General Identification of the Argument in "On Methods of Inference"

  • And accepting pragmatic fact differs from the Skeptics, who were obsessed over uncertainty. It's philosophy ocd to be a skeptic.

  • This the the direction that needs exam I agree. How does one articulate "enough" in these issues

    Enough is subjective as a sensation, and it also has real world consequences for the person... AND, when a person is talking to other scientists, they should not be surprised to be laughed at if they say "a dream is enough for me" when there is more reliable evidence to the contrary of the dream.

    If a person is choosing to rely on evidence that is comparatively less reliable than other evidence, in order to make life decisions, that person is risking their pleasure. Epicurus had no hesitation in labeling people unwise who did not make decisions that were based on reality. If they spent their time worrying about punishment from supernatural gods, for which there is no evidence, that would be an unwise decision for their pleasure.

    So in choosing what is enough evidence, I propose that a wise person considers the feelings involved in taking time to learn, how much information is enough to give them feelings of confidence, AND the potential effects of basing decisions on evidence which is comparatively less reliable. Perhaps they will decide to drink a glass of OJ for their cancer because they feel least anxious about that and it doesn't matter to them that it's statistically likely to shorten their life. Or perhaps they will even drink poison which has been shown to kill people, based on a dream that it will not kill them. IDK. These are personal decisions.


    How much is "enough" for a person does not change the _actual_ comparative reliability of the evidence in question, and that is an important point to keep in mind. If a person decides it is enough for them to believe in magical flying unicorns, well ok then, and it doesn't mean that we would assess the complete lack of evidence for those unicorns on the same basis as the evidence for existence of trees.

  • This is the kind of thing that made Epicurus say (to paraphrase) that if we can't agree sugar is sweet, we might as well not talk at all. Mine would be that if we can't agree that some evidence is more reliable than other evidence, there is no point in discussing science. It would be meaningless.


    That doesn't mean everyone is going to agree on feelings about the evidence or how much they want to know it. But without some baseline agreement that we are going to communicate about evidence reliability and that there is such a thing as being more or less reliable, there's simply no point in talking about it.

  • This could turn into a huge thread as well, and that would be a good thing. I really want us to eventually go through the text of On Methods of Inference in detail and not even just rely on what DeLacy has summarized. For all we know his analysis is incorrect -- we don't want to put blind faith even in the experts toward whom we are well disposed.


    One major advantage that we have here, as opposed to some other of Philodemus' texts, is that the material seems to be pretty well preserved and we're not relying so much on "reconstructions." Although of course as I type that I really don't know that to be the case, and it will be good if we one day find a way to verify that the text is in good shape, and that what we're reading is not just DeLacy's speculations.

  • The paper Don found looks very promising here.


    Right now I can only think of one example that applies to Epicurus’ theology. It would go something like this:


    “All the most virtuous, rational beings we know have human bodies. The gods are virtuous and rational; therefore, they have human bodies.”


    So, I’m obviously not on board with that. A way better argument from analogy would be:


    “All living beings have bodies that are adapted to their environment. Gods live in their own inter-planetary environment; therefore, they have bodies adapted to their environment.


    In terms of his logic models that would apply to our understanding of divinity, the reasoning would be more concerned with what counts as a reliable perception. I deal with this a little bit in the “Divinity” forum.