Friday, November 28, 2008

Linguistic Analysis

All of the so-called special and artificially designed logical languages are really no more than ad hoc deviations from ordinary language.

Logic Truths and Language Statements

Concepts, statements, and arguments are just ordinary words and statements combined according to a prior system. In this sense, logic itself is merely ordinary grammar and language. I can't come to know or understand anything without having some kind of idea about it. Hence I can't know anything without naming it and using words to describe and discuss it.

Concepts by themselves are not knowledge. Concepts have to be combined in statements. Words and word combinations by themselves just don't make complete sense. Words have to be put into some kind of statement in a structure first, to make a complete thought or become capable of being true or false. In other words, logic is in a sense just the grammar of thought. And logic is the knowledge tool in the same way that language is.

Both language and logic are required to communicate, achieve, obtain, and have knowledge.

I take my use of language for granted, usually not even thinking about it or having any concern with perfecting my use of it. And I treat logic the same way, which is part of why I'm likely to think of mind tools as artificially contrived instruments of scientists instead of basic natural knowledge tools such as concepts, statements, and arguments.

Concepts, statements, and arguments I also take for granted and hardly ever try to understand or master them.

But logic and language are not the same thing. The English word "house" is different from the German "haus", and "haus" is different from the French "maison". Yet all three have the same core meaning, different as words, but all conveying the same basic idea or concept. So there's some difference between linguistic entities called words, and the ideas I intend to convey using those words.

And there's a similar difference between statements and truths:

  • He laid the book on the table.
  • Er hat das Buch auf dem Tiseh gelegt.

These two statements have different grammatical sructures, but say mostly the same common or basic thing. Both statements are designed to express the same basic truth. Given multiple languages, there are a large number of ways to express this truth using statements with different syntactic structures. But unlike grammar and linguistics, logic is about the inferential structures of intended truth, not directly about statements and their linguistic and grammatical structures.

So there are thought rules and active thinking, logical entities and the language used to communicate thoughts about logical entities.

1-3 (8-10)

Mind Tool Inventory 1

I never can know anything without already having some idea or notion of what I'm dealing with. An idea, concept, term, or notion is a prior logical tool that must be used to know anything.

Whatever the exact definition of ideas may be, I still can't know anything without having some idea of what the thing in question is. Otherwise I could not distinguish the thing in question from nothing at all. Any alternative ends up being a rose of a different name, as well as love's labor lost.

Now while ideas, such as "eternity", "logic", "higher than", "evanescent", "fortitude", or "parallelogram", are knowledge tools I can't do without, they're not the only ones. I could multiply my ideas indefinitely, but they still would not be knowledge in the usual sense of the word, although they do assume knowledge about themselves and general reality.

The Idea of the Statement

Suppose I have the ideas of "dull" and "logic". I still have not arrived at the truth that logic is dull, not until I've combined my ideas in a way that will make them capable of being true or false. The notion of parallelogram in itself is neither true or false. Nor is the notion of "logic", "dull", or "angiosperm". And even in combination, ideas do not necessarily become true or false.

Suppose someone were to ask me, "Blue people whom Caesar trusted---is this true or false?" the question could not be answered. But if someone were to ask me, "Caesar trusted blue people," that would present to me something I could believe to be true or false.

So to find truth or knowledge I must also combine my concepts into statements., because only through statements can ideas be true or false and be enough to call knowledge. Just as I can't know anything about anything unless I formulate a statement about it, saying whether the thing in question is this or that, or what is true about it. The tool I use to come to know whether or not something is this or that is the statement. Truth and knowledge are obtained only by using statements.

Another tool is argument. Suppose I have the ideas of logic and "a waste of time", and suppose I've temporarily formulated the statement "Logic is a waste of time". Do I know this for a fact? Am I certain? After all, a statement is susceptible to either truth or falsity. But which is it? Is it true or is it false that logic is a waste of time? The ideas and the statement aren't enough to answer the question. I have to look for some evidence of the truth or falsity of the statement. And to advance evidence is to construct an argument in support or refutation of it.

So I might say "I talked to my friends and they say logic is a waste of time. Therefore I believe it's true." Or I might say, "Any subject that deals with thoughts and words and not with laboratory-testable facts is a waste of time."

