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Charlotte Philosophy Discussion Group Message Board › For Those Reading "Homo Rationalis" (The Book entitled For Every

For Those Reading "Homo Rationalis" (The Book entitled For Everyone: Rational-Ethical Living and the Emergence of "Homo Rationalis")

Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,360
Derik,

Thanks for your response--it helped me clarify that there are at least two types of definitions you use in your book.

Declarative definitions: Definitions made internal to the book "synthetically" for uses internal to the book (e.g., ethical sense, beliefs, mistakes, etc.)

Descriptive definitions: Definitions made internal to the book that attempt to accurately describe or model a past, present, future, or desired state of the world (e.g., optimal living, naturally-occurring ethics, etc.)

I find no evidence that these terms, “declarative definition” and “descriptive definition,” are used by anyone. They seem to be your creation. And they seem quite problematic, non-useful, and potentially confusing.

Your concept of a “descriptive definition” I believe is inconsistent with the accepted concept of a “definition.” I will explain below.


I would contend that the rationale you provide below is adequate for the first type of definition, but when your definition becomes descriptive of how the world actually was, is, will be, or should be, the reader must treat this type of definition altogether differently and assess whether or not the definition matches his observations of the world.

[Quoting Bill, omitted as unnecessary to understand this dialogue]

If we revise my construction above to...

"optimal living" -> "hypothetical best decision-making" -> "the hypothetical set of all decisions most likely to lead to the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future"

...I would agree with the first pairing and disagree with the second. The first pairing is a declarative definition, a synthetic one made for purposes internal to the book. The second pairing is a descriptive definition, one that attempts to accurately describe or model the way the world was, is, will be, or should be. As an observer of the world myself, I disagree that hypothetical best decision-making is the hypothetical set of all decisions most likely to lead to the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future. I would describe this aspect of the world differently.

To illustrate how the accuracy of descriptive definitions are essential, consider one potential beginning to a book on oceanography:

"Let us first define what we mean by an ocean. For the purposes of this book, the term 'ocean' will refer to a body of saltless water that resides between continents."

A reader might say, "Hmmmm, I thought oceans are salty? In fact, I am quite sure they are salty!" Would it make sense for the author to say, "This definition cannot be correct or incorrect--it is a definition used only for the purposes of this book"?

To the contrary, in the above paragraph, a definition is offered such that that to which the label (“ocean”) is supposed to refer happens not actually to exist. And that is perfectly okay. A definition is only for the purpose of establishing the agreed-upon meaning that a term (word or phrase) is supposed to have within a certain context, or domain of usage (book, discussion, etc.). A definition does not establish any “fact” beyond the fact as to what characteristics an entity has to have in order to qualify for the label (word or phrase) that is being defined. A ghost can be defined, but whether it exists or not would be a matter of opinion. If it were finally found conclusively to exist, or not exist, its definition would remain the same (unless people decided to change it).

But in addition, in that paragraph, the label being used (“ocean”) is already a widely used label with an almost universally accepted definition, so it does not make sense to use that same label to refer to something else, whether that something else exists or not. The terms I am using, “optimal living,” etc., are not almost universally already used with accepted meanings. Thus, there is no reason for me to avoid assigning those words meanings for the purpose of understanding my book.

But that does not stop you from defining them differently in your book (or post).

And we can advocate for different things. I can advocate for treating animals kindly, and you can advocate for freedom to bear arms. Or vice versa. So I can write my book, and you can write yours, and in our respective books we may indeed offer definitions to be used in our respective books, and even assign different meanings to the same term (word or phrase).

But now let’s take a look at what I am advocating for. To do that, we need to look at the context (which, in what you have presented, is missing). That context is in the few paragraphs just before what you have quoted. It is as follows:

We humans do good things, sometimes really wonderful things, which bring us happiness and joy. But we also do bad things, sometimes really terrible things, which bring us unhappiness and suffering.

What would life be like if we did more of the good things and stopped doing the bad and really terrible things? Would not such a change promote the good life for all of us? And what would be required for us to make this change? What we are talking about is changing our behavior. What is required to change our behavior?

