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Math, Language, and Logic - Metaphysics or Epistemology

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THIS IS A POST I MADE IN A PHYSICS THREAD.  IT WAS OFF TOPIC SO I MOVED IT HERE AS A NEW OP.  MOVING  IT WILL, HOPEFULLY MAKE IT AVAILABLE TO PEOPLE WITH INTEREST IN THE EPISTEMOLOGICAL ISSUES IT EXAMINES.  THE ORIGINAL THREAD QUESTIONED THE CONTRADICTIONS BETWEEN ARISTOTELIAN METAPHYSICS AND CURRENT IDEAS IN QUANTUM MECHANICS.

 

I like this recognition that human reason has created technology that extends our sense capability - electron microscopes, colliders, etc.  It seems, though, that many physicists treat mathematics as if it had its own, independent, existence, something other than a measurement tool created by human cognition.  Confirmation of an idea in physics, by the calculus, seems to be treated as proof and conclusion, rather than data to confirm indirect observation.???  It's like these scientists are treating mathematics like analyst philosophy descendants of Russell, people like Chomsky, treat language, or the logical analysis philosophy branch treats logic.

 

Sorry this is off topic (that I started). If moderators want to move this post to a separate thread, I agree.  Too many scientists and philosophers seem to treat mathematics, language, and logic as aspects of metaphysics, rather than the products of human cognition in the category of epistemology.  The food of skeptics is scientists who speculate conclusions based on incomplete data and philosophers who speculate based on lack of scientific conclusions.    

 

One of the great intelligent ideas in Objectivism is the idea of hierarchy of knowledge in concept formation carried over to the areas of scientific and philosophical investigation.  Define your knowledge on what you know so that your concepts will always be true given the extent of your current knowledge.  Then, as new knowledge becomes available, your concepts are not negated, but expanded - the old conclusions are still true, and the new knowledge is an addition that does not contradict the old.  Cognitive discovery is not omniscient, nor infallible, it is hierarchical.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Confusing the map for the territory is very common.  The intellectual sandbox many play in is often one of word games, math games, pushing little symbols around and seeing what happens.  These symbols and arenas of activity become reified, they take on a platonic realism in one's mind due to the sheer amount of time one thinks of them as externalities whose referents and the reality thereof are often simply not considered day-to-day. 

 

It is an understandable error, one which I can relate to but one which is not acceptable. 

 

All one needs to do, and I think you cover this well in your last paragraph, is to ensure there is no confusion concepts and abstractions whose ultimate referents are entities or attributes of entities in reality, with the entities and attributes themselves.

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Yes, it is understandable to confuse epistemological method with metaphysical (or epistemological) subjects.  You get so tied up in the method you work so closely with, that you can confuse it with the study content.  I have come to think that is what many philosophers are doing with language and logic - and many physicists are doing with calculus.  These tools are not the subject or the proof of ideas - they are a cognitive tool used to arrive at a truth.

 

When a physicist tells me the math shows that the electron (?an object?) exists in multiple locations at the same instant, I say the math may be correct, but the answer you trust doesn't say what you think - ask yourself if the object (an electron) is, in fact, an existent, or is it an identity or even a process subject to the laws of cause and effect. 

 

The corollary idea in the philosophy of language or logic is even easier.  No philosopher who accepts some primacy in language or logic, and then goes on to base principles on these cognitive tools, has any knowledge of the epistemology of concept formation.  This entire field of philosophy is based on a lack of knowledge concerning human cognition and the facts of abstraction and concept formation.

 

The most amazing thing to me about Ms. Rand is not the virtue of selfishness, though I get that.  It is the truths she discovered in human cognition - the nature of abstraction in its ability in mathematical units and concept formation.  This stuff is a big deal.  And almost no one noticed.  It's like Rene Descartes, who?  Ms. Rand described the process of concept formation in epistemology and the culture wants to argue about selfishness or atheism.

