Cause, time, particulars and other notes arising from the AAP conference
Graham R Little PhD AFNZIM
© 2002 Graham Little
These notes are not intended to stand-alone. They are comments on the AAP conference, December 2001, to be read in relation to and derived from the papers at the web site.
All or nothing *
Cause and mechanism *
Time and change *
On properties of things *
Naturalistic epistemology *
On music appreciation and ontology *
Conceptual tools and social science *
The Australian Association of Philosophy conference in Auckland, December 2001 was my first such event. I was speaking almost by accident, but interested, the first presentation of the ideas developed over the last decade. These notes are in response to issues encountered at the conference, questions directly put at times, on other occasions discussions held informally. Before the notes and technical discussion, some observations of a general kind.
The quiet, almost genteel atmosphere was in contrast to the business conferences, to which I was used. Much nodding and listening, but a pervading impression of initiated speaking with initiated. Imagery of people, individuals and groups in rooms with high walls, attentive listening and fellowship, with much ‘but yes that is not my field’.
In one paper on the general and particular, and whether generalities exist, the comment was made by the speaker that applying a wide range of examples would probably undermine all current theories, when pressed if he had attempted that stated ‘no, I just stay with the examples used all the time in the literature’. Another occasion, on the same topic, it was offered that a general theory of psychology would address many of the issues, ‘yes,’ it was agreed, ‘but some issues would remain’. But no attempt had been made to conceptually clarify which is properly psychology, and needs await a general theory of the same, and what issues would remain to be considered and assessed as philosophy. In yet another discussion on properties of things, again no effort to relate to perception and on to psychology, the rooms and high walls took on the aura of defense and security. Each offered careful, almost ritualized respect within their room, but let’s not bangs on any walls, nor seek to climb and say ‘but that should be in that room, and this wall much lower’.
A different climate, but yet another ‘organization’, one with rules, rituals, defensive structures and turf definitions, no organization chart, but very definite pecking order and power systems. The parallels with the conventional organization and its games and nuances were quite clear. Understanding of any organization lies in first understanding the commercial and strategic paradigm that pervades it, this intertwined with power and authority, and explicit or subtle, often ill defined, the two often only making sense from the inside, most frequently only challenged from the outside.
So it is with this group, and if representative, so it is with philosophy.
The commercial challenge is often begun by examination of the goals, implicit and explicit. Is what is being pursued appropriate? Is it achievable in the current climate? When? And with what result? The questions needing to be driven home by one with the authority and often-personal power to make them stick and to make them be seriously addressed until the power system begins to see itself reflected in the answers. Any self-deceit and there is always self-deceit is stripped by the pressing and if needed brutal questions that have no regard for the people and their sensitivities. The questions are put soft, almost tenderly; no opportunity to dismiss the issue based poor presentation, no opportunity offered for reaction based on how it is said, and all emphasis on the content of what is said.
As I regarded the scene, the rooms and the people, what goals were being addressed here? And where details were being considered, such as general and particular, or the existence of properties, or musical ontology or cause and mechanism what and how and where did the particular relate to the greater intellectual issues and problems that pervade human thought?
There is no general theory of psychology generally accepted (this site outlines one such, but it is not accepted, despite I believe it to be accurate, and if not correct in detail, it is based on principles and conceptual process that is correct and so is a theory with the basics correct and with the right form and structure). There is no theory of the atom, or of radioactivity, the assumption that probability is intrinsic to the universe is pervasive and questionable, the precision and effectiveness of quantum electro dynamics crying out for explanation, the role of mathematics as a tool and predictor of the universe confounds attempts to explain it, and finally, cause, yet not to speak of consciousness, or perception or the problems and failings of the whole of epistemology based on the act of knowing.
So what was evident as being worked on? How did the goals and efforts on those goals relate to the broader issues and problems? I did not find it, only rooms, high walls and genteel respect lacking judgment.
Is it reasonable to expect in such a group the question I ask? Should they have perspective and balance born of breadth of issue and the place of their work in relation to the broader issues and problems?
In my country, New Zealand, with pressure on Government revenues, the question of relevance and impact becomes tied in my mind with cost priorities, the justification of one’s very existence. Teaching philosophy, but to what result? There is no sharp development of intellect on show, no development of breadth or perspective or encouraging even stretching. In fact in discussion with one senior student I happened to know, she stated she had decided to quit commerce (she had been marketing manager in a large international corporate) and selected philosophy due its irrelevance and lack of pressure of any real form.