There are many arguments that logic is a waste of time, but they're still arguments.

And as arguments, they assume that logic is crucially important. Argument has to be used in the daily process of trying to know and understand things.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Logic, Naturally

We live in a common everyday world of persons and things, beings that exist with their own unique natures and traits, that act and are acted on, and whose being and behavior exist and are intelligible through causes. Our logical tools, such as definitions, syllogisms, universal concepts, affirmative and negative statements, inductions, relations of oppositions, and so on, are adapted to cognizing a world of everyday experience.

Some may say that this common world of everyday experience has been discredited and displaced as a result of the world view of modern science, particularly physics. And a logic adapted to a knowledge of everyday experience must now give way to a logic adapted to getting to know the esoteric world of modern physical science.

But as long as one remains within the context of the elaborate mathematical constructions and theories of modern physics, a logic adapted to the intentional function of enabling us to come to know things in terms of what they are essentially, through their causes and in their acts of existing, appears to be out of place and irrelevant, since mathematical theories of physics seem unconcerned with things such as causes, essences, substances, acts of existing, and so on.

But that does not imply that our world or our logic for understanding our world is discredited or displaced. Scientists cannot avoid being human, immersed in an everyday world of living and nonliving things, friends and enemies, birth and death, joy and sorrow, change and permenance, intelligibility and mystery. And as an inhabitant of this world of common experience, a scientist cannot avoid thinking and reasoning and trying to understand as a human being. So a scientist will want to know what this is, whether that is, and why something else is, a concern with essences, existences, and causes. But such concerns are served only by a human or humanistic logic.

Concepts, statements, and arguments are necessary instruments that we naturally use in trying to understand the world.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hostages to Fortune

"What luck for tyrants that people don't think!"


The Sitting Ducks of Political Correctness

Criminals are bound to pay close attention to those too politically correct to suspect a protected-status person, group, situation, or event.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fun With Self-Exemption

A self-referentially inconsistent statement undercuts itself. It denies or cannot explain something that's required for that statement itself to make sense and be true.

Also, a self-referentially inconsistent statement is its own subject matter. Hence, it refers to itself. But a self-referentially inconsistent statement can't explain or justify itself.

I'm so glad no one can read or communicate a statement in English!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Free Ride for Meaninglessness

My notion of meaninglessness would not draw any conclusions
or have any implications for my life, since that too would fall
under the same category and be jettisoned with the same
eager relish. Any apparent deviation would be purely
arbitrary, so that I would not be accused of capitulating
to some kind of rationalistic objectivism.

So there's no way to tell the difference between "life is
meaningless" and "life is meaningful" since both positions
seem to enjoy all the same supposedly paradoxical
characteristics: self-exemption, self-referential
inconsistency, etc. Surreptious obligation to hold value X
in relation to philosophy Y.

What I would then do is exempt my own views from the premise
of universal absurdity, and then parade them around casually
as if they are necessary imperatives for intellectual salvation. A
"Come to Jesus" all over again, of sorts, but with social
approval retained.

I take my views on the grand tour: through all the motions
of their counterparts: being stated, being held as a
proposition that has some fixed relation to the person who
holds it, declaring it to be somehow appropriate,
acceptable, worth having as a view, asserted, etc., and of
course suspended when I get inconsistency allegations.

Postmodernism has had a really bad time of this, while the
views it has tried to counter have picked up the
methological ball and run with it. Reminds me of the time
I asked a prof at UT what he thought about arbitrary
relativism for the hell of it, using a roulette wheel to
choose which values (or disvalues) to champion. It would
have to be patterned after Wheel of Fortune or else I would
just plain lose interest.

My view would be that values are person-relative, including the
values of meaning, consistency, reason, and
self-referential implications. But to hold this, I would have
to get rid of that nagging backdrop of fixed definitions and
selective preferences, both for my own values and value per se.
Nevertheless, self-exemption and arbitrary deviation are
great fun and should be forced on all at-risk youth.

But the implicit rationalism of all the above still dogs me.

Happy Collectivism!

