The Pathos of Distance

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The Pathos of Distance

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    fact/value distinction, certainty, doubt, knowledge, etc.

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    promethean75

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    fact/value distinction, certainty, doubt, knowledge, etc. Empty fact/value distinction, certainty, doubt, knowledge, etc.

    Post by promethean75 on Tue Dec 25, 2018 12:15 pm

    (continuation of new discussion from another thread)

    saully wrote:I'm not afraid of the self-valuing logic's being stonewalled by the fact/value distinction, though; for, as Strauss pointed out, that distinction is itself a value distinction, not a factual distinction...

    well yes, i should think that recognizing the fact/value distinction in epistemology would be considered valuable insofar as it is another tool to be used in clearing up philosophical problems (or non-problems, if you will). but to say 'the fact/value distinction is useful and therefore i value it' is not the same as saying 'the fact/value distinction i use to clear up epistemological problems is good because i value it'.

    now take a value statement that is a fact only because it expresses the fact that someone is valuing: 'the movie was great and i really enjoyed it because it was great'. there is nothing more in that statement in the way of facts other than the indicative mood it takes through the terms 'great' and 'enjoyed'. it may be a fact that the person was there in the theater, watched the movie, that the movie was well directed, that the actors acted well, that the storyline was sophisticated, and so on. these would be the facts about the movie that would be in place for the valuing to occur. but if another person said instead about the movie 'the movie was bad and i didn't enjoy it because it was bad', nothing about the facts would be changed... only the valuing.

    on the other hand, valuing the fact/value distinction as a tool for examining epistemological statements would not change if someone decided that its results were undesirable. one realizes the 'goodness' of this tool exists in its ability to identify epistemic problems with certain kinds of value statements... but might not 'like' the results. the facts about the movie only become 'good' if someone thinks they are 'great' or 'enjoyable', while the facts about the fact/value distinction are always 'good' (which means hypothetically imperative) for the purposes they serve.

    so it isn't clear to me what strauss might mean when he denies the distinction in the way you suggest.

    saully wrote:For ultimately, "factual" "knowledge" comes down to things like "what do I consider justified belief?" (not to mention true belief, for "true" is at bottom a repetition of the defined—knowledge—; unless it be in the sense of a "true believer", someone who truly believes—but this, too, begs a value question: "how strong must a belief be to be 'true belief'?").

    there's a lot of good stuff packed in those statements there, and you certainly recognize the important questions surrounding this ongoing debate in philosophy. let me show you something remarkable said by wittgenstein that has passed through two stages; first a rejection by many philosophers, then a change in understanding of what he's meant. finally we arrive at a kind of 'principle of charity' in understanding that bypasses the epistemological problems supposedly identified by this debate.

    first, you remember W's handling of moore's 'here is a hand' argument against skepticism (W's response was made in his essay 'on certainity'). basically what he has done is rejected radical skepticism, just as moore has, but for different reasons. and, in fact, he's calling into question the possibility of absolute skepticism not on the grounds that it is epistemologically impossible to be 'certain', but because - and this is the remarkable insight - 'doubt' doesn't look like uncertainty.... that doubt cannot mean uncertainty in the language game:

    wittgenstein wrote:Certainty is as it were a tone of voice in which one declares how things are, but one does not infer from the tone of voice that one is justified.

    the indicative mood of the assertion 'here is a hand' is not the thing that would guarantee the reliability of the claim. rather it would be the queerness of the opposite claim, the doubting that would put the meaning of the claim into question:

    wittgenstein wrote:It’s not a matter of Moore’s knowing that there’s a hand there, but rather we should not understand him if he were to say “Of course I may be wrong about this.” We should ask “What is it like to make such a mistake as that?“—e.g. what’s it like to discover that it was a mistake?

    aha! what would be involved in knowing that moore was wrong? if there 'is not one hand', how does my recognition and understanding of this fact take place?

    wittgenstein wrote:If you tried to doubt everything you would not get as far as doubting anything. The game of doubting itself presupposes certainty. What makes possible doubting is the fact that some propositions are exempt from doubt, are as it were like hinges on which those turn.

    many philosophers don't find this statement to be an epistemically satisfying response to skepticism. they say this kind of certainty which he has characterized as being epistemic is rather psychological and therefore does not resolve the problem of justified belief. what W is doing is completely bypassing this problem altogether and getting right at the heart of the problem:

    wittgenstein wrote:The idealist’s question would be something like: “What right have I not to doubt the existence of my hands?” (And to that the answer can’t be: I know that they exist.) but someone who asks such a question is overlooking the fact that a doubt about existence only works in a language-game. Hence, that we should first have to ask: what would such a doubt be like?, and don’t understand this straight off.

    wittgenstein wrote:Moore’s view really comes down to this: the concept 'know’ is analogous to the concepts 'believe’, 'surmise’, 'doubt’, 'be convinced’ in that the statement “I know …” can’t be a mistake. And if that is so, then there can be an inference to the truth of an assertion. And here the form “I thought I knew” is being overlooked. But if this latter is inadmissable, then a mistake in the assertion must be logically impossible too. And anyone who is acquainted with the language game must realize this — an assurance from a reliable man that he knows cannot contribute anything.

    for moore to say 'i know' is misleading, even though 'there is a hand'. moore cannot 'know' there is a hand because if he had knowledge of it, he should be able to doubt it... but he cannot doubt it... therefore he does not 'know' it.

