Tag Archives: Schlick

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.

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.

G.E. Moore’s View on Colors in Sense Data

25 Oct

I finally am going to begin to write more on here, as from here on out I will gradually have more time.

I am writing a paper about the absence of colors in material objects as another inference to not rely on our senses, and i am using G.E. Moore’s paper Introduction of Sense Data. There is a part where he discusses the three characteristics of sense data: color, size, and shape. He has different conclusions on each one, but the color is what I am interested in for my paper’s purposes.

To jump right into it, G.E. Moore states that color is the only one of the three things that can be thought to be a part of the material object that sets forth the sense data. Moore begins his discussion in the paper about the envelope and how everybody in different places of the room see a different color and a different image. The question that this poses is are all of those of the same envelope (along with other inferences and questions). “The colour might be supposed to occupy a part of that volume occupied by the envelope- one of its bounding surfaces” there after that is an indicator of a footnote, ” I should now say that any part of the surface of a volume is not a part of that volume, because it is not itself a volume” (Moore).  Moore discusses mainly the presupposition that colors seen in objects exist as a part of the object that it is sensed with. The envelope (a material object) occupies a volume, and it is thought that the color of the envelope is a part of the volume of the whole volume that the envelope occupies. The footnote to the sentence states that a surface of a volume is not a volume anyway, so its not a part volume of the whole volume. So, if a color is seemed to be a part of a material object, how can it be a part if the surface is not a part of the volume? If I look at a yellow marker, I cannot prove that the marker is yellow, just that it looks yellow to me at that time and place.

Moore continues by stating the many different colors that one may see in one object, like the envelope.  One holds it in the air in front of 10 people. Because of the light shining in from the windows,  the fluorescent bulbs on the ceiling, a slice of white light from the projector, and the shadows of people in the front row, let us say that the envelope being shown is exhibiting 9 different shades of yellow. Moore wonders (like others) if all of these colors are a part of the envelope. Moore thinks this not impossible, but highly unlikely. These 9 shades of yellow would not be able to be a part of one small object, in my opinion. If all 10 people in the room switched seats where each person sat in a general vicinity of the room, one shade of yellow would seem to move, and another shade of yellow would move to the spot of the envelope you immediately see. Moore does well in this part of the paper to prove that colors are not a part of the object they are seen in. My aim for the paper I plan on writing is to say that there aren’t any colors in reality at all, and colors are just manifestations of what our minds make of the real world.

One might also think that particles or atoms within an object make something the color that it is. Going back to my yellow marker, there are dyes in the plastic that encapsulate the sponge full of yellow ink. Dyes in objects being particles within it do not put color in objects. Dyes are particles within objects that merely change the way the object looks when certain kinds of light are reflected off it. A red dye being put in something only is done to make red appear when a few kinds of light are reflected off it.

My conclusion from all of this is that visual sense data is the most misleading thing one can rely on. I once was talking to an old instructor of mine from high school who was not discussing philosophy of any kind just certain kinds of photons in light. He said he went into a clothing store to get a few pairs of socks. Going into the store he sees a few pairs of socks he decides to purchase, and recognizes they are black ( the label of the socks were not big and he did not read the label at all). He buys them, walks outside and sees that he has purchased unwanted blue socks. So, are the socks black or blue? You can crap out some science about dies, spectra, photons, and other things but this instance disproves the idea that material objects have colors in them. Yes, its all light reflecting off particles in objects and dyes within objects, but for a simple color test put a bright object on the ground, like a yellow highlighter marker, make sure bright lights are on in the room, and stand over the marker so your shadow is over it. The color the marker now has is a dull darker yellow, that is not bright like it once was. Once again, without this silly test, turn all of the lights off and hold the marker, the marker is not yellow, but black. This I think is enough to say that material objects have no color in them.

