Philosophical Dictionary - I and J and K and L and M
This is about
an update for the letters I - M inclusive in my Philosophical
Dictionary. It also
explains some about its making and future.
In the second
half of 2011 and the first third of 2012 I have made textual updates to
quite a few lemmas in my Philosophical
Dictionary, in an editor that I had tweaked wrongly, with the
consequence that the items I updated appear with very large or very
small fonts, and often both.
This does not look nice. Earlier I had returned the lemmas in the
letters A - H inclusive to what they should look like, at least, and
did so for the letter I,
J, the letter K,
L and the letter M.
Since I have been doing this now since the last four days, let me
explain a little.
I started my Philosophical
Dictionary in July 2004,
mostly for three reasons, apart from my bad health and the lack of help
with that since I got ill on 1.1.1979, that I here take for granted
(and that you'll find explained, to some extent, in Nederlog and in ME
Resources and in ME in Amsterdam):
The general plan at its
start - given my
bad health - was to simply start and see how far I could get,
knowing from the start that my health was bad, but also knowing from
the start that I could do this - if at all - piecewise, and if and when
I could, felt like it, and had found the energy to do it.
- Being a
I thought and think it a very good idea if everybody who has or
pretends to a serious interest in philosophy compiles a Philosophical
Dictionary, that will enable readers to see quickly what its writer
thinks, and with what senses he uses his terms. (Those who did not do
so - which comprises virtually everybody writing about philosophy -
have not faced the duty of being at least clear about their
thinking and terminology.)
the health to do better, in terms of writing book length expostions
of my philosophical views and ideas, I thought and think a Philosophical
Dictionary is the best way to provide at least an
indication what I do think about many philosophical subjects, and
indeed also with what meanings I use key terms. (But it should be
remarked that it often does not render more than a very small portion
of what I think and wrote about a subject.)
- It gave me an opportunity to
articulate my own views on many topics, rather than take
them mostly for granted tacitly, as
happens in the case of almost any philosopher you may read.
Also, from the start the plan was to first write out a Philosophical
Dictionary, with between 500 and 1500 terms, and to do so initially
from the top of my head, namely with what is in my
memory about such terms and topics that I write about, rather than what
I could find in my library of paper books, and only when I had more or
less finished that, to go over the result, and update it with the help
of what there is in my large philosophical library of paper books.
This general plan is still in place, but with at least three
As I said in the beginning
of this section, I found in the Spring of 2012 that I had in fact been
destroying the format of my Philosophical
Dictionary by my having
adopted improper settings in the html-editor I use for it, that
introduced large sized fonts at places where small sized fonts were
required to keep things properly formatted.
- As it happened, there are at the
time of this writing nearly 630 terms in the dictionary, of which I
added the first half in 2004 and the rest between 2005 and 2012:
It seems a safe bet that there will probably not be more than around
1000 terms in all in my Philosophical
Dictionary, also because
I have since July 2009 fast internet, that showed me (much better than
could see with slow internet) that there are at least two other
Philosophical Dictionaries / Encyclopedias - Internet and Stanford,
respectively - that are at least useful, if not as good as the Paul
Edwards Ed. "Encyclopedia of Philosophy".
- I think that
currently - being 62 and having problems with my health and with my
eyes - I should aim at trying to get something finished, that is, a
first finished version of the initial project, that then gets updated
with the help of my paper philosophical library and what is on the
However, this really depends on my health, and I make no promiseses,
except that (1) I will try to finish the first version in the course of
the next few years and (2) I will probably - if and when I can - write
out some entries in a longer and more thorough form, and with the help
of some other resources than what is in my memory.
- I do have a -
somewhat vague - plan of splitting the current Philosophical
Dictionary, that is
bi-lingual but mostly English, into two dictionaries: An English and a
Dutch one, which, as things stand, requires my first finishing an
English version, and then use that for a Dutch one. (Qualification: As
Also, I failed to see that myself, having tweaked browsers likewise -
which turned out to have made a visual mess of my Philosophical
Dictionary, with many
entries with fonts that were too large or too small. This I have been aware of since around
May 2012, but that was also the time that the problems with my eyes
started, that made using a computer screen virtually impossible for
Since this recently got a bit better, and since I also found some ways
to - partially - work around the problems I have with computer screens,
and especially with the standard white background for text, I have been
trying, since October
25 last, to get my Philosophical
Dictionary back to how it
looked until May 2011, that is, properly formatted and easily readable.
I hope to be able to continue with this until I have restored it to
what it looked like between 2004 and 2011, if only because on my site I
have many links to it, and because it does give fairly to very clear
expositions of how I use key terms in philosophy and related matters,
and of what I think about a number of important issues.
Finally, as long as I am busy with that, I provide in this log of what
I have been doing some
what you can find in my Philosophical
And as it happens, today that results in a NB-file that is over 130 Kb
- but then I think what is in it is well worth reading, and illustrates
why I wrote my Philosophical
Dictionary and also why
those who are being paid for keeping an academic chair in philosophy
warm should have written a philosophical dictionary themselves, to
account for their usage of words, and as outline to the framework of
I: The person
This is a rather
grammatical definition of a
term, and the reason is that in fact one's I is a theory
about its conscious
System of ideas
that normally is a simplification of some political philosophy
that consists of ideas about what reality is (metaphysics)
and ideals about what reality
beings should be like (ethics).
Ideologies - if
perhaps very simple and partial, as those that are meant to keep
together the employees of a firm - are the basis of almost any human
since these only can come to be and continue to exist in a coordinated
fashion if the members of the group share assumptions,
about what is
and should be, and what the group is for or against.
ideologies are either plainly totalitarian
or are at least experienced and practiced as if they are - as anybody
can see by observing party conferences, soccer hooligans, and public
statements of priests,
politicians and clergy.
This is a very powerful
force for human good
main relevant difference seems to be whether one's ignorance is
conscious and honestly admitted or else unconscious or denied.
If one knows
not know, or knows one does not know everything there
is to know about something, or knows that one does not know certainly
and definitely and with full precision, one can use his knowledge of
one's ignorance to get more and better knowledge.
If one does not know one
does not know, or does not
to know one does not know, or pretends to know where one only believes,
ignorance is easily dressed up as faith
is often used as a political
power to produce more ignorance that is dressed up as faith or
And notice that one may
quite certainly know that one is ignorant about
something, or indeed carefully ignore the relevant evidence and believe
one knows something because one does not know and chooses to neglect,
dismiss or avoid whatever is known about it.
