Entries by tag: philosophy

Top Nonsingles Through The Third Quarter 2012
koganbot
With only a couple of furlongs left, DJ Bedbugs is a nose ahead in the quest for his second consecutive title.

TOP NONSINGLES Through Third Quarter 2012:
1. DJ Bedbugs "Hella Hollup"
2. E.via "Night Blooming Roses"
3. Neil Young & Crazy Horse "Oh Susannah"
4. After School "Eyeline"
5. T-ara "T-aratic Magic Music"
6. DJ Bedbugs "Aaron's Party Rocking"
7. Neil Young & Crazy Horse "Wayfarin' Stranger"
8. TaeTiSeo "Baby Steps"
9. DJ Bedbugs "Come Out And K"
10. DJ Bedbugs "Ready To Greenlight"
11. Neon Bunny "First Love"
12. DJ Bedbugs "Your Mann"
13. After School "Broken Heart"

Number 5 and number 13 are in Japanese.

What Is A "Single," And, By Negation, A "Nonsingle"?

Something's a single if it acts like a single or gets treated like a single, no matter what it is (even if it's a 50-minute webrip of a symphony). So "Gimme Shelter" is a single, "Stairway To Heaven" in its long version is a single, "Takeover" is a single, though none of those three was on an actual physical single. And certainly if it's promoted by the label as an album's or EP's "emphasis track" or "focus track" it's a single.

If it doesn't act like a single, it nonetheless can be a single if...Collapse )


What Are The 23 Extremes Of Modern Music-'N'-Stuff?
koganbot
Sir Dubdob, in his new blog, cites Adorno quoting his dead friend Benjamin to the effect that philosophy is a process which permits the "configuration of an idea as a totality" to emerge from opposing extremes. Dubdob then chides Adorno for picking only Stravinsky and Schoenberg as his extremes of modern music.

I commented:

Strange (or not strange) that Adorno apparently thought there were only two extremes. Why not 23 extremes? Or at least we could draw a three-dimensional graph, which only gives us three axes, hence six extremes to work with, but we could come up with an infinity of extremes from those six simply by deciding that anything that's an extreme on one axis is extreme no matter where else it is on the others; for, if we have something that's on the extremely chicken-screaming end of the chicken-scream/chicken-blasé axis, on the one hand, but is dead in the middle on the piccolo/tuba axis, on the other, we've created an extreme of a different flavor than something that's at the chicken-scream extreme but is heavily piccoloed, yet different also from that which is full chicken-scream but heavily tuba'd. (Haven't yet chosen my third axis. Night-Train/Jiyeon is a possibility, though someone could argue that that is too similar in spirit to chicken-scream/chicken-blasé.)

So I would urge you all to suggest some other extremes, beyond the four or six I've mentioned.



Blogger dissatisfied with current vocabularyCollapse )

Richard Rorty 2: Propositions and stuff
koganbot
For a person to form a predicative judgment is for him to come to believe a sentence to be true. For a Kantian transcendental ego to come to believe a sentence to be true is for it to relate representations (Vorstellungen) to one another: two radically distinct sorts of representations, concepts on the one hand and intuitions on the other. Kant provided a framework for understanding the confusing seventeenth-century intellectual scene when he said that "Leibniz intellectualized appearances, just as Locke... sensualized all concepts of the understanding." He thereby created the standard version of "the history of modern philosophy" according to which pre-Kantian philosophy was a struggle between "rationalism," which wanted to reduce sensations to concepts, and "empiricism," which wanted the inverse reduction. Had Kant instead said that the rationalists wanted to find a way of replacing propositions about secondary qualities with propositions which somehow did the same job but were known with certainty, and that the empiricists opposed this project, the next two centuries of philosophical thought might have been very different. For if the "problem of knowledge" had been stated in terms of the relations between propositions and the degree of certainty attaching to them, rather than the terms of putative components of propositions, we might not have inherited our present notion of "the history of philosophy." According to standard neo-Kantian historiography, from the time of the Phaedo and Metaphysics Z through Abelard and Anselm, Locke and Leibniz, and right down to Quine and Strawson reflection which was distinctively philosophical has concerned the relation between universals and particulars. Without this unifying theme, we might not have been able to see a continuous problematic, discovered by the Greeks and worried at continuously down to our own day, and thus might never have had the notion of "philosophy" as something with a twenty-five-hundred-year history. Greek thought and seventeenth-century thought might have seemed as distinct both from each other and from our present concerns as, say, Hindu theology and Mayan numerology.
--Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, 1979, pp 148-149.