In Moritz Schlick’s Structure and Content essay, in the section Inexpressibility of Content, Schlick states that one could not convey what green is to a blind man. A person with sight can see the many colors, but try to talk to someone and explain what yellow is. Yellow is the next color lighter than green. Whats green? It looks like the color of a frog? What color is a frog? and so on. The fact that we cannot express content (i.e. color) is good evidence to say that sense data is local, and often personal to small groups, or even 1 person. If sense data, and more specifically color, is so local how can it be real? When I discuss real, I mean discerning color from things like size and shape (referring back to Moore). If I was talking to a blind man like Schlick, and I wanted to tell him about this huge block of cheddar cheese in the Big House (Michigan stadium in Ann Arbor, MI), I could say there is a huge rectangle 100 feet high, and 24 feet wide,  I could firmly draw the skinny rectangle on paper for the blind man to feel. He would feel the lines connecting and eventually envision a large skinny rectangle. Knowing, that there is a large skinny rectangle on the football field, I could not tell him it is orange. Even if he gained sight right there, he might see a light orange, while I see a darker shade. The way visual sense data is local like it is always I think makes it: 1) not a part of material objects, and 2) ambiguous in all forms of trying to define and explain it. Even if I say orange, one might ask, what shade. Then that person might say, that looks yellower to me. All of this means that there is no color in objects (or at all) , and what color people observe in sense data is ambiguous in the strictest sense of the word.

This is all granted that there are material objects anyway, which I also plan to address.

Thanks for the support. Tell me what you think, are there true colors in material objects?

A.J. Ayer’s Phenomenalism

5 Oct

A.J. Ayer, a philosopher at the end of the logical positivist movement, wrote a paper called Phenomenalism, creating a ‘theory of perception’ of how sense data is taken in and understood. Even though he does not say so at the outset, he picks on positivist protocol statements stating previous sense data observations. I have not addressed protocol statements that much before, but the things that make them up are what Ayer attacks to promote phenomenalism. Ayer’s writing envelops a lot of philosophy and thought, and here I only aim to discuss the 3 problems of sense data and protocol statements (in a sense) that he addresses, and why he lands on phenomenalism as the true theory of perception. Ayer specifically addresses many other things in this essay that I do not wish to venture into, such as what logical constructions are, and what sense data is defined by Russell as, along with some other specific arguments.

Protocol statements is a part of the logical system unified under science that Carnap, Neurath, and Schlick have advocated and changed throughout the logical positivist movement. Protocol statements are the recorded past versions of immediate observations. They are recorded as X was observed by observer W,  at place U , and at time C. Once something is observed it immediately becomes this protocol statement. It is this that the logical positivists used in their system of unified science. I discussed this in my first writing about Carnap. This occurs where intuitions are divided between analytic and synthetic. In analytic are the implicit definitions, and in that, geometries (Euclidean, Lobachevskian, and Riemannian) and physics (relativistic, or Newtonian). Also in analytic are the coordinating definitions which are the language  chosen to convey the subject/object, and those are either thing language, or physics language. The synthetic intuitions by Carnap are observations, that immediately become these protocol statements. This is the system you would use to go from your observation to protocol, to implicit definition, and coordinating definitions to have physics language, and later theoretical physics language statements. When Neurath published his thoughts, he focused on the protocol statements by putting most emphasis on them by eliminating observations from the system totally (as an observation only has a microsecond to actually be an observation before it becomes a protocol). This caused a collapse of the system until Schlick published his Foundations of Knowledge where he made the protocol statements the starting points of all knowledge.

I elaborate so much on this because it has been through Carnap, Neurath and Schlick that the protocol statement has traveled only to be dismantled by Ayer with phenomenalism. Again, Ayer does not talk about protocol statements directly but he addresses the observer, place, and time that are all a part of a protocol statement, which is why understanding what it is is so important. With the observer, time and place of a protocol statement Ayer states each to have its own problem to be addressed. From addressing these problems, is where he gets phenomenalism.

