Individualism vs. Collectivism

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Sep 04, 2019 3:42 am

RCSaunders wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:18 am
You have made some very interesting points which I'd like to comment on in another post, but I want to begin with this idea of skepticism about existence.
I'm not actually skeptical of existence itself. I'm merely pointing out that Descartes showed that we can only be absolutely sure of our own, and all other knowledge of existence is probabilistic.

We must not imagine that probabilistic knowledge is bad. It's very good, and very necessary. But to claim it's as certain as a mathematical operation conducted within a closed system of symbols, like 2+2=4 would just be unreasonable.

We need to distinguish between ontology and epistemology. Human knowledge is fallible: existence itself is not. Things exist or do not. But we may have only degrees of knowledge about them.
Skepticism cannot come at the beginning of any intellectual inquiry. Something must be asserted before it can be doubted, but nothing can be asserted without assuming something exists about which the assertion is made.
All this is true. But it is not with skepticism we start. Probability is not skepticism: it's a type of optimism about what may be the case, not pessimism about the possibility of knowledge.
the absurd question, "why is there something instead of nothing?"
Oh, that's one's very far from absurd. In fact, scientifically, we ought to expect there would be nothing. Why are things like the strong and weak force in the atom so precisely balanced as they are? If they were a hair different, all matter in the universe would dissolve or collapse. There is a huge range of possibility in such an arrangement for things to go wrong, and exceedingly little for them to go right. So why did they go right? That's the question.
All Descartes ever showed was that it is possible for the brightest of minds to make the huge mistake of rationalism, believing one can discover truth by reason alone, while ignoring that which is all there is to reason about, existence, (that which exists).
I think you're really being unfair to Descartes here. He was not a skeptic, but someone who used the skeptical method as an heuristic exercise, to eliminate all that was uncertain about knowledge so far. But his purpose was ultimately constructive, not destructive: he genuinely believed he would get back to some certain truths once he had eliminated the uncertainties.

The original title of his book was not just "Meditations," but rather, "Meditations on First Philosophy in which the existence of God and the immortality of the soul are demonstrated." We do well to take note of that, I think.
Science is neither inductive or deductive.
Actually, it begins with induction and continues by deduction. It has a kind of recursive pattern of both.

It works like this: it begins with some empirical observation of a phenomenon, which a particular scientist notices. He hypothesizes a cause or pattern for the phenomenon (induction and abduction). Then he applies the scientific method (testing, recording results, retesting, and so on). Finally, he makes a conclusion. But then that conclusion becomes an axiom from which further deductions can be made. And it can generate new hypotheses...and so on.
I have no idea why you (and most others) are so certain that knowledge of the nature of the physical is only probable.

Because the empirical world often defeats our predictions. We think we know what it will do, but it does not, sometimes.
Do you think the existence of the earth, the solar system, the galaxies, and physical universe, (or you own existence), are only probable.

No: as I said before, they're highly IMprobable.
Do you believe it is only probable that there are microscopic organisms, or that some of those organisms cause diseases, and that some specific organisms that cause specific diseases have been identified. Do you believe the circulatory system of blood, the endocrine system, autonomic nervous system and lymphatic systems are only probable?
Consider that at one time, we thought diseases were caused by bad blood, or witchcraft, or foul air. We now know more. But we do not know it all. Our theories are better, but they are not perfect yet. If they were, we could already cure all diseases, for we would know the mechanisms and causes involved with absolute certainty. But we don't.
If these are only probable, what do you call certain?
Only deduction, if the original axioms are true and the logical form of the deduction is correct. If those criteria are met, then we would have certainty. But we have none at all in the material world.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:14 pm
Material existence is all that exists

Whether you're right or wrong about Materialism, you're evidently wrong about epistemology here. This is because ironically, this claim is a metaphysical a priori.
You can take things out of context and make them mean almost anything you like. I don't think you did that intentionally, but I never said what your truncated quote implies.

What I said was, "Material existence is all that exists and has the nature it has independent of anyone's consciousness or knowledge of that existence.
I'm sorry...I can't see what your requotation changes there. You've still got two coordinated clauses, which means you believe both equally, and none is subordinate to the other. That means that you believe "Material existence is all that exists," and you also believe "[It] has the nature...etc."

If that's right, I quoted you correctly. If it's not, you misspoke on that one.
'Independent of,' means, whether or not anyone is aware of or knows what exists or what its nature is. Another way of saying it is, reality is all that is, the way it is, independent of anyone's knowledge, beliefs, desires, or wishes."
Oh. So you were trying to say, "materiality is all that is independent...etc."?

I wouldn't say that was true either. For example, your "self" is not material, and it's not dependent on my desires, knowledge, wishes...and so on. But maybe that's not what you meant.
My definition of existence intentionally excludes any ontological assumptions.
How can it? "Ontology" is the study of what exists.
I regard the physical to be a subset of material existence,
Normally "Physicalism" and "Materialism" are hardly distinct. There's a nuance of difference, but not much.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:14 pm
It is the physical that is the object of the physical sciences.
Perhaps.
Why would they called them, "physical," sciences if they studied something else?
They don't. They study the "physical" or "material" world. But in so doing, they imply that there is another realm. Otherwise, why would they bother to put the word "physical" there? They would just call their study "science," or "truth," then. The counterpart of the physical sciences is metaphysics of some kind.
I agree that much of what goes by the name science (supposed scientific theories) is based on spurious hypotheses and preconceived premises.
No, no...the point is not the the hypotheses are spurious. The point is that both those that are spurious and those that are not are human constructs. Chimps, dolphins and paramecia do not do science. And the sciences do not pop out of the world like lava out of a volcano either. They are all products of human perceiving, interpreting and imagining. The data they assemble come from the real world, but the assemblage of the data into categories and cause-effect attributions, that's a thoroughly human undertaking.

There is no "science" that is not a human artifact. That doesn't make it bad, spurious or wrong: but that's what it is.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:14 pm
I'm not saying they're not good: I'm saying they are a "method," which means they are an artificial arrangement intended to clarify certain kinds of knowledge by eliminating others from the field of vision. They are not the totality of reality or truth. They are constructs -- useful ones, but still constructs.
I do not quite understand why the idea that a "method" is used to accomplish or achieve something that would in some way, invalidate that accomplishment or achievement.
I don't say it does.

I think that's where you're struggling with what I'm saying. You're thinking I'm denigrating science: but I'm not. I'm rather advising due caution and humility...the epistemic virtues of good science.

Our science is not infallible. And our knowledge is not perfect. But probabilistic knowledge is very, very good, and we should keep it. And science, while not perfect, is very helpful to improving our situation, and we should keep doing it. But good science has as many safeguards as possible built into it to try to reduce our errors...incautious science does not.
Of course science uses methods (not just one, but many).
But one overarching method, which is itself called, "The Scientific Method." The other minor methods are only good if they conform to the main method.
They are not, as is implied when someone calls them, "constructs," just made up,
I did not say or intend you to think that. A "construct" simply means "something human beings created," not "a falsehood," or "just made up."

To illustrate, your car is a human construct: but it is neither false nor "just made up." You really have one. And I hope it's a good one. But the arrangement of the materials that make a car into a care come from human beings. Cars are constructs.

I trust that clears that up.
Are lasers only some kind of construct?
Absolutely. But take out the word "only," because it suggests denigration, and that's wrong.

There are no lasers in nature. Human beings make them. They are constructs.
Bacon's real contribution to science was the observation that to understand something, that thing itself must be examined.
Oh, heck no. That's the least of what he did.

Aristotle had already begun to point out the importance of examining the world. That was a very old idea. What Bacon did was to systematize the method of looking at things, so that it was disciplined by stages and checked against evidence, instead of being merely observed and guessed at. That's why he's called, "The father of the Scientific Method." Otherwise, that honour would probably go to an early Greek, like Aristotle or even Thales of Miletus, who had a similar intuition.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:14 pm
The first and most important aspect of science is the identification of the existents which are existence.
Absolutely. But science cannot solve this problem for itself. It cannot define ontology. All it can do is to take an ontology as presumed, and work from there. Materialism is just such a presumptive ontology, not some sort of self-evident fact.
Why would you call, "identifying existents," a problem?
Because it's not self-evident. For example, bacteria were not, until recently, considered an existens. They were not even thought of, though they did, in fact, exist. It is not the case that it's obvious to us what really exists and what does not. What about something like "the self" or "morality"? Practically everyone thinks they exist, and everybody acts as if they do: but it's not obvious how they do....at least, not to everyone.
2+2=4

The argument that, "ice is a solid," is true in a way that, "ice floats on water," is not, because the first proposition is, "analytic," and the second is, "synthetic," (al la Kant), or to use your example, "2+2=4" is true in a way that, "2 qts. of water mixed with 2 qts. of ethyl alcohol yeilds 3.86 qts. of liquid," is not, is flat-out epistemological mistakes (or more likely an intentional obfuscation of the truth).
That wasn't my example.