I'm rereading chapters 3 and 4 of Richard Rorty's Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature with the intention of trying to master them. My difficulty isn't the complexity of the ideas, since he's trying to be clear and not overcomplex, but that he assumes familiarity with various writers not all of whom I've read much of, and he'll use terms of art that I'm not all that familiar with; he also can be fast with his reasons (coming a sentence or two short, so you have to fill them in yourself) and vague and glib in presenting his own ideas, though the ideas are rarely glib themselves. So he often doesn't do right by his own complexities, doesn't come up with the detail and precision that he needs, doesn't have the fierce search for the best word that a Wittgenstein has, will futz along with tired old vocabulary that doesn't do the job. That said, he's got a broad historical and cultural view that Wittgenstein doesn't even try for. He gets Wittgenstein's challenge to philosophy - the import of Wittgenstein's complaint that language goes on holiday in philosophy is that philosophy isn't addressing the questions its vocabulary cons itself into thinking it's addressing - but Rorty goes on to ask why intelligent people thought (and maybe still think) the issues mattered, asks what assumptions they were making, what they thought was at stake. For better or worse I've not only bought into Rorty's narrative of modern philosophy - which at least to undereducated me clarifies and puts into perspective a whole lot of material - but I've also copped the questions he asks: what's at stake, what do people think is at stake, what do I think is at stake, what assumptions are they making, what assumptions am I making, what else might be at issue if we stepped aside from this issue, and so forth.

Why don't we just say that the rationalists wanted to derive secondary qualities of stuff from stuff that was known with certainty, and the empiricists opposed this project?Collapse )

I wasn't in particular asking how can we make schools better
koganbot
Dave wrote in a comment back here:

I feel like I can slip in the door and really contribute important ideas that, e.g., you (and your friends and our mutual friends, etc.) have internalized but haven't made their way into broader understanding yet. That is, your articulation of the hallway/school split, and its significance, hasn't quite exploded in actual schools, or academic theory about actual schools.

Well, what I was trying to do in my attack on the hallway-classroom split (originally back in '90-'91 in WMS,* then in that '01 essay for the Xgau festschrift) was to make sense of the rock-critic psyche and the behavior of a lot of contributers to my fanzine ("why doesn't Frank Kogan shut up and play his guitar?" and "I think visceral response is the most important" were two comments that I especially treasure). So to a big extent my subject was writing. Also, I was trying to come up with a better - more relevant - dichotomy to target than the ones that Christgau had chosen: his tendency would be to draw the line between intellectualizing versus partying or significance versus pleasure or some such, and then question those dichotomies without altogether abandoning them. (E.g., he thought that in P&J voters' were voting for significance when voting for albums but for pleasure when voting for singles, and then he'd say but we have to do right by the significance of singles etc.) I was talking about the psyche but I wanted to speak in social terms, about behavioral conventions and where and how they arose. The social spaces became my metaphorical categorization for a tension that I think underlies a lot of clichés (thinking versus feeling, intellectualizing versus living) and a lot of acting out.

But I wasn't in particular thinking about "What is going on in schools, and how they can be made better." The progressive education movement of the first half of the last century embraced John Dewey's attacks on the theory-practice split and on what he derided as the spectator theory of knowledge, but he never had much of an explanation for the hold that such a split continued to have on us a hundred years ago or now. His dime-store psychologizing laid the blame on the ancients' having little technological control over a dangerous and unpredictable physical world; my dime-store psychologizing puts the focus on fear of personal and social conflict, and I think I've got a better dime store. Such conflicts really can rip up a classroom and paralyze teaching, and people do need a rational response to that threat.

Meltzer and Dewey choking on their contradictionsCollapse )

The economics profession’s simultaneous love for rigor and contempt for realism
koganbot
Paul Krugman ("The New Economic Geography, Now Middle-Aged"), arguing in favor of economists' tendency to simplify and go abstract, to use mathematical modeling and quantitative methods: "The geographers themselves probably won't like this: the economics profession's simultaneous love for rigor and contempt for realism will surely prove infuriating."

