Talk:Indeterminacy (philosophy)

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Reformulations in progress[edit]

I've reformulated the article's treatments of various scientific concepts to make them more precise (e.g., "characterization" instead of "definition" where appropriate, et cetera), and am continuing to do so. I will be adding a section on Popper's discussions of falsifiability and their relation to Nietzsche's criticism of the noumenal and the self-identical (more specifically, that both Nietzsche and Popper see falsifiability as a positive epistemological basis of sorts). I have begun to see this as necessary after having encountered resistance to the idea of Nietzsche's precursion of the use of falsifiability as a basis of knowledge on the discussion page for the Kantian noumenon, despite a strong evidential basis for such a relation demonstrable in comparisons of certain quotations of Popper and Nietzsche on the subject.

I am also going to quote Nietzsche more extensively; the quotes available on WikiQuote were really only meant to be provisional to begin with, and I intend, for example, to include more of Nietzsche'sopposition of being to becoming, along with his argument for such an opposition, since many of Nietzsche's arguments in general rely upon, or refer to, the indeterminate definition of the thing-in-itself

I've also differentiated more precisely between the Kantian thing-in-itself and the indeterminate in general: scientific characterization of the noumenon will be treated as impossible in general, definition of it will be treated as possible but vacuous, and its supposed relation to the phenomenon will be treated as analogous to the proposition that definition "arises" from indeterminacy. I intend to eliminate any remaining ambiguity between the "transcendental" thing-in-itself and the "indeterminate" "origin of definition within language".

Furthermore, I've included a better explanation of the possible relationship between the indeterminacy of definition and memetic replication, and I intend to include specific examples of this process (these will be treated as "arguable" examples, since much current discussion of memetics is considered "controversial"). I also included a better example of indeterminacy in physical models than gravitational singularities in the form of a very brief explanation of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, although I left the former reference intact as well.

I am also going to include a section on the concept of indeterminacy in philosophy as the simple negation of determinacy in general; this will entail a brief discussion of, and reference to, determinism and causality in general. I may include a section on "linguistic causality" (a treatment of words' and concepts' determinations of other words and concepts as "causal" as opposed to symptomatic of some other process, which is sometimes posited as the actual origin of definition but is generally only used to demonstrate the indeterminacy of causality in a closed linguistic system), especially as the latter use of the concept is opposed to the more Nietzschean/Foucaultian view that the meanings of words are only approximated by collections of other words and that they actually originate elsewhere, i.e., that their origin is outside of language but is nevertheless descriptible within language.

The indeterminacy of "definitions" of qualia will also be more-precisely elucidated.

A section on Derrida's use of the term in deconstruction is forthcoming as well; user:Mordacil is working on this at the moment.


I hope everyone likes what I've got to say about indeterminacy in philosophy. Please e-mail me for any decent reason. Tastyummy 02:55, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

Well, it's nice to see an expanded article. But I'd much rather see what philosophers and scholars have to say about it, not you. See WP:NOR and other policies. As it stands, it is too informal in tone and very non-NPOV. Aey 06:00, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

See the works of Nietzsche in particular in order to verify that my article does not contain original research. Nietzsche asks in Beyond Good and Evil (or maybe it was in The Dawn), "Why not untruth rather than truth?" among many other things that succinctly reformulate this page. Foucault writes in "Madness and Civilization" of the evolution of the concept of insanity from an indeterminate difference between "normal" and "abnormal" people. In other words, this is not original research because these arguments are by no means new. Much of Nietzsche's work was a criticism of Kant's thing in itself; he argued that it was indeterminate in that it had no properties. See Twilight of the Idols, Beyond Good and Evil, et cetera. This is an undercurrent of much of Nietzsche's work. I would consider Nietzsche, Kant, Schopenhauer, Foucault, et al. to be "philosophers and scholars" and "not me", wouldn't you? Furthermore, anyone can be a philosopher, and I see no reason not to call myself one; you probably are as well if you were even remotely interested in this article; I am _not_, however, promoting original research on Wikipedia. The reason I call this a "current problem" is its relation to qualia via Dennett's criticism. In Consciousness Explained, he argues that the indeterminacy of qualia makes them unneccessary. This is a documented work referenced in many other articles; if you doubt the veracity of my claims perhaps you ought to read the book before asserting that what I am saying here is "original". Any other problems will be addressed immediately once they are enumerated specifically-- what, exactly, makes an article "too informal in tone"? My references to the author, such as "if I were to argue", et cetera, could be changed immediately to "if one were to argue", et cetera; I have absolutely no problem with this. It seems NPOV to me too; if you could please point out _specific_ problems, I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks for your criticism, Tastyummy 06:57, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I'll be more specific with what I mean by original research (or you could read WP:NOR for yourself). This page, for example, talks about Nietzsche, and you make note of this undercurrent about Nietzsche, and yet you haven't sourced any secondary sources that would verify the stance of such an undercurrent. In short, it qualifies as original research because you are making an interpretation of Nietzsche's work -- it isn't sourced to anyone as yet. Please read WP:NOR carefully to see what I mean. "Original" here doesn't mean it isn't new, but that the material formulates a novel interpretation. I'm well aware of what interpreters are doing with Nietzsche, by the way. And I think in your comment you meant "It seems non-NPOV to me too", am I wrong? Aey 07:08, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

I've depersonalized some of the writing. Is this more suitable? Citations are on the way. Please follow the links to other philosophers and examine their work, at least shortly, in order to see that this work is not original while I try to find the exact citations. I'll need to go to a library for Foucault's The Order of Things and find my copies of Noetzsche's works; this should only take a day or two, but I'm in the process of moving, so many of my books are packed away. Please be patient. Tastyummy 07:05, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Well, about Nietzsche, I would be more comfortable with someone else's commentary on his work, because Nietzsche's way of writing makes it difficult to make deductions that wouldn't qualify as original research. Aey 07:09, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

I can try to find Kauffman's Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, but it's really pretty dated. New arguments over Nietzsche's intended meanings in his arguments are constant among students of his work, and this includes among "experts". I would request that you consider allowing the arguments to stay for now, since an argument from the authority of an expert is always philosophically unsound anyway; experts do not agree on what Nietzsche's work "means". It is possible to make very clear deductions from any philosophical work if the work is clearly-written, and Nietzsche is considered by many to be an excellent writer; I can, as I say, find some good Nietsche quotes that should be relatively easy to comprehend. Also, please refer to the article on the thing in itself, where I've further discussed Nietzschean criticisms of Kant's noumenon. This particular criticism is quite well-documented; search the net for "Nietzsche criticism Kant thing in itself" (minus quotes) and you should be able to find a reference. (If not, try similar terms.) Kauffmann and Hollingdale, two great translators of and commentators on Nietzsche, agree that it is a major theme of his work. Tastyummy 07:20, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Why would I want to remove it? No one would be able to verify it. You miss the point regarding my talk about deduction: any deductions here, that is, in Wikipedia, are original research. It cannot be made any more clear here. I'm aware of the criticisms themselves and how Kaufmann and Hollingdale have made note of them, but they surely did not characterize it as "indeterminacy" -- others have done this. It is these interpreters that must be referenced when discussing Nietzsche. Otherwise, such material amounts to nothing for this encyclopedia. Aey 07:26, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Here we go. "The 'thing in itself' (which is precisely what the pure truth, apart from any of its consequences, would be) is likewise something quite incomprehensible to the creator of language and something not in the least worth striving for." -Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, [1] I am adding this to the main article. Tastyummy 07:26, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Per above, I suggest you do not -- at least, until there has been sufficient indication that others have attributed this quotation to the level of "indeterminacy" that the article elaborates. Aey 07:28, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

I believe you meant to type "others", and not "other's". Furthermore, a quotation cannot be "attributed" to a "level of 'indeterminacy'. Have you even read this article in its entirety? "something quite incomprehensible to the creator of language" is exactly what I am talking about. I don't see where there's room for argument. I'd like to see some counterevidence, if you can produce any. Tastyummy 07:31, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Per WP:VER the burden of proof lies on you. Do not be combative; the article must meet specific demands, and I am reinforcing them. Aey 07:38, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

I've got to get some sleep. I'll revisit this discussion tomorrow. I do sincerely appreciate your criticism and implore that you be patient with this article, as I intend to produce more citations. Thanks very much, Tastyummy 07:33, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

The burden of proof of what, exactly? How is this quotation inappropriate? Nietzsche most certainly said it. How can an argument from authority override Nietzsche's original material? I do apologize for being combative, though.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribsWHOIS)

Excuse me, there was some slight misunderstanding on my part and in making my self understood. What I mean to say is that if you are to quote N then you must be careful about making any deductions. That is all. I saw the context in which you placed it and it is perfectly fine. Aey 07:43, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Hold on a moment. I've found a few other quotes of interest; there was an edit conflict just then but I'll have them up in a minute.

