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First post. Introduction and invitation.

 
keith
 
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11 December 2008 03:46
 
burt - 10 December 2008 01:23 PM

Keith, I appreciate your efforts to clear out the clutter of the chattering mind, but do have a question:

In the space of pure reason that remains, devoid of thought, with all theories, beliefs, suppositions held in suspension, (that transparent space of crystal clear perception tinged with golden shimmer), where is the heart?  wink


The heart is alive and well, and right where we have always understood - in our heart or hearts - it needs to be. Behind the mind. Our ‘cart’ to the mind’s ‘horse’. ‘Truth?’ is about final dismissal of our pretense of having two independent horses. All of our little theisms are desperate to maintain our belief that the universe as percieved through reason is unacceptable to the heart. That we can’t finally bear to look at it with reason’s unflinching honesty. But this seems to me to be pure self serving BS. The nasty little creatures are simply fighting for their lives, and they will use every trick in the book. Go back to Post 32 here, or any of the books mentioned at the beginning of my pasted in paragraph from the previous post, and see if you really want to ask again ‘where is the heart’.  smile

 
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11 December 2008 03:58
 
keith - 10 December 2008 06:29 AM

all of the beautiful and satisfying subjective knowledge that can be seen to flow from this… does not need the illusory reinforcement of being representative of the actual state of reality. To circle back at last to my header statement: We know why we believe what we believe.

You’re simply preaching, now, Keith, or maybe just declaring your aesthetics. There’s little with which to engage any more.

For you to treat the “actual state of reality” as if if was just another aesthetic harms no one but yourself. As some wag around here recently opined, you can’t play the tuba just because you think you can. You can blow into it, but the actual state of reality will reflect the fact that you can’t play it.

[ Edited: 11 December 2008 06:05 by Traces Elk]
 
 
burt
 
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11 December 2008 09:30
 
keith - 11 December 2008 08:46 AM
burt - 10 December 2008 01:23 PM

Keith, I appreciate your efforts to clear out the clutter of the chattering mind, but do have a question:

In the space of pure reason that remains, devoid of thought, with all theories, beliefs, suppositions held in suspension, (that transparent space of crystal clear perception tinged with golden shimmer), where is the heart?  wink


The heart is alive and well, and right where we have always understood - in our heart or hearts - it needs to be. Behind the mind. Our ‘cart’ to the mind’s ‘horse’. ‘Truth?’ is about final dismissal of our pretense of having two independent horses. All of our little theisms are desperate to maintain our belief that the universe as percieved through reason is unacceptable to the heart. That we can’t finally bear to look at it with reason’s unflinching honesty. But this seems to me to be pure self serving BS. The nasty little creatures are simply fighting for their lives, and they will use every trick in the book. Go back to Post 32 here, or any of the books mentioned at the beginning of my pasted in paragraph from the previous post, and see if you really want to ask again ‘where is the heart’.  smile

I hope you’re not referring to Plato’s analogy of a chariot drawn by two horses, because if so you’re putting Descartes before de horse.  cheese

 
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11 December 2008 09:35
 
Salt Creek - 11 December 2008 08:58 AM
keith - 10 December 2008 06:29 AM

all of the beautiful and satisfying subjective knowledge that can be seen to flow from this… does not need the illusory reinforcement of being representative of the actual state of reality. To circle back at last to my header statement: We know why we believe what we believe.

You’re simply preaching, now, Keith, or maybe just declaring your aesthetics. There’s little with which to engage any more.

For you to treat the “actual state of reality” as if if was just another aesthetic harms no one but yourself. As some wag around here recently opined, you can’t play the tuba just because you think you can. You can blow into it, but the actual state of reality will reflect the fact that you can’t play it.

I think both of you are a bit off here.  I don’t think keith is taking the “actual state of reality” as just another aesthetic, but he is saying that our theories can only be imperfect representations of that state.  (I hope he is not pushing that further and saying there is no such state!)  On the other hand, the way keith phrases it suggests that we don’t even need to believe we are describing reality as best we can given current rational and empirical methods, which is disgustingly postmodern.

 
johnny rocket
 
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13 December 2008 19:46
 

Perhaps you may want to take a few steps back and consider the wider picture, like the HRO scenario.

http://markplain.com/hro_scenario.aspx

 
keith
 
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14 December 2008 07:38
 
burt - 11 December 2008 02:35 PM
Salt Creek - 11 December 2008 08:58 AM
keith - 10 December 2008 06:29 AM

all of the beautiful and satisfying subjective knowledge that can be seen to flow from this… does not need the illusory reinforcement of being representative of the actual state of reality. To circle back at last to my header statement: We know why we believe what we believe.

