Harriman on Induction

seddon's picture
Submitted by seddon on Mon, 2010-08-09 16:01

In David Harriman’s new book, THE LOGICAL LEAP, he solves the problem of induction. Let me repeat, Harriman solves the problem of induction. By that he means that he has an answer to the question, “When and why is the inference from “some “ to “all” legitimate?” Now Rand herself thought that the problem represented “the main unresolved philosophical issue that [her] philosophy has not dealt with” and she expressed a wish to, if she doesn’t “die too soon,” at least “formulate” the problem, “but it’s a hard job.” (AYN RAND ANSWERS, 177) So what is Harriman’s solution? Simple. It’s self-evident. It’s obvious. Or in Harriman’s own words, the validity of induction is “an unchallengeable given.” Surprise David Hume. Shame on you Karl Popper. And why did Rand ever think this would have been a “hard job?” This reminds me of Russell’s comment, and I’m paraphrasing, ‘an unchallengeable given has all the advantage of theft over hard work.’

Fred


( categories: )

Ding an Sich

seddon's picture

The identity of math and logic was congenial to both Russell and Whitehead but after Godel, I don't know if there are any philosophers that still agree with Russell and Whitehead. Of course you buddy Wittgenstein that both math and logic said the very same thing, i.e., nothing.
They're just tautologies.

Fred

Seddon

ding_an_sich's picture

Did you ever notice that Math and Logic are so ridiculously similiar that it's sickening? Im taking Precalc and it is astonishing to see how the laws and theorems reflect the tautologies in symbolic logic. It's as if Logic and Math do not really say anything at all. Instead, they all say the same thing.

Precalc is simply going to be an extension to Symbolic logic (or the other way around?). I cannot get enough of the stuff. More proofs. Yes!

Ding an Sich

seddon's picture

"Could you read him [Wittgenstein] any other way?"

Actually, I haven't "read" him since the late 60s, but that's the position I remember taking on him. I'm having toooo much fun with Schopenhauer. I should be teahing him in about 2-3 weeks. Whee

Fred

Seddon

ding_an_sich's picture

"I have always wonder at those, like Rand, who think they can get at what a philosopher means by quoting a dictionary he may neither have read or used. In the TRACTATUS, cognition(speaking about) is restricted to what science tells us; ethics and aesthetics, to name just two, are outside of their reach. So "we must pass over them in silence." At least, that is the way I read Wittgenstein."

Could you read him any other way? That is the way I read Wittgenstein when I read the TLP. But hell we could both be wrong huh? That would be a pickle.

F. L. Light

seddon's picture

"COGNITION, n. Knowledge or certain knowledge, as from personal view or experience. Webster, 1828."

I have always wonder at those, like Rand, who think they can get at what a philosopher means by quoting a dictionary he may neither have read or used. In the TRACTATUS, cognition(speaking about) is restricted to what science tells us; ethics and aesthetics, to name just two, are outside of their reach. So "we must pass over them in silence." At least, that is the way I read Wittgenstein.

Fred

Light and Seddon

ding_an_sich's picture

"Kant, of sequacious stickiness, within
Unfounded spiderwebs might students win."

Yeah Kant's confusion extends to even his students. What else is new?

"An important source for understanding Wittgenstein on silence (and a whole lot more) is Schopenhauer. See Bryan Magee’s book, THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCHOPENHAUER, appendix 3 entitled “Schopenhauer’s Influence on Wittgenstein. "

Ill just read Schopenhauer to understand what Wittgenstein means by it. He is easy enough to read that I do not need to read any other outside sources. I guess if SRU has the book I will read the appendix if I am too lazy to read Schop.

Cognition

F L Light's picture

I meant "cognition" in this meaning: COGNITION, n. Knowledge or certain knowledge, as from personal view or experience. Webster, 1828.

Socrates said he knew nothing, but on what he could not speak (with indicative sentences) he asked questions, which are not indicative.

Socratic inquisitions in expanse
Continued, letting Socrates advance.

A couplet on Immanuel:
Kant, of sequacious stickiness, within
Unfounded spiderwebs might students win.