"The various languages placed side by side show that with words it is never a question of truth, never a question of adequate expression; otherwise, there would not be so many languages. The 'thing in itself' (which is precisely what the pure truth, apart from any of its consequences, would be) is likewise something quite incomprehensible to the creator of language and something not in the least worth striving for. [...] Every word instantly becomes a concept precisely insofar as it is not supposed to serve as a reminder of the unique and entirely individual original experience to which it owes its origin; but rather, a word becomes a concept insofar as it simultaneously has to fit countless more or less similar cases - which means, purely and simply, cases which are never equal and thus altogether unequal. [...] What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and; anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions- they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins."

-all from Wikiquote, [2]

And here's another: "I would repeat it, however, a hundred times, that "immediate certainty," as well as "absolute knowledge" and the "thing in itself," involve a CONTRADICTIO IN ADJECTO; we really ought to free ourselves from the misleading significance of words!" -[3]

And one more for now: "For all its detachment and freedom from emotion, our science is still the dupe of linguistic habits; it has never got rid of those changelings called "subjects." The atom is one such changeling, another is the Kantian "thing-in-itself." (241)" -[4]

These are all direct quotes from Nietsche's work, free from my interpretation. Please consider their relevance to the article. Tastyummy 07:52, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Now I really do have to get some sleep. Thanks again for your help and criticism. I'll be back tomorrow. Tastyummy 07:54, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Hello again-- I've added several quotes from Nietzsche, all cited as requested. The arguments should really be quite easy to follow; as I say, some sections of my article are a virtual paraphrasis of what Nietzsche originally said. If there is any disagreement as to whether these quotations are appropriate, please discuss the reasons here before removing them. I intend next to gather specific quotations from Foucault, but now I've got to go to work. Thanks again, Tastyummy 13:24, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Is it necessary to change the way I cited Webster's? I included the title and publish date since this dictionary isn't available online. Would it be better to try to find a loop of definition in a freely-available dictionary instead? I chose Webster's Third New International because it's "the dictionary" in America, and I don't have access to Oxford's, which is, in my opinion, better, but in which it would take longer to find an example anyway. I figured citing it the way I did was appropriate, but please let me know if this is not the case. Tastyummy 13:51, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

I added a non-personal interpretation of Foucault in support of this article's argument with a citation. Tastyummy 14:07, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

I have also added a better description of Foucault's notion of indeterminacy; it is from another Wikipedia article which cites all sources used therein; is this acceptable for the verifiability standards of Wikipedia? I assume so, since the verifiability of the article I referenced has not been questioned. See where it says "Rather than looking for a deeper meaning underneath discourse or looking for the source of meaning in some transcendental subject, Foucault analyzes the conditions of existence for meaning"-- the "transcendental subject" is the indeterminacy Foucault is avoiding. It is akin to Kant's thing in itself in that both are "transcendental".

I think I have provided enough evidence that my statements about the work of other philosophers are verifiable and do not reflect any radical interpretation thereof. I am therefore respectfully requesting that the "original research/unverified claims" tags be removed. If there is further reason to keep them, please discuss it here so that I can fix it. I will not remove the tags myself until it is agreed that my statements meet Wikipedia's standards. Tastyummy 14:41, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

I provided an external link to a credited expert on the philosophy of consciousness in support of statements made in this article: [5] I hope this can serve as further evidence that this article does not constitute original research. Tastyummy 16:43, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Somehow I forgot to save my last edit; I have now added the external link I mentioned plus one more. Again, the first article completely agrees with this one and was written by a Ph. D. with background in both quantum mechanics and Nietzschean philosophy. Tastyummy 17:30, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

This should be pretty convincing: there is a Quantum Nietzsche Society which supports this article's statements on indeterminacy in philosophy. The author I mentioned above has also published work on the subject entitled The Will to Power and the Nature of Dissipative Systems. Surely this counts as expert opinion. And yes, in his article he does use the term "indeterminacy" in reference to quantum mechanics in direct relation to Nietzschean philosophy. Please look into this and, if you still think I've made up this concept myself, kindly take the time to explain why your views override those of others on this subject. I am again requesting that the "unverified" and "original" tags be removed as soon as possible. I don't know how to formally make this request on Wikipedia, so if you are uwilling to do so, I would appreciate it if you could point me in the right direction, since you are more familiar than I am with Wikipedia policies (I am not being sarcastic; I really would appreciate advice on this). Regards, Tastyummy 18:57, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Here is another reference to the use of the term "indeterminacy" in philosophical discussion of the topic of this article: "This does not sound like a text with a determinate meaning. There is no doubt that this text regards murder as a bad thing, but there is plenty of doubt about what it thinks should be done about it. Indeterminacy of course does not itself amount to a deconstruction. What makes the text self-deconstructive is that its claim is undermined by its content." [6], from an article on Ethics as Deconstruction Tastyummy 19:38, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

To Aey: I apologize for my continuous air of rudeness throughout much of the above discussion and especially earlier on. You have been extremely helpful in perfecting this article and helping me to understand Wikipedia's policies. Although I have indeed read (many of) them, your experience in these matters is greatly appreciated. Check your user article for a pleasant surprise from yours truly. Also: what would you consider to be some of your best articles? I'd love to have a look in order to refer to them as policy-conformant, or simply because they're interesting. I will continue to clean up this article in accordance with Wikipedia's guidelines. Tastyummy 21:36, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Another article with references to indeterminacy: Deterministic system (philosophy)

When I said this page is original research (many times now), I'm saying this only: it attempts to stand alone, where in fact an article is supposed to be an amalgam of sources. Wikipedia is a tertiary source, and a lot of this article has uncited statements of original research, whether you believe me or not. I will continue to seive through its many flaws. Aey 21:31, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Okay, perhaps by now you will have a clear view of what it means that this article is original research. Due to the nature of a wiki, these problems can always be fixed. For very young articles these kinds of problems are quite common. If you want to look at articles that have been highly rated in the community as sources for comparison, then look here: WP:FA. Aey 21:52, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

See my discussion of "grammar problems" at the top of this page. Original research, maybe, but incorrect grammar is not present to any great degree in this article.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Tastyummy (talkcontribs)

Grammar and style problems[edit]

To user:aey: My grammar is actually particularly excellent. I scored perfectly on the verbal and writing sections of the SAT and ACT tests. You have now produced more grammatical errors in this article than were there to begin with: 1. In changing my formulation to

"[Another example is 'actuality' the first definition for which is 'the quality or state of being actual'; finally is 'actual', and a definition of which is 'existent in act' or '[that which is] EXISTENT'."

you have changed a single example of a single phenomenon into multiple examples of something unspecified in the sentence, which do not by themselves illustrate anything. Furthermore, "and a definition of which" is incorrect because "and" is unneccessary here: the phrase "a definition of which is" is being used to describe a word; your use of "and" divides the sentence into two incoherent statements. Finally, Webster's does not use the phrase "that which is" in its definition, since "actual" is an adjective and in order to be correctly described by the phrase "that which is" a word would have to be a noun. Does "citation needed" ring a bell? I own a copy of this dictionary and replaced only irrelevant parts of the entry with [...].

2. It is not appropriate to place this sentence

"However, within a dictionary, the "meaning" of a term is not absolute; all dictionaries provide guidance for terms' various and particular usages."

in a section illustrating an argument in the opposite direction. It leaves the reader confused as to the point of the entire section. It would be better to place it in the "Criticisms" section.

3. "Upheld" makes less sense than "cherished" where I used it, because to uphold something is to sustain it, and scientists do not need to sustain the quantifiability of their experimental results once that quantifiability is attained. Quantifiable experimental results will continue to be so without assistance. If you think "cherished" is too emotionally-loaded, at least replace it with something that actually makes sense, if you don't mind.

4. "Attempt at associations" should have been plural since multiple attempts are being discussed. I have changed this one back already.

5. "Attempts at associations" should only be used in a description of associations between two or more things. This is irrelevant to the example being discussed. Quantification and association are not the same thing; association is, roughly, relation, while quantification is measurement via a set standard.

