Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket The Tetrast2 - Speculation Lounge

I call it the speculation lounge in order to encourage myself not to hold off on a post or an edit.

New post at The Tetrast: "Telos, entelechy, Aristotle's Four Causes, pleasure, & happiness" (on how a remark by John Dewey helped to remedy my biggest brain glitch ever).
Some recent posts:
  • The Four Causes as subjects of broadest areas of research
  • Political temperaments (edited July 27, 2013)
  • Methods of learning (edited Oct. 18, 2013)
  • Methods of inquiry (edited Sept. 15, 2013)
  • Nontrivia (edited December 19, 2013)
  • Unsettlings
  • Lyric, Epic, Dramatic, Orphic, Hermetic, Peithic
  • Logical quantity & the problem of universals
  • First posted on Wednesday, August 21, 2013:
    The Four Causes as subjects of broadest areas of research

    (Recentest significant edit: August 23, 2013.)

    This is a continuation of my post "Telos, entelechy, Aristotle's Four Causes, pleasure, & happiness" at The Tetrast. It got long and rather speculative, so I'm posting it here at the Speculation Lounge instead. Update 8/25/2013: And it needs more revisions. End of update. Note: by "final cause" or "end" in the same sense, I do NOT mean a retroactive efficient cause, and I do NOT automatically and generically mean an intelligent purpose or a biological function.

    A ball rolls, but a cube sits, on a slightly inclined plane. Is that not formal causation? It is mechanical causation "by forms" but not formal causation in Aristotle's sense (and it is quite traditional to see forms as also acting as agent causes into the future). In the Aristotelian sense, a thing's formal cause is, most simply put, the thing's form. (The word "cause" is technically redundant in speaking of material, end, and form; it isn't redundant in the phrase "efficient cause" but it is chiefly for linguistic reasons that we don't call it "the efficient" or "the effector"; on the other hand, the phrase "agent cause," synonymous with "efficient cause" or "effector," involves no redundancy; likewise "patient cause," which refers to the matter or ingredients).

    More generally, such things as balls rolling while cubes sit are sometimes taken as "geometrical" or "mathematical" causation; the form, or the mathematical structure, helps explain the phenomenon, even if it is not formal causation, or that which would be mathematical causation, in an Aristotelian sense. In fact, in mechanics, phenomena are always explained with help from geometry, just ask Galileo. Motions and forces have directions. Still, what about the mathematicality of form and structure? Is a thing's form simply its mathematicality (whatever that means?)? Aristotle said that the ratio of different kinds of ingredient in a thing is part of the form or formal cause. It is sometimes said that mathematics studies structures. It is also said to study relations in a general sense that includes operations and functions, not to mention relations, e.g. antiderivatives, that go from one set of values to many sets of value and relations that go from many sets of values to many sets of values. So which is it, structures or some abstract sort of doings? Is that splitting a hair? C.S. Peirce usually said that (pure) mathematics studies purely hypothetical objects, but of mathematical form he said:

    A mathematical form of a state of things is such a representation of that state of things as represents only the samenesses and diversities involved in that state of things, without definitely qualifying the subjects of the samenesses and diversities. [Collected Papers 5.550 and Essential Peirce 2:378, from "The Basis of Pragmaticism," 1906.]

    The mathematician puts such forms through transformations some of which are not dynamically possible for the rigid objects that the forms could represent — for example, switching ("reflecting") a thing from being left-handed to being right-handed (ergo, handedness is intrinsic to such an object), whereas rotation is dynamically possible for a rigid object. Generally, when we consider things apart from a given somewhat arbitrary regime of dynamical laws or somewhat arbitrary parameters of a total population, etc., we do regard it as a question of their forms. I've hardly quelled my doubts about this, but let us suppose that mathematics is the study of form or structure when they are taken in some very general sense like that in the quote from Peirce above. Where does that supposition lead?

    First, it would be odd that mathematics were to study just one kind of cause (the form) while the empirical studies of concrete phenomena study four kinds (agential cause, material, effect or function, and form). Perhaps various classes of research study various numbers of kinds of cause, the number increasing from class to class according to the degree of concreteness of the class's research subject matter? That's the "triangular" solution. Likelier is that the form, as studied by pure mathematics, has four overall kinds, reflecting some sort of involvement of the Four Causes. (I tentatively and vaguely point to forms involved with many-to-many relations, one-to-many relations, many-to-one relations, and one-to-one relations.) Likewise then one might say that the concrete sciences study efficient causation overall, in four kinds that reflect the involvement of each of the Four Causes.

