy, and route through a few foreign sites. So, like, your footprints are known. Capiche? But given the manga-fetish, you would probably know proxies: maybe....Xtian proxies!

J said...

Does Jeeeb-zuss approve of yr Manga-maids, S-Dan? Ich denke Nyet.
JC was an iconoclast, prolly.

Now here's some manga--------


J said...

Most mafiosos think that people not in the mafia have mental problems.

For that matter, when someone says they actually respect Descartes and the Res Cogitans, the typical philosophical secularist has a fit: why? He realizes he might actually be held accountable for his sins, intellectual and otherwise.

Now, baby reductio for the Modus Tollens! Yeah. Come on S-Dan, we know you can.

(Publish my stuff S-Dan, or else blog-war).

J said...

Good S-dan.

Ok try the link. Gir puts 98% of manga-hacks to shame. Or American pulp-meisters. Viva Gir/Crepax! sort of.

"Q can be both true and false"

Kids these days. Nicht. Get rid of contradiction you might as well like move to Paree, pierce your, uh, tongue, and join the PoMos. A right triangle does have a 90 degree angle: that's NOT both T & F.

I do agree some predicates could be vague--that's sort of the "gradations" idea (she loves you , and loves you not: she loves some aspects (your bank account), but not others (that one leg has been amputated, etc.)) But that's against the law of excluded middle, not contradiction.


1. P -> Q
2. ~Q
3. ~P
negate conclusion: P

~P v Q (material implication from 1)

~P contradicts P (neg. con.) X


~Q from 2 contradicts Q from conditional above.


J has left a new comment on your post "The Troll of Sorrow Wildlife Sanctuary":

Perhaps you've heard of Type theory? Count Zermelo? Nominalism? There exists a rather rich tradition of dealing with Bertie's Paradox. My own sense is that one, domains must be well-defined (and in a sense "empirical") prior to any statements about the sets, or objects within the sets: there isn't a set of such barbers who shave themselves if and only if they don't shave themselves (and IRL, that is the case. It ain't really an issue). The Steinford boys say something like that: no propositional function can be defined prior to defining the function's range. Finiteness also an issue: and eliminating the Cantorian infinity eliminates a lot of problems (possibly B's Paradox, but I don't have time to prove it: which is to say, if a set is well-defined, and in some sense, empirically verifiable (not merely a hypothetical, like the Liar's) self-referentiality should not be a problem (though it might, with some archiving/cataloging, but still negligible).

Once Turing (and Church) formalized Russell's paradox into the Halting Problem it becomes a problem of computing: but it doesn't really "disprove" contradiction: the Halting problem shows that certain arguments are undecidable--not computable--not that the entire proof procedure of first order logic is f-ed up. I take a bit of a pragmatist position on the paradoxes (ah admit I am not a pro. set theorist): if the problem doesn't really realize itself in some tangible form (say glitches in computing or calculation) then the problem should be considered negligible.

J said...


(not so pleasurable, since it's misspelled. That's Concerning, S-Dan).

Steven Stinker! Phuck the Vichy phucks of Haw-vard, and IvyLeagueInc (or wannabe Ivy League schools such as Schweinford or the UCs). Even a Zizek has more heart. His reading of Kant (i.e. the 3rd Antinomy) is not the worst. Zizekism of course implies S-Dan converted into ....gulag-loaf! Alas.

J said...

"Let's stop feeling obliged to do constructive philosophy"

Yes, return to the hallowed a priori! Even most marxist hacks agree with the metaphysicians on that point. Which is to say, constructivism (whether of say Hobbes & Locke, or the early Quine of "Constructive Nominalism") phucks up the logicist's program, if not metaphysics as a whole.

Most academic metaphysicians consider Hobbes some primitive, while Descartes and the germans are considered the wizards and visionaries. Really it is quite the opposite: Descartes affirms the tradition of theology, platonism, with some modifications. Hobbes' physicalism on the other hand represents an advance on the platonic ghosts. Leviathan (not without problems) sets the stage for Locke, Adam Smith, if not Malthus, Marx, and Darwin--he moves the discussion from the metaphysical to the economic and political. However quotidian he seems to some academics, IT folks, or PoMos, John Searle was one of a few modern "philosophers" who realized the force of Hobbes' arguments.

J said...

one could argue like this (not that I agree, necessarily):

--The law of contradiction is either a priori or it is not.

if a priori, necessary.

if not a priori, a posteriori and contingent (or constructive, perhaps).

