Thread: Logical Positivism

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  1. #61
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    Well. So you really want me to (re)read the holy scriptures.

    A few observations and questions:

    first, this text starts by an explanation and affirmation of a verification principle - or tenet #1 of logical positivism. Then it makes quite clear that it adheres to tenet #3 of logical positivism - that metaphysics are non-sence. It doesn't deal on matters relative to tenet #2, so it is impossible to know if its author adheres to such tenet - it remains as an open possibility.

    So, and considering that we have to reject tenet #4 as unrepresentative of logical positivism, where exactly does the above text depart from logical positivism?

    second, the text contains a few illogicalities and oversimplifications that are worth being pointed. One clear oversimplification is its rigid division of indicative senteces between "empyrical" and "metaphysical".

    Here are two examples the text gives us:

    1. To be is to be perceived. (metaphysical)
    2. Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital. (empyrical)

    Those sentences certainly fall into the categories ascribed to them. But this is often not the case. Take for instance:

    3. It is impossible to build a perpetuum mobile.
    4. The Sun is made of fire.
    5. Tony Blair is a Marxist.

    None of them is actually metaphysical - but all of them present evident difficulties to be classified as empyrical (3. independs of direct empyrical verification to be held as true, 4. seems to change its status historically, as empyrical evidence about the matter of which the Sun is made was impossible to obtain in 1800 but is commonplace today, and 5. depends on the definition of a quite complex term - "Marxist" - that is much more difficult to "understand" than "owns a copy of Das Kapital", and so may be empyrical or metaphysical depending on the definition of "Marxist" we are using).

    An also quite clear illogicality - or perhaps even a sophism - is the discussion of Lenin's assertion that "motion without matter is unthinkable". It is held that, since Lenin obviously thought the words "motion without matter", he has contradicted himself, showing that it is perfectly possible to thin "motion without matter". But this is clearly an invalid reasoning. The use of the words "motion without matter" doesn't actually imply thinking motion without matter. The example of sentence 3. above may explain what I am saying. A similar idea can be expressed by

    6. A functioning perpetuum mobile is unthinkable.

    If we follow the text, we will exclaim, "but you have just thought of a functioning perpetuum mobile! You have just used those precise words!" What happens, though, is that when I think the words "functioning perpetuum mobile" I am not actually thinking of a functioning perpetuum mobile. Indeed, any machine of that kind that I - or anybody else - can think of is either not functioning or not a perpetuum mobile (or, more probably, neither). So while I can utter the words "functioning perpetuum mobile", I am at most thinking of the words, not of the actual thing. Same goes for "triangular circle", "the opposite side of a Moebius strip", or "a man who is his own father". And so the text incurs in a conflation between two things that a correct analysis easily shows are different.

    Luís Henrique
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  3. #62
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    The point is that, at least by what Rosa wrote, you have to understand the sentence before you can determine if it's true or false, or whatever evidence would can be used to determine such. The responses you gave (e.g. no direct evidence of the sun being fire was available before 1800 or whether Tony Blair is a Marxist depends on what is meant by "Marxist") is a suggestion of what would constitute evidence to support or not support the examples you gave. If you didn't understand the examples you gave, you wouldn't even be able to do that. Period.

    And so the text incurs in a conflation between two things that a correct analysis easily shows are different.
    What conflation and where are you seeing it supposedly?
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    I am wondering about the sentence "Every sister had at least one brother or sister." Should this be considered Metaphysical?
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    The point is that, at least by what Rosa wrote, you have to understand the sentence before you can determine if it's true or false, or whatever evidence would can be used to determine such.
    Certainly, but then to Rosa you can only understand the sentence if it refers to something empyrically observable. But what is "empyrically observable"?

    The responses you gave (e.g. no direct evidence of the sun being fire was available before 1800 or whether Tony Blair is a Marxist depends on what is meant by "Marxist") is a suggestion of what would constitute evidence to support or not support the examples you gave.
    Problem is, before 1800 there was no means of knowing what the sun was made of. And so, either that was a metaphysical sentence that changed into an empyrical sentence due to technological advance, or the metaphysical quality of a sentence depends on a quite expanded notion of "empyrical testing".

    If you didn't understand the examples you gave, you wouldn't even be able to do that.
    Well, evidently previous to Lavoisier nobody actually understood what fire is. I take that all sentences containing the word "fire" were meaningless up to Priestley? Or what is actually meant here by "understanding"?

    What conflation and where are you seeing it supposedly?
    I think I explained it quite well.

    Can you think of the fourth side of a triangle?

    Luís Henrique
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    Certainly, but then to Rosa you can only understand the sentence if it refers to something empyrically observable. But what is "empyrically observable"?
    Where are you getting that from? Be specific.

    Problem is, before 1800 there was no means of knowing what the sun was made of.[...]
    Like I said, if you didn't understand the example you gave you wouldn't even be able to respond in that manner. Period.

    I think I explained it quite well.
    Evidently not.

