[lit-ideas] Re: Mit mir nur rat ich, red ich zu dir

  • From: Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2015 17:14:19 +0100

A truly metaphysical claim would be unfalsifiable by empirical observation,
yes. In practice though it seems that people frequently invoke emprical
observation to try to support or refute metaphysical claims. I was also
considering the term 'refutable' as distinct from (though somewhat
analogous to) Popper's falsifiable. Perhaps we should consider what might
refute Leibnitz's claim. In broadest terms, what kind of argument would
compell us to assign a truth value to it ? That is what I was getting at,
the exact term 'falsifiable' and the exact way it is used by Popper are not
essential.

O.K.

On Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 4:55 PM, Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
wrote:

> >It hasn't been claimed, on my part, that all metaphysical statements are
> unfalsifiable.>
>
> Whereas Popper does claim this. It is part of his 'demarcation criterion'
> between science and metaphysics: it amounts to saying that metaphysical
> statements are distinct from empirical/scientific statements and that the
> difference lies in whether they are falsifiable by 'observation'.
>
> This claim leaves open that metaphysical statements may be 'falsifiable'
> in some other sense. To take two examples: "Das Nicht nichtet", if
> interpreted to mean "Das Nicht immer nichtet", would be falsified by a
> "Nicht" that failed to "nichtet"; the claim "This is the best of all
> possible worlds" would be falsified by a possible world that is better than
> this one. But we have to ask whether these counterexamples are 'observable'
> in a scientific sense: it seems highly unlikely - neither the "Nicht" nor
> its "nichet" is observable in scientific terms, and nor is the quality of
> something being "better".
>
> >There is a logical and practical difference between 'some' and 'all.'
> Among those some that are unfalsifiable we find "Das Nicht nichtet," which
> on a charitable reading turns out to be tautological and hence irrefutable,
> and "There are natural laws" which is a positive existential statement and
> hence unfalsifiable.>
>
> If H defends his "Nichtet" thesis by way of analytic or definitional
> argument that renders the claim tautological, then it is irrefutable; but
> as a tautology [like "All tables are tables"] it is without substantive
> interest - including metaphysical interest. If defended as a substantive
> claim, it may be falsifiable in some sense [as indicated above] but still
> metaphysical because not falsifiable by observation. That it is
> unfalsifiable by observation is a logical weakness.
>
> The example "There are natural laws" would parallel "Das Nicht nichtet" if
> the latter is taken to mean "There exists a "Nicht" that on at least one
> occasion "nichtet"" [for this would be a positive existential statement
> akin to "There exists at least one natural law"]. It is doubtful H intended
> his "Nicht" thesis to amount merely to a positive existential statement of
> this sort.
>
> >Leibnitz's claim that the existing world is the best of all possible
> worlds *may* be falsifiable or refutable but presumably this cannot be done
> by exposing the evil in the world, as Voltaire does in Candide, because
> these are empirical and not metaphysical observations. It is not clear
> though what is meant by "the best" and whether this is not too subjective
> an evaluation to be refuted.>
>
> Much depends on how we might unpack the "best of all possible worlds"
> claim - for example, within what time-scale we judge a world [e.g. the rise
> of Nazism might seem to obviously refute the 1930s-40s being the "best of
> all possible worlds", unless, that is, the rise of Nazism at that point was
> necessary to ward off the greater evil of a later World War involving
> totalitarian regimes where they had nuclear weapons etc.] But even this
> kind of "time-scale" defence weakens the claim so that it means something
> like 'in the overall scheme of things everything now that is less than best
> is part of a process necessary for everything to work out for the best' -
> again not obviously falsifiable and more like an optimistic promise with a
> false ring to it.
>
> These examples show the usefulness of Popper's demarcation criterion
> rather than offering anything significant that undermines its usefulness as
> a logical tool.
>
> Dnl
> Ldn
>
>
>
>
>   On Tuesday, 24 February 2015, 10:01, Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
> wrote:
>
>
> If a different world came into existence, Leibnitz could say one of the
> following:
>
> a. Either the new world is no better than the old one
>
> b. Or, if the betterness of the new world is overwhelming, he could say
> that this world has now become possible and previously wasn't possible. It
> is now this world that is "the best of all possible worlds."
>
> Either way, he hasn't been refuted.
>
> O.K.
>
> On Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 10:33 AM, Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>
>  The same argument applies the form.
> Such considerations can’t be held against my view since ain’t mine.
> best
>
> *From:* lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:
> lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] *On Behalf Of *Omar Kusturica
> *Sent:* 24 February 2015 11:14
> *To:* lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> *Subject:* [lit-ideas] Re: Mit mir nur rat ich, red ich zu dir
>
>  Leibnitz does not say that this world is the only possible world but
> that it is "the best of all possible worlds." Hence the claim is not
> refuted by showing that other worlds are possible. On the other hand, he
> also does not say that it is the best of all imaginable worlds, hence he is
> not refuted by showing that better worlds can be imagined.
>
>  O.K.
>
>  On Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 9:50 AM, Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
> wrote:
>  It hasn't been claimed, on my part, that all metaphysical statements are
> unfalsifiable. There is a logical and practical difference between 'some'
