Epistemology

[color=green]Spin-off argument from [/color][url=http://tw.forumosa.com/t/more-proof-of-global-warming-part-ii/22638/197 “Proof” of Global Warming: Part II[/url]

[quote=“fred smith”]What does observe mean to you? [/quote] In this context I would say it means experience through the senses.

Schizophrenia, sleepiness, dream states, somebody is playing a trick, time constraints, the limitations of our sensory apparataus… Basically though I think that the existence of some thing or relationship between things can be confirmed if that existence can be confirmed by the observation of other observers. It is not fool proof but it is the best we know of.

Inference of a general law from particular instances. For instances I observed particular instances of human and animal suffering and by a process of inductive reasoning concluded that if there is a god it is a part time evil god.

Goes the opposite direction.

Yes, it invloves simplifying a problem to it’s essentials.

OK first I experienced things and then I used inductive reasoning to conclude, for example, that there is no good and perfect god with a plan. A similar, though less sophisticated process came into play with regard to Sanata Clause and the Easter Bunny.

Yes, I have a beard.

What would you say to this then… in criticism of the idea that Ideas are and can be formed from observation and induction…

[quote]None of these peculiarities of the idea can be discovered in any sensation or image, which always represents sensuous phenomena, existent and concrete. Locke’s “reflection” and Condillac’s “processes of association” will not suffice to transmute sensations into ideas, since these two states are essentially, because objectively (representatively), different. Positivists inadvertently slip in an immaterial agency, whereby indeed they beg the question when they appeal to induction to explain the genesis of knowledge; the inductive process involves universal abstract principles and logical laws which are constituted of ideas that essentially transcend sensations. The supersensuous character of ideas follows equally from their “extension” or range of applicability. Ideas as representative of essences, are available as predicates, and are the terms whereof absolutely universal principles are constituted. Hence ideas are universal, whereas sensations and images can represent only objects that affect the sensory organs, i.e. individual, physically existing objects. Moreover, ideas represent objects as abstract–physically abstract, e.g. individual sensible qualities; mathematically abstract, e.g. extension and number; metaphysically abstract, e.g. nature, entity, substance, truth, etc. And indeed unless ideas were of the abstract there could be no science, physical, mathematical, or philosophical; all these sciences consider their objects apart from concrete individual determinations. No intellectual judgment whatsoever would be possible, since every predicate is a generalized term and hence in some degree abstract. Sensation cannot represent an abstract object; for though the sight, e.g., perceives colour apart from sound, nevertheless

no sense can abstract from the subject-matter–from the existence and individuality of its proper object; the eye does not see colour as such and abstracted, but the coloured object physically and individually existing;
no sense can abstract from its proper object (its appropriate stimulus or object-quality), nor from its common object (quantity, the extended object);
a fortiori, no sense can perceive one dimension of extension or a mathematical point, or things non-existent, or abstract forms like man and humanity.
Nor does the common image suffice to explain the universal idea as Locke and the Herbartians suppose, for the common image, though indistinct, remains always in some way concrete and sensible; since the imagination as primarily reproductive can represent only what the senses have reported. Consciousness attests this; for if the imagination represent e.g. a triangle, it is always of some certain size and shape; it cannot represent a triangle which is neither rectangular, obtuse, nor acute; while the idea of a triangle prescinds from every size or shape. Besides the image there is therefore the thought, the intellectual concept, the latter differing essentially from the former. Hence the common image is not predicable of the individuals distributively because it is still somehow concrete, singular, sensible, material, and represents only quality. Nor can it be predicated as confusedly blending all its inferiors, because the predicate of a judgment is attributed according to comprehension rather than extension. At best, moreover, the image is like to things; the concept is identical with the subject of which it is predicated. According to the empiricists the common image results from a comparison of representations, so that what is common to them, i.e. some pre-eminent quality, stands as the concept. But the intellect would thus have to immediately perceive and compare the images, which is impossible; nor could it form a concept unless a number of sense perceptions and representations of a thing or things of the same species had preceded. We know, however, that we immediately form a concept of a thing, even though perceived but once. Furthermore, in order to form the common image a concept of the object must have preceded; for in order to compare similar things we must previously have perceived their likeness. Now, to perceive their likeness means to perceive some common objective aspect wherein the similar things agree, while differing in other aspects. But this the senses cannot perceive; hence there must precede an intellectual perception of the note of agreement common to the objects represented by the images, i.e. a universal idea must precede the common image. The common image therefore does not precede but follows the common concept, whereof it is a sort of shadow. This is specially so in the case of the productive imagination which re-arranges in new forms previously compared images and hence supposes reflection and judgment, operations which no sense call perform. [/quote]