You’re simply preaching, now, Keith, or maybe just declaring your aesthetics. There’s little with which to engage any more.

For you to treat the “actual state of reality” as if if was just another aesthetic harms no one but yourself. As some wag around here recently opined, you can’t play the tuba just because you think you can. You can blow into it, but the actual state of reality will reflect the fact that you can’t play it.

I think both of you are a bit off here.  I don’t think keith is taking the “actual state of reality” as just another aesthetic, but he is saying that our theories can only be imperfect representations of that state. (I hope he is not pushing that further and saying there is no such state!)  On the other hand, the way keith phrases it suggests that we don’t even need to believe we are describing reality as best we can given current rational and empirical methods, which is disgustingly postmodern.


Burt,

I’m very curious as to what phrases in ‘Truth?’ suggest this conclusion. If you can show them to me then I’ll change them, as it’s certainly not my intended meaning. Re postmodernism: How long since you’ve been back for a look at the actual essay? Its strong opposition to postmodernism (or more precisely, for our purposes, to its philosophical wing ‘post-structuralism/knowledge-relativism’) has now been made even more explicit. The essay as it stands is about as friendly to p-s/k-r as pure chlorine bleach is to bacteria.

On the question of whether we are obliged, through reason, to consider ourselves to be dealing with an objective and free-standing reality: My whole essay rests on its ‘Point 1’; and I cannot see how I could have built into Point 1 a more explicit ‘Yes’ answer to that question.


SC,

I must tiredly repeat my invitation to engage me on some (any) of the substantive points of ‘Truth?’ rather than continuing with these rhetorical sniper shots. You may wish to interpret your ability to recognize bad tuba playing as a capacity for the generation of qualitatively superior knowledge. But you have yet to tell me either how (in juxtaposition to ‘Truth’s’ Point 1) you can do this, or why you wish to do it. We both recognize evidence as reason’s deepest root, and reason as our primary determinant for knowledge. So, to put this again clearly in front of you:

“I am proposing abandonment of our idea that we possess a special and qualitatively better kind of knowledge – which I believe myself to have shown to be (A) widely held*, and (B) an illusion** – and I am suggesting abandonment of the most explicit words (‘true’ and ‘truth’) through which we have observably been maintaining this idea as our most elegant and direct way of embarking upon the project.

* For the most compelling corroboration of this claim I would suggest a fresh look at our world’s present plethora of logically exclusive and irrational knowledge systems. To deal only with the tip of this iceberg: The defining proposals of Christianity logically exclude those of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and so on. Each of whose defining proposals logically exclude those of all of the others. None of these can be seen to be in any sense rational, as they are all logically excluded by our system of directly observation based knowledge (science). So to maintain any one of them - in preference to the others and to our observation based system - that one must be understood to have some additional, and reason independent, property. Most simply; it must be offered and accepted as a special and better kind of knowledge. To drive this nail one last time: I am saying that our world could only be as it can be seen to be by virtue of our having been doing the thing that I claim that we have been doing. Explicitly, non-rhetorically; I would ask all who claim to follow reason but who would dismiss this essay on the easy and superficial ‘straw man’ charge to answer me here. <-SC?

** Once more: If Point 1 stands (if we create all of the divisions through which we can have knowledge) then we have never had a special and better kind of knowledge. Reason and ‘truth’ are simply, at this deepest accessible level, mutually exclusive.”

 
keith
 
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14 December 2008 07:55
 
johnny rocket - 14 December 2008 12:46 AM

Perhaps you may want to take a few steps back and consider the wider picture, like the HRO scenario.

http://markplain.com/hro_scenario.aspx

Johnny,

Thanks for the link. I’d agree that the HRO scenario has more to recommend it than any of our ancient theisms; and certainly more than their modern variants, like Scientology.

BR,

Keith

 
burt
 
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14 December 2008 09:08
 
keith - 14 December 2008 12:38 PM
burt - 11 December 2008 02:35 PM
Salt Creek - 11 December 2008 08:58 AM
keith - 10 December 2008 06:29 AM

all of the beautiful and satisfying subjective knowledge that can be seen to flow from this… does not need the illusory reinforcement of being representative of the actual state of reality. To circle back at last to my header statement: We know why we believe what we believe.

