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Old 05-27-2011, 09:02 AM   #1471
jay73
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The problem, as it were, is that you can essentially then "explain away" responsibility: one's actions are explainable via simpler rules, so in effect it goes from "he did it" to "<x> caused him to do it; he could not have done otherwise, because of <x>"
That would apply only if consciousness is narrowed to the extent that it falls back on a limited set of (literally) primitive patterns. Such a condition could originate in pathology or in physiological pressure (starvation, violence, ...) but those tend to be exceptions.
 
Old 05-27-2011, 09:04 AM   #1472
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Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
Straw man? Your previous post did clearly presume the existence of gaps:

To qualify what is filling the gaps as "metaphysical mumbo jumbo" presumes that:
1) they are really gaps
2) they can, should and will be filled in a scientific way instead
3) only scientific knowledge is real knowledge
A lot of presuppositions there.
The straw man was mis-characterizing the scientific position as "we do not know that it is any different, therefore it must be true".

1. I'm pretty sure it's uncontroversial to say there are gaps in our knowledge. There are things we know we don't know.

2. Science is a tool and a method. Which aspects of it do you find troubling? That hypotheses make predictions and be testable? Falsifiable? That experimental results are replicable?

3. Give me a meaningful definition of knowledge that doesn't involve evidence.
 
Old 05-27-2011, 09:16 AM   #1473
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1. I'm pretty sure it's uncontroversial to say there are gaps in our knowledge. There are things we know we don't know.
OK. we know we don't know - but apparently we know they must be knowable or they wouldn't count as gaps in knowledge. Again, how do you know they are knowable (and then I mean: in a scientific way).

Quote:
2. Science is a tool and a method. Which aspects of it do you find troubling? That hypotheses make predictions and be testable? Falsifiable? That experimental results are replicable?
The question I raised is not about the nature of science, let alone my opinion about it. The question is really where we can find the criterion - other than in the presuppositions of scientism - to arbiter between different types of knowledge.

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3. Give me a meaningful definition of knowledge that doesn't involve evidence.
"Circles are round"
"The square root of 4 is 2"
"Whatever is black is not white"
"This is what we call number one: 1"
"I know I am feeling cold right now (although the room is quite hot)."

Last edited by jay73; 05-27-2011 at 09:18 AM.
 
Old 05-27-2011, 09:35 AM   #1474
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Originally Posted by reed9 View Post
A flock of birds flying in perfect formation seems pretty astounding, and yet the rules underlying it are quite simple. There's lots of examples of complexity arising from humble beginnings. What's the problem?
That's just instinctive behaviour. Human beings aren't ruled by instinct. If humans had only relied on instinct, we'd still be living in caves. We create, we ask questions, we imagine, we can choose how we behave.
 
Old 05-27-2011, 09:38 AM   #1475
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Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
OK. we know we don't know - but apparently we know they must be knowable or they wouldn't count as gaps in knowledge. Again, how do you know they are knowable (and then I mean: in a scientific way).
We can know that we don't know what happened before the Big Bang without knowing whether we can know it, or whether "before" is even a meaningful word in the context. If we're going to investigate phenomena at all, we have to assume it is knowable, sure, but there's no reason to suppose that will be a correct assumption.


Quote:
The question I raised is not about the nature of science, let alone my opinion about it. The question is really where we can find the criterion - other than in the presuppositions of scientism - to arbiter between different types of knowledge.


"Circles are round"
"The square root of 4 is 2"
"Whatever is black is not white"
"This is what we call number one: 1"
"I know I am feeling cold right now (although the room is quite hot)."
All of these except that last are tautologies, true by definition. If I define a gru to be a unit of length three burbles long, then say look I have knowledge, three burbles equals one gru, it is only "true" in a trivial sense, but I haven't learned anything about the universe.

The last is subjective experience and, arguably, based on evidence, ie, sensory evidence of a feeling of chill. And while it may be personally relevant, it doesn't tell us much of interest about the universe, though it hints that the brain interprets or creates a model of the objective universe.
 
Old 05-27-2011, 09:40 AM   #1476
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Originally Posted by brianL View Post
That's just instinctive behaviour. Human beings aren't ruled by instinct. If humans had only relied on instinct, we'd still be living in caves. We create, we ask questions, we imagine, we can choose how we behave.
I've never understood this human conceit that any animal behavior is necessarily instinctive. Why can't a bird simply observe that it doesn't have to work as hard when it flies slightly behind and to the right or left of a partner?
 
