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honesty, scripts, and culture

rross
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6/19/2013 9:07:15 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I'm not convinced by this idea of honesty (in the sense of telling the truth rather than lying). To me it seems like a constructed, class-related code.

Within every social class/culture there are things you're allowed to lie about and things you aren't. For example, in many (but not all) cultures you're allowed to lie in small talk to protect people's feelings.

In my mother's culture, you're not allowed to lie in small talk, but you're allowed to lie about your health - you can pretend you're healthy when you're not. In my father's culture, you're allowed to lie about actual events if you do so in an amusing way. And so on.

Personally, when I catch someone lying about something I consider impermissible, I think "oh. you're not one of us." This is a class reaction rather than anything else. By demonstrating a lie against the subtle, powerful class code, the person is showing themselves to be an outsider.

Conversation is very rarely about honesty, I think. It's all about following the script, and it's not so much that the script is a lie - it's more that truth is kind of irrelevant to it. I've noticed that if I deviate from the script, people simply don't hear me - they assume I've said the right thing and continue the conversation as if I have. Or, they stop, confused, and there's an awkward moment. Either way, the content of my message, whatever it was, is not conveyed. It's completely drowned out by the "she deviated from the expected! Is she OK?"

So I think, when you accuse someone of being a liar, you're making a very strong statement that the person is outside the group and that is all. We all lie, and most of our lies are sanctioned. It's like in war, I guess, when you're allowed to murder people. If one soldier said to another, in wartime, "you're a murderer!" what is he saying really?
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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6/19/2013 9:29:14 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/19/2013 9:07:15 PM, rross wrote:
I'm not convinced by this idea of honesty (in the sense of telling the truth rather than lying). To me it seems like a constructed, class-related code.

Within every social class/culture there are things you're allowed to lie about and things you aren't. For example, in many (but not all) cultures you're allowed to lie in small talk to protect people's feelings.

In my mother's culture, you're not allowed to lie in small talk, but you're allowed to lie about your health - you can pretend you're healthy when you're not. In my father's culture, you're allowed to lie about actual events if you do so in an amusing way. And so on.

Personally, when I catch someone lying about something I consider impermissible, I think "oh. you're not one of us." This is a class reaction rather than anything else. By demonstrating a lie against the subtle, powerful class code, the person is showing themselves to be an outsider.

Conversation is very rarely about honesty, I think. It's all about following the script, and it's not so much that the script is a lie - it's more that truth is kind of irrelevant to it. I've noticed that if I deviate from the script, people simply don't hear me - they assume I've said the right thing and continue the conversation as if I have. Or, they stop, confused, and there's an awkward moment. Either way, the content of my message, whatever it was, is not conveyed. It's completely drowned out by the "she deviated from the expected! Is she OK?"

So I think, when you accuse someone of being a liar, you're making a very strong statement that the person is outside the group and that is all. We all lie, and most of our lies are sanctioned. It's like in war, I guess, when you're allowed to murder people. If one soldier said to another, in wartime, "you're a murderer!" what is he saying really?

Very interesting.

I agree with most of what you say here, and I'll be the first to admit I'm terrible at small talk.

On the bolded, even in wartime there are rules to killing, and thus a set of expectations. If one soldier said to another, in wartime, "you're a murderer!" that soldier is saying that the accused has indeed deviated from expectations, and deserves punishment. In your social setting, it is ostracization. In the military it is probably the death penalty.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
YYW
Posts: 36,282
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6/19/2013 9:36:33 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/19/2013 9:07:15 PM, rross wrote:
I'm not convinced by this idea of honesty (in the sense of telling the truth rather than lying). To me it seems like a constructed, class-related code.

Within every social class/culture there are things you're allowed to lie about and things you aren't. For example, in many (but not all) cultures you're allowed to lie in small talk to protect people's feelings.

In my mother's culture, you're not allowed to lie in small talk, but you're allowed to lie about your health - you can pretend you're healthy when you're not. In my father's culture, you're allowed to lie about actual events if you do so in an amusing way. And so on.

Personally, when I catch someone lying about something I consider impermissible, I think "oh. you're not one of us." This is a class reaction rather than anything else. By demonstrating a lie against the subtle, powerful class code, the person is showing themselves to be an outsider.

Conversation is very rarely about honesty, I think. It's all about following the script, and it's not so much that the script is a lie - it's more that truth is kind of irrelevant to it. I've noticed that if I deviate from the script, people simply don't hear me - they assume I've said the right thing and continue the conversation as if I have. Or, they stop, confused, and there's an awkward moment. Either way, the content of my message, whatever it was, is not conveyed. It's completely drowned out by the "she deviated from the expected! Is she OK?"

So I think, when you accuse someone of being a liar, you're making a very strong statement that the person is outside the group and that is all. We all lie, and most of our lies are sanctioned. It's like in war, I guess, when you're allowed to murder people. If one soldier said to another, in wartime, "you're a murderer!" what is he saying really?

This is a fascinating series of ideas.

I think that while class may define the parameters of the extent to and conditions under which lying is permissible (which is to say, at least not socially inappropriate, perhaps socially sanctioned, vindicated, accepted or even expected), culture is likely the more significant defining factor behind which the parameters of permissible lying are set. Personal relationships might change those boundaries, though.

But when lying is permissible and when lying is not permissible does reflect a value framework that is fairly interesting, though. If lying about one's health is acceptable such that when one is sick one may say they are well, it tells me that people don't want others to worry about them. That's a sort of fierce independence that's very respectable. Also, not complaining -especially when one has a valid reason to complain- is extremely respectable, imo.

But, to lie when lying is not permissible invokes a kind of judgement that -while may have implications that reflect the value structures of certain classes- carries much heavier weight. One is not considered a liar if they tell someone that "no, that dress does not make you look fat" when the opposite is the case. But, one is considered a liar if one says "I didn't eat that last cookie." when in fact one did. The kind of lie, and the circumstances of the lie, in the context of a given culture seems to be the demarcating factor between whether one who lies is describable as a liar or not even if it is the case that one has not told the truth.

But in conversation, if someone asks me "how are you?" whether I know the person or not, unless it is a very close friend, whether I am feeling fantastic or miserable, I'm going to say something to the effect of "I'm well. Thanks. How are you?" for the reason that people do not need to be concerned with my problems, or generally the unpleasantries of my life. It's out of respect for their interests that I would not say, "In fact, mate, I feel like sh!t. Thank's for asking. How are you?"

The reason why I see no problem not saying how I really feel is because small talk is less about the truth, than it is about being friendly; establishing and maintaining rapport. I see no reason to burden someone else with my troubles, in the overwhelming majority of circumstances. Oddly enough, I'm generally happy to listen to other people vent, complain or unload their problems. If I can help someone solve a problem, then I'm happy to do that and even if I can't I'm still happy to listen. Very ironic, I suppose.
Tsar of DDO
rross
Posts: 2,772
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6/19/2013 10:23:54 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Small talk is one easy example, and most of my life is small talk, but I think this rule about lying applies to all kinds of conversation. For example, in professional situations, people will hold back. If a patient asks a doctor, "do you think I'm going to die?", the doctor (hopefully) won't say, "Yes, probably. You've got that deathly shade of yellow, happening."

Or in business, especially in the US, you're supposed to always, always talk up yourself, the team and the company. Truth doesn't come into it.