You’re simply preaching, now, Keith, or maybe just declaring your aesthetics. There’s little with which to engage any more.

For you to treat the “actual state of reality” as if if was just another aesthetic harms no one but yourself. As some wag around here recently opined, you can’t play the tuba just because you think you can. You can blow into it, but the actual state of reality will reflect the fact that you can’t play it.

I think both of you are a bit off here.  I don’t think keith is taking the “actual state of reality” as just another aesthetic, but he is saying that our theories can only be imperfect representations of that state. (I hope he is not pushing that further and saying there is no such state!)  On the other hand, the way keith phrases it suggests that we don’t even need to believe we are describing reality as best we can given current rational and empirical methods, which is disgustingly postmodern.


Burt,

I’m very curious as to what phrases in ‘Truth?’ suggest this conclusion. If you can show them to me then I’ll change them, as it’s certainly not my intended meaning. Re postmodernism: How long since you’ve been back for a look at the actual essay? Its strong opposition to postmodernism (or more precisely, for our purposes, to its philosophical wing ‘post-structuralism/knowledge-relativism’) has now been made even more explicit. The essay as it stands is about as friendly to p-s/k-r as pure chlorine bleach is to bacteria.

On the question of whether we are obliged, through reason, to consider ourselves to be dealing with an objective and free-standing reality: My whole essay rests on its ‘Point 1’; and I cannot see how I could have built into Point 1 a more explicit ‘Yes’ answer to that question.

I’m aware of your attitude toward postmodernism, but some of the recent rhetoric was blurring things (especially Salt Creek’s, which may well have been his intent). 

keith - 14 December 2008 12:38 PM

** Once more: If Point 1 stands (if we create all of the divisions through which we can have knowledge) then we have never had a special and better kind of knowledge. Reason and ‘truth’ are simply, at this deepest accessible level, mutually exclusive.”

I think we’re in agreement that rationally constructed views of the world and of experience can only be imperfect images, but reason can point beyond itself.  The catch is that what it points to can’t, by definition, be rational (if it could be captured in concepts and language then it could be analyzed and rationalized).  That is why, as I see it, all the various theist beliefs and other systems such as Buddhism, while apparently contradictory, may be pointing to the same reality although they are, for the most part hopelessly outdated in their conceptual apparatus, and burdened with much that is just attempts to impose what once were thought of as necessary social controls. (In one sense, they mistake the container for the content and so each insists that it’s particular glass is the only one that wine can be drunk from.)

As for your comment above, I strongly recommend reading the first page in G. Spencer-Brown’s Laws of Form.  It gives one of the most beautiful descriptions I’ve ever seen of how we produce divisions, attach value to content, label content with a term referring to its value, and then identify the name with the reality.

 
burt
 
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14 December 2008 10:18
 

I dug the Spencer-Brown reference out of an old file.

“We take as given the idea of distinction and the idea of indication, and that we cannot make an indication without drawing a distinction.
“We take, therefore, the form of distinction as the Form.
“Distinction is perfect continence.
“That is to say, a distinction is drawn by arranging a boundary with separate sides so that a point on one side cannot reach the other side without crossing the boundary.  For example, in a plane space a circle draws a distinction.
“Once a distinction is drawn, the spaces, states, or contents on each side of the boundary, being distinct, can be indicated.
“There can be no distinction without motive, and there can be no motive unless contents are seen to differ in value. 
“If a content is of value, a name can be taken to indicate this value.
“Thus the calling of the name can be identified with the value of the content.”

 
Traces Elk
 
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14 December 2008 10:30
 
keith - 14 December 2008 12:38 PM

Reason and ‘truth’ are simply, at this deepest accessible level, mutually exclusive.”

Reason cut loose from evidence is fucked, Keith, and if you’d wanted to construct a robust thesis lacking obfuscation, it could have been that. The strawman here is “Truth”, but that’s not quite what you’re interested in knocking down. That’s why I suggest to you that appreciation of the scientific method is a qualitatively superior form of knowledge. Tell us what you think of Spurt’s claim that

reason can point beyond itself.

Sure, reason can point beyond itself. And fucking do what? All that gesticulation, plus a shiny coin…. You know the drill. Reason’s best moments in pointing beyond itself are in organizing the evidence that what it is pointing at is unreason.