"It ain't what a man
don't know that makes him a fool, but what he does know that ain't so."
By contrast, recognized
and admitted ignorance about something is a positive source of and
reason for finding positive knowledge
it, if one can, and not to believe blindly or wishfully
as long as one doesn't have such knowledge (probably).
And man may be an animal that
desires to know, according to Aristotle, but most men - quite possibly
all - actively desire not to know certain kinds of things,
especially such as they disapprove of or disagree with.
Lack of variety; constancy: The principle that some things, properties
and relations do not change with time, and remain the same as long as
It is hard to
deny that there is some sort of invariance in nature
and in our
(and indeed someone who denies there is any invariance insists on the
invariance of the lack of invariance!), but it is difficult to pin it
down both in general and in particular cases without making mistakes.
Invariance in general: There are several principles of invariance
that deserve serious consideration. First, there is Newton's
First law of motion: 'Every body continues in its state of rest, or
uniform motion in a right line, unless it is compelled to change that
state by forces impressed upon it.'
This may be
supplemented by a similar principle that Newton included in his Rules
of Reasoning in the 2nd edition of his Principia, which is very
similar to Ockham's
I of Reasoning : We are to admit no more causes of natural things
than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.
there is Newton's third rule, in which 'admit neither intensification
nor remission of degrees' indeed also may be read as 'are invariant' or
'are unchanging' or 'are constant':
C. Rule III of Reasoning : The
qualities of bodies, which admit neither intensification nor remission
of degrees, and which are found to belong to all bodies within the
reach of our experiments, are to be esteemed the universal qualities of
all bodies whatsoever.
Then there is
the following principle
principle of sufficient reason: Nothing happens without a
ably and interestingly considered by Leibniz
but has the set-back that it does not allow for real chance.
interesting to note, also with respect to both Newton's First Law and
First Rule above, that Needham found that the Chinese arrived much
earlier at a similar principle:
Chinese law of motion: "The cessation of motion is due to the
opposing force... If there is no opposing force ... the motion will
never stop. This is as true as that an ox is not a horse."
from the third or fourth century BC, i.e. almost 2000 years before
Newton, and is quoted from p. 161 of Robert Temple's "The genius of
China" that summarizes and popularizes Needham's volumes on science
and civilization in China.
these principles of invariance, some of which concern motion (A and E),
some happenings (D), some causes (B), and some explanations (C), we may
propose a general principle:
of Invariance: Nothing that exists
without reason - but things may come into being that have no reason
(and happen by chance) and certain things may have happened and may
happen always, without any reason or cause.
concerns changes of existing entities,
allows for chance
and indeed allows that something that changes may have as a reason for
some of its changes that it is subject to chance (of a certain kind,
with a certain probability distribution).
It is also
important to note that what is invariant may be local and temporal.
This as discussed by Poincaré for natural laws and is briefly
for living things and societies.
Invariance in particular: There are many instances of particular
kinds of invariance, that may be called invariants, from human
faces and characters, to natural species, natural kinds, and natural
laws, and thus these particular instances of particular invariants may
have different kinds of reasons and explanations,
that may or may not be known.
said: "Repetition is the only form of permanence that nature can
achieve" - but then that is reason we may know nature, for a reality
where everything changes unpredictably no human mind can understand.
that as suggested above, the sort of invariance proposed also covers invariant
One may not
know whether a particular item in a random
will belong to a certain subset of the set, but one may have excellent
reasons to believe that this kind of change does conform to a certain
probability distribution, with a definite probability
to happen, that one may know well enough to rely and confidently bet on.
framed in these terms, what science
establish are first and foremost nature's
of all kinds, and next to its invariants, or included in these as a
special case, its invariant probability distributions, that represent
chance events of definite kinds.
and invariance: As formulated, chance,
that it exists, is also subject to invariance, in that if chance events
exist, as seems very probable given quantum mechanics, that works in
practice and is well-supported experimentally, and cannot do without
chance events, these chance events will have some particular
probability distribution, that will invariantly characterize it, unless
this too is subject to change.
4. Invariance, exhaustion
and death: It is also interesting to note that - it would seem
that - living things invariantly die, though they may last a long time,
and that as long as they live they have certain invariant
characteristics, and more generally that there are things, kinds and
processes that last for some time, but not forever.
may well be that the invariant characteristics of living things are the
cause of their death: Once produced these characteristics are not
maintained by a living organism, but are subject to random damage from
the environment, that in the end destroys them, as securely as a stone
is hollowed by an incessant sequence of drops of water that falls on it.
Similarly, and more
simply, there are quite a few cases of processes that exhaust
themselves, and that while they exist seem to conform to Newton's Third
Rule of Reasoning (principle
above) and thus to allow the simple induction
they may be invariant for ever, which nevertheless is not so.
Two simple and physically
well-understood examples are the bending of a metal wire (one may bend
and unbend it many times, but eventually it will break) and the
elasticity of rubber (it remains elastic a long time, but grows brittle
and hardens with age).
It would seem that there are
more complicated processes of this kind, both for living organisms, and
for complex kinds of things like civilizations and cultures that also
tend to grow, flower, decline and perish, though so far no one has
explained these well, even though there are fine descriptions, like
Gibbon's 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'.
What makes no difference to, has no bearing or influence on, is
independent of something else is said to be irrelevant to it;
in the probabilistic sense.
This is an important
concept, if only because in practice and in theory we in fact hold many
things and events to be irrelevant to our present practice or theory, while we may be quite mistaken in our - often tacit -
beliefs about irrelevance.
Note that an important part of most methodologies in the
sciences is to control whatever is known
to be relevant
conditions and outcomes of the experiment: One wants to avoid
experimental outcomes that do not in fact depend on a hypothetical explanation but
on some other ("interfering") factor.
There are more subtle
irrelevance and independence
Jargon: Technical terms; terms of art;
terms of trade - words that are widely known and used only in limited
circles of people who specialize in a science, art or trade.
1. When one talks or
writes of things that are not widely known and that may have all manner
of uncommon or special features, it may help a lot to introduce new
special terms (or use old terms with specially given new meanings).
also is often used to given oneself airs, to obscure or obfuscate, or
just carelessly, and anyway has the property
when it is not addressed to the specialists for whose ends it exists
that it makes for unnecessarily difficult prose.
