Freitag, 3. Februar 2012

Critical thinking






'Nothing comes from Nothing. Nothing ever could.'




This is probably one of the crucial foundations of rationality. Any complex idea can be critically questioned by asking what are its fundamental assumptions and axioms. This allows one to understand the hierarchy of concepts that build and hold a structure upright. Not everything can be valid under all circumstances. It is the process of applying thought to understand the conditions under which validity is preserved and the order of magnitude of the propagation of the importance of "hierarchically simpler" (fundamental) ideas i.e. which ideas are more or less important under different conditions of validity, is what can be called critical thinking.

The warning against linguistic confusion.









In the essay dedicated to the discussion of reality, it was put forth that reality is a combination of two concepts (the later dependent on the first): Facts and Models. Models use symbols/words derived from reality in some simple or complex way (which would be a discussion for another essay). These models are used to describe reality in turn. This as you can see is a feedback loop. A separate assay of this connection will made in a later article.

For now consider the following situation.

You posses a set of symbols derived from reality; meaning that each of them is associated to some facet of reality (however complex). That facet could be an object, a phenomenon, an expectation or a consequence that has not yet occurred (prediction) etc. You NOW encounter another facet of reality, that you have notdescribed previously (so its allowed to have been encountered earlier). How do you describe it? If this phenomenon is really just a part of your sentence space from your pre-existing model, then its sufficient description can be made with reasonable accuracy (within some acceptable limits of error). This means that it is made up (is a combination of) of facets that you have already described accurately earlier. But if the facet contains some hidden part/s which has not been previously incorporated into your lexicon (set of symbols) and you still insist upon using the same old lexicon, you' are going to end up misrepresenting it.

This is what it actually means:

You encounter a facet called: A
You describe it with a sentence with the exact meaning of A' because you lack the exact symbols to describe A.

Since A != A' , your mind essentially 'lies' to you strengthening the association between A and A' .

Now, unless the sentence is corrected for with new additions into the lexicon, all description of A as well as predictions incorporating A in some form are flawed. They are probably a good approximation of A. BUT. If the system is chaotic enough, they are flawed beyond any acceptable limit of error, as you build more and more complex ideas built on A' .

Now, apply this to Colloquial language.

When you encounter an emotion or event that you or nobody else described correctly, you automatically inherit all the errors of the description people made earlier when you use the ancient symbols (words) used to describe it. Any analysis you make of the subject in hand is now useless and fantastical from sane point of view, if you describe some complex idea.

This is already happening even as we communicate. I leave it up to you realize which ideas are flawed in this manner.

So. The important but banal part.

What is the solution?

The solution as usual is the hardest one: Vigilance and self-examination of everything ab initio. Only this can garner you the honest confidence of being Consistent with a more Real model.

Donnerstag, 5. Januar 2012

Role of God/s as Moral Justifiers


Gods, as the explanations of awe-inspiring natural phenomena, is the usual means through which one analyses the concept. But beyond 'God the Creator', there exists a deeper and more important character associated with God/s that is often either overlooked or under-emphasized. That role is the natural justification of a system of morality.

Man can not rule Man:

The title here is the description of the phenomenon of anti-incumbency. As soon as a sufficiently rebellious person realizes that a given edict of law is simply a creation of Man (synthetic), he automatically decides that there is no particular reason he should be bound by it. The resultant is of course the emergence of factions that oppose the current set of laws governing the behavior of men. 

I have tried to consistently put forth that Morality is Normative in nature by definition; a well known but ill-understood fact. I'm hardly the only one to realize the result of the fact that 'Man cannot rule man' and the non-objective nature of Morality means that some inhuman, nay, superhuman entity must declare their support for edicts of man. This purpose is often served by gods. The religious texts i.e. the scriptures are exactly that: The divine Justifiers of laws of Mortal making. Any organization that creates such rules, at some point MUST run against this inevitable obstacle where they can NOT offer any explanation as to what makes their decisions and authority superior to those of other men. In an amazing act of literal self-less-ness they choose to preserve their creation over their name by ascribing the authorship of the text to Gods.

Now, this concept is a secondary trait of god, beyond their primary function as creators of Mortal worlds. But since His role in creation has LESS to do with mundane Mortal affairs than the regulation of everyday behavior, the secondary trait easily takes over as the chief function of the gods. A secondary function is NOT a function of less importance as language might lead you to believe but rather a function that depends on the primary. 

Montag, 5. Dezember 2011

Objective, Relative, Nomative and Subjective




These are the four concepts, I have always tried to classify ideas into. They hold a very clear meaning to me and have helped me a lot to think about problems in general. So I should perhaps have written this article quite a while ago. I did not, because of a characteristic fault of mine: Laziness.

So. Now that I do get to describe them, I first need to explain why they are necessary. If you read my earlier article about Reality, you'd realize that the only things that can be proved, are either direct natural facts or their consequences. Nothing else can really be proved. I choose to call that what can be proved, Physical Reality. Its a bit circular, but lets not get into the how of it for the present. An example I typically invoke is jumping down the Eiffel tower. It kills you contextually.