I am proposing abandonment of our idea that we possess a special and qualitatively better kind of knowledge…

Then you’re proposing the abandonment of the idea that scientific knowledge is qualitatively better. This may be an aesthetic for some people, especially the brown rice and tofu crowd of virtue-crats. I’m just riffing off your use of the word “better”, and your notion that not only are theistic and other nebulous philosophical claims failures at being “better”, but that scientific knowledge is a failure also. You’re not simply after “Truth”, Keith. You’re after the privileged POV itself, most likely as a preamble to some sort of woo. Naturally, whatever brand of woo you’ve got up your sleeve is going to be a poor relative until you break the franchise of the “Truthy” religions. Bitching that science doesn’t answer all your questions, and then citing nonsense questions as your support is a dead end. Those who ask nonsense questions as if the Universe owed them answers don’t deserve any answers.

This is why I don’t know where you get off posting a thesis that you seem to imply is unbreakable. Which makes it just another installment of self-eclipsing philosophical bullshit. Perhaps it is your own thesis that fails worst of all, because it pretends to be outside of the system it is dismantling. This is stealthily a post-modern or post-structuralist stance, which seeks to question everything except itself. Trust me, I’m not going to turn science over to you in some sort of trade for getting rid of Xians.

In fact, you claim that I have failed to answer the bell you have rung for the next round precisely because you fail to recognize your own conviction that your thesis is unbreakable. So much for a guy who wants to abandon the concept of “Truth”. You’re not obviously a professional academic philosopher. Who are you, but a guy who pastes up a thesis on a website and throws a shitfit when the whole world doesn’t bow down before it?

keith - 14 December 2008 12:38 PM

I would ask all who claim to follow reason but who would dismiss this essay on the easy and superficial ‘straw man’ charge to answer me here.

The blithering arrogance of that challenge is astonishing. This conversation has degraded into comic opera, in which you still think you’re singing the aria,  but fail to appreciate the comedy, hence you end up singing without smiling. You’ve crossed the line from discussing what you think are the problems with the concept of “Truth” (your strawman put up in service of damaging organized religion) to proclaiming how ironclad is your thesis (“there is no qualitatively superior form of knowledge”) and making this into a cage fight, with the schoolyard taunt “answer me here”, which just makes you look like a clown.

There’s nothing I can do to induce a person to agree that medicine and technology have been arrived at via application of a qualitatively superior approach to knowledge. While there is still a choice, such curmudgeons can always choose to live in a cave and eat tree bark. I don’t give a fuck about that sort of “agreement”. Your unbreakable thesis may simply be that the value placed upon knowledge is not knowledge. Where will your thesis be when human beings are extinct? Human extinction itself has no power to invalidate the conclusions of evolutionary biology arrived at by human beings.

[ Edited: 14 December 2008 19:27 by Traces Elk]
 
 
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19 December 2008 06:43
 

quote author=“Salt Creek” date=“1229297447”]

keith - 14 December 2008 12:38 PM

Reason and ‘truth’ are simply, at this deepest accessible level, mutuall[y exclusive.”

Reason cut loose from evidence is fucked, Keith, and if you’d wanted to construct a robust thesis lacking obfuscation, it could have been that. The strawman here is “Truth”, but that’s not quite what you’re interested in knocking down. That’s why I suggest to you that appreciation of the scientific method is a qualitatively superior form of knowledge. Tell us what you think of Spurt’s claim that

reason can point beyond itself.

K: You still seem to be attacking some kind of poststructuralism; but that is also the clearly stated initial target of my thesis (?!). ‘Reason cut loose from evidence’ would indeed be like cellular respiration cut loose from biochemistry. Everything in my essay (but most explicitly, its Point #6) would controvert this. Re the ‘strawman charge’, you continue to advance this while ignoring all invitations to substantiate it. That’s the kind of thing that we both expect from the ‘I know that Jesus loves me because I can feel Him in my heart’ crowd. What happened to my friend SC the rationalist?

As to Burt’s claim: I agree with it in the very clear and limited sense that can be seen to underlie this thread’s Post #32. I think that reason can – per ‘Truth’s’ Point 6 – show itself to be our only fully coherent basis for knowledge selection. It cannot therefore ‘point beyond itself’ in the sense that I believe Burt to be suggesting*. It can only do so in the sense of understanding that even it exists merely in terms of, and by virtue of, the divisions that we impose on reality; and that these can be seen to include even our deepest division (for each of us, the ‘me’ as distinct from ‘everything else’).