    Second, then the question becomes, what broadest divisions of research study the end overall and the material (the contents, etc.) overall?

    The end, telos as teleiosis, culmination: When we try to think of ends in a general way in the concrete, we see that it is only at the biological level that the end seems to come into its own as a specializing factor, and that it is only with intelligence (and, in some "quasi" way, with evolution) that the entelechy (form as final form) seems to come into its own as a specializing factor. Still, the end of mechanical processes seems to be the conservation of certain quantities; the end of material processes in any isolated system seems to be decay or the increase of entropy; the end of vegetable-organismic processes seems to be, as if by a sieve, the increase of internal negentropy; and the end of intelligent processes seems to be both such decay and such growth (like in a sink retaining everything, ultimately a living Matrioshka brain, I guess). In the case of conservation of quantities, this is (by Noether's Theorem) whenever both (A) change of size of the universe is a negligible factor and (B) the quantity called physical action is extremized (as it always is in the classical context) or, one might better say, optimized, since we're discussing a selection from among options for action. Thermodynamics destines material processes to increase an isolated system's entropy because of the probabilities involved. From here, being personally ignorant as I am, I would induce, without any quantifiable confidence, that information-theoretic considerations will explain life's negentropic tendency, and considerations from mathematical logic will explain intelligence's retentive, both entropic and negentropic tendency. Now, the mathematics of optimization, probability, information, and logic are mathematically nontrivial but are so-called 'applied' mathematics. Well, okay, they are applied insofar as they apply extremization, measure and enumeration, derivatives and abstract algebra, and theory of limits, order, etc. They involve timelike perspectives and at least quasi-modalities. There is something lightcone-like in the way that the perspectives fit together (see the image on the right).
    Image of rough analogy
    with the light cone

    Optima, probabilities, information, and factual bases, arranged as forming something like a light cone.
    It is not that information always arrives at lightspeed, or that optimal or feasible efforts always go outward at lightspeed; it is that information is news as opposed to standing, confirmed data, and that optima and feasibles are what something can do at a given "now," as opposed to probabilities which reflect what repeated trials will cumulatively lead to. It is also that the idea of the light cone has reinforced, in robust temporal and modalizable terms, the distinction, or the basicness of the distinction, between agency or doing, and resultant activity or undergoing (a distinction minimized by C. S. Peirce). The four "applied" areas above also adumbrate the Four Causes: (1) an agent cause, acting onto the verge of the future, the feasible or optimal; (2) a patient cause or matter or resource, developing into the further future, the probable; (3) an ending, a culmination on the verge of the past, the news, the information; and (4) an entelechy, a final form or having-in-completeness, standing finished from the further past, the factual.

    Now, each of those "applied" mathematics is generally for deductive inference from wholes to parts (while "pure" mathematics tends to draw conclusions through equivalences and equipollences), and alongside each of those "applied" areas there is an area of research for inductive inference from parts to wholes: inverse optimization (which is not always Bayesian despite having the word "inverse" its name), statistics, inductive areas of information theory, and whatever area it is that has inductive logic among its proper concerns — I'd say that this is philosophy, or that philosophy should embrace it (and that might help philosophy survive as a discipline). These fields involve the idea of taking fair samples from some totality or other, samples from which to draw inductive generalizations as to parameters of the larger totality, the correlations, dependencies, etc. Remembering that in the context of the Four Causes "matter" does not generically mean physical or chemical matter per se, we can say that, if various mathematics study the form and the end, then these inductive studies study material, data as if it were samples of a kind of material, etc., for the correlations, dependencies, and generalizabilities. In particular, correlation is not causation in the sense of the efficient cause.

