21 December 2007

Brandom Lectures Update

The full audio of Brandom's fifth lecture, along with the reply and the full Q&A section, has been posted to the place the old version was at. I figure this is of interest to some, and wouldn't want it to get buried in an old comment thread.

Hopefully I'll get around to listening to the full version (and the final lecture) sometime before the sun becomes a cold, dark lump of coal the size of your forehead. But no promises!

edit: I have listened to the full version, and have started working through Priest's "An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic". Which has been my first formal introduction to modal logic (though I was of course not entirely ignorant of the stuff before now, my "Logic" course didn't go past the predicate calculus, so I'd been neglecting actually sitting down and working textbook problems for anything more than that). I get what Brandom's been saying about "the modal revolution" now; this stuff is neat.

I'm not sure how much Brandom's claims about "the intrinsic logic" of e.g. intuitionist logic being classical S5 really amount to. The claim seems to boil down to saying that for any autonomous discursive practice, even one in which "Not not A, ergo A" doesn't generally hold as a form of valid inference, you can say how to draw inferences according to classical S5 rules; any autonomous language game is VV-sufficient for laying out classical S5's inferential rules through a semantics that speaks only of commitment and entitlement. But this does not strike me as particularly impressive; there would still be inferences in the discursive practice whose form classical S5 would countenance which the discursive practitioners would not recognize as valid, so it strikes me as odd to say that the "intrinsic logic" of the discursive practice is classical S5. Whatever purpose "intrinsic" logic serves, it doesn't seem to have much of a relation to the inferences reasoners draw, and so it seems like a rather beggarly "intrinsic" feature of their practice. If logic isn't behind the validity of inferences, I don't see what it can be said to do at all.

I don't think there's anything here that Brandom would disagree with; he said in an earlier lecture that he doesn't think the question of "Which is the true logic" is a good one, since various logics can be used to express various sorts of inferential commitments. But then I'm left wondering what calling classical S5 "the intrinsic logic of most familiar logics" is supposed to mean, if it's not supposed to be calling classical S5 "more true" than other logics -- more closely related to our inferential practices, or somesuch. For instance, on page 2 of the lecture handout:

Fact: The incompatibility semantics over standard incompatibility relations with these semantic definitions of connectives validates classical propositional logic.
What is that supposed to mean, if we're not interested in the question of "Which is the true logic"? In what sense can classical propositional logic be "validated" short of being "the true logic"? Is this supposed to be an explanation for why classical logic came along so early, and has been so widely-liked, or something like that? (If so, it strikes me as a bad effort -- classical logic has simple truth-tables, and both "the law of excluded middle" and "the law of noncontradiction" have the support of Aristotle (and most of the tradition), which I think nicely accounts for why non-classical logics always smell a little fishy. But I suspect Brandom doesn't mean to be addressing this question, either. I just don't know what "intrinsic logic" is supposed to signify. Perhaps he's claiming that classical S5 can be worked out purely from talk of commitment and entitlement (and not of truth etc.)? But then I still don't see why "intrinsic logic" should be a good title for this feature of classical S5.)

This is to set to the side that, as I understand it, paraconsistent logics don't have classical S5 as their "intrinsic logic". Whatever the "validation" of classical logic is supposed to amount to, I suspect that this is a serious barrier to it.

On a more positive note: I liked the stuff about holism. Fodor comes under attack from yet another front; suits me fine. I am curious what Brandom's argument for holism entails for a Tarski-style theory of truth (along Davidsonian lines), since in a Tarski-style theory the truth-conditions of a sentence are derived from semantic properties assigned to sub-sentential units, that of satisfaction; the satisfaction relations are the axioms from which the familiar T-sentences are drawn as theorems. Tarski-style theories of truth are compositional. (I think I have this right; I should probably go back and read some of the earlier Davison essays to brush up on this.) Brandom's semantics is not compositional, though it is recursive. "It is holistic, that is, noncompositional, in that the semantic value of a compound is not computable from the semantic values of its components. But this holism within each level of constructional complexity is entirely compatible with recursiveness between levels. The semantic values of all the logically compound sentences are computable entirely from the semantic values of less complex sentences." I suspect that this is not a difference which makes a difference. The Tarskian details that lie behind Davidson's "Convention T" do not seem to play much of a role in the interpretive process; ""S" is true-in-L IFF P, where "P" is a translation of "S" into English, or simply S if L=English" does not seem to need any adjusting if one mucks around with the axiom system Tarski used; McDowell argues in one of his essays ("In Defense of Modesty"?) that intuitionists can make use of a Tarski-style theory of truth as a theory of meaning despite their disagreements about logic, contra Dummett & Wright, and I should think the same holds here: The important part of "Convention T" remains unassailable, though some of the things Davidson wrote about compositionality might need revising.

17 December 2007

Cutting it close

I have submitted my grad school application for Chicago. Now I get to wait three months. And hope that FedEx didn't lose my writing sample. And worry that my writing sample was a horrible mess and I should be ashamed of myself for submitting it. And my knee's still all swolen, and the number the hospital gave me for an orthopedist ended up being some guy who only does hip and ankle replacements. And I don't have the slightest idea what I'm supposed to do this spring, since it'll be the first time in my life since toddlerhood to have a "semester" with no classes to go to. And my poor car has been sold for scrap metal. And my mom's having another bladder surgery on Wednesday.

