Confused Questions

1. Does it make sense to construe norms into the discourse of epistemology?
2. What are the status of the theoretical norms?
3. What theoretical norms are there?

We could have:

i. Ontological unity (naturalism – strong)
ii. Methodological unity (naturalism – weak)
iii. Conceptual unity (Transcendental)
iv. Systematicity (Transcendental)
v. A set of peacemeal norms, induction, parsimony etc.

4. Question-begging, how is induction set into a norm? This relates to the following question

5. If we assume inductive behaviour is inevitable (which, it kind of is), then there is a fact of the matter about the fact that we do use it; further, there is an inevitability about our use of it. Given its inevitability, is there an ought implies can consideration to be made? I see contrary tendencies as to the question of the rationality of questioning the epistemic practice that we deem inevitable (Cf. Stern 2000)

6. We may have epistemic norms of differing graces: strong norms like induction, or systematicity is stronger still, but we may have rules of thumb like parsimony; it may seem that the image is far from systematic, but Quinean-web-like

Destre (and Michael)

What is the transcendent?

The transcendent is that which we cannot otherwise but believe, yet cannot prove; the a priori principles which, so fundamental, we may not prove, yet we must presuppose to legitimate all else of reality.

What makes something transcendental, if there is anything to be transcendental at all?

A Transcendental Deduction must be found; whereby we prove that an enthymeme is in place in our everyday epistemic practices and metaphysical construals, however; we must not, as a contingent matter, not have proved this relata in any other way.

What kind of things are transcendent? Belief in the external world, possibly induction and the place of other epistemic norms, or other metaphysical beliefs like the endurance of particulars, which, even in the face of rational doubt, we must otherwise assume.

Destre, Michael

Does philosophy have a foundation?

If we are to construe philosophy as having the highest degree of generality insofar as it legitimates and accounts for all intellectual practices, we may be justified in our belief of it as a queen of the sciences.

Kant proposed, I argue, that there are foundations to our thought, principles that regulate our thinking insofar as we are rational at all; these assumptions underpin the whole enterprise of exploration and thought itself. These reflective principles of judgment are; systematicity, unity, among others. Let us consider unity for now.

Unity is the ideal of knowledge being in a full continuum. That mathematics may be on the same par as aesthetics; that engineering with medicine; that metaphysics be on par with logic. What are the underlying regulative principles upon which they consist? It is such a construal of the question, if it can ever be answered, that may demonstrate the fundamental unity of knoweldge.

Does philosophy have a common base? This seems a most ridiculous suggestion, at least, prima facie. Given the law of a philosopher always having an equal yet opposite opponent; given that there are many who give strong arguments for theses so vastly distinct, and often, so vastly opposite; from atheism to realism, nominalism to realism.

Philosophers, if they are genuine of heritage from the tradition of Socrates; have the fundamental desire to understand, and express this by their fundamental of explaining. This is very vague, indeed. But to explain, one may, as a legitimate normative principle, must have something explainable. It is here, that we may input the desiderata of the principle of suffiicient reason; that every ‘why’ question has an answer.

We are but the immature child, who asks the parent why; the question of why in this child consists of a continuous enquiry, further and further they go, asking deeper truths of an explanation; why did x? why is this answer adequate? what constitutes an answer? why should I accept it?

Knowledge, and reality, we must conceive of the former insofar as we can understand the limits of the latter. Such is the transcendental project of philosophy.

Michael, Destre

Beauty as a feeling (On Allison’s ‘chain of associations’)

In the year 1789 (I think), Archibald Allison published a work on aesthetics, on the same year as Immanuel Kant; it was a directly opposed theory with deeply empiricist flavourings. Kant’s aesthetic account, by contrast, is more nuanced of a rationalist account, but Allison assert what Kant denies, but in doing so, I think Allison hit the nail right on the head on some issues.

One particular conception that I considered prima facie true, and my mind really hasn’t changed on this, is the significant empirical component in our aesthetic behaviour. When I see an object, I associate it with past memories in which I have seen it, and with past times in which I saw it; and those past times evoke memories of the feeling I had when I saw it.

For me, a summer’s day reminds me of those days in the collegium with S*; it reminds me of a few other summers which were particularly bad, but it also, through the culmination of these memories, synthesises to a new experience: it is no longer the past, it is now; this year can be different. A chain of reasoning comes through the cognizance of our recollection, a determinate set of facts, and an indeterminate process of feeling.

Granted, there is a very complex and relative chain of thought to our associations, and it would be interesting to formalise the process we have in such cases; we could have a formal logic of aesthetics, or a formal logic of memory, or even a formal logic of emotional reasoning/emotional conditionalisation.

But what I think is the lasting platitude here, is the undeniable empirical aspect of aesthetics (aesthetics, after all, is experience)…

Michael, Sinistre

What is the real conflict, here?

Last night, Antisophie gave me a phonecall and told me that a Vatican astronomy expert said that the Church should not rule out the possibility that there could be life on Mars. I’ve often thought about how a Christian would consider the issue of extra-terrestrial life. My prima facie thoughts would be that a Christian has motivations not to accept such a possibility; but what kind of Christian would that be?

