Aristotle’s Good in the Nicomachean Ethics

30 Nov

What do you think the good is? There have been infinite conceptions about what this is, but Aristotle’s definition fits them all and does well to replace them.

The good to ancient Greek philosophers is something argued over countless times. Plato did it as did Aristotle. In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, specifically in Book 1 of it, he sets aside other common and popular definitions of the good and comes up with what I think is a better answer than the rest. Aristotle discusses action, and comes to a conclusion as to what the good is through it. Action being existent because a need is there ends when a purpose is achieved, and the end of this action is what Aristotle claims to be the good. This argument is interesting and groundbreaking because setting and achieving a goal in life is an exact example of Aristotle’s good.

Before going into Aristotle’s actual opinion of what the good is, he turns to common misconceptions and sets those aside as he does in most of his work. First, he states that people who live lives of gratification view the good as ‘happiness as pleasure.’ He takes a dim view of this stance by calling this definition of the good ‘slavish’ in the sense that those who take that view are slaves to the goal ‘happiness in pleasure.’ He also explains the view of the politician (the cultivated people) who strives to be the best politicians. Aristotle states that good to politicians is honor. This is wrong also, but this takes him to his view of the good because of how honor is the end politicians try to achieve. Taking into consideration these other views of the good, he starts again in understanding what the good is.

As Aristotle has stated that things have telos in much of his philosophy, it plays into what the good is for him. The word telos is not specifically used but his examples saying the end to medicine is health, the skill of house building a house being produced, and general-ship one or more victories show his referral to telos when understanding the good.  “And so, if there is some end of everything that is pursued in action, this will be the good pursued in action…” Aristotle’s definition of good is the end of action. If an action is undertaken, that action tries to achieve the action’s purpose. The good, then, is the achievement of the purpose of the action. Medicine is given to a sick person (being an action), and the good would be the medicine fulfilling its purpose (the person going from sickness to health). The good being defined as the end to any

purposeful action is a definition that can easily be seen in any action.

I find Aristotle’s understanding of the good to be better (in my opinion) than any definition Plato gave. This is important to know because this definition is evident in any action. For example, people eat to not be hungry, people go to school to become smarter, or any other example would fit Aristotle’s definition. Because of the versatility of Aristotle’s understanding of the good, his argument is valid and strong. When reading Plato, one might encounter disputes about the good because it may differ between people, along with other disputes, but Aristotle’s understanding of it makes all of those disputes no longer disputes at all because it solves the whole argument.

Reading most Plato, I think one gets more confused as to what the good is, but in Aristotle those difficulties are cleared with one simple statement. My understanding of the good is all based on Aristotle’s argument in the Nicomachean Ethics. This is mostly because each possible part of the good (including virtue, justice, honor and other qualities) all fit the pattern where an end to a purposeful action is the real definition of the good.

Can you now see how this can be applied to any understanding of the good whether it be pleasure, personal happiness, morality, or anything else?

The end to sex is pleasure, the end to theatre plays is happiness of a sort, the end of construction is a house………………………….. I could go on exemplifying conceptions of the good and make them conform to Aristotle’s definition.

Thanks again for the support.

Self Deception as a Good Thing?

30 Nov

Sorry for my lack of activity on this website. I have just had a Thanksgiving break, and now have 3 weeks of the semester left and school is getting more and more stressful, so the writing may be sparse from here on out.

In an ethics class the other day, the issue of self deception came up and made we want to talk more about it. Self deception is something that is looked at psychologically and epistemologically. This is an issue that defies logic and reason. When one comes upon a situation and that person deceives him/herself, the deception involved may defy logic and reason. This utter temporary rejection of reason and logic makes me want to think about it more. When I talk about it here I am thinking mostly about the dire situations people have in life only.

If you want to look into it beyond my ramblings about it you can go to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article about it here:

Also, there is a 20 question questionnaire to find out if you deceive yourself. I could not find the entire questionnaire, but a blog contains a few of them and discusses them. I found this blog helpful in understanding self deception:           

Self deception is something that a mind does when one wants to believe something that they know is not true. Thinking of it in an example, have you ever had any hatred for either of your parents? If you say no, you are deceiving yourself. I would think there is an issue deeper below your answer of no. There are many other questions like this where if you answer no you are/have been deceiving yourself (another one, to any attractive girl do you think of them as hot/sexy/very attractive?). My thoughts on this entire matter is that people deceive themselves because they want to believe something as truth (I’m sure most see it as this in one way or another).

