Dialetheic Logic and Reality

It’s too late for me to digest this piece on Graham Priest’s Radical Dialetheic Logic and Reality, but I’m interested enough to bookmark it here.

The word dialetheism comes from the Greek δι (di- ‘twice’) and ἀλήθεια (alḗtheia ‘truth’). It’s the view that there are some statements which are both true and false. In other words, it’s the view that there can be a true statement whose negation is also true. In the literature, these statements are called “true contradictions” or (to use Graham Priest’s neologism) dialetheia.

Paul Austin Murphy

Fais dodo


Being in a band is hard. It’s like being married to a bunch of partners, and if you are a band and not just some cat with some supporting characters, you’ve got artistic differences to consider. This is where I soured on direct democracy.

Slotrocket is the name of one of the bands I performed with. We played under this name exactly once, but let’s rewind to the democracy bits.

Skipping a lot of the details, I played bass in this line-up. It was a 3-piece with a focus on alt-post-grunge-nu-metal, but we all came from different places musically. The drummer came from speed metal, death metal, and maths rock. The guitarist-vocalist came from Classic Rock, Grunge and Nu-Metal. I came from all sorts of places, but I wanted to focus this project on the post-grunge thing. For the uninitiated, this is the likes of Seether, Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin and so on.

We didn’t have a name. Since we only played with friends and at parties and sometimes provided the backing for live karaoke, it was just us. We did arrive at the name of Breached, but it turned out that a Canadian band was already calling dibs on that, so we just let it slide—especially when they released an EP in the vein of early Incubus.

But then the guitarist-vocalist didn’t want to hold both roles. Too much effort. He didn’t care which. In the end, they found a female singer who was interested. It seems that there was a mixup in communication. They asked if I minded if she joined us during our next rehearsal. I figured it was just another live karaoke session, so when I said yes, it turns out that she was now a member of the band. Truth be told, I didn’t think a female would cop the vibe I was seeking. She was no Lacy Sturm or Amy Lee. She didn’t know any grunge material as she was more of a Country gal. But that’s not the story.

The story is the name. We deliberated for well over a month to settle on a name. We decided to create a spreadsheet. We’d all force rank the entries. And each of us had infinite veto votes to kill an offending entry from the list.

Skipping ahead a few chapters, I liked Rapeseed. It was a benign word that sounded edgy. The boys were fine with it. Notsomuch, the girl. There was no particular rush until we booked a gig—the gig. We’d need a name to promote.

I came up with Slotrocket. Again the boys were fine with it; her notsomuch. However, she didn’t veto—later claiming that she didn’t think we could possibly be serious. Since I booked the date and created the adverts, everything seemed to go under the radar—or under the rug.

A bit before the show, I was distributing material and advertising on our media outlets (as it were) and she caught a glimpse of the promo mats. Let’s just say that she was not amused. Still, when the time came, we performed.

OK, so I skipped over some stuff—the months of pouring over a spreadsheet. Our goal was unanimity. The name didn’t have to be everyone’s top pick, but we did need to attain a consensus view. As it happened, two of the biggest decisions came about by accident, and they both resulted in hard feelings.

It’s not that the 3 or 4 of us couldn’t have eventually come to a unanimous decision amounting to all of our first choices, but this would have taken time—and who knows how much.

One may feel justified accusing me of allowing perfection to be the enemy of the good, but that’s just something apologists tend to say, as they defend their preference for democracy.

Your Morals – Part 2 of 3

Continuing my response to Johnathan Haidt’s Moral survey…

13. I believe that one of the most important values to teach children is to have respect for authority

This is a legitimate question without subtext. I happen to disagree with it, but at least it’s legit. Children should not only be taught to question authority, they should question the structure that perpetuates authority.

