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patrik 7-2321

The Logical Leap by David Harriman

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I´ve read the first chapter and I really like it so far. The introductions were great and the first chapter I´m still chewing on but it has really "expanded" my mind as to what is possible in thinking really. I think this book will be really valuable for my education overall. I´ll post more about it as I go on.

What´s your opinion on the book, does it live up to your expectations? How? Does it have any flaws or anything you disagree with? Talk about it!

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Even though it's a treatise on induction, I found it to be among the better surveys of the history of science that I've seen so far. It helped me integrate a lot of grab-bag facts that I learned in science courses but didn't know the significance of until I understood the context (which is of course the point!)

Edit: Oh, I should also add that I thought it made good points about induction, in particular its use of Peikoff's concept of the arbitrary to quell skeptic objections, and also the importance of recognizing that inductive proofs rely on the totality of one's knowledge (and modern philosophers not liking that).

Edited by Nate T.

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The first chapter left me with no less than 11 questions:

Go ahead if you think you know the answer.

  1. Why is it enough to observe only one causal process to conceptualize it, when to conceptualize a normal concept takes two or more units? I was expecting him to say you need two or more causal processes. Why this difference?
  2. What is a causal connection? How would you define it?
  3. Are ALL generalizations (All S is P) statements of causal connection? (pg. 21) Even the ones that generalize about a specific thing´s color for, example “All swans are white”?
  4. To deny a conclusion that follows necessarily from deduction is to deny a generalization, he says. (pg. 31) Does that mean you are denying a premise, or a new “product” of the deduction?
  5. To deny a conclusion that follows necessarily from induction is to deny all your knowledge. (pg. 31) How can the conclusion follow necessarily? (There should have been a concrete example of this) How can you deny all your knowledge by denying the conclusion?
  6. Is the generalization ”All swans are white” properly or improperly made in the example? (pg. 8) Is it disproven or not when a black swan appears?
  7. At page 18 the book seems to say sometimes you need certain generalizations to reach or be able to form certain concepts, is that true?
  8. “New instances are conceptualized i.e., placed under the appropriate concept, as and when they are encountered” This seems to say that to conceptualize (to induce) is to place new instances under an appropriate concept, which is just like Ayn Rand´s description of deduction in ITOE (pg. 28): “The process of subsuming new instances under a known concept is, in essence, a process of deduction.” Why do I think I´m looking at a contradiction here? (Which I hope I´m not)
  9. Are all first-level generalizations really built from first-level concepts? Do they have to be? Why? (pg. 19)
  10. Did he miss underlining (or italicalizing) two actions on the bottom of page 23, or did he have some kind of point in only doing it to the other two?
  11. Why can´t induction be reduced to the formalism of symbols, and what does that mean? (pg. 35)

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  1. Why is it enough to observe only one causal process to conceptualize it, when to conceptualize a normal concept takes two or more units? I was expecting him to say you need two or more causal processes. Why this difference? Because there is no concept formation going on, merely the application of already formed concepts.

  2. What is a causal connection? How would you define it? A causal connection refers to the action of one entity upon another.

  3. Are ALL generalizations (All S is P) statements of causal connection? (pg. 21) Even the ones that generalize about a specific thing´s color for, example “All swans are white”? Yes. Some statements of a causal connection will be particular ("Johnny kicked the ball") not universal. Therefore it is not true that all statements of causal connection are generalizations. The manner in which all generalizations are causal takes some explaining.

    “All swans are white” asserts a universal entity-attribute relation between being a swan and being white. The essence of the problem is that causality is about action but the entity-attribute relation is not an action. The resolution of the problem is that feathers are white for a reason, the reason being the identity of the parts of the swan (the acting entities in this case) that grow feathers. The entity-attribute relation is sometimes brought about by the actions of parts of an entity. "All swans are white" has the form of a generalization, but it fails to be an inductive conclusion because the argument made for it is invalid; enumeration has no causality in it explaining what makes feathers any particular color, consequently no necessity has been established that forces the conclusion that all swans must be white.

    "All lightning is electricity" is a genus-species relationship. How is this causal? There is the implied inference that whatever makes up lightning is the same kind of stuff that makes up electricity. "That stuff" is the common identity acting in the two cases. "That stuff" is not a completely arbitrary hypothetical, it refers to what is caught in a charged Leyden jar.