I have no answers, but the questions crowd, and were I in a position of power and influence in the university system, were I a Professor of Philosophy or HOD, I would be undertaking some most serious strategic analysis, looking hard to reshape my organization to a harsher and more critical future market for the services offered. Something every CEO knows all too well, circumstances I suspect academe can only hold at bay for yet a little time. Were I that Professor I would hope it time enough.
All or nothing
"You are looking to create a theory of everything?" Robert Nola, Auckland University, December 2001, AAP conference presentation discussion.
The statement, as a question expressed concern with a hint of disbelief. Similar sentiments from a young philosopher from Cambridge, England who suggested, though without complete conviction, that by holding some issues constant other issues were then best handled one at a time.
My experience is that this simply does not work. First, at the core of all social science there is but one actor, people in their environment. Divisions past this point are arbitrary, conveniences to aid understanding, and while these aids should meet certain criteria of process, design and systematization they are and remain conveniences. They are our conceptual designs placed on the world and do not necessarily come to us from the world. Which means they are interrelated. This much seemingly agreed even by the young man from Cambridge.
So the question of all or nothing reduces to the issue of whether or not, in the absence of understanding, can assumptions be made on some issues enabling other issues to be resolved individually? The answer is ‘yes, provided the answers arising from work on the isolated issues will not be influenced by any future work on the issues assumed or held constant’. For example, in the absence of any agreed general theory of psychology, is it possible to determine upon questions of the nature and status of knowledge, how it comes to be, what it can and cannot tell us, etc?
To assume constancy of some items and then isolate and seek to resolve others depend on the issues assumed constant if resolved and understood, not then influencing the issues isolated and resolved within that isolation. For example, to seek solutions to questions on the nature of knowledge, in the absence of a general theory of psychology assumes that the development of a general theory of psychology will not influence understanding of knowledge and so will not influence the answers to the questions on knowledge developed in the absence of such a theory. The options seem to be first, that a general theory of psychology will tell us nothing of knowledge, this seems extreme, given that knowledge is created by people and as yet we have located no species that creates conceptual knowledge and shares it as we (no species yet located has university libraries or the equivalent). If it is then conceded that a general theory of psychology will influence answers on the issues of the nature and structure of knowledge, then to seek to isolate knowledge and answer the issues pertaining to knowledge requires that psychology be ignored, or assumptions made as to the nature of psychology and its relation to knowledge. In either of the latter, any answers to the issues of knowledge must be predicated on the future research that will develop a theory of psychology and the influence of that research on the understanding of knowledge. In short, in the absence of a general theory of psychology one can guess and play with knowledge, but not do work of certain value since the potential impact of a theory of psychology when finally created will always diminish the standing of the work.
Cause becomes embroiled in similar complexity. To seek the cause is to seek necessary antecedents. What can or do we know of any and all antecedents? All that we do and can know is through our knowledge of them. No matter how we examine things, no matter what we try or use, knowledge exists between the universe and us. Then is cause independent of our knowledge? Likely, but is our understanding of cause independent of our knowledge? No, it is not. If we fully understood knowledge, would this influence our understanding of cause? If our understanding of cause is knowledge, and if we properly and fully understood knowledge, then understanding of cause would and must be influenced by that understanding of knowledge. To claim otherwise is to claim that our understanding of cause is not knowledge, or that our understanding of cause does not depend on any future understanding of knowledge. Both situations seem to me to be untenable, though doubtless there are those who will pursue such devious argument.
What we know of cause can only be knowledge, what we know of knowledge can only be knowledge, therefore what we know of knowledge must influence how we perceive and understand knowledge and cause. Discussion of cause in the absence of a general theory of knowledge must proceed predicated on the potential impact of development of such a theory on our understanding of cause, that is understanding of variable, constant conjunction, antecedent, and so on.
We now have a general theory of cause, general theory of psychology, and general theory of knowledge linked in an interactive complexity, impossible to keep two constant and deal with one, for answers to any one will influence the answers and understanding of the third.
The only process able to deal with this complexity being iterative, with any potential solution to one issue being carried around the loop to explain and understand the other two. If a theory of one does not flow and unravel into understanding of the other two then that theory must be held in most cautious regard.
If a conceptual system were developed that offered explanation of the three, what would then be also explained?
