28-11-09

Das Gebiet des Fremdpsychischen

"(..) Das so konstituierte Psychische des Anderen wird als Klasse der "psychischen Zustände des Anderen" analog "meiner Seele" "die Seele des Anderen genannt. Das allgemeine Gebiet des "Fremdpsychischen" umfasst des Psychische aller der anderen Menschen die (d.h. deren Leiber) als physische Dinge in der konstituierten physikalischen Welt vorkommen.

Aus der angegebenen Art der Konstitution des Fremdpsychischen folgt: es gibt kein Fremdpsychisches ohne Leib. (..)", R. Carnap, Der logische Aufbau der Welt, p. 187, Meiner Philosophische Bibliothek, 1998.

(amateuristic English translation below)


I'm struggling with the demons of the mystical. What better weapon to take to such a fight than Der logische Aufbau? If I'm defeated, at least I will not be enshrined, & my bones scattered over the globe abused by the rich and powerful to instill hope in the poor and powerless; just enough hope for them not to question their status quo, but not so much hope as would avoid them being mobilized by the ruling classes, to fight their fights (typically in service of the demons of the mystical, that always come in handy when the people in power need them).

But enough of this left wing propaganda. On topic. Quick!

The afterlife. There is a wonderful argument by I. Kant to the effect that, practically, it just has to exist. I'm inclined to be sympathetic to that argument, although I will, hopefully, never be sympathetic to classical ideas of the after-life - including such a notion as 'living on in one's bones' or for that matter: 'via one's books' (although it is something like that but rather less restricted than books, & rather more than bad and good deeds).

In the end, for some kind of morality to find some kind of objective basis (empirical basis, if you want; I need to jump one of these days to Hume's development of the moral intuitions and the derived sense of justice and fairness), we will require that a certain action is deemed good on the basis of the consequences of that action &, as I remember that's the Kantian argument, that these consequences also count in the 'deeming good' way when they appear only after the person that does the 'deeming' is death. "We do it for the good of our children.", doesn't cut it because - to identify a less obvious complication - that would require 'the good' to be something that can be explicitated and that is stable over generations (which is not the case, as it's just merely the case that the process to check whether things have improved is stable, & not its content - but I'll desist from this by now usual topic of these quoughts). It is, by the way, more or less what Rawls also assumes (but he avoids the after-life by a rather deus ex machina assumption that you have an a priori situation in which one knows everything of consequences but one does not know who, or when, one is).

There are too many assumptions here already. On top of that there's a requirement that really is a requirement "amongst other" requirements where these others aren't put forward explicitly nor their interconnection is argued. I plead for your forgiveness and proceed to the conundrum posed by our requirement - consequences that count even if they're not consequences for 'us', strictly speaking (because - turning to our quote of the day - there's no psychical us when there's no bodily us; an assumption that I'll accept gladly as a premise conclusively established by Carnap (and previous issues raised here on Carnap do not really matter: this argument only starts "after" we have the own mental, the physical and the other mental).

Maybe a solution can be found in the direction of the 'cultural' objects of Carnap - if that is a sufficiently accurate translation of "Geistiger Zustände". Indeed, if we could make sense of our requirement as, properly, a requirement on such cultural objects, we would be rid of the whole body-soul (or primitive mind including the apperception and the 'sense' of the own individuality). Bear in mind that much of what I write here (and yeah-yeah, almost all conjecture, almost no proof) is premised on the fact that most everything that we would indicate with 'human' in everyday speak is - imho - a cultural object of this sort. Still, we can forget all of my previous wanderings and just step here into Carnap: if the above requirement makes sense in the 'cultural plane' only, we have achieved something.

