Empiricism - is it tenable?

Discussions on the nature of being, existence, reality and knowledge. What is? How do we know?

Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby mitchellmckain on December 23rd, 2017, 10:56 pm 

wolfhnd » December 17th, 2017, 11:08 pm wrote:No it's a vote against the idea that existence is not experience. I'm hostile towards the idea that things are more than the sum of their parts in the emergent properties sense. The parts are infinitely divisible and more complex than we can imagine. The mind is in the brain but the power of the brain comes from culture. More exactly culture is the cause of the brain through co evolution. It isn't just a case that environment and nature are both important but that they are in some sense the same thing. I take a strong stand against dualism.


I can quite agree that human existence consists mostly of human experience, but much of the universe is neither human nor even alive and thus equating existence with experience is very strange.

I am hostile to the idea of reductionism, that things are merely the sum of their parts. Even science does not support this. It is why physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, and sociology are separate fields of study. The interactions most certainly do give arise to emergent properties, and expecting everything to be explained by the component parts is foolish. We live in a self-organizing universe where much of what happens is not determined by component part but (because of the nonlinearity of the equations governing them) by the established patterns of behavior of those parts creating something more than the parts themselves. Looking for the behavior of living organisms in the constituent matter is as foolish as looking for explanations of a story in the material properties of the ink and paper of a book.

The parts are not infinitely divisible. Nor do we have any reason to believe in complexity which you have imagined -- into which you can read anything you choose. The actually discovered complexity is a much more reasonable basis for conclusions about our existence.

I also stand against the dualism of Descartes, but this can approach willful ignorance if you cannot acknowledge the reasons why things at least look somewhat dualistic. Underlying unity and effective diversity are both very real aspects of reality, and to deny either one in the effort to cram reality into some simplistic ideology is deception.

The mind is a physical existence to be sure, but it is not the brain any more than software consists of electronics. Your claim that the human brain is a product of culture through co-evolution is not well supported at all. The fact is that we are hard pressed to find any functionality in the human brain which is not shared by bonobos. Thus the evidence points to the human brain being far more a product of evolution from before any human civilization. To be sure, co-evolution is a fact but it is also a fact that we have an entirely different means of passing on information from one generation to another than that of DNA, i.e. language and other forms of human communication media. And it is also a fact that the accumulation of information in this other inheritance has not only progressed faster than DNA and evolution by many orders of magnitude but is accelerating enormously.

I am not sure exactly what you mean by environment and nature being the same thing. But...
1. The separation between environment and living behavior is essential to the life process.
2. Nor is evolution and the behavior of living things determined by the environment. They are a response to the environment, to be sure. But it is not determined by it.

But perhaps I should make sure I am not missing the point by being distracted by all the details. The above was a reaction to a suggestion by Asparagus that the following was opposed to empiricism.

wolfhnd » December 17th, 2017, 6:42 pm wrote:Why do we have to make everything so complicated. Animals have instincts, humans are animals, humans have instincts.

I can certainly understand Asparagus' response. If we have instincts then we have a basis for knowledge which does not derive from sense experience. I find wolfhnd's reaction much more difficult to understand, but then it should be quite clear that there a quite a few premises we do not share in our different ways of thinking.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby mitchellmckain on December 23rd, 2017, 11:14 pm 

Braininvat » December 18th, 2017, 1:22 pm wrote:Peirce bases that reliability on starting with abduction, then deduction, then finally induction - in this case, that would be the sampling of emeralds in a way that will be representative of the entire population of emeralds. From there, the chemists come in and determine that all this green-ness arises from the spectral signature you obtain when you dope a beryllium silicate with vanadium or chromium. Quantum physics drops in and offers an explanatory scheme for those greenish wavelengths, where electrons seem to jump from one orbital to another and emit green photons. Confirmation holisms multiply and our sense of confidence rises.

I would base the reliability of science on an objective methodology which provides written procedures which anyone can follow to get the same result. Indeed, whenever a claim is made, others will do just that in order to see if they can confirm these results. I would list abduction, deduction, and induction as a collection of tools which scientists can use when needed. But yes all the various tests and uses of one conclusion contributes to building a bigger picture full of confirmations which solidify our confidence in the claim.

Braininvat » December 18th, 2017, 1:22 pm wrote:For me, it's key to acknowledge that the inference, finally, is not necessary. Hence, all science is probabilistic in its epistemological foundations. Perhaps the Earth has been passing through an alien energy field that distorts the spectral profile of vanadium and will continue to do so until 2457. Then the inscrutable aliens will turn off the field and leave, chuckling maniacally. At that time, emeralds will turn out to be blue. Improbable, but possible.

It is a fundamental assumption of science that there are no demons (or aliens) arranging (or distorting) the evidence to deceive us. Even the probabilities science calculates depend on this assumption. This assumption is just a part of what science is, and scientists do not seek to justify the assumption any more than football players spend time justifying the rules of the game they play.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby wolfhnd on December 24th, 2017, 12:49 am 

As I have been, perhaps fairly, accused of writing at a middle school level :-) I looked around for something that captured my view somewhat. Oddly enough the following paper is an argument against my view but I liked the way the authors phrased the argument they are deconstructing.