14. It makes me happy when people are recognized on their merits

dot dot dot … Let’s not retread in the nonsensical space that is meritocracy. Next…

15. I think people should be rewarded in proportion to what they contribute

smh … Next…

16. It upsets me when people use foul language like it is nothing

Sadly, this is another legitimate question. Language is language. If someone feels that some language is out of bounds—and this as well extends to the proponents of PC speech—then this is more a reflection of their repression than anything more. Liam Gallagher FTW

17. Our society would have fewer problems if people had the same income

Not another money-based economy question. I’ll leave it at ‘Our society would have fewer problems is people had no necessity for income’.

18. It pains me when I see someone ignoring the needs of another human being

I suppose it does, but given the ubiquity of this as well as the contrary situation, what’s one to do. On balance, this can either be a disconnected or misguided government or an apathetic person. Needs is a weasel word, but I’ll let it slide.

19. It upsets me when people have no loyalty to their country

Eyeroll, please. TF is loyalty anyway? And where’s the reciprocity? I think I’m on to something. Obviously, someone who fetishises a country has pathological issues. I’m not sure what the scale differential is between country fetishists and sports fans, but I’ll move along. Now you know what does upset me.

20. I am empathetic toward those people who have suffered in their lives

Sure. Sympathetic, perhaps even compassionate. Another vapid question. Each of these is contingent on what suffering is perceived.

21. Everyone should love their own community

Define community. Define love. Should? Is this my imposition? Everyone? What is this sorcery? Next…

22. I believe that compassion for those who are suffering is one of the most crucial virtues

Here we go with virtues again—more tripe about relative goodness and badness. Translation: I believe that being good is good. According to Google, compassion is sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others; sympathy is feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune; pity is the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others; therefore, compassion is [feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune] [with the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others] and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. This is some recursive word salad if I’ve even seen it.

23. We should all care for people who are in emotional pain

More shoulds and alls and care and pain with a dash of emotional.

Maybe I'm too emotional*
But your apathy is like a wound in salt
Maybe I'm too emotional
Or maybe you never cared at all
Maybe I'm too emotional
Your apathy is like a wound in salt
Maybe I'm too emotional
Or maybe you never cared at all

24. I think having a strong leader is good for society

I think that having a strong leader is good in some cases…for some members of society. As with benevolent dictators, leaders can be beneficial, if there is a common cause. Oftentimes, the common cause is a contrived narrative, leading in a direction, which may or may not resolve in a better place for some—never all, and what about the rest? This is a role of society.

* Good 4 You — Daniel Leonard Nigro / Olivia Rodrigo / Hayley Williams / Josh Farro

We’re All Conservatives These Days

I’ve always taken the Libertarian Political Compass to be a bit interesting, like fortune cookies and tarot readings. Along with other tests like MBTI and IQ tests, it feels like it might be useful. In fact, it is. It facilitates signals tribal affiliation. Whenever I take the test, I always trend to the lower-left corner, so I can smugly reaffirm my Leftist leanings—if you interpret leanings as up against the wall and on the floor.

When I commented on a forum that I felt that (presuming the X-Y axes of this scale without even mentioning it) Liberals and Conservatives in the United States are each Right of Centre and Conservative—they just want to Conserve different things, someone replied with a link to this video by Halim Alrah. Whilst I won’t comment on his class materialism claim—at least not now—, I do feel it makes me not only double down on my claim but to toss more into the Conservative bucket list.

Besides noting that each aspect is defined in the abstract, he tacitly makes a point with which I agree: all professional and most amateur politics are Conservative: Conservatives want to conserve the 1950s; Liberals want to conserve the 1960s and some of the 1930s and ’40s; Leftist Marxists want to conserve the missed opportunities of the 19-teens, and I suppose the Progressives want to conserve the 19-teens as well. Bully!

all professional and most amateur politics are Conservative

Politics are inherently backwards-looking and fraught with appeals to tradition, each cherry-picking which traditional narrative fits their bill whilst suffering from selective blindness in areas that didn’t quite work out or fit the narrative. Or they want to cash in a mulligan and try again. Or they feel with 20/20 hindsight, they can Groundhog Day the hell out of it. In some hundreds of generations, we’ll be bound to get it right. Even Libertarians and Anarchists cling to ideas of the past. As I’ve mentioned before, I am an anarchosyndicalist, and though that has never been instantiated to scale, it is nonetheless an idea almost two hundred years old. Hardly novel.

