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Author Topic:   Underlying Philosophy
PaulK
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Posts: 15666
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 496 of 577 (569529)
07-22-2010 3:43 AM
Reply to: Message 495 by Dr Adequate
07-22-2010 3:18 AM


Re: Backtracking
I suppose I should have remembered Instrumentalism.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 495 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-22-2010 3:18 AM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 497 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-22-2010 8:13 AM PaulK has responded

Dr Adequate
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Joined: 07-20-2006
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Message 497 of 577 (569552)
07-22-2010 8:13 AM
Reply to: Message 496 by PaulK
07-22-2010 3:43 AM


The Irrelevance Of Ontology
I suppose I should have remembered Instrumentalism.

I wasn't advocating Instrumentalism as such.

My point is just that ontology is irrelevant to epistemology. What I call "reality" might exist only in my mind; or it might be the Red King's dream; or it might be an idea in the mind of God, like dear dotty old Bishop Berkley said; or it might be the maya that separates me from Brahma, as in Hindu philosophy; or it might be a computer simulation, as some have speculated; or it might be an illusion foisted on me by a "Cartesian demon" ...

... and I can still investigate what happens when I drop a piece of zinc into a beaker of sulfuric acid. To find this out I don't need to answer a single ontological question, I just need to be able to answer more commonplace questions such as: "Which drawer do I keep the zinc in?"

---

Note that, conversely, studying the facts can never help me in deciding between ontologies. There is no reason why the Red King's dream of "reality" should have observable properties different from a computer simulation of "reality".

---

This is why I regard ontology as such a non-subject. Not only can we find out nothing at all about it, but also it wouldn't matter if we did.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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 Message 496 by PaulK, posted 07-22-2010 3:43 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 498 by PaulK, posted 07-22-2010 8:39 AM Dr Adequate has responded
 Message 499 by nwr, posted 07-22-2010 9:26 AM Dr Adequate has not yet responded

PaulK
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Posts: 15666
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 498 of 577 (569558)
07-22-2010 8:39 AM
Reply to: Message 497 by Dr Adequate
07-22-2010 8:13 AM


Re: The Irrelevance Of Ontology
It seems to me that is precisely where Instrumentalism DOES come in. It does away with the tacit assumptions that there actually is a physical substance that we call zinc and another that we call sulphuric acid, for instance.

Now I will grant that these assumptions are obvious and intuitive and only philosophers are at all likely to argue against them. I will grant that it is normal and natural to ignore them and just get on with the job. But they are still there. And that is why Instrumentalism is an important point - because it allows us to do science with even fewer assumptions than presuppositionalists think.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 497 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-22-2010 8:13 AM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 500 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-22-2010 9:51 AM PaulK has responded

nwr
Member
Posts: 5587
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 499 of 577 (569566)
07-22-2010 9:26 AM
Reply to: Message 497 by Dr Adequate
07-22-2010 8:13 AM


Re: The Irrelevance Of Ontology
Dr Adequate writes:
This is why I regard ontology as such a non-subject. Not only can we find out nothing at all about it, but also it wouldn't matter if we did.

Thanks for that. I have never been able to see any point to ontology, except perhaps as a basis for ridiculous arguments for the existence of God. It's refreshing to see something other than the usual references to ontology.

This message is a reply to:
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Dr Adequate
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Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 8.3


Message 500 of 577 (569568)
07-22-2010 9:51 AM
Reply to: Message 498 by PaulK
07-22-2010 8:39 AM


Re: The Irrelevance Of Ontology
It seems to me that is precisely where Instrumentalism DOES come in. It does away with the tacit assumptions that there actually is a physical substance that we call zinc and another that we call sulphuric acid, for instance.

There actually are! --- and it's not an assumption, I can show 'em to you!

And this retort demonstrates one of the problems with trying to discuss ontology at all. Was sich überhaupt sagen läßt, läßt sich klar sagen; und wovon man nicht reden kann, darüber muß man schweigen. So there.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 498 by PaulK, posted 07-22-2010 8:39 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 502 by PaulK, posted 07-22-2010 12:53 PM Dr Adequate has responded
 Message 503 by Huntard, posted 07-22-2010 1:11 PM Dr Adequate has not yet responded

Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16107
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 8.3


Message 501 of 577 (569597)
07-22-2010 11:58 AM
Reply to: Message 490 by sac51495
07-21-2010 9:51 PM


The Scientific Method
I'm not arguing for the validity or invalidity of the scientific method.

Yeah, I've noticed that you're remarkably coy on that subject.

Why? If your theology is, as you claim, such a great foundation for epistemology, surely you should by now have figured out some sort of opinion on whether the scientific method is valid or invalid.

I should be interested to hear your conclusion ... and how you derive it from the scriptural texts you've been quoting at us.


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PaulK
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Posts: 15666
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 502 of 577 (569613)
07-22-2010 12:53 PM
Reply to: Message 500 by Dr Adequate
07-22-2010 9:51 AM


Re: The Irrelevance Of Ontology
To say that you can show me assumes that our senses give us information about external reality. The value of Instrumentalism in this debate is that it doesn't have to make assumptions like that.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 500 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-22-2010 9:51 AM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 504 by nwr, posted 07-22-2010 1:29 PM PaulK has responded
 Message 507 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-22-2010 1:49 PM PaulK has responded

Huntard
Member (Idle past 638 days)
Posts: 2870
From: Limburg, The Netherlands
Joined: 09-02-2008


Message 503 of 577 (569616)
07-22-2010 1:11 PM
Reply to: Message 500 by Dr Adequate
07-22-2010 9:51 AM


Translation
For the non German speakers:

"Was sich überhaupt sagen läßt, läßt sich klar sagen; und wovon man nicht reden kann, darüber muß man schweigen.

