… the wranglings of men are no basis for a judgment concerning the certitude or clarity of a proposition; for, in a word, everything can be disputed.

Antoine Arnauld

Authentic Root Claims

Complete Sentences

In elementary school most learned about complete sentences. It was an easy lesson. Teachers gave examples, explained finer points and then devised tests to discover how well we students could distinguish between complete and incomplete sentences. Virtually everyone catches on. The teacher moves to the next subject.

Lessons about complete sentences come easy because they bring to the student’s attention mental operations he or she already does. Learning lessons about complete sentences helps improve language competence, but it does not create a new skill. Before a child is ready for lessons on complete sentences, he must already be competent in the using of complete sentences. Before the lesson began, students made complete sentences. After the lesson was over, students continued making sentences in much the same way they did before they learned the lesson. Most people can verify this from their own experience.

As part of the lesson on complete sentences, students learn to recognize that sometimes a single word can stand for a complete sentence. For example, in a building, if someone yells, "Fire!", others usually conclude that the one word means in effect, "Get out of the building because a fire close at hand appears out of control!" In this context, one word ‘fire’ implicitly stands for two complete sentences. We know this without going to school, but most of us have to go to school to know that we know it.

In the context of a battle, the word ‘fire’ can be a signal to shoot. In a ceramics lab, it can be an order to bake something made of putty. From the context we discern the judgment that is symbolized by one word. [See Context Essay]

For another example, if a person is walking down the trail and a friend shouts, "Snake!", it is possible to stop, look, see the rattlesnake and jump aside before the sound of the warning dies away. One word, ‘Snake’ can communicate, "I see a rattlesnake in harms way and, if you wish to avoid taking a chance on being bit, you should take proper precautions". Taken in context, the hiker knows it is a rattlesnake because of the alarm in the tone of voice and because rattlesnake are common in the area. In the jungle ‘snake’ said with alarm would have different connotations.

In a another context, the word ‘snake’ can indicate a sentence with a less ominous implications. Walking through the zoo, while examining a reptile separated from us by a plate of glass, a friend can say, ‘snake’ and our reaction will be entirely different than when we were hiking. In this context, the word ‘snake’ also stands for a complete sentence, but this time means, "This creature I’m pointing to is a snake." No warning is implied.

Normal youngsters learn their lessons on complete sentences without trouble. Most also understand linguistic shorthand sufficiently to discern when one word stands for a complete sentence and when, in a different context, the word symbolizes a simple meaning uninvolved with an implied judgment.

For normal people making complete sentences begins at a young age. It is a basic intellectual talent. In school, learning to recognize the process comes easily because the talent is fundamental. When we understand the process, we often say that it is virtually self evident.


However, what is easy in school, in psychology becomes a major intellectual event. To consciously construct complete sentences and examine what we do in the process, makes it possible for us to reflect upon acts of judgment. Being able to distinguish between complete and incomplete sentences aids study of our own thinking ability as we ponder on the puzzle of using judgments to think about judgments.

Reflecting upon the process of making judgments is an intellectual process of reflecting on an intellectual process. We can reflect and we can understand that although not every human judgment is expressed in a complete sentence, that every complete sentence represents a judgment or a judgmental form. This becomes clear, as soon as understanding is clear. If you don’t see it, it is because you are not taking the time to do the reflecting required or because you have a mental block.

Judgments, Sentences, Evidence

Being able to make a judgment is an important intellectual event. The process of decision. in which we bring together separate concepts into one verdict with greater intellectual significance than the concepts un-joined, is a work of intelligence over and above physiological action and reaction. Before leaving the fifth grade, every child should understand the importance of this step in our knowledge process.

But we can do more than make judgments. We can express our judgments in sentences. Each complete sentence represents a judgment (or a judgmental form) and each judgment represents a choice where an individual connects subjects with predicates in a manner that gives the union a new intelligence absent in the concepts separate.

We are so familiar with judgments expressed in sentences that we easily treat them as if they were trivial. But, psychologists and logicians become excited about the process. Being able to make judgments is the talent we use in forming propositions, which we must do to be able to distinguish true from false. A complete sentence is hard evidence of the existence of judgment.

In reflecting on our judgmental process, we can see that an important distinction exists between making a judgment and recognizing that we are making a judgment. As part of our reflection on judgment, we note that to critically acknowledge a judgment as a judgment, we must first know, at least intuitively, it is a complete sentence. Conversely, when a string of symbols forms a thought we can recognize as a complete sentence, it will represent a judgment or judgmental form.

