Techniques for Generating/Eliciting a Hierarchy or Network of Objectives

When structuring an ill-defined problem, eliciting the underlying objectives is fundamental. The task is subjective, but it certainly help to follow a formalized strategy. Evans p. 45 lists some existing approaches.

Clemen and Reilly (2017) p. 52 ask: "How do we first separate means and fundamental objectives and then construct the fundamental-objectives hierarchy and the means-objectives network?" and suggest four guiding questions, techniques, for organizing means and fundamental objectives:
  • Why Is That Important? (WITI)
  • How can this objective be achieved?
  • What do you mean by that?
  • Of what more general objective is this an aspect?

Buede (1986) proposes two structuring methods: top down and bottom-up approaches.
  • Top-down method: it's objective-driven (close to Keeney and Raiffa 1976); "the analyst begins by ascertaining the global objectives of the decision maker and proceeds to a value structure by subdividing the objectives, sub-objectives, and so forth until a final set of attributes is obtained."
  • Bottom-up approach: it's alternative-driven. "The analyst begins by questioning the decision maker for a reasonable set of alternatives, each of which might solve the problem. Once the alternatives are defined, the analyst generates a value structure by probing the decision maker for the major differences between the identified alternatives. The analyst then categorizes these differences into groups corresponding to objectives so that a hierarchical value structure can be systematically constructed. The identified differences comprise the set of attributes."
Manheim and Hall (1967) reject the method which hinge on too much mathematization of decision components (e.g. cost-benefit analysis, and utility theory: von Neumann and Morgenstern) because they "it tends to obfuscate the issues of choice by concealing them in the mathematics of utility". Which is reasonable. The method is:

  1. goal fabric analysis: list all the known goals for the project and then identifying the various relations among the goals.
  2. utilize the goal fabric analysis to rank the alternatives. This entails mapping each new alternative onto the goal fabric (i. e., predicting the performance of the alternative with respect to some of the goals) and then, using this mapped information and the structure of the goal fabric, comparing the new alternative with one previously ranked, to fit the new one into the ranking.

"The method operates on only two alternatives at a time. Any attempt to formulate a list of goals runs into problems of consistency, overlap and varying degrees of detail of the goals. These problems are usually approached by trying to state all the goals in a uniform way. In the method we propose, however, this is precisely what is not done: the list of goals can contain overlap and different degrees of detail. We propose analyzing the list to identify explicitly all the relations among these "non-uniform" goals. The goal analysis is intended to structure the goals by identifying the relations among them that are relevant to evaluation of the alternatives." There are four relations of importance (the first two guide expansion of the goals list in order to clarify the vague goals)

  1. specification: entails explaining in more detail what we mean by the general goal. 
  2. means-end: describes how a goal can be accomplished
  3. value-wise dependence: are those goals that can be evaluated only in conjunction with other goals.
  4. value-wise independence: can be evaluated on their own, without regard to any other goals
Evans, G. (2017) Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis for Industrial Engineering. CRC.
Clemen and Reilly (2014) Making Hard Decisions with DecisionTools. CENGAGE
Keeney (1992), Value Focused Thinking. Harvard, p. 57ff
Keneey and Raiffa (1976) p. 31ff
Buede (1986) Structuring Value Attributes. Interfaces, 16. 2
Manheim and Hall (1967) Abstract representations of goals. MIT

Latin translations of Marcus Aurelius Meditations

  • W. Holtzmann (a.k.a. Xylander), (1558&1568): De seipso, seu vita sua. HERE
  • J. M. Schulz (1802) and J.F. Dubner (1840) Edited by Claude Pavur (2013)
  • Casaubon's edition (1634&1643)

Veritatem Temporis filiam esse

Truth is the Daughter of time:

Aulus Gellius (Noctes xii,11)  refers that:

If ... there were any who were neither so endowed by nature nor so well disciplined that they could easily keep themselves from sinning by their own will power, he thought that such men would all be more inclined to sin whenever they thought that their guilt could be concealed and when they had hope of impunity because of such concealment. But, said he, if men know that nothing at all can be hidden for very long, they will sin more reluctantly and more secretly. Therefore he said that one should have on his lips these verses of Sophocles, the wisest of poets:

See to it lest you try aught to conceal;
Time sees and hears all, and will all reveal.

