Thursday, November 29, 2012

432: The Art Not to be an Egoist 7

Surveying the ideas, which were presented to you in the past few lectures, I really dare to say that we have made real progress.

Our central question is whether morality is a part of human nature or not. And related to that question we wonder how morality works.

We all want to be good and yet we do bad things now and then, small ones and big ones. What to think about that?

At least we learnt that something like an absolute Good like Plato suggested, does not exist. On the other hand neither are we amoral, selfish beasts, like Hobbes suggested.

That ethics is just a thin layer of culture which Herder or Lorenz thought isn't probable either. The cooperative nature of all kinds of animals and the human being too, as Kropotkin had observed, seems to contradict that.

It is interesting to see how this balancing between individualism and collectivism through history also expresses itself in our political systems.

On the one hand we see extreme individualism in liberalism, when you think of the ideas of Ayn Rand, on the other hand extreme collectivism, which we have seen in communist countries.

And all this as an answer to the question: what is the essence of human nature? Fascinating. So, let us continue our quest.

Contrary to all other animals, we have one great tool to communicate this subject: our language. But why are we debating on ethics? Why can't we get a clear and unambiguous theory on good and bad?

Why didn't man succeed in developing a language with words for everything? Why is our language not that accurate? 

A philosopher who was pretty annoyed by these questions was Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 - 1951). He spent a lot of effort on cleaning up language and attemptinh to remove ambiguities. He gave up.

In the period 1922 - 1936 a whole group of philosophers struggled with the ambiguity and inaccuracy of language: The Vienna Circle was the name of the group.

Logical analysis is the method of clarification of philosophical problems; it makes an extensive use of symbolic logic. The task of philosophy lies in the clarification—through the method of logical analysis—of problems and assertions, was their point of view.

In spite of the development of a number of logical languages, they never succeeded in developing the desired precision language. Why didn't they succeed?

One reason may be that we don't need such a precision language in our daily life. If we would need such a language , it would be in sciences.

The basic goal of the Vienna Circle was to have a language, in which every statement unambiguously describes an observable state of affairs in reality, a kind of one on one relation.

But reality isn't so unambiguous. I can perfectly describe a molecule, but when asked to describe friendship or love, trying to capture those concepts in words, we have a problem.

And what happens, when I try to translate my words into another language? In German you have the word "Bewustsein", but in English you can use "consciousness" or "awareness" to translate it. Two words for one !?!

The goal of the Vienna Circle was to put an end to the eternal discussion on truth. And this truth had to be 100% empirically established by means of an unambiguous language.

Then why did mankind only came up with this plan in 1922? Why had it not been working on it in the past 60.000 years for instance?

The answer to this question could be surprisingly simple: language was never invented to be an instrument of truth. The problem of truth was in human evolution not its first and most important problem.

Communication in a group is in the first place focused on understanding each other. Understanding in the sense of knowing what the other means and in the second place grasping intentions and expectations of other group members.

To be continued next Thursday...