EMERGENTISM: DEAD AGAIN?

"One prominent line of argument for this redismissal proceeds as follows: various non-mundane varieties of emergentism imply that there is downward causation, a variety of causation where, roughly speaking, the causal powers of a whole “go beyond” the aggregate causal powers of its parts. But that there is such downward causation is false."

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source= ... VaBENQ_Nfw

I probably will not respond again in this thread because the arguments go beyond my casual interest in the topic. I'm devoting most of my time to history and current events. Even if my interest in philosophy were to increase I doubt I could catch up to the point of being interesting.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby BadgerJelly on December 24th, 2017, 2:22 am 

Asparagus » December 23rd, 2017, 9:30 pm wrote:@badger
What is meant by noema and noesis? Since I've been reading about neoplatonism lately I'm intrigued by the fact that "noesis" is from "nous."


EDIT : Sorry, didn't realise how long this was until I posted it! PLUS it's quite incoherent and I could really have said this in half as many words now I look back at it (just skim over what sounds meaningless!)

I don't think I can offer you a very good explanation here. I am still feeling my way around this one and have attached my own thoughts to these terms in some manner; so I cannot outright declare what Husserl meant (and there is disagreement between philosophers - once I've read more of Husserl I should be able to say something more concrete.)

It may help to keep in mind a term that has fallen out of favour in the English language, the term "ken". Many times Husserl uses "adumbrate" and I do too now because it is the "surrounding" that makes an item "explicit"; to ken.

Noema refers to, funnily enough, how we're "referred" (given over.) This would be "perceiving", "thinking", "remembering", "observing", "referencing to", and all manner of what is usually encapsulated by what we'd call "mental acts." Here though we are saying "acting" is "part" of the noema, as is our "delineating" and being able to say "part", and our "enabling" that allows us to say "able" and "allowing" that gives "allow", and so on, and so on. We don't possess a fullness of noema. It is the substance of the mental act.

Noesis is what we can refer to as "making up" the mental act - but not really "making it up", more as being partitions of the mental matter "of" noema. So the noesis are the acts of the matter of mentality I guess.

What is deeply difficult to explain here is the primary adherence of the phenomenological investigation in turning away from mere physical representations, yet within our language we're simply unable to do so. The primary act of the phenomenology is not to dismiss objectivity, but to understand it as understood; to adumbrate the meaning of subject between the subjects (hence his use of "inter-subjectivity" as being what "objectivity" is; as a convenience we've grown accustomed to drawing a line "as if" these are two opposition views when they are merely delineated "as if" opposite in order to further and broaden our horizons - using horizon here in the colloquial sense btw!)

If you know something of Heidegger, like you hinted, then you'll probably be able to relate this to Dasein in some way and uncover Heidegger's claim of "Dasein" an obtuse and essentially as meaningless as my step forward and back in time. Heidegger is drowned in the play that the phenomenological investigation opens up; that being the deconstruction of language, but he seemed to have missed the point (IMO) of what this is done for. Which is thorugh the "act" of deconstructing we're meant, if we're sticking the phenomenological procedure, to view the way in which we're drawn into the new theoretical position of the deconstructionist - I do think Derrida grasped this partially, and I would say a great deal more than Foucault, but at the moment the way I am looking at all of this is very much in its infancy.

The common way people refer to Husserl's ideas is through analogy. Often I have tried to explicate this by referring to understanding "moments" of matter. Meaning the act of viewing the physical world requires us to frame it within a certain limit. We must physically see a table with "size", "shape" and "hue"; from these we infer "mass". And be sure to remember he is not trying to "measure" these things or order them by scale.

I do have trouble understanding his opposition to the idea of "gestalt", although I believe he was probably repulsed by the semi-mystical view of this term.

I think although he is more considered less precise than Heidegger, I would say he is purposefully les precise. Heidegger goes too far and comes out with "the being of being in beingneess", which in his lexicon fits, but says very little. I found Heidegger to be doing little more than bastardising the main direction of the science of phenomenology and simply renaming it to suit his investigation of language's relation to consciousness.

By this I see Heidegger as renaming "Phenomenology" as "Dasein" and making terrible errors therein. He acts as if he's found the "pure subjective being", by saying he hasn't and then leads everyone along on a merry dance trying to cover up this, to me, blatant error of judgement.

It is not really the "question of being" that is of concern to humans. It is the "act of questioning" that is the concern. To ask 'What is being?" is no different than asking "What is thought?", or "What is substance?" The actual procedure of setting out words to form a "question" is something brought up and out into the inter-subjective world from the subject. That is where natural science cannot go, because there is no "physicality" to this, and where phenomenology begins as a science.

Many people tend to refer to Husserl by using physical analogies (tables and such; as I have before.) The point of noesis and noema is to "look" (or KEN) the "act" of "acting"; the judgement, the measuring, the concern, the thought, the comprehension, and all the ways of bringing something before us in our lifeworld - not merely to pick apart certain qualia and place it in categories for further atomization.

