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Heidegger

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syndicalistcat's picture
syndicalistcat
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Jan 6 2007 07:22

magidd:
"Give me please example of "existence of a reality independent of human consciousness"

A reality is independent of human consciousness, we may suppose, if it does not depend on human consciousness for its existence. The physical forces of the world do not depend on human consciousness for their existence. Had animals not come into existence, there would still have been the physical forces. Here is what you said earlier: "Fact doesn't exsist withaut us." It's not entirely clear what you mean by this, but there are many facts that humans have never become aware of, and new facts that we have yet to uncover. We have reason to believe this based on our set of very well-confirmed hypotheses about how the world is put together physically.

E.g. the existence of the sun is a fact that would have existed if humans had not existed.

As I said before, part of our reality is facts about what is possible and what is necessary. Things have all sorts of potentials or possibilities that could have been realized but weren't or that may yet be realized in the future -- the working class has the potential to liberate itself from the class system. Among these is the possibility that the sun could have existed were there no animals on earth.

t.

lem
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Jan 6 2007 07:45

Yeah, you don't seem to take anti-realism very seriously.
---------------------
I don't think that I'm a phenomenalist. I would say that the perspectives of a manifest object are inexhaustable, and in that way propositions on objects cannot be reduced to sense data.
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Most of the philosophy I have learnt is self taught in a year, so I could be wrong Magidd, but I don't think that that is how Heidegger would describe his philosophy. I mean, he's not a relativist, criteria for truth and values are not determined by Daasein's particular historical point of view.

lem
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Jan 6 2007 07:56

Hiedgger believed that the world predates us, I think.

johno
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Jan 6 2007 14:54

Ok I haven’t read Heidegger, nor have I studied philosophy. But I had a few thoughts on some of this.

syndicalistcat wrote:
A reality is independent of human consciousness, we may suppose, if it does not depend on human consciousness for its existence.

Yes that is all very fair and well, I think the point being made is that there is no way we can access to this reality outside of our conscious awareness of it. So as such, our understanding of this reality is always mediated by our subjective experience of it – this is something that we cannot transcend. Perhaps we can have more or less accurate conceptions of external reality and its forms, but as for knowing them “as they are”, I think this is impossible. The very fact of trying to conceptualise and understand these things is already a human project which is invested with certain aspirations, intentions and desires - we are speaking to, and make sense of, this external reality from a multitude of subject-positions.

You say,

syndicalistcat wrote:
E.g. the existence of the sun is a fact that would have existed if humans had not existed.

I think the fact is more that, in this example, the sun would not have existed as a meaning given object within a symbolic network (which is of course how we come to know it). In a practical sense our knowledge of the sun’s existence comes about through the ways in which it interpolates with the human project. Indeed talking of its existence before our own human existence is already transposing human concepts (say for example of being and presence) onto an area that we can only stand back and say we know nothing of, and cannot talk about as every act of doing so is already imposing a symbolic mandate, something intrinsically human, upon it. To talk of objects and existence is already to talk of concepts that are central to the subjective experience of being.

Anyway thats just some thoughts I had, I'm not wanting to take up a dogmatic position on it as I haven't really thought this fully through myself as yet...

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Jan 6 2007 15:16

There's two chapters in Adorno's Negative Dialectics about Ontology and Heidegger which I couldn't reproduce if I tried, but which make sense when you read them. They are a lot easier to read than Jargon of Authenticity anyway

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Jan 6 2007 19:14

lem: "I would say that the perspectives of a manifest object are inexhaustable, and in that way propositions on objects cannot be reduced to sense data."

well, i'm not quite sure what you're saying. Perspectival features of sensory appearing are what sense-data are supposed to be.

