The Reasoning Show - Miscellaneous Discussion

Some partial backups of posts from the past (Feb, 2004)

Postby vicdan » Thu Apr 12, 2007 10:54 pm

prince wrote:Victor and Nat, they are both twits. They just don't know it yet. It's a little cruel to make a spectacle of these idiots,
Yeah, the spectacle of my interview was quite, erm, spectacular. I steamrolled over David and Dan combined. :)

They never did address my points about how asserting analyticity entails begging the question, or how indubitability does not equal truth, etc. They can't.
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Postby vicdan » Thu Apr 12, 2007 10:59 pm

Kelly,

1) historically
2) canonical
3) It's probably 'contextual' or something like that. Which point of the podcast does it appear in?
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Postby vicdan » Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:25 am

Unidian wrote:While Victor and I have had our clashes, I've never had any doubt that he is a guy who has dedicated his life to understanding what reality is and what we can know about it (primarily the latter after he realized how it constrains the former). Epistemology, his primary area of interest, is the study of truth in the sense that it deals with the nature of meaningful knowledge and how it is acquired.
That's exactly the point. The fundamental question is not 'what is true', but how do we know what is true. The epistemic filter affects what is true, what it means for something to be true, how we can know something is true, etc. To tackle truth without first tackling knowledge is like USSR sending saber-armed cavalry against german tanks in the early WWII.

What I had realized is that the deeper question is not what is, but how we know; and that, in turn, is a question more about us, not so much about the rest of the world. In a way, the path to understanding the world lies through understanding ourselves, our cognition and function and limitations, and there are no shortcuts. Trying to short-circuit it by looking for 'ultimate truth' is a bit like trying to get rich by buying lottery tickets.

On ontology and epistemology, yes. Try us on politics or ethics sometime.
You dirty freedom-hating money-grabbing hippie troglodyte! I bet you think Robin Hood was too capitalist! :)

Oh, wait, I know. You'll redefine ego so that it excludes the boasting above.
I don't understand why QRS don't simply redefine 'Truth' as 'that which QRS believe', and leave it at that. That should save them all these intellectual contortions.
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Postby Unidian » Fri Apr 13, 2007 7:10 am

Diebert wrote:A popular mistake but that's not what is written if you'd study the text in depth. It says that the 'temporary' or 'changing' Tao doesn't equal the 'eternal' or 'constant' Tao. There's a big difference and way more tricky to wrap your head around. The Tao Te Ching explains this duality later on in more detail.

Most translations show the lack or disregard of truth, which is common for this age. Interpretation always show ones true religion. We don't want our words and names to be Tao, because it leaves less room to weasel. Truth is essentially singular, in every context, including every day language.


The first line of the Tao Te Ching, literally translated from the Chinese, leaves a lot of room for interpretation due to the many shades of meaning in Chinese characters. The interpretation I use is not an uncommon one. Tao is what is pointed to by the word "Tao," not the word itself. Or, as it is usually put, "the Tao that can be told is not the true Tao." Using the term "constant" or "eternal" in place of "true" does not necessarily change this interpretation. It's still all about what can be spoken of (conceptualized) and what can't.

This interpretation is consistent with many other Eastern sources, including Chuang Tzu, the Diamond Sutra, and others.
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Postby Unidian » Fri Apr 13, 2007 7:17 am

vicdan wrote:You dirty freedom-hating money-grabbing hippie troglodyte! I bet you think Robin Hood was too capitalist! :)


Well, he should have at least set up a pension fund for the merry men, those poor wage-slaves... :p
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Postby Kelly Jones » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:09 am

Victor

Thanks for clarifying the first two blanks.


vicdan wrote:3) It's probably 'contextual' or something like that. Which point of the podcast does it appear in?


