Tag Archives: Aristotle

Aristotle was an idiot (part 2)

25 May

The law of non contradiction.

This is often written in the following dumb format:

Not (A and not A)

This takes a simple statement in English, inverts it, and then expresses it in math form. Nice way to complicate the issue for people who are not math informed.

This works great with Americans whose schooling has somehow taught them, “I’m no good at math.”

How an entire nation of people can be programmed into that five word sentence by so many teachers spending eight hours a day five days a week for twelve years would be easier to understand if most math weren’t relatively simple and if the job of teachers weren’t expected to educate the public.

Of course the same teacher will quickly point out that the above sentence fails grammatically even though its communication is clear.

Someday I will write a Map Thinker’s Guide to Grammar™. But not today.

So let’s make it simple English and simple math.

Either A exists or A does not exist.

It cannot be both at once.

There is a problem with this.

The Law of the Excluded Middle, which we will deal with next makes that statement.

Either (A or not A)

They make the same basic statement but they mean different things. That is why they are expressed differently. Seen as neither one makes much sense to a Map Thinker™ it doesn’t really matter but we will go over the distinction just because.

Not (A or Not A) means that a thing cannot both exist and not exist at the same time in the same way. Or you can say a statement cannot be both true and false at the same time.

I used the word “way” while most translations I have read say “respect”. I doubt if either one carries the exact meaning of the original. Even if you speak modern Greek I am not convinced you would be certain exactly what the same word meant 2,300 years ago.

Today we know, from quantum physics that some pretty large particles can in fact exist in more than one place at the same time in the same way. The largest I have heard of is a drumstick. The kind made of wood you play a drum with, not the kind from chicken you eat.

But lets take something larger.

Two things I love. Water and Trees.

A tree on a knoll either exists there or it does not. It (at present knowledge) cannot both be there and not be there at the same time. It may not be there tomorrow, it may be cut down, or zapped by lightning.

Unless of course you subscribe to the Quantum concept of parallel universes in which case there will be a universe where the tree is on the knoll and another where it does not exist there. How about the one where the knoll itself does not exist there.

But lets call that reaching.

The question arises, “Does the tree exist at all?”

In point of reality it does not.

The tree is a product of Emergence. That is the tree is built of simple building blocks that are built of even simpler building blocks that are composed of non-particles that are also non-waves.

Ready?

That may sound confusing.

It is.

It is a combination of my understanding of particle physics and complexity theory.

The tree itself is an expression of a combination of relationships that exist in reality in such a way as to produce a species we call “tree” and this is a particular member of that species.

So the tree is really a figment of our imaginations. We aren’t completely sure what is out there. We are sure that this particular combination of universal building blocks is identifiable as both a species and an individual and we call them trees.

So no matter how you look at a tree using modern knowledge it both exists and does not exist at the same time.

And we are talking about something we can cut down to build houses, handcuff ourselves to so others cannot cut them down to build houses, climb, kick, or hug.

In reality the tree does not really exist.

But we can treat it as though it exists in the same way as Aristotle conceived of it.

Things do not get easier when we tackle concepts instead of objects we can touch, hear, taste, hold, smell, see, kiss, or rub on.

A thing can only be true or false if it is narrowly defined. If the parameters are sufficiently delineated. The problem is that once a term is so narrowly defined that it can be true or false it must be agreed upon by two or more people.

In Aristotelean logic most arguments happen because those involved did not agree on their terms, their definitions.

Thus if we agree that Aristotle was the wisest man in history there is little we have to argue about.

There is little point in any discussion between us.

If we agree that Socrates was the wisest man in history then we also have little to disagree about.

There is little point in any discussion between us.

If you believe Aristotle was the wisest man in history and I believe Socrates was the wisest man in history then we disagree about everything.

There is little point in any discussion between us.

Aristotle wanted answers.

Aristotle constructed methods that would force agreements between people who disagreed. If you followed his rules only one truth could exist and the winner of the argument was the one who had demonstrated his was the true argument.

Socrates realized that what people believe to be true is seldom true and that what people believe they know to be real very seldom is. Socrates realized that what is considered knowledge is, like the tree discussed above, a fiction. It does not really exist.

Aristotle represents certainty.

Socrates represents chaos.

Aristotle, like any good preacher, gave the people what they wanted. A feeling of superiority over all lesser beings. These included animals, foreigners, women, and deaf people. He provided simple, easy to master, rules that reinforced this feeling.

