William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

We Are All Dogmatic

Huffington Post’s Chris Stedman is convinced that dogmatism, which he opposes in all its “forms”, is a bad thing, and that to criticize “dogmatic principles and practices is essentially important in the effort to promote social progress”. Stedman is wrong.

It used to be that dogma was defined, via the previous Century’s Webster, in words most strong: “A formally stated and authoritatively settled doctrine; a definite, established, and authoritative tenet.” What could be more muscular than that? Dogma was a set of true beliefs, or at least a set of beliefs thought true, that were thought justified, and known to be authoritative. When you acted and justified your actions by reference to dogma, you thus behaved rationally. Dogma

Dogma now means not a truth, but a falsity that is held to be true incorrectly. There are shades of incorrigibleness and arbitrariness attached to the modern word, of willful stupidity or stubbornness. Those who hold with a dogma are either ignorant or foolish, perhaps both. Only we Enlightened few know—we are convinced!—that holding with any dogma is stupid, dangerous, harmful, and is at the very least unproductive.

Which is to say, we Enlightened few hold with a settled, definite, established, and authoritative (papers can be cited) truth that dogma is a bad thing. We Enlightened few are thus inflicted with a unique kind of insanity, one that never beset the religious—who were never so foolish as to spout, “We follow a dogma but claim that all dogma is ridiculous.” Only the highest educated among us—the highest credentialed, I mean—hold dogmatically that dogma is unjustified.

It is true, and obvious, that some beliefs held by the religious are false and that others are probably false (which is not the same thing as false), but it does not follow from this that all religious beliefs are false. Just as it does not follow that all secular beliefs are false because many are. Yet the Enlightened hope that by calling a religious doctrine dogmatic, they save themselves the mental effort required in refuting that doctrine.

Hannah Appel, a Columbia professor, whom I unfairly inform you will teach an “Occupy 101″ class complete with field trips, was quoted as saying, “It’s best to be critical of the things we hold most sacred.” Appel expresses what most Enlightened folks believe, and what is often expressed by them.

If we take her at her word (a dangerous option), Appel has told us that she holds with a certain truth, a moral truth about what is best. This truth, to Appel anyway, is a dogma. If what she says is what is best, then there is (to her) that which is less than best. Again, it doesn’t matter whether or not it really is best that we be critical of all things we hold most sacred. It only matters that Appel holds to a dogma, that she is being dogmatic.

And then I would be willing to bet that she, or any of the legion of Enlightened who hear her music, does not believe that it is best to be critical of all things we hold most sacred. Step into her classroom and dare to challenge any of the pieties progressive professors profess and you will learn quickly the force of the sacred.

Truth exists, there is that which is true. Because that is so, and because it is rational to believe what is true, there is dogma. The goal of all science is dogma: the formation of authoritatively settled doctrines, of definite, established, and authoritative tenets.

You might think to escape this conclusion by saying, “There is no truth. There is only that which we believe ‘true’, beliefs which are ever in flux, and which are genetically and culturally determined,” then you are espousing the dogma that there is no truth.

If you say to yourself, “I’m not dogmatic. I’m always willing to change my mind when new evidence comes along,” then besides advertising your own self-importance, you have at least settled on the dogmatic truth that to change one’s mind (when warranted) is a good thing. And once again you have negated your primary tenet that you are not dogmatic.

If you opine, “We only hold things ‘true’ provisionally; we never touch truth, we only get ever nearer,” then you have merely re-phrased the previous argument, and have espoused the “truth” that “we never touch truth.”

If you manage to choke out, “‘Truth’ is a vote: that which most people decide is so, is so,” then you are almost certainly lying, but if not you have concluded dogmatically that truth is a vote. But the real money is on the lie: it is empirically observed that those who make this statement are those most often dissatisfied with the outcomes of votes.

The only save is to claim that dogma only applies to religious beliefs. But you’d have all the difficulties of defining religious versus non-religious statements, and you’d be left agreeing that certainty, knowledge, and truth, i.e. dogma, is the goal of religion. In other words, you’d fall back to the original position of having to demonstrate sound arguments about which religious beliefs are false and which true. Dismissing religious beliefs out of hand because they are religious is only for the playground.

40 Comments

  1. There you go again with your verbiage against relativism. Shame on you, you ought to be wiser than that given your age.

