allzermalmer

Truth suffers from too much analysis

Posts Tagged ‘Epistemology’

Debasing Demon

Posted by allzermalmer on April 5, 2017

The concept of Knowledge is taken to contain a few things. It contains Truth, Belief, & Justification. Suppose it is true that the University of North Carolina won NCAA Basketball championship. Suppose that you believe that the University of North Carolina won NCAA Basketball championship. Suppose that you are justified in believing that the University of North Carolina won NCAA Basketball championship. This means that you know that the University of North Carolina won NCAA Basketball championship.

One Demon of Knowledge, or Epistemology, is the Evil Demon presented by Descartes. The demon makes that which is true to appear false, which also means those things that are false now appear to be true things. So Demon makes it appear that it is false that the University of North Carolina won NCAA Basketball championship. This, in turn, means the demon makes it appear that true the University of Gonzaga won NCAA championship. The Evil Demon attacks the Truth condition of knowledge.

The Debasing Demon of Knowledge attacks the Justification condition of knowledge. In this case, the Demon will make it appear as if have a justification for the belief that the University of North Carolina won NCAA Basketball championship. The demon does not affect the truth condition, so it is still true that North Carolina won the championship. The only thing the demon affects is the justification portion of knowledge. It makes it false that you have justification for knowledge claim, but it appears as if you do have a justification for knowledge claim.

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Defense of Skepticism

Posted by allzermalmer on December 28, 2013

This post is based on a paper that was done for a class on epistemology. The paper was about a paper called “A Defense of Skepticism“, authored by Peter Unger, and appeared in the philosophical journal A Philosophical Review, Vol. 80, No. 2 (Apr., 1971), pp. 198-219.

“Both propositions of “Forty-five  plus fifty-six is the same as one hundred and one” and “45+56=101” are propositions that hardly anyone knows, under Peter Unger’s skeptical thesis. Under the skeptical thesis presented by Unger, most people don’t know those propositions are true, though some might, & those people that don’t know those propositions are true typically talk as if those propositions are true. In fact, it will be given that there are a great many propositions that we may reasonably believe or a great many propositions that we may suppose to be true, while never knowing them to be true.

Unger’s skepticism wants to deals within common idea of language and knowledge. Skepticism presented by Unger deals with language, since that is the background in which some philosophers believe that they have solved some skeptical problems about knowledge. For example, the common idea of language and knowledge that Unger is working under is that the language we speak is adequate at expressing truths. From this common idea, Unger presents idea of how our language habits possibly serve us well in practical ways, while these language habits have us saying what’s false rather than true.

Our language habits that involve positive assertions contain special features that Unger want’s to point out, and which also motivates his skeptical thesis. There are absolute terms within our languages or language habits, and some of these absolute terms are basic. From these basic absolute terms, we may build up other absolute terms. Examples of absolute terms are both “flat” and “certain”. The proposition “That is a cube” involves the basic absolute term of “flat”, since a cube’s surface is flat. If we don’t know a basic absolute term of “flat”, then we can’t know what is built up from those basic absolute terms, which is “That is a cube”.

“That is a cube” is a proposition that many people might reasonably believe, or “The road is flat”. But the basic absolute term of “flat” generally fails to apply to the world. A cube is a geometrical object which has no width or depth. However, those objects that we generally come across do have width or depth. So those objects that we call “cubes” aren’t something that applies to the world. We may talk as if “That is a cube” or “The road is flat”. It is reasonable to suppose or believe that they are true. From whatever is built, or has any part of, of that basic absolute term would also generally be false.

The skepticism presented by Unger implies some things that might be deemed impossible to accept, since it would imply something about the functioning of our language. It would attack a common idea about language being adequate to express truth. Unger’s thesis would have it that common terms of language involve the use of error systematically in expressing truth. Two common terms that would be found to use error systematically would be “know” and “knowledge”. While we believe what we say is true, what we believe is actually false.

Suppose that an individual believes that “this region of space is a vacuum” is true. Now further suppose that contrary to the individual’s belief, “this region of space isn’t a vacuum” since “this region of space has the slightest trace elements of gaseous stuff”. Now further suppose that for practical purposes principle, there isn’t an important difference whether you falsely believe the first supposition or truly believes the second supposition, i.e. “this region of space has the slightest trace elements of gaseous stuff”.

One might think that the first supposition implies the practical purpose principle, since there is no important difference. Things would go on as we practically expected with the region of space being a vacuum, since if the region is a vacuum then whatever gaseous content it has is none. Even giving such a thought, there is still something that is unique. The second supposition doesn’t imply the practical purpose principle. The principle may be derived from the first supposition and can’t be derived from the second supposition. In other words, from “this region of space is a vacuum” we can derive that the region of space doesn’t contain any gaseous elements or doesn’t practically contain any gaseous elements. The practical result of the first supposition would show that there aren’t any gaseous elements, so the practical result would have been no gaseous elements. However, by the second supposition, wouldn’t practically show up as a result. So our belief can still be reasonably supposed true, even though false.

The example given above is to help point out that we can have false beliefs, even though the beliefs are reasonable, and they don’t clash with experiences of life, or way we experience the world. We can have many false beliefs, based on some of the account that was given above. The practical purpose would come from positive assertions, since the first supposition was a positive assertion and the second assertion was a negative assertion. From the positive assertion we were able to derive the practical purpose principle, and we couldn’t derive the practical purpose principle from the negative assertion. The individual isn’t in position to determine if the region of space contains gaseous elements, given the practical limitation that was given from the derived principle from first supposition.

Those terms of knowledge belong to a class of terms in our language, and these are those absolute terms. “Flat” is an absolute term, so saying that “a surface is flat” is also saying that matters of degree are not instanced in the surface to any degree. Being flat means no degrees of being bumpy or having a curve, i.e. perfectly flat. “Bumpy” and “curve” are taken as examples of relative terms, and so we notice that there is some connection between absolute terms and relative terms.

Relative terms and some absolute terms, specifically those of basic absolute terms, have the special ability of being modified by many different terms. We can take a term such as “very”, can be applied to either relative terms or basic absolute terms, and we can obtain something like “the table is very bumpy” or “the table is very flat”. These modifications of either the relative term or basic absolute term are one based on matters or degree, or indicate matters of degree.

“Cube” is an absolute term, even though it isn’t a basic absolute term. This is because “Cube” is built up off of the absolute term of “flat” & “straight”. “Cube” doesn’t admit of matter of degree, even though the basic absolute terms used to build up the term do admit to matter of degree. In other words, it takes two basic absolute terms of “flat” and “straight” to build up the absolute term of “cube” & “cube” doesn’t allow for matter of degree while “straight” and “flat” do allow for matter of degree. Not all absolute terms can be modified by matters of degree, but some like “flat” or “straight” can be, and all relative terms can be modified by matters of degrees.

Some might think to take basic absolute terms as the same relative terms, but this won’t do. There is a special distinction between both types of terms when it comes to matter of degrees. When we say that “a surface is very flat” or “a surface is very bumpy”, we are saying how flat the surface is or how bumpy the surface is. Intuitively, there is a difference between these two. Flat being an absolute term, it has an ultimate location in which we may judge things. We are saying how close the surface is to being flat. We have perfectly flat, which is what the absolute term of flat means, and saying it is very flat allows us to say how close it is being perfectly flat since we have the index of perfectly flat to compare it with.

When it comes to relative terms, like “a surface is very bumpy”, since “a surface is bumpy” implies “a surface is very bumpy”. However, from “a surface is very bumpy” we can’t derive that “a surface is bumpy” because might be that the surface isn’t bumpy at all. We notice an asymmetry, and this comes from an intuitive level. Something would seem strange in our common language to express “a surface is bumpy” and deny that “a surface is very bumpy” is implied, or “a surface is very bumpy” and affirm that “a surface is bumpy”.

Either both the first surface is flat and the second surface is not flat or both the first surface is closer to being flat than the second surface. This is a more complex way in which Unger deals with the matter of degrees when they are applied to basic absolute terms. This helps to change things so that when we deal with relative terms and matter of degree, the same interpretation of common language doesn’t hold.

Basic absolute terms can at least be partially defined by relative terms, or the matter of degree terms. And since absolute terms are defined by basic absolute terms, this in turn means that absolute terms that aren’t basic absolute terms are also partially defined by relative terms. These relative terms help to point out the negative accept of the skeptical thesis presented by Unger. For supposing that “flat” is a basic absolute term, which is defined in part by a relative term, means that something isn’t flat at all, or not in the least, bumpy. This is the negative relative requirement that basic absolute terms have to meet when partially defined by relative terms.

Absolute terms and Relative terms are both part of our language, but we also have things that are part of our language that are neither absolute terms nor relative terms. Some of these terms are unmarried or married, true and false, or right and wrong. But Unger points out that some of these terms can be taken as “absolute” in some language.

Some terms of our language are followed by propositional clauses, and we may call these terms propositional terms. So one might wonder, are these propositional terms, like “certain”, absolute or relative terms. A term like “certain” has two things that need to be made clear about them, or interpretations that may be given to it. (1) Certain in which certain is not certain of anything, or (2) certain in which certain is certain of something. An example of (1) is “It is certain that it is raining”, since the term “it” doesn’t appear to have any reference. This is the impersonal context, which is the impersonal idea of certainty. An example of (2) is “He is certain that it is raining”, since the term “he” does appear to have a reference. This is the personal context, which is the personal idea of certainty.

Unger believes that certainty has to contain both of those conditions; it is both impersonal certainty and personal certainty. What comes from each of these on their own is that certainty involves no doubt. So we get that “If certain that p then isn’t doubtful that p” with impersonal certainty. With personal certainty we get that, “In his mind, if he’s certain that p then isn’t doubtful that p.” All doubt is absent in his mind.

Certain are now connected negative definitions of certainty, which is an absolute term. Certainty or Certain are common concepts with language, and they are built on absolute term which has a negative definition.

When an individual says that he is certain that p, they are saying they aren’t confident of p & more than confident of p. If they say they are confident that p then they are saying they are confident that p. So there is a difference between an individual being certain and being confident. So you can be as confident as you want because of the highest reasonable belief.

Take these two propositions, either (1) “He’s (really) very certain of p” or (2) “he’s very certain of p”. The second proposition says more about certainty than the first proposition. The second proposition gets ride of one matter of degree. Each of these modifiers is saying that they aren’t certain, but one less degree of modifiers saying that they aren’t certain. This might seem implausible at first, but there has been a pattern in which to place our languages of language to express truth.

