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I don’t remember where I cut and pasted the following from. I can’t say I understand much of it, but if it is of interest, enjoy. Some is from Knowledge without Authority too. (1960). I found the whole thing which is over 15 pages long and so can you. I can't seem to get it to close up much. Peter

The Problem of Induction (1953, 1974) Karl Popper

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 Yet Newton's theory was superseded in the field of astronomy by Einstein's theory, and in the atomic field by quantum theory.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. On the other hand, we can explain all our achievements in terms of the method of trial and the elimination of error. To put it in a nutshell, our conjectures are our trial balloons, and we test them by criticizing them and by trying to replace them - by trying to show that there can be better or worse conjectures, and that they can be improved upon. The place of the problem of induction is usurped by the problem of the comparative goodness or badness of the rival conjectures or theories that have been proposed.

The main barrier to accepting the conjectural character of human knowledge, and to accepting that it contains the solution of the problem of induction, is a doctrine which may be called the commonsense theory of human knowledge or the bucket theory of the human mind. 3

I think very highly of common sense. In fact, I think that all philosophy must start from commonsense views and from their critical examination.

For our purposes here I want to distinguish two parts of the commonsense view of the world and draw attention to the fact that they clash with one another.

The first is commonsense realism; this is the view that there is a real world, with real people, animals and plants, cars and stars in it. I think that this view is true and immensely important, and I believe that no valid criticism of it has ever been proposed. [See also selection 17 below.]

A very different part of the commonsense view of the world is the commonsense theory of knowledge. The problem is the problem of how we get knowledge about the world. The commonsense solution is: by opening our eyes and ears. Our senses are the main if not the only sources of our knowledge of the world.

This second view I regard as thoroughly mistaken, and as insufficiently criticized (in spite of Leibniz and Kant). I call it the bucket theory of the mind, because it can be summed up by the diagram overleaf.

What allegedly enters the bucket through our senses are the elements, the atoms or molecules, of knowledge. Our knowledge then consists of an accumulation, a digest, or perhaps a synthesis of the elements offered to us by our senses.

Both halves of commonsense philosophy, commonsense realism and the commonsense theory of knowledge, were held by Hume; he found, as did Berkeley before him, that there is a clash between them. For the commonsense theory of knowledge is liable to lead to a kind of anti-realism. If knowledge results from sensations, then sensations are the only certain elements of knowledge, and we can have no good reason to believe that anything but sensation exists.

Hume, Berkeley, and Leibniz were all believers in a principle of sufficient reason. For Berkeley and Hume the principle took the form: if you do not have sufficient reasons for holding a belief, then this fact is itself a sufficient reason for abandoning this belief. Genuine knowledge consisted for both Berkeley and Hume essentially of belief, backed by sufficient reasons: but this led them to the position that knowledge consists, more or less, of sensations on their own.

Thus for these philosophers the real world of common sense does not really exist; according to Hume, even we ourselves do not fully exist. All that exist are sensations, impressions, and memory images. [See also selection 22, section 1, below.]

This anti-realistic view can be characterized by various names, but the most usual name seems to be 'idealism'. Hume's idealism appeared to him to be a strict refutation of commonsense realism. But though he felt rationally obliged to regard commonsense realism as a mistake, he himself admitted that he was in practice quite unable to disbelieve in commonsense realism for more than an hour.

Thus Hume experienced very strongly the clash between the two parts of commonsense philosophy: realism, and the commonsense theory of knowledge. And although he was aware that emotionally he was unable to give up realism, he looked on this fact as a mere consequence of irrational custom or habit; he was convinced that a consistent adherence to the more critical results of the theory of knowledge ought to make us abandon realism. 4 Fundamentally, Hume's idealism has remained the mainstream of British empiricism.

Hume's two problems of induction -- the logical problem and the psychological problem -- can best be presented, I think, against the background of the commonsense theory of induction. This theory is very simple. Since all knowledge is supposed to be the result of past observation, so especially is all expectational knowledge such as that the sun will rise tomorrow, or that all men are bound to die, or that bread nourishes. All this has to be the result of past observation.

It is to Hume's undying credit that he dared to challenge the commonsense view of induction, even though he never doubted that it must be largely true. He believed that induction by repetition was logically untenable - that rationally, or logically, no amount of observed instances can have the slightest bearing upon unobserved instances. This is Hume's negative solution of the problem of induction, a solution which I fully endorse.

But Hume held, at the same time, that although induction was rationally invalid, it was a psychological fact, and that we all rely on it.

Thus Hume's two problems of induction were:

(1) The logical problem: Are we rationally justified in reasoning from repeated instances of which we have had experience to instances of which we have had no experience?

Hume's unrelenting answer was: No, we are not justified, however great the number of repetitions may be. And he added that it did not make the slightest difference if, in this problem, we ask for the justification not of certain belief, but of probable belief. Instances of which we have had experience do not allow us to reason or argue about the probability of instances of which we have had no experience, any more than to the certainty of such instances.

(2) The following psychological question: How is it that nevertheless all reasonable people expect and believe that instances of which they have had no experience will conform to those of which they have had experience? Or in other words, why do we all have expectations, and why do we hold on to them with such great confidence, or such strong belief?

Hume's answer to this psychological problem of induction was: Because of 'custom or habit'; or in other words, because of the irrational but irresistible power of the law of association. We are conditioned by repetition; a conditioning mechanism without which, Hume says, we could hardly survive.

My own view is that Hume's answer to the logical problem is right and that his answer to the psychological problem is, in spite of its persuasiveness, quite mistaken.

