I whole-heartedly believe a number of their “interpretations” in the paper are correct. However, I also find some of their thoughts extremely puzzling, in light of drawing certain interpretations to their logical conclusion, as one philosopher, Kant, has hundreds of years ago. I will give a little technical breakdown of the paper —just bear with me through the math/math-speak, which I only include for the sake of the clarity that my colleagues in the sciences would prefer—, and then discuss issues I see. Given that I have been, for a long time, working with another philosopher of physics on a scientifically-technical philosophical paper that forcefully argues some of the same points, I will not comment on those items I agree with, so as not to give anything away from unpublished work.
The subject of this blog post might as well be catalogued as being among those things that scientists say that makes my head explode. In this case, sitting in the Bloomington Starbucks across from Sample Gates about a month ago, I heard a cognitive science (currently dissertating) PhD candidate say something to the effect: “It’s raw data, so there is no possibility of it being biased.” He was talking to a colleague, defending against some onslaught presented by a journal article, the title of which I didn’t catch. What I want to emphasize is the erroneous thinking of this student, who has since this time successfully defended his PhD thesis. I shake my head at this kind of lack of understanding so many scientists have of their own field and the general nature of science. Particularly egregious was his follow-up comments, which asserted that biasing cannot be added to unbiased data without it being extreme and obvious to all, as if the heavens would open and Zeus would callout, “biased!,” if such were to happen. I’ll only deal with the first statement that I paraphrased above.
In one of my first blog posts, I posted the notes for help in understanding the role Kant’s antinomies play in the refutation of transcendental realism. It was just a skeleton of references and bits of commentary over a secondary sources and the first Critique. I have recently been impelled to flesh out this skeleton. The essay presented is a work in progress. Continue reading →
There is some discussion going on in the blogosphere (and youtube) about whether the world we live in is pluralistic or monistic. Critical Animal’s blog (click here) contains a list of some of these blog posts. As with most ideas, I am of many minds about the issue. While I think I would prefer a world that is as envisioned by the zeitgeist of the Enlightenment, axiomatically and formally structured from the bottom up, it is becoming very difficult to see how the world could be anything other than pluralistic. What I will do in the following is lay out why it seems to me that the world is pluralist, and then lay out why I think the human mind has such a natural bias toward mosism. On the latter point, I think most readers will agree with me that the commonsense disposition —the disposition of any ole jane or joe on the street— is one inclined toward a single truth, possibly slightly more nuanced, in the axiomatic manner I described; and so I will spend some time explaining why this is probably the case.
With the conceptual baggage drawn out more fully and clearly marked, it is clear that the heart of the matter is overcoming correlationism, whose tenet of the subject-object split is paramount. A great deal of work has been performed in the attempt to resolve the issue of the subject-object divide, which originally arose in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. It’s important to understand the centrality of the critical project in this discussion, because Kant’s way of resolving the debate between the rationalists and empiricists synthesized the positions in such a way as to instantiate in remarkably lucid terms, and formulating in its present form, the subject-object divide. Perhaps beginning with an exchange between Chad and Corey is the way to go, and then following it up with a very perceptive remark made in a video (“Ontological Creativity (response to professoranton)”) by Matthew Segall, a graduate student at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Continue reading →
Prefatory remark: I will be breaking this blog into two parts, due to its length.
Corey Anton (of Grand Valley State University) recently published a series of videos (“Ontology”, “Epistemology Is a Subset of Ontology”, “A Lively Dialogue on Ontology, Epistemology, Emergence & Agency”, and “Understanding Agency (Information, Language, Literacy, Calendars)”), hosted by youtube, concerning the idea that epistemology is a subset of ontology.
“Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”
There is one thinker that is, in my opinion, far and away, the greatest thinker of all-time —and I mean it isn’t even close: Immanuel Kant. He improved Newton’s physics by coming up with the modern idea of inertia (and Newton’s physics, still using Aegilus Romanus’ vis inertiae, was a bit of a mess); the idea that there are other galaxies (“island universes”); a metaphysical foundation for Newton’s physics; in a way, resolved the outstanding epistemological debate between the empiricists (Bacon, Hume, Locke, and so on) and the rationalists (Descartes, Berkeley, Leibniz, and so on), giving a framework illustrating that there was another, more attractive option; created the synthetic-analytic distinction that permitted mathematics and morality a completely new classification over and beyond the mere a prior and a posteriori, namely the synthetic a priori; created (as far as I know) the only rationalistic absolute system of morality; provided the modern foundation for cognitive science; and developing some loose rules of thumb for the predication of attributes in logic (resolving the Anselm’s Argument debate in definitive fashion…see below), among many other things. The Critique of Pure Reason is Kant’s most important work, and I think it is the single most important piece of scholarship ever composed; so I recommend starting there. The general consensus is that first Critique is difficult to understand, but a decent piece of secondary literature and Pluhar’s translation should be enough to understand the major points of the work. (Pluhar’s translation sacrifices some accuracy, but this should be of little matter to general readership.) Continue reading →
Kant had a pretty trippy and extremely fascinating view of time. (The Hstorical Dictionary of Kant and Kantianism says “innovative,” which I gladly grant.) For Kant, time is a “pure form of sensible intuition” (Critique of Pure Reason, N. K. Smith trans., 2003, pg. 75), and “[t]ime is nothing but the form of internal sense, that is, of the intuition of ourselves and of our inner senses. It cannot be a determination of outer appearances; it has to do neither with shape nor position, but with the relation of representations in our inner state” (ibid. pg. 77). Continue reading →