[an error occurred while processing this directive]
About
Content
Store
Forum

Rebirth of Reason
War
People
Archives
Objectivism

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unreadBack one pagePage 0Page 1Page 2Forward one pageLast Page


Post 20

Tuesday, December 9, 2003 - 9:09pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Honestly, Francois, no insult meant by this, and we really DO seem to be agreeing here (at least I think we are).
I honestly don't see how identifying your stated position could qualify as an "insult", and really, I honestly intended no such thing.
But here's what we have so far:

1. Do you acknowledge that there is a qualitative difference between the CAPACITY for particular knowledge (such as language), and the POTENTIAL FOR LEARNING that knowledge?

2. If so, then I don't see how you can claim (as you did in your first response), that "brain algorithms" qualify as knowledge. Honestly I may have misunderstood what you were trying to say, but your latest statements have been almost completely the opposite of what you said originally.

3. I honestly don't know if Jellyfish have emotions or not. To be honest, I've always found some of Rand's argumentation about the cognitive abilities of animals to be suspect, myself (at least as far as the "higher animals" such as dogs and primates. (I'm not trying to say there isn't a significant (one might even say fundamental) difference between other animals and humans, in this regard, but you get where I'm going here.

So what I want to know is: by denying "tabula rasa", are you trying to say that humans possess some sort of inborn knowledge? Remember, Francois: a POTENTIAL CAPACITY does not equal an ACTUAL capacity.
The mere fact that I can learn something does NOT mean that I "already know", much less that I "already knew" before I was born.

Anyway, I really hope this discussion thread is not going to degenerate into name-calling and insults, (much less thinly veiled threats). I do not take such things "in stride" either.
I would also think that as fellow Objectivists, we are both BETTER than all of that.



Post 21

Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 7:01amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
"I honestly don't see how identifying your stated position could qualify as an "insult""

*sigh*


"1. Do you acknowledge that there is a qualitative difference between the CAPACITY for particular knowledge (such as language), and the POTENTIAL FOR LEARNING that knowledge?"

Yes.


"2. If so, then I don't see how you can claim (as you did in your first response), that "brain algorithms" qualify as knowledge."

That's a non sequitur. As I said before, you're trying to use adult capacities as a benchmark for knowledge. But certainly you agree that without these parts of the brain, monkeys and apes (and proto-man) would not survive against predators.


"3. I honestly don't know if Jellyfish have emotions or not."

Me neither.


"So what I want to know is: by denying "tabula rasa", are you trying to say that humans possess some sort of inborn knowledge?"

Yes, that's what I've been saying. Although I'm starting to think our differences are purely semantic. We don't seem to disagree about anything ontological.

I'm probably wrong. (^_______^)


"I would also think that as fellow Objectivists, we are both BETTER than all of that."

Well, of course. We have no reason to hate each other - we're on the same side of the culture war. My brother ! (^_____^)



Post 22

Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 10:52amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Semantic? Yes, that sounds about right. No offense meant in any of this, we just seem to have misunderstood one another's positions.
Quite good fun, however, debating it, wouldn't you say?
Have a good day, Francois!



Post 23

Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 12:53pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
I guess it all comes from the word "knowledge", eh ? Natural processes are just as good for accumulating information as sentient beings (albeit a lot slower). And that information informs our actions !

I consider that knowledge, but obviously you disagree ? No matter, we all agree about reality, however we call it !

The only important point, is that we must agree that genetics is very important and that the individual is not a "tabula rasa" whose attributes are majoritarily attributable to education and environmental factors. Once we agree, then there is no difference. And of course we both agree that we have free will, and that genetics is not an excuse !



Post 24

Monday, December 22, 2003 - 3:21pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
A year ago, Jason expressed problems with the objectivist epistemology. I would like to offer what appears to me as insight on this issue. An underlying issue here may be his choice of a standard (he appears to choose omniscience/infallibility as the standard – something Rand warned about).

On this issue, Jason said:
“According to most Western philosophers before Gettier, P knows that R iff:
1. R is true.
2. P believes R.
3. P is justified in believing R.

Does this mean that I can claim R is true today, but without contradiction claim R is false if sufficient evidence appears later?

Objectivism's traditional answer is yes. Given the context, R was true; given the new context, we know R is false. P knows R iff:
1. P believes R.
2. P is justified in believing R.