Go to this link to see a key example of self deception: This is a South Park episode where Jimmy comes up with the joke “Do you like fishsticks? Yes. Do you like to put fishsticks in your mouth? Yes. What are you a gay fish?”. Cartman just happened to be present when Jimmy comes up with the joke. Cartman ends up rationalizing with self deception (as he does with everything else) that he himself came up with the joke and Jimmy had little part in it, when really Jimmy came up with the whole thing. Just watch the episode, not only will you see some examples of self deception but you will get a great laugh. Many South Park episodes involve Cartman who do these ‘mental gymnastics’ as Kyle puts it.

Self deception can go one of two ways. It can go the way where one goes about believing something untrue that they just want to believe (Cartman believing he came up with the fishsticks joke to get all the fame and to be awesome), or it can go the way that one believes something they would never really want to be true ( a man believing his wife cheats on him because of mere suppositions with little evidence of her doing this). I think also that self deception can be done subconsciously or intentionally.

First I think we should look at the truth when viewing one’s own life. Life itself is a hard thing to take, and truths of it are hard to maintain. Because of this it is my thought that self deception can be a good thing rather than bad. It can be a bad thing most of the time (especially the other way self deception goes, or twisted self deception), because logic and reason are set aside in self deception. It can be immediately understood, and it as well should be, that self deception is a bad thing because the truth should be always what is sought after. For the most part truth is what we all try to find. When looking at other things besides aspects of science, history, philosophy and other disciplines, such as one’s life and the problems it has, truth might not be the best thing for a person.

Truth of one’s life is a hard thing to keep depending on the situation. Keeping one’s sanity may be at stake when looking at the truth. The truth is painful and can often do more harm than good in certain specific situations. It is because of this that I think that regular and regulated (rather I have no idea how) self deception is not a bad thing.

Self deception pushing the truth away I think should only be temporary. One’s truth needs to be confronted and accepted at some point because in the end I think truth is the most important thing one keeps, even if it is held off for short or long periods of time.

I keep talking about one pushing the truth away, and that one should confront and accept the truth at a certain point. This is more difficult than immediately said.  I have heard this in more places than in just my thoughts. To even be thinking about self deception of oneself, that person must ask him/herself “Have I been deceiving myself? and if so where?” If this is answered by the person honestly, one’s self deceptions can be unpacked and evaluated for the real truth about one’s life to come out.

I have done this once all of problems and issues in life have receded, and it is really a good thing to view the truths one has denied.

This was just a simple bunch of thoughts I had on the subject of self deception, and my apologies if it was too random and mis concentrated.

I like to think of self deception (not the twisted self deception) as white lies we tell ourselves for the good of ours and others’ lives.

If you feel differently please say so on Twitter, email, or comment below.

Thanks for the support.

Charles Iroegbu’s Neo Classification of Beings

18 Nov

I feel like I should make aware to my readers the communication I have had with Charles Iroegbu. Charles contacted me after reading my Classification of Beings writing that I posted here awhile back. He wrote an article on the same subject of his own. He asked me to look at it and I did. He also wanted me to put it on Google Docs for him, and I did so as well. The document can be found on Google at this link:

I want to discuss my feelings about it, but do not continue reading until you have taken a look at the link where Charles’  article is. He goes to the University of Nigeria by the way.

Charles classified beings closely similar to the way I did. He distinguished a God being, a Death being, a Human being, an animo-plant being, and a lifeless being. He calls things differently than I do, but his view metaphysically parallels mine. The God being is of course the unmoved mover and the God that I constantly refer to. The death being is the spirits that have left the human being state. The human being is obviously the state of life that we as humans are all in where our bodies are not separated from our souls. The animo-plant being is what I would describe as the beings with non-nous souls. The lifeless being is the beings that of course have no life such as the desk my computer sits on.

What I really like about Charles’ understanding of the classification of the world metaphysically, is that he goes against Aristotelian thought that the body is too personalized to be separated from the soul.  Near death experiences that some have had where they experience the leaving of their body towards a somewhat spiritual world would not be explainable if the body were together forever with the soul.

Charles discusses being really only in terms of ontological existence. When I wrote my classification of beings, I classified things in three ways, by  location in the cosmos, matter making up the being, and spirit. Charles mostly discusses beings based on their spiritual status. The God being is an all powerful omnipotent spirit. The Death being is spirit after physical life after death. The human being is spirit before death. The animo-plant being is spirit without intelligence. The lifeless being is what confused me as to his mode of classification.  The lifeless being is of no spirit at all, so I am understanding that Charles is classifying things based on their mere ontological status.

