Jordan Peterson speaks the truth

I may, justifiably, be accused of this post having a clickbait title. What it refers to, though, is a youtube debate between Philip Moriarty (a Physics Professor at the University of Nottingham) and Fred McVittie (whose credentials I, unfortunately, do not know). It was done as a series of shortish youtube clips, each presenting an opening statement, a first rebuttal, a second rebuttal, and closing remarks. The series can be found here.

I watched the whole series, and I found it very interesting. I don’t want to give away too much, but Tom McVittie was essentially arguing that Jorden Peterson is discussing some kind of greater truth (moral/societal) that encompases the universal truths that emerge from the scientific process. Philip Moriarty – on the other hand – argued that it’s quite hard to know what Jordan Peterson is saying, because it doesn’t make much sense and seems highly inconsistent; critisicing post-modernism, while essentially engaging in it himself.

I did, however, want to highlight something specific. Philip Moriarty stressed the epistimology of empiricism, which just means that truth emerges through collecting data, making observations, and testing hypotheses – the scientific method, essentially. Fred McVittie argued, in his closing statement, that some scholarship in the humanities doesn’t conform to this epistimology of empiricism. This – according to Fred McVittie – does not mean that this is not scholarship and that it can’t generate knowledge, or discover truths.

This suggestion really did make me stop and think; maybe I really have misunderstood some forms of scholarship within the humanities, and that what seems obscure and meaningless, might simply be an alternative epsitimology that I simply do not understand. In fact, it even seemed somewhat appealing. I think we can sometimes overplay the scientific method, in the sense that even within the physical sciences, not every step is a perfect representation of empiricism. We can make mistakes, we can over-interpret/mis-interpret data, we can use methods that are inapproriate, and we can draw conclusions that turn out to be wrong.

However, we only start to trust results when we’re confident the data is suitable, that the analysis methods are sound, and that the conclusions are justified. Even though every step may not be a good representation of empiricism, we still apply the epistimology of empiricism when determing the value of emergent truths. So, if there are areas in the humanities that can uncover knowledge and reveal truths without following something akin to empiricism, how do they do this? How can they be confident in the value of the knowledge/truths that they’ve uncovered, if they don’t go out and collect some data, or make some observations, or test their hypotheses?

So, I can see how there might be aspect of scholarship in the humanities that doesn’t conform to the epistimology of empiricism, but I can’t see how one can be claim to have uncovered new truths if one doesn’t do something that is essentially a form of empiricism.

On the other hand, if the kind of knowledge/truths that emerge from this non-empirical form of scholarship is not universal, but some kind of societal/moral knowledge/truth, then maybe it can emerge without undertaking any kind of empirical research. However, if this is the case, then is this knowledge/truth emerging, or being generated? In other words, if this non-empirical scholarship is revealing societal/moral knowledge/truths, or is it actually influencing what society regards as knowledge/truth. If the former, I still don’t see how this can not involve any form of empiricism. If the latter, how does this differ from someone successfully imposing some kind of ideology onto society? There’s nothing wrong with people promoting their views about knowledge/truth, but why does this qualify as scholarship?

To be clear, I’ve worked with people in the humanities, and published a number of social science papers, so this is certainly not a criticism of the humanities in general. If anything, I think social science research is very difficult, because you don’t have fundamental laws that underpin your discipline, and that constrain what can be “true”. However, I have found some of what I’ve come across to be quite bizarre (and have written about it on a number of occasions). I still don’t see how it is possible to reveal knowledge/truth without engaging in a form of empiricism, but I am willing to be convinced otherwise if someone is willing to spend some time explaining how this non-empirical process is actually able to uncover knowledge/truth.

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396 Responses to Jordan Peterson speaks the truth

  1. (Did not watch the videos yet.)

    I prefer to acknowledge that there are other kinds of thinking about the world that are useful that are not science over calling every useful thought science.

    I still don’t see how it is possible to reveal knowledge/truth without engaging in a form of empiricism, but I am willing to be convinced otherwise if someone is willing to spend some time explaining how this non-empirical process is actually able to uncover knowledge/truth.

    The philosophy of science is quite useful, but not science, not empirical, not falsifiable.

    Math?

  2. Victor,

    I prefer to acknowledge that there are other kinds of thinking about the world that are useful that are not science over calling every useful thought science.

    I agree, and I wasn’t suggesting that this isn’t the case. The question was more about whether or not this other form of thinking (that might be useful) can reveal truths/knowledge without applying some kind of empirical approach. I can see how this other form of thinking may lead to observations that will reveal a truth, I’m just not sure how it can do so by itself. Willard will probably chip in at some point 🙂

  3. “Truths” is a bit a high bar, isn’t it. Also science does not provide that.

    Mathematics is useful, Popper’s falsification criterion is useful.

  4. Joshua says:

    The idea of mixing Peterson’s views and a concept of “moral truth” is more than a bit disturbing for me.

  5. “Truths” is a bit a high bar, isn’t it. Also science does not provide that.

    Yes, I realise this (it was also something discussed in the debate). I realise that science does not provide absolute truths (I should probably have been clearer about this in the post) but it does provide a mechanism for determining what some might call emergent truths, or scientific truths (or some other term that means that we’re pretty confident that some result is a good representation of reality). We can’t claim that it’s absolutely true, but we might still regard it as being as close to the truth as we can get at that time.

    All I’m really getting at is that it would seem to need some form of empiricism to test the the ideas that some form of scholarship might be developing. It’s not clear to me that it’s possible to claim that some results is “true” (in the sense of correctly representing what it is that is being considered) if you don’t make observations, collect data, and test some kind of hypothesis.

    As you say, this doesn’t mean that other forms of thinking isn’t useful. Of course, I may also be wrong and there is some way to be confident about knowledge that has emerged from some kind of non-emirical process, but I don’t – at this stage – see how this would work.

  6. Joshua,
    Maybe we should endeavour to not make this a discussion about Peterson, but – if people are interested – a discussion about whether or not knowledge can emerge from a process that is inherently non-empirical.

  7. Eli Rabett says:

    What you are after is not epistimology but consilience. The more science you know, the more everything fits together and the parts that don’t stand out jarringly. Scientists react by thinking about those bits and it often turns out that they were false. If not looking at them uncovers deeper consilience.

    This is a point that the thrashers (those thrashing about in denial about various scientific issues) do not comprehend, that their harping on single issues does not impress anybody who understands any science, indeed it labels them as cranks. Science is a structure, but a house built with rebar not cards.

  8. Eli Rabett says:

    Sorry to have left this out, in the humanities, consilience is of little value, each thought stands on its own and the deciding factor is beauty broadly defined.

  9. Eli,

    What you are after is not epistimology but consilience.

    Yes, I agree. We may take wrong turns, and follow dead ends, but we start to trust results when most (all?) of the evidence points in the same direction and is largely consistent.

  10. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Point taken. Then I will rephrase.

    The idea of mixing anyone’s views and a concept of “moral truth” is more than a bit disturbing for me.

    I have just started listening, but the very concept of “moral truth” seems to me like an oxymoron. As to whether there is such a thing as a “scientific truth,” I am somewhat more agnostic, but I think it should be noted that in Moriarty’s first clip he disparages the notion of scientific truth as compared to relative states of probability of understanding.

    I would like someone to describe for me a” moral truth,” and explain, ala Moriarty, how that “truth” might be “justified.”

  11. Joshua,
    I meant to put a smiley on my comment 🙂

    I think it should be noted that in Moriarty’s first clip he disparages the notion of scientific truth as compared to relative states of probability of understanding.

    Indeed, and I was maybe slightly lax in my post. However, I somewhat agree with Fred McVittie’s point that some things we might regard as essentially true, even if we can’t demonstrate that they are absolutely true.

    I would like someone to describe for me a” moral truth,” and explain, ala Moriarty, how that “truth” might be “justified.”

    This is what I would like too. I can understand that there are things that we (society) might regard as morally true and I can understand how people might want to study how we develop our moral framework. I’m still unclear, though, how some form of non-empirical scholarship can do so.

  12. Joshua says:

    However, I somewhat agree with Fred McVittie’s point that some things we might regard as essentially true,..

    I notice that McVittie caveats his criterion of “true enough” with an aside that he’s “not quite sure what [he] means by that.”. The problem for me thee is that I’m not sure how anyone might explain that as some absolute distinction.

    It seems to me that a determination of “essentially true” is contingent on, or relative to, context – and hard to speak of in some general framework.

    But accepting that there is a process by which various levels of “essentially true” might be “justified” for assertions of “scientific truth,” I am still puzzled by how various levels of “moral truth” might be justified. I heard Moriarty’s description of some sort of “evolutionary” framework used by Peterson, but I am left puzzled as to how that framework might be explained in more detail in some non*abstract sense. Thus far, from what I’ve seen, McVittie hasn’t really addressed that question. I look forward to further watching on that.

  13. > The philosophy of science is quite useful, but not … empirical

    I’m not sure that’s true. Most of the “useful” philosophy is grounded in experience.

  14. WMC,

    Most of the “useful” philosophy is grounded in experience.

    Yes, my impression is that it (the “useful” stuff, at least) ends up being relying on something empirical, even if it doesn’t necessarily start that way.

  15. Mal Adapted says:

    OP:

    Philip Moriarty stressed the epistimology of empiricism, which just means that truth emerges through collecting data, making observations, and testing hypotheses – the scientific method, essentially.

    You may be overlooking that equally important foundation of Science, intersubjective verification, or ‘peer review’ in the broadest sense. As a method of explaining and predicting reality, i.e. the Universe that’s accessible to sensory perception, science is more successful than haruspicy only because it’s a way for its practitioners to try not to fool themselves. “The first principle is you must not fool yourself”, so individual scientists are rigorously trained in empiricism, i.e. how to record observations while paying attention to all possible ways they can be fooled. “You are the easiest person to fool”, however, and even the most disciplined empiricist can still fool herself. That’s why she relies on other equally well trained and disciplined specialists in her topic, whose collective expertise exceeds that of any one of them, to verify her results. Whether by attempting to replicate her findings empirically or by exposing flaws in her methods or assumptions, her peers can find errors she’s missed. Because scientists are inculcated with competitive skepticism as a cultural norm, peers don’t let their peers fool themselves.

    Fred McVittie argued, in his closing statement, that some scholarship in the humanities doesn’t conform to this epistimology of empiricism. This – according to Fred McVittie – does not mean that this is not scholarship and that it can’t generate knowledge, or discover truths.

    Humanities deal with mental or emotional phenomena, that are inherently subjective. That is, their value and salience depend on the observer. If observations can’t be recorded empirically, one scholar’s finding can’t be rigorously verified by other scholars. They may offer truth under some kind of epistemology nevertheless.

  16. I think it should be noted that in Moriarty’s first clip he disparages the notion of scientific truth as compared to relative states of probability of understanding.

    I do not see giving understanding a probability an improvement over calling stuff true. How much percent was classical mechanics true before relativity? How much percent afterwards?

  17. Willard says:

    > What you are after is not epistimology but consilience.

    Consilience can only be an epistemological concept. It is used to refer to the internal validity of a discipline, or to the external validity of a bunch of disciplines. The absolutist version of it goes back to Descartes’ project, where metaphysics rules everything. There’s another version in Bacon. Another version in Whewell. Et cetera. That there are many versions of consilience shows that Eli’s criteria excludes Eli’s standpoint on what should be considered an empirical science.

    The long and short of it is that evidence is seldom decisive, and that the empirical sciences need that indecision to be distinct from the formal ones. Interpretations due to incompleteness are thus here to say. Our web of beliefs contains knowledge of variable faithfulness. Ultimately, we should not be able to segregate every kinds. I don’t see why we should. To paraphrase my avatar, I pity the fool who gets no cognitive experience out of poetry or music.

    Epistemology (or even logic) cannot provide any safeguard against cranks such as Jordan. Neither does it justify Philip’s overall attitude.

    NB. Edited the “segregate” part.

  18. Eli Rabett says:

    There are reasons to first kill the philosophers and Willard supplies them at an low epistomological cost. Consilience does not mean decisive nor complete, it means consistent across many areas of observation, not thumb sucking which, Eli agrees is can be an enjoyable cognitive experience for some. Indeed what science seeks to do is to extend consilient understanding across seemingly disjoint areas of experience. While until now this has not worked well, or at all, with mental gymnastics, tools are being gathered as we blather and we are making progress in biology at the molecular level.

  19. Mal,

    Humanities deal with mental or emotional phenomena, that are inherently subjective. That is, their value and salience depend on the observer.

    I can see this, but I don’t see why this has to be fundamentally non-empirical. It seems quite likely that there are areas of the humanities in which you wouldn’t necessarily expect to converge towards some kind of consistent picture, but that still doesn’t imply that this kind of scholarship would be non-empirical. The issue I’m trying to understand is if there is some kind of non-empirical scholarship from which knowledge can emerge without any form of empiricism.

  20. Willard,

    Ultimately, we should not be able to segregate every kinds. I don’t see why we should. To paraphrase my avatar, I pity the fool who gets no cognitive experience out of poetry or music.

    But isn’t this kind of the point? There are other “truths” (I really like a particular piece of music, poetry, art, etc). However, these aren’t truths that one can demonstrate in some empirical way. So, I think the issue (for me, at least) is to be clearer about what sort of knowledge/truth emerges from different forms of scholarship. Or, maybe, to be clearer about the goals of different forms of scholarship. For example, I would regard empirical work as having the goal of uncovering some kind of understanding of whatever it is that is being observed. Maybe, non-empirical scholarship is more about challenging us to think about whatever it is that is being considerered, rather than trying to directly uncover knowledge (I don’t know if the latter has merit, but it would at least make some kind of sense to me).

  21. Everett F Sargent says:

    When a whole cadre of psychologists think that MTurk is the greatest thing since sliced bread (relative to say 18-20-year-old somethings college surveys) and that it takes five effin’ years to get a psychology PhD from the UoT (my shrink replied that this was “remedial” (I kid you not)) …

    Long story short?

    Since Willard last visited Jordan B Peterson here …
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/freedom-fighters/

    I’ve very much done the requisite math. Peterson can’t even get logos right (as in formal logic, not hero myths, particularly WRT Jesus and Christianity which is Peterson’s current YouTube guru series).

    When all you have is statistics and a continual never ending bad string of sampling surveys anything is possible with that group of idiotarians.

    To understand the individual you must truly study their roots. Go hard or go home.

  22. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    Eli,
    Willard is not a philospher – he is a romantic.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton_(Blake)

    Willard:
    If the formal sciences were decisive, they’d be all done by now.

    While evidence is not always decisive, it is decisive just often enough to be damn useful for inquiring into the “what you know ain’t true” variability of our articles of faithfulness. It’s always better than the alternative. Or at least it is nineteen times out of twenty.

    And while kinds may not segregate perfectly now, segregate perfectly tomorrow, segregate perfectly forever, because evidence, they nevertheless tend to segregate in a more consilient ways over time.

    The latest and hip-hoppiest House Music of the Spheres is the Standard Model of quarks, leptons, and bosons dancing in relativistic space and time, longing for the harmonies.

    Hell – Even formalists do interpretive dance:

  23. Willard says:

    > Consilience does not mean decisive nor complete, it means consistent across many areas of observation

    As long as scientific commentators will rely on quasi circular definitions, there may be a market for philosophers. This kind of definition doesn’t even suffice to dodge the point that the unity of science is an old idea (emphasis not mine):

    Kant’s ideas set the frame of reference for discussions of the unification of the sciences in German thought throughout the nineteenth century (Wood and Hahn 2011). He gave philosophical currency to the notion of worldview (Weltanschauung) and, indirectly, world-picture (Weltbild), establishing among philosophers and scientists the notion of unity of science as an intellectual ideal. From Kant, German-speaking Philosophers of Nature adopted the image of Nature in terms of interacting forces or powers and developed it in different ways; this image found its way to British natural philosophy. In Great Britain this idealist, unifying spirit (and other notions of an idealist and romantic turn) was articulated in William Whewell’s philosophy of science. Two unifying dimensions are these: his notion of mind-constructed fundamental ideas, which form the basis for organizing axioms and phenomena and classifying sciences, and the argument for the reality of explanatory causes in the form of consilience of induction, wherein a single cause is independently arrived at as the hypothesis explaining different kinds of phenomena.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-unity/

    Killing philosophers has been tried before, but to appropriate their ideas may never have been offered as an argument to do so.

  24. Willard says:

    I’m more a new romantic than a neo-romantic, Rev:

    I would prefer that we segregate theories using scientific tools, e.g.:

    Meanwhile, metascientific commentaries remain metascientific.

  25. Mal Adapted says:

    aTTP:

    The issue I’m trying to understand is if there is some kind of non-empirical scholarship from which knowledge can emerge without any form of empiricism.

    The answer may hinge on the precise definitions of ’empirical’ and ‘knowledge’. In science, ’empiricism’ applies to careful observation of ‘real world’ (i.e. existing independently of any observer) phenomena, controlling for all possible sources of error; empirical observations become ‘knowledge’ only when they’re justified by ‘objective’, i.e. intersubjective, verification. Are you talking about some other kind of knowledge?

  26. Everett F Sargent says:

    “So, if there are areas in the humanities that can uncover knowledge and reveal truths without following something akin to empiricism, how do they do this?”

    It’s called sex, politics and religion. The three taboo subjects one learns to never discuss in “so called” normal social situations.

    Political science? Now there’s an oxymoron if there ever was one.

    “How can they be confident in the value of the knowledge/truths that they’ve uncovered, if they don’t go out and collect some data, or make some observations, or test their hypotheses?”

    They are confident AND they can’t make the necessary observations because it is a system of belief, first and foremost,

    For example, take tax cuts for the wealthy, also known as tinkle-on-me-and-you economics. It flat out doesn’t work, never has, but over here, across the pond, we will repeat this fundamental error for a third time in my adult life.

    Societies are made to believe in stuff, damn the facts, damn the theories, damn the data, damn the logic, don’t you know.

    Art teacher debates physicist. There’s a joke in there somewhere, I just know it.

  27. Mal,

    The answer may hinge on the precise definitions of ’empirical’ and ‘knowledge’.

    Indeed, I sometimes do wonder if the confusion is mostly to do with not clearly defining what we mean.

    In science, ’empiricism’ applies to careful observation of ‘real world’ (i.e. existing independently of any observer) phenomena, controlling for all possible sources of error; empirical observations become ‘knowledge’ only when they’re justified by ‘objective’, i.e. intersubjective, verification. Are you talking about some other kind of knowledge?

    What I mean is some kind of understanding of whatever it is that is being considered. Can you gain understanding of something without trying to make observations (collect data) and somehow testing your ideas?

  28. Everett F Sargent says:

    Fred “Teleprompter” McVittie tried but ultimately fails (meh, music teacher or art teacher is there really any difference), because he cheated, in that he used a written script in his final rebuttal.

    Clarity of language is very important and overrides all other means of communication.

    McVittie also fails to show any explicit examples (you know, their called citations) of whatever it was he is on about. I’m not too sure that saying that you can read-write-speak gibberish means much of anything if someone else doesn’t read-write-speak gibberish. All it really means is that you are hiding behind (or using) that gibberish as a tool to cover up your own incompetent and meaningless existence.

    If anything, McVittie pushed me further from his post-modernist POV.

  29. izen says:

    Ahh epistemology of science and absolute moral beliefs…
    How nostalgic it is to be revisiting those ‘big’ questions one worried about as an idealistic youth when they were fashionable. there is some embarrassment at the memory of ideas you took seriously at the time. Given the apparent revival perhaps I should see if I have any flared jeans left in the back of the wardrobe !

    You can justify empirical science from its utility, (it works, b*tches). Denying that on the internet is as ludicrous as denying Archimedes principle in a boat.

    But the classic epistemological justification of science is that the A Priori assumption is that we exist in a material universe that is computable. It is discoverable by mathematical modelling from empirical (intra-subjective) observation of that material world with no need to invoke arbitrary, supernatural or non-material influences.

    The justification for making that A priori assumption is that if we do NOT exist in a rationally discoverable material universe, using that as the NUll Hypothesis is the most effective way to find out where the universe deviates from that Naturalism and requires Supernatural intervention as an explanation.

    As ATTP would like to avoid direct reference to the Jordan nonsense, here is another arguement against the concept of ‘Truth’ emerging only from empirical materialism. That deeper moral Truths are only accesable from perspective outside science which is blinded to their reality by its assumption that the universe is computable.

    http://www.windowview.org/sci/pgs/38mat.naturl.a.html

    “The topic of material naturalism is hardly insignificant. Much of the ”thought-scape” of today’s thinking is shaped by this point of view. Much of the working assumptions of western culture rest on this as reality.
    Take away the assumption that absolutely all explanations are material, as expressed by some thinkers, and the field is wide open to again explore our existence in an objective way.”

    (I gave up the technicolour tank-tops for utility work clothes some decades ago. -grin-)

  30. Steven Mosher says:

    “This suggestion really did make me stop and think; maybe I really have misunderstood some forms of scholarship within the humanities, and that what seems obscure and meaningless, might simply be an alternative epsitimology that I simply do not understand. ”

    ya pretty much.

  31. ya pretty much.

    Okay, but what is it and how does it work? That’s what I’m trying to understand (to be clear, I’m not suggesting that non-empirical scholarship isn’t useful, I’m trying to understand how it can actually reveal knowledge).

  32. izen says:

    @-“I’m not suggesting that non-empirical scholarship isn’t useful, I’m trying to understand how it can actually reveal knowledge).”

    It may claim to reveal knowledge, but non-empirical belief systems provide meaning, or at least the dellusion of it.
    Not reliable knowledge of a material universe.
    Or even of the conceptual systems we use to understand it.

  33. Steven Mosher says:

    “Sorry to have left this out, in the humanities, consilience is of little value, each thought stands on its own and the deciding factor is beauty broadly defined.”

    wrong. on all counts. Wrong about consilience, wrong about each thought standing on its own. wrong about beauty.

    I think most folks here have little idea of what is actually done as scholarship in the humanities.
    Maybe you read a joke paper or two.

    It some areas its all about consilience.

    I will say, having done both the humanities and the science thing, that the style of thinking, is dramatically different. It takes years to unlearn and re learn. I read papers I wrote years ago and dont even recognize the person who wrote them, although they do make sense.

    But lets just give you an example of how consilience would work. Take a typical study, Hmm, I’ll use Frost. I’ll put it in ‘scientfic” terminology.

    First what do we want to explain. We want to explain the words he wrote. That is we want to come up with a theory, a set of rules, an underlying logic, a generating structure, that produces those works. Our data is the works, the poems. And we work from those data back to a generating structure an idea, the “thing” he was trying to say. Sometimes we will do this by talking about themes

    I always liked to start with this one

    Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
    Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
    Deeper down in the well than where the water
    Gives me back in a shining surface picture
    Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
    Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
    Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
    I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
    Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
    Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
    Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
    One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
    Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
    Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
    Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

    So you can take the “themes’ here and start to trace them through other works. Where else do these epistemic themes show up. If this is his philsophy does this help us make sense of this or that different work of his. Where does this place him in intellectual history? Where did he get these ideas? Through the course of his work, does he change these ideas?

    And then we might consider Other lines of evidence. Not his poetry, but his articles. How does he talk about the truth and coming to know and understand?

    “What I am pointing out is that unless you are at home in the metaphor, unless you have had your proper poetical education in the metaphor, you are not safe anywhere . Because you are not at ease with figurative values: you don’t know the metaphor in its strength and its weakness. You don’t know how far you may expect to ride it and when it may break down with you. …
    It is a very living thing. It is as life itself.”

    And as we begin to piece together the way he thinks, the way he sees the world, as we reconstruct what we “think” is underneath all his writing, we start to read his work differently. One could quite literally take every work and ‘explain’ it or “understand” it using some basic themes, ideas, and problems or questions. You prove you understand him when you can ‘explain’ how every piece fits together.

    As for other lines of evidence maybe we look to his letters, maybe we look to his biography, the history around him, what he read, who he liked.

    Now the problem is that its very hard to test these kinds of understandings. In the end you are tested by what other people think about your ‘reconstruction” of what generating priciples of his work was. They may ask you about this poem or that poem.. “how does this fit, how does that fit?”
    or they can reject your account totally and propose their own explantion of what made him tick. They may reject your appeals to biography as being “outside” the art, or outside the text. Then the fights go “meta” into critical theory. What sorts of evidence can we appeal to?

    In all of this we rarely talk about the “beauty” of the stuff. That’s a given. Now we may explain a technique he used ( irony, metaphor, etc etc ) and then tie that style back to the general philosophy he had. We rarely say “you should like this its beautiful” we explain why it works
    What a style is, how it compares to others. We generally dont play rate an artist. ( except for bard lovers, who are hella annoying , almost as annoying as bethoven lovers) We generally work to not be in love with the art, but to explain how and why it works. where it came from, who it borrows from, who it inspired? who rejected it. how it differed from other work at the same time.

    And this is just one tradition in the humanities.

  34. Steven Mosher says:

    “Okay, but what is it and how does it work? That’s what I’m trying to understand (to be clear, I’m not suggesting that non-empirical scholarship isn’t useful, I’m trying to understand how it can actually reveal knowledge).”

    Hmm. I am not sure we ever aimed at knowledge. As I noted above some of us aimed at understanding, making sense of, or in some cases merely questioning.

    Sometimes it looks like puzzle solving

    so much depends
    upon

    a red wheel
    barrow

    glazed with rain
    water

    beside the white
    chickens.

    Most people will look at this and go “huh?” If I explained it to you, I would not call what I said
    “knowledge” I would not call it “subjective” I would explain to you how this can come to have meaning, what it could mean, how important it was in our intellectual history. There are probably thrirteen of ways of looking at it. (hint google thirteen ways of looking) .
    So much depends on what I put next to the poem to explain to you. If I put one thing next to it, it may have one meaning and if I put another thing next to it, it will change. Positioning is everything.
    But whats The “use” of this understanding, what’s the point? Ah this too becomes a question for scholarship. whats the point? does it need a point?

  35. izen says:

    @-SM
    “Our data is the works, the poems. And we work from those data back to a generating structure an idea, the “thing” he was trying to say.”

    Frost, poetry, and the Humanities that work on it, are trying to find the meaning of a thing, not facts, explanations or ‘Truths’.
    That they may ape the procedures of science does not mean the goal, or outcome, is the same.

  36. Steven,

    Hmm. I am not sure we ever aimed at knowledge.

    Yes, but Fred McVittie did (or implied it). If people want to argue that there is value to non-empirical scholarship, then I wouldn’t disagree. There’s clearly value in art, music, literature, etc. However, if people want to argue that non-empirical scholarship can – by itself – actually reveal knowledge, then I’d quite like to know how.

  37. Steven Mosher says:

    Another way to look at it ATTP, is this.

    Knowledge versus understanding

    wont help you fix a helicopter, but some folks try to understand stories cause they can be important

  38. Steven,

    Knowledge versus understanding

    This seems a bit like semantics. There is difference – in my view – between saying something that makes us think, or gives us some kind of possible understanding of a topic. However, it would still seem that demonstrating that this understanding is correct (or, maybe, reasonable) would still seem to require something that might reasonably described as empirical.

    wont help you fix a helicopter, but some folks try to understand stories cause they can be important

    Yes, of course, stories can be important. I’m not disputing the importance of activities that are not necessarily empirical, just question a suggestion that something that is completely non-empirical can actually – by itself – reveal some kind of truth (and I don’t mean absolutely true, but a reasonable representation of what is being considered).

  39. Steven Mosher says:

    Huh

    I didnt even watch it and I knew he would have had to focus on the terms understanding to make the case

  40. Steven Mosher says:

    “Yes, but Fred McVittie did (or implied it). If people want to argue that there is value to non-empirical scholarship, then I wouldn’t disagree. There’s clearly value in art, music, literature, etc. However, if people want to argue that non-empirical scholarship can – by itself – actually reveal knowledge, then I’d quite like to know how.”

    Ah listening to him now, some of the examples he uses are “intutionist” type examples.
    In other words, you just recogonize it as being “true”

    If willard comes back we can discus foundationalism and intutionism

  41. Steven Mosher says:

    “Frost, poetry, and the Humanities that work on it, are trying to find the meaning of a thing, not facts, explanations or ‘Truths’.
    That they may ape the procedures of science does not mean the goal, or outcome, is the same.”

    Who said it was the same?

    the point is your brain is wired to find explanations and understandings, to make sense of things.
    Its not a matter of “aping” science. Worms do science.

  42. Mal Adapted says:

    izen:

    [Naturalism] is discoverable by mathematical modelling from empirical (intra-subjective) observation of that material world with no need to invoke arbitrary, supernatural or non-material influences.

    This is my understanding also.

    The justification for making that A priori assumption is that if we do NOT exist in a rationally discoverable material universe, using that as the NUll Hypothesis is the most effective way to find out where the universe deviates from that Naturalism and requires Supernatural intervention as an explanation.

    I’m having a little trouble parsing that, but are you claiming it might be possible to rule out a lawful explanation for an empirical observation? I maintain it’s impossible for science to prove that an intersubjectively verifiable phenomenon has no lawful explanation, and to claim there is none is to argue from ignorance.

    Even devoutly religious scientists adopt methodological (if not deontological) naturalism, i.e. the a priori assumption that all observations can be explained by unvarying natural laws. Science’s task is to find out what the explanation is. That’s why “it’s a miracle” is not an acceptable answer to any scientific question, as it implies that natural laws have been violated, and renders further investigation pointless. If an apparent ‘miracle’ cannot be explained by previously verified laws, it’s both more parsimonious and more fruitful to assume that additional natural laws await discovery than that “God did it.”

    A modern example is the recent finding that the expansion of the Universe slowed for a few billion years following the presumed Big Bang, but then accelerated. Cosmologists were surprised that an unknown force sufficient to counteract gravity apparently existed, but didn’t conclude therefore that it’s supernatural. Naming it ‘dark energy’ was merely the first step toward accommodating it in an updated Standard Model.

  43. Steven Mosher says:

    Ah he also took on the conecpt of “clarity”, of the sense that language is best when it is a transparent medium. good stuff.

    The only issue I would have with him is is constant use of the word “knowledge” I think that’s unfortunate for the ‘space’ between “taste” and “empirical truth” that he is gesturing toward.

    lets do an example. He talks for example about liking “living color” versus the atomic weight of carbon. at one end we have the realm of pure taste. I like chocolate.

    I like this song.

    At the other end, he talks about an emprical truth. And In between these two is the realm he is talking about. Not a taste. Not an emprical testable fact, but in between.

    So what kind of truth is it that falls in between:
    Take the song I linked to. Anyone know korean? prolly not. But you dont have to know Korean to know the song is sad. How do you know that? is it purely subjective, like “liking chocolate”
    if you told me the song was horrible, well thats a matter a of taste. If you told me it was a happy song , I’d
    wonder what was wrong with you. Do we know it is sad? do we have to test that? is there a method or proceedure, or do you just know it?. How do we talk about these kinds of things? Its hard to avoid the typical words of knowledge,and truth, maybe we need a different vocabulary so that STEM types wont get upset if we use the terms “truth” and “knowledge” when we say I know that song is sad.

