A Critique of Pure Taj, or how I arrived at free will.

Queenmab321

Patron Meritorious
Where to begin?

First off, as I said earlier, there is nothing wrong in having an existentialist view.

Existentialism is "contingent, historical and particular, its presuppositions mere opinion."

By contingent is meant that it depends on other factors if it is true or not, as opposed to being necessary.

By necessary is meant that it has to be. For example, if Bill is taller than Joe, and Joe is taller than Larry, then it is necessarily true that Bill is taller than Larry.

Historical means that it is true in a particular period of time, as opposed to timeless which would be true all of the time.

For example, if people built a triangular building it may last a hundred years. That building exists in a particular period of time.

But a triangle has three sides. That is timeless. As long as there are triangles they will have three sides (and yes, that is a tautological statement.)

Particular means it has a certain context within which it can be said to be true or not, as opposed to universal, which means it is true everywhere.

For example, a king's palace may be shaped like a triangle in Persia but not in Egypt. But a triangle will have three sides in Persia or in Egypt or in Athens.

In some philosophies, truth and knowledge are universal, necessary, and timeless. These philosophies are Platonism, Aristotelianism, and Stoicism, pre-modernism and Kantianism, to name a few.

But other philosophies claim truth is contingent, historical, and particular. Some of these are Existentialism (Heidegger, Satre, and Camus), and post-Modernism (Foucault, Derrida, and our very own Gadfly :yes:)

If someone came on this thread and started quoting L. Ron Hubbard, and presupposed Scientology ideas such as Thetan, or ARC, or SP and PTS in there statements would I bee in error for saying that they were putting forth a Scientology viewpoint?

I don't think so.

Or if someone came on this thread and was quoting Marx and Engels and Lenin and presupposed class structure in their statements would I be in error for saying they were putting forth an Marxist-Leninist viewpoint?

I don't think so.

So when I see you posting statements that presuppose Existentialist ideas and you quote existentialist writers and philosophers, am I in error when I say you are putting forth an Existentialist viewpoint.

I don't think so.

There is nothing wrong with Existentialism. But in my view it leads to a depressing viewpoint about life.

And fundamental to Existentialism is the view that there is no essence before existence.

It seems to me that you have expressed these views repeatedly with some of your posts and quotes.

There's nothing wrong with it.

Don't get upset because that's how I see it.

If your views are otherwise then say so.

The Anabaptist Jacques

Thank you, Jacques, for your thoughtful post. It may take me a day or two to fit a proper response into my busy schedule, so bear with me. :)
 
Gadfly,
I always thought from your posts that you were a born philosopher.

I have to correct a couple of important things.

First---very important----Hume was NOT an empiricist!

Nor was he a rationalist!

The philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) put forth the idea (around 1736) that neither science nor philosophy nor anyone could know anything with certainty for the future because the only knowledge one could have was that of experience, which is something that already happened.

But Hume maintained that certain knowledge of what must be true or could happen in the future was impossible.

The philosophical term for Must Be True is Necessarily. (Example: if Bill is taller than Joe, and Joe is taller than Mike, then it is necessarily true that Bill is taller than Mike)

To Hume, the concept of cause and effect was only a concept in the mind.

For example, if you placed an ice cube on a rock in the sunlight and the ice cube melted, all you saw was a sequence. You did not see cause an effect.

Hume pointed out there are two categories of knowledge in the mind: 1) Relationship of ideas and 2) Matters of fact.

Relationship of ideas are a prior (known to be true independent of experience) and true by definition alone. (Example: all bachelors are unmarried)

Matters of fact are a posterior (known to be true by experience) but not true by definition (Example: some bachelors are sad).

So the idea of cause and effect is nothing more than we seeing the ice cube on a rock (matter of fact), the sunlight hitting the ice (matter of fact), and the ice melting (matter of fact).

We may believe that if we put another ice cube there it will also melt because the sunlight caused the ice to melt (that it was caused by the sunlight is a conclusion based on our relationship of ideas, not experience).

Hume says we use our relationship of ideas to create the idea of cause when what we really experience was a sequence.

Hume said that people, through habit or repetition assign the concept of cause when in truth all they experienced was a sequence.

This all may sound silly and simplistic to us today, but this is because we have incorporated Kant’s ideas into our thinking.

But at the time it put scientific research and theories in question.

He had a point and scientist knew it.

I’ll use Newton’s Third Law of Motion as an example. The Law states “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Hume would ask how Newton could possibly know that.

Newton had not observed every action that has ever taken place.

Newton may have experienced this himself; he may even have experienced it throughout his entire life.

But Newton has not observed every action that has taken place.

How can Newton say that this Law will be true in the future or even in places on the other side of the world?

Kant remarked that if Hume was right, then science was in trouble.

So the question Kant was trying to solve was this: How can we know necessary (must be true) truths about reality?

What Kant does in Critique of Pure Reason (remember that reason means our desire to know) is to show that there is a third category of knowledge in the mind.

He does this by what he calls his “Copernican Revolution.”

Just as Copernicus changed the way we look at the universe, Kant changed the way we look at knowledge and the mind.

Here is what he did:

Per Hume, the mind held 1) Experiences (matters of fact), which were a posteriori (dependent on experience) and not true by definition, and 2) Relationships of Ideas, which were a prior (not dependent on experience) and true by definition.

The word for true by definition is analytic, and the word for not true by definition was synthetic.

So in the mind there are Relationship of Ideas, which are a prior (true independent of experience) and analytic (true by definition) and Experiences which are a posteriori (based on experience) and synthetic (not true by definition).

Kant showed how all knowledge begins with experience but not all knowledge stems from experience.

Kant discovered a third category of knowledge in the mind—a priori and synthetic (true independent of experience but not true by definition).

And this changes everything.

But how he did this to change the way the mind was understood.

Prior to Kant the idea was that experiences left their imprints on the mind because the mind was like a clay tablet and experiences left their impressions on the mind which passively received them.

What Kant suggested was that the mind actively grasps and organizes experiences.

The mind pre-structures experiences so that we can see them and experience them in a certain way.

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. (Sorry, it’s getting really late and I’m starting to channel Cole Porter).

Kant calls this the Transcendental Analytic, because the mind pre-structures and defines experiences so that it can take in the experiences.

Because of this we can know certain things about how we will experience the world tomorrow.

Mathematics (arithmetic and geometry) and some of the basic principles of physics are synthetic a priori knowledge.

How does this work?

It isn’t that our mind conforms to our experiences; our experiences conform to our mind.

Don’t confuse this with “what’s true for you is true for you.”!!!!

Kant calls all the things we sense phenomenon. The things we can’t sense he calls noumenon.

When we sense any object, our mind conforms these objects to the rules of understanding already in the mind.

Space and time are two examples. Our mind already pre-structures what we experience to meet our mind’s rule that objects exist in space and time.

There are other categories and more details about all this. But I want to skip all that because it is very involved.

But because the mind works this way we can know things a priori, that is, we can know things without experiencing them directly.

For example: We experienced that Bill is taller than Joe, and Joe is taller than Mike. We know that from experience.

But because we have in our mind the pre-structuring mechanism of space and time (and other categories) we can know without experiencing it that Bill must necessarily be taller than Mike.

We can now think a priori (without experience) and be right!

For example: A is taller than B; B is taller than C. Therefore A is taller than C.

Anywhere in the world this will be true.

We can have knowledge of how things will be in the future.

It is a priori synthetic knowledge. A priori (not dependent on experience) synthetic (not true by definition)

While it is based on our experience (we saw Bill, Joe and Mike once) to know that if A is taller than B, and B is taller than C, then we don’t depend on experience to know that A is taller than C.

We can know it without experience it and can know it will be true anytime in the future if we encounter it.

So Newton is safe.

But there is a catch. A very important catch.

If everything we experience is pre-structured by our mind, then all we know of all phenomenon is how our mind structured it.

We don’t know and can’t know about the things in themselves.

The universe we experience conforms to our minds. What the universe is really like before our mind structures it we can never know.

So we can’t know about things in themselves.

This is why Kant is called an Idealist; All we know are the experience and ideas in our minds, not things in themselves.

But Kant is called a Critical Idealist. He believes the universe exists outside our minds but what we can know about it is filtered by our minds.

Other German Idealists abandoned the idea of the universe existing outside the mind at all and only the mind is what is real.

To them “What is true for you is true for you.”

This led to ideas about the Will and the Will to Power and Ubermensch, Tone 40, and OTs.

To Kant, what is true for you is most certainly not true.

So how did this help me with free will?

Kant isn’t done yet.

Kant uses the word Reason to mean the human drive to know everything.

Because Reason wants to know everything, this is what drives science.

But science is limited to knowing what it can, and Reason isn’t satisfied.

Reason wants to know it all; Reason wants to know the First Cause.

So it believes in God.

Kant is not saying that there isn’t a God, but what he is saying is that we can never know God (if there is one) because what we can know can only be based on experience (like Bill is taller than Joe, and Joe taller than Mike).

We can know things without needing to experience them (A is taller than B, B is taller than C, therefore A is taller than B) but all knowledge must be based on some experience.

This is the philosophical basis for Deism.

Kant points out that when people develop metaphysical theories about God, since the theories are not grounded in experience, the theory will eventually become contradictory and illogical.

