# THE DUEL BETWEEN PLATO AND ARISTOTLE

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Johnny:

>If something may turn out to be false, then you haven't demonstrated you have found something to be true by using sound logic. If it may be false, then you cannot say it is true.

But I don't say it is true. I say I think it is true, but might be wrong.

To say something might be wrong is to say you doubt the validity of your statement. So you actually can't say or think the statement is true.

To say you think something is true, is redundant. It's just the same as saying something is true, you of course would have to think it is true if you are claiming to make a true statement by saing is true! Duh!

If you believe a statement to be true, it is implicit that you have ruled out the possibility the statement is false, that is what the definition of a true statement is!

Daniel:

>Thus I cannot, and do not, claim it is irrefutably true.

Johnny:

>Then you haven't demonstrated what you claim is true.

What are you talking about here? What is it I am supposed to "demonstrate"?

Whether it is true or false! Duh!!

>At best, you appear to be claiming one can only hope to attain what appears to be true...

Yes, now you're getting it!....

>but this proposition doesn't work either. In order to know what appears to be true, one must be able to distinguish between a true scientific statement, and a false scientific statement (just as you would have to know the difference between a car and a horse to be able to distinguish one from the other).

...and now you're losing it! Your error here is that you think in order to "distinguish between a true scientific statement and a false scientific statement" I have to somehow "demonstrate" what a true statement looks like.

YES!! You do! Otherwise what the hell are you talking about? If you don't know what a true statement looks like how in the hell would you ever know you say something that is true? You wouldn't!

Actually, in order to distinguish between the two, what I need is not a "demonstration", but some rules for establishing truth and falsity in the first place; that is, a theory of truth.

To demonstrate something is true certainly requires rules for establishing truth and falsity, did I ever say otherwise?

My preferred theory of truth is the correspondence theory of truth; that the truth is correspondence with the facts, and falsehood is likewise non-correspondence.

You with me so far?

Now we come to an important asymmetry; between the conditions of truth and falsity for such a theory.

Note that to be considered true, a theory would have to correspond to all the facts.

Unfortunately, human knowledge has some limits, the most fundamental being we never have all the facts. Bummer!

So what? You don't need every fact to come to a true statement. That's a non-sequiter. For a statement to correspond to reality it does not require omniscience or knowledge of all the facts.

Fortunately, the upside is the conditions for falsity. For a theory to be false, it only has to be contradicted by a single fact!

Thus, in principle, we can take advantage of this logical asymmetry to at least demonstrate that a theory is false by the rules we have established. However, contra you, establishing falsity obviously does not require truth be equally established.

This is were you've come unstuck.

What I believe you are trying to say is, because we don't know everything there is to possibly know, that we must therefore concede we may be wrong about being true, because we have been wrong before, and there is information that could falsify our propisition. But that's not a valid argument either.

On the contrary, you can exclude a possibility your statement is false if you have no reason to believe a contradiciting fact exists to invalidate it. In order to say that you may be wrong, you need evidence to doubt the truth of your statement. If you lack such evidence, then you have no rational grounds to say that you could be wrong. The fact that we have been wrong in the past in regards to making a true or false statement, is not evidence that you could be wrong now, any more than the fact that your reasoning was mistaken in the past is evidence that it could be mistaken now.

Johnny:

>But according to you, one can never really know we have attained a truth, which means one can never really know what is a truth!

Yes! We can of course have a theory or definition of "truth" (eg correspondence with the facts), if that's what you mean by "know what is a truth". That is how we can decide what is false or not. But we can't know that we have an absolutely true theory.

There is no such thing as anything other than an absolute truth. Either a statement is valid when it corresponds to reality or it doesn't. If you are not certain a statement is valid, it does not mean you can say you know it is true but there are no "sorta trues" or "sorta falses". So "absolute" is a redundant term.

A true or false statement is eternal. Statements do not "become" false if we find a fact that contradicts a proposition, the statement always was false but we were simply wrong in believing it was true.

If one can determine the possibility of future falsification, then one must assume the possibility of current verification. because it is only by discovering what is true that one can discover what is false. But to discover that a proposition is true means one discovers that it cannot be false, because that is what it means to say a proposition is true. A true proposition is one that cannot be false. Thus, to regard a proposition as true means one regards its falsification as impossible. Just as one cannot believe that a proposition is true and believe simultaneously that it could be false, (a contradiction) so one cannot believe that a proposition is true and believe simultaneously that new evidence could prove it to be false.