I should not have a problem here really because it is my opinion that whatever is experienced or observed is ontologically existent at one time or another. Maybe my classification of beings was more complex than necessary because of how I broke things up into three modes of classification. Charles simplifies things because of how he reduces classification down to level of ontological existence.

And they are all real at one time or another because they whatever is seen is actualized existence. The metaphysical classification of being by Charles is basically a reduction of metaphysics to a level of ontology.

Thanks for the support, and thanks to Charles Iroegbu for contacting me.

Reductionism of Logical Positivism and Quine’s Rejection

16 Nov

The two dogmas of empiricism are rooted in the verification theory of meaning and meaning itself. Analyticity I have previously discussed, but here I want to discuss the other dogma of reductionism. Quine ultimately rejects meaning and rejects both dogmas. Reductionism, specifically radical reductionism, is the belief that “every meaningful statement is held to be translatable into a statement (true or false) about immediate experience” (Quine). Reductionism is generally the belief that statements of one kind are translatable into statements of other kinds. It is often thought in reductionism that one translation is confirmed or accepted as true (or later as the best). Quine rejects this dogma again by rejecting meaning. The verification theory of meaning of logical positivism is rejected because of the rejection of meaning. If the verification theory of meaning is rejected reductionism is rejected because one translation cannot be reduced down. Meaningful statements being able to be reduced down into statements about immediate experience cannot really be true because of the lack of ability to understand meaning.  Reductionism is simply is the translation between linguistic frameworks possibly from meaningful statement to statements about immediate experience. Reductionism carries the need to confirm a translation by verification of meaning. Quine rejects this: “My present suggestion is that it is nonsense, and the root of much nonsense, to speak of a linguistic component and a factual component  in the truth of any individual statement” (Quine). To ultimately simplify, reductionism is rejected by Quine because of his rejection of meaning (just like analyticity is rejected).

The main thing I want to do here is keep talking about Quine’s discussion of meaning and reductionism, and talk about philosophers partaking in reductionism in the early to mid 20th century. I think I am understanding reductionism and Quine’s rejection, but if I miss something please let me know.

Above is Bertrand Russell. In 1914 he published Our Knowledge of the External World which had Hard and Soft Data in it. Hard and Soft Data presented logic and sense data as the two hardest hard data as he presented soft and hard data based on logically and psychologically derivative and primitive. In this essay he presented sense data (as Moore and Royce did before him). While having his logic and sense data, he claimed that a process of reconstruction would be taking place from here on out. This reconstruction was the reconstruction of the language of physical objects into language of sense data. Physical objects are complicated when seen and to philosophically and epistemologically understand physical objects better, this reconstruction was presented by Russell. This is a form of reductionism because physical objects language has meaning, while sense datum language is based on immediate experience. I have exemplified these languages before, but physical object language would be exemplified by saying “I am seeing a red marker before me” and sense datum language would be exemplified by saying ” I see an elongated cylindrical red patch, with some black patches inside.”  This is a very early form of this reductionism Quine rejects.

Another philosopher and scientist taking up a reductionism is, above, Rudolf Carnap. In Der Logische Aufbau der Welt , Elimination of Metaphysics through Logical Analysis, and Empiricism Semantics and Ontology, Carnap’s quest for reductionism while granting the analytic is shown.  In the Aufbau and even the Elimination of Metaphysics Carnap has a desire to uphold a stricter set of linguistic frameworks where the correct framework is searched for. Looking for a correct framework is not upheld in his 1950 Empiricism Semantics and Ontology. The previous linguistic frameworks of the 1928 Aufbau are presented in the verification conditions including meaning. This is the build up from observation statements and protocol statements to thing language and physics language while accepting a geometry and a physics. Carnap’s reductionism is accepted in mainstream logical positivism at the time.  From that point Otto Neurath comes along and revises the protocol statements of Carnap’s verification conditions and the buildup of confirmation. Moritz Schlick later accepts his own reductionism.

In Empiricism Semantics and Ontology, logical positivism has sort of gone down from its peak, while Carnap and A.J. Ayer are both still trying to keep old positivist techniques. In this essay Carnap really softens his die hard reductionism, yet he still maintains a reductionism.  He states that a plethora of linguistic frameworks are to be accepted while not accepting a metaphysical doctrine at the same time. He maintains that a tolerance of linguistic frameworks is to be had while being cautious and evaluative of the frameworks presented. Unlike in the Elimination of Metaphysics and the Aufbau, in Empiricism Semantics and Ontology Carnap states that the framework that works best is the one to be accepted instead of the framework that is correct. This is still a ‘subtle’ reductionism.