So he dismisses discussions about metaphysical things.

He does say that people should believe metaphysical things, especially God, the soul and eternal life, rewards in eternal life and free will because these are the best basis of moral behavior. Again I am simplifying here.

Kant says science can never prove or disprove any of these things either.

Because all science can do is know about the world as we perceive it which is pre-structured by our minds.

Science cannot ever know about things in themselves.

Science therefore can know all about the human body, but not about the soul or free will if they exist.

This is basic Kant.

Kant gave science the legitimacy it needed and also leaves to God the things that are God’s

I hope this is understandable. It is tricky thing to explain.

Now some more on A priori knowledge.

While tautological statements conform to and are A priori knowledge, that is not all that A priori is.

That example you gave that "an a priori argument is one in which "you can see that it is true just lying on your couch. You don't have to get up off your couch and go outside and examine the way things are in the physical world. You don't have to do any science."

So here is an a priori statement: 7 + 5 = 12.

You don't have to check the physical world to know that it is true, and you don't have to check it every day.

Another practical example is that the Egyptians knew how to build pyramids.

They knew from experience how to build, but they didn't have much understanding of mathematics--in this case geometry.

If you asked an Egyptian back then or at the time of Plato how tall was a particular pyramid if its length was a certain distance, the Egyptian would still have to measure it.

But the Greek philosopher could just do the geometry and tell you exactly how tall it was without ever seeing a pyramid or leaving his couch.

That is a priori knowledge.

It is not just an argument about definition.

Plato had a sign over the door of his Academy that read "Let know one enter here who is ignorant of geometry."

I forgot to add on an earlier post that geometry was one example knowledge that is universal, necessary, and timeless.

"All bachelors are unmarried" is true by definition, and therefore it can be considered a priori.

But technically to make the distinction between the statement and a priori knowledge Kant calls the first statement "analytic," that is, true by definition.

Things that need proof he calls "synthetic" statements (loosely, syn=together, thetic=to put), which is a putting together definition and observations.

The difference between Hume and Kant is that Kant came up with synthetic a priori, which means it is independent of experience.

Experience only tells us what has happened so far, but the synthetic a priori statement is binding on the future, necessarily.

The necessity (or must be true) is drawn in the forms of our understanding, to which all future understanding must conform.

This is what makes science reliable.

The Anabaptist Jacques
 
Keep in mind that most of what I wrote of Kant is covered in the first 200 pages of his 600 page book "Critique of Pure Reason."

And also keep in mind that what he means by reason is our desire to know everything.

It is very difficult to read, but it has the ideas which became the basis for our knowledge.

There was a time when every high school kid in America read some part of it (late 1800s) or was at least familiar with his ideas.

Now only a small percentage of university and college professors have even read it.

The best book I know of that looks at our modern social and political dilemmas through a Kantian view is by the Kantian Susan Neiman and is called "Moral Clarity, a guide for grown-up idealist."

I highly recommend it.

http://youtu.be/KL1np_vUJus

The Anabaptist Jacques
 
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http://youtu.be/DC8ioZkb-Sc

Let us first divide cognition into rational analysis
and sensory perception (which Descartes considered valueless).
Now reason gives us concepts which are true but tautological;
sensation gives us images whose content is phenomenal.

Whatever greets our senses must exist in space and time
for else it would be nowhere and nowhen and therefore slime;
the space and time we presuppose before we sense reality
must have innate subjective transcendental ideality.

Thus space and time
are forms of our perception
whereby sensation's synthesized in orderly array;
the same must hold
for rational conception:
in everything we think, the laws of logic must hold sway.

But a problem here arises with respect to natural science:
while empirical in method, on pure thought it lays reliance.
Although for Newton's findings we to Newton give the glory
Newton never could have found them if they weren't known a priori.

We know that nature governed is by principles immutable
but how we come to know this is inherently inscrutable;
that thought requires logic is a standpoint unassailable
but for objects of our senses explanations aren't available.

So let's attempt
to vivisect cognition
by critical analysis in hope that we may find
the link between
pure thought and intuition:
a deduction transcendental will shed light upon the mind.

You may recall that space and time are forms of apprehension
and therefore what we sense has spatiotemporal extension;
whatever is extended is composed of a plurality
but through an act of synthesis we form a commonality.

If we are to be conscious of a single concrete entity
each part of its extension must be given independently
combining in a transcendental apperceptive unity
to which I may ascribe the term "self-conscious" with impunity.

The order of
our various sensations
arises from connections not beheld in sense alone;
our self creates
the rules of their relations
and of this combination it is conscious as its own.

While these rules correspond to scientific causal laws
the question of their constancy remains to give us pause;
but once we recollect the source of our self-conscious mind,
to this perverse dilemma a solution we may find.

The self is nothing but its act of synthesis sublime;
this act must be the same to be self-conscious over time.
The rules for combination of its selfhood form the ground
so what we perceive tomorrow by today's laws must be bound.

These constant laws
whereby we shape experience
are simply those which regulate our reason: that is plain.
So don't ask why
the stars display invariance --
the Cosmos is produced by your disoriented brain!

The Anabaptist Jacques
 

Gadfly

Crusader
Gadfly,
I always thought from your posts that you were a born philosopher.

Maybe someday . . . .

I have to correct a couple of important things.

First---very important----Hume was NOT an empiricist!

Wikipedia described him as being known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism.
:confused2:

Nor was he a rationalist!

The philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) put forth the idea (around 1736) that neither science nor philosophy nor anyone could know anything with certainty for the future because the only knowledge one could have was that of experience, which is something that already happened.

But Hume maintained that certain knowledge of what must be true or could happen in the future was impossible.

I think this is absurd. Of course it is impossible. But who cares? It seems much ado about nonsense (which is what I consider many of them to be doing - though not all of them). I never studied any philosophers to come to this conclusion, and this idea that follows comes simply from observing my experiences and expectations of the future. Any sensible person need only observe what has happened, notice the consistency and patterns, experience that these things happen in a highly probabilistic repetitive manner, and ASSUME (quite correctly) that just as the sun rose yesterday, it will most likely rise tomorrow. I think this search and need for "total certainty" is absurd too. It is a value and a need that is exaggerated and misplaced within the subject of philosophy.

There is no "certain knowledge" (not outside of the imagination), and any hope, demand or need for it is misguided. But there can be "fairly certain knowledge" that is adequate for normal practical matters. In fact, all science and especially engineering is based on the fact that we can be pretty sure that the radio electronics will function tomorrow just as they did yesterday, and that the laws of mechanics will continue along so that the bridges and buildings won't fall down.


The philosophical term for Must Be True is Necessarily. (Example: if Bill is taller than Joe, and Joe is taller than Mike, then it is necessarily true that Bill is taller than Mike)

What is the point of this? I truly don't get it. We define taller to mean that A is higher than B. So if two things are taller than other things, of course, blah-blah-blah. It is "necessary" ONLY because it is defined that way. It is a mental artifice of meaning and significance, and says nothing about "truth". It is a created significance, that people then get all worked up about. If this, then that . . . logic . . . to me it all seems to be a mentally created reality that MUST conform to the rules because it is DESIGNED that way. There is no inherent truth in any of it - as the "truth" is built into it.

Tell me something that is "necessarily true" that MATTERS. These examples of bachelors and how tall somebody is seem so . . . trite (to me).


To Hume, the concept of cause and effect was only a concept in the mind.

For example, if you placed an ice cube on a rock in the sunlight and the ice cube melted, all you saw was a sequence. You did not see cause an effect.

It doesn't matter if there is cause and effect. One can anticipate and predict behavior based on past behavior, because simple observation shows that certain things happen over and over and over again in the same or similar way. It is THAT simple observation that made all science possible. There was NO requirement of philosophy to permit science. In fact, philosophy and philosophers were a minor side event to the development of science. Science developed and would develop with or without philosophers. While they commented on science, they were not the reason for it or the justification for it.

For example, I have noticed that the storms come in from the west, almost always, and last about 45 minutes. I could play games of envisioning cause and effect, but I don't bother. I notice a pattern and the pattern repeats. As long as it repeats, I can continue to predict well. The same with the "laws of nature", or electricity or chemistry, or whatever. As long as it all happens just as it did yesterday, or at least as close as needed for all practical purposes, science "works". The need for some idea of cause and effect is an additive (to me). I don't need it.

And, if and when predictions start to fail, if and when the radios all stop working, if and when the bridges all fall down, then we will have to observe and notice NEW patterns, and learn a new system of prediction.


Hume pointed out there are two categories of knowledge in the mind: 1) Relationship of ideas and 2) Matters of fact.

Relationship of ideas are a prior (known to be true independent of experience) and true by definition alone. (Example: all bachelors are unmarried)

Again, I don't see the importance. People make up all sorts of mental systems, logic being one of them, and then get all excited because they "find truth". The "truth" is built into the system from the start. I can close my eyes and make up al sorts of consistent worlds of meaning, where this true if that is true, and make up all sorts of definitions, but this all involves ONLY mentally created things. I suppose what I find weird is the attempt to use the word "truth" about any of it. It is a MOCK UP. It is an imaginative creation. Math is also such a thing. The IDEAS of equality, zero, infinity, addition, subtraction, etc. all "work" because they are DEFINED as they are. It is an entirely mentally created thing. And THAT is fine. I love many mentally created things. THat is one of the great wonders of the human mind and imagination. It can make shit up. I suppose a problem is that too many people, including many philosophers apparently, confuse what they MAKE UP with some essential and necessary objective reality!