Another one of the old poets, whose name has escaped my memory at present, called Truth the daughter of Time.
Alexandria, A.D. 641
Image result for borges biblioteca
Since the first Adam who beheld the night
And the day and the shape of his own hand,
Men have made up stories and have fixed
In stone, in metal, or on parchment
Whatever the world includes or dreams create.
Here is the fruit of their labor: the Library.
They say the wealth of volumes it contains
Outnumbers the stars or the grains
Of sand in the desert. The man
Who tried to read them all would lose
His mind and the use of his reckless eyes.
Here the great memory of the centuries
That were, the swords and the heroes,
The concise symbols of algebra,
The knowledge that fathoms the planets
Which govern destiny, the powers
Of herbs and talismanic carvings,
The verse in which love's caress endures,
The science that deciphers the solitary
Labyrinth of God, theology,
Alchemy which seeks to turn clay into gold
And all the symbols of idolatry.
The faithless say that if it were to burn,
History would burn with it. They are wrong.
Unceasing human work gave birth to this
Infinity of books. If of them all
Not even one remained, man would again
Beget each page and every line
Each work and every love of Hercules,
And every teaching of every manuscript.
In the first century of the Muslim era,
I, that Omar who subdued the Persians
And who imposes Islam on the Earth,
Order my soldiers to destroy
By fire the abundant Library,
Which will not perish... 

Live according to Nature - Marcus Aurelius

Image result for marcus aureliusThe scholar Pierre Hadot answered that living according to nature in the Stoics, meant living according to 3 disciplines:

  1. Discipline of action: living benevolently, so that all of mankind flourishes and achieves “happiness”.
  2. Discipline of Assent
  3. Discipline of Desire: self-control over irrational passions, “courage” and endurance in fear and suffering, and “self-discipline” (temperance).

Philosophers...unmanly, avoiding the business of the city and marketplace

Image result for aulus gelliusAulus Gellius addressed the role of philosophy in life.
"Philosophy, Socrates, is indeed a nice thing, if one pursue it in youth with moderation; but if one occupy oneself with it longer than is proper, it is a corrupter of men. For even if a man be well endowed by nature and follow philosophy when past his youth, he must necessarily be ignorant of all those things in which a man ought to be versed if he is to be honourable, good and of high repute. For such men are ignorant both of the laws relating to the city, and of the language which it is necessary to use in the intercourse of human society, both privately and publicly, and of the pleasures and desires of human life; in brief, they are wholly unacquainted with manners. Accordingly, when they engage in any private or public business, they become a laughing-stock; just exactly as statesmen, I suppose, become ridiculous when they enter into your debates and discussions ... to be a philosopher is not dishonourable when one is young; but when one who is already older persists in the business, the thing becomes laughable, Socrates, and I for my part feel the same towards those who philosophize as towards those who lisp and play. Whenever I see a little boy, to whom it is fitting to speak thus, lisping and playing, I am pleased, and it seems to me becoming and liberal and suited to the age of childhood; but when I hear a small boy speaking with precision, it seems to me to be a disagreeable thing; it wounds my ears and appears to be something befitting a slave. When, however, one hears a man lisping, or sees him playing, it appears ridiculous, unmanly and deserving of stripes. I feel just the same way towards the philosophers When I see philosophy in a young man, I rejoice; it seems to me fitting, and I think that the young man in question is ingenuous; that he who does not study philosophy is not ingenuous and will never himself be worthy of anything noble or generous. But when I see an older man still philosophizing and not giving it up, such a man, Socrates, seems to me to deserve stripes. For, as I have just said, it is possible for such a man, even though naturally well endowed, to become unmanly, avoiding the business of the city and the marketplace, where, as the poet says, men become “most eminent,” and living the rest of his life in hiding with young men, whispering in a corner with three or four of them, but never accomplishing anything liberal, great or satisfactory...He does not, of course, refer to that philosophy which is the teacher of all the virtues, which excels in the discharge of public and private duties alike, and which, if nothing prevents, governs cities and the State with firmness, courage and wisdom; but rather to that futile and childish attention to trifles which contributes nothing to the conduct and guidance of life, but in which people of that kind grow old in “ill-timed playmaking,”
Robert Burton in "Anatomy of Melancholy" also touches on the issue, and is
Burton grand.jpgYour greatest students are commonly no better, silly, soft fellows in their outward behaviour, absurd, ridiculous to others, and no whit experienced in worldly business; they can measure the heavens, range over the world, teach others wisdom, and yet in bargains and contracts they are circumvented by every base tradesman. Are not these men fools? and how should they be otherwise, but as so many sots in schools, when (as he well observed) they neither hear nor see such things as are commonly practised abroad? how should they get experience, by what means? "I knew in my time many scholars," saith Æneas Sylvius (in an epistle of his to Gasper Scitick, chancellor to the emperor), , "excellent well learned, but so rude, so silly, that they had no common civility, nor knew how to manage their domestic or public affairs." 