As mentioned, a few replies after your first one:

Victor: Well, it really depends on how you look. In most common usage, it is indeed a more updated version of materialism, in that it includes, as physical things, entities which aren't "physical" in the common parlance, like for example, "force-fields" or "mathematical structures". But for me, what is interesting is the methodology, which underlies the physical, both epistemic and rational methodology. The idea here being that physicalism, if you dig down deep enough, you find as physical those things which interact with other physical entities. And ultimately, the atomic, physical entity is the self. So, basically, physicalism is defining the physical - the world and the physical phenomena - in terms of the relationship between those phenomena and the self. As such, you could actually draw a parallel between physicalism and idealism as well Physicalism really transcends idealism and materialism, in that it does not take an ontological stance per se. Physicalism discards some of those ontological superficialities that both materialism and idealism historically have been burdened with. When I say "pragmatic physicalism", what I mean is basically pragmatism in the canonical and philosophical sense. That is, the position that truth is defined not as some sort of ontic veracity, but simply "usefulness". Usefulness in making predictions. So, we can speak about truth theories in science, for example, in terms of those theories having predictive power, in as much as, if a theory delivers the goods, [then] it's true, and when it fails to deliver the goods, it's false.

Dan: David, do you have a thought about this idea, that truths can at one point be true, and at another point not?

David: Well, it depends on your definition of truth. I would define truth as something that's necessarily true in all worlds, so---

Victor: That's circular.

David: Well, it might be circular, but it's a definition that I think is useful to me as a philosopher. So, I'm interested in those sorts of truths which can never, ever be false, no matter what the circumstances are. That's something I'd like to touch on later in the program. I'm more interested, at this stage, on your philosophy. I'd like to sort of translate your philosophy into simpler, more "layman" terms. Is it true to say that, when it comes to knowledge, that the only valid means
of gaining knowledge is through the scientific method? So in other words, that could be scientific knowledge, or it could be philosophic knowledge, but the prime, or the only, means of gaining this knowledge, is through the scientific method?

Victor: Well, I wouldn't actually go this far. I generally regard knowledge as predictive power. But there are different sorts of predictions to be made and not all of them are amenable, for example, to interpersonal verification, which is really the quintessence of the scientific method. I think that the more accurate way to describe it would be to say that the scientific method is the best epistemic methodology we know for learning truths about the world, the interpersonal truths, the kind of stuff that exists outside one's head, as in, if I say that I feel afraid, it is the truth, but it's not the sort of truth that is amenable to interpersonal validation. I'm not a "science is everything" guy. I am a "science is everything....in as much as any other epistemic method can deliver the goods, science can deliver them as well or better, provided the goods are of the interpersonal kind" [guy].

David: So, beyond science... Are you dividing "gaining knowledge" into two categories there, in a way? You've got
there the scientific method and then you've have the more introspective method of realising that you're experiencing fear. What about the role of---

Victor: I'm not sure that would even be proper knowledge. This would be a silly terminology debate.

David: Alright. What about reasoning outside of science? So, this is kind of metaphysical reasoning. I'm using the term "metaphysical" in the sense of "beyond science". I'm not necessarily talking about reasoning about supernatural things, or anything like that. I'm just talking about reasoning outside of the scientific endeavour, altogether. Do you acknowledge that type of activity, and participate in it?

Victor: I'm not sure that there is such a thing. If you're talking about what I think you're talking about, then I'm assuming you're talking about analytic a priori? Willard van Orman Quine has demonstrated that, basically, there is no such thing, that everything is experiential [------------------] and interpreted, that there is no such thing as purely analytic reasoning.






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Postby vicdan » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:52 am

'experientially ladden'
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Postby Kelly Jones » Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:57 am

laden?
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Postby vicdan » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:00 am

Erm, yeah, sorry.
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Postby Jamesh » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:14 am

I steamrolled over David and Dan combined


Would have to agree on this point. David didn't seem confident at all and had to backtrack a few times. Dan was better (and a great voice for radio).

The whole debate didn't seem to get very far, though the second half was better than the first. I doubt ad hoc listeners would get anything out of it. Victor unfortunately has a tendency to use too many academic level words, though I could see he was a bit wary of this.