Physics is knowledge, therefore the relation physics theories make with the universe, can only be specific examples of the general issue of the relation all knowledge makes to the universe. It follows that any interpretation of quantum electro dynamics, in the absence of a general theory of knowledge is no more than guess work and speculation. Within physics, mathematics is generally used as the tool to lead the conceptualization process (E=mc² was written long before it was discovered). Why is this so, why should any aspect of knowledge be able to so parallel the universe? Is it intrinsic to the universe, or to our knowledge of it? We only know the universe via our knowledge of it; therefore the question has validity, resolving all three will impact this question and our understanding of it.
What are the antecedents of consciousness, and of our psychology? What can we know of human behavior and what can we ever predict? All these issues embedded in the complexity.
If we unravel understanding of knowledge within the framework of the complexity, such that cause and psychology are also understood, then this system is likely to offer direction as to what exists; this on the basis that knowledge arises partly from our psychology, and partly from the fundamental structure of the universe. To argue otherwise is to argue that the universe has no influence on our creation of knowledge. This to me seems unlikely, at very least it must be conceded that the universe influences our knowledge of it, this influence necessarily being defined and at least partly resolved within any adequate general theory of knowledge. Thus there is the real potential that resolving the complexity will resolve issues of ontology, and if so, then address fundamental issues on how and in what manner time exists and whether or not there is a thing called space-time.
Cause, knowledge, psychology, consciousness, quantum mechanics, time, and conceptualization all impacted, all influenced, and all partly necessarily unraveled by resolving the complexity of a general theory of psychology, cause and knowledge.
I see little choice that the issues will be and can only be resolved together. Separately, the interrelatedness will constantly undermine any work that isolates any variable, for to isolate one-issue forces assumptions as to the others, and those assumptions will always be suspect and uncertain awaiting the development of the theory offering understanding beyond the assumptions. There will always be the nagging doubt ‘but what if the assumptions be wrong’, and there will always be counter assumptions that lead in different directions, and in the absence of understanding judgment is left the loser.
We either create a theory of everything or speculate and build towers on sand.
Cause and mechanism
When we say such and such ‘caused’ such and such to happen what do we mean? So much has been written on the question that one would think nothing new could be said. My position is as follows.
- When we say A caused B it expresses the view that an immediate change in A results in B (where A and B are events).
- Where C intervenes in Aè B, then the immediate effect of a change in A is a change in C which then causes a change in B. The change Aè B is an ultimate effect, with underlying immediate effects Aè C and Cè B.
- By successively elucidating the effect of such immediate changes in A, we can unravel the mechanism whereby the change in A results in B.
- We are left with the issue of what caused the change in A?
- My position again is that there is other A’, and the change in A’ resulted in the change in A.
- To seek some ultimate cause is to pursue an infinite regress.
- We cannot know the ultimate cause, we can only achieve ‘sufficient cause’, that is explanation of the mechanisms that serve whatever purpose and are sufficient for the purpose.
- All the above describes the physical universe, dominated by scientific laws, described by mechanisms. If we know the mechanism and if we know forthcoming inputs from the environment of the system under study, then we can and do predict the system with great accuracy. The solar system is a case in point. We expect the sun to rise tomorrow not because it rose yesterday and the day before, but because we know the mechanism, we know the immediate environment of the system, and we know there is nothing going to stop the sun coming up, pleased as I am to be able to say that.
- Our conceptual structures then parallel the mechanism of the universe, and then by determining the inputs to a system, we can model and predict that system, and so explore the causality of the system.
- We also know that knowledge exists independent of the physical universe. The mechanisms of the universe simply are. All such mechanisms have their own internal dispositions; our exploring of the cause is the unraveling of those and constructing models that parallel the dispositions.
- A tree grows via cells, etc, the universe does not know there are cells, and the tree just does as it evolved to do.
- The universe does not know ‘cause’, the universe in total, or any sub system of it merely follows the disposition inherent within it.
- We seek explanation, not the universe. We seek to know why, the universe is not able to ask the question, merely do as it is predisposed to do.
- This sharply divides mechanisms of Reality, from our understanding of those mechanisms. It is crucially important to keep the two quite separate.
- When we ask ‘what caused B?’ we can now offer the explanation of the causality, offer sufficient cause, by describing how the environment to A influenced A inducing a change, A’è A, this perturbation then traveling through C, resulted in B. We understand the mechanism, the inputs and the outcomes.
