Silly Subjectivism

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Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 05:20 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;170149 wrote:
I have the strong impression (am I mistaken?) that, except among backwoods religionists (of whom there are far too many), the most widely held position on this question, both inside and outside the academy, is that either there is no objective knowledge at all, or else scientific knowledge (including mathematics) is objective, but nothing else is; thus, anyone like me who wishes to defend the possibility of objective, non-scientific knowledge feels acutely uncomfortable doing so (unless he or she is an idiot, which I hope I am not, even though I nearly always feel like one).


I'm an outsider, of course, as far the academy goes, but here's my little spin. I think of objectivity as an ideal, something to tend toward. For practical purposes we have objectivity enough, even if this objectivity isn't so objective upon careful examination. Maybe this investigation is only pursued by those with an aesthetic itch for dialectical coherence. I suggest that our concepts exist systematically, as if in a network with more or less tension/friction here and there. This is why I say that truth and beauty might indeed be strongly related. Keats has a point.
What can proof be, if not a form of persuasion? How does proof work?

As far as objective non-scientific knowledge goes, I suggest that mathematics (and logic) is non-scientific in a certain sense. What grounds them? What do we mean by tautology? If we were really dealing with tautologies, both would be worthless, except as sculpture. Of course this depends on one's conception of tautology. "I am what I am" can be interpreted as something quite informative. Ah, exegesis!

Do we really need this word "objective"? I agree that there are seemingly universal forms of knowledge not associated in any obvious way with natural science. Investigations like Jung's, for instance. Are you referring to anything like this? The structure of passion, symbols of transformation? Eros high and low? I have ideas on this I haven't shared with the forum, because it's a dangerous territory. Of course you may be talking about something entirely different. As far as comfort goes, I welcome your thoughts, on whatever issue. If you ever want a test market, private message me.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 06:11 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;170159 wrote:
I think of objectivity as an ideal, something to tend toward.

So do I, and I think that most statements of opinion do stretch towards objectivity, otherwise what is their point?
Reconstructo;170159 wrote:
What can proof be, if not a form of persuasion? How does proof work?

Proof is rational persuasion. This of course pushes the problem back to defining 'rational'. I'll duck that!
Reconstructo;170159 wrote:

As far as objective non-scientific knowledge goes, I suggest that mathematics (and logic) is non-scientific in a certain sense.

I was lumping mathematics in with science in what I wrote, but it's definitely not an empirical science (whatever Mill says). In my deranged fantasies (I exaggerate slightly!) I have tended to daydream of mathematics as if it could be a substitute for all non-empirical objective knowledge. This is clearly ridiculous. But I certainly take your point. Many statements of what can and cannot be counted as objective knowledge have mathematics as an obvious counterexample.
Reconstructo;170159 wrote:

Do we really need this word "objective"?

It tends to get people's hackles up, apparently because they usually seem to take a claim of objectivity as implying a claim to authority (perhaps even infallible authority) . But it does not imply any such thing, and I don't want to be intimidated out of using it, especially not by a psychological projection of that very intention to intimidate!
Reconstructo;170159 wrote:
I agree that there are seemingly universal forms of knowledge not associated in any obvious way with natural science. Investigations like Jung's, for instance. Are you referring to anything like this? The structure of passion, symbols of transformation? Eros high and low?

Yes, psychology and ethics are probably the main examples of (mostly) non-empirical, objective knowledge which I have at the back of my mind.
Reconstructo;170159 wrote:
I have ideas on this I haven't shared with the forum, because it's a dangerous territory.

This surprises me, because you don't seem to be one to avoid putting yourself in danger here. Just how dangerous is what you have in mind? Are we in H. P. Lovecraft territory? Smile
Reconstructo;170159 wrote:
Of course you may be talking about something entirely different. As far as comfort goes, I welcome your thoughts, on whatever issue. If you ever want a test market, private message me.

I don't think I have any ideas which I feel I have to keep under wraps - but that might only be because I am hiding them even from myself ... like those deranged fantasies about mathematics which I had in my youth, and which Lacan perhaps shares ... am I getting warm? Smile
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 28 May, 2010 06:26 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;170140 wrote:
That's half of what I do here, but you always claim that you can't or don't understand me. Does anyone seriously accuse me of being at a loss for words?:detective:


What would that have to do with whether you support yours assertions, or even can do so?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 04:15 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;168326 wrote:
It is not a matter of opinion whether it is a matter of opinion whether vanilla or chocolate ice-cream tastes better since there is no fact of the matter about whether something tastes better or not.