Above is Moritz Schlick. He was the leader of the Vienna Circle and an influence in logical positivism. Taking into understanding Carnap (Empiricism Semantics and Ontology had not happened yet note) and Neurath and their influences on the verification theory of meaning, he had his own idea of it in his Foundation of Knowledge. He advocated a similar reductionism to Carnap and Neurath by keeping observation statements at the bottom of the whole thing, which become protocol statements (partly statements about sense data), which can be translated into thing language statements, physics language statements, and theoretical language statements. That statement can have a prediction made from it, and may or may not be confirmed. All of this grounded to the side in experience. This shows the reductionism because of how all of it is able to be reduced to statements about immediate experience.


A.J. Ayer is another philosopher advocating reductionism specifically because he advocates ‘cash value’ translations between sense datum language and physical object language. He does so in Phenomenalism and his expanded theory of perception.

I did not mention Neurath because all he spoke to was Carnap’s supposedly wrong understanding of the protocol statements.

Statements being able to be reduced down, or translated between each other is implying that most statements have meaning. This is what Quine uses to reject reductionism. The verification of meaning is involved here because it is implied that most statements have meaning and can be verified that way. After contemplating meaning more, I am thinking that we all grant meaning quickly, but I really do not think there is meaning. These languages each have their own set of rules of logic because rules of logic can be proven wrong and verified from one statement to the next. Because of this variation of logical rules I think that meaning is granted, yet no real justification for it is presented.

I think I have come to a general opinion about Quine’s rejection of the two dogmas.

I think I understood everything, and talked about everything correctly, but if I did not please tell me so I do not look foolish. Thanks again for the support.

Analyticity and Quine’s Rejection of the Dogma

16 Nov

I have succumbed somewhat to the understanding that there really is no meaning in anything. I used to think everything had meaning, but after studying W.V. Quine, I understand better why meaning cannot really exist.  If one reads and understands Quine’s On What There Is and Two Dogmas of Empiricism that one person must come up with some big evidence to actually prove that one truth statement can mean another or do any other function that meaning has said to have. This comes from Quine because of the two dogmas: 1) analyticity, and 2) reductionism. My concern here is analyticity and to help myself and the reader of this writing to understand why analyticity can be shown false and can also show ‘meaning’ to be a false hope.

If you have read Kant or other philosophers analytic statements are easy to understand. I understand them as things I can come to understand without having to go through a logical process of factual evaluation. If I hold a red pen up, I can see it and know “this is a red pen” without any logical process of fact evaluation. I know it like the snap of two fingers. Synthetic is just the opposite where factual and logical processes of evaluation must be executed to understand it. Quine defines the analytic in a somewhat different fashion which I can fathom clearly:

“Kant conceived of an analytic statement as one that attributes to its subject no more than is already conceptually contained in the subject. This formulation has two shortcomings: it limits itself to statements to subject-predicate form, and it appeals to a notion of containment which is left at a metaphorical level. But Kant’s intent, evident more from the use he makes of the notion of analyticity than from his definition of it, can be restated thus: a statement is analytic when it is true by virtue of meanings and independently of fact” (Quine).

So ultimately what I want you to get from that quote is that the analytic is statements that are true ‘by virtue of meaning’ and ‘independently of fact.’ Most important is that analytic statements are said to be true by virtue of their meanings. This has so much importance because Quine attacks the use of the word meaning because it is loosely and not well understood or defined.  In Two Dogmas of Empiricism he ultimately concludes that there is no meaning at all. He rejects not only reductionism but also analyticity. He rejects analyticity by rejecting meaning. He rejects meaning by talking about why certain logical truths and synonymies are not meaning and can not be meaning.

Beginning with logical truths he discusses reference and extension to not be meaning. Logical truths are exemplified by Quine with Morning Star and Evening Star. They both are sightings of the planet Venus, and they both are names for Venus, and both refer to Venus. Morning Star does not mean Evening Star or Venus.  This is just naming or reference. These things like certain logical truths and synonymy have been posed as clarification and understanding for what meaning is, and Quine simply paints these as failures to define and understand meaning. Reference and naming are both of singular terms. Extension is a logical truth that is of predicates. Extension is often thought to be meaning. An example of extension would be creating 2 truths about a certain entity as Quine puts it, but he paints this as another failure to understand meaning. If I am talking about a man, 2 logical truths about it would be ‘a creature with a brain’ and ‘a creature with a stomach’. Both statements extend to the same ‘entity’ but just because this is so does not mean that they mean man. These are obvious logical truths that Quine says is not meaning.

