Robert Campbell

The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics

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So you've given up on the elephant/piano thing. Smart move. But should any fugitive thought rattle around in your head in the future -- for example, if you think you might evolve into an eggplant or, even less likely, that you might eventually have something intelligent to say -- please do let us know about it.

What on earth are you talking about?

The elephant/piano thing was proposed by Merlin in an apparent attempt to impress me with the amazing explanatory and predictive powers of the law of identity. Unfortunately, as I pointed out, by doing so he ruled out evolution, just like old HWB Joseph himself as I recall.

I don't think Merlin wants to go there, but you were sounding pretty keen. I then supplied you with a perfectly good scientific theory that not only predicts that elephants will most likely give birth to elephants and not pianos, but which, when combined with natural selection, also explains why they might later give birth to non-elephants. All of this is quite beyond the power of the LOI. Ted Keer sensibly did not attempt this overreach in the first place, and is happy for it to merely be the go-to axiom anytime you want to find out what you knew already.

So now I've brought you up to speed, let's hear about those testable identity-based theories.

Edited by Daniel Barnes

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But knowing that something isn't travelling in a straight line because of some cause should enable one to correct for it, thus knowing how to travel in an actually straight line. Suppose you follow it. Then what?

I don't understand that comment. Are you suggesting that gravity could be turned off enabling travel in a straight line? Or...?

Ellen

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But knowing that something isn't travelling in a straight line because of some cause should enable one to correct for it, thus knowing how to travel in an actually straight line. Suppose you follow it. Then what?

I don't understand that comment. Are you suggesting that gravity could be turned off enabling travel in a straight line? Or...?

Ellen

GS said navigation was impossible due to gravity, but if you know the effect then you can account for it. No I'm not talking about "turning off" gravity, I'm talking about taking it into account.

Shayne

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[...] ruled out evolution, just like old HWB Joseph himself as I recall.

I think that's right.

It's deuced difficult to find any information on Joseph. I haven't poked around for Blanshard; I'm curious about Joseph at the moment. Neither, however, has an entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

An historic question I'm curious about is how the recommending of Joseph and Blanshard in connection with Objectivism started. I know that both were recommended early on, but why?

Was Rand the source? Maybe via Paterson?

Or Barbara or Peikoff through one or the other's or both's philosophy courses? (Was Hook at all keen on Joseph and/or Blanshard?)

Here's one hint about the current opinion of Joseph. The entry is for John Cook Wilson, who was Joseph's teacher:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wilson/

There was, however, a deleterious side to Cook Wilson's influence, as his contempt for mathematical logic explains why, although his criticisms of Russell's theory of classes utterly fail to convince, one had to wait until after World War II for modern formal logic first to be taught at Oxford, with the appointment of Hao Wang. In the 1930s, H. H. Price was still teaching deductive logic from H. W. B. Joseph's An Introduction to Logic (Joseph 1916a) and inductive logic from Mill's System of Logic. Cook Wilson's reactionary attitude towards modern logic might also explain why he was forgotten after World War II, and why many hesitate today to mention his name.

And here is the only biographical information I could find on Joseph (aside from a listing in the British Peerage):

http://economia.unipv.it/harrod/edition/editionstuff/rfh.4b6.htm

Joseph, Horace William Brindley

Joseph (1867-1943) was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford, where he was elected a scholar in 1886, fellow in 1891 and tutor from 1892 until his retirement in 1932 (with the exception of one year in India), when he became supernumerary fellow. He was university lecturer in philosophy (1927-32).

