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The Half-life of Facts.

 
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 01:12 pm
@fresco,
Quote:
And in answer to the Hitler question, it is conceivable, but currently unlikely, that a future society might evolve where reference to infamous 20th. century characters is discouraged, banned or officially altered as in Orwell's "Ministry of Truth". I take the controversial view that "existence" is always relative, never absolute, and that the "existence of Hitler" is/was a function of those for whom it might matter. On this viewpoint "it"(the nebulous Hitler phenomenon) may cease to "exist" because it will cease to matter.


In other words, you intend for things to be the way you say they are...no matter what.

This argument, Fresco...should be held in intellectual contempt even by you...although I doubt you will be able to do so..

Whether you can or not, the argument is an abomination to reason and logic.

0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 01:31 pm
@Olivier5,
Total rubbish !
....and that goes for Frank too, who doesn't like the idea that what we call "reality" is negotiated.
I see no sign of Hitler being negotiated out of "what matters" as yet, despite there being fields in Flanders saturated with the body parts of nameless soldiers whose existence as "individual entities" has ceased to have meaning after less than 100 years.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 02:49 pm
@fresco,
So, would it be a problem for you if the holocaust was 'nogotiated out of existence' ?
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  3  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 02:51 pm
@fresco,
Facts don't change; they are true or false forever. It's our awareness of the fact that changes, not the facts themselves. And I don't see how our awareness of them is at all analogous of radioactive decay. It's much more similar to an evolutionary process, in which youngsters inherit awareness of facts from elders, modify them with speculative thoughts, test them, and discard them when the tests fail, seems much closer to what's really going on. Talking about the half life of (our recognition of) a fact seems about as silly to me as talking about the half life of a biological species.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 03:36 pm
@Thomas,
As Rorty said "truth is like God". You are using the religious language of absolutes. It is an assumption which works for you but has little to do with the etymology of the word "fact", from the Latin (to construct).
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 03:40 pm
@Olivier5,
What's obvious is that you are impressed with your profound knowledge. It may come as a shock to to learn that not all of us agree. I understood the Wikipedia article just fine.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 04:01 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
As Rorty said "truth is like God". You are using the religious language of absolutes. It is an assumption which works for you but has little to do with the etymology of the word "fact", from the Latin (to construct).

Oh, come off it. The facts of gravity can break your neck whether you're aware of them or not. That fire isn't a chemical element was a fact in 500 BC, even though the Ancient Greeks held the opposite to be a fact. Global warming will raise sea levels whether the Republican party is aware of it or not. The real world isn't like cartoons, where gravity comes into existence only after Wile E Coyote realizes he's just run over a cliff. Facts are facts whether we're aware of them or not. Religion has nothing to do with this.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 04:55 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
I understood the Wikipedia article just fine.

And how would you know that?
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 08:47 pm
@Thomas,
I guess it's a matter of semantic taste, but I can't bring myself to say that facts are facts whether we're aware of them or not. I prefer to say that "realities" are what they are and "facts" are little theories regarding persistent aspects of them. Facts are, by (my) definition, constructions describing what I am aware of about reality.
Thomas
 
  3  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 09:47 pm
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:
I guess it's a matter of semantic taste, but I can't bring myself to say that facts are facts whether we're aware of them or not.

Are you saying that if some bushman untouched by European civilization has an inflamed tooth but isn't aware that bacteria exist, then the inflammation is not, in fact, caused by bacteria?
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 10:03 pm
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:
Facts are, by (my) definition, constructions describing what I am aware of about reality.

Then your definition is at odds with standard English usage. Webster's definition of the term "fact", for example, implies no such thing. You're not saying anything new, or useful, or original about facts; you're just speaking some private language of your own while misleading your correspondents into thinking you're speaking English.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 10:07 pm
@Thomas,
It interesting how various folks have as many takes on the word"Fact" as they do about "Theory"
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Oct, 2013 11:14 pm
@Thomas,
The bushman is subject to the same reality as I: we both suffer inflamed teeth because of the same reality*, but long ago you and I would have explained it differently--with different "facts"--and probably a hundred or more years from now (i.e., eventually) someone else will do it differently again.
*His explanatory facts might have to do with socercery or the like.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 12:19 am
@Thomas,
I have above differentiated between "persistance" and "permanence". The first can be attributed to common physiology and language of our species with its short history of scientific activity. The second has nothing to add to the first other than a mystical component.

