Causality and consciousness

Discuss philosophical concepts and moral issues.
plebian
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Post by plebian » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:13 pm

Also, I said my interpretation probably means I misunderstood something. My point there was that I really do think philosophy is basically practical. When people make arguments that don't seem relevant to me, my experience suggests that I don't know the larger problem the author is dealing with. If, as subsymbolic said, that paper was a catalyst for him for some category issue having to do with brains and the products of brains, then odds are good that he's structured something to do with a particular way of modeling that question and my ignorance is the basic issue.

Just as my assessment has to do with the problems that I put to the right of the equals sign.

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Post by subsymbolic » Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:29 pm

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
plebian;674814 wrote:Can this paper be summarized with negligible remainder by stating that identity is assigned rather than inherent?
Arguably yes, and imo the implications of that could some day turn out to be as significant as Schopenhauer's ideas on metaphysical voluntarism were for the development of modern biogenetics.[/QUOTE]


Sounds fascinating. Perhaps you could explain the connection.

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Post by ruby sparks » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:16 pm

Who said there was a connection?

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Post by ruby sparks » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:18 pm

[quote=""plebian""]....I really do think philosophy is basically practical. [/quote]

True. Definitely one of the more practical of human endeavours.

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Post by subsymbolic » Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:02 pm

[quote=""ruby sparks""]Who said there was a connection?[/quote]

Paul Grice.

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Post by ruby sparks » Fri Jul 21, 2017 9:24 am

[quote=""subsymbolic""]
ruby sparks;674855 wrote:Who said there was a connection?
Paul Grice.[/QUOTE]

I should have known. Gricey was a genius. That guy once put together an entire Ikea kitchen for me in under 5 hours.
Last edited by ruby sparks on Fri Jul 21, 2017 10:32 am, edited 3 times in total.

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subsymbolic
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Post by subsymbolic » Fri Jul 21, 2017 8:51 pm

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
subsymbolic;674858 wrote:
ruby sparks;674855 wrote:Who said there was a connection?
Paul Grice.
I should have known. Gricey was a genius. That guy once put together an entire Ikea kitchen for me in under 5 hours.[/QUOTE]

What exactly are you trying to achieve in this thread?

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Post by subsymbolic » Fri Jul 21, 2017 9:37 pm

[quote=""subsymbolic""]
plebian;674410 wrote:Some Zen or Taoist type person once summarized a tenet of their schema in a fashion close to the following: Processes and words about processes are not the same and should not be treated as equivalent. When we discover an incongruity between words about processes and perceptions of those processes, there is nothing to do but laugh.

That always struck me as being a very reasonable ontological hedge.

I agree that this makes complete sense from an analytic perspective and, as you have probably noticed, is a significant plank in my own position. However, it doesn't fit remotely well with the core philosophy of Buddhism as it sets up a dichotomy that Buddhism has no chance of escaping

The key implication for Buddhism is not merely this insight. If that were the case, then congratulations upon your satori and I'll see you in, or just outside, the Nirvana gig. The key insight is this, internalised to a process level.

Here. of course, is the problem. When you get down to it, there's only one real process set going on in the brain and it is action free, teleology free and not remotely contiguous with any user illusions except in as much as pain and a small range of discrimination happens* to feel like something. Without the other, more language like user illusions, this is a stark place indeed and while satisfyingly subsymbolic, it represents nothing but itself. You want it to mean anything at all, you need the other user illusions - that this is happening to someone rather than merely happening. When the self drops out, so does any top down binding of sensation. Bottom up binding rubs our nose in the inescapable fact that stuff feels like something because it is what that level of recursion happens to feel likeand for no other reason.

That we went on to build selves around this spark of phenomenology doesn't mean that it works on its own. So you can have illusion or nothing. There's no middle ground.

Meanwhile:

https://www2.southeastern.edu/Academics ... scheme.pdf

CL. Apparently.

* My assumption is that the sort of recursive feedback loops that ensure that the whole brain gets the whole picture just feel like this to the brain having them and thus that the whole zombie thing is simply yet another bad question that confuses the issue. However, there are plenty who think that qualia exist in the same way as, say gravity, and so everything feels, it's just that we are set up to take advantage of this. Ironically this would make consciousness more real than my approach. If it were true.[/QUOTE]

Ok. Returning to this for context. The thrust of Davidson's position is twofold.