There do not appear to be any compelling arguments for "a priori-city" of axiomatic knowledge (except by stipulation or perhaps the trivial "biological innateness" of a Chomsky).

So the "law of contradiction" is itself a posteriori, and fallible.

J has left a new comment on your post "Pragmatically Moe-diated Semantic Relations":

And there are even sort of ethical--if not theological--- implications, S-Dan, to ye olde "a priori" status of logic/mathematical truths! Like that "thou shalt not bear false witness" chestnut of the OT (also found in NT). Do you an obligation to ALWAYS tell the truth (i.e. to be logical), S-Dan? Not only Screepture but Aquinas (and Kant mebbe) said that you did.

Po' S-Dan, confronted with such moral quandaries.

J said...

(scientific theories, questions of law, politics, matters of taste, etc.) aren't in view: those doctrines aren't the sort of thing philosophy considers.

That should be amended to something like "the type of philosophers S-dan prefers don't consider those sorts of things.
An important question concerns the status of philosophical knowledge itself: given analytical and synthetic truths, philosophy (or parts of it, such as logic) would presumably fit in that schema. The philosopher then may perform a type of taxonomy (which seems a bit anthropological--and synthetic---rather than metaphysical), but he doesn't necessarily stand above all the separate disciplines. That's an optimistic view.

A pessimistic view would hold that metaphysics was mostly undermined by Darwinism, positivism, the rise of modern science as a whole, and really concerns no special knowledge, excepting perhaps a type of clarification of language, some logic/truth issues, perhaps mathematical foundations (tho' that requires certain skills that most academic philosophasters lack). That sort of philosophy avoids the grand ontological pronouncements or systems. Kuhn produced philosophy in that vein as did Quine, regardless if out of fashion.

Politics/ethics/economic issues are a bit different than logic/semantics, but "philosophers" do address such issues. Rawls for instance does concern himself with fairly technical economics, equilibrium, various indicators, etc. There's not some innate "discreteness" to disciplines that many academics seem to affirm.

J said...

"Therapeutic philosophy

Das Stimmt! Therapy with a fire iron.

Repent of Mad Ludwig, S-Dan. Even Jay-C probably asks that of you. Or read Witt's Poker, and realize that even those pompous old farts like Popper and Bertrand Russell, er, outshine LW. What did Russell say of Witt's ordinary language hustle? We needn't concern ourselves with the "Silly things that silly people say," or something to that effect. ;)

And what did Quine say about the grand tradition? Philosophy of science is philosophy enough. OK, I don't completely agree with dat, and WVOQ does tend to a certain reductionism here and there, but the point should be noted.

J said...

It's been some time since perusing W's Poker, but I recall that quite a few witnesses (including Toulmin, right) claimed that Wittgenstein was, like, nearly psychotic, and that Russell was right to correct him, and that Popper, while maybe exaggerating some details, was mostly in the right. Whatever. Not my role models.

That doesn't negate W's work in "Austrian anthropology and linguistics", but something to keep in mind. Really, the "sprachspiele" and "meaning as use" ideas seem nearly akin to.......PoMo. And that's nicht gut.

What sort of Philosophy do programmers produce? That's a good starting point. Functions, variables, operators, statements, domains: that's all we got. You turn on your box or download yr favorite snuff manga: bada bing--you confirm computational logic. Your CPU: that's a logician.

No your brain ain't a CPU as the CS people used to say, but that's not a question for philosophasters anyways, unless maybe they want to take on neurology.

(Those who deny that one can even make existence statements about perceivable objects (or stipulated objects) you might as well like climb into the himalayas and contemplate their....navels...or maybe bark sections of the PI like a ...............rabid poodle!).

J said...

"if we think of Kant and German Idealists as doing systematic philosophy, by which i mean attempting to make sense by way of reflective generality how everything hangs together (in Sellars' sense), rather than constructive philosophy, which builds theories as solutions to problems, then it seems McD can hang with systematicity, but need not engage in constructivism."

Rather clever reasoning there. One notes this type of "bureaucratizing" of philosophy in many places, both leftist/PoMo and rightist/theocratic. In effect, the philosopher-bureaucrat suggests that some notable classic--often Kant's First Critique or Plato (or Marx for the PoMos--or Screepture, for that matter), should be assumed to be sort of authoritative, prima facie. Thus the issues raised in the classic are considered settled: the "synthetic a priori" may be assumed to hold, and the grand architecture remains in place. No matter that Kant actually suggested (WRONGLY) that the that the laws of classical physics may be known "a priori", and all the other potential problems (i.e "noumenal" objects, etc.) that's heritage, man.

