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Self-defeating arguments...

Discussion in 'The Philosopher' started by Nile577, Jul 6, 2007.

  1. kmik

    kmik Member

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    Wait a minute. Suppose one says 'I don't know anything about philosophy'. Surely it means that he knows something about philosophy - specifically, it means that he knows what philosophy is NOT (because, supposing he has some knowledge, to say he knows nothing about philosophy he would have to assume all knowledge he does have is not related to philosophy?)
     
  2. Norsemaiden

    Norsemaiden barbarian

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    Is there an alternative way to ascertain truth that isn't a self defeating argument? I suppose the problem is just that "X is the only way to ascertain truth" can be objected to using the argument: the statement poses as truth in itself and yet is not derived from X.

    Scientific method is surely the best way to ascertain any "truth" that can be ascertained.
     
  3. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    Well, evangelicals will tell you 'the word of God is the only way to ascertain truth,' and argue that as this is a statement derived from God's word it is not self-defeating.

    (I give the above merely as an example. Its terminology makes tremendous assumptions)
     
  4. infoterror

    infoterror Member

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    Time to stop reading arguments, and start thinking about psychology.

    Self-defeating arguments, like masochism or drug addiction, feel good. Their message: nothing can be done, so sit back and feel superior for having found the "truth."

    You can see this most commonly in liberals, but also to a large degree in "white power" activists, true metal activists, environmentalists, Christians... it's what comes of thinking about the ego before the task.
     
  5. Justin S.

    Justin S. Member

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    I hope the following post addresses some of the concerns/questions raised over my first post. It should also further display how Scourge and I are speaking of similar things in this thread, albeit in a different fashion and level of concern.

    Below is Lacan's "L Schema". I generally dislike Lacan (and am weary of much of psychoanalysis, despite its important findings) but his schema (when utilized as a starting point for interpretive speculation, as a strict Lacanian reading is limited) presents an interestingly organized formulation of many concepts found in (mostly continental) philosophy, from Kant to the present:


    [​IMG]
    (Scanned from Lacan's Ecrits)


    The "(Es) S" is the Freudian Subject, Lacan's "divided subject", what they claim to be constituted by the dialectical interplay of consciousness and unconsciousness. (Note: this "subject" is a problem for those who take Heidegger's analytic of Dasein seriously; Da-sein is beyond subjectivity)

    The "(ego) a" is the Freudian ego, the mediator of the id and the superego, what engages the external world. In my discussions with Professor Ned Lukacher, he recommended that a dashed line be drawn between the subject and the ego to signal their intrinsic relation (the schema seems to suggest separation)

    The "other" (objet petit a) for Lacan is distinct from the many other uses of the term (including Derrida's interpretation and those found in the social sciences and humanities) and how I tend to employ it. Lacan's is bound with notions of desire, the imaginary, and is heavily Freudian. For our purposes, it is probably not too fatal to think of it in the Derridean sense ;). Lukacher suggests Kantian appearance, which I find very helpful (as shown in my first post).

    The Other ("big Other") or "the Real" is what is radically other, resists identification and lies outside the imaginary. Lukacher refers to it as "radical non-knowledge". This is the most difficult to discuss and come to terms with, and its meaning varies dramatically (for example, in psychoanalysis it is thought of as related to the superego, the inner-representation of "authority", "the they/one", "God", etc.). As Scourge rightly said, and as the direction of the arrow on the schema indicates, the ego/subject has some degree of "awareness" of the Other but lacks "knowledge" of it. This leads to a discussion of what we mean by knowledge and awareness (and apprehension and comprehension [intuition, concept]), but you'll forgive me if I leave that aside for now and assume the general thrust is understood to some degree; "Subjectivity doesn't touch the Real, but the signifying network" (Lukacher). In other (Kantian) words, we are barred access to the noumenal, without correspondence between appearances, what we bring to language/conceptualization, and things-in-themselves (the Real).

    Despite being a crude gloss, I hope this post demonstrates the subtle ground here, and reveals the "self-defeating" objections (that attempt the reduction, absurdly, to P and ~P) as gamesmen's parlor tricks that lack "philosophical" substance.
     
  6. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    Justin: That's an excellent post. Thank you for taking the time to respond in such an illuminating manner. I have learned much from this thread.

    If you get time over the coming days or weeks I'd actually be really interested to see you - or SoG - expound your thoughts here. It seems of key importance to consider whether propositional statements are always knowledge statements, and if so, whether they can be applied to concepts we can only intimate. If the statement "We can only intimate 'the other'" is itself not an intimation, perhaps, as later-period Heidegger realised, rather than propositional, 'philosophy' should be poetic?
     
  7. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    Those are strong words - Nietzschean almost (I am reminded of the opening section to Beyond Good & Evil). Logical truth is secondary to the impelling force of life. Quite the Beethovian heart you have.
     
  8. Justin S.

    Justin S. Member

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    ...what a double-post-monster :).
     
  9. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    I fixed it with some sneaky editing. (If only Mary Shelley had done the same with her monster) :zombie: (*Low blow literary insult mode cancelled*)
     
  10. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    On Heidegger and “truth.”

