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

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:39:42 +0000 (UTC)

>God would never create a world that is not the best of all possible worlds.
God created this 
world.____________________________________________________Ergo, this world is 
the best of all possible worlds.>
Yes, that seems logically sound to me.
Dnl

 

     On Tuesday, 24 February 2015, 18:03, Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx> 
wrote:
   

 Leibnitz's argument seems to be:
God would never create a world that is not the best of all possible worlds.
God created this 
world.____________________________________________________Ergo, this world is 
the best of all possible worlds.
The conclusion seems to follow from the premises. Thus, if one rejects the 
conclusion, one needs to reject either the existence or the benevolence of God.
O.K.

On Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 5:14 PM, Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

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. 

DnlLdn

  
 

     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 best2.    Deny that goodness is anywhere, henceall worlds are equally 
bad or good since such moral predicates do not apply to any one of the possible 
world3.    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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