Matters of fact are a posterior (known to be true by experience) but not true by definition (Example: some bachelors are sad).

So the idea of cause and effect is nothing more than we seeing the ice cube on a rock (matter of fact), the sunlight hitting the ice (matter of fact), and the ice melting (matter of fact).

We may believe that if we put another ice cube there it will also melt because the sunlight caused the ice to melt (that it was caused by the sunlight is a conclusion based on our relationship of ideas, not experience).

Again there is no need for any concept of cause and effect, Just observe PATTERNS. When they repeat, consistently, over time, one can feel fairly sure that they will do so again tomorrow. THAT is the ACTUAL basis of prediction in life and science. All else is mental chicanery, and a contrivance of significance and meaning. One need not "believe", and instead one need only assume with a fairly high degree of probability that the same thing will repeat if done again. THAT is the entire basis of scientific experimentation. The theories and explanations are actually ancillary. NOBODY knows why anything behaves as it does. Al, pretense at grasping the WHYS is make-believe. But, just as science can observe and predict based on PAST OBSERVATIONS, so can any person.

Hume says we use our relationship of ideas to create the idea of cause when what we really experience was a sequence.

Hume said that people, through habit or repetition assign the concept of cause when in truth all they experienced was a sequence.

This all may sound silly and simplistic to us today, but this is because we have incorporated Kant’s ideas into our thinking.

But at the time it put scientific research and theories in question.

How could a philosophical IDEA put scientific research into question? That sees absurd to me. Did these people feel so unsure of their observations that they would second-guess them based on a THEORY of some philosopher? Personally, I can't quite grasp that. If I conducted tests on ball bearings falling in a vacuum, and also of a feather falling in a vacuum , and observed that they fell at the same rate, how would some THEORY of knowledge get me doubt what I easily and clearly observed. To me, you are giving philosophy an exaggerated sense of importance in all of this. Science did and would grown and develop no matter what philosophers had to say, because it was and IS based on observation and closely tested experimental experience. If anything, the philosophers felt a need to get their ideas to conform with the complete success and validity of science!

He had a point and scientist knew it.

I’ll use Newton’s Third Law of Motion as an example. The Law states “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Hume would ask how Newton could possibly know that.

Newton had not observed every action that has ever taken place.

Newton may have experienced this himself; he may even have experienced it throughout his entire life.

But Newton has not observed every action that has taken place.

How can Newton say that this Law will be true in the future or even in places on the other side of the world?

Kant remarked that if Hume was right, then science was in trouble.

This seems nuts to me. It is almost common sense. If you observe a certain pattern in many places, in many times, it becomes safe to assume that it will happen elsewhere in a similar way, because for all practical purposes THAT IS THE WAY THINGS BEHAVE. One doesn't need to observe ALL possible examples to safely assume that the pattern will repeat. And I need NO philosophy to know that. I need only open my eyes, LOOK, and observe the way things behave. The obvious consistency is readily apparent. It isn't consistent because philosophy says so; it is consistent because it is consistent.

So the question Kant was trying to solve was this: How can we know necessary (must be true) truths about reality?

My answer? Who cares? I don't get the importance or significance of the question. YOU can and will NEVER know with full certainty any "truth" about reality. Sure, you can pretend that you do, by mental shenanigans and conceptual gymnastics, but really, it is all make-believe. If the laws of the universe change tomorrow, all of this will have been meaningless and wrong.

This is why I get rude with philosophy, because to me, some of it seems so absurdly minor and insignificant, yet these thinkers make such a great deal about it. Also, as an example, the advent of digital technology, and the great advances in computer technology had NOTHING to do with any theories about knowledge or truth. Science does what it does, regardless of what all these others might "think" about it.


What Kant does in Critique of Pure Reason (remember that reason means our desire to know) is to show that there is a third category of knowledge in the mind.

He does this by what he calls his “Copernican Revolution.”

Just as Copernicus changed the way we look at the universe, Kant changed the way we look at knowledge and the mind.

He might have changed how you look at the mind and knowledge, but I don't see how he changed how a great many others (99.99999% of the population) looked at the mind! :confused2:

Here is what he did:

Per Hume, the mind held 1) Experiences (matters of fact), which were a posteriori (dependent on experience) and not true by definition, and 2) Relationships of Ideas, which were a prior (not dependent on experience) and true by definition.

The word for true by definition is analytic, and the word for not true by definition was synthetic.

So in the mind there are Relationship of Ideas, which are a prior (true independent of experience) and analytic (true by definition) and Experiences which are a posteriori (based on experience) and synthetic (not true by definition).

Kant showed how all knowledge begins with experience but not all knowledge stems from experience.

Kant discovered a third category of knowledge in the mind—a priori and synthetic (true independent of experience but not true by definition).

And this changes everything.

But how he did this to change the way the mind was understood.

Prior to Kant the idea was that experiences left their imprints on the mind because the mind was like a clay tablet and experiences left their impressions on the mind which passively received them.

What Kant suggested was that the mind actively grasps and organizes experiences.

I like this, but also, this has been talked about in great detail by eastern philosophers, thousands of years earlier. I think western philosophy was/is doing catch-up when it comes to the "mind", what it does, how it functions, how it organizes experiences and reality, etc.

The mind pre-structures experiences so that we can see them and experience them in a certain way.

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. (Sorry, it’s getting really late and I’m starting to channel Cole Porter).

Kant calls this the Transcendental Analytic, because the mind pre-structures and defines experiences so that it can take in the experiences.

If nobody had thought of this before, then I can see that it would have been important. I never studied this anywhere, but in examining my own mind over the years, I have seen how it acts to organize certain things. I did look over the categories yesterday and I feel that I can learn something important by digging into them. The tendency for a mind to experience spatially, and within space and time, for instance, does seem to be an inherent quality or principle of the mind. I agree that this is a great advance in the understanding of mind.

Because of this we can know certain things about how we will experience the world tomorrow.

NO! I do not see that is true. That is not the reason why. There is something to the nature of what is "out there", and any mind interacting with it will observe similar patterns. You can "know" with a fair degree of high probability that things will repeat tomorrow. That is true if you just LOOK. It has nothing to do with any theory you have about the mind. Science WORKS no matter what theories and explanations one might have about WHY it works.

Mathematics (arithmetic and geometry) and some of the basic principles of physics are synthetic a priori knowledge.

How does this work?

It isn’t that our mind conforms to our experiences; our experiences conform to our mind.

Don’t confuse this with “what’s true for you is true for you.”!!!!

Kant calls all the things we sense phenomenon. The things we can’t sense he calls noumenon.

When we sense any object, our mind conforms these objects to the rules of understanding already in the mind.

Space and time are two examples. Our mind already pre-structures what we experience to meet our mind’s rule that objects exist in space and time.

There are other categories and more details about all this. But I want to skip all that because it is very involved.

But because the mind works this way we can know things a priori, that is, we can know things without experiencing them directly.

For example: We experienced that Bill is taller than Joe, and Joe is taller than Mike. We know that from experience.

But because we have in our mind the pre-structuring mechanism of space and time (and other categories) we can know without experiencing it that Bill must necessarily be taller than Mike.

We can now think a priori (without experience) and be right!

For example: A is taller than B; B is taller than C. Therefore A is taller than C.

Anywhere in the world this will be true.

We can have knowledge of how things will be in the future.

It is a priori synthetic knowledge. A priori (not dependent on experience) synthetic (not true by definition)

While it is based on our experience (we saw Bill, Joe and Mike once) to know that if A is taller than B, and B is taller than C, then we don’t depend on experience to know that A is taller than C.

We can know it without experience it and can know it will be true anytime in the future if we encounter it.

So Newton is safe.

But there is a catch. A very important catch.

If everything we experience is pre-structured by our mind, then all we know of all phenomenon is how our mind structured it.

We don’t know and can’t know about the things in themselves.

The universe we experience conforms to our minds. What the universe is really like before our mind structures it we can never know.

So we can’t know about things in themselves.

This is why Kant is called an Idealist; All we know are the experience and ideas in our minds, not things in themselves.

But Kant is called a Critical Idealist. He believes the universe exists outside our minds but what we can know about it is filtered by our minds.

Other German Idealists abandoned the idea of the universe existing outside the mind at all and only the mind is what is real.

To them “What is true for you is true for you.”

This led to ideas about the Will and the Will to Power and Ubermensch, Tone 40, and OTs.

To Kant, what is true for you is most certainly not true.

So how did this help me with free will?

Kant isn’t done yet.

Kant uses the word Reason to mean the human drive to know everything.

Because Reason wants to know everything, this is what drives science.

But science is limited to knowing what it can, and Reason isn’t satisfied.

Reason wants to know it all; Reason wants to know the First Cause.

So it believes in God.

Kant is not saying that there isn’t a God, but what he is saying is that we can never know God (if there is one) because what we can know can only be based on experience (like Bill is taller than Joe, and Joe taller than Mike).

