[FoRK] Philosophy, for whoever needs it
Stephen D. Williams
sdw at lig.net
Mon Jun 23 11:53:06 PDT 2008
+1, clearly put. So, the first questions are: How, in concrete terms,
would I be able to prove that you were wrong? Why isn't a more mundane
explanation good enough to believe instead?
Perhaps Objectivism has a good place as an introduction to certain ideas
in their simplified, immature form. Many seem to latch onto it in
college and for a while after. Perhaps it is the Santa Claus of philosophy.
Jeff Bone wrote:
> Dr. Ernie and I have been having an offline discussion and with some
> pressure from him I made some clarifying statements about my
> philosophical / epistemological / what have you assumptions. He has
> suggested that this might be useful (have no idea how or why) for the
> list as a whole, so with a few clarifying edits and other corrections,
> here goes.
> Begin forwarded message:
> From: Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org>
> Date: June 23, 2008 10:50:27 AM CDT
> To: Dr. Ernie Prabhakar <drernie at radicalcentrism.org>
> Subject: Re: [FoRK] Sanity from... YOU? Ha...
> On Jun 23, 2008, at 10:07 AM, Dr. Ernie Prabhakar wrote:
>> Hi Jeff,
>> On Jun 23, 2008, at 7:57 AM, Jeff Bone wrote:
>>> Oh, come on, give me a break Dr. Ernie. What do *you* call the
>>> system of approaching reality that proceeds *solely* from the
>>> evidence of the senses and the application of --- well, I would say
>>> "reason" but apparently you have a more expansive definition of
>>> that, and it would be circular anyway, so --- logic, methodical
>>> thinking, rigorous standards of evidence, non-proliferation of
>>> unnecessary entities, rejection of conjecture that's not based on
>>> concrete, reproducible, objective, universal evidence, etc?
>> Um, I think I would call that Objectivism, or Logical Positivism. Is
>> that what you are espousing?
> NO on "Objectivism."
> Have you even READ any of that stuff? I would have considered myself
> a member of that camp for many years, but extricated myself from it
> several years ago. What I'm talking about is pure epistemology.
> Objectivism is a political religion disguised as bad philosophy. (In
> the strict sense, it is a religion. It has two gods: mind and
> money.) It proceeds ostensibly from rationalism and empiricism, but
> makes strong statements which I disagree with about the means of
> connecting reality and knowledge, not to mention its expansive and
> often ill-supported forays into political philosophy, ethics, etc. I
> don't necessarily disagree with many of its conclusions, but it is
> definitely NOT an epistemological framework and OFTEN does not
> adequately get from premise to conclusion under any rigorous
> epistemological method I can accept.
> Logical positivism is a better description of the epistemological
> framework(s) which I can accept, unfortunately it introduces a number
> of additional features that aren't necessary to what I'm talking
> about; it is IMHO overly concerned with various aspects of
> metaphysics, language, and so on. (Not a big fan of Wittgenstein,
> If you want to use historical terms of philosophy, I'm espousing
> rationalism and empiricism in their non-exclusive and strong senses,
> and these motivate the adoption of the scientific method as the most
> reliable way of obtaining common knowledge. Beyond that, I'm not
> taking any strong philosophical stand. I'm also not insisting on
> either reductionism nor physical implementation of the method; others
> means, including the purely rationalist, work just as well. However
> (I claim) no valid rationalist gedankenexperiment can proceed from
> entities that have not been previously established by either
> constructive or empirical means.
> I'm constructivist in my mathematics (which should give you some clue
> as to how *not* to attempt to prove the existence of divinity) --- for
> example, I am skeptical of the usual uses of the law of the excluded
> middle --- though in informal argument I often blithely ignore that
> fact. I am loosely speaking an intuitionist; in both mathematics and
> general philosophy I reject Platonism out-of-hand. Having said that,
> I do believe in the possibility of impossibility theorems, but believe
> that most forms of such things to date may be flawed.
> Popper's critical rationalism is closest to my own opinion with
> respect to metaphysical claims. Either such claims are empirically
> falsifiable, and hence within the realm of rationalism and empirical
> knowledge, or they are not, in which case I have no use for them and
> grant them no epistemological standing whatever. This is the grounds
> on which I reject your --- or anyone's --- statements about the
> existence or nature of a divinity. You haven't presented me with
> anything falsifiable. Note that this Popperian stance is in contrast
> to the usual logical positivism; for example, critical rationalism
> attaches no special importance to the predictive power of a theory;
> such predictions say nothing about the truth or falsity of a
> hypothesis in any strong (absolute) sense.
> This, I suspect, is where most people get confused and annoyed with
> me. I recognize two different classes of truth, and I'm often not
> very careful in discussion about distinguishing between them or
> between the methods used to arrive at them. I distinguish between the
> "absolutely true" --- not in a Platonic sense of absolute, but in the
> sense of knowledge gained by the application of critical rationalism
> --- and the merely probably-true, i.e., knowledge gained on the basis
> of logical positivist reason and e.g. the predictive power of a
> theory. So when I discount divinity out of hand, that's my critical
> rationalist speaking --- I'm rejecting the claims because they cannot
> be falsified, therefore they have no epistemological standing
> whatsoever. Something that can be but has not been falsified, which
> is further positively supported (e.g. through establishing a track
> record of predictive capacity) has a kind of Bayesian epistemological
> standing in proportion to the degree to which it has been supported.
> Most scientific knowledge --- or rather, most positive knowledge of
> any kind, IMHO --- falls into the latter category. Very few ideas,
> and almost no positive ideas, fall into the former camp. But the ones
> that do, do with certainty.
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