I think these debates need either a written introduction stating beleifs, or a written summary of positions post the debate.
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Postby vicdan » Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:28 pm

Jamesh wrote:Victor unfortunately has a tendency to use too many academic level words
Eschew obfuscation! Why employ polysyllabic expressions when monosyllabic terminology can be adequately utilized?
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Postby Unidian » Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:41 pm

It's true. If I didn't know a little about philosophy, I'd have been sidetracked by some of those terms. L. Ron Hubbard, who was otherwise a nut, once said something I agree with. He claimed that unfamiliar words have a tendency to temporarily derail the train of thought, and people don't comprehend anything said afterward until they recover and stop trying to subconsciously process the meaningless word. If that's so (and I think it is in at least some cases), overly-academic language means that at least some laypeople are going to end up effectively missing large chunks of the conversation.

Of course, you're under no obligation to care. The NASCAR audience probably isn't going to be attracted to this sort of thing anyway, but I'm just saying.
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Postby vicdan » Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:46 pm

For me, it requires constant conscious effort to not use the more complex vocabulary. To me, those words are just regular words. 'Take the power' or 'exponentiate', they feel the same to me, and my first impulse is to use the word which most accurately describes what I need, not the one which is the simplest.
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Postby Kelly Jones » Fri Apr 13, 2007 2:04 pm

For any future podcast speakers, please consider those whose first language is not English, or those who aren't immersed in your jargon.

It may help to slow down, and speak clearly, especially when English is not your first language. This can also help overcome podcast sound quality problems.

Thanks.


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Postby Elizabeth Isabelle » Fri Apr 13, 2007 2:33 pm

Kelly Jones wrote:It may help to slow down, and speak clearly,


Actually, I find Victor's accent more difficult to understand when he is speaking slowly. When he got mad and started speaking fast was the first I was able to understand every single word. I had to re-listen to the first part where he was speaking slowly after I got used to his accent. Kind of like how I had to re-listen to the first part of the one with Kevin, except that even from the beginning I could understand half of what Victor said. I couldn't make out a word of Kevin's first two responses the first time I listened to it.

I think it is good for our minds to be challenged just a little with international accents - and the regular listeners will get used to them. Since many doctors I worked with were from India, I got so I could understand Indian accents pretty easily. I welcome the challenge of becoming accustomed to a variety of accents.
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Postby David Quinn » Fri Apr 13, 2007 2:45 pm

Kevin wrote:

To me, all the above just looks like a cat-fight - and pointless. There's more name-calling than anything else.

This could easily be interpreted as a form of name-calling itself. Moreover, it doesn't do justice to the vast bulk of this thread which does comprise rational discussion.

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Postby Jamesh » Fri Apr 13, 2007 3:06 pm

For me, it requires constant conscious effort to not use the more complex vocabulary. To me, those words are just regular words. 'Take the power' or 'exponentiate', they feel the same to me, and my first impulse is to use the word which most accurately describes what I need, not the one which is the simplest.


Only a very few folks in the world work in universities, so inspeak detracts from conversations for the vast majority.
Admittedly it was a topic very few outsiders or folks with IQs less than 120 would be interested in, and virtually all those would know most of the words you used.

I do understand why you naturally use such words or references to knowledge you've known for a long time so they have become second nature, but only a miniscule percentage of the general population do. otherwise waht Undi said applies "unfamiliar words have a tendency to temporarily derail the train of thought, and people don't comprehend anything said afterward until they recover and stop trying to subconsciously process the meaningless word"

Once more discussions occur, if I was the QRS I would remove, or list in last place, that debate . Podcasts to me must be geared to all those only a little above average IQ, not the top uni level. If people need to hear the spoken word in order to be influenced then they are likely to be those in the 115 to 125 range. Anyone above or below this range are not likely to change in any way.
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Postby David Quinn » Fri Apr 13, 2007 3:08 pm

Victor wrote:

They never did address my points about how asserting analyticity entails begging the question, or how indubitability does not equal truth, etc. They can't.

Are these statements actually true? Or are they just indubitable? Or neither?

Are they absolutely true? Or are they just guesses?

See, Victor, you are always wanting it both ways. When it comes to these matters, you are always wanting to speak absolutely and non-absolutely at the same time. That is why it is hard to take you seriously.

You need to step outside of your textbook world for a bit and examine more deeply how your mind is operating in relation to these matters.


--

Nat wrote:

Jason: Should I be seeing a contradiction there Victor?

