# The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics

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My own understanding is space is distance between at least two objects and traveling through space is reducing the distance because you are one of the objects.

--Brant

My understanding of 'space-time' as opposed to 'space' and 'time' is this; The idea of absolute space and time means a universe in which one can set up a cartesian coordinate system with an origin and project the axis to indefinitely in all directions in absolute straight lines. In this system objects move according to some absolute time reference and all motion can be described by measurements relative to the absolute static coordinate system. This is not the universe we live in. There is no such thing as a straight line extended indefinitely as 'straight' loses meaning in the vastness of the universe. We know that even light bends and so it is impossible for anything to travel in a straight line. If this was possible we should eventually reach a boundary of some sort, assuming the universe is not infinite in size, and then the question immediately arises - what is on the other side of this boundary? In a 4-dimensional space-time continuum one can travel forever and never reach a boundary and yet the universe can be finite in size.

I don't really understand this, GS, but how about light coming from the source--is this bent except by gravity?

--Brant

I believe you are asking me if light would travel in a straight line indefinitely if there was no material things in the universe? I suppose that might be true, in the same sense that an object would travel forever if there was absolutely no friction. But think of this; when you look at an extremely distant object, billions of lightyears away, whose to say exactly "where" that object is "right now". For all we know it could actually be behind you and the light could have bent in a full circle. We are not "seeing objects", we are seeing light.

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Is anyone really going to seriously propose that scientists must engage in "philosophic reasoning" in order to define the terms "mind" and "brain"!?

Daniel,

I will.

You are imagining a the body of human knowledge where philosophy can be excluded and there will be science left. Or where science can be excluded and there will be philosophy left. So one has to govern over the other.

In my understanding of knowledge, there cannot be one without the other.

Your position comes off to me as arguing over which side governs the shape, the top or the bottom, and deriding the bottom for not being the top.

You mentioned dictionaries. There's plenty of philosophy underpinning linguistics. If you don't have principles on how to make definitions, you don't have dictionaries. Philosophy provides those principles. So I see the same error in trying to replace philosophy with dictionaries for scientists.

This reminds me a bit of the old joke about the two polite twins who killed their mother as they were being born.

Twin A: "After you."

Twin B: No, after you."

Twin A: No, after you."

Twin B: No, after you."

And the problem is that both have to go through the same hole. So they killed their mother insisting on staying stuck until the other went.

Try to imagine a la-la land where the progress of human knowledge exists with only science or only philosophy. It's about the same. You kill human knowledge... at least as we know it...

Michael

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My own understanding is space is distance between at least two objects and traveling through space is reducing the distance because you are one of the objects.

--Brant

My understanding of 'space-time' as opposed to 'space' and 'time' is this; The idea of absolute space and time means a universe in which one can set up a cartesian coordinate system with an origin and project the axis to indefinitely in all directions in absolute straight lines. In this system objects move according to some absolute time reference and all motion can be described by measurements relative to the absolute static coordinate system. This is not the universe we live in. There is no such thing as a straight line extended indefinitely as 'straight' loses meaning in the vastness of the universe. We know that even light bends and so it is impossible for anything to travel in a straight line. If this was possible we should eventually reach a boundary of some sort, assuming the universe is not infinite in size, and then the question immediately arises - what is on the other side of this boundary? In a 4-dimensional space-time continuum one can travel forever and never reach a boundary and yet the universe can be finite in size.

I don't really understand this, GS, but how about light coming from the source--is this bent except by gravity?

--Brant

I believe you are asking me if light would travel in a straight line indefinitely if there was no material things in the universe? I suppose that might be true, in the same sense that an object would travel forever if there was absolutely no friction. But think of this; when you look at an extremely distant object, billions of lightyears away, whose to say exactly "where" that object is "right now". For all we know it could actually be behind you and the light could have bent in a full circle. We are not "seeing objects", we are seeing light.

Now you're giving light some of the properties of a string.

