Sunday, January 29, 2017

Ascended Comments: Mathematics, not Wittgenstein
"The key insight of Wittgenstein is that speech is a kind of a game. You agree on a set of rules, e.g. that the word “apple” stands for a certain kind of fruit, and you agree to use that word to refer to that fruit."
But you don't need to read Witty, you only need to have done some math.

In math, we let x = 3. Or let x = tangent to the curve, or let x = all primes > 0 and < 1 000 000. Then, in the next problem, we change our minds and let x = cos(y). (You may notice they were doing this before the 1950s.)

We also find calling it 'x' is arbitrary. We can call it z, or potatoes, or phi, or draw little snowmen. Let [drawing of statue of liberty] = the unknown rate of change.

Then, I start doing philosophy. It turns out math is a language, English is a language, and expressions in languages play by the same rules.
Let 'justice' mean 'good things happens to good folk, bad things happen to bad folk, and not the reverse.'
Let 'justice' mean 'black folk have generally higher social status than white folk.' (Hence 'social' justice.)
Sure dude, whatevs.

But once so defined, what the label means is not arbitrary. If we let x = 1 and then try to divide by (x - 1), we can't say we're not dividing by zero. Expressions play by rules such as [no div0], and when we make other rules for ourselves, such as [x = 1], we have to play by those rules too.

We can make 'justice' be the label for anything we want, but the meaning of what it labels is not up to us. The double bump shape of '3' is also just a label, but the actual grouping of three objects we label with '3' is a true meaning. The purpose of justice is to make a robust and prosperous society. Only one possible choice of a 'just' society is robust and prosperous.

If I try to let x = dividing by zero is allowed, all I did is a dumb. If I try to let 'justice' mean that second definition leads to prosperity, all I did is a dumb.

"Epistemology is hard."
Epistemology is easy, but antisocial.