One doesn't need a Ivy League metaphysics degree to perceive all the problems with the Heritage fetish. Even Karl Marx in the German Ideology noted the problems (tho' he then created others, via Hegel--quoting Marx does not mean supporting communism). Marx realized what a laugh the a priori subject was: humans are a product of their social and economic and biological environment--the "object(s)" condition the subject (Actually KM more or less affirms Hobbes). Those who hold otherwise should join Catholics Inc., and produce a legitimate miracle.

J said...

"Hence we must be able to sense some attributes of objects that are really there, if we are to be able to perceive objects at all. And if all our perception is spatiotemporal, then some objects must really be spatiotemporal. Hence the ideality of space and time is false -- space and time are not imposed by us on what is given to us, but is the form in which that which is given to us exists in itself. Much of the rest of Kant's system stays intact with the collapse on the ideality of space and time, however, or is at least salvageable; the relations between concept & intuition, the requirement that there be items in time and space which we are aware of for us to be self-conscious, the notion of a concept as simply being the role played in judgements etc. can be maintained, as can the "restriction thesis" in the narrow sense that our ordinary notions of substance, causation, duration etc. can only be applied to items within space and time and fall into abuse when we try to extend their use further than this. Transcendental idealism, the idea that the mind imposes on reality what is needed for us to have knowledge of it, can't do the work demanded of it."

Or, instead, one reads Kant as cognitivist, and space and time, while perhaps not "ideal" in metaphysical sense, are givens of human perception, and, one might say, brain functions. Voila! How easy was that, S-Dan. Your preacher pals won't like it, but that's how to salvage Kant. A priori then become more akin to
biological innateness or something.

Besides, Kant rarely offers ontological proclamations (ok, perhaps some expert Kantian might disagree), as far as I recall (say the Deduction). He didn't really know much about the brain and nervous system, and transcendental idealism should not automatically be assumed to connote some immaterial realm. Indeed his suggestion that noumenal objects were more speculative than phenomena also indicates a certain skepticism, methinx, and provides a bit more support for empirical readings of 1st critique.

J said...

Actually your Kant posts are quite entertaining; or perhaps your motivations for writing on Kant are interesting. Kant bothers a lot of college boys, it seems. I suggest that is not due solely to their being perplexed by the synthetic a priori, or the transcendental unity of apperception, etc. They are perplexed because Kant reminds them of theology and indeed the morality of sunday school: like George Washington (at least in myth), Kant, however quaint, actually believed in objective morality (as the categorical imperative suggests). He would not lie, even if to save 1000s, apparently. Few humans, even Xtians, take that sort of rigid moral code seriously.

J said...

Wow Weltanschauung Poker! A CPU disproves transcendental idealism, if not metaphysics as a whole. Hume, who rarely if ever made sweeping ontological pronouncements (even "Skepticism") pisses on your collective faces--as do real thinkers such as Russell or Carnap, who actually made some arguments, instead of pronouncements or classifications.

J said...

The average, competent RN outranks a philosophaster grad. student--or "PhD". Even Russell had his doubts about the metaphysics bidness: better an hour with Newton than a year with Plato, or something to that effect.

But keeep da byatch runnin': bureaucrats need your shekels, as does the athletic department/mafia.

Hollyjolly xmassss

J said...

"On the Ontology of University Athletic Departments: A Critical Examination".

Schmutzendorff, D.R.

Hey Rube you thought College days had something to do with say GWF Hegel, haploids, or Werner Heisenberg??? Nichtski. All about Heisman, as in trophy bay-be.

J said...

Re: dualism/monism; materialism/immaterialism.

Grant there is human thinking of some sort (without speculations on ego, or self, etc.: a person doing Euclidian geometry), and there is bio-chemical matter (ie humans DO have a brain). Either 1. Matter thinks (including bio-chemical matter in the form of a human brain and associated neurology), OR 2. Bio-chemical matter does NOT think (and Thought (and mind) either transcends, or interacts with the brain-matter in some still unknown fashion). Hobbes--and then Locke, still later the french materialists, and Marx himself, and Wm James school, most empirical/cognitive psychologists---assert that 1. must be correct: an incorporeal thinking subject (aka "ghost in the machine") seems rather more implausible compared to a bio-physical object (like a brain) which thinks, or at least functions as part of the human organism. That doesn't necessarily imply some naive, Darwinian physicalism---only humans do Euclidian geometry. Yet that geometry developed out of human's relations with and perceptions of an external, material reality (which Marx grants as well). "Thinking" doesn't produce geometry; a thinking organism--humans--- produced geometry.