*I’m afraid that what Burt wants from ‘point beyond itself’ is to be able to keep thinking of himself as a rationalist while avoiding the obligation that this seems to me to entail; of pointing out to all who he can see to propagating systems of proposals that are antithetical to reason (first, and ‘tip of the iceberg’, all of our ancient theisms) that they are wrong in the simplest and clearest sense of ‘wrong’ that can be established by human minds.

Salt Creek - 14 December 2008 03:30 PM

Sure, reason can point beyond itself. And fucking do what? All that gesticulation, plus a shiny coin…. You know the drill. Reason’s best moments in pointing beyond itself are in organizing the evidence that what it is pointing at is unreason.

I am proposing abandonment of our idea that we possess a special and qualitatively better kind of knowledge…

Then you’re proposing the abandonment of the idea that scientific knowledge is qualitatively better.

I am indeed. As suggested several times in ‘Truth?’; all human knowledge finally to live or die on a single level playing field. No qualitative superiority anywhere. But now consider the question: How can the playing field itself be seen to work? [Note carefully: I’m not asking ‘How can it be seen to work best?’. I’m asking ‘How can it be seen to work at all?]  Let me paste in another little footnote from ‘Truth?’

* We are here, yet again, at my underlying point. We can see ourselves to have nothing but our perceptive and cognitive faculties through which to prefer the defining proposals of any irrational knowledge system (for example, Catholic Christianity) over those of any other (say, Scientology). But we cannot, through honest reference to these faculties, arrive at an irrational system. The honest question “What should we embrace as knowledge?” is a direct appeal to observation and observation grounded reason. We can understand these to be capable of yielding – through their apparent interaction with reality (in essence, through their apparent constraint by reality) – a functional distinction between knowledge and non-knowledge. We cannot understand the dishonest question “What would we like to embrace as knowledge?” to be capable of any such distinction. Basically, we can find no coherent constraint on ‘what we would like’. Anything - and so, in the end, nothing - can be clearly selected.

Are you worried that the theists will actually be able to do for their systems of irrational and mutually exclusive proposals the thing that we finally had to admit – about 75 years ago – that we will never be able to do for our clearly rational system (science)? Do you think that if we explicitly and formally give up the illusion of qualitative superiority for our knowledge the theists will finally be able to justify it for theirs?

Salt Creek - 14 December 2008 03:30 PM

This may be an aesthetic for some people, especially the brown rice and tofu crowd of virtue-crats. I’m just riffing off your use of the word “better”, and your notion that not only are theistic and other nebulous philosophical claims failures at being “better”

 
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19 December 2008 06:43
 

quote author=“Salt Creek” date=“1229297447”]

keith - 14 December 2008 12:38 PM

Reason and ‘truth’ are simply, at this deepest accessible level, mutuall[y exclusive.”

Reason cut loose from evidence is fucked, Keith, and if you’d wanted to construct a robust thesis lacking obfuscation, it could have been that. The strawman here is “Truth”, but that’s not quite what you’re interested in knocking down. That’s why I suggest to you that appreciation of the scientific method is a qualitatively superior form of knowledge. Tell us what you think of Spurt’s claim that

reason can point beyond itself.

K: You still seem to be attacking some kind of poststructuralism; but that is also the clearly stated initial target of my thesis (?!). ‘Reason cut loose from evidence’ would indeed be like cellular respiration cut loose from biochemistry. Everything in my essay (but most explicitly, its Point #6) would controvert this. Re the ‘strawman charge’, you continue to advance this while ignoring all invitations to substantiate it. That’s the kind of thing that we both expect from the ‘I know that Jesus loves me because I can feel Him in my heart’ crowd. What happened to my friend SC the rationalist?

As to Burt’s claim: I agree with it in the very clear and limited sense that can be seen to underlie this thread’s Post #32. I think that reason can – per ‘Truth’s’ Point 6 – show itself to be our only fully coherent basis for knowledge selection. It cannot therefore ‘point beyond itself’ in the sense that I believe Burt to be suggesting*. It can only do so in the sense of understanding that even it exists merely in terms of, and by virtue of, the divisions that we impose on reality; and that these can be seen to include even our deepest division (for each of us, the ‘me’ as distinct from ‘everything else’).

*I’m afraid that what Burt wants from ‘point beyond itself’ is to be able to keep thinking of himself as a rationalist while avoiding the obligation that this seems to me to entail; of pointing out to all who he can see to propagating systems of proposals that are antithetical to reason (first, and ‘tip of the iceberg’, all of our ancient theisms) that they are wrong in the simplest and clearest sense of ‘wrong’ that can be established by human minds.