But for now, it's time to relax.


13 December 2007

Hegel and Quietism again (briefly)

Reading through the Pippin/McDowell exchange now. Pippin's postscript was quite enjoyable I thought; probably my favorite piece of his that I've read so far. Though it does seem to miss the point as a criticism of McDowell, as McDowell points out.I've not yet finished the series, but the following bit in "Pippin's Postscript" caught my eye:

To reconceive the way our sensibility is formed as a ‘moment’ in the self-realization of the Concept is to provide a picture of thought that is not confronted with that substantive task. That the forms of thought are the forms of reality can now stand revealed as a platitude. (At least until someone thinks of some other reason to find it problematic.)

It says something about McDowell's quietism that Hegelian doctrines can "stand revealed as platitudes".

Hegel did think that there was something "obvious" about "the coincidence of logic and metaphysics", since he think it's akin to the old idea that "nous governs the world" or more modern thoughts of "Divine Providence", but he's well aware that this is not a platitudinous notion; immediately after he makes the claim, in §24 of the Encyclopedia Logic, there is a very long note apologizing for such a way of speaking, and noting the many objections that readily spring to mind against it (that it appears to credit consciousness to "dead nature" etc.). The remark itself is only a preliminary note; Hegel's trying to give a brief sketch of the Logic (and the whole Encyclopedia system) before he actually sets it out. And it's well known how much Hegel hated trying to summarize his work; his prefaces generally begin with, if they don't entirely consist of, an attack on the notion of philosophical works having prefaces. Hegel generally complains that a preface can't be clear about what's going on in the book unless one has already read & understood the book, but if one already done that then a preface is superfluous. But he includes them because they are a necessary evil; though one is likely to get a horribly misleading impression from a summary, it is at least a starting point, and those are hard to come by.

That the identity of the forms of thought and the forms of reality may "stand revealed as a platitude" seems disingenuous. It may stand revealed as true (pending someone coming up with a good objection to it), but this is because we've sat and thought about it an awful lot (with the help of complicated books by dead German guys). This is not generally what comes to mind when one thinks of "platitudes". If anything is not banal, Hegelianism would seem to be.

It often happens that one only really understands a platitude once one's been through such-and-such. "You can't go home again" is platitudinous, but this hardly stops people from trying; one understands the platitude only once one really feels how distant one has become from one's old home. But the such-and-such in question cannot be just any requirement. Given sufficient training, practice, study, etc. anything can come to seem obvious. But if this was sufficient to make the notion in question into a platitude, then everything would become one. In which case it would be misleading to speak of "platitudes" at all.

It is worth noting what McDowell immediately follows the above bit with:
There is no way to conceive reality except in terms of what is the case, and there is no intelligible idea of what is the case except one that coincides with the idea of what can be truly thought to be the case.

This is clearly McDowell's Tractarianism in view (or if you don't like to call it that, then it's another reference to PI 95). So the reference to "platitudes" is clearly a Wittgensteinian move. (As if TLP 6.13 read "Logic is the mirror of the world; logic is metaphysics". I had to trim out "Logic is not a body of doctrine" because it just seems too forced to leave in place.)

Reading a little further:
It may seem absurd to suggest that the identity-in-difference of thought and reality is a platitude. But it takes work to enable it to present itself as the platitude it is, in the face of our propensity to mishandle immediacy.

Oh, so we just need to get a proper view of mediation and immediacy, and then Hegel's remark will seem platitudinous. Again, this seems a hard pill to swallow. I'll quote Hegel's own exasperated remarks, from the Science of Logic §92, which is more or less a third preface to the book:
This is not the place to deal with the question apparently so important in present-day thought, whether the knowledge of truth is an immediate knowledge having a pure beginning, a faith, or whether it is a mediated knowledge . In so far as this can be dealt with preliminarily it has been done elsewhere. Here we need only quote from it this, there is nothing, nothing in heaven, or in nature or in mind or anywhere else which does not equally contain both immediacy and mediation, so that these two determinations reveal themselves to be unseparated and inseparable and the opposition between them to be a nullity. But as regards the philosophical discussion of this, it is to be found in every logical proposition in which occur the determinations of immediacy and mediation and consequently also the discussion of their opposition and their truth. Inasmuch as this opposition, as related to thinking, to knowing, to cognition, acquires the more concrete form of immediate or mediated knowledge, it is the nature of cognition as such which is considered within the science of logic, while the more concrete form of cognition falls to be considered in the philosophy of spirit. But to want the nature of cognition clarified prior to the science is to demand that it be considered outside the science; outside the science this cannot be accomplished, at least not in a scientific manner and such a manner is alone here in place.

If this is what is needed for us to recognize the platitude as a platitude, it is an awfully tall order. By the time "the more concrete forms of cognition" are being dealt with, you're at the end of Hegel's system. Even if McDowell has significantly easier ways to keep us from "mishandling immediacy" (and in this paper he refers to the entire Phenomenology as devoted to the task), the platitudinousness of Hegel's purported platitude is looking mighty shaky. Hell, in this latter formulation it seems prima facie impossible that it could be a platitude, since I will submit that there just can be no platitude which includes the phrase "identity-in-difference". That is too many hyphens for a platitude.