I wrote, "everything about "nature" and "material existence" is capable of doubt, in a way that 2+2=4 is not." What that means is that phenomena often deceive us. We think, for example, that ice will form at O Celsius. But it doesn't, if you are not at sea level. So multiple tests at different altitudes will defeat that hypothesis and require us to revise it.

Let's take another example: rolling a ball down a slope. You could do a hundred tests of that, and have every one show the ball rolling downhill. So you conclude: "rolling balls go downhill." But wait...you only performed 100 tests. What about the 101st? What about the 102nd? You didn't do them. What about all the other tests you could do? You haven't done the complete set of tests, so how do you know so confidently that balls with always do that?

You don't. You're taking a reasonable guess. You figure that 100 trials is enough. Why 100? You don't know. Could you be wrong, still? Sure. But you don't think you are. Probably.

Human knowledge of the material world is fallible like that. It's probabilistic, because no person has ever done the complete set of possible tests for even one hypothesis. And yet we still venture conclusions...

That's not absolute certainty. It's only reasonable certainty, within defined parameters. It's probability.
The example of 2+2=4 is worse. "2+2=4," is not a proposition about entities, but about concepts.

That's why it's analytical and deductive...and certain once the basic axioms are granted. But science is not like that.
"2+2=4," is NOT TRUE, because it doesn't state anything about anything.
You're making an unusual and highly stipulative use of the word "true." Most people do not use the word that way. They routinely say "2+2=4 is true." And they're not wrong. "True" mathematically is not the same as "true" empirically. "True" is an adjective that applies to different nouns.
It only describes how a method works by the example: if you have two items, then you have two more of those items, if you count them all there will be four of those items, but that presumes there are items and that they are the same kind of items.
That's one of the "basic axioms" of which I spoke, which must be in place before your mathematical calculations are deductive and correct. I didn't bother to explain them, because most people don't even know the issue. But I see you do. Consider it addressed earlier, by the "basic axioms" clause.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Sep 01, 2019 2:14 pm
If you mean an event or phenomena that is unobserved by anyone is not evidence, it is true, because a thing can only be evidence to an observer. Seeing something is not processing or interpreting it, it is simply being conscious of it. Until there is evidence one perceives there is nothing to process or interpret.
It's not just perception. One can perceive something, but not perceive it to be evidence for another thing.
This is a very old obfuscation. The word, "perception," has two very different meanings. Some use that difference to cover up disingenuous arguments. You have done this, but I know it was not intentional.
No, no...I have not. Again you've used your own stipulative definition, and treated it as absolute. "Perceived means both "saw," and "categorized as." That's why dictionaries have multiple definitions of one word like that.

Phenomena are not evidence until they are categorized (or "perceived") as evidence. For example, the blood on a shoe isn't "evidence" for a murder if a murder has not been committed, or if the person noted to have blood on his shoe was in Dallas when the murder took place in Cleveland.
Enough

Sorry this was so long IC. There was much to consider and I'll be interested in your comments.
Yes, I'm sorry...but much of what you said was premised on misreadings of what I had intended. Maybe I needed to be clearer. I hope I've been able to clear some of it up.
We may not agree on some things, which is what makes our conversation interesting.
Yes, you bet.

Skepdick
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Skepdick » Wed Sep 04, 2019 7:57 am

RCSaunders wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:28 am
Well they are mutually exclusive, but it is impossible for those who have surrendered their minds to a slave mentality to understand that individuals work together all the time for common or complementary objectives without one of them being the boss (master).
Aaaaand there it is - the mental gymnastics. The pejoratives, the emotionally charged language of "slavery", bosses and masters.

In the grand scheme of things the mother of the children gets to decide who babysits her kids. She calls the shots. She was the employer - you were the employee.

That is a hierarchical structure and this sentence is literally at the top of the page:
"Subordinate" redirects here. For other uses, see Subordination.

Not only are cooperation and subordination NOT mutually exclusive, they are tightly coupled. Through cooperation subordinate hierarchy emerges.

So I guess you need a new narrative, you silly cooperative, subordinate collectivist.

Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A » Wed Sep 04, 2019 10:22 pm

RC
A concept consists of two components a "perceivable existent," and a "specification." The, "perceivable existent," is a symbol, usually a spoken or written word. The "specification" is a definition which specifies or indicates the existent or existents the concept identifies.

The word (or other perceivable symbol) for a concept is not the concept. The word is our means of being conscious of the concept. The concept is the identification of an existent. The definition of a concept indicates what existent or existents a concept identifies.
I know most will not appreciate the distinction between a concept and an idea but I will post it for those sensitive to the distinction. It does explain why people reading the Bible to learn of concepts cannot experience the the intended meanings within the ideas. It also explains why collectivism caters to concepts while ideas which touch the heart and are "felt" influence individuals.

From a Jacob Needleman interview:


http://www.williamjames.com/transcripts/needle.htm

....................MISHLOVE: When we deal with the realm of the intellect, with the realm of concepts, you've introduced a very interesting distinction I'd like to bring up, and that is the difference between a concept and an idea.

NEEDLEMAN: That's a tough one. It took me a lot in my book to explain it.

MISHLOVE: It meant a lot to me when I read it.

NEEDLEMAN: It's hard to put it in a quick description. A concept is a kind of mental tool for organizing data and facts. It's like an aspect of a computer, or a filing system, and very useful. But it's part of a rather automatic part of the mind which the human being has, which is very useful. An idea is like an expression of a fundamental reality -- a force, in a way. Sometimes it takes its expression in words, an abstract formula; sometimes it's in images; sometimes it's in geometric forms, in art forms. So the verbal expression of ideas is only one way of communicating, of speaking about something that goes beyond just the isolated intellect to understand. It's very hard to put this quickly in any other way. But ideas come from a deeper level of the human mind. Concepts are the ordinary mind functioning as it should to organize, cut, dry, put in file cabinets, and do all that.

MISHLOVE: In other words, normally when we think of the work of the intellect we're thinking about concepts that it deals with. Ideas are something that the intellect is also engaged in, but ideas penetrate deeper; they have a greater transformative power.

NEEDLEMAN: Absolutely. They're meant to be accepted by the intellect, but they need to penetrate down into the heart and the guts, and that's what concepts don't do particularly.

MISHLOVE: And ideas, I suppose, are not measurable in the way that concepts are. They can't be manipulated the way that concepts are manipulated.

NEEDLEMAN: No. If they are, they get twisted.

MISHLOVE: A great idea might be the one that's been left to us by Socrates: "Man, know thyself."

NEEDLEMAN: That's a great idea. Many of those kinds of things. The idea of God is an idea, and it points to something that may or may not exist. I think it does, that it's real, but it's an idea. It didn't just appear automatically like a rock or a stone. Somebody had this vision of the idea of God, or the idea of the universe -- oneness, many in one. Or in ancient Chinese, the idea of the yin and the yang -- the two, the constant interplay of two forces in the universe. This is an idea. Now the head can figure out the conceptual way of doing it, but it can never really understand it, because with ideas, to understand it you have to experience it. That means you have to be immersed in it with your whole being. So it's a very big difference, ideas. And you're right -- there's been a tremendous confusion between ideas and concepts, and therefore the conceptual mind has tried to do all by itself what only the mind of the whole person is able to do, and that's been a problem with our whole society, I think.........................

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frosteagle
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by frosteagle » Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:23 am

The closest linear approximation of a cultural definition of individualism on dictionary.com (Dictionary.com):
"The pursuit of individual rather than common or collective interests"

The closest linear approximation of collectivism (Brittanica):
"Any of several types of social organization in which the individual is seen as being subordinate to a social collectivity such as a state, a nation, a race, or a social class."

The pursuit of the individual leads to the pursuit of collective interests, and the pursuit of the collective leads to that of the individual interests because both of them affect one another. The real issue lies instead its implementation, which is why it is highly situational.