    Can you think of the fourth side of a triangle?
    If I recall Rosa made such arguments before.
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  7. #66
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    Where are you getting that from? Be specific.
    Here:

    In contrast, understanding T1 is independent of its confirmation or disconfirmation. Indeed, it would be impossible to do either of these if T1 had not already been understood. Plainly, the actual truth/falsehood of T1-type propositions follows from the way the world happens to be, and is not solely based on the meaning of certain expressions. Their truth cannot be read-off from the words they contain, unlike T2- and T3-type sentences.
    See? A non-metaphysical sentence is an empyrical sentence, ie, a sentence that refers to something observable.

    Like I said, if you didn't understand the example you gave you wouldn't even be able to respond in that manner.
    Well?

    The point stands. If you need to "understand" what you are talking about to produce meaningful sentences, then all sentences about fire before Lavoisier would be meaningless.

    Unless, of course, the word "understand" has more than one meaning.

    Period.
    Can you please stop that? If you don't want to discuss, stop discussing, but claiming victory in such way is really irritating.

    Evidently not.
    Well, what haven't you been able to understand?

    Thinking about some thing is quite different from thinking words that would refer to that thing. Rosa conflates those things, and, so, tells us that, because Lenin wrote the words "motion without matter", he actually thought about motion without matter.

    If I recall Rosa made such arguments before.
    Maybe, but I am not talking to Rosa, and I frankly don't care if she made such argument or not. Either you can think about the fourth side of a triangle, or you can't. If you can, then explain me what it is. If you can't, then how can you utter the words, "fourth side of the triangle"?

    (It is, evidently, because you can say those words without actually thinking of their self-contradictory "meaning".)

    Luís Henrique
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    ruling-class view of reality
    i doubt that the "ruling class" thinks hardly at all about such things as the nature of time. moreover, class position by itself cannot determine beliefs. that is the worst sort of vulgar Marxism.

    and if time being merely a relation between events were so obviously true, why is there historically a controversy in philosophy over exactly this point? there are those who hold that there are absolute times, and those who hold that there are not.

    also, the claim that there are sentences whose truth "follows from the meaning of the words" is no longer an idea that is uncontroversial in philosophy since Quine's attacks on the analytic/synthetic distinction back in the '60s.

    what does it mean to say the truth of a sentence follows from the meaning of the words? if the sentence is true, then there needs to be something in the world that makes it true or in virtue of which it is true. This is inconsistent with saying the sentence is "nonsensical." if it's "nonsensical" it can't be true, and if it's not true, it's not "true in virtue of the meaning of the words."
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    See? A non-metaphysical sentence is an empyrical sentence, ie, a sentence that refers to something observable.
    And you're absolutely sure "empirical sentence" refers to observability in the way Rosa was using it?

    The point stands. If you need to "understand" what you are talking about to produce meaningful sentences, then all sentences about fire before Lavoisier would be meaningless.
    You said "problem is, before 1800 there was no means of knowing what the sun was made of," so evidently the problem is of "knowing" and not "understanding." It's called different standards of what constitutes "knowing something." We could just as well say that they knew the sun was made of fire but for the wrong reasons because if they didn't know (in any sense of the word), they wouldn't have been able to suggested it.

    Can you please stop that? If you don't want to discuss, stop discussing, but claiming victory in such way is really irritating.
    I said it because it is the case. If you didn't understand your example, you wouldn't even been able to bring up the fact that people before the 1800s knew the sun was made of fire. You'd say something along the lines of "I don't understand this sentence."

    Well, what haven't you been able to understand?

    Thinking about some thing is quite different from thinking words that would refer to that thing. Rosa conflates those things, and, so, tells us that, because Lenin wrote the words "motion without matter", he actually thought about motion without matter.
    And what would this "thinking about some thing" consist of, if it's evidently different from "thinking words that would refer to the thing"?

    Maybe, but I am not talking to Rosa, and I frankly don't care if she made such argument or not. Either you can think about the fourth side of a triangle, or you can't. If you can, then explain me what it is. If you can't, then how can you utter the words, "fourth side of the triangle"?
    Because there's a difference between a visualization and a thought. You can think "four sided triangle," but not visualize it.
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  11. #69
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    Well. So you really want me to (re)read the holy scriptures.
    No. Thats a very basic summary. If you have trouble with it, I can't help you.

    A few observations and questions:

    first, this text starts by an explanation and affirmation of a verification principle - or tenet #1 of logical positivism. Then it makes quite clear that it adheres to tenet #3 of logical positivism - that metaphysics are non-sence. It doesn't deal on matters relative to tenet #2, so it is impossible to know if its author adheres to such tenet - it remains as an open possibility.
    1. What verification principle? Where does it argue that there must be empirical verification?
    2. Wrong sort of non-sense. Try again.
    3. No, the author does not.


    second, the text contains a few illogicalities and oversimplifications that are worth being pointed. One clear oversimplification is its rigid division of indicative senteces between "empyrical" and "metaphysical".

