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dream_weaver

True For You / Not True For Me

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On the first night of Introduction to Logic, Leonard Peikoff shared a technique he used when he taught logic at college. He offered a passing grade for the course to anyone that could bring in the following week a statement that was true for one person and not true for another.

 

While he had many take up the challenge, nobody claimed the prize.

 

A philosophical detective would hone in on the telltale clue of “true for”.

 

For example, consider a conversation developing along this line:

PD: Artichokes are delicious.
PS: That may be true for you, but not for me.

 

On the face of it, this may appear to be a case where it is true for one person and not true for another. Further clarification would need to be given in order to reveal more.

 

When PD states “Artichokes are delicious.” – PD finds artichokes to be delicious, while PS does not think artichokes to be delicious.

But both facts are true for everyone, when stated this way.

 

PD finds artichokes delicious, is true for PD, PS and anyone else familiar with the fact that PD finds artichokes delicious..
PS dislikes artichokes, and that is true for PD, PS and anyone else familiar with the fact the PS dislikes artichokes.

 

Colloquially, this may be fine in casual conversation. Logical validation, however requires a more rigorous approach.

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The artichoke example is a statement that is a two-place predicate underneath (a relation between a person and a food) but one-place on the surface (because it doesn't explicitly mention the person).  Aristotle points this out in the Categories.  Plato treated such examples as all one-place predicates and used the ensuing problems as an argument for the forms: If it's at once delicious and not so, we have a contradiction and can't rely on our senses; so we need something beyond them.

 

Statements relative to a person or situation are another kind that take a second look: "my name is...", "I drive a...", "she lives at...", "this is my son."  I believe the technical term for these is "indexicals".  Here, too, substituting a non-relative designator is straightforwardly easy to do.

 

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"Referential indexicality, It has referential content, in that it refers to the singular first person, and indexical content, in that its meaning depends on who uttered the word."

 

Mr. Peikoff made it sound a lot simpler, when Mr. Jones says "I have a cold." it translated to "Mr. Jones has a cold.", because the 'I' depends upon who says it.

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He offered a passing grade for the course to anyone that could bring in the following week a statement that was true for one person and not true for another.

 

 

If this is exactly how he framed it, then all of the "artichokes are delicious" examples should have passed the challenge. A subject change is embedded in the instructions of the challenge ("true for one person and not true for another"). Therefore, switching out one subject for another, which is what the students did, is a necessary condition of meeting the challenge he presented.

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Is the fact that "PD likes artichokes." true or false to you Robert? The fact that PD likes them, is not dependent on whether others like them or not.

 

Edited to add:

 

When PD states: "Artichokes are delicious." - tacitly, whether explicitly stated or not, is when PD experiences the flavor of artichoke, he enjoys them to such degree that he identifies them as delicious..

Edited by dream_weaver

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Fortunately, there is no money here to be gained by engaging in stupid word games based on inherently ambiguous terminology. The students that applied themselves to understanding the subject matter probably passed the logic tests given along the way.

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To be fair, the excerpt I paraphrased from the course was not what Mr. Peikoff started with. I may have lopped off important context in putting my synopsis together. I will restart from the beginning again and listen to it with this exchange in mind to see if I might have worded it better. Thanks for the feedback.

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The kindest thing to be said about it is it demonstrates the importance of semantic hygiene.

 

 

Given the fear of "absolutes", tendencies toward "pragmatism", calls for "compromises", appeals to "multiple truths" and "everything is relative", lazy skepticism and insipid subjectivism, this exercise is ALL about substance. 

 

It is a good start and I daresay an important one towards understanding objectivity of logic.

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Reidy said:

The artichoke example is a statement that is a two-place predicate underneath (a relation between a person and a food) but one-place on the surface (because it doesn't explicitly mention the person). Aristotle points this out in the Categories. Plato treated such examples as all one-place predicates and used the ensuing problems as an argument for the forms: If it's at once delicious and not so, we have a contradiction and can't rely on our senses; so we need something beyond them.

Statements relative to a person or situation are another kind that take a second look: "my name is...", "I drive a...", "she lives at...", "this is my son." I believe the technical term for these is "indexicals". Here, too, substituting a non-relative designator is straightforwardly easy to do.

Searle has some good stuff to say on this. Ill try to find it tonight. Can you point me to the place in the categories? Edited by Plasmatic

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It's really just a stupid word game based upon the inherently ambiguous nature of pronouns. It's not really a logic test at all. I think the students passed.

 

 

To be fair, the excerpt I paraphrased from the course was not what Mr. Peikoff started with. I may have lopped off important context in putting my synopsis together. I will restart from the beginning again and listen to it with this exchange in mind to see if I might have worded it better. Thanks for the feedback.

The first 30+ minutes of this Introduction to Logic series is spent laying the groundwork for why logic is a value for those seeking to understand why something is true or not. It was also tailored to an audience back in 1980 consisting primarily of individuals interested in expanding their understanding of the application of logic to thought as Ayn Rand may have applied it. What he may have prefaced his challenge with to the students was not given. It could easily have been what he presented on the ARI medium.

 

I would have to say my interest would be more along the lines of developing ones own philosophical detection skills.

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It's really just a stupid word game based upon the inherently ambiguous nature of pronouns. It's not really a logic test at all. I think the students passed.

