Does reason justify itself?

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kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 06:49 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:


Isn't this an example of why we should be mindful of context, rather than an example of some inherent fault in experience?


Obviously, if we are going to use evidence, we assume that the evidence exists. It is not any inherent fault in something that it need not exist.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 10:00 am
@kennethamy,
"In the First Meditation, Descartes's major argument for dubiety is the "argument from illusion". We have made mistakes in the past, but did not know we did, and found out we did only later. Therefore, the empirical judgment we make at this moment may also be mistaken, and we not know it, and find out about it (if ever we do) only later." (kennethamy, post 19)

This is a great perspective on meditation one. But I wonder if the major point of the first meditations isn't "argument from illusions" but rather "universal skepticism about senses and reasons" which I have a hunch we may both mean the same thing, only different defintions and conceptions. But It seems to me that an "illusory argument" is part of a greater schema. Descartes in his first meditation posits universal skepticism (, doubting whatever he can and examining all previous beliefs. But how can Descartes doubt all things in his past? Descartes reasons that knowledge comes from senses and reasons, because if he can doubt a major thing, he doesn't need to doubt lesser things (men in madhouses example). But even if Descartes possesses his faculties, how does he know he's not dreaming? So perhaps he can doubt his sense because he cannot distinguish between him dreaming or not. But even if he is dreaming, isn't he dreaming about things that are in waking life? etc.

I agree, empirical judgments are faulty at this point. But the wax example is in meditation two, not one, but carries through to the very end of meditations. Meditation one is doubting everything. Meditation two's reference to rationalism comes after Descartes establishes the cogito which holds the divine constants.

"(I don't know what you mean by, "Descartes' insight" nor what you mean by "taking it as law" either). Clearly , Descartes does not mean for anyone to take the Malign Genie argument literally. That argument is only that it is possible that everything might very well appear as it does, and that yet, there may be no material world at all. The invocation of God, later in the Meditations is used to rebut this view. Of course, God presents three (or four, depending on how you count them) arguments for a non-deceiving God. (kennethamy, post 19)

I have to admit, your question on what "Descartes insight" and "taking it as law" may be the result of misreading. Somehow you think I take the matter seriously or out of context. In post #18, I stated that it would be "silly" to base assumptions off of constants like the deceiving demon or god in the search for "what is the safest way to knowledge." Keep in mind, the purpose of me bringing Descartes up in this thread is not Descartes text, it's the notion that he brought dealing with rationalism and empiricism. His texts validity is highly debatable, as we have just witnessed. Descartes simply gives us a good example to work with that can be taken away from the grander text.

As for God presenting three-possibly four arguments for a non-deceiving demon, I REALLY disagree with you there. I must assume you mean Descartes, because Descartes doesn't come to any real kind of conclusion until he enumerates in mediation six. And God does not have anything to say on the issue. But your theory of there being 3 or 4 arguments for a deceiving god is very interesting. That's a good topic for a Descartes related thread. That would be a great discussion.

Addressing Didymos Thomas, I agree with you that we should be mindful of the context, because this argument is in the context of Descartes rationalization as it applies to the wax analogy which encapsulates fault in the empirical experiance.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 11:18 am
@VideCorSpoon,
Quote:
Obviously, if we are going to use evidence, we assume that the evidence exists. It is not any inherent fault in something that it need not exist.


My thoughts exactly.

Quote:
Addressing Didymos Thomas, I agree with you that we should be mindful of the context, because this argument is in the context of Descartes rationalization as it applies to the wax analogy which encapsulates fault in the empirical experiance.


