Page 22 of 25

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:01 pm
by Immanuel Can
jayjacobus wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:17 pm
You two guys are members of a very selective collective. There are just two of you and you have a certain reverence for each other. Interesting, but do you practice what you pre 8) ach?
RC's a good guy. You can tell by the way he interacts with other people. And he's smart, and reflective and sensible. We don't agree on everything. He's a person of integrity. So why shouldn't I have a respect for him? I'd be a bad person if I didn't.

And there are other excellent people here too. (Not everybody behaves well, it's true: but we need to focus on the good folks.)

I don't know about "practicing" and "preaching," but that's how I see it.

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:14 pm
by RCSaunders
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm
A concept does not mean its definition, a concept means whatever actual existent or category of existents it identifies.

Yes, that's true; it does.
So far, so good! but...
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm
But the relation of concept to existent is not direct. It is not the case that the concept "apple" automatically produces in human minds a red fruit.
Thank goodness for that. If every concept for an entity ended up producing one of those enitities in our minds ... well I'm sure you see where that is going. Apparently you do not understand what I mean by, "identify." Identify does not mean reproduce something, or have a picture or image of something, or explaining something. Identify only means to indicate, out of all the things that exist, which of those existents is referred to in speech or thought. That is all a concept does. Everything else about an existent and all that can be said or known about it are not part of the concept, they are about the existents the concept identifies.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm
It is the case that by linguistic consensus, we have decided that it ought to...but the fruit in question can also be green or yellow, and can be a fruit or a computer or the centre of an eyeball or just a flavour. The importance of this point is that the linguistic content "apple" does not correspond in a simple, singular way to something in the real world. Rather, it invokes a package of associations in the mind of each individual. And to a non-English speaker, of course, it corresponds to nothing at all, because it does not produce any such association.
I am certain that no aspect of language can be established by agreement or consensus. The primary purpose of language is knowledge, not communication. Communication is a secondary derivative purpose of language. One must know something before they can communicate it and language is the only method for acquiring and holding knowledge.

One reason you may not be able to understand what I mean by a concept only being an identifier is because you think a word is a concept. A word is not a concept. A word is a symbol that represents a concept. Colloquially we talk about the meaning of words, but epistemologically words do not have meanings, it is the concepts words identify that have meaning. The confusion between words and concepts leads to ideas such as, "to a non-English speaker, of course, it corresponds to nothing at all."
The words, 'home,' 'domocile,' 'residence,' 'abode,' '<i>casa</i>,' (Spanish), '<i>maison</i>,' (French), '<i>spiti</i>,' (Greek), and '<i>ban</i>,' (Thai) all identify the same concept. It is not the symbols or words for concepts that have meaning, but the concepts the symbols represent.

An even worse mistake is saying, apple, "can be a fruit or a computer or the centre of an eyeball or just a flavour." A word is not a concept and many same or similar words are used to represent more than one concept. Apple the fruit, Apple the computer brand, apple the metaphor for the center of the eye, and apple the flavor are all different concepts that identify different existents. They just happen to be represented by the same linguistic symbol. When a word is used to represent different concepts a dictionary will usually provide separate definitions for the different concepts the word represents. The best example I can give is the word light, which represents at least 30 different concepts, (at least 17 nouns, 13 adjectives, and two adverbs), some related, but most completely different. Though you seem to equate words with concepts it must be obvious, that though the same word, light, is used, light (illumination), light (not heavy), light (get off or land), and light (start a fire) are not the same concepts.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm
So the claim, "I know what an apple is," is deceptive. At most, it means, "I think I am thinking of something like what you are thinking." But it's not only not certain knowledge, but we can be fairly sure that the picture in my mind is not the same as the picture in yours. In what sense, then, is knowledge of an apple "certain"? It's probabilistic, at best.
Straight out of Hume. A fuzzy picture in our head, as Hume described it, is exactly what a concept is not. Our thoughts about something may be accompanied by imaginative images, but the images are not part of cognition, they are imagination, and very few thoughts or concepts are accompanied by any kind of image. Do you think these concepts: meaning, principle, possible, necessary, problem, mistake, urgency, emergency, success, failure, important, interest, critical, vague, ultimate, tenuous, implied, passion, threat, excellence, dignity, honesty, news, lost, hope, boredom, and nostalgia, consist of or require some kind of images to know and think? Hume's epistemology is childish nonsense.

The word apple only represents the concept apple which only identifies actual apples. How anyone pictures apples or however much one knows or does not know about apples has nothing to do with the concept apple.

You may be deceived about what an apple is (perhaps the definition of the concept is ambiguous) but I assure you I know exactly what the concept means, actual apples, with all that is true about those apples including different varieties, colors, where they will or will not grow, etc. which things are about actual apples identified by the concept apple, but not about the concept itself or included in any way in that concept, which does nothing but identify what all that knowledge is of and about.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm
Because linguistic signifiers are social constructs, we could have constructed them to mean different things than they do. And indeed, that is exactly what does happen, because we have different languages in the world. "Apple," "pomme," and "manzana" all signal the same cluster of concepts and referents. But there is nothing in any of those words that makes it more "realistic" to the phenomenon of a red fruit than any other of those words is.
The symbols, "2," "two," "II," and, "10," (binary) "0010" (hexadecimal) are different symbols for the same concept. It does not matter at all to the meaning of a concept what symbol is used to designate that concept or what language the symbol is common to. "Apple," "pomme," and "manzana," are not, "signals," they are symbols for the same single concept. I have no idea what, "there is nothing in any of those words that makes it more "realistic" to the phenomenon of a red fruit than any other of those words," possibly means. Concepts to not make things realistic (or anything else), they do no more than pointing at something and saying, "that," in a sentence. "Hand me the book," and, "hand me that (while pointing at the book)," are epistemologically identical. A concept enables us to do that 'pointing' (identifying) without having an actual apple present to point at. That's all a concept does.

It is not going to be possible to resolve the differences in our views of knowledge. Unless you mean something more I've missed you apparently believe language is some kind of social thing with the main purpose being communication. Please correct me if I've assumed wrongly about that. I made the assumption based on what you said about meaning being based on, "linguistic consensus," then describing something unspecified (either words or concepts) as "linguistic signifiers," which you said, "are social constructs."

If that is what language is to you, then it is. I know no such language. You see the problem. When you say or write something meaning some social construct arrived at by some consensus (of whom you do not say), it is not possible for me to know what you are talking about. Since I'm not privy to any socially constructed meanings established by any consensus, I cannot possibly know what anything you say or write is supposed to mean. What you are describing to me is some kind of esoteric secret language that pertains to nothing I know or could possibly care about.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm
We do not know that your "apple" is my "apple." We trust that they are similar conceptually, so we may communicate. But there is no unproblematic relation between either of our "apples" and the real world.
Here is what I mean about your secret language. A concept is not, "mine," or, "yours," as though different concepts could identify the same thing or the same concept could identify different things. If "your" concept identifies actual apples, and "my" concept identifies actual apples, they are the same concept. If a concept does not identify actual apples, even if the word "apple" is used to indicate that concept, it is not the concept apple, but if a concept does identify actual apples, no matter what word or symbol in any language is used to indicate that concept, it is the same concept that, in English, is indicated by the word apple.

This is why a word in one language can be translated into a word in another language, because the words in either language are only symbols that indicate the same concept. This is also why a botanist who knows almost everything that can known about apples can talk to a little boy who knows very little about apples, beyond what they taste and look like, and can both know what is being talked about, because the concept indicated by the word apple identifies the exact same existents for both the botanist and little boy, however little or much either knows about those existents.