I'm pretty confident that we could achieve this much. The concept of 'our soul' in the sense of the quote is not enough to qualify for the requirement above. It is just not enough mind to mind the goings-on of the here & now - one has to mind what could happen to a mind that would be co-happening with your body later. That ís a cultural construct. It's more than mere intuition - in fact it's the kind of higher order Humean intuition - to care about what could happen, generically so to speak, in a future that is only connected in the most abstract of ways to your present. You have no reason, to give an example, whatsoever to think you're going to get cancer but the fact that it is quite imaginabe that if you'd get it you'd want to have access to treatment, has enough of an impact for you (if you're not 'out' of your mind) to want to ensure that there is access to such treatment. This clearly is a cultural construct (& there's a link there to probabilities because there has to be some probability there).

So far so good but what about our deaths then? What about them indeed? Our lifes didn't come into the discussions. And while our specific bodies ARE strictly needed in the cultural constructs I talked about - they' ae only required in the most abstract of ways. A way that in my view would be amply satisfied by 'having existed once' in this or that body; something for which all moral agents qualify without mystery.

There are many remaining problems but only one is appropriate to touch upon here (if only not to forget it for posterity ;-): is there then only one cultural construct over all times. And if so, would that defeat our argument here by the ex absurdo used in the above: only one enumerable good? The answer is: yes and no. The construct of human culture is indeed a single one (which is, let me be clear: somewhat troubling a thought for me as it will be for you). But at the same time that does not mean the good is 'fixed' and stable; as it should be the requirement with which we started is a requirement on actions and not a requirement on all of culture. The restriction which comes from the requirement being in the 'cultural plane' is just that there is a single 'way in which' we can establish the good. But the actual judging remains on actions & consequences and may drift and will always be fallible and only piecemeal informed; all of the good humbling things.

Stilll (and it may well be that I'm loosing focus here; don't feel obliged to read on - I'd say): we can have some poetic justice for our afterlife. Given that culture cannot be identified with this or that object (this or that culture doesn't make sense, strictly speaking at least) but rather is the consequence of a Carnapian construction - we're all needed and part of it. In some poetical way we were part of our history and we're a part of our future (at least morally speaking). Even stronger than this - given that the process for the good is universal (however fallible we are in implementing it) we can actually be said to work for or against improvement; improvement defined as a comparison between times where at the 'better' time the process is more universally recognized and applied (the recognition of necessity becoming before application as we are not interested in blind luck here).

Finishing then on the idea of 'living on in one's works or one's books'. The former is not restrictive enough because surely not all of our doings are moral doings - some are just beastly doings or physical doings (there isn't anything wrong with either - by the way - as 'wrongness' doesn't apply to animals and particles). The second is very much too restrictive as clearly very little people write any books (& those that do are very rarely to live on in them; worse, eventually all those books will disappear (yeah I mean all of this in a very un-Borges-ian way). It suffices to do a moral doing to be qualifying for a living on. That living on does not need to be explicitly linked to your name (remember: you're as dead as a door bell so you have no way of knowing any of it); the best metaphor I have of it is that of a musical tone. Maybe for some this is not afterlife enough but it's all they're going to get (and if I would be paid for this I'd demonstrate that it's more than enough to qualify for the Kantian argument).

It is personally enough for me. I do my best and by doing thusly (and hence thisly) I will be rewarded. Doing it is indeed its own reward - if you can refrain from reading this in a manner of actual co-timed reward and punishment. The best thing is that I don't need to be successful in doing this (but do get me more readers, please) - as it's quite clear that this - as such with my pseudonym on it - will some time cease to exist.

I can have my ambition and eat it too!


"The so constituted psychical (mental) of the others is called "the soul of the other" being  the class of "psychical (or mental) states of the other; this in analogy with "my soul". The general field of the other-mental (or other-mindly or other-psychical) includes the psychical (or mental &c) of all other humans, that (i.e. whose bodies) appear as physical things in the constituted physical world.

From the indicated way in which the other-mindly is constituted, it follows: there's no other mind without a corresponding body."


Whilst writing this I was listening to Arvo Pärt, Orient Occident, ECM New Series (tones you hear, tones!).