Marcus Aurelius Meditations

Concentrate every minute like a Roman—like a man—on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, carefully, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions. Yes, you can—if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centered, irritable.
Do external things distract you? Then make time for yourself to learn something worthwhile; stop letting yourself be pulled in all directions.
People who labor all their lives but have no purpose to direct every thought and impulse toward are wasting their time—even when hard at work. 
Don’t waste the rest of your time here worrying about other people—unless it affects the common good. It will keep you from doing anything useful. You’ll be too preoccupied with what so-and-so is doing, and why, and what they’re saying, and what they’re thinking, and what they’re up to, and all the other things that throw you off and keep you from focusing on your own things. 
If you do a job in a principled way, with diligence, energy and patience, if you keep yourself free of distractions, and keep your thoughts ... then your life will be happy.
Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been 
Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’
Remember that our efforts are subject to circumstances; you weren’t aiming to do the impossible. Aiming to do what, then? To try. And you succeeded. What you set out to do is accomplished.
Tell yourself: This thought is unnecessary. This one is destructive to the people around you. This wouldn’t be what you really think (to say what you don’t think—the definition of absurdity).

Text taken with some modifications from Gregory Hays' translation of Meditations.

Books of the Century Lists

Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century 

The Stranger/The Outsider Albert Camus
In Search of Lost Time/Remembrance of Things Past Marcel Proust
The Trial Franz Kafka
The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Man's Fate André Malraux
Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Céline
The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck
For Whom the Bell Tolls Ernest Hemingway
Le Grand Meaulnes Alain-Fournier
Froth on the Daydream Boris Vian
The Second Sex Simone de Beauvoir
Waiting for Godot Samuel Beckett
Being and Nothingness Jean-Paul Sartre
The Name of the Rose Umberto Eco
The Gulag Archipelago Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Paroles Jacques Prévert
Alcools Guillaume Apollinaire
The Blue Lotus Hergé
The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank
Tristes Tropiques Claude Lévi-Strauss
Brave New World Aldous Huxley
Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
Asterix the Gaul René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
The Bald Soprano Eugène Ionesco
Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality Sigmund Freud
The Abyss/Zeno of Bruges Marguerite Yourcenar
Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
Ulysses James Joyce
The Tartar Steppe Dino Buzzati
The Counterfeiters André Gide
The Horseman on the Roof Jean Giono
Belle du Seigneur Albert Cohen
One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez
The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner
Thérèse Desqueyroux François Mauriac
Zazie in the Metro Raymond Queneau
Confusion of Feelings Stefan Zweig
Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell
Lady Chatterley's Lover D. H. Lawrence
The Magic Mountain Thomas Mann
Bonjour Tristesse Françoise Sagan
Le Silence de la mer Vercors
Life: A User's Manual Georges Perec
The Hound of the Baskervilles Arthur Conan Doyle
Under the Sun of Satan Georges Bernanos
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Joke Milan Kundera
Contempt/A Ghost at Noon Alberto Moravia
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Agatha Christie
Nadja André Breton
Aurélien Louis Aragon
The Satin Slipper Paul Claudel
Six Characters in Search of an Author Luigi Pirandello
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui Bertolt Brecht
Friday Michel Tournier
The War of the Worlds H. G. Wells
Se questo è un uomo, Survival in Auschwitz Primo Levi
The Lord of the Rings J. R. R. Tolkien
Les Vrilles de la vigne Colette
Capital of Pain Paul Éluard
Martin Eden Jack London
Ballad of the Salt Sea Hugo Pratt
Writing Degree Zero Roland Barthes
The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum Heinrich Böll
The Opposing Shore Julien Gracq
The Order of Things Michel Foucault
On the Road Jack Kerouac
The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Selma Lagerlöf
A Room of One's Own Virginia Woolf
The Martian Chronicles Ray Bradbury
The Ravishing of Lol Stein Marguerite Duras
The Interrogation J. M. G. Le Clézio
Tropisms Nathalie Sarraute
Journal, 1887–1910 Jules Renard
Lord Jim Joseph Conrad
Écrits Jacques Lacan
The Theatre and its Double Antonin Artaud
Manhattan Transfer John Dos Passos
Ficciones Jorge Luis Borges
Moravagine Blaise Cendrars
The General of the Dead Army Ismail Kadare
Sophie's Choice William Styron
Gypsy Ballads Federico García Lorca
The Strange Case of Peter the Lett Georges Simenon
Our Lady of the Flowers Jean Genet
The Man Without Qualities Robert Musil
Furor and Mystery René Char
The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger
No Orchids For Miss Blandish James Hadley Chase
Blake and Mortimer Edgar P. Jacobs
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge Rainer Maria Rilke
Second Thoughts/The Origins of Totalitarianism Michel Butor
The Burden of Our Time Hannah Arendt
The Master and Margarita Mikhail Bulgakov
The Rosy Crucifixion Henry Miller
The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler
Amers/Gaston Saint-John Perse
Gomer Goof André Franquin
Under the Volcano Malcolm Lowry
Midnight's Children Salman Rushdie