Salt Creek - 14 December 2008 03:30 PM

Sure, reason can point beyond itself. And fucking do what? All that gesticulation, plus a shiny coin…. You know the drill. Reason’s best moments in pointing beyond itself are in organizing the evidence that what it is pointing at is unreason.

I am proposing abandonment of our idea that we possess a special and qualitatively better kind of knowledge…

Then you’re proposing the abandonment of the idea that scientific knowledge is qualitatively better.

I am indeed. As suggested several times in ‘Truth?’; all human knowledge finally to live or die on a single level playing field. No qualitative superiority anywhere. But now consider the question: How can the playing field itself be seen to work? [Note carefully: I’m not asking ‘How can it be seen to work best?’. I’m asking ‘How can it be seen to work at all?]  Let me paste in another little footnote from ‘Truth?’

* We are here, yet again, at my underlying point. We can see ourselves to have nothing but our perceptive and cognitive faculties through which to prefer the defining proposals of any irrational knowledge system (for example, Catholic Christianity) over those of any other (say, Scientology). But we cannot, through honest reference to these faculties, arrive at an irrational system. The honest question “What should we embrace as knowledge?” is a direct appeal to observation and observation grounded reason. We can understand these to be capable of yielding – through their apparent interaction with reality (in essence, through their apparent constraint by reality) – a functional distinction between knowledge and non-knowledge. We cannot understand the dishonest question “What would we like to embrace as knowledge?” to be capable of any such distinction. Basically, we can find no coherent constraint on ‘what we would like’. Anything - and so, in the end, nothing - can be clearly selected.

Are you worried that the theists will actually be able to do for their systems of irrational and mutually exclusive proposals the thing that we finally had to admit – about 75 years ago – that we will never be able to do for our clearly rational system (science)? Do you think that if we explicitly and formally give up the illusion of qualitative superiority for our knowledge the theists will finally be able to justify it for theirs?

Salt Creek - 14 December 2008 03:30 PM

This may be an aesthetic for some people, especially the brown rice and tofu crowd of virtue-crats. I’m just riffing off your use of the word “better”, and your notion that not only are theistic and other nebulous philosophical claims failures at being “better”, but that scientific knowledge is a failure also.

Again, what you seem to be understanding as my position is its antithesis. Science is constantly identified and explained throughout ‘Truth?’ as our only ultimately coherent form of knowledge. It is the one that can be seen to be grounded directly in reason, which can be seen to be grounded directly in our observations. Through reference to Point 1, we still can’t be justified in ascribing qualitative superiority to it. We can’t claim for science the additional and human-choice-independent quality that we can see ourselves to have been invoking through our ‘true’ and ‘truth’ if we have been using these non redundantly. But should we consider that to be a failure? If you finally had to concede, after tens of thousands of years, the absurdity of trying to pick yourself up by your own ankles, would you regard it as a failure?

Salt Creek - 14 December 2008 03:30 PM

You’re not simply after “Truth”, Keith. You’re after the privileged POV itself, most likely as a preamble to some sort of woo. Naturally, whatever brand of woo you’ve got up your sleeve is going to be a poor relative until you break the franchise of the “Truthy” religions.

Again, Yes! I am indeed ‘after the privileged POV itself’. If we continue to claim ‘privilege’ on grounds that we can’t finally coherently defend, then of course the theists will too. The ancient deadlock between our two sides will continue. As to any woo that I might have ‘up my sleeve’; my best offering for woo is already sitting right out on the table in this thread’s Post 32.

- continued below -

 
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19 December 2008 06:49
 
Salt Creek - 14 December 2008 03:30 PM

Bitching that science doesn’t answer all your questions, and then citing nonsense questions as your support is a dead end. Those who ask nonsense questions as if the Universe owed them answers don’t deserve any answers.

Of course science doesn’t answer all of my questions (nor, I strongly suspect, all of yours). But I can’t recall ever ‘bitching’ about this. As to my asking ‘nonsense questions’; you know that that’s not how it works over here on our side of the fence. If you want to level this accusation at someone who even presents himself as a fellow rationalist then you need to provide some substantiation or justification. ‘Your questions are unclear’, or ‘Your questions can be shown, analytically, to be unanswerable’. You know the kind of thing.

Salt Creek - 14 December 2008 03:30 PM

This is why I don’t know where you get off posting a thesis that you seem to imply is unbreakable.