- We may want to know from whence came the initial perturbation? But at some point we will have to forego further asking of that question, since the additional information and understanding gained is not worth the effort in securing that information. We can only ever have sufficient cause as a matter of principle, we need get used to it.
- This analysis leads to a definition of cause, as the relation between the initial observation Aè B, and the mechanistic understanding Aè Cè B. We can say that the cause of Aè B is Aè Cè B. The cause of the ultimate effects is the underlying immediate effects (following the terminology of W. Ross Ashby). Technically, then cause is something we seek, and is defined as a relation between classes of relation between classes of events.
- All the foregoing applies to the physical universe, in the absence of Thought.
- I have at this site established a theory of psychology and epistemology where the statement Ideasè Behavior is legitimate and accurate. It means that ideas are part of the mechanism whereby our behavior comes to be. In short, ideas cause behavior, or are at least one of the causal factors.
- We now have the possibility that were the universe left to its internal mechanisms, Aè B, but some person decided that did not suit them, so they influenced the circumstances, so that Aè D.
- We can now ask: what caused D?
- We can say, that Joe and Helen thought D more appropriate than B, so did E and F such that A became D, not B.
- It is now crucial to understand that the factor intervening in Aè B is the idea. It is not the mechanism whereby the idea comes to be, nor the mechanism of how the idea translates into action; it is the idea itself in the mind of Joe and Helen and acted out by them that changed the universe.
- This is the general impact of intelligence on the universe namely the potential to make happen things that if the universe left to its own internal mechanism would not happen.
- Asking about cause where people are involved is to enquire about intent and motive. This as we all know is far more complex than figuring out the mechanism and environmental inputs to a system like the solar system, which is why we have understood the solar system for much, much longer than we have understood people.
- The final comment is on truth. Within the ideas developed here there is no guide or principle or process whereby truth is made evident. We only have judgment, and best judgment is based on as broad a range of inputs, carefully considered as is possible. That is not to say best judgment is collective, since collective judgment tends to the lowest common denominator.
Time and change
- In analyzing the nature of the differentiation necessary for perception to be possible, three types of differentiation were identified.
- Spatial. The location of events in space.
- Aesthetic. The properties of all events, except location in space.
- Dynamic. The flow of change through the system, as evidenced in the changes in the properties of events, including changes in location.
- The hypothesis is that no other types of differentiation are needed to account for all that is or can be perceived (since this analysis includes machines that translate events not able to affect our perception into events that can).
- So what then is time?
- Length, for example, is a variable that measures distance. Length itself does not exist physically it is an idea. What do exist are specific instances of length, such as the length of this stick, or distance from Greymouth to New York. Length then is a tool we use to make specific and consistent measures of distance.
- With dynamic differentiation, that is change, and sequences of change such as to form constant conjunctions, there is and must be periods between events. That is, a delay between A, being A, and then the occurrence of B. We can and do measure these periods between in precisely the same manner as we measure distance. The variable we use we call time.
- Even random events, for some location there will be a delay between the sighting of one, and then the other.
- Time thus exists in the universe in precisely the same manner as length. One measures the period between events, the other the distance between events. They are both tools developed by us to give precise and consistent measure to our observations.
- This means that time is not in and of itself intrinsic to the universe. What are intrinsic are periods between events, and these are not the same for all observers, and in fact depending on relative location the timing of the events could be reversed.
- Space is intrinsic to the universe, but time is of quite a different nature and does is not intrinsic to the universe in the same manner as space. It follows that to talk of space-time is to confuse entities with very different relations to the universe, the one intrinsic, the other an arbitrary tool to measure an intrinsic aspect.
- In this discussion the question was raised that time was somehow being ‘slipped into’ the analysis when change is included. Is change time?
- If we imagine a universe without change, the universe as a painting. Such a universe would be timeless. Only within the mind of an observer is there change in such a universe, and only within that change are there events and periods between those events. So within the universe as a painting, the only time is that afforded the universe by the observer. That is, I was here, then some time later I was there, etc. By counting at some regular rate, the observer could then create a measure of the passage of time, but without this, in the absence of all other change, there can be no time.
- Change is not time, change is merely change, and it is a change in perceived properties of things. Only with change, with a difference between properties at two points, with A becoming B is there introduced into the universe periods between events, between A and B.
On properties of things
- During casual discussion at the conference a young philosopher from Cambridge discussed his paper, one on the properties of things and whether or not they were continuous, or constant. Say redness.