    Here are two examples the text gives us:

    1. To be is to be perceived. (metaphysical)
    2. Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital. (empyrical)

    Those sentences certainly fall into the categories ascribed to them. But this is often not the case. Take for instance:

    3. It is impossible to build a perpetuum mobile.
    4. The Sun is made of fire.
    5. Tony Blair is a Marxist.

    None of them is actually metaphysical - but all of them present evident difficulties to be classified as empyrical (3. independs of direct empyrical verification to be held as true, 4. seems to change its status historically, as empyrical evidence about the matter of which the Sun is made was impossible to obtain in 1800 but is commonplace today, and 5. depends on the definition of a quite complex term - "Marxist" - that is much more difficult to "understand" than "owns a copy of Das Kapital", and so may be empyrical or metaphysical depending on the definition of "Marxist" we are using).
    Actually no, two of those are empirical propositions.

    1. The first is an example of a scientific rule. It is of the class of non-sense that states rules. It is a type of non-sense that shows something about the world.
    2. The second is an emprical proposition because it can be true or false and an account can be given on the conditions by which it can be known. No need to verify it.
    3. The third is an empirical proposition because we can give an account of the world in which it is possible for Tony Blair to be a Marxist without having to change the definition of Marxism. It just so happens to be false.


    An also quite clear illogicality - or perhaps even a sophism - is the discussion of Lenin's assertion that "motion without matter is unthinkable". It is held that, since Lenin obviously thought the words "motion without matter", he has contradicted himself, showing that it is perfectly possible to thin "motion without matter". But this is clearly an invalid reasoning. The use of the words "motion without matter" doesn't actually imply thinking motion without matter.
    You obviously thought it when you wrote it down. Please tell me, how do you say it without thinking it?

    The example of sentence 3. above may explain what I am saying. A similar idea can be expressed by

    6. A functioning perpetuum mobile is unthinkable.

    If we follow the text, we will exclaim, "but you have just thought of a functioning perpetuum mobile! You have just used those precise words!" What happens, though, is that when I think the words "functioning perpetuum mobile" I am not actually thinking of a functioning perpetuum mobile. Indeed, any machine of that kind that I - or anybody else - can think of is either not functioning or not a perpetuum mobile (or, more probably, neither). So while I can utter the words "functioning perpetuum mobile", I am at most thinking of the words, not of the actual thing. Same goes for "triangular circle", "the opposite side of a Moebius strip", or "a man who is his own father". And so the text incurs in a conflation between two things that a correct analysis easily shows are different.

    Luís Henrique
    This is a bad analogy. You have confused a scientific rule with a metaphysical proposition.
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    And you're absolutely sure "empirical sentence" refers to observability in the way Rosa was using it?
    Haven't you read the text?

    You said "problem is, before 1800 there was no means of knowing what the sun was made of," so evidently the problem is of "knowing" and not "understanding." It's called different standards of what constitutes "knowing something." We could just as well say that they knew the sun was made of fire but for the wrong reasons because if they didn't know (in any sense of the word), they wouldn't have been able to suggested it.
    So "knowing" and "understanding" are different things? Can you perhaps explain us what the difference is?

    Actually, that was my point: "knowledge" or "understanding" are complex notions, and each of these words covers many different though related meanings. Everyone from the palaeolythical on "knew" what fire was and even "understood" it in a sence. But only in the late 18th century there was scientific "knowledge" or scientific "understanding" of what fire is.

    And no, it isn't always true that you must even know what something is to have empyrical proof that it is the case. Suppose that a thousand years in the future, archaelogists discover a list of Tony Blair possessions. Among many other items, there is one called "copy of Das Kapital". Now, in this hypothetical future, no one knows what Das Kapital is. But now they empyrically know that a man called Tony Blair owned a copy of something they don't know what it is.

    (And, please, do you actually think the Sun is made of fire?)

    I said it because it is the case. If you didn't understand your example, you wouldn't even been able to bring up the fact that people before the 1800s knew the sun was made of fire. You'd say something along the lines of "I don't understand this sentence."
    If I didn't "understand" or if I didn't "know"?

    And what would this "thinking about some thing" consist of, if it's evidently different from "thinking words that would refer to the thing"?
    Can you actually think of "motion without matter"? If there is motion, what is moving?

    Because there's a difference between a visualization and a thought. You can think "four sided triangle," but not visualize it.
    So, if your math teacher asks you, "think of a triangle", do you think the word triangle or do you imagine the actual shape?

    You can say "four sided triangle", but you cannot explain what it is - so you can think the words, but you cannot think of the supposed geometrical shape. It is in this way that Lenin meant "unthinkable" - it may not be the best choice of words, but it certainly doesn't turn his thought into impenetrable metaphysics.

    Luís Henrique
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    No. Thats a very basic summary. If you have trouble with it, I can't help you.
    Of course you can't; you don't understand it any better than I do.