But nobody in perceptual psychology takes the sense-data theory of perception seriously anymore. A good thing to read here would be "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind" by Wilfrid Sellars where he critiques "The Myth of the Given". The "myth of the given" is the idea that there is somehow a more certain realm of knowledge to be found in "appearances." This is an illusion. Our actual perceptual capacity is such that sensory experience never occurs without cognitive interpretation. This is because there would be no useful biological function to "mere appearances." The function of sight is to extract information about physical things in our environment. A good discussion of this is in J.J. Gibson's book "The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception." Gibson talks about how vision is actually active, not passive, that animals explore their surroundings, with visual input and movement directly coordinated in perception.

johno: "Yes that is all very fair and well, I think the point being made is that there is no way we can access to this reality outside of our conscious awareness of it."

I think your point here is equivalent to the following: "We can't be consciously aware of things unless we are consciously aware of them."
That is a quite trivial truth of logic.

johno: "Perhaps we can have more or less accurate conceptions of external reality and its forms, but as for knowing them “as they are”, I think this is impossible."

What would it mean to "know things as they are"? if i put my cat on a scale and she weighs 13 pounds, i know she weighs 13 pounds. Isn't this a way she actualy is?

me: "E.g. the existence of the sun is a fact that would have existed if humans had not existed."

johno: "I think the fact is more that, in this example, the sun would not have existed as a meaning given object within a symbolic network (which is of course how we come to know it)."

But now you're bringing up another fact, a relational fact about the sun, it's role in human life and society. But that doesn't show that the existence of the sun is not a fact independent of human consciousness or human purposes ("the human project" as you put it).

johno: "Indeed talking of its existence before our own human existence is already transposing human concepts (say for example of being and presence) onto an area that we can only stand back and say we know nothing of, and cannot talk about as every act of doing so is already imposing a symbolic mandate, something intrinsically human, upon it."

Here I would say that we need to understand what knowing is. Humans have natural capacities to know. Our having these capacities is explainable in terms of animal evolution. They would not contribute to our survival if we were unable to know things about our surroundings.

One of the most successful and most basic human cognitive capacities -- the main way we have of knowing about, and guiding our way, in the world -- is the method of hypothesis and test. We constantly come up with ideas to explain things we experience. We do it without being aware we're using a particular inferential method. I walk outside my door and look down the block and see lights on Sami's convenience market, and infer "Sami's is still open." That's an inference to the best explanation for my current experience. I might be wrong of course. Maybe Sami closed the store but was in a hurry and forgot to turn off the lights. I can test my hypothesis by walking down the block to see if the door to the store is open.

Our capacity of making hypotheses is so engrained that it is hard-wired. The words we have for species like "cat" or "cactus" embody hypotheses. The word "cat" assumes a hypothesis that there is something in common among these furry things we encounter in virtue of which we can expect similar behaviors. Eventually it was discovered that there is a DNA design plan transmitted from parents, adn that cats share things in common thru the genetic copying process, but humans thousands of years ago came up with the shared nature hypothesis. Children learn to use this idea fully by the time they're four years old...that's why i say it's hard-wired.

Of course we can be wrong about things. But the thing about the method of hypothesis and test is that it is self-correcting. We have the ability to modify our hypotheses when additional info shows we weren't right before.

There are undoubtedly limits to this whole process. Sometimes people's judgment is distorted by powerful
desires or economic interests or whatever (consider the global warming deniers).

Now, in virtue of applying this human inferential method, of hypothesis and test, we develop an elaborate series of causal hypotheses about our world, about the various forces and structures that make it up and how they work. This contitutes knowledge about the world, at least to some approximation. This knowledge about the world warrant me in saying the sun existed before humans or animals on this planet did.

That's why I'd say you are, strictly speaking, wrong when you say we know nothing of the sun's existence before animals on earth.

t.

magidd
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Jan 6 2007 20:33
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A reality is independent of human consciousness, we may suppose, if it does not depend on human consciousness for its existence. The physical forces of the world do not depend on human consciousness for their existence.

Comment
Strange... Then scientist talking about such things they generaly use notionts like "time", "extension", "reason" ets. But there are human notions aren't them? So again: what is "physical forces of the world wich isn't dependend on human consciousness for their existence"?

