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#161 general semanticist

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 12:42 AM

Two valued Boolean logic is also the logic of your computer (and mine). Look up NOR and NAND gates.

Yes, but computers don't always work because they are physical devices.
'Always' and 'Never' are two words you should always remember never to use. :-)

#162 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 12:43 AM

GS,

Rand's theory of concept formation is based on how algebra works.

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#163 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 12:50 AM

Two valued Boolean logic is also the logic of your computer (and mine). Look up NOR and NAND gates.

Yes, but computers don't always work because they are physical devices.


Quite so. I should have said two valued Boolean logic is the -grundlagen- (basis) of the design for conventional (von Neuman) computers. If quantum computers can ever be gotten to work they will have a different -grundlagen-.

The main point is that two valued logic is as much an applied discipline as it is a theoretical discipline. I guess that is the real point I wanted to make.

Ba'al Chatzaf
אויב מיין באָבע האט בייצים זי וואָלט זיין מיין זיידע

#164 general semanticist

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 12:57 AM

Rand's theory of concept formation is based on how algebra works.

Interesting, and exactly how does algebra work?
'Always' and 'Never' are two words you should always remember never to use. :-)

#165 general semanticist

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 01:19 AM

The main point is that two valued logic is as much an applied discipline as it is a theoretical discipline. I guess that is the real point I wanted to make.

I maintain that in the realm of mathematics it works absolutely but the moment it is applied then it is not mathematics anymore and it only works relatively.
'Always' and 'Never' are two words you should always remember never to use. :-)

#166 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 01:36 AM

Interesting, and exactly how does algebra work?

GS,

Symbols and categories with clear definitions used in developing formulas of kinds, quantities and relationships.

That could be refined since it is off the top of my head, but essentially that's about right.

Michael

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#167 general semanticist

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 06:02 AM

Well, that sounds like an admirable way to go about things :)
'Always' and 'Never' are two words you should always remember never to use. :-)

#168 Daniel Barnes

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 02:36 PM

Well, that sounds like an admirable way to go about things :)


Problem is, GS, that it's easier said than done.... :)

#169 Nicholas Dykes

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 03:29 PM

Physical science is not the job of philosophy. Philosophy's role is to keep science honest by making sure scientists employ sound principles of epistemology and obey the rules of logic. Nicholas Dykes

Nick,

That's one hell of a good quote.

Michael


Too bad that it is dead wrong. It is experiment that falsifies wrong theories, not philosophical disputes and discourses. Serious scientists gave up on philosophy (metaphysics) over a hundred years ago. The only branch of philosophy that has any relevance for science is critical epistemology. The philosopher that has had the most influence on science in the last fifty years is Karl Popper.

In teaching of science, particularly physics, Aristotle's works on matter and motion are used as an example of how NOT to do science. Aristotle got almost everything wrong. Why? He hardly ever checked. Aristotle never properly developed the experimental method.

Ba'al Chatzaf


Ba'al

Attacking Aristotle for not developing scientific methods is like attacking Newton for not developing the theory of relativity. You're reading history backwards. Aristotle did a tremendous amount. Criticising him for what he didn't do, or for mistakes made 2000 years before modern science began, is plainly unjust, and that's saying the bare minimum.

Aristotle had a very clear idea of the gradual growth of science: "While no one person can grasp truth adequately, we cannot all fail in the attempt. Each thinker makes some statement about nature, and as an individual contributes little or nothing to the inquiry. But the combination of all the conjectures results in something big.... It is only fair to be grateful not only to those whose views we can share, but also to those who have gone pretty far wrong in their guesses. They too have contributed something: by their preliminary work they have helped to form our scientific way of thinking."

Earlier you attacked Aristotle's cosmology and linked him to the Inquisition. That is equally unjust. Galileo was up against the vast and cruel tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church, not against Aristotle. If Aristotle had had a telescope he'd have done Galileo's job for him. His curiosity was insatiable.

As for Popper, he had no influence on science per se. All he did was to distract a few scientists with his pretended epistemology and inflame the mysticism of men like Eccles with his idealism. That said, one has to admire Popper's persistence. He flogged a dead horse for about seventy years.