    1. What verification principle? Where does it argue that there must be empirical verification?
    2. Wrong sort of non-sense. Try again.
    3. No, the author does not.

    Of course it argues for a verification principle. Very clearly indeed.

    Actually no, two of those are empirical propositions.
    Well, of course. Actually the three of them are.

    1. The first is an example of a scientific rule. It is of the class of non-sense that states rules. It is a type of non-sense that shows something about the world.
    2. The second is an emprical proposition because it can be true or false and an account can be given on the conditions by which it can be known. No need to verify it.
    3. The third is an empirical proposition because we can give an account of the world in which it is possible for Tony Blair to be a Marxist without having to change the definition of Marxism. It just so happens to be false.
    So the first sentence is non-sence but tells us something about the world? But, if it makes no sence, how can it say something meaningful about the world?

    The second sentence is empyrical, but this is not trivial.

    You say it is empyrical because it can be true or false, but this is not the case. It can be true or false because it is empyrical, ie, because you can devise an experiment to test its truthness. But the problem is, do you have to devise an experiment that is actually practicable, or just imagining an experiment however impracticable is enough?

    Because if the latter, then a sentence like "there is something like life after death" may well be an empyrical sentence - and I think you agree with me that this clearly is not the case.

    You obviously thought it when you wrote it down. Please tell me, how do you say it without thinking it?
    I thought of the words, evidently. But this is very different of thinking about what the words mean. If you try to think of what "motion without matter" means, you will see that you cannot come up with anything.

    This is a bad analogy. You have confused a scientific rule with a metaphysical proposition.
    So what is the scientific rule and what is the scientific rule? As far as I see, the four phrases mentioned in that paragraph, namely, "functioning perpetuum mobile", "triangular circle", "the opposite side of a Moebius strip", and "a man who is his own father" are neither scientific rules nor metaphysical propositions. One of them is a practical impossibility, the other three are logical contradictions.

    Luís Henrique
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    Haven't you read the text?
    Have you? She wrote that people can still understand the sentence "Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital" without knowing whether or not it's true. And given that you've suggested earlier that the only way to understand/know something is through direct observation...

    So "knowing" and "understanding" are different things? Can you perhaps explain us what the difference is?
    The words may mean the same thing or not, depending on how they are used. If I knew that there is such a thing as fusion, but couldn't explain, e.g. what it is, how it's used, who are the major people responsible for it, its history, etc., we'd normally say either that I don't know anything about it or I don't understand it. " It's not so much the difference between "knowing" and "understanding," but of knowing X is the case and explaining, e.g., what X is or why X is the case.

    Everyone from the palaeolythical on "knew" what fire was and even "understood" it in a sence. But only in the late 18th century there was scientific "knowledge" or scientific "understanding" of what fire is.
    What does "having a scientific understanding" of what fire is have to do with using the word meaningfully at any point in history?

    And no, it isn't always true that you must even know what something is to have empyrical proof that it is the case. [...]
    What if the hypothesis was that Tony Blair owned a book by Karl Marx? You'd have to know that "Das Kapital" is a book and that it was written by Karl Marx for the list of possessions including "Das Kapital" to be counted as empirical evidence (not proof) to support your hypothesis. The only reason your example works is because you pre-suppose they know what a list of possessions is. If they didn't, they wouldn't even know that the man owned anything.

    (And, please, do you actually think the Sun is made of fire?)
    I was only using your example.

    If I didn't "understand" or if I didn't "know"?
    Well, if they mean the same thing in this context, I don't see the point in asking.

    Can you actually think of "motion without matter"? If there is motion, what is moving?
    Do you mean the words or the thing? Because the former involves thinking and the other visualizing. Like I said, you can think "motion without matter" but whether or not you can visualize it is a different question.

    So, if your math teacher asks you, "think of a triangle", do you think the word triangle or do you imagine the actual shape?
    Even if I did imagine the shape, it'd still be a visualization and not a thought. Unless you're referring to something like a description of a triangle.

    You can say "four sided triangle", but you cannot explain what it is - so you can think the words, but you cannot think of the supposed geometrical shape. It is in this way that Lenin meant "unthinkable" - it may not be the best choice of words, but it certainly doesn't turn his thought into impenetrable metaphysics.
    And how do you know this is what Lenin was thinking? We have no empirical evidence (by your standards) of a thought process outside of the words used to express them. You can't very well ask him what he meant.
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    Have you? She wrote that people can still understand the sentence "Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital" without knowing whether or not it's true. And given that you've suggested earlier that the only way to understand/know something is through direct observation...
    Oh, good grief.

    You can know whether Tony Blair owns or not a copy of Das Kapital without knowing what a copy of Das Kapital is. You can also understand the question, "does Tony Blair own a copy of Das Kapital?" without knowing if he owns one or not.

    But what the text makes clear is that the fact that we can understand the question is a consequence of the fact that there is (or that we can imagine, I suppose) an empyrical test for the question.