Edited by jacassidy2
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Jack said:

One of the great intelligent ideas in Objectivism is the idea of hierarchy of knowledge in concept formation carried over to the areas of scientific and philosophical investigation. Define your knowledge on what you know so that your concepts will always be true given the extent of your current knowledge. Then, as new knowledge becomes available, your concepts are not negated, but expanded - the old conclusions are still true, and the new knowledge is an addition that does not contradict the old. Cognitive discovery is not omniscient, nor infallible, it is hierarchical.

Jack, you may or may not know that part of the debate between Kellyists and Objectivists is the idea that contextual revision can meaningfully apply to philosophical truths. The understanding of the relevance of philosophical knowledge as foundational and what that entails is one of the key differences between the Kellyists and Objectivist. That issue is relevant to the notion of "modifying" Oist tenets from a higher level "discovery"....

This is important for the discussion this OP came from and its participants.

Edit: here is a link for you to evaluate.

http://www.philosophyinaction.com/blog/?p=1007

Edited by Plasmatic
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Jack said:

Jack, you may or may not know that part of the debate between Kellyists and Objectivists is the idea that contextual revision can meaningfully apply to philosophical truths. The understanding of the relevance of philosophical knowledge as foundational and what that entails is one of the key differences between the Kellyists and Objectivist. That issue is relevant to the notion of "modifying" Oist tenets from a higher level "discovery"....

This is important for the discussion this OP came from and its participants.

Edit: here is a link for you to evaluate.

http://www.philosophyinaction.com/blog/?p=1007

 

Plasmatic,

 

You and I have brushed up against these issues before over several threads.  One day (maybe today) we shall have to dive more deeply into it, because I'd really like to see it resolved between us to my satisfaction... whether that's me convincing you of something or the reverse; either would be a perfectly acceptable outcome to me, though even in expressing this desire I recognize that I'm already speaking in part to the issue at hand.  :)

 

With respect to the Diana Hsieh piece, I've stopped reading* to write this reply to you at the point where I have what I believe to be my fundamental issue:

 

So when a person does truly grasp a philosophic principle (as opposed to holding it as a floating abstraction), he need not worry that it might be overturned, revised, or qualified in the future.

 

I agree with this, as written, and I think that Diana has made her case for it.

 

However.

 

The implication seems to be that when one holds what one believes to be a "philosophic principle" as a "floating abstraction," then that person needs worry that it might be "overturned, revised, or qualified in the future."  In short, a person who mistakes a floating abstraction (or presumably some other flawed conceptualization, like an "anti-concept" or a "package-deal," whether they are all also species of floating abstraction or not) for a grounded and properly formulated philosophic principle must be/remain "open" to change.

 

Do we agree on that?

 

The difficulty then, it seems to me, is knowing when one holds to floating abstractions, or etc.  Because if I'm interpreting my own experience properly, then I don't think it's always clear to the holder of such floating abstractions that they are floating abstractions he holds.  Due to this, I think it is best policy to remain "open" in a certain sense, to "overturning, revising, qualifying," one's beliefs, as insurance against the possibility that what one mistakenly takes as a "philosophic principle" may sometimes turn out to have been a "floating abstraction" upon further examination.

 

This subject is personal for me in the following way (and I hope that this anecdote can further serve to clarify my meaning, for better or worse):

 

Before I'd read Ayn Rand, I felt certain that altruism was good and certain in the liberal politics I'd learned from my parents.  But in my "certainty," I did have a particular orientation towards knowledge, treating it largely as contextual (though I could not have described it as such).  Though I could not at the time have envisioned any reasonable argument which would have led me to overthrowing my (malformed) beliefs, more fundamentally I was oriented towards reason and knowledge in such a way that I was yet open to overthrowing them, or revising them, or qualifying them in the face of a reasonable argument.