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From "the particular" (this trade, today's sunrise, this water, etc.etc). to "the general" (all trades, all sunrises, all oceans) IS induction. And it requires cognitive effort to avoid drawing f

Top down and bottom up are not either-or. They are mental frames for perceiving and mentally processing reality. You need both to get a clear picture. Choosing one over the other is linear t

You might also want to check out Harlow's monkeys: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Harlow Ellen

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I will stop posting old stuff for a while but I found this from Ghs.

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Aristotle on choice. Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 11:09:06 -0600: As I have noted before, one of the best treatments of "choice" ever written appears in Book III of Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics.* The following sketch of his basic points is from the translation by W.D. Ross in *The Basic Works of Aristotle,* ed. Richard McKeon (Random House, 1941). This summary is taken from Aristotle's introductory remarks on pp. 967-71, after which he explains and defends his views in more detail -- so please don't take this as a comprehensive statement. I encourage everyone to read Aristotle's discussion in its entirety, for two reasons. First, it exerted an enormous influence on subsequent advocates of "free will." Second, it is filled with insights, distinctions, and arguments that every volitionist (including Objectivists) will find of value, even if they take exception to some points.

Summary: Choice does not pertain to what is impossible. We can wish for something impossible (e.g., immortality), but we cannot choose it. An agent chooses "only the things that he thinks could be brought about by his own efforts." Wish relates the end of action, whereas choice relates to the means. For example, we can wish to be healthy but we cannot choose to be healthy per se, because this does not lie directly in our power. Instead, we choose *means,* or specific actions, that we think will make us healthy.

Choice "involves a rational principle and thought." This means that choice is preceded by deliberation. This distinguishes the realm of choice from the realm of the voluntary. All chosen actions are voluntary, but not all voluntary actions are chosen. Something is voluntary if "the moving principle is in the agent himself, he being aware of the particular circumstances of the action." Hence if we act spontaneously from a strong passion, this action is voluntary (i.e., it was not compelled by an external agent) but not chosen per se, because it was not the result of deliberation.

The same is true of habitual actions. These are voluntary but not chosen, since to act from habit is to act without conscious reflection or deliberation. We can, however, choose means that we believe will alter our habits; and it is also the case that our habits are the result of earlier choices. This notion of indirect choice (which is my characterization, not Aristotle's) plays a crucial role in Aristotle's treatment of virtues and vices, which are essentially good and bad moral habits.

(Aristotle's distinction between the voluntary and the chosen – which he discusses in far more detail than indicated here -- is relevant to the topic of soft determinism. He would maintain that the soft determinist confuses voluntary actions with chosen actions. Suppose that all of our actions are necessitated by antecedent causes. Although these determined actions can be described a "voluntary" (because the source of action lies within the agent), they are not a matter of choice. This is because choice presupposes deliberation, and we deliberate only about *alternatives* that we regard as both possible and within our power to do or not to do. )

Aristotle asks: "Do we deliberate about everything, and is everything a possible subject of deliberation, or is deliberation impossible about some things?" We do not deliberate about things that occur necessarily or by nature, nor about chance events. (These are other ways of saying that we do not deliberate about things that lie outside of our control.) For instance, we do not deliberate about solstices, droughts or rains, nor about the accidental finding of a treasure. Nor do we deliberate about every human action, but only about those things that "can be brought about by our own efforts."

In short, "we deliberate about things that are in our own power and can be done." This means that we do not deliberate about the conclusions of the exact sciences in which conclusions follow with logical necessity from evident premises. Nor do we deliberate about how the letters of the alphabet shall be written, for such matters have already been determined (by convention, in this case) and present no options. Deliberation is possible only when (1) alternatives are possible, and (2) these alternatives lie within our own power to do or not to do. "Deliberation is concerned with things that happen in a certain way for the most part, but in which the event is obscure, and with things in which it is indeterminate."

"We deliberate about ends but not about means." A doctor qua doctor does not deliberate about whether he shall heal, for this purpose is a defining characteristic of his profession. This end is assumed -- it is accepted as a given by the doctor qua doctor -- who deliberates only about the means appropriate to healing, when different options present themselves and a course of action is not absolutely dictated by logical necessity. (Aristotle obviously does not deny that one can deliberate about becoming a doctor, but in this case the profession is viewed as a *means* to some other end, e.g., a fulfilling way of life, a good living, or happiness.)

All deliberation is a type of investigation; to deliberate is to consider various means and to assess their relative desirability vis-à-vis a given end. And if, during the course of this investigation, we encounter an impossibility, we "give up the search" because we realize that something is not within our power. (e.g., "if we need money and this cannot be got; but if a thing appears possible we try to do   it.") Deliberation "is about the things to be done by the agent himself, and actions are for the sake of things other than themselves."

The object of deliberation in a particular case is the same as the object of choice, "except that the object of choice is already determinate, since it is that which has been decided upon as a result of deliberation that is the object of choice."  Again: "The object of choice being one of the things in our own power which is desired after deliberation, choice will be deliberate desire of things in our own power; for when we have decided as a result of deliberation, we desire in accordance with our deliberation."

(The term "deliberate desire" is very important. Aristotle denies that our choices are necessitated by our desires. True, we don't choose something unless we desire it in some sense, but can generate, and thereby control, our desires through deliberation, which is an intellectual process that a person has the power to initiate and direct. To put the same point in Randian terms, feelings are not a primary.) Ghs

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Here are a few more moldy oldies. Oh, my. Ain’t I boored? Wow. Ghs wrote for Newsday. Peter

From: John Hospers To: movies wetheliving Subject: MOV: Chaplin Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2001 12:49:23 -0800

Esp. to Richard Allen: No, Rand didn't care for the 'silent comedians'.  Several times in our conversations the topic of Chaplin came up - all negative.  At first I thought that his political leftism  was the main issue - that along with his preference for girls a generation 'too young' for him.  These all had an influence on her low estimate of Chaplin.