I don't think Krugman is fair to himself when he says contempt for realismCollapse )

Until the 1930s and to some extent into the 1940s, institutional economics, with a strong emphasis on "historico-institutional factors," was a major force in American economics. But when the Depression struck, there was a desperate need for answers – and the answers wanted were to the question, "What do we do?" not "How did we get here?" Faced with that question, the institutional economists couldn't deliver; all they could offer was, well, persuasive discourse on the complex historical roots of the problem.

The person who did deliver was John Maynard Keynes. Now, Keynes is a protean figure, whose writings can be read to provide support for many schools of thought. But
The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, despite occasional historical asides, essentially presents an abstract, ahistorical model of the economy; at its core is a little two-equation equilibrium model of the level of employment. And here's the thing: Keynesian economics, unlike institutional economics, was able to answer the question about what to do: it told you to boost demand with deficit spending.

How would things be different if X happened instead of Y?Collapse )

Kuhn 23: The Dependence Of Paradigms On Paradigms (plus thoughts on Davies provocation)
koganbot
Been meaning to post these notes I made in regard to a Daniel Davies post and comments that Mark linked when we were discussing "What do philosophers talk about these days?" Was holding off until I got a chance to read the Crispin Wright piece that Davies' cited, but decided to go ahead anyway, Wright unread, so that Mark can see this before going on holiday:

This interchange among Davies and crew does indeed point at a lot of what philosophers are or are not discussing. Also, I'll note rather irrelevantly that either Davies mistyped or he thinks the Tractatus was published forty years later than it actually was. In any event, here are three other points, possibly related:

(1) Following blog and comment-thread etiquette,* neither Davies nor any of his commenters states any of the ideas they are discussing; rather, they just refer to the ideas, by naming a broad field of endeavor or by naming a person who holds the idea. There are only a few exceptions, which are:

(a) several sentences about Clive Granger.** ("These people are fully aware of Granger. They take it as a principle that making inferences from data to claims about causal relationships can't be done on the basis of purely statistical assumptions; one needs non-statistical premises about the possible structure of causal dependencies. The analysis of causality that Granger offered can be seen as acknowledging that point, but only to a limited extent: the non-statistical assumption on which Granger causality depends in [is?] just the (true) assumption that effects can't temporally precede their causes. That's fine as a structural constraint on causal inference, but it's a very weak one, and one can only get so far without additional causal premises.")

(b) the example given by Davies from a paper by Crispin Wright ("t1 Sue: 'Bill could be in Boston' Ted: 'Actually, I just saw him board a flight to Houston' t2 Sue: 'Oh. Then I was wrong.' Apparently it is very difficult to fit this sort of thing into a consistent logical framework"); but Davies doesn't then detail Wright's idea, though he does provide a download link.

(c) Davies' main complaint, which is that, while this formal highly abstract work has the most prestige and gets the most attention in high-end [Anglo-American?] philosophy departments, it doesn't address any substantive issue. Davies draws an analogy to the situation in modern economics, where, he believes, the highly abstract work doesn't address the problems it says it addresses. Not quite sure if he's also saying exactly that about Wright's paper and its ilk, though that may well be what he intends. But there's a difference between saying on the one hand that Wright is working on an unimportant problem and, on the other, that Wright isn't addressing the issue he thinks he's addressing - the latter can result in the former; still, it's a different argument.

My problem here is that Davies doesn't say, "This is Wright's idea X, it doesn't seem to apply to situation Y or anything like it, so just what's the point of working on X?" And then in the comments, although Brian from Rutgers does say, wait, Wright's work can potentially be applied, Brian doesn't go on to say, "Wright's idea X can potentially be applied to situations X1, X2, and X3, and here's how." So even if I do get around to reading Wright's piece, I won't know how Davies and Brian interpret it, much less why or where they think it can or can't be applied. Fortunately, I also don't know that Davies and Brian won't follow through, whereas the vagueness that afflicts my 'hood exists so that people can avoid following through.

The frequent dependence of exemplars on disciplinary matricesCollapse )

*Yes, I am being sarcastic. It's not etiquette but cluelessness, and not necessarily on Davies and crew's part, since they all seem to assume that they and the people they're addressing know the ideas and don't need them re-explained, and unlike in my neighborhood of the 'Net, their assumption may be correct.

