Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Discussions on the nature of being, existence, reality and knowledge. What is? How do we know?

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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Neri on August 23rd, 2012, 1:28 pm 

For those of us who may be uninformed on this subject, Abela also presents Michael Dummett’s definition of realism:

“Realism I characterize as the belief that statements of the disputed class possess an objective truth-value, independently of our means of knowing it: they are true or false in virtue of a reality existing independently of us.”
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby owleye on August 23rd, 2012, 3:48 pm 

Danlanglois wrote:
owleye wrote:Knowledge is the state one reaches when their propositional content is beyond being wrong.


So then, you're saying that you don't have any knowledge and neither does anybody else? That can't be right. But, you're not infallible, either. So what gives?


Well, I suppose I feared you picking up on my meager attempt to make my case. However, Kant wouldn't dispute that we are fallible. We do make mistakes. But in order to make a mistake of the sort that is associated with knowledge, there is assumed to be right answers somewhere to judge them by. And Kant was not arguing that we look to authority, as we might do in school, but rather to the outcome of some deduction, as it occurs in mathematics, synthetically, or through logic based deductive arguments. I don't believe he was a Platonist regarding the existence of some realm in which one discovers the right answer, but he definitely portrays our capacity to reason as providing us with knowledge. And that our reasoning takes place over time (and space, as it is elaborated in our spatial intuition) could be understood as having a bearing on our making mistakes, though I haven't read anywhere where Kant thinks of logic and mathematics in that way (as error-prone devices.) In any case, the rightness or wrongness of judgements (as well as knowledge claims), important consideration though they may be, I think my portraying them in that way was not the key to the difference between judgment and knowledge. I should do further research on this, though for now, my thinking is that judgments are what lead to knowledge and beliefs (and positions, speculations, offerings, etc.).


Danlanglois wrote:The relationship between truth, belief, knowledge, judgment, is just not, in my view, what you want it to be, here. This has nothing to do with my wanting to 'soften' Kant. It's not that I care about Kant. Let's back up, I ended w/asserting that nonEuclidean geometry is synthetic a priori judgement. You disagree.


Well, other than my poor argument, my claim has to do with an interpretation of Kant, not with your assertion. For Kant, space is that of Euclid's geometry, and corresponds to his form of intuition. If you are not advocating this position from a Kantian standpoint, then I'm afraid I don't know how to respond to you. For Kant, geometry is the geometry of space and there is only one space that makes geometry (Euclid's) possible.

Danlanglois"I note that you repeat the much repeated notion that Euclidean geometry is not 'true'.[/quote]

I said it's true for Kant and Newton (and, as far as I can tell, it was long held to be true by most folks until so-called non-Euclidean geometry was discovered). Note that I've consistently used the term 'Euclid's geometry' here, and not the term 'Euclidean Geometry". This is because Euclidean Geometry today is merely one of the geometries that mathematicians have developed and there are significant differences between Euclid's geometry and what we now call Euclidean geometry. In any case, by saying Kant held it to be true I meant that it is merely a reflection of the times he lived in. I'm not contending that he deliberated over alternatives. It was merely a presupposition that he may have been unaware of.

[quote="Danlanglois wrote:
I'm saying that nonEuclidean geometry is synthetic a priori judgment. So, somebody has that opinion. What is wrong w/it? Ask yourself, what is your own opinion of nonEuclidean geometry? And remember, that Euclidean geometry is still as 'true' as it ever was, if not more so.


The problem with contending that any geometry is a priori true (i.e., we know its true, a priori) is problematic when there are alternative geometries each of which could be true. Synthetic a priori knowledge claims about the world external to us have been abandoned completely and the project has been turned over to scientific investigation as an empirical (a posteriori) matter since at least relativity theory has been accepted, if not earlier when Gauss thought he could measure space.

Now, you insist on using judgment rather than knowledge and so what I've just said wouldn't apply. But I'm not sure what you have in mind by doing this. What am I supposed to make of it? What is the significance of adding 'a priori' to a synthetically determined judgment? Does it have any bearing on knowledge of the world?

Note that none of what I've presented here should be thought of as demoting Kant's importance in any way. His writings are a fertile ground for much of modern thought. For me, he is one of the giants in western thought, and I don't think I'm alone in this assessment.

For one thing, most thinkers today reject the a priori claims to knowledge of space. Some of the early logical empiricists considered what Kant provided about space was the constraint of visualization to Euclid's space that prevented or made difficult the visualization of other spaces. But in its wake, there remains the problem of linkage between a theory of space, analytically considered, and space as it exists outside our direct experience of it. With that in mind, Weill and others argued from the perspective of local to global measurements, through a mathematical/logical approach. Even so, it seems there's something missing, it seems, linking it up to Kant's forms of intuition.

From my standpoint, I look at it from a biological perspective that the phenomenal and representative space of Kant (that part of our anatomy/physiology) derives from the environment we humans adapted to and makes our representation of it sufficiently accurate from the standpoint of evolutionary theory. But the universe in its vastness doesn't enter into that evolutionary history in any significant way, so we will need to extend our sensory apparatus to regions beyond that environment to capture what space is truly about. (Something similar could be said about the universe in the other direction as well, toward its smallest entities.) Measurement theory, it would seem, would have to take into consideration the information revealed in our representation of space at least in some way.

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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 23rd, 2012, 4:26 pm 

Neri, empirical realist is Kant's term for his position. I'm surprised that somebody is willing to spend time on these minor contemporary scholars, especially somebody who values their time as you do.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 23rd, 2012, 5:07 pm 

owleye wrote:
Danlanglois wrote:
owleye wrote:Knowledge is the state one reaches when their propositional content is beyond being wrong.


So then, you're saying that you don't have any knowledge and neither does anybody else? That can't be right. But, you're not infallible, either. So what gives?


Well, I suppose I feared you picking up on my meager attempt to make my case. However, Kant wouldn't dispute that we are fallible. We do make mistakes. But in order to make a mistake of the sort that is associated with knowledge, there is assumed to be right answers somewhere to judge them by. And Kant was not arguing that we look to authority, as we might do in school, but rather to the outcome of some deduction, as it occurs in mathematics, synthetically, or through logic based deductive arguments. I don't believe he was a Platonist regarding the existence of some realm in which one discovers the right answer, but he definitely portrays our capacity to reason as providing us with knowledge. And that our reasoning takes place over time (and space, as it is elaborated in our spatial intuition) could be understood as having a bearing on our making mistakes, though I haven't read anywhere where Kant thinks of logic and mathematics in that way (as error-prone devices.) In any case, the rightness or wrongness of judgements (as well as knowledge claims), important consideration though they may be, I think my portraying them in that way was not the key to the difference between judgment and knowledge. I should do further research on this, though for now, my thinking is that judgments are what lead to knowledge and beliefs (and positions, speculations, offerings, etc.).


Ok so, shall we say, your position is in flux.


owleye wrote:
Danlanglois wrote:The relationship between truth, belief, knowledge, judgment, is just not, in my view, what you want it to be, here. This has nothing to do with my wanting to 'soften' Kant. It's not that I care about Kant. Let's back up, I ended w/asserting that nonEuclidean geometry is synthetic a priori judgement. You disagree.


Well, other than my poor argument, my claim has to do with an interpretation of Kant, not with your assertion. For Kant, space is that of Euclid's geometry, and corresponds to his form of intuition.


That's the standard view--I don't think Kant would insist on putting it that way. I note, that these are not terribly meaningful propositions, even. 'Space is that of Euclid's geometry', what does that even assert? Geometry is math. Postulates, theorems. You can close your eyes and picture space. You can open your eyes and look up at the sky. Space is clearly not math, eh? What does this assertion that 'space is that of Euclid's geometry' mean? In addition to your supposing that it means something, it's meaningful enough to you, furthermore, you disagree with it. Kant is the moron who made this assertion, with which you do not agree. We could focus this discussion up better, if you tell me what is your own opinion of space. You can figure this one out, right? Did Kant have some special mad skillz for figuring this stuff out? Clearly not, as you think he was wrong. Then puzzle it out, and give me your opinion. I think we can work with an opinion of your own. There is no knowledge here, about the nature of 'space', that is not available to you--so tell me, what is 'space', to you?

owleye wrote:If you are not advocating this position from a Kantian standpoint, then I'm afraid I don't know how to respond to you. For Kant, geometry is the geometry of space and there is only one space that makes geometry (Euclid's) possible.


For Kant, geometry is the geometry of space. What, is that a quote? What does it mean? A 'space', such as a 2-dimensional flat space, is a term within geometry. Kant talks a lot about manifolds, also a term used within geometry. The 'a priori manifold', this kind of thing? I don't think Kant asserted that space has a specific geometry, it's just really easy to assume that he must have. The issues that interested him were a little different than the issues that seem urgent to later generations. Look, it is you, who think that space has a specific geometry, right? What, then, is the specific geometry of space, in your view?


owleye wrote:
Danlanglois wrote:I note that you repeat the much repeated notion that Euclidean geometry is not 'true'.


I said it's true for Kant and Newton (and, as far as I can tell, it was long held to be true by most folks until so-called non-Euclidean geometry was discovered). Note that I've consistently used the term 'Euclid's geometry' here, and not the term 'Euclidean Geometry". This is because Euclidean Geometry today is merely one of the geometries that mathematicians have developed and there are significant differences between Euclid's geometry and what we now call Euclidean geometry.


What are you quibbling about? It's all geometry, and nothing has been thrown out, it's all 'true'. What was long held to be true, that is no longer held to be true? Perhaps you're thinking, the 5th (parallel) postulate? The 5th postulate is still held to be true, in Euclidean (Euclid's) geometry.


owleye wrote: In any case, by saying Kant held it to be true I meant that it is merely a reflection of the times he lived in. I'm not contending that he deliberated over alternatives. It was merely a presupposition that he may have been unaware of.


Of course, Kant describes it as a presupposition, in the Prolegomena.

owleye wrote:
Danlanglois wrote: I'm saying that nonEuclidean geometry is synthetic a priori judgment. So, somebody has that opinion. What is wrong w/it? Ask yourself, what is your own opinion of nonEuclidean geometry? And remember, that Euclidean geometry is still as 'true' as it ever was, if not more so.


The problem with contending that any geometry is a priori true (i.e., we know its true, a priori) is problematic when there are alternative geometries each of which could be true.


I totally agree that this is problematic, I understand what you mean. It seems like there is some crisis here. There is a way out of this, though. Here is the deal. From logic, from Aristotle's notion of contradiction, it doesn't seem like we can have two contradictory truths. This principle does not, however, have universal application. For example, if I say it's raining, and you say no it's not, I'm looking right out the window, and I say, well, it is raining here, in Ohio. I'm talking on the phone to you in Hawaii, see. Then we are both right. This is not the realm, then, of logic, whether two true statements can't contradict each other. This intuitive trust in the principle of noncontradiction causes a lot of mayhem. What is its proper realm of application?

Remember, that we are distinguishing between different kinds of knowledge, different kinds of judgement. That is, Kant is doing that.


owleye wrote:Synthetic a priori knowledge claims about the world external to us have been abandoned completely and the project has been turned over to scientific investigation as an empirical (a posteriori) matter since at least relativity theory has been accepted, if not earlier when Gauss thought he could measure space.


On whose authority? Math is synthetic a priori knowledge claims about the world external to us. I note, that it is not science that gives math its legitimacy. It is math, an autonomous subject, that gives science its legitimacy. You can be a mathematician, without having to learn any physics. The converse is not the case. I don't know what you're referring to in Gauss, 'thought he could measure space'? I don't catch that reference. But you seem reluctant to ponder math as an a priori field, which it obviously is, consider it again, I think you'll come around. John Stuart Mill argued that math is a posteriori, but it's not a very good argument at all. Generally, people don't so much argue that math is a posteriori, as they just refuse to think about it, because empiricism is what's respectable. If you want, you could look at John Stuart Mill's arguments here, perhaps you'll find them convincing, I think his honesty of purpose gets him all tied up in knots. Math is obviously a priori (the only thing that is not obvious about this, is somehow it is not obvious to everyone--I think it is obvious to ALL mathematicians).



owleye wrote:Now, you insist on using judgment rather than knowledge and so what I've just said wouldn't apply. But I'm not sure what you have in mind by doing this. What am I supposed to make of it? What is the significance of adding 'a priori' to a synthetically determined judgment? Does it have any bearing on knowledge of the world?


I don't even understand what you think is at stake in this momentous distinction between judgment and knowledge. It's just straight Kant, a Kant quote, to talk about synthetic a priori judgment. Are we now, reviewing Kant's position? Kant says that math is synthetic a priori judgment. As to what is the significance of adding 'a priori' to a synthetically determined judgment, well, that's central, isn't it? Rather than give a long-winded answer here, I will just point out that I doubt you are using the term 'synthetic' in a truly Kantian sense--remember, that people use these terms differently (or that it seems to me, that they do).

What does 'synthetic' mean?


owleye wrote:Note that none of what I've presented here should be thought of as demoting Kant's importance in any way. His writings are a fertile ground for much of modern thought. For me, he is one of the giants in western thought, and I don't think I'm alone in this assessment.


Swell.



owleye wrote:For one thing, most thinkers today reject the a priori claims to knowledge of space.


'most thinkers today'? Like you could fill a room with thinkers today. Kant was a profound thinker. What do you mean, reject the a priori claims to knowledge of space? You are a thinker today, think about whether you get your idea of space from sensory input. A blind person understands the concept of space. Try imagining not having an understanding of space--would this be the result of lack of scientific analysis of our experience? It is not even an option, to reject the a priori claims to knowledge of space, although that's such tortured jargon, I don't know what you take it to mean. Consider this--the brain has to organize things a great deal, before you have any 'experiences', any 'observations', any 'concepts'. And time and space are already constructed for you, as where you are in, before you use any 'logic', and categorize anything, doing any 'thinking'. This is not an unreasonable point. I'm not jerking you around. It's true.

owleye wrote: Some of the early logical empiricists considered what Kant provided blah blah


Not interested in the early logical empiricists. But that's not exactly what I mean, I'm very interested in debunking them. They saw major developments in math & physics, and quite reasonably supposed that the time was right for a hip & updated philosophy, and are often supposed, as by you, as having supplied something more than bathwater, but I don't respect their efforts, in the end. I think they were not able to carve out something that superceded Kant--I think Kant comes out smelling like a rose, a few annotations of Kant are what is required here, and not logical empiricism, which is actually, from my pov, preKantian.


owleye wrote:From my standpoint, I look at it from a biological perspective that the phenomenal and representative space of Kant (that part of our anatomy/physiology) derives from the environment we humans adapted to and makes our representation of it sufficiently accurate from the standpoint of evolutionary theory.


I think I follow you here, this seems reasonable.

owleye wrote:But the universe in its vastness doesn't enter into that evolutionary history in any significant way, so we will need to extend our sensory apparatus to regions beyond that environment to capture what space is truly about. (Something similar could be said about the universe in the other direction as well, toward its smallest entities.) Measurement theory, it would seem, would have to take into consideration the information revealed in our representation of space at least in some way.


I'm being a bit brief, in putting it this way, but I think this seems reasonable, as well. I'm humoring you, about 'capture what space is truly about'. To do this, we need to 'extend our sensory apparatus'?

Let me see if I can offer some points, as potentially noncontroversial:

Geometry is the science of space.

This is also Kant's assumption.

Our cognition of space affords us our cognition of geometry.

Space is a pure intuition.

Here is a quote from the introduction to the Critique of Pure Reason (I think this is from the modified 2nd edition):

Kant wrote:Geometry is a science that determines the properties of space synthetically and yet a priori. What then must the representation of space be for such a cognition of it to be possible? It must originally be intuition;..


I'm tempted to give a much longer quote, there. Something for you to attack. Such as this part: '..space has only three dimensions; but such propositions cannot be empirical or judgments of experience, nor inferred from them..'

What is it exactly, that I find to be a compelling philosophy of geometry, whether it is from Kant or not? I'm not obsessed with formal axioms, and I don't take Kant to have been. The axioms, if you will, or principles, maybe, that ground the constructions of Euclidean geometry are stuff like this, that space is an infinite given magnitude; space is three dimensional; two straight lines cannot enclose a space; a triangle cannot be constructed except on the condition that any two of its sides are together longer than the third.

It's hard to explain, why I don't find distinctions between Euclidean and nonEuclidean geometry germane to understanding this philosophy of geometry, but I'll repeat that I don't (note, that Kant quote, he says 'geometry', not 'Euclidean geometry'). Those 'axioms' that I have listed, I list as 'informal'. Heck, there is a point here, that Euclid's elements contains no formal axioms.