1) All this talk of different paradigms, conceptual schemes, lenses, call them what you will, is easily identified bollocks. We only have one, and every variation is perfectly and transitively translatable into every other.

2) If we ever encountered a truly different conceptual scheme then no bridge laws would obtain and there would be literally nothing we could say about it from our own conceptual scheme (although we couldn't ever even be sure that the obverse was true). We wouldn't be able to recognise it as a conceptual scheme and we wouldn't have any way of even starting to make sense of it. We certainly wouldn't be able to say anything about what could be thought in it or what capabilities it had. My point above is merely a corollary of it, not a point Davidson was explicitly making: things that appear logically impossible or that might take until the heat death of the universe to think in our conceptual scheme might actually be trivially easy in another. Obviously, such an idea is logically impossible, but that's to be expected...

Wittgenstein made exactly the same point in a different way. I explained it once before. I think you've read it.

To precis: either things are really different in which case there can be no bridge between them or they are not, in which case a lot of people have been fooling themselves... He's doing a bit of ground clearance, pointing out that we have been trying to have our cake and eat it.

Of more interest to me is the fact that every psychology in existence falls into category one. My point, oft repeated, is that there is (what would be) a level of description within bare brains that falls into category 2. As a result, we can't make any sense of that level of description at all from our conceptual scheme. (Which, as I have argued for ever, is public and entirely and systematically discrete from the inner processes it purports to describe. (yeah, that's language games and intentions and any TOM that arises from the two).

Mind you, I have zero bitcoins, a different (and empty) bank account for internet use and store the majority of savings and private shit in physical stuff that has a history of holding its value when things go tits up. It's a like Y2K except...

Edit - just to be clear - you don't even ever have to know you have such a conceptual scheme, you just have to be able to show that one can exist. Banking, encryption and any notion of privacy all rely on the absolute certainty that some things are impossible in real time. Davidson demonstrates that you can only claim something is impossible relative to a conceptual scheme and the fact that you can't imagine another is no evidence that it doesn't exist, precisely because the only alternative schemes that could exist are the ones you couldn't imagine. The Nazis couldn't imagine the possibility of a machine that could brute search all the possible rotor and board combinations of a five rotor enigma - well they certainly could, but they didn't. This situation is slightly different; we can't imagine a system which you could fully understand what it does without understanding how it works. Well I can, I can imagine (or at least point at, in a wittgensteinian manner) two. I just can't imagine them.

As for any fantasy of privacy...

Well, internet privacy at least. Mental privacy on the other hand... You can judge there's pain, but translate it into language such that you can communicate it? And that's just the very tippytoe of the iceberg... Of course, again, Wittgenstein was all over this a century ago. Clever fucker.
Last edited by subsymbolic on Sat Jul 22, 2017 6:33 am, edited 4 times in total.

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ruby sparks
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Post by ruby sparks » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:21 am

[quote=""subsymbolic""]
ruby sparks;674869 wrote:
subsymbolic;674858 wrote:
ruby sparks;674855 wrote:Who said there was a connection?
Paul Grice.
I should have known. Gricey was a genius. That guy once put together an entire Ikea kitchen for me in under 5 hours.
What exactly are you trying to achieve in this thread?[/QUOTE]

Most recently? Shooting fish in a barrel. You overstate the significance and influence of philosophy, probably out of your love for the subject. I'm just taking the piss ever so slightly.
Last edited by ruby sparks on Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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subsymbolic
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Post by subsymbolic » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:04 am

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
subsymbolic;674883 wrote:
ruby sparks;674869 wrote:
subsymbolic;674858 wrote:
Paul Grice.
I should have known. Gricey was a genius. That guy once put together an entire Ikea kitchen for me in under 5 hours.
What exactly are you trying to achieve in this thread?
Most recently? Shooting fish in a barrel. You overstate the significance and influence of philosophy, probably out of your love for the subject. I'm just taking the piss ever so slightly.[/QUOTE]


Cool. Well you have made that point regularly for the last few years and I think I know where you stand now.

How about we take it as read and you just let those fish who are interested in talking about philosophy get on with it without the sniping?

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ruby sparks
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Post by ruby sparks » Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:06 pm

[quote=""subsymbolic""]Cool. Well you have made that point regularly for the last few years and I think I know where you stand now.

How about we take it as read and you just let those fish who are interested in talking about philosophy get on with it without the sniping?[/quote]

Ok. I'll do my best.