Source Wiki

The Winds in Seneca's Naturales Questiones

Winds at the Earth’s surface, and their directional sources. Loeb Classical Library

Pons Asinorum in Logic

Pons Asinorum. Kneale & Kneale 186
Kneale and Kneale, p. 186-187 explain: "Aristotle suggests a technique for finding syllogisms to prove conclusions of the four different kinds. When we want to prove a universal affirmative conclusion with two given terms, we should consider characters which entail the predicate of the proposed conclusion and characters which are entailed by the subject of the proposed conclusion. When we want to prove a particular affirmative we should consider characters which entail the predicate and characters which entail the subject. When we want to prove a universal negative we should consider characters which are incompatible with the predicate and characters which are entailed by the subject or conversely characters which are entailed by the predicate and characters which are incompatible with the subject. And finally, when we want to prove a particular negative we should consider characters which are incompatible with the predicate and characters which entail the subject. ... The diagram which Alexander [of Aphrodisias] describes is not preserved in our text of his work, but it can easily be reconstructed as shown, According to Aristotle's lettering, A is the predicate of the conclusion, B the group of characters entailed by A, Γ the group of characters that entail A, Δ the group of characters incompatible with A, E the subject of the conclusion, and Z, H, Θ the groups of characters related to it in the same way as the groups opposite are related to A. We have inserted five continuous lines to represent the five cases noticed above (two for the proof of universal negative conclusions) and a dotted line to represent the case--{Baralipton) in which we can prove a particular affirmative conclusion from premisses that would suffice to prove the universal affirmative with transposed terms."

A nicer pons asinorum from the 17th century. Source unknown

Chrysippus and his indemonstrables modes of reasoning

From the Jeremy Kirby's entry on Chrysippus in the IEP.

"...Aristotelian arguments above made use of classes. The ... relata herein are propositions [not classes]—Stoics called these ‘sayables’—rather than classes. In Aristotelian logic, the key connectives are ‘all’, ‘some’, ‘is’, and ‘is not’. In Chrysippus’ logic, the key connectives are ‘if’, ‘or’, ‘and’, ‘not’. "

  • Modus ponens: If p, q; p; ergo, q. : p→q, p, ∴q
  • Modus tollens: If p, q; not q; ergo, not p. : p→q, ¬q, ∴¬p 
  • Modus ponendo tollens: Either p or q; p; ergo not q.: p∨q, p, ¬q
  • Modus tollendo ponens-1: Either p or q; not q; ergo p.: p∨q, ¬q,  
  • Modus tollendo ponens-2: Not both p and q; p; ergo, not q. ¬(p∧q), p, ¬q
  • The consequentia mirabilis

    If a proposition follows from its own negation, then it's true.
    Some instances in which this deductive method is used are:

    • Cogito: I think
    • <> all that thinks exist
    • ergo sum: therefore I exist.
    • Suppose that all my knowledge is false
    • but at least I know that I know something, although it's wrong
    • Therefore in knowing that I know something, I don't deceive myself
    Angelelli, I. () Here
    Mirabell, I. () Here
    Kneale, W. () Here

    Johann Kaspar Sulzer: De conceptibus

    Cap. I. De conceptibus et quomodo in species et genera ordinentur.
    §l Quicquid in rerum natura sensibus nostris observatur, singulare est.

    §2 Omne singulare ab alio singulari differt eo ipso, quod est aliud, et individuum vocatur.

    §3 Omnia itaque in rerum natura sunt diversa, et licet sint innumerabilis, tamen semper unum non est alterum: unum individuum non est alterum individuum: Jacobus non est Johannes.

    §4 Quamquam vero diversa sunt, in multis tamen convenire deprehendimus. In quibus conveniunt vel similia sunt, eo respectu ad eandem referuntur classem: in quibus non conveniunt, ad diversam classem referuntur.

    §5 Quae ad eandem classem pertinent, idem nomen habent: diversa classis diversum nomen obtinet, et nomen unius classis alteri non convenit. v.g. Jacobus et Henricus, quia similes sunt, pertinent ad unam eandemque classem, cui virorum nomen est. Hinc uterque est vir. Anna vero et Maria, quia multum differunt a Jacobo et Henrico, diversam classem constituunt, quae nomine feminarum gaudet. Est ergo et Anna et Maria femina, sed vir non est femina nec femina vir.