Personally, I wonder about this idea of truth, anyway. Is there any truth outside socially determined standards? Occasionally I find myself insisting on "truth", but usually what that means is I'm insisting on standards that I learned in a different social context from the one I happen to be in at that moment. And I'm sure of the truth, I know it to be true because I happen to respect the people I learned those standards from more than I respect the situation I'm objecting to. It's all just socially derived.
YYW
Posts: 36,282
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6/19/2013 10:31:46 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/19/2013 10:23:54 PM, rross wrote:
Small talk is one easy example, and most of my life is small talk, but I think this rule about lying applies to all kinds of conversation. For example, in professional situations, people will hold back. If a patient asks a doctor, "do you think I'm going to die?", the doctor (hopefully) won't say, "Yes, probably. You've got that deathly shade of yellow, happening."

Or in business, especially in the US, you're supposed to always, always talk up yourself, the team and the company. Truth doesn't come into it.

The self-marketing culture of the American corporate world is the reason why I could never hold a corporate job. My father would complain, especially, about millennials with newly minted MBA's -their arrogance, conceitedness and overinflated sense of self worth. There is no truth, no candor, no meaning... just people selling sh!t to other people. Nothing more or less.

Personally, I wonder about this idea of truth, anyway. Is there any truth outside socially determined standards? Occasionally I find myself insisting on "truth", but usually what that means is I'm insisting on standards that I learned in a different social context from the one I happen to be in at that moment. And I'm sure of the truth, I know it to be true because I happen to respect the people I learned those standards from more than I respect the situation I'm objecting to. It's all just socially derived.

You might like this:

http://www.goodreads.com...
Tsar of DDO
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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6/20/2013 1:35:36 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/19/2013 10:23:54 PM, rross wrote:

Personally, I wonder about this idea of truth, anyway. Is there any truth outside socially determined standards? Occasionally I find myself insisting on "truth", but usually what that means is I'm insisting on standards that I learned in a different social context from the one I happen to be in at that moment. And I'm sure of the truth, I know it to be true because I happen to respect the people I learned those standards from more than I respect the situation I'm objecting to. It's all just socially derived.

Well, in regards to what I understand your main point to be, "socially determined truths" would be in a wholly different category from what you learn from, say, a mathematics textbook. What is conveyed in social interactions is totally different from actual knowledge, and is much more about determining intent of those communicating. Therefore, knowledge is largely irrelevant to social custom.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
rross
Posts: 2,772
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6/20/2013 6:45:26 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/19/2013 10:31:46 PM, YYW wrote:
At 6/19/2013 10:23:54 PM, rross wrote:
Small talk is one easy example, and most of my life is small talk, but I think this rule about lying applies to all kinds of conversation. For example, in professional situations, people will hold back. If a patient asks a doctor, "do you think I'm going to die?", the doctor (hopefully) won't say, "Yes, probably. You've got that deathly shade of yellow, happening."

Or in business, especially in the US, you're supposed to always, always talk up yourself, the team and the company. Truth doesn't come into it.

The self-marketing culture of the American corporate world is the reason why I could never hold a corporate job. My father would complain, especially, about millennials with newly minted MBA's -their arrogance, conceitedness and overinflated sense of self worth. There is no truth, no candor, no meaning... just people selling sh!t to other people. Nothing more or less.

Personally, I wonder about this idea of truth, anyway. Is there any truth outside socially determined standards? Occasionally I find myself insisting on "truth", but usually what that means is I'm insisting on standards that I learned in a different social context from the one I happen to be in at that moment. And I'm sure of the truth, I know it to be true because I happen to respect the people I learned those standards from more than I respect the situation I'm objecting to. It's all just socially derived.

You might like this:

http://www.goodreads.com...

That looks interesting, lol. What are you, a librarian? Thanks.
rross
Posts: 2,772
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6/20/2013 6:54:46 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/20/2013 1:35:36 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 6/19/2013 10:23:54 PM, rross wrote:

Personally, I wonder about this idea of truth, anyway. Is there any truth outside socially determined standards? Occasionally I find myself insisting on "truth", but usually what that means is I'm insisting on standards that I learned in a different social context from the one I happen to be in at that moment. And I'm sure of the truth, I know it to be true because I happen to respect the people I learned those standards from more than I respect the situation I'm objecting to. It's all just socially derived.

Well, in regards to what I understand your main point to be, "socially determined truths" would be in a wholly different category from what you learn from, say, a mathematics textbook. What is conveyed in social interactions is totally different from actual knowledge, and is much more about determining intent of those communicating. Therefore, knowledge is largely irrelevant to social custom.

No, well, I don't see it that way, necessarily. "Main point" is kind of an overstatement. If I was surer about this, I'd be putting it as a debate.

But no. With maths, say, or physics, we see it as "hard knowledge" but that's only a social valuation. There are plenty of cultures (aren't there?) that functioned effectively in the past without maths. We learn maths because we're taught to. Our parents and teachers draw our attention to it, highlight it as important, insist we do activities related to it. Maths is great, because you can use it to prove stuff, and everyone in the room will be respectful (it's maths! She proved it with maths!). This is not because they're respecting its objective value; it's because they too have been socialized to respect maths and science.

And about textbooks. Obviously, they're written by people who are well aware of the social context of education. And they're present to our attention by people. They are entirely within the category of social communication.
YYW
Posts: 36,282
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6/20/2013 7:49:29 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/20/2013 6:45:26 PM, rross wrote:
At 6/19/2013 10:31:46 PM, YYW wrote:
At 6/19/2013 10:23:54 PM, rross wrote:
Small talk is one easy example, and most of my life is small talk, but I think this rule about lying applies to all kinds of conversation. For example, in professional situations, people will hold back. If a patient asks a doctor, "do you think I'm going to die?", the doctor (hopefully) won't say, "Yes, probably. You've got that deathly shade of yellow, happening."

Or in business, especially in the US, you're supposed to always, always talk up yourself, the team and the company. Truth doesn't come into it.

The self-marketing culture of the American corporate world is the reason why I could never hold a corporate job. My father would complain, especially, about millennials with newly minted MBA's -their arrogance, conceitedness and overinflated sense of self worth. There is no truth, no candor, no meaning... just people selling sh!t to other people. Nothing more or less.

Personally, I wonder about this idea of truth, anyway. Is there any truth outside socially determined standards? Occasionally I find myself insisting on "truth", but usually what that means is I'm insisting on standards that I learned in a different social context from the one I happen to be in at that moment. And I'm sure of the truth, I know it to be true because I happen to respect the people I learned those standards from more than I respect the situation I'm objecting to. It's all just socially derived.

You might like this:

http://www.goodreads.com...

That looks interesting, lol. What are you, a librarian? Thanks.

No, it was on the reading list from a graduate course I took a year ago.
Tsar of DDO
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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6/21/2013 1:26:12 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/20/2013 6:54:46 PM, rross wrote:
At 6/20/2013 1:35:36 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 6/19/2013 10:23:54 PM, rross wrote:

Personally, I wonder about this idea of truth, anyway. Is there any truth outside socially determined standards? Occasionally I find myself insisting on "truth", but usually what that means is I'm insisting on standards that I learned in a different social context from the one I happen to be in at that moment. And I'm sure of the truth, I know it to be true because I happen to respect the people I learned those standards from more than I respect the situation I'm objecting to. It's all just socially derived.

Well, in regards to what I understand your main point to be, "socially determined truths" would be in a wholly different category from what you learn from, say, a mathematics textbook. What is conveyed in social interactions is totally different from actual knowledge, and is much more about determining intent of those communicating. Therefore, knowledge is largely irrelevant to social custom.

