Attack on TS Argument

Metacrock's Blog: GDSB: Prolegomena part 2
Derrida 1930-2004

My old adversary 'I am Skeptical; (aka "Skepie") attacks my TS argent,[1] My last exposition of this argument was fairly recent on this blog.[2] Skepie opens:


 Joe Hinman has posted a new article defending his "Transcendental Signifier Argument". This is an argument for God that Joe has developed based on Jaques Derrida's philosophical concept of the "transcendent signified", and which I have criticized in a previous post of my own*. In my review of Joe's argument, I pointed out that the argument is not logically valid, and that it is based on a gross misunderstanding of Derrida's philosophy. 
Skepie doesn't know anything about Derrida. I studied Derrida with a professor who was a student of his in Paris,.  Skpie doesn't read most of the things he critiques. Which are you going to believe knows more about Derrida? Of course says nothing  specific about Derrida lest he demonstrate his ignorance.
 I'm not going to rehash all that here. But Joe has now provided more detail on what appears to be only the first two premises of his argument, and this alone is worthy of further discussion. As I read through this article again, I realize that although he only discusses the first two premises, he actually is is defending the entire argument, 
Duh! If you defend one premise you are defending the argument. I never said the things I posted were the whole cannon on that argument. I have written a book about it. I was posting stuff on two premises. I have more. There's nothing wrong with doing that. Skepie tries to make  it sound like  I'm pulling something; what exactly does he think  I pulling?  


because those two statements make his case in its entirety, and the rest are nothing more than intellectual fluffery.
Since he has not read the book he has no basis for that statement.  He can't be blamed for not reading an unpublished book, the publication is in the works. I have said enough about the argument, in other venue, however, that it should be clear there's more to it than just those two points,The laughable thing  is he has seen the seven premises in front of his face but can't see the importance of them, I know this because he quotes them below:

 I'll explain why. First, to put it in context, let me restate Hinman's entire argument, expressed as a syllogism: 
 1. Any rational, coherent, and meaningful view of the universe must of necessity presuppose organizing principles (Ops) 
2. OP's summed up in TS 
3. Modern Thought rejects TS outright or takes out all aspects of mind. 
4. Therefore, Modern thought fails to provide a rational, coherent, and meaningful view of the universe. 
5. minds organize and communicate meaning
6. Therefore universal mind, offers the best understanding of TS
7. Concept of God unites TS with universal mind therefore offers best explanation for a view that is Rational, 
[that's a statement of the argument from my previous missive.]

It's a syllogism in seven lines? So what if my argument was a syllogism? That does not invalidate it. Obviously there's more to it than that, 

Coherent, and Meaningful (RCM). - Hinman OP 's make sense of the universe and explain hierarchies of conceptualization. - Joe starts out with a definition of 'organizing principle', and he gives some examples of organizing principles: "effects need causes, conclusions are mandated by premises, meaning in language is organized by rules of grammar." So organizing principles have to do with how meaning or understanding is structured in the mind. This concept seems rather trivial, except for one little thing. He makes the assertion that there must be a hierarchy (or hierarchies) of organization. 
I never said there must be hierarchies. I said there are. One observes them they are easy to see.
"So organizing principles have to do with how meaning or understanding is structured in the mind." What an extraordinarily stupid conclusion! I said nothing like that. He conjectures that from argument about organizing principles because he can't figure out this:"effects need causes, conclusions are mandated by premises, meaning in language is organized by rules of grammar." is not a statement about the link between  principles and the meaning of language; meaning of language is just one example.  
 Joe never defends that assertion, nor does he present any example of how any such hierarchy would be developed. I think it is generally understood in cognitive sciences that meaning is achieved through a web-like structure of association, rather than a hierarchy. And this agrees with observations of brain function. Specific clusters of cognitive function can be lost due to damage, but that isn't consistent with a hierarchical structure of conceptualization, where a whole sub-structure of the hierarchy (which could be quite large) would be dependent on a single point. 
He says I never defend the assertion about hierarchies the sheer ignorance of not knowing there are hierarchies of organization in nature is too stupid for words. Food chain? No hierarchy going on there is there? When we look at nature starting with subatomic level and then  progress to stars there's no increase in  complexity? That's not a hierarchical progression? The claim that I never defend  it just reinforces my position that he never reads. most of the document I posted is the chapter one from the book.  Skeptic has never read any of that because that chapter is all that's been published. That whole chapter is about defending those premises. There' a distinction between giving a reason to hold a  belief and defending that belief from  specific charges. There have been no specific charges but I have given  reasons to hold the belief.