    Finally we come to the studies of concrete phenomena — physical, chemical, biological, and intelligent — and it is here that the understanding of efficient causation is sought as underpinning the understanding of all the Four Causes (under whatever names) in the concrete. Here, in concrete empirical studies, inference to plausible hypothetical explanations, while not absent from work in other research, becomes the "star of the inference show," and the use of other modes of inference consists in applications of methods from (or as if from) the other broadest areas of research (even when the methods are first developed in studies of concrete phenomena, as does happen).

    The above discussion leads to some questions that I find rather difficult; some of the difficulty may be by the nature of the problem and not just by my personal ignorance. For example, I said early on in this post, "let us suppose that (pure) mathematics is the study of form or structure when they are taken in some very general sense..." but, splitting hairs as I sometimes do, I actually think of mathematics as the study of "doings" or relations or transformabilities among such forms — formal causation in some sense. But what is that? Are postulates the formal causes of theorems? But theorems seem entelechies, final (or finished) forms, of postulates (final in the sense of standing finished and available as foundations for further theorems), in which picture the postulates seem agentlike; but are the theorems (and even their corollaries) entelechies in the sense of final forms that guide the postulates, even the selection of postulates? Similar questions could be asked about mathematical objects: an ideal limit seems an entelechy of a convergent infinite series. There are analogous questions about each of the broadest research areas, and many other questions as well.

    First posted on Saturday, April 13, 2013:
    Political temperaments

    Recentest significant edit: July 27, 2013.

    1. Reformism.

    2. Progressualism, "onward-ism."
    3. Contemporism.

    4. Conservatism, traditionalism.

    The above are temperaments, not ideologies. That is why I use the word "progressualism" and not the word "progressivism" which seems just too tied to a particular family of ideologies. I would call progressualism "perrectivism" if that word were evocative of the meaning proper to it (it comes from Latin pergo pergere perrexi perrectum, to continue, proceed, go on with). Moderatism seems to incline toward contemporism, but I hesitate to make the identification; the two temperaments don't seem quite the same, although some moderates seem to tend to contemporism, not to mention fashionabilism. The contemporist tends to like where things have now gotten to and, in particular, recent innovations. The difference between contemporism and conservativism is not exactly the difference between preferences for the status quo and the status quo ante, respectively. The contemporist does not generally aim to preserve or conserve new things as a state or stasis; the contemporist instead is inclined to seize the day, embrace the new, rather than to reform it, develop it further, or preserve it. The conservative doesn't necessarily favor reactionary reversion to an ancien régime or oppose tradition in the current state of its evolution, but does tend to prefer that which has been the established order, as opposed to novelties and changes that have not become deeply rooted and part of the established order.

    How have I arrived at the four? In my previous post "Methods of learning" I outlined, among other things, a tetrachotomy of bad temperaments of learning or inquiry. They in turn were extrapolated from other classifications. At this point I've revised both posts. Recapitulating the previous as it stands:


    PARALLEL CORRELATIONS   TABLE 1
    Causal principle, with dynamic/static character, as overall temporally oriented: Human capacity: Constructive method of learning
    (if both fallibilistic and hopeful):
    Destructive method of inquiry
    (generalizable into a destructive method of learning that may be either cognitive and persuasion-oriented, or otherwise):
    Bad temperament (erectable into a method) in adopting an opinion:
    1. Agency, direct action, with forcefulness, into the almost now, the edge of the future. Will, effort, character. Struggle, trial & error. Persuasion by power; by coercion
    (called by Charles Sanders Peirce the method of authority).
    Oppositionism, contrarianism, quarrelsomeness. Characteristically prejudges looming evidence.
    2. Patience, with endurance, stamina, into the further future. Ability, competency. Practice & repetition. Persuasion by wealth, resources, income; by waste & corruption. Tenacity, relentlessness. Characteristically prejudges evidence far in advance.
    (C. S. Peirce defined the method of tenacity as the policy of holding to one's first opinion and characterized it as leading to ignoring others' views and contrary evidence as if truth were intrinsically private, not public.)
    3. Affectedness, with vigor, from just now, the barely now, the edge of the past. Affectivity, values, sensibility. Appreciation & emulation
    (better known as identification & imitation).
    Persuasion by "wattage," glamour, fashion; by manipulation, e.g., rhetoric in the bad sense.
    (A less shallow, less cynical species of this is that which C. S. Peirce called the method of the a priori, which fosters opinions as something like tastes, opinions arising in conversation and comparisons of perspectives in terms of "what is agreeable to reason," the method thereby depending on fashion in paradigms and going in circles over time).
    Impulsiveness. Characteristically judges new evidence on the spot.
    4. Borneness, balance, with stability, settledness, from the further past. Cognition, intelligence, knowledgeability. Reasoning: reflection & testing
    (is or becomes scientific method of inquiry).
    Persuasion by standing, status; by sophistry, deceit, fraud. Stubbornness, hideboundness, like tenacity but, while tenacity suggests prejudice (pre-judgment) and tunnel vision in a pursuit, stubbornness suggests bias from old or partial evidence, hideboundness in an adherence. Characteristically judges new evidence well after the time for it.