Of course, people can be wrong. Just as someone can regard a proposition as true and be wrong about its truth, so too can they regard it as incapable of being falsified and be wrong about that. But if they have no evidence that they could be wrong, then they cannot with logic recognize that possibility. This is not Objectivist fallacy, it is non-contradictory identification.

Johnny:

>Or, it is conceivably a perefectly illogically inconsistent position, and is a fallacy. This naive Barnian argument against self-refuting fallacies is itself, a fallacy, and a tiresome one at that.

So once again, my position is clearly not a fallacy; or at least, your argument fails. I agree it is somewhat tiresome to explain it however - I have done it rather a lot now - but hopefully you've got a better handle on it.

So once again, your position is clearly a fallacy, or at least, your argument fails. I agree your explanations are somewhat tiresome (and wrong) you have repeated the same fallacy a lot now, but hopefully you've got a better handle on it.

Edited by Johnny

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Then you haven't demonstrated what you claim is true. At best, you appear to be claiming one can only hope to attain what appears to be true, but this proposition doesn't work either. In order to know what appears to be true, one must be able to distinguish between a true scientific statement, and a false scientific statement (just as you would have to know the difference between a car and a horse to be able to distinguish one from the other). But according to you, one can never really know we have attained a truth, which means one can never really know what is a truth! Since if every "true" scientific statement could conceivable be false, then every "false" scientific statement could conceivably be true! Therefore, we have no understandable distinction between the words "true" and "false".

Here is something you can take to the bank. An inconsistent set of assertions taken as a bundle cannot be true.

Baal, I think more accurately what you mean is the conclusion cannot be true, and one or more of the propositions made in the syllogism are not true. I don't think it necessarily means all the assertions in the syllogism are false. Just the conclusion and one or more or all of the premises are false.

If a hypothesis leads to something that can be empirically falsified then the hypothesis must be false or the empirical determination of the falsity is not sound.

True

Inconsistencies do not exist in the real world.

That is the basis of falsification of scientific theories.

Ba'al Chatzaf

And also true.

But going back to my original gripe, the essay that Barnes linked to had the glaringly obvious fallacy of the stolen concept. To say one can never believe one has sufficient reason to believe one has attained the truth, means one also can never believe one has sufficient reason to believe one has attained a falsity. The statement is self-refuting. If you have no rational grounds to doubt your hypothesis (or proposition, or statement, doesn't matter which term we use) then you have no reason to believe your hypothesis is false. Thus we of course do and can have sufficient reason to believe we have attained a scientific truth.

So now we're expected to take this essay as a serious critique of Aristotle when the author doesn't even have a grasp of non-contradictory identification?

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Johnny,

After studying all this stuff for a bit, I came to the following conclusions, albeit I still may modify some of them.

As we know in Objectivism, a word is a way to make a mental concrete to symbolize an abstraction (a concept). There is one issue that is not mentioned too often in Objectivism, and that is that often a single word refers to more than one concept. Rand does mention this problem at times, but she expresses it as, "Define your terms." Obviously, if there were not more than one meaning for a term, there would be no need to define it for a discussion.

I became acutely aware of this problem from being a translator. But it exists in English too. On a low level conceptual basis, there is not too much difficulty. I seriously doubt you would have much problem with someone like Daniel over what a chair or a sidewalk is and means. The problem starts when a higher concept is formed and this means abstracting from abstractions. There are so many variables involved that it is easy for two men to arrive at two different concepts, but ones which are similar enough to bear the same word. And the rub is that both would be correct. So the question in any discussion with another school of thought is to understand it conceptually before critiquing it.

You mentioned "stolen concept." That is a legitimate fallacy and a serious one. But before going on the attack, it is a good idea to ensure that you are talking about actual concepts and not merely words. Stolen concept is one type of fallacy, but there is what one could call a "borrowed concept," also. This is when a word that expresses a concept that is built on one conceptual chain is used in a different meaning for the the same word, but built on another conceptual chain, to disqualify an argument. Person A says XXXX means one thing and within his meaning there is a valid conceptual chain. Person B says XXXX means something else and within his meaning there is also a valid conceptual chain. XXXX has two valid meanings and both can be found in a dictionary or in some standard usage. Yet Person A tries to use the meaning used by Person B in a syllogism and it doesn't work, and vice-versa.

You and Daniel have that problem right now. So it is time to check premises. I will not go into a long description since I have discussed much with Daniel already and I wish to do some of the actual reading (like Popper's works) before continuing. But let's take the word "truth."

