Home Page of Dennis J. Darland's Confused (April-May 2014) Philosophy
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My Philosophy

(April thru May 2014) Philosophy

  1. 4/1/2014
    There have been MAJOR changes to the details of my philosophy, although I think that the general thrust was correct. It will take some time to re access my ideas and rewrite them. (3/30/2014)
  2. I am experimenting with color and css before embarking on writing my new ideas.
  3. I have also reorganized this page with that goal in mind.
  4. The appearance may be changing a lot for a while.
  5. I need to make a revision to my theory of belief.
  6. According to the definition I had been giving (pre 2014 below) , "Tom believed Cicero denounced Catiline" would be false if Catiline had never existed. I mean Tom couldn't believe it - not just that Cicero couldn't denounce Catiline, if Catiline didn't exist. I am assuming you can make true statements about the past that no longer exists - but that is not the problem here. I want now to say that statement is true if there is a relation of belief only between Tom and the symbols CICERO, DENOUNCED AND CATILINE. But Tom's belief can only be true if the corresponding objects Cicero, denounced and Catiline exist and are in the correct relation. They cannot be in that relation if they don't exist. It can be made sense of the the theory of descriptions, but will be false. But on the my old analysis of belief, the symbol relation would fail, so it would be false that Tom believed it on that analysis. Now, I maintain what I called the symbol_r relation before is all that is needed for belief. This close to one of two positions Russell examines in paper 14 of the CPBR, Volume 5 (page 452) ,"On the Nature of Truth" [1907]. (Russell uses the word "idea" where I use the word "symbol"). "Thus a belief, i this view be adopted, will not consist of one idea with a complex object, but will consist of several related ideas. That is, if we believe (say) that A is B, we shall have the ideas of A and B, and these idea will be related in a certain manner; but we shall not have a single complex idea which can be described as the idea "A is B". Later on page 453: "Beliefs are then complexes of ideas, to which complexes of objects of the objects of the ideas may or may not correspond." When they do correspond, the beliefs are true, and are beliefs in facts; when they do not, the beliefs are erroneous, and beliefs in nothing." I would call this a correspondence theory of truth. But the reason we believe it is that our ideas, cohere when we take it seriously. We can make predictions that often come true. Thus there is evidence that there are objects corresponding to our ideas. BR changed his mind on this in 1910. See page xxxvii in CPBR volume 5. He then thought the beliefs were relations of the believer to Cicereo, denounced and Catiline. (not ideas of them) Thus he changed from my new opinion to what had been my old opinion - or something close to that has happened. I need to study why he changed his views - in the opposite direction that I have. On my view the symbols have relations to the corresponding objects. These relations assume the proper mental capacity, and the correct experiences. I had the view previously that the symbol relation was intrinsic to the belief. But that makes it impossible to have beliefs about what never existed. (And I mean beliefs at all - not just that you couldn't have true beliefs. This problem BR would also have in his 1910 theory - or so it appears to me.
  7. Definition of Belief and True Belief (4/3/2014)
    According to the definition of belief (or judgment), I am now adopting (much like BR's of 1907), a belief is a relation of a person to symbols (or ideas). The belief is true, not only of the belief exists, but in addition, symbol relations hold between the symbols and the objects they symbolize, and also those objects themselves are in the correct corresponding relation.