You could always ignore me when I get into cheeky mode.

plebian
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Post by plebian » Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:25 pm

[quote=""subsymbolic""]
subsymbolic;674413 wrote:
plebian;674410 wrote:Some Zen or Taoist type person once summarized a tenet of their schema in a fashion close to the following: Processes and words about processes are not the same and should not be treated as equivalent. When we discover an incongruity between words about processes and perceptions of those processes, there is nothing to do but laugh.

That always struck me as being a very reasonable ontological hedge.

I agree that this makes complete sense from an analytic perspective and, as you have probably noticed, is a significant plank in my own position. However, it doesn't fit remotely well with the core philosophy of Buddhism as it sets up a dichotomy that Buddhism has no chance of escaping

The key implication for Buddhism is not merely this insight. If that were the case, then congratulations upon your satori and I'll see you in, or just outside, the Nirvana gig. The key insight is this, internalised to a process level.

Here. of course, is the problem. When you get down to it, there's only one real process set going on in the brain and it is action free, teleology free and not remotely contiguous with any user illusions except in as much as pain and a small range of discrimination happens* to feel like something. Without the other, more language like user illusions, this is a stark place indeed and while satisfyingly subsymbolic, it represents nothing but itself. You want it to mean anything at all, you need the other user illusions - that this is happening to someone rather than merely happening. When the self drops out, so does any top down binding of sensation. Bottom up binding rubs our nose in the inescapable fact that stuff feels like something because it is what that level of recursion happens to feel likeand for no other reason.

That we went on to build selves around this spark of phenomenology doesn't mean that it works on its own. So you can have illusion or nothing. There's no middle ground.

Meanwhile:

https://www2.southeastern.edu/Academics ... scheme.pdf

CL. Apparently.

* My assumption is that the sort of recursive feedback loops that ensure that the whole brain gets the whole picture just feel like this to the brain having them and thus that the whole zombie thing is simply yet another bad question that confuses the issue. However, there are plenty who think that qualia exist in the same way as, say gravity, and so everything feels, it's just that we are set up to take advantage of this. Ironically this would make consciousness more real than my approach. If it were true.
Ok. Returning to this for context. The thrust of Davidson's position is twofold.

1) All this talk of different paradigms, conceptual schemes, lenses, call them what you will, is easily identified bollocks. We only have one, and every variation is perfectly and transitively translatable into every other.
[/QUOTE]
I will write a substantial response to this towards the end of the day today. I disagree with the construction of this premise almost entirely and think Davidson is doing one of two things: either 1) being wrong, or 2) concerned with an engineering issue which is not ontological or generally applicable epistemology.

Much of my philosophical background comes from sociology for a variety of reasons, but I would need a pretty well developed schema to invalidate the social construction of meaning idea which makes it pretty clear that there only needs to be one stuff for a variety of meanings to develop. The problem is that denotation is not the only relevant structural issue with language that would create translation issues. While all ideas may be translatable to some degree, only those with very clear delineation are ever fully translatable and the problem of the heap interferes even with most of those. Davidson's argument seems to imagine that precision is possible with language with which I very much disagree.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Socia ... of_Reality
2) If we ever encountered a truly different conceptual scheme then no bridge laws would obtain and there would be literally nothing we could say about it from our own conceptual scheme (although we couldn't ever even be sure that the obverse was true).
Because conceptual schemes are socially constructed, the shared experience is an element of a conceptual scheme. Without that shared experience, there is incommensurablitity built in to the process. When you add in specialization, Kuhn is perfectly overlapping with the general issue. I hesitate to say right on the money because he made some specific claims about science and historical relationships that don't work perfectly, but his notion of incommensurability seems untroubled by Davidson's account at the very least.

We wouldn't be able to recognise it as a conceptual scheme and we wouldn't have any way of even starting to make sense of it. We certainly wouldn't be able to say anything about what could be thought in it or what capabilities it had. My point above is merely a corollary of it, not a point Davidson was explicitly making: things that appear logically impossible or that might take until the heat death of the universe to think in our conceptual scheme might actually be trivially easy in another. Obviously, such an idea is logically impossible, but that's to be expected...

Wittgenstein made exactly the same point in a different way. I explained it once before. I think you've read it.

