Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Laws of Physics (part 2): Hume's Empiricism Offers No Answer








Alan Chalmers discusses the way that followers of the Philosopher David Hume deal with the problem of explaining the regularity without prescriptive laws. Chalmers represents the scientific realists, Humeans are their oppents. Followers of Hume believe that it's going too far beyond the bounds of what can be proven to suggest that laws govern things or that properties of nature produce the effect of governance. Chalmers goes back to the billiard balls to illustrate Hume's position. Hume argued that we don't see one ball moving the other but one ball stop and the other one start. We don't see the causal process so we must assume it. Hume believed that we don't have a rational warrant for belief in physical bodies or the external world. These must be assumed on faith.

At least Chalmer's and the realists are willing to admit there's a problem. I will demonstrate that his solution is little better than Hume's (in the next chapter). Humean refusal to move out of deniel is indicative of modern science as a whole. This law-like regularity is just a set of behaviors and natural laws are just descriptions of those behaviors, never mind how law-like they are. Chalmer's argument against Hume does not answer Hume, it just assumes that we know already that nature has active properties that make things happen. That's just refusal to believe Hume's logic. Hume's skepticism fuels atheist empiricism, that stands behind all their claims that there is no rational reason to believe in God. I wonder how many of them ever realize that according to Hume there's no reason to believe in the external world. Mattey says of Hume:
Consider the question whether we are justified in believing that a physical world exists. As David Hume pointed out, the skepticism generated by philosophical arguments is contrary to our natural inclination to believe that there are physical objects. Nonetheless, after considering the causes of our belief in the existence of body and finding them inadequate for the justification of that belief, Hume admitted to being drawn away form his original assumption that bodies exist. "To be ingenuous, I feel myself at present..more inclin'd to repose no faith at all in my senses, or rather imagination, than to place in it such an implicit confidence," because "'tis impossible upon any system to defend either our understanding or senses." His solution to these doubts was "carelessness and in-attention," which divert the mind from skeptical arguments.[1]
Hume tells us:

[T]he skeptic . . . must assent to the principle concerning the existence of body, tho' he cannot pretend by any arguments of philosophy to maintain its veracity. Nature has not left this to his choice, and has doubtless esteem'd it an affair of too great importance to be trusted to our uncertain reasonings and speculations. We may well ask, What causes induce us to believe in the existence of body?, but 'tis in vain to ask, Whether there be body or not? That is a point, which we must take for granted in all our reasoning.” (A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Part IV, Section II)[2]
For an answer to Hume I turn to Hume's contemporary opponent, Thomas Reid. More specifically to G.J. Mattey and his use of Lehrer and Reid. Thomas Reid (1710-1790) Scottish philosopher, leader of the “common sense” school. He studied Philosophy at Marischl college, Aberdeen. He served as a Presbyterian pastor. He influenced modern philosophers such as Charles Sanders Peirce.[3]
Reid argues that we are justified in following our senses.

That the evidence of sense is of a different kind, needs little proof. No man seeks a reason for believing what he sees or feels; and, if he did, it would be difficult to find one. But, though he can give no reason for believing his senses, his belief remains as firm as if it were grounded on demonstration...Many eminent philosophers, thinking it unreasonable to believe when they could not shew a reason, have laboured to furnish us with reasons for believing our senses; but their reasons are very insufficient, and will not bear examination. Other philosophers have shewn very clearly the fallacy of these reasons, and have, as they imagine, discovered invincible reasons against this belief; but they have never been able either to shake it themselves or to convince others. The statesman continues to plod, the soldier to fight, and the merchant to export and import, without being in the least moved by the demonstations that have been offered of the non-existence of those things about which they are so seriously employed. And a man may as soon by reasoning, pull the moon out of her orbit, as destroy the belief of the objects of sense. (Essay on the Intellectual Powers of Man, Essay IV, Chapter XX)[4]
He doesn't put it in these terms but he's arguing that living by the assumption that perceptions are real, works. Ignoring that realization doesn't work. Now he does say that perceptions can be wrong and we need attention to detail.[5] But in general he's talking about justification of belief in the external world and physical bodies. People go about their lives doing what they do and assume the reality of the world works. Now a student of philosophy may think “but that's the average person who knows nothing of philosophy and doesn't think. No philosopher lives by Humean skepticism. When a philosopher makes love he or she does not pull back at the most climatic moment and say “is my partner here real? Is this real? Am I really doing this deed in this place? Philosophers who are drafted and sent to war don't walk into machine gun fire to see if the bullets are real. Reid argues that we have prima face justification to assume the reality of regular and consistent perceptions. Science couldn't really thrive on Humean skepticism. To a point skepticism is good for science since science is not about proving facts but testing hypotheses. Yet if we never assume the reality of perception why bother with empirical observation?

Lewis and systems

Of course Hume is assumed by modern philosopher to have won the show down with Reid (although I disagree). Now a follower of Hume's, David Lewis, has in the late twentieth century developed a means of explaining physical and natural laws that will quite likely be argued against the TS argument. Lewis has overhauled modal logic, possible worlds, and counterfactuals, as well as other fields.[6]In dealing with the question “what is a law?” there are two major approaches: David Lewis (“Systems,” o “systematized regularity theory”) and David Armstrong's (universals).[7]Systems are made up of two competing aspects, strength and simplicty. Strength here means better explained and proven. Because strength involves explanation there is automatically a tradeoff between strength and simplicity. We can make a hpothesis stronger by explaining in more detail. But at the coast of simplicity. We can make them more simple by streamlining explanation, but at the coast of strength. “According to Lewis (1973, 73), the laws of nature belong to all the true deductive systems with a best combination of simplicity and strength.”[8]
One last aspect of the systems view that is appealing to many (though not all) is that it is in keeping with broadly Humean constraints on a sensible metaphysics. There is no overt appeal to closely related modal concepts (e.g., the counterfactual conditional) and no overt appeal to modality-supplying entities (e.g., universals or God; for the supposed need to appeal to God,.... Indeed, the systems approach is the centerpiece of Lewis's defense of Humean supervenience, “the doctrine that all there is in the world is a vast mosaic of local matters of particular fact, just one little thing and then another” (1986, ix). [emphasis mine].[9]
One reason why thinkers like this view, apparent from the quotation, is the alleged use of Occam's razor saving God out of the picture. I have dealt with that in chapter three. God is not multiplying entities beyond necessity, since God is not subject to physical law. The necessity if God cannot be understood in terms of science or physical law. Another problem with this approach is that it really contributes nothing toward answering the question about the nature of physical laws, ie descriptive laws appear to be descriptions of of prescriptive laws. If we decide that laws are the best balance between strength and simplicity, that does not prove that the law-like regularity is not the result of some external organizing principel or transcendental signified. Laws can be a balance between strong and simple, and still be set up by God. That doesn't blunt God arguments unless it indicates that the organizing principle (the balance) is spontaneous, that cannot be proved. One might argue that it can't be proved wither. Abductive arguments don't seek to prove, but argue from the best explanation; systems can't be the est for the question since it doesn't answer it. Moreover, Lewis' systems idea has been criticized as mind dependent; the ideas of strength, simplicity, and balance seem subjective and thus mind dependent.[10]Thus it turns out that the system's view might actually support the TS.