Socrates, like any good scientist, sought to find the boundaries of what is known. You cannot explore any concept until you know where the limit of that concept is.

Here we have the basis of logic, both as a workable system of thought, and logic as a failure of reason.

If you believe Aristotle was God’s human gift to Reason, then I am an idiot and there is no point in your paying any attention to anything I have to say.

Your belief is your truth.

If you believe, as I do, that Aristotle did little or nothing to advance humanity and stifled human progress with lousy reasoning, then you must recognize Socrates as a martyr.

Our belief is our truth.

What matters is not that our truth is different.

What matters is that neither of us has the right to force the other to change our truth.

There is no truth.

There is only belief.

And our beliefs are maps.

The maps are not the territories.

Our maps, no matter how useful, are in some way wrong.

If we ask the right questions we may discover where our maps have gone awry.

The law of non-contradiction makes no sense.

 

 

© 2013 All Rights Reserved

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Aristotle is an idiot (part one)

18 May

Aristotle was an idiot (part one)

He was probably an idiot in his own time

When compared to real thinkers such as Socrates

And it is certainly idiotic to follow his lead 2300 years after his death.

Lets look at the three laws of thought:

#1: THE LAW OF IDENTITY:

OR:

A = A

Everything is itself and the same as itself.

That sentence does have meaning, although in today’s world, full of scientific knowledge, we know that the only thing that is itself and only itself is whatever you are able to stand and point to / at.

And this is problematical.

But that thing is only itself for as long as it is there and not changed. A tree may outlive us for a thousand years but someday it too will be gone. And it will, in all likely hood not be the same tree after a thousand years. It will have grown taller, fatter, may have been trough a fire and lost twenty per cent of its foliage or half of its limbs. It may have been topped for a Christmas tree.

Hey, lets propagate that tree, which means the new tree will in effect be the same tree — but let’s do some science. How about we inject a little human DNA to the new growth.

Not sure how that could be done but I’m willing to bet there will come a time when someone does it.

Wait a minute, humans already share what, 50%, 70% of their DNA with trees — and a company called Biopresence will put YOUR DNA into a tree as a memorial.

Come to think of it eating a banana is cannibalism.

Using that criteria one must wonder just how much difference there is between a vegetarian and a carnivore or an omnivore?

How would you feel if the tree created using your DNA was used someday to build a house? Would it matter which house was built? Would it matter if it were used in a housing project or a funeral home or an orphanage?

There would appear serious evidence exists that meteorites carry the basic building blocks of DNA with them trough space.

So you can think of meteorites as space sperm looking for a fertile female planet to impregnate.

The next time you skip a rock across a lake think of the idea you may be drowning a distant cousin.

There is a tiny bit more to the law of identity.

A final point of absurdity:

“A statement cannot remain the same and change its truth value.”

WTBDTM? ™

For Aristotle it meant a lot. He believed in an absolute, independent, truth.

For a Map Thinker this makes no sense.

A map thinker knows truth is an accurate statement of a specific event at a specific place that lasts a specific length of time. Last Tuesday at ten a.m. The stop light was green.

The big dipper will be recognizable in its present form for the next thousand years.

Okay, the point of all this:

We need to rewrite the Law of Identity for use today.

A thing is distinguishable as itself to the extent it is different from everything else.

We are going to abolish the whole thing about truth value.

For example Aristotle believed the human species was the unquestionably superior creature of all creation.

This, to him, was an absolute truth.

Most people today would have at least a degree of doubt that humans are in fact the perfect species.

The biggest problem with the Law of Identity, as Aristotle promulgates it, is that it separates things completely from all other things they relate too and from time. That is a thing in Aristotle’s world has no connections to any thing else, has no past and no future.

Such a thing cannot exist in our reality.

Lets apply this to you as a person.

Your identity depends on those things that distinguish you from all other people in the world.

Part of that is genetics.

Part of that is your past.

Part of that is how you see yourself today.

Part of that is what you wish, or believe, you will, or may become in the future.

You don’t have to strive to do any of this. All you have to do is strive to be yourself and strive to create yourself into the future person you would wish to become.

Nice to meet you. 🙂

© 2013 All Rights Reserved

Quick Review # 1

4 May

If you have born with me through the last blogs you now have three simple, easy to learn, easy to use, actually fun, tools that will enable you to cut through garbage thinking.

Lets look at them.

PoPo™.

PoPo™ stands for the Principle of Progressive obscurity.