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RCSaunders
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:36 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 3:42 am
Human knowledge is fallible: existence itself is not. Things exist or do not. But we may have only degrees of knowledge about them.
I'm not quite sure what it would mean to say existence is not fallible, but since you go on to say things exist (a thing cannot not exist), I assume you mean existence is certain but our knowledge of it is not. The fact that human beings are not omniscient (do not know everything there is to know) or infallible (incapable of making mistakes) does not mean human beings do not have certain knowledge. It is not necessary to know everything to know something and it is not necessary to never make a mistake to have knowledge that is not mistaken.

Rather than comment on your other points I'm going to briefly address two points that are the basis for most of our disagreements.

The first is the nature of knowledge. I have no idea what you mean by knowledge but it certainly does not seem to mean the same as I mean by knowledge. Perhaps you could explain that or point to something that explains what your epistemological views are. I've already provided mine

Ontology Introduction, Epistemology, Concepts, and Epistemology, Propositions.

I don't think we can make any progress in our discussion if we do not at least know what each of us means by knowledge.

The second is what we mean by reality or existence. I know your view is different from mine. Perhaps if I tell you what my view is, you can explain your view relative to that, else simply explain what you mean by reality and existence.

By reality I mean all that is the way it is. By that I do not mean any particular ontological view.

My actual ontological view is that existence is all that exists and has the nature it has independently of anyone's awareness or knowledge of that existence or its nature. "Independently of," does not mean separate from anyone's awareness of knowledge of existence but whether or not anyone is aware of or has knowledge of that existence. I call that independent existence "material existence."

Material existence includes all physical existence, by which I mean those aspects of existence we are directly conscious of (perceive), that is, which we see, hear, feel, smell, and taste, and experience internally as introception. The physical existence we directly perceive is that which the physical sciences study.

Everything that exists materially has physical properties and are called entities. In addition to all physical properties, there three other kinds of properties, life, consciousness, and intellectual consciousness (mind). Life, consciousness, and mind are not physical properties and cannot be explained in terms of physical properties. Life, consciousness, and mind are perfectly natural qualities, like the physical qualities but are only qualities of a very small number of physical existents.

Every physical existent is an entity and can be described in terms of its physical properties. Some enitities have the additional property of life and are call organisms. Some organisms have the additional property of consciousness, and some conscious organisms have the additional property of intellect or mind and are called human beings. Life, consciousness, and minds do not exist independently of the entities they are the life, consciousness, or minds of. These four kinds of existents, merely physical, organisms, conscious orgnisms, and human beings are all of material existence.

Material existence is ontological existence but the ontological is not all that exists. Everything else that exists is epistemological (or psychological) and only exists as the product of human minds and includes all knowledge, language, logic, mathematics, the sciences, history, art, religion, and fiction. None of these exist at all independently of human minds.

Physical existence itself is also divided by the source of the entities that are physical existence: "natural," or, "man made." Natural existence is all that exists independently of any human minds or actions, such as the planets, solar system, all rivers, and lakes (except those created by human engineering), mountains, rocks, sand, the oceans, and air. Most of the things in this world which our lives depend on are man-made: all buildings, machines, prepared food, markets, medicine, lights, cars, trucks, roads, parks, gardens, planes, railroads, boats and ships, weapons, entertainment, decorations, recordings, books, television, clothing, furniture, dishes, utensils, musical instruments, and electronic devices: in short, all the things we used and enjoy almost every moment of every day.

I suspect that the main difference in our views is, in my view, material existence is not contingent on anything, could never be anything other than what it is, and is therefore the ultimate existense in terms of which all existence can be understood, but in your view existence which we directly perceive, life, consciousness and human minds are contingent on something else and therefore could be something other than what they are. Is that a fair analysis do you think?

I'm very interested in how you'll answer my two questions, IC, what is knowledge? and what is reality (or ultimate existence)?

My best,

RC

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am

RCSaunders wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:36 am
I'm not quite sure what it would mean to say existence is not fallible, but since you go on to say things exist (a thing cannot not exist), I assume you mean existence is certain but our knowledge of it is not.
That is correct. That is what I meant.
The fact that human beings are not omniscient (do not know everything there is to know) or infallible (incapable of making mistakes) does not mean human beings do not have certain knowledge. It is not necessary to know everything to know something and it is not necessary to never make a mistake to have knowledge that is not mistaken.
But "not mistaken" and "certain" are two different issues.

I may correctly anticipate the winner of the next football championship. Eventually, we may find that I was not mistaken about their identity. But that won't mean that my knowledge was certain. Likewise, I trust I am not mistaken that your identity is that of an older, married male. But given the twists and turns of internet users, there remains a possibility you're actually a youngish female single from Boston. I cannot be certain my impression of you is correct, or the information you have shared is true; even though I trust it's not mistaken.

The point is this: there is no certain knowledge about empirical matters. There is probable knowledge, and more probable knowledge and less probable knowledge...any of which may turn out to be mistaken or not.
The first is the nature of knowledge. I have no idea what you mean by knowledge but it certainly does not seem to mean the same as I mean by knowledge. Perhaps you could explain that or point to something that explains what your epistemological views are. I've already provided mine
Well, I think they're summarized pretty well above, and I have been trying to make them clear previously. I don't believe in certain knowledge, except in deductive matters, if the premises are true and the argument is in correct form. That pretty much means that only closed systems of symbols give us truly certain knowledge. Everything else is from the physical world, and is empirical. All empirical knowing is probabilistic, not absolute. It's still very good to have high-probability knowledge, but that is not absolute certainty.

In other words (and here is an interesting claim) all knowing involves faith. Not blind faith. Not faith-contrary-to-fact. But the personal investment of the knower in believing something that is somewhat less than ironclad certain to him. All knowing is an investment, a calculated estimate, a risk...and in that sense, requires a step of faith.
The second is what we mean by reality or existence. I know your view is different from mine. Perhaps if I tell you what my view is, you can explain your view relative to that, else simply explain what you mean by reality and existence.

By reality I mean all that is the way it is. By that I do not mean any particular ontological view.
Essentially, that's what I mean too. That which exists in the physical world exists independent of the wishes, preferences, expectations and desires of human beings. it is what it is, regardless of what we would like it to be.

But concepts are different, of course. Concepts are "real" in a slightly different way. They are interpretations of the meaning and relations of the physical world. That's the difference I was pointing to between facts (physical reality) and evidence (a human construct). Both words may rightly be applied to the same set of phenomena: for one person, a layman perhaps, they're just "facts," but for the detective, they may be "evidence."
My actual ontological view is that existence is all that exists and has the nature it has independently of anyone's awareness or knowledge of that existence or its nature. "Independently of," does not mean separate from anyone's awareness of knowledge of existence but whether or not anyone is aware of or has knowledge of that existence. I call that independent existence "material existence."
So far, so good.
Material existence includes all physical existence, by which I mean those aspects of existence we are directly conscious of (perceive), that is, which we see, hear, feel, smell, and taste, and experience internally as introception. The physical existence we directly perceive is that which the physical sciences study.
I agree with all but the last one. It seems to me that "introception" requires the interpretive act of a particular person. The stimulus from the purely physical realm may be the same, but the interpretation of the stimuli and the ensuing response will vary, depending on the person.

But if you think about it, even "seeing" requires an interpretive act of a person. That is to say, a machine can take in light, but it does not interpret light patterns as objects, nor does it assign meaning to the things it takes in. For something to see, it has not only to take in a light-impression of something, but must register that light pattern AS something, interpret its importance, assign a response, and duck before the frying pan hits the head. "Seeing," then, is not merely a physical phenomenon, but a cognitive, interpretive and kinaesthetic action of a particular person.
Everything that exists materially has physical properties and are called entities. In addition to all physical properties, there three other kinds of properties, life, consciousness, and intellectual consciousness (mind). Life, consciousness, and mind are not physical properties and cannot be explained in terms of physical properties. Life, consciousness, and mind are perfectly natural qualities, like the physical qualities but are only qualities of a very small number of physical existents.
So far, so good.
Every physical existent is an entity and can be described in terms of its physical properties.
Not comprehensively.