No, well, I don't see it that way, necessarily. "Main point" is kind of an overstatement. If I was surer about this, I'd be putting it as a debate.

But no. With maths, say, or physics, we see it as "hard knowledge" but that's only a social valuation. There are plenty of cultures (aren't there?) that functioned effectively in the past without maths. We learn maths because we're taught to. Our parents and teachers draw our attention to it, highlight it as important, insist we do activities related to it. Maths is great, because you can use it to prove stuff, and everyone in the room will be respectful (it's maths! She proved it with maths!). This is not because they're respecting its objective value; it's because they too have been socialized to respect maths and science.

I disagree with the bolded. Certainly that is one reason, but it is not the only reason. One could see potential in "higher math" and seek to achieve it. It would have little to do with being taught such math by another person, and much more to do with discovering the math and possibly divulging the discovery to society at large. This would be an instance of knowledge apart from "social knowledge".

About other cultures thriving without higher math, most of those cultures are now obsolete or outdated and have dropped from "social knowledge".

And about textbooks. Obviously, they're written by people who are well aware of the social context of education. And they're present to our attention by people. They are entirely within the category of social communication.

Right. Textbooks are meant to educate. However, I don't expect the majority of the population to be intimately familiar with differential equations. It's not "social knowledge" even though that textbook is a product of society.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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6/21/2013 1:28:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Hmmm...I may have conflated "social knowledge" with "social awareness". Anyway.

Maybe I'm asking you what the difference is between the two. You seem to be dealing mainly with societal awareness of "truth" which to me is a different issue than actual knowledge.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
rross
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6/22/2013 6:59:52 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/21/2013 1:28:19 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
Hmmm...I may have conflated "social knowledge" with "social awareness". Anyway.

Maybe I'm asking you what the difference is between the two. You seem to be dealing mainly with societal awareness of "truth" which to me is a different issue than actual knowledge.

What's the difference? (I really want to know)
wrichcirw
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6/22/2013 10:59:38 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/22/2013 6:59:52 AM, rross wrote:
At 6/21/2013 1:28:19 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
Hmmm...I may have conflated "social knowledge" with "social awareness". Anyway.

Maybe I'm asking you what the difference is between the two. You seem to be dealing mainly with societal awareness of "truth" which to me is a different issue than actual knowledge.

What's the difference? (I really want to know)

Societal awareness of "truth" in the specific context of your comments here deals with societal norms, customs, and obligations. Those are all fine and necessary, but most times such norms, customs, and obligations do not take into account anything recognizable as "fact". The only "fact" to come out of these "truths" is the intent of members of society, that they adhere or not adhere to societal norms, that they respect or not respect social customs, and that they fulfill or not fulfill societal obligations. Such "facts" are useful, but have nothing to do with the density of the planet Jupiter for example, and nothing to do with other aspects of knowledge, whether that knowledge is known or unknown to society (i.e. whether or not it is in some textbook somewhere).
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
rross
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6/22/2013 5:27:27 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/22/2013 10:59:38 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 6/22/2013 6:59:52 AM, rross wrote:
At 6/21/2013 1:28:19 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
Hmmm...I may have conflated "social knowledge" with "social awareness". Anyway.

Maybe I'm asking you what the difference is between the two. You seem to be dealing mainly with societal awareness of "truth" which to me is a different issue than actual knowledge.

What's the difference? (I really want to know)

Societal awareness of "truth" in the specific context of your comments here deals with societal norms, customs, and obligations. Those are all fine and necessary, but most times such norms, customs, and obligations do not take into account anything recognizable as "fact". The only "fact" to come out of these "truths" is the intent of members of society, that they adhere or not adhere to societal norms, that they respect or not respect social customs, and that they fulfill or not fulfill societal obligations. Such "facts" are useful, but have nothing to do with the density of the planet Jupiter for example, and nothing to do with other aspects of knowledge, whether that knowledge is known or unknown to society (i.e. whether or not it is in some textbook somewhere).

Density of Jupiter? See, to me, it takes a lot of social faith to believe in Jupiter, its density and that the relevant number has any significance. Even if I sat down with the people who know all about that, and they talked me through it, it would still take immense faith that the process of calculation is valid. Don't you think?
Skepsikyma
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6/23/2013 2:50:13 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/20/2013 6:54:46 PM, rross wrote:
At 6/20/2013 1:35:36 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 6/19/2013 10:23:54 PM, rross wrote:

Personally, I wonder about this idea of truth, anyway. Is there any truth outside socially determined standards? Occasionally I find myself insisting on "truth", but usually what that means is I'm insisting on standards that I learned in a different social context from the one I happen to be in at that moment. And I'm sure of the truth, I know it to be true because I happen to respect the people I learned those standards from more than I respect the situation I'm objecting to. It's all just socially derived.

Well, in regards to what I understand your main point to be, "socially determined truths" would be in a wholly different category from what you learn from, say, a mathematics textbook. What is conveyed in social interactions is totally different from actual knowledge, and is much more about determining intent of those communicating. Therefore, knowledge is largely irrelevant to social custom.

No, well, I don't see it that way, necessarily. "Main point" is kind of an overstatement. If I was surer about this, I'd be putting it as a debate.

But no. With maths, say, or physics, we see it as "hard knowledge" but that's only a social valuation. There are plenty of cultures (aren't there?) that functioned effectively in the past without maths.

Not really. When you look at which societies succeeded or failed (survived/expanded) the adoption of some system of mathematics is one of the strongest prerequisites for success on a societal level. From the Mayans to the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Persians and Babylonians, they all emerged with systems of mathematical calculations. Even the late-bloomers, society-wise, like the Arabs, made huge advances in mathematics when they finally acquired power and standing. This is because predicting future outcomes is one of the ways in which humans gain an evolutionary edge. We're incredibly dependent on brain power, and mathematics are simply a symbolic expression of the efficacious application of our predicative abilities.

We learn maths because we're taught to. Our parents and teachers draw our attention to it, highlight it as important, insist we do activities related to it.

I learned math because I though that it was thrilling to be able to work with patterns in such an interesting manner.

Maths is great, because you can use it to prove stuff, and everyone in the room will be respectful (it's maths! She proved it with maths!). This is not because they're respecting its objective value; it's because they too have been socialized to respect maths and science.

I don't think that this is true at all. My father was a high-school drop-out and a self-taught engineer, brilliant with math and heavily involved with its practical applications. I still remember hanging upside down from a tree limb when I was around four, being taught division and the concept of negative numbers. When I was seven he was teaching me trigonometry while he built his barn. Neither of us ever did math to impress people. I've actually never in my life seen him use it in front of people to prove a point. We did it because it was fun, and allowed us to predict how the world around us would act.

And about textbooks. Obviously, they're written by people who are well aware of the social context of education. And they're present to our attention by people. They are entirely within the category of social communication.

I agree that textbooks are horribly biased and, in the end, ineffective. But that doesn't mean that the subject matter isn't cogent, useful, and objectively true. There's a reason that cultures which never met one another came to the same conclusions regarding mathematical principles: they're born when we look at nature, observe her patterns, and ask ourselves how they relate to one another. This is universal.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
rross
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6/23/2013 5:31:32 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/23/2013 2:50:13 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 6/20/2013 6:54:46 PM, rross wrote:
At 6/20/2013 1:35:36 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 6/19/2013 10:23:54 PM, rross wrote:

Personally, I wonder about this idea of truth, anyway. Is there any truth outside socially determined standards? Occasionally I find myself insisting on "truth", but usually what that means is I'm insisting on standards that I learned in a different social context from the one I happen to be in at that moment. And I'm sure of the truth, I know it to be true because I happen to respect the people I learned those standards from more than I respect the situation I'm objecting to. It's all just socially derived.

