A brood comb

….philosophical and other notes….

My Web Of Beliefs, 2006

Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on January 4, 2007

I liked the Richard’s, Clark’s and Jeff’s webs, so here is my continuation of the meme.
I might went to far with the linking to previous posts, but anyway it appears it is good way to give a better overview of my ideas to the reader, and can act as an index to what I have wrote about. So here we go…

Philosophy Grounded In Being-In-The-World and Abstractions

To my thinking, the philosophy has to take as starting point the being-in-the-world. We start philosophical thinking as a being-in-the-world – a whole which contains both the subject and the world, but not as some components from which being-in-the-world is constituted, but from which both subject and the world can be abstracted.

And, in general, any notion we have is an abstraction from this being-in-the-world. That our thinking is within this being-in-the-world, I argued in the post Closure of Phenomenal World.

On the very start of this blog, I wrote a series of posts, in which I tried to explain what I mean by Abstraction, and how it relates to Attention, Determining and the relations between Given and Attention, Given and Determining and Determining and Nothing, etc…

I take that what is called “universals” are abstractions which appear as intentional content of our intentional acts, and that particulars fall under abstractions when we are able to abstract the universal from the particular. I talked about the relation between the universals and particulars, and how the universals can’t be seen neither as some “construction” based on multiplicity of particulars, nor as something grounded in our minds, and not in the world (Kantian approach) in other series of posts… Defending Metaphysics 1, 2 and 3.

Comprehension

In connection to previous, I wrote about my belief that philosophy is about the comprehension of the relations between those abstractions, and that can’t be anything else in the post What I take to be the grounds of Philosophy.

I further argued that there is no need for justification of such comprehensions in the post Metaphysics Manifesto.

Words And Their Meanings

I spent a lot of posts on issues connected to words and their meanings. Basically, my belief is that the the original baptizer give can give name only to something that appears as content of his/her intentional acts, and the transcendence of the meanings of the words (there, I accept anti-psychologism of Frege and Husserl) is grounded in the transcendence of the intentional content.

I talked about the need for accepting the transcendence of intentional content in lot of posts, but I think the first one was Intra-Subjective vs. Inter-Subjective Transcendence, and I wrote about my beliefs that properly this transcendence can be grounded in being-in-the-world, in the posts Noticing The People Notice Things We NoticeTranscendence, Strawberries and Mindless Robots, Grounding the Inter-Subjective Transcendence, and Few Explanatory Notes on the previous post.

I believe that one of the most usual way of learning the words is the ostensive teaching, in which the learner of the words learns no just the word, but in which the crucial moment is the requirement from the learner to notice the thing (or universal) to which the teacher is pointing. I discussed those issues in more detail in Can Reports Of How Things Seem To Us Be False? and  Look, and Ostensive Teaching

In connection to the problem of non-existents, in few posts I argued that it can be given proper account if we base the meaning of the words to the intentional content as it appears in different types of psychological acts. I gave sketch of such account of names in the post Intentional Account of Names. As how this account connects to the issue of existence, I wrote the posts Existence and Transcendence, Three Ways in Which a Name Can Refer To A Non-ExistentDoes God Exists?, and in two posts I connected the issue of existence to more general Hegelian take on existence in The Balls That Didn’t Exist and  Further Thoughts on Non-Existence, etc…

Mind

My stance toward the issues from philosophy of Mind is tightly connected to my general stance towards philosophy as given in the previous sections. Taking physical world as abstraction from being-in-the-world, where the physical world is abstracted in the terms of the notions of physics, I believe that physical picture is leaving behind (or abstract from) lot of things from this being-in-the-world, including but not limited to the being itself, the wholeness of our being in the world, intentionality, and in general all those qualities which don’t present themselves as easily quantifiable, and which are usually put under the term of ‘qualia’. In such way, my believes are incompatible with physicalism. I wrote about this in the posts Qualia as Metaphysical Issue, Holism, Reductionism and Consciousness, and also presented argument against a possibility for artificial neural networks to be conscious through Record/Replay thought experiment.

My believes are incompatible with dualism either, and to my thinking it is a failed response to physicalism. As one I believe that it wrongly reifies lot of categories, like that of consciousness, qualia, mind. I talked about that in some of the mentioned posts, but also in Is “Mind” Phenomenal or Theoretical Concept, and Phenomenal Fishiness.

