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Author Topic: Emergent Probability  (Read 22281 times)

Richard Moodey

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Re: Emergent Probability
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2012, 09:08:41 AM »
Hi Mounce,

Let me break your question down into two parts: what do I think about events? what do I think about the "determinate character" of events?

what do I think about events?
I think of events in terms of Whitehead's terms "actual occasion," "prehension," and "concrescence." Actual occasions are concrete, and have duration and volume.  I agree with him that this is preferable to saying the events occur at a "point" in time and a "point" in space.  I do not deny, however, that for the purpose of some mathematical calculations, it is useful to treat events "as if" they occur at a "point"  in an abstractly conceived space-time continuum.  But Whitehead argues that rather than "containers" for events, space and time are constituted by the volumes and durations of events.

Prehension signifies the way an actual occasion "grabs backward," incorporating prior events into itself.  Concrescence points at the same process, but from a "moving forward" perspective.  Immediately past events concresce or "grow together" to constitute a present event.

I studied Whitehead only after I had been working for a couple of decades with Lonergan's notion of emergent probability, and found them to be consistent enough for my purposes.   It is possible that a genuine scholar of either Whitehead or Lonergan would be able to point out inconsistencies, but I am primarily a sociologist who thinks that sociological work requires me to engage in philosophical reflections.

A further addition to my thinking about events came with my reading of Lakoff and Johnson's Philosophy in the Flesh.   They present the following basic structure for an event:

Initial State: Whatever is required for the event is satisfied
Start: The starting up process for the event
End of Start: The end of the starting up process and the beginning of the main process
Main Process: The central aspects of the event
Possible Interruptions: Disruptions of the main process
Possible Continuation or Iteration: The perpetuation or repetition of the main process
Resultant State: The state resulting from the main process (p. 176)

They argue that this is how a person thinks about his own bodily movement, and that we think about events in the world by using bodily movement as the source domain for thinking metaphorically about other kinds of events.  Again, I don't find this inconsistent with either Lonergan or Whitehead.

what do I think about the "determinate character" of events?
There are two parts to my answer.  First, when an event occurs, it has a determinate character.  It is this economic exchange between thisbuyer and this seller on this day in this store.  It is also determine in that on the previous day the probability that this determinate event would occur was less than 1.  Once the buyer had left home intending to buy this article, say a "left-handed monkey wrench," the probability increased, but was still less than one.  When this store manager in this town decided to stock left-handed monkey wrenches, that was a prior event that increased the probability of the event occuring, and when this clerk went to work in this store on this day that further increased the probability of the event.  When the probability of the event reached 1, the event occurred; each actual occasion is determined to occur once its probability of occurence is 1.  Second, We create conceptual categories within which we put events.  We would probably all put the event I just described into the category of an economic event.  If the buyer had gone to Mass before setting out on his shopping trip, we wold probably all put his participation at Mass into the category of a religious event.  If he had eaten breakfast with his wife and children before going to Mass, we might have put that into the category of a family event, but an economist might put it into the economic category as an act of consumption. 

My point is that all actual occasions are "determinate events," but that to categorize an event as one kind of event rather than another, I have to have a set of categories to which I can assign events.  This relates to what I said in my post on "data construction" as my name for what Lonergan called "research."  I construct data by assigning events to categories.  When the categories to which I assign events consist of the cardinal or ordinal number scales, I often call this "measurement."

Best regards,
Dick 


 
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

mounce

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Re: Emergent Probability
« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2012, 09:28:47 PM »
Wow, thanks Dick, thanks for everything here.  I think Lonergan's understanding was a little simpler, but that's as far as my criticism goes. 

I like that feature of dialectic where L says the result modifies what came before, and the determinate beginning doesn't obstruct that interesting dynamic result.  And yes, the body is intimately involved in an *a priori* understanding of space and time (a quote on Kant from Hamann  regarding the, "Metacritique of the Purism of Reason" which I will actually post here as an event on which you can depend!).  I can't help taking this "occasion" as an "event," where my stated determinate desire is to continue carving hares (for dinner-you're invited!).