Armstrong and Universals

David Armstrong's ideas of universals is the rival and alternative to Lewis' view. Unfortunatley, this doesn't help the TS argument because the very point that makes it appealing is that it's less mind dependent, thus less friendly to the TS argument. To understand this theory we need to employ some modernized versions of Platonic thought. We have universals and particulars, universals are always true across the board and shared by many objects (heavy, light. brown, dark) and particulars are abd concrete objects, this particular dark brown pen in my hand. Universals are not located in a platonic realm, however, but in all the objects that share that quality (Aristotelian, no form without essence). So all red things share the universal of redness, and that universal is distributed among all red things. Some things seem universal and are not, such games. Not all games are universals because not all games share the same qualities.[11] The upshot is that there's a relationship between universals. If we have relations between objects that are universal we can draw relations between universals.
We need to be clear how a relation between universals can generate a relation between particular objects. To do this, note that if we have a first-order relation R (e.g. ‘being next to’) and two particulars a and b, then the combination R(a,b) is a particular (e.g. ‘the fact that a is next to b’). Similarly, the second-order universal N, when applied to the two first-order universals F and G, yields a first-order universal N(F,G). N(F,G), the relation between universals, is therefore itself a universal. It is then instantiated through the form N(F,G)(a’s being F, a’s being G).[12]
Armstrong's concept of universals distinguishes laws from regularities, Lewis' systems theory does not. That might seem to be a problem for the TS argument because it might seem to explain the law-like regularity of the universe. But, does it really explain it or merely gloss over it? First of all, there is no such thing as redness. Colors are not intrensic properties of objects, they are what our rods and cones do with light. Thus while pigmentation may be universal, redness or blueness is not. Even pigmentation is not universal because we believe that dogs don't see color. Even seeing is not universal to all organisms. So it looks like “universals” are also mind dependent, after all, everything seems universal on the surface, but could probably be questioned. There may be no universals. . Secondly, how can we know anything is universal when we are so little travaled in the universe? We use telescopes to see distant galaxies, but we also know the gravitational lense creates illusions in the night sky. The night sky is really a myth. Without physically and actually going to distant ends of the galaxy we can't know empirically what is universal and what is not. That means Armstrong's theory can't meet the atheist or skeptical dictum of empirical “proof.” We might well ask if there are universals, or even physical laws?

Do the descriptions describe “real things?”

The Laws of physics as written by Newton are mathematical abstractions. For Newton, Boyle and their Latitudinarian allies these laws were abstractions of God's will. For modern scientists they are merely descriptions of the way the universe behaves. According to Lewis (1973, 73), the laws of nature belong to all the true deductive systems with a best combination of simplicity and strength. what is being described is a law-like regularity. Are physical laws descriptions of the result of prescriptive laws? Some have asked what is being described? Are there real laws? Do the laws describe real things (other than the behavior itself)? Things always fall down and not up (toward the center of mass). Why? What makes it so? Friction excites molecules and produces heat but why? Answering things like “because that's what exciting molecules does,” is just like saying “it's just that way.” Paul Davies illustrates with an analogy to money. If one has money in the pocket, one has tangible paper and coinage that can he touched, and held, and traded for goods. If one has money in the bank, however, one only has a theoretic idea, and idea can be used to produce other theoretical ideas, such as interest, exchange rates, and debt. One can even use the theory to acquire other tangible goods. Is the money real? Physical laws are like that. They are mathematical abstractions describing what goes on in the natural world. [13]Davies believes that most physicists just assume that some day we will learn enough that our understanding will converge upon the reality the laws depict. He points out that there are physicists who are like Platonists in that they believe that laws of physicists, in so much as they are mathematical descriptions, as well as all numbers exist beyond the physical world in an abstract reality.

Think about the inconsistency, telling us there is only the physical, no realm of the unseen, then believing the reality of an abstract realm of math. A Platonic realm is a safe halfway house between God and the material. It's not real Platonism, it's The laws of nature created by God with God taken out of the picture. Of course that's not to say that physicalists are platonists, nevertheless, St. Augustine put the forms in the Mind of God, that would seem to be a more rational idea. After all Plato theorized a form of forms.[14]

That forms the basis for a mind, even though “the one” per se may not have been concieved as mind. The term we translate as “form,” however, is eidos, meaning idea. Ideas are in minds, and it was the next logical step for Augustine to place the froms in the mind of God. Afterall its easier to believe a min holding ideas than to think of ideas floating about disconnected from mind. Of course this is a conditional argument because I'm not arguing for an Augustinian view. Yet Platonism itself leads to a more elegant solution of minds as the basis of abstract objects. Thus if we regard abstractions as real then we should see them as mind dependent. Abstractions them selves are mind-dependent, come to that. It is hard to see how they could exist outside of a mind.

That mathematical ideas and physical laws are products of the mind would seem to make more sense than disembodied mathematics and laws just hanging about in some non-physical and non mental dimension. Even Armstrong's idea doesn't posit such a realm. We can't comprehend what kind of reality would be neither mental nor physical. Of course there could be some realm we don't understand, but that would seem to be a faith response on the part of the skeptic. There must be a logical reason why Aristotle didn't buy Platonism. That the Agustinian approach allows us to say there is no form without essence and still see mathematical entities as “real,” would make it seem the best option, but it requires the mind of God.

sources

1 G.J. Matty, 2002 Lecture Notes, Lehrer's Theory of Knowledg e, Second edition chapter 4 the Foundation Theory: Fallible Foundations. Online resource, URL: http://hume.ucdavis.edu/mattey/phi102kl/tkch4.htm accessed 9/2/15.

Mattey was one of the top Reid scholars. Mattey is senor lecturer at U*.C. Davis, Joinws faculty in 1977 (Ph.D. from U. Pittsburgh). He specializes in 17th and 18th century philosophy, epistemology and logic.

2 David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Part IV, Section II, Mineola, NY&: Dover Pu8blishing 2003, 134-157.