Another strategy--perhaps vaguely Popperian--- would be to say, since one refuses to grant that brain-matter can think (or even has a relation to thinking), what would suffice as a refutation of a Res Cogitans? Perhaps a sort of hypothesis testing. Say by refusing to eat, and then voila! the "Res Cogitans" starts to starve, and to feel pain. Can he doubt his pain brought about by starvation, especially if it's severe? In other words, humans not only appear to think---they appear to eat a tasty tofu fajita after reading, say, Hobbes' bon mots contra the Cartesian ghost. Were Rene D. (or a latter day Rene) really serious about proving metaphysical dualism, he would have started his methodical doubt with say sewing his mouth shut, or cutting off a hand, in a public arena).

A dogma holds among rationalists--and some theists--- that Descartes' doubt should be assumed to be some proof of skepticism, if not dualism, when it really isn't. That one can doubt the reality of appearances hardly means that one has proven that the reality of the "external world" (say fossils, mountains, the ocean) is itself questionable. Rationalists of all sorts often seem to make this strange inference. I do not think Kant was denying external realism (or empirical realism, if you prefer), anyway: he's pointing out the conditions ( cognitive conditions) for perception, and experience, which hardly implies immaterialism, or dualism, or even skepticism: more of the rose-tinted glasses idea. Yet his jargon ("transcendental" etc.) has prevented secular, and empirical readings. And alas that means the speculations on noumena are just that. Real knowledge--and science--- depends on the perception of phenomena.

J has left a new comment on your post "Brandom Lectures Update":

Tarki metalanguage/object language clarifies things to an extent, but folds back on itself. The "object language" at some point refers to something, represents some state of affairs, event--fact. One might even call it a sensation, or perception. The metalanguage--where one can make "truth" statements--- then refers to the sensation itself? Truth then attaches to the metalanguage, according to Tarski. Yet doesn't quantification itself sort of already determine the truth functionality of statements? Sort of Russellian, but existential and universal generalization (or negated EG and UG) already indicate the truth functionality. Truth (or a negated truth) then relates to an existence claim, and then obviously to verification of some sort or another. It seems a bit superfluous to say "Unicorns do not exist" is T IFF unicorns do not in fact exist. The language already sort of points out the problem in most conceivable instances.

The other problem overlooked by Tarskians relates to constructivism. Formal logic works fine assuming that the basic connectives, and axioms--and say the law of contradiction--- are themselves justifiable somehow. Yet (as even Aristotle realized) proving the LOC itself would involve some type of inductive proof, and thus the LOC would seem to be contingent, at least in traditional terms.

J has left a new comment on your post "Brandom Lectures Update":

Tarki metalanguage/object language clarifies things to an extent, but folds back on itself. The "object language" at some point refers to something, represents some state of affairs, event--fact. One might even call it a sensation, or perception. The metalanguage--where one can make "truth" statements--- then refers to the sensation itself? Truth then attaches to the metalanguage, according to Tarski. Yet doesn't quantification itself sort of already determine the truth functionality of statements? Sort of Russellian, but existential and universal generalization (or negated EG and UG) already indicate the truth functionality. Truth (or a negated truth) then relates to an existence claim, and then obviously to verification of some sort or another. It seems a bit superfluous to say "Unicorns do not exist" is T IFF unicorns do not in fact exist. The language already sort of points out the problem in most conceivable instances.

The other problem overlooked by Tarskians relates to constructivism. Formal logic works fine assuming that the basic connectives, and axioms--and say the law of contradiction--- are themselves justifiable somehow. Yet (as even Aristotle realized) proving the LOC itself would involve some type of inductive proof, and thus the LOC would seem to be contingent, at least in traditional terms.

J has left a new comment on your post "Brandom Lectures Update":

Tarski metalanguage/object language clarifies things to an extent, but folds back on itself. The "object language" at some point refers to something, represents some state of affairs, event--fact. One might even call it a sensation, or perception. The metalanguage--where one can make "truth" statements (in whatever language or syntax)--- then refers to the sensation itself? Truth then attaches to the metalanguage, according to Tarski. Yet doesn't quantification itself sort of already determine the truth functionality of statements? Sort of Russellian, but existential and universal generalization (or negated EG and UG) already indicate the truth functionality. Truth (or a negated truth) then relates to an existence claim, and then obviously to verification of some sort or another. It seems a bit superfluous to say "Unicorns do not exist" is T IFF unicorns do not in fact exist. The language already sort of points out the problem in most conceivable instances.