We can know things without needing to experience them (A is taller than B, B is taller than C, therefore A is taller than B) but all knowledge must be based on some experience.

This is the philosophical basis for Deism.

Kant points out that when people develop metaphysical theories about God, since the theories are not grounded in experience, the theory will eventually become contradictory and illogical.

So he dismisses discussions about metaphysical things.

He does say that people should believe metaphysical things, especially God, the soul and eternal life, rewards in eternal life and free will because these are the best basis of moral behavior. Again I am simplifying here.

Kant says science can never prove or disprove any of these things either.

Because all science can do is know about the world as we perceive it which is pre-structured by our minds.

Science cannot ever know about things in themselves.

Science therefore can know all about the human body, but not about the soul or free will if they exist.

This is basic Kant.

Kant gave science the legitimacy it needed and also leaves to God the things that are God’s

I hope this is understandable. It is tricky thing to explain.

Now some more on A priori knowledge.

While tautological statements conform to and are A priori knowledge, that is not all that A priori is.

That example you gave that "an a priori argument is one in which "you can see that it is true just lying on your couch. You don't have to get up off your couch and go outside and examine the way things are in the physical world. You don't have to do any science."

So here is an a priori statement: 7 + 5 = 12.

You don't have to check the physical world to know that it is true, and you don't have to check it every day.

Another practical example is that the Egyptians knew how to build pyramids.

They knew from experience how to build, but they didn't have much understanding of mathematics--in this case geometry.

If you asked an Egyptian back then or at the time of Plato how tall was a particular pyramid if its length was a certain distance, the Egyptian would still have to measure it.

But the Greek philosopher could just do the geometry and tell you exactly how tall it was without ever seeing a pyramid or leaving his couch.

That is a priori knowledge.

It is not just an argument about definition.

Plato had a sign over the door of his Academy that read "Let know one enter here who is ignorant of geometry."

I forgot to add on an earlier post that geometry was one example knowledge that is universal, necessary, and timeless.

"All bachelors are unmarried" is true by definition, and therefore it can be considered a priori.

But technically to make the distinction between the statement and a priori knowledge Kant calls the first statement "analytic," that is, true by definition.

Things that need proof he calls "synthetic" statements (loosely, syn=together, thetic=to put), which is a putting together definition and observations.

The difference between Hume and Kant is that Kant came up with synthetic a priori, which means it is independent of experience.

Experience only tells us what has happened so far, but the synthetic a priori statement is binding on the future, necessarily.

The necessity (or must be true) is drawn in the forms of our understanding, to which all future understanding must conform.

This is what makes science reliable.

The Anabaptist Jacques

Mine above in BOLD.

TAJ, thank-you so much for taking the time to answer so detailed and complete. I am really getting into this, and am responding as best as I can.

I had to stop, as it was getting late and I will finish tomorrow.

Please respond to what I answered above. Am I still a post-modernist? :coolwink:

I am going to have to really take a look at this:

a priori and synthetic (true independent of experience but not true by definition).

My gut inclination is that there is no such thing. In the end I feel that it is actually true by definition, but one is deceiving oneself in imagining that one is not entering the order his or herself through covert defining. But, I may be wrong. I am going to have to devote some serious attention to this, because THIS POINT is key and vital.
 
Mine above in BOLD.

TAJ, thank-you so much for taking the time to answer so detailed and complete. I am really getting into this, and am responding as best as I can.

I had to stop, as it was getting late and I will finish tomorrow.

Please respond to what I answered above. Am I still a post-modernist? :coolwink:

I am going to have to really take a look at this:

a priori and synthetic (true independent of experience but not true by definition).

My gut inclination is that there is no such thing. In the end I feel that it is actually true by definition, but one is deceiving oneself in imagining that one is not entering the order his or herself through covert defining. But, I may be wrong. I am going to have to devote some serious attention to this, because THIS POINT is key and vital.

Your words are in brackets:

[Wikipedia described him as being known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism.]

He is sometimes called one of the great empiricist. But I do not call him that because in today's connotations empiricism means that observation of experience is the only true knowledge.

But Hume showed how empirical data can not provide certainty for the future. So because of that I make the distinction.


[I think this is absurd. Of course it is impossible. But who cares? It seems much ado about nonsense (which is what I consider many of them to be doing - though not all of them). I never studied any philosophers to come to this conclusion, and this idea that follows comes simply from observing my experiences and expectations of the future. Any sensible person need only observe what has happened, notice the consistency and patterns, experience that these things happen in a highly probabilistic repetitive manner, and ASSUME (quite correctly) that just as the sun rose yesterday, it will most likely rise tomorrow. I think this search and need for "total certainty" is absurd too. It is a value and a need that is exaggerated and misplaced within the subject of philosophy.

There is no "certain knowledge" (not outside of the imagination), and any hope, demand or need for it is misguided. But there can be "fairly certain knowledge" that is adequate for normal practical matters. In fact, all science and especially engineering is based on the fact that we can be pretty sure that the radio electronics will function tomorrow just as they did yesterday, and that the laws of mechanics will continue along so that the bridges and buildings won't fall down.]


Who cares? Farmers care. Investors care. Parents care. Scientist care. Pilots of ships and airplanes care. Anyone who drives a car cares.

You have to remember that at the time most progress in human knowledge was based on certainty.

Today we take it all for granted. And what you would call fairly certain knowledge wasn't good enough for someone figuring out how to navigate a ship.

Because of how data and knowledge is treated by proxy in our society today we take all of this for granted.

But it was a life and death matter back then and it still is a life and death matter today, but most of us are removed from it.

I don't want the engineers who operate the nuclear reactor near my house to be just fairly certain.

Nor do I want the pilot of a plane I am in to be just fairly certain.

Or my surgeon.

Because most people in our society survive not through their own knowledge but through a vast network in the division of labor we cam get by with being fairly certain.

But the airline pilot knows he has to be certain, and the surgeon knows he has to be certain, and the guy running the nuclear reactor knows he has to be certain.

If you are not at the pivotal life and death point than you can live with being fairly certain.


[What is the point of this? I truly don't get it. We define taller to mean that A is higher than B. So if two things are taller than other things, of course, blah-blah-blah. It is "necessary" ONLY because it is defined that way. It is a mental artifice of meaning and significance, and says nothing about "truth". It is a created significance, that people then get all worked up about. If this, then that . . . logic . . . to me it all seems to be a mentally created reality that MUST conform to the rules because it is DESIGNED that way. There is no inherent truth in any of it - as the "truth" is built into it.

Tell me something that is "necessarily true" that MATTERS. These examples of bachelors and how tall somebody is seem so . . . trite (to me).]


You are fixating on an example and not the real world. It there was not know data that was necessarily true then our modern society could not exist.

Computers, electronics, aviation, agriculture and most other things could only have developed because the creators of the technology or science could distinguish what was necessarily true and what was not.

It is no co-incident that Science boomed after Kant sorted these ideas out.

And remember by the way, science at the time was natural philosophy.


[It doesn't matter if there is cause and effect. One can anticipate and predict behavior based on past behavior, because simple observation shows that certain things happen over and over and over again in the same or similar way. It is THAT simple observation that made all science possible. There was NO requirement of philosophy to permit science. In fact, philosophy and philosophers were a minor side event to the development of science. Science developed and would develop with or without philosophers. While they commented on science, they were not the reason for it or the justification for it.

For example, I have noticed that the storms come in from the west, almost always, and last about 45 minutes. I could play games of envisioning cause and effect, but I don't bother. I notice a pattern and the pattern repeats. As long as it repeats, I can continue to predict well. The same with the "laws of nature", or electricity or chemistry, or whatever. As long as it all happens just as it did yesterday, or at least as close as needed for all practical purposes, science "works". The need for some idea of cause and effect is an additive (to me). I don't need it.

And, if and when predictions start to fail, if and when the radios all stop working, if and when the bridges all fall down, then we will have to observe and notice NEW patterns, and learn a new system of prediction.]


The entirety of science and the scientific method depends on the concept of cause and effect.

Again, being so far removed from the point of invention and creation you only see the product of these ideas. Not the ideas that the products depend upon.


[Again, I don't see the importance. People make up all sorts of mental systems, logic being one of them, and then get all excited because they "find truth". The "truth" is built into the system from the start. I can close my eyes and make up al sorts of consistent worlds of meaning, where this true if that is true, and make up all sorts of definitions, but this all involves ONLY mentally created things. I suppose what I find weird is the attempt to use the word "truth" about any of it. It is a MOCK UP. It is an imaginative creation. Math is also such a thing. The IDEAS of equality, zero, infinity, addition, subtraction, etc. all "work" because they are DEFINED as they are. It is an entirely mentally created thing. And THAT is fine. I love many mentally created things. THat is one of the great wonders of the human mind and imagination. It can make shit up. I suppose a problem is that too many people, including many philosophers apparently, confuse what they MAKE UP with some essential and necessary objective reality!]


And again you don't understand what is necessary to arrive at a correct solution of ideas.

You use this thought process yourself but deny its existence.

And I suspect that you do not understand math so well.

Math predicts things that later are proven to be true.

Math is a priori knowledge. It is the study of the measurement, properties and relationships of quantities, using numbers and systems.