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Neo-Kantian Logic

I. Transcendentalism Revisited

Our knowledge comes from two sources in the mind: receiving representations of objects, and also conceptualizing representations of objects.

So receiving representations provides given objects, while knowing through representations provides thoughts about objects. Therefore, intuition and concepts are required elements of all knowledge, and neither by themselves can yield knowledge.

Both intuition and concepts are either pure or empirical. They are empirical when sensation is contained in an object. They are pure when no sensation is mixed up with the representation. Therefore, pure intuition contains only the form through which we see. Pure conception is the form through which we think. Pure intuition and pure concepts are only possible as prior notions, while empirical intuition and concepts are only possible in the aftermath of an experience of empirical data.

Sensibility is the mind's ability to receive representations whenever affected. But the understanding is the power to produce representations to spontaneously know things. Our intuition always has to be sensuous and must always be the way we are affected by objects, whereas the understanding is what enables us to think about the objects of our sensuous intuition. Neither one of these faculties is preferable to the other. Without sensibility, objects would not be given to us. And without understanding, we could not think about them.

Thoughts without contents are empty.
Intuitions without concepts are blind.

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

Bored Indifference Posturing as a Way of Life

Modern culture is a refuge camp where all the geniuses have been driven out by an unfriendly regime. But it's also an old flea market where in the middle of a pile of junk those with a good eye find thrown-away treasures.

Alan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind

Lockstep Moralistic Coolness

Behind the objections to rationality and objectivism
lies a guilty conscience about the flimsiness of
modern talk about values.

Saul Bellow

The Concealed Benefits of Decline

I assume a certain psychic unity as a necessary presupposition of writing. You are like me and I am like you, give or take a few minor differences, even if you are a machine.

Maybe my true readers are not here yet, and that my writings will produce them.

Still Small Voice in the Wilderness

"In the greatest confusion there is still an open channel to the soul. It may be difficult to find because by midlife it is overgrown, and some of the wildest thickets that surround it grow out of what we describe as our education. But the channel is always there, and it is our business to keep it open, to have access to the deepest part of ourselves---to that part of us which is conscious of a higher consciousness, by means of which we make final judgments and put everything together.

The independence of this consciousness, which has the strength to be immune to the noise of history and the distractions of our immediate surroundings, is what the life struggle is all about. The soul has to find and hold its ground against hostile forces, sometimes embodied in ideas which frequently deny that soul's very existence, and which indeed often seem to be trying to annul it altogether."

--Saul Bellow


Reflection begins with a problematic difference between a system of thought already in the mind, and some fragment that one wants to include in that system.

A detective reflects on someone's death because there's a conflict between the fact of the person's death and something already in the mind. Detectives order their experience on the principle that events have causes.

This event challenges inclusion in that system of thought. The detective makes the event fit by learning, observing, and reflecting on the details of the problem. Observation is guided by what experience has already taught such as which details are likely to be relevant.

Consequently, the detective pays more attention to bruises apparently made by some blunt instrument, for example. The details don't come from focusing on one thing, one piece of evidence, or one fact. The basis of a new thought must be broad. If the question was merely who might have used the blunt instrument, their would be an indefinitely large number of answers. The question is who must have done this in view of unemptied pockets, signs of a struggle, the butler's loyalty, and perhaps a hundred other things---all relevant details.

A successful conclusion from a single factor alone would be an accident. The conclusion come from all of the facts and rules of thought taken together. The problem is to fit a detached fact into the entire overall system.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

21.01 - Self-Repairing Metasystems

We reflect to solve problems. To solve the problem, you have to know what the problem really is. But to know what the problem is, you have to know what questioning is. A question is a system of ideas that is trying to fix a problem in its own structure. Questioning clarifies the problem to figure out how to solve it. Once the system of ideas is as complete as we can make it, we can construct theories. The more complete the system, the more the solution is better, easier, and faster. Wording the question well is part of the process of answering it.

Very few can or do truly think. Many minds wander from the subject in hopeless reverie or they just get bored. They can't think about ideas. They may be tired or distracted or just not interested. Or they may be over-emotional. They might be insane, or just plain wierd. These things we pass by. They distort and disrupt by breaking in from the outside.They have an importance, and some thinking is at the mercy of those factors.