19:33 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: form-content, mind-mind dualism, self, carnap, tones |  Facebook |

22-09-09

Widerlegung des Idealismus

"Das blosse, aber empirisch bestimmte, Bewusstsein meiner eigenen Daseins beweiset das Dasein der Gegenstände im Raum ausser mir." I. Kant, Kritik der Reinen Vernunft, Reklam, 1966, p. 304.

(amateuristic English translation below - but an official one won't be that hard to find!)


I mean: "Ha!" & "Do you believe it now?". Kidding aside, it is a bit of a coincidence I found this back. I didn't even mark the page when I first read it. But it's timely. Now I am finally developing a taste for a severe form of scepticism, I need the strongest of antidotes in order not to loose myself (and maybe yourselves) in mysticism, or, & worse, relativism.

(The reason, by the way, that I didn't mark the page is because my younger me did not appreciate yet that everything else comes first and only then comes your self. It is not the strongest juvenile intuition to relativize; let alone to relativize one's self. I have to be honest here, and add to this rather poetical reason this prosaic matter of fact: I don't buy the proof the great man gives of this theorem. I simply don't see a sustainable sense in all this time-space stuff; it's of a naïve physicalism that got ad nauseam repetition in the 20th century.)

So with this 'between brackets' out of the way I can link the truth of the statement in with a more proper basis for it. A basis that leaves much more room for scepticism & the like than an overly realist physical interpretation of the above - in a sense it is a closure of some sort to what I've written here to date. It's a closure of the type which fixes one point for sure and thereby leaves the rest of the field as open as possible, as open as I intuitively think it is (& not just 'is' but 'has to be', precisely because of the point that is fiwed).

It's as remarked of Carnap here before (click the tag 'Carnap', then take the 1 entry that has been written before this entry): in order to have a psychology of self, one is to start with the psychology of others (yes!, behaviorism and all that). Where I don't know about time and space, and all of those other handy notions for the analytically minded, I do know it's simply inconceivable to talk of myself without first witnessing, and witnessing the talking, of others that are definitely not myself. More extremely: it's inconceivable to imagine talking without first witnessing someone else talking to yet another someone else (even if the latter someone else, on reflection, turns out to be yourself). Let me venture this: the existence of others (implying other things, by a very flexible standard of thing-ness) is a synthetic a priori, whether analytically minded dominant cultures like that or not (the basis of any purely rational systems of thought are, indeed, necessarily arbitrary or, with another word, mystical).

So that's my programme: find a reason to deprogram the many religious and quasi-religious systems of convictions about many minute details and replace it with fuzzy, but absolutely certain, foundations; then establish on this foundation a morality that only assumes that it is good to try to further the firmness, universality and extent of that foundation (hence Habermas, for instance; hence, Darwinian treatment of ideas with open-ended evolution); and finally, allow the life to be lived, in matters of flesh as well as in matters of thought. Freely, only constrained by the integrity, physical as well as mental, of others (and consequently of ourselves). Hence Bergson's spirit - & enter Humean moral relativism with solid unshakeable foundations.

If I only had the time to treat of it all without having to hurry and blabber and quite probably making an utter fool of myself in some isolated statements ;-(


"The mere, but still empirically given, awareness of my own existence proves the existence of things in the space outside of me."


Whilst writing this I was listening to Cosey Fanni Tutti, Time To Tell

21:53 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: kant, self, universals, convergence, decadence |  Facebook |

13-08-09

Of the influence of belief

"But tho' education be disclaim'd by philosophy, as a fallacious ground of assent to any opinion, it prevails nevertheless in the world, and is the cause why all systems are apt to be rejected at first as new and unusual." David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, p. 167, Penguin Books, 1969.


