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"How do I know I'm not in the matrix?"

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9 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

So an arbitrary statement is a species of statements..

 

9 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

The statement IS the only existent, it has no referent in reality (none that can be identified according to evidence).


Agreed, ultimately, "arbitrary" is going to be of the genus "nothing".
Isn't that what it refers to?
The concept "Arbitrary" since it has no metaphysical manifestation, for instance, is in fact "nothing".
Some arbitrary statements are simple contradictions easily identifiable. They resolve to nothing/the null set.
But similar to "nothing", "arbitrary" is also of the genus "concept".
What kind of a concept?
Would it fit in within the same classification as "infinity", "nothing", "imaginary number"?
This is the class of concept where epistemologically, it is valid (so it exists epistemologically?) but metaphysically none existent.
"Arbitrary" is a placeholder for nothing in particular (metaphysically).
But the whole exercise of understanding it is to be able to become able to identify so I (we) do not allow trash, or worse (epistemological poison) to enter our minds.
Like agonizing over if "everytime you sneeze a baby in another word dies". Years and years of that, because you let it in your mind!

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I like where you going with your thoughts on this.  

If you are searching for a wider principle in which the arbitrary fits, I think it is an instance of judging purported knowledge or statements purporting to refer to reality based on thinking carefully about all the evidence available to you and according to that judgment giving that statement and its purported referent appropriate weight in your knowledge structure. 

In the case there is no evidence you label it arbitrary and sweep it from your mind ... but you should still probably remember that it was stated and by whom.

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21 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

I understand that I should ignore an arbitrary statement.
But I am concerned about being too quick to judge something as arbitrary.   

Knowledge, in the philosophical sense, is always personal.  I have knowledge, you have knowledge, but the stuff you or I put on paper to represent what we know is not knowledge.  It is merely a representation of our knowledge.  A statement, put on paper, is not, for the purposes of this discussion, true or false.  It's not even a statement; it's just marks on paper.

So, when I say that such and such a statement is arbitrary, I am engaging in a short-hand.  What I mean is that, that statement, as held by some particular person, is arbitrary -- is held, not as a rational conclusion from percepts, but as a mere concatenation of symbols.  But in another person's mind, the exact same sequence of symbols might be a truth, a falsity, a possibility.  For that matter, a statement might start out in your mind as an arbitrary assertion and then, as you investigate, become a statement about which you can ask truth questions.  For that matter, a statement could start out as not arbitrary, arrived at by an undetected error and, once the error has been detected, be demoted to the arbitrary.

Arbitrariness is not, strictly speaking, a property of statements.  It is a property of statements within some person's context of knowledge.  It is a relationship, or rather the lack of a one, between the statement and the context.

This does not mean that you should always ignore an arbitrary statement.  But what it does mean is that, before you do any reasoning with an arbitrary statement, you must relate it to your context.  So if you find some particularly intriguing statement, "We are in the matrix", say, you may, if you choose, look for some evidence that would allow you to consider the statement's truth.  If you find it, the statement is no longer arbitrary and you may reason with it.  If you don't, it remains arbitrary, and any sort of reasoning, even asking about possibility, is an error.

Where you draw the line is largely up to you.  There's no point in investigating statements about unicorns and other such absurdities, but checking out other arbitrary statements might prove of value, even if only as intellectual exercise.

One thing to keep in mind.  When someone makes a statement that you can't relate to your context and is thus arbitrary and which requires you to reach a contradiction should you use the methods of reason with the statement, it's a good idea to require of the statement's proponent that he provide some evidence to support the statement.  Otherwise you're likely to waste a lot of time on drivel.

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On 6/20/2018 at 11:36 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

I think there is a strong distinction between the arbitrary and the meaningless.

Agreed. And yet somehow, an arbitrary statement or thought should ultimately be judged as meaningless.

Let us say square shapes go on a canvas, each one is below, above, left or right etc. of another.
Each new square comes in with an instruction, above that one, or left of this one etc.
Then someone asks, "put this new square with no relationship to the others".
I don't think its volitional, it is not that I will refuse, I simply can't do it.