Someone saying that “I’m more certain that p than I am that q” is the same as “I am either certain that p while not certain that q or I’m more nearly certain that p than I am that q”. The first part of the disjunction tells us that either p or q is certain and it was proposition p. The second disjunction tells us that aren’t certain of either proposition and one is of a higher degree that the other. However, someone saying that I’m more confident that p than I am that q” isn’t the same as “I’m either both confident that p and not confident that q or I’m more nearly confident that p than q.”, since confident of both.

Given these expositions of propositional terms, absolute terms v. relative terms, basic absolute terms, impersonal certainty v. personal certainty, we can come to skepticism about many things that we reasonably believe. It can be taken that “lots of surfaces of physical things are flat” is a reasonable belief. But this comes to contradict the experience of life. We take a microscope and we start to examine those objects that we commonly come upon, and we start to notice that they aren’t flat. They take on the form of being bumpy. So now the absolute term is one that is false and yet for practical purposes it is true. The absolute term was even a reasonable belief that is or was held.

One of the basic problems of absolute terms is that there are counter-examples to them, and the absolute terms are part of language to express truth. These absolute terms, at least basic ones, are shown to be false by experiences of life. However, these terms are very useful and they do express some truth. Absolute terms have reason to doubt, since we do have a counter-example. Most absolute terms would have counter-examples, but that doesn’t mean that all absolute terms have counter-examples.

Going back to previous example, experience of life presents what seems to be a smooth stone & look through a microscope at the smooth stone. The smooth stone is found to actually be bumpy, which means that it isn’t smooth. To account for the stone being bumpy, an inference to the best explanation could be used. It could be that the smoothness is built up from the finer part of the stone which has small bumps. It can further be better explained that the bumps are made of something even smaller, like atoms, which combine in a certain way in which smooth stone is final outcome, while there are no smooth stones in the combination to begin with, i.e. neither atoms are smooth nor atoms are stones. This belief would have plenty of evidence, and be a reasonable belief. However, the degrees of “deeper” explanations to account for the counter-example can eventually end in an absolute matter where there is no counter-example to be found. So we eventually come to the point that we should suspend judgment on this issue. We don’t know either.

The real sting of Unger’s skepticism comes down to this form: If person is certain of p, then not anything of which the person is more certain. So the individual can be certain of p, which means that person isn’t as certain, i.e. isn’t certain, of q. This comes back to this point, if more certain of another thing, then either certain of other while and not being certain of first or more nearly certain of other thing than of the first. Suppose that it is logically possible that there’s something an individual might be more certain of than they are now of a given thing, then the person wasn’t really certain to begin with.

Is it reasonable to believe that there are automobiles? It would seem to be an experience of life. However, a dilemma can be presented to them. Either more certain that there are automobiles or aren’t. This can be because someone is more certain that they exist than certain automobiles are an experience of life. Since they are more certain that they exist, then certain that they exist and aren’t certain that automobiles exist. So when someone is presented with something that they think they are more certain of than another, they are saying that they aren’t certain of second. If they hold open that what they hold to be more certain can possibly be false, then they aren’t certain of it to begin with, either.

So from this, we can know one thing, but most everything else that we think we are certain of isn’t certain of. So we can hold that we are more certain of our own existence than of 45+56=101. For practical purposes though, we are certain that 45+56=101. This would be us having a reasonable belief without it being true, i.e. certain that 45+56=101. Even something like some basic arithmetic can fall for skepticism, even though it is not a universal skepticism in which no one knows anything.

The skepticism that Unger presents deals with knowledge being certain, which has also been a common idea of epistemology. However, some suppose that knowledge requires just belief, or at least reasonable belief such that, if both believe that p implies know that p & believe that p implies p then p implies know that p. This would appear to lead to omniscience, which seems to contradict experience of life. So such a supposition would be an absolute term which is false but practically useful. This belief is reasonable is because it meets certain conditions, which helps allow us to say that we have knowledge. However, these conditions don’t exclude having a false belief.

So Unger’s skepticism is an attack on language is capable of expressing truth. Unger holds that language is capable of expressing truth, but that it also systematically expresses error as well. Language relies on positive assertions, which require negative definitions. These definitions are based on absolute terms that are basic, while there are absolute terms that aren’t basic and there are relative terms. The basic absolute terms help to define absolute terms that aren’t basic. These basic absolute terms end up having counter-examples. Our common way of expressing language would have error.

One of the words that we use for knowledge is “certain”, which is an absolute term. However, based on the definition of being certain, there can only be one thing that we are certain about. So we may use the knowledge term of certain, or that we have knowledge, but we truly don’t have knowledge. The skepticism that Unger presents show there isn’t much of knowledge that we have, since there isn’t much that we are certain about, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have any knowledge. Unger’s skeptical thesis is consistent that we don’t know anything, but it doesn’t imply that we don’t know anything. We just know less than we say that we know or we are more certain of one thing than we are of another, or we aren’t certain at all.”

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Source of Knowledge and Epistemology

Posted by allzermalmer on September 23, 2013

It will be assumed that there are only two sources for knowledge. These sources are both Cognition and Senses.

It will be assumed that each source of knowledge has three possible truth values to be attached to it. The truth values are always true, sometimes true, and never true.

From these two assumptions we are able to derive different epistemological systems that can take on any of these sources or truth values.

1. For all sources of knowledge, if knowledge source is Cognition then knowledge source is always true & if knowledge source is Senses then knowledge source is always true.

2. For all sources of knowledge, if knowledge source is Cognition then knowledge source is always true & if knowledge source is Senses then knowledge source is sometimes true.

3. For all sources of knowledge, if knowledge source is Cognition then knowledge source is always true & if knowledge source is Senses then knowledge source is never true.

4. For all sources of knowledge, if knowledge source is Cognition then knowledge source is sometimes true & if knowledge source is Senses then knowledge source is always true.

5. For all sources of knowledge, if knowledge source is Cognition then knowledge source is sometimes true & if knowledge source is Senses then knowledge source is sometimes true.

6. For all sources of knowledge, if knowledge source is Cognition then knowledge source is sometimes true & if knowledge source is Senses then knowledge source is never true.

7. For all sources of knowledge, if knowledge source is Cognition then knowledge source is never true & if knowledge source is Senses then knowledge source is always true.

8. For all sources of knowledge, if knowledge source is Cognition then knowledge source is never true & if knowledge source is Senses then knowledge source is sometimes true.

9. For all sources of knowledge, if knowledge source is Cognition then knowledge source is never true & if knowledge source is Senses then knowledge source is never true.

It should be made immediately clear that (2) and (4), and (3) and (7), and (6) and (8), are the converse of one another.

It should be made immediately clear that (1) and (9) are contrary to one another, since both may be false but both can’t be true.

It should be made clear that (1) and (5), and (5) and (9) are both contradictory, since both can’t be false but one can be true.  Either (1) or (5) or (9) are true.

Those epistemological hypothesis, like those of (2)-(8), all are fallible. They are sometimes true. It can be supposed that there are different degrees contained within those epistemological hypothesis.

For example, it may be supposed that since some truth comes one of the two sources and that 99% is true or that 1% is true from one of the two sources.

Here is an example of fallibility, i.e. sometimes true, and different degrees of truth contained within it.  Suppose that X stands for Cognition or Senses but not both together.

For all knowledge, if knowledge source is X then knowledge source is 99% true
For all knowledge, if knowledge source is X then knowledge source is 89% true
For all knowledge, if knowledge source is X then knowledge source is 79% true
For all knowledge, if knowledge source is X then knowledge source is 69% true
For all knowledge, if knowledge source is X then knowledge source is 59% true
For all knowledge, If knowledge source is X then knowledge source is 49% true
For all knowledge, if knowledge source is X then knowledge source is 39% true
For all knowledge, if knowledge source is X then knowledge source is 29% true
For all knowledge, if knowledge source is X then knowledge source is 19% true
For all knowledge, if knowledge source is X then knowledge source is 9% true
For all knowledge, if knowledge source is X then knowledge source is 1% true.

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Different Models of both Knowledge & Epistemology

Posted by allzermalmer on September 20, 2013

One of the differences in epistemology are different theories of knowledge. Renee Descartes helped to present one theory of knowledge, which followed a general form of Rationalism. There is another general form known as Empiricism.

We shall have two Categories and three Truth-values.

Category 1: Cognitive or Cognition
Truth Value: Either Cognition is always true or Cognition is sometimes true & sometimes false or Cognition is always false.

Category 2: Sensory or Senses
Truth Value: Either Senses are always true or Senses are sometimes true & sometimes false or Senses are always false.

Now we can combine both of these categories together to form Both Cognition & Senses, apply the Truth Values, and derive 9 different Models of Epistemology or Knowledge.

Hypothesis *1:
Both cognition is always true & senses are always true.
Both senses are always true & cognition is always true.

Hypothesis *2:
Both cognition is always true & senses are sometimes true and sometimes false.
Both senses are sometimes true and sometimes false & cognition is always true.

Hypothesis *3:
Both cognition is always true & senses are always false.
Both senses are always false & cognition is always true.

Hypothesis 1*:
Both cognition is sometimes true and sometimes false & senses are always true.
Both senses are always true & cognition is sometimes true and sometimes false.

Hypothesis 2*:
Both cognition is sometimes true and sometimes false & senses are sometimes true and sometimes false.
Both senses are sometimes true and sometimes false & cognition is sometimes true and sometimes false.

Hypothesis 3*:
Both cognition is sometimes true and sometimes false & senses are always false.
Both senses are always false & cognition is sometimes true and sometimes false.

Hypothesis *1*:
Both cognition is always false & senses are always true.
Both senses are always true & cognition is always false.

Hypothesis *2*:
Both cognition is always false & senses are sometimes true and sometimes false.
Both senses are sometimes true and sometimes false & cognition is always false.

Hypothesis *3*:
Both cognition is always false & senses are always false.
Both senses are always false & cognition is always false.

These models of knowledge, or epistemology, exhaust all logically possible positions given only these two categories and these three truth values. Some possible subdivisions could be made, especially when either categories, or both, take on the truth value of sometimes true and sometimes false.

One basic idea is that cognition, under Rationalism, would always be true & senses, under empiricism, would always be true.

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Fallacy of Evidentialism

Posted by allzermalmer on August 18, 2013

There are two philosophers, who are taken to be generally representative of Evidentialism. These two philosophers are David Hume and C.K. Clifford. These two philosophers have two quotes that are examplars of their Evidentialism thesis. They are, respectively, as follows.