3 C. S.Peirce , "Some Consequences of Four Incapacities", Journal of Speculative Philosophy 2, (1868) pp. 140–157, see p. 155 via Google Books. Reprinted, Collected Papers v. 5, paragraphs 264–317 (see 311), Writings v. 2, pp. 211–42 (see 239), Essential Peirce v. 1, pp. 28–55 (see 52).Essay on the Intellectual Powers of Man, Essay IV, Chapter XX)

4 Thomas Reid, Essay on the Intellectual Powers of Man, Essay IV, Chapter XX, quoted in Mattey, op. cit.

5 Ibid.

6 Brian Weatherson, "David Lewis", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2014/entries/david-lewis/>
. According to Weatherson:
David Lewis (1941–2001) was one of the most important philosophers of the 20th Century. He made significant contributions to philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of science, decision theory, epistemology, meta-ethics and aesthetics. In most of these fields he is essential reading; in many of them he is among the most important figures of recent decades. And this list leaves out his two most significant contributions.

7 John W. Carroll, "Laws of Nature," The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), online resourse URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2012/entries/laws-of-nature/>.

8 Ibid. the article sites: David Lewis, Counterfactuals, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973.

9 Ibid. The article sites: David Lewis, Philosophical Papers, Volume II, New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

10 Ibid.
On mind dependent criticism: “See, especially, Armstrong 1983, 66–73; van Fraassen 1989, 40–64; Carroll 1990, 197–206.”

11 Hugh McCarthy, “The Universal Theory of Physical Law,” Hugh McCarthy's ASC blog. (Dec. 17, 2014) On line Resource URL:
https://hughmccarthylawscienceasc.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/the-universal-theory-of-physical-law/
I hesitate to site another blog by a Ph.D. candidate, but this is the most cogent and helpful explanation of Armstrong I've seen. McCarthy:
This blog is part of an ASC research project that I am completing as part of my PhB (Science) degree at the Australian National University, in the summer of 2014-2015. I am looking at the relationship between law and science, trying to answer questions like “What is difference between a legal law and a scientific law?” The project is supervised by Joshua Neoh from the ANU Law Department, and Pierre Portal from the ANU Maths Department.


12 Ibid.

13 Davies, Cosmic Jackpot…,
14 Rep. 596a:
We customarily hypothesize a single form in connection with each collection of many things to which we apply the same name
596a-b:
Then let’s now take any of the manys you like. For example, there are many beds and tables ... but there are only two forms of such furniture, one of the bed and one of the table.

79 comments:

Joe Hinman said...

I am laying down guide lines for comments, I'm sick of certain people who don't read the article and say the same stuff regardless of what's in the article.We are not going to talk about personality,we are not going to say "no one thinks that quote just one person." when I have quoted them in the article.

talk about the post.

How do Hume's followers deal with the problem of explaining the regularity without prescriptive laws?

what school does Chalmers represent?

why do I say this school's solution is not better than Hume's

do you agree with my assessment of the weakness of each school?

Joe Hinman said...

this post has a lot about David Lewis and Armstrong, so I'm, going to expect a discussion on them.

Eric Sotnak said...

"Hume believed that we don't have a rational warrant for belief in physical bodies or the external world. These must be assumed on faith."

I incline toward a 'yes' to the first sentence and a 'no' to the second. The more I read and reread Hume, the more I think the way to read him is as a proto-pragmatist. I think the (still common) reading of him as a causal skeptic, for instance, is just wrong; too much else in his writings paint him as a causal realist. But what could be the epistemic foundation of causal realism? Remember that in Hume's time the concept of pragmatism hadn't yet been strongly articulated. From my standpoint, reading Hume as a pragmatist makes a lot of things click nicely into place. (I also read Kant as having a very strongly pragmatist streak, which makes things a bit interesting. There would be an interesting irony if Kant tried to solve many of the problems he saw with Hume by coming up with what ends up ultimately being the same basic solution. (Only partly, of course, because Kant's articulation of a priori cognitive structures is clearly very different from anything in Hume.))

Joe Hinman said...

Very interesting Eric.I'm going to have to read Hume again now(once again) with that in mind. I have a question does pragmatism trilateral into realism> Isn't the academy realism crazy now days? Don't take that as dismissive, I take your views very seriously, but that is my knee jerk reaction , that you are reading in the climate of opinion. Yet I know I am probably wrong, I'm just bitter about being out of touch.

Joe Hinman said...

shoulod say does pragmatism translate into realism?

Joe Hinman said...

question if your reading about Hume's faith is true what were he and Reid arguing about? It is possible Reid misread Hume.

Eric Sotnak said...

"It is possible Reid misread Hume."

I recall an article defending the thesis that Hume was miffed that Reid had criticized him for what he had written in the Treatise, which he, himself, regarded as an immature work. The two Enquiries, on this view, are representative of his more mature thought, and were the works Hume thought Reid should have judged his thought by.

But I think that even in the Treatise, there is a very strong pragmatist flavor. When Hume says that custom is "the great guide of life" I take him to mean that many of the habits that naturally come to us as a result of experience are pragmatically more valuable to us that acting contrary to them would be, even though we still have no rational basis for them. Remember that in the Modern period, the standard of rationality is what can be analytically derived from concepts (especially in the manner suggested by Descartes, Arnauld, and Leibniz).

Joe Hinman said...

Of course what Reid thought it was about is not necessarily what Hume meant,. But it does seem that Reid thought it was bout the justification we have for assuming our perceptions are valid because they get us thorough the day. That would make him the pragmatist and Hume the skeptic.

Mike Gerow said...

Eric, pretty interesting, & I'm guessing a bit here but.... is what Quentin Meillasoux called Kant's" correlationism" a part of why you see a strong pragmatic streak in him?


"[Kant] argues that we can never know reality as it is in itself apart from us, but only as it appears to us. If the mind takes an active role in structuring reality (for us) we are unable to know what it is in-itself because we cannot determine what, in appearances, is a product of our own minds and what is a feature of things as they are in themselves. "

Correlationism

Mike Gerow said...

Oops link...

https://euppublishingblog.com/2014/12/12/correlationism-an-extract-from-the-meillassoux-dictionary/

Eric Sotnak said...

Hello, Mike,
I confess I have had no knowledge of Meillassoux (until now), so thanks for the pointer!
But to answer the question, I had in mind the reading of Kant on which regulative ideas are (at least largely) to be understood as pragmatic. So, for instance, Kant accepts that we cannot KNOW ourselves as having free will, but we can THINK ourselves as such, and are (pragmatically though not rationally) justified in accepting this.

Of course, there are some imperfect areas of fit between Kant and the kind of pragmatism we find in Pierce (and probably more so James and Dewey). I would say we shouldn't read Kant as a pragmatist, but rather as someone whose thought sometimes has a strong pragmatist flavor - the label gets us into what may be the right neighborhood, but doesn't give us the house number. I think Hume would have embraced some variant of pragmatism had it been an option available to him - he might have said, "yes, that is what I was trying to say!" I think this is especially true of his stance on causation. I take Hume as a causal (and external world) realist. But such realism cannot be validated by deductive or analytic methods.

im-skeptical said...