The problem of the observer is that the observer observing a situation is really no different from what he observes. Ayer discusses the observer as equal to the physical objects he observes, and that trying to point out which physical object among the many is doing the observing is a worthless task. Physical objects are subject to creating more sense data and only being another question of sense data and its relation to the physical object (if you know phenomenalism already, I have not yet gotten to the main principle of it yet). The problem of the place is similar, in that one place is mixed with all other places that are all placed in question together: “Thus the phenomenalistic analysis of ‘x is at P’, will be something like the following: ‘X is sensing a visual or tactual field such that if he had replaced it by another spatially adjoined to it, and if he had replaced that by another spatially adjoined to it, and if he had replaced that in turn by still another, and so on, then eventually he would have been sensing the visual or tactual field which is actually being sensed by the speaker at this moment”.  I quote Ayer, simply because I could not have said it better myself. If one place is singled out from the others, it could conventionally be replaced with spaces around it and still work with the place and observer. This creates a large sense field with a set of places, set of observers, and also a period of time. The problem of time is again similar with the other two. It is so much more than just one instant that the place and observer are consistent with the sense data. Ayer states that not only would S2 and P2 be consistent with t (time), but so would S5 and P5.  These are all problems that Ayer states to be issues for the phenomenalist. He then in the fifth section of the paper, gives the solutions to these three problems.

For the time and place, Ayer creates a ‘local scenery’ where time and place are all contained into one construction. For place, in the local scenery is the large somewhat finite area where things are perceived as sense data, so that way in a sense, there is no one space, but there are many places within the local scenery. For time, there is no set time for something to be seen within the local scenery. If someone is to ask ‘when’ something is perceived within the local scenery, that person would be asking an ‘illegitimate’ question because at one time or another, things are perceived in the local scenery. It is that local scenery where the place and time is included. He also addresses the observer problem where he answers it by stating that there is no observer at all. The local scenery is set up basically as the given, in the possible event that in some point of the existence of the local scenery that someone would happen to observe something within it. This local scenery is the visual sensory field that Ayer has been creating throughout the paper that is the logical replacement for protocol statement sense data.

So, entirely, phenomenalism is a the perception theory that physical objects are not exactly real material beings, but are “logical constructions out of sense data.” We see things, we believe a physical object to be there causing the sense data we perceive. Ayer and other phenomenalists believed that sense data had no ties to a physical object, but the physical  object was only sense data’s logical construction.  Not only is this a different perceptional theory, but it is a new take on positivist ideas.

Phenomenalism says nothing about what physical objects are or what they tell us, it only says that our sense data does not often denote physical objects. We only see sense data, and think it always to be physical objects, when really, even in real life, our sense data only 50 % of our lifetime denotes a physical object. I agree with all of this essay and all other phenomenalist work because of that fact. I disagree with all other philosophies that discredit all sense data (i.e. solipsism and neutral monism), but I agree with this because of how this is a milder version of philosophies that discredit the perception.  Solipsism discredits all perception, and only states the soul to exist. I entirely disagree with that.

Phenomenalism is different from solipsism. Phenomenalism only decides to make the rule to always take sense data as sense data only before it is taken as anything else. Sense data (as constituents of a  local scenery/visual sensory field) takes a lot of understanding and research before it might be considered to be representative of a physical object. Ayer seems to take phenomenalism to discredit the sense data as representative of physical objects more than phenomenalism does as a whole,  so I would endorse a softer form of phenomenalism.

The kind of phenomenalism that I would endorse would be less strict than Ayer’s. The kind I would endorse would be discrediting all sense data until further notice. Upon further understanding, research, and verification of my sense data when paralleled with reality, I might consider that my set of questioned sense data is closer to a real physical object. I believe that this can be easily done by experiencing more sense data, and comparing them side by side, face value for face value, and any similarities and corresponding themes between them can denote some reality in perception.

I think that with Ayer’s Phenomenalism essay, I have explained it well to a degree to help my own, and others’ understanding. Also, I think I took my own turn on it, by altering Ayer’s phenomenalism version towards my own beliefs about sense data.

I find it interesting also that in the beginning of the essay, Ayer begins talking about sense data, and states that Bertrand Russell first used the term in the teens and 20’s, when really the first philosopher who used it was Josiah Royce in 1882. I want to eventually read him, and possibly write about him in the future.

Thanks for the support.