Okay, but I'm not so sure you have established that such a fault exists. As kennethamy said, 'it is not any inherent fault in something that it need not exist'.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 11:33 am
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:
"In the First Meditation, Descartes's major argument for dubiety is the "argument from illusion". We have made mistakes in the past, but did not know we did, and found out we did only later. Therefore, the empirical judgment we make at this moment may also be mistaken, and we not know it, and find out about it (if ever we do) only later." (kennethamy, post 19)

This is a great perspective on meditation one. But I wonder if the major point of the first meditations isn't "argument from illusions" but rather "universal skepticism about senses and reasons" which I have a hunch we may both mean the same thing, only different defintions and conceptions. But It seems to me that an "illusory argument" is part of a greater schema. Descartes in his first meditation posits universal skepticism (, doubting whatever he can and examining all previous beliefs. But how can Descartes doubt all things in his past? Descartes reasons that knowledge comes from senses and reasons, because if he can doubt a major thing, he doesn't need to doubt lesser things (men in madhouses example). But even if Descartes possesses his faculties, how does he know he's not dreaming? So perhaps he can doubt his sense because he cannot distinguish between him dreaming or not. But even if he is dreaming, isn't he dreaming about things that are in waking life? etc.

I agree, empirical judgments are faulty at this point. But the wax example is in meditation two, not one, but carries through to the very end of meditations. Meditation one is doubting everything. Meditation two's reference to rationalism comes after Descartes establishes the cogito which holds the divine constants.

"(I don't know what you mean by, "Descartes' insight" nor what you mean by "taking it as law" either). Clearly , Descartes does not mean for anyone to take the Malign Genie argument literally. That argument is only that it is possible that everything might very well appear as it does, and that yet, there may be no material world at all. The invocation of God, later in the Meditations is used to rebut this view. Of course, God presents three (or four, depending on how you count them) arguments for a non-deceiving God. (kennethamy, post 19)

I have to admit, your question on what "Descartes insight" and "taking it as law" may be the result of misreading. Somehow you think I take the matter seriously or out of context. In post #18, I stated that it would be "silly" to base assumptions off of constants like the deceiving demon or god in the search for "what is the safest way to knowledge." Keep in mind, the purpose of me bringing Descartes up in this thread is not Descartes text, it's the notion that he brought dealing with rationalism and empiricism. His texts validity is highly debatable, as we have just witnessed. Descartes simply gives us a good example to work with that can be taken away from the grander text.

As for God presenting three-possibly four arguments for a non-deceiving demon, I REALLY disagree with you there. I must assume you mean Descartes, because Descartes doesn't come to any real kind of conclusion until he enumerates in mediation six. And God does not have anything to say on the issue. But your theory of there being 3 or 4 arguments for a deceiving god is very interesting. That's a good topic for a Descartes related thread. That would be a great discussion.

Addressing Didymos Thomas, I agree with you that we should be mindful of the context, because this argument is in the context of Descartes rationalization as it applies to the wax analogy which encapsulates fault in the empirical experiance.



The major contention of the First Meditation is that (as I said) empiricism implies skepticism. (In the Second Meditation, Descartes argues that skepticism is false because of the Cogito, and then draws the conclusion, by Modus Tollens, that Empiricism is false). The argument from illusion is the major argument for the conclusion that empiricism implies skepticism.

Yes, of course I meant that Descartes presented three (four) arguments for a non-deceiving (not, of course, a deceiving God) to rebut the Evil Genie bit.

Descartes assumption that knowledge implies certainty is (to my mind) why he thinks that empiricism implies skepticism. Without this assumption (which even was made by the Empiricists) there would be no problem about sense evidence. It is this assumption about certainty being a necessary condition of knowledge, that drives the argument.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Mon 10 Mar, 2008 03:16 pm
@kennethamy,
"The major contention of the First Meditation is that (as I said) empiricism implies skepticism. (In the Second Meditation, Descartes argues that skepticism is false because of the Cogito, and then draws the conclusion, by Modus Tollens, that Empiricism is false). The argument from illusion is the major argument for the conclusion that empiricism implies skepticism." (Kennethamy, Post 24)

We definitely differ on the translation of First Meditations"Yes, of course I meant that Descartes presented three (four) arguments for a non-deceiving (not, of course, a deceiving God) to rebut the Evil Genie bit."