To precis: either things are really different in which case there can be no bridge between them or they are not, in which case a lot of people have been fooling themselves... He's doing a bit of ground clearance, pointing out that we have been trying to have our cake and eat it.

Of more interest to me is the fact that every psychology in existence falls into category one. My point, oft repeated, is that there is (what would be) a level of description within bare brains that falls into category 2. As a result, we can't make any sense of that level of description at all from our conceptual scheme. (Which, as I have argued for ever, is public and entirely and systematically discrete from the inner processes it purports to describe. (yeah, that's language games and intentions and any TOM that arises from the two).

Mind you, I have zero bitcoins, a different (and empty) bank account for internet use and store the majority of savings and private shit in physical stuff that has a history of holding its value when things go tits up. It's a like Y2K except...

Edit - just to be clear - you don't even ever have to know you have such a conceptual scheme, you just have to be able to show that one can exist. Banking, encryption and any notion of privacy all rely on the absolute certainty that some things are impossible in real time. Davidson demonstrates that you can only claim something is impossible relative to a conceptual scheme and the fact that you can't imagine another is no evidence that it doesn't exist, precisely because the only alternative schemes that could exist are the ones you couldn't imagine. The Nazis couldn't imagine the possibility of a machine that could brute search all the possible rotor and board combinations of a five rotor enigma - well they certainly could, but they didn't. This situation is slightly different; we can't imagine a system which you could fully understand what it does without understanding how it works. Well I can, I can imagine (or at least point at, in a wittgensteinian manner) two. I just can't imagine them.

As for any fantasy of privacy...

Well, internet privacy at least. Mental privacy on the other hand... You can judge there's pain, but translate it into language such that you can communicate it? And that's just the very tippytoe of the iceberg... Of course, again, Wittgenstein was all over this a century ago. Clever fucker.

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Post by plebian » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:35 pm

The more I think about this, the more I am of the opinion that Davidson is just making the standard argument for god in a dressed up fashion. Third person objectivity is a nonstarter. It's wrong on it's face and warrants no further consideration without first establishing justification. Gravity is not a thing. It's an idea. It exists only as shared knowledge. Shared knowledge requires shared experience. Poincare' undermined Davidson's argument a hundred years ago simply by identifying the nature of models.

Just because there is one stuff of experience is in no way relevant to the idea that language is in any way adequate to describe that experience. In fact, it is not. Lensing makes communication difficult to impossible. The fact that it can be overcome in any individual case is irrelevant to the fact that there is no 3rd party. Anywhere. Or else it is God. If you want to go down that road, fine. It's just a definition issue. One that requires shared understanding to parse. You can't use words alone to translate that though. Davidson entirely misses the nature of language. He is chasing normal science down a very fine tendril of the materialist paradigm.

That is my assessment. He is simply wrong.

Either that or I am. :) It's, of course, easier to assume that I am not wrong.

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Post by ruby sparks » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:51 pm

I was tempted to opine that if you saw anything about god in that, then it only goes to show how philosophical hermeneutics is capable of extracting almost anything from a text, but instead I decided to say well done for spotting the elephant in the room, the one which, as blind men, we are unable to properly appraise, which I think is the appropriate analogy here, even if I feel sure that sub will vehemently disagree.

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Post by plebian » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:53 pm

[quote=""ruby sparks""]I was tempted to opine that if you saw anything about god in that, then it only goes to show how philosophical hermeneutics is capable of extracting almost anything from a text, but instead I decided to say well done for spotting the elephant in the room, the one which, as blind men, we are unable to properly appraise, which I think is the appropriate analogy here, even if I feel sure that sub will vehemently disagree.[/quote]

There is very little if any structural difference between your use of the word science and someone from a different religion using the word god. It refers to 3rd person fact.

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Post by ruby sparks » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:06 pm

[quote=""plebian""]There is very little if any structural difference between your use of the word science and someone from a different religion using the word god. It refers to 3rd person fact.[/quote]

Now you're just trying to be controversial. But I'm going to pretend that you typed the word 'different' accidentally.

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Post by subsymbolic » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:12 pm

You are talking about situations in which it is a contingent fact that no translation is possible. That's cool, but it isn't a new conceptual scheme. Merely the same conceptual scheme in which there isn't efficient distribution. Davidson's problem is with claims that wander between contingent and necessary. He merely points out that a genuinely new conceptual scheme would be one for which it was a necessary fact that no translation was possible.