--Brant

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I have two questions:

First, what difference, if any, is there between these two statements?

1) Space is curved.

2) Light travels a curved path through space.

It isn't quite that simple. We can only speak about light traveling a curved path through space if space is globally euclidean and there is only a local disturbance that causes the light path to deviate from the global pattern of straight lines (in the euclidean sense). Example: the deviation of the light of a star that is visually close to the sun. We don't see a curved light line, but we conclude that there is a deviation from straightness by comparing the relative position of that star when the sun is visually close to that star (which is only visible during a total eclipse) with its position when the sun is farther removed from the star. However, when space is globally curved (assume for simplicity with a homogeneous curvature), it's no longer trivial to conclude that light is "bent" (doesn't follow straight lines in the euclidean sense), as all light rays in such a space will look straight to any observer in that space. How do we in practice determine whether something (a ruler for example) is straight? By comparing the line of its edge with a light ray, so we would gauge the trajectory of a light ray with a ruler that was gauged by a similar light ray. What would seem to be straight lines in such a space are in fact geodesics that are not straight in the euclidean sense. Nevertheless we can measure the intrinsic curvature of such a space by measuring the Riemann tensor or the sum of the angles of a triangle (measured by light rays, what else?).

Second, does the notion of "spacetime" include anything significant beyond saying that space and time are not independent variables?

Anything significant? Well, this notion that space and time are not independent variables amounts to the special theory of relativity. It's a fairly simple theory (in contrast to the general theory with its messy tensor calculations), but it has had an earthshattering impact: it turns out that simultaneity is a relative notion, that time is not absolute, but different for different moving inertial frames with the twin paradox as consequence, that mass is equivalent with energy, to name a few consequences. I'd say that this was rather significant, yes.

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Later, I'll quote the introduction [to Einstein's 1905 "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies"] and explain why AR is misunderstanding it.

I opened a reference thread, "Einstein Method, Rand Misunderstanding," where I posted the passage from ITOE and two English translations of the Einstein paper, one a frequently used translation published in 1923, the other, published in 1989, from the official "Collected Papers."

Ellen

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No. The definition you gave there presumes an answer to an hypothesis, an answer which at the current time seems to be false.

Oh, ok. Um, obviously if you introduce a testable hypothesis as part, or all, of a definition of a concept, then that concept becomes partly, or fully, falsifiable. Do you think I ever have argued, or ever would argue, otherwise?

What I can't understand, however, is why you seem to be offering this as a defense of Rand's doctrine, as AFAIK this distinction appears nowhere in her theoretical writings, nor her apparent attempts to practically apply her doctrine - for example, concepts like "selfishness" or "sacrifice", which contain nothing like an answer to a testable hypothesis such as in your "gravity" example. So it seems reasonable to assume she was entirely unaware of the only thing that might make her doctrine viable.

So her theory can really only be considered right in the broken-clock-being-right-twice-a-day sense.

You seemed to be defending Rand's doctrine against my criticisms, but now I'm not even sure what your disagreement is with me.

Or perhaps you are not defending Rand's doctrine - or even disagreeing with me?

PS: Your puppy problem is an invented problem and doesn't address the issue of correct definitions of concepts, as has been tiresomely gone over.

Yes I am regretting that almost no-one seems to have got the point of this, which was: if it turns out there is no actual mechanism for resolving an absurdly obvious difference in opinion over meaning, other than mutual agreement, then what hope is there for less obvious differences, such as the different shades of meaning of "democracy", or "freedom"? (Rand's vague, handwaving proposal in the ITOE that "logic" will resolve such disagreements seems untenable). The "puppy" thing was an invented example to, I thought, throw the problem into sharp relief.

Clearly it didn't work for many, however....;-) I will have to try something different.

Edited by Daniel Barnes
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Is anyone really going to seriously propose that scientists must engage in "philosophic reasoning" in order to define the terms "mind" and "brain"!? That philosophy is somehow going to "tell them" what these terms mean?