But thinking can can never surrender itself completely to the control of the subject-matter and it can be objectively logical, even though it can be influenced by instincts, desires, and feelings. If that were not the case, one could not know that fact, much less state it. If all thinking is governed by non-logical factors, then that statement itself is also governed by those non-logical factors, and that statement has no more claim on our acceptance than any other non-logical factor. If we can't solve a problem, it's because of a lack of knowledge or lack of creativity or the will to inquire.

Free Yourself

The opinion that everyone must sacrifice themselves for everyone else, is assumed to be both true and beneficial. It’s repeated often and never questioned. But it's unnecessary, causes bad attitudes, involves conflicts that have nothing to do with you, destroys natural incentive, is logically and practically self-contradictory, and it harms those who are supposed to be benefited by it.

Consciously question those assumptions. They are no longer obstacles. The methods you choose will get rid of restrictions without as much pain and effort as might have been thought. You focus on the methods and the steps .

You maintain control when you focus on the positive as well as thinking out alternatives to the negatives. You control your situation because you know your alternatives.

Knowledge works by merely having it.

Becoming free is simple. It doesn't depend on the support of others. I'm not urging you to accept these ideas.

You’re not obligated. You don't have to change society. You don’t have to convince anyone of anything. You don't need my support of the support of the public.

These ideas depend only on you. If you were the only person who knew about them, they would still be useful. Whether they work for anyone else is irrelevant. You decide whether they can work for you.

You have to make the decisions. I can't tell you how to live. I'll point out alternatives and techniques. You’ll decide which ones to use.

Only deciding everything for yourself produces the purpose and conviction necessary to live freely.

You decide what, how, and why. Otherwise, your hopes, plans, and enthusiasm will cave, once there's interference. I'm not telling you how to live. You have to decide how to live. You have to decide what to do with these ideas. I’m not demanding anything from you. You decide everything for yourself.

Assumptions and restrictions accepted without challenge are often empty once examined closely. There are many specific ways to free yourself from complex problems and perpetual burdens. These techniques for changing to a free life are not some ideal image. I'm not trying to make you conform. They work, if freely chosen and tailored to who you are, what you control, and what you want.

You don't have to accept obligations, liabilities, and demands that others may try to hand you. There's a better way. You are about to discover a fascinating world of naturally motivating and sustaining opportunities.

The Meaning of Life

If there is no God, then what is the meaning of life? Maybe what God supposedly wants or plans is just as unimportant as the possibility of being run over by Santa Claus or being kidnapped by the color green. But this does not diminish the meaning of life. Giving gifts is just as meaningful as ever, even though I don't believe in Santa Claus.

Why am I here? Why do I exist? Atheism has no answer only because the question assumes there must be a reason envisioned by some purposeful God.

It's not a limitation of atheism. The question is similar to "When did you stop beating your spouse?" assuming that the person being addressed has been beating their spouse. If they never beat their spouse, then technically they simply cannot answer the question. (52. Jerome Shaffer, Reality, Knowledge and Values (New York: Random House, 1971), pages 104-105.)

The theist must prove the existence of God. The theist offers an explanation of existence and must give reasons for accepting it. This also applies to the most basic assumptions of atheism, but more about that later.

If the reasoning for belief in God is faulty, then it can't support the claim that God exists. Ignorance of alternative explanations doesn't justify belief in God. Only knowledge justifies beliefs, not ignorance. We cannot cannot merely assume what we're trying to prove. And because we have to start with premises, it is impossible to prove God's existence.

So there is good evidence against the existence of God, generally as a good creator and specifically as in an ultimate personal mind.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Useless Eaters and The New Human

Not everyone who read Darwin became a Nazi. Darwinism is not a sufficient condition for a phenomenon like Naziism, but Darwinism or something equivalent to it, is a necessary condition for Naziism. --adapted from David Berlinski, interview with Ben Stein, 2008

"All that is non-viable in nature invariably perishes. We humans have transgressed the law of natural selection in the last decades. Not only have we supported inferior life-forms, we have encouraged their propagation. Their offspring has produced individuals lower than any beast. What we want from people in the future is different from what was wanted in the past. We must create the new human so that we will not succumb to the degeneration so typical of modern times." --from a Nazi propaganda film

"With savages, the weak in body or mind are eliminated. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propogate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed." --Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 1871

Thursday, November 13, 2008

No Statement Gets a Free Ride

Logic is philosophical and relevant to daily life, even moment to moment.

