Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bubba discovers Verification!

Bubba finally makes it through the first chapter of Semantics 200 and goes googley at the V-word: Verification (the simplified form of V-theory asserts that the meaning of a proposition depends on the method by which it is verified: statements which are not verifiable, at least in principle, are not meaningful--according to verificationists). Verification was a hot topic in the 1920's or so in the Vienna Circle; pragmatists such as CS Peirce and Wm. James were well aware of the issue (one can also note a concern with verification with the early empiricists/Hobbes/experimentalists, etc.). Quine updates verification to include the entire domain of knowledge. To most college-boys aware of say induction, it's sort of passe; to the Bubbas of Blogland, it's a deep one.

Verification does not usually play well with ideologues: truth is somewhat malleable to stalinists, or nazis, or mafiosos--or to belle-lettrists (even notable literary works do not feature verifiable statements; nor do most space operas) . Dems are often as much veri-phobic as is the nutty right. Often a big liberal site such as KOS sort of controls verification.

A few verified statements:

—muslim terrorists blew up the WTC, and killed 2500+ Americans

—Saddam and baathists had centrifuge materials; they were not in compliance with UN inspections, and harbored terrorists, including some with ties to AQ (see Robb Silbermann). Bush may have misrepresented the danger, but danger there was.

—most leading dems agreed to war effort in Afghan and Iraq

—Obama has ties to radical muslim groups

—Iran has pledged to destroy Israel; the Prez had denied holocaust

–any manipulations by Bush/Cheney in regards to intelligence were approved by dems

etc. etc


J said...

Uh oh Bubbacrat--about as liberal as say LBJ- now offers his visions of a Great Society. Suffer fools gladly.

Bubba doesn't really know what the "left" is, either in terms of politics or economics. The Left, to some narcissistic, suburban liberal like BubbaRon, is something like Bill and Melinda Gates style philanthropy.

Some of us know better, Bubba. Corporate liberalism and Gates-style philanthropy ain't the left. The real left appears something like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela: not nice or comfy. Real leftists--nasty critters, usually---- put Bubbas, however liberal they might have pretended to be, into factories--or fields--or gulags.

A moderate-leftist approach--and alternative to Marx (or laissez-faire capitalism)--- was put forth by JK Galbraith in numerous books and articles (then even Keynes was a bit of a socialist in ways--as was Veblen, in a different sense). But Galbraith-like sobriety and analysis doesn't make it in bloglands or

Perezoso said...

Ah BubbaRon tires of policy chat-- a bit deep for his little wannabe-a-crip mind--and now shifts back to HSThompson and some predictable gonzo nostalgia!

Gonzo, or at least gonzo-lite, remains one of the favorite poses of KOS-sort of blogs: Gonzo sort of means, do anything--drugs, booze, guns, ho's, etc.---and think you are like going to be par-taying with the Stones in Monaco next summer, and you are sort of in the clique.

To others, gonzo is a mostly deceptive pseudo-anarchistic ideology, about akin to, "live by the sword, die by the sword."

traxus4420 said...

your posts on epistemology always sort of soothe me when i read them.

aren't a couple of these verified statements though highly contested by competing evidence?

like, 2 -- why is robb-silberman, handpicked by the prez, so reliable all of a sudden? assume you don't agree with the drumheller interview that got passed around. but even moderates like the counterterrorism blog don't take that r-s report seriously.

also what does 'ties' mean in relation to obama? i thought he got cleared of the really bad ones (like that he was raised in a madrassa).

the iran one i'd tweak a little but whatever.

anyway i'm glad you're still writing.

hi perezoso.

J said...

Hey Traxus.

The post came off a bit more conservative-sounding than I intended perhaps. Strict verificationism (ala Carnap say) often makes taken-for-granted types of thinking, including politics or history, very difficult--.

We don't really know what's going on politically, however boring and/or Orwellian that sounds. There's a sort of postmodernist angle too: the media filters everything, and various pundits spin information. For all we know Robb-Silberman could itself be a fabrication.