  44. I watched the brief Jordan Peterson video that Steven included a few comments ago. I think it’s largely illustrating what I’m trying to get at. He discusses life, and how complex societies are, and how to behave better, etc. Nothing necessarily wrong with what he said, but it was mostly his opinion. Again, nothing wrong with someone expressing their views. However, it’s not really scholarly, in the sense of it being the result of someone spending years studying a topic; it’s just someone expressing their views and – in some sense – appearing to want to influence the views of others. He’s not really revealing knowledge/truth, but trying to impress on others his own sense of what is knowledge/truth.

  45. Steven,

    maybe we need a different vocabulary so that STEM types wont get upset if we use the terms “truth” and “knowledge” when we say I know that song is sad.

    I think the only way you could upset STEM people would be if you claimed that it was universally/objectively true that the song was sad. I don’t thing STEM people are so disconnected from reality that they don’t appreciate that some things make people feel sad, happy, etc.

  46. Joshua says:

    … or do you just know it?.

    Seems to me that we form a conjecture about the tone of the song based on long experience of evaluating evidence about associations.

    It seems to me that little babies are dedicated empiricists.

  47. Mal Adapted says:

    aTTP:

    I think the only way you could upset STEM people would be if you claimed that it was universally/objectively true that the song was sad.

    Speaking as a STEM person, I’ll affirm that.

    I don’t thin[k] STEM people are so disconnected from reality that they don’t appreciate that some things make people feel sad, happy, etc.

    Thank you, mine host. I, for one, appreciate that some things make people feel sad, happy etc., even though I don’t consider consciousness to be empirically solved yet 8^)!

  48. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I think the only way you could upset STEM people would be if you claimed that it was universally/objectively true that the song was sad.

    Yes, that. It seems to me to be the crux of the biscuit.

    I found a similar issue with what I’ve seen from McVittie so far. For example, he seemed to me to conflate “justifying” belief on the basis of outcomes with “justifying” truth in the basis of outcomes. Religious people living longer, happier lives might “justify” a belief in God, but he seems to argue that it is a equally valid form of empiricism (to scientific empiricism) to say that it “justifies” the “truth” of God.

    He spoke of “justification” transforming a truth into a belief. Seems to me that it works the other way around.

  49. Joshua,

    Seems to me that we form a conjecture about the tone of the song based on long experience of evaluating evidence about associations.

    Yes, I think this is a subtlety. It may be true that many people find particular songs sad and that this is not necessarily some kind of empirical truth. An artist’s understanding of how to write a song that people will find sad is, however, probably based on observations of what kind of songs people claim to find sad, which is a form of empiricism.

    he seems to argue that it is a equally valid form of empiricism (to scientific empiricism) to say that it “justifies” the “truth” of God.

    Yes, this did seem to be something that he was arguing. There was also – I think – a section (which I won’t go back and listen to again) about our judgement of the truth of something depending on the survival of us as a species. Again, this seems odd. I think the examples related to smallpox vaccines and nuclear weapons. However, scientific truths associated with these topics don’t necessarily depend on how we choose to use them.

  50. Mal Adapted says:

    Somewhat tangentially, there’s an interesting Comment in the penultimate issue of Nature (might be paywalled): History: Science and the Reformation. “The scientific and religious revolutions that began 500 years ago were not causally related, but were both stimulated by printing, argues David Wootton.”

  51. Mal Adapted says:

    aTTP:

    An artist’s understanding of how to write a song that people will find sad is, however, probably based on observations of what kind of songs people claim to find sad, which is a form of empiricism.

    If we’re defining ’empiricism’ as simply the experience of our senses, then OK. In Science, though, ’empiricism’ is explicitly about not letting ourselves be fooled by mere casual observation.

  52. Mal,
    I agree. It’s easy to make an observation and then draw some kind of conclusion that is wrong. So, yes, in science we develop techniques that try to ensure that the conclusions we draw are reasonable, given the information available. All I was really meaning, though, is that an artist’s understanding of how someone might respond to their work is probably based on an understanding that came from observing how people have typically responded to various works of art (be that music, or poetry, or art, etc) – it’s not entirely non-empirical, is all I was getting at.

  53. Willard says:

    > Art teacher debates physicist. There’s a joke in there somewhere, I just know it.

    About something neither have really studied. Fancy that. All this because in an exchange with Sam, Jordan used “wrong” that went above and beyond an opposite of what is usually held as “true.”

    Neither Jordan has studied truth. Truth as what-increases-survival-chances (or something along those lines) has little currency. It’s the first time I’ve seen someone being called a POMO because of that. It’s one of the most empirical version of truth one may find, and it’s far from being relativistic in the ordinary sense.

    I like your “I just know it,” Everett. Where’s your justified true belief about “it”?

  54. izen says:

    @-Mal
    “I’m having a little trouble parsing that, but are you claiming it might be possible to rule out a lawful explanation for an empirical observation?”

    The usual example of that would be Haldane’s rabbit fossil in the Cambrian.
    But the argument that science is the best way of detecting the supernatural is used a ‘rational’ justification for the A Prior assumption of science. That it is methodologically superior to other methods. Not because any scientists expects to find something supernatural.

    In fact as the example you quote shows, science will develop any number of post-hoc explanations for difficult observations to avoid any hint of supernatural influence.
    Some of then may even be correct.

    @-SM
    ” If you told me it was a happy song , I’d wonder what was wrong with you. Do we know it is sad? do we have to test that? is there a method or proceedure, or do you just know it?.”

    Without knowing the language or seeing the singer I do not think there is ANY way to determine whether the song is sad. It uses a very conventional harmonic progression common to both happy and sad songs. The singing style is also found in romantic ballads and ‘torch’ songs where the singer is declaring strength.

    I look forward to the citation of worms doing science.

  55. Joshua says:

    Mal –

    If we’re defining ’empiricism’ as simply the experience of our senses, then OK. In Science, though, ’empiricism’ is explicitly about not letting ourselves be fooled by mere casual observation.

    Seems to me that what Anders described is not “simply the experience of our senses,” but a continual process of evaluating observed evidence. Of course, the scientific process makes testing for bias an explicit step, but I don’t understand why evaluating the relationships between a song’s characteristics and the emotions it evokes would not be an empirical process – even if it isn’t an explicit process.

  56. Just came across this article:

    In my opinion, nobody is more over-valued than the great internet phenomenon Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychology professor. As a psychologist and university teacher he is pretty good, even great. As a political commentator and interpreter of our time, he is simply not.

  57. Joshua,

    Seems to me that what Anders described is not “simply the experience of our senses,” but a continual process of evaluating observed evidence.

    Yes, but I’m also almost doing the inverse. I’m trying to understand if there is a form of scholarship that is entirely non-empirical (i.e., makes no observations, collects no data, does not attempt to test hypotheses, etc) from which knowledge/truth can emerge (and, again, I don’t mean absolute truths, but an understanding of whatever is being considered that is actually a reasonable representation of that system).

    My sense is that a lot of things rely on a form of empiricism, even if people don’t realise/recognise this. If so, then there seems no obvious reason why such disciplines shouldn’t become more familiar with the various methods that have been developed to avoid drawing unsuitable conclusions from our observations.

  58. Joshua says:

    izen –

    Without knowing the language or seeing the singer I do not think there is ANY way to determine whether the song is sad.

    There is much conveyed through spoken (or sung) language that is not contained in the meanings of the words themselves, but such attributes as emphasis, pitch, rhythm, etc., are certainly not universal across all languages

  59. Joshua says:

    willard –

    It’s the first time I’ve seen someone being called a POMO because of that.

    Moriarty’s argument that Peterson’s argument – that outcomes determines “truth” is post-modern to its core – seemed to me to make a lot of sense. If I understand you correctly, you are arguing that it isn’t? Could you elaborate (you’re going to need to dumb it down for me to understand)?

  60. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    My sense is that a lot of things rely on a form of empiricism, even if people don’t realise/recognise this. If so, then there seems no obvious reason why such disciplines shouldn’t become more familiar with the various methods that have been developed to avoid drawing unsuitable conclusions from our observations.

    I’m on the same page – and don’t yet understand what the counter-argument would be to that statement (or actually, whether this is, indeed, a counter-argument to McVittie’s arguments – which I had a hart time making heads or tails out of).

  61. Willard says:

    > I’m not disputing the importance of activities that are not necessarily empirical, just question a suggestion that something that is completely non-empirical can actually – by itself – reveal some kind of truth (and I don’t mean absolutely true, but a reasonable representation of what is being considered).

    Most results of the formal sciences aren’t empirical, AT. Mathematics and logic clearly don’t apply to a reality out there, unless one is a platonist and considers that the formal realms has its own reality in the same sense that physical objects have one. However, there’s no divide between the formal and the empirical sciences, since statistics and computer sciences can have a foot in both the formal and the empirical.

    One could argue that a mathematician is a closet empiricist, and that the objects of mathematics have empirical content in a similar way physical concepts have. Putnam, if memory serves, held a version of that. Even then there seems to be a need to distinguish conceptual analysis from experiment.

    But we also need to recall that conceptual analysis can be more or less formal, and more or less empirical. Empirical in the sense that it relates to our experiences, not in the sense that it proceeds with hypothesis testing. The poetry examples we’ve seen so far aren’t that formal. Frost can’t convey much to someone who has no pastoral background.

    Conceptual analysis could refer to a process where a family of concepts is organized to build a framework or a worldview. It could also refer to the criticism of such conceptual analysis. Here would be an example of the latter:

    Although Anger and Forgiveness is a long, sometimes dense book, Nussbaum’s thesis is simply stated: anger is a response to being harmed, and involves a wish to do harm to the wrongdoer in return. Anger pushes people down the road of payback and the road of status; it seeks to make the wrongdoer suffer to right the wrong, and to reduce the wrongdoer’s status.

    Both roads lead to swamps. The road of payback depends upon magical thinking: punishing the wrongdoer will not make the broken vase whole again or restore the murder victim to life. By contrast, the road of status makes sense: those who try to victimize others lose standing when they fail to get away with it. But, following the Stoics, Nussbaum maintains that while status seems valuable, it is actually worthless. The road of payback is wrong about facts, and the road of status, about values.

    […]

    Aristotle would think that Nussbaum has misrepresented the road of payback: its goal is not to right past wrongs magically, but to deter future wrongdoing. Payback deters by signaling that one is not going to put up with victimization; that one has self-respect; that wrongdoers will be held responsible and punished for their actions.

    Aristotle might also maintain that Nussbaum has also misrepresented the road of status. For him status — or, to use less pejorative words, “honor” or “respect” — is a necessary condition of a good life. It is easy to dismiss the importance of respect when one is well respected, but consider life without much respect. Suppose you are often treated as a child, fool, loser, or wimp. You are laughed at and mansplained, at risk of assault and robbery. Those leading such lives know that each time you allow such treatment to pass, you lose a bit more ground; the next insult or injury becomes a bit more likely. Nussbaum urges you to challenge such things dispassionately, but Aristotle says that won’t work. To retain respect, you need to get angry and if that is not enough, retaliate with a harsh word, slap, punch, lawsuit, or call to the police. Do whatever it takes to maintain self-respect and the respect of others.

    https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/the-philosophers-anger

    Notice how the author uses mundane examples to make a moral point.

    Notice how the themes of payback and respect relates to #ClimateBall too.

  62. Joshua says:

    One more comment, then I’ll let the smart people continue without my interruption for a while.

    I do think that the artistic process can often be an “alternative” form of empiricism. IMO, an artist often observes the patterns of association between artistic expression and reactions to that expression (in themselves or in other observers). Sometimes that process is more explicitly empirical:

    and sometimes perhaps less so:

  63. Joshua says:

    BTW, in order, Kandinsky, Albers, de Kooning.

  64. Steven Mosher says:

    “I think the only way you could upset STEM people would be if you claimed that it was universally/objectively true that the song was sad. I don’t thing STEM people are so disconnected from reality that they don’t appreciate that some things make people feel sad, happy, etc.”

    I would always try to avoid using the term objectively and universally true, even when talking about science, math and logic.

    I’d probably avoid using the term true as it adds little clarification. but folks appear to like that word.

  65. Steven Mosher says:

    “Without knowing the language or seeing the singer I do not think there is ANY way to determine whether the song is sad. ”

    you mean you didnt involuntarily cry when you heard it?

    Hmm. I think you have some missing human parts.

    maybe your like color blind,

  66. Mal Adapted says:

    Joshua:

    I don’t understand why evaluating the relationships between a song’s characteristics and the emotions it evokes would not be an empirical process – even if it isn’t an explicit process.

    Oh. That’s easy, heh. Your puzzlement probably ensues from my non-standard restriction of the definition of ’empiricism’ to include explicit controls on observational error. I’ll pause to research the philosophical consensus on that word for a while.

  67. izen says:

    @-joshua
    “There is much conveyed through spoken (or sung) language that is not contained in the meanings of the words themselves, but such attributes as emphasis, pitch, rhythm, etc., are certainly not universal across all languages.”

    Some aspects of speach or song are universal, and recognized by our mirror neuron systems, (if I sounded like that it would be anger).

    But cultural modifications can make more subtle attributes difficult to identify.
    Here is another bit of Korean music, I would suggest that it is difficult to characterise to Western ears. The best comparison by similarity we can make is probably ‘Amazing Grace’. But I am far from confident that captures a common meaning, or ‘Truth’ about either.

  68. Willard,

    Most results of the formal sciences aren’t empirical, AT. Mathematics and logic clearly don’t apply to a reality out there, unless one is a platonist and considers that the formal realms has its own reality in the same sense that physical objects have one.

    Okay, that’s an interesting point. However, within the mathematical framework, mathematics can produce actual truths. One might also argue that mathematics and logic provides tools for those who want to then carry out empirical work.

  69. Steven Mosher says:

    Anders I think you are missing something. When he talks about “empirical” he seems to be specifically talking about empiricism, and controlled experimentation.

    His example of listening to a lyric is empirical… but the Judgement “that is true” is not subject to testability .. on his account it is ‘just true’ that is whay I call it intuitionist.

    Its just seen. in other approaches it would be a “basic belief” or properly basic belief.

    Like I just see that there is an external world. I dont experiment to know this is true. its intutitively obvious.

    Other examples would be examples from phenomenology
    I dont experiment to know that every object facing me also has a back side. Its rather built into the perceptual system I am born with.

  70. Willard says:

    > Moriarty’s argument that Peterson’s argument – that outcomes determines “truth” is post-modern to its core – seemed to me to make a lot of sense.

    I don’t think it does, at least if Philip’s quotes of Jordan’s exchange with Sam are representative. Because “relative” never means “relative to human evolution,” but “relative to one’s very own standpoint.” As soon as you universalize truth to mankind, you’re stuck with the usual scientific hegemony.

    It should be obvious that truth is “relative” to the world we have. If snow wasn’t white, “snow is white” would not be true. Were I to tease Philip, I’d say that the worst POMO is Albert himself, for he holds that everything’s relative except for the speed of light.

    I suppose he’d reply that Albert can’t be POMO because he held objectivism, i.e. that reality was mind-independent. But then he just has a muddled conception of POMO. One could do POMO even by holding objectivism (Bruno Latour, for example) and one could reject objectivism without being POMO, like Hilary Putnam.

    I haven’t watched Sam debating Jordan. As I already said, Jordan’s voice makes me screetch. I’m definitely not a fan of Sam either. So that’ll have to wait. Nevertheless, here’s what I anticipate to hear: Sam saying that God doesn’t exist, Jordan replying that humans survived with a concept of Him.

    That debate could be settled in favor of Sam if he could show that the belief in the existence of God is essential to the practice of religion. He can’t, because it’s false. Buddhists (and most religious people I know) provide the checkmate.

    That debate could be settled in Jordan’s favor if he could show that our biological fitness functions amount to truth. He can’t, because such reductionnism is not realistic, and because it’d be silly to say that our coccyx is some kind of truth bearer.

    If that’s correct, then here’s my prognosis. Sam is throwing atheist crap, Philip overplays his hand, and Jordan’s just trying to hide his reactionary programme behind of façade of socio-biology.

    Were I a judge, I’d say Philip wins, because he’s the only one to have cited the Stanford entry, he quoted what he criticized, and he ends with a challenge.

  71. Willard says:

    > However, within the mathematical framework, mathematics can produce actual truths.

    Yes, if we think logico-mathematical proofs as ways to preserve the truths of its basic materials when transforming them into more powerful, elegant, and meaningful constructions.

    If that’s our model of truth, then the empirical sciences don’t produce that kind of truths. One way to preserve truthlikeness in empirical sciences is to focus on knowledge as justified true belief, like Philip did. Scientific knowledge rests on the best justifications humans have ever produced.

    Science just works best. That doesn’t mean other things don’t work too. There are places where science can’t even go, and other places where there’s competition between science fields and non science fields, like ClimateBall.

    To focus on truth is less clear, because our formal tools preserve truth. Sure, there’s induction in mathematics, but it’s clearly not the same kind of induction as the one of hypothesis testing. So even the most rigorous empirical apparatus isn’t powered by the same kind of inference as the formal sciences they emulate.

    Statistics changed everything. Our minds are barely ready. Our languages are not.

  72. Steven Mosher says:

    “Some aspects of speach or song are universal, and recognized by our mirror neuron systems, (if I sounded like that it would be anger).”

    funny westerners often think chinese people are always speaking angrily

    “Here is another bit of Korean music, I would suggest that it is difficult to characterise to Western ears. The best comparison by similarity we can make is probably ‘Amazing Grace’.”

    HUH?

    did someone beat you as a child? You are definately missing some key human parts if you thought that was like amazing grace. If you dont get what the song is about watch the dance. How can you not see?

  73. Steven Mosher says:

    “Science just works best. That doesn’t mean other things don’t work too. There are places where science can’t even go, ”

    As always, willard puts it best.

  74. Steven Mosher says:

    That piece on Anger Willard was quite nice.

    Also
    My sense is that you could do a great service by walking people through two dogmas.

    I know there are some great paragraphs that we just quote, but to gronk the whole argument and its importance takes more that just citing it. Im too rusty to do it

  75. Willard says:

    Thanks, but I only take responsibility for the second sentence. The first is XKCD‘s, and the third is adapted from Star Trek.

    Here’s a silly idea. Suppose scientists were forbidden to use the word “true.” What would they do?

    We should suspect they’d be able to do science nonetheless.

    More on that later.

  76. Everett F Sargent says:

    SM sez …
    “He talks for example about liking “living color” versus the atomic weight of carbon. at one end we have the realm of pure taste.”

    It, the band, is actually called Living Colour
    http://www.livingcolour.com/
    (I checked, because either speaker, their “so called” English accents, oh boy don’t go there, anyways, Living Colour just completed a UK tour (had to also look that one up, to be sure, so that 1+1=2 and not 3 as someone like Peterson would claim in their own gibberish language equations of intellectual thought)) …

    And, believe it or not, I posted their “Cult of Personality” video BEFORE watching any of the videos that ATTP mentioned.

    Peterson is just another Cult of Personality (or bump or pimple) on the road that is called humanity.

    Do non-STEMers have an intellectual place anymore? I take great pride in my STEM intellectual status.

  77. Mal Adapted says:

    izen:

    The usual example of that would be Haldane’s rabbit fossil in the Cambrian. But the argument that science is the best way of detecting the supernatural is used [as?] a ‘rational’ justification for the A Prior assumption of science. That it is methodologically superior to other methods. Not because any scientists expects to find something supernatural.

    Huh. It still sounds like you’re saying that science is a method for detecting the supernatural, even if scientists don’t expect to find something supernatural. Whereas IIUC, methodological naturalism rules out the supernatural at the outset. Confronted with a seemingly inexplicable observation, a methodological naturalist simply assumes that a lawful explanation has yet to be found, and keeps looking for it. IOW, “it’s a miracle” is never anything but an argument from personal incredulity.

    I’ve always avoided claiming that science can detect the supernatural. As a ‘dictionary’ atheist, i.e. “a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods”, I never tell theists that the non-existence of their God can be proven. My epistemological model is Russell’s Teapot: that is, I reject “the idea that the burden of proof lies upon the skeptic to disprove a claim, whether in general or of any religion.”

    izen:

    …science will develop any number of post-hoc explanations for difficult observations to avoid any hint of supernatural influence.

    Some of then may even be correct.

    If you’re describing the normal consequence, within the culture of science, of

    If an apparent ‘miracle’ cannot be explained by previously verified laws, it’s both more parsimonious and more fruitful to assume that additional natural laws await discovery than that “God did it.”

    Then OK ;^)!

  78. Steven Mosher says:

    Living Color
    not bad,

    but cult of personality was their best

  79. Willard,

    Science just works best. That doesn’t mean other things don’t work too. There are places where science can’t even go, and other places where there’s competition between science fields and non science fields, like ClimateBall.

    Yes, of course.

  80. Mal Adapted says:

    Willard:

    Suppose scientists were forbidden to use the word “true.” What would they do?

    Flip off whomever tells them that?

    I, for one, sometimes find it useful in Internet slapfightsdiscussions to distinguish ‘truth’ from ‘Truth’.

  81. Steven Mosher says:

    “Do non-STEMers have an intellectual place anymore? I take great pride in my STEM intellectual status.”

    weirdly I see no STEMers suggesting a controlled experiment to determine the answer to the question. In short, the style of thinking ( call it conceptual analysis as Willard does) that we use to establish the superiority of STEM ( who would doubt it?) is decidedly NOT what any one of us would call “scientific”.

    So the point isnt so much about STEMers versus non STEMers, but rather that we argue for the superiotrity of STEM type thinking, using decideldy non STEM methods.

  82. Willard says:

    > Flip off whomever tells them that?

    Like this

    (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

    ?

    More seriously, Mal – find a scientific paper that uses the word “true.” I bet we could replace it with something like “relevant.”

    More generally, I don’t think to say that our established scientific theories are true clarifies anything.

    Think about it – if a theory T is held true at some point P but we end up revising it later on, does it mean that what was once true is now false? If that’s the case, you must accept that truth is relative to the current state of knowledge under consideration.

    Either you bypass the paradoxes of truth or you embrace them. Which horn do you choose?

  83. Magma says:

    McVittie is a Senior Lecturer in Music Theatre at Falmouth University.

    [I know ATTP has requested that the focus be on ideas, not people, but I’d have to overcome significant personal bias to objectively assess anything from Peterson, since from what I have seen elsewhere he appears to be a self-promoting academic grifter who recently realized he can cash in on bigotry. Instead, I think I’ll browse through the recently released Climate Science Special Report to see what’s new.]

  84. izen says:

    @-SM
    “did someone beat you as a child? You are definately missing some key human parts if you thought that was like amazing grace. If you dont get what the song is about watch the dance. How can you not see?”

    Okay I have watched the dance, and I still think Amazing Grace is as close as I can get.
    I guess I am missing some key human parts, the melodic cadences, while modal, follow the same pattern as Amazing Grace. Its melodic phrases, (up-down) are common to much folk music as it is easy to learn and sing with others in a group.
    This is the problem with intuitionism, it is rarely universal, but the excuse for that is to blame the individual.

    @-“funny westerners often think chinese people are always speaking angrily”

    English speakers often think the Italians and Spanish are having an argument until they learn the language. But that may have more to do with cultural traditions of how much hand-waving talking requires.

  85. Everett F Sargent says:

    RE: grifter

    Cult of Personality (lyrics) by Living Colour

    “Look in my eyes, what do you see?
    The cult of personality
    I know your anger, I know your dreams
    I’ve been everything you want to be
    I’m the cult of personality
    Like Mussolini and Kennedy
    I’m the cult of personality
    The cult of personality
    The cult of personality
    Neon lights, a Nobel Prize
    Then a mirror speaks, the reflection lies
    You don’t have to follow me
    Only you can set me free
    I sell the things you need to be
    I’m the smiling face on your T.V.
    I’m the cult of personality
    I exploit you still you love me
    I tell you one and one makes three
    I’m the cult of personality
    Like Joseph Stalin and Gandhi
    I’m the cult of personality
    The cult of personality
    The cult of personality
    Neon lights a Nobel Prize
    A leader speaks, that leader dies
    You don’t have to follow me
    Only you can set you free
    You gave me fortune
    You gave me fame
    You gave me power in your own god’s name
    I’m every person you need to be
    Oh, I’m the cult of personality
    I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of
    I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of personality”

    The two most important lines IMHO?
    “Only you can set me free”
    (lead singer at that point is playing the part of a grifter seeking fame)

    … and …

    “Only you can set you free”
    (lead singer at that point is playing the part of what should be every free thinking human being)

    At the end of that video, the child turns off the TV. Why? I think its because she sees what social media really is.

  86. Mal Adapted says:

    Willard:

    Like this

    (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

    ?

    Uh. Maybe, if I knew what that was.

  87. Magma says:

    @ Mal: ‘flipping the table’ emoticon

  88. izen says:

    @-SM
    What do you get from the dance in this?

  89. Willard says:

    > flipping the table

    More precisely, its angry version. Because, oriental symbols are angrier.

    One way to counter it by putting the tables back:

    ┬──┬ ¯\_(ツ)

    or

    ┬─┬ノ( º _ ºノ)

    Emoticons are interesting because they communicate emotions through code.

    ***

    Here could a counter-example to my thought experiment:

    The Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary ~65.5 million years ago marks one of the three largest mass extinctions in the past 500 million years. The extinction event coincided with a large asteroid impact at Chicxulub, Mexico, and occurred within the time of Deccan flood basalt volcanism in India. Here, we synthesize records of the global stratigraphy across this boundary to assess the proposed causes of the mass extinction. Notably, a single ejecta-rich deposit compositionally linked to the Chicxulub impact is globally distributed at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. The temporal match between the ejecta layer and the onset of the extinctions and the agreement of ecological patterns in the fossil record with modeled environmental perturbations (for example, darkness and cooling) lead us to conclude that the Chicxulub impact triggered the mass extinction.

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2010Sci…327.1214S

    Source: MT.

  90. Eli Rabett says:

    Are neural net results independent of their programming language?

  91. Vinny Burgoo says:

    SM: ‘but cult of personality was their best’

    Nope.

  92. Joshua says:

    Vinny –

    Nope. And completely in topic to boot.

  93. Joshua says:

    Everything is possible but nothing is real.

  94. Morbeau says:

    ” I’d have to overcome significant personal bias to objectively assess anything from Peterson, since from what I have seen elsewhere he appears to be a self-promoting academic grifter who recently realized he can cash in on bigotry. ”

    I have to make that caveat too.

    I wanted to add that Peterson’s MO could be instructive. I think he’s said that his early academic years were focussed on Apologetics, and it seems that’s really what he’s trading on today: offering rationales to people who haven’t got one, unless you count shouty slogans. He’s a dramatic example because he’s raised serious money, but how is he fundamentally different from a Judith Curry or Matt Ridley, whose stock in trade is also about providing wise-sounding talking points for a group of political followers? It all looks like grift to me.

  95. Mal Adapted says:

    @ Mal: ‘flipping the table’ emoticon

    Ah. I was using ‘flip off’ in the sense of ‘make an obscene gesture toward’.

  96. Philip Moriarty says:

    I’m really pleased that the exchange with Fred has generated this much discussion. It’s worth watching the hangout right at the end of the debate — if by that point you’re not heartily sick of listening to me waffle on interminably — to get a true (*ahem) representation of Fred’s position re. Peterson. I don’t think Fred will mind me saying that he’s certainly not a particular fan of Peterson’s Chopra-esque babblings.

    I am also over the moon that the relevance of Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality” was twigged by @Everett F Sargent (November 5, 2017 at 6:49 pm). It wasn’t entirely coincidental that I mentioned Living Colour during a debate about Peterson…

  97. Everett F Sargent says:

    Are neural net results independent of their programming language?

    Six conditionals …

    (1) Are neural net results independent of their hardware platform? Assume yes.
    (2) Are neural net codes binary identical at the lowest level (machine code of 1’s and 0’s) using different programming languages? Assume yes (this, of course. locks you into a specific hardware platform).
    (3) Any PRNG usage is deterministic and identical between codes (same seeds used at and throughout execution)? Assume yes.
    (4) Any inputs are identical and transcribed into identical machine code)? Assume yes.
    (5) Are there any ‘so called’ coding errors? Assume yes.
    (6) Are their any other conditionals? Assume no.
    (7) Go to (5). By the time your code is ‘so called’ error free either the hardware or programming language software had been updated or ‘so called’ fixed, go to (1).

    Build only the hardware for a robot (i. e. birth a dead body). Turn it on (i. e. animate it). Wait 18 years or so, because there’s a time and a place for everything, and it’s called college (in the meantime, don’t warp its fragile little mind).

  98. Joshua says:

    Hmmm. May need to revise what I wrote earlier about “just knowing” about emotions evoked by music:

    https://www.cbsnews.com/videos/i-just-had-these-melodies-and-ideas-in-my-head/

  99. Harry Twinotter says:

    Wow! Quite the thread. I tend to agree with Philip Moriarty; I find it hard to know what Jordan Peterson is saying. But I do like Jordan Peterson’s stand on free speech as a better alternative to physical conflict.

    Was it Sir Karl Popper who said just because ideas might be considered “unscientific”, does not necessarily mean that they are not useful? I cannot find the reference to be sure.

  100. Willard says:

  101. Everett F Sargent says:

    HT sez …
    “But I do like Jordan Peterson’s stand on free speech as a better alternative to physical conflict.”

    I call shenanigans, hmm err, straw person (must be PC-Egalitarian, don’t you know). A lot of things are a “better alternative to physical conflict.” D’oh!

    Peterson only sees ‘reds under his bed’ which is s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o 1950’s type of thinking.

    He lost his 5-year public grant funding (Ontario) for one very stupid reason.

    … and I quote …

    “We will produce and perfect measures of liberalism, conservatism and radical left-wing political thought, and examine them in relationship to personality, general cognitive ability, creativity and fundamental demographic factors.”

    … that’s just the 1st whiff … his strikeout, or coup de grâce if you prefer, was this one though …

    “The production of these measures should have a substantive effect on scientific work in a variety of errors, judging by the results of our previous work.”

    The word “errors” should be “areas” but just read that sentence as is. Knowing what I know of Peterson (which, trust me, is immense) I chose to read that sentence, as is, literally and not figuratively.

    Call the whambulance because Peterson just sunk his own battleship.

    Abraham Lincoln is a commie.
    Susan B Anthony is a commie.
    FDR is a commie.
    Rosa Parks is a commie
    LBJ is a commie.
    MLK is a commie.

    So now Peterson gets all his funding from the white trash private sector. Fancy that.

    I have much more to dish with respect to one of his current PhD students who is currently engaged in some rather very strange scholarship (or should I say lack thereof in the peer reviewed published academic literature).

    For some reason Peterson very much reminds me of Trump.

  102. Steven Mosher says:

    here everet. watch the whole thing. latest and greatest.

  103. Steven Mosher says:

    Hmm

    This is such a horrible misreading of peterson I dont know where to begin.

  104. Steven Mosher says:

    “Wow! Quite the thread. I tend to agree with Philip Moriarty; I find it hard to know what Jordan Peterson is saying. ”

    Not really hard to understand if you have the right training

  105. Steven Mosher says:

    Vinnie, close, but I dont think that has the same edge.

  106. Philip Moriarty says:

    @Stephen Mosher. “Not really hard to understand if you have the right training”

    Hmmm. That sounds suspiciously similar to what Sokal was told about the postmodernists after he submitted his “Social Text” hoax. “You’re just not working on a high enough intellectual plane”.

    Instead of just bluntly making an assertion (a la Peterson), could you explain just where I “misread” Peterson, in clear, unambiguous language that even an “untrained” lowly physicist like myself can understand?

