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Thread: Are you a Logical Positivist?

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    Default Are you a Logical Positivist?

    Quite simply: positivism is the view that anything that can't be proven either empircally or mathematically is just meaningless, unverifiable conjecture.

    I am one: even though I studied philosophy academically, I am basically a positivist.

    Why? After studying the history of philosophy, I simply noticed that for any major issue, the debates do not terminate at any point; they therefore do not culminate with one viewpoint being 'mainly right,' 'certain,' 'better,' 'absolutely correct,' etc. The debates just rage on without ever being resolved in any way. My natural conclusion is that philosophy is just conjecture that (at least for the time being) cannot be resolved. I therefore accept positivism.

    The exception: positivists did not accept ethics or ethical viewpoints in any way, deeming them to be 'unverifiable.' I do not agree, as there are basic ethical rights, issues, etc. about which almost everyone agrees. Is murder wrong? Is torture wrong? Do most (if not all) of us deserve basic freedoms? There is certainly something odd about someone not agreeing with the majority on any of those issues.

    *However,* when you start getting into the more complex issues - Do animals have rights? Is euthanasia right? Is abortion wrong? - we are now once again posing a metaphysical question, and just like other metaphysical questions, the debates rage on - with good arguments for both sides. Therefore, metaphysical questions are just hypothethical and there is no single answer to them.

    What is your viewpoint then? Are you a positivist?
    Last edited by jason_m; 05-28-2021 at 03:48 AM.

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    Use of conjectures can bring us farther than obviously proven things. They'll always be a point were you just have to guess for some stuff and figure out if it's true or not as it's used and tested. The idea of proving anything for certain anyway is pretty impossible, anything proven is just a very solid conjecture at it's core until we get the source code for the universe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baqer View Post
    Use of conjectures can bring us farther than obviously proven things. They'll always be a point were you just have to guess for some stuff and figure out if it's true or not as it's used and tested. The idea of proving anything for certain anyway is pretty impossible, anything proven is just a very solid conjecture at it's core until we get the source code for the universe.
    I love the idea of guessing in science - for instance, there is a long equation on the blackboard, someone just 'plugs in an answer randomly' (i.e., by guessing) and it turns out to be correct (e.g, see 'Three Roads to Quantum Gravity' by Lee Smolin p. 40). However, I don't like it when there isn't any answer to speak of, when anything could be true or false. Approximate answers are fine for me. No answer at all is not satisfying...

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    Quote Originally Posted by jason_m View Post
    Quite simply: positivism is the view that anything that can't be proven either empircally or mathematically is just meaningless, unverifiable conjecture.

    I am one: even though I studied philosophy academically, I am basically a positivist.

    Why? After studying the history of philosophy, I simply noticed that for any major issue, the debates do not terminate at any point; they therefore do not culminate with one viewpoint being 'mainly right,' 'certain,' 'better,' 'absolutely correct,' etc. The debates just rage on without ever being resolved in any way. My natural conclusion is that philosophy is just conjecture that (at least for the time being) cannot be resolved. I therefore accept positivism.

    The exception: positivists did not accept ethics or ethical viewpoints in any way, deeming them to be 'unverifiable.' I do not agree, as there are basic ethical rights, issues, etc. about which almost everyone agrees. Is murder wrong? Is torture wrong? Do most (if not all) of us deserve basic freedoms? There is certainly something odd about someone not agreeing with the majority on any of those issues.

    *However,* when you start getting into the more complex issues - Do animals have rights? Is euthanasia right? Is abortion wrong? - we are now once again posing a metaphysical question, and just like other metaphysical questions, the debates rage on - with good arguments for both sides. Therefore, metaphysical questions are just hypothethical and there is no single answer to them.

    What is your viewpoint then? Are you a positivist?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you Christian? If so, how do you square your religious beliefs with the logical-positivist stance on empiricism?

    To answer your question, I'm a pretty hardcore atheist / agnostic (seriously, I don't even have any spiritual beliefs), and I'm probably closer to what you've described more than anything else. I'm certainly open to the possibility of a more elaborate metaphysics, however. There's this book that I've been waiting to read, which raises the possibility that the materialist view of nature is wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xerx View Post
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you Christian? If so, how do you square your religious beliefs with the logical-positivist stance on empiricism?

    To answer your question, I'm a pretty hardcore atheist / agnostic (seriously, I don't even have any spiritual beliefs), and I'm probably closer to what you've described more than anything else. I'm certainly open to the possibility of a more elaborate metaphysics, however. There's this book that I've been waiting to read, which raises the possibility that the materialist view of nature is wrong.
    I'm not a Christian in that sense - I just know that there is a spirit world. I have had certain experiences that I have found to be supernatural that have no other explanation, and I know that there is a spirit world from personal experience. These are not positive experiences, but I know there is a spirit world, so the same logic does not apply... (Think of something like I lived a 'haunted house')
    Last edited by jason_m; 05-29-2021 at 05:12 PM.