Nicholas Dykes

#170 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 03:32 PM

Rand was a top-down thinker and the algebra comparison with concept formation works from that perspective. It doesn't work from bottom-up.

In other words, from top down, a concept is like a file (or algebraic symbol) that indicates an existent which has observable similarities with other existents, i.e., a category indicating countless existents of the same type. No matter how many new facts are discovered about that existent, the category will continue unaltered.

From the bottom up, new facts engender a new way of observing the nature of an existent. No one symbol, except something so vague it is meaningless, can indicate that flux.

To use an example discussed in depth elsewhere on OL, an observable characteristic of ice is that it floats. But floating is not the only thing a person observes when he first encounters ice and wants to identify it. It is merely one of the main things. From the top down, he makes a category, "ice" and includes floating as one of the ways to identify that category among all the other stuff he observed. Then a rare form of ice is discovered that does not float. Here we have a problem.

From the top down, the category "ice" still continues unaltered and it still means that hard cold stuff we all use in our drinks on up to highly technical subatomic breakdowns on a scientific level. The fact that some form of ice does not float is added to the information in the category, which if verbalized, gets changed to "mostly floats" or something like that. The category for the referent "ice" that the person encounters in reality is what is called open-ended.

From the bottom up, the idea of non-floating ice destroys the category because it falsifies the proposition that all ice floats with one instance. From the bottom up, "ice" does not correspond to a general category we all can observe, but a very specific proposition. And there are countless propositions since there are countless facts. If one tried to keep them all in his head at one time, he would fail.

The way the bottom-up thinker gets around this is to do as Popper suggests and claim that words have vague meanings but are useful. The top-down thinker looks at that kind of approach and, if he is of a nature like Rand's, considers this an attack against thinking in entities and categories. But it isn't an attack. It is refusal to observe the same thing from a different perspective (whether intentional or not), except when not doing so becomes so absurd the bottom-up thinker has to make some kind of allowance in order to be taken seriously. (The proclamation that "all words are vague" serves this purpose well.)

Those who are overly-critical of Rand's theory of concepts do not look at reality from the top down. Rand's main thing was identifying reality starting with observing entities, not the parts. Some people just don't think in terms of entities and they stumble when trying to understand Rand, just as she stumbled on trying to understand them (and started calling them evil and whatnot).

A thinker interested in understanding reality and not just entertaining a pet theory tries to see things from all angles (using sight as a metaphor for sensory, perceptual and conceptual awareness). He knows he is not omniscient, so he needs to move his focus around to get a complete picture of something in reality. And he knows that reality does not exist only from one static viewpoint of the observer. He knows that all things can be seen at different angles and that he has the capacity of moving, so he uses it.

Michael

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#171 Greybird

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 05:08 PM

Attacking Aristotle for not developing scientific methods is like attacking Newton for not developing the theory of relativity. You're reading history backwards. Aristotle did a tremendous amount. Criticising him for what he didn't do, or for mistakes made 2000 years before modern science began, is plainly unjust, and that's saying the bare minimum.

Aristotle had a very clear idea of the gradual growth of science: "While no one person can grasp truth adequately, we cannot all fail in the attempt. Each thinker makes some statement about nature, and as an individual contributes little or nothing to the inquiry. But the combination of all the conjectures results in something big. ... It is only fair to be grateful not only to those whose views we can share, but also to those who have gone pretty far wrong in their guesses. They too have contributed something: by their preliminary work they have helped to form our scientific way of thinking."

Earlier you attacked Aristotle's cosmology and linked him to the Inquisition. That is equally unjust. Galileo was up against the vast and cruel tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church, not against Aristotle. If Aristotle had had a telescope he'd have done Galileo's job for him. His curiosity was insatiable. [...]

For a third of a century I've been looking for a pithy reply, of about this length, to the simplistic Aristotle-bashers among us.

(By "us," I mean the philosophic communities I've been a part of more generally, in and out of college, and not just Objectivists. Though I've seen a surprising number of same among O's and hangers-on.)

You've provided this for me. Thank you! And from where are you quoting Aristotle, in what appears to be a livelier translation than I've ever seen?

