Archive for the ‘epistemology’ Category

Analogical Thinking

January 20, 2017

sq_analogicalIs analogy or metaphor the root of thinking? Some thinkers think so. But what exactly is analogy?

Looking at various lists of analogies of the A:B::C:D motif, I have distilled them into four groups: Relational, Hierarchical, Linguistical, and Mathematical. Are there analogies that don’t fit this scheme?

Relational

Object / characteristic
Order, sequence
Transformation
Agent / object, action
Function, purpose
Cause / effect
Source / product

Hierarchical

Classification, category, type, membership
Whole / part
General / specific

Linguistical

Meaning, definition
Synonym, antonym
Contrast, degree, intensity
Word parts
Expressions

Mathematical

Equivalence
Multiples
Negation
Patterns, geometries
Number
Size, magnitude
Direction, vectors
Spacial, temporal
Ratio, proportion

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy

http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/surfaces-and-essences-analogy-fuel-and-fire-thinking

View story at Medium.com

Currently Reading:

George Lakoff, Mark Johnson / Metaphors We Live By

To Read:

Douglas Hofstadter, Emmanuel Sander / Surfaces and Essences: analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking, Basic Books (2013)

Noah Roderick / The Being of Analogy, Open Humanities Press (2016)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functor

[*9.140, *9.141, *9.178]

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Relative Time

November 14, 2014

sq_relative_time For what more terrifying revelation can there be than that it is the present moment? That we survive the shock at all is only possible because the past shelters us on one side and the future on another.

— From Orlando, by Virgina Woolf

As we can see on the previous four-folds of space and time, all have a degree of conditioning to the location and orientation of an observer. In other words, there are no absolute frameworks of space or time. That does not mean that they are not useful conventional and conceptual tools.

What would a four-fold of Relative Time be like? Because time seems to be linear instead of two dimensional, relative time would be very different than relative directions. What if we contrast our understanding of what happened in time with what actually occurred? What if we compare our thoughts of an imagined future with what becomes realized?

One could contrast an individual’s notions of past and future with a group or society’s notions of past and future. Or one could contrast an individual’s or society’s recalled past and imagined future with the actual past and the realized future. Some might argue that there is no actual past, but only the past we think or recall that it is. Similarly, those or others might argue that there is no realized future, because once the future becomes the present it has already slipped into the past that we can now only recall.

As the future becomes realized, the imagined future is discarded or blended into it to become our recalled past. As we understand more about the real past, our recalled past may be discarded or blended into it to become our new recalled past. Or one can refuse that knowledge and believe whatever suits them.

[*8.99, *9.60]

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Knowledge and Its Limits

January 27, 2014

Knowledge and action are the central relations between mind and world. In action, world is adapted to mind. In knowledge, mind is adapted to world. When world is maladapted to mind, there is a residue of desire. When mind is maladapted to world, there is a residue of belief. Desire aspires to action; belief aspires to knowledge. The point of desire is action; the point of belief is knowledge.

— From Knowledge and Its Limits by Timothy Williamson

sq_knowledge_limits

Or with some substitutions:

Theory and practice are the central relations between the mental and the physical. In practice, the physical is shaped to the mental. In theory, the mental is shaped to the physical. When the physical is misshaped to the mental, there is a residue of intention. When the mental is misshaped to the physical, there is a residue of attention. Intention aspires to practice; attention aspires to theory. The point of intention is practice; the point of attention is theory.

sq_knowledge_limits2

Also, note the similarity to The Scientific Method.

Timothy Williamson / Knowledge and Its Limits

[*6.24, *6.32, *8.22]

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E. F. Schumacher’s Four Fields of Knowledge

July 9, 2013

four_fields_of_knowledgeThis fourfold is created from the product of two duals: I & World, and Inner Experience & Outer Appearance.

The Inner Experience of I is Experience.

The Outer Appearance of I is Behavior.

The Inner Experience of World is Communication.

The Outer Appearance of World is Science.

schumacher_fieldsThe first fourfold is very similar to Hjelmslev’s Net, where Content is Inner Experience, Expression is Outer Appearance, Substance is unitary “I”, and Form is multiplicity “World”.

It is also almost identical to Ken Wilbur’s AQAL as presented here.

References:

E. F. Schumacher / A Guide for the Perplexed

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Guide_for_the_Perplexed

http://www.integralworld.net/edwards2.html

[*7.88, *7.174, *7.176]

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Epistemic Virtues of Objectivity

August 22, 2012

I recently finished reading Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison’s “Objectivity”. In this very interesting book, the authors argue that the notion of scientific objectivity has evolved over time. They have divided the course of this evolution into three main phases: truth-to-nature, mechanical objectivity, and trained judgement. During each phase, the main view of objectivity is dominant, but previous phases are still important to the overall idea of what objectivity means in the scientific community.