“A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence…when at last [a wise man] fixes his judgement, the evidence exceeds not what we properly call probability.” – David Hume in “Of Miracles” (Italics are Hume’s)

“We may believe what goes beyond our experience, only when it is inferred from that experience by the assumption that what we do not know is like what we know…It is wrong in all cases to believe on insufficient evidence” – W.K. Clifford in “The Ethics of Belief

Thomas Huxley,

Huxluy Evidence

Those quotes from these three writers are taken as representative of Evidentialism, and thus the Evidentialist Principle. The statements they make might appear to carry some validity & they might even seem to be sound.

However, Karl Popper holds that they are not valid. He also doesn’t hold that they are sound. They even contradict all empirical systems or all empirical propositions. They forbid us from ever believing or holding to any empirical system or empirical proposition, they forbid us from ever believing or holding to any scientific hypothesis or scientific proposition. But the problem of Induction applies to both the truth of this matter of fact assertion and the probability of the truth of this matter of fact assertion.

Both of the propositions contain signs of being based on Induction. Hume points out that a wise man will fix their judgements on a proposition when the evidence indicates that it is probable. Clifford points out that we may infer from experience what goes beyond our experience, but this is based on hypothesis that unknown is similar to the known.

Both of the propositions show that Evidentialism is founded on Induction, or inductive inferences.

Hume, supposedly, showed that it is logically impossible to infer the unknown from the known. It is logically impossible to derive the unknown from the known. Thus, Evidentialism is founded on a logical impossibility.

“The problem of the source of our knowledge has recently been restated as follows. If we make an assertion, we must justify it; but this means that we must be able to answer the following questions.

How do you know? What are the sources of your assertion?’ This, the empiricist holds, amounts in its turn to the question,

‘What observations (or memories of observations) underlie your assertion?’ I find this string of questions quite unsatisfactory.” – Karl Popper in “The Sources of Knowledge and Ignorance

Popper presents the Evidentialist Principle, in that quote, as saying that “If we make an assertion, we must justify it“. If you make an assertion, then you must justify it, or making an assertion implies must justify the assertion. You would have to answer one question, ‘How do you know? What are the sources of your assertion?’, and have to answer another question, ‘What observations (or memories of observations) underlie your assertion?’. 

As Popper points out, the Evidentialist Principle is an answer to The Problem of Source of Knowledge. So we may suppose that Evidentialism and Induction are to be based on the Source of a proposition or an empirical proposition. It seeks that the source of a proposition to be justified.

Criticizing or discrediting a proposition because of the source has some similarity to the Genetic Fallacy: “if the critic attempts to discredit or support a claim or an argument because of its origin (genesis) when such an appeal to origins is irrelevant.”

With the Genetic Fallacy, a proposition is being discredited, or supported, because it is “paying too much attention to the genesis of the idea rather than to the reasons offered for it”. The origin, or source, of the proposition is used to discredit, or support, the proposition.

Evidentialism would discredit a proposition because the source of the proposition is without justification.

We also find that David Hume presents an example of the questions that Popper finds to be unsatisfactory.

“All reasonings concerning matter of fact seem to be founded on the relation of cause and effect. By means of that relation alone we can go beyond the evidence of our memory and senses. If you were to ask a man, why he believes any matter of fact, which is absent; for instance, that his friend is in the country, or in France; he would give you a reason; and this reason would be some other fact; as a letter received from him, or the knowledge of his former resolutions and promises…All our reasonings concerning fact are of the same nature. And here it is constantly supposed that there is a connexion between the present fact and that which is inferred from it. Were there nothing to bind them together, the inference would be entirely precarious.

When it is asked, What is the nature of all our reasonings concerning matter of fact? the proper answer seems to be, that they are founded on the relation of cause and effect. When again it is asked, What is the foundation of all our reasonings and conclusions concerning that relation? it may be replied in one word, Experience. But if we still carry on our sifting humour, and ask, What is the foundation of all conclusions from experience? this implies a new question, which may be of more difficult solution and explication.” – David Hume in “Sceptical doubts concerning the operations of the understanding” (Italics are Hume’s)

David Hume himself goes down the line of questioning that Popper brings up. For example, suppose that some assertion is made like “all ravens are black”. This assertion is what Hume calls a Matter of Fact, i.e. Synthetic proposition or Contingent proposition. It is Possible that it is true that “all ravens are black” and it is possible that it isn’t true that “all ravens are black”. This starts a line of questioning once this assertion is presented.

Question: What is the nature of reasoning concerning that matter of fact?
Evidence: The assertion is founded on the relation of cause and effect.
Question: What is the foundation of reasoning and conclusion concerning that relation of cause and effect?
Evidence: The relation of cause and effect of that assertion is founded on Experience.

These two questions follow a basic form that Popper is bringing up, and the type of basic form that Popper finds unsuitable, or the type of basic form of Evidentialism that is unsuitable. The basic reason for this is because another question follows from the answer to the previous two questions.

Question: What is the foundation of that conclusion drawn from experience?

This new question is where the Problem of Induction arises, or what Popper calls The Logical Problem of Induction.

If all Ravens are Black then justified in the relation of cause and effect. If justified in the relation of cause and effect then justified by experience. If justified by experience then experience is justified by Induction. So if all ravens are black then justified by Induction. But, Induction isn’t justified. So assertion all ravens are black isn’t justified. Therefore, Evidentialism would make it so that the assertion all Ravens are Black isn’t justified. This applies to all matters of fact, and thus all empirical and scientific assertions.

“It is usual to call an inference ‘inductive’ if it passes from singular statements (sometimes called ‘particular’ statements), such as accounts of the results of observations or experiments, to universal statements, such as hypotheses or theories. Now it is far from obvious, from a logical point of view, that we are justified in inferring universal statements from singular ones, no matter how numerous; for any conclusions drawn in this way may always turn out to be false: no matter how many instances of white swans we may have observed, this does not justify the conclusion that all swans are white. The question whether inductive inferences are justified, or under what conditions, is known as the problem of induction.” – Karl Popper in “The Logic of Scientific Discovery” (Italics are Popper’s)

The Problem of Induction comes about because Induction relies on statement that is a matter of fact assertion, but this matter of fact assertion cannot, in principle, be inductively justified. So either all reasonings concerning matter of fact seem to be founded on experience or not all reasonings concerning matter of fact seem to be founded on experience.

This is a logical problem because either Induction relies on a statement that is either a contingent proposition or necessary proposition. We can call this the “Principle of Induction”. But the Principle of Induction can’t be a necessary proposition because the negation of the Principle of Induction is possible to be false. A necessary proposition can’t be possible to be false. So it is possible that Principle of Induction is true and it is possible that isn’t true that Principle of Induction is true. Therefore, the Principle of Induction is a contingent proposition.

Hume points out that matter of facts about dispositions and universal propositions are matters of facts. Thus dispositional propositions and universal propositions are contingent propositions. Dispositional propositions describe law-like behavior and universal propositions describe lawful behavior or law-like behavior. These would both be contingent propositions, and so we wouldn’t be justified, based on Induction, in asserting those dispositional propositions or universal propositions.

We wouldn’t be justified, based on Evidentialism, when it came to assertions about dispositional propositions or universal propositions. Science wouldn’t be justified, based on Evidentialism, when it came to assertions about dispositional propositions or universal propositions. But science is full of assertions about dispositional propositions and universal propositions. Therefore, science wouldn’t be justified in asserting dispositional propositions and universal propositions.

“[Hume] tried to show that any inductive inference- any reasoning from singular and observable cases (and their repeated occurrence) to anything like regularities or laws- must be invalid. Any such inference, he tried to show, could not even be approximately or partially valid. It could not even be a probable inference: it must, rather, be completely baseless, and must always remain so, however great the number of the observed instances might be. Thus he tried to show that we cannot validly reason from the known to the unknown, or from what has been experienced to what has not been experienced (and thus, for example, from the past to the future): no matter how often the sun has been observed regularly to rise and set, even the greatest number of observed instances does not constitute what I have called a positive reason for the regularity, or the law, of the sun’s rising and setting. Thus it can neither establish this law nor make it probable.” Karl Popper in “Realism and the Aim of Science” (Italics are Popper’s)

The assertion “all ravens are black” isn’t justified as true under Evidentialism and “all ravens are black” isn’t jusified as probably true under Evidentialism. Hume himself points out that the wise man doesn’t fixate his judgement on an assertion in which the evidence exceeds what we properly call probability. In other words, the Evidentialist doesn’t hold to assertions in which the evidence exceeds what we properly call probability. So Evidentialist only hold to assertion in which evidence shows it is true or probably true. So “all ravens are black” is only held by an Evidentialist if evidence shows it is true or at least probably true.

Popper presents a solution to the Problem of Induction, and thus treats assertions differently from Evidentialism. Popper rejects Induction, and thus rejects Evidentialism. The source of an assertion has nothing to do with either discrediting the truth of a proposition or supporting the truth of a proposition.

Matter of fact propositions, or scientific propositions, don’t discredit or support the source of an assertion. Science doesn’t support the truth of a proposition or support the probability of a proposition. It, basically, seeks to discredit the truth of a proposition. Science seeks to show that the proposition is false, not that the proposition is true or probably true. Science always seeks to discredit it’s proposition and not to support it’s propositions. So scientific propositions are, in principle, possible to show they are false and never show they are true or probably true. This includes both dispositional propositions and universal propositions.

In other words, Evidentialism seeks both positive justifications for assertion and negative justifications for assertion. Evidentialism would be based on “full decidability”. Falsifiability, or Falsification, seeks only negative justifications for assertions. Falsifiability would be based on “partial decidability” . These negative justifications, for Falsifiability, basically state that scientific assertion hasn’t been demonstrated false as of yet. This never indicates a positive justification for the assertion being true or probably true.

“The problem of induction arises from an apparent contradiction between the basic empiricist requirement (only experience can decide the truth or falsity of a scientific statement) and Hume’s insight into the logical impermissibility of inductive decision (there is no empirical justification of universal statements). This contradiction exists only if we assume that empirical statements must be empirically “fully decidable”, that is, that experience must be able to decide not only their falsity, but also their truth. The contradiction is resolved once “partially decidable” empirical statements are admitted: Universal empirical statements are empirically falsifiable, they can be defeated by experience.” – Karl Popper in “The Two Problems of The Theory of Knowledge” (Italics are Popper’s)

For Falsifiability, the source of an assertion is irrelevant when judging whether the assertion is either true or false, and the source of an assertion is irrelevant when judging whether justified in believing that assertion is true or probably true. The source of an assertion is irrelevant for the justification of the assertion. Would have to rely on Induction, and Induction isn’t justified itself. The only justification of an assertion, specifically an empirical assertion, is that it is possible to show that assertion is false. An empirical assertion has the possibility to be shown false, but it doesn’t have the possibility to be shown true (or probably true).