    §6 Ex collatione igitur rerum omnium plurimae classes rerum oriuntur, et semper diversae, quia classis una non est altera, §2, 3.

    §7 Classes, quae ex similitudine individuorum promanant, erunt classes primi ordinis, et dicuntur species, vgr. mares, feminae.

    §8 Classes primi ordinis, licet diversae, similitudinem quandam habent, quae similitudo exhibet classes secundi ordinis, seu classes specierum, et tales classes vocantur genera. Sic mares et feminae ex Jacobo, Henrico, Anna, Maria orti homines nominantur, hinc mares et feminae erunt species, homines vero genus.

    §9 Classes, quae ex similitudine classium secundi ordinis oriuntur, tertii ordinis classes producunt, et generum superiorum nomine veniunt. Tale genus superius est, si homines et bruta conferuntur, et ex eo, quod utrinque vivunt et sentiunt, in unam classem ordinantur, quae classis animalium nomen habet, animal ergo erit genus superius.

    §10 Ulterius sic procedendo classes quarti, quinti, cet. ordinis exhibentur, et sic superiora semper genera nobis sistuntur, donec tandem ad unam ultimam classem perveniamus, quae supremum genus dicitur, quod ens est [ ... ].
    §13 Quod itaque genus nomen habet, et quidquid de genere dicitur, id nomen quoque habent omnia, quae sub hoc genere comprehenduntur ad individua usque, et de iis quoque absolute dicitur. Exemplum sit animal, quia homines, bruta, mares, feminae, cet. comprehendit, dicetur homo est animal, brutum, vir, femina, Jacobus, Maria, cet., est animal. Et si dicitur: animal sentit, etiam homo, brutum, vir, femina, Jacobus, Maria, sentit.

    See: Angelelli, I. (1974) LA JERARQUIA DE CLASES DE JOHANN CASPAR SULZER (1755). Cuadernos de Filosofia. Universidad de Buenos Aires. XIV, 21 , 1974


    A philosophaster is a “A shallow or pseudo-philosopher; a smatterer or pretender in philosophy”, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

    There's also a book by Robert Burton, of Melancholic fame, by the same name. The character names are funny, all of them charlatans in philosophy and theology:

    Polypragmaticus, Pantomagus, Pedanus, Amphimacer, Theanus

    Orator: cultivated talent from a second ploughing

    For bring me a man as accomplished, as clear and acute in thinking, and as ready in delivery as you please; if, for all that, he is a stranger to social intercourse, precedent, tradition, and the manners and disposition of his fellow-countrymen, those commonplaces from which proofs are derived will avail him but little. I must have talent which has been cultivated, soil, as it were, not of a single ploughing, but both broken and given a second ploughing so as to be capable of bearing better and more abundant produce. And the cultivation is practice, listening, reading and written composition.

    Nam si tu mihi quamvis eruditum hominem adduxeris, quamvis acrem et acutum in cogitando, quamvis ad pronuntiandum expeditum, si erit idem in consuetudine civitatis, in exemplis, in institutis, in moribus ac voluntatibus civium suorum hospes, non multum ei loci proderunt illi, ex quibus argumenta promuntur. Subacto mihi ingenio opus est, ut agro non semel arato, sed et novato et iterato, quo meliores fetus possit et grandiores edere. Subactio autem est usus, auditio, lectio, litterae.

    [my free translation] If you bring me an erudite orator, intellectually clear and sharp, and able in delivery; his arguments will be of little avail to him if he's not familiar with the traditions, examples, institutions, morals, and tastes of his countrymen... 

    Cicero De Oratore, II, 131 (p. 293)

    Concepts of Evidence

    Image result for carnapFrom Carnap, Logical Foundations of Probability, p. 163. See Also Rabinovitch, p. 109
    1. Classificatory
      • e renders h probable
    2. Comparative
      • e1 renders h1 more probable than e2 renders h2
      • (e1 & e2) render h more probable than e1 alone does.
      • e1 renders h1 more probable than it does h2
    3. Quantitative
      • the probability of h on e is r

    the mark of an educated man...

    Our discussion will be adequate if it has as much clearness as the subject-matter admits of, for precision is not to be sought for alike in all discussions, any more than in all the products of the crafts. Now fine and just actions, which political science investigates, admit of much variety and fluctuation of opinion, so that they may be thought to exist only by convention, and not by nature. And goods also give rise to a similar fluctuation because they bring harm to many people; for before now men have been undone by reason of their wealth, and others by reason of their courage.

