Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

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Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby Abschattung on September 23rd, 2017, 4:58 pm 

Kant says we can never know the things-in-them-selves. I wonder if this can be interpreted as when I see a clock, the thing-in-it-self is just the atomical make-up of glass and metal, while I percieve a device that shows time. Maybe I can reduce the object to concepts of "glass" and "frame" or further, but never percieve it as the combination of atoms and waves. Could Kant be interpreted this way?
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby Abschattung on September 23rd, 2017, 5:00 pm 

I could also add the associations to a clock, like an emotional attachment or memories of a grandfather. What would Kant make of this? Would these associations be a form of synthetic posteriori?
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby Frayguh1879 on September 23rd, 2017, 8:01 pm 

Interesting question. Firstly, there's the obvious point that Kant developed his transcendental idealism before the advent of modern atomic theory. I take it that you're asking whether, if Kant was brought to the future and shown atomic theory, he would think that atoms are part of the noumenal realm.

The answer to this would be no. We know about atoms through experience--though we can't see them, they're connected to actual experience by determinate causal laws. Alan Wood, in his book (which I recommend!) on Kant in the Blackwell Great Minds series says on p.54-55 that this is how Kant can account for the reality of things too small, to distant, or too far back in time to be actually observed (Wood sights A218/B266 of Critique of Pure Reason in support of this claim). More broadly, atoms exist in time and space, and all things within time and space are given to us in intuition.
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby BadgerJelly on September 24th, 2017, 9:32 am 

Abschattung » September 24th, 2017, 4:58 am wrote:Kant says we can never know the things-in-them-selves. I wonder if this can be interpreted as when I see a clock, the thing-in-it-self is just the atomical make-up of glass and metal, while I percieve a device that shows time. Maybe I can reduce the object to concepts of "glass" and "frame" or further, but never percieve it as the combination of atoms and waves. Could Kant be interpreted this way?


No.

The "noumenal world" doesn't exist. The very concept of it is merely noumenon in the "negative" sense".

Many people struggle with this. There is no "thing-in-itself", and to pose that there is is noumenal ONLY in the negative sense because to pose the idea in the positive sense is impossible. Ironically to talk about "noumenon" in the positive sense is self refuting.

Have you read Critique of Pure Reason? If not I suggest you do.
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby mitchellmckain on September 25th, 2017, 4:30 am 

BadgerJelly » September 24th, 2017, 8:32 am wrote:
Abschattung » September 24th, 2017, 4:58 am wrote:Kant says we can never know the things-in-them-selves. I wonder if this can be interpreted as when I see a clock, the thing-in-it-self is just the atomical make-up of glass and metal, while I percieve a device that shows time. Maybe I can reduce the object to concepts of "glass" and "frame" or further, but never percieve it as the combination of atoms and waves. Could Kant be interpreted this way?


No.

The "noumenal world" doesn't exist. The very concept of it is merely noumenon in the "negative" sense".

Many people struggle with this. There is no "thing-in-itself", and to pose that there is is noumenal ONLY in the negative sense because to pose the idea in the positive sense is impossible. Ironically to talk about "noumenon" in the positive sense is self refuting.

Have you read Critique of Pure Reason? If not I suggest you do.


Kant's point of view seems to be that the noumenal world may exist but is unknowable through the senses. I disagree with both Kant and BJ. It is true our immediate reality is the subjective phenomenal world (that of the senses interpreted by the brain, if you like). But the objective noumenal world is knowable, as an abstraction (by verification of independent observers). To say it is unknowable defeats the meaning of both the senses and knowledge as well as being contrary to the achievement of evolution which demands a report of an objective noumenal reality with sufficient accuracy for survival. The most we can say is that our senses and knowledge of the objective noumenal world is imperfect. Demanding perfection as a requirement for knowledge is to render the word effectively meaningless which is a pointless thing to do.