    Now, that final column's items above resemble political temperaments. Moreover, it's tempting and probably clarificatory to discuss excess in political temperaments, as in the next table.


    PARALLEL CORRELATIONS   TABLE 2
    Reprise: Causal principle, with dynamic/static character, temporally oriented: Reprise: Bad temperament (erectable into a method) in adopting an opinion: Excess in political temperament: Political temperament:
    1. Agency, direct action, with forcefulness, into the almost now, the edge of the future. Oppositionism, contrarianism, quarrelsomeness. Characteristically prejudges looming evidence. Radicalism (in the usual political sense). Too little disgust, too strong a stomach, for the harm to others that is poised rather feasibly to result.
    Derided as: beasts, barbarians.
    Reformism.
    2. Patience, with endurance, stamina, into the further future. Tenacity, relentlessness. Characteristically prejudges evidence far in advance. (C. S. Peirce defined the method of tenacity as the policy of holding to one's first opinion and characterized it as leading to ignoring others' views and contrary evidence as if truth were intrinsically private, not public.) Programmaticism. Too little fear, too much optimism vis-à-vis the harm to others that is likely going to result.
    Derided as: true believers.
    Progressualism, "onward-ism" (but not only or necessarily all that which is called progressivism).
    3. Affectedness, with vigor, from just now, the barely now, the edge of the past. Impulsiveness. Characteristically judges new evidence on the spot. Impulsivism. Too little pain or sorrow for the harm to others that is resulting.
    Derided as: ninnies, flakes, yo-yos, appeasers / easily appeased.
    Contemporism.
    4. Borneness, balance, with stability, settledness, from the further past. Stubbornness, hideboundness, like tenacity but, while tenacity suggests prejudice (pre-judgment) and tunnel vision in a pursuit, stubbornness suggests bias from old or partial evidence, hideboundness in an adherence. Characteristically judges new evidence well after the time for it. Hideboundism. Too little antipathy, resentment, or anger about the harm to others that has resulted.
    Derided as: pigs, oppressors, old mules, dinosaurs, fossils.
    Conservatism, traditionalism.

    Neither conservatism nor hideboundism is an ideology; the ideological content associated with conservatism varies considerably from country to country, varying with the respective pasts of the countries. Likewise, it would be mistaken to regard all progressualism or "onward-ism" as having the ideology, somewhat variegated though it is, of the incrementalist version of that which currently could be called progressivism or, in the U.S.A., is called liberalism. Dauntless programmaticists may march society toward unmodifiable goals that many of us would consider regressive rather than progressive. Likewise, not all radicals are leftists.

    First posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013:
    Methods of learning

    Recentest significant edit: December 7, 2013.

    In my post "Methods of inquiry" I considered Charles Sanders Peirce's methods from his article "The Fixation of Belief" (three unscientific methods of settling opinion and the scientific method) and outlined a tetrachotomy of unscientific methods of inquiry. Here I consider a correlated tetrachotomy of learning methods (none of them bad).

    1. Struggle, trial and error.


    2. Practice and repetition.
    X 3. Appreciation and emulation
    (better known as identification and imitation).

    1 4. Reasoning: reflection and testing.

    "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." The old saying is applied not just to trial and error but also to practice and repetition. Now, the method of trial and error, generically at least, involves variation rather than the straightforward repetition involved in practice and repetition. How much further can I take these considerations of variation and iteration? The method of appreciation and emulation selectively reproduces special varieties of outcome. The method of reflection and testing adherently builds (evolves things) on particular legacies. Well, I tried; maybe I can improve those statements in the future.

