Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

The Marriage of Opposites, Part 3

March 2, 2018

Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature; but different in degree.

— From The Kybalion by The Three Initiates

There are trivial truths and the great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true.

— Niels Bohr

I have mentioned the alchemical notion of the “Marriage of Opposites” several times (here and here). When opposites marry, what happens as a result? Do they cancel one another out, leaving just a boring average as result? Do they explode in a fiery conflagration, like matter and anti-matter releasing energy? Or do they create a new thing, something that is greater than the sum of their parts?

If opposites annihilate each other, what is the result, emptiness or a void? It is often said that nature abhors a vacuum (“horror vacui”), but I think it is far more true that the mind does. In dualistic thinking, everything that is not one thing must be its opposite. Not good is bad, not happy is sad, not black is white.

In classical logic, the Law of the Excluded Middle says that for any proposition “p”, either it is true or its negation “not p” is true. Thus, “p or not p” is necessarily true, a tautology. Similarly, their combination “p and not p”, cannot ever be true, and so is necessarily false. If one can assume “not p” and derive a contradiction, then “p” must be true (reductio ad absurdum).

In intuitionistic logic, one cannot deduce “p” simply from the falsity of “not p” (that is, “not not p”), one must actually prove that “p” is true. So “p or not p” may still be uncertain, if we don’t know how to prove “p”. However, “p and not p” is still false, based on the falsity of “not p”.

In the viewpoint of Dialetheism, it is offered that there are truths whose opposites are also true, called “true contradictions”. Dialetheisms cannot exist in formal logics because if “p and not p” is true, then you can deduce anything you want and your logic breaks down. Nonetheless, much thought through the years has been dedicated to dialetheisms and their ilk. Please see the recent work by philosopher Graham Priest.

When one considers something and its opposite at the same time, how can you reach an agreement between them? In magnetism, opposite charges attract and like charges repel. All too often, opposite viewpoints vigorously repel each other instead of reaching a happy medium. Each viewpoint considers the other “false” and so they push away at each other, instead of meeting halfway in compromise.

If there is empirical evidence supporting one viewpoint and not the other, and both parties can agree to it, then problem solved. But if viewpoints are more like ideologies, and one side shows evidence that the other side dismisses, what then? Are we only left to agree to disagree? That doesn’t seem like a long term solution.

In this blog I have insinuated but not stated explicitly that a marriage of opposites can often be achieved by combining it with another pair of opposites. Rather than meeting in the middle to a void or an annihilation, one can reach the other side by “going around” the danger, by way of intermediates. Much like Winter reaches Summer by passing through Spring and Summer reaches Winter via Fall, this type of structure is found everywhere in human thinking.

In fact, many systems of pluralistic philosophies are built on fourfolds instead of dualities. For example, see the work of Richard McKeon, specifically this paper.

Further Reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Kybalion

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_vacui_(physics)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_excluded_middle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequentia_mirabilis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intuitionistic_logic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialetheism

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dialetheism/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Priest

http://www.richardmckeon.org/

http://www.richardmckeon.org/content/e-Publications/e-OnPhilosophy/McK-PhilosophicSemantics&Inquiry.pdf

https://www.quora.com/Is-Graham-Priest-sincere-and-serious-about-his-stance-on-dialetheism-I-have-difficulty-empathizing-with-such-a-position-What-should-I-do-to-better-understand-this-position-Do-other-philosophers-respect-this-position/answer/Toni-Kannisto?share=368d7909&srid=5ofmf

[*10.32]

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A Game of Fourfolds, Part 5

February 24, 2018

In this fifth installment of our ongoing series, I propose that a game could be played by making a set of equally sized and shaped triangular tiles with simple words or phrases on them. The triangles are all isosceles right triangles, also called monoboloes, so that two of them joined along their long edge would be a square, and four of them joined at their right angles would be a larger square. Figures of two tiles joined along any edge of equal length are called diaboloes, three are called triaboloes, four are called tetraboloes, and in general the figures are called polyboloes (or also polytans, after the Chinese tangram puzzle).

The words or short phrases on the monoboloes would need to be chosen judiciously so that each word has a matching opposite. (A list of such pairs of opposites or duals can be found at my previous fourfold game post.) This is so that a square diabolo could be formed from opposites, and a square tetrabolo could be formed that makes some conceptual sense. In fact, the game play would require that tiles should only be played and joined if there was a rational or explainable reason for their combination.