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Jan 6 2007 20:50

sorry, magidd, but i have no idea what you're getting on about. if you want to know what the various physical forces are, take a look at a physics or chemistry text. forces include such things as gravity, the chemical bond, magnetism, etc.

t.

lem
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Jan 7 2007 03:38
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lem: "I would say that the perspectives of a manifest object are inexhaustable, and in that way propositions on objects cannot be reduced to sense data."

well, i'm not quite sure what you're saying. Perspectival features of sensory appearing are what sense-data are supposed to be.

You don't think that if the sense data of an object is infintely variable then that os one reason why an object cannot be reduced to propositions on sense data?

Thats just my interpretation half-way to writing an essay on phenomenology... can you say how phenomenology differs from phenomenalism - your second point was quite clear.

lem
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Jan 7 2007 03:42
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The physical forces of the world do not depend on human consciousness for their existence.

That is on the assumption that we can unproblematiccally say that physical forces exist. Again, you don't take anti-realsim very seriuously.

Incidiently "Heidegger, rather than accepting the usual forced option between realism and antirealism, advocates a realism in which he embeds the antirealist thesis that the idea of reality independent of human understanding is unintelligible." http://www.springerlink.com/content/j130562uq814407t/

lem
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Jan 7 2007 03:51

One thing I want to know from types keen on science, is how do you explain the existence of laws, and what are they?

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Jan 7 2007 04:10

lem: "You don't think that if the sense data of an object is infintely variable then that os one reason why an object cannot be reduced to propositions on sense data?"

yes, that is one of the reasons the reduction can't be carried out, but that reduces to the question of possibility.

lem: "That is on the assumption that we can unproblematiccally say that physical forces exist. Again, you don't take anti-realsim very seriuously."

the reason for taking phyiscal forces to exist is abductive (an inference to the best explanation). this is how we obtain most of our knowledge of the world around us.

Pheonomenology is not anti-realist, by the way. Husserl assumes the existence of a wide range of entities, including Platonic propositions as well as concrete situations.

lem: "One thing I want to know from types keen on science, is how do you explain the existence of laws, and what are they?"

Laws can of course be explaind as consequences of other laws. The existence of the basic laws I personally regard as constituting the nature of the physical cosmos. It's possible to regard the physical cosmos as necessarily exising, in which case its existence, and thus the existence of its nature (the basic laws) requires no explanation in anything further. Laws are generalizations of the basic capacities of things. See Cartwright on the laws of physics.

t.

lem
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Jan 7 2007 04:28
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Pheonomenology is not anti-realist, by the way. Husserl assumes the existence of a wide range of entities, including Platonic propositions as well as concrete situations.

Yes... I know... I have to re-read an essay of Merleau-Ponty on science, but I think he was anti-realist: nebulas do not really exist, they are just cultural objects.

Quote:
See Cartwright on the laws of physics.

Doesn't she think that only phenomenological laws are real, so there are no basic "laws" of the universe.

If we cannot explain the *nature* of what necessarily exists... well isn't that the original problem that explanation seeks to undo... I mean, you are treating certain facts as brute facts, aren't you? You are left with certain things that cannot be explained, its just that you dogmatically assert that they do infact exist.

lem
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Jan 7 2007 04:31
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basic capacities of things

How are the capactities of things articulated?

lem
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Jan 7 2007 04:33
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the reason for taking phyiscal forces to exist is abductive

Can you explain the abduction?

Eta:

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but that reduces to the question of possibility.

Not sure I understand what you mean.

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Jan 7 2007 04:42

lem: "Doesn't she think that only phenomenological laws are real, so there are no basic "laws" of the universe.

If we cannot explain the *nature* of what necessarily exists... well isn't that the original problem that explanation seeks to undo... I mean, you are treating certain facts as brute facts, aren't you? You are left with certain things that cannot be explained, its just that you dogmatically assert that they do infact exist."

By "phenomenological laws" do you mean things like Ohm's Law? I think she thinks the laws propounded by physicists are some sort of approximation, that the ultimate reality is actual capacities of things. I think she's right about that.