The meaning you attribute to it (and I mean "me too" when I say "you" in the following discussion, since we use the Objectivist meaning) is different in a fundamental aspect from the one Daniel is using. Both meanings are valid since both have proper conceptual chains behind them. You include context in your meaning and Daniel does not. Both meanings for truth stand for a mental unit that corresponds correctly to a fact. This is called the "correspondence theory of truth." You both also agree on the rules of deductive logic (and this creates even another meaning, a syntax one, for "truth" and "falsity"). But when we look into what "fact" means, you use it for the initial entity and leave the concept open to add knowledge about that entity. Daniel uses "fact" to mean the entity in all its details and attributes and uses terms like "all the facts" to express this. I mentioned "entity" here, but this also holds for propositions.

In order to express the open-endedness of concepts, Daniel says that "we can't know if we have an absolutely true statement," and he is using his definition of "true." The way Rand says this is "knowledge is contextual" or "we are not omniscient." In conceptual terms, believe it or not, you both agree. You are both saying that concepts are open-ended. The premise of you both is based on objective reality ("correspondence theory of truth"). What is different is the meaning you give to words and how statements are made based on those words.

Essentially your argument is nothing more than "Your meaning of truth does not fit my syllogism" and his is the same. (This is especially evident in the argument about the contradiction of falsity being true while saying that 100% truth is cannot be known.) Yet notice that you both have words and expressions to mean the two different concepts you both use, and you both consider both concepts valid.

You could be stubborn and say only your meaning is valid (and this is where Daniel and I sometimes get to an impasse), but that boils down to nothing but semantics. Also, it would ignore that fact that science runs on the falsifiability method of logic and it has produced wonders based on it, including the computer you are using right now. You could try to claim the standard Objectivist argument against the "mental constructs divorced from reality" school of thought, but that is simply not the case with Daniel's meaning of truth. The fact is that you both agree, but your forms of expressing the concepts sound antagonistic to each other because the same word holds two different meanings.

I intend to write about this after doing a lot more research.

For now, I would like to mention that I have noticed that you are a person who likes to trounce the bad guys. I have no problem with that. There are plenty of bad guys out there who need trouncing. Daniel is not a bad guy, however (unless you are committed to defending Rand at all costs and focus solely on his negative view of some of Rand's works and attitudes).

But there are some bad guys for real, some horribly anti-life/anti-human being bastards, that talk similar to Daniel's form of speech. (Actually, there are some that talk like we do, too! ) This can get confusing and requires clear thinking to properly identify them. The only way to understand the difference is to think in conceptual terms, not just in words with one meaning only.

Michael

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You mentioned "stolen concept." That is a legitimate fallacy and a serious one. But before going on the attack, it is a good idea to ensure that you are talking about actual concepts and not merely words. Stolen concept is one type of fallacy, but there is what one could call a "borrowed concept," also. This is when a word that expresses a concept that is built on one conceptual chain is used in a different meaning for the the same word, but built on another conceptual chain, to disqualify an argument. Person A says XXXX means one thing and within his meaning there is a valid conceptual chain. Person B says XXXX means something else and within his meaning there is also a valid conceptual chain. XXXX has two valid meanings and both can be found in a dictionary or in some standard usage. Yet Person A tries to use the meaning used by Person B in a syllogism and it doesn't work, and vice-versa.

So what you are saying MSK is that I am equivocating the term truth. Using a different definition of truth then what Daniel does. But regardless of how one defines the concept "truth", it still must have a distinction with the concept "false". How we define true cannot be defined in the same way as how we define false. And either way we define truth (which we both seem to agree truth is defined as a statement which corresponds to reality so I don't believe we are equivocating the definition) it still must follow the law of non-contradictory identity. So the equivocation claim is a red herring.

As far as me always wanting to go after the "bad" guy, I don't think I would characterize myself in such a shallow way. How you view me is certainly your prerrogative but I don't understand why this would be relevant to the discussion? Initially my post was in response to the silly Aristotle bashing made by the author of the essay Daniel had linked. Read what more you want but I'm simply stating the essay isn't a very convincing critique of Aristotle when it fails to even have a grasp of the law of identity.

Edited by Johnny
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So what you are saying MSK is that I am equivocating the term truth. Using a different definition of truth then what Daniel does. But regardless of how one defines the concept "truth", it still must have a distinction with the concept "false". How we define true cannot be defined in the same way as how we define false. And either way we define truth (which we both seem to agree truth is defined as a statement which corresponds to reality so I don't believe we are equivocating the definition) it still must be follow the law of non-contradictory identity. So the equivocation claim is a red herring.