I am not suggesting that the dissolution of Kant’s problem about conceptual objectivity exhausts Hegel’s thinking; not even that it exhausts his thinking about the relation between thought and reality.
For one thing, Kant’s problem reflects only one way in which unmediated immediacy can make the relation seem problematic.

I wonder if all of Hegel's thoughts are platitudes, or at least all of the ones that involve ways in which mediacy-immediacy can seem problematic, but really isn't.

It occurs to me that one could take a "Wittgensteinian" position against "philosophical theories" along the lines of Goldman's proof that p: "Theories are the sort of thing that might have counterexamples. But if our sayings were to admit of any counterexamples, then this would just show that we've not been sufficiently rigorous in our own anti-theoretical approach, for our non-theories are not supposed to be able to have any counterexamples. Hence there can be no theories in philosophy."

As a final anti-quietist grenade, McDowell again:
Pippin says I hold that objects simply occupy a position of authority over our thinking. But ‘simply’ makes this a travesty.

an aside: Pippin footnotes McDowell, "Self-Determining Subjectivity and External Constraint", which appears to only have been published in German. Anyone have this? I notice that Pippin's citation (in his postscript) is "(6, draft)". I guess McDowell did not include the standard "PLEASE DO NOT CITE THIS IS A DRAFT" disclaimer. edit: Got it, thanks Tom. Though now that I double-check, it turns out it was in Currence's bundle. I could've sworn I looked there for it.

12 December 2007


I love internet polls. The Telegraph had a web-contest to suggest a new UK flag. Here's the winner:

That's the Gurren-dan logo in the middle, there. The Telegraph article makes it sound like it was just "inspired" by anime or something; nope, that's a straight rip from the Gurren-dan flag. The plain red-and-white background (visible in the OP at about 1:15) was just changed to the Union Jack.

The Norwegian designer, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he intended the flag to represent the union of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in a modern, cool light.

The dragon itself was inspired by a Japanese anime television series.

"It represents shouting "UNION!" and joining together; kicking reason to the curb and doing the impossible; fighting the power, and piercing the heavens," he said

And what impact does he think the new flag would have on foreigners like himself?

"That the UK is awesome. I just hope they don't think it's a pirate flag.

"Actually, if this design is rejected as a common flag perhaps the Crown might file it for future use as a privateer ensign on the high seas or in outer space."
It's not clear to me from the article if the designer mentioned that he straight-up took the "dragon" (actually Gurren's face) from a show. I suspect he may have tried to softball it, so that he could get quoted in the Telegraph like he did. "UNION!" is what Kamina/Simon yell when Gurren and Lagann combine to form Gurren-Lagann, or later when Lagann and like a dozen other captured mecha combine to form Dai Gurren-Lagann. "Let's make the impossible possible and kick reason to the curb!" is one of Kamina's catch-phrases; "Your drill is a drill which will pierce the heavens!" is another. And "RARH RARH FIGHT THE POWAH" is the eyecatch jingle. (It pleases me to see that the Telegraph's comments are filled with people shouting "BELIEVE IN YOU WHO BELIEVES IN ME!" -- another fine Kamina moment.)

The last bit is also a reference to the show; the two biggest additions to Gurren-Lagann are a giant boat (which can fly) and a huge spaceship. And then, the moon. You know you're watching a good show when it turns out that the moon is a giant battle fortress, and this is a minor plot point. Incidentally, the way to defeat the moon is with a giant drill. This also works for absolutely everything else ever. If at first the drill does not appear to be working, the solution is either "more drills" or "bigger drills". Or sometimes more, bigger drills with lots of other drills coming out of them. Nested drills. Drill drill drill drill drill.

I don't know why the Telegraph article does not mention which "popular online forum" was responsible for the vote-rigging. It was 2ch. Also, that is not a "Manga cartoon character" riding the dragon. It's Louise Françoise le Blanc de la Vallière from "Zero no Tsukaima", which was a series of light novels and an anime before it got a manga adaptation, and that particular image is from the eyecatch of the anime. Louise there is only a "Manga cartoon character" if "Manga" means "Japanese". (And what's up with that capitalization, Telegraph?)

One of the Japan-submitted flags had leeks on it. Presumably this is Hatsune Miku's proposed flag. This flag manages to feature random loli while remaining on-theme, since Ana-chan is from Corunuwarru, good job 2ch. Though I have no idea what the little yellow triangle is there for, and that's a really lousy picture of Ana.

I voted for the Louise flag. Ride on, Louise. Ride on.

09 December 2007

Kant's Transcendental Proof of Realism sans phrase

From an e-mail, Duck:

[Quoting a post of mine]
"Kant's Transcendental Proof of Realism" still doesn't deserve to be neglected like it appears to be.

Maybe you can post on it? That's a provocative title (although not as provocative as "K's proof of Transcendental Realism" would be). I'm happy to hear about why Kant is not an idealist, but I don't know KW's particular take on the matter.

