10
   

What could Pascal have meant?

 
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2010 05:02 pm
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:

What is erroneous, first and foremost, is your misreading of Pascal.

Pascal says: "the perceptions of our senses are always true," especially in the context that "man naturally cannot see everything." He is not saying that it's true that we have perceptions, nor is he conflating that with the idea that our perceptions are true, which is what you are doing.

The perceptions of our senses aren't always true, as demonstrated in my example.


I don't think that he is saying that. I think he is saying that even if what we are looking at is not blue, so that if we say that it is blue we are wrong, nevertheless, it is true that it looks blue to us, and we cannot be mistaken about how it looks to us. I don't see how your example shows he is wrong about that.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2010 05:06 pm
@Pronounce,
Pronounce wrote:

Quote:
Does winning an argument that way really produce truth

This assumes that the winner would win by the merits of truth, and not by coercion, and that the winner perceptions of the truth was valid. Remember that scientific fact is just updated error.


I am not sure what the criterion is for winning an argument? Is it that your opponent concedes? Why could not your opponent concede (so that you win) but still, you have committed a fallacy that your opponent has not noticed so that your argument is unsound?

It was never an error that germs cause disease, and it is not an error now. It is a scientific fact.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2010 05:11 pm
@Pronounce,
Pronounce wrote:

I think Pascal's words can be boiled down to this: Instead of arguing for arguing sake take the time to understand other the person's point of view so you can effectively help them see your point of view on the matter.


But might I not not be arguing for argument's sake, see why the other person thinks he is right, and yet, believe the other person is wrong. And even be right in thinking that the other person is wrong? For instance, I can see why people used to think that the Sun moved around Earth (it certainly looks that way) but I think they were wrong (and so, I hope, do you) and also since the Sun does not move around the Earth I am right in thinking they were wrong. So, if I had argued with them, I would not have been arguing for argument's sake.
Pronounce
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2010 05:19 pm
@kennethamy,
Quote:
I am not sure what the criterion is for winning an argument?

Nor I. I wonder who makes that determination.
Quote:
Is it that your opponent concedes? Why could not your opponent concede (so that you win) but still, you have committed a fallacy that your opponent has not noticed so that your argument is unsound?

I'm guessing this often happens. I know I only see a few trees in the forest of reality and existence, this hampers my knowledge of truth. I have to assume if this is true for me it is also true for others.
Quote:
It was never an error that germs cause disease, and it is not an error now. It is a scientific fact.

You'd be hard pressed to find someone to argue this topic with, but I bet if you posted it as a question you probably could get someone who'd bite.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2010 05:28 pm
@Pronounce,
Pronounce wrote:

Quote:
I am not sure what the criterion is for winning an argument?

Nor I. I wonder who makes that determination.
Quote:
Is it that your opponent concedes? Why could not your opponent concede (so that you win) but still, you have committed a fallacy that your opponent has not noticed so that your argument is unsound?

I'm guessing this often happens. I know I only see a few trees in the forest of reality and existence, this hampers my knowledge of truth. I have to assume if this is true for me it is also true for others.
Quote:
It was never an error that germs cause disease, and it is not an error now. It is a scientific fact.

You'd be hard pressed to find someone to argue this topic with, but I bet if you posted it as a question you probably could get someone who'd bite.


Well, it is pretty easy to find out whether what you believe to be true others also believe to be true. Just ask them. No need to presume anything.

Yes, some people will argue just for the sake of arguing. But if your opponent is one of those, the only thing to do is to walk away.
Pronounce
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2010 06:48 pm
@kennethamy,
Uhmmm... how do I say this... It is my firm belief that there is a really low probability of changing a person's mind. So from that stand point I view most topical disagreements as arguing for argument sake. The only exception I make for this is when one person actually cares to build a relationship with another.

Also I believe that most people are closed minded, because they are unskilled at suspending their beliefs so as to genuinely understand the other person's point of view.