Frankly we have excellent evidence that an objective or noumenal aspect to reality does exist and to deny its existence is a bit unreasonable as well as being a rather useless way of looking at things. The most we can do is to point out that we have no evidence that reality is exclusively objective or noumenal. Thus it is possible to believe that there is also an irreducibly subjective aspect to reality itself (rather than dismissing all that is subjective as unreal) and have good pragmatic reasons for doing so. After all, there is a rather big presumption in the whole objective noumenal "thing in itself" notion, and that is that things can even be said to exist entirely in themselves alone apart from other things like the observer.

As to whether we can identify the noumenal world with the atomic construction of things, that is a little problematic. There is not only the fallacy of ontological reductionism but the fact that our knowledge of atoms is ultimately founded upon the senses as well. Say rather that the atomic construction of things is part of the abstraction process by which we perceive and know the noumenal world. It is objective in the sense that it is a construct of objective science but one cannot quite escape the likelihood that what we have in it is still largely an imposition of human mental order on reality rather than the noumenal world itself. BUT this does not mean that it does not represent a knowledge of the noumenal world.

P.S. By fallacy of ontological reductionism, I refer to the illogical notion that composite parts are more real than the whole. Besides being logically unsupportable, it badly misrepresents reality because parts can interact in complex ways which make the picture in terms of parts alone an incomplete representation of things. Thus we have the expression of being unable to see the forest for the trees.
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby mitchellmckain on September 25th, 2017, 1:21 pm 

Some notes on Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.

His objective in this writing appears to be the simultaneous defense of scientific inquiry and human freedom (i.e. free will). In this he is confronted with the highly deterministic picture given by science before the advent of quantum physics. Rejecting the compatibilist approach, he attempts this laudable but impossible task by making a rigid distinction between the phenomenal and the noumenal and thus trying to insert human freedom by a rather God of the gaps manner into the separation between them. To this challenge he adds the valuable task of undermining the metaphysical dogmatism of his age, and it is perhaps in these efforts which his work remains most relevant to the modern philosophical landscape. In his work towards these ends, he also introduces some important questions with regards to the proper use of reason and makes observations on how reason can go to impractical extremes which thus fails to be of value to human existence.
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby BadgerJelly on September 26th, 2017, 2:30 pm 

Mitch -

You are misinterpreting and misusing the point that Kant was making. You are accusing him of saying something he didn't say.

I've read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason cover to cover and gone back over the parts about "noumenon" and "phenomenon" several times.

What so many people fail to grasp is the distinction he made between noumenon in the "positive" and "negative" sense. Both Jung and Piaget moved these ideas forward and Husserl side stepped the issue completely.

Frankly we have excellent evidence that an objective or noumenal aspect to reality does exist and to deny its existence is a bit unreasonable as well as being a rather useless way of looking at things.


Nope, not possible. If you understood the definition of "positive noumenon" you'd understand that what you're saying is like saying you believe that now you will be in tomorrow at pink time under a swooping wet thought. Although to be fair that is at least a phrase parsed in terms that resemble knowledge. What Kant proposes as "positive noumenon" is something BEYOND sensible intuition, and essentially non-existent.

When it comes to human knowledge and epistemic questions I think Piaget framed the problem well enough and that if you compliment his views with some of Jungs ideas then you're left with a reasonable good approach toward the whole issue of how human develop and what knowledge is to us.. I think Piaget refers to knowledge as a "process" rather than as an "object". Jung goes in a the more difficult area of psychology and unconscious contents and then Husserl is another to offer a whole new proposal toward the subject of consciousness too.

Kant's question was clearly laid out at the start of his work. He questioned what can be known (what is innate) prior to experience. Your notes are incorrect and they actually say almost the exact opposite of what he was proposing in retort to Hume's work ... I think this very same point was mad eon this forum about 3-4 months ago? Or am I thinking of a different forum?
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby Braininvat on September 26th, 2017, 3:05 pm 

There's Neri's extensive thread on Kant and noumenon....

http://www.sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?nomobile=1&f=51&t=28299
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby mitchellmckain on September 26th, 2017, 4:06 pm 

That people overlook this talk of positive and negative senses may have something to do with the fact that these were added in the second edition of the book.