We must understand what the DETERMINANTS of our behavior are, and how to CHANGE those determinants into ones that help us do the good things and help us avoid doing the bad things. That is what this book is about.

Okay, so you wrote:
As an observer of the world myself, I disagree that hypothetical best decision-making is the hypothetical set of all decisions most likely to lead to the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future. I would describe this aspect of the world differently.

So we are each using the term “hypothetical best decision-making,” but we have to specify “best in order to do what? I have already specified the “what” that I am talking about in what came before the statement from which you are extracting that term (“hypothetical best decision-making”). Later in your post (quoted below) you talk about something that you value more highly than what I am talking about (happiness and joy, and absence of unhappiness and suffering). So when you, in your book, are talking about how best to do what you want to accomplish, you will label what that involves with the term “hypothetical best decision-making,” and there will be no problem in understanding what you are saying. You will be saying “best in order to….,” and it will be a different “in order to” than what I am talking about in my book. So, again, I am offering a definition, not a statement of fact (other than the fact as to how I am using a term in this book).

What you want and what I want are two different things, and optimal decision-making in order to obtain them will thus be different.

Regarding your concept of a “descriptive definition,” you are talking about something like a person reporting the discovery of a new kind of insect. He will describe the insect he has found and then give it a name. These are two different communicative acts. The name will mean an insect of that description. But he could have hallucinated the insect, so his statement that it exists can be inaccurate or untrue.

(Continued in next post)
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,361
(Continued from previous post)

Parenthetically, another descriptive definition appears later in the book when you undertake to define "naturally occurring ethics". This is a definition that attempts to accurately describe the way the world was, is, will be, or should be--against which the reader can compare her own experience and observations to either confirm or refute your definition.

No, “naturally-occurring ethics” does not occur in a sentence that is just a definition of “naturally-occurring ethics.” I am calling attention to a conclusion that I believe others can arrive at by reviewing what they already have learned about. I am saying that we, as a group animal, have a kind of ethics that is an outcome of processes occurring naturally among most or all group animals, as carefully described in the chapter on “Basic Concepts: Ethics.” Now I may indeed be right or wrong in this report of my conclusions. My statements would not be “true by definition.” If you believe you see my having defined the term “naturally-occurring ethics,” please post that presumed definition so that we can see whether you are correct or not. (I think you will find “ethics” defined, but will find no definition of “naturally-occurring.” I believed that the meaning of “naturally-occurring” would be sufficiently clear as not to need definition.) So “ethics” has indeed been defined, and it is preceded by an adjectival phrase (“naturally-occurring”) that I am presuming is clear enough for the reader so that I do not need to define the phrase. And I am saying that something does exist that can be described with that adjectival phrase. I am making a presumed statement of fact, not offering a definition. You may believe that there is no naturally-occurring ethics, and I would debate that with you, and/or refer you back to the chapter on Ethics in which I make a case for what I am saying.

- - -


I believe that you are saying that you would prefer to use your definition because of what you believe, and that it is different from what I believe, and that is indeed correct. You do not agree with a specific statement that I make that represents what I believe I am observing and what I believe is happening, namely, the third exponential change. Or if you believe the third exponential change is occurring, you consider it to be a bad change.

What you want is for, as much as possible, everyone to obey (or go along with) God. (I believe this is a fairly satisfactory representation of what you want. If it isn’t, please correct me and explain the difference.)

This is a curious new definition of obey you've offered in parentheses, one that runs contrary to the ardent defense you made on page 3 of this blog (where I offered the examples of Mom, brother, friend, and Abraham Lincoln as using influences other than power to solicit obedience). However, pursuing this may be a diversion from our friendly debate, so let me respond instead to your request to explain what I want.

I want for everyone, as much as possible, to experience the freedom, hope, and love that comes from alignment with God.
- Freedom to make choices that are not self-oriented
- Hope in the promises of eternal life
- Love of fellow believers and the joy that comes from loving others as Christ loved us

My alignment with God is in no way contingent on my obedience to Him, nor is my day-to-day life an attempt to "walk the line" so as to avoid punishment. I was an inmate on death row--and rightly so for the crimes I committed!--who was pardoned into restored alignment because another, though innocent, took the sentence unto Himself.