According to OPAR, one is justified in believing R iff
1. R coheres inside a system of concepts without contradiction
2. R identifies a fact of reality.
3. The constituent concepts of R can be reduced to the perceptual level.”

At this point, Jason expressed concern over “truth” changing through time. While this is actually impossible (all truth is immutable), I would like to stress that the very point that he had trouble with (the “context” changing) is at least indirectly responsible for the moral and scientific progress that we have enjoyed in the last few centuries (thanks to a revival in Aristotelian metaphysics/epistemology). If we are to progress, we will need to “know what we know” in order to discernibly “build” on our body of knowledge. It is here that method (epistemology) is pivotal, and this is what the objectivist view has made explicit – the only “method” for progress.

John appeared to have insight on this point (that method is pivotal) when he said:

“This is a classic morality/practicality issue.

1. The Metaphysics - A is A (We all seem to agree on this, so... no problems here.)

2. How man's nature demands that his mind corresponds with the facts of reality to survive.

3. A man's life has value.”

My last point is a summary/analogy:
It is only because we acknowledge that context matters that we have direction forward. For instance, lets say that we find that water boils at 100 Celsius but that sea-water boils at 101 Celsius. In our efforts to gain understanding the difference in boiling-points noted, we know that water itself has not changed (identity is absolute), so we know immediately to question the context (the ADDITIONAL ingredients – ie. salts – are likely responsible for the change). This is much preferable to throwing out our conception of “knowing” a boiling-point for water and starting from scratch.

Ed



Post 25

Monday, December 22, 2003 - 4:27pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
A year ago, Jason expressed problems with the objectivist epistemology. I would like to offer what appears to me as insight on this issue. An underlying issue here may be his choice of a standard (he appears to choose omniscience/infallibility as the standard – something Rand warned about).

On this issue, Jason said:
“According to most Western philosophers before Gettier, P knows that R iff:
1. R is true.
2. P believes R.
3. P is justified in believing R.

Does this mean that I can claim R is true today, but without contradiction claim R is false if sufficient evidence appears later?

Objectivism's traditional answer is yes. Given the context, R was true; given the new context, we know R is false. P knows R iff:
1. P believes R.
2. P is justified in believing R.

According to OPAR, one is justified in believing R iff
1. R coheres inside a system of concepts without contradiction
2. R identifies a fact of reality.
3. The constituent concepts of R can be reduced to the perceptual level.”

At this point, Jason expressed concern over “truth” changing through time. While this is actually impossible (all truth is immutable), I would like to stress that the very point that he had trouble with (the “context” changing) is at least indirectly responsible for the moral and scientific progress that we have enjoyed in the last few centuries (thanks to a revival in Aristotelian metaphysics/epistemology). If we are to progress, we will need to “know what we know” in order to discernibly “build” on our body of knowledge. It is here that method (epistemology) is pivotal, and this is what the objectivist view has made explicit – the only “method” for progress.

John appeared to have insight on this point (that method is pivotal) when he said:

“This is a classic morality/practicality issue.

1. The Metaphysics - A is A (We all seem to agree on this, so... no problems here.)

2. How man's nature demands that his mind corresponds with the facts of reality to survive.

3. A man's life has value.”

My last point is a summary/analogy:
It is only because we acknowledge that context matters that we have direction forward. For instance, lets say that we find that water boils at 100 Celsius but that sea-water boils at 101 Celsius. In our efforts to gain understanding the difference in boiling-points noted, we know that water itself has not changed (identity is absolute), so we know immediately to question the context (the ADDITIONAL ingredients – ie. salts – are likely responsible for the change). This is much preferable to throwing out our conception of “knowing” a boiling-point for water and starting from scratch.

Ed



Post 26

Sunday, December 28, 2003 - 12:08pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
I enjoyed reading this thread. I would like to make some comments.

It seems that when discussing information that is highly dependant on reason and inference, it is vital to accurately define the terms we use, as it seems many people imply different meanings on those terms.

Quote: "a POTENTIAL CAPACITY does not equal an ACTUAL capacity".

This is a good example of a bad phrase. To me, the phrase 'potential capacity' is wrong. An entity either has some capacity or does not have it. It might potentially have some capacity, but there is no such thing as a potential capacity. 'Potential' here should modify the verb, hence the adverbial use is correct.

To say a human has a potential capacity for language is wrong. 'Potential' should be omitted or used as an adverb instead, as in saying humans potentially have a capacity for learning.