I mean, there are relations, that are prior to geometric demonstration.

Pure intuition of space *enables* pure intuition of geometric objects.

Pure intuition of space *enables* pure intuition of spatial magnitudes.

We use our pure intuition of space to attain geometric knowledge.

How about this: pure spatial intuition provides an epistemic starting point for the practice of geometry.

I think we're in danger of losing track of what what larger philosophical purpose, I think Kant’s account of geometric cognition can serve?

Actually, maybe it doesn't much matter. Science marches on, I suppose. Mathematicians don't tend to pay attention to these debates, either. But I'm amused that there's so much bad Kant exegesis. People slinging the terms analytic/synthetic around, when they haven't embraced Kant's theories, which means that their comments don't apply to Kant.

I tried holding your feet to the fire, on this one point: nonEuclidean geometry is synthetic a priori cognition. That's still my position. I asked, if it isn't then what is it?

I also have made some comments about what 'synthetic' means, and conveyed lots of impatience w/misunderstanding, here. But let's slow down then. I've tried offering some comments here. Your turn, if you're game--what does 'synthetic' mean (you're already using this term)?
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 24th, 2012, 1:09 am 

I'm inspired to add a note, that I'm not seeing Kant defend the absolute space and time of Newton, or space as described by Euclidean geometry. Also, importantly, not the space and time of the turn-of-the-century neo-Kantianism that was so offended by general relativity. You don't want to be a friend of the Kantian a priori, but there's lots of room for misunderstanding here, in most senses, neither do I.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Neri on August 24th, 2012, 3:30 am 

Some words of Kant to ponder:

“Pure mathematics, and especially pure geometry, can have objective reality only on condition that they refer merely to objects of sense. But in regard to the latter the principle holds good that our sense representation is not a representation of things in themselves, but of the way they appear to us....”

“It would be quite otherwise if the senses were so constituted as to represent objects as they are in themselves. For then it would not by any means follow from the representation of space, which, with all its properties, serves to the geometer as an a priori foundation, that this foundation and everything which is thence inferred must be so in nature. The space of the geometer would be considered a mere fiction, and would not be credited with objective reality...”

“...things as objects of our senses existing outside of us are given, but we know nothing of what they may be in themselves, knowing only their appearances, that are the representations which they cause in us by affecting our senses.”

“All the properties which constitute the intuition of a body belong merely to its appearance...”

”But the difference between truth and dreaming is not ascertained by the nature of the representations which are referred to objects (for they are the same in both cases) but by their connection according to those rules which determine the coherence of the representation in the concept of the object, and by ascertaining whether they can subsist together in experience or not. And it is not the fault of the appearances if our cognition takes illusion for truth...”

[Kant, “Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics.” Prentice Hall, 1997, “Remark 1,” p.34 et seq.]
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby owleye on August 24th, 2012, 12:51 pm 

Danlanglois wrote:
That's the standard view--I don't think Kant would insist on putting it that way. I note, that these are not terribly meaningful propositions, even. 'Space is that of Euclid's geometry', what does that even assert? Geometry is math. Postulates, theorems. You can close your eyes and picture space. You can open your eyes and look up at the sky. Space is clearly not math, eh? What does this assertion that 'space is that of Euclid's geometry' mean? In addition to your supposing that it means something, it's meaningful enough to you, furthermore, you disagree with it. Kant is the moron who made this assertion, with which you do not agree. We could focus this discussion up better, if you tell me what is your own opinion of space. You can figure this one out, right? Did Kant have some special mad skillz for figuring this stuff out? Clearly not, as you think he was wrong. Then puzzle it out, and give me your opinion. I think we can work with an opinion of your own. There is no knowledge here, about the nature of 'space', that is not available to you--so tell me, what is 'space', to you?


If you don't agree with my interpretation of Kant, please do so on the basis of having done your own research, not speculating on something you think you know about him or the implications that my interpretation must make him out to be an idiot. My only reason for drawing attention to the issue is your defense of Kant in the discussion about the dogmas of empiricism which relied on a priori judgements, whatever that might mean, rather than a priori knowledge (about which his empiricism has much to say). Based on the above, I'm getting the impression that you haven't even studied Kant. In any case, as the significance of my comments are related to his a priori stance on space and time and not on how he distinguished analytic and synthetic, I've digressed away from the topic, so I believe it's time to give it a rest.

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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Neri on August 24th, 2012, 1:25 pm 

More Quotes of Kant:

“We have intended, then, to say, that all our intuition is nothing but the representation of phenomena; that the things which we intuit are not themselves the same as our representations of them in intuition; nor are their relations in themselves so constituted as they appear to us; and that if we take away the subject, or even only the subjective constitution of our senses in general, then not only the nature and relations of objects in space and time, but even space and time themselves disappear; and that these, as phenomena, cannot exist in themselves, but only in us. What may be the nature of objects considered as of things in themselves and without reference to the receptivity of our sensibility is quite unknown to us. We know nothing more than our own of perceiving them, which is peculiar to us, and which, though not of necessity pertaining to every animated being, is so to the whole human race.”

Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason," Barnes and Noble, 2004, p.13


QUAERE: Suppose, arguendo, that on a distant planet there existed a race of “animated beings” whose particular “representation of phenomena” with “reference to the receptivity of their sensibility” rested upon “pure intuitions” of time and space so radically different from our own that their experience of “the nature and relations of objects in space and time” and therefore their whole understanding of geometry--though a priori in their minds and entirely coherent in the context of phenomena as experienced by them-- was entirely contradictory to our own and ours to theirs--

Could both geometric systems possess apodeictic truth when both are mutually contradictory? If so, how?
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Neri on August 24th, 2012, 1:58 pm 

Lomax,

Owleye makes a good point. Do you think my last post should be placed as a new topic. I will be guided by your judgement.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby owleye on August 24th, 2012, 3:11 pm 

Neri wrote:Lomax,

Owleye makes a good point. Do you think my last post should be placed as a new topic. I will be guided by your judgement.


First, I'd say no, there's no need for a separate discussion of Kant's philosophy, as I'm not sure it has much value as a topic in itself, unless, that is, the board's participants cared (or came to care) to enlarge its scope to include philosophical scholarship among the topics.

But second, I want thank you for locating a Kantian reference that supports what is commonly understood as Kant's position on the matter (and there are others that I could have located where he distinguishes the geometry of space in its mathematical (pure) sense and geometry in its applied sense of dealing with empirical (phenomenal) space, somewhat different than how we distinguish pure and applied today), but I was too lazy and as I looked over the cited paragraph of Danlanglois, I couldn't believe he was interpreting Kant or even our own intuition so it should be obvious that our references to space demands that space exists in a noumenal sense (apart from our experience of it -- Kant's 'in itself' idea), the way objects of experience are supposed to reference, about which we can know nothing, if we are follow Kant. He seems to be missing the entire point of Kant's philosophical contribution. Kant recognizes that we are awash with stimuli but somehow we perceive objects in space over time and Kant is telling us how.

It's not obvious how we can tell what's going behind the veil of phenomena, since everything that would inform us of it is embedded in the construction of our phenomenal experience. Moreover, you can't go from your image of space to external space the way you can with objects of experience. (There is a flaw in his systematic account, but it requires a different view of what is being represented than how Kant understood it. It is also helpful to recognize that we are evolved creatures subject to natural selection by a "noumenal" reality, i.e, our historically determined environment.)

Space is considered an object insofar as geometry might treat it as such, and Kant in the Prolegomena does detail how this is to be understood, but it being an object of mathematics is quite different than it being an object of outer experience, despite Kant's intuitional foundation of both mathematics and experience.

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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 24th, 2012, 3:30 pm 

owleye wrote:Based on the above, I'm getting the impression that you haven't even studied Kant. In any case, as the significance of my comments are related to his a priori stance on space and time and not on how he distinguished analytic and synthetic, I've digressed away from the topic, so I believe it's time to give it a rest.


I read this as your response to my asking you for your own opinion, you refuse. Kind of interesting. There is a point, about digressing away from the topic, I suppose. Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism, then.



owleye wrote:I want thank you for locating a Kantian reference that supports what is commonly understood as Kant's position on the matter (and there are others that I could have located where he distinguishes the geometry of space in its mathematical (pure) sense and geometry in its applied sense of dealing with empirical (phenomenal) space, somewhat different than how we distinguish pure and applied today), but I was too lazy and as I looked over the cited paragraph of Danlanglois, I couldn't believe he was interpreting Kant or even our own intuition so it should be obvious that our references to space demands that space exists in a noumenal sense (apart from our experience of it -- Kant's 'in itself' idea), the way objects of experience are supposed to reference, about which we can know nothing, if we are follow Kant.


I posted a fair amount about Kant, and some quotes of my own. I'm pleased with these additional Kant quotes, and of course already familiar with them. This is the stuff that I find interesting. Space does not exist in a noumenal sense, and that's not Kant. Your notion that Kant distinguishes the geometry of space in its mathematical (pure) sense and geometry in its applied sense of dealing with empirical (phenomenal) space sounds like Carnap.

owleye wrote:He seems to be missing the entire point of Kant's philosophical contribution. Kant recognizes that we are awash with stimuli but somehow we perceive objects in space over time and Kant is telling us how.


I don't really disagree with this point--we are awash with stimuli but somehow etc. There is a Schopenhauer quote--'objects are objects of perception not of sensation'. Why would it seem that I disagree?


owleye wrote:It's not obvious how we can tell what's going behind the veil of phenomena,..


There is nothing going on behind the veil of phenomena. You're thinking of the things themselves? This is rather more Platonic than Kantian.

owleye wrote:..since everything that would inform us of it is embedded in the construction of our phenomenal experience. Moreover, you can't go from your image of space to external space the way you can with objects of experience.


I'm surprised that this is so difficult. I've asked what is space to you? You use these phrases like 'external space'. What do you know of external space, and how do you know it, and how was Kant wrong?

owleye wrote:(There is a flaw in his systematic account, but it requires a different view of what is being represented than how Kant understood it. It is also helpful to recognize that we are evolved creatures subject to natural selection by a "noumenal" reality, i.e, our historically determined environment.)


I think, when you bring up natural selection, you deserve to be reassured that we all believe in evolution, and that this is the way to view the complexity of the brain organ, etc. I choke on your usage of 'noumenal' reality, here, to refer to our historically determined environment, but perhaps I'm being a pill--I see how you mean it. It's kind of an interesting point, I mean really. This evolutionary stuff is radical and big.


owleye wrote:Space is considered an object insofar as geometry might treat it as such, and Kant in the Prolegomena does detail how this is to be understood, but it being an object of mathematics is quite different than it being an object of outer experience, despite Kant's intuitional foundation of both mathematics and experience.


'quite different'--I think it's worth looking closer at this. 'Despite Kant's intuitional foundation of etc'. Well, is foundation the best word, there? Actually, you've made me think, .. maybe it is. Hmm.
Last edited by Danlanglois on August 24th, 2012, 3:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 24th, 2012, 3:34 pm 

Neri wrote:Could both geometric systems possess apodeictic truth when both are mutually contradictory? If so, how?


What is apodeictic truth? This is not a phrase that Kant used. There is a reason why I pitch a fit whenever the term 'truth' gets introduced into this Kant exigesis, and it's not, I think, necessarily, because I'm the one who hasn't studied/doesn't understand Kant. Looking back over your quotes, I'm loving these quotes.

I'll offer that 'apodeictic certainty' is a phrase that Kant used--even, that he used, to designate geometry. That's very different, no? From so-called 'apodeictic truth'.

I'll back up and consider what can be done with your thought experiment, we confront aliens and their alien geometry. I think we can expect, that their geometry won't be 'false'. The really interesting question to me, is how alien, then, is alien? Can we understand them, can we establish communication? Can their diplomats learn our language, can we learn theirs, and come to agreement, that 2+2=4 & etc. It may be, that aliens might have such an alien thought process, that we can't comprehend it, and can't even label their notions 'geometry'. If, though, we can understand their notions, shall we say that they are a bit more advanced, and we learn their technology and more advanced researches, then yes I think there is room for different approaches to math--we already have on Earth, different approaches to math. The question of what is the starting point, what can be understood, is everything, that is where we find 'objectivity', or 'intersubjectivity'.

I despair, of making my point about Kant clear, after all this, but I'll reiterate this much, that I see Kant making an argument that is glossed over, something of Kant has been lost. I'm a Kant fan. When I say that Kant's actual analytic/synthetic distinction has been lost, I encounter disinterest/extreme scepticism ('you haven't read Kant').

The other thing, is how much of this discussion can be salvaged, for its relevance to Quine's two dogmas of empiricism. How did we get into this?

Quine's first dogma of empricism, is about analytic 'propositions', or analytic 'truths'. Now, Kant talked about analytic 'judgements'. I think the distinction is worth making. That's not analytic 'truths', there are actually multiple kinds of truths in Kant, but not analytic 'truths'. There's actually more than one analytic/synthetic distinction in Kant, he has analytic/synthetic 'concepts', which stuff is not widely known, you don't get it from the encyclopedia summaries on Kant. But anyways, Quine is sceptical of the existence of an analytic/synthetic distinction ('truths'), he's directing his comments, perhaps, primarily, at Ayer, and at logical empiricism, generally. I come into this, with the view that Quine's comments here don't really touch Kant. What is, then, the analytic/synthetic distinction? Maybe we can start by getting clear on what it is, for Quine (which is a different theory than Kant's I'd want to insist).

The other dogma, for Quine, is reductionism, which, Quine asserts, is, at best, unproven and very difficult to prove. For Quine, this relates to the first point, his analytic 'truths' need to be logical truths, where empirical verification is not needed, so we need a notion of necessity and thus of analyticity. So it's really about point one, that there is no analytic/synthetic distinction. Which is to say, there is no analytic/synthetic 'truths' distinction. I agree with this, it just doesn't touch Kant, who was talking about judgments. Furthermore, I'm very interested in the Kantian synthetic notion, I think it's worth recovering, but I see the degree to which my efforts are appreciated. I wish I was more accessible, it's work to wrestle these sentences down to something more formal and grammatically correct, at least.

But this is an effort to get back to Quine's dogmas, the topic of the thread.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 24th, 2012, 6:02 pm 

I note that Lomax, who is, intimidatingly, the moderator, offered early on that
Lomax wrote:Well there are quite a few problems from Quine's perspective


I've offered that I'm pretty sympathetic to Quine's views here, if they are taken in context.

Positor follows up, that:

Positor wrote:I don't quite understand why Quine ties analyticity to necessity; they seem to me to be two separate things. They may be co-extensive, but that is not self-evident..So Quine's idea that the term 'necessarily' is 'already wrapped up with a notion of analyticity' seems wrong..That being so, I don't see how the problem of distinguishing between necessities and contingencies hinders the task of distinguishing between analyticity and syntheticity.


I'll offer this w/out comment. There is a reply:

Lomax wrote:This is one of the more common criticisms of Quine, actually, that he confuses the epistemological, metaphysical and logical concepts when it suits him. For Quine the problem is that "necessity" is no better-elucidated than "analyticity"; for him, these terms, along with a bunch of others, belong to the same family of suspect and philosophically artificial terms. I think he says they form a "dubious circle of language" or something like that..


And more discussion:
Positor wrote:Can't we make two terms synonymous just by saying (or rather, implicitly agreeing through usage) that they are synonymous?..I don't see that a purely logical statement such as "Necessarily, every creature with a heart is a creature with a heart" has any metaphysical content. Such a statement is true regardless of any actual physical or metaphysical state of affairs..I think every analytic statement expresses a necessity.


Lomax wrote:Well, I think you get to the point here.. The proponent of analyticity needs synonymy to explain why two terms are interchangeable in logical propositions, but he also needs to explain the logical form itself in terms of meaning somehow. This is another part of the problem: at least one member of the logical vocabulary surely can't be explained purely in terms of definition.


I'm sorely to tempted to jump in and comment, but I'll let it slide. Maybe I'll add this later post:

Lomax wrote:Logic isn't the same as epistemology, anyway; it's the latter problem which concerns Quine here.


One little comment--I take Positor quite seriously, he's got something to say, I like this stuff, even if I haven't reposted all of it..
A later post:

Lomax wrote:So here lies the pragmatic core of the dispute; do we or don’t we need a theory of analyticity and is there any evidence to persuade the skeptics of it? Quine thinks no to both, so he dismisses it as “an unemperical dogma of the empiricists; a metaphysical article of faith”..Okay, so now we have the Carnap line of argument, that analytic truths are true because of the form, rather than the content.


