I offer an alternative account of the relationship of Hobbesian geometry to naturalphilosophy by arguing that mixed mathematics provided Hobbes with a model for thinking about it. In mixed mathematics, one may borrow causal principles from one science and use them in another science without there being a deductive relationship between those two sciences. Naturalphilosophy for Hobbes is mixed because an explanation may combine observations from experience (the ‘that’) with causal principles from geometry (the (...) ‘why’). My argument shows that Hobbesian naturalphilosophy relies upon suppositions that bodies plausibly behave according to these borrowed causal principles from geometry, acknowledging that bodies in the world may not actually behave this way. First, I consider Hobbes's relation to Aristotelian mixed mathematics and to Isaac Barrow's broadening of mixed mathematics in Mathematical Lectures (1683). I show that for Hobbes maker's knowledge from geometry provides the ‘why’ in mixed-mathematical explanations. Next, I examine two explanations from De corpore Part IV: (1) the explanation of sense in De corpore 25.1-2; and (2) the explanation of the swelling of parts of the body when they become warm in De corpore 27.3. In both explanations, I show Hobbes borrowing and citing geometrical principles and mixing these principles with appeals to experience. (shrink)
Although George Berkeley himself made no major scientific discoveries, nor formulated any novel theories, he was nonetheless actively concerned with the rapidly evolving science of the early eighteenth century. Berkeley's works display his keen interest in naturalphilosophy and mathematics from his earliest writings (Arithmetica, 1707) to his latest (Siris, 1744). Moreover, much of his philosophy is fundamentally shaped by his engagement with the science of his time. In Berkeley's best-known philosophical works, the Principles and Dialogues, he (...) sets up his idealistic system in opposition to the materialist mechanism he finds in Descartes and Locke. In De Motu, Berkeley refines and extends his philosophy of science in the context of a critique of the dynamic accounts of motion offered by Newton and Leibniz. And in Siris, Berkeley's flirtation with neo-Platonism draws inspiration from the fire theory of Boerhaave as well as Newton's aetherial speculations in the Queries of the Optics. In examining Berkeley's critical engagement with the naturalphilosophy of his time, we will thus improve our understanding of not just his philosophy of science, but of his philosophical corpus as a whole. (shrink)
In this multi-disciplinary investigation we show how an evidence-based perspective of quantification---in terms of algorithmic verifiability and algorithmic computability---admits evidence-based definitions of well-definedness and effective computability, which yield two unarguably constructive interpretations of the first-order Peano Arithmetic PA---over the structure N of the natural numbers---that are complementary, not contradictory. The first yields the weak, standard, interpretation of PA over N, which is well-defined with respect to assignments of algorithmically verifiable Tarskian truth values to the formulas of PA under the (...) interpretation. The second yields a strong, finitary, interpretation of PA over N, which is well-defined with respect to assignments of algorithmically computable Tarskian truth values to the formulas of PA under the interpretation. We situate our investigation within a broad analysis of quantification vis a vis: * Hilbert's epsilon-calculus * Goedel's omega-consistency * The Law of the Excluded Middle * Hilbert's omega-Rule * An Algorithmic omega-Rule * Gentzen's Rule of Infinite Induction * Rosser's Rule C * Markov's Principle * The Church-Turing Thesis * Aristotle's particularisation * Wittgenstein's perspective of constructive mathematics * An evidence-based perspective of quantification. By showing how these are formally inter-related, we highlight the fragility of both the persisting, theistic, classical/Platonic interpretation of quantification grounded in Hilbert's epsilon-calculus; and the persisting, atheistic, constructive/Intuitionistic interpretation of quantification rooted in Brouwer's belief that the Law of the Excluded Middle is non-finitary. We then consider some consequences for mathematics, mathematics education, philosophy, and the natural sciences, of an agnostic, evidence-based, finitary interpretation of quantification that challenges classical paradigms in all these disciplines. (shrink)
Book Review for Reading NaturalPhilosophy: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science and Mathematics, La Salle, IL: Open Court, 2002. Edited by David Malament. This volume includes thirteen original essays by Howard Stein, spanning a range of topics that Stein has written about with characteristic passion and insight. This review focuses on the essays devoted to history and philosophy of physics.
This paper examines Hobbes’s criticisms of Robert Boyle’s air-pump experiments in light of Hobbes’s account in _De Corpore_ and _De Homine_ of the relationship of naturalphilosophy to geometry. I argue that Hobbes’s criticisms rely upon his understanding of what counts as “true physics.” Instead of seeing Hobbes as defending naturalphilosophy as “a causal enterprise … [that] as such, secured total and irrevocable assent,” 1 I argue that, in his disagreement with Boyle, Hobbes relied upon (...) his understanding of naturalphilosophy as a mixed mathematical science. In a mixed mathematical science one can mix facts from experience with causal principles borrowed from geometry. Hobbes’s harsh criticisms of Boyle’s philosophy, especially in the _Dialogus Physicus, sive De natura aeris_, should thus be understood as Hobbes advancing his view of the proper relationship of naturalphilosophy to geometry in terms of mixing principles from geometry with facts from experience. Understood in this light, Hobbes need not be taken to reject or diminish the importance of experiment/experience; nor should Hobbes’s criticisms in _Dialogus Physicus_ be understood as rejecting experimenting as ignoble and not befitting a philosopher. Instead, Hobbes’s viewpoint is that experiment/experience must be understood within its proper place – it establishes the ‘that’ for a mixed mathematical science explanation. (shrink)
An analysis of the counter-intuitive properties of infinity as understood differently in mathematics, classical physics and quantum physics allows the consideration of various paradoxes under a new light (e.g. Zeno’s dichotomy, Torricelli’s trumpet, and the weirdness of quantum physics). It provides strong support for the reality of abstractness and mathematical Platonism, and a plausible reason why there is something rather than nothing in the concrete universe. The conclusions are far reaching for science and philosophy.
This book contextualizes David Hume's philosophy of physical science, exploring both Hume's background in the history of early modern naturalphilosophy and its subsequent impact on the scientific tradition.
