Enlightenment about the illusory nature of reality.
Patrick Gardiner on Christopher Janaway,
Self and World in Schopenhauer's Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon),
TLS, September 22-28 1989, p.1034
"Schopenhauer followed Kant in drawing a
radical distinction between the world that confronts us in experience and
the world as it is `in itself'. The empirical or `phenomenal' world was a
product of the intellect working upon data supplied by sensation; it owed
its pervasive structure as a spatio-temporal and causally ordered domain to
a priori forms imposed by the human subject and as such was a world of
`appearances' or `representations', not of mind-transcendent entities or `noumena'."
"[Schopenhauer's] emphasis [was] upon the
manner in which individuals are directly aware of themselves as subjects,
not of knowledge, but of will."
critique of the intensionality of mind
Mind is. Let's assume that the being of
mind is linguistic. This entails that the only possible expression of mind
is linguistic. The linguistic nature of mind necessarily produces paradoxes.
Frege's distinctions between sense and reference and between concept and
object were means to sidestep these paradoxes. Russell it appears claimed
that the specification of mind are propositional attitudes. This primarily
involves a relation. Mind is relational: it is a relation between a
propositional attitude and a proposition. It is from these specifications
that we get propositional-attitude psychology. Propositional attitudes are
also a potential source of paradoxes. Extensional propositions are those to
which a yes or a no answer can be given. Intensionality implies ambiguity
and contradiction. To the extent that mind is specified thought
propositional attitudes, then mind is intensional.
Searle starts by denying the two-term or
relational nature of mind. The positing of prop-att's entails a self, or
else an unacceptable cleavage in the brain. But how can we distinguish
between the self and the thought that the self has? When I see this or I
think of that, there is no I different from the act of seeing or of
thinking. If this is what Searle means, this is what I also think and we are
in agreement. This is not to say that there is no self, but self is merely
the specificity of all thought.
Searle goes on. He argues that
representation necessarily requires an user. But an user, if it is a mental
thing, must also be a representation, and this in turn another
representation, and so on to infinite regress. But this is a repeat of the
above. I really see no reason why non-relational is incompatible with
representational. What we have in mind are specific representations. Unless
you want to make a heavy issue of it, representation, content, awareness,
etc., are approximately equivalent.
Searle argues further. These
representations are functions or processes, so each one implies another one.
Infinite regress is solved by Dennett through "whole armies of progressively
stupider homunculi". Searle considers the so-called intensionality of mind a
mirage. Intensionality refers to ambiguous propositions. Intensional
propositions are those which do not yield valid inferences when substituted
for the variables of logical forms. Intensional propositions do not license
certain logical substitutions. But Searle argues that the type of
proposotions which supposedly demonstrate the intensionality of mind are not
intensional at all but quite extensional.
Searle's argument is based on the
similarity between mental acts and speech acts. Representations are
propositions. Propositions are representations of reality. So-called
intensional propositions are representations of representations. Since
reality includes representations, then representations of representations
are representations of reality. And propositions which express
representations of representations are not intensional but extensional.
Since such propositions are what define the intensiinality of mind, mind is
not intensional but as extensional as the view of an outcrop. Extensional
criteria can be applied to the paradoxes that originate in the linguistic
expression of mind, i.e., mind/language paradoxes.
However, we have two quibbles. Searle
goes too far when he adds "The intentionality of certain mental states is
precisely the intentionality of speech acts...Intentionality is, so to
speak, a ground-floor property of the mind, not a logically complex feature
built up by combining simpler elements." The intentionality of mind is not
per se ground floor, and since it is the intentionality of mind that
makes possible the intentionality of speech acts, then we can hardly phrase
it the other way around. Extensionality is verifiability. But there is no
way that you can say that a statement of belief is verifiable and if it is
not verifiable it is not extensional. Take the Searle example. King Arthur
killed Sir Lancelot. Self-evidently this is a belief. But if you claim that
it is extensional because it reflects an actual belief you are yourself
making another statement of belief, for you cannot know that someone
actually believes that, so we fall into a really, really unsolvable infinite
regress. Assuming I am not lying, I believe that KA killed SL is true
enough. But that he believes that KA killed SL cannot be verified at all and
is not extensional. This is actually what I call the awareness paradox. What
I or anyone believes is true even if it is false. Every proposition, be it
linguistic or mental, has two references: it refers to its meaning and it
refers to itself. Its meaning is either true or false or probable. But its
reference to itself is necessarily true. It is undeniable that I or you or
she or he can believe that KA killed SL and such a claim cannot be
controverted in any way shape or form.
John R. Searle, Intentionality: An
essay in the philosophy of mind (1983)
"Intensionality is a property of a
certain class of sentences, statements, and other linguistic entities...A
sentence such as `John believes that King Arthur slew Sir Lancelot' is
usually said to be intensional because it...does not permit substitutability
of expressions with the same reference, salva veritate...since the
sentence...is used to make a statement about an intentional state...then the
statement is a representation of a representation; and therefore, the truth
conditions of the statement will depend on the features of the
representation being represented, in this case the features of John's
belief, and not on the features of the objects or state of affairs
represented by John's belief ...Intentionality is that property of mind
(brain) by which it is able to represent other things; intensionality is the
failure of certain sentences, statements, etc., to satisfy certain logical
tests for extensionality.
"The belief that there is something
inherently intensional about intentionality derives from a mistake which is
apparently endemic to the methods of linguistic philosophy--confusion of
features of reports with features of the things reported. Reports of
intentional states are characteristically intensional reports. But it does
not follow from this, nor is it in general the case, that intentional states
are themselves intensional. The report [above]...is indeed an intensional
report, but John's belief itself is not intensional...The intensionality of
statements about intentionality derives from the fact that such statements
are representations of representation. But since intentional states are
representations, there is nothing to prevent there being intentional states
that are also representations of representations, and thus such states would
share the feature of intensionality that is possessed by the corresponding
sentences and statements. For example, just as my statement that John
believes that King Arthur slew Sir Lancelot is intensional because the
statement is a representation of John's belief, so my belief that John
believes that KA slew SL is an intensional mental state because it is an
Intentional state which is a representation of John's belief, and thus its
satisfaction conditions depend on features of the representation being
represented and not on the things represented by the original
representation. But of course from the fact that my belief about John's
belief is an intensional belief it does not follow that John's belief is an
intensional belief...his belief is extensional; my belief about his belief
"So far I have tried to explain the
intentionality of mental states by appealing to our understanding of speech
acts. But of course the feature of speech acts that I have been appealing to
is precisely their representative properties, that is to say, their
intentionality. So the notion of intentionality applies equally well both to
mental states and to linguistic entities such as speech acts and sentences,
not to mention maps, diagrams, laundry lists, pictures, and a host of other
"And it is for this reason that the
explanation of intentionality offered in this chapter is not a logical
analysis in the sense of giving necessary and sufficient conditions in terms
of simpler notions. If we tried to treat the explanation as an analysis it
would be hopelessly circular since the feature of speech acts that I have
been using to explain the intentionality of certain mental states is
precisely the intentionality of speech acts. In my view it is not possible
to give a logical analysis of the intentionality of the mental in terms of
simpler notions, since intentionality is, so to speak, a ground floor
property of the mind, not a logically complex feature built up by combining
simpler elements. There is no neutral standpoint from which we can survey
the relations between intentional states and the world and then describe
them in non-intentionalistic terms. Any explanation of intentionality,
therefore, takes place within the circle of intentional concepts. My
strategy has been to use our understanding of how speech acts work to
explain how the intentionality of the mental works..."
In general, this is a commonsensical
approach to intensionality. However, there are certain points that would
benefit from some clarification. The intentionality of speech acts per se is
difficult to accept, but this is one of the foundational propositions of
English language-acts philosophy. A laundry list is no more intentional than
my knowledge of a laundry list. I can make the same commonsensical
statements about intensionality from a theory of knowledge that does not
require speech acts of any kind whatsoever. Of course, it is a theory that
starts from the equation between, say, perception and knowledge: I know what
I perceive, this is knowledge. If such is the case, then whatever belief I
have is knowledge as belief, although it is not knowledge, or at least, I
cannot prove that it is knowledge, from the fact that it is my belief.
Finally, it may be possible to find some
adequate meaning for the proposition that "mind is intensional", in the
sense that the contents of mind are propositions and the qualification of
propositions within mind, that is, by mind itself, is not subject to the
same criterion for all propositions. When the criterion is probability or
justification, rather than logic or predictability, then belief is
intensional. Therefore, to the extent that we can have intensional beliefs,
mind is intensional, although this is not to say that it is intensional
always, or even that it is intrinsically intensional or any such stronger
Mind is meaningful. This is awareness.
Searle calls it intentionality. Intentionality is the direction or aboutness
of mental statements about objects or states of affair. However, forms of
elation or nervousness are not intentional. Beliefs, fears, hopes, and
desires are intentional. Speech acts represent and are intentional, but
since infants and animals can "want" and wanting is intentional
intentionality is not limited to speech acts. Intentionality is then not
necessarily linguistic, but language is an heuristic device which explains
intentionality even though intentionality underlies language.
Mind and language are meaningful. There
is a relation of codependence between mind and language. But this does not
mean that mind is intentional. The so-called intentnsionality of mind merely
means that statements of belief are representations of representations annd
representations of representations as representations of parts of reality
Anthony Gottlieb on John R. Searle,
The Rediscovery of Mind (in NYTBR, March or April 1993)
Searle created the Chinese room argument
in 1980. In fact, it is implicit in Leibnitz. A computer can respond Chinese
questions in perfect Chinese. Put a brain in that does not know Chinese as
the program executor and you can argue that a computer can never do as an
explanation of mind. A mind would have to understand in order to do what the
machine is doing without knowing.
"According to Mr. Searle there is no
computer in the head, only a brain whose neurophysical activities cause
conscious mental states...It follows...that the way to understand the mind
is to look at the neurophysiology of the brain and at consciousness...The
gut is not literally sensing the chemical composition of food...it is not
processing information...it is processing food by applying enzymes...The
brain, according to Mr. Searle, does not process information unconsciously
any more than the gut does. [Actually, what Gottlieb means is that neither
process information but do other processes]...It too is a physical organ
whose workings should be explained in terms of real physical causes, not in
terms of imaginary computational rule-following...To say that a persona
manages to perceive the three-dimensional features of solid objects, when he
has only the two-dimensional images of his retina to go on, because his
brain performs various computations on the retinal image by following rules
is to introduce a...useless and misleading explanation...Who is performing
these computations? Who is the user of this computer? Nothing in the
neurophysiology of the brain...corresponds to this phantom user..." Roughly,
brain and liver are in the same category. If liver is not a cognitive
process, if mind is brain, then mind is not a cognitive process.