We can also use 'potential' as a noun, as in saying humans have the potential to speak language. These uses of the word 'potential' overlap somewhat, and illustrate nicely the linguistic semantec-barrier that must be overcome.

One might say humans have the potential to learn language. This has precisely the same meaning as saying humans have the capacity to learn language. In this sense, 'capacity' and the noun form of 'potential' are often interchangable. Care must be taken in this manner to bring the desired meaning across cleary.

Quote: "The most that you can say about these 'brain algorithms' is that they represent POTENTIAL CAPACITY."

As said above, 'potential capacity' here should be simply 'capacity'. A person can potentially learn language because they have the capacity to do so.

OK, enough of that. Now for some of Henry's questions.

Quote: "Do you acknowledge that there is a qualitative difference between the CAPACITY for particular knowledge (such as language), and the POTENTIAL FOR LEARNING that knowledge?"

It seems the difference here is that an entity with the capacity to learn language but missing the capacity for language will never master language, as they don't have the capacity for it (the capacity of having the knowledge).

An entity with the capacity for language but without the capacity to learn langauge could know language, but that knowledge wouldn't have been able to be got through learning.

In this regard I would say there is a qualitative difference.

Quote: `brain algorithms about humor, sexuality, sense perceptions, etc.": do those qualify as "knowledge?" In other words, are they LEARNED?'

This confuses me somewhat. Note the phrase 'brain algorithms about humour'. Is humour a brain algorithm? I haven't really thought about this. Certainly it seems we learn to judge what is funny, although I can't say that we learn how to laugh, or act if something is funny.

I can't think that animals have humour. Do they? Especially pursuant to the theory that we are descended from animals, animals should show some sign of humour, if it isn't learnt, as animals do show emotion (to some degree). I don't know that they show humour at all.

Here is a good example to think about. Examine your own response after reading it, and think about what part of it is learnt. Some readers might this funny, while others most likely won't find it funny at all. How much of your reaction is learnt?

Two cannibals are eating a clown. One of them says to the other: "Does this taste funny to you?"

Also to sexuality, now. I won't even try to accurately define sexuality, as it is to my mind a made up term, with no solid meaning. Using such a flippantly used term for such a question is misleading at best.

Now sense perceptions. I have never heard of a baby that didn't use their senses like sight and sound. Somehow we knew how to see. I don't see that we learned it necessarily. However, knowing how to blink, or wink, or such things certainly seems like knowledge. Receiving input from the eyes and ears, for example, is definitely not learnt. Our brain just recieves that information. We learn how to process it, and from this we learn to control our eyes, like their focus, angle, etc.

I would therefore say that sense perception isn't learnt. This is strictly related to the normal five sense our body possesses. This does not necessarily relate to any other methods of perceiving reality which might abound.

Our brain is most definitely programmed with automated behaviours and capacities. I don't believe we learn how to feel. However, we can choose how to act on such data.

Are they (sense perceptions) learned? No. Are they knowledge? I don't think so. We learn what they are, like eyes, etc. We don't learn how to receive that input though.

Quote: `"Brain algorithims" do NOT count as "innate knowledge" unless you accept the notion of "A priori knowledge".'

This seems quote a semantic distinction. Whether you call how we receive sensory information knowledge or not, they definitely exist 'a priori'. I don't see that they are knowledge, though, they are 'a priori faculties'.

When we dream, we do receive sensory information, in that a loud noise or some such can wake us up. When we are dead, they can't. Until we die we receive (our brain receives) sensory information, which is used to form knowledge.

Quote: `So what I want to know is: by denying "tabula rasa", are you trying to say that humans possess some sort of inborn knowledge?'

That depends on the same semantic distinction as was discussed, however we can take clue's from animals. There is no way that an animal is born a clean slate, it has much preprogrammed behaviour. Humans do too, for example how a human get's sexually aroused following some stimuli. If you want to call this knowledge, then it is 'a priori knowledge'. If you don't, it is an 'a priori faculty'.

I know Henry Emrich is away, so I won't expect a reply from him for a while yet.



Post 27

Friday, January 9, 2004 - 3:18pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
I don’t agree with Francois Tremblay that if you jab a man with a hot poker he will experience many of the same sensations such as heat, pressure and reaction by screaming. It depends on where you are jabbed, and both Francois and Peikoff have missed this point. A hot poker jabbing you in the anus is one thing, but jabbing you on the soul of your very thick heel is another. The last time I was poked in the ass with a hot poker I screamed my head off, but hardly even winced when my heel was poked. I know that, cognitively speaking, Francois likes a good poke now and then, but really, he should take more care in his analysis.