Science, thus, doesn’t care of the source of an assertion. Science is justified in believing, or holding to, an empirical proposition because that empirical proposition allows for the possibility that can be shown that it is false, but hasn’t been shown that it is false yet. For example, science would be justified in believing the empirical proposition that “all ravens are orange” if wasn’t for “some ravens are black”. It would be a negative justification, since don’t have another empirical proposition that contradicts it, or shows that it is false.

One of the basic mechanisms of Falsifiability is that works by deductive inference. Modus Tollens forms an example of deductive inference that Falsifiability uses. Given the conditional claim that the consequent is true if the antecedent is true, and given that the consequent is false, we can infer that the antecedent is also false.

If an empirical assertion is true implies another empirical assertion is true & the other empirical assertion is false, then original empirical assertion is false.

Principle of Modus Tollens:If all ravens are orange implies no ravens are not orange & some ravens are black, then not all ravens are orange. This is how the negative justification of empirical assertions works, which is deductive inference of modus tollens. It wouldn’t be possible for “not all ravens are orange” to be false. So it must be true.

The Principle of Modus Tollens is a necessary truth, which is different from the Principle of Induction. The Principle of Induction isn’t a necessary truth. It is possible that the Principle of Induction is false. So it might be true.

An assertion that is the conclusion of the Principle of Induction, or the assertion of a wise man that reviewed the Evidence, might be true. An assertion that is the conclusion of the Principle of Modus Tollens, or the assertion of a foolish man that never reviewed the Evidence, must be true.

The truth that the Principle of Modus Tollens always produces truth. It is similar to negative theology. It isn’t true that “all ravens are orange” & it isn’t true that “no ravens are not orange”. Each time saying what is true because true isn’t those false statements, since it is true that “not all ravens are black”.

The contradiction between “all ravens are orange” and “not all ravens are orange” are exclusive, they both can’t be true and no intermediary empirical propositions between them. If know that “all ravens are orange” is false then know that “not all ravens are orange” is true. All ravens are orange implied no ravens are not orange & some ravens are black. Therefore, it is necessarily true that not all ravens are orange. If Know that “not all ravens are orange” is true then “not all ravens are orange” is true. “Not all ravens are orange” is true.

Both the Principle of Modus Tollens are dealing with scientific propositions. The scientific propositions are possibly true or possibly false. If combine scientific propositions with the Principle of Induction, then scientific proposition infered might be true. If combine scientific propositions with Principle of Modus Tollens, then scientific proposition infered must be true. The negative justification allows for things that aren’t possibly not true & hold to statements that are only true, while positive justification allows for things that are only possibly true & hold to some statements that aren’t only true.

So Evidentialist like David Hume, or C.K. Clifford, would be justified in holding some scientific propositions that aren’t only true. Evidentialist would hold to both true statements and false statements. While the Non-Evidentialist, which follows Falsifiability or negative justification, would hold only to true statements. The Non-evidentialist wouldn’t be justified in asserting a scientific statement, even though conclusions drawn from it must be true.

Thus, Evidentialism is fallacious because the assertions that it concludes to be justified in holding, based on the evidence, aren’t truth-preserving. It’s conclusions of justified scientific propositions aren’t based on the evidence or derived by positive support it receives from the evidence. However, it is completely opposite with Non-Evidentialism of Falsification, or it isn’t fallacious.

The Evidentialist would be acting irrationally by seeking their justification, while the Falsifiabilist, which is necessarily a Non-Evidentialist, would be acting rationally by not seeking the Evidentialist justification.

Huxley’s assertion, in his examplar of Evidentialism, mentions that “merciless to fallacy in logic.” But we later find out that Evidentialism isn’t “merciless to fallacy in logic”, but is founded on a fallacy in logic itself. David Hume recognized this, even though exemplar of Evidentialism. Instead, he went about acting irrationally by seeking a (positive) justification of proposition by evidence & the rest of Evidentialism followed, like C.K. Clifford and Thomas Huxley. They would all go about by searching for evidence that proposition is true and end right back in the same place.

Finding Evidence

So we finally come full circle with the fallacy of Evidentialism, and find the source of the Evidentialist fallacy.

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Paradox of Knowability

Posted by allzermalmer on April 12, 2013

Theorem 5: If there is some true proposition which nobody knows (or has known or will know) to be true, then there is a true proposition which nobody can know to be true

“There are truths that cannot be known. For suppose that all truths can be known. Then all truths actually are known. Otherwise, we may suppose for some p that p but it is not known that p. Then it can be known that p but it is not known that p. But when it is known that thus and such, it is known that thus and it is known that such. So it could be known that p and known that it is not known that p. But what is known is true. So it could be known that p and not known that p. But that is a contradiction, and no contradiction can be true. So all truths are actually known.” W.D. Hart

(1) Assume that if X is true then possible to know that X is true. (2) Then, if X is true & do not know that X is true, then possible to know that both X is true & do not know X is true. (3) But, not possible to know that both X is true & do not know X is true. (4) Not both X is true & do not know X is true. (5)  If X is true then do not not know that X is true. (6) If X is true then know that X is true.

What if the World is non-omniscient? This would mean that nobody knows all truths, and nobody ever will. Therefore, there are unknowable truths. If some truth is unknown, then that it is unknown is itself unknowable; Because the world is non-omniscient, there is some unknowable truth. If there at exists at least one Truth, such that Truth is true and Truth is unknown, then there exists at least one Truth, such that Truth is unknown and Truth is unknowable. If there does not exist at least one Truth, such that Truth is unknown and Truth is unknowable, then there does not exist at least one Truth, such that Truth is true and Truth is unknown.

It is possible that it is known by someone at some time that both X is true & It is not known by someone at some time that X is true. It is possible that both It is known by someone at some time that X is true & It is not known by someone at some time that X is true (reduction ad absurdum)

Non-Omniscience: X is true & It is not known by someone at some time that X is true.

Verdicality (KV): If it is known by someone at some time that X is true, then X is true.

Distribution (KC): If it is known by someone at some time that both X is true & Y is true, then both it is known by someone at some time that X is true & It is known by someone at some time that Y is true.

Non-Contradiction (LNC): It is not possible that both X is true & X is not true.

Clousure (CP): If X is true implies Y is true & it is possible that X is true, then it is possible that Y is true.

Knowability (KP): If X is true then it is possible that it is known by someone at some time that X is true.

(1) Assume that X is true & It is not known by someone at some time that X is true

(2) It is possible that it is known by someone at some time that both X is true & It is not known by someone at some time that X is true. (By KP & (1).

(3) It is known by someone at some time that both X is true & It is not known by someone at some time that X is true. It is known by someone at some time that X is true & It is known by someone at some time that it is not known by someone at some time that X is true.

(4) It is known by someone at some time that both X is true & it is not known by someone at some time that X is true. It is known by someone at some time that X is true & It is not known by someone at some time that X is true. (By Simp, VK, and Adjunction (and Transitivity implication))

(5) It is possible that both It is known by someone at some time that X is true & It is not known by someone at some time that X is true. (by CP)

(6) It is not possible that both It is known by someone at some time that X is true & It is not known by someone at some time that X is true. (by LNC)

(7) It is necessary that not both X is true & X is not true.

*(8) X is true & It is known by someone at some time that X is true. (by Reduction Ad Absurdim)

Thus, If X is true, then it is known by someone at some time that X is true:: If it is not known by someone at some time that X is true, then X is not true.

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Why Science Doesn’t Invoke Metaphysics

Posted by allzermalmer on November 1, 2012

All those things in italics come from Popper, and those that are in bold & italics  are my own personal emphasis and not Popper’s.

But before I get to that, I want to start out by making one big distinction. There is the distinction between statements that are logically necessary and those that are logically contingent.

Logically Necessary: For each x, if x is logically necessary, then x’s affirmation is logically possible and x’s negation is not logically possible.
Logically Contingent: For each x, if x is logically contingent, then x’s affirmation is logically possible and x’s negation is logically possible.

Popper thinks that things that are Logically Necessary are not in the domain of empirical science. Logically Necessary statements make no claim about reality or what exists, while those things that are Logically Contingent do make claims about reality or what exists. Logically Contingent statements are what empirical science deals with. But from within this domain of Logically Contingent statements, Popper is going to make a distinction.

His distinction is basically this: Not for every statement, if statement is logically contingent, then logically possible for humans to verify that statement is actually true instead of possibly true.

This is because it relies logical distinction between singular statements and universal statements.  “The raven is black in color” or “There exists at least one x, such that x is raven and x is black in color”, are examples of “Singular statements”. They are a proposition that asserts that a particular individual has (or has not) some specified attribute. “All ravens are black in color” or “For every x, if x is raven, then x is black in color”, are examples of “Universal statements”. They are a proposition that refers to all the members of a class. The members of class could have all sorts of particular individual things contained in them, like all ravens that have existed, are existing, or will exist. This can be logically infinite domain in time and space. Singular statements are at specific times and specific places, not all times and all places. So these are logically distinct from one another.

One of the basic points is that sense experience, or observation, is of particular things or individuals. We do not have sense experience, or observation, of all times and places, or all things that have existed, are existing, or will exist. In other words, observation only gives singular statements but science, or empirical science, seeks universal statements that apply to all particular things, for all times and all places. Empirical science is seeking universal statements that apply to singular statements, like universal statements that apply to all particular ravens.

“The fact that theories are not verifiable has often been overlooked. People often say of a theory that it is verified when some of the predictions derived from it have been verified. They may perhaps admit that the verification is not completely impeccable from a logical point of view, or that a statement can never be finally established by establishing some of its consequences. But they are apt to look upon such objections as due to somewhat unnecessary scruples. It is quite true, they say, and even trivial, that we cannot know for certain whether the sun will rise tomorrow; but this uncertainty may be neglected: the fact that theories may not only be improved but that they can also be falsified by new experiments presents to the scientist a serious possibility which may at any moment become actual; but never yet has a theory had to be regarded as falsified owing to the sudden breakdown of a well confirmed law. It never happens that old experiments one day yield new results. What happens is only that new experiments decide against an old theory. The old theory, even when it is superseded, often retains its validity as a kind of limiting case of the new theory; it still applies, at least with a high degree of approximation, in those cases in which it was successful before. In short, regularities which are directly testable by experiment do not change. Admittedly it is conceivable, or logically possible, that they might change; but this possibility is disregarded by empirical science and does not affect its methods. On the contrary, scientific method presupposes the immutability of natural processes, or the ‘principle of the uniformity of nature’.