Stephen P. Stich on John R. Searle,
The Rediscovery Of Mind (MIT) in the TLS March 5 1993
"Cognitive science is an
interdisciplinary approach to the study of the mind that emerged in the
"At about the same time, Noam Chomsky was
revolutionizing linguistics by producing grammars for natural languages that
were as formal and explicit as the grammars logicians constructed for
artificial languages. Indeed, Chomsky's grammars were so explcit that they
could be programmed on to a computer. Chomsky went on to argue that our
linguistic skills are best explained if we suppose that we have tacit or
unconscious knowledge of one of those program-like grammars."
"Thus if some other complex system, like
a giant electronic computer, executes the program that your brain is
executing, it will have the same mental states that you are having. If this
is right, then there is a sense in which biological brains are largely
irrelevant to the study of the mind."
"The brain has two kinds of
properties--the subjective and the objective; the objective properties cause
the subjective ones, though the subjective effects are quite distinct from
their objective causes; consciousness can't be reduced to physical states of
the brain, or to behavoural dispositions, or anything else. This all sounds
like the doctrine that philosophers call `property dualism'."
"The mental state of consciousness is
just an ordinary biological, that is, physical, feature of the brain."
"Consider, for example, the problem of
other minds. I know that I am conscious. But since we `normally think' of
conscious states as `inner, private, subjective, qualitative phenomena of
sentience or awareness', what reason do I have for thinking that you are
conscious? And if you aren't how could I ever come to know it?"
"`The notion of an unconscious mental
state implies accessibility to consciousness. We have no notion of the
unconscious except as that which is potentially conscious.' If we accept
this principle. then a lot of cognitive science is in deep trouble. For it
is plausible to suppose that the unconscious grammatical rules posited by
Chomsky, and the unconscious mental and computational states posited in many
other cognitive theories, are not accessible to consciousness."
Science is knowledge as necessary inference.
However, induction, which supposedly is the method of science, does not necessarily involve necessary inference. Is there a self?
This can be answered intuitively in the affirmative.
physical or something else? If self were physical, then the piece of keratin I scrape off the ball of my foot would be more self than my memory of Verrazano bridge from the Brooklyn side, which is obviously absurd. But this is the denial of a thesis and we still need to explain what self is. The big obstacle is the Hume observation, accepted by Kant, that when we "introspect" we do not find self but specific experiences, and self per definiens is not specific in respect to itself. As a self I cannot find myself in specific experiences, i.e., I am definitely not this perception I have of a blue wall and framed testimonials hanging from it. If I must find myself as a self, it must be in the totality of my experiences. The only possible solution to this problem is that every experience that we have, which is perforce specific, must have the imprint of the self. Since our experiences are propositions, this imprint of the self must also be propositional, and since the the point is to make specific experiences belong to self, the proposition in question must be something to the effect: "this proposition belongs to me". Every experience comes into being with the predicate of belonging to someone. Beyond such a postulation, there can be no other possibility of self, for even an idea that we may entertain about some personal trait, however much it is based on the multiplicity of experience, will still be a specific experience, hence a denial of the general concept of self.
Every experience is specific.
The sum of specific experiences which constitute a self means that every
self is specific.
When does the specificity of self begin?
The specificity of self is ultimately based on the physicality of mind. The principle of the indiscernbility of identicals precludes that any physical phenomenon could be identical to another. Consequently, the specificity of self begins with the embryo, so to speak. With autonomous existence, it becomes the specificity of sensation.
And of course whatever is built on specifics must also be specific, so that if sensations are specific, so must perceptions be specific.
We claimed that self is the proposition that every mental token belongs to a self. This is what is called ascription. But if the specificity of experience in itself entails the belonginness of experience, then the experiences of the specific self do not necessitate the proposition of ascription. When I have an experience we do not need to have it accompanied by the proposition that it belongs to me. Since it is a specific proposition, it cannot but be my specific proposition. Nothing specific can be shared. Specificity in sum entails ascription. If it were possible to extrude thoughts or experiences, there would only be one claimant for each thought and experience. Therefore, if we claim that the self is specific, we mean that all its propositions are specific and we do not need to postulate an ascriptive proposition. It is only in theory of knowledge and in relation to the so-called object-self that we have an ascription problem and that we need an ascriptive proposition. However, this problem comes up only sporadically.
~We can do theory of knowledge without having to be constantly referring to the self
Finally, when we considered mental propositions we distinguished between bases and contents. In bases we included propositional attitudes, ascription, and cognitive processes
~But if we posit that that all propositions are specific, we hardly need ascription. Since propositional bases are propositions about all propositions, we could claim that the proposition that all propositions are specific is part of propositional bases, i.e., it is a necessarily true statement. Of course, not all propositions about propositions are necessarily true. Where do we draw a circle about propositional bases? How can we go in saying that propositional bases are necessarily true? One likely answer is that propositional bases are limited exclusively to propositional attitudes.
The self cannot be empty. It is at least constituted by propositions about itself. Assuming the emptiness of self, time would wipe it out forthwith. But the self surely is not time. If it is not empty and it is not time, then the self has minimally to be itself, and more precisely, to be about itself. The aboutness of self to itself can only be grasped propositionally. The propositions of self about itself cannot be attributed to other selves. The temporality of the self means that the propositions of the selF are about its own past. Additionally, we know intuitively the self is constituted by propositions about itself. Finally, feelings about our past in essence means that we cannot shed the propositions of self about itself, even if we wanted to. There is in sum no ascription problem.
Now, given the
specificity of self, must we not also conclude that intuitive logic is specific?
And how can we reconcile specific experiences with sortals? We know from experience that it is possible to have formal logic and laws of nature, which is empirical proof that despite the specificity of self general knowledge is possible. This has to mean that, however specific our experiences, the axioms and principles that notionally conform intuitive logic cannot be specific. Or at most can only be specific to a degree that does not interfere with the nomological transformation of propositions. And if logical principles are compatible with specific experiences, in fact, apply to specific experiences, then we should have no problem in accepting that that it is possible to reconcile sortals and specifics, for logic includes both the principles of specification and generalization.
Are basic-cog's specific?
They have to be! If nervous systems are specific, then senations, which are in themselves basic-cog's, must be specific, and if sensations are specific, then acts of perception are specific and they entail specific basic-cog's of perception. It is just a matter of how far it is possible for tokens to stay from type without breaking away. Even machines are specific as we all know from the occasional lemon among cars of exactly the same make and model. However, although it may not be impossible to deduce general principles from the study of sepcific self, in the specification of a theory of knowledge it is convenient, perhaps necessary, to posit from the start the possibility of an object-self, even if in so doing we know we are entertaining a fiction. What is the object-self so posited? It is the affirmation of the belief that it is possible to derive general principles about knowledge from the study of the specificity of experience. It is also from specificity to give an viable account of the ascription of propositions.
suggests the absence of subjectivity. However, in my argumentation the phrase refers rather to cognitive processes Specific self on the other hand although suggestive of subjectivity refers to the reality of self. The object-self is an idealization. Specific self is what every individual has. No one is ever an object-self, although everyone can, with a little effort and a little honesty, recognize that all individual cognitive processes are flawed.
Basically, there is perception and the act
of perceiving. Perception is basic and universal. The act of perceiving is
proper to each specific self.
Self, short history of
This will be a very succinct summary. Through most of Western philosophy self has been assumed. What was this assumption? Basically, a self-conscious agent who could see, speak, move, and so on, and who had a past exclusive to itself to which it kept adding each instant of life and who tended to think and act in a manner consistent with that past. This self was manifest as a specific human body. But the self was different from each specific event in his mind and from each specific motion of his body. This was the self made explicit in Descartes cogito , but it was implicit in nearly if not in all thought, philosophical or otherwise. In fact, it was embedded in all languages in the form of the first-person singular nominative or active pronoun.
Hume tried to find this self all he found were specific moments but nothing like the assumed entity we have just described. He assumed that the self existed but merely for the sake of convenience without any logical or necessary reality to it at all. Of course, Hume was the sort of doubting Thomas who would be willing to destroy any reasonable belief without putting anything substantive in its place, and Kant was not about to let him get away with that, so, without accepting all the assumptions of the traditional notion of self, he tried to give back to it something more than the bundly existence that Hume was willing to concede. Self in Kant's usual imperative way of thinking had to be, just as ethics had to be, even if there were no empirical or even analytic reasons for its existence.
Whatever the philosophers said about self, it became incorporated into the 19th century model of psychology.
Brentano, who was both philosopher and psychologist, had no trouble accepting the traditional concept of self and in addition he attributed to all thoughts the quality of being acts that were carried out by this conscious self. The self not only willed walking and turning the head to see this or that but it also willed whatever came into his mind and all its acts of willing were tantamount to giving meaning to all that existed in the world. In other words, he argued that the self was intentional and that it was from the intentionality of the self that meaning came into the world.
There the matter stood until
Frege came along. He did not actually deny self. He simply did not bother with it. He could not do entirely without introspection, but he tried to keep to a minimum the possible entanglements of philosophy with psychology.
Russell tried to follow in the footsteps of Frege, only he realized that it was not possible to simply turn a blind eye to self, but in lieu of the traditional concept he came up with something called
"propositional attitudes". These were in line with his logico-linguistic turn-of-mind expressions such as: "I hope", "I wish", "I desire", even "I think", and others. The self then was reduced to these propositions which were quite distinct from the rest of the propositions which were not about the self but about reality, presumably including propositional attitudes themselves.
Wittgenstein was not as tradition-minded and tolerant as Frege and Russell and he simply denied validity to all propositions about psychology itself, which evidently had to mean that he could have no truck with the self. What did he put in its place? Basically the concept of ascription: that all propositions could be attributed to one individual or another. Self was remitted to the lowly concept of ascription and therein of course lay many potential debates which of course would never have come up under the aegis of the traditional concept of self. But by then the entire structure to which this concept belonged was being questioned and criticized and discredited and finally given the disdainful description of folk-psychology.
The work of Wittgenstein was the culmination of the "first analytical philosophy of mind", which was really a denial of psychology and its substitution with philosophy of language. But within the analytical tendency itself there was a reaction against the extreme linguistic position taken by Wittgenstein and this is what we call the second analytical philosophy of mind. The source of this reaction was psychological cognitivism and computational functionalism. Psychology necessarily included the traditional concept of self. But the impersonality of functionalism required ascription. The philosophical thought that emerged from these tendencies also went back to the self as propositional attitudes.
The analytical criticism of the traditional self-concept is partly based on its elusiveness and perhaps also its opacity. Are propositional attitudes, however, an adequate substitute? Can propositional attitudes account for the contents and the explicative value of self? And worse still, what is it that determines propositional attitudes? Is it the propositions which are its objects? But we know that they are not
necessarily valid. Hence, they are determined from another source and this means that propositional attitudes require something very much like the traditional self of psychology.
Dennet has come up with a theory in which the self is non-existent. It is what you get at any specific moment if you slice open a person's brain. This is going back to Hume. The self in addition is just a lot of homuncules acting in concert. But what about personality? The sum of the homuncules? The quirks of the cognitive process? I think Dennett is given to denying without affirming.