Means:

"What can be said anyway, can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot talk, one should remain silent."

Or something in that regard.


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 Message 500 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-22-2010 9:51 AM Dr Adequate has not yet responded

nwr
Member
Posts: 5587
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 504 of 577 (569619)
07-22-2010 1:29 PM
Reply to: Message 502 by PaulK
07-22-2010 12:53 PM


Re: The Irrelevance Of Ontology
PaulK writes:
To say that you can show me assumes that our senses give us information about external reality.

It only assumes that the verb "to show" has to do with the use of our senses.

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 Message 502 by PaulK, posted 07-22-2010 12:53 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
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PaulK
Member
Posts: 15666
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 505 of 577 (569620)
07-22-2010 1:32 PM
Reply to: Message 504 by nwr
07-22-2010 1:29 PM


Re: The Irrelevance Of Ontology
quote:

It only assumes that the verb "to show" has to do with the use of our senses.

How else would you "show" me zinc and sulphuric acid ?


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Replies to this message:
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Theodoric
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Posts: 6896
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 506 of 577 (569622)
07-22-2010 1:35 PM
Reply to: Message 505 by PaulK
07-22-2010 1:32 PM


Re: The Irrelevance Of Ontology
Maybe it is a euphemism for something else. Like how the bible uses "to know".


Facts don\'t lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts

This message is a reply to:
 Message 505 by PaulK, posted 07-22-2010 1:32 PM PaulK has not yet responded

Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16107
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 8.3


Message 507 of 577 (569624)
07-22-2010 1:49 PM
Reply to: Message 502 by PaulK
07-22-2010 12:53 PM


Re: The Irrelevance Of Ontology
To say that you can show me assumes that our senses give us information about external reality. The value of Instrumentalism in this debate is that it doesn't have to make assumptions like that.

But, you see, when I say that sulfuric acid and zinc and aardvarks and tulips and beachballs are real, that they are actual physical things, that they are part of external reality (and that unicorns and Atlantis and the philosopher's stone are not) I am not making an ontological stand. I am in effect making a set of predictions: that we can observe evidence of things in the former but not the latter category. Which is the meaning of the word "real" (as determined by its usage) unless one is discussing ontology.

If we abandoned the natural use of language, and adopted that employed by ontologists instead, then words such as "real" and "external reality" would become useless for all purposes except discussing ontology (i.e. completely useless) and we would have to find another word to express the distinction that we wish to make between aardvarks and unicorns. And at the point at which we'd sorted out the English language again, presumably the ontologists would be all over the new word like flies on honey.

And this is the trouble with trying to talk about ontology. What ontologists want to discuss they are forced to discuss using words which actually mean something else. If they developed their own specialized vocabulary and sat around talking about whether elephants were snepific, no-one, including themselves, would know what they were saying; nor could they define it, since what they want to talk about has no operational meaning. On the other hand, if they sit around talking about whether elephants are real, then the correct answer is: "Yes, of course. I've seen one. Big gray thing, trunk at one end, tail at the other. Are you suggesting that they might fall into the same category as unicorns? Let me take you to a zoo."

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 502 by PaulK, posted 07-22-2010 12:53 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 508 by PaulK, posted 07-22-2010 2:00 PM Dr Adequate has responded

PaulK
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Posts: 15666
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 508 of 577 (569625)
07-22-2010 2:00 PM
Reply to: Message 507 by Dr Adequate
07-22-2010 1:49 PM


Re: The Irrelevance Of Ontology
quote:

But, you see, when I say that sulfuric acid and zinc and aardvarks and tulips and beachballs are real, that they are actual physical things, that they are part of external reality (and that unicorns and Atlantis and the philosopher's stone are not) I am not making an ontological stand. I am in effect making a set of predictions: that we can observe evidence of things in the former but not the latter category. Which is the meaning of the word "real" (as determined by its usage) unless one is discussing ontology.

Which, essentially, is Instrumentalism.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 507 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-22-2010 1:49 PM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 509 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-22-2010 2:56 PM PaulK has responded

Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16107
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 8.3


Message 509 of 577 (569633)
07-22-2010 2:56 PM
Reply to: Message 508 by PaulK
07-22-2010 2:00 PM


Re: The Irrelevance Of Ontology
Which, essentially, is Instrumentalism.

Quite possibly. If that's Instrumentalism then I guess I'm for it.

My point is that even if we are Instrumentalists, or, it seems, especially if we are Instrumentalists, we don't have to stop using phrases like "physical substance" and "external reality" to satisfy the quibbles of philosophers. On the contrary, once we've taken the stance I've described we can and should use them freely without ever giving a moment's thought to ontological questions. (Just like non-philosophers do all the time.)

So I can say that "there actually is a physical substance that we call zinc and another that we call sulphuric acid" without making any metaphysical assumptions.

To quote one of Wittgenstein's slightly less well-known dicta: "Ordinary language is all right".

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 508 by PaulK, posted 07-22-2010 2:00 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 510 by PaulK, posted 07-22-2010 3:10 PM Dr Adequate has responded

PaulK
Member
Posts: 15666
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 510 of 577 (569637)
07-22-2010 3:10 PM
Reply to: Message 509 by Dr Adequate
07-22-2010 2:56 PM


Re: The Irrelevance Of Ontology
Provided you are prepared to explain that you don't assume all the baggage that goes with the idea of "reality", that you are essentially talking about patterns in sense-data without judging what lies behind them that seems to be workable. But you have to be prepared to explain it, because almost nobody will work it out if you don't.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 509 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-22-2010 2:56 PM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
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