This is the fundamental difference in our understanding of language, and concepts in particular. My view is that a concept's only meaning is the actual existents the concept identifies, and the only purpose of a definition is to verbally point out or indicate those existents. Your view, as far as I can tell, assumes a concept's meaning is or includes its definition and possibly other things about the existents identified.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm
What do you like from the ocean?
I barbeque fresh salmon all the time. NEVER take the skin off until it's done, and cook it 80% on the skin side. Amazing. But my personal favourite is genuine Cajun crab cakes, hand made on the bay and spiced the traditional way.

How about game meat...have you ever tried any?
I'm originally from New England and was brought up eating lobster, clams, and a fish unique to New England called "scrod." (It's not really 'a' fish, and may be cod, haddock, hake, or even flounder. The term was used by restaurants to indicate the fresh fish of the day.)

I grew up with uncles who all hunted and fished, and did a little of that when younger myself, so I've had most common game from venison to rabbit, pheasant, quail, duck, and wild turkey. When I live in North Carolina one of our favorite restaurants served some different game every Wednesday. It was fun trying things like wild hog and elk, but I could live very well without ever having game again, with the exception of trout (the little brooky's called speckled trout).

You mentioned Cajun and game. I wonder if you've ever tried alligator or turtle. (I'm not sure the Creoles would agree with you that Cajun spices were, "traditional," but I could listen to them debating the issue all day, "I garuntee.") I haven't and won't try turtle or any other reptile. I have a strong aversion to the smell and taste of all reptiles, but again, everyone is different.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm
Food is definitely more fun than philosophy isn't it?
Both are good for the digestion. :wink:
I've been interested in things usually addressed by philosophy since I was very young, but am now at a place where I have almost no use for anything that goes by that name. A very few "philosophers" got a very few things right, but as they say, even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while, and the few things in philosophy that are correct are not terribly profound or important. Mostly the corpus of philosophy is wrong and very dangerous when taken seriously. Obviously, those who think they are philosophers seldom appreciate my views, especially the fact I do not take them seriously.

Thanks for the interesting and stimulating conversation.

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:31 pm
by RCSaunders
jayjacobus wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:17 pm
You two guys are members of a very selective collective. There are just two of you and you have a certain reverence for each other. Interesting, but do you practice what you pre 8) ach?
Hi Jay,

It's kind of a sad commentary when civil discourse is considered unusual, don't you think?

One does not have to agree with someone else to enjoy them. Very often it is difference of opinion that makes them interesting, especially if the other's opinions are a reflection of their character and integrity.

Since I don't preach, meaning, I don't judge others and have no interest in changing how anyone else thinks or chooses to live their life, I guess I don't practice what I preach. (Actually, I have no idea what the question means.)

Thanks for the comment.

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:14 pm
by Immanuel Can
RCSaunders wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:14 pm
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm
A concept does not mean its definition, a concept means whatever actual existent or category of existents it identifies.

Yes, that's true; it does.
So far, so good! but...
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm
But the relation of concept to existent is not direct. It is not the case that the concept "apple" automatically produces in human minds a red fruit.
Thank goodness for that. If every concept for an entity ended up producing one of those enitities in our minds ... well I'm sure you see where that is going. Apparently you do not understand what I mean by, "identify." Identify does not mean reproduce something, or have a picture or image of something, or explaining something. Identify only means to indicate, out of all the things that exist, which of those existents is referred to in speech or thought.
But as I said, it doesn't even do that. Instead, it only narrows the recipient's imagination down to a cluster of similar, possible but not the same concepts.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm
It is the case that by linguistic consensus, we have decided that it ought to...but the fruit in question can also be green or yellow, and can be a fruit or a computer or the centre of an eyeball or just a flavour. The importance of this point is that the linguistic content "apple" does not correspond in a simple, singular way to something in the real world. Rather, it invokes a package of associations in the mind of each individual. And to a non-English speaker, of course, it corresponds to nothing at all, because it does not produce any such association.
I am certain that no aspect of language can be established by agreement or consensus.
Oh, that's the only way it ever is. Unless two speakers agree on the approximate referent of a word, they can't communicate. It's not just that one speaker will think "Give me my apple" means "Pass me my computer" instead of "Hand me that fruit": it's that the words "Give," "me," "my" and "apple" all have to have the common meanings necessary to evoke the desired reaction from the hearer.
The primary purpose of language is knowledge, not communication. Communication is a secondary derivative purpose of language. One must know something before they can communicate it and language is the only method for acquiring and holding knowledge.

You're onto one thing that's true here: knowledge has a reciprocal relation with language. We can't have anything to say without knowledge of something, but we also can't know things unless we can convert them into intelligibility in the mind...that is, articulate them.

Perceiving is not the same as knowing, after all. Fish "perceive." So do paramecia. That does not mean they have knowledge, unless we strain the meaning of that word beyond the reasonable.
One reason you may not be able to understand what I mean by a concept only being an identifier is because you think a word is a concept.
No, that's not what I think.
A word is a symbol that represents a concept.
That's what I think.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm
So the claim, "I know what an apple is," is deceptive. At most, it means, "I think I am thinking of something like what you are thinking." But it's not only not certain knowledge, but we can be fairly sure that the picture in my mind is not the same as the picture in yours. In what sense, then, is knowledge of an apple "certain"? It's probabilistic, at best.
Straight out of Hume.
Not at all. But if it were, that would be ad hominem. Who cares who said it: the important question is, "Is it true?"
Do you think these concepts: meaning, principle, possible, necessary, problem, mistake, urgency, emergency, success, failure, important, interest, critical, vague, ultimate, tenuous, implied, passion, threat, excellence, dignity, honesty, news, lost, hope, boredom, and nostalgia, consist of or require some kind of images to know and think?
I did not suggest any such thing. You'll have to take that up with Mr. Hume. It has nothing to do with me. I did not say every word is an image.
You may be deceived about what an apple is (perhaps the definition of the concept is ambiguous) but I assure you I know exactly what the concept means, actual apples, with all that is true about those apples including different varieties, colors, where they will or will not grow, etc. which things are about actual apples identified by the concept apple, but not about the concept itself or included in any way in that concept, which does nothing but identify what all that knowledge is of and about.
Let's take this back to the main issue, then: the possibility of certain knowledge. You believe in it, and I think all human knowing is probabilistic. Your imagining that you "know" what an apple is does not communicate to me the same referent. You have said so: "you may be deceived." But if that's the case, then you cannot communicate any knowledge in a certain way to me. Second-hand knowledge cannot be certain, but I can only estimate probabilistically that I am understanding correctly.

So far, so good?

But if that's the case, then your "certain" knowledge has reduced its scope to the immediate experience of yourself. No other person, whether master linguist or august scientist, can communicate to you any certain knowledge.

Now, it's still possible to doubt that your immediate, experiential knowledge is "certain," as well. Let me give you an example: you're in a new building, looking for the office of a friend. At the end of a long hall, you see a corner. "Aha! You say: I bet his office is to the left. When I get to the end of the hall, I'll try going left first."

But when you get to the corner, you find that the hall only goes right. The apparent "left" is only a custodian's cupboard.

Now, at one time, you were (immediately, experientially and personally) certain you could turn left. You meant to do it. But you were deceived. What you should have said to yourself is, "It seems probable to me that the hall turns both ways, and I'll go left if it does." But we often think we are more certain than we are, because we are rather naive about the reliability of our own sensory impressions, and particularly about sight. We think "seeing is believing": but sometimes, "seeing is being deceived."