I actually have covered some of the material in it in earlier posts; I just didn't cite Westphal when I summarized his arguments, since I don't have the book anymore. It's worth pointing out that Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews covered the book a while back; my summary will overlap NDPR's at points, but I'm more favorably disposed to the book than the Notre Dame reviewer was.

Westphal's book is divided into four parts: A critique of Henry Allison et al's "epistemic" version of transcendental idealism (hereafter TI) by means of the defense of a "metaphysical" reading of TI; two separate ways in which Kant's argument for TI fails, "the transcendental affinity of the manifold" as a "material transcendental condition" and the shift from "each event has a cause" to "each event has an external physical cause" in the Analogies; and then a concluding section wherein Westphal argues that TI was not required to "make room for freedom" and that a TI-less version of Kant's system can be developed which avoids the problems Westphal diagnosed while still yielding interesting results. The book as a whole is devoted to defending "transcendental arguments" as not being wed to TI (and so, contra Barry Stroud, as being able to "reach all the way out" to reality), with an aim of suggesting that Kant/Hegel have plenty of good transcendental arguments lying around for us to make use of. In particular, Westphal is concerned with a Kantian argument for "mental content externalism" -- for the thesis that our thoughts being contentful is dependent on the external world being some particular way, such that changes in the world would imply changes in our thoughts.

The first part was not anything particularly new to me; starting a study of Kant by saying "Allison is wrong and here's why" is something of a commonplace by now, and I've read enough of Karl Ameriks's stuff to find the "metaphysical" reading of TI almost common-sensical. (Bader over at the Transcendental Idealism blog has done a fine job covering these issues.) If Kant didn't understand TI in this way, then there's an awful lot of incomprehensible remarks floating around in places like his "Lectures on Metaphysics" and his ethical/religious works. Allison's views are certainly interesting, and undeniable Kantian, but they just aren't Kant's own views.

Westphal also does do a nice job handling a standard objection to Kant's TI (which goes back to Jacobi), that it demands we both apply the category of "cause" to the thing-in-itself (as cause of our representations) and cannot apply the category of "cause" to the thing-in-itself (or else TI is false). Kant's position doesn't fall that easily; Kant doesn't need to apply the schematized concept of "cause" (the category of causation) to the thing-in-itself, but merely the "logical" concept of "cause", of an implicative relation in general. The relation in which the thing-in-itself stands to my representations is analogous to the relation between the sun and the warmed rock, to use Kant's exemplar of a causal relation. Kant doesn't think we can say more than this about the "cause" of our representations, for the same reason we can't say much of anything about the causal power of our free wills -- to do either would be to exceed the limits of the understanding. So Kant has to leave the relation of our representations to things-in-themselves as "mysterious", but it's not a crippling mysteriousness; Kant's TI allows for this sort of indeterminate talk of things in themselves, though it denies that we can have any determinate knowledge of them (because the categories do not apply to them). Kant's TI, read metaphysically, is in the main coherent. If it fails (and Westphal thinks it does), the devil's in the details. And to the details he proceeds.

The first issue Westphal considers is one that doesn't get much mention in the literature, "the transcendental affinity of the manifold". Westphal argues that this should be identified with Kant's "logical principle of genera". I'll quote a passage concerning the latter, from A653/B 681:
Suppose (a case that is readily thinkable) that among the appearances offering themselves to us there were so great a diversity -- I will not say in form (for in that regard appearances may be similar to one another), but in content, i.e., in the manifoldness of existing beings -- that even the very keenest human understanding could not by comparing appearances with one another discover the slightest regularity. If that were so, then the logical law of genera would have no place at all; and even a concept of genus, or any general concept whatsoever, would have no place -- nor, indeed, would even an understanding, which deals solely with such concepts. Hence the logical principle of genera, if it is to be applied to nature (by which I here mean only those objects that are given to us), presupposes a transcendental one. According to this transcendental principle, homogeneity is necessarily presupposed in the manifold of possible experience (although we cannot a priori determine the degree of this homogeneity); for without homogeneity no empirical concepts and hence no experience would be possible.
Kant argues that what is given to us in the manifold of sensation must have at least some minimal amount of order to it; if nothing is at all similar to anything else in sensation, then we could not take notice of anything given to us in sensation, for there would be no determinate objects or states for us to discriminate among (for if they were determinate, they would be determinate in some determinate way relative to other determinations), and hence our thoughts of them would likewise be wholly indeterminate; "without homogeneity no empirical concepts and hence no experience would be possible". The problem this causes for TI is that Kant specifies that this is a transcendental requirement on the matter of what is given to us, not on the form. But according to TI, all transcendental requirements are formal -- the matter is given ab extra, and then the mind imposes the intuitional forms of space and time on it, with the rest of Kant's transcendental requirements falling out of this imposition of spatio-temporal form. This was how the "Copernican turn" was supposed to work, by conforming objects to thought rather than t' other way 'round. But with the principle of genera/the affinity of the manifold, we have a requirement on how the matter of the object must be for thought to get a grip on it at all. If this too is contributed by thought, then there is no longer a sense in which the matter of intuitions is given ab extra; the thing-in-itself can only be (at most) an occasion for the mind to generate "representations" for itself out of whole cloth. This sort of idealism is something Kant's transcendental idealism was supposed to be tailor-made to avoid -- it's empirical idealism, subjective idealism. But if Kant wants to maintain the "Copernican" notion that objects conform to thought because of the transcendental application of forms upon what is given ab extra, then he has to fall back into it. Kant has a problem.