That's your opinion...:Glasses:

And yes I'm sort of joking w/ you.

---------- Post added 05-29-2010 at 05:18 PM ----------

Twirlip;170173 wrote:
So do I, and I think that most statements of opinion do stretch towards objectivity, otherwise what is their point?

Agreed! "Being is revealed by discourse."

---------- Post added 05-29-2010 at 05:20 PM ----------

Twirlip;170173 wrote:

Proof is rational persuasion. This of course pushes the problem back to defining 'rational'. I'll duck that!

That's dead center, in my opinion. What is rationality? Is a rational argument one where fists are not accepted as sentences? Is science as much about peaceful communication as anything else? Is rationality connected directly to humility and respect for the perspectives of others? Science seems founded on consensus. It's even essentially democratic, to speak metaphorically.

---------- Post added 05-29-2010 at 05:28 PM ----------

Twirlip;170173 wrote:

I was lumping mathematics in with science in what I wrote, but it's definitely not an empirical science (whatever Mill says). In my deranged fantasies (I exaggerate slightly!) I have tended to daydream of mathematics as if it could be a substitute for all non-empirical objective knowledge. This is clearly ridiculous. But I certainly take your point. Many statements of what can and cannot be counted as objective knowledge have mathematics as an obvious counterexample.

I'm an intuitionist when it comes to mathematics. I think we have these non-natural (an other to sensation) forms through which we interpret nature. What is concept made of? What is number made of? I think the Being of beings is unity. I think that mathematics is an iteration of perfect abstract unity, or perfectly white-washed being. Perfect indeterminate being, which leaves its one irreducible property intact. I think we can only think in terms of the discrete. But I haven't felt understood generally on this. So who knows? I think math is a objective in a way. Because if this intuitive foundation is universal, then it 's going to function like something objective. Quantity is a fundamental aspect of human thought in my opinion, more fundamental than the notion of the subject or self. I argue this because the self/subject is already being conceived of as singular, as a unity. Quantity is everywhere in human conception. It's arguable that mathematics is more fundamental than psychology or physics. :Glasses:
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 04:34 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;170173 wrote:

This surprises me, because you don't seem to be one to avoid putting yourself in danger here. Just how dangerous is what you have in mind? Are we in H. P. Lovecraft territory? Smile

I'll have to look that up! I have theories that unite the sexual, the so-called "mystical," music, and mathematics. Freud, Jung, Blake, Lawrence, the Bible, Cantor, Kronecker, etc. But none of it would matter (these sources) if I did not experience the fusion related to such as "objective" in the sense of a felt universal. The sexual is still taboo, really, especially if connected with religion, and especially if one has a "lust" for the "truth." :devilish:
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 04:39 pm
@kennethamy,
apehead wrote:
Since we are incapable of objective observation, you are relying on faith in the perception of others, and the probability that they haven't all been misinterpreting the data


What makes you think that because we perceive things, we aren't capable of knowing what is objective? Oh, and faith is belief without justification. I think you're misusing that word.

Quote:
Well, you may have guessed correctly, but you wouldn't know whether your theory was true or not, in the objective sense.


Well, here's a start. You say he could have guessed correctly. And while it's abundantly clear (except to you) that he didn't actually guess at all (If I look at an atlas and learn where Switzerland is located, this is not me guessing where Switzerland is located. Are you mad?) what the capital of Ecuador is, at least you admit that he could have come upon a truth.

And since he believed something, he had justification for that belief, and that something was true, he knew that something. So, it appears as though he can know things. Well, whatdaya know? Knowledge isn't impossible after all.

Quote:
Perhaps you are in a catatonic coma, a dreamworld in which you've fabricated you, me, Quito, Ecuador, South America, The Earth, etc. As ridiculous as it sounds, there would be no way for you to prove or disprove either of our ontological hypothesis, making them equally possible.


That's bull. We have good reason to believe the people and objects you mentioned exist objectively. You know that little voice of reason that made you write "as ridiculous as it sounds"? Give him a home. Start being rational here. Remember that just because it is logically possible that all that nonsense is occurring, that doesn't make any of it plausible.