Are those poor, verbally deprived scientists not in possession of a dictionary?

Your caricatures of Rand remind me very much of how orthodox Objectivists treat Kant. The targets are different, but the juvenile antics are the same.

Think about what she's saying here.

Good idea. You obviously haven't.

I do admit that the idea that the philosophers' job might be philosophy is a typically reckless leap on my part...;-)

Are you aware that there is a discipline called the philosophy of science? What do you suppose philosophers (including many scientists) discuss in that field? Here's a hint: They rarely consult dictionaries to resolve problems about the meanings of basic terms.

Ghs

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However, definitions *of concepts* are not "conventions in the use of language," and the definition of a *concept* can be wrong. The difference between a concept and the word used to label it seems perpetually to elude several posters here.

This surprises me, as it's a rather obvious distinction. However, I can understand the confusion in Objectivism due to Rand's sudden outbreak of nominalism on the subject of "labels" in the otherwise essentialist ITOE (As no clear explanation is given as to how this fits with the rest of her exposition, I put this down to her usual disregard for consistency).

In what alternate universe would Rand's treatment of words (as "a symbol that denotes a concept," with the exception of proper names) qualify as nominalistic?

Moreover, it is misleading to call the theory of concepts in ITOE "essentialist." A more accurate label, if we use standard philosophical nomenclature, is "conceptualist." "Essentialism" is usually associated with extreme or moderate realism, and Rand defended neither of these.

I put your errors down to your resolve to portray anything Rand said in worst possible light.

Ghs

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Your caricatures of Rand remind me very much of how orthodox Objectivists treat Kant. The targets are different, but the juvenile antics are the same.

Well, if it's an unfair caricature, perhaps you could offer a corrective? Can you show specifically how Objectivist philosophic reasoning would help working scientists to better know what they mean by the terms "mind" and "brain"?

Edited by Daniel Barnes
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Did anyone say... er... Popper?

(I thought I heard something...)

Michael

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This notion that philosophy does not rely on scientific discovery is poorly defined and in effect artificial and arbitrary.

Yes. Why wouldn't both science and philosophy benefit from mutual criticism?

And consider: what might this folly accomplish?

Don't sign me up too quickly as an ally.

I would be very surprised if Rand ever defended the position that you attribute to her. I think you will find that Rand speaks of the role of philosophy in science, not of the role of philosophers per se. Scientists can, and often do, engage in philosophic reasoning. This is not a matter of professional philosophers telling scientists what their basic terms mean.

Thanks, Ellen, for providing the quote. Let's look at a key section:

Prof. B: I'd like to apply this to the "mind-brain" issue—that is, what is the relation of conscious activity to brain activity? That would be a scientific question.

AR: Yes.

Prof. B: With certain provisos from philosophy, such as that consciousness is causally efficacious and that free will is possible.

AR: Philosophy would have to define the terms of that question. In asking what's the relationship between "mind" and "brain," scientists have to know what they mean by the two concepts. It's philosophy that would have to tell them the [general] definitions of those concepts. But then actually to find the specific relationship, that's a scientific question.

Is anyone really going to seriously propose that scientists must engage in "philosophic reasoning" in order to define the terms "mind" and "brain"!? That philosophy is somehow going to "tell them" what these terms mean?

Are those poor, verbally deprived scientists not in possession of a dictionary?

Where, Daniel, do you think those dictionary definitions grow, on trees?

Neither philosophers nor scientists can ignore the conclusions of the other. John Searle gives quite valid philosophical criticisms of AI theorists who think that the question of mind is one simply of programming and processing power. That consciousness is not an entity, but a relation between entities, is a philosophical conclusion that neither requires detailed neurophysiological knowledge nor can be ignored by cognitive scientists. Indeed, 99% of the AI program is barking up the wrong trees. Those who eventually point us in the right directions (D'Amasio, Jeff Hawkins, Merlin Donald) may not be philosophers, but they will have at least implicitly accepted much of the right philosophy, which came from somewhere. Those who point us in the wrong direction (Penrose, Kurzweil) will do so in large part because they implicitly accept the wrong philosophy (materialism) or explicitly substitute number crunching power for its use altogether.