Moritz Schlick’s Turning Point in Philosophy

29 Sep

The Turning Point in Philosophy is a smaller essay of his but it puts some things in perspective while looking at the logical positivist movement as a whole. If you are reading a lot of readings in logical positivism and are confused, this essay by Schlick clears a lot of it up, and makes one understand what the spirit, goal, and motivation of the movement really is. Schlick setting out the goals of the empiricism and positivism, makes me want to set out goals of metaphysics and how those goals should be achieved.

Schlick talks about what the main ‘turning point’ in philosophy is and why it has gone in that direction. The turning point in philosophy is where philosophy stops being cognitions, and becomes ‘acts.’ He talks about philosophy as the set of actions where philosophical propositions are shown as to their meanings, and where the propositions are verified as to their truth by science. He also talks about this turning point of going from cognitions to a system of actions by saying that it intentionally causes the collapse of metaphysics. Schlick is very up front about this statement in that he says that while epistemology and empirical philosophy has a process of actions set out for it to verify its truth, metaphysics has none. Carnap and other positivists created a theory of truth  to verify propositions during the positivist movement as a part of this ‘turning point.’ The verification conditions, including justification, meaning and truth is that truth theory set forth by Carnap. I have talked about these verification conditions many times before, but again, if we have a proposition to be verified, we justify it (I will explain this later in this writing), find its meaning (to be an integral part of philosophy after the collapse of logical positivism), and find its truth, and if we are able to find all 3 we have successfully verified its truth. Propositions come up when we observe things that confuse us and cause us to question things. Carnap says that these conditions are our ‘system of actions’ to verify it. Schlick stated this as the turning point in philosophy because of the change in methodology.

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that is done a lot because of cognitions and this leads to Schlick thinking that the whole of metaphysics (and even theology) should be thrown out and be destroyed because metaphysics does not very much have any other methodology besides cognition.  Schlick jumps on the enormous bandwagon of hating on metaphysics just like Carnap, Wittgenstein,  Hempel, Neurath, Hahn, and others. I do not think that metaphysics should be destroyed, collapsed, or discarded just on a trivial issue of methodology.

Methodology is a big part of philosophy that governs what the rest of philosophy does, and how it is done. What Schlick said is a turning point in philosophy is a large methodological reevaluation. Even though it is a large part of philosophy it is only the root of it, and its problems are only trivial ones. A problem in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, ontology, or aesthetics has a lot more dire consequences if not solved promptly. Because of how trivial methodological problems are, the turning point in philosophy should only be a need for some grease for the gears so that the bigger philosophy (i.e. metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, ontology, aesthetics) can work more cohesively. Methodology is just the solution for non-cohesive  epistemology or metaphysics, just like WD-40 is the solution to a squeaky door hinge.

My point in the WD-40 methodology analogy is that since epistemology had a turning point in philosophy in a methodological way that helps it work better, metaphysics can do the same thing. Metaphysics has done this to a certain degree, but I think a larger overhaul of methodology in metaphysics is necessary. Specifically, I think a metaphysical theory of truth is called for. Metaphysics should not collapse or be discarded over a trivial methodological problem, when the the hinges only need greasing. Throwing out metaphysics over this problem would be like throwing out the whole door, and its hinges instead of just going to the hardware store for some WD-40. Sounds illogical does it not?

Another thing that Schlick goes over is that the turning point in philosophy is a result of proving scientific claims. When Carnap first stated the system of the justification of science, one of the main driving forces in philosophy was verifying things through science. The Vienna Circle, where the logical positivist movement originated from, and the publishing The Vienna Circle: The Scientific Conception of the World talked about rejecting metaphysics and theology, while proving epistemological things through unification by science. This was the method that the logical positivists verified anything, and within verification, justified scientific things.  The justification system of science was what Carnap started with implicit definitions of geometry and physics, and coordinating definitions of language all within analytic things, and also observation and protocol sentences within synthetic things. The verification conditions by Carnap included this within the justification conditions. Concerning the turning point’s driving force towards scientifically conceiving and proving the world, I do not find it a bad idea. It was a good thing for them to try to scientifically prove things to benefit epistemology, but counting out metaphysics and theology while doing that is not good for anyone.

