Wednesday, September 15, 2010


One of the things that Nirvana was praised for, and indeed what really separated them from the rest of the grunge/alternative pack, was that their songs didn't carry within them a consistent energy, or a consistent emotion. Before that metal was metal, and rock was rock; the same way you moved to it in the beginning was the same way you moved to it in the middle, and the same way you moved to it in the end - Nirvana (on the other hand) created a roller coaster ride.

That being almost 20 years ago now, nothing since has ever reminded me of that theme... Well, I think Menomena has finally pulled it off, and I've yet to really get over it as I'm inclined to think they've done a better job of it. Of course, unless an unfortunate tragedy would happen to occur, we'll never really know for sure and this band will never be immortalized.

Then again, maybe I'll come to my senses later.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cheapened by Commercials

Nothing drives me nuts more then a band I love cheapening itself by selling out to corporations through commercials. I understand that at the end of the day musicians are trying to make a living too, but once you start associating a song (and by that your music) with a product, people tend to associate it with that. "Hey, that's the Kia song", or "Those are the VW guys", and now it's hardly even worth listening to, it's lost all traces of authenticity.

WEEN: I mean I love you either way, and you still have the largest cult following in the world, and you still don't sell out in the top 100, and, and, and....Shit. Somewhere there's a joke to be gotten' here, but I don't know what it is yet...

Dude, M. Ward. I mean right, I know that over the years he's gained increased popularity, but come on....

I might be wrong, but I think Wilco sold out it's entire last album to VW. Amazing band to be sure, and definitely the last band that needs the advertising. As long as these guys have been around it's sort of a punch in the face to see stuff like this. Finally, you can hardly escape the irony of the words, "is that the thanks I get for lovin' you..." Funny, that's exactly what I was thinking; this is the thanks all of your fans, including myself, get. Bastards, can't wait for your next album though, I am a whore to you music.

Modest Mouse - Kryst, I've been listenin' to you since what, 1994, something like that, are you really that hard up for fans, you've made it this far haven't you. Crap I think you even got a spot on Kids Bop, how embarrassing... So let's close like this commercial does, "Bands are selling out to commercials. Shouldn't you?" DOE!

This is almost worthy of a pass from Black Sheep since, well, it's from 1991. As for the commercial itself, it's, as they say, slammin'. Well, until about 20 seconds into it when a toaster starts heading down the street. Then it completely falls off....

If all that wasn't enough, The Who played in the half time show at the Super Bowel, and I couldn't help but think to myself, how many people are watching this right now thinking, "Hey, these are the CSI songs!" It's sad.

Friday, September 10, 2010

New Template

My other template had been causing me problems so I had to changed it. The one I had wasn't a standard blogger template. So now that I've done that I'm happier, but now my fonts are all screwed up!

A Wrap up on Objectivism

I'm pretty sure this is going to be my last post on the matter between Dawson and myself specifically, although perhaps not the last one on Objectivism generally. Objectivism is his cup of tea, not mine, therefore he can have the last word on the matter. For reference, see the "objectivism" label for the historical argument, or the post just below this for the individual links. This wrap up is in response to Dawson's latest response to me (which was in reference to "P4 Respnse to Dawson" below) which is located HERE.

Let me first clear the water of some things that were stated. Because again, I wanted to get to your use of words as representations, however you'd go on to give some rhetorical examples.

I said:
“Andrew: “To see words as representation is to bring to light certain skeptical questions such as, ‘How do you know you've represented reality properly?’”

You responded:
“It depends on the situation. If I say to my daughter “Take my hand,” and she does it, then I’ve obviously communicated what I intended, for she understood me.”

No, it doesn't depend on the situation, it depends on the context (or so I'll suggest). In this case your example is a rhetorical context of the everyday where the test for truth is less about philosophical representation (or a philosophical conversation) and more about simple understanding and triangulation. In other words if I tell you (in the midst of us talking face to face), “STOP, Dawson, that stove is hot!” as you're about to put your hand down on it, you don't question my ability to adequately represent reality, you take it that both your and my experiences and beliefs are to a certain degree on par.

You also stated on representation:
"I thought I was pretty clear on this. Words are symbols for (“represent”) concepts. I also gave an example (the defendant’s testimony) of how the use of the word “represent” in my view is unproblematic. So I guess I’m not seeing what the problem is.”