 

And personally I'm deeply grateful for that.  If I had decided instead that my certainty in some of my beliefs was such that I could rest assured that I'd never have to take seriously any challenge to those beliefs, then I doubt that I would consider myself an Objectivist today (and I know many such people who do seem to have this orientation, and they appear to remain unmoved by Rand's arguments, and I think they are the worse for it).  If the suggestion is that I was right to be "open" before, because the beliefs I'd held were wrong, but that it is inappropriate to remain so now, because the beliefs I currently hold are correct, then I appreciate the sentiment but cannot agree with it as a policy, because I do not think that those who are wrong in some belief typically know themselves to be wrong in that belief.  Maybe this is an errant assumption on my part, but I believe that people generally consider themselves to be correct in their beliefs, even when wrong.  Thus if the "openness" I'm trying to describe has any value -- value for a person who holds floating abstractions, in that it will allow him to disabuse himself of his misconceptualization, let's say -- then it must be embraced even when a person thinks his beliefs to be correct.  Saying that we can cast this "openness" off once we decide that we are correct on some point is the exact wrong approach; it is the thing that calcifies our errors, should we make any.

 

In very short, I believe I have taken "check your premises" to heart; I don't think I'm saying more than that this requires a willingness to check one's premises in the face of apparent contradiction.  I read the opposition as saying that, "when one is certain, there is no further need to check one's premises, and thus a willingness to do so is itself in error."  But to me, this renders "check your premises" as essentially worthless, as people routinely seem to me to consider themselves to be certain in their beliefs independent of whether they're right or wrong.  I therefore think that if "check your premises" is to be meaningful and useful, then the willingness to check one's premises must be maintained even when one considers himself to be certain of those premises.

 

_________________

 

* To clarify, I've read this particular post of Diana's before, though a while back.  I'm willing to read through it again and respond more fully to it, if that would serve some current or future conversation.

Edited by DonAthos
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Wow, txs to plasmatics and donathos.  So much to think about.  I have no idea what "kellyist" means - so I will need to research.  BUT, is my original investigation, about thinkers treating cognitive tools (math, language, and logic) as if they have existence outside of human cognition, a "floating abstraction?"  Or are you agreeing that using these tools independent of the subjects they investigate is a "floating abstraction?"  Thanks for the new references.

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Don said:

 

You and I have brushed up against these issues before over several threads.  One day (maybe today) we shall have to dive more deeply into it, because I'd really like to see it resolved between us to my satisfaction... whether that's me convincing you of something or the reverse; either would be a perfectly acceptable outcome to me, though even in expressing this desire I recognize that I'm already speaking in part to the issue at hand.  :)

 

Don, I want to tell you that your post is again consistent with my previous evaluations of your intellectual honesty.  Pretty much all of the exchanges between you and I in the moderator thread is at issue in the Kellyist vs Oist debate. I have not been evading that discussion but truly dissecting the issues therein and because I have 2 issues that I know I have not achieved certainty on I have not yet returned to that thread. When I do you will see why I am now going to say that on each of those issues you seem to be in agreement with Kelly (and you are not the only one). So much so, that I am left wondering if one of the forum rules up for revision is the agreement not to promote "moral tolerationalism". Even the Kellyist have noticed the change in this forum to an environment they can support...

 

I hesitate to say all this prior to a detailed post but did so because I want you to know that I have been actively mulling over these issues and not evading or ignoring you. ( went over fact and value several times yesterday and plan to do it again at least 5x today. Then I'm on to Kelly's book.)

 

 

Don said:

 

The implication seems to be that when one holds what one believes to be a "philosophic principle" as a "floating abstraction," then that person needs worry that it might be "overturned, revised, or qualified in the future."  In short, a person who mistakes a floating abstraction (or presumably some other flawed conceptualization, like an "anti-concept" or a "package-deal," whether they are all also species of floating abstraction or not) for a grounded and properly formulated philosophic principle must be/remain "open" to change.

 

Do we agree on that?

 

The difficulty then, it seems to me, is knowing when one holds to floating abstractions, or etc.  Because if I'm interpreting my own experience properly, then I don't think it's always clear to the holder of such floating abstractions that they are floating abstractions he holds.  Due to this, I think it is best policy to remain "open" in a certain sense, to "overturning, revising, qualifying," one's beliefs, as insurance against the possibility that what one mistakenly takes as a "philosophic principle" may sometimes turn out to have been a "floating abstraction" upon further examination.