That new square would be an example of arbitrary, defined as has no relationship to anything else.

Now, as a conversational rule of hygiene, the rule can be, "such a square is arbitrary, simply ignore it".
But that rule seems to be innate, it is in the nervous system. (you can sense that "it does not make sense, it can't fit")
In this case, we are protected before an epistemological rule is developed consciously.

If someone tells you to search in the canvas (mind), try to find such unrelatable squares, you can't even find them.
I don't think one can access something in the mind that has no (none) relation to anything else.
"Here is x, it has no cause and it has no effect, it is indistinguishable from anything"
Try to find one of those in your mind.

So arbitrary can't ONLY mean, no relationship at all to anything that you know.
I agree that "arbitrary" is missing a certain type of relationship to what you know, but I am hoping to fine an easier way to identify it.
Currently, too many hoops to jump and they are too confusing otherwise people would catch these things.
 

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14 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

Arbitrariness is not, strictly speaking, a property of statements.  It is a property of statements within some person's context of knowledge.  It is a relationship, or rather the lack of a one, between the statement and the context.

This does not mean that you should always ignore an arbitrary statement. 

Yes, and isn't that what makes the subjective version of "imaginable" applicable when identifying the "arbitrary"
I currently agree with you that one should not always ignore arbitrary statements (with my current knowledge).
But I do hold it possible that I don't understand "arbitrary" because Peikoff is clear about ignoring them.

Let us say there is an arbitrary statement lodged, in my mind. I unleash the Objectivist Epistemological Antibodies to find and destroy them.
If I understood and applied the principles and how to deal with "arbitrary statements", they will find none.
(unless we are capable of making arbitrary statements to our selves)
So once in a while, I did not "ignore" and one got in.

Would you say an arbitrary statement, once incorporated as a thought, later turns into a "floating abstraction"? 
Is the antibody looking for floating abstractions?
 

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8 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Agreed. And yet somehow, an arbitrary statement or thought should ultimately be judged as meaningless.

Let us say square shapes go on a canvas, each one is below, above, left or right etc. of another.
Each new square comes in with an instruction, above that one, or left of this one etc.
Then someone asks, "put this new square with no relationship to the others".
I don't think its volitional, it is not that I will refuse, I simply can't do it.

That new square would be an example of arbitrary, defined as has no relationship to anything else.

Now, as a conversational rule of hygiene, the rule can be, "such a square is arbitrary, simply ignore it".
But that rule seems to be innate, it is in the nervous system. (you can sense that "it does not make sense, it can't fit")
In this case, we are protected before an epistemological rule is developed consciously.

If someone tells you to search in the canvas (mind), try to find such unrelatable squares, you can't even find them.
I don't think one can access something in the mind that has no (none) relation to anything else.
"Here is x, it has no cause and it has no effect, it is indistinguishable from anything"
Try to find one of those in your mind.

So arbitrary can't ONLY mean, no relationship at all to anything that you know.
I agree that "arbitrary" is missing a certain type of relationship to what you know, but I am hoping to fine an easier way to identify it.
Currently, too many hoops to jump and they are too confusing otherwise people would catch these things.
 

I sense you still having some difficulty with the concept of "the arbitrary".  ... and my last post did not seem to help.

I think it might help to do some concretization in your process of "chewing" (which process is explained by Leonard Peikoff in Understanding Objectivism... which is incredibly important work IMHO as it is one of the few works which explicitly lays out the important dangers posed by rationalism in thinking ).. as it seems you are stuck in the realm of abstraction (or leaning towards that end).

Can you think of and hold in your mind a number of concretes (examples of statements you might hear or read) which fall within the concept of arbitrary, and make them real?  Imagine hearing the statement, imagine your process of judging the statement based on all evidence and knowledge, and determining it to have no basis whatever, and then throwing it out.  Can you think of a number of concrete statements which you may hear or read but which are not arbitrary, i.e. when you judge them you can determine there is some (even tenuous) non-zero evidence, a shred perhaps, connected with your validly formed knowledge of reality.  Imagine then understanding your serious doubts, your skepticism, your understanding that although extremely unlikely, the statement is not arbitrary, and remains in your mind with very little weight (which by the way could easily turn into something arbitrary ... by the elimination of that "shred" upon which it depends)?