But in most cases, probably not. However, only probably.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm
Because linguistic signifiers are social constructs, we could have constructed them to mean different things than they do. And indeed, that is exactly what does happen, because we have different languages in the world. "Apple," "pomme," and "manzana" all signal the same cluster of concepts and referents. But there is nothing in any of those words that makes it more "realistic" to the phenomenon of a red fruit than any other of those words is.
The symbols, "2," "two," "II," and, "10," (binary) "0010" (hexadecimal) are different symbols for the same concept.
This isn't an apt analogy. Numbers are non-empirical. My claim that all empirical knowledge is probabilistic is therefore not actually touched by this example. We'd need an empirical one.
I have no idea what, "there is nothing in any of those words that makes it more "realistic" to the phenomenon of a red fruit than any other of those words," possibly means.

It means that none of these communicates specific knowledge about a singular referent. Words do not communicate a singular reality in an unambiguous or "certain" way.
It is not going to be possible to resolve the differences in our views of knowledge.
Well, I think you can't make a case for a piece of knowledge that is genuinely "certain," unless, as in maths and symbolic logic, it is a piece of the furnishings of a closed, self-sufficient system of symbols. Even there, original axioms that cannot be proved have to be taken for granted: but once they are, the only "certain" knowledge possible is what can be communicated.
Unless you mean something more I've missed you apparently believe language is some kind of social thing with the main purpose being communication.

It's both communication and knowledge: because knowledge is a kind of "communication with oneself." One cannot know what one cannot communicate to oneself. For then, one is only dealing with fuzzy intuition, not with something focused and structured in such a ways as to become knowledge.

When you say or write something meaning some social construct arrived at by some consensus (of whom you do not say),[/quote]
I'm happy to say. It's a social arrangement by members of a linguistic group. Your parents teach you what the "rules" of the linguistic group are, both by modelling and direct teaching. Without those, you'd have no language at all. And this consensus is the only thing that makes your linguistic acts meaningful to anyone...even yourself.
If "your" concept identifies actual apples, and "my" concept identifies actual apples, they are the same concept.
But not the same "apple." That's what I mean when I say a concept does not convey a specific, unique reality, but rather invokes a certain cluster of associations in the mind of the hearer. I have never seen your "apple," and you don't know what "apples" I have seen. So what's in my mind is not what's in yours; it's only something like it, and like it enough (probably) that I can think I understand you aright.

Here's the point again: you are not "certain" about my knowledge of the apple. I am not "certain" about yours. And we are not talking with solid "certainty" about the same apple. There's nothing "certain" going on there: only something probabilistic.
...the concept indicated by the word apple identifies the exact same existents for both the botanist and little boy,
That is what it never does. As I say, it only convinces the botanist and the boy that they have something alike in mind. It's probabilistic, not certain communication.
...the little brooky's called speckled trout....
Cooked over an open campfire, in nothing but little butter?

If angels eat anything, that's it.
You mentioned Cajun and game. I wonder if you've ever tried alligator or turtle.
Alligator, yes...reddish and rubbery, but not bad. Turtle, not yet.
I've been interested in things usually addressed by philosophy since I was very young, but am now at a place where I have almost no use for anything that goes by that name.
Well, I came to it after being knee deep in literature, art and then theology. In the end, it occurred to me that the most frank way of unpacking all that great literature, artistic movements and theologians were trying to convey was put most frankly by philosophers...often only after the former had done some of their work, because artists often lead the way in new understandings of the world and new ways of seeing or articulating perceptions. I've always been interested in how people think about things, and why they think the things they do. I guess I was always on my way to focusing on philosophy, even at the beginning, when I didn't know I was.
Thanks for the interesting and stimulating conversation.
The appreciation is mutual.

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:57 pm
by jayjacobus
Appreciate for yourselves. I on the other hand am bored with the two of you.

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:44 pm
by Immanuel Can
jayjacobus wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:57 pm
Appreciate for yourselves. I on the other hand am bored with the two of you.
Heh. :D

We live to entertain you. We're shattered that you're unamused.

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:12 pm
by jayjacobus
Amused would be a carrot. Boring is a stick. So, do you have any carrots?

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:01 pm
by Immanuel Can
jayjacobus wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:12 pm
Amused would be a carrot. Boring is a stick. So, do you have any carrots?
Carrots and sticks...that metaphor is about motivating a donkey, as I recall...

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:01 pm
by RCSaunders
Well that was quick, IC. I think I'll take a little longer to respond. Perhaps it's me, but I am a little confused about what you actually mean. For example:
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:14 pm
RCSaunders wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:14 pm
Identify does not mean reproduce something, or have a picture or image of something, or explaining something. Identify only means to indicate, out of all the things that exist, which of those existents is referred to in speech or thought.
But as I said, it doesn't even do that. Instead, it only narrows the recipient's imagination down to a cluster of similar, possible but not the same concepts.
But later ...
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:14 pm
Do you think these concepts: meaning, principle, ..., consist of or require some kind of images to know and think?
I did not suggest any such thing. You'll have to take that up with Mr. Hume. It has nothing to do with me. I did not say every word is an image.
No, you did not use those words, but if that is not what you mean, what does it mean when you say a concept, "only narrows the recipient's imagination down to a cluster of similar, possible but not the same concepts?" Or, what does it mean when you later say, "So the claim, 'I know what an apple is,' is deceptive. At most, it means, 'I think I am thinking of something like what you are thinking.' But it's not only not certain knowledge, but we can be fairly sure that the picture in my mind is not the same as the picture in yours.

There is another problem here (for me trying to understand what you mean). I said a concept identifies existents, (not other concepts such as its definition), but your words seem to say a concept only "narrows down" other possible concepts. If that really is what concepts do, how is anything outside the mind ever identified? If a concept only narrows down some field of already existing concepts, then those concepts must only narrow down fields of other already existing concepts, ad infinitum. How does one break out of that cycle? The most important question is, if concepts only narrow down other possible concepts, where did the first concepts come from?

Here is one thing we do agree on:
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:14 pm
Perceiving is not the same as knowing, after all. Fish "perceive." So do paramecia. That does not mean they have knowledge, unless we strain the meaning of that word beyond the reasonable.
It's what I've said all along.

All that you have said to demonstrate there is no certain knowledge are actually illustrations of fallibility and the fact that knowledge of everything is not possible, but, as I said much earlier in our discussion, the possibility of certain knowledge does not mean infallibility or omnisicience.

I believe I've examined every argument that attempts to prove certain knowledge of material existence is not possible, but I remain convinced human beings can know most things with certainty, including all those things we must know to survive and live successfully in this world, and though mistakes, uncertainty, and ignorance are common, they are not necessary and are the result of individual's not choosing to use their abilities to learn and think as well as they could.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:14 pm
The symbols, "2," "two," "II," and, "10," (binary) "0010" (hexadecimal) are different symbols for the same concept.
Bad analogy. Numbers are non-empirical. My claim that all empirical knowledge is probabilistic is not touched by this example.
It is not an analogy. It is an example of different symbols being used for the same concept, in exactly same way my earlier list, 'home,' 'domocile,' 'residence,' 'abode,' '<i>casa</i>,' (Spanish), '<i>maison</i>,' (French), '<i>spiti</i>,' (Greek), and '<i>ban</i>,' (Thai) are examples of different symbols used for the same concept.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:14 pm
I have no idea what, "there is nothing in any of those words that makes it more 'realistic' to the phenomenon of a red fruit than any other of those words," possibly means.