In short: Jargon should be
avoided, except in circles where it really belongs to the terms of the
trade. Speak plainly, or don't speak at all!
2. There is, alas,
a rather large amount of philosophical
jargon - for which reason one may fondly imagine that a few gifted
persons may have some use for the Philosophical
Dictionary that contains this lemma.
something - usually an idea
- is true
improbable, or good
The reason to distinguish judgments
is that there are - it seems - choices
something is true, probable or good, or any of its opposites, that
differ from non-judgements that something is red, or sweet, or painful,
that seem to be just given and unavoidable given one's sensations,
and either need no judgement at all, or are judgments only in a weak
and attenuated sense.
The reason there are
judgments is precisely because what is judged is neither simple nor
directly given or accessible in sensation, but requires comparison
along several dimensions; weighing evidence;
consulting diverse sources, both in oneself, in others and in books;
and needs reference, for a sound decision
that will probably turn out to have been correct later, and then often
in the sense that one has not grievously erred through passion or prejudice),
what one has learned.
And indeed, skillful knowledge
recognized by sound judgment - decisions
such and such is true (or not), or a good option (or not), that later
turn out to be mostly correct, and that either cannot be made at all by
less skillful men, or are much less often correct when judged by less
Also, it is noteworthy that
much skilled judgment is required and involved in distinguishing one's
own and each other's
produced by scientific
methods, that are not known to be false, that explain
for which no
better scientific explanations are known, that are supported by evidence,
that are capable of producing technology.
Especially the last feature
of scientific knowledge is characteristic for it:
Whatever is a matter of
works, if at all, for believers in the faith, and is never of a
technological kind, i.e. a human artefact that works whatever one's
beliefs about how to produce it.
real technology that works irrespective of faith;
that only hold for the believers in them.
Note that "scientific
methods" covers both the specific methodology
of some science
or sciences, that may be quite sophisticated, and may involve scientific instruments
(microscopes, thermometers a.s.o.), and also covers mathematics, logic,
theory and statistics, and indeed also knowledge
of dictionary meanings
be combined into statements,
and stories, to convey information
anything whatsoever that can be thought
experienced or imagined.
There are other definitions
of natural language, but one essential point about it is that
it is a distinctively human gift, and is - together with mathematics,
that is also at least conveyed and expressed by language - what makes
human beings different from other animals. Almost everything that makes
human beings specifically human rests on the skill of natural language,
that any healthy neonate can pick up in a few years by being exposed to
speakers of the language.
And there are several
thousands of human languages, any of which can be picked up in a few
years by young human children, and any of which, one it is understood,
can be used to translate almost anything that can be said in any other
human natural language.
Three things that far less
often remarked than they should in the context of natural language are
the following, all of which are of considerable epistemological
1. It takes a
considerable amount of learning, talent, aptitude, skill and knowledge
to learn a natural language and to use it well, in an everyday
sense, and indeed this is one strong argument against many kinds of skepticism:
However often one claims, with a would-be wise face, that one knows
knows nothing, one needs to know language to claim it - and
this, apart from whatever else one may or may not know, involves a
great amount of knowledge
and a skill that is beyond non-human animals, that seem to be unable to
properly understand the idea
of a symbol.
everything a human being may be that makes him or her human involves
that linguistic knowledge, that is indeed real knowledge:
belief about how certain speech sounds are used and what
meanings, intents and uses these sounds have in the community the
language is spoken.
2. It takes a lot of
give and take and thinking about what other people may have in mind
when they say
something to really understand a natural language, and indeed it seems
to involve almost necessarily what I call personalism:
The philosophical assumption that other human beings have experiences -
- like one has oneself, and that one can understand others by assuming
they are and feel and desire and believe much like one does oneself.
That is: Natural language and its learning involve a theory of mind
that involves attributing a theory of mind to other speakers of the
natural language one uses (or tries to learn), and therewith assumes
This is of some philosophical importance, since in actual fact the
experiences of other persons are not given to one at all. (See:
3. There is much
about natural language that is not fully understood, notably such as
are related to meaning
and to propositional
attitudes. In any case: Human beings are the linguistic animal par
excellence, and owe nearly all they are and can be to their ability
to communicate and think with the help of language.
Epigrammatische samenvattingen van realistische dus enigszins cynische
regels hoe maatschappelijk te (over)leven - "how to make friends, gain
influence and be a real and popular phoney".
1. Hèt recept
voor maatschappelijk geluk, welstand en status: " let op uw zeggen, meer dan op uw doen,
en het zal u wèlgaan ". (Multatuli,
Doe wat je wilt - bedrieg
je buren, veracht de dominee, schop je vrouw, trap je medemensen ...
maar doe het altijd met een uitgestreken braaf en fatsoenlijk
gezicht, uit naam van de waan van de dag, met keurige
kleren en zonder
ooit uitgesproken kritiek te leveren op wie ook van enig aanzien "en het zal u wèlgaan in den winkel". Zó is het
en zo is het altijd geweest, en dit zal pas veranderen als de menselijke
intelligenter is dan ze tot nu was. Tot dan zal de
basis van het maatschappelijke zijn.
bronzen regel: "If you want to be pleased,
diagnose: "Stupidity and egoism are the roots
of all vice."
4. Ovidius' dictum: "Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor"
= "Ik zie het betere en stem doe dat het beter is, maar doe het
slechtere" - omdat het lekkerder, veiliger, normaler, beter betalend,
of populairder is.
constatering: "If we believe in absurdities,
we shall commit atrocities". Dit is een fraaie 18e-eeuwse
samenvatting en verklaring van de veel van de menselijke geschiedenis.
6. Lord Action's
conclusie: "All power corrupts; absolute power
corrupts absolutely. All great men are bad." (Aldus luidt de
samenvatting van de lessen der geschiedenis van de Engelse
geschiedkundige Lord Acton, uit 1895. Met "grote mannen" bedoelde hij
niet Newton, Shakespeare of Euler, maar politieke leiders en religieuze
wijsheid: "Mundus vult decipi" - de
mensen willen bedrogen worden, en het meeste denken van de
Vandaar dat willen, net zoals de grote meerderheid hun meningen
afschermt tegen kritiek in plaats van ze zelf zorgvuldig te proberen te
testen en zo mogelijk weerleggen.
vaststellingen: "De grootste gruwelen worden
verricht uit naam van de hoogste idealen" en "Waar publiek wordt gesproken, wordt publiek gelogen."