My theory of self is the only acceptable solution. We know from the indiscernibility of identicals that all nervous systems are different and that all data that we receive in mind are specific. But we in fact do not need this argument. From birth each human being starts realizing that he is specific in every possible way with respect to every other human beings. The awareness of one's specificity, even in the toddler stage, e.g., when they clash or in any way come into a comparison relation, is the beginning and the development of self. As the individual develops, the accumulation of specific experiences in memory continues giving form to the specificity of self. There is no way that what I experience and what I have in memory, given the specificities of all my mental contents, can be anything but mine. And this sense of
"mineness" from the specificity of experience is the only self that we have.
This self is not the agent that decided and that did this and that. This self is not the sum of my propositional attitudes. Even a thought I do not believe in is specific and mine. This self is my reality. The functions of which I am capable, i.e., my basic-cog's, I am capable
of in a specific way, so that they are my functions, even though the form of basic-cog's does not vary from individual to individual. But there is no self using basic-cog's, i.e., perceiving, deciding, talking, seeing, and so on, different from the specific ways in which these functions are accomplished.
Everything is specific. The specific self entails self-love. Self-love does not discriminate between the contents of the specific-self. It is possible for self-love to embrace self-loathing.
The meaning of words has various
references: (1) simple reference (objects); (2) "complex" reference (events, actions, concepts, etc.); (3) self-reference.
There are various
forms of self-reference:
--definition of terms
--mention (the word "short" has five letters).
The words in a public language have their corresponding mental squiggles. The squiggles too must then include simple reference, complex reference, and self-reference. We can do all these operations in the system of squiggles.
Let us assume that a proposition such as "being is being" is self-validating. What this implies is that there is no way to define being except in terms of different cognates of the word being itself. The definition of being can be made to seem infinitely tautological. In terms of being, there is no difference at all between a truth and a falsehood. To say "being is being" all we need to know is the use of language and this is as close as we can get to self-validation. It is not exactly either conventionalism or analyticity, because there is no question here of lexicology or of synonymy. In fact, the circular definition of being is a concept rather than a relation, linguistic or otherwise, and it could remain strictly conceptual except for the propositional character of concepts. The least possible manifestation of the concept of being is the sentence "being is", and this places us again squarely in the field of language, which is where so-called self-validation starts running on empty, because the use of language entails fundamental rules different from all the propositions that they validate or make possible. It may be that basic cognitive propositions such as those involved in language-learning and language-use are valid without reference to any prior justification and without recourse to proof or demonstration, but this is not at issue here, and it is easy to understand that reference to words is like reference to any other reality in that it entails interactive cognitive processes whose yields are anything but self-validating.
Semantic means meaningful. Semantics is theory of meaning. Since meaning is logical, semantic also means logical. Although semantics should not substitute for logic itself, in some philosophers, e.g., Wittgenstein, language is meaningful and there is no distinction between the logical and the linguistic. Semantic and mind being meaningful, semantic is representational. Semantical analysis is the process for discovering how mind grasps meaning. Apparently Wiitgenstein was satisfied with accepting our ability to use language as the bottom-line, non-reducible specification of meaning.
In brief, signs are "read". Symbols can be "read" but also they have a conventional meaning which is not "readable" but associative.
What is semiotics?
What is the difference between a sign and a symbol?
Why do we speak in modern theory of mind of a mental language of symbols and not of a mental language of signs?
Ultimately, it may be that there is no difference.
But still semiotics exists and we have to see what impact if any it can have on the theories of knowledge and of mind.
One simple but perhaps sufficient distinction is that signs "point to" and are "read" for meaning whereas symbols can mean in themselves but always have a conventional reference. Symbols stand for and are associative and "arbitrary". In this sense, letters and words are symbols. Signs are logical and analogical. Symbols can be logical, i.e., a symbol can be based on a logical relation, but signs must be logical. Street and road signs, e.g., are made to logical standards. In maps, different colours and shapes indicate different jurisdictions over the construction and maintenance of highways. They are symbols.
If words are symbols, propositions signify and are signs. They certainly do not symbolize anything, although they stand for symbolical mental processes. Hence, it can be said that the grammar of symbols produces significations in the form of propositions.
Sometimes symbols mean types or sortals whereas signs indicate tokens or particulars.
And ultimately, i.e., in lexicography, signs and symbols are nearly indistinguishable, but we cannot have this in philosophy.
Meaning is signification. Meaning is dependent on signs. Signs are necessarily meaningful. Signs signify and signs constitute systems to signify. Semiotics is the study of the different systems of signs. Since language is considered to be the master system, then semiotics can be defined as the study of language as a system of signs. But since semiotics is not strictly speaking grammar, then inescapably semiotics is in practice about different manners of interpreting linguistic expression. This will be seen more clearly in the history of semiotics, which follows in schematic form.
Having distinguished, or not distinguished, between sign and symbols, let us return to the fundamental question of what is semiotics?
In one important sense semiotics is the history of thought on signs, i.e., the history of the meaning of signs and of signification.
We base this outline on D.S. Clarke,
Principles of semiotic (1987)
Philosophy of language concerns the necessary traits of all languages. This can be considered to be the basis of the idea that what all languages have in common in the expression of mind. Linguistics is about the contingencies of languages. If the subject/predicate relation is a fundamental issue in philosophy of language, conjugational forms are a theme in linguistics. Semiotics is about language in the sense that language is the archetype of all systems of language. Since semiotics considers mental events to be signs, it is implicitly a theory of representation.
Aristotle, words were arbitrary symbols. Language and mind were related, but he did not claim that words were evidence for mental events. Historically the sign (in Greek semeion ) was first given philosophical importance in Sextus Empiricus.
Signs were un-observables that entered into logical operations in mind. His influence on the Epicureans yielded the definition of signs as sensible particulars. These licensed inferences from associative signs, e.g., smoke and fire.
Augustine was partial to the idea that signs were natural, non-intentional particulars, e.g., again, smoke and fire. This meant that signs intervened in inferences. Signs were communicative but they were not linguistic signs. Augustine considered that a voiced word was a manifestations of the "luminous word within". This is explicitly a statement of the theory of a mental language.
Hobbes and Locke signification was a correlation between mind and language. Hobbes distinguished between private signs, which corresponded to the Augustinian luminosities within, and public signs, which constituted language. However, according to the Oxford , semiology and the whole business of signs in the 17th century had to do with the study of symptoms. In the final analysis, semiotics or semiology is a modern invention begotten in English by Charle Peirce and in French by Ferdinand de Saussure.
Peirce distinguished between different signs: words and sentences, indexes or inferential signs, and icons or similarity signs. Saussure considered that semiology was about devices for communication, which could be linguistic or non-linguistic. Semiology was specifically about linguistic signs. Language as a system of signs was an expression of ideas. Semiolgy did not embrace natural signs. However, linguistic methods could be used to understand other systems of signs. The totality of systems of signs included morphemes, or signifying forms, and syntactic and semantical rules. Semantical rules applied to the meanings of languages. Saussure considered semiology to be an empirical science. But the fact of the matter, is that semiology has been mainly an instrument of interpretation by different thinkers. Roland Barthès, e.g., was interested in the interpretation of signs as manifestations of cultural forms, e.g., films, dress, sex mores, etc.
Certain thinkers considered that behaviour was the source of the definition of signs. This type of thought is called behavioral semiotic. It resembles behaviorism, but it is about meanings. The problem is that if, e.g., a succulent stew produces salivation, taking salivation as definitional poses some difficulties. Suppose that the stew evokes no reaction, then it is just a stew or it is nothing at all. Therefore, we must assume that before there was a reaction to observe there was the meaning of a succulent stew.
Finally, we shall refer to
Chomsky for he is an adversary of a certain understanding of semiotics. He distinguishes between language learning and instrumental learning, such as learning to walk. Instrumental learning involves stimulus and response. He argues that if language were a form of instrumental learning then the meaning of words would be acquired through "analogic guessing". In Saussure language is taught, and therefore signs are learned, but Chomsky argues that language is so complex that it cannot be learned from scratch.
I have not included in this summary of Clarke his analysis of Ockham, Arnauld, Thomas Reid, Quine, Carnap, and Harman because semiology as we said before is a modern doctrine which is not very relevant either to the past before Saussure or to analytical philosohy.
One exception could be made--perhaps should be--and it is that medieval philosophy was in parts quite interested is signs and foreshadowed modern semiological thought.
It distinguished between natural and conventional, e.g., linguistic, signs and it considered that linguistic signs were the paradigm signs.
Sensations are the components of perceptions. Sensations are colors, textures, shapes, forms, and so on. Is space a sensation? Since no one perceives space, then self-evidently space is a sensation or an attribute of sensations that is passed on to perception. Except perhaps at birth, when we make inferences about sensations, we only have perceptions. But it is possible to decompose or break down perceptions into sensations. The products of the break down of perceptions are qualia. This does not necessarily mean that we have sensations. The breakdown of perception is a cognitive act and not a sensory process. Therefore, there are no such things as raw feels. The closest there is to raw feels are perceptions which are not immediately identifiable, but even these are combinations of sensations. Pain and pleasure are sensations. They are physical affects and not essentially propositional, although they may become propositional and have a feedback effect.
Sequences, types of
There are three types of sequences:
--logical sequences, e.g., numbers
--conventional sequences, e.g., the alphabet
--rational sequences, e.g., the arguments in a book.
Thought exhibits both types of sequences, e.g., the sequence of a philosophical argument or the sequence in a mathematical derivation. If we merely posit the sub-consciousness of thought, there is no way that we can explain why and how thought can be both syntactical and logical. However, if we posit squiggles as the instrumentality of thought, we have the possibility of attributing to squiggles the propositions that would produce either rational or logical sequences. We can ask: are squiggles syntactical or logical? And in answering such a question we can make claims about the nature of subconscious thought.
"But the endlessness of a number series, far from being the result of adopting an arbitrary convention, is one of the most significant discoveries made right at the beginning of mathematics. It is based on the insight that there is an open, endless possibility of going on. We generate the numbers, yet we have no choice to proceed otherwise. There is already something that guides us. So we both make and do not make the numbers. We cannot control the process. The creation is stonger than the creator" (Hacker on Waismann, p.167).
All membership conditions define sets, e.g. `is red' defines the class of all red objects.
This is an axiom of set theory, and that is about all you can say about it.
It probably can be traced back historically to the Categories.
Membership conditions are predicates formed with the verb to be.
Membership conditions include qualifiers of membership conditions, such as types of wings.
