john42t

Scientific Certainty?

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Like Ellen Stuttle I would be very cautious of using QM as any sort of springboard towards the human mind as a causal agent or opening up the possibility of causation capabilities outside of the human body.  

Dennis,

Why like Ellen Stuttle? Did she mention that? I must have missed it.

Dennis is filling in gaps on the basis of old acquaintance. He and I often sparred on the Atlantis lists about the possibility of "effective volition." We disagree on that, but we agree in thinking that QM doesn't provide a plausible basis.

--

Merry Christmas, Dennis!

Ellen

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Popper himself had to do away with definitions (playing word games that go into infinite regress) so he could entertain such a faith.

I think that's not a correct characterization of Popper.

Sure it is. Here is a direct quote from "Two Kinds of Definitions." [....]

Michael, what I object to in your characterization of Popper is your statement that he was attempting to entertain a faith. As I said, in fact Popper was strongly committed to realist metaphysics. I think that emphasizing that "Two Kinds of Definitions" essay in interpreting Popper is a mistake for several reasons: Of the works of his I've thus far read, it's his least well-reasoned. He says things modifying it in his autobiography. I think that where he went off about definitions was in not grasping the difference between *words* and *concepts*. He was thinking of them as equivalent. Objectivism of course doesn't think of them as equivalent, but instead of the word as a label for the concept. Popper's complete system brings in by a different route what Objectivists call "concepts," the route of his idea of a Third World of objective knowledge. I'm still in process of trying to sort all this out. I just want to warn against what seems to be your belief that Popper was *attempting* a con.

Ellen

Here is what Popper said about Induction and Definition:

http://dieoff.org/page126.htm

It is not a long piece and it is clearly written.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Can I not even be sure that I'm not a tree frog?

Ribbit! Ribbit!

I thought that you wouldn't answer but instead would continue -- as you do in subsequent posts -- with all-around-the-block talk.

I'll change the form of the question to 2nd person. I request a clear "Yes" or "No" answer:

Can you be sure that you're not a tree frog?

Ellen

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Can I not even be sure that I'm not a tree frog?

Ribbit! Ribbit!

I thought that you wouldn't answer but instead would continue -- as you do in subsequent posts -- with all-around-the-block talk.

I'll change the form of the question to 2nd person. I request a clear "Yes" or "No" answer:

Can you be sure that you're not a tree frog?

Ellen

Yes. I am rather certain I am not a tree frog. I am a bald eagle.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Yes.  I am rather certain I am not a tree frog.   I am a bald eagle.

Ba'al Chatzaf

I'm now "rather certain" that you're a squirmer.

Ellen

PS: It is interesting the way those who claim that you can't know anything factual with 100% certainty become evasive when asked such questions as the one I posed.

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Excellent Ellen.

Cuts to the essentials.

Cuts to the quick.

Adam

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I'm still in process of trying to sort all this out. I just want to warn against what seems to be your belief that Popper was *attempting* a con.

Ellen,

I'm sure the world will be grateful for your warning.

You are correct that Popper did not distinguish between concept and word in that essay. Since I haven't read his other works, I will have to wait until I do to revise my understanding of where he was truly at.

But there's nothing like looking at the horse's mouth to get what's in it. So, I totally disagree with your method of making an assertion, being proved wrong by a direct quote (from the horse's mouth), then countering with the equivalent of, "Well, he didn't really mean it in that work," or "That was not a good work by him."

Did Popper later specifically say he was wrong in that essay, "Two Kinds of Definitions"? If he did, a quote instead of an opinion would be useful. If not, I prefer to let Popper himself be the judge of what he believes his work says rather than being told what it really means from a third party like you.

I just want to warn against using your kind of competitive rhetoric if true understanding is the objective...

(Heh...)

As to faith, I was talking about a specific meaning of faith, i.e., believing something based on an opinion while willfully omitting an essential component. Like... uhm... say... definitions. In Popper's view in that essay, he claims definitions are useful but not fundamental to true knowledge. That is the kind of faith (and con game) I was talking about and I stand by my statement.

From what little I know of Popper's history, I believe he liked to shock people. I think he got off on that. So when he did monkey-shines like attacking the value of definitions, I think he was showing off instead of going for truth. It was an ego-trip to see how much he could get away with--because of his superior intellect, of course.