I will make a little comment here, why am I so eager to recover the distinction between judgment and truth? In that post, we have 'analytic truths are true because of the form, rather than the content'. The 'Carnap line of argument'. It's pretty obviously a source of mischief, for something to be 'true' because of the form. Form is laws of language, as opposed to saying anything about the empirical world. Consider an oft-kicked around example of analytic judgement (not 'truth'), including in this thread--a bachelor is an unmarried man. Or another, a father is a parent. The logical truth, as it were, of these statements, is purely normative, it's purely laws of language. Not empirical, not 'verifiable'.

Here is a fuller excerpt from Lomax:

Lomax wrote:Okay, so now we have the Carnap line of argument, that analytic truths are true because of the form, rather than the content. First, I have to ask: what determines each of these things? Would you say that the logical vocabulary and the syntax, together, determine the “form”, while the non-logical vocabulary determines the content? In other words, a logical truth is one in which only the logical constants occur *essentially*?


See, that's kind of balled up. It's important to see how on Earth contradiction could be, as Lomax posts, 'Quine and I agree that contradiction is, at least poorly defined.' Contradiction is poorly defined? 'It just doesn’t carry the same metaphysical connotations anymore.' What is poorly defined is synthetic contradiction. Analytic contradiction is fine.

Lomax wrote: It isn’t good enough to look at a statement and say “that is false simply because it is a contradiction”.


I agree w/this. But we get the opportunity to really slow down and unravel some things, to get the meaning of this. The point is, I think, in the end, that laws of logic are not laws of judgment, or laws of nature, or whatever, some most general science of truth, they are laws of language. As I interpret Wittgenstein, The Tractatus is useful, here. I see that proceeding through the thread, almost immediately a Wittgenstein reference crops up. And statements like

Lomax wrote:I think such probabilities are just intensional.


Ah, the Carnapian intensional/extensional distinction--very popular, not only Carnap anymore. But I'll try to extract a narrower line of discussion, there is this:

Lomax wrote:The problem is that you resisted the notion of a universe where it's neither raining nor not-raining, simply because of what "not" means. In other words, you said that "it is neither raining nor not raining" is false because it is analytically false..The problem for Quine is that not every logical expression can be explained in terms of definition..Carnap's tactic is to simply specify some sentences of language as true, and to give rules for deriving further sentences from these specified ones..


Positor wrote:I am quite happy with a generalised scepticism about certainty. It seems reasonable to say "we can't be absolutely certain about *anything*.


I'd modify this, we can be certain about plenty, plenty indeed. The mischief, comes in loose usage of the term 'truth'. Much of these debates and confusions, have to do with knowing what somebody else even meant when they made a statement. But they knew what they meant (for them, it was a 'judgment', they believe it, thus they know what the statement means). Looking at some proposition and determining its truth, first involves determining what it means. I think this is much of Quine's anxiety. Here, there is an issue of certainty, are we certain what it means?

A very interesting exchange:

Positor wrote:Well, science is constrained by experience; logic has no equivalent constraint.



Lomax wrote:Okay, but of course, at least from Quine's perspective, you need to show this. Mill, Reichenbach, Quine, Goodman, and various others all claim that logic does have this constraint.



Interesting, that there isn't even a shared theory of logic at this point. I know what I make of all this. I don't really share Quine's theory of logic, but if you do, he makes sense, I think. I've offered that the laws of logic are laws of language--in these terms, logic then, is not constrained by experience. It's a pedigreed position, very Tractatus. But what also interests me is Kant's theory of logic (which nobody even bothers with, but for him, all these problems with the analytic/synthetic distinction don't happen).

I'm going to arbitrarily stop, no point in reposting the whole thread. It eventually got into unpacking how the analytic/synthetic distinction was invented by Kant (and subsequently, there's lots of static about what the theory of that distinction shall be), though the terms were not invented by Kant, I suppose they come from geometry?
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Neri on August 24th, 2012, 11:23 pm 

Danlanglois,

For purposes of the question I present, you may take “apodeictic” to mean certain. It does not matter whether Kant used that expression. Its meaning is germane to the issue. If the word bothers you, you may, substitute “certain truth” “unimpeachable truth,” “absolute truth,” “unquestionable truth,” “or any other expression that conveys your idea [which, by the way, was not Kant’s] that mathematics has certain truth everywhere and forever because it is synthetic a priori—but, please, no more quibbling.


Further, your aversion to the use of the word, “truth” was apparently not shared by Kant. You will notice in the material I quoted that Kant speaks of the difference between truth and dreaming and of speaks of cognition taking illusion for truth. I dare say he has used the word hundreds of time in the Prolegomena and The Critique of Pure Reason. There is no reason why he would not do so. So, please do not attempt to evade the question on the false premise that truth played not part in Kant's thinking.


You may assume that, although communication of a limited sort would be possible between humans and the other animated beings, neither side could explain their particular “representation of phenomena” with “reference to the receptivity of their sensibility” [using Kantian jargon so there is no misunderstanding]—any more than a sighted person can explain what it means to see to a person who was blind all his life.


If you understand Kant, you will admit that the geometries of the two species would be synthetic a priori as to each even though one would be completely incomprehensible to the other.


When I say that the two geometries are mutually inconsistent I mean just that—that they are completely irreconcilable. This would necessarily follow, according to Kant, because the “representation of phenomena” with “reference to the receptivity of the sensibilities” of the two species would rest upon “pure intuitions” of an entirely different sort.


Therefore, the question remains: can both geometries be apodeictically true (in the sense I have used that expression) when they are mutually and irreconcilably contradictory? What is your answer?
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 25th, 2012, 12:00 am 

Neri wrote:Danlanglois,

For purposes of the question I present, you may take “apodeictic” to mean certain. It does not matter whether Kant used that expression. Its meaning is germane to the issue. If the word bothers you, you may, substitute “certain truth” “unimpeachable truth,” “absolute truth,” “unquestionable truth,” “or any other expression that conveys your idea [which, by the way, was not Kant’s] that mathematics has certain truth everywhere and forever because it is synthetic a priori—but, please, no more quibbling.


You're telling me what Kant's position was not--but I'm not certain here, what you take it to be. What did Kant assert about mathematics--nothing? Do you have an opinion about mathematics?

Kant was *careful* about his usage of the term 'truth'. Why is this the last thing that I seem to be saying, though I say it over and over again?

The reason, is because you trip over my interest in synthetic a priori judgment, which you take to be a doctrine that has been discredited, and one that is heavy with dogmatic metaphysics (which btw, is a *Kantian* term of opprobrium).

Neri wrote:Further, your aversion to the use of the word, “truth” was apparently not shared by Kant.


Ah, this is a debate that I'm dying to get into.


Neri wrote:You will notice in the material I quoted that Kant speaks of the difference between truth and dreaming and of speaks of cognition taking illusion for truth.


You mean this: ”But the difference between truth and dreaming is not ascertained by the nature of the representations which are referred to objects (for they are the same in both cases) but by their connection according to those rules which determine the coherence of the representation in the concept of the object, and by ascertaining whether they can subsist together in experience or not. And it is not the fault of the appearances if our cognition takes illusion for truth...”

Kant speaks of the difference between truth and dreaming here, well yes, he says that it is not the fault of the appearances if our cognition takes illusion for truth. That the difference between truth and dreaming is not ascertained by the nature of the representations etc.

Neri wrote:I dare say he has used the word hundreds of time in the Prolegomena and The Critique of Pure Reason.


I recommend his Logic, as rendering the other books more accessible, and he has much to say about truth, there, as well. I note that it is perhaps a bit unusual, to regard Kant, as I am wont to do, as being on the rather short list of so-called greats in the the history of the science of logic. Kant's 'Logic' is available online for free: https://play.google.com/books/reader?id ... pg=GBS.PR1

One highlight: 'A universal material criterion of truth is not possible; it is even contradictory in itself.'


Neri wrote:There is no reason why he would not do so. So, please do not attempt to evade the question on the false premise that truth played not part in Kant's thinking.


I'm not arguing that truth played no part in Kant's thinking, I think it played a major part, a bigger part than you think, actually, sort of, is my view. Look, I take Kant's position to be interesting, what is interesting about it? You are habituated to another tradition--there is discontinuity here, our Anglo-American tradition is not so very Kantian. You can disbelieve this, if you like. The end result is, you don't find Kant very interesting. The questions about the way to harmonize geometry, Einstein, and philosophy of mathematics, interest me, though it may be of no great practical import.


Neri wrote:You may assume that, although communication of a limited sort would be possible between humans and the other animated beings, neither side could explain their particular “representation of phenomena” with “reference to the receptivity of their sensibility” [using Kantian jargon so there is no misunderstanding]—any more than a sighted person can explain what it means to see to a person who was blind all his life.


Okay, although I might add a suspicion, that probably one mathematics is more advanced, than the other. Is it possible that one side understands the other, but it isn't mutual? Perhaps it is a failure of my imagination, I don't know how very alien an alien species could be, that they would find our mathematics unintelligible. Perhaps I've just watched too much Star Trek. Not Spock, but something totally alien?


Neri wrote:If you understand Kant, you will admit that the geometries of the two species would be synthetic a priori as to each even though one would be completely incomprehensible to the other.


I think I get what you are setting up, shall we say, that we have a math tradition with its proofs, and practical uses, and they have theirs. Ours works for us. Theirs works for them. They do their accounting, and calculating the speed of Mercury's orbit, etc., using their very foreign/alien math.


Neri wrote:When I say that the two geometries are mutually inconsistent I mean just that—that they are completely irreconcilable. This would necessarily follow, according to Kant, because the “representation of phenomena” with “reference to the receptivity of the sensibilities” of the two species would rest upon “pure intuitions” of an entirely different sort.


This is all hypothetical. I don't really believe in aliens. As a thought experiment, I think that I can humor this.


Neri wrote:Therefore, the question remains: can both geometries be apodeictically true (in the sense I have used that expression) when they are mutually and irreconcilably contradictory? What is your answer?


You mean, can they both be synthetic a priori judgment? But, you've stipulated that they are. Am I evading a question, here? I don't like the use of the term truth in this context, as being Kantian. I take it, that an alien Kant, could have come up with the view that alien math, is synthetic a priori judgment. And, that their alien geometry, has apodeictic certainty. Which, to be clear, means that it can be known a priori, with apodeictic certainty. I would prefer, if some of what I take to be Kant's theory of judgement is allowed into the discussion. In my view, Kant's theory of judgment differs sharply from many other theories of judgment, and I mean, both traditional and contemporary. And, in multiple ways. But let's put a pin in that, and I'll conclude with three points:

1. Do we agree that 'apodeictic' is a modality. We can agree, at least, on what Kant's table of judgments says. We're talking about: “Necessarily, Fs are Gs” (or: “Necessarily P”). Happily, I expect that we do agree on that much. I'll add that geometry is known to have apodeictic certainty, and must have apodeictic certainty. I might also add, that you apparently think you can disprove the apodeictic certainty of geometry. I can try to help, give you a target, I'm saying that these judgments have apodeictic certainty, I think the detail of the Kantian reasoning is sound, some knowledge is apodeictic, and its subject matter is a priori.

2. What would your position be, on the question that you want me to answer, about aliens? And also, what if these aliens lived in an unimaginably alien universe, not simply the same part of the galaxy as us, but something totally alien, where in fact, 2+2 does not equal 4, etc. I don't know that we could survive in such a place. Perhaps there is not such a place. But, you like thought experiments.

3. What's the big deal with calling mathematics synthetic a priori judgment? It's judgment, it's a priori, it's synthetic. What part of this is supposed to be wrong?
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 25th, 2012, 4:19 am 

Let me offer a devil's advocate position, suppose that Kant is wrong, to say that Euclid's 5th Postulate is a necessary and universal truth. He's wrong, because hyperbolic or elliptic geometry is true of the world. Then, statements in Euclidean geometry are not necessary and universal truths about the world--are not synthetic a priori. See, I know the argument. That's exactly right, isn't it? But I find it quite garbled. Kant's claim is garbled, here. Unfortunately, there is an alternate claim that sounds something like this, which superficially passes muster, as something that Kant might have believed, and seems wrong. But this is not Kant's position.

Consider these two positions, that knowledge originates in experience, or that knowledge originates in reason? This is empiricism, and rationalism. Which is Kant's position? Why is it so easy to forget, that he argued against both. I know the drill, one offers a Kant quote like this:

Kant wrote:"That in which alone the sensations can be posited and ordered in a certain form, cannot itself be sensation; and therefore, while the matter of all appearance is given to us a posteriori only, its form must lie ready for the sensations a priori in the mind, and so must allow of being considered apart from all sensation."


Or like this:
Kant wrote:"The pure form of sensible intuitions in general, in which all the manifold of intuition is intuited in certain relations, must be found in the mind a priori. This pure form of sensibility may also itself be called pure intuition."


And then totally ignores what he is saying, which is not to say that it's spectacularly easy. This is abstruse stuff. But what is Kant saying here? It's not rationalism. It's not empiricism. Or this:

Kant wrote:"The apodeictic certainty of all geometrical propositions, and the possibility of their a priori construction, is grounded in this a priori necessity of space. Were this representation of space a concept acquired a posteriori, and derived from outer experience in general, the first principles of mathematical determination would be nothing but perceptions. They would therefore all share in the contingent character of perception; that there should be only one straight line between two points would not be necessary, but only what experience always teaches."


There you go, apodeictic certainty, the smoking gun, Kant was wrong. How was he wrong? Oops, that's not wrong at all. Then, surely he was wrong when he said this?

Kant wrote:"Space is a necessary a priori representation, which underlies all outer intuitions. We can never represent to ourselves the absence of space, though we can quite well think it as empty of objects. It must therefore be regarded as the condition of the possibility of appearances, and not as a determination dependent on them."


Nope, again, not wrong.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby owleye on August 25th, 2012, 4:01 pm 

Danlanglois wrote:I read this as your response to my asking you for your own opinion, you refuse. Kind of interesting. There is a point, about digressing away from the topic, I suppose. Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism, then.


That's right. It's a digression from the topic. Moreover, my opinion on the matter wasn't what motivated me to respond to you.

Danlanglois wrote:I posted a fair amount about Kant, and some quotes of my own. I'm pleased with these additional Kant quotes, and of course already familiar with them.


Well, I hadn't seen your citations. I hadn't given any either, but that wasn't my complaint. It seemed to me you were making claims about Kant that didn't jive with what is commonly understood to be Kant's philosophy, despite that, as you say, you realize that it is what is commonly understood. In that context, you proceed to take an alternative view, particularly that of using judgement, rather than knowledge in cases where Kant is using the term relative to space and time. This moves the topic to the realm of scholarship on Kant which is why I was motivated to respond. In the initial part of my discussions with you I granted some leeway in my interpretation of Kant insofar as there are alternative interpretations from scholars such as Buchholz and Friedman, but as our discussion went along, I couldn't sense that you've ever really done any sort of research on Kant. As it happens it was the topic of my thesis in grad school, but I wasn't even thinking that you needed to have even that depth of understanding of Kant; I was only assuming that you were well read and had good reasons for thinking that Kant should be interpreted in ways other than the commonly understood reading. I'm not a Kant scholar, and though what I've learned about it is from reading almost everything he wrote (in translation) and much of the secondary literature, I would readily bow to those who are smarter and more knowledgeable than I on the subject. I'm very much an amateur and am willing to be wrong. My frustration was based on my not seeing that your Kantian interpretation was based on your having derived it from a careful reading.

Danlanglois wrote:This is the stuff that I find interesting. Space does not exist in a noumenal sense, and that's not Kant.


What's not Kant? To me it is exactly what Kant is saying. Space is a form of intuition and synthetically injected into our phenomenal experience. It's truth is a priori on that basis, according to Kant. The representation of space respecting its use -- the space of our observations -- is how objects in space are experienced. Objects in space refer to those objects in themselves as they are apart from our experience of them. This is the common understanding of Kant's position on the matter. Moreover, space itself is not an object of (outer) experience. There is no corresponding external space that has any in-itself existence, for Kant.

Danlanglois wrote:Your notion that Kant distinguishes the geometry of space in its mathematical (pure) sense and geometry in its applied sense of dealing with empirical (phenomenal) space sounds like Carnap.


Could be, though I don't know what you're getting at.. (Also see comments at the end of this post.)

Danlanglois wrote:I don't really disagree with this point--we are awash with stimuli but somehow etc. There is a Schopenhauer quote--'objects are objects of perception not of sensation'. Why would it seem that I disagree?


Well, it seemed to me you were relying on it being obvious that space exists apart from our experience of it when you asked me of my opinion on space, where I took its context in such a way that you were trying to use that obviousness to support a different interpretation of Kant. (Also, I don't understand how your quote is relevant. Nevertheless, things may be cleared up in the following.)

