[lit-ideas] Re: ...the collapse of distinctions is rhetoric, but whose?

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 1 Oct 2014 06:35:03 +0100

Popper's theory of World 3 (which some might regard as simply as modification 
or adaptation of Frege's "Dritte Reich") - or some such theory - can throw some 
light on these questions.


">> One can think about Euler's theorem by means of ink marks (it 
is done everywhere everywhen) it doesn't follow the theorem is ink marks or 
even is about ink marks."

In so far as "ink marks" are World 1 physical marks then we may say the World 3 
content of Euler's theorem is neither any World 1 "ink marks" that might be 
used to express that theorem, nor is it about those W1 "ink marks" (or indeed 
"about" W1 at all). 

"What is 
Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony? Since Dmitri often composed on paper, 
directly into an orchestral score, without even a piano, is the Tenth 
Symphony the score, a performance of it, or the process of composing it?
 Or is it what an individual auditor hears? Is it a harmonic analysis of
 the Tenth?"

This is a more complex question on which Popper wants to distinguish the Tenth 
as a W3.3 object from any attempt to embody this object by W1 means - say by 
reducing it to a "score" or by performance (including recorded performance) - 
or any attempt to grasp this object in W2 terms (including DSH's own attempts 
while composing): that is, the Tenth has a status as a W3.3 object that 
transcends both its encodement in W1 and its grasp in W2 [i.e. the Tenth as 
W3.3 object > the Tenth as W3.2 or W3.1 content]. A similar argument applies to 
other kinds of artistic object, like The Tempest. 

For Popper this argument applies at a very early stage in artistic creation - 
the caveman who applies paint to a wall with the purpose of drawing is working 
with an "object" that transcends both his primitive W1 marks and his W2 
understanding. It is even conceivable that a W3 "object" might be 'discovered 
by accident' as where a caveman conceives physical patterns (even shadows) in a 
cave as resembling animals, and with this discovery sets out to model such 
natural patterns by using W1 objects like clay or paints. (In this last case, 
the natural patterns do not themselves encode W3 content but encode W1 content 
from which the human W2 mind may 'derive' W3 content by an act of imaginative 

The pov that there are objects with a W3 status, and even a W3.3 status, is 
perhaps easier to understand first for "objects" or intellectual products such 
as Einstein's theories or Euler's theorem - for these may have W3.3 content 
that is there to be discovered years after the theory or theorem was initially 
put forward, and this content may far transcend the W2 grasp of those who 
initially put forward and understood the theory and also far transcend what has 
been initially encoded in W1 as to the content of that theory. This W3.3 depth 
to the "objects" may be be shown by following the on-going critical discussions 
of these "objects", their consequences and their relation to other W3 "objects".

In Popper's view all this is much less a question of definitions than a series 
of questions of a substantive metaphysical character - questions that lie at 
the heart of why Popper suggests we need to replace traditional Western 
epistemology, which fixates on "knowledge" in a "subjective" sense focused on 
the "knowing subject" [as per 'JTB theory'], with a theory of "objective 
knowledge" that includes "knowledge" without a "knowing subject".


On Tuesday, 30 September 2014, 22:51, Eric <mr.eric.yost@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

>>As for the question posed by "eric" the symphony si the symphony, which 
>>ontology eric likes is utterly irrelevant, if eric think it is identical with 
>>a performance that is one of the possible choices, that, to reiterate, makes 
>>no difference to the truth of identity statements.

This seem to be the nub of our disagreement: the "truth of identity 
statements." In the example of the DS Tenth Symphony, I agree that my personal 
choice is irrelevant. However, the simultaneity of multiple true identity 
statements has not been addressed.

Cases in which, for example, the Schrödinger equation truly mean one thing, 
i.e., the Schrödinger equation IS a description of the form of probability 
waves for small particles--such cases--are a very small subset of identity 
statements, which if true are a sampling of eternal verities.

However, in everyday life, we encounter simultaneous multiple true identity 
statements. While not equations or any sort  of mathematical statements, these 
multiple true identity statements are part of the natural world, as real as an 
abstraction like Platonic solids, and candidates for philosophical discussion.

Additionally, there is no way to defend the meaning of one identity statement 
over another. If you think DS's Tenth is the score and I think it is any 
particular performance of the score, there is no way to prove one or the other 
is solely correct. 

Except by beginning with a consensual definition, a definition which carries an 
almost tautological argument for one identity or another. Perhaps I am 
exceptionally dense, but I do not understand the significance of discussing 
identities without definitions.


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