Here's your example:
“People often refer to a statement’s correspondence to reality in terms of representation, as in the case of a statement such as “the defendant’s testimony did not accurately represent the situation of the night of the murder,” which is harmless."

You're right, it is harmless, and once again we have to make a distinction between the everyday rhetorical use of “representation”, and it's use in a philosophical context, because a philosophical context carries with it certain implications and baggage. It's one thing to suggest that by the above discourse you can glean some sort of understanding of the circumstance, it's entirely another to use it as an analogue for how language works – but in fact, that's exactly what your philosophical system does, but not what you're saying here.

What's interesting, and in fact has a touch of humor, is you end your example with a little qualifier as follows:
“But such treatments are not intended as a philosophical analysis of knowledge’s relationship to reality.”

Which to some extent is exactly what I'm saying, so what was the point of the example? At first you state (from a philosophical context) quite explicitly
“Words are symbols for (“represent”) concepts.” Then you go on to give an example which has nothing to do what we're talking about by using the word represent in a rhetorical (as you say, unbroblematic) sense, but what we're talking about is your acceptance of representation in it's philosophical sense.

Allow me to simplify this even more. I think I made a pretty clear case that you do in fact see truth (language, propositions) as representing the “facts of reality” (that reality existing independent of man, and containing facts), in a philosophical sense.

You then go on to make a clarification regarding facts, however it doesn't help your case any. Actually, I think it makes your case even worse and plays right back into my hands.

You state:
"By “facts,” I generally mean existents in relationships. E.g., tree next to the house, bird on the fence post, mountain south of the city, etc. The task of consciousness is to perceive and identify facts, not create them... The concept “reality” includes all existents and the relationships in which we find them."

This is essentially a restatement of what we've already been through. All you've done (or added) is defined what these facts are that we're identifying – or their nature. You have existents, (let me call them particulars) and their relationships (we could call those concepts, universals, whatever). Now, since you've already stated explicitly that the facts of reality exist independently of man, and that the facts of reality are “particulars” in relationships, all you've done is essentially tie along with particulars, the relationship of particulars to the reality outside of mans consciousness as well. And in essence, there goes your defense of concepts and universals. Which, incidentally, is a contradiction and undercutting of what you want to think.

You state:
“Realism in terms of universals is the view that “that universals have a reality of their own, an extra-mental existence. This of course does not describe the Objectivist view; but it does describe Plato’s view.”

But wait, you've already given them a reality “all their own”. Once again you state,
“truth identifies a sort of relationship between the facts of reality”. You've agreed and stated explicitly that facts exist in reality independent of man. We know that truths are proposition spoken in a language game, and we already know that you believe something to be true when one of these proposition corresponds to the reality which exists independently of man (but not just the particulars of reality, their relationships as well). That's correspondence, that's representation, that's the mirror of reality, and that's Realism.

Now you can argue that Rand doesn't say that, believe that, etc., and I must admit again that I haven't read Rand. However in the vary least you have to accept that perhaps you've simply done a poor job representing what Rand's core beliefs are, and in fact have made it explicit that they're just further forms of Realism, words as representation, and thus carries with it the skeptical baggage I've been pinging you with from the start. Which is, of course, that you'll ultimately be unable to provide a non question begging account of your core axioms, or that anyone should (for that matter) just blindly accept your axioms. Just like we shouldn't blindly accept Sye's.

Let me clear up one final piece regarding Realism. Of course I could have cut with the “general” Realist/Platonist usage and made a distinction between, say, Platonic Realism, Immanent Realism, and Nominalism – but the reality is all 3 of those forms will ultimately contain the same or similar baggage previously stated (but I don't even want to get into that at this point). The fact that I was throwing Platonism around so willy nilly is really a poor clarification on my part – I should have taken what was going on more seriously, but I really didn't think you'd want to carry the conversation this far, although I'm happy you did.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

P.4 Reponse to Dawson

Responses to Dawson (links):

Dawson's Responses:
P.1 & P.2

To boot, I have a good song to go along with what Dawson and I have been doing here - as always, it helps to listen as you read (if you don't report laughter, there's something wrong with you):

Let me begin fresh with a restatement of the problem. What I've been trying to pin you with is [essentially] the idea that you see words as representations of reality as it is. Not in a Kantian sense per se, but in a more general Realist sense. To see words as representation is to bring to light certain skeptical questions such as, “How do you know you've represented reality properly?” It raises suspicions that the goal of truth is to essentially determine the correct way to formulate something, but how will we know if we've ever reached the goal of adequately representing anything? This is why I made the earlier distinction between truth existing in reality, or truth existing in language. From there you brought up the objection which essentially stated, “well, language exists in reality, and so does consciousness.” But then you're missing the point entirely.