Post 28

Saturday, January 10, 2004 - 8:56amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Jermaine, listen. All Francois did was quote Henry Emrich. You should go away from this board and Liberty Forum, because you are not libertarian or Objectivist. Anything beyond that will see you completely banned anyway.

No harm done, but I can say, however, that I was amused by your pathetic attempts at slander. I still think you should leave.

Take your hot poker with you. (^_____^)



Post 29

Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 1:21pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
AAAAGH!
Vertigo: you raise some good points. I may get back to them when I have time, but I'm VERY busy right now....sorry if that inconveniences you.

Who the hell is "Jermaine?" Is he one of those pukes from back near Christmas?



Post 30

Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 1:27pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Quote: "Who the hell is Jermaine?"

Who cares?



Post 31

Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 2:32pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
"I don’t agree with Francois Tremblay that if you jab a man with a hot poker he will experience many of the same sensations such as heat, pressure and reaction by screaming. It depends on where you are jabbed, and both Francois and Peikoff have missed this point."

Could you please quote me saying that ?



Post 32

Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 4:10pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Jermaine is probably Michael's brother. What is the matter Jermaine, is the stress getting to you? If you want to talk about polkers in the butt, you should go talk to your little brother! Now go away from this board and never return.

(^_____^)



Post 33

Saturday, January 17, 2004 - 2:30amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Obviously Jermaine is just a typical troll, trying to disrupt this forum. He should be removed at once.

Oh, by the way, are you from Seattle by any chance ? Yes? Ah, then I know who you are !

Make it easy on yourself and begone troll, and take your anti-French ideas with you, before we take action. If you think that is a threat, you are right !



Post 34

Saturday, January 17, 2004 - 7:12pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Vertigo:
Time to reply to yout post! (aren't you glad?)

1. The distinction between "a priori knowledge" and "a priori faculty" is very definitely NOT merely semantic.
Follow me here:

There are certain structural aspects to humans, like say, that we have particular limbs that can move in a particular way. Our thumbs, for example. I wouldn't be able to legitimately claim the fact that my hands CAN perform the action of grasping (IE, are CAPABLE of it), as "knowing how" to grasp things.
Knowledge is learned, and based on experience (Even so-called "indirect" knowledge such as reading is dependent on the EXPERIENCE of having read the book.)

Also:
Humans infants ARE "blank slates" as far as knowing anything about the sensory input they DO recieve. (hence, for example, the fact that their "ability to see" evolves over time. From the blurry, unfocused stare of an infant (albeit with the 'inborn trigger' of shiny thigns and motion -- to the controlled, self-directed gaze of an adult, is a vast change (which is, likewise driven by LEARNED knowledge.
So no, in a very real sense, we DO "learn" how to use our senses (or at any rate, how to interpret the sensory stimuli.)


No mistakes like "ancestral memory" or any such things can be made, if we keep in mind your very apt distinction between "knowledge" and "abilities". We may be "able" to walk (in the sense that our bodies are physically capable of the motions neccesary), but unless we LEARN how to do it, we will not be able to do it.

So, to answer your question:
1. In every meaningful sense of the word, humans ARE born "tabula rasa". Everything we know MUST be learned. "instinctive" actions (such as the 'swimming' gestures of newborns, that fade out after a few days) are not 'learned', and do not count as 'knowledge' -- anymore than (to use another Peikoff example), a sand dune in the precise shape of the words "2 + 2 = 4" means that the beach "knows" mathematics.

Only the failure to distinguish between "capacities" and "knowledge", could allow somebody to claim that we "know" how to do things prior to learning them.



Post 35

Sunday, January 18, 2004 - 6:54amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
""instinctive" actions (such as the 'swimming' gestures of newborns, that fade out after a few days) are not 'learned', and do not count as 'knowledge' -- anymore than (to use another Peikoff example), a sand dune in the precise shape of the words "2 + 2 = 4" means that the beach "knows" mathematics."

Oh Henry, come on now, don't be ridiculous. The words on the sand dune are irrelevant and come from wind formations. The instincts in all animals come from millions of years of adaptation to their environment - information. Information about survival and reproductory success.

If you're going to argue for the anti-scientific "blank slate" position, at least try to pay lip service to science.