Well, in regards to what I understand your main point to be, "socially determined truths" would be in a wholly different category from what you learn from, say, a mathematics textbook. What is conveyed in social interactions is totally different from actual knowledge, and is much more about determining intent of those communicating. Therefore, knowledge is largely irrelevant to social custom.

No, well, I don't see it that way, necessarily. "Main point" is kind of an overstatement. If I was surer about this, I'd be putting it as a debate.

But no. With maths, say, or physics, we see it as "hard knowledge" but that's only a social valuation. There are plenty of cultures (aren't there?) that functioned effectively in the past without maths.

Not really. When you look at which societies succeeded or failed (survived/expanded) the adoption of some system of mathematics is one of the strongest prerequisites for success on a societal level. From the Mayans to the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Persians and Babylonians, they all emerged with systems of mathematical calculations. Even the late-bloomers, society-wise, like the Arabs, made huge advances in mathematics when they finally acquired power and standing. This is because predicting future outcomes is one of the ways in which humans gain an evolutionary edge. We're incredibly dependent on brain power, and mathematics are simply a symbolic expression of the efficacious application of our predicative abilities.

This is an extraordinary - almost laughable - claim. That maths is necessary for a society's success? Surely, it's the other way around - mathematics is a luxury that can only be afforded when there's a leisure class? You could argue that intricate sculpture is essential for societal success, on the grounds that only successful cultures ever develop it. And I could make up a reason. Why, society gets its strength from expressions of beauty and skill.

We learn maths because we're taught to. Our parents and teachers draw our attention to it, highlight it as important, insist we do activities related to it.

I learned math because I though that it was thrilling to be able to work with patterns in such an interesting manner.

Ay. See below.

Maths is great, because you can use it to prove stuff, and everyone in the room will be respectful (it's maths! She proved it with maths!). This is not because they're respecting its objective value; it's because they too have been socialized to respect maths and science.

I don't think that this is true at all. My father was a high-school drop-out and a self-taught engineer, brilliant with math and heavily involved with its practical applications. I still remember hanging upside down from a tree limb when I was around four, being taught division and the concept of negative numbers. When I was seven he was teaching me trigonometry while he built his barn. Neither of us ever did math to impress people. I've actually never in my life seen him use it in front of people to prove a point. We did it because it was fun, and allowed us to predict how the world around us would act.

Well, your Dad sounds awesome, and you did things together and talked about maths together. Of course you found it thrilling to be able to work with patterns in such an interesting manner. What little boy wouldn't? It kind of demonstrates my point about knowledge being socially derived.

About learning maths to impress people. I wasn't trying to say that at all, although I can see how you could interpret my words that way. All I meant was that everyone believes maths is important (whether they like it or understand it or not) because our society places value on it. You say that you independently value maths, but you learned to love maths from your Dad, and that's a social interaction too.

And about textbooks. Obviously, they're written by people who are well aware of the social context of education. And they're present to our attention by people. They are entirely within the category of social communication.

I agree that textbooks are horribly biased and, in the end, ineffective. But that doesn't mean that the subject matter isn't cogent, useful, and objectively true. There's a reason that cultures which never met one another came to the same conclusions regarding mathematical principles: they're born when we look at nature, observe her patterns, and ask ourselves how they relate to one another. This is universal.

Yes, but the maths that looks at patterns is just another language, really. Words are clumsy at expressing particular ideas about patterns, transformations etc. so we use symbols instead. And we bother with all that because it's a means of communicating between humans, which is a social interaction. We are interested in our response to patterns because it's something we can share with each other. There you are, for example, talking about how mathematical principles are universal. That is, they are valuable because they belong so broadly to society. That's where they derive their value.

So this idea of objective knowledge is just a social construction. If you think, a thousand years ago when they believed the Earth was flat and the stars drove our destiny, that was objective knowledge. In a thousand years time I imagine "objective knowledge" will be completely transformed again, and what we believe now will seem quaint and have its own name, and the new objective knowledge will temporarily be "fact".

For example, when I was at school, we learned that the tongue had different areas for different tastes. I learned it several times, and we even did experiments that never worked, but it was always in the textbook and we all assumed it was true. And it wasn't. It was based on a mistranslation of some German research from 1901.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

It's just mind-boggling. I assumed there was something wrong with my tongue and the way I experienced tastes, as did all my contemporaries and all my teachers and millions of people. We all just accepted the "objective knowledge" like a big flock of (cute) sheep.

So that was fact and that was wrong. And my point is not that accepted facts can be wrong, but that it is society's valuation, or the word of society's accepted authorities, that makes them true or false, and nothing else.
AlbinoBunny
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6/23/2013 7:45:35 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Honestly allows the use of correct information by others. If those others have the same or similar goals to you, it would be beneficial to all to be honest. Honesty isn't always the best course of action, however. Considering above, imagine the common example, a man brandishing a gun angrily asks you where your friend is, and you know he wants to kill your friend. You lie to them, because his goals directly go against yours, and his goals probably go against most people's morality. (we're assuming he wants to kill your friend)

Of course, there is a lot of lying of the bad kind which happens in society.
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Skepsikyma
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6/23/2013 8:12:23 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/23/2013 5:31:32 AM, rross wrote:
At 6/23/2013 2:50:13 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 6/20/2013 6:54:46 PM, rross wrote:
No, well, I don't see it that way, necessarily. "Main point" is kind of an overstatement. If I was surer about this, I'd be putting it as a debate.

But no. With maths, say, or physics, we see it as "hard knowledge" but that's only a social valuation. There are plenty of cultures (aren't there?) that functioned effectively in the past without maths.

Not really. When you look at which societies succeeded or failed (survived/expanded) the adoption of some system of mathematics is one of the strongest prerequisites for success on a societal level. From the Mayans to the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Persians and Babylonians, they all emerged with systems of mathematical calculations. Even the late-bloomers, society-wise, like the Arabs, made huge advances in mathematics when they finally acquired power and standing. This is because predicting future outcomes is one of the ways in which humans gain an evolutionary edge. We're incredibly dependent on brain power, and mathematics are simply a symbolic expression of the efficacious application of our predicative abilities.

This is an extraordinary - almost laughable - claim. That maths is necessary for a society's success? Surely, it's the other way around - mathematics is a luxury that can only be afforded when there's a leisure class? You could argue that intricate sculpture is essential for societal success, on the grounds that only successful cultures ever develop it. And I could make up a reason. Why, society gets its strength from expressions of beauty and skill.

There's a big difference: when a society adopts math, it means that they've formalized a language which expresses universal logical principles. This opens the door to advances in every other areas, and gives them an edge over their competitors in every field from architecture and agriculture to weaponry and military strategy. It's not just a correlation = causation argument.


We learn maths because we're taught to. Our parents and teachers draw our attention to it, highlight it as important, insist we do activities related to it.

I learned math because I though that it was thrilling to be able to work with patterns in such an interesting manner.

Ay. See below.

Maths is great, because you can use it to prove stuff, and everyone in the room will be respectful (it's maths! She proved it with maths!). This is not because they're respecting its objective value; it's because they too have been socialized to respect maths and science.