 

 

I don't think that is the implication. The implication is that if a philosophical principle is held as a floating abstraction that person will have the psychological result of worrying that "maybe I am wrong". A person who knows that a concept is floating in their mind is not the person who thinks they know that philosophical principle is true because knowledge entails a process of validation that ends in certainty (a virtuous act). A person who is not aware that a certain concept or principle is floating will not be able to say about that principle or concept, "I need to be "open" to revising this because I hold it as a floating abstraction". Likewise a person who rejects the arbitrary will not, as a principle, say," I should worry about being wrong about anything I currently think is true because I "might be wrong" ". This is precisely why Ms. Rand rejects "open-mindedness" for active-mindedness. The differentia here is exactly the rejection of the arbitrary. "Open-mindedness" is a species of arbitrary skepticism. An active minded person has nothing to worry about.

 

Having said all the above it is important to point out that on our previous exchanges on your "openmindedness" on the axioms, that, even David Kelly doesn't consider them open to revision. (they are "acontextual")

 

This is important because the issue of having truly grasped the axioms is different than arbitrary skepticism. A true grasp of the axioms makes such a worry impossible. No one who understands the axioms can doubt them. Once one understands what a contradiction is they cannot see one as a meaningful statement or possibility.

 

Don said:

Before I'd read Ayn Rand, I felt certain that altruism was good and certain in the liberal politics I'd learned from my parents.  But in my "certainty," I did have a particular orientation towards knowledge, treating it largely as contextual (though I could not have described it as such).  Though I could not at the time have envisioned any reasonable argument which would have led me to overthrowing my (malformed) beliefs, more fundamentally I was oriented towards reason and knowledge in such a way that I was yet open to overthrowing them, or revising them, or qualifying them in the face of a reasonable argument

 

I too embraced horrible premises before discovering Objectivism and also had implicit psycho-epistemic methods that enabled me to get out of them. Actually I held that reality was inherently contradictory and that it had been "proven", while also realizing that this was self refuting but did not understand how that made one of these premises necessarily wrong. It was the knowledge of the perceptual basis of meaning and validation that freed me from this circle of senseless and purposeless existence. The validation of Identity cannot be truly done without this.

 

The beautiful thing about the fact that existence has primacy is that false beliefs, even those one is ignorant of and held as certain, will be contradicted by experience and that fact eventually slaps people awake and out of ignorance of falsity in spite of their methodological faults. This is the very basis for condemning certain explicitly held beliefs as a negative evaluation of the one holding it, because at a certain point one must knowingly evade the fact that their beliefs are causing them to be slapped repeatedly up against the stone wall of reality.....

 

 

 

Its interesting to note Dr. Peikoffs recounting Ms. Rand's point about facts implying value as the person who grasps a fact had to do so through a virtuous act.  The requirements of life make complete ( as in permanent) ignorance of fact and error impossible.

 

And personally I'm deeply grateful for that.  If I had decided instead that my certainty in some of my beliefs was such that I could rest assured that I'd never have to take seriously any challenge to those beliefs, then I doubt that I would consider myself an Objectivist today (and I know many such people who do seem to have this orientation, and they appear to remain unmoved by Rand's arguments, and I think they are the worse for it).  If the suggestion is that I was right to be "open" before, because the beliefs I'd held were wrong, but that it is inappropriate to remain so now, because the beliefs I currently hold are correct, then I appreciate the sentiment but cannot agree with it as a policy, because I do not think that those who are wrong in some belief typically know themselves to be wrong in that belief.  Maybe this is an errant assumption on my part, but I believe that people generally consider themselves to be correct in their beliefs, even when wrong.  Thus if the "openness" I'm trying to describe has any value -- value for a person who holds floating abstractions, in that it will allow him to disabuse himself of his misconceptualization, let's say -- then it must be embraced even when a person thinks his beliefs to be correct.  Saying that we can cast this "openness" off once we decide that we are correct on some point is the exact wrong approach; it is the thing that calcifies our errors, should we make any.