Johnny,

You understood the problem but apparently not the difference in concepts. I suggest you think it through some more. I don't want to argue semantics. If you get value from that, go for it. I'm sure you will find those who will oblige you.

Michael

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So what you are saying MSK is that I am equivocating the term truth. Using a different definition of truth then what Daniel does. But regardless of how one defines the concept "truth", it still must have a distinction with the concept "false". How we define true cannot be defined in the same way as how we define false. And either way we define truth (which we both seem to agree truth is defined as a statement which corresponds to reality so I don't believe we are equivocating the definition) it still must be follow the law of non-contradictory identity. So the equivocation claim is a red herring.

Johnny,

You understood the problem but apparently not the difference in concepts. I suggest you think it through some more. I don't want to argue semantics. If you get value from that, go for it. I'm sure you will find those who will oblige you.

Michael

Well I don't know what more to say then, since I don't understand how one could possibly define truth by any logical means without taking into consideration the law of non-contradictory identity. A is A. The truth however we define it cannot be both true and false as any definition that is self-refuting is meaningless.

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Well I don't know what more to say then, since I don't understand how one could possibly define truth by any logical means without taking into consideration the law of non-contradictory identity. A is A. The truth however we define it cannot be both true and false as any definition that is self-refuting is meaningless.

Johnny,

This is exactly what I mean. Nobody ever claimed what you are asserting. If you are really interested, OK. Let's do it. Simply for my understanding, do you know the difference between truth and fact and where the absolutes fall with each?

Michael

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Well I don't know what more to say then, since I don't understand how one could possibly define truth by any logical means without taking into consideration the law of non-contradictory identity. A is A. The truth however we define it cannot be both true and false as any definition that is self-refuting is meaningless.

Johnny,

This is exactly what I mean. Nobody ever claimed what you are asserting.

What on Earth are you talking about MSk? Are you seriously telling me no one has made a self-refuting statement? Then tell me what does this statement mean:

"in science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth."

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Well I don't know what more to say then, since I don't understand how one could possibly define truth by any logical means without taking into consideration the law of non-contradictory identity. A is A. The truth however we define it cannot be both true and false as any definition that is self-refuting is meaningless.

Johnny,

This is exactly what I mean. Nobody ever claimed what you are asserting.

What on Earth are you talking about MSk? Are you seriously telling me no one has made a self-refuting statement? Then tell me what does this statement mean:

"in science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth."

I would like for someone to tell me with a straight face that scientists believe in the theory of evolution, but believe they could be wrong and then claim they still operate from any rational basis of reality? This should be intuitive for most people that claims such as these are preposterously ridiculous. That we live our daily lives, bearing the fruit of scientists' labor such as automobiles, computers, cell phones, but still think we should say we might be wrong about automotive engineering, or we might be wrong about computer science, or we might be wrong about the science that gave us telecommunications when we use the very things everyday that prove there is no possibility that the science used to build a car, or build a computer, or build a cell phone is wrong. They are right, and we have sufficient reason to believe scientists have attained these truthes, one only has to look at the computer sitting in front of their face to realize that.

Edited by Johnny
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Johnny,

I'm sorry. For a moment I thought you were interested in the ideas and not just winning an argument. I won't ask you for level of understanding anymore. Please see Post 103 above for the different meanings of truth. But I will make it easy for you (but just this time).

Meaning 1:

"In science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained omniscient knowledge."

Meaning 2:

"In science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained contextual knowledge."

The statement for Meaning 1 is true. The statement for Meaning 2 is false. You use truth only as Meaning 2, whereas some others outside of Objectivism use it as Meaning 1.

Michael

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Johnny,

I'm sorry. For a moment I thought you were interested in the ideas and not just winning an argument. I won't ask you for level of understanding anymore. Please see Post 103 above for the different meanings of truth. But I will make it easy for you (but just this time).

Meaning 1:

"In science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained omniscient knowledge."

Meaning 2:

"In science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained contextual knowledge."

The statement for Meaning 1 is true. The statement for Meaning 2 is false. You use truth only as Meaning 2, whereas some others outside of Objectivism use it as Meaning 1.