I also believe each person has a worldview, or core value system. And I believe that this plays into what they think as true. (I can reasonably suppose that people making comments here are the products of modernism and The Enlightenment.) There are other cultures who do not share Western cultural views.

A great example of this works is found in looking at African tribal cultures. Their worldview is that there is a zero sum of goodness in the world. Which means if tribe person Joe has a crop and tribe person Sam has a crop and Joe's crop does much better than Sam's crop then the cultural belief is that Joe took some of Sam's allotted goodness. Sam can assert to the village that Joe is a witch and his claim will be taken seriously. Joe is proved to be a witch (by virtue of his wealth) he could likely loose his land, and possibly his life. European relief workers sent to this tribe to increase the village's crop yield don't realize this core belief. Their use of pesticides, irrigation, and fertilizer on Joe's field only reinforces the tribes core beliefs of zero sum goodness. When the relief workers leave the crop production will fall back to the levels it always has been.

From this understanding of culture we can see that people's beliefs are culturally based, and discussions about truth need to be normalized to this understanding.

Quote:
Sun does not move around the Earth I am right in thinking they were wrong. So, if I had argued with them, I would not have been arguing for argument's sake.

Today the heliocentric perspective is dominate, but when Galileo proposed his theory it was only conjecture. If you read Feyerabend's book "Against Method" you'll find that there was no really good reason to prefer heliocentrism at that point, and that Galileo couldn't prove many of his conjectures, and had to rely on rhetorical trickery to displace geocentrism.
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2010 06:50 pm
Pronounce wrote:
It is my firm belief that there is a really low probability of changing a person's mind.

I've found that there is a lower probability that the person, if their mind has been changed, will admit that their mind has been changed. It may be surprising to you how many people do in fact change their minds, but appear not to have been persuaded in order to not lose face.
Pronounce
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2010 06:51 pm
@kennethamy,
Quote:
Well, it is pretty easy to find out whether what you believe to be true others also believe to be true. Just ask them.


Yep, and that is why I only ask those who agree with me. I feel sorry for all those who don't get it.
0 Replies
 
Pronounce
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jul, 2010 06:54 pm
@Zetherin,
<whispering> Good point Zeph, but keep on the DL I don't want anyone to know I've changed my mind.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2010 07:41 am
@Pronounce,
Pronounce wrote:


Quote:
Sun does not move around the Earth I am right in thinking they were wrong. So, if I had argued with them, I would not have been arguing for argument's sake.

Today the heliocentric perspective is dominate, but when Galileo proposed his theory it was only conjecture. If you read Feyerabend's book "Against Method" you'll find that there was no really good reason to prefer heliocentrism at that point, and that Galileo couldn't prove many of his conjectures, and had to rely on rhetorical trickery to displace geocentrism.



So what has that all to do with what we are talking about? If you don't like that example, let's go on to a different example. Pasteur's hypothesis that germs were the cause of disease and its spread. There were some who thought that was wrong, since they (then) could not see germs. But Pasteur (and others) had excellent reasons for the germ hypothesis, so although it, too, was a conjecture, in was not only a conjecture. (We should not confuse: 1. "It is a conjecture" with, 2. It is only a conjecture. We can, if we wish, call any hypothesis or explanation, "a conjecture". But then, we have to distinguish between calling the hypothesis a conjecture, and calling it only a conjecture. It is not only a conjecture when it is supported by powerful evidence as was the germ hypothesis. (Feyerabend keeps confusing "conjecture" with "only a conjecture" so that he think that if he calls an hypothesis a conjecture, that is enough to dismiss it as lacking evidence. But he is obviously wrong since although all hypotheses are conjectures, many hypotheses are not only conjectures since they are supported by very powerful reasons). So, since you are not happy with the example I gave, I don't mind. How about the Pasteur example? Again. the evidence for it was so strong, that some people who argued against it were doing so only for the sake of argument. And since the evidence for germs was so powerful, they were wrong. And now, (of course) since we can actually see germs with powerful microscopes we know that they were doubly wrong. But they were wrong even then, since there were (and are) germs.
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2010 11:13 am
@kennethamy,
Quote:
I think he is saying that even if what we are looking at is not blue, so that if we say that it is blue we are wrong, nevertheless, it is true that it looks blue to us, and we cannot be mistaken about how it looks to us.