With your understanding of these concretes, does this help in your conceptualization of what makes a statement or the idea it represents arbitrary?  What more do you need?

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/arbitrary.html

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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8 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Would you say an arbitrary statement, once incorporated as a thought, later turns into a "floating abstraction"? 
Is the antibody looking for floating abstractions?

There is a distinction to be made between a floating abstraction and the arbitrary. 

You can arrive at a floating abstraction in your mind, without accepting any arbitrary statements, by accepting statements without judgment, or holding concepts before you have tied them to reality.

E.g. Someone first introduces you to "justice" before you have the conceptual framework or experience for you to fit it into your hierarchy of concepts.  As a word, a part of the language, you keep a tenuous hold on it in the framework of semantics, without really understanding (before validly forming) a concept of justice.  So you speak with other people using the word "justice"... perhaps accept what other say about "justice" and what it means and how it relates to other concepts, but until you go through the exercise of thinking, and until your concept finally has some attachment to a part of your (valid) knowledge, it remains "floating".  Holding a concept as floating temporarily is not necessarily a vice... sometimes it is a necessary stage, prior to your integration of it.  Rationally you "should" (according to prioritization of time, effort, and your value hierarchy etc.) decide how important the concept is to your life, and if it is important, to undergo the process of thinking required to anchor it to knowledge.

Observe the statement about "justice" might not have been arbitrary, indeed it could have been true.  Suppose, having never really thought of politics or even ethics, you heard it directly from, say Leonard Peikoff, and your closest family and trusted friends, all of whom told you they thought very long and hard about it, and even provided you with an explanation tied to reality, which, unfortunately you could not fully understand... yet.  You can see some basis but cannot form all the connections. You also have independently judged the quality of thought of these people based on other claims they have made.  Here there is at least some evidence for the statement, i.e. that it is not arbitrary, and sweeping it from your mind would be a mistake.  [[If you insist on personally re-investigating the sum of human knowledge in every minute detail ALL THE TIME, and expecting omniscience for validating knowledge, you would never take any medication, step on any plane, or do anything which involved ANY INFINITESIMAL LEVEL of dependence or trust on others knowledge of reality.  Rational trust in something someone says is not blind faith in a statement which is arbitrary, but an assessment of everything you know about, reality, the person, and what they have said]]  Here, the concept "justice" could be a floating abstraction for a time, but with the kinds of non-arbitrary statements of Peikoff, you could start thinking about it, chewing and building the ladder of abstractions connecting justice to reality until the concept is no longer floating. 

In the final equation the hierarchy of knowledge is yours, thinking is something you do by yourself, and the knowledge you build must be built by your own mind.

 

In a sense, a floating abstraction is not (yet?) a validly formed concept (contextually for you), but there is enough evidence not to dismiss it altogether...i.e. that although you have not yet gone through the process of conceptualization and integration, there is some indication or evidence that it is a valid concept capable of integration.  Of course you might conclude after enough thought and weighing of evidence that a floating abstraction is actually an invalid and arbitrary concept.

The arbitrary is not so much a floating abstraction as an invalid concept, a concept for which no evidence exists, i.e. which was reached entirely arbitrarily.  This bespeaks Rand's genius in her naming of it.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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5 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I think it might help to do some concretization in your process of "chewing" (which process is explained by Leonard Peikoff in Understanding Objectivism... which is incredibly important work IMHO as it is one of the few works which explicitly lays out the important dangers posed by rationalism in thinking ).. as it seems you are stuck in the realm of abstraction (or leaning towards that end).

 

I think I have some understanding, but not enough for me to identify it immediately.