Westphal traces the root of TI back to the Transcendental Aesthetic, where Kant claims to establish that space and time are nothing in themselves, nor are they properties of objects in themselves, nor are they properties of objects in relation to one another, but space and time are merely the forms under which we intuit objects. The forms are due to us, not the objects. God could intuit objects without our forms of intuition (and indeed he must, if God is to play the practical role Kant lays out for him, in the way Kant lays it out). Kant's later arguments for the restriction of knowledge to appearances all refer back to the arguments of the Aesthetic; the schematized categories can't apply to things-in-themselves because, qua schematized, they apply to objects extended in space and time, and there are no things-in-themselves in space and time.

Kant's argument in the Aesthetic doesn't work, however. The argument works as a long disjunctive syllogism: Space and time must be A, or B, or C, or... and cannot be A, and cannot be B, and cannot be C, and... hence space and time are transcendentally ideal, and do not apply to things in themselves, as this is the sole remaining possibility. But Kant ignores a possibility when he lays out this argument: (At least some) objects are in themselves extended in space and time, and only those objects which are extended in space and time can be given to us in intuition, and then only insofar as they are extended. This allows space and time to be "formal requirements" on any object which can be given to us, but without requiring any transcendental meddling. (If these same objects have some non-spatio-temporal properties, or if there are non-spatio-temporal objects, the objects cannot be given to us under those aspects. But nor can we so much as imagine what these would be like, though they remain logically possible. And what can be given to us is the objects themselves, as they are in themselves.) (I need to look at McDowell's "Radicalization of Kant" essay more closely at some point; McDowell seemed to end up endorsing a stronger thesis, that space and time are the forms of objects generally, when this extra step isn't needed to secure thought's grasp on its objects. There can be things we can't notice without this sliding into "We can't notice anything". McDowell seems to be making the same overly-strong claim as Hegel here, at least.)

A quick glance at the Aesthetic (which is a lot shorter than I recalled it being) gives me this:
How, then, can the mind have an outer intuition which proceeds the objects themselves, and in which the concept of these objects can be determined a priori? Obviously, this can be so only insofar as this intuition resides merely in the subject, as the subject's formal character of being affected by objects and of thereby acquiring from them direct presentation, i.e., intuition, and hence only as form of outer sense in general.
The problem is in the "obviously". That's Kant's argument against the position Westphal considers, so to speak. It just doesn't occur to Kant. Kant holds that we have a pure, formal intuition of space a priori, and so he thinks space must be imposed by the mind ("outer intuition... resides merely in the subject, as the subject's formal character of being affected by objects"), and thus space cannot be the form of objects in themselves. But, as Westphal shows, this doesn't follow. Our pure formal intuition of space might be what allows us to be presented with objects without it having to distort them in the process of doing so. Kant recoils too far from the "abstractionist" picture of space as "derived from experience" into a picture of space as forced onto experience. (The objection of a "neglected alternative" in the Aesthetic is common, but Westphal takes it in a different direction than most. It's generally posed as part of a broadly anti-Kantian project of criticism, which is not Westphal's aim. Westphal aims to show that the Aesthetic can be shown to fail without this vitiating the aims of the Critique as a whole.)

The second failing, the sliding between "every event must have a cause" and "every event must have an external physical cause" appears to again just be an oversight on Kant's part -- which he caught later on. Trying to fix the argumentative "gap" here was one of the goals of Kant's "Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science", and then later the "Opus Postumum". Westphal picks apart the opening chapter of the MFoNS, on "Phoronomy", and shows how (among other things) Kant doesn't have a good reason to reject the possibility of hylozoism, and so Kant failed to patch up his system. Kant wants to somehow argue from the mere notion of matter as "the movable in space" to the thesis that each physical event must have an external physical cause, and the prospects for success here are dim. But Kant needs to somehow vindicate the stronger form of the causal thesis, because this is what the analogies required, and trying to wheedle it out of the bare concept of "the movable in space" is all his "critical metaphysics" allows. This part of the book is more nit-picky, it seemed to me, and doesn't have a great deal of bearing on TI generally; Westphal spends most of his time arguing against Michael Friedman's reading of the MFoNS, since Friedman's the big name when it comes to the MFoNS, but this doesn't seem to have much to do with the rest of the book. Westphal could've gone from the affinity of the manifold straight to his closer and the book would've been a better read.