Taking this reading of what Pascal is saying, how then can he use this idea as the basis of pointing out to someone that he errs, if someone cannot err about what he perceives?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2010 12:20 pm
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:

Quote:
I think he is saying that even if what we are looking at is not blue, so that if we say that it is blue we are wrong, nevertheless, it is true that it looks blue to us, and we cannot be mistaken about how it looks to us.

Taking this reading of what Pascal is saying, how then can he use this idea as the basis of pointing out to someone that he errs, if someone cannot err about what he perceives?


Pascal doesn't use this as as example of error. He contrasts it with error. And he argues that even when someone errs, this part is not error. The trouble with that argument is that it is irrelevant. Someone says that what he sees is blue. Then you tell him that although what he sees is not blue, what it seems to him he sees is blue. So there is some truth in what he said. Now that is nice and gentle of you. But, never the less, it is false that he saw something blue. He probably did believe he saw something blue because it seemed to him that that he saw something blue. Fine. So he wasn't lying. So he is not a bad person. But that has nothing to do with the fact that he did not see anything blue, and so, what he said was wrong.
0 Replies
 
Pronounce
 
  0  
Reply Tue 3 Aug, 2010 03:56 pm
@kennethamy,
Even in spite of the validity of your argument do you agree that people who become fixated on truth loose sight of the big picture? And do you not think people who defend their perception of truth miss the point the other person is making? I think in part this is what Pascal is trying to communicate.
melonkali
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Aug, 2010 05:56 pm
@Pronounce,
Pronounce wrote:


A great example of this works is found in looking at African tribal cultures. Their worldview is that there is a zero sum of goodness in the world. Which means if tribe person Joe has a crop and tribe person Sam has a crop and Joe's crop does much better than Sam's crop then the cultural belief is that Joe took some of Sam's allotted goodness. Sam can assert to the village that Joe is a witch and his claim will be taken seriously. Joe is proved to be a witch (by virtue of his wealth) he could likely loose his land, and possibly his life. European relief workers sent to this tribe to increase the village's crop yield don't realize this core belief. Their use of pesticides, irrigation, and fertilizer on Joe's field only reinforces the tribes core beliefs of zero sum goodness. When the relief workers leave the crop production will fall back to the levels it always has been.

From this understanding of culture we can see that people's beliefs are culturally based, and discussions about truth need to be normalized to this understanding.



Apologies if this question seems "dense" or the answer obvious, but exactly how did relief workers' actions reinforce the tribe's core beliefs of zero sum goodness?

I'm not being intentionally pedantic, I really didn't "get" it. I am stuck in Western understanding. I don't "do" Eastern philosophy because I can't translate it into Western concepts which I can understand.

rebecca
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Aug, 2010 09:18 am
@Pronounce,
Pronounce wrote:

Even in spite of the validity of your argument do you agree that people who become fixated on truth loose sight of the big picture? And do you not think people who defend their perception of truth miss the point the other person is making? I think in part this is what Pascal is trying to communicate.