But if laws are capacities, they are possibilities. And ultimate possibilities not further explainable are what "natures" are supposed to be, as traditionally understood. If we take this seriously, then the basic laws, whatever they would be (and we constantly change our approximations) would at least point at the basic nature of the physical cosmos. But why think the physical cosmos doesn't exist by nature? I did my PhD disseration on the issue of possibility and necessity and I've come to the conclusion, after years of thinking about this, that there is no possibility other than physical possibility. If this is so, it follows that the physical cosmos exists by nature, as traditional philosophy thought that God did. So if the basic laws are trying to point to the nature of the physical cosmos, the answer is that the physical cosmos exists by nature, it is what it is and couldn't be otherwise, and that is what explains why there are laws ultimately.

I'm a materialist but I'm willing to let the Buddhism of my "ex" have its day, if you see what I mean. My grandmother, a tough garment worker, told me "'God" is just an old-fashioned word for the universe." And there's a sense in which I think she's right. Spinoza also held a view something like this.

t.

lem
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Jan 7 2007 04:58

Erm, thanks btw.

Well, the problem I have is that is seems unclear how naturalism can explain the existence and articulation of laws. I ahve sat 2 HPS modules, didn't learn much, but the lecturer wanted to explain phsyical necessity (part of what makes a law) through universals eek You are a naturalist?

Could it be argued that possibilites are not the basic state of the universe. I mean, my doubt is that, you have a few brute facts in your theory: can you show me that these are not hiding things from view that naturalism cannot explain.

Edited to make clearer.

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Jan 7 2007 05:13

lem: "the lecturer wanted to explain phsyical necessity (part of what makes a law) through universals Eek!"

I completely disagree with that approach. It's basically circular. You can't reduce modality (possibility and necessity). It's bacic.

lem: "You are a naturalist?" absolutely.

lem: "Could it be argued that there could be something more to the nature of the basic states of the unievsrse than possibilties: which we could not know with naturalism. I mean, my doubt is that, you have a few brute facts in your theory: can you show me that these are not hiding things from view that naturalism cannot explain"

well, i suppose it's a question of what explanations are. but ultimately a nature is just those possibilities of a thing that are basic, and underived from something more basic. That's what it is. See C.D. Broad's famous discussion of natures in "The Philosophy of McTaggart."

I could explain this in terms of modal logic. There is a system of modal logic called S5. A basic axiom of this system is: "Whatever is possible, is necessarily possible." This principle was first articulated in the 13th century by John Duns Scotus. I tend to think this principle is true. But then it tells us that ultimate possibilities are self-explanatory and require no further explanation.

t.

lem
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Jan 7 2007 05:28

Ok, back to the naturalism question smile How can we empirically affirm that part of a laws, nature, is that it exists (Also: isn't it part of my nature that I exist, the same for this rcck, this tree...). I'm not 100% convinved that its not just that you've squahed all the objetions to naturalism into one little proposotion, so that it seems counter-intuitive to argue against.

Can you assure me, btw, that your ideas on naturalism are not flawed in some respect? Can you recommend a anti-naturalist book: I have ordered Bhaskar's books to read over the summer before the third and final module on philosophy of science.

What is your view of the major phenomenologists/phenomenology? I was struck into reading them by the idea that pohenomenology is the most likely alternative to naturalism, after the trauma of being taught abiout universals in a module on science smile

lem
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Jan 7 2007 05:41

So, you are saying that laws are baisc, and that which is basic just is. So... I should have written "how can we empirically affirm that laws are basic". I think.

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Jan 7 2007 05:48

Bhaskar? Ugh! I have objections to him similar to the post-modernists, even tho he is a realist, like me. He's an elitist in terms of his rhetorical style. Gets in the way of clear understanding and your ability to test what he says yourself.

Ideas can always be mistaken, must always be subject to revision. That follows form taking the abductive method as basic.