Old 05-27-2011, 09:42 AM   #1477
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Originally Posted by brianL View Post
That's just instinctive behaviour. Human beings aren't ruled by instinct. If humans had only relied on instinct, we'd still be living in caves. We create, we ask questions, we imagine, we can choose how we behave.
Instinct vs. cognition is not really pertinent to my point. My point is there's nothing to suggest the complexity of thought or emotions is more than physical.
 
Old 05-27-2011, 09:48 AM   #1478
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Originally Posted by SL00b View Post
I've never understood this human conceit that any animal behavior is necessarily instinctive. Why can't a bird simply observe that it doesn't have to work as hard when it flies slightly behind and to the right or left of a partner?
And I suppose the bird at the head of the V formation is the one with the lowest IQ, too dumb to work that out? And next year, maybe the tail-enders will be the avian Einsteins, Shakespeares, and Wittgensteins?
 
Old 05-27-2011, 09:51 AM   #1479
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All of these except that last are tautologies, true by definition.
So? It doesn't prevent them from constituting a priori truths. If it isn't truth that makes something knowledge, what does? It seems you are mixing up two notions of tautology: the classical one (saying the same thing twice: a circle is a circle), which was considered nonsense, and the post-Kantian one (a circle is round), which is considered real knowledge.

Quote:
If I define a gru to be a unit of length three burbles long, then say look I have knowledge, three burbles equals one gru, it is only "true" in a trivial sense, but I haven't learned anything about the universe.
Sure you have. You have learned that your/the mind can invent, define and subdivide a gru. Or isn't your mind part of the universe?

Last edited by jay73; 05-27-2011 at 09:53 AM.
 
Old 05-27-2011, 10:18 AM   #1480
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Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
So? It doesn't prevent them from constituting a priori truths. If it isn't truth that makes something knowledge, what does? It seems you are mixing up two notions of tautology: the classical one (saying the same thing twice: a circle is a circle), which was considered nonsense, and the post-Kantian one (a circle is round), which is considered real knowledge.
More able philosophers of science than me have lodged the objection, starting I believe with Wittgenstein.

Regardless, even if you can in some very narrow sense call such a tautology real knowledge, how in the world does it help your case? Are those definitions really what you had in mind by claiming there are other ways to gain knowledge other than science?
 
Old 05-27-2011, 10:21 AM   #1481
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Originally Posted by brianL View Post
And I suppose the bird at the head of the V formation is the one with the lowest IQ, too dumb to work that out? And next year, maybe the tail-enders will be the avian Einsteins, Shakespeares, and Wittgensteins?
What, you think they don't shuffle other birds into the lead position?
 
Old 05-27-2011, 10:36 AM   #1482
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More able philosophers of science than me have lodged the objection, starting I believe with Wittgenstein.
That would be a misrepresentation of Wittgenstein. Young Wittgenstein was a logical positivist, which implies he recognized two sources of knowledge: analysis (tautologies) and empiricism. Not to mention later Wittgenstein, who went on to reject, in a way, empiricism as a source of real knowledge.

Quote:
Regardless, even if you can in some very narrow sense call such a tautology real knowledge, how in the world does it help your case? Are those definitions really what you had in mind by claiming there are other ways to gain knowledge other than science?
That sounds like you are trying to win by poisoning the well. Whether an idea has a practical use or not does not make it any less an idea. And since you wonder: I could include all philosophy or things like art or literature, too.
 
Old 05-27-2011, 10:39 AM   #1483
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Originally Posted by SL00b View Post
What, you think they don't shuffle other birds into the lead position?
Yeah, they might draw straws, or pick names out of a hat, before take off. And listen to weather reports, to see if they're grounded by volcanic ash.
 
Old 05-27-2011, 10:42 AM   #1484
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Out of chaos comes order, so therefore out of order must come chaos!!!!!!!!!
 
Old 05-27-2011, 10:43 AM   #1485
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"It takes chaos within to give birth to a dancing star" (Nietzsche)

Last edited by jay73; 05-27-2011 at 10:51 AM.
 
  


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