    By the way, did you listen to the exchange between Harris and Peterson? Or the Joe Rogan interview linked above. For the latter, I particularly liked the following Chopra-esque witterings from Peterson:

    ——-
    “It’s an harmonious balancing of multiple layers of being…”
     
    “Religious writings are guidelines to that mode of being…they’re hyper-true or meta-true”

    “Your brain is attuned to telling you this … when you have an intimation of meaning then you know you’re there”
     
    “The music is modelling the manner of being that’s harmonious”
    ——-

    It’s like they were delivered straight from wisdomofchopra.com ….

  107. Steven Mosher says:

    Izen,

    That dance is a mess. Dont confuse the proposition That some expressions can speak the truth clearly for the proposition that they all must.

  108. izen says:

    @-SM
    ” Dont confuse the proposition That some expressions can speak the truth clearly for the proposition that they all must.”

    Not universal or absolute that can be applied to all people then.

  109. Steven Mosher says:

    izen hag sy then ghd

    get it?

  110. Everett F Sargent says:

    SM sez …
    “Not really hard to understand if you have the right training”

    Thank the doG almighty then, because if one were to have the ‘so called’ right training, then humanity has figured out how to reverse time. Please get of at the next stop circa 1850’s.

  111. izen says:

    @-SM
    If you want a ‘universal’, as used in your Korean ‘sad’ song here is a possible element.

  112. Steven Mosher says:

    ” Again, this seems odd. I think the examples related to smallpox vaccines and nuclear weapons. However, scientific truths associated with these topics don’t necessarily depend on how we choose to use them.”

    ATTP, let me see if I can give you a more clear exposition of his position.

    he says the proposition that the universe is BEST conceptualized as sub atomic particles was true enough ( all science is true enough, not certain) to generate the bomb, But not true enough ( incomplete) to prevent us from using it. And from a darwinian perspective, as a PRAGMATIC matter it was lacking something and therefore wrong in some sort of fundamental way.

    Now, This is an old argument, not a post modern argument at all, I will give you the historical source
    @Phillip can listen in as well. Its not a matter of being on a higher intellectual plane. Its just reading more of our intellectual history.

    Let me start of by saying I think he pushes it a bit far, but lets see if we can in simple language unpack it.

    1. There is a psoition that holds that the best way to conceptualize the universe is as a collection of particles. basically materialism, naive materialism.
    2. As well there is a belief that this approach to the world gives us understanding and power over the world.
    3. As a part of this world view knowledge, the pursuit of knowledge is good. All knowledge is good and all knowledge is knowledge of this physical world obtained by the methods of science.

    So ya the enlightenment

    What peterson points out is NOT taht this physical knowledge is wrong, not that we cannot look at the world as particle, but rather he points out how this misses something, and thus is fundamentally wrong in some way.

    the darwian point is as follows. if we think, as some do, that our intellegence is the result of natural selection and has adaptive value BECAUSE it is isomorphic with or reprsents “reality”, then we have the following problem. What can we say about the adaptive value of human scientific understanding IF it results in the destruction of the species. In the end if we destroy the earth and leave only the lowly cockroach, what is the adaptive value of gray matter. The cockroach looks like the genius at least from a evolutionary stand point.

    What Peterson is challenging is the ultimate and fundamental usefullness of scientific knowledge. he is questioning in some sense the morality of knowing. he looks post modern to you all because of the way he is attacking enlightenment values, but he is not attacking them from a moral relativist position or POMO perspective, but rather from a medievalist position or pre englightenment perspective.

    So what is the old story that questions the morality of knowledge? Basically the Faust story, especially the Chapbook version ( pre englightenment version is basically a morality play). For a good historical account of the theme See Erich Heller’s work on Fausts damnation and the morality of knowledge.

    Now, what to make of this argument? That is a whole different matter, but the first job is to try to place it historically. he is questioning that man is is fundamentally a Knowing thing ( in the sciency meaning of the term) . Questioning that when we know the world in a scientific way that we have understood all there is to understand, or understood the world in a fundamentally human way, a meaningful way.

    From his perspective the “stories” tell us more important truths than the scientific approach.

    there isnt anything special or unique or new or post modern about his perspective. It’s an old argument. One side ( the epistemology is first types) tend to ask the question ‘what can I know”
    The other side ( the metaphysical types) ask the question ‘what is this knowing thing”,

    that was too long

  113. Steven Mosher says:

    Izen, Universal is your word. Like I said, I would definately avoid it. Its not every useful. primarily because there are some folks ( ahem) who are missing certain bits.

  114. Philip Moriarty says:

    @StephenMosher

    Thanks for the long response, which provided absolutely no more insight into Peterson’s position, I’m afraid.

    “there isnt anything special or unique or new or post modern about his perspective. It’s an old argument”

    Indeed. And I make this point time and again throughout the exchange with Fred.

    ” he looks post modern to you all because of the way he is attacking enlightenment values, but he is not attacking them from a moral relativist position or POMO perspective, but rather from a medievalist position or pre englightenment perspective.”

    I’ll ask again — have you listened to Peterson’s exchange with Harris? Peterson himself doesn’t know what he’s saying most of the time. It’s obscurantism and obfuscation at its finest — he really gives Chopra a run for his money throughout.

    Peterson claims that empirical truths are “nested within” moral truths. My question throughout the exchange with Fred was why I should place “moral truths” (no matter how they might be defined) on a higher footing than empirical “truths”. Exactly like Peterson in that debate with Harris, and despite the snarkiness about “our intellectual history”, you’ve failed to address that point.

    I’ll ask again: on what basis should I place moral truths (by which Peterson means religions mythology) on a higher footing than empirical measurement? ATTP asks the same question. And it’s yet to be addressed.

    I look forward to your historically informed and clear explanation. Thanks.

  115. Steven,
    I agree with Philip. I don’t see how what you’ve said clarifies anything. In my view, the reality of a nuclear weapon, or a vaccine, does not depend on how we might choose to use it. Of course, that reality also doesn’t necessarily define how we might use it, but that’s essentially the point. How we use something is largely independent of what that thing might be capable of doing. Of course, we would – ideally – take into account what that thing can do when deciding whether or not to use it, but that decision doesn’t then influence the reality of whatever it is that we’re considering using.

  116. Everett F Sargent says:

    Ah, now I get it. The ‘right training’ means you’ve studied all the past works of now dead philosophers (religious or mythical or otherwise).

    Could be a straw person, but until someone here, they know who they are, provides a unambiguous definition of ‘right training’, I’ll just go with the above Dead Philosophers Society shtick.

  117. Fred says:

    Good morning. It’s so great to see such an informed discussion taking place around the debate between Philip and myself. Thanks to all for adding so helpfully to that conversation, and indeed to my own understanding.
    As one or two folk have mentioned, Peterson isn’t the easiest person to ‘unpack’ and I would agree that a lot of what he says seems pretty vacuous. In the spirit of generosity I tried in this debate to give my best reading of what I thought his ideas were as they pertained to ‘truth’, specifically within the context of his conversation with Sam Harris, but would fully acknowledge that I’ve not done him justice. In his defence though, I don’t think his language is always as opaque or ‘Chopraesque’ as it’s being painted. As I mentioned in my Closing Statement, a lot of the language in the humanities is tricky, and just because it might come off as needlessly obscure that doesn’t mean it is. Also, a lot of humanities writing is closer to literature than to science, so we shouldn’t really expect it to work in the same way or to foster knowledge and understanding through the same processes.
    In some ways I feel that placing ‘truth’ at the centre of the discussion was a bit of a red herring; it caused problems in the Peterson/Harris conversation and did something similar in the debate between Philip and I. This is why, in the latter sections, I opened it out a little to a discussion of ‘scholarship’, which I think is a more inclusive frame to place around it. I suspect that a lot of discussions which try to incorporate research in the sciences and in the humanities would get similarly bogged down if something like ‘truth’ was the only metric.

  118. Fred,
    Thanks for the comment. This I can understand

    As I mentioned in my Closing Statement, a lot of the language in the humanities is tricky, and just because it might come off as needlessly obscure that doesn’t mean it is. Also, a lot of humanities writing is closer to literature than to science, so we shouldn’t really expect it to work in the same way or to foster knowledge and understanding through the same processes.

    I can see that some is just meant to be writing that maybe evokes some kind of response; makes us think, for example. However, the problem is when some seems to be trying to uncover some knowledge/truth (my terminology may not be ideal, but hopefully you know what I mean) but that is still obscure and unclear. When I have encountered this, I also find any attempt to clarify things futile; it’s as if you’re expected to understand it and if you don’t then that’s your problem. I find this odd because I think that an important part of scholarship is making your ideas accessible; you can find many places where people try to explain physics concepts. Not all of it is good, but there are plenty of examples of people explaining complex topics in ways that are accessible.

    So the issue – in my view – is not that some of the humanities is not always trying to uncover knowledge, it’s the bits that appear to be attempting to do so, but that make no real sense.

  119. Everett F Sargent says:

    “Its not every useful. primarily because there are some folks (ahem) who are missing certain bits.”

    Wow! Just WOW!!!

    Another ambiguous wordplay. Your ambiguous attempts to “talk down” to this audience are NOT working.

    I’m not the grammar police or even a cryptographer, but seriously, someone here needs to explain their behavior in this thread in somewhat of a short order.

    Otherwise, they are starting to waste other people’s time and effort.

    As I stated earlier in this thread …

    “Clarity of language is very important and overrides all other means of communication.”

    It is not an option, it is a requirement.

  120. Everett,
    Unfortunately, in my experience, a key aspect of discussions about why physicists (for example) don’t understand the humanities is claims that the physicists simply just don’t get it, or aren’t trying hard enough. I’ve got somewhat used to being told that (probably because it is almost certainly partly true 😉 )

  121. Steven Mosher says:

    “Hmmm. That sounds suspiciously similar to what Sokal was told about the postmodernists after he submitted his “Social Text” hoax. “You’re just not working on a high enough intellectual plane”.

    Instead of just bluntly making an assertion (a la Peterson), could you explain just where I “misread” Peterson, in clear, unambiguous language that even an “untrained” lowly physicist like myself can understand?

    i’m not a fan of clear and unambiguous language. It hides too much. But I will try to make it more accessible..

    Peterson is not POMO. It’s not a matter of me working on a “higher plane”, just a matter of familarization with the long history of positions like his and an inkling of how folks with a metaphysical bent ( as opposed to epistemological bent) approach things.

    I cued up the video to the relevant text. And for ATTP I went through the text. What he is challenging, it seems, is the belief that the purely physical understanding of the universe is the BEST representation or the most fundamental one, or the most meaningful one. he is not questioning that ‘physics” is wrong as you seem to suggest ; but rather argues that it misses something that is perhaps more fundamental.
    When he mentions the bomb and darwin, he is arguing that since the knowledge may lead to our destruction that from a PRAGMATIC ( his word) perspective and darwinian perspective maybe the approach that focuses on the physical understanding of the world misses something fundamental and important. As I pointed out this is an old argument ( a pre englightenment argument), basically the argument of the earliest faust story. The quest for knowledge leads to Fausts damnation. he trades his soul for knowledge ( After the englightenment in the marlow version, the story has to change )

    The other piece you are missing is the difference between the metaphysical approach to philosophy and the epistemological approach. The best way to explain this is to ask which question comes first? Questions of Being ( what is there ) or questions of knowledge ( what do we know )
    For the most part your education has happened in the cartesian branch of thought, in the epsistemological branch where questions of knowledge come first. First we look at what we can know, how we know it, and then we look at what is. Man is just another object in the world.
    Peterson works out of the metaphysical line. basically “what is this thing that is trying to know?”
    For him the metaphysical questions come first. the questions of what it means to be human come first. For the most part when it comes to articulating how things are known in this line of thought, the appeals tend to be ” you just see it” ‘ you are built to see it ( his evolutionary twist ), or when you see these truths it is like you are ‘remembering’ them. The appeals tend to be “intuitionistic”

    It’s not post modern. to be sure it shares certain qualities with POMO. primarily it shares an animus toward englightenment notions about the program of scientific knowledge. But its nothing like POMO. POMO would look at the uncertainty in science and argue that there is no objective truth, OR that there are multiple equally valid “truths” or that it is all a social construct. Peterson wants to argue ( like a mediavalist) that there is a deeper truth, and meta truth, about us as humans that is revealled in “religion”. So same target as POMO –englightenment and scientism– but different tactics and different endgames.

    So when you misread him I’d suggest its because of a lack of familiarity with the core texts on all three sides of this discussion and a lack of familiarity with the conceptual frameworks . FWIW its not worth the time to learn it.

    last.. Translations:

    Now having a small taste of what peterson things is Prior ( questions of being, questions of what is man ) do the sentences seem a bit more Accessible? The ideas cannot be made ‘clear’ by langauge, rather they tend to reside “outside” language.

    “It’s an harmonious balancing of multiple layers of being…”

    “Religious writings are guidelines to that mode of being…they’re hyper-true or meta-true”

    “Your brain is attuned to telling you this … when you have an intimation of meaning then you know you’re there”

    “The music is modelling the manner of being that’s harmonious”

    Multiple layers of “being”. Typically these types of locations refer to the many various ways you ‘face’ your experience. ways of being in the world. As a knowing thing, as a thing in time and space, as a social thing, as a thing that will die, as a thing that has feelings, as a thing that wants meaning and purpose. As a thing that suffers, as a thing that recognizes its finitude. As a thing that wants to know its origin. These are ways of being, layers of “being”. there are multiple layers of being. A layer of “being” is just a mode of facing your experience.

    The religious ‘experience’ is just that experience where everything just comes together. Where one senses ‘this’ is the way it all fits and works. He calls it “hyper true”. Note that he cannot use the language of epistemology. There cant be reasons for holding this true ( that would be your style of epistemology ) . there cant be arguments for hold it true. Its just foundational. Recognized to be true. This way of seeing the truth is just immediate. Like when you know the song is sad, or when you know the sky is beautiful. Think of the famous line in Keats Ode on a grecian urn.
    The difficulty of course with this kind of knowledge is that it is extra-linguistic. Try to put it in words and it just doesnt make sense. So you will find that they tend to point to things like music to make their points or use musical metaphors.

  122. Steven Mosher says:

    ““Clarity of language is very important and overrides all other means of communication.”

    You tend to take a very utilitarian view of language. Comunication is just one thing we do with language. It’s the least interesting means of communication.

  123. Steven,

    What he is challenging, it seems, is the belief that the purely physical understanding of the universe is the BEST representation or the most fundamental one, or the most meaningful one. he is not questioning that ‘physics” is wrong as you seem to suggest ; but rather argues that it misses something that is perhaps more fundamental.

    Except this seems like a strawperson. I think physicists would argue that there can be a fundamental description of something like nuclear reactions AND a fundamental description of how we – as a society – might respond to such knowledge. I don’t really see how one is more, or less, fundamental than the other; they’re describing different things.

    It’s not post modern. to be sure it shares certain qualities with POMO.

    This sounds like a technicality. Maybe there is some very clear definition of POMO that means that what Peterson is doing doesn’t qualify. However, from my perspective, it seems close enough that such a distinction is rather irrelevant.

  124. Steven,

    You tend to take a very utilitarian view of language. Comunication is just one thing we do with language. It’s the least interesting means of communication.

    I agree. On the other hand, if your goal is to actually communicate some kind of information and many don’t understand what you’re trying to say, maybe you should try to be clearer. As I’ve said already, if your goal is to evoke a response, but not necessarily to provide information, maybe being obscure is a good thing. It’s hard to see value, though, in claiming to do the former, while actually doing the latter.

  125. Philip Moriarty says:

    @StevenMosher

    I’ll get back to your other points later but just for now, this is important:

    >>”he is not questioning that ‘physics” is wrong as you seem to suggest ”

    He most definitely is. The problem with Peterson is that, just like the best/worst (depending on your perspective) of the postmodernists, his arguments are dressed up in willfully obscure language. (I’d love to know what Feynman would make of Peterson’s needless verbiage).

    Here’s what Peterson had to say to Harris:

    —————
    Time-stamp:: 1:28:40
     
    Harris: “The rightness or wrongness of the claim is not going to be adjudicated by whether we survive as a species…[snip]
     
    Yes, this whole effort can be wisely guided or not but whether it’s widely guided or not does not change the factual legitimacy of any of those claims.”
     
    Peterson: “Yes, it might…”
    —————-

    “Yes, it might”. In other words, the moral framework has the potential to modify the factual legitimacy of the science.

    I’ll ask again (for the third time), have you listened to the entirety of the exchange with Harris? If not, I thoroughly recommend you do so.

    Here’s more nonsense from Peterson. (Again, ask yourself “What would Feynman say?”…)

    —————-

    Harris: “Our concept of the truth value of any given statement can’t be held hostage to its ultimate result for the survival of the species in the end.”
     
    Peterson: “Yes, yes. I think it can. That’s where we disagree. I could be sitting in a room in my house and say “Well, there’s no fire in this room. And the rest of the house could be on fire. And it’s factually true that there’s no fire in this room. But as a theory it’s a pretty stupid one.”

    Harris (increasingly exasperated): “But that’s just an incomplete, and an inconsequentially incomplete, description of your situation.”
     
    Peterson: “That’s exactly my point”.
     
    Harris: “But it was still true to say that there was no fire in your room. The fire was outside your room.”
     
    Peterson: “Well, yeah, it was true. Nested in a larger truth of falsehood”.

    ——-

    “Nested in a larger truth of falsehood”.

    Sheesh.

  126. Steven Mosher says:

    “Unfortunately, in my experience, a key aspect of discussions about why physicists (for example) don’t understand the humanities is claims that the physicists simply just don’t get it, or aren’t trying hard enough. I’ve got somewhat used to being told that (probably because it is almost certainly partly true 😉 )”

    How many times have we told pat Frank that he just doesnt get it, or told him to read harder, or read the science, or do his own science.

    Now I personaly consider the stuff to be pretty useless to me now as a left that world back in 1985. But, I do know that if you want to understand it ( just like differential equations lets say ) that you dont just pick it up in an afternoon. It does take work. I’m not suggesting you waste your time doing it as I did. But just suggesting that you wont understand it by reading google or by reaidng the stanford diction of philosophy or by reading secondary texts, or by listening to feynman.

    Ya gotta read the primary texts, and generally speaking, it will be a waste of time for you.

  127. Steven,

    But, I do know that if you want to understand it ( just like differential equations lets say ) that you dont just pick it up in an afternoon. It does take work.

    I agree, with caveats. If I want to understand some aspect of the humanities that has no relevance (or little relevance) to my own work, then I should put some effort in to understanding what it is all about. On the other hand, if someone in the humanities starts saying things about an area that is close to the area in which I work, I shouldn’t have to do this; I should already be able to understand what they’re saying, given that the context is already familiar to me. If I have to put a lot of effort into understanding what they’ve said; then they’re probably not being clear enough. Also, if what they’ve said (as Philip highlights) appears fundamentally wrong, I shouldn’t need to dig into it to work out if maybe there was some subtlety that I’ve missed; they should be able to say it in a way that doesn’t appear to be fundamentally wrong.

  128. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Philip Moriarty stressed the epistimology of empiricism, which just means that truth emerges through collecting data, making observations, and testing hypotheses – the scientific method, essentially. Fred McVittie argued, in his closing statement, that some scholarship in the humanities doesn’t conform to this epistimology of empiricism. “

    It seems to me there are branches of science that try to make progress in other ways, for instance a lot of work in cosmology (e.g. eternal inflation, multiverse and perhaps string theory are not that amenable to observation and hypothesis testing, but I would regard them as being science nevertheless, so it seems reasonable to me that people working in the humanities should be able to pursue “pure thought” type research as well, where appropriate.

    [caveat, may contain uninformed opinion]
    For example, for me the justification for the Golden rule isn’t so much that it is a good idea in practice, but that it is a logical conclusion of assuming that none of us has a privileged ethical position (in the sense that the Earth has no privileged position in the universe). This seems to be the sort of thing Decartes was aiming for with his “Je pense, donc je suis” thing (and not getting very far) and Spinoza’s Ethics (which I don’t understand – I am more of a Bertie Wooster than a Jeeves ;o).
    [/caveat]

  129. Dikran,
    Yes, there are some areas of cosmology that may not make testable predictions, which some would argue is not science (I don’t agree with that either). However, they are still trying to find ways to explain actual observations.

  130. Steven Mosher says:

    “I’ll get back to your other points later but just for now, this is important:

    >>”he is not questioning that ‘physics” is wrong as you seem to suggest ”

    He most definitely is. The problem with Peterson is that, just like the best/worst (depending on your perspective) of the postmodernists, his arguments are dressed up in willfully obscure language. (I’d love to know what Feynman would make of Peterson’s needless verbiage).”

    Read harder. He is nothing like a Post modernist. This resembles so many debates that I have with climate science deniers who simply dont know the literature they are refering to. His approach to the limits of science are diametrical opposed to POMO in every way possible.

    yes, they share a style of explication that confuses you. But that is the most trivial form of similarity.
    Thats like saying fluid dynamics is like particle physics because they both use variables.

    the language isnt willfully obscure. I dont know what kind of lab experiment you would do to test for willfullness, or how you read his mind. What he says makes perfect sense to me. I disagree, but I get what he is gesturing at with language.

  131. the language isnt willfully obscure. I dont know what kind of lab experiment you would do to test for willfullness, or how you read his mind. What he says makes perfect sense to me. I disagree, but I get what he is gesturing at with language.

    Hold on, I wasn’t referring to Peterson when I said obscure. I can understand what Peterson is saying, it just doesn’t make much sense and seems inconsistent. Maybe it’s not actually PoMo, but it seems to be some variant of that.

  132. Steven Mosher says:

    “It seems to me there are branches of science that try to make progress in other ways, for instance a lot of work in cosmology (e.g. eternal inflation, multiverse and perhaps string theory are not that amenable to observation and hypothesis testing, but I would regard them as being science nevertheless, so it seems reasonable to me that people working in the humanities should be able to pursue “pure thought” type research as well, where appropriate.”

    I was oing to mention the string theory thing. Muller and I have this debate every so often. he is just admament in his opinion that string theory is not science. I view it as interesting storytelling.
    The other way to put it is that we have different ways of making sense of things. If you want to make sense of how things move around the universe, well then physics beats everything. if you want to make sense of your life, equations and lab experiments might not be the only approach.

  133. Everett F Sargent says:

    “You tend to take a very utilitarian view of language. Comunication is just one thing we do with language. It’s the least interesting means of communication.”

    Well that’s just so much BS.

    The only purpose to communication is to understand. Do you understand that basic fact?

    Something wants to communicate something to something else. That something else desperately wants to understand what that something else is trying to communicate. The utility function of communication goes way up as an inverse function of time. Do you even get that? I think not.

    I’m here to understand. Do you understand? No, of course you don’t.

  134. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Unfortunately, in my experience, a key aspect of discussions about why physicists (for example) don’t understand the humanities is claims that the physicists simply just don’t get it, or aren’t trying hard enough”

    The other reason why people fail to understand something seems to be that they don’t think they can understand it. Perhaps a lot of this two-cultures thing stems from people protecting themselves from potential intellectual failure. We all understand humanities to some extent, just as we all understand physics to some extent, unfortunately it isn’t clear how you can calibrate the difficulty of some branch of humanities against that of some branch of science, and hence have reasonable expectations of eachother. For example, I know I will never be a good musician (I just don’t get it, rather than lack of effort), although I can play some recognizable Bach (on a good day). What would a similar level of achievement in maths be? Human nature makes us great at being partisan snobs but I doubt much of it has any real basis!

  135. Steven Mosher says:

    “Maybe it’s not actually PoMo, but it seems to be some variant of that.”

    Nope. Not a variant. I know the soft squishy, obscure, language looks like clue, but its not.

    POMOs would never be caught dead saying there was a “meta truth”

    They share a target. They target the notion that science is this exclusive, superior, unquestionable
    approach to the true.

    1. peterson is going to say there is something that is More true, or more deeply true,
    or more fundamental ( His kinda wacky “religous'” views)
    2. POMOs are going to be relativists, “multiple” “truths”

    Same opponent. Different attacks, Similar verbal style which is Tired to the world view. basically language is not a simple pointer to the world

  136. Everett F Sargent says:

    “i’m not a fan of clear and unambiguous language. It hides too much.”

    Well now, that does explain quite a lot about your general communication skills (or should I say lack thereof). You purposefully don’t want others to understand whatever it is that your trying to communicate. The hallmark of teaching is to have excellent communication skills. You are quite abjectly not a teacher.

  137. dikranmarsupial says:

    “However, they are still trying to find ways to explain actual observations.”

    I think it is a meta-thing, I don’t think Descartes was trying to explain what we observe, but the extent of the certainty we could gain from things, it is still tied to understanding ourselves, but indirectly. It is a bit like maths, a lot of pure maths doesn’t seem very empirical to me, but is nevertheless a productive academic pursuit. As I understand it, we can’t know anything by purely empirical means, it needs to be supplemented by theory, and there is a spectrum of work in the sciences from purely experimental to purely theoretical (e.g. cosmologist and maths?), so it seems reasonable that humanities should also have a spectrum. (in both sciences and humanities, I suspect there is relatively little to be gained from concentrating only on the extremes, but for some subjects that is all there is to work with).

    I’ll have to watch the videos.

  138. Fred says:

    I think one of the disparities we’re encountering comes from the fact that the sciences and the humanities address different aspects of existence. Science focusses, quite rightly, on the physical world whilst the humanities (and the arts) centre on questions of meaning and value. These latter questions are inevitably of the subject (which doesn’t necessarily mean ‘purely subjective’) but are rarely amenable to the kinds of empirical study that rests on the notion of universal objectivity.

    A trivial example might be something like a critical analysis of 1950’s American Sci-fi films such as ‘Invaders from Mars’ or ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’. These films are widely regarded as reflecting US anxiety over the ‘Red Menace’ of Soviet power but would it be correct to say this analysis is ‘true’? Scholarship which produces that kind of analysis is certainly a contribution to knowledge; once a person has been given that interpretation they see those films differently than they did before, but a formulation in which knowledge is only ever ‘justified true belief’ (with truth being that which can be empirically evidenced) doesn’t really pertain.

  139. dikranmarsupial says:

    SM “he is just admament in his opinion that string theory is not science. I view it as interesting storytelling.”

    For me it is clearly science, a rational attempt to understand the universe as it objectively is, although it is only in a position to try and work out the more plausible candidates for how it may be (at the current time). You could argue it as extended hypothesis generation.

    “The other way to put it is that we have different ways of making sense of things. If you want to make sense of how things move around the universe, well then physics beats everything. if you want to make sense of your life, equations and lab experiments might not be the only approach.”

    I certainly agree there, although I’m not sure that lives necessarily have any sense to be found.

  140. Nathan Tetlaw says:

    “..Similar verbal style which is Tired…”
    Yes, exactly 🙂
    I know it was a typo, but it amounts to my opinion, that it is a language game. A bunch of rhetorical flourishes that amount to very little. And frequently make no sense.

  141. Steven Mosher says:

    “NC: Well, here I’d be really cautious. For one thing, human language is not particularly or specifically a communication system. There are many communication systems. In fact, every animal we know, down to ants, has a communication system. And all sorts of different devices are used for communication among animals – chemical exchange, gesture, all sorts of things. And humans do have communications systems of the animal variety – human gestures, for example, are similar in many respects to the gestural communication systems of other animals. Human language is used for communication, of course, but it would be very hard to say that that’s its ‘function’.
    If human language has a function at all it’s for expression of thought. So if you just think about your own use of language, a rather small part is used for communication. Much of human language is just used to establish social relations. Suppose you go to a bar in Kyoto and you spend an evening talking to your friends. You’re not ‘communicating’. You’re rarely communicating. You’re not presenting them with any information that changes their belief systems. You’re simply engaged in a kind of social play. You’re establishing social relations and creating warm interactions or determining your relationship to someone or whatever. Or you can use language simply for play, or for its aesthetic function.”

    Language can of course be used for communication, but it’s more than that.

    The key is to understand some of the reasons why the langauge is so obscure at first. Its related to the world view is your first hint, and related to the view about ‘truth’

    .

  142. Everett F Sargent says:

    “Thats like saying fluid dynamics is like particle physics because they both use variables.”

    I must say you do provide a target rich environment. You say things that you clearly don’t have an effin’ clue about, that has always been quite clear to me, I do understand at least that much.

    Fluid dynamics? Don’t even try to go there, because you can’t go there, because you don’t have the right training. 😦

  143. Steven Mosher says:

    “For me it is clearly science, a rational attempt to understand the universe as it objectively is, although it is only in a position to try and work out the more plausible candidates for how it may be (at the current time). You could argue it as extended hypothesis generation.”

    I think we agree. I think one of the reasons we have disagreed in the past is I have a looser sense of what it means to be “rational” basicaly a “story” that givens reasons is “rational”
    As for making sense of ones life, it’s interesting that there seem to be people who make this a higher priority than others. I refer back to the other peterson video where he talks about life being suffering. he speaks to people who need a purpose or meaning. I get that. This relates to the tombstone exercise I played with the other day. Some folks want to know what they lived for. Seems
    that if they want to struggle with that question and develop a vocabulary for expressing themselves about the question, that one can just nod politely and listen and look for the first chance to exit the conversation.

  144. Fred,

    I think one of the disparities we’re encountering comes from the fact that the sciences and the humanities address different aspects of existence.

    I agree. But what we’re discussing (I think) are situations in which the humanities appears to be claiming that our understanding of the physical world is somehow influenced by societal factors (or, maybe, that the reality of the physical world depends on societal factors). In my view, suggesting that societal values will influence whether or not we utilise a vaccine is clearly true. Suggesting that the efficacy of that vaccine depends on our societal values, however, is not. There do appear to be some who suggest the latter, rather than the former.

  145. Steven Mosher says:

    “Fluid dynamics? Don’t even try to go there, because you can’t go there, because you don’t have the right training.”

    weirdly. For about 3 years I worked at a small company who’s claim to fame was forbody vortex control for aircarft. I spent a fair amount of time in the water tunnels. Company name was Eidetics

    here is a sample of our work

    http://www.icas.org/ICAS_ARCHIVE/ICAS1994/ICAS-94-3.4.3.pdf

    And ya, i worked there.
    Got my first patent there in flight simulation

    http://www.google.ch/patents/US5272652

    They tried to teach me fluid dynamics but I was too dumb. Flight mechanics was a different question. It’s just math. in the end I liked marketing better..

    But the point i was making remains. The styles are superficially similar. You really havent addressed that. Maybe you dont understand style. Maybe you can explain the key features of POMO style and petersons style?

  146. Steven Mosher says:

    “I know it was a typo, but it amounts to my opinion, that it is a language game. A bunch of rhetorical flourishes that amount to very little. And frequently make no sense.”

    We should measure how little these fourishes amount to. That’s the only way we can know something

  147. Fred says:

    “what we’re discussing (I think) are situations in which the humanities appears to be claiming that our understanding of the physical world is somehow influenced by societal factors”

    This is one of the points that Philip and I disagreed on in our interpretation of what Peterson was saying. As Philip says above, he believes that Peterson really is making a claim that the physical facts of e.g. the smallpox virus are constructed differently according to the framework of moral ‘truths’ in which they are formulated/discovered. I admit that Peterson is woolly on that point but don’t believe he’s going full-on social constructivist. He might say that empirical facts of that kind are ‘trivially true’ (his words) compared to a larger truth which includes both the physical facts and their moral implications. He’s shooting for a metaphysics of truth which, as Steven Mosher mentioned, hasn’t had much currency since the Enlightenment.