See, what you are interested in is primarily how you feel, whereas what my chapter is about is how all of us can stop doing things that make us suffer. And what you are interested in has to do with a concept (“God”) that is not defined by you (at least not yet), and is controversial regarding its actual existence. You can do that, and write a book about it, but that is not what my book is about. Mine is about our stopping doing all these awful things that cause so much suffering. That is why I use my definition of “optimal decision-making” to mean essentially the same thing, changing our decision-making in such a way as to stop doing the things that cause so much suffering. (Of course I don’t use exactly the same words, but doing so is not necessary for the purpose of my book, in that, at this point in the development of the book, I have not yet tried for even more precision. I chose my words to give a general idea to the reader, that idea being refined later on. It is possible, however, that more consistency in word usage would be helpful.)

But let’s again clarify that your objection to what I have written (about optimal decision-making, described in the last post) has been possible by presenting what I have said out of its context, so that a case can be made for my saying something different than what I am actually saying in the book. You are claiming that I am making a statement of presumed fact, when I am really just stating how I am using some terms in the book. And then you are disagreeing with that presumed statement of fact.

Thank you for slowing down and giving me an opportunity to do a good job of replying. Now if there is anything in this post that you disagree with, please quote it with your reason for disagreeing. That way we can get even closer to where we disagree, and why.

(And BTW, I think it would be great if you started a topic regarding what you consider to be optimal living, using what you have posted above. There will be interesting issues to discuss, I think.)
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 121
Bill,

After so much time has passed, I'm trying to recalibrate on the topic we were exploring together. Am I correct in remembering that we are exploring my assertion that the below was incorrect?

By optimal living, I am referring to the hypothetical set of all decisions most likely to lead to the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future.

For my part, I want to make every effort to stay laser-focused on the topic we agreed upon.

- - -

Several times in the last post, you inserted a few comments such as "in your book" or "you can do that, and write a book about it". I want to be clear that I only provided a description of what I want in response to this request of yours:

What you want is for, as much as possible, everyone to obey (or go along with) God. (I believe this is a fairly satisfactory representation of what you want. If it isn’t, please correct me and explain the difference.)

As I was trying to follow your instructions as deliberately as possible ("please quote what you disagree with and why"), I was a bit diappointed when I read your response and found so many requests that I put this thinking in my own book. Was is not your intent that I clarify what I want after all?

- - -

Let's introduce some symbols to make responses easier.

B (for Bill) refers to

"optimal living" -> "hypothetical best decision-making" -> "the hypothetical set of all decisions most likely to lead to the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future"

D (for Derik) refers to

"optimal living" -> "hypothetical best decision-making" -> "the hypothetical sequence (or sequences) of decisions that fulfill the purpose(s) for which God created man"

I contend that D, in addition to providing the benefits I described in my last post, ALSO accomplishes the below bolded "best in order to what" better and more fully than B.

So we are each using the term “hypothetical best decision-making,” but we have to specify “best in order to do what? I have already specified the “what” that I am talking about in what came before the statement from which you are extracting that term (“hypothetical best decision-making”). Later in your post (quoted below) you talk about something that you value more highly than what I am talking about (happiness and joy, and absence of unhappiness and suffering). So when you, in your book, are talking about how best to do what you want to accomplish, you will label what that involves with the term “hypothetical best decision-making,” and there will be no problem in understanding what you are saying. You will be saying “best in order to….,” and it will be a different “in order to” than what I am talking about in my book. So, again, I am offering a definition, not a statement of fact (other than the fact as to how I am using a term in this book).

If we keep both definitions of hypothetical-best decision making, B and D, in the context of your "best in order to what" (happiness and joy, and absence of unhappiness and suffering), would that be sufficient grounds to continue the discussion? While it will feel somewhat odd for me to do so given my belief in a higher order "best in order to what", I'd be fine continuing under the pretense you use in the book to compare which of B or D is "best".
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,364
Derik,

Bill,After so much time has passed, I'm trying to recalibrate on the topic we were exploring together. Am I correct in remembering that we are exploring my assertion that the below was incorrect?