This chapter argues that the standard conception of Spinoza as a fellow-travelling mechanical philosopher and proto-scientific naturalist is misleading. It argues, first, that Spinoza’s account of the proper method for the study of nature presented in the Theological-Political Treatise (TTP) points away from the one commonly associated with the mechanical philosophy. Moreover, throughout his works Spinoza’s views on the very possibility of knowledge of nature are decidedly sceptical (as specified below). Third, in the seventeenth-century debates over proper methods in (...) the sciences, Spinoza sided with those that criticized the aspirations of those (the physico-mathematicians, Galileo, Huygens, Wallis, Wren, etc) who thought the application of mathematics to nature was the way to make progress. In particular, he offers grounds for doubting their confidence in the significance of measurement as well as their piece-meal methodology (see section 2). Along the way, this chapter offers a new interpretation of common notions in the context of treating Spinoza’s account of motion (see section 3). (shrink)
The subject of this essay-based dissertation is Hume’s naturalphilosophy. The dissertation consists of four separate essays and an introduction. These essays do not only treat Hume’s views on the topic of naturalphilosophy, but his views are placed into a broader context of history of philosophy and science, physics in particular. The introductory section outlines the historical context, shows how the individual essays are connected, expounds what kind of research methodology has been used, and (...) encapsulates the research contributions of the essays. The first essay treats Newton’s experimentalist methodology in gravity research and its relation to Hume’s causal philosophy. It is argued that Hume does not see the relation of cause and effect as being founded on a priori reasoning, similar to the way in which Newton criticized non-empirical hypotheses about the causal properties of gravity. Contrary to Hume’s rules of causation, the universal law does not include a reference either to contiguity or succession, but Hume accepts it in interpreting the force and the law of gravity instrumentally. The second article considers Newtonian and non-Newtonian elements in Hume more broadly. He is sympathetic to many prominently Newtonian themes in naturalphilosophy, such as experimentalism, critique of hypotheses, inductive proof, and the critique of Leibnizian principles of sufficient reason and intelligibility. However, Hume is not a Newtonian philosopher in many respects: his conceptions regarding space and time, the vacuum, the specifics of causation, the status of mechanism, and the reality of forces differ markedly from Newton’s related conceptions. The third article focuses on Hume’s Fork and the proper epistemic status of propositions of mixed mathematics. It is shown that the epistemic status of propositions of mixed mathematics, such as those concerning laws of nature, is that of matters of fact. The reason for this is that the propositions of mixed mathematics are dependent on the Uniformity Principle. The fourth article analyzes Einstein’s acknowledgement of Hume regarding special relativity. The views of the scientist and the philosopher are juxtaposed, and it is argued that there are two common points to be found in their writings, namely an empiricist theory of ideas and concepts and a relationist ontology regarding space and time. (shrink)
Modern philosophy of mathematics has been dominated by Platonism and nominalism, to the neglect of the Aristotelian realist option. Aristotelianism holds that mathematics studies certain real properties of the world – mathematics is neither about a disembodied world of “abstract objects”, as Platonism holds, nor it is merely a language of science, as nominalism holds. Aristotle’s theory that mathematics is the “science of quantity” is a good account of at least elementary mathematics: the ratio of two heights, for example, (...) is a perceivable and measurable real relation between properties of physical things, a relation that can be shared by the ratio of two weights or two time intervals. Ratios are an example of continuous quantity; discrete quantities, such as whole numbers, are also realised as relations between a heap and a unit-making universal. For example, the relation between foliage and being-a-leaf is the number of leaves on a tree,a relation that may equal the relation between a heap of shoes and being-a-shoe. Modern higher mathematics, however, deals with some real properties that are not naturally seen as quantity, so that the “science of quantity” theory of mathematics needs supplementation. Symmetry, topology and similar structural properties are studied by mathematics, but are about pattern, structure or arrangement rather than quantity. (shrink)
In his influential book, The Nature of Morality, Gilbert Harman writes: “In explaining the observations that support a physical theory, scientists typically appeal to mathematical principles. On the other hand, one never seems to need to appeal in this way to moral principles.” What is the epistemological relevance of this contrast, if genuine? This chapter argues that ethicists and philosophers of mathematics have misunderstood it. They have confused what the chapter calls the justificatory challenge for realism about an area, (...) D—the challenge to justify our D-beliefs—with the reliability challenge for D-realism—the challenge to explain the reliability of our D-beliefs. Harman’s contrast is relevant to the first, but not, evidently, to the second. One upshot of the discussion is that genealogical debunking arguments are fallacious. Another is that indispensability considerations cannot answer the Benacerraf–Field challenge for mathematical realism. (shrink)
The relevance of analytic metaphysics has come under criticism: Ladyman & Ross, for instance, have suggested do discontinue the field. French & McKenzie have argued in defense of analytic metaphysics that it develops tools that could turn out to be useful for philosophy of physics. In this article, we show first that this heuristic defense of metaphysics can be extended to the scientific field of applied ontology, which uses constructs from analytic metaphysics. Second, we elaborate on a parallel by (...) French & McKenzie between mathematics and metaphysics to show that the whole field of analytic metaphysics, being useful not only for philosophy but also for science, should continue to exist as a largely autonomous field. (shrink)
If Tahiti suggested to theorists comfortably at home in Europe thoughts of noble savages without clothes, those who paid for and went on voyages there were in pursuit of a quite opposite human ideal. Cook's voyage to observe the transit of Venus in 1769 symbolises the eighteenth century's commitment to numbers and accuracy, and its willingness to spend a lot of public money on acquiring them. The state supported the organisation of quantitative researches, employing surveyors and collecting statistics to..
The classical (set-theoretic) concept of structure has become essential for every contemporary account of a scientific theory, but also for the metatheoretical accounts dealing with the adequacy of such theories and their methods. In the latter category of accounts, and in particular, the structural metamodels designed for the applicability of mathematics have struggled over the last decade to justify the use of mathematical models in sciences beyond their 'indispensability' in terms of either method or concepts/entities. In this paper, I (...) argue that these metamodels employ structures of different natures and epistemologies, and this diversity does pose a serious problem to the intended justification. (shrink)
Mathematicians distinguish between proofs that explain their results and those that merely prove. This paper explores the nature of explanatory proofs, their role in mathematical practice, and some of the reasons why philosophers should care about them. Among the questions addressed are the following: what kinds of proofs are generally explanatory (or not)? What makes a proof explanatory? Do all mathematical explanations involve proof in an essential way? Are there really such things as explanatory proofs, and if so, (...) how do they relate to the sorts of explanation encountered in philosophy of science and metaphysics? (shrink)
Any philosophy of science ought to have something to say about the nature of mathematics, especially an account like constructive empiricism in which mathematical concepts like model and isomorphism play a central role. This thesis is a contribution to the larger project of formulating a constructive empiricist account of mathematics. The philosophy of mathematics developed is fictionalist, with an anti-realist metaphysics. In the thesis, van Fraassen's constructive empiricism is defended and various accounts of mathematics are considered and (...) rejected. Constructive empiricism cannot be realist about abstract objects; it must reject even the realism advocated by otherwise ontologically restrained and epistemologically empiricist indispensability theorists. Indispensability arguments rely on the kind of inference to the best explanation the rejection of which is definitive of constructive empiricism. On the other hand, formalist and logicist anti-realist positions are also shown to be untenable. It is argued that a constructive empiricist philosophy of mathematics must be fictionalist. Borrowing and developing elements from both Philip Kitcher's constructive naturalism and Kendall Walton's theory of fiction, the account of mathematics advanced treats mathematics as a collection of stories told about an ideal agent and mathematical objects as fictions. The account explains what true portions of mathematics are about and why mathematics is useful, even while it is a story about an ideal agent operating in an ideal world; it connects theory and practice in mathematics with human experience of the phenomenal world. At the same time, the make-believe and game-playing aspects of the theory show how we can make sense of mathematics as fiction, as stories, without either undermining that explanation or being forced to accept abstract mathematical objects into our ontology. All of this occurs within the framework that constructive empiricism itself provides the epistemological limitations it mandates, the semantic view of theories, and an emphasis on the pragmatic dimension of our theories, our explanations, and of our relation to the language we use. (shrink)
In “What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?” (2013b), Lange uses several compelling examples to argue that certain explanations for natural phenomena appeal primarily to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In such explanations, the core explanatory facts are modally stronger than facts about causation, regularity, and other natural relations. We show that Lange's account of distinctively mathematical explanation is flawed in that it fails to account for the implicit directionality in each of his examples. (...) This inadequacy is remediable in each case by appeal to ontic facts that account for why the explanation is acceptable in one direction and unacceptable in the other direction. The mathematics involved in these examples cannot play this crucial normative role. While Lange's examples fail to demonstrate the existence of distinctively mathematical explanations, they help to emphasize that many superficially natural scientific explanations rely for their explanatory force on relations of stronger-than-natural necessity. These are not opposing kinds of scientific explanations; they are different aspects of scientific explanation. (shrink)
This article examines the possibility of philosophizing about mathematics with children. It aims at outlining the nature of the practice of philosophy of mathematics with children in a mainly theoretical and exploratory way. First, an attempt at a definition is proposed. Second, I suggest some reasons that might motivate such a practice. My thesis is that one can identify an intrinsic as well as two extrinsic goals of philosophizing about mathematics with children. The intrinsic goal is related to a (...) presumed inherent importance of presenting children with some philosophical questions about mathematics. The extrinsic goals consist of first the positive effects such a practice can have on mathematical learning and abilities and second the fostering of children's understanding of philosophical method of inquiry and thinking and therefore of their philosophical thinking competences. Third, some examples found in the literature of previously developed ways of practising philosophy of mathematics with children are presented. This article aims at giving a general outlining picture of the issues surrounding the practice of philosophy of mathematics with children and should therefore be read as an encouragement to further development and studies. (shrink)
This chapter tries to answer the following question: How should we conceive of the method of mathematics, if we take a naturalist stance? The problem arises since mathematical knowledge is regarded as the paradigm of certain knowledge, because mathematics is based on the axiomatic method. Moreover, natural science is deeply mathematized, and science is crucial for any naturalist perspective. But mathematics seems to provide a counterexample both to methodological and ontological naturalism. To face this problem, some authors tried (...) to naturalize mathematics by relying on evolutionism. But several difficulties arise when we try to do this. This chapter suggests that, in order to naturalize mathematics, it is better to take the method of mathematics to be the analytic method, rather than the axiomatic method, and thus conceive of mathematical knowledge as plausible knowledge. (shrink)
In the present article we attempt to show that Aristotle's syllogistic is an underlying logiC which includes a natural deductive system and that it isn't an axiomatic theory as had previously been thought. We construct a mathematical model which reflects certain structural aspects of Aristotle's logic. We examine the relation of the model to the system of logic envisaged in scattered parts of Prior and Posterior Analytics. Our interpretation restores Aristotle's reputation as a logician of consummate imagination and (...) skill. Several attributions of shortcomings and logical errors to Aristotle are shown to be without merit. Aristotle's logic is found to be self-sufficient in several senses: his theory of deduction is logically sound in every detail. (His indirect deductions have been criticized, but incorrectly on our account.) Aristotle's logic presupposes no other logical concepts, not even those of propositional logic. The Aristotelian system is seen to be complete in the sense that every valid argument expressible in his system admits of a deduction within his deductive system: every semantically valid argument is deducible. (shrink)
Einstein, like most philosophers, thought that there cannot be mathematical truths which are both necessary and about reality. The article argues against this, starting with prima facie examples such as "It is impossible to tile my bathroom floor with regular pentagonal tiles." Replies are given to objections based on the supposedly purely logical or hypothetical nature of mathematics.