The question here really is about the means to the proof of phenomena.

There is a well behaved and well characterized process that describes the construction of proofs called the Scientific method. The structure of this method is well known. To ascribe the truth value to the explanation of a phenomenon, it utilizes previously determined truth values of other explanations to related underlying (fundamental) phenomena, going back to natural facts, that are typically axiomatic in nature. The idea is, that the methodology, once established yields the same results for everyone (as in every observer performing the same 'Experiment').

What needs to be noticed here in detail, is the actual arrangement of the process. It involves the following components:

  1. An observer
  2. An apparatus
  3. An event

The event is nothing but the phenomenon, the explanation to which is being sought. The apparatus is a construction that measures the relevant quantifiable aspects of the phenomenon, within some scope of error (which may or may not be the significant error of the apparatus itself). The Observer is the analyzer of the data with a fixed algorithm.

What the reader should now realize is that ALL the words in the Title, are ways to assign truth values.

The description above concerning the observer, apparatus and the event can be established for all of them. Its the construction of apparatus and the algorithm and the obtained result that differentiates between the the words in the title.

When all observers using the same Apparatus and the same algorithm get the same result, the construction is called Objective.

When two observers get two different results by observing the same phenomenon, there are two possible reasons why that might happen:

  1. The observers have different apparatus
  2. The observers have different algorithms

One can already see that there is no other way in a physical reality, to explain the difference in the results.

When such kind of differences occur, the construction of the value judgment is termed RELATIVE. It is an arguable fact that most people have Relative measures to assign truth values (although not typically in Science, where the algorithms tend to converge due to maximizing the convenience of the scientific pursuit; scientists are whales of convenience except when it comes to nomenclature).

Now, there are instances, where Observers have to decide, what action they must take. If they have a clear goal and exact information and a convenient framework built on Physical reality (no other framework is meaningful), all their actions are Objective because they will always get the same result.

The problem occurs when this information is insufficient. In which case they ASSUME that certain courses of action must be set, instead of being determined objectively. Value judgments resulting out of SET concepts are called Normative. But even more simply, the process of choosing the Goal itself is even more Normative than the means. Goals themselves can not have any Objective basis. So in principle all acts of choice are Normative in nature.
This, I must declare, is the MOST fundamental description of what Normative is. A Typical example is Morality. Of every kind. Morality is based on what observers decide (instead of determining) what they consider leads best to their goal and the goal itself.

Finally, the subjective.

In the original construction of the experiment (Observer, Apparatus and Event) if different observers get different results, simply by the virtue of being DIFFERENT observers, the value judgment they pass is called Subjective. This is the definition that is implicitly made at linguistic level.

Now to some healthy dose of criticism.

There can be no true subjectivity in a physical reality. All differences within observers are due to the fundamental APPARATUS: the brain. When people get different results from the same experiment, it usually means that they are not using the same algorithm which makes their decisions RELATIVE. But due to the complexity of the idea of self-recognition, it is mistakenly assumed to be subjective.

Sonntag, 16. Oktober 2011

Übermensch



I am not an Übermensch. 

I am saying this because I know what being an 'Übermensch' means.

It is not just a person but rather also a goal; to become a being who creates the 'reasons for a way of life' i.e a morality, from within himself. A man capable of such a feat thus automatically frees himself from the shackles of finding reasons from without. He is not misanthropic or at least not necessarily so. But rather he is not dependent upon what he believes to be intrusive to his motives. He is necessarily an introspective creature. For only that man, who sees his thoughts clearly can indeed know his nature. Only through identification can a change be brought to enhance facets of personality that strengthen one's character and mitigate those parts that weaken it.

So after this long prologue, a short answer awaits the question you might ask.

What am I really?

I am neither the Superman nor the slave.

I am the bridge.

I can not claim that I have identified myself, but I am working on it. Cliched , I know. But true. Very, very True.

Donnerstag, 13. Oktober 2011

Frameworks


**Not all things are done because they are new, but sometimes because they are necessary**

To design a framework for an objective judgement, we require a rigorous language, whose vocabulary is well defined and which has specific rules to form sentences or ideas. The necessity comes from the fact that the space of ideas is potentially infinite(since ideas are combinatorially countable infinites)  and complex and requires a form of  honest intellectual effort i.e. rigor. There are two mutually exclusive kinds of ideas: Expressed and Unexpressed. Observe carefully how this is not classified as Expressible and Non-expressible. 

Expressed ideas are based on words. Or more accurately terms. These terms are countably finite for humans and are directly related to empirical facts, in either simply linearly reducible or non-linearly reducible (additively or non-additively reducible) fashion. As we discover new empirical facts, we go on creating new terms and new ideas. This does not mean that idea-space of pre-existing terms is completely explored by us, but rather that discovery of new idea expands the potential  space of ideas. 

