Tag Archives: Chihuahua

Why Would YOU Think Like Aristotle?

26 Oct

So why would anyone, you, I, or the person down the street, the big shot in the office, the bag person pushing a shopping cart  — Why would they, or anyone else, think like, or want to think like Aristotle?

The reason is simple: Because we are human.

Aristotle no doubt believed he came up with a higher form of reasoning. His followers, even to this day, tend to believe that Aristotlean Logic is a higher form of reasoning, largely due to the complex nature of its exceptions.  Fallacies, they are called.

So what is a Fallacy?

Its simplest definition is an error in reasoning: On the surface the argument looks as though it is reasonable and logical, but when compared to empirical data the answer simply does not fit.

The easiest fallacy to uncover results from not closely defining the terms being used. Often these are accidental. If you don’t realize that bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, and protozoa, are all called germs: If you don’t realize that some of these are good for you, then you are prone to making fallacies about them yourself or to accepting fallacies about them from others.

This is where questions come in. Even when you know that germs are a category, not things themselves, and even when you know that some are good for you and some are bad for you and some are indifferent — it does not hurt to ask yourself, or the person you are talking too, “Exactly what do we mean by that?”

Why Logic is so difficult to master is because there are so many potential fallacies that have been identified. The lowest number of known fallacies I have ever heard is ninety-nine.  The largest number is over a thousand.

In order to be a logician you need to not only recognize a fallacy, you need to be able to implement it; that is find it and correct it.

The reason why there are so many exceptions in Logic; the reason why there are so many fallacies is not because Logic is complex, but because it is simplistic. It way over simplifies so that our minds, which are incapable of handling the full extent of reality, can deal with, manipulate, and understand reality.

Once we understand that Logic is simplified reasoning, one that is not in any way connected too, or representative of reality, then we can use it to good effect. We take a tiny piece of our insanely complex universe, make it bite size so our brain can deal with it, and then discuss it as though it were real. We can refine our definition to the point where it can be understood and manipulated. We can discuss specific bacteria strains, or domestic cats, without constantly worrying that this small segment of reality is not representative of all reality, even though we are aware of the fact.

Once that is done we can use Logic.

Basically Logic is a system of drawing lines around the various parts of the universe and declaring “This is This and That is That”.

It is important to realize that neither This nor That really exist in and of themselves.

A dog is NOT a dog. There is a self animated fur-bearing thing out there in reality that we call a dog. Dogs share DNA with cats and humans. When we talk about dogs we often do not even realize we are discussing domestic dogs and much of what we say does not apply to their wild cousins. So we can discuss German Shepherds or Border Collies as opposed to Tea Cup Poodles or Chihuahuas.

I am aware I am beating a point in the head here, but it needs to be absorbed.

When we are using Logic we are not talking about “Things” we are talking about our definitions of “Things”. The things themselves do not exist independently or out of context with any of the other things the universe is composed of. The fact things can be treated as though they are separate entities allows humans the ability “Think” about them: To manipulate ideas about them: To, as far as humanly possible, understand them.

We never really know, no can we ever know, exactly what we are talking about. But we can arrange our definitions is such a way that we can discuss them as though we did know.

The problems of reasoning happen when we forget that Logic, Things, or Events, and our understanding of them, are all artificial constructs that allow us as humans to function within a universe we cannot fully comprehend.

© 2013 All Rights Reserved.

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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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