Dialectical monism in Aztec philosophy

224px-Dualmasktlatilco

It is worth mentioning a form of dialectical monism in the ancient Aztec philosophy and especially in the concept of ” Teotl “, which is at the center of Aztec metaphysics and cosmology. Teotl is the expression of an endless alternation of continuous and cyclical oscillation between opposite poles. Teotl is thus characterized by a dual prominent structure, which results from the union of opposites , themselves characterized by complementarity. The dual pairs involved include : the masculine and the feminine, dark and light, order and disorder, hot and cold, life and death, being and non-being etc. The interdependence and higher union of the principles of life and death in Teotl, for example, was represented by Aztec artists of Tlatilco and Oaxaca in masks where one half is alive while the other half died, revealing the skull bones.

Reference: James Maffie, Aztec Philosophy, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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Viewpoint of a pole

Fig3Let us define the concept of point of view related to a given pole of an A/Ā duality: we get then, for example (at the level of the extension/restriction duality) the standpoint by extension, as well as the viewpoint by restriction. Similarly, the qualitative viewpoint or perspective results from it, as well as the quantitative point of view, etc.. (at the level of the qualitative/quantitative duality). Thus, when considering a given object o (either a concrete or an abstract object such as a proposition or a reasoning), we may consider it in relation to various dualities, and at the level of the latter, relative to each of its two dual poles.

The underlying idea inherent to the viewpoint relative to a given duality, or to a given pole of a duality, is that each of the two poles of the same duality, all things being equal, deserve an equal legitimacy. In this sense, if we consider an object o in terms of a duality A/Ā, one should not favour one of the poles with respect to the other. To obtain an objective point of view with respect to a given duality A/Ā, one should place oneself in turn from the perspective of the pole A, and then from that of the pole Ā. For an approach that would only address the viewpoint of one of the two poles would prove to be partial and truncated. The fact of considering in turn the perspective of the two poles, in the study of an object o and of its associated reference class allows to avoid a subjective approach and to meet as much as possible the needs of objectivity.

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Principle of dialectical indifference

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(Illustration from Wikimedia commons)

(PRINCIPLE OF DIALECTICAL INDIFFERENCE) When considering a given object o and the reference class E associated with it, from the angle of duality A/Ā, all things being equal, it should be given equal weight to the viewpoint of the A pole and the viewpoint of the Ā pole.

The principle of dialectical indifference can be enunciated as follows: if we consider an object o under the angle of a given A/Ā duality, there is no reason to favour the viewpoint from A with regard to the viewpoint from Ā, and unless otherwise resulting from the context, we must weigh equally the viewpoints A and Ā. A direct consequence of this principle is that if one considers the perspective of the A pole, one also needs to take into consideration the standpoint of the opposite pole Ā (and vice versa). The need to consider both points of view, the one resulting from the A pole and the other associated with the Ā pole, meets the need of analysing the object o and the reference class associated with it from an objective point of view. This goal is achieved, as far as possible, by taking into account the complementary points of view which are those of the poles A and Ā. Each of these viewpoints has indeed, with regard to a given duality A/Ā, an equal relevance. Under such circumstances, when only the A pole or (exclusively) the pole Ā is considered, it consists then of a one-sided perspective. Conversely, the viewpoint which results from the synthesis of the standpoints corresponding to both poles A and Ā is of a two-sided type. Basically, this approach proves to be dialectical in essence. In effect, the step consisting of successively analysing the complementary views relative to a given reference class, is intended to allow, in a subsequent step, a final synthesis, which results from the joint consideration of the viewpoints corresponding to both poles A and Ā. In the present construction, the process of confronting the different perspectives relevant to an A/Ā duality is intended to build cumulatively, a more objective and comprehensive standpoint than the one, necessarily partial, resulting from taking into account those data that stem from only one of the two poles.

