Monday, May 01, 2006

. . . another hour deeper in the night

Here we have a continuation of this post.

At the end, I mentioned a third epistemological concept. I also asked where that concept appeared in the paragraph that began "So, what exactly is the path. . ."

Here's my answer. Of all that paragraph, only this sentence is an empirical conclusion: "Even Buddhists develop complicated metaphysics."

The rest of the paragraph is a series of statements about the relationships between a broad range of conclusions (after finishing this post, I realized the sentence "I think it is an easily observable human trait - an empirical conclusion" isn't actually a conclusion). I'll use the word judgment for this.

We observe facts A, B and C. Photos of Washington DC, reports from people who have been there, and airlines offering flights to that location. We use these facts to form the conclusion that a city called Washington DC exists.

We can make other conclusions about Washington DC; it has a high murder rate, and many parts of it are quite poor.

Here is the danger: putting those two entirely correct empirical conclusions next to each other invites us to make a quick judgment about the relationship between those two conclusions. It is easy to believe that it is an empirical conclusion that poverty causes violent crime.

This is the line between a conclusion and a judgment. A fact's distinguishing characteristic is that is a part of the physical word; it is an object (noun) that can object (verb). A conclusion, can also object. It is a correct conclusion that Washington DC has a high crime rate, and you can experience this yourself by wandering certain neighborhoods at night. Conclusions can object against other conclusions; you hear a gunshot and a scream around the corner and conclude there is a crime in progress. That conclusion would object against the conclusion of Washington being a peaceful place. This being said, it is much more typical that only facts can object against conclusions. In fact I reserve the right to junk the last half of this paragraph at a later date.

A judgment, however, will not object in this way. The only things that can object against a judgment are conclusions and facts. The judgment that poverty causes crime cannot be objected to be saying the opposite; both judgments need to be broken down into their constituent facts and conclusions.

Facts are objects that object; conclusions are also (possibly?) capable of objecting. Judgments are not capable of objecting.

So, how to form correct judgments? Um... next time.

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