The other problem overlooked by Tarskians relates to constructivism. Formal logic works fine assuming that the basic connectives, and axioms--and say the law of contradiction--- are themselves justifiable somehow. Yet (as even Aristotle realized) proving the LOC itself would involve some type of inductive proof, and thus the LOC would seem to be contingent, at least in traditional terms.

J has left a new comment on your post "Brandom Lectures Update":

Ah S-dan shoddy editing. When shoving a boot up some philosophaster's ass, do it with style--- and clean copy.

So you didn't care for my read of Tarski? I devoted like nearly 15 f-n minutes to a Wiki and the above comment. Here's the sort of jazz I don't get:

"It is holistic, that is, noncompositional, in that the semantic value of a compound is not computable from the semantic values of its components."

It seems to me that Tarksi's "object language" relates to observation, or even in vull-gar terms, some type of empirical confirmation, proof, verification, what have you. That's the problem. At some point logic, or perhaps meta-logic (and any type of study of knowledge, or epistemology) really becomes a type of cognitive issue. One can posit a sort of holistic, mental realm, but really, when one refers to observation, there is a host of cognitive and neurological factors involved (and Quine sort of suggests that in his more naturalist moods). I don't see how expanding the discussion into object and metalanguage helps much: language is meta; words are meta; propositions are meta. If Tarski simply means the "object language" equals perception and observation itself (without any truth functions), I can sort of parse it out. But that again seems nearly neurological. But as soon as an assertion is made (in any language), logic sort of enters the picture (i.e. some type of existential generalization about an extra-linguistic state of affairs which a statement denotes). Otherwise one seems thrown into the "everything is signs or text" BS of PoMo (and Pierce to some degree).

J has left a new comment on your post "Brandom Lectures Update":

You're mistaken, and perhaps doing some of the usual Duck-valve insinuation, or little cheesy mafia game, satanist? I got yr number, flunkie--and those of your pals. Verstehen zee?

Btw, you and yr little crypto-catholic-zionist jerk offs are misreading both Tarski and Quine. The object language does apply to observation, dimwit. (The paradox doesn't even matter unless one holds to cantorian ideas of infinity anyways).

J has left a new comment on your post "Brandom Lectures Update":

In other words, Tarski produced a theory of reference, and of truth. That it supposedly dealt with the Liar paradox (not Russell's paradox, which concerns sets) is somewhat beside the point--for one, the Liar/Epimenides works only when making various odd stipulations (that all Cretans indeed lie (sort of impossible, iddn't it)). While Tarski's semantics supposedly deals with the Epimenides, few show how it resolves it (assuming it is a real paradox, and not merely, er, wanking), except by saying "Truth" is not a part of the object L, but of the meta-L.

The meta/object language distinction however brings up other issues related to reference and extension, and denotation really. Too bad you don't see that.

J has left a new comment on your post "Brandom Lectures Update":

And really here's the rub: truth ain't a predicate, or at least not a normal one. Truth for a biologist or economist or physicist does not equal the logician's or mathematician's axiomatic Truth. (what did analytical people call that? the synthetic/analytical divide). Tarskian artifical language building and supposed "semantic accounts of truth" thus seem rather superfluous and pedantic: Einstein does not need a semantic account of Truth, nor do the gents working on the Human Genome project, or Keynes discussing unemployment; the language is presumed to refer to extra-linguistic states of affairs (and has since at least Gallileo). Logician's quibbles appear nearly like some bookkeeper's arguments next to most developments in science over the last 100 years. In some programming contexts Tarskian semantics might apply, but then so might the traditional Fregean quantification code (which has the truth function (or negated truth) already built in with E and U, predicates, connectives, variables, equations, sets, etc.)

J has left a new comment on your post "Quietism, Theories, and Nonsense again":

Alas, like most dogmatists you never quite understood the problems of Descartes' supposed classic, the Cogito, puto. Having the ability to doubt one's beliefs about the external world does not therefore mean those doubts are warranted; nor does the primacy of consciousness (yes, let's grant "there is, or appears to be, thinking") somehow imply that consciousness is separate from bio-chemical reality (or Osiris forbid, immaterial). Anyone who really took Descartes' systematic doubt seriously should start their deeep metaphysical thoughts by say sewing one's mouth shut, or maybe cutting off an arm.