John and all, (01)
Mach was a scientific realist: (02)
This world-picture is said ... to be not only independent of the
individual, but also valid for all times and peoples, and even for the
quite differently organized inhabitants of Mars. Ernst Mach [19, p36] (03)
Even the man in the street knows how external circumstances and sense
organs affect our impressions of the world, so that it appears
somewhat different to each one of us. Scientific experience confirms
this, and teaches us further that sensation (perception) is determined
by the final link in a chain reaching
from the environment to the central organ of sense; in exceptional
cases, it can occur spontaneously, without external stimulus, in the
form of hallucination.... placing too great an importance on these
exceptional cases can easily lead to monstruous systems of idealism,
or even solipsism. Mach [19, p39] (04)
[T]he conflict between scientific ideas [can be seen] as a struggle
for life and as the survival of the fittest. Ernst Mach [19, p30] (05)
Mach was a proponent of the principle of economy PE: (06)
All living creatures who may study physics in the future will be
obliged, like us, to provide for their own survival and therefore to
pay attention to whatever in nature is economically important and
permanent for them; Mach [19, p36] (07)
I was struck by the strange way in which scientists went on about
selecting the simplest, thriftiest and the most efficient method of
reaching their goal. Ernst Mach [19, p30] (08)
But he propagated PE sometimes too far: (09)
...if the Machian principle of economy were ever to become central to
the theory of knowledge, the thought processes of ... leading
intellects would be paralyzed, and the progress of science might thus
be fatally impeded. Max Planck [21, p26] (010)
...the principle of economy is not capable of leading the way for
physical research, for the simple reason that one can never tell in
advance from which point of view economy will appear most valuable and
durable. So a physicist who wishes to advance his science must be a
realist, not an economist —that is,
he must first and foremost seek among varying phenomena whatever is
lasting and eternal, and try to bring it to light. Intellectual
economy will serve him as means, but not as an end. This has always
been the case and —in spite of E. Mach and his so-called
anti-metaphysics— will no doubt always remain
the case. Max Planck [21, p52] (011)
Science is (contrary to the classical positivist dogma) not a
compendious and economical summary of experience, but an attempt at
understanding (explaining) the facts of nature by means of laws,
hypotheses and theories. Herbert Feigl [45, p14-15] (012)
PE does not constrain thought processes in any way, but it only helps
thought processes; using the expression that is shorter and easier to
understand, does not rob anything away from the intellectuals who read
the text. PE does not require a fixed number of categories: it only
professes against unnecessary, redundant, and useless categories. Mach
derived extreme empiricism by using PE, among other things. This is
why Planck’s critisism against Mach’s PE can be seen as criticism only
against extreme empiricism, not against PE itself. Also, Feigl’s
critique does not touch PE in the sense that PE is in no way in clash
with ontological realism: on the contrary, PE in fact drives one to
accept ontological realism, when realism and solipsism are evaluated
as mutually exclusive starting points to ontology. It is quite clear
that Feigl and others did not oppose PE, but only some extreme
interpretations of it: (013)
If we handle our concepts responsibly, we can avoid metaphysical
perplexities. Feigl [26, p50-51] (014)
... simplicity contributes to such important systemic features as
theoretical unity and explanatory power. It therefore ultimately
contributes to the amount of understanding yilded by the system as
well as, perhaps, to its pragmatic value. Poland [12, p30] (015)
Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler. Albert Einstein
[46, p121] (016)
As regards the form of our enquiry, certainty and clearness are two
essential requirements, rightly to be exacted from anyone who ventures
upon so delicate an undertaking. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure
Reason, introduction to the 1st edition. (017)
 Jeffrey Poland. Physicalism: The Philosophical Foundations.
Oxford University Press, 2001. (019)
 Ernst Mach, The Guiding Principles of My Scientific Theory of
Knowledge and Its Reception by My Contemporaries. In Stephen Toulmin
(ed.) Physical Reality, Harper Torchbooks, 1970. (020)
 Max Planck, The Unity of the Physical World-Picture. In Stephen
Toulmin (ed.) Physical Reality}, Harper Torchbooks, 1970. (021)
 Herbert Feigl. Existential hypotheses: Realistic versus
phenomenalistic interpretations. Philosophy of Science, 17:35–62, 1950. (022)
 Herbert Feigl. No Pot of Message. In Robert S. Cohen (ed.),
Herbert Feigl, Inquiries and Provocations: Selected Writings
1929-1974, Dodrecht: Reidel, 1981. (023)
 Paul J. Steinhardt and Neil Turok. Endless Universe. Doubleday, 2007. (024)
Lainaus "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>: (025)
> On 7/12/2011 12:03 PM, Chris Partridge wrote:
>> I quite like my virus, it's your virus that I am worried about :-).