As an undergraduate Harrod attended Joseph's lectures on "Plato, Republic I-IV" and "Justice and Wages", and was tutored by him. Joseph's style, which admirers and detractors alike described as closely knit and complex, led Harrod to frequent disputes with him, although he admitted that his "remorseless logic" was "so cunning indeed". Rowse recollected that "Joseph at New College was celebrated in his day for the inhuman rigour of his logic. [...] Ordinary humans were depressed by it, some given nervous breakdowns", but added that Harrod, Douglas Jay , Herbert Hart and the young Sparrow were among those who had emerged unscathed from the Josephian mincing machine. In Harrod's view, Joseph's "philosophy was intellectually defective and may even have set up in his pupils habits of incorrect thinking about practical matters"; nevertheless, "he was concerned with the ultimate problems confronting mankind, and the mere fact that undergraduates have been induced to dwell upon these problems gave them a sort of moral stuffing and a sense of purpose in life thereafter."

I will say, Daniel, that from everything I can find about Joseph, he sure is sounding like a REAL "essentialist" -- I mean in the sense of "essences" being explanatory. I did find a description of him as a committed Platonist in one item or another which I forgot to link.

Question: Why don't elephants give birth to pianos?

Answer: Because they're elephants.

A is A

Oh, wow, such power of explanation.

Ellen

PS: Btw, I have Joseph's Logic. I even read it at one point. Likewise, Blanshard's Reason and Analysis. I sometimes re-read passages in the latter, since I enjoy Blanshard's style. But I don't see any helpfulness of either author for scientific investigation.

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Your attacks on DF portray you as downright naive regarding your idea of reality. Like someone who kicks a ball, the ball rolls, and who says: "Here we have a clear cause and effect-relationship".

I just kicked my dog and he let out a yelp.

His view of cause and effect is downright naive. Maybe reading some posts by DF will set him straight.

....

With your sophisticated understanding of causation, maybe you can give me some advice.

The advice is not to transfer your everyday experiences of cause and effect in the macroscopic scale where the laws of classical physics apply, to the world of quantum physics.

kicking a ball is a macroscopic event. That was your example, not mine.

I call this the "fish fallacy": Imagine a fish in the ocean could reflect on existence and rejected the idea of life outside water being possible on the grounds that it does not match a fish's idea of "objective reality".

Imagine an electron-elf who could reflect on the subatomic world and rejected the idea of macroscopic life outside that world as being possible on the ground that it does not match the elf's idea of "objective reality."

As for your world of rational fish, it would doubtless contain some really idiotic fish. I don't want to name names, but....

...AZ: Heisenberg's famous uncertainty principle.

Golly gee, you city folks sure use mighty big words! Never heard of that one before. Shucks! I need to get me some book learnin'!

But in case you believe that reading a few books on QM for laypeople will suffice to "lecture" someone like Dragonfly on questions which present themselves to him who has delved far deeper into the subject as any layperson can, you are in error (to put it mildly).

If you asked more questions for clarification instead of using polemic, you could actually learn more.

Example:

You told Ellen in # 1203: "And don't give me any more BS about "non-local hidden variables." (Ghs)

In # 1145, you wrote "I'm not even sure what "non-local" is supposed to mean -- and I certainly don't have a "theory" about it." (Ghs)

But if you are not sure what non-local is supposed to mean, how can you conclude that an argumentation with non-local hidden variables is "BS"?

Why didn't you just ask Ellen: "Could you explain what non-local hidden variables are and illustrate with an example?"

Example:

You told Ellen in # 1203: "And don't give me any more BS about "non-local hidden variables." (Ghs)

In # 1145, you wrote "I'm not even sure what "non-local" is supposed to mean -- and I certainly don't have a "theory" about it." (Ghs)

But if you are not sure what non-local is supposed to mean, how can you conclude that an argumentation with non-local hidden variables is "BS"?

Why didn't you just ask Ellen: "Could you explain what non-local hidden variables are and illustrate with an example?"

Because it wasn't relevant to anything. I have not been discussing physics. I have been discussing the philosophical opinions of some physicists. Surely a clever fish like you can grasp the distinction.

Pucker-up, Buttercup! You've got a lot more ass-kissin' to do. I recommend that you stock up on a lifetime's supply of Chapstick.