Michael

Oh for crying out loud! Didn't I already say that MSK in post 21 that truth is not defined as omniscience! I even said in that post "Perhaps the problem here is you erroneously define "truth" as "omniscience" But nevermind that, just ignore me and scold me for not wanting to be interested in ideas. Just because I disagree with Daniel's ideas doesn't mean I am only interested in "winning an argument" and I would like you to apologzie for using such a cheap tactic. I would rather not be subjected to arguments from intimidation. But regardless, this is not what Daniel is proclaiming the sentence to mean. He said:

"I say I think it is true, but might be wrong."

"we can't know that we have an absolutely true theory"

"However, just because there is good evidence and sound logic for this statement - (regarding the statement In science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth) to mention my strong belief in it - does not guarantee that it is true. It may turn out to be false. Thus I cannot, and do not, claim it is irrefutably true."

In the entire context of this discussion I'm having with Daniel, in no way is he defining it as "omniscience", and every one of the statements he made above are violating the law of non-contradictory identity.

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Just to make abunduntly clear in no way can we construe the author of the essay that Daniel linked is stating truth to mean omniscience. From the essay:

"First, although in science we do our best to find the truth, we are conscious of the fact that we can never be sure whether we have got it. And we have learnt not to be disappointed any longer if our scientific theories are overthrown; for we can, in most cases, determine with great confidence which of any two theories is the better one. We can therefore know that we are making progress; and it is this knowledge that to most of us atones for the loss of the illusion of finality and certainty."

Which is exactly what I address in post 101:

"What I believe you are trying to say is, because we don't know everything there is to possibly know, that we must therefore concede we may be wrong about being true, because we have been wrong before, and there is information that could falsify our propisition. But that's not a valid argument either.

On the contrary, you can exclude a possibility your statement is false if you have no reason to believe a contradiciting fact exists to invalidate it. In order to say that you may be wrong, you need evidence to doubt the truth of your statement. If you lack such evidence, then you have no rational grounds to say that you could be wrong. The fact that we have been wrong in the past in regards to making a true or false statement, is not evidence that you could be wrong now, any more than the fact that your reasoning was mistaken in the past is evidence that it could be mistaken now."

For example, was that the theory the Earth was flat once true, but then became false once scientists discovered the earth was round? When scientists pick between the best of either two theories, they are not claiming truth has changed. Only a recognition they were wrong to think the earth was flat. And that it was never true that the Earth was flat, but that it is true the Earth is round. Otherwise we can say that scientists could be wrong about the Earth being round and right it was flat! Afterall if you always leave the possibility a scientist is wrong, then we are suggesting it could be true that Earth is flat! In fact, our recognition of a past error must presuppose our recognition of a truth. Otherwise we couldn't logically say we were in error.

Furthermore the progress the author speaks of in science is not necessarily an abandonment of previous knowledge, it is a better description of reality. In one case, they abandon a wrong propositon that was always wrong, such as the Earth is flat, and in other cases, the expand a previously incomplete theory, such as Quantum Mechanics giving us a better more thorough description of physics than Newtonian physics. But does the correspondence of a proposition to fact depend on our awareness of its correspondence, such that if we don't know that it corresponds, then it doesn't, but that if we do, then it does? Does reality change as our knowledge changes? Does our knowledge determine reality? Of course not. But this is precisely what the essayist is claiming, unwittingly or not.

I hope on an Objectivist forum Objectivists would not take this essay as a serious blow to Aristotle?

Edited by Johnny
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I wrote:

>>But I don't say it is true. I say I think it is true, but might be wrong.

Johnny then replied:

>To say something might be wrong is to say you doubt the validity of your statement. So you actually can't say or think the statement is true.

Wow, I must be psychic. Back in #93 I predicted that Johnny was going to tell me it's somehow illogical to hold hypotheses...and here he is, doing just that.

>To say you think something is true, is redundant. It's just the same as saying something is true...

So...according to you, to say you think something is true is just the same as saying something is true!

Excellent. So if you think it will rain next Wednesday....it will rain next Wednesday! Johnny, your psychic powers outstrip even mine.

In all seriousness, this should make it quite clear where you've gone wrong. To wit, the difference between:

1) What I think is true

2) What is true

This confusion is equally apparent in your next sentence:

>If you believe a statement to be true, it is implicit that you have ruled out the possibility the statement is false, that is what the definition of a true statement is!

Not at all. I might hold my belief lightly; that it is possibly true, but it may turn out to be false. When I say "I think (or I believe or whatever) it will rain next Wednesday" I am not sure why you think this "implicitly" rules out the possibility it will be sunny! If anything, the "I think" puts the tentative nature of my belief quite clearly, yet somehow you draw the opposite conclusion.

Perhaps this is to do with your frankly odd definition above of a "true statement": a true statement is a statement that you believe to be true.