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The Simulation Argument and the Reference Class Problem: the Dialectical Contextualist’s Standpoint

chap31Preprint. I present in this paper an analysis of the Simulation argument from a dialectical contextualist standpoint. This analysis is grounded on the reference class problem. I begin with describing Bostrom’s Simulation Argument step-by-step. I identify then the reference class within the Simulation argument. I also point out a reference class problem, by applying the argument successively to several references classes: aware-simulations, rough simulations and cyborg-type simulations. Finally, I point out that there are three levels of conclusion within the Simulation Argument, depending on the chosen reference class, that yield each final conclusions of a fundamentally different nature.

This preprint supersedes my preceding work on the Simulation argument. Please do not cite previous work.

Comments are welcome.

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December 2016: An updated version of my analysis of the Simulation Argument has appeared in the canadian Philosophiques journal (in French) under the
title: L’argument de la Simulation et le problème de la classe de référence : le point de vue du contextualisme dialectique

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Elements of Dialectical Contextualism

Paolo_Veronese - DialecticsPosprint in English (with additional illustrations) of  an article appeared in French in the collective book (pages 581-608) written on the occasion of the 60th birthday of Pascal Engel.

In what follows, I strive to present the elements of a philosophical doctrine, which can be defined as dialectical contextualism. I proceed first to define the elements of this doctrine: dualities and polar contraries, the principle of dialectical indifference and the one-sidedness bias. I emphasize then the special importance of this doctrine in one specific field of meta-philosophy: the methodology for solving philosophical paradoxes. Finally, I describe several applications of this methodology on the following paradoxes: Hempel’s paradox, the surprise examination paradox and the Doomsday Argument.

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Elements of Dialectical Contextualism

In what follows, I will endeavour to present the elements of a specific philosophical doctrine, which can be defined as dialectical contextualism. I will try first to clarify the elements that characterise this doctrine, especially the dualities and dual poles, the principle of dialectical indifference and the one-sidedness bias. I will proceed then to describe its interest at a meta-philosophical level, especially as a methodology to assist in the resolution of philosophical paradoxes. Finally, I will describe an application of this methodology to the analysis of the following philosophical paradoxes: Hempel’s paradox , the surprise examination paradox and the Doomday Argument.

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A Two-Sided Ontological Solution to the Sleeping Beauty Problem

eub-sbPreprint published on the PhilSci archive.

I describe in this paper an ontological solution to the Sleeping Beauty problem. I begin with describing the hyper-entanglement urn experiment. I restate first the Sleeping Beauty problem from a wider perspective than the usual opposition between halfers and thirders. I also argue that the Sleeping Beauty experiment is best modelled with the hyper-entanglement urn. I draw then the consequences of considering that some balls in the hyper-entanglement urn have ontologically different properties from normal ones. In this context, drawing a red ball (a Monday-waking) leads to two different situations that are assigned each a different probability, depending on whether one considers “balls-as-colour” or “balls-as-object”. This leads to a two-sided account of the Sleeping Beauty problem.

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A Two-Sided Ontological Solution to the Sleeping Beauty Problem

1. The hyper-entanglement urn

Let us consider the following experiment. In front of you is an urn. The experimenter asks you to study very carefully the properties of the balls that are in the urn. You go up then to the urn and begin to examine its content carefully. You notice first that the urn contains only red or green balls. By curiosity, you decide to take a sample of a red ball in the urn. Surprisingly, you notice that while you pick up this red ball, another ball, but a green one, also moves simultaneously. You decide then to replace the red ball in the urn and you notice that immediately, the latter green ball also springs back in the urn. Intrigued, you decide then to catch this green ball. You notice then that the red ball also goes out of the urn at the same time. Furthermore, while you replace the green ball in the urn, the red ball also springs back at the same time at its initial position in the urn. You decide then to withdraw another red ball from the urn. But while it goes out of the urn, nothing else occurs. Taken aback, you decide then to undertake a systematic and rigorous study of all the balls in the urn.