Ghs

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But knowing that something isn't travelling in a straight line because of some cause should enable one to correct for it, thus knowing how to travel in an actually straight line. Suppose you follow it. Then what?

I don't understand that comment. Are you suggesting that gravity could be turned off enabling travel in a straight line? Or...?

GS said navigation was impossible due to gravity, but if you know the effect then you can account for it. No I'm not talking about "turning off" gravity, I'm talking about taking it into account.

I didn't read him as saying that navigation was impossible due to gravity, just that navigation *out of* the universe is impossible.

It is not conceptually difficult (for me) to imagine a finite yet unbounded universe. It seems clear to me that since we know light doesn't travel in straight lines in the presence of gravitational fields then it must eventually come full circle, if you will. It would be impossible to navigate your way out of the universe under these circumstances. Indeed, it is the infinite universe that doesn't make sense and (to me) psychologically uncomfortable.

I, too, have difficulty making sense of what an "infinite" universe would mean, although I found intelligible DF's explanation of why one can't a priori rule out an infinite universe.

I'll repeat DF's post, since it's far back the queue at this stage:

You would need to clarify to me what you mean by infinitely big universe. I would say that an infinitely big universe would be one in which no ratio between it as a whole and its parts exists.

Why should such a ratio exist? If the universe would be finite, there would be a number M for which the distance between any two objects in the universe is always < M. But there is no a priori reason that there couldn't be an object with a distance to a given object that is > M and that argument can be repeated ad infinitum, meaning that there doesn't have to be a natural number M with that property. In such a universe there would be a bijection between the number of objects in the universe and the natural numbers. It may be a frustrating idea that you'll never finish counting them, but it is not contradictory.

What puzzles me, though, about DF's explanation is how does it square with Big Bang theory? If Big Bang theory is right, then "the universe" IS finite and unbounded, yes? So although the idea of an infinite universe wouldn't be contradictory a priori, it would be contradicted by current theory, right? Unless one is falling back on multiplexs and/or string theory and such, but is there any decent scientific reason for proposing these?

Ellen

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So you've given up on the elephant/piano thing. Smart move. But should any fugitive thought rattle around in your head in the future -- for example, if you think you might evolve into an eggplant or, even less likely, that you might eventually have something intelligent to say -- please do let us know about it.

What on earth are you talking about?

The elephant/piano thing was proposed by Merlin in an apparent attempt to impress me with the amazing explanatory and predictive powers of the law of identity. Unfortunately, as I pointed out, by doing so he ruled out evolution, just like old HWB Joseph himself as I recall.

I don't think Merlin wants to go there, but you were sounding pretty keen. I then supplied you with a perfectly good scientific theory that not only predicts that elephants will most likely give birth to elephants and not pianos, but which, when combined with natural selection, also explains why they might later give birth to non-elephants. All of this is quite beyond the power of the LOI. Ted Keer sensibly did not attempt this overreach in the first place, and is happy for it to merely be the go-to axiom anytime you want to find out what you knew already.

So now I've brought you up to speed, let's hear about those testable identity-based theories.

I wasn't thinking of any particular theory. You can name any particular causal account you like.

But first, you should clear the backlog of my posts about Popper. You ran away from that debate like a frightened rabbit.

What's the matter, Daniel? The pickings weren't as easy as you had hoped? Well, you can always go back to your Anti-Rand Cult website and crow about your glorious victories from days gone by.

Ghs

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[...] ruled out evolution, just like old HWB Joseph himself as I recall.

I think that's right.

It's deuced difficult to find any information on Joseph. I haven't poked around for Blanshard; I'm curious about Joseph at the moment. Neither, however, has an entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

An historic question I'm curious about is how the recommending of Joseph and Blanshard in connection with Objectivism started. I know that both were recommended early on, but why?

Was Rand the source? Maybe via Paterson?

Or Barbara or Peikoff through one or the other's or both's philosophy courses? (Was Hook at all keen on Joseph and/or Blanshard?)