- First, let us place the whole issue in some perspective. The problem is a specific and detailed consideration with respect to aesthetic differentiation, a question on the properties of events.
- If we take ‘redness’, for example. Events are that immediately perceived (note this is given precise definition in the papers) by the observer. In the case of redness, this means that the observer interacts with photons of a certain type, and that the perceiving mechanisms of the observer perform normally, that is there is no abnormality in their function. Then two people perceiving the same photons under the same light conditions would perceive the same color.
- Is then a function of the ‘event’? No, not alone. It is a function of the interaction of the circumstances of the universe that is able to affect our physiology with similar physiology in different people; the result is that they ‘see’ similar things.
- If we now add the element of full interpretation of the event, then the person will interpret the color as ‘red’ or ‘pinkish’ etc based on their culture, upbringing and general history. It is with interpretation that we introduce ‘borrowed knowledge’ (Ashby) to a situation, that is knowledge derived from prior circumstance applied to the current circumstance.
- With full interpretation, then the view of what they each saw could begin to diverge, this because they would each bring different borrowed knowledge to the event.
- How does this then relate to the continuity of properties of events?
- If the universe produces similar perceptual fields in two situations, then what we will perceive will be similar (given similar neural functioning). What is constant is the perceptual field, not our interpretation.
- The hypothesis is that all properties can be analyzed in the same manner.
- Mass as the number of particles, entropy as the distribution of energy between available energy states, so generally entropy directs the universe to degrade. Certainly this is so without irreversibility.
- Things like ‘particles’ are themselves some level of interpretation. However, it is reasonable to posit that these are ‘of’ the universe, and so not our imagined interpretation. There seems to be something there, although we have not necessarily grasped it as well as we might like. That being so, it is reasonable to then posit that ‘mass’ is a property of the ‘amount of particles that is there’, and while we can seek to assess that, it is not really subject altogether to our interpretation. This is simply the problem of how we discuss something and stay as objective about it as we can. This is not simple, but we can if we are careful.
- Similar issues arose in discussion of the general versus the particular. Are universals truly generalities, or instances of particulars?
- This is already largely addressed above.
- All events are unique. That does not mean that the photons of the perceptual field that generates the event are unique, by that I mean they may well be indistinguishable from photons of some other perceptual field. It is the interaction, in this place at this time (measured in relation to the periods between events relative to ourselves, for example on our thirtieth and thirty fourth birthday) of the photons with our physiology that creates the unique event.
- In short, the mechanisms of the universe are well able and in fact will, under similar circumstances produce perceptual fields that are similar, and if we then interact with that perceptual field we will perceive those regularities of the universe.
- Does this mean ‘redness’ exists? In as much that any idea exists, yes ‘redness’ exists. That is, in interaction with certain types of photons what I will see will be ‘redness’. And given all the mechanisms normally functioning, I will then always see redness under those circumstances. What ‘exists’ in the universe are photons with certain properties able to interact with our physiology. An event ‘redness’ arises as a result of that interaction.
- But equally, each time I see the redness here and now, it is a unique and singular experience for me.
- One commentator, called Ben, put it that I was merely offering another "naturalistic epistemology". Several elements were apparent in the comment.
- First was the obvious attempt to categorize and so dismiss. This being a function of rooms with high walls, and propensity to intellectual laziness.
- Second, was the implicit acceptance of that which had gone before, a lack of rigor in seeing the serious limitations of epistemology based on ‘to know’.
- Third was the implicit lack of overview, a factor already noted and commented upon. Putting inadequate existing epistemology in perspective, locating the issues and problems within the greater pattern of existing thought and the most serious issues pervading that thought.
- Let’s begin with the notion that there is or can be ‘other epistemologies’.
- Unless it is argued there are different sorts of knowledge, then there will only be one epistemology, and that will be a general theory of knowledge that offers appropriate understanding of knowledge and it relationship to our psychology and to the universe.
- This current dichotomy of ‘internal’ and ‘external’ epistemology is simply nonsense. Neither is right, and neither is wrong, they are both simply inadequate and unable to explain all the phenomena related to knowledge.
- This raises the issue of application of judgment. Again it is long overdue we moved beyond inadequate conceptions based on empiricism, falsification, or verification. Each has some merit, but alone none adequately covers the range of situations encountered. And I would hope that Felipe Fernandez-Armesto’s delightful book Truth finally delivered the coup de grace to the idea that there is anywhere any form of rule or principle which when applied results in truth. Truth is and can only ever be an act of judgment – and as much as anything the one thing lacking at this conference were sharp acts of judgment based on adequate tactical and strategic overviews of intellectual circumstance.