It means that none of these communicates specific knowledge about a singular referent. Words do not communicate a singular reality in an unambiguous or "certain" way.
I am again confused. Since you earlier agree words are not concepts but only symbols for concepts, I have to assume you are saying a concept is supposed to or does, "communicate knowledge," which you then go on to say they do not do unambiguously. If that is what you mean, I have no idea what you mean by a concept.

I know how a proposition expresses knowledge and how it can communicate knowledge, but I don't know what it means to say a concept communicates knowledge. Concepts, all by themselves are not knowledge, only propositions are knowledge. The Greeks and formal logicians were careful to make the distinction, calling a concept, all by itself (such as, "book,") a simple apprehension, which is neither true or false unless something (a proposition) is asserted about the concept. "The book is in the library," is, "true." if the book is actually in the library, but, "false," if someone has removed the book from the library," but simply thinking, saying, or writing, "book," is neither true or false.

So, how does a concept or word, which is not itself knowledge, communicate knowledge?
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:14 pm
It is not going to be possible to resolve the differences in our views of knowledge.
Well, I think you can't make a case for a piece of knowledge that is genuinely "certain," unless, as in maths and symbolic logic, it is a piece of the furnishings of a closed, self-sufficient system of symbols.
Here again I am never quite certain what you and others who make such claims mean. Where do you think the human inventions of language, mathematics, and logic come from if they are not based on reality as it is perceived? Language would never have existed if there were nothing ever perceived to identify, think about, and understand. Counting, which is the foundation of all mathematics, would never have been developed if there was nothing perceived to count. Logic would never have been developed, (or needed), if there was nothing perceived to think about or question.

Unless one believes what is perceived is some kind of illusion or hallucination, a la Plato and all the idealists, the directly perceivable (that which we can be directly conscious of) is the ontological, that which all knowledge is about and the basis of all epistemological methods such as language, logic, and mathematics.

While I have no use for any of his own philosophy, Bertrand Russell did say one correct thing: "Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true." The same can be said about logic, especially symbolic logic, as well, and even language so long as it is only the symbology, structure, and mechanics of language that is meant. The validity of any of these methods is determined by how well they can be used to correctly identify the facts of material existence and that validity cannot be established separate from the material reality they are about. A, "self-sufficient system of symbols," would be a work of fiction or a game with rules that determine how it is to be played, but would have no connection at all to reality or what can be true or false.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:14 pm
I'm happy to say. It's a social arrangement by members of a linguistic group. Your parents teach you what the "rules" of the linguistic group are, both by modelling and direct teaching. Without those, you'd have no language at all. And this consensus is the only thing that makes your linguistic acts meaningful to anyone...even yourself.
Here again we have what is a mystery to me. If language is only what one learns from their parents and their peers, where did language come from? Most of us do learn the language we use from others and will use that language so long as its useful, because inventing one's own would be unreasonable. But originally, language had to be invented, and most languages continues to be developed, which means that one's own language is what he chooses to use and one could choose not to use any available language and invent one's own.

I cannot speak for anyone else and perhaps others willingly allow what others think believe and practice to determine what they think, believe, and practice, but I do not. I only use language that is useful to me, as a means to gaining and holding knowledge and thinking. When communicating with others I try to used language I have reason to believe they are familiar with and understand, but otherwise, language for me is only a tool and method by which I understand the world. If I know what some existent is and there is a common word used to identify that existent, I will gladly use it rather than invent my own, but I will not use a word, no matter how popular it is, if it is ambiguous or identifies what I know does not really exist. The very last thing that would ever occur to me to consider is whether or not anyone else uses language as I do. If I know something, I know it, even if the entire rest of the world disagrees with me. It is useful when others understand me, but it is not necessary for anyone else to understand what I know for me to know it. If I am wrong about something, I am wrong all my own and will gladly bear the consequences of my mistakes. The one thing that is certain is that I do not think, believe, or use language as I do, because anyone else does.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:14 pm
...the little brooky's called speckled trout....
Cooked over an open campfire, in nothing but little butter?
If angels eat anything, that's it.
Manna or ambrosia, perhaps?
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:14 pm
... because artists often lead the way in new understandings of the world and new ways of seeing or articulating perceptions.
Well, that's true enough, but I'm not sure those, "new understandings of the world," have been a good thing. At least they are interesting.

And so have you been, as well as patient and reasonable, which are so rare today.

RC

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:37 pm
by jayjacobus
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:01 pm
jayjacobus wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:12 pm
Amused would be a carrot. Boring is a stick. So, do you have any carrots?
Carrots and sticks...that metaphor is about motivating a donkey, as I recall...
Trump uses sticks to create opportunities that he can take advantage of. He uses carrots too but not very often. At any rate he is motivating people and countries not donkeys.

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:25 pm
by Immanuel Can
RCSaunders wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:01 pm
Well that was quick, IC. I think I'll take a little longer to respond.
Well, stop saying interesting things, then, and I'll slow down. :D
Perhaps it's me, but I am a little confused about what you actually mean. For example...No, you did not use those words, but if that is not what you mean, what does it mean when you say a concept, "only narrows the recipient's imagination down to a cluster of similar, possible but not the same concepts?" Or, what does it mean when you later say, "So the claim, 'I know what an apple is,' is deceptive. At most, it means, 'I think I am thinking of something like what you are thinking.' But it's not only not certain knowledge, but we can be fairly sure that the picture in my mind is not the same as the picture in yours.
That's fairly straightforward. I can explain.

An "apple" does put a specifying ( by which I mean not "the same" but "specifying a concrete object," something one could imaginatively "see") image in one's mind. But not all concepts do. Some, like "beautiful" or "cold," may or may not be associated with any specifying image...they may instead only invoke a sensation or experience of some kind, or even an abstraction, as when on speaks of the concept "mind."

So whether it's an image, a sensation, an experience or an abstraction, the important point here is that it is not the same image, sensation, experience or abstraction that is invoked by the word. In fact, the word "apple" might invoke for you the image of a red fruit, and for me the sensation of working on my computer, which would mean our referents were not even from the same category, let alone being the same "picture" in our minds.

There's thus not anything certain about our communication. If we get it right, then the thing that appears in my mind as a result of your word is close enough to what you're intending that we can participate in some sort of common understanding; but if not, we've miscommunicated. And that happens all the time -- which it would not, if what we were doing was communicating "certain" knowledge.
There is another problem here (for me trying to understand what you mean). I said a concept identifies existents, (not other concepts such as its definition), but your words seem to say a concept only "narrows down" other possible concepts. If that really is what concepts do, how is anything outside the mind ever identified?
As above. We're trying to get a kind of "close enough" fit. That's the best we can do.
The most important question is, if concepts only narrow down other possible concepts, where did the first concepts come from?
You mean in human history? Nobody can really say. Plato thought it was a "realm of higher forms." I don't think that's true. I think concepts are what human beings produce in response to the creation. But I can't be sure some aren't directly implanted by God...that's conceivably true, for some things like moral conscience, perhaps.

But your concepts, and my concepts, are inheritances, mostly. We get them from our parents, our culture and our own experiences. We even can, though rarely do, generate our own, as a way of describing unique perceptions...but they we have to convey them in words, which is always a dodgy business to get "certain."
Here is one thing we do agree on:
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:14 pm
Perceiving is not the same as knowing, after all. Fish "perceive." So do paramecia. That does not mean they have knowledge, unless we strain the meaning of that word beyond the reasonable.
It's what I've said all along.