I don't think that this is true at all. My father was a high-school drop-out and a self-taught engineer, brilliant with math and heavily involved with its practical applications. I still remember hanging upside down from a tree limb when I was around four, being taught division and the concept of negative numbers. When I was seven he was teaching me trigonometry while he built his barn. Neither of us ever did math to impress people. I've actually never in my life seen him use it in front of people to prove a point. We did it because it was fun, and allowed us to predict how the world around us would act.

Well, your Dad sounds awesome, and you did things together and talked about maths together. Of course you found it thrilling to be able to work with patterns in such an interesting manner. What little boy wouldn't? It kind of demonstrates my point about knowledge being socially derived.

What I'm saying is that I liked math because it worked. That's what makes math special, and completely unlike prayer, fashion, or other societal contracts: it has objective predicative value which can be universally observed.

About learning maths to impress people. I wasn't trying to say that at all, although I can see how you could interpret my words that way. All I meant was that everyone believes maths is important (whether they like it or understand it or not) because our society places value on it. You say that you independently value maths, but you learned to love maths from your Dad, and that's a social interaction too.

I'm saying that my dad and I both loved math because it works, not because we learned it from society. He was anything but a straight-A student seeking approval, had almost criminally negligent parents, and was a bit of a lone wolf, socially. He also grew up in a time and area where being good at math wasn't socially reinforced by a long shot. He used it simply because it worked.

And about textbooks. Obviously, they're written by people who are well aware of the social context of education. And they're present to our attention by people. They are entirely within the category of social communication.

I agree that textbooks are horribly biased and, in the end, ineffective. But that doesn't mean that the subject matter isn't cogent, useful, and objectively true. There's a reason that cultures which never met one another came to the same conclusions regarding mathematical principles: they're born when we look at nature, observe her patterns, and ask ourselves how they relate to one another. This is universal.

Yes, but the maths that looks at patterns is just another language, really. Words are clumsy at expressing particular ideas about patterns, transformations etc. so we use symbols instead. And we bother with all that because it's a means of communicating between humans, which is a social interaction. We are interested in our response to patterns because it's something we can share with each other.

Math is really special as a language, and can't be compared to others. For why this is, I can only point to a pretty lengthy argument. To sum up the thesis of the piece, it is that math is the language which nature speaks in, symbolically expressed in a way which includes logical principles.

There you are, for example, talking about how mathematical principles are universal. That is, they are valuable because they belong so broadly to society. That's where they derive their value.

But why do they belong so broadly to society? To societies which have never met? It is because mathematics is a formal expression of principles which would still exist if every single human being on the planet were dead. That's what makes it completely objective, and that's also why it's universally adopted.

So this idea of objective knowledge is just a social construction. If you think, a thousand years ago when they believed the Earth was flat and the stars drove our destiny, that was objective knowledge. In a thousand years time I imagine "objective knowledge" will be completely transformed again, and what we believe now will seem quaint and have its own name, and the new objective knowledge will temporarily be "fact".

Yes, but basic mathematical axioms remain the same. You can't just deduce that all knowledge is socially reinforced from the fact that many ideas change over time.

For example, when I was at school, we learned that the tongue had different areas for different tastes. I learned it several times, and we even did experiments that never worked, but it was always in the textbook and we all assumed it was true. And it wasn't. It was based on a mistranslation of some German research from 1901.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

It's just mind-boggling. I assumed there was something wrong with my tongue and the way I experienced tastes, as did all my contemporaries and all my teachers and millions of people. We all just accepted the "objective knowledge" like a big flock of (cute) sheep.

So that was fact and that was wrong. And my point is not that accepted facts can be wrong, but that it is society's valuation, or the word of society's accepted authorities, that mak
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
Skepsikyma
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6/23/2013 8:12:47 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Ugh, video didn't post.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
wrichcirw
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6/23/2013 2:40:01 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/22/2013 5:27:27 PM, rross wrote:
At 6/22/2013 10:59:38 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 6/22/2013 6:59:52 AM, rross wrote:
At 6/21/2013 1:28:19 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
Hmmm...I may have conflated "social knowledge" with "social awareness". Anyway.

Maybe I'm asking you what the difference is between the two. You seem to be dealing mainly with societal awareness of "truth" which to me is a different issue than actual knowledge.

What's the difference? (I really want to know)

Societal awareness of "truth" in the specific context of your comments here deals with societal norms, customs, and obligations. Those are all fine and necessary, but most times such norms, customs, and obligations do not take into account anything recognizable as "fact". The only "fact" to come out of these "truths" is the intent of members of society, that they adhere or not adhere to societal norms, that they respect or not respect social customs, and that they fulfill or not fulfill societal obligations. Such "facts" are useful, but have nothing to do with the density of the planet Jupiter for example, and nothing to do with other aspects of knowledge, whether that knowledge is known or unknown to society (i.e. whether or not it is in some textbook somewhere).

Density of Jupiter? See, to me, it takes a lot of social faith to believe in Jupiter, its density and that the relevant number has any significance. Even if I sat down with the people who know all about that, and they talked me through it, it would still take immense faith that the process of calculation is valid. Don't you think?

Hmm.

First of all, whether or not the existence of Jupiter and its density is significant to you is an entirely different matter than whether or not Jupiter actually exists and that it has a specific density.

Regarding "immense faith", well, probably the best way to avoid faith on this matter is to find out for yourself whether or not all of that talk is valid.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
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6/23/2013 3:05:38 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/23/2013 5:31:32 AM, rross wrote:
At 6/23/2013 2:50:13 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 6/20/2013 6:54:46 PM, rross wrote:

This is an extraordinary - almost laughable - claim. That maths is necessary for a society's success? Surely, it's the other way around - mathematics is a luxury that can only be afforded when there's a leisure class? You could argue that intricate sculpture is essential for societal success, on the grounds that only successful cultures ever develop it. And I could make up a reason. Why, society gets its strength from expressions of beauty and skill.

Whoa. I'm surprised you really believe this. To say that math is unnecessary for a society's success is to say that engineering is unnecessary for a society's success. Imagine if you could not build a bridge to cross a river. That's engineering, and math. Imagine if you could not figure out what quantities of iron and coal are required to make steel, or copper and tin to make bronze. That's also math. The curvature in an arch? Math. On the military and hence existential front, catapults, rifling, satellite technology? Math, math, and math.

Mathematics are a bedrock of how we perceive and understand the world around us. It is a bedrock of higher civilization, and a foundation on which civilizations rely upon to defend their culture from all manners of threats.

Finally, that math is "necessary for a society's success" and that it's "a luxury that can only be afforded when there's a leisure class" is not mutually exclusive. The resulting argument is that a leisure class (well, one that was free from manual labor to study "luxuries") is necessary for a society's success.

Maths is great, because you can use it to prove stuff, and everyone in the room will be respectful (it's maths! She proved it with maths!). This is not because they're respecting its objective value; it's because they too have been socialized to respect maths and science.

I don't think that this is true at all. My father was a high-school drop-out and a self-taught engineer, brilliant with math and heavily involved with its practical applications. I still remember hanging upside down from a tree limb when I was around four, being taught division and the concept of negative numbers. When I was seven he was teaching me trigonometry while he built his barn. Neither of us ever did math to impress people. I've actually never in my life seen him use it in front of people to prove a point. We did it because it was fun, and allowed us to predict how the world around us would act.