- The literature on the ‘internal’ epistemology based on ‘to know’, on truth and verisimilitude, on falsification and verification is enough to fill several libraries. If it can be said it has been said, again and again and… Perhaps is time to recognize this simple fact. These ideas, these intellectual positions are dead ends, they are finished, worked out, over, no good, had it, poked, f**ked. This applies to discussions of judgment based on traditional views of truth and verisimilitude, the ‘internal’ and much of the ‘external’ views on epistemology, and discussions of science rooted in empiricism, verification or falsification.
- It is the lack of perspective that roots academe into these dead ends, comfort zones supported by the editorial policy of journals, the publishing policy of the academic publishers where the key is to print books by the initiated for the initiated, and sell enough to make a dollar. This likely overstates the case, but the problems of the social structure of the world’s intellectual endeavors, and the conforming pressures of those social structures are as yet problems given little weight or attention. Yet they are all encompassing and all powerful elements, and better ideas do not naturally out, it is a fight through the structure of vested interests and small minds protective of personal positions. Truth is the loser, despite the rhetoric.
- Where managers lose themselves in comforting paradigms and then go bankrupt, few have sympathy. Staying on top of the commercial paradigm currently dominating the business is the point of strategic reviews, few today would dare go more than two years without one, usually supported by vigorous input from without, since commerce has learned with some cost how paradigms viewed from within are self supporting and unlikely to change.
- Parallels, let us hope the point is not lost. But if it is, let us then hope public funding soon slashed.
- There can be only one epistemology, the right one, that addresses the detail and the strategic questions, that relates knowledge to human psychology and to human perception of the universe. That puts knowledge in perspective, and shapes for us the reality of judgment.
- It is unlikely this will be as suggested, the product of the collective effort of the many currently in epistemology. Paradigms to pronounced, thinking to circumspect, social structures to dominant.
- My favorite quote, though unfortunately I have mislaid the author, ‘I would not give a fig for simplicity this side of complexity but would give my right arm of simplicity the other side of complexity’. This is the core skill of the business entrepreneur, which is more than just going into business, but the Gates, or Gettys or Howard Hughes, and any who stride across complexity, resolving questions of product and market and channel and social trends, to build businesses that thrive.
- This same skill is for the philosopher and scientist seeking understanding beyond research and information. If this conference typical, then there is much that academe and philosophy needs learn from commerce of perspective and strategy and the relationship of detail with the overview, all drawn into simple practical programs for now where we negotiate reality, treading cautiously toward our goals.
On music appreciation and ontology
- This paper was the opening address and by Stephen Davies of Auckland University. This discussion differs from the others in that it provides a simpler alternative to the conceptual structure presented, one derived from the ideas of this philosophy.
- The focus was less on ontology and more on music appreciation. Music in all senses played, written, or implied by circumstance can be fully analyzed in terms of events. No special or extra factors are needed, the interpretation of music then able to be discussed in terms of ideas, emotions and perception, in the manner that all perceptual fields can be interpreted, assessed within the general theory of psychology as presented. Again, no special elements need be added.
- We can now ask: What factors would or could add to the appreciation of music?
- The following is an initial list, not intended to be complete, rather to convey the manner in which music can be interpreted.
- General music appreciation and understanding.
- Able to play music.
- A liking for music.
- Knowledge of music.
- Knowledge of this piece.
- Knowledge of the style of music.
- Liking for the style of music.
- Knowledge of the history of music.
- Knowledge of the history of music and the place of this style and this piece in that history.
- Knowledge of the performer or composer or both, and knowledge of this piece in their creative and performing development or both of their development.
- Awareness and understanding of the social circumstances of the piece and its part in the history of the society and current place.
- Clearly each of these could be detailed out more, and clearly there could be others. But this conveys the point. Understanding these items as nuances sensed in the mind and as adding complexity and depth to a piece.
- For some pieces, certain factors will add to the appreciation while not so for others. Each piece of music may well have some mix of the factors as that best for full appreciation.
- Some people may choose not to bother. So may well foreshorten their music appreciation. But with this there must be no musical elitism.
- It is solely a matter of choice, but choice rendered complete, as is all choice, in the understanding of the choice.