9. Swift's uitroep
(hoogst onpopulair onder de grote democratische meerderheid der
laagbegaafden, waarachtig gelovigen en fanaten van allerlei slag): "Most men are as fit to think as they are fit to fly".
verbeterde receptuur voor social geluk en populariteit: "If in Rome do as the Romans do - if amongst
cannibals, do as the cannibals do".
morele samenvatting van morele normen: "In
terms of their very own publicly maintained moral norms nearly all men
are bad nearly all of the time." Zie 4 en 9,
voor een verklaring. Anders gezegd: "Er zijn
heel weinig morele helden, en heel veel morele huichelaars."
12. Zekere kennis:
Er is zekere kennis,
namelijk wat je weet dat je niet weet, en dit is in veel opzichten zowel de zekerste
als de nuttigste kennis. Wijsheid of verstandigheid zonder
zekere kennis omtrent de eigen onwetendeid in relevante opzichten is
onmogelijk. De vermeende kennis van de
meerderheid is overwegend bijgeloof of volgen van autoriteiten.
13. Chamfort's samenvatting
van de moraal "Enjoy and give pleasure, without doing harm to
yourself or to anyone else - that, I think, is the whole of
14. Hazlitt's menselijke
kwalifiicatie: "If mankind had wished for what is right, they might
have had it long ago. The theory is plain enough; but they are prone to
mischief, 'to every good work reprobate.'"
15. Maartensz' numerieke uitleg: 0One
way of understanding
society - any
human society anywhere, of sufficient size, say 10 or a 100 or more not
specially selected persons - is that the good
: the bad
stupid = 1 : 9
: 90. Alternatively expressed but to the same effect: the intelligent :
unintelligent = 1 : 9 and the unegoistic : egoistic = 1 : 9, and
intelligence and egoism are
Note that part of my
meaning is that the bad
normally the harm
that is done actively or passively to others because of
malevolence, and that it is for the most part due, in everyday
human practice, to indifference, convenience, or
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of
evil is for good men to do nothing."
-- Edmund Burke
With this understanding, viz. that it is normally
a lot easier to leave the good one sees one should do, on one's own
principles, undone - because leaving it undone is very often easier,
more convenient, better paid, or more normal or correct.
it all in a table with percentages (while remembering that
and moral courage are probably for the largest part determined by
innate factors, and non posse nemo obligatur):
|| not good
| not intelligent
| not intelligent
|| not good
That is one important part of the reason
why Hazlitt was right and so much of human society so often is in such
orientation concerned with maintaining freedom.
There are many kinds of
liberalism (some are called libertarianism), and many styles and
priorities in furthering it. The name originates in the early 19th
Century, when it started to be used for some Englishmen who opposed
It is difficult to define
liberals and liberalism precisely, especially if one wants to
make the definition apply to liberalism in different European
countries, like England, Holland, France and Germany, while the term is
used rather differently in the United States. But three kinds of ideas
may be distinguished that have historically fallen under the label
1. Political liberalism:
The notion that the state should remain small and relatively powerless,
and the individuals in states should be mostly free to organize
themselves, free to say and write as they please, and that these
freedoms should be protected by the laws, and by courts and judges who
are independent of the government.
2. Economic liberalism:
The notion that trade should be free, and should happen in free
markets, without state interference, such as the fixing of prices by
the state, or the maintenance of tariffs and import or export laws or
taxes by states.
3. Pluralism: The
notion that a civilization and culture benefit by a plurality of
beliefs, faiths, political orientations, and kinds of men, who all
deserve legal protection to believe, preach and do as they please, in
so far as they do this legally.
I will say something about
each of these, but start with noting two things:
First, there is and has
been an enormous amount of
cant and posturing involving the term 'freedom'. This is
understandable in as much as almost all men desire to be free to think
and do as they please, but it should be noted that given that desire
the main problem is how to maintain a society
strong, the powerful or the majority is not free to repress, persecute
or murder the weak, the powerless or the minorities. Thus, 'freedom' is
easy to praise, easy to abuse, easy to misconstrue, and difficult to
use responsibly, and difficult to practice in any case where different
individuals or groups
with different or opposing interests are concerned.
Second, the above three
notions historically connected with 'liberalism' are not usually
equally strong in political parties that call themselves 'liberal', and
may also be part of the ideals of other political orientations. Thus,
political liberalism as defined is also a tenet of
anarchism, though this is often also, and in addition, some kind of
socialism or a revolutionary movement, which more classical liberals
often have been opposed to.
1. Political liberalism:
That the state should be
small and individual freedoms large, and that the powers of the state
fundamentally are at variance with the freedoms of the individuals
subjected to it, are all ideals and ideas I agree with it.
The same holds for the
notion that the individuals in states should be mostly free to organize
themselves, free to say and write as they please, and that these
freedoms should be protected by the laws, and by courts and judges who
are independent of the government
though it is obvious that here there are and will be many problems, in
that most will be mostly free in a society only if all are not
free to do certain things they might like to, and will be punished for
doing so, namely for committing murder, theft, fraud, exploitation etc.
Thus while the ideal of
political liberalism is fairly obvious and easy to subscribe to from an
interest in one's personal freedom to do and think and say as one
pleases, it comes with many problems and some paradoxes about how it is
best practiced in society,
and how it may be ascertained that most are mostly free, without the
strong, the bold or the evil abusing these freedoms to take them from
It also should be noted
that there are additional arguments that support the principle of
political liberalism, besides the fact that most human beings seem to
desire to be able to do as they please.
One is that there is in
very many cases, including those of political ideals and religious
faiths, no one who can intellectually prove to the satisfaction
of most that his ideas and values are the true and right ones (see fallibilism).
A related notion is that
there is very strong support for the notion that most good ideas and
values are worked out only over the course of many generations,
and require a considerable freedom of discussion.
Another is that it seems
that the freedoms of most to mostly do as they please seem in practice
best served and practised by all checking and controlling the
tendencies of all to aggrandize their own powers,
taking care that no individual, no group, and no faith can achieve the
power over all.
