Thursday, January 06, 2011

Being's Poem explains Meillassoux's Answer to Hume's Problem. Apparently Heidgger postulated that a consistent reality which exists independent of our thought was a speculative fiction.
Thank you for the resource. It is a helpful introduction to a couple new names. And its resistance to skepticism makes it worth the effort.

Endnote 7 says, "The impossibility of a contradictory being...." That reminds me of a brief class discussion prompted by consideration of the usefulness of the comment "I am not myself tonight." One classmate found such an assertion ludicrous. Others of us thought it to be thoroughly familiar.

I have since come to believe it is another formulation of MH's assertion that for Dasein be-ing is an issue. "To be or not to be" proposes a real choice. We may not be aware that is a choice we are making all the time, yet it is so. There may not be a place for "contradictory being" In the world of philosophical proofs, but as I continue my search to, as Nietzsche put it, "become who you already are," I am aware of moments when I am 'not myself.' That's plenty contradictory enough for me.
"" It is important to note that Hume does not flatly deny that the laws of nature actually obtain; nor does he deny that these rules are real in order to assert their merely ideal character. The challenge to causality does not amount to an idealist sublation of natural occasion, by affirming the latter's eventual subjective constitution. Rather, it states that we can never obtain knowledge of whether these rules obtain or not by necessity. That is, Hume’s position is not presented as being essentially ontological, but rather epistemological."""

An important clarification overlooked by many who launch into anti-Humean attacks w/o really understanding Hume's point, which was really about the lack of ...logical necessity to "natural science", not some ultra-skepticism. The melting point of water appears to be fixed at 0 celsius, and most humans would bet on it being so tomorrow, or 20 years from now, or 2000 years. Put providing a necessary argument that it will be 0 celsius 20 years from now is another matter. Similarly for any "law"--and Hume did, broadly speaking, probably suspect the Newton "absolutes" were not the final word on physics-- Einstein and the quantum theory were down the road a piece.

That said, I would agree Hume...and Humeans may have overstated the case for epistemological subjectivity, but in many cases uncertainty, probability and indeterminacy remain an issue--even in high powered particle physics, etc. Bricmont has written some interesting things on this issue--and while I doubt Postmods approve Bricmont has a bit of a Spinoza-istic aspect which seems somewhat related to...Being (tho sans....judeo-christian aspects).
My problem with such logical arguments is that they allow no place for agency, no place for the human being's freedom to function.

As I imagined the author's argument composed in symbolic logic, it seemed to require every strategy I had ever learned. But nowhere a place for an agent.

That's a form of denial. So, yes, if you are testing for the coherence of an argument, stick to logic. If you are concerned with the meaning of the argument, stick with the language and fit agency in there somewhere.
In Bricmont's case, your accusation of strict determinism would hold, AFAIK. And most western science. But I think the postmodernists are the other extreme--ALL agency, freedom, "subject" and the Cartesian tradition, filtered through german idealists perhaps (tho of course Heid. objects).

That said, I don't think many postmods--or..citizens as a whole-- quite understand the difficulties involved with the intention/determinism issue--humans are not merely animals, but they are bio-physical entities. We have an organ called a "brain". We ...have certain requirements (ie, breakfast). Does human Thinking disrupt ..physical causation itself?? Much as I dislike strict determinism, I don't think it's easily disposed of. Usually the response is.... just..."We're free! And we have to be, to be accountable!" or something of the sort. The Garden of forking paths site has had some interesting ....debates--and shouting matches-- on this issue. The academic philosophers defending Freedom or "libertarianism" (in philosophical sense, not political, per se) don't always sound too convincing, alas. Re Hume's view ... he was a "compatibilist", which generally doesn't please ther determinists, or the Cartesians

I don't disagree with those who post intention, or agency of a sort. ...(like Searle, in his somewhat crass fashion)..and understand the critique of strict determinism, yet at the same time am somewhat unconvinced by the continental thinkers who want pure Freedom, er Freiheit , or the cartesian ghost, though one senses the need for it, perhaps.
Wm James...was quite aware of this issue, and of the limitations of Cartesianism...and frankly he generally sounds a bit fonder of the mechanists and scientists than the philosophers...
I promise this will be the last time I will mention Davidson's "anomalous monism" to you.

He insists on a causal explanation, so far as I am aware, apart from that caveat. If I were, for example, in the business of sending vehicles into space, strict determinism would likely be my guide, too.
Davidson's an important figure though not everyone accepts his anomalous monism as a solution to the freedom/determinism debate.
With many even most mental events the precise physical ...explanation cannot be readily established (certainly not by laypeople) I don't accept that they are all...anomalous. Or the wording seems strange. More like, not established at this present time--though certainly some...mental events can be correlated--at least in some sense, with a bio-physical action, whether in response, or as a reaction, etc. Such as hunger or thirst, other basic needs. The hunger ...stimulus via enzymes and so forth has been pretty well established. Now, when someone's hungry they don't automatically ..act in a certain way, but they do...go to lunch. MY hunch is that most human actions are sort of like that--people respond to some bio-physical
impulse. But granted, that hardly would suffice for say, what happens when we listen to King Crimson. Or what Kasparov's mental events are when he's playing Karpov---though I think eventually cog-sci could provide a correlation--that said, I understand the concerns about reductionism. But in my experience the Ghost-panderers (including..theological ones) tend to outnumber, greatly, the cognitively- oriented people. And that's noted in...PoMo as well.

at any rate cogsci/neurologists have hardly charted out higher level....functions, language, memory, mathematics etc. Yet....humans can now interface their crania with a computer, and the app. translates neuron firings into code, and they can turn lights on and off, other simple tasks (disabled people use the gear--neurokinetics)--what sort of ...Res Cogitans does that suggest?? (and...I realize MH's not exactly Descartes...but a cousin). Looks like correlation to a degree.
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