Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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On Experience, Perception and Biased Expressions

Proposition: Knowledge is fueled by experience, influenced by perception and expressed in a strictly subjective manner

When creating a theory of what knowledge is I came to understand that it is fueled through experience. Whether that experience is physical (one is creating an understanding that fire is hot by touching it) or mental (one is creating an understanding that fire is hot by reading about it). There are so many different ways in which people can begin to understand and gain knowledge of different topics, just as there are many ways in which they encode that knowledge.

Klob’s theory of the experiential learning cycle outlines that there are four steps in the cycle of learning through experience:  Concrete Experience, Reflective Observation,  Abstract Conceptualization, and Active Experimentation.

Concrete Experience involves encountering a new situation or the reinterpretation of an existing experience.

Reflective Observation involves reflecting on the experience being sure there are no inconsistencies on the experience and the understanding of it.

Abstract Conceptualization involves the discovery of new ideas or the abstract understanding that come to mind through reflections.

Active Experimentation involves the learner applying new knowledge to real life in order to see what may result.

learning-kolb

 

In Klob’s theory, all parts of the cycle are necessary for a person to fully gain knowledge. No one category can be effective on its own.

Knowledge can be perceived differently person to person. Many people have different learning styles which affect how they learn and what they gain from their experiences. Klob’s theory also involves the different styles of learning that people may have. Different variables affect a person’s learning style, and how they perceive their experiences.  For example, social environment, educational experiences, or the basic cognitive structure of the individual all play a role in how that person learns.

Klob’s theory involves four different learning styles: Diverging, Assimilating, Converging, and Accommodating.

Diverging (feeling and watching – CE/RO): People who use the learning style of diverging knowledge are often able to look at things from different perspectives. These people are sensitive to their surroundings, themselves and others. These learners prefer to watch rather than do, tending to gather information and using their imagination to solve problems. Diverging learners are best at viewing concrete situations at several different viewpoints and perform better in situations that require idea generation e.g. brainstorming. Diverging learners are generally more social as they prefer to work in groups, to listen with an open mind and to receive personal feedback.

Assimilating (watching and thinking – AC/RO):People who use the learning style of Assimilating knowledge use a logical approach when solving problems or interpreting information. These people value ideas and concepts over information from other people. They require a good clear explanation of a concept rather than a practical opportunity to physically use their knowledge.Assimilating learners excel at understanding a wide range information and organizing that information in clear logical formats. These people are more attracted to logically sound theories than approaches based on practical value. They prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through when attempting to gain new knowledge and understanding.

Converging (doing and thinking – AC/AE): People who use the learning style of converging knowledge can solve problems and will use their knowledge to find solutions to practical issues.They prefer technical tasks, and are less concerned with people and interpersonal aspects of thinking.These learners are best at finding practical uses for ideas and theories. They can solve problems and make decisions by finding solutions to questions and problems which enables them to specialize in technological tasks.

Accommodating (doing and feeling – CE/AE): People who use the learning style of accommodating knowledge tend to be ‘hands-on’ learners, and rely on their intuition rather than logic. They use other people’s analysis, and prefer to take a practical, experiential approach when solving problems. These learners are often attracted to new challenges and experiences, and to carrying out plans. They act on ‘gut’ instinct rather than logical analysis and are the most prevalent learners in the general population.

A typical representation of Klob’s learning styles looks something like this:

kolb's_learning_styles_businessballs

The east-west axis of the cycle is called the Processing Continuum. This is how we choose to approach a task. The north-south axis is called the Perception Continuum which is our emotional response to our experience.
Many people agree that knowledge is obtained when a person is able to express that knowledge. While I believe that one does not have to express their knowledge to have it I do agree that the best way to prove that one has obtained an understanding of something is to express that understanding. When attempting to express knowledge, it becomes clear that knowledge obtained through experience is often subjective. In an article titled Subjective Knowledge by Rich Stutton he writes of the subjective view point. Explaining that:

“In it, all knowledge and understanding arises out of an individual’s experience, and in that sense is inherently in terms that are private, personal, and subjective. An individual might know, for example, that a certain action tends to be followed by a certain sensation, or that one sensation invariably follows another. But these are its sensations and its actions There is no necessary relationship between them and the sensations and actions of another individual. To hypothesize such a link might be useful, but always secondary to the subjective experience itself.”