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[Don't sign me up too quickly as an ally.

No danger of that.

Where, Daniel, do you think those dictionary definitions grow, on trees?

Where, Ted, do you think those dictionary definitions come from? Philosophers?

Neither philosophers nor scientists can ignore the conclusions of the other.

Yes. Roll over Ayn Rand and tell Lenny Peikoff the news.

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Where, Daniel, do you think those dictionary definitions grow, on trees?

Neither philosophers nor scientists can ignore the conclusions of the other. John Searle gives quite valid philosophical criticisms of AI theorists who think that the question of mind is one simply of programming and processing power. That consciousness is not an entity, but a relation between entities, is a philosophical conclusion that neither requires detailed neurophysiological knowledge nor can be ignored by cognitive scientists. Indeed, 99% of the AI program is barking up the wrong trees. Those who eventually point us in the right directions (D'Amasio, Jeff Hawkins, Merlin Donald) may not be philosophers, but they will have at least implicitly accepted much of the right philosophy, which came from somewhere. Those who point us in the wrong direction (Penrose, Kurzweil) will do so in large part because they implicitly accept the wrong philosophy (materialism) or explicitly substitute number crunching power for its use altogether.

Ted, thanks for bringing up Merlin Donald. I guess he's the next cognitive scientist I need to read.

Jim

Edited by James Heaps-Nelson
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Where, Daniel, do you think those dictionary definitions grow, on trees?

Neither philosophers nor scientists can ignore the conclusions of the other. John Searle gives quite valid philosophical criticisms of AI theorists who think that the question of mind is one simply of programming and processing power. That consciousness is not an entity, but a relation between entities, is a philosophical conclusion that neither requires detailed neurophysiological knowledge nor can be ignored by cognitive scientists. Indeed, 99% of the AI program is barking up the wrong trees. Those who eventually point us in the right directions (D'Amasio, Jeff Hawkins, Merlin Donald) may not be philosophers, but they will have at least implicitly accepted much of the right philosophy, which came from somewhere. Those who point us in the wrong direction (Penrose, Kurzweil) will do so in large part because they implicitly accept the wrong philosophy (materialism) or explicitly substitute number crunching power for its use altogether.

Ted, thanks for bringing up Merlin Donald. I guess he's the next cognitive scientist I need to read.

Jim

Merlin Donald has two most excellent books. (I learned of him from Oliver Sacks recommending him, I believe in Anthropologist from Mars.) They should be read in order. The first, Origins of the Modern Mind, provides his theory of the development of human intelligence in stages from the mammalian to primate to pre-linguistic to symbolic levels, with each stage shown as functional on its own level, yet able to expand into the next level. That is, his theory is full evolutionary, requiring no improbable saltations. The first book is anthropological in focus. The second, A Mind So Rare, deals with the same theory but in more depth, over a wider scope, and from a more individualistic focus. Here he criticizes others like Chomsky and Dawkins about whom he had remained silent, presenting only his own theories in his first book. (His criticisms of their notions confirm my own.) The second work presupposes your understanding of the first work. His language is rigorous but not jargon filled. I have not read one thing that I would criticize from the standpoint of a linguist, a biologist, or an Objectivist. I only wish he had more published work.

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No. The definition you gave there presumes an answer to an hypothesis, an answer which at the current time seems to be false.

Oh, ok. Um, obviously if you introduce a testable hypothesis as part, or all, of a definition of a concept, then that concept becomes partly, or fully, falsifiable. Do you think I ever have argued, or ever would argue, otherwise?

You're the one who, in the post to which I was replying, gave force acting at a distance as a definition of "gravity." And you've just admitted that there can be such a thing as a wrong definition.