    Yeah, we all hold our own dogmas. We are, as the old dead man once said “all too human”. To nurture skepticism towards all of our dogmas, even to this dogma itself, seems to me not to be a “Truth”, silly you for proposing that this is such, but rather an healthy way of thinking.

    Do men fail to be skeptical of their most holy truths? Are you really asking if whether we are or not perfect beasts? We are animals, brutes, mammals, our glands too big, our hormones too quick to spread adrenalin through our veins, ready to cut the throats to all of those who disagree with us. What I fail to see is how this basic observation of our human condition is evidence that we should hold to our sacred truths forever and ever without any skepticism.

    This diatribe of yours is appalling and wretched. Even after so many years of Enlightenment, we still get to read and hear these godawful mental diarrheas from the Absolutist way of thinking. But, quoting the old dead man again, it’s perfectly predictable, it’s “all too human” anyway.

  2. Briggs

    5 January 2012 at 9:29 am

    Luis, my old pal, you misunderstand: don’t be so dogmatic! The point is that not only do we all hold to a dogma, whatever these might be, but that we must, that it is necessarily so that we do. This simple logical fact has consequences, which I only sketch here (which is yet another proof against skepticism, in the philosophical sense).

    Plus, nowhere here do I say we should not be skeptical of anything, if by skeptical we mean questioning and up for challenge.

    Once you calm down, come back and show, in the manner I have shown, exactly why this argument is “appalling and wretched.”

  3. Yes I know you keep telling us how we “must” cling on to something absolute, a “starting point” of some kind, nevermind that you never tell us what exactly it is and show us any convincing evidence or argument that this is so. Perhaps that’s exactly the dogma you cling on unskeptically, which would be deliciously ironic. You keep hammering on this, pounding on the table “This Is So!” and pat youself on the back for the wit of it.

    Yes, I’m tired of this very particular act of yours, since you never actually give any “juice” to show any support of what is clearly a big nonsense.

    Why is it a “big nonsense”? It’s obvious. Once one asks oneself what is this “absolute truth” that one must hold before making any other argument whatsoever, and one dwelves into particular propositions that seem undeniable and irrevokable, but the funny part is, you can always deconstruct it. You can always show how every proposition depends upon assuming other propositions as “true”. It’s turtles all the way down. And if this is the case, then you can never be absolutely sure of anything, if you are to be rigorous.

    Thing is, you don’t need anything of this. You will accept some propositions as “given”, as “absolutely true”, as “dogma”, whatever you will call it, to derive and work out some other propositions. You will do this knowing that what you are doing is a “cheat”, is “provisionary”, is not “absolute” at all. And once you figure this out, you will realise that everything can be called into question.

    So you see, your rant is ridiculous. The problem is not if whether if everything can or cannot be called into question. The interesting question is rather if it is reasonable or productive for us to waste or invest some time into questioning certain “premises” or “dogmas” or whatever in a single moment. We have finite time in our lives, we cannot waste them into questioning everything, even if we wanted to.

  4. To be clear, what annoys me is your constant patronizing tone telling me how silly it is to be a relativist, hinting at really shallow and simplistic arguments (are you telling me that it is absolutely true that there are no absolute truths? Ar ar ar, how cleverly witty I am!!), and without any real juice behind it at all.

    If you are to insult the audience for so long, at least be sure to invest some time into explaining why such insults are not merely an indication of your insecurities on the matter.

  5. The fine art of decision-making and reaching true conclusions based on unconsciously recognized clues that make the decsion-maker appear to have ESP…or… decisions reached on contemplated analysis that, in hindsight, makes the decsion-maker appear like a doofus have been studied at length. The findings are interesting — and they relate, somewhat, to this little essay about dogma.

    Where a belief/conclusion/decision/”dogma” is reached there are some good techniques that can be applied to test validity (e.g. “crystal ball” & “pre-mortem,” decision scenarios and related scenario modeling). These, of course, only work where the people involved can admit they might be wrong–where their fragile little “egos” aren’t so wrapped up into their analyses that they take everything personally.

    Check some of this out at: http://markettorrent.com/community/5451#5. The Power of Mental Simulation

    At that site there are some links to some some detailed analyses of major (some in/famous) events that were analyzed in depth to illustrate how things often go right or wrong for seemingly inexplicable reasons. The so-called Silkworm Incident in the Gulf War is an example of ESP that wasn’t ( http://markettorrent.com/community/7489) and the infamous Vincennes Shootdown where computer-aided analysis was very wrong ( http://markettorrent.com/community/5451#6. The Vincennes Shootdown ). The referenced stories are well into the webpages provided & some scrolling down/keyword searching is required.