Think about the inconsistency, telling us there is only the physical, no realm of the unseen, then believing the reality of an abstract realm of math.
- I agree completely.

That mathematical ideas and physical laws are products of the mind would seem to make more sense than disembodied mathematics and laws just hanging about in some non-physical and non mental dimension.
- Makes perfect sense.

That the Agustinian approach allows us to say there is no form without essence and still see mathematical entities as “real,” would make it seem the best option, but it requires the mind of God.
- This is where reasoning goes awry. Forms and essences are just ideas, like our formulation of physical laws. As such, these concepts have no bearing on reality. But it does require a mind to conceive of them. I don't see why it has to be the mind of God.



David Brightly said...

I read Carroll's SEP article, Laws of nature. Quite hard going. More accessible is the Norman Swartz IEP entry of the same name. Strangely, the contents of the two articles are almost orthogonal.

Joe Hinman said...

David Brightly said...
I read Carroll's SEP article, Laws of nature. Quite hard going. More accessible is the Norman Swartz IEP entry of the same name. Strangely, the contents of the two articles are almost orthogonal.

I don't think much of Carroll as a philosopher historian, social scientist, or apologist,

Joe Hinman said...

m-skeptical said...
Think about the inconsistency, telling us there is only the physical, no realm of the unseen, then believing the reality of an abstract realm of math.
- I agree completely.

That mathematical ideas and physical laws are products of the mind would seem to make more sense than disembodied mathematics and laws just hanging about in some non-physical and non mental dimension.
- Makes perfect sense.

That the Agustinian approach allows us to say there is no form without essence and still see mathematical entities as “real,” would make it seem the best option, but it requires the mind of God.

- This is where reasoning goes awry. Forms and essences are just ideas, like our formulation of physical laws. As such, these concepts have no bearing on reality. But it does require a mind to conceive of them. I don't see why it has to be the mind of God.

obviously there's a problem in saying that they have no bearing because you just agree they do,(Many different approaches of science embrace that concept) yet trey can't so if they are ideas they can still being an idea and have that kin of reality if they are in a universal mind like God.

Belief im God makes sense out of the problem that phsyicalism can't make.
the mere ideas are in the mind that thinks relaity


Joe Hinman said...

So, for instance, Kant accepts that we cannot KNOW ourselves as having free will, but we can THINK ourselves as such, and are (pragmatically though not rationally) justified in accepting this.

Victor Reppert would argue it is irrational to accept reasom on one had as the ultimate approach to decision making and knowledge then on the other deny that reasoning has anything to do with truth or with the nature of reality,

Joe Hinman said...

btw I sum that observation up with appeal to my previous observation about how the Universalized solves the problem between the realist and Humeans you can turn that into a God argumnet by making it abductuve.

Mike Gerow said...

Victor Reppert would argue it is irrational to accept reasom on one had as the ultimate approach to decision making and knowledge then on the other deny that reasoning has anything to do with truth or with the nature of reality,


....could be characterized as the "still the best" instead of "ultimate" approach? (Kant would likely agree with that, too, since if we can't ever know things-in-themselves it would be hard to talk in terms of ultimacies

im-skeptical said...

Belief im God makes sense out of the problem that phsyicalism can't make.
the mere ideas are in the mind that thinks relaity


- It makes perfectly good sense. Reality is what it is. Human minds have a perception of reality. They call the regularities of nature "laws" because that seems like a good analogy. Whatever we think of these "laws", whether our ideas are correct or totally muss the mark, our thoughts don't change that reality. To postulate that there is a being who must create the laws is simply to anthropomorphize nature - if there's a law, there must be a law-giver. Therefore, god did it.

Mike Gerow said...

The problem for your side, then, skep, might be that if the impersonal laws of nature are only human perceptions and interpretations, and not sufficiently airtight "rules" to really be called "laws", does someone like Hawking have any real grounds to "exclude God" by appealing to them? -- any moreso than a theist like Thomas Aquinas can use those same grounds for "including God" ( as a Kickstarter, anyway...)

im-skeptical said...

does someone like Hawking have any real grounds to "exclude God" by appealing to them? -- any moreso than a theist like Thomas Aquinas can use those same grounds for "including God"

- That's a good question. I think Hawking looks at various possibilities and settles on what he considers to be most likely - based on what he observes of reality.

Joe Hinman said...

It makes perfectly good sense. Reality is what it is. Human minds have a perception of reality. They call the regularities of nature "laws" because that seems like a good analogy.


wrong read history of science, they call then laws because they were written by people who beveled in a lawmaker as creator,


Whatever we think of these "laws", whether our ideas are correct or totally muss the mark, our thoughts don't change that reality. To postulate that there is a being who must create the laws is simply to anthropomorphize nature - if there's a law, there must be a law-giver. Therefore, god did it.

you are jut pretending there's no problem by relativistic observation,but you can't have it both ways,science doesn't work as subjective suggestions, kt has to the assumption of objective fact,

Eric Sotnak said...

"they call then laws because they were written by people who beveled in a lawmaker as creator,"

Do you hold parallel views about the laws of geometry? Did God have to decree the laws by which cubes can be arranged without intervening spaces but not so with spheres?

im-skeptical said...

wrong read history of science, they call then laws because they were written by people who beveled in a lawmaker as creator,

Joe, I never denied that theistic people believe there is a law-giver who decrees the laws of nature. In fact, I said that. And I said that the term "law" in modern usage is an artifact of that ancient thinking. This statement is about scientists who are not driven by theistic ideology. They don't believe there is a law-giver. They don't believe that there is any prescriptive aspect to the things we still call laws. But they still use the old terminology. It continues to be part of our language, and the term still has this analogous aspect to it, so why not use the word "law"?. I really don't know why this is so hard for you to figure out.

Joe Hinman said...

"they call then laws because they were written by people who beveled in a lawmaker as creator,"

Do you hold parallel views about the laws of geometry? Did God have to decree the laws by which cubes can be arranged without intervening spaces but not so with spheres?


First of all I did n;t say they call laws because God teared them I said they are called laws because the guy who wrote then beloved that God created them, that is a historical fact Newton called then laws for that reason. Secondly, laws or physics are not analogous to laws of geometry,thirdly,God did create the laws of physics, even I didn't say it it's obvious,think about it, if God created conditions that emboided laws via necessary structures that would no different then decreeing law, even if only by effect,

modern secular thought has such paranoid dread of God they can't even imagine the conditions that might obtain if he did exit,

im-skeptical said...

I said they are called laws because the guy who wrote then beloved that God created them

- That agrees with what I said. It's all about their belief in God as the creator. If you don't believe in God, you have no need to put it in those terms. However, our language already existed before people began to think in non-theistic terms.


Secondly, laws or physics are not analogous to laws of geometry

- Why not? Both reflect realities of the physical world. Neither requires a god. They simply describe the world as we see it.

Mike Gerow said...