Ding an Sich (and Light)

seddon's picture

An important source for understanding Wittgenstein on silence (and a whole lot more) is Schopenhauer. See Bryan Magee’s book, THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCHOPENHAUER, appendix 3 entitled “Schopenhauer’s Influence on Wittgenstein.

Fred

F L Light

ding_an_sich's picture

"Lacking cognition, let us question what
We lack and not with silence be distraught."

There is nothing to speak of when it comes to thinking unlogically. For to speak of it we would have to first think unlogically.

We do not lack anything; and if it is anything we lack it is making philosophical problems less complicated than they really are.

There is nothing distrught about silence, so long as the answer has already been given. In this case then, there would be nothing to speak "of". The problem then ceases to be. In fact, it may become evident.

However if there is indeed a problem, one with which we cannot address without falling into confusion, perhaps we should rethink our position. Maybe even, dare I say it, look for an answer that is already there.

Let me state that we do not lack cognition; in fact we have all the tools we will ever need. But that is not the problem.

Answering Wittgenstein

F L Light's picture

Lacking cognition, let us question what
We lack and not with silence be distraught.

Lindsay

ding_an_sich's picture

"I don't think anyone here would deny Kant's stature or influence. Some, myself included, might say that influence was disastrous. He didn't "marry" empiricism and rationalism (by which I presume you mean the sensible parts of both)—he divorced them irrevocably. He sent the rationalist side of things off to some impenetrable la-la-land, a castle not merely in the air but beyond the universe, from which a divine edict allegedly issues forth always to act from duty rather than inclination."

Ah the Categorical Imperative: one of the crowning achievements of Kant's philosophy. I presume this is what you speak of in the latter part of the paragraph? Yes yes it does seem quite absurd. In fact, I agree with you; but I am not talking about Kant's ethics, nay, I am talking of his epistemology. If you ever get the chance read Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation vol. 1 by E.J. Payne. There is an appendix that deals with Kant and all the problems he has brought forth, which Schopenhauer proclaims to have fixed.

Anyway, back to epistemology. So you say that Kant didnt marry empiricism and rationalism? That the experience gained throughout the entire span of man's life is not filled up by the Categories? This seems silly that you would deny what this genius did. The cateogries of thought, in particular causality, limit what goes on solely in empty thought (that is, thought devoid of experience. It's merely heuristic). What Kant demonstrated was that the only thing a human being could rely on for true proof of anything was that our theories work within a possible experience, and not overextend their reach into pure reason, where anything goes. As a result of this, he blew out all proofs for the existence of God (aside from ones involving language and concepts, which are at best mediocre) and gave man autonomy via a moral code derived solely from man. Granted this moral code is pretty silly (or at least I think it is) but it was a pretty bold step towards getting away from mysticism (albeit maybe not successful, but bold mind you). I dont personally subscribe to kant's ethics; in fact Im a mix (possible abortion) between Nietzsche, Aristotle, and Rand. So for me Kant did not get the issue of morality right. But this is a whole other issue for another day good sir.

Oh yes and let's name call professors because they know so little and let us open up our ears to a man who talks on the radio; a man so outspoken, nay, so honest with his viewers that they have no choice but to listen. What has he to say? The same garbage the rest of the world spews. Oh but that pathetic second rate professor obviously knows nothing of what he speaks. Especially a philosopher! What absurdities! But wait... what is this? The philosopher searches for the truth? How could we possibly cast him aside as second rate then? Is he not of inestimable worth? But of course! So let us cherish even the "second rate" philosophers who have been so kind as to grace us with their presence. For surely the truth they strive for, along with the truth they possess, is a hundred times greater than any other man could possibly bring forth.

7. Whereof one cannot speak, one must be silent.

Ding an Sich (and Linz)

seddon's picture

I’m sure you can see the obvious errors that Linz makes in his caricature of Kant, but let me point out just one, one that I expect my freshman not to make. There are no “divine edicts” and for two reasons: (1) God is a mere heuristic device in Kant, much like Rand’s use of “Aquinas’ angels,” (2) and even if there were a God, to obey his orders would be heteronymous, and hence not moral since not autonomous.
This is really Kant 101.