The conclusion of Westphal's book is that Kant's transcendental arguments can be reworked into a form that does show that the categories (or at least the categories of causation) can be applied in possible experience (and not outside it), and that this (sound) argument doesn't establish anything like transcendental idealism. Westphal calls it "realism sans phrase", to distinguish it from empirical realism, internal realism, virtual realism etc.. Westphal argues that it should've been Kant's own position, but for some unfortunate oversights on Kant's part; the sorts of arguments Westphal makes use of have parallels in Kant (which Westphal is quick to draw attention to). Realism sans phrase both is and is not the "transcendental realism" Kant rejects; the latter is a confused view that would take maxims like "Each event has a cause" and try to draw conclusions from them without consideration of the context within which such a maxim can be held true by us (viz., within possible experience -- in application to objects in space and time); the "transcendental realist" is thus accused of making a mess of freedom and nature (A 543/B 571). Kant specifically says that the "transcendental realist" does this to time and space by trying to measure them -- are they finite or infinite? (A 491/B 519). But the way Kant initially introduces the "transcendental realist" (in A 369-372) is more anodyne: the transcendental realist holds that objects which we intuit as extended in space are also extended in space in themselves -- "apart from the senses" in the sense that our mind does not effect their spatiality. Kant slides from this characterization to the characterization that the transcendental realist must regard objects as extended in space "apart from the senses" in a different sense -- objects are in space, and we intuit objects in space, and these two are independent* of one another. Even if objects were not extended in space in themselves, we would still intuit them spatially, and if they are extended in space in themselves, then we still might intuit them nonspatially. Which means that our "spatial intuitions" can't tell us about any objects in space; we have to infer the one from the other "as cause from effect". Thus "transcendental realism" is wed to "empirical idealism" (and TI is wed to "empirical realism"). So Kant's condemnation of "transcendental realism" is ambiguous: it's a condemnation of empirical idealism (good), of the use of the categories outside the boundaries of possible experience (good), and of the notion that objects are in themselves as we intuit them to be (bad). Westphal means to affirm the third position, while retaining a Kantian opposition to the first two.

Westphal's final chapter is devoted to showing that (contra Kant) TI is not needed to "make room for freedom" in Kant's system. Westphal shows that Kant's arguments in the analogies and the paralogisms jointly rule out determinism in psychology. As Kant points out in the introduction to the MFoNS, psychology deals with no objects of outer sense; the soul is not a physical object, and so it cannot be treated of by recourse to physical, causal laws. The paralogisms make the point even sharper: We have no knowledge of the soul as a substance at all; it is only equivocations which make it seem that there must be a thing underlying all my thoughts to give them unity. And if my mind cannot be licitly considered as a thing, then a fortiori it cannot be considered as a physical thing, which it would have to be for Kant's argument for determinism in the phenomenal realm to apply to it. Because the soul is not a physical substance, the analogies have no bearing on it; we cannot affirm knowledge of any causal relations involving a soul. Kant does explicitly affirm psychological determinism in the first Critique (in the response to the third antinomy), but Westphal notes that the section on the antinomies was written before the paralogisms/analogies/MFoNS, and that while the paralogisms were completely rewritten for the B edition, the antinomies were left unchanged. So Kant appears to have not noticed that his views in the paralogisms implied that psychological determinism is not known to be true, and so TI was not needed to allow for thought to be ungoverned by natural laws. Without recourse to a "noumenal self", Westphal is able to get to the conclusion Kant wanted from the first Critique: It is not known that my thoughts follow upon one another according to a law. I am inclined to not rest satisfied with all of the conclusions Westphal ends with, but they strike me as being the most faithful to Kant's texts out of all the commentator's I've read.

*That reality and truth are "independent of our beliefs" is the slogan that Davidson, in "The Structure and Content of Truth", says it is pointless either to accept or to reject. (p. 305 in the relevant issue of "The Journal of Philosophy".) Davidson says that the only sense which we can give to this slogan depends on correspondence, which cannot be made intelligible. But it seems to me that Davidson simply ignores the most plausible sense of the slogan: Reality can be a certain way, a certain sentence can be true, without anyone believing that it is so. This is not to say that all of reality could be this way, or that all sentences could be this way, or that all of our beliefs could be false. Reality and truth are independent of our beliefs**, but our beliefs cannot be generally independent of reality and truth. If reality/truth alter substantially enough, our beliefs have to follow. Only some of our beliefs can be wrong; most are true. But most true sentences would not cease to be true if all rational animals suddenly perished, and thus all belief came to an end.

It appears to me that Kant makes a similar gaff -- he conflates the notion that spatial objects are spatially extended independent of our perceiving them as spatially extended with the notion that our intuiting an object as spatial is independent of there being spatial objects. We are able to intuit objects as spatial because there are spatial objects given to us; if there were no spatial objects, we would have no intuitions at all, a fortiori no spatial ones. So again the independence only goes one way. Getting a proper view of this independence is just to reject the transcendental ideality of space and time while still recognizing the formal role space and time play in our epistemic life.

**excepting, of course, the parts of reality which are our beliefs, and the parts of truth which are sentences talking about our beliefs.

blah blah links blah blah smashed car blah blah

Self and World is a good blog.

This Robert Pippin video Currence linked to is pretty great for a short lecture.

I haven't seen anyone link to Sorting Out Wittgenstein yet; if you liked Vexations With Wittgenstein, well, it's like that. Except black instead of pink.

(Blog&~Blog) looks promising.

I'm not sure what Graham Priest can say about a sentence T="This sentence is neither true nor both true and false" where "this sentence"=T. Priest's paraconsistent logic is four-valued: True only, false only, neither true nor false, and both true and false. But if T is true only, then it's not true (and so not true only). If T is false only, then it's also true (and so not false only). If T is neither true nor false, then it's true (and so not neither true nor false). And if it's both true and false, then it's both true and not true, both false and not false. So none of Priest's four truth-values can be assigned to it. So it looks like Priest also has to deal with a "strengthened liar", while one of the selling points of dialetheism was supposed to be that it didn't have to worry about strengthened liars.