The epistemological virtues of objectivity can be divided into four major aspects: persona, ontology, image, and practice. For each phase of objectivity, each aspect has different qualities. For instance, the scientific persona becomes a sage during the truth-to-nature phase, a worker during the mechanical objectivity phase, and an expert during the trained judgement phase. Similarly, the ontology aspect passed through the qualities of universals-particulars-families, the image aspect passed through reasoned-mechanical-interpreted, and practice  passed through the stages selection and synthesis-automated transfer-pattern recognition.

The evolutionary phases of objectivity, as well as the qualities of the epistemological virtues seen as the four aspects, is beautifully shown by many examples from a collection of scientific atlases. Anyone interested in the history of science as well as the notion of scientific objectivity should enjoy this book.

I thought it was also remarkable that these four aspects of objectivity were very similar to the four aspects of the Archic Matrix of Watson and Dilworth.

References:

Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison / Objectivity

http://scienceblogs.com/worldsfair/2008/01/03/objectivity-truetonature-mecha/

http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/WQR/daston.pdf

[*7.106]

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Structure-Function

July 3, 2012

Aristotle’s Four Causes is an important fourfold that seems to be the basis for many of the fourfolds, both original and not, presented in this blog. Two of the causes, efficient and material, are acceptable to modern scientific inquiry because they can be thought of as motion and matter, respectively, but the other two causes, formal and final, are not. Why is that?

The formal cause is problematic because the formal is usually considered to be an abstract concept, a construction of universals that may only exist in the human mind. The final cause is also problematic because it is associated with the concept of telos or purpose. There, too, only human or cognitive agents are allowed to have goals or ends. So for two causes, efficient and material, all things may participate in them, but for the two remaining, formal and final, only agents with minds may.

These problems may be due to the pervasive influence of what the recent philosophical movement of Object Oriented Philosophy calls correlationism: ontology or the existence of things is limited to human knowledge of them, or epistemology. The Four Causes as usually described becomes restricted to the human creation and purpose of things. Heidegger’s Tool Analysis or Fourfold, which also appears to have been derived from the Four Causes, is usually explained in terms of the human use of human made things: bridges, hammers, pitchers. Even scientific knowledge is claimed to be just human knowledge, because only humans participate in the making of this knowledge as well as its usage.

Graham Harman, one of the founders of Speculative Realism of which his Object Oriented Ontology is a result, has transformed Heidegger’s Fourfold so that it operates for all things, and so the correlationism that restricts ontology to human knowledge becomes a relationism that informs the ontology for all things. Instead of this limiting our knowledge even more, it is surprising what can be said about the relations between all things when every thing’s access is as limited as human access. However, this transformation is into the realm of the phenomenological, which is not easily accessible to rational inquiry.

I wish to update the Four Causes, and claim that they can be recast into a completely naturalistic fourfold operating for all things. This new version was inspired by the Four Operators of Linear Logic. Structure and function are commonplace terms in scientific discourse, and I wish to replace formal and final causes with them. It may be argued that what is obtained can no longer be properly called the Four Causes, and that may indeed be correct.

First, let us rename the efficient cause to be action, but not simply a motion that something can perform. I’m not concerned at the moment with whether the action is intentional or random, but it must not be wholly deterministic. Thus there are at least two alternatives to an action. I’m also not determining whether one alternative is better than the other, so there is no normative judgement. An action is such that something could have done something differently in the same situation. This is usually called external choice in Linear Logic (although it makes more sense to me to call it internal choice: please see silly link below).

Second, let us call the material cause part, but not simply a piece of something. Instead of the material or substance that something is composed of, let us first consider the parts that constitute it. However, a part is not merely a piece that can be removed. A part is such that something different could be substituted for it in the same structure, but not by one’s choice. Like an action, I am not concerned whether one of the alternatives is better than the other, but only that the thing is still the thing regardless of the alternative. This is usually called internal choice.

Next, we will relabel the formal cause to be structure, but not simply the structure of the thing under consideration. Ordinarily structure is not a mere list of parts, or a set of parts, or even a sum or integral of parts, but an ordered assembly of parts that shapes a form. Ideally structure is an arrangement of parts in space. However, in this conceptualization, structure will be only an unordered list of parts with duplications allowed.

Last, instead of final cause we will say function, but not simply the function of the thing as determined by humans. Ordinarily function is not a mere list of actions, or a set of actions, or a sum or integral of actions, but an ordered aggregate of actions that enables a functionality. Ideally function is an arrangement of actions in time. However, like structure, function will be only an unordered list of actions with duplications allowed.

As we transform the Four Causes from made things to all things, both natural and human-made, we will later examine how that changes them.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speculative_realism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Object-oriented_ontology

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Harman

http://wiki.cmukgb.org/index.php/Internal_and_External_Choice

[*6.144, *7.32, *7.97]

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Stances Towards Truth

December 9, 2011

What are the different stances towards truth? I can think of four: relativism, pluralism, dogmatism, and skepticism.