By optimal living, I am referring to the hypothetical set of all decisions most likely to lead to the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future.
Yes, that is my understanding. And the best quality of life is defined as “as much joy, contentment, and appreciation as possible and as little pain, suffering, disability, and early death as possible.”

For my part, I want to make every effort to stay laser-focused on the topic we agreed upon.

- - -

Several times in the last post, you inserted a few comments such as "in your book" or "you can do that, and write a book about it". I want to be clear that I only provided a description of what I want in response to this request of yours:

What you want is for, as much as possible, everyone to obey (or go along with) God. (I believe this is a fairly satisfactory representation of what you want. If it isn’t, please correct me and explain the difference.)

As I was trying to follow your instructions as deliberately as possible ("please quote what you disagree with and why"), I was a bit diappointed when I read your response and found so many requests that I put this thinking in my own book. Was is not your intent that I clarify what I want after all?
You may have misinterpreted what I wrote. What I was saying was that the definition that you regard as “incorrect” has been lifted from the context in which it was written, that explains that it is not a presumed fact about reality but instead just a statement as to how I was using a term. I was saying that, of course, in a different context, such as a book or post that you were writing, the term could have a different meaning, chosen by you. I was attempting to show that “incorrect” did not apply, and that the context of the statement was essential in understanding what the statement was (a definition, not a statement of presumed fact).

- - -

Let's introduce some symbols to make responses easier.

B (for Bill) refers to

"optimal living" -> "hypothetical best decision-making" -> "the hypothetical set of all decisions most likely to lead to the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future"

D (for Derik) refers to

"optimal living" -> "hypothetical best decision-making" -> "the hypothetical sequence (or sequences) of decisions that fulfill the purpose(s) for which God created man"

I contend that D, in addition to providing the benefits I described in my last post, ALSO accomplishes the below bolded "best in order to what" better and more fully than B.

So we are each using the term “hypothetical best decision-making,” but we have to specify “best in order to do what? I have already specified the “what” that I am talking about in what came before the statement from which you are extracting that term (“hypothetical best decision-making”). Later in your post (quoted below) you talk about something that you value more highly than what I am talking about (happiness and joy, and absence of unhappiness and suffering). So when you, in your book, are talking about how best to do what you want to accomplish, you will label what that involves with the term “hypothetical best decision-making,” and there will be no problem in understanding what you are saying. You will be saying “best in order to….,” and it will be a different “in order to” than what I am talking about in my book. So, again, I am offering a definition, not a statement of fact (other than the fact as to how I am using a term in this book).

If we keep both definitions of hypothetical-best decision making, B and D, in the context of your "best in order to what" (happiness and joy, and absence of unhappiness and suffering), would that be sufficient grounds to continue the discussion? While it will feel somewhat odd for me to do so given my belief in a higher order "best in order to what", I'd be fine continuing under the pretense you use in the book to compare which of B or D is "best".

See, I think that you are actually giving the method by which you would attempt to achieve the goal of happiness and joy, and absence of unhappiness and suffering, judging from what you said in tonight’s meeting. I have not, at this point in the book, specified the method.

So I would say that our respective statements would be something like this:

Bill:

[This book will describe what I believe to be the method(s) of achieving hypothetical best decision-making in order to achieve the goal of maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future, so please continue reading to see what I think would be those method(s) of achieving that hypothetical best decision-making.]

Derik:

[If I were writing a book, I know what I would describe as the method(s) of achieving hypothetical best decision-making in order to achieve the goal of maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future, and it would be to make decisions that attempt to fulfill the purpose(s) for which God created man.]

I am using JCA (joy, contentment, and appreciation) and PSDED (pain, suffering, disability, and early death) in the above as a more thorough statement than that which I made at the beginning of this chapter. I don’t think that alters our discussion any, and you are already aware of those acronyms. Also, because of a change in context, the phrase “happiness and joy, and absence of unhappiness and suffering” would be inappropriate. I used this phrase to describe a value, not an aimed-for accomplishment. There will never be an absence of unhappiness and suffering. We value the absence of unhappiness and suffering when that is possible, but it is often not possible for any significant period of time. That is why I use “as much as possible” (or maximal) and “as little as possible” (or minimal).

