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Ad Hominem As Usual

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Posted by Harvey on July 29, 2003 21:18:31 UTC


I'm convinced that you overly rely on ad hominem attacks whenever you face real difficulty in debating. My arguments were actually a 'dumbed down' means to get across the philosophical issues of ontic-epistemic distinctions that went way above your head (actually, I don't even think you know what 'ontic' or 'epistemic' means, and I have good reason to think this is so). In any case, I'll ignore your ad hominem attacks since these are obviously logical fallacies. Your other arguments are much further removed from being fallacious reasoning.

What I find noteworthy, is no where did you attempt to show how the terms 'spiritual', etc were not justified in putting next to your ontic terms. Your whole reply amounts to "this is not what I meant". I don't care what you meant. You didn't give any justification that "what you meant" limits things being referenced with things that you did not mean.

The central issue here is your apparent inability to grasp the meanings I intend in the context of my explanations and your explicit inability to apply what I am saying to your "examples".

You have to establish your meanings in a manner that doesn't open up other possibilities (e.g., 'spiritual' data). You are setting up a mathematical construction, math doesn't care if you are referencing 'spiritual' data, or 'psychodelic' data, or 'knowable' data. You have to put forth an argument on why those things don't belong in that mathematical set-up. This you didn't do.

However, if you insert the same word for two different purposes, then you are using the substitution to defeat the clarity provided by context.

"This is not what I meant" argument. Mathematics doesn't care what you meant. You could have meant 'spiritual' data. You have to show why those absurd references are precluded.

So you have no idea if there really is [anything you believe to be true] when it comes to "spiritual problems". If that is the case, what is your explanation supposed to explain.

Explanations might only satisfy some human need. Nothing more can be assumed about what a good explanation accomplishes.

But, more important than that, you imply that the set of problems which you define as "spiritual" contain nothing which anyone could believe to be true.

Define the term 'true' in terms of some tangible reference (e.g., experiment, comparison to some mathematical rule, etc). Otherwise I think you are referring to some ontic meaning that you can place the word [spiritual] in front of it.

If I were to accept your argument as logically valid, it would be completely equivalent to the rather childish assumption that if the adjective "spiritual" is attached to a problem, common sense not only does not apply to solving the problem but must be avoided if one is to examine the problem solvers technique.

No, the math doesn't care if you attach [spiritual] in front of the word 'problem', and nor does it require [knowable] be in front of the word 'problem'. These selection by you was entirely arbitrary. And, people all the time say they confront 'spiritual problems'. Just ask them.

Your rejection out of hand, of the existence of any specific problem amounts to an assumption that there is no problem there. Once again, you bring up what you believe to be a vacuous problem. And once again, you imply that the problem cannot exist and that no one could believe such a problem exists. You are assuming that the set of all problems lacks this problem. There are lots of problems in the world which are completely cooked up in someone's head. If those people, believing what they believe, make an attempt to rationally solve that problem they are once again confronted with exactly the same circumstance I am talking about. There are things the problem solver thinks are true and which he believes requires an explanation (otherwise there is no problem). In addition the problem together with the solution may very well include things that may someday be shown to be false.

This text actually made me laugh. You actually appear to be confusing yourself. No one is denying that problems don't exist. Nor am I denying that spiritual problems exist. Nor am I denying that psychodelic problems exist. What I deny is that the term 'exist' can be used as an ontic term as you are doing. You have to remove the ontic references.

The set of all [spiritual] possible problems must include all [spiritual] problems unless you can present a specific mechanism to exclude some of [the spiritual problems]. If not, the assumption that such a [spiritual] problem does not exist is an unwarranted assumption.

Ontic references galore. I took the trouble to put 'spiritual' references next to the ontic terms until you take the trouble to convert your ontic terms to epistemic terms. If you continue to use ontic terms, then I will continue to assume that by 'problems' you mean spiritual ones. Do you see how faulty your reasoning is? My gosh, I hope so. I can't believe someone who went so far knows so little.

Solving a problem is the process of finding a solution which explains the things one believes to be true. If the things you believe to be true change, the solution will probably also change. The issue is that in both cases, the problem consists of the same three components I have pointed out: there are things the problem solver thinks are true and which he believes requires an explanation (otherwise there is no problem). In addition the problem together with the solution may very well include things that may someday be shown to be false.

You use of 'true' and 'false' is in terms of ontic terminology and not epistemic terminology. This is perhaps the root of your confusion on this issue.

You are apparently repeating the same confused argument over and over again. The essence of you argument appears to be, there are stupid problems in the collection of all possible problems thus it follows that all problems cannot possibly be divided into the three components Dick has proposed. Your proof must be "stupid problems can not be so divided because they are stupid". Sounds like an argument one might get from a six year old.

No, you completely misunderstand what I am trying to teach you. You use ontic terms that do not preclude a whole world of ontic substitutions. You need to use epistemic terms, otherwise there's no reason to restrict the process of substitution with other ontic terms (e.g., spiritual, psychodelic, moral, etc). You have simply chosen the set of terms that you think would most interest scientists, but you have not (epistemologically) justified these terms as being in anyway the only possible or rationally warranted choices.