A perspective is provided on how to move beyond postmodernism while struggling to do philosophy in the twenty-first century. The ontological structures of time, history, and mathematics are analyzed from the vantagepoint of the Heideggerian theory of nonspatial Fold.
For over thirty years I have argued that all branches of science and scholarship would have both their intellectual and humanitarian value enhanced if pursued in accordance with the edicts of wisdom-inquiry rather than knowledge-inquiry. I argue that this is true of mathematics. Viewed from the perspective of knowledge-inquiry, mathematics confronts us with two fundamental problems. (1) How can mathematics be held to be a branch of knowledge, in view of the difficulties that view engenders? What could mathematics be knowledge (...) about? (2) How do we distinguish significant from insignificant mathematics? This is a fundamental philosophical problem concerning the nature of mathematics. But it is also a practical problem concerning mathematics itself. In the absence of the solution to the problem, there is the danger that genuinely significant mathematics will be lost among the unchecked growth of a mass of insignificant mathematics. This second problem cannot, it would seem, be solved granted knowledge-inquiry. For, in order to solve the problem, mathematics needs to be related to values, but this is, it seems, prohibited by knowledge-inquiry because it could only lead to the subversion of mathematical rigour. Both problems are solved, however, when mathematics is viewed from the perspective of wisdom-inquiry. (1) Mathematics is not a branch of knowledge. It is a body of systematized, unified and inter-connected problem-solving methods, a body of problematic possibilities. (2) A piece of mathematics is significant if (a) it links up to the interconnected body of existing mathematics, ideally in such a way that some problems difficult to solve in other branches become much easier to solve when translated into the piece of mathematics in question; (b) it has fruitful applications for (other) worthwhile human endeavours. If ever the revolution from knowledge to wisdom occurs, I would hope wisdom mathematics would flourish, the nature of mathematics would become much more transparent, more pupils and students would come to appreciate the fascination of mathematics, and it would be easier to discern what is genuinely significant in mathematics (something that baffled even Einstein). As a result of clarifying what should count as significant, the pursuit of wisdom mathematics might even lead to the development of significant new mathematics. (shrink)
Investigation into the sequence structure of the genetic code by means of an informatic approach is a real success story. The features of human language are also the object of investigation within the realm of formal language theories. They focus on the common rules of a universal grammar that lies behind all languages and determine generation of syntactic structures. This universal grammar is a depiction of material reality, i.e., the hidden logical order of things and its relations determined by (...) class='Hi'>natural laws. Therefore mathematics is viewed not only as an appropriate tool to investigate human language and genetic code structures through computer sciencebased formal language theory but is itself a depiction of material reality. This confusion between language as a scientific tool to describe observations/experiences within cognitive constructed models and formal language as a direct depiction of material reality occurs not only in current approaches but was the central focus of the philosophy of science debate in the twentieth century, with rather unexpected results. This article recalls these results and their implications for more recent mathematical approaches that also attempt to explain the evolution of human language. (shrink)
Many philosophers these days consider themselves naturalists, but it's doubtful any two of them intend the same position by the term. In Second Philosophy, Penelope Maddy describes and practices a particularly austere form of naturalism called "Second Philosophy". Without a definitive criterion for what counts as "science" and what doesn't, Second Philosophy can't be specified directly ("trust only the methods of science" for example), so Maddy proceeds instead by illustrating the behaviors of an idealized inquirer she calls (...) the "Second Philosopher". mhis Second Philosopher begins from perceptual common sense experimentation, theory formation and testing, working all the while to asses, correct and improve her methods as she goes. Second Philosophy is then the result of the Second Philosopher's investigations. Maddy delineates the Second Philosopher's approach by tracing her reactions to various familiar skeptical and transcendental views (Descartes, Kant, Carnap, late Putnam, van Fraassen), comparing her methods to those of other self-described naturalists (especially Quine), and examining a prominent contemporary debate (between disquotationalists and correspondence theorists in the theory of truth) to extract a properly second-philosophical line of thought. She then undertakes to practice Second Philosophy in her reflections on the ground of logical truth, the methodology, ontology and epistemology of mathematics, and the general prospects for metaphysics naturalized. (shrink)
Lange argues that some natural phenomena can be explained by appeal to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In these “distinctively mathematical” explanations, the core explanatory facts are either modally stronger than facts about ordinary causal law or understood to be constitutive of the physical task or arrangement at issue. Craver and Povich argue that Lange’s account of DME fails to exclude certain “reversals”. Lange has replied that his account can avoid these directionality charges. Specifically, Lange argues (...) that in legitimate DMEs, but not in their “reversals,” the empirical fact appealed to in the explanation is “understood to be constitutive of the physical task or arrangement at issue” in the explanandum. I argue that Lange’s reply is unsatisfactory because it leaves the crucial notion of being “understood to be constitutive of the physical task or arrangement” obscure in ways that fail to block “reversals” except by an apparent ad hoc stipulation or by abandoning the reliance on understanding and instead accepting a strong realism about essence. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that constructivism in mathematics faces a dilemma. In particular, I maintain that constructivism is unable to explain (i) the application of mathematics to nature and (ii) the intersubjectivity of mathematics unless (iii) it is conjoined with two theses that reduce it to a form of mathematical Platonism. The paper is divided into five sections. In the first section of the paper, I explain the difference between mathematical constructivism and mathematical Platonism and I (...) outline my argument. In the second, I argue that the best explanation of how mathematics applies to nature for a constructivist is a thesis I call Copernicanism. In the third, I argue that the best explanation of how mathematics can be intersubjective for a constructivist is a thesis I call Ideality. In the fourth, I argue that once constructivism is conjoined with these two theses, it collapses into a form of mathematical Platonism. In the fifth, I confront some objections. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the nature, scope and importance of philosophy in the light of its relation to other disciplines. This work pays its focus on the various fundamental problems of philosophy, relating to Ethics, Metaphysics, Epistemology Logic, and its association with scientific realism. It will also highlight the various facets of these problems and the role of philosophers to point out the various issues relating to human issues. It is widely agreed that (...) class='Hi'>philosophy as a multi-dimensional subject that shows affinity to others branches of philosophy like, Philosophy of Science, Humanities, Physics and Mathematics, but this paper also seeks, a philosophical nature towards the universal problems of nature. It evaluates the contribution and sacrifices of the great sages of philosophers to promote the clarity and progress in the field of philosophy. (shrink)
Prior to the nineteenth century, those who are now regarded as scientists were referred to as natural philosophers. With empiricism, science was claimed to be a superior form of knowledge to philosophy, and naturalphilosophy was marginalized. This claim for science was challenged by defenders of naturalphilosophy, and this debate has continued up to the present. The vast majority of mainstream scientists are comfortable in the belief that through applying the scientific method, knowledge (...) will continue to accumulate, and that claims to knowledge outside science apart from practical affairs should not be taken seriously. This is referred to as scientism. It is incumbent on those who defend naturalphilosophy against scientism not only to expose the illusions and incoherence of scientism, but to show that natural philosophers can make justifiable claims to advancing knowledge. By focusing on a recent characterization and defense of naturalphilosophy along with a reconstruction of the history of naturalphilosophy, showing the nature and role of Schelling’s conception of dialectical thinking, I will attempt to identify naturalphilosophy as a coherent tradition of thought and defend it as something different from science and as essential to it, and essential to the broader culture and to civilization. (shrink)