  148. Steven Mosher says:

    “You purposefully don’t want others to understand whatever it is that your trying to communicate.”

    this understanding is not something I can merely give to you through langauge.
    there is a reason for that. Think.
    The job of some teachers may be to give you understanding.
    There are other views on teaching.
    can you suggest some?

  149. Everett F Sargent says:

    Fred,

    I really do appreciate your contributions to this thread. Much clearer and much easier to understand then some folks (ahem) who are missing certain bits. I like teachers. Thank you. 🙂

  150. Steven Mosher says:

    Thank you Fred.

  151. Steven Mosher says:

    “On the other hand, if someone in the humanities starts saying things about an area that is close to the area in which I work, I shouldn’t have to do this; I should already be able to understand what they’re saying, given that the context is already familiar to me. ”

    That seems fair. So let me ask you. Do you understand the point peterson was making about nuclear bombs. Its a crazy extereme example, but Did I explain it to you in a way that you could understand– not agree with , but understand.

  152. Everett F Sargent says:

    SM sez …

    “Maybe you can explain the key features of POMO style and petersons style?”

    Oh, you will just have to believe me, mkay.

    But dare I say it? OK, I will …

    Peterson, is nothing more, or nothing less, than just another holy roller. There I said it. Peterson is just too easy to understand coming from that religious perspective.

    I started leaving the church at about the age of six (because my 2nd grade catechism described Hell rather vividly and I wanted to go to Hell myself to see it in person). I could go on, but I see no real reason to do so.

  153. Steven,

    Do you understand the point peterson was making about nuclear bombs. Its a crazy extereme example, but Did I explain it to you in a way that you could understand– not agree with , but understand.

    I believe so. However, none of it changes my view that societal decisions about whether or not to build, or use, a nuclear weapon has no relevance when it comes to the existence of nuclear reactions, the ability to build a nuclear weapon, and what that weapon could do. They are – in my view – two separate issues.

  154. Fred,

    He’s shooting for a metaphysics of truth which, as Steven Mosher mentioned, hasn’t had much currency since the Enlightenment.

    Okay, so I don’t even understand what this really means. Rather than me commenting further, maybe you could elabarate on what a “metaphysics of truth” is.

  155. Philip Moriarty says:

    @StevenMosher

    I note you still haven’t answered my question: have you listened, in full, to the ‘debate’ between Peterson and Harris? (It’s not fair to call it a debate — hence the scare quotes — given the lack of self-consistency in any of Peterson’s arguments. All Harris needs to do is point out those glaring inconsistencies and sit back and listen to Peterson flail around).

    That’s four times and counting.

    You also not-so-neatly side-stepped the central point I made. Peterson quite specifically states that the “factual legitimacy” of a claim can potentially depend on the moral framework surrounding that claim, in quite clear contradiction to your original argument that Peterson suggested no such thing?

    Would you care to comment? Or should I assume that “factual legitimacy” can mean whatever we want it to mean?

    How conveniently post-modern…

    As I state in the blog post linked below, the Cult of Peterson is sociologically fascinating.

    https://telescoper.wordpress.com/2017/08/24/conservatism-is-the-new-punk-rock-discuss/

  156. Philip Moriarty says:

    @StevenMosher

    The attempt at a distinction between the relativism of the post-modernists and Peterson is groundless because you credulously take Peterson at his word. I will suggest again (for the fifth and final time) that you take the time to listen to the exchange with Harris in full to hear for yourself the local, trivial, naive relativism that Peterson trots out time and again.

    There are so many aspects of Peterson that are fascinating. Not least among these is his championing of Sokal while propagating precisely the type of obscure, postmodern, cultural/moral relativistic nonsense that Sokal so neatly lampooned.

    ” The ideas cannot be made ‘clear’ by langauge, rather they tend to reside “outside” language.”

    Ah, that’s precious. What a wonderfully nebulous turn of phrase/get-out clause — straight from the Peterson playbook. So how am I meant to understand you if you fail to adequately communicate? Telepathy?

  157. Nathan Tetlaw says:

    “this understanding is not something I can merely give to you through langauge.
    there is a reason for that. Think.
    The job of some teachers may be to give you understanding.
    There are other views on teaching.
    can you suggest some?”

    If not language, then telepathy?
    You could do it through art or interpretive dance I suppose…

  158. Philip Moriarty says:

    @StephenMosher

    Apologies for my persistence on the Harris-Peterson debate question. That was uncalled for. I raise it simply because it’s such a very good insight into the “Emperor’s New Clothes” aspects of Peterson’s arguments (such as they are).

    Philip

  159. Philip Moriarty says:

    @StevenMosher

    Tsk. I apologise and at the same time misspell your name. Arrgh. Sorry again.

  160. izen says:

    @-Fred
    “He’s shooting for a metaphysics of truth .”

    Then he should go back to preaching to the g-d botherers who think that sort of thing is important instead of trying to apply it to the field of science where is neither needed or wanted.

  161. A general comment. If someone sees value in talking obscurly and arguing for some kind of higher truth (assuming that this is what’s being done) then – as far as I’m concerned – they are free to do so. However, I find it hard to see the value in this and would tend, mostly, to simply regard it as something worth ignoring. My own view about scholarship/research is that it should be accessible. I don’t do, and present, research so as to appeal to some specific group, I do it, and present it, to be accessible (ideally) to everyone. Of course, in specific instances, I may target some audience (colleagues who understand the terminology, for example) but that doesn’t mean that if asked to engage with some other audience that I wouldn’t then think about how to present it in a way that was accessible to that audience.

    This brings me back to what I was suggesting in the post; the idea that some of this is more about convincing others of your own ideology, than revealing some kind of underlying knowledge/truth. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with this, but it doesn’t really seem to be something that I would regard as scholarship (by which I really mean presenting the – ideally – objective results of your research).

  162. Philip Moriarty says:

    @StevenMosher

    “Do you understand the point peterson was making about nuclear bombs. Its a crazy extereme example, but Did I explain it to you in a way that you could understand– not agree with , but understand.”

    Sorry, Steven, but what i dislike about this comment is the heavily implied “You’re just not getting it” tone. This is why I keep raising the “Emperor’s New Clothes”. It’s not that we’re missing some deep message that we’re just not equipped to grasp, it’s that there really is no substance to Peterson’s arguments. The exchange with Harris makes this exceptionally clear. (Again, the parallels with criticism of Sokal’s “Social Text” hoax are striking).

  163. Joshua says:

    if you want to make sense of your life, equations and lab experiments might not be the only approach.

    Well, even though I might not be able to “make sense of [my] life,” I can take comfort that Peterson (and presumably Steven) can do so, because metaphysics.

  164. Willard says:

    > what i dislike about this comment is the heavily implied “You’re just not getting it” tone. This is why I keep raising the “Emperor’s New Clothes”.

    One does not simply whine about tone and then keep raising stuff that are meant to be offensive, Philip. You might as well replace your last paragraph with “that’s just BS.” The parallels you find with Sokal text are thiner than you presume, and one actually led you astray, because Peterson may not even presume he’s against objectivism, and because (as I said earlier in a comment you ignored) POMO isn’t even characterized by the rejection of objectivism.

    Two questions:

    Fred starts his intro by saying that Jordan doesn’t deny there’s a reality out there, and you base your first video on addressing that very question. Have you made your videos in parallel?

    What do you mean by “substance” of an argument? I don’t find that clear. Is it something “out there”?

  165. Joshua says:

    It’s not that we’re missing some deep message that we’re just not equipped to grasp, it’s that there really is no substance to Peterson’s arguments.

    It also assumes that there is logical or argumentative consistency in what Peterson says, i.e., that one part being entirely post modern is ruled out because another part of what he says isn’t. (As if everything that post modernist X says is entirely consistent). You see, if you only understood what Peterson says, you would see that it is entirely consistent, and thus nothing he says is post modernist.

  166. Joshua says:

    Fred:

    After you’ve addressed Anders’ 11:39 re explaining “metaphysics of truth, ” I’m hoping you might explain what a “moral truth” is?

  167. Willard says:

    > some of this is more about convincing others of your own ideology, than revealing some kind of underlying knowledge/truth.

    If that were the case, then I’d go with the clear and simple, not the obscure stuff. Which means that clear and simple stuff can also be used for ideology. Witness teh Donald.

    There are very simple problems about the notion of knowledge as justified true belief – they’re called Gettier problems:

    The problems are actual or possible situations in which someone has a belief that is both true and well supported by evidence, yet which — according to almost all epistemologists — fails to be knowledge. Gettier’s original article had a dramatic impact, as epistemologists began trying to ascertain afresh what knowledge is, with almost all agreeing that Gettier had refuted the traditional definition of knowledge. They have made many attempts to repair or replace that traditional definition of knowledge, resulting in several new conceptions of knowledge and of justificatory support. In this respect, Gettier sparked a period of pronounced epistemological energy and innovation — all with a single two-and-a-half page article.

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/gettier/

    Gettier’s cases are simple enough. They’re variations on the stopped clock that is correct twice a day. However, they revealed that the connection between truth and knowledge is problematic, more problematic than Philip (and Alan too) may presume.

    That’s no POMO but pure, unalduterated analytical philosophy.

  168. izen says:

    @-Joshua

    At the start of this thread I posted an alternative, and more lucidly expressed version of Peterson’s position of doubting the methods of scientific discovery from Creationists.
    They also dismiss materialism as incapable of discovering moral truth, therefore the Biblical text is superior.

    It does not surprise me to find that Peterson also claims there are more, deeper, TRUTHS to be found in Genesis than in climate science.

  169. Willard says:

    > if you only understood what Peterson says, you would see that it is entirely consistent

    Not everything that is inconsistent is POMO, you know.

    Sometimes, snark can be revealing.

  170. Willard says:

    > It does not surprise me to find that Peterson also claims there are more, deeper, TRUTHS to be found in Genesis than in climate science.

    Supper’s Ready was 27 minutes long. It has to be deep.

    Analyzing the expression “to speak the truth” should be enough to see that truth goes beyond the descriptive. Truth amounts to very little without truthfulness, as my Supper’s Ready remark illustrates. And from truthfulness it should be easy to underline the moral dimension of truth.

    There’s no dichotomy between facts and values. The facts we carve out of reality are the very ones we value. After all, reality has a well-known liberal bias.

  171. If that were the case, then I’d go with the clear and simple, not the obscure stuff. Which means that clear and simple stuff can also be used for ideology.

    Of course. One can try to reveal knowledge/truth clearly or obscurely, and one can try to influence other people’s views clearly, or obscurely. I was mainly just suggesting that I’m unconvinced that Peterson is really trying to reveal some knowledge/truth, rather than simply promoting some kind of agenda.

  172. Willard says:

    > So how am I meant to understand you if you fail to adequately communicate?

    Try that with your spouse, Philip.

    Report.

  173. Joshua says:

    Izen –

    They also dismiss materialism as incapable of discovering moral truth, therefore the Biblical text is superior.

    Yes. I don’t always want to discover moral truth, but when I do, I always consult the Bible. (It’s the world of God, doncha know). If no Bibles are handy, I look for a horoscope or throw the I Ching. Clearly they also reveal moral truth, because they’ve been around a long time (the proof of evolution). Oh, and metaphysics.

  174. Willard,

    Try that with your spouse, Philip.

    Not really equivalent, as far as I can see.

  175. Willard says:

    > Not really equivalent, as far as I can see.

    The two situations may not be the same, AT, the reasons why such remark can’t be felicitous are in both cases quite similar.

    Once you get from “could you pray tell what the hell do you mean” to “why the hell do you never make any sense,” there’s little room left to exchange anything.

  176. Fred says:

    Re. Metaphysics of truth. Peterson mostly CLAIMS to be relying on an understanding of truth that draws on the pragmatists, in which truth is that which lies at the end of enquiry. In other words, an answer to a question is true if it satisfies whatever function the question was intended to address. Peterson complicates this a bit by tying it Nietzsche and Darwin, so truth also becomes associated with what is good for the survival of the organism/species and with dominance heirarchies (it’s a bit of a mess in my opinion).

    However, Although he doesn’t say so I think he’s also leaning on older, theologically-informed ideas which link truth to the notion of ‘the good’.

  177. Willard,

    Once you get from “could you pray tell what the hell do you mean” to “why the hell do you never make any sense,” there’s little room left to exchange anything.

    True, once we get to the latter then there is little room for further discussion. Of course, if it becomes clear that there is no more room for further discussion, then maybe the latter is all that’s left to say (which may be your point).

    Fred,
    Thanks. I think I now get that, I simply don’t really identify with it. I certainly don’t agree that survival of the species somehow influences the reality of something like nuclear reactions. It may well tell us something about how we end up using our knowledge, but it doesn’t – in my view – influence the underlying reality of that knowledge.

  178. Magma says:

    I may regret this foray into philosophy, but my simplistic view is that if a given species on a given planet orbiting a given star evolves sufficient intelligence to make nuclear weapons but insufficient to refrain from using them on itself, that hardly invalidates the extended physics that made it all (stars, planets, geochemistry, biochemistry, evolution, nuclear weapons) possible.

  179. Magma says:

    ‘extended’ physics because we’ve been through this before…

    https://xkcd.com/793/
    https://xkcd.com/435/

  180. Willard says:

    > I’m unconvinced that Peterson is really trying to reveal some knowledge/truth, rather than simply promoting some kind of agenda.

    Jordan’s communication objectives are clear enough so that he can attract a patronage of Freedom Fighters that surpasses the salary of a top Canadian U professorship. His personnage is the main thing he reveals to me. Ironically, this befits his somewhat Jungian point that to this day humans understand the world through stories.

    Some stories are better than others at producing reliable knowledge. By “reliable knowledge” I’m not only referring to scientific theories, but to everything that helped shape our moral compass since the dawn of times. That comprises religulous texts but also tales, myths, and novels. There must be something in the texts we preserved for millenia that explains their success, besides agenda promotion, unless by agenda you include moral truisms like “love saves time” or prescriptions like “always carry a towel with you.”

    From an ontological perspective, the matters are even clearer:

    As an empiricist I continue to think of the conceptual scheme of science as a tool, ultimately, for predicting future experience in the light of past experience. Physical objects are conceptually imported, into the situation as convenient intermediaries – not by definition in terms of experience, but simply as irreducible posits comparable, epistemologically, to the gods of Homer. Let me interject that for my part I do, qua lay physicist, believe in physical objects and not in Homer’s gods; and I consider it a scientific error to believe otherwise. But in point of epistemological footing the physical objects and the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conception only as cultural posits. The myth of physical objects is epistemologically superior to most in that it has proved more efficacious than other myths as a device for working a manageable structure into the flux of experience.

    https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/us/quine.htm

    I might be biased.

  181. Willard says:

    > Although he doesn’t say so I think he’s also leaning on older, theologically-informed ideas which link truth to the notion of ‘the good’.

    I’ll just throw in two citations related to this idea before I start my day.

    First is Iris Murdoch’s essay on the sovereignty of Good:

    http://timothyquigley.net/pmi/murdoch-sgooc.pdf

    The second is my own Portable POMO, based on a few paragraphs of a lecture on Parrhesia:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/portable-pomo/

    If morality is possible without assuming God’s existence, then it should be possible to read religulous texts as metaphors for something deeper than beliefs about old, white, heterosexual (?), bearded (Movember), males in the skies.

  182. izen says:

    @-W
    “If morality is possible without assuming God’s existence, “

    If ??

    @-“then it should be possible to read religulous texts as metaphors for something deeper than beliefs about old, white, …..”

    Possible, but you risked burning at the stake with the Biblical literalists.
    Worse now if you try it with the Koran.

  183. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    If morality is possible without assuming God’s existence, then it should be possible to read religulous texts as metaphors for something deeper than beliefs about old, white, heterosexual (?), bearded (Movember), males in the skies.

    This may beg the question of whether morality is possible with assuming God’s existence. Or Gods. Homeric or otherwise.

    Physical objects, who art not in heaven, hallowed be thy name.


    It is not that there is no “watchmaker”; there is no “watch.” Looking for one frames the problem the wrong way. Maybe that kind of frame is needed at the big bang with the anthropic principle; it is the right frame for genesis and the genes. In the earthen genesis, there are species well adapted for problem-solving, ever more informed in their self-actualizing. The watchmaker metaphor seems blind to the problem that here needs to be solved: that information-less matter-energy is a splendid information-maker. Biologists cannot deny this creativity; indeed, better than anyone else biologists know that Earth has brought forth the natural kinds, prolifically, exuberantly over the millennia, and that enormous amounts of information are required to do this.
    The achievements of evolution do not have to be optimal to be valuable, and if a reason that they are not optimal is that they had to be reached historically along story lines, then we rejoice in this richer creativity. History plus value as storied achievement in creatures with their own integrity is better than to have optimum value without history, autonomy, or adventure in superbly-designed marionettes. That is beauty and elegance of a more sophisticated form, as in the fauna and flora of an ancient forest.

    http://www.metanexus.net/essay/skyhooks-and-cranes

  184. Willard says:

    > If ??

    Yes. Either as in “since we accept that even religulous people don’t even need to assume God’s existence” as I said earlier, or as in “depending upon what the hell we may mean by the claim that God exists.” How is it related to faith? Sometimes I wish atheists spent as much time reading about religiosity than bashing online.

    As Iris says, the various metaphysical substitutes for God -Reason, Science, History- are false deities. If you deny the existence of God, will you do the same with Reason and Science? That’s what ought to follow from the idea that reality doesn’t depend upon our cognitions.

    Speaking of which, what is Reality?

    ***

    > you risked burning at the stake with the Biblical literalists.

    Risked??? I don’t, and I know more religious folks than you can imagine.

    I don’t get the constant need to build strawmen out of the weakest position one can find. Few here like Jordan. I certainly don’t. Why not try to take a constructive stance toward the whole ordeal instead of realizing sterile or negative transactions?

  185. Willard says:

    > This may beg the question of whether morality is possible with assuming God’s existence.

    Of course it is, assuming we can derive a Could from a Was:

    (0) Albert was a man.
    (1) Albert was a Spinozian pan-psychist.
    (2) Albert raised concerns about the atom bomb.
    (3) Raising concerns about the atom bomb shows morality.
    (4) Showing morality is enough to warrant its existence.
    (5) Albert was a moral man.

    Do you deny that it’s rather trivial to find people around you that shows a similar morality to Albert’s, Rev?

  186. izen says:

    @-W
    “Speaking of which, what is Reality?”

    Is this a rhetorical question ? (grin)

    I gave my answer in the first post I made on this thread.

    A material universe that is computable. It is discoverable by mathematical modelling from empirical (intra-subjective) observation of that material world with no need to invoke arbitrary, supernatural or non-material influences.

    I do not claim this answer is ‘TRUE’.
    Just the most utile A prior assumption we can make to cope with whatever it ‘really’ is.

  187. Everett F Sargent says:

    [Mod: sorted, I hope.]

  188. Willard says:

    > I gave my answer in the first post I made on this thread.

    Thanks. Here’s what you said:

    [T]he classic epistemological justification of science is that the A Priori assumption is that we exist in a material universe that is computable. It is discoverable by mathematical modelling from empirical (intra-subjective) observation of that material world with no need to invoke arbitrary, supernatural or non-material influences.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/jordan-peterson-speaks-the-truth/#comment-105613

    There was no mention of reality. There is “material universe,” “material world,” and “computable.”

    Some dispute the computable part, e.g. Roger Penrose. David Deutsch holds that the universe is a quantum-flavored Turing machine. There are other kinds of computable machines around, like oracle machines. Otters argue that we live in a simulation of such machine. I’m sure there are many other viable positions on the computational nature of reality. I think the question is ill-posed (the Church-Turing thesis has a non-formal component), albeit I would not go as far as Wolfram and say that it’s too complex for us and is unsolvable.

    The point of my rhetorical question is two-fold. First, to make explicit the fact that this kind of theorical exploration rests on metaphysical assumptions. You yourself admit that, and it is a good thing. Second, to suggest that while metaphysical assumptions are needed, they are more or less irrelevant to where we’re going from there.

    In other words, whether you assume the universe is computable or not, or whether the universe truly is computable or only describable as a computing system, it’s possible to do research with other people that hold a different starting point.

    I think the same goes with our religious metaphysics which, to repeat again because I think it’s a point that renders the horsemen of atheism utterly irrelevant, is not something I have ever seen discussed by the religious people I know.

    That metaphysical freedom does not imply there could not be points of conflict between religious and non-religious worldviews. It implies, however, that tolerance goes a long way in dispelling illusory ones. What I’m saying right now is not far from Rudolf Carnap’s principle of tolerance:

    It is not our business to set up prohibitions, but to arrive at conclusions

    http://consequently.org/papers/carnap.pdf

    I’m not sure I would so far as to say we could choose any logic we like, but I’m not sure I wouldn’t. It’s been a while I thought about all this. I’d need to think a bit more.

  189. izen says:

    @-W
    “In other words, whether you assume the universe is computable or not, or whether the universe truly is computable or only describable as a computing system, it’s possible to do research with other people that hold a different starting point.”

    Possible, but not easy. I contrasted my position in that post with otters that hold a different starting point,-
    “The topic of material naturalism is hardly insignificant. Much of the ”thought-scape” of today’s thinking is shaped by this point of view. Much of the working assumptions of western culture rest on this as reality.”

    Spend any time in discussion with YECs or Design Institute people and you soon find that tolerance takes two to tango.

  190. Willard says:

    > Spend any time in discussion with YECs or Design Institute people and you soon find that tolerance takes two to tango.

    That saying is untrue:

    In the early 19th Century, the Tango was a solo dance performed by the woman.

    http://www.centralhome.com/ballroomcountry/tango.htm

    ClimateBall ™ provides daily episodes of failures to get anywhere, even if we adopt Postel’s law to human communication and try to keep to a conservative output and to accept input liberally.

    What I’m saying is that, in principle, metaphysics should not be blamed for miscommunication. Something else is at work, and I believe what Aristotle said about payback and honor looks more like it.

    This exchange, like the one featured in the post, is simply not a scientific exchange.

  191. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Do you deny that it’s rather trivial to find people around you that shows a similar morality to Albert’s, Rev?

    No.
    However, if you will kindly excuse the Godwin, I can also find people around me that show a similar morality to Adolf’s, who by a very similar syllogistic chain, was also a ‘moral man’.
    Gott mit uns.

    Albert also raised concerns about the God that gambles.
    And then Albert placed his bets on the existence of hidden variables.

    Another case-study in morality is Edward, who also had concerns about bombs:

    I do not feel that there is any chance to outlaw any one weapon. If we have a slim chance of survival, it lies in the possibility to get rid of wars. The more decisive a weapon is the more surely it will be used in any real conflict and no agreements will help.
    Our only hope is in getting the facts of our results before the people. This might help to convince everybody that the next war would be fatal. For this purpose actual combat-use might even be the best thing.

    and, like Albert, concerns about a hidden deity:

    The idea of God that I absorbed was that it would be wonderful if He existed: We needed Him desperately but had not seen Him in many thousands of years.

    Even for the religiously inclined, God seems always to be far too aloof to get directly involved in either science or morality.

    Perhaps it is just as well. That leaves Him more time for politics.

    But even there, He has stiff competition:
    During a forum for social conservatives in Ames, Iowa, in July, Trump conceded that he has never sought forgiveness from God. “I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right,” he said. “I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”

    That experiment in morality, like the trolley ‘problem’, is a hypothetical: Donald would never actually do something wrong.

  192. Willard says:

    > I can also find people around me that show a similar morality to Adolf’s, who by a very similar syllogistic chain, was also a ‘moral man’.

    Go right ahead. Don’t forget to replace the third step:

    (3) Raising concerns about the atom bomb shows morality.

    with something similar and to adapt (4). Then we could negotiate the claim that showing morality is enough to warrant its existence. After that, we would have to discuss if it’s possible to do any wrongdoing while remaining moral.

    Thanks in advance for playing!

  193. Everett F Sargent says:

    ATTP,
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/jordan-peterson-speaks-the-truth/#comment-105764
    “A general comment. … ”

    IMHO very well said.

    However, last night (or this morning) was a rather target rich environment.

    Obfuscating stuff like “read the primary texts” is rather vacuous (in the empty or null sense), such that, those that are really minor, might best be ignored.

    “This brings me back to what I was suggesting in the post; the idea that some of this is more about convincing others of your own ideology, than revealing some kind of underlying knowledge/truth.”

    Of course, that remains the central issue, unfortunately I do see an impasse. One side is stuck in a rather subjectivism realm, while the other side is stuck in a rather objectivism (and no, not in an Ayn Rand Objectivism way) realm. One side predates the written word (e. g. story telling and death rituals), while the other side has, in a relatively short period of time, virtually exploded onto the shores of humanity. The time scale ratio of these two sides contains a great deal of humanistic (subjective) inertia, While on the other hand, the sheer volume of knowledge and information (objective) has exceeded an exponential rate of growth.

    So do we look to the past with its massive subjectivism inertia, or do we look to the future with its greater than exponential growth of objectivism knowledge? I would vote for the latter as I am a progressive. Whence once the balance scale was heavily tilted towards the subjectivism vector we now find it extremely tilted towards the objectivism vector.

    I now consider Peterson to be the most recent form of reflective reactionary Rejectionism. Old lamps for new, as it were. I also see no point in arguing which is nested in the other as Peterson does, the Venn diagram is not one circle within the other, but two separate overlapping circles which has a temporal component. What was once a very small circle overlapping a very large circle, has changed to such a degree that standing on the now much larger circle, one can’t tell that that circle has curvature. 🙂

  194. Everett F Sargent says:

    Wow, this is getting to be fun.

    To complete the circle as it were. You are a static 1D point (no height-width-depth) and you are on a line (2D) or surface (3D), you believe that there is an inside and that there is an outside to this line or surface. The line or surface has finite curvature everywhere. You are free to exist on only one (concave or convex) side of this line or surface, which do you choose? And explain in as few words or equations as possible (this really isn’t much of a thought experiment to be honest with you, technically there is no wrong answer because you get a choice, metaphorically speaking)?

    BTW, this forms a perfect metaphor for humanity and knowledge (or lack thereof). Hint: 1D humanity was not given a choice, it has mostly existed on the convex side of said line or surface.

  195. Steven Mosher says:

    “I may regret this foray into philosophy, but my simplistic view is that if a given species on a given planet orbiting a given star evolves sufficient intelligence to make nuclear weapons but insufficient to refrain from using them on itself, that hardly invalidates the extended physics that made it all (stars, planets, geochemistry, biochemistry, evolution, nuclear weapons) possible.”

    In the passage Peterson DOES NOT invalidate the physics. he notes that it may not be PRAGMATICALLY the best conception. In other words, its a knowledge void of morality

    I am not saying I agree with him, but you owe it to yourselves to understand the strongest versions of his positions

  196. Steven Mosher says:

    “Re. Metaphysics of truth. Peterson mostly CLAIMS to be relying on an understanding of truth that draws on the pragmatists, in which truth is that which lies at the end of enquiry. In other words, an answer to a question is true if it satisfies whatever function the question was intended to address. Peterson complicates this a bit by tying it Nietzsche and Darwin, so truth also becomes associated with what is good for the survival of the organism/species and with dominance heirarchies (it’s a bit of a mess in my opinion).”

    yes he has a mish mash of metaphysics. I sense someone really struggling with the ideas

  197. Steven Mosher says:

    “Sorry, Steven, but what i dislike about this comment is the heavily implied “You’re just not getting it” tone. This is why I keep raising the “Emperor’s New Clothes”. It’s not that we’re missing some deep message that we’re just not equipped to grasp, it’s that there really is no substance to Peterson’s arguments. The exchange with Harris makes this exceptionally clear. (Again, the parallels with criticism of Sokal’s “Social Text” hoax are striking).”

    tone? let me be clear. You dont get it. YOU, DONT GET IT. clear enough? dont sweat the tone.

    Its not about a deep message at all. I just confine myself to the One complete bit of text you quoted in your video. your reading of that was horrible. Just plain wrong. peterson is silly, but not for the reasons you think. Its now where near to Sokal. Again, this discussion reminds me of the discussions I have with climate skeptics when they try to stumble around and criticize science without reading the fundamental texts.

    My suggestion is that you should not put in the time to try to undrestand it. Instead listen to Willard.
    ask smart questions. he will give you good links.

  198. Steven Mosher says:

    “Okay I have watched the dance, and I still think Amazing Grace is as close as I can get.”

    hmm I think you maybe listening too mechanically or literally. Its an Ode to youth

  199. Willard says:

    > One side is stuck in a rather subjectivism realm, while the other side is stuck in a rather objectivism (and no, not in an Ayn Rand Objectivism way) realm.

    Objectivism is only the metaphysical commitment of scientific realism:

    The term “antirealism” (or “anti-realism”) encompasses any position that is opposed to realism along one or more of the dimensions canvassed in section 1.2: the metaphysical commitment to the existence of a mind-independent reality; the semantic commitment to interpret theories literally or at face value; and the epistemological commitment to regard theories as furnishing knowledge of both observables and unobservables.

    Important antirealist conceptions are constructive empiricism, instrumentalism, and fictionalism:

    Van Fraassen (1980) reinvented empiricism in the scientific context, evading many of the challenges faced by logical empiricism by adopting a realist semantics. His position, “constructive empiricism”, holds that the aim of science is empirical adequacy, where “a theory is empirically adequate exactly if what it says about the observable things and events in the world, is true” (1980: 12; p. 64 gives a more technical definition in terms of the embedding of observable structures in scientific models). Crucially, unlike logical empiricism, constructive empiricism interprets theories in precisely the same manner as realism. The antirealism of the position is due entirely to its epistemology—it recommends belief in our best theories only insofar as they describe observable phenomena, and is satisfied with an agnostic attitude regarding anything unobservable. The constructive empiricist thus recognizes claims about unobservables as true or false, but feels no need to believe or disbelieve them. In focusing on belief in the domain of the observable, the position is similar to traditional instrumentalism, and is for this reason sometimes described as a form of instrumentalism. […] There are also affinities here with the idea of fictionalism, according to which things in the world are and behave as if our best scientific theories are true (Vaihinger [1911] 1923; Fine 1993).

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-realism

    The “subjectivist” strawman won’t cut it.

  200. Steven Mosher says:

    “Neither Jordan has studied truth. Truth as what-increases-survival-chances (or something along those lines) has little currency. It’s the first time I’ve seen someone being called a POMO because of that. It’s one of the most empirical version of truth one may find, and it’s far from being relativistic in the ordinary sense.”

    Yes as a former POMO the closest variant you will find of this would be in a neitzschian POMO
    who had read the will to power.
    I will say this, that as a POMO who wrote a bunch about the Will to Power, that if you brought that text up, they would call you the N word or the F word.

  201. Steven Mosher says:

    “I believe so. However, none of it changes my view that societal decisions about whether or not to build, or use, a nuclear weapon has no relevance when it comes to the existence of nuclear reactions, the ability to build a nuclear weapon, and what that weapon could do. They are – in my view – two separate issues.”

