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Old 10-06-2008, 11:35 PM   #10
Samuel Dravis
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Originally Posted by Litofsky View Post
So, he sees his view as superior to others? And, if he believes that his view is superior, wouldn't that mean that he could not be swayed by other views/opinions, seeing as they are 'beneath' his?
Not within the context of this argument, no. He could not be swayed. However, he might well eventually realize that not everyone is saying quite the same thing that he is.

Thanks for taking time to get into that. Without logical responses, I do believe that most conversation about scientific advances (and other relating fields) would have been near impossible. So, would it be a fair guess to say that logic was pioneered with the Greeks?
Yes, although there are other kinds of logic than that which developed from the Greeks.

Well, if we look at logic in a literary and linguistic sense, the word 'logic' means using sound reasoning- without any influence whatsoever- to arrive at a conclusion. However, when we explore the individual perception of logic, it's quite possible to arrive at a different conclusion, is it not?
No. If there is a bias where there shouldn't be, a conclusion can't be logical. Bahnsen is able to assert he's using logic in the proper way without lying, but we can still correct him. "Well, Mr. Bahnsen, I don't think of logic as necessarily associated with God. Simply because I assert that logic is universal doesn't mean I must appeal to metaphysics, but instead I am appealing to how the word 'logic' is actually used in our language." You'll remember that Bahnsen's argument is trying to show that some of his opponent's concepts rely on God. If that's not the case, then his argument is a non-starter.

I'd have to disagree with you on the first part of your statement. I feel the sudden need to quote Obi-Wan here: "Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."
I'll point out the context of Obi-Wan's statement:

Luke: Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father.

Obi-Wan: Your father... was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and *became* Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view.

Luke: A certain point of view?

Luke: Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. Anakin was a good friend. When I first knew him, your father was already a great pilot. But I was amazed how strongly the Force was with him. I took it upon myself to train him as a Jedi. I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Yoda. I was wrong.

Luke: There is still good in him.

Obi-Wan: He's more machine now than man; twisted and evil.

Luke: I can't do it, Ben.

Obi-Wan: You cannot escape your destiny. You must face Darth Vader again.

Luke: I can't kill my own father.

Obi-Wan: Then the Emperor has already won. You were our only hope.

Luke: Yoda spoke of another.

Obi-Wan: The other he spoke of is your twin sister.

Luke: But I *have* no sister.

Obi-Wan: Hmm. To protect you both from the Emperor, you were hidden from your father when you were born. The Emperor knew, as I did, if Anakin were to have any offspring, they would be a threat to him. That is the reason why your sister remained safely anonymous.

Luke: Leia! Leia is my sister.

Obi-Wan: Your insight serves you well. Bury your feelings deep down, Luke. They do you credit, but they could be made to serve the Emperor.
In this context, Obi-Wan's statement makes sense. Obi-Wan was concerned for Luke's reaction if he learned that his father was the second most evil man in the galaxy; he was worried that Luke might not want to fight his own father; he wasn't exactly lying because it was true that the Anakin that he had trained turned to evil. "I don't know who he is anymore" is often an expression that's used in situations like this one. "We thought we knew who he was... but we were wrong." Who could blame Obi-Wan? He was doing the best he could. Manipulative, but the fate of the galaxy was at stake.

Suppose Obi-Wan were to say that Anakin was now Darth Vader because he ate a cracker one time and he didn't like how it tasted. That's either ridiculous or simply making up excuses for lying to Luke, not "another point of view." I'd suggest reading Descartes' Evil Genius [PDF] by Bouwsma for a more developed and clear idea of what I mean when I said that some statements can only be used in certain contexts. Meaningful words are never used independent of a context.

Reason can be shifted to fit someone's point of view. I agree with you that it will always produce result "x" in certain situations, but, nevertheless, people will continue to alter it to their needs.
As long as people know how they're supposed to use the concepts I don't think it matters if they change or not.

But how does one go about determining if they are reasonable? If we decide who is and who is not reasonable, wouldn't that make it a matter of point of view? I have a grasp on the linguistic meaning of 'reason,' (or so I like to think) but when we begin to apply it, wouldn't that be a matter of what one accepts as reasonable?
You certainly didn't decide what you were taught in school; you didn't decide the contexts in which you heard "he's a reasonable person" used; you didn't decide what "reasonable" means and in fact there are few, if any, times when you actually DO decide such things. Simply the fact that there is a bit of play in who you might apply it to doesn't mean there isn't a rule, or that you can just start deciding whatever you like. As an example, I'd like to go back to the stop sign. What does a stop sign mean? Well, it means you need to stop at it-- but how do you interpret that? Where do you need to stop at it? Ten inches from it? Twenty? Three feet? Five? But what if someone said they stopped at the stop sign twenty feet back from it? I'd say that stopping twenty feet back is a clear violation of the rule, while five is arguable. If they stopped twenty feet back then they just don't know how to use a stop sign. They'd need to be taught - be shown - what the appropriate action is.

Similarly, we might say someone who who's a little fishy in his arguments is unreasonable, we'd definitely say that someone who's insane is unreasonable, but we'd never say that we were unreasonable (in the context of our talking calmly about it). That would be a clear violation of the rules for the use of saying someone is unreasonable or not. Then you'd need to tell them, "That's ridiculous, you obviously don't know how to use that phrase correctly."

And by a violation of the rules, it's not like you can't say it, or that the world caves in if you do say it. It's just that the words don't have the same descriptive power when you change their use. People won't understand you when you say, "We're unreasonable," and they'll likely look at you funny. I would too; I mean, it's pretty strange that someone would say that I'm unreasonable (or even might be unreasonable) without justification within a context. I wouldn't know what you meant.

Language suddenly holds more power than previously thought: instead of just words on paper, or letters in a word, it proves to be the basis for everything that we view as a being. My mind shifts back to 1984, and Newspeak, which involved taking out all words that could be possibly used to insight rebellion, amongst other things. If there are no words for something, is it possible to exist? A very interesting point, Mr. Dravis.
I can sit on a tree branch and know what kind of thing a tree is without knowing that it is called a tree. Merely not having a word for something doesn't mean that is somehow banned from our lives. Similarly, I don't think 1984's Newspeak would radically affect anyone's ability to commit thoughtcrime -- they'd just use different terminology than we do. We use our language, it does not use us. If you're interested, you can read more on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and linguistic determinism. I am not a big fan of that last, however, except in the most trivial sense. The words we use determine what we can know - that is, to "know" is also a word, and it means means you can use this set of words in the appropriate contexts. There's nothing that says that the words we have now are all of the words we're ever going to use - or even that the words will always have the same uses - which means it's not really deterministic at all. Wittgenstein's work in the Tractatus has several critical flaws in any case, so I wouldn't be too eager to agree with him there (although it is certainly an interesting read).
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