Saturday, February 26, 2011


Again, I have missed a few roundups. The latest, #189, is safely holed up in the foxhole with the atheist in it :)


Thursday, February 24, 2011

A question and a dare

A question for various segments of alleged atheists (they know who they are):

If you consider yourself truly to be atheist, why do speak and act as though emotions were some magical connection to an infallible source of truth and goodness that reason is impudent if it dares question?

Don't say I am not looking at you: all those who posit subjectivism - of either the individual or social variety - are as guilty as sin in this regard.

Emotions are essential for human life, without which life is neither worth living nor even capable of being lived. But emotions are not tools of cognition - they are not means by which one can determine "this is true" and "this is good". So, certainly, they have pride of place in human life - but cognition is not that place.

Here's the dare:

Find out how emotions arise. Then go find a standard of value without committing that sin in any shape or manner. And, once you've done that, question every value judgement you've ever made.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Category theory

Four years of engineering mathematics and we were never introduced to this. Whether or not it was used in formulating electrical engineering methodologies such as symmetrical components, however, is another matter. We never got into that kind of underlying theory, we just learned how to use various techniques to solve real-world problems.


Quick note on sim.eq's and econ method

I realised this morning that, unless I expressly say otherwise, someone is going to think I am setting up a lead-in to Walrasian equations for solving economic problems. So let me now expressly say that I intend no such thing, and that I would view an attempt of that nature as inane (and that's being charitable).

The application of the analogy of simultaneous equations to economics lies in the issues of concepts and principles. That is, complex phenomena can only be understood by first understanding the individual elements and lesser principles, which is conceptually akin to using the solutions found to simpler equations as means to solving the more complex equations. This is as far as it goes, albeit good enough to begin hammering stakes into the hearts of both empiricism and rationalism.

By the way, I reject the complaint about a lack of experimental ability in the humanities, leading to an alleged justification of pure rationalism in these fields, just the same way as we can reject the same approach is rejectable in astrophysics. It is not as though since we can't experiment by making up new planets and putting them in a variety of orbits that we can't be sure of the laws of planetary motion, or that this justifies some sort of attempt at arriving them through pure mathematical deduction divorced almost entirely from direct observation, is it? I do not have any respect for the Austrians' special-pleading for pure rationalism in economic theory. I am quite sure that Newton, Kepler, Galileo, Copernicus, and a host of other figures who, through observation and inference from those observations, began to piece together the picture of how the solar system worked, would have some stern words to say to Austrians if they (the astronomers) heard the Austrians go on and on about the lack of experimental ability.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Inductive Quest

Thank you, Roderick, I'll be making use of this.


New Constitution, v12.3

I did an edit of my Constitution as a break from philosophising (yes, really). Version 12.3 is now available in the cabinet for your reading pleasure.


Simultaneous concretisation

During this revision of induction I had the intention of starting from scratch, given how fundamental the topic is and that I recognise my past methodology was highly questionable. I now attribute that, in part at least, to taking to Mill too enthusiastically. I now recall that it was from his "A System of Logic" that I got the idea, rightly criticised by Dr Peikoff, of treating induction as indicative and that a conclusion was settled when one could tie it back to something broader from which the initial induction could now be deduced. His methods, as elements, are fine, but that later wrap up method is way off. For that reason I have determined that I really ought start from scratch, paying very close attention to method.

Still, my post on the analogy to solving simultaneous equations did prompt me to try to find my old writings from back when I was first trying to digest Objectivism, not just the material on that ABC stuff but everything I wrote just to see how badly I did go wrong (I knew I did, so I didn't go looking for it before). Almost all of it is gone, though, both on my computer and physically. All I have seem to have left from back then (the general late 90's period) are three of those diagrams (the date-stamp says it is actually circa 1998, not 1996 as I had thought), some other trivial writings, my notes from Understanding Objectivism, and notes from other courses such as Objective Communication. To be honest, I am not all that fussed about this precisely because I now recognise that my own thoughts were deeply flawed, and because today the only things I would find valid is precisely what does still exist: those UO and OC notes. I do recall dumping some stuff for that very reason, but perhaps I was more thorough about doing so than I actually recall being. I do know there was a hard-drive crash involved, as well. *shrug*

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Simultaneous equations and induction

(Update for direct-hitters to this post: concretisation is here.)