Salvador Dali famously called women, "Skin bags full of blood." His description is technically correct, if physical properties are all that can be said about women...but one cannot help but feel that Dali did not really believe that was the whole story; or if he did, that he certainly was not getting the full experience of a woman. :wink:
Material existence is ontological existence but the ontological is not all that exists.
I would have worded it another way. I would have said that materiality is a subcategory of what ontologically exists. As you point out, there are mental phenomena that are no less real than the physical ones, so "material existence" isn't a comprehensive synonym for "the real."
Everything else that exists is epistemological (or psychological) and only exists as the product of human minds and includes all knowledge, language, logic, mathematics, the sciences, history, art, religion, and fiction. None of these exist at all independently of human minds.
Sure, okay.
Physical existence itself is also divided by the source of the entities that are physical existence: "natural," or, "man made." Natural existence is all that exists independently of any human minds or actions, such as the planets, solar system, all rivers, and lakes (except those created by human engineering), mountains, rocks, sand, the oceans, and air. Most of the things in this world which our lives depend on are man-made: all buildings, machines, prepared food, markets, medicine, lights, cars, trucks, roads, parks, gardens, planes, railroads, boats and ships, weapons, entertainment, decorations, recordings, books, television, clothing, furniture, dishes, utensils, musical instruments, and electronic devices: in short, all the things we used and enjoy almost every moment of every day.
Okay.
I suspect that the main difference in our views is, in my view, material existence is not contingent on anything, could never be anything other than what it is, and is therefore the ultimate existense in terms of which all existence can be understood,
Actually, material existence IS contingent, by definition. The universe had an origin. The items in it are unstable...they break apart, die, dissolve, and so on. The energy in the universe is entropic, and proceeds slowly to decline to a point called "heat death," which, if nothing intervenes, will be the universal destiny in the future. So the universe is not a "necessary" entity. It did not have to exist, once did not exist, and perhaps in future will no longer exist. It could have been other than it is, and it's very little trouble to imagine many other ways it could have been.

That's pretty contingent.
I'm very interested in how you'll answer my two questions, IC, what is knowledge? and what is reality (or ultimate existence)?
Shortly, then: perfect knowledge is something only God has. Everything in the physical universe is contingent. And human knowledge of this contingent and changeable universe is only ever partial and incomplete. However, the remarkable fact is that we live in a universe governed by laws, so we're able to make rational probability calculations with a high degree of success...and that's why science is possible.

Interesting supplementary thoughts, RC. I trust your curry was satisfying.

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:22 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
The point is this: there is no certain knowledge about empirical matters. There is probable knowledge, and more probable knowledge and less probable knowledge...any of which may turn out to be mistaken or not.
I'm fully convinced you do not think certain knowledge is possible, and I'm not trying to change your mind about that, but I seriously do not understand the view.

I asked you in another post about particular things I regard as known certainly, including the existence of the earth, the solar system, the galaxies, and physical universe, (or you own existence). Do you believe it is only probable that there are microscopic organisms, or that some of those organisms cause diseases, and that some specific organisms that cause specific diseases have been identified? Do you believe the circulatory system of blood, the endocrine system, autonomic nervous system and lymphatic systems are only probable?

Is the possibility of human heavier-than-air flight, wireless communication, electronic transmission of pictures, electric motors, geo-stationary satellites, antibiotics, and digital electronics only probable? Are the identification of the chemical elements and their properties only statistically probable? Do you really think sulfur can sometimes be bismuth? (As a powder they are similar in color.)

But then it is not certainty you deny because you are certain, "there is no certain knowledge about empirical matters." I know it will not be obvious to you, but to me it sounds like all those who argue you cannot really know anything, except they "know" you can't, which contradicts their own argument.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
The first is the nature of knowledge. I have no idea what you mean by knowledge but it certainly does not seem to mean the same as I mean by knowledge. Perhaps you could explain that or point to something that explains what your epistemological views are. I've already provided mine
Well, I think they're summarized pretty well above, ...
Perhaps, but what you have described seems to identify what is not known or cannot be known. You do not explain what you mean by a concept, for example, and all knowledge is held by means of concepts. Technically, concepts are not knowledge, because all knowledge is propositional. If you do not understand that or why it is true, please ask.

I suspect from the way you use the word, "concepts," you do not know what they are. For example, "Concepts are ... interpretations of the meaning and relations of the physical world." Concepts do not interpret anything. The only function of a concept is to identify existents (particulars) or categories of existents (universals). They are not explanations, interpretations, or descriptions, which all require propositions which are about the existents concepts identify.

Most people, including most philosophers, confuse the epistemological meaning of, concept, with the more general term idea, which includes both propositions and concepts. If you study epistemology as it is slaughtered by philosophers, with exception of Abelard and Locke (and inconsistently, Aristotle) you will find no other philosopher who agrees with my views. You don't have to agree with them either, but as long as you use words to mean what I regard as huge philosophical mistakes, we'll get nowhere.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
I agree with all but the last one. It seems to me that "introception" requires the interpretive act of a particular person. The stimulus from the purely physical realm may be the same, but the interpretation of the stimuli and the ensuing response will vary, depending on the person.

But if you think about it, even "seeing" requires an interpretive act of a person.
You have confused thinking with perception. Interoception, which is only an aspect of feeling, is no different from any of the other percepts. Perception is only our direct consciousness, our seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting. One has no choice about what they will perceive because whatever impinges on the sensory nervous system will be perceived. What there is to see or hear or feel is what one will perceive. One can shut there eyes, or cover their ears, or look in another direction, but they have no choice about what will be perceived if it is there to perceive.

How one will interpret, analyze, or choose to respond to what is perceived is intellectual, not perception. If there is a physiological problem with one's stomach, they may feel discomfort or pain, which is the interoception. How they choose to react to that perception (ignore it, cry, take medicine) is not perception, it is an intellectual choice.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
That is to say, a machine can take in light, but it does not interpret light patterns as objects, nor does it assign meaning to the things it takes in. For something to see, it has not only to take in a light-impression of something, but must register that light pattern AS something, interpret its importance, assign a response, and duck before the frying pan hits the head. "Seeing," then, is not merely a physical phenomenon, but a cognitive, interpretive and kinaesthetic action of a particular person.
First of all, a living organism is not a machine, consiousness is not a physical attribute. Seeing is not, "taking in light," or interpretation, and certainly is not assigning meaning to anything. My cat sees and does not need to interpret anything or assign meaning to anything to do that seeing. My cat sees in exactly the same you and I do, by being directly conscious of what there is to see by means of the attributes of what is seen that determine how it will reflect, absorb, transmit, or produce light. A thing is whatever its attributes are, and one of the attributes of things that can be seen is how light relates to it, and it is that light, as an attribute of an entity, perceived exactly as it is that is seeing that entity.

Our evaluation or analysis of what is seen requires us to first be conscious of things, to intellectually identify what is seen, and choose to react or not react to what is seen. These are all things that follow seeing and would be impossible if we were not directly conscious of those things to begin with.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
As you point out, there are mental phenomena that are no less real than the physical ones, so "material existence" isn't a comprehensive synonym for "the real."
Yes, I agree. I regard "real" as a broader term that includes both the material and epistemological. The way I stated it earlier is misleading.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
Actually, material existence IS contingent, by definition.
Nothing is true by definition. The only function of a definition is to indicate what a concept identifies. Definitions are man-made, and may be correct, incorrect, clear, or ambiguous, but since just anything can be "defined," as anyone chooses, just anything can be claimed to be true by definition,
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
The universe had an origin.
You mean it is statistically probable the universe had an origin. Then there is a possibility that it didn't. Since there is no way to actually observe such an origin, except in the minds of cosmologists, and the existence of the universe is observable, I'll go with what is, rather than something someone else thinks might have been.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
The items in it are unstable...they break apart, die, dissolve, and so on.
It is certainly a dynamic existence. If it weren't, nothing would happen. There would be nothing, no movement, no energy, no life, and no knowledge. You can call that, "unstable," as if stability (read stagnation) would be better. Thankfully, everything changes.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
The energy in the universe is entropic, and proceeds slowly to decline to a point called "heat death," which, if nothing intervenes, will be the universal destiny in the future.
The second law of thermodynamics pertains only to closed systems. The universe is not a closed system. The so-called "heat death" of the universe assumes a finite universe with no as-yet discovered sources of energy. And of course it's all only probable anyway.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
So the universe is not a "necessary" entity. It did not have to exist, once did not exist, and perhaps in future will no longer exist. It could have been other than it is, and it's very little trouble to imagine many other ways it could have been.
Whatever is cannot be anything other than what it is. "A" cannot be "non-A."
Since the universe is and is the kind of universe it is it could never have been true that it was going to be anything else, because if it were going to be something else, it would be. It's not something else, so it was always going to be what it is.

You said the universe, "did not have to exist, once did not exist." How could you possibly know that? What statistical analysis did you use to come to that conclusion and what is the statistical probability it is so?

