Tag Archives: Jules

Ayer’s Function of Philosophy in Language, Truth, and Logic ( A Metaphilosophy #2)

2 Dec

I am writing a few things here on my free of obligations thursday so that I can get some posts in before I won’t be able to write anything for about a month (I think). This is simply because I have a ton of school things to do for the next 2 weeks and then I will have Christmas break and will have little time.  I will for sure come back to writing by the week of January 10.

I want to talk about an aspect of another section in A.J. Ayer’s Language Truth and Logic. The second section of the book is the Function of Philosophy. I find this interesting because metaphilosophy and finding out what the goal of philosophy is should be held dear by any philosopher. Again showing his rejection for metaphysics Ayer states that the function for philosophy is not to find insight on metaphysical things. Ayer says that the search for a first philosophy is not really the goal. First philosophy is the kind of philosophizing Descartes did in his meditations.

Ayer proclaims philosophy to be a critic. This is for one thing towards scientific propositions where philosophy is used to critique the sciences and make it better. Mostly, he states philosophy to be a critic in that it tells one whether their beliefs are  ‘self consistent’ or not, and that it shows the things we use to find the truth ( or lack thereof) in our propositions. This function of philosophy contributes to science and critiques things one scientifically proposes. Ayer seems to be defending against the idea that science cannot do without philosophy because of induction. He goes on to say that induction cannot be solved, and we should deal with it in science and philosophy is not really needed for this purpose.

Others in the logical positivist era and before it have maintained the idea that science can do without philosophy and simply that philosophy assists philosophy by critiquing it and making it the best it possibly can be. In the beginning of logical positivism, the Vienna Circle (influenced by Mach and Wittgenstein, and including Carnap, Hempel, Schlick and others) wrote the Scientific Conception of the World. “The goal ahead is a unified science. the endeavor is to link and harmonize  the achievements of individual investigators in their various fields of science. From this aim follows the emphasis on collective efforts, and also the emphasis on what can be grasped intersubjectively; from this springs the search for a neutral system of formulae, for a symbolism freed from the slag of historical languages; and also the search for a total system of concepts.” This I quoted from the Scientific Conception of the World. The aim these scientists show to have is to give philosophy a goal to contribute in this unified science with physics, chemistry and all other sciences contributing in any specific theory. Philosophy just seems here to be one of many parts of a collective effort. Philosophy plays a huge part in this collective effort in that its theories can contribute to any kind of discipline or science. Did I mention the members of the Vienna Circle rejected metaphysics too? Its what all the positivists were doing. If your friends jumped off a bridge would you do it too? I am simply joking because of how many people in the logical positivist era who advocated a verification, an a priori epistemology, and the rejection and elimination of all metaphysics and its pseudo-statements. I can understand why they feel the need to remove metaphysics from philosophy because science does some of metaphysics’ roles in the most logical way possible (I am kind of being facetious). A unified science achieved by collective efforts among many sciences and disciplines is one goal philosophy has. This should not involve the rejection of metaphysics however.

Putting science aside, I feel philosophy is not simply an additive profession used to critique and assist scientific experimentation and exploration. In mostly non-metaphysical aspects of philosophy, there are roles in philosophy made specifically for the critique and use in science, but an underlying goal or purpose exists under all specialized goals and roles the specific kinds of philosophy has (such as I feel the Vienna Circle refers to the philosophy of science and not really to the rest of philosophy as they may have thought). The huge purpose philosophy seems to me to have is the role in doing what science and experimentation cannot.  Science cannot prove the existence of noumenal beings or transcendent realities but philosophy actually has a chance at doing just that. If one uses the intersection of metaphysics and epistemology along with some ethics (and of course logic as the foundation of understandings) to postulate upon our empirical and un-empirical observations, things can be discovered that science cannot measure up to. This is why I think the unified science by the collective efforts of all disciplines including philosophy is the best combination because science being paired with philosophy can yield great results. Philosophical propositions can be experimented sometimes scientifically and proved out.

I totally advocate the unified science proposed by the Vienna Circle, but instead of eliminating half of the entire body of philosophy, it should be revitalized and used toward science’s benefit. Metaphysics can be beneficial to scientists as can some religion.  Philosophy should be used whenever possible in all disciplines of science.

I have interest in metaphilosophy to help philosophers define and redefine the purpose being driven toward. I want to keep addressing themes in metaphilosophy here every once in awhile to keep thoughts on track. Each philosopher regardless of situation has his or her own course of action to take to complete a philosophical project or work. I have my own so I feel it necessary to keep metaphilosophically addressing philosophy right now, and the philosophy I currently pursue.

What function or goal do you think philosophy should have?

Let me know your answer if you would like to (on Twitter, commenting below, or by email).

I appreciate the support as always.