#172 Roger Bissell

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 08:46 PM

Roger,

I do not know how to discuss anything with comments like these:

What do ~you~ mean by "causal agent"? An entity, right? Is there any ~other~ kind of causal agent? Didn't Rand, Branden, and Peikoff drill into us the Aristotelian view that entities cause actions? Entities are causal agents.

I have stated several times that I believe holons to be causal agents in addition to entities. That is not an Objectivist premise, but one of my own. When you ask me, like you did just now, "Is there any other kind of causal agent?" I respond, "Why yes. Holons. Like I said. Several times already."

(I can provide several links if you like.)

Kidneys cause certain things to happen, for instance, that no other things cause to happen. I am interested in identifying top-down principles in addition to bottom-up ones. I believe recognizing holons, or whatever you want to call a complete system within a larger system, as causal agents is one such principle.

(And I believe the nature of the organizing process in the universe is a form-creating causal agent, sort of like a magnet with metal particles, but that is another matter. In other words, emergence from the bottom is not the only form-creating causal agent. Attraction, for lack of a better word, is another.)

That being so, is mind an entity? Well, again, you tell me!

Actually I have told you. Several times. I said specifically several times that the mind is not an entity. It is an existent. I have called it a holon. I have now (and recently) corrected Paul and William on this and complained that I do not understand why this mistake keeps getting made. Yet it keeps getting made and you just did it.

I am very interested in these ideas, but I do not want to keep repeating myself like I have been doing. My mind starts wandering when that happens. My interest is in exploring and developing the actual ideas, not in the social process of constantly repeating things to correct misattributions in order to maintain dialog. My attention span requires elementary understanding of statements to be on the table.

I will try to get to your other comments a little later.

Michael


Whenever you wish to comment will be fine. I'm sorry that this process has been stressful for you. I thought that I ~had~ been "exploring and developing the actual ideas." But I had not noticed a difference in "mind-wandering" symptoms between your repetitious posts and your non-repetitious posts. For better or worse, you seem pretty consistent to me.

However, I think you are right that there needs to be an "elementary understanding of statements." By which I think you mean that we should be operating from the same definitions of our concepts. I can certainly see from the above that we are arguing at cross-purposes, which tells me that we are not quite there yet.

When I say entities are the only causal agents, I do not mean to exclude their component parts (aka holons). I mean to exclude attributes, actions, and relationships. To rephrase Rand's/Aristotle's view of causality: causality is the relation between entities or parts of entities and their actions. In other words, entities and their component parts (holons) -- and ~only~ entities and holons -- are causal agents.

Now: apply it to the "state of the art" in Objectivism (which hasn't budged since the 1960s). If mind or consciousness is an ~attribute~ of human beings, as the orthodox Objectivist view holds (I have quotes from Rand, Branden, and Peikoff supporting this view), then mind is ~not~ a causal agent.

If, on the other hand, as I claim, mind is a ~part~, a ~component~ of human beings -- and more specifically, the brain or a part/component of the brain -- then yes it ~can~ be a causal agent. This is my view, which sees mind (= brain or = part of the brain) as a holon.

This latter view also pops up very occasionally, almost in an off-hand manner, in the writings of Rand, Peikoff, and Branden, but it is clear that they strongly incline toward the mind-as-attribute view.

Whatever validity there is to the Objectivist claims of the "causal efficacy of mind" rests ~entirely~ upon their scarcely-ever-stated, almost implicit view that mind is an entity or component part of one (aka holon). When they instead tie it together, as they almost always do, with their view of mind as attribute, the "causal efficacy of mind" is logically incoherent.

Orthodox Objectivism can't have their Aristotelian entity causality and eat it, too. This is ~orthodox Objectivism's~ problem and error, not mine.

REB
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#173 Brant Gaede

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 09:50 PM

What does a kidney "cause to happen?"

--Brant

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#174 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 09:56 PM

What does a kidney "cause to happen?"

Pee.

:)

Know thyself...


#175 Brant Gaede

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 10:15 PM

What does a kidney "cause to happen?"

Pee.

:)

That's one. You need one more.