And let me dispel another vile canard on Linz’s part. I never said that Aristotle was a “dichotomous mystic.” For his achievements in logic alone he belongs in the class of proto-objectivists.

Let the name calling continue. Tee hee.

Fred

Herr Sich

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I don't think anyone here would deny Kant's stature or influence. Some, myself included, might say that influence was disastrous. He didn't "marry" empiricism and rationalism (by which I presume you mean the sensible parts of both)—he divorced them irrevocably. He sent the rationalist side of things off to some impenetrable la-la-land, a castle not merely in the air but beyond the universe, from which a divine edict allegedly issues forth always to act from duty rather than inclination.

Now of course Fred disputes all this and says Kant was really a pre-Randian Objectivist, along with Plato (while Aristotle was really a dichotomous mystic). This fracas has been going on here, on and off, for years. "Fraudulent fool" is one of the more polite—or perhaps, poolite— things Mr. O'Cresswell has called Prof. Seddon. Think of all the fun you've missed!

Ding an Sich

seddon's picture

“I have been reading Aristotle's Metaphysics I have not picked up on the two- world deal. Any places where I might be able to find this?”

I deal with this issue in my book AYN RAND, OBJECTIVISTS, AND THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY. Let me know if you want me to send you the relevant sections. In Aristotle, you can look at DE CAELO, 278B11ff. BTW and just for laughs, the weirdest view I found while researching the book belongs to Plutarch, who thought there were 183 worlds. DE DEFECTU ORACULORUM, 422B. They are in the shape of a triangle with 60 worlds per side and one world at each angle!!

As for your question on induction vis-à-vis deduction. In Kelley’s logic text he says that we need induction to give us the universal premises for our syllogisms. See ch. 15 (I think you have the text.) I lectured on this at the 2007 summer seminar in Portland.

Fred

Mr. Cresswell

ding_an_sich's picture

"I suggest you read Harriman's book for yourself, rather than get it second-hand from a second-rate philosophy professor who isn't apparently even able to read past page three.

That this fraudulent fool thinks Immanuel Kant is a great philosopher tells you all you need to know about Mr Seddon."

Good sir I suggest you take an intro to logic course. It will improve your reasoning one hundred fold. That way you will be wary of making fallacious arguments. Just a thought.

Immanuel Kant... ah where do I begin. I was once infatuated with him. Hell I still am. The man is a genius. Just read him sometime. He practically reeks of it. The titles of his books give it away: "Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals", "Critique of Pure Reason", "Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics", etc. The man was, and still is, an intellectual tease. Even better he is quite the gentleman; he makes jokes, and paints vivd scenes (the ship lost at sea and the ship wrecked on land).

Well anyway to get to the point: Kant is considered one of the greatest philosophers because he changed the entire enterprise of philosophy. He separated theology from philosophy, put forth the limits of reason, and married empricism with rationalism. Not only that, but he was the first to really do it. He did all sorts of other things too but the three aforementioned accomplishments are pretty big. Oh yea and he questioned the knowing subject. Is it the object that I perceive or an appearance of the object? Does the mind have faculties independent of the world? Are they a priori? All questions brought up by Kant.

And heres a little something for you: I got it from this angry German Analytic Philosopher. Heres what he said:

7. Whereof one cannot speak one must be silent.

Toodles

Seddon

ding_an_sich's picture

"This fraudulent fool is hardly alone. To cite but one source, Charles Murray in HUMAN ACCOMPLISMENTS places Kant as "statistically objectively" the third greatest philosopher that ever lived. This thinker is right up there with Plato and Aristotle. Deal with it."

I agree with Mr. Murray; Kant, Plato, and Aristotle should be the top 3 greatest philosophers ever. Until of course I come on to the scene. Hahaha my vanity knows no limits.