I have a name for this that I coined in my twenties for a work I was thinking about writing (although, to be honest, I had no idea back then how spot on I was). I call it cheap profundity.

Michael

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Here is what Popper said about Induction and Definition:

http://dieoff.org/page126.htm

It is not a long piece and it is clearly written.

Bob,

Thank you.

I've been looking all over for that link. I used above a copy/paste of the last essay on the Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature site.

Those essays might be clearly written, but their reasoning is flawed. One day when I have nothing better to do, I might do a case study with them.

Michael

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Bob,

Thank you.

I've been looking all over for that link. I used above a copy/paste of the last essay on the Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature site.

Those essays might be clearly written, but their reasoning is flawed. One day when I have nothing better to do, I might do a case study with them.

Michael

Padeetu.

Since you have the material verbatim , proceed to demonstrate what you have asserted explicitly.

Show your argument clearly and show the work.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Send a stream of electrons through a Stern-Gerlach magenet and two stream come out spin-up and spin-down. 50-50...
Bob, Really? How do you know that? Isn't it reasonable to doubt it? I'm just using your standard... Michael
It is a very carefully done and oft reproduced experiment. It has been done thousands of times with the same result. It is part of a complex experiment that corroborates the Pauli Exclusion Principle. The chances of error are quite small. It is one of those 5 sigma jobs. Not absolute certainty, but pretty damned sure. Which is about as good as it gets. Ba'al Chatzaf
http://plato.stanfor...ntries/qm-bohm/ Section 11 on spin toward the bottom: "We thus might naturally wonder how Bohmian mechanics manages to cope with spin. But this question has already been answered here. Bohmian mechanics makes sense for particles with spin, i.e., for particles whose wave functions are spinor-valued. When such particles are suitably directed toward Stern-Gerlach magnets, they emerge moving in more or less a discrete set of directions — 2 possible directions for a spin-1/2 particle, having 2 spin components, 3 for spin-1 with 3 spin components, and so on. This occurs because the Stern-Gerlach magnets are so designed and so oriented that a wave packet (a localized wave function with reasonably well defined velocity) directed towards the magnet will, by virtue of the Schrödinger evolution, separate into distinct packets — corresponding to the spin components of the wave function and moving in the discrete set of directions. The particle itself, depending upon its initial position, ends up in one of the packets moving in one of the directions." There is no priority in assuming a probabilistic explanation [probability waves] of quantum mechanics. That priority was disproved by J.S. Bell in 1964 yet it continues to be repeated as though repetition constitutes proof. Dennis May
Bohm Debroigle QM is unable to ground quantum electro-dynamics (abbr QED). It is not Lorentz invariant. An any case there is no experiment made to date in which B-DeB beats Quantum Theory. Which is why it is not -the- quauntum theory. Another problem is that the B-DeB pilot wave has infinite velocity.and does not diminish in amplitude with distance. Many physicists don't like that. It is also not Lorentz invariant in the form Bohm proposed it. That is annoying. The Max Born interpretation of the eigenvalues of the operator (that is where the probabilities come from) still produces the results. The relativistic versions of B-DeB require stochastic processes. I clipped this from the wiki article. You might find it interesting: Nikolić has proposed a Lorentz-covariant formulation of the Bohmian interpretation of many-particle wave functions.[20] He has developed a generalized relativistic-invariant probabilistic interpretation of quantum theory,[12][21][22] in which | ψ | 2 is no longer a probability density in space, but a probability density in space-time. He uses this generalized probabilistic interpretation to formulate a relativistic-covariant version of de Broglie–Bohm theory without introducing a preferred foliation of space-time. His work also covers the extension of the Bohmian interpretation to a quantization of fields and strings.[23] In short, probability is back. Can't seem to get rid of it. Here is the thing: No one has been able to improve upon re-normalized quantum electrodynamics. Bohm DeBroigle doesn't. When you come up of a Lorentz invariant theory that predicts correctly to 12 decimal places, please be sure to let us know. In the mean time we just can't get rid of probabilities without some kind of problem. If you can find a way to get us back to the "good old days" of Hamiltonian - Lagrangian physics, please let us know. Ba'al Chatzaf

"The Max Born interpretation of the eigenvalues of the operator (that is where the probabilities come from) still produces the results."