Derrida tells us that Western though being logocentric is based upon hierarchies and they pervade all our underpinnings of things.   It's Derria who puts hierarchies in everything. That's why he wants us to deconstruct everything.
I posted about all of this on  May 3,2020 when I ironically said: "Please read this whole essay. At the very least I think it either offers a good interesting way to  present design arguments." He did not heed the request. "Specific clusters of cognitive function can be lost due to damage, but that isn't consistent with a hierarchical structure of conceptualization, where a whole sub-structure of the hierarchy (which could be quite large) would be dependent on a single point." He's asserting that if he can argue against one tiny aspect of hierarchy he's destroyed all appeals to hierarchy.That's nonsense, the example he uses is small enough in the over all scheme of the universe that it lacks the connection to the generalization  that is the point about hierarchy. Move further back to view the universe from a wider perspective we obviously see hierarchies. 
 So it seems to me that this assertion of the hierarchical nature of conceptualization is unjustified, and not consistent with a scientific view of how meaning is achieved in the human brain. 
Wait a minute where did I ever say that's what I'm talking abouit? I never connected hierarchy  to any kind of   brain function (except as one example not the point of it all) in any way but as an example. The argument is not based upon that idea., Hes just guessing where I;m going and try to preempt it. He missed totally.

 Secondly, the argument is not based upon the assumption laws imply a law giver. - Joe emphasizes that he does not equate the laws of nature to the prescriptive laws that people create, but rather, they are descriptive of the behavior of things in nature. So physical laws are not the edicts of some law-giver. And that's fine, but Joe does see natural laws as part of this hierarchy of organizing principles. And that implies that they are conceptualized somehow in a mind. And without that mind (in Joe's view), the laws of nature would not exist. So he's being somewhat disingenuous by saying that there is no law-giver. 
Old Skepie has never been one for understanding subtle distinctions. I am arguing that the naturalistic world view sets itself up for failure when they use the term "law," they are saying we need a  law giver but they also say we don't dare admit that. Attempts at finding a new word have always failed. There is an undeniable law-like regularity to naturalistic effects. In fact I never use the word "hierarchy" in he argument, He's just getting hung up on some term I used  along the wayand he has nothing more he  can harp on.

 If they are regarded as organizing principles (as Joe seems to think), there must still be a mind that conceives the laws of nature. The assertion that they are descriptive rather than prescriptive doesn't change that. And it is worth noting that Joe is not just talking about the human understanding of the laws of nature. As the discussion progresses, it becomes evident that he transitions from conceptualization of ideas to actualization in physical reality. 

Of course I do what else would one  expect in an  argument dealing with the reality of God as creator of all that there is? He tries to assert that my argument is still guilty of the same infraction as laws requires require a law giver, What he can't figure out,is my true implication is that the naturalist  view point is as  guilty ot that as well, They knew the kind of regularity we find in nature  implies law. That is why they used the term law and  they can't stop using it. People reject the law giver because they don't want to be told what to do.