 

In very short, I believe I have taken "check your premises" to heart; I don't think I'm saying more than that this requires a willingness to check one's premises in the face of apparent contradiction.  I read the opposition as saying that, "when one is certain, there is no further need to check one's premises, and thus a willingness to do so is itself in error."  But to me, this renders "check your premises" as essentially worthless, as people routinely seem to me to consider themselves to be certain in their beliefs independent of whether they're right or wrong.  I therefore think that if "check your premises" is to be meaningful and useful, then the willingness to check one's premises must be maintained even when one considers himself to be certain of those premises.

 

 

Again, "check your premises" is something one does with an activeminded process. One who is activeminded and has checked their premises does not worry that they might be wrong. Yet, when that same person is slapped in the face by reality they notice this and then have a reason to reevaluate some premise. But again one who grasps the axioms will not even consider them as the premises up for evaluation.

 

Have to take a break here. There is more to say and I will say more soon.

Edited by Plasmatic
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Plasmatic  Txs for the link to the article about David Kelly.  I have a lot of thinking to do, of course, I'll need to read it over and over.  I'm not sure how it relates to this thread, but I like it.  On just a first reading, I am left with a "feeling" that the authors and the people whose thoughts are being examined, are ignoring Ms. Rand's work in basic epistemology and Aristotelian based metaphysics.  Gosh, if she could have lived longer and written more about metaphysics.  So I turn to Peikoff and find a clearer (less-angry) voice  (that's an opinion).  Anyway, txs for this new avenue, for me, of investigation.

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Don, I want to tell you that your post is again consistent with my previous evaluations of your intellectual honesty.

 

Taking this to mean that you judge me as intellectually honest, I thank you for saying so and shall endeavor to live up to it.  The fact that I choose to engage you in the manner that I do (which I will not do for all) hopefully conveys my likewise esteem for your intellectual honesty.

 

I recognize that these are contentious issues we're discussing.  I think that a basic level of such mutual respect, even over disagreement, is required for profitable discussion.  Or at least it is required for my participation.  :)

 

Pretty much all of the exchanges between you and I in the moderator thread is at issue in the Kellyist vs Oist debate. I have not been evading that discussion...

 

Just to clarify, there's no concern on my part that you're "evading" anything.  Take all the time you need and respond if/when/where you see fit.

 

I don't think that is the implication. The implication is that if a philosophical principle is held as a floating abstraction that person will have the psychological result of worrying that "maybe I am wrong". A person who knows that a concept is floating in their mind is not the person who thinks they know that philosophical principle is true because knowledge entails a process of validation that ends in certainty (a virtuous act). A person who is not aware that a certain concept or principle is floating will not be able to say about that principle or concept, "I need to be "open" to revising this because I hold it as a floating abstraction". Likewise a person who rejects the arbitrary will not, as a principle, say," I should worry about being wrong about anything I currently think is true because I "might be wrong" ". This is precisely why Ms. Rand rejects "open-mindedness" for active-mindedness. The differentia here is exactly the rejection of the arbitrary. "Open-mindedness" is a species of arbitrary skepticism. An active minded person has nothing to worry about.

 

I want to try to express my meaning here more fully.  If I advocate for "arbitrary skepticism," then I either do so through mistaken language or unawares.  The term "worry" also poorly expresses me; I had chosen it to reflect the Hsieh quote, though it was a mistake to do so without commentary.

 

In an effort to clarify, then: I do not "worry" about the things I believe, and neither do I doubt them (and neither do I advocate doubt for the things you believe -- not "arbitrary" doubt, at least, though in arguing as I do, I do hope to raise certain specific doubts, for what I believe to be good reason).  For instance, I am not "worried" that Capitalism might not be a proper political philosophy, and I entertain no doubt on that score, either.  I do not suspect that I may be wrong about things; I am confident in my conclusions.

 

Yet, and as my anecdote was meant to convey, I was not worried when I ascribed to a "liberal" philosophy either, and neither did I doubt myself at that time.  It had never seriously occurred to me that "I might be wrong," until it was clear that I might be wrong, and then clear that I was wrong.