There is something to be said for the above argument, but it does not affect my thesis. It expresses the metaphysical faith in the existence of regularities in our world (a faith which I share, and without which practical action is hardly conceivable).*1 Yet the question before us— the question which makes the non-verifiability of theories significant in the present context—is on an altogether different plane. Consistently with my attitude towards other metaphysical questions, I abstain from arguing for or against faith in the existence of regularities in our world. But I shall try to show that the non-verifiability of theories is methodologically important. It is on this plane that I oppose the argument just advanced.

I shall therefore take up as relevant only one of the points of this argument—the reference to the so-called ‘principle of the uniformity of nature’. This principle, it seems to me, expresses in a very superficial way an important methodological rule, and one which might be derived, with advantage, precisely from a consideration of the non-verifiability of theories.*2 (I mean the rule that any new system of hypotheses should yield, or explain, the old, corroborated, regularities. See also section *3 (third paragraph) of my Postscript.

Let us suppose that the sun will not rise tomorrow (and that we shall nevertheless continue to live, and also to pursue our scientific interests). Should such a thing occur, science would have to try to explain it, i.e. to derive it from laws. Existing theories would presumably require to be drastically revised. But the revised theories would not merely have to account for the new state of affairs: our older experiences would also have to be derivable from them. From the methodological point of view one sees that the principle of the uniformity of nature is here replaced by the postulate of the invariance of natural laws, with respect to both space and time.  I think, therefore, that it would be a mistake to assert that natural regularities do not change. (This would be a kind of statement that can neither be argued against nor argued for.) What we should say is, rather, that it is part of our definition of natural laws if we postulate that they are to be invariant with respect to space and time; and also if we postulate that they are to have no exceptions. Thus from a methodological point of view, the possibility of falsifying a corroborated law is by no means without significance. It helps us to find out what we demand and expect from natural laws. And the ‘principle of the uniformity of nature’ can again be regarded as a metaphysical interpretation of a methodological rule—like its near relative, the ‘law of causality’.

One attempt to replace metaphysical statements of this kind by principles of method leads to the ‘principle of induction’, supposed to govern the method of induction, and hence that of the verification of theories. But this attempt fails, for the principle of induction is itself metaphysical in character. As I have pointed out in section 1, the assumption that the principle of induction is empirical leads to an infinite regress. It could therefore only be introduced as a primitive proposition (or a postulate, or an axiom). This would perhaps not matter so much, were it not that the principle of induction would have in any case to be treated as a non-falsifiable statement. For if this principle— which is supposed to validate the inference of theories—were itself falsifiable, then it would be falsified with the first falsified theory, because this theory would then be a conclusion, derived with the help of the principle of induction; and this principle, as a premise, will of course be falsified by the modus tollens whenever a theory is falsified which was derived from it. *3 (The premises of the derivation of the theory would (according to the inductivist view here discussed) consist of the principle of induction and of observation statements. But the latter are here tacitly assumed to be unshaken and reproducible, so that they cannot be made responsible for the failure of the theory.) But this means that a falsifiable principle of induction would be falsified anew with every advance made by science. It would be necessary, therefore, to introduce a principle of induction assumed not to be falsifiable. But this would amount to the misconceived notion of a synthetic statement which is a priori valid, i.e. an irrefutable statement about reality. Thus if we try to turn our metaphysical faith in the uniformity of nature and in the verifiability of theories into a theory of knowledge based on inductive logic, we are left only with the choice between an infinite regress and apriorism.” The Logic of Scientific Discovery pg. 249-252

Popper is trying to make the distinction between a metaphysical principle and a methodological principle. He is trying to point out that science is a methodology without metaphysical principles. The line of demarcation between science and metaphysics is falsifiability or refutability.  He holds that “we must choose a criterion which allows us to admit to the domain of empirical science even statements which cannot be verified.” (pg. 18) Popper’s line of demarcation for statements that are allowed into science, or more specifically universal statements allowed into empirical science. “But I shall certainly admit a system as empirical or scientific only if it is capable of being tested by experience. These considerations suggest that not the verifiability but the falsifiability of a system is to be taken as a criterion of demarcation.*3 In other words: I shall not require of a scientific system that it shall be capable of being singled out, once and for all, in a positive sense; but I shall require that its logical form shall be such that it can be singled out, by means of empirical tests, in a negative sense: it must be possible for an empirical scientific system to be refuted by experience.” (pg. 18)

We can verify singular statements, it is logically possible for us to find out if that statement is true. If we have not verified that it is actually true, we cannot infer that it is actually false. It is still logically possible that it is true. So we find out that we can, at least in principle, verify the truth of a singular statement. However, it is not logically possible for us to affirm a universal statement, like empirical claims of science. However, we can show that they are false. We cannot verify them but we can falsify them. We falsify these universal statements with one singular statement, or one observation, which the universal statement does not logically allow for, i.e. says is not logically possible to be true if the universal statement is true. This can be shown by simple modus tollens.

Universal Statement: All ravens are black.
Singular Statement: This raven is white.
Conclusion: Some ravens are not white.

or

Universal Statement: No ravens are not black.
Singular Statement: This raven is not black.
Conclusion: Some ravens are not black.

or

Universal Statement: For each x, if x is a raven, then x is black.
Singular Statement: There exists at least one x, such that x is a raven and x is not black.
Conclusion: Not each x, if x is raven, then x is black.

What needs to be kept in mind that the Universal statement has a logical equivalent as “No ravens are not black.” So it logically excludes a raven that is white, since white is the logical opposite of black, so it is not black.

Popper shows that if we do accept a metaphysical principle (i.e. a universal statement) which is logically contingent, then it means it is possibly true or possibly false. And if we choose to invoke a metaphysical principle in our science, and we derive another universal statement from it, then when that derived universal statement is refuted by observation, then the universal statement and the one it was derived from are shown to be false. For example, assume that “All ravens on Earthare black” is a metaphysical principle. We may derive that “All ravens on Earth in  in the United States are black”. When we observe that one particular raven on Earth in the United States is not black, which means that “All ravens on Earth in the United States are black” and “All ravens on Earth are black” are false.

Metaphysical Statement: All ravens on Earth are black.
Scientific Statement: All ravens on Earth in the United States are black.
Observation: This raven on Earth in the United States is not black.
Conclusion: Not all ravens on Earth in the United States are black & Not all ravens on Earth are black.

This means that if someone believes that science holds to the metaphysical principle of induction, then it was shown to be false by scientific theories that are false. Now as a methodology there is nothing wrong with holding to it, because methodology makes no truth claim itself. Also, the example of causality is an example, if we take it as a metaphysical principle that science is based on. So this would mean that science would hold to this metaphysical principle and derive other statements from this principle and test them with experience or observation. From this we find that one of our theories made a false prediction, which means that the metaphysical principle of causality has been shown to be false by experience as well, and all other theories that were derived from the metaphysical principle, but have not been shown false yet, would also by logical implication be false. The same thing would hold with naturalism, physicalism, materialism, dualism, or the world is parsimonious or simple, or determinism, or indeterminism, or presentism and eternalism, and etc.

Now science, or experience, would have never been able to verify these metaphysical principles in the first place. There would be no support for them to be derived from experience. It would still be logically possible for them to be true, but we cannot find out if they are actually true. Experience cannot help us to figure out if they are actually true or possibly true, no matter the amount of observations we make that are consistent with them. But science may use methodological principles in its activities, but holding to those methodological principles does not mean that one is logically obliged to hold to the metaphysical principles.

What is even more interesting is that if we do try to make some sort of inductive argument, we could argue that since science has used metaphysical principle x, and science continually comes up with false theories, or refuted theories, it will continue to derive false theories from that metaphysical principle. But of course, once something was refuted we have shown that it is logically impossible to be true. However, we can still use it and we may derive “true” theories, or theories that have not been shown to be false by observation, yet. This is because anything follows from a logical contradiction. This means you can derive both true statements and false statements. So it would not be surprising if the metaphysical principle also helped you to derive theories that have not been shown false by observation as of yet (even though still logically possible to be shown false with next observation).

Here is an example from basic logic which will rely on two basic rules of logical inference. These two rules are Disjunctive Addition and Disjunctive Syllogism.

Rule 1 – Disjunctive Addition: Given that a statement is true, we can infer that a disjunction comprising it and any other statement is true, because only one disjunct needs to be true for the disjunctive compound to be true.

Example:
Premise: It is snowing
Conclusion: Either it is snowing or it is raining

Rule 2 – Disjunctive Syllogism: Because at least one disjunct must be true, by knowing one is false we can infer that the other is true.

Example:
Premise: Either the New York Yankees will win the pennant or the Baltimore Orioles will.
Premise: The Yankees will not win the pennant.
Conclusion: Therefore, the Orioles will win the pennant.

For it can easily be shown that these rules permit us to deduce from a pair of contradictory sentences, for instance, from the two sentences,  ”  The sun is shining ” and “The sun is not shining “, any sentence whatsoever.  Let us take these two premisses (a) “The sun is shining”  (b) “The sun is not shining “.  We can deduce with the help of rule (1) from the first of these premisses, the following sentence:”The sun is shining or Caesar was a traitor “. But from this sentence, together with the second premiss (b), we can deduce, following rule (2), that,Caesar was a traitor. And by the same method we can deduce any other sentence. This is extremely important, for if we can deduce any sentence whatsoever, then, clearly, we can always deduce any negation of any sentence whatsoever: It is clear that instead of the sentence “Caesar was a traitor ” we can, if we wish, deduce “Caesar was not a traitor “. In other words, from two contradictory premisses, we can logically deduce anything, and its negation as well. We therefore convey with such a contradictory theory-nothing. A theory which involves a contradiction is entirely useless, because it does not convey any sort of information.”

Logically possible Affirmation: The sun is shining.
Logically possible Negation: The sun is not shining.

The sun is shining. Therefore, by rule 1, The sun is shining or Ceasar was a traitor. But now the sun is not shining. Therefore, by rule 2, Ceasar was a traitor; The sun is not shinning. Therefore, by rule 1, The sun is not shinning or Ceasar was not a traitor. But now the sun is shinning. Therefore, by rule 2, Ceasar was not a traitor. Rule 1 allows you to pull up any premise you want, and be able to affirms this premise and also negate this premise by using Rule 2. So if you affirm a logical impossibility, anything and everything you want follows. They contain no “content” or “information” for empirical science. This is because empirical science wants to eliminate theories because they said something cannot happen and it was found that it did happen. Since there is a contradiction, we know it is logically impossible for the theory to be true.

