On the problem with discussion

As soon as we (humans) start discussing reality, we encounter the fundamental problem that our discussion divides a unity. This problem has two aspects:

1, that we comprehend reality as both one and many units at the same time, and

2. that each of us distinguish him- or herself from reality;

the former meaning that reality is ambiguous for all of us, and the latter meaning that reality is contradictory for each of us (between all of us, ie, you is a part of reality but I’m not). These aspects mean that the discussion is fundamentally paradoxically contradictory, as also Bertrand Russell demonstrated with his paradox. This problem can also be expressed as that reality have to consist of units (objects) at the same time as that objects can’t be real, ie, that reality can’t be real. The problem we encounter is thus that the discussion itself contains a paradoxically contradictory core.

This is (I think) the reason why Ludwig Wittgenstein stated that: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent”, and why science is empirical. There simply isn’t any other way to distinguish knowledge from belief than by agreement between theory, ie, belief, and practice (in Swedish “science” is actually called “vetenskap”, where “veta” means “knowing”, so that “science” in Swedish is the art of distinguish knowing from believing per definition). Trying to find knowledge by discussion alone, ie, among empirically untestable statements, is bound to end up in Russell’s paradoxical contradiction, that is, what we must be silent about (to avoid the paradox’s infinite orthogonal carousel). Discussion can’t find knowledge other than by arriving to theories that can be empirically tested. In itself, it is just an infinite orthogonal carousel.

Unfortunately, explaining the paradoxically contradictory nature of discussion will never get rid of people that search the truth in discussion itself, because never will all people understand this explanation. Just as that not all people can understand math, not all people can neither understand this fact. The fact is thus like democracy, something we (scientists) have to fight for every day, with the difference that we in this case have to fight against those that think they have found the truth in discussion (ie, extremists like cladists and particle physicists). We have to fight for science itself against extremists, which isn’t easy, since science is inherently ambiguous, ie, that there are several equally true truths. The fight is thus that we consistently have to say that: no, the matter is more complicated than that, although we at the same time try to simplify matters as much as possible. We thus have to uphold the window between over-simplification and over-complication, ie, the window of science. Without it, we’re lost to the black-and-white approach, ie, if you’re not with us, then you’re against us.



10 responses to “On the problem with discussion

  1. Wittgenstein is very interesting to study. I like how he compares words to thought with clothing to body; neither the words or the clothing are designed to reveal the thought or body behind it. I can’t recall the quote precisely, but that is pretty close.

    • Yes, and the problem with words (clothes) is that they can only dress the thought (body) behind it across, along or diagonally, whereof diagonally is either ambiguous or contradictory between across and along depending on which aspect one chooses to approach it. This limits our choices into being either ambiguous or contradictory (ie, to prefer disbelief or belief), the former called science and the latter called faith. The boundary between these is thus just a matter of changing aspect from one to the other, ie, to start or stop believing (the former of which both cladistics and particle physics did via Willi Hennig and Peter Higgs, respectively).

      • I am considering the idea that it is similar with our senses. It seems like senses are designed not to reveal reality but to support the function of experience.

      • “Similar with our senses”, and “to support the function of experience”. The first problem with your reasoning is that nothing is designed. There’s no “designer”. The second problem is that the problem with words is a problem with words, nothing else. So, if there is a similar problem with our senses, then this problem is thus a problem with our senses, nothing else. And, I can’t understand how our senses “do not reveal reality”, but “support the function of experience”. Can, for example, shit smell like deodorant if this “supports the function of experience”, ie, that we think that it is deodorant? Can you please explain exctly how what I say have bearing on what we percieve with our senses.

      • You are designing your experience right now, naturally. Words are created based on what we perceive with our senses, so to conclude that the problem with words is simply a problem with words puts you in a trap and you will always have a problem with words. Pattern recognition is not a practice of conclusion. I see you are attached to your conclusions so I will not threaten them if it poses a problem to our discussion. Enjoy your day!

      • I am not “designing an experience”. I’m pointing at a fundamental problem there is with words. “The trap” this problem puts me (us, including you) in is not something I design, but something I point at. But you’re right in that I (we, including you) will always have this problem with words (ie, that they divide a unity). If you can “threaten” this conclusion, then please do. That’s how we conquer new land in knowledge.