  4. To deny a conclusion that follows necessarily from deduction is to deny a generalization, he says. (pg. 31) Does that mean you are denying a premise, or a new “product” of the deduction? You have paraphrased inaccurately here. He does not write this on pg. 31 or anywhere else. I won't guess at which word you got wrong or your "real" question. Try again.

  5. To deny a conclusion that follows necessarily from induction is to deny all your knowledge. (pg. 31) How can the conclusion follow necessarily? (There should have been a concrete example of this) How can you deny all your knowledge by denying the conclusion? This appears on page 35. Franklin-flies-a-kite (pg. 33-34) was a concrete example. Given that perception is valid, concepts are valid, and all knowledge is interrelated, (each of these premises is a book in itself) then either the inductive conclusion is true or it is false. The conclusion is false if and only if the premises are wrong. But the premises are not wrong therefore the conclusion is necessarily true.

  6. Is the generalization ”All swans are white” properly or improperly made in the example? (pg. 8) Is it disproven or not when a black swan appears? It is improperly made, which means not that it is true or false but that it is a non sequitor. It is contradicted and demonstrated to be false when the black swan appears.

  7. At page 18 the book seems to say sometimes you need certain generalizations to reach or be able to form certain concepts, is that true? Yes. Examples (shadows, blocking) were given.

  8. “New instances are conceptualized i.e., placed under the appropriate concept, as and when they are encountered” This seems to say that to conceptualize (to induce) is to place new instances under an appropriate concept, which is just like Ayn Rand´s description of deduction in ITOE (pg. 28): “The process of subsuming new instances under a known concept is, in essence, a process of deduction.” Why do I think I´m looking at a contradiction here? (Which I hope I´m not) This is from pg. 26. You have forgotten that induction is about propositions (sentences) and concept formation is about concepts (words). A causal connection requires two or more entities, and an inductive generalization requires two or more concepts related in a sentence.

  9. Are all first-level generalizations really built from first-level concepts? Do they have to be? Why? (pg. 19) Yes. Yes. By definition that is what makes them first level.

  10. Did he miss underlining (or italicalizing) two actions on the bottom of page 23, or did he have some kind of point in only doing it to the other two? Call it a typo. All four gerunds should have been emphasized the same way.

  11. Why can´t induction be reduced to the formalism of symbols, and what does that mean? (pg. 35)Symbolic logic is a notation system used for deductive logic. Induction is not based on atoms of knowledge, symbolic logic only deals with atomic propositions, therefore they are incompatible. (If you are not familiar with the usage, 'atomic' here means 'out of context.') It means symbolic logic cannot prove everything, or even most things. Since symbolic logic cannot validate the premises it starts with, it cannot complete the proofs of anything.

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In the example, "Fire burns paper," the evidence, the "induction" arrived at, might have been stated differently. It might have been stated as, "...burning paper..." or even, "Here is burning paper, or "...paper burning," or "Here paper is burning." You will notice that of the possibilities, only "Fire burns paper," is a generalization.

It seems arbitrary to craft that,, general specific proposition from the conceptual identification of the event. What is the justification of choosing the specific propositional form used?

Mindy

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What is the justification of choosing the specific propositional form used?

Definition of Generalization - a proposition that ascribes a characteristic to every member of an unlimited class, however a member is placed in time and space. The format "All S is P" makes clear that such a claim is universal. It is also the format of the "type-A" universal affirmative proposition, making explicit that induction generates the premises for deduction.

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Definition of Generalization - a proposition that ascribes a characteristic to every member of an unlimited class, however a member is placed in time and space. The format "All S is P" makes clear that such a claim is universal. It is also the format of the "type-A" universal affirmative proposition, making explicit that induction generates the premises for deduction.

Lol. You mistake the question. I'm asking what justification there is for electing that propositional form, the form that, indeed, fits inductive statement. There are other ways to state, in propositional form, the conceptualization of the burning paper, and those other ways do not yield an inductive statement.

Mindy

Edited by Mindy

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Mindy your concern is written about on page 22.

All the variants of "I rolled the ball by pushing it" given in the book are logically equivalent because the statements identify the same fact (the same causation) from different perspectives.