I am not a traditionalist, but neither I am not claiming that every tradition is rubbish. But what worked in the past may not actually work in the present or in the future. As the title of a book that I am fond of reminds us, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, so these political armchair quarterbacks are operating on bad assumptions. All are operating on nostalgia and historical reconstructions of what might have been. Perhaps they excel at Risk or Sid Meyer’s Civilisation. Whatever the mindset, it’s taking a rearview mirrored approach.

So, what’s in a name anyway? If Conservatism doesn’t denote anything and only connotes a bunch of old white guys as a synonym for Tories in the UK and Republicans in the US; and where the Republicans and Democrats could both merge into a single Oligarchy Party (or Kleptocratic Party depending on one’s mood)?

In the end, we need a new way to describe the political sphere if we wish to promote discussion and build alliances, but perhaps that’s never been the goal.

Karl Popper and I Are in Disagreement

Whilst Popper is correct in saying that you may (seemingly) resolve conflicts if you ignore definition alignment and go with a subjective approach. Just assume you are talking about the same thing and find accord. This is problematic because once instantiated, it will be realised that there was no common centre, and so the next round commences.

In some ways this comports with my language insufficiency postion—these terms are undefinable, so waiting for full agreement will require an infinite amount of time—, but pretending that one can ignore this step is fool’s play.

One approach might be to atomise a concept such as justice, thereby attempting to resolve a portion, but I’ll posit that this atomic approach will yield protons, neutron, electron, and then quarks and subatomic particles and quantum strangeness, so all we’ve managed is to kick the can down the road.

The best this attempt at a pragmatic approach yields is a pregnant pause, but it won’t remain resolved. It’s easy to blame the instability on the dynamism of society—and this does likely exascerbate the issue—, but this issue is inherently unstable at the start. Like an isotope, it’s just ready for any disturbance.

Compatible with Compatibilism?

Full Disclosure: I consider myself to be a determinist. I looked for something like Dawkins’ spectrum of theistic probability to evaluate where one might be oriented on a scale of free will to determinism to fatalism whilst also considering compatibilism.

Dawkins’ spectrum of theistic probability

Let’s lay some groundwork by establishing some definitions from most constrained to least:

  • Fatalism : a doctrine that events are fixed in advance so that human beings are powerless to change them
  • Compatibilism : a doctrine that maintains that determinism is compatible with free will
  • Determinism : a theory or doctrine that acts of the will, occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws
  • Freewill : freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention

It seems that freewill and fatalism are bookends with compatibilism attempting to moderate or synthesise freewill and deteminism. But it also seems that one’s selection may be contexual. Ultimately, this argument is fraught with semantic challenges insomuch as some underlying concepts are yet unresolved.

Crash Course Philosophy does provides a nice summary of the challenges in defending even compatibilist positions away from detemininism and even fatalism.

As this video notes, our choices may appear to be free, but it doesn’t take much effort to perform a 5-whys investigation to remove anything but homoeopathic amounts of agency.

Taking a short example, let’s look at the cases of the trial judges mentioned by Sapolsky (Behave) and Kahneman (Noise). Given all of the factors entering into sentences, prior offences, sex or gender of either the defendant or the judge, education, income, and so on, but far the largest factor in determining the length or severity of a sentence was the time between the sentencing and the judge’s last meal—effectively their blood glucose levels.

Some may argue that this is a short interval, but behaviourists would argue that a person now is a culmination of all of their experiences to date. That the decision of the so-called criminal to rob the liquor store (going for the stereotype here) was not the result of low blood sugar. This may be true, but there is still an unbroken chain of confluent events that brought them to that place.

