Tag Archives: Socrates

The Evolution on Concepts

6 Apr

The concept of a claw hammer did not just pop into the human mind from out of non-existence.

First was the concept of a rock.

Somewhere someone realized you could pound with a rock. Perhaps this person broke nuts open with a rock.
The first stage of the concept of a hammer was born.

Somewhere someone threw a rock at something. Perhaps it was a nut in a tree. Trying to knock it down.
The first stage of the concept of a rocket was born.

Somewhere someone used a stick. Perhaps it was to dig beetles out of the ground.
The first stages of the concept of a fork and a spear were born.

Somewhere someone put a rock on the end of a stick.
The second stage of the concept of a hammer was born.

Just as humanity evolved as a species so did humanities concepts.

And here is a crucial fact:
Every concept humanity has ever developed has survival value.
I have never found a single concept that did not have survival value at the time it was conceived. Some of those concepts have had counter survival value when circumstances changed and select humans refused to revise their concepts. But every human concept has survival value in the right circumstances.

I state that concepts evolve.
This is easily demonstrated. Scientific concepts show a clear path of evolution.

Other creatures also have concepts.
Look at dogs and cats. They both have a concept of what is food and what is not food. They share a concept of humanity as a source of food and shelter.
Obviously there was a time when humans were not sources of food and shelter for either dogs or cats. At that time dogs and cats would not have this concept of humans. This concept had to grow over time.
This simple demonstration shows not only that animals do have concepts but also shows that their concepts also evolve.
In this we are not alone.

We can look at a bug as having a concept of what food is. Of what a predator is. In the case of ants and bees they must have some concept of home and community. Perhaps nothing like we humans have, but something that suffices.

It can be said that certain plants, those that turn their leaves or flowers toward the sun as it passes, have some rudimentary concept of pleasure if nothing else. It might be nothing more than warmth.

Each creature has exactly the number, or set (if you will) of concepts that it needs to survive.

The Concept Line™ starts at the vaguest sensory awareness.
A plant has, through warmth, light, or some other means, a sensory awareness of the sun. We know this because so many plants visibly react to the sun.
Whether the plant has any sensory memory of the sun when it is not present is something we cannot determine with any current or proposed technology I am aware of. However it has been demonstrated that plants discharge measurable energy when in the presence of someone who has abused them, say torn off their limbs.
Thus we can contend that plants have a rudimentary concept of pain and pleasure.

Moving along the concept line we can show that insects have a rudimentary concept of food and predator.
We know this simply because any bug will go after that which it considers food, be it a leaf or another bug, and will avoid, and or fight, those things that will in turn eat them.

Many fish live in schools. Some insects live in hives. This indicates a rudimentary sense of community.
Primates go so far as to show complex social structure and even politics.

Humanities concepts have not only evolved, but can be traced through anthropology.

Even more interestingly the human evolution of concepts can be demonstrated in its children. A baby has the most minimum concepts possible for a human being to have. As the child develops physical abilities and experience more concepts develop. For example babies are not born with depth perception, it develops later, and even then it takes time and experience for a child to judge exactly how far away an object is. Then even more time to judge how much time it will take the object, say a car, to reach them at a given speed.

However having a concept is not sufficient.

In fact having a concept, in and of itself, is only a survival mechanism only up to a point in the evolutionary ladder.
At some point what is done with concepts is more important than having concepts.

Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
I say the unexamined concept is not worth having.

So at the far end of our Concept Line™ , not at the very end, we mark a point at which concepts are not simply held, they are manipulated.

 

 

 
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The Law of the Included Middle

11 Aug

Aristotle is NOT an idiot!

The Law of the Excluded Middle impeded science for hundreds of years and still impedes science.

Even those studies that are not normally thought of as science.

Such as economics.

As I pointed out in the law of contradiction, although not directly, everything is connected. All anything is is a different batch of a set of common ingredients to produce a recipe of creation.

Most of the interesting things happen in the middle.

First lets look at Aristotle:

Either (A or Not A)

A thing either exists or does not exist.

Every statement is ether true or false.

Logically this may be true.

Mapologically nothing exists quite as it is perceived and nothing exists until it is perceived. Until then it is simply potential.

Thus Neither (A nor Not A)

Truth is transitory and even that is worthless unless it has use. To be useful it must be grounded.

Example:

The Big Dipper is a constellation in the sky.

This is true.

But to be of any value two things must happen.

The person must know that the Big Dipper indicates north.

The Big Dipper must be visible.

Both conditions above must exist when you need them.

Perhaps when you are lost.

One of the difficulties many people have with my system of thought is that a lie can be seen as more useful, and therefore more desirable, than the truth.

Example:

A desperate killer is headed toward a theater. If he gets there and people are present he would have hostages. If you walk out on stage and explain the situation, answer questions, etc. He will be there.

On the other hand telling everyone there is a fire and to get away might be a superior alternative.

Lets take a look at the middle.

Let me give you a quick lesson in economics. It is applicable in many, perhaps most, situations. If you are making decisions it works. If you are trying to get your kids, or your employees to do a good job, it works. If you are trying to understand political issues it works.

Picture a teeter totter.

Got that?

Somewhere in the middle is the balance point where rewards and punishments exactly balance. If it is taking out the garbage there is a specific point where the bother of taking it out exactly balances the reward of having somewhere to put the garbage.