6. "would be needed" is also incorrect. One could demonstrate the influence of indeterminate concepts on the social sciences in other ways than attempting to quantify DSM diagnoses.

Please be sure of your own grammar before "fixing" mine in the future, and if you find more "problems" discuss them here before modifying them in a way that makes them either illogical statements or improper English. Tastyummy 22:08, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Defend how excellent you feel you are, but statements should be as clear as possible; and since you have to explain them, it is already an indication of their opacity. You might also want to cool down if you think my edits were somehow in violation of your rather up-in-the-sky attitude; again, don't be combative. That is counterproductive. If you cannot stand people mercilessly editing your contributions, then you would be more pleased by not participating at Wikipedia at all. This article has many problems with it, and it would be in your best interest for you not to react this way in the future. Many of the statements still lack clarity and that is the underlying motive for my corrections. As you see, this isn't just about grammar, it's about style as well. Aey 22:28, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

The comment that was just deleted was, in fact, mine. Ban me if you like. I really don't give a damn. (see the history if you'd like to see what I'm talking about) Tastyummy 01:57, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Whether you acknowledge it or not, this article fails on many points (which isn't all that bad: room for improvement will always be there). I feel it is too bad you had to vent your frustrations through a childish diatribe instead of reckoning with the simple facts of the issue at hand -- I do agree that my edits may have been incorrect, but you do not seem to realize how unclear the statements themselves are, and trying to justify this lack of clarity by pointing to indeterminacy itself isn't a good move on your part. If you want people to know what the article is talking about then the article must be written with coherence, not merely perfect grammar, which doesn't go particularly far. It is terrible that you feel, due to such a horrible misunderstanding, you must leave Wikipedia altogether. I will still be here if you decide to return, and I will ignore many of your personal attacks that you (incorrectly) cited in your defense against me in bad faith. Aey 02:30, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

All right; I lied. I have to say this once more. Yes, I made personal attacks against you, because I really don't like what you did with my work, and this is, in all seriousness, why I am leaving Wikipedia: but you did contribute to my frustration in a very tangible way, in that you did not produce any evidence of certain of my "mistakes"; rather, you simply claimed that they were there. I admit, for example, that the article needed to cite more sources, but I was working on this. The final straw was your unwillingness to discuss what made any of my statements "unclear", for example. My arguments were quite logical; if they were not, the way to deal with this is to discuss the mistakes in them before modifying them. Why else would Wikipedia even provide a discussion page? And my needing to explain why my grammar was correct to a person who did not understand it does not mean the statements in question were incorrect; it is more likely that it simply means that the critic in question has worse grammar than I do. The nature of the concept of indeterminacy makes it difficult to talk about it without using very specific definitions. These are not always easy to understand, but neither, necessarily, is philosophy in general. Logic and argumental soundness should never be sacrificed for the sake of some intangible, superficial "clarity", in my own opinion, and this is why I no longer want any part in the creation of an encyclopedia based upon such an ethic. I do not regret my personal attacks against someone who ruined my work without taking the time to discuss a compromise with me before doing so. I shall reiterate one final point: original sources in philosophy are more valuable than interpretations by "experts". An argument from authority is never a logical argument. Goodbye, Tastyummy 02:47, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

You simply forget this is a Wiki, that is, a community. If someone makes an edit that was incorrect, then change it. No big deal. Be bold states one can make an edit where one sees it is necessary. And at any rate, I do not see much "logical soundness" in the article, which certainly wouldn't vindicate the article's validity anyway, because "logical arguments" have no place in an encyclopedia. WP:NPOV and WP:NOR are two fundamental tenets on Wikipedia, and you simply ignore these most important of points. Since you disagree with the "ethic" itself and wish to be childishly stubborn about the issue (and I've said I agree that some of my edits might have been wrong, but you refuse to discuss these properly), there's nothing more to say. Good bye. The article will become better with or without you, at any rate. Even so, I would like that you stay and contribute however you would wish (as long as you would do so according to policy). Aey 03:07, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Recap and Request[edit]

Aey I really don't see what you are talking about. Throughout the discussion of this page, to my way of thinking, you have't been able to substancate your claims. You seem to be saying the same thing over and over again, namily, that what Tasty is doing is 'just bad somehow.' Furthermore, the way you have changed some wordings is questionable. Please clarify your problems with this page, and not just by saying "it dose not conform to WP:THIS or WP:THAT, but by saying why a particular typr of change should be made, using real terms. Max18well 03:59, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I agree, in fact (well, not with how you characterize it). However, I no longer agree with some of the stylistic changes I made (as I said). But the areas needing citation is mainly where I'm coming from (hence the misunderstanding). Please look at them in the body of the article. It has also come to my understanding that Tasty has made this into a problem requiring mediation, which I think is rather drastic: Wikipedia:Mediation_Cabal/Cases/2006-08-16_Indeterminacy_in_philosophy. It is drastic because the problems are in fact in the article. Aey 04:14, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Here is a palpable example in the section on Nietzsche that I've left there as an editorial note: "Like the Foucault section, this could be improved by describing these occurrances and sourcing them. Other commentators on N's criticisms must be cited here. As it stands, it can just as easily be argued that N isn't making statements about indeterminacy here." This isn't a trivial issue, and I have pointed it out, but I suppose I didn't make myself clear here; the problem is stylistic as well as fundamentally original research and non-NPOV. I understand it must be frustrating to have someone talk about flawed work, but I am (and have been) trying to discuss it. Besides this, arguing for "logical soundness" (contrary to policy) is not a particularly beneficial venue to take, like User:Tastyummy does. Additionally, the first three paragraphs of "The problem of indeterminacy" are entirely unsourced -- hence the article again violates policy. It is my assumption that if someone noted policy while editing, then such problems would never have cropped up, but, as it seems User:Tastyummy has given up on fixing what he has produced, others will have to deal with them. It is trebly because of these issues my post of the notices at the top of the article is justified so that others will be aware of the need to correct such problems. Unfortunately, User:Tastyummy has taken these on a very personal level (so it seems) and disagreed with their placement in the article as shown at the Mediation page I cited above and in our recent discussion. Aey 04:30, 18 August 2006 (UTC) defines indeterminate as "not definitely or precisely determined or fixed : VAGUE b : not known in advance c : not leading to a definite end or result" and list the root as in- + determinatus ' meaning (I think) not determined. Would you agree that this more or less means "without a cause"? This arguably would be a thing in itself, esspeicaly to Nietzsche. How would you feel about setting the first line as

Indeterminacy, in philosophy, refes to concepts or ideas which lack a known cause or which, beacuse of thier vagueness, cannot be adiquitly discribed or distinguished.

Max18well 05:46, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

I do not care for dictionary definitions -- they hint at usage and not always philosophical usages and definitions of terms (it goes without saying). What I want is what philosophers, and scholars, have explicity talked about this subject, and not by implying that they have done so. Aey 20:35, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

The link that follows was to the last grammatically and stylistically correct version of this article. Aey couldn't follow the logic, and so he claimed that it wasn't there ("I do not see much 'logical soundness'[...]") rather than arguing against the illogical points he thought were being made. He has also created several grammatical errors, which were discussed above. The worst of these was the turning of an example of a loop of definition in a dictionary into (supposedly) more than one example (but not of anything in particular): the proof: "another example" found therein. In the same paragraph he inserted "[that which is]" where it doesn't belong both because it is grammatically incorrect (see above discussion of "grammatical mistakes") and because Webster's didn't say anything like that-- this was a direct quote from a cited source and Aey is inserting words that this source, being generally good at grammar, would not find too cool. If anyone agrees, I suggest a full revert to the following back version: [7]. Go to "edit this page" and copy and paste the text over the entire latest edit. Aey was right that this article needed more sources because he substantiated that claim, but he has failed as yet to substantiate his claim that anything was unclear, illogical, or original, and particularly that last bit since anyone who'se read Nietzsche is familiar with "being versus becoming" (approximation versus equality), "the misleading significance of words" and "the thing in itself" (indeterminacy of definition), et cetera. I may continue to discuss this for a short period of time rather than leaving Wikipedia immediately, but this really is my last article.