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A Polar Concept Argument for the Existence of Abstracta

Preprint. In this paper, I present a polar concept argument for the existence of abstract objects. After recalling the fundamentals of the debate about the existence of abstracta, I present in a detailed way the argument for the existence of abstracta. I offer two different variations of the argument: one, deductive and the other, inductive. The argument rests primarily on the fact that our universe is well-balanced. This well-balanced property results from the fact that all instantiable polar dualities are instantiated. Hence, the abstract pole of the abstract/concrete duality must also be exemplified. Lastly, I review several objections that can be raised against the present argument.

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A Polar Concept Argument for the Existence of Abstracta

There are several famous problems about abstract entities. One of them consists of whether there exist any abstract objects. A second issue is concerned with the definition of which sorts of entities are genuinely abstract. A third issue relates to whether the abstract/concrete duality is exhaustive or not. The purpose of this paper is to address the first of these issues and to describe a polar concept argument that entails the existence of abstracta. Before stating the argument in detail and reviewing several objections that can be raised against it, it is worth recalling preliminarily the fundamentals of the debate about the existence of abstracta.

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Theory of Cognitive Distortions: Over-generalisation and Labeling

English translation of a paper published in French in the Journal de Thérapie Comportementale et Cognitive, 2009, 19-4, pages 136-140 under the title “Théorie des distorsions cognitives : la sur-généralisation et l’étiquetage”.

In a previous article (Complements to a theory of cognitive distorsions, Journal de Thérapie Comportementale et Cognitive, 2007), we introduced some elements aimed at contributing to a general theory of cognitive distortions. Based on the reference class, the duality and the system of taxa, these elements allow to define the general cognitive distortions as well as the specific cognitive distortions. This model is extended here to the description of two other classical cognitive distortions: over-generalisation and mislabelling. The definition of the two latter cognitive distortions is based on prior differentiation between three levels of reasoning: primary, secondary and ternary pathogenic arguments. The latter analysis also leads to define two other cognitive distortions which insert themselves into this framework: ill-grounded inductive projection and confirmation bias.

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Theory of Cognitive Distortions: Personalisation

English translation of a paper published in French in the Journal de Thérapie Comportementale et Cognitive, 2010, 20-2, pages 51-55 under the title “Théorie des distorsions cognitives : la personnalisation”.

In a previous paper (Complements to a theory of cognitive distorsionsJournal de Thérapie Comportementale et Cognitive, 2007), we did present some elements aimed at contributing to a general theory of cognitive distortions. Based on the reference class, the duality and the system of taxa, these elements led to distinguish between the general cognitive distortions (dichotomous reasoning, disqualification of one pole, minimisation, maximisation) and the specific cognitive distortions (disqualifying the positive, selective abstraction, catastrophism). By also distinguishing between three levels of reasoning – the instantiation stage, the interpretation stage and the generalisation stage – we did also define two other cognitive distortions: over-generalisation and mislabelling (Théorie des distorsions cognitives : la sur-généralisation et l’étiquetageJournal de Thérapie Comportementale et Cognitive, 2009). We currently extend this model to another classical cognitive distortion: personalisation.

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Theory of Cognitive Distortions: Application to Generalised Anxiety Disorder

grad-tag4-bw-bakEnglish translation and postprint (with additional illustrations) of a paper published in French under the title “Théorie des distorsions cognitives : application à l’anxiété généralisée” in the Journal de Thérapie Comportementale et Cognitive, 2008, 18, pp. 127-131.
This article follows the contribution to the general theory of cognitive distortions exposed in “Complements to a theory of cognitive distorsions” (Journal de Thérapie Comportementale et Cognitive, 2007). The elements described, namely the reference class, the duality and the system of taxa, are applied here to generalised anxiety disorder. On the one hand, these elements allow to describe the cognitive distortions which are specific to generalised anxiety disorder, consistent with recent work emphasising the role played uncertain situations relative to future events. On the second hand, they allow to define a type of structured reasoning, of inductive nature, which leads to the formation and maintenance of anxious ideas.

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