To say that is where the probability comes from is only one way the math can be used - it infers absolutely nothing about a probabilistic interpretation. There is no experiment in which Bohmian Mechanics beats non-relativistic standard interpretation QM because both produce the same results. This has been known for many decades. Bohm did not propose specifics about the "pilot wave" any more than the standard interpretation can explain the collapse of probability waves capable of localizing particles across all of space. Nikolić calling them "probability waves" does nothing to make that the case.

Re-normalized quantum electrodynamics produces good results - a marriage between incompatible deterministic relativity and an indeterministic interpretation of QM - using questionable mathematical techniques without physical foundation. But it works so now the task is to come up with a Bohmian

relativistic equivalent since absolutely nothing has changed as far as the priority of a probabilistic interpretation versus a deterministic interpretation. Bell settled that issue in 1964 and quantum electrodynamics overlaps the time frame of Bell's work - the final present form being completed in 1975 without any challenge of Bell's ideas whatsoever. Again repeating the assertion of a priority for a probablistic interpretation adds no weight to the argument. The most that can possibly be said is that a relativistic version of Bohmian mechanics is still in its infancy and does yet compete in the relativistic realm. An understandable situation given the thousands to one funding differential and misinformation about the status of Bohmian Mechanics being taught to this day.

Dennis May

These philosophical quibbles matter little to me. I am interested in RIght Answers and Facts. I am what Ayn Rand called concrete bound. Facts Rule. Theories Serve (sometimes) and Principles stretch to fit. If you have a better way to come up with more Right Answers then publish, and have your work checked out by experts. Einstein did it. And he did it while he was working at the Patent Office too.

Ba'al Chatzaf

No argument here about right answers and facts. I am taking your suggestion and working on a paper for arXiv. Eventually little papers won't be enough and I will have to go Tome to ever get it done.

Dennis May

I have been researching the arXiv.org route. It seems the policy of requiring endorsers on arXiv - (with banishment from endorsing for bad endorsing) - has led to the only recognized endorser I know to refuse any and all endorsements. I am still going to work on the paper but it appears arXiv may be beyond reach. Their success has increased their prestige so they have raised the bar to entry. Once I have the paper finished I can see if I can find endorsement but arXiv seems to discourage seeking endorsement without an established relationship to the endorser. “Outsiders not welcome” is the message I take away from it. The only clear means of entrance is university affiliation.

Dennis May

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Here is what Popper said about Induction and Definition:

http://dieoff.org/page126.htm

It is not a long piece and it is clearly written.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Popper on induction:

What is the justification for the belief that the future will resemble the past? What is the justification of so-called inductive inferences?

By an inductive inference is here meant an inference from repeatedly observed instances to some as yet unobserved instances. It is of comparatively minor significance whether such an inference from the observed to the unobserved is, from the point of view of time, predictive or retrodictive; whether we infer that the sun will rise tomorrow or that it did rise 100,000 years ago. Of course, from a pragmatic point of view, one might say that it is the predictive type of inference which is the more important. No doubt usually it is.

There are various other philosophers who also regard as misconceived this traditional problem of induction. Some say that it is misconceived because no justification is needed for inductive inference; no more in fact than for deductive inference. Inductive inference is inductively valid just as deductive inference is deductively valid. I think it was Professor Strawson who was the first to say this.

I am of a different opinion. I hold with Hume that there simply is no such logical entity as an inductive inference; or, that all so-called inductive inferences are logically invalid - and even inductively invalid, to put it more sharply . We have many examples of deductively valid inferences, and even some partial criteria of deductive validity; but no example of an inductively valid inference exists . .

There are many ways to present my own non-inductivist point of view. Perhaps the simplest is this. I will try to show that the whole apparatus of induction becomes unnecessary once we admit the general fallibility of human knowledge or, as I like to call it, the conjectural character of human knowledge.

Let me point this out first for the best kind of human knowledge we have; that is, for scientific knowledge. I assert that scientific knowledge is essentially conjectural or hypothetical.