Phenomenologists as alternative to naturalism? Well, it's true they claim they are inspired by Descartes and his problematic. So, i guess in that sense they are opposites of naturalists, who reject Descartes' problematic as fundamentally mistaken. There is a basic contradiction between the phenomenogicial method and Sellars' arguments against the "myth of the given." I discussed Husserl's theory at length in my dissertation, but I ultimately opted for naturalism, as you can see. I think there is the problem that human experience always involves cognitive interpretation as a component, that is, this is a problem for the phenomenologists. So there is a sense in which phenomenology is invalidated by its own method.

t.

lem
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Jan 7 2007 06:00
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There is a basic contradiction between the phenomenogicial method and Sellars' arguments against the "myth of the given." I discussed Husserl's theory at length in my dissertation but I ultimately opted for naturalism

Go on...

lem
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Jan 7 2007 10:31

confused
1. I asked the HPS lecturer whether the existence of laws can be explained. He replied that Wittgenstein said that *all* explanations have to stop somewhere. But I am still unsure if this lets naturalists off the hook. You say that laws exist through modal logic. Can we explain the existence of modal logic?
2. Doesn't Scotus' theory apply to every existing thing?
3. Can you explain... confused that the possibilties of a thing are what is most baisc about that thing? (Sorry if you have already, the point on Broad seemed like it was just a linguistic one)
4. Can you explain how possibilties are articulated?

As I understand it, naturalism takes Hume's conviction that it is psychologically impossible tot take the scpetic seriously - and runs with it. So that naturalism says that it can't explain certain things but that does not matter. I am wary if this is stretched to include all manner of things - fine if it was just one proposition.

Correct me if I've made a mistake in my summation.

lem
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Jan 7 2007 11:06

lol, always triple posting

So, you agree with naturalized epistemology: that epistemology ought to be studied with the method of empirical sciences: sounds a bit extreme to me.

Eta:

Quote:
He's an elitist in terms of his rhetorical style. Gets in the way of clear understanding and your ability to test what he says yourself.

That is a shame. Though obviously, I think it important not to forget that this does not invalidate his point.

Eta2: Been reading through my course description that they give you in year 1. It says that you will find philosophy disturbing in places. The only thing I have found disturbing was how utterly right Descartes seemed, how he seemed at_first_glance to have answered a very important qeustion: and yet that no-one takes him seriously. Naturalism can't answer important questions, and yet it celebrates that: sickening grin

Eta3: 808 posts cool

johno
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Jan 7 2007 12:07
syndicalistcat wrote:
What would it mean to "know things as they are"? if i put my cat on a scale and she weighs 13 pounds, i know she weighs 13 pounds. Isn't this a way she actualy is?

Well yes, but only within a given set of culturally shared propositions, understandings and beliefs. I really don’t know if I’m making a trivial point or not, nevertheless - I am saying that we come to know these things in a way that intersects with human purposes, which in themselves are socially and culturally determined within a particular historical period. You talk about measurement in pounds, about “my” cat – these conceptions are obviously culturally and historically specific relating to a particular episteme. (Of course in normal conversation it would be absurd to make all of these qualifications).

syndicalistcat wrote:
me wrote:
I think the fact is more that, in this example, the sun would not have existed as a meaning given object within a symbolic network (which is of course how we come to know it).

But now you're bringing up another fact, a relational fact about the sun, it's role in human life and society. But that doesn't show that the existence of the sun is not a fact independent of human consciousness or human purposes ("the human project" as you put it).

I am saying that to say something exists or to say that it doesn’t exist, here we are already using human concepts to understand the objects of interest. It can only be said that something does exists or doesn’t exist when there are humans with the cognitive capacity to make such a judgement. And for me presence and absence, attachment and separation are central components of our understanding of the world given there central role in the development of self and other. In this sense the subject understands the object in a distinctly human way and we cannot step outside of this.

...perhaps this is missing your point...

lem
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Jan 7 2007 12:22

I think you mention an interesting point that alot of phenomenologists raise. But I don't know what it is relevent to. Perhaps syndicalistcat can explain?

manouk
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Jan 7 2007 14:04

interesting thread - haven't got time to read it all now...

for lem:
I think Levinas critique of Heidegger ontological project really key - 'Ethics as First Philosophy' will prob articulate this, also maybe beginning of 'Totality and Infinity'.