There is a name for this theory of truth, but it's not Objectivist

(I contrast this with my preferred theory of truth: a true statement is a statement that corresponds to the facts.)

But maybe it's ok after all, because everything you said so fervently above, you turn around and take back in the very next breath:

>Of course, people can be wrong. Just as someone can regard a proposition as true and be wrong about its truth, so too can they regard it as incapable of being falsified and be wrong about that.

You've put this in rather a confused way (the second part of your sentence seems redundant). However, I completely agree with you that "someone can regard a proposition as true and be wrong about its truth"! I've said so from the start. You then tried to tell me how foolish and contradictory I was to say this, but now you're saying the exact same thing.

So it is now far from clear what your real quarrel, if any, is with me!?

>But if they have no evidence that they could be wrong, then they cannot with logic recognize that possibility.

But when do people have "no evidence that they could be wrong"?

As I wrote recently on another thread, there any number of ways humans might err; through emotional bias, through carelessness, through lack of imagination, through repetition dulling awareness, overfocus on detail ("not seeing the forest for the trees"), through missing a step in reasoning without realising it, through a simple sensory lapse, and of course, the famous Rumsfeldian "unknown unknowns"..and so on. These possibilities are present at all times in human intellectual endeavour; that is to say, these possibilities are real. In short, lack of evidence that we are wrong is likely to be simply evidence of our ignorance - and we have the evidence of human history, and our own experience, that just such ignorance has led to serious problems in countless situations.

I do not see how you can do other than recognise these possibilities: they are realities. To do as you do above is simply to disregard the evidence of experience, and likewise disregard reality!

Edited by Daniel Barnes
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Johnny,

You keep talking about an essay Daniel linked to, so let's be clear on what you are talking about. You specifically mean "Two Kinds of Definition" by Karl Popper, introduced on Daniel's blog by his contentious type of Rand criticism (which is a bit problematic with precision from what I read, but that is another issue). This is given in his earlier post:

Matus:

>To skip over (Aristotle's) incredible contributions in nearly every human endeavor and chide him for making a mistake or two is ridiculous, and to hold him accountable for the brain dead 'Aristotlean-droids' is even worse intellectual dishonesty.

The problem for Objectivism is not in admiring Aristotle - there is indeed much to admire - but that his methodology is fundamentally unworkable. This is a major, if somewhat hidden, problem because Rand adopted so much of his methodology wholesale. As a result his problems inexorably become hers. As it happens I've just put a lengthy post up on this very issue, "Aristotle's 'Secret Revolt' Against Reason." which may be of interest.

Now before getting to that essay, I merely want to point out to you your own error of "borrowed concept" in your own words.

Oh for crying out loud! Didn't I already say that MSK in post 21 that truth is not defined as omniscience! I even said in that post "Perhaps the problem here is you erroneously define "truth" as "omniscience"

Here is my comment on that.

You could be stubborn and say only your meaning is valid (and this is where Daniel and I sometimes get to an impasse), but that boils down to nothing but semantics.

That is exactly what you did in talking about "erroneous." You said the other definition was not valid and only yours was. Call it what you wish, but it is semantics and nothing more.

Now let's look at the essay and the drive to "trounce enemies."

I hope on an Objectivist forum Objectivists would not take this essay as a serious blow to Aristotle?

Actually, I just read that essay, and getting around all the hot button terms, it is in agreement with Rand's views on many points. Two premises jump out at me: facts exist independently of knowledge, and the purpose of knowledge is to correspond to facts. Popper's criticism is not against that. It is basically against "essentialism," which Rand called "moderate realism" for some reason. But don't take my word for it. Look at what Rand wrote in discussing the four schools of thought on concepts (ITOE, 2nd Expanded Edition, p. 1):

2. The "moderate realists," whose ancestor (unfortunately) is Aristotle, who hold that abstractions exist in reality, but they exist only in concretes, in the form of metaphysical essences, and that our concepts refer to these essences.

According to your kneejerk criteria, that must mean that Rand is doing her damnedest to discredit Aristotle by striking "a serious blow" against him and as an Objectivist, she should be ashamed of herself. The fact that metaphysical essences happens to be the part of Aristotle's thinking that Popper was criticizing doesn't seem to phase you.

