Ockham's Razor and Ding an sich

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Doreen, Nov 23, 2009.

  1. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Cortazars short stories are amazing. He's a great philosopher also, though one must pull the philosophy out, he's not like pontifying Tolstoy, for example.
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  3. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    This is the key area for me. Remember the empiricist is in situ. He or she wakes up and REMEMBERS the vast reading and studying they did about what other empiricists seem to have come across. Not only is this waking person remembering all of this, but they are remembering that it has worked for them to take these things as very likely. So there we have a couple of probabilities that I cannot see how one can work out the numbers on, right off the bat. Plus any assumptions about how belief and memory may affect the world and even the past. Further that remembering is about empirical studies, for the vast majority, performed by others. Hence not direct experience. These others are biased by the dominant metaphors of their time, amonst other biases - if these other empiricists even exist, I must point out. (see new thread I'll put up in a couple of days)

    The empiricist will tend to say that 'so far it is working' as if this, to the incarnate experiencer, is something one has direct access to.

    Again I think people have trouble with this because when they imagine this, they imagine the ding an sich of the world being like what they seem to remember yesterday was like. This mental image reinforces the sense that they can judge the liklihood of it having worked in the past.

    All this is not even touching the ways belief - including belief about what we can and cannot know - may create experience. Or rather to what degree.

    I am saying, as another creature in situ, that the empiricist should be very careful about thinking they can come up with probabilities for what is working for others. It is in that context I am working myself, here.

    Note also that Glaucon acknowledged that empiricists probably should be solipsists.

    I am not sure I have ever met one who was.

    How can something so fundamental be missed if this is the best system?

    I will also start another thread to show why the empiricist is handicapped in relation to someone who does not restrict themselves to empiricism.
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  5. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    I'm not quite sure what in particular you're referring to....

    All we can be certain of, are recorded truths of fact, and logical truths. Beyond that, strictly, it's all probabilistic.

    Ah, now this is interesting [but somewhat of an aside...].
    Again, there is no certainty of certainty [or non-certainty], aside from the few exceptions. Nonetheless, it is more reasonable to support the notion that the nature of our environment is such that it is a shared domain [and therefore, its 'properties' (not that I want to get into "qualia")] than it is to support the notion that it is some sort of Berkeleyian ephemera.

    I do realize that you're heading here to support the position that the Empiricist is really a solipsist....but it's not that clearcut methinks. This heading will bring us more to an epistemological question, as opposed to the ontological one here..[though I recognize, the two are difficult to disentangle]

    [potential new topic??]

    Perhaps, but procedurally, this becomes more of a burden than it's worth.
    Take into consideration that the relative 'population' of certain things is abysmally minuscule when compared to the 'population' of those that are not....

    Not at all.
    What it implies is simply that a system for usefully describing our world must be measured against the public standard of utility, and not some bizarre notion of 'Real', or 'True', or what have you..[whatever Rational all-encompassing notion you like...].

    Also here [as well as your 2nd quoted comment above] you're introducing the old 'Other Minds' problem. Again... fruit for another topic...

    And in essence [arrrg], that is what they do.
    However, you are correct to point out that they do [obviously] 'over-extend' themselves. But this is precisely a result of the empirical methodology: the Scientific Method [SM] [as one well-known example of the empirical approach] is not about analysis, but rather it is about prediction. The empiricist, via inductive logic, enables us to go beyond our mere, and subjective, experience.
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  7. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Are the above two statements probablistic?

    I do realize that you're heading here to support the position that the Empiricist is really a solipsist....but it's not that clearcut methinks. This heading will bring us more to an epistemological question, as opposed to the ontological one here..[though I recognize, the two are difficult to disentangle]

    [potential new topic??][/QUOTE]

    I wasn't really heading in that direction - though I appreciate all hallucinations that I might be taking interesting or at least reasonable line.

    Honestly, I am reacting intuitively. My gut reaction is that pure empiricists should be very careful about assumptions. Given the radical range of differences one can experience in other individuals, the problem of other minds and a philosophical position with a kind of 'I am peering through a periscope with a somewhat astigmantic lens' base, anything close to certainty about other people's ability or even relationship with the world is a no no.

    I will try to keep coming back to this in an organized way to lay out the steps.

    This to me seems silly also. How could such a creature even develop a language and begin to organize sense experiences. Do we really think this was guesswork.......then lucky guesses.......then we started to build?

    But here again, I feel inadequate to the task of clearly delineating an absurdity I wish was obvious to you also. But I will not give up.

    I think one should see what it is like to engage in speech acts that are consistent with the philosophical position one thinks one has. One may find one does not really have it. If one allows oneself to make blank, certain, unqualified statements, but claims an official position as believing only in probabilities, I think one never really comes to self-knowledge on the issue.

    If it is best for our minds to use it, one would think that those who believe this would use it nearly all the time, with occasional lapses. This is not my experience.

    Sure, but it should be predictive in a very cautious way. I expect this phenomenon to repeat, and the like. Not, this repeating phenomenon shows that that the universe is this and only this and so you must be misinterpreting your experiences which I am, by definition cut off from.
  8. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    Clearly not; they qualify within the former group.

    Can't say as I understand...[..another issue we've discussed.. lol]

    And they are. Thus, the precision of logic and inductive analysis.

    Of course; there's no better explanation.
    What's the alternative?

    Again, it all depends on the context. Some things can be asserted undeniably; the rest is contingent.

    Interesting. This completely describes my experience.
    I'm not sure how you would then describe your experience...

    Bu this is exactly how it does work.
    The process is one of refining....