Such a Christian would maintain that Jesus is the source of all salvation; that humanity is the pinnacle of creation, and that as createes in Eden; we have taken on damnation by original sin. It would be those things, core to Christian belief, to which we would deny alien life; why?

Because Jesus is the source of all salvation; if (counterfactual) we entertained there was alien life who was conscious and aware and sentient like us; it too would require salvation. Or, would they? Would these aliens require Jesus’ salvation? Or would they go to hell because they never knew Jesus? Or, if we are really pushing it; did God have another son whom which he sacrificed for another terrestrial race? The latter is a very hard and challenging thought that, I suppose, a believer wouldn’t want to accept. I’m not asserting these questions are problems, but they are things a believer would want to answer; for the conceivability and overall cogency of their view.

If there was life outside of Earth; are we then the pinnacle of creation? If there is life outside of earth; are they tainted by original sin?

On the one hand; I don’t really think there should be much of a conflict; but then, Master Destre said to me; “Think harder, Magister”, his eyes, penetrated through me as his pupils sharpened and focused at me with his dry, icy gaze.

Think about the beliefs that we hold; and think about the comfort that we have when we believe them to be true. Of course, there are many beliefs to which we are uncomfortable about, that we hold true. The fact that we have things that we do not like to admit, but are nonetheless true, and we believe so, shows that we do not simply believe in things we want to.

Perhaps it is a sign of rationality or reflexivity if one demonstrates that their beliefs are subject to some experiential or rational tribunal; where the tribunal of truth and validity lies either outside of us (experience), or imbued within the laws outside of us (reasoning). Is it easy to believe that God loves us? No, it is not; to believe that God loves us, is hardly evidenced in the world. Where is God in the natural disasters of the world, our own personal tragedies, and the fundamental injustices that we inflicts upon our siblings. It is not easy to beleive that there will be a happy ending, especially for those who are heavily involved in the relief of the plight of others. What there is, is a hope, a hope that salvation will come; and this is seriously challenged by the presence of bad fortune and evil in the world. It is far from easy for the intelligent person to believe in God; or for the genuinely compassionate to have hope, in the face of utter despair. Yet, some still do…

What about the flexibility of scientific practice? Imagine to find your life’s work, celebrated by generations after you, being destroyed, or modified beyond your recognition, in the name of truth-preservation. What certainty or fortitude is there in physics? The scientific outlook is one based on shaky metaphysical grounds, shaky empirical methodology, and uncertain substantive conclusions. Rightly so, many would affirm. But, here we have a worldview very uncertain, always subject to change, in constant flux. It is this kind of worldview that tensely is distinct in form from that of the religious belief worldview. The world of the religious beliver is one that has a hope for certainty and truth, and underlying resolution; in the light of flux; and science, is the acknowledgment of flux, and perhaps, the search for similar certainty? We then might say, young charge, that this is not a difference in ideology. Cultural mindset perhaps? To challenge the sensibilities of how one live’s their lives and sees the world? We must always doubt; perhaps this is the test for believers; to find tthe most proper channel for their belief in the light of a powerful rational method. Do we oppose it, or try to find resolution? Or, better still, adopt the rational method as standard, and consider our epistemic norms; such as the good deontic conception of principles like “follow the conclusions to wherever they take you”.

Epistemic norms? Something I find quite interesting, myself…


Genuine love: a phenomenological problem

Let us say, that I am in love. Is this in virtue of my own desire to want to love? Or my genuine non-self-referential care for another?

Why does it have to be one or the other? Why not both? Okay, maybe we could  concede something like that, however, I think there is a genuine problem where these come apart.

Imagine that there is a person, who cares for his dying wife. This person tends to her, worries about her when she is not around, would do anything for her comfort, and constantly assuring her, and considering her wants, needs, and their importance of a shared bond,

I’m going to throw a thought here now. What if there were two kinds of mindsets realised in the same activity:

The self-interested – where one tends to care about another, they do so to fulfill their own desire; to be the kind of person  who is caring or heroic,  daring  and compassionate.

The genuine lover – where one cares about another and their feelings of wellbeing depend on the other. It is imperative that it is realised that caring for another, and the other’s wellbeing is a necessary condition for one’s happiness and consolation. The dependence relation is not clearly egoistic, however, but is a recognition of their inherent worth (this is purposely undefined and question-begging).

Michael tells me that I am cutting the situation in a way that shouldn’t be cut (Michael say that we are all trivially egoist about everything, but this isn’t a bad thing…). I am, as a ceteris paribus point, am not going to address this.

What is my point here? As the experience itself; when I love another, how is it that I can tell that I am acting out of duty and the inherent worth of another, or acting out of the ends of pursuing my own self-satisfaction through another? How can we tell if we are genuinely acting from love? Away from selfish automatons…


p.s. I consider this thought in compliment to  paper I once ready by Michael Smith (A Humean Theory of Motivation): where he poses this thought: fhow is it phenomenologically secure that we are not confabulating about the reasons for our motivation? – the example given was a counterfactual case where a man bought a newspaper from a certain stand only because a mirror was there; if the mirror were not there, the man would eventually go to another stand…I don’t think this thought applies to the situation I presented.

