[Wittrs] Re: Syntax and Semantics of Rational Thinking

  • From: "SWM" <SWMirsky@xxxxxxx>
  • To: wittrsamr@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2010 01:40:22 -0000

--- In Wittrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Joseph Polanik <jPolanik@...> wrote:
> SWM wrote:

>  >Philosophy needn't be and, indeed, shouldn't be about endless
>  >argumentation geared to logical proofs and such. It needs to be
>  >descriptive and supportive of what is known or studied in other
>  >disciplines. That's why Wittgenstein's approach is so valuable. He
>  >showed how so much of what we once took for philosophy is confusion in
>  >the way we use our words.

> if so; then, we will benefit from the linguistic clarification of the
> material you've posted; for, it is increasingly apparent that your
> position is little more than a network of interlocking fallacies
> concealed within a quagmire of ambiguity produced by cranking out a
> cloud of verbiage using an idiosyncratic vocabulary.
> let us start with your bizarre claim that 'implies' can mean either
> 'logically entails a conclusion' or 'logically requires a presumption'
> because, ...

> "there is no difference between 'logically entails a conclusion' and
> 'logically requires a presumption'. The latter merely notes that there
> is a suppressed premise in the argument that enables the conclusion to
> be reached.

The premises in a valid argument logically imply the conclusion. Even a 
suppressed premise has the power of implication in that context or else it 
wouldn't matter whether it was there or not in order to reach the conclusion. 
That is, a suppressed premise is only that when it is integral to the 
conclusion the argument reaches.

> A suppressed premise, of course, is something that is
> unstated but which is included in the series of steps needed to reach
> the conclusion." [SWM: 2010-03-11 - 09:00 PM]

> most people have sense enough to say something like "the argument 'A
> implies B' presupposes proposition P" when they want to articulate the
> thought that the argument presupposes or depends on P as well as A to
> reach its conclusion, B.

I don't like it when you get obnoxious Joe which you seem to do from time to 
time. What is your problem?

Many people don't realize they are assuming additional premises to get to their 
conclusion which is why it becomes important to determine if there are such 
premises buried along the way. This, of course, is precisely what I have 
proposed has occurred in Searle's case with the CRA.

> 'A implies B' is written A -> B (where '->' or some symbol is the
> implication operator (aka material implication operator or entailment
> operator)).

> in translating statements that (allegedly) are semantically meaningful
> into logical forms that are syntactically correct, the statement 'if A
> then B' is translated into 'A implies B' and symbolized as 'A -> B'.

I do appreciate your logic lessons.

> thus, when you say that premise 1 of your own argument is "If you think
> consciousness cannot be broken down to non-conscious constituents, then
> you are a Cartesian Dualist", it'll be translated into something like
> 'Thinking that consciousness is not reducible to non-conscious
> constituents implies that the thinker is a Cartesian dualist' and
> symbolized as 'T -> C'.

> this leads to the bizarre (and obviously false) results.


> for example, non-reductive (N) physicalists affirm T above. therefore,
> by your logic, all non-reductive physicalists are interactive substance
> dualists --- a false conclusion.

There are many meanings to the terms we use including a word like "reduction". 
We can speak of reduction in terms of the capacity to restate something in a 
different language game, for instance, e.g., to deny we can speak intelligibly 
about human behavior and human thinking in terms of descriptions of physical 
processes for instance, or we can speak of reduction in the sense of restating 
something within the same language game (that of scientific description) but in 
terms of different levels of observation, operation and the like (e.g., 
explaining instances of human behavior and thought AS the outcomes of various 
physical processes).

It's not clear to me that "non-reductive physicalists" (whatever you mean by 
that term) are denying reduction to physical processes (which is what I am 
talking about) instead of just denying the possibility of converting talk about 
human actions to talk about physical phenomena (in brains, say) which is 
irrelevant to the point I am making generally or in that premise. Nevertheless, 
based on what I have said in that premise, it's fair to conclude that I would 
say of anyone, no matter how he or she styled him or herself, that if they 
think that consciousness is not reducible (in a causally descriptive way) to 
non-conscious constituents then they would be Cartesian dualists. After all, 
that IS the claim I have made.

You may wish to dispute the truth of that first premise, of course, and we can 
engage in a debate about that if you like, but note that my argument (the one 
you are now referencing) was offered to demonstrate that the argument YOU 
imputed to Dennett and/or to me was not the one either of us had actually made 
(that is, Dennett hadn't made it in terms of that text I had transcribed onto 
this list and I hadn't made it in these discussions). So arguing the truth or 
falsity of my conclusions (or any of the premises) in that argument is a 
different question -- which I'm prepared to take up, of course.

But just be aware that you have kind of jumped the track here in arguing about 
the truth of the claim rather than whether it contains, as you previously 
claimed re: the argument you mistakenly imputed to me, that it contains a 
fallacy. You are free, of course, to switch your tack but just don't try to 
confuse the issue or to conceal the switch you are making. Just be honest about 
it and we can move on.

> > "THAT is completely wrong. Premise 1 is about what it means to be > > a 
> > Cartesian dualist and nothing more than that. Many distinct
> > doctrines are possible but there are only three basic
> > possibilities:"
> if you want to say something about what Cartesian dualists believe, it'd
> be much clearer if you said 'C -> T'.

> the two statements 'T -> C' and 'C -> T' have very different logical
> properties. if you can't keep that straight you can't make a coherent
> case without suspending the normal rules of logic.

If you think T then you are a C.

If you are a C then you think T.

Notice that neither form implies that "Only those who think T are C" or "Only 
those who are C think T" which was the mistake you made in interpreting what I 
had said originally in ordinary language.

> should we construe all the verbiage you crank out as philosophy based on
> the presupposition that the normal rules of logic have been suspended so
> that you can prove that Searle is an interactive substance dualist?
> Joe

You haven't demonstrated that anything I've said subverts or requires the 
suspension of the "normal rules of logic". Note, however, that logic is 
grounded in language. It is not a separate phenomenon. The logic we have and 
study (in all its forms) consists of systems of notation developed to express 
language claims with reduced ambiguity. So language comes before logic, not 
vice versa. If you understand the exigencies and nuances of language you 
understand logic, whether you are using particular notations and forms of 
expression or not.

Anyway, you were clearly wrong in imputing a claim to me that "only Cartesian 
dualists think that consciousness is irreducible to anything that isn't" 
though, in fact, that might even be true (and I am inclined to think it is, 
though I am not making that particular claim). Indeed, I wasn't going that far 
in what I maintained in that argument for why Searle is a dualist as presented 
above. I merely noted that Cartesian dualists DO think that (consistent with 
what Dennett claimed in that text I quoted).


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