    We must be content, then, in speaking of such subjects and with such premisses to indicate the truth roughly and in outline, and in speaking about things which are only for the most part true and with premisses of the same kind to reach conclusions that are no better. In the same spirit, therefore, should each type of statement be received; for it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs. Nicomachean Ethics, I, 3.

    and in Latin (secoind paragraph)

    In tradenda civili scientia, non agendum esse demonstrationibus accuratis, quia id subjectum eius non permittit

    (I don't like this Latin translation by William Wilkinson 1820 too much - it's very convoluted)

    Ergo satis erit, si, cum de rebus et ex rebus ejusmodi verba facimus, rudem quandam veri formam adumbremus: et cum de rebus, quae plurimum eveniunt, atque ex talibus disputationem instituimus,
    talia quoque concludamus. Eodemque modo quaecunque ab alio dicuntur accipi probarique debent; est enim hominis probe instituti tantam in unoquoque genere subtilitatem desiderare, quantam rei ipsius natura recipit; nihil enim videtur interesse, utrum mathematicum rationibus ad persuadendum ac commodatis utentem feras, an ab oratore demonstrationes postules.

    This one by Carolus Zell (better)

    Satis itaque erit, si, cum de ejusmodi rebus ex rationibus item ejusmodi explicatio instituatur, rudi quadam et crassa forma verum declaremus; satis item, si (cum et derebus, quae plerumque eveniunt, et vero etiam ex talibus rationibus disputationem instituamus) ad talem quoque modam concludamus. Εodem autem modo etiarti accipi oportebit, quae hic dicentur. Εst enim bene instituti hominis, tantam in unoquoque genere disputationis subtilitatem desiderare, quantam rei ipsius fert natura. Ut enim ridiculus sit, qui mathematicum probabilibus rationibus ntentem probet: ita is quoque, qui ab ora tore demonstrationes postulet.

    Structure follows Strategy

    The economic historian Alfred D. Chandler Jr. coined an aphorism that summarizes the characteristics of business structures: structure follows strategy.

    From the point of view of its origin, the general idea, not the useful input for business of course, already exists in Antiquity. In the Aristotle's system the structure embodies the formal and perhaps the efficient causes, to achieve certain final cause.

    Another way to put it is that that structure is purposeful, and that purpose pertains to some strategy inasmuch strategy is a chain of causes that are deployed to accomplish certain purpose(s). As such, the structure is not something different but a part of the strategy.

    Against Radical Empiricism - Experience needs Theory

    • Experience teaches nothing without theory. (W. Edwards Deming)
    • Without sensibility no object would be given to us, and without understanding none would be thought. Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind (Kant, Critique Pure Reason.)
    • The Sophists then appeared, men of no system but surveying all, only to find a multitude of ineffectual predicates applied to the world. (W.A. Heidel)
    • A radical empiricism … denies the possibility of knowledge (Hans Reichenbach, The rise of scientific philosophy)
    • no matter their ‘depth’ and sophistication, machine learning algorithms merely fit model forms to data. (Coveney, Dougherty, Highfield)
    • Data have no meaning apart from their context (W. Shewhart)
    • Gelman and Loken warn about the dangers of Borgean "garden of forking paths" when analyzing data. here.


    Hogarth: Line of Beauty - serpentine

    The serpentine is the line of beauty.

    Gibbs vs Boltzmann Entropies


    Important observation: Entropy is a characteristic of a thermodynamic system, not of a physical system. Because a physical system admits of many thermodynamic systems. The thermodynamic state is defined via a set of parameters (or degrees of freedom).

    Paper here

    Plato's "Grand Lie" - a.k.a. "Noble Lie"

    Lie as a tool. Dangerous in the contents, and in the method of imposing it.

    "The rulers then of the city may, if anybody, fitly lie on account of enemies or citizens for the benefit of the state; no others may have anything to do with it but for a layman to lie to rulers of that kind we shall affirm to be as great a sin, nay a greater, than it is for a patient not to tell physician or an athlete his trainer the truth about his bodily condition, or for a man to deceive the pilot about the ship and the sailors as to the real condition of himself or a fellow-sailor, and how they fare." (Republic 389b-c)

    "...How then may we devise one of those needful falsehoods of which we lately spoke—just one Grand lie which may deceive the rulers, if that be possible, and at any rate the rest of the city? What sort of lie? he said. Nothing new, I replied; only an old Phoenician tale of what has often occurred before now in other places, (as the poets say, and have made the world believe,) though not in our time, and I do not know whether such an event could ever happen again, or could now even be made probable, if it did.