So hopefully you will accept the formulation above as to our respective statements. If not, please let me know why not.

Thanks, Derik. I think we are becoming clearer in our differences in belief systems, and it will be interesting to continue to compare them. Please consider starting that new topic I suggested.
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 123
Thanks Bill,


So I would say that our respective statements would be something like this:

Bill:

[This book will describe what I believe to be the method(s) of achieving hypothetical best decision-making in order to achieve the goal of maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future, so please continue reading to see what I think would be those method(s) of achieving that hypothetical best decision-making.]

Derik:

[If I were writing a book, I know what I would describe as the method(s) of achieving hypothetical best decision-making in order to achieve the goal of maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future, and it would be to make decisions that attempt to fulfill the purpose(s) for which God created man.]

Given the original sentence I disagreed with was your definition of optimal living, the above strikes me as a departure from the core thread of our exploration. What was your objection to the below framing?


B (for Bill) refers to

"optimal living" -> "hypothetical best decision-making" -> "the hypothetical set of all decisions most likely to lead to the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future"

D (for Derik) refers to

"optimal living" -> "hypothetical best decision-making" -> "the hypothetical sequence (or sequences) of decisions that fulfill the purpose(s) for which God created man"

Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,367
Derik,


So I would say that our respective statements would be something like this:

Bill:

[This book will describe what I believe to be the method(s) of achieving hypothetical best decision-making in order to achieve the goal of maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future, so please continue reading to see what I think would be those method(s) of achieving that hypothetical best decision-making.]

Derik:

[If I were writing a book, I know what I would describe as the method(s) of achieving hypothetical best decision-making in order to achieve the goal of maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future, and it would be to make decisions that attempt to fulfill the purpose(s) for which God created man.]
In the following sentence of yours, I would like to call attention to what I consider to be ambiguity that obscures meaning and therefore facilitates misunderstanding and misrepresentation.

Given the original sentence I disagreed with was your definition of optimal living, the above strikes me as a departure from the core thread of our exploration. What was your objection to the below framing?
Let me take each of the three problematic components:
(1)“Given the original sentence I disagreed with was your definition of optimal living”
Here the problem is that you are not specifying what the nature of your disagreement was, and that is the most important reason for apparent disagreement. I will clarify this below.
(2) “the above strikes me as a departure from the core thread of our exploration”
It is not at all clear what this “core thread” is that you are referring to. I will assume that you are referring to our presumed disagreement regarding the definition, not the more general thread regarding the understandability and accuracy of the book. If my assumption is the case, I have no idea what you are seeing as a departure.
(3) “What was your objection to the below framing?”
“Framing” is a metaphoric term and makes it unclear what is actually being done.

Now none of the above is real crucial in and of itself, but what I am trying to call attention to is that some of the presumed difference of opinion and presumed inability to agree comes from ambiguous (e.g., metaphoric) language. I am trying to be as clear as possible, and I therefore try to say exactly what I mean. This is never completely possible, of course, because of the inadequacies of language and our imperfections in the use of it. Nevertheless, I believe it is very important in certain kinds of discourse to be as unambiguous as possible. And when ambiguity remains, a request for clarification is most appropriate, IMO.


B (for Bill) refers to

"optimal living" -> "hypothetical best decision-making" -> "the hypothetical set of all decisions most likely to lead to the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future"

D (for Derik) refers to

"optimal living" -> "hypothetical best decision-making" -> "the hypothetical sequence (or sequences) of decisions that fulfill the purpose(s) for which God created man"

Okay:

First, the use of “->” obscures the nature of the disagreement. Not using words, but instead using symbols as you are doing, makes it almost impossible to see what the difference in our positions has been. You are using that symbol, as I understand it, to stand for “refers to.” But “refers to” can mean “is a term being defined as” or it can mean “is a term for a presumed fact about the way the world is, was, or will be.” So the very nature of the disagreement is obscured, since I would use the first meaning and you would use the second meaning, at least according to your original comments. So what you have presented, with those “->”s, would be an unsatisfactory substitute for what I have said.

