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2011-11-11
On So-called Dogmas of Empiricism

Quine criticized the so-called two dogmas of Empiricism, and Davidson criticized the so-called third dogma of Empiricism. Then, McDowell criticized the existence of non-conceptual content of experience. we will show that their arguments are all wrong. Their arguments are some kind of proof by contradiction. If we accept some principle of Empiricism, then we have to face some problems, thus we could not accept some principle of Empiricism. We will show that these problems could be solved. In fact, Wittgenstein had solved these problems. Therefore, their arguments are all invalid. At last, we will examine proof by contradiction. What contradictions can tell us? What about ability and inability of conceptual analysis?


1. The first So-called dogmas of Empiricism

Quine criticize Frege's definition of analyticity, but it doesnot mean that there are no other definition s of analyticity. In fact, Wittgenstein had given another definition of analyticity: logically true statements are analytic. The analytic-synthetic distinction is still clear.

Quine’s argument is wrong.


2. The second So-called dogma of Empiricism

Quine showed that there are close relations between statements, but his holism is obscure. In fact, Reductionism could accept the relations between statements. For example, in an Axiomatic system, the valid of theorems depend on all the reasoning chains: the related axioms and related reasoning rules.

In his later work, Quine’s moderate holism is much closer to Reductionism.

Quine’s argument is wrong.


3. The third So-called dogma of Empiricism

In the paper "On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme", Davidson criticized the so-called dogma of Empiricism. Davidson argued that there has to something common for the people, who have different conceptual schemes and different language, to understanding each other. What is the common thing? Davidson could not find, so he said this problem is unsolvable.  Wittgenstein solved this problem. The common thing is form of life.

Davidson’s argument is wrong.


4. Non-existence of non-conceptual content

In the book "Mind and World", McDowell argued that there are no non-conceptual content. If there are non-conceptual contents, then non-conceptual contents could not offer conceptual reasons for conceptual statements (or beliefs).

But why non-conceptual contents have to offer conceptual reasons for conceptual statements (or beliefs)? Why not conceptual statements (or beliefs) describe and explain non-conceptual contents? Wittgenstein said that the task of philosophy is much more description than conceptual reasons. Actually, the task of science is also description and explanation of form of life.

McDowell’s argument is wrong.


5. What contradictions can tell us?

The conclusions of Quine, Davidson and McDowell are all wrong. The common mistake of Quine, Davidson and McDowell is the reasoning procedure. Their arguments are some kind of proof by contradiction. If we accept some principle of Empiricism, then we have to face some problems, thus we could not accept some principle of Empiricism.

We have face with some problems or contradictions. What contradictions can tell us?  What is the origination of problems?

The problems may originate in the all reasoning chains. In above cases, originations of problems are not the demises, but the prejudices of authors.

Contradictions could tell us that there are incoherent in the present conceptual schemes. Contradictions could tell us that existence of non-existence of experience.

If someone says there is a beautiful flower somewhere, we have to go and look. We could not say that:” Wait, wait…let me think about the possibility first.”

In the sense, Wittgenstein said that: “Don't think but look!”



The full article is written in Chinese. You can see in the following link: http://www.unicornblog.cn/user1/20/28680.html


2011-11-15
On So-called Dogmas of Empiricism
Regarding Wittgenstein, you might look at the work of John Shotter who has continued some of Wittgenstein's arguments in the area of organizations and communication (many of his papers are availible on his web site). Also, Burrell's "Pandemonium" seeks a non-theoretical perspective of organizational theory.

However, to say "there is a beautiful flower" requires concepts. And, to understand what is said, requires conceptual understanding of those words. And, I often do think about the possibility before going to look - therefore (by personal experience, rather than reason) Wittgenstein is wrong. Also - it undercuts your argument that you require concepts to argue that concepts are not required.  ;-)

Because there are disagreements over what is "right" and "wrong" it may be that those concepts are not so useful. Let us explore a different perspective.

I would argue for "useful" instead of "true." For example, "Is it true that there is a God" becomes a very different (and possibly more interesting) question if one asks, "What is the usefulness of my believing that there is a God?"

We cannot avoid concepts, or perception, nor can we avoid logical relationships. So, perhaps we need a new philosophy that integrates those ideas more effectively.