**Whom I'd never heard of, but that's not his fault.

footnote 3Collapse )

What is philosophy of science supposed to achieve?
koganbot
Ha! In my head I'd been composing a post in response to meserach's claiming, "any position toward the philosophy of science which fails to give a good accounting of how science achieves 'better' practical results than other ways of thinking about the universe is ultimately bankrupt," where I say that the hard sciences so far have a very limited scope that leaves out vast hunks of the the universe. Turns out, according to Dave, that sitcom The Big Bang Theory beat me to the punch (click link to find out how).

So anyway, my reply to meserach is that t.A.T.u. and the Veronicas are in the universe, and as of yet physics, chemistry, biology, paleontology etc. have had nothing interesting to say about them or anything like them.* So it would seem that the hard sciences' ways of thinking about that part of the universe (the t.A.T.u.-Veronica's part) have no practical results whatsoever, in fact don't exist. It could be legitimate for meserach to claim that, e.g., physics does a better job of talking about electrons than music critics do of talking about t.A.T.u. and the Veronicas, but I don't know what to do with that information: I don't know if there would be any benefit if we could talk about t.A.T.u. and the Veronicas with the precision etc. that physicists talk about electrons, and even if there would be a benefit, I have no clue how to achieve that precision, or even what it would be.

This isn't a criticism of the sciences at all, but it accentuates the question I've been bringing up in my last couple of posts: just what is philosophy of science (or philosophy overall) for? What's it supposed to achieve?

*Well, I'm sure that the physical acoustics people could have something to say, but it probably couldn't be extended to most of the questions or ideas I'd have about t.A.T.u. or the Veronicas. And biological research into the brain may well have something to say about the appeal of music, at some point, but again I don't see where that would have an impact on anything I'd have to say about them, though of course I won't know until it happens.

Some damned foolish thing in the Balkans
koganbot
B. Michael's response to yesterday's question includes this statement:

Professional philosophy is pretty balkanized. It's like any other professional academics: There are fifteen people on the planet who can talk intelligently about any given thing. Everyone else argues about the validity of that thing and questions whether that thing is a thing. None of it has anything to do with day-to-day life.

In the meantime, yesterday's thread continues to roll, or unroll, as the case may be.

What do philosophers talk about these days?
koganbot
I asked this of B. Michael over on Tumblr, so I thought I ought to ask it of you all as well:

What do philosophers talk about these days, post-Wittgenstein and post-Kuhn? I've not kept up. (Not that I ever kept up.) Kuhn's notion of "paradigms" gets rid of the need for super-deep universal foundations for the scientific enterprise, and Wittgenstein's "family resemblances" does the same for pretty much everything. So what's left for philosophy? Not that I think philosophy departments should disband, but if I were in one I'd transform it into the Department Of Roving Troubleshooters Who Have More Fun Than Sociologists Seem To Have, or something.

EDIT: Er, perhaps I should elaborate slightly, though that could end up in a tangle, since my elaborations will need elaborations. But, e.g., if you're saying as I do that people's musical tastes tend to cluster by their social class, you then (if you're me) have to explore what you mean by social class (and keep exploring). Now, one could ask a philosopher instead, "Dear philosopher, What do I mean, or what should I mean, by 'social class'?" But it seems to me that what the philosopher says is of no more import than what anyone else says, that if s/he has something to say it isn't because s/he's a philosopher but because s/he's just another person trying to figure out in certain instances what we mean or should mean by "social class" in those and related instances. And as with "social class," so with "meaning" and "language" and so forth.

Relativism: So What? (Part Seven): Beats me; I wrote an article about it but that's as far as I got
koganbot
Int: In Philosophy And The Mirror of Nature, you attacked Putnam's early philosophy. What do you think of his more recent work?

Rorty: I think our views are practically indistinguishable, but he doesn't. He thinks I'm a relativist and he isn't. And I think: if I'm a relativist, then he's one too.

Int: Why do you think Putnam sees you as a relativist?

Rorty: Beats me. I wrote an article about it, but that was as far as I got.

. . .

Int: Do you disagree with any of Davidson's views?