Skepie  quotes me: 
  "Western thought has always assumed Organizing principles that are summed up in a single first principle (an ἀρχή) which grounds any sort of meaning: the logos or the transcendental signified (TS). - "

This appears to be the basis of Joe's justification for the second premise of the argument. The question that immediately comes to my mind is What western thought? The Greek word 'arche' (ἀρχή) referred originally to the beginning or origin of the universe - the universe arose from the chaos in early cosmogonies. Some Greek philosophers later used the word to refer to a "first principle".
the term ἀρχή was not invented just to describe the origin of the universe, the term itself is used to mean "first principle." It refers to ordinal as well as cardinal matters. The ar-kay is the foundation or the basis of something the universe or nature in this case, The Greeks had this concept of the first principle. For example when the pre Socratics sought some origin in fire or water it was the arche they sought. That is really what the Transcendental signified is all about. That TS is the first principle. 

 The concept of 'logos' has certainly existed in philosophy for a long time, but it hasn't always been equated to a single over-arching principle as the ground of meaning. It seems to be primarily in religious philosophy where it was regarded as a single ground of all meaning. In other words, it was equated with God.
 Heraclitus (c.  535 – c.  475 BC), introduces it into philosophy where it refers to order and knowledge.[3] My point was not about logos in a religious sense although that is included but about  the ordering principle with which that term has always been associated  that includes the Christian ideal.

 The term 'organizing principle', in modern-day usage, does not imply a "single first principle" in the sense of the logos in religious philosophy. It is merely a central concept (one of many) around which some particular conceptual framework is built. Note also that it does not imply a hierarchical structure, or the need for any overarching principle that ties everything together. 
That's just horse manure of course he does not quote any source saying that,More importantly he doesn't quote me,  He'x attacking my use of the term he give no example of how I use it..Since I'm talking about the history of thought then I'm speaking of the historical use of the term. So his comments are at best irrelevant,
 So while Joe can cite 320,000,000 references to the term 'organizing principle' in Google, he cannot claim that all those references mean the same thing that he does, as it is used in his argument. ... we do not have an understanding of what organizes the OP. Yet modern science still seeks a logos or a TS that would bind them all together and unite them in one over arching principle. - Well, actually it doesn't. 
Yes it does. That's exactly what grand unified theory would do. That;s practically how Hawking talks about Gravity in The Grand Design.;[4]When he criticizes my use of those 320,000,000 references he totally misses the point even though I said it clearly. I never said those references are used the same way or that they  refer to anything I'm talking about, I used tat specifically against a critic who charged that the term organizing principle  is never used in modern science. That fact completely escapes Skepie because he doesn't read the texts. GUT explains one area, sub atomic particles. But  having exploited that we will understand quantum gravity that will explain everything else.

 Joe speaks about skeptical scientists who deny this top-level organizing principle, and implies that they don't know what they're talking about.
Here Skep uses one of his favorite tactics-- lying about what the opponent says,I said no such thing. If he refers to what I think he refers to I used one group of scientists to critique another so I am not saying I know more than they do I'm  saying John Collier knows more than people talked about by Gershen and Heylighen. Just a little facet Skep forgot to include.

 But Joe knows better. He describes self-organizing structures in nature, and says that the laws of physics are organizing principles. In fact, the remainder of the article is devoted to giving examples of organization (of structures) in nature. He says, "There is an organizing principle grounding and influencing anything organized." although Joe doesn't say in this article what the top-level organizing principle in science might be, he has on other occasions stated that the "theory of everything" in particle physics is what he's talking about. And that might sound good, except that (as scientists keep trying to tell him) it isn't really the single organizing principle for all of science and everything we understand about the world. It only applies to particle physics.
He is confusing and conflating several different things. What is called theory  of everything is not  everything I understand that. But it is an attempt to expatiate quantum gravity and that will exploit enervating if you understand the role hawking gives gravity in Grand Design,;'[5] I don't think all scientists want a top down TS that orders everything under one principle,Yet that is indicated by the laws of physics. that would be the obvious implication if determinism is really taken seriously Determinism is the big new ideology of atheism but they can't live consistently with what it means