He touches on what would conventionally be argued as objective knowledge. Information such as science and math involving definite particles and equations with definite solutions and concrete explainings. He talks about the objective, realist view explaining the belief that knowledge is objective in that

“In this view there is a reality independent of our experience. This would be easy to deny if there were only one agent in the world. In that case it is clear that that agent is merely inventing things to explain its experience. The objective view gains much of its force because it can be shared by different people. In science, this is almost the definition of the subjective/objective distinction: that which is private to one person is subjective whereas that which can be observed by many, and replicated by others, is objective.”

He points out both the flaws and the appeal of these views pointing out that:

“The appeal of the objective view is that it is common across people. Something is objectively true if it predicts the outcome of experiments that you and I both can do and get the same answer. But how is this sensible? How can we get the same answer when you see with your eyes and I with mine? For that matter, how can we do the “same” experiment?”

Stutton concludes that knowledge is subjective; a point that I whole heartily agree with. Knowledge is biased as no one person will experience, perceive and express their knowledge exactly the same way as another. Thus my theory of knowledge is that knowledge is fueled by experience, influenced by perception and expressed in a subjective manner.

 

 

 

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What it is to be Conscious – Ted Honderich on Philosophy Bites

You are a living consciousness.

Today we’ve been listening to and deconstructing Nigel Warburton’s interview of Ted Honderich on the subject of consciousness, which you can listen to here: What is it to be Conscious? (mp3)

In looking around for materials to supplement this listen, I stumbled onto this article about a feud Mr. Honderich has found himself in regarding a review written of his book, Actual Consciousness. While it may not help you digest the content of the podcast any, it is an illuminating tour of the personalities that can drive intellectual discourse and disagreement:

…the feud is escalating into philosophy’s equivalent of a prize fight between two former colleagues who are both among the showiest brawlers in the philosophy dojo. In one corner is McGinn, 57, West Hartlepool-born professor of philosophy at the University of Miami, and the self-styled hard man of philosophy book reviewing. In the other corner is Honderich, 74, Ontario-born Grote Professor Emeritus of the philosophy of mind and logic at University College London, and a man once described by fellow philosopher Roger Scruton as the “thinking man’s unthinking man”. They are using all the modern weapons at their disposal – blogs, emails, demands for compensation from the academic journal that published the original review, an online counter-review, and an online counter-counter-review.

The heart of their dispute, though, may not be over intellectual matters at all, but about something one of them said more than a quarter of a century ago about the other’s ex-girlfriend (of which more later).

Something you might find of more use in trying to decode Honderich’s consciousness is this review summarizing the author’s premises:

What of Honderich’s proposal? “Being conscious”, he says, “is for something to be actual.” If this does not strike you as particularly informative (if what is actual is what exists in fact, this seems to apply to many things that have nothing to do with consciousness), things become clearer when Honderich explains what it is that is actual in different types of consciousness. In sensory perception, what is actual is a subjective physical world: something that is physical (like the table out there) but that also depends on facts about the subject (those facts being physical through and through, such as its neural states and its location). What is actual in thought, desire and the like are representations. For Honderich, representations inhabit the subjective physical realm too and, as such, are both physical and subjective.

 

 

 

 

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Epistemology Discussion: History of Knowledge 11.06.13

With pencast notes provided by Julie and the Livescribe pen.

 

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Epistemology Discussion: Maximum Knowledge 11.05.13

With visual notes provided by Julie and the Livescribe Pen.

 

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Scientific Philosophy Round Up

Soaring into the eye of the gods

Image courtesy of Gardner Campbell (and the Romans)

I thought it might be helpful to round up the Scientific Philosophy posts here so that we might be able to more easily delve into their contents in the future.

Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 1.11.57 PMHeather & Andrea’s Instrumentalism Prezi

Logical Positivism is an outdated, radical idea that started in the Vienna Circle as far back as the early 1800s. The main view that logical positivists held is that no statement is legitimate or meaningful until it can be proven true or false. In the minds of logical positivists, personal opinions and values only warps science, and it can only be objective through the scientific method. During or class discussion, with the help of a spectrum of ideologies such as instrumentalism and postmodernism, the majority of the class came to the conclusion that science is not objective. This agreement was based on the idea that science is about the process of which we come to a conclusion, rather than the conclusion itself. Logical positivists would disagree with this analogy, as they believe that science is about coming to a proven legitimate conclusion rather than the process.