"I actually prefer the "odd man out" type of question since any three philosphers that one could pick have a lot in common. That was my approach in the Objectivism book. For example, on one world vs two world metaphysics Aristotle is the odd man out, since he is a two worlder. (The latter is, of course, controversial.)"

I was looking at this group of philosophers from their ethics and not their metaphysics. Although I have been reading Aristotle's Metaphysics I have not picked up on the two- world deal. Any places where I might be able to find this?

I have been thinking about induction; can it deal with equivalence rules in symbolic logic? Since the rules given are self evident, can we find exceptions to the rules? Say I wanted to prove that a≡¬a. But in order to do this I have to use a tautological rule (all the equivalence rules, as I see it, are tautological. They all say that they are equivalent to themselves.) Even though I am able to prove a≡¬a, it still would not change the self evidence of the equivalence rules. Is there any form of induction at work in this?

What about for mathematical formulas in general? Are they self evident? a=a? If it's self evident, then can we be certain of it?

Cresswell

seddon's picture

"It's not ad hominem. It's a fact evident to anyone by observation."

You keeping writing like this and everyone will "observe" that you setting yourself up for the obvious tu quoque. And you are also setting yourself for me to remind you of my paraphrase from Russell in my post, to wit:
"a 'fact evident to anyone by observation' has all the advantage of theft over hard work." I think maybe what Richard meant was that you provided no evidence for you position. If you are challenging my reading; if my reading is inaccurate or misleading; if these are your claims then the burden of proof is on you babycakes. You provided no proof but did call me names--hence I agree with Richard. Do you have anything of substance to say?

Fred

BTW I do recommend the book. Harriman has a remarkable ability to tell engaging stories about the history of science, so much so that this book is a joy to read.

Cresswell

seddon's picture

"I suggest you read Harriman's book for yourself,"

I couldn't agree more with this sentiment. In fact, that was the purpose of my two posts; to call attention to this book. That I was disappointed with it has nothing to do with what you may come away with after reading it yourself. But go all the way. Make sure you read the PHAEDO from beginning to end and make up your own mind. But that presupposes one knows how to read Plato. Hints for that task can be found in my book on Objectivism, chapter 1. So thanks for endorsing my MO for philosophy; read the original and make up your own mind. I give you permission to call yourelf the follower of a fraudulent fool or an FFFer.

"this fraudulent fool thinks Immanuel Kant is a great philosopher"

This fraudulent fool is hardly alone. To cite but one source, Charles Murray in HUMAN ACCOMPLISMENTS places Kant as "statistically objectively" the third greatest philosopher that ever lived. This thinker is right up there with Plato and Aristotle. Deal with it.

It's not ad hominem. It's a

Peter Cresswell's picture

It's not ad hominem. It's a fact evident to anyone by observation.

Ad hominem

Richard Goode's picture

a second-rate philosophy professor

This one goes in the hall of shame.

Don't get it second-hand from a second-rate philosophy professor

Peter Cresswell's picture

I suggest you read Harriman's book for yourself, rather than get it second-hand from a second-rate philosophy professor who isn't apparently even able to read past page three.

That this fraudulent fool thinks Immanuel Kant is a great philosopher tells you all you need to know about Mr Seddon.

Ding an Sich

seddon's picture

"What do Aristotle, Nietzsche, and Rand have in common?"

I actually prefer the "odd man out" type of question since any three philosphers that one could pick have a lot in common. That was my approach in the Objectivism book. For example, on one world vs two world metaphysics Aristotle is the odd man out, since he is a two worlder. (The latter is, of course, controversial.)

Fred

Marcus

seddon's picture

I'm for anything that get the student's attention. Is your point that Harriman is guilty of dumbing down the problem of induction? I didn't get that from my reading; I just think he is wrong.

Fred

Teaching philosophy with Spider-Man

Marcus's picture

Is this dumbing down or just clever teaching?
........................................................................................

BBC News

12 August 2010

Teaching philosophy with Spider-Man


Peter Parker's Uncle Ben told him that with great power comes great responsibility, an axiom that thematically recurs through the series.

