Re: Things You Really Need to Learn

Hiya Pandora,

One of the benefits of extending my own education is that I am well-versed in Pierce and the process you describe as 'abduction'. These days the principle is known as 'inference to the best explanation', some of the mechanics of which are described in some others of my works cited here, including the guide to the logical fallacies. Understanding the principles of education falls under section 3, distinguishing truth from fiction, and from your remarks I judge (by abduction) that you did not follow the references to see what I said on the subject.

The sticky language problem you describe ('the sentence above is false') is known more generally as the "liar's paradox" - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liar_paradox - and has been the subject of philoisophical disputes over the years. In the 20th century, probably the most important attempt to resolve the liar's paradox was through the development of meta-language, which distinguishes between the reference of a sentence, and the sentence itself. But really, the paradox is never resolved, and this results in Godel's incompleteness theorem. So we understand (I would say) that no language can prove the truth of its own statements.

It's important to learn logic, but not to be seduced by it (that applies to the learning of language and of mathematics as well, which are extensions of the same system). That's why I say things like "Do not simply accept what you are told. Always ask, how can you know that this is true? What evidence would lead you to believe that it is false?", and in 'Principles for Evaluating Websites', I say explicitly that people should trust their own knowledge and experience.

None of this goes to show that empathy doesn't work - and in fact it all argues *against* the idea that "we all share values, attitudes, and beliefs which keep us together." Empathy is important, I think, because we cannot simply assume that people talk, think and act like you do. They're different, and understanding that difference requires *feeling* that difference (because the cognitive awareness of that is, again, subject to the incompleteness theorem - we can't know intellectually, we have to try to feel, and ground our own understanding in experience).

All of that said - these are hard questions, and in raising them and working on them and posing them against my own analysis, you are doing exactly the right thing, and exactly what I would want any person to learn how to do, and feel able and entitled to do. [Comment] [Permalink]