This process of elimination, though, does not tell you which theories are true. It just says what is not true. There are still many other logically possible universal statements that have not been eliminated by singular statements, or observations, as of yet.

(This will be updated at least 24 hours after posting or publication). Edits need to be done.

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Truth of Reasoning and Truth of Fact

Posted by allzermalmer on October 26, 2012

“All that which implies contradiction is impossible, and all that which implies no contradiction is possible.” G.W. Leibniz

“I assume that every judgement (i.e. affirmation or negation) is either true or false and that if the affirmation is true the negation is false, and if the negation is true the affirmation is false; that what is denied to be true-truly, of course- is false, and what is denied to be false is true; that what is denied to be affirmed, or affirmed to be denied, is to be denied; and what is affirmed to be affirmed and denied to be denied is to be affirmed. Similarly, that it is false that what is false should be true or that what is true should be false; that it is true that what is true is true, and what is false, false. All these are usually included in one designation, the principle of contradiction.” G.W. Leibniz

“There are . . . two kinds of truths, those of reasoning and those of fact. Truths of reasoning are necessary and their opposite is impossible; truths of fact are contingent and their opposite is possible. When a truth is necessary, its truth can be found by analysis, resolving it into more simple ideas and truths, until we come to those which are primary. It is thus, that in Mathematics speculative Theorems and practical Canons are reduced by analysis to Definitions, Axioms, and Postulates. In short, there are simple ideas, of which no definition can be given; there are also axioms and postulates, in a word primary principles, which cannot be proved, and indeed have no need of proof, and these are identical propositions, whose opposite involves an express contradiction.” G.W. Leibniz

 So Leibniz obtains all knowable propositions or statements to be divided based on the principle of contradiction. The truth of statements is divided into two realms. This also deals with what people can know, or knowability. It basically says that
“For each statement, if statement is knowable, then statement is either truth of reasoning or truth of fact. For each statement, if statement is truth of reasoning, then statements affirmation is logically possible and statements negation is logically impossible. For each statement, if statement is truth of fact, then statements affirmation is logically possible and statements negation is logically possible.”

A truth of reasoning is always true and not possible it is false. It is logically impossible that it is false. The negation of a truth of reasoning is an impossible statement or impossible proposition. It is self-contradictory. A truth of fact is not always true and possible it is false. It is logically possible that it is true or logically possible it is false. Truth of Reasoning is Logically Necessary and Truth of Fact is Logically Contingent.

“For each statement, if statement is Truth of Fact, then statement is an empirical claim. For each statement, if statement is Truth of Reasoning, then statement is not an empirical claim. For each statement, if statement is Truth of Reasoning, then statement is non-empirical claim. For each statement, if statement is Truth of Fact, then statement is not non-empirical claim.”

What also happens to come from this is that Truth of Facts do not entail or lead to Truth of Reasoning, and Truth of Reasoning do not entail or lead to Truth of Fact. This means that Truth of Facts do not imply or entail non-empirical claims and Truth of Reasoning do not imply or entail empirical claims. This means that statements of experience are not non-empirical claims and means statements of experience are empirical claims.

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Pyrrhonian Scepticism Against Time

Posted by allzermalmer on October 14, 2012

This comes from Sextus Empiricus, the Pyrrhonian skeptic, speaking out against conceptions of time. This comes from Against the Physicists II.

“Let this, then, serve as our account of the difficulties regarding the real existence of time which arise from the conception of it; but we can also establish our case by means of direct argument. For if time exists it is either limited or unlimited; but neither is it limited, as we shall establish, nor is it unlimited, as we shall show; therefore time is nothing.

For if time is limited, there was once a time when time did not exist, and there will one day be a time when time will not exist. But it is absurd to say either that there was once a time when time did not exist, or that there will one day be a time when time will not exist, for the statements that “there once was” and that “there will be” are (as I said before) indicative of different times. So, then, time is not limited.

-Nor, in fact, is it unlimited. For one part of it is past, the other future. Each of these times, then, either exists or does not exist. And if it does not exist, time is at once limited, and if it is limited the original difficulty remains- that there was once a time when time did not exist and there will one day be a time when time will not exist. But if each exists- I mean both past and future time,- each will be in the present. And as existing in the present, both past and future time will be in present time. But it is absurd to say that past and future are conceived as in present time. So, then, time is not unlimited either.

But if it is neither conceived as limited nor as unlimited, it will not exist at all. – Also, what is composed of non-existents will be non-existent- of the past which exists no longer and of the future which does not as yet exist; time, therefore, is non-existent.

 

Furthermore: if time is anything, it is either indivisible or divisible; but it cannot be either indivisible, as we shall show, or divisible, as we shall establish; no time, therefore, exists.

Now time cannot be indivisible, since it is divided into past, present, and future. And it will not divisible because everything divisible is measured by a part of itself; the cubit, for instance, is measured by the palm, and the palms, is a part of the cubit, and the palm is measured by the finger, and the finger is a part of the palm. So, then, if time too is divisible, it ought to be measured by some part of itself.

But it is not possible for the other times to be measured by the present. For if the present time measures the past, the present time will be in the past, and being in the past it will no longer be present but past. And if the present measures the future, being within this it will be future and not present.

Hence, too, it is not possible to measure the present by the other times; for, as being within it, each of them will be present and not either past or future. But if one must certainly conceive time as either divisible or indivisible, and we have shown that it is neither divisible nor indivisible, it must be declared that time is nothing.

 

Furthermore: time is tripartite; for one part of it is past, one present, and one future. And of these the past no longer exists and the future does not yet exist. It remains to say that one part exists, the present.

The present time, then is either indivisible or divisible. But it cannot be indivisible, for “nothing divisible is of a nature to exist in indivisible time,” as Timon says, – becoming, for example, and perishing, and everything of a similar kind. And if it is indivisible, it will neither have a beginning whereby it is joined on to the past, nor an end whereby it is joined on to the future; for that which has a beginning and an end is not indivisible. But if it has neither a beginning nor an end, it will not have a middle either; for the middle is conceived by way of comparison in its relation to the other two. And as having neither beginning nor middle nor end, it will not exist at all.

And if present time is divisible, it is divided either into existent times or into non-existent. And if it should be divided into non-existent times, it will no longer be time; for that which is divided into non-existent times will not be time. And if it is divided into existent times, it will no longer, as a whole, be present but one part of it will be past, another future. And for this reason it will no longer, as a whole, be [present and] existent, as part of it no longer exists and part of is not as yet existing. But if of the three times- past, future, and present- it has been proved that not one exists, no time will exist.

 

And those who assert that present time is the limit of the past and the beginning of the future,- thus making one out of two non-existent times,- making not only one but every time nonexistent.

– And further : if present time is the limit of past, and the limit of the past has passed away together with that whereof it is the limit, present time will no longer exist, if it really is the limit of the past.

– And again; if present time is the beginning of the future, and the beginning of the future does not yet exist, present time will not yet exist, and thus it will have most opposite properties; for inasmuch as it is present it will exist, but inasmuch as it has passed away together with the past it will exist no longer, and inasmuch as it accompanies the future it will not as yet exist.

But it is absurd to conceive the same time as both existing and not existing, and no longer existing and not yet existing. So, then, in this way too one must deny that any time exists.

 

One may also argue thus: if time is anything, it is either imperishable and ingenerable or perishable and generable; but it is neither imperishable and ingenerable, as shall be proved, nor perishable and generable, as this also shall be established; time, therefore, is not anything.

Now it is not imperishable and ingenerable, seeing that part of it is past, part present, and past future. For the day of yesterday exists no longer, that of to-day exists, and that of to-morrow has not yet come into existence. Hence one part of time (namely, the past) no longer exists antoher (namely, the future) does not yet exist. And for this reason time will be neither ingenerable nor imperishable.

– But if it is perishable and generable, it is hard to say what it will perish into and from what it will come to exist. For neither does the future exist already, nor the past exist any longer. But how can a thing (come into existence) from non-existents, (or how can a thing) perish (into non-existents)? Time, then, is nothing.

 

One may attack it also in this way; if time is anything, it is either generable or ingenerable, or partly generable and partly ingenerable. But time cannot be either generable or ingenerable or partly generable and partly ingenerable; therefore time is not anything.

For if it i were generable, since everything which is generated becomes in time, time too being generated will be generated in time. Either, then, it will be generated as itself in itself or as one time in another.

And if it is generated as itself in itself, it will be a thing which has come to exist before it has come to exist; which is absurd. For since that in which a thing becomes must exist before that which is generated in it, time also, as generated in itself, must have come into existence before itself; just as a statue is wrought in a workshop, but the workshop existed before the statue, and a ship is constructed in a certain place, but the place was existing before the ship, So, then, if time too becomes in itself, it will exist before itself; and thus, inasmuch as it becomes, it will not yet exist, since everything which becomes, while it is becoming, does not exist as yet; but inasmuch as it becomes in itself, it must exist beforehand. Time, then, will be at once both existent and non-existent. Inasmuch as it becomes it will not exist, but inasmuch as it becomes in itself it will exist. But it is absurd that the same thing at the same instant should both exist and not exist; therefore it is also absurd to say that time becomes in itself.

-Nor yet does it become as one time in another,- the future, for instance, in the present, and and the present in the past. For if one time becomes in another, each of the times will necessarily quit its own position and occupy the post of the other. If, for example, the future time becomes in the present time, the future as becoming during the present will be present and not future; and if the present becomes in the past, as becoming during the past it will certainly not be present but past. And the same argument applies if we reverse their order, making the past becoming in the present and the present in the future; for her again the same difficulties follow.

– if, then, time does not become either in itself or as one time in another, time is not generable itself or as one time in another, time is not generable. But if it is neither ingenerable nor generable, and besides these one can conceive no third possibility, one must declare that time is nothing.

Now the fact that it cannot be ingeneralbe is extremely easy to demonstrate. For if it is ingenerable and neither has become nor will become, one time alone, the present, will exist, and neither will the future, and the things therein, be any longer future, nor will the past, and the things done therein, be any longer past. But this is not so; nor, consequently, is time ingenerable.

Nor yet is it partly generable and partly ingenerable, since, if so, the difficulties will be combined. For the generable must become either in itself or in another; but if it becomes in itself it will exist before itself, and if in another it will no longer be that time but , quitting its own post, it will be the time during which it becomes. And the same argument applies also to the ingenerable; for if it is ingenerable, neither will the future time every exist nor the past, but one time only remains, then, to say that as time is neither generable nor ingenerable, nor partly generable and partly ingenerable, time does not exist.”