Math

Math is one of the places where I believe we can get a hold on our abstractions in very clear way, and that we can easily comprehend those relations. In connection to this, I tried to explain my grasp on the simple mathematical relation 1+1=2, in the post Familiar Faces, Gestalts and A Priori Truths. In connection to this, I also had another post Is 1+1=2 Intuited?, though I must say, I don’t really believe that the argument holds any strength, and even I do believe that 1+1=2 is intuited, the approach in the previously mentioned post is more to my liking, in inline with rest of my web of beliefs. Also I believe (in line with Hegel’s argument) that the number should be properly taken as a ratio (instead of aggregate), and that if we take it in such sense, we can easily comprehend the equations between two sides in which on the one of the sides some kind of “infinity” appears. I wrote about this in the posts – Comprehending 1=0.999… and Hegel and Infinite Series.

Time

As I said, I believe that being-in-the-world as a starting whole in which any notion will appear as abstraction. In such way the being-in-the-world is not something that somehow exists in time, but as any other abstraction, time will be abstraction within that whole. I discussed this issue in the posts: Mental States vs. Stream of ConsciousnessTime As Abstraction, Hegel, Change and Contradiction

Part Of My Web Of Beliefs That I Didn’t Blog About

I consider that it is just once that the most abstract is understood, that it is smart to move to less abstract things. And that’s why I have ignored lot of my beliefs that have to do with less-abstract things.

In such way, I did lot of posts connected to the most simple relations of words and their meanings, even though I don’t think that the language itself can be reduced to this relation. In my opinion the language as it is in our being-in-the-world, can’t be comprehended as notion properly without connecting it to its practice in the spirit of Wittgenstein and Austin, from which those clear-cut abstract relation between words and meanings must be seen just as a specific abstraction. I touched on this issue, that there is more to meaning of sentences then combination of meaning of words, in the post Wink, Wink – Do You Understand What I Mean?

In same way, when it comes to notions (or concepts), I ignored the less abstract notions and issues which appear with those less abstract (and which some might call “vague”) concepts, which to my current thinking are best addressed by theory theory of concepts to some extent, while full account it would seem might be impossible without comprehending concepts as part of the language as practice. Instead, I kept my attention just on very abstract notions (with a short excursion into those less abstract issues maybe in the post Are Hedgehogs small spiny animals?) , which present themselves as clearest to the mind, and whose relations among themselves (among those abstract concepts) are easiest to understand.

While talking a lot about holistic account of things, and arguing that physical notions are abstraction, I also didn’t get into more precise defining of the nature of those abstractions (physical), except few side-notes in the philosophy of math posts, and very short recent post Lifeless Laws.

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10 Responses to “My Web Of Beliefs, 2006”

  1. Clark said

    The big question is what the nature of intents are. I agree they are transcendent in a sense but not in the fashion of Husserl or Frege. I don’t think one need adopt basically a kind of Platonism to reject psychologism.

  2. Hi Clark, thanks for the comment,

    Can you explain more about what you mean when you say that intents (that is intentional content, right?) need to be transcendent “in a sense”?

  3. Clark said

    Well consider Derrida’s notion of trace which is pretty much the Peircean notion of a sign with the final interpretant (it’s final meaning) being indefinitely deferred to the future. Clearly it’s transcendent in a temporal sense. But it’s not ttranscendent in a Husserlian sense.

  4. Oh, I will have to get back to this comment after few years of studying Peirce and/or Derrida :).
    I haven’t read anything by them still. But, here is one motive for doing that.

  5. Clark said

    Well you don’t have to read them to get this point. One can, of course, disagree with them. I suspect that ultimately it’s hard to adjudicate. But if one is a strict materialist then the idea of anything akin to a Platonic or Fregean realm ought give one pause. I suspect Ockham’s razor applies as well.

    If one buys into that then if there isn’t some “otherworldly” meaning then the meaning of a sign is yet an other sign. Now that may converge to a fixed meaning or meaning(s). If it does then that’s it’s meaning. The typical view is simply that there is some ideal meaning that limits this. Say the Fregean approach to propositions. But what are these things and why should we assume they exist?

