The Vienna-Circle doctrine that propositions contain their own conditions of verification. It
includes the additional and quite insensate claim that propositions that cannot be verified are meaningless. In sum, it is a chiastic compound of semantics and epistemology. Wittgenstein admitted he had gone through a verificationist phase in his thought and had surpassed it after realizing that the sensory or perceptual paradigm of truth cannot be verified.
Let us take the specific case of the proposition "Bolivar liberated Venezuela". For this proposition to be meaningful its three terms must be meaningful in themselves and they must validly stand to each other in the relation expressed by the proposition. Bolivar and Venezuela are existents. Liberation is possible. However, that Bolivar liberated Venezuela is an ambiguous proposition which is closer to an act of patriotism than to a statement of fact. But does this mean that the proposition is meaningless? When verificationism claims that it is the realization of truth conditions that confers meaning on propositions, this can only be interpreted realistically in reference to language rather than in reference to reality.
The proposition "Bolivar liberated Venezuela" is valid or true in reference to language. In reference to history it is highly debatable.
All propositions have to be the product of cog-processes. No matter how you consider mind, even if you deny that mind can be known at all, propositions must have a source, and the source has to be the processes by which they are formulated. To say in addition that these processes are cognitive is to pile truism on truism. The verificationist claims that propositions contain their own conditions of verification and that they are meaningfully to the extent to which those conditions are verified or realized, has to allude to the cog-processes from whose operations propositions emanate. Propositions about perception are the result or the product of the rules of perception, or possibly only of the rules of logic and of memory. These rules are the ultimate conditions necessary for propositions to be true and meaningful. But does the utterer
of a proposition have to be acquainted with the rules of perception,
logic, and memory to utter a proposition that is meaningful and true? The answer, we believe, is self-evident.
(A) A group of thinkers that was formed
immediately after the First World War on the basis of certain shared ideas
about knowledge and the means to have it. The ideas they shared were
monistic and orbited around empiricism, logic, and science. To the extent
that they were philosophers, they were trying to debunk metaphysics and to
put philosophy on a par with science. Wittgenstein influenced these
thinkers and was to a considerable degree a cohesive force, but in the end
he could not reconcile their views with his own fundamental scepticism
about logic and philosophy. Quine inherited some of their
concerns--particularly with logic and science--but he was hardly sanguine
about the possibilities of philosophy. The Vienna Circle is associated
with the doctrines of verificationism, logical atomism, empiricism, and
the unity of science.
(B) From Hamlyn
"The Vienna Circle asserted that the
meaning of a proposition was its method of verification...The history of the
logical positivist movement is largely a history of arguments about what
[this proposition] means. But they were all agreed that all meaningful
propositions must be either logically necessary (that is, analytical) or
verifiable in some way by reference to experience."
See also Physicalism
Propositions "determine" behaviour. All propositions are "specific". Specific propositions "determine" behaviour. The specific propositions that determine behaviour are the result of "propositional clash". Volition is related to behaviour. If we assume that behaviour comprises thought, then volition is nothing more than the succession of specific propositions. Volition as manifest in physical behaviour, e.G., Smoking or not smoking, is the product of the specific propositions that result from propositional clash. It is the "predominance" of certain specific propositions. There is no such thing as volition.
The specific self is constituted by
specific propositions. Volition is continuity and directedness. If there
is volition, it must involve every action and every thought and every
action and every thought must be for a purpose. We live from one instant
of awareness to another instant of awareness--except of course when we
sleep, and even then cognition goes on operating--and this succession
appears to be somehow "directed". Directedness implies a source. This
source has to be the self. Volition must involve the specific self. Just
as cognitive theory alone cannot account for belief, so it cannot account
for volition. But volition must be explained in propositional terms. There
is no volition different from cognitive processes involving the specific
propositions that constitute the specific self.
The instantaneity of awareness means that
cognitive processes are subconscious. Our thoughts are the result of
subconscious cognitive processes. If such is the case and volition is
cognitive and propositional, then volition too is the result of subconscious
cognitive processes. The unity of self, which is the mere instantaneous
awareness of the specificity of self, does not and cannot contribute
anything to volition over and above cognitive processes.
Since there is not break or cęsura in the
flow of thought, volition can be nothing more than each individual thought.
However, the specificity of self and the specificity of all propositions
disqualify the possibility that the subconsciousness of cognitive processes
Volition like belief is the result of the
specificity of cognition. Volition refers to the propositions that emanate
from the orientation that the specificity of self imposes on the basic
processes of cognition. Since volition is directedness and behavior is
towards something, we can presume that it is volition that links cognition
to conscious, physical action.
Although we can believe without
necessarily having to act on our beliefs, the ultimate evidence for belief
is behaviour. We dare to drive a car through heavy traffic because we
believe in the yields of perception, ours and others'. We do mathematical or
logical derivations because we believe in the axioms of formal systems.
Volition then insofar as it is directedness as conscious, physical action is
determined by belief. But we cannot say it is always so determined because
volition is also the continuity and directedness of thought.
Behavior is mental and physical. It can
be conscious or unconscious. Assuming intention, behavior can ensue, but if
it doesn't, the intention might not for all that disappear. The frustration
of motivation could be a momentary circumstance which only postpones actual
physical behavior, like a thief who lets a policeman round a corner before
getting on with his job. Objectively, it is only conscious, physical
behavior that, in the absence of the expression of a purpose or intention,
can relate behavior to belief.