In our thinking, a reciprocal relationship exists between sentences and judgments. A complete sentence always represents a judgment or a judgmental form and a genuinely incomplete sentence never does. When students in school study the difference between a complete and an incomplete sentence they learn to reflectively distinguish genuine judgments from less complex concepts and/or mental images. This lesson helps youngsters understand aspects of their rational processes they spontaneously use in liminal thinking. [See Liminal Essay]

Whether we realize it or not, being able to express complete sentences and communicate judgments is an important intellectual talent. Failure to appreciate this gift is a major tragedy. Some people go through life with out being aware of the transformation that occurs in a creature who possesses this talent.

In reflecting on our own mental processes, we make a serious mistake if we dismiss our sentence making talent as trivial. Think about it this way: If, for some reason, we were restricted in the number of complete sentences we could speak or write in a lifetime, we would appreciate the value of this extraordinary talent. What if, for the rest of our lives, we were allowed to use only 10 more complete sentences and that ban included the use of one word standing for a complete sentence. We would learn in a hurry the significance of this talent. With only 10 left, we would be careful not to waste a word. What would your last ten sentences be?

In reality, of course, a ban on the number of complete sentences we speak or write is impossible. However, in our mind we can play a mental game and think about it. This exercise brings up several points. First of all, as already said, complete sentences are important, not trivial. Second, the collective number of complete sentences thought, spoken, and written by humans adds up to a titanic figure. In the third place, since scientists have easy access to the raw material, verifying the existence, magnitude, and value of complete sentences in human communication is not difficult.

Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates the importance of judgments and their expression in complete sentences. Some behaviouralists pass off the skill as if it were nothing but an example of the power of association and of no special count. Everybody does it, they say, therefore it is trivial, and then they go on to the next thing. They proceed under the false notion that because judgments come easy to normal people, they have little value.

It is true that, with the exception of babies and some other situations, all people make complete sentences and unquestionably making complete sentences is easy to do. However, the skill is not trivial. Making understandable judgments and expressing them in complete sentences is an extremely significant human activity. From a plus point of view, rational psychologists who stress this point are far advanced over those who dismiss this talent as nothing but association of impulses.

Hard Evidence

As scientific raw material, a vast number of complete sentences is accessible for study. If nothing else, the quantity of material available should arouse scientific curiosity.

Although it is difficult to objectively examine spoken sentences, we have the ability to write sentences on paper and study them at our leisure. Enough sentences have been written and preserved so that a reservoir of suitable material for research is always on tap. Newspapers, books, magazines, letters, personal papers, business records all contain complete sentences written by people who know how to make complete sentences and read by people who expect writers to produce complete sentences. Much of this written material is nearby in libraries, offices, private homes, and so on. This book is packed with examples of complete sentences.

Something to read that contains complete sentences is close at hand for almost anyone who wants it. Devising experiments to shed light on the value of complete sentences, the statements they represent, and the judgments they impart is not hard. We all have enough experience with complete sentences to verify their existence and their importance in human activity. We can reflect on this and do it in our own mind.

As it is with complete sentences, so it is with judgments, which the complete sentence symbolizes. Normal people start making judgments at a young age and continue making judgments through their lives. It is a human talent we use whether we go to school or not.

Nonetheless, to learn to recognize that we make judgments is a sophisticated process. As with complete sentences, usually we have to be taught to notice that we are making judgments. In most cases, the better our teacher, the more clearly we will learn to distinguish individual judgments as judgments and appreciate the role they play in our thought processes and in communication. Talking about the procedure is even more challenging.


Moving a step further, we can observe that the process of judging that a sentence is or is not complete is a value judgment because complete implies something of more stature than incomplete. Judging that the process of making a complete sentence is important is another value judgment. Importance implies value. To say it is a basic human rational process worth knowing more about is another value judgment.

After forming a judgment in our mind and then expressing it in a sentence we, mentally, decide whether or not it is a proposition and, if we decide it is a proposition, then we decide whether or not we choose to assign it a truth value. Only logicians use this terminology, but all rationally active people do it. This double act takes place in less than the wink of an eye with such ease that we usually do not note the intricacy of the process. Nonetheless, it is an important process that is a part of human intellectual experience and is replete with values.

It is a basic tenet of plus root theory that: values are inherent in rational thinking. The above is only one example from among many.


Noticing the skill involve in forming complete sentences is important for several reasons. One reason, involves the problem of verification.

