Hypotheses non fingo | Chemiotics II

"But shouldn't sense and nonsense be looked for in nature rather than in mere conventions?" That would obliterate the distinction between the concepts 'sense and nonsense' and 'true and false'; by definition the distinction between sense and nonsense belongs to conventions, truth and falsity to statements about reality. Prior to the question of whether a statement is true or false is the question of whether the statement is sense or nonsense.

Even the great Newton could not free himself from this error (

These examples are, of course, not the point of this notation. The point is to force us when we are thinking about philosophical problems to ask whether we are using language to talk about something other than language itself. Am I talking about the River Ota or am I only giving a definition of the word 'flows'? This is the essential question to ask especially in the context of philosophy, although in many instances using this notation, rather than making anything clearer, will become just one more way of confusing ourselves.


Posts about Hypotheses non fingo written by luysii

Where our language suggests a body and there is none: there, we would like to say, is a spirit. ( § 36)

to this paradoxical situation,ought to remind us of the spectacle created, if a biological instructor were toassure his students, that we do not yet have any statistical certainty that theevolutionary development of cognitive human life might be probable. So, inresponse to a proof of the existence of a type of relationship which hismathematics viciously excludes, the formalist proposes that we go to theblackboard, to demonstrate that this relationship might be derived from withinthe terms of that mathematics! The fraudulent mathematical definition of "negativeentropy," as famously supplied by the late Professor Norbert Wiener, is acelebrated example of such pathetic posturing by a reductionist.


Non-Newtonian Mathematics - Schiller Institute

A rare case of Kantian irony, it seems. Already in this early text,Kant has clearly broken with his predecessors both in England and onthe Continent, who insisted on disputing Newton's theory of universalgravity, either on metaphysical or theological grounds. Instead,Kant's work will be predicated on that theory. But Kant never becamean orthodox Newtonian, any more than an orthodox Leibnizian (orWolffian). This is evident from the radically different fates of twoclassic Newtonian concepts within the Kantian system: the idea thatthe theory of universal gravity shows that gravity is a feature ofmaterial bodies, along with the related concept of action at adistance, on the one hand; and absolute space, on the other. Thequotation from 1763 above indicates that Kant was willing to endorseNewton's theory of universal gravity, despite the many objectionsraised against it by his Leibnizian predecessors. Indeed, he was alsowilling to accept the most radical interpretation of that theory, oneaccording to which every material body in the world should beunderstood as bearing a feature called gravity, one that involves thatbody in actions at a distance on all other such bodies. As Kant putsit dramatically in Proposition 7 of the second chapter ofMetaphysical Foundations of Natural Science: “Theattraction essential to all matter is an immediate action of matter onother matter through empty space” (Kant 1786/2002: 223; AK 4:512). This view is radical in two senses: first, it involves thehighly controversial claim that gravity is essential to matter, whichindicates that a body lacking gravitational interactions would fail tocount as a material entity at all (much as an earlier generation ofphilosophers would conceive of extension as essential to matter); andsecond, it also involves the debated idea that material bodies act ata distance on one another. One can conceivably endorse the latterwithout endorsing the former, contending, e.g., that although materialbodies in the actual world act at a distance on one another, perhapsbecause of a divine plan, it is perfectly possible formaterial bodies to fail to do so under distinct worldly conditions(i.e., there may be possible worlds in which material bodies lackgravity altogether). That is, the endorsement of action at a distancedoes not entail the endorsement of the essentiality claim. Both ideasare controversial, and Kant strongly endorses them both. This placedhim in a rather select group of radical Newtonians (Friedman 1992: 1note 2). Kant himself understood that Newton may not have endorsedthese controversial views, arguing that he was inconsistent on thisscore (see Remark 2 to Proposition 7 of chapter 2, AK 4: 514–16;Friedman 2012: 203–21; Friedman 1990). And yet Kant stronglyresisted the other most controversial Newtonian idea, absolute space,along with the related idea of absolute motion (Friedman 2012:35–42). In the Critique of Pure Reason, for instance,Kant expressed a basically Leibnizian sympathy by arguing that thereare fundamental metaphysical (and perhaps epistemic) difficulties withthinking of space as existing independently of all objects and allpossible relations among them, as “actual entities“(wirkliche Wesen—A23/B37) in their own right. Hedoes so in a passage that (perhaps confusingly) characterizes theLeibnizians as also defending a kind of realism about space, but wecan focus solely on his criticism of the Newtonians:

Take the famous “Hypotheses non fingo,” which ..

I will attempt to provide an explanation of the originof the world system according to the general laws of mechanics, not anexplanation of the entire natural order, but only of the great massesof matter and their orbits, which constitute the most crudestfoundation of nature … I will presuppose the universalgravitation of matter according to Newton or his followers inthis project. If there are any who believe that through a definitionof metaphysics formulated according to their own taste they canannihilate the conclusions established by men of perspicacity on thebasis of observation and by means of mathematical inference—ifthere are such persons, they can skip the following propositions assomething which has only a remote bearing on the main aim of thisessay. (Kant 1763: AK 2: 139)