In Relativism, truths are relative to the individual, and may be associated with their personal perspective. Truths are necessarily different as individuals are different and cannot be ranked as to their correctness between individuals.

In Pluralism, truths are separate and may be combined but usually cannot be unified under one overarching truth. Truths are pragmatically different and are true in principle or function.

In Dogmatism or Absolutism, there is one truth, whether we have access to it or not. Truth is absolute and necessarily consistent with itself.

In Skepticism, there may be no absolute truths. Truth is always in doubt and there is no certainty.

I believe that few if any of us are purists with respect to any of these stances towards truth. Each of us combines these four stances into a filter that we use to adopt and maintain our personal ensemble of truths. Some of us may be highly skeptical, with a little dogmatism about our skepticism, plus a bit of relativism and pluralism thrown in for good measure. And so on. Our filter will change depending on how we perceive the current truth of those stances.

Similarly, social organizations may also operate the same way as individuals in constructing a filter towards truth. Whether the organization’s filter arises as an average of the individual’s filters, or from some inherent property of the organization, remains open.

Whether there is one transcendent truth or possibly no absolute truths depends on your valuation of dogmatism and skepticism, respectively. And thus it doesn’t depend on what you or anyone thinks at all.

Notes:

Perhaps Absolutism would be a better choice than dogmatism in the diagram.

The post The One and the Many may be used to develop these stances better.

[*7.30]

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Walter Watson and David Dilworth’s Archic Matrix

December 2, 2011

Throughout the history of philosophy, there have been many conflicting stances both towards claiming what exists (ontology), and how we can know our claims are valid (epistemology). There are the oppositions between idealism and realism, between rationalism and empiricism, between thinking all is change and all is changeless, between all is many and all is one, and so on. One approach to overcome these oppositions is to combine them to form their Hegelian synthesis. Another is to deconstruct them à la Derrida. Another pluralistic approach is to consider that there is a germ of truth on each side of the conflicting stance, an aspect of reality for which that stance is valid. Some might think that pluralism is the same as relativism, but it is not. Relativism and pluralism form yet another philosophical opposition like others mentioned above.

Regardless of the validity of pluralism, it can be very useful to analyze what philosophical stances are possible and how they relate to one another. The philosopher Richard McKeon created a rich schema for philosophical semantics that deserves greater recognition. This schema was both simplified and elaborated on by Walter Watson and David Dilworth in their books about the Archic Matrix. There are four main aspects, all exemplified by ancient philosophers: the Sophists, Democritus, Plato, and Aristotle. Everything else is a combination of these original aspects, or essentially a rehashing of them. The main aspects are perspective from the Sophists, reality from Democritus, method from Plato, and principle from Aristotle. These partition “what is”, however it is conceived, into four aspects, each of which can be interpreted in four different ways.

Considering Whitehead’s Criteria, note that perspective has consistency, method has coherency, reality has applicability, and principle has adequacy.

Walter Watson / The Architectonics of Meaning: foundations of the new pluralism

David A. Dilworth / Philosophy in World Perspective: a comparative hermeneutic of the major theories

http://nodnol.net/Watson/index.html

http://www.philosophicalprofile.org/test/index.php

http://wwwhistoricalthreads.blogspot.com/2010/07/walter-watson-architectonics-of-meaning.html

http://ir.lib.sfu.ca/bitstream/1892/9845/1/b31853754.pdf

[*4.112]

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The Cynefin Framework

November 8, 2011

From Wikipedia:

The Cynefin framework is a model used to describe problems, situations and systems. The model provides a typology of contexts that guides what sort of explanations and/or solutions may apply.

There are actually five domains in the framework, with the fifth one being disorder. It is not shown here. The domains are different in how cause and effect relate to one another within them. They are in the order of light transmission through the four elements: bright, light, dim, and dark.

For each domain, there is a common approach, each containing sense and respond. Simple: Sense – Categorize – Respond. Complicated: Sense – Analyze – Respond. Complex: Probe – Sense – Respond. Chaos: Act – Sense – Respond. For Simple and Complicated, sense comes first, and for Complex and Chaos, sense comes second. Respond ends the approach for each domain. Can one say the Simple and Complicated are a priori, and Complex and Chaos are a posteriori? Or that Simple and Complicated are rational, and Complex and Chaos are empirical?

Interestingly, if we examine the element of the approach that is not sense or respond, they have a close approximation to the fourfold of the Scientific Method.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynefin

[*7.24]

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John R. Searle’s Epistemological and Ontological Senses of Objective and Subjective

June 13, 2011

References:

John R. Searle / The Construction of Social Reality

http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/subjective_objective.html

[*5.198]

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