 

Whether "open" or "active" better describes the process by which I was able to entertain arguments which assailed my positions (even in the midst of the "certainty" I'd felt) -- and I agree with Rand's description of the preferred mental state being a "mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them critically," -- this is the very thing that I'm arguing ought to be preserved and promoted.  I suppose the distinction (if any exists) is that I mean to be willing to examine ideas that I consider myself already to be decided upon, in certain scenarios (of apparent contradiction); I hold this to be the very meaning of "check your premises."  Am I wrong about that?

 

Having said all the above it is important to point out that on our previous exchanges on your "openmindedness" on the axioms, that, even David Kelly doesn't consider them open to revision. (they are "acontextual")

 

This is important because the issue of having truly grasped the axioms is different than arbitrary skepticism. A true grasp of the axioms makes such a worry impossible. No one who understands the axioms can doubt them. Once one understands what a contradiction is they cannot see one as a meaningful statement or possibility.

 

I don't mean this to be rude (and hope it isn't taken rudely), but it doesn't much matter to me what David Kelly thinks.

 

With respect to our earlier discussion on the axioms, I never felt as though I completely expressed myself to your understanding.  To try to arrive at "brass tacks," we have also found ourselves (not coincidentally) in discussion with respect to QM from time to time.  I don't understand QM sufficiently, and do not have the science background, to tackle the issue head on, for which I apologize.  But I take it askance when I find people appearing to dismiss certain scientific claims on the seeming basis of "disagreement with the axioms."  Scientists and their work cannot violate the axiom of identity, and scientists who believe so (or commentators or philosophers who interpret the work of scientists as to say so) are mistaken.  But neither can any philosopher, qua philosophy, dictate the rules or behavior of any scientific phenomenon, such as a quark (whatever that is and whatever it does).  That is the work of scientists to determine, whether they communicate themselves clearly to laymen or not.  And what I mean with respect to "checking one's premises," and how that relates to the axioms is thus: if an Objectivist (or anyone else) understands the axiom of identity as meaning that some quark cannot behave as the quark does, in fact, behave, then that person needs to reevaluate his understanding of the axiom of identity.

 

To further clarify, I do not mean specifically to implicate you, your understanding of the axioms, or your opinion on QM, a subject upon which I have no opinion (befitting my knowledge).  It may well be that scientists are wrong about quarks and their behaviors entirely, and I do not insist that you and I disagree on the different roles that philosophy and special sciences play.  But it is against this potential misstep that I am trying to cast my meaning, wherein a person might have a conception of some "axiomatic principle," or an application of the same, and yet be mistaken.

 

I too embraced horrible premises before discovering Objectivism and also had implicit psycho-epistemic methods that enabled me to get out of them. Actually I held that reality was inherently contradictory and that it had been "proven", while also realizing that this was self refuting but did not understand how that made one of these premises necessarily wrong. It was the knowledge of the perceptual basis of meaning and validation that freed me from this circle of senseless and purposeless existence. The validation of Identity cannot be truly done without this.

 

The beautiful thing about the fact that existence has primacy is that false beliefs, even those one is ignorant of and held as certain, will be contradicted by experience and that fact eventually slaps people awake and out of ignorance of falsity in spite of their methodological faults. This is the very basis for condemning certain explicitly held beliefs as a negative evaluation of the one holding it, because at a certain point one must knowingly evade the fact that their beliefs are causing them to be slapped repeatedly up against the stone wall of reality.....

 

Right.  But I believe that the "implicit psycho-epistemic methods" you describe are important to cultivate (if this is possible), because it does not seem to me to be the case that everyone who is "slapped" by reality yet wakes to it.  Far from it, actually.

 

And while you're laying that down as the basis for just condemnation, what I'm saying is that I believe that a particular orientation towards "certainty" functions itself as a bulwark against a person's willingness to reexamine their beliefs in the face of being slapped; that it aids and abets evasion.

 

This is the whole of what I'm arguing against, and also the reason.