For one thing, because reality changes....the mathematics of geometry are a lot more simple and straightforward than those of dynamical systems, which are basically differential equations -- with all that taking of lim's h -> 0 and invoking the performance of impossibly infinite
Calculations.

.... maths basically model still things much better than movements....so "grounding" a mathematical realism in something like geometry may be attractive and reassuring, but I think you also have to show that it's justified.....

im-skeptical said...

For one thing, because reality changes

- The laws of nature, which certainly includes dynamic systems, do not change. They reflect physical reality. I see no fundamental difference between laws of physics and laws of logic and mathematics.

Mike Gerow said...

Heh! How do you KNOW the "laws of nature" do not change? .... Are you saying they do not and could not change ...ever? And you base that assertion on a mere 10^12 (or so) year sample that's not even a statistically-significant sample of an infinite-type time period?

Or, can you give me a logical reason for your assertion?

In any case, it's well known that heavyweight philosophers David Hume and Bertrand Russell have both already argued your statement here cannot be rationally justified and is therefore pretty much "an article of faith," just as Joe sometimes claims about some scientific tenets....

That wasn't the point tho. My point was about the uncertainty in the limit-taking successive approximations methods used in differential maths, which seem intuitively at least much more tenuous than more visually-intuitive Euclidian-geometric kinds of maths. So invoking geometry to justify differentials might be problematic....

im-skeptical said...

Or, can you give me a logical reason for your assertion?

- Yes. It's called inductive reasoning. I don't claim that it provides absolute certainty. We are no absolutely certain about ANYTHING. But we are certain enough to base all of our decisions on it.


So invoking geometry to justify differentials might be problematic

- Why don't you think Euclidean geometry applies in dynamic systems or "successive approximation methods" (otherwise known as calculus)? Actually, it is used extensively. And there is nothing tenuous about it. It is purely deductive reasoning, the same as any other maths. No leap of faith required.

Mike Gerow said...

the point is about the actual impossibility of doing an infinite number of successive approximations...and so differentiating a physical system always leaves room for doubt about whether it's not possible those particles might even "swerve" a little as Jean Paul Sartre suggested.... Which is Similar to the difficulties in the natural phenomenon known as "chaos," in that no one can actually perform infinite calculative operations...and this has little or nothing to do with the use of geometry in calculus or not .. geometry proper, however, is about idealized abstract objects that don't move around and is solider and leaves less room for such questions. That was what I was getting at....math does still things much more readily than math does moving things

On the other topic -- which is where we were talking about "leaps of faith" btw -- Hume and Russell might be either spinning or giggling in their graves at your attempt to apply inductive reasoning in justifying inductive reasoning there.

But, more interesting to me, is the mathematical/statistical implications. It seems to me more likely that the "laws of physics" will still be the same tomorrow than that they will remain the same for the next 10^10,000,000 years or so, so .... like that.

What say you?



im-skeptical said...

This does get back to the original topic. What is the real basis of the laws of nature? Are they something that is decreed, and so might just as well be declared to be different one day, depending on the whims of the law-giver? Or are they simply a reflection of reality? You can go with the law-giver view, but I really don't see any convincing reason to think so.

The laws of nature are the product of a mind, as Joe notes. But that only means that we humans observe the reality, and formulate these laws based on what we see. It does not imply that someone had to think of them BEFORE they became a reality. Nature is what it is. Nature is not the product of any mind. And I don't need to postulate that in order to justify my beliefs.

Joe Hinman said...

This does get back to the original topic. What is the real basis of the laws of nature? Are they something that is decreed, and so might just as well be declared to be different one day, depending on the whims of the law-giver? Or are they simply a reflection of reality? You can go with the law-giver view, but I really don't see any convincing reason to think so.

The laws of nature are the product of a mind, as Joe notes. But that only means that we humans observe the reality, and formulate these laws based on what we see. It does not imply that someone had to think of them BEFORE they became a reality. Nature is what it is. Nature is not the product of any mind. And I don't need to postulate that in order to justify my beliefs.

Right that I don't imagine that God took a moment out of eternity and said to himself "I'shall create something called gravity that will attract something I will call objects to the center of mass,ooops better inevnt objects,

WE should not have to understand what it would be like inside the mind of God to know that higher functions of realty do call for mind as their basis, toward that end I'll be saying more about that next time.Right now I have a new post up so you best move on to that,

Mike Gerow said...


This does get back to the original topic. What is the real basis of the laws of nature? Are they something that is decreed, and so might just as well be declared to be different one day, depending on the whims of the law-giver?


Well not according to Hume and Russell,(who were both atheists) It's just that, according to them, there's no rational reason for the laws to stay the same, except its believed they've always done so in the past. But, in this context of justifying that assumption, that's merely question begging .... IOW, "well logically, things could just change someday and for no reason."

More recent philosophers like Quentin Meillasoux and Davd Chalmers have taken that even further too, suggested that things do happen (as in Chalmers's "strong emergence" concept ) like eg consciousness which couldn't have been predicted at all based on prior conditions.

im-skeptical said...

except its believed they've always done so in the past.

- That's good enough for me. If you suppose there's a reason to think the laws will ever change, you must know something I don't.

Mike Gerow said...

...well,, I dunno, maybe....Have you considered that 1.4 billion years isnt even really a statistically significant sample of "forever?"

But, no big whoop,....

im-skeptical said...

Trillions of years from now, I expect 1 + 1 will still be 2. Why should I think otherwise?

Mike Gerow said...

Well, we've raised a couple of issues with that on this very comment thread. Those being: (a) the difficulty of establishing physical laws as necessary or 'a priori' facts on the same order as maths and the existence of actual, physical 'chaotic unpredictability' as a possible indication that this is incorrect, and (b) along the lines of Joes point, if 1+1=2 always remains a 'fact' does that imply a 'knower?'

im-skeptical said...

if 1+1=2 always remains a 'fact' does that imply a 'knower?'

- What it implies is that it is a reality, and would continue to be one, independent of any mind. (Of course, the point of that statement, in the first place, is that a reality of that sort is no different from any other reality of the physical world.)

Mike Gerow said...

I don't think I understand. Would that suggest that 1's actually exist in the physical world .... in the same way as rocks and stars and black holes and twinkies?

***scratches head****


Or, your idea is that every fact of reality has some kind of necessity and couldn't be different than it is?

im-skeptical said...

I think the latter is more the case. Numbers are conceptual things that exist in minds. But underlying that is the reality of the world. The logic of how things work. Laws of nature are also just the same. We think of them as mathematical formulations, but underneath it all is reality, and that is independent of any mind.

7th Stooge said...

- What it implies is that it is a reality, and would continue to be one, independent of any mind. (Of course, the point of that statement, in the first place, is that a reality of that sort is no different from any other reality of the physical world.)