Arguably, volition and belief are
equivalent. The self and cognition are constituted by propositions. Belief
can but need not attach to propositions. It would appear from these
arguments as if volition were constituted exclusively by propositions to
which we attach belief. But in fact volition is present in each of the
propositions of awareness. The definition of volition as continuity and
directedness would seem to belie a possible equivalence between volition and
belief. Volition is not paradigmatically manifest in physical behaviour. It
is manifest in all our thoughts and through its manifestation in awareness
it can in turn be manifest in behaviour. Belief and volition overlap in
The specific propositions that cognition
yields are the result of the internal and external stimulation of
interactive cognitive processes. Specific propositions "interact" and in
this interaction certain specific propositions "emerge" as "predominant".
Cognition distinguishes between propositions which are valid and
propositions which are not necessarily valid. Perceptual propositions are
usually incontestable. However, it is possible for, e.g., logic to "correct"
perceptual yields. This is the meaning of cognitive interaction.
Self-evidently, interpretations are more subject to "interaction" than,
e.g., perceptual yields. But all propositions are subject to the same
cognitive processes. From these processes emerge all specific propositions.
Insofar as behaviour involves propositions and volition is propositional all
specific propositions are volitional. But insofar as volition is manifest in
physical behaviour the "determinant" propositions are a manifestation both
of volition and of belief.
It is in awareness that continuity and
directedness are manifest. Consequently, there is a tendency to identify
awareness and volition. If we posit the subconscious cognitive system,
willing would indeed seem to be all that awareness does. But since awareness
is engendered by the subconscious cognitive system, it is also impossible
for awareness to be the specification of volition as the cause of behavior.
The final cause of action appears to lie in the subconscious interactive
processes of cognition. If volition as the presumed source of action cannot
be specified outside of the propositionality of mind and it is not
necessarily manifest only or principally in physical behaviour, what
distinguishes volition from the specificity of cognition? If volition is
continuity and directednes and these are what our specific subconscious
cognitive processes determine, volition is only specific to the extent that
mind is about the specificity of self and cognition. Nothing it would seem
distinguishes volition from the specificity of self and cognition.
Vox historiae (VH)
My claim for VH is that it is a set of valid propositions that may not enhance the cognitive faculties as such but that could help the cognitive faculties in the justification of interpretations. In other words, for the validation of interpretations, squiggles necessarily recur to VH. Our further claim then is that VH is not just an interpretation: we claim that it is actually something that we have a tendency to do in the face of interpretative propositions.
This, the historicity of knowledge, is the crux of the matter!
The temporality of knowledge is at the root of its
"iffiness". History is the denial of the iffiness of knowledge, but not history in an abstract sense, but history in the specific sense of vox historiae. VH necessarily implies a philosophy of history. History is the becoming of being. And since history is also the becoming of knowledge, then being and knowledge are the same thing, i.e., end of dualism.
From philosophy of history and the concept of vox historiae we can argue for determinism. But is there an actual compelling reason to do so? Truth is
"unique": there cannot be different truths on the same specific issue. Can there be two different but equally valid propositions on the same specific issue at the same time? Hardly! What there can be is one valid proposition now and other valid propositions before and later. On issues which admit this possibility, all we have is consensus although it should be expected that there is to be one final consensus, perhaps the actual consensus. But validity cannot be multiple on same issues. If this is the case, then we can discard contrafactuality--say, this is the answer but this could be or could have been the answer--and we can discard as well the thesis that history has no "meaning". In fact from vox historiæ , we have firm grounds on which to argue for a direction of history, if not for the ends of history. This implies determinism.
Given the many difficulties surrounding the thesis that a historical consensus can validate propositions--how can we make the condemnation of genocide a mere historical norm?--it would not be amiss to explore the that the validation of controversies is VH+. What is the plus? Since we have not had qualms on using the concept of consensus to define knowledge, why not assume a consensus in ethics? This could take the form of a historical survey of ethical doctrines. This is somewhat stronger than VH but not totally different from it.
The idea of vox historiæ cannot be understood without the concept of collective awareness. It is not what I think or what you think or what he thinks that is valid. It is not even a question of a show of hands, because you can have majority views that are wrong and minority views that are right. Vox historiæ is what emerges as valid from the collective awareness of all justifiable views on the different aspects of the totality of being. Since collective awareness is what makes possible the totality of being, then vox historiæ is constituted by "statements" of collective awareness about itself, but only those statements which, through a complex process of collation and conflation, can sustain a claim on validity. The statements that constitute vox historiae are direct individual views on the aspects of reality as well as individual views on those views. In other words, there is no actual statement of vox historiæ as such, as there cannot be a statement of collective awareness, although of course there can be all kinds of collective statements. The process by which vox historiæ emerges from collective awareness is the central theme of epistemology, once the fundamental bases of validity and truths are laid, or once these fundamental concepts are delimited.
H. Putnam, The many faces of realism: The Paul Carus lectures (1987)
"Habermas and Apel claim--and I agree--that the notion of warranted or justified statement involves an implicit reference to a community...The idea of a statement whose complete and final warrant is wholly available to the speaker himself no matter what happens--or of a speaker who neither needs nor can benefit from the data of others--is precisely the old notion of knowledge which is private and incorrigible. The interesting thought is that if Peirce and Wittgenstein are right...and private knowledge and incorrigible knowledge are empty and fallacious ideas, then there can be no such thing as a statement which is true (or, at any rate, a statement which is true humanly speaking, i.e. capable of withstanding all possible attempts to falsify it) unless there is the possibility of a community of testers or, at any rate, critics...Still, one may say that it is possible to recognize the value of having communities which obey an ethic of equality and intellectual freedom while at he same time not believing that those principles should be universalized."
In fact, it is the notion of external acceptability that can serve as the basis of justification: it doesn't have to be a community of enquirers, as Putnam is saying, but then his concern is not the acceptability but the agents of acceptability that matter in his argument. The acceptability idea is crucial in my opinion and the notion of community is a diversion. A community typically restricts innovation and imagination in favor of intelligibility and adequacy. If we expand "community" to "world" we have VH.