A.J. Ayer’s Language, Truth, and Logic: Elimination of Metaphysics

30 Nov

I return, once again, yes again, to Mr. Alfred Jules Ayer. I am now interested in his book he wrote in his twenties Language Truth and Logic. Reading it, the first section addresses metaphysics and why it sucks.

What a positivist.

I have two bones to pick with the first section of Ayer’s book, but he goes over more things than I am particularly concerned with. He begins to discredit the metaphysician  by stating that they attempt to get into the transcendent reality (unseen unempirical reality) when we create our propositions by our senses. When we feel we are limited to our 5 senses, postulating about anything other than empirical matters can be something hard to muster. Ayer claims that if one cannot really or worthily postulate about anything unempirical, most metaphysics conducts philosophies of pseudo-statement where nothing is really proclaimed and nothing can be argued for or against because again nothing is really proclaimed. From this discussion of most metaphysics as crappy pseudo-statements Ayer goes on to saying that statements and propositions made in metaphysics and epistemology must have a process of verification. He then goes into aspects of verification ( like application and other things).

Like I said, what a positivist (trying to kill metaphysics and trying to verify statements).

I have said before, I have 2 opinions differing from Ayer. 1) must all propositions be derived from sensory perception?

2)Verification is a lost cause.

In the beginning of the section Elimination of Metaphysics, Ayer stated that if most propositions are derived from sensory perception, transcendent realities cannot be understood or postulated about. Not to say that we have a 6th sense, but there are senses and feelings beyond the 5 senses we all know (sight, sound, smell, touch, sound). The main five tell us things about phenomenal reality, but there are things we have that can lead us to postulations about noumenal reality. When I say noumenal reality, I mean reality we cannot empirically perceive. I hate to exemplify this because I will be called dumb, but one might be a conversation indirectly or directly between a God and man. This is not of th 5 senses. This can note an existence of a God, and a heaven. Another example is God talking to a man and sending him to a very dark place (i.e. Hell) and then bringing him back. These observations are not empirical. This would lead me to question does one have the 5 senses beyond the body and when the soul is relocated? I think not, and it is just that everything is made known to the soul of what is around it. This is all hard to explain because empirically understood people will not understand. A connection between a God and a man, or a relocation to another space, is personally experienced only with the soul present, and cannot be understood to a man who has not experienced it himself.

I have only experienced an indirect conversation with God. In a hard time of problems in my life, and constantly praying to God for answers, my prayers were answered as I immediately understood wholly my situation and what I needed to do from there on out. It is almost as if I had a close experience with God to the point that I cannot explain it to any other than myself. These experiences are examples of what can lead us into inferring a noumenal space not empirically observed by people.

My point is that not all propositions have to be derived from empirical observations. It isn’t like we can chose to observe unempirically a noumenal place or being, but it happens at the will of God and other beings there. I do not mean to reject Ayer’s argument solely on religious inferences, but I mean to reject it by saying that if people have conceived of beings and places unempirical and not phenomenal before, it  can happen again even if its not at our will.

This leads me to verification, the Holy Grail of the logical positivists. Quine and other philosophers have shown the with meaning and other things in verification, it is just not a feasible project for metaphysical and epistemological propositions.  Verification can be done, but only on a personal basis, or a local basis between a few people who have experienced the same things. If verification of statements can only be done on such local or personal bases, there is little point to continuing on the quest for verification. Meaning has been solved, as has justification and criterion of application, and how these are applied has also been solved, but using all of these things in verification is what I understand as a pointless endeavor.

Going back to the noumenal perceptions that I believe people (including myself) to have, if these noumena unempirical perceptions are there mixed with the phenomenal ones, propositions become personal. Once these propositions about the world phenomenal or noumenal become personal, verification is a pointless endeavor.  It cannot be done, and one would be continuously be searching for that last part to verify a proposition.

Where does this leave a person who wants to know things about the world?

Still with a bright future I think (I haven’t even addressed the current foundationalism vs. coherentism, and internalism vs. externalism yet but nonetheless this is a totally different course of action in postulating things about the world). The fact that propositions cannot be verified only means that single propositions cannot be verified because of personal aspects with noumenal facts. Various propositions grouped together are what actually can tell one something about the world. Plethoras of propositions put together that while aren’t verified alone, can overlap and tell people something about the phenomenal or noumenal world. Or at least this is what I think, not taking into account any other philosophies.

Let me guess what you’re thinking, “Bullshit”. Did I hit the nail on the head?

Noumenal metaphysics is something totally feasible, just not entirely by empirical observation. Empirical observation is the short cut in all epistemology crossing with metaphysics, and it is also seen as the only way, when really it is one among many.

Thanks for the support. I have not a clue when I shall write again as my college papers are coming closer to their due dates and I will have less time.