If poststructuralism is finally accepted then there are no unbreakable theses. But if Points 1 and 3 of ‘Truth?’ are accepted then unbreakable thesis are possible. I do believe ‘Truth?’ to be unbreakable. But based on my awareness that many people have previously been mistaken in this belief about their ideas I posted the link to it here to give smart people like you a shot at breaking it. This is what I’m still hoping for from your side. All of your attacks so far seem to me to have been directed against an antithesis of ‘Truth?’ that you constructed through an initial emotion based misinterpretation. But please don’t understand me to be implying from that that the blame is all on your side. I think that mutual failure, in all cases of misinterpretation between primarily rational people, can be demonstrated as an additional corollary from Point 3. 

Salt Creek - 14 December 2008 03:30 PM

Which makes it just another installment of self-eclipsing philosophical bullshit. Perhaps it is your own thesis that fails worst of all, because it pretends to be outside of the system it is dismantling. This is stealthily a post-modern or post-structuralist stance, which seeks to question everything except itself.

‘Truth?’s’ intended point is that everything including itself should be questioned. And should then – if the fundamental insight of ‘Truth?’ must on this basis be accepted – be held tentatively/conditionally, as ‘best present knowledge’, and for exactly as long as it can be demonstrated to be such. This, rather than our illusion of possession of a qualitatively superior basis for some our knowledge, can be seen to have always been science’s root. ‘Truth?’ is merely about extending that realization to underpin, and thereby re-unite with science, the rest of our knowledge.

Salt Creek - 14 December 2008 03:30 PM

Trust me, I’m not going to turn science over to you in some sort of trade for getting rid of Xians.

In fact, you claim that I have failed to answer the bell you have rung for the next round precisely because you fail to recognize your own conviction that your thesis is unbreakable. So much for a guy who wants to abandon the concept of “Truth”. You’re not obviously a professional academic philosopher. Who are you, but a guy who pastes up a thesis on a website and throws a shitfit when the whole world doesn’t bow down before it?

keith - 14 December 2008 12:38 PM

I would ask all who claim to follow reason but who would dismiss this essay on the easy and superficial ‘straw man’ charge to answer me here.

The blithering arrogance of that challenge is astonishing. This conversation has degraded into comic opera, in which you still think you’re singing the aria,  but fail to appreciate the comedy, hence you end up singing without smiling. You’ve crossed the line from discussing what you think are the problems with the concept of “Truth” (your strawman put up in service of damaging organized religion) to proclaiming how ironclad is your thesis (“there is no qualitatively superior form of knowledge”) and making this into a cage fight, with the schoolyard taunt “answer me here”, which just makes you look like a clown.

I’d ask you to consider the possibility that all of this ad hominum stuff is emotionally based. I don’t find the cage fight a very good analogy. My intention is simply to ask you too consistently and coherently apply to ‘Truth?’ your own stated criteria for the selection of proposals as knowledge. If you consider its questions to be in any sense unfair, or unclear, or intellectually dishonest, then I’d ask you to tell me. Or else to answer them. Or else to accept the implications of your inability to do so. If we’ve really passed the point of one crusty old rationalist being able to say to another – after as much ink as has been unproductively spilled between us – “OK you old bastard, answer me here”, then poststructuralism’s victory is complete and permanent.

BR,

Keith

PS: Burt: Answer early next week. For now I am not in a good net access situation.

 
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19 December 2008 06:57
 

Apology for the confusion/duplication. I´m now in Chile, on a friend´s computer, trying to deal with the very strange `hispanic` keyboard.

BR to all,

Keith

 
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19 December 2008 08:01
 
keith - 19 December 2008 11:43 AM
Salt Creek - 14 December 2008 03:30 PM

Sure, reason can point beyond itself. And fucking do what? All that gesticulation, plus a shiny coin…. You know the drill. Reason’s best moments in pointing beyond itself are in organizing the evidence that what it is pointing at is unreason.

I am proposing abandonment of our idea that we possess a special and qualitatively better kind of knowledge…

Then you’re proposing the abandonment of the idea that scientific knowledge is qualitatively better.

I am indeed. As suggested several times in ‘Truth?’; all human knowledge finally to live or die on a single level playing field. No qualitative superiority anywhere. But now consider the question: How can the playing field itself be seen to work? [Note carefully: I’m not asking ‘How can it be seen to work best?’. I’m asking ‘How can it be seen to work at all?’