All that you have said to demonstrate there is no certain knowledge are actually illustrations of fallibility and the fact that knowledge of everything is not possible, but, as I said much earlier in our discussion, the possibility of certain knowledge does not mean infallibility or omnisicience.
I don't see that difference, I must confess. To "have uncertainty" is surely a product of the fallible nature of our knowledge. And to have absolute certainty would require omniscience. I think the best we can have is proximal certainty, which is based on an estimation of probability: as in, "this is very probably true."

That's the limit of "certainty," at least in empirical matters.
I remain convinced human beings can know most things with certainty,
But not absolute certainty, surely. You're speaking only of enough certainty to function, survive, avoid serious errors, and so on, no?

I don't say we don't have enough certainty to function. Certainly not. :wink: But we don't have absolute certainty, such that we are warranted in saying "there is NO possibility of me being wrong about X or Y." Epistemic humility and the frequency of our errors advise us against such self-certainty.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:14 pm
The symbols, "2," "two," "II," and, "10," (binary) "0010" (hexadecimal) are different symbols for the same concept.
Bad analogy. Numbers are non-empirical. My claim that all empirical knowledge is probabilistic is not touched by this example.
It is not an analogy.
It is, though. Numbers are not words. Numbers are the same for the Chinese, the Congolese and the Mancunians. But language is not. Language lacks the fixity of numbers.
I am again confused. Since you earlier agree words are not concepts but only symbols for concepts, I have to assume you are saying a concept is supposed to or does, "communicate knowledge," which you then go on to say they do not do unambiguously. If that is what you mean, I have no idea what you mean by a concept.

What I mean is only that "knowledge," once it passes between any two people, is not exactly and precisely the same "knowledge" in both minds. It's only "something like," if the communication works well. And if it's "very like," then the communication is as good as it gets.
So, how does a concept or word, which is not itself knowledge, communicate knowledge?
Well, propositions are made of words. If the words are not the same, the communication is not precise, no matter what the chosen proposition is.

Take "The boat is in the harbour."

I don't know what "harbour" that is, or what kind of "boat" is suggested there. Yet it's a proposition, and a true one, perhaps. Maybe there is a "boat" in the "harbour," and it's enough information for me to go to my nearest harbour and find something I recognize as a boat. But it's far from "certain" that I understand precisely what you mean, or what you are thinking of, when you give me the proposition and instruction, "My boat is in the harbour: I'll meet you there." We may find each other: but not as a result of precise and certain communication, but rather because you gave me enough information to find my way to you, and I understood it well enough to get there.
Where do you think the human inventions of language, mathematics, and logic come from if they are not based on reality as it is perceived?
Mathematics is a system of abstract adjectives, really.

A "two" or a "ten" cannot be found in the real world, apart from its association with a particular noun -- "two sheep," or "ten little Indians," if you will. But all on its own, "two" is nothing but an abstraction. If I say, "Give me two," your first question ought to be, "Two whats?" because "twoness" is only adjectival, not concrete.

So "twoness" is a way humans use to signify the numerical quantity or size of anything. It has no unique referents in the material world: only a vast number of possible objects and referents to which it can be applied. "Twos" cannot be actually found in the world, existing all by themselves. They are human constructs for dealing with a huge range of different experiences.
Counting, which is the foundation of all mathematics, would never have been developed if there was nothing perceived to count.
Of course. But maths did not appear by themselves: they were discovered. This is why we can speak of the discovery of the "O" as being a key moment in the history of maths...things worked differently in the system without that digit. People still lived, and could still quantify and exchange things...say, by putting them in a balance or in a standard container -- or, if I have six sheep and know their names, I don't need to know I have six in order to "count" them; I just say, "Hey, Flossie is missing today," and I know I have to go searching.
Logic would never have been developed, (or needed), if there was nothing perceived to think about or question.
Of course: but that's the point. It "has been developed." It did not simply appear in the environment.
Unless one believes what is perceived is some kind of illusion or hallucination, a la Plato and all the idealists, the directly perceivable (that which we can be directly conscious of) is the ontological,
Okay, but what does "be directly conscious of" entail? It doesn't mean "comes from the external (empirical) world, surely. After all, I am "directly conscious" of nothing so much as my own mind's activities: but my mind does not come to me from the external empirical world.
While I have no use for any of his own philosophy, Bertrand Russell did say one correct thing: "Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true." The same can be said about logic, especially symbolic logic, as well, and even language so long as it is only the symbology, structure, and mechanics of language that is meant.
Where then is this "certainty" of knowledge of which you spoke earlier, then? If it's not even in maths and logic, which are our best candidates, how do we ever think we have it in our contacts with the empirical world, which depend on our admittedly fallible senses and faulty communications?
A, "self-sufficient system of symbols," would be a work of fiction or a game with rules that determine how it is to be played, but would have no connection at all to reality or what can be true or false.
Oh, not so. But I think you're imagining that truth and falsehood can be checked against some "certain knowledge" we have. And I suggest that they can't. What they can be checked against is only their "close enoughness" for our purposes.

But ultimate truth: that's something only God knows. If He tells us, and assists His communication to be accurate to us, then we might know it too. But if He didn't, then uncertain, probabilistic knowledge is all we could ever have. And we'd have to hope that it would turn out to be good enough to get us what we wish, but that would be the limit of our "certainty."
If language is only what one learns from their parents and their peers, where did language come from?
Theists like myself say it comes directly from God, originally. But linguists today say all languages came from an original singular language, now dead, called "Into-European." That's as much as they know.
Manna or ambrosia, perhaps?
Yes, perhaps. Whatever it is, brookies are tasty enough to inspire visions and ecstasies. So perhaps ambrosia.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:14 pm
... because artists often lead the way in new understandings of the world and new ways of seeing or articulating perceptions.
Well, that's true enough, but I'm not sure those, "new understandings of the world," have been a good thing. At least they are interesting.
Yes, they are. And you're right: a fair number of those "new understandings" have inspired pretty awful things. I don't think the association between Marx and the Communist excesses fails to be connected, nor that Nietzsche, for all his hatred of Nazism, succeeds in being detached from the "übermensch" of Hitler. As Weaver famously wrote, "Ideas have consequences." And some of those consequences have admittedly been quite terrible.
And so have you been, as well as patient and reasonable, which are so rare today.
I trust I shall not turn "terrible." :wink: I'm enjoying your thoughts. But for your convenience, you'll note I slowed my response a touch.

We can talk again at your convenience. No hurry, because we're deep in a big issue, and I'm sure it will stay interesting.

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:56 pm
by RCSaunders
Hi IC,

There is fundamental difference in what we mean by language, and in particulare, by a concept. Most of our other disagreements can be reduced to that difference, so I'm going to address that issue.

Concepts
Immanuel Can wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:25 pm
An "apple" does put a specifying ( by which I mean not "the same" but "specifying a concrete object," something one could imaginatively "see") image in one's mind. But not all concepts do. Some, like "beautiful" or "cold," may or may not be associated with any specifying image...they may instead only invoke a sensation or experience of some kind, or even an abstraction, as when on speaks of the concept "mind."

So whether it's an image, a sensation, an experience or an abstraction, the important point here is that it is not the same image, sensation, experience or abstraction that is invoked by the word. In fact, the word "apple" might invoke for you the image of a red fruit, and for me the sensation of working on my computer, which would mean our referents were not even from the same category, let alone being the same "picture" in our minds.

There's thus not anything certain about our communication. If we get it right, then the thing that appears in my mind as a result of your word is close enough to what you're intending that we can participate in some sort of common understanding; but if not, we've miscommunicated. And that happens all the time -- which it would not, if what we were doing was communicating "certain" knowledge.
Since I do not mean by the word concept what you mean, it is difficult for me address what you mean. So, if I'm wrong, please correct me.