Some schools of psychology reject reflection about human rational skills as unscientific because, they say, discussing the human mind presupposes introspection and value judgments, both of which they disallow on the grounds that neither are verifiable. Not verifiable, for a significant number, translates into chimerical, which in plain language means that man’s belief in his intellectually ability to distinguish sound from unsound rational thinking is nothing but an illusion. To the majority of us who embrace affirmative root values and adhere to values of commonsense coherence, this is a silly conclusion. However, theories of comprehensive behaviorism are advanced by some.

In contrast to comprehensive behavioralists, affirmative schools of psychology see the problem from a less extreme point of view. Affirmative psychologists, at least intuitively, hold that value judgments are inherent in rational thinking and that verification of the existence of rational skills requires an approach suited to the skill. Affirmative psychologists operate under the principle that: we cannot measure degrees of rational thinking in the same way we measure the temperature of boiling water.

Schools of thought based on affirmative logic, acknowledge that: we must use logical processes to study logical processes. This goes with our nature as human beings.

Strange Opposition

Non-salient oriented psychologists, who claim that they are being scientific in rejecting requirements of sound rational thinking, violate basic requirements of scientific and logical procedure. A strange inversion occurs. Relying on invert twist ideology, dialecticians who reject the requirements of sound rational thinking declare that they are more scientific than their counterparts who are committed to promoting requirements of sound rational thinking.

Non-salient ideologists reject important aspects of human experience despite mountains of evidence and call themselves scientific. They cannot prove their thesis. All they can do is to declare it. As justification, they employ sidestep logic and jump to radical conclusions based on unexamined and unjustified assumptions.

On the other hand, psychologists oriented toward affirmative logic, who have taken time to study the basic requirements of sound rational thinking, are quick to acknowledge the connection between values and rational thinking.

As said, plus root theory supports the development of values inherent in sound rational thinking. Later we can delve into the problem of verification at length. In the meantime we can skim over a few thoughts to suggest how a more extensive examination could proceed.

Verification Use and Abuse

Verification is a powerful tool in scientific research. Recognizing the need for verification is one of the breakthrough axioms of affirmative logic. Properly used, verification keeps scientific theory in touch with reality. More than that, it’s the stuff of science. If a person can’t verify his hypothesis in a manner adequately repeatable by others, he is not justified in calling it scientific.

However, as with any powerful idea, the demands of verification can be misused. Non-salient ideology in the hands of invert oriented psychologists can become an iron clad excuse (in their mind) for poor research. False verification requirements can be used to justify adopting serious root errors, especially thought conceit, totalitarian tactics, and invert language manipulation as described in previous chapters.

From a plus point of view, the misuse of verification is an abuse of science. People of cultivated commonsense, using developed logical intuition, know that suppositions presupposing the validity and values of affirmative logic are built into the idea of scientific method. Any attempt to pretend to verify the rejection of the requirements of sound rational thinking is a cancellation of the true verification procedure.

People who are not clear about how the scientific method works, can easily abuse verification requirements and be deceived by the abuse of verification.

Some writers, who have become prominent in left oriented modern style, seriously misunderstand the scientific method and the verification process. For example, Max Weber (1864-1920) a German social economist, as Herbert J. Muller remarks in Freedom in the Modern World, attempted to separate value from science.

Weber declared that sociologists must refrain from judgments about social good or evil, because as scientists they could claim no certainty for them and their business was to stick to verifiable evidence.

Herbert J. Muller

Weber, a German social-economist, who claimed he was scientific, has had far reaching influence on the development of modern sociology and psychology. Many people, following Weber’s lead, try to apply the notion of value-free analysis to human behavior because, they say, values cannot be verified. This inverse thinking has helped created huge contradictions in modern psychology, sociology, linguistics, and semantics. attempts to develop a scientifically based value free psychology and sociology is a contradiction in terms. Science is essentially value based.

Weber and those who try to separate value judgments from science make a crucial mistake because they fail to notice that value judgments are intrinsic to the scientific method.

Consider the following questions: Should scientists be concerned with facts or not? Does it matter how a scientist defines the term ‘fact’? In science, are all definitions of equal value or are some more appropriate than others? Is it all right for scientists to secretly change the meaning of their terminology in the process of defending their conclusions? Is it okay for a ‘scientist’ to deliberately equivocate and then hide the subterfuge from others? Is it okay for scientists to fake experiments to qualify for funding? Is it honest for scientists to tell lies about their opponents in order to discredit unwelcome theories? This list is only the beginning of pages of value judgments involved in the scientific method. A truly good scientist must be an ethical person.