Psychology considered as a natural science began as Aristotelian "physics" or "naturalphilosophy" of the soul. C. Wolff placed psychology under metaphysics, coordinate with cosmology. Scottish thinkers placed it within moral philosophy, but distinguished its "physical" laws from properly moral laws (for guiding conduct). Several Germans sought to establish an autonomous empirical psychology as a branch of natural science. British and French visual theorists developed mathematically precise theories of size and distance perception; they created instruments (...) to test these theories and to measure visual phenomena such as the duration of visual impressions. These investigators typically were dualists who included mental phenomena within nature. (shrink)
Over the years, mathematics and statistics have become increasingly important in the social sciences1 . A look at history quickly confirms this claim. At the beginning of the 20th century most theories in the social sciences were formulated in qualitative terms while quantitative methods did not play a substantial role in their formulation and establishment. Moreover, many practitioners considered mathematical methods to be inappropriate and simply unsuited to foster our understanding of the social domain. Notably, the famous Methodenstreit also (...) concerned the role of mathematics in the social sciences. Here, mathematics was considered to be the method of the natural sciences from which the social sciences had to be separated during the period of maturation of these disciplines. All this changed by the end of the century. By then, mathematical, and especially statistical, methods were standardly used, and their value in the social sciences became relatively uncontested. The use of mathematical and statistical methods is now ubiquitous: Almost all social sciences rely on statistical methods to analyze data and form hypotheses, and almost all of them use (to a greater or lesser extent) a range of mathematical methods to help us understand the social world. Additional indication for the increasing importance of mathematical and statistical methods in the social sciences is the formation of new subdisciplines, and the establishment of specialized journals and societies. Indeed, subdisciplines such as Mathematical Psychology and Mathematical Sociology emerged, and corresponding journals such as The Journal of Mathematical Psychology (since 1964), The Journal of Mathematical Sociology (since 1976), Mathematical Social Sciences (since 1980) as well as the online journals Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (since 1998) and Mathematical Anthropology and Cultural Theory (since 2000) were established. What is more, societies such as the Society for Mathematical Psychology (since 1976) and the Mathematical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association (since 1996) were founded. Similar developments can be observed in other countries. The mathematization of economics set in somewhat earlier (Vazquez 1995; Weintraub 2002). However, the use of mathematical methods in economics started booming only in the second half of the last century (Debreu 1991). Contemporary economics is dominated by the mathematical approach, although a certain style of doing economics became more and more under attack in the last decade or so. Recent developments in behavioral economics and experimental economics can also be understood as a reaction against the dominance (and limitations) of an overly mathematical approach to economics. There are similar debates in other social sciences. It is, however, important to stress that problems of one method (such as axiomatization or the use of set theory) can hardly be taken as a sign of bankruptcy of mathematical methods in the social sciences tout court. This chapter surveys mathematical and statistical methods used in the social sciences and discusses some of the philosophical questions they raise. It is divided into two parts. Sections 1 and 2 are devoted to mathematical methods, and Sections 3 to 7 to statistical methods. As several other chapters in this handbook provide detailed accounts of various mathematical methods, our remarks about the latter will be rather short and general. Statistical methods, on the other hand, will be discussed in-depth. (shrink)
Psychology considered as a natural science began as Aristotelian "physics" or "naturalphilosophy" of the soul, conceived as an animating power that included vital, sensory, and rational functions. C. Wolff restricted the term " psychology " to sensory, cognitive, and volitional functions and placed the science under metaphysics, coordinate with cosmology. Near the middle of the eighteenth century, Krueger, Godart, and Bonnet proposed approaching the mind with the techniques of the new natural science. At nearly the (...) same time, Scottish thinkers placed psychology within moral philosophy, but distinguished its "physical" laws from properly moral laws. British and French visual theorists developed mathematically precise theories of size and distance perception; they created instruments to test these theories and to measure visual phenomena such as the duration of visual impressions. By the end of the century there was a flourishing discipline of empirical psychology in Germany, with a professorship, textbooks, and journals. The practitioners of empirical psychology at this time typically were dualists who included mental phenomena within nature. Accordingly, psychology as a natural scientific disciplines was not invented in the 18th and 19th centuries, but *remade* from the extant empirical psychology. (shrink)
A common view is that natural language treats numbers as abstract objects, with expressions like the number of planets, eight, as well as the number eight acting as referential terms referring to numbers. In this paper I will argue that this view about reference to numbers in natural language is fundamentally mistaken. A more thorough look at natural language reveals a very different view of the ontological status of natural numbers. On this view, numbers are not (...) primarily treated abstract objects, but rather 'aspects' of pluralities of ordinary objects, namely number tropes, a view that in fact appears to have been the Aristotelian view of numbers. Natural language moreover provides support for another view of the ontological status of numbers, on which natural numbers do not act as entities, but rather have the status of plural properties, the meaning of numerals when acting like adjectives. This view matches contemporary approaches in the philosophy of mathematics of what Dummett called the Adjectival Strategy, the view on which number terms in arithmetical sentences are not terms referring to numbers, but rather make contributions to generalizations about ordinary (and possible) objects. It is only with complex expressions somewhat at the periphery of language such as the number eight that reference to pure numbers is permitted. (shrink)
We present a sound and complete Fitch-style natural deduction system for an S5 modal logic containing an actuality operator, a diagonal necessity operator, and a diagonal possibility operator. The logic is two-dimensional, where we evaluate sentences with respect to both an actual world (first dimension) and a world of evaluation (second dimension). The diagonal necessity operator behaves as a quantifier over every point on the diagonal between actual worlds and worlds of evaluation, while the diagonal possibility quantifies over some (...) point on the diagonal. Thus, they are just like the epistemic operators for apriority and its dual. We take this extension of Fitch’s familiar derivation system to be a very natural one, since the new rules and labeled lines hereby introduced preserve the structure of Fitch’s own rules for the modal case. (shrink)
It is generally expected that the laws of nature are obtained as the end-product of the scientific process. In this paper, consistently with said expectation, I produce a model of science using mathematics, then I use it to derive the laws of nature by applying the (formalized) scientific method to the model. Modern notions relating to mathematical undecidability are utilized to create a 'trial and error' foundation to the discovery of new mathematical truths, such that one is required (...) to run programs to completion ---essentially to perform 'mathematical experiments'--- to acquire knowledge about mathematics. The 'laws of nature' are then derived as the probability measure that maximizes the quantity of information produced by the scientific method as it traces a path in the space of all possible (mathematical) experiments. In this model, said laws have the same probabilistic structure and domain (the set of all experiments) as the modern laws of physics, and quite remarkably, the two are very similar if not identical. Since the definitions start at the level of science and experiments, are purely mathematical, yet are nonetheless able to derive the laws of nature and do so from first principles, we argue that the present derivation of said laws, as it is ultimately the product of the (formalized) scientific method, is a plausible, conceptually minimal and purely mathematical foundation to the laws of physics. We end with applications of the model to fundamental open problems of physics and produce testable predictions. (shrink)
Two families of mathematical methods lie at the heart of investigating the hierarchical structure of genetic variation in Homo sapiens: /diversity partitioning/, which assesses genetic variation within and among pre-determined groups, and /clustering analysis/, which simultaneously produces clusters and assigns individuals to these “unsupervised” cluster classifications. While mathematically consistent, these two methodologies are understood by many to ground diametrically opposed claims about the reality of human races. Moreover, modeling results are sensitive to assumptions such as preexisting theoretical commitments to (...) certain linguistic, anthropological, and geographic human groups. Thus, models can be perniciously reified. That is, they can be conflated and confused with the world. This fact belies standard realist and antirealist interpretations of “race,” and supports a pluralist conventionalist interpretation. (shrink)