But the main thing was his art, not his life:  it was repellent to her that Chaplin celebrated (or seemed to) the 'hero' as helpless victim,  not in charge of his fate but being buffeted about on the whims of circumstance, always reacting but not initiating action.  She didn't find his antics cute or even funny.  Not only did she dislike 'Modern Times' as an indictment of capitalism, she found his parody on Hitler in 'The Great Dictator' (after the 'little tramp' had been abandoned) unworthy of even a single smile.

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: The original version of my op-ed Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2001 15:28:07 -0600. I located the original version of my op-ed on the "Newsday" website.  As you can see, they published a longer version (e.g., they included the Jefferson quote) than what I previously posted from "The Oregonian." It was also given a different title.  (I had no idea that an op-ed might be further edited when picked up by another source.) Ghs http://thephilosophe.com

Atheists Tune in 'God Bless America' By George H. Smith

George H. Smith is the author of three books on atheism, including "Atheism: The Case Against God."

October 30, 2001. A TRAGEDY of the dimensions of Sept. 11 can bring a search for scapegoats in its wake.

On the political left we find some who blame the supposed evils of "global capitalism," while on the political right we find some who blame the godlessness of American society.

Although the particulars differ, both camps suggest that the victims were complicit, whether directly or indirectly, in their own destruction. And thus is any concept of authentic innocence swept aside.

The Cold War is a thing of the past, so the religious right can no longer target godless communism as the source of our woes. The terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 massacre were not atheists at all but religious fundamentalists of the most extreme type, so the blame is placed on domestic rather than on foreign godlessness.

If it is true that Americans put their differences aside in a time of crisis and rally around their common values, this might help to explain the recent proliferation of "God Bless America" signs and banners throughout America. It might be supposed that Americans are returning to those religious values on which this nation was founded.

There are several problems with this interpretation, however, not the least of which is that America was specifically established as a secular nation, not a religious one. There is no mention of "God" in the Constitution. And when Thomas Jefferson mentioned God in the Declaration of Independence, he was referring to the God of deism – that rationalistic creator, popular during the 18th-century Enlightenment, who did not communicate with human beings or otherwise intervene in human affairs.

Many of America's most influential founding fathers - such as Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine - were deists highly critical of Christianity and other revealed religions. Paine (whose pamphlet "Common Sense" was the sparkplug of the American Revolution) claimed that "the most detestable wickedness, and the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion." And Jefferson followed suit with his observation that the God of the Old Testament "is a being of terrific character - cruel, vindictive, capricious, and unjust."

Paine, Jefferson and other deists lamented the intolerance and persecution that were common features in the history of Christianity, Islam and other revealed religions. In their view, people who believe they have an infallible lock on divine revelation will often feel justified in using violence and terror against dissenters and unbelievers. Reason, not faith, is the philosophical foundation of a free and tolerant society.

Atheists are a distinct minority in our society, so we might wonder how American atheists react to the "God Bless America" signs, posters and banners that seem to have popped up everywhere. Do atheists feel excluded by this outpouring of religious sentiment? Do they feel they are being told that only those who believe in God can be good Americans?

I recently posed this latter question to a large group of atheists on the Internet, and their responses were nearly unanimous. Virtually no atheist felt in the least troubled or excluded by the public enthusiasm for "God Bless America" - so long, that is, as such expressions were by private citizens and not sponsored by government.

Although this reaction may surprise some people, it is identical to my own. For many people, "God Bless America" is not so much about religion per se; rather, it expresses a deep, heartfelt sentiment for American ideals and values, which were gravely threatened on Sept. 11.

Just as beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, so meaning lies in the intent of the speaker. And in most cases the sentimental intent of "God Bless America" is something with which I and most every other American atheist can heartily agree.

It so happens that "God Bless America" is the title of a beautiful and inspirational song by Irving Berlin, and this undoubtedly helps to explain why this expression tugs at the heartstrings of so many Americans. The song and its title have become part of American culture. Only the most jaded atheist could fail to appreciate what these have come to symbolize - namely, a tribute to this land and the best in those who inhabit it.

Some religious believers may take great pleasure in the exclusionary implications of "God Bless America," as if atheists are somehow less than legitimate members of American society. But for me tolerance and understanding are part of being an atheist, so I refuse to judge a belief on the basis of its worst representatives.

I will therefore continue to judge the recent popularity of "God Bless America" in the most benevolent light possible. I will take it for what I believe most Americans intend it to be: a tribute to the ideals of freedom and tolerance on which America was founded.

Copyright © 2001, Newsday, Inc.

"I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details. Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man, made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius that they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window - no, I don't feel how small I am - but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would like to throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body." - Ayn Rand, "The Fountainhead."

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Reply to Jeff Olson, Part Two (was Locke's Lament and Other Imponderables [from JeffO]) Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 05:24:20 -0600

[This is a continuation of my first response to Jeff Olson. I have duplicated some quotations in the beginning to set the context.]

Jeff wrote: "This idea distills to the proposition that given a particular possible state of knowledge (a state of knowledge *logically* possible, unlike "omniscience"), one could know with certainty how any being will act in the future, without any logical implication whatever of "fate" or "control" attending this knowledge. If my argument is correct, then "Locke's Lament" -- that foreknowledge of the type God must possess is compatible with fate but not freely chosen actions -- is resolved."