    Doreen, I don't want to give the impression here that I'm flippantly reacting to your concerns. I just don't understand what it is that's bothering you here.
    I suspect the issue is a descriptive one, rather than that of the empirical methodology itself.

    While I do agree with you that, strictly speaking, the [hypothetical] pure empiricist should be a solipsist, the fact of the matter is that the brute pragmatic utility of the empirical method has, over time, lent us such confidence in its powers that we feel free to [for lack of a better term...] reify its hypotheses, principles, laws, etc., to the point where we do speak of them as if they were certain [while we know that, they are in fact not].

    I imagine that, in the new thread you've started, some of the issues here may be cleared up.

    In the meantime I would urge you to check out the following links. Both direct to Henri Poincare's work "Science and Hypothesis".

    This is the online full text:

    HP S&H

    This will allow you to d/l the full text:

    HP S&H d/l

    This second link is actually a very handy resource for texts...
  9. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    First point in reading the thread that it seemed I should address a question, though it's sort of tangential of course.

    "As I asked elsewhere, without the observer, what is time?"

    I believe that question is necessarily indeterminate.

    Without the observer, nothing can be observed ya know...

    IMO, every question ever asked implicitly includes a role for the observer. When you ask a question that attempts to remove the observer there can be no answer. This is sort of the essence of tao as I see it.
  10. swarm Registered Senior Member

    Without them you could not arrive at a decision.
  11. swarm Registered Senior Member

    It is impossible for a question to be asked without an observer.
  12. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

  13. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    I don't see the relevence of this comment, given the original context in which I asked it.
  14. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Which fits with where I was going. I was trying to show the assumptions we make about Ding an sich, when we imagine ourselves not there. Generally, I think, we fail to remove perception from our image of things in themselves. So we have this weird confidence about what DanS is.
  15. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    (pardon i ignored sci for a couple of months or something)


    The thing is the things in our environment come through our senses of course, and our senses are us... so of course they seem "real". It follows that without some skepticism we presume what we experience, what we think we saw, is absolute.

    At the core I think it's a matter of heuristics and efficiency. It's simply cumbersome to deal with multitudes of possibility that don't seem obvious or relevant. A solution set to "what the hell is this thing?" is simplified rather nicely by ignoring apparently irrelevant possibilities.

    I think the weird confidence is necessary for most, as to lack it risks slipping into being overwhelmed by inefficiency.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2010
  16. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Sure. I do not walk around - anymore that is - trying to see if I am missing some other perspective on all of my beliefs and perceptions. I do not think this is ideal. My point was much slimier - heh, heh. I was pointing out that none of us follow Occam's Razor all the time or even usually. If it is useful for us not to in this case - a la your concise argument - it may also be in other cases.

    People whip out Occam's Razor to cut off other people's fat - I am suddenly thinking of The Merchant of Venice - but never notice how chubby they themselves are.

    Less is not necessarily more. Sometimes it's less.
  17. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Sankhya philosophy made the minimal number of premises, though supported by modern sceince.

    1. Matter EXISTS truly ie uncreateable and indestructive..

    2. Matter has energy and is ever mobile.

    3. Matter has INERTIA.

    Simpler premises are not possible. There is no need to stretch or twist the meanings. With these pemises, the universe has the following attributes:

    1. It has always existed in one or other form, even if primeval matter like plasma.

    2. It evolves and dissolves periodically. Without dissolution it can never evolve.

    Sankhya has been Occamist centuries before Occam was born.
  18. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    What is 'matter'?

    Occam was not suggesting that the correct premises would be few, nor was he, in regard to the Razor, suggesting what these premises were. So having a few premises, even if they 'work' is not being Occamist, just as saying everything is Brahmin - which is simpler than your schema - is not 'being Occamist' nor being more Occamist than Sankya. That all said I find the premises interesting, but I think we need to know what he meant by matter.
  19. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Three premises of Sankhya cannot be faulted, they pass the modern sceintific enquiry.

    Matter is, uncreated and has true and real existence, not an illusion.

    It has energy and is always mobile. So as Einstein stumbled upon it, there cannot be any frame at absolute rest. Energy is a quality of matter.

    Inertia resists changes and motion. But without it no object can retain a semblance of form.

    There should be minimum number of premises and they should be simple too. Occum or no Occum.
  20. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    As given by you, they are flawed.
    Matter CAN be destroyed... just bring it into contact with antimatter... and you annihilate both and release rather a lot of energy (in accordance with Mass/Energy equivalence).

    Unless you wish to claim that energy is matter? In which case energy is not a "quality of matter" as you claim. :shrug:

    Some might claim that matter is merely energy in its densest form... that it is all the same "stuff" (which one might call "string"?).

    And now I might have to ask you to define "true", "real" and "existence". You may think I'm being flippant but it seems that behind your "three premises" are some assumptions that should also surely be subject to OR?
  21. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    Incorrect and, more importantly, non sequitur.

    You would do well to recognize that this is a scientific Site. Sorry, but there are no special infallibilities granted here for scripture.
  22. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    or, perhaps more importantly, define "matter." i find the notion that some indians 2 millennia back intended the same by "matter"--rather, whatever term has been inadequately translated as such--as physicists (or western philosophers) do today a trifle suspect.

    and can someone fix the sci-spellchecker? i spelled "millennia" correctly!
  23. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Well, you have your hands full with the other responses - WELCOME BACK PARMALEE!

    I second Parmalee's request for a definition of matter, keeping in mind Sarkus' questions about how it relates to/compares with/is or is not distinct from energy.

    Once we have a definition of matter, can you explain how we know

    Last and related. Is matter 'out there'? Is matter what makes up objects? Is there matter without a perceiver? If so how can we know what its qualities are?
    These questions bring us back to the OP.

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