The fact that one can imagine something (or not imagine something) is not a basis for believing anything. There is almost no bizarre or fantastic thing that someone has not imagined. Evolutionists are certain everything evolved because they cannot imagine any other way for life and its varieties to exist. Both are bad methods of reasoning.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
Shortly, then: perfect knowledge is something only God has. Everything in the physical universe is contingent. And human knowledge of this contingent and changeable universe is only ever partial and incomplete. However, the remarkable fact is that we live in a universe governed by laws, so we're able to make rational probability calculations with a high degree of success...and that's why science is possible.
There is a lot more to knowledge than scientific knowledge. Human beings cannot live without knowledge and must have a great deal of knowledge before they can even begin the scientific investigation of physical existence.

I do not know what the phrase, "perfect knowledge," means. I presume it is supposed to mean some kind of knowledge that does not have to be learned. Since the only knowledge I am aware of is the kind that is learned, whatever something is that is unlearned has no meaning to me. It is a floating abstraction without definition.

If there were such a thing as, "perfect knowledge," I would certainly not want it. If I had perfect knowledge there would be nothing new to learn or to experience. The great adventure of life is facing and exploring the unknown future, discovering what exists and learning how to use and enjoy it.

Anyway, my wife said the curry was one of the best I've made, but she always says that. It was chicken curry, very hot and spicy and thick, almost like a rendang with roasted coconut and all fresh spices.

Do you cook?

My best, RC

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:16 am

Skepdick wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 7:57 am
So I guess you need a new narrative, you silly cooperative, subordinate collectivist.
Yes suh! Whatever you say, massah.

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri Sep 06, 2019 3:33 pm

RCSaunders wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:22 pm
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
The point is this: there is no certain knowledge about empirical matters. There is probable knowledge, and more probable knowledge and less probable knowledge...any of which may turn out to be mistaken or not.
I'm fully convinced you do not think certain knowledge is possible, and I'm not trying to change your mind about that, but I seriously do not understand the view.
I think it would help to consider Descartes argument in his "Meditations." He shows there how it is possible, in extremis, to doubt everything down to your own existence as some kind of disembodied monad floating in a vacuum...a sort of unknown "self." And as long as a possibility of doubt remains, no matter how remote that doubt is, one does not have certain knowledge. One only has very-high-probability knowledge.
But then it is not certainty you deny because you are certain, "there is no certain knowledge about empirical matters." I know it will not be obvious to you, but to me it sounds like all those who argue you cannot really know anything, except they "know" you can't, which contradicts their own argument.
I did not say "I know (empirically) that I don't know." I also did not say it applied to analytic or to deductive matters, but strictly to empirical ones.

That is, I claim only that there are reasonable ways to doubt practically everything down to the bare "self," the "cogito" of "cogito ergo sum." And so long as a basis of doubt remains, you can say for analytic reasons, not merely empirical ones, "I am not certain..."

So there's no contradiction in that.
Perhaps, but what you have described seems to identify what is not known or cannot be known.

..."by empiricism." We should add those words.
You do not explain what you mean by a concept, for example, and all knowledge is held by means of concepts. Technically, concepts are not knowledge, because all knowledge is propositional. If you do not understand that or why it is true, please ask.
"A bachelor is a single male" is a piece of knowledge. But it's not empirical -- one doesn't know it by means of examining males to see if they are all bachelors and single: one knows it because the term "bachelor" is analytically a descriptor of a single male. The definition only depends on there being a concept of a single male.

But "a bachelor is a single male" is a piece of propositional, true and certain knowledge, by definition. That's because it's analytic, not empirical, though propositional.
I suspect from the way you use the word, "concepts," you do not know what they are. For example, "Concepts are ... interpretations of the meaning and relations of the physical world." Concepts do not interpret anything.

I didn't mean to imply they do. What I intended to convey is that people issue their interpretations by means of conceptualizing them. Concepts are expressions of human interpretations of sensory data and phenomena. As such, they are human constructs.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
I agree with all but the last one. It seems to me that "introception" requires the interpretive act of a particular person. The stimulus from the purely physical realm may be the same, but the interpretation of the stimuli and the ensuing response will vary, depending on the person.

But if you think about it, even "seeing" requires an interpretive act of a person.
You have confused thinking with perception.
Not at all. Even converting a light-impulse on the rods and cones in the eyeball is a cognitive action. Perception requires a thinking percipient. That's why light-sensors do not actually "see." Bar-code scanners don't "read" bar codes. There's no cognitive action or autonomy in a bar-code scanner. Every one of them will transfer data from a bar code according only to the algorithm in the computer. Nothing there performs the act of actually "seeing." All it does is "register by algorithm." Seeing requires a living interpreter.

Do you see? :wink:
Seeing is not, "taking in light,"
That's my point.
or interpretation,
That's incorrect. If the "taking in light" entity can "interpret," then it can "see," in some rudimentary sense. But if it cannot engage in cognition, then to say it "sees" is incorrect. It's at most, an anthropomorphizing metaphor, and not a precise description.
My cat sees and does not need to interpret
Oh, heck...I have two cats, and they interpret all the time. Their "interpretations" are more rudimentary than mine, of course; but they certainly do interpret. For example, a movement under the carpet is interpreted as "mouse" or "prey," or "game." There's nothing inherent to under-carpet movement that corresponds to any of those concepts, but the cat can make his own use of the data.

But if you mean, do cats indulge in existential speculation...then perhaps not. Although, this fellow thinks they do. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q34z5dCmC4M
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
The universe had an origin.
You mean it is statistically probable the universe had an origin. Then there is a possibility that it didn't. Since there is no way to actually observe such an origin, except in the minds of cosmologists, and the existence of the universe is observable, I'll go with what is, rather than something someone else thinks might have been.

Yes, of course I mean only that all empirical data point to a universe with an origin point, and that all attempts to construct a recursive model of the universe are merely mathematical and speculative, like the Multiverse Hypothesis. But if new data, hitherto unknown, and a better mathematical explanation ever emerge, then we would have to rethink our cosmology.

In other words, I'm speaking probabilistically, but with such astronomical odds in my favour that I'm feeling quite secure in that estimation.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
The items in it are unstable...they break apart, die, dissolve, and so on.
It is certainly a dynamic existence. If it weren't, nothing would happen. There would be nothing, no movement, no energy, no life, and no knowledge. You can call that, "unstable," as if stability (read stagnation) would be better. Thankfully, everything changes.
The problem is not "change," but entropy. The universe is not simply "running differently," far less "running better" in terms of cohesion, but running down...heading towards heat death, not regeneration. So "stagnation" isn't the thing to be concerned about: dissolution is.
The second law of thermodynamics pertains only to closed systems. The universe is not a closed system.
It depends what one means by "universe." The analytic interpretation is "all that exists" (in the conventional sense). So that is a closed system, in that if something else "exists" in the conventional sense, it's already part of what we mean by "universe."
And of course it's all only probable anyway.
I think this is a key point of difference for us. You seem to interpret the word "probable" as merely "unlikely," or "unreliable," or "uninformative." You seem always to see something negative and denigrating in using it, rather than "certainty."

I do not use the word that way. I regard probability as a very good and informative thing. And I consider, in my use of the word, that there are very strong degrees of probability, some that very nearly verge on certainty. But I'm happy to recognize that perfect certainty is not possible in empirical matters, and that prospect seems to unsettle you in a way I do not yet understand.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:43 am
So the universe is not a "necessary" entity. It did not have to exist, once did not exist, and perhaps in future will no longer exist. It could have been other than it is, and it's very little trouble to imagine many other ways it could have been.
Whatever is cannot be anything other than what it is. "A" cannot be "non-A."
No. I simply mean it's very easy to imagine that the universe were the same as it is now, except that the pencil on your desk was one millimetre to to the left of where it now rests. That's not a hard feat of imagining, is it?

But if so, the pencil didn't need to be where it is. It could have been one millimetre to the left. So its position is a contingent matter, and would not affect the coherence of the universe itself.
You said the universe, "did not have to exist, once did not exist." How could you possibly know that? What statistical analysis did you use to come to that conclusion and what is the statistical probability it is so?
I'm basing it on the axiom that things that have an origin have a cause. Things don't just "begin to exist" for no reason: if they did, rabbits would pop out of hats all the time...except there would be no hat. Items would just leap into existence from nowhere, and for no cause or reason.