Interpreting what someone says in order to make the things talked about meaningless or nonexistent is fundamentally unreasonable. It is frankly like refusing to hear what they are saying. HOWEVER, this does not, of course, preclude critique and objection to particular things said about them.

I agree that I may have overlooked the possibility or even likelihood that what Kant is doing is resurrecting some form of Platonic idealism, in which case I have given him too much credit. I was misled by the definition of noumenon as things in themselves, failing to see that Kant may be identifying these with Platonic style ideas quite apart from the physical world. These are certainly not something I believe in, though I would not go so far as to make the claim they do not exist. It is quite possible they exist. I just don't see any need for them in understanding physical reality, the operation of the human mind, or our perception and understanding of physical reality.

However this is not the only possible interpretation. It is also possible that Kant is speaking of the product of our process of abstraction, in which case these would not be original objects of our sense perception as things in themselves but rather mentally reconstructed representations. Much of what he says sounds like this is the case but it is possible these are only excuses. It is certainly arguable that these reconstructions are ultimately the only objects about which we can actually think and make assertions and thus effectively the only things which are real to us. But I certainly believe these things are quite a physical existence as a part of our mind/brain function, and although we might try to align them by abstraction and an ideal of objectivity to the original physical objects of our sense perception, in reality they are fundamentally subjective and may easily deviate quite far from anything objective. Furthermore any talk about these being unknowable is absurd. Furthermore, I as I object in my post above, none of this means that this does not represent knowledge about the physical entities which are the origin of our sensory data.

Kant may very likely complain that I am imposing a scientific worldview which itself a product of this very same abstraction process we are discussing and he would be quite correct. I have always admitted that this is a fundamental filter for me through which I perceive and understand everything. And I grant you that it can be problem when trying to understand the written works of someone who does not share this worldview.

Despite these admissions, I still think your comments on my notes are vague and broadsweeping to the point of being meaningless. If you want to make comments which are relevant to me then you need to be more specific by indicating each particular comment I made which you think is wrong and then I would appreciate a quote of the actual text which indicates it is wrong.
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby BadgerJelly on September 26th, 2017, 11:04 pm 

Mitch -

By Kant's terminology the quote I took from you is plainly wrong. The positive noumenon is that which is beyond our senses (beyond Kantian "intuition"; meaning beyond the scope of our appreciation of space and time) and the fact that we can refer to such an idea is to frame it "negatively". There is no "evidence" for a anything "outside" of space or time simply because our "intuitions" (Kantian "intuitions") do not, to our knowledge, move beyond the bounds of sensible limitations. Kant mentions that we'd need a wholly different kind of "intuition".

This is in a nutshell what he meant by noumenon. It is nothing to do with deprecation of the physical world. I doubt Kant would have any problem with a scientific view, but Husserl did in some respects because he understood the necessary limitation of logic. In by brief passing of Piaget I think he has a much more "scientifically acceptable" approach to this whereas Husserl was attempting to create a new "science" (so to speak.)

If there are any quotes you wish to site from Kant I'd be happy to give my input. I don't wish to provide quotes directly from Kant if I can help it because I am here to articulate as best I can in order to improve my writing ability.

note: You also seem to be delving into the more modern concept of phenomenology. That is a thorn in my side because it seems very difficult for some people to grasp this. I am starting to realise that some people's dispositions are just not inclined to adhere to such ideas very easily, and even actively resist them - which I find worrying because I must necessarily be partly blinkered too; which is ironically exactly the purpose of the phenomenological approach to "viewing" the world.