But it's possible for there to be physical worlds very different from this one in which 1+1 still ='s 2 in a way in which the opposite does not seem possible. The speed of light isn't anchored in necessity the way math truths are. So math truths don;t appear to be contingent on physical truths.

im-skeptical said...

The speed of light isn't anchored in necessity the way math truths are.

- You don't know that. All we know is the reality of our own world (or some aspect of it).

Mike Gerow said...

I think 7's point is that it might be POSSIBLE for everything to be "necessary" under some form of modal logic or another as long as it isn't S5 and so everything could be unchangeable, but it isn't *necessarily so, so it's only sort of a "weaker" form of necessity. We can still imagine possible worlds where things are different...

It's only a "possible" form of "necessity" and not a "necessary necessity", which strikes me as maybe an important distinction. Further, in the absence of evidence of the impossibility of other possibilities, we might as well go with our intuitive sense of things and say things could be different?

Hmmm, I dunno. Perhaps Ryan - who has more background in logic than me - will comment on this.

Joe Hinman said...

he speed of light isn't anchored in necessity the way math truths are.

- You don't know that. All we know is the reality of our own world (or some aspect of it).

Yes we do. The point of Principa Russell and Whitehead was to prove that math is based upon logic, Assuming they were right math truths are logical truths, Physics is is not based upon logic, it's merely empirical.

im-skeptical said...

Physics is is not based upon logic, it's merely empirical.

- What an ignorant statement. Logic and nature are two aspects of the same thing. It's called the reality of our world.

Joe Hinman said...

Dumbass. I am talking about the dichotomy between synthetic and a priori, see Kant,stupid,. see also Hume. Everyone knows this dub ass, everyone, super basic.Yes chicken pie we use logic in science but that does not mean we can work out the laws of physics with no reference to reality. We have to observe what happens then use logic in grounding our understanding of explanation. But we cannot just use laws of logic alone to figure out laws of nature.



Joe Hinman said...

There would be no need to test hypothesis if they could just be disproved by logic. That's not to say that there are not some that can be do disproved.

im-skeptical said...

But we cannot just use laws of logic alone to figure out laws of nature.

- Joe, how do you think we come to understand the laws of logic? If there isn't any magic man who implants them in our brain, we have to get them from some other source. In reality, we observe the way the physical world works, and we infer those laws, the same as we infer other physical laws. The laws of logic are physical. They are part of our physical reality.

Joe Hinman said...

Logic and nature are two aspects of the same thing.


no they are not, that is real stupid. very basic knowledge,

Joe Hinman said...

But we cannot just use laws of logic alone to figure out laws of nature.

- Joe, how do you think we come to understand the laws of logic? If there isn't any magic man who implants them in our brain, we have to get them from some other source.

that is really stupid. you are so ignorant and unread, totally uneducated,


In reality, we observe the way the physical world works, and we infer those laws, the same as we infer other physical laws. The laws of logic are physical. They are part of our physical reality.

Real stupid, if that was true then princia should say math is the basis of logic rather than the other way around. There are empirical bases or the most rudimentary executive principles but you can't build upon logic with then. Its obvious A = A is gleaned from looking at the world. But you can't use that to deuce inverse sure law

answer my question stupid why do they test hypotheses? why don't they just use logic on them?

Joe Hinman said...



Ihup,edu

QUOTE
s far as the propositions of mathematics refer to reality they are not certain, and so far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. —Albert Einstein (1879-1955) U. S. physicist, born in Germany.

Einstein (1879-1955) U. S. physicist, born in Germany.

The first philosopher.
© 2002 by John Holden.

Introduction

This chapter contains observations on the uses and misuses of logic, particularly in the sciences. Along the way we'll wander into the murky realms of absolute and proximate truths, deduction and induction and address the question of how we can have confidence in knowledge that is less than perfect.
We will use certain terms as scientists use them. For those not familiar with the language of science, we include here some fundamentals, so we'll all be starting with the same language.

Fact. An isolated piece of information about nature. It can be simply a measurement. Sometimes related facts are called "data".
Hypothesis. A proposition about nature that is testable, but not yet tested to the point of general acceptance.
Law. A statement describing how some phenomenon of nature behaves. Laws are generalizations from data. They express regularities and patterns in the data. A law is usually limited in scope, to describe a particular process of nature.
Theory. A model (usually mathematical) that links and unifies a broader range of phenomena, and that links and synthesizes the laws that describe those phenomena. In science we do not grant an idea the status of theory until its consequences have been very well tested and are generally accepted as correct by knowledgeable scientists. This meaning is very different from colloquial use of the word.CLOSE

Internet Encyclopedia of Phil

Quote>>>>>
The terms "a priori" and "a posteriori" are used primarily to denote the foundations upon which a proposition is known. A given proposition is knowable a priori if it can be known independent of any experience other than the experience of learning the language in which the proposition is expressed, whereas a proposition that is knowable La posteriori is known on the basis of experience. For example, the proposition that all bachelors are unmarried is a priori, and the proposition that it is raining outside now is a posteriori.

The distinction between the two terms is epistemological and immediately relates to the justification for why a given item of knowledge is held. For instance, a person who knows (a priori) that "All bachelors are unmarried" need not have experienced the unmarried status of all—or indeed any—bachelors to justify this proposition. By contrast, if I know that "It is raining outside," knowledge of this proposition must be justified by appealing to someone's experience of the weather.CLOSE Quote>>>>>

Joe Hinman said...

"A statement describing how some phenomenon of nature behaves. Laws are generalizations from data. They express regularities and patterns in the data. A law is usually limited in scope, to describe a particular process of nature."

notice is does not say taken from logic,taken from data means from observation not logic,

Mike Gerow said...

it's not quite that simple tho, since even the very concepts of the integers would only seem to make sense in terms of someone having had some experiences? IOW, one would seem to have to had experience of SOME stuff of SOME kind to realize empirically what one or two or three of any particular type of thing was in the first place, no?

When you dig into it, theories abound here. Katherine Malabou, for one, wrote a dense book about this-empiricism vs rationalism--centrued on Knat's Transcendental Deeduction in CPR that came out (in English) last summer and which I waded thru ... before giving her own spin, she summarized a lot of different positions and there were a lot...

im-skeptical said...

Instead of unleashing a barrage of ad hominem, why don't you try to understand what I'm saying? All your quotes about a priori and a posteriori don't change what I'm talking about. There would be no rules of logic if we hadn't first observed the reality of the world. All a priori reasoning is based on those logical rules, which are themselves inferred by a posteriori reasoning. It is how logic is grounded. This is something that Mike seems to recognize. And there's nothing about it that is fundamentally unreasonable or irrational.

Mike Gerow said...

The laws of logic are physical.

