[lit-ideas] Re: The Multiplicity of World

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 9 Jul 2011 14:49:18 +0100 (BST)

--- On Fri, 8/7/11, Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx> wrote:


>We are discussing what makes
 
doh-dah-dah-dah dah-dah-dah-dah dah-daah-daah-dah
 
the "Derry air">

That first bit was made into a song by The Police, surely? 


> McEvoy uses 'metaphysically' rather otiosely.

The term 'metaphysical' emphasises that it is not something testable by 
observation whether our "perception of music" involves - in addition to the 
physical elements whose physical presence may be tested by observation - World 
3 content embodied in the physical sound, or even 'mental content' that is not 
merely physical brain states. If this goes without saying, very well. But it 
also serves to emphasise that the denial that there is anything more going on 
here than the physics of it all, is equally metaphysical. This seems worth 
remembering.
snip
 
>This trades on subjectivity, dangerously.

How so? (JLS' subsequent remarks leave the answer unclear). From Popper's POV 
our sensory and cognitive apparatus is 'subjective' in that it will inevitably 
reflect characteristics of ourselves as a particular kind of organism - but 
this 'subjectivity', though ineradicable, does not prevent us having knowledge 
in an 'objective' sense. What we cannot do is establish knowledge as 
'objective' in Popper's sense by finding some firm 'objective' basis in 
'subjective' knowledge: what we have to do is try to take knowledge, which may 
hitherto be in some 'subjective' form, and regard it 'objectively', including 
formulate it as a theory that may be 'objectively' tested or criticised.

Anyone who understands Popper's way of looking at things will know that when he 
speaks of 'objective knowledge' he is not speaking of it the way we might 
understand someone who claims their knowledge of x is "completely objective", 
where they mean it is free from any bias or even selective POV but comes from 
some God-like independent overview of x. All human and animal knowledge (i.e. 
all knowledge we know of) is from a selective POV, just as all theories (no 
matter how true) are selective. But this kind of unavoidable selectivity, and 
the ineradicable 'subjectivity' it may reflect, does not mean there is no such 
thing as knowledge in the 'objective' sense - something Popper tries to explain 
in, say, his book "Objective Knowledge".

snip
 
>McEvoy:
 
"As indicated above, even the "perception of the performance" may involve  
physical as well as mental events, and also World 3 'content' as the object 
that  is grasped by World 2. It is not all one 'level'".
 
I see. The paradox, for Popper, is that he cannot give ONE example of an  
item of world III that is not 'realised' in world I.>

Well, it's not a paradox in any necessarily very problematic sense. Compare the 
claim (which I suggest is true) "Humans have World 2 or mental states whose 
content is not linguistically formulated". Is this disproved by the demand 
"Well, state one such content?" Clearly no example can be given without being 
linguistically formulated and, as such, it would never be an example of 
something not linguistically formulated. This would not make the claim false or 
paradoxical: rather the demand "State one such content?" is a kind of trap.

Compare a demand of Alan Turing: that if humans are not merely sophisticated 
machines, then specify some behaviour by them that could not be replicated by a 
machine? This demand is a trap: for by specifying such behaviour we are 
specifying something that in principle could be replicated by a machine 
_perhaps even to whatever degree of specification we can give_. But this would 
not show we are machines - only that our specific behaviours could be, in 
principle, replicated by machines provided we assume machines can be built to 
any degree of specification. 


>McEvoy quotes my:
 
"I follow you there. I agree that if music is psychological, and has  some 
'substance' at the World II level, it should be reduced to a World  I  
level."
 
and comments:

"Am I right in thinking this should conclude, "it should _not_ be  reduced 
to a World I level"? Otherwise I'm at a loss to how you are  agreeing."
 
---- I thought, and I may quote you, that you were saying that the  
realisation in World I is a sine qua non. An item in world II must be realised  
in 
world I, and an item in world III must be realised in world II, and  
consequently (transitively) in world I.>

No. By referring to a W3.3 object [i.e. something with W3 content that may 
exist without ever having been embodied in World 1 or thought in World 2] 
Popper is clear than items in W3 need not be "realised" in W2 or W1.

Likewise, he asserts there are items in W2 that may not be "realised" in W1 
_depending what we mean by "realised"_. He would accept that for every W2 
mental state there is some corresponding W1 brain state in some sense, but it 
is not therefore that the W2 state is "realised" in W1 in the sense of 
'identical' with some physical W1 brain state. 

To speak of something being "realised" or not by something else, is here quite 
a vague way of speaking. We may accept that there are no thoughts without 
brains 'having those thoughts' without accepting that thoughts have no autonomy 
or downward causal effects on brain-states: an autonomy and downward causal 
efficacy that Popper would say is a minimum requirement if humans are to have 
genuine freedom and rationality.

What the numbering 12&3 does reflect is an evolutionary order of the worlds: 
World 2 emerged from World 1 and World 3 emerged from World 2. In this sense, 
the existence of World 1 is a sine qua non of the existence of the other 
worlds. But this leaves open key questions like whether what emerges has 
autonomy and downward causal affect on what it emerged from [as we might say a 
child has autonomy from and causal affect on its parent, even though the 
existence of the parent is a sine qua non of the existence of the child].

It might help to read Popper's work. For example, it is clear from reading it, 
that it is false to equate World 3 with Hegel as here:-

>--- The third world being the 'objectification' of spirit alla Hegel.  
Note that it's not 'social' level, alla Comte.> 

World 3 is not put forward by Popper as a "spiritual" realm. The W3 existence 
of a 'prime number', once a sequence of natural numbers is invented, is not a 
spiritual existence, or even a ghostly one: it is, as it were, a logical 
consequence that exists even though not as yet 'thought' or embodied. It is 
really no more "spiritual" than gravity is compared to matter.
 
Donal
London

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