"Descartes assumption that knowledge implies certainty is (to my mind) why he thinks that empiricism implies skepticism. Without this assumption (which even was made by the Empiricists) there would be no problem about sense evidence. It is this assumption about certainty being a necessary condition of knowledge, that drives the argument." (Kennethamy, Post 24)


I think that assumption could only be interpreted in Descartes theory of judgment in meditation 3, and only in regards to the finite intellect compared to the infinite will (which is why we err, etc, etc, etc.) But your thoughts are a departure from Descartes order of compilation. Descartes does not say that knowledge implies certainty, he implies that the onlyand sufficient"Okay, but I'm not so sure you have established that such a fault exists. As kennethamy said, 'it is not any inherent fault in something that it need not exist'."

You base your assumptiion on the fact that I would deject my position on the relative comment of another, it would be tautological to answer such a question. However, I'm glad you agree with Kennethamy, he is a very well informed person and I appreciate his comments.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 11 Mar, 2008 08:26 am
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:
"The major contention of the First Meditation is that (as I said) empiricism implies skepticism. (In the Second Meditation, Descartes argues that skepticism is false because of the Cogito, and then draws the conclusion, by Modus Tollens, that Empiricism is false). The argument from illusion is the major argument for the conclusion that empiricism implies skepticism." (Kennethamy, Post 24)

We definitely differ on the translation of First Meditations"Yes, of course I meant that Descartes presented three (four) arguments for a non-deceiving (not, of course, a deceiving God) to rebut the Evil Genie bit."

"Descartes assumption that knowledge implies certainty is (to my mind) why he thinks that empiricism implies skepticism. Without this assumption (which even was made by the Empiricists) there would be no problem about sense evidence. It is this assumption about certainty being a necessary condition of knowledge, that drives the argument." (Kennethamy, Post 24)


I think that assumption could only be interpreted in Descartes theory of judgment in meditation 3, and only in regards to the finite intellect compared to the infinite will (which is why we err, etc, etc, etc.) But your thoughts are a departure from Descartes order of compilation. Descartes does not say that knowledge implies certainty, he implies that the onlyand sufficient"Okay, but I'm not so sure you have established that such a fault exists. As kennethamy said, 'it is not any inherent fault in something that it need not exist'."

You base your assumptiion on the fact that I would deject my position on the relative comment of another, it would be tautological to answer such a question. However, I'm glad you agree with Kennethamy, he is a very well informed person and I appreciate his comments.


In the First Meditation, Descartes presents three (cumulative) arguments for the conclusion that sense-evidence cannot give us knowledge (understood as certainty). The arguments are: the argument from illusion; the argument from dreaming; and the argument from the the possibility of a malign genie. How else would you describe that than that empiricism implies skepticism? I don't see what that has to do with scientific method.

It is clear that Descartes' arguments here are arguments that that when we use sense evidence, we are liable to be mistaken. But that, of course means, that sense-evidence cannot yield certainty, for certainty just is the impossibility of error. Thus Descartes must be arguing that if sense-evidence cannot give us certainty, it cannot give us knowledge, because to know is to be certain. Descartes argument (not for skepticism, for Descartes is not a skeptic) for the conditional that any perceptual proposition (based on sense-evidence) cannot be known, then clearly hangs on the assumption that only what is known for certain can be known.

As I pointed out, the first two Meditations can be understood as a modus tollens argument:

1. Empiricism implies skepticism (Meditation 1)
2. But, skepticism is false. (Meditation 2. The Cogito)
Therefore, 3. Empiricism is false. (From 1 and 2. Modus Tollens).

Since reason (and evidence) is the only kind of justification there is, the question whether reason justifies itself seems to be self-answering. After all, how else could the use of reason (including evidence) be justified?
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Tue 11 Mar, 2008 03:13 pm
@kennethamy,
"In the First Meditation, Descartes presents three (cumulative) arguments for the conclusion that sense-evidence cannot give us knowledge (understood as certainty). The arguments are: the argument from illusion; the argument from dreaming; and the argument from the the possibility of a malign genie. How else would you describe that than that empiricism implies skepticism? I don't see what that has to do with scientific method." (kennethamy)discourse on method (doubt, analyze, reconstruct, enumerate) and forms the normative framework for meditations, which came a few years later.