Based on what you have described you seem to think the purpose or function of a concept is to elicit some kind of mental experience (an image, a sensation, or an abstraction) that in some way corresponds to that which a concept identifies. The validity of a concept, according to that view, would be determined by how well the elicited mental response is like or similar to or, otherwise, accurately portrays or represents the existent or existents.

On that basis and your belief that the elicited response can never perfect portray or represent the existent or existents in question, even the best concepts are only approximations of reality.

Unless I'm mistaken, you view a concept as some kind of mental experience that represents an actual existent in some limited or diminished way, like representing an apple by means of a conscious, but imperfect, image of an apple, or representing, "cold," by means of a conscious, but imperfect, sensation of cold, to use one of your examples. The degree of certainty of concepts thus viewed is determined by the accuracy of the conscious experience representing an existent.

In my view of concepts there is no corresponding conscious experience reflecting or representing existents. The only purpose or function of a concept is to identify existents the concept refers to. To suggest a concept is inaccurate or not quite certain has no meaning. Either the existents identified actually exist or they do not.

A concept, in my view, does not provide any information about any existent or in any way make it imagined or understood what any existent or existents are. In thought or speech or writing, a word is only a symbol for a concept and a concept means the actual existents being thought, spoken, or written about.

[I'm not going to reiterate my view of concepts because to do it right would require too much here, and I've already explained my view in several other places, including my articles on epistemology.]

The primary difference between your view of concepts and mine, as far as I can tell, is in your view the validity of a concept is determined by how well a concept provides an idea of what an existent or existents are, but in my view the validity of a concept is determined solely by whether or not the existents referred to by the concept actually exist.

Communication

The second difference in our view of concepts is your view that the primary purpose of concepts is communication and my view that the primary purpose of concepts is to identify existents as the means of gaining and holding knowledge.

That difference accounts for how we understand the validity or reliability of concepts. You think the veracity of a concept is determined by how well it produces in another's mind the same or similar conscious experience we associate with a concept. I think the veracity of a concept is determined solely by the existence of the identified referents.

If apples exist and I can identify apples (by means of their definition) I know what apples are, whether anyone else knows what apples are or not.

Definitions

In your view of concepts, as far as I can tell, a concept means its definition. At least for so-called analytic concepts. I'm not sure what you think about concepts in general.

In my view of concepts a concept means the actual existents referred to by the concept, not anything about them. The sole purpose of a verbal definition is to do verbally what pointing at an existent and saying, "I mean one of those," does, indicate the existents the concept identifies.

The concept "tree" is defined: "a very tall plant that has deep roots, a thick stem made of wood, and many branches." An existent that has those attributes is a tree. Whether thinking about, talking about, writing about, seeing, studying, or cutting one down, if the existent has the attributes of a tree it is a tree, absolutely. If it has the attributes of a tree, it can have any other attributes, (color, size, changes with seasons, preferred environment, leaves, needles, be soft wood or hard wood, etc.) so long as those attributes do not contradict the ones it must have to be a tree, (it cannot be branchless, be a liquid, made of stone, or dead). The concept tree does not require one to see a tree (actually or mentally) or to know anything about trees, or have any opinion about trees or for anyone else to have the concept tree. Concepts only exist in individual consciousnesses.

The purpose of a concept is only to identify existents, not to provide any information about them. A definition may imply information about the referents of a concept in order to indicate what existents a concept identifies, but that is not the purpose (or objective) of either the concept or the definition.

My view of concepts rests on the ontological principle that an existent is whatever its qualities (attributes, characteristic, or properties) are.

Words Are Symbols

Here, again, I'm not certain what your view is, but you seem to equate words and concepts. When you suggest the word apple is a confused concept that could mean either a fruit or a computer, it implies to me you think the word, "apple," is a concept.

In my view, a word is not a concept. A word is symbol that represents a concept. A symbol can be anything but most commonly has a graphic form (pictographs, abstract designs or marks, with various ways of using and forming them from unique symbols for every concept to phonetic alphabetic forms), but can also be vocalized, signed, or represented in other forms (braille).

The same symbol, such as a word, may be used for more than one concept, e.g., "light," and many concepts are represented by more than one symbol, e.g. "domicile," "home," "casa." Some concepts in some languages use special symbols in addition to words because they are easier to manipulate, like, "=" another symbol for the concept represented by the word, "equals," or, "4," another symbol for the concept represented by the word, "four," or, ">," another symbol for the concept represented by the phrase, "greater than."

This is my view of the relationship between symbols, such as words and concepts. I have no idea what your view, "numbers are not words," means. If they are not words they do not represent anything. If they represent something, like the concepts for actual quantities, I would call them symbols, which is all that words are. What do you call them?

Mathematics

To my question, "Where do you think the human inventions of language, mathematics, and logic come from if they are not based on reality as it is perceived?" you wrote: "Mathematics is a system of abstract adjectives, really. A 'two' or a 'ten' cannot be found in the real world, apart from its association with a particular noun -- 'two sheep,' or 'ten little Indians,' if you will. But all on its own, "two" is nothing but an abstraction. ..."

Of course, but the question is not about what mathematics is, but why it was developed. 'Left, right, above, below, in, out, big, small, clockwise, moving, still, are all abstract adjectives. (And, I'm tempted to ask, if, "'two' is nothing but an abstraction," from what was it abstracted.)

Now I agree completely with the statement that numbers, "are human constructs for dealing with a huge range of different experiences," (I would have used intentions) just as other such concepts like, left, right, above, below, etc. are, but am certain none of those concepts would have been, "constructed," independently of anything that could be counted or was to the left, right, above, or below something else. In my view, if there were never multiple things humans were conscious of there would be no reason for them to have invented counting and mathematics. The ontological fact all mathematics is based on is the fact of the multiplicity of material existence.

Then, to my comment, Counting, which is the foundation of all mathematics, would never have been developed if there was nothing perceived to count," you wrote: "Of course. But maths did not appear by themselves: they were discovered. This is why we can speak of the discovery of the "O" as being a key moment in the history of maths...things worked differently in the system without that digit."

But if mathematics is only a human construct, before it was invented there was nothing to discover. As you pointed out, numbers do not exist in nature as wild, "twos," or, "square roots," or, "zeros." "0" was not discovered, it was invented entirely for its utility in many mathematical functions.

Now, if I understand you, mathematics and logic only exist as human inventions for dealing with certain aspects of reality, but do not depend in any way on the nature of existence to be what they are; that mathematics and logic could have been developed without any reference to or dependence on existence and would be just as valid if there were no existence. This seems extreme to me and is perhaps not exactly what you mean, and you can refine that view if you like.

Ultimate Truth

But ultimate truth: that's something only God knows.

Of course you know I'm not going to accept the premise, "only God knows," but even if I did, I would have no idea what, "ultimate truth," is supposed to mean. It is obvious to me, our views of what truth is are very different, which of course will mean our understanding of what knowledge is will be very different. Perhaps, next time, we can discuss what we mean by truth.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:25 pm
We can talk again at your convenience. No hurry, because we're deep in a big issue, and I'm sure it will stay interesting.
I'm sure it will stay interesting, as well. All my best,

RC

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:55 pm
by Immanuel Can
RC:

I appreciate your fair-mindedness and your genuine efforts to represent what I'm saying. It's rare to see the principle of charity observed, alas.