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    I'll explain what I mean: I see 'ghosts', I hear 'ghosts' talking to me - it is not always real, and sometimes they are just 'ghosts' fooling with me... I take medication for it and it does almost nothing. And then there is this: https://www.the16types.info/vbulleti...-this-Possible!!!! I meant to say that it was Justin Marsh CURSING me. I think it's him because I often 'see' him when something goes wrong - but the 'ghosts' fool with me and it is often the exact opposite person - either the exact person or the exact opposite type, all the time. I also wonder about the inventor of this theory as she is dead and could know who I am, not like me as well and be the cause...
    Last edited by jason_m; 05-29-2021 at 01:38 PM.

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    I'll give an example of what's wrong with sports: I was big into 1980s sports, but that was not working out at all, so I switched to the 1960s and 1970s. One way I got into sports at that time was through video games. In one video game I loved playing as Carl Yastrzemski. I decided to watch him play. I got ahold of the 'Yaz Game' (named after Yastrzemski). I was blown away by the game - Yaz won the home run title in that game. This was until Harmon Killebrew - who I had only vaguely heard of at the time - tied his record in the bottom of the 9th, ruining his home run record. Then I went back to the 1980s and purchased the 'Ryne Sandberg' game, who I also wanted to see. I was blown away by this game - except Willie McGee outdid him in the game by hitting for the cycle. And then it's just back and forth between a whole bunch of games with something going wrong like this all the time. I would have a great meal: but whoops: the side dish for the meal I ordered is wrong, and nothing can be done about it. I would study for exams, get every answer in the back of the book right when I studied, and then fail the test. In ordering online, restaurants screwed up my order in a small way hundreds of times, and in a big way dozens of times. And I mean it: when it comes to a ball game, meal or exam, something is screwed up every time!

    EDIT: The point is that I know that there is a spirit world. My Christian beliefs are therefore a necessity because of the Hell I live in on a daily basis. Something like karma or reincarnation I don't even dare think about. Because my life is Hell, karmic beliefs are not reassuring to me at all. Therefore, atheism is not an option, and neither are a lot of other religions... My Christianity is not something I can give up. I absolutely need some kind of spirituality in my life to deal with these problems, because I don't know how much worse it could get...
    Last edited by jason_m; 05-29-2021 at 04:48 PM.

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    Animals are way better than most people and they deserve our protection, love and support. However, a lot of them are also yummy food- which is okay and natural. Human beings are omnivores and going too far with the animal care thing is just annoying, inhumane and not natural. It's meant well- but it's one of those many things where people can do bad things out of good intentions.

    Abortion is not wrong as long as it's before a certain point. A clump of cells growing in a uterus is NOT the same thing as a demon eating a healthy newborn baby & people need to stop self-righteously equating the two. People in general need to stop getting their panties in a bunch morally about something that 'probably could have happen' - because shit, then we're not allowed to do much of anything if that was the case and live inside a bubble of terror.

    Is euthanasia right- Yes , as long as the person consents to it. If I'm in so much horrible grimdark pain- death and release is obviously a more compassionate solution than letting me sit there in horrible hellish agony because you have a self-righteous chip on your shoulders and want to play God with my own life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BandD View Post
    Animals are way better than most people and they deserve our protection, love and support. However, a lot of them are also yummy food- which is okay and natural. Human beings are omnivores and going too far with the animal care thing is just annoying, inhumane and not natural. It's meant well- but it's one of those many things where people can do bad things out of good intentions.
    You're onto something. My ethics professor - who was ILE to me- discussed this. He gave the example that you could always go further with things ethically: 'help the animals.' Why don't we go further and take in homeless people during the winter months? Why not take in the animals in nature too? In fact, why not all of the animals in nature? We have to draw the line somewhere, and we don't try to torture animals, but we eat them for food. And this is fine, because if we were to put them out into nature, they would be killed for food anyways... BUT in spite of that, I am flexitarian - part vegetarian, part meat eater.

    Abortion is not wrong as long as it's before a certain point. A clump of cells growing in a uterus is NOT the same thing as a demon eating a healthy newborn baby & people need to stop self-righteously equating the two. People in general need to stop getting their panties in a bunch morally about something that 'probably could have happen' - because shit, then we're not allowed to do much of anything if that was the case and live inside a bubble of terror.
    I agree. After the point of being a bunch of cells, we have to ask ourselves: is it worse to potentially kill an actual child or just undergo the pregnancy and put it up for adoption? I would say if you got pregnant because of unprotected sex, it is far worse to potentially kill a baby than to just undergo the pregnancy and then decide to have the baby adopted. A clump of cells should not matter either way...