“Most physicists working on fundamental topics inhabit the prescriptive camp, even if they don't own up to it explicitly.”[6] But then the Stephen Hawking Center for Theoretical Cosmology puts it point blank: “The physical laws that govern the Universe prescribe how an initial state evolves with time.”(my emphasis)[7] Clearly they want it both ways, they want physical laws not to be the will of God but they want them to be binding. The nature of the problem is deeper than just the language of an antiquated term. It really seems that physicists want it both ways. Quoting Paul Davies:
In many perhaps most scientific disciplines the finality of a theory continues to be measured by its resemblance to the classical laws of physics, which are both causal and deterministic….The extreme case of the desire to turn observed regularity into law is of course the search for one unified law of nature. That embodies all other laws and that hense will be immune to revision.[8]
 It doesn't give us any kind of grounding for understanding psychology, or chaotic dynamical systems, or mathematics, or any number of fields of human knowledge that aren't based on an understanding of particle physics.
Nor does it have to. The argument is not about any of those things..Skepe doesn't understand the argument Here 's a good example. He calls this a major issue:

 And here's where we run into a major issue with Joe's argument. As I mentioned earlier, Joe has morphed his discussion of organizing principles - taken from Derrida's philosophy regarding human understanding of concepts - to the physical reality of organized structures in nature, based on physical laws. To put it another way, Joe has equivocated between organization of concepts in the mind and organization of physical structures. He pretends that these are one and the same thing, but they aren't. Derrida certainly wasn't talking about physics.

  I did not get organizing principle from Derrida, Skepie  knows nothing about Derrida. This proves it because he thinks Derrida is saying we need  top down rule in logic. His assertion that I think  human ht ought structures nature is nuts and obviously not what I said. It shows  his firearm to think about what is being said,  He has to think in terms of a design argument, So for him it must be about something controlling nature,I'm actually saying the opposite, We think in hierarchic terms because  nature is full of hierarchies,,


 His concept of the "transcendent signified" would apply to organizing principles, but he denied that there was any single top-level organizing principle. 

This is even worse, confusing transcendental with Transcendent.  Basic mistake by uneducated people.

And in science there are physical laws that describe how things work in nature, but it would be a mistake to say that the conceptual human understanding of physical laws is what governs the formation of natural structures. Joe has failed to distinguish between meaning in the mind and the underlying reality of the world. To top it off, Joe must force-fit his own theistic beliefs into this mixed-up framework of conceptual and physical structure. 
Not at all. I have not failed in this distinction. only an idiot would think that I am saying that  the conceptual human understanding of physical laws is what governs the formation of natural structures. There's no mixed up frame. God created thus the Mind of God is the TS that sets in place all laws rules and organizing principles. It also sets at work the human mind. Our understanding does not make psychical law, physical law makes us and that as an expression of God's mind.That is the obvious implication of all belief in God and it/s clearly understood by all; you may think it's crap but is straightforward unambitious crap if crap indeed.

 He insists that there must always be a top-level reference to which everything else is subordinate.  But that goes against what we know. Derrida made no such assumption, and cognitive science makes no such assumption with regard to the formation of meaning. Furthermore, scientists recognize no single top-level law that is the basis of every branch of science. 
Sure Derrida disagrees! I  did not say nor does my argument entail that everyone agrees with this. But it is the case as I argue that people have sought this idea. Not all perhaps  but there are enough that it is a maor source of  human striving. it is hilarious that he thinks I care what Derrida thinks, He must think this argument claims to follow the Phiosophy of  Derrida.  Here;s a clue Skepie, you need one, Why do I call it the "reverse Derrida argument?" think about it.

 The whole idea of this single top-level reference point comes from theology. It is the logos, or God. And sure enough, that is exactly what Hinman means by the term "transcendental signified" - the top-level organizing principle. His argument begs the question, as he force-fits his theistic assumptions about the single ground of meaning into the whole discussion of organization in nature. Organizing principles implies organization. Organization implies structure. Structure implies hierarchy. Hierarchy implies a top-level reference point. The top-level reference must be God. This is the true form of Joe's argument, and he allows no deviation from this chain of reasoning. Could meaning be organized in a network, as science tells us, rather than a hierarchy? Joe won't entertain the notion. Because if he did, his question-begging argument would fall apart. 