In simplier terms I "know" something (ken it) because of what it isn't. You'll find that Heidegger takes almost all of Husserl's terminology and and renames it. I believe that the whole ontical/ontico terminology is basically a spin-off of noema and noesis (I've not looked at Heidegger for a while though, but maybe his stuff may allow us to bring these terms more into focus in regards to empiricism?)
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby mitchellmckain on December 24th, 2017, 4:08 am 

wolfhnd » December 23rd, 2017, 11:49 pm wrote:As I have been, perhaps fairly, accused of writing at a middle school level :-) I looked around for something that captured my view somewhat. Oddly enough the following paper is an argument against my view but I liked the way the authors phrased the argument they are deconstructing.


EMERGENTISM: DEAD AGAIN?

"One prominent line of argument for this redismissal proceeds as follows: various non-mundane varieties of emergentism imply that there is downward causation, a variety of causation where, roughly speaking, the causal powers of a whole “go beyond” the aggregate causal powers of its parts. But that there is such downward causation is false."

There is no downward causation APART from the rules of interactions which govern the parts themselves. The point of emergence is not that this adds some mysterious extra force to what governs the parts. However, there is downward causation just the same THROUGH the same rules of interaction which govern the parts. It must be understood that the laws of nature are usually nothing but a vehicle in a chain of causation rather than an origin of it. (This does not mean, by the way, there are no first causes, because there definitely are in quantum decoherence events, which have been proven to have no hidden variables determining the outcome.)

An example of such downward causation is easy to find in the operation of the computer right in front of you. The fact that letters appearing on your screen are due to changes of phase in the liquid crystals of your display screen should not distract you from the ultimate cause through a long causal chain from the typing of these words by my fingers. In the same way there is downward causation from the emergent organization of parts which use the same laws of interaction governing the parts as a vehicle of causation.

wolfhnd » December 23rd, 2017, 11:49 pm wrote:https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source= ... VaBENQ_Nfw

I probably will not respond again in this thread because the arguments go beyond my casual interest in the topic. I'm devoting most of my time to history and current events. Even if my interest in philosophy were to increase I doubt I could catch up to the point of being interesting.

Experience in an academic environment helps deal with feelings of intimidation like this, because there you find out that everyone has their own area of expertise, and there is an obligation on their part to explain their references and terminology to other participants with NO implication of inadequacy. After all, if they cannot explain their references and terminology then it boils down to nothing more than Star-Trek-like technobabble with no real meaning. Of course, you can also see how far you can go with a little research on your own so you don't have to ask quite so many question. My own interest in the writings of particular historical philosophers is also not without limits. We all, academic philosophers included, have to make choices about what we do with our time.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby Asparagus on December 24th, 2017, 10:19 am 

@Badger
An empiricist envisions a passive role for the mind. The universe interacts with itself as mind meets world. The truth is discovered in accurate impressions (think clay being impressed by the mold). Maybe a first step in pondering how Husserl would contribute to the question would be to ask what, if anything, is wrong with the theory of the passive mind?
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby BadgerJelly on December 24th, 2017, 10:52 am 

Passive mind? You've lost me. Clay? I thought you dismissed tabula rasa?

Empiricists tend toward physicalism don't they?

You're going to have to express exactly what the theory of the passive mind is I'm afraid.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby Asparagus on December 24th, 2017, 11:26 am 

I'm just exploring ideas. I wasn't shopping for a brand of epistemology when I asked the thread question.

Berkeley was an empiricist. Physicalism isn't required.

Passive mind would mean that the mind doesn't play any active role in the production of experience.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby Neri on December 24th, 2017, 3:05 pm 

BJ,

Husserl’s method was similar to the Cartesian meditations in that that both were invested in the notion that the thing we can be most certain of was our own conscious experience.

However, the Cartesian method did not require that we set aside our belief that a world existed independently of our thought processes.

On the contrary, Descartes maintained that reality consisted of two basic substances, spatially extended things that populated the world and thinking things such as our consciousness. Thus, he made a distinction between subject (our minds) and object (spatially extended things). To Husserl both subject and object were things of the mind.

Husserl, in his core beliefs, was a Kantian. “Phenomena” (meaning appearances) was after all a Kantian term. To Kant, “extended things ”were concoctions of the mind, for space was only an intuition that represented nothing real in itself. The world we experienced was something put together in our own minds. Husserl accepted these ideas and even used the expression “transcendental.”

When Husserl spoke of the “life world,” he meant the Kantian world of the mind and indubitably not a world that did not need to be experienced to be real. It is precisely for this reason that he wanted us to bracket out the world of extended things.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby mitchellmckain on December 24th, 2017, 4:01 pm 

Neri » December 24th, 2017, 2:05 pm wrote:BJ,
Husserl, in his core beliefs, was a Kantian. “Phenomena” (meaning appearances) was after all a Kantian term. To Kant, “extended things ”were concoctions of the mind, for space was only an intuition that represented nothing real in itself. The world we experienced was something put together in our own minds. Husserl accepted these ideas and even used the expression “transcendental.”