Rorty: I can't think of anything we really disagree about that doesn't seem to me a verbal issue, but Davidson may have a different view of the matter. Well, one thing is that he keeps saying truth is an absolutely central concept, and I can't see what makes it central or basic. I take Davidson to be saying that truth, belief, meaning, intention, rationality, cognitivity - all these notions are parts of a seamless web, and that seems to me a useful point to make, that you can't have any of these notions without all the others. It's just that he then wants to say, "And truth is in the middle." I can't see why you have to have a middle.

Int: Putnam has also criticized you for deemphasizing truth.

Rorty: Putnam keeps saying that you have to have what he calls "substantive truth." I take Davidson to be saying: there's not much pointing in saying truth is substantive. I don't think Davidson has any better idea than I do what Putnam means by that. Nonetheless, he somehow attaches a weight to the notion that I can't seem to attach to it.

--Interview with Richard Rorty in January 1995 by Joshua Knobe

It rains when you're here and it rains when you're goneCollapse )

Explicates its moments, which are therefore characterized by this opposition
koganbot
Meme from catsgomiaow

memeCollapse )

It's from Hegel: Texts and Commentary translated and edited by Walter Kaufmann. I am also wearing a T-shirt, given to me by my friend John Wójtowicz, that says, "It's a Hegelian thing. You wouldn't understand." (OK, that's a fib, but John did once state his intention of creating such a T-shirt.)

I haven't actually gotten to page 56.

But while we're on the subject (so to speak), you would do me a favor by explaining this passage to me:

Passage in need of explicationCollapse )

Kuhn 22: Botany versus Cookery
koganbot
What I posted on girlboymusic's tumblr thread after she'd claimed that "PUMPKIN IS NOT A VEGETABLE. IT'S A FRUIT. SCIENCE." Relevant to Kuhn's idea of incommensurability; the point I always make with the botany-cookery distinction is that one can easily hold both nomenclatures in mind simultaneously, despite their being incommensurable; so knowing one paradigm doesn't make a competing paradigm incomprehensible:

Well, there are different nomenclatures here for different purposes. E.g., in cuisine - and in grocery stores - tomatoes are vegetables not fruits, while in botany tomatoes are fruits, but "vegetable" is not a relevant botanical category (or "vegetable" is a synonym for "plant," but "fruit-vegetable" isn't the relevant division). And in cooking, mushrooms are vegetables, despite not even being a plant in biology; and peanuts are nuts, not peas; and nuts are nuts, not fruits or seeds.

Of course, pumpkins are weird in relation to cooking anyway, since they mainly sell as decoration, and I'd bet the vast majority of their ingestion is when they're sugared up and in pies. But as for pumpkin's basic taste, it's categorized as a squash (as is its plant in botany, Cucurbita pepo), and the part of the squash you eat is a fruit in botany, but it's a vegetable when you eat it. American Heritage Dictionary's def'n of squash: "1. Any of various plants of the genus Cucurbita, having fleshy edible fruit with a hard rind. 2. The fruit of such a plant, used as a vegetable."

The true philosophers (a dream)
koganbot
So, the rooms in our* house were waist deep in water, and Nietzsche - one of the people there - insisted that to be true philosophers we needed to swim underwater.

*our?

Superpain
koganbot
I like this response I just made to Nate on the several-days-old pain thread, so I'm reposting here so it doesn't get lost:

One of my favorite papers I wrote in college argued that - despite what philosophers claim - in standard usage intensity of pain is not strictly personal and ineffable but is a social value judgment that we can and do argue about, just as we argue about beauty, etc. - well, not "just as," since "beauty" is sometimes said to inhere in a sunset or sculpture or other inanimate object (despite the eye-of-the-beholder bromide), but we most certainly don't leave it up to an individual's self-report to decide how hurt he's feeling, whether his pain-statements are valid, whether or not he's malingering or whining, etc.

[And I'll add here that in instances where pain confers legitimacy - e.g., you are accorded personal or political validity on the basis of your suffering - pain is something of a Superword. E.g., "Hero Of Fear": "Terry says he's more real than me 'cause he's sick all the time/Not like I get sick/Or you get sick/But real sick." (For meaning of "Superword," click link on sidebar.)]