Look-a-here: I do not exist! Or more accurately (& more boringly non-provocative): the 'I' does not exist. This claim would be the closest to summing up my system, if there were such a thing as philosophical 'systems' remaining after Hume & Kant. As one was tempted to sum up Hume's system in Hume's day as "This world does not exist" in preparation of a smug chuckle with which to discard the details of what was said by him; I'm sure one would be tempted to Laugh Out Loud reading how I sum up my thotoughly individualistic thought.

If we have been educated in one thing throughout our life (and, indeed, throughout the history of women & men) it is that the self is the cornerstone of everything (like the family is the cornerstone of the state). It is the Cartesian premise that survived despite all attacks. A dogma deeper than any other. The last stronghold of religion, because what to do with a self that is the center of everything, and can disappear in an instant? Modernity has not created the self but it has enforced the myth of souls and their immateriality; an immaterality that's fully focused on the material. This is the time of character, personality, ethos, passion, ... anything dispassionate is of a suspect nature (even altruism, not being self-centered, is only acceptable if done in an all-consuming personal passion and with unbeatable commitment).

Hume came close (not very many pages after the page from which the above quote is taken) but could not completely give up the self after giving up the certainty, and the necessities, of the external world. The personal was primary. It's the most basic dogma of empricism that everything starts from what we perceive, from sensations - up to and including Carnap (see post on Eigenpsychisches & Fremdpsychisches) the subjective was solidified as the primary from which to construct all the rest.

It is a fallacy. You do not exist. If you think you're sure you exist 'because you feel things', think again! How could you express feeling something if there was not prior to that feeling the notion of what it is to feel something. The self (in any commonly meaningful sense) comes after the linguification of the species denoted 'humans' - linguification of the species is only possible based on complex social interaction and complex social interaction is only possible based on, many, non-verbalized concepts & instincts that are highly standardized by the commonality of a species living in the highly uniform conditions that we call the visible (tactible, audible, edible) world. It's nature that was first and Hume was wrong that we can't conclude anything on it with certainty because of the falibility of our senses and our understanding. We can't but avoid concluding that it was there first and that our notion of selves (&, further than that, our notion of perception) is but an unintended effect of that Cause of which it is impossible for us to ever determine a first cause. 

Common sense has it right therefore: the objective is primary, & the subjective only derivative, even if a derivative with its own direct interests. As we make plastics from crude oil that can be used for things crude oil as such can never be used; words and thoughts & selves & personalities &c & so on create their own applications that are in a way independent on the original principles that have formed their substratum. But one restriction will always apply - the word will cease to exist if one denies this basis on which it has been formed (& our personalities will dissolve if there are no words to share with other instances of a 'word-species').

That's morality, the whole of it. Not that it's impossible to destroy any previous step that was necessary to get to this level of civilization; all of that is possible to various extents as, alas, demonstrated repeatedly and as we speak. But there are things, if destroyed, cannot but destroy this shaky, derived but magnificent notion of the self; or diminish the potential for further evolution, further expressiveness of individuals - which is the same. Morality is unavoidable, not as mere codex or dogma but, as our common sense always had it, as an integral part of what we are. Maybe it's too little for the moralizers that want to control other individuals - but it's invariably too much for the same moralizers when they need to restrain themselves, in their control over their neighbours.

Education is what drives us forward as mankind; it is also what holds us back as the creative individuals that we, essentially, are. But that conclusion will have to wait for yet another time.

There's more to this than the above quasi-poetry. You'll find an early & amateuristic attempt at a reasoned underpinning of the above here:

http://onesparrow.com/doHumansThink/commonsense_ed02.pdf

Unfortunately at that time I didn't have the benefit of Davidson, Quine, Carnap, and Huma to name just a few. Tthe basis is there but the conclusions are foggy at best - which is one of the reasons outside of pedantry to write this.

As you were!


Whilst writing this I was listening to The Klezmatics, Rhythm & Jews, from iTunes.

21:55 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (2) | Tags: self, hume, tones, boldness, learning, mind-mind dualism |  Facebook |