When Husserl spoke of the “life world,” he meant the Kantian world of the mind and indubitably not a world that did not need to be experienced to be real. It is precisely for this reason that he wanted us to bracket out the world of extended things.


While I think you are distorting Kant's view with an inaccurate characterization as a "world of the mind" (he also said that the very fact we impose an a-priori order on the world means that an independent world does in fact exist), I agree that his conclusions about space are a bit one sided. Psychologists have established that belief does alter perception, thus it is reasonable to caution ourselves that some of the the things of science may be an order that we impose on the evidence. But we have just as much reason for caution in the other direction. Much of our perceptual faculties are a product of evolution, where survival depends on an accurate report of the dangers from things outside ourselves. Furthermore, it is not hard to see how the perception of space arises from the raw data of experience. Thus I am brought back to my observation earlier in the thread that we are facing a chicken-egg type question here, where the order we impose on the data (such at the spacial-temporal order) actually originates in earlier (either in evolution or childhood development) sensory data.

Furthermore, there is more than one way in which sensory data is absorbed. The indirect method such as used by evolution which merely finds out what works is also a means of gathering data about the world around us.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby Neri on December 24th, 2017, 4:37 pm 

To All,

This noema/noesis distinction is pretty much as I described it previously in ordinary language. For those of you who want a more profound-sounding description, I offer the following.

Because Husserl requires us to put out of our minds any notion of spatially extended things as contents of the world, he needs to explain how we have the experience of such things.

Separate objects are things of the mind—what he calls “things intended”--by which he means that, for one reason or another, our consciousness has been directed to them. To Husserl intentionality was an active mental process.

The process of directing one’s attention to an ideal object (an object of the mind) he called “noesis.” The experience of the object itself, he called a “noema.”

Thus, as you sit there, you may not be thinking of, let us say, a tiger. Therefore, you are not experiencing the noema, “tiger,” yet you are capable of doing so. There is a mental process that allows you to have that experience and that is noesis. That is, you can bring a tiger to mind by directing your attention to it. This is part of what is called intentionality [referring not to the will by to the “directiveness” of thought].

You probably have experienced the noema, “tiger,” through noesis simply because I made mention of a tiger. The same would happen if you were reading a book about tigers or were just musing one day about tigers.

The problem is that Husserl wants us to equate these situations with the experience of being attacked by a tiger. He has to do this because he asks us to set aside the notion that a tiger is a spatially extended thing and accept that it is only an object of thought.

Thus, I suppose, we are expected to believe that if one experiences being attack by a tiger and then ceases to experience anything because he is dead, that the whole business is only a mental process. Put plainly, if one blots out the world of extended things, every noema is ultimately lifted by it own bootstraps in the mind.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby mitchellmckain on December 24th, 2017, 5:47 pm 

Neri's continuing focus upon Husserl has encouraged me to spend some time examining his thinking and ideas.

It seems that much of his work was about resurrecting the rationalism of Descartes, equivocating rationalism with reason itself, which is clearly just wrong. Rationalism is a stage I went through in jr high school, and I imagine that most interested in philosophy also pass through such a phase. But eventually you realize than any such system of thought is a house of cards built upon premises without objective validity in themselves. Ultimately it means that rationalism is just rationalization of the things you want/choose to believe in. Now I don't think anything is ultimately wrong with that, as long as the basic subjectivity is acknowledged. Indeed I would suggest that thinking this subjectivity can be completely avoided is delusional. But it does mean that valid criticism can be leveled that such philosophy is essentially of the same "species" as theology -- and it is fairly clear that Husserl's objectives look a great deal like those of theology.

But then, like we see happening over and over again in philosophy with Kierkegaard-Sartre and C. S. Pierce-Dewey, a somewhat theologically laden philosophical work was adapted by others to something which is more properly philosophical than theological. And thus the meaning of "phenomenology" was transformed from Husserl's apologetic rationalization into a new focus of philosophy upon consciousness and human experience.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby Lomax on December 24th, 2017, 5:48 pm 

Very good post Neri.

Neri » December 21st, 2017, 3:29 am wrote:But what is truth? It can be defined in many ways, but the only definition that gives it a connection with reality such that truth is not reduced to a matter of opinion, speculation, point of view or wishful thinking is this: Truth is correspondence to fact.

It is only a tangential and probably unimportant point, but I would just say that coherence theorists (like myself) take issue with this. If anybody gets time to read Davidson's On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme and Quine's reply, On the Very Idea of a Third Dogma, I recommend it. Davidson lays out a sense in which empiricism cannot be held to. Anyway, Davidson notes that:

Donald Davidson wrote:...the notion of fitting the facts, or being true to the facts, adds nothing intelligible to the simple concept of being true...


Quine in his paper says:

Willard van Orman Quine wrote:...it is idle to say that true sentences are sentences that fit the facts, or match the world; also pernicious, in creating the illusion of explanation.