Max Weber is a brazen example of unethical practice in pseudo science. Not everything Weber said is wrong. He had a few good ideas. However many of his dogmatic declarations are based on deception. For example, in discrediting "capitalism" he describes Benjamin Franklin as a colorless, one dimensional drudge whose summum bonum was,

… the earning of more and more money, combined with the strict avoidance of all spontaneous enjoyment of life … completely devoid of any eudaemonistic, not to say hedonistic, admixture. … this virtue and proficiency are, as it is now not difficult to see, the real Alpha and Omega of Franklin’s ethic, as expressed in the passages we have quoted, as well as in all his works without exception.

Max Weber

Weber created an ugly, distorted caricature of Franklin and from this dismal perversion extrapolated a false interpretation of the economic and social theories of the founders of the USA. Weber, the man who campaigns against value judgments, makes a slew of unjustified, cruel, and blatantly wrong value judgments based on false statements he invented in his head and called it value-free science. Is this good or bad? Is this what psychologists mean by verification? Are so-called value-free ideologists free to express their values, but others are not allowed the same privilege? Is this scientific?

Many people pass these questions off as trivialities and nit picking. But what if these problems are genuinely serious? Max Weber has been elevated, by powerful pace setters, to a position of intellectual authority in sociology, psychology, and philosophy. As a result, the seemingly trivial mistakes of the type Max Weber grinds out so readily add up to create major problems.

People who promote value-free science circumvent the questions that most need asking. Does a value-free science mean a science in which scientists reject the values of sound rational thinking? Do value free scientists forswear values of truthfulness and accuracy and valid deduction and accurate experimentation?

Respect for impartial truth, commitment to honesty, willingness to work for accuracy, and esteem for the rules of right reason are values. In affirmative science, habits employing the rules of reason are venerated as virtues. It requires dedication to follow through and apply the values of sound rational thinking to the subject under scrutiny.

Credible verification demands the ability and disposition to use sound rational thinking. Scientific verification requires respect for impartial truth. The person working to verify a statement needs a basic understanding of the scope of human knowledge as well as an appreciation of the possibilities of human intellectual development. Without adequate application of the values of sound rational thinking, pretending to achieve verification is a travesty.

Limits of Verification

Verification has inherent limits. Let’s go back to the first subject of this chapter, complete sentences. A verification study attempting to establish the existence and/or desirability of complete sentences in human rational thinking has internal limitations.

Our human ability to make complete sentences is a good example of some verification limits because scientists who study complete sentences have to employ complete sentences in setting up their experiments and reaching conclusions. They must use complete sentences as they evaluate complete sentences.

This chapter discussing complete sentences, uses complete sentences. You, the reader, expect complete sentences and would quit reading if their were no complete sentences. There is no way you could understand plus root theory without complete sentences.

What if a researcher at the end of his studies published the following conclusion:

The distinction between complete and incomplete sentences in human discourse is an illusion held by old fashioned reactionaries and is not scientifically true.

In this statement, the fictional researcher uses at least two complete sentences. If he didn’t use complete sentences, he couldn’t publish a conclusion. What if he published the following conclusion:

The distinction between a complete and incomplete sentences

If he did this, the rest of us would conclude that his conclusion was incomplete. He must use a complete sentence to denounce the existence of complete sentences.

Discussing human rational behavior from the point of view of complete sentences points out a major problem in behavioral sciences. Verification of statements about human rationality presupposes the use of skills the researcher aims to verify. The researcher is dealing with an inherent elemental limitation. It is a genuine paradox.

The study of complete sentences is an good exercise to demonstrate the problem of verification. For example, so far this chapter has over 100 complete sentences. Since many of the sentences were complex, the true number is higher. Even so, 100 is a significant number.

Although human rational talents are awesome, our rational abilities cannot produce absolutely perfect and infinitely complete knowledge because we have inherent limitations built into our knowledge acquiring equipment. One piece of evidence of our limits is that: we must presuppose basic rational skills in any attempt we make to verify basic rational skills.

It is important to recognize that these limitations apply to human knowledge and not to impartial truth which exists independent of human knowledge. Failure to recognize the distinction between human knowledge and impartial truth leads to the crucial root error discussed in chapter 12, named thought conceit. It is a basic tenet of plus root theory that: human understanding has both inherent limitations and grand possibilities. We know this in our deep logical intuitions. We use and apply these assumptions in our commonsense mode of thinking.

Limits and Possibilities

To improve elemental theory and to reduce the harm of root errors, we need to constantly emphasize both the limitations and possibilities of our own knowledge.

We humans can’t possess absolute knowledge about any statement because we do not have the mental ability to absolutely comprehend the meanings of terms we use or to totally understand all the implications of the judgments we make or to place any reasoning process in flawless context with the whole of every other bit of knowledge in the universe or to absolutely verify the truth of any statement.