  6. Briggs

    5 January 2012 at 11:29 am

    Ok, Luis, let’s begin. Do you believe there are any fundamental truths? And are you telling me that I must not use the word “must”?

  7. So true. Our present world view is our dogma. Amusing how relatavists are obviously dogmatic for relatavism. (Slap a moral relativist ad hoc and see how strong this relatavism holds.) They hate absolutism absolutely. They won’t tolerate what they perceive as intolerance. And these contradictions are usually glossed over with a weasel pronouncement such as, “It’s a paradox”, which explain nothing but seems so very profound. Dogma is good if it is reflected upon, refined, and better understood. Being critical for the sake of being critical is too often a sophormoric exercise. Better to be open to being critical as needed through a self-reflecting, inquisitve mind.

  8. Yeah… I notice with some irony that Luis Dias seems to be quite proving Briggs point.

    “Yes, I’m tired of this very particular act of yours, since you never actually give any “juice” to show any support of what is clearly a big nonsense.

    To be clear, what annoys me is your constant patronizing tone telling me how silly it is to be a relativist, hinting at really shallow and simplistic arguments (are you telling me that it is absolutely true that there are no absolute truths? Ar ar ar, how cleverly witty I am!!), and without any real juice behind it at all.”

    So you don’t like Briggs being critical of things you hold sacred?

    Why would a relativist care about any “act” of Briggs any more than they would care about someone’s opinion on the Star Wars prequels?

  9. This is FUN! Watching real, live words ripping Enlightened ones’ fragile egos to shreds.

  10. As Tom Lehrer once said, “Some people don’t love their fellow humans, and I hate people like that.”

  11. Hi Briggs. Your argument seems to have a flaw — you assume some things about assumptions that may not be ‘true’. Suppose that my fundamental assumptions are dynamic and that we share no fundamental assumptions in common. Can’t I come up with a set that falsify your assertion?

    For example, besides the low-hanging fruit of “the law of the excluded middle”, suppose I believe that neither absolute zero nor infinity exist and that I might change my mind tomorrow. Am I dogmatic? Suppose I go further and say that I might drop the requirement that analysis be consistent. Am I still doomed to dogmatism?

    Also. What exactly (and consistently) are YOU dogmatic about? And in your reply, aren’t you always open to some possibility of error?

    Seems to me there may be the possibility of knowing everyone is dogmatic, but not being able to say for sure what that dogmatism is.

  12. Mr Briggs wonders if the meaning of the word has changed in recent history. A fair question indeed.

    Online Etymology Dictionary

    dogma
    c.1600 (in plural dogmata), from L. dogma “philosophical tenet,” from Gk. dogma (gen. dogmatos) “opinion, tenet,” lit. “that which one thinks is true,” from dokein “to seem good, think” (see decent). Treated in 17c.-18c. as a Greek word in English.
    dogmatic
    1670s, from L.L. dogmaticus, from Gk. dogmatikos “pertaining to doctrines,” from dogma (see dogma). Related: Dogmatical (c.1600).

    It seems that the current meaning has become far more critical of those who are dogmatic, and has lost its “doctorine” references altogether.

    Current Online Dictionary;
    1. a. (of a statement, opinion, etc) forcibly asserted as if authoritative and unchallengeable
    2. of, relating to, or constituting dogma: dogmatic writings
    3. based on assumption rather than empirical observation

    Personaly, I don’t see any harm in dogmatism, or in being dogmatic. Once upon a time it was a prized attribute of investigative reporters.

  13. Noblesse Oblige

    5 January 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Check out Dan Kahneman’s excellent new book “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” which lays out the case for how and why we draw conclusions on sparse information and then defend them. Freeman Dyson has an incisive review http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/dec/22/how-dispel-your-illusions/?pagination=false

    This is backed by a large body of research, not the bogus pop psych junk that we are bombarded with and gleefully chewed up by Matt.

    The more speculative part of the book discusses how this hard wired attribute may have provided an evolutionary advantage.

  14. Great post- forwarding to all of my friends.

  15. Luis: “are you telling me that it is absolutely true that there are no absolute truths? Ar ar ar, how cleverly witty I am!!”

    It isn’t an attempt to be clever or witty. If someone makes a statement that itself negates the truth of the statement then it is certainly appropriate to point it out.