[The above unsigned comment was mine (oops).] Tastyummy 16:23, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

My talk about "unclear, illogical, or original" is not one subject as you would have it -- I have pointed out that the whole of the article is based primarily on your original research, and it is a fact that you continue to deny. Yes, people "know" what N wrote, but that doesn't validify what you have written concerning such indeterminacy as my editorial note points out, which you have ignored. Not only this, the first three paragraphs of "The problem of indeterminacy" are unclear, and I apologise for not pointing this out, which I meant to do: starting with a generalized paragraph as it does, it gives the impression that the article is opening into its own thought experiment, and then it jumps senselessly into dictionary definition (i.e., usage), which makes little sense on its own, because dictionaries do not define anything, as the contrary is commonly believed. At this rate, I'm really inclined to delete these misplaced paragraphs (I have blanked them) to open the way to a sensible initiation of the article that in fact should have been placed at the very top of the article -- this would suitably introduce the reader to what will be discussed in more detail, and any dictionary definitions must be avoided, unless some other source makes a similar example that would adequately fit into the structure of the article, and not by way of original research as it does. Aey 20:35, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

This article, I repeat, does not contain any original research or even original interpretations; it is simply a new wording of these ideas, and if it were not it would be plagiarism. I have quoted Dennett extensively on the subject and cited the book, chapter, and section where he discusses the indeterminacy of meaning in a way entirely consistent with my article's original opening. Thus I have done a full revert (with the exception of adding the aforementioned quotations).

PLEASE discuss problems before modifying the article. I know that you are not required to do this, but I believe that I know more than you do about this subject and I am glad to explain why I have worded things the way I have here. If you are right and I am wrong, then, by all means, show me to be so, whether in this discussion or in the criticisms section. Otherwise you are failing to provide evidence for your position; I have produced, as I noted, a great deal of evidence for mine.

I would be more comfortable with changes if I understood why they were being made. I'm sure you can relate at least to this.

If you don't like my assertion that dictionaries attempt to define words in terms of other words, put it in the criticism section. That's what it's for. This article is about a specific philosophical position, and criticisms of the position are better placed in a section specifically for such criticisms than in a section detailing the argument itself.

If my example is "senseless", explain why it is so in the criticisms or on the discussion page. If "dictionaries do not define anything, as [I believe you meant to say] is contary to popular belief", then discuss this and how it renders my example "senseless" in the criticism section. If what you say makes sense, let the reader decide this for himself, but leave the argument intact even if you disagree with it personally since this article is about the position for which my example argues, as well as criticisms of this position.

Tastyummy 01:22, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Well, thanks for you commentary at User:Noetica's talk page, about matters entirely unrelated to him. Since you feel it is necessary to resort to personal attacks and the like, I see no reason to contribute to discussions any further, even though the article is OR and POV. I suggest that in later times that you be more mature when dealing with people rather than trying to be a dick and a child without end. Thanks for the valuable experience you have given me; now I know not to waste my time with children on Wikipedia. Aey 06:25, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Oh, and calling me a dick, a child, et cetera doesn't constitute a personal attack? I see we both gained the same sort of experience in this discussion, then. But I'm glad you say you'll no longer be editing this article. Perhaps I'll continue to contribute to Wikipedia after all.

I have tried to keep this article quite non-original and neutral by asking specifically that any tangible, evidentially-based, non-personal problems with it be discussed on this page. Furthermore, I suggested that you include your criticism of my treatment of the concept of definition in the criticisms section of my article, since it seemed to be worth addressing. I may even insert it there myself.

I was considering apologising for my personal attacks, but I guess there's no real need for me to do so anymore since you've now returned the favor. I'm leaving the barnstar of diligence I awarded you intact because you did indeed contribute valuably to my knowledge of Wikipedia policy. But the statement you just made is clearly quite hypocritical, since it is, to use your words, rather "childish". Everyone reacts when under attack, and even the best editors occasionally make personal attacks; I certainly did this and , now, so did you. But you'll recall that I was always willing to discuss changes in a civil and logical fashion on this page (apart from my single rude, name-calling outburst), while, as far as I can see, you simply argued that you were right and I was wrong without producing any evidence of this to counter the evidence that I have continued to present in this discussion. Again, if I am wrong, I would love to see the evidence of this, since I would learn as much from such evidence as anyone who might read the article.

My message to Noetica was most certainly relevant to this discussion since only three people's opinions have been expressed about this page so far. More are needed, and surely you can see the logic of my contacting a user who has had the same problems with your editing that I have. I bet you'd do the same thing if I messed up one of your articles on a subject you knew well.

Nevertheless, since you showed me this same courtesy, I invite you to continue to contribute to this discussion if you ever find yourself so inclined. It's only fair. I will, moreover, continue to cite more sources as you suggested, as you were correct in stating that they were lacking in the original revision of the article.

Good luck,

Tastyummy 07:16, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Tastyummy, believe it or not, the problems are there for anyone to look at, and I have pointed these out as well as I can and with the time I have. My points are valid and not merely "personal" as you seem to have it. Ask anyone who has been around here, they'll tell you the same things I am. I understand you are trying to keep it non-original, and those were my aims thus far. (And about my almost consistently bad grammar: my mother tounge isn't English, so I do apologize for that.) My reference to you being a "dick" wasn't a personal attack; all of your recent discussion has been filled with verbal attacks (one was an outright diatribe that was deleted on sight by an administrator), and none of mine have. Please to do not try to make the situation an equal one -- so as to justify your truly horrendous and childish behavior (noting behaviors is never a personal attack) -- by way of indemnifying my acknolwedgement of your poor conduct. I see no reason to continue here. Someone else can take up the effort to school you on these matters. I will not. So, in a way, I am pleased that you contacted someone, but you would be better off contacting someone more experienced on Wikipedia, which User:Noetica is not, as shown by his/her contributions, rather than someone you think would be easy to convince in bearing your flag. I harbor no hard feelings though. I wish the best for this article. (You might also want to get some healthful sleep -- it would be bad not to do so.) Aey 07:44, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
One last note: do not remove requests for citations. They are there for definite reasons whether you find them agreeable or not. You might also want to consider sound advice from someone who isn't merely passingly familiar with Wikipedia rather than being recalcitrant. Again, I leave this to others. Good bye. Aey 07:54, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

OK, sorry about the double-hyphen issue. I saw the manual of style and I apologise. I still think that changing things to conform to Wikipedia style within quotations that did not conform to it when they were written is inappropriate since it amounts to the misquotation of a source. But I'll leave this for now just in case I am wrong. As for requests for citations, I hereby cite the article on the scientific method within this discussion page. Quantifiability of data is necessary to experimental accuracy, as you will learn if you read about scientific experiments. If data cannot be quantified then observer agreement cannot be established beyond the shadow of a doubt, and a major part of science is the replication of experiments, which would not be able to occur without standardized systems of quantification. Hopefully a fellow scientist will agree and make these changes but I will leave the tags for now to appease you.

Also: you have again said that "there are definite reasons" for these requests for citations without stating any of them. If they are so clear and definite, why not discuss them? I am open to debate. You seem not to be. Prove me wrong by giving some specific reasons, if, indeed, there are any.

This is another example of failure to produce evidence that I am wrong and you are right. You produced evidence in citing the wikipedia style manual. That was great. Now produce evidence that experimental data needn't be quantified, and you will just have disproved a rather large portion of the scientific method. This would be a very interesting thing to see.

Tastyummy 08:06, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

I forgot to mention this-- I think my citation of Dennett later in the article justifies my definition of indeterminacy in the beginning. He directly calls meaning indeterminate, and meaning and definition are synonymous. I mean, what, exactly, is wrong with not citing it in one place if I end up citing the same assertion in the same article, just a little bit later? Why be redundant? 08:13, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

I have tried to make this extremely clear to you, Tastyummy, and it hasn't worked, which is terribly unfortunate. Every request for citation is rooted in these principles: WP:CITE, WP:VER, WP:NOR, WP:CN, WP:NPOV, among others. Just because I have left one for, as you mention above, the scientific method doesn't mean it is somehow "untrue" ("truth" is more or less meaningless on Wikipedia); it means only that it must satisfy the demands of Wikipedia. And referring to the article on the scientific method doesn't accomplish anything unless that article has a citation on the very same statement within it (and if it does, then you are obligated to use it that same citation in this article). These are the underlying problems with the article -- statements must be directly sourced, and if you think some source fits, then cite it! You can use these ref tags to cite them: <ref></ref> (see WP:MOS for more details). There are more statements needing citation in the article, but I leave that to your faculties to assess (e.g., the section on Nietzsche as I have indicated from first to last, etc.), and featured articles are excellent sources of inspiration. So you see, posting those notices at the top of the article was the very best thing to do, for then people elsewhere would become more aware of the article so that it can be improved (but you took this very differently). I do not, at any rate, wish to participate here any longer. You have my best wishes. And do get some sleep. Aey 08:28, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