 

Again, "check your premises" is something one does with an activeminded process. One who is activeminded and has checked their premises does not worry that they might be wrong. Yet, when that same person is slapped in the face by reality they notice this and then have a reason to reevaluate some premise. But again one who grasps the axioms will not even consider them as the premises up for evaluation.

 

This paragraph is near to expressing my position entire.

 

The only contention I maintain with respect to the axioms, and a person who "will not even consider them," is hopefully expressed above to your satisfaction.

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Jack said:

Plasmatic Txs for the link to the article about David Kelly. I have a lot of thinking to do, of course, I'll need to read it over and over. I'm not sure how it relates to this thread, but I like it. On just a first reading, I am left with a "feeling" that the authors and the people whose thoughts are being examined, are ignoring Ms. Rand's work in basic epistemology and Aristotelian based metaphysics. Gosh, if she could have lived longer and written more about metaphysics. So I turn to Peikoff and find a clearer (less-angry) voice (that's an opinion). Anyway, txs for this new avenue, for me, of investigation.

I brought up the subject because of its relation to your question about changing Oist metaphysics in light of so called "discoveries" in the special sciences.

By "authors" do you mean Diana Hsieh? It sounds like you think both sides are in error. What metaphysical and epistemic premises do you think are being left out in particular? When you "turned to Peikoff" do you mean what he wrote on this issue-Fact and Value?

I wonder if we've gone too far astray from the OP in this thread?

Jack said:

mathematics, language, and logic as aspects of metaphysics, rather than the products of human cognition in the category of epistemology. The food of skeptics is scientists who speculate conclusions based on incomplete data and philosophers who speculate based on lack of scientific conclusions.

More often than not the very contention is whether a particular error is a philosophical vs a special science error. I see often that folks are thinking a person is making one or the other error when that person is actually not arguing against the opposite.

I agree with you and SL that the math is solid but that most physicist have no clue what the basis for math is in concept formation, much less have the ability to speak meaningfully about their interpretations.

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Plasmatic - as to Diana Hsieh, you may be noticing my knowledge of the most current literature is almost non-existent. Filling these knowledge holes is one of my goals in exposure to this forum.  However, I really like your ideas concerning the epistemological common ground between the discipline of philosophy and the ?discoveries? of the special sciences.  If I was starting my career path over, I would be thinking and writing about the overlap of philosophy and the special sciences - the history, importance, and implications for the hierarchical basis for knowledge.  You hit the nail on the head with this observation.

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  • 3 weeks later...

When a physicist tells me the math shows that the electron (?an object?) exists in multiple locations at the same instant, I say the math may be correct, but the answer you trust doesn't say what you think - ...

Why not? You're in more than one place at a time. Your fingers and toes all occupy different areas, and they're all still part of you. If an electron does the same thing then that only contradicts the idea that they're point-particles without any volume.

I'm sure Plasmatic would know if there is any good reason, but I really don't understand how the Hell we came to accept that assumption in the first place.

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Why not? You're in more than one place at a time. Your fingers and toes all occupy different areas, and they're all still part of you. If an electron does the same thing then that only contradicts the idea that they're point-particles without any volume.

I'm sure Plasmatic would know if there is any good reason, but I really don't understand how the Hell we came to accept that assumption in the first place.

Yes, but my toe is not on my foot and my hand at the same instant, and if it went from one to the other, it would have to transit the intervening space.  Your comment addresses the essence of my point - what is an entity?

Edited by jacassidy2
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Your comment addresses the essence of my point - what is an entity?

More intelligent people than I have grappled with it, but this is the understanding I've come to.

An existent is a *thing* that exists, whether or not you're looking at it. Whether it's "a man" or "blue" or "running" or anything; if the *thing* you're talking about can remain when you walk away, it's an existent.

Some things, though, (like "blue" and "running") aren't things on their own; you can't put "blue" in a beaker and measure it; they're details we notice about other *things*. Those other things, which can be put into beakers and measured and studied, are entities.

So yes, if that's what you're driving at, you're absolutely right. I've heard some hacks, in discussing "probability waves", say that they aren't attributes of anything else; that the probabilities, themselves, are fundamental *things*.

Can you put a probability in a bottle?

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