"Set theory. The field pioneered by
Cantor from 1874 to 1897 and further developed by Russell and Zermelo. The
original motivation that led to the formulation of set theory derived from
problems arising out of investigations into certain types of infinite sets
of real numbers and the recognition for the need of a theory of the
Set theory and math
Math is about quantities. As such it cannot leave out any part of the quantifiable universe. If math includes the whole of the quantifiable universe, then any theory that deals with math or affects math-theory in any way must be about the quantifiable universe. Set theory is about the totality of the universe in so far as the universe is quantifiable. Should set theory not embrace the totality of the quantifiable universe, it would obviously be incomplete, but would this also affect the completeness of math? Such would be the case if math and set theory were codependent. But it would also be the case should set theory be necessarily applicable to a specific area of math. What does it mean for math and set theory to be codependent? They would be codependent if set theory reflects as in a mirror the totality of math. However, there would be no codependence if set theory is just meta-mathematical theory. Set theory is not meta-mathematical theory. Meta-mathematical theory is interpretative. Derivations in set theory are apodictic. Therefore, it would seem as if the fall of set theory could spell the "fall" of math. In sum, for set theory to work it is necessary that the universe should be totally included in sets. For this to be so, at the very least every possible predicate must generate a class. Predicates are membership conditions. If there is a membership condition that does not generate a class, then part of the universe is excluded from set theory. Then math is not universally applicable and a great many things can escape the mathematical net. Russell's paradox is the proposition that there is a membership condition that does not generate a class. However, he later patched up the issue he had raised with his theory of types. Impredicativity refers to talk of classes of classes. Russell placed a ban on such talk and proposed that the inclusion of classes within themselves entailed a different typification. This ban includes talk of totalities and of empty classes. Quine argues that the theory of types violates the principle or axiom of continuity, which Russell understood, for which reason he subsequently accepted impredicativity.
Sign and symbol
sign is a meaningful entity in itself.
symbol applies both to meaningful entities in themselves and to entities which have "attributed" meaning, e.g., a figure which arbitrarily stands for something which is not arbitrary, although the reference could be to another arbitrary representation as long as eventually the chain ends in an entity meaningful in itself. Signs are physical. Symbols are both physical and mental. In other words, a perception is a sign.
Perception as symbol always involves an associated or multiple associated perceptions, but a symbol does not necessarily imply perception. Squiggles are symbols, not signs. Words are perceptions, but they are not meaningful in themselves. Consequently, words are symbols. Signs have been used as the equivalents of terms and propositions in logic.
However, since symbols can have arbitrary meanings, and variables in logic and math are stand-ins for whatever quantifiable real-world entities we choose, then symbols can also mean terms and propositions.
A symbol is a sign which stands for something else. Symbols can be and often are associative. Signs include all manifestations accessible to the intentionality of mind. Intentionality and sign are codependents. Mental symbols are means of representation. To the extent that they are not manifest they are not signs, but they are what underlie intentionality and make the grasp of signs possible.
Signs are logical. They necessarily imply a reader or perceiver of signs. Mind is meaningful in itself. It is unnecessary in mind to posit a Cartesian reader or perceiver of its contents. We know what we know about mind directly. There is nothing in our mind separate from the cognitive processes that are constantly producing instants of recognition, deduction, etc. The self lies in the specificity of each instant. Specificity entails individuality. But how do we know they are specific?
Let us assume that symbols and signs are not equivalent.
As we said, signs are necessarily logical and they necessarily involves logical relations, e.g., smoke signifies fire (usually). Symbols do not necessarily relate in a logical fashion. Symbolical is not necessarily arbitrary, so we are back to the equivalence between sign and symbol.
There is a difference. Whereas the relation between a sign and a deduction is direct, the relation between signs as symbols is logical but indirect. What this means is that it requires a more complicated, perhaps controversial or probabilistic chain of thought. This difference in our view is sufficient. We can say that signs are logical and symbols can be logical or can arbitrary. A case of an arbitrary association is the symbol for pawnshops which is taken from the Medici escutcheon. Again, the
Medici were bankers, hence pawnbrokers, but the reasoning is so convoluted as to allow that symbols are not quite as directly logical as signs and could very well be arbitrary, i.e., an alligator standing for a chemise Lacoste.
Are words symbols or signs? Words are totally associative in an arbitrary manner. There does not exist a logical relation between words and what they signify. Almohada, pillow, and sommeiller, all mean the same thing in different languages. Indo-aryan languages and Mongolic have totally different word sounds, i.e., phonemes, for the same objects. Since symbols can be logical or arbitrary but signs can only be logical, then, since words are associative and arbitrary, they must be symbols.
Words usually come in
propositions. Concepts are always propositional. Propositions are formed by linking words grammatically. Grammatical linkages are logical. In a sense, a grammar is a rational derivative of phonemes. It is reason organizing spoken sounds in a logical manner. Therefore, propositions are necessarily logical and consequently they must be signs
See also Semiotics, semiology
Signifier and signified
These terms are from semiotics.
Signifier corresponds roughly to definiens and signified is analogical to definiendum.
In physics a singularity is the point of infinite density assumed for the Big Bang.
In general, the social contract is the
symbol or metaphor which expresses the passage of humanity from the state
of lawlessness to society. It can be used for the left (Rawls) as for the right (Gauthier).
It is scientifically unviable and it is malleable.
Solipsism is the notion that only my consciousness exists. It is idealism taken to an absurd extreme, for if only my consciousness exists, how can my consciousness contain anything other than itself? An empty consciousness is a contradiction in terms. More reasonably, solipsism is the inability to communicate awareness.
Malcolm Budd on David Pears,
The False Prison: A Study of the Development of Wittgenstein's Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon) in TLS, February 3-9 1989, p.115
"The principal aim of Wittgenstein's enigmatic early work
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, is to establish the limits of expression of thought in language...The
Tractatus presented the restrictive egocentric thesis of the solipsist with a dilemma: either his ego is identified independently of the objects it faces or it is not. If, however, the identification is independent, it must be by reference to the solipsist's body, so that his thesis is self-refuting; if, on the other hand, the identification is not independent, the thesis is empty...Because there is no room within the concept [solipsism] for the ego as owner of experience, the solipsist really does have no alternative but to place his ego in the common world, thus abandoning his solipsism."
(1) Pure ego does not exist: awareness is never empty.
(2) Solipsism of this sort is either incoherent or it is purely verbal.
Essentially, Wittgenstein used the old setting-up ploy to further his anti-mentalist, pro-language views. He first equated awareness and private language, which is unjustified
~A mental language is not a private language in the Wittgenstein sense. Then he equated solipsism with private language and awareness. Since solipsism is absurd, then so are awareness and so-called private language. The whole thing is a set-up. The definitions and assumptions are arbitrary.
See Specifics and sortals
Awareness is recognition. Recognition entails cognition and cognition permits the recall of awareness. In the recall of awareness, often called consciousness, we have the kernel of soul. The recall of awareness also suggests ideas of freedom and immortality.
See Time and Space
Specification and generalization
Specification and generalization are logical principles. They apply to perception. Their application results in the storage of tokens of experience and in types of things.
specification we mean their identification as different from others.
or generalization we mean their similarities.
Words have an inherent and a relational value. The word "bird" is more than a reference to a specific bird. It refers to all birds. The inherent meaning is specificative. The relational value is possible from generalization. The relational value of words is a categorization of reality. However, there are within language multiple systems for the categorization of reality.
Some of them are:
--Western history>classical world/middle ages/renaissance/baroque/enlightenment /and so on.
These categories do not arise from the relational value of nouns and the application of the principle of generalization. They are derived from the study of events. Whereas perception spontaneously specifies and generalizes, operations which are reflected in the inherent and relational values of words, more complex cognitive processes yields more complex categorizations, and these are also reflected in language. But in the end, the basis for all systems of categories is the innate logical ability of mind to specify and to generalize.
The specificity of cognition means that: (1) all propositional inputs are specific; (2) cognitive abilities are specific; and (3) all propositional yields, hence all inferences, are specific. Basic-cog's are not specific. They are the same in all individuals. But since the brain and nervous systems are specific, the ability to use logic is specific.
Self, Development of the
How do we know the specificity of self? We can for one deduce it from the principle of the indiscernibility of identicals. But can we know it empirically, so to speak? We know it from the fact that except for gametic twins--and even here there is plenty of margin for divergence--every human being is physically different from every other human being. We can also know it directly from the difficulties we have in communicating with others which builds in us a marked sense of our separate selfhood. All of this, however, merely supplements that we know intuitively that we are indeed different and that being different means being specific within the species. By intuitively is meant that what is known is the product of such massive interactive processing of information that there is little or no room for doubt.
If basic-cog's are not specific and if mind is propositional, how can the specificity of self arise?
Necessarily from the randomness of experience! Our inputs are specific to us. However, since basic-cog's function in specific nervous system, our cog-processes, though typical of all of thought, have variations from person to person that do not affect their fundamental operations. Like people say, all cars are the same but there's always the chance that you will get a lemon.
The reinsertion of theory of knowledge into experience yields that cognition does not necessarily explain belief. To explain belief we have to posit the specific self. The specific self is the object-self in its insertion in reality. There is no object-self except as a theoretical construct of cognitive theory. All propositions are specific. The specific self is constituted by specific propositions. All specific propositions are not necessarily beliefs, but there is no belief without specific self. All we have established so far about the specific self is its existence and its role in the formation of belief. Therefore, in order to give a ful account of belief, we must have an explanation of the development of the specific self.
Let us put certain propositions on the development of specific self in order:
--mind is constituted by propositions;
--the propositions of mind are the product of cognition;
--the basis of cognition are cog-processes ruled by basic-cog's;
--basic-cog's are the same for all individuals;
--all nervous systems are different;
--the specificity of matter is the basis for the specificity of self;
--all the propositional contents of mind are specific;
--the grasp of sensation is specific;
--if the grasp of sensation is specific, so necessarily is perception;
--the specific self is constituted by specific propositions;
--the specificity of all experience is cumulative, i.e., the more experience, the more specific is experience;
--the specificity of experience depends not only on the specificity of our propositions, i.e., our specific selves, but on the specific selves of others;
--even though basic-cog's are not specific, e.g., intuitive logic, the ability to do complex logical operations is specific.
How do we go about doing the development of the specific self? We cannot address the issue of the development of the object-self, because there is no object-self. But it may be possible to study the development of specific cognition. This is an empirical proposition, but there is sufficiently justification for it, for we know that the newborn does not have the cognitive abilities of the adult. To get from the newborn to the adult, since it is not a sudden leap, we must posit different developmental processes. And since there are no discontinuities in the history of any individual, these processes must be interconnected: each one arises from a previous one, although this is not to exclude the possibility of "telescoping".
Is this developmental process continuous and fluid, so that stages, if there are stages, emerge imperceptibly in the sense that one stage is not exhausted before another stage emerges, or in the sense that every stage retains features from the previous stage or stages? Or is this developmental process such that it can be described in terms of discrete, definable stages in the sense that one stage gives way to another stage and the previous stage is entirely relegated and a new one substituted entirely for it? Or can we speak of stages at all for the unitary, specific self?
Is the process of development such that we can only speak of individual abilities following their individual processes independent of the others, so that all we will actually find is that at each point in time an individual will have achieved different degrees of ability in different areas of cognition or of specific selfhood? To what extent is the developmental process of the individual determined by "preordained" processes of innate basic-cog's and to what extent are these processes determined by environmental influences?
