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Mises and Rothbard vs the Philosopher's

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Esuric Posted: Sat, Dec 12 2009 11:19 PM

I'm writing a paper about some philosopher named Richard Rorty. He believes that truth is illusory and only refers to specific societal norms; essentially, he's a historicist. I'm going to write about Aristotelian essentialism, how logic and rationality are the essential characteristics of humanity (through all cultures and in all times), and how this manifests itself in society (society is the effect and not the cause). Furthermore, I'm going to mention some universal institutions which have emerged, such as language and money. But the paper is long, and I need to fill in some space, so I was wondering if anyone could direct me towards a few quotes, by either Mises or Rothbard, supporting my argument.

It would also be really helpful if you could give me the title of the book/article, the publisher, and the date.

Thanks in advance.

"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."

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AJ replied on Sun, Dec 13 2009 9:22 AM

From Human Action (4th Ed.), pg. 36: "It is a general fallacy to believe that the writings of Lucien Levy-Bruhl [guy who studied cognition in ancient/primitive cultures] give support to the doctrine that the logical structure of mind of primitive man was and is categorially different from that of civilized man. On the contrary, what Levy-Bruhl, on the basis of a careful scrutiny of the entire ethnological material available, reports about the mental functions of primitive man proves clearly that the fundamental logical relations and the categories of thought and action play in the intellectual activities of savages the same role they play in our own life. The content of primitive man’s thoughts differs from the content of our thoughts, but the formal and logical structure is common to both."

And there is a bit more discussion of similar topics around there.

Also, it seems apparent to me that without logical thinking ability, primitive man could not have survived. For example, without deduction, if a man is being chased by three cheetahs in the dark and he knows he has only speared two of them, if there is now silence how does he make the decision whether to keep running or attempt to fight? Process of elimination. He needs the same representational system that lets a child solve this very simple logic puzzle: "I'm thinking of a number, either 1, 2, or 3. It's not 1 and it's not 2. What is it?" Our systems of logic are either innate (nature) or are built up by a process of trial and error as we develop (nurture), and probably both (nature and nurture).

To see why the latter is plausible, consider: is the logical representation system in your own mind any more sophisticated, efficient, and precise after having spent a few years studying advanced math? After having to conceptualize the notion of an infinite series of numbers adding up to a finite quantity? After learning about infinity and then "bigger infinities"? After thinking about infinite-dimensional spaces?

I certainly think so. Whereas at first your ways of conceptualizing numbers and infinities may have been very inefficient and haphazard, succeeding in math forced you to scrap and/or refine those representational systems in your own mind to accommodate new concepts without introducing any ambiguity. If you had a flaw in your logical representation structure in your mind, that flaw would manifest itself in the form of wrong answers or lack of comprehension. In order to proceed beyond that area of math (which seems impossible at the time, but eventually you do), you MUST have had to fix that flaw in your logical representational system. Maybe it's still not perfect, but it's now serviceable enough to handle the subject at hand. And so on, as you move up in math, or whatever field - I chose math because it's a field of pure concepts.

Similarly, the trials and tribulations of everyday life force us to develop better and better representational systems for dealing with the logic of the real world. How much of it is inborn and how much is learned we can't know yet, but if the idea that "something cannot be both green and not green at the same time" (and the abstraction of that idea to " 'A and ~A' is impossible") is not hardwired into us, it is surely learned through trial and error pretty soon. Likewise with other of the cataloged formal logical operations. As you encounter each new situation, you can say with more and more accuracy, "Aha! This must an example of this logical concept." If reality proves consistent with your conclusion, you learn to trust that logical concept more. If reality proves you wrong, you either revise your logic or you continue to be wrong. But flawed logic doesn't just make you a fool, at the extreme it makes you dead.

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While this is not what you are asking for, I would suggest reading K. Popper's "On the Theory of the Objective Mind", which can be found in Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach.

Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found.

          - Edmund Burke

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Esuric replied on Sun, Dec 13 2009 2:20 PM

alright thanks. These papers are torture.

"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."

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Esuric:

I'm writing a paper about some philosopher named Richard Rorty. He believes that truth is illusory and only refers to specific societal norms; essentially, he's a historicist. I'm going to write about Aristotelian essentialism, how logic and rationality are the essential characteristics of humanity (through all cultures and in all times), and how this manifests itself in society (society is the effect and not the cause). Furthermore, I'm going to mention some universal institutions which have emerged, such as language and money. But the paper is long, and I need to fill in some space, so I was wondering if anyone could direct me towards a few quotes, by either Mises or Rothbard, supporting my argument.

It would also be really helpful if you could give me the title of the book/article, the publisher, and the date.

Thanks in advance.