Good luck, but I would caution against bringing theological arguments into this, for they are a different ball of wax altogether.

Jeff wrote: "My proposition is principally derived from the thought-experiment of traveling back in time and observing a repeat of documented past behavior. Regardless of how theoretically free or unfree past behavior is, we will still know exactly how people's actions and other events are going to unfold. A central point is that our knowledge has zero influence over anyone's actions, and implies absolutely nothing about the freeness of these actions."

This thought-experiment is irrelevant, because (even assuming it is coherent) the actions you observe have *already* taken place. You know how events are going to unfold because they have previously happened. (It they haven't already happened, then ex hypothesi you have not traveled back in time.) You are observing history first-hand rather than reading about it in a book, but this doesn't change the principle involved, so this thought experiment doesn't help your case.

Jeff wrote: "The logical implication is that knowledge per se does not imply "fate," if by fate we mean that our actions are somehow compelled by foreknowledge."

This is not the customary meaning of "fate." In any case, we are talking about foreknowledge, not about the backwards-looking knowledge given in your thought experiment.

Jeff wrote: "The obvious objection, that this particular knowledge-perspective is unattainable since time-travel is generally presumed to be impossible, does not, I believe, vitiate the argument, which essentially depends on this hypothetical: Given that we found ourselves back in time, what would we be able to predict? Assuming free will, it seems we wouldn't be entitled to predict any human action with certainty, despite our historical knowledge; after all, free will volitionism holds that a person can *always* choose otherwise (through extension, we wouldn't be able to predict any event tied to human activity).

All of this depends on whether it is possible for your time traveler to intervene in what he observes and thereby change the past -- in which case it would be the present, not the past, for him and everyone else concerned. If he can, then the future actions of those who were influenced by his intervention will be unpredictable. If he cannot, then the time traveler is doing little more than watching a movie he has seen before and "predicting" the ending. More to the point would be to predict with certainty how a movie will end before it has even been thought of, much less written, produced, edited, etc.

I do happen to think that your scenario is logically impossible. I say "logically" because past events no longer exist -- if they did, they would be present events and you would not be engaged in time travel at all -- so there is literally *nothing* to "travel" TO. But, as I have indicated, an equally serious objection to your scenario is that it is beside the point. Knowledge of the past is not analogous to foreknowledge of the future. Past events are historical facts that have already occurred, whereas future events have not yet happened.

Jeff wrote: "If George or other "free will volitionists" believe that we can in fact predict behavior given our historical knowledge -- then I would be curious about how they would reconcile this belief with free will. For acknowledging that such individuals would be incapable of changing their historical actions would be tantamount to conceding that human behavior is absolutely determined, and that the only difference between past and future actions is that we have more complete knowledge of the former."

As I said, past actions, by definition, have already occurred. They no longer exist, so there is no "there" there to change.

Jeff wrote: "But these events have already happened!" I can hear some of your protest. "They're already facts!"

You must be clairvoyant. 8-)

Jeff wrote: "But is the future any less of a "fact," simply because we don't have complete knowledge of it? Is not a claim about the future either true or false, and thus a fact?"

No, the future is not a "fact" because it has not yet happened. Predictions of future events, such as those an astronomer might make about planetary motions, are hypothetical in character. They implicitly assume the form, "If (or given) X, then Y should occur." The "should" is not normative in the usual sense. It refers to a deterministic outcome that presupposes the accuracy of one's present knowledge on which the prediction is based. This is the predictive "if-then" kind of "should" that I discussed in some previous posts -- one that is sometimes expressed as "If (or given) X, then Y *will* (or must) follow as a matter of causal necessity."

Even in physically determined outcomes, we don't have knowledge of future "facts" per se, because no such facts yet exist of which we can have knowledge. Rather, we have knowledge of initial conditions and causal laws from which we *infer* future events. Thus, strictly speaking, what we know is not the future qua fact, but what *should* or *must* occur in the future, given our premises and knowledge of causation.

Jeff wrote: "Consider the implications if the future is indeed a fact. First, if future events are in fact facts, this doesn't demonstrate, given the correctness of my above argument, that the actors in those events are in any meaningful sense being compelled or otherwise constrained. We may specify any degree or definition of free action, but once the action has occurred, it is undeniable fact. By extension, any action that *will* occur, is also a fact. Therefore, if future events are facts, either freedom is an illusion -- or freedom is itself inapplicable to the actions of conscious beings."

Yes, this would follow if the future were a fact, but it is not. A fact refers to that which exists or has existed. The future does not yet exist. If it did, it would be the present or the past, not the future.

Jeff wrote: "For it is truly a fact that all beings, insofar as they are alive, must do *something.* Freedom of action is irrelevant to that fact. We are not compelled, then, to take whatever action we take; it is simply a fact, on this account, that we do or do not take it. Freedom has no application, I would argue, to such events; they are simply factual or non-factual."

Only that which exists or has existed can be a fact. Predictions are possible or impossible, accurate or inaccurate, reasonable or unreasonable, etc. Exact predictions of physically determined events are possible; exact predictions of human action are not.

I need to take a deep breath before writing any more about this. Ghs

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Aristotle's sea-fight (was Locke's Lament and Other Imponderables) Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 12:45:38 -0600

[This is the third and concluding part of my reply to Jeff Olson's original post.]

Jeff Olson wrote: "Aristotle wrestled with the question, and apparently decided, Solomon-like, that predictions of future events are *neither* true nor false. But then rumor has it that he was drinking heavily at the time."