The idea here is simple and easy enough for any child to comprehend. The more specific, the more concrete, the subject you are talking about the more you know exactly what you are talking about.

Little Mr. PerfectIf you are talking about a specific dog, say the Chihuahua in the picture, the more you can know about that dog. We can say he is an older dog. That he is a Chihuahua, you can count his teeth, discuss his penchant for eating fresh tomatoes out of his mistress’s garden, etc.

You can learn a lot about this specific Chihuahua.

The problem is all this information will tell you little about Chihuahuas in general.

You can guess that not all Chihuahuas will like to pluck tomatoes out of the garden and munch them but you can’t know how common that impulse is among the breed.

You can learn a lot about Chihuahuas in general, but all of this information will only tell you what to expect if you deal with a sizable section of Chihuahuas. It will not tell you a lot about what to expect in any particular Chihuahua. The particular Chihuahua might very well be atypical.

This is a sort of Heisenberg Principle of Language.

The more you know about the concrete object you can see, smell, taste, touch, and hear, the less you know about the larger, more general case.

The larger the general case the less you know about the concrete, specific instance of that case.

Thus you can know a lot of things about dogs in general.

But that knowledge will only give you general clues to the nature of any specific breed of dogs. The group of dogs called Chihuahuas may be very atypical in some respects to other breeds and any one Chihuahua may be atypical of its breed.

Keeping PoPo™ in mind helps you to realize how little or how much you know at any given time about the subject you are talking about. It also gives you insight into how much the speaker you are listening too actually knows what they are talking about.

Politics and advertising are rife with slogans that have no meaning.

Wittgenstein has this to say: “What can be said, can be said with clarity: What can’t be said, must remain unsaid … The language defines the limit, beyond that limit is nonsense.”

I call it the Wittgenstein Wall™.

Clarity to a certain degree depends on who is speaking and who is being spoken too.

A pair of electronics engineers will talk together in terms that would confuse the average electronics technician let alone a lay person. The key is they would both know exactly what the other is saying and be able to explain to the lay person what was being said.

Business people, on the other hand, often speak to each other in jargon so obtuse they find it impossible to explain to a lay person with any precision what it is they are talking about.

Lets take a look at ads.

One of my favorite is, “Genuine old fashioned (insert [I’m thinking peanut butter]product) now new and improved”.

WTBDTM?

It is nonsense.

It is also humorous. (I find it funny).

But it sold (¿peanut butter?).

If you approach the sentence, “Genuine old fashioned product now new and improved.” From a logical standpoint “Genuine old fashioned” and “new and improved” openly contradict each other. Which is true.

When you look at the sentence from a word for word standpoint you realize none of the words have real meaning.

What does “genuine” mean?

Real. True. Correct. Honest. Authentic.

How is it used?

As a modifier. It has no “genuine” meaning until it is given something to mean. Genuine peanut butter. Genuine butter. Genuine wool. Genuine milk.

WTBDTM?

Genuine anything is anything with genuine in front of it.

It does imply that other peanut butters, other soaps, other milks, are not genuine. It implies they are fake.

But why?

Several things are going on here and logic cannot encompass them.

But Logic, or at least the penchant for the either / or aspect of pseudo logical does help to explain what is going on. I say pseudo logical because Logic, as used by someone who knows and understands the intricacies of logic, such as a professor of philosophy, will automatically compensate for Aristotle’s “excluded middle”. In other words the less a person knows about genuine Logic the more apt they are to believe that stating everything in “either – or” statements are Logical.

So people, consciously, or subconsciously, who have not broken the socially trained instinct for “either-or” thinking will respond to “genuine peanut butter” as though it were the genuine article and other peanut butters were not.

In truth the law defines what can or cannot be called peanut butter.

So…

The law and I disagree about what “real” peanut butter is.

Why?

The law says peanut butter does not have to have any peanut oil in it. All the peanut oil can be taken out and substituted with cheaper, less healthy, oils — And by law it can still be called peanut butter.

When dealing with the law one has to be very aware of PoPo™.

Legal definitions come about because there has been a legal disagreement in the past that was decided in a court of law. The legal definition that was decided upon may not be the one you would think or expect.

Most people assume that once they divorce their spouse their mother-in-law is no longer their mother-in-law.

Wrong.

I know of no way to un-mother-in-law a woman once she has been mother-in-lawed in. If you have had eight spouses and divorced every one of them then you have eight mothers-in-law.

Happy family reunion.

© 2013 All Rights Reserved

 

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