The Discussion

[13:29:05] Debbie Dee (framdor): thanks herman
[13:29:11] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and all very involved
[13:29:17] Kime Babenco: Thanks Herman
[13:29:22] seekerp: thank u
[13:29:35] Mouse Moorlord (mouse.moorlord): thank you
[13:29:41] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): thanks herman
[13:29:43] Vadaman: Thank you.
[13:29:45] herman Bergson: Ohh..I forgot to mention a new gadget...
[13:29:51] Debbie Dee (framdor): Logic fails because things we experience are on a continuous scale, not on or off.
[13:29:54] Debbie Dee (framdor): ?
[13:30:10] herman Bergson: Next time...:-)
[13:30:19] Bejiita Imako: new gadget?
[13:30:24] herman Bergson: Logic is good for science...
[13:30:41] herman Bergson: and for decent argumentations...
[13:30:51] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): but difficult in communicating every minute
[13:31:01] Debbie Dee (framdor): Yes provided the question is well defined.
[13:31:11] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:31:43] herman Bergson: The funny thing is that mankind never invented language for truth finishing or science in the first place....
[13:31:58] Debbie Dee (framdor): you can ask " is it red" and get many opinions, for example. And what of love? how much?
[13:32:24] herman Bergson: Eventually philosophical questions arose....but that was only after 60.0000 years
[13:32:34] herman Bergson: - 0
[13:32:58] Debbie Dee (framdor): Its hard to be philosophical when you are just surviving I imagine.
[13:33:14] herman Bergson: That is the point Debbie....
[13:33:25] Bejiita Imako: hmm that might be true indeed
[13:33:28] Kime Babenco: Last Ice Age ended 12 000 BP and lasted 90 000 years...
[13:33:39] herman Bergson: Does someone know the novel of Jean Auel... The clan of the Cave Bear?
[13:33:53] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:34:05] Debbie Dee (framdor): Its once co-operation led to free time that philosophy emerged?
[13:34:09] Debbie Dee (framdor): yes
[13:34:11] herman Bergson: In that novel she describes two kinds of people....
[13:34:14] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes:)
[13:34:31] herman Bergson: The clan...more or less neaderthalers I guess
[13:34:49] herman Bergson: and the homo spiens...Cro-magnon I guess...
[13:35:06] herman Bergson: The Clan didnt use verbal language...
[13:35:17] herman Bergson: their main language was gestures...
[13:35:34] herman Bergson: while the homo sapiens used speech...
[13:35:50] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): I am always sceptic about learning from works of fiction
[13:36:04] herman Bergson: The idea is that our language developed from gestures...
[13:36:14] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): oh wow i have learned a lot from fiction
[13:36:36] herman Bergson: No Merlin her work was not fiction with respect to the facts
[13:36:44] Debbie Dee (framdor): Speech is so much more than gestures, but still based on one idea - one gesture.
[13:37:05] herman Bergson: Yes Debbie and it made me thing....
[13:37:16] herman Bergson: We make gestures while we speak...
[13:37:22] Debbie Dee (framdor):  ✧✩**✩✧ G I G G L E S ✧✩**
[13:37:22] Debbie Dee (framdor): but with adjectives to deal with the fuzzy bits between ideas -
[13:37:38] herman Bergson: You would say...yes because we want to put emphasis on our words...
[13:37:55] herman Bergson: but why should we?
[13:38:10] herman Bergson: there is no reasonable relation
[13:38:32] herman Bergson: unless you think....language and communication started with a gesture language...
[13:38:50] Debbie Dee (framdor): Communication of ideas can be multi-media, and gestures are a channel?
[13:38:55] herman Bergson: and our gesture behavior is a remnant of that prehistoric development in evolution
[13:39:08] Debbie Dee (framdor): Oh - nice extrapolation.
[13:39:13] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:39:24] Bejiita Imako: I see
[13:39:33] Bejiita Imako: hmm thats very much possible
[13:39:43] herman Bergson: I was thinking of the flat heads of Jean Auel....and their language...
[13:39:51] Kime Babenco: I have some doubts, about old histories , from more than 1500 years ago and definitely about older than 3500 years ago... No one wrote anything down at that time... It's mostly speculation I think...
[13:40:02] herman Bergson: their evolution had come to an end...
[13:40:32] herman Bergson: Of course it is speculation Kime...
[13:40:44] herman Bergson: but not blind speculation....
[13:40:55] Debbie Dee (framdor): But based on many observations
[13:41:14] herman Bergson: on the one hand we have prehistoric finds...
[13:41:42] herman Bergson: which show that people lived in groups and made arms and pottery , used fire etc.
[13:41:57] herman Bergson: on the other hand we have the primates....
[13:42:23] herman Bergson: relatives for whom evolution stopped where the homo sapiens continued
[13:42:30] herman Bergson: like chimpansees…
[13:42:53] herman Bergson: We still are guessing...of course...
[13:42:59] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): could the prehistoric man speak?..even if he wanted like apes?
[13:43:07] Debbie Dee (framdor): The Cango Caves near me have been occupied for 70 000 years by small group of bushmen. The archeoligists have been working the site for 100 years now.
[13:43:35] Debbie Dee (framdor): there is a rich diversity of information
[13:43:55] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Dawkins reminds us that we did not evolve from chimpanzees etc, but we have a common ancestor, different from either.
[13:43:58] herman Bergson: The prehistoric man had vocal cords he could make vocal apes can too nowadays
[13:44:15] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes but is it a language?
[13:44:33] herman Bergson: That is a complex question....
[13:44:49] herman Bergson: animals communicate by sounds and signs....
[13:44:58] herman Bergson: But these are fixed patterns....
[13:45:17] Debbie Dee (framdor): Doesn't your cat talk to you at dinner time?
[13:45:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate) GIGGLES!!
[13:45:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ...LOL...
[13:45:24] Bejiita Imako: yes no variation