The philosophy of information (PI) is a new area of research with its own field of investigation and methodology. This article, based on the Herbert A. Simon Lecture of Computing and Philosophy I gave at Carnegie Mellon University in 2001, analyses the eighteen principal open problems in PI. Section 1 introduces the analysis by outlining Herbert Simon's approach to PI. Section 2 discusses some methodological considerations about what counts as a good philosophical problem. The discussion centers on Hilbert's (...) famous analysis of the central problems in mathematics. The rest of the article is devoted to the eighteen problems. These are organized into five sections: problems in the analysis of the concept of information, in semantics, in the study of intelligence, in the relation between information and nature, and in the investigation of values. (shrink)
First, I offer a short overview on the classical occidental philosophy as propounded by the ancient Greeks and the natural philosophies of the last 2000 years until the dawn of the empiricist logic of science in the twentieth century, which wanted to delimitate classical metaphysics from empirical sciences. In contrast to metaphysical concepts which didn’t reflect on the language with which they tried to explain the whole realm of entities empiricist logic of science initiated the end of metaphysical (...) theories by reflecting on the preconditions for foundation and justification of sentences about objects of investigation, i.e. a coherent definition of language in general, which was not the aim of classical metaphysics. Unexpectedly empiricist logic of science in the linguistic turn failed in the physical and mathematical reductionism of language and its use in communication, as will be discussed below in further detail. Nevertheless, such reflection on language and communication also introduced this vocabulary into biology. Manfred Eigen and bioinformatics, later on biolinguistics, used ‘language’ applied linguistic turn thinking to biology coherent to the logic of science and its formalisable aims. This changed significantly with the birth of biosemiotics and biohermeneutics. At the end of this introduction it will be outlined why and how all these approaches reproduced the deficiencies of the logic of science and why the biocommunicative approach avoids their abstractive fallacies. (shrink)
Jakob Friedrich Fries (1773-1843): A Philosophy of the Exact Sciences -/- Shortened version of the article of the same name in: Tabula Rasa. Jenenser magazine for critical thinking. 6th of November 1994 edition -/- 1. Biography -/- Jakob Friedrich Fries was born on the 23rd of August, 1773 in Barby on the Elbe. Because Fries' father had little time, on account of his journeying, he gave up both his sons, of whom Jakob Friedrich was the elder, to the Herrnhut (...) Teaching Institution in Niesky in 1778. Fries attended the theological seminar in Niesky in autumn 1792, which lasted for three years. There he (secretly) began to study Kant. The reading of Kant's works led Fries, for the first time, to a deep philosophical satisfaction. His enthusiasm for Kant is to be understood against the background that a considerable measure of Kant's philosophy is based on a firm foundation of what happens in an analogous and similar manner in mathematics. -/- During this period he also read Heinrich Jacobi's novels, as well as works of the awakening classic German literature; in particular Friedrich Schiller's works. In 1795, Fries arrived at Leipzig University to study law. During his time in Leipzig he became acquainted with Fichte's philosophy. In autumn of the same year he moved to Jena to hear Fichte at first hand, but was soon disappointed. -/- During his first sojourn in Jenaer (1796), Fries got to know the chemist A. N. Scherer who was very influenced by the work of the chemist A. L. Lavoisier. Fries discovered, at Scherer's suggestion, the law of stoichiometric composition. Because he felt that his work still need some time before completion, he withdrew as a private tutor to Zofingen (in Switzerland). There Fries worked on his main critical work, and studied Newton's "Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica". He remained a lifelong admirer of Newton, whom he praised as a perfectionist of astronomy. Fries saw the final aim of his mathematicalnaturalphilosophy in the union of Newton's Principia with Kant's philosophy. -/- With the aim of qualifying as a lecturer, he returned to Jena in 1800. Now Fries was known from his independent writings, such as "Reinhold, Fichte and Schelling" (1st edition in 1803), and "Systems of Philosophy as an Evident Science" (1804). The relationship between G. W. F. Hegel and Fries did not develop favourably. Hegel speaks of "the leader of the superficial army", and at other places he expresses: "he is an extremely narrow-minded bragger". On the other hand, Fries also has an unfavourable take on Hegel. He writes of the "Redundancy of the Hegelistic dialectic" (1828). In his History of Philosophy (1837/40) he writes of Hegel, amongst other things: "Your way of philosophising seems just to give expression to nonsense in the shortest possible way". In this work, Fries appears to argue with Hegel in an objective manner, and expresses a positive attitude to his work. -/- In 1805, Fries was appointed professor for philosophy in Heidelberg. In his time spent in Heidelberg, he married Caroline Erdmann. He also sealed his friendships with W. M. L. de Wette and F. H. Jacobi. Jacobi was amongst the contemporaries who most impressed Fries during this period. In Heidelberg, Fries wrote, amongst other things, his three-volume main work New Critique of Reason (1807). -/- In 1816 Fries returned to Jena. When in 1817 the Wartburg festival took place, Fries was among the guests, and made a small speech. 1819 was the so-called "Great Year" for Fries: His wife Caroline died, and Karl Sand, a member of a student fraternity, and one of Fries' former students stabbed the author August von Kotzebue to death. Fries was punished with a philosophy teaching ban but still received a professorship for physics and mathematics. Only after a period of years, and under restrictions, he was again allowed to read philosophy. From now on, Fries was excluded from political influence. The rest of his life he devoted himself once again to philosophical and natural studies. During this period, he wrote "MathematicalNaturalPhilosophy" (1822) and the "History of Philosophy" (1837/40). -/- Fries suffered from a stroke on New Year's Day 1843, and a second stroke, on the 10th of August 1843 ended his life. -/- 2. Fries' Work Fries left an extensive body of work. A look at the subject areas he worked on makes us aware of the universality of his thinking. Amongst these subjects are: Psychic anthropology, psychology, pure philosophy, logic, metaphysics, ethics, politics, religious philosophy, aesthetics, naturalphilosophy, mathematics, physics and medical subjects, to which, e.g., the text "Regarding the optical centre in the eye together with general remarks about the theory of seeing" (1839) bear witness. With popular philosophical writings like the novel "Julius and Evagoras" (1822), or the arabesque "Longing, and a Trip to the Middle of Nowhere" (1820), he tried to make his philosophy accessible to a broader public. Anthropological considerations are shown in the methodical basis of his philosophy, and to this end, he provides the following didactic instruction for the study of his work: "If somebody wishes to study philosophy on the basis of this guide, I would recommend that after studying naturalphilosophy, a strict study of logic should follow in order to peruse metaphysics and its applied teachings more rapidly, followed by a strict study of criticism, followed once again by a return to an even closer study of metaphysics and its applied teachings." -/- 3. Continuation of Fries' work through the Friesian School -/- Fries' ideas found general acceptance amongst scientists and mathematicians. A large part of the followers of the "Fries School of Thought" had a scientific or mathematical background. Amongst them were biologist Matthias Jakob Schleiden, mathematics and science specialist philosopher Ernst Friedrich Apelt, the zoologist Oscar Schmidt, and the mathematician Oscar Xavier Schlömilch. Between the years 1847 and 1849, the treatises of the "Fries School of Thought", with which the publishers aimed to pursue philosophy according to the model of the natural sciences appeared. In the Kant-Fries philosophy, they saw the realisation of this ideal. The history of the "New Fries School of Thought" began in 1903. It was in this year that the philosopher Leonard Nelson gathered together a small discussion circle in Goettingen. Amongst the founding members of this circle were: A. Rüstow, C. Brinkmann and H. Goesch. In 1904 L. Nelson, A. Rüstow, H. Goesch and the student W. Mecklenburg travelled to Thuringia to find the missing Fries writings. In the same year, G. Hessenberg, K. Kaiser and Nelson published the first pamphlet from their first volume of the "Treatises of the Fries School of Thought, New Edition". -/- The school set out with the aim of searching for the missing Fries' texts, and re-publishing them with a view to re-opening discussion of Fries' brand of philosophy. The members of the circle met regularly for discussions. Additionally, larger conferences took place, mostly during the holidays. Featuring as speakers were: Otto Apelt, Otto Berg, Paul Bernays, G. Fraenkel, K. Grelling, G. Hessenberg, A. Kronfeld, O. Meyerhof, L. Nelson and R. Otto. On the 1st of March 1913, the Jakob-Friedrich-Fries society was founded. Whilst the Fries' school of thought dealt in continuum with the advancement of the Kant-Fries philosophy, the members of the Jakob-Friedrich-Fries society's main task was the dissemination of the Fries' school publications. In May/June, 1914, the