Well, your Dad sounds awesome, and you did things together and talked about maths together. Of course you found it thrilling to be able to work with patterns in such an interesting manner. What little boy wouldn't? It kind of demonstrates my point about knowledge being socially derived.

About learning maths to impress people. I wasn't trying to say that at all, although I can see how you could interpret my words that way. All I meant was that everyone believes maths is important (whether they like it or understand it or not) because our society places value on it. You say that you independently value maths, but you learned to love maths from your Dad, and that's a social interaction too.

Hmm...the argument here has become overly-complicated. Societal appreciation and societal knowledge are two different things, I think. Also, that society appreciates math in general may still mean that society does not appreciate certain aspects of math, and that certain aspects of math that are being developed by mathematicians are not yet a part of social knowledge, even if they are known by the mathematicians.

Yes, but the maths that looks at patterns is just another language, really. Words are clumsy at expressing particular ideas about patterns, transformations etc. so we use symbols instead. And we bother with all that because it's a means of communicating between humans, which is a social interaction. We are interested in our response to patterns because it's something we can share with each other. There you are, for example, talking about how mathematical principles are universal. That is, they are valuable because they belong so broadly to society. That's where they derive their value.

They do not "belong" to society. I think that is our primary disagreement. Also, whether or not math is valuable is different from whether or not math is "true".

So this idea of objective knowledge is just a social construction. If you think, a thousand years ago when they believed the Earth was flat and the stars drove our destiny, that was objective knowledge. In a thousand years time I imagine "objective knowledge" will be completely transformed again, and what we believe now will seem quaint and have its own name, and the new objective knowledge will temporarily be "fact".

Who believed this? You may say that a certain society believed this, but then I could point to astronomers that predated such societies that believed the earth was round. Societal knowledge =/= objective knowledge.

What "we believe" may be wholly different from what certain individuals believe.

For example, when I was at school, we learned that the tongue had different areas for different tastes. I learned it several times, and we even did experiments that never worked, but it was always in the textbook and we all assumed it was true. And it wasn't. It was based on a mistranslation of some German research from 1901.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

It's just mind-boggling. I assumed there was something wrong with my tongue and the way I experienced tastes, as did all my contemporaries and all my teachers and millions of people. We all just accepted the "objective knowledge" like a big flock of (cute) sheep.

So that was fact and that was wrong. And my point is not that accepted facts can be wrong, but that it is society's valuation, or the word of society's accepted authorities, that makes them true or false, and nothing else.

It may have been fact to you, but it may not have been fact to many. Also, I fail to see how this has anything to do with your OP about "societal truths" being a methodology to determine intent.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
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6/23/2013 3:13:18 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/23/2013 8:12:23 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:

What I'm saying is that I liked math because it worked. That's what makes math special, and completely unlike prayer, fashion, or other societal contracts: it has objective predicative value which can be universally observed.

Math is really special as a language, and can't be compared to others. For why this is, I can only point to a pretty lengthy argument. To sum up the thesis of the piece, it is that math is the language which nature speaks in, symbolically expressed in a way which includes logical principles.

Fully agree.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
rross
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6/23/2013 10:23:22 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/23/2013 8:12:23 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 6/23/2013 5:31:32 AM, rross wrote:
At 6/23/2013 2:50:13 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 6/20/2013 6:54:46 PM, rross wrote:
No, well, I don't see it that way, necessarily. "Main point" is kind of an overstatement. If I was surer about this, I'd be putting it as a debate.

But no. With maths, say, or physics, we see it as "hard knowledge" but that's only a social valuation. There are plenty of cultures (aren't there?) that functioned effectively in the past without maths.

Not really. When you look at which societies succeeded or failed (survived/expanded) the adoption of some system of mathematics is one of the strongest prerequisites for success on a societal level. From the Mayans to the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Persians and Babylonians, they all emerged with systems of mathematical calculations. Even the late-bloomers, society-wise, like the Arabs, made huge advances in mathematics when they finally acquired power and standing. This is because predicting future outcomes is one of the ways in which humans gain an evolutionary edge. We're incredibly dependent on brain power, and mathematics are simply a symbolic expression of the efficacious application of our predicative abilities.

This is an extraordinary - almost laughable - claim. That maths is necessary for a society's success? Surely, it's the other way around - mathematics is a luxury that can only be afforded when there's a leisure class? You could argue that intricate sculpture is essential for societal success, on the grounds that only successful cultures ever develop it. And I could make up a reason. Why, society gets its strength from expressions of beauty and skill.

There's a big difference: when a society adopts math, it means that they've formalized a language which expresses universal logical principles. This opens the door to advances in every other areas, and gives them an edge over their competitors in every field from architecture and agriculture to weaponry and military strategy. It's not just a correlation = causation argument.
...

What I'm saying is that I liked math because it worked. That's what makes math special, and completely unlike prayer, fashion, or other societal contracts: it has objective predicative value which can be universally observed.

It works. Oh well. You're possibly right. It would be nice to see some evidence, but in its absence, I'll accept all this about societies and history. Seems a bit unlikely, though.

...
Yes, but the maths that looks at patterns is just another language, really. Words are clumsy at expressing particular ideas about patterns, transformations etc. so we use symbols instead. And we bother with all that because it's a means of communicating between humans, which is a social interaction. We are interested in our response to patterns because it's something we can share with each other.

Math is really special as a language, and can't be compared to others. For why this is, I can only point to a pretty lengthy argument. To sum up the thesis of the piece, it is that math is the language which nature speaks in, symbolically expressed in a way which includes logical principles.

There you are, for example, talking about how mathematical principles are universal. That is, they are valuable because they belong so broadly to society. That's where they derive their value.

But why do they belong so broadly to society? To societies which have never met? It is because mathematics is a formal expression of principles which would still exist if every single human being on the planet were dead. That's what makes it completely objective, and that's also why it's universally adopted.

So this idea of objective knowledge is just a social construction. If you think, a thousand years ago when they believed the Earth was flat and the stars drove our destiny, that was objective knowledge. In a thousand years time I imagine "objective knowledge" will be completely transformed again, and what we believe now will seem quaint and have its own name, and the new objective knowledge will temporarily be "fact".

Yes, but basic mathematical axioms remain the same. You can't just deduce that all knowledge is socially reinforced from the fact that many ideas change over time.

)
I'm scared now that I don't know what math(s) is. It's very possible that I don't. I've always seen math as a procedure, and axioms as assumptions. For example, at the beginning of a proof, you'll put the axioms: X is a two-by-two matrix (or something), and the axiom becomes true for duration of the procedure. The axiom itself doesn't need to be proven one way or the other. I remember my father explaining religion to me in those terms. That god is an axiom, which is not questioned, but if you want to continue the procedure (Christianity), you accept it as true. Otherwise, not.

But this is how I see any "truth". You can accept it or not. And occasionally, you can look at the evidence for accepting it. As people do with those endless discussions about whether god exists or not. Far more important is the procedure. And, in the case of religion, what are the consequences of accepting the existence of god?

In terms of math, you say that the procedure works, therefore it has value. Quite. But this is a different thing entirely from whether or not it is true. Is its truth even relevant? I don't know. Like I say, I might be understanding the whole thing in the wrong way.
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6/23/2013 11:02:40 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/23/2013 3:05:38 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
At 6/23/2013 5:31:32 AM, rross wrote:
At 6/23/2013 2:50:13 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 6/20/2013 6:54:46 PM, rross wrote:

For example, when I was at school, we learned that the tongue had different areas for different tastes. I learned it several times, and we even did experiments that never worked, but it was always in the textbook and we all assumed it was true. And it wasn't. It was based on a mistranslation of some German research from 1901.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

It's just mind-boggling. I assumed there was something wrong with my tongue and the way I experienced tastes, as did all my contemporaries and all my teachers and millions of people. We all just accepted the "objective knowledge" like a big flock of (cute) sheep.