So, on a deeper level, my work suggests that we should not rely on "atomistic" truth claims. Similarly, those claims that are linear (a.g. A is true because of B, and B is true because of C... because of Z) are similarly not useful. Of course, tautologies are also not very useful!

instead, I argue that a "concatenated" logical structure is the one that is more effective and more useful. For example... if we say that "A is true because of B and C" (or  "More A and More B cause More C") then "C" is a concept that is concatenated - and C is better understood than A and B. From this example, you can see that the process works whether we are dealing with concepts or actual events - thus including both Wittgensteinian and Quinian perspectives.

It is possible to objectively calculate the usefulness of a theory by finding the ratio of concatenated concepts to the total number of concepts. In the above paragraph, for example, there are three concepts and one is concatenated. Therefore, the usefulness is 0.33 (the result of one divided by three). This insight was discovered in my chapter, "The structure of theory and the structure of revolutions: What constitutes an advance in theory?" I have explored that relationship in other areas including ethics, management, organizational theory, and (more recently) found support in a study on policy - success and failure:

http://emergentpublications.com/catalog_detail.aspx?Value=85
Some of my papers are available on the web, others available upon request.

Thanks,

Steve      Check out the new book on metapolicy analysis!  http://emergentpublications.com/catalog_detail.aspx?Value=85  
Steven E. Wallis, PhD   Director, Foundation for the Advancement of Social Theory
Adjunct Faculty, Capella University
Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation, Fielding Graduate University   http://ProjectFAST.org    

2011-11-19
On So-called Dogmas of Empiricism
Reply to Steve Wallis


Thanks for your comments and recommendations.

For understanding “there is a beautiful flower”, we need logic reasoning and concept actually. But we cannot know whether there is a beautiful flower there, only by logic reasoning and concept. In this very sense, this paper says:”Go and Look.”

This paper focuses on argument structures of the so-called dogmas of Empiricism. They are similar with proof by contradiction:  if we accept a certain principle of Empiricism, then we have to face some problems, thus we could not accept a certain principle of Empiricism. But before these authors claimed their conclusions, they had to show that these problems are unsolvable. They did not do that. This kind of proof may be called “Proof by Problem”. In addition, this paper attempts to show that their problems can be solved. Or, their problems had been solved by Wittgenstein. Therefore, their conclusions are invalid.

In the paper "On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme", Davidson criticized the third so-called dogma of Empiricism. Davidson argued that there has to be something common to compare different conceptual schemes. What is the common thing? The common thing is experience. But Davidson argued that given the common thing, we have problem to understand the relation between conceptual scheme and experience. In fact, his problem is solvable. By conceptual schema, we can not only organize sense data, we can but also organize cabbage.

(Pure)Experience is something given, while concept is something conceived. By logic and concept, we can say that a certain conceptual schema is contradiction, but we cannot decide whether there is this kind of experience or not. For example, this kind of experience may be Free Will or God. We can say that a certain conceptual schema about Free Will or God is contradiction, but we cannot decide whether there is this kind of experience or not. Actually, we have the possibility to model a new conceptual schema.

Concepts are formed inside, they can be reformed inside. So are conceptual schemas. For scientists, they have to observe the outside experience and model another better conceptual schema. For Philosopher, they have to observe the inside experience and model another better conceptual schema. Better and better……We are on the way to wisdom. On this sense, we say philo-sophy (Loving Wisdom).



 


2011-11-22
On So-called Dogmas of Empiricism
I am sorry but I don't see an important difference between experienced and conceived - as all my experiences must be conceived (or, at least, I try to have them make conceptual sense). Similarly, the inside and the outside do not seem important - because I have only the inside where "I" am (whatever that may be).

I do strongly agree that it seems that we cannot have useful understanding (and/or communication) without some combination of logic and experience. When we drift too far to one or the other, the result is untenable arguments.

Perhaps we might find some insight by moving to another level... to try and understand the experience of logic and the logic of experience? For example, if someone explains a logical concept, I experience it. I can even quantify it. In my own work, for example, I have quantified logics - a sort of empirical approach to understanding what would otherwise be vague and fuzzy logics. I wonder what combinations of alternatives might be possible? To see the beauty of logic, to see the logic of beauty, to see truth as a flower, to see a flower as truth?

Thanks,

Steve


2011-12-04
On So-called Dogmas of Empiricism
Reply to Steve Wallis:

We both agree that ordinary experience includes conceptual content. We have different opinion toward the problem whether these exists non-conceptual content experience or not. I agree that, but you deny.
 