> You can justify your virus by citing a number of highly regarded
> philosophers from whom you downloaded it.
> But there are three fundamental problems, for which those philosophers
> have no answers -- and no prospect of finding an answer:
> 1. Any value judgments in ethics or aesthetics. The philosophers
> who have the disease will admit the principle that "You can't
> derive 'ought' from 'is'." -- i.e., no objective observation
> of what exists can produce any evidence for or against any value
> judgment. Carnap was one of them. His worst denunciation for
> anybody who talked about such issues was "That's poetry!"
> 2. Hume correctly observed that no observation, by itself, can
> justify causality. Ernst Mach emphasized that point. He claimed
> that scientific theories are merely "summaries of observations".
> Unfortunately, Carnap agreed with him.
> 3. And the third point is intentionality. As you may have noticed,
> this thread (and others in this forum) have generated endless
> confusion about this and many related issues.
> For the moment, I'll ignore ethics and aesthetics. But scientific
> laws are essential to everything in science and engineering, and
> intentionality is fundamental to business, finance, and life.
> For scientific laws, Mach fought against the hypothesis of unobservable
> atoms. He made life miserable for his fellow Viennese Ludwig Boltzmann,
> who used the atomic hypothesis as the foundation for his brilliant
> statistical mechanics. In 1905, Boltzmann and his family took a
> summer vacation in Italy, after which Boltzmann committed suicide
> rather than return to Vienna to face Mach and his followers.
> Mach also infected the Vienna Circlers, including Carnap, and through
> them the behaviorists. They destroyed psychology in the first half
> of the 20th century. Einstein's three brilliant papers of 1905
> violated every one of Mach's principles -- and thereby saved physics.
> Einstein called Mach "a good experimental physicist" but "a miserable
> philosopher". He also deplored the "Angst vor der Metaphysik" by
> Russell and the Vienna circle, which he correctly called a sickness
> (Krankheit) of the 20th century.
> Peirce and Popper had the answer to Mach: observation alone cannot
> demonstrate causality. Instead, any hypothesis formed on the basis
> of "post hoc" observations (i.e. data mining) must be tested by its
> ability to make predictions. The power to make correct predictions
> is the criterion that distinguishes a law from a mere coincidence.
> Popper had visited the Vienna Circlers a few times, but Carnap refused
> to let him join the group -- because Popper was rightly critical of
> their claim that a scientific law is nothing but a summary of
> If you want to see the ultimate poverty of Carnap's method, just look
> at his _Logische Aufbau der Welt_. I'll quote from the English
> translation of the second edition (1967). Part IV, chapters A, B,
> and C are the central developments. Carnap begins in chapter A
> with lots of logical formulas for relating sense data. In chapter B,
> he gets to the construction of physical objects, and he has much
> less detail as things get harder. Chapter C on "heteropsychological
> and cultural objects" is pure hand waving with no attempt to use logic.
> On p. 217 Carnap admits that "The construction of the [sign relation]
> is more difficult than any of the constructions which we have hitherto
> undertaken." On page 218, he says "We can barely hint at the rules..."
> In other words, he gave up.
> If somebody as brilliant as Carnap failed to provide an extensional
> definition of signs, contracts, etc., that means it's really hard.
> Quine's student Nelson Goodman also tried and failed.
> One of our friends, Barry Smith, attempted to do that. Following
> is an excerpt from a note I sent to Ontolog Forum in January about
> a debate between Smith and Searle.
> Short summary: Smith wasn't any more successful than Carnap.
> Searle, however, used triadic relations similar to Peirce's.
> He wasn't applying Peirce's semiotics, but he had an approach
> that could be mapped to CSP's methods. In my opinion, Searle
> was far more successful than Carnap or Smith or many other
> people who attempted to develop purely extensional theories
> of intensionality and related issues.
> Note that Smith's criticism of Searle is that he needed to
> state his arguments more precisely. I agree. If Searle had
> studied Peirce, he would have had a solid foundation for
> presenting his arguments more clearly and precisely.
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Modeling a money transferring scenario
> From: John F. Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Date: Jan 11 2011 - 1:35pm
> Since Searle was mentioned earlier in this thread, following
> is a debate between Barry Smith and John Searle about "The
> Construction of Social Reality":
> And following is a passage from an article in which I discuss
> both of their positions from a Peircean point of view (which
> is a generalization that subsumes Searle's as a special case).