Here is some of my chewing going on:

Easily identifiable Arbitrary (impossible due to contradiction) (to be permanently ignored)

I used Hot Ice on my wound
A tree won the marathon
My dog is a communist agent
Hamburgers cause global warming
There is another "everything" that you don't know about
The same exact thing can be different, even at the same time and in the same way

Imaginable (to me) with no indication and unverifiable (to be permanently ignored)

I saw an angel when I was 42 and it caused me to change my career
I know someone who says I saw God many years ago
Every time you blink, a new blade of grass is born
Everything we know is simply a simulation ...  (there is a variation below)
There is a person behind you that only you could see, but if you look back, he disappears.
If you look carefully in the mirror, you, and you alone, can see your spirit grow
Every time you exhale, someone asks a question in the world.

This category is the hardest - it seems tentatively arbitrary?-
Imaginable with no indication but verifiable (to be true or false) (given time)

Everything we know could simply be a simulation (the variation)
Pegasus (flying horse)
black swan
9-11 was caused by the United States
The Iraq war due to weapons of mass destruction (arbitrary?) or (arbitrary in hindsight)
There are 1,584,634 hairs on your body
UFO sightings or contact
 

 

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On average there are 850 grass plants per square foot of grassland.  There are 52.5 million square kilometers of grassland in the world. OR 4.8x10^17 grass plants assuming out of 365 days of the year that grass (at each place on the planet having different seasons) is going to seed for only 1 day (gross underestimate), there are  1.3x10^15 plants going to seed today (or after having gone to seed a requisite number of days ago the seed is now ready to germinate).  Assuming only one seed per plant, and only 1 plant per hundred goes to seed, an average of 1.3x10^13 seeds will germinate in a day (at 100% germination rate)).  Assuming also only 1 seed per 100 germinates, there is an average germination rate of 1.3x10^11 seeds per day or 1.5x10^6 seeds germinating every second.  The average time for a human to blink is about 300 to 400 ms.  ON average, in that time 527,000 seeds will germinate.

If you have ever planted grass you will know that more than one plant per 100 goes to seed, more than one seed per 100 germinates, and grass goes to seed more than 1 day out of 365 in almost any climate grass grows.

Why was the statement "every time you blink a new blade of grass is born" arbitrary? 

There IS an awful a lot of grass in the world, no?

 

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13 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Yes, and isn't that what makes the subjective version of "imaginable" applicable when identifying the "arbitrary"

No.  So long as a statement is arbitrary, "imaginable" -- other than in a fictive sense -- is not relevant.  It's a category mistake.  The only thing you can do with an arbitrary statement is to find something, some relationship to your context of knowledge, that makes the statement non-arbitrary.  Only then can you properly talk about whether the thing is imaginable or possible.

13 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

But I do hold it possible that I don't understand "arbitrary" because Peikoff is clear about ignoring them.

I'd say that if someone brings an arbitrary statement into a discussion, you should ignore it.  I'm pretty sure that that's what Peikoff meant.  But this doesn't mean that you must ignore them in every possible circumstance.  You may, as I suggested earlier, look for something that makes the statement non-arbitrary. 

13 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Would you say an arbitrary statement, once incorporated as a thought, later turns into a "floating abstraction"? 

"Arbitrary" applies to statements; "floating abstractions" to concepts.  What they have in common is that neither has a relationship to one's context of knowledge.

I note that SL suggests a gradation of "floating" in floating abstractions.  There's a similar gradation in "arbitrary".  The distinction here is between abstract classification and practical thinking.  A statement is either arbitrary or it is not, a concept is either a floating abstraction or it is not.  But you may not know which without thinking about it.  So, in that sense, you can legitimately work with arbitrary statements or floating abstractions and even treat them temporarily as legitimate.  But only to ascertain their relationship, if any, to your context of knowledge.

 

 

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No Pegasus has ever been documented, either alive or dead or in fossilized form.

No mammal has feathers.  It is not in the nature of a mammal to have them.

No birds have hair or teeth.  It is not in the nature of birds to have either of these (although they do have wings).

No living land vertebrate, including mammals, reptiles, and birds, has more than 4 limbs.  It is the nature of mammals AND birds to have only 4 limbs.

 

A Pegasus is "imaginable" is it? If so HOW and why not a tree winning a marathon?