On the other hand, although we can’t claim perfect understanding or infinite knowledge or absolute certainty, there is a vast amount of knowledge we are justified in accepting with firm surety and virtual certainty. Firm surety refers to conclusions based on established facts and supported by sound reasons. Even though we cannot aspire to absolute certainty we can in many cases claim firm surety and sometimes virtual certainty. In these cases we can feel confident in resting our case for all practical purposes and act upon our conclusions with resolute conviction. Virtual certainty is as reliable as we humans can get, but it is not the same as absolute certainty.

Many writers of old, when they said absolute certainty meant virtual certainty or resolute conviction or firm surety as plus defined. In all likelihood, this is what Antoine Arnauld intended when he said certainty. The same can be said of Cicero, St. Augustine, and many others. Many writers, who lean toward affirmative logic, mean virtual certainty when they say ‘absolute certainty’. If they had been pressed on the matter, they would have agreed that they meant something less than ‘absolute certainty’ in the full extension of the idea absolute, which belongs only to God.

When we take the idea absolute in its maximum implications, we can be virtually and logically certain that only an absolute being can possess absolute knowledge. At the same time it is foolish to conclude that because we limited humans cannot claim absolute, infinite, unlimited understanding, that therefore we know nothing. Both extremes are equally ridiculous. People with cultivated commonsense know this. This is a fundamental supposition of affirmative logic, affirmative thinking, affirmative philosophy.

Avoid Extremes

Avoiding rational extremes is important in science, particularly in behavioral sciences that experiment with the relation between human knowledge and human activity. It is especially pertinent in setting up verification requirements. Persons who demand infinitely exhaustive and absolutely perfect verification before they acknowledge anything unique in human mental life are pretenders disguising themselves in the white coat of a scientist.

Demanding unrealistic verification is as unscientific as being naively satisfied with too little. Rejecting all value-judgments, as does Max Weber, because they cannot be verified with infinite, absolute, total, final certainty is fraudulent reasoning. The major premise is false. Pretending to deduce true conclusions from false premises is unjustified and unscientific.

Accurate Research

When plus root theory maintains that: scientific verification has limits — this is not an excuse for sloppy research. It’s the other way around. When we recognize the limits of our knowledge and concede that impartial truth is not of our own making, we become more careful, more concerned with testing facts, and more anxious to be sure that what we say is as accurate as we can make it.

Strange to say, when people slip into attitudes of thought conceit they often become careless in their research and begin to jump to conclusions, as did Max Weber. The attitude of those caught in the grip of thought conceit tends to become the opposite of researchers steeped in thought respect who have a high regard for accuracy. In discussing Benjamin Franklin, Max Weber’s standards of accuracy were so low that if scientists in general followed his method, science would collapse.

This is not a trivial example. In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Weber quotes Franklin extensively and makes a point of using Franklin as a person who totally suppressed the joy of life and was absolutely dominated by the making of money and by acquisition as the ultimate purpose of his life where economic acquisition is no longer subordinated to man as the means for the satisfaction of his material needs. Weber couldn’t have picked a worse example. Most critics of Franklin fault him because he was too involved with the joy of life. While still a relatively young man, Franklin declared he had enough money. He retired from dedicated money making and spent the rest of his life conducting his experiments for free and doing what he wanted to do.

Franklin entered this world into a huge family so poor that Franklin only had two years of schooling. He worked hard to educate himself and get out of poverty. Once he had enough money to live well, he stopped working so hard and spent much of the rest of his life in free service to mankind. He did not take out a patent on his Franklin stove so more people could enjoy it. Weber quoted extensively from a tract Franklin wrote when he was a youth of about 18, visiting England, and heady with his acquaintance with Mandeville. Later, Franklin expressed dismay at this tract he wrote before he was 20. He called it one of the great erratums of his life. Nonetheless, this tract is quoted over and over by persons who should know better (Coppleston, Barbara Ward?) as if this was the only thing Franklin ever wrote and as if these thoughts were the only thoughts Franklin ever thought. They ignore his Autobiography and the 40 volumes of his published works as if they did not exist. Is this scientific?

High Quality Science

Thought respect produces good scientists. Researchers, who have developed a deep love of impartial truth will not be satisfied with negligent research or with fallacies used to justify expediently manipulated conclusions. They will test and retest their reasoning, triple check their experiments, and struggle to find consistent explanations.