> and 'all.' Among those some that are unfalsifiable we find "Das Nicht
> nichtet," which on a charitable reading turns out to be tautological and
> hence irrefutable, and "There are natural laws" which is a positive
> existential statement and hence unfalsifiable.
>
>  Leibnitz's claim that the existing world is the best of all possible
> worlds *may* be falsifiable or refutable but presumably this cannot be done
> by exposing the evil in the world, as Voltaire does in Candide, because
> these are empirical and not metaphysical observations. It is not clear
> though what is meant by "the best" and whether this is not too subjective
> an evaluation to be refuted.
>
>  O.K.
>
>  On Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 9:26 AM, Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>  Two claims were made to the effect that metaphysical statements are
> “useless”, “senseless”, or according to some “non falsifiable”, the
> silliest ones are those who claim that there is some “violation” of maxims,
> grammars and assorted junk.
> So, consider an easy case, which arguably is beyond doubt metaphysical.
> Leibniz claimed, actually, twice, that the actual world is the best of any
> particular other one and of the totality of possible worlds not severally
> taken.
> (you have traces in monadology and in the version of theocidees)
> Now can this be falsified? I fail to see why not. In fact there are two
> wasy.
> 1.     Is historical, namely take a time slice of actuality, fix one
> parameter of what you take improvement and you get an order of goodness
> out of it, hence the actual world or wold slice is not the best
> 2.     Deny that goodness is anywhere, hence *all* worlds are equally bad
> or good since such moral predicates do not apply to any one of the possible
> world
> 3.     The cheap shot approach (Candide): there is Heidegger,
> earthquakes, hitler, lady gaga hence there can be a world devoid of
> Heidegger, lady gaga since it is not inconsistent to eliminate
> buttmann/Heidegger, his wife, his children, lady gaga, his students,
> imbecils assorted und so weiter. Hence the actual is not the best, we can
> have betterments.
>
>
> We have both truth conditions and possible refutations.
> Now immediately will be told that the “best of all” is not a metaphysical
> statement, there you’ll see immediately the deep profound mental bankruptcy
> of these so called theories with “language maxims” “criteria of
> rationality” and similar anglo teutonic junk.
>
> *From:* lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:
> lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] *On Behalf Of *Omar Kusturica
> *Sent:* 24 February 2015 10:08
> *To:* lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> *Subject:* [lit-ideas] Re: Reading Heidegger
>
>  See you soon.
>
>  Omar
>
>  On Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 6:33 PM, <cblists@xxxxxxxx> wrote:
>
> One of the best things that I have read about Heidegger's 'obscurity' is
> the following:
>
> "Then again, there is the matter of Heidegger's famous 'obscurity', which
> would seem to require that special comment be made upon him.  A great deal
> of this 'obscurity' is a matter of translation, and disappears when
> Heidegger is read in German.  To be sure, his German is at times a very
> highly individualized vehicle of expression: Heidegger does coin his own
> terms when he has to, and usually these are coinings that stick very close
> to the etymological roots of German.  Heidegger thinks very much within the
> matrix of the German language, and his expressions hugs the particularity
> of this language to its bosom.  All of this makes for difficulty in
> translation . . . .  [I]f we compare Heidegger with two classical German
> philosophers, like Kant or Hegel, his sentences are remarkably compact and
> incisive, his expression notably terse.  Very often, in reading Hegel, we
> get the feeling . . . that the philosopher is deliberately willing to be
> obscure.  One never gets this impression from Heidegger: he is struggling
> to communicate, and his command of his own means of communication is
> powerful and impressive.  The difficulty comes, rather, from the obscurity
> of the matter with which Heidegger is grappling.
>
> "That there are obscure matters at all in our experience is a contention
> that rubs against the prejudice of some positivistic philosophers that
> whatever cannot be said clearly and distinctly cannot be said at all and
> the effort to say it can only result in 'meaningless' verbalism.  Every
> philosopher, in this view, ought to be able to express himself with the
> simple-minded clarity of, say, Bertrand Russell.  and if the philosopher
> does not do this, it is a clear sign of intellectual incompetence.  All
> this, of course, is oversimplified psychologizing.  A philosopher may be
> quite capable of mastering one or the other of the clear and distinct
> dialects of philosophy and bouncing the ball of dialectic deftly back and
> forth across the net; but he may be drawn by other subject matters into
> following a quite different path in philosophy.  From the point of view of
> a philosopher like Heidegger there are parts of our experience that
> ordinary language finds itself hard put to express, if it can express these
> matters at all; indeed, this ordinary language seems to have been formed
> out a kind of conspiracy to cover over or forget these parts of experience
> altogether."
>
> - William Barrett in his introduction to the 'Phenomenology and
> Existentialism' section of William Barrett and Henry D. Aiken, eds.,
> _Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: An Anthology_, (New York: Random
> House, 1962); Vol. 3, pp. 152-3.
>
> I can attest to Barrett's claims about reading Heidegger 'in the
> original', and indeed would go farther than he does. I do not claim that
> one cannot come to some understanding of Heidegger's thought, or critique
> his views in interesting and insightful ways, without reading him in
> German.  But I will say categorically and unequivocally: if you have not
> read Heidegger in German, you have not read Heidegger.
>
> - Chris Bruce
> Kiel, Germany
> --
>
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