Now I can't believe you read Popper's essay and missed the fact that Popper also bases objective knowledge on sense experience and not intuitive "essences." Popper wrote:

Plato taught that we can grasp the Ideas with the help of some kind of unerring intellectual intuition; that is to say, we visualise or look at them with our 'mental eye', a process which he conceived as analogous to seeing, but dependent purely upon our intellect, and excluding any element that depends upon our senses. Aristotle's view is less radical and less inspired than Plato's, but in the end it amounts to the same. For although he teaches that we arrive at the definition only after we have made many observations, he admits that sense experience does not in itself grasp the universal essence, and that it cannot, therefore, fully determine a definition.

Look at what Rand wrote on the same page above:

For the purposes of this series, the validity of the senses must be taken for granted...

That happens to be Popper's premise if you read him correctly. Where you might get confused is that Popper mentioned "nominalist" and so did Rand:

3. The "nominalists," who hold that all our ideas are only images of concretes, and that abstractions are merely "names" which we give to arbitrary groupings of concretes on the basis of vague resemblances.

Now if you want to make some kind of argument based on that, there might be something to it. But the more I read, the more I believe this also is more semantics than meat. Still, I suggest you reread Chapter 5 of ITOE, then reread Popper's essay. You will see that his idea of scientific definition is very similar, although his rhetoric is just as bombastic as Rand's, but arguing against defining terms in a forced bit of logical twisting for shock value. (Apparently, he makes the same mistake she does at times and tries to force his argument into the wrong meanings of the terms he uses. He did here at least. I have a paper in the future coming later on down the road about where Rand does this for rhetorical effect.)

Popper does not use the genus/differentia formula, but he definitely uses the idea that definitions are to be derived from reality, not reality derived from definitions, and that a definition (which is basically a concept as meant by him) is a label and mental unit for a vast number of concretes. He certainly uses different language and his own jargon:

Accordingly, the definition may at one time answer two very closely related questions. The one is 'What is it?', for example 'What is a puppy?'; it asks what the essence is which is denoted by the defined term. The other is 'What does it mean?', for example, 'What does "puppy" mean?'; it asks for the meaning of a term (namely, of the term that denotes the essence). In the present context, it is not necessary to distinguish between these two questions; rather, it is important to see what they have in common; and I wish, especially, to draw attention to the fact that both questions are raised by the term that stands, in the definition, on the left side and answered by the defining formula which stands on the right side. This fact characterizes the essentialist view, from which the scientific method of definition radically differs.

While we may say that the essentialist interpretation reads a definition 'normally', that is to say, from the left to the right, we can say that a definition, as it is normally used in modern science, must be read back to front, or from the right to the left; for it starts with the defining formula, and asks for a short label for it.

Notice that he is arguing against metaphysical essences that we grasp intuitively and arguing for making mental units for observations (boiling down to the senses), which he calls "defining formula."

Getting back to "truth," Popper does not explicitly claim that omniscience is part of his meaning, but since his idea of knowledge is based on the senses, when you look at his usage, you cannot conclude otherwise. Just like when you look at his arguments against "definition," you have to see that he is talking about the essentialist version and not Rand's version (which did not even exist at that time). You might also notice that in the title, he even mentions two types of definition, so he was also groping for a way to make sure that knowledge was tied to reality, not impose ideas on reality. I believe that just that attempt alone is the reason his falsifiability method has been so successful in practice.

Try concepts sometime and look behind the words. You might like them.

Michael

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Mike:

>Now I can't believe you read Popper's essay and missed the fact that Popper also bases objective knowledge on sense experience and not intuitive "essences."

I don't think Johnny has read the essay. He said earlier he started to read it, but gave up rather early after he came across what he seemed to think was the "logical fallacy" of a single sentence! Unfortunately, his attempts to demonstrate why this is a fallacy are, AFAICS, themselves highly confused (see my above).

Hence his comment that "I hope on an Objectivist forum Objectivists would not take this essay as a serious blow to Aristotle?" can be reasonably ignored, as there is little evidence that he has read the essay in question!

Edited by Daniel Barnes
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The end of patience where I was concerned came when Victor then lifted wording from someone else in his descriptions of Madame Bovary. And now, on this thread, he's borrowed again, from a poster elsewhere screen-named "Immortalist." I see no prospect of Victor's reforming. Victor doesn't even seem to feel a sense of wrong-doing.

___

Ellen, I am in complete agreement with you. It was the Madame Bovary quote that blew me up, and caused me to write Michael that I would have no further dealings with Victor and would not participate in discussions of his OL posts. Victor gives not the slightest indication that he takes his plagiariam seriously. Apparently, he is quite content to be a cheat. I have no doubt that he will continue it whenever and wherever he thinks he can get away with it.