You're more or less right about what it think, with only minor adjustments.
RCSaunders wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:56 pm
Based on what you have described you seem to think the purpose or function of a concept is to elicit some kind of mental experience (an image, a sensation, or an abstraction) that in some way corresponds to that which a concept identifies. The validity of a concept, according to that view, would be determined by how well the elicited mental response is like or similar to or, otherwise, accurately portrays or represents the existent or existents.

On that basis and your belief that the elicited response can never perfect portray or represent the existent or existents in question, even the best concepts are only approximations of reality.
Essentially, yes.
Unless I'm mistaken, you view a concept as some kind of mental experience that represents an actual existent in some limited or diminished way, like representing an apple by means of a conscious, but imperfect, image of an apple, or representing, "cold," by means of a conscious, but imperfect, sensation of cold, to use one of your examples. The degree of certainty of concepts thus viewed is determined by the accuracy of the conscious experience representing an existent.
Not quite what I meant, but close. I'm suggesting that we all get a kind of "bank" of associations (mind-images, sensations, memories, impressions, etc.) through our culture and our tutelage. When one person speaks to us of a concept, we don't get his concept simply given to us intact; rather we tend to draw on this "bank" to find something comparable to it, and when we find such a thing, we say, "Ah, yes; I see."

This process is noted by psychologists and educators. It's called "assimilation." It's that process by which we personally come to grips with alien or unfamiliar ideas and make them "ours," so to speak. It's how we digest them mentally, and make them accessible for future thoughts for ourselves.
In my view of concepts there is no corresponding conscious experience reflecting or representing existents. The only purpose or function of a concept is to identify existents the concept refers to.
I understand. What I'm pointing out is that it is not really "the same existents" (the specific existents you had in your mind) that are being assimilated into the mind of the hearer: it's only a comparable existent, drawn from his or her "bank."
To suggest a concept is inaccurate or not quite certain has no meaning. Either the existents identified actually exist or they do not.
Yet we have no unmediated access to any existents at all. Our own impressions of existents are mediated by our own sensory apparatus, our own "bank" of interpretations, experiences and ideas, and then articulated to others who are depending on their "bank."

That does not mean we are "just making things up," because the stimulus to which we are responding in accessing our "bank" comes from the outside of us and is not subject to our whims. Reality pushes back against what we might like to think it should be, and "insists" to us what it is. But to do that, it still has to stimulate us through our own sensory apparatus, and our understandings of reality are again going to be mediated or modified by that.
...a concept means the actual existents being thought, spoken, or written about.

I'm different from you on that point. I think a "concept" is a "conceptualization of" reality, and is not the actual existents themselves.
The primary difference between your view of concepts and mine, as far as I can tell, is in your view the validity of a concept is determined by how well a concept provides an idea of what an existent or existents are, but in my view the validity of a concept is determined solely by whether or not the existents referred to by the concept actually exist.

Okay, but what does "actually exist" entail? Are we thinking of "actually existing by simply being there," or "actually existing as the same as the concept in the percipient's brain"? I don't think the latter is possible. And I think, therefore, that when we say "I know the existent of concept X exists," what we really mean is, "I have something in my 'bank' that corresponds to X, or have assimilated it so as to give it place in my 'bank,' and so feel I can relate to the idea."
Communication

The second difference in our view of concepts is your view that the primary purpose of concepts is communication and my view that the primary purpose of concepts is to identify existents as the means of gaining and holding knowledge.
Well, a concept that had failed to "communicate" something to one's own brain would be unassimilated, and hence not a concept one understood. One might have a vague impression of the concept, but not a settled idea with its own rightful place among the items in one's brain 'bank.' And that would not even need to involve communication to another person -- if one could not even meaningfully "talk" about it to oneself, one simply does not understand it. One has no knowledge, but only a vague feeling of having encountered something one doesn't really grasp.
I think the veracity of a concept is determined solely by the existence of the identified referents.
Yet, as I suggest above, we do not even have direct access to existents-in-themselves. We have only access to an assimilated form of them, mediated to us by our sensory apparatus.
If apples exist and I can identify apples (by means of their definition) I know what apples are, whether anyone else knows what apples are or not.
What you then have is a category in the 'bank' of items to which you can refer that convince you that this new apple, that you have never seen before, is indeed an apple, by way of its features comparable to other apple-concepts you have known before.
Definitions

In your view of concepts, as far as I can tell, a concept means its definition. At least for so-called analytic concepts. I'm not sure what you think about concepts in general.
Not that it IS its definition. I have not said that. But I do think that there are analytic features to definitions.

In my view of concepts a concept means the actual existents referred to by the concept, not anything about them. The sole purpose of a verbal definition is to do verbally what pointing at an existent and saying, "I mean one of those," does, indicate the existents the concept identifies.
The concept tree does not require one to see a tree (actually or mentally) or to know anything about trees, or have any opinion about trees or for anyone else to have the concept tree. Concepts only exist in individual consciousnesses.
So for you, then "concepts" would be an entirely solipsistic thing? It would be one person, in individual consciousness, who holds the concept, and another person's concept is different?

You'd need to work that idea out a bit for me, because it seems to me it runs afoul immediately of the possibility of communication. How does your "concept" get communicated to me, if it "only exists in individual consciousness"?
Words Are Symbols

Here, again, I'm not certain what your view is, but you seem to equate words and concepts.

Not "equate." That's too strong a word. They're not "equal to," they're representative of.
When you suggest the word apple is a confused concept that could mean either a fruit or a computer, it implies to me you think the word, "apple," is a concept.
No, actually: quite the opposite. I think "apple" is multiple concepts...a fruit, a fruit of a different colour, the centre of an eye, a computer, a flavour...

Which one is meant has to be settled on context, because the word itself does not pick out any of these concepts to the exclusion of another.
This is my view of the relationship between symbols, such as words and concepts. I have no idea what your view, "numbers are not words," means. If they are not words they do not represent anything.
Sure they do. They signify the adjectival quality of the count of any items or quantities. Numbers are symbols that operate within a closed, non-empirical system called "mathematics." One can perform operations with them without specifying any items at all. For example,

2 +3 = 5.

Nobody has to ask, "two whats?" or "three of what quantity?" in order to perform the operation correctly. No empirical data is necessary to get the equation right. Empirical specificity is entirely optional in a mathematical operation.

But words are not "closed" in that way.
Ultimate Truth

But ultimate truth: that's something only God knows.

Of course you know I'm not going to accept the premise, "only God knows,"
Indeed so. I was only telling you about what I think, not arguing you have to think it too.
but even if I did, I would have no idea what, "ultimate truth," is supposed to mean.
I'm simply trying to get to your claim about the possibility of "certain knowledge," to use your term. I don't think anyone has completely certain knowledge, save God Himself.
It is obvious to me, our views of what truth is are very different, which of course will mean our understanding of what knowledge is will be very different. Perhaps, next time, we can discuss what we mean by truth.
That would be interesting.

Over to you, RC. There's a lot there you'll no doubt want to interrogate, and maybe a few things you want to clarify about your own position. I look forward to it.

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:54 pm
by Arising_uk
Immanuel Can wrote:... God Himself....
'God' has a gender?
You'd better hope 'its' not a Herself then.

Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Posted: Sat Sep 14, 2019 2:51 pm
by RCSaunders
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:55 pm
In my view of concepts there is no corresponding conscious experience reflecting or representing existents. The only purpose or function of a concept is to identify existents the concept refers to.
I understand. What I'm pointing out is that it is not really "the same existents" (the specific existents you had in your mind) that are being assimilated into the mind of the hearer: it's only a comparable existent, drawn from his or her "bank."
What bank? And how did we get it? Or do you believe we are born with some kind of innate knowledge?