Danlanglois wrote:There is nothing going on behind the veil of phenomena. You're thinking of the things themselves? This is rather more Platonic than Kantian.


Well, I'm a representationalist, and it's the position of representationalists that what our mind represents in perceptual (outer) experience represents that which it is a representation of. Kant is a representationist, like Shopenhauer. The objects in perception (as phenomenal objects) represent objects in themselves (as noumenal objects), about which, for Kant, we can know nothing. The moon as a phenomenal object exists but in its representation, represents the moon as it exists in itself and as such exists apart from our experience of it. It is what is referenced when we point to the moon in the sky. We are referring to the object as it exists independent of our pointing to it -- which is to say while we are pointing to the image that is our shared experience of it, what we are referring to by pointing to it is its reality apart from its appearance. (I should add that the correspondence aspect of this (though elaborated in great detail by Kant in the CPR) is of the image of the object to the real object. I have a different sort of correspondence in mind, one that is probably accepted by most representationalists today -- namely the correspondence has to do with the information content that produced the representation of the phenomena with that of the information content associated in some way with the real object. Also see next section.)

I'm getting the impression that you are not a representationalist.

Danlanglois wrote:I'm surprised that this is so difficult. I've asked what is space to you? You use these phrases like 'external space'. What do you know of external space, and how do you know it, and how was Kant wrong?


Well, as hinted and partially indicated in my prior post, it has to do with how Kant treated representations. My interpretation of Kant is that he was blocked into thinking that we can't know anything about the noumenal world, the world apart from our experience of it, and the reason was not just because it didn't fit with his overall project, but because he didn't have an understanding of the modern interpretation of 'information'. His bottom line is sensation, which, as I see it, is something already formed after our brain synthesizes what our sense organs are stimulated by and process. They are the end product of a process which takes stimuli as potential information carriers which the brain makes use of in forming representations of the world in conscious experience. Kant is right to say the basic entity of experience is sensation, but that's as far as he goes with it. He isn't aware that the stimuli that eventually become the sensation derive from the information about the world carried by it. Our representations of that world are based on information about it somehow being mediated by information carriers to our sense organs. In Kant's a priori world, the mind is solely responsible, essentially out of whole cloth, in delivering that world to us in the form of phenomenal experience. Once Darwin's theory comes along, suddenly the a priori world disappears in favor of one based on its evolutionary history. The correspondence is contained within that history. You're right that Kant's world is from the rationalist side of the fence, unlike, say in England, where naturalists seem to be born. Nevertheless it was Gauss, the German, who got the ball rolling on the possibility of a non-Euclidean geometry, and even telling us that he had a proof of it, and perhaps he was leaning on his own intuitional genius as he never got around to writing it down. In any case, he believed he could measure the earth in some way (using some sort of triangulation) to determine the geometry of space, which I'm pretty sure was faulty in his presentation of it, but I suppose the principle might be adequate. The main implication of measuring it though was Gauss's way of showing disapproval with Kant's a priori conclusions. In any case, the discovery of non-Euclidean geometry itself doesn't take us to Einstein's theory of space-time. There's much more to the story as it is contained all throughout the 19th century.

Note that I've not tackled the noumenal world topic here (nor your response to it) as it would take me too far afield, but it is an interesting topic. We don't speak much of it today for good reason, but again, that's another story.

Danlanglois wrote:'quite different'--I think it's worth looking closer at this.


I've probably overstated it by the use of 'quite'. I did detect the difference in my research, and Friedman does point it out, but it's been awhile and I'm not sure I can readily put my finger on it. It's probably subtle, as Kant himself is, in the way he makes his various distinctions. I suspect a google or two would help me refresh my memory more than I've made use of above, but it was gratuitous anyway, so I'll let that pass.

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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 25th, 2012, 8:59 pm 

owleye wrote:As it happens it was the topic of my thesis in grad school, but I wasn't even thinking that you needed to have even that depth of understanding of Kant; I was only assuming that you were well read and had good reasons for thinking that Kant should be interpreted in ways other than the commonly understood reading. I'm not a Kant scholar, and though what I've learned about it is from reading almost everything he wrote (in translation) and much of the secondary literature, I would readily bow to those who are smarter and more knowledgeable than I on the subject. I'm very much an amateur and am willing to be wrong. My frustration was based on my not seeing that your Kantian interpretation was based on your having derived it from a careful reading.


I'm not interested in playing quien es macho Kant scholar--I'm perfectly willing to stipulate your credentials as a Kant scholar, esp. if it's the topic of your thesis in grad school, I'm simply pleased that you do find this interesting, great. It's not unusual to encounter posturing about who knows most, I once had a conversation with a college professor (my professor), where I asked him if he was familiar with Schopenhauer, and he replied 'I've read Schopenhauer *in German*.' Which, I didn't doubt his credentials, he had me at hello, I was paying for the privilege of being in that academic environment, but his comment, actually comments, like this, did raise doubts in my mind. I don't think the question here, is who is the smartest bear in the room, you're being quite wordy here, about the scholarly legitimacy of our discussion--does somebody, then, have to be, in the end, labeled an imposter? Not for my sake.

owleye wrote:
Danlanglois wrote:This is the stuff that I find interesting. Space does not exist in a noumenal sense, and that's not Kant.


What's not Kant? To me it is exactly what Kant is saying.


I was wondering about this. I think maybe your point got garbled. What, then, is exactly what Kant is saying, about space and time? Surely, that they are empirically real, and transcendentally ideal? We've seen a number of actual Kant quotes on the matter, at this point, in the thread. What have we stumbled into? You think I'm way off in my interpretation of Kant, and the word 'noumenal' comes into it, not a word that I even introduced into the discussion..?

owleye wrote:Space is a form of intuition and synthetically injected into our phenomenal experience.


I note how this is not Kantian terminology, precisely, to my ears. Though, the theory may seem plausible enough to you. Synthetically injected into our phenomenal experience. I'm not absolutely certain how to understand this, it sounds like one possible Kant interpretation among others. It sounds a bit preoccupied with empiricism. I'm not precisely disagreeing, just wondering if I can take this as straight Kant exegesis.

'Synthetically injected'. Into our phenomenal experience. Do I take it, that our phenomenal experience has a formal and a material component. You're musing on space, as a formal component of our experience. I suppose that I get that, I do hesitate over new jargon like 'synthetically injected'--maybe I can get used to it, I'm just hesitant over what is at stake here? Would that be the only way to put it, when Kant didn't put it that way?

owleye wrote:It's truth is a priori on that basis, according to Kant.


Would there be any point, to my red-flagging your use of the word truth, in this context? I'm at the point of thinking I need to choose my battles, but still, I choose this one. Can we have a moratorium on informal usages of the word truth? Kant is not simply a realist. Space is empirically real, it's an 'appearance'. These points have, at least, a different emphasis, that 'its truth is a priori'. Consider, as a thought experiment, that God might see things differently. As you are not God, though you may or may not be a theist, so you are not a dogmatic realist, in the same sense that an omniscient god has the alternative of being.

The word 'truth' has, as I have fought a sad lonely battle in this thread to emphasize, but I think it's important, some unfortunate connotations, when it comes to understanding Kant. Let us say, that we don't need to have a non-obscure, or plausible, Kant interpretation. It's Kant, it's supposed to be hard stuff, in some ways his points are going to turn out to be subtle, and indirect, which is hampered, when every other word we use is 'truth'.

There are different kinds of truth, for Kant. I suppose that he takes experience to be 'true', as experience, as it were. The phenomenal world is 'real'. What set all this off, is this statement of yours: 'Its truth is a priori on that basis, according to Kant.' No, not according to Kant. A priori is not a kind of truth, 'its truth' is not what is a priori. Perhaps you take yourself merely to mean, that the knowledge is a priori, which seems not to be all full of pitfalls. But what is the knowledge of, then? Is it, simply, knowledge of our own cognitive limitations. What is a priori, here, is it that we can't help it that we're human and our intellects are limited to phenomenal experience? I have my doubts about calling this a species of 'truth'. It would be fine, I imagine, if we had a broader common understanding of Kant between us.

owleye wrote:The representation of space respecting its use -- the space of our observations -- is how objects in space are experienced.


There is no apt Kant quote here, making this assertion? The representation of space respecting its use. Here is a Kant quote: '‘the original representation of space is an a priori intuition, not a concept.'

And here is more:
Kant wrote:Now an a priori concept (a non-empirical concept) either already contains a pure intuition in itself, in which case it can be constructed; or else it contains nothing but the synthesis of possible intuitions, which are not given a priori, in which case one can well judge synthetically and a priori by its means but only discursively, in accordance with concepts, and never intuitively through the construction of the concept.


I worry about where you are going with this, but, to proceed:

owleye wrote:The representation of space respecting its use -- the space of our observations -- is how objects in space are experienced. Objects in space refer to those objects in themselves as they are apart from our experience of them.


Objects in space refer to those objects in themselves. At this point, I lack patience, for your accusations that I haven't read Kant. Shall I continue, even? Objects in space refer to those objects in themselves? As they are? Apart from our experience of them? What does 'refer' mean, here? You are interpreting Kant, here. This is a stubborn refusal to take him on board, in my view. Objects are emperical objects. There is (spatial) experience of empirical objects. There are no objects in themselves. You're thinking of 'things in themselves'? I can just about bite my tongue here, until I see that your next sentence is 'This is the common understanding of Kant's position on the matter'.


That's a full stop.


Look, if my interpretation of Kant is that far out of the mainstream, then I don't know, I guess I've got hold of something even more interesting than I had thought.

There are not objects in themselves. Are we truly grappling, with Kant’s distinctive account of our cognition of space. You are making much less of this, than is there, I suspect, w/apologies. Why is Kant famous, why is he a big deal? Can you distinguish his view from, say, Locke's view? One of Locke’s philosophical claims to fame, of course, is his development of the distinction between primary and secondary qualities of objects. The issue involves a distinction between qualities of objects that actually belong to the object itself, and qualities of objects that we impose on them. In contrast with primary qualities, there are also secondary qualities that are spectator-dependent: we impose the attributes onto objects, and these include colors, sounds, and tastes.

“Representative realism” is Locke’s view that we experience objects indirectly through “representations”.

This is what you seem to be describing as Kant's view. The mind represents the world, but does not duplicate it. Descartes also held this view. Representative realism is often opposed to naïve realism, the view that the mind literally duplicates or “mirrors” external reality.

I think, given that you are interested in Kant, it's your grad school thesis, that this discussion can break in one of two ways. Our views on Kant are far apart. You're going to have to take a leap of faith, here. Are you interested in continuing? I have perhaps not been as diplomatic as I could have been, in contradicting you on these matters, in which you are invested. I don't think that I am particularly touchy, don't worry about it, but I think that the size of the chasm between us on interpreting these matters is only now becoming clear to me.

If you like, tell me, do you take Kant's transcendental idealism to be a species of representative realism? How can they be distinguished?

Actually, I'd be curious what you might respond with, to this: What is the problem of substance in Locke?

We need to find some common ground, to continue. You are reasonably booked up on Locke and this kind of background stuff, reasonably interested in continuing?

We've exchanged a few doubts, as to whether this Kant stuff is on-topic. I'm now confinced that it at least deserves its own thread, I'm confident that you at least agree that this isn't the thread, I think you've said as much. hmm. There is a good chance that you'll want to let the whole thing drop--always an option. But if not, let's start a new thread?

I'll offer a parting shot, as I'm commenting as I read through your generously extended post (which I do appreciate), and I see that we get to this:


owleye wrote:Well, I'm a representationalist..


It seems, that we touch base, here, I pegged you correctly. I have more difficulty w/pegging kant this way, however.

owleye wrote:.., and it's the position of representationalists that what our mind represents in perceptual (outer) experience represents that which it is a representation of. Kant is a representationist, like Shopenhauer.


I suppose that we are at least getting somewhere, in explicating your views. However, I certainly do not take Kant to be a representationalist, in the sense that you mean. Here is a Kant quote:

Kant wrote:Our exposition therefore establishes the reality, that is, the objective validity, of space in respect of whatever can be presented to us outwardly as object,..We assert, then, the empirical reality of space, as regards all possible outer experience;..With the sole exception of space there is no subjective representation, referring to something outer, which could be entitled [at once] objective [and]
a priori..space is not a form of things inhering in themselves as their intrinsic property


I'm going to some trouble here, is that not just the quote? Kant was not a representationalist, then? I'm hitting that idea pretty hard? How invested in this were you?


And, of course, having quoted Schopenhauer, I'm familiar with him, and one can hardly deny that Schopenhauer is a representationalist. Even with Schopenhauer, though, I may be able to distinguish my interpretation from yours. I don't think it should be hard to establish, definitively, that Schopenhauer denied the noumenal reality of space. Here are some Schopenhauer quotes, which I can shake out of my sleeve, Schopenhauer is a longtime favorite (not that I always agree w/him):

Schopenhauer wrote:This ideality of Time and Space is the key to every true system of metaphysics; because it provides for quite another order of things than is to be met with in the domain of nature. This is why Kant is so great.


What then, is ideality, in Schopenhauer's parlance? It ain't 'reality', is it?

Schopenhauer wrote:No truth therefore is more certain,..that all that exists for knowledge, and therefore this whole world, is only object in relation to subject/perception of a perceiver,..it is true of time and space themselves,..


Schopenhauer wrote:not time only but also space, and the whole content of both of them, i.e., all that proceeds from causes and motives, has a merely relative existence..


Schopenhauer wrote:I shall call time and space the principium individuationis, borrowing an expression from the old schoolmen, and I beg to draw attention to this, once for all.


For Schopenhauer the principle in question is that things are distinguished from one another by their position in space and time. Objects exist entirely in the phenomenal realm. They are not things-in-themselves and cannot be because we can know the former and not the latter.

Schopenhauer wrote:the demand for the existence of the object outside the representation of the subject, and also for a real being of the actual thing distinct from its action, has no meaning at all, and is a contradiction.



Then, do you still find it possible to assert this:
owleye wrote:The objects in perception (as phenomenal objects) represent objects in themselves (as noumenal objects),..


You might want to assert this, but it's not Schopenhauer. What about Kant?

owleye wrote:The objects in perception (as phenomenal objects) represent objects in themselves (as noumenal objects),..about which, for Kant, we can know nothing.


Noumenal objects, is not a term that Kant ever used, is it? Rhetorical question. You challenge my scholarship, google up then, it's all in the public domain. Take 30 seconds, where did Kant ever use the term noumenal objects. Perhaps I am being a bit persnickety. What I mean is, noumena are ‘intellectual’ beings not because they are *objects* of intellectual intuition (they cannot be such since human beings can only intuit objects on a sensory basis).

Kant wrote:..when the understanding calls an object in a certain relationship a mere phenomenon, as well as this relationship, it also forms a representation of an object in itself’.


That is to say, the understanding involuntarily constructs a concept of a thing-in-itself, as that which is behind the appearance, whenever we experience an object. That is, it is an experience of an appearance. It is a phenomenal experience of an appearance. Kant sees, or if you like, I see it this way, that this concept of noumenon as a necessary bi-product of our understanding in relation to a phenomenal object. Put it this way, for Kant, as I understand it, noumena can never be objects because by their very nature they are inaccessible for the senses.


owleye wrote:The moon as a phenomenal object exists but in its representation, represents the moon as it exists in itself and as such exists apart from our experience of it. It is what is referenced when we point to the moon in the sky.


To which I say, that the concept of a noumenon as a thing-in-itself is created by the understanding as a bi-product of phenomenal experience and it is a purely intellectual concept that cannot be verified in experience, which is exclusively phenomenal. The concept of noumenon is a purely intellectual concept. Note, that categories can only be applied in intuition and empirical intuition is the only intuition that we have. As the result, it is often stated in Kant literature, that the only way we can understand noumenon is in the negative sense.

owleye wrote:We are referring to the object as it exists independent of our pointing to it -- which is to say while we are pointing to the image that is our shared experience of it, what we are referring to by pointing to it is its reality apart from its appearance. (I should add that the correspondence aspect of this (though elaborated in great detail by Kant in the CPR) is of the image of the object to the real object.


I wish you hadn't asserted something here, about what Kant elaborates in great detail in the CPR, because I don't think I can accept your interpretation. Are you familiar with this assertion: 'the concept of a noumenon is merely a limiting concept to curb the pretensions of sensibility, and it is therefore only of negative use'. What I take to be elaborated in great detail, is that the fact that the concept of noumenon can only be taken in a negative sense limits the application of the categories exclusively to objects of experience, thereby restricting the domain of that which can be known in the positive sense.