Here's one hint about the current opinion of Joseph. The entry is for John Cook Wilson, who was Joseph's teacher:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wilson/

There was, however, a deleterious side to Cook Wilson's influence, as his contempt for mathematical logic explains why, although his criticisms of Russell's theory of classes utterly fail to convince, one had to wait until after World War II for modern formal logic first to be taught at Oxford, with the appointment of Hao Wang. In the 1930s, H. H. Price was still teaching deductive logic from H. W. B. Joseph's An Introduction to Logic (Joseph 1916a) and inductive logic from Mill's System of Logic. Cook Wilson's reactionary attitude towards modern logic might also explain why he was forgotten after World War II, and why many hesitate today to mention his name.

I always rely on current hints about a philosopher before forming an opinion about him. How else would I know what to think?

Many philosophers have criticized mathematical (i.e., symbolic) logic, especially its notion of "implication." One of the best critiques is Henry Veatch's Two Logics. I reviewed this book in the early 1970s, not long after I had studied symbolic logic for nearly two years in college, and I thought most of his points were well taken.

As I recall, you knew Veatch. If so, did you regard him as a fool who didn't know what he was talking about?

Ghs

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Question: Why don't elephants give birth to pianos?

Answer: Because they're elephants.

A is A

Oh, wow, such power of explanation.

Can you really be this dense? Apparently so.

As I said before, stick with physics and leave philosophy alone. That way you can base your beliefs on what what authorities tell you and needn't worry about thinking for yourself. This is not quite as comforting as being a Christian, but it's close.

PS: Btw, I have Joseph's Logic. I even read it at one point. Likewise, Blanshard's Reason and Analysis. I sometimes re-read passages in the latter, since I enjoy Blanshard's style. But I don't see any helpfulness of either author for scientific investigation.

As "Socrates" said when confronted with an especially dimwitted adversary: That is because you have eyes but no intelligence.

Then again, you may have a point. Both Joseph and Blanshard emphasize clear and coherent thinking. You certainly don't want to contaminate any of your second (or third or fourth...)hand "knowledge" of physics with that garbage.

Ghs

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What puzzles me, though, about DF's explanation is how does it square with Big Bang theory?

Puzzled? Do you mean to suggest the one of the world's greatest physicists -- greater even than Hawking and clearly the greatest with secret credentials -- may have written with less that absolute precision and clarity?

The fault is clearly yours. But, to your credit, you did ask for further instruction with due humility. Even so, I would go to confession and ask for absolution just to be on the safe side.

The sucking up on this thread. is sickening. (I am referring to many cases in addition to this.) I may need visit Perigo's website from time to time just so I can be around independent thinkers.

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The sucking up on this thread. is sickening. (I am referring to many cases in addition to this.) I may need visit Perigo's website from time to time just so I can be around independent thinkers.

There are independent thinkers there, and here, but as always they are in the minority, and often unappreciated.

Shayne

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Déjà vu, George. I wonder if you remember the last time you went on a rampage because of my not being impressed by your contributions on scientific epistemology. I don't see signs of your having acquired any knowledge of actual science since then either.

Ellen

PS: On what basis do you rank Stephen Hawking as a great physicist? Frankly, I don't share the wide-spread opinion of his stature.

Edited by Ellen Stuttle

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Déjà vu, George. I wonder if you remember the last time you went on a rampage because of my not being impressed by your contributions on scientific epistemology. I don't see signs of your having acquired any knowledge of actual science since then either.

Ellen

PS: On what basis do you rank Stephen Hawking as a great physicist? Frankly, I don't share the wide-spread opinion of his stature.

I have posted some things on epistemology but never on "scientific epistemology," whatever the hell that is supposed to mean.

I don't give a fuck whether what I have written impresses you are not. That's not what I care about. What I care about are intelligent people who think for themselves, instead of becoming slavish minions to supposed experts in science. The kind of deference shown on this thread by you and others has truly sickened me; it irritates every freethought bone in my body.