Conceptual tools and social science
- Given criticism of such things as falsification, verification, of the lack of judgment in science, with philosophy no exception, then it seems reasonable for me to be charged with the question what is science? And how is it to be progressed?
- The following comments arise from the views and theories at the site, and must be read in conjunction with those ideas.
- Science is a conceptual activity aimed broadly at achieving the following.
- Systematic conceptualization of the key variables of the universe, including the social universe.
- Establishing the relations between those variables, that is concepts of the structure Aè B where A, B describe a system under study, and the arrow describes a situation whereby a perturbation travels through the system, that is a change in A is immediately followed by a change in B (W. Ross Ashby, immediate and ultimate effects).
- The conceptualization of this flow of change is then ranked into conceptual levels, the levels then paralleling the mechanisms of the universe providing prediction and explanation.
- Various points follow immediately.
- The process is the conceptual construction of a model of the universe.
- There is clear distinction between the universe and its inherent mechanisms and our understanding and conceptualization of those mechanisms.
- Observation of Aè B offers no prediction and is merely a constant conjunction; this is Hume’s analysis of cause. But, where the arrow is able to be related to underlying variables and arrows, that is where Aè B is understood as an ultimate effects and the underlying immediate effects are known, then we know the mechanism of Aè B, and explanation and prediction is available.
- The model above of science in fact parallels the actual process of creating concepts that describe the dynamic universe, so the model of science is in fact a model of knowledge itself.
- The assumption is that our models of the universe can approach the actual mechanisms of the universe if we work hard enough at it.
- Judgment as to the best model of some system could be guided by factors such as:
- Whether or not it enables prediction of the events and outputs of the system under given conditions. Results can be verified, or attempts made to falsify, both are acceptable.
- Whether it leads to other questions and issues at the boundaries of this system with other systems.
- Whether it resolves the core issues and questions relating to the system.
- Whether the model explains without strain.
- Whether it leads on to other deeper questions.
- Whether it is consistent with other known and established models.
- Whether it is consistent with the general understanding of the system.
- There could be other guides to judgment, but this list is quite reasonable as a start point, and clearly extends considerably beyond simple ideas of empiricism, verification or falsification etc. It is rooted in the fundamental that science is and can only be conceptual modeling, and our judgments must reflect that.
- The ideas can be applied to quantum electro dynamics.
- It brilliantly predicts in mathematical form events in some very important systems of the universe.
- It does not integrate well with boundary systems, such as atomic radioactive disintegration nor with gravity.
- It offers a confused and debatable model of the universe.
- It assumes no internal structure of the particles it predicts, so cannot as a matter of principle offer further mechanism of those events involving that particle if such events did involve internal structure.
- It does not lead on to deeper understanding, and conceptually tends to block further understanding.
- The key to science is the creation of mechanistic explanation, the creation of models of the universe and how the change in A results in the change in B. In this process the variables of the universe must be used and applied directly, and this is simply not the case in QED.
- Conceptually QED it is of the same status as input-output relationships across a TV. You do not need the mechanisms merely need to know which knob to twist. It is a useful technology, but as science it is time it was properly seen as a dead end.
- In physics mathematics has been a powerful tool leading the conceptualization process. For example, Einstein’s equation for conversion of mass to energy was written before being discovered.
- It is a good question to ask why math should parallel the universe? I do not know whether or not math is intrinsic to the universe, but if the Ashby system of ultimate and immediate effects in any way reflects our conceptualization, then math is definitely integral to our concepts.
- Chemistry also has strong tools for leading the conceptualization process, but social science has not. There has been strong use of statistics, but these merely chart constant conjunctions, and can never lead on to mechanistic explanation and hence on to precise prediction.
- The process outlined here offers a suitable set of tools for social science, superior to those currently evident and being used. Application of the tools is illustrated in the development of a general theory of psychology.
- The tools also enable discussion of circumstances in a realistic and effective manner that does not become bound in questions unable to be answered.
- For example: The proposition Ideasè Behavior is a valid proposition in my epistemology. It says that ideas have an effect on behavior, the arrow describes the communication channel and the mechanism but we do not necessarily know exactly the nature of that mechanism. With this epistemology, perhaps the world would have been spared the naive trip through behaviorism. In effect, the arrow directs focus and need for research, and adds to the subtlety of science. (Note that I have offered some explanation of the mechanism in the general theory of psychology developed here).