So that was fact and that was wrong. And my point is not that accepted facts can be wrong, but that it is society's valuation, or the word of society's accepted authorities, that makes them true or false, and nothing else.

It may have been fact to you, but it may not have been fact to many. Also, I fail to see how this has anything to do with your OP about "societal truths" being a methodology to determine intent.

Really. You would have had the same stuff at school, I'm sure. Did you not accept it as fact?

About the connection with the OP. I suppose I was just trying to dismiss the idea of objective truth from the discussion, because it's irrelevant - I think - but keeps lingering about.

I know (I think) you define lying as the intent to deceive, and that if you say something that's untrue, but you're just mistaken, then it doesn't count as a lie. Similarly, if a liar is mistaken about the facts and says what he believes is a lie, but is accidentally true, then it still counts as a lie.

But I want to take it even further away from the idea of "fact" than that. I want to say that nothing is anchored in fact, that fact is a social construct that we refer to from time to time. Some lies are allowed. For example, in the game of "cheat" you're expected to lie, in smalltalk, in various social situations, in marketing. We often lie to children, "for their own good". But in any situation, we manipulate the information to suit our audience. We must. We simplify, for example, to the point where what we're saying isn't strictly true. We meet expectations. We avoid confrontation by giving "white lies".

There are no exceptions. In physics, there's all kinds of uncertainty. We know that we can't assume our perceived reality will continue as it always has done, but we assume so because it's convenient to. We leave all this sort of stuff out of our communications in physics because it's cumbersome and impractical. We don't count this as lying. Of course not. In the biological and social sciences the inaccuracies are bigger, and still skipped over, for similar reasons.

The point is, as I said at the beginning, honesty just means conformity to the social group. If someone is a liar it's because they are deviating from a social standard of what is acceptable. There can be several reasons for this. One is that she is from a different social group which has different standards. Another could be that she has some kind of condition which prevented her from learning the complicated social rules in the first place. Another is that she is purposefully breaking the rules of society for reasons of her own.

I suppose a related social crime is rudeness. If someone refuses to comply with the social standards. And cheating. Your sympathy with these crimes will vary depending on your belief in the background standards. But that belief is socially derived too. For "liar" to be different from those other things, you have to believe there really is the opposite, lovely truth. And what I'm saying is that I'm not sure there is.
rross
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6/23/2013 11:10:39 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/23/2013 7:45:35 AM, AlbinoBunny wrote:
Honestly allows the use of correct information by others. If those others have the same or similar goals to you, it would be beneficial to all to be honest. Honesty isn't always the best course of action, however. Considering above, imagine the common example, a man brandishing a gun angrily asks you where your friend is, and you know he wants to kill your friend. You lie to them, because his goals directly go against yours, and his goals probably go against most people's morality. (we're assuming he wants to kill your friend)

Of course, there is a lot of lying of the bad kind which happens in society.

Dear me no. You're supposed to look the man with the gun fearlessly in the eye and say, "I won't tell you. Do your worst." Or you could flick a speck of dust off your gloves and gaze back silently with a raised eyebrow. Those are the only two options.
wrichcirw
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6/23/2013 11:36:00 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/23/2013 11:02:40 PM, rross wrote:


Really. You would have had the same stuff at school, I'm sure. Did you not accept it as fact?

About the tongue thing, no. I question everything. I've found that by thorough questioning, anything that survives the process tends to be "real". That's how I "keep it real" I guess.

I didn't take as fact that Jupiter is a gaseous red giant, even after looking at it through a telescope. But, I understand that there are people more knowledgeable on the subject than I am; if I am ever forced to utilize such knowledge, I would defer to such expert opinion. It would then be less important that I accept it as fact, and much more important that the opinion to which I refer is deemed correct.

About the connection with the OP. I suppose I was just trying to dismiss the idea of objective truth from the discussion, because it's irrelevant - I think - but keeps lingering about.

I largely agreed with your response to Skep. I think there does need to be a core assumption, and I also frame a belief in god as your father did.

I know (I think) you define lying as the intent to deceive, and that if you say something that's untrue, but you're just mistaken, then it doesn't count as a lie. Similarly, if a liar is mistaken about the facts and says what he believes is a lie, but is accidentally true, then it still counts as a lie.

I think the bolded is incorrect. In popular usage (not as it was in our debate), a lie has to be both false and with the intention of communicating falsehood. If a liar accidentally communicated a truth, even with the intention to lie, the liar did not lie there, he/she made a mistake.

1) But I want to take it even further away from the idea of "fact" than that. I want to say that nothing is anchored in fact, that fact is a social construct that we refer to from time to time. 2) Some lies are allowed. For example, in the game of "cheat" you're expected to lie, in smalltalk, in various social situations, in marketing. We often lie to children, "for their own good". But in any situation, we manipulate the information to suit our audience. We must. We simplify, for example, to the point where what we're saying isn't strictly true. We meet expectations. We avoid confrontation by giving "white lies".

1) I agree with this except for the emphasis on "social construct". A fact could easily be an individual construct. A social construct taken as fact would be an agreement amongst individuals.

2) Whether or not lies are allowed, whether it be an individual lying to him/herself, or a socially approved set of lies, does not change the reality around us at a certain level. For example, let's say that society for whatever reason thought that gold could float on water, and so constructed a ship made of gold to sail somewhere. Just because society has accepted as "fact" that gold floats on water does not make it so.

There are no exceptions. In physics, there's all kinds of uncertainty. We know that we can't assume our perceived reality will continue as it always has done, but we assume so because it's convenient to. We leave all this sort of stuff out of our communications in physics because it's cumbersome and impractical. We don't count this as lying. Of course not. In the biological and social sciences the inaccuracies are bigger, and still skipped over, for similar reasons.

Most of the hard sciences make no claim to "truth". "Fact" is what it is because it is verifiable. There's all kinds of uncertainty in physics, but at a basic level, there is an extremely high probability that a can of soda is not going to spontaneously combust in a thermonuclear explosion when you pop the top, even if physics assigns a possibility of such an occurrence and thus a degree of uncertainty.

The point is, as I said at the beginning, honesty just means conformity to the social group. If someone is a liar it's because they are deviating from a social standard of what is acceptable. There can be several reasons for this. One is that she is from a different social group which has different standards. Another could be that she has some kind of condition which prevented her from learning the complicated social rules in the first place. Another is that she is purposefully breaking the rules of society for reasons of her own.

I suppose a related social crime is rudeness. If someone refuses to comply with the social standards. And cheating. Your sympathy with these crimes will vary depending on your belief in the background standards. But that belief is socially derived too. For "liar" to be different from those other things, you have to believe there really is the opposite, lovely truth. And what I'm saying is that I'm not sure there is.

I agree with all of this. I think the hard sciences have the same issue with the "lovely truth". Regardless, I don't see how one is relevant to the other (i.e. societal "truths" and hard scientific "fact").
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Skepsikyma
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6/23/2013 11:40:53 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/23/2013 10:23:22 PM, rross wrote:
At 6/23/2013 8:12:23 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 6/23/2013 5:31:32 AM, rross wrote:
At 6/23/2013 2:50:13 AM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 6/20/2013 6:54:46 PM, rross wrote:
No, well, I don't see it that way, necessarily. "Main point" is kind of an overstatement. If I was surer about this, I'd be putting it as a debate.