As for God, I see your point and it's a clever application, except of course that the cost of locating a deity in that particular gap would be that we wouldn't be able to make any sense of it to the point that no one would know it was there. No one. The only way you can make that fly is to fall into precisely the error Davidson diagnosed.

Sorites? Perhaps you better make the point explicit...
Last edited by subsymbolic on Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

plebian
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Post by plebian » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:20 pm

[quote=""subsymbolic""]You are talking about situations in which it is a contingent fact that no translation is possible. That's cool, but it isn't a new conceptual scheme. Merely the same conceptual scheme in which there isn't efficient distribution. Davidson's problem is with claims that wander between contingent and necessary. He merely points out that a genuinely new conceptual scheme would be one for which it was a necessary fact that no translation was possible.[/quote]
Hmm. That puts the word "possible" in a tricky situation. It's also possible for every non impared human to perform a difficult surgery or to see the Eiffel tower. There is a purpose here that eludes me.

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Post by ruby sparks » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:27 pm

[quote=""plebian""]
subsymbolic;674993 wrote:You are talking about situations in which it is a contingent fact that no translation is possible. That's cool, but it isn't a new conceptual scheme. Merely the same conceptual scheme in which there isn't efficient distribution. Davidson's problem is with claims that wander between contingent and necessary. He merely points out that a genuinely new conceptual scheme would be one for which it was a necessary fact that no translation was possible.
Hmm. That puts the word "possible" in a tricky situation. It's also possible for every non impared human to perform a difficult surgery or to see the Eiffel tower. There is a purpose here that eludes me.[/QUOTE]

It's a bit like Wittgenstein's superprivacy. Start by investigating something which is impossible and then cleverly rule it out.

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Post by subsymbolic » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:44 pm

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
plebian;674994 wrote:
subsymbolic;674993 wrote:You are talking about situations in which it is a contingent fact that no translation is possible. That's cool, but it isn't a new conceptual scheme. Merely the same conceptual scheme in which there isn't efficient distribution. Davidson's problem is with claims that wander between contingent and necessary. He merely points out that a genuinely new conceptual scheme would be one for which it was a necessary fact that no translation was possible.
Hmm. That puts the word "possible" in a tricky situation. It's also possible for every non impared human to perform a difficult surgery or to see the Eiffel tower. There is a purpose here that eludes me.
It's a bit like Wittgenstein's superprivacy. Start by investigating something which is impossible and then cleverly rule it out.[/QUOTE]

Actually Ruby, that's pretty well spot on.

Except of course the something to be investigated you mention comes from other people. That's why both Davidson and Wittgenstein spend some time identifying the targets who are guilty of assuming the impossible possible. Only then do they point out the error they are making.

That's why I called it ground clearing. Ffs, Davidson runs through an extended list of people, like Kuhn, Quine and Whorf who have been hugely influential but who rely on walking an impossible tightrope. Wittgenstein even starts with Augustin's classical empiricist model of language acquisition...

Clearing away other people's fuckups is a common task in philosophy.

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Post by subsymbolic » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:54 pm

[quote=""plebian""]
subsymbolic;674993 wrote:You are talking about situations in which it is a contingent fact that no translation is possible. That's cool, but it isn't a new conceptual scheme. Merely the same conceptual scheme in which there isn't efficient distribution. Davidson's problem is with claims that wander between contingent and necessary. He merely points out that a genuinely new conceptual scheme would be one for which it was a necessary fact that no translation was possible.
Hmm. That puts the word "possible" in a tricky situation. It's also possible for every non impared human to perform a difficult surgery or to see the Eiffel tower. There is a purpose here that eludes me.[/QUOTE]

You'd be better served by thinking about the use of necessary and contingent. It's contingently impossible to look at the Eiffel Tower if you are in Spain it's necessarily impossible to look at the present king of France wherever you are.

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Post by plebian » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:06 pm

[quote=""subsymbolic""]
plebian;674994 wrote:
subsymbolic;674993 wrote:You are talking about situations in which it is a contingent fact that no translation is possible. That's cool, but it isn't a new conceptual scheme. Merely the same conceptual scheme in which there isn't efficient distribution. Davidson's problem is with claims that wander between contingent and necessary. He merely points out that a genuinely new conceptual scheme would be one for which it was a necessary fact that no translation was possible.
Hmm. That puts the word "possible" in a tricky situation. It's also possible for every non impared human to perform a difficult surgery or to see the Eiffel tower. There is a purpose here that eludes me.
You'd be better served by thinking about the use of necessary and contingent. It's contingently impossible to look at the Eiffel Tower if you are in Spain it's necessarily impossible to look at the present king of France wherever you are.[/QUOTE]

I get that distinction, but he seems like he's making a statement about language itself which divorces it from the beings which use that language. I.e. it's actually necessarily impossible to translate between all paradigms because it requires those people. It isn't in isolation.