"The ultimate standards of logical correctness are merely the everyday uses of ordinary language."

Is THAT statement merely an everyday use of ordinary language? If so, how can it even talk about ultimate objects used as universal criteria of truth? It's just language used a certain way, right?

You can often spot a grandiose self-referencing contradiction in its use of the word "merely".

Why would anyone, whose statements and thoughts are merely a way of using language, want to make statements about ultimate standards or criteria of anything?

The actual logical uses of ordinary speech are most obvious in the fact that ordinary conversation is what produced things like symbolic logic and even logic itself. And there are philosophical reasons for using ordinary speech in these ways.

Some say the way we use language is just accidental and has no philosophical intelligibility. But how then can language be used for such practical and theoretic efficiencies as intended goals and the construction of a system of philosophical concepts and terms?

What is properly or uniquely philosophical in being logical? What value is there in knowing logical techniques and procedures?

This line of questioning can be answered only by knowing something about the philosophical grounds and the importance of logical tools and techniques.

Constructing, analysing, and changing systems of thought is itself pre-theoretic, used much like breathing prior to any philosophical reflection.

Logical forms are about things, pertain to things, predicate something about some object, and that's why they're the natural tools for knowing things.

But how do logical forms intend?

Underlying all artificial languages is the necessary natural intuitive logic or common sense which is designed not just for scientists, scholars, technicians, and other specialists but for anyone who wants to understand reality.

Logic is the universal mind-tool correlated to an actual world. And even if one believes the world to be illusory, that illusion has to be treated as an actual world. And all issues remain.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Superficial Plausibilities

Philosophy is my more or less intuitive sense of what life really means to me. Intuition comes before analysis anyway. It's the first step toward thinking about the meaning of life.

That's why we have to learn definitions, for example. They're not already there for all we encounter.

What is true about this universe I'm in? What should I do? What do I want? What do I expect? What is my final destiny? Is immortality possible? Would this life affect any possible future one I might have? Why is everything a struggle, including the struggle to think through these questions? What am I, anyway? What does all this mean?

It's easier to come up with superficially plausible answers to these kinds of questions than it is to discover answers based on convincing reasons from organized analysis. But only post-experience reflection uses evidence and possible answers to fill in an already-existing system.

No limited mind has the complete structure. For that reason, my thought is episodic, uneven, and disconnected. So to develop my thought, I must attack it comprehensively so that it will include a more complete integral system of compared possibilities.

Fun With Devolution

"Humanity would rather do for itself what is right in the moment than consider the wider consequences of its behavior.

I feel like the cow who runs into the field screaming, 'Hey, you know that truck that takes some of our friends away every month? Well, they don't take them to another field like we thought. They shoot them in the head, bleed them dry, cut them up, and put the pieces into packets. Then those humans buy them and eat them!'
Imagine what the reaction of the rest of the herd would be: 'You're crazy, man. They'd never do that. Anyway, I've got shares in that trucking company and I get a good return.'"

--David Icke

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Unsung God of Supervisory Assumptions

What could possibly obligate me when the discussion of obligation itself is ruled by already-assumed statements which have no obligation issue because they are necessarily used to talk about the idea of obligation?

Is there anything that really obligates belief in something? Is it merely a prior committment to act according to a set of rules? Do we have a built-in prior commitment or bias to think and act in a certain way while rejecting all other ways, however provisional that bias might be in principle? Belief in obligating factors of mind, for example.

Why is any question an appropriate object of thought? And what are the irreducible statements assumed in order to know what a question is?

Is there a set of statements that rule all thought without exception? How do we live in relation to them? And would that imply anything about their role in how we are defined as an object that questions? What exactly am I, in asking or thinking about a question, other than being merely a question-asking object?

And are all my actions carried out based on an already believed-in hierarchy of universalized values?