    Appreciation and emulation: An animal needs to appreciate a fellow animal's behavior in order to emulate or imitate. Search on "No imitation without identification" (Frans B. M. de Waal 1998):

    The fact that this sort of imitation occurs in orangutans living with humans is significant. These apes probably sympathize with humans, as defined by Humphrey (1976, p. 313): "By sympathy I mean a tendency on the part of one social partner to identify himself with the other and so make the other's goals to some extent his own."

    Emulation suggests the possibility of more depth than imitation suggests; emulation also suggests the possibility of rivalry. These suggestions are quite congenial to the topic.

    Emulation or imitation is a copying of another rather than of oneself. It brings repetition to a higher level. Likewise reasoning, the drawing of potential lessons and recognitions, involves testing, and not just repetition of tests but creative experimentation, and that brings trial and error to a higher level. This involves sharing of questions, expectations, knowledge, etc., but not just sharing but checking & balancing.

    The method of reasoning (reflection and testing) seems continuous with the scientific method. This suggests that the methods of learning will be continuous with the methods of inquiry, but I came up with four "bad" methods and just one good one, the scientific method, while all four methods of learning seem good as long as they're fallibilistic and hopeful. Part of the key seems to be to regard methods of learning as seeking conclusions, but not always cognitive conclusions as inquiry does. See table directly below.

    PARALLEL CORRELATIONS
    Causal principle, with dynamic/static character, as overall temporally orientedHuman capacity
    (subject to development &, in that sense, to learning, and not only by the learning method named in the same row)
    Constructive method of learning
    (if both fallibilistic and hopeful)
    Destructive method of inquiry or persuasion or, more generally, learning, cognitive or otherwiseDestructive temperament of inquiry, etc.
    1. Agency, direct action, with forcefulness, into the almost now, the edge of the future. Will, effort, character. Struggle, trial & error. Power. Coercion.
    (Called by Charles Sanders Peirce the method of authority).
    Quarrelsomeness, contrarianism, oppositionism. Characteristically prejudges looming evidence.
    2. Patience, with endurance, stamina, resources, into the further future. Ability, competency. Practice & repetition. Wealth, resources (e.g., as simply thrown at a problem). Waste & corruption. Tenacity, relentlessness. Characteristically prejudges evidence far in advance.
    (C. S. Peirce defined the method of tenacity as the policy of holding to one's first opinion and characterized it as leading to ignoring others' views and contrary evidence as if truth were intrinsically private, not public.)
    3. Affectedness, with vigor, vibrance, from just now, the barely now, the edge of the past. Affectivity, values, sensibility. Appreciation & emulation
    (better known as identification & imitation).
    Glamour, "wattage," fashion. Manipulation, e.g., rhetoric in the bad sense.
    (A less shallow, less cynical species of this is that which C. S. Peirce called the method of the a priori, which fosters opinions as something like tastes, opinions arising in conversation and comparisons of perspectives in terms of "what is agreeable to reason," the method thereby depending on fashion in paradigms and going in circles over time. In his brief 1904 intellectual autobiography he called it "the method of fermentation.")
    Impulsiveness. Characteristically judges new evidence on the spot.
    4. Borneness, balance, with stability, settledness, from the further past. Cognition, intelligence, knowledgeability. Reasoning: reflection & testing
    (is or becomes scientific method of inquiry).
    Standing, status. Sophistry & lies. Stubbornness, hideboundness, like tenacity but, while tenacity suggests prejudice (pre-judgment) and tunnel vision in a pursuit, stubbornness suggests bias by old or partial evidence, hideboundness in an adherence. Characteristically judges new evidence well after the time for it.

    So, are the other good learning methods the methods, not of science per se, but of various arts and the like? Yes, insofar as such decisional, practical, and appreciational arts etc. seek conclusions partaking primarily of volition, ability, or affectivity rather than of cognition. The methods are also incorporated by science insofar as science incorporates struggles, practices, appreciations, etc. Most generally, all human pursuits use all the methods, but do so in different degrees.