Neri » December 21st, 2017, 3:29 am wrote:However, we are justified in taking this proposition as true so long as we do not experience a thing that has no cause. Yet, if we accept the classical definition of knowledge, we cannot properly say that we know that all things have a cause. Yet, if we accept a justified belief as a kind of knowledge, we can properly say that the proposition is true so long as it is not falsified.

When Asparagus asked if I were proposing that empiricism is valid because it is believed, I feigned indignation. But I told him/her I would come back to that. I still think that would be a silly approach, but there are other respects in which pragmatic concerns can and must shape empiricism. Regarding quantum theory physicists and philosophers dispute whether determinism has been invalidated - do we have all the evidence we need to throw determinism out? I think questions like this must be solved according to methodological and aesthetic concerns, rather than exclusively evidential ones. I also think it can be argued that all disputes are of this nature. This isn't to say that empiricism is disproven by pragmatism; only that it is shapen by it.

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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby BadgerJelly on December 25th, 2017, 1:24 am 

Neri » December 25th, 2017, 3:05 am wrote:BJ,

Husserl’s method was similar to the Cartesian meditations in that that both were invested in the notion that the thing we can be most certain of was our own conscious experience.

However, the Cartesian method did not require that we set aside our belief that a world existed independently of our thought processes.

On the contrary, Descartes maintained that reality consisted of two basic substances, spatially extended things that populated the world and thinking things such as our consciousness. Thus, he made a distinction between subject (our minds) and object (spatially extended things). To Husserl both subject and object were things of the mind.

Husserl, in his core beliefs, was a Kantian. “Phenomena” (meaning appearances) was after all a Kantian term. To Kant, “extended things ”were concoctions of the mind, for space was only an intuition that represented nothing real in itself. The world we experienced was something put together in our own minds. Husserl accepted these ideas and even used the expression “transcendental.”

When Husserl spoke of the “life world,” he meant the Kantian world of the mind and indubitably not a world that did not need to be experienced to be real. It is precisely for this reason that he wanted us to bracket out the world of extended things.


Of course it was similar to Descartes because he viewed Plato and Descartes as being the most important. And I believe I have stated elsewhere that he thought Descartes missed his own discovery. (note: Husserl was concerned primarily with the First Meditation.)

To Husserl both subject and object were dealt with phenomenologically in a specific way. He has been cast by many as an idealist, but I am not really convinced of this. He completely regarded physical existence as physical existence - he had no issue with that at all. He set out a particular way to use the term "object" though in his work (where I believe he generally meant 'intersubjectivity' where we read 'object'.)

As for Kantian terminology, Husserl does refer to Kant. It is not correct, or even nearly correct, to view Husserl as Kantian though.

Phenomenon is simply "conscious experience". Husserl was concerned with consciousness and phenomenology is meant to be the science of consciousness.

This noema/noesis distinction is pretty much as I described it previously in ordinary language. For those of you who want a more profound-sounding description, I offer the following.

Because Husserl requires us to put out of our minds any notion of spatially extended things as contents of the world, he needs to explain how we have the experience of such things.


It may be slightly misleading to say this. "Put out of mind" does not mean disbelief or forget, but it can be read like that. It is not an act of disregarding the physical world or anything as such. He often said "put out of play".

The process of directing one’s attention to an ideal object (an object of the mind) he called “noesis.” The experience of the object itself, he called a “noema.”


This is too brief and frivolous an explication for me. Husserl doe use terminology like "unfulfilled intention", "fulfilled intention" and "empty intention".

There is the "manner" of directedness and the ... this is where I simplty struggle to find the words, but I will settle by saying "components of correlation".

Your analogy of the tiger deals with one tiny part of the process. Husserl was looking at the components of physical appearance too. I have already mentioned this, the "colour", the "size" (depth, height, width). The "parts" of tiger can be removed and it is still a tiger (a leg for example), but you cannot remove the "moments", you cannot remove the height of the tiger.

The difficult you likely struggle with is understanding how to apply this to more abstract concepts such as "and". The struggle is dealing with the idea of "immediacy" and time is always a pain to deal with in this way.

You probably have experienced the noema, “tiger,” through noesis simply because I made mention of a tiger. The same would happen if you were reading a book about tigers or were just musing one day about tigers.


This is simply a misuse of the terminology. You are suggesting "and" does not exist and has no meaning whatsoever and we should therefore not use "and" ever again. Husserl, on the other hand, wanted to hunt the "and" as best he could knowing full well that objective science has nothing to offer in terms of what it means to experience an object other than by way of bracketing out subjectivity and acting "as if" there is such a thing as "pure objectivity". He set out a way, or rather made explicit what Descartes missed in his own discovery, to create a science of the subjective "pole".

From there Heidegger, and many others, took this and ran with it in regards to the varieties of subjective opinions about conscious experience and made a very strong attachment to language and writing (as had Neitzsche in many ways already set up the ground for this and many others in various fields of study.)