In other words, can we do the development of specific cognition mainly from the "inside", or is it mainly from the impingement of the world on basic-cog's, or is it a constantly interactive process?
One thing we are not trying to do is to exhaust all the possibilities and intricacies of the process of the development of self. We admitted in the theory of cognition that we were not trying to discover all the propositions that can be subsumed under the general heading of basic-cog's, not even all the propositions that can be attributed to specific cog-processes. There is no reason to suppose that, not having exhausted cog-processes, we can exhaust the specific self as the result of such processes. If our search cannot be exhaustive, what exactly can it be? We start from the proposition that the specific self is constituted by specific propositions. Even the types in memory are specific, but they are not unique or exclusive to the individual. Basic-cog's are common to all individuals. Basic-cog's yield specific propositions, but they also make communication possible.
When we did cog-processes we went by experience. This is why the theory of mind is not just constituted by abstract axioms. But we also went from types of propositions to the processes that make them possible and we took stock of our cognitive abilities. From our propositional definition of mind, we assumed that cognitive abilities can be described in propositions. But we did not undertake a thorough investigation of all the basic-cog's that specify individual cog-processes. What we are doing now is starting from our fundamental concepts and arguments about cognition and mind, inferring from them propositions that are pertinent to the concept of the development of the specific self, and discarding possible contradictions and inconsistencies, all with a view to giving a coherent presentation of how it is that the specific self develops. We cannot assume the propositionality of mind and then turn around and admit, e.g., that affects can be accounted for in a non-propositional manner. We cannot say that logic is innate and deny that it is absent from the newborn. But just because we have posited innate rules of perception, we cannot claim that the newborn recognizes objects. And if we posit that awareness is but the tip of cognition, we cannot argue consistently that awareness is crucial to the operation of cog-processes.
This method, which we are barely sketching, will not exhaust the subject of the development of the specific self, but it will provide us with arguments about the way this development must take place and about the way it cannot take place. It is conceivable that in our research we may not give an account of all the details of the process of specific selfhood, but these details can be worked out later or if they are not worked out at all there should be no room in our fundamental arguments for specific inferences that invalidate the general coherence of our description. To reinforce these claims it would be helpful, once we have gone over our total presentation, to account in a systematic manner for its basic features from the arguments that have served to sustain them.
In doing cognition we assumed a cognitive system. On occasions we had to posit precedences in the application of basic-cog's. Despite the abstract, objective nature of cognition, we could not avoid noting that it was inevitable to insert basic-cog's into a schema of change and precedences. And in doing mind or the specific self, we practically assumed a developmental pattern. This pattern is particularly significant in reference to affects. But it is of the essence in trying to grasp the specificity of self. The concept of the specificity of self entails differences between individuals. These differences are noticeable only relative to paradigms of achievement. Paradigms of achievement are stages-based. What are the "stages" that we have observed in the theories of knowledge and of mind? We initially speculated on the possible existence of the object-self. But from the indiscernibility of identicals, we were forced to admit that the specificity of self is there from the start. It is there in the specificity of the nervous system. Even on the assumption that basic-cog's are the same for all "normal", e.g., sighted, individuals, the material basis for basic-cog's, i.e., the individual nervous systems, are different in all individuals. From our first sensations, therefore, we have the specific self. The "big bang" itself is common to all individuals only in a formal, abstract sense. Each individual experiences his own specific cognitive "explosion".
What we have "in plain sight" then is that the specific self begins its process of formation by having specific sensations. We assumed logic and specification and generalization, so that specific sensorial inputs are also type-inputs. However, this initial sensory process is not durable: sensations quickly give way to perceptions. How quickly? This is a strictly technical issue, one in the domain of experimental and cognitive psychology at the newborn stage. We cannot answer the question. All we can speculate without experimental evidence is that there is an evolution in the child from sensations in the newborn to perception at a later time. Since this issue of the transition from sensation to perception is enveloped in uncertainties, can we speak of stages at all?
The rules or laws of perception describe how the human being recognizes recurrences of sensations and turns cases of individual recurrences into mental types which will be applied in recognition of all tokens of such types. It is because from start to finish nothing here would function without memory that it is not easy to distinguish between perception and memory. It is true that perception can be characterized as a physiological process, but what our senses "initially grasp", i.e., the inputs to the nervous system, are not perceptions but sensations. In newborns the process does not proceed beyond this stage. Shortly afterwards these inputs are transformed into perceptions and this means that the act of perceiving takes place in memory and that this act is determined by the rules of perception, which, existing and operating in memory, are almost indistinguishable from memory itself. However, it is not memory itself because we know that there are special rules that apply to memory, such as why we remember some things and forget others, and these rules do not invariably apply to perception, although it very well may be the case that they could affect perception under certain circumstances.
The other possible processes that we have found that could point to the possibility of stages are: the process from a pre-linguistic to a linguistic phase and the process from the experience of physical affects to the experience of emotions. The first of these two processes is contemplated in cognitive theory. The second one is part of theory of mind. Since we do not deal with affects until later in this section, we will be assuming arguments that are expressed "below".
Language is propositional and it can represent and express. Squiggles are also propositional but they only represent. Before we have language we have squiggles. Through squiggles eventually we can have language and expression. There is therefore a transition between the having of squiggles and the having of language through squiggles. Are we dealing here with stages: a pre-linguistic phase in which mind functions only with squiggles and at best incoherent sounds and a linguistic phase in which the individual recognizes and uses words and implicit grammatical forms and gradually joins words grammatically to make explicit propositions? What we can say categorically is that both phases are similar in that both involve the grasp of meaning in artificially meaningful entities. But as in the case of the sensation-to-perception transition, it is not easy, not to say impossible, to establish a sharp division between one phase and another. This bears more study but let us first consider another and related transition.
What are the implications of discarding a theory of stages? Stages involve change and separations or divisions. We have change but we do not have divisions. If we have change we obviously have precedences. The evolution of the specific self means basically "first things first". But this is true of everything. It is a condition of our temporality. Assuming precedences, first things first, and so on, what we have left, i.e., the implications of discarding stages, is a fluid process of development and growth of the specific self. This description need not exclude paradigms as opposed to the more rigid concept of stages. A child should be expressing himself verbally by the time he is two. Even before that he should be able to learn from the admonishments of his authority figures. But beyond these possible paradigms there is nothing resembling stages.
We have to stick to the concept of a variable process characterized by the growth of experience as the accumulation of specific propositions in
the subconscious system. This process cannot be specified as being from simplicity to complexity, because however undeveloped the child's abilities to use logic or memory or language, he has from birth all the basic-cog's that specify cog-processes. And by the same token, the process of the development of the specific self cannot involve discontinuities, which would be required, to a greater or lesser degree, in a theory of stages.
Let us summarize our characterization of the development of the specific self. It begins from birth. It is based on innate basic-cog's that direct cog-processes, but also crucially on the specificity of nervous systems. The operation of cog-processes is constantly interactive from birth. The development of the specific self consists basically in the accumulation of experience in the form of specific propositions. The growth of experience implies the constant interaction between the cog-system and the human and physical environment of the individual. And finally, even though we have been referring continually to the cog-system, we are also assuming throughout that the cog-system is specific, i.e., that it is the specificity of cognition that determines the specific self, and this means of course that the development of the specific self involves not just the development of cognition but the development of the properties of the specific self that are not sufficiently specified or accounted for by cognition, i.e., affects and volition.
The process of the specific self as we have outlined it can account for all conceivable divergences between individuals. It self-evidently accounts for the specific self, hence for all specific selves. But within these specificities we can come across some which occupy the category of "deviance". The issue we are trying to come to grips with here is that of a development of the specific self in which there are properties which allow the positing of the special category of abnormal development. However, there is a contradiction here. If the outline of the development of the specific self allows for all specificities, then we have no grounds for positing special or specific specificities. Such specificities, if they were to exist, cannot constitute a denial of the basic principles of the system of specific cognition we have devised. Consequently, there cannot be a study of "abnormal" development different from the study of the development of the specific self. From our theory, then, there is no such thing as neurosis.
Has logic gone on evolving? A sensible biological and taxonomical position would be that it hasn't, for if it had we could not speak of mankind through the ages since it became recognizably mankind. If we could not, we would have to speak of different species at different times, e.g., Magdalenian or Hasltatt or finally civilizational
homo sapiens sapiens, and we have no grounds at all for this, the contrary--that humans have not changed much since their inception--being the most likely supposition.
The child resists being constrained to act in a socially conventional manner. It naturally wants to be as it is, which in effect means that it wants to do as it pleases. This is something allowed him as a newborn and for some time after that. The absence of language in this process can be exaggerated, for the ability to understand and the capacity for verbal expression--the first always ahead of the second--are very quickly active in the human being. It is then not just physical pain and pleasure that induce the individual towards social behaviour but the verbal prompting of his elders as well. This prompting will of course be more suasive coming from the "mother", but it is also effective coming from others. However, the child will probably be more reluctant to abandon what he considers proper and specific to himself the more he perceives a "distance" between his mother and others...Given "parental consent", some children can behave far into infancy as if unaware of elementary norms of sociality. The child spontaneously resists attempts to stuff him into social moulds. And his resistance can be a significant retardating influence on socialization.
The history of the awareness of the self in the West
The specific self is a necessary derivation ultimately from the principle of the indiscernibility of identicals. It has existed since the beginning of human consciousness. However, the expression of the awareness of the specific self is another matter. It may have begun in Hellenistic time with the breakdown of the polis, which Aristotle did not have a theory of self. The question of self-specificity is in Marcus Aurelius and most markedly in Saint Augustine. The Renaissance brought with it an enhancement in the intellectual expression of the self. A shining example is Montaigne. The cusp of self-awareness in philosophy came with Descartes. This is not to say that other philosophers might not have been more aware of or more influenced by the notion of specific self. But Descartes played the keynote and he did it from the start with absolute clarity. Hume argued for a denial of the unity of self but he did it from the awareness of his own specific self, as manifest in his primitively introspective theory of bundles.
(On its simplicity compare his thought with that of Husserl.) Kant posited the necessity of an entity called self, just as he posited the necessity of ethics. Basically his maneuver was to argue strenuously for both, but when faced with the futility of his efforts, he fell back on their mustness or shouldness, and that tipped the balance for him, although he has no arguments as to why it should tip the balance for others except for the implicit egotism of philosophical thought.
"On Strawson's view, first person psychological or experiential propositions involve the self-ascription on an adequate basis of a dependent particular--namely, an experience--to a subject, referringly identified by means of a first-person pronoun, who stands to the experience in question in a relation of logically non-transferable ownership. The identity of the experiences as particulars is logically dependent upon the identity of the person whose experiences they are. `From this it follows immediately that if they can be identified as particular states or experiences at all, they must be possessed or ascribed...in such a way that it is logically impossible that a particular or experience in fact possessed by someone should have been possessed by any one else'" (Hacker quoting
Individuals , p. 180)
Specifics and sortals
Mind contains specific propositions and general propositions.