Kant wrote:..but in doing so it also sets limits to itself, since it cannot know noumena through the categories, and so it can think them only by calling them an ‘unknown something’’



owleye wrote:I have a different sort of correspondence in mind,..


That's a relief. I don't. So we're thankfully not reduced to debated what Kant is supposed to have said.


owleye wrote:I have a different sort of correspondence in mind, one that is probably accepted by most representationalists today -- namely the correspondence has to do with the information content that produced the representation of the phenomena with that of the information content associated in some way with the real object. Also see next section.)

I'm getting the impression that you are not a representationalist.



Well, we're getting along pretty well, at this point.

owleye wrote:My interpretation of Kant is that he was blocked into thinking that we can't know anything about the noumenal world, the world apart from our experience of it, and the reason was not just because it didn't fit with his overall project, but because he didn't have an understanding of the modern interpretation of 'information'.


Hmm. I don't think there is a noumenal world. Such debates about whether there is/isn't a noumenal world, are subject to devolving into terminological quibbles. It's a tricky point. Not believing in a noumenal world, will tend to sound like I don't endorse the scientific project, of increasing our objective knowledge, or some such. I don't see it that way, but I'll offer that it might sound that way.

owleye wrote:His bottom line is sensation, which, as I see it, is something already formed after our brain synthesizes what our sense organs are stimulated by and process.


Kant's bottom line is sensation? I'm not sure what you are getting into, here. My bottom line is not sensation, I suppose that part of my real bottom line, in Kant interpretation, is that there are stages to 'constructing' experience, and different mental abilities involved. That's very general. On the specifics, I'm quite impressed with Kant himself.


owleye wrote:They are the end product of a process which takes stimuli as potential information carriers which the brain makes use of in forming representations of the world in conscious experience. Kant is right to say the basic entity of experience is sensation, but that's as far as he goes with it.


Still not sure that I agree on Kant, still not sure where you are headed w/this.

owleye wrote:He isn't aware that the stimuli that eventually become the sensation derive from the information about the world carried by it.


I've commented before, that your orientation seems quite empiricist, to me, it may not be clear why I say that.

owleye wrote:Our representations of that world are based on information about it somehow being mediated by information carriers to our sense organs.


Broadly, you're plumping for a more passive brain-as-mirror of nature kind of thing, pre-Kantian, then, aren't you? Empiricism is preKantian.

owleye wrote:In Kant's a priori world, the mind is solely responsible, essentially out of whole cloth,


I hate that phrase out of whole cloth. 'Essentially' out of whole cloth, manages to be worse. I have no use for this.

owleye wrote:..in delivering that world to us in the form of phenomenal experience. Once Darwin's theory comes along, suddenly the a priori world disappears in favor of one based on its evolutionary history. The correspondence is contained within that history.


To be interested in Darwin, is to be busy enough. There's plenty to consider there. 'Suddenly the a priori world disappears', well, I wouldn't put it that way, but I think there's at least something to this Darwin stuff. Plenty to consider. Not easy to resolve the philosophical questions that evolution raises, while standing on one foot.


owleye wrote:You're right that Kant's world is from the rationalist side of the fence, unlike, say in England, where naturalists seem to be born. Nevertheless it was Gauss, the German, who got the ball rolling on the possibility of a non-Euclidean geometry, and even telling us that he had a proof of it, and perhaps he was leaning on his own intuitional genius as he never got around to writing it down.


Gauss was virtually obsessed with Kant. Read him incessantly. It doesn't, then, simply render Kant irrelevant, to throw Gauss's name out. But he was brilliant.

owleye wrote: In any case, he believed he could measure the earth in some way (using some sort of triangulation) to determine the geometry of space, which I'm pretty sure was faulty in his presentation of it, but I suppose the principle might be adequate. The main implication of measuring it though was Gauss's way of showing disapproval with Kant's a priori conclusions. In any case, the discovery of non-Euclidean geometry itself doesn't take us to Einstein's theory of space-time. There's much more to the story as it is contained all throughout the 19th century.


I'll let this slide, with but one comment. This work throughout the 19th century, on nonEuclidean geometry, was autonomous, a priori work. And, that I do not incline to the view that 'space' has a specific geometry, but that probably sounds totally paradoxical.

owleye wrote:Danlanglois wrote:
'quite different'--I think it's worth looking closer at this.


I've probably overstated it by the use of 'quite'..It's probably subtle, as Kant himself is, in the way he makes his various distinctions. I suspect a google or two would help me refresh my memory more than I've made use of above, but it was gratuitous anyway, so I'll let that pass.


I suppose that my major point, is that math has an a priori element, which is huge, glaring, and totally irreconcilable with empiricism. Furthermore, I'm seeing, in Kant, an analytic/synthetic distinction that is important to understanding him, and valuing him, and which tends to be summarily dismissed--Not argued down. There's lots of baggage in Kant's transcendental Idealism, he's a Protestant, he's got views on everything, he's full of jargon. As I mentioned before, a proper interpretation here renders something obscure, and not plausible. Summed up, my view is this: Mathematics is synthetic a priori judgment, very much as Kant asserted. Including nonEuclidean Geometry. Everybody who sticks their neck out with an opinion about philosophy of mathematics for the last 300 years, has distinguish his position from Kant's--Kant is always taken as the inadequate starting point. But the business about math being synthetic a priori judgment, he was dead right, I think. Again, there's much to be expounded, about what that means, especially the synthetic part. But he wins.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 25th, 2012, 11:27 pm 

I've thought of an additional comment, that for me, I actually prefer to think of Kant’s position on whether noumena exist or not, as being somewhat difficult to decipher.

Shall we say, that when I look at your moon, I can only see it frontally; however, I am justified in believing that it has a backside, despite the fact that the senses cannot confirm this. Which, I would add, is a metaphor, and hence imperfect in its representation of the actual issue in question. I've meditated one whether I want to allow you to stipulate a one-to-one correlation of noumenon to phenomenon, and I don't think so, currently. I'm seeing Kant as not meaning to establish a one-to-one correlation. But, here, I think there is no easy route. The question of noumenon’s existence is beyond the competence of knowledge, can only be attributed to faith.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Neri on August 26th, 2012, 12:34 pm 

Danlanglois

Although I am happy to see that you now contradict your former position that “truth” and ”apodeictic” were no part of Kant’s lexicon, I am afraid that you have completely missed the point of my question.

The problem I presented was not a so-called thought experiment. It was based on Kant’s own words--in particular, on his assertion that other animate creatures may have pure intuitions completely different from our own. My inquiry was designed to explicate the basic anti-realism of Kant’s philosophy--something which has apparently escaped you. I do not say that I agree with Kant’s anti-realist stance. However, to argue against his position on truth and reality, one must first understand what he is actually saying.


Kant would answer my question in the following manner:

Because it is the differing pure intuitions (differences in things as they appear) that give rise to the irreconcilable contradictions between human geometry and that of the other animate creatures, each geometry is true TO each species, provided that it is internally coherent with the objects of sense as experienced by them, but neither is true IN ITSELF [in the sense that neither refers to things in themselves). Thus, although each geometry cannot be conceived as being false by the species that developed it, neither geometry actually corresponds to things in themselves. ”We only cognize in things a priori that which we ourselves place in them.” [Critique, ibid., p.xxx]. The same reasoning would apply to other fields of mathematics and to science as well.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thus, a correct understanding of Kant will indicate that if the intuition of objects of sense in their unity and plurality differed radically between humans and other animate creatures, the latter may well take it as given and undeniable that 1 plus 1 does not equal 2; for Kant makes it quite clear that of 1+1=2 is true only to us and not in itself. Kant admits of a truth corresponding to noumenal reality but says that it is unattainable by us. He tries to defend his epistemology from the charge of mere illusion, by saying that our ideas have truth value by reason of their internal coherence—something, for example, not possessed in dreams.


The absolute (noumenal) truth of science was denied by Kant in a single observation:

“The objects [of sense] must conform to our cognition.” (Critique, ibid, p.xxix).


The truth of science rests upon verification by observation and experimentation; but these are themselves only objects of sense arising from pure intuition and as such contain only “that which we ourselves place in them.” However, we do not create predicted effects willy-nilly but only when they arise with sufficient coherence from the representations arising out our peculiarly human intuitions. Again, I do not say that I agree with this anti-realist position, but what Kant said is what he said.


What does this mean, so far as Kant is concerned, with respect to humans versus the other animated creatures we posited? If the latter have developed scientific principles as extensive as ours based upon representations arising out of their own particular intuitions, there science will predict certain results which will be evident to them but not to us. Conversely, they will not experience that the things predicted by our science actually happen. They will experience things that we do not, and we will experience things that they do not. Indeed, one species may well experience that a given thing happened, when the other, in the same circumstances, would experience that something entirely different has happened. Kant would say that this curious state of affairs is due to the fact that neither species experiences the world as it is in itself.

All of this raises another question:

What would be the result if the senses of animated creatures from another distant planet were so constituted as to represent objects as they are in themselves?

For the purpose of furthering the understanding of Kant, I would be interested in hearing answers from any member of this forum.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Positor on August 26th, 2012, 1:50 pm 

As the originator of this thread, I'd like to jump in here and say that I have been following this discussion closely. My preference would be for the part about Kant to be split off from the Quine part, although it's difficult to find a clear cut-off point. If Danlanglois and/or owleye decide to start a new thread to continue any aspect of their discussion, I will follow it with interest. My own knowledge of Kant is relatively limited, but I have learned a lot from reading this thread.

I would just like to comment on the following passages by owleye:

owleye wrote:My interpretation of Kant is that he was blocked into thinking that we can't know anything about the noumenal world, the world apart from our experience of it, and the reason was not just because it didn't fit with his overall project, but because he didn't have an understanding of the modern interpretation of 'information'. His bottom line is sensation, which, as I see it, is something already formed after our brain synthesizes what our sense organs are stimulated by and process. They are the end product of a process which takes stimuli as potential information carriers which the brain makes use of in forming representations of the world in conscious experience. Kant is right to say the basic entity of experience is sensation, but that's as far as he goes with it. He isn't aware that the stimuli that eventually become the sensation derive from the information about the world carried by it. Our representations of that world are based on information about it somehow being mediated by information carriers to our sense organs. In Kant's a priori world, the mind is solely responsible, essentially out of whole cloth, in delivering that world to us in the form of phenomenal experience.

What role, then, according to Kant, do stimuli play? Why did he think sense organs are necessary at all? What did he think was their function, if not to receive raw "information" about the world?

See the sentences I have bolded above. They seem to be saying either (a) that Kant believed sensations are entirely arbitrary, or (b) that he believed they are a synthesis of stimuli which are themselves entirely arbitrary. But that cannot be right, since Kant was an empirical realist. In Kant's view, what provided the interface between our experience and the world?

owleye wrote:Once Darwin's theory comes along, suddenly the a priori world disappears in favor of one based on its evolutionary history. The correspondence is contained within that history.

I don't quite see the relevance of Darwin here. Our knowledge of evolution (like our knowledge of everything else) comes ultimately from our senses. If one thinks the coherence of evolutionary theory is evidence of noumena, then surely (a) the coherence of one's experiences in general, and (b) the fact of one's survival, were already ample evidence. If, on the other hand, one believes that the pattern of our general experiences and the fact of our survival enable us to make inferences about the phenomenal world only, why should evolution be any different?

Why should evolutionary history be considered uniquely effective in confirming the existence of noumena? Why should it be any more effective in this respect than any other theory of life (e.g. creationism), or any cosmological theory?

A thread specifically about noumena would be interesting.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 26th, 2012, 4:48 pm 

Neri wrote:The problem I presented was not a so-called thought experiment.


The question about aliens?

Neri wrote:My inquiry was designed to explicate the basic anti-realism of Kant’s philosophy--something which has apparently escaped you.


'basic anti-realism'.

Neri wrote:Kant would answer my question in the following manner:

Because it is the differing pure intuitions (differences in things as they appear) that give rise to the irreconcilable contradictions between human geometry and that of the other animate creatures, each geometry is true TO each species, provided that it is internally coherent with the objects of sense as experienced by them, but neither is true IN ITSELF [in the sense that neither refers to things in themselves). Thus, although each geometry cannot be conceived as being false by the species that developed it, neither geometry actually corresponds to things in themselves. ”We only cognize in things a priori that which we ourselves place in them.” [Critique, ibid., p.xxx]. The same reasoning would apply to other fields of mathematics and to science as well.


So far, I find this unobjectionable. What point, then, have I missed?

Neri wrote:Kant makes it quite clear that of 1+1=2 is true only to us and not in itself.


That sounds like a Kantian point, though I'm not sure what you take it to mean. As I understand it, I agree.


Neri wrote:Kant admits of a truth corresponding to noumenal reality


You're really wearing me out--a 'truth corresponding to noumenal reality' is not my preferred parlance, for reasons which satisfy me. Is there even a noumenal reality? Is there a truth corresponding to it? We don't properly make assertions about noumenal reality, as I understand Kant.

Neri wrote:..but says that it is unattainable by us.


we don't have the mental ability. I think Kant offers a similar thought experiment to yours somewhere, what would God's thoughts be? In his omniscience, he could intuit 'the truth'. For us to talk about truth, is to project into the mind of God. So, as you are not God, you do not know 'things in themselves', is this straightforward enough, I hope? As Kant exegesis?

Neri wrote:He tries to defend his epistemology from the charge of mere illusion,


This is very argumentative. Surely anyone will 'try to defend' their epistemology from the charge of mere illusion.

Neri wrote:..by saying that our ideas have truth value by reason of their internal coherence—something, for example, not possessed in dreams.



Kant talks about blind concepts. These, he thinks, have, in your parlance, no truth value, I suppose. I think you make too much, with your phrase 'internal coherence', which sounds rather like familiar analytic holism, of notions that were foreign to Kant. At least, there is the potential for this. You're latching onto something familiar, maybe, as opposed to looking closer at what Kant has to say about blind concepts. Kant's emperical realism, as he calls it, is based on intuition playing a role in cogitation.


Neri wrote:The absolute (noumenal) truth of science was denied by Kant in a single observation:

“The objects [of sense] must conform to our cognition.” (Critique, ibid, p.xxix).


Surely Kant was denying something. In the end, you seem to feel that he was denying science. He wrote a book on the metaphysics of natural science, it's silly to suppose that Kant was denying science. Then, is there a difference between 'the absolute (noumenal) truth of science', and science? You are perhaps being cagey, I ask you to offer your own views, how does it honestly seem to you? Are we so enthralled with arguments, that it would only slow us down, to offer our own honest views? What is your position on science? Science does not offer absolute (noumenal) truth, in your view? Is there some kind of rough consensus, or even pedigreed position, that it does? I might even put this opinion past Aristotle. Perhaps not Bertrand Russell, at a certain point. Absolute (noumenal) truth is a real mouthful, how does this notion become relevant? You have a use for this? Again, here, I can offer that such a notion, is approprate for the gods--are you a god? Where do you get your hands on absolute (noumenal) truth? Sounds valuable--if you've got it, hold on to it. Okay so Kant says that “The objects [of sense] must conform to our cognition.” Why, then, do you bring this up? Do you disagree? As, I don't see how it's possible to disagree.


Neri wrote:The truth of science rests upon verification by observation and experimentation;


I have what you're likely to consider to be quibbles with this--shall we say, at this point, that philosophy of science is a big subject. Even 'truth', here, naturally, as you expect, at this point, bugs me. How about the usefulness, or the power, of science. And there there is the matter of what it rests upon. I'm fine with observation and experimentation, as far as it goes, but I don't think that observation and experimentation are enough to distinguish science from pseudo-science. And, what role to they even play in mathematics? Which, I take it, we were specifically discussing?

Neri wrote:..but these are themselves only objects of sense arising from pure intuition and as such contain only “that which we ourselves place in them.”


These (verification by observation and experimentation) are objects of sense. I think what you mean is, that objects of sense are objects of sense? How do you find this arguable? But perhaps, then, it is arguable that objects of sense arise from pure intuition. Here, I'd dial back a bit, and point out that intuition plays a role. Do they, then, contain only 'that which we ourselves place in them'. Here, again, I'd dial back a bit, and say that there is not only a material, but a formal, element in cognition of objects of sense (we are, after all, only aware of objects of sense through what Kant calls 'intuition'--this may be a slightly different use of the term intuition than you thought--it's not 'imagination', Kant distinguishes these, there are a few matters of practicing up with Kant's parlance, maybe).

You do realize, that Kant is a major philosopher--how easily can he be dismissed?

You're not being much of a sport here, setting up these straw-man arguments. Are you really concerned to debate what is starting to sound like solipsism?