    Thus Tom believes "Cicero denounced Catiline" consists of a relation between Tom, DENOUNCED, CICERO, and CATILINE. (Here DENOUNCED, CICERO and CATILINE are symbols belonging to Tom). If this belief is true, then in addition, There is a symbolic relation between CICERO and Cicero, CATILINE and Catiline, and DENOUNCED and denounced. And also the indicated relation between denounced, Cicero and Catiline. If Tom communicated this He would create a relation between the words "denounced", "Cicero", and Catiline". There would be a different relation, for Tom, between "denounced" and DENOUNCED", "Cicero" and CICERO, and "Catiline" and CATILINE. If Bill heard this, he would understand it if he had corresponding relations between the words, symbols and objects. That is Bill would need symbols (not the same as Tom's) DENOUNCED_2, CICERO_2, and CATILINE_2. These would have been learned by Bill socially, as Tom learned them. (Plus, of course, the appropriate learning capability.) So Bill hears a relation between "denounced", "Cicero" and "Catiline". If he believes what Tom said, this creates a relation between Bills symbols DENOUNCED_2, CICERO_2, and CATILINE_2. And from their similar experience Bill would also have the symbol relations between DENOUNCED_2 and denounced, CICERO_2 and Cicero, and CATILINE_2 and Catiline. For the symbol relation here, could be substituted a definite description. The object (O) for which symbol (S) is meant by person (P). Now, if object O intended by a definite description (or symbol or idea) in a sentence does not exist, a sentence containing it is still significant, but false (with usual scope applied). But Tom or Bill can still have a belief relation to the symbols (or ideas or description)). If the corresponding objects do not exist (we are speaking non-temporally here). the beliefs must be false. If we had made the beliefs a relation to the objects themselves, then it would have to be false that the beliefs even existed.
  8. On Opacity (4/3/2014)
    From Quine _Word and Object_ page 145: "A construction that may be transparent or opaque is the belief construction, 'a believes that p' Thus suppose that though (7) Tom believes that Cicero denounced Catiline, he is ill-informed enough to think that the Cicero of the orations and the Tully of De Senectute were two. Faced with the denial of 'Tully denounced Catiline', we are perhaps prepared to affirm (7) and to deny that Tom believes that Tully denounced Catiline. If so, the position of 'Cicero' in (7) is not purely referential. But the position of 'Cicero' in the part 'Cicero denounced Catiline' , considered apart, is purely referential. So 'believes that' (so conceived) is opaque." I believe this and the other arguments I have seen (say Stich on Folk Psychology and also Quine concerning modal contexts) can be handled by my analysis of belief.
    Now, upon my analysis of belief, Tom's belief that "not Tully denounced Catiline", consists of a relation between Tom and his ideas DENOUNCED, TULLY, and CATILINE. Note that although Cicero = Tully, Tom does not know this. And TULLY not = CICREO. Those are distinct symbols for Tom. (don't worry about the word 'not' yet).
  9. Expressing Equality (4/3/2014)
    The belief that Bill believed 'Cicereo = Tu;;y' however would be a relation between Bill, EQUALS, TULLY_2, and CICERO_2. To express the inequality of TULLY_2, and CICERO_2, you need symbols for the symbols (for the people) instead of symbols of people. lets use '&' before a symbol to form a symbol of a symbol. (This is similar to taking the address of a variable in the computer languages c or c++). Thus Bill believes TULLY_2 differs from CICERO_2 would be a relation between Bill, DIFFERS, &TULLY_2, and &CICERO_2.
  10. Symbols without corresponding object (4/3/2014)
    As I am using the word "symbol" there can be symbols such as SANTA_CLAUS, without a corresponding object, e.g. Santa Clause.
  11. Symbol for relation different from relation (4/11/2014)
    In "The Nature of Truth" (1905) (written before "On Denoting" - he is still maintaining there is a sort of Being besides what Exists), CPBR, volume 4, page 494, BR discussed the fact that when we say the earth goes round the sun, our idea of the earth does not go round our idea of the sun. This is true - the symbol ORBITS is not equal the the relation orbits. (rather it stands for it).