In any case, I appreciate these new words: concrescence and prehension.  I obviously like your conclusion that you call this measurement, because, of course,  "Lonergan called," "I... assign," we all collect data, be intelligent, responsibly act, etc. yours, Doug
 

mounce

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Re: Emergent Probability (in terms of space and time)
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2012, 05:59:42 PM »
As promised...

"If then a chief question indeed still remains - how is the faculty of thought possible?(1)  the faculty to think right and left, before and without, with and beyond experience? - then no deduction is needed to demonstrate the genealogical priority of language, and its heraldry, over the seven holy functions of logical propositions and inferences.(2)  Not only is the entire faculty of thought founded on language, according to the unrecognized prophecies and slandered miracles of the very commendable Samuel Heinicke,(3) but language is also the centerpoint of reason's misunderstanding with itself,(4) partly because of the frequent coincidence of the greatest and the smallest concept, its vacuity and its plenitude in ideal propositions, partly because of the infinite [advantage] of rhetorical over inferential figures, and much more of the same.

"Sounds and letters are therefore forms *a priori,*(5) in which nothing belonging to the sensation(6) or concept of an object is found; they are the true, aesthetic elements of all human knowledge and reason.  The oldest language was music, and along with the palpable rhythm of the pulse and of the breath in the nostrils, it was the original bodily image of all temporal measures and intervals.  The oldest writing was painting and drawing, and therefore was occupied as early as then with the economy of space, its limitations and determination(7) by figures.  Thence, under the exuberant persistent influence of the two noblest senses sight and hearing, the concepts of space and time have made themselves so universal and necessary in the whole sphere of understanding (just as light and air are for the eye, ear, and voice) that as a result space and time, if not *ideae innatae,* seem to be at least *matrices* of all intuitive knowledge.(8)

(1) Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, A xvii: "For the chief question is always simply this: - what and how much can the understanding and reason know apart from experience? not: - how is the faculty of thought possible?"
(2) Kant identifies twelve logical functions of the understanding in judgment (A 70 = B 95), arranged under four heads, each in three moments (perhaps Hamann added the four heads and three moments to yield seven, a numerological indication of perfection).
(3) Samuel Heinicke (1727-90) founded the first school for the deaf an dumb in Germany in 1778.  Heinicke insisted on the priority of the spoken language for both deaf and hearing people.
(4) For Kant, not language but errors in the non-empirical employment of reason set "reason at variance with itself"; he claims to have solved the problem by "locating the point at which, through misunderstanding, reason comes into conflict with itself" (A xii).
(5) For Kant, space and time are the pure forms; see A 22 ( B 36): "there are two pure forms of sensible intuition, service as principles of *a priori* knowledge, namely, space and time."
(6) A 20 (B 34): "I term all representations pure...in which there is nothing that belongs to sensation."
(7) A 32 (B 48): "every determinate magnitude of time is possible only through limitations of one single time that underlies it."
(8) The theory of innate ideas was opposed to the theory of the "tabular rassa," the blank slate. "Matrices" are wombs.

--quoted from Kenneth Haynes translation, Metacritique on the Purism of Reason, Georg Hamann

Richard Moodey

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Re: Emergent Probability
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2012, 03:00:51 PM »
Hi Mounce,
This quotation from Kant causes me to be aware of my philosophical limitations.  I have had courses in which Kant's critiques have been explained, have read some things by Kant and some things about Kant, but he does not speak to me.  I find him more readable than Heidegger, for example, but that's not saying much.  When I read Plato, Aristotle, Lonergan, Polanyi, or Whitehead, doors open up that promise to lead to interesting journeys.  When I read Kant, doors seem to close.  I feel shut in, with no paths to follow.
Best regards,
Dick
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

mounce

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Re: Emergent Probability
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2012, 10:17:20 AM »
no problem Dick, maybe we'll raise Heidegger in terms of Ricouer's interpretation of Augustine's view on time (whew!)  I'll just-mention that this is not a Kant quote, but a critique of Kant by his acquaintance Hamann, and Hamann is like the late Maxim Faust who tended to force a personal experience with every reader.  cheers!