[13:45:30] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): lol Debbie
[13:45:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): haven't a cat....
[13:45:37] herman Bergson: There must have been a moment that the homo sapiens began to vary on these fixed patterns of communication
[13:45:49] Bejiita Imako: a dogs bark for ex is just a bark, no way telling if it its happy or angry
[13:45:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): birds talk to us sometimes
[13:46:02] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): my parrot asks me for my own language
[13:46:07] Bejiita Imako: which can be dangerous in some situations
[13:46:12] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i mean in their language
[13:46:17] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): omg lol
[13:46:22] Bejiita Imako: hehee
[13:46:31] herman Bergson: I am afraid not Beertje....
[13:46:36] Debbie Dee (framdor): I think whales and dolphins and elephants all have reasonably encoded grunts to use
[13:46:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): and dogs barks do have meanings
[13:46:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): languages for whales
[13:46:58] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): not just grunts
[13:47:02] seekerp: thank u everyone very nice to meet u all
[13:47:06] herman Bergson: yes Debbie....whales seem to be true composers....never the same song....
[13:47:16] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): come thursday seekerp
[13:47:19] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): same time
[13:47:23] herman Bergson: we just don't understand them
[13:47:33] Mouse Moorlord (mouse.moorlord): thank you for that nice lessons and talk ...good bye everyone
[13:47:35] Bejiita Imako: mayee are some patterns in it but maybee hard for us to distinguish between them
[13:47:50] Merlin (merlin.saxondale): Bye to mouse
[13:47:54] Debbie Dee (framdor): bye mouse and seekerp
[13:47:55] Vadaman: Bye
[13:47:56] Bejiita Imako: whales are interesting for sure
[13:47:57] herman Bergson: By Mice
[13:47:59] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): they understand them tho
[13:48:08] Kime Babenco: Yes, probably, but did we really had to engrave on a disc what we don't understand from whales and send it with the voyager 2 ? It's always a risk to spread a message you don't know ..
[13:48:13] Bejiita Imako: rhey use some kind of patterns
[13:48:21] Oceane (oceane.madrigal): bye mouse and seekerp
[13:48:25] Debbie Dee (framdor):  ✧✩**✩✧ G I G G L E S ✧✩**
[13:48:25] Debbie Dee (framdor): Bejita, they are not talking to us...
[13:48:31] Bejiita Imako: bye mouse and seeker
[13:48:34] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): right to each other!
[13:48:53] Bejiita Imako: no but its more clear that whales use some kind of language then dogs
[13:48:58] Bejiita Imako: at least for me
[13:49:06] herman Bergson: The thing is ..
[13:49:27] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): won't it be easier to have an universal language so we can understand each other more?
[13:49:30] herman Bergson: when consciousness kicked in language became a much more richer tool of communication...
[13:49:49] herman Bergson: The Esperanto idea Beertje?
[13:49:54] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:49:56] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes for instance
[13:50:02] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): or dutch:)))
[13:50:07] Debbie Dee (framdor): whats happened to esperanto?
[13:50:07] herman Bergson: For some reason a complete failure
[13:50:12] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): doesn't catch on tho
[13:50:16] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Yes-ah!
[13:50:17] Kime Babenco: People can not even agree about one device of paying...
[13:50:28] Vadaman: Is there still people who know esperanto??
[13:50:28] herman Bergson: and the reason is that language is related to its cultural context...
[13:50:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): people tend too hang on to their mothers language
[13:50:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): as you see with immigrants first generation
[13:50:53] Bejiita Imako: yes it have been hard coded in the brain seems like
[13:50:54] herman Bergson: Like the Vienna Circle thought it could develop the universal language of science...
[13:50:56] Bejiita Imako: hard to chenge
[13:50:57] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): no one understands my mothers language..not even the dutch:0
[13:51:03] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): WaaaHaHAhahAHA! AhhhhHAhahhAHhahHAH! haha!
[13:51:07] Debbie Dee (framdor):  ✧✩**✩✧ G I G G L E S ✧✩**
[13:51:09] Bejiita Imako: hahahahaha
[13:51:12] herman Bergson: so did think the people who believed in Esperanto
[13:51:36] Kime Babenco: Yes indeed... In Social Geography ... it was declared of being partof a specific group..; a unity...
[13:51:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Oliedegalliedenalliíenok?
[13:52:04] Bejiita Imako: what?
[13:52:06] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:52:14] herman Bergson: You could say that Beertje...:-)
[13:52:21] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :)giggles
[13:52:26] herman Bergson: But can we all agree to that? ^_^
[13:52:38] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i don't know:) depends...
[13:52:47] Debbie Dee (framdor): I will ;)
[13:53:03] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): not me
[13:53:14] herman Bergson: Well..we can vote on it..^_^
[13:53:24] herman Bergson: Anyway….
[13:53:36] herman Bergson: thank you all for your participation again...
[13:53:41] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:53:46] herman Bergson: it was a nice class as usual :-)
[13:53:46] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): see you thursday
[13:53:51] Bejiita Imako: another interesting event
[13:53:53] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i hope
[13:53:54] Debbie Dee (framdor): Great lecture thanks herman...
[13:53:56] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...^_^
[13:54:06] Bejiita Imako: cu soon all

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