Second, you have said that you accept my defining “optimal living” as “hypothetical best decision-making,” but when I further stated that I meant by “hypothetical best decision-making” “whatever decision-making would lead to the most JCA and least PSDED,” or the equivalent of those acronyms, as was clear, I believe, from the context (preceding paragraphs), you said that my statement was not a definition but a statement that was of a kind that you were creating a label for (“descriptive definition”), namely, a hybrid statement being both a definition and a statement of presumed fact, which, however, you believed was incorrect. And for that incorrect statement, you were substituting what you believed was a correct statement.

Now the nature of this breakdown in communication can be understood more clearly by using an analogy from algebra/geometry at the very beginning of the demonstration of some “proof”:

A says: “Let X = the length of the diameter.” B says: “I don’ wanna!”

Or:

A says: “Let X = the length of the diameter.” B says: “No! That’s not correct! X = the length of the perimeter!”

So I attempted to clarify (as I am continuing to do) how our communication is allowing for misunderstanding and misrepresentation. I have spent much time trying to do a good job at this, but please note that you have not replied to my request, as follows: [So hopefully you will accept the formulation above as to our respective statements. If not, please let me know why not.] Instead, you have replied with, essentially, “Well, what’s wrong with mine?” I am attempting to answer your question. I wish you would do the same with mine, implied in “If not, please let me know why not.”

I will be glad to continue my effort, but I don’t want to spend more time saying the same thing and not knowing whether I am being successful. So I need feedback as to whether I was successful or not. And if there is anything unclear or seemingly incorrect in the current post, please let me know.

Thanks , Derik.
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 124
So I would say that our respective statements would be something like this:

Bill:

[This book will describe what I believe to be the method(s) of achieving hypothetical best decision-making in order to achieve the goal of maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future, so please continue reading to see what I think would be those method(s) of achieving that hypothetical best decision-making.]

Derik:

[If I were writing a book, I know what I would describe as the method(s) of achieving hypothetical best decision-making in order to achieve the goal of maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future, and it would be to make decisions that attempt to fulfill the purpose(s) for which God created man.]

So I attempted to clarify (as I am continuing to do) how our communication is allowing for misunderstanding and misrepresentation. I have spent much time trying to do a good job at this, but please note that you have not replied to my request, as follows: [So hopefully you will accept the formulation above as to our respective statements. If not, please let me know why not.] Instead, you have replied with, essentially, “Well, what’s wrong with mine?” I am attempting to answer your question. I wish you would do the same with mine, implied in “If not, please let me know why not.”

The difficulty I am having accepting "the formulation above as to our respective statements" is that yours does not appear anywhere in the book. To replay your own wishes for what you wanted to explore, I provide your below comment from page 9 of this discussion:


Well, I am undecided regarding two possibilities that I can think of:

(1) As you know, my request of someone reading the book is that he or she stop at the first sentence that seems either unclear or incorrect in the context in which it is written. Now I would not want you to start at the beginning of the book again in order to come up with that sentence. But I have somewhat the feeling that if you started with the chapter on “Basic Concepts: Determinants of Behavior” and came up with that first sentence, we could make significant progress. That sentence would be the topic we were discussing. The development of almost all of the lexicon in the book is in that and the next chapter, on “Basic Concepts: Ethics.” I think that this might be the best way to proceed, because some of your subsequent posts led me to the impression that you had forgotten or misunderstood material from those chapters.

How does your formulation at the top of this post depart from this? It substitutes the sentence that actually appears in your book with one that does not appear in your book. I chose your definition of optimal living to explore as incorrect, and yet your formulation above has an altogether different set of language entirely.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,369
Derrick,

I chose your definition of optimal living to explore as incorrect, and yet your formulation above has an altogether different set of language entirely.

So you are saying that the following are two altogether different sets of language entirely?

“the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future.”

“maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future”,

(JCA = joy, contentment, and appreciation. PSDED = pain, suffering, disability, and early death.)

Tell me what your objection is. What is the significant difference, and why is the difference significant?

And please comment on the main point, that has to do with your having substituted a statement that you considered “correct” for a statement of mine that you considered “incorrect,” to which I responded that they are not mutually contradictory. I repeat:

So I would say that our respective statements would be something like [bolding added] this:

Bill:

[This book will describe what I believe to be the method(s) of achieving hypothetical best decision-making in order to achieve the goal of maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future, so please continue reading to see what I think would be those method(s) of achieving that hypothetical best decision-making.]