I'll Quote Rorty again as a frame of reference:
"We need to make a distinction between the claim that the world is out there and the claim that truth is out there. To say that the world is out there, that it is not our creation, is to say, with common sense, that most things in space and time are the effects of causes which do not include human mental states. To say that truth is not out there is simply to say that where there are no sentences there is no truth, that sentences are elements of human languages, and that human languages are human creations.

Truth cannot be out there – cannot exist independently of the human mind – because sentences cannot so exist, or be out there. The world is out there, but descriptions of the world are not. Only descriptions of the world can be true of false. The world on it’s own – unaided by the describing activities of human beings – cannot.

The suggestion that truth, as well as the world, is out there is a legacy of an age in which the world was seen as the creation of a being who had a language of his own. If we cease to attempt to make sense of the idea of such a nonhuman language, we shall not be tempted to confuse the platitude that the world may cause us to be justified in believing a sentence true with the claim that the world splits itself up, on its own initiative, into sentence shaped chunks called “facts”. But if one clings to the notion of self-subsistent facts, it is easy to start capitalizing the word “truth” and treating it as something identical with God, or with God's project (or capitol "T" Truth). Then one will say, for example, that Truth is great and will prevail.

This conflation is facilited by confining attention to single sentences as apposed to vocabularies. For we often let the world decide between competing sentences....."

The facts is, Dawson, that you do in fact see things as I've described them, or in the very least, your use of language and metaphor contain the elements of implicit representation between words and reality as in the mirror analogy. The reality is though (and I get into that below) I'm not all that certain you're fully appreciating the analogy. The idea of the mirror is to say that what's in perception is essentially a mirror image of reality – not that it is reflected back upon it, but I'll get into that. Rather then ramble on, let me follow from some of the things you've stated and demonstrate.

You said:
The concept of “truth” identifies a type of relationship between a proposition and the facts of reality.

So to begin with, you are in fact explicitly saying that reality contains facts. i.e. facts that lay outside of human consciousness. That's the first thing we need to establish.

You continue:
“Truth,” in Ayn Rand’s definition, is “the recognition of reality.”

But I should add, not just recognition of reality, but the facts of reality, following what was just quoted above. It's important going forward not to loose sight of that ball.

You continue:
“In essence, this is the traditional correspondence theory of truth: there is a reality independent of man (which contains facts. My emphasis here), and there are certain conceptual products, propositions, formulated by human consciousness. When one of these products corresponds to reality, when it constitutes a recognition of fact, then it is true.”

The reality is, Dawson, I could stop the entire conversation right here as this statement, and the later statements, undercut everything you'll eventually state about words not being representations, and/or not being mirrors to reality. Of course you don't want to accept that and will no doubt barf out some new long chain of reason that doesn't escape it (note, by barf out I'm not being a dink, I enjoy reading your posts). In essnece if we took the statement “the rock is by the car” it is implicit that you take this as true on the condition that it (as a proposition) corresponds to the “that fact” which is “in” reality. All of that follows from what's been stated thus far.

You continue:
“Conversely, when the mental content does not thus correspond, when it constitutes not a recognition of reality but a contradiction of it, then it is false. (Ibid.)”

Right, so when it does not correspond to the facts of reality, then it is wrong. Loud and clear. You have a direct correspondence between truth (propositions in a language game) and the reality which contains these facts.

Moving on you state:
"Now I’m not persuaded that referring to Objectivism’s theory of truth as “the traditional correspondence theory of truth” is the most responsible equation to make. I say this because there are many traditions in philosophy which Objectivism rejects..."

Well, right, but so what; you've already accepted that words, language, propositions etc.. either correspond directly to the facts of reality, or they don't. So in fact as I stated up front, your previous statements undercut any desire you have to stay away from the idea that words are representations. You've offered up nothing to suggest otherwise.

You give yet further confirmation:
"A proposition integrates what may be an enormous context of information, and every element of that context must conform to reality in order for that proposition to be true."

Great, I don't really even need to say anything about this - just more confirmation

You state:
“I have been explicit in using words like “reference,” “denote” and “correspondence” in speaking about the relationship between concepts and the world. I resist “representation” primarily because I want to avoid wrongful association with the representationalist theory of perception (which I addressed earlier in my exchange with Andrew), and also because I don’t think concepts are “representations” per se, but rather integrations. Concepts are not replicas, they are not an exercise of holding a mirror up to reality.”

