[lit-ideas] Re: Understanding Why Newton Contributed To Human Knowledge With A False Theory

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2007 12:33:53 +0000 (GMT)

There is much homework for me to do in this thread, particularly in exploring
why logic and maths might themselves be fallible. I should still perhaps say,
even at this stage, that Popper's phil. of maths and logic is not the same as
Lakatos' in 'Proof and Refutations' or Lakatos subsequently. Meantime..

--- Andreas Ramos <andreas@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>  Most of our knowledge is depersonalized and externalized information.

It might be clearer to distinguish knowledge qua 'objective knowledge' from
'knowing' as a subjective state. Ie. 'Knowledge' at its World 3 'objective'
level from 'knowledge' at its World 2 'subjective' level. 

In fact, one of the uses of Popper's 'three-worlds' approach (which we find
foreshadowed in Frege und 'das dritte Reich') is that we can consider a term
like 'knowledge' in its W3, W2 and W1 separate forms; and avoid the kinds of
confusions that may arise when we use the term 'knowledge' without
recognising that we have moved between these 'forms' and thus changed the
substance of the meaning. Whether we agree or disagree that there is a W3-1
etc. the terminology is useful in marking important possible distinctions
that are not marked by the use of the terms 'knowing' and 'knowledge' per se.

I am reluctant to give a hostage to fortune but I think that, depending what
we mean of course, "most of our knowledge is depersonalized and externalized
information," as Popper sees it anyway.

Even our in-built knowledge is "depersonalized and externalized" in the
important sense that it is derived from an "externalized" process called
'evolution' and not from anything much to do with us as a person - though of
course it affects us as person. For examples of in-built knowledge consider
everything from a new-born seeking its mother's breast, or learning a
'language', to a tree that in a drought spreads its roots to tap into further
and deeper sources of water [if possible].

On Popper's conception humans, yes, are _selves_ - but as selves they are
also processes rather than substances. [To seek a substance to the 'self'
Popper feels, I think, is to go down the wrong road; equally the kind of
Humean arguments against the self are only arguments against the self qua
'substance' and not arguments against the self per se; Popper defends the
'self' on partly evolutionary grounds and partly because a large part of the
evolution of human knowledge and culture cannot be otherwise well
understood]. 'Selves' are processes that interact with other physical and
mental and 'objective knowledge' processes. Including processes that are
themselves the products of the activity of other selves. 


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