I claim that it is not good for anyone to count those two fields of philosophy out because epistemology cannot answer all things in the world and our lives. Metaphysics and theology contain things that can only be answered by metaphysical and theological methodology and philosophy. This is why I think  a metaphysical theory of truth should be formulated so that metaphysics can finally have a specific methodology of proving the things it proposes. I would like to give my 2 cents on what that metaphysical theory of truth as methodology should be, but not right now because I feel my thoughts inferior and I must refine my thoughts on the subject  and research more about it.

Before ending this writing,  I’d like to talk about a few things that a metaphysical theory of truth should have. A theory of truth serving a metaphysical truth must entirely have a way to account for things proposed that cannot be empirically confirmed. When I say empirically I mean things that cannot be observed. There are many things like Kant’s noumena that cannot be empirically observed, but I think that there must be a way to redeem them from a pseudo-statement status, and prove their existence. I know not yet exactly how this is to be done, but that is a long goal to strive for for all metaphysicians. A future theory of truth for metaphysics should also have some meaning qualifications for it as well, simply because many ‘teavy’ and ‘toovy’s ‘ are proposed in metaphysics that suppose extension and reference, which neither are actually meaning, when both are thought to be so (teavy and toovy are 2 examples of what Carnap thinks are like the terms metaphysics proposes, see the category of Rudolf Carnap to your right to see to read more about Carnap’s teavy and toovy). I will talk more in the future about this future metaphysical theory of truth. All that needs to happen is a revamping of methodology in metaphysics instead of just throwing it all out.

Thanks for the support. More to come on Schlick and his Foundations of Knowledge paper, along with more writings on maybe Carnap and a first writing on Quine.

Moritz Schlick’s Structure and Content: Inexpressibility of Content

28 Sep

In the eighth section of Structure and Content, another essay by Moritz Schlick, he talks about some of the things that are cannot express between each other. By using a blind man as an example, he states that we cannot express ‘content’ between each other; content being empirical observations that are the way they are, and it cannot be explained otherwise. For example, we cannot express yellow to one another. We see yellow, and know what yellow is, but we cannot describe and express yellow only by words and sentences.

Schlick makes a very good example where he talks about the event that you would be talking to a blind man, and you would be trying to describe the color green. When I read this I was drinking an Amp Lightning, which is an energy drink, and it has yellow all over the can, so I thought to myself how I would explain yellow to a blind man. I got no results. I could say: “Okay, so, yellow…..Its lighter than other colors…Its all yellowy.” Sorry if I find this humorous, but this is content according to Schlick, and it cannot be expressed with language. It can only be experienced and observed.

It should be noted the reason for the fact that we cannot express content with language. The answer to the question is that our language systems are all faulty in some way or another. Considering all of the systems of language we have, it is quite a feat for all of those to still be flawed. I have shed a lot of light on the reason that our language systems are naturally flawed, however the issue is how each language in existence is faulty, flawed, and unable to live up to the expectations that our sense, intuitions, and thoughts would like.

The process that I think goes on in us is that we are shown, told, and sensing certain things in the world, and the fact is that we cannot fully reciprocate these actions (if I use the verb correctly).  We are shown the color yellow and black in certain areas as content, and we are only able to tell it back. It can be compared to that tactic for creative writing taught in English classes in the ‘show don’t tell’ tactic. Instead of listing and simply saying what was seen, and sensed, the English teachers teach high school and college students to show. Showing basically means instead of ‘I saw a queen bee, and she stung me on my nose’ as telling, we would write ‘ the large black and yellow insect swiftly flew across the top of my head and confronted my eyes and face, she then inflicted sharp, intense pain with her small but potent stinger’ as showing.  This helps create a sensory image within the mind about what happened to the narrator, and creates a better image than ‘the queen bee stung my nose.’ This showing does not express content however and is as far as one can go in expressing his or her observation. Because the linguistic systems we have do not have the ability to express raw thought, we are left with altered versions of our thought in speech, and are basically stranded in what we really wanted to express.