Standards of Verification

Determining standards of verification is a challenging business. Who should set the standards. Do we want affirmative standards or should we choose standards of the radical right and radical left? [See Standards Essay]

When we look at it this way, the concerns of behavioral science take on a new dimension of complexity. In setting up standards of verification, what role should facts play? Also is accuracy important? What about theory, principle, hypothesis, and law?. How about valid deduction?

In verification requirements, from an affirmative point of view, we should encourage respect for facts. We should design experiments that test facts to be sure they are accurate. A basic tenet of plus root theory is that: people doing research should collect, study, test, and favor relevant facts and make sure that the facts they collect are as accurate as possible for the situation. Affirmative science promotes this requirement.

According to affirmative thinking, facts are important in scientific research and verification. To people raised with an affirmative background, this sounds normal and obvious. We accept these requirements with firm surety.

This requirement is not trivial. The scientific revolution since Copernicus, Galileo and Newton is based, to a significant degree, on appreciation of the value of facts and respect for accuracy. To put the matter even stronger, without appreciation of facts and concern for accuracy, we would not have a scientific revolution. From a plus point of view, a good scientist insists on accurate facts.

In general discourse, fact is used to mean my opinion, my feelings, convenient excuse, possible theory, hasty guess and similar applications. The term fact is used to mean something other than a fact with such consistency that it is rare to find the term fact used to mean fact. This is very strange. When fact is used to mean something other than fact and we are left with no word for real facts. Take for example the following comment:

There is no inductive method which could lead to the fundamental concepts of physics. Failure to understand this fact constituted the basic philosophical error of so many investigators of the 19th century.

Albert Einstein

The first is a generalization that may be true — but — should we referred to as a fact, as is done in the second statement? From a logical and scientific point of view, the first statement is a principle or generalization or theory or hypothesis gleaned from facts — facts that were presumably verified through observation and experience. The facts are one thing. The generality or principle we ‘educe’ or ‘elicit’ or ‘draw’ from the facts is something else. Recognizing the difference between a fact and a theory is basic to the scientific method. However, even scientists don’t follow basic scientific conventional terminology.

It is a puzzle that, in an age deeply involved with scientific technology, that vast numbers of people are careless with how scientific terms, such as fact, are used. However, using the term fact, when the term principle or theory or hypothesis would be more accurate, is common practice. From one point of view, it’s picky to point out these trivialities. The above quote is by Albert Einstein in a short discourse on induction and deduction. If he can do it, surely the rest of us can. And yet this laxity indicates a failure to appreciate the role of facts in science and logical deduction in the way the terms fact, principle, theory, hypothesis, law, etc. should be used.

Consider Bertrand Russell. You would think that, being a logician, he would care about accuracy in how he used the term fact. However, in his writing about economics he seems to use logical terms more for their psychological effect than for serious discourse. He wrote:

Take for example the Fact that free competition tends to end in monopoly. This is an empirical fact, the evidence for which is equally patent whatever one’s metaphysics may happen to be. [my emphasis]

Bertrand Russell

In affirmative logic, a statement such as: ‘Free competition tends to end in monopoly’ — is considered a hypothesis, a principle, a generalization, or a theory. To refer to such a statement as an empirical fact is an egregious redefining of the way the term fact is used in scientific and logical discourse. To complicate matters, the above general principle, which Russell calls a fact, from the point of view of many economists, is an unjustified, dangerous, over-generalization. Many maintain it that, using scientific evidence, this statement can be proven wrong.

Russell gets around the problem of scientific verification by fiat. He declares it is a fact and saves a lot of work.

This erratum of Russell, in its context, appears trivial and people allow it to slide. However, should we? Not only do these so-called ‘trivial’ slips add up to serious problems if left uncorrected, but also they indicate a major misunderstanding of the root requirements of sound rational thinking. Errors of this type suggest and encourage attitudes of thought conceit, and instigate techniques of inverse language manipulation in the dominant rational style of a culture.

Following this line of thought, it is enlightening to notice the way Herbert Marcuse, an American Marxist, used the term fact. In Reason and Revolution (1941) he wrote:

Every fact is more than a mere fact, it is a negation and restriction of real possibilities.

Herbert Marcuse

We have not yet established enough foundation to discuss the Hegelian-Marxist, interpretation of science and logic. However, the supposition that, facts-are-restrictions, is a theme that runs through modern leftist revolutionary dialectic. This is a important aspect of Hegelian-Marxist ideology. A true Marxist is very disdainful of facts.