and then this is the final nail in the coffin…

Naturally, this is not my argument. I could never put this so clearly. But what do you say regarding the issues raised?

The idea of a triangle exists because actual triangles have been observed in reality. If they had never been observed then the possibility of their existence could have been arrived at inductively based on simple geometry. In fact the archetypical triangle, the abstract concept, an object with three straight sides and straight angles adding up to whatever it is, 180 degrees I think, could have been arrived at in no other way.

Sorry, try again.

Sorry… May have to get back to you in a couple of weeks on this. Off soon so may not be accessing computer for a couple of weeks.

Just a cursory glance. I think you missed the point. I apologize for not having the time to go back and reread through the statement, but I believe the point was that ideas CAN be based on inductive reasoning, but the process behind how these ideas are formulated involves universals and abstracts and this is where the problem could arise. Please reread that section once again and get back to me. I will try to come back on tomorrow before my flight.

No, I got it. It just doesn’t make sense. You can pile abstraction upon abstraction if you want but if those abstractions don’t have a basis in physical reality then you are moving into the realm of speculation, imagination, or faith, not knowledge.

Notice too what a poor example the triangle was. If it is possible to have some kind of real knowledge not based on observation or induction based on that experience, why didn’t they give an example that supported that possibility rather than one that contradicted it?

I think that the point was that you were basing knowledge on observation (senses) and induction, but that ideas generated from the two were occasionally contradictory. I realize that this is complicated but my understanding is that to talk about the knowledge that you seem to be discussing, the problem would arise in that you are using your senses to back up your inductive reasoning which would seem logical BUT from a philosophical point of view, you cannot assume that such knowledge would be actual knowledge because you have not clearly defined or proven how that knowledge could be guaranteed to be true knowledge. Philosophers have oft debated how we can actually KNOW anything. I think that your argument is resting on the assumption that your sense knowledge can back up your inductive reasoning and vice versa. I believe that the writer here would disagree with that.

An example would be nice. The example he provided illustrated the exact opposite of what he was saying.

If inductive reasoning and experience confirm a notion it qualifies as knowledge. The three angles of a triangle always add up to 180 degrees. That is a notion that mathematicians can explain I expect and that is always confirmed by experience. I think we can say we have knowledge of what a triangle is. If there is something more to it we have yet to hear what that something is.

That is something I think about whenever I feel like being nauseated. Isn’t there a book about that? By some French guy with a famous grandfather who invented the listen and repeat theory of language learning I think. Or was that Berlitz? No, Berlitz use the language circle and pictures. Les Mot Les Mot they drive me crazeee!

He is free to disagree all he likes, but until he gives me an example I am free to disagree with him as well.

Not necessarily. Certainly, the author makes a good point while this may seem logical, it cannot be proven to be so because senses cannot be used to confirm casuality and it is precisely that casuality which underpins the universal notions that make your inductive statement possible.

You must be using the term in a way that I don’t understand because I use my senses to confirm the cause of things all the time. For example my walls are the exact shade of green that you have in your avatar behing Herr Shroder or whoever he is. I know that what caused the walls to be that colour was me going to the paint store, picking a colour, buying brushes etc. bringing all the junk home and painting the walls. What am I missing?

Oh I understand why you are missing something. It is very difficult to actually question what we “think” that we “know” when it seems to be a given. That is what philosophy is all about: testing and determining exactly what we know and how we can know it. Reread the statement highlighted again about senses not being able to perceive casualty and then there you are.

OK I read it again and I think it is nonsense. This bit especially …

That is not true. If someone posits a “logical law” and that logical law is not subsequently confirmed by observation of physical events then that logical law moves more into the realm of being a mistake, or flawed theory, if you’d prefer. I know how sensitive you fancy pants intellectuals can be.