So what does it mean to epistemology and other philosophy if we cannot express content? I think it means specifically to epistemology (and even more specifically the positivist theory of truth) that verifying the truth and/or existence of the things around us is made much harder. In any theory of truth in metaphysics and epistemology, meaning will always be involved, and if meaning is involved, this faulty language is going to make meaning harder to officially validate. Because we cannot express content, many things have to have more effort put to them to be verified, and also, some things cannot be verified. Some things we see, have content which of course cannot be expressed, and if content is all there is to work with, little can be verified about the experience. For example if an enormous ‘xoolos’ colored rectangular box stood before you, all you would be able to verify is a large rectangular box figure, because the color characteristics of it would not be able to be expressed, because of its content status. If no one else saw it and had no empirical evidence for it, you would basically be talking about any big rectangular box like figure which there are many of in the universe. Fortunately, not all things are so content involved as this that they would be reduced as so, but because of our inability to express content, our ability to verify the existence of some distinct individual things is also flawed, just like our language systems.  The color ‘xoolos’ is just like yellow to a blind man and is content, and cannot be described. This means that some empirical things have the lack of ability or inability to be expressed just as some metaphysics and ontology do. So if there is some epistemological data that cannot be described or verified, why did the logical positivists and the Vienna Circle bash metaphysics so hard? I do not know, but this inability to express content makes all philosophy equal. What this argument basically reduces down to is  that all things in the world are inconsistent, and some things in the world in every subject area cannot be verified. Further reducing the argument down:  We are not sure of some things we propose as truth, and this calls for other methods to assure ourselves of certain things i.e. faith etc.  (this means that we must turn to God for assistance, but that is another argument).

That is a kind of inconsistent explanation. I seem to have flaws in explaining my opinions in contrast with Schlick’s. If you want to talk more about it I would gladly do so.

Not only are there some things in epistemology we cannot verify (very few things cannot be verified in epistemology which allows for some rejection of metaphysics theories), but a way bigger problem is that most metaphysics involves things we cannot verify (by normal methods of empiricism and positivism). It is my point in this writing that if there are things we cannot verify in epistemology but then a few things we sometimes prove out,  it is in metaphysics the same situation. It just so happens that in epistemology more things are verified and proven out than in metaphysics because of the noumena involved in metaphysics. I say this because I think that content should include spiritual intuitions and thoughts in correspondence with God. Many if not most people in the universe would shoot down any theologian or metaphysician if they tried to describe this spiritual correspondence, thoughts or intuitions because we end up sounding irrational, dumb, illogical, and inconsistent. Theologians and metaphysicians sound this way because language cannot show the thoughts, they can only tell (going back to that tactic taught by English teachers). If we have a problem, for example, and pray to God, and then later our problem is solved and we feel very loved and happy in correspondence with God, there is no able way to describe this interaction and event. I have had these correspondences and spiritual thoughts from God, and I cannot come up with words to describe them. Also, if we tried to describe how we can feel God’s presence we will end up sounding illogical and irrational in most cases (God often helps us if we are trying to influence an atheist or agnostic person).  Not only is trying to describe an empirical observation of a color that of content, but spiritual feelings and intuitions are also this way. Comparing Schlick’s talking about describing green to a blind man to a metaphysical content problem, it would be similar to a man saved by God telling a full blown atheist about feeling the presence of God. I feel I have made my point about what content entails and why it equates epistemology and metaphysics in one certain specific manner. If you need more clarification about Schlick or want to talk about my argument more please inquire.

Thanks again for the support.

Moritz Schlick’s Meaning and Verification

28 Sep

Moritz Schlick was a great philosopher for the time he had, given that he was killed over a girl. The means of Schlick’s death is not the topic for discussion here, but I find it interesting that another guy in the Vienna Circle loved this girl, who blew him off to go sleep with Schlick, and the guy that she blew off, killed Moritz Schlick. Enough history, and on to the philosophy he discusses in his essay Meaning and Verification. This essay being one of many circling the logical positivst movement, discussed the meaning within the verification conditions for propositions. Not only do I want to discuss Schlick’s philosophy here, but I want to make my own modifications to what meaning is as a whole, and what it means to the rest of the verification conditions.