    It is indeed uncomfortable when someone points out obvious logical contradictions with one’s position. But when the curtain is pulled back and the logical contradictions revealed, let’s not pretend we can ignore the existence of the logical contradictions by accusing the man who pulled back the curtain of clever and witty rhetorical tricks.

  16. Is there ever a situation in which something is said to be “proved” separate from those situations in which some group of people has been persuaded to believe something? I think not. It seems to me that often people use the word “proof” to draw the curtain over the fact that someone has been persuaded to believe something, usually that “we” have been persuaded and agree that something is true. No, I don’t mean that knowing truth is impossible but only that a correspondence between truth and what we believe is accidental and sometimes coincidental.

    Is this me being a relativist? I don’t think so because I believe our attempts to determine truth are guided and constrained by what is really true and we meet with varying degrees of success finding it because we all live in our skulls drawing conclusions about the outside world.

    I also think that realising this and a bit of humility would stop us shouting at each other about it.

  17. Ok, Luis, let’s begin. Do you believe there are any fundamental truths? And are you telling me that I must not use the word “must”?

    Is the universe sustained by “fundamental truths”? Does the universe cares about the propositions some primates may or may not write about it? I find this obsession with these words “fundamental” “objective reality”, “absolute truth” astonishingly egocentric. Even if I were to admit the possibility of its existence, which I only do because I am not 100% sure of anything, how could anyone know with total certainty that they have reached it? I still haven’t seen any mechanism which is able to cross this valley between this common world of uncertainty with your utopian world filled with perfect godly knowledge. Until u are able to do so, you are just as limited as a relativist is, with only the difference that you maintain a faith about this “truth”.

    And please I tried to warn you against childish witticisms, of course that you do whatever the hell u want to do and I don’t think that a Relativistic God will smite you if you don’t. Keep up.

  18. Briggs

    6 January 2012 at 9:33 am

    Luis,

    I’ll ignore the extraneous matter and ask again, are there any fundamental truths?

    But then you seem to have given several: “I am not 100% sure of anything” is a truth (you say). Relativism is true, you say. Stating that there are absolute truths is “astonishing egocentric” is (to you) true. And others.

    It thus appears you agree that there are fundamental truths, statements or propositions which are just true. It might be so, of course, that the truths you espouse are wrong (considering other evidence), but that is nothing. That you have stated them is to agree that at least some truths exist. The only questions remaining are which propositions true, which false, and which can we not know with certainty.

  19. But then you seem to have given several: “I am not 100% sure of anything” is a truth (you say).

    Of course it is a truth. It’s just not a Truth. It’s not something that I ascribe to a 100%. If you check it thoroughfully, you will not find a logical inconsistency to what I just said (and even this proposition has a lot of assumptions, like the assumption that we share the same definitions of “logic”, etc.).

    You keep trying to find this wittiless crack “There are no Absolute Truths is an absolute truth itself, which is a contradiction, therefore there are Absolute Truths” somewhere hidden in my arguments, but believe me when I tell you that I worked this thing out for a long time in my head and with many people. I would not choose to believe these sets of statements were I not sure about its (probably fuzzy but nevertheless) internal consistency.

    It thus appears you agree that there are fundamental truths, statements or propositions which are just true.

    Again, no. This “just true” is nonsense. Are there any truths that are true irrespectively of context, of subjects, of the human mind? Perhaps there are, but until you give me one completely free of these chains, I’ll just go along being a nice relativistic chap. To me, truth is a human product. Is this proposition true? Well, yes, it is a human produced statement.

    That you have stated them is to agree that at least some truths exist

    We have distinct definitions of truth. To you, and to any metaphysical Realist – or Objectivist (an Absolutist dressed in 20th century clothes), Truth is something completely distinct of humans, either something is true by itself or it isn’t. It’s like a property of things, the “thing in itself”, etc. To me, truth exists when there is an agreement between the observations and the predictions of a proposition, and having established an agreement on the semantical rules of same propositions between two or more people.

    In this definition of truth, one person looks to the sky and says, “the sky is blue”. The second person, after hearing this and understanding the semantics of it, he expects that when he looks up he will see that the sky appears to him to be blue. He looks up and sees the sky is blue. This is a good agreement and thus he will say, “True!”

    There are no metaphysical shenanigans in this construction. There are no Dogmas here, etc. It’s all utterly positivistic, utterly relativistic. Quantum theorists know exactly what I am talking about.