It is again important, I think, to track what is your own position. You probably fully agree, and would say it yourself, eagerly, that there is a formal element in cognition. What if somebody is just too limited intellectually to be able to do any science? There are active mental abilities involved in doing science. The mind is not simply a mirror. These are reasonable points--putting emphasis on them, may be new to you, but it's interesting stuff in its way. You want to attribute some silly piece of outrageousness to Kant? He's crazy? In your position, I'd rather suspect that as you put it, 'you're missing the point'.



Neri wrote:However, we do not create predicted effects willy-nilly but only when they arise with sufficient coherence from the representations arising out our peculiarly human intuitions.


Perhaps, you are using the term 'create' here, in rather literal sense, like a schizophrenic creates a subjective world of experience? I'm not sure where you're going with this.

Neri wrote:Again, I do not say that I agree with this anti-realist position, but what Kant said is what he said.


I'm confident that you understand your own position, which I think I've already said, or I might have been posting to somebody else, I'm more interested in your position than I am in your misapprehensions of Kant. You're confident about your apprehensions of Kant, of course, but you don't make anything terribly interesting out of him. This should shake your confidence, if you are being reasonable. Who is a greater philosopher than Kant? Just, anybody? Most people? You? And, 'this anti-realist' position, I hestitate to characterize Kant's position in these terms, it's a label.


Neri wrote:What does this mean, so far as Kant is concerned, with respect to humans versus the other animated creatures we posited? If the latter have developed scientific principles as extensive as ours based upon representations arising out of their own particular intuitions, there science will predict certain results which will be evident to them but not to us.


It's quite a stretch to suppose that this 'science' could not even be mastered by us. Why then, would we be justified in calling it 'science'? I suppose that these aliens are sufficiently advanced--we can't do what they can do, faster-than-light travel, teleportation, it looks like magic to us, is this the scenario? Or, they just have a different area of expertise, scientific fields that are relevant to them, but strange to us. So strange, that we can't get the hang of it? Then, I don't see, again, how we can even call it 'science'.

Neri wrote:Conversely, they will not experience that the things predicted by our science actually happen.


No, I'm getting the drift now, I think, that you are arguing against what you take to be Kant's position. You're asking a thought experiment to do some heavy lifting here. I'm certain that aliens would experience things predicted by our science, such as the sun rising in the morning, as actually happening. Shall we say, if we drop a nuclear bomb on their heads, they blow up, quite an experience. I picture it working like in the movies, like in Independence Day, or Aliens. We all live in the same world, the same reality. If they are so foreign that we can't communicate with them, this is conceivable. Such would be the result of incredibly alien 'intuitions'. It wouldn't result in debates about whether or not whether there is smoke there is fire, etc.

That's a pretty silly trial balloon, as an interpretation of Kant, frankly, in my view. He thinks that the empirical world is not actually real, but if that was the case, then aliens would live in a different reality, something like this, is your interpretation? You're all tied up in knots, with these arguments, when I'd be more interested in your honest views. What do you think, that the empirical world is real? So do I. Who can deny it? And what else cannot be denied? If we follow this train of thought, you will wind up being a transcendental idealist, that's how you can get there.

Neri wrote:They will experience things that we do not, and we will experience things that they do not.


This is a bit loose, they will have a different sensibility, perhaps, but human beings do not all share the same sensibility. Helen Keller, being blind and deaf, had a severely impared sensibility, but only in a rather loose sense, did she experience things that we do not. It might be hard to explain music to her, but I think you want to mean rather more than that? Maybe not, but the point that different people have, to varying degrees, different sensibilties, seems rather uncontroversial, at least to me. A dog has a different sensibility, I think they see in black and white, and clearly, the sense of smell is very important to them, and they have somewhat different instincts, even though we can socialize with dogs, to some degree.

These points about dogs and Helen Keller, pretty obvious stuff, it seems to me. People can have quite a different experience of life, not a mind-blowing point. Or is it, you you? You've considered this? Would somebody with a different experience of life, be like a alien, to you? All this, is just, I'm looking for clarification, what are you asserting about aliens, when you say 'they will experience things that we do not, and etc.' Of course they will. Everybody experiences different things. How are you saying more than this? How is Kant? I don't think he is.

Neri wrote:Indeed, one species may well experience that a given thing happened, when the other, in the same circumstances, would experience that something entirely different has happened.


Ah, this is reassuring, apparently we're on the same track.

Neri wrote:Kant would say that this curious state of affairs is due to the fact that neither species experiences the world as it is in itself.


Fine.

Neri wrote:All of this raises another question:

What would be the result if the senses of animated creatures from another distant planet were so constituted as to represent objects as they are in themselves?



A point that I've already brought up, that I take Kant to have brought up. These would be the gods, with mental abilities that we do not possess.


Neri wrote:For the purpose of furthering the understanding of Kant, I would be interested in hearing answers from any member of this forum.


But now, apparently, we've lost the thread of you arguing against Kant? To answer your question, here is one quote that might be interesting:

Kant wrote:“In natural theology, in thinking an object [God], who not only can never be an object of intuition to us but cannot be an object of sensible intuition even to himself, we are careful to remove the conditions of time and space from his intuition–for all his knowledge must be intuition, and not thought, which always involves limitations”
Danlanglois
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 26th, 2012, 5:04 pm 

Positor wrote:A thread specifically about noumena would be interesting.


I've created a topic called: Kant's noumena?

viewtopic.php?f=51&t=22755
Danlanglois
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby owleye on August 26th, 2012, 6:43 pm 

Danlanglois wrote:I'm not interested in playing quien es macho Kant scholar--I'm perfectly willing to stipulate your credentials as a Kant scholar, esp. if it's the topic of your thesis in grad school, I'm simply pleased that you do find this interesting, great. It's not unusual to encounter posturing about who knows most, I once had a conversation with a college professor (my professor), where I asked him if he was familiar with Schopenhauer, and he replied 'I've read Schopenhauer *in German*.' Which, I didn't doubt his credentials, he had me at hello, I was paying for the privilege of being in that academic environment, but his comment, actually comments, like this, did raise doubts in my mind. I don't think the question here, is who is the smartest bear in the room, you're being quite wordy here, about the scholarly legitimacy of our discussion--does somebody, then, have to be, in the end, labeled an imposter? Not for my sake.


Well, I have no credentials and I'm not depending on any that I have. Call it posturing if you like, but it has been frustrating reading your responses to my concerns that you haven't done your homework, so to speak, as if you've read Kant and decided for yourself that he needs to be interpreted differently than what is commonly understood on the basis of something that should be obvious to all of us. Yes, it's the case that we believe space is real, but Kant already took that into consideration within his categories of the understanding, one of which is reality itself and how this is to be understood transcendentally. Space is empirically real, a reality that is built into how our mind constructs it. But space and time have no existence apart from our experience of it. This is such an extraordinary conclusion that Kant faced an avalanche of criticism of the kind you seem to be suggesting, following the publication of the first edition of his CPR and went to great pains to be clearer in the second publication (as well as in his Prolegomena). The idea that space and time exist apart from our experience of it seems to be obvious, but when we compare space and time with how we understand objects existing apart from our experience, it is not so obvious. The concept of space and time we associate with that experience of it is rather like a background. Objects move through space, over time, very mathematical. However, we don't actually see space or time itself. It's not something in the foreground.

Danlanglois wrote:I note how this is not Kantian terminology, precisely, to my ears. Though, the theory may seem plausible enough to you. Synthetically injected into our phenomenal experience. I'm not absolutely certain how to understand this, it sounds like one possible Kant interpretation among others. It sounds a bit preoccupied with empiricism. I'm not precisely disagreeing, just wondering if I can take this as straight Kant exegesis.


Well, yes, I'm choosing my own paraphrase, but you should at least appreciate what Kant means by synthesis. I've assumed you understood this as form of construction, which in this context is the construction of a phenomenal world.

Danlanglois wrote:Into our phenomenal experience. Do I take it, that our phenomenal experience has a formal and a material component. You're musing on space, as a formal component of our experience. I suppose that I get that, I do hesitate over new jargon like 'synthetically injected'--maybe I can get used to it, I'm just hesitant over what is at stake here? Would that be the only way to put it, when Kant didn't put it that way?


Choose your own words, by all means. The words I choose help me in my own understanding. If they grate on you, and you can find better ones, then I'm fine with that. The particular method of construction is not what is at stake here.

Danlanglois wrote:
owleye wrote:It's truth is a priori on that basis, according to Kant.


Would there be any point, to my red-flagging your use of the word truth, in this context? I'm at the point of thinking I need to choose my battles, but still, I choose this one. Can we have a moratorium on informal usages of the word truth? Kant is not simply a realist. Space is empirically real, it's an 'appearance'. These points have, at least, a different emphasis, that 'its truth is a priori'. Consider, as a thought experiment, that God might see things differently. As you are not God, though you may or may not be a theist, so you are not a dogmatic realist, in the same sense that an omniscient god has the alternative of being.


Ok. I'll concede this is not Kant's language. But for Kant, appearance itself is not what is real. He goes to some length to provide an argument showing Berkeley is wrong about this. Basically, appearances, are appearances of something, and it is that something that is subject to being real or not, depending on what our understanding determines. Basically Kant is telling Berkeley not to think of appearances in isolation. as ideas. With respect to my use of truth, Kant discusses what it means to correspond to reality at some length where space is treated as a precondition (a kind of canvas) for what the understanding places onto it, and unlike what's put onto it, there's nothing to correspond with space. However, Kant's philosophy is transcendental idealism, which, though equivalent in some sense to empirical reality, takes a different language to understand it. Moving between these ways of thinking of his philosophy is tricky and as someone who tries to do so, I find myself making poor use of non-Kantian language to describe it. If I were a scholar on Kant, I suspect I would find better Kantian language.

Danlanglois wrote:There is no apt Kant quote here, making this assertion? The representation of space respecting its use. Here is a Kant quote: '‘the original representation of space is an a priori intuition, not a concept.'


Indeed, intuitions and concepts play different roles in experience and derive from different faculties. The unity of apperception as well plays a role, that which consciousness provides. In any case, this distinction should tell you that space isn't something that is subject to the categories (concepts) in its application to experience but is instead something on which concepts supply the content (or materiality, as Kant would regard it) of experience. Following Aristotlean form and matter idea, space and time provide the form of matter in motion.

Danlanglois wrote:Objects in space refer to those objects in themselves. At this point, I lack patience, for your accusations that I haven't read Kant. Shall I continue, even? Objects in space refer to those objects in themselves? As they are? Apart from our experience of them? What does 'refer' mean, here? You are interpreting Kant, here. This is a stubborn refusal to take him on board, in my view. Objects are emperical objects. There is (spatial) experience of empirical objects. There are no objects in themselves. You're thinking of 'things in themselves'? I can just about bite my tongue here, until I see that your next sentence is 'This is the common understanding of Kant's position on the matter'.


Well, there is a distinction between appearance and reality in Kant. There is a material world apart from our experience of it. And to refer to this world, Kant does it in two ways, one by some sort of noumenality (objects in themselves) in contrast with our phenomenal representation of it, which I didn't wish to get into, and the other simply by indicating that reality forms part of our experience of phenomena, but is distinct from it. I'm using 'refer' in a modern sense (following Frege) in which words may have a reference to something, in this case, to something we take to be real, such as the moon. It is to be distinguished from how it affects its appearance, which presumably aligns itself with its sense (again following Frege's distinction).

I'll accept criticism that I used 'refer' as if it were a substitute for 'represent', and that Kant wouldn't have used this term, but I think you are nitpicking here. You've cited Kant, and that's good, but I see nothing in these quotes that are relevant to taking a different position on the ontological status of space that would trigger me to change what I believe is the common understanding of Kant here. Use your own language to tell me what Kant is saying that would give me reason to think Kant should be taken in ways other than what I believe is the common understanding, namely that Kant's space is merely a form of intuition and not something that really exists apart from our experience of it.

Danlanglois wrote:Look, if my interpretation of Kant is that far out of the mainstream, then I don't know, I guess I've got hold of something even more interesting than I had thought.


Could be.

Danlanglois wrote:There are not objects in themselves. Are we truly grappling, with Kant’s distinctive account of our cognition of space. You are making much less of this, than is there, I suspect, w/apologies. Why is Kant famous, why is he a big deal? Can you distinguish his view from, say, Locke's view? One of Locke’s philosophical claims to fame, of course, is his development of the distinction between primary and secondary qualities of objects. The issue involves a distinction between qualities of objects that actually belong to the object itself, and qualities of objects that we impose on them. In contrast with primary qualities, there are also secondary qualities that are spectator-dependent: we impose the attributes onto objects, and these include colors, sounds, and tastes.


Well, this gets into the subject of the noumena, generally rejected by his contemporaries and Kant himself softened it (in my view) in his later writings when he asked his readers to think of it as a different perspectives one in which the natural world acts upon us as if we were material objects -- i.e., causally determinative, the other being that we don't know anything about but is nevertheless what the phenomena is about. I didn't intend to get into this, but I might as well say a few words. His point in referring to perspectives is that consciousness supplies us with two standpoints (as he calls them), which have the effect of allowing us to form an understanding of two worlds, phenomenal and noumenal. The monad idea of Leibniz, in my view, is having an influence on Kant in that he is classifying the inner world of our experience as if it were the windowless monad of Leibniz and this is why he refers to objects associated with the noumena as objects in themselves, of which in referring others like us, we refer to them in their inner sense. He's referring to there being an inner and an outer existence, which in Kant provides space for moral laws as well as legitiimate faith, which is his larger project.

However, to reject that there is an in itself aspect to objects (say by suggesting there's nothing beyond the veil of appearances) is somewhat of a modern view respecting quantum particles, which are at the basis of all materiality that science investigates. And as well, it has a kinship with relativity theory, that depicts events, rather than objects, as the key to understanding the world. The whole idea of 'substance', long thought to be what makes reality substantial, seems to have disappeared altogether. It is difficult to think of an electron itself apart from the properties we deem it to have. But science is telling us that it doesn't appear to have any in itself existence. There's no there there. Indeed, this is the basis for Whitehead's process reality theory.

Despite this, in order to tackle this question one needs to have some position on consciousness. There's never really been any doubt that consciousness informs those who are endowed with it (we humans) that there's an important difference between we, insofar as we are conscious of ourselves, and the world as it exists apart from our being conscious of it. I'm not a dualist, so I have the problem of figuring out how such an inner and outer "perspective" works, physically. But I'm able to take advantage of something like this from the perspective of biology where it is reasonable to suggest that life is an emergent property, one in which separates out two distinct entities (both of which are physical), namely living organisms and their environment. I'm assuming that consciousness is also an emergent property, though it's a mystery how these two "worlds" is achieved. (BTW, despite that there's no there, there, in accordance with quantum theory I believe it reasonable that the physical world allows objects to exist, such as the moon and the sun, because their substantiality results from emergent properties (to include many of those in which physics, chemistry and biology deal with, as well as of other sciences).

Danlanglois wrote:If you like, tell me, do you take Kant's transcendental idealism to be a species of representative realism? How can they be distinguished?


Transcendental idealism is that theory which makes empirical reality possible. Empirical realism, viewed transcendentally, derives from its being representative of reality. That's my translation.

DanLanglois wrote:
Kant wrote:Our exposition therefore establishes the reality, that is, the objective validity, of space in respect of whatever can be presented to us outwardly as object,..We assert, then, the empirical reality of space, as regards all possible outer experience;..With the sole exception of space there is no subjective representation, referring to something outer, which could be entitled [at once] objective [and]
a priori..space is not a form of things inhering in themselves as their intrinsic property


I'm going to some trouble here, is that not just the quote? Kant was not a representationalist, then? I'm hitting that idea pretty hard? How invested in this were you?


Great Kant quote and typical of the way he makes his case. It's a difficult passage and I'd prefer it if a Kant scholar translated it for me, but without that, I take it as revealing that he is defending his insistence that space does not exist apart from our experience of it, and that our experience of it really isn't an objective experience, i.e., it isn't really an object of experience, but instead is the form that (our) experience supplies to us. It was passages like this that caused me to think of how our immune system would conjure up its experience. How would space be represented in that world? I daresay it wouldn't be of the Cartesian sort of three dimensions all orthogonal to each other.

In my use of 'representation' in isolation of what it represents, I'm taking it in the sense of how philosophers use the term qualia. Each representation from different sense organs yields different representations, yielding different qualitative experiences. In thinking about space we tend to think of it from the perspective of visual experience, but our other sense organs don't necessarily conform to that version of it, though when consciousness unifies these experiences (which doesn't include that which could be attributed to the immune system, though there is some leakage), we probably take the visual as prominent.