A long time ago (circa 1996) I thought up an analogy in reasoning to the mathematical methodology of simultaneous equations. I eventually dropped it, however, because I thought it was too rationalistic (plus because I was being ridiculed for it - though somewhat deservedly at the time, too, I must add). I now realise that I was definitely on to something important back then and that I was wrong to drop it entirely.

What I had in mind back then was quite simple: if one knew the relationship between A and B, and one knew the relationship between A and C, where for instance A was oneself (ie one's consciousness), then one could identify the relationship between B and C as it stood independently of A (ie, contra Kant, conceptually able to identify things in themselves). Working on that principle, one can then tackle more and more complex relationships, succesively busting down complex equations into lesser ones and from there to the identification of individual variables. I had neat diagrams to go with it, too, such as:

The reason why I think that there is something valid in this for all thought in general (I've never rejected the fact that it was a definitely valid method of approaching the quantitative aspects of reality) is because of its connection to Mill's methods (particularly difference and agreement) and their connection in turn to the general cognitive processes of differentiation and integation. It is quite valid to view systematic methodologies for solving them, such as Gaussian Elimination, as being advanced implementations of Mill's methods to the mathematical realm. That is, what is GE but a complex method for the progressive discovery of residues? Taking it back to reality itself, what is the method of concomitant variations but the means of identifying the equations themselves? There's even analytical software available for that purpose - that is what all those statistical packages amount to, with the R-squared variables and the like indicating how much confidence one can place in the equations so generated from a mass of raw input data.

The other reason why I am reversing my past dropping is that Miss Rand noted that to invalidate concept formation one first had to invalidate algebra. The solving of simultaneous equations is an element of the subject of algebra! It is one of the methods that is directly applicable to reality itself. The fact that there really is a strong mathematical element to consciousness, along with that express identification, clearly suggests to me that the method of solving simultaneous equations ought be investigated by the epistemologist. But I am neither a professional mathematician nor a professional philosopher, so I will leave this for those professional epistemologists to develop.

That being said, I know what I know, I do know that I am on to something valid and that it is not to be dismissed as inherently rationalistic. "Everything in reality is simultaneous" notes Dr Peikoff in many places, and that hierarchy in epistemology existed because we had to approach reality in that fashion: knowledge is built on previous knowledge. I strongly suspect that this is also a tie-in with the spiral theory of knowledge, in particular applications, in that the more one knows the more one can go back and refine more detail out of equations that one had already partly solved in the past. Thus I will use it when and how I think appropriate, being careful of course not to get over-enthusiastic and rationalist about it.

Dr Peikoff also notes that science was nothing more than the conceptual unravelling of perceptual data. Miss Rand noted that cognition was a mathematical process. I would suggest, then, in combining the two along with recognition of Mill's methods and their derivatives (particularly in mathematics), is that science in large part consists of identifying the figurative or literal equations in reality or fragments thereof and also of contrasting various equations against each other to isolate ever smaller valid sub-equations and ultimately to identify the root irreducible variables.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

CR on unused credit limit

Following on from the previous post on these kinds of technicalities, this is my educated guess as to why there was a CR marker next to the unused portion of my credit-card limit. I'll have to look up a resource on accounting practice within retail banks, or be told by an actual bank's accountant, to find out whether I am right or wrong. That being said, I am sure enough in this guess not to be motivated to make a significant effort to find out formally. If I get the opportunity to do so that is not out of my way, sure, but not otherwise.

The appellation of CR is not accidental, nor a mere automatic repetition of such a tag in the software or whatnot. It is put there, knowingly and deliberately, for valid accounting reasons. The reason: contingent liability. The unused part of my credit limit is the amount of debt that I am authorised to cause the bank to go into. If I use that amount, I would cause the bank to then owe the merchants I've just traded with the amounts of the transactions in question. For example, if I buy $50 of petrol from Woolworths-Caltex with my credit card then I will then cause the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to owe Woolworths-Caltex that $50. That amount will then be deducted from my remaining unused credit and added into what I owe the bank.

Precisely because credit-card holders are capable of putting the card issuers in hock to others like this, it is prudent that the issuers keep a definite track of the amounts of contingent liability they are thus exposed to and in turn manage their financial and administrative practices accordingly - ie it is an example of using management accounting for its intended purpose. Thus, as liability, the unused credit amount (legal meaning of credit) is a credit-side entry (accounting meaning of credit) and so warrants the CR tag as per standard accounting practice.

Now, back to boning up on induction.