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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28 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

A Pegasus is "imaginable" is it? If so HOW and why not a tree winning a marathon?

Okay, I can see "imaginable" as not helping with identification of arbitrary.

But would you agree that "unimaginable" would be a gradation of arbitrary?

38 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

"Arbitrary" applies to statements; "floating abstractions" to concepts.  What they have in common is that neither has a relationship to one's context of knowledge.

One thing that is clear now is that in fact "arbitrary" applies to statements (as in part of conversation, writing etc). I was trying to confirm that differentiation.

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It may be useful to look at some more arbitrary statements which might actually be true: “Easy Truth has red hair”; “StrictlyLogical is 6 ft. tall”, “Invictus2017 owns a Ford Explorer”. Each of these statements does, on linguistic grounds, either describe a fact, or else it describes a non-fact – they are objectively true or false. But I personally have no basis in knowledge for making those statements, and they do not contitute the recognition of a fact of reality. They differ from Peikoff’s parrot or sand message examples where there is no proposition (the thing you see or hear merely physically resembles what could be speech or writing in another context). His savage math example needs to be modified since it is unclear what his point is, so I’ll rewrite that as an illiterate and innumerate person uttering the sentence “the fourth power of 3 is 81” (you can say this based on experience, without understanding what it means, since in English, you can put words like “second, fourth” before “power” and follow that with another number). This statement too is arbitrary, and in that context it is like the parrot utterance in that the person utters the word “power” without grasping what that term refers to. In fact, I would not even call the sand / parrot / savage math examples “statements”.

So compare my examples to Peikoff’s “soul survives”, “fate determined by date of birth”, “sixth sense” and “convention of gremlins”. In those examples, the arbitrariness of the statement largely depends on the fact that the statements presuppose the existence of entities for which there is no evidence. In my examples, all of the concepts involved do unquestionably exist: I just made up relations between actual existents, without any factual basis for claiming those relationships. Arbitrary statements are not necessarily utterly devoid of relationship to reality, because they can refer to actual existents and invoke no mythical entities.

In How we know, Binswanger has an extended analysis of “arbitrary”, which you may find clarifies the nature of the arbitrary.

Quote

The term “arbitrary” does not refer merely to a state of ignorance but to ignorance taken as an epistemological license, as if the ability to imagine something made it cognitive. “Arbitrary” means: put forward on the premise that evidence is unnecessary, that one can assert anything one has dreamed up, and that this assertion stands until and unless it is refuted. An arbitrary assertion is one made in defiance of the need for such a thing as evidence. As such, it represents an assault on logic and cannot be countenanced.

"Global warming" (which is nowadays not even a statement, it's just a noun phrase assumed to represent some statement), is an example of the arbitrary: it is asserted as self-evident, needing no evidence.

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3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Okay, I can see "imaginable" as not helping with identification of arbitrary.

But would you agree that "unimaginable" would be a gradation of arbitrary?

One thing that is clear now is that in fact "arbitrary" applies to statements (as in part of conversation, writing etc). I was trying to confirm that differentiation.

One can form an invalid and arbitrary concept based on an arbitrary statement... that invalid concept itself is not a statement but is still arbitrary.  Your goal is to avoid making the mistake of forming such an arbitrary and invalid concept on the basis of an arbitrary statement by recognizing the statement and the purported concept it represents are arbitrary.

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40 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Your goal is to avoid making the mistake of forming such an arbitrary and invalid concept on the basis of an arbitrary statement by recognizing the statement and the purported concept it represents are arbitrary.

Yes, exactly.

41 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

One can form an invalid and arbitrary concept based on an arbitrary statement... that invalid concept itself is not a statement but is still arbitrary.

Invalid concept yes, but an arbitrary concept, no. Based on this discussion I don't think there is such a thing as an arbitrary concept. My understanding is that arbitrariness only applies to a statement. And as we have gone through this exploration, I believe in our context, it can be refined to applying only to "statements of fact". 

For instance, the rejection (ignore) recommended due to "arbitrariness" would probably not apply to "comical statements".