    In that, I can't see it departing in any way from logical positivism.

    The words may mean the same thing or not, depending on how they are used. If I knew that there is such a thing as fusion, but couldn't explain, e.g. what it is, how it's used, who are the major people responsible for it, its history, etc., we'd normally say either that I don't know anything about it or I don't understand it. " It's not so much the difference between "knowing" and "understanding," but of knowing X is the case and explaining, e.g., what X is or why X is the case.
    Exactly. The words can be used as synonims, and they can be used in contrasting meanings.

    What if the hypothesis was that Tony Blair owned a book by Karl Marx? You'd have to know that "Das Kapital" is a book and that it was written by Karl Marx for the list of possessions including "Das Kapital" to be counted as empirical evidence (not proof) to support your hypothesis. The only reason your example works is because you pre-suppose they know what a list of possessions is. If they didn't, they wouldn't even know that the man owned anything.
    Evidently. These things would have to be analysed case by case. If they didn't know what a list of possessions is, they would learn very little from it, except perhaps that a copy of Das Kapital (like perhaps a house, a car, etc) is something that can be listed under a list of possessions. If they didn't understand the concept of "ownership", they wouldn't be able to know what a list of possessions is, beyond the fact that it is a list of material objects - and even that even if they knew what a car, a house, etc., are material objects.

    You can know things in the sence you know they exist or existed, without knowing exactly what they are or were (for instance, Greek fire or sylphium). If you don't understand this fact - that knowledge doesn't imply a clear cut distinction between knowing and not knowing, you won't be able to put up any reasonable epistemology.

    Do you mean the words or the thing? Because the former involves thinking and the other visualizing. Like I said, you can think "motion without matter" but whether or not you can visualize it is a different question.
    I mean that thinking the words is a different thing from thinking the thing. Evidently, as a triangle is a shape, thinking of it involves a visualisation. But there are examples that don't depend on visualisation. You can certainly think the words "John is his own father", or "John is the father of his own mother", but you certainly can't think of such relations in any meaningful way, other than they are impossible or self-contradictory. The distinction between "thinking" and "visualising" would not hold here.

    Even if I did imagine the shape, it'd still be a visualization and not a thought. Unless you're referring to something like a description of a triangle.
    The issue is that a phrase like "the fourth side of a triangle" makes no sence because the definition of a triangle is that it is a geometrical shape with only three sides, and no more than that. If it has a fourth side, then it is not a triangle. This is the only way to think consequently on this subject. It shows that there is a third category of sentences, which are neither "empyrical" nor "metaphysical".

    And how do you know this is what Lenin was thinking? We have no empirical evidence (by your standards) of a thought process outside of the words used to express them. You can't very well ask him what he meant.
    Let's have a look on the seventh and last proposition of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus:

    Originally Posted by Wittgenstein
    Whereof one cannot speak, one must pass over in silence.
    You see that he uses the phrase "whereof one cannot speak". But he is refering to things that can be spoken of; that is indeed his point. Whereof one cannot speak [in a meaningful way], on must [so not to talk gibberish] pass over in silence. According to Rosa's "method", however, Wittgenstein's sentence is foolery, because of course we can very well speak of God, the unthinkable, the anihillatory qualities of Nothing, life after death, the identity between being and being perceived, the identity between being and not being, etc, etc, etc.

    Just like Wittgenstein says 'one cannot speak' about things that are, if anything, overspoken through the history of philosophy, Lenin says 'it is unthinkable' when he quite certainly means 'it cannot be thought about in a meaningful way'. And this is a widespread way to use the word "unthinkable". Making a whole phylosophic point out of the fact that Lenin thought the phrase while saying that its referent is "unthinkable", frankly, is just specious, sophistic reasoning.

    As we would normally expect of its author.

    Luís Henrique
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    Oh, good grief.

    You can know whether Tony Blair owns or not a copy of Das Kapital without knowing what a copy of Das Kapital is.
    And what would this consist of?

    But what the text makes clear is that the fact that we can understand the question is a consequence of the fact that there is (or that we can imagine, I suppose) an empyrical test for the question.
    Where are you getting that from? Point out the exact place in the text that you are getting this from and then demonstrate why you're interpretation is correct.

    Evidently. These things would have to be analysed case by case. If they didn't know what a list of possessions is, they would learn very little from it, except perhaps that a copy of Das Kapital (like perhaps a house, a car, etc) is something that can be listed under a list of possessions. If they didn't understand the concept of "ownership", they wouldn't be able to know what a list of possessions is, beyond the fact that it is a list of material objects - and even that even if they knew what a car, a house, etc., are material objects.
    That's the wonderful thing about hypothetical reasoning: you can make anything up to support your case.

    You can know things in the sence you know they exist or existed, without knowing exactly what they are or were (for instance, Greek fire or sylphium).
    That's what I've been saying.

    I mean that thinking the words is a different thing from thinking the thing.
    And what do these two actions consist of?