I happen to agree.

 

It's a second-order evaluation of a person's belief, that is, someone else's belief. So of course it is true for both people. (Artichokes are delicious to A) is true for all people. (Artichokes are delicious) is true for A, false for B. But delicious is subjective in the sense that it is literally up to your opinion, not a fact. The latter statement is the one that is interesting, the former is so trivial that I wouldn't expect Peikoff to mean that.

Edited by Eiuol

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An individual shouldn't have to form an opinion of something being delicious. When they taste it, it is either an agreeable or disagreeable sensation. Why would that be an opinion as opposed to a fact?

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It's probably better to say subjective as in the artichokes being delicious is not true for everyone - nothing about the nature of man allows us to even agree that artichokes are delicious, unlike evaluating morality. That's why a food being delicious is not a criterion of a food critic. Think of it this way. (Artichokes are delicious) to A. (Artichokes are delicious to A). The parenthesis split what is evaluated. This is a problem in linguistics as well that is totally unrelated to skill in logic, so it depends on the syntax of the sentence, not its meaning as much. Maybe other languages have better grammar to distinguish how to read the artichoke sentence.

Edited by Eiuol

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An artichoke's being delicious to person X is a fact.

 

It is true. PERIOD.

 

 

An artichoke's being somehow intrinsically "delicious" absent a taster is simply not possible.

 

 

Deliciousness is not an intrinsic property of an artichoke it is more of a designation of a state of a relationship between the artichoke and any individual.

 

Conflating the invalid concept of intrinsic deliciousness and the actual relational nature of deliciousness is what may be confusing some people.

 

The existence of the relationship is factual, how the artichoke reacts with the perceptual, and "preferential taste" apparatus of an individual is a fact.  Inherent/intrinsic "deliciousness" is not.

 

 

To make a statement "implying" that "deliciousness" IS an inherent quality of things is an error.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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To answer #11: Categories 6, 5b 27 - 6a 10, where Aristotle talks about great and small, explaining that while these look like quantities (which are one-place predicates), we must, to avoid contradiction, understand them as relations (two-place).

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"Candy tastes sweet." may have been an easier approach. One can give a child a piece of candy, a bite of frosting from a cake, and a wedge of lemon. After that, cookies, banana's and other such foods impart the familiar sensation to the tongue, and by this manner are expand the number of entities that qualify as sweet.

 

"Artichokes are delicious" is usually a conclusion. As Strictly Logical points out, delicious is not an intrinsic property, but interactive, or relation quality.

 

Grammatically, Eioul points out, there may be other languages that couch this better. In English, it seems more an issue of how it is used colloquially, what should be tacit to others when used this way. So why doesn't "Artichokes are delicious" carry the same import as "Artichokes are delicious (to me.)" where another might interject "No they aren't", and face off as if they are not delicious to everyone (brushing aside the fact that they are talking to one exception to their "rule")? In the latter case, is the individual that faces off seeking agreement - i.e.; to get the person to change their mind about how they experience artichokes?

 

"Artichokes are delicious" is a conclusion that rests on unstated premises. Those who seek agreement can usually end up revealing the hidden premises. Those who do not, do not.

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Prior to reaching his pedagogical technique, he had presented the primacy of existence as the first philosophic axiom (rather than the axiomatic concepts of existence, identity and consciousness) in the section dealing with why does man need a method of validating his conclusions. Having argued this point on many occasions, I often found myself on the defensive.

 

He covers the primacy of consciousness in OPAR, but the approach he outlined here turns the tables. By declaring that existence is has primacy over consciousness, expect to be countered with “How do you know this?”, “Can you prove it?”

 

The answer here is no. Proof presupposes the primacy of existence. In requesting proof, the challenge itself has cloaked within it the notion that your belief in the primacy of existence is not sufficient. If proof is requested, question “Why is the belief in the primacy of existence not sufficient?”

 

If an answer could be come up with, it would have to run along the lines that “One has to have some method of validating one’s beliefs. After all, facts are facts, independent of what anyone might think of them.” This satisfies the test of being an axiom. You have to rely on the primacy of existence even to try to deny it.

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What Dr. Peikoff had offered an A for in the course, is if the student could provide a sentence that was true for some, and not true for others.

 

One of the examples he used was "Some men like spinach", which is equally true the men who like spinach as it is for the men who do not.

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Clearly when you state :

 

X is true, modifier

 

If the modifier clarifies or contextualizes X, it is serving to identify the fact which is purported to be true. 

 

If the modifier attempts to change the meaning of "true", to something irrational, mystical etc. then the statement is invalid.

 

 

If anyone got an A in LP's class he did not earn it by finding an example of a "FACT X is true, for me which FACT is not true for you." precisely because this form of modifier "for you" versus "for me" is one which attempts to modify the meaning of "truth" as such by attempting to divorce FACTS from truth and insert consciousness.  It is attempting to make reality itself, subjective.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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And for the "philosophical detective", that is the clue, usually the smoking gun, depending on the context of it's usage.

 

The section dealing with "Why does man need any such method at all?" rested on a metaphysical and an epistemological combined foundation. As you identified, the attempt to make reality itself, subjective, is the subjective attack on the metaphysical side. The mystical attack is on the epistemological end of the bargain package.

 

Edited: removed, added

Edited by dream_weaver

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