The idea of what he calls a top level reference point does not come from Theology.Ironically that is Derrida. in fact Derria says that all thinkers make this assumption implicitly. That is what  Derrida calls Logo Phallocentrism. Of you look it up you  find it is central to his views. It;s central to Derridian deconstruction because he;s agaisnt it. That's what he wants to deconstruct, but part of  his reason is because it is foundational to Western  tough. Skepie makes assign assumptions based upon what he thinks religious thinking would,dictate he demands the opposite. in so  doing he totally misreads Derrida and my argument,

Skepie let's his prejudice  warp his sense of wha's being said that causes him to misunderstand most arguments
As a final note, I said that in this article Joe seems to be defending only the first two premises, and that does appear to be the case, because none of the others are mentioned or discussed in any substantial way. Yet Joe still manages to put together his case (as illogical as it is). What does that tell us about statements 3 through 7 of his argument? 
 It tells me Skepie thinks that you can't talk about parts of an argument, You can only talk about the whole thing at once any time you bring i up,. wired.


Notes:

1 I am Skeptical, "Speaking Out Against Bullshit." The Skeptic Zone, (Saturday, April 25, 2020)

2 Joseph Hinman, "Transcendental Signifies Argument (reprize)"  ()

3Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (2nd ed): Heraclitus, 1999.

4 Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design,  New York: Bantam Books, 2010,3

5 Ibid

Comments

Anonymous said…
Joe: Skepie doesn't know anything about Derrida. I studied Derrida with a professor who was a student of his in Paris,.

No, Joe, YOU do not understand Derrida. Derrida was talking about LANGUAGE. To him, the signifier is the word, the signified is the meaning of the word. You use these terms in a very different way to Derrida.

I appreciate there is not a snowball's chance in hell of you addressing this, however, I offer these texts to anyone else who may be interested to know what Derrida actually said, and compare it to your own claims.


https://web.stanford.edu/class/history34q/readings/Derrida/Differance.html
Derrida's own words (translated):

The sign is usually said to be put in the place of the thing itself, the present thing, "thing" here standing equally for meaning or referent. The sign represents the present in its absence. It takes the place of the present. When we cannot grasp or show the thing, state the present, the being-present, when the present cannot be presented, we signify, we go through the detour of the sign....
Now this principle of difference, as the condition for signification, affects the totality of the sign, that is the sign as both signified and signifier. The signified is the concept, the ideal meaning; and the signifier is what Saussure calls the "image," the "psychical imprint" of a material, physical--for example, acoustical--phenomenon.



http://paulaustinmurphypam.blogspot.com/2015/09/jacques-derrida-on-signifier-and.html

This temporal relation between phonic and graphic signifiers was taken by Jacques Derrida to express the metaphysical belief - common from Plato onward - that whereas we have “full presence” in the case of a phonic signifier, we only have a second-order presence when it comes to the graphic signifier (i.e., in the case of "writing"). Generally speaking, sense, meaning or the signified is to some extent lost when it's written down because it has lost its close relation to the signified – which itself can be taken to be the meaning, sense or concept (of a word).


https://www.massey.ac.nz/~alock/theory/derrida.htm

Derrida argues that the notion of structure, in theories like structuralism, presuppose a 'centre' or 'transcendental signified' which is fallacious (see Lodge, 1988, pp. 108-123). ... The written word, in Derrida's view, relies upon its meaning via the context in which it is embedded. Both signified and signifier, though, are related in such a way that
'there is, with respect to the very structure of language, no proper context to provide proof of a final meaning'...

Also:

For example, the meaning of the signifier 'woman' varies from ideal to victim to object of sexual desire, according to its context. This meaning, says Weedon, is always open to challenge and redefinition with shifts in its discursive context. Thus the meaning of 'woman' is subject to change, depending upon how social and historical practices contribute to the construction of possible 'subject positions'. This introduces the notion of how 'subjectivity' is discursively constructed and located in the text.

Pix
No, Joe, YOU do not understand Derrida. Derrida was talking about LANGUAGE.