Ashley, Jessica & Sophie on Logical Positivism

As a byproduct of the horrors of the Holocaust, a lost outlook on art, literature, and science arose rampant. From the works of Kurt Vonnegut to Jackson Pollock, a taste for confusion and abstract perspectives is obvious. After the war, in debt and longing for war, the ambiance was rather angsty… skeptical if you will.

The whole objective of science is to create an objective method to find an objective truth. However, how can one be continued objective in this world of context and personal bias. In the post modernist view, the world should be objective, looking and searching for a single truth… or a set of certain truths. But science is a way of thinking, in which no one can be objective. We have a set of lenses in which we choose what to search for. What can we tolerate? What do we need to discover?

Julie on Postmodernists’ Science

In science, a paradigm is a theory or set of thoughts that is widely accepted and practiced as the truth at that time. A paradigm shift is a total change in your set of view about a particular paradigm and it is most closely related to scientific progress but you could use it as a way to describe your own personal beliefs. We all exist in our own different paradigms. We all have our own personal beliefs on certain things and our outlook on the world is affected by those beliefs. And we can experience paradigm shifts in our own lives where our views on certain things are turned upside down. And as well, the scientific community and society exists in certain paradigms through out history at all. For example, right now we exist in the paradigm that landmasses are being moved constantly by continental plates. This is different from the old theory that the continents were always where they are. Thomas Kuhn believed that there are so many different paradigms going around, and that all the time they are changing, that there is no way that science can just settle on one of them. The existence of paradigms and paradigm shifts make it so that science isn’t just based on one total truth, but instead many different ideas of the truth.

Dylan, Katherine & Aidan on Kuhn’s Paradigms

Karl Popper stated very simply that science can only get as true as long as one cannot deem it false. This is his theory of falsification, regarding that in science, one can never reach 100% objectivity; that a scientific theory will infinitely approach this asymptotic mark we call truth. For example, Galileo disproving that our planet is the center of our solar system and Einstein redefining the method of which we consider the gravitational pulls among interstellar masses from Newtons original gravitational theory.

Although Popper nicely answers our question, which I do mostly agree with, I still remain persistent and a little disagreeing with the concept of science being nonobjective. With that, I went and searched for the definition of science, which states:  knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation (Note: this is only one definition, there are many, however they all float around the same vicinity). The thing about science is that it is used to create facts, with the least subjectivity as possible, and to distinguish these facts with the most accuracy as possible. In the out come, a fact is only one element, meaning, that even though many different people can view and consider the function of a box in many different ways, in the end, it is still cubic object and that doesn’t change. It will be the same shape for everyone, the only difference is other’s may name it differently and use it differently.

Lazar and Deven on Karl Popper & Scientific Objectivity

In one of my reports I was writing for Quebec called: La Condition postmoderne: Rapport sur le savoir (The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge) I simplify narratives of narratives that are called meta-narratives which are essentially big, universal theories and philosophies. The one I will be discussing is the meta-narrative of the knowability of everything by science.

The first question I have is why is this theory putting all of us under the same category? People in developing nations don’t have access to learning about science or performing science, or what we perceive to be science.  They survive and know how to survive, not by science, but by the need to live. This leads to the question: isn’t needing to survive a primal instinct? Isn’t it science? Well yes, but is it an objective truth? Do we know what the earliest humans were thinking? How do we really know what primal instincts are for everyone? There different for people in countries in African and they’re different for people living in Canada. I’m sure we could all come up with ideas and words that were said by the earliest humans, but we don’t know. However what we do know is that every word or idea we think is different than what another person thinks.

Aman’s Ghost Report 

Quine in lesser words basically said that it’s hard to find an exact definition of a word, so it becomes impossible to use as a basis for a hypothesis or a theory. Every word has a definition, but the it’s hard to know the exact definition of the word. For example,  a definition of a word is someone’s opinion and everyone’s opinion is unique; therefore there are many types of definitions for every word. The definitions are not correct nor incorrect because its an opinion and opinions vary for every individual.

Van Ormine Quine by Imtiaz, Leon & Tyler

Dear readers. My name Martin Heidegger and my work as a philosopher was instrumental in understanding postmodernism and their views on science. My book, Being and Time, is considered one of the most important philosophical works of the 20th century and my work is said to have played a crucial role in the development of existentialism, hermeneutics, deconstruction, postmodernism, and continental philosophy.

Is science objective: No, of course it is not.

Emily’s look at Martin Heidegger

I will update this post with quotes and links to both the Feminists’ view on Scientific Objectivity, as well as the Anarchistic Epistemologists, when they are posted.