What I can't understand, however, is why you seem to be offering this as a defense of Rand's doctrine, as AFAIK this distinction appears nowhere in her theoretical writings, nor her apparent attempts to practically apply her doctrine - for example, concepts like "selfishness" or "sacrifice", which contain nothing like an answer to a testable hypothesis such as in your "gravity" example. So it seems reasonable to assume she was entirely unaware of the only thing that might make her doctrine viable.

I don't understand that paragraph, Daniel. I think she goofed in indicating that her definitions of "selfishness" and "sacrifice" are identifying *the* real concepts instead of identifying different concepts than most people mean by those words. But of course there are results of testable hypotheses included in her idea of how one establishes "essential" characteristics. I have divergences of detail with her presentation of that (and with other issues, but here we're discussing whether or not it's meaningful to speak of definitions of concepts as having truth status).

You seemed to be defending Rand's doctrine against my criticisms, but now I'm not even sure what your disagreement is with me.

I am defending a key point in Rand's views on definitions against what I think is your inaccurate reading of her. You've time and again laughed uproariously over her statement that our knowledge rests on the truth and falsity of our definitions. Yet she was right in respect to getting our concepts properly formed and properly situated in a hierarchy of concepts, which is what she was talking about, not, contra your interpretation, correct meanings *of words*. Having our concepts properly formed and arranged in relation to one another is an issue of getting our understanding of the relationships of reality correct. And, yes, our knowledge does depend on doing the job well.

PS: Your puppy problem is an invented problem and doesn't address the issue of correct definitions of concepts, as has been tiresomely gone over.

Yes I am regretting that almost no-one seems to have got the point of this, which was: if it turns out there is no actual mechanism for resolving an absurdly obvious difference in opinion over meaning, other than mutual agreement, then what hope is there for less obvious differences, such as the different shades of meaning of "democracy", or "freedom"? (Rand's vague, handwaving proposal in the ITOE that "logic" will resolve such disagreements seems untenable). The "puppy" thing was an invented example to, I thought, throw the problem into sharp relief.

But there is not any "absurdly obvious difference in opinion over meaning" in the example. None. Zilch. There are two different concepts -- young canine, callow youth -- referred to by the same word. I think it's only your belief that Rand was talking about correct meanings of words that leads you to see this example as presenting any problem for her theory.

Ellen

Edited by Ellen Stuttle
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Ellen:

I am defending a key point in Rand's views on definitions against what I think is your inaccurate reading of her. You've time and again laughed uproariously over her statement that our knowledge rests on the truth and falsity of our definitions. Yet she was right in respect to getting our concepts properly formed and properly situated in a hierarchy of concepts, which is what she was talking about, not, contra your interpretation, correct meanings *of words*. Having our concepts properly formed and arranged in relation to one another is an issue of getting our understanding of the relationships of reality correct. And, yes, our knowledge does depend on doing the job well.

A beautiful phrased statement of a complex issue. Thanks.

Michael

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You're the one who, in the post to which I was replying, gave force acting at a distance as a definition of "gravity." And you've just admitted that there can be such a thing as a wrong definition.

If you want to call a testable hypothesis a definition, that's up to you! I can hardly argue it's a false definition...;-)

Further, if you want to introduce testability as the criteria for truth or falsity of definitions, I can hardly disagree with that either.

However, can you point me to where Rand introduces this criteria in her writings? AFAIK she doesn't make this distinction - see what you refer to as her "goofs" below. Hence I can't see why you think this constitutes a defence of her doctrine.

I don't understand that paragraph, Daniel. I think she goofed in indicating that her definitions of "selfishness" and "sacrifice" are identifying *the* real concepts instead of identifying different concepts than most people mean by those words. But of course there are results of testable hypotheses included in her idea of how one establishes "essential" characteristics. I have divergences of detail with her presentation of that (and with other issues, but here we're discussing whether or not it's meaningful to speak of definitions of concepts as having truth status).