ps. Maybe I am rambling here a bit. I tend to do this when I am wrestling with a particular phase in my understanding. I'll have more to offer in the future in regards to phenomenology (Husserl specifically), but hope I can at least provide some perspective on Kant you'll find interesting, if not particularly useful!

note 2: I would recommend Piaget. I have only come across a few passing references to him here and there. He is probably more accessible than someone like Jung though in regards to human behavior and how we develop our perception of the world and of self. I am of course bringing my own bias view to the table here, but I am trying not to be bias in regards to expressing my understanding of Kant (which is limited too as is all my so called knowledge.) Generally though the more I look the more I see the division of psychology into two reasonably distinct forms. One form being grounded in physical sciences (based on logic) and the other being attached to free floating ideas of emotion (based more on ephemeral human behavior.) There seems to be a force of will by some people to make science try and frame meaning of phenomenon where in reality it can only present a declaration of procedures and how's, it is limited and that is precisely why it is so damn useful. Sadly people think limitation and think "useless" because humans are funny little creatures obsessed with the idea of ideal solutions that will solve every problem.

ANYWAY, I'll shut up for now! haha!
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby mitchellmckain on September 27th, 2017, 2:43 am 

BadgerJelly » September 26th, 2017, 10:04 pm wrote:Mitch -

By Kant's terminology the quote I took from you is plainly wrong. The positive noumenon is that which is beyond our senses (beyond Kantian "intuition"; meaning beyond the scope of our appreciation of space and time) and the fact that we can refer to such an idea is to frame it "negatively".

But I think it is clear that I was not using Kant's terminology and nowhere did I say that I was. What I said was "objective or noumenal aspect to reality" NOT "positive noumenon". In my last post I agreed that it is possible and even likely that what I was referring to is not what Kant means by "noumenon". In fact, now that I look into the history of the term "noumenon" I realize just how badly I was misled by this definition as "thing in itself." For me to call something "the thing in itself" is to say that which is independent of a any particular observers perception of the thing, and therefore the objective thing rather than the subjective apprehension of it. This is how I planned to justify my usage of "noumenal" in conjunction with "objective." Frankly, I think this was pretty much the usage the term in the OP and is also how it is used other things I have read.

If you had objected that the phrase "objective or noumenal aspect to reality" was strange and inconsistent and that perhaps I should investigate the meaning of the term "noumenal" more carefully then think you would have gotten through to me a bit more quickly.

BadgerJelly » September 26th, 2017, 10:04 pm wrote:There is no "evidence" for a anything "outside" of space or time simply because our "intuitions" (Kantian "intuitions") do not, to our knowledge, move beyond the bounds of sensible limitations. Kant mentions that we'd need a wholly different kind of "intuition".

No there is no objective evidence (nor could there be) for anything outside of space and time. But that is not justification for making a claim that nothing outside of space and time exists. Nor do I see any objective evidence for a claim that intuitions do not move beyond the bounds of sensible limitations -- quite the contrary. I think the most you can say is that we can never be sure how much our intuitions have been conditioned and biased by the space-time framework within which our perception operates. But I don't think it is even that difficult to come up with examples of how our mind does extend beyond such limitations even if it isn't quite as free of it as we might sometimes think.

BadgerJelly » September 26th, 2017, 10:04 pm wrote:note: You also seem to be delving into the more modern concept of phenomenology. That is a thorn in my side because it seems very difficult for some people to grasp this. I am starting to realise that some people's dispositions are just not inclined to adhere to such ideas very easily, and even actively resist them - which I find worrying because I must necessarily be partly blinkered too; which is ironically exactly the purpose of the phenomenological approach to "viewing" the world.

"Presuming" would be more accurate than "delving." I utterly detest Platonic idealism and any philosophy which is in any way related to it. Having read Process and Reality, I concluded that this is what Whitehead was doing and thus I became rather opposed to his philosophy. It did not even to occur to me that noumenon was connected with Platonic idealism or I would have responded quite differently. Though perhaps the phrase "transcendental idealism" should have clued me in.