I actually did include the scientific method in the see only section. And you have my best wishes as well; I intend to take your advice on sleep sooner or later, and I appreciate the advice. I will, as I said, continue to cite more sources; I agree that more are needed. But are they really necessary after every dang sentence? I mean, I've never even seen another article in which this is the case. Lastly, calling my behavior horrendous is a personal attack, although I'm not really offended by it. I was, indeed, quite rude to you earlier. Even though it's not directed at my person but at my behavior, you can't prove that something is or isn't "horrendous" without referring to your own personal tastes. Thus, although it isn't an attack against a person, it is an attack made for personal reasons, and, thus, a personal attack. But good luck to you too. Thanks again for helping me make this article conform to policy. I sincerely appreciate this. 08:39, 19 August 2006 (UTC) (The above unsigned statement was mine. Sorry I keep forgetting to log in.) Tastyummy 08:43, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

It's because I have high hopes for the article. Why else would I invest my time and effort on it to point out flaws for others to improve? As for my "personal attack": any third party would reach a similar assessment about your actions toward me, and would more or less agree, even if "horrendous" isn't a term used to describe it. Personal tastes aren't at issue here, but they are only insofar as I no longer have any interest in collaborating with you, and my knowledge base is more extensive than you might assume. I believe this will have been our last correspondence for a great deal of time. Best, Aey 08:56, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm removing the tags at the top of the articel on the grounds that they are no longer needed. I can only speak for my self, and to me this article is fine as is. Thier is no problem with the souces; I have verified them myself by using links Tasty has provided. Since the articel contains a crit sec it maintains a nurtal point of view. This article will get no where if those writting it don't cite evidance. If Aey or any one else wants to put 30+ citations in this article, they can talk about it here and HELP FIND THE ONES THEY THINK ARE NEEDED. If you're not part of the soultion you're part of the problem.Max18well 19:12, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Personal Attacks[edit]

Any new users would do well to read through WP:ATTACK, as well as other important wikipolicies, before beginning to edit or create articles. PLEASE end the personal attacks so that progress can be made. Repeated personal attacks are grounds for getting a user banned.

Tasty, please acknowledge WikipediAhimsa: "Remember that NPOV is a collective goal, not individually achievable". Also note Assume Good Faith and Hanlon's razor. Please keep discussion content-based, rather than "That's it, I'm never coming back. Never. Really. I'm serious this time." Congratulations on a nice-looking article.

Rashad9607 18:40, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for your contribution, Rashad. I do apologize for all personal attacks I made against Aey, both to him and to the Wikipedia community in general; they were inappropriate, uncalled-for, and unproductive. I intend never to behave this way in the future, not only because it could get me banned but because it is rude and silly. I appreciate the reference to Hanlon's razor; it should be taught right alongside Occam's. And I have tried, since realizing that I had behaved so poorly, to keep threats, attacks, and the like out of Wikipedia discussions; I shall continue to do so, and if I don't keep this promise then, by all means, I deserve to be corrected by any means necessary. I shall remain open and responsive at all times to content-based discussion from now on; I hope that my apologies to Aey constitute a step in the right direction in trying to harder to conform to policy. Thanks even more, though, for the compliment. This article has taken a lot of work and I appreciate your support. 22:04, 20 August 2006 (UTC) -Forgot to sign again. Sorry I keep doing this. Tastyummy 22:05, 20 August 2006 (UTC)


Tastyummy said that mediation is no longer necessary. Everything alright here? I read the article and recommend that it's tone be made more general, more Wiki-like (a reference to someone as "the author of the article" isn't really apt here, no matter how true it is - also, the article can do with an acknowledged reference style rather than stating the references mid-sentence) but it seems to me a valuable addition. --Marinus 06:32, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

As far as a section for references goes, I'll certainly get to work on it.
I've tried to remove the personal tone that was present in the first few edits-- where have I referred to "the author of the article"? (I'd like to fix it! I can change these references wherever they're found, but I can't find that particular phrase except for in the See Also list where I've referenced The Quantum Nietzsche site as being run by "the author of the above article"-- I meant that it is run by the author of the article cited directly above it, William Plank. I've now changed this to make it more clear.) (Or did you mean here in the discussion page?) If this article is still too personal in tone, I am more than willing to fix this, but I need help identifying the parts that need fixing.
Anyway, I'm very glad you found the article passable. I'm trying to collect more criticisms to make it more NPOV, since obviously it's currently stilted in favor of people who do "believe" in indeterminacy. Even that last sentence doesn't sound NPOV, I know... I'm working on it :) Most new criticisms will have to come from stucturalist schools of philosophy, with which I am not nearly as familiar as I am with non-structuralists like Nietzsche and Foucault-- I have read many structuralistic works but can't call up the perfect quotations right now; I'm trying to find some, though.
I'm going to flesh out the discussion of indeterminate memes, and possibly create a new section, "Indeterminacy in memetics", or something like that. It'd just be a clearer reformulation of some general statements I made about indeterminacy lending itself well to memetic replication.
I'm also considering adding a section on set theory, and particularly on arguments against the existence of the empty set deriving from its apparent indeterminacy, but I want to be very sure that I'm not misunderstanding that part of set theory before I do this, so if there ever is such a section it will probably not emerge for quite a while.
I am certainly open to any further suggestions on how I might make this article better. I appreciate your patient attention and your time.
Tastyummy 06:06, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

"The Problem of Inderminacy" and "Indeterminacy in new physical theories"[edit]

This section gives the impression that all forms of indeterminacy are linguistic in origin:-

"The problem of indeterminacy arises when one observes the eventual circularity of virtually every possible definition."

IMO this is a problem of indeterminacy (albeit a major one). However, this is not the source of "indeterminacy" as in the "Heisenberg Indeterminacy principle (more usually called the uncertainty principle). It is also quite debatable whether it is the source of thing-in-itself issues.

I suspect that the first three paragraphs of "The Problem of Inderminacy" would work better as a separate section, e.g "Indeterminacy of meaning".

In the same vein, the "Indeterminacy in new physical theories" section treats conceptual/semantic indeterminacy as interchangeable with causal inderminacy (chaos, the Uncertainty Principle). These themes should be distinguished from each other, IMO.

1Z 02:54, 21 December 2006 (UTC)1Z

Oh, and the claim

"Occam's razor always eliminates "things in themselves" from functioning models of quantifiable phenomena"

is very debatable.

1Z 03:06, 21 December 2006 (UTC)1Z

This article is incorrectly titled[edit]

According to Wikipedia:Manual of Style the initial "p" in "philosophy" in the title should be lower-case, and consequently two articles now exist:

That's what happens when Wikipedia's conventions are disregarded as when this article's title was chosen. The material from this incorrectly titled article should get merged into the correctly titled one. Michael Hardy 21:20, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

I'm Back[edit]

I haven't edited an article in a while or even been checking my talk page regularly, but will soon begin to work on resolving issues mentioned above. First and foremost, the reason I haven't yet merged this article with the correctly-titled one is that I haven't rewritten it yet but have been reading Derrida, since his use of the term "indeterminacy" in what are generally considered to be highly-influential philosophical works is addressed in the correctly-titled one but not in this one because I hadn't read anything by him when I first wrote it. Derrida's use of the term is important as he is widely-read and cited, and it must be explained and contrasted with other notions it within philosophy. I really need to rewrite most of the article to distinguish more clearly between "different indeterminacies" addressed in philosophy: e.g., indeterminacy in Nietzsche, indeterminacy in the philosophy of science (i.e., the impact of Heisenberg's actual principle on the philosophy of science), indeterminacy in linguistics ("semantical" indeterminacy? I don't actually understand what this is yet), and Derrida's indeterminacy, which I think will need its own section.

1) "IMO this is a problem of indeterminacy [...]"
2) [T]his is not the source of 'indeterminacy' as in the "Heisenberg Indeterminacy principle (more usually called the uncertainty principle). It is also quite debatable whether it is the source of thing-in-itself issues."
3) "In the same vein, the "Indeterminacy in new physical theories" section treats conceptual/semantic indeterminacy as interchangeable with causal inderminacy (chaos, the Uncertainty Principle). These themes should be distinguished from each other, IMO."
4) "Oh, and the claim
'Occam's razor always eliminates "things in themselves" from functioning models of quantifiable phenomena'
is very debatable."

I agree with the first point in full. I'll make the necessary changes in layout and title and, probably, more than a few in content as well throughout the article.