Post 36

Sunday, January 18, 2004 - 9:55amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
"Anti-scientific?" The whole field of "ancestral knowledge" is unscientific, if you want to know.
Sorry, but those adaptations do not count as "information" (any more than the large teeth on saber-toothed tigers counted as "information") They are (according to current evolutionary theory) structural flukes which HAPPENED to either be directly useful in the context of the animal's survival, or at least were not a direct IMPEDIMENT to that survival. To classify those instincts as "knowledge" is to fundamentally destroy the concept of "knowledge" entirely.
We had a dog when I was younger. The dog would sometimes (whe he went to lie down) spin around in a circle several times. Now, the veterenarian claimed that this was an "instinct which came in handy when the dog's ancestors dwelled on the grasslands -- they'd spin around, and trample the grass down. Fine, so far.
But does the fact that the animal engaged in that activity mean that it "knew" anything about grasslands? Domestic dogs obviously have never learned ANYTHING about grasslands, nor is there any useful reason for them to do it, and no external situation prompting it. It's a useless twitch, as far as domestic dogs are concerned, and has absolutely no relevance whatsoever.
I'm not even trying to deny 'instincts' neccesarily, but the idea that such 'unlearned' actions constitute a "knowledge" of any kind, undercuts the entire concept of "knowledge" at it's root.
If knowledge can be attained in some other way than throught the use of Reason (to LEARN or DEVISE it), then all bets are off. If knowledge can be gained some OTHER way than through reason, then what the hell are we all wasting our time HERE for?

The distinction you both fail to make, is between "information' and "knowledge". there's no 'informational content' whatsoever in animals' "instinctive" actions. "natural selection" just states that what doesn't actively contribute to getting the animal killed, will probably be passed down. (This could encompass anything from a 'useful' spasm such as the "dog turning around three times to crush grass down", or something as fundamentally pointless as "cats are afraid of water, even though they can swim perfectly well."

The "water phobia" of cats does NOT indicate that they "know" anything about water, much less that their "bodies know" something their brains do now. (If you assert it does, then you destroy the entire concept of "knowing", and the distinction between, for example, learning, and flatulence.
(Hey, if you want to take your take on it, I can say that my butt "knows" to expel a certain amount of gas at a certain time.)

Yeah right, I'm the 'unscientific' one (because I actually contend that knowledge must be LEARNED).

What's next, 'memories left over from past lives?" Damn....



Post 37

Sunday, January 18, 2004 - 10:18amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
"there's no 'informational content' whatsoever in animals' "instinctive" actions. "natural selection" just states that what doesn't actively contribute to getting the animal killed, will probably be passed down."

So there is no information in instincts, but instincts are information on survival and reproductory abilities ?

Keep spinning in circles, Henry...



Post 38

Sunday, January 18, 2004 - 5:04pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Franc, Franc, Franc....I'm not the one spinning in circles. All I said was that "instincts" which happen not to get the animal killed off, will probably be passed down. They don't count as "information" -- because the animal doesn't KNOW anything about them, or have to LEARN anything to indulge in them.
What, are you adovcating that we regard "evolution" as some sort of "super-organism", which uses individual animals to 'learn" things which it encodes in those animal's 'instincts?' How very scientology-like of you, Franc.

The idea that 'instincts' represent somehow that the animal 'knows" something about reality (which it didn't learn by experience), is pretty stupid.

But then, it has advantages, yeah. I can claim that whatever random flailing I do, if it mysteriously somewhat resembles tap-dancing, I can claim that my "body has an instinctive knowledge of tap-dancing steps."

If you don't seem the demarcation point between knowledge, and non-knowledge, then I can't hlep you out.

Fine. Next we tackle "past-life" memories.



Post 39

Sunday, January 18, 2004 - 6:08pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
"What, are you adovcating that we regard "evolution" as some sort of "super-organism", which uses individual animals to 'learn" things which it encodes in those animal's 'instincts?'"

No, I never claimed such a thing. Evolution is an impersonal force. The accumulation of information is done through impersonal forces.


"Next we tackle "past-life" memories."

There's no need for such grandstanding. I never claimed any belief in past-life memories, or past-life, or post-life. It has nothing to do with the issue of evolutionary adaptations.



Post to this threadBack one pagePage 0Page 1Page 2Forward one pageLast Page
[an error occurred while processing this directive]


User ID Password or create a free account.