    1. Struggle, trial & error. Aristotle mentions men of experience as occupying a step below that of men of arts (skills, crafts). The method of trial and error is that of experience, where we understand experience as implying struggle. Indeed both Latin experientia and Greek empeirikos (from which we get "empirical") come from words that mean trial, test. The sectors of getting decisions made do not have a common label, so I will call them strivages:
    1. Political, military, conflict-related affairs. 2. Business and finance, affairs of means, wealth, competition. 3. Sports, fashion, and affairs of glamour, splendor, rivalry. 4. Affairs of standing, honor, legitimacy, dispute.
    It is hard to say that all these are merely matters of experience, as people sometimes apply arts and sciences in order to conduct them. So it's better to think simply in terms of strivages. Trial & error is most of all the method of learning in the 1st sector of strivage: affairs of power and direct conflict, fighting, politically and physically. Within each sector of a realm such as the realm of strivages, the learning method associated with the same numeric label has some special added degree of application. E.g., learning by appreciation & emulation has a special added degree of application in fashion, sports, etc., even though they are technically strivages. Learning by practice and repetition is involved in fashion, sports, etc., insofar as they are practices. Learning by struggle, trial & error, applies to the strivages not in every respect whatsoever, but instead insofar as they are struggles. Strivages are primarily struggles, but are also practices, valuings, and reflectings. Added note: the word "strivage" is meant as a counterpart to words such as "practice" and "practition." The strivagic counterpart of skill, craft, technical art, would be volitional habit, adherence, and most especially, as a mode of volition, determination or, perhaps better, dedication. A special word for this could be coined if needed.

    2. Practice & repetition. Furthermore, "experience" in a broader sense includes practice where control is not at stake, practice that does not pre-eminently involve struggle. The method of learning by practice & repetition obviously suits such practice:
    1. Management / administration, & compliance. 2. Labor, crafts, cooperation. 3. Recreation, hobbies, entertainment, observances. 4. Practical investigation & study.
    Practice and repetition are most of all the method of learning in the 2nd sector of practice: labor, craft, cooperation.

    3. Appreciation & emulation. In the realm of valuings, the method of learning by appreciation and emulation applies:
    1. Valuings with regard to power, submission, self-governance, decision-making. 2. Care-how. 3. Tastes, sensibilities, gratificational valuings. 4. Valuings with regard to cognition.
    The method of learning by appreciation and emulation applies most of all in the 3rd sector of valuancy: tastes, sensibilities, etc. Religion seems especially associated with the 1st sector here. Added note: in parallel to the ideas of dedication and technical art, for valuancy there is the idea of devotion as a mode of affectivity. A special word could be coined from it if needed.

    4. Reasoning: reflection & testing.. Finally, the method of learning by reflection and testing applies in the realm of reflection:
    1. Governing arts, better known as ruling arts. 2. Know-how, productive arts/sciences, such as engineering. 3. Affective arts, including the fine arts, etc. 4. Mathematics, sciences, and areas intermediate between them.
    The method of learning by reflection and testing obviously applies most of all in the reflectings' 4th sector: mathematics, sciences, etc. By the term "reflection" I do mean to allude to memory, recognition, recollection, etc.; one sees something that reminds one of something and this leads to experiment and discovery. Hear for example Lisa Randall discussing memory starting at 0:27:27 in an interview on The Deep End (TheLipTV) published Jun 17, 2013.

    Again, within each sector of a realm, the learning method associated with the same numeric label has some special added degree of application. E.g., learning by appreciation & emulation has a special added degree of application in the affective arts, even though they more basically are reflective knowledges than valuantial devotions.

    Note on the four sectors into which each realm is shown as divided: The common themes of each first sector, each second sector, etc., are as follows, with examples from activities of human subsistence:
    1. Appropriation,
    adoption,
    control.

    Example: Catching or gathering of food.
    2. Processing,
    production,
    adaptation.

    Example: Preparing of food.
    3. Consumption,
    expression,
    conversion.

    Example: Presentation & consumption of food.
    4. Rumination,
    digestion,
    assimilation.

    Example: Digestion of, and reflection on, food.

    The above classifications of human concerns are something at which I mostly arrived in the 1990s if not earlier; I posted a version of it at this link.

