What are concepts, ideas, arguments and logical inference? I will have a piece on this soon, but I wanted to raise an important question for y’all. Is Philosophy impossible?
Some concepts exist in a way which are impossible to explain with reference to a ‘concrete’ thing (e.g. a certain smell, sight, emotion…) and we might say they exist in themselves. For example, try defining a group or what a property is without being circular!
If you insist
Q: Define a group – strictly with reference to concrete things! (wait… is ‘concrete things’ itself an abstract thing?)
A: A group is a… collection of things?
You didn’t catch me out! – And, voila, you have cleverly used a synonym referring to the bit of meaning group and collection share. I got you.
Contradiction and inference come from how we fit these ideas together. A simple example is below. This combines the idea of ‘all’, ‘men’ [aka a group/set], ‘green’, ‘a man’ [aka a subset of that set], and ‘is’ [aka being].
All men are green. Aristotle is a man. Aristotle is green.
Does not compute
However, what if these building blocks of thought are flawed? What if they are so flawed they fail to relate to ‘reality’? This isn’t so crazy. If you are a bit of a science fanboy *ahem my co-authors!*, you might be aware that the universe is actually ‘4-D’. Or at least according to physicists. Imagine an ant on a small sphere experiencing a cute 2-D world. She might be shocked to come back where she started after walking in a straight line.
What is needed to reproduce is not necessarily what is needed to have an accurate understanding of the world.
Consider a life form which thought: ‘All men are green. Aristotle is a man, Aristotle is not green’, then happily got on with eating and mating. This might seem logically evil to us, yet what if it could still reproduce!? It, and its species, would survive despite their faulty thinking. Maybe it is not possible for ‘incorrect’ concepts such as this to exist.
Anyway, this post is unashamedly circular anyway, as I have to write and think after all.
Platonists for the win!
Maybe we should ditch any idea that concepts are biological in origin. It’s just not good form.