    (Since I have hinted at this a couple of times in the thread I will try and (crudely) elaborate for anyone interested.).

    Heidegger suggested that the traditional Western notion of Truth is propositional. That is, if one were to make the statement “that Englishman is extremely handsome,” one would ascertain the veracity of the claim by looking at the Englishman and seeing if the proposition matched up to the evidence. 'Handsomeness,' of course, is traditionally arguably a "subjective" quality, but the same likewise applies to truths we might measure empirically. If one were to assert "Grigori the octopus is 170cm long," one would look across at Grigori – perhaps approaching his tank with rulers, tape measures and other malevolent equipment - to see whether the statement corresponded to his length.

    So far so good. However, Heidegger proposes that "truth" is before all this. He asks: when one points to "Grigori," how do I know one is not pointing to the space the octopus occupies, or its skin? * How do I know he is not referring to the tank of water? Heidegger proposes that it's because we have already invested Grigori with Being. Beings 'show up' in the 'clearing' (like in a forest) formed by the 'horizon' of our 'culture.' We give "flavour" to Being in accordance with our horizon of disclosure. The 'horizon' is the shape of the 'clearing' in which Being shows up. The clearing is our culture. In this way culture is not things, or people, or ideals and ideas (these are merely its symptoms). It is an entire flavour of thought outside of which one cannot step.

    We do not have a word for what Grigori might be prior to this disclosure. He would certainly not be a 'thing.' Julian Young suggests 'ripple' of Being as a term of intimation

    Truth then, for Heidegger, is disclosive rather than propositional. Propositional truth would be impossible were it not founded upon revealed Being. That the above examples (“Grigori” referring to ‘skin’ or ‘space’) seem so far fetched is testament to how deeply acculturated within culture we are.

    How incredibly radical this thought is. The assumption that truth is founded on propositional correspondence is the founding stone of Western thought and hence, for Heidegger, the claim must be made that the history of Western thought from Plato onwards is plagued with a mediocre conception of “truth.”

    * - Young's example.
     
    #30 Nile577, Jul 10, 2007
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2017
  11. Norsemaiden

    Norsemaiden barbarian

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    Yes, I see that technically that is not a self-defeating argument. But how did you figure out that it wasn't self defeating? Did you believe God's pronouncement on the subject, or did you use logic? And since logic is a scientific method, then you have used logic to observe a truth and therefore proved that science was required to ascertain that truth.


    How ironic that science (logic) is necessary to observe the truth in the statement: "science is the only way to ascertain truth" is self defeating.
     
  12. kmik

    kmik Member

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    Damn, this is one of the most brilliant things I've ever read. That's like the theory of relativity for philosophy. Everyone must read that! (I'm not being cynical at all - thank you, Nile557)


    However, I still don't grasp how exactly you make the leap from that thought to the 'symptoms' of culture. How do different cultures view 'being' differently?
     
  13. StocktontoMalone

    StocktontoMalone The Cynical Realist

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    All that could have been succintly summarized by saying, 'Existence before essense'
     
  14. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    No. It couldn't have.
     
  15. StocktontoMalone

    StocktontoMalone The Cynical Realist

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    Actually, it could. From what I was able to glean from your passage, if someone told me to get them the milk from the fridge, I could do that.

    When something is given a name, it is given a 'tag', or a simple word that when it is heard makes the mind bring up a picture of the item; this time it is milk. The white liquid still exists as it is, even if it isn't called anything. But giving it a name, makes it easier in conceptual terms.

    There is no truth contained in the statement, 'Grab the milk from the fridge, please.'. None at all. A question, or a command cannot hold any TRUTH. But, consequently, ' There is milk in the fridge' holds a truth, or non-truth.

    And asking for said milk, doesn't presuppose that anyone would confuse my statement, and grab the mustard instead. If something is known by milk, in that language, that will be what is brought.

    Now there are alot of occupational definitions of things that share a name with something that is not part of the current vernacular. But in that atmosphere, one would know what is meant by the seemingly ambiguous request.

    A distant planet, that we cannot see with the current available technology, still exists even though it hasn't been 'discovered' yet. Grigori was Grigori before it was ever called anything. That's where i got my 'Existence before essence'....things don't just become real when they are named. The only thing naming does is it allows you a focal point at which at a later time when you hear the 'tag' you can picture the object.

    Likewise, Grigori is 170cm long is true(assuming it is true after measurement) whether he is measured or not. The fact that it becomes documented is the only difference 'after' makes.....

    And I would assert that your passage is the philosophy of thought that the church follows when trying to defend the existence of G-D. 'G-D exists whether you see him or not'.

    Truth exists independently of knowledge. The circumference of the unseen planet exists, and is true, even though we haven't measured it yet.
     
  16. infoterror

    infoterror Member

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    The old "if i misuse language, does it discredit language" -- nigga, please.
     
  17. infoterror

    infoterror Member

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    The old "if i misuse language, does it discredit language" -- nigga, please.
     

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