Derik:

[If I were writing a book, I know what I would describe as the method(s) of achieving hypothetical best decision-making in order to achieve the goal of maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future, and it would be to make decisions that attempt to fulfill the purpose(s) for which God created man.]

I am using JCA (joy, contentment, and appreciation) and PSDED (pain, suffering, disability, and early death) in the above as a more thorough statement than that which I made at the beginning of this chapter. I don’t think that alters our discussion any, and you are already aware of those acronyms. Also, because of a change in context, the phrase “happiness and joy, and absence of unhappiness and suffering” would be inappropriate. I used this phrase to describe a value, not an aimed-for accomplishment. There will never be an absence of unhappiness and suffering. We value the absence of unhappiness and suffering when that is possible, but it is often not possible for any significant period of time. That is why I use “as much as possible” (or maximal) and “as little as possible” (or minimal).

So hopefully you will accept the formulation above as to our respective statements. If not, please let me know why not.

So please answer whether the two statements seem to you to represent accurately our separate ways of using the phrase “hypothetical best decision-making” and whether you agree that one is not more “correct” than the other. And if you disagree, please state why. (Remember, it was you who stated that my statement using this phrase was not a definition in the usual sense but instead a statement that you believed was incorrect. That is why we have gotten to this point. So please respond to my rebuttal.)

Then, if you still have some objection to a specific statement from this part of the book, please quote that statement (including its appropriate context) and say why you believe it to be incorrect or unclear in the context in which it is written. Otherwise, we can move on. Thanks!
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 125
Bill,

So you are saying that the following are two altogether different sets of language entirely?

“the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future.”

“maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future”,

(JCA = joy, contentment, and appreciation. PSDED = pain, suffering, disability, and early death.)

Tell me what your objection is. What is the significant difference, and why is the difference significant?

Let's present both statements of yours here in one place for ease of reference.

- First, your original quote from the book:

By optimal living, I am referring to the hypothetical set of all decisions most likely to lead to the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future.

- Now, the "representative statement" you presented earlier on this page of the discussion:


Bill:

[This book will describe what I believe to be the method(s) of achieving hypothetical best decision-making in order to achieve the goal of maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future, so please continue reading to see what I think would be those method(s) of achieving that hypothetical best decision-making.]

Given we had agreed to explore the potential incorrectness of the former quote at the outset of this discussion, it would seem to me that the latter must be agreed by both of us to say the exact same thing as the former in order to take up this discussion as focusing wholly on the latter. I do not believe this to be the case for the following reasons:

1) The following segment introduces the concept of "methods of achieving", which has no equivalent or proxy in the original quote:

This book will describe what I believe to be the method(s) of achieving...

2) It is not prima facie true that "Maximal JCA and minimal PSDED" is the same as "survival and best quality of life"

3) The following language of "pointing" or referencing forward to additional content is nowhere in the original quote:

...so please continue reading to see what I think would be those method(s) of achieving that hypothetical best decision-making

Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,374
Derik,

So you are saying that the following are two altogether different sets of language entirely?

“the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future.”

“maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future”,

(JCA = joy, contentment, and appreciation. PSDED = pain, suffering, disability, and early death.)

Tell me what your objection is. What is the significant difference, and why is the difference significant?

Let's present both statements of yours here in one place for ease of reference.

- First, your original quote from the book:

By optimal living, I am referring to the hypothetical set of all decisions most likely to lead to the survival of and best quality of life for everyone, now and in the future.

- Now, the "representative statement" you presented earlier on this page of the discussion:


Bill:

[This book will describe what I believe to be the method(s) of achieving hypothetical best decision-making in order to achieve the goal of maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future, so please continue reading to see what I think would be those method(s) of achieving that hypothetical best decision-making.]