And again, Descartes wax example was a snippet out of his rationality to posit a possible answer Glauber in Descartes terms.

It is clear that Descartes' arguments here are arguments that that when we use sense evidence, we are liable to be mistaken. But that, of course means, that sense-evidence cannot yield certainty, for certainty just is the impossibility of error. Thus Descartes must be arguing that if sense-evidence cannot give us certainty, it cannot give us knowledge, because to know is to be certain. Descartes argument (not for skepticism, for Descartes is not a skeptic) for the conditional that any perceptual proposition (based on sense-evidence) cannot be known, then clearly hangs on the assumption that only what is known for certain can be known.
(kennethamy)
As I pointed out, the first two Meditations can be understood as a modus tollens argument:

1. Empiricism implies skepticism (Meditation 1)
2. But, skepticism is false. (Meditation 2. The Cogito)
Therefore, 3. Empiricism is false. (From 1 and 2. Modus Tollens).

(kennethamy)
Since reason (and evidence) is the only kind of justification there is, the question whether reason justifies itself seems to be self-answering. After all, how else could the use of reason (including evidence) be justified?
(kennethamy)

Sure... why not.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 11 Mar, 2008 03:30 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:


As I pointed out, the first two Meditations can be understood as a modus tollens argument:

1. Empiricism implies skepticism (Meditation 1)
2. But, skepticism is false. (Meditation 2. The Cogito)
Therefore, 3. Empiricism is false. (From 1 and 2. Modus Tollens).

(kennethamy)


Logically equivalent to what?
Why would you accept 2 on the assumption of 1? They are independent propositions.
If skepticism is the thesis that knowledge is impossible, and if the Cogito shows that there is a least one proposition that is known, then it follows that skepticism is false.

Whether there is such a thing as absolute certainty does not seem relevant since the above argument has, of course, conditional premises.

If empiricism implies skepticism, and if skepticism is false, then it follows (does it not?) that skepticism is false.

I am just laying out Descartes' master argument in the first two Meditations. Of course, I am not endorsing his premises, but I assumed you knew that.

I don't see that it has anything to do with different translations at all. The issue is simply whether what I laid out is Descartes' master argument, or not.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Tue 11 Mar, 2008 09:09 pm
@kennethamy,
Logically equivalent to what?(kennethamy)

Why would you accept 2 on the assumption of 1? They are independent propositions.
If skepticism is the thesis that knowledge is impossible, and if the Cogito shows that there is a least one proposition that is known, then it follows that skepticism is false. (kennethamy)


But if your outline consists of independent propostions with no connectivity, then there is no basis for the modus tollens inference, let alone the truth value of your conclusion. #3 would have to follow from #2, which follows from #1, otherwise the proof is fractured.

Whether there is such a thing as absolute certainty does not seem relevant since the above argument has, of course, conditional premises. (kennethamy)


I'm glad you understand your argument as such. Conditional premises have antecedents and a conclusion, where the conclusion follows from the premises. I don't think your assertions have latitude to be independent propositions based on the nature of your point.

If empiricism implies skepticism, and if skepticism is false, then it follows (does it not?) that skepticism is false. (kennethamy)


See previous comment.

I am just laying out Descartes' master argument in the first two Meditations. Of course, I am not endorsing his premises, but I assumed you knew that. (kennethamy)
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 11:38 am
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon wrote:
Logically equivalent to what?(kennethamy)

Why would you accept 2 on the assumption of 1? They are independent propositions.
If skepticism is the thesis that knowledge is impossible, and if the Cogito shows that there is a least one proposition that is known, then it follows that skepticism is false. (kennethamy)


But if your outline consists of independent propostions with no connectivity, then there is no basis for the modus tollens inference, let alone the truth value of your conclusion. #3 would have to follow from #2, which follows from #1, otherwise the proof is fractured.