  12. Radical Incompleteness of Propositions (4/11/2014)
    I see no way to define propositions except as an equivalence class of beliefs which are synonymous. (More accurately things we understand - we need not believe or disbelieve them). (I know Quine pointed out problems with synonymy - but I think they can be answered). The problem is that it would seem there are many facts for which no corresponding belief exists. This is correct. There are facts for which no corresponding proposition exists. This is true even in pure mathematics. There are non-computable (hence inexpressible) real numbers. In fact, 0% of facts have corresponding propositions (The number of facts is a larger infinity.). But propositions are true when there is a fact corresponding to beliefs in that equivalence class. There are propositions which imply there are facts we do not know or even believe or disbelieve or understand, but these propositions need not imply the existence of the the propositions corresponding to these facts.
  13. I think BR's 1905 argument against any form of correspondence theory of truth is wrong.(4/12/2014)
    BR argues in "The Nature of Truth" (1905), CPBR, volume 4, pages 493-494"
    "But even supposing some other definition of correspondence with reality could be found, a more general argument against definitions of truth would still hold good. An idea is to be true when it corresponds with reality, i.e. when it is true that it corresponds with reality, i.e. when the idea that it corresponds with reality corresponds with reality, and so on. This will never do."
    First, it seems that this argument could be made against any definition of truth - not just correspondence theories.
    Second, we do not check for the truths in this manner - even if the definition is true. That is a separate epistemological question.
    Third, I believe BR later adopted a correspondence theory and thus must have, himself, abandoned this argument.
  14. I have a new proposed definition of belief - that solves problems with my old one (5/17/2014)
    I am going to have to express this symbolically (I think that way) - then I can try to express it in English.

    B(S,t,f,a,b) =df (E F)(E A)(E B) B_r(S,t,F,A,B) & ((true(S,t,F,A,B) & (R(S,t,F,f) & R(S,t,A,a) & R(S,t,B,b)) => f(a,b))

    Here B stands for a belief relation between a Subject (person) S at time t, a relation f and objects a and b.
    B_r is the psychological relation that holds between S at time t and ideas of F,A, and B.
    R stands for a referring relation.
    true stands for a truth relation for S at time t and his ideas F, A and B.
  15. Explanation for my theory of belief (5/17/2014)
    According to Russell's multiple relation of belief,
    belief would simply be a relation between the subject S and a relation f and objects a and b.
    However suppose the object b turns out not to exist (Say is "Santa Claus").
    One would suppose this to be taken care of by Russell's theory of descriptions.
    But it isn't.
    S truly has that belief about Santa Claus, even though Santa Clause does not exist.
    If one eliminates "Santa Claus" with a description, according to the theory of descriptions, that S has that belief will turn out to be false.
    I tried making the relation one just about ideas (or symbols), as Russell himself did at one point, but later rejected.
    The problem with making the relation about ideas is connecting the ideas to the objects the ideas are of.
    If one substitutes definite descriptions, as defined by Russell, into my definition of belief, the belief can
    be true even if the object substituted for does not exist - "true(S,t,F,A,B) will fail".
    This still leaves a little mystery - I have not defined "true(S,t,F,A,B).
    But this does put some constraints on what it cam mean.
  16. I tried to work out the ideas above in Life (similar to prolog) - there are difficulties I cannot resolve yet. (5/21/2014)
  17. I believe the root of my trouble is that I need a subjunctive conditional, i.e. strict implication (not just material implication)
    I want to say that if what the person means for the statement to be true is satisfied then the statement is true.(5/22/2014)
  18. (5/22/2014) The crux of the matter is that we sometimes have beliefs about things that have newer existed. In some manner this is a relation between us and non-existent objects. If we use BR's theory of descriptions, statements about the non-existent objects can make sense, but at the cost of being false. Yet it is true that we have such beliefs.
    I believe my ideas about belief (pre-2014) work OK as long as the objec1ts exist.
  19. (5/30/2014) I've realized that I was making a mistake in thinking the multiple relation theory of belief had a fundamental flaw. I thought that it would be false that a belief involving a definite description about something that did exist existed. But the belief should be analyzed to be not about the object described by the definite description, but rather about the predicates, quantifiers and variables - not the object. And these things will exist (if the belief has sense) even if the object does not exist.