Besides logical truths, Quine says that synonymy and definition are also not meaning. He talks about definition and then interchangeability with synonymy. Synonymy is obviously understood because things like bachelor and unmarried man are synonymous, but the question is does synonymy entail meaning. Quine states definition to not be meaning because of what the lexicographer (dictionary writer) does. A definition for a word is just a section of a long chain of synonymies:

” In formal and informal work alike, thus, we find that definition – except in the extreme case of the explicitly conventional introduction of new notations – hinges on prior relationships of synonymy. Recognizing then that the notion of definition does not hold the key to synonymy and analyticity” (Quine).

S0 definition is not at all meaning because of how definition continues from word to word and phrase to phrase and being referred to those because of the synonymies that create the huge chain. Definition is just related to more synonymies and does not have meaning and cannot hold analyticity in any defined word or phrase. Definition and its relation to prior relationships of synonymy are more easily understood when it is understood why most synonymies are not meaning.

Definition not being meaning, Quine goes on to specific synonymies. Interchangeability is a certain kind of synonymy that Quine proves to not be meaning. He goes as specific to talk about interchangeability salva veritatae or interchangeability preserving truth. He declares the synonymy in interchangeability salva veritatae, but no meaning at all. For example, ‘bachelor’ and ‘unmarried man’ are interchangeable salva veritate and synonymous of course, but they are not meaning because what if bachelor is referring to ‘bachelor of arts’, ‘bachelor of science’, or ‘bachelors buttons’ as Quine puts it. In those cases bachelor would not mean unmarried man, so synonymy in the case of interchangeability salva veritatae is not meaning. He also includes that interchangeability salva necesitatae or interchangeability preserving necessity is synonymy yet not meaning because necessity is confusing as to its meaning and causes problems. The issue here is that interchangeability is synonymy yet its not meaning because some words can be synonymous and interchangeable yet not really mean the same thing. He declares this to make difficult the understanding of what meaning is.

Quine continues with his discussion about meaning and synonymy and his rejection of analyticity. I could talk for a long time about it, but I simply want to discuss the basics to understand why he rejects analyticity. In the end of the essay he uses his premises to say that the boundary between analytic and synthetic has never really been drawn. There have been attempts at defining the two in making the boundary, but clarifications have not been given to really make that dreaded distinction. If you read Two Dogmas of Empiricism by Quine and get nothing else out of it, if you get out of it that there is no meaning, then that is good enough.

I think that there is analyticity. If a person understands philosophy that person has their own understanding of the analytic/synthetic distinction that is difficult to put into words good enough to convey understanding of it from one person to another. I really think that there is analytic while at the same time it can be proven that there is not. I have my understanding of analytic and can understand why there is no analytic. Analyticity is a complicated subject because understandings of it are not the same between people.

Coming to an opinion about whether one thinks analytic exists is a difficult one especially because deciding whether one thinks there is meaning is an equally hard thing. Meaning is a hard thing to define or understand because of issues of logical truths and synonymies exemplified by Quine. My opinion is that there is no meaning and that it is all synonymy or logical truths of one form or another. Meaning is like analytic in that it can be understood by a person but not well put into words. I feel like I can understand meaning, but then I can logically reject it at the same time.

What do you think? Do you think there is analytically true statements? or meaning in general?  I am stuck and do not know what my stance on the issue is because I read Quine’s great rationalization on why analyticity, meaning and reductionism are not in existence and then at the same time I can think as if they do.  I am just not sure and need further contemplation.

Please say what you think on Twitter or in comment section. Thanks for the support.

G.E. Moore’s Proof of an External World: If we cannot prove it, can we know it?

3 Nov

I have previously discussed Wittgenstein’s book On Certainty that he wrote towards the end of his life, where he gets his frustration out mostly by correcting Moore’s essay Proof of an External World (and A Defense of Common Sense).  I am looking at Moore’s essay and looking at beginning propositions of Wittgenstein’s On Certainty and thinking about their arguments.  What Moore’s essay ultimately boils down to is him saying that he can know things without proving them. He bases that upon his idea of rigorously proving things along with other things.