Schlick states to view a ‘proposition’ as a statement of fact after verification. I would first like to redefine a proposition (not really in any analytic fashion). I think that a proposition becomes fact after verification, logical analysis, and application. A proposition to me is statements that have an undefined status as to their truth, and other things unverified. Propositions are essentially questions that are proposed only for further analysis, and all the rest. Proposition and fact are 2 different things. Fact is something that takes a lot of work to achieve, and few propositions are fact. Like in science, I think we should view propositions as going from pseudo-statement status, to hypothetical, theoretical, and finally fact (law in science). Propositions are what make up the process from taking a pseudo- statement to a fact by the three processes of logical analysis, verification, and application.

In Schlick’s essay, he discusses the definition of meaning and verification to pseudo-statement and fact propositions and how we are to use them frequently. He begins with meaning, what it is, and what one has to make a proposition have meaning. Schlick talks about meaning just like any other philosopher or linguist would talk about definition. If we are to define a word, Schlick says, we reduce it down to more words and more words down from that that equally describe the word first examined for meaning. He also says that if something is to have meaning, it is to have consistent use in at least one language (thing language, physics language, theoretical physics language, mind language, brain language etc.), and  it is to create for itself rules of how to use it as you ‘define’ the word for meaning. Meaning like this would work, stated by Schlick, in a set of verification conditions if the meaning sheds any light at all on the truth or falsity of the proposition. Meaning of a word essentially defines a word, and unpacks it of all its contents and examines those bit by bit. In the correct examination of those series of words all defining each other, one should come up with a good understanding of the proposition and the word(s) in it. Schlick directly connects meaning with understanding. For a word within a proposition and therefore the proposition to have meaning, the examiner of it must be able to acquire understanding of it.

I totally agree with Schlick’s statement connecting meaning with understanding, because meaning within a set of verification conditions lets one go from meaning (with understanding only) to truth, and justification, and therefore verification. I think however that meaning is thought of in 2 ways, whether there is understanding or not. Meaning is thought of as meaning whether it is either of 2 forms that are thought of as meaning.  Both forms have been (not exactly by Schlick) given the name ‘meaning’ when really 1 of them is not true meaning, but only something else. One form is meaning thought of as meaning, but really it is only reference. If a word merely refers the examiner of the proposition to another thing, there is no real meaning. The second form of meaning is really meaning simply because going through multiple rounds of definition of it gives you a better understanding of it without referring you to other things. Schlick did not discern what is thought of as meaning between these two, but other philosophers have, and I am only emphasizing that meaning that is really meaning is the only one that works in a verifying conditional system.

Like Schlick said, meaning is reducing a word or phrase into other words that create a better understanding in the word’s entirety. We cannot be sure if something has meaning, or if it is just referring to something else unless we actually go through that process that Schlick described. On a side note, real meaning is achieved when understanding of it is achieved without the extra tasks Schlick talked about. I like to  think of meaning as definition. If we look up a word in the dictionary, a set of words are there to install an understanding in us of the word. If we see one or more words within that definition that prevent our understanding of the word, we look them up too, and so on. This defining process of meaning tells us whether the examined proposition or word has meaning or not. If we keep defining, and end up going in circles reviewing the same definitions, this means that there is no more to define (this is when we have understanding of all words in a definition), and we have established understanding and therefore meaning of the word in question. If, on the other hand, we try to define something, and keep having to define new things, and are referred to other uninvolved definitions, and we cannot see how all of these definitions fit into what the main word means, the word has no meaning, and is only thought to have meaning by reference. A word does not have meaning if its definitions refer to other abstract that require their own large series of definitions, this is only reference, and false meaning. Those definitions together could be used to prove a point within all defined referred things, but no definition there yields meaning, simply because no understanding can be had from it.

I am going to try to exemplify this hopefully without making a fool of myself, and without trying to say anything metaphysically at this point. Try to discern the two:

1

God

Def: the supernatural being conceived as the perfect and omnipotent and omniscient originator and ruler of the universe; the object of worship in monotheistic religions.