Bosphorus Reflections gave my blog's RSS feed its own subheading, which is how I found it. I've liked what I've read of his blog. Clear writing that discusses Foucault/Derrida is still kinda hard to find.

Incidentally, the "partner site" which he links to (which I take to be run by the same guy, based on the URL) has a link to a PDF version of Zizek's "The Indivisible Remainder" on MediaFire. I'm actually curious what Zizek thinks about his stuff being pirated; I'd be surprised if he was much opposed. I'm not sure it's hurting Verso to have a book or two of Zizek's floating around, either; I suspect that a free version of "The Indivisible Remainder" might serve as fine advertising for some of Verso's other offerings. This of course does not make it any more legal, but I really doubt anyone would try to take this to court. It's worth noting that the "Facts, Ideas and Logic" site is legal; it's not a crime to link to a site that violates copyright. And most of what he links to is not pirated material; it's just articles that have been posted in places where he can link to them. I'm curious how he came across the MediaFire links, though.

Oh hey, I just noticed that he added a link to a PDF of "Glas" sometime in the last few days. At least that one makes more sense to pirate; Glas costs upwards of $60 and is somewhat hard to find, while The Indivisible Remainder is a $12 paperback at list price. Though PDFs make for lousy coffeetable books. Huh, the PDF has "Copyright 1986" circled in it. Maybe Turkey has really liberal copyright laws, such that a book from 20 years ago whose author died recently is in the public domain? Still, it's published by University of Nebraska press, so I'm pretty sure this is also illegal. US copyright lasts forever, because of Mickey Mouse, and I'd be surprised if Turkey has not signed some sort of copyright-respecting treaty. But hey, if you don't mind it being illegal: Free unreadable Derrida book. (It's not the scan's fault that it's unreadable. The quality is tolerable. But the book is infamous for being, uh, creatively presented.)

Philosophy things I have found via BitTorrent: Several of Fodor's books, most of Foucault's books, Frege's "Foundations of Arithmetic" and various essays, "Being and Time" and "What is Metaphysics", "The Sickness Unto Death", Kripke's completeness proof for modal logic, public domain works by Hobbes/Hume/Locke and public domain translations of Kant/Hegel/Leibniz/Spinoza, "On Denoting", various Quine essays including a full PDF of "From A Logical Point of View", PDFs of "Philosophical Investigations" and "Zettel", Wittgenstein's collected works in both English and German (though missing a few odd bits, mainly the ones collected in "Philosophical Occasions"), the Zizek! movie, the Derrida movie, what looks like a site dump of marxists.org, and recordings of Dreyfus's existentialism lectures. And that's just the stuff I bothered to look at. I'm actually curious where the Wittgenstein collected works thing came from; it's in some weird e-book format and claims to be an ISO rip. I have no idea who that could have been marketed to, given how expensive the collection would have to be; were there libraries that got jazzed up about e-books? I don't know who else could afford something like this.

I recall reading a "London Review of Books" article by Fodor where he mentioned that he occasionally goes into bookstores to check out the philosophy sections -- he then proceeds to stare at the shelf-full of Foucault books, which are just to the right of where his books would be, if they were there at all. At least BitTorrent likes you, Fodor!

"Two Dogmas of Empiricism" is posted a few places online; the sites it's on seem to all claim that it's in the public domain. I am fairly certain this isn't the case. "From A Logical Point of View" had its copyright renewed, and so I'm pretty sure that at least the revised 1961 version of "Two Dogmas" isn't going to be public domain until 2060, 60 years after Quine's death, under current US copyright law. At least, this is what Wikipedia has lead me to believe.

It's worth noting that "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind" is online legally; the site hosting it got permission from the University of Minnesota to reprint a paper from 50 years ago.

also, I have some pics of my car! Ignore the black bars; I only have MSPaint to edit with on my laptop.
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This gives you a look at how smashed it was. The back door on the driver's side is the only door that still works, and that's the only good tire. The engine's shifted over to the passenger's side of the car. The white stuff is where battery acid leaked all over the place. The car was worth $400 as scrap, at least.

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I just liked the guy's face here. He owns the tow-yard. He was pretty happy to see me walking after doing that to my car. Also, you can see my leg in this photo; most of it looks purplish like that now. That's really the only injury I got, apart from some nicks & bruises on my other leg and my right hand. But you can see I'm still standing, so it's all good. Though I'm anxious for my knees to be the same size again.

06 December 2007

Blogging may be light for a bit

This evening, my car spun out, and a tree stopped it. The car's totaled. I'm fine, though my shins are pretty bruised up. No broken bones at least. Paramedics said I was awfully lucky to not end up with my head through the windshield or what-not. Thank God, it's just some bruised shins. I'm sure this will seem like a bigger deal when in a day or so; they said the blood that pooled at my right knee will slowly drain out, and my foot/leg will turn purple. Fun stuff.