Kant, I think, is taking this facet of representation merely as a feature of our subjective experience, or experience in its subjective consideration. Anyway, this is how I translate Kant and how I understand his use of it respecting its relationship to reality.

Danlanglois wrote:Then, do you still find it possible to assert this:
owleye wrote:The objects in perception (as phenomenal objects) represent objects in themselves (as noumenal objects),..


You might want to assert this, but it's not Schopenhauer. What about Kant?


Well, my language was intended to conform to my understanding of his noumenal world, about which above I presented my understanding of it, but it is a controversial topic and one that wasn't taught in the classes I took on Kant, though were mentioned. But what else would the objects of experience in their appearance apply to if they weren't to the something taken to be real that the appearance is an appearance of. It may not be necessary to introduce another world, as Kant does, but however we refer to it, this is how Kant understands t and would defend his usage of 'representation' (in my view) to in be accord with it.

Danlanglois wrote:Noumenal objects, is not a term that Kant ever used, is it? Rhetorical question. You challenge my scholarship, google up then, it's all in the public domain. Take 30 seconds, where did Kant ever use the term noumenal objects. Perhaps I am being a bit persnickety. What I mean is, noumena are ‘intellectual’ beings not because they are *objects* of intellectual intuition (they cannot be such since human beings can only intuit objects on a sensory basis).


Well, I'm not going to get into a discussion of noumenal objects or that which phenomenal objects represent more than what I've said already, but it doesn't really matter, since I've conveyed enough in indicating that in pointing to the moon, we understand the moon we are referring to exists independently of my experiencing it and Kant adopted a language that caused him to struggle in how to portray this. Lots of philosophical progress has been made since then which have made the task easier, particularly the notion of reference, but Kant nevertheless was attempting to describe this very concept, intuitively expressed in the way I described it above. Even Frege, a Platonist, though he made significant progress, possibly from how the German language works on its speakers, can be faulted by making entities out of things that aren't, for example, concepts.

Danlanglois wrote:
Kant wrote:..when the understanding calls an object in a certain relationship a mere phenomenon, as well as this relationship, it also forms a representation of an object in itself’.


That is to say, the understanding involuntarily constructs a concept of a thing-in-itself, as that which is behind the appearance, whenever we experience an object. That is, it is an experience of an appearance. It is a phenomenal experience of an appearance. Kant sees, or if you like, I see it this way, that this concept of noumenon as a necessary bi-product of our understanding in relation to a phenomenal object. Put it this way, for Kant, as I understand it, noumena can never be objects because by their very nature they are inaccessible for the senses.


"...it is an experience of an appearance" is a bit misleading, though I think I understand what you are getting at. We may experience the appearance, say as an image, or as an object of experience, if we choose to do so, but in doing so we are experiencing it a manner that distinguishes it from what it is an experience of. It's like when we read a book we can experience the fonts and pagination and other aspects of its appearance, all descriptive in nature, of what we are reading, but we can also experience what appears before us by transcending that appearance when we attend to the story behind it so to speak. This is the kind of thing that Kant is getting at. Phenomenologists take this sort of thing as a launching pad to investigate all the various modes of consciousness.

Danlanglois wrote:
owleye wrote:The moon as a phenomenal object exists but in its representation, represents the moon as it exists in itself and as such exists apart from our experience of it. It is what is referenced when we point to the moon in the sky.


Are you familiar with this assertion: 'the concept of a noumenon is merely a limiting concept to curb the pretensions of sensibility, and it is therefore only of negative use'. What I take to be elaborated in great detail, is that the fact that the concept of noumenon can only be taken in a negative sense limits the application of the categories exclusively to objects of experience, thereby restricting the domain of that which can be known in the positive sense.


Yes, I'm familiar with it as it emphasizes his assertion that we can't know anything about the objects of experience in their 'in themselves' aspect. But again, the noumena itself, though it is the way Kant distinguished a world independent of the phenomenal world in his earlier writings, isn't vital to the issue in question. That I have a difficult time figuring out how to express it those terms ought not to get in the way of figuring out Kant's position on the ontology of space. Can Kant be interpreted as regarding space to be objectively real? I don't think so and I'm pretty sure it's denial is the common understanding of Kant's position.

Danlanglois wrote:I'm getting the impression that you are not a representationalist.


Well, we're getting along pretty well, at this point.[/quote]

Huh? Does this mean you have some other position in mind, for example, that you are a direct realist? OPr what appears to you is the only reality? And there is no reality apart from your experience of it?

Danlanglois wrote:quote="owleye"]My interpretation of Kant is that he was blocked into thinking that we can't know anything about the noumenal world, the world apart from our experience of it, and the reason was not just because it didn't fit with his overall project, but because he didn't have an understanding of the modern interpretation of 'information'.


Hmm. I don't think there is a noumenal world. Such debates about whether there is/isn't a noumenal world, are subject to devolving into terminological quibbles. It's a tricky point. Not believing in a noumenal world, will tend to sound like I don't endorse the scientific project, of increasing our objective knowledge, or some such. I don't see it that way, but I'll offer that it might sound that way.[/quote]

Once again, I'll not get into the issues surrounding the noumenal world of Kant, more than I've said already, but in my view, Kant was struggling with how it to portray what is experienced as reality apart from our experience of it, especially as he had nothing to go on besides what we experience phenomenally. He hasn't solved all problems, but he has paved the way for others to make progress.

Danlanglois wrote:
owleye wrote:His bottom line is sensation, which, as I see it, is something already formed after our brain synthesizes what our sense organs are stimulated by and process.


Kant's bottom line is sensation? I'm not sure what you are getting into, here. My bottom line is not sensation, I suppose that part of my real bottom line, in Kant interpretation, is that there are stages to 'constructing' experience, and different mental abilities involved. That's very general. On the specifics, I'm quite impressed with Kant himself.


Well, the context of my reading was in Kant's discussion of aesthetics, which I paraphrase and begins with while all knowledges originates from experience (marking him as an empiricist), not all knowledge derives to the experience itself. Something else is needed in order that experience is possible at all. In that discussion, he begins his elaboration from our being affected in some way by some world external to us and which somehow induces sensations in us. He elaborates in detail how this is organized within the context of the forms of intuition, within the faculty of imagination.

If you wish to argue that sensations are not where he begins in his discussion, respecting his construction, then I suppose we should stop the presses here and ask where you think Kant begins his construction. The point I was making, though, that he begins with something already within us, and not in how information about the world could be transmitted to us by way of media. Do you disagree with this and that Kant believed we could gain information about the world by way of information mediately conveyed from it, where it is presumed that the world itself (absent our experience of it) is capable of being known from that information gained. Yes, it's true that he used the terminology of "in-itself", but this is due, in my view, to a Leibnizean concept he probably held, one which he later softened. From my perspective, Kant has in mind some way of representing in concepts the idea of a reality independent of our perception of it and in his case one that which we can't know anything about, and the "in itself" aspect of it makes it easier for him to conclude this (it's like Leibniz's windowless property of monads), and makes more sense in that it at least allows a reality separate from our perception of it and that we aren't experiencing. The moon we perceive has a reality that we aren't perceiving in the image we perceive it by. And this is what I believe is at stake in the dispute about whether or not space and time is real and independent of our experience of it for Kant.

Danlanglois wrote:Summed up, my view is this: Mathematics is synthetic a priori judgment, very much as Kant asserted. Including nonEuclidean Geometry. Everybody who sticks their neck out with an opinion about philosophy of mathematics for the last 300 years, has distinguish his position from Kant's--Kant is always taken as the inadequate starting point. But the business about math being synthetic a priori judgment, he was dead right, I think. Again, there's much to be expounded, about what that means, especially the synthetic part. But he wins.


Is the sum up view merely your view on Kant or is it also your own view the matter? In any case, all the discussion of Kant on this topic relates to synthetic a priori knowledge, not synthetic a priori judgements, whatever they are. And I don't believe Kant's stance on mathematics being synthetically based has been dismissed outright. The thing that has been rejected is the a priori status of synthetically constructed knowledge of the world as Kant maintained of space and time. Such knowledge is now taken to be as Hume directed us, a posteriori. Consigning Kant's claims to the flames as Hume might have done had he been aware of them, was a bit premature as Kant's ideas were productive, but in the end, it had to be given up (unless one retains some separate sphere for consciousness) on realizing that our mind developed within the context of an evolutionary history. It also permits science to investigate space and time in accordance with its practices. Science doesn't have to start from the position of space and time that it has to be as Newton depicted them, nor any particular way our mind constructs them a priori. Of course, science wasn't really depending on Kant's position, nor with his transcendental deduction, which would provide all sorts of other things than science need not investigate, but that's kind of the nature of philosophy. We don't treat philosophers as truth purveyors. We look to them for insights.

This post took hours to construct and I notice there are posts inserted before I could submit it. I'm feeling rather exhausted and I respect that Positor has some interest in Kant as well, but I won't be able to get to it for a bit. I do have a life apart from this board.

James
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby DragonFly on August 26th, 2012, 7:06 pm 

Darn, the moon just appeared in my basement for a nanosecond, leaving a bunch of dust behind.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby owleye on August 27th, 2012, 12:24 am 

Positor wrote:What role, then, according to Kant, do stimuli play? Why did he think sense organs are necessary at all? What did he think was their function, if not to receive raw "information" about the world?


He didn't express it in that form. Indeed, sense organs are part of phenomenal experience. Phenomenal experience is all there is to know, for Kant. He can't go to a world apart from experience because there isn't anything he can refer to except in a negative sense. It is kind of a placeholder for the world represented to us as phenomena. It's like in the the movie "The Matrix" where the matrix provides us with some sort of representation of some world, one in which we can't know anything about except as it is represented to us. In the case of The Matrix there appears to be nothing that stimulates its formation. (Indeed, it's unclear to me how The Matrix is supposed to generate experience. But I suppose the writers didn't intend to dig deeply into the problem.)

To appreciate Kant's problem is to see that our phenomenal world is self-contained in the sense that we can't escape it and see it from a God's perspective, so to speak. We presumably can't rely on phenomena to explain the causal connection between the world apart from experience and the experience itself. When we do gain knowledge a posteriori, we aren't, according to Kant, gaining knowledge of the world itself apart from our experience of it. We gain knowledge a posteriori solely to know how we will experience it. He recognizes that we are somehow stimulated (my word -- his, I believe is 'affected') by a world apart from us and is the way a posteriori knowledge originates, and which makes him an empiricist, but our experience of that world is based on the forms of intuition and the categories of the understanding, not something we can't know anything about.

Positor wrote:See the sentences I have bolded above. They seem to be saying either (a) that Kant believed sensations are entirely arbitrary, or (b) that he believed they are a synthesis of stimuli which are themselves entirely arbitrary. But that cannot be right, since Kant was an empirical realist. In Kant's view, what provided the interface between our experience and the world?


No, sensations are not arbitrary, though in their representation, there is a qualitative (he would say subjective) aspect to it that could be thought of as arbitrary. In order to get at this, I'll have to separate out how the categories apply to sensations both in subjective experience and objective experience. In a subjective sense, the experience of the quality itself (say, of the color quality) is what is experienced rather than how it is attributed to the object having that color, i.e., empty of its application to the object (as a colored object). It is strictly a subjective experience, a sensation without it being a sensation of anything. In objective experience, however, we (our mind) attributes that quality (color) to the object to which it applies. And in doing so, it conforms to principles that are determined a posteriori, not a a priori, though there are a priori aspects to it. We learn that apples are red by experiencing them, though how red is experienced subjectively depends on the representation of red itself (its qualia) and I'm not aware that Kant says more on the subject other than recognizing that sensations themselves are subjective -- i.e., attributed to the subject.

Positor wrote:Why should evolutionary history be considered uniquely effective in confirming the existence of noumena? Why should it be any more effective in this respect than any other theory of life (e.g. creationism), or any cosmological theory?


I don't wish to get into a discussion of noumena. I'd rather put the entire discussion into a context in which objects of experience are objects that, if real, exist apart from our experience of them. And although our experience of such objects comes to us as representations of them, not of objects directly, we want to be able to say that science can acquire knowledge of those objects by way of theory first, then observations, (not quite like the biology text I was reading puts it where data gathering comes first and only then hypotheses, etc., however, this introduces a different philosophical topic) -- i.e., by way of a posteriori methods. However, though Kant paved the way for this sort of scientific knowledge acquisition, there were certain things he regarded as a priori, namely space and time, that if he were right about it, science would have to begin, as Newton did, with space and time as a given, and given as a three-dimensional space having Cartesian coordinates with time flowing along a one dimensional axis. Kant regarded Newton's laws as true of the world, as I believe most everyone else at the time did.

Ok. What happens with an evolutionary history of humans, one based on a biological rendering where living organisms in some sense develop the features they have on the basis of their success in a more or less hostile environment in which they came to exist, it means that (if we are materialists, respecting our mind) the human mind evolved by way of its evolutionary history. And this implies that science can investigate how the mind came to represent its environment in experiencing it. It becomes an a posteriori exercise, not something a priori at all. And in doing so, it also opens up the possibility of there being a space and time apart from our experience of it, though this too would have to be determined in accordance with scientific practices. Needless to say, there are issues related to this division between knowledge of (information about) a world independent of us and the world itself that has to include knowledge and information about it, where I find that quantum theory seems to be saying that they are essentially the same thing. In saying this, however, consciousness remains a mystery, so I think there is more to learn. As to other theories of life, those which differ in important ways from evolutionary theory, I couldn't say. Dualists have their own way of thinking about the universe, life and consciousness, but I have little interest in them and prefer my own problems not theirs.

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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 27th, 2012, 2:13 am 

I'll plug the thread that I've created, Kant's noumena?

viewtopic.php?f=51&t=22755

I'm on board for shutting down the direct discussion of Kant in this thread, I'll discipline myself on this, going forward, the topic here being, Quine's two dogmas of empiricism. I've posted some points for Owleye to that 'Kant's noumena?' thread.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 27th, 2012, 5:52 am 

About Quine's two dogmas, I remember reading it in college, like 20 years ago, though I only took one or two philosophy classes. It was assigned as a revolutionary article that is still debated today. I learned, that Quine's findings have big consequences for not only epistemology and metaphysics, but philosophy of mind and philosophy of science.

The "Two Dogmas" are:

That there is a principled distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions--there is a real way to distinguish between propositions that are analytic and propositions that are synthetic.

That reductionism is true--the *meaning* of a single proposition is its verification conditions.

In brief, I think that one can profitably focus on the first dogma, and in any case, one has to start somewhere. So. If Quine's theory is right, the analytic/synthetic *cannot* be a sustainable dichotomy. The origin of the distinction between analytic and synthetic, Quine traces back through Kant to Hume and Leibniz, but their accounts are taken to be imprecise.

Suppose that you argue, that statement S is analytic if and only if a denial of that statement results in a contradiction.

Quine's argument here is straightforward: what does this mean? Does this presuppose analyticity? He thinks it does, so he moves on to other problems with Kant's definition.

--It is restricted to statements of subject/predicate form (are all analytic truths of the form "X is P"?)

--Kant relies on a metaphorical notion of "conceptual containment" that is unexplained.

Lastly, Quine notes, Kant says that analytic propositions are "true in terms of meanings". Ah, well, what is meaning?

To resume, as I did post something on this previously here, I feel that Quine seems a bit off-track, if you forget that he's not directly addressing Kant. He's caught up in Logical Empiricism, he's influenced by Carnap, etc. The Kantian analytic/synthetic distinction, isn't really at issue. Kant's logical notions, aren't really held in any regard. The words analytic and synthetic, have drifted considerably, from their Kantian roots.

What's is Kant's 'analytic' judgment? I'd describe it this way, that you can define a notion of logical truth, that is intended, that is to say, intended formally, or syntactically, to express essential independence from all factual content. One can point out here, that for Kant, the only objects of knowledge are empirical objects (“appearances”). I view Kant's conception of analytic judgement, as the other side of the coin to this, as it were.

Let's get some practice with analytic judgement.

A father is a parent. That's an analytic judgement.

“Either Nixon was impeached or Nixon wasn't impeached.”

“No unmarried man is married.”

"A horse is a horse"

“No bachelor is married.”

Note how these examples are not very informative, and that their truth seems guaranteed in advance, as it were.

How, then, does Quine manage to find it so hard to identify analytic judgments? You have to take some baggage on board, to understand his difficulties. Suppose, that it is agreed by everyone, that all truth depends partly on the meaning of the statement to be evaluated and partly on the way the world is. Then, can we delimit a class of statements whose truth depends solely on meaning, and not on the way the world is? These, for Quine, are analytic statements. This, is where he has difficulty.