This problem arises in Aristotle's famous discussion of the sea-fight, which appears in Ch.9 of *On Interpretation.* Here is his summary:

"Let me illustrate. A sea-fight must either take place tomorrow or not, but it is not necessary that it should take place tomorrow, neither is it necessary that it should not take place, yet it is necessary that it either should or should not take place tomorrow. Since propositions correspond with facts, it is evident that when in future events there is a real alternative, and a potentiality in contrary directions, the corresponding affirmation and denial have the same character." (Trans. E.M. Edghill, in McKeon, *Basic Works of Aristotle,* p. 48).

Aristotle's purpose is to rebut the argument (which may have been proposed by some sophists) that (1) since one of a pair of contradictory statements must be true, and (2) since this rule of logic holds for contradictory statements about the future, it follows that (3) if a statement about a (supposedly) contingent future event (i.e., one that involves deliberation and choice) can be said to be true, then that event must *necessarily* come about. For if it is true to say *now* that a sea-fight will occur tomorrow, then a sea-fight *must* occur tomorrow.

Parts of Aristotle's treatment are not as clear or fully developed as one would like (which may be because many of his extant writings are lecture notes rather than polished pieces), but his basic point is clear enough. Although the strong (or exclusive) disjunctive proposition "A sea-fight will occur tomorrow, or a sea-fight will not occur tomorrow" is necessarily true, it does not follow from this that *either* part is *necessarily* true. Again quoting Aristotle:

"One of the two propositions in such instances must be true and the other false, but we cannot say determinately that this or that is false, but must leave the alternative undecided. One may indeed be more likely to be true than the other, but it cannot be either actually true or actually false" (p. 48).

Jeff wrote: "By extension, any action that *will* occur, is also a fact. Therefore, if future events are facts, either freedom is an illusion -- or freedom is itself inapplicable to the actions of conscious beings."

I covered this before. Future events are not "facts."

Jeff wrote: "For it is truly a fact that all beings, insofar as they are alive, must do *something.* Freedom of action is irrelevant to that fact. We are not compelled, then, to take whatever action we take; it is simply a fact, on this account, that we do or do not take it. Freedom has no application, I would argue, to such events; they are simply factual or non-factual."

To describe an event as a "fact" is not to compel or necessitate that event, since a "fact" refers to that which is taking place (the present) or has taken place (the past).

Let us examine more closely what it means to speak of predictions of contingent human events as either true or false. Consider the statement, "George W. Bush will vote for himself in the next presidential election." This has two primary meanings -- one epistemological, the other metaphysical.

Epistemologically, there is a sense in which we can say that the prediction "President Bush will vote for himself in the next election" is true. What we mean by this is not that this prediction will necessarily come to pass -- for there are a number of contingent circumstances, such as his possible decision not to run again, that may occur -- but that the cognitive basis on which we make this prediction is accurate and well-grounded. In this case, the "fact" to which the true proposition corresponds is our state of knowledge at the *present* time. We are saying, in effect: "It is true to say, given our present knowledge and barring any unforeseen circumstances, that this event has a high probability of occurring."

Metaphysically, however, we cannot say that the same prediction is "true," for the future event which it predicts does not yet exist, so there is no "fact" to which the proposition can possibly correspond. In this case, the statement "President Bush will vote for himself" will become true only at the point when Bush actually votes for himself, if this should happen..

Similarly, if I say, "The sun will rise tomorrow," I am not *describing* a metaphysical fact; I am *predicting* a fact that I believe will occur in the future. In this metaphysical sense there is no difference between necessary facts and the contingent facts of human action. The difference arises on the epistemological level. Given our deterministic presuppositions about nature, we believe that we have adequate cognitive grounds to make accurate and *precise* predictions about future physical events. In this sphere, as Aristotle puts it, "there are no real alternatives; everything takes place of necessity and is fixed" (p.46).

But, lacking causal necessity, this kind of precise prediction is not possible about contingent human actions. As Aristotle said about human actions:

"[W]e see that both deliberation and action are causative with regard to the future, and that, to speak more generally, in those things which are not continuously actual, there is potentiality in either direction. Such things may either be or not be; events also therefore may take place or not take place. There are many obvious instances of this" (p. 47}.

Jeff wrote: "To conclude these recondite reflections, I'd say we face a basic choice: either events, including human action, are not fluid, but happen because they must happen -- and will always happen under identical circumstances -- or both future and past events are truly in flux, never absolutely resolving in singular events (except from a limited knowledge perspective). Stated more concretely, if we cannot state facts about the future, then we cannot state facts about the past."

This confusion between past facts and future "facts" that don't yet exist, but which may or may not come to be in the sphere of contingent human actions, has resulted here in a good deal of misunderstanding.

Jeff wrote: "The difference between past and future events is not, I'm arguing, a matter of fact, but of knowledge. Their *factual* status must be, if we're logically consistent, identical. My assertion that my orange tree will bear fruit next fall is just as much a fact or non-fact as my assertion that Vesuvius exploded in 70 A.D. Ditto for future human actions. It is either a fact or a non-fact that I will have authored a bestseller by January 2004. I just have to wait till then to see if it's true, dammit."

I think I have already addressed these points adequately. There are serious ambiguities here that need to be clarified. Ghs

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I just skimmed your posts, Peter... definitely going to read them all soon. There is definitely some relevance and they seem interesting at the least.

Thanks.

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19 hours ago, Peter said:

 

 

Hume's two problems of induction -- the logical problem and the psychological problem -- can best be presented, I think, against the background of the commonsense theory of induction. This theory is very simple. Since all knowledge is supposed to be the result of past observation, so especially is all expectational knowledge such as that the sun will rise tomorrow, or that all men are bound to die, or that bread nourishes. All this has to be the result of past observation.