For years I have belonged to a rather "elite" elist for freethinkers, by which I mean a "by invitation only" list of around 40 members. Many of the members are published authors and professional scientists (including names that are familiar to many people), including a few physicists. And not once in nearly 10 years have I seen anything like the groveling to authority that I have witnessed on this thread. Many of the freethinkers on that list have criticized the finding of physicists in far more acerbic terms than I have ever used here. Sometimes they are right and sometimes they are wrong. but at least they understand the value of independent thinking and refuse to sell their rational souls for any price. This is what freethinking is all about.

DF, whoever the hell he is, claims he has been harassed in the past, so this is why he won't reveal his identity or even his credentials. This is bullshit. When I published ATCAG in 1974, I had no idea that it would become one of the most recognizable books on atheism written in the 20th century. Nearly from Day One I got odd and often menacing letters from Christians and other believers, hundreds of them over the years, sometimes with threats of hell fire scribbled on the outside of envelopes. And I have received countless emails of a similar nature since the advent of the Internet. But I don't whine and retreat behind a pseudonym on the Internet. I say who I am and take the consequences. If DF cannot stand the heat, then he should get out of the kitchen. He's a wimp, and I'm not about to defer to the supposed authority of an anonymous wimp.

And here's a news flash for you, Ellen. The fact that you happen to be married to a physicist does not make you some kind of authority on physics. You are a former book editor and a housewife, and I take you no more seriously in this field than I take my next door neighbor.

One last thing: I am accustomed to punks like Daniel who try to make a name for themselves not by doing original philosophy but by riding on the back of Ayn Rand, even though she could have argued them under the table in less than five minutes. These guys are a dime a dozen. But what I am not accustomed to finding on an Objectivist list are so many people who are contemptuous of philosophy itself. I haven't seen so much ignorance about philosophy since I used to visit Christian chatrooms some years ago -- and this includes you, Toots.

Apparently one needs to know a lot about physics in order to say anything about it. But it is quite acceptable around here to utter the most inane and sophomoric statements about philosophy without knowing zilch about the subject.

Some of you people are an absolute disgrace to the noble tradition of freethinking, which had at its core the refusal to surrender one's critical judgment to authorities of any kind, whether in theology or science. Ayn Rand was a freethinker in the purest sense, and this is what initially attracted me to her c. 1966. She may have gone overboard at times and been wrong about some things, but the woman had balls of brass, thought for herself, and didn't kowtow to anyone. And now we have a bunch of sniveling losers on an Randian list who think that physics, absorbed second hand from "authorities," is somehow a substitute for philosophy.

Grow a spine, people.

Ghs

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But first, you should clear the backlog of my posts about Popper. You ran away from that debate like a frightened rabbit.

What's the matter, Daniel? The pickings weren't as easy as you had hoped? Well, you can always go back to your Anti-Rand Cult website and crow about your glorious victories from days gone by.

LOL! I apologise for missing these apparently vital challenges; as I mentioned a while back, I've been otherwise engaged for a week or two and have not had much time for posting.

If you can wipe the spittle off your monitor for long enough to give me the specifics of this "backlog", I'll happily address them.

Edited by Daniel Barnes

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But first, you should clear the backlog of my posts about Popper. You ran away from that debate like a frightened rabbit.

What's the matter, Daniel? The pickings weren't as easy as you had hoped? Well, you can always go back to your Anti-Rand Cult website and crow about your glorious victories from days gone by.

LOL! I apologise for missing these apparently vital challenges; as I mentioned a while back, I've been otherwise engaged for a week or two and have not had much time for posting.

If you can wipe the spittle off your monitor for long enough to give me the specifics of this "backlog", I'll happily address them.

Look them up yourself; they are on this thread.