A sortal is the type that applies to a chair or a table. We only have specific perceptions of chairs or tables. But it is only because we have sortals that we recognize chairs and tables. Mind has the innate ability, probably a part of intuitive logic, to abstract sortals from specific impressions, to recognize specifics from sortals, and to store both sspecifics and sortals.
All the mental life we know directly is awareness. Awareness entails cognitive processes such as memory and logic. Awareness is in part perceptual, hence physiological. The obvious "residence" for memory and logic is the brain. But when we examine the brain in itself it tells us nothing about awareness or memory or logic or perception. We assume that it is the physical vehicle of cognitive processes. There are many reasons for this inference, but a basic one is that if one had to think and react grammatically one could not cope with reality. Therefore, cognitive processes must use other means, analogous to language but not conventionally linguistic. Languages are constituted by parts: letters to words to propositions. We can safely assume that cognitive processes are propositional. Consequently, like languages, they are also constituted or made possible by units or parts. We call these units or parts squiggles.
Squiggles are rule-bound mental symbols
which generate cog-processes and linguistic abilities. The main function
of squiggles is to represent and apply basic-cog's interactively.
All of the above means that the bottom-line of squiggles, i.e., the basis for their main function, is to make meaning possible. Awareness is meaning. We perceive objects. We feel emotions and can distinguish them from arguments. We could just say that mind is meaning and that there's nothing more there is to that. Or we can sit around and wait for psycho-neurologists to relate mental contents to brain changes. Or we can make certain assumptions about thought and try to develop arguments from them.
Now, mental processes do not exist in isolation from each other. They are not orthogonal in any way, shape, or form. Perception requires memory, memory cannot function without logic, and so on. And not only are they not orthogonal, but they are holistic in the sense that every describable cog-process necessarily enters into any individual cognitive process or act. The description of the way that these processes inter-act are the specific rules of squiggles, i.e., specific in the sense of not being the rules of any individual cog-process. The specific rules of squiggles may include other processes, perhaps the process itself of awareness.
A squiggle represents the word abracadabra
and another the spelling a-b-r-a-c-a-d-a-b-r-a, but the two squiggles are
related, for only so could we recognize the word that is spelled.
Squiggles is just an abbreviation for a
system of rule-bound mental symbols. The crucial point is that squiggles
must be analogous to neurons. Why do we need the analogy? Whatever we can get from awareness about mind, we cannot avoid getting that it is brain where the mental ultimately resides. Brain is constituted by myriad units. These units interact constantly presumably according to laws. If we assume or know that the liver functions according to certain laws, then how can we not assume the same thing for the brain? Therefore, no matter how productive an hypothesis about thought, it will not ultimately be very convincing if it does not in some manner take the known traits of brain and neurons into account. We cannot say, e.g., that perception is encapsulated when we know that perception involves a great many areas of the brain, if not the entire brain. We have no grounds for discarding the latter proposition.
But why not then just assume the second
attitude above: wait for neurologists to relate thought to brain? The
process of understanding mind is not from brain to thought. Brain itself
tells us nothing about thought even if we looked at it an eternity. We
have to have thought in order to know brain and not the other way around.
The trick is to have thought in such a way that it resembles brain and
neurons. This means that we must to a certain extent model squiggles on
The subconscious does not operate through a cumbersome and slow public communicative language. Since awareness is temporal and it is cognitive, then cog-processes are subconscious, and if this is the case, then it is not very likely that they occur in the natural language. If the natural language were the means of thought, we would produce well-indited propositions and we are often struggling with the expression of our thought. If we needed to make sentences in order to react to a danger, we would be struck down immediately. In other words, the mind is so fast that it must possess a system of its own as the instrument or the means of cognitive processes.
Since the subconscious is divisible into parts, as in logic and memory, inevitably the means for cog-processes must be divided into parts. This mental cognitive system that is constituted by parts is the mental language that we call squiggles. Squiggles therefore are the mental units that roughly
correspond to letters and words and that combine to make mental propositions, such as "run or that car will hit you". Since basically what the subconscious does its to make awareness possible and awareness is meaning, then it is squiggles that underlie all of meaning. Squiggles are the mental language that constitute mental propositions. This means, then, that awareness, however imagic it might seem to us, is ultimately propositional. Each instant of perception is the equivalent of an extremely long and complicated proposition. But squiggles cannot be detached from the physical base of awareness. We can infer this from the obvious fact that memory and logic do not exist in thin air and they must be somewhere physical. But we can also infer it from awareness in itself and not as awareness of awareness of of awareness as the result of cognitive processes.
Squiggles are not physical like neurons.
They are an explanatory posit. However, there are events in which
squiggles and neurons overlap in such a way that they become reciprocally
dependent. We are aware of pain as a purely physical event. We can in fact
most of the time indicate the place in the body where pain is taking
place. Physical pain and pleasure cannot be explained in terms of
squiggles for they consist in the direct stimulation of the nervous
Nevertheless, in physical pain and pleasure it is impossible to confuse the sensations with thought of the sensations. There is another sort of event which inverts the mind/matter order. It is anxiety. Anxiety is not necessarily a direct physical stimulation. It can arise from, e.g., an imminent fall even before the fall has occurred. More often anxiety is produced by some form of propositional clash, and this means that it is ultimately in most cases squiggly. Yet anxiety, even far from the threshold where it becomes acute, is also physical pain. It is felt as a painful tingle in the arms or in giddiness or in many ways all unpleasant, all comparable to physical pain, in fact, the same as physical pain. So here we have an event in which squiggles and neurons imbricate to the extent that we cannot easily separate the clash in the mind that generates anxiety from the physical discomfort of anxiety. Mind and brain are indissoluble in plain, and in pleasure.
What all this means is that if we posit squiggles we can allow ourselves the features of neurons and we must say nothing regarding squiggles that contradicts what we know about neurons.
Since squiggles are a construct--and not like brain a physical organ--then the description of squiggles is more or less as far as we can go in knowing them, and in this case as in others of phil-mind the expression of squiggles is tantamount to their representation.
If we assume that squiggles are "like" neurons, we could claim that serotonin is "like" having good expectations, that physical pain is "like" propositional affects, and that an instinctual reaction is "like" self-love.
Since specific propositions start accumulating from birth, our ability to use logic starts growing from birth and since perception follows sensation, could we not then conclude that for perception to arise we must have a more skilful use of logic? But we cannot pinpoint any specific moment in which our use of logic is qualitatively different from any previous or later use of logic. Therefore, we cannot use logic for drawing a line between sensation and perception in the individual. If logic does not provide it neither does memory and there is no justification in cognition for such a division. The grounds for stages of cognitive development are flimsy. Yet the fact remains that a baby does not know as much as a child and a child does not know as much as a teen-ager and the teen-ager does not know as much as an adult. Cognitive development could be compared to a fist opened slowly: the fingers stretch out at varying rates but eventually they all reach their possible lengths. Cognition is a process of change by degrees which can be made to fit certain very general patterns on which there is no universal consensus.
According to Fodor, standard realism is the claim that mental states necessarily entail belief. This is also described as the monadic character of propositional attitudes. That mental states necessarily entail belief is related to the bases of mental propositions. However, propositional contents do not necessarily entail belief. It is possible to have merely the knowledge of propositions. Again according to Fodor, standard realism makes no claims about the means of thought, and this is its main difference with representationalism, i.e., the representational theory of mind, which must have an explanation of mindstuff. Last but not least, standard realism is not relational. Mental events are not relations between attitudes and propositions. They are simply mental events. The monadic character of standard realism means that there is no difference between propositional attitudes and their contents.
In SR mental states produce behaviour which allows deductions about propositional content. Propositions are epiphenomenal to mental states. RTM instead admits the possibility of mental processes.
Most of these arguments are taken from Fodor, "Fodor's guide to mental representation" (1985), in A. Goldman's
Readings in Philosophy and Cognitive Science (1993)
State of affairs
Wittgensteinian phrase for reality
Stich, From folk-psychology to
Stich argues somewhat along these. In
so-called folk psychology, belief is a relation between a subject and a
proposition. Since propositions are never identical, a shared belief or
sameness of belief can only be through propositional similarity. Hence,
beliefs can only be similar. Similarity of beliefs is necessarily
contextual. Consequently, it is only contextually that it is possible to
have attribution of belief, and FP, which is about propositional attitudes,
falls. Stich's substitutive theory of what he calls a syntactic theory of
mind, which involves an incoherent distinction between syntax and semantics.
Semantics is representational. The syntactic theory of mind retains the
advantages of representation without its weaknesses. It is weak
representational theory of mind.
Fodor on Stich (see Goldman 278): "On the
other hand, if you combine eliminativist sentiments about propositional
attitudes with enthusiam for the functional individuation of mental states,
then you anticipate the eventual replacement of commonsense belief/desire
explanations by theories couched in the vocabulary of a functionalist
psychology. You are thus led to write books with such titles as From folk
psychology to cognitive science and are almost certainly identical to
Pascal Engel on J. Christopher Maloney,
The Mundane Matter of Mental Language (Cambridge University Press),
TLS, August 17-23 1990, p. 880
"Stich's Syntactic Theory of the Mind
eschews ascriptions of content to mental states, instead supposing that
psychology ought to attend only to syntactic properties of mental
How is he going to get to them?
"A scientific account of mentation ought
to be based on what we already know of propositional attitudes...Taking
[these] seriously leads me to agree with Fodor and, with certain
qualifications, Stich that thinking involves the use of a mental language.
Dennett and the Churchlands have labored to expose the difficulties
attendant on postulating a mental language. And Stich has cautioned against
supposing that the mental language has any semantic properties or,
minimally, any semantic features germane to the purpose of cognitive
science...Although I argue that cognitive theory ought to rely on a language
of thought, I disagree with those, including (early) Putnam and Dennett, who
think that mental states are best cast as purely functional states. I am
persuaded that Paul Churchland, Searle, and Dretske are right, even if for
different reasons, to worry that functionalism is excessive in its
characterization of the mental.
"So I suspect that the Churchlands
are right in maintaining that an adequate science of the mind requires an
understanding of the physical, not just the functional, properties of mental
In philosophical talk it means a thesis or series of arguments.
It can also imply a private philosophy.
In general, structuralism refers to something very solid in which the parts cohere into the whole. In anthropology, structuralism is a semiological approach whereby it is assumed that each event must be related to every other event. It is analogous to holism.
Style is the repetition of traits.