For example, “Water” and “Fire” could be aligned along their long edge as well as a short edge, whereas “Earth” and “Below”, not being opposites, could only be aligned along a short edge. Opposites could also be aligned “corner” to “corner” (where corner is the 90 degree angle), if there is a supporting tile between them.

During game play, the players alternate playing tiles from their hand onto the table, or pick tiles up from the table and place them back in different positions. Obviously the rules of play would need to be specified in more detail, as well as a method for scoring so that a player could “win”. Or, as a game of solitaire, perhaps winning is just maximizing the number of tiles played onto the table, or the illumination of concepts brought about by the play.

I might also consider that the flip-side of a monobolo is the same word but perhaps having white letters on a black background or colored differently to distinguish it from the “front”. And would the flip-sides all be of the same color? As I have shown various fourfolds on this blog, I have tried to orient them in a common conceptual “direction”, although that is often not clear to me or agreed upon by others of similar temperament. Perhaps they could be the same color if they metaphorically point this same way.

Also, by design and by construction, the monoboloes could be considered “Words”, diaboloes could be considered “Thoughts”, triaboloes could be considered “Actions”, and tetraboloes could be considered “Things”. This would be more in line with the hierarchy given by Richard McKeon’s 1972 lectures on Aristotle’s “Topics”. Words, thoughts, actions, and things are called “commonplaces” by McKeon, or a “place within which inquiry about meanings that are about things that are covered by that meaning can take place”.

The association of these tiles with tangrams is an interesting one. The standard tangram set consists of two small tans (unitans?), three bitans (square, midtan?, and paratan?), and two tetratans that form larger tans (bigtans?). I wonder if there is a standard nomenclature for these pieces, because mine seems rather silly.

I used to have a tangram set when I was a child and even still have an old Dover book by Ronald C. Reed “Tangrams: 330 puzzles”. It’s nice to see that it’s still available on Amazon. Of course the arrangement of the pieces in tangrams is much more flexible than what I’m proposing here for my game so really they are very little alike.

Further Reading:

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/Polyabolo.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangram

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-factor_models_of_personality

Richard McKeon / Disciplines, Arts, and Faculties: Invention and Justification: Topics, Lectures given at University of Chicago 1972. (Taped, Transcribed and Edited by Patrick F. Crosby, by private communication)

Notes:

Possible names for tile combinations:

  • Unit, Solitary, Unitary, Simple, Singular, Singleton
  • Binary, Duplex, Dual, Twofold, Bipartite
  • Triple, Threefold, Ternary, Trinity, Tripartite
  • Quaternary, Quadruple, Tetrad, Fourfold, Quadripartite

[*10.72]

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Fourfold Physicalism

February 17, 2018

It is not enough for a wise man to study nature and truth, he should dare state truth for the benefit of the few who are willing and able to think. As for the rest, who are voluntarily slaves of prejudice, they can no more attain truth, than frogs can fly.

— From Man a Machine, by Julien Offray de La Mettrie

Further Reading:

https://equivalentexchange.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/structure-function/

https://equivalentexchange.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/things-happen/

https://equivalentexchange.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/relations-all-the-way-down/

https://equivalentexchange.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/four-primary-relations/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_a_Machine

Notes:

Structures are built from parts.
Parts are reductions of structures.
Functions are assembled from actions.
Actions are the constituents of functions.

[*8.132, *9.104, *10.10]

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Enlightenment Now!

February 15, 2018

I want a new enlightenment and I want it now! One replete with:

  • Humanism
  • Reason
  • Science
  • Progress

Or, at least I can read the book.

Further Reading:

Steven Pinker / Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

http://www.playboy.com/articles/playboy-profile-steven-pinker

Pinker’s twitter feed:

[*10.70]

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Atom and Archetype

January 23, 2018

A few weeks ago I ran across this nice review of the book Atom and Archetype: the Pauli-Jung letters 1932-1958. This is a collection of letters exchanged between psychiatrist Carl Jung and physicist Wolfgang Pauli over a course of years. Evidently, Pauli was quite the metaphysician and Jung was intrigued by Einstein’s physics of relative space and time. Together in dialectic they argued and struggled to join together the disparate notions of mind and matter.