    Here is a list of the realms — and associated excellences:

    1. Strivage (striving or struggle as a general mode) — and determination, dedication (as mode of volition or conation).
    2. Practice — and skill, craft, technical art, technê.
    3. Valuing — and devotion.
    4. Reflection — and (fallibilistic) knowledge.

    Now, Aristotle associates skill, technê, etc., with making or production per se rather than with doing or practice per se. However, he mainly considers productive practice as practice, and wise political practice, for example, as practice productive of justice. But political practice is not mainly and directly aimed at production in any usual sense. There are what one might call potitive practices — that is, practices of taking charge or being in charge or being put in charge (or under another's charge), acquisition, management, regulation, compliance, etc. Besides potitive and productive practices, there are practices of consumption, expression, satisfaction; and what one might call digestive or ruminative practices — practices of study and investigation. Excellence, in a narrow sense, at any such practices is usually regarded as skill, competence, etc. For the guidance of practice, Aristotle sees phronêsis, a kind of prudence, due caution, or more generally foresight, sometimes translated as practical wisdom. One ends up with two pairs of conceptions: those of practice and practical wisdom, and those of production and skill. But in fact there is a productive wisdom; we call it know-how, the productive sciences or arts, especially the disciplines of engineering and medicine. As for productive excellence in general, I lack a an evocative word for it, but its modes include: strivagic dedication to the productive; skill at the productive; care-how, i.e., appreciational devotion to the productive; and, again, know-how, i.e., wisdom or knowledge as to the productive.

    Aristotle sees practical wisdom as guiding wise politics as well, and it does contribute guidance. But insofar as politics (and conflict generally), along with competitive business and other things, are forms of striving or struggle, where primacy, control, etc., are at stake, as opposed to practice in a narrow sense, where primacy, etc., is mostly not at stake, the strivagic or luctational or "battlefield" wisdom is more a kind of shrewdness (not uncombined with vision) about what is feasible or optimal, than a foresight about what is likely, shrewdness involving in particular some restraint of zeal, shrewdness as sôphrosynê in a sense: knowing when to fight and when not to fight, knowing feasible costs and benefits, etc.

    In addition to strivagic and practical wisdoms, one can conceive of valuational and reflective wisdoms. Following the pattern:

    Strivagic wisdom — a kind of shrewdness, including due restraint.
    Practical wisdom — a kind of foresight, including due caution.
    Valuative wisdom — a kind of percipience or insight, including due recoil from the harmful;
    Reflective wisdom — a kind of familiarity or experiencedness, including due opposition to continuation or repetition of past ills or mistakes.

    Arguably I've conceived of practice in a narrower way than Aristotle did. Maybe I should say "practition" for the narrower sense, and "practice" as encompassing both practition and strivage.

    Anyway, now I come to a point of some interest. The distinction between doing or practice, on one hand, and making or production, on the other, is easily extended to other modes. In terms of the causal principle (agent, patient, etc.), Aristotle's distinction is less between modes of agens than between modes of patiens in the sense of gerens or ferens — carrying out, bringing, etc.
    agens: strivage versus potition (taking charge, etc.)
    patiens: practice versus production
    actum: valuing versus consumption, expression, satisfaction
    passum: reflection versus rumination, digestion, assimilation.

    That makes me think that I should say something like recognition in the places where I've spoken of reflection. Reflection seems hardly distinguishable from rumination in particular. But the word "recognition" is so overworked, what with both psychological and philosophical senses. Ah, well.

    And, yes, I know that the Latin word agens refers to a doer and that the Latin word faciens refers to a maker. But I am thinking in terms of the philosophical ideas referenced by those words, and not only of the words' conventional meanings.

    Maybe I'll add more to this later.

    First posted on Monday, December 13, 2010:
    Methods of inquiry
    Recentest significant change: September 17, 2013.