  20. It isn’t an attempt to be clever or witty. If someone makes a statement that itself negates the truth of the statement then it is certainly appropriate to point it out.

    It’s an attempt to show how witty one is, while cleverly hiding how one is clearly clueless about the subject at hand. That’s why it is so annoying. It’s like hearing things like, “If evolution is true, then how come there are still monkeys around? Gotchaaa!!

  21. On the Internet everyone knows you’re a dogmatist.

  22. Briggs

    6 January 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Luis,

    Let’s dismiss irrelevant qualifications like “I’ve discussed this with others so I know I’m right.”

    You have said, “truth exists when there is an agreement between the observations and the predictions of a proposition.” How do you know this statement is true?

  23. Luis: “It’s like hearing things like, “If evolution is true, then how come there are still monkeys around? Gotchaaa!!“”

    You’re pretty far off base with your analogy, although I can see how both items might hit home — and therefore be oh, “so annoying” — to people with certain worldviews.

    In the present case, Briggs’ basic statement is a simple logical observation, one that might arise on the first day of Logic 101 — you can’t affirm something if the very statement you are making negates the affirmation. It is straight-forward deductive logic. Nothing at all like your other analogy.

  24. Let’s dismiss strawmans as well then. I never said anything like that. I defined truth to be “when there is an agreement between the observations and the predictions of a proposition”.

    I don’t “know” if this statement is “True” by itself, etc., nor do I care about those qualifications.

  25. Briggs

    6 January 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Luis,

    You claim P = “truth [is] when there is an agreement between the observations and the predictions of a proposition.”

    How do you know that P is true?

  26. In the present case, Briggs’ basic statement is a simple logical observation, one that might arise on the first day of Logic 101 — you can’t affirm something if the very statement you are making negates the affirmation. It is straight-forward deductive logic. Nothing at all like your other analogy.

    Except that it is a strawman. Does not work like that at all. It’s easy to make such a “logical proof” against relativism if you don’t pay attention to the details and instead resort to caricaturize it in a sufficiently stupid manner so you can “debunk it” quite easily.

    In that fashion, I agree that if someone states that it is absolutely true that absolute truths do not exist, then he’s being silly. However, by agreeing with that, I also recognize that we left the discussion about relativism a while ago and are now just being stupid for the fun of it.

  27. You claim P = “truth [is] when there is an agreement between the observations and the predictions of a proposition.”

    How do you know that P is true?

    Because it predicts very nicely what happens in every occasion where propositions agree with observations (people call them true propositions).

    Self-referential? But that’s your fault, you see. I’m just obliged to show its consistency.

  28. Briggs

    6 January 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Luis,

    Exactly so: self-referential, therefore circular, therefore an invalid proof. Also, P itself does not predict anything: the stuff inside P is a statement about contingent events, but P itself is not contingent. Therefore it is either necessarily true or necessarily false.

    I too agree P (or something like it) is necessarily true, but I claim it is so because of reference to my intuition: it is just true. (Of course, it might be so that we can prove P from simpler statements, but at least some of these simpler statements will have to be accepted as just true.)

    Thus we have come to the point of dogmatism: of claiming there exists at least one statement (P) that is true—whether you or I or anybody likes it, whether it is comfortable, whatever its consequences.

  29. Wrong, mr Briggs. Everytime you ask someone how do they know their own definition of “Truth” is True, they must obviously incur in a self-referencing exercise. However, its consistency is yet to be shown. This is also why I said it is a “definition”, not a “truth”, like I say that Blue is the color between wavelenght x and y. Is it “true” that Blue is that color? Yes, because we have thus defined it, and there’s no absurd “invalidity” on these matters at all.

    Thus we have come to the point of dogmatism: of claiming there exists at least one statement (P) that is true—whether you or I or anybody likes it, whether it is comfortable, whatever its consequences.

    Except we can claim that statement (P) is not absolutely true at all, because it may not conform to a lot of instances. We may say it is incomplete, etc. We may even start to modify its meaning and definition according to our own growth of knowledge about the world (like say General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics, which have influenced the definition of “truth” themselves to a very high degree, IMO).

    As it is quite evident, even that statement (P) is not absolute.

  30. Briggs

    6 January 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Luis,

    You have said that Q = “Everytime you ask someone how do they know their own definition of ‘Truth’ is True, they must obviously incur in a self-referencing exercise.” Is Q true? If so, how you do know? (I also note that you used the word “must”, which is a mighty strong word.)