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Berkeley’s Immaterialism

Posted by allzermalmer on June 25, 2012

This blog is a paper that I had to do on George Berkeley. We had to talk about Berkeley’s “Immaterialism”. I received an A on this paper but this does not mean much.

George Berkeley was a Scottish philosopher who lived from 1685-1753. He was a philosopher of the empiricist type, which means that he believed knowledge of the world is based on experience, which is to say the human senses. He became famous for his stance of Immaterialism, which is the denial of a material substance and a mind-independent world. He is the philosopher who has become famous for the slogan of esse is percipi, or to be is to be perceived.

Berkeley starts out his book A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge by trying to go over a topic called Abstraction. It is from this that he believes that many problems have arisen and have misled people. One of the things he says in the introduction is “That we have first raised a dust, and then complain, we cannot see.”[1] Berkeley believes that abstraction has come about from an abuse of language, and he is going to try to rectify this problem. Berkeley does this by pointing out that when we come across a particular object, like an apple, we find that it has many qualities existing together. Abstraction is where we come to think of each of these qualities being separated from each other in this apple, and we come to hold that each quality can, or does, exist apart from the other qualities in which we originally found them. As Berkeley says, “the mind being able to consider each quality singly, or abstracted from those other qualities with which it is united, does by that means frame to itself abstract ideas.”[2]

We perceive particular objects by our senses, and we find that there is something alike, or different, between those particular things we experience when we make a comparison between them. We will find that there are certain qualities that these two objects have in common when we are comparing them, and find that they share the same quality, like the color red. We come to separate these qualities from those two objects and hold that they exist without the particular object itself.  Take an example of comparing Peter and James, two particular human beings. They are two particular human beings, and they have some different qualities and similar qualities. One of them is white in skin color and the other is black in skin color, but both have color; they both have different hair colors in that one is blond and one is black, but they both have colored hair; they both have hair but different styles of hair; they both have arms but different lengths; they both have legs but of different length; they both have a height but one is tall and the other is short. We can go on like this and find that the abstract idea of Human contains all of these qualities and none of these qualities. A Human is both white and not white, both 6 feet tall and not 6 feet all, both has two legs and no legs, and etc. Abstract ideas are not something that Berkeley can think of and does not find in experience. But we get caught up in taking abstract ideas as if they exist or represent something that exists.

When Berkeley is told to think of “human”, he thinks of something particular. He imagines that it is white in skin color, has red hair, has hair down to its shoulders, has long hairy forearms, is tall and has long legs, and etc. In other words, when he is asked to think about a human being he thinks of a particular human with particular qualities, not this “all and none” qualities that is found with an abstract idea of a human. This is the same when he does something like mathematics, which is supposed to be a very abstract science. He comes to think of a particular triangle, but a triangle in geometry can be either a right triangle, or acute triangle, or obtuse triangle, or equilateral triangle, or isosceles triangle, or a scalene triangle.

One thing about abstraction, which can be made a case and point with geometry, is that we do not find them in experience. One of the definitions for a line is a “breadthless length”. None of these things are found in experience. In fact, we cannot experience these things. When a line is drawn on a sheet of paper, it is not a line in geometry. We are calling something a line which is not a geometrical line. If triangles are built off of lines and lines are not experienced, then those triangles of geometry are not experienced either. But we apply this abstract idea to experience, or we apply something to its contradictory. We are applying a breadthless length to a line with breadth.

Once we clear up this problem with abstraction, Berkeley comes to deal with this idea that there is something that is primary qualities and secondary qualities. It was held by some people during Berkeley’s time, that we do not directly experience the “external world”. The position of perception was known as representational theory of perception. When the external world caused our perceptions, we indirectly had experiences of it. Primary qualities are said to be qualities of mind-independent objects, which are extension, figure, motion, rest, solidity, and number, and are the qualities that exist in the object itself. Secondary qualities are said to be mind-dependent objects, which are colors, sounds, tastes, and etc, and do not exist in the object itself. Matter, which is said to be mind-independent, has these primary qualities and when we have these mind-independent objects affect our senses to cause our perceptions, we only view a part of it that is the primary qualities and the secondary qualities are what our minds add on to the primary qualities. In other words, our perceptions both have something from the mind-independent world and something from the mind-dependent world. But what is key to keep in mind is that what we experience with our senses is not the external world itself. The experiences themselves are mind-dependent, which is our individual minds.

One way in it was said to be determined what qualities are from the external world, and those qualities from ourselves, was with the primary and secondary qualities distinction.  The primary qualities were supposed to be stable and did not change, much, if at all. It was to persist through change. And secondary qualities were said to change through time frequently, being in a sort of flux. There was one way to distinguish through primary and secondary qualities are with a simple argument. One of the things that was said to be a secondary quality was that of heat. Take the example of taking a bucket filled with water. “Suppose now one of your hands hot, and the other cold, and that they are both at once put into the same vessel of water, in an intermediate state; will not the water seem cold to one hand and warm to the other?…It will.”[3] But the heat of the water cannot both be hot and not hot, so heat is not part of the mind-independent world. These types of arguments were supposed to show that some of things we experience are not part of a mind-independent world, and arguments of the same kind were used to show what qualities were mind-independent and which qualities were mind-dependent.

What Berkeley does in this situation is to use the same type of arguments to show that even primary qualities are mind-dependent. Solidity, for example, is said to be mind-independent. Now take an example where an ant and a human come to touch a cherry. To the human, when they touch the cherry, they find that it gives way to them touching it, but when an ant touches it feels very hard. But the cherry, based on solidity, cannot both be hard and not hard. We also find extension is relative to different animals in that one animal will see one shape and another animal will see another shape, but one shape in a mind-independent world cannot be of two different shapes. This shows the relativity of different qualities that one human can experience from another, and the different qualities that one species experiences from that of another.

Berkeley shows that primary qualities fall to being mind-dependent as well, but he goes on to point out something else. Every time we experience a primary quality, it always is associated with secondary quality. So I may experience the primary quality of something with the shape of being round, but it will have a color of either being black or white, or blue or yellow. If it had no color, then I could not observe the object itself. When I pick up an object, I feel its shape in my hand but I also feel if it is hot or cold. Berkeley is pointing out that primary qualities are found to constantly have secondary qualities associated with them when we experience them. So not only are secondary qualities mind-dependent and so are primary qualities, but what we call secondary qualities and primary qualities are found to show up together and cannot separate one from the other without forming an abstract idea.

We find that primary qualities were of extension, shape, motion, rest, solidity and number. They were supposed to persist through change. These primary qualities were supposed to be of this substance called matter. Matter was supposed to be inert and a passive thing that was unthinking. Berkeley points out that this “matter” would be an abstraction. This is because the shape would be of neither a triangle, nor a square, nor polygon, or whatever else the mind can imagine, but all of them. Motion would be of one shape moving relative to another, and it would be at rest to another. It would be both at rest and moving. Matter turns out to be an abstraction, if not an outright contradiction. Now it is agreed that secondary qualities are mind-dependent, and Berkeley shows that arguments to show the mind-dependence of secondary qualities can also be used for primary qualities. Thus, all qualities that we experience are reduced to being mind-dependent.

Berkeley has left alternatives for matter, for it either is a contradiction, an abstraction, or something that we have no experience of. Being either an abstraction or having no experience of it is to make it meaningless by being a sign with no signification in experience, or being an empty term. So Berkeley believes that he has given enough ground to ignore matter as anything. He may ignore it if matter is meaningless and we have no experience of it, because one is just using words without anything signified by them. But Berkeley admits that even though it is meaningless in that no experience for it, it is still logically possible. But being logically possible is fine, but we cannot even think about it because it is an abstract idea. What is the point of using something that is possible that you cannot even think about it or experience it? He may also ignore it if it is a contradiction because it is a logical impossibility.

Now that Berkeley has dismissed of “matter”, he is going to go down a different route. One of the best ways to see where Berkeley is starting from, and part of what he is rejecting, deals with a certain passage from Renee Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy talks about particular bodies like a piece of wax. He says: “it has only just been removed from the honeycomb; it has not yet lost all the flavour of its honey; it retains some of the scent of the flowers among which it was gathered; its colour, shape, and size are clearly visible; it is hard, cold, easy to touch, and if you tap it with your knuckle, it makes a sound. In short, it has all the properties that seem to be required for a given body to be known as distinctly as possible. But wait—while I am speaking, it is brought close to the fire. The remains of its flavour evaporate; the smell fades; the colour is changed, the shape is taken away, it grows in size, becomes liquid, becomes warm, it can hardly be touched, and now, if you strike it, it will give off no sound. Does the same wax still remain? We must admit it does remain: no one would say or think it does not. So what was there in it that was so distinctly grasped? Certainly, none of those qualities I apprehended by the senses: for whatever came under taste, or smell, or sight, or touch, or hearing, has now changed: but the wax remains.”[4]

Berkeley holds the opposite. Descartes is holding that there is something that is this body below the sensible qualities that he just reviewed. Descartes said he did not find the “body” in the senses and moves on to the imagination, where he finds that a particular body does not derive from the imagination. Berkeley would say that anything beyond the sensible qualities that are supposed to be a particular body is an abstraction and not even possible to experience with the senses, or being in the imagination would need the sensible quality of color which is mind dependent. This particular body beyond the senses becomes meaningless, even if possible. When we use the sign of “apple”, it is meant to signify a pattern of sensible qualities found to be distinguished from other sensible qualities surrounding it, which happens to be red, have a certain shape, a certain smell, certain taste, and certain tactile sensations. In other words, a particular “body” is a specific pattern, and regularity, of sensible qualities found to go together, as distinguished from other sensible qualities.

Part of Berkeley’s position on experience is based on the Molyneux’s problem. This is based on a thought experiment of someone who is born blind and has tactile senses. This blind person has become accustomed with a tactile sensation that he calls a “cube”, and those with sight would understand to be a cube, and they are also accustomed to one of a “sphere”. Now imagine that the blind person has both objects before them on a table, and develop a sense known as sight. The person will not be able to pick out which object that he sees is associated with his tactile sensations that he knows as the “cube”. It shows that each sense is distinct from every other sense, but we eventually, through constant experience, begin associating one sense with another to form the idea of the “cube” or “bodies”.

When we are left with Descartes in some sort of solipsism, Berkeley has a way out. Berkeley finds that he has the ability to think and imagine things, like what he will do tomorrow. He also finds that when he wills to move his arm, his arm moves. He also finds that when he experiences sensible qualities, he is constantly associating one sense with another and associating sensory qualities in order to form what are known as “bodies”. He also makes connections to help form chains of cause and effect, as well as forming some understanding of what is going on to act. All of these things he finds to be a sign of activity or Mind. But he finds that when he closes his eyes, he cannot make whatever he wants to show up. It is against his will what he will see when he closes his eyes and then reopens them. These sensory qualities are forced upon him, or these flux of sensory qualities. He does not find the power for him to produce these sensory qualities, and so it means that there is something else besides Berkeley bringing about the experience he has. This shows a cause outside of Berkeley bringing about these experiences.