And yet another and
important one is at once paradoxical and true: While all men desire to
do as they please, and there is no limit to their desires, and while
all men desire power over others in order to do as they please, and
satisfy their desires, and be protected from those who desire likewise
or whom they have hurt or harmed or repressed, and while there is no
good reason to believer or assume that the majority of men is noble,
good, rational or honest, or willing or able to protect or even to
perceive, feel or understand the interests of others like his own, the best
defense each individual has against the evil that men may do to men,
and often will do to men if they think they can profit by it and not be
punished for it, lies in the limitation of the powers of the state,
of institutions, and of wilful, fanatic or blind majorities. Again,
the only feasible way to do so is by independent courts; by public
rights; by fair and public trials; and by systems of carefully
reasoned and maintained checks and balances of the powers of each
group, institution and individual, so that none can achieve power over
all, and all have some power against each.
2. Economic liberalism:
This kind of liberalism
tends to be popular among traders, dealers, industrialists, and most
others who hope to profit from making or selling commodities in a
market, and it often takes extreme forms, in which any
restriction on practices that have turned out to be profitable are
rejected as 'illiberal', 'restrictive', 'unfree', 'intolerant' and the
like. The catch-words and slogans here have been 'laissez-faire'
and 'laissez-aller', as if unrestricted profit-making would or
could benefit all or most, and even those from whom the profits were
earned, or those who were 'freely' sold into slavery for profit. ("They
would do it to us if we wouldn't do it first to them" - always a nice
motivation in politics and economics for those who want to serve their
It seems to me that the
case of economic liberalism is like that for political liberalism, but
with a number of restrictions concerning monopolies, oligopolies,
exploitation, robbery, fraud, slavery and colonialism, all of which
also have been defended or practiced under the guise of 'liberalism'
and/or 'free markets'.
In brief: Rather a lot can
be said in praise of economic liberalism and men's private initiative
to better their own lot by trading and production of commodities, but all
economic liberalism seems to need some effective legal bounds and
restrictions so as not to turn into abuse of the weak by the strong, or
the poor by the unscrupolous rich.
Besides, there also is a fallacy
in quite a few kinds of economic liberalism that plead for 'free
markets': There are no free markets without state protection and
legal rules, not within states, and not between states. Each and
every free market either was maintained by the state or by a city, or
else existed only because and in the times of a relative balance of
power between states or cities. And most of the rhetoric of
'laissez-faire' and 'laissez-aller' is no more than dishonest cant.
Pluralism as defined is a
kind of political liberalism, but more so, with special attention to
the protection and furthering of different groups, faiths,
interests, and kinds of human beings in one society or city.
It seems fundamentally a
good idea for those who desire a high civilization, in as much as high
civilizations tend to be pluralistic ones, and not those in which there
is only one kind of permissible faith, and only one kind (race, ethnic
group, religious faith, political ideology) of men, for while these may
be strong and stable states, they are also usually poor, except perhaps
for the ruling élite, and not highly civilized.
The problem with pluralism
is that most human beings, especially in times of crisis or poverty,
tend to be rather
totalitarian and in favour of their own group and kind of men, at
the cost of different groups with different backgrounds, for which
reason pluralistic societies, while often richer and more interesting,
also often are less stable than non-pluralistic ones.
By and large, the
writer of this
Philosophical Dictionary is a liberal, and then notably a liberal
of the classical kind: The 19th Century English philosopher John
Stuart Mill seems to be much more sensible on liberty and
liberalism than most who have called themselves 'liberals' in the 20th
Century. He is not a member of or believer in any modern political
party or movement.
Also, besides Mill, those
interested in politics or reforms should read Machiavelli and
Mosca, since either or both may cure them from quite a few
illusions. (Especially Machiavelli's 'The Discourses'.)
Logical Terms: Terms that
are used for reasoning
that may occur in statements
about any kind of subject-matter, and that are supposed to come with rules
that specify their valid
and proper use.
What are the logical
terms is not a matter of universal agreement, not even for a
specific natural language. But it is useful to have the notion, to add
a further characteristic and to provide a list.
The further characteristic
is that logical terms are often supposed to be syncategorematic
i.e. to have no meaning
on their own, but only in combination with terms
meaning. Whether this is generally so is doubtful, e.g. if 'class' or
'set' is a logical term, but it is useful in reminding that at least
many terms that have been deemed logical are syncategorematic.
Here is a list of logical
terms, or at least of terms that have been widely regarded as
logical and occurred as such in logical texts:
necessary , possible,
tautology , contradiction
ergo , follows,
not , and,
As I indicated, there is no
universal agreement on what are and are not logical terms but a minimal
set on which there is wide agreement concerns the terms that are
commonly used in propositional and predicate logic, which is a subset
of the one given above
The simplest set of basic logical
terms that is widely accepted as such seems to be this:
some , entails
which may be
simplified again to four by using the
Sheffer-stroke. (Note that entailment
styled as inference:
We need a writing or asserting rule in order to write proofs
set is suffficient for first-order logic, and may also be used
for second-order logic. (Set
require another primitive
each, namely respectively element
All logic books give rules
or rules of inference
lay down how to validly reason
involving these terms.
Love: A strongly
felt desire for the well-being of someone (else), based on admiration,
related to friendship, and between the sexes often inspired by lust
It is difficult to define
personal love adequately, and difficult to distinguish it from lust,
liking, admiration or taking pleasure, although all or most of these
are or may be involved in personal love, and some necessarily so. Also,
it would seem to me that real love is considerably more rare than it is
believed to be; that it is often confused with lust, liking, friendship
or admiration; and that the best, clearest and least controversial
example of it is between parents and children.
For those who read French
and some Latin, here is a relevant passage from Comte-Sponville with
the opinions of some saints:
distinguaient l'amour de concupiscence ou de convoitise (amor
concupiscentiae) de l'amour de bienveillance ou, dit aussi saint Thomas
(amor benevolentiae sive amicitae)."
From St. Thomas's Summa
Theologica in French translation, also with reference to Aristotle:
"Aimer, ce sera vouloir
pour quelqu'un ce qu'on croit lui être un bien, au égard à son intérêt
et non au nôtre, et le fait de se rendre capable en puissance de
réaliser ce bien"
Especially the last part is
relevant as a criterion. Here is a final saintly opinion from the same
text, this time from St. Francois de Sales:
"On partage l'amour en
deux espèces, dont l'une est appelée amour de bienveillance, et
l'autre, amour de convoitise. L'amour de convoitise est celui par
lequel nous aimons quelque chose pour le profit que nous en
prétendons; l'amour de bienveillance est celui par lequel nous aimons
quelque chose pour le bien d'icelle, car qu'est-ce autre chose avoir
l'amour de bienveillance envers une personne que de lui vouloir du
I much doubt whether these
saintly men ever felt real adult love for an adult woman, since
evidently more is involved than
benevolence, though it is true that wishing her well is an
important part of it.