Moore begins by saying that he can prove the entire external world by saying “I have one hand here, and another here.” He says this and then says that what he said conforms to a rigorous proof. “I can prove now, for instance, that two human hands exist. How? By holding up my two hands, and saying, as I make a certain gesture with the right hand, “Here is one hand”, and adding, as I make certain gesture with the left, “and here is another”. And if, by doing this, I have proved ipso facto  the existence of external things, you will all see that I can also do it now in numbers of other ways: there  is no need to multiply examples” (Moore).  He then states that what he just said was a “rigorous proof” for the external existence of 2 hands. He proceeds even further to state what qualifications for a rigorous proof are: “Of, course it would not have been a proof unless three conditions were satisfied; namely (1) unless the premiss which I adduced as proof of the conclusion was different from the conclusion I adduced it to prove”, so in short, the conclusion is different from the discussed premise,”….; (2) unless the premiss with I adduced was something which I knew to be the case, and not merely something which I believed but which was by no means certain, or something which, though in fact true, I did not know to be so;” in short  you are certain about the premise, which certainty and knowing is the ultimate discussion about Moore’s paper, and I shall further discuss here later, “…and (3) unless the conclusion did really follow from the premiss” (Moore). So, to Moore, for a rigorous proof, the conclusion and premise must be different,  you are certain of the premise, and the conclusion follows from the premise. If, in ones argument, you can satisfy these three requirements, to Moore, you have proven what you have been trying to prove.

Going on in the essay Moore talks about why his proof is good, and how proving that something existed in the past external world helps him with his present proof. All of this leads up to the final paragraph of the essay where Wittgenstein and others get most of their food for argument. I will simply cite it and discuss it thereafter:

“But another reason why some people would feel dissatisfied with my proofs is, I think, not merely that they want a proof of something which I haven’t proved, but that they think that, if I cannot give such extra proofs, then the proofs that I have given are not conclusive proofs at all. And this, I think, is a definite mistake. They would say: ” If you cannot prove your premiss that here is one hand and here is another, then you do not know it. But you yourself have admitted that, if you did not know it, then your proof was not conclusive. Therefore, your proof was not, as you say it was, a conclusive proof.” This view that, if I cannot prove such things as these, I do not know them, is, I think, the view that Kant was expressing in the sentence which I quoted at the beginning of this lecture, when he implies that so long as we have no proof of the existence of external things, their existence must be accepted merely on faith. He means to say, I think, that if I cannot prove that there is a hand here, I must accept it merely as a matter of faith – I cannot know it. Such a view, thought it has been very common among philosophers, can, I think, be shown to be wrong – though shown only by the use of premisses which are not known to be true, unless we do know of the existence of external things. I can know things, which I cannot prove; and among things which I certainly did know, even if (as I think) I could not prove them, were the premises of my two proofs. I should say, therefore, that those, if any, who are dissatisfied with these proofs merely on the ground that I did not know their premisses, have no good reason for their dissatisfaction” (Moore).

The entirety of this ending section of the paper refers to what one says when saying “I know.” His opposition says that one only knows when it is proven, and when premises cannot be proven, the whole conclusion is proven. Responding to all of these oppositions to his proving qualifications and to how he gauges how he knows something, he ends up referring to Kant’s statement that when one cannot prove something, one does not know it, and must resort to having mere faith. Thinking back to Kant’s discussion of noumena, we cannot know of their existence and we must understand that there are ways of understanding things beyond empirical observation. Kant talks about faith when introducing noumena in that noumena cannot be really known. Moore talks about Kant when defending his argument (not necessarily the part in Kant’s work about noumena) by saying that if he has faith in his right hand being there, he can still know it.

Using again the phrase “what this boils down to”, what this boils down to is that what can be proven (proven rigorously beyond what Moore defines as rigorously proving in that the premises are proven in different ways to help prove even more the ending conclusion) is known, and what cannot be proven can be known in a way less strict sense (not with all the logical proofs) where we have faith in it, yet it is not really strictly Wittgensteinian defined ‘known’, yet Moore thinks with faith, one can ‘know’ in all forms of the word what cannot be rigorously logically proven.

Kant thought that faith did not lead to proving or knowing an external thing, Moore thought that faith led still to knowing external things, and Wittgenstein overwhelmingly trampled on Moore’s opinion here with his book On Certainty. I think that when looking at these few arguments about what it means to ‘know’ anything, the word ‘know’ should be thought of and use in the strictest sense especially when trying to understand the arguments and formulate individual opinions on them. Moore thinks of ‘knowing’ something as not having consistent proof (in my opinion) but having faith in things such as that there is a right hand here. Kant believes in faith being there for minimal understanding, but it doesn’t denote ‘knowing’. Finally, in Wittgenstein’s On Certainty he makes the word know, knowing, knowledge and any other words like it to be as strict as possible.