You can close your eyes and imagine any words or system you want. But what is true in your imaginations isn't necessarily what is true in the world. Mathematics work.

It is the one thing we know for certain that always works. It is true knowledge.

If mathematics tells us one thing and our observations tell us another thing than we can be certain that the math is right and our observations are wrong.

Do you not believe that the Earth goes around the sun? Do you really not believe that?

What we observe each and everyday is that the sun goes around us. I can point to where it will appear and point it as it passes overhead and point to it when it disappears on the other side.

But because of mathematics, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, all mathematicians knew that couldn't be true because of their mathematical calculation of the planets.

I know you admire Korbzybski, but it is you now who is claiming that the word is the thing. That your definition or any definition is what a thing is, especially math.


[Again there is no need for any concept of cause and effect, Just observe PATTERNS. When they repeat, consistently, over time, one can feel fairly sure that they will do so again tomorrow. THAT is the ACTUAL basis of prediction in life and science. All else is mental chicanery, and a contrivance of significance and meaning. One need not "believe", and instead one need only assume with a fairly high degree of probability that the same thing will repeat if done again. THAT is the entire basis of scientific experimentation. The theories and explanations are actually ancillary. NOBODY knows why anything behaves as it does. Al, pretense at grasping the WHYS is make-believe. But, just as science can observe and predict based on PAST OBSERVATIONS, so can any person.]


And again you are not seeing the level of knowledge and certainty needed for survival and for society to work.

You are just seeing the products and customs which are the result of that knowledge and certainty.


[How could a philosophical IDEA put scientific research into question? That sees absurd to me. Did these people feel so unsure of their observations that they would second-guess them based on a THEORY of some philosopher? Personally, I can't quite grasp that. If I conducted tests on ball bearings falling in a vacuum, and also of a feather falling in a vacuum , and observed that they fell at the same rate, how would some THEORY of knowledge get me doubt what I easily and clearly observed. To me, you are giving philosophy an exaggerated sense of importance in all of this. Science did and would grown and develop no matter what philosophers had to say, because it was and IS based on observation and closely tested experimental experience. If anything, the philosophers felt a need to get their ideas to conform with the complete success and validity of science!]


Philosophical ideas are what separates science from pseudo-science.

Science itself is based on philosophical ideas of knowledge and truth.

If this were not so than Hubbard would be right about everything he said and so would every trick of Houdini and every time an adult makes a quarter disappear and then pulls the quarter out of some kids ear would be science.

You are making way too many assumptions that the ideas and math and science are inconsequential to how things are in your life.


[This seems nuts to me. It is almost common sense. If you observe a certain pattern in many places, in many times, it becomes safe to assume that it will happen elsewhere in a similar way, because for all practical purposes THAT IS THE WAY THINGS BEHAVE. One doesn't need to observe ALL possible examples to safely assume that the pattern will repeat. And I need NO philosophy to know that. I need only open my eyes, LOOK, and observe the way things behave. The obvious consistency is readily apparent. It isn't consistent because philosophy says so; it is consistent because it is consistent.]


You contradict yourself so many times. If you see a pattern in many places, you have already proved Kant correct.

You see a pattern. You see many patterns. You believe it is safe to assume that the pattern will occur again.

The presupposition here is that the same cause will have the same effect.

You have proved Kant's point--you view things as space and time and with cause and effect.

You really got to let go of these ideas and presuppositions you have about words being reality, and that there is no reality outside of the words. (A post-Modern view if I ever heard one!)


[My answer? Who cares? I don't get the importance or significance of the question. YOU can and will NEVER know with full certainty any "truth" about reality. Sure, you can pretend that you do, by mental shenanigans and conceptual gymnastics, but really, it is all make-believe. If the laws of the universe change tomorrow, all of this will have been meaningless and wrong.]

You say who cares and it doesn't matter, yet you typed words into your computer with the presupposition that all the technology works, that the mathematics behind the it is true, that the science is correct, and that therefore I will see your words.

Again, you've got to lose the presupposition and idea that the entire world is just the words you call it.


[This is why I get rude with philosophy, because to me, some of it seems so absurdly minor and insignificant, yet these thinkers make such a great deal about it. Also, as an example, the advent of digital technology, and the great advances in computer technology had NOTHING to do with any theories about knowledge or truth. Science does what it does, regardless of what all these others might "think" about it.]


Your rudeness is inconsequential.

You often show your contempt for things you don't understand and hold your own thoughts as all you need.

Digit technology and science has everything to do with theories of knowledge and truth.

Do you really think an electronic engineer would be successful if he didn't know what was true and what wasn't?

You've really got to throw away Hubbard's idea that what is true for you is true for you. That is the premise for thinking you don't need to know what knowledge is.


[NO! I do not see that is true. That is not the reason why. There is something to the nature of what is "out there", and any mind interacting with it will observe similar patterns. You can "know" with a fair degree of high probability that things will repeat tomorrow. That is true if you just LOOK. It has nothing to do with any theory you have about the mind. Science WORKS no matter what theories and explanations one might have about WHY it works.]


Again, you are showing you lack of understanding of philosophy, math, and science.

Science is based on the scientific method.

At the start of the scientific method the great philosophers and mathematicians like Francis Bacon, Descartes, Galileo realized that there was not way of knowing for sure if what they were saying was true.

So they developed the Scientific Method.

The method would get to the truth.

But they recognized that they still had a problem because all that the scientific method can do is use inductive reasoning.

Kant shows that even with inductive reasoning you can develop knowledge of experience that will hold true in the future.

It is as though you are walking into a building and saying that you like the building at the same time claiming that the architects (who designed the building using synthetic a priori knowledge and mathematics), the builders, (who use physics based on synthetic a priori), and anyone else involved do not exist simply because you see a pattern of a building and therefore that is all there is to it.

You are too socked in to your own thoughts and ideas as being real truth instead of just thoughts and ideas.

Philosophy is vital.

If it ridiculous to you then perhaps you don't understand what is vital.

We would live in a dark age without it

The Anabaptist Jacques
 

Gadfly

Crusader
TAJ, thank-you again for the careful and well though out response.

I do NOT think that ALL philosophy is pissing into thew wind. Just some of it.

For example I read the first chapter of Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy yesterday, and I enjoyed it VERY much.

I may very well be confused about some basic things here. That is why I am entering upon a road to carefully study a good deal of these things (once and for all).

I am talking and explaining, as a way to try to sort it out. I do GREATLY appreciate the time you take to examine and show how what I say is wrong, because it helps me define what I need to take a better look at.

I have to first sort out what "knowledge" actually is. It seems to be always an idea or notion in the head of some man based on some experience. That experience need not necessarily be rooted in physical sensations, for example, one might derive knowledge from a "mystical vision" or from an imaginative exercise of some sort (as Einstein did with his mental excursion of imagination at the speed of light). But also, there can be a great deal of variations in the quality of ideas, as regards accuracy, completeness, validity, and so forth.

I am now spotting what appears to be a slight negative basis against knowledge itself, because I phrase it as "only an idea in the head of a man". I naturally, in my own habit, minimize it to a degree. I just saw (flash) that this needs to be examined. :yes:

I don't think I am confusing words with things, but then probably nobody who does so actually knows it or believes he or she is doing so.

I am going to have a draw out a historical chart of where science was at before and after Kant, because it really does seem to me that the people of science were off doing what THEY were doing, and that the people of philosophy were separately off doing what they were doing (thinking about what science was doing). I understand there are always connections and relationships. It seems to me at the moment that science would have progressed fine and well, regardless what philosophers thought about it.But there IS an actual history here, and I can try to examine and figure this out. Ideas evolve, and how Man views the world around him evolves, and this does greatly affect how Man deals with that world.

I have said in regards to Scientology that I consider certainty to be a "state of mind". Just as various people thought that the world was flat when it wasn't - they were "certain", but this certainty was a delusion. Possibly, I am focusing too much on the examples of certainty were it has been "wrong", and I need to look at examples where it has been right (but I still have the view that it is simply a "state of kind").

Possibly I have, and am now just noticing, that I have had all my life, a quiet and hidden antipathy to "objects of the mind". Though, at the same time, I know that I love and have expressed a love of mental creations. I need to take a good look at this.

I am confused about something here. I aim to sort it out.

I really do appreciate the time you take with me, and your tolerance of my . . . . confusion. I am not being sarcastic or rude. I mean it.

Lastly, my words only express what I am trying to communicate about my experiences, views and understandings. I very much do NOT have any view that words are things. I am fairly confident that none of us can ever "know" a "thing-in-itself", and therefore any word or idea used to label or define any of these "things" will always and only be an approximation.

Lastly, I got A's in all my math courses in college, including advanced differential equations and advanced calculus. Is it possible to do so "without understanding math"? It may be, in the sense that I might not understand the theoretical and philosophical basis of math, while still being able to well use and apply it. Just as a good mechanic might not at understanding the theory and design of internal combustion engines, he or she might still very well be a very good mechanic. There are a great many things to understand, and a great many ways to do so.

Well, off to meditate and then read on some more of Mr. Russell.

Thank-you again TAJ! :thumbsup:
 

Gadfly

Crusader
Philosophy is vital.

The Anabaptist Jacques

I suspect that you are right.

I, myself, have the view that HOW we understand and view the world and universe directly affects and changes what we do with that world.