    Evidently, as a triangle is a shape, thinking of it involves a visualisation.
    Depends on what "thinking of it" consists of. Geometric proofs involving triangles don't have to depend upon pictures of anything.

    But there are examples that don't depend on visualisation. You can certainly think the words "John is his own father", or "John is the father of his own mother", but you certainly can't think of such relations in any meaningful way, other than they are impossible or self-contradictory. The distinction between "thinking" and "visualising" would not hold here.
    "Thinking" involves something like an internal monologue, whereas "visualizing" involves pictures (even if they have something like a caption beneath them).

    The issue is that a phrase like "the fourth side of a triangle" makes no sence because the definition of a triangle is that it is a geometrical shape with only three sides, and no more than that. If it has a fourth side, then it is not a triangle. This is the only way to think consequently on this subject. It shows that there is a third category of sentences, which are neither "empyrical" nor "metaphysical".
    If you didn't understand the phrase "four sided triangle," you wouldn't have responded with the definition of a triangle and the assertion that it's impossible.

    Let's have a look on the seventh and last proposition of Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus:

    You see that he uses the phrase "whereof one cannot speak". But he is refering to things that can be spoken of; that is indeed his point. Whereof one cannot speak [in a meaningful way], on must [so not to talk gibberish] pass over in silence. According to Rosa's "method", however, Wittgenstein's sentence is foolery, because of course we can very well speak of God, the unthinkable, the anihillatory qualities of Nothing, life after death, the identity between being and being perceived, the identity between being and not being, etc, etc, etc.

    Just like Wittgenstein says 'one cannot speak' about things that are, if anything, overspoken through the history of philosophy, Lenin says 'it is unthinkable' when he quite certainly means 'it cannot be thought about in a meaningful way'. And this is a widespread way to use the word "unthinkable". Making a whole phylosophic point out of the fact that Lenin thought the phrase while saying that its referent is "unthinkable", frankly, is just specious, sophistic reasoning.
    And how do you know Lenin meant this?
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    Of course you can't; you don't understand it any better than I do.
    Ahhh, so if you don't get it nobody does.

    Of course it argues for a verification principle. Very clearly indeed.
    Where?

    Well, of course. Actually the three of them are.
    No, two of them are. An empirical proposition is one that asserts something that is either true or false, for which an account of the world can be given in which it can be true.

    One of them is a rule. Rules are neither true or false, just good or bad.

    So the first sentence is non-sence but tells us something about the world? But, if it makes no sence, how can it say something meaningful about the world?
    Because non-sense is defined in the Wittgensteinian sense. A statement is non-sense if no account can be given as to how the world would have to be for it to be true or false. There are two types of non-sense.

    1. Metaphysical statements are non-sense because they claim to be necessarily true, but can only be true by definition. Basically, this statement is true based solely on the meanings of the words used; the only way for it to be false is to redefine the subject of the proposition.
    2. Rules are non-sense because they can not be true or false. They are only useful or unuseful. These propositions give an account as to how to view the world. They show something about the world.


    The second sentence is empyrical, but this is not trivial.

    You say it is empyrical because it can be true or false, but this is not the case. It can be true or false because it is empyrical, ie, because you can devise an experiment to test its truthness. But the problem is, do you have to devise an experiment that is actually practicable, or just imagining an experiment however impracticable is enough?
    That is not the definition of an empirical proposition. You do not need an experiment to test its truth. You just need to be able to give an account of a state of affairs for which this is would be true.

    Because if the latter, then a sentence like "there is something like life after death" may well be an empyrical sentence - and I think you agree with me that this clearly is not the case.
    No, the statement that "there is something like life after death" is a metaphysical proposition.

    I thought of the words, evidently. But this is very different of thinking about what the words mean. If you try to think of what "motion without matter" means, you will see that you cannot come up with anything.
    But the same is true of "motion with matter". The statement that you make is true based purely on the meanings of the words. Thus it is non-sense.

    So what is the scientific rule and what is the scientific rule? As far as I see, the four phrases mentioned in that paragraph, namely, "functioning perpetuum mobile", "triangular circle", "the opposite side of a Moebius strip", and "a man who is his own father" are neither scientific rules nor metaphysical propositions. One of them is a practical impossibility, the other three are logical contradictions.

    Luís Henrique
    Those are phrases, not propositions. If you were paying attention you would know that this deals only with propositions, not phrases.
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    I am wondering about the sentence "Every sister had at least one brother or sister." Should this be considered Metaphysical?
    No, it is grammatical. There is a prevalent tendency to consider the function of statements to be solely descriptive, while in their utterances they are understood in relation to everyone else's usage of the terms involved, ie. grammar. This is where the 'life' of a sentence derives. So a declarative sentence not only forms a description, it also qualifies. The example above is a statement about what qualifies the term "sister", if to some degree misshapen.
    Last edited by Meridian; 17th April 2011 at 15:29.
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    Thank you. I think you're right, it is grammatical and it is "misshapen." It is shaped like a descriptive sentence about the world that disguises the grammatical nature.