Take as an example classical Newtonian mechanics. There never was a more successful theory. If repeated observational success could establish a theory, it would have established Newton's theory. Yet Newton's theory was superseded in the field of astronomy by Einstein's theory, and in the atomic field by quantum theory. And almost all physicists think now that Newtonian classical mechanics is no more than a marvelous conjecture, a strangely successful hypothesis, and a staggeringly good approximation to the truth.

I can now formulate my central thesis, which is this. Once we fully realize the implications of the conjectural character of human knowledge, then the problem of induction changes its character completely: there is no need any longer to be disturbed by Hume's negative results, since there is no need any longer to ascribe to human knowledge a validity derived from repeated observations. Human knowledge possesses no such validity. . .

David Harriman on Popper:

Logic, when properly applied, enables us to arrive at true conclusions. But it comes with no guarantee that we will apply the method correctly. The laws of deduction were identified by Aristotle more than two millennia ago, and yet people still commit deductive fallacies. If one remains attentive to the evidence, however, further use of logic leads to the correction of these errors. The same is true of false generalizations reached by induction. Although even the best thinkers can commit inductive errors, such errors wither and die in the light shed by continued application of observation and logic.

During the past century, however, many philosophers have rejected the validity of induction and argued that every generalization is an error. For example, Karl Popper claimed that all the laws of Kepler, Galileo, and Newton have been “falsified”; in his view, no laws or generalizations have ever been or can ever be proven true. By demanding that a true generalization must apply with unlimited precision to an unlimited domain, Popper upheld a mystical view of “truth” that is forever outside the reach of man and accessible only to an omniscient god. In the end, he was left with two types of generalizations: those that have been proven false and those that will be proven false. He was then accused by later philosophers of being too optimistic; they insisted that nothing can be proven, not even a generalization’s falsehood.

Such skeptics commit—on a grand scale—the fallacy of dropping context. The meaning of our generalizations is determined by the context that gives rise to them; to claim that a generalization is true is to claim that it applies within a specific context. The data subsumed by that context are necessarily limited in both range and precision.

David Harriman, Errors in Inductive Reasoning

The Objective Standard, Vol 3, No 4

(Note; This article was excerpted from Harriman’s The Logical Leap.)

On this point, I think Harriman's argument is perfectly formulated. This also underscores the folly of any suggestion that Objectivism endorses a view of human knowledge as "tentative" (or conjectural or hypothetical). Nothing could be further from the truth. As I said in another post, Objectivism holds that knowledge is contextually absolute.

I know you don't care about this sort of 'philosophical word salad,' Bob, but I regard it as important to try to clarify such issues for those who do.

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. As I said in another post, Objectivism holds that knowledge is contextually absolute. I know you don't care about this sort of 'philosophical word salad,' Bob, but I regard it as important to try to clarify such issues for those who do.

Clarify all that you will. When the falsifications are based on experiment they won't go away because you talk them to death.

The Black Swan is an absolute.

The perihelion of Mercury simply does not go where Newton's law says it goes.

Atoms don't collapse as is predicted by Maxwell's laws.

And the past does not perfectly predict the future.

Empirical inductions work perfectly except when they fail.

And facts are so God Damned stubborn.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Michael,

I thought it was clear that I wasn't objecting to your describing Popper as believing that definitions go into infinite regress but instead to your characterizing his motives. Here's your comment again:

Popper himself had to do away with definitions (playing word games that go into infinite regress) so he could entertain such a faith.

As far as I know, Popper maintained to the end of his life that the attempt precisely to define terminology leads to infinite regress. (I haven't yet read any published work of Popper's post 1979, i.e., when he was 77. He lived to age 92.)

Furthermore, I think he was right IF one is talking about the meaning of words rather than the referents of what Objectivism calls "concepts." As you acknowledge (#82), Popper didn't make the distinction Objectivism makes between words and concepts "in that essay." I haven't seen him making exactly Objectivism's distinction anywhere in the works of his I've read thus far. However, I'm thinking he makes a parallel distinction with his Third World idea, his material on which I'm still in process of reading.