Max Weber, who grew up in the soil of German ideology, was affected by the Hegelian/Marxist Dialectic and so were many others. Much contempt for fact we see in modern discourse gained momentum from the dedication of a few militant inverse ideologists who threw themselves with their whole heart into the promotion of Dialectical Materialism. Insofar as the Hegelian-Marxists dialectic is accepted in our intellectual community, Hegelian-Marxist ideas seep into the rational style of our day. A place to look for examples is in the way we conduct our political discourse.

Proportionally speaking, among intellectuals, there were and are only a few dedicated Hegelians or Marxists, but the ones we had and have, have been and still are brilliant and effective. They know how to orchestrate. From this source, themes of super-sophisticated inverse criticism have penetrated modern style and become established as standard assumptions in rational expectations. What is more, the whole process has occurred in such subtle manner that most people don’t realize that it happened and don’t see it, even when it is right in front of them. The way the term fact is used now days is one piece of evidence.

From a plus point of view, facts are not restrictions. In affirmative logic, facts are honored as fundamental evidence we use to help liberate our minds from restrictive illusions. In affirmative research, facts are sought with diligence and treated with respect.

Unfortunately, people oriented towards affirmative thinking often lose debates in confrontations with dialecticians skilled in Marxists techniques. As a result, attitudes have crept into modern rational style in which real facts are not considered particularly important. Many modern thinkers regress to old totalitarian themes and agree with Rousseau who, at the beginning of his Discourse sur l’inegaliti (1754), wrote,

Let us begin by setting aside all facts, for they are quite beside the point. [B190/Dispute of the New World p89]


This remark points out that the modern disregard for fact in new radical ideology is not new. Disparaging fact is a well worn, ancient ploy of manipulative totalitarian dialecticians.

Of course it is easier to prefer a quick fix than to engage in diligent study. But it does seem strange that, in our so-called scientific age, so many, who promote a new reason, hark back to a pre-scientific mentality and treat facts with sophisticated disdain.

The conflicting view of fact in modern discourse is an example of the strange struggle we see in modern problems between themes of affirmative reason and themes of new radical dialectic.

What standards should we follow? Should we follow affirmative standards of traditional western logic or should we follow standards of the new radicalism that fatefully reflects the Hegelian-Marxists dialectic?

There exists a deep conflict between modern affirmative thinking and new radical ideology. Although there is much thought respect in ordinary liminal discourse among most people, still we set abrasive contradictions and distressing anxiety traps for ourselves by embracing themes of radical inverse ideology in our critical standards. When this happens, whether we know it or not, we bind ourselves into a life of double standards because we deny at one level of thinking that which we presuppose and use at another level. It’s a peculiar conflict. We work deep-seated intellectual double binds on ourselves and then wonder why things don’t go well.

The censorious attitude toward facts and accuracy that has trickled into our present rational style is one symptom that results from the proliferation of root errors growing deep in our academic community. Appreciation of facts is slipping away. When a society develops disdain for facts and begins to joke about accuracy and enjoys mocking the requirements of valid deduction, then expectations of honesty inevitably wither. Root errors repeated over and over grow into totalitarian attitudes.

Have we strayed from the point? This chapter began with a discussion of complete sentences and judgments then wandered into a discourse on facts. Is there a connection?

In affirmative logic, a fact, to be a fact expressed in ordinary language, must to be a judgment represented by a complete sentence. Putting aside, for the moment, math and mathematical logic, chemical and physical formulas (formulas and equations are forms of complete sentences) and dealing only with those facts expressed in verbal sentences, a fact is a special kind of judgment expressed in a sentence in which the subject is an individual.

Mary came home from shopping at 7:30 pm, December 1, 1996.

Earlier Mary had promised John she would be home by 4:30 pm.

On December 1, 1996, Mary broke a promise.

These three statements are each in the grammatical form of a fact. They state a specific thing about an individual person, item, or event. If, after this single experience, John concludes,

All women are untrustworthy,

that statement is in the grammatical form of a generality or a principle. Grammatically speaking, a generality is not a fact — whether it is true or false.

To develop a well-rounded elemental understanding of facts we need a root-in-the-ground understanding of our judgment processes and our ability to represent judgments in complete sentences. Grammatically, logically, and scientifically speaking, a fact is a special kind of judgment that is discernible when expressed in special kind of sentence. Much of the current hazy use of the term fact stems from dismal mistakes about the human judgment process and confusion about the semantic skills required to express judgments.

Recognizing complete sentences and noting the difference between complete and incomplete is an experience that enough people can tune into and share so that researchers are justified in positing this recognition as a common human ability. Many of us (most of us) can attest to the experience personally. Furthermore, enough evidence exists to justify our belief that vast numbers of other people also share this experience.