*To be particular I would have to define all of those larger words: supernatural, being, conceived, perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, originator, ruler, universe, worship, object, monotheistic, religions just assuming I did not know any of those words. I shall pick 1 just for my point assuming that I know all except what monotheistic means.

DefA: Monotheistic: believing that there is only one god

DefB: Believing: the cognitive process that leads to convictions; “seeing is believing”

*Now lets assume I know what convictions are but not cognitive.

DefC: Cognitive: The part of mental functions that deals with logic, as opposed to affective which deals with emotions.

*Assuming I know all except the word logic.

DefD: Logic: the branch of philosophy that analyzes inference

*Assuming I know all except inference

DefE: Inference: A determination arrived at by reasoning

* Assuming I know all except reasoning

DefF: Reasoning: thinking that is coherent and logical

*Assuming I know logical, but not the word coherent

DefG: Coherent: marked by an orderly, logical, and  consistent relation of parts

I could go way further down to 2 letter words, and even lesser, but does the above give a good series of definitions of God? Do you now understand it while before you may have not? Since we went from an overstretching term like God, and came down to understandable and strictly defined terms like logic and coherence, and cognition, we have an understanding of the term God. We went from God, to  a still large stretching term like monotheistic to believing, and it just got stricter and stricter from there as to the defined. If this were mere reference we would not be able to escape going from broad vague word to broad vague word to broad vague word. We have established meaning to a word, without reference. I state this only because within the verification conditions used against metaphysics and theology, is meaning, and to establish meaning to things, we have to know what that is and how to establish it.  I feel like I went all over the place there, simply because I did. If you would like further exemplification and explanation of this, please say so, and I would gladly further discuss my opinion and explanation.

Talking about meaning brings me to total verification. By Carnap and most of the positivists, verification comes from justification, meaning (which is why I went through such a long discussion of it), and truth. Verification by the positivists is finding out the truth or falsity of something, but I think it is worth looking into about what conditions we would have to have to declare the verification of existence in the world. One big thing that Schlick in  Meaning and Verification and other positivists like Carnap say is that a proposition is a pseudo-statement unless it can be tested for. I think that this testing lies in the justification within verification and within the criterion of application which according to the positivists, all propositions must have. After reading Carnap, Neurath, Hempel, Waismann, Schlick, and Ayer, I want to reconstruct the qualifications to verify the truth and/or existence of propositions. I do not have a distinct set of them yet, but I want to talk about  the positivist set of qualifications of verification.

1) Logical Analysis

2) Verification Conditions-  Justification=Meaning=Truth

3) Criterion of Application

Each of these is not discussed together as a set of qualifications for propositional truth, but positivists have intermittently all described these in one way or another (mostly Carnap and Schlick). I have simply put all of these together where it has not been done so before. Logical analysis explained by Carnap a lot, is testing for consistency logically between parts of a proposition. Logical consistency is what is being searched for in anything. This logical analysis is the first thing searched for and found simply because if it does not have logical consistency, it can be shot down where it stands. Since most propositions true or not have logical consistency, this logical analysis does not mean much as to the verification and truth of the proposition but it is the only starting point.

Second being the verification conditions, including the meaning and justification, and therefore truth,  is a harder thing to come by per proposition. This includes the necessity by positivists to test for things to prove them (probably in the justification side). I feel this needs modification, and I have an understanding of what it is I want to do to the positivist verification conditions.

Third, is extremely important to Carnap, and some other positivists in that it cannot be thought true by any means by them, if it cannot be applied to life at all. It is my opinion against the positivists that things can be verified and declared true without having any criterion of application. Some things can be declared true without this simply because some things are not a part of our visible world. Just because some things are not a part of our visible world, does not mean it is false. I state all of this in response to Schlick’s essay because I want to lay the ground work as to how I want to defend metaphysics in the future.

I am still trying to discern all of my version of the qualifications of truth concerning propositions, but I must figure out what justification within verification actually is and what it requires.

Thanks for the support, and sorry if this writing is too long for your taste.