organisations took part in their last common conference before the gulf created by the outbreak of the First World War. Several members died during the war. Others returned disabled. The next conference took place in 1919. A second conference followed in 1921. Nevertheless, such intensive work as had been undertaken between 1903 and 1914 was no longer possible. -/- Leonard Nelson died in October 1927. In the 1930's, the 6th and final volume of "Treatises of the Fries School of Thought, New Edition" was published. Franz Oppenheimer, Otto Meyerhof, Minna Specht and Grete Hermann were involved in their publication. -/- 4. About MathematicalNaturalPhilosophy -/- In 1822, Fries' "MathematicalNaturalPhilosophy" appeared. Fries rejects the speculative naturalphilosophy of his time - above all Schelling's naturalphilosophy. A natural study, founded on speculative philosophy, ceases with its collection, arrangement and order of well-known facts. Only a mathematicalnaturalphilosophy can deliver the necessary explanatory reasoning. The basic dictum of his mathematicalnaturalphilosophy is: "All natural theories must be definable using purely mathematically determinable reasons of explanation." Fries is of the opinion that science can attain completeness only by the subordination of the empirical facts to the metaphysical categories and mathematical laws. -/- The crux of Fries' naturalphilosophy is the thought that mathematics must be made fertile for use by the natural sciences. However, pure mathematics displays solely empty abstraction. To be able to apply them to the sensory world, an intermediatory connection is required. Mathematics must be connected to metaphysics. The pure mechanics, consisting of three parts are these: a) A study of geometrical movement, which considers solely the direction of the movement, b) A study of kinematics, which considers velocity in Addition, c) A study of dynamic movement, which also incorporates mass and power, as well as direction and velocity. -/- Of great interest is Fries' naturalphilosophy in view of its methodology, particularly with regard to the doctrine "leading maxims". Fries calls these "leading maxims" "heuristic", "because they are principal rules for scientific invention". -/- Fries' philosophy found great recognition with Carl Friedrich Gauss, amongst others. Fries asked for Gauss's opinion on his work "An Attempt at a Criticism based on the Principles of the Probability Calculus" (1842). Gauss also provided his opinions on "MathematicalNaturalPhilosophy" (1822) and on Fries' "History of Philosophy". Gauss acknowledged Fries' philosophy and wrote in a letter to Fries: "I have always had a great predilection for philosophical speculation, and now I am all the more happy to have a reliable teacher in you in the study of the destinies of science, from the most ancient up to the latest times, as I have not always found the desired satisfaction in my own reading of the writings of some of the philosophers. In particular, the writings of several famous (maybe better, so-called famous) philosophers who have appeared since Kant have reminded me of the sieve of a goat-milker, or to use a modern image instead of an old-fashioned one, of Münchhausen's plait, with which he pulled himself from out of the water. These amateurs would not dare make such a confession before their Masters; it would not happen were they were to consider the case upon its merits. I have often regretted not living in your locality, so as to be able to glean much pleasurable entertainment from philosophical verbal discourse." -/- The starting point of the new adoption of Fries was Nelson's article "The critical method and the relation of psychology to philosophy" (1904). Nelson dedicates special attention to Fries' re-interpretation of Kant's deduction concept. Fries awards Kant's criticism the rationale of anthropological idiom, in that he is guided by the idea that one can examine in a psychological way which knowledge we have "a priori", and how this is created, so that we can therefore recognise our own knowledge "a priori" in an empirical way. Fries understands deduction to mean an "awareness residing darkly in us is, and only open to basic metaphysical principles through conscious reflection.". -/- Nelson has pointed to an analogy between Fries' deduction and modern metamathematics. In the same manner, as with the anthropological deduction of the content of the critical investigation into the metaphysical object show, the content of mathematics become, in David Hilbert's view, the object of metamathematics. -/-. (shrink)
Imre Lakatos' views on the philosophy of mathematics are important and they have often been underappreciated. The most obvious lacuna in this respect is the lack of detailed discussion and analysis of his 1976a paper and its implications for the methodology of mathematics, particularly its implications with respect to argumentation and the matter of how truths are established in mathematics. The most important themes that run through his work on the philosophy of mathematics and which culminate in the (...) 1976a paper are (1) the (quasi-)empirical character of mathematics and (2) the rejection of axiomatic deductivism as the basis of mathematical knowledge. In this paper Lakatos' later views on the quasi-empirical nature of mathematical theories and methodology are examined and specific attention is paid to what this view implies about the nature of mathematical argumentation and its relation to the empirical sciences. (shrink)
One of the most fundamental questions in the philosophy of mathematics concerns the relation between truth and formal proof. The position according to which the two concepts are the same is called deflationism, and the opposing viewpoint substantialism. In an important result of mathematical logic, Kurt Gödel proved in his first incompleteness theorem that all consistent formal systems containing arithmetic include sentences that can neither be proved nor disproved within that system. However, such undecidable Gödel sentences can be (...) established to be true once we expand the formal system with Alfred Tarski s semantical theory of truth, as shown by Stewart Shapiro and Jeffrey Ketland in their semantical arguments for the substantiality of truth. According to them, in Gödel sentences we have an explicit case of true but unprovable sentences, and hence deflationism is refuted. -/- Against that, Neil Tennant has shown that instead of Tarskian truth we can expand the formal system with a soundness principle, according to which all provable sentences are assertable, and the assertability of Gödel sentences follows. This way, the relevant question is not whether we can establish the truth of Gödel sentences, but whether Tarskian truth is a more plausible expansion than a soundness principle. In this work I will argue that this problem is best approached once we think of mathematics as the full human phenomenon, and not just consisting of formal systems. When pre-formal mathematical thinking is included in our account, we see that Tarskian truth is in fact not an expansion at all. I claim that what proof is to formal mathematics, truth is to pre-formal thinking, and the Tarskian account of semantical truth mirrors this relation accurately. -/- However, the introduction of pre-formal mathematics is vulnerable to the deflationist counterargument that while existing in practice, pre-formal thinking could still be philosophically superfluous if it does not refer to anything objective. Against this, I argue that all truly deflationist philosophical theories lead to arbitrariness of mathematics. In all other philosophical accounts of mathematics there is room for a reference of the pre-formal mathematics, and the expansion of Tarkian truth can be made naturally. Hence, if we reject the arbitrariness of mathematics, I argue in this work, we must accept the substantiality of truth. Related subjects such as neo-Fregeanism will also be covered, and shown not to change the need for Tarskian truth. -/- The only remaining route for the deflationist is to change the underlying logic so that our formal languages can include their own truth predicates, which Tarski showed to be impossible for classical first-order languages. With such logics we would have no need to expand the formal systems, and the above argument would fail. From the alternative approaches, in this work I focus mostly on the Independence Friendly (IF) logic of Jaakko Hintikka and Gabriel Sandu. Hintikka has claimed that an IF language can include its own adequate truth predicate. I argue that while this is indeed the case, we cannot recognize the truth predicate as such within the same IF language, and the need for Tarskian truth remains. In addition to IF logic, also second-order logic and Saul Kripke s approach using Kleenean logic will be shown to fail in a similar fashion. (shrink)
How does Newton approach the challenge of mechanizing gravity and, more broadly, naturalphilosophy? By adopting the simple machine tradition’s mathematical approach to a system’s co-varying parameters of change, he retains naturalphilosophy’s traditional goal while specifying it in a novel way as the search for impressed forces. He accordingly understands the physical world as a divinely created machine possessing intrinsically mathematical features, and mathematical methods as capable of identifying its real features. The (...) gravitational force’s physical cause remains an outstanding problem, however, as evidenced by Newton’s onetime reference to active principles as the “genuine principles of the mechanical philosophy”. (shrink)
This article is mainly a critique of Philip Kitcher's book, The Nature of Mathematical Knowledge. Four weaknesses in Kitcher's objection to Kant arise out of Kitcher's failure to recognize the perspectival nature of Kant's position. A proper understanding of Kant's theory of mathematics requires awareness of the perspectival nuances implicit in Kant's theory of pure intuition.