Let the record then show that Keith deems scientific knowledge to be qualitatively equivalent to (no better than) any other form of “rationalism”, but that all such forms are superior to woo-woo.

All human knowledge has to live or die on a single level playing field.

Do expose the assumptions underlying this, namely that “man is the measure of all things”. I did ask you about human extinction, and whether or not you think anything will actually happen after people are gone. You may find the question irrelevant to your, er, needs. I did point out that “value” is not knowledge. If you assert that “value” is “important”, you should explain the assertion. Then I think you will be able to answer your question ‘How can it be seen to work at all?’

keith - 19 December 2008 11:43 AM
Salt Creek - 14 December 2008 03:30 PM

This may be an aesthetic for some people, especially the brown rice and tofu crowd of virtue-crats. I’m just riffing off your use of the word “better”, and your notion that not only are theistic and other nebulous philosophical claims failures at being “better”, but that scientific knowledge is a failure also.

Again, what you seem to be understanding as my position is its antithesis. Science is constantly identified and explained throughout ‘Truth?’ as our only ultimately coherent form of knowledge. It is the one that can be seen to be grounded directly in reason, which can be seen to be grounded directly in our observations. Through reference to Point 1, we still can’t be justified in ascribing qualitative superiority to it.

So let’s leave aside the semantically-ambiguous strawman of “qualitative superiority”. That someone might feel oppressed by the seeming inevitability of certain scientific conclusions (e.g. ‘extinction occurs’) is not my problem.

We can’t claim for science the additional and human-choice-independent quality that we can see ourselves to have been invoking through our ‘true’ and ‘truth’ if we have been using these non redundantly. But should we consider that to be a failure? If you finally had to concede, after tens of thousands of years, the absurdity of trying to pick yourself up by your own ankles, would you regard it as a failure?

So really, this whole screed is about a tired critique of logical positivism? Spare me. You cannot evade the evidence, even if you can argue rhetorically in circles around it. You have to become a solipsist to toss out the idea of evidence. The knowledge arrived at by sifting the evidence is qualitatively superior, because you cannot deny the evidence, though you can interpret it however you like. Your interpretation, plus a shiny coin…. You know the drill.

keith - 19 December 2008 11:43 AM
Salt Creek - 14 December 2008 03:30 PM

You’re not simply after “Truth”, Keith. You’re after the privileged POV itself, most likely as a preamble to some sort of woo. Naturally, whatever brand of woo you’ve got up your sleeve is going to be a poor relative until you break the franchise of the “Truthy” religions.

Again, Yes! I am indeed ‘after the privileged POV itself’. If we continue to claim ‘privilege’ on grounds that we can’t finally coherently defend, then of course the theists will too.

So you are, Keith, and more power to you. Until you choke on it, you greedy bastard.

You are selling out scientific knowledge as qualitatively equivalent to your philosophical wibble in order to police the theists? They cannot deny the evidence, though they can re-interpret it. All forms of interpretation are wibbling. Critical theory. I have actually read J-F Lyotard (“The Postmodern Condition”), and have been simultaneously impressed and offended by his “work”. He doesn’t expose his assumptions, either.

keith - 19 December 2008 11:49 AM

If poststructuralism is finally accepted then there are no unbreakable theses. But if Points 1 and 3 of ‘Truth?’ are accepted then unbreakable thesis are possible. I do believe ‘Truth?’ to be unbreakable. But based on my awareness that many people have previously been mistaken in this belief about their ideas I posted the link to it here to give smart people like you a shot at breaking it. This is what I’m still hoping for from your side. All of your attacks so far seem to me to have been directed against an antithesis of ‘Truth?’ that you constructed through an initial emotion based misinterpretation.

Are you really sure you are not just misinterpreting my critique, or mislabeling my attacks in order to defend the unbreakability of your thesis. I’ll grant that if you want to declare your thesis unbreakable, you are no post-structuralist. This sword cuts two ways, since you are then defending your personal religion.

I do believe ‘Truth?’ to be unbreakable.

You said that, Keith. Not me. You need your thesis to be unbreakable. Why?

You’re an interesting bloke to talk to, Keith. You refuse to expose your assumptions behind the notion of asserting that

all human knowledge finally to live or die on a single level playing field. No qualitative superiority anywhere.

I suspect it is to try to preserve the integrity of a philosophical argument. What’s the prize at the bottom of that crackerjack box?

 
 
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