It is not the business of concept, but the business of (pure) experience. For example, I enjoy the taste of tea, but you did not drink tea. How can I share the experience with you? The thing I could do is to describe the taste of tea. The thing we could do is to stay in the armchair and examine (or look) our inner experience carefully. Where there is inner experience, there is the possibility to examine it.

In addition, I can rebut your arguments against the non-conceptual content. I have shown that McDowell’s argument wrong. In the book "Mind and World", McDowell argued that there are no non-conceptual contents. If there are non-conceptual contents, then non-conceptual contents could not offer conceptual reasons for conceptual statements (or beliefs). But why non-conceptual contents have to offer conceptual reasons for conceptual statements (or beliefs)? Why not conceptual statements (or beliefs) describe and explain non-conceptual contents? For example, in an axiomatic system, the valid of theorems depend on all the reasoning chains: the related axioms and related reasoning rules. But as for the axioms, how could I ask for the same reason as theorems?! Wittgenstein said that the task of philosophy is much more description than conceptual reasons. Actually, the task of science is also to describe and explain the living world.
I am willing to show some problems of Conceptualism. If you really accept Conceptualism, all kind of given experience include concept content. But the problem is whose concept do you want to mean? Students’ concept? Scientists’ concept? Newton’s concept? Einstein’s concept? Or Bohr’s concept? Or maybe some future scientist’s concept? Or nature’s concept? A kind of unkown concept? What actually do you want to mean?

It does not matter that we have different conceptual schema, because we could eliminate prejudices of our conceptual schemas to reach agreement. It does matter that we all believe that our own conceptual schemas is right. Prejudices will fight together, but Truth could not fight.
We have the ability to construct prejudices to fight together; we also have the ability to reduce our prejudices to approach truth. (Loving Wisdom)

2011-12-27
On So-called Dogmas of Empiricism
Hello, I hope you guys don't mind if I chime in here.  I find this material really interesting, and I'm currently working very closely with a number of the texts you mentioned.

Quine's essay 'Two Dogmas' pigeonholes the kind of analyticity he wants to talk about.  It is most significant for people doing research in factic and formal languages.  Quine's claim is that analytic statements are only 'necessarily true' as long as the meanings of the words don't change, or that we really know the words we're using really well.  The point of the scare quotes is that, on Quine's view, there is no truth that is necessarily true without equivocation.

The arguments against analyticity are really just a consequence of Quine's arguments against logical reductionism.  There is no way to accept a serious form of analyticity without accepting logical reductionism.  Quine's arguments against logical reductionism are largely founded on his thesis of indeterminacy and inscrutability (best explained in his book Word and Object). 

Quine's complaint is that these things (especially the analytic/synthetic distinction) are not easy to pin down.  We have to ask questions about who defined the words, and why they are defined as they are.  We have to ask questions why the two can be substituted in selective statements and not all statements.  Unmarried man is thought to be necessarily interchangeable with bachelor, but then the statement 'unmarried man is eight letters long' is false.  This is one way in which Quine kills a necessary connection between the synonyms. 

Without any notion necessary truth, Quine advocates a holism where 'no truth is not open revision.' 

Some criticisms of Quine that I have found important are:

Strawson's and Grice's 'In Defense of a Dogma,' Putnam's 'Is there at Least One A Priori Truth,' and ironically Sellars 'Empiricism and Philosophy of Mind.' 

The general view that I have taken of these texts is largely attributed to Sellars' claim that 'not all truths are open to revision, at least not all at once.' 

Putnam gives the principle of contradiction this kind of status, but I think the idea that not all truths are open to revision all at once is the most interesting idea.  It accommodates the point of Quine's conclusions about necessary truth without completely undermining logical necessity. 

I think the cases of Davidson and McDowell are far more complex than the case of Quine's, but rather than looking at Mind and World, take a look at two recent books from McDowell titled Having the World in View and The Engaged Intellect.  McDowell improves upon his ideas developed originally in Mind and World in those books.  I'm personally all on board with McDowell's claim that anyone who reject's Davidson's third dogma must accept the first two, because of the link back to Kant.  In that regard, I disagree with McDowell about just how Kantian we should be in response to rejecting the third dogma, but that's a really minute point. 

Thanks for reading,
Vincent