But no. With maths, say, or physics, we see it as "hard knowledge" but that's only a social valuation. There are plenty of cultures (aren't there?) that functioned effectively in the past without maths.

Not really. When you look at which societies succeeded or failed (survived/expanded) the adoption of some system of mathematics is one of the strongest prerequisites for success on a societal level. From the Mayans to the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Persians and Babylonians, they all emerged with systems of mathematical calculations. Even the late-bloomers, society-wise, like the Arabs, made huge advances in mathematics when they finally acquired power and standing. This is because predicting future outcomes is one of the ways in which humans gain an evolutionary edge. We're incredibly dependent on brain power, and mathematics are simply a symbolic expression of the efficacious application of our predicative abilities.

This is an extraordinary - almost laughable - claim. That maths is necessary for a society's success? Surely, it's the other way around - mathematics is a luxury that can only be afforded when there's a leisure class? You could argue that intricate sculpture is essential for societal success, on the grounds that only successful cultures ever develop it. And I could make up a reason. Why, society gets its strength from expressions of beauty and skill.

There's a big difference: when a society adopts math, it means that they've formalized a language which expresses universal logical principles. This opens the door to advances in every other areas, and gives them an edge over their competitors in every field from architecture and agriculture to weaponry and military strategy. It's not just a correlation = causation argument.
...

What I'm saying is that I liked math because it worked. That's what makes math special, and completely unlike prayer, fashion, or other societal contracts: it has objective predicative value which can be universally observed.

It works. Oh well. You're possibly right. It would be nice to see some evidence, but in its absence, I'll accept all this about societies and history. Seems a bit unlikely, though.

...
Yes, but the maths that looks at patterns is just another language, really. Words are clumsy at expressing particular ideas about patterns, transformations etc. so we use symbols instead. And we bother with all that because it's a means of communicating between humans, which is a social interaction. We are interested in our response to patterns because it's something we can share with each other.

Math is really special as a language, and can't be compared to others. For why this is, I can only point to a pretty lengthy argument. To sum up the thesis of the piece, it is that math is the language which nature speaks in, symbolically expressed in a way which includes logical principles.

There you are, for example, talking about how mathematical principles are universal. That is, they are valuable because they belong so broadly to society. That's where they derive their value.

But why do they belong so broadly to society? To societies which have never met? It is because mathematics is a formal expression of principles which would still exist if every single human being on the planet were dead. That's what makes it completely objective, and that's also why it's universally adopted.

So this idea of objective knowledge is just a social construction. If you think, a thousand years ago when they believed the Earth was flat and the stars drove our destiny, that was objective knowledge. In a thousand years time I imagine "objective knowledge" will be completely transformed again, and what we believe now will seem quaint and have its own name, and the new objective knowledge will temporarily be "fact".

Yes, but basic mathematical axioms remain the same. You can't just deduce that all knowledge is socially reinforced from the fact that many ideas change over time.

)
I'm scared now that I don't know what math(s) is. It's very possible that I don't. I've always seen math as a procedure, and axioms as assumptions. For example, at the beginning of a proof, you'll put the axioms: X is a two-by-two matrix (or something), and the axiom becomes true for duration of the procedure. The axiom itself doesn't need to be proven one way or the other. I remember my father explaining religion to me in those terms. That god is an axiom, which is not questioned, but if you want to continue the procedure (Christianity), you accept it as true. Otherwise, not.

But this is how I see any "truth". You can accept it or not. And occasionally, you can look at the evidence for accepting it. As people do with those endless discussions about whether god exists or not. Far more important is the procedure. And, in the case of religion, what are the consequences of accepting the existence of god?

In terms of math, you say that the procedure works, therefore it has value. Quite. But this is a different thing entirely from whether or not it is true. Is its truth even relevant? I don't know. Like I say, I might be understanding the whole thing in the wrong way.

Here's how I think about math: it's a nested, symbolic expression of tautologies which forms a structured language.

Say you have two oranges, and I have three, and you give yours to me. I now have five. If we express this in the most primitive system, it comes out like this: II + III = IIIII. This is incontrovertible; you can't find a situation where an orange just pops out of thin air or vanishes during the transaction. But we work with big quantities, and things get hairy, so we simplify things. V=IIIII, X=VV=IIIIIIIIII, C=XXXXX=VVVVVVVVVV. The Arabs simplified things even further, to a decimal system, and things were even easier to work with. Then we did the same with operations. II+II+II+II=IIIIIIII, or 2+2+2+2=8 is simplified to 2x4=8. Things are substituted and simplified like this all the way up to calculus, and we observe certain rules which are always true, but it can all always be related back to the oranges, or to distances, or to some other unchanging aspect of nature which isn't reliant on humans to be true. In this way the language is governed by reality itself, and not any sort of social custom. I guess solipsists could deny the objectivity of math, but I don't see how else it can be denied.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
rross
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6/23/2013 11:44:54 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/23/2013 11:36:00 PM, wrichcirw wrote:

Most of the hard sciences make no claim to "truth". "Fact" is what it is because it is verifiable.

Well, exactly. "Verifiable", means an accepted process, a social standard.

Regardless, I don't see how one is relevant to the other (i.e. societal "truths" and
hard scientific "fact").

Are you trying to say there's a difference?
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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6/23/2013 11:47:11 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/23/2013 11:40:53 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 6/23/2013 10:23:22 PM, rross wrote:

Here's how I think about math: it's a nested, symbolic expression of tautologies which forms a structured language.

Say you have two oranges, and I have three, and you give yours to me. I now have five. If we express this in the most primitive system, it comes out like this: II + III = IIIII. This is incontrovertible; you can't find a situation where an orange just pops out of thin air or vanishes during the transaction. But we work with big quantities, and things get hairy, so we simplify things. V=IIIII, X=VV=IIIIIIIIII, C=XXXXX=VVVVVVVVVV. The Arabs simplified things even further, to a decimal system, and things were even easier to work with. Then we did the same with operations. II+II+II+II=IIIIIIII, or 2+2+2+2=8 is simplified to 2x4=8. Things are substituted and simplified like this all the way up to calculus, and we observe certain rules which are always true, but it can all always be related back to the oranges, or to distances, or to some other unchanging aspect of nature which isn't reliant on humans to be true. In this way the language is governed by reality itself, and not any sort of social custom. I guess solipsists could deny the objectivity of math, but I don't see how else it can be denied.

What I find somewhat strange about rross's reasoning (from what I can tell) is that she assumes there is nothing outside of what humans consider to be true. I would say I have to be misunderstanding her, but everything she says tends to corroborate such a viewpoint, which I find to be prima facie absolutely absurd.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
wrichcirw
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6/23/2013 11:48:03 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/23/2013 11:44:54 PM, rross wrote:
At 6/23/2013 11:36:00 PM, wrichcirw wrote:

Most of the hard sciences make no claim to "truth". "Fact" is what it is because it is verifiable.

Well, exactly. "Verifiable", means an accepted process, a social standard.

Again, what makes it a "social" standard?

Regardless, I don't see how one is relevant to the other (i.e. societal "truths" and
hard scientific "fact").

Are you trying to say there's a difference?

Of course there is a difference. There is a reality outside of human conception of reality.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?