On the second and third points: I didn't intend to conflate indeterminacy in physical theory with what you here call "conceptual/semantic indeterminacy"; that's why I addressed what I should have called the indeterminacy of meaning/intended definition/whatever in its own section. However, I recognise the deficiency of my treatment of it as separate since it was ambiguous enough to give the impression you seem to have received. I put "different indeterminacies" in the same article because the article is on indeterminacy in philosophy, which addresses physical theory (philosophy of science, history of empiricism, etc. definitely being philosophy) as well as linguistics, in its examination of things in general, since works in both of those fields frequently contain, for example, ontological assertions, but I realize fully that indeterminacy as described by Heisenberg and as discussed in physics is not "the source of thing-in-itself issues". The source of thing-in-itself issues is Kant, and his influence is notable in philosophy and elsewhere, and the indeterminacy that is used by Nietzsche to (arguably) undermine Kant's view is used by Nietzsche, whose influence is also notable both in philosophy and elsewhere. It would help if someone could find the first use of the term "indeterminacy" (I know Nietzsche used it before Heisenberg did, for example, but earlier uses of it are sure to be found and may be of greater importance than the ones with which I'm personally familiar.)

I'd like this article to trace the history of the concept "indeterminacy" from its beginnings to its contemporary usage, eventually, because it is used interchangeably with quite different things by various groups, people, schools of thought, etc. and resultingly can be an extremely difficult thing to characterise (or even to study, for that matter). If I've given the impression that the inability to simultaneously observe the positions and momenta of particles is the same thing as "non-causality" in general, it was, I think, because I am not conversant enough with quantum theory to even begin to describe Heisenberg's uncertainty in any detail. However, there is a separate article on the uncertainty principle in physics, the existence of which I would think would be more than enough evidence of a distinction between Heisenberg's indeterminacy and the other "versions" of it described in this article even if that evidence were lacking herein.

On the fourth point in particular, I'd comment that the article's current statement that

"Occam's razor always eliminates "things in themselves" from functioning models of quantifiable phenomena, but some quantitative models, such as quantum mechanics, actually imply certain indeterminacies, such as the relative indeterminacy of quantum particles' positions to the precision with which their momenta can be measured (and vice versa)"

should probably be modified somehow because a thing-in-itself is not (at least necessarily) an indeterminacy. They share certain properties, and I will more fully explain this in the rewritten article, but this article doesn't (I hope) already "imply" elsewhere that quantum mechanics eliminates indeterminacy (or that it ought to, or whatever). Specifically, my very limited knowledge of quantum physics suggests that the only quantum theories employing what could loosely be called things-in-themselves (inobservables) would be hidden-variable theories, which don't seem to have much support right now. Indeterminacy (non-causality) and things-in-themselves (roughly, inobservables or "inexperiencables") are quite different; this article contains a lot of information on things-in-themselves because they are related to indeterminacy in that they are sometimes held to be outside of causal chains altogether in terms of observable effect, whereas indeterminate things (like either the position or the momentum of a quantum particle when the other of the pair has already been measured) can have observable effects (i.e., being part of this sentence). (By that argument, even things-in-themselves are observable as objects of discussion; it's Kant who argues otherwise.)

I'm sorry that my own modification of this article has taken, and will continue to take, a long time. If this article must immediately be merged with the correctly-titled one, then someone else should do this immediately, because I can't; I need to continue reading Derrida and finish rereading Kant, as well as research earlier uses of the term "indeterminacy", before proceeding to merge this article into the correctly-titled one, which only mentions Derrida's use of the term "indeterminacy", and incorrectly says that the term was "first introduced" by Derrida in his Plato's Pharmacy. (I'll verify the other author's other statements on Derrida and, if necessary, include quotations with citations from Derrida's work in order to clarify his use of the term to the reader of the article.

Thanks, 1Z, for pointing out the problems you have and for your efforts at fixing them.

Tastyummy 10:00, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

"things-in-themselves because they are related to indeterminacy in that they are sometimes held to be outside of causal chains altogether in terms of observable effect,"
But not by Kant.
"whereas indeterminate things (like either the position or the momentum of a quantum particle when the other of the pair has already been measured) can have observable effects (i.e., being part of this sentence)."
That is a strange claim. Quantum states are causally related to other quantum states, for all that they are in a sense indeterminate. That is no need t bring in semantics/linguistic issues.
"(By that argument, even things-in-themselves are observable as objects of discussion; it's Kant who argues otherwise.)"
Sound-waves and marks on paper are all phenomeona, including this set of illuminated pixels:
You seem to be confusing the use-mention distinction. 1Z 13:51, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

"That is a strange claim. Quantum states are causally related to other quantum states, for all that they are in a sense indeterminate. Th[ere] is no need t[o] bring in semantics/linguistic issues."
Why not?
1) How can I tell the difference between semantics and everything else (I'm not being sarcastic-- I don't get this)
2) Why are semantical and linguistic issues not appropriate for an article on indeterminacy in philosophy (especially given that philosophy, arguably, overlaps with linguistics anyway)?
Also: I already know that sound waves, marks on paper, etc. are phenomena. Then the noumenon, as an object of discussion-- as something, in other words, interacting observably with phenomena-- would seem also to be a phenomenon, but is, as defined by Kant, not a phenomenon. In other words, if we take Kant's distinction as an axiom, the noumenon is not phenomenal "by definition". In favor of an argument that the two terms be used as Kant used them is the fact that Kant was the first to distinguish between them, as far as I know, anyway. In favor of an argument that they may be "correctly" used differently than they were by Kant are all uses of them which contradict his. This is not to be taken as an argument for the superiority of any particular set of usages of the two terms to any other, but as an argument against any verificationalism that would propose that "the noumenon is NEVER a phenomenon" in the face of the following textual example:
"For the next five seconds, let anything at all, including the noumenon, be a phenomenon for the sake of argument."
If followed even only hypothetically, tentatively, temporarily, etc., this imperative serves as a definition by which the noumenon is a phenomenon. In my opinion, Kant's original usage of the terms is the "most important", because later usages of them depend on his having used them the way he did, but it is not the only usage of them which can, or should, be discussed. (And not because of useless, trivial crap like the above "example", but because, for example, of Hegel and Nietzsche, each of whom used the terms "noumenon" and "phenomenon" in ways that contradicted Kant ostensibly because they disagreed with him.
Tastyummy 22:59, 18 May 2007 (UTC)


I am going to make some edits.

  1. The article needs restructuring, there is no logic to the current layout.
  2. There are some egregiously misleading statements.
  3. The lead needs rewriting.
  4. Issues like indeterminacy of translation need to be covered properly.(There is a separate artcile)

1Z 14:12, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Thought disorder[edit]

I have removed this.

A similar problem in the modern concept of insanity is the concept of the "thought disorder": since the thoughts of another human being are entirely unknowable and can only be assumed, with an unknown degree of accuracy, from that other person's behavior, there is no way to quantify what a thought disorder is in a general sense, although it is possible, for example, to statistically analyze patterns of quantifiable human behavior and to draw conclusions about the normality of particular behaviors therefrom. Given this view, a "thought disorder", such as schizophrenia, would be better termed a "behavioral disorder".

This is very POV and has little to do with the article. There are plenty of ways of discerning someone's thoughts: one can ask them, for instance, or give them problem-solving tests. Schizophrenics are considered to have disordered thinking because they are bad at problem solving.1Z 15:37, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

mmemetics and indeterminacy[edit]

Richard Dawkins, the man who coined the term meme in the 1970s, described the concept of faith in his documentary, Root of All Evil?, as "the process of non-thinking". In the documentary, he used Bertrand Russell's analogy between a teapot orbiting the sun (something that cannot be observed because the brightness of the sun would obscure it even from the best telescope's view) and the object of one's faith (in this particular case, God) to explain that a highly indeterminate idea can self-replicate freely: "Everybody in the society had faith in the teapot. Stories of the teapot had been handed down for generations as part of the tradition of society. There are holy books about the teapot."

What has that got to do with indeterminacy? Dawkins doesn't mention it. I suspect the memetics-indeterminacy link is OR.1Z 16:12, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

The self-replicating nature of memes is a partial explanation of the recurrence of indeterminacies in language and thought[citation needed]. The wide influences of Platonism and Kantianism in Western philosophy can arguably be partially attributed to the indeterminacies of some of their most fundamental concepts (namely, the Idea and the Noumenon, respectively).