Philosophy is, at its core, the basis of how anybody at anytime understands and views that world and universe around him or her. It digs into this aspect of thinking that a Man does about wherever he happens to find himself.

Simply, IDEAS about things, affect and change HOW we see, deal with and even experience those things. Ideas change the world. Ideas change people.

I am at this very moment gaining a better respect for philosophy. :happydance:

I need to take a better look at how philosophers and philosophy have changed and molded the overall general way that Man has understood things at any time and place.
 
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Gadfly,
I always thought from your posts that you were a born philosopher.

I have to correct a couple of important things.

First---very important----Hume was NOT an empiricist!

Nor was he a rationalist!

The philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) put forth the idea (around 1736) that neither science nor philosophy nor anyone could know anything with certainty for the future because the only knowledge one could have was that of experience, which is something that already happened.

But Hume maintained that certain knowledge of what must be true or could happen in the future was impossible.

The philosophical term for Must Be True is Necessarily. (Example: if Bill is taller than Joe, and Joe is taller than Mike, then it is necessarily true that Bill is taller than Mike)

To Hume, the concept of cause and effect was only a concept in the mind.

For example, if you placed an ice cube on a rock in the sunlight and the ice cube melted, all you saw was a sequence. You did not see cause an effect.

Hume pointed out there are two categories of knowledge in the mind: 1) Relationship of ideas and 2) Matters of fact.

Relationship of ideas are a prior (known to be true independent of experience) and true by definition alone. (Example: all bachelors are unmarried)

Matters of fact are a posterior (known to be true by experience) but not true by definition (Example: some bachelors are sad).

So the idea of cause and effect is nothing more than we seeing the ice cube on a rock (matter of fact), the sunlight hitting the ice (matter of fact), and the ice melting (matter of fact).

We may believe that if we put another ice cube there it will also melt because the sunlight caused the ice to melt (that it was caused by the sunlight is a conclusion based on our relationship of ideas, not experience).

Hume says we use our relationship of ideas to create the idea of cause when what we really experience was a sequence.

Hume said that people, through habit or repetition assign the concept of cause when in truth all they experienced was a sequence.

This all may sound silly and simplistic to us today, but this is because we have incorporated Kant’s ideas into our thinking.

But at the time it put scientific research and theories in question.

He had a point and scientist knew it.

I’ll use Newton’s Third Law of Motion as an example. The Law states “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Hume would ask how Newton could possibly know that.

Newton had not observed every action that has ever taken place.

Newton may have experienced this himself; he may even have experienced it throughout his entire life.

But Newton has not observed every action that has taken place.

How can Newton say that this Law will be true in the future or even in places on the other side of the world?

Kant remarked that if Hume was right, then science was in trouble.

So the question Kant was trying to solve was this: How can we know necessary (must be true) truths about reality?

What Kant does in Critique of Pure Reason (remember that reason means our desire to know) is to show that there is a third category of knowledge in the mind.

He does this by what he calls his “Copernican Revolution.”

Just as Copernicus changed the way we look at the universe, Kant changed the way we look at knowledge and the mind.

Here is what he did:

Per Hume, the mind held 1) Experiences (matters of fact), which were a posteriori (dependent on experience) and not true by definition, and 2) Relationships of Ideas, which were a prior (not dependent on experience) and true by definition.

The word for true by definition is analytic, and the word for not true by definition was synthetic.

So in the mind there are Relationship of Ideas, which are a prior (true independent of experience) and analytic (true by definition) and Experiences which are a posteriori (based on experience) and synthetic (not true by definition).

Kant showed how all knowledge begins with experience but not all knowledge stems from experience.

Kant discovered a third category of knowledge in the mind—a priori and synthetic (true independent of experience but not true by definition).

And this changes everything.

But how he did this to change the way the mind was understood.

Prior to Kant the idea was that experiences left their imprints on the mind because the mind was like a clay tablet and experiences left their impressions on the mind which passively received them.

What Kant suggested was that the mind actively grasps and organizes experiences.

The mind pre-structures experiences so that we can see them and experience them in a certain way.

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. (Sorry, it’s getting really late and I’m starting to channel Cole Porter).

Kant calls this the Transcendental Analytic, because the mind pre-structures and defines experiences so that it can take in the experiences.

Because of this we can know certain things about how we will experience the world tomorrow.

Mathematics (arithmetic and geometry) and some of the basic principles of physics are synthetic a priori knowledge.

How does this work?

It isn’t that our mind conforms to our experiences; our experiences conform to our mind.

Don’t confuse this with “what’s true for you is true for you.”!!!!

Kant calls all the things we sense phenomenon. The things we can’t sense he calls noumenon.

When we sense any object, our mind conforms these objects to the rules of understanding already in the mind.

Space and time are two examples. Our mind already pre-structures what we experience to meet our mind’s rule that objects exist in space and time.

There are other categories and more details about all this. But I want to skip all that because it is very involved.

But because the mind works this way we can know things a priori, that is, we can know things without experiencing them directly.

For example: We experienced that Bill is taller than Joe, and Joe is taller than Mike. We know that from experience.

But because we have in our mind the pre-structuring mechanism of space and time (and other categories) we can know without experiencing it that Bill must necessarily be taller than Mike.

We can now think a priori (without experience) and be right!

For example: A is taller than B; B is taller than C. Therefore A is taller than C.

Anywhere in the world this will be true.

We can have knowledge of how things will be in the future.

It is a priori synthetic knowledge. A priori (not dependent on experience) synthetic (not true by definition)

While it is based on our experience (we saw Bill, Joe and Mike once) to know that if A is taller than B, and B is taller than C, then we don’t depend on experience to know that A is taller than C.

We can know it without experience it and can know it will be true anytime in the future if we encounter it.

So Newton is safe.

But there is a catch. A very important catch.

If everything we experience is pre-structured by our mind, then all we know of all phenomenon is how our mind structured it.

We don’t know and can’t know about the things in themselves.

The universe we experience conforms to our minds. What the universe is really like before our mind structures it we can never know.

So we can’t know about things in themselves.

This is why Kant is called an Idealist; All we know are the experience and ideas in our minds, not things in themselves.

But Kant is called a Critical Idealist. He believes the universe exists outside our minds but what we can know about it is filtered by our minds.

Other German Idealists abandoned the idea of the universe existing outside the mind at all and only the mind is what is real.

To them “What is true for you is true for you.”

This led to ideas about the Will and the Will to Power and Ubermensch, Tone 40, and OTs.

To Kant, what is true for you is most certainly not true.

So how did this help me with free will?

Kant isn’t done yet.

Kant uses the word Reason to mean the human drive to know everything.

Because Reason wants to know everything, this is what drives science.

But science is limited to knowing what it can, and Reason isn’t satisfied.

Reason wants to know it all; Reason wants to know the First Cause.

So it believes in God.

Kant is not saying that there isn’t a God, but what he is saying is that we can never know God (if there is one) because what we can know can only be based on experience (like Bill is taller than Joe, and Joe taller than Mike).

We can know things without needing to experience them (A is taller than B, B is taller than C, therefore A is taller than B) but all knowledge must be based on some experience.

This is the philosophical basis for Deism.

Kant points out that when people develop metaphysical theories about God, since the theories are not grounded in experience, the theory will eventually become contradictory and illogical.

So he dismisses discussions about metaphysical things.

He does say that people should believe metaphysical things, especially God, the soul and eternal life, rewards in eternal life and free will because these are the best basis of moral behavior. Again I am simplifying here.

Kant says science can never prove or disprove any of these things either.

Because all science can do is know about the world as we perceive it which is pre-structured by our minds.

Science cannot ever know about things in themselves.

Science therefore can know all about the human body, but not about the soul or free will if they exist.

This is basic Kant.

Kant gave science the legitimacy it needed and also leaves to God the things that are God’s

I hope this is understandable. It is tricky thing to explain.

Now some more on A priori knowledge.

While tautological statements conform to and are A priori knowledge, that is not all that A priori is.

That example you gave that "an a priori argument is one in which "you can see that it is true just lying on your couch. You don't have to get up off your couch and go outside and examine the way things are in the physical world. You don't have to do any science."

So here is an a priori statement: 7 + 5 = 12.

You don't have to check the physical world to know that it is true, and you don't have to check it every day.

Another practical example is that the Egyptians knew how to build pyramids.

They knew from experience how to build, but they didn't have much understanding of mathematics--in this case geometry.

If you asked an Egyptian back then or at the time of Plato how tall was a particular pyramid if its length was a certain distance, the Egyptian would still have to measure it.

But the Greek philosopher could just do the geometry and tell you exactly how tall it was without ever seeing a pyramid or leaving his couch.

That is a priori knowledge.

It is not just an argument about definition.

Plato had a sign over the door of his Academy that read "Let know one enter here who is ignorant of geometry."

I forgot to add on an earlier post that geometry was one example knowledge that is universal, necessary, and timeless.

"All bachelors are unmarried" is true by definition, and therefore it can be considered a priori.

But technically to make the distinction between the statement and a priori knowledge Kant calls the first statement "analytic," that is, true by definition.

Things that need proof he calls "synthetic" statements (loosely, syn=together, thetic=to put), which is a putting together definition and observations.