    Ok, so lets press on this a little. You see you want to divide the two. There is the ATTP as a being who is a ‘scientist” who values knowing about the world as a end in an of itself. And then there is ATTP the moral man as a part of society. two separate beings. One of the old arguments against “science” was the notion that knowledge wasnt good in an of itself. That we cant separate our knowing being from our moral being. That there is SOME KNOWLEDGE you should not have.

    but hey we ate that apple..

    petersons argument comes from this strain of thought. he might not say it exactly as I have, but I recognize the strain of thought.. the strain of thought that resists separating our moral being from our knowing being.

    Some folks call this activism.. so it also has a sister on the left

  202. Harry Twinotter says:

    Everett F Sargent.

    Accusing me of straw-manning? At least I think you might be, your comment is a tad rambling.

    Jordan Peterson’s position on free speech (if I understand it correctly) is suppressing free speech can lead to physical violence, and that is the point I was making. I agree with this position.

  203. Willard says:

    To return to Jordan’s stance on truth, here’s something longer than a sentence:

    There’s a principle at the heart of western civilisation and it’s older than Christianity and it’s older than Judaism, although Christianity developed it to a great degree. It’s the idea of the Logos — which means something like coherent interpersonal communication of the truth — and from an archetypal perspective it’s the action of the logos that extracts order from chaos.

    We make order by articulating truth and then we inhabit the order. The order is the negotiated social agreements we come to to live among each other without tearing each other to shreds — which is basically what chimpanzees do to each other — so we need to negotiate the social order and we do that through articulated speech.

    What Christianity did was take that proposition — derived partly from Mesopotamia, partly from Judaism and partly from Egypt and turn it into a symbolic doctrine — taking the figure of Christ, who from a psychological and archetypal perspective is the ideal man — an image of the ideal — which is the word made flesh, the instantiation of the logos in the body so that it’s acted out in the world. It’s the fundamental proposition of western culture — and we’ve lost it, and we will not survive without it.

    I challenge anyone to explain how this is POMO.

    EDIT. Toned down.

  204. Willard says:

    At last I found a transcript of when Sam met Jordan:

    [Sam] I think a good starting point is this, it actually leads directly into this claim about not being Darwinian enough, but it is the concept of truth. I’ve heard you say in a variety of ways that religious truth isn’t scientific truth, and that the difference here is that science tells you what things are, and that religion tells you how you should act. So let’s talk about that, I think that does connect to this Darwinian concern of yours.

    [Jordan] Yeah that’s a good – I’m going to approach that obliquely to being with. So let me throw a couple of propositions at you, and I know that you don’t accept Hume’s distinction between an “is” and an “ought,” and that you’re willing to challenge that, and fair enough. It’s a reasonable thing to try to challenge although it is quite difficult, but but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. But I’ve been thinking a lot about the essential philosophical contradiction between a Newtonian world view, which I would say your view is nested inside, and a Darwinian world view, because those views are not the same, they’re seriously not the same. I mean the Darwinian view as the American Pragmatists recognize, so that was William James and his crowd, recognized almost immediately was a form of Pragmatism. And the Pragmatists claimed that the truth of a statement or process can only be adjudicated with regards to its efficiency in attaining its aim. So their idea was that truths are always bounded because we’re ignorant. And every action that you undertake that is goal directed has an internal ethic embedded in it, and the ethic is the claim that if what you do works, then it’s true enough. And that’s all you can ever do, and so what Darwin did, as far as the Pragmatists were concerned, was to put forth the following proposition, which was that it was impossible for a finite organism to keep up with a multi dimensionally transforming landscape, environmental landscape let’s say, and so the best that can be done was to generate random variance, kill most of them because they were wrong, and let the others that were correct enough live long enough to propagate, whereby the same process occurs again, so it’s not like the organism is a solution to the problem of the environment, the organism is a very bad partial solution to an impossible problem. Okay, and the thing about that is that you can’t get outside that claim, and I can’t see how you can get outside that claim if you’re a Darwinian, because the Darwinian claim is that the only way to insure adaptation to the unpredictably transforming environment is through random mutation, essentially, and death. And that there is no truth claim whatsoever that can surpass that, and so then that brings me to the next point, if you don’t mind, and then I’ll shut up and let you let you talk. So, I was thinking about that, and I thought about that for a long time, so it seems to me there’s a fundamental contradiction between Darwin’s claims and the Newton deterministic claim, and the materialist objective claim that science is true in some final sense. And so I was thinking of two things that I read: one was the attempt by the KGB back in the late part of the twentieth century to hybridize smallpox and ebola and then aerosol it so it can be used for mass destruction, and the thing is that that’s a perfectly valid scientific enterprise, as far as I’m concerned, it’s an interesting problem, you might say “well you shouldn’t divorce it from the surrounding politics,” well that’s exactly the issue, is how much you can be divorced, and from what. And then the second example is, you know a scientist with any sense would say, well you know our truths are incontrovertible, let’s look at the results, let’s look at the hydrogen bomb, if you want a piece of evidence that our theories about the sub atomic structure of reality are accurate, you don’t really have to look much farther than a hydrogen bomb, it’s a pretty damn potent demonstration. And so then I was thinking well imagine for a moment that the invention of the hydrogen bomb did lead to the outcome which we were all so terrified about during the Cold War, which would have been, for the sake of argument, either the total elimination of human life or perhaps the total elimination of life. Now the latter possibility is quite unlikely, but the former one certainly wasn’t beyond comprehension. So then I would say that the proposition that the universe is best conceptualized as subatomic particles was true enough to generate a hydrogen bomb but it wasn’t true enough to stop everyone from dying, and therefore from a Darwinian perspective it was an insufficient pragmatic proposition. And was therefore in some fundamental sense wrong, and perhaps it was wrong because of what it left out. You know, maybe it’s wrong in the Darwinian sense to reduce the complexity of being to a material substrate, and forget about the surrounding context. So, well, you know, those are two examples and so you can have away at that if you want.

    https://www.scribd.com/document/337709796/Sam-Harris-Jordan-B-Peterson-What-is-Truth-Transcript

    So Jordan’s rambling boils down to this:

    (1) The truth of a statement or process can only be adjudicated with regards to its efficiency in attaining its aim.

    (2) Any goal directed action has an internal ethic embedded in it.

    (3) If what you do works, then it’s true enough.

    (4) The proposition that the universe is best conceptualized as subatomic particles maybe true enough to generate a hydrogen bomb but could lack pragmatism (and thus be wrong in some Darwinian sense) if it led to the demise or our specie.

    I suppose I could clarify this a bit more, but I think I’ve given enough for now.

    Your turns.

  205. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    I challenge anyone to explain how this is POMO.

    Not everything he says is post modernist.

    Do you think that nothing he says is post modernist, or consistent with postmodern principles?

  206. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    I know that you tend to not like questions, but…

    (4) The proposition that the universe is best conceptualized as subatomic particles maybe true enough to generate a hydrogen bomb but could lack pragmatism (and thus be wrong in some Darwinian sense) if it led to the demise or our specie.

    I find that VERY confusing.

    You obviously have no obligation for my understanding… and might be difficult or even impossible to dumb it down sufficiently that I could understand. But here are some of my questions.

    What does “wrong” in a Darwinian sense mean? How does Darwinian theory adjudicate rightness or wrongness? What does “true enough” mean? At what point does not true enough become true enough? How is that measured? Can I measure that? How would the rightness or wrongness – of conceptualizing the universe as (comprising?} subatomic particles – in any sense (Darwinian or otherwise) be contingent on the demise of our species? Would we not be able to make any such determination of rightness or wrongness before the end of time (or at least until such time as atomic bombs are no longer a possibility)?

  207. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    I know that you tend to not like questions, but…

    Perhaps it would be better for me say that it seems to me that in these discussions, you sometimes find asking questions to be passive aggressive, or maybe aggressive, and particularly when they come as lists of questions.

    As such, I don’t mean to suggest that you have some kind of argumentative obligation to answer my questions. It would make total sense for you to focus your responses on people who understand what you wrote.

  208. Willard says:

    > Do you think that nothing he says is post modernist, or consistent with postmodern principles?

    I do, Joshua, insofar as by POMO principles you’re referring to recurring themes and techniques. I suppose one could think that a full-blown pragmatist conception of truth is POMO, but he doesn’t buy that flavor. Here he is, gloating with Sam:

    [Sam] I’m not so sure our audience is deeply schooled in this, so briefly let me just add a little to how you describe Pragmatism. And this is you know Rorty was one of the leading lights of Pragmatism, as you know, so his view may be slightly idiosyncratic, but it was fairly well subscribed among Pragmatists and he was influenced by Dewey, and he linked his view in some similar ways to a Darwinian conception of truth, but not quite the way you’re doing it seems to me. In any case, the idea is that we can never stand outside of human conversation and talk about reality as it is, or truth as it is, we never, we never come into contact with naked truth. All we have is our conversation and our tools of augmenting our conversation, scientific instruments and otherwise, and all we really have, the currency of of truth, is whatever successfully passes muster in a conversation, so I say something that I think is true and it seems to work for you we have a similar, playing a similar language game, and some people disagree they criticize what we are are claiming to be true and we go back and forth, and all we ever have is this kind of ever expanding horizon line of successful conversations that allow us to do things technologically that are very persuasive, so as you say we can build hydrogen bombs and so the conversation about the structure of the atom, at the very least the conversation about the amount of energy hidden in the otherwise nebulous structure of an atom, that becomes very well grounded in facts that we all can agree are intersubjective true.

    [J] Yeah well that seems to weaken the claim that it’s just within the language, you know, which is kind of a postmodern claim too because it’s very difficult for me to believe that the hydrogen bomb is what it is just because we agree what it is in conversation, you know…

    [S] Absolutely

    [J] It immediately reflects a world outside of language. That doesn’t mean we we get permanent and omniscient access to that world, but it’s more than language, so maybe I’m misunderstanding Rorty, or…

    [S] I think you’re you are understanding him, he will say that again all we ever have is our effort to organize the way the world seems to us with concepts and language, and we just have successful iterations of that, and unsuccessful ones, and a hydrogen bomb explosion, no matter how big, assuming we survive it, still falls within this empirical context of an evolving language game. And I agree with you that this does, it does connect with postmodernism in a way that is decidedly unhelpful, and Rorty was a fan of Derrida and Foucault and I remember walking out of Derrida’s lecture at Stanford – I literally had to it to climb over the bodies of the credulous who were sitting in the aisles listening to the great man speak, and he didn’t speak a single intelligible sentence as far as I recall.

    [J]: Well that’s obviously just because you don’t have the profundity to understand a postmodern French neo Marxist intellectual.

    [S] I don’t.

    I suppose we could find some affinity between Jordan’s return to the Original Logos with Martin Heidegger’s project of reclaiming what was lost with Plato, but I think this is more pre modern than post anything.

    Really, Jordan’s just another reactionary half-baked thinker rediscovering conservativism.

    Have you read the Closing of the American Mind?

  209. Willard says:

    > here are some of my questions.

    Try to read the exchange between Sam and Jordan first. It’s all about these questions. Since Sam has a more rigorous background on this, it might be more profitable to pay attention to what he says when he reflects what Jordan says. I don’t think they succeeded in bringing forth something quite coherent. At least they tried.

    Live debates sometimes fall flat.

  210. Everett F Sargent says:

    Oh oh, another day another target rich environment.

    “The “subjectivist” strawman won’t cut it.”
    (3) If what you do works, then it’s true enough.
    As in I really don’t care what you think of my position. Rambling? Yes. Saying you’ve made a rebuttal by quoting others isn’t a rebuttal. We have not even been talking about the science, as you said yourself, this thread isn’t about the science or even science in general. Why go there? Because Peterson does. The joke is Peterson, he just doesn’t realize it.

    “Jordan Peterson’s position on free speech (if I understand it correctly) is suppressing free speech can lead to physical violence, and that is the point I was making. I agree with this position.”
    As far as I’m concerned Peterson can have his bigoted and sexist free speech, if it leads
    to yelling fire in a crowded movie house, then I don’t see much difference between violent speech and violence, one begat the other. There are millions of real world cases where violent bigoted speech has lead to real physical violence. I believe in the rule of law? Do you? Because, if you do, and I’m sure you do, then Canada passed a law. Peterson doesn’t like the rule of law, so eff’ him. See how simple that was.

    “but you owe it to yourselves to understand the strongest versions of his (sic Peterson’s) positions”
    Said who? I prefer not to listen to a rebellious religious crank. Always have. So I don’t.

    “I will say this, that as a POMO who wrote a bunch about the Will to Power, that if you brought that text up, they would call you the N word or the F word.”
    Nice and Fine works fo me. 🙂

    “but hey we ate that apple..”
    Said who? The Bible also known as the book of evil violent and sexist speech.

    “the strain of thought that resists separating our moral being from our knowing being.”
    Strawperson.

    “let me be clear. You dont get it. YOU, DONT GET IT. clear enough?”
    rotflmfao you dont need too shout looser (not firmly or tightly fixed in place) sad

    “I challenge anyone to explain how this is POMO.”
    It isn’t pomo. it is still crap though. 😦

    I would really like to keep this thread on topic though, if you all don’t mind.

  211. Willard says:

    > (3) If what you do works, then it’s true enough.

    What makes you think that what works is subjective, Everett?

    You keep using that word. It may not mean what you make it mean.

  212. Steven Mosher says:

    Well its nice to see them discuss Rorty.

  213. Steven Mosher says:

    EV,

    You still dont get it.

    ““but hey we ate that apple..”
    Said who? The Bible also known as the book of evil violent and sexist speech.”

    The point is that Jordan’s perspective is not POMO, but rather metaphysical, or quasi religious.
    His complaint about our knowledge of spliting the atom isnt so much an argument for relativism or social construction ( ala POMO) but rather his argument against it is Moral/ Darwinian.
    Yes its wrong. However, it’s important to understand what exactly his argument is. That’s why I relate it back to the original faust story ( the original faust is a scientist of sorts who loses his soul for wanting too much knowledge) and thats why I relate it back to the Ur story of the garden. Like it or not Jordan doesnt escape this western christian tradition. Its not POMO, its a confused sort of half darwinian, half pragmatic, half Jungian ( oops 3 halves) reconstitution of basic christian tropes.
    “we ate that apple’ also refers to the notion that we cannot uninvent or unknow how to destroy the planet. And yes, the Bible has that sort of stuff in it. I’m not defending it. I’m pointing out that Jordan is adopting some of the basic Christian lines of thought. Not POMO,

    Of course you could adopt the position that any sort of confusing thought and language is POMO.
    you’d be wrong, but you could do that.

  214. Everett F Sargent says:

    Willard,

    It means whatever I think it means, that thing between my ears understands it. In the end, that’s all that matters. Right?

    If people choose not to communicate properly, as would appear to be the case, you can fight it like I did yesterday, or you can go with the flow as i am doing today. My INS (inertial navigation system) has made the necessary course correction.

    I would not suggest, for example, that this thread is stupid. I would not suggest, for example, that the people posting in this thread (me, myself and I plus the rest) are stupid.

    I would never do such things.

    I would suggest, that me, myself and I are having a jolly good time, though. I am feeling very superior though, that I got to admit or submit.

    Carry on.

  215. Steven Mosher says:

    “I suppose one could think that a full-blown pragmatist conception of truth is POMO, but he doesn’t buy that flavor. ”

    The only people I know who escaped from POMO did so by becoming full blown pragmatist.
    Its way easier to write

  216. Everett F Sargent says:

    “You still dont get it.”

    I am quite fine with that, that you donnnnnt think that I donnnnnt get it.

    Really, I am just really fine with it, it is even a complement. So thank you.

  217. Everett F Sargent says:

    SM,

    Oh. and if I made the POMO argument (Did I? I really don’t remember, quote me please, if you don’t mind), then I’m sorry, I was wrong.

    Crap, by any other name, still kind of stinks though.

  218. Everett F Sargent says:

    Where is the quantifiable knowledge that the humanities are adding to the sea of humanity today? In the analytical sense if you all don’t mind.

    Is that on topic, I think it is, that is, I thought, one point in this thread. But maybe I misunderstood ATTP?

  219. Steven Mosher says:

    “(4) The proposition that the universe is best conceptualized as subatomic particles maybe true enough to generate a hydrogen bomb but could lack pragmatism (and thus be wrong in some Darwinian sense) if it led to the demise or our specie.

    I find that VERY confusing.”

    Lets see. We have a model of the world. Like all models its wrong but perhaps useful. When we look at the world as a collection of particles, science doesnt tell us this is certain beyond all doubt.
    Its a good model of things. It works. Its useful. It leads to great predictions. Perhaps that model
    will change, and instead of particles we will use a different concept. And if it works better, we will
    dump the old model and go with the new. Like we say all scientific knowledge is contingent. Its never settled. its true enough ( fits our needs) its not like math (1+1=2) we understand that truths of science could be otherwise. They could change. they are provisionally true. Not absolutely true for all time.
    So in some way we judge the truths of science by the results. Does it work?
    What Peterson then points out is that if we are judging science by its outcome ( how did it work), then we cant really avoid the observation that our knowledge may destroy our species. That is one use of the knowledge is non adaptive and not beneficial to our survivial. In one sentence its an attempt to use the science of evolution against scientific understanding. We killed ourselves with science. In the end, taking the long view of things, science doesnt have adaptive value.

    Its not that confusing. Not sure if I would call it clever or stupid, but not confusing.

  220. Steven Mosher says:

    .”Where is the quantifiable knowledge that the humanities are adding to the sea of humanity today? In the analytical sense if you all don’t mind.”

    adding to the sea? like melting ice? A most excellent metaphor EV. You know that they obscure things. Please avoid the unclear metaphorical language especially when asking for quantifiable stuff

  221. Everett F Sargent says:

    Is there an alternative epsitimology in the humanities? I really don’t think so, but what would I know. I do sense a looseness though relative to the hard sciences, there can be little doubt on that front (the inability to reproduce even half (or approximately half) of the studies as reported in the scientific media, while not a formal proof, is rather troubling).

  222. izen says:

    @-SM
    “hmm I think you maybe listening too mechanically or literally. Its an Ode to youth”

    “Mechanically or literally” is an improvement of ‘missing part of being Human’ for which I thank you.

    As I have no knowledge of the language, or the obvious historical-cultural weight it carries given the audience reaction, listening literally is the only option if I am to avoid bringing my own preconceptions into it.

    I would conclude from the musical form that as an ode to youth, it is a look-back from age at youth, not a celebration of youth by youth.

  223. Everett F Sargent says:

    SM,

    The request for data seems rather benign to me, Quantifiable in the sense of an objective number (lives saved for example).

    I need to expand my quantifiable knowledge in the humanities. Numbers please, if you don’t mind, thank you.

  224. izen says:

    @-W
    “I do, Joshua, insofar as by POMO principles you’re referring to recurring themes and techniques. I suppose one could think that a full-blown pragmatist conception of truth is POMO, but he doesn’t buy that flavor. ”

    I think I agree.
    Jordan is replaying the Aristotle versus Epicurus discourse more than indulging in POMO.
    Not that POMO avoids the same road.

  225. Philip Moriarty says:

    @Steven Mosher

    tone? let me be clear. You dont get it. YOU, DONT GET IT. clear enough? dont sweat the tone.

    Tsk, Steven. Full-on “caps lock mode” is never the most compelling of strategies. Might I suggest italics for emphasis instead? You definitely need to sweat the tone. It’s all about effective communication, after all. (Insert smiley/winky emoticon to taste…) Simply shouting at me that “I don’t get it” is not a convincing argument.

    Let me repeat — because you’ve dodged this time and time again — precisely what Peterson says to Harris:

    At about the 1:28:40 mark in Waking Up with Sam Harris #62, we have:
     
    Harris: “The rightness or wrongness of the claim is not going to be adjudicated by whether we survive as a species…[snip]
     
    Yes, this whole effort can be wisely guided or not but whether it’s widely guided or not does not change the factual legitimacy of any of those claims.”
     
    Peterson: “Yes, it might…”

    Peterson states, very clearly, that the factual legitimacy of a claim can potentially be affected by the overlying moral framework.

    Now, you can repeatedly tell me and others that we don’t get it, but, again, that’s not a counter-argument. You have yet to address what Peterson is saying here. It’s the worst form of cultural/moral relativism; it’s post-modern to its core.

    There is nothing “to get”. Just as Sokal highlighted the lack of substance behind the florid language of many postmodernists, what we have with Peterson is exactly the same Emperor’s New Clothes scenario, but rebooted for the 21st century.

    And if you’re going to convince me otherwise, you need to address what Peterson has actually said, not your reading of it.

  226. Everett F Sargent says:

    OK, so to see where I’m coming from. People post stuff, many of these posts are (or seem or appear to be) tangential to the main point(s) of the thread topic as laid out at the top of this thread by ATTP. We, of course, can go wherever it is, it would seem. Correct?

    So what do I think I should do? I think that I should go back to the top of this thread and reread it. I do this because I think I’m trying to maintain the overriding theme, or to try to stay on topic, if you prefer. Maybe internet discourse and social media have a very high S/N ratio, that’s been my own POV from what all I’ve seen on these internetwebs, but YMMV.

    So that is what I am doing, people post nonsense, so I go back to the top and reread what ATTP said.

    I’ve seen the videos and understand them, whatever be my POV, the same goes for the Peterson dogmas, been there, done that, not interesting at all, very trivial in fact, YouTube guru, boring, queue up the next one hit wonder, p-a-a-a-a-a-l-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-s-s-s-s-s-e-e-e-e-e.

    So I want to quantify the humanities, we do have the academic literature, so we do have some data points, the main ones being the inability for reproducing study outcomes to varying degrees in different areas of the humanities. This I do find very troubling and, I think, central to ATTP’s main theme.

    I’ll stop right there, thank you.

  227. Steven Mosher says:

    Phillip

    rather than skip on to the next quote. I want to see if you can explicate the quote you showed in your video. That is the quote I refered to. That is the quote I said you read horribly.
    Gish galloping away to another exchange wont help us, unless you can start with the quote you originally commented on. That is the quote you dont get.

    the other hint is you dont understand moral relativism or POMO. but we will get to that.

    1. I played your video where you discussed a quote.
    2. I say you read that horribly.
    3. You ask me how.
    4. I tell you how.
    5. you then bounce around and present a litany of other quotes and passages.
    6. I’m still on the first one which you dont understand.

    So if you can stay on the precise topic I raised, you might get something right

  228. Steven Mosher says:

    probably the best section to listen to where the agree on the “big problem.”

  229. Everett F Sargent says:

    Philip,

    Don’t mind me, but there are those of us whom have had over a decade of SM. At one time he was a full tilt boogie climate science denier. I’m trying to fast forward this videotape for you.

    So, not to beat a dead horse, but with SM, what you see is what you get. The MO you see here with SM is truly timeless, most others would call his form a driveby.

    He never takes the time to at least post in complete sentences with punctuation and capitalization even, Because that takes to long to form a truly complete thought.

    Talk to ATTP offline to get perhaps very different POV. Just trying to save you some valuable time. Thanks you for the Peterson debate videos.

  230. Philip Moriarty says:

    @Steven Mosher

    Oh, Steven, that’s a disappointingly and blindingly obvious side-step again. There’s no Gish gallop here. That quote is entirely representative of Peterson’s position throughout the entire two hour podcast. See also, for example, his ludicrous — quote literally ludicrous — position with regard to the smallpox example that Harris brings us on more than one occasion.

    You have accused me of misreading Peterson’s clear postmodernism. Then I give you a clear counter-argument and you side-step it? (Or perhaps this is just some type of meta-communication or meta-rhetorical device that I’m simply not sufficiently “trained” to grasp? (Again, insert smiley/winky emoticon to taste)).

    Peterson specifically states, on more than one occasion, that the moral (and thus cultural) framework in which science is carried out can affect the factual legitimacy of science. How is this not postmodernistic at its very core?

    You have not addressed this question. Again.

  231. Philip Moriarty says:

    @Everett F Sanger

    Don’t mind me, but there are those of us whom have had over a decade of SM. At one time he was a full tilt boogie climate science denier. I’m trying to fast forward this videotape for you.

    Thanks for that very pertinent and helpful piece of advice. I’ve stupidly not been following my own “rules of engagement”: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2017/05/02/rules-of-engagement-seven-lessons-from-communicating-above-and-below-the-line/

    I’ve enjoyed your contributions to this thread (and, once again, thanks for highlighting the (rather veiled!) reference to Peterson via Living Colour in the video exchange with Fred. I was really over the moon when I saw that!)

    My arguments and counter-arguments with regard to Mosher’s points are clear from the thread above. I’ll let the readers of ATTP’s blog make up their own minds as to the respective strenghts of our positions.

    All the best and thanks again for the advice. Thoroughly appreciated.

    Philip

  232. Steven Mosher says:

    Here is an example of a good “reader”

    its 29 minutes long, but if you listen to it, you will understand the key differences between the two
    as well as why the conversation went off the rails.

    or cut to the chase, a little weak on pragmatism

  233. Steven Mosher says:

    Phillip have a listen to a good reader.

    It will show you what a small amount of background in the relevant topic will do to improve your understanding.

  234. Steven Mosher says:

    Also, on the you tube share button you can actually capture the times you want to draw attention to if you look closely.

    there a useful bit of knowledge 4 U

  235. Steven Mosher says:

    “You have accused me of misreading Peterson’s clear postmodernism. Then I give you a clear counter-argument and you side-step it? (Or perhaps this is just some type of meta-communication or meta-rhetorical device that I’m simply not sufficiently “trained” to grasp? (Again, insert smiley/winky emoticon to taste)).”

    well its not post modernism. Sorry. I wasted far too many years actually doing it, and yes sitting there and listening to Derrida when he was the shit. Listen to the you tube I cued up for you.
    Since you cant get it from me, perhaps someone less triggering, can help.

    The biggest issue is that the two actually mean something different when they use the word “true”

    After you listen we can quiz you on correspondence theories of truth and coherence theories of truth. if you pass that test there is hope for you

    Its weird that Sam didnt get it since he has read Rorty.

  236. EFS’s comment here is about right. The post wasn’t intended to be about Peterson specifically, but about the possibility of there being a form of scholarship in the humanities that is entirely non-empirical, but that still reveals knowledge/truth. Peterson may be an example of such a scholar. Just to be clear, I’m well aware that there are areas in the humanities in which the goal might not be to specifically/directly reveal truth. Areas such as literature, the arts, music etc. These areas may do things that make us think, might make us aware of aspects of human nature, etc, but their direct goal isn’t to specifically reveal information about some system being studied.

    If Peterson is an example of a humanities scholar who reveals knowledge/truth in some way that is not consistent with what a physicist might regard as the scientific method, then I’m still unconvinced as to the value of such activities, or that it does indeed qualify as some form of scholarship.

  237. Steven Mosher says:

    “So, not to beat a dead horse, but with SM, what you see is what you get. The MO you see here with SM is truly timeless, most others would call his form a driveby.”

    drive by?

    EV. I do drivebys at WUWT. basically thats one comment making fun of deniers and then leaving.
    Try to use clearer language

  238. Everett F Sargent says:

    SM sez …
    Try to use clearer language

    The message was sent and properly communicated to that one person it was meant for. That is all.

  239. We’re drifting away from the general topic, so maybe we can bring things back again.

  240. Steven,
    I’ve just read Paul McKeever’s blog post and will try to watch the video. However, it appears that I do broadly understand Peterson’s views on truth. They just seem to be nonsense.

  241. Philip Moriarty says:

    @ATTP

    However, it appears that I do broadly understand Peterson’s views on truth. They just seem to be nonsense.

    ’nuff said.

  242. dikranmarsupial says:

    ATTP wrote “but about the possibility of there being a form of scholarship in the humanities that it entirely non-empirical, but that still reveals knowledge/truth.”

    I think Descartes “I think, therefore I am” fits into that category (it essentially tells us we can have no certain knowledge of reality, which I suspect wasn’t appreciated at the time, or even after), and can see how some philosophy, ethics or theology might (especially if working on what should/ought to be rather than what is), but it would be a rather small section of the humanities (just as cosmology is a small section of the sciences). If I were Peterson, I think I might have given some concrete examples to illustrate the point…

    I still haven’t watched the videos, but the discussion seems to suggest that an element of pedantry is being used to avoid conceding the position (i.e. most scholarship will have an empirical element, but there is a [negligible?] possibility of largely non-empirical scholarship, just like there is in science, e.g. cosmology)?

  243. Everett F Sargent says:

    ATTP,

    “If Peterson is an example of a humanities scholar who reveals knowledge/truth in some way that is not consistent with what a physicist might regard as the scientific method, then I’m still unconvinced as to the value of such activities, or that it does indeed qualify as some form of scholarship.”

    Well now, I have spent a great deal of time studying Peterson’s ‘so called’ scholarship (several hundred hours in fact, many emails, many blank expressions, a FIPPA sort of waiting for something to be published, meh, don’t really like playing The Auditor though). I’ve been rather coy about what I know for good reason. I am lying in wait from a certain PhD student of his to publish something in the peer reviewed academic literature (based on Peterson’s ‘reds under his bet’ wacko mother-infant PC-Authoritarian gibberish).

    Long story short?

    Peterson may use the tools of the hard sciences, mainly statistical methods, but in grad school I learned you no longer use the cookbook, you make the cookbook. That means that you have to come to grips with any underlying theories that those tools encompass.

    Long story even shorter.

    Psychology, in particular, they as a general rule, are STEM illiterate. They only know how to push those buttons. And finally, I also learned not to be an inbred, the psychology department of UoT should be world famous for their PhD inbreeding, from BS-MS-PhD all degrees from only one school, very easy to get through IMHO.

  244. dikranmarsupial says:

    Having watched the first two videos, it seems odd to argue that empirical truths are a subset of moral truths (or vice versa), it seems to me that it would be better to think of them as orthogonal axes (McVittie appeared to me to be the old “two cultures” thing trying to belittle science by saying that their truths were lesser, trivial truths, which I think is a bit of a tiresomely arrogant approach). Scientific/empirical truths are what we normally mean by truths (statements that are to the best of our knowledge correct), whereas moral truths (such as the “hero” thing) are perhaps better described as “verities” (using a less usual word to indicate that the meaning was nuanced) that usefully reflect something without actually being in any real sense “correct”. Both things have value and I don’t see the point in arguing that one is more important than the other without considering the purposes for which they are used. Whether nuclear physics is correct does not depend on whether it is useful to society, science is about what is, not what ought to be, so the moral considerations are largely orthogonal AFAICS. Similarly it seems slightly bizarre to me to discuss what we ought to do from a moral/ethical perspective based on our evolutionary heritage. Surely the whole point in being sentient and rational is that we can choose to discard parts of our evolutionary heritage that we decide are no longer useful (e.g. the way society ought to treat women).

    Regarding justified belief, personal revelation (e.g. being spoken to by God) would be a basis for justified belief for that person, but it wouldn’t be a justified belief in this sense for someone else to believe solely based on the testimony of the first person.

    ATTP wrote “However, it appears that I do broadly understand Peterson’s views on truth. They just seem to be nonsense.”

    I tend to agree, the “our truths are incontrovertible” suggests a very great lack of scholarship (unless it is willful misrepresentation) which is likely to result in nonsense.

  245. Philip Moriarty says:

    @dikranmarsupia (Nov 7 2017 at 11:00 am)

    it seems odd to argue that empirical truths are a subset of moral truths (or vice versa), it seems to me that it would be better to think of them as orthogonal axes

    This is exactly it. Removal of the orthogonality is a basic “category error” (or, if I wedge my tongue fimrly in cheek, what physicists might call a basic flaw in dimensional analysis.) Stripping away that orthogonality has the potential to produce all sorts of inconsistencies and nonsense. And, lo and behold, that’s exactly what it does, and Peterson’s gibberish about “empirical truths nested in moral/Darwinian/religious truths” results.