I did not mean to suggest that the R-S report somehow exonerated Bushco; quite the contrary. After reading most of it I was more convinced that Bush/Cheney/Rums/Rice/whoever had misrepresented the evidence, and that the decision to go to war in Iraq had probably been made during Clinton's admin. (even if some evidence suggest that Baathists had intentions to build nukes, there were other solutions). The gullibility of the liberals though then seems all the more strange. Petroleum, contracting scams, war profiteering, and, one dares say, zionist hatred of the muslims (not entirely unjustified) probably other motives.

9-11 then sort of worked as a catalyst. Yet why don't the high-powered political and legal people involved (like Robb, or Charles Vest) take the report to court or something? It's a somewhat bizarre document: Bush and GOP authorize it, get various legal people and academics involved, and they essentially claim Bush and the CIA fucked up and misrep'ed, and yet it's taken to be a type of justification or something.

traxus4420 said...

as far as i can tell it was something like the administration paid for something, they're going to use what they paid for, not what they got. and so now everyone's too in on it to go to court.

i have only read a tiny bit of the actual report (intro and outro basically). commentators i've read gave the impression that even though the report was heavily compromised it still came out on the side of weak evidence.

"and that the decision to go to war in Iraq had probably been made during Clinton's admin."

why do you say this?

J said...

"and that the decision to go to war in Iraq had probably been made during Clinton's admin."

why do you say this?

Bill Clinton and Gore, that supposed "liberal" visionary, had pushed for regime change. They bombed the iraqis all through 90s: Hillary also has never wavered on her support of Iraqi war effort.
During the campaign in 1999, Gore and his israeli-connection Lieberman also both sounded quite hawkish.

Granted, the claim has not been completely verified, but my readings lead me to believe that the US Military only needed the slightest provocation to take Hussein and the Baathists out.
(see also Counterpunch on Gore, Hillary, Iraq, etc.--tho' I am not always down with Cockburn's somewhat old-fashioned marxist analyses). Iraq had assembled quite a powerful military (even if they did a lot of bluffing, fake missile silos, etc.), and they did have arrays of missiles at least potentially tipped with anthrax or some other nasty surprises aimed right at Tel Aviv and surroundings.

And the Democratic loyal opposition more or less signed off at each stage in the months leading up to the war. The Johnny Edwards sort of recanting BS thus is really sort of pathetic: they were briefed with rather detailed accounts; obviously any college boy or attorney types would be listening to the CIA or military people offering a powerpoint justification for an invasion with some degree of skepticism wouldn't they? They could have raised a stink, but public opinion was greatly in favor of invasion, and well, herd mind sort of took over. However f-ed up Hillary is at least she sticks to her guns.

J said...


(It might be noted that verificationism plays a part in orthodox marxism as well. Marx wasted little time (German Ideology, wasn't it) in ridiculing the Kantian-metaphysical a priori, and Hegel's development of Kant. The dirty secret of Marxism is that Marx really follows Hobbes and Locke in terms of "sensationism"--not unrelated to a verificationist sort of thinking; or in PoMo-ish, the objects in socio-economic-bio reality condition the perceiving "subject." We might grant a certain conceptual power (a type of cognitive Kantianism, if you will, somewhat similar to dialectical materialism) beyond naive empiricism, yet even Kant asserted that conceptual knowledge, and the understanding hinges on sensibility, and perceived phenomena. Kant's 1st Critique did not flesh out verification and induction (and language issues) as the Vienna circle did, but it's really sort of a common theme after like Hobbes.

The Vienna Circle however reject the Kantian a priori as well, at least in terms of some basis for empirical knowledge; analytical thinking (mathematical/logical foundations) then the only remaining a priori epistemology (at least until Quine, behaviorists, etc). And we here at Contingencies contend the status of the a priori, or supposed a priori (and innateness) represents one of only a few legitimate metaphysical disputes--Marx sort of correctly observed (notwithstanding his mistakes) that metaphysics rested upon a priori (or even a soul, if you will); overthrowing that a priori soul-ego (even as Hobbes did in his criticisms of Descartes) facilitated political and economic discussion.

traxus4420 said...

thanks for the stuff on the democrats, i didn't know how far back the clinton support went.