In the Middle ages it was a "fact" that there were four colors in a rainbow, and four elements. Today the physicist Brian Cox writes "whatever can happen, does happen at the quantum level".

Facts are statements about our expectancies and our limited ability to control what we call "the world". What we call the world changes as we change. The word "gravity" implies we know how to predict the movement of what we call "bodies" in what we call "a gravitational field". But do we call that parochial knowledge the fact or do we eliminate the term "gravity" entirely and use Einstein's "space tells matter how to move, matter tells space how to curve" as the fact ?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 01:52 am
@JLNobody,
It is interesting that Christian Scientists are somewhat similar to those bushmen with their concept of "divine providence".

But interesting of course is the role of social forces (as in the Azande for (example) in defining what is an acceptable paradigm for "truth".
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 05:04 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

The bushman is subject to the same reality as I: we both suffer inflamed teeth because of the same reality*, but long ago you and I would have explained it differently--with different "facts"--and probably a hundred or more years from now (i.e., eventually) someone else will do it differently again.
*His explanatory facts might have to do with socercery or the like.


At some point, I suspect you will finally GET the difference between "facts" and "reality"...and our ability to perceive and explain them. It appears it will not be sometime soon.

0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 05:05 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

I have above differentiated between "persistance" and "permanence". The first can be attributed to common physiology and language of our species with its short history of scientific activity. The second has nothing to add to the first other than a mystical component.

In the Middle ages it was a "fact" that there were four colors in a rainbow, and four elements. Today the physicist Brian Cox writes "whatever can happen, does happen at the quantum level".

Facts are statements about our expectancies and our limited ability to control what we call "the world". What we call the world changes as we change. The word "gravity" implies we know how to predict the movement of what we call "bodies" in what we call "a gravitational field". But do we call that parochial knowledge the fact or do we eliminate the term "gravity" entirely and use Einstein's "space tells matter how to move, matter tells space how to curve" as the fact ?



You too, Fresco.
0 Replies
 
Ding an Sich
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 06:49 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

I cannot agree. Evidence from empirical, naturalistic science is very much to the point in a discussion of facticity. Meillassoux's definition of facticity is the ultimate example of question begging, because it assumes as a premise an absence of reason for reality. That is called, in the parlance of inappropriate card players, stacking the deck. Essentially, you have now defaulted to your favorite rhetorical position, which is that if one does not agree with you, it must obviously be because that one is not capable of understanding the subtleties of your religious faith . . . excuse me, your opinion.


Wow. I'm glad somebody else brought up Meillassoux. Very Happy

Just to further expound on the reference to Meillassoux, in "After Finitude" he uses facticity as a way to turn correlationism on it's head. "Facticity...", as Meillassoux notes, "pertains to those structural invariants that supposedly govern the world..." (pp. 39). These invariants change with different correlationist thinkers, but they all have a general characteristic to them: there can be no reason given to them. Further, and this is pertinent to Setanta's comment:

"What I experience with facticity is not an objective reality, but rather the unsurpassable limits of objectivity confronted with the fact that there is a world; a world that is describable and perceptible, and structured by determinate invariants. It is the sheer fact of the world's logicality, of its givenness in a representation, which evades the structures of logical and representational reason. The in-itself becomes opaque to the point where is is no longer possible to maintain that it exists, so that the term tends to disappear to the benefit of facticity alone. (pp. 40)"

But Meillassoux isn't using facticity himself as a means to establish a new invariant. Instead, he wants to break through facticity, showing that correlationists, from Kant onward, simply haven't gone far enough in their thinking.

Hope this helps.

Ding an Sich
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 07:04 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

A recent book by Samual Arbesman describes the transient nature of what we call "knowledge", such that any statement we call " a fact" today has a finite life expectancy of staying valid in the future. The analogy is of course drawn from the radiactive decay of elements.

Does this put another philosophical nail in the coffin of "absolutism", whether it be couched in religious terms or statements about what we call "reality"?


Probably not.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Oct, 2013 07:07 am
A problem i have with any discipline is the elaboration of ideas, hypotheses and so-called theories based on unsubstantiated premises, especially when the basis for the premise is mere ipse dixit claims.
 

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