Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

MY BAD

Those of you who have been following my exchange of comments with Michael Llenos will have long since realized that he has been teasing me, having some fun with  me, saying obviously foolish things just to get me going.  Sigh.  I am so thick!  Well, it finally dawned on me with the bit about Methuselah.  I mean, I should have caught on when he referred to vegetarian lions, but I am terminally dense.

My bad.

16 comments:

Michael Llenos said...

I'm not teasing you, Dr. Wolff. The problem with not having scientific facts about a subject is that the subject soon devolves under the category of eristics. This is what happens on most blogs with subjects based on non-facts: everyone wants the last word, and people will keep on posting until they get the last word. However, I believe you should have the last word, Dr. Wolff, since your posts are always interesting for me to read and all of my posts are generally plain for me to read since I wrote them.

Michael Llenos said...

By the way, the subject was on Noah and his Ark. There is also a parallel proof in Gilgamesh.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

OK, so we are being serious. Well, think about this. You are communicating with me by means of computers and all their associated technology. This technology rests upon a wide array of scientific facts and well confirmed theories. That science is intimately connected with the science that grounds estimates of the age of the world, the evolution of species, and all manner of other things. You cannot pick and choose which bits of this structure of science you are prepared to embrace and rely upon for, among other things, communicating, while at the same time choosing for religious reasons to reject other portions of the very same structure of science, as though you could decide to accept the arithmatic of integers except for arithmetic calculations involving, say the number seventy-three, which for some religious reason you think does not obey the laws of mathematics.

Now, if you wish to invoke miracles and divine powers every time you run into a problem [like describing lions with sharp teeth as chewing on grass, which requires grinding molars], then there is no arguing with that. Go right ahead. I mean, if God can create the universe out of nothing, then He certainly ought to be able to make it possible for lions to eat grass. But don't then pretend that you are engaging in argument, as opposed to pious appeals to miraculous intervention.

Michael Llenos said...

I assume there are some philosophers out there who believe we could be butterflies having this conversation. Those arguments are based on possibility and not probability. How is that different from my arguments? Probability is always shifting with each new generation. You must trust probability, but there are many scientific probabilities that could be false or misleading. Stephen Hawking once posed the question: if time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future? There may be more than we think. They could be using symbology to tell the truth, but we think they are saying something else. To them we could be a joke. Symbology could make total fools of us all. Movies we watch could have a double meaning we don't understand but a small minority does. If one philosophical science, based on Descartes, said we could be butterflies, how much harder is it to believe animals on the Ark prospered after the flood? But I said I would give you the last word, so please forgive me for this rude interruption.

Michael Llenos said...

Dr. Wolff,

Sorry for another one of my comments, but I have to ask the question: are you saying that scientific facts and well confirmed theories have little to no flaws in them because these ideas are complete or because Kant says our thoughts are hot wired by the mind's categories?

If the former is true, then I say you haven't taken into consideration that our sciences and theories are always being improved upon. E.g. Newton to Maxwell to Einstein to Quantum Theory to the possibility of a Unified Field Theory.

[Drop a pen on your desk. We call it gravity. We made a name for it. We know what it does and how it interacts. Yet, we don't have a clue about what it truly is. So science is incomplete and is possibly misleading.]

Now if you believe in Kant's theory of categories, I will now prove his theory is flawed. Objects conform themselves to the senses, but our minds conform themselves to those same objects once those objects get past the senses. Some parts of the brain deal with consciousness and other parts deal with the senses.

But these two parts are separate from one another. E.g. I wear glasses to see 20/20. My mind also tells me that I see clearly when I wear those glasses. If my mind did not tell me this separate from what I sensed, I would not tell a difference in what I saw, if I took off those glasses and saw a blurry sight. For if the senses and consciousness were one, I would have no introspection whatever. Meaning, there would be no thinking and learning processes of the brain if objects conformed themselves to the mind and that was it.

[Kant was right that there are categories. But these are for the senses and not those parts of the mind that deal with awareness. The mind's conscious awareness can trump the senses; meaning consciousness can see past the categories of Immanuel Kant because only the senses are subject to categories but not the minds awareness that can cut through such categories like a sharp razor.]

Michael Llenos said...

In summary...

Objects conform themselves to the senses.

But the mind conforms itself to those objects, once those objects get past the senses.

Meaning, Kant's theory of categories is wrong.

Michael Llenos said...

To be clearer...

Objects conform themselves to the senses.

(Senses, meaning: the organs of sense and those parts of the brain that deal with senses.)

But the mind conforms itself to those objects,

(Mind, meaning: conscious awareness and those parts of the brain dealing with conscious awareness that are independent of the senses.)

So mind and senses do not mean the same thing here. The mind deals with thinking and the senses deal with sensation. Kant got it wrong because he didn't know the dualism of human intelligence and what parts of the brain deal with different parts of our mental and physical operations.

Michael Llenos said...

Dr. Wolff,

I'm sorry for writing so many posts. I'm really a hypocrite when it comes to giving you the last word. I believe opposite opinions do tend to galvanize comments out of people from time to time as if it were a self-destructive addiction.

Chris said...

Michael you in no way proved Kant was wrong, you just made an assertion. Kant made a several hundred page transcendental deduction. You have a lot more work to do.

As to whether or not this or that specific theory is 100% true is irrelevant for the success of science. The fact theories are in fact commensurable, and ones can be preferred to others, shows that even the wrong ones have some element of truth within them, which subsequent theories expand upon (vertically and horizontally).

Michael Llenos said...

Well, I tried my best. I thought it was more than an assertion, but you're probably right. If I could use an analogy now, in my defense, Rene Descartes, in his First Meditation, tries to destroy all of his previous knowledge by saying God could possibly decieve him, which he proves not to be true in his Second Meditation. I tried to destroy Kant's idea that objects conform themselves to the mind through the one idea of brain dualism in sensing and thinking.

Chris said...

Well it seems to me that Kant deals with much of what you're talking about in his theory of the unity of apperception.

Michael Llenos said...

I didn't know that. But did Kant know that some parts of the brain are used to interpret sense perception and other parts are used for consciousness? E.g. the very front part of the Frontal Lobe is used for planning and consciousness, while sense interpretation is in most other parts of the brain behind the front part of the Frontal Lobe. Surely Kant couldn't have known that in the 18th century?

Chris said...

Kant doesn't reduce the mind to the brain - so far as I know. I'm no expert, I only read his Critique once. And as far as I can tell, all a Kantian would say is that studies themselves of brains, are already being conducted in a world that is actively constructed by the structure of our minds. We certainly aren't getting at the brain in itself.

Michael Llenos said...

I guess what your saying is that Kant found a First Cause of human experience? That objects conform themselves to the mind and that is the only one truth of reality that we know. For if objects conform themselves to the mind, why isn't that theory an illusion when everything else after it is also an illusion of appearances and not true reality?

Michael Llenos said...

I think if everything is clouded by appearances, how did Kant figure out the truth that objects subject themselves to the mind? And why can't we find out other truths about true reality if Kant figured out that one? Dr. Wolff said that causality, time, and space are mind imposed conditions so how can a First Cause of experience (that objects conform to the mind) not be mind imposed since causality is mind imposed?

Chris said...

Michael I suggest you read Kant. So far all your assumptions about him, and even your questioning, suggest you're understanding is on the wrong track. At this point I can't even answer your questions without explaining Kant afresh to you...