logic and the subconscious

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Thu May 24 23:29:51 PDT 2001

At 25/05/01 03:08 +0000, you wrote:

>I am not sure what all this has to do with Occam's razor. The injunction
>not multiply entities unnecessarily, or, translated into our terms, to
>choose the simpler of otherwise explanatorily equal theories, is just good
>scientific practice. It's obviously not an injunction not to avoid
>explantorily necessary or useful entities and causes. This hasn't anything
>to do with analytical philosophy or logical positivism. It's just what
>good scientists do. If you have a specific explanation that calls for
>posits others reject (say "value" or "class" or whatever), make a case
>that they are necessary, that they do some work. Then you won;t be
>violating Occam's razor to posit them. Occam's razor doesn't tell you that
>you must inhabit an intellectual desert, just that what you plant has to
>have roots and do work.

Yes we do differ and talk rather different languages, although courteously.

My loose formulation about Russell and Logical Positivism is not central to the issue of a cultural subconscious. Ionly arose because I grabbed Russell's History to check a few facts about Occam before posting, and saw some connections.

I think we are still left with a widspread respect for Occam's razor which seems to be so self evident as to need only a mention to be powerful in argument.

I see it as deriving from the economic base of a growing mechanical approach to production in Europe, a device like using clocks and dividing the labouring day into three hour shifts, regulated by the monastery or town hall bell.

It is a way of focussing on the main factor that might change something. Then in the cycles of production and scientific experiment further factors are discovered.

It is not Truth with a capital T. It is an entirely pragmatic principle an arbitrary rule of logic that some find convenient. It is not a dogma that can rule out serious consideration of the possibility that there is a cultural subconscious (small S) among adolescents in late capitalist society, which is more complex than just the sum of two drives.

I am not really posting this, again in some haste, to attempt to refute the alternative position, but just to try to acknowledge the post and clarify differences. These are not the sort of issues that people can or should change quickly over.

Chris Burford


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