Here are only a few propositions in the book’s entire discussion about knowledge and certainty that stomps on Moore’s argument:

”  14.  That he does know takes some shewing.

15. It needs to be shewn that no mistake was possible. Giving the assurance “I know” doesn’t suffice. For it is after all only an assurance that I can’t be making a mistake, and it needs to be objectively established that I am not making a mistake about that.”

Wittgenstein goes on to cite Moore and say more things about his argument. One thing I want to make known about Wittgenstein’s argument is that he thinks that Moore’s use of know, knowing, and knowledge is redundant, repetitive, and does not help his overall argument. If you have a library near you, like a college library, it probably has a philosophy section and may have On Certainty by Wittgenstein, or if you have the means pick it up. To get Moore’s essay Proof of an External World go here:,%20external%20world.pdf I say that because there are many arguments that Wittgenstein specifically picks on from Moore’s essay, and there are many other things to think about and discuss besides the single point I am going to make from here on out, so if you want a more wholly picture of Moore’s opinion and Wittgenstein’s opinion, read the essay and read some of the book (since I do not think reading all of On Certainty is necessary and if you want to read a whole book of Wittgenstein read Tractatus Logic0-Philosophicus).

First of all, my opinion is that Moore’s proof of an external world and his qualifications for a proof that he used are faulty in actually making knowledge of external things. It all comes down to that Moore does not feel the need to prove his premises, and then he says that having faith is proof of external things, and it is knowing external things. I am a large holder of faith in things I have not empirically observed and proven, the only reason being that I have not found a way to prove their external existences beyond faith. Faith is similar but not equal to knowledge, and I think that when one says that faith equals knowledge, it is merely a cop out in that that person will not take further efforts to come up with logical proofs for what one has faith in.

Its hard to say how much proof there is in faith, and how much knowledge there can be had in any faith at its face value. This is because faith varies from what faith is had in, how the faith is had, and a plethora of other factors that go into faith in one thing. If I have faith in God, which I do, I feel like I have total knowledge about Him yet I do not have logical rigorous proofs for it. I feel like I have full knowledge because of my intimate and loving faith in Him, but I want to create a logical process for further proof of things others might not see but I still have faith in. Moore just says that faith equals knowing things external, but that leads to ridicule from logically sensible philosophers and people like Wittgenstein. This tells me that faith feels sufficient for knowledge to those who have faith in something external, but if we want to show others about this thing and prove it to others for the entire benefit for everyone and ourselves, we need a logical process to create a rigorous proof for things’ existences like God.

In the end,  I hate to say this, but faith is not sufficient for true knowledge in its strictest sense. Moore is copping out philosophically when he says that faith is equal to knowledge.  Wittgenstein isn’t really getting there either when he tramples on Moore’s argument rather than just removing a few things, polishing it, and building upon it.

I do not know what that logical process towards a rigorous proof of external things not empirically observed would be, but I think it should be something philosophers and logicians should progress toward. It would be nice to have logically rigorous proofs for noumena and God, or even monads and forms. Then metaphysics would be generally more accepted rather than rejected. This is a difficult thing to just say should happen, but I think it should have efforts put toward it rather than just saying that faith is knowledge.

To actually figure out how  to prove external things that are phenomena or noumena, it is my opinion that our sensations should be analyzed more than they ever have been. I say this to mean that we should analyze sensations beyond just the six senses. I like to think of it in the way that we should look at our impressions  (using Hume’s term in the Origin of Our Ideas). Impressions being things entering our perception with most violence and force. Impressions are what I take to be emotions, passions, feelings, and sensations. For example, I find an impression to be the event that one has a direct or indirect conversation with God. I have not had a direct one, but others I know have. An indirect one I have had is where I ask Him for something in particular to really help my horrible situation out. After not getting it for awhile and asking Him again, soon after, it immediately occurs and I immediately realize why He waited until now and why he put me in the problem initially. Along with this understanding, I would have amazing emotional feeling because  I can feel the things that have happened before me, and I know from who they come. This is one example of an impression that I think should be examined further to get from faith in noumenal external things to actual knowledge in the Wittgensteinian sense.

I just think that faith does not denote knowledge even if it gives us real pure understanding.

Thanks for the support, and my apologies if this was too long.