Once again, you want to avoid representation in the manner I've described it, but you've already undercut yourself on the matter, so-so what. Here you state that concepts are not “representations” [of reality] but rather integrations. But above you clearly contradict that, as you say that something it true (a statement in language) when [e.g.] a proposition corresponds to reality, and you clearly state that reality contains facts. So in essence (as the mirror analogy fits) forging towards truth becomes something along the lines of polishing the mirror.

You state:
"We begin our search for knowledge where we are aware of reality – in perception – and only after we’ve begun perceiving. (A child perceives his surroundings long before he starts to develop knowledge of what he’s perceiving.) Perception inherently *corresponds* to objects (since – and I hope Andrew doesn’t wince at this again – perception is perception *of objects*), but it does not “represent” objects (since perception is not a form of representing anything – it’s our form of being aware of what we’re aware of), nor is perception “mirror-like” – since it is not a means of reflecting an image back to reality. "

Perhaps you're not understanding the mirror analogy. The analogy doesn't suggest that we reflect reality back to itself, it suggests that what's in perception is a representation of reality – a mirror image of it. i.e. looking into a mirror you see a reflection of reality, just like looking into perception (again being metaphorical) you're seeing a picture of reality, as you say, the facts of reality. And once again, remember you've undercut yourself.

You move on:
“Next comes concept-formation. On the basis of this perceptual input, we form concepts which identify and integrate what we perceive. We form concepts by integrating two or more units which we’ve perceived and which are similar to each other in some way, into a single mental unit...”

This is really incidental to my point since you've already made the connection I've been trying to make above. Concept formation is irrelevant since the move you ultimately make is to connect truths in language directly to the facts of reality. Sure you make it through the concept, but again you've connected the concept directly to reality.

But you continue:
“Then, after we’ve formed concepts, we assign verbal or visual symbols to represent them (here’s where “representation” is most appropriate). Language essentially gives our concepts perceptual form, to the extent that this is possible, and it does this by consistently assigning symbols to individual concepts. In this sense, language’s symbols represent concepts (without implying the representationalist theory of perception).”

So here's where you've attempted to wiggle out of what I've been pinning on you in a more direct sense, but remember you've already undercut yourself. Essentially you grant that words are direct representations of concepts, but stop short (here anyway) of granting that they are also representations of the facts of reality (but again, no matter, you've already done that). I was even trying to help you out with this in my last posting by saying, “If I gather you correctly then, what you call “the thing itself”, is that which exists (mabye a bad word there) in perception, not reality. You grant (as I would as well) that there's a world out there, but that we do not (in speaking of truth and facts) mirror the way the world is in itself.” But it went totally over your head. What I was trying to do is grant that the objects of perception and the truths we speak are not representations of reality (which is what you want to say) so that the concepts we have in mind exist in perception and not as a mirror to reality. Which isn't to suggest that there isn't a reality out there, it's only to suggest that what we say about it doesn't take on a representative character.

You state:
“Since on my view facts are inherent in reality apart from conscious activity...”

There it is again, facts are inherent in reality...

Then you continue to answer how language connects to reality:
“...What’s the connection between truthful statements and reality? That connection is, in a word, concepts. Statements or propositions, whether true or false, are composed of concepts. Concepts integrate what we’ve perceived into mental units, and are themselves integrated into higher units and propositions..."

So a question might be, what connects concepts to the world?

Well, you already provided that answer above:
“...there is a reality independent of man (which contains facts), and there are certain conceptual products, propositions, formulated by human consciousness. When one of these products corresponds to reality, when it constitutes a recognition of fact, then it is true.”

I think this pretty much sums it up. Conceptual products, propositions (a proposition being a statement in a language game) formulated by human consciousness. So then, when a given proposition “corresponds” to the “facts of reality”, then it is true. I mean, Dawson, it doesn't get any more elementary (in terms of words as representation), then that.

You even throw in a kicker regarding my idea that the world causes us to have beliefs, but does not supply the reasons,

You state:
“On my view, the facts of reality supply the reasons for believing the things that I believe...”

Right, that's because you believe that reality contains facts, and that for something to be true what we say has to properly (if not even directly) correspond to it. And with that, I think it's pretty much case closed case. In fact, Objectivism contains the sorts of dogmas I've been pointing to all along.