Given we had agreed to explore the potential incorrectness of the former quote at the outset of this discussion, it would seem to me that the latter must be agreed by both of us to say the exact same thing as the former in order to take up this discussion as focusing wholly on the latter.
Totally incorrect. This statement has been removed from its context, which was a subsequent development of the more specific issue as to whether I was defining a term or making a presumed statement of fact. It was not supposed to be a precise restatement of a previous statement, but instead a statement to be compared with the one representing your equivalent statement, if we were to compare our respective statements. This is another example of how you repeatedly promote confusion and imply incorrectness by removing the context from statements and implying or maintaining the statements are something that they are not.
I do not believe this to be the case for the following reasons:

1) The following segment introduces the concept of "methods of achieving", which has no equivalent or proxy in the original quote:

This book will describe what I believe to be the method(s) of achieving...
Co­rrect, nor need there be, because of what I said above.

2) It is not prima facie true that "Maximal JCA and minimal PSDED" is the same as "survival and best quality of life"
As I have already pointed out in the previous post, you are leaving out the explanation for the difference in wording, that was given right along with it, having to do with the sentence it was embedded in (its context).

3) The following language of "pointing" or referencing forward to additional content is nowhere in the original quote:

...so please continue reading to see what I think would be those method(s) of achieving that hypothetical best decision-making
­Nor need it have been. That was not the purpose of the statement.

By taking that “representative statement” out of its context and implying that it was supposed to mean the same thing as the statement quoted from the book allows you to claim that I am incorrect. That “representative statement” was constructed for a different purpose than simply to restate a statement in the book. It was constructed to be compared with a statement that was representative of your thinking in our comparing our concepts of “optimal living.” And I was demonstrating that our difference of opinion did not rest upon the question as to whether my statement was a definition, as I was maintaining, or a statement of presumed fact, as you were maintaining. So you are misrepresenting me as stating something I am not, i.e., that the “representative statement” was supposed to mean exactly the same thing as the statement from the chapter. To any reader, the absence of the context, consisting of the rest of the discussion that clarified what it was about, including the corresponding “representative statement” by you, would make the meaning and purpose of that “representative statement” by me totally not understandable.

Now the question in my mind is how consciously and intentionally you engage in this behavior. A while back, you had me believing there was some hope that you had changed and were going to engage in conscientious dialogue. But the same things are continuing to occur.

See Derik, I believe you know what you are doing. And I believe your goal is to show that it is impossible for us to agree. I believe your main methods are:

Taking sentences or phrases I have written and presenting them out of context, such as to make them seem to say something different than what I am actually saying.

Often refusing to answer questions, including refusing to acknowledge that something I have said is something you agree with. Instead, you just go on doing the same thing with something else I have written, with no resolution of the issue just discussed. (I know the above was an answer to a question.)

Using metaphoric, ambiguous terms (or signs, like “->”) to replace my terms, such as to assign different meanings or purposes to them.

I am of the strong opinion that we are trying to accomplish different things. I am trying for maximum clarity of understanding; you, I believe, are trying for maximum confusion. I am trying to show how if we use our words with the same meanings we can achieve agreement or arrive at the exact points at which our opinions diverge. You are trying to show, by cleverly distorted meanings, that agreement and mutual understanding are impossible. I am trying to have a discussion; you are attempting to defeat and in a subtle way hold up for ridicule, consistent with your effort to trash my book. And I will admit you are highly skilled at what you are doing.

And of course my calling attention to what you are doing will be held up by you as an example of how I am mistreating you or am “upset” and not rational and well-intentioned like you. But I think that it needs to be clear that that is my opinion as to what you are doing, and thus that I do strongly believe that there is more going on than meets the eye, as is so often true of human interaction.

So I now fully recognize and accept that I cannot expect reasonable progression of dialogue based upon a cooperative effort to obtain as great clarity of thought as possible about the actual ideas in the book. (My hopes had been stimulated by what you said in an earlier post.) But it is a kind of exercise that improves the precision of thinking, and there is benefit in that, and I may indeed find that there are significant problems in the book that can be corrected. So I guess we have to proceed with this process, even though it leaves me with some disappointment and sadness. You are quite intelligent (more so, I believe, than I) and extremely knowledgeable, so I do maintain interest in what you are doing and how you are doing it. And I do not conclude from what is happening here that generalizations to other areas of your life can be made. (I don't consider you to be a bad person.)
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