The temporality of mind is the primary and inevitable logical condition for the existence of the subconscious. Both Abad Carretero and Roustan clearly point to the subconscious in their texts. There have been authors, like Herbart, who realized the importance of the subconscious long before Freud. According to Heymann, Husserl knew this, but he was contemporary with Freud. The point is that the subconscious is undeniable and that to grant to Freud some kind of copyright on the subject is a to miss the point. However, even Abad Carretero, for whom the subconscious was an inevitability, failed to realize that it was the subconscious that had the upper hand over consciousness and not the other way around. The corollary of this view is that in order to know mind it is necessary to reason about the subconscious. Freud did a great deal of this but whereas he deduced instincts what one should surmise about it is logic. The subconscious is the eminently logical. It is the abode of intuitive logic. From his speculations about instincts Freud additionally deduced certain "strong" social attitudes, which seemed to be borne out in anthropology and literature, as in theories about ancient religious beliefs or as in literary motifs. But there is no opposition between this "evidence" and logic. Everything in fact is logical once you get the premises right.
It happens that I will do something mechanically without missing a stroke. But if one time I think what it is that I want to do I will become uncertain about how to do it. There is nothing logical about the routine, e.g., punching computer keys, but why should it become inoperative when I am being rational? Why shouldn't it just accompany the awareness of my purpose? It may also happen that the routing simply collapses, e.g., a mental block, and I try uselessly to recover it by reasoning.
"James summarized his theory towards the end of Varieties : the subconscious contains, he said, "the larger part of each of us...[harbouring] the springs of all our obscurely motivated passions, impulses, likes, dislikes, and prejudices. Our intuition, hypotheses, fancies, superstitions, persuasions, convictions, and in general all our non-rational operations come from it. It is the source of our dreams and apparently they may return to it."
Edward S. Reed, on Eugene Taylor, William James on consciousness beyond the margin ( TLS , December 6 1996)
Subconscious and interpretations
Without at this stage going into a
disquisition on time, it is fairly self-evident that we are aware, we
perceive, we think, etc., by instants. None of us is "Funes el Memorioso",
or another of Borges's fantastical minds. This self-evident proposition
can be argued in extenso. It stands to reason, then, that almost
the totality of our mental processes must be subconscious. It could be
objected that the important thing in thought is the question what to do
next and that this question is asked and answered in awareness. But is
that really the case? Do we in fact pose that question at all? And even if
we did, would the question not be a surfacing of subconscious cognitive
processes? And would the answer to the question not itself also be the
result of the same processes? The question what to do next is not of such
a nature as to represent an interruption in the continuous subconscious
flow of our cognitive processes. It is a theoretical verbalization of what
we "normally" do without at any moment introducing awareness into the
subconscious mechanisms of thought. We do not at any moment of our
conscious lives stop and take stock of what we have in the subconscious
and from this operation proceed to choose what we will do next. It also
stands to reason that awareness must be present to us in the same way as
film images, i.e., in some manner analogous to frames per second, but this
is not something we are going to explore or argue at this stage. However,
we should extend the analogy to say that just as film frames create the
impression of continuous movement, i.e., which is really just a sequence
of stills, so in mind there is no impression that awareness is made up of
individual moments of awareness. It is of course perception for an
instant, but given the nature of time, there is simply no instant of
perception. How can I describe fully one instant of perception when it is
gone no sooner than it is had and there is no way to recover all the
details which conformed it?
Since we have defined mind as meaning,
then subconscious mind too must be meaningful, and if meaning is
propositional, then the subconscious too must be propositional, i.e.,
constituted by meaningful units. Now, we know that we express ourselves in
public, communicative languages and that we can and often do think in these
languages, but we also know that thought is much too fast to be carried by
language and in fact we know directly that we think--most of the time quite
reliably--without actually forming sentences, or representing them, or using
syntax, or even sometimes very accurate definitions of terms. Therefore,
there must exist--and we cannot emphasize enough this use of
"must"--a mental instrumentality for forming, reducing or expanding,
modifying, carrying, storing, recalling, etc., the meaningful units of
thought. We shall call these units squiggles from the shape of the symbols
that appear on monitors when we "open" an operative program.
Having gone this far, we can extract the
following propositions from our previous arguments: (a) most of thought is
subconscious, (b) thought implies some means of thought different from
language, (c) this means of thought is subconscious and it is very probably
somehow the "source" of meaning itself. Let us go over these three
Our first claim was: "Most of our thought
is subconscious". This can be argued from the nature of time and the
temporality of mind, and it can be deduced from awareness.
The second fundamental claim is: "Thought
implies some means of thought different from language". This too can be
deduced from awareness and, more specifically, from the part of awareness
that is about non-perceptual mental states. But it can be deduced through
other than purely introspective means, including experimental psychology. A
crucial argument, used by Fodor, is that children and animals think without
having the command of a public, communicative language.
The third fundamental claim is: "This
means of thought is subconscious and it is very probably somehow the
`source' of meaning itself". Meaning is both the essence of awareness and an
ability of mind. There is no thought without meaning. Therefore, meaning is
not only proper to awareness but equally to subconscious cognitive
Since we have already posited that
squiggles are the subconscious instrumentality of thought, then the
possibility of meaning must reside in the existence of squiggles, and
squiggles could be defined as the predisposition or the ability of mind to
grasp meaning. To posit that squiggles are the possible source of meaning is
to theorize about a level below awareness where meaning originates and where
it becomes charged with all its implications in awareness. This level has to
be subconscious, e.g., the level where the rules that govern perception
operate. Conceivably, we could try to dig deeper for the source of meaning
as an ability of mind, but we would only be duplicating the claims that we
have made about squiggles. Such thought would be regressive and it would
violate the principle of parsimony.
Ultimately, the point of squiggles is
that in thinking about the subconscious we need some handhold on which to
base reasoning. The idea of subconscious thought is just so much dark
matter. Squiggles break down the lump of the subconscious into manageable
units. We cannot ask about the subconscious whether it is logical or
syntactical or whatever. But if we consider the subconscious as constituted
by meaningful and meaning-generating units of thought we can ask: are
squiggles syntactical or logical? And in answering such a question we can
make claims about the nature of subconscious thought.
Syntax is not necessarily logical.
Logical propositions are bound by strict rules of derivation. But no such
strict rules apply to syntax. Syntax is a rational sequence, but not a
necessary sequence of symbols. Syntax is the rationalization of meaning. We
can understand the sequence "go mountain man up", but it is syntax
structures the rational sequence "the man goes up the mountain". But syntax
does not oblige us to express thought in one and only one necessary
sequence. We can express the same thought in sentences with different forms,
e.g., we painted this house or this house was painted by us. Logic, on the
other hand, is a necessary sequence of symbols. The syntax/logic equivalence
is an unjustified extension of the analytical concept of syntax. Thought
exhibits both types of sequences, e.g., the sequence of a philosophical
argument or the sequence in a mathematical derivation. If we merely posit
the subconsciousness of thought, there is no way that we can explain why and
how thought can be both syntactical and logical. However, if we posit
squiggles as the instrumentality of thought, we have the possibility of
attributing to squiggles the propositions that would produce either rational
or logical sequences.
All propositions possess the following
three properties: (a) the representation of the meaning of all propositions
in squiggles; (b) subconscious cognitive processes and their propositional
rules; (c) propositional attitudes. The set of these properties are
propositional bases. If we excise the propositional bases in any
proposition, what we have left is propositional content. Propositional
content is itself represented in squiggles, but it is specified mainly by
its overt reference to reality. All propositions refer both to their bases
and to their content. All references to propositional bases are necessarily
valid, but obviously not all statements about reality are necessarily valid.
Hence, "I believe that the Earth is flat" is valid in its reference to
propositional bases, but it certainly is not a valid statement. All
statements about propositional bases are true but propositional content can
be either true or false. But is such usage of truth compatible with truth as
mathematical proof or as perception? There is no general definition of truth
that can encompass all its possible instantiations and any specific
definition of truth is incompatible with all other specific definitions of
truth. However, all instantiations of truth can be said to be valid
If there are valid and invalid
propositions, i.e., propositional content, the irrecusable, bottom-line
propositional definition of knowledge must be that it is the sum of all
valid propositions. We can make this proposition somewhat less abstract and
bloodless by specifying that knowledge is the sum of all valid propositions
at a specific point in time, which alludes to the historicity of knowledge.
But either definition does not tell us anything about what is valid and what
is not valid. What then does? The answer is that cognitive processes tell us
which propositions are valid and which invalid, which are reliable and which
unreliable, which are probable and which are not probable, etc. And we know
that these cognitive processes yield valid, reliable, or probable
propositions ultimately because there is "universal" agreement on their
ability to do so, e.g., no one can contradict that what I am seeing is a
house on fire or a speeding automobile. Therefore, we know what is and what
is not knowledge because we know how to know. More precisely, knowledge
consists in our ability to use the rules or principles or laws of cognitive
That we have cognitive processes which
yield valid propositions and which allow us to recognize valid propositions,
also implies a typology of propositions based on the concept of validation.
Justification is the process through which we elaborate propositions, which
implies that it obeys cognitive propositional rules and that, in principle
if not always in practice, it must not contravene any currently valid
proposition. But it is our basic knowledge of validity which permits us to
classify propositions into different types from basic cognitive propositions
The knowledge of validity can mean two
things: that we know valid propositions when we see them and that we can
elaborate valid propositions. It would then seem as if justification and
validation were equivalent concepts. However, all propositions are
justified, but they are not necessarily valid. Validation has to mean more
than just justification. It is justification of a sort that yields
propositions that we know to be valid because no one will have grounds to
deny their validity. Justification is the term that applies to the operation
of all cognitive processes. Validation applies to the justification of valid
Belief is a propositional attitude. Since
all propositional attitudes are valid even when they are attached to
erroneous propositions, then the concept of belief cannot be very useful for
the specification of knowledge. Belief is a product of the same processes
that yield propositions. But belief is not necessarily determined by
justification, not even by valid justification. Is belief then arbitrary? Do
we believe what we want to believe and not what justification, i.e., our
cognitive processes, tells us to believe? Since all belief as belief is
valid whatever the proposition it attaches to, then belief is indeed
different from justification or validation. It would then seem as if belief
were a subject for philosophy of mind, i.e., in the same category as
affects, selfhood, and volition.
The categories or types of propositions
(a) factual propositions, which include
four subtypes or dependent variables: perceptual, perception-based,
introspective, and scientific propositions;
(b) logical and mathematical
propositions, which are not identical but sufficiently similar--mainly
because of the inferential process involved--to justify one single type;
(c) interpretative propositions, which
include the subtypes imaginary; normative propositions; all the dependent
variables of creative or artistic propositions, including myths; certain
belief-ascriptions, i.e., certain cases of propositional attitudes; and
All propositions are inferential and
there are three basic types of inferences: inductive or rational, apodictic
or logical, and interpretative or loose inference. Only logical and
mathematical inferences are apodictical.