If you think that her theory was true - or even clear in her own mind - don't you think that it's rather odd she then "goofed" when applying it to such important concepts in Objectivism such as "selfishness" and "sacrifice"? In fact, you admit the unfalsifiability of those examples yourself when you say she didn't identify the "real concepts", and instead just identified "different concepts than what most people mean". Well: this is exactly what I say, but not what Rand says! Yet for some reason you claim I'm wrong, and Rand is right.

Further, most Objectivists firmly believe that she identified "true" concepts of "selfishness" and "sacrifice". Do they not understand Rand's doctrine either?

Finally, if Rand's doctrine is as important and true as you claim, surely the number of successes she produced with it must hugely outweigh these "goofs". Can you give me some examples of where she successfully applied her doctrine?

But there is not any "absurdly obvious difference in opinion over meaning" in the example. None. Zilch. There are two different concepts -- young canine, callow youth -- referred to by the same word. I think it's only your belief that Rand was talking about correct meanings of words that leads you to see this example as presenting any problem for her theory.

Well, let's look at it another way. Think of the two "puppies" as analogous to the two "sacrifices" - in both cases we have the same word for two different concepts.

You've seen the debate(s!) over which is the "true" one. How productive do you think they were?

Edited by Daniel Barnes
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Daniel......,

I'm suspecting games, and I don't know if I'm going to attempt to make sense of your latest reply.

One little question for now:

You're the one who, in the post to which I was replying, gave force acting at a distance as a definition of "gravity." And you've just admitted that there can be such a thing as a wrong definition.

If you want to call a testable hypothesis a definition, that's up to you! I can hardly argue it's a false definition...;-)

Irrespective of what I want or don't want to do, are you missing that *you* were the one who adopted that definition?

post #386

All the term "gravity" is is a useful answer to the problem "what shall we call a force that acts at a distance?"

Ellen

Edited by Ellen Stuttle
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Michael N., thanks.

Ellen

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Irrespective of what I want or don't want to do, are you missing that *you* were the one who gave that definition?

Actually I thought you introduced the issue. Here's what you wrote, with my emphasis.

Ellen:

No. The definition you gave there presumes an answer to an hypothesis, an answer which at the current time seems to be false.

It seems to me at this point to achieve falsifiability of definitions, you've introduced testable hypotheses into the discussion (I hadn't mentioned them previously). Well, fine, but what has this got to do with Randian doctrine? Rand just talks about the truth or falsity of definitions in general, and makes no such distinction.

Edit: And obviously, it follows from the lack of this distinction that she would make the rather prominent "goofs" you mention.

That's how it seems to me. How do you explain them?

I'm suspecting games, and I don't know if I'm going to attempt to make sense of your latest reply.

Actually, you've been asked a couple of pretty simple, direct questions. Whether you can answer them equally directly is up to you.

And no, I'm not playing any blasted games. Life's too short.

Are you?

Edited by Daniel Barnes
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I believe this argument about "correct definitions" is based on a misunderstanding. If I observe animals with 4 legs (lets say horses) and I define 'horse' as an animal with 6 legs (and intend this to apply to said animals) then this is an incorrect definition. On the other hand, there are many correct ways to define a horse, depending on which attributes interest you the most.

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I believe this argument about "correct definitions" is based on a misunderstanding. If I observe animals with 4 legs (lets say horses) and I define 'horse' as an animal with 6 legs (and intend this to apply to said animals) then this is an incorrect definition. On the other hand, there are many correct ways to define a horse, depending on which attributes interest you the most.

Indicating again, the definitions are conventions in the use of language. All words are made up out of whole cloth by human beings. There are no "true" definitions, only definitions accepted by convention by various and sundry communities or groups of people. Over time original meanings of words (i.e. meanings that held at an earlier time) are added to or replaced over the course of time. Lexicographers to not discover meaning, they track meaning as it is over time.

It should also be noted that new words or new meanings are cooked up as they are needed. Very often words are borrowed from other languages because there is no handy word for some idea or concept in the native language. That is how English became a language with so many words. Many have been borrowed or invented as needed. Wm. Shakespeare the well know play wright actually doubled the English vocabulary during the period when he wrote so many plays and sonnets.