Let me finally note, as I did before, that the idea of "correspondence" entails a number synonymous metaphors. Some examples may be; conformity, congruence, agreement, accordance, copying, picturing, signification, representation, reference, satisfaction, mirror, etc.. Switching between terms doesn't change the discussion, but it can be confusing. Once again, I don't see at all how you're escaping direct correspondence metaphors and suggestions, and as such you carry with you the sort of baggage that I've been suggesting all along, but again, you won't accept that. With that your axioms, at least from my perspective, carry little more weight then Sye's arguments about God. It just so happens that in your case, your justifications are much more ridged, complex, and you're no doubt far more intelligent then Sye.

So long as you find your pot of gold, Dawson, then every little thing's gonna work out fine.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

While I'm at it....

This is Trampled by Turtles (from Duluth MN, my home state), "Wait So Long". I've developed somewhat of a taste for Blue Grass, in this case, indie style. Makes me wanna throw in a Cope and crack open a PBR...

I Do Pay Attention.... Sometimes...

Back in April Sam posts THIS SONG ("Little Lion Man").
Of course I noted that it was a great song, but left it at that....

Months later, (today actually) I come across it again at RustBelt HERE

I'm not sure what I was thinking the first time around when I herd it, but I've made the necessary adjustments, moved on over to Amazon and downloaded the MP3. Not only that, but I like to think of myself as someone who follows music pretty closely - well, indie anyway, and local music - and these are the only two places I've herd the song (sort of embarrassing really). Anyway, check it out....


P.3 Response to Dawson

Dawson, we're getting close, the end is near.
NOTE: refer HERE to P.1, P.2 and Dawson's prior response

A few things you stated:
“Again, not [a correspondence] between concepts and reality as in “the thing in itself” (Kant’s “Ding an sich”), but between concepts and the things which we perceive.” That couples nicely with “There is reality, and there is our consciousness of reality, and there is the relationship between the two.” Couple that with “whereas according to representationalism we perceive “appearances” of things, i.e., not the things themselves.”

If I gather you correctly then, what you call “the thing itself”, is that which exists (mabye a bad word there) in perception, not reality. You grant (as I would as well) that there's a world out there, but that we do not (in speaking of truth and facts) mirror the way the world is in itself. I would agree with that as well, we are certainly not mirrors to reality. Furthermore, if I gather you properly, you're stating [e.g.] that there are rocks in reality, however the truths that we speak about them relate not to them as they are in themselves, but to them as they relate to the relationship between us and reality, i.e. in perception. I have no overwhelming issue with that either - at least on a rhetorical level.

I asked:
To spin this another way, would you agree with the statement that, yes, the world causes us to have certain beliefs, but it does not give us the reason? In this way we supply the concepts of ‘objective’, ‘grayness’, ‘rock’, etc., but that the world is none of these things...

You responded:
“I do not think that “the world causes us to have certain beliefs,” as if our minds were passive balls of clay manipulated without our own active participation. Cognition is both active and volitional.”

That really wasn't what I was getting at with the comment (that our minds are passive balls of clay) – let me expound. The volitional/active portion of cognition is what supplies the reasons for believing the things we do (I'd suggest, using your language). Let me throw this out there; I'm with Richard Rorty when he says that beliefs are not representations, but rather habits of action; and that words are not representations, but tools. Furthermore I'd add that the manner with which we define things to be (or talk about things, the nature of our discourse) is related not to the way the world is in itself, but according to how things best suit our current needs and interests. To say that the world causes us to have beliefs is simply to recognize that there is a world out there that's ultimately going to push us around in ways that are not under our control. In that way it will push in certain directions, cause us to have certain beliefs wherein the reasons for those beliefs are our own.

I think where there would ultimately be a hang up between you and I is your idea of an objective process of identification as a means of ascribing truth, and how far that stretches. Secondly, I don't see the need (as a pragmatist) to hold to the axioms you do. The whole idea of a correspondence between concepts and perception (and the above ascribing of truth) seems to leave out what I think is a better idea in (say) Davidson's idea's about triangulation – but that's a whole other conversation. Since we're not arguing anything specific per se, I'm happy to let all this lay for now and simply say we come at things a bit different, yet both agree that Sye is full of shit.