--Brant

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#176 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 11:39 PM

Kidney stones.

:)

Know thyself...


#177 Nicholas Dykes

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 05:22 AM

Attacking Aristotle for not developing scientific methods is like attacking Newton for not developing the theory of relativity. You're reading history backwards. Aristotle did a tremendous amount. Criticising him for what he didn't do, or for mistakes made 2000 years before modern science began, is plainly unjust, and that's saying the bare minimum.

Aristotle had a very clear idea of the gradual growth of science: "While no one person can grasp truth adequately, we cannot all fail in the attempt. Each thinker makes some statement about nature, and as an individual contributes little or nothing to the inquiry. But the combination of all the conjectures results in something big. ... It is only fair to be grateful not only to those whose views we can share, but also to those who have gone pretty far wrong in their guesses. They too have contributed something: by their preliminary work they have helped to form our scientific way of thinking."

Earlier you attacked Aristotle's cosmology and linked him to the Inquisition. That is equally unjust. Galileo was up against the vast and cruel tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church, not against Aristotle. If Aristotle had had a telescope he'd have done Galileo's job for him. His curiosity was insatiable. [...]

For a third of a century I've been looking for a pithy reply, of about this length, to the simplistic Aristotle-bashers among us.

(By "us," I mean the philosophic communities I've been a part of more generally, in and out of college, and not just Objectivists. Though I've seen a surprising number of same among O's and hangers-on.)

You've provided this for me. Thank you! And from where are you quoting Aristotle, in what appears to be a livelier translation than I've ever seen?


Hail to thee, blythe Greybird! (Or, after that 1/3rd of a century, is it grey~beard~?!) I'm 66 today --2/3 of a century -- and my beard would be grey indeed if I didn't ruthlessly ride it down every morning with the triple scimitars of my Phillishave. I'm being silly, I know, but I've just had a wonderful birthday present -- a letter from John Hospers allowing me to quote his praise for my book ~Old Nick's Guide to Happiness~, so I'm a very happy birthday boy indeed.

The quote from the ~Metaphysics~ is in J.H. Randall ~Aristotle~ p.53. I'm afraid I don't know who translated it, perhaps Randall himself.

The worst of the 'simplistic Aristotle bashers' was of course Popper, who devoted the first 26 pages of ~Open Society~, Vol 2, to a disgraceful and ridiculous attack on The Philosopher. I take Popper roundly to task over this in my critique ~A Tangled Web of Guesses~. Popper's gratuitously wrong-headed attack so offended an American scholar to whom ~Open Society~ was sent for peer review that he dismissed the book as 'not fit for publication'. And it wasn't. At least not until it came into the hands of a less discerning British publisher after the Second World War.

All the best, Nicholas

Edited by Nicholas Dykes, 12 August 2008 - 05:25 AM.


#178 general semanticist

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 07:09 AM

I think it's important to not use a 21st century perspective to judge someone's work in the past, especially the distant past, like Aristotle. It is my understanding that Aristotle is one of the founders of modern science and most of our science now was possible because of his work. That being said, I don't think we should continue to apply his work to modern society because we have evolved way past that now.
'Always' and 'Never' are two words you should always remember never to use. :-)

#179 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 08:42 AM

Re: #172

Roger,

A force field can be the cause of an acceleration, yet the field be an attribute of its source. A bar magnet could be the source of the magnetic field surrounding it. That field could cause a flow of electrical current in a conducting wire moved through the field. Just because the field is a cause, we donít need to regard it as an entity. It can be a concrete attribute requiring support of an entity.

(We could of course have other reasons for taking the field to be an entity, rather than an attribute.)

On the mind-brain relation, consistent with Randís thoughts on this topic so far as I have seen: http://www.objectivi...amp;#entry14734

Stephen

Edited by Stephen Boydstun, 12 August 2008 - 10:11 AM.


#180 Brant Gaede

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Posted 12 August 2008 - 09:23 AM

Kidney stones.

:)

Debatable. But you've done enough. You're off the hook. Don't you think, though, that the heart or lungs would have been better examples? At least we weren't talking about the liver. Thank God!

--Brant

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