    ...I will speak ... the audacious fiction, which I propose to communicate gradually, first to the rulers, then to the soldiers, and lastly to the people. They are to be told that their youth was a dream, and the education and training which they received from us, an appearance only; in reality during all that time they were being formed and fed in the womb of the earth, where they themselves and their arms and appurtenances were manufactured; when they were completed, the earth, their mother, sent them up; and so, their country being their mother and also their nurse, they are bound to advise for her good, and to defend her against attacks, and her citizens they are to regard as children of the earth and their own brothers.

    ... Citizens, we shall say to them in our tale, you are brothers, yet God has framed you differently. Some of you have the power of command, and in the composition of these he has mingled gold, wherefore also they have the greatest honour; others he has made of silver, to be auxiliaries; others again who are to be husbandmen and craftsmen he has composed of brass and iron; and the species will generally be preserved in the children. But as all are of the same original stock, a golden parent will sometimes have a silver son, or a silver parent a golden son. And God proclaims as a first principle to the rulers, and above all else, that there is nothing which they should so anxiously guard, or of which they are to be such good guardians, as of the purity of the race. They should observe what elements mingle in their offspring; for if the son of a golden or silver parent has an admixture of brass and iron, then nature orders a transposition of ranks, and the eye of the ruler must not be pitiful towards the child because he has to descend in the scale and become a husbandman or artisan, just as there may be sons of artisans who having an admixture of gold or silver in them are raised to honour, and become guardians or auxiliaries. For an oracle says that when a man of brass or iron guards the State, it will be destroyed.

    Such is the tale; is there any possibility of making our citizens believe in it? Not in the present generation, he replied; there is no way of accomplishing this; but their sons may be made to believe in the tale, and their sons' sons, and posterity after them. 
    (Republic 414b ...)

    Collingwood + Rex Martin on what is Historical Explanation

    To start with it seems that the best summary of Collingwood thinking was elicited by Dray:
    "...for in so far as we say an action is purposive at all, no matter at what level of conscious deliberation, there is a calculation which could be constructed for it. .. And it is by eliciting some such calculation that we explain the action." LAE 123
    and C. Devanny,
    "...what we very often want is a reconstruction of the agent's calculation of means to be adopted toward his chosen end in the light of the circumstances in which he found himself." 116 (LAE 122)
    Next figure is adapted from Rex Martin's Historical Explanation p. 69

    Rex Martin expressed the meaning of each node and side of the triangle in a schema of seven propositions:
    1. The agent perceived himself to be in a certain situation and was disposed to act toward it in some definite way (e.g., as Caesar was disposed to curb the hostile incursions of the Britons). 
    2. There were a number of alternative courses of action (designated as A-e.g., invading-B, C, and so on) open to the agent who had the situational motivation described in (1). 
    3. The agent did want to achieve or accomplish such-and-so end (e.g., conquest), which he believed would satisfy his situational motivation.
    4. He believed that doing A was, in the circumstances already described, a means to accomplishing his stated purpose or a part of achieving it.
    5. There was no action other than A believed or seen by the agent to be a means to his goal which he preferred or even regarded as about equal.
    6. The agent had no other purpose which overrode that of accomplishing such-and-so. 
    7. And we might add, although Collingwood gave little attention to it, that the agent knew how to do A, was physically able to do it, would be able to do it in the situation as given, had the opportunity, etc
    I interpreted it graphically as (though not sure on 5 and 6):

    The statistical criteria for proving the relevance are taken from Wesley Salmon:

    1. Statistical relevance: (called simple relevance by Martin)
    2. Screening-off: (Outweighing or overruling)
    3. Homogeneity of the reference class (intrinsic relevance)

    Concept, Percept - Essence, Accident.