Is it true that the truth is an illusion? GG Richard Rorty. Can your paper be 1 sentence long and a question?

 

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I'd do google searches of PDF searches of the mises and rothbard books which are online

historicism is probably a good keyword. Mises talks about how marxists and national socialists would talk about other logics and how they don't make any sense.

I'd also distinguish perhaps between two types of truth.

One is value - which is subjective

The other is reason / logic - which is objective

Rorty may be referring to subjective values as truth. So he'd be correct to say they aren't universal. You may find some values which tend to the universal, but there's almost certainly an empirical case of some tribe or famous person proving the value isn't universal.

Values could include - faith, taste, goals, instinct, assumptions. They typically underly systems of thought and being foundational aren't necessarily open to analysis. However by showing the logical implications, 'by their fruits you shall know them,' 'garbage in, garbage out,' you can perhaps find ways of judging them, though ultimately you judge them by a 'higher standard' of other values. Also consider that Facts / The Empirical and Values are quite similar - facts underlay natural sciences, yet science will question 'facts' that don't make any sense and assume that the supposed fact is a misinterpretation of reality. Science has faith that the world makes a certain kind of sense - however magical thinking assumes a different world.

Reason / Logic applies to things like human action, math, praxeology, economics, implications, science, scholarship / wissenschaft, etc. It can be value free.

Does this make sense?

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Kudos for twistedbydsign99 pointing out the obvious. This is a great idea for your paper!

Is the Truth that Truth an illusion a universal or an illusory truth specific to Rorty?

Does Rorty essentially believe that the world isn't logical and coherent?

I'm curious if Rorty explains his position. Does he think there is only one Truth - that truth is illusory and only refers to specific societal norms? In which case he begs the question of if there's one why not more? Or does he believe his truth is not universal, in which case there might be other Truths that are universal.

It might be possible to demonstrate that certain Truths are not demonstrable as false or not true, but none the less we can't establish them as universal if someone has different values.

You might want to do a search on Estoppel on mises.org. Walter Block among others talks about estoppel (you can't contradict yourself) as a basis for equal rights / anarchism.

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Sieben replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 12:02 PM

Well... Rorty is a pragmatist. This isn't a moral view of pragmatism but a linguistic one. I.e. words are tools, and express things no fundamentally different from a hammer.

His view on truth is something like that it is just a "flag" that gets agents to accept prepositions. His book "the consequence of pragmatism" is pretty good for about the first 30 pages. I don't like his style much, but its a short read and a good overview of what/why he believes what he does.

Imo he's just a cruder version of AJ Ayer and GE Moore.

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I certainly don't know enough about the arguments in the field. I certainly though Nietzsche had good points that people have faith in grammar and assume that reflects reality, and that words are boxes in to which we put multiple concepts. Certainly the specifics of language seem pretty subjective and non-universal to me - we can communicate but not always very well.

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AJ replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 3:11 PM

Words are extremely blunt instruments. They are almost laughably ambiguous attempts at expressing inner concepts. Our inner representational systems are 1000s of times more powerful than the outer language we use. If it were not so, we'd be as dysfunctional as a thread where people are constantly talking past each other.

The fact that we don't think in words is key to just about everything, because most everyone mistakenly acts as if we do - either out of convenience or ignorance.

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Htut replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 5:04 PM

Esuric:

I'm writing a paper about some philosopher named Richard Rorty. He believes that truth is illusory and only refers to specific societal norms; essentially, he's a historicist. I'm going to write about Aristotelian essentialism, how logic and rationality are the essential characteristics of humanity (through all cultures and in all times), and how this manifests itself in society (society is the effect and not the cause). Furthermore, I'm going to mention some universal institutions which have emerged, such as language and money. But the paper is long, and I need to fill in some space, so I was wondering if anyone could direct me towards a few quotes, by either Mises or Rothbard, supporting my argument.

It would also be really helpful if you could give me the title of the book/article, the publisher, and the date.

Thanks in advance.

Rorty is a neo-pragmatist, a position which has a tendency to devolve into what I view as non-philosophy, IE the rejection of the possibility of meaningful reality. I am not an expert on him, but from what I have read it seems to be that he is very much in the veign of most 'post-modernists', his arguments are self-defeating and many of his premises are prima facie untrue.

“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.” - Proudhon

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Esuric replied on Thu, Dec 17 2009 6:19 PM

Htut:
Rorty is a neo-pragmatist, a position which has a tendency to devolve into what I view as non-philosophy, IE the rejection of the possibility of meaningful reality. I am not an expert on him, but from what I have read it seems to be that he is very much in the veign of most 'post-modernists', his arguments are self-defeating and many of his premises are prima facie untrue.

That's ultimately the conclusion I came to.

"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."

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