BadgerJelly » September 26th, 2017, 10:04 pm wrote:note 2: I would recommend Piaget. I have only come across a few passing references to him here and there. He is probably more accessible than someone like Jung though in regards to human behavior and how we develop our perception of the world and of self. I am of course bringing my own bias view to the table here, but I am trying not to be bias in regards to expressing my understanding of Kant (which is limited too as is all my so called knowledge.) Generally though the more I look the more I see the division of psychology into two reasonably distinct forms. One form being grounded in physical sciences (based on logic) and the other being attached to free floating ideas of emotion (based more on ephemeral human behavior.) There seems to be a force of will by some people to make science try and frame meaning of phenomenon where in reality it can only present a declaration of procedures and how's, it is limited and that is precisely why it is so damn useful. Sadly people think limitation and think "useless" because humans are funny little creatures obsessed with the idea of ideal solutions that will solve every problem.

Considering my background, I am indeed quite likely to find the writing of a psychologist to be much more reasonable and comprehensible. Though it would probably be more helpful to recommend a particular work of his rather than just the name of the person.
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby BadgerJelly on September 28th, 2017, 11:25 pm 

Mitch -

To be brief for now ... Kant was saying even the idea of "beyond" time and space is a necessary function of our intuition and that we'd require a completely different kind of intuition to explore other areas (a kind we simply don't possess and for all intents and purposes doesn't, and can't , "exist" for us.)

But that is not justification for making a claim that nothing outside of space and time exists.


It is not a claim. It is a proof set upon the limited use of the word meanings. "Outside of space" is a contrary statement if taken on in a physical sense. Abstractly it is a stretch toward some unknown in a negatively noumenonal sense, not a knowing stretch toward some "unknowable", which is an empty and meaningless idea. An idea which I can only possibly elicit negatively.

In the above respect I have always found it interesting that both Kant and Jung managed to set up a definition of something that was not a thing at all. I here I am trying, and failing, to express this! haha!! XD Sctrach this paragraph!

As for Piaget, I have not read any of his works yet. My understanding of his work is only a surface understanding at the moment. From what I have found to date his "constructivism" is a little more than meets the eye. It does not assume any a priori knowledge and he defined his work as "genetic epistemology" ("genetic" in the broader sense of the word.)

The best way to understand Kant is read his work. Easier said than done. Took me a year to bludgeon through it and revisit enough to hold it vaguely together. If you're methodical in your reading then you'll likely handle it better than I did. As an exercise of concentration there is little I can honestly compare it against (for that alone it is worth the effort!)

Semantics is a very delicate problem of philosophical writings. Kant's concept of "transcendental" I tend to prefer to view as some kind of "metamorphosis" and/or "emergence".
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby Neri on October 10th, 2017, 8:20 pm 

To All,

I have stated my position on this subject previously (as referenced by Braininvate) and will not bore you with unnecessary repetition. However, I should like to associate myself with the comments of Mitch.

Additionally, I have a few comments of my own regarding Kant’s notion of the noumenon as a negative concept, for I have found it wanting and have said as much.

Negative propositions, like positive ones, may be either true or false and are of two types: (1) those that do not by themselves include a new fact, and (2) those that do.

As to type (1): The negative proposition “that Abraham Lincoln [referring to a previous U.S president] is not alive” is true as a matter of abundant empirical knowledge and necessarily includes the positive proposition “that Abraham Lincoln is dead,” which is equally true. That is, both are statements of the same fact expressed either positively or negatively.

As to type (2): The negative proposition “that Hillary Clinton is not now the president of the United States” is undoubtedly true, yet this proposition, true though it may be, does not by itself, include the fact that Donald Trump is now the president. It only includes the fact that someone else is currently the president.

Kant tells us that time, space and motion are only things of the mind that have no counterpart in the real world that lies outside of us. That is, to use his expression, such things are real to us but not real in themselves.

