Thursday, 27 October 2011

HCJ - Lecture 3 - "We hold these truths to be self evident"

During this weeks HCJ lecture we discussed Frege, Nietzsche, Marx and Freud. We began with Frege and discussed his notion of logic. Frege believed that individual propositions have no meaning, so the example given in the lecture was that 'Socrates is a man', does not work in Frege's logic, but it would only make sense in respect to other propositions. From what I can make of this confusing subject it is apparent that Frege can only understand a sentence in logic if it contains a sense (a proposition) and a reference (a truth value), or that the proposition only has a meaning in respect to other propositions. So perhaps something that would make sense to Frege would be that 'Socrates is a man, if he is not a woman'.

During the enlightenment period it was a struggle for knowledge and to find out what individual things meant, and there was a constant battle to find out the truths of the World they lived in. So people like Hume and Kant went about there way to find out what things like words meant to us, and they came up with the theory that words only had one meaning and that a sentence could only mean one thing. Moving in the Romantic period, Frege totally dismisses this idea and we can see why by looking at this sentence:

'I thought she was his wife' - As explained in the lecture, we can put different emphasis on different parts of the sentence or on different words to make the sentence seem different. For example: 'I thought SHE was his wife', thinking that his wife was someone else, or. 'I THOUGHT she was his wife' maybe it is not his wife, but perhaps it is his bit-on-the-side?

Subjectivist epistemology - there is no universal truth, only subjective impressions of relative value. This is something that Marx, Nietzsche and Freud would agree with and again rejects the enlightenment beliefs that there is a universal truth. So an objectivist (opposite to subjectivist) would believe that once he is dead, the World would still exist and carry on without them, whereas a subjectivist would believe that the World would no longer be there if they were to die. A subjectivist would need reasoning and logic in order to believe in something and see it as wholly true and that the truth of something depends on you as a person and your perspective. This once again rejects the enlightenment that there is only one truth. So for example if I can see from my perspective that Manchester United are the greatest football team in the World, and from my perspective I believe it to be true, because they have won numerous honours and have the greatest manager of all time, does not mean that someone else may believe Manchester City are the greatest football team of all time because they recently defeated United. In a subjectivist opinion, both would be right, as both have valid perspective, but both opinions mean that there is no universal truth.

'Ruling ideas is every epoch and the ideas of the ruling class' is something that lives on from Marx. This is the notion that everything that we believe in, and the 'norms' of everyday stem from the ruling ideas of the majorities opinion and perspective. So this again ties in with the subjectivist view. For example in some parts of the world it is religion or normal to take part in cannibalism, whereas in most it is seen as 'taboo'. This comes under the term of 'anthropology' which is a theory of Frederick Engles. He believed that all values are different as are the ruling bodies systems of morality. A criticism of Freud is that he lacked anthropological perspective which made him less of a subjectivist. We are shown this in his case study 'Dora' where he does not show that there can be a no connection between sex and reproduction.

During the lecture we were given three sentences and asked to try and explain them and try and understand the sentential logic:

1) The evening star is the same as the morning star
I couldn't think of anything for this one, but after some research it seems as if it has a lot to do with astronomy and that Venus is seen as a morning and evening star as it is the closest 'star' to the Sun. Saying this, in relation to Frege, it seems as though he has some sort of formula to determine what this actually means. So he believes a=a and a=b but you can see with inspection that 'a' in fact equals 'a', whereas a=b has to be examined in respect to what it is we are discussing and what 'a' and 'b' represent. In this case I will say Wayne Rooney (a) = Michael Owen (b). We can not see from simple inspection whether this is true but if we say a=a (Wayne Rooney = Wayne Rooney), we can see from simple inspection that this is true, but it will take a lot more than simple inspection to determine whether or not Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen are the same. In the context of the evening star and the morning star, with the evening star representing 'a', and morning star 'b', it would take some astronomical review to determine if they are in fact the same thing, whereas we can see with simple inspection that the morning star is the same as the morning star.
2) The present King of France is not bald
The first thing that came to mind when this sentence was shown was that there may not be any King of France at the time. So to say that the King of France is bald is neither true nor false as the whole statement is incorrect. So it would be similar to saying The country of 'Manc-land' is the richest in the World, when in fact no such country exists so it can not be true, but in the same respect it may so be that it is the richest, but how would we know if it does not exist? So is the statement true, false or meaningless? It is not true because there is no current King of France so how can he be bald, secondly it can not be false because saying it is false means that he has indeed got hair, which again means there is a King of France, which there is not. So this means that the sentence must therefore be meaningless; but how can the statement be meaningless if it is something we can understand and interpret?
3) There was nobody on the road
From what Chris said in the lecture I can get that what is meant from this sentence is that if nobody was on the road, there had to be someone on the road, for 'nobody' IS 'somebody'. So what would need to be said to understand the sentence or to make the sentence have meaning would be something like: For this given moment, in this given World on any given road there is not anyone on them. Or something along those lines!

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