I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Beware! This may qualify as serious

Occam's Razor is a principle which holds that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Note "usually"; OR doesn't pretend to be irrefutable. But it does appeal to our sense of logic. It encourages us to look for explanations that do not invoke the supernatural.

I myself am attracted to explanations arrived at intellectually. Never more so than when shaving. Simultaneously while trying to decide whether my razor - not Occam's - had much more cutting power left, I pondered my inability to take on board systems based on application of the intellect, ie, philosophy. Nietzsche, Russell, Wittgenstein, Aristotle, that lot. Too hard for my ill-educated brain. Too difficult to hold it all together.

So does that mean that OR rules out philosophy because of its lack of simplicity? No. Despite its appearance philosophy is a written attempt to simplify something that - in its natural state - is appallingly complex. Philosophy is our best shot so far.

But might OR be fatally flawed anyway? Might it, for instance, always favour an explanation based on short-term rather than long-term gains. That the former are easier to understand and appreciate. Simpler, in fact. As a practical example: that it is better to receive than to give.

No again. OR supports simplicity but is not itself simplistic. Differentiating between short term and long term gains will depend on how the question is defined. It is wrong to assume that OR - or any other guidance principle - can proceed from a question put by an idiot.

But by now I had become clean-shaven and chose to devote the rest of the day to pleasure. Besides "pleasure" represents the 274th word of this post.


Ellena said...

Are you referring to Gold?
Can't remember which year I bought one ounce of it at $445.Can, or so. Walked into Guardian Trust next door to office and came out with one ounce of Gold and 25 ounces of silver. I liked the look of these pieces in my jewelry case. It was all stolen in 2007.

Sir Hugh said...

I rebel against too much deliberation.

An example: I am walking with more than one other and the route ahead becomes ambiguous. I make a quick decision and set off while the others debate. I get there first even though the route chosen by the others is quicker on the ground they have lost time in the decision making process.

I’m not sure how that fits in with OR. I applaud your admission of difficulty in understanding the philosophical stuff. I had a fair stab at ethics some time ago and my brain locks up like a watch with sand in the works.

Here is the title and opening sentence of an article in Peter Singer’s Ethics.

The Rationality of Side Constraints - Robert Nozick

A proponent of the ultraminimal state may seem to occupy an inconsistent position.

And so it goes on.

Ellena said...

When a post is written, the meaning has to be clear to all people, OR else an idiot might read it and make stupid comment.
Why am I laughing?

Ellena said...

PS I'm off to an 'Age d'Or meeting'. No idea what's so golden about our age.

Roderick Robinson said...

Sir Hugh: The short answer is it doesn't fit in with OR. For the reasons I explain - definitions are required and you haven't supplied them. You mention a procedure without first outlining (completely) the proposition that required resolution. For instance: was speed the only criterion? If it was then you appear to change your mind retrospectively in viewing what happened.

OR also has aesthetic and empirical justifications and is actually applied in certain mathematical work. Bertrand Russell offers another formulation: "Whenever possible, substitute constructions out of known entities for inferences to unknown entities." Perhaps that will help you, he says, sniggering.

Obviously I have simplified, the aim being to give readers a general idea. The second example was devised and defended by me. If doing a personal blog is taking risks, then this represents me at the absolute extremity of the tree branch. No doubt there is some under-employed Oxbridge BA (Phil) sharpening his axe at this very moment.

Ellena: It is quite easy to misunderstand the theory behind OR. I say no more.

But I can say more about L'Age d'Or. You have become the victim of a modern tendency towards Patronising Euphemism. Rather than come right out and say these meetings are for the elderly, the old or the senile (take your pick) they feel that these three categories must be protected against the truth with phrases that are more comforting. In straining so much to be kind (to the point of bursting their buttons like Peter Rabbit) the euphemists travel so far from actuality that comfort lacks all meaning. Thus you are quite justifiably confused.

Joe Hyam said...

I am wondering whether to challenge some of your inferences, but on second thoughts perefer to be philosophical.

Roderick Robinson said...

Joe: A thought has occurred to me. Being philosophical has nothing to do with philosophy.

Rouchswalwe said...

This is bringing back my days long, long ago in Philosophy 101, a class I took "for pleasure." I don't think I ever found out the answer to Descartes' question.

Avus said...

Don't know how you manage these deep thoughts whilst shaving, RR. All I can manage at that time of the day is to ensure that the lather brush does not go in my mouth!

Roderick Robinson said...

RW (zS): Garn! (Sorry - you'll have to look that one up.) Isn't beer frequently identified as the philosopher's crutch? Or have I just made up that proposition?

Avus: Deep thoughts (Heck, these aren't very deep, you know) are a way of hiding what I see in the mirror. If my face is real then it proves Eliot's quote: humankind cannot bear too much reality.