the only easy day was yesterday

Friday, December 28, 2007

don't tell your philosophy professor you're into existentialism

first, the law of excluded middle. the cognitive functions of the mind, popularly now known as logic, which cause us to think in the nature which we do, lead aristotle to deduce this law, that something is either p or not p. someone who had a preconceived notion of what they wanted to prove came along and decided that this could be applied to the value of a statement of truth or falsity. the most prevalent analytic theory of truth would be basically that something is true if it corresponds to something in the 'real world'. of course this problem is grossly overlooked and people are lead to believe that a statement, p, can actually be true or false (but not neither or both at the same time). my logical capacities do not allow that i disagree with the excluded middle, but i do disagree that it can at all be applied to truth theories.

the application of LEM to truth theories is really sort of silly. in essence, for an analytic philosopher, this is saying that any statement can be true or it can be false, but not either or both. what they skip here is the step of asking whether a statement can indeed be either, rather they jump right in and say its one or the other but not both, it seems to be obvious but it is indeed not. upon closer examination, this leap that they take is unwarranted. they fail, or perhaps ignore because of the gaping problem that it poses, to reckognize that it must first be asked whether a statement can be said to be true or false. if indeed we see the world through an impassible gorge of sensibility, by which we form our concepts of time and space and ultimately language and philosophy, then the statements which we make using this language are built from a lousy representation in our minds of a world out there. on this token alone, we may call into doubt that we will ever be able to really judge something's truth value. 

it seems that it becomes circular. the belief that causes the study of epistemology is that the world is separate and thus that we must form a theory by which we can understand what we understand and put things in the category of known or not known to get our shit straight. so we say, okay statements are true or not true, but never both or neither; but by this very statement which must apply to the base of epistemology, we can look and see that its first tenet breaks down it's entire potential and makes it circular; becasue the world is separate, we will never be able to judge the "truth value" of any statement by this standard.

so plato sort of saw this and he said alright, well we have to come to a practical view about this because we cant actually see the 'forms' as he called the external world. so he said, alright we need to justify this shit right here, we need to have good reason, and we need to believe, and then if it's true we know it. well, i guess he realized that wed never actually get to his idea of true, so we all sort of take it as if we're justified and we believe its good enough.

not only does plato err in that he remains of the mind that it is at all a way which we can define knowledge and truth by saying truth is external and separated, thus making the rest circular and moot by its very first tenet, but also the attempt to make epistemology practical makes it laughable. it is an intrinsically impractical study, there is simply no way to see past our impassible barrier, and thus we cannot ever know if anything is true or false, we are just left with something that sounds good if we could pass the impassible. but wait, if we could pass the impassible, my dear plato, then why would we even need a theory of truth or knowledge?

this is a fairly intuitive objection, but not my whole story. what i more want to get to is the futile nature of applying the values of truth or falsity in this manner. as we have seen, it is plain silly to try to practicalize classical epistemology as plato did, we cannot pass, it is an impractical study by nature. but it is driven to it's impracticality by a flaw in it's first tenets. the thing is that we think through this whole thing that truth is a value which can be applied to something outside of ourselves, this cannot be, as i have shown; my statements have absolutely no correspondence to that world out there, especially when i have learned my language and all that i know by which i form my statements, through an impassible, and therefore inherently impaired vission of that world. furthermore, if i utter a statement, it is simply an idea which i hold, it has no necessary correspondence to the world out there. when i think that i have a book next to me, and form the beleif 'there is a book on the bed', i may indeed be on a bed, and there indeed may be what is the substance of a book in that world out there next to me on the bed where i lay, but my utterance of the proposition 'there is a book on the bed' holds no necessary connection to that external world. im having a hard time grasping the thought, it is elusive, im trying to get it under my thumb and examine it.

i suppose what im trying to get at is the lack of any connection of an idea in my mind and anything in a world which is out there. when i say something is true, it is not that i can possibly know anything from out there, but only what is in my mind, which proves all of epistemology useless because i am subject only to what is in my mind, and am not privy to the world outside.

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