By the way, if I observed you in your daily life, I'm more than sure I wouldn't find you sincerely considering any of what you just said. No, you'd go about life as it were real. Real life. Go figure!
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 04:51 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;170527 wrote:
Twirlip;170173 wrote:
This surprises me, because you don't seem to be one to avoid putting yourself in danger here. Just how dangerous is what you have in mind? Are we in H. P. Lovecraft territory? Smile
I'll have to look that up! I have theories that unite the sexual, the so-called "mystical," music, and mathematics. Freud, Jung, Blake, Lawrence, the Bible, Cantor, Kronecker, etc. But none of it would matter (these sources) if I did not experience the fusion related to such as "objective" in the sense of a felt universal. The sexual is still taboo, really, especially if connected with religion, and especially if one has a "lust" for the "truth." :devilish:

Maybe it's not the Cthulhu Mythos and the dreaded Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, but I daresay with a pinch of Freud, a dash of Crowley, and a soupcon of Robert Anton Wilson, we could whip up a cauldron of occult lore such that one sip would be enough to cause kennethamy's head to explode. Only kidding. :devilish:
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 06:13 pm
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;170530 wrote:
Maybe it's not the Cthulhu Mythos and the dreaded Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, but I daresay with a pinch of Freud, a dash of Crowley, and a soupcon of Robert Anton Wilson, we could whip up a cauldron of occult lore such that one sip would be enough to cause kennethamy's head to explode. Only kidding. :devilish:



Yes, and we should write it in 11 dimensional dream-language (think Finnegans Wake, which is only 3 simultaneous levels of meaning) with footnotes written in slang Esperanto by dyslexic crackheads.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 07:50 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;170560 wrote:
Yes, and we should write it in 11 dimensional dream-language (think Finnegans Wake, which is only 3 simultaneous levels of meaning) with footnotes written in slang Esperanto by dyslexic crackheads.

Huh! Child's play.
Quote:
I'm writing part of an extended poem, as an experiment; after I've finished one canto, I'll be able to choose an approach for integrating the patterns within all the arts. I'm employing six modern and four ancient languages; they include most of the significant worldviews of human civilization. Each one provides different shades of meaning and poetic effects; some of the juxtapositions are delightful. Each line of the poem contains neologisms, born by extruding words through the declensions of another language. If I were to complete the entire piece, it could be thought of Finnegans Wake multiplied by Pound's Cantos.
Nah ... too easy!
Quote:
I'm designing a new language. I've reached the limits of conventional languages, and now they frustrate my attempts to progress further. They lack the power to express concepts that I need, and even in their own domain, they're imprecise and unwieldy. They're hardly fit for speech, let alone thought.
Existing linguistic theory is useless; I'll reevaluate basic logic to determine the suitable atomic components for my language. This language will support a dialect co-expressive with all of mathematics, so that any equation I write will have a linguistic equivalent. However, mathematics will be only a small part of the language, not the whole; unlike Leibniz, I recognize symbolic logic's limits. Other dialects I have planned will be co-expressive with my notations for aesthetics and cognition. This will be a time-consuming project, but the end result will clarify my thoughts enormously. After I've translated all that I know into this language, the patterns I seek should become evident.

[...]

My new language is taking shape. It is gestalt-oriented, rendering it beautifully suited for thought, but impractical for writing or speech. It wouldn't be transcribed in the form of words arranged linearly, but as a giant ideogram, to be absorbed as a whole. Such an ideogram could convey, more deliberately than a picture, what a thousand words cannot. The intricacy of each ideogram would be commensurate with the amount of information contained; I amuse myself with the notion of a colossal ideogram that describes the entire universe.
The printed page is too clumsy and static for this language; the only serviceable media would be video or holo, displaying a time-evolving graphic image. Speaking this language would be out of the question, given the limited bandwidth of the human larynx.

[...]
My mind seethes with expletives from ancient and modern languages, and they taunt me with their crudeness, reminding me that my ideal language would offer terms with sufficient venom to express my present frustration.
I cannot complete my artificial language; it's too large a project for my present tools. Weeks of concentrated effort have yielded nothing usable. I've attempted to write it via bootstrapping, by employing the rudimentary language that I've already defined to rewrite the language and produce successively fuller versions. Yet each new version only highlights its own inadequacies, forcing me to expand my ultimate goal, condemning it to the status of a Holy Grail at the end of a divergent infinite regress. This is no better than trying to create it ex nihilo.