This collection of articles was written over the last 10 years and edited to bring them up to date (2019). All the articles are about human behavior (as are all articles by anyone about anything), and so about the limitations of having a recent monkey ancestry (8 million years or much less depending on viewpoint) and manifest words and deeds within the framework of our innate psychology as presented in the table of intentionality. As famous evolutionist Richard Leakey says, it (...) is critical to keep in mind not that we evolved from apes, but that in every important way, we are apes. If everyone was given a real understanding of this (i.e., of human ecology and psychology to actually give them some control over themselves), maybe civilization would have a chance. As things are however the leaders of society have no more grasp of things than their constituents and so collapse into anarchy is inevitable. -/- The first group of articles attempt to give some insight into how we behave that is reasonably free of theoretical delusions. In the next three groups, I comment on three of the principal delusions preventing a sustainable world— technology, religion and politics (cooperative groups). People believe that society can be saved by them, so I provide some suggestions in the rest of the book as to why this is unlikely via short articles and reviews of recent books by well-known writers. -/- It is critical to understand why we behave as we do and so the first section presents articles that try to describe (not explain as Wittgenstein insisted) behavior. I start with a brief review of the logical structure of rationality, which provides some heuristics for the description of language (mind, rationality, personality) and gives some suggestions as to how this relates to the evolution of social behavior. This centers around the two writers I have found the most important in this regard, Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle, whose ideas I combine and extend within the dual system (two systems of thought) framework that has proven so useful in recent thinking and reasoning research. As I note, there is in my view essentially complete overlap between philosophy, in the strict sense of the enduring questions that concern the academic discipline, and the descriptive psychology of higher order thought (behavior). Once one has grasped Wittgenstein’s insight that there is only the issue of how the language game is to be played, one determines the Conditions of Satisfaction (what makes a statement true or satisfied etc.) and that is the end of the discussion. No neurophysiology, no metaphysics, no postmodernism, no theology. -/- It is my contention that the table of intentionality (rationality, mind, thought, language, personality etc.) that features prominently here describes more or less accurately, or at least serves as an heuristic for, how we think and behave, and so it encompasses not merely philosophy and psychology, but everything else (history, literature, mathematics, politics etc.). Note especially that intentionality and rationality as I (along with Searle, Wittgenstein and others) view it, includes both conscious deliberative System 2 and unconscious automated System 1 actions or reflexes. -/- The next section describes the digital delusions, which confuse the language games of System 2 with the automatisms of System one, and so cannot distinguish biological machines (i.e., people) from other kinds of machines (i.e., computers). The ‘reductionist’ claim is that one can ‘explain’ behavior at a ‘lower’ level, but what actually happens is that one does not explain human behavior but a ‘stand in’ for it. Hence the title of Searle’s classic review of Dennett’s book (“Consciousness Explained”)— “Consciousness Explained Away”. In most contexts ‘reduction’ of higher level emergent behavior to brain functions, biochemistry, or physics is incoherent. Even for ‘reduction’ of chemistry or physics, the path is blocked by chaos and uncertainty. Anything can be ‘represented’ by equations, but when they ‘represent’ higher order behavior, it is not clear (and cannot be made clear) what the ‘results’ mean. Reductionist metaphysics is a joke, but most scientists and philosophers lack the appropriate sense of humor. -/- The last section describes The One Big Happy Family Delusion, i.e., that we are selected for cooperation with everyone, and that the euphonious ideals of Democracy, Diversity and Equality will lead us into utopia, if we just manage things correctly (the possibility of politics). Again, the No Free Lunch Principle ought to warn us it cannot be true, and we see throughout history and all over the contemporary world, that without strict controls, selfishness and stupidity gain the upper hand and soon destroy any nation that embraces these delusions. In addition, the monkey mind steeply discounts the future, and so we cooperate in selling our descendant’s heritage for temporary comforts, greatly exacerbating the problems. The only major change in this edition is the addition in the last article of a short discussion of China, a threat to peace and freedom as great as overpopulation and climate change and one to which even most professional scholars and politicians are oblivious so I regarded it as sufficiently important to warrant a new edition. -/- I describe versions of this delusion (i.e., that we are basically ‘friendly’ if just given a chance) as it appears in some recent books on sociology/biology/economics. Even Sapolsky’s otherwise excellent “Behave”(2017) embraces leftist politics and group selection and gives space to a discussion of whether humans are innately violent. I end with an essay on the great tragedy playing out in America and the world, which can be seen as a direct result of our evolved psychology manifested as the inexorable machinations of System 1. Our psychology, eminently adaptive and eugenic on the plains of Africa from ca. 6 million years ago, when we split from chimpanzees, to ca. 50,000 years ago, when many of our ancestors left Africa (i.e., in the EEA or Environment of Evolutionary Adaptation), is now maladaptive and dysgenic and the source of our Suicidal Utopian Delusions. So, like all discussions of behavior (philosophy, psychology, sociology, biology, anthropology, politics, law, literature, history, economics, soccer strategies, business meetings, etc.), this book is about evolutionary strategies, selfish genes and inclusive fitness (kin selection, natural selection). -/- The great mystic Osho said that the separation of God and Heaven from Earth and Humankind was the most evil idea that ever entered the Human mind. In the 20th century an even more evil notion arose, or at least became popular with leftists—that humans are born with rights, rather than having to earn privileges. The idea of human rights is an evil fantasy created by leftists to draw attention away from the merciless destruction of the earth by unrestrained 3rd world motherhood. Thus, every day the population increases by 200,000, who must be provided with resources to grow and space to live, and who soon produce another 200,000 etc. And one almost never hears it noted that what they receive must be taken from those already alive, and their descendants. Their lives diminish those already here in both major obvious and countless subtle ways. Every new baby destroys the earth from the moment of conception. In a horrifically overcrowded world with vanishing resources, there cannot be human rights without destroying the earth and our descendant’s futures. It could not be more obvious, but it is rarely mentioned in a clear and direct way, and one will never see the streets full of protesters against motherhood. -/- The most basic facts, almost never mentioned, are that there are not enough resources in America or the world to lift a significant percentage of the poor out of poverty and keep them there. Even the attempt to do this is already bankrupting America and destroying the world. The earth’s capacity to produce food decreases daily, as does our genetic quality. And now, as always, by far the greatest enemy of the poor is other poor and not the rich. -/- America and the world are in the process of collapse from excessive population growth, most of it for the last century, and now all of it, due to 3rd world people. Consumption of resources and the addition of 4 billion more ca. 2100 will collapse industrial civilization and bring about starvation, disease, violence and war on a staggering scale. The earth loses about 2% of its topsoil every year, so as it nears 2100, most of its food growing capacity will be gone. Billions will die and nuclear war is all but certain. In America, this is being hugely accelerated by massive immigration and immigrant reproduction, combined with abuses made possible by democracy. Depraved human nature inexorably turns the dream of democracy and diversity into a nightmare of crime and poverty. China will continue to overwhelm America and the world, as long as it maintains the dictatorship which limits selfishness. The root cause of collapse is the inability of our innate psychology to adapt to the modern world, which leads people to treat unrelated persons as though they had common interests (which I suggest may be regarded as an unrecognized -- but the commonest and most serious-- psychological problem -- Inclusive Fitness Disorder). This, plus ignorance of basic biology and psychology, leads to the social engineering delusions of the partially educated who control democratic societies. Few understand that if you help one person you harm someone else—there is no free lunch and every single item anyone consumes destroys the earth beyond repair. Consequently, social policies everywhere are unsustainable and one by one all societies without stringent controls on selfishness will collapse into anarchy or dictatorship. Without dramatic and immediate changes, there is no hope for preventing the collapse of America, or any country that follows a democratic system. Hence my concluding essay “Suicide by Democracy”. -/- Those wishing to read my other writings may see Talking Monkeys 2nd ed (2019), The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle 2nd ed (2019), Suicide by Democracy 3rd ed (2019), The Logical Stucture of Human Behavior (2019) and Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century 4th ed (2019) . (shrink)