    The sentence "A sister is a female having the same parents as another or one parent in common with another" is clearly grammatical (definitional). This sentence resembles the sentence, "Every cat has whiskers." This is a sentence that is descriptive and could be verified by gathering every cat and checking for whiskers.

    The sentence "Every sister had at least one brother or sister," seems to be similar in that we could gather every sister and check to see if they had a brother or sister." In the first case, we could find a cat without whiskers, so the sentence could be proved false; however, in the second case gathering every sister would be a waste of time, as one could not find one who had not had a sibling.
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    Ahhh, so if you don't get it nobody does.
    Well, no.

    I am quite acquainted and comfortable with the idea that there are subjects that other people understand better - even much better - than me.

    When I ask about those subjects to people who supposedly understand them better than me, however, I expect one of the following:


    • an actual explanation of the subject, even if dumbed down so that a layman like me can understand it;
    • an explanation of why it is impossible to explain it in simple words to someone who doesn't understand some prerequisites ("I can't explain calculus to you if you don't know what a function is")
    • a reference to some well established authority in the field.

    When I ask questions to you about this subject, however, I instead get things like:


    • You are dumb;
    • It is obvious, so it doesn't need to be explained;
    • I don't want to explain it to you;
    • I can't explain it to you unless you believe in it first;
    • Read Rosa Lichtenstein.

    The first four of which are quite certain marks of charlatanism - and the fifth would depend of the status of Rosa Lichtenstein as an "authority in the field". As my personal experience with her is that she, again, can only retort with


    • You are dumb;
    • It is obvious, so it doesn't need to be explained;
    • I don't want to explain it to you;
    • I can't explain it to you unless you believe in it first;
    • Read Rosa Lichtenstein,

    and as my reading of her (in)famous articles shows me that she depends on several illogicalities, sophism, and word plays, my overall impression is that all of this is charlatanism.

    Of course, you could dispell such impression, if you tried to explain your points instead of pretending to be offended by any questioning of your dogmas. But I won't hold my breath.

    Where?
    It would be easier if you, instead of asking "where" as if I hadn't yet shown you where I read verificationism into Rosa's text, could explain (in "ordinary language" would be even better), what the difference is between your/Rosa's/Wittgenstein's versus logical positivist's understanding of empyrical/metaphysical sentences.

    No, two of them are. An empirical proposition is one that asserts something that is either true or false, for which an account of the world can be given in which it can be true.
    So an empirical proposition like

    "Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital" is empyrical because an account of the world can be given in which "Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital" can be true.

    But how do we know whether an account of the world can be given in which "Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital" can be true, or not?

    What does it mean "to give an account of the world in which 'Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital' can be true"?

    Can you give me an an account of the world in which "'Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital' can be true"?

    One of them is a rule. Rules are neither true or false, just good or bad.
    Ah, so then there are now three different kinds of sentences: empyrical sentences, metaphysical sentences, and rules.

    But it would seem that there are different kind of rules too: good and bad rules. What is a good rule, and what is a bad rule?

    Because non-sense is defined in the Wittgensteinian sense.
    So it is not "ordinary language", is it?

    A statement is non-sense if no account can be given as to how the world would have to be for it to be true or false.
    Well, I can give you an account of how the world would have to be if the sentence "God does not exist" was true. Does this mean that "God does not exist" is now an empyrical sentence?

    There are two types of non-sense.

    1. Metaphysical statements are non-sense because they claim to be necessarily true, but can only be true by definition. Basically, this statement is true based solely on the meanings of the words used; the only way for it to be false is to redefine the subject of the proposition.
    2. Rules are non-sense because they can not be true or false. They are only useful or unuseful. These propositions give an account as to how to view the world. They show something about the world.
    So there is a kind of non-sense that "shows something about the world"? But if it shows something about the world, how does it have no sence?

    That is not the definition of an empirical proposition. You do not need an experiment to test its truth. You just need to be able to give an account of a state of affairs for which this is would be true.
    Which is just a complicated (ie, not very "ordinary language"-ish) way to say that you can think of an experiment to test its truth.

    No, the statement that "there is something like life after death" is a metaphysical proposition.
    Well, why? I certainly can "give an account of a state of affairs for which this is would be true".

    But the same is true of "motion with matter". The statement that you make is true based purely on the meanings of the words. Thus it is non-sense.
    What is non-sence? "Motion without matter", or "Motion without matter is unthinkable"?

    Those are phrases, not propositions. If you were paying attention you would know that this deals only with propositions, not phrases.
    And this is the text where I would be "confusing a scientific rule with a metaphysical proposition":

    Originally Posted by Luís Henrique
    6. A functioning perpetuum mobile is unthinkable.