    I tend to agree, the “our truths are incontrovertible” suggests a very great lack of scholarship (unless it is willful misrepresentation) which is likely to result in nonsense.

    This is not a misrepresentation of Peterson. He specifically claims that scientists would call certain empirical evidence “incontrovertible”. As I discuss in one of the responses to Fred, Carlo Rovelli is extremely good on the key role of uncertainty in science. (As, of course, was Feynman before him).

    Regarding justified belief, personal revelation (e.g. being spoken to by God) would be a basis for justified belief for that person, but it wouldn’t be a justified belief in this sense for someone else to believe solely based on the testimony of the first person.

    Exactly. (Again!)

    —–

    @Everett F Sargent (November 7, 2017 at 10:05 am)

    Have you read Dietrik Stapel’s autobiography/confession? Nick Brown translated it into English and it’s available here: http://nick.brown.free.fr/stapel/FakingScience-20161115.pdf

    It’s a remarkable read not least because we watch Stapel’s demonisation (following his fraud coming to light) through his eyes, but because he provides lots of insights into some of the less rigorous aspects of some research/researchers in the field of psychology.

  246. dikranmarsupial says:

    “This is not a misrepresentation of Peterson.” just to clarify, I meant that Peterson may be willingly misrepresenting science for rhetorical value, rather than that Peterson may have been misrepresented. Sadly that sort of thing is always a possibility in this sort of “debate” (which is why science tends not to be decided by debate any more, no matter how much politicians wish it were! ;o).

  247. Eli Rabett says:

    To clear your nasal passages assume that some argue for fun or profit or both.

  248. Everett F Sargent says:

    Philip,
    “Have you read Dietrik Stapel’s autobiography/confession?”

    No, but thanks for the PDF link. I’m sort of an entropy engine, I create lots of work for myself, I am an ascetic agnostic. I only read academic publications now. My thirst for knowledge is rather insatiable.

    In no way am I suggesting anything improper with Peterson’s works.

    However, there are certain aspects of their PC-Authoritarian thesis, that I find lack proper rigor. This is somewhat related to their use of MTurk (much literature to be had) but the demographics are not fully representative of the US Census data, the MTurk data is very much skewed towards a college aged demographic (no field work mind you, all desktop stuff, if a college survey is badder then just a bad MTurk survey, IMHO I don’t really see any difference, they both are still bad), we Baby Boomers have literally flattened our age distro so much so that we don’t show up at all in MTurk demographic surveys, so that saying that you have attended a ‘so called’ workplace sexual harassment session, or some such, has a skewed distro towards those who are younger.

    The same applies to their mother-infant thesis, it drops all males from the population by its very premise. Not a good starting point, dropping half of the population from your own thesis.

    Finally, the MS thesis of that PhD candidate (yup BS-MS-PhD track all at UoT with Peterson as adviser throughout) is a virtual train wreck, no technical writing skills at all. The MS thesis is critically flawed in its central premise, a faux divide between PC-Egalitarians and ‘so called’ PC-Authoritarians (thus my previous mention of people (up thread) such as Abraham Lincoln and others, which predates Marxism, Peterson’s rather weak premise which he tries to deploy in all of his bigotry).

    BTW, I live within a stone’s throw from one of the best technical libraries in the world, so no, they have not published anything to date. They have made several missteps is the MSM in their discussions of unpublished research (I can prove that one for sure). Somehow, since I’ve sent all my emails, they have now gone dark in the MSM, not a peep or a squeak (just unpublished conference talks, the last one showed up in a very strange place).

    Too much information?

  249. Everett F Sargent says:

    Philip,

    Sorry, I missed this part of your post …
    “but because he provides lots of insights into some of the less rigorous aspects of some research/researchers in the field of psychology.”

    I will bump this one onto my reading list, a must read. And thanks again, you’ve enlightened me towards other avenues of research into psychology, skulduggery as it were.

  250. Willard says:

    > It means whatever I think it means, that thing between my ears understands it. In the end, that’s all that matters. Right?

    Right on, Humpty Dumpty.

    Next time you use a measuring tape, tell yourself it’s all subjective.

  251. Willard says:

    > Now, you can repeatedly tell me and others that we don’t get it, but, again, that’s not a counter-argument. You have yet to address what Peterson is saying here. It’s the worst form of cultural/moral relativism; it’s post-modern to its core.

    Factual legitimacy may not be factual truth, Philip. Legitimacy is a normative word, BTW. Are you promoting a value-laden conception of truth? Tsk.

    [Snip. -W]

    So let’s see how it continues:

    [J] Because it might highlight what they left out. Because your claim about Skype is a local claim, you know, and as a local claim I would say as a Pragmatist that it’s directly the case, but it’s also grounded in a metaphysic. And so is the technology. And so…

    [S] But Jordan whether you leave something out, there are all kinds of things we can leave out. First of all we will always be leaving something out, but second of all, we can leave things out that are worth knowing; that would add to our well being and survival; we can leave things out that have absolutely no value one way or the other negative or positive but are still none the less true; and we can leave things out that we should leave out because they would be dangerous to know. Now we need a concept of truth that allows us to make statements like that, but your concept of truth is collapsing everything back to whether we survive.

    [J] Right! That’s what it’s doing.

    [S] Right? Presumably whether we survive happily, right?

    [J] No, just whether or not we survive.

    [S] There are things are worse than not surviving. We could survive in a way where everyone has a life that’s not worth living.

    [J] Okay, well that would be bad too, I would agree.

    [S] We could create a kind of prison planet for ourselves, where everyone gets tortured as long as possible even the torturers. And nobody likes it.

    [J] Yes, well I would say that the probability that that game would sustain itself for very long is low. You know it would probably degenerate, hell, you know why hell is a bottomless pit, right? It’s because no matter how bad it is you can always make it worse. And so I would say a situation like that would either improve or it would spiral down to the ultimate end which would be fatal.

    [S] My point is that survival isn’t the only value, right, it’s certainly not, you could argue it’s not even the deepest value. And then the moment you form a conception of a life that would be worse than not living at all, it seems to me that you’ve trumped mere survival. You can easily imagine a situation where you would say of the person you love most in the world that they would be better off dead, right. That I think a morally and factually an intelligible claim given the possibilities of human suffering and given that there are certain situations where there is no remedy other than death. So even survival as an anchor here seems a somewhat whimsical one, but it’s one that granted it has a direct connection to Darwinian evolution, because the survival of an organism is crucial, at least up to a certain point, is crucial to whether or not it gets its genes into the next generation. But again I just think it’s so obvious that you need to be able to say, you need to be able to use the word true and false and not continually have to dance around this freighted meaning and swap in synonyms like accurate or correct, and you just have to acknowledge that something can be true and dangerous.

    [J] I would say it’s objectively true as far as our scientific theories are accurate at this time in this local context

    So, Jordan’s arguing for a transcendental (go entropy that word, Everett!) notion of truth. To call for a transcendental notion of truth and be called a POMO (as a slur, no less!) is quite a feat.

    If the emphasized bit is POMO, only platonists ain’t POMO.

    [Snip. Chill. -W]

  252. Willard says:

    > he post wasn’t intended to be about Peterson specifically, but about the possibility of there being a form of scholarship in the humanities that is entirely non-empirical, but that still reveals knowledge/truth.

    The answer is yes, as logicians are usually affiliated to philosophical faculties.

    The answer is probably no, if we accept that all disciplines contain empirical matters like historical facts.

    The answer is immaterial to criticize Jordan’s position, as he accepts that our current scientific theories lead to knowledge that is objectively true.

    ***

    The answer Philip is looking for is a bit later than the last excerpt I quoted:

    [J] I would say it’s objectively true as far as our scientific theories are accurate at this time in this local context.

    [S] Okay

    [J] And that’s as far as I’m willing to go. And you know there are other reasons for this, like I’m perfectly aware of the pit that this produces and all of the complexities that it entails, but I’m not so sure that you’re aware, and and I don’t mean this as an insult by any stretch of the imagination, I’m not so sure that you’re aware of the consequences of the rational, Realist ethic that you’re putting forth in your books. Because I would say that they produce cognitive complexities that are at least as serious as the ones that you pointed out with my position.

    [S] Let’s move on there with the proviso that I think we are impressively capable of of misunderstanding one another moving forward, but

    [P] Well we’re definitely disagreeing. I think you understand and I think…

    [S] I don’t think we are disagreeing. I think you are committed to elevating the concept of truth, or what you imagine to be elevating it, into the moral stratosphere where it it it entails goodness…

    [P] Yes, that is precisely and exactly what I’m doing. There’s no doubt about it.

    [S] But the problem with that is that then it makes it very difficult to talk about ordinary truth claims and to acknowledge that now you have a situation where your conception of factual accuracy either has to completely break apart from your conception of truth, or it itself is continually vulnerable to changes in human history which could happen in a million years, when we finally get to cash this check, epistemologically? Let’s say we survive for a million years.

    [J] I don’t know if we ever get to cash it, that’s the problem with the Darwinian perspective is that you’re never right, you’re only sufficiently right to go ahead.

    Convergentist conceptions of truth are legions. They’re probly the main brand, nowadays. Even teleological convergentism of the kind that would reinforce reactionary discourses such as Jordan’s is not that rare.

    But that ain’t POMO.

  253. Joshua says:

    Seems to me that to speak of “moral truths” is inherently post modernist.

    Well, I’m more than willing to stipulate that my understanding of the terminology is extremely limited. But I’m not sure that the specific taxonomy, or technical validity the taxonomy, are particularly useful topics of discussion. They might enlarge other peoples’ understanding, but at some point they don’t enlarge mine at all (because my knowledgw of what the terms mean is quite limited). At least I, at some point, begin to think it’s rather beside the point.

    How are moral constructs not subjective? If they are necessarily subjective, then how is calling them “truths” justified and how are they distinguished from not truths?

  254. Joshua says:

    Irrespective of whether Peterson is post modernist, the Wikipedia definition of post modernism seems interesting to me with reference to the concept of “moral truths. ” Of course, whatever caveats you would apply to the authority of Wikipedia are in play.

    Postmodernism describes a broad movement that developed in the mid- to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture and criticism which marked a departure from modernism.[1][2][3] While encompassing a broad range of ideas, postmodernism is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony or rejection toward grand narratives, ideologies and various tenets of universalism, including objective notions of reason, human nature, social progress, moral universalism, absolute truth, and objective reality.[4] Instead, it asserts to varying degrees that claims to knowledge and truth are products of social, historical or political discourses or interpretations, and are therefore contextual or socially constructed. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized by tendencies to epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, irreverence and self-referentiality.[4]

    I see two basic chunks, with the “instead” marking the transition point.

    Seems to me that the concept of “moral truths” may or may not be consistent with what comes before the “instead” (I couldn’t say) but definitely? is consistent with what comes after the “instead.”

    Seems to me that the notion of a “moral truth” necessarily means that “truth” us a product of social, political, or historical discourse or interpretations.

    So if I don’t care about whether “moral truths” are post-modernism, are they a product if social, political or historical discourse or interpretations?

  255. Willard says:

    > How are moral constructs not subjective?

    Some, like Sam, hold that there are moral truths:

    Taken at face value, the claim that Nigel has a moral obligation to keep his promise, like the claim that Nyx is a black cat, purports to report a fact and is true if things are as the claim purports. Moral realists are those who think that, in these respects, things should be taken at face value—moral claims do purport to report facts and are true if they get the facts right. Moreover, they hold, at least some moral claims actually are true. That much is the common and more or less defining ground of moral realism (although some accounts of moral realism see it as involving additional commitments, say to the independence of the moral facts from human thought and practice, or to those facts being objective in some specified way).

    As a result, those who reject moral realism are usefully divided into (i) those who think moral claims do not purport to report facts in light of which they are true or false (noncognitivists) and (ii) those who think that moral claims do carry this purport but deny that any moral claims are actually true (error theorists).

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-realism/

    Sam’s a full-blown realist (truth, knowledge, reality, morality, etc), I believe. Or at least we can read something like that in the transcript. He made a name for himself by holding in a TED talk that science can answer moral questions:

    .https://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_science_can_show_what_s_right/transcript

    Moral realism is an underdog everywhere I go except among the Freedom Fighters we can find around debates featuring Sam and Jordan. From the perspective of a moral realist, just about everything else could be dismissed as POMO relativism.

    Jordan’s fans will lulz at the claim that Jordan’s POMO, and they’ll be right.

  256. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    Thanks. I’ll try to read that closely, on the off-chance that I might understand some of it.

    I guess this is where the post-modernist rubber hits the “moral truths” road for me – in this day and age: I hear Peterson go on anti-post-modernist-lefty doom and gloom alarmist rants, and I kinda go “he’s kinda got a point.” But then I hear him reverse engineer from evolution to perhaps more than coincidentally justify his own political agenda, and then I read of “moral truths,” and then I see stuff like this:

    https://www.npr.org/2017/11/06/562246599/michael-lewis-many-trump-appointees-are-uninterested-in-the-agencies-they-head-u

    Sam Clovis as the head of a major scientific function of our government seems to me to be decidedly in line with the notion of “moral truths” being placed on the same, or a superior footing, to “scientific truths.”

  257. I don’t know enough about PoMo to be really have a good idea if what Peterson is doing is PoMo, or not. If people want to argue that, formally, it’s not, that’s fine. However, that doesn’t really change that a great deal of what I’ve heard him say sounds like nonsense.

  258. Willard says:

    If that can reassure you, J, Clovis stepped down:

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/02/politics/sam-clovis-department-of-agriculture/index.html

    Moral realism is simply the idea that (some) prescriptions could be true. It makes sense if we transpose the biblical “Thou shall not kill” into something more mundane but still value-laden, like “Allowing ordinary citizens to own 32 guns may not be a good idea.” We could argue that there is empirical evidence for that latter claim.

    You can crank that idea a notch further if you also claim that you can derive from empirical claims moral prescriptions. That is, you refuse the is/ought dichotomy. Sam (like I) rejects that dichotomy. That’s why Jordan alludes to it at the very beginning of my first quote of the transcript. Jordan hasn’t clarified his position on that.

    What’s clear, I think, is that Jordan holds that the most absolute moral imperative is something like survival, or survivability, or good survivability, which in Jordan’s historical revisions become the idea of the Good we inherited from the fathers (Logos meaning father too, presumably) of Western Cilization. This ain’t POMO relativism at all.

  259. Willard says:

    > However, that doesn’t really change that a great deal of what I’ve heard him say sounds like nonsense.

    It does, but note that “barbarian,” or βάρβαρος , comes from Greeks who used that word to designate people who said things we could only hear as “bar-bar-bar.” The “bar-bar-bar” sometimes makes sense after dealing with those who say “bar-bar-bar” all the time. Just like Harry learned to speak gravitational-wave physics.

    Our actual dilemma is this: how can you say that “bar-bar-bar” makes no sense if you don’t learn the idiom with which it’s being produced? I don’t think you can. Challenging people in online videos may very well become a revolutionary language learning technique, but I would not bet on it.

    And more importantly: why waste time trying to criticize a “bar-bar-bar” speaker if all the evidence you gathered so far (body talks) is that nothing Good will come out of this?

    The Good has been a robust concept for human dwellers. The Bad too, in a way. The Ugly may be a new thing, but I’d have to check.

  260. izen says:

    @-“Instead, it asserts to varying degrees that claims to knowledge and truth are products of social, historical or political discourses or interpretations, and are therefore contextual or socially constructed.”

    As a shorter description of POMO this seems reasonable.
    As an insight into the development of the human knowledge base it was sometimes accurate, or at least useful.

    But it was also eagerly appropriated by a much older tradition of resistance to the validity of scientific knowledge and deployed as a counter to science by those who found aspects of that knowledge threatening to their own socially constructed contextual beliefs. It became the tool of those wanting a return to a pre-enlightenment understanding of the source of moral truth. Despite the obvious application of the concept to their own position.

    So the POMO critique of scientific epistemology would appear in theist arguments in the field of evolution conveniently ignoring that the same critique applied to their preferred source of absolute ‘Truth’. It allowed them to conveniently sidestep any scientific evidence, dismissing it as merely socially constructed on the historical/political ideology of material naturalism.

    In fact the POMO hypothesis gets adopted sometimes by those that reject climate science. It at least enables some to dismiss scientific discovery as the product of a political ideology rather than a product of a proven methodology for establishing facts that are ‘true enough’ to prompt action.

    While POMO may have occasionally disparaged scientific knowledge, (Bruno Latour?) I think it has more often been exploited by those with a different agenda. The attacks on science come less from the humanities adoption of POMO than those who want to dismiss scientific knowledge because it contradicts their preferred source of justified belief.

    I get a strong impression Jordan is a member of that camp rather than a POMO theorist.

  261. Everett F Sargent says:

    Willard sez …
    “Right on, Humpty Dumpty.

    Next time you use a measuring tape, tell yourself it’s all subjective.”

    Have a nice day. 🙂

  262. Everett F Sargent says:

    “go entropy that word, Everett!”

    Somehow someone appears on to something in what would appear to be an unhealthy way. Don’t know why. I do fell sad for you though. Chipper up, it’s not like it is the end of the world.

    Must go back to the top of this post and reread it again.

  263. Willard,

    Our actual dilemma is this: how can you say that “bar-bar-bar” makes no sense if you don’t learn the idiom with which it’s being produced?

    Do you mean, how can I criticise someone if I don’t try to understand the underlying framework on which what they say is based? In some cases I would agree (I don’t think I can critique art, for example, without some understanding of art). However, I don’t think this is necessary if they make claims that appear incorrect in a framework which I do understand.

    Maybe Peterson’s claims about vaccines, or nuclear reactions, are valid within the framework that he’s defined. However, since they’re not in the framework that I think I do understand, this seems irrelevant (other than it maybe being academically interesting to better understand what underpins what he says).

  264. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Regarding Bar-bar-bar, if Peterson is trying to communicate something to science, then the onus is on him to use terminology that is likely to be understood. If on the other hand, the intention is to prevent/obstruct criticism of your position, then bar-bar-bar is quite a good approach (a bit like a Gish gallop, the intent of which is to maximise the energy required of a response, or “proof by intimidating notation” in science ;o)

  265. Everett F Sargent says:

    “bar-bar-bar”

  266. Willard says:

    > I don’t think this is necessary if they make claims that appear incorrect in a framework which I do understand.

    If by “this” you’re referring to criticism, AT, I think it’s required, or rather that it’s the best pro-tip I could give to live a more fulfilling virtual life. Constructive criticism is key.

    Think of criticism the same way you say empiricism works. You collect data: cites and quotes, related testimonies, mundane facts, Feynman anecdotes, whatever. You observe that it makes little sense to you. Therefore you posit that it makes no sense. How do you test your hypothesis? You can’t.

    Your own criticism is constructive because it makes you think about constructiveness. For instance, you ask how factual claims can be generated from a non-empirical basis. So you’re basically reducing the position under consideration to absurdity. Destroying something by constructing a proof of it’s absurdity is constructive enough for me. (For pure constructivists, it isn’t.) But if you don’t make sure that what you’ve just destroyed refers to something that someone, somewhere holds for real, this construction may fail to be relevant for anything.

    I wouldn’t say that countering an hot take with another hot take makes no sense. Hot takes are too common and too entertaining. We are, after all, social animals, and in-group/out-group relationships are here to stay. But you got to admit that dismissiveness has limitations.

    It’s epistemology, BTW.

  267. Everett F Sargent says:

    Two More Classic Psychology Studies Just Failed The Reproducibility Test
    https://www.sciencealert.com/two-more-classic-psychology-studies-just-failed-the-reproducibility-test
    “For years now, researchers have been warning about a reproducibility crisis in science – the realisation that a lot of seminal papers, particularly in psychology, don’t actually hold up when scientists take the time to try to reproduce the results.

    Now, two more key papers in the psychology have failed the reproducibility test, serving as an important reminder that many of the scientific ‘facts’ we’ve come to believe aren’t necessarily as steadfast as we thought.”

    Now to do an actual literature review and a visit to Retraction Watch (I could be posting these types of links literally forever (my rate of failure accusation < new psychology papers retracted or seriously questioned).

    Touche as they say.

  268. Willard says:

    > the onus is on him to use terminology that is likely to be understood

    And the onus is on those who submit critiques to at the very least read the relevant encyclopedic entries, e.g.:

    In her reconstruction (upon which we have relied heavily), Haack (1976) notes that the pragmatists’ views on truth also make room for the idea that truth involves a kind of correspondence, insofar as the scientific method of inquiry is answerable to some independent world. Peirce, for instance, does not reject a correspondence theory outright; rather, he complains that it provides merely a ‘nominal’ or ‘transcendental’ definition of truth (e.g Hartshorne et al., 1931–58, §5.553, §5.572), which is cut off from practical matters of experience, belief, and doubt (§5.416). (See Misak (2004) for an extended discussion.)

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth/

    Throwing ism words around without some technical know-how looks infelicitous to me. This doesn’t stop at ism words. For instance, Descartes “I think, therefore I am” does no appear in his Meditations. What he says there is that he thinks and is as long as he thinks: Ego sum, ego existo, quoties a me profertur, vel mente concipitur, necessario esse verum. To think is something that is hard not to do when meditating the Cartesian way. It is an empirical observation which only becomes necessary by some kind of inference, but not (only) one that comes after a “therefore.” If you add a “therefore” Descartes’ argument becomes invalid. A more pragmatic inference is required. The jury is still out as to what. Some say Descartes makes no sense. Few know why exactly.

  269. Joshua says:

    I don’t think I can critique art, for example, without some understanding of art

    You can say that you like, or don’t like a particular piece of art. You can say that it is ugly. You might be able to say that the technique is simplistic, or complex. You can say that it is abstract or realistic. Expressive or dull. Funny. Ironic.

    But you would want to state them as opinions. You wouldn’t say that a piece of art is objectively bad. You wouldn’t state that your critique is a “true critique.” You can say that Peterson’s stuff seems like nonsense (to you). And you can articulate the reasons why it seems like nonsense (to you). Y

    One irony here is that those who are Petersonsplaining have no real authority behind their statements of fact. Is it true or false that he is post-modern? True-enough or not true-enough? Their critique is offered as a true critique, whereas yours is in fact, not true.

    Another irony is that for all the requests, there are some basic questions that you asked originally, and which you (and others) have asked subsequent,, about how his claims of objectivity (truth) can be “justified.” So, you are told that you can’t critique because you can’t understand, but you are done so merely in an argument by assertion form.

    In other words, everything is possible but nothing is real.

  270. Joshua says:

    Speaking of which: Now, two more key papers in the psychology have failed the reproducibility test,

    So now, there is a “the” reproductivity test? Or is it that certain researchers attempted to reproduce the studies and failed to do so?

    Which, actually, is acknowledged, in the second paragraph, no less:

    To be fair, just because findings can’t be reproduced, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re wrong. Replication is an important part of the scientific method that helps us nut out what’s really going on – it could be that the new researchers did something differently, or that the trend is more subtle than originally thought.

  271. Everett F Sargent says:

    This Is Why a Lot of Peer-Reviewed Research Is Wrong
    Don’t believe everything you read. (or read on the internetwebs SOP nitwits)

    “But as we’ve mentioned before, this is incredibly problematic, and not only produces a whole lot of false positives, it also makes data subject to p-hacking – which is when results are tweaked slightly until the researchers get a significant result.”

    Wow! Just effin’ WOW!

    Peterson’s PhD student used that very method in their MS thesis. Technically, this is similar to a factorial solution, try all possible combinations. Short of that technique you subjectively bin survey results under different main categories until you find significance factors, I also directly observed this technique used in that MS thesis. Finally there was category type reclassification (they used only two types which called scale and choice), but in their SciAm article, they mixed these two category types.

  272. izen says:

    @-W
    “Some say Descartes makes no sense. Few know why exactly.”

    Because he bought into Platonic Dualism.

  273. izen says:

    @-Everett F Sargent

    P-hacking has been (is?) rife in Pharmaceutical research.
    Attempts to get pre-registration of research so the same data is not used for hypothesis forming, and testing at a voluntary level does not seem to be catching on.
    Usually on the grounds of ‘commercial confidentiality’.

    https://cos.io/prereg/

  274. Everett F Sargent says:

    “A state of mind which is about caring a lot about formalities, often more than necessary.”

    I very much like quantitative discussions of science than I do qualitative discussions of science. Perhaps, it’s because it is much easier to pin people down and also much easier to offer real quantitative constructive criticism. However, word salad criticism, meh, IMHO is not inversely proportional to time.

  275. dikranmarsupial says:

    “And the onus is on those who submit critiques to at the very least read the relevant encyclopedic entries”

    Indeed, communication is a collaborative exercise, but if you want to communicate something to a particular group, you have to give them some indication that there is some value in what hey have to say to begin with. Most people have limited time and energy and if you want to communicate you need to consider the budget of your audience. ATTP is clearly making an effort, so perhaps more of a concession from the other side is required.

    As for encyclopedia entries, the problem I find is that reading doesn’t always lead to understanding, especially as the encycopedias tend to use the terminology that I am not used to. Sometimes having a friend who understands these things better than you do explain them to you in language your already understand is very helpful.

    “Throwing ism words around without some technical know-how looks infelicitous to me. This doesn’t stop at ism words. ”

    I don’t know what you mean by that.

    As for Descartes, it was my understanding that the phrase was originally in French “je pense, donc je suis” and according to Wikipedia was from his Discourse on the Method. The ENglish translation given on Wikipedia:

    Accordingly, seeing that our senses sometimes deceive us, I was willing to suppose that there existed nothing really such as they presented to us; And because some men err in reasoning, and fall into Paralogisms, even on the simplest matters of Geometry, I, convinced that I was as open to error as any other, rejected as false all the reasonings I had hitherto taken for Demonstrations; And finally, when I considered that the very same thoughts (presentations) which we experience when awake may also be experienced when we are asleep, while there is at that time not one of them true, I supposed that all the objects (presentations) that had ever entered into my mind when awake, had in them no more truth than the illusions of my dreams. But immediately upon this I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be something; And as I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am,[c] was so certain and of such evidence that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the Sceptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the philosophy of which I was in search

    seem to support the interpretation of a first step in a non-empirical (in the sens of something externally verifiable, you for instance can’t be sure I think – not always too clear on that myself ;o) theory on what is knowable. In this case the “therefore” (donc means so/then/consequently/therefore, my French isn’t good enough to be aware of a nuance) is a necessary part of his argument. However, as I mentioned earlier, while I am interested in this kind of thing, I am no expert.

  276. I’ve been thinking about this, and I partly agree and partly don’t (or, rather, I think there are nuances)

    And the onus is on those who submit critiques to at the very least read the relevant encyclopedic entries, e.g.:

    If I’m going to critique something about which I have little understanding, then I should aim to develop some understanding before doing so (especially if my critique mostly attacks what is being presented).

    On the other hand, if what is being suggested implies things about something that I think I do understand, then I could critique what is being suggested without necessarily developing a deep understanding of the fundamentals of the relevant discipline (maybe as long as I keep my critique to something like “what this suggests is not correct” rather than “this whole discipline is flawed”).

    However, there is also another aspect to this. As a scholar, I do think I have some obligation to make what I do accessible. This doesn’t necessarily mean responding directly to every little thing that others might say, but does (in my view) mean that a response along the lines of “go and learn physics before I engage with your critique” is not acceptable.

  277. ATTP did say “They just seem to be nonsense.” rather than “They are nonsense”, given that the “seem” gives the implicit caveat that he may be missing something, I don’t see this as being much of a problem. But perhaps I am missing something, but it would be helpful if someone could explain in an accessible manner why it is seems like nonsense but isn’t?

  278. Everett F Sargent says:

    DK,

    But if we go with your orthogonal proposition, which I like BTW, does that not suggest iid? I’m also thinking of this in the complex number sense, morality on one axis and knowledge on the other axis. However, I am not too sure if either morality or knowledge are quantifiable in an objective sense (knowledge is on a much better footing for quantification, for morality see my squeak of a morality damage function below).

    But if we consider the two limiting cases, mostly morality or mostly knowledge, than as long as we preface our argument within either the morality construct or the knowledge construct, then from the mostly knowledge construct, we could conclude that moral constructs “are nonsense” from a knowledge perspective?

    I’m also thinking of moral dogmas from a holistic sense (or a worldview that includes all religious and political/ideological dogmas) it the form of a quantifiable damage function (after all we do have at least the historical record for quantification purposes). This would be empiricism to the core. And it does get us past all of Peterson’s hand waving argumentation and fixation on his preferred dogma, Christianity. I’m also thinking that the damage function conceptualization has been floated elsewhere’s before?

  279. Everett F Sargent says:

    RE: Damage Function (see Risk Analysis or downtime or structural modelling)

    Risk
    https://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/risk/

  280. Dikran Marsupial says:

    I think what I was trying to say is just that there isn’t just one thing we mean by “truth”, ‘moral’ truth is obviously not quite the same thing as ‘factual’ truth, so trying to force them onto the same axis is likely to loose something. It also seems a problem of different propositions. “The current understanding of nuclear physics is broadly correct” is one that suggests ‘factual’ truth is relevant, and where the societal value of nuclear physics seems clearly irrelevant. “Nuclear physics is bad” is a proposition that relates to “moral” truth, and science has little to say. It seems to me that some of this is due to forcing the two things into one concept, and hence perhaps not specifying the proposition accurately. Perhaps there is a better example than this one.

    While I am objectivist Bayes by nature, I have no real problem with subjective knowledge, it has its place, and am also happy with the idea that we can have no certain knowledge about the real world (probabilities of 0 and 1 only relate to things like maths).

  281. Willard says:

    > perhaps I am missing something, but it would be helpful if someone could explain in an accessible manner why it is seems like nonsense but isn’t?

    I think Philip Fred made a good effort to provide an interpretation of Jordan’s take on truth that makes some kind of sense, Dikran. It might not represent what Jordan has in mind, but even reading the exchange between Sam and Jordan does not clarify things to a point we can be sure it’s coherent. What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.

    Sam insisted too much on his thought experiments for his own good. At some point he needs to “say yes” and follow on with Jordan. Ask any theater specialists – they should confirm that to “say no” all the time leads to bad improvisation performances.

    Jordan also bears some responsibility. He either should have agreed with Sam, or put that disagreement aside and asked him to follow along. He goes from something that looks like a neutral and descriptive way to look at truth to an interpretation of truth that is more related to meaningfulness and wholeness. Both seem to have failed to acknowledge that “wrong” switches modes.

    The expression Speaking the Truth can be read in both modes. If you insist in the speech act of truth telling, then it’s the relationship between the utterer and what is said is central. If you insist in truth produced, then what matters is the relationship between what is being said and is the object of that “being said.” The question that Sam and Jordan’s miscommunication sidestepped is how to reconcile these two ways to look at truth.