Kuhn 21: Can Newtonian dynamics be derived from relativistic dynamics?
koganbot
tarigwaemir asks in the Kuhn 20 thread whether the quantum revolution is really a revolution,* seeing as we still use classical mechanics as "a valid approximation for certain frames of reference." Kuhn would emphatically say yes it's a revolution (and so would I, though my poor knowledge of physics makes my "yes" less impressive than his). In Structure Kuhn directly addresses our continued use of Newtonian mechanics, though in regard to the difference between classical physics and relativity, not between classical physics and quantum physics. Kuhn says flatly, "Einstein's theory can be accepted only with the recognition that Newton's was wrong." He argues against the contention that Newton's Laws can be seen as a correct, but limited, application of Einstein's, or that our limited use of Newton's Laws somehow means those laws remain in effect.** Kuhn's argument runs from pp 98-103 of the second edition. I'm only giving you the tail end, where he's arguing against the idea that Newton's Laws can be derived from Einstein's theory as a special case of it. ("<<" means "way way way way less than," and I'm guessing that "(v/c)2 << 1" is a way to limit velocity to being way way way way less than the speed of light. I apologize if I'm wrong.)

Kuhn: Can Newtonian dynamics really be derived from relativistic dynamics?Collapse )

*The quantum example in "What Are Scientific Revolutions?" somewhat obscures its revolutionary character by not alluding to the many changes wrought by the quantum but instead focusing on the vocabulary shift from "resonator" to "oscillator" that accompanied the recognition that the resonator's energy levels were discontinuous rather than continuous.

**My analogy on the Kuhn 20 thread was to say that our continued use of Newtonian mechanics was like our continued use of the words "sunrise" and "sunset," which have a real and irreplaceable function (at least not replaceable in any way that I can see) but whose existence hardly makes the Copernican Revolution less revolutionary or means that Ptolemaic/Aristotelian cosmology are still partially in effect.

Kuhn 20: Paradigms, what good are they?
koganbot
The term "paradigm shift" has made it into the common language as "a fundamental change in the way of seeing or doing something." Of course, many people's threshold for what counts as "fundamental" or "change" is really low, and "paradigm shift" is usually what people want the other guy to undergo so that his ideas will come to match the ones we've already got. But that's not the term's fault, that a lot of people become posturing dumbasses when they employ abstract intellectual terminology. A more damaging problem is that people are interested in paradigm shifts but not in paradigms; that is, the idea of breaking through restrictions is appealing, whereas the idea of creating new restrictions and being supported and nurtured by those restrictions is less appealing. But Kuhn came up with the idea of shifts back in the 1940s, along with the idea that the shifts were between incompatible modes of thought. It wasn't until the late '50s, however, that he developed the notion "paradigm," and he did so not only to understand how shifts occurred, but to understand how it was that the hard sciences were so much better at asking and answering questions and at creating fundamental shifts in thought than were the social sciences, which seemed to continually be reverting to square one.

If Kuhn is right, this is what paradigms do for the sciences:

1. Paradigms organize and focus a science's activity by telling the scientist what questions to ask and how to go about answering them. Which is to say that paradigms restrict and specialize the scientist's attention. And as a science develops and undergoes scientific revolutions it breaks into more and more subsciences that are ever more specialized.

2. Paradigms create expectations that are sufficient enough in their precision that anomalies can occur. And when anomalies can't be explained away as equipment failure or scientist error and can't be worked into the paradigm, then they become impetuses for a scientific revolution, i.e., a paradigm shift, and for the ultimate creation of new restrictions and new specialization.

(I recommend that you look back at Kuhn 8½, which contains excerpts from "The Essential Tension," the 1959 article in which Kuhn first uses the word "paradigm.")

Kuhn 19: It's possible to specify pretty well the research program
koganbot
Oliver Morton in the New York Times (Found in Transit): One day, over a lunch mostly devoted to an enthusiastic if only partially successful attempt to turn me on to the isotopic intricacies of the Earth's sulphur cycle, my friend Kevin Zahnle summed up the case for finding out how common complex biospheres are on planets around other stars: "It is simply the most interesting question that we have it in our power to solve."

There are other deep and interesting questions about biology's cosmic setting — How does life get started? How varied can it be? — but it's not clear what sort of research program might answer them. However, it's possible to specify pretty well the research program needed to find out how common planets with life at least a bit like Earth's life are.