What mainly caught my eye was a diagram that I’ve slightly altered and shown above. I’ve mainly just replaced energy with matter-energy for two reasons: first because matter and energy are inter-convertible and second because matter conditions space. This results in similarity to the fourfold diagram for Lucretius that I’ve shown before, consisting of Particles, the Void, Falling, and Swerving.

Further Reading:

https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/03/09/atom-and-archetype-pauli-jung/

Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli / Atom and Archetype: the Pauli-Jung letters 1932-1958, Princeton University Press; Updated edition (July 21, 2014)

https://www.amazon.com/Atom-Archetype-Pauli-Letters-1932-1958/dp/069116147X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516537804&sr=1-1&keywords=atom+and+archetype

https://equivalentexchange.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/lucretius-on-the-nature-of-things/

https://equivalentexchange.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/matter-energy-space-and-time/

https://equivalentexchange.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/wave-particle-duality/

https://equivalentexchange.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/noethers-theorem/

[*10.60]

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Kant’s Synthetic-Analytic Distinction, V3

January 15, 2018

One of the oldest and most problematic philosophical questions is the comparison of the a prioria posteriori distinction with that of the analyticsynthetic distinction. Both are used in epistemology to divide knowledge, or true statements, between the innate and the learned, or the immediate and the earned, so they might even be considered the same. A priori and a posteriori statements are before “experience” and after it, respectively. Analytic statements are true only by their “meaning”, whereas synthetic statements are true only when facts about the world are combined consistently with that meaning.

It seems we have complicated the issue because now we must define and understand “experience” and “meaning”. However, these concepts are not independent because we must experience meaning, and meaning in turn conditions experience. In addition, even the a priori or the analytic are not innate or immediately obvious because deductions and the rules of logic require effort just like inductions do. Otherwise we would have Fitch’s Paradox: all truths are in fact known. What a muddle! So both experience and meaning are necessarily locked into a cooperative spiral dance to improve each other.

In addition, if you search for the two pairs a priori-a posterior and analytic-synthetic, you also find that the pair necessary-contingent is associated with them. Are these three pairs independent of one another and so give rise to eight triplets, or are they dependent in some way and reduce into fewer combinations? In addition, from Wikipedia:

Thus, the relationship between aprioricity, necessity, and analyticity is not easy to discern. However, most philosophers at least seem to agree that while the various distinctions may overlap, the notions are clearly not identical: the a priori/a posteriori distinction is epistemological, the analytic/synthetic distinction is linguistic, and the necessary/contingent distinction is metaphysical.

The web site of Stephen R. Palmquist has a great wealth of material on fourfolds in relation to Kant’s as well as his own philosophy. From my own initial reading of his extensive material I have tried to choose a canonical Kantian fourfold which has the most relevance to my project.

The fourfold shown to the right Dr. Palmquist calls Kant’s “reflective perspectives on experience”. Consisting of the logical, the empirical, the transcendental, and the hypothetical, these facets bear a close analogical likeness to many of the fourfolds presented here.

Logical: Analytic a priori
Transcendental: Synthetic a priori
Hypothetical: Analytic a posteriori
Empirical: Synthetic a posteriorikant_table

Dr. Palmquist also has many of his own books available on his web site for the interested reader. I will certainly be returning to his web site in the future for much enjoyable study.

Further Reading:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytic-synthetic_distinction

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_priori_and_a_posteriori

http://factmyth.com/a-priori-a-posteriori-analytic-synthetic-and-necessary-contingent-distinctions/

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/analytic-synthetic/

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

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/fitch-paradox/

http://www.philosophypages.com/hy/5f.htm

http://www.hkbu.edu.hk/~ppp/

http://www.hkbu.edu.hk/~ppp/ksp2/KCR3.htm

[*7.68, *7.84, *8.126, *10.54]

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Richard McKeon’s Aspects of Knowing, Part 2, V3

October 10, 2017

The duals in Richard McKeon’s system of Philosophical Semantics can also be arranged in a three-dimensional tetrahedron, where the dual pairs are on opposing edges. The universal and particular methods, the phenomenal and ontic interpretations, and the meroscopic and holoscopic principles are shown above.

Universal methods, between knower and knowledge, are applicable to all problems and all subject matters. Particular methods, between the knowable and the known, require distinct methodological procedures for different problems or subject matters.

Holoscopic principles, looking at the parts from the perspective of the whole, provide a coincidence of knowledge and known. Meroscopic principles, looking at the whole from the perspective of the parts, separate the knower and the knowable from each other and from influence between each other.