In some sense, Joe seems to have it backwards above and Russell and Whitehead's "Principia" was actually precisely an effort to show maths COULD be reduced to a formal system--IOW defined by to a set of rules for manipulating symbols that would be executable by some kind of (um,"mindless")combinatorial-type machinery that would not need to "know" what any of the symbolic logic actually "meant" but only follow the rules. IOW, a set of procedures operated by a purely physical system....

This was thought by many at the time to show that the human mind could (and did!) operate mathematically in a purely "physical" space that is analogous to (or even existing as some sort of) biologically-based combinatorial-type machine. Is thatthe sort of thing you meant above, skep?

Okay, nothing new ....BUT!!! ....

Kurt Goedel's famous proofs of "FORMAL [my emph]Undecidability" was whata sabotaged this idea. G's proof demonstrated that any "Principia"-like first-order logic system for modelling the integers would also be able to express self-referential statements that would cause such a combinatorial machine as postulated above to stumble of crash. It could not be processed (not without extra and special programming anyway). by such a device. Nevertheless HUMANS could still derive the "point" of the statement that G concocted (which is kinda like the well-known Liars Paradox in English--"This statement is a lie") . For Goedel, this showed the mathematics-processing ability in humans did not stem from it being any sort of built-in combinatorial device....

Or, kinda like that....

K? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_incompleteness_theorems

Mike Gerow said...

There would be no rules of logic if we hadn't first observed the reality of the world. All a priori reasoning is based on those logical rules, which are themselves inferred by a posteriori reasoning. It is how logic is grounded. This is something that Mike seems to recognize.

No, that's taking it a bit too far for me. I'm not sure rules of logic do arise "a posteriori," and they could be inborn somehow. But I also think there would seem to be some need for some kind of experiences of SOMETHING, perhaps not to "develop" them in the first place, but possibly more like to "recognize them" -- to understand what they really meant?

This is getting to be quite dubious, tricky territory judging from the debates i've read before!

Mike Gerow said...

Dumbass. I am talking about the dichotomy between synthetic and a priori, see Kant,stupid,. see also Hume. Everyone knows this dub ass, everyone, super basic.Yes chicken pie we use logic in science but that does not mean we can work out the laws of physics with no reference to reality. We have to observe what happens then use logic in grounding our understanding of explanation. But we cannot just use laws of logic alone to figure out laws of nature.

hahahah! :-O

(No disrespect, skep, it's just a funny post!)

im-skeptical said...

Kurt Goedel's famous proofs of "FORMAL [my emph]Undecidability" was whata sabotaged this idea.

- I don't see the relevance. perhaps you could explain furhter.


I'm not sure rules of logic do arise "a posteriori," and they could be inborn somehow. But I also think there would seem to be some need for some kind of experiences of SOMETHING, perhaps not to "develop" them in the first place, but possibly more like to "recognize them"

- That's what I'm saying. We need to experience the world to see and understand how logic works. It's not that we create that reality. We discover it through observation, the same way we discover the laws of physics.


(No disrespect, skep, it's just a funny post!)

- I can't argue with that.

Mike Gerow said...

skep, Godel's proof suggests perhaps that the human mind doesn't work like a computer since it can resolve mathematical formula that stump any not-specifically-prepared-for-it combinatorial system ...if that's what you meant by "logic is physical" that logic was modelled physically in the brain ... Godel was a theist and Platonist along the lines of Joe but his platonic interpretation of his result is more controversial than his logic or math skills to say the least...

Joe Hinman said...

Nothing in any of that yeasty at laws of physics are logically deiced,they are not everyone knows it,I quoted experts saying it. you lose dumb ass because you have no counter quote,

Joe Hinman said...

There would be no rules of logic if we hadn't first observed the reality of the world. All a priori reasoning is based on those logical rules, which are themselves inferred by a posteriori reasoning. It is how logic is grounded. This is something that Mike seems to recognize. And there's nothing about it that is fundamentally unreasonable or irrational.


I already covered that it's totality valiant to my original statement the one you went on your hyssy fit over, that does not mean physical laws are derived from deductive logic,we know Newton didn't do that because he writes about his observations,

Mike Gerow said...

That's what I'm saying. We need to experience the world to see and understand how logic works. It's not that we create that reality. We discover it through observation, the same way we discover the laws of physics.

I'd say we "create" reality moreso than discover it. (Tho the real truth is likely some of both.) I mean that in the sense that when we look around a living room we usually see chairs, cups, and curtains (eg) instead of wood, clay and cotton. IOW, our perceptions are usually biased towards the way we USE things as opposed (perhaps) to recognizing their non-anthropomorphic and perhaps more objective qualities, if that makes sense....so, one of the problems with science as a mode of truth might even be that science is expected to "work" which is to say provide us with more convenience and comfort along the way, while simultaneously "enlightening" us.

Well, how bout that? ....as Dana Carvey's Church Lady might say: "HOW CONV-EE-E-E-IENT!!"

On the other topic, what you say seems questionable since how could we understand how logic works by (pure) observation unless we already had at least some idea how logic worked to go by? There has to be at least a built in, natural capacity, no? ....tho, of course, you might argue we even "learned" those innate things over time by trial and error, i.e. as a species thru-out our evolutionary history.

In any case, when we learn, say, 2+2=4, it COULD be that all we need to learn is the definitions of '2' '4' '+' and '=', and we already innately know the truth of the result, and the same with modus ponens and the "laws" of logic, except more so....

im-skeptical said...

you lose dumb ass because you have no counter quote

- That is so typical of you, Joe. Agrumentum ad quotemine. The thing is, the quotes you mine often don't apply to or don't successfully answer the issue at hand. But you think if you can find a quote, you've won the argument. I guess it's easier for you than THINKING.

Mike Gerow said...

Or, to put my objection another way, the scientist experiences his or herself as a free subject objectively observing results and making judgements. But ironically, THE SCIENCE ITSELF (takng the form of neuroscience) denies this rather vehemently, and makes the claim, that there is no free-standing "self" capable of an objective viewpoint like that, but only a brain, which is only another part of the universe not so different from any other, and really just a sort of combinatorial machine designed by evolution to achieve evolution's goals.

And there is no reason to believe "learning the truth" is one of those goals of evolution. As best we can tell, evolutionary drives only program us to pursue things like comfort, plenty, security, and propagation -for a set of behaviours collectively called "the 4 F's" sometimes - and not for truth-seeking.

So, this shows what someone called the anthropocentric bias of scientism....?

im-skeptical said...

I'd say we "create" reality moreso than discover it

- That is the preferred method of those who despise science.


how could we understand how logic works by (pure) observation unless we already had at least some idea how logic worked to go by?