Heidegger I would relate to an extract from 'Pheadrus' where the king talks to Theuth (aka Thoth, the creator of writing) in reagrds to his invention. Theuth says he has discovered the 'elixir' of memory and wisdom by the advent of writing. The king then says by trying to help people in this way that his invention will make people lazy and make them think they have wisdom when they'll have nothing but the appearance of wisdom. He says they will come to possess knowledge but at cost of wisdom - this is something Heidegger really seems to have put to use in order to bring hermeneutics into philosophical play.

The point being here is that Husserl was not (as far as I can see) concerned with hermeneutics, and that he perhaps would have faired better if he'd given some refutation against taking such a line of investigation. Wittgenstein at least seems to have wound some of Heidegger's thoughts back in toward more of a phenomenological position, but still seemed tangled up in the hermeneutics (from what I have read of Logical Investigations and maybe he goes further elsewhere - not sure, I can only focus on so much.)

Asparagus -

To be clear to you where I am coming from. Experience is something. Our experience is about "intentionality". We "see the world" because of emotional content. The meaning of "objects" is emotional meaning. We do everything within an emotional framework.

Even the drive for any kind of understanding is obviously emotionally driven, consciously or subconsciously. So empiricism is tenable because it is known as a path of understanding. In philosophy we should perhaps be looking away from the natural sciences, th emaking of objective measurements, and dealing with experience as an emotionally laden topic. We can of course refer to some useful discoveries of the natural sciences in order to refine our understanding (we understand certain hormonal 'mechanisms' and biological requirements, and also have the rich framework of evolution to consider too.)

To refer to my reply Neri above (the Pheadrus bit), there is something to be said for "knowledge" as food for "wisdom" here. In an analogical sense I would say empiricism can be considered as either a means to floor free-will or as a way to open up ourselves to responsibility and to take on the task of living as one in which we are actively involved. The issue and means of philosophy will always remain a subjective means - it will always be a search for the wisdom of living life not merely a scientific reduction in which emotionally we attempt to refute emotion as anything other than "useful" for our meaningless understanding of a deterministic and static "being". It is no coincidence that the whoel existential moment sprouted in the modern era from the seed Husserl planted (and I would say more due to Nietzsche tbh). It is a mistake, a mistake in regard to the use of objective science, because to get caught up in a psychological fixatedness and to apply th emost useful methodology everywhere is to perform an act of worship and faith in something being able to work beyond its intended limits.

By this I mean I can imagine how to build a flying vehicle and I can say I can do so without ever having to try. By doing so this does not mean I have built a playing vehicle that works. Equally so, I cannot physically manipulate the world and create an object that is without depth, or make a sound without tone. In this respect the physical sciences deal with physical matter toward an objective pole and the phenomenological science deals with phenomenon toward a subjective pole - and understand clearly that these are not in opposition, they are merely divided for convenience of comprehension, like black and white.

Husserl tries to get the reader to put focus into the matter of "thought". Look at the meaning content and feel around it, adumbrate the items of conscious experience as items of conscious experience rather than as purely external objects that are . Given that our language is so deeply embedded in ideas of external objectivity and reinforced by the success of scientific method it has become hard to see past the verbal conceptions of the world - and again this is where Heidegger and those kind of folk when to town with the initial pheonomenological revolution that Husserl initiated.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby Lomax on December 25th, 2017, 8:40 am 

mitchellmckain » December 23rd, 2017, 9:25 am wrote:I found the questions in the survey interesting. But to keep it relevant to the thread I put the part connected to the thread in bold.

I may start a thread for people's responses to the survey. It would be interesting to see where we all stand on the questions presented.

mitchellmckain » December 23rd, 2017, 8:08 pm wrote:The fact is that science derives answers from reason (or calculation) quite frequently. Yes of course they will check it by empirical means whenever possible. But it should be noted that one of the principle goals of the scientist is to be able to reason out what the result of empirical measurements are going to be BEFORE they are made. It is the only way the scientist can feel like they have some understanding of what is going on rather than simply recording it.

This is an interesting point, and since we have been discussing Chomsky: he criticised linguistic structuralism as being the "science of meter readings". In other words science isn't really about listing our sense-data; it's about inferring something not in se observable from them. It's a practice of diagnosis, the methods of which are not contained in the meter readings. Be this as it may, we have an indefinite number of ways of doing it, and I think that when we disagree about these intuitive steps, we can only support our positions pragmatically or empirically, if at all.

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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby Lomax on December 25th, 2017, 8:57 am 

Asparagus » December 21st, 2017, 4:48 am wrote:Thanks! The first link you provided doesn't mention natural selection or adaptation. I'm not sure why you're pursuing this tangent so vigorously. It doesn't lead anywhere as far as I can see.

It specifically states -

Underestimating susceptibility to negative events can serve an adaptive function by enhancing explorative behaviour and reducing stress and anxiety associated with negative expectations

- and gives three peer-reviewed citations for its claim. I also provided seven other links, included a compendium of papers on the subject. Because you dismissed it, I am supporting my statement that Trivers's theory is taken seriously; it seems strange that you should feel hassled by this.