Nat: No, because one doesn't have to rule out the possibility of absolute truth existing to lack belief in its existence. It's exactly the same deal with atheism - nobody can say for certain that god doesn't exist, because you can't prove the negative. But in the absence of compelling evidence that god exists, the rational thing is to lack belief in it.

In order to be an atheist, one doesn't have to refute every conceivable piece of evidence for god. One just has to refute the ones he is confronted with.

The trouble is, Victor is using sweeping statements which he thinks are universally and absolutely true - such as, "everything is contextual" - in order to do the refuting. He isn't addressing a particular concept of absolute truth when he does this, but rather the very notion of absolute truth itself as a principle. And the moment he does this, he is enters into self-contradiction.


I'm sure if Victor ever encounters something he would classify as an absolute truth, he will believe that absolute truth does exist, just as most atheists are perfectly willing to believe in god if presented with sufficient evidence.

That is extremely doubtful, given that he has already precluded the very possibility of his knowing absolute truth with his sweeping use of generalizations to dismiss it altogether. In other words, it can't happen while he remains close-minded.

The only way he could begin to recognize the evidence for absolute truth, which is overwhelming for those who have the eyes to see it, is by taking off the empirical blinkers and making a serious bid for such knowledge. But I can't see that ever happening.

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[Edit formatting - DQ]
Last edited by David Quinn on Fri Apr 13, 2007 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby David Quinn » Fri Apr 13, 2007 3:24 pm

Victor wrote:

Nat: While Victor and I have had our clashes, I've never had any doubt that he is a guy who has dedicated his life to understanding what reality is and what we can know about it (primarily the latter after he realized how it constrains the former). Epistemology, his primary area of interest, is the study of truth in the sense that it deals with the nature of meaningful knowledge and how it is acquired.

Victor: That's exactly the point. The fundamental question is not 'what is true', but how do we know what is true. The epistemic filter affects what is true, what it means for something to be true, how we can know something is true, etc. To tackle truth without first tackling knowledge is like USSR sending saber-armed cavalry against german tanks in the early WWII.

Is this actually true? Or is it just what you have epistemically filtered to be true?

One can know something is true when it is inherently impossible to doubt it rationally. For example, it is inherently impossible for a person to doubt that consciousness is occurring and experiences are happening, and that is because the very act of doubting is itself an experience perceived by consciousness. Thus, the act of doubting such a truth confirms it just as much as the act of accepting it does.

The deeper truths of life all have this same level of invincibility, and the textbooks can have nothing to say about them. They are too deep for textbooks.


What I had realized is that the deeper question is not what is, but how we know; and that, in turn, is a question more about us, not so much about the rest of the world. In a way, the path to understanding the world lies through understanding ourselves, our cognition and function and limitations, and there are no shortcuts.

That's fine for empirical knowledge, but it has no meaning when it comes to deeper knowledge. Deeper knowledge takes into account our cognitive limitations and works with them.

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Postby David Quinn » Fri Apr 13, 2007 3:29 pm

Jason,

Jason: Reality is right here, right now, everywhere, everything. Isn't it obvious? How could you ever avoid it? Is there anything more that needs to be said or done?

DQ: Plenty.

Jason: So now reality should include plenty more saying and doing. More reality just as it is.

DQ: What you're describing, while important and true, is only one aspect of Truth.

Jason: I'm actually not describing "one aspect ", I'm pointing to all aspects.

What I wrote, the writing itself, is one aspect of reality, but what the writing refers to is all aspects.

What about the aspect of formlessness, for example? How does simply pointing to the fact that Reality is everything help people break free of the illusion of objective existence and realize the formlessness of everything?

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Postby Jamesh » Fri Apr 13, 2007 3:48 pm

Well David, why don't you stop crying foul and list your absolute truths as dot points.

You may find that he agrees with them. I'd be suprised if he didn't.

"What about the aspect of formlessness, for example? How does simply pointing to the fact that Reality is everything help people break free of the illusion of objective existence and realize the formlessness of everything?"

You see comments like this are not absolute statement of truth, in fact it is outright false.