    Charles Sanders Peirce defined inquiry as any struggle to move from troublesome doubt to a secure belief, and outlined four methods, ordered from least to most successful.
    See "The Fixation of Belief" (1877):
    via peirce.org; via Arisbe;
    via Google
    The following numbered paragraphs are taken mostly from the summary that I wrote at Wikipedia in various articles there:
    1. The method of tenacity (policy of sticking to initial belief) — which brings comforts and decisiveness but leads to trying to ignore contrary information and others' views as if truth were intrinsically private, not public. The method goes against the social impulse and easily falters since one may well notice when another's opinion seems as good as one's own initial opinion. Its successes can be brilliant but tend to be transitory.
    2. The method of authority — which overcomes disagreements but sometimes brutally. Its successes can be majestic and long-lived, but it cannot regulate people thoroughly enough to withstand doubts indefinitely, especially when people learn about other societies present and past.
    3. The method of the a priori — which promotes conformity less brutally but fosters opinions as something like tastes, arising in conversation and comparisons of perspectives in terms of "what is agreeable to reason." Thereby it depends on fashion in paradigms and goes in circles over time. It is more intellectual and respectable but, like the first two methods, sustains accidental and capricious beliefs, destining some minds to doubt it. (Corrected April 10 2013.)
    4. The method of science — the method wherein inquiry supposes a discoverable reality independent of particular opinion — the method, then, wherein inquiry, by its own account, can go wrong (fallibilism) as well as right (no radical skepticism) and thus purposely tests itself and criticizes, corrects, and improves itself. No destined doubts of the scientific method as such arise from its practice.
    The method of authority, as outlined by Peirce, is the method of power and coercion. Extortion sometimes involves coercion, but shades into bribery, corruption, and expedience or convenience. From force-ism to materialism. Then there is the fashionable, the glamorous, the charming or charismatic, in the swing — this seems to include Peirce's method of the a priori. Finally there is the status-oriented, the standing-based - sophistic, often cocksure, self-deceptive and sometimes consciously deceptive. So I arrive at four non-scientific methods of inquiry, two of which match two of Peirce's. I don't have a way in this four-fold to accommodate that which Peirce called the method of tenacity. That's for another day, or year. Update April 10, 2013: I now think that the method of tenacity flows most naturally into the method of wealth (resources, ways & means). One keeps practicing a belief (tenacious practice and repetition make perfect, no?), putting one's resources into it, keeps "buying and selling" it. If people don't buy the claim, one sweetens the deal (if one can and needs to do so) and gets "yes men." But I admit that I still don't think that it's the same thing. End of update.
    Inquiry method:Applying it to oneself, to others, consciously or unconsciously:
    Method of authority, power, coercion.Power-dependent or power-enhancing belief. Joining or submitting to the power in order to gain or keep power (what little of it one may have). Recruiting or coercing others.
    Method of wealth, means, the "financial method."Wealth-dependent or affluent belief. "Selling out" (in the bad sense). Paying or seeking to pay a wrongful price (of belief) in order to gain or keep means or wealth. Corrupting or extorting others. (One is reminded of the misprint "The Taxation of Belief" in the T.O.C. of the 1st edition of Chance, Love and Logic.)
    Method of fashion, wattage, glamour or glory.Fashionable belief. Manipulating oneself. Seeking to be manipulated, seduced. Manipulating and luring others. Rhetoric in the bad sense. Manipulative taunting and ridicule of opponents.
    Method of status, standing. Status-dependent or status-enhancing belief. E.g., status of the persuader as what is persuasive. (This is what is often meant by the appeal to authority, argumentum ad verecundiam, literally the argument to modesty or respect for another) Deceiving oneself. Cocksureness. Sophistry. Seeking to be deceived and to deceive others. Fraud. Fraudulant demotion of opponents to low status and obscurity.

    Thus the familiar force/fraud twofold becomes a fourfold, on the pattern of other fours.

    Wrongs.Causal terms of
    intelligent beings.
    Realms of nature.Tetrazed principles
    of the Four Causes.
    1.Coercion, wrongful force (including that in theft, stealthy or otherwise).Will.Forces.Agent.
    2.Extortion, wrongful exploitation, corruption. (The non-deliberate version affecting a person, say, alone on an island, would consist in some imposition on that person's ability by the character of the resources there, especially such as to result in the person's doing something that s/he would otherwise refuse to do.) Ability.Matter.Bearer.
    3.Wrongful manipulation (wrongful luring, incitement, lulling, etc.).Affectivity.Life.Act.
    4.Fraud, wrongful deceit (including wrongful stealth, e.g., in theft).Cognition.Mind.Borne.
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