Asparagus » December 21st, 2017, 1:55 am wrote:I didn't bring up faulty observations as an argument against empiricism. Were you not indicating that observation would be our best resource in the face of uncertainty about our assumptions? If you weren't, then why did you bring up self-deceit?

I'm with you. If the point is just that we can be deceived about anything, then it says nothing for one epistemology or another. What I argue is that, unlike the a priori, empiricism at least contains the seeds of its own correction.

In the same vein -

Asparagus » December 21st, 2017, 1:55 am wrote:To be honest, I'm not following you here. Observation simply can't justify the belief that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. That isn't controversial. There is no logical bridge to that conclusion either. That's the problem of induction.

- we are not left with induction being any more problematic for empiricism than it is for anything else. Except that we only know by experience that induction is required for empirical practice in the first place. In other words we accept that we are engaging in empiricism in order to reach the point of posing the problem to begin with.

Empiricism is by all means incomplete. I don't think anyone with a day's learning in philosophy would claim otherwise. That is why I say it must be steered by pragmatism. And therefore why I say we have a slight problem defining "justification" in order to answer the overarching question.

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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby Lomax on December 25th, 2017, 9:06 am 

I note that many are taking the existence of the analytic as given. One of the problems with the a priori is that it is a matter of just taking things as given. To my knowledge Carnap is the only philosopher to get out of the armchair and try to construct a program for building up a set of truths-by-stipulation, and he found that he had to be left with one word undefined (in his case "is", which I should say is something of a setback for constructing definitions in general). We know from Godel that any logical language capable of producing Peano arithmetic (which English is) cannot be both complete and consistent in its axioms. At any rate, given the wealth of dispute about which mathematical axioms and which logics are the "right" ones, it seems simply precarious to posit these things as a priori. One logician just knows that FOL is the only true logic; another just knows that fuzzy logic is the one true logic; another just knows that you can have many different logics for many different uses. If these things are knowable by definition then why are so many clever people struggling with something so simple as definition?

No philosopher has managed to give us a non-circular explanation of what analyticity is and how it works. The notion does indeed seem dogmatic to me, and using it (as some have in this thread) to explain how we know some things a priori especially seems to put the cart before the horse.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby Asparagus on December 25th, 2017, 12:28 pm 

@Lomax:

Underestimating susceptibility to negative events can serve an adaptive function by enhancing explorative behaviour and reducing stress and anxiety associated with negative expectations

This is talking about an individual, not a group. Only groups are subject to natural selection. If you watch the Myers video I linked in the science forum, it explains that natural selection is a prominent influence in the genetics of creatures like bacteria. The relatively low human population means we wouldn't expect natural selection to play a big role in what we are. Genetic drift, bottlenecks, and replacement events are significant for us. For the most part, all we have is wild guesses about how we became what we are. A leading theory is not about genetics at all, but about the development of stable populations.

Lomax wrote:- we are not left with induction being any more problematic for empiricism than it is for anything else.

Sure. Nevertheless, it's a problem an empiricist needs to address in some way. You can join Searle in accepting Hume's solution. It doesn't work from where I'm standing, but it's an option.


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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby RJG on December 28th, 2017, 11:04 pm 

Asparagus wrote:Empiricism - is it tenable?

NO --

1. Logic always trump Science.
2. Can't get objectivity from subjectivity.


Truth hierarchy:

1. Absolute truth -- undeniable/undoubtable (…Descartes foundation of all knowledge)
2. Objective truth -- logically derived - via logic/math (a priori; pre-experiential)
3. Subjective truth -- experientially derived - via subjective experiences (a posteriori; post-experiential)
4. Religious truth -- via blind faiths
5. Non-truth -- via logical impossibilities

An Absolute Truth (#1) is the highest level of ‘certainty’ (real-ness); it is the singular premise/conclusion statement (that Descartes was searching for) that does not require supporting premises to vouch for its truthfulness. It is not 'derived'. It is the beginning, the ‘seed’, upon which to build and grow all ‘true’ knowledge.

Objective Truths (#2) are the next highest level of ‘certainties’; these are “logically derived” via deduction. These truths are known and qualified as “logical truths”.

Subjective (#3) (“experientially derived”), and Religious (#4) truths are not trustworthy to yield ‘true’ (real; certain) knowledge. Those truths reliant upon the uncertain nature of experiential objects, or from blind faiths, can never be certain, or known as truthful.

Non-truths (#5) are not logically possible.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby mitchellmckain on December 28th, 2017, 11:56 pm 

RJG » December 28th, 2017, 10:04 pm wrote:
Asparagus wrote:Empiricism - is it tenable?

NO --

1. Logic always trump Science.

Logical coherence is the requirement for anything to even be meaningful. But all that means is that logic precedes science -- science must abide by its rules as much as anything else which wants to be meaningful. Thus, it is more fundamental, but also even less productive. Indeed, all it does is take you to equivalent conclusions from premises of your own choice. And thus it doesn't really take you anywhere. It cannot therefore trump science because it cannot really give you anything by itself, for the value of anything derived is no more than the value of the things you have presumed.

