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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on July 26, 2003 17:50:12 UTC


I already posted a response to your comments yesterday. Apparently the post did not take. Since my wife brought the mail in at the moment I posted, I thought it was possible that I omitted a subject. This is my third try. There may be some residue of John's hiding mechanism which is causing my posts not to appear!

I will try to reproduce my comments though I know I will not come up with the wit and intelligence which appeared in the original spontaneous response. Sorry about that.

Let us not worry about how I came to hide you, the only consequences are that it is a tad more difficult for me check for your posts. I always accept the consequences of my decisions and it certainly has no impact on your prerogatives at all..

I was trained as a physicist and I am quite familiar with the thought processes of scientists and mathematicians. I am very confident that my division is a perfect abstraction of their methods. On the other hand, I know very little of the thought processes of philosophers. I have no idea what you have in mind when you refer to "logical problem solving" as a category as I cannot comprehend the idea of "illogical problem solving" so I will lay that category aside until you provide further revelations.

Clearly, with regard to epistemic problem solving, and ontic problem solving I am not privy to the methods philosophers use. I can only comment on examples you provide. You present an example of a problem apparently to be solved by "ontic problem solving methods": i.e., you say, "believing in God's existence and providing an argument for God is traditionally such an ontic approach". You seem to hold that my conceptual divisions do not apply to your ontic problem solving. I simply do not comprehend your failure to recognize the existence of these same abstract divisions in the example you present. The three conceptual divisions are: basic information which is to be explained (things taken to be true: i.e., believing in God's existence), the explanation which will be found acceptable after the problem is solved (the argument which you are to provide), and the other things implied by the explanation (things implied by the argument whatever they happen to be).

I am of the opinion that the conceptual division I present not only exists but that the failure to recognize its existence is fatal to rational problem solving. Any rational thinker makes exactly these divisions when ever they go to solve a problem, what they do not do is recognize the division as an abstract fundamental requirement. A refusal to recognize the differences between the three components of a problem is a refusal to recognize the fact that they must be held to quite different constraints. When searching for the solution to a problem, one must not change the things which are to be explained. On the other hand, until the solution is discovered, the things implied by the solution are not to be fixed at all. The constraints on the two conceptually different things are opposites of one another. I am curious as to whether or not you would show the same reluctance to admit facts and explanations are conceptually different when it comes to your methods of problem solving.

You bring up "methods" as a criteria for judging what I am trying to do. What is clear to me is the fact that you do not comprehend my method at all. The central issue is the logic I use to transform the abstract representation of virtually any problem into a problem amenable to mathematics . This logic clearly confounds you. You concern yourself with the division between "logical methods", "epistemic methods" and "ontic methods". Your concern with this division is totally beyond my comprehension as I am clearly presenting an original method which cannot be classified as a member of the set of methods already in use. If my attack was taken by anyone, in any field, they would have discovered what I have discovered long ago. The only reason I am the only person to have discovered what I have is that no one else has ever looked where I have looked.

You also show a concern with establishing my assumptions when I have clearly stated that my intention is to make no assumptions; my wish is to assure that there exists no problem which cannot be cast into my arguments, a prospect which you seem to hold as absolutely impossible. As I said, your cavils have been very educational as they have informed me that many of the insights which I have taken as obvious are not at all obvious to others. This abstract conceptual division is apparently one of those insights.

To ignore the differences between these different components is to constrain yourself to a situation which can not possibly bring to the forefront all of the issues central to a solution of a general problem. If you cannot conceive of a way of handling the specific differences between these three abstract components of problem solving, then any attack on the problem of solving problems is doomed before you begin. I think I understand why you take these tacks. You firmly believe that no general abstract mechanism for problem solving exists so you are trying to cut the discussion short by pointing out what you believe to be insurmountable problems. My only point is that you will never see that which you do not look for.

Believe me, your example, "if one of the requirements to set up your math was to accept that there is spiritual and evil data in the world, notice how troubling that would be for your paper", is not troubling to my paper at all. If you were to attempt to solve a problem where belief in that requirement were necessary to the solution, all the results of my paper would apply as well to that starting point as any other.

Trying to use examples which cannot be handled by my attack, is a complete waste of time so long as you fail to comprehend any of the mechanisms I use to transform the general problem into a mathematical problem. You continually want to bring the attack down to a specific situation without bothering to understanding the attack. I can bring any problem you can conceive of into my representation because I understand the attack. If you understood the attack, you could do the same.

You comment that my "paper doesn't work if there are no external 'truths' per se". That is a complete falsehood. Had you said, my paper doesn't work if nothing exists which the solver would regard as true, I would give you some credit for maybe having an inkling as to why my method works; however, even there, if you really understood my method, you would understand that it still works even if the "knowable data" vanishes.

I am sorry that I make bystanders unhappy. I would avoid doing so if I knew how to do it and still communicate my thoughts. There is no point in my development where "knowable data" and "unknowable data" are handled any differently in my analysis; thus there is no need to perform any classification. The central issue of my approach is that, what ever the explanation is, those things which are to be explained (whether they are the things presumed or implied) must conform to the final explanation.

Finally, why would you declare a pragmatic purpose is not a purpose?

Have fun -- Dick

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