"I rolled the ball by pushing it"

"My pushing it made the ball roll"

"I caused the ball to roll by pushing it."

-The same causation is referred to.

How many ways one can identify the same causation I don´t know but I think as long as you identify it in some way with concepts you are inducing.

I THINK what has to be included in the identification is at least three concepts: the concepts of the interacting entities and the concept of the act itself.

If a generalization is a conceptualization of a causal connection (as the book also says), and a causal connection is "The action of one entity upon anoter"; then I think it follows that you need these three: the one entity, the action, and the other entity. As long as you have that you can state it however you want.

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Mindy your concern is written about on page 22.

All the variants of "I rolled the ball by pushing it" given in the book are logically equivalent because the statements identify the same fact (the same causation) from different perspectives.

"I rolled the ball by pushing it"

"My pushing it made the ball roll"

"I caused the ball to roll by pushing it."

-The same causation is referred to.

It seems to me that all of those presuppose what they are supposed to explain. The child pokes at a ball, and watches it roll away. Unless you presume he recognizes a causal relationship, you only have touching and the ball's motion. If you want to say the child "pushed" the ball, you are, again, presuming what you want to explain. A child doesn't choose to push something until he has grasped causality. So, he can't learn of causality from it.

In this connection, think of a toddler who walks up to a ball to pick it up. As he arrives at the ball, he kicks it away. He toddles off after it, and, with his last step, he kicks it away again. This can happen over and over, without the child realizing that it is his own behavior that sends the ball away.

How many ways one can identify the same causation I don´t know but I think as long as you identify it in some way with concepts you are inducing.

I THINK what has to be included in the identification is at least three concepts: the concepts of the interacting entities and the concept of the act itself.

It is achieving the concept of the act that constitutes arriving at the generalization. Do you see fire burning paper, or do you see fire, and see paper undergoing certain changes? Is the fire visibly central to those changes, or incidental? It seems to me that until you answer these questions, you can't conceptualize "burns," you can't conceptualize what you are calling the act.

If a generalization is a conceptualization of a causal connection (as the book also says), and a causal connection is "The action of one entity upon anoter"; then I think it follows that you need these three: the one entity, the action, and the other entity. As long as you have that you can state it however you want.

The question is, will conceptualizing the perceptible elements of a causal act lead one to conceptualizing the causal act. The act has two entities involved. Two entities are recognized and identified conceptually. There will also be some change to one or both of those entities. The child is able to conceptualize those changes. Where's the idea of cause? Where's the understanding that the change in the one brings about the change in the other?

Mindy

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Unless you presume he recognizes a causal relationship, you only have touching and the ball's motion. If you want to say the child "pushed" the ball, you are, again, presuming what you want to explain. A child doesn't choose to push something until he has grasped causality. So, he can't learn of causality from it.
A child can easily choose his actions, and the action that he chooses may be pushing. You can't say that a child involuntarily pushes until he grasps the concept of causation. You certainly can't say that a child is physically incapable of pushing until he grasps the concept of pushing. The concept of causation has to be formed first, by induction. It is a first order concept, formed by observing the relationship between pushing and the ball rolling; drinking water and thirst being slaked; screaming and the breast appearing (not one of Harriman's examples). What those examples are supposed to show is how the concept of causation is acquired.

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A child can easily choose his actions, and the action that he chooses may be pushing. You can't say that a child involuntarily pushes until he grasps the concept of causation. You certainly can't say that a child is physically incapable of pushing until he grasps the concept of pushing. The concept of causation has to be formed first, by induction. It is a first order concept, formed by observing the relationship between pushing and the ball rolling; drinking water and thirst being slaked; screaming and the breast appearing (not one of Harriman's examples). What those examples are supposed to show is how the concept of causation is acquired.

Yes, I can say a child's pushing a thing is accidental until he forms the idea of causally moving it by pushing against it.

When you say "The concept of causation has to be formed first, by induction," you seem to be agreeing with me...can't be, of course.

When you say we "observe the relationship" you are claiming there is something perceptible in addition to the entities and their attributes?