In any case, and speaking
from my own experience of love by a man for a woman: There certainly is
involved the feeling that the beloved person is in some quite
miraculous way extra-ordinarily special, and in that way for oneself
quite different from other women one may admire for their beauty or
like for their sexual appeal.
Also - one reason to quote
these saints of the Church, who should not at all have felt this way -
the only credible approximation to the divine I know from personal
experience came to me in the shape of young women. And again unlike the
saints of the Church, I have enough experience of sex, and lust, and
love, all related to women, to know clearly and definitely that the
three are quite different, even though it is possible they come
together in one personal object. But it is also true, and the reason I
quoted the saintly definitions, that the best mark of true love is
genuine benevolence as expressed by personal acts: If you do not truly
wish her well, and desire her well-being, and are not willing to do a
lot for that, you do not love her.
Wishing someone ill, possibly backed up by deeds.
Human beings certainly feel
malevolent to some, and benevolent to others, and both
can be inferred from their words and acts. Often these feelings are not
rational, and in case of malevolence often due to lack of familiarity,
but this does not mean these feelings may not be strong.
Indeed, judged by human history
is little else but the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes
of mankind" : Gibbon - the forces that dispose human being
to malevolence seem on average stronger than those that move them to benevolence.
One reason for this seems to be that most atrocities are committed by
men who are not happy,
and human life and human society
many reasons to become unhappy, and few not to.
To those who believe that
this diagnosis is too pessimistic,
it may be granted that it is hard to speak both with confidence and rationality
about such quantities as "the sum of human (un)happiness", and also
that much misery
has been caused by indifference - since it is so easy to bear the pain
of someone else.
In any case, it is merely a
mark of stupidity to deny or turn a blind eye to the great capacity for
malevolence that inheres in humans, and to the fact that there is much
misery in any human life, and little pure joy or happiness, and that
what keeps most men's lifes tolerable are hopes, dreams and illusions.
And so far, the three main
source of human misery, namely human stupidity,
human malevolence, and human totalitarianism
have not found effective remedies, though the last 25 centuries of
human history give many reasons to support the notion that if intelligence
or both could be doubled, by a simple pill without physical
side-effects, addiction etc., human history
become very different.
of some features and relations
some territory; in mathematics:
specified domain and range. A.k.a. mapping.
The ideas of a map
and the closely related mapping are very fundamental, and are
somehow involved in much or all of human cognition and understanding -
which after all is based on the making of mental maps or models of
The first definition that
is given is from the use of "map" in cartography and the second from
mathematics, but both are related, and mappings can be seen as
mathematical abstractions from maps.
1. maps: It is
important to understand that one of the important points of maps (that
also applies to mappings) is that they leave out - abstract from, do
not depict - many things that are in the territory (or set) it
represents. More generally, the following points about maps are
· the map is usually
not the territory (even if it is part of it)
the map does
usually not represent all of the territory but only certain kinds of
things occurring in the territory, in certain kinds of relations
usually contains legenda and other instructions to interpret it
usually contains a lot of what is effectively interpunction
maps are on
carriers (paper, screen, rock, sand)
embodies one of several different possible ways of representing the
things it does
usually is partial, incomplete and dated - and
· having a map is usually better than having no map at all to understand
the territory the map is about
(supposing the map represents some truth)
represent non-existing territories and include guesses and declarations
to the effect "this is uncharted territory"
It may be well to add some
brief comments and explanations to these points
Maps and territories:
In the case of paper maps, the general point of having a map is that it
charts aspects of some territory (which can be seen as a set
of things with
properties in relations,
that is not relevant in the present context).
Thus, generally a map only
represents certain aspects of the territory it charts, and usually
contains helpful material on the map to assist a user to relate it
properly to what it charts.
And maps may be partially
mistaken or may be outdated and still be helpful to find one's way
around the territory it charts, while it also is often helpful if the
map explicitly shows what is guessed or unknown in it.
2. mappings: In
mathematics, the usage of the terms "map" and "function" is not
precisely regulated, but one useful way to relate them and keep them
apart is to stipulate that a function
set of pairs of which each first member is paired to just one second
member, and a map is a function of which also the sets from which the
first and second members are selected are specified. (These sets are
known respectively as domain and range, or source and target. See: Function.)
Note that for both
functions and maps the rule or rules by which the first members in the
pairs in the functions and maps need not be known or, if it is known,
need not be explicitly given. Of course, if such a rule is known it may
be very useful and all that may need to be listed to describe the
function or map.
Here are some useful
notations and definitions, that presume to some extent standard set
theory. It is assumed that the relations, functions and maps spoken of
are binary or two-termed (which is no principal restriction, since a
relation involving n terms can be seen as pair of n-1 terms and the
n-term). In what follows "e" = "is a member of":
R is a
set of pairs.
is a relation such that
(x)(y)(z)((x,y) e f & (x,z) e f --> y=z).
A map m is a function f such that
(EA)(EB)(x)(y)((x,y) e f --> xeA & yeB).
That m is a map from A to B is also written as:
"m : A |-> B" which is in words: "m maps A to B".
There are several ways in
which such mappings can hold, and I state some with the usual wordings:
m is a partial
map of A to B:
m : A |-> B and not all xeA are mapped to some
m is a full map of A to B:
m is a map of A to B and not partial.
m is a map of A into B:
m : A |-> B and not all yeB are mapped to some xeA.
m is a map of A onto B:
m : A |-> B and not into.
One reason to have partial
maps (and functions: the same terminology given for maps holds for
functions) is that there may well be exceptional cases for some items
in A. Thus, if m maps numbers to numbers using 1/n the case n=0 must be
What a term,
to or represents.
This is a very important
notion, and not easy to explain
Two good explanations in book form are Ogden & Richard's "The
meaning of meaning" and Lyons' "Semantics".