Btw, how are things going over at the Anti-Rand Cult website? That has to be one of the dopiest ideas I have ever encountered. When I was 15, a freethinking friend and I formed the "The Anti-Biblical League." But we were 15. What's your excuse?

Ghs

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Some of you people are an absolute disgrace to the noble tradition of freethinking, which had at its core the refusal to surrender one's critical judgment to authorities of any kind, whether in theology or science. Ayn Rand was a freethinker in the purest sense, and this is what initially attracted me to her c. 1966. She may have gone overboard at times and been wrong about some things, but the woman had balls of brass, thought for herself, and didn't kowtow to anyone. And now we have a bunch of sniveling losers on an Randian list who think that physics, absorbed second hand from "authorities," is somehow a substitute for philosophy.

So, rather than roll in the mud with them, why not comment on the concrete arguments I have made holding that the notion of an infinite universe is incoherent, and that a finite, self-bounded model of the universe is possible, coherent, and fully reducible to concretes. I would appreciate some comments by someone who is not interested in asserting skepticism and the arbitrary as a disproof of Randian positions he can't even articulate .

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The sucking up on this thread. is sickening. (I am referring to many cases in addition to this.) I may need visit Perigo's website from time to time just so I can be around independent thinkers.

There are independent thinkers there, and here, but as always they are in the minority, and often unappreciated.

Shayne

True enough. As far as this thread is concerned, I make a special point to read posts by a handful of people, even though I sometimes disagree with them and they often disagree with each other, sometimes vociferously so. These members interest me because they show original thought and do much more than repeat the latest trendy philosophical interpretations of physics. I may forget to mention someone, and if so I apologize in advance, but the names of frequent contributors that come readily to mind (in no particular order except as they occur to me) are:

Ted Keer, Martin Radwin, sjw, Brant Gaede, Dennis Hardin, Ninth Doctor, and Merlin Jetton.

Ghs

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Btw, how are things going over at the Anti-Rand Cult website? That has to be one of the dopiest ideas I have ever encountered. When I was 15, a freethinking friend and I formed the "The Anti-Biblical League." But we were 15. What's your excuse?

LOL! My ex-Catholic high school friends and I, who all happened to be of or Irish and Scottish descent, called ourselves the "Born-Again Celts"

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Some of you people are an absolute disgrace to the noble tradition of freethinking, which had at its core the refusal to surrender one's critical judgment to authorities of any kind, whether in theology or science. Ayn Rand was a freethinker in the purest sense, and this is what initially attracted me to her c. 1966. She may have gone overboard at times and been wrong about some things, but the woman had balls of brass, thought for herself, and didn't kowtow to anyone. And now we have a bunch of sniveling losers on an Randian list who think that physics, absorbed second hand from "authorities," is somehow a substitute for philosophy.

So, rather than roll in the mud with them, why not comment on the concrete arguments I have made holding that the notion of an infinite universe is incoherent, and that a finite, self-bounded model of the universe is possible, coherent, and fully reducible to concretes. I would appreciate some comments by someone who is not interested in asserting skepticism and the arbitrary as a disproof of Randian positions he can't even articulate .

I have been following that exchange, and I find it fascinating, but I'm not sure what I think yet, so I've been taking some time. The notion of "infinity" has fascinated philosophers for centuries, and I've pondered it since my high school days. But I'm going to hold back for a while. I'm very reluctant to jump into a discussion like this without giving it some fresh thought and reading up on it. The reading doesn't usually conclude anything for me, but it often stimulates my thinking.

As for rolling in the mud with the pseudo-science crowd, there are obviously limits, but I'm not about to let those trendy, authority bound true-believers posture as prophets of the universe without speaking my mind. Although I have commented on this before, it is difficult adequately to convey how eerily similar they are to religious devotees. Of course they will say that they are devoted to science, not to religion, but it's not the subject matter I am talking about. It's the uncritical attitude and the Who are we to judge? deference to authority that differs little, if at all, from old-fashioned religious faith.