 

It is to Hume's undying credit that he dared to challenge the commonsense view of induction, even though he never doubted that it must be largely true. He believed that induction by repetition was logically untenable - that rationally, or logically, no amount of observed instances can have the slightest bearing upon unobserved instances. This is Hume's negative solution of the problem of induction, a solution which I fully endorse.

 

But Hume held, at the same time, that although induction was rationally invalid, it was a psychological fact, and that we all rely on it.

 

Thus Hume's two problems of induction were:

 

(1) The logical problem: Are we rationally justified in reasoning from repeated instances of which we have had experience to instances of which we have had no experience?

 

Hume's unrelenting answer was: No, we are not justified, however great the number of repetitions may be. And he added that it did not make the slightest difference if, in this problem, we ask for the justification not of certain belief, but of probable belief. Instances of which we have had experience do not allow us to reason or argue about the probability of instances of which we have had no experience, any more than to the certainty of such instances.

 

(2) The following psychological question: How is it that nevertheless all reasonable people expect and believe that instances of which they have had no experience will conform to those of which they have had experience? Or in other words, why do we all have expectations, and why do we hold on to them with such great confidence, or such strong belief?

 

Hume's answer to this psychological problem of induction was: Because of 'custom or habit'; or in other words, because of the irrational but irresistible power of the law of association. We are conditioned by repetition; a conditioning mechanism without which, Hume says, we could hardly survive.

 

My own view is that Hume's answer to the logical problem is right and that his answer to the psychological problem is, in spite of its persuasiveness, quite mistaken.

Popper half agrees and half disagrees with Hume. The initial problem with the "problem" is splitting induction into logical and psychological, I conjecture. There is unity of mind, not two competing ones. There is a single 'reality'.

Take falling objects. One induces that an unsupported object 'falls', by repeated observation (until it becomes automatized - the "psychological") - NOW can one safely deduce that the same will happen next time?

Not so fast: one must "wait and see". Maybe it will, maybe not.

If one's senses are one's first and primary contact with reality, it's induction which provides our first and primary identifications. Without it mankind is lost, conceptual knowledge is impossible and existence is random happenstance. We would never have emerged from caves and would have perished.

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11 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

I just skimmed your posts, Peter... definitely going to read them all soon. There is definitely some relevance and they seem interesting at the least.

Thanks.

Agreed, searching stuff which needs slow digestion. Anyone heard from Ghs (and Roger B)?

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

Take falling objects. One induces that an unsupported object 'falls', by repeated observation (until it becomes automatized - the "psychological") - NOW can one safely deduce that the same will happen next time?

Not so fast: one must "wait and see". Maybe it will, maybe not.

If one's senses are one's first and primary contact with reality, it's induction which provides our first and primary identifications. Without it mankind is lost, conceptual knowledge is impossible and existence is random happenstance. We would never have emerged from caves and would have perished.

 

I agree that separating the psychological from the logical seems arbitrary. What is knowledge without psychology? What is reality without life (there is an "aliveness" to reality itself)? In theory you can separate these things, but only if your theory is NOT grounded in reality.

 

We induce information and we'd fall apart, psychologically, if we didn't. The theoretical validity to this induced information is supported psychologically by the fact that our entire existence correlates with this information. We trust our senses because they are there, we trust our memories (to a degree) because they correlate with everything we are experiencing in the moment, and from this we have a huge canvas to theorize and a testing ground for those theories. Not only does this moment exist, but so does the past and future. You say we'd be in caves if we didn't understand this, I think we'd be debilitated by insanity.

 

What I understand from Karl Popper is that induction can ONLY falsify information, it cannot provide positive information outside of "approximations." I've read some Objectivist (or at least Randian leaning) defense of the senses, with the memorable argument that our senses do not CREATE anything... they RECEIVE information. That information is OBJECTIVE, as well as the physiological process of capturing that information. Our interpretation, in our mind, is subjective, but that does not change the fact that we are experiencing reality through our senses.

 

To me the dilemma is all about when to use induction vs deduction. In your example you induce a theory of gravity, then deduce that an object will fall. Are you arguing for one or the other? No, you're arguing for the appropriate starting point (reality). What I understand from most epistemological theories is that they start in a theoretical pre-reality, as if there is more certainty there than here...

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22 hours ago, Peter said:

To put the same point in Randian terms, feelings are not a primary.) Ghs

What about the dissatisfaction that led to the deliberation (investigation)?


Feelings are the primary because being human is the primary and before we think we are human.

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5 hours ago, anthony said:

Anyone heard from Ghs (and Roger B)?

I looked up their last activities on OL. Ghs 2018. Roger 2019. I think I did research Roger's old letters and sent them to him around the early part of 2020. Hopefully, they are both working on new books and articles. Peter

edit. I last communicated with Roger in October 2019.

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3 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

 

 

 

To me the dilemma is all about when to use induction vs deduction. In your example you induce a theory of gravity, then deduce that an object will fall. Are you arguing for one or the other? No, you're arguing for the appropriate starting point (reality). What I understand from most epistemological theories is that they start in a theoretical pre-reality, as if there is more certainty there than here...

Well not quite. You don't induce "a theory of gravity", that had to wait for Newton - or your education in his theory (top down). What you induce is gravity's preliminary, one might call "weightiness". The early inductive experience we'd have is of holding toys and falling on our bums as a child, or earlier the pressure of our bodies lying in a crib. Along the way you induce the different weights of specific objects and can deduce they will unfailingly have the same weight (need an identical effort to lift) tomorrow as today. They continue "falling" as well. With induction and the deduced reliability of weightiness and falling, men could erect a building and simple machines, and do many things long before Newton.

