Sufficient conditions of knowledge

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kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 6 Dec, 2009 02:30 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;108473 wrote:
What it has to do with this thread is obvious. We are talking about the word "know."

Hardly any philosophical statement is "literally" true, and even tautologies are not always tautologies -- just as contradictions are sometimes only skin deep. The word literal itself is dead metaphor, and only literal in the sense that there is a strong consensus on what it "means."

I agree that there is no private language, but also that there is no ideal universal language. Observe the disagreement on this thread, for instance. Abstract words are born as metaphors. Philosophic discourse is an ambivalently fictional poetry. It intends to be truth. It intends to impose its interpretations on other minds. Just as your intend to impose your interpretation of the metaphorical word "know" on the rest of us. And just as I intend to impose my interpretation of philosophy as metaphor. Truth is made, not found.

The problem with formal logic is that is does not take the organic nature of language into account. The more abstract a word, the blurrier and more context-bound its meaning is. The word comes from the Anglo-Saxon verb for sex. A person must consider this. It was an intentionally "wrong" use of sex verb that eventually took on a "literal" meaning quite divorced from sex. The bible of course bears witness to this root, as it uses "know" in just such a sexual sense. To "know" something is to be intimate with it. You know?

We haven't even started on the word "sufficient" yet, a word with a root that means "artificial."


The original meaning of a word usually has little to do with its current meaning. Nothing about the question, "Do you know the capital of Ecuador" has anything to do with carnal knowledge. The argument that W comes from the word O, therefore W means O, commits the etymological fallacy.

P is a sufficient condition of Q = If P then Q.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 6 Dec, 2009 03:01 pm
@kennethamy,
The problem is "If P"

I've heard the "etymological fallacy " gag already. No sh*t, man. The meanings of words change. That's obvious. I'm trying to point out the slippage of living language. P is a mummy. P is a pseudo-number. Whereas a real proposition occurs in history, in a living human situation. It's context bound. The etymology is to demonstrate how concepts are born as metaphors, and to emphasize that they cannot be treated mathematically.

Use your imagination. Go back to the creation of the first abstract words. How were such words invented? How did they have a social meaning? How was the social invention of abstraction meaning possible? One had to use a concrete word in a new way. Just as the word style comes from stylus. How is it that formal logic can be applied with such confidence to metaphorical utterance?

And how is your belief in or fondness of logic itself justified by logic? I'm sure you don't consider humanity in general to be logical. But perhaps you and Spock and logical elite are taking the narrow straight path to righteousness and truth. To me this quite mythological. Persuasion and Rhetoric (with I use with an irony your formal logic is deaf to) appeal to a holistic more "realistic" human being.

We're both caught up in our imperfect mental models. I'm just insisting that my own is more sophisticated. And this is what you also are doing less explicitly.

But I don't feel the need to negate formal logic. Within its limits it's beautiful. Whereas I do not feel that you even yet comprehend my point. You keep coughing up this phrase "etymological" fallacy, as if I think that a words roots are its true meaning. The meaning of a word is context bound, and the more abstract the word, the less definite its meaning.

This is why "If P" is the crux of our argument. What is it that determines whether P is true or false? It's the bridge between "objective" and "subjective" reality that I am concerned with. I say that "persuasion" and "rhetoric" are more accurate terms than "proof" and "logic." Ask O.J.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 6 Dec, 2009 03:15 pm
@fast,
Reconstructo wrote:
The meaning of a word is context bound, and the more abstract the word, the less definite its meaning.


Are you speaking of abstract concepts here? If so, I have two questions.

First, what makes something more, or less, abstract?

Second, why do you think a word which is abstract has a less definite meaning than a word that is concrete (if this is what you meant)? Abstract concepts can most definitely have specific meanings, such as "tennis" and "redness".

Quote:
Use your imagination. Go back to the creation of the first abstract words. How were such words invented? How did they have a social meaning? How was the social invention of abstraction meaning possible? One had to use a concrete word in a new way. Just as the word style comes from stylus. How is it that formal logic can be applied with such confidence to metaphorical utterance?


One need only refer to a type of a thing, like a sport, to begin speaking in abstraction. I don't know what you mean by "using a concrete word in a new way". It seems natural that if someone said, "A tennis player", they would have, prior to saying that, acknowledged there was a sport called tennis (an abstract concept). What makes you think we didn't actually start speaking in abstraction, and then developed specific, concrete words based off of those abstractions (which corresponded with reality)?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 6 Dec, 2009 03:22 pm
@fast,
First, I respect your method of debate. I feel you are trying to understand my position, which I am quite willing to elaborate/defend.

I don't think redness is a difficult concept. "Ball" and "table" are also abstractions. They are not difficult abstractions. But they are also not exciting abstractions.

"Justice" is a difficult abstraction. "Truth" is a difficult abstraction. And right now we are talking of "abstraction" which is not the simplest abstraction. "Good" is a famously difficult abstraction.

This is the zone of persuasion. We go through our lives changing our opinions on these key words. Is it a cold, pure will-to-truth that decides what these words mean for us? Or do we take the path of least resistance, and tend to declare that truth and virtue are just coincidentally similar to our concepts of ourselves.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 6 Dec, 2009 03:37 pm
@fast,
Reconstructo wrote:
First, I respect your method of debate. I feel you are trying to understand my position, which I am quite willing to elaborate/defend.


I try not to think of it as a method of debate, but rather a method of clarification. Effective and respectful communication, regardless of the stance.

Quote:
"Justice" is a difficult abstraction. "Truth" is a difficult abstraction. And right now we are talking of "abstraction" which is not the simplest abstraction. "Good" is a famously difficult abstraction.


But the words are not more or less an abstraction. They are simply abstract words, as opposed to concrete words; they do not refer to something specific and definite in reality. What you're referring to is the intersubjectivity regarding what those abstractions refer to. This is a different thing entirely. But, yes, you would be absolutely correct in that regard. More people agree tennis is a sport than what justice refers to, I think.

Quote:
This is the zone of persuasion. We go through our lives changing our opinions on these key words. Is it a cold, pure will-to-truth that decides what these words mean for us? Or do we take the path of least resistance, and tend to declare that truth and virtue are just coincidentally similar to our concepts of ourselves.


Can you please rephrase this line of thought? I've read and reread it and I still don't quite understand what you mean.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 6 Dec, 2009 03:53 pm
@fast,
More or less of an abstraction is I suppose a matter of taste.. But do you grasp my assertion that abstractions are born as metaphors? For this is why I call some words more abstract than others.

Yes, "clarification" is a better description than "debate."

To elaborate on the last part. Are you familiar with Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil? It opens with On the Prejudices of Philosophers. Nietzsche on values is not so original, mostly a bluff. But Nietzche on the Prejudices of Philosophers is great. He questions the "will-to-truth." Why not rather untruth?

Do we want the truth as an end, or rather as a means? Some truths help us grow our food. Others help us feel good about ourselves. Both are important. There is more agreement about the first kind of truth, which is pretty much congruent with physical science. But humans need more than food, bombs, vaccines. They are social animals, competing with one another for status. Who on this forum doesn't pride themselves on their intelligence?

People are persuaded largely according to idiosyncratic reasons. They tend to adopt views that flatter their inherited strength. They tend to reject views that reduce their status. One could say that "will-to-status" is a better description than "will-to-truth." when it comes to non-practical knowledge. (Metaphorical -mythological-conceptual-poetic....)
 
 

 
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