A.J. Ayer and the Act Object Analysis of Sensation

3 Nov

Here I am referring back to Ayer’s Phenomenalism, yet just another aspect in his entire argument that I have explained before. In case you did not know, I started another website where I talk about history, politics, and current news.

Ayer begins Phenomenalism with a discussion about Bertrand Russell’s definition of sense data where he describes them as “objects of acquaintance.” He finds confusion and need for further explanation with Russell’s sense data because this implies that he is describing sense data as objects of knowledge. For something to be an object of knowledge, Ayer says,  it is something that we know to be or not be the case. Ayer states that knowing things is something meaningless to say, and therefore there are no objects of knowledge.

This all leads to Ayer’s conclusion that it  “is meaningless to speak of knowing objects.” He continues further: ” Failure to realize this has contributed , I think, to a famous piece of philosophical mythology, the act-object analysis of sensation. For once it is assumed that having a sensation involves knowing an object, then it may seem reasonable to apply to this case the principle that what is known must be independent  of the knowing of it…..”

This at first implies that its meaningless to talk about knowing objects, because knowing objects involves saying that it is or isn’t the case in certain situations, or it means knowing it in other ways, making it entirely meaningless. Ayer talks about knowing being a transitive verb carrying many meanings that are variously used by philosophers and people that do not philosophize creating many confusions. All of this together makes it meaningless to talk about knowing things. This leads further to say that we often assume that knowing an object always involves  having a sensation. Finally, the act object analysis of sensation says that what is known, call it A, can be thought that because of all of the above, is independent of the action of knowing it.  Because of all this A is thought to be independent from the action of knowing it.

Because we cannot really talk about knowing objects, we are lead to this act object analysis of sensation where the act of sensing an object is separate from the actual object.  I like to think of this as if the act of sensing an object was  a part of, or dependent on, the object. If this is the case in any sensation, the object cannot have any postulates made upon it as to whether or not it is a real object that can be known.

If the act and the object are together and dependent on each other, we cannot speak of knowing an object, because most likely the object is not real anyway. Ayer seems to think that this is the best way to go about thinking about things. If this were the other way, where the act and object are separate and independent, this would imply that an object may be out there to be known, and the act would be used for just that purpose.

Ayer states that the act and object cannot be independent or separate because this would lead to objects being able to be known. To Ayer, however, objects cannot be discussed as to how they can be known.

First, I do not know how meaningless it is to discuss knowing objects. Because of how transitive of a verb knowing is, I think it needs much clarification as to what knowing means when talking about sense data and objects. Ayer only says that its meaningless to talk about objects being known because of how physical objects are logical constructions of sense data, and he wants to end discussion about objects in the beginning words of his essay.  I disagree here, because I think objects can be discussed as to if we know certain ones or not. What we mean when we say we know of an object needs to be clarified. I think it should be clarified to say the following: knowing an object is the apprehension of an actualized existence or being.

This view is contrary to Ayer’s and it endorses a modal realism discussed by David Lewis. Lewis states in On the Plurality of Worlds that each thing we see is an actualization of a being in one way or another. When we see anything, we are apprehending objects that are existent. This would lead me to think that the act of seeing an object and the object itself are totally independent…..

This is true in most cases I think. Lewis’s modal realism would still work in the case that the act of seeing the object and the object itself are dependent and together. This scenario I think is existent in the case that one is hallucinating, dreaming, or seeing anything usually not actualized. Any hallucination or dream is still an actualized existence, even if the act of seeing it, and the seen object are dependent and together.

All in all, I disagree with Ayer’s originating proposition that begins discussion of the act object analysis of sensation. When Ayer says that discussion of knowing objects is meaningless, I think he is wrong. Yes ‘knowing’ is a confusing transitive verb that has meanings that can be confused between each other, but this only needs clarification to return to discussion of knowing objects. Anyway, I think we can know objects anyway because we see something all the time that is actualized existences in one way or another. We are always seeing real objects whether the act and object are independent or dependent, together or separate.

This modal realism and its following ontology dismantles Ayer’s thought that discussion about the knowledge of objects is meaningless.

This is only a  tiny part of Ayer’s entire argument in Phenomenalism, but the act-object analysis of sensation making one choose between the two options made me think about it, and how my specific philosophy at the moment totally tears it apart. Hopefully this wasn’t too hard to understand as I am sleepy and incoherent. I shouldn’t be writing in this state of incoherence, but if there are any inconsistencies, misuse of information, or misinformation, please let me know.



Thanks for the support.