Now some might wonder how we can differentiate between reality and between dreams. Berkeley points out that “reality” is more vivid than that of a dream, and that dreams lack a coherence and vividness that we find with “reality”. This is, also, how we typically differentiate between “reality” and a “dream”. We find that what we are experiencing in a dream lacks a coherence from that which we have experienced when waking, and the experiences in reality are more vivid and stronger than what we find in dreams. We also find that we have a memory of things in the past while we have a tough time of remembering dreams and have a tough time fitting dreams into our experiences in a coherent way that we say that they are a dream. As Berkeley says, “The ideas formed by the imagination are faint and indistinct; they have, besides, an entire dependence on the will. But the ideas perceived by sense, that is, real things, are more vivid and clear, and being imprinted on the mind by a spirit distinct from us, have not a like dependence on our will. There is therefore no danger of confounding these with the foregoing; and there is as little of confounding them with the visions of a dream, which are dim, irregular, and confused. And though they should happen to be never so lively and natural, yet by their not being connected, and of a piece with the preceding and subsequent transactions of our lives, they might easily be distinguished from realities. In short, by whatever method you distinguish things from chimeras on your own scheme, the same, it is evident, will hold also upon mine.”[5]

The sensory qualities that he experiences as bodies, he observes them and finds that he does not see the power for one to move the other. He finds that those things he observes are passive, or that they are inert. Berkeley’s opinion of cause and effect is that we observe no necessary connection between these sensory qualities, but that we find one pattern of sensory qualities following another pattern of sensory qualities. There is no connection between these events or see one thing move another, and this makes them appear to be passive. One just follows the other, and do not see one making the other move or the other one to stop moving, or any necessary connection between them at all. Each event is distinct from one another and have no influence on one another.

From the position that he finds himself to be active and those sensory qualities that happen against his will to be passive, and that matter is either logically ruled out as being the cause or meaningless to assert it as the cause, so he finds that another mind to be the cause. This is because he cannot see how a passive thing can make itself show itself against his will or move one another, but he has found with himself that he can will his body to move and it moves. This shows that an active thing can move sensory qualities, and so another mind is the one that is giving Berkeley, and us, these sensory qualities. He finds that the active can move the passive with his own experience, and he is having experiences against his will and has ruled out “matter”, which leaves another mind moving and making these sensible qualities come against Berkeley’s will.

Berkeley finds that what he immediately perceives is from God, which means those sensory qualities that are forced upon him are from God. These are sight, touch, taste, sound, and smell which all come from God and giving them to Berkeley. Now Berkeley points out that we immediately perceive the sensible qualities, but we also mediate them. This mediation is a sign of activity, because we are making associations with our senses to form one “body” and observe a regularity in which “bodies” move amongst each other, and making judgments about them. We notice that when we come to predict these regularities that we can obtain food to nourish ourselves and predict when the water will flood to plant our food, and what to do to obtain pleasure and what not to do to escape pain. These regularities, by making the world predictable, show wisdom and providence of God to us and help show another mind.

Berkeley gives an example of mediation, or what he is talking about. “From what we have shown it is a manifest consequence that the ideas of space, outness, and things placed at a distance are not, strictly speaking, the object of sight. They are not otherwise perceived by the eye than by the ear. Sitting in my study I hear a coach drive along the street; I look through the casement and see it; I walk out and enter into it. Thus common speech would incline one to think I heard, saw, and touched the same thing, to wit, the coach. It is nevertheless certain, the ideas intromitted by each sense are widely different and distinct from each other; but having been observed constantly to go together, they are spoken of as one and the same thing. By the variation of the noise I perceive the different distances of the coach, and know that it approaches before I look out. Thus by the ear I perceive distance, just after the same manner as I do by the eye.”[6] He is pointing out that through constant association of different sensible qualities; we come to combine them into one thing called the “coach”. “Coach” becomes the sign for the sensible qualities signified by it. And the “Coach” is not in experience but something that we do with them. This helps form a basis for theory-laden observation, as the modern term goes, which shows a sign of activity of mind.

Now Berkeley has established an external world, which his that of God. He comes to discover other minds, or other finite minds like himself. Strictly speaking, we never experience other minds immediately by sensory qualities that we call “bodies”. That which is presented by immediate perception is passive and minds are active. So how does Berkeley come to other minds? Imagine that we are in a land that has “inanimate” objects. We find that these inanimate objects move in a regular fashion, like when I hold the rock in my hand and let go of it, it falls to the ground. We find that “inanimate” things in this world are works with regularity and move in a very predictable fashion. But in our experiences we find some “bodies” that do not move in a predictable and regular fashion.

“We experience certain ides of reality. These ideas exhibit a variety, order, and coherence far beyond anything that is within our ability to produce. Some other spirit must therefore produce them and this spirit must be supremely wise and benevolent. But among our ideas of reality there are some, those of the motions of animate bodies, which exhibit a degree of irregularity, inconsistency of purpose, greed, stupidity, and sheer perversity which is simply inconsistent with the notion that these ideas are produced by a wise and benevolent thing. One plausible way to deal with these phenomena is to postulate that there exist certain other spirits whose wills the divine spirit is disposed to indulge when moving animate bodies. Since the wills of these spirits are circumscribed to particular animate bodies and since their motions evidence a degree of reason and purpose, we may postulate further that they are finite, intelligent spirits, that is, beings “like ourselves”. It is in this way that we deduce the existence of other minds “from their operations, or the ideas by them excited in us.”[7]

The point becomes that when we notice certain sensory qualities known as “human bodies” and these do not move in the same way “inanimate” products. We notice a difference in their motions from one another. When we notice motion we come to infer a cause, and we notice that these motions do not match up with the regularities of “inanimate” objects, and these bodies appear to move with a purpose and greed. For only an active principle may move these “bodies” that we observe. We also notice that they look similar to our body and come to infer that there is another active agent besides that of us and God. The main point becomes that God’s actions are contingent, and we notice that the world works a certain way when there are no other finite minds. In other words, if it were not another finite mind, then those actions would have been different, which means it would have looked like a regularity of “inanimate” bodies.

Now Berkeley holds that all sensible qualities cannot exist without being perceived by a mind. This is because matter has already been eliminated and we are left with minds. So sensible objects are mind-dependent, which is that for them to exist, they must be perceived by a mind. This forms the slogan of “esse is percepi”, or “to be is to be perceived”. All unthinking things are dependent on being observed by some mind. This could either be myself, Berkeley, a group of humans/finite minds, or by God. This means that no sensible qualities exist outside of a mind. Now these sensible qualities may exist outside of human perception, but not that of another mind, like that of God. It may exist outside of the perception of all finite minds, but not that of the infinite mind of God. So the general rule of “esse is percepi” is true of sensible qualities known as “bodies”. For human being, sensible qualities are “esse is posse percepi”, also known as “to be is to be possibly perceived”. This means that for sensible qualities to exist for us finite minds known as humans, is that they be possible perceptions or actual perceptions. These possible perceptions might not be experienced by us, but they are at least experienced by God.

When Berkeley leaves a room with a desk and books, and no other finite minds perceive it, then the books and desk are still there because they are being perceived by God. But they are also a possible perception for finite minds, because if Berkeley were to enter the room, then he would perceive the desk and books. “The table I write on, I say, exists, that is, I see and feel it; and if I were out of my study I should say it existed, meaning thereby that if I was in my study I might perceive it, or that some other spirit actually does perceive it…so long [as “bodies” are] not actually perceived by me, or do not exist in my mind or that of any other created spirit, they must either have no existence at all, or else subsist in the mind of some eternal spirit: it being perfectly.”[8]

Berkeley was, it seems, a concurrentist when it comes to causality and finite minds willing their bodies to move. “First, concurrentists maintain that God’s activity is not merely required to create the world but also to conserve it in its existence…Second, concurrentists insist that creatures are endowed with genuine active and passive powers, and that they exercise their powers in ordinary causal interactions…Third, and most distinctively, concurrentists maintain that although creatures are endowed with genuine causal powers, no creaturely causal power could be efficacious in bringing about its appropriate effects without God’s active general assistance, or “concurrence”.”[9] The point is that God, being wise and disposed to humor us, God allows us to do, or will, to do certain actions. We may say that there is a certain law on what bodies are allowed to do, and anything within those laws that do not violate are allowable for us to do by goods kind disposition to us. God gives finite spirits what can be called an allowance, and may do whatever they want to do within that allowance. God humors us in allowing us to do it what we will to do.

 Bibliography

Berkeley, George, and Desmond M. Clarke. Berkeley: Philosophical Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009.

Descartes, René, and Michael Moriarty. Meditations on First Philosophy: With Selections from the Objections and Replies. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.

Luce, A. A. Berkeley’s Immaterialism; a Commentary on His “A Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge” London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1945. Print.

Bettcher, Talia Mae. Berkeley: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Continuum, 2008. Print.

Foster, John, and Howard Robinson. Essays on Berkeley: A Tercentennial Celebration. Oxford: Clarendon, 1985. Print.

Falkenstein, Lorne. “Berkeley’s Argument for Other Minds.” History of Philosophy Quarterly 7.4 (1990): 431-40. Print.

Jeffrey K. McDonough. “Berkeley, Human Agency and Divine Concurrentism.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 46.4 (2008): 567-90.


[1] Berkeley, George, and Desmond M. Clarke. Berkeley: Philosophical Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Pg. 69

[2] Ibid. Pg. 70

[3] Ibid Pg. 162

[4] Descartes, René, and Michael Moriarty. Meditations on First Philosophy: With Selections from the Objections and Replies. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Pg. 22

[5] Berkeley, George, and Desmond M. Clarke. Berkeley: Philosophical Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Pg. 216

[6]   Berkeley, George, and Desmond M. Clarke. Berkeley: Philosophical Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Pg. 23

[7] Falkenstein, Lorne. “Berkeley’s Argument for Other Minds.” History of Philosophy Quarterly 7.4 (1990): 431-40. Print. Pg. 438-439

[8] Berkeley, George, and Desmond M. Clarke. Berkeley: Philosophical Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Pg. 84-85

[9] Jeffrey K. McDonough. “Berkeley, Human Agency and Divine Concurrentism.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 46.4 (2008): 567-90. Pg. 568-569

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