One may question, as I have done, his so-called proofs that time, space and motion are purely concoctions of the mind; but for present purposes, let us assume arguendo that his conclusions are true.

The proposition “that time, space and motion are only things of the mind,” is clearly a positive statement regarding the nature of such things.

However, the proposition, “that time space and motion have no counterpoint in the real world” is like a negative proposition of type (1) in that it includes within it the proposition “that time, space and motion do not exist in the real world that lies outside of us.” The proposition is also like type (2), because it does not tell us exactly what IS out there in the real world.

Yet, it cannot properly be said that we know nothing of the real world, for if Kant were correct, we do at least know as a fact that whatever may be out there does not include time, space and motion.

More importantly, if Kant were correct, we would also know as a fact that the real world is one in which nothing ever happens—unless, of course, one is able to explain the impossible (how anything can change in a world without time, space and motion).

I am well aware that Parmenides and Einstein believed that nothing ever really happens, but that does not make the notion any less preposterous.

This is the full extent of any comments I will make herein.
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby BadgerJelly on October 10th, 2017, 9:53 pm 

Neri -

That is a false representation. Kant talks about the "intuition". We can only know something "intuitively", as being in time and space. Abstract items are referred to as intellectual. Space and time are intellectual, and he states we have no "intuition" of intellect. Meaning, we cannot, so to speak, 'look in on' space or time from outside of space and time. They are abstract, intellectual concepts.

So, no. He does not say space and time are only in the mind, nor does adopt solipsism. He simply says we are limited by our intuitions. If we discover some non-sensible intuition (intellectual intuition), then we can "see the canvas we're painted on" (apologies for crass the analogy!) Currently we are unable to both remove ourselves from the world and see ourselves in the world. If you disagree with Kant you essentially believe you can be both object and observer, and simultaneously "separate" and "together". This is most likely the kind of interpretation the OP was attempting to tackle ... guess we'll never know? I have a feeling it was a case of a drive-by post.

note: I keep seeing Kant brought up here and there so think I'll try and put together some kind of essay to help myself and others.
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby Neri on October 10th, 2017, 11:04 pm 

BJ,

While, I do not wish to revisit a matter that has already been covered ad nauseam, I will only say that Kant stated quite clearly that space and time are pure intuitions that are neither things in themselves nor conditions of things in themselves.

He also tells us that the noumena are populated by things-in-themselves (things that do not depend on our minds for their reality). To put it plainly, he is telling us that time and space have no counterpart in the noumena. He does say that things-real-in-themselves do exist. In fact, this provides his single claim to being an empirical realist.

He indubitably says that time and space are not “intellectual,” as you put it. Rather, he says that they are intuitive and not discursive. They are sorts of basic senses that are necessary preconditions for all human understanding. In other words, he is saying that the human mind cannot understand the nature anything that is outside of time and space—like God, for example.

Kant certainly was not a solipsist--that is, one who believes that only his mind is real. Indeed, a belief in other minds that think in basically the same way was pivotal to his philosophy. As I pointed out, he believed that there were real things outside of us—just that we could never understand what they were.

I have quoted Kant extensively in the previous thread as referenced by Braininvat, and these quotes amply demonstrate what I have been saying. Therefore, I will say no more.
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Re: Can transcendental idealism be interpreted atomically?

Postby BadgerJelly on October 10th, 2017, 11:38 pm 

Neri -

I wouldn't be so quick to say "ad nauseam". I think for the first time you've posted something that I cannot really fault to any large degree.

I would only caution on how to read "outside of space and time". This is always the crux of the problem in understanding Kant I have found. Simply because people assume the physicalist position when they here space and time.

I hope you'll find time in the future to comment on my future posts regarding this (whenever I get around to it!)

I have found studying/discussing COPR to be one of the most rewarding experiences I've had. Has helped me improve how to express certain ideas much better - although there's still a lot of work to do! ;)
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