  31. Does gravity exist? Is gravity true, or just a temporary situational agreement among observers? Is anything real?

    I dogmatically believe that when an “observer” forcibly strikes his/her thumb with a hammer, blood will spurt and pain will ensue. I suggest that all relativists try this experiment, as many times necessary, to convince themselves of this truth. The rest of us, pathetic dogamtists though we might be, need not. At least, not more than once.

  32. You have said that Q = “Everytime you ask someone how do they know their own definition of ‘Truth’ is True, they must obviously incur in a self-referencing exercise.” Is Q true?

    Yes, I knew you were going for that slip of mine. Mind you, I’m not speaking extremely rigorously here. Of course this “must” has a lot of caveats and assumptions. The most relevant here is somewhere along the lines of “if you want to have my respect, then you must…”, etc.

    All of those sentences are relative to their own assumptions and caveats, and are limited to all of the weaknesses of english language, etc. Even this one.

    Does gravity exist? Is gravity true, or just a temporary situational agreement among observers? Is anything real?

    If you had learned anything about General Relativity, you’d know that stuff like gravity, velocity et al quite depend upon the observer. However, this is too easy. There are other more “metaphysical” problems regarding GR (for instance, the truth of this relativism is dependent upon the absolute truth of its theory, and for that reason GR does not bring about a “Relativist” philosophical worldview, albeit it can teach us about certain aspects of it).

    I suggest that all relativists try this experiment, as many times necessary, to convince themselves of this truth.

    I may not be a dogmatist, but I am a pragmatist. So I am sorry if I decline your sweet advice ;). Curiously, a similar argument was made more than a century ago against a spiritual metaphysical theory in fashion…

  33. Mike; Once upon a time, gravity wasn’t true. It wasn’t until someone dropped two steel balls from the leaning tower of pizza that gravity become something to investigate.

    It’s a funny old world.

  34. Sander van der Wal

    6 January 2012 at 6:16 pm

    People have different definitions of “true”, and of the word “dogma”. Big deal.

    At least the people who think that “True” means “consensus” are bright enough to know that gravity is not keen on consensus. You never see a bunch of them deciding that gravity is not true just before stepping of a bridge.

  35. Luis,
    I’ve missed you. I am surprised that you find controversy here. I know you often play devil’s advocate but I believe this is a matter which must underpin your entire philosophy. I find this interesting. Such a strongly held view can surely not be overturned. It must be hard to live in a world where one must take nothing for granted. Where we must tell ourselves off for failing to be “open” to trivial truth, let alone profound truth.

    where’s the ”juice”? Do you mean the evidence for the validity of the argument? the truth?

    “The truth is incontrovertible. Ignorance may deride it, malice may attack it, but in the end, there it is.” Churchill.

    “Men Occasionally Stumble Over The Truth, But Most Of Them Pick Themselves Up And Hurry Off As If Nothing Had Happened.” Churchill.

  36. Luis: “I may not be a dogmatist, but I am a pragmatist.”

    Well you may say so, but of course it can’t really be true, in any meaningful sense of the word. :)

  37. Luis-

    Do you not understand the rubylation between dogma and truth?

  38. If only the relativists had claimed that ‘everything is contextual’ rather than ‘everything is relative’ then we wouldn’t have half these confusions. Turtles all the way down? Yes, but the turtles are the contexts, not the propositions. The truth is oblivious to the difficulties we have in finding and expressing it, it is not dependent on our limitations (quite the opposite), only the discovery and our expression of it will be.

    To claim that natural phenomena are dependent on our observations is only contextualizing what should have been obvious. To use this as part of a relativist armoury is to have missed the point.

  39. As I started reading this, my first thought was Oh No! I will have to suffer through Luis’ juvenility.I was relatively sure now I am dogmatically, 100% sure.

  40. Eric, it is true, but not with the same meaning that you ascribe to it. The fact that the meaning is different, does not make it meaningless, so stop being silly ;).

    Joy, good to read from you. You got it exactly backwards. It’s not that I do not take anything for granted, I take a lot of things for granted. The differentiator is that I am aware of that fact, and of the fragility of that fact. Some thinkers call it “the human condition”. I think it is quite worse to live a life taking things for granted and actually thinking they are 100% correct. I really despise such lack of imagination.

    mico, relativism is a generalized form of contextualism. I prefer generalizations over particularizations, it’s my aesthetic taste.

    DEEBEE, have a nice new year too.

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