I hadn't wanted to say this before, but there is a simple way to spot Victor's plagiarisms: Usually, the grammar is correct, and what he probably calls "big words" are used reasonably correctly, neither of which tends to be the case when he writes his own posts.

I think the people here who have been painstakingly explaining and re-explaining to Victor -- and to others -- just what plagiarism does and does not consist of, are making a mistake. I doubt that there is anyone here who is not perfectly clear on the issue, most emphatically including Victor.

I do feel sympathy for Michael. He has invested a considerable amount of time and energy in Victor, clearly believing that it was worthwhile. I'm sorry that Victor has been so intent on proving him wrong.

Barbara

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Since I earlier expressed my extreme disapproval of Victor's various plagiarisms, I want to say that I hadn't read this particular post or any of the discussion until this evening. I hope my silence has not been given any other interpretation.

Barbara

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The end of patience where I was concerned came when Victor then lifted wording from someone else in his descriptions of Madame Bovary. And now, on this thread, he's borrowed again, from a poster elsewhere screen-named "Immortalist." I see no prospect of Victor's reforming. Victor doesn't even seem to feel a sense of wrong-doing.

___

Ellen, I am in complete agreement with you. It was the Madame Bovary quote that blew me up, and caused me to write Michael that I would have no further dealings with Victor and would not participate in discussions of his OL posts. Victor gives not the slightest indication that he takes his plagiariam seriously. Apparently, he is quite content to be a cheat. I have no doubt that he will continue it whenever and wherever he thinks he can get away with it.

I hadn't wanted to say this before, but there is a simple way to spot Victor's plagiarisms: Usually, the grammar is correct, and what he probably calls "big words" are used reasonably correctly, neither of which tends to be the case when he writes his own posts.

I think the people here who have been painstakingly explaining and re-explaining to Victor -- and to others -- just what plagiarism does and does not consist of, are making a mistake. I doubt that there is anyone here who is not perfectly clear on the issue, most emphatically including Victor.

I do feel sympathy for Michael. He has invested a considerable amount of time and energy in Victor, clearly believing that it was worthwhile. I'm sorry that Victor has been so intent on proving him wrong.

Barbara

Oh dear.

I dont want to start trouble.

:shifty:

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Johnny puzzled:

>Ellen...If we never in science, have sufficient reason to believe we have attained the truth, then I don't understand what scientists talk about all day?

Well, Johnny, in science, they tend to talk all day about something (or things) called a....

hypothesis (h?-p?th'?-s?s)

n. pl. hy·poth·e·ses (-s?z')

1. A tentative explanation for an observation, phenomenon, or scientific problem that can be tested by further investigation.

2. Something taken to be true for the purpose of argument or investigation; an assumption.

3. The antecedent of a conditional statement.

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The first is Internet chat room versus Internet discussion forum. The main difference between the two is not the quickness of being able to type a message, but in archiving material. A forum is a form of publication, just like a book is, only it is electronic and is fairly unorganized due to lots of contributors. Many people use forums as a place to generate reference materials (or provide information on how to access them) and be the starting place of works that will become books and so forth. OL is one such place. Now a forum can be used in the manner of a chat room, but that does not change its nature as a place of publication. You can use a computer to play games, but "electronic game device" is not the definition of a computer.

The second is property. I cannot walk into a restaurant open to the public and simply pee on the floor in front of everyone or put on loud music and start yelling, claiming that because it is open to the public, I can enter and do what I damn well please. Setting aside public nuisance and indecency laws, the restaurant is private property and the owner sets the rules for behavior of guests and customers.

Very good points. I understand your situation well.

This is frustrating me now. I admire both you and Victor, and I would rather not take sides.

Especially when the house is favored to win.

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Me too, Dodge. But hey, it's not about "us against them". ;)

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Me too, Dodge. But hey, it's not about "us against them". ;)

And it shouldn't be.

But some people are making it seem that way.

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Me too, Dodge. But hey, it's not about "us against them". ;)

And it shouldn't be.

But some people are making it seem that way.

No, it definitely shouldn't.

And yes, some people are making it seem that way, including me at times. I'm done with that.

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Me too, Dodge. But hey, it's not about "us against them". ;)

And it shouldn't be.

But some people are making it seem that way.

No, it definitely shouldn't.

And yes, some people are making it seem that way, including me at times. I'm done with that.

I say we both sit and let this problem sort itself out without any attachment from our part (if its possible).

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Yes, let's. Looks like things are quieting down.

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