    With Derrida’s critique of Husserl, while not everyone agrees with it, I think he makes a compelling case that there is an inconsistency in Husserl’s thought on just this. i.e. sometimes he demands platonic-like ideal objects and sometimes he demands them to be temporal “empirical.” But he can’t have it both ways. One solution is to revise his thought to remove the empirical more. The other is to go the direction of Heidegger, Derrida, Merleau-Ponty and others.

    As I said though not everyone agrees with Derrida on this. There is a book critiquing Derrida’s reading of Husserl. On the other hand for a very interesting engagement of Derrida and Husserl check out Lawlor’s Derrida and Husserl which I think ought be a must read even if folks disagree with Derrida.

  6. Hi Clark, thanks for the explanation.

    I’m in agreement with you that there isn’t some otherwordly realm of “meanings”.

    My thought is simple really – we can baptize only intentional content of our intentional acts. Whatever it might be. It might be a planet we see through a telescope, a little baby that was just born, the repeating sound we hear, a superhero in a story we imagine, etc…
    When we baptize some intentional content, then we mean that content by that word. And because we are in same world, whatever is intentional content of my intentional acts, can be intentional content of yours. The baby is there, same baby seen by both me and you. So, the intentional content is inter-subjectively transcendental, and as it is the meaning of the name we give to it, thus by definition, the meaning of the name that we give is inter-subjectively transcendental.

    So, there is no otherworldly meanings in this kind of view. But there is a possibility for people meaning the same thing with their words.
    You say that meaning of a sign is another sign, but surely when I baptize the baby that was just born with the name “David”, the meaning of “David” is then that baby, and not some other sign.

  7. Clark said

    Put simply the issue then becomes how indexicals can (or if they can) resolve the issue. However even if we, via an indexical, refer to this future convergence of signs (which I agree we can do) then it still has the temporal properties due to that signification. Put an other way, perhaps my naming picks out that baby, but it doesn’t just pick out that temporal slice of that baby but a lot that has not yet happened. Thus the name is still undetermined, given a certain view of time.

    In a way the question then becomes what the implications of that are for various philosophical arguments.

  8. Hi Clark,
    I agree that the name doesn’t “pick out” the temporal slice of the baby.

    In my view the changing objects are ontologically more primary than their temporal slices (which I take are abstractions). For example ‘X at time t’ is abstraction from X. And they are such in our thinking also… one needs to have notion of X to understand ‘X at time t’.

    And the baby appears as intentional content in my acts as such thing – not as temporal slice. A changing thing. In the same world in which I live (which includes change).

    And in the moment of naming the possibilities are there open of how the baby can change, and how all other things in the world can change. But in all those changes, it is open possibilities for change of *that* baby (along with the changes of all other things that are, and yet other that might appear).

    So in such view, it seems to me, there is no problem about the meaning of the word not being undetermined. That tomorrow there will be new facts about the baby, doesn’t mean that they are not facts about *the same* baby that was born yesterday, and which I was watching yesterday while baptizing.

  9. Clark said

    I think that if ones facts are themselves temporally bound (to be consistent, call it processes rather than “things”) then no facts, or at least few facts, can be determined. Put a tad more clearly, our facts to be stated as such are always dependent upon uncompleted terms and references. We’re always referencing incomplete processes which then means our arguments depend upon a certain kind of vagueness.

    Once again I don’t think this is ultimately a problem if we keep this in mind. But I think a lot of arguments kind of bypass the issue. If one adds in a Quinean holism then a lot of problems can pop up. Of course, to the degree I understand him, Husserl doesn’t do the holist route but is more atomistic ala Russell.

  10. Clark,

    I’m not sure I’m understanding fully what you are saying.
    If you are saying that only because there *will be* further facts about the things (or processes) in the future, than that is hardly problematic. But, if you are saying that this somehow affects the relation between name and what is named, I can’t see it.
    Would that mean that you think that the eventual new facts would somehow be constitutive of the thing itself? But how can a thing change, if it is yet to be constituted by the change?
    So, if the name refers to a thing which appeared in the intentional content in my act (e.g. of seeing), and not to the facts about the thing, and if the thing appears as intentional content, not as a time-slice, but as a “full-blooded” thing which undergoes changes (and it does appear that way to me), I don’t see what is that vagueness that the eventual further of the thing might bring.

    Am I close to what you meant?

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