Quine urges you to abandon the notion of `true in virtue of meaning alone'. I accuse Quine of working with a reformulation of 'analyticity'. In my view, the history of Kant's notion of analytic judgments is full of distortion and misunderstanding. The modern notion of 'analyticity' is not compatible with Kant's. In Kantian terms, the modern concept is a mixture of analytic and synthetic elements. The modern notion of analyticity, has its roots, not so much in Kant's idea of 'analytic judgment', as in Kant's notion of synthetic judgment.

I'll illustrate, with this, from 'Two Dogmas of Empiricism': Quine complains that he does not know whether the statement 'everything green is extended' is analytic. There is a discussion here, of meanings, of linguistic expressions. Supposedly, these are the primary object of analytic deliberations. What would Kant say to this? Quine asks if 'everything green is extended' is analytic. Shall we then, try to find out if the green things we happen to know are necessarily extended? Shall we, look after the real essence of things?

No.

That would not be 'analytic judgment'. Analytic judgment, is to look 'what we think when we hear a (certain) word'. Search for 'the first inner foundation of everything contained in the concept.' The logical essence of a concept, is not the real essence of a thing. Which is to say, for Kant, it isn't. For Kant, real essences are a question of synthesis. Logical essence, as described in analytic judgments, is made up by the analysis of a concept, and consists only of characters that are always 'thought together with' the concept. 'Necessary' characters, what is implicitly contained, in the concept. The set of its coordinated characters, the set of those concepts we always connect with it in our use of the respective terms.

I noted Quine's complain, that Kant relies on a metaphorical notion of "conceptual containment" that is unexplained. Quine's problem here, is that he wants much more than logical essence, he wants the real essence of a thing, what the thing 'in reality' is. It's a clearcut case of what Kant called 'bad metaphysics'. But if you sympathise with Quine on this point, then yes, our knowledge of real essence, is of course, constantly extended by (empirical) synthetic propositions.

Attraction of bodies, belongs to the real essence of corporal things, right? Is attraction of bodies part of the logical essence, then, of the concept of a body?

We think in a way, that gives us certain characters in combination. Does this mean that we know the real essences of things, by analytic judgement? No.

What is the point of the distinction between real and logical essence? I don't know, I don't understand, let's constantly blur this distinction, shall we? This seems like a perfectly safe move, because the 'logical essence' is not real, in a metaphysical sense.

It has to do with the organisation and structure of our thought.

But always, (and note how I've been informed that Kant ever said 'apodicity', Kant did in fact ever discuss necessity, these 'metaphysical' notions! But not for Kant), analytic judgment (first order of business, don't even call it that, call it analyticity, it's easier to get confused that way), is taken to imply something like innate ideas, ideal entities, with necessary properties and attributes. It would be strange if such a kind of essentialism, could be attributed to Kant, with his anti-metaphysical program.

But, Kant does say, that analytic judgments (don't call them that) are necessarily true! Are a priori true!

And therefore apodeictic!

Yes. But, how can the relation be detected? By conceptual analysis. That is logical apriority.

That, is the basis of analytic a priori judgments.

Kant wrote:If we have a proposition 'which in being thought is *thought as necessary*, it is an a priori judgment'


Necessity is a criterion of a priori knowledge.

What does necessity consist in?

To be necessary, means to belong to the logical essence, of a concept.

If something is part of the logical essence, of a concept, it can not be negated without contradiction.

Now, remember this?--Suppose that you argue, that statement S is analytic if and only if a denial of that statement results in a contradiction.

I offered Quine's argument here as being straightforward: what does this mean? Does this presuppose analyticity? He thinks it does, so he moves on to other problems with Kant's definition.

To which I say, the formal definition which Kant gives, of necessity, is that necessary is that of which the contrary is impossible. And, it is the formal notion of necessity, that makes analytic statements always necessarily true. That is, they are by definition true, in virtue of the law of contradiction. Formal necessity and analytic judgment coincide. And this is not, what Kant calls 'real' necessity. It is logical necessity. Formal necessity. It is not a question of reality, it is not a question of metaphysics.

Logical necessity is not grounded in the reality of things.

Note how Quinean it sounds, if you've read much Quine, to say something about some objects having some properties essentially, and others accidentally.

Put it this way, to sum up. Do you want to understand apriority? Do you want to understand necessity? Do you want to understand analytic judgment?

Understand this.

The law of contradiction.

I would like to suppose Quine capable, of giving a detailed description, of what it means to be true in virtue of the law of contradiction.

I would like to think, that Quine, of all people, is capable of describing the logical essence of a concept. Perhaps he can improve on Kant's description of it, as 'what I think when speaking certain words and connecting them with certain concepts'.

That's analytic judgement.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Neri on August 27th, 2012, 4:21 pm 

Danlanglois,


If you agree that Kant would have answered my question as I said he would do, one wonders why you would not have said so earlier. However, I believe we are making some progress.


If you agree with my answer, you should understand that, according to Kant, such things as “the sun rising in the morning,” “drop[ping] a nuclear bomb on their heads,” and “blowing up” are all phenomena, which--because they are merely objects of sense and not objects in themselves—are ultimately dictated by pure intuitions and, as a consequence, do not belong to the world as it really is.


According to Kant--because the world of phenomena is only the world of appearances, humans and the other animated creatures would not “live in the same world” in the sense that both the phenomenal world we experience and that which is experienced by them would not be the same. In other words, all things to them would appear differently from the way they appear to us. This describes Kant’s anti-realism—a point which, I am sorry to say, still eludes you.


It would only be the case that both species “live in the same world” if the character of their pure intuitions were the same or if the senses of both were so constituted as to reveal the world as it is in itself.


Because my question presumes that the character of the pure intuitions of humans and that of the other animated creatures differ radically, their respective understandings of mathematics and science would likewise differ. In other words, the mathematics and science of the other creatures would apply only to their phenomenal world and not to ours—and conversely.


This is the meaning of Kant’s statements: 1) “We only cognize in things a priori that which we ourselves place in them.” and (2) “Objects must conform to our cognition.” Supra.


Kant makes it clear that these same principles apply to science:


“All synthetic principles a priori are nothing more than principles of possible experience and can never be referred to things in themselves, but to appearances as objects of experience. And hence pure mathematics as well as a pure science of nature can never be referred to anything more than mere appearances, and can only represent either that which makes appearance in general possible, or else that which, as it is derived from these principles, must always be capable of being represented in some possible experience.”

Prolegomena, ibid., p. 60.


None of this says that a blind, deaf mute such as Helen Keller, must have had different pure intuitions from the rest of humanity. The same pure intuitions were built into her cognition regardless of her sensory deficits, because she was human. That is, she had the same pure intuitions of time and space as the rest of us. As Kant put it:


“We know nothing more than our own of perceiving them, which is peculiar to us, and which, though not of necessity pertaining to every animated being, is so to the whole human race.” (supra)

[I think we may all agree that a dog is not a member of the human race.]


Again, my explanation is of Kant’s views, not mine. Therefore, this explication is not to be taken as an argument in support of Kantianism.


Regarding the second question I presented, the following language of Kant should be informative:


“It would be quite otherwise if the senses were so constituted as to represent objects as they are in themselves. For then it would not by any means follow from the representation of space, with all it properties, serves to the geometer as an a priori foundation, that this foundation and everything which is thence inferred must be so in nature. The space of the geometer would be considered a mere fiction, and it would not be credited with objective validity...” Prolegomena, ibid., pp. 34,35


Thus, if there were a species of animated creatures that experienced objects as they are in themselves, such creatures would know that objective reality does not contain such a thing as space.


According to Kant, motion and change are phenomena (in the sense of appearances) derived from the pure intuitions of time and space. That is, motion and change are discursive and not a priori but rather depend upon time and space to be experienced. As he put it:


“Motion, for example, presupposes the perception of something movable. But space considered in itself contains nothing movable, consequently motion must be something which is found in space only through experience—in other words, is an empirical datum. In like manner, Transcendental Aesthetic cannot number the conception of change among its data a priori; for time itself does not change, but only something in time. To acquire the conception of change, therefore the perception of some existing object and of the succession of its determinations, in one word, experience, is necessary.” Critique, ibid., p.13.


As this concerns the animated creatures presently under consideration-- because they are able to sense the world as it is in itself, they would not only regard time and space as mere fictions but motion and change as well; for they would occupy the “really real” world—a world without time and space where nothing ever moves or changes, indeed, a world where absolutely nothing ever happens.


The above necessarily follows from what Kant is saying. I do not personally believe it, but we are here discussing Kant’s philosophy, not mine.


If you are interested in my views, they are contained in several hundred posts which you may access under my name in this forum. It is not possible to explain them all in a single post. However, if you now have a clearer understanding of Kant’s anti-realism, I invite you to reread the post in the instant topic containing my critique of Kantianism--with a view to comprehending it, instead of dismissing it out of hand. There, I chose to paraphrase Kant in the interests of clarity and concision. My general views may be described as Process Realism.
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Re: Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism

Postby Danlanglois on August 27th, 2012, 6:43 pm 

Neri wrote:This is the meaning of Kant’s statements: 1) “We only cognize in things a priori that which we ourselves place in them.” and (2) “Objects must conform to our cognition.” Supra.


I'll suggest meditating on those statements some more, if you want to extract every last drop from them. But I agree with these statements.


Neri wrote:Kant makes it clear that these same principles apply to science:


“All synthetic principles a priori are nothing more than principles of possible experience and can never be referred to things in themselves, but to appearances as objects of experience. And hence pure mathematics as well as a pure science of nature can never be referred to anything more than mere appearances, and can only represent either that which makes appearance in general possible, or else that which, as it is derived from these principles, must always be capable of being represented in some possible experience.”

Prolegomena, ibid., p. 60.


ok


Neri wrote:None of this says that a blind, deaf mute such as Helen Keller, must have had different pure intuitions from the rest of humanity. The same pure intuitions were built into her cognition regardless of her sensory deficits, because she was human. That is, she had the same pure intuitions of time and space as the rest of us.


I can't use an analogy? I think it's interesting, to muse on what were Helen Keller's intuitions. Did she not, in some sense, live in a different world? Don't we all?

Neri wrote:As Kant put it:


“We know nothing more than our own of perceiving them, which is peculiar to us, and which, though not of necessity pertaining to every animated being, is so to the whole human race.” (supra)

[I think we may all agree that a dog is not a member of the human race.]


Are you trying to hurt their feelings? Alternatively, one might put it this way, we are not members of the canine race. I think we may all agree about everything, here, what are you trying to say?


Neri wrote:Again, my explanation is of Kant’s views, not mine.


Swell, why are we explaining Kant's views? Are they interesting to you? Me too.


Neri wrote:Therefore, this explication is not to be taken as an argument in support of Kantianism.


Swell, why are we explaining Kant's views?


Neri wrote:Regarding the second question I presented, the following language of Kant should be informative:


“It would be quite otherwise if the senses were so constituted as to represent objects as they are in themselves. For then it would not by any means follow from the representation of space, with all it properties, serves to the geometer as an a priori foundation, that this foundation and everything which is thence inferred must be so in nature. The space of the geometer would be considered a mere fiction, and it would not be credited with objective validity...” Prolegomena, ibid., pp. 34,35


ok, though I haven't kept count of the questions you presented? Kant is holding forth here, about math, that it is synthetic a priori judgement of appearances. The form is necessary, and is provided a priori, by intuition. & etc. All that jazz. I agree with all of this, and take myself to be trying to convince anybody else of all of this.


Neri wrote:Thus, if there were a species of animated creatures that experienced objects as they are in themselves, such creatures would know that objective reality does not contain such a thing as space.


Yes. Well, I don't want to nitpick. There are no 'objects' in themselves. I think 'objective reality' is a bit dangerous, here, as jargon. 'Reality' is not objective, like, stop being so subjective, reality! Sober up, reality! But of course the phrase is in use, 'objective reality'. As in, nobody in particular's reality. Reality as a kind of ideal, that we reach for knowledge of, in science, this kind of thing? We try to be objective? I don't love this idea of 'experiencing' objects'. One perceives objects. There are concepts in play, in the perception of objects. As I say I don't want to nitpick. Suppose, that if there were a species of animated creatures that had totally alien intuitions, then they would not, for example, be likely to have anything like our concept of 'matter'. You mean, this kind of thing? I can agree with this. It's kind of contorted, talking about reality 'containing' space, seeing as how it is space, that contains things. Right? Heh. I think we can limber things up a little, our manner of speaking can get a little more perspicuous. Kant has a phrase, 'intellectual intuition'. He says that we humans haven't got any. Omniscient gods can be pictured as having intellectual intuition. Their knowledge transcends 'thinking', and the limitations thereof. If you could transcend 'thinking', and the limitations therof, then I picture this as transcending time and space.




Neri wrote:According to Kant, motion and change are phenomena (in the sense of appearances) derived from the pure intuitions of time and space. That is, motion and change are discursive and not a priori but rather depend upon time and space to be experienced.


'discursive and not a priori'. Our intellect, is discursive. That is, our knowledge of objects involves the application of concepts to the intuitive "given". As he put it, 'the knowledge yielded by understanding, or at least by the human understanding, must...be by means of concepts, and so is not intuitive, but discursive.'

I think you want to say something about motion and change. 'Are discursive'? Well, our intellect, is discursive. But, you have a point to make about motion and change.


Neri wrote:As he put it:


“Motion, for example, presupposes the perception of something movable. But space considered in itself contains nothing movable, consequently motion must be something which is found in space only through experience—in other words, is an empirical datum. In like manner, Transcendental Aesthetic cannot number the conception of change among its data a priori; for time itself does not change, but only something in time. To acquire the conception of change, therefore the perception of some existing object and of the succession of its determinations, in one word, experience, is necessary.” Critique, ibid., p.13.


ok

Neri wrote:As this concerns the animated creatures presently under consideration-- because they are able to sense the world as it is in itself

Do you precisely want to say 'sense', here, 'sense' the world as it is in itself? Above, I introduced the Kantian notion of 'intellectual intuition', which would be required to 'intuit' things in themselves.
When you talk about 'sensing', you probably want to be meaning 'sensible intuition', which would sense appearances, not things in themselves.

Neri wrote:.., they would not only regard time and space as mere fictions..


I regard time and space as mere fictions, in a way.

Neri wrote:..but motion and change as well; for they would occupy the “really real” world—a world without time and space where nothing ever moves or changes, indeed, a world where absolutely nothing ever happens.


I think you're trying to picture what 'intellectual intuition' would be like. It wouldn't be like sensible intuition, I agree.


Neri wrote:The above necessarily follows from what Kant is saying. I do not personally believe it, but we are here discussing Kant’s philosophy, not mine. If you are interested in my views, they are contained in several hundred posts which you may access under my name in this forum. It is not possible to explain them all in a single post...if you now have a clearer understanding of Kant’s anti-realism, I invite you to reread the post in the instant topic containing my critique of Kantianism--with a view to comprehending it, instead of dismissing it out of hand.


This is my hand.

Just kidding, I couldn't resist.



Neri wrote:My general views may be described as Process Realism.


Sounds like Whitehead, I'm not sure who mentioned Whitehead? To be a bit more naive, it sounds like a judicial philosophy. Like, perhaps, that there is no transcendental, impersonal law to be discovered or declared. Scanning your posts a bit, I find this topic:http://www.sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=4464&start=240

'What is reality? Perception or absolute truth?'

You've posted here, that: 'The point of my earlier comments was to refute the manifestly illogical suggestion that because a religious belief may have beneficial effects it is thereby rendered true. A belief in Santa Claus was given as a simple demonstration of the falsity of such a proposition...'

I see that Transcendental Idealism is in good company, you've also refuted Pragmatism.


There is more:

Neri wrote:All of these questions resolve themselves into two more basic ones:

1) Does truth have value independent of any judgment of it usefulness?

2) Are adults entitled to know the truth, or is truth only the province of the select few who think they know what is best for the many?

I would submit that only a scoundrel or a fraud would answer these last questions in the negative. When we grow up, we must put away the things of children and have the courage to accept the world as it really is. We must seek the truth and settle for nothing less, even though it may shatter our most cherished beliefs; for the desire for truth is at the core of what we are.



I think that I might answer that question about truth having any value independent of any judgment of its usefulness, in the negative, myself. Not sure whether that makes me a scoundrel, or a fraud, but at least we've narrowed it down. Could it be both? And are adults entitled to know the truth, or is truth only the province of the select few who think they know what is best for the many? What is answer c? Surely there are truths that are only the province of the select few. That there is a select few, for example. I can vouch to that.

In any case, you know, this stuff about 'when we grow up', it (I assume inadvertently, given the context) sounds rather Pauline: 'When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.'
Danlanglois
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