For short article on the relation between Heidegger's politics and work can look at Mark Bevir 'Derrida and the Heidegger Controversy: Global Friendship Against Racism'.

lem
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Jan 7 2007 14:59

Yeah, hi. Sorry to ask so many questions, but what exactly is epistemological naturalism? Is it that the natural sciences can (sort of) justify themselves without relying on non-empirical tests to do so, or that the natural sciences can be justified. I am beginning to think that people should stop using wikipedia, as it seems so inaccurate to me at the moment.

Also, I find it strange that I was not taught about naturalism on a philosophy of science course. It was all realism/anti-realism, and will be next year too. Though I must patially divest, I have learnt some intersting things on what makes a good theory, iirc. Lecture notes, are to me, in some ways very special.

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Jan 7 2007 19:55

Okay, let me start by recommending the Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy, at:

http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html

They have an entry on Heidegger, which I've not read.

lem: "The only thing I have found disturbing was how utterly right Descartes seemed, how he seemed at_first_glance to have answered a very important qeustion: and yet that no-one takes him seriously."

Descartes totally dominated philosophy from the 17th century until about the 1960s.

The fundamental error in Descartes, IMO, is that he assumes that the only way to warrant a belief, such as in the existence of the physical world revealed in our sense perception, is thru a deductively valid argument.

An argument is deductively valid if and only if it is not possible for the conclusion to be false if all the premises are true. The truth of the premises absolutely guarantees the truth of the conclusion.

Descartes doesn' show any real appreciation of the abductive method (inference to the best explanation). Why should we be so concerned "certainty" in the way D. is? Abduction is in fact the primary inferential method for humans to acquire knoledge about the world. Deduction does come into play, as when you're seeing what follows from a hypothesis to know what to test for, to check that hypothesis. But deduction does not have the pre-eminent cognitive role that Descartes thought it did.

lem:
"I asked the HPS lecturer whether the existence of laws can be explained. He replied that Wittgenstein said that *all* explanations have to stop somewhere." Well, we can't construct an infinite sequence of explanations -- Aristotle made that point.

lem: "But I am still unsure if this lets naturalists off the hook. You say that laws exist through modal logic."

Not exactly. What I'm suggesting is that basic possibilities are necessary. Again, this is just an assertion of Scotus' principle: "Whatever is possible, is necessawrily possible."

If we think of the natures of things being constituted by their basic possibilities, as C.D. Broad suggested, then their natures will be necessary. The reason this is relevant is that we typically seek explanations for things that are contingent.

Something is contingent if it is possible that it might not occur, and possible that it will occur. Events are (as far as I know) always contingent. So we look for explanations for why the event did occur, since it was possible that it might not have occurred.

But if something is necessary, it doesn't make sense to seek an explanation for it. And I'm suggesting that the basic physical laws give sort of the nature of the physical cosmos, and in that sense do not require a futher explanation. I should point out that this is an idiosyncratic view of mine.

lem: "Can we explain the existence of modal logic?"

well, i'm not quite sure what you mean. A "logic" can be understood as a human phenomenon, like when we say that a certain scientist came up with a certain theory. Or do you mean, can we explain modality itself, the fact that somethings are contingent and some are necessary? If we take seriously the Scotist principle of the necessity of the modal, modality itself doesn't require an explanation because it is a necessary feature of the world.

Consider the fact that there are both particulars and features ("universals") in the world. Can we explain why that exists? Do we need to explain it? All of the empirical sciences assume it but don't explain it.

lem: "2. Doesn't Scotus' theory apply to every existing thing?"