Everything cannot logically be formless (they just don't have a set form). So why don't you stop lying about this. Dementia???
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Postby Unidian » Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:27 pm

David demonstrates that he is missing the entire point quite spectacularly when he asks questions like this:

Is this actually true? Or is it just what you have epistemically filtered to be true?


There's no such thing as "actual truth" that doesn't involve epistemic filtering. It's a meaningless concept. Epistemology is about the nature of knowledge. All knowledge is within the domain of epistemology.

Asking what is "actually true" outside of epistemology is like asking what red looks like to a blind man. Redness is meaningless outside the context of vision, just as the concept of truth is meaningless outside an epistemic framework.

This is why all conceptual knowledge is limited and contextual, and the approach pointed to in Taoism and similar traditions is trans-intellectual in the "chop wood, carry water" sense, to elaborate on what I mentioned on the show.
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Postby David Quinn » Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:51 pm

Nat,

David demonstrates that he is missing the entire point quite spectacularly when he asks questions like this:

"Is this actually true? Or is it just what you have epistemically filtered to be true?"

There's no such thing as "actual truth" that doesn't involve epistemic filtering. It's a meaningless concept. Epistemology is about the nature of knowledge. All knowledge is within the domain of epistemology.

For me at least, the issue is whether or not a piece of knowledge can be absolutely true. Even if we assume that all knowledge is epistimically filtered, this question still remains. Both Victor and yourself are showing that, regardless of epistemic filtering, pieces of knowledge can in fact be affirmed to absolutely true.

Victor has been doing it throughout the course of this thread, and also on the show, and you have been doing it as well. For example, in your paragraph above each of your four sentences is an affirmation of what you think is absolutely true (i.e. in the sense of being beyond doubt, true in all possible worlds).

So really, the issue of epistemic filtering is a non-issue, a red-herring, which doesn't address the fundamentals of the matter.


Asking what is "actually true" outside of epistemology is like asking what red looks like to a blind man. Redness is meaningless outside the context of vision, just as the concept of truth is meaningless outside an epistemic framework.

The trick, then, is to make your epistemic framework as large and as broad as the Universe itself.


This is why all conceptual knowledge is limited and contextual, and the approach pointed to in Taoism and similar traditions is trans-intellectual in the "chop wood, carry water" sense, to elaborate on what I mentioned on the show.

Is this piece of conceptual knowledge also limited and contextual? Or is it meant to be applied to all possible beings in all possible worlds?

If it is the former, then it becomes meaningless outside of its context and can be easily side-stepped via skilled thinking. If it is the latter, then you are entering into self-contradiction and your point becomes incoherent and meaningless.

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Postby Elizabeth Isabelle » Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:52 pm

David Quinn wrote:it is inherently impossible for a person to doubt that consciousness is occurring and experiences are happening, and that is because the very act of doubting is itself an experience perceived by consciousness. Thus, the act of doubting such a truth confirms it just as much as the act of accepting it does.


I rather like this one, although I have to juggle my understanding of consciousness with it. For example, I have had dreams where I was aware that I was dreaming, but could not wake up, and other dreams where I wondered if I was dreaming or awake, and the realization that I was asleep woke me. Since I was asleep, by one definition I was definitely not conscious, but I was conscious of my unconsciousness... Hmm, something to think about. Interesting.
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Postby David Quinn » Fri Apr 13, 2007 5:02 pm

James,

Well David, why don't you stop crying foul and list your absolute truths as dot points.

You may find that he agrees with them. I'd be suprised if he didn't.

"What about the aspect of formlessness, for example? How does simply pointing to the fact that Reality is everything help people break free of the illusion of objective existence and realize the formlessness of everything?"

You see comments like this are not absolute statement of truth, in fact it is outright false.

Everything cannot logically be formless (they just don't have a set form). So why don't you stop lying about this. Dementia???

Are you still trying to get a rise out of me? :)

When you analyze the matter closely, you can see that a thing derives its form from countless other factors which are external to it. For example, a shadow gains its form from factors like the angle of the sun, the shape of the object casting the shadow, the topography of the ground, etc. Its form and existence is wholly derived from these other factors. So not only does the appearance of the shadow change from moment to moment, but it also doesn't possess any form of its own.

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