One important ambiguity
about the term "meaning" should be noticed to start with, since it
vitiated quite a lot of analytical philosophy. It is this: By the meaning
of a term of statement, such as "elephant", one may refer to either
some of the ideas
people may have about elephants, such as mental pictures or criterions
which to recognize elephants, or some real elephant(s). The same goes
for statements, like "I saw an elephant in the zoo".
A way of keeping these
apart is to write "elephant" for the term, 'elephant' for the idea or
concept, and elephant - without quotation marks of any kind - for the thing
one calls by
the term "elephant" and may remember by the idea 'elephant'.
Unless I say so explicitly,
in general I will use the term "meaning" to refer
may have, rather than the entities one's ideas or concepts represent
if only because often one does not know
really is something as one means by the term, and because one must be
able to understand the meaning of a term or statement before one can
sensibly make up one's mind whether one believes it to represent
anything real (in the sense of "real" one uses).
metaphysics: Two assumptions that together embody the
metaphysics of common sense, say, namely: Personalism:
There are other persons
than you yourself who feel,
similar lines as you do, and Realism:
there is one reality
in which all persons live and die.
The interesting fact is
that both personalism and realism
and have been denied.
Someone who rejects the
notion that there are other human beings who feel,
similar lines as you do - being a member of the same species as you
are, and like you born out of a woman and reared and educated by
humans, with the sort of body and the sort of needs you have - if not
stark raving mad or a none to bright philosophy undergraduate, are
(from 'solo ipse' = 'only I myself' (exist, feel my
exquisite feelings and think my incomparably deep thoughts, and
everybody else is my illusion, dream or projection)).
Even so, it is quite
that almost every human being is convinced that other human
beings - that, apart from ESP,
one only knows
as a body, without experiencing the other's experiences,
- do have
capacities to feel, experience, sense,
Also, there are some deep
problems here: See
Qualia and Other
Someone who rejects the
notion of realism
either is a kind of idealist (here in the sense: a believer that all of
is mental, like experience)
or else - more likely these days - a postmodernist:
Someone who, in the end because of the pleasures of
thinking, wishes to maintain everybody is as confused, partial,
and ignorant as she is, for this is what postmodernists (often feminists)
believe and proclaim: All of reality
is just a
text, a tale told by the ghost of Foucault, and everything (other than
the postmodernist's own bank-balance) is 'relative', 'interpretation'
major difficulty with relativists
apart from the fact that they tend to be unintelligent and prejudiced,
precisely that there is just one single world in which all of humankind
must try to fit itself peacefully with their different ideas of how to explain
all part of.
It should also be mentioned
that in fact most ordinary
practice versions of personalism and realism that are socially
They act as if and believe
there are persons
like them, but predominantly or only in the groups
they themselves belong to, and they act as if and believe there is an
independent reality, but predominantly or only as described by the ideology
in their society
and with whatever mythology this also may assume. Both tendencies,
which are quite pronounced in most ordinary
are due to a combination of social safety, lack of intelligence
minds: That there are other minds
- such as you
who are reading this, if you are not the writer of this text - is one
of the most basic philosophical assumptions human beings make.
That it is a philosophical
assumption can be seen from two philosophical theses that deny it: Solipsism
is the thesis that all there is is oneself, and the brain in the
vat thesis is that one is (or may be) in fact no more than some
experiment of some higher intelligence(s) that maintain one's brain (or
a copy of it, for example in a supercomputer) and feed it information
to find out how it behaves. (Then there may be these higher
intelligences, but all one thinks, including what one believes about
other minds, may be a - manufactured, manipulated -
Obviously, while either
thesis is logically possible in that neither claim is a contradiction,
to believe this seriously means that one runs a considerable risk of
being declared insane.
And although this risk should not frighten the serious philosopher,
either thesis is pretty mad because there is not a shred of evidence
just as there is not a shred of evidence for an unlimited amount of
similar mere logical possibilities, such as that one is nothing but a
creatures living somewhere in Alpha Centauri.
Much more interesting are
the following two points involved in there being other minds.
A. What is it like to be
another?: Although presumably all sane human beings believe there
are and have been other human beings, with experiences, feelings,
beliefs, desires, fears and hopes much like them, it also is a fact
that all experience any human being has is private - no one can feel
another's feelings, make another's choices, think another's thoughts,
go through another's joys or pains except imaginatively. (Apart from ESP,
for which there
is hardly good evidence.)
Note this also includes the
seeing of colors, the tastes of food, the pleasures of sex a.s.o., for
which there is quite a lot of evidence that people react similarly, but
not much reason to believe these reactions are identical for two
different persons, and considerable evidence this is not so even in
simple cases like the seeing of colors.
For some are colorblind,
wholly or partially, and even those who are not do not make all the
same distinctions in the same ways when seeing the same colored
surface. Thus, what one person may see and classify as a blueish green
another may see and classify as a greenish blue.
There is a lot of evidence
that different human
- regardless of race, sex, age, apart from illness and insanity
similarly to many kinds of things in many kinds of circumstances, and
this evidence is both direct and indirect. The indirect evidence is
medical and biological: Internal organs are much the same, and indeed
exchangeable (hearts, kidneys, livers); reactions to poisons and
viruses are generally the same; human DNA is very similar from human to
There are also many
similarities with other animals, especially mammals and apes, but also
more differences, and indeed it seems highly likely that the minds
animals have, in so far as they have them, are species specific:
If one has differently built or placed eyes (birds, insects),
presumably one sees in a somewhat different way and may be tuned to
different wavelengths. Hence even if all species live in one and the
their experiences of it differ systematically, dependent on their kind
and the sense-organs and brains of their kind
B. Having a theory of
mind: Human beings are educated
large extent on the basis of the assumption
that other human beings are much like them, and have feelings and
sensations and ideas much like them, which make it possible to
understand and interact with others based on the assumption that others
feel and think similarly to oneself.
The idea that another human
being is in many ways much like oneself, including in feelings and
ideas, even though these are private and not directly accessible to
others, is for humans older than toddlers much mediated by language and
more specifically by propositional
Recently, evidence has been
found that some other animals, including apes, in spite of the lack of
language, do attribute some kind of mentality - experiences, feelings,
intentions - to other animals of the same kind. Indeed, this may be
inferred from the fact of playing
together, which requires that one ascribes a certain kind of motive to
Thus other animals,
especially those that are social and play together, presumably have
some sort of theory of mind, in that they seem to attribute to each
other at least some emotions,
in certain conditions. What this is like is difficult to say with any
confidence for non-humans, for reasons explained in the previous
section, and due to the fact that so much of what humans think about
themselves and others is tied up with language.
of moral norms: There
are at least 9 features involved in very many moral
people make in fact that should be mentioned and should be
reckoned with and indeed accounted for, since they make moral
judgments rather different from most non-moral judgments, and also
tricky and difficult in quite a number of respects.