Sure, but to its nature, not its existence. I suppose you could then say, well, the necessity of the basic laws could only show that the nature of the physical cosmos needs no explanation, not that its existence needs no explanation. I think one could put forward the hypothesis that the existence of the physical cosmos is necessary, and this is why it requires no further explanation.

lem: "3. Can you explain... that the possibilties of a thing are what is most baisc about that thing? (Sorry if you have already, the point on Broad seemed like it was just a linguistic one)"

I'm not saying that these are the most basic things about something, but that they are the nature of that thing, so that it would cease to have those features only if it ceased to exist. A block of metal could only lose its conductivity by ceasing to exist -- as a metallic structure, the atoms that make it up might continue to exist, but in some other configuration.

lem: "4. Can you explain how possibilties are articulated?"

I'm not quite sure what you mean. We're talking here about causal powers or capacities of things. These can be reflected in various laws, which attempt to express how certain capacities are related to behavior. Ohm's Law for example denotes a basic capacity of all pure metals and metallic alloys.

lem: "Sorry to ask so many questions, but what exactly is epistemological naturalism?"

Descartes viewed epistemology in terms of principles about what we OUGHT to believe. He treated epistemology as analogous to morality, that we have epistemic obligations.

Epistemological naturalism is more concerned with how in fact we do know things. Richard Feldman's essay here might help:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epistemology-naturalized/

me: "What would it mean to "know things as they are"? if i put my cat on a scale and she weighs 13 pounds, i know she weighs 13 pounds. Isn't this a way she actualy is?"

johno: "Well yes, but only within a given set of culturally shared propositions, understandings and beliefs."

No, the fact represented by the sentence "Lucy weighs 13 pounds" is not dependent on the existence of sentences, human beliefs or cognitive states (abstracting of course from the actual dependency of the domestic cat species on the human species -- i could have talked about the weight of something not dependent socially on humans such as a rock). The ability of the sentence to denote that fact does depend upon its human social context. So you seem to be confusing the fact and the sentence.

johno: "I am saying that we come to know these things in a way that intersects with human purposes, which in themselves are socially and culturally determined within a particular historical period. You talk about measurement in pounds, about “my” cat – these conceptions are obviously culturally and historically specific relating to a particular episteme."

The way we know things are not the same as the facts we know. That is my point.

me: "But now you're bringing up another fact, a relational fact about the sun, it's role in human life and society. But that doesn't show that the existence of the sun is not a fact independent of human consciousness or human purposes ("the human project" as you put it)."

johno: "I am saying that to say something exists or to say that it doesn’t exist, here we are already using human concepts to understand the objects of interest."

Of course. I didn't say that human sayings or human knowings are not dependent on human concepts or human interests. Which facts we show an interest in, which entities we select to have words for, these depend on human social purposes, and I say "social" because nobody runs their own language. But, again, the fact that a certain leopard weighs 40 pounds is not something that depends on human language, purposes, or cognitive states. Now if i describe that fact by saying "Chima weighs 40 pounds," then that sentence has the social context and dependencies you refer to. But it is necessary to distinguish the sentence from the fact it denotes.

johno: "It can only be said that something does exists or doesn’t exist when there are humans with the cognitive capacity to make such a judgement. And for me presence and absence, attachment and separation are central components of our understanding of the world given there central role in the development of self and other. In this sense the subject understands the object in a distinctly human way and we cannot step outside of this."

sure. but my claim is about the mind-indendence of the physical cosmos within which we navigate and acquire information, and on which our existence is dependent. From the fact that my language and my knowledge is dependent on human purposes, social facts like language and so on, does not show that this reality, of the physical cosmos, is not mind-independent.

t.

lem
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Joined: 25-07-05
Jan 7 2007 20:05

Thanks for the replies, though I am unsure how your answers answer my questions.

It may help to start with this

Quote:
As I understand it, naturalism takes Hume's conviction that it is psychologically impossible tot take the scpetic seriously - and runs with it. So that naturalism says that it can't explain certain things but that does not matter. I am wary if this is stretched to include all manner of things - fine if it was just one proposition.

Is this accurate?

I think the Heidegger article by Stanford must be new! And perhaps, to satisfy myself, I will have to do some "private study" and not leach off people on the internet.