Mindy

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Yes, I can say a child's pushing a thing is accidental until he forms the idea of causally moving it by pushing against it.
What do you mean, it's "accidental"? The issue is not about something being accidental, it's about the childs action being unchosen. You claim that the child did not chose to act, which is on the face of it absurd, so unless you have some (erroneous) idea that small children are human-looking automata, I can't make any sense out of your statement that children do not choose an action until they understand the concept of causation.
When you say we "observe the relationship" you are claiming there is something perceptible in addition to the entities and their attributes?
Yes. Besides entities and attributes, the range of existents includes actions and relationships. When a cup falls, "falling" is not an attribute or an entity, it is an action. Actions can be perceived.

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What do you mean, it's "accidental"? The issue is not about something being accidental, it's about the childs action being unchosen. You claim that the child did not chose to act, which is on the face of it absurd, so unless you have some (erroneous) idea that small children are human-looking automata, I can't make any sense out of your statement that children do not choose an action until they understand the concept of causation.Yes. Besides entities and attributes, the range of existents includes actions and relationships. When a cup falls, "falling" is not an attribute or an entity, it is an action. Actions can be perceived.

In the same sense that one can accidentally elbow a neighbor in the ribs, a child can push something without having chosen to push it.

Actions are actions of entities. They are not an additional perceptual content. We conceptualize actions by finding patterns in the regular changes in a thing's posture, change of place, etc. If you took each perceptible bit of information, all of them would belong to one or the other entities.

Mindy

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In the same sense that one can accidentally elbow a neighbor in the ribs, a child can push something without having chosen to push it.
Alright. There's an ambiguity in the scope of "choose" because while human non-autonomic actions are chosen, the person is not aware of the consequences of the action. Thus you might say that a person only chose to push the button without knowing that that would release the bomb. However, your comment that "A child doesn't choose to push something until he has grasped causality" is totally out in left field, in terms of understanding causality. Awareness of the concept of causation is not a prerequisite to learning the concept causality. (I feel that a 32 point DUH ought to follow).
Actions are actions of entities.
Yes, that is well-known.
They are not an additional perceptual content.
What in the world is "additional perceptual content"? How does that relate to the obvious fact that one can perceive actions?
We conceptualize actions by finding patterns in the regular changes in a thing's posture, change of place, etc.
So are you claiming that there is a special "conceptualization of actions" which is distinct from "conceptualization"? In fact, conceptualization is simply conceptualization, and it does not have to be distinguished in terms of "conceptualization of entities" versus "conceptualization of actions" versus "conceptualization of relations" versus "conceptualization or attributes". That is really what measurement omission is all about. We have, simply, "conceptualization", and if you want, you can specific that the specific thing you are conceptualizing is "actions", or "entities".
If you took each perceptible bit of information, all of them would belong to one or the other entities.
Errh, "information" is the product of a consciousness perceiving the identity of an existent, and a "bit of information" is the product of a conceptual-level analysis of that identity. I have a hard time taking seriously the idea that the product of conceptual-level analysis or an existent's identity is actually something that is owned by some entity (which would be hard to name, in the case of a relation or action since many entities can be involved). Did you actually mean to say something else?

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Our initial concept of causation will be specific to causing this or that. Perhaps "push" IS the original concept of causation. Either way, the concept of active pushing is an idea of causing something to happen, and the child does not behave in that sense until he grasps it as such.

You fought it, but you ended up in the right place.

I could argue about what constitutes information, but I would choose another situation in which to do so.

You have a hard time taking seriously the idea that an existent's identity is actually something that is owned by some entity? It is a simple truth that entities have identities. All perceptual content or information pertains to entities. So, if you conceptualize the two entities in a causal interaction, in their immediate state and/or changing state, you will have captured everything perceptible. There is no separate thing to conceptualize. That leaves forming further abstractions, abstractions of abstractions, to arrive at concepts of action and interaction. The question of induction is just what underlies that further conceptualization.

Mindy

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    "All lightning is electricity" is a genus-species relationship. How is this causal? There is the implied inference that whatever makes up lightning is the same kind of stuff that makes up electricity. "That stuff" is the common identity acting in the two cases. "That stuff" is not a completely arbitrary hypothetical, it refers to what is caught in a charged Leyden jar.

    Enjoyed your responses here, but could you elaborate on how the genus-species relationship is causal?