Here is a list
of these nine features, with some brief comments:
Wherever there are moral norms in a society, there will be hypocrisy:
of the supposed adherents of a moral code, which they defend by word of
mouth and occasional public action when this is neither dangerous nor
onpopular, do not in fact adhere at all or for the most part to the
codes they pretend to adhere to. They merely act as if because doing so
profits them or because not doing so would hurt them, and lie while
falsely pretending to practise moral norms they know that they do not
there are moral norms in a society, there will be lies, and not only
because of hypocrisy but to mislead people. Already Plato discussed
seriously the possibility and desirability for the political leaders of
the type of society he preferred to lie to and mislead the ordinary
people by pleasing myths, deceitful terms etc. Most succesful
politicians since have been succesful liars, though it should be added
this may, at times, have been motivated honorably.
Very often the moral norms in a society are defended and maintained by
people who are fraudulent and know themselves to be frauds. Three
well-known examples of the types of men and fraudulence I have in mind
are the Borgia-pope Alexander VI and the socialist humanists Stalin and
Mao. But indeed there are and have been far more of such men and women,
and it would seem that no well-known political party or religion is
without its leading frauds, who to a large extent preach what they do
not practice nor believe in to acquire power or influence over those
they mislead or deceive. (See e.g.
Wherever there are moral norms in a society, there will be bias: In
normal cases the vast majority of both the proponents and the opponents
of given moral norms or judgments will have a biased view of the
evidence, and indeed of what should count as evidence, while the vast
majority of those contending about popular moral issues tend to be only
informed about such evidence as they believe would strengthen their own
point of view or weaken the case of their opponents.
Wherever there are moral norms in a society, there will be prejudice:
only will most proponents and opponents of contentious moral issue be
biased, they will also be prejudiced, in that they hold points of view
and censure points of view not on the basis of relevant knowledge and
but on the basis of whether the supposed knowledge
evidence conforms to or weakens the ethical
assumptions they already have.
Wherever there are moral
norms in a society, there will be propaganda: The moral norms will be
defended and popularized by means that the popularizers know are
slanted, biased, partial, prejudiced, improperly informed, or simply
misleading, false or lies.
Wherever there are moral norms in a society, there will be a lot of wishful
what these moral norms would produce if only all or most men believed
or practised them, and also usually a lot of wishful thinking about how
bad, inferior, stupid or otherwise reprehensible the opponents (or
non-comformers) are. Likewise:
Wherever there are moral norms in a society, there will be chauvinism,
norms are meant to serve and express the interests, norms, values,
practices and ends of a certain society or group, and this tend to be
combined with much that may sound more noble, moral and honorific than
"Us is Good, Them is Bad", but which does not amount to much more than
9. Conformism : Wherever
there are moral norms in a society, there will be conformism:
rather than oppose what they disagree with or question what they don't
see the rational point of, will conform rather than oppose or publicly
disagree, simply because this is easier, more profitable, socially more
popular, or indeed because they know that opposition or disagreement
with the norms they conform to will be punished by the authorities.
(The main difference between a conformer and a hypocrite is that the hypocrite
lies in addition to being a conformer, and for the
knows he lies, and knows he does so for some advantage to himself or
his group. And it should be noted that there may be very good reasons
in a totalitarian society or religion for people to conform.)
It seems to me
these 9 features are quite important in the rational discussion of
actual moral discourse, and it also seems to me they are not often
taken seriously to the extent they deserve to be taken seriously.
After all, the
yield of these 9 features is that very much about moral discourse and
moral acting is neither what it seems nor what it is claimed
to be nor what people pretend it is:
Much of moral
discourse and moral acting is play-acting, role-playing, acting as if,
external conformism, hypocrisy, and based on prejudice while furthered
with propaganda. And it seems this aspect of morals has not often been
seriously dealt with, though there are some examples of texts which do,
if not in the context of a philosophical or logical discussion of moral
discourse. I refer to E. Goffman's "The Presentation of Self in
Ordinary Life" and to E. Berne's "Games People Play" and
also to Machiavelli's
"The Prince", which is quite clear and outspoken about this, and
which is on my site
with my own
extensive notes and comments.
And I say
something about a few of the above features and the reason why they
exist in my "Fundamental
Principles of Invalid Reasoning". Also, there is on my site an interesting
moral poem about the
role and importance of moral vice in ordinary life to ordinary people: Mandeville's
"Fable of the Bees".
And that were
just a few bits from my Philosophical
P.S. My eye
leave the text on my eye problems for the moment as a P.S., to
clarify why I
use such colors as I do, and why I have, for the time being, mostly
stopped editing my site.
October 15, 2012: My eye problems
are the reason this page has the colors it does have: It is very
difficult to look at white and light backgrounds with such eyes as I
presently have. See also: Why
colors as they are?
The diagnosis is keratoconjunctivitis
sicca (possibly as a part of Sjoegren's
syndrome). It is less than it was, for months, but not as I should
like it to be.
settings of NOTEBOOK aka NB seem the best compromise between what my
eyes can handle, and what most readers like to see.
they have been
changed repeatedly, as have the links below to
change the background (but not the color of the text box).
of October 13,
2012, the standard setting for the text box is white
text on a
darkslategrey background while the standard background is maroon.
Version October 28, 2012:
Black text on #339999.
Version November 8, 2012: Changed background
(Background colors work no more.) I may changes this again, depending
on my eyes. I may even return to Nederlog!
November 10, 2012: Black text on #CCCCFF, changed background
fact, most of what is read in Nederlog is written in Dutch and - as far
as I can see - most of that got selected because I wrote about
something my readers are interested in, which means, as is indeed true,
that quite a lot of old Nederlogs are being read daily.
[**] Probably it will not
be a constant background, but it is a nice view and a nice memory for me, and indeed I do
intend to write some more about Dovre
and Norway, and in such contexts it will probably reappear.
necessary corrections have to be made later.