- How does a baby learn language, when he has nothing to go by? He observes patterns (of sounds and expressions), he fits those with the rest of his observances, he pieces them together, and begins to make sense of them. It's slow at first, but it does eventually come together. That is a far more difficult process than observing some basic logical realities. Like if you place one object behind a barrier, then you don't see more than one coming out. These are simple realities, but they still must be observed and fitted into the child's framework of understanding.


when we learn, say, 2+2=4, it COULD be that all we need to learn is the definitions of '2' '4' '+' and '=', and we already innately know the truth of the result, and the same with modus ponens and the "laws" of logic, except more so....

- There is ZERO evidence to support that, and plenty to refute it. Of course, simple logical laws like modus ponens are so basic, they are natural. Take a switching transistor Assert signal A (input) and signal B (output) will be asserted. That's natural and mechanical - modus ponens as part of physical reality. But a human mind must still observe things like that to incorporate them into its cognitive model of reality.

Joe Hinman said...

- How does a baby learn language, when he has nothing to go by? He observes patterns (of sounds and expressions), he fits those with the rest of his observances, he pieces them together, and begins to make sense of them. It's slow at first, but it does eventually come together. That is a far more difficult process than observing some basic logical realities. Like if you place one object behind a barrier, then you don't see more than one coming out. These are simple realities, but they still must be observed and fitted into the child's framework of understanding.



there's a huge amount of evidence that language is genetic, Chomsky argued that its the basis of generative grammar. It's backed by a bunch of studies.

skep your thinking is circular and chaotic, you are sadly out of touch with real research,

Joe Hinman said...

m-skeptical said...
you lose dumb ass because you have no counter quote

- That is so typical of you, Joe. Agrumentum ad quotemine. The thing is, the quotes you mine often don't apply to or don't successfully answer the issue at hand. But you think if you can find a quote, you've won the argument. I guess it's easier for you than THINKING.


still don't understand the concept of documented your stupid opinions, and they are stupid, you are so unlearned suss a fool, you think all you need to do is make pronouncement and worship science and its guaranteed because you have science in your head so you have to be right,

Joe Hinman said...

look stupid I quoted the source saying laws of physics are not made by logic but are made by observation a posteriori, you lose,you ware wrong,the authority says it you are not the authority your worship of science does not save you.your pinons are not sanctified by your severeness for science,

Mike Gerow said...

I think if your argument for me is just "you must be one of those who despise science", when all my arguments are CITING a whole bunch of science, then you've demonstrated an ideological "faith" in science that (1) most real scientists would find inappropriate and (2) also really backs up Joes claims that you are scientismistic, holding to "science" in a way similar to a religious fundamentalist's belief in "God."

So, I dunno....

im-skeptical said...

look stupid I quoted the source saying laws of physics are not made by logic but are made by observation a posteriori, you lose,you ware wrong,

- So you quote something that agrees 100% with what I say, and you think you have defeated my argument? Sorry Joe. Maybe if you bothered to try to understand what I'm saying, you would realize that your stupid quotemines are not doing the trick. But first, you have to understand my points, AND you have to understand your quotes. As far as I can see, you understand neither. You are so shallow in your thinking.

Mike Gerow said...

- How does a baby learn language, when he has nothing to go by? He observes patterns (of sounds and expressions), he fits those with the rest of his observances, he pieces them together, and begins to make sense of them. It's slow at first, but it does eventually come together. That is a far more difficult process than observing some basic logical realities. Like if you place one object behind a barrier, then you don't see more than one coming out. These are simple realities, but they still must be observed and fitted into the child's framework of understanding.


....and still,mif there was no innate capacity involved, why would dogs, chickens, worms and (for that matter) trees also learn languages?

****roll eyes ****

im-skeptical said...

....and still,mif there was no innate capacity involved, why would dogs, chickens, worms and (for that matter) trees also learn languages?

****roll eyes ****


- There is a capacity to learn. Humans have a greater capacity than animals, although you should be aware that even animals have some capacity to learn language (if not to speak it) and communicate with humans. Nevertheless, it must be learned. It isn't built in to our cognitive model. Same for logical relationships.

im-skeptical said...

So, this shows what someone called the anthropocentric bias of scientism....?

- I'm curious exactly what this is supposed to mean. In what way is there an anthropocentric bias? Could you elaborate on that. I'd like to provide a detailed response.

Mike Gerow said...

How about the capacity to learn in itself?

a lot more may be "built in" than you think and organisms less "blank slates" than you seem to assume. Even tho that can be a bleak thought in some ways,yeah. Some aspects of Epigenetic theory in Evo-biology, however, study exactly the ways learned behaviours in one generation can become genetic, be passed down into descendants....

--"Studies on mice have shown that certain conditional fears can be inherited from either parent. In one example, mice were conditioned to fear a strong scent, acetophenone, by accompanying the smell with an electric shock. Consequently, the mice learned to fear the scent of acetophenone alone. It was discovered that this fear could be passed down to the mice offspring. Despite the offspring never experiencing the electric shock themselves the mice still display a fear of the acetophenone scent, because they inherited the fear epigenetically by site-specific DNA methylation. These epigenetic changes lasted up to two generations without reintroducing the shock."

Of course, it's also possible that behaviours could be switched off and unlearned across genrerations too. Reality is complicated.....

im-skeptical said...

what do you mean by "the anthropocentric bias of scientism"?

Mike Gerow said...

So, this shows what someone called the anthropocentric bias of scientism....?

- I'm curious exactly what this is supposed to mean. In what way is there an anthropocentric bias? Could you elaborate on that. I'd like to provide a detailed response.


(1) Well, you give the basic concept yourself on your blog when you say ... "Science works" .... Ie science provides comforts and security, science allows us to satiate our desires. As well as providing a path to knowledge.

Well what, in that claim that "science works", also makes science a good mechanism for pursuing some potentially quite different goal called "the truth?"

You'll get a pretty strong counterargument from any good buddhist, eg, that satiating desire will NOT lead to either knowledge OR real happiness. In that sense, science's dual goals--"please mankind while simultaneously educating them"--could turn out to be contradictory.

(2) evolutionistically, our brains are designed to help us pursue pleasures, safety, have lotsa food &!lotsa offspring, and basically engage in the kinds of behaviours known collectively as the 4 F's, rather than for detached "understandings" of our greater surroundings. We are also designed to include a self-model, ie an ego, that tends to make each of us overestimate our own significance for the benefit of evolutionary propagation.

But where, in evolutionary theory, do you see how we would have developed the capacity to step back, be objective, and "understand the universe" in the first place? . Our brains do not provde a space outside the universe from which we can observe it; we're not Angels only parts of the system, as determined by environment, and not essentially different from any other bit....

im-skeptical said...

I hope I have addressed your questions. Full response here.

7th Stooge said...

- That's what I'm saying. We need to experience the world to see and understand how logic works. It's not that we create that reality. We discover it through observation, the same way we discover the laws of physics.

Yes we need to experience the world to know logic but our experience of the world is not what makes it true or valid. Discovery isn't the same as justification.