Well, we haven't discussed the difference between universal and particular concepts, but when I say "Identify existents" I mean they are referents of the same concept, that is, the same kind of existents as all the other referents of the same concept. Concepts that identify existent as the kind they are (or the category they belong to) are universal concepts. Most concepts, except for proper names or specific individuals (particular concepts), are universal concept

What makes any existent the kind it is are all its necessary qualities, that is, the qualities it must have to be the kind of existent it is, and without which it would not be that kind of existent.

A concept may or may not refer to the same identical existent: "Would you like that apple?" she asked the boy. "Yes, I'd love that apple," he answered. Both are referring to the very same existent by the same concept. (So a concept certainly can identify the same existent.) But a concept may refer to any existent or existents which are the same kind of existents.

The referents of a concept are not, "comparable existents," or "similar existents," they are the very same kind of existents identified by the concept. Every existent is different in some way from every other existent, even existents of the same kind. There will be differences in every single actual apple (color, size, shape, etc.). It is those differences that make them unique individual existents, but every apple will have the same attributes that all apples must have to be apples, no matter what other different attributes they have. Any existent that has an apple's necessary qualities is an apple, period.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:55 pm
To suggest a concept is inaccurate or not quite certain has no meaning. Either the existents identified actually exist or they do not.
Yet we have no unmediated access to any existents at all. Our own impressions of existents are mediated by our own sensory apparatus, our own "bank" of interpretations, experiences and ideas, and then articulated to others who are depending on their "bank."
I wasn't going to address this at all until I realized I've been making notes about this very subject in another place. It was your words, "our own impressions of existents are mediated by our own sensory apparatus, our own "bank" of interpretations," that reminded me that this is only an assumption on your part, which does not apply to me at all. Perhaps your sensory apparatus is a cause of distortion, mine is the means to accurate perception of reality, and I have no such, "bank of interpretations." Here are some of my notes:
Every philosopher since Plato has perpetuated the idea that human beings cannot perceive reality as it actually is, because of some deficiency in the apparatus of perception or because perception is only something made up by the brain or mind, perhaps from material supplied to by the perceptual neurological system.

Those who claim no certainty is possible are nevertheless certain that what human beings consciously perceive is not what actually exists as it exists, but only some kind inaccurate representation of what exists, at best. But that claim is something that truly cannot be known. It is claim about another human beings conscious experience.

I cannot know what anyone else's conscious experience is. If someone claims that what they perceive is some kind of illusion or that their perception is not of existence as it is, I must accept their testimony. Of course they my be lying, or deceived about their own consciousness, but there is no way for me to know that.

While I must accept the possibility that some people's consciousness is some kind of confusion or illusion that is incapable of perceiving reality as it actually is, those who claim their own inability to perceive reality assume everyone suffers from the same deficiency they do. Since they cannot possibly know how or what anyone else consciously perceives, there is no basis for their assumption that what they cannot do, no one can do. They are not content to make the claim for themselves, they make it for everyone and always express it as, "we," cannot perceive reality as it actually is, and, "we," only believe what we see is really as it appears, even though they cannot possibly know that.
So I'll take your word for it that you do not perceive reality as it actually is if you'll refrain from assuming you know what the nature and accuracy of my perception is. [The truth is I really don't care if you want to make that assumption, or any other about me. I'm not at all offended only a little intellectually bewildered.]

It is rather pointless, however, to keep repeating the idea that perception is deceptive or unreliable as though it were a universal defect, because it doesn't pertain to my perception or the perception of anyone else whose minds have not been warped by philosophy.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:55 pm
...a concept means the actual existents being thought, spoken, or written about.

I'm different from you on that point. I think a "concept" is a "conceptualization of" reality, and is not the actual existents themselves.
I did not say a concept "is" the actual existents, I said it, "means," the actual existents. When one uses a concept in thought or conversation, it is not the concept the thought or conversation is about, but what the concept means, its referents, the thought or conversation is about. If I say, "the concept represented by the word apple is a concept for a kind of fruit," it is the concept, in that rare case, I am talking about, but if I say, "my favorite pie as made with apples," it is the referents of the concept, actual apples, I'm talking about. Pies cannot be made out of concepts.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:55 pm
Well, a concept that had failed to "communicate" something to one's own brain would be unassimilated, ...
"... to one's brain? Do you think the brain is conscious? I know physicalists think that, but I'm surprised if you to. I don't, so 'communicating with the brain' is pure nonsense to me.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:55 pm
Yet, as I suggest above, we do not even have direct access to existents-in-themselves. We have only access to an assimilated form of them, mediated to us by our sensory apparatus.
And as I said, I'm sorry you have this self-avowed deficiency of perception. I do not.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:55 pm
The concept tree does not require one to see a tree (actually or mentally) or to know anything about trees, or have any opinion about trees or for anyone else to have the concept tree. Concepts only exist in individual consciousnesses.
So for you, then "concepts" would be an entirely solipsistic thing? It would be one person, in individual consciousness, who holds the concept, and another person's concept is different?
How you get solipsism out of that I cannot imagine. Solipsism is the radical form of rationalism or idealism that denies any existence outside the mind. Like any percept, or thought, or belief, a concept is a mental existent that only exists in individual human minds, but you know that I have emphasized that a concept is only a concept if it identifies actual existents that exist independently of anyone's mind or consciousness, not something in the mind that represents existents.

If one of our views of concepts is solipsistic it would be the one that that says, "when we say 'I know the existent of concept X exists, what we really mean is, 'I have something in my "bank" that corresponds to X, or have assimilated it so as to give it place in my "bank," and so feel I can relate to the idea.'" I'm assuming you mean by, "in my bank," something, "in your mind." That would be solipsistic. Or, if you say, "An 'apple' does put a specifying ( by which I mean not 'the same' but 'specifying a concrete object,' something one could imaginatively 'see') image in one's mind. But not all concepts do. Some, like 'beautiful' or 'cold,' may or may not be associated with any specifying image...they may instead only invoke a sensation or experience of some kind, or even an abstraction, as when on speaks of the concept 'mind,'" which would mean a concept is about something (image, sensation, abstraction) that goes on in the mind not about an objective existent outside the mind. That would be solipsistic.

Most concepts held by most people are the same concepts held by other individuals. What makes them the same concepts is that the referents of those concepts are the same existents or same kind of existents. The concept represented by the word, "book," is the same concept, no matter how few or many have that concept, or however it is held in each individual mind, because it is not how a concept is mentally conceived that makes them the same, but the actual existents the concepts refer to.

Do you believe there are such things as books? Do you know what books are? If there are books, do you know what makes them books rather than cupcakes or bananas?

Everyone who knows there are books, and what books are and what makes them different from all other existents has the very same concept for the very same existents and knows what it means.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:55 pm
It is obvious to me, our views of what truth is are very different, which of course will mean our understanding of what knowledge is will be very different. Perhaps, next time, we can discuss what we mean by truth.
That would be interesting.
I think it would be too. So:

What I mean by truth is an attribute or quality that pertains only to propositions. What determines whether a proposition is true or not true is reality itself. If a proposition asserts something about any aspect of reality and that aspect is really what is asserted, the proposition is true. If that aspect of reality is not what is asserted the proposition is not true.

Like any attribute or quality, truth has no existence or meaning independent of that which it is the quality of. Just as "red" does not exist independently or red things, and "difficulty" does not exist independently of difficult things, truth does not exist independently of propositions.

That should give us something to chew on. I look forward to your comments.

All my best!

RC