    Mindy

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Mindy, this thread is a discussion of a book you have not read. I hope you don't think it is out of line or otherwise offensive for me to suggest you obtain the book and read it. My own explanations and interpretations of the ideas in the book are only relevant to the extent that I can make the case that they are consistent with the book, but not having access to the book you cannot possibly judge whether my reading comprehension is correct or not. If you want to take issues with the ideas themselves, again it would be helpful to actually possess your own book otherwise you put me and others who may choose to answer in the position of having to paraphrase or retype multiple paragraph-sized portions of the book in order to clarify just what Harriman's position is on any point.

The genus-species relationship is based upon recognizing a similarity. The similarity exists chronologically prior to concluding a genus-species relationship is applicable and valid; it can be said the similarity is a necessary cause of the genus-species relation. (Necessary but not sufficient, an active knower is also required.)

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The genus-species relationship is based upon recognizing a similarity. The similarity exists chronologically prior to concluding a genus-species relationship is applicable and valid; it can be said the similarity is a necessary cause of the genus-species relation. (Necessary but not sufficient, an active knower is also required.)

I take it that "chronologically prior" means "prior." I take it that "concluding" here means some person's reaching a conclusion that there is a genus-species relationship in the case. Then, you say the similarity between genus and species is the cause of the person's concluding there is a genus-species relation. I won't argue with that. Evidence causes knowledge.

It doesn't touch on the question at hand, though. How does being an animal (genus) cause some animals to be rational animals (species)? That is the issue. Clearly, the answer is that it doesn't. If you meant something different by the genus-species relation, what was it?

Mindy

p.s. Wouldn't it be better to say the genus-species relationship was based on recognizing a difference, not a similarity? If you have the genus, you come to see that there are distinct sub-sets, types, groups, categories, or such, within that genus. You name the difference, and that is the differentiation that defines the species.

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If you meant something different by the genus-species relation, what was it?

Mindy

p.s. Wouldn't it be better to say the genus-species relationship was based on recognizing a difference, not a similarity? If you have the genus, you come to see that there are distinct sub-sets, types, groups, categories, or such, within that genus. You name the difference, and that is the differentiation that defines the species.

Genus-species and set-subset relations refer to the same kind of relationship based on similarity due to possessing a commensurable characteristic. Species and subsets are differentiated from other species and subsets. It is species-species relations are based on recognizing a difference. (Genus-species terminology is not restricted to biology, it is the elemental relation in every taxonomy on any subject.)

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Genus-species and set-subset relations refer to the same kind of relationship based on similarity due to possessing a commensurable characteristic. Species and subsets are differentiated from other species and subsets. It is species-species relations are based on recognizing a difference. (Genus-species terminology is not restricted to biology, it is the elemental relation in every taxonomy on any subject.)

Your claim that genus-species relationships are examples of cause is the subject under discussion. The relation is assymetrical. The species possesses all the characteristics of the genus, but not vice versa. That cannot be called similarity, which is a symmetrical relation.

One can't resolve the genus-species relation into species-species relations, because the first species formed could be the only species formed--to that point. The orphaned members of the genus do not necessarily form a species of their own.

The only possibility I can think of is that, e.g., "being a rational animal causes one to be an animal." That is foolishness, of course.

Mindy

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Your claim that genus-species relationships are examples of cause is the subject under discussion. The relation is assymetrical. The species possesses all the characteristics of the genus, but not vice versa. That cannot be called similarity, which is a symmetrical relation.

One can't resolve the genus-species relation into species-species relations, because the first species formed could be the only species formed--to that point. The orphaned members of the genus do not necessarily form a species of their own.

The only possibility I can think of is that, e.g., "being a rational animal causes one to be an animal." That is foolishness, of course.

Mindy

Similarity with a genus is due to possessing a commensurable characteristic, not due to the entire entity being commensurable. A genus is not an entity, therefore kind of symmetrical similarity which you are demanding is simply impossible. You are in effect denying that a genus is valid concept. Good job, you have refuted Rand and Aristotle and everyone in between, including all biologists, stamp collectors, etc.

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Mindy just stick to the damn title or get out. Listen to what Grames said. It just pisses me off to read your attempts at judging the book or other people´s understanding of it without even having read it NOR without ANY inclination towards wanting to actually discuss IT.

Stop being a troll and start making serious attempts at thinking and reating your discussions to the title at hand otherwise you´re just being a complete idiot.

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