    I say “being said” here because it’s unclear what we should take as what we usually call the truth bearer. One old candidate has been called a proposition, but do propositions really exist? One could say that it’s a statement: but then is truth language dependent? The basic elements of the formal theories of truth are far from being universally accepted, and I’m not talking about POMO stuff here, I’m talking about stuff like this:

    http://disi.unitn.it/~bernardi/Courses/LoLa/Papers/Tarski.pdf

    There are still [a] debate as to what extend does if Tarksi’sdefinition of truth supports or entails correspondentism. If there’s still room for debate there, then you can bet that where Jordan wants to go is muddy. I don’t know [if] readers realize how far Jordan’s willing to go down that road:

    It’s part of the Christian doctrine that at the beginning of time the Logos of Yahweh operated on potential and brought forth the habitable world, ordered, and it was perfect. In some strange sense it was the paradise in which Adam and Eve were placed, and the paradise was a walled garden, a well-watered place. The walled garden is a place of order and chaos, culture and nature, and that’s because people inhabit a garden of culture and nature. That’s our environment. If those two properties are properly balanced, then inside that garden everyone can flourish.

    And human beings are in principle made in image of that Logos, and that’s why we can speak things into being, and we do. When you speak truth, then you speak paradise into being, and when you speak falsely, you speak hell into being, and that’s the truth. What that means is that, with every decision that you make, you decide for yourself and for everyone else whether you’re going to tilt the world a little bit more towards hell or a little bit more towards heaven. And that’s the burden you bear for your existence, and the choices that you make as you pass through life, and it’s the fleeing from that that’s at the bottom of the nihilism of post-modernism and the escape into the totalitarian certainties of idol worship.

    None of this is fictional, because we’ve seen the consequences. Jonathan said, quoting—I don’t remember the source—that there could be no poetry after Auschwitz, but that’s wrong—but the poetry has to be about Auschwitz. The lesson from Auschwitz was “never again.” And, fair enough, but you can’t decide not to repeat something terrible unless you understand it. And the way to understand it is that the small sins of each individual culminate in the great sins of the state. When you ask why terrible things happen in the world, the answer’s quite simple. The answer is it’s because you’re not good enough. And it’s because you don’t tell the truth, and you know it.

    http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/trinityorthodox/resurrecting_logos_part_3

    I’m not sure where Jordan’s appeal to darwinism fits in that truth telling. In fact, I would hypothesize that it’s more a strategical choice from Jordan’s part than some kind of level that could connect the mundane truths to a Logos-related Truth. One could argue that humans wouldn’t be able to survive if their all their beliefs fizzled, but that doesn’t look like what Jordan is suggesting.

    To tell the truth, Jordan’s omission of the kind of Truth he’s really shooting for doesn’t look like truth telling at all.

    EDIT. Fixed some typos. Mistook Philip for Fred.

  282. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Thanks Willard, I’ll watch the rest of the series of videos, and come back to this thread and see if I am any clearer.

  283. Willard says:

    > I think what I was trying to say is just that there isn’t just one thing we mean by “truth”, ‘moral’ truth is obviously not quite the same thing as ‘factual’ truth, so trying to force them onto the same axis is likely to loose something.

    Splitting morality and factuality on a Cartesian plane may indeed help clarify the relationship between the two, Dikran. Some factual truths may be moral, as Sam holds. Some moral truths may be factual, as Jordan seems to hold. There’s even a point where they could “diagonalize” ad infinitum 😉

    (Speaking of whom, I’ll return later on the Cogito. Need to go for a while.)

  284. Willard says:

    Before I go, I should correct myself: in my earlier comment, I was referring to Fred, not Philip.

  285. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Thanks Willard, I may be some time….

  286. Willard says:

  287. izen says:

    D minor is the saddest key.

    (actually this was only true before ~1750 when the scale tuning system changed.)

  288. Steven Mosher says:

    “What’s clear, I think, is that Jordan holds that the most absolute moral imperative is something like survival, or survivability, or good survivability, which in Jordan’s historical revisions become the idea of the Good we inherited from the fathers (Logos meaning father too, presumably) of Western Cilization. This ain’t POMO relativism at all.”

    Thank you.

  289. Willard says:

    Let’s chill with Chilly Gonzalez, guys:

    D major can be one of the happiest key. It may help get lucky. Getting lucky should be very important for a Darwinian.

  290. Joshua says:

    Jordan holds that the most absolute moral imperative is something like survival, or survivability, or good survivability, which in Jordan’s historical revisions become the idea of the Good we inherited from the fathers (Logos meaning father too, presumably) of Western Cilization.

    See, here we go. The logic of that suggests to me the argument that because ancient western civilizations survived on the labor of slaves, slavery represents a “moral truth. ”

    All I can say is that it’s a good thing that I can’t understand this stuff, because if I did understand this this stuff, I might be inclined to consider what Jordan says to be nonsense.

  291. izen says:

    The apologetics like him because he is prompting young men to join churches.
    http://anglicanmainstream.org/jordan-peterson-turning-young-western-men-into-christians-again/
    Anyone have ideas about why his appeal is predominately to a male audience?

  292. Everett F Sargent says:

    Joshua,

    “See, here we go. The logic of that suggests to me the argument that because ancient western civilizations survived on the labor of slaves, slavery represents a “moral truth.”

    Exactly. That would be counted as very much a very big negative in my “Damage Function” idea.

    “All I can say is that it’s a good thing that I can’t understand this stuff, because if I did understand this this stuff, I might be inclined to consider what Jordan says to be nonsense.”

    Exactly. Peterson has said on numerous occasions that he has no ideology. That makes the 0-10 irony meter become a virtual perpetual motion machine, it starts spinning and will not stop spinning until Peterson shuffles off this mortal coil.

    The World According to Peterson in four easy steps …
    (0) There is a ‘so called’ incontrovertible moral truth (to use his own words against him)
    (1) Him who is I am, Jebus, is the Logos (effin’ hey, logos is (formal) logic in rhetoric, not the hero myths, logos (logic) existed before Christianity for Hell’s sake, from my POV)
    (2) I (JBP) preach the Christian credo.
    (4) Because of (0) above (e. g. eternal truth) JBP does not believe that he is engaging in, or has, an ideology (because truth, life, the universe and everything).

    Could someone pass the dunce cap to JBP, because, circular logic, tautology, vacuous truth, begging the question, …

    From the bad book of Peterson the Incompetent.

  293. Everett F Sargent says:

    izen,

    Your link goes to, and then through to, a rabid right wingnut site called “Today in Politics” which is definitely not to my taste. Just taking note.

  294. Harry Twinotter says:

    Izen.

    “Anyone have ideas about why his appeal is predominately to a male audience?”

    My opinion is if you look at some of the pwnage videos on YouTube, Jordan’s anti-SJW, anti-neo feminism and free speech opinions have been “claimed” by the anti-SJW outrage crowd who seem to be mostly males. Think Sargon of Akkad…

    But outspoken social commentators cannot control who “claims” them, of course.

  295. izen says:

    @-Everett F Sargent
    “Your link goes to, and then through to, a rabid right wingnut site called “Today in Politics” which is definitely not to my taste.”

    My apologies.
    I had not clicked-thru to the source site for the article, just picked the first link (of many) from an obviously religious source complimenting JP on his recruitment effect.

    Now that I look at the ‘Anglican Mainstream’ site I see that most of its referenced articles are about the sexual degeneracy of western secularism, the remainder decrying the terrible persecution real true christian face…

    I must admit to a failing, I find it extremely difficult to endure more than a few seconds, or a few paragraphs, of JP’s nonsense, so my exposure to him is shallow or second-hand. The thin membrane between JP and the dank neo-fascist depths of the interwebs comes as no surprise.

    I find him almost as annoying as the parade of ‘experts’ on the MSM this past week with the message, “move along, nothing to see here, its all perfectly legitimate…” in response to the Paradise papers.

    (sorry for the off-topic news reference!)

  296. Willard says:

    > Anyone have ideas about why his appeal is predominately to a male audience?

    Many started their fight for freedom in reaction to gaming haslitudes, one episode surrounding the astroSH tag over the tweeter. The demographic is not exclusively male:

    .https://twitter.com/nevaudit/lists/freedomfighters

    If you look at the commenters to Jordan’s latest tweet, you’ll see some self-identified women:

    As for why Jordan attracts a male-oriented coterie, could be many things. Could be the need for a manly self-absorbed role-model. Could be the thrill of a fight. Rising up to the challenge of our rival. And the last known Freedom Fighter stalks his prey on the Internet. And he watches us all with his eye of the tiger.

    Everyone – I am receiving guests today. Please behave.

  297. Steven Mosher says:

    “See, here we go. The logic of that suggests to me the argument that because ancient western civilizations survived on the labor of slaves, slavery represents a “moral truth. ”

    Not that meaning of the term survivial.

    Survivial as a species. metaphorically slavery would be a vestigal moral organ

  298. Steven Mosher says:

  299. Steven Mosher says:

    different perspective

  300. Joshua says:

    Survivial as a species.

    So everything, anyone has ever done, is a moral truth, since the species has survived?

    Or anything, anyone has ever done, is a vestigial moral organ since the species has survived?

    I still don’t see any tools or mechanisms for categorizing, measuring, or “justifying” how to distinguish a moral truth from a moral non-truth or a moral near truth or a moral true enough truth or an immoral truth, etc. Do we just take Peterson’s word for it? What do we do if he’s not around or in the bathroom or out of cell phone range?

    What happens if the species dies out? Does everything switch over from a moral truth to a moral non-truth or an immoral truth?

  301. Steven Mosher says:

    So everything, anyone has ever done, is a moral truth, since the species has survived?

    I imagine he would say no. There are things Im sure he would classify as non moral

    Or anything, anyone has ever done, is a vestigial moral organ since the species has survived?

    No, see above. Binary thinking …

    “I still don’t see any tools or mechanisms for categorizing, measuring, or “justifying” how to distinguish a moral truth from a moral non-truth or a moral near truth or a moral true enough truth or an immoral truth, etc. Do we just take Peterson’s word for it? What do we do if he’s not around or in the bathroom or out of cell phone range?”

    The only issue is that almost every moral system breaks down when you actually try to use it.
    I went to walgreens today and looked for a scale of the “good” cause I wanted to maximize it,
    but they had sold out. If you are not careful with the requirements for a moral theory that you
    impose on his construction, you may find your own suffering from the same flaws.

    What happens if the species dies out? Does everything switch over from a moral truth to a moral non-truth or an immoral truth?

    Tree falls in the woods question. This question presupposes a metaphysical frame of reference.

  302. Joshua says:

    No, see above. Binary thinking …

    I don’t think I’m suggesting a binary construct at all. I think I’m asking for a system to distinguish graduations, to determine relative measures – which seems to me to be pretty much the the exact opposite if a binary construct.

    you may find your own suffering from the same flaws.

    Of course. That’s why I would never lay claim to a flawless moral theory. The very notion of a flawless moral theory strikes me as nonsensical. I’m not claiming a moral theory that determines “truths.” it seems to me that Peterson is. Seems to me that to asset a “truth,” you have to make a claim of flawlessness. That’s why a good scientist wouldn’t lay claim to a “truth.” I think that “truth” is incompatible with moral theories. That’s why I’ve been asking for someone to explain what a “moral truth” might look like, how the truthiness or morality can be measured. It seems to me that moral theories are subjective. Claiming a moral truth suggests to me a state of objectivity. I don’t understand how morals can be objective.

    Tree falls in the woods question.

    IMO, it’s a tree falls in the woods theory. It seems to me that it states that we can determine “truth” on the basis of outcome, by offering what seems to me a vague and subjective criterion for evaluating outcome, that has no form (except, maybe, in his mind), but that is dressed up as some kind of objective standard. How can we determine whether anything forms a “truth” of survivability until we have longer survived (when we can’t do it anyway)? For all we know, anything that appears to us now as having enabled us to survive will extinguish our species.


    This question presupposes a metaphysical frame of reference.

    Seems to me that the concept of “moral truth” presupposes a metaphysical frame of reference. But maybe not. So then maybe you can explain how it presupposes a non-metaphysical frame of reference? It seems to me that you’re explaining what it isn’t, but that doesn’t help me to understand what it is. How about you explain what it is?

    How can we distinguish “moral truth” from non-moral truth, or moral non-truth, or immoral truth, or immoral non-truth? Keep in mind you’re going to have to dumb it down for me to understand. Maybe an impossible task, but give it a shot.

  303. Willard says:

    > What happens if the species dies out?

    Other species may still exist. Conceptual frameworks built by humans wouldn’t be used by humans anymore. Eventually, all species die.

    Sam presented Jordan with a similar problem, and Jordan did not really answer:

    [Sam] Jordan it could continually change because, again this check never gets finally cashed unless everyone dies.

    [Jordan] I know. Well that’s part of the Darwinian problem.

    I doubt there’s much darwinism in Jordan’s take.

  304. Joshua says:

    Conceptual frameworks built by humans wouldn’t be used by humans anymore.

    Well yes. But then do all those “moral truths” that were “moral truths” because the species survived (as near as I can tell that is the only criterion for determining truth) become… non-moral truths, or moral non truths, or immoral truths, or…. unicorns?

  305. Steven Mosher says:

    “In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.”

  306. Steven Mosher says:

    “Other species may still exist. Conceptual frameworks built by humans wouldn’t be used by humans anymore. Eventually, all species die.”

    I am betting on this guy

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2280286/Meet-toughest-animal-planet-The-water-bear-survive-frozen-boiled-float-space-live-200-years.html

    Hmm a while back I posted two Poems by tennyson.

    One, Ulysses, in which the character essentially says he only wants to live as long as he can be victorious. The length of a life ( of anything) doesnt have the value, the achievment has the value.
    The Other, Tithonus, is about a character who wished for eternal life. Only to discover that life only has meaning because it will end.

    which brings us back to that silly question about which do you value more truth or life.

  307. izen says:

    @-“Maybe we should endeavour to not make this a discussion about Peterson, but – if people are interested – a discussion about whether or not knowledge can emerge from a process that is inherently non-empirical.”

    Despite this early plee from ATTP, JP has become a focus, not least because his contribution to the debate about knowledge has become socially fashionable and provocative.
    I did manage to watch several minutes of JP’s 2+hr exposition, or justification (apologia?) for the moral truth behind worshiping a deity that demands you burn to death your only son.

    Took a bottle of wine to ameliorate the phsychic damage!

    But JP and his decidedly non-empirical assertions of derivable knowledge are pretty much an irrelevence as any basis for critques of scientific knowledge.

    At the risk of offending Willard, the difficulties of defining ‘TRUTH’ and the unhelpful contribution of POMO in this philisophical area are also a trivial aspect of any problems scientific knowledge has in gaining acceptence in a wider social context where it should/could drive action. Except as I mentioned earlier when it is coopted by those with a ideological or theological reason to reject the otherwise credible findings of empirical research.

    It is NOT POMO or the errors of Descartian dualism that drives the refusal to embrace the best empirical understanding we have in the real-politic of communal action on something like climate change.

  308. izen says:

    @-SM

    While I have enjoyed your musical contributions to this argument I am going to use the response you have made up-thread to those you view as too uninformed about the subject to make a usefull contribution.
    Especially in light of the banal and shallow corperate content-filler masquerading as ‘education’ you most recently posted.

    “I think most folks here have little idea of what is actually done as scholarship in the humanities.
    Maybe you read a joke paper or two.”

    Try this non-joke paper.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/110/Supplement_2/10430.full

    And listen harder.

  309. Everett F Sargent says:

    “which brings us back to that silly question about which do you value more truth or life.”

  310. Willard says:

    > But then do all those “moral truths” that were “moral truths” because the species survived (as near as I can tell that is the only criterion for determining truth) become… non-moral truths, or moral non truths, or immoral truths, or…. unicorns?

    They become moral untruths for the other species who can have the cognitive means to evaluate such thing, or from the transcendantal perspective of unicorn-like entities.

    In the end, the end matters:

    Consequentialism is the view that morality is all about producing the right kinds of overall consequences. Here the phrase “overall consequences” of an action means everything the action brings about, including the action itself. For example, if you think that the whole point of morality is (a) to spread happiness and relieve suffering, or (b) to create as much freedom as possible in the world, or (c) to promote the survival of our species, then you accept consequentialism. Although those three views disagree about which kinds of consequences matter, they agree that consequences are all that matters. […]

    Consequentialism is controversial.

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/conseque/

    Sam should have known better.

  311. izen says:

    @-W
    “In the end, the end matters:”

    Moral Consequentialism gets it backwards.
    The means justify the end.

  312. Willard says:

    > Because he bought into Platonic Dualism.

    I’m not sure Descartes bought substance dualism that much, but then I’m no Descartes scholar. I suspect other socio-historical reasons are at stake. Popper, that contrarian hero, abides by an interactionism that resembles the most what we usually call Cartesian dualism. By contrast, predicate dualism is uncontroversial and property dualism is still quite dominant. David Chalmers made dualism great again with his zombie arguments:

    There is an argument, which has roots in Descartes (Meditation VI), which is a modal argument for dualism. One might put it as follows:

    (1) It is imaginable that one’s mind might exist without one’s body.
    therefore

    (2) It is conceivable that one’s mind might exist without one’s body.
    therefore

    (3) It is possible one’s mind might exist without one’s body.
    therefore

    (4) One’s mind is a different entity from one’s body.

    The rationale of the argument is a move from imaginability to real possibility. I include (2) because the notion of conceivability has one foot in the psychological camp, like imaginability, and one in the camp of pure logical possibility and therefore helps in the transition from one to the other.

    This argument should be distinguished from a similar ‘conceivability’ argument, often known as the ‘zombie hypothesis’, which claims the imaginability and possibility of my body (or, in some forms, a body physically just like it) existing without there being any conscious states associated with it. (See, for example, Chalmers (1996), 94–9.) This latter argument, if sound, would show that conscious states were something over and above physical states. It is a different argument because the hypothesis that the unaltered body could exist without the mind is not the same as the suggestion that the mind might continue to exist without the body, nor are they trivially equivalent. The zombie argument establishes only property dualism and a property dualist might think disembodied existence inconceivable—for example, if he thought the identity of a mind through time depended on its relation to a body (e.g., Penelhum 1970).

    Before Kripke (1972/80), the first challenge to such an argument would have concerned the move from (3) to (4). When philosophers generally believed in contingent identity, that move seemed to them invalid. But nowadays that inference is generally accepted and the issue concerns the relation between imaginability and possibility. No-one would nowadays identify the two (except, perhaps, for certain quasi-realists and anti-realists), but the view that imaginability is a solid test for possibility has been strongly defended.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dualism

    Imaginability may be useful to get a hold of Jordan’s evasive Darwinist perspective. What he’s presenting as Darwinian looks more like what has been known in philosophical circles as natural teleology:

    Suppose […] that an organism’s teleological profile is indeed shaped by the facts of the evolutionary history that ultimately explain how it was put together as the organized functional system it is. In that case, organisms will be teleologically organized ultimately and generally toward the end (roughly) of passing along germ-line copies of their genes as well as or better than rival conspecifics (this being the unifying effect non-incidentally promoted by all of the organism’s proper-functional traits)—rather than toward the end of flourishing as such in any richer, intuitive sense. Since this has little to do with what we would think of as ultimately and generally relevant to ethical normativity when applied to the human case, it seems doubtful that the normative framework provided by natural teleology can be of any help in thinking about the normative framework of ethics […]

    It could conceivably have been different. If natural teleology were the result of benevolent intelligent design with human flourishing in view, as a kind of analogue of artificial teleology for a divine designer, then we might be able to understand natural functions and ends ultimately in terms of the good or flourishing of the organisms in question. In that case, it might make sense to think of ethical norms as a species of natural teleological norms as applied to the reason-involving sphere of human life (practical deliberation, feeling, choice and action). If, however, the true account of the structures of functions and ends we find in living things is a result of evolution rather than intelligent design, and we need to appeal to the evolutionary history behind the assembly of those structures in order to understand them as such, then the overall shape of natural teleology will look very different, and it will hold out little hope for serving as the basis of ethical normativity when applied to human life. This is one way, then, in which evolutionary biology seems to have a clear and direct bearing on certain philosophical projects in metaethics, undermining approaches that once appeared promising but may no longer be viable.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-biology/natural-teleology-ethics.html

    Appealing to proper functions while putting them into a pragmatism box looks more like what I would expect from a confused undergraduate than from a rockstar professor.

  313. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    What he’s presenting as Darwinian looks more like what has been known in philosophical circles as natural teleology:

    Yup.
    The tip-off was when he claimed that something could be “wrong in the Darwinian sense”.

    Perhaps the ends justify the unicorns.

  314. Joshua says:

    The means justify the end.

    Thanks for that. That helps me (I think?) to get some kind of pattern in the discussion. Also, I would say that is a good way to describe my, apparently competing, understanding of a “moral system,” as yes, it seems to me that if one had to choose, the means justify the end, morally, rather than the other way around. Of course, such a system may well result in sub-optimal outcomes, but hey, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. And the cookie doesn’t always survive.

  315. Joshua says:

    VTG –

    What does “wrong in the Darwinian sense” mean? Or perhaps I should say, how does one measure or determine that?

  316. Joshua says:

    Oops, I meant Rev, not VTG.

  317. Willard says:

    > The ENglish translation given on Wikipedia […] seem to support the interpretation of a first step in a non-empirical (in the sens of something externally verifiable, you for instance can’t be sure I think – not always too clear on that myself ;o) theory on what is knowable.

    Indeed it does, Dikran, but note the part where René says, after rejecting the three modes by which we are connected to an external reality (the senses, the formal realm, and consciousness):

    But immediately upon this I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be something; And as I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am,[c] was so certain and of such evidence that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the Sceptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the philosophy of which I was in search

    The very nature of that “observation” is dual. As the direct effect of a meditation, it could be something like an intuition; as the indirect result of a thought experiment, it looks more like an inference. Sometimes authors speak of induction and deduction, but it can be confusing if one does not distinguish the different kinds of induction and deduction that could be at work in the meditation.

  318. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    What does “wrong in the Darwinian sense” mean?

    Good question. I have no idea. And I suspect that JP hasn’t either.

    As Willard has said up-thread, JP seems to hold that the most absolute moral imperative is survival.

    He seems to want his deontology to be teleological.
    He seems to want his Jesus and eat Him too.

    But really, who knows? Some rock star professors seem to be theory-rich and data-poor.

  319. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “… it seems to me that if one had to choose, the means justify the end, morally, rather than the other way around. Of course, such a system may well result in sub-optimal outcomes, but hey, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. And the cookie doesn’t always survive. ”

    The cookie always crumbles, it can sometimes provide sustinence, at best pleasure.
    There is even a metaphysic for it, or at least an 8-fold path.

    But as the question in this song suggests the crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe.

  320. izen says:

    @-W
    “The rationale of the argument is a move from imaginability to real possibility”

    Sounds like Anselms argument. Trying to prop that up didn’t work out to well for Godel…

    Its a long time since I took this stuff seriously, and thinking about it these days makes my head hurt…(grin)

    Used to be a hard-line anti-Dualist, (monist?). Then a few years back I read Neal stephenson Anatheum. Now I am a bit more equivocal.
    Two is still a really stupid number though.

  321. Willard says:

    > it seems to me that if one had to choose, the means justify the end, morally, rather than the other way around

    I don’t think one has to choose, as ends and means are both important. Philip Pettit argued quite convincingly that a minimal form of consequentialism was inescapable. The idea that all that matters are ends is not that popular, and may never be. The tension is important on a theorical level, but it’s mostly academic for the point I want to make.

    That point is this: it’s easier to understand half-baked theories like Jordan’s when one has a good cartography of the field.

  322. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    Thanks for the 5:22.

    The tension is important on a theorical level,

    Well, going with your point that one doesn’t have to choose, I find on a non-theoretical level (i.e., in how I try to implement a moral system) that yes, the tension is extremely important.

    That point is this: it’s easier to understand half-baked theories like Jordan’s when one has a good cartography of the field.

    Acknowledged. And thanks for your help in seeing the cartography.

  323. Willard says:

    Reading back the exchange, I think this is where Jordan almost gives away his teleology:

    [S] We could create a kind of prison planet for ourselves, where everyone gets tortured as long as possible even the torturers. And nobody likes it.

    [J] Yes, well I would say that the probability that that game would sustain itself for very long is low. You know it would probably degenerate, hell, you know why hell is a bottomless pit, right?

    Instead of chasing down Jordan’s hellish squirrel, let’s jump to the next bit where Jordan takes the example of the Irish elk:

    [J] Well, let’s look at it this way, look at it this way. So let’s take the Irish elk as an example. So one of the things that happened to the Irish elk, we think, because he went extinct, was that sexual selection sort of got out of control and the female fixated on antler width, and the poor damn elk ended up with like a 12 foot rack, and that didn’t, you know this is obviously a post-hoc theory, but sexual selection can account for runaway transformations like that. And the poor elk got a rack so big that it really wasn’t commensurate with their survival, although I guess we might say “well I guess there was something wrong with what the female elk decided to focus on” but we didn’t really know that so we went extinct, and I see that is precisely analogous to the point that I’m making right now. We’re concentrating on certain things in a certain way and it’s a scientific way, let’s say, which is flawed and insufficient, although very powerful. And it it needs to be subordinated to something else. It must be, or it will be fatal.

    [S] Of course. I can grant all of that, again, there’s certain ways of paying attention that are dangerous right? There certain things that we shouldn’t be doing which we are tempted to do.

    [J] Right. And I think one of those things is defining the world as in a materialist realist terms. I happen to think that. And I have my reasons.

    To say “I have my reasons” may not be the best way to justify one’s beliefs in a rational discussion. These dogwhistled reasons do not seem to be required to support the idea that our scientific knowledge needs to be kept in check with some kind of wisdom. All we need is to accept that our knowledge is value-laden.

    Kurt Vonnegut Jr. may have been a shortstop to all of this.

  324. Willard says:

    Perhaps I should clarify that Jordan’s “I would say that the probability that that game would sustain itself for very long is low” echoes the idea that

    If natural teleology were the result of benevolent intelligent design with human flourishing in view, as a kind of analogue of artificial teleology for a divine designer, then we might be able to understand natural functions and ends ultimately in terms of the good or flourishing of the organisms in question.

    One way to make sure we don’t devolve into a Hell pit is to posit a wisdom function that naturally orients mankind toward the best of the possible world it can build. That function could in part be inherited by our biology, but its crucial component would come, according to how I interpret Jordan, from our cultural heritage. What he refers to as “cultural marxism” would then be a threat to this natural teleology to operate.

    So according to that story neutral pronouns are as threatening to mankind as the atom bomb.

  325. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    That point is this: it’s easier to understand half-baked theories like Jordan’s when one has a good cartography of the field.

    To continue that mixed metaphor: A good disciplinary cartography can show you THAT a theory is half-baked.

    However – Ease of understanding is often not an attainable goal where half-baked theories are concerned. Half-baked theories are usually hard to understand, precisely because of the half-baking. If you’re going to that much trouble to get bread to bake, it maybe time to start from scratch with fresh ingredients.

    Put another way:
    Seeking global topographic coherence where there is only a crayon sketch of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood may lead weary travelers to a trap street or even a Sandy Island.


    I guess we might say “well I guess there was something wrong with what the female elk decided to focus on”

    There’s that “wrong in the Darwinian sense” again…


    Kurt Vonnegut Jr. may have been a shortstop to all of this.

    In a million years, I guess our ancestors might ‘have their reasons’ to say (if they can reason and speak at all) that there was something wrong with what those big brains decided to focus on.

    If only that “wisdom function” were tractable and not recursive.

  326. Willard says:

    > If you’re going to that much trouble to get bread to bake, it maybe time to start from scratch with fresh ingredients.

    Sometimes all it’s missing is a bit of salt:

    Once I understood that the guy wasn’t a Freedom Fighter but a religious communautarian, we could connect. Our main difficulty was that his intuitions weren’t articulated with a vocabulary that made much sense.

    Most of the times it’s not the religiousness the problem, but the pretentiousness.

  327. Everett F Sargent says:

    Willard,

    So according to that story neutral pronouns are as threatening to mankind as the atom bomb.

    I don’t know if you’ve seen this article …
    The Pronoun Warrior
    https://torontolife.com/city/u-t-professor-sparked-vicious-battle-gender-neutral-pronouns/

  328. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    “Religious communautarian” – I like it.

    Both FFs and RCs have discovered the End of the World as We Know It.
    Something must be done.
    Think of the children.
    Teach the controversy.

  329. izen says:

    @-“And the poor elk got a rack so big that it really wasn’t commensurate with their survival, although I guess we might say “well I guess there was something wrong with what the female elk decided to focus on” but we didn’t really know that so we went extinct, and I see that is precisely analogous to the point that I’m making right now. ”

    No surprise that JP gets his Darwinism wrong.

    And blames female choice.

    The Irish Elk went extinct from climate change destroying the ‘tundra’ plant ecology and habitat it was adapted to. And possibly human predation.

    Late examples show shrinking size, so it was not constrained by female choice to excessive or maladaptive antler size.

    Like a large amount of the mammalian megafauna (with and without exaggerated sexual selective features) it survived through several glacial cycles and then went extinct at the start of the Holocene. If it could have reflected on its demise it might have said;
    “well I guess we became too dependent on a specific climate and ecology to provide enough food. And our big antlers are no defence against these hairless apes who can throw sticks and stones at us.”

    As for the advantages of cartography…
    Mosher posted that bit of Borges above, but it is a rip-off of Lewis Carroll, who had a better punch line.

    ‘That’s another thing we’ve learned from your Nation,” said Mein Herr, “map-making. But we’ve carried it much further than you. What do you consider the largest map that would be really useful?”

    “About six inches to the mile.”

    “Only six inches!” exclaimed Mein Herr. “We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a hundred yards to the mile. And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile!”

    “Have you used it much?” I enquired.

    “It has never been spread out, yet,” said Mein Herr: “the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.”

  330. Willard says:

    Nice ones, Everett, Rev, and Izen. Here’s my raise:

  331. Steven Mosher says:

    At some point we will circle back to what folks said about music on prior threads

  332. Steven Mosher says:

    “I don’t think I’m suggesting a binary construct at all. I think I’m asking for a system to distinguish graduations, to determine relative measures – which seems to me to be pretty much the the exact opposite if a binary construct.”

    you realize that a system of gradiation is nothing more than a binary system with a hierarchy

  333. Steven Mosher says:

    “@-“Maybe we should endeavour to not make this a discussion about Peterson, but – if people are interested – a discussion about whether or not knowledge can emerge from a process that is inherently non-empirical.”

    willard answered that. yes. math and logic

    Hmm after trying to restart the discussion by rewinding the tape to descartes ( say Rorty’s jumping off point) perhaps it would help to rewind the tape to the Vienna Circle.

    It appears that many folks are stuck there conceptually, without really knowing it.
    ( especially with the claims of thats nonsense)

    Then after That, Willard could explain Quine. We dont even have to go back to the continent and the POMO that arises from the “crisis” in epistemology. We can stay in the “pro science” intelligent branchs of philsophy

  334. Steven Mosher says:

    “Mosher posted that bit of Borges above, but it is a rip-off of Lewis Carroll, who had a better punch line.”

    Different punchline, different target.

    Both favorite authors of mine, wonder why?

    We would call it an allusion to Carroll and would explain the differences.

  335. Steven Mosher says:

    “Reading back the exchange, I think this is where Jordan almost gives away his teleology:”

    “So careful of the type?” but no.
    From scarped cliff and quarried stone
    She cries, “A thousand types are gone:
    I care for nothing, all shall go.

  336. Steven Mosher says:

    “That point is this: it’s easier to understand half-baked theories like Jordan’s when one has a good cartography of the field.”

    yup.

