An English In Kentucky


















Thursday April 18th 2019Tim Candler9


    In the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's Logical Positivism was a newish way of saying to hell with the Ancient Greeks from the Foot of Italy, German Idealism, phenomenology and metaphysics, it's not getting us anywhere, what we have to do is think sensibly about what we know about the world and how we can make that knowing more accurate and as a result more useful, constructive and so on. The likes of Bertrand Russell not only saw this as a necessity but they reckoned it was entirely possible through logical and scientific verification and they put great effort into tearing down the arguments of the Idealists, who in general had reached the point where thinking about stuff was almost completely outside living the day to day life, their interest was the grand scheme, the great theory, a magnificent edifice from off the top of a cloud, and yet it was edifice that accepted brutality, war and horrible cruelty between us people because that was the way things were, and the good news for everyone it was all going somewhere that was on the one hand kind of inevitable and on the other hand kind of good in the sense the whole thing was taking care of itself, not much we tenured professors or our devoted pupils can do about it, not really our section.   



      More recently, the faith Logical Positivists placed in science and logic was modified a little by the understanding that there were areas in logic that couldn't do away with all the subjective stuff that obsessed Idealists, and they decided to call themselves Logical Empiricists. The difference is, Logical Empiricists accepted the element of subjectivity, but they reckoned the scientific methods of math, science, logic and so on while subject to distractions of idealism, nonetheless had a higher degree of accuracy than just saying it's all in the mind. And here the beast in the distant forest for the positivists is a man called Parmenides, he was a Foot of Italy Greek, a former student of Pythagoras. Pythagoras has, amongst many other things, the title "First True Mathematician." The sum of the squares of the lengths of the sides of a right angle are equal to the square of the hypotenuse. It's an amazing idea, quite mind blowing, and here on earth at least if you can do the math it's always true, and you can understand why it was kind of like magic to those who first experienced the calculation, and try as some might of done they couldn't show Pythagoras was mistaken about the hypotenuse. It was Parmenides who reckoned that all we could know existed in the mind, what lay outside the mind didn't exist, if you're mind forgot something, it didn't exist. Far too uncomfortable an idea, easy to dismiss Parmenides, but in my view it's an error to do so.


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