    If we follow the text, we will exclaim, "but you have just thought of a functioning perpetuum mobile! You have just used those precise words!" What happens, though, is that when I think the words "functioning perpetuum mobile" I am not actually thinking of a functioning perpetuum mobile. Indeed, any machine of that kind that I - or anybody else - can think of is either not functioning or not a perpetuum mobile (or, more probably, neither). So while I can utter the words "functioning perpetuum mobile", I am at most thinking of the words, not of the actual thing. Same goes for "triangular circle", "the opposite side of a Moebius strip", or "a man who is his own father". And so the text incurs in a conflation between two things that a correct analysis easily shows are different.
    So, again: what scientific rule am I confusing with what metaphysical proposition?

    Luís Henrique
    Last edited by Luís Henrique; 21st April 2011 at 17:24.
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    i doubt that the "ruling class" thinks hardly at all about such things as the nature of time. moreover, class position by itself cannot determine beliefs. that is the worst sort of vulgar Marxism.
    Well, exactly. In fact the whole pseudo-historic coda in Rosa's article is bogus. Metaphysical ideas are much older than class divisions; they were - and to a great extent still are - responses to insoluble problems faced by human communities much before class stratification arose, like death and suffering, not fabrications by some a-historical "rulling class" to ensure its domination.

    Luís Henrique
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    Ah, so then there are now three different kinds of sentences: empyrical sentences, metaphysical sentences, and rules.
    This is a confusion of sentence forms. I would suggest Philosophical Investigations by Wittgenstein on this.

    But it would seem that there are different kind of rules too: good and bad rules. What is a good rule, and what is a bad rule?.
    One feature of a rule is that it does not predicate about anything. In this respect it is like a command. So, if a person asks, "is this command correct?" All they would be asking is; "is this command good?" Is it helpful, useful, according to guidelines, and so on. The point is that its application is independent of a subject, since it does not predicate. The same is true of rules.

    Well, I can give you an account of how the world would have to be if the sentence "God does not exist" was true. Does this mean that "God does not exist" is now an empyrical sentence?
    No, it means you are delusional.

    So there is a kind of non-sense that "shows something about the world"? But if it shows something about the world, how does it have no sence?
    Rules do not predicate about or represent the world, but they are useful for the method of understanding it. They can offer a paradigm, so to speak. Say, if we understand society as a class composition, consisting of classes with divergent interests, and use that as a rule in understanding phenomena. This is a helpful perspective, but the usefulness of the rule will vary depending on what is being considered.

    Which is just a complicated (ie, not very "ordinary language"-ish) way to say that you can think of an experiment to test its truth.
    No, the point that is being made here is that empirical propositions are logically contingent. Which means that they are not necessarily true (tautologous), nor necessarily false (contradictory). This is another way of saying that their truth function is not simply dependent on features of language.

    Well, why? I certainly can "give an account of a state of affairs for which this is would be true".
    Then you would be using a new form of the word "life", which breaks with the grammar of "life" describing living, aging and growing things, and a new form of the word "dead", which breaks with the grammar of "death" that describes the end of living, aging and growing things. You would either be describing a continuation of someones life, which means they are not dead, or you would be talking about 'death' and 'life', which are not words that others use.

    What is non-sence? "Motion without matter", or "Motion without matter is unthinkable"?
    The first is not a sentence, so while it can be nonsense (like "iajvnf3djf") it isn't non-sense in the Wittgensteinian use of the term. The latter is non-sense, for several reasons. One of which is that a declarative sentence that makes sense is one where its fulfillment (and non-fulfillment) is thinkable, so the proposition is either non-sense or it is false.

    And this is the text where I would be "confusing a scientific rule with a metaphysical proposition":

    Originally Posted by Luís Henrique
    Originally Posted by Luís Henrique
    6. A functioning perpetuum mobile is unthinkable.

    If we follow the text, we will exclaim, "but you have just thought of a functioning perpetuum mobile! You have just used those precise words!" What happens, though, is that when I think the words "functioning perpetuum mobile"
    I am not actually thinking of a functioning perpetuum mobile. Indeed, any machine of that kind that I - or anybody else - can think of is either not functioning or not a perpetuum mobile (or, more probably, neither). So while I can utter the words "functioning perpetuum mobile", I am at most thinking of the words, not of the actual thing. Same goes for "triangular circle", "the opposite side of a Moebius strip", or "a man who is his own father". And so the text incurs in a conflation between two things that a correct analysis easily shows are different.

    So, again: what scientific rule am I confusing with what metaphysical proposition?
    Here you are confusing imagining an object and thinking a thought. The reason we can not, for example, imagine a triangular square is that the grammatical rules for "triangular" contains that the shape has three sides,
    while the grammatical rules of "square" contains four sides. However, your example has a flaw, namely that any person can think of some object which has continuous movement; they can even imagine it. They would
    not know the exact details of its function, but anyone can imagine some wheel turning continuously with water pushing it without any loss in energy. It is when the grammar of words overlap with another while they have conflicting meaning that we have problems imagining a combination of objects.

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