From a culpabilty perspective, even absent true agency, the offender should still be incarcerated or whatever to prevent this behaviour from repeating. Of course, if you believe in rehabilitation, you are necessarily a behaviourist in soem shape or form: the idea is to effectively repattern experience impressions. The other problem is one of probability. That you did X once, are you lilkey to do it again? If not, then there is no further risk to society, as it were. Given the probability of recitivism—and some argue that mass incarceration increases the probability or attempting criminal actions post-release—, is this even an effective deterence? It’s time to get out of the rabbit hole.

From my position, it is impossible to reconcile experience and freewill. The best you can argue is that one is free in the moment—like some strange improv exercise, where you are shown a film that stops abrutly, and you are instructed to act out the remainder of the scene. Is this free, or is this extrapolating on your experience.

Skipping to fatalism, how probable is it that absolutely everything is determined. Reality is just a film we are both in and observing or experiencing, but all of it is already laid down. We are just unawares. Every strange plot twist and early exit was not only already scripted, but it’s already been captured. There is no room for improvisation or flubbed lines. There is no opportunity to go off-script. Even these words are predestined. Even unpublished thoughts were not meant to be published.

There is no way to test this sort of system from inside the system, and there is no way to get a vantage above it, so here we are.

The notion of determinism affords humans some modicum of agency, perhaps akin to one part in a trillion trillions. Practically, we are taking credit for a butterfly effect—and punishing for this degree of freedom. As Sapolsky has noted, most instances of perceived agency are trivial. We can ‘instruct’ finger movement with our brain. Ostensibly, we think: move finger; bend; point; stop. And even so, what was the cause of the thought to move the finger? Was there truly a non-causal event?

Cognotive dissonance ensures that we can’t allow ourselves to be NPCs or automotons. We have to omuch hubris for that. We must have some free will. Some religions say we not only have agency here in this life but that we chose the life to begin with. Even so, we’ve not seen the script in advance; we’ve merely chosen which lessons we want learnt.

So what about compatibilism? Sort of, who cares? Whilst I can define some interstitial state between free will and determinism, it seems that it would not be even tempered or would otherwise skew heavily toward determinism.

What keeps me from being a hard determinist is that I hold out hope for statistics, chaos, and stochasticism. One might argue in return, that these, too, are determined; we just don’t see the underlying connection. And that’s my cognitive cross to bear.

To be fair, it seems that the notion of free will or even compatibilism are secondary, let’s say, reactions to the need for culpability, for moral responsibility. Societies are built upon these notions, as are legal systems. Necessary ingredients to invent are:

  • ‘Individual’
  • Agency and Volition
  • Choice, Motivation, and Intent
  • Responsibilty and Blame

None of these actually exist, so they need to be invented and constructed in order to associate self-control to actions. In fact, we have insanity escape clauses to recognise that there are cases where control is lost, whether temporarily or permanently, or never had in the first place for any number of ‘reasons’. At core, these attributes are necessary to exert power in a society. The next goal is to convince the actors or subjects that these things are ‘real enough’— as the saying goes, ‘good enough for the government’.

Even if we accept these things at face value, the interpretation and processing of these are different animals still. The notion of Will itself is likely speceous or another fabricated notion. Perhaps, I’ll address Will on another day. Probably not, as all of this is distracting me from my language insufficiency work.

When I think about free will, it is foisted on humanity in the same manner as gods and religion. With gods, we have been defending against theism for millennia. The gods fetish and free will are inextricably linked. As with the chicken and egg connundrum, the question is whach came first. Is God a reaction to fee will, or is it the other way around. Did we create free will to allow for responsibility and then fabricate Supreme busy bodies to act as ultimate judges? Or did we create the gods and build out the myth of free will to accommodate punishment of deviant behaviour. Or are these just parallel constructions? Enquiring minds want to know.