    William Arthur Heidel (1868-1941), a philosopher son of a preacher, makes these interesting observations. His booklet "The necessary and the contingent in the Aristotelian system (1896)" is a very lucid treatment of concepts (and percepts).
    • The Sophists then appeared, men of no system but surveying all, only to find a multitude of ineffectual predicates applied to the world.
    • It is quite true, Aristotle admits, to say that chance is irrational; for reason deals only with what occurs always or at least for the most part, whereas chance lies in the reverse of these.
    • Thus the contingent and the necessary, which possess a true meaning only within a limited scope defined by a particular end, are generalized and erected into absolute fact. But, really, absolute necessity is as unmeaning as absolute contingency. For both conceptions we shall do well to substitute that of less or greater completeness in the definition of fact.
    He advances the idea that concepts are made with a end in view
    • The concept, in other words, is to be gained by defining the particular: But just here we discover the bad influence of the Socratic induction, proceeding as it did by the elimination of the non-essential, without being fully conscious of the meaning of this exclusion...It was the nature of the particular, in fact, which constituted the concept.
    • Viewed from a practical standpoint the exclusion of the non-essential from the concept is not only justified, but it even indicates a truth which ought to lead to the destruction of the theoretical category of "things" and so of the "given." When we are engaged in realizing an end which we have set up after a preliminary review or examination of our means, we find in our experience as presented in memory certain clusters of qualities which \ve commonly denote as things. These clusters are the net results, so to speak, of innumerable previous experiences, in which these "things" did service as ends in themselves or as means toward further ends. We cannot too gratefully acknowledge the serviceableness of this our minds' economy, by which our experience and, therefore, our whole fund of materials or means for future action is definitely organized so as to obviate the fatality of depending on more or less chance suggestions.
    • The essential point, on the theoretical side, is to recognize that .. [he] readjust[s] these clusters of qualities, according as this or that content is peculiarly desirable for a particular end... 
    • The previously discarded qualities, now again seen in the "things," are classed as "accidents" as opposed to the "essence." This once done, the arena is prepared for all the fruitless battles that have been fought over substance and attribute and inherence. ... I shall hope to show later on that this psychological fallacy is at the base of the distinction between the necessary and the contingent.
    • ... the contingent and the necessary, which possess a true meaning only within a limited scope defined by a particular end, are generalized and erected into absolute fact. But, really, absolute necessity is as unmeaning as absolute contingency. For both conceptions we shall do well to substitute that of less or greater completeness in the definition of fact.

    pseudo-Metaphysical claims of Positivism acc. to Collingwood

      Image result for collingwood robin
    • EM 143: Its central doctrine was that the only valid method of attaining knowledge is the method used in the natural sciences, and hence that no kind of knowledge is genuine unless it either is natural science or resembles natural science in method. 
    • EM 154: the first principle of positivistic metaphysics, the principle that all the presuppositions we can detect underlying our thought must be justified, and justified by an appeal to observed facts.
    • EM: 147: What is in fact a presupposition they misunderstood as a general proposition about matters of fact, advanced upon credit and awaiting verification

    Collingwood's examples of Absolute Presuppositions

    We do not acquire absolute presuppositions by arguing; on the contrary, unless we have them already arguing is impossible to us. Nor can we change them by arguing; unless they remained constant all our arguments would fall to pieces. We cannot confirm ourselves in them by ‘proving’ them; it is proof that depends on them, not they on proof (An Essay on Metaphysics 1998: 173).

    What is the difference between presuppositions and assumptions? C. Ribeiro states:
    Collingwood (1940) made a distinction between presuppositions and assumptions. Presuppositions are non-justified implicit implications. They differ from assumptions because the latter are stated openly, are explicit, not implicit. We assume by an act of free will: ‘To assume is to suppose by an act of free will. A person who ‘makes an assumption’ is making a supposition about which he is aware that he might if he chose make not that but another. (…)’ (Collingwood 1940: 27) Presuppositions, however, work in the darkness. But they establish logical connections with the statements formulated in our explicit thought. 
    Some examples of AP:
    • all events have a cause
    • the principle of the continuity of nature in time and space, 
    • the existence of God
    • the principle that mathematics is applicable to the natural world and hence that natural science is essentially an applied mathematics
    • all events happen according to law (EM, 150).
    • nature is uniform (Mill's EM, 152)


    Ribeiro, C. (2015)

    Principle of Calculated Risk

    Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz portrait.jpgI wonder what is the originality, from a purely conceptual standpoint, of Nimitz' "Principle of Calculated Risk" (PCR). Aside from its indiscutible tactical value proven in WWII, this principle seems a commonsensical variation of a priciple that is ancient: Here's some possible ancestors:

    • Prov. 25:8: ... utter not hastily in a quarrel: lest afterward thou mayst not be able to make amends.
    • Lk. 14:31: "Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?"
    • "reasonable chance condition" [Cajetan says] that for a war to be just, the Prince ought to know he has enough power to be morally certain of victory: first because otherwise he exposes himself to the manifest danger of imposing on his state greater harm than is fair. Quaestio de bello (from Suarez in Franklin).
    • Thompson (1950), the user in this case should have available complete information concerning the cost of each operation as well as an estimate of the contingent gain or loss which will result if the forecast events do not occur. Then, in order to keep the cost of the series of operations at a minimum, decisions should be made by balancing the probability of occurrence of the foreoast event against the ratio of the cost to the contingent gain or loss.
    • Prudent avoidance principle in risk management
    • Precautionary principle in risk management