Also, searching through your mind, you might be able to find an invalid concept, but you won't be able to find an arbitrary one. I don't think you or anyone purposefully inserts something with no connection to any of their knowledge.

Although maybe "memorization" would fit that situation, not sure.

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20 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Yes, exactly.

Invalid concept yes, but an arbitrary concept, no. Based on this discussion I don't think there is such a thing as an arbitrary concept. My understanding is that arbitrariness only applies to a statement. And as we have gone through this exploration, I believe in our context, it can be refined to applying only to "statements of fact". 

For instance, the rejection (ignore) recommended due to "arbitrariness" would probably not apply to "comical statements".

Also, searching through your mind, you might be able to find an invalid concept, but you won't be able to find an arbitrary one. I don't think you or anyone purposefully inserts something with no connection to any of their knowledge.

Although maybe "memorization" would fit that situation, not sure.

What of the concept of an omnipotent omniscient God?  Is it not as arbitrary as a statement referring to the same?

In what sense could a statement be more arbitrary than the very concept to which it refers?

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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5 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

What of the concept of an omnipotent omniscient God?  Is it not as arbitrary as a statement referring to the same?

In what sense could a statement be more arbitrary than the very concept to which it refers?

 

How is that arbitrary?
If you are saying that it is arbitrary because its existence is untrue, remember arbitrary is neither true nor false.
It is arbitrary only AS LONG AS no evidence was intentionally forthcoming within a cycle.
How can a concept neither be true or false?
You will only be able to make the case that it is arbitrary as part of a communication cycle.

A concept "was arbitrarily arrived at", is meaningful, an "arbitrary concept" is not.
No concept has the history of how it was arrived at embedded in it, per definition. (inclusion of the history of its development is not a requirement for concept-ness)

In our context, "arbitrary" is being used to denote the property of a claim, not a property of a concept.
An arbitrary "statement" or "claim" is necessarily part of a sequence/cycle/process.
A concept, on the other hand, is the result of the end of the sequence/cycle/process.
The property (arbitrary) can appear and disappear depending on where in the communication you are. As more evidence comes in, it may change to true or false.
The communication cycle is necessary for the changeability to exist.
On the other hand, a "concept" is what it is, it is not moving toward validation like an arbitrary statement.

There is also the less important semantic issue:
Arbitrarily means not going by the rules.
If one did not go by the rules, they produced something arbitrarily, not an arbitrary something.

It would be like saying :
An arbitrary shoe.
An arbitrary cat.
An arbitrary motorcycle.
The context is not clear.
Immediately the question is "in what sense".

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41 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

How is that arbitrary?
If you are saying that it is arbitrary because its existence is untrue, remember arbitrary is neither true nor false.
It is arbitrary only AS LONG AS no evidence was intentionally forthcoming within a cycle.
How can a concept neither be true or false?
You will only be able to make the case that it is arbitrary as part of a communication cycle.

A concept "was arbitrarily arrived at", is meaningful, an "arbitrary concept" is not.
No concept has the history of how it was arrived at embedded in it, per definition. (inclusion of the history of its development is not a requirement for concept-ness)

In our context, "arbitrary" is being used to denote the property of a claim, not a property of a concept.
An arbitrary "statement" or "claim" is necessarily part of a sequence/cycle/process.
A concept, on the other hand, is the result of the end of the sequence/cycle/process.
The property (arbitrary) can appear and disappear depending on where in the communication you are. As more evidence comes in, it may change to true or false.
The communication cycle is necessary for the changeability to exist.
On the other hand, a "concept" is what it is, it is not moving toward validation like an arbitrary statement.

There is also the less important semantic issue:
Arbitrarily means not going by the rules.
If one did not go by the rules, they produced something arbitrarily, not an arbitrary something.

It would be like saying :
An arbitrary shoe.
An arbitrary cat.
An arbitrary motorcycle.
The context is not clear.
Immediately the question is "in what sense".

I'm not sure what to make of any of that...

my specific questions were completely ignored and I have no idea why.

and the rambling "answer" seems ... i just can't make any sense of it...