 

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“Thomas Kuhn, Is Science Objective?”~ Aidan, Dylan, Katherine

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/files/2012/05/kuhn.jpg

Thomas Kuhn

Thomas Kuhn was born on July 18, 1922. He was an American physicist, historian, and scientific philosopher. Before Kuhn, there wasn’t any really detailed map of how science progressed. But he helped to paint a picture of the way that science was able to grow and contribute more knowledge to the scientific community. Kuhn discussed his answer to the question “is science objective” quite clearly in is 73 years of living. His universally acclaimed novel The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was the gateway into his thinking of the objectivity of science. Through different books and essays, Thomas Kuhn let us into his world of how he views the progress of science, and his views on the objectivity of science as a whole. So, let’s delve into the mind of the paradigm shifter himself, and find out if science is truly objective.

Before Kuhn, science was thought to progress with the continual adding of new theories to an old theory and adding new beliefs in to the same realm of old beliefs. Kuhn did not agree with this theory. Kuhn instead saw science as having two different forms, “normal science, and “revolutionary science.  He saw normal science as being the form that was described as the old theory of how science progressed. He described it as the regular work of a scientist within a certain set of beliefs, where they keep adding new theories to an already existing theory, and keep adding up onto it. His theory of revolutionary science is a bit more dramatic. Revolutionary science is the way in which science progresses with the total shifting of views on a certain scientific idea. This was the main point behind Kuhn’s outlook on the progress of science. He described a set of thoughts or collection of opinions on one topic as a paradigm, and the dramatic shift of opinions on the topic as a paradigm shift. Revolutionary science was when a paradigm shift would take place, and an existing paradigm would be replaced with a new paradigm. This was opposite to the idea of normal science, and was how Kuhn described science to progress.

Paradigms and paradigms shifts were the focal points behind Kuhn’s theory of revolutionary science as described above, and the main way that Kuhn was able to answer the question of the objectivity of science. In science, a paradigm is a theory or set of thoughts that is widely accepted and practiced as the truth at that time. A paradigm shift is a total change in your set of view about a particular paradigm and it is most closely related to scientific progress but you could use it as a way to describe your own personal beliefs. We all exist in our own different paradigms. We all have our own personal beliefs on certain things and our outlook on the world is affected by those beliefs. And we can experience paradigm shifts in our own lives where our views on certain things are turned upside down. And as well, the scientific community and society exists in certain paradigms through out history at all. For example, right now we exist in the paradigm that landmasses are being moved constantly by continental plates. This is different from the old theory that the continents were always where they are. Thomas Kuhn believed that there are so many different paradigms going around, and that all the time they are changing, that there is no way that science can just settle on one of them. The existence of paradigms and paradigm shifts make it so that science isn’t just based on one total truth, but instead many different ideas of the truth.

File:Duck-Rabbit illusion.jpg

Rabbit – Duck Optical Illusion

 

 

This was a picture that helped Kuhn to describe his idea of paradigm shifts, and the idea of how everyone sees different things even if they are looking at the same concept in science and elsewhere. Just as in this picture, you may happen to see a rabbit, or you may happen to see a duck. Or you may see a shape which no one else has seen before. This helped him to describe the idea of different paradigms as being different ways of seeing things and making science subjective that way since we each see something different.

 

 

So with all this information, is science objective? Through the lens of Thomas Kuhn, we would have to say that it is not. Thomas Kuhn would say that since there are so many competing paradigms and differences of opinions, science is subjective. Because all theories are based on subjective conditioning and ideas, there is no way that science is able to be fully objective. Science can only progress and shift and change as different paradigms are brought up, and it is subject to be flipped on its head again and again.  Therefore, science is a way to study and understand the world in a collective way, but based on opinions and outlooks that continue to change as time goes on.

 

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Scientific Philosophy Group Headings

Image from the FreeCollective.org

This week we will be attempting to respond to the question, Is Science Objective? through a variety of lenses. Read up on the links below to help us in choosing our groups for this course of study.

The Objectivity of Science
Chris Price

Postmodernism
Kristina, Daniel & Leanne

Philosophy of Deutsch
Richard and Greg

Thomas Kuhn
Daniel
Guide to Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Feminism
Iris, Yazmeen & Stephanie

Logical Positivism
Jennifer, Mariana & Misha

Karl Popper
Jonathan & Nick

Anarchistic Epistemology
Liam Keagan & Clayton

Instrumentalism
Toren, Megan & Derek

Van Ormine Quine
Kelly, Emily & Zoe

 

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Philosopy of Deutsch – Richard and Greg

“You know what is so good about the truth? Everyone knows what it is, no matter how long they’ve lived without it. No one forgets the truth, they just get better at lying”

David Deustch is a British Physicist who came up with a a theory that determines the objectivity, and the truth between opposing points, or between many different points of view or explanations of a certain occurrences.