The difference between Hume and Kant is that Kant came up with synthetic a priori, which means it is independent of experience.

Experience only tells us what has happened so far, but the synthetic a priori statement is binding on the future, necessarily.

The necessity (or must be true) is drawn in the forms of our understanding, to which all future understanding must conform.

This is what makes science reliable.

The Anabaptist Jacques

awww man...

if you think someone is taller than mike you don't know mikey

mikey is one badass sawedoff little peckerwood neither you nor hume should mess around with
 
TAJ, thank-you again for the careful and well though out response.

I do NOT think that ALL philosophy is pissing into thew wind. Just some of it.

For example I read the first chapter of Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy yesterday, and I enjoyed it VERY much.

I may very well be confused about some basic things here. That is why I am entering upon a road to carefully study a good deal of these things (once and for all).

I am talking and explaining, as a way to try to sort it out. I do GREATLY appreciate the time you take to examine and show how what I say is wrong, because it helps me define what I need to take a better look at.

I have to first sort out what "knowledge" actually is. It seems to be always an idea or notion in the head of some man based on some experience. That experience need not necessarily be rooted in physical sensations, for example, one might derive knowledge from a "mystical vision" or from an imaginative exercise of some sort (as Einstein did with his mental excursion of imagination at the speed of light). But also, there can be a great deal of variations in the quality of ideas, as regards accuracy, completeness, validity, and so forth.

I am now spotting what appears to be a slight negative basis against knowledge itself, because I phrase it as "only an idea in the head of a man". I naturally, in my own habit, minimize it to a degree. I just saw (flash) that this needs to be examined. :yes:

I don't think I am confusing words with things, but then probably nobody who does so actually knows it or believes he or she is doing so.

I am going to have a draw out a historical chart of where science was at before and after Kant, because it really does seem to me that the people of science were off doing what THEY were doing, and that the people of philosophy were separately off doing what they were doing (thinking about what science was doing). I understand there are always connections and relationships. It seems to me at the moment that science would have progressed fine and well, regardless what philosophers thought about it.But there IS an actual history here, and I can try to examine and figure this out. Ideas evolve, and how Man views the world around him evolves, and this does greatly affect how Man deals with that world.

I have said in regards to Scientology that I consider certainty to be a "state of mind". Just as various people thought that the world was flat when it wasn't - they were "certain", but this certainty was a delusion. Possibly, I am focusing too much on the examples of certainty were it has been "wrong", and I need to look at examples where it has been right (but I still have the view that it is simply a "state of kind").

Possibly I have, and am now just noticing, that I have had all my life, a quiet and hidden antipathy to "objects of the mind". Though, at the same time, I know that I love and have expressed a love of mental creations. I need to take a good look at this.

I am confused about something here. I aim to sort it out.

I really do appreciate the time you take with me, and your tolerance of my . . . . confusion. I am not being sarcastic or rude. I mean it.

Lastly, my words only express what I am trying to communicate about my experiences, views and understandings. I very much do NOT have any view that words are things. I am fairly confident that none of us can ever "know" a "thing-in-itself", and therefore any word or idea used to label or define any of these "things" will always and only be an approximation.

Lastly, I got A's in all my math courses in college, including advanced differential equations and advanced calculus. Is it possible to do so "without understanding math"? It may be, in the sense that I might not understand the theoretical and philosophical basis of math, while still being able to well use and apply it. Just as a good mechanic might not at understanding the theory and design of internal combustion engines, he or she might still very well be a very good mechanic. There are a great many things to understand, and a great many ways to do so.

Well, off to meditate and then read on some more of Mr. Russell.

Thank-you again TAJ! :thumbsup:

Thanks for the kind words.

If I may recommend a book on the history of scientific thought and how philosophy affects it I would suggest "The Structure of Scientific Revolution" by Thomas S. Kuhn. I think it came out in 1962.

He was a physicist who was hired to write a history of science.

The book is considered to be the most influential book on the history of science in over 100 years by different publications.

Bertrand Russell's book is excellent, although he doesn't always give the specific sources he quotes.

And, of course, there is no substitute for reading the real thing.

I would recommend first "The Republic" by Plato.

It would also be a good idea to read something giving the background information to the Republic.

For example, the place he is coming home from, the Piraeus, is where the more pro-democracy people lived. And the first two people he encounters are a man and his son.

The older man was not an Athenian citizen but he was a large arms dealer for the Athenians. Neither he or his son could vote when it was a democracy because they weren't Athenians

Later in real life the son dies fighting to restore democracy to Athens even though he himself would never be able to vote.

The book was written in 380 B.C.E. and was set somewhere between the years 419 and 405, I forget exactly.

And it is important to keep in mind that Plato was not writing this book for us to read, it was most likely written for the students at his school.

I don't know why there are no annontated versions of the Republic. Maybe I should write one! :omg:

But it is important to know these things to help understand the book. Imagine someone reading a book 2,000 years from now about a conversation with people such as Dick Cheney or Ronald Reagan or even Thomas Jefferson and the reader not understanding who they were and thinking they were just made up names.

Then "Nicomachean Ethics" by Aristotle. Nicomachean is simply the name of his son, Nicochemus, and the book is to his son.

There is also a great book called "50 Philosophy Classics" by Tom Butler-Bowden that summarizes fairly well influential philosophy books.

Then you can follow your interests from there.

Look at learning about philosophy as an adventure.

Once you start on the road of ideas you'll never know where it will lead you.

The Anabaptist Jacques
 

Gadfly

Crusader
Gadfly's Philosophical Ramblings Part 1

I read a bit of Russell's The Problems of Philosophy today.

I have a few comments and would like your feedback.

Russell takes the reader through a nice tour of sense-data, how THAT is ALL we actually ever have about any object (matter), and what might or might not exist independent of us that "causes" the sense-data.

This is how it seems to me. There is something there , from the viewpoint of a human being with physical senses, that exists independent of us. While it may be true that in the end we (as spirits), or God put and keeps it all there, for now, at this general point in time, for us, the stuff of matter (and energy) exists whether anybody looks at it or not.

Now, what we see/hear/feel is an appearance. We don't ever perceive or experience the actual thing, but only energy manifestations that come from a relationship with the thing. In fact, there are THREE things vital to any experience of any object of matter:

1. An observer with a viewpoint.
2. A context.
3. An object.

What I mean by context is the surrounding conditions such as light or darkness, wet or dry, cold or hot, etc. Let me give an example (I spent a few hours today making up examples to get all of this real to me).

Let's take Russell's example of a table. First, there cannot be a table outside of all context. It has to sit on something, like a floor or the ground. It won't EVER be found to exist just floating in space, unless of course a spaceship blew up and the chair was jettisoned out into space. There will be some condition of light or darkness. In total darkness, there is no visual experience of the table at all. The observer can be in the room right there with the table, but without any light (context), there will be no sort of perception or experience. Perception and experience require an INTERPLAY between the thing, the observer and some set of surrounding and influencing conditions that ALWAYS affect HOW the thing is perceived. You don't ever actually perceive the thing itself, but you ONLY perceive impressions called "sense data" (energy sent along nerve channels that ends in the brain - to be interpreted by . . . . YOU).

One could tap on the table, in a dark room, and you could hear the sound but you would have NO IDEA that it was a "table". It might be a chair, or a wooden plank. You might smell the varnish on the wood, but again, there is no necessary reason to "perceive" this as a table.

Obviously SIGHT is by far the sense with the greatest degree of influence on HOW we experience the world around us. It is surely the sense that provides the greatest experience of "space". But just as with objects, WHAT you experience is not actually space at all, but instead an interplay of energies interacting with the things out there and "you". All else is "inferred" from the sense-data. How and what is inferred probably varies from philosopher to philosopher.

If the same table were brought out into deep space, at near absolute zero temperature, and somebody came along and tapped on it with a hammer, it would break into a billion tiny pieces (crystallized). There would be no sound of this happening in the vacuum of space. If the same table were brought close to the sun it would disintegrate into its atomic and sub-atomic components. The CONTEXT determines the type and quality of the perceptions and experience.

So, the experience or perception of some aspect of the chair requires these three things. Russell didn't say that, but after looking it over, that seems obvious or necessary to me.

Just the observer and the object alone, without the specific context, do not define enough to permit an exact perception or experience.

Anyway, once THAT is established, realizing that you can look at the table from close or from far, in dim light or bright light, on a rainy day or a foggy day, the possible perceptions and experiences of the table, as SENSE-DATA, can and will be wide and varied. In each case of some perception, what you see, or hear, or touch is only a small aspect of some experience of the object in some relationship within a context. There is no experience or sense-data at all without a relationship and a context. I guess you might call this sort of sense perceptions and experiences historical, specific and conditional.

Now, after all of that Russell talks about how most philosopher's agree that there is some something there that continues to exist even if we aren't there to perceive it, but that WHAT this is exactly is argued about. He talked of how Berkeley tried to "prove" that all experience is "in the mind", which is not so difficult to agree with, but also that all objects were ALSO "in the mind" (of God). Now, I can actually envision how THAT might be true, but there is no way to "prove it". There can be arguments, just like lawyers argue in a courtroom, and THAT is what often bothers me about philosophy and why I call some of this "much ado about nothing" and "shenanigans".