"The dirty secret of Marxism is that Marx really follows Hobbes and Locke in terms of "sensationism"--not unrelated to a verificationist sort of thinking; or in PoMo-ish, the objects in socio-economic-bio reality condition the perceiving "subject."

yeah a kind of basic acceptance of empiricism is something like an 'a priori' for marx. i think this is what makes him less 'interesting' for continental philosophy people than kant, hegel, schelling, etc., though of course post-68 had a lot to do with that as well. there is a kind of unstated difference between what you call sensationism and your translation into pomo, 'material forces' get emptied of empirical content and become another kind of idealism, an 'ideologism' like what you talk about in your post. not always, but safe to call it a tendency i think.

labor theory of value maybe has a bit of the a priori, but it's also where it coincides with common sense more than it does with non-dialectical empiricism.

anyway it's interesting what he leaves and what he takes from the ultimate idealist hegel.

J said...

Marx himself upholds a sort of material idealism: matter thinks (at least in the form of human brains). But that thinking is mediated by bio-economic existence. So as ontology, material idealism is fairly sound, even in terms of science (unless one wants to deny thinking and/or consciousness altogether). Marx is not Darwin, but he does have an similar awareness of determinism: something that most PC-liberal sorts routinely forget (the average Kossack sounds more like a baptist preacher than a marxist, really).

Postmodernists, even the Derrida of Of Gram. (at least the 50 pages or so I struggle with) seem to retain intention and freedom, even a somewhat Cartesian model, however tweaked (Derrida also influenced by Pierce, who upheld a type of strange idealism). So yes maybe pomo was a bit anti-marxist; or at least they converted Marx back into a metaphysician, when he's really an economist-historian. His hegelian a priori concepts (seeing models, like class struggle, as necessary when they were more provisional--even falsifiable) may have been the problem. Popper thought so, while respecting some Marxist concepts. Popper an odd little man but his Open Society should not just be dismissed out of hand. We should read it and then dismiss it, or at least a great deal of it.

J said...

Economic materialism thus is the great enemy for most on left and right. Humans don't care to discuss resources, distribution, the commodity markets, the absurdities of finance and speculation, or even the ugly statist bureaucracies of much of the US: they want to make grand moral pronouncements, say Hillary is a whore, or Buscho is a demon, war is hell, etc. Or indulge in the pseudo-environmentalism of a Gore, etc. All image, surface structure--even simulacra in pomo-lish (tho' that's not to bless Baudrillard). Veri-phobia.

As some around your little clique have noted, that sort of ID politics, even when done by so-called leftists is quite conservative--reactionary, usually (not always---if you have bombs falling on your head, or even near-by, you might be a bit of a reactionary: one thing Chris Hitchens does not quite understand).

I respect some of the political writings of Zizek because he realizes leftist biblethumpers may be every bit as obnoxious and megalomaniacal and escapist as rightist sorts. Orwell had that sort of detached perspective as well (as did Marx, really--or Nietzsche). Politics then should be viewed in descriptive terms, rather than prescriptive. Gitmo's should not shock us in the least given 20th century history, after Stalins, Hitlers, Maos, Nixons and Nams. That's not to say they should be condoned, but they are hardly anomalous.

traxus4420 said...

"Economic materialism thus is the great enemy for most on left and right."

yes, it's difficult to do this right w/o becoming economic determinism -- which is i think why you need something at least analogous to 'class struggle.' or you end up in all the messy dead end problems like 'free will' and its consequences for ethics (trying to derive ethics from either an incomplete inhuman system or an empty void). derrida is a good model of the contortions this line of thought can produce actually, being what you could call a 'textual materialist' who consequentially can't figure out where to put the subject or referent. maybe you could say his relation to descartes is parasitic, if that's not too cute.

peirce is interesting -- i've only struggled through 'four incapacities,' fascinated by the role played by 'interpretant' in his triangle, though i don't completely get it.

"As some around your little clique have noted, that sort of ID politics, even when done by so-called leftists is quite conservative--reactionary, usually"

yeah, as however this kind of politics is basically omnipresent picking and choosing has to be a somewhat pragmatic affair. how is the 'superstructure' coordinated with the base, how to reconcile two different types of analysis.

i share your like of orwell, but zizek is hardly 'detached' in his rhetoric. certainly not a good reader of 'politics and the english language' to say the least. he does his own version of this spectacle politics for his own ends, leaving the base alone just like the others.

it's been fun chatting, but offline work is stacking up, so i prob. won't be back for a little while.

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