He first defines science as not making predictions based on your observations but rather deriving explanations from the observations so that you’ll be able to apply this knowledge. He believes that it is better to understand the concept before using it, rather than just blindly recognising the correlation, and then just applying it right off the bat. He believes that only if we really understand how a events can we then go ahead and apply that knowledge.

He also argues that science is indeed objective because despite the fact that from a single experiment, or from multiple experiments you could end up with multiple opposing, or different theories, that conflict is only temporary. This is because Darwinian evolutionary theory takes place. So, eventually those explanations that are subjective, and wrong, will be criticised, and rooted out, to the extent that they eventually become obsolete, and are eliminated from our knowledge base. And, over the time span of many years, if not generations or longer all we’ll have left is that single objective truth, because it’s the only one that can stand the test of time as it’ll get criticised but still survive as it is the truth.

For example, the belief of a geocentric vs. a heliocentric solar system, and no matter how much the church, and the establishment of the time tried to stick with the geocentric theory, and trying to reject the heliocentric explanation that they perceived as wrong, over time reason, objectivity, and truth prevailed, instituting the heliocentric system as the correct system of the solar system.

So in conclusion, Deustch’s theory simply states that given sufficient time, our theories, and our explanations that we’ve derived from Science will be objective, because only the objective truth will truly stand the test of time in the end.

And a question for the feminists, how are you so sure that our “master and dominate” mindset a) exists, and b) causes the environmental damage inflicted upon this earth? It seems like that this is more of an opinion, and subjective, rather than a truth, and it has yet to stand the test of time to see if it really will turn out to be true.

And to all the sceptics in the room, for example the length of the universe always will stay the same no matter how you slice, and dice it, using whatever measurement instruments, or units. If I say a room is 1 meter wide, or 3 and a third feet wide, does that make a difference? They’re the same. No matter what measurement we come up with, and what other races or alien lifeforms use to measure the same thing, if you use unitary rates to convert one to the other you’ll end up with the exact same thing.

Secondly, to those who say to prove something true we need to go around proving all of them the same, you can also use the same lens to turn the tables around, and say that something is true, and you cannot prove it false unless until you find a false example in every rock, or every atom, or etc.

Thirdly, sure we may put things in different terms, so that we understand something, but if you shine a light against a wall, you’ll get something constant, and while you may explain it in many different ways, are we altering what is happening? We say that if we shine a light against a regular wall, like the one in the philosophy classroom, we see the colour because it is the certain wavelengths of light reflected that gets us to perceive the reflected light as a colour. I may explain it this way, and someone else another, and aliens a third, and maybe God another way, but does it change that we’re all describing the same thing, albeit differently?

 

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Discussion Point: Is Science Objective?

look downstairs into stairwell whirl

Picture courtesy of Flickr user: quapan

As a culminating activity to our introduction to Scientific Philosophy, the class will be discussing the nature of objectivity in science from a number of perspectives outlined in the course text. In groups of 2-3, for-credit learners will prepare the following to be delivered next Tuesday (October 16th):

  • A one-minute introduction to their philosophical perspective (listed below);
  • A two-minute response to the question, Is Science Objective? 
  • A question for one of the other selected perspectives;

In addition, each group will post a synthesis of their thinking after the discussion to readdress their response to the original question, and incorporate influential points made by their peers during Tuesday’s class.

The different lenses / perspectives we will be addressing in class will be:

  • Post-Modernist
  • Feminist
  • Scientific Realist
  • Karl Popper
  • van Orman Quine
  • David Deutsche
  • Anarchistic Epistemologist
  • Instrumentalist
  • Logical Positivist

Invitation to Open-Online ParticipantsAs ever, we welcome your input, feedback, and engagement with the classroom learning wherever you are able to supply it. For this particular aspect of the course, if you would like to submit a response to the question from one (or more) of the listed perspectives (or one of your own choosing), feel free to submit a post or comment on the blog (If you are not a registered author on the blog, fill out the form on the Open Online Participants page to remedy this.) and join our discussion on Tuesday live on #ds106radio, or Google Hangout.

 
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