Finally, the notion of "true meaning" is utter nonsense. There is current meaning and this is discovered empirically.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Your caricatures of Rand remind me very much of how orthodox Objectivists treat Kant. The targets are different, but the juvenile antics are the same.

Well, if it's an unfair caricature, perhaps you could offer a corrective? Can you show specifically how Objectivist philosophic reasoning would help working scientists to better know what they mean by the terms "mind" and "brain"?

I appear to have overestimated your knowledge of philosophy. Since you seem unfamiliar with a topic called "philosophy of mind," you might want to begin by reading the Wiki article at:

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

I think you will find that one cannot choose the most plausible option among different conceptions of "mind" by consulting a dictionary. Well, maybe you can -- since you seem to regard dictionaries as the ultimate fount of philosophic wisdom. No need to give any serious thought to how to formulate our basic concepts. Just consult a dictionary, learn how a word is generally used, and all your philosophical problems will be solved.

If a scientist claims that he is going to investigate the existence of God, it would of course be absurd to suggest that he give some serious philosophic thought to what he means by the word before undertaking his investigation. Only a fool like Rand would ever make such an outrageous claim. The scientist can always look up the word "God" in a dictionary, after all, and go from there.

Of course, there remains the problem of different dictionary definitions of terms like "mind" and "God." Perhaps the rigorous scientific procedure known as "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" will take care of that problem.

Ghs

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Your caricatures of Rand remind me very much of how orthodox Objectivists treat Kant. The targets are different, but the juvenile antics are the same.

Well, if it's an unfair caricature, perhaps you could offer a corrective? Can you show specifically how Objectivist philosophic reasoning would help working scientists to better know what they mean by the terms "mind" and "brain"?

I appear to have overestimated your knowledge of philosophy. Since you seem unfamiliar with a topic called "philosophy of mind," you might want to begin by reading the Wiki article at:

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

I think you will find that one cannot choose the most plausible option among different conceptions of "mind" by consulting a dictionary. Well, maybe you can -- since you seem to regard dictionaries as the ultimate fount of philosophic wisdom. No need to give any serious thought to how to formulate our basic concepts. Just consult a dictionary, learn how a word is generally used, and all your philosophical problems will be solved.

If a scientist claims that he is going to investigate the existence of God, it would of course be absurd to suggest that he give some serious philosophic thought to what he means by the word before undertaking his investigation. Only a fool like Rand would ever make such an outrageous claim. The scientist can always look up the word "God" in a dictionary, after all, and go from there.

Of course, there remains the problem of different dictionary definitions of terms like "mind" and "God." Perhaps the rigorous scientific procedure known as "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" will take care of that problem.

Ghs

Now you're just playing games. Read the question.

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I believe this argument about "correct definitions" is based on a misunderstanding. If I observe animals with 4 legs (lets say horses) and I define 'horse' as an animal with 6 legs (and intend this to apply to said animals) then this is an incorrect definition. On the other hand, there are many correct ways to define a horse, depending on which attributes interest you the most.

Indicating again, the definitions are conventions in the use of language. All words are made up out of whole cloth by human beings. There are no "true" definitions, only definitions accepted by convention by various and sundry communities or groups of people. Over time original meanings of words (i.e. meanings that held at an earlier time) are added to or replaced over the course of time. Lexicographers to not discover meaning, they track meaning as it is over time.

It should also be noted that new words or new meanings are cooked up as they are needed. Very often words are borrowed from other languages because there is no handy word for some idea or concept in the native language. That is how English became a language with so many words. Many have been borrowed or invented as needed. Wm. Shakespeare the well know play wright actually doubled the English vocabulary during the period when he wrote so many plays and sonnets.

Finally, the notion of "true meaning" is utter nonsense. There is current meaning and this is discovered empirically.

Ba'al Chatzaf

What Ba'al said.

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