Sunday, September 05, 2010

P.2 Response to Dawson

Note part 1 here, from below.
Also note that I've made some corrections to both posts. I didn't state what they were, but if you're reading this for the first time and see this statement - then no problems.

Let me begin here with the main issue I had been trying to sort out, which was, how do you see language connection to the word. I admit that perhaps I wasn't as clear as I would have liked to be.

I stated:
Andrew: “How do [you?] connect the objective world, to the senses, to concepts, and to language?”

Your response:
“...For one thing, there’s nothing I have to do to “connect” my senses to the world. It is automatic and beyond my control. Try shoving your hand into a running garbage disposer (something in the world) and not sensing pain. Similarly, my perception of entities qua entities is also automatic and beyond my control. I cannot look at a book and not see it as an object distinct from other objects...”

Dawson, evidently I didn't make myself clear enough in this instance as what I'm really getting at here is – what's the connection (in your philosophical system) between truth's, facts (statements in a language game) and reality. I appreciate and accept the notion that our senses are, by default, connected to the world. Beyond our control it's simply something we bump into.

You continue:
“...From there, we form concepts, which is a volitional process (Rand analyzes this process in her book Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology). From there, we assign words to label the concepts which we have formed in order to manage and organize them economically as distinct units. Again, this is explained in Rand’s book.”

Here you begin to pick up what I'm trying to get at. From my post below my intention was to draw out your chain of correspondence, and I think you may have some shadow of the final pieces here. From what I've quoted below you're in fact saying that we experience (perceive) a “thing itself”, or in a broader sense we're experiencing the world itself, not shadowy images. From perception, then, comes concept formation, which is this volitional (deliberate) process. Now, here comes the sticky part as from there, you state that language is the act (I suppose we could call that volitional as well, following your use of language) of assigning labels, codes, etc., to the concepts (you don't state that specifically in that way here, but from below you do, and in other comments).

You do, however, add this:
"the code of symbols which is language converts concepts “into the mental equivalent of concretes” (emphasis added) – in other words, the code of symbols allows the mind to manage concepts as units, thus overcoming (an understatement here) the limitations of the crow epistemology."

Perhaps I'm not understanding you here? How does changing from the idea of "adhering to concepts" to "managing concepts as units" get one away from correspondence to concepts (representing concepts, mirroring concepts, etc.), and crow epistemology?
(not sure what you mean by "crow" epistemology at the moment - perhaps it's not important to the main objection I have).

At any rate you also say:
"In essence, a statement is true when it adheres to an objective process of identification of reality." (also quoted below relating to correspondence).

Something is true (i.e. a statement in a language game) when it adheres to this process. And again, I believe this process
is the concept, or is conceptual. So it seems you flip-flopped here - are you adhering directly to the concepts, or just managing them as units? But before I continue with that, let me try to clear some ground about “concepts” and “universality”.

You state here, regarding “universality” and “concepts”:
“In addition to what I stated above about general and particular truths, please try to understand that universality is an aspect of concepts.”

But then you state here:
“In Objectivism, universals are essentially concepts, and have been misunderstood for millennia because issue[s] of how the many and the one relate to one another got sidetracked into debates about the ontological status of universals. Rand’s theory corrects this by providing an analysis of how the mind forms open-ended mental units which condense whole constellations of data.”

So which is it? Are universals an aspect of concepts, or are they essentially concepts, i.e. the two are synonymous. I accept your objections to the things I've said, but understand you haven't been all that clear yourself. Which, I understand does happen when we're both barfing out long posts and talking past the other.

Let me quote again what you said about universality:
“Universality is essentially nothing more than the human mind’s ability to form open-ended classifications of reference...”

So, okay, perhaps they are interchangeable, or at least I'll accept them as that way for now. Moving on then, you do [seem to] explicitly state that language (codes) adherence's to these concepts (you even state that objectivism has been called a correspondence theory of truth, which I've found to be true), however you don't explicitly state that concepts are a direct “one-to-one” adherence's to the world. Although I can only assume since you do state explicitly that we “experience a thing in itself” (not a shadowy image) that the concepts must then be a representation, or a correspondence to those things, other wise I don't see how it even makes sense to say it at all. That said it then follows that language (truths, facts, etc.) are representations of the way the world is in itself, which then makes all my original contentions valid and me not as bat-shit crazy as you'd like to think (of course you didn't call me that, but I just like the word).

Again, the base of my original argument was simply that I suspected your world view to be Platonic/realist in the same way Sye's was, and thus no less question-begging in the end. I took that you had two main contentions against this (although not just two), which were A.) that perception was axiomatic, or rather, the validity of the senses B.) Your theory of concepts. i.e. since perception (the validity of the senses) is axiomatic, you were not begging the question over (e.g.) the reliability of the senses, and secondly, your theory of concepts shielded you from the idea of representation. Which, at this point, I'm not seeing through to the idea that it does. That being the case I'm still seeing that the epistemic question of how you know you've adequately represented anything, whether in concept formation or the world, as pertaining.


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