I thought we were making progress and reaching a sort of common understanding then ... ish de triddle de gloop gloop... we are no longer having the same conversation.

 

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7 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I thought we were making progress and reaching a sort of common understanding then ... ish de triddle de gloop gloop... we are no longer having the same conversation.

Unfortunately, it is not the first time.

I think I could identify when a person makes an arbitrary statement, "they have no basis in what they are saying".

But when I hear a "concept" within my mind, I can't imagine anything purposefully having no basis.

That is as succinct as I can make it.

We can let it go.

 

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3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Unfortunately, it is not the first time.

I think I could identify when a person makes an arbitrary statement, "they have no basis in what they are saying".

But when I hear a "concept" within my mind, I can't imagine anything purposefully having no basis.

That is as succinct as I can make it.

We can let it go.

 

Back to concretes, do you think seriously religious people have a concept of an omniscient omnipotent God?  You can call it an invalid concept but you cannot deny the concept altogether.

As for the "arbitrariness" of a statement or a concept, it means that it has no basis in evidence.  That a statement IS arbitrary does mean it's letters and words and syntax are random shifting or chaotic , it has identity as a statement. It was formed absent any evidence and an arbitrary concept is an invalid concept formed without an evidentiary basis ... evasion helps...

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19 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

But would you agree that "unimaginable" would be a gradation of arbitrary?

Unless you're talking fictive imagination, you can't say that an arbitrary statement is imaginable or unimaginable.  Either way, doing so is a category mistake.  To repeat myself: Until you've related a statement to your context of knowledge, the only legitimate reasoning you can do in relationship to it is to try to form that relationship.

 

 

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18 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

In How we know, Binswanger has an extended analysis of “arbitrary”, which you may find clarifies the nature of the arbitrary.

That's a different kind of "arbitrary" than I've been talking about.  One might distinguish them as "epistemological" and "rhetorical" arbitrary.  The former indicates statements that an individual has not related to his context of knowledge; the latter to statements that others insist one must accept without examination.

18 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

"Global warming" (which is nowadays not even a statement, it's just a noun phrase assumed to represent some statement), is an example of the arbitrary: it is asserted as self-evident, needing no evidence.

This illustrates my point.  There is a species of leftists who simply assume that there is such a thing as global warming and demand that others do too.  That's one kind of arbitrary, and one may safely ignore their demand.

On the other hand, it is a perfectly legitimate physics question to ask whether the total energy in the biosphere is changing, and even to use "global warming" to refer to an increase in that energy.  There is, after all, some evidence that this total is increasing, so this sense of "global warming" is not arbitrary.

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15 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Invalid concept yes, but an arbitrary concept, no. Based on this discussion I don't think there is such a thing as an arbitrary concept. My understanding is that arbitrariness only applies to a statement. And as we have gone through this exploration, I believe in our context, it can be refined to applying only to "statements of fact".

You can, if you wish, call a floating abstraction an arbitrary concept, without doing violence to either term.  "Arbitrary" in the epistemological sense means, basically, "I just made it up", and can reasonably be applied to concepts as well as statements.  But the standard vocabulary is "floating abstraction" and there is no strong reason to confuse matters by saying "arbitrary concept" instead.

15 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Also, searching through your mind, you might be able to find an invalid concept, but you won't be able to find an arbitrary one. I don't think you or anyone purposefully inserts something with no connection to any of their knowledge.

It's not "no connection", which is an impossibility.  Everything you are conscious of, including floating abstractions, reflects some aspect of reality; otherwise, you could not be conscious of it.  What makes a statement non-arbitrary or a concept not a floating abstraction is that you followed a rational (but not necessarily correct) process to arrive at it.That process constitutes the connection to reality that makes something non-arbitrary.

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15 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

In what sense could a statement be more arbitrary than the very concept to which it refers?

If a concept is a floating abstraction, any statement that makes use of it is necessarily arbitrary.  More generally, once you use the arbitrary in any purported process of reasoning, all of the products of your reasoning from that arbitrary are arbitrary.

Or, to put it simply: Once you just make up stuff, everything you base on that stuff is just made up too.

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