  337. izen says:

    @-SM
    “We would call it an allusion to Carroll and would explain the differences.”

    Fair enough.
    Must admit I did not recognise the Borges quote so have no idea of its context, just guessed from style and source.

  338. Steven Mosher says:

    then you are not funes the memorius

  339. Steven Mosher says:

    “Must admit I did not recognise the Borges quote so have no idea of its context, just guessed from style and source.”

    ironies

  340. izen says:

    @-SM
    “willard answered that. yes. math and logic”

    Begs the question of whether they are empirical discoveries, or invented tools.

  341. Willard says:

    > Begs the question of whether they are empirical discoveries, or invented tools.

    No need to beg. Assume they are. What does it tell you about the realm of the empirical?

  342. dikranmarsupial says:

    “The very nature of that “observation” is dual. As the direct effect of a meditation, it could be something like an intuition; as the indirect result of a thought experiment, it looks more like an inference. Sometimes authors speak of induction and deduction, but it can be confusing if one does not distinguish the different kinds of induction and deduction that could be at work in the meditation.”

    My point was that doesn’t fit in the normal usage of scientific empiricism any more than personal revelation does. You cannot verify that I think, you can only take my word for it, at best we can all only use it as evidence of our own existence (up to a point), but it isn’t “justifiable belief” for you to believe in my existence on that basis. It isn’t verifiable, repeatable or falsifiable AFAICS.

    Descartes did however include the “therefore (donc)” and what he wrote does have meaning when that word is included.

  343. izen says:

    @-W
    “No need to beg. Assume they are. What does it tell you about the realm of the empirical?”

    Aaargh! Hoist by my own petard!
    I posed the question as a knotty problem for otters.
    And went to bed worrying about the implications for the 4 options.
    (either, neither or both)

    Think I prefer ‘both’.
    Semi-empirical inferences…

    That it’s problematic might indicate it is ill defined.
    Not convinced that has much impact on the practice of scientific discovery though…

  344. Willard says:

    > You cannot verify that I think, you can only take my word for it, at best we can all only use it as evidence of our own existence (up to a point), but it isn’t “justifiable belief” for you to believe in my existence on that basis. It isn’t verifiable, repeatable or falsifiable AFAICS.

    You can verify what you think, up to a point. I can do the same with my thoughts. We can share them. What we share becomes intersubjective. There may be difference with perceptual reports, but it’s more a matter of degree than a difference in kind.

    Interestingly, verificationism is related to the idea that some metaphysics-free knowledge-base can help us distinguish what makes sense from nonsense:

    If Frege and Russell were right, then mathematics could be thought of as expressing no more than logical truths and handled in whatever way logic was to be treated. For Frege both mathematics and logic were analytic, but that, even if true, does not provide the needed answers. Wittgenstein’s no-content theory of logic suggested that all of the real claims, the ones that had genuine content, could be appropriately supported by experience, and the logical and hence mathematical claims had no content to support. This seemed to open the way for a thoroughgoing empiricism in which the logical and mathematical fit in with the ordinary claims of physics and biology in a harmonious way. The next subsection about analyticity discusses the question of whether the needed distinctions can be drawn.

    In developing his theory of types Russell said in effect that some expressions that seem to be sentences in fact say nothing at all. This is because, despite appearances, they are not grammatically well formed. Wittgenstein found this suggestive. In the Tractatus he suggested that much else was nonsense as well including traditional metaphysics and supposed claims about the “higher”. When in late 1929 Wittgenstein proposed (Waismann 1967/1979), in conversations with Schlick and Waismann, a strict verificationism as a basis for identifying the legitimate parts of discourse, this seemed to the logical empiricists to be a very attractive tool for setting aside the unscientific parts of philosophy.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logical-empiricism/#EmpVerAntMet

    ***

    > Descartes did however include the “therefore (donc)” and what he wrote does have meaning when that word is included.

    It doesn’t mean what you make it mean, but I won’t repeat what I said a third time.

  345. dikranmarsupial says:

    “It doesn’t mean what you make it mean, but I won’t repeat what I said a third time.”

    yawn. Yes it does and it is clear from the translation of the quote in its entirety that it was an attempt to see what could be learned starting from a state of complete empirical skepticism.

  346. Willard says:

    ­> Yes it does and it is clear from the translation of the quote in its entirety that it was an attempt to see what could be learned starting from a state of complete empirical skepticism.

    “It” being a meditation, a thought experiment (in principle) anyone could do and share. Descartes does not argue that he exists, but that anyone who’d entertain systematic doubt cannot do so without thinking, and that with thinking comes being.

    The inference between doubting, thinking, and being is nothing without meditating for realz. It doesn’t stand alone. There’s no closed deduction there, otherwise one could replace thinking with anything, e.g. I eat therefore I am. If you don’t put yourself in front of Descartes’ stove and entertain the whole gamut within yourself, his argument falls apart.

    What’s more is that Descartes already parried that objection. He published both, along with his Meditations. The Meditations might very well be one of the first Western peer-reviewed pieces of lichurchur.

    Yawn indeed.

  347. Steven Mosher says:

    this will be fun

  348. Can anyone provide an example of someone claiming that science implies that there is no need for a value system? I’m not personally aware of any scientists would argue that scientific truths somehow override values. Most – I think – would argue that science attempts to describe/understand the system being observed, while values guide how our societies operate. Peterson seems to be arguing that there is this conflict, which may be true in some sense, but mainly seems to be more to do with inconvenient truths, than with a sense that scientific truths somehow define/override our values.

  349. dikranmarsupial says:

    ““It” being a meditation” The meditaion is not the publication in which the quote “je pense, donc je suis” (I think therefore I am actually appears, it appears in the Discourse on the Method, not the Meditations. I have already pointed that out.

    “There’s no closed deduction there, otherwise one could replace thinking with anything, e.g. I eat therefore I am”

    That wouldn’t be a valid analogy as the only way we know we eat is by sense perceptions, of which Descartes says we cannot be certain. That is the point, the fact that something is thinking is all we can be sure of.

  350. dikranmarsupial says:

    If we go back to the English translation

    “(English:) Accordingly, seeing that our senses sometimes deceive us, I was willing to suppose that there existed nothing really such as they presented to us; And because some men err in reasoning, and fall into Paralogisms, even on the simplest matters of Geometry, I, convinced that I was as open to error as any other, rejected as false all the reasonings I had hitherto taken for Demonstrations; And finally, when I considered that the very same thoughts (presentations) which we experience when awake may also be experienced when we are asleep, while there is at that time not one of them true, I supposed that all the objects (presentations) that had ever entered into my mind when awake, had in them no more truth than the illusions of my dreams. But immediately upon this I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be something; And as I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am,[c] was so certain and of such evidence that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the Sceptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the philosophy of which I was in search”

    The fact that we can dream that we eat means that we obviously can’t replace “je pense, donc je suis” with “je mange, donc je suis”.

    Descartes marginal note from the Principles of Philosophy “That we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt, and that this is the first knowledge we acquire when we philosophize in order.” makes it completely explicit that Descartes view this as the first step we can take in a gaining knowledge without relying on observations of reality (which necessarily involve perceptions).

  351. dikranmarsupial says:

    I should point out that I am not arguing that Descartes is necessarily correct, just that I can see how there would be scope for purely abstract, non-empirical scholarship in the humanities (and in science), and that was what Descartes was apparently trying to do.

  352. dikranmarsupial says:

    ATTP perhaps Peterson is thinking of scientism (in sense 2) rather than science? You don’t need values to say what is, but you do to say what ought to be.

  353. Joshua says:

    I think that atheist scientists and religious fundamentalists converge on at least one fundamental and moral truth…

    … That is one God awful sweater.
    weater.

  354. Steven Mosher says:

    “That is the point, the fact that something is thinking is all we can be sure of.”
    and that the thinking is always thinking of.
    and now you have the begining of phenomenology.
    Because the thinking isnt just merely empty thinking.. it is thinking of.. thinking of something

  355. Steven Mosher says:

    No dk.
    He was trying to build a foundation for all knowledge.

  356. @SM yes, fair point (foundation for all knowledge).

  357. Steven Mosher says:

    The next step dk, is the cartesian ontological argument. That god exists and that he is no deciever, and
    that he created us with faculties that, if used properly, will give of true knowledge of the world, both
    conceptual and empricial. It’s all grounded in the cogito.

    fast forward, remove god from the equation and then you will see people argue that “evolution” is the “creator” of our thinking aparatus and that we adapt and survive because our brains, when properly used, are representing the truth to us.

  358. Joshua says:

    What does an improper use of the brain look like?

  359. Joshua says:

    I mean outside of the obvious answer that I should just read one of my own comments.

  360. Dikran Marsupial says:

    I don’t think we need go further, as a Bayesian, I don’t think there is much point in looking for certain knowledge outside e.g. maths. All knowledge regarding the real world is uncertain to some degree, and the thing to do is work out when the uncertainty is negligible, at least for whatever question is being addressed at the time. I’m not sure that can be done by rigour, rather than common sense.

  361. Willard says:

    > That wouldn’t be a valid analogy as the only way we know we eat is by sense perceptions, of which Descartes says we cannot be certain. That is the point, the fact that something is thinking is all we can be sure of.

    First, it must be noted that Descartes also says we cannot be certain of our a priori knowledge:

    That [error perception] is possibly why our reasoning is not unjust when we conclude from this that Physics, Astronomy, Medicine and all other sciences which have as their end the consideration of composite things, are very dubious and uncertain; but that Arithmetic, Geometry and other sciences of that kind which only treat of things that are very simple and very general, without taking great trouble to ascertain whether they are actually existent or not, contain some measure of certainty and an element of the indubitable. For whether I am awake or asleep, two and three together always form five, and the square can never have more than four sides, and it does not seem possible that truths so clear and apparent can be suspected of any falsity [or uncertainty].

    Nevertheless I have long had fixed in my mind the belief that an all-powerful God existed by whom I have been created such as I am. But how do I know that He has not brought it to pass that there is no earth, no heaven, no extended body, no magnitude, no place, and that nevertheless [I possess the perceptions of all these things and that] they seem to me to exist just exactly as I now see them? And, besides, as I sometimes imagine that others deceive themselves in the things which they think they know best, how do I know that I am not deceived every time that I add two and three, or count the sides of a square, or judge of things yet simpler, if anything simpler can be imagined? But possibly God has not desired that I should be thus deceived, for He is said to be supremely good. If, however, it is contrary to His goodness to have made me such that I constantly deceive myself, it would also appear to be contrary to His goodness to permit me to be sometimes deceived, and nevertheless I cannot doubt that He does permit this.

    http://selfpace.uconn.edu/class/percep/DescartesMeditations.pdf

    He then accepts that the benevolent God warranting his logical apparatus, the Logos that backs up his Reason, may be a fable. Only after that does he reach a point of hyperbolic doubt.

    Now, how could Descartes infer that he is if he doubts everything produced by the inferential windmills of his mind? He Kant. The certainty of his ego sum, ego existo must come from an ergo that is not the same kind as the usual inference we present with a “therefore.” It must come from the realization that he can’t deny his existence while meditating.

    That the thing that thinks (res cogitans) exists because it can’t be denied may not satisfy everyone. It did not satisfy Hobbes. It should not convince anti-realists. But as far as I can see, it’s not incoherent and it has a very big advantage: we still share a robust intuition that we exist.

    ***

    Second, another reason why Descartes’ cogito can’t be inferential is because [thus considered] it could follow from any other activity than meditating:

    Turning to the second Meditation, I see that you still pretend·to have been deceived about everything·, but you go on to recognize at least that you, the pretender, exist. And you conclude that the proposition I am or I exist is true whenever it comes before you, i.e. is conceived by your mind. But I can’t see that you needed all this apparatus, when you were already rightly certain, on other grounds, that you existed. You could have made the same inference from any one of your other actions, since it is known by the natural light that whatever acts exists.

    http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/descartes1642_3.pdf

    The objection is not that anything follows from meditating, but that anything could be equivalent to a meditation. Again, the only way to parry that objection is to recall why we’re meditating in the first place:

    Don’t forget, though, the distinction that I insisted on in several of my passages, between •getting on with everyday life and •investigating the truth. For when we are making practical plans it would of course be foolish not to trust the senses; the sceptics who paid so little heed to human affairs that their friends had to stop them falling off precipices deserved to be laughed at. That’s why I pointed out in one place that no sane person ever seriously doubts such things. But when we are investigating what can be known with complete certainty by the human intellect, if we are to be reasonable we must seriously reject these things as doubtful and even as false; the purpose here is to come to recognize that certain other things are in reality better known to us because they can’t be rejected in this way.

    In other words, meditating makes sense only insofar as we seek a foundation to all our knowledge. Again, this might not convince empiricists such as Gassendi (!!), as it’s far from clear how what is revealed to the mind while meditating should have more certainty than what comes to the sense. Indubitability is a steep price to pay to bypass the reliability of our outer experiences. And this price must be paid by doing something that is very unnatural to many – bracketing all our knowledge. In general, college students just don’t get it.

    Many passages in the set of objections and replies share attributes with ClimateBall.

    ***

    I am making all these efforts to make an important point: when we’re speaking of Modernity in philosophy, we’re usually refer to what the Cogito has kickstarted. Embracing that project does not lead us far from scientism. The same could be said of empiricism, as understood as a knowledge foundation. We can still observe that scientist attitude among scientists.

    THIS kind of foundationalism (yes, Philip, with caps lock this time) is what reject those who have been called the “POMO.” But one doesn’t need to be a POMO to reject foundationalism. Grandiose foundations seem to be on the wane. There are still neo-mechanicists and neo-logicists around, and foundational questions around maths are still asked, however. The jury is still out.

    All that being said, I can understand that “pomo” can only be used a slur.

  362. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Back to meditations again, rather than the source of the actual quotation…

  363. Willard says:

    > Back to meditations again, rather than the source of the actual quotation…

    … which is a commentary on the Meditations.

    You just can’t make this up.

  364. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Here is Descartes marginal note again: “That we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt, and that this is the first knowledge we acquire when we philosophize in order.”. The only thing of which we cannot doubt are the things of which we are necessarily certain, whether they are sense perceptions or a-priori knowledge. I don’t think there is necessarily a great deal of inference here, the important part is that in order for there to be thought, there needs to be something to do the thinking. This is just an inspiration, a self-evident “truth” AFAICS, and you only need inference if you want to make claims about what he meant by “I”. If you just take it to be a label for the thing that is thinking, then it is just a label.

  365. Dikran Marsupial says:

    I think commentaries ought to be quite useful in understanding the author’s meaning, that is rather the point of a commentary.

  366. Willard says:

    I give up, Dikran.

    You exemplify very well one of the reasons why I left academia, and you’re just trolling right now.

  367. No, Willard, I am not trolling, we just don’t agree, which isn’t the same thing. Note I have continued to explain my position and have addressed the points you have raised (a-priori and inference).

  368. Steven Mosher says:

    Well Joshua proper use in Descartes follows clear and distinct ideas.
    In science proper use would be the scientific method of course.

    Neither of these is important to the point:

    let see if I can get to it. What descartes is after is a foundation of Knowledge, the things that cannot be doubted. After the Cogito, he brings god in. So here you sit with
    ideas and representations in your head, and reality, objective reality is out there. And the question is how do you know the representation in your head matches the outside world? How do you get that independent point of view outside of human cognition ( and language and culture) that guarantees its validity. That guarantees the mind is a mirro of nature? Well, Descartes brings in God as the guarrantee.

    Now dont stop to argue with Descartes, Just observe the structure of the argument: When you are thinking, you can be sure there is a thinking thing. But what about beyond the cogito? Well he brings in God. got it? good.

    Now Kill god.

    1. Some folks looked at that and said, God is dead, anything goes. You know that guy, Neitzsche.
    And so you can trace all manner of relativism back through that chain ( other paths as well
    but for now we will just pretend that only Descartes exists.) get rid of the cartesian god, the
    god that ensures ( as in the englightenment) that our reason and senses are designed to
    ‘get” the truth. get rid of the god that grounds morality, and well you have an intellectual
    Crisis for folks in the cartesian tradition. Thats all you need to understand.. dont have to
    agree, just understand.

    2. Some folks got rid of the cartesian god in another way. They would look at the existence of
    the external world, and Bracket that question!. DK, noted that we could say that there was
    thinking of. Whenever we look at consciousness it is always consciousness of. This Bracketing is called the universal epoche. We put aside the question
    of whether the mind is a mirror, and we just describe what is in the mirror. Instead of asking the question about the relationship between the mind and the world, we just explore the ideas asa they present themselves: This is Phenomenology, and after that comes structuralism, and the attack on structuralism is Deconstruction. And Derrida’s basic point is.. These guys are sneaking in God again!

    3. Some folks got rid of the cartesian god another way. They noted that consciousness was always consciousness of, and then argued that if you really look closely at it, that Being is what it is not, while not being what it is. That would be Sartre. Well what the hell does that gibberish mean?
    When you are conscious of something it fills your attention. The Subject( you thinking) becomes what it is not: the object it is conscious of. But at the same time, we know that you are not what you are thinking of. And further, he would reject the whole idea that we must start with knowledge.
    In the cartesian scheme I am first and foremost a thinking thing. But In Sartre, your being (existence) preceeds your essence ( what you are) and your essence is really a matter of free choice.

    4. Some folks transformed the cartesian notion of Subject ( the thinking thing that intends objects)
    And here you would be going down a path of hegel, Heidegger,Sartre, some POMOs and anyone who starts to ask questions about what does it mean to be a subject.. in the world, in society..

    Its important to know the map, and the journeys others have taken

  369. Steven Mosher says:

    ” The certainty of his ego sum, ego existo must come from an ergo that is not the same kind as the usual inference we present with a “therefore.” It must come from the realization that he can’t deny his existence while meditating.”

    yes as hegel noted it was an assertion of an immediate identity between thought and being.
    Not inferential.

  370. Steven Mosher says:

    Willard,
    in my 4 years of philosophy I dont actually recall ever being asked to write what I thought of Descartes, or anyone else for that matter. 90% of the work was explication. When you got to honors they might let you say X was wrong.

    Edie never asked us what we thought of Husserl. He asked us to explicate the argument.
    Same in every other class. Correct Russell was never really an option. Explain Russel, or explicate wittgenstein was all you were allowed or expected to do.

    maybe someday I might have a worthwhile thought.

  371. Willard says:

    > Note I have continued to explain my position and have addressed the points you have raised (a-priori and inference).

    So says every contrarian coming here while repeating the same refuted point over and over again. This is not continuing to explain a position. Even if it was, it means little when it doesn’t address what has been said in response.

    That the Cogito ergo sum is not a syllogism is common knowledge in the French world. The Discourse formulation is a known bug. Misunderstanding of that point abounds in the anglosphere. Many are still not led astray. For instance, Jakko Hintikka has the right of it when he claims that it’s more a performative than inferential. Since I no longer wish to waste time on comments that get dismissed anyway, let me just quote him:

    It seems to me that the most interesting interpretation one can give to it is to say that Descartes realized, however dimly, the existential inconsistency of the sentence ‘I don’t exist’ and therefore the existential self-verifiability of ‘I exist’. Cogito, ergo sum is only one possible way of expressing this insight. Another way actually employed by Descartes is to say that the sentence ego sum is intuitively self-evident. We can now understand the relation of the two parts of the cogito, ergo sum and appreciate the reasons why it cannot be a logical inference in the ordinary sense of the word. What is at stake in Descartes’s dictum is the status (the indubitability) of the sentence ‘I am’. (This is shown particularly clearly by the formulations of the Second Meditation.) Contrary appearances notwithstanding, Descartes does not demonstrate this indubitability by deducing sum from cogito. On the other hand the sentence ‘I am’ (‘I exist’) is not by itself logically true, either. Descartes realizes that its indubitability results from an act of thinking, namely from an attempt to think the contrary. The function of the word cogito in Descartes’s dictum is to refer to the thought-act through which the existential self-verifiability of ‘I exist’ manifests itself. Hence the indubitability of this sentence is not strictly speaking perceived by means of thinking (in the way the indubitability of a demonstrable truth may be said to be): rather, it is indubitable because and in so far as it is actively thought of. In Descartes’s argument the relation of cogito to sum is not that of a premiss to a conclusion. Their relation is rather comparable with that of a process to its product. […]

    The relation which the particle ergo serves to express in Descartes’s sentence is therefore rather peculiar. Perhaps it would have been less misleading for Descartes to say, ‘I am in that I think’, or ‘By thinking I perceive my existence’, than to say, ‘I think, therefore I am’. It may be worth noting that one of our formulations was closely anticipated by St. Thomas Aquinas when he wrote: “Nullus potest cogitare se non esse cum assensu: in hoc enim quod cogitat aliquid, percipit se esse” (De veritate, X, 12, ad 7). The peculiarity of this relation explains Descartes’s vacillation in expressing it in that he sometimes speaks of the Cogito as an inference and sometimes as a realization of the intuitive self-evidence of its later half.

    The debates regarding Descartes’ epistemology are not there.

  372. Roger Jones says:

    So, they really have been putting Decartes before dehorse.

    I’ll see myself out.

  373. Everett F Sargent says:

    Why do whales and dolphins strand themselves on beaches?

    What species wouldn’t after sensing this thread!

    I’ve got a hammer, so I’m about to unthink myself, then I will be a vegetable, then you all can plant me in the ground, then you all can … wait for it … eat me.

  374. Everett F Sargent says:

    John Oliver speaks the truth … about … Jordan B Peterson … well close enough …

  375. dikranmarsupial says:

    “So says every contrarian coming here while repeating the same refuted point over and over again. This is not continuing to explain a position. Even if it was, it means little when it doesn’t address what has been said in response.”

    Yes, I don’t think you have responded to my points, and you don’t think I have responded to yours. However I am not accusing you of trolling, nor am I making personal attacks on you:

    “You exemplify very well one of the reasons why I left academia, and you’re just trolling right now.”

    (although I do admit I got a bit techy by your refusal to address what was written in the original source of the quotation, for which I appologise).

    Now Descartes wrote “I think therefore I am” (in French and in Latin) in two books, one written before the meditations and one written after. It seems a bit strange to suggests that he didn’t think it was true because of something written in the meditations, given that he wrote it twice in unambiguous terms. One way of resolving the paradox is to consider that maybe what was written in the meditations is a refinement or extension of “I think therefore I am” (Bertrand Russell suggests that we only have evidence of our existence while we think, which is also reasonable, but is not quite the same thing as (but compatible with) “I think, therefore I am”.

    “For instance, Jakko Hintikka has the right of it when he claims that it’s more a performative than inferential.”

    As usual, it would help me to understand your point if you would use terminology that I am likely to know and not misinterpret (it isn’t even clear here that it is a jargon term)

    “Another way actually employed by Descartes is to say that the sentence ego sum is intuitively self-evident. We can now understand the relation of the two parts of the cogito, ergo sum and appreciate the reasons why it cannot be a logical inference in the ordinary sense of the word.”

    Which is essentially what I was arguing. It is self-evident, rather than inferential (and if you try and make it inferential then you run into problems about what the “I” refers to, if you take it as just a label for the think that thinks, then it is again self-evident, Descartes is just defining himself as the orginator of his own thoughts). It also isn’t clear to me how this agrees with your initial argument:

    To think is something that is hard not to do when meditating the Cartesian way. It is an empirical observation which only becomes necessary by some kind of inference, but not (only) one that comes after a “therefore.” If you add a “therefore” Descartes’ argument becomes invalid. A more pragmatic inference is required.

    AFAICS, there is no inference required as it is an intuitively self-evident truth. The argument seems to have drifted somewhat, IIRC it was originally about whether this was “empirical”, I don’t think it is as I understand the term to mean things we know via sense-perceptions e.g. observations and experiments.

  376. Dikran,

    ATTP perhaps Peterson is thinking of scientism (in sense 2) rather than science? You don’t need values to say what is, but you do to say what ought to be.

    Yes, that may be the case, but does anyone (anyone of relevance) actually believe that form of scientism? I don’t think I know anyone who does.

  377. I don’t think I know anyone that would explicitly endorse it, but I think the weaker version in the paragraph below is fairly common:

    It is also sometimes used to describe universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or the most valuable part of human learning—to the exclusion of other viewpoints. It has been defined as “the view that the characteristic inductive methods of the natural sciences are the only source of genuine factual knowledge and, in particular, that they alone can yield true knowledge about man and society”

    Essentially I think there is always an element of truth in most scholarly work, but often it gets spoiled by over-reaching (perhaps a lack of self-skepticism) and excessive certainty. We all have a natural tendency to get excited about our own research interests, but if we make no effort to reign it in, it can lead you to “going emeritus” quite easily.

  378. I would agree that Peterson is using a bit of a straw man caricature of science and (atheist) scientists, the idea that scientists don’t recognize values (even if scientific statements may be value-free in a scientific context) is clearly a misrepresentation (not an empirical fact ;o)

  379. Everett F Sargent says:

    Yes, that may be the case, but does anyone (anyone of relevance) actually believe that form of scientism? I don’t think I know anyone who does.

    Richard Dawkins.

    South Park did it …
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_God_Go
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_God_Go_XII

    Three factions of species (two are human one is otters) battle it out about which one bears out the true science as handed down from Richard Dawkins partner (Mr./Mrs./Mr. Garrison (Mrs. at that time)).

    Moral of this hero myth? Any society will fractionalize because it is in our nature to be territorial. In other words, no single dogma can ever exist. That is the one lesson anyone should take from history.

    Which kind of reminds me of the epistemology of philosophy.

  380. Willard says:

    > I don’t think you have responded to my points

    Here’s my first comment in full:

    > The ENglish translation given on Wikipedia […] seem to support the interpretation of a first step in a non-empirical (in the sens of something externally verifiable, you for instance can’t be sure I think – not always too clear on that myself ;o) theory on what is knowable.

    Indeed it does, Dikran, but note the part where René says, after rejecting the three modes by which we are connected to an external reality (the senses, the formal realm, and consciousness):

    But immediately upon this I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be something; And as I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am,[c] was so certain and of such evidence that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the Sceptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the philosophy of which I was in search

    The very nature of that “observation” is dual. As the direct effect of a meditation, it could be something like an intuition; as the indirect result of a thought experiment, it looks more like an inference. Sometimes authors speak of induction and deduction, but it can be confusing if one does not distinguish the different kinds of induction and deduction that could be at work in the meditation.

    Which part of “As the direct effect of a meditation, it could be something like an intuition; as the indirect result of a thought experiment, it looks more like an inference” you did not get?

  381. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Sorry, if you just want to continue to be abrasive, especially after my apology, I don’t think I will continue with this discussion.

  382. Willard says:

    > The argument seems to have drifted somewhat, IIRC it was originally about whether this was “empirical”, I don’t think it is as I understand the term to mean things we know via sense-perceptions e.g. observations and experiments.

    The answer is that if you don’t entertain the meditation by yourself, nothing comes out of it. It’s a pragmatic thought experiment, unlike Galileo’s refutation of Aristotle’s hypothesis about falling objects. James Brown calls the latter platonic:

    Brown holds that in a few special cases we do go well beyond the old empirical data to acquire a priori knowledge of nature (see also Koyré, 1968). Galileo showed that all bodies fall at the same speed with a brilliant thought experiment that started by destroying the then reigning Aristotelian account. The latter holds that heavy bodies fall faster than light ones (H > L). But consider Figure 6, in which a heavy cannon ball (H) and light musket ball (L) are attached together to form a compound object (H+L); the latter must fall faster than the cannon ball alone. Yet the compound object must also fall slower, since the light part will act as a drag on the heavy part. Now we have a contradiction: H+L > H and H > H+L. That’s the end of Aristotle’s theory. But there is a bonus, since the right account is now obvious: they all fall at the same speed (H = L = H+L).

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/thought-experiment/

    Even physics can go beyond what we usually call the empirical.

    And that’s notwithstanding the nature of the inference involved in normal experiments (i.e. in what way are our scientific arguments and inferences empirical) and the theorical apparatus underpinning them (e.g. in what way are climate modulz empirical).

    We’re far from driftng here.What passes as good ol’ empiricism is far from being clear, and generations of scientists never going back to where it comes from doesn’t help improve that predicament. Fighting POMOs over a battle lost more than fifty years ago may not be the best way to reinforce Science’s natural triumphalism.

    Ironically, that triumphalism is how the Discourse ends:

    I acquired some general notions in physics and realized, as I began to test them in various special problems, how far-reaching they were and how different from the principles used up to now; and as soon as I saw that I thought I couldn’t keep them to myself without offending gravely against the law that requires us to do all we can for the general welfare of mankind. For they—·these scientific notions of mine·—showed me that we can get knowledge that would be very useful in life, and that in place of the speculative philosophy taught in the schools we might find a practical philosophy through which knowing the power and the actions of fire, water, air, the stars, the heavens and all the other bodies in our environment as clearly as we know the various crafts of our artisans, we could (like artisans) put these bodies to use in all the appropriate ways, and thus make ourselves the masters and (as it were) owners of nature.

    This is desirable not only for the invention of innumerable devices that would give us trouble-free use of the fruits of the earth and all the goods we find there, but also, and most importantly, for the preservation of health, which is certainly the chief good and the basis for all the other goods in this life.

    http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/descartes1637.pdf

    If that’s not scientism, nothing is.

    Y’all living Descartes’ dream and you don’t even know it.

  383. Willard says:

    > I don’t think I will continue with this discussion.

    I washed my hands over any desire to continue that discussion a long time ago. Showing how the passive aggression works as gaslighting is enough for me. It substantiates my earlier point about academia.

  384. Willard says:

    A word from our sponsor:

  385. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    It substantiates my earlier point about academia.

    I was hoping you might elaborate on that. What, more precisely (hopefully you can find a way to remove criticism of Dikran along the way) was the “one of the reasons” why you left academia?

  386. What, more precisely (hopefully you can find a way to remove criticism of Dikran along the way) was the “one of the reasons” why you left academia?

    Yes, this would be interesting but it would also be good if it could be done without making Dikran some kind of poster child for why you did so.

  387. To try and calm the comments down a little, I’ve written another post about consensus messaging 😀

  388. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    “It might add excessively to current polarization….”

    http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-monday-edition-1.4396981/toronto-university-professor-says-controversial-website-on-hiatus-1.4396986

    re. leaving academia:

    Last thing I remember, I was
    Running for the door
    I had to find the passage back
    To the place I was before
    “Relax, ” said the night man,
    “We are programmed to receive.
    You can check-out any time you like,
    But you can never leave! “

  389. Willard says:

    Not a good time for that, Joshua. Sorry it got to me. Surprised, too. I need to know my limits, and work within my areas of responsibility.

    Apologies to everyone.

  390. Joshua says:

    I get it Willalrd. I wanted to ask the question when you first mentioned it, but didn’t because I didn’t see any way that it wouldn’t read as making Dikran a poster boy. When you mentioned it again, Iit was still uncomfortable, but I thought I’d ask. I was glad to see Anders’ follow-on.

    Anyway, maybe you can sneak it is some time in the future, in a completely different context. 🙂

  391. Joshua says:

    To try and calm the comments down a little, I’ve written another post about consensus messaging

    Yah. That’ll be a good way to keep things calm. 🙂

  392. Steven Mosher says:

    “Y’all living Descartes’ dream and you don’t even know it.”

    I didnt know you left. All I’ll note is the parallels are starting to freak me out.

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