    kevin browne wrote:In order to understand Wittgenstein’s theory of knowledge, we must examine the relationship between knowledge, certainty, and doubt. Knowledge, for Wittgenstein, implies the possibility for going wrong and, thus, presupposes doubt. On the other hand, certainty lies outside the realm of knowledge and is qualitatively different from it. The relationship between these concepts is critical to understanding Wittgenstein’s approach, because it is through this relationship that we arrive at the end of justification. Beliefs can only be justified so far; beyond this one must act. Therefore, justification does not come to an end in a set of basic beliefs which act as the propositional foundations for our knowledge. Justification comes to an end in human activity.

    your statement again:

    saully wrote:For ultimately, "factual" "knowledge" comes down to things like "what do I consider justified belief?" (not to mention true belief, for "true" is at bottom a repetition of the defined—knowledge—; unless it be in the sense of a "true believer", someone who truly believes—but this, too, begs a value question: "how strong must a belief be to be 'true belief'?").

    a good question here would be; what does a difference in strength of belief look like.

    in a state of certainty and belief, one goes about running through propositions 'in one's head' to check the reliability of the belief statement. but in doing so, one can always derive support for a truth-claim in some way by manipulating atomic propositions (consider the principle of explosion or reductio ad absurdem, for instance, with which we can make anything true).

    wittgenstein wrote:When one says that such and such a proposition can’t be proved, of course that does not mean that it can’t be derived from other propositions; any proposition can be derived from other ones. But they may be no more certain than it is itself.

    here W is showing that 'truth' cannot be arrived at propositionally; a complete set of deductive truths would be nothing more than a grand tautology. this was the revelation W arrived at in the post-tractatus period. a compete set of atomic fact statements mirroring the world would tell us nothing about the world... but only about the logical form of the world. the meaning of a truth statement therefore can't be gotten at epistemologically. meaning has to be the use of the language, the behavior. we find that moore does indeed see that 'here is a hand', but not because he 'knows' as much... rather because we can make no sense of what doubting such a thing in the language game would be like.

    "explanations have to come to an end somewhere" - W

    so with all this in mind, i don't say that it should not make sense to propose that 'it is saully's justified belief that there is no fact/value distinction' if i should be able to see what matters about such a claim in demonstration, as opposed to it not mattering. if i can't find a difference, then i have not found a genuine problem here. all we can do is take notice of the differing nature of statements about facts and statements about values in regards to how they exist in the proposition. they essentially mean different things epistemologically, but in drawing a line between them we do not prove value statements to be meaningless. we simply assign to them a different kind of language game... attempting to express something other than facts. facts do not change because of their being valued or not (see recent ayer quote in memorable quotes thread).
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    promethean75

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    fact/value distinction, certainty, doubt, knowledge, etc. Empty Re: fact/value distinction, certainty, doubt, knowledge, etc.

    Post by promethean75 on Tue Dec 25, 2018 3:13 pm

    oh yeah, i should have used this example earlier to further explain the peculiar differences between being certain and knowing. both of these words - 'know' and 'certain' - are very critical and more often than not, used too casually and carelessly in philosophy.

    let's say you are working out a mathematical problem, or following instructions for assembling some device. you produce a series of calculations (or follow a series of instructions) in a series of steps in order to solve the problem. when you arrive at your answer (or finished product), you say 'i know this is the correct'. here, as strange as it may seem, it is appropriate to say you 'know' you are correct, even if it turns out that you are wrong. why and how?

    in saying that you 'know' you are correct, you imply that it is possible to 'doubt' that you are correct. here, knowing is something quite different than being 'certain'. being certain would mean that you are sure you didn't make any mistakes in your calculations, and in doing this you could not possibly doubt that your answer was correct. but 'knowing' your answer is not the same thing as being certain it is the correct answer. there is no room for doubt in certainty, but doubt necessarily comes with knowledge.

    see here how, that, if you turned out to be wrong (after reviewing your steps and finding the mistake), you still 'knew' what your answer was. but to say you were 'certain' of the answer would be nonsensical because it would be denying the possibility that you made a mistake in your calculations.  

    for moore to say 'i know this is one hand', we should expect that he would be able to review the steps he had taken in making that determination.... but, where and what are the steps? aha! if moore has 'knowledge' here, he must also have 'doubt', and if he has doubt, it must mean that he could have gone wrong somewhere. but this is nonsense! therefore, moore does not 'know' 'here is a hand'... rather he is certain of it.

    this insight expresses what W means when he asks what a mistake would be like, or what the negation of a claim would imply. as strange as the claim 'here is a hand' might be, the claim 'here is not a hand' is even stranger. and this is because the grounds for the idealist in doubting the existence of the hand are entirely lacking since such doubting already presupposes the existence of the language game in which it occurs.

    remember in the wittgenstein movie clip when the student slaps himself in the face and says 'professor wittgenstein, you can't know this pain... only i can!', to which W replies 'are you sure you know it?' go to 2:41



    brilliant. in that simple exchange W changes the entire context in which the meaning of the word 'know' had been so carelessly accepted by most philosophers.

    now there is much more to be said in support of this radically new treatment of the concept of 'knowing' that W offers, and it'll make more sense once his concept of 'mind' (see beetle in the box) and the impossibility of 'private language' is understood. and this is no small task, to be sure. it would require a great effort and much posting, but because NOBODY IS HERE (*shakes finger at readers*), there is no point in departing for such an adventure. for if nobody is here, nobody can depart, right? right.

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