Okay, so your teenager is the one who is assigned the bother of taking out the kitchen garbage.

But the teenager never suffers the inconvenience of not having anyplace to put the potato peelings while cooking dinner. It is quite possible the teenager cannot even fathom the necessity of taking out the kitchen garbage.

This becomes a useful map of the family dynamics.

The solution is to either make the chores more pertinent to what the teenager is doing, or alter what the teenager is doing to make the chores more pertinent.

Perhaps the teenager should be the one peeling the potatoes.

Most people think economics has to do with the stock market.

Economics is simple. It is the science of the carrot and the stick. When the reward for doing something is worth the time and resources required to do it you have equilibrium. The reward may not be money. It might be self-respect. The resources might not be time or money. It could be self respect. When the teeter totter tips one way or the other then more people will either respond by avoiding the cost or by obtaining the reward. The further the tip the more people will respond to it.

Economics resides in the middle.

Without the included middle economics cannot be explored in any way, manner, shape, or form.

This is true of science and knowledge in general.

Aristotelean logic leads to dead ends, prison cells of the mind, and locks the thinker in them in the name of truth. Once there creativity stops, exploration stops, and real thinking stops.

Once a person who has found the one real truth they become a “believer” in that truth. There is no reason to look further. In fact looking further can seem blasphemous — Even though religion is not involved.

Aristotle is a case in point. A lot of philosophers have disagreed with Aristotle. Yet when I was in school the teachers idolized Aristotle. When I said I preferred Socrates I felt as though I were dealing with Sunday School talking God rather than a Parochial School talking philosophy. The difference being that Aristotle was the Holy One and Socrates the Questioner was a Satanic force.

When I said “Socrates died for my Questions” I was told that I was too young to discuss philosophy. There would be plenty of time for that when I went to college.

Like that was ever going to happen.

But wait a minute. Lets take a closer look at Aristotle himself.

When Aristotle wrote about the Virtues what did he espouse?

Balance and Moderation.

In other words when Aristotle tackled a real subject he did what any sensible person would do: He went right to the middle: He did not exclude it.

I wish I had known this when I was still in school. It would have changed my disagreements with teachers considerably. The outcome I do not know. But I am curious. After I left school I was able to find in libraries and read things about Aristotle that was not available in school.

All I found as a child was the Three Laws of Thought and the Syllogism.

At the time I had serious problems with them but had no argument against them except Socrates. The teachers were no help because their interests lay in “either – or” thinking by the students. Either you are a good student or a bad student. I was a bad student, therefore I needed to shape up or be punished.

I rejected the concept that I was a “bad” student.

Which meant they had to be bad teachers.

Nowadays, as a Map Thinker™ I would realize, at least intellectually, that the scholastic situation is such that it promotes conformity over education.

Somewhere after the sixth grade I wrote my first treatise on Philosophy. It was called Quizology and I wish I still had a copy. It was a study of questions. Most, if not all, of Quizology is embodied in Map Thinking™. I did not take care of it because I accepted the premise one of my teachers gave me, “No one will ever care what an ignorant Halfbreed has to say.”

The sad conclusion is that most people who claim to be logical use the most simplistic “Either – Or” tools available to them and ignore, or are unable to comprehend, the complexity of truly logical thought.

Oddly there is a definite parallel here with a certain type of Biblically ignorant person who claims to be a Christian but has no concept of what Christ said or did according to the new testament.

There is a rule here, I believe. Any belief system will attract a significant number of people who use the most simplified version of it and ignore the intricacies.

So far I have not tackled one thing; How does one find the middle?

That, it turns out is the easy part. You use Aristotle’s laws of thought. The simplest either / or mentality.

Without realizing what she was doing, my mother taught me Map Thinking™ when I was a small child. When someone would ask me, “Are you a good boy?” The pressure on the child is to say, “Yes.” Because either you are a good boy or you are a bad boy.

Most parents either let the child answer and beam with pride as the poor child is programmed, not so much to “goodness” — but programmed into this simplistic model of Aristotelean logic. Either / or. If the child hesitates the parent will often answer for them, “He is a very good boy (girl)”. Never thinking they are modeling not just the child’s behavior, which it probably doesn’t, but they are modeling the child’s methodology of thinking.

Not my mother.

“Tell him you are just a little boy, honey.” Which I would dutifully repeat.

What did I take away?

Somehow in my psyche was ingrained. I wasn’t good. I wasn’t bad. There is no either / or. I was just another little boy doing little boy things in little boy ways.

I still remember the odd looks on the faces of the adults who could not understand what had happened to a simple, culturally acceptable question that was normally asked of little children.

Scientists have studied some of the ways we humans reach false conclusions. Pretty much they have reached the conclusion our minds are wired in ways that produce certain fallacies of thought. What the scientists studying this phenomena don’t seem to have taken into consideration is that children are culturally and scholastically indoctrinated in these ways of thought.

And it doesn’t have to be that way.

So let us look at the Law of the Excluded Middle from a Map Thinker’s™ Point of View.

Either (A or not A)

Becomes:

A+ <- An ->A

Where A+ is one extreme. 

Where A- is the other extreme.

and An is all possible degrees in between.

 

© 2013, All Rights Reserved

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

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

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