Whether there is such a thing as absolute certainty does not seem relevant since the above argument has, of course, conditional premises. (kennethamy)


I'm glad you understand your argument as such. Conditional premises have antecedents and a conclusion, where the conclusion follows from the premises. I don't think your assertions have latitude to be independent propositions based on the nature of your point.

If empiricism implies skepticism, and if skepticism is false, then it follows (does it not?) that skepticism is false. (kennethamy)


See previous comment.

I am just laying out Descartes' master argument in the first two Meditations. Of course, I am not endorsing his premises, but I assumed you knew that. (kennethamy)


It isn't equivalent to MT, it is MT

The premises are logically independent of one another, which is to say, they do not imply each other. As premises in the argument, we can draw a conclusion from them by MT.

Conditional premises do not, and cannot have a conclusion. Premises are statements, and only argument have a conclusion. I think you may mean that conditionals have an antecedent and a consequent. But the consequent cannot be a conclusion of anything. For, example, the conditional statement, if A is a dog, then Germany is in Europe, is a true conditional statement. But Germany is in Europe is not entailed by A is a dog. I don't understand what you mean by "latitude" in this context.

If empiricism implies skepticism, and skepticism is false, then it does follow, by modus tollens, that empiricism is false. The argument is an instance of the argument form, if p implies q, and q is false, then p is false, and that argument form is modus tollens. So you cannot have any good objection to what I wrote.

The matter has noting to do with the translation far as I can tell. It is true that in the first Meditation, Descartes presents three arguments against the possibility of knowledge through sense-perception. Is that true, or is it not. I understand the view that knowledge is possible through sense-perception to be what is called "empiricism". Is that true, or not.
If it is true that Descartes argues that knowledge is not possible through sense-perception, and if knowledge though sense-perception is empiricism, then Descartes must be arguing that knowledge is not possible through sense-perception. Isn't that right? Next, the view that knowledge is not possible is called skepticism. So, to argue that knowledge is not possible through sense-perception, or empiricism, is to argue that empiricism implies skepticism. Is that not correct?
In the second Meditation, however, Descartes argues that knowledge is possible.

The conclusion, then, must be (whatever else Descartes says in the first two Meditations) that empiricism is false.

I which translation, do you think, does Descartes not argue as above?
 
saiboimushi
 
Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2008 01:59 pm
@kennethamy,
Is there a rational basis for believing that rationality is a means to truth? Or is the supposed nature of rationality an assumption based on faith alone? These questions haunt me as I read your posts, wondering whether we are building our houses on stone or sand.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2008 02:08 pm
@saiboimushi,
saiboimushi wrote:
Is there a rational basis for believing that rationality is a means to truth? Or is the supposed nature of rationality an assumption based on faith alone? These questions haunt me as I read your posts, wondering whether we are building our houses on stone or sand.


Apparently we were able to send a man to the moon by using rationality, namely science.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2008 02:27 pm
@Glauber,
Reason is a tool. And the law of non contradiction seems to be one of the best tools developed in the west, or in the whole world.
 
saiboimushi
 
Reply Fri 4 Apr, 2008 05:58 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Quote:
Apparently we were able to send a man to the moon by using rationality, namely science.


Yes we were.

Quote:
Reason is a tool. And the law of non contradiction seems to be one of the best tools developed in the west, or in the whole world.


Indeed it does seem to be such.

... And yet ... I am not entirely satisfied. Smile
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Sat 5 Apr, 2008 09:16 am
@Glauber,
Quote:

Reason is a tool


Just thinking here, if reason is a tool, where does this tool come from? Is it our minds that create the tool?

Perhaps when we investigating reason, we should pin down what it's origin is.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Sun 13 Apr, 2008 12:02 pm
@de Silentio,
de Silentio wrote:
Just thinking here, if reason is a tool, where does this tool come from? Is it our minds that create the tool?

Perhaps when we investigating reason, we should pin down what it's origin is.


This is an absurd proposition (how can we investigate reason? surely there is a conflict of interest involved). But if we were to do so, we certainly can see it is a product of evolution and what we consider ourselves have little or nothing to do with it.
 
 

 
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