> Source: http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/worlds.pdf (pp. 7-8)
> 3. Semiotic Foundations
> Tarski semantics for first-order logic depends on a dyadic
> correspondence between some pattern of symbols stated in a formal
> language and some pattern of objects and relations that exist in a
> model. Such correspondences can answer several important kinds of
> questions about an object, an event, or a situation: What is it? What
> are its properties? What is it made of? And how is it related to other
> But there's one kind of question that no amount of observation can
> answer with certainty: those that begin with the word 'why'. For modal
> logic, no observations can explain why some pattern in the world might
> be necessary, possible, or impossible. For the behavior of humans and
> other animals, no observation can explain why they happen to perform one
> action rather than another. A thoughtful observer might be able to guess
> the reasons for their actions based on an analogy with his or her own
> experience, but the intentions themselves are not directly observable.
> Since humans can talk, the best way to determine their intentions is not
> to observe and classify worlds or situations, but just to ask them. But
> to take that option is an admission that Carnap's attempt to reduce
> mental phenomena to observable data about behavior has failed.
> Among the philosophers who believe that Carnap's approach was a dead
> end, Searle (1983) claimed that the semantics of natural language, at
> least for language about anything dealing with intentionality, depends
> critically on the nature of the mind:
>> The capacity of speech acts to represent objects and states
>> of affairs in the world is an extension of the more biologically
>> fundamental capacities of the mind (or brain) to relate the
>> organism to the world by way of such mental states as belief
>> and desire, and especially through action and perception.
>> Since speech acts are a type of human action, and since the
>> capacity of speech to represent objects and states of affairs
>> is part of a more general capacity of the mind to relate the
>> organism to the world, any complete account of speech and
>> language requires an account of how the mind/brain relates
>> the organism to reality. (p. vii)
> In the concluding chapter, Searle claimed "there really are such things
> as intrinsic mental phenomena which cannot be reduced to something else
> or be eliminated by some kind of re-definition. There really are pains,
> tickles, and itches, beliefs, fears, hopes, desires, perceptual
> experiences, experiences of acting, thoughts, feelings, and all the
> rest" (p. 262). In the middle of the book, Searle formalized some of the
> discussion in formulas of the following kind, where p represents a
> proposition that describes some action or state (p. 32):
> Sorry(p) → Bel(p) & Des(~p).
> This formula says that if some person x is sorry for the state of
> affairs described by p, then x believes p and x desires that p not be
> true. Since Searle claimed that mental attitudes such as sorrow, belief,
> and desire actually exist, each of his monadic predicates could be
> expanded to a triadic relation named Experience, which explicitly
> relates the agent to the attitude and the proposition:
> Sorry(p) → (∃x:Person)(∃y:Sorrow)Experience(x,y,p).
> Bel(p) → (∃x:Person)(∃y:Belief)Experience(x,y,p).
> Des(p) → (∃x:Person)(∃y:Desire)Experience(x,y,p).
> The first formula says that the predicate Sorry about p implies the
> existence of a person x and an instance of sorrow y, which x experiences
> about p. Similarly, the second and third formulas relate the predicates
> Bel and Des to instances of belief and desire, which x experiences about
> p. In a later book, Searle (1995) was more explicit in using triadic
> relations to describe social relations. All his triads had the form
> X counts as Y in context C.
> Searle's implicit or explicit triads for describing intentions are
> incompatible with Smith's attempt to avoid any commitment to mental
> phenomena. In a public debate (Smith & Searle 2001), Smith tried to
> interpret Searle's constructions in terms of his own ontology, which
> does not admit the existence of intentions. Searle replied
>> I think in the end he makes many useful points, but I also
>> believe that he misunderstands me in certain very profound ways.
>> I believe his misunderstandings derive from the fact that he
>> approaches this topic with a set of concerns that are fundamentally
>> different from mine, and in consequence, he tends to take my views
>> as attempts to answer his questions rather than attempts to answer
>> my questions.
> Searle recognized that relations that refer to intentions have greater
> power and flexibility than Smith's partOf relation. Smith criticized
> that flexibility as too loose and imprecise and noted that a context
> itself is a social object that requires some independent definition.
> Both authors made valid points: Searle's book demonstrates the
> fundamental role of intentions in creating and sustaining social
> relationships, but Smith's criticism shows the need for clear
> distinctions and greater precision.
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