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In an ironic (almost Godelian) way, it strikes me that since Feyerabend provides an alternative to Popper's milestone, the concept of the milestone itself enters the realm of metaphysics through its own argument, which in turn reinforces Feyerabend.
But here's a thought: if Feyerabend's argument can be taken as a law (say the Law of Conservation of Human Uncertainty), then in a sense it forms a paradox, sort of like Russell's paradox of infinite sets (was it infinite sets? Some class of sets, anyway). Since if there are no boundary conditions in science, we cannot claim finality of any scientifitc theory or argument (since to do so would introduce a boundary of finality), and must accept that given enough time all science will be reformulated. But this implies Feyerabend's Law must also change, which allows some arbitrary boundary condition to be introduced, invlaidating the Law.
Of course, its all just playing word games :D

Chris: "(...)I would go so far to suggest that the very reason that Intelligent Design has been proposed at all is because careless scientists with no understanding of philosophy have been gradually trespassing on religions home turf (...)"

Oh yes, and I would add (if you look at clubs like the Edge.org crowd) that they do so with the arrogant posture of "the avantgardist of the second enlightenment" - carelessness or lack of education in philosophical and historical fields, lack of insight into or genuine ignorance of social and political matters etc.

Chris: "(...) , as well as being able to foster a more tolerant and progressive society in which we acknowledge people’s absolute right to hold different metaphysical viewpoints without feeling the need to attack people’s beliefs solely for being different from our own (...)"

What you seem to be reaffirming here is the age-old insight that the "epistemological dilemma" or the "paradox of the radical skeptic" (the "Erkenntnisproblem") cannot be resolved by reason alone, but has to be resolved by finding an ethically and mutually sustainable "way of life" or "modus vivendi". (Kant anyone?)

It's at this point that *meta-physics* needs to be turned into *meta-ethics* - an insight that at least in some societies was not only understood and but also recorded in written as well as practiced tradition so many years ago that the very fact seems simply too embarrassing for many westerner to acknowledged today (esp. if you are hooked on tech kool-aid - all they get out of it is eso-web 3.0 ...)

I'm going to diverge and defend memes briefly.

Memetics may very well be another metaphysics since the precise unit, though qualifiably defined (broadly as an electrical pattern) is extremely difficult to measure in a qualitative manner. On the other hand, what differentiates memetics from every other philosophical categorization is that memetics admits any model of memes is itself a vacant construct, merely a physical pattern in a brain trying to represent physical patterns. In other words, the metaphyiscs of memes is contigent on the notion that there is no metaphyics.

Think about that shit next time you're blazed (which I'm guessing will be sometime in November).

Thanks for the comments everyone! This 'campaign' has been building up to this post, as I've now covered just about all I have on metaphysics for the time being, apart from a couple of follow up posts on specific points which I'll aim to do next week.

--

ZenBen: Feyerabend didn't like his ideas to be presented as Laws, and saw them simply as observations. :)

"we cannot claim finality of any scientific theory or argument (since to do so would introduce a boundary of finality), and must accept that given enough time all science will be reformulated."

I completely agree with this statement! This is why I sometimes make the ironic point that the stereotypical Skeptic in trying to avoid being "wrong" during their lifetime has chosen a belief system which is definitely "wrong" in some important ways, but which we cannot know *how* it is wrong until some time in the future. :) If one wishes to avoid being wrong, the only safe course of action is agnosticism! :D

Patrick: you have so much more fun with the notion of memes than I ever do. :)

translucy: I thought you of all people might appreciate this post. :) And as you say, this is the end of the line for my metaphysics for the time being - now I must head for ethics. My copy of Arendt arrived earlier this week; I'm looking forward to reading it when I finish the Wu Wei Wu I'm currently reading.

---

Best wishes to you all!

"the stereotypical Skeptic in trying to avoid being "wrong" during their lifetime has chosen a belief system which is definitely "wrong" in some important ways, but which we cannot know *how* it is wrong until some time in the future. :)"

Yup. Whether this is, overall, a help or hindrance to the skeptic is open to debate, I think. But I'd hope that a well-informed skeptic would accept that point.

Now an interesting point. Let's rephrase that slightly as follows: "the stereotypical non-Skeptic has chosen a belief system which is definitely "wrong" in some important ways, but which we cannot know *how* it is wrong until some time in the future." Does this ring any more or less true to you than Chris' point about the Skeptic? And out of the populations of Skeptics and non-Skeptics, in which population would the members be more likely to accept the criticism? (I don't know the answer to the second; I have my own answer to the first)

I'm not sure what a 'stereotypical non-Skeptic' would be... the class 'Skeptic' seems more clearly defined in terms of sterotypicality than its negation. :)

The average person on the street probably has fewer testable beliefs (with beliefs such as the superiority of their sporting team, or belief in God, or faith in their own nation), so I would suggest the negated point rings marginally less true.

Anyway, please remember that my comment was ironic (I even said as such!) :D It wasn't meant to be an attack on your belief system - I consider you to be a pretty good advertisment for Skepticism, actually. :)

Chris - I don't consider your comment an attack, in fact you might notice that I agree with it!

As a skeptic (is the small-s relevant?) and more particularly as a professional programmer, considering negated classes and negated points is part of my stock in trade. Framing a question is incredibly important, as drafters of referendums have discovered over the years. "Do you want to abolish the Pound?" and "Do you want to join the European-wide community of Euro users?" are the same question in the UK, but I suspect the phrasing would make a significant difference to the outcome of a poll. Often, examining the negation of a point will bring a new view; sometimes it will indicate that the question is poorly framed or indeed poorly formulated. If the question is intended to be a razor of some kind, it's quite common for me to find that I've phrased it so that the razor is in the wrong place!

Anyway, this is drifting off the topic of this discussion. A common problem for me.

Drift where you like, Peter. :)

My capital 'S' suggests to me I might think of Skepticism as a nonreligion. There doesn't appear to be an ethical dimension, nor much of a mythology/central narrative, which would appear to be a counterargument. As a practicing (s/S)keptic, what do you think about this?

Peter: "If the question is intended to be a razor of some kind, it's quite common for me to find that I've phrased it so that the razor is in the wrong place!"

This not at all OT! Rather it's another important angle on the meta-physics-ethics-complex.

The importance is this: use negation on people's beliefs in order to test whether the belief they hold makes any difference to the question at hand.

So in the case of "skepticism": in which area is the difference between skeptic/non-skeptic relevant to further rational discourse?

My answer: in the _way_ skeptics and non-skeptics try to justify and further re-adjust their ethics, morals, politics!

Look at the fine-grained details e.g. "this ought to be donebecuase it was revealed by Jesus to us" v. "this ought to be done becuase it was discovered in a brain scanner". What are the pratical day-to-day differences resulting from those types of justifcations?

Nice weekend!

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