Again, this looks like OR.1Z 16:17, 1 May 2007 (UTC)


This would seem to attempt to make direct use of the indeterminacy of the object of one's faith as evidential support of its existence: if the object of one's faith were to be proven to exist (i.e., if it were no longer of indeterminate definition, or if it were no longer unquantifiable, etc.), then faith in that object would no longer be necessary; arguments from authority such as those mentioned above wouldn't either; all that would be needed to prove its existence would be scientific evidence. Thus, if faith is to be considered as a reliable basis for knowledge, persons of faith would seem, in effect, to assert that indeterminacy is not only necessary, but good.

This looks OR-is and isn't a very good argument. If faith is necessary because of the regress argument,then a proof of God (or whatever) doesn't effect the argument, because the proof will itself ultmately rest on something that cannot be proven.1Z 16:21, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Indeterminacy and consciousness[edit]

"The proposition that indeterminacy has a definite effect on observable phenomena (such as on the wide influences of Platonism and Kantianism) is based on historical evidence rather than on scientific experiment; however, it is nevertheless not an untenable position in modern philosophy if it does not treat indeterminacy as a "transcendental cause" but as a phenomenon or process which can be precisely characterized and which is evidenced by other observable phenomena."

This passage confuses indeterminacy qua vague definition with indeterminacy as a metaphysical issue.1Z 16:27, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Hunter S Thompson[edit]

"The only difference between the Sane and the Insane, is IN and yet within this world, the Sane have the power to have the Insane locked up"

Does anybody but you think this is related to Foucault, TY? (ie, is it WP:OR?).

BTW, it is, if taken seriously, another use-mention fallacy. 1Z 17:01, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Per the article on Madness and Civilization:
"It is not before the 17th century, in a movement which Foucault famously describes as the Great Confinement, that 'unreasonable' members of the population systematically were locked away and institutionalised. In the 18th century, madness came to be seen as the obverse of Reason, that is, as having lost what made them human and become animal-like and therefore treated as such. It is not before 19th century that madness became mental illness that should be cured, e.g. Philippe Pinel, Freud. Others authors later argued that the large increase in confinement did not happen in 17th but in the 19th century[2], somewhat undermining his argument."
This is why I paraphrased with a Thompson quote (which, as I think I've said elsewhere, may originally have been someone else's but is generally now attributed to Thompson). Foucault agrues that the confinement (i.e., locking up) of some people by others for reasons other than crime is part of the basis of the distinction between "madness" and "reason" (or "sanity" and "insanity" or "mental illness", etc.).
However, the article also says that
"[Foucault] did not contest the reality of psychiatric disorders, as some of his readers concluded",
which I didn't know until about three minutes ago.
The Foucault stuff may not belong in this article at all, except, perhaps, as an example, (so labelled), of an argument that what was, at one point, possibly arbitrary (the social criteria which decided who was to be confined) may be the basis of what is now often seen as a verifiable hypothesis (i.e., that there are "mentally-ill" and "mentally-healthy" people who can be distinguished from one another for good reasons). This was intended to serve as an example situation in which the indeterminacy of the "meanings" of two terms could have real effect. Here, "indeterminacy" means "arbitrariness": I can argue that you are delusional for any reason at all, and, if I convince enough other people that you are, you may be labelled "insane". Once this happens, part of what "being insane" is is being you, and the "meaning" of the word "insanity" changes. This isn't indeterminacy like in physics, obviously-- in this scenario, the actions of each person may also be treated causally (as in: "I called him delusional because I didn't like him" or "I called him delusional because of the motions and interactions of the innumerable subatomic particles which constitute me, him, and everything else, and, thus, because of the Big Bang").

Tastyummy 22:59, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

Dennett and Dawkins[edit]

..could probably go into separate sections, since the only link is the "memes explain qualia" theory, which seems to be OR. 1Z 17:08, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

OTOH, Dawkins possibly shouldn't be in at all. 1Z 19:12, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

One last use-mention muddle[edit]

Even in a mathematical statement as simple as "x=x", one encounters fundamental differences between the two "x"es under consideration: firstly, that there are two distinct "x"es, in that they neither occupy the same space on this page nor in one's own mind. There would otherwise be only one "x".

Two x's are mentioned. One is used. 1Z 19:10, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

The point was that each may be called distinct from the other. The "x" on the left of "=" is not the "x" on its right. "Equals" is a binary relation. One may speak of the "x equalling" and of the "x being equalled by" "x" as having distinct predicates in English or another natural language, and thus as distinct in that sense. I wasn't arguing that a variable, x, doesn't equal itself in mathematics in general, and so, I think, not confusing use with mention.
Does this make sense at all?
Tastyummy 22:59, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

Indeterminacy disambiguation[edit]

When you get the merge to Indeterminacy (philosophy) done, be sure to change the title at the Indeterminacy disambig page. I saw that that page was a proto-article instead of just dab, and it linked to four articles. After doing a search on the term, I found and linked 11 more articles, some of which overlap. Plus there are a few more which are obvious merge candidates (will list them on the dab talk page). --Blainster 20:07, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Non-Original and Original Research[edit]

"things-in-themselves because they are related to indeterminacy in that they are sometimes held to be outside of causal chains altogether in terms of observable effect,"
But not by Kant.
You're right, but this claim should be substituted with information on Hegel's critique of the thing-in-itself.
From <>:

"Hegel’s critique of the Kantian thing-in-itself is of particular interest. David Gray Carlson does a nice job recounting this critique in A Commentary to Hegel’s Science of Logic.
According to Hegel, both Being-in-itself and Being-for-other are intrinsically bound up with one another. This portends that the ::inner is outer. The in-itself as isolated, however, is Kant’s noumenal thing-in-itself, of which Hegel is a sharp critic. “[T]he ::proposition that we do not know what things are in themselves,” Hegel complains, “ranked as a profound piece of wisdom” (SL, 121). ::Things are “in themselves” if all Being-for-other is purged. We perceive in a given thing only its Being-for-other, “the ::indeterminate, affirmative community of something with its other” (126). Therefore, Kant insisted, we can have no idea what the ::thing-in-itself is. Hegel strongly disagrees.
Things are called “in themselves” in so far as abstraction is made from all being-for-other, which means simply, in so far as they ::are thought devoid of all determination, as nothings. In this sense, it is of course impossible to know what the thing in itself ::is. For the question: what? demands that determinations be assigned; but since the things of which they are to be assigned are at ::the same time supposed to be things in themselves, which means, in effect, to be without any determination, the question is made ::thoughlessly impossible to answer, or else only an absurd answer is given. (SL, 121)
The thing-in-itself is absolute, and furthermore, it is one. That is, once appearance is abolished, but there is but one ::thing-in-itself in its indeterminancy– not many: “What is in these things in themselves, therefore we know quite well; they are as ::such nothing but truthless, empty abstractions” (SL, 121). In contrast, Hegel’s analysis has shown the thing-in-itself is concrete. ::It is the same as being-for-other. (Carlson, 75)
In the Phenomenology, Hegel shows that the distinction between the unkowable thing-in-itself as conceived by Kant and appearances is itself a distinction of understanding, and therefore a product of thought (paragraphs 145-148).

SL, in the above quotation, is, I think, an abbreviation for Hegel's Science of Logic, of which I've now obtained a copy. You were right that I had been mistaken to attribute that opinion to Kant. For Kant, the noumenon was, at least, a descriptible thing.

By the way: I apologise for all the anti-psychiatry, which was, indeed, mostly OR and/or irrelevant to an encyclopedic article on indeterminacy. I hadn't planned to write non-NPOV statements, but did recognise later that I had done so, intended to change them. This was a personal issue for me; I have recently been informed by a medical official that I probably have Asperger's syndrome and have been diagnosed and treated by many "mental health" professionals for various and sundry "thought disorders" in the past many times. Things called "insanity" or "mental illness" are not known to be causally indeterminate, and my argument that their definitions were linguistically/semantically indeterminate is inappropriate for articles or sections on linguistic or semantic indeterminacy as well.

I will research the history of the word "indeterminacy" and prepare a section on its use in the history of philosophy, if it is agreed such a section might be appropriate in this article, being of some importance, for example, in the history of the philosophy of science. It appears that the term has been used extensively in continental philosophy.

I also suggest that the article be removed from WikiProject Atheism. I don't know whether it belongs in any wikiproject at all. If a section on Derrida's use of the term is included, it might be relevant to postsecularism, on which there isn't yet a Wikipedia article. (I'm still trying to read Derrida, and it's quite difficult read quickly, for me, anyway.)