The inability to equate cognition and
knowledge is analogous but only analogous to the fallacy of equating meaning
and knowledge. Whereas cognition cannot be equated to knowledge because of
the fallibility of our cognitive processes, meaning cannot be equated with
knowledge because it is the defining quality of our mental states and in
itself does not imply a distinction between what is knowledge and what is
not knowledge. To understand exactly the distinction between cognition and
knowledge we have to go over the typology of propositions category by
category. Keeping in mind that perception is mostly past perception, I can
believe or disbelieve perception, but it will not change my perception one
iota. Normally, there is no question of my disbelieving what I perceive, but
the issue could come up, e.g., as in recalling and having actual doubts
about a preposterous event I witnessed. The same cognitive processes that
make my perception undeniably knowledge, could lead me to doubt the validity
of my perception. In the case of logico-mathematical propositions and
apodictic inferences, there is no question of transactionality. Or rather,
ideally there should be no use for transactionality, yet, given the frailty
of intellect, logico-mathematical inferences gain by being checked out by
others. But this is not, strictly speaking, transactionality, which suggests
the interchange of different propositions. Verifying a mathematical result
is not an interchange but a repetition of steps, a parallel operation
involving two or more minds. There is no parallelism in transactionality.
Interpretative propositions are another
matter altogether, for here cognition does not necessarily yield valid
propositions and there is no universal agreement also on the validity of
interpretations. Here is where the concepts of transactionality, the
historicity of knowledge, and vox historiae come fully into play.
We should clear up one point.
Transactionality, as we saw, is pertinent to perception-based propositions.
But perception-based propositions are valid whereas the definition of
interpretations is that they are controversial. Are we talking here of two
types of transactionality? Transactionality we defined in simple terms as
the exchange of information. Transactionality in the case of
perception-based propositions consists in the complementarity of factual
propositions. What is transactionality in the case of interpretations? It
certainly is not factual complementarity. For the moment, the best we can do
is to say that interpretative transactionality is one of the possible
definitions of vox historiæ, i.e., the solution that we envision to
the problem of the validation of interpretations.
If induction is considered the scientific
mode of deduction par excellence, then induction can hardly apply to
interpretations. And if probabilities that refer to the future or to the
present--and by present we mean a "short-term", relative delimitation of the
past--involve facts and can be considered a form of deferred factuality,
probability that refers to the past, beyond all possible delimitation of the
present, can never be validated, and since we can argue that probability is
not a type of proposition but an epistemic property of certain propositions,
then past probability is only a property of interpretations and, once again,
interpretations posit the problem of their validation and of their condition
The development of this point involves
particularly the concept of vox historiae as a set of valid
propositions on the assumption that all valid propositions can be used
epistemically, e.g., recognition from our memory of a face.
Here's where we have to consider the
different positions that exist on the validation of interpretations. These
positions are roughly to be found in Eco, Habermas, Clayton, Plantinga, and
All these positions will be found to be
wanting. But this critique does not mean that it may not be possible to
validate interpretations, possibly including the ways encompassed or defined
in the positions. The point is that there are no inevitable or necessary
steps to the validation of interpretations.
Having gone this far, we embark on our
thesis on the validation of interpretations. A failure common to all the
previous positions and attitudes towards interpretations is that they
neglect the historicity of knowledge. What exactly is the historicity of
knowledge? It refers to the way that knowledge is affected by being a part
of the historical process. To be able to develop this approach, it is
(a) to define history, and more
particularly, to distinguish between the concepts of history and of time;
(b) to identify within history public,
collective cognitive processes.
Time is undefinable, if we except
clock-time. It is the one inevitable accompaniment of being. If history were
time, then it would embrace all of reality, and such simply is not the case.
In theory, all events are connected to all other events, but this cannot be
demonstrated. History is, in effect, what historiography defines as history,
and this is the partial history comprising public, collective events, i.e.,
those that have some social significance. Even though history and time may
be different concepts, history is not only possible only from time but it is
as close or as related to time as any discipline or any temporal sequence
can be--all disciplines are historical, but history cannot be made part of
any discipline different from itself--and since knowledge is temporal, then
it can be argued that the best approach to the understanding of knowledge,
outside of the propositional process of mind itself, is through or from
history. The idea that even though there have been blind alleys in the
search for scientific truth the general tendency of Western science has been
progressive and expansive, is a strong argument for the historicity of even
The historicity of knowledge cuts in two
directions. In one direction, knowledge cannot be separated from its
historical context. Such being the case, then knowledge is a process, and if
it is a process, it can change, and that it changes means that what was
knowledge at one point in time can cease being knowledge at a later point in
time. In another direction, if knowledge cannot be separated from its
historical context, then somehow it is history itself that determines or
defines what is knowledge and what is not knowledge. But how can history
"determine" or "do anything at all"? Although this is an unwarranted
personification, the fact remains that the historicity of knowledge somehow
implies that history in some manner defines knowledge and the extent of
knowledge. How can this be explained or justified? Right off the bat, we
have to bring back onstage the propositions that inferences participate in
cognitive processes, i.e., they enter or interact with basic-cog's to derive
valid propositions. Our concern is the validation of interpretations, so
which inferences are we talking about?
Since our avowed objective is to
demonstrate how it is from the historicity of knowledge that we can validate
interpretations, the inferences that we must look for are inferences that
relate to history. Since the problem with interpretations is the lack of
sufficient facts or other valid propositions, then these inferences cannot
be the facts of history themselves, and so it stands to reason that they
must be inferences about history, and obviously not about all
history, but about public, collective cognitive processes.
Epistemology and ontology are inseparably linked. Such a position is subjective realism.
Surrealism is the claim that man can be illogical expressed as an artistic and principally literary program or manifesto
Whatever one writes or says always means something else beyond its "consensual" literalness. This tendency is elevated to method in art and as such it is called metaphor. An allegory is a plot built on serial, related metaphors. In fact, all literature is a series of metaphors. The only thing that is not strictly speaking metaphorical is the instant of perception and even here, since perception is not encapsulated, there is room for debate.
The reasoning that applies to surrealism applies to literature as metaphor.
What do we mean by saying that something is surreal?
(1) It is what a group of early 20th century writers, mainly French--Breton, Apollinaire, Aragon, et al --wrote and called surrealism.
(2) Surreal is the impossible attempt to overcome logical thought.
(3) It is finally any work of art that does away with certain genre conventions within the genre itself.
In the case of movies, the conventions are the constraints of perception or of the conditions of life such as the dead not walking about. Surrealist works could as accurately be termed unconventional as surrealistic. There are other serviceable adjectives: whimsical, fantastic, imaginative, farfetched, bizarre, absurd, fanciful, and so on. But since surrealism the movement never pretended to restrict the use of surreal to surrealistic works and since the verbal substitutes for "surreal" can as well apply to surrealistic as to non-surrealistic works, then the extension of the meaning, beyond surrealism the literary movement, is in fact perfectly legitimate. Moreover, since so-called surrealistic works are not fundamentally different from realistic works for all metaphorical purposes, then the term surrealism is just as usable as any of the others for works which fulfill conditions (2) and (3).
There is a danger here and that is that if we follow this reasoning to its extreme we would have to conclude that all narrative works, just to keep things manageable, are surreal, and this may be going too far. A middle position must be possible which need not take us back to the strict surreal/surrealism difference. We can be latitudinarian in the use of surreal, especially in such works as Ed and his dead mother , which have a more than passing similarity to surrealism. But in those works where the similarity is absent it is best to restrict the use of surreal. And even where the similarity is present, surreal should be avoided for it can become a crutch to escape difficult specifications.
If we want to be consistent with our metaphor/surrealism comparison, then we must say that there must be a middle ground between allegory and non-allegorical works, even though both are metaphorical in essence. An allegory is a work that is not only metaphorical but that also makes no pretence of being other than metaphorical. Hence, unlike, say, a Zola novel, it does not make concessions to the convention of novel-writing. But what we are really looking for is what we found before in relation to movies: simply refuse to call a work allegorical and be as specific as possible in characterizing it. A perfect illustration of this is a Kafka novel. What is it? It is not surrealism. And it is not allegorical although it is all metaphor. It is in sum Kafkean.
There are differences between literature and film. Because of the nature of the technique involved, film is necessarily forced to respect certain features of experience, whereas verbal descriptions can take all kinds of liberties. A film is a form of synthesis. Written works, although comparative simplifications of life, are vastly more complex and variegated. Therefore, even though both film and say novel are built on sequences of metaphors and even though in both genres it is possible to have overarching metaphors or consistency in the use of metaphors, it remains that in works of fiction the profusion and the complexity of metaphors is greater.
"Syllogism. There are traditionally
considered to be four forms that such categorical propositions can take.
If S and P are terms, the categorical propositions with S as subject are
`All S are P', `No S are P', `Some S are P', and `Some S are not P'."
El silogismo nos permite con
el uso de el valor intermedio `c', establecer una relación de identidad
entre `a' y `b', en el sentido clásico de a = c, c = b, y a = b.
See also Inference
Synonymy implies one and only one word for each item in the universe. Synonymy is the death of singularity/style. The denial of synonymy is the affirmation of incommunicability, and so on and on with absurd deductions. Communication, like knowledge, is a transaction, and that is as close as we can get to synonymy, which is a purely lexical concept anyway.
Synonymy is the linguistic equivalent of identity. Quine denies its possibility. Synonymy from a realistic perspective is equivalence but not substitution.
Syntax is not necessarily logical. Logical propositions are bound by strict rules of derivation. But no such strict rules apply to syntax. Syntax is the rationalization of linguistic meaning. We can understand the sequence "go mountain man up", but syntax structures the rational sequence "the man goes up the mountain". But syntax does not oblige us to express thought in one and only one necessary sequence. We can express the same thought in sentences with different forms, e.g., we painted this house or this house was painted by us. Logic, on the other hand, is a necessary sequence of symbols. The syntax/logic equivalence is an unjustified extension of the analytico-logical concept of syntax. Thought exhibits both type of sequences, e.g., the sequence of a philosophical argument or the sequence in a mathematical derivation.
Does the fact that it is natural language and only natural language that can grasp and express other syntaxes in any way affect these syntaxes? Self-evidently, since these syntaxes are not tokened in any way other than that of natural language, it is conceivable that their expression could in some manner be tainted by all the shortcomings of language and its use--assuming as we must these shortcomings--but this is by no means to disqualify their possible accuracy: we simply have no other means, but linguistic means are perfectible in individual cases, and this is all we have to go by and must go by.
Synthetic a priori
"Kant condemned transcendent metaphysics [I assume realism and Platonism] on the grounds that it wrongly attempted to apply the categories beyond the bounds of possible experience, but took synthetic a priori truths to be descriptions of the conditions of possible experience--true of the world, but antecedent to experience and derivable from reflection alone. The Vienna Circle condemned transcendent metaphysical assertions on the grounds of their unverifiability, and held mundane necessary propositions to be analytic truths--true by virtue of the meaning of words."
Synthetic a priori propositions, unlike analytical propositions, which do not go beyond their meaning, contain real knowledge of the world but are not subject to the vagaries and distortions of experience. Metaphysics should aim at this sort of propositions. Ordinary experience and science can be expressed in synthetic a posteriori proposition.