What I am saying has nothing to do with what you or anyone else "wants"! What I am talking about are the [spiritual] characteristics inherent in [spiritual] rational problem solving. If you do not believe there is any [spiritual] possibility you are [spiritually] wrong, then it does not seem to me that you have any interest in [spiritual] problem solving: you believe you have found the [spiritual] solution to all your [spiritual] problems. Nevertheless, the circumstance still fulfills my [spiritual] description completely: there are things the [spiritual] problem solver thinks are [spiritually] true and which he believes requires [a spiritual explanation]. In addition the [spiritual] problem together with the [spiritual] solution may very well include things that may someday be shown to be [spiritually] false (the fact that the supposed [spiritual] problem solver thinks that the [spiritual] set vanishes is no more than a statement that he has no intention of being [spiritually] rational).

Again, ontic terms are used. I took the opportunity to 'translate' your text in terms of spiritual ontic terms (instead of your vague ontic terms). When I did that, I saw your text in its true spiritual meaning. You want us to avoid being spiritually wrong, and to believe in spiritual possibilities, and also see that today's spiritual problems and spiritual solutions might be spiritually false. Have you ever thought of being a minister?

Do you see what happens when you stick to ontic terms as you are doing? Your text looks ridiculous. This is how many, many people have been reading you all these years. You might as well start doing this in the future. This is the translation by which people interpret you.

A direct example of my earlier complaint concerning your use of the same word for two different definitions.

No, you misunderstand the rules of inserting my ontic terms. I insert the applicable ontic term whenever you reference an ontic term. If the sentence still makes sense, then that gives added weight that I was justified in making this insertion. Let me give you an example of how it could fail:

P1: All men are created equal.
P1':[Spiritually] all men are [spiritually] created [as spiritual] equals.

In P1' I took the ontic terms and inserted 'spiritual' ontic adjectives. It shows that P1 is an ontic statement that is subject to abuse by a philosopher.

P2: After an exhaustive physical census (see the methods/questions in appendix A), the responses by those questioned were that they believed that all citizens of the United States should have the same constitutional rights.
P2': After an exhaustive physical census (see the methods/questions in appendix A), the responses by those questioned were that they believed that all citizens of the United States should have the same constitutional rights.

Now, P2 has no clearly distinguishable ontic terms. This is where you paper fails miserably. Almost all of your key terms are ontic terms. What's wrong with that? Nothing, if you are justifying your paper on ontic terms. Of course, this leaves your paper wide open to differing interpretations (e.g., spiritual, psychodelic, moral, etc). Got it?

Restricting my statement to "spiritual" problems does not make the statement false as it applies to any problem, spiritual or otherwise. I do notice that you seem to make a concerted effort to imply that my concerns are religious concerns.

Exactly. It doesn't make it false. It doesn't make it true either. Plus, you are subject to bizarre interpretations that make your paper dubious. In other words, it wouldn't (and shouldn't) be taken seriously.

Lots of problems and lots of solutions proposed are extremely hair brained. What does that have to do with the problem of solving problems. So what if there are no "real" spiritual problems or "real" spiritual solutions? Again, you seem to be saying that the existence of vacuous problems deny my analysis of problems in general. The existence or non-existence or the stupidity or lack of stupidity of any specific problem has absolutely nothing to do with the logical structure of problem solving! No more than it has anything to do with the structure of a logical step in a syllogism.

You have arbitrarily made your paper's topic about 'problem solving'. If we change the ontic references to psychodelic problem solving, then presumably your paper has no any meaning whatsoever. It is entirely meaningless. Likewise, if there are no real problems and no real solutions, just problems we classify as problems having satisfactory solutions, then your paper is also meaningless. Add this onto the notion that all of these ontic references are terribly misleading and confusing, and it is clear that we cannot construct any meaning from your math unless there are predictions that go along with it. This is a major reason why science is successful. It does associate problem solving in mathematical form, but it obtains predictions. If those predictions are valid, then we give credence to the mathematical model (theory) and then work based on that theoretical approach. It doesn't mean we treat the theory as 'true', it is just a framework by which to 'solve' other 'problems'. None of these terms should be construed in some ultimate ontic sense as you have done in your paper.

Again without presenting a single logical argument to refute any part of what I said, you instead pour on volumes of poorly conceived examples buried in emotional implications that what I have said is not logical.

To be blunt: unfortunately you do not understand the philosophical argument in its legitimate form which I tried to convey, so I have no choice but to twist your ontic terms into other another ontic meaning, and hopefully show you that you are confused by your prejudiced ontic word preferences. I knew you would reject the ontic twist of meaning as taking you out of context, but the point is that just because you have a desired context to portray your paper, does not mean that this context is meaningful without epistemic terms.

By the way, I wouldn't insult Alan's intellect if I were you; your arguments are very nearly on exactly the same level.

Ouch, that was low. I looked up in an obscure philosophical dictionary if there was any extreme ad hominem attacks that associate one with Alan, and I found it: ad alanhominem. Thank you Dick for that insult, I learned a new philosophical term.

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