Thanks, 1Z, for all your help. I am going to read about the use-mention fallacy and may end up responding to some of your arguments with possible reformulations of sections. I hope this, if it occurs, will be helpful as well.

The link to the "Quantum Nietzsche" site should be removed as well, since it appears to be quantum mysticism.

Tastyummy 04:31, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

Memes and indeterminacy[edit]

The relation of semantic indeterminacy to "memetics" and memes in general is discussed in this paper.

"The set of problems centering on definition and meaning is serious but hardly limited to memetics. The empirical study of semantics tells us that various modifiers in different contexts subtly transform the definitions and meanings of most words. As our language becomes more distant from direct physical experience of the physical world, it builds upon itself to create and use abstract, general concepts. The core meanings, the constants diminish; contextual parameters gain heavier weight.
This semantic indeterminacy is true for words such as `reason', `validity', and democracy for example (Beer, 1997; Beer, 1994 ; Speel, 1997). It is not surprising, and should not be that the word `meme' is similarly multivalent. The general nature of semantics leads us to expect no less."

The paper quoted above does at least provide a link between memes and semantic indeterminacy (it's billed as a commentary on this paper, which seems mainly irrelevant to philosophical, linguistic, or semantic indeterminacy.

A real problem for me is differentiation between these types of indeterminacy. If someone uses the word "indeterminate" to mean "of indeterminate meaning" or "of indeterminate definition" (or "semantically indeterminate" (?) ), he or she might say "the meaning of the term X is indeterminate". I am beginning to see that this observation might be made more often in linguistics than in philosophy, but am far less familiar with linguistics specifically than with philosophy in general.

The argument that memes explain qualia was not the product of my own original research; I took it from Dennett, who made it in Consciousness Explained, in which Dennett devoted an entire chapter, "Qualia Disqualified", to such an argument. The paraphrasis "memes explain qualia" seems fair to Dennett, since he argues earlier in that text that

"[...]the human mind is itself an artifact created when memes restructure a human brain in order to make it a better habitat for memes."

The information on memes, qualia, etc. was intended to illustrate a philosophical treatment of indeterminacy. It wasn't OR, but probably quite POV.

Tastyummy 17:10, 16 May 2007 (UTC)


I've also run into the wikipedia article sememe.

"Sememe (Greek semaino - mean, signify) - semantical language unit of meaning, correlative to morpheme.
A sememe is a proposed unit of transmitted or intended meaning; it is atomic or indivisible. A sememe can be the meaning expressed by a morpheme, such as the English pluralizing morpheme -s, which carries the sememic feature [+ plural]. Alternately, a single sememe (for example [go] or [move]) can be conceived as the abstract representation of such verbs as skate, roll, jump, slide, turn, or boogie. It can be thought of as the semantic counterpart to any of the following: a meme in a culture of ideas, a gene in a genetic makeup, or an atom (or, more specifically, an elementary particle) in a substance."

This makes a lot more sense than the meme as part of an argument for semantic indeterminacy, in my opinion. I am not an expert in linguistics, and do not have access to any text on formal semantics. This article or a related one may need expert attention eventually.

Tastyummy 17:31, 16 May 2007 (UTC)


The headings and organisation of this article need work. E.g. why is there a main heading 'Indeterminacy in philosophy' when that's what the whole article is meant to be about?

The 'Current work' section is a mish-mash (Dawkins etc.) and the heading is unhelpful as some other parts of the article are still current (i.e. still very much under debate).

Also I added a stub section of indeterminacy of meaning & translation, which are major topics especially re the work of Quine & Davidson. (talk) 17:56, 11 January 2010 (UTC)


This article has some good elements within it, but overall needs a reconstruction really. It has cherry picked some sources, and missed many others, but overall a "new user" would not be educated by this article..... One day I may get to work on it, but in the meantime it can not really be relied upon, although it is an important topic in my opinion.... sigh... History2007 (talk) 01:58, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

delusion as determined by popular sentiment[edit]

The end of the introduction states a very simple and unsatisfying point. It is assumed that any philosophy that defines truth on the basis of 'popular sentiment', or common use of language, or behaviour,(notably logic positivism) ultimately fails against the very weak counter argument presented. This, of course, is very POV and it should at least be noted that the point made is not definite. The article presents. "arguments that delusion is determined by popular sentiment (i.e., "almost no-one believes that he or she is made of cheese, and thus that belief is a delusion") would lead to the conclusion that, for example, Alfred Wegener's assertion of continental drift was a delusion since it was dismissed for decades after it was made." - Would they really? Please reformulate this in a less biased way, acknowledge the existence of philosophers with very different takes on this and mention/link philosophical concepts like logic positivism to make the article less one-sided. Thanks (talk) 20:22, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

It looks like (well defined) indeterminism[edit]

but in a very vague form. Both terms refer to quantum indeterminacy, etc. (talk) 05:11, 2 January 2016 (UTC)

I think there should be a separate page for pharmakon[edit]

tl;dr: I created a draft page here, please help improve it: links to this page and asserts that (a) pharmakon is "a concept that has some indeterminacy". To my mind that is a rather unsatisfying definition. Pharmakon should be defined relative to the and and should boil down to something that is both poison and cure.

This extended quote from Bernard Stiegler isn't really what would be needed to give a definition, but it shows how he uses the term in Chapter 8 of his recent (2010) work, What makes life worth living: On pharmacology:

It was Jacques Derrida who opened up the question of pharmacology -- within which the hypomnesic appears as that which constitutes the condition of the anamnesic. I have striven in various works to establish how the noetic movements through which a soul is trans-formed are always arrangements of primary and secondary retentions and protentions [per Husserl], arrangements themselves conditioned by tertiary retentions, that is, by hypomnesic systems. It follows from thees analyses that everything that opposes the anamnesic to the hypomnesic, such as trancendental memory or trancendental imagination, leads to an impasse.
The fact remains that there is an historical and political necessity at the origin of such oppositions: Plato struggles against that sophistic that had caused the spirit of the Greek polis to enter into crisis through its misuse of the pharmakon -- through bypassing and short-circuiting thought, that is, anamnesis, thus depriving the souls of citizens of that knowledge lying at the foundation of all citizenship (all autonomy). In this regard, the pharmakon was a factor in the proletarianization of the spirit (in the loss of knowledge) just as the machine-tool would later be a factor in the proletarianization of the bodies of the produces, that is, of workers (depriving them of their know-how, their savoir-faire).
[...] Nothing is more legitimate than these philosophical struggles against what, in technics or technology, is toxic for the life of the mind or spirit. But faced with that which, in the pharmakon, constitutes the possibility of a weakening of the spirit, these struggles ignore the originarily pharmaco-logical constitution of this spirit itself. They ignore the pharmacology of spirit by taking the pharmakon in general as a pharmakos: a scapegoat -- like those found in the sacrificial practices of polytheistic ancient Greece, or equally in Judea, practices in which this pharmakos is laden, as Christ will be, with every fault, before being led 'into an inaccessible region'.

This is much more specific than just "a concept that has some indeterminacy". Arided (talk) 18:26, 7 January 2016 (UTC)

Here is a more succinct quote (from the Ars Industrialis page,, also connected with Stiegler):

En principe, un pharmakon doit toujours être envisagé selon les trois sens du mot : comme poison, comme remède et comme bouc-émissaire (exutoire). C’est ainsi que, comme le souligne Gregory Bateson, la démarche curative des Alcooliques Anonymes consiste toujours à mettre d’abord en valeur le rôle nécessairement curatif et donc bénéfique de l’alcool pour l’alcoolique qui n’a pas encore entamé une démarche de désintoxication. En principe, un pharmakon doit toujours être envisagé selon les trois sens du mot : comme poison, comme remède et comme bouc-émissaire (exutoire). C’est ainsi que, comme le souligne Gregory Bateson, la démarche curative des Alcooliques Anonymes consiste toujours à mettre d’abord en valeur le rôle nécessairement curatif et donc bénéfique de l’alcool pour l’alcoolique qui n’a pas encore entamé une démarche de désintoxication.
(An approxmate translation) In principle, a pharmakon should always be considered according to the three meanings of the word: as a poison, as a remedy, and as a scapegoat (or outlet). Thus, as noted by Gregory Bateson, the cure for alchoholism advocated by Alcoholics Anonymous depends on observing the curative and therefore necessarily beneficial role of alcohol for the alcoholic who has not begun to dry out.

Arided (talk) 18:45, 7 January 2016 (UTC)