    Is euthanasia right- Yes , as long as the person consents to it. If I'm in so much horrible grimdark pain- death and release is obviously a more compassionate solution than letting me sit there in horrible hellish agony because you have a self-righteous chip on your shoulders and want to play God with my own life.
    Because of something that was dreadfully wrong with me cognitively for some time, suicide was something I was considering. I got through it, but I still agree. Dying with dignity is much more important than going through agony. My life is absolute sh*t, but it is still better than having my brain feel like it is being suffocated... I worry again that it was something with food and meals, but I digress...

    EDIT: I guess you could say that there are still good arguments on both sides, and that is the problem...
    Last edited by jason_m; 05-29-2021 at 02:16 PM.

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    Interesting bone to chew on, jason_m. Accepting a narrative till new evidence comes up is something (and related to that is examining the means we use for evidence creation). I recall that this was Wittgenstein's final thesis of sorts when he got fed up with metaphysics.

    Possibly an interesting read: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.149114
    ''So sanity is acceptance of the appearance and at the same time awareness that what we think we have to accept is never really how things are.''

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalinoche buenanoche View Post
    Interesting bone to chew on, jason_m. Accepting a narrative till new evidence comes up is something (and related to that is examining the means we use for evidence creation). I recall that this was Wittgenstein's final thesis of sorts when he got fed up with metaphysics.
    That is precisely where my viewpoint comes from. I read Wittgenstein like mad, and basically came to the same conclusion; I have a few addendums, but to me, he was the greatest philosopher of all time - and the most accurate to boot...

    (If you read his biography, he believed in God as well...)

    I will look into it...

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    Quote Originally Posted by jason_m View Post
    Quite simply: positivism is the view that anything that can't be proven either empircally or mathematically is just meaningless, unverifiable conjecture.

    I am one: even though I studied philosophy academically, I am basically a positivist.

    Why? After studying the history of philosophy, I simply noticed that for any major issue, the debates do not terminate at any point; they therefore do not culminate with one viewpoint being 'mainly right,' 'certain,' 'better,' 'absolutely correct,' etc. The debates just rage on without ever being resolved in any way. My natural conclusion is that philosophy is just conjecture that (at least for the time being) cannot be resolved. I therefore accept positivism.

    The exception: positivists did not accept ethics or ethical viewpoints in any way, deeming them to be 'unverifiable.' I do not agree, as there are basic ethical rights, issues, etc. about which almost everyone agrees. Is murder wrong? Is torture wrong? Do most (if not all) of us deserve basic freedoms? There is certainly something odd about someone not agreeing with the majority on any of those issues.

    *However,* when you start getting into the more complex issues - Do animals have rights? Is euthanasia right? Is abortion wrong? - we are now once again posing a metaphysical question, and just like other metaphysical questions, the debates rage on - with good arguments for both sides. Therefore, metaphysical questions are just hypothethical and there is no single answer to them.

    What is your viewpoint then? Are you a positivist?
    If you believe that conjectures are meaningless, then so is positivism a conjecture, therefore positivism is meaningless. That's the conclusion that Wittgenstein came up with.

    However, we don't have to believe that conjectures are meaningless. We can believe that conjectures are tentative answers until we come up with a new conjecture.

    Science is a conjecture because scientific theories are conjectures. People say that science is about falsifiability, but they often don't know what that means. Falsification is about proving something wrong, not proving something right. You can only prove a scientific theory wrong, not right.

    People often have a hard time wrapping their heads around this idea, because they believe that they'll need to "prove" something until it becomes "valid". But in reality, nothing can be "proven" because things can always be proven wrong: that's falsificationism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xerx View Post
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you Christian? If so, how do you square your religious beliefs with the logical-positivist stance on empiricism?

    To answer your question, I'm a pretty hardcore atheist / agnostic (seriously, I don't even have any spiritual beliefs), and I'm probably closer to what you've described more than anything else. I'm certainly open to the possibility of a more elaborate metaphysics, however. There's this book that I've been waiting to read, which raises the possibility that the materialist view of nature is wrong.
    If our types would clash, it would be about SLEs. I simply don't like a villain at all, and unless I'm missing something, they are portrayed in a lot of places as the 'villain's villain.' I have respect for Christianity, but I mean this in more of a 'Darth Vader'/'Star Wars' sense than about Christianity...
    Last edited by jason_m; 05-30-2021 at 09:02 AM.