Finally I've seen two people now make comments that say something along the lines of the following (in this case by openlyatheist):
“As for the axiomatic nature of the senses; whenever an apologist pulls some such Plantinga-type move, I simply point out that anyone attempting to convince me my senses aren't reliable makes use of those very senses in presenting their argument to me.”

NOTE: this comes in a couple variations. I wouldn't try to suggest that one's senses are not reliable, the question I had was how one knows they are. Essentially the question aims at putting forth an account of the senses, or a proof of them. Of course, I wouldn't ordinarily ask someone this, but it seemed to apply in the notion that "consciousness is consciousness", taken as an axiom.

This all hangs upon what one means by the senses and consciousness.. If one defines consciousness and the senses as on par with a mental state which aligns itself with (say) a “feeling” (as in, I feel that I'm conscious as I'm perceiving) as opposed to a more behaviorist/objective approach that simply says consciousness is “what we observe” [simply] in other people as they interact with their environment, then you're begging the question and/or presupposing that someone else has such feelings. This runs along the lines of a comment I made earlier in that, you cannot prove with certainty that someone else loves you, you cannot prove they're experiencing a certain mental state. The only thing we can say is that “behaviors” we associate with love are reflected in a certain person, and from that infer certain behavioral patterns from them in the future. In other words I'm making a distinction between consciousness as an internal state, and consciousness as an observed behavior. So the best we can say is that the behaviors we associate with consciousness are present in person “X”, or thing “Y”

If you/we say that to be conscious is simply to perceive something, and steer clear of referring to perception in terms of internal states of affairs, then I have no real problem. Again, since there's no way to prove that something is conscious in terms of referring to internal states, no way to prove that I'm not just some mindless meatpuppet spouting out random words and actions. Let me give an example, let's suppose (as the wonders of science will surely allow) that at some point artificial intelligence becomes so advanced that they create a human being – however, it's not organic, but electronic. Supposing that it's so advance that it can react to anything in it's environment as we do, it can learn, react to pain, take pleasure in a pair of nice tits, (or rippling pecks), i.e. it reflects all the same behavioral patterns as a real person does, would you say this piece of AI is conscious? If not, why? If you would answer no, then in fact it would seem that you are granting and/or presupposing that people have internal states that they feel, even though you can't actually prove or account for it and we're back to having some baggage on hand.

Or perhaps this is an even better thought experiment. Suppose that it's sometime in the future I described above with AI, and you get a horrible cancer in the brain that keeps spreading. As the cancer spreads it's cut out, and they start systematically replacing parts of your brain with equivalent silicon parts that function in the same way that the removed organic brain matter did. Will there come a point in this scenario that you stop being conscious because you are slowing becoming nothing more then an advanced computer? i.e. will there come a point when you have no conscious recognition of internal states, even though you still appear (to everyone else) to be the same person, or in the minimum a person that thinks, talks, reacts in the same manner everyone else does?

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.


Saturday, September 04, 2010

"Baby Boomer"

A Response to Dawson

First and foremost, Dawson, many of my hasty comments were merely for the sake of dragging the conversation in a certain direction, or teasing something out by being provocative – that's just the way I am, it isn't personal. Secondly, your right, I don't know a thing about objectivism, only what I can glean from the sort of language you're using and the direction it seems to take, and what's implicit within it. At any rate, the fact that you can't plug more into these frickin' blog comment boxes is beyond frustrating, so I'm simply going to summarize my main points of confusion and contention here. It's not necessary for you to comment on it as I'll accept the fact that I'm at an enormous lose. I suppose at some point in time I'll have to bit the bullet and read Rand a little.

Again, I've quoted you below (hopefully not out of context) and then stated where I'm going with it, and/or what I'm not understanding about it. I'll leave it at that.

You said:
“Objectivism *begins* with incontestable certainties.”

I gather that these incontestable certainties are [e.g.] existence & perception.

You said:
“Universality is essentially nothing more than the human mind’s ability to form open-ended classifications of reference (namely mental integrations) into which new units can be integrated when they are discovered or considered. “

I think I gather what you're saying here just fine, other then the fact that the word “reference” seems a bit teasing as I'm thinking, “In reference to what? Concepts? And what are the concepts in reference to?” I'm not seeing how, when an objectivist ultimately speaks of fact and truth, that it isn't looked upon as ultimately a reference to or correspondence with reality. But you comment further later on.

You said:
“Truth, on my view, is a property of identification. Identification is a mental activity which involves a consciousness’ interaction with the objects of its awareness.”

