Nominalism

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by Gryf, Jul 10, 2007.

  1. Gryf

    Gryf Guest

    I think that the nominalist doctrine oversimplifies in saying that abstract concepts are merely names. They are instructions, information or data. They are programs. This would tie in with the concept of "memes," I would think. Although the nominalist may be correct in saying that an abstract concept isn't materially real, it is effectively real as long as it has a medium in which to reside. Universals are information.
     

  2. breathilizer

    breathilizer Resident Ass-Kisser

    There are a bunch of hippies out there trying to sound intelligent and unfortunately they fool a lot of people. They think everything is abstract and therefore non-existent. They're too stupid to see past the abstraction to that which is being represented. For instance, there are things we call "rocks". A hippy would say that "rock" is just a word therefore rocks don't really exist. These hippies are known to throw words like "life force" or "god" into an otherside rational conversation. It's a tactic implemented to disguise their lack of mental competence.
     
  3. SuiGeneris

    SuiGeneris blue 3

    I know this is alittle off topic, but I'm not familiar with the nominalism thoery, does anyone have a decent link for it, or could someone sum it up?
     
  4. Gryf

    Gryf Guest

    This is actually a ridiculous oversimplification of the philosophy. Don't do it again. Although it is confusing, it has its share of merits.

    A person who has been educated in it formally, however, would say that, although the rock itself exists, the term for it would be meaningless if nothing in the universe fit the parameters for what we refer to as a rock. There is no ideal form for a rock, merely a set of parameters we set for determining whether or not a particular will be regarded as a rock.

    More properly, it's a tactic designed to confuse people into thinking.

    http://www.ditext.com/quine/stcn-con.html

    This should give you some understanding of constructive nominalism, which is more or less the color of nominalism that I tend to favor. Nominalism is, to slightly oversimplify, a commitment to using concrete language instead of abstractions. In saying, "There is no such thing as a cat," the nominalist isn't denying that there are things that should be called cats. The nominalist just prefers to use more concrete language. Instead of saying, "Cats have retractable claws," the nominalist will say, "There is a type of thing that moves about on four appendages. Its actions are directed by a sophisticated structure within the roughly spherical anterior division of its body. There are several entities that have a roughly similar structure. It is considerably likely that, at the terminals of the appendages which which they move about, there are rooted a number of smaller appendages, and it is reasonable to expect there to be another structure moored at their terminals that is "scythe-like" in shape. The structure in which they are moored can have them extended into view, but they may also be retracted from view." A person more skilled than I could probably dramatically shorten it, but this is the general gist of what a nominalist is trying to do. There are actually some subjects that are easier to understand if they are reduced to nominalist language.
     
  5. breathilizer

    breathilizer Resident Ass-Kisser

    I'll give you this point, but in practice "thinking" is usually interupted by a sales pitch.
     
  6. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    Thinking about such matters, I don't know that I do recognize a snow owl and snow as both being white. I'd say they're both white, and would like to think my words have some connection to the reality of matters, but I can't get over the fact that when I sit here and look at two cups I don't really experience anything like "both of these are clear". I just feel compelled to say it.

    The Pirahã don't have have any words that indicate numbers in their language, and at least one researcher claims that they can't even conceive of numbers higher than three as a result of it. It seems queer to me that language is needed to discover certain hidden truths like the reality of numbers.

    It makes an amount of sense to me to think of mathematics (even language itself perhaps) as blind rule following aimed at utility as opposed to truth. We shouldn't want to deny that computers don't need to understand what they are doing in order to do it. What would it even mean for them to understand something? If men are Turing compatible, then what would it mean for us to understand?

    Of course, this viewpoint is somewhat self-contradictory, given that it seems to pretend at understanding as opposed to function. Then again, can't we really think of the whole purpose of philosophy as ending the need for philosophy? Is it like scratching a mental itch? Eh... I don't know. The problem of universals always trips me up.
     
  7. Gryf

    Gryf Guest

    Depends on your branch of philosophy. I think that the point of nominalism, though, is to prevent abstractions from being confused with concrete realities. I think that this is the limitation of its usefulness. Nowever, I think that there are merits in conceptualism, a cross-over point between realism and nominalism that denies universals as concrete realities but accepts them as existing within our cognitive structures much like a computer program. I imagine that, if you were to show Immanuel Kant what we have been doing with computing machines for the past few decades, he would be very interested. He could have fun with that until the day that he died and never get bored.
     

Share This Page