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    nope on logical positivism for me -- world moves nonstop, decay never sleeps, decisions need made! almost always case by case. anything too hard and low-stakes-enough can get a coin flip.

    one of my fav models of the world is "stories telling stories" x ∞. also measuring stuff is cool! and I expect most crap that happens three times to happen a fourth.
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    I would even say that my problem with philosophy is a personal problem - I need answers. We can go on all day about how positivism is still a conjecture - and that is still true - but when I personally study something, I need an answer; it doesn't have to be a hard, 'infallible' type of answer - a soft, approximate one will do - but I cannot be satisfied with something personally until I find some kind of answer, and of course, philosophy is notorious for not having any kind of answer to its the problems at all. Therefore, that is my problem with the field, and I feel that this is in line with both Wittgenstein and the logical positivists.

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    There are also people who are 'SLE' - baseball player Willie Stargell would be an example - who do all sorts of humanitarian stuff. It makes me confused about the typing, as that is the exact opposite of a villain. Therefore, with my Star Wars-esque point of view, I commend him as his behaviour does not compute in the theory... I.e., maybe the type is not always a villain, which is the way they are portrayed in the theory...

    I guess the bottom line is that if I am 'Fi', it is because I don't like villains period. I am not some kind of vigilante or crusader, but I simply cannot stand villainous behaviour... Seeing somebody torture or murder someone makes me cringe... I guess I am somehow special in the theory because of this, but I don't call myself 'Fi', because I don't buy that this is in any way 'special'... In Ti terms, I think that line of reasoning is 'foolish.'
    Last edited by jason_m; 05-30-2021 at 10:53 AM.

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    Also, a book recommendation for this thread:

    https://archive.org/details/physicsbeyondenc0000heis

    - This book is about several major physicists' philosophical views - e.g., Niels Bohr, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg. Chapter 7 (p. 82) for religion and Chapter 11 (p. 125) for positivism.
    Last edited by jason_m; 05-30-2021 at 01:30 PM.

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    I guess what I could say about those physicists is that many in that chapter were atheists but all of them - except for Dirac - were open-minded about religion. As someone Ne, I mind people who aren't open-minded - who have their mind made up, and you could argue with them for an eternity and they will never change their opinion. As 'Ne', those people would be 'Se' to me... It can work the other way as well with Se: there can be people so stuck in their ways with religion that even doing something like drinking alcohol is wrong to them. How narrow-minded both sides appear to me - those who are vehement atheists and those who 'condemn' others for something like drinking alcohol...
    Last edited by jason_m; 05-30-2021 at 06:13 PM.

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    "meaningless, unverifiable conjecture" is a great source of entertainment

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    I am definitely not a logical positivist at all. Empirical truths are well and good, but tell us nothing about how we ought to behave or what we should seek in life. Your exception I feel is ample criticism against logical positivism as a philosophy. You cannot mathematically prove to me that there is anything odd about someone who disagrees with the majority on "basic ethical rights," and that implies to me that you yourself believe there to be meaning outside of what can be empirically proven
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    It is difficult to think of a claim that isn't at least in part susceptible to being proven empirically. If I were a logical positivist and nothing more, I would therefore lack sufficient grounds to doubt almost anything. Thankfully, I'm not one; whether I believe a claim or not comes down to my instincts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xerx View Post
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you Christian? If so, how do you square your religious beliefs with the logical-positivist stance on empiricism?

    To answer your question, I'm a pretty hardcore atheist / agnostic (seriously, I don't even have any spiritual beliefs), and I'm probably closer to what you've described more than anything else. I'm certainly open to the possibility of a more elaborate metaphysics, however. There's this book that I've been waiting to read, which raises the possibility that the materialist view of nature is wrong.
    I'll answer differently now: surely as intuitive type, you are willing to concede the possibility of a higher order or higher power to the universe, right? What you see is not always what you get... This of course does not mean that a strictly Christian or even silly form of karmic belief system is right... I think of something like Plato's Cave, where what we see in this world is only some 2-dimensional version of the deeper reality, a reality that we cannot even grasp through something like religion or even science... I also have a whole stack of books on the paranormal. That is more interesting to me than some narrow-minded fundamentalist's conception of God... But I am still open to religion...
    Last edited by jason_m; Yesterday at 11:39 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jason_m View Post
    I'll answer differently now: surely as intuitive type, you are willing to concede the possibility of a higher order or higher power to the universe, right? What you see is not always what you get... This of course does not mean that a strictly Christian or even silly form of karmic belief system is right... I think of something like Plato's Cave, where what we see in this world is only some 2-dimensional version of the deeper reality, a reality that we cannot even grasp through something like religion or even science... I also have a whole stack of books on the paranormal. That is more interesting to me than some narrow-minded fundamentalist's conception of God... But I am still open to religion...
    I'll concede the possibility, but I'm not going any further than that.

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