Empirically and logically, the universe must have had an origin. Therefore, I conclude it also had a cause.
Evolutionists are certain everything evolved because they cannot imagine any other way for life and its varieties to exist. Both are bad methods of reasoning.
I don't think Evolutionism would be a bad thing to conclude, if Evolutionism were like the "the universe had an origin" hypothesis: namely, that every bit of available data, plus logic, instructed us to believe in Evolutionism, and no alternative hypothesis was even remotely rational at the moment. Then it would be the right thing to believe. It would have all the probabilities in its favour.
There is a lot more to knowledge than scientific knowledge. Human beings cannot live without knowledge and must have a great deal of knowledge before they can even begin the scientific investigation of physical existence.
That is true. Scientific knowledge really only takes its modern form with Bacon. We still got on with the business of "knowing" things long before the Scientific Method was available to discipline empirical observation.
I do not know what the phrase, "perfect knowledge," means. I presume it is supposed to mean some kind of knowledge that does not have to be learned.
No. I only mean certain knowledge.

Again, that's not available in empirical matters, but only in deductive ones (if the basic axioms are already granted sound), and in mathematical ones (because it is also a closed symbol system with its basic axioms granted).
If there were such a thing as, "perfect knowledge," I would certainly not want it.
Then why would you insist on "certain" knowledge? Why not just recognize that it is not humanly available in empirical matters? What's concerning you about that?
Anyway, my wife said the curry was one of the best I've made, but she always says that. It was chicken curry, very hot and spicy and thick, almost like a rendang with roasted coconut and all fresh spices.

Do you cook?
Some, but few things well. Good Indian cooking is well beyond my skill level, as it is very, very refined indeed. I love to eat it, but am totally intimidated by the procedures required for it. But I know it when I taste it.

My acid test for a new restaurant is always the basmati. A restaurant that does the basmati right is probably taking care of things in the kitchen. And I know of some of the rituals of washing and piling that are required to get it light, loose and fragrant. It's a labour-intensive activity, one that really takes practice to perfect.

What culinary skills I possess mostly pertain to the barbeque. Open-air cooking is the best thing ever. But I find I can create quite a few things there that please the palate of all. Summer evenings with a bottle of something Italian or French, plus some sizzling meat and veggies, is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
My best, RC
...and bon appétit to you, too. :wink:

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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by RCSaunders » Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:09 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 3:33 pm
"A bachelor is a single male" is a piece of knowledge. But it's not empirical -- one doesn't know it by means of examining males to see if they are all bachelors and single: one knows it because the term "bachelor" is analytically a descriptor of a single male. The definition only depends on there being a concept of a single male.

But "a bachelor is a single male" is a piece of propositional, true and certain knowledge, by definition. That's because it's analytic, not empirical, though propositional.
I regard your view of epistemology a very bad mistake, nevertheless one accepted by most philosophers. My criticism is not of you, but of the epistemology that is mistaken.

That mistake is the belief that a concept means its definition. I've tried to explain why that cannot be true. A concept does not mean its definition, a concept means whatever actual existent or category of existents it identifies. The word apple is the symbol for the concept that identifies actual apples. Apple does not mean the description (definition): "A cultivated deciduous tree (Malus domestica or M. pumila) in the rose family, native to Eurasia and having alternate simple leaves and white or pink flowers, or the firm, edible, usually rounded fruit of this tree," it means the actual existents described by that definition. When a boy asks for an apple, he means an actual apple, not its definition. The only purpose of a definition is to indicate what actual existent or existents a concept identifies and to differentiate them from all other existents.

"A bachelor is a single male," is a proposition, but it is not knowledge unless it is true, that the actual existents identified by the concept are what the definition describes. That cannot be known unless the concepts, "single," and, "male," are known. ("Single male" is two concepts.) If a, "male," were a "turnip," and, "single," meant, "red," according to you and Kant, the proposition, "a bachelor is a red turnip," would be true knowledge, by definition. Obviously it is not true. If Kant were right that all one had to know for a proposition to be true is a definition, "a bachelor is a red turnip," ought to be true. So, what is the problem?

The problem is bad epistemology. A concept identifies actual existents, whether material or epistemological, and means those existents as they actually are, with all their attributes and characteristics, known or unkown. A bachelor identifies a male human being who has never been married (yet) else he could be a widower or divorced, thus unmarried but not a bachelor. No proposition can be true by definition. It can only be true if all the concepts of the definition are true and the existent(s) identified by the concept really are what the definition describes.

What the proposition, "A bachelor is a never-married human male," says is, "a bachelor is any actual human being (with all the attributes of a human being) who is a male of the species (with all the attributes of a human male), who has never married, (never entered into a relationship with a female human being by mutual agreement, which entails certain obligations to each other). If all of these are not known to be true, the proposition cannot be known to be true. Nothing can be learned about any proposition by simply analyzing the structure of the proposition, a terrible mistake that plagues both linguistic analysis and logical positivism.

There is one more problem with the idea of, "synthetic," propositions which regards one difference in the kinds of concepts there are, specifically the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic concepts. Briefly, an intrinsic concepts identify existents solely in terms of their own intrinsic qualities (characteristics, attributes, etc.) An extrinsic concept identifies an existent in terms of something known about the existent, like what it does, where it lives, or its current state. An extrinsic concept is usually a concept for a subset of an intrinsic concept. For example, chef (a professional cook), is an extrinsic concept because it defines the concept chef in terms of what a chef does. A chef is also a human being (intrinsic concept) and would be even if he were an auto mechanic or librarian. Chef is a concept for a subset of human beings. Athenian is an extrinsic concept because it defines an existent in terms of where one lives, but an Athenian is a human being (intrinsic concept) and would be even if he lived in London.

A bachelor is an extrinsic concept, and a subset of the concept human beings, because it describes a human being (intrinsic concept) in terms of a particular relative state which is not an intrinsic attribute, but he remains a human being even if his state changes (he gets married). Apart from the concept human being, there are no concepts chef, Greek, or bachelor, which fact cannot possibly be known by merely analyzing the definition of those concepts.

Now here is something I noticed about Kant that surprised me in much the same way that Hume surprised me. They were both very close to a true epistemological principle which would have change the whole future of epistemology for the good. In Hume it was the recognition that only one observation of a phenomenon is enough to identify it absolutely. He only got it wrong by assuming the phenomenon had to be a cause and effect relationship established inductively. Kant almost got it right by observing a thing is whatever it is defined to be, and only got it wrong by making a concept mean the definition instead of the thing the definition identified.

"A bachelor is an unmarried man," is certainly true, because the identity of a bachelor is a human male that is unmarried. Of course it would not be true if there were no human beings, or no men, or if there were no state called marriage. This kind of knowledge, however, is a kind of taxonomy, a matter of classifying various human beings. It is knowledge about knowledge (a categorization of human beings) and is created, not discovered. It is not inductive at all, but as certain as knowledge can be. It is not true by definition, but because the definition correctly describes that category of actual material existents identified by the concept bachelor, which is exactly what makes all true propositions true, regardless of whether bad philosophers attempt to classify them as analytic or synthetic.

That kind of certainty is true of all correctly defined concepts. No induction is required to correctly define any concept. For any existent identified by any concept only one observation of that existent is necessary to form a correct definition of that concept. As I mentioned before, it is not necessary to observe a hundred or a thousand turtles before the concept turtle can be correctly defined. It is only necessary to observe one turtle well enough to be able to describe the attributes that make it what it is, and will enable one to recognize another turtle if one shows up.

Almost every word you use implies certain knowledge. Whether you are talking about parts of speech, (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, etc.) or members of your family (wife, child, brother, sister, etc.) or your food (water, bread, meat, eggs, honey etc.) or your tools (hammer, saw, screw driver, drill, etc.) or electronic devices (lights, radio, television, cellphone, or computer) you know what all those concepts identify, not statistically, but absolutely. By the time one is an adult one knows more things than could possibly be listed. [According to those who study such things, literate adults know between 20 and 30 thousand words. Shakespeare used 25,000 unique words in his works and surely knew many more. Since each word is a symbol for one or more concepts, every word represents a concept, which if truly understood, is knowledge.] Of course there are some things that are only probable, and there will always be things that aren't known yet, and in the whole world there are more things to know than anyone will have the time or resources to learn. You cannot know everything and one can always make mistakes, but to reduce human knowledge to statistical probability, is just wrong.

I mentioned earlier that a concept, all by itself, is not knowledge. Some of the things you have said suggest you believe concepts are knowledge. If one knows what a concept identifies, that is knowledge, but all by itself, a concept is only an identifier.
All supposed knowledge must be either true or false. Except by implication, no concept is either true or false. Concepts can be good or bad, that is, they may identify confused ideas, or be vague and poorly defined, or may identify what does not really exist, (as though it did), as most mystical concepts do. What those concepts identify are fictions, but the concepts are neither true nor false. A concept only identifies things, and is just as valid when identifying fictional things as when identifying actual things.