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“Two points of view” as this thread suggests or is it two or more ways of viewing? We who read OL respond in different ways, though we may “think alike” and share values. Peter

To Atlantis, AchillesRB Thinking styles (was ATL: Psycho-epistemology) Fri 4/7/2000 6:21 AM. On April 4, Barbara Branden wrote: I've said I'll have nothing more to say on the subject of the Objectivist ethics. But I should like to suggest something on another subject entirely. I think that some of the differences among members of Atlantis are less philosophical than they are psycho-epistemological. I've been observing very different ways of dealing with ideas, of going from idea A to B to Z. don't at the moment see how to resolve this discrepancy, but I think it's worth looking into. But not by me. I have a book to write. (I am adding, end quote)

I agree completely with Barbara that some of our most significant differences have to do with the manner in which our minds work, rather than with the conclusions we reach. She and Ayn Rand have referred to this as "psycho-epistemology." In personality type theory, it is sometimes referred to as "thinking styles." I wrote some on this to Objectivism-L and another list a couple of years ago, and I am reposting some of that material here now just to put some flesh on the issue that neither Barbara nor I have enough time to do full justice right now. Comments are welcome! Best to all, Roger Bissell

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3 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

What about the dissatisfaction that led to the deliberation (investigation)?


Feelings are the primary because being human is the primary and before we think we are human.

Heh, a regular argument. Are we human because we think or because we feel?

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42 minutes ago, anthony said:

Heh, a regular argument. Are we human because we think or because we feel?

Tony,

There is no way to boil the whole down to one part. The whole is the sum of the parts plus that extra something called emergence (from a bottom-up or efficient causation lens) or essence (from a top down or final causation lens).

It's like asking, are we alive because we have a heart or a liver?

Is a skyscraper a skyscraper because of steel or concrete?

Is the universe made primarily of matter or energy?

Is the Randian definition of man rational or animal?

Wholes exist. Parts exist, too.

🙂 

Is A A because of existence or the letter itself?

(I couldn't resist that one. 🙂 )

Michael

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1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

There is no way to boil the whole down to one part. The whole is the sum of the parts plus that extra something called emergence (from a bottom-up or efficient causation lens) or essence (from a top down or final causation lens).

It's like asking, are we alive because we have a heart or a liver?

Is a skyscraper a skyscraper because of steel or concrete?

Is the universe made primarily of matter or energy?

Is the Randian definition of man rational or animal?

Wholes exist. Parts exist, too.

🙂 

Is A A because of existence or the letter itself?

(I couldn't resist that one. 🙂 )

Michael

Right okay, Michael. But the exclusive property humans have, which sets them apart, is the capability of rational thinking. [Time to cue my dogs]. Dogs have feelings too, you know...

Which indicates they 'experience' values and dis-values - of a sort. You see how lonely domesticated animals can be without human company? And many other indicators of simple emotions.

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35 minutes ago, anthony said:

Right okay, Michael. But the exclusive property humans have, which sets them apart, is the capability of rational thinking. [Time to cue my dogs]. Dogs have feelings too, you know...

Which indicates they 'experience' values and dis-values - of a sort. You see how lonely domesticated animals can be without human company? And many other indicators of simple emotions.

Anthony.

Sure.

According to Rand's form of definition:

Rational = differentia
Animal (emotions) = genus

Notice that emotions come from the broader category, therefore they are more foundational than rationality. This means that, biologically, rationality builds on top of them, not the contrary.

Do you think humans can exist without emotions? Humans are animals, right?

Or are humans rational rationals with feet?

🙂

Besides, what do you call a human being in a coma? Nonhuman?

What do your eyes tell you?

Michael

 

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4 hours ago, anthony said:

Heh, a regular argument. Are we human because we think or because we feel?

We are human because we are human. Is a table a table because it has a top and legs, or is it a table because someone built it? We are human because we were born... we think because we have a brain that feeds us sensory information and emotions... We can't explore unless we have something to explore.

 

Edit: Michael's answer is better. We were animals before we were human.

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5 hours ago, Peter said:

I agree completely with Barbara that some of our most significant differences have to do with the manner in which our minds work, rather than with the conclusions we reach. She and Ayn Rand have referred to this as "psycho-epistemology." In personality type theory, it is sometimes referred to as "thinking styles." I wrote some on this to Objectivism-L and another list a couple of years ago, and I am reposting some of that material here now just to put some flesh on the issue that neither Barbara nor I have enough time to do full justice right now. Comments are welcome! Best to all, Roger Bissell

I've definitely thought of the personality types that psychologists reference as an alternative way to look at this issue of not being able to communicate effectively to the "other side." Maybe it's a better way of looking at things? I don't know.

 

But I do see one side as preferring top-down control and another side preferring bottom-up empowerment as important... and there may be some useful generalization that can explain the key difference in how these conclusions are drawn.

 

One thing I have thought of is sensitivity. Because I think information is quite binary, in a way, for humans. Like Rand saying the ultimate choice is to think or not to think... It's sort of going into the unknown vs averting the unknown. We may all have different sensitivities to different categories of information where in some cases people prefer aversion and in other cases they are more willing to explore.

 

Edit: Oh.. I forgot to say something about the "story" theory of Michael's (which I'm sure is a well known theory, but he brought it up in this thread). Is it that a good story can influence a person's beliefs, and some people have heard one story and others have heard a different story? Or is it that there are types of people who are drawn to one story over another? Does one story resonate more with different, say, personality types?