The futility of words

“Solitude is for me a fount of healing which makes my life worth living. Talking is often torment for me, and I need many days of silence to recover from the futility of words.”

— Carl Jung

My research into the insufficiency of language yields some nice results. Thank you Google.

To Gustav Schmaltz
30 May 1957
Dear Schmaltz:

I understand your wish very well, but I must tell you at once that it does not fit in my with my situation. I am not getting on at 82 and feel not only the weight of my years and the tiredness this brings, but even more strongly, the need to live in harmony with the inner demands of my old age. Solitude is for me a fount of healing which makes my life worth living. Talking is often torment for me, and I need many days of silence to recover from the futility of words. I have got my marching orders and only look back when there is nothing else to do. The journey is a great adventure in itself, but not one that can be talked about at great length. What you think of as a few days of spiritual communion would be unendurable for me with anyone, even my closest friends. The rest is silence! This realization comes clearer every day, as the need to communicate dwindles.

Naturally, I would be glad to see you for one afternoon for about two hours, preferably in Kusnacht, my door to the world. Around August 5 would suit me best, as I shall be home at then in any case. Meanwhile, with best greetings,

Yours ever,

I need many days of silence to recover from the futility of words

Carl Jung

Clearly, the main theme here is solitute and slience, but I keyed in on the futility quote.

Why the world does not exist

Markus Gabriel was brought to my attention, and I immediately thought of Lance at The Dog Walks.

In essence, part of his argument touches on the insufficiency of language, but his key rationale for this claim is anchored arount Kant and set theory. He published a book by the same name on this topic in 2015. This TedX talk is from 2013. I haven’t read it and am unlikely to do so in the near term, but it might be interesting if it expands upon the notion presented here.

Language Primacy: Cognition or Communication

As I am busy researching, this will likely be short. It would be even shorter without this preamble.

In researching the literature for my insufficiciency of language hypothesis, I am reading Fodor and Reboul to try to better grasp the evolutionary function of language. Both rely on the Theory of Mind. It seems that the more accepted theory is the language primarily evolved for communication as a survival mechanism. However, Fodor defends that cognition was the primary function and communicated was exapted. Carruthers contributes to the Language of Thought domain.

As I’ve presented here in dribs and drabs, my insufficiency theory of language argues that language is ill-suited for the communication of abstract concepts. It is fine for expression; communication of situational objects, inventions, and motion, description; and argumentation. But imagined concepts such as fairness, justive, and freedom don’t hold water. As I’ve discussed this hertofore in detail, I’ll not repeat myself.

Confirmation bias notwithstanding, the primacy of cognition better explains why abstract conceptual communication so often fails. Language has been stretched beyond its boundary constraints, and the air is thin past that.

I’m not sure I am willing to choose a side quite yet. Rather, I’ll note the different perspectives and move on. The underlying mechanism is less important to me than the empirical deductions that follow.

Gender Constructs

I’ve been following Philosophy Tube since Abigail was Ollie. Always top-notch material. Their content has gotten longer over time, so I’ve found myself skipping over in favour of shorter presentations. I am so glad to have decided to watch this one.

As anyone who follows me knows, I am a big advocate of social construct theory, yet I learned so much in this vid, which is proper well-cited AF. Lot’s of new content to add to my backlog, so I’ve got more than enough reading material for my next few incarnations at least.

The biggest takeaway for me is the notion that not only is gender a social construct, but so is sex itself. Previously, I have defended the sex-gender distinction, but in fact, scientific taxonomies are still social constructs—only in the scientific community rather than the greater community at large.

Abigail’s platypus drives home the point. Not that it’s some big reveal. Another less poignient analogy is fruit and vegetable classification. Tomatoes are fruits. Mellons—watermellons, pumpkins, and so on—are fruits. Say it ain’t so.

Give it a viewing and like or comment here and/or there.