[...]
Revelation.
I understand the mechanism of my own thinking. I know precisely how I know, and my understanding is recursive. I understand the infinite regress of this self-knowing, not by proceeding step by step endlessly, but by apprehending the limit
But he hadn't ... Now read on.
Understand - a novelette by Ted Chiang
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 08:04 pm
@kennethamy,
Wow, that was pretty damn engrossing, especially this part.
Quote:

Revelation.
I understand the mechanism of my own thinking. I know precisely how I know, and my understanding is recursive. I understand the infinite regress of this self-knowing, not by proceeding step by step endlessly, but by apprehending the limit
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 08:13 pm
@Reconstructo,
It's a great story.

There have been frequent readings of it on BBC Radio 7, but I don't know if it is possible to listen to that station outside the UK. (If not, it's a pity - lots of great comedy there, in particular.) The book it's taken from, Stories of Your Life and Others, is also brilliant, but the other stories are nothing like this one (his first published story, I believe), and several of them are surprisingly funny, in a philosophical kind of way.

Sorry(ish) about the OT. Also, if anyone feels there are spoilers in the excerpts from the story (I tried to avoid giving any), I'll delete them.
 
apehead
 
Reply Tue 1 Jun, 2010 06:53 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;170123 wrote:
But of course there is a difference between the question, what justifies my belief that the fire truck is red, and why is the fire truck red.

OK, I'm with you so far.
kennethamy;170123 wrote:
The answer to the first is that it appears red to me and to everyone else I ask or would ask.

Oy vey... I'm afraid to ask, but does this mean that the majority can determine objective reality?
kennethamy;170123 wrote:
The answer to the second is that it was made or painted red. How could there be no difference? I don't understand what you are asking me to do. If you are asking me why I believe that the hypothesis that the fire truck is red is true (if it is an hypothesis) than my answer is (of course) that the fire truck looks red, and that there is no reason to believe it is not red. That is an adequate justification of the red fire truck hypothesis so far as I can see. Why do you think it is not?


All I'm saying is that there is no way to be 100% certain of the fact that the firetruck is red, unless you are willing to take it on faith. Faith in your own perception, faith in the fact that Jesus told you, or science told you, or that 4 out of 5 dentists agree. Regardless of what you are putting your faith in, if you are claiming a fact, you are claiming your faith.

kennethamy;170123 wrote:
I don't have to have superhuman powers to have knowledge of what you call objective reality. All I need is my normal powers of perception. That does not mean that I may not think I know that the fire truck is red, and it not be red. Of course, since I am human I may err. But, since there is no particular reason to think that I have erred, there is no reason to think I do not know that the truck is red. As I pointed out before, it does that follow that because it is possible that I am mistaken, that I am mistaken, and if I am not mistaken, then, of course, I do know that the truck is red. After all, for me to know that the truck is red it is not necessary for it to be impossible that I am wrong. It just has to be the case that I am not wrong. Now gods, I suppose cannot be wrong. Mortal can be wrong. But from the fact that I am not a god, and so cannot be wrong, why does it follow that I am wrong?


I'm not saying you are wrong, I'm saying you don't know.

kennethamy;170123 wrote:
You seem to think that for me to know it must be that I cannot be wrong. But that is false. For me to know it is only necessary that I am not wrong (not that I cannot be wrong, like a god). Gods may have certainty. Mortals have knowledge. That is the difference.

But you don't know if you are wrong or not.

---------- Post added 06-01-2010 at 09:19 AM ----------

Reconstructo;170134 wrote:
Thanks! I agree with you on the crux. I think that the belief in true objectivity has so little practical backblow that no one bothers to really look at it. It's logically weak, but in a practical sense quite functional. We are so used to looking at the world as if disembodied that we have forgotten that all human life is what they call subjective. Oh, but where is the subject? Of course the subject concept is quite justified practically, but it too has logical weaknesses. An organizing abstraction. That's what it seems to me.

Stirner was an interesting character, by the way.