Ontic interpretations, between the knowable and knowledge, derive their character from a reality assumed to transcend or to underlie phenomena and statements. Phenomenal interpretations, between knower and the known, may reduce reality and values to aspects or consequences of phenomena.

Alternatively, the four vertices of  knower, knowledge, known, and knowable can be labeled by their method, principle, and interpretation as shown at right.

Further Reading:

http://www.richardmckeon.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_McKeon

Notes:

As McKeon said in his lecture of  October 23, 1972 (the “Topics course”, unpublished): “You can either look at things from the point of view of the whole — then the principles are holoscopic (holos means whole, skopein means to look). Or, you can take the same set of facts, and view them from the part: then you have meroscopic principles. (Meros means part, skopein still means to look at).”

[*6.136]

The Philosopher’s Wheel

September 24, 2017

Eric A. Meece’s web site philosopherswheel.com has been in existence for a while, and it claims there is a forthcoming book called “The Philosopher’s Wheel”. This seems like an interesting project and it’s a shame that the book is still “in process”.

Meece has certainly been working on these ideas for few years. Starting with a Master’s thesis in 1979, and a presentation in 2001, he also has a collection of articles available to the reader that are related to his theme.

The philosopher’s wheel is essentially composed of three polarities:

  • Materialism vs. Spiritualism
  • Rationalism vs. Empiricism
  • Essentialism vs. Existentialism

Two polarities are related to Jung’s Psychological Types:

  • Rationalism (Thinking)
  • Empiricism (Sensing)
  • Existentialism (Feeling)
  • Essentialism (Intuiting)

I’ve tried to represent these dualities a little differently than Meece. Note in the above diagram that Materialism mediates Rationalism and Empiricism, and Spiritualism mediates Essentialism and Existentialism, similar to the wheel representation.

At right is an attempt at eliminating the “isms”. Perhaps I should have read some more of his writings before making these efforts.

Further Reading:

http://philosopherswheel.com/

http://philosopherswheel.com/philosophycircle.htm

Notes:

The more I think about it, the more I like to compare this with

https://equivalentexchange.wordpress.com/2017/09/09/simon-magus-and-the-six-roots-of-boundless-power/

Images of the Philosopher’s Wheel:

https://www.google.com/search?q=philosopher%27s+wheel&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiN8MLK1L3WAhXG0SYKHYnsA3IQ_AUICygC&biw=1614&bih=886

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Four Philosophies, V2

August 9, 2017

Thinking some more on Popper’s Three Worlds, here is a set of philosophical disciplines that seem to resonate with the themes of this blog.

  • Phenomenology: the philosophical study or theory of phenomena as distinct from that of the nature of being
  • Epistemology: the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope
  • Ontology: the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being
  • Axiology: the philosophical study of the nature of value and valuation, and of the kinds of things that are valuable

I believe that one could also make a case for associations with phenomenology to the subjective, epistemology to the objective, ontology to the substantive, and axiology to the normative.

Further reading:

https://www.quora.com/What-does-ontology-epistemology-and-axiology-mean

http://cognitive-edge.com/blog/phenomenology-epistemology-ontology/

(Note that the author of the article above, David Snowden, is the creator of the Cynefin Framework.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenomenology_(philosophy)

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/phenomenology/

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epistemology/

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontology

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-ontology/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiology

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/value-theory/

https://equivalentexchange.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/four-philosophies/

[*10.20]

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The Ogdoad: Unity of Eight Gods

March 24, 2017

Here’s a notable fourfold of dualities: the Ogdoad, or eightfold of deities. I usually don’t stray into ancient mythology but this cosmological system evidently led the Greeks to their idea of the four elements. These paired male and female deities were personifications of certain metaphysical concepts and their opposites.

  • Amun and Amaunet: The Hidden and its opposite
  • Nun and Naunet: The Abyss and its opposite
  • Kuk and Kauket: The Darkness and its opposite
  • Huh and Hauthet: The Boundless and its opposite

Some even conjecture that the word ANKH was formed from the initial sounds of these four or eight deities.

Further Reading:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/stle/stle12.htm

https://henadology.wordpress.com/theology/netjeru/hermopolitan-ogdoad/

http://www.kheper.net/topics/Egypt/Hermopolis.html

http://www.secretoftheankh.com/

http://www.doremishock.com/articles/thememphitetheology.htm

[*9.232]

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