Re: Philosophy underlying LO? LO266

Kent D. Palmer, Ph.D. (
Mon, 27 Feb 1995 13:44:20 -0800 (PST)

Replying to LO256 --

Thank you for your commnets.

Names/Propositions = Epistemes/Paradigms

How do you use your distinction? Could you give me a significant narrative
in which you use this distinction?

If you talk about names as categories then that relation myight hold.

Paradigms are unspoken sets of underlying assumptions of an argument.
I do not use the word proposition for what is unspoken. But then again
once we become aware of paradigms we try to speak of them and end up
usually with aphorisms.


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On Sun, 26 Feb 1995, Jim Michmerhuizen wrote:

> On Sat, 18 Feb 1995, Kent D. Palmer, Ph.D. wrote in LO157:
> > This is the whole point of Socratic Ignorance. Socrates came to the
> > conclusion that he was the wisest of men (as the delphic oracle had
> > called him) because he alone knew he did not know anything.
> A fine point, but perhaps relevant: Socrates' conclusion was not
> unconditional. He was careful to state that it was the only way he could
> find a coherent interpretation of two indubitable propositions: a) the
> oracle's statement that he was wise, and b) his own perception that he
> knew far less than anybody else, at least, than anybody he'd ever met in
> dialogue.
> Now, the oracle is supposed to be infallible. And, whatever the oracle
> might have meant by a), Socrates clearly wasn't willing to give up b) in
> any direct way. That would have meant re-interpreting the word
> "knowledge". So his resolution was, in effect, to reinterpret the word
> (or concept) "wisdom" instead.
> None of this generalizes to anything like a denial of your statement. I
> supply it because it's interesting in its own right, and because it sets
> up an important and reverberating dissonance between "knowledge" and
> "wisdom". (Well, actually, I guess I get two slightly different readings
> of Socrates the man here. On one reading, Socrates _states_ "I am wise
> because of my ignorance"; on the other, he _deduces_, in a kind of head-
> scratching confessional mode, that the only way both he and the oracle can
> be right is if wisdom consists in knowing that you are ignorant.)
> [ snip ]
> > In your post and in my response the words paradigm and episteme are used
> > as if they were about the same thing. They are similar pheomena on
> > different levels of knowledge generation within our tradition. But we
> > should strive to keep them apart as epistemes are categorizations that
> > allow us to make distinctions and paradigms are assumptions about things
> > that use categories that have already been established. I think you are
> Trying to translate your terms into those I habitually use to address
> these kinds of issues, I find a strong tendency to map your
> "epistemes/paradigms" into my "names/propositions". You will guess from
> this, correctly, that we are not near neighbors in the big wide world of
> philosophy. Let me urge that I'm not being a conceptual reductionist
> here; my conceptual pairup is in fact a huge and almost poetic extension
> of the ordinary meanings of the terms "name" and "proposition".
> Anyway, if epistemes are basic or primitive (i.e. not further
> decomposable) acts of distinction -- for example, the _ABSOLUTE_ kind of
> "before/after" distinction each of us experiences nine months after
> conception -- then I feel safe with the translation. And if that is the
> case, then I also feel confident about identifying -- at least as a
> best-guess starting point -- your "paradigms" with my "propositions".
> Well, actually, there's a couple of alternative terms I might use, but
> let's run with this one a bit.
> Of course, in no way does this effort at translating reduce to a simple
> algebraic sort of identity of terms. If common human natural languages
> don't work that way, and there's no reason to expect that two individual
> sets of usages would either. I think the basis for my second observation,
> associating "paradigm" with "proposition", is that a paradigm (in your
> usage as well as that of this group generally, myself included) is a kind
> of model, or an image functioning metaphorically to represent the
> structure of some complex system. The paradigm is simpler than what it
> represents -- that's what it's for -- but it's _NOT_ logically primitive.
> It has "parts". If we try to analyse the paradigm, whether for the
> purpose of questioning it, rejecting it, understanding or changing it, we
> wind up dealing with it in some set of propositions. The terminology of
> these will be given in, or derived from, or based on, something like your
> "epistemes": atomic categories or classifications.
> [ big snip ]
> I responded in another post to this same thread. I hope it's valuable
> (the whole thread, I mean) to the group -- it connects bigtime with an
> earlier thread (the one that persuaded me in fact to subscribe) on models
> and metaphor and paradigm.
> Regards
> There are more different kinds of people in the world than there are people...