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Post by plebian » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:07 pm

[quote=""ruby sparks""]
plebian;674994 wrote:
subsymbolic;674993 wrote:You are talking about situations in which it is a contingent fact that no translation is possible. That's cool, but it isn't a new conceptual scheme. Merely the same conceptual scheme in which there isn't efficient distribution. Davidson's problem is with claims that wander between contingent and necessary. He merely points out that a genuinely new conceptual scheme would be one for which it was a necessary fact that no translation was possible.
Hmm. That puts the word "possible" in a tricky situation. It's also possible for every non impared human to perform a difficult surgery or to see the Eiffel tower. There is a purpose here that eludes me.
It's a bit like Wittgenstein's superprivacy. Start by investigating something which is impossible and then cleverly rule it out.[/QUOTE]

I think you are on the wrong track here.

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Post by plebian » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:09 pm

[quote=""subsymbolic""]
ruby sparks;674995 wrote:
plebian;674994 wrote:
subsymbolic;674993 wrote:You are talking about situations in which it is a contingent fact that no translation is possible. That's cool, but it isn't a new conceptual scheme. Merely the same conceptual scheme in which there isn't efficient distribution. Davidson's problem is with claims that wander between contingent and necessary. He merely points out that a genuinely new conceptual scheme would be one for which it was a necessary fact that no translation was possible.
Hmm. That puts the word "possible" in a tricky situation. It's also possible for every non impared human to perform a difficult surgery or to see the Eiffel tower. There is a purpose here that eludes me.
It's a bit like Wittgenstein's superprivacy. Start by investigating something which is impossible and then cleverly rule it out.
Actually Ruby, that's pretty well spot on.

Except of course the something to be investigated you mention comes from other people. That's why both Davidson and Wittgenstein spend some time identifying the targets who are guilty of assuming the impossible possible. Only then do they point out the error they are making.

That's why I called it ground clearing. Ffs, Davidson runs through an extended list of people, like Kuhn, Quine and Whorf who have been hugely influential but who rely on walking an impossible tightrope. Wittgenstein even starts with Augustin's classical empiricist model of language acquisition...

Clearing away other people's fuckups is a common task in philosophy.[/QUOTE]
It takes a tortured reading of Kuhn to suggest this has anything to do with the concept of paradigm he created. Kuhn recognized, deeply recognized, the inclusion of the humans themselves into the equation.

ETA: Ah! Does this have to do with the Quine/Carnap dispute?

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Post by subsymbolic » Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:48 am

[quote=""plebian""]
subsymbolic;674996 wrote:
ruby sparks;674995 wrote:
plebian;674994 wrote: Hmm. That puts the word "possible" in a tricky situation. It's also possible for every non impared human to perform a difficult surgery or to see the Eiffel tower. There is a purpose here that eludes me.
It's a bit like Wittgenstein's superprivacy. Start by investigating something which is impossible and then cleverly rule it out.
Actually Ruby, that's pretty well spot on.

Except of course the something to be investigated you mention comes from other people. That's why both Davidson and Wittgenstein spend some time identifying the targets who are guilty of assuming the impossible possible. Only then do they point out the error they are making.

That's why I called it ground clearing. Ffs, Davidson runs through an extended list of people, like Kuhn, Quine and Whorf who have been hugely influential but who rely on walking an impossible tightrope. Wittgenstein even starts with Augustin's classical empiricist model of language acquisition...

Clearing away other people's fuckups is a common task in philosophy.
It takes a tortured reading of Kuhn to suggest this has anything to do with the concept of paradigm he created. Kuhn recognized, deeply recognized, the inclusion of the humans themselves into the equation.

ETA: Ah! Does this have to do with the Quine/Carnap dispute?[/QUOTE]

One at a time. Kuhn. It absolutely does not take a tortured reading. It merely takes an accurate one. Were you not here when we did this into submission?

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