For years, fans of the Batman comics have puzzled over a mystery at the heart of the series: why doesn't Batman just kill his arch-nemesis, the murderous Joker?

The two have engaged in a prolonged game of cat-and-mouse. The Joker commits a crime, Batman catches him, the Joker is locked up, and then invariably escapes.

Wouldn't all this be much simpler if Batman just killed the Joker? What's stopping him?

Enter philosopher Immanuel Kant and the deontological theory of ethics...

William Irwin, a philosophy professor at King's College in Pennsylvania, edits the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, which includes titles such as Batman and Philosophy, and X-Men and Philosophy.

He says there's nothing unusual about using popular references to illustrate complex theories...

When academics struggle to fill seats in their medieval poetry classes while their colleagues are turning students away from packed courses on the mythic rhetoric of the superheroes, sniping in common rooms is to be expected.

Professor Mark White of the City University of New York says he is sure his work on Batman and philosophy "arouses some chuckles in the corridors", but he is careful to point out that he is not teaching the philosophy of comic books, he is using comic books to teach philosophy.

Mr Irwin agrees, drawing a distinction between his work and that of cultural theorists.

"Cultural studies coming out of the UK took popular culture very seriously as an object of study," Mr Irwin told the BBC.

"We are not saying that the canon of Superman comic books is equivalent to Homer and Dante and you can study them for their own sake. We're not suggesting that comic books replace Plato and Descartes - not at all. The goal is always to get people interested in philosophy by speaking first in terms that people are familiar with."

Mr Robichaud has little patience for critics who say that this work cheapens the traditional study of philosophy...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/worl...

Seddon

ding_an_sich's picture

Yea I thought so. Forgive me of my silliness haha. Im actually reading the Nichomachean Ethics (revised oxford edition) right now and The Virtue of Selfishness as well. I just might make a left turn in Alberquerque and read Aristotle's Metaphysics while I am at it.

Yes you did write a book about it; its called Aristotle & Lukasiewicz on the Principle of Contradiction. Its on Amazon for about 30 bucks.

Startling discovery (not really): What do Aristotle, Nietzsche, and Rand have in common? Strong immoral men opposed to the decadence of the herd. I found a new trinity to replace the old one (Kant, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein).

Ding an Sich

seddon's picture

You can't do that with God since one can deny God without assuming he exists. Aristotle thought you could not do that with the law of contradiction; hence he concluded that it was an axiom. Rand says the same thing for the three laws of thought and for sense perception. It follows that you cannot do this for ANY subject. Harriman does not have a proof for this and he doesn't even mention it in his book. He just states that the validity of induction is an "unchallengeable given." Aristotle likewise did not think one could prove the law or the "accept in order to reject" criterion of axioms. But he did given a refutation of those who would attempt to deny the law of contradiction. I wrote a book on the whole thing, but, alas, it is out of print. But you can read Aristotle on this. See METAPHYSICS, IV, 4, esp. 1006a12 ff.

Fred

BTW I will be teaching essays 1 and 3 of Nietzsche's GM this fall at Penn State. Eat your heart out. Tee hee.

What

ding_an_sich's picture

is self-evident? Induction itself? Could I do the same thing with God? If I use the given (God) and then deny it (G --> ¬G) , what then? Does that prove that God is self-evident? Or for that matter, can I apply this to any object? Im confused haha. What argument does Harriman give? Does he have a proof for it? Seems nifty but Im sceptical.

Mike

seddon's picture

"What sort of supporting argument does Harriman give for his "unchallengeable given"?"

Excellent question. Typically there are several ways one can give a meta-argument for a "given," and Objectivism prefers the one Aristotle provides in METAPHYSICS, IV, 3-4, to wit: you must use the "given" in order to deny the "given." So applying that to the case at hand, Harriman could say that one must accept induction in order to deny its validity. But I think that would cut little ice with those philosophers, like Popper, who have attacked induction.
Hope that is what you wanted.

Fred

OK, I'll bite

mfgreaves's picture

What sort of supporting argument does Harriman give for his "unchallengeable given"?
Or would that be too challenging?

Mike

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