Granted, we cannot absolutely (in the full sense of the idea absolute) verify the ascertation that we know how to use complete sentences and/or that we can tell the difference between a complete and incomplete sentence or that we can distinguish a fact from a principle.

However, accepting our personal familiarity with complete sentences as real and acknowledging our ability to distinguish complete from incomplete sentences as also real qualifies as virtually self evident.

We are justified in stating as an adequately verified true fact that on given occasions we have made complete sentences. On occasions we have recognized the sentences were complete. These experiences have been repeated enough so that we are justified in generalizing that we have an ability to tell complete from incomplete sentences. Also, enough verifiable evidence exists to resolutely justify our belief that the vast majority of other people also share this ability with us. In doing this we make credible root claims.

The above is a simple idea, and yet putting it succinctly in words is difficult. Try it. Take your own ability to recognize complete sentences and then explain exactly what you do and then verify your conclusions in a scientific experiment. After you do this, you will see for yourself that it is difficult to clearly state in an unambiguous way an obviously simple talent such as our ability to recognize the difference between a complete and incomplete sentence. It takes effort to express a virtually self evident statement about an elemental event in unambiguous terminology.

Many rational exercises fall in the same category as our talent to distinguish complete from incomplete sentences. Future chapters of this study will often refer to virtually self evident claims about elemental experiences that we are justified in accepting as resolutely true and proceed with confidence in our reasoning development. In the plus system they are called credible root claims.

Elemental experiences, by definition, are personal encounters with our own rational skills that we can reflect upon consciously and comprehend intellectually. We can verify claims concerning elemental experience for ourselves by our own self conducted experiments. We can expand these tests to include other people by means of give and take discussions in which we can rationally induce/deduce that they share the same experience. When we express our conclusions in well formed propositions, we make credible root claims.

In plus standards, we are justified in accepting credible root claims as resolutely certain after our own careful reflective verification. Without having to launch into pages of detailed iteration, each reader can do little experiments in his or her head to establish what is an elemental experience and whether elemental assumptions are verities or mistakes. The following chapters suggest some starting points but leave you to follow through in your own mind.

After conscientious reflection, we are justified in accepting root claims as adequately verified (credible) for use in sound rational thinking. However, this does not mean we are justified in accepting every whim that comes into our head as if it were sound and true. From a plus point of view, developing standards of verification that apply to epistemological questions and to our understanding of the operations of pro coherent unbiased logic should be fundamental in the business of philosophers.

Because affirmative logic, as a subject, is neglected in the academic world, often requirements of sound rational thinking are suppressed on the grounds that they are not scientific. Those who do the suppressing considered the requirements of sound rational thinking to be unscientific because such requirements cannot be physically measured or pictorially imagined, or because they are considered to be value judgments.

From a plus point of view, negative ideologists are wrong. It is a plus tenet that: rejecting the values of affirmative logic is a serious mistake. Instead of discarding the values of sound rational thinking, the requirements of sound rational thinking should be recognized as the very heart and soul of the scientific method.

We cannot measure the requirements of sound reasoning in the same way as we measure the gram molecular weight of lead, but, at the same time, the basic requirements of affirmative logic are verifiable as credible root claims derived from elemental experiences. We know they are so because we experience them as so and we can verify them using our own logical insight and sound rational thinking. We recognize the experience, represent the thought in words, and judge that it is a valid portrayal of our empirical experience. Our ability to grasp that we can distinguish complete from incomplete sentences is one example.

Credible root claims are repeatable. Making complete sentences is not a once-in-a-lifetime happening. We have many ways of verifying that vast numbers of people share the same elemental experiences. This is true in many cases.

From experience with the basic requirements of sound rational thinking, we learn that we can deliberately our rational abilities. When rational skills are sufficiently developed, we humans reach the place where scientists can measure the gram molecular weight of lead. Development of affirmative logic came before the explosive growth of physical science. This was not an accident, but a necessary step before science could mature.

Strange to say, although many scientists are adept at using the scientific method, it is difficult to find a clearly spoken, accurate defense of the scientific method.

In spite of the accomplishments of scientific thinking, in many instances, it is now the style in some academic circles to reject the requirements of sound rational thinking that are inherent in the scientific method. This is particularly true in the psychological, moral, social, and political arena. It thus happens that seemingly insignificant elemental errors, such as the examples above by Weber, and Russell, and Marcuse, come together and grow into a view that moves us away from appreciation of the scientific method and, at the same time, injures societies ability to carry on fair rational discourse.

The problem is subtle. It consists of a vast number of seemingly insignificant lapses that alone really are insignificant. It’s the way they add up that creates serious difficulties.