Awhile back, Daniel Barnes and I had a discussion of Popper versus Objectivism on definitions. Daniel posted a pdf of a chart which I'v studied many times from Unended Quest. I think it well presents Popper's differentiating of types of pursuit which he thought non-productive (the left column) from those he thought productive (the right column).

I'm having trouble with formatting between the list's changed software and my outdated browsers (new computer in the offing), so I don't want to try to copy the chart. Here's a link to it.

Also, here's a link to the segment of Popper's autobiography I was talking about. It's a discussion of his later reservations about the term "methodological nominalism." I think I recall, somewhere, Daniel's objecting to my interpretation of the segment, but I couldn't find where.

Have fun, anyone who wants to wade through the threads linked. Enough to drive one bats.

Ellen

PS: Harriman's depiction of Popper, quoted in #86, I consider horribly distorted.

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Ellen,

If the cartoons ever become public, you might get a kick out of the "Spooky Dude" series Glenn Beck's comedy team is putting together.

That series is a satire of George Soros. Some of Popper's ideas get a passing lampoon (since he is Soros's intellectual foundation), sometimes when people's eyes are twirling in an infinite regress hypnosis pattern and they look zonked out.

Here is the first, which is all over the Internet and was produced before GBTV officially inaugurated. It immediately starts out blasting some Popper catch phrases, but without saying his name. I got a kick out of the logical outcome of the truth idea ("What I say it is") right at the beginning.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/_5j8GHgRjMM?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Michael

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Ellen,

If the cartoons ever become public, you might get a kick out of the "Spooky Dude" series Glenn Beck's comedy team is putting together.

That series is a satire of George Soros. Some of Popper's ideas get a passing lampoon (since he is Soros's intellectual foundation), sometimes when people's eyes are twirling in an infinite regress hypnosis pattern and they look zonked out.

Here is the first, which is all over the Internet and was produced before GBTV officially inaugurated. It immediately starts out blasting some Popper catch phrases, but without saying his name. I got a kick out of the logical outcome of the truth idea ("What I say it is") right at the beginning.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/_5j8GHgRjMM?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Michael

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Soros

"Throughout this time, Soros developed a philosophy of reflexivity based on the ideas of Karl Popper. Reflexivity, as used by Soros, is the belief that the action of beholding the valuation of any market, by its participants, affects said valuation of the market in a procyclical "virtuous or vicious" circle.[22]"

Soros made a great deal of his fortune through insider knowledge and an understanding of how fiat money works to create bubbles. If you have insider knowledge and can influence timing on the effects of fiat created bubbles you can become very very rich.

Dennis

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Furthermore, I think he was right IF one is talking about the meaning of words rather than the referents of what Objectivism calls "concepts."

As a former translator, I have become weary of these thoughts.

In the discussions on epistemology I have read where certainty of words (or concepts) are dissected, the fact that there are many languages in the world is never mentioned.

That is something so in-your-face obvious that I am astonished it is rarely brought up by such intelligent people. (I say rarely because I know it must be out there somewhere, not because I have seen it.)

Sometimes there just isn't a word in one language you can translate to a word in another, so you have to opt for an explanation.

I find this is a big monkey-wrench in the epistemological machine of some of the stuff I have read, including Rand's.

Michael

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Yes. I am rather certain I am not a tree frog. I am a bald eagle.

Ba'al Chatzaf

I'm now "rather certain" that you're a squirmer.

Ellen

PS: It is interesting the way those who claim that you can't know anything factual with 100% certainty become evasive when asked such questions as the one I posed.

I believe with all my heart that I am not a tree frog. I tried hopping and I failed and I am unable to croak.

If it turns out that I am wrong, I will change my belief.

Is that definite enough for you?

Ba'a' Chatzaf

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I thought it was clear that I wasn't objecting to your describing Popper as believing that definitions go into infinite regress but instead to your characterizing his motives. Here's your comment again:
Popper himself had to do away with definitions (playing word games that go into infinite regress) so he could entertain such a faith.

Ellen,

Well you were not clear, but even if you were, I explained myself clearly enough to answer your timely warning to mankind. In the meaning of faith I was talking about, my remark that you quoted is totally accurate.

But if you don't like that formulation, I'm happy to redo it.

How's this?