Do you disagree that this is true?

Do you disagree that this is true?[/quote]

Yes, I disagree that that is true. Or, to put it another way, I agree that it is a mistake. Let me give you an example. Imagine that I go to my doctor and tell him that I plan to hit myself in the head with a sledgehammer and he says “based on my experience based knowledge of seeing people hit themselves on the head with sledgehammers I feel safe in advising against such a plan as it would likely cause a nasty bump.” Since I have a lot of respect for my doctor and his experience based knowledge I would be inclined to heed his advice. It’s a practical thing.

Do you disagree that this is true?[/quote]

On second thought I neither disagree nor disagree with that because it does not in fact say anything. It is a noun group modified by an adjective clause in the passive voice which is in turn modified by an adverb clause. The whole package however lacks a verb and “therefore” constitutes what is known as an incomplete idea and is impossible to agree “or” disagree with.

Do you think that senses can provide knowledge of causes? or rather than you can have definite true knowledge of causes from sense experience?

I think you guys may have switched everyone else off. Anyway just thought you might like to search for Gettier, in regards to the never ending agrument about whether it is possible to know anything (apart from logical truths).

You could also read the link below (i admit I haven’t gone that far through it yet) which seems to be drawingh the whole problem together.
http://www.unc.edu/~ujanel/Gettier.htm

Yes.

And yes, I know this is a trap. I am not, however, interested in avoiding traps. I am interested in learning something I didn’t know before. That has not happened yet in this thread or in the related global warming thread. It has been an interesting writing exercise though, and for that I thank you despite whatever sort of axe you are about to drop on my skinny neck.

This is not a trap. It is a fair question.

Good.

Nothing?

Nothing to drop on your skinny neck. Just an observation (intentional). You cannot prove that true knowledge can be gleaned nor can you use sense experience to prove causes and this is something that has bedeviled philosophers for quite some time. That was what I was referring to earlier with regard to the lofty pronouncements that fans of science bandy about as if they were written in stone. Now, perhaps you will also understand why given these variables, many including those of a scientific frame of mind have gravitated to becoming religious. Once they understand the weak underpinnings of science at least in terms of metaphysics, they have to look elsewhere for answers. Now, I am not in any way suggesting that we get rid of science. I am merely pointing out that to use science to scientifically investigate the principles on which it rests show that it too requires faith to accept. Ironic isn’t it?

Not to me because I don’t agree with what you are saying. Science, basically, is about making theories about cause effect relationships. Smoking causes an increase in cancer rates. Properly designed listening practice causes an improvement in second or foriegn language ability in the motivated student. Either of these propositions can be argued against but not very convincingly. There exist phenomena that we don’t know the cause of, or that we know are the effect of a multitude of (perhaps an infinite number of - perhaps everything fits here ultimately) causes but that does not preclude the possibility that these causes, or the major or most recent causes, are knowable as a result of observation or inductive reasoning. The ultimate cause is perhaps the only unkowable thing but it is truly that, unknowable, and assigning any qualities whatsoever to an entirely unknowable force is pure folly IMHO.

I haven’t the faintest idea what you are talking about here. The point is that if you can, I would like you to prove that sense experience can be the basis for true knowledge of causalities. Now, the point is that while you think that a triangle will always have three sides and it very well may, you cannot prove based on your sense experience (observations) that this was, is and always will be true. You cannot use your sense experience here to support a universal principle or universal truth. That is the plain and simple reality that philosophers have struggled without through millennia. I would be immensely pleased if we were to find some sort of hidden piece to the puzzle that has eluded the world’s greatest minds all these years. So sorry, but you see where you are with this now. And as to that sense experience leading to oh for Christ’s sakes man, you can see that this truth is self-evident. May I point out that it was once self-evident based on sense experience that the earth was flat, that the earth was the center of the universe and no one would have ever been able to foresee the elaborate mechanisms involved in the Theory of Relativity. That is all I am asking. Please admit that universal truths cannot be buttressed by sense experience and labeled as true knowledge.