No, I do not. If the other person is making a pont, but if the point he is making is wrong, why is that important? Of course, when you talk about "their perception of the truth" or, in plain English, "their belief about what is true" you are implying that what they believe may not be true. And that is so. But why do you assume that? Suppose what they believe is, in fact true. What then? In that case, of course, the other person is not making a point at all.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Aug, 2010 09:22 am
@melonkali,
melonkali wrote:

Pronounce wrote:


A great example of this works is found in looking at African tribal cultures. Their worldview is that there is a zero sum of goodness in the world. Which means if tribe person Joe has a crop and tribe person Sam has a crop and Joe's crop does much better than Sam's crop then the cultural belief is that Joe took some of Sam's allotted goodness. Sam can assert to the village that Joe is a witch and his claim will be taken seriously. Joe is proved to be a witch (by virtue of his wealth) he could likely loose his land, and possibly his life. European relief workers sent to this tribe to increase the village's crop yield don't realize this core belief. Their use of pesticides, irrigation, and fertilizer on Joe's field only reinforces the tribes core beliefs of zero sum goodness. When the relief workers leave the crop production will fall back to the levels it always has been.

From this understanding of culture we can see that people's beliefs are culturally based, and discussions about truth need to be normalized to this understanding.



Apologies if this question seems "dense" or the answer obvious, but exactly how did relief workers' actions reinforce the tribe's core beliefs of zero sum goodness?

I'm not being intentionally pedantic, I really didn't "get" it. I am stuck in Western understanding. I don't "do" Eastern philosophy because I can't translate it into Western concepts which I can understand.

rebecca


Exactly right. The tribe has a series of false beliefs starting with the belief that there are witches. They seem to need to learn some Weatern science.
Pronounce
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Aug, 2010 11:02 am
@melonkali,
You're perceptive. How can any of us know of our culture? As Einstein is quoted as saying, "What does a fish know of water?"

1) In certain cultures it is believed that Westerners are greedy people consuming more than their share of the world resources (one of those resources being goodness/blessings).

2) It is also believed that the ancestral spirits of Westerns are powerful djinni (genies in control of natural forces).

Tribal societies function as a group and are anti-individualism. A person’s wife, job, land, heritage, and responsibilities are defined by the group and not by the individual.

Joe represents a certain type of tribe member. We would call progressive, because Joe thinks for himself and doesn’t follow tribal customs. But the tribe view Joe as a threat, someone who is breaking down the fabric of their society.

Unknown to the relief workers the one person who accepted their aid was the person who was marginalized. The fact that Joe’s field grew better just reinforced the tribe’s beliefs.

(This happened in real life. The relief workers were Norwegians and the tribe was Lotuho from southern Sudan. pg 14 “Make Haste Slowly” by Donald K. Smith)
0 Replies
 
Pronounce
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Aug, 2010 11:06 am
@kennethamy,
You're not going to change people by attacking their core beliefs with statements like "they seem to need to learn Western science". Westerners come off as narrow minded bigots to the rest of the world, because of their self assured "always rightness" and lack of consideration for others beliefs.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Aug, 2010 11:21 am
@Pronounce,
Pronounce wrote:

You're not going to change people by attacking their core beliefs with statements like "they seem to need to learn Western science". Westerners come off as narrow minded bigots to the rest of the world, because of their self assured "always rightness" and lack of consideration for others beliefs.


I may not. But then again, who knows? But that is not the point. The point is that there are no witches, and even if telling that tribe that there are no witches does not change their beliefs they are still wrong, and their other beliefs based on that belief is still false. Let's keep that in mind. Tolerance is fine in its place. But its place is not to believe (not even a little bit) what we know to be false. I can have consideration for a child's belief in Santa Claus, but that doesn't mean (I hope) believing in Santa Claus myself.
Razzleg
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Aug, 2010 12:50 am
@kennethamy,
[i wrote:
[/i]"kennethamy"]
I may not. But then again, who knows? But that is not the point. The point is that there are no witches, and even if telling that tribe that there are no witches does not change their beliefs they are still wrong, and their other beliefs based on that belief is still false. Let's keep that in mind. Tolerance is fine in its place. But its place is not to believe (not even a little bit) what we know to be false. I can have consideration for a child's belief in Santa Claus, but that doesn't mean (I hope) believing in Santa Claus myself.


are children who believe in Santa Claus irrational in their belief, given that everything that adults have given them to believe, regardless of reason, supports the idea of Santa Claus for them?
 

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