"Man, your head is haunted; you have wheels in your head! You imagine great things, and depict to yourself a whole world of gods that has an existence for you, a spirit-realm to which you suppose yourself to be called, an ideal that beckons to you. You have a fixed idea! Do not think that I am jesting or speaking figuratively when I regard those persons who cling to the Higher, and (because the vast majority belongs under this head) almost the whole world of men, as veritable fools, fools in a madhouse. What is it, then, that is called a "fixed idea"? An idea that has subjected the man to itself. When you recognize, with regard to such a fixed idea, that it is a folly, you shut its slave up in an asylum. And is the truth of the faith, say, which we are not to doubt; the majesty of (e. g.) the people, which we are not to strike at (he who does is guilty of -- lese-majesty); virtue, against which the censor is not to let a word pass, that morality may be kept pure; -- are these not "fixed ideas"? Is not all the stupid chatter of (e. g.) most of our newspapers the babble of fools who suffer from the fixed idea of morality, legality, Christianity, etc., and only seem to go about free because the madhouse in which they walk takes in so broad a space?" - Max Stirner

---------- Post added 06-01-2010 at 09:22 AM ----------

Twirlip;170149 wrote:
I have the strong impression (am I mistaken?) that, except among backwoods religionists (of whom there are far too many), the most widely held position on this question, both inside and outside the academy, is that either there is no objective knowledge at all, or else scientific knowledge (including mathematics) is objective, but nothing else is; thus, anyone like me who wishes to defend the possibility of objective, non-scientific knowledge feels acutely uncomfortable doing so (unless he or she is an idiot, which I hope I am not, even though I nearly always feel like one).

And so, like those backwoods religionists, you are adrift in a sea of uncertainty, with only your faith as a life raft preventing you from sinking into the inky depths of the nihilistic abyss. Of course, I'm still a bit confused as to why this would be considered a bad thing...:shifty:

---------- Post added 06-01-2010 at 09:43 AM ----------

Zetherin;170528 wrote:
What makes you think that because we perceive things, we aren't capable of knowing what is objective? Oh, and faith is belief without justification. I think you're misusing that word.

Because that's the human condition. We are incapable of omniscience, there fore we cannot perceive facts, or truths.



Zetherin;170528 wrote:
Well, here's a start. You say he could have guessed correctly. And while it's abundantly clear (except to you) that he didn't actually guess at all (If I look at an atlas and learn where Switzerland is located, this is not me guessing where Switzerland is located. Are you mad?) what the capital of Ecuador is, at least you admit that he could have come upon a truth.

And since he believed something, he had justification for that belief, and that something was true, he knew that something. So, it appears as though he can know things. Well, whatdaya know? Knowledge isn't impossible after all.


What was his justification? Keep peeling back the layers of justification, and eventually you will find nothing. Much like a hollow onion.



Zetherin;170528 wrote:
That's bull. We have good reason to believe the people and objects you mentioned exist objectively. You know that little voice of reason that made you write "as ridiculous as it sounds"? Give him a home. Start being rational here. Remember that just because it is logically possible that all that nonsense is occurring, that doesn't make any of it plausible.


Rationality is dependent on you level of knowledge. Since humans are limited on the extent of their knowledge, they cannot be perfectly rational.

For example, if I never took a geography class, I'd think the Earth was flat. That is an immensely rational statement, given my ignorance of the current trends of "truth".

Zetherin;170528 wrote:
By the way, if I observed you in your daily life, I'm more than sure I wouldn't find you sincerely considering any of what you just said. No, you'd go about life as it were real. Real life. Go figure!
Strawman, but I'll entertain it, as it allows me to type about Stirner! Although you are correct in your assumption that I interact with the world as though it were real, I only do so because it helps me to realize my goals. I don't have to be assured of wether what I see is real, or if I am real, etc. because it really doesn't matter to me. The reason I bring this sort of stuff up on forums is because I am afraid of literalists trying to coerce me into buying into their "truths". I find that a healthy dose of skepticism keeps me more grounded than idealists. How's that for ironic!?

"I say: liberate yourself as far as you can, and you have done your part; for it is not given to every one to break through all limits, or, more expressively, not to everyone is that a limit which is a limit for the rest. Consequently, do not tire yourself with toiling at the limits of others; enough if you tear down yours. [...] He who overturns one of his limits may have shown others the way and the means; the overturning of their limits remains their affair." - Max Stirner

To Twirlip and Reconstructo,

You guys might like "The Invisible Landscape" by Terrence and Doug McKenna. It's right on the verge of intelligible, the glossolalia of an ecstatic hallucinogenic revelations. Terrence also has some interesting/strange seminars on Youtube.
 
 

 
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