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Thread: An antinomy on the origins of shared traits

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    EffyCold The Ineffable's Avatar
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    Default An antinomy on the origins of shared traits

    I'd like to add here an explanation, for how I view the two methods I see for creating hypotheses regarding the relationsips between similar things as equally justified, at the same time mutually exclusive. I'll call the first "causal", the second "conditional" [1]. In a nutshell, one is the belief that shared traits imply an originar cause, in opposition to the other, which invokes separate conditions that can generate the same result.

    Both methods are employed by humans to explain the emergence of the similarities (shared traits) between objectively unrelated things. But they have drawbacks and are prone to error:
    - the causal method [2] is prone to create false causal or kinship relations between things, which may be understandable (like genealogic) or mysterious (like spiritual). Such possible failures end up in theories as the race theories of the Nazis, or the alien or Antlantic theories surrounding the pyramids.
    - the conditional method [3] is prone as well to offer explanations that work formally (on paper), but may be not the real thing, pretty much the way a lawyer can detach one completely from an actual crime through a perfectly sensible, but factually baseless construct.

    The main difference I notice between the two is that while the former assumes an existing effect as a cause to another, or an existing single common cause to both effects, through a possible but unproven interaction, the latter assumes possible but unproven similar, analogous or identical causes that can trigger the same effect through known and reasonable means. It should be noted that in the first case, "common cause" is one actual occurance, while in the latter the "common cause" is merely conceptual, regarding different phenomenae, connected only through the nature of their result. For instance when you say "the revolution made X and Y rich", it has two meanings:
    - the same event (ie the French revolution) made them rich.
    - different but identical/similar events (revolutions) made each of them rich.

    To exemplify: the bow and arrows. Can we ever be sure whether it was inherited from the same source, or it was discovered/invented separately by different civilizations? Probably not; unless we find concrete evidence (which may never happen), all we have is different clues and hypotheses about how things evolved. Proximity, for example, is a strong argument for kinship, it is very likely that two civilisations geographically close to each other shared that knowledge. Simplicity to explain how that knowledge had emerged, on the other hand, is a strong argument to believe that the two civilisations discovered the said knowledge independently - ie. when it is demonstrated how easily the same knowledge can occur to different people or communities independently.

    One may treat this case separately: whether the man, or certain groups (cultures, races) has in itself the program to create the bow. It is in fact, in my opinion, not a totally different case from the one claiming cultural interaction, since it again, assumes a common legacy (same cause) but which can actually not be there, and which again, can be alternatively explained by assuming the occurance of conditions that are independent and merely are either identical or have the same outcome.
    ---

    [1] - purely conventional notations, because I have no time to check whether they are fully appropriate, or whether there exist more appropriate notions for them.
    [2] - which I also call "the NF style".
    [3] - which I call "the NT style". It remains to be seen if these "styles", which are based on my observations on people but rather statistical, I actually appropriately associate as such, and how do they work based on the IM. This matter is off-topic and it is left here as a reminder for a different ramification of the subject.
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    EffyCold The Ineffable's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquagraph View Post
    This part caused confusion in me. What do you mean by these "natural means"?
    Natural events that can occur, which are unrelated to the alleged ancestor. Curiosity for instance, it is a natural trait of humans, and it is very likely for primitive people to discover making fire independently by trying to see what happens if you rub two pieces of wood for long, or whatever. A lot of things are rediscovered, it is not necessary to be transmitted through cultural contact/inheritance, neither a ghost to inspire them. Neither one can exclude that possibility, though.

    The same thing can be said about the apparitions of similar phenomenae, they need not be related, but can emerge from identical, similar or analogous conditions. Take for example life, do all the living beings on Earth have only one common ancestor, or different? Assuming life was not created by gods, certainly one of the two hypotheses is true, but neither is certain unless we have actual *empirical* evidence [1]. Any attempt to find out the truth otherwise (analysis, deduction, etc) is IMO impossible, since the very initial physical conditions that generated the first forms of life could have produced one or more than one individuals in the first place. Of course, we may consider that event as the initial cause, but is there any guarantee that such conditions occured only once?
    ---

    [1] - which again, will likely never happen. This is important, since it tells us that we will likely have to live with this uncertainty forever, and stop trying to establish a conventional (made-up) truth.
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    Decadent Charlatan Aquagraph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Ineffable View Post
    Natural events that can occur, which are unrelated to the alleged ancestor.
    I'm not saying that that's a strawman (and not saying it ain't one), but that sure sounds a bit like you would think that I would be referring to some unverifiable spiritual link between people from the past.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Ineffable View Post
    Curiosity for instance, it is a natural trait of humans, and it is very likely for primitive people to discover making fire independently by trying to see what happens if you rub two pieces of wood for long, or whatever. A lot of things are rediscovered, it is not necessary to be transmitted through cultural contact/inheritance, neither a ghost to inspire them. Neither one can exclude that possibility, though.
    Agreed.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Ineffable View Post
    The same thing can be said about the apparitions of similar phenomenae, they need not be related, but can emerge from identical, similar or analogous conditions. Take for example life, do all the living beings on Earth have only one common ancestor, or different? Assuming life was not created by gods, certainly one of the two hypotheses is true, but neither is certain unless we have actual *empirical* evidence [1]. Any attempt to find out the truth otherwise (analysis, deduction, etc) is IMO impossible, since the very initial physical conditions that generated the first forms of life could have produced one or more than one individuals in the first place. Of course, we may consider that event as the initial cause, but is there any guarantee that such conditions occured only once?
    I rarely have such a frustration as I have now since I'm used to disagree with the counterpart when having a debate.

    I apologize as the first post in this thread was left unread on my part as I have a very limited attention span. Yet you seem reasonable and coherent, hence I might pick up an interest to read it later on.
    “I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life. - Osama bin Laden

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