The Nature Of Argument

You can’t be wrong; you can’t be right either.

Yes you can be wrong, and you can be right. Once you understand this, your philosophy will take leaps and bounds. :slight_smile:

Philosopgy is all about arguement. Even science and many others subjects. Is this the way these subjects exist? What is the future of philosophy?

This is an old topic for me you know. I’m not Nihilistic, but not Neitzschistic either.

The future is open; 'tis whatever we make of it. It is not a road with a destination, but a canvas on which to paint, a block of stone fit to carve, an orchestra to conduct. When we argue, we give judgments what brush stroke should go where, with what pressure, and in what color. Some people do this because they are trying to paint a scene conforming to the world they see; others because they are trying to paint a beautiful vista.

Almost none of them understand this.

Most people think they are tackling some kind of problems which, when “solved,” will lead to the usual litany of happy enlightenments and joys. Not so, not so. But there’s still lots of pretty pictures to look at from it…

I agree with your central idea there, but your Romanticism put me off a little…

I thought an argument is supposed to convince. You may be wrong, your entire philosophy may not be what the world really is, but if you put together a plausible account, backed up by logic, and perhaps, some evidence, then you have a good argument. (Now, don’t ask me to back this up, I don’t have none).

“backed up by logic…”

No, constructed by logic rather. :wink:

Yes! Evidence! Evidence people, evidence!

Constructed by logic. Logical construct. Yeah, okay. :blush:

You are stating your unjustified opinion as fact.

That is correct. One cannot define a system or process within itself; we don’t turn to logic to give us a definition of logic, only to give examples. We have to step outside of something in order to give a meaningful account of it. The account I gave above was descriptive, not in a specific “McX and Wyman make statements to each other in such and such a way” but in a generalized “this is the overall effect of argumentative processes upon humanity” kind of way.

That (my “unjustified opinion”) is what I see people doing. Others probably do not see people doing that. I admit to having no logic-based means of convincing them. One must step outside of logic to show what logic is doing…

If I show you that 1 + 1 = 2. I do not need to step outside of logic to do so. Infact, I must be ‘within’ the sphere of logic to even be able to demonstrate it.

“1+1=2” is not a statement concerning the nature of mathematics.

Again, you state an unjustified opinion as fact. I can’t keep prompting you for explanations - provide them or we can’t take you seriously.

I gave you that example to show how we cannot use mathematical logic without of mathematical logic. If I have one pen and another pen, I have two pens.

An argument presupposes two things: a truth and an intention to seek that truth. The argument is then the process of seeking, searching and attaining this truth. Right is that which is effective and/or efficient for this process, wrong is otherwise. But if you say there is no such thing as truth, or if there is, it is unattainable, then let me ask you why are we arguing?

Also the truth need not be universal, but can be limited as in a theory or an axiomatic system like mathematics. In this restricted context surely there are right and wrong arguments.

I realize most of you are seasoned philosophers and im new to this but i am wondering why everyone seems to feel as though philosophical statements can be backed up by mathematical equations, formula, postulates, etc. Isnt mathematics a system of applied mechanics whereas philosophy is a collection of abstract ideas? I dont see how 1+1=2 has any affect on an argument over the use of logic in a discussion of the nature of things. Perhaps one of you could clarify this for me…

What is a number? What do you mean by a set? Is there really a thing we called a line in the real world? Is the concept of infinity a meaningless one? What do we mean when we say A=B? Why does logic works, ie it leads us to the truth? What is truth? Arent all these abstract ideas?

You are right, but only on condition that we know what truth is. One can only presuppose what one already knows. The problem is do we know? I think there is this mistaken assumption that we already know what it is when we go ahead and argue. Shouldn’t the question be “How do we know what is true”?

Finding out what is the truth is what a rational purposeful argument should be all about. The presuppositions are that the truth exist and is accessible to humans.

But if we do not even know whether there is a truth we can still argue about it as long as we can be sure we can recognise the truth when we arrive at it, ie a weaker presupposition, namely that a humanly discernible truth possibly exist. And also the means to tell whether the way we are proceeding is getting us nearer to this goal or further away. Only then is an argument justified.

Of course we need to argue whether the presuppositions are met if we are to apply this proposed criteria, but firstly you may want to argue whether this criteria itself is valid at all.

If you are an atheist there is no sense arguing about God’s existence, but we can argue your reasons why you are atheistic, and whether those reasons are valid.

You show me a pen, add one next to it, and thus show me you have two pens. You have shown me one example to illustrate the principle of addition.

My description immediately above is not a mathematical statement, it is a statement about mathematics. Simply using mathematical logic is not explaining what mathematical logic is, it merely gives an example of what mathematical logic does.

In order to make descriptive statements about a system, we must step outside of that system. I can make mathematical statements all day long without ever furnishing an analysis of what it is I am doing. Either we must analyze a system in this way, by stepping outside it and giving nonmathematical descriptions, or the system is merely the sum of all statements possible within itself. Since we can never list every single statement possible within mathematics, we lay down some principles and use those principles to compute results from input variables. The listing of principles, while itself possibly mathematical in nature (as a computer program), must be described in terms outside of the realm of mathematics - otherwise how do we know what it is we’re doing with them?