Ghs

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Btw, how are things going over at the Anti-Rand Cult website? That has to be one of the dopiest ideas I have ever encountered. When I was 15, a freethinking friend and I formed the "The Anti-Biblical League." But we were 15. What's your excuse?

LOL! My ex-Catholic high school friends and I, who all happened to be of or Irish and Scottish descent, called ourselves the "Born-Again Celts"

Here is the account of the Anti-Biblical League that I wrote in "My Path to Atheism" (in Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies):

Of course, every self-respecting freethinker should belong to an organization -- something that will add stature to his crusade. In 1965, Greg and I formed such a group. Its name was snappy and to the point, if somewhat bizarre: "The Anti-Biblical League." Our motto, printed below the title on a business card, read "For People Who Aren't Afraid to Think." The letters "Q.E.D." did not appear on the card, but they were there in spirit.

This organization had exactly two members: Greg Morris and George Smith. We never solicited additional members. We just liked to see the reaction of Christians when we presented our card and asked if they would like to talk to us.

During the formative stages of "The Anti-Biblical League," it appeared that our organization might suffer an early demise. Greg was moving to Phoenix, thereby threatening to cut membership of the ABL (as we insiders called it) in half. No problem -- a quick change in our business card turned a liability into an asset. The upper-left corner of our card now read: "George H. Smith, Tucson Branch"; the lower-right corner read: "Greg Morris, Phoenix Branch." (This early display of organizational talent would later prove useful as I became involved with other radical groups.) Greg, it so happened, never moved to Phoenix. But, having invested in a thousand embossed, two-color cards, we used them anyway.

:rolleyes:

Ghs

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This discussion of Blanshard shows why modern science uses statistical methods and speaks about correlation rather than causation. These philosophers would be better of simply studying statistics instead of spinning their verbal tires like this.

I thought Blanshard's discussion might be too difficult for you to understand. I'll try to find something easier next time.

Those who were able to follow Blanshard might be interested in the passage that immediately follows the one I quoted previously. It is a bit difficult to set the context for this, since Blanshard is arguing for a theory of "internal relations" (which is based on the identity theory of causation), and his argument gets very complicated. So I will just quote the passage with no explanation, because it shows how he uses the findings of physics to criticize the theory of "external relations" that was popular among 19th century scientists.

The "Jevons" to whom Blanshard refers is William Stanley Jevons, the author of a very interesting and lengthy book (nearly 800 pages) titled The Principles of Science: A Treatise On Logic and Scientific Method (2nd ed., 1877). Jevons is best known as a pioneer in the mathematical method in economics and logic and as one of the pioneers, along with Menger and Walras, of marginal utility theory.

Here is Blanshard (Nature of Thought, II, p. 457):

The objection to internality that we have been considering began with a quotation from Jevons intimating as "the undoubted result of experience" that the gravitational pull upon a body was totally indifferent to its form, its texture, its temperature, electric condition, pressure, state of motion, and chemical qualities. This was presumably unquestioned when he wrote. But it is suggestive of the danger of any dogmatic statements of indifference to reflect on how the same statement would be received today. [1939] It is to be doubted whether any one of the factors named would be taken by the present-day physicist as totally indifferent to gravitation, or indeed to any of the other factors. The discoveries of the electronic composition of matter, the affinity of gravitation with the action of electricity and light, and the apparent contraction of bodies in the line of motion (to name but a few of many) have transformed the confident absolutism of a generation ago. Perhaps there was no relation which would then have been pronounced with more confidence to be absolutely external than that of spatial properties to temporal. Whoever accepts the theory of relativity can no longer believe that even these are externally connected. One lesson of the extraordinary development of physical science in the present century is that any assertion of pure externality is to be received with suspicion.