Lawyers will say and do anything to "make their case", all truth be damned. Now while philosophers often claim that they are trying to figure out what is true and the nature of truth, it is interesting how many disagree, even about key points, and how in the end, it all comes down to who is better at convincing others through argument. Because really, if one is honest, some or much of this cannot be "proven". It can be "agreed with" though, or not.

Back to Berkeley. So, this is why I think it is at times much ado about nothing. It makes no difference whether all objects and matter exist as ideas in somebody's mind, in God's mind, in the "Mind of the Universe", whether God created them, or that they exist independently as they evolved naturally out of some quantum soup following some strange laws and realities we have yet to fathom. Because in the end, nothing changes! No matter what you think is true, and even, no matter which IS TRUE, the radios still will work, the bridges will still stand, the planets will still circle the sun, and behaviors will continue along as they did before.

I never liked "argument" as a path to truth, because it is far too susceptible to error (and deception - intentional or not). But I AM interested in coming to a better or accurate understanding of what actually is going on with matter, with energy, with consciousness, with experience, and so forth. That is why I am going to spend the next few months really examining all of this. I have a gut feeling that the instinctive or inherent perceptual biases of western thought railroad the venture to arrive at truth, and that this tendency to hinge all on reasoning is insufficient to the task. But, I need to at least look it all over in great depth, before I make any final decision.

Do any philosophers discuss how the very method itself, of finding and arriving at what is true, and what is the nature of things, may be flawed?

From what I read of Russell today, this is what I have gotten so far:

What we experience of the world of matter and energy is ONLY sense-data. These experiences are the most "real" to us. But these sensory experiences are always only appearances. These are NOT an actual experience of the "real thing itself". But THAT is OK! As I see it the idea of a "thing in itself" is a BOGUS concept. One is asking the wrong question. There is NO THING anywhere that 1) does not exist in some context, and that 2) can be experienced free of an observer with a viewpoint. Experience is all contextual and relative. And THAT is all we have in terms of any information about anything outside of our personal awareness.

Now, after that, I took a look at the world of my body, emotions and mind. Russell didn't go over these. He was only talking about the experience of some object or matter. Now, we each also experience emotions, sensations in the vicinity of the body (pressure, pain, tightness, hunger, etc), and aspects of our mind (thoughts, images, ideas, concepts, visions, etc.). At first glance it seems that these also involve the observer (which may or may not be some consistent and continual "I"), and the always necessary CONTEXT (set of conditions).

That's as far as I got, though I had MANY notions along the way.

For example, regarding quantum mechanics:

The most difficult problem… concerning the use of the language arises in quantum theory. Here we have at first no simple guide for correlating the mathematical symbols with concepts of ordinary language: and the only thing we know from the start is the fact that our common concepts cannot be applied o the structure of the atoms. (Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, 1963)

Due to the condition, resolution and context of a human body with its gross sensory apparatus, our experiences and possibilities of experience are greatly limited within a very narrow range. There is so little any of us can "know" based on this small bundle of perceptual avenues. The tiny slice of the pie that we perceive is such a tiny segment of the spectrum of energy. Research into quantum mechanics and sub-atomic particles digs into the very BASIS from whence everything else comes (including possibly consciousness and awareness). What exists as physical laws (Newton) on this level of resolution (zoomed out to the degree of magnitude of a human being) fall apart and do NOT exist at these finer levels of energy. Time and space take on different properties. So, I suspect that this thing we call consciousness and the basis of this thing we call the silent observer in our heads will only be finally grasped at the quantum level of reality.

Remember, it is this observer, this thinking entity that seems to now reside in each of our heads that asks these questions of philosophy and is trying to make sense of where it now finds itself.

Thanks TAJ for getting me going on this quest! :thumbsup:
 
Great post!

Something to keep in mind is that most philosophers are usually addressing a certain problem with their ideas.

In Russell's case he was of the philosophical school called Anglo-America Analytic Philosophy.

That was an attempt to develop a philosophy that wasn't at the mercy of language, which can be insufficient for philosophical inquiry.

This led to symbolic logic and other language studies.

They viewed this as the only way to understand what the real world actually is.

Eventually this school realized that this could never succeed and it pretty much fizzled out.

So Russell here is trying to figure a way to avoid the errors of language.

In the 20th century there were basically three schools of philosophy. Anglo-American analytic philosophy, Continental philosophy (this usually means Existentialism and other ones that developed in Europe and concerned being, and American pragmatism.

These schools did not contrast each other, they didn't even pay attention to each other.

It wasn't like three football teams competing against each other, it was like three different sports, baseball, football, and basketball.

Now the first two have faded and have taken on some of the ideas of American pragmatism.

The view that has crept into everyday thought is that of post-modernism (Foucault, Derrida).

Modernism was the view that science was the best way of learning about the objective world.

But post-modernism is the view that no knowledge is objective, even science, and some that our most cherished concepts we think of as valued neutral such as objectivity, knowledge, and truth are all in fact an expression of cultural prejudices.

Anyway, it looks like you are on the right track.

Just keep plugging away at it and don't get discouraged.

Let me know if you have any questions or anything I can help you with.

The Anabaptist Jacques
 

Gadfly

Crusader
But post-modernism is the view that no knowledge is objective, even science, and some that our most cherished concepts we think of as valued neutral such as objectivity, knowledge, and truth are all in fact an expression of cultural prejudices.

The Anabaptist Jacques

Are there any philosophers or schools of thought that analyze VALUES and the mechanisms that create "values"?

I know that this could also involve studies in sociology (and psychology).

For example, a concern for "truth" is actually a VALUE that some people consider important (or value). I have a slant in favor of truth, and establishing what is true versus what is false or a lie.

The view that objectivity is a thing to strive for is also a VALUE. I am not so sure about this one.

The notion that knowledge is of top concern is a VALUE. I am in favor of this one too.

I have no doubt that such values and judgments have been influenced by the state of any culture. Any era or time period, in any place, is characterized by a "Zeitgeist" and THIS includes a framework of ideas and values.

For example the ideas of hard work and personal responsibility brought about the idea that "rugged individualism" was a good thing, and something to be aspired to. THAT was most likely a cultural bias engendered by the Christianity of early American settlers.

I would have to take a really long and hard look though to decide if ALL values were cultural biases - though there is no doubt that all are to some degree arbitrary and mentally created. What would make values NOT arbitrary is if there was some inherent universal "nature" that made some such value essential or necessary - or . . . categorically imperative! :coolwink:

From what you say about post-modernism, it seems that it runs into sociology and possibly psychology. As must any philosophy?
 
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Are there any philosophers or schools of thought that analyze VALUES and the mechanisms that create "values"?

I know that this could also involve studies in sociology (and psychology).

For example, a concern for "truth" is actually a VALUE that some people consider important (or value). I have a slant in favor of truth, and establishing what is true versus what is false or a lie.

The view that objectivity is a thing to strive for is also a VALUE. I am not so sure about this one.

The notion that knowledge is of top concern is a VALUE. I am in favor of this one too.

I have no doubt that such values and judgments have been influenced by the state of any culture. Any era or time period, in any place, is characterized by a "Zeitgeist" and THIS includes a framework of ideas and values.

For example the ideas of hard work and personal responsibility brought about the idea that "rugged individualism" was a good thing, and something to be aspired to. THAT was most likely a cultural bias engendered by Christianity of early American settlers.

I would have to take a really long and hard look though to decide if ALL values were cultural biases - though there is no doubt that all are to some degree arbitrary and mentally created. What would make values NOT arbitrary is if there was some inherent "nature" that made such a value essential or necessary.

Well this gets into the branch of philosophy called ethics.

Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics were steeped in ideas about ethics.

They would use the word "ends" to mean values.

In one of the early Plato dialogues Socrates asks someone who said that goodness is what the Gods love.

So Socrates asks, "Is something good because the gods love it or do the gods love it because it is good?" (Socrates referred to himself as a "Gadfly.")

Plato puts forth inherent values and they are the Forms.

Personally, I think that while all particular values are culturally bias, I think there are some universal values (Forms) that transcend all cultures and times.

The Anabaptist Jacques
 

Gadfly

Crusader
And Beauty, Truth and Justice.

The Anabaptist Jacques

Interestingly, two of the things that naturally and instinctively annoyed me endlessly about the Church of Scientology were the constant deceit and unfairness. These two things REALLY BOTHERED ME DEEPLY. The constant deceptions that occurred for what claimed to be a "road to truth" rubbed at me very annoyingly.

In Scientology "truth" exists as a lowly form of "agreement", which renders it entirely subjective, arbitrary, and NOT "universal" at all. In Scientology, "truth" becomes whatever a group of subjective viewpoints agrees with. That is the OPPOSITE of "universal". :duh:

And so often, Scientology "justice" was a charade of real justice, or some weird parody of fairness - where all court actions were of the "kangaroo" variety!

Of course, at the most fundamental level what I was rebelling against was the constant lack of any serious concern for truth and justice!

It is interesting because nobody had to TEACH me to admire, want, and appreciate "truth" or "justice". I just did. They almost seem "naturally inherent", existing at a very basic level of my being (soul, character, nature). In fact, it seems to me that most people have an inborn/innate sense of justice and a desire for truth.
 
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