Popper himself had to do away with definitions (playing word games that go into infinite regress) to try to pull one over on everyone as he looked down his snooty nose at stupid humanity through the spectacles of cheap profundity.

Actually, even though the first way is accurate, I like this one a lot better.

It's not theory-laden like Popper's own works are as he points that unfastidious highfalutin finger at others. It's snooty-laden, extolling the Virtue of Snootiness.

Michael

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It's not theory-laden like Popper's own works are as he points that weighty finger at others. It's snooty-laden, extolling the Virtue of Snootiness.

Michael

Kindly produce instances. Assertions are cheaper than borscht and not nearly as reliable.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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It's not theory-laden like Popper's own works are as he points that weighty finger at others. It's snooty-laden, extolling the Virtue of Snootiness.

Bob,

Please.

I have corrected it and our posts crossed.

It now reads:

It's not theory-laden like Popper's own works are as he points that unfastidious highfalutin finger at others. It's snooty-laden, extolling the Virtue of Snootiness.

Michael

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Bob,

You want an instance? Sure. You don't have to go far, either. Look at the first paragraph right here at the link you provided:

The development of thought since Aristotle could, I think, be summed up by saying that every discipline, as long as it used the Aristotelian method of definition, has remained arrested in a state of empty verbiage and barren scholasticism, and that the degree to which the various sciences have been able to make any progress depended on the degree to which they have been able to get rid of this essentialist method. (This is why so much of our 'social science' still belongs to the Middle Ages.)

That's a pretty snooty theory if I ever read one. And Popper does not give one iota of evidence that "the Aristotelian method of definition" was the cause impeding progress, not just here or there, but in "every discipline," or that getting rid of it was the historical cure (or any other kind of cure for that matter). Instead, he uses a rhetorical device called presupposition.

He states his claim as if it were an unquestionable fact. But it merely rests on his pet theory and nothing else.

That's both theory-laden and snooty-laden.

Michael

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Bob, You want an instance? Sure. You don't have to go far, either. Look at the first paragraph right here at the link you provided:
The development of thought since Aristotle could, I think, be summed up by saying that every discipline, as long as it used the Aristotelian method of definition, has remained arrested in a state of empty verbiage and barren scholasticism, and that the degree to which the various sciences have been able to make any progress depended on the degree to which they have been able to get rid of this essentialist method. (This is why so much of our 'social science' still belongs to the Middle Ages.)
That's a pretty snooty theory if I ever read one. And Popper does not give one iota of evidence that "the Aristotelian method of definition" was the cause impeding progress, not just here or there, but in "every discipline," or that getting rid of it was the historical cure (or any other kind of cure for that matter). Instead, he uses a rhetorical device called presupposition. He states his claim as if it were an unquestionable fact. But it merely rests on his pet theory and nothing else. That's both theory-laden and snooty-laden. Michael

Not the least be "snooty" It is right on the mark. The Aristotelian approach delayed real science for at least a 1000 years, perhap 1500 years.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Bob,

You, also, do not provide a shred of evidence for your assertion.

And even if true (which I do not believe it is), that is a classic case of what historians call "presentism." Which means applying a current context to former times.

What makes you think that the Middle Ages would have had automobiles or computers if not for Aristotle other than pure theory-laden speculation?

Michael

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Bob,

You, also, do not provide a shred of evidence for your assertion.

Galileo is my shred. He had to fight off the Aristotelians tooth and nail. And he was not entirely successful either. He still bought into circular motion as did Copernicus. That was an Aristotelian hangover.

Newton rejected the Aristotelian dogma of physics in the entirety. He finally nailed down inertia, which Aristotle denied. Aristotle believed all motions required a force. Bzzzzt. WRONG!

How long from Aristotle to Newton?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Bob,

Galileo?

What you are talking about has nothing to do with the issues Popper was talking about. Aristotle was not Galileo's enemy. Without Aristotle's ideas, I submit, there would have been no Galileo's ideas.

Besides, I never imagined Aristotle was a Christian, much less a Catholic and proponent of the Inquisition. Fancy that. Live and learn, I guess. Coming up with positive ideas delays human progress while burning people at the stake for disagreement is business as usual. Boy do I have a lot of catching up to do.

Seems like I also have to revise my timeline for Christianity...

Michael

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