Now whether you agree with Blanshard or not, you can easily see that Ellen's stupid caricature of the identity theory of causation is based on pure ignorance. Even though I don't agree with Blanshard on a number of key issues, he was one of the most thoughtful and interesting philosophers of the 20th century. And he was a brilliant writer. GS could write 100 books and not produce a single paragraph that has the depth of thought and clarity of expression that Blanshard typically displayed.

GS is like a gnat biting an elephant in the name of "science." The atheist Blanshard was very pro-science and spent a lot of time thinking about its philosophical implications. And he thought for himself.

Ghs

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Look them up yourself; they are on this thread.

Hmmm...sifting through 1300-odd posts for GHs's cranky nuggets. Thanks, but no thanks.

One last thing: I am accustomed to punks like Daniel who try to make a name for themselves not by doing original philosophy but by riding on the back of Ayn Rand, even though she could have argued them under the table in less than five minutes. These guys are a dime a dozen.

Um, so I'm apparently "making a name for myself" by "riding on the back of Ayn Rand". As if. For a highly intelligent fellow you really are none too perceptive. In fact you seem to have all the problems of genius, but without quite enough of the advantages.

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Look them up yourself; they are on this thread.

Hmmm...sifting through 1300-odd posts for GHs's cranky nuggets. Thanks, but no thanks.

One last thing: I am accustomed to punks like Daniel who try to make a name for themselves not by doing original philosophy but by riding on the back of Ayn Rand, even though she could have argued them under the table in less than five minutes. These guys are a dime a dozen.

Um, so I'm apparently "making a name for myself" by "riding on the back of Ayn Rand". As if. For a highly intelligent fellow you really are none too perceptive. In fact you seem to have all the problems of genius, but without quite enough of the advantages.

So why do you hang around on OL? I don't recall that you have ever said anything positive about Rand or her ideas. And when you criticize Rand's ideas, it is invariably with a sneer, as if she was obviously incompetent.

Now, if I believed that about a philosopher, I wouldn't hang around on a website devoted to her ideas. It would be a monumental waste of my time, and I have better things to do.

I think you are hunting for game, big or small. Over the years I've seen many mediocre thinkers who get their kicks and sense of accomplishment this way. I don't recall ever reading anything close to an original thought from you. What you write is either a Classic Comics version of Popper or some condescending criticism of Rand. Have you ever had an original idea in your life?

Ghs

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What on earth are you talking about?

The elephant/piano thing was proposed by Merlin in an apparent attempt to impress me with the amazing explanatory and predictive powers of the law of identity. Unfortunately, as I pointed out, by doing so he ruled out evolution, just like old HWB Joseph himself as I recall.

Good question for you to answer. I didn't "rule out evolution." I didn't even mention it. It is irrelevant, as George, not you, pointed out. So you believe the species might evolve and give birth to a non-living, man-made musical instrument? Are you trying to win a lifetime achievement award for absurdity?

Have you ever had an original idea in your life?

Of course, he has. Original and absurd.

Edited by Merlin Jetton

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And here's a news flash for you, Ellen. The fact that you happen to be married to a physicist does not make you some kind of authority on physics.

I never said or implied it did, George. There you go trying to create the same strawcharge to use against me which you've played on and played on against DF, who wasn't doing any arguing from authority. Indeed, the person here who keeps using the authority card over and over and over while never addressing substance is you.

Apparently one needs to know a lot about physics in order to say anything about it.

No, but thorough ignorance isn't a good position from which to pronounce about such lofty sounding issues as "metaphysical indeterminism."

As I've pointed out twice before, you claim to accept the experimental findings and then proceed to demonstrate that you haven't a clue what they are. Hell, you don't even understand what non-local hidden variables means while you busily proclaim that the law of identity...does what exactly? Just what problems in the area do you think it solves?

As they say on physics and math exams: Show your calculation.

Ellen

PS: I don't see any answer to the query "On what basis do you rank Stephen Hawking as a great

physicist?" (If it's there in the fine print in one of your latest long outpourings, I missed it.)

Edited by Ellen Stuttle

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