This is where I'm tempted to force you a bit. But let me say this, I'm with you completely when you state that “A rock is not true”. Correct, that is NOT a proposition, it's only what we say about the rock the has the property of being either true or false as in, “The rock is gray” - in that sense that is either a true statement or a false one. My question would be, then, (and I think I know what your answer would be) is a rock and for that matter “grayness” a property that exists in the word (outside of consciousness) or would you rather say that both are “concepts”? i.e. that the world is neither in itself rock-like (in some ways) or gray-like (in others) but that these are merely objective concepts which are mind dependent. Also noting that the world is not “objective” either, it just exists, as you say. i.e. objective is merely another “concept”, a means by which we approach talking about the world, hence objectivism. To spin this another way, would you agree with the statement that, yes, the world causes us to have certain beliefs, but it does not give us the reason? In this way we supply the concepts of “objective”, “grayness”, “rock”, etc., but that the world is none of these things...

You said:
“Realism in terms of universals is the view that “that universals have a reality of their own, an extra-mental existence. Positions are often marked out, running from moderate to absolute Realism. The more definite, fixed, and eternal the status of the universals, the more absolute is the Realism.” (Reese, Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion, p. 637). This of course does not describe the Objectivist view; but it does describe Plato’s view. “

Because of the hang-up I stated with the word “reference” above, I'm tempted to push this matter a bit. Because you use the word “reference”, and to some degree (you talk about this more as I quote below) you use correspondence jargon, I'm tempted to infer something along the lines of the following. I agree with you that we should not look at universals as having an existence all their own. However, since we're talking about “reference” and “correspondence”, I'm tempted to consider that the objectivist position, whereas it does not see the universals as existing on their own, nonetheless see them as representative, correspondent of, and/or in reference to a reality. In this way truth is judged via an adequate correspondence to reality – i.e. we know when something is true when it adequately represents reality (which again, this also brings out that dirty “mirror” metaphor, which I know you've stated you shun). It is within that idea that I raise my suspicions over how ones knows they've “adequately adhered to anything.”

You said:
“As for language, according to Objectivism, it is “a code of visual-auditory symbols that serves the psycho-epistemological function of converting concepts into the mental equivalent of concretes” (ITOE, p. 10). “The primary purpose of concepts and of language is to provide man with a system of cognitive classification and organization, which enables him to acquire knowledge on an unlimited scale; this means: to keep order in man’s mind and enable him to think.” (Ibid., p. 69) “

I'm a bit hung on your use of concepts, and whereas I know you're staring clear of Kant, I can't help but stir up the idea of Kant's a prior concepts when thinking about this. But I move on.

You said:
“In essence, a statement is true when it adheres to an objective process of identification of reality. Some have called this a version of the correspondence theory of truth. “Reflect” implies a one-to-one relationship, but in fact conceptualization allows for much, much more than this.”

Now, if I'm correct, your “objective process of identification” is also conceptual, but perhaps not a priori conceptual? My problem here is the same one I have above, you seem to have a trail of correspondence here to follow (at least, that's where I'm going with it). What I'm seeing is that language (a fact statement say) is true when it adheres to this “process”, this process is a concept, but what's the concept derived from. Again, I'm tempted (from the metaphors you're using) to infer that implicit with all this is a connection between language and reality that may not be one to one per se, but is nontheless representative in some fasion – i.e. truth is a matter of correspondence to reality. But, I suppose for now I'll have to take that as my misunderstanding of objectivist lingo.

You said:
“Since knowing in Objectivism is essentially a process of identification (and also integration), we know this implicitly just by perceiving and attempting to identify and interact with what we perceive.”
“If I perceive an object, my senses are reliable – they are doing what senses do by virtue of their nature: responding to external stimuli, transmitting sensations to the brain, and automatically integrating those senses into percepts.”

I gather this, one cannot wrongly see something, you just see what you see. Perceiving, however, is one thing, knowing another. To know something is to be able purport, to make an assertion in a language game, to make a commitment as in, “I know this rock is gray.” In the statement above, you're connecting the act of knowing (the act of making statements in a language game, as I've forced it) to the very act of perceiving itself, thereby (as I see it for the moment) making a direct connection between language (truth) as correspondence and/or representation of reality. i.e. I know it (and in fact it's true) because it properly represents reality – so the representationalist bagagge is right there. Now again, I know you want to stay away from that, but I don't see how you have. I'll accept that as my problem for the moment.