To define a few things, sentences are arrangement of words. Statements are that sub-space of sentences that have truth-values.

framework, is an ordered set of rules (statements), created to identify presence of certain features within an object. I would like to point out that these rules have special form: they are  functions which take the object in question as an argument and yield a truth value. A judgement is essentially an ordered n-tuple of truth-values obtained from this framework. 

Truth values of statements (rules) thus can be only assigned if these statements have a basis in reality. This is because of the definition of reality as something that can be tested in a particular way. If a statement has nocurrent basis in reality (since reality is dynamic) then these statements have no effect on frameworks that correspond to judgement of objects, as such existing within reality. Such statements can be termedmeaningless. The important assertion here, is that statements that can't be tested make no sense for being used for further exploration.  Such ideas, when and if allow further testing, can expand our knowledge of reality.

This is all the background information we need to make some powerful statements.

Within a given reality it is always possible to design frameworks to judge the content of real objects in a manner that is completely rigorous using a rigorous language assuming such a language exists (it does). Such frameworks are necessarily dynamic and change according to changes in reality. How? Change in reality adds words (terms) to this language or changes the grammatical form of the sentence in a well-behaved manner. The language used for such design purposes can potentially identify all possible future changes with some extra-ordinary human ingenuity. This is because reality is a subset of the sentence space of this language. 

This has some examples based in reality. But since I am not an expert on history, amongst not being an expert on a lot of other things, the following should not be taken as a rigorous exercise of knowledge.

During the transition from Medieval to renaissance era in the west, we see a drastic change in art-form, wheredivinity, pre-dominantly exhibited in different forms human expression as the ultimate proposition of beauty, is replaced with focus on the depth of material reality captured. I suppose, the reasons for such aparadigm shift was the discovery of new facts and thus a new reality and new words/terms. The changes brought about by science and technology, greatly destabilized the then established framework and created a new one. This resulted in generation of art forms more consistent with its message, that there was a world outside of humans which could be predicted and controlled, even if in a limited manner. The framework that judged their worth was the relation to the real world

Now we come to the human side of this article, which I will keep as short as possible, even if this is the reason that prompted its authoring. 

The only meaningful way of judging or qualifying an object is through a framework. Without a framework only 'intuitive' assignment is possible. The quotes around it are very relevant and are there to describe that intuition is also based in reality. It is simply a sentence without the intuitioner describing explicitly its reasoning. What does this say about Absurdist art, for example? It says that such a term essentially is meaningless and without grounding. 

Montag, 10. Oktober 2011

Criticism of Happiness as a motive


From what I read of Plato, Aristotle, Weber and Mill, it seems to me that they all assume one common attitude: that the ideal way of life is the one which maximizes the happiness of an individual or a society, depending on the kind of ideology these philosophers are proponents of. 

I believe and of course (as usual), not without reason, that this is the single most fatal mistake of philosophy. This one error bears responsibility for all the known previous ways of life leading  to a literal dead end. 

I will try to explain why.

The measure of the strength of a society is innovation. The more innovative it is, the more capacity it has to brush away the problem of continual expansion without out-consuming resources. The popular, Malthusian logic dictates a gloomy ending to any expansion but, such a dystopian future is avoided by equally powerful means of discovering new resources though the defining feature of mankind :

Technology. 

Technology (in association with science) allows us to keep up with the incremental population by exploring literally new horizons and producing paradigm shifts that can change not only the lifestyle but also the very fabric of social order. 

Such a successful and innovative society can not be a peaceful society. It must be plagued by the continuous wars of survival and competition of ideas and individuals vying with each other for superiority.  A man seeking happiness is a peaceful man. He does not have a fiery restlessness in his heart that makes him loose track of hunger and sleep, while solving a problem, but rather an empty coldness that seeks the warmth of the nearest hearth of solace. A man seeking happiness, is in effect a man seeking death. He seeks the means to become unproductive, to become safe and cosy. He seeks the means to end conflict. His world is static, spiraling towards a singularity that will become unsustainable. His values are peace and lack of ambition, that create a dying society with the comfort seeker its terminal man. 

The man who seeks knowledge, wealth or recognition, on the other hand, is a passionate being who brings with himself an unstoppable force of personality, that induces change unto himself and into the world. He struggles to find recognition for his ideas and fights for them, stolidly withstands ridicule and if correct and obstinate enough, finally triumphs. His world is a changing world. With every new thought he brings, he is a new iteration of his own self. This man is not really one fixed person but only a stepping stone for becoming someone better. This man is alive. He lives is a living world.


So. We come to the conclusions. 

Does this mean that happiness is wrong? That it is a mistaken drive, that makes us feel 'gladness'?


No!

All it means is that Happiness should not be an end-goal but just a by-product of other pursuits. Because as a by-product of victory it is a fuel. A fuel that feeds the unquenchable fire of ambition that burns in the hearts of men and leads them into new conquests.