Is there an answer to every ‘why?’

If we are to posit a notion such as if there is a thing to be explained, it must be explainable. Let us call this (for now) explanatory rationalism. At first sight, it may seem like a very harmless principle; but when I think about iti, it seems very strong; but when I come down upon judging it as a good principle, I think it’s a very good principle if you can work it.

Explanatory rationalism is one of the starting points of Leibniz (and Spinoza)’s metaphysics. For some reason, I have this intuition that nothing is immune to examination; part of this is a socio-political norm; but as a rational principle as wello, it is a bit stronger. Two questions I bring up:

1. Is everything really subject to rigorous and systematic analysis in the way explanatory rationalism purports to; is there an answer to every ‘why’ question?

2. Explanatory rationalism is a motivation for metaphysics being built up; but, do we have to make a metaphysical system where we posit that weird things have to exist; or can we just have an analysis? I was quite taken aback when I was in a discussion with someone who maintained that conceptual analysis and metaphysics are fundamentally distinct.

Introspection: first thoughts

when what is introspection? Is introspection a real thing?or is introspection some false mental process that we could explain away from some scientific story.  Introspection seems to be one of the words, which the continental philosopher seems to enjoy. Introspection seemed like one of those words, which I just didn’t want to use; freewill is another one of these kind of words that I don’t want to use.  But as I I think about introspection, I see it as an indispensable tool.

Consider introspection as a medium;a means of finding out propositions about the world,it is a way of discovering the structure of the mind.  Or perhaps, the structure of reality. Introspection, what sort of things can be learnt by introspection?  Let’s say, as a starting point that a particular candidate for analysis for the case of introspection could be Newton’s discoveries. I once sat before a seminar run by both Alexander Bird and Paul Hoyningen-Huene, where the latter talked about introspection; he said it was sort of a non-issue, or moot point whether introspection as a priori or also a mix of the a priori and the a posteriori. the point that we can learn from introspection is that we can learn things from it.

let me now address the different kinds of species of things that we can learn from introspection: we can revise our beliefs about the world and ourselves, we can devise new beliefs about the world.  either from what we know already, or the derivation of new beliefs from first principles alone; that is, truths which are definitionally true.

It is the latter that many philosophers dislike these days; rationalists commonly deem mathematics as the paradigm of their knowledge; for mathematics is seen as the ultimate task of introspection. Consider Bacon’s analogy of the spiders; us philosophers seek to be spiders, not bees, or ants.

Introspection seems to be the foundation of any future metaphysic; but let me consider a more real term usage of this thing we call introspection. when I finally something about my own inner states.  I can change my beliefs. conditionalisation for instance,  or to give another lovely Nussbaum example, I discover that I am in love instantiate that belief that it is true that I am: that is to say to believe you are in love is a process of discovery is what makes that belief true.  what about when we change our minds about the belief we used to believe that a certain person was an honourable, then we find out they are pathetic, we learn something like this from introspection we change our beliefs, by means of looking upon our beliefs and revising them.

Introspection, is not the discovery of knowledge at the process by which we form beliefs, whether these beliefs are true: I do not really have the merit to answer that right now.

Michael ( and Destre)

Natural beliefs

Hume would have us believe that there are some beliefs to which we cannot doubt and be rational about such doubt.

Can I doubt that I exist? Descartes’ would say no; Kant would have a slightly more complicated story here. Hue would have us believe that the beliefs such as the external world, other minds, and perhaps, induction are such that we just simply believe them. These things we take not as self-evident, nor as desiderative of justification; but simply primitive facts that we take for granted.

Part of me can buy a story like this. The other part of me thinks; what about Transcendental deductions? It sounds like Kant is doing something more complicated than he may need to.

If the Kantian deduction fails, and, if we accept the Humean account has the same explanans, and we may take parsimony as a value; perhaps an account of natural belief may have an appeal.

We may talk of natural belief in various species; some, as an aspect of the workings of our mind, and others, as substantive content of our beliefs whereby we cannot but believe that such and such is the case; like ‘this is a table’, or ‘I am angry’. Those such propositions being the most obvious of our knowledge.

Some people worry that the idea of natural belief, and the consequence of it making (certain) sceptical worries powerless is dogmatism. I wonder if this may be true, but we are not to worry, for such dogmatism about the existence of the world is but a primitive that we must take for granted.


A hit and run thought: induction

The ‘problem’ of induction is problematic for those who emphasise the primacy of experience to try and account for the formal, non-experientially significant aspect of reality.

It is the empiricist trying to come to terms with that which the rationalist maintains, without conceding to the a priori.

If we assume the primacy of experience as a guide to truth; we may find this problematic.

All knowledge does come from experience, but the former does not arise from the latter.

Destre (and Sinistre*)