Only propositions can be true or false. For example, "Zeus is a god worshiped by the ancient Greeks," asserts something about Zeus. If what is being asserted is correct, the proposition is true; if what is being asserted is incorrect, the proposition is false. The assertion, in this case, is correct, therefore the proposition, is true, even though the concept "Zeus" identifies a fictional existent. The same concept can be use in both true and false propositions. "The phoenix is a common bird found in the forests of Colorado," is false, but, "the phoenix is a mythical bird of ancient Egypt," is true.

Since only propositions can be true or false, knowledge consists entirely of propositions; but all propositions are constructed of concepts, without which no knowledge would be possible. Concepts identify the existents all our knowledge is about.

This is as far as I'll go. I think until we can find some agreement on what knowledge itself is, it is pointless to talk around it if what we mean by it is not the same thing. For example, when say that only God has perfect knowledge, I have no idea what you mean by knowledge. The only knowledge I know is that which can be discovered or learned, but that is surely not what you mean by knowledge.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 3:33 pm
What culinary skills I possess mostly pertain to the barbeque. Open-air cooking is the best thing ever. But I find I can create quite a few things there that please the palate of all. Summer evenings with a bottle of something Italian or French, plus some sizzling meat and veggies, is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
Now this we agree on. There is nothing like food prepared outdoors, especially when grilled, however you like it. (I like my beef burned on the outside and raw on the inside, but other ways are fine, and nothing beats grilled lamb chops for me.)

If you visit the US and are offered something called barbeque anywhere in the south, beware. It has nothing to do with being cooked outdoors and resembles predigested meat (usually pork) and tastes a little like creosote. I love and cook a lot of southern American food, but cannot abide what they call barbeque. My neighbors all love it, but everybody is different. Generally I can eat and enjoy almost anything, things others are revolted by from Thai mangda and fried rice rat to Philippine baluts.

What do you like from the ocean?

Food is definitely more fun than philosophy isn't it? My best! RC
[/quote]
Last edited by RCSaunders on Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jayjacobus
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by jayjacobus » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:54 pm

Nick_A wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:38 am
One of the most important basic and avoided questions is if a person considers themselves essentially an Individualist or a collectivist. It seems more enjoyable to argue over techniques or good and bad. But the question of Individualism vs. Collectivism as desired method to improve human nature puts us on the spot.

There are many ways to discuss it after we agree as to their basic difference so I'd like to ask you if you agree with the following distinction:

https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/is ... lectivism/
The fundamental political conflict in America today is, as it has been for a century, individualism vs. collectivism. Does the individual’s life belong to him—or does it belong to the group, the community, society, or the state? With government expanding ever more rapidly—seizing and spending more and more of our money on “entitlement” programs and corporate bailouts, and intruding on our businesses and lives in increasingly onerous ways—the need for clarity on this issue has never been greater. Let us begin by defining the terms at hand.

Individualism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs to him and that he has an inalienable right to live it as he sees fit, to act on his own judgment, to keep and use the product of his effort, and to pursue the values of his choosing. It’s the idea that the individual is sovereign, an end in himself, and the fundamental unit of moral concern. This is the ideal that the American Founders set forth and sought to establish when they drafted the Declaration and the Constitution and created a country in which the individual’s rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness were to be recognized and protected.

Collectivism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs not to him but to the group or society of which he is merely a part, that he has no rights, and that he must sacrifice his values and goals for the group’s “greater good.” According to collectivism, the group or society is the basic unit of moral concern, and the individual is of value only insofar as he serves the group. As one advocate of this idea puts it: “Man has no rights except those which society permits him to enjoy. From the day of his birth until the day of his death society allows him to enjoy certain so-called rights and deprives him of others; not . . . because society desires especially to favor or oppress the individual, but because its own preservation, welfare, and happiness are the prime considerations.”1

Individualism or collectivism—which of these ideas is correct? Which has the facts on its side?
As is obvious, America is moving more and more toward collectivism. All we read of are collectives. Is this desirable? Perhaps we can discuss the essential differences and potentials for both individualism and collectivism when life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness become our desired goal..
"The Psychology of the Masses is about how and why people are so groupish. Nearly all of us seem to believe that our ideas and habits are freely chosen, not the result of the accidents of our environment; however, most of us tend to believe and do what the people around us believe and do. We fall easily under the spell of what has authority or prestige. These facts are so well-established that propagandists like Edward Bernays could use them to sell everything from wars to consumer goods. We barely feel the pressures of our groups so long as we don't depart from them, but when we do, the coercive nature of social life immediately reveals itself to us. But nevertheless, if we weren't like this social life would be impossible. As social animals, we feel distraught when separated from our herds; this is why rejection is so npainful.

I view crowd psychology as the central science of the social sciences the way chemistry is the central science of the natural sciences. It can be used in combination with neighboring fields to explain almost everything about social life. It can explain everything from stock bubbles to religious cults to individual beliefs and habits. It provides the best explanation I know of for how memes—bits and combinations of cultural information—spread. My theoretical assumptions are different from meme theory's assumptions and I avoid using the term "meme" in order not to confuse people, but anyone with an interest in the subject will probably want to read this book. Edward Bernays co-founded the public relations profession with his knowledge of crowd psychology. He and the influential journalist Walter Lippmann used it when they and the others on the Creel Committee got the United States into World War I. So this isn't hot air but has been practically applied to good effect.

This book is broad in scope, but a few simple ideas serve as unifying themes throughout it, so I don't think it's too ambitious; it's cohesive. In addition to the things mentioned above, I also talk about elite theory—or why we'll never be entirely equal, or independent of authority—along with evolutionary theory, media studies, economics, management theory, military strategy, political philosophy, creativity, mental illness, and the arts, and about the formation of ideas and habits, and about what crowd psychology has to say about modern technologies like social media and search engines. I'm attempting to construct a complete theory of human nature, and I dedicate my last chapter entirely to my plan for that.

I am aware of modern research in the behavioral and social sciences, and talk a bit about it, but many of the authors I discuss wrote their books a century or longer ago. What is newer is not always better; no one, as far as I know, has treated the subjects I talk about as thoroughly and with as much rigor as the classic authors. Among the older authors I cite, along with the two mentioned above, are crowd psychologists Gustave Le Bon, Wilfred Trotter, and Gabriel Tarde, along with the founder of American psychology, William James, and the Italian elitist school of sociology, which includes Robert Michels, Gaetano Mosca, and Vilfredo Pareto. I do talk about modern controversies, like the one between supporters of kin selection (like Richard Dawkins) and group selection (like E.O. Wilson) in evolutionary biology. Wilfred Trotter has a unique theory which may provide a solution to the problems of altruism; more specifically, he uses the herd instinct—the tendency of the members of a group to believe and behave in the same ways—instead of altruism to explain most social behavior. Modern theorists assume that group behavior must be facilitated by altruism somehow, even if it's only so that an organism can spread its genes. Trotter argues that altruism is a byproduct of the herd instinct, and when the two conflict herd instinct has precedence; or in other"

As a group Americans are totally predictable and because they are, they can be influenced to do what the “leaders” want. The group is like a dog in Pavlov’s experiments. The group is tested, data captured, results analyzed and “bones” created.

The solutions? Be unpredictable, give misleading information, change your opinion on international issues (but not local ones) and tell people you trust to do the same.

Edit: The quote is from Amazon's review of Noah Halberg's book on groupish behavior.

jayjacobus
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by jayjacobus » Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:22 pm

Abortion? Today I endorse it. Tomorrow I am going to revile it and sometime later I am just going to be confused.

I may advocate pelvic cleansing clinics to improve the health of men and women or I may not.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Immanuel Can » Sat Sep 07, 2019 3:13 pm

RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:09 am
My criticism is not of you, but of the epistemology that is mistaken.
Understood. That's always fine.
That mistake is the belief that a concept means its definition.
That wasn't precisely what I was responding to, but okay.

What I was questioning was this claim: "Technically, concepts are not knowledge, because all knowledge is propositional." Analytic knowledge is propositional. You may say it's also definitional, and that would be right. But it's not the case that it doesn't describe a concept, or that it fails to be propositional and is not knowledge, therefore.
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.

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. 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.

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.