You said:
“I suspected that you had some knowledge of the history of philosophy – the representationalist view of perception having quite a lineage – and that you would understand what I was saying here. The representationalist view essentially says that we perceive appearances of things. Objectivism holds that this is false (it commits the fallacy of the stolen concept), and that we are perceive things directly (not their appearances). In Objectivism, appearance is the *form* in which we see something, but what we’re seeing is the thing itself, not a representation of it.”

Here again are a few hang-ups. You are in fact saying that what we perceive is, “the thing itself”. Here's the problem, if on the one hand you want to say that we're perceiving the thing itself, but on the other you want to reject representation, (i.e. the truths we speak don't represent the thing in itself from above, not here) then what sense does it even make to state that we actually perceive “the thing itself”? But I've got ahead of myself here, as in this particular case what you're rejecting is the perception of the “appearance of things”. I'm using representation in a different way, which (I think) you also reject. However by talking about and rejecting one form of representation, I seem you as grabbing the other, in which case I ask the epistemic question.

You said:
“But as I had stated earlier, truth “uis a property of identification. Identification is a mental activity which involves a consciousness’ interaction with the objects of its awareness.” Both the knower (the subject of consciousness) and the objects of his awareness exist in reality, so is there a problem here? We do not hold that truth is a property of things which exist in the world apart from a knower; things simply exist. We don’t say “this rock is true” or “that rock is not true.”

I'm with you here. Truth is certainly not a property of things that exist in the world apart from a knower.

You said:
“I guess my labor to date has been all for naught. As I pointed out before, we do not need to prove the axioms; they are not conclusions of arguments; they are not inferred from previous knowledge. We do not need to prove that existence exists, or that things are what they are independent of consciousness.”

My hang-up here goes back to the idea that, within your philosophical system there is the implicit idea that truth is a correspondence to reality. If that's true, then you've tied yourself to showing just how you know that. But, again, perhaps that's my problem for the moment. If you don't know, then forget about it, lets not even make such suggestions.

You said:
“I’m somewhat speculating here, but I think, for the most part, the process of learning the correspondence of language symbols to specific concepts is automatized memorization which is reinforced by repetition and use.”

Here again you're using correspondence lingo (which implies representation, mirroring, adherence, etc. to reality) however in this case you state that it's a correspondence to concepts, which I'm a but mystified about at this point as to where you make the connection between reality (existence, the thing in itself from above) and the concept.

So let me wrap this up this way. What I've been forcing here (and I apologize for that) is the idea that what looks like is happening is truth, for the objectivist, is ultimately a matter of whether or not the truths we speak adequately corresponds to reality. You have a few keys terms that infer some sequence of correspondence, those are as follows:

- Existence (which is apart from consciousness. And contains things which , within it, we experience in themselves. Which was quoted in reference to representation.)
Perception (your axiom, that which we cannot deny; the manner with which we experience things in existence. Added correction, you state: the validity of the senses is an axiom. I don't see how calling perception the axiom changes this much as the "senses" and "perception" are essentialy the same, yes/no?. You've merely added validity to it.
Universals (The minds ability to form open ended classifications of reference)
Concepts (which I'm a bit mystified by at the moment. I'm tempted to say that that perhaps these open ended classifications are what we'll end up calling concepts. Rock, is a concept, objective is a concept, etc..)
Turth (the property of identification. But identifying what? Objects of perception? Using concepts and universals? Your idea of concepts seems to be used as a shield to say that truth is not correspondence or a representation of reality in itself, there by evading the epistemic question from me)
Correspondence (you've used this to mean the process of adhereing a truth statement to an objective process of identification, which is a concept, but how is that connected to perception)
Representation (you've used this to deny the idea that what we perceive are mere appearences, but rather the thing in itself. But I'm using it in the same way you're using correspondence, which is also a way to use it. Words as correspondence, adherence, representation, mirror of reality etc..)

The ultimate issue that I have here is that (so far as I can untangle), it seems that underlying this philosophical system is the idea that truth is correct correspondence to reality. Once again, if that's true, then I ask the obvious; "How do you know you've done this? How do you account for the truth of your axioms, etc. etc.?" Once again I'm fully willing to accept that I just don't get it, I'm not seeing the how the connection you make between truth and reality isn't direct representation all things considered.

Finally, I'm more then happy to talk about my theory of truth, should you be able to stand my presence for much longer that is.

Happy hunting, Dawson, it's been fun... For me anyway.