  2. I think we actually agree, in a sense, but the words are failing to convey… of course we expected that! The conclusion I was referring to was “there is no designer”. I cannot conclude if there is or isn’t, or if the question even has relevance, but used the word “design” for lack of a better word. I am not advocating that a deity designed our senses or not, rather that our senses were formed in similar design with one another and appropriately according to each. I do wonder what shit smells like to creatures who consume it gratefully… well, maybe I don’t wonder too much, but our senses will give the response or experience most relevant for our needs. This does not make me think that reality is entirely subjective and we can just start eating shit and be genuinely healthy and happy about it. It makes me think that our senses serve important functions and I am considering, not concluding, if the functions are more geared to serving the experience of choice and result than a reality sensor. For whatever purpose our senses serve, we are endlessly in wonder as to what reality is despite our keen senses. If we knew reality, there would be no question of choice left. What kind of experience would that be? After all of that, I will continue to wonder about reality and I will not be able to stop trying to figure it out… and I think I am glad since I know truth is not likely to be found before the experience is over, the journey across the sea was more enlightening than reaching the destination anyway.

    • Yes, I also think we actually agree, according to your first comment. I just couldn’t understand your parallell to senses in your next comment. Words are not “designed” to reveal reality nor to not reveal reality, but are not designed at all. They are thus neither “designed” to “support the function” of anything. What words have, however, is a fundamental similarity with the reality we percieve, possibly by being created by the same processes, in lacking an unambiguous and consistent state, ie, a stable state or a middle, meaning that process (in reality) and logic (in words) both are endless by being orthogonal carousels. This fact has mathematics actually already come to terms with by deriving the basic operations in arithmetic from logic. Today it can consider one and the same problem from the two orthogonal aspects (ie, continuous and discrete mathematics).

      The similarity between words and senses have I never considered. What you say about the matter appear to make sense, but only if one presumes a designator. If not, then your statement that “It make me think that our senses serve important functions and I am considering, not concluding, if the functions are more geared to serving the experience of choice and result than a reality sensor” does not make sense. Then they are instead of course both, ie, “serving the experience of choice and result” and “a reality sensor”. There is no contradiction between the two. The apparent contradiction arises if one presumes a designator and a purpose of that designator.

      On the matter whether reality is subjective or objective, it can’t be either. It simply is. “Subjective” and “objective” are different approaches to reality, ie, ways to percieve reality, not something reality is. You is subjective if you only consider one aspect of reality, and objective if you consider many aspects of it (all aspects that there is someone that advocates, or possibly all aspects).

      What reality is, however, is ambiguous (by being in a constant change of states). This may, together with the similarity between reality and words, lead us to the conclusion that also reality (like words) is fundamentally paradoxically contradictory (as it has in particle physics with the invention of the impossible Higgs particle), but this is an error of thought. It actually presumes that reality is unambiguous and then concludes that it on the contrary must be paradoxically contradictory. If we instead presume that reality is ambiguous (as we all can see it is), then we can understand that the similarity between it and words in this regard, ie, being, is not of the same kind. Reality simply “isn’t” in the same way as words “are”. Words are abstract, whereas reality is concrete. If they had “been” in the same way, then dream would have been reality and reality would have been dream. Not even then would the two have fused.

      Your parallell to senses is thus interesting, but I can only see that it holds in the trivial sense, that is, that senses are subjective, like words also can be. The difference is that words also can be objective, and thus that senses do not suffer from the problem I discuss on this post.

      • Thank you for taking the time to explain it so well. I see what you are saying!

      • Thank you yourself for your comments. As I then hope you understand, it is the metalevel of discussion I discuss. The most interesting part of this discussion is that this metalevel appears to mimic reality itself in the approach we call “realism” by behaving like reality itself, ie, searching for a stable state that can’t be reached (is a paradoxical contradiction per definition). The discussion thus invalidates realism, although at the same time clarifying that neither the approach we call “nominalism” can reach a stable state by being consistently ambiguous in relation to the subject of discussion. It thus encircles the void middle of itself.

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