Duh! you thin I don;t know that why? Show where I said that?

To him, the signifier is the word, the signified is the meaning of the word. You use these terms in a very different way to Derrida.

Hi Skepie. Still pretending to be "Pixie?" I understand Derrida and you do not. I studied Derrida in my PhD work. I was taught him by a student of his. That guy was my friend,I hung out with him we talked about it in depth a lot. I have read Derrida in French. I doubt that you have read two words of his in English.

The signified is not the meaning. For Derrida meaning is illusory, There is apparent meaning. If you don't understand the importance of that you don't understand Derrida. Yes signaler is the word, the sissified is the object but not the meaning. Meaning is always differ in and differed. The signifier tree is the set of symbols "t-r-e-e." The object which it signifies is the hunk of wood growing out of the ground.

I appreciate there is not a snowball's chance in hell of you addressing this, however, I offer these texts to anyone else who may be interested to know what Derrida actually said, and compare it to your own claims.

You have not read Derrida You don't really underside it, you think what you just is deep knowledge knowlge its just the ABCs


https://web.stanford.edu/class/history34q/readings/Derrida/Differance.html
Derrida's own words (translated):

The sign is usually said to be put in the place of the thing itself, the present thing, "thing" here standing equally for meaning or referent. The sign represents the present in its absence. It takes the place of the present. When we cannot grasp or show the thing, state the present, the being-present, when the present cannot be presented, we signify, we go through the detour of the sign....

that is shallow surface knowledge it;s all you know aboiut him. you think gives you real insight, it does not give you crap.



Now this principle of difference, as the condition for signification, affects the totality of the sign, that is the sign as both signified and signifier. The signified is the concept, the ideal meaning; and the signifier is what Saussure calls the "image," the "psychical imprint" of a material, physical--for example, acoustical--phenomenon.


http://paulaustinmurphypam.blogspot.com/2015/09/jacques-derrida-on-signifier-and.html

that changes nothing I said in my argent, it;s not deep knowledge it does not mean you know Derrida.
This temporal relation between phonic and graphic signifiers was taken by Jacques Derrida to express the metaphysical belief - common from Plato onward - that whereas we have “full presence” in the case of a phonic signifier, we only have a second-order presence when it comes to the graphic signifier (i.e., in the case of "writing"). Generally speaking, sense, meaning or the signified is to some extent lost when it's written down because it has lost its close relation to the signified – which itself can be taken to be the meaning, sense or concept (of a word).


https://www.massey.ac.nz/~alock/theory/derrida.htm

Derrida argues that the notion of structure, in theories like structuralism, presuppose a 'centre' or 'transcendental signified' which is fallacious (see Lodge, 1988, pp. 108-123). ... The written word, in Derrida's view, relies upon its meaning via the context in which it is embedded. Both signified and signifier, though, are related in such a way that
'there is, with respect to the very structure of language, no proper context to provide proof of a final meaning'...

you have no idea what that means. What you just said has some bearing on my argument but it supports it. That proves my contention that Derrria attributes to western metaphysics the myth of presence, Tahiti derived from assumptions of meaning and hierarchy.

Also:

For example, the meaning of the signifier 'woman' varies from ideal to victim to object of sexual desire, according to its context. This meaning, says Weedon, is always open to challenge and redefinition with shifts in its discursive context. Thus the meaning of 'woman' is subject to change, depending upon how social and historical practices contribute to the construction of possible 'subject positions'. This introduces the notion of how 'subjectivity' is discursively constructed and located in the text.

That supports my argument because it supports my idea that Derrida sees meaning as unstable and constantly changing. Nothing you said even ostensibly disproves my argument,
Skepie thinks all he has to do is use some quotes with big words in them and I'm suppose to back off. I want him to show how that has anything to do with my argument.

He also thinks it being about language somehow disproves it. that's nuts,
Jesse said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jesse said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
He's obsessed with attacking me. I always knew Pix was not right somehow but just didn't want to face it.

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