I bolded the statement that made me think of paradigms. What a paradigm* does for a science is it tells the science's practitioners how to move forward. It presents them with problems and also with puzzles and solutions the scientists can model their problem-solving on.

*I'm using "paradigm" in both of its intertwined senses, as an exemplar (a concrete puzzle and its solution) and as a disciplinary matrix (the constellation of formulas, laws, procedures, values, etc. of which the exemplars are a part). The key word in the previous sentence is "intertwined," since as I read through Structure I'm more and more getting a feeling for why at that point Kuhn was running his two meanings together.

Kuhn 18: A difference between the natural sciences and the social sciences
koganbot
Working away on the question of the distinction that Kuhn draws between rules and paradigms, and why he thinks it's important to draw such a distinction:

Thomas Kuhn, The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions p. viii: I was struck by the number and extent of overt disagreements between social scientists about the nature of legitimate scientific problems and methods. Both history and acquaintance made me doubt that practitioners of the natural sciences possess firmer or more permanent answers to such questions than their colleagues in social science. Yet, somehow, the practice of astronomy, physics, chemistry, or biology normally fails to evoke the controversies over fundamentals that today often seem endemic among, say, psychologists and sociologists. Attempting to discover the source of that difference led me to recognize the role in scientific research of "paradigms." These I take to be universally recognized scientific achievements that for a time provide model problems and solutions to a community of practitioners.

pp 3-4: Instructed to examine electrical or chemical phenomena, the man who is ignorant of these fields but who knows what it is to be scientific may legitimately reach any one of a number of incompatible conclusions.

So, the success of the natural sciences as opposed to the social sciences lies not in the natural scientists' knowing better than the social scientists what it is to be a scientist, or their having a better grasp of something called "scientific method," but in the members of a particular field or subfield sharing a set of model problems and solutions (i.e., paradigms). This isn't yet telling us the difference between paradigms and rules (as opposed to a paradigm being a type of rule, say, or a collection of rules), or why Kuhn thinks it's important that we notice such a difference. But it tells us what he thinks is at stake: a paradigm is what allows a particularly scientific community - a scientific field or subfield - to proceed with effect, without constantly having to ask itself what it's doing.

Kuhn 17: Uh, what was the question?
koganbot
dubdobdee asked me several weeks ago to remind him what the Kuhn questions were, so I'll repost some of them here. Back in Kuhn 5 I asked six broad questions, thinking we could get to work on 1 through 3 relatively quickly and 4 through 6 as we went further. "Quickly" is relative, and if you think of the notion of quickness relative to geologic time, we're but an instant away from when I asked the questions. In any event, in getting to work on question 2, another question began to supersede these six, an apparently more esoteric and seemingly less world-important one. I'll summarize the question as:

What does Kuhn think the difference is between being following a rule, on the one hand, and seeing how to apply a paradigm, on the other?

This question developed in discussion between Mark and me in the comments to Kuhn 8 and then got restated by me in Kuhn 11 in this way: Kuhn would say that the difference between following rules that tell you how to apply f = ma, on the one hand, and seeing how to apply f = ma, on the other, is _______. And then I summarized with: Kuhn would say that the difference between seeing a resemblance and following a rule is _______.

This was all in relation to this stream of questions (using the word "paradigm" in the narrow sense of "exemplar"): (a) What might these rules or types of rule be that Kuhn thinks other people think are in effect but he thinks are not? What do they do? (b) What are paradigms - these devices that Kuhn thinks accomplish what other people attribute to rules? What do paradigms do? (c) What's the difference between following a rule on the one hand and modeling your solution on a paradigm on the other? (d) Why is it that Kuhn thinks that scientists proceed by way of paradigms rather than rules? (e) Why does Kuhn think it's so important to distinguish between following a rule and being guided by a paradigm?

In trying to answer these questions, we will need to use examples more than to give definitions.

I myself don't altogether understand how to anwer the questionCollapse )

The other six questionsCollapse )

Kuhn 16: Like A Metaphor
koganbot
Mark informs me that a well-regarded philosopher once said something somewhere linking "paradigm" to "metaphor." I haven't read this thing that the well-regarded philosopher said, but I felt like posting a caution anyway.

Not all resemblance is metaphoricCollapse )

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