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3 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Anthony.

Sure.

According to Rand's form of definition:

Rational = differentia
Animal (emotions) = genus

Notice that emotions come from the broader category, therefore they are more foundational than rationality. This means that, biologically, rationality builds on top of them, not the contrary.

Do you think humans can exist without emotions? Humans are animals, right?

Or are humans rational rationals with feet?

🙂

Besides, what do you call a human being in a coma? Nonhuman?

What do your eyes tell you?

Michael

 

How could I ever imply or say that humans can exist without emotions? The number of times I've asserted how important are one's emotions....

Well you brought up emergent properties, and there's no argument we are biological, and as I point out animals have emotions too. Rand delineates the same process without calling man's consciousness "emergent". She might well have meant that. Nobody doubts that humans emerged from the animal kingdom, it can be deduced (even in the absence of the theory of evolution). We came from *some* naturalist lineage, not landed here from spaceships. .

The "pleasure-pain mechanism" which Rand describes as the base of human emotions is obviously common to animals and mankind and one supposes insects too. Rand knew as much and I think I recall she affirmed the fact.

So of course emotions are more biologically fundamental! But what makes man exclusively man, is his rationality, not his emotional ability. 

(btw, being a "rational animal" is ~an identification~ of the human species, it denotes the capacity not necessarily the activity. It definitely does not mean every person alive diligently practices reason and rationality (that takes care of a human being in a coma. He remains human and "rational animal").

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2 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

We are human because we are human. Is a table a table because it has a top and legs, or is it a table because someone built it? We are human because we were born... we think because we have a brain that feeds us sensory information and emotions... We can't explore unless we have something to explore.

 

Edit: Michael's answer is better. We were animals before we were human.

See my reply. We certainly weren't gods before we were human.

"A brain that feeds us... emotions" explains nothing about 'why' emotions, where from emotions, in response to what - are- emotions? Nor their value to mankind. That falls back on brain activity, not a mind. Actually this is reductionist.

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14 minutes ago, anthony said:

See my reply. We certainly weren't gods "before we were human".

"A brain that feeds us... emotions" explains nothing about 'why' emotions, where from emotions, in response to what - are- emotions? Nor their value to mankind. It falls back on brain activity, not a mind. Actually this is reductionist.

I don't understand. We do not think up our emotions, they happen and we respond. Our patterns of behavior can change our experiences and in turn change our emotions over time... this doesn't change the fact that the first thought came from an emotional creature. Their value to mankind is the same value they have to every other animal that experiences them... it has helped proliferate the species.

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1 hour ago, Dglgmut said:

I don't understand. We do not think up our emotions, they happen and we respond. Our patterns of behavior can change our experiences and in turn change our emotions over time... this doesn't change the fact that the first thought came from an emotional creature. Their value to mankind is the same value they have to every other animal that experiences them... it has helped proliferate the species.

Emotions don't just arrive or happen, causelessly. And we don't respond, initially they are responsive to us. I put it to you that we actually do think up our emotions, in a sense. You've "thought up" your value system, consciously: this is good for me, this is not. This is, or leads to, pleasure, or pain: I admire that, I dislike this, I love her. With every identification of an existent follows a value-judgment.  What those value-judgments have done is faithfully and automatically been recorded in your subconscious mind, so that whenever a certain situation arises you get instant emotional feed-back. Before even thinking about it in that moment, you feel an immediate emotion appropriate to the situation, person, circumstance - and to your previous assessment - and then you may be impelled to quickly react or not. Their fast response is what gives us the idea they are insights which come from nowhere, or are a primary identifier, above rationality. That's why humans can experience an enormous range of emotions which animals can't, many of them subtle, basically rewarding them or warning them. Joy, pity, sadness, guilt, fear and many grades of lesser ones, e.g. embarrassment, humiliation. You were instrumental in implanting them. The more one "knows" (and judges) the more one "cares", in a nutshell. An afterthought; it must be emphasized that a specific type of emotion is not necessarily 'correct' or 'moral'. That depends on how accurate and rational was one's prior identification and value-judgment.

I can't put this as succinctly as Rand, Dg. I suggest you look up her original theory online in the Lexicon (From VoS).

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

But what makes man exclusively man, is his rationality, not his emotional ability. 

Tony,

This is what is wrong with the formulation. It's a false dichotomy. It is not either or. What makes man exclusively man (in this context) is his rationality PLUS his emotional faculty.

Rationality does not exist without the emotional faculty. Except maybe in a ghost. Or on Star Trek. 🙂 

I can agree that emotions cannot be used for rational functions like math or syllogisms. Rand often said this as "emotions are not tools of cognition" which is not entirely true, but I think she meant it in the spirit I mentioned. And I can agree that, as a shortcut for thinking, we can consider rationality separate from emotions. Sort of like looking at one facet of a gem stone. (Notice, you can look at a facet, but you cannot remove it from the stone.) In thinking metaphysically, there is no way to say that rationality alone is what "makes man exclusively man."

I refuse to imply that rationality is more human than emotions are. Metaphysically, you need both for humans to exist. A human cannot exist without being rational and an animal.

Conceptually, I refuse to have a differentia without a genus as a definition, which is exactly what the phrase "what makes man exclusively man, is his rationality, not his emotional ability" implies. Man cannot be a rational plant like a tree.

Your formulation makes the genus and differentia equals where one can choose one and not the other and still have the whole. They are not equals. They exist hierarchically. 

Also, you didn't answer the question of whether a person in a coma is a human being.

Michael

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