Contemporary natural-language semantics began with the assumption that the meaning of a sentence could be modeled by a single truth condition, or by an entity with a truth-condition. But with the recent explosion of dynamic semantics and pragmatics and of work on non- truth-conditional dimensions of linguistic meaning, we are now in the midst of a shift away from a truth-condition-centric view and toward the idea that a sentence’s meaning must be spelled out in terms of its various roles (...) in conversation. This communicative turn in semantics raises historical questions: Why was truth-conditional semantics dominant in the first place, and why were the phenomena now driving the communicative turn initially ignored or misunderstood by truth-conditional semanticists? I offer a historical answer to both questions. The history of natural-language semantics—springing from the work of Donald Davidson and Richard Montague—began with a methodological toolkit that Frege, Tarski, Carnap, and others had created to better understand artificial languages. For them, the study of linguistic meaning was subservient to other explanatory goals in logic, philosophy, and the foundations of mathematics, and this subservience was reflected in the fact that they idealized away from all aspects of meaning that get in the way of a one-to-one correspondence between sentences and truth-conditions. The truth-conditional beginnings of natural- language semantics are best explained by the fact that, upon turning their attention to the empirical study of natural language, Davidson and Montague adopted the methodological toolkit assembled by Frege, Tarski, and Carnap and, along with it, their idealization away from non-truth-conditional semantic phenomena. But this pivot in explana- tory priorities toward natural language itself rendered the adoption of the truth-conditional idealization inappropriate. Lifting the truth-conditional idealization has forced semanticists to upend the conception of linguistic meaning that was originally embodied in their methodology. (shrink)
Descartes' philosophy contains an intriguing notion of the infinite, a concept labeled by the philosopher as indefinite. Even though Descartes clearly defined this term on several occasions in the correspondence with his contemporaries, as well as in his Principles of Philosophy, numerous problems about its meaning have arisen over the years. Most commentators reject the view that the indefinite could mean a real thing and, instead, identify it with an Aristotelian potential infinite. In the first part of this (...) article, I show why there is no numerical infinity in Cartesian mathematics, as such a concept would be inconsistent with the main fundamental attribute of numbers: to be comparable with each other. In the second part, I analyze the indefinite in the context of Descartes' mathematical physics. It is my contention that, even with no trace of infinite in his mathematics, Descartes does refer to an actual indefinite because of its application to the material world within the system of his physics. This fact underlines a discrepancy between his mathematics and physics of the infinite, but does not lead a difficulty in his mathematical physics. Thus, in Descartes' physics, the indefinite refers to an actual dimension of the world rather than to an Aristotelian mathematical potential infinity. In fact, Descartes establishes the reality and limitlessness of the extension of the cosmos and, by extension, the actual nature of his indefinite world. This indefinite has a physical dimension, even if it is not measurable. La filosofía de Descartes contiene una noción intrigante de lo infinito, un concepto nombrado por el filósofo como indefinido. Aunque en varias ocasiones Descartes definió claramente este término en su correspondencia con sus contemporáneos y en sus Principios de filosofía, han surgido muchos problemas acerca de su significado a lo largo de los años. La mayoría de comentaristas rechaza la idea de que indefinido podría significar una cosa real y, en cambio, la identifica con un infinito potencial aristotélico. En la primera parte de este artículo muestro por qué no hay infinito numérico en las matemáticas cartesianas, en la medida en que tal concepto sería inconsistente con el principal atributo fundamental de los números: ser comparables entre sí. En la segunda parte analizo lo indefinido en el contexto de la física matemática de Descartes. Mi argumento es que, aunque no hay rastro de infinito en sus matemáticas, Descartes se refiere a un indefinido real a causa de sus aplicaciones al mundo material dentro del sistema de su física. Este hecho subraya una discrepancia entre sus matemáticas y su física de lo infinito, pero no implica ninguna dificultad en su física matemática. Así pues, en la física de Descartes, lo indefinido se refiere a una dimensión real del mundo más que a una infinitud potencial matemática aristotélica. De hecho, Descartes establece la realidad e infinitud de la extensión del cosmos y, por extensión, la naturaleza real de su mundo indefinido. Esta indefinición tiene una dimensión física aunque no sea medible. (shrink)
This article analyzes the epistemological legitimation of mathematics in naturalphilosophy in the seventeenth century. In the Renaissance it was claimed that mathematics does not meet the Aristotelian criteria of scientificity, and that it did not explain the efficient and final causes. So, its critics, inspired by the Aristotelian tradition, rejected the first attempts to mathematize naturalphilosophy. The epistemological conditions involved in the debate are examined on the scientific nature of mathematics and its relevance to (...)naturalphilosophy. A historiographical tour of the mathematization of nature is made to provide new weighing elements with respect to a historically and philosophically more conceptual characterization of the emergence of modern science. (shrink)
The mathematical constructions, physical structure and manifestations of physical time are reviewed. The nature of insight and mathematics used to understand and deal with physical time associated with classical, quantum and cosmic processes is contemplated together with a comprehensive understanding of classical time. Scalar time (explicit time or quantitative time), vector time (implicit time or qualitative time), biological time, time of and in conscious awareness are discussed. The mathematical understanding of time in special and general theories of relativity (...) is critically analyzed. The independent nature of classical, quantum and cosmic physical times from one another, and the manifestations of respective physical happenings, distinct from universal time, are highlighted. The role of a universal time related or unrelated to origin, being etc., of universe or cosmos as common thread in all happenings is reviewed. The missing of time is identified and concept of absence of time is put forward. The complex nature of time and the real and imaginary dimensions of physical time are also elaborately discussed together with human time- consciousness as past, present and future. (shrink)
The explanation of nature in theoretical terms was first postulated and initiated by Ancient Greek philosophers. With the rise of monotheistic religions, however, curiosity about our transient world was widely regarded as contributing nothing to salvation. There was a decline in naturalphilosophy, which lasted for several centuries and was then reversed both in Islamic philosophy and in Christian theology in the Middle Ages. At this point, the "Book of Nature" was recognized as a complement to the (...) Book of Revelation. Originally, Aristotelian philosophy played the leading part in this process, but only after Aristotelian physics was substituted by experimental mathematical mechanics did it become possible for modern science to develop. General laws of physics form the basis of the explanation of events in space and time, including life processes. However, modern science has also revealed its own limitations. The scope and limits of scientific knowledge allows for different philosophical, cultural and religious interpretations of human beings and the universe. The history of science demonstrates erratic and persistent developments, but the long-term retrospective view discredits extreme forms of relativism and structuralism. Science appears as a construct of the human mind, and yet it is capable of generating valid explanations of nature. In the book more attention than usual is given to Cusanus (Nikolas de Cusa). -/- . (shrink)
Attempts to ‘naturalize’ phenomenology challenge both traditional phenomenology and traditional approaches to cognitive science. They challenge Edmund Husserl’s rejection of naturalism and his attempt to establish phenomenology as a foundational transcendental discipline, and they challenge efforts to explain cognition through mainstream science. While appearing to be a retreat from the bold claims made for phenomenology, it is really its triumph. Naturalized phenomenology is spearheading a successful challenge to the heritage of Cartesian dualism. This converges with the reaction against Cartesian thought (...) within science itself. Descartes divided the universe between res cogitans, thinking substances, and res extensa, the mechanical world. The latter won with Newton and we have, in most of objective science since, literally lost our mind, hence our humanity. Despite Darwin, biologists remain children of Newton, and dream of a grand theory that is epistemologically complete and would allow lawful entailment of the evolution of the biosphere. This dream is no longer tenable. We now have to recognize that science and scientists are within and part of the world we are striving to comprehend, as proponents of endophysics have argued, and that physics, biology and mathematics have to be reconceived accordingly. Interpreting quantum mechanics from this perspective is shown to both illuminate conscious experience and reveal new paths for its further development. In biology we must now justify the use of the word “function”. As we shall see, we cannot prestate the ever new biological functions that arise and constitute the very phase space of evolution. Hence, we cannot mathematize the detailed becoming of the biosphere, nor write differential equations for functional variables we do not know ahead of time, nor integrate those equations, so no laws “entail” evolution. The dream of a grand theory fails. In place of entailing laws, a post-entailing law explanatory framework is proposed in which Actuals arise in evolution that constitute new boundary conditions that are enabling constraints that create new, typically unprestatable, Adjacent Possible opportunities for further evolution, in which new Actuals arise, in a persistent becoming. Evolution flows into a typically unprestatable succession of Adjacent Possibles. Given the concept of function, the concept of functional closure of an organism making a living in its world, becomes central. Implications for patterns in evolution include historical reconstruction, and statistical laws such as the distribution of extinction events, or species per genus, and the use of formal cause, not efficient cause, laws. (shrink)
Create an account to enable off-campus access through your institution's proxy server.
Monitor this page
Be alerted of all new items appearing on this page. Choose how you want to monitor it:
Email
RSS feed
About us
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.