That's a very simple proposition. But even that is not "certain."
"A bachelor is a single male," is a proposition, but it is not knowledge unless it is true, that the actual existents identified by the concept are what the definition describes. That cannot be known unless the concepts, "single," and, "male," are known. ("Single male" is two concepts.) If a, "male," were a "turnip," and, "single," meant, "red," according to you and Kant, the proposition, "a bachelor is a red turnip," would be true knowledge, by definition.
Ironically, you're absolutely right. 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.
Obviously it is not true.
And yet, I think it's obviously true.
No proposition can be true by definition.

I think this is a contestably stipulative definition of the word "true." I don't think that in normative usage it would be a problem at all. If you asked someone, "Is it true that a bachelor is an unmarried male?" the answer you should expect is, "Sure, that's true."

So if you want to stipulate for purposes of our present discussion that we won't use "true" to refer to analytic knowledge, I'm fine with that. But we are outside of normative usage, then.
What the proposition, "A bachelor is a never-married human male," says is, "a bachelor is any actual human being (with all the attributes of a human being) who is a male of the species (with all the attributes of a human male), who has never married, (never entered into a relationship with a female human being by mutual agreement, which entails certain obligations to each other). If all of these are not known to be true, the proposition cannot be known to be true. Nothing can be learned about any proposition by simply analyzing the structure of the proposition, a terrible mistake that plagues both linguistic analysis and logical positivism.
I don't think I'd disagree with this. I just think it does not solve the problem of human knowledge being probabilistic. I think instead, we now have an additional problematic layer, in that even the words used to convey or express the item of knowledge itself are socially constructed, not directly, singularly and unequivocally attached to the real world -- as they would have to be, in order to express certain knowledge.
Kant almost got it right by observing a thing is whatever it is defined to be, and only got it wrong by making a concept mean the definition instead of the thing the definition identified.
I think we've still got the problem here that words do not attach directly to the thing-in-itself, or as you call it, "the thing the definition identified." It didn't "identify" a single thing: instead, it invoked the closest available associated concept in the mind of the hearer, which was then mistaken for "the thing identified" by both parties in the conversation.

There was not "certainty" in the knowledge thus shared: there was only misperceived certainty. It was enough that the concepts in the two minds were close to each other, so as to permit communication of sense: but it was not the case that both participants had the experience of the same "thing-in-itself."
That kind of certainty is true of all correctly defined concepts. No induction is required to correctly define any concept.
I think that it is. 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.

Again, there is no certainty there: only proximity between the concepts, discerned probabilistically by each of us.
For any existent identified by any concept only one observation of that existent is necessary to form a correct definition of that concept. As I mentioned before, it is not necessary to observe a hundred or a thousand turtles before the concept turtle can be correctly defined. It is only necessary to observe one turtle well enough to be able to describe the attributes that make it what it is, and will enable one to recognize another turtle if one shows up.
Was it not this kind of realization, though, that drove Plato to talk about the "realm of forms" in which pure turtleness could exist? For even he knew that my turtle is not your turtle. (Mine's a snapper, and yours is a painted.)
Almost every word you use implies certain knowledge.
Yes, but only falsely. It implies it because I act as if my knowledge is certain, not because it is. If I spent my days dwelling in doubt about our relative turtles, I would never get to making my turtle soup. So I find it serviceable to imagine that we have communicated unproblematically, and I now know what item to place in my pot. (I don't actually cook turtles, by the way, so please don't call PETA on me.) :wink:
Whether you are talking about parts of speech, (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, etc.) or members of your family (wife, child, brother, sister, etc.) or your food (water, bread, meat, eggs, honey etc.) or your tools (hammer, saw, screw driver, drill, etc.) or electronic devices (lights, radio, television, cellphone, or computer) you know what all those concepts identify, not statistically, but absolutely.

Well, I pretend that, and I operate as if it's true: but when I think about it, I know it's not.
You cannot know everything and one can always make mistakes, but to reduce human knowledge to statistical probability, is just wrong.
I'm still saying it's right. Empirical knowledge is probabilistic. And now we can add that linguistic communication is an uncertain business too.

But you know that: it's how miscommunication is possible. The words we use do not relate unambiguously to unique and specific items in the real world. They relate only to associated clusters of concepts, drawn from my experience-bank, which I mistake for the exact-same items you are trying to communicate from your experience-bank. But what we really have is only close-enough similarities in our "apple" and "turtle" concepts.
All supposed knowledge must be either true or false.
But since both Verificationism and Falsificationism have proved problematic, with what are we left? We might say that all propositions in theory are either true or false: but in practice, our knowledge is not true-or-false to the point of certainty. Again, we are, at best, only highly-confident that proposition X or Y is true or false. We do not know for sure. For that matter, we do not even unproblematically know what the proposition is.
Concepts identify the existents all our knowledge is about.
Concepts identify a group of associations in my mind with a cluster of similar concepts in your mind. They do not, per se, identify the specific existents.

We were talking earlier about curry. I think I know what one is. I've had many good ones. But you had to describe to me the excellence of the spicing in yours, and hope that I would have had a curry somewhat possessed of the same sorts of ingredients -- otherwise, I would have no association with your descriptors.

But did I thereby taste your curry? The knowledge conveyed by your descriptions was not certain, though we felt we were talking about the same concept.
For example, when say that only God has perfect knowledge, I have no idea what you mean by knowledge.
I mean that God (assuming He exists, of course -- I'm only speaking of the concept here, not trying to slide a proposition past you) DOES know what your curry was like. That would be analytic, based on the fact that the Supreme Being creates and sustains all things. Even your curry.

But I never will. I can only hope that my associations with curry give me some appreciation of your curry experience.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 3:33 pm
What culinary skills I possess mostly pertain to the barbeque. Open-air cooking is the best thing ever. But I find I can create quite a few things there that please the palate of all. Summer evenings with a bottle of something Italian or French, plus some sizzling meat and veggies, is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
Now this we agree on. There is nothing like food prepared outdoors, especially when grilled, however you like it. (I like my beef burned on the outside and raw on the inside, but other ways are fine, and nothing beats grilled lamb chops for me.)
Ah, I have a friend who does a de-boned lamb leg with olive and pine nut stuffing...it's unspeakable.
If you visit the US and are offered something called barbeque anywhere in the south, beware.
There is better and worse down there. The stuff that is slow-smoked for 24 hours can be amazing, but you have to find the right grille. Regular restaurant fare is like pork with catsup. Horrid.
Generally I can eat and enjoy almost anything, things others are revolted by from Thai mangda and fried rice rat to Philippine baluts.
The worst I've had? Canned raw squid in ink, or perhaps sliced, pickled jellyfish. Both are extremely nasty -- the former for its taste and the latter for its texture (it has little taste).
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?
Food is definitely more fun than philosophy isn't it?
Both are good for the digestion. :wink:
My best! RC
And back to you, of course.

jayjacobus
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by jayjacobus » 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?

Nick_A
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Re: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Post by Nick_A » Sat Sep 07, 2019 5:36 pm

Hello Jay
"The Psychology of the Masses is about how and why people are so groupish. Nearly all of us seem to believe that our ideas and habits are freely chosen, not the result of the accidents of our environment; however, most of us tend to believe and do what the people around us believe and do. We fall easily under the spell of what has authority or prestige. These facts are so well-established that propagandists like Edward Bernays could use them to sell everything from wars to consumer goods. We barely feel the pressures of our groups so long as we don't depart from them, but when we do, the coercive nature of social life immediately reveals itself to us. But nevertheless, if we weren't like this social life would be impossible. As social animals, we feel distraught when separated from our herds; this is why rejection is so npainful.
It does seem that much of our lives consist of reactions to group pressures and the belief is that it is necessary. But is it?

We can define the collective as a sort of group animal. Plato referred to it as a "beast". If this is the collective or herd mentality, what is an individual as distinct from the herd? How can we ever come to understand the power of the collective on the psyche until first asking what we are? "Who am I?" the most ancient of all philosophical questions. If we don't know who or what we are, we cannot understand what loses its individuality and becomes part of the conditioned beast?

This is a serious question a seeker of truth must confront. What would it take for me to become an individual as opposed to a member of the herd which defines individuality by its standards?

Have you noticed society is always telling you what to do. Religions blame it on some personal God, psychologists tell you what you should do as does politics. But who enables a person to experience what they ARE? We don't take the question seriously because we are caught up with what to DO.

In your opinion is there a way to confront the question of what we ARE - what we have become as opposed to our potential as an individual distinct from how the herd understands it?

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