RJG » December 28th, 2017, 10:04 pm wrote:2. Can't get objectivity from subjectivity.

Incorrect. Science gets objectivity by providing written procedures which anyone can follow to get the same result. The most that logic will get you is a reason for those who disagree with you to reject your premises along with your conclusions.

RJG » December 28th, 2017, 10:04 pm wrote:Truth hierarchy:

1. Absolute truth -- undeniable/undoubtable (…Descartes foundation of all knowledge)
2. Objective truth -- logically derived - via logic/math (a priori; pre-experiential)
3. Subjective truth -- experientially derived - via subjective experiences (a posteriori; post-experiential)
4. Religious truth -- via blind faiths
5. Non-truth -- via logical impossibilities

1. Absolute truth is mostly an absolute myth. But I would say that there is a basis for elements of absolute morality as opposed to the relativism of social convention, but it is only to be found in the reasons why some things are better than other things.
2. Objective truth is derived by science.
3. Subjective truth is accepted for a great variety of subjective reasons and the key point is that however convincing those reasons may be for your own belief they are do not provide any basis for a reasonable expectation that others will agree with you. Logic doesn't help with this in the slightest for there is no more reason why people should accept your logically derived conclusions any more than your subjective premises.
4. Religious truth is just one example of subjective truth. Like any other it can be judged according to the following:
I - Is it logical coherent? If not then it isn't even meaningful - just nonsense.
II - Is it consistent with the findings of science? If not then it isn't even reasonable - i.e. this is the case of blind faith and willful ignorance. And I can give some examples of atheist beliefs in this category.
III - Is it compatible with the ideals of a free society? If not then I wouldn't even consider it to be moral.
5. Non-truth? This how people categorize things which don't agree with their own subjective truths.

RJG » December 28th, 2017, 10:04 pm wrote:An Absolute Truth (#1) is the highest level of ‘certainty’ (real-ness); it is the singular premise/conclusion statement (that Descartes was searching for) that does not require supporting premises to vouch for its truthfulness. It is not 'derived'. It is the beginning, the ‘seed’, upon which to build and grow all ‘true’ knowledge.

It is the highest degree of hot air that people spout for their subjective beliefs.

RJG » December 28th, 2017, 10:04 pm wrote:Objective Truths (#2) are the next highest level of ‘certainties’; these are “logically derived” via deduction. These truths are known and qualified as “logical truths”.

This is what happens when people replace the objectivity of science with nothing but the empty rhetoric of their ideological gobble-dee-gook.

RJG » December 28th, 2017, 10:04 pm wrote:Subjective (#3) (“experientially derived”), and Religious (#4) truths are not trustworthy to yield ‘true’ (real; certain) knowledge. Those truths reliant upon the uncertain nature of experiential objects, or from blind faiths, can never be certain, or known as truthful.

Personal experience is the source of the highest degree of certainty for personal acceptance of truth. In that regard it trumps science and logical argumentation of any kind as well. But it only works for those having such a personal experience. For those who do not have such an experience, it is completely worthless.

RJG » December 28th, 2017, 10:04 pm wrote:Non-truths (#5) are not logically possible.

Incorrect. Just because something is logically possible does not mean it is true. And conversely, just because something is un-true does not mean it is logically impossible.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby BadgerJelly on December 29th, 2017, 5:54 am 

Explication is not revelation.

So, explaining how to ride a bike is not the same as riding a bike. Here the experience of the act outweighs the understanding of the procedures that need to be carried out in order to ride a bike.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby Lomax on December 29th, 2017, 1:05 pm 

Asparagus » December 25th, 2017, 5:28 pm wrote:This is talking about an individual, not a group. Only groups are subject to natural selection.

You say this as if you know something the scientific community doesn't. Currently there's no unanimous agreement on whether to take the gene's eye view of natural selection, or the group's eye view, or the individual's eye view, or some combination of the three. For my part I find the gene-centric theory the most persuasive but this doesn't entitle me to say that Trivers's theory is not taken seriously by people who work in this field.
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Re: Empiricism - is it tenable?

Postby Asparagus on December 29th, 2017, 2:28 pm 

Lomax » December 29th, 2017, 1:05 pm wrote:
Asparagus » December 25th, 2017, 5:28 pm wrote:This is talking about an individual, not a group. Only groups are subject to natural selection.

You say this as if you know something the scientific community doesn't. Currently there's no unanimous agreement on whether to take the gene's eye view of natural selection, or the group's eye view, or the individual's eye view, or some combination of the three. For my part I find the gene-centric theory the most persuasive but this doesn't entitle me to say that Trivers's theory is not taken seriously by people who work in this field.

When you get a moment, take a closer look at that study. It was explicitly stated that the biological basis is unknown. The authors were not asserting a genetic basis for it. When adaption was mentioned, it was referring to an individual adapting to his or her environment, not a species adapting through natural selection.

I didn't continue looking through the links you provided because the first one failed to support your claim. If one of the others does a better job of it, I'd be interested. Could you point it out?
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