My glasses went flying when I hit the tree; no one could find them until right before the ambulance left. I'm not sure if they were in the car or got thrown through the windshield, but they're unscratched. My DS is also fine, though I think it might've gotten some small scratches on the outside. The rest of the stuff I had on me was in my pockets. Basically, all I lost in the accident was the car itself. I mean, it sucks that my car is gone now, but I am really thankful to have my glasses back. That was a rough half-hour without them. And the DS is not immediately replaceable; I have all 493 pokemon on that copy of Pearl! I would not want to lose it. Plus the firmware's been flashed, and that'd be a pain to do again.

But, I figure I'll be pretty scatter-brained for the rest of the night, and they gave me a prescription for vicodin. I figure my post quality would probably not be so hot while I'm on vicodin. I'm on percodine or something right now; they offered me morphine or vicodin, but I figured I wasn't hurting that bad. (This post is also kinda weak, but who cares -- I just mean to be informative. I no needing for to write gooder 4 it~). I have a post on Kenneth Westphal's "Kant's Transcendental Proof of Realism" all written up, but I wrote it before finishing the book. After finishing chapter seven (the last one, where Westphal sets forth in detail what he thinks can be retained from Kant after we look at why transcendental idealism fails, and why Kant's failures don't vitiate his system generally), there's a few details I'd like to touch up. (I finished the chapter last night, but was too tired to write the post. I might get around to it; there's not a huge amount that needs rewriting, I don't think. I figure right now I'm just frazzled from the adrenaline and such; maybe I'll be more clear-headed on vicodin that I expect. Never been on it before. I guess Dr. House does OK with it. Fox television is a reliable source for medical information right)

A few random thoughts:
*Thanks to whoever it was that helped out at the scene of the accident. I couldn't see any of you really, but you were life-savers. (Not literally, that I know of. But you were helpful. And hey I could've been hurt worse than I was. I think the gas-tank was leaking, for instance. Who knows how close I was to being on fire.)
*Seatbelts really do work! I recall seeing the airbag coming out, thinking "OH CRAP THAT IS GOING TO HURT", and then my shoulder-strap caught me. Looks like I got a friction burn on my shoulder, but it only hurts if I stretch it a lot.
*I wish I hadn't filled up the tank this evening. That's $30 I did not need to spend!
*The ER nurse with glasses was hot. And she got me a cup of water! I had to ask seven people before I managed to get a second cup of water. Hot nurse, cromulent performance. 5/5 would recommend to others
*Do car wrecks make the news, or is that just the really bad ones? I was the only one involved and I just spun out through a construction yard (according to the people at the scene; I couldn't see well myself, it was dark), so I guess it's probably not newsworthy. Probably still check the paper tomorrow just in case.
*I was lost at the time of the accident. I was trying to find the Half-Price Books on S.Lamar when I got lost; when I realized I wasn't going to find the store before it closed for the evening, I decided to just drive around for a bit, since it's a nice evening. Then I kinda got lost; apparently I had made it to Caesar Chavez when I spun out, so at least I had almost found my bearings again. (CC is old 1st street, and if I ran into the numbered streets then I could get back home. I guess I don't need to recall Austin's street layout now.)
*I still want to go to that bookstore! I've been to the other three in the area this week; got a lot of nice stuff. Was considering posting a list when I'd hit the fourth store, just 'cause. I found the Pierce book Clark kept recommending, for instance; $4. And I finally have a copy of Theory's Empire, for... $15 I think? Not going to walk across the room to check because my knees hurt. But it was a nice price. I also found some random anthology on "Philososophy in History" with stuff from Rorty, McIntyre, and some other cool dudes, for $15. It actually has two of the essays from "The Original Skeptics" in it.
*My copy of "The Original Skeptics" finally showed up in the mail yesterday. Took it long enough.
*Holy crap I totaled my car what the fuck ;_;
*I have to write my final-essay for Legal Writing before friday afternoon. I'm not coming back next semester, so I'm not sure what I'll do there. I need to remain a "student in good standing" this semester for loan purposes, so I guess I have to turn in something.
*I hate law school. I do not want to do this stuff for a living.
*Graduate school applications for next fall are due pretty soon! I need to figure out what I'm doing about that writing sample. One of the drawbacks about getting a theology BA is I don't really have anything suitable lying around. The best part is I'll have to get two pieces put together, since some schools want 10-15 pages and some want 20-25 pages. Chicago's deadline is the 17th. This will be a fun week ;__;
*Oh hey, I should ask for recommendations. Bad enough I'm asking less than two weeks ahead of time; every extra day is just going to make me more rude. At least I'm not worried about being turned down by any of them; SNU's profs are good guys, and I only really decided I wanted to go for grad stuff after all about a week or so ago, during thanksgiving break. Hopefully I am lucid enough to type an e-mail, there. I guess if I'm not, then I'm not; might as well try.
*There, e-mail sent.
*I was covered in a lot of little sand-sized bits of broken glass for a while. I don't know how Spinoza managed to stand the stuff. It's like pointy dirt. Ugh. Gives me the heebie-jeebies.
*This was my first accident! I haven't even gotten a speeding ticket before. I guess when it rains it pours. And destroys your car. Stupid rain.