It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem too absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.

Ann Frank

Qualification Gaps

In the process of forming propositions we employ many unspoken assumptions. These unspoken assumptions often involve tiny to large gaps between our first ideas and our mature evaluations. Although we rarely discuss these gaps and usually handle them intuitionally, in critical theory they are important. Failure to account for these gaps can bring about serious root errors that interfere with the promotion of sound rational thinking and the development of civil discourse.

The gaps in question are numerous. There are gaps between what we know and Truth in its full extension (this is a large gap). There are gaps between our ideals and our ability to realize them. There are gaps between what we say and what we really mean. When we start looking, we can keep finding more and more gaps. Gaps are the subject of this chapter.

Propositions

In examining assumptions underlying the making of propositions, two qualifications stand out for first consideration. We will refer to these as Q1 (qualification 1) and Q2 (qualification 2). The two together are the QQ Factor. In addition there are many other qualifiers we can call Qx. Later, when expanding discussion about Qx, it is simple to continue with the number series; Q3, Q4, Q5, etc. "Q" stands for "Qualification".

All qualifications are important in their own way, but Q1 & Q2 are especially crucial, particularly when it comes to developing a viable definition of truth. Q1 & Q2 almost always operate together as a double qualifier as we think, talk, write, and develop our knowledge.

QQ Factor

When we think or say or write a statement with a truth-value, we implicitly attach a double qualifier.

Q1 -- It is my opinion that

Q2 -- this proposition is true.

These qualifications accompany every proposition we allege—unless we are lying. However, when we think, we don’t say these qualifications to ourselves; when we speak, we don’t mention them; and, when we write, we don’t include them in our paragraphs.

Only rarely do people deliberately study the effect of the QQ factors. Some epistemologists deal with this problem and publish articles in journals rarely read, but in the theory that dominates our present rational style (2000), the QQ factor is more often than not overlooked.

Much ignoring of the QQ factor is a matter of convenience. We know intuitively that, if we specifically stated this double qualification with every proposition we used, our speaking and writing would be boring and cumbersome.

I will rewrite one above proposition.

It is my opinion that:/ it is true that:/ if we specifically stated this double qualification with every proposition; thinking, speaking, and writing would be boring and cumbersome.

When you read the above statement the first time, you knew I was writing my opinion. You also knew that I thought it was true. I did not have to tell you this. The assumption is there and yet it is unspoken.

These two unspoken assumptions accompany our normal thinking, speaking, and writing as a matter of course. People using commonsense know this, but they don’t necessarily critically know that they know it.

In cultivated civil discourse, we acknowledge the QQ Factor in each other without mentioning the issue. Perhaps this is one of the differences between the primitive and civilized mentality. Primitive people have not had enough experience with different points of view to realize that their opinions are only opinions. Also primitive people have not had enough contact with philosophy to appreciate that when people state opinions, they make affirmations or denials.

Occasional we encounter a person who seems unaware of these unspoken assumptions. Such people can be difficult. They behave as if they believed there was no distinction between their interpretation of reality and actual reality. As a result, their communication rings with annoying dogmatic pronouncements. Their mistake is difficult to pin point because it is in the realm of the assumed, the unnamed, and the unspoken. This is a primitive form of absolutism. It is a thought conceit.

More than one philosopher who has made qualifications similar to the ones above. Usually writers mention only one qualification such as: "I believe:/ p is q" or "It is true:/ p is q". However, stating that some thing is my opinion and stating that I believe this is true are two steps. We benefit by recognizing the double qualification process rather than treating it as a single step.

Qualification 1: Opinion

An opinion is a judgment about a judgment. Understanding a judgment is a distinct and separate step from affirming an opinion about the self same judgment. Just because I understand what you said does not mean that I agree with you and vise versa. People with cultivated commonsense know this. My understanding of what you say and my opinion of what you say are two distinct processes. We take this qualification for granted. It is so obvious that we rarely mention it.

Qualification 2: Affirmation

When making a statement that qualifies as a proposition, the unsaid implication is that the speaker or writer believes the statement is true. As an example let’s consider the following remarks by Harry H. Clark.

Jack London (1876-1916) was obsessed with brutal violence in almost every respect.[wb2p394]

What Clark really means is: In my opinion:/ it is true that:/ "Jack London was obsessed with violence in every respect." We can assume that Clark believed, at the time he wrote it, that this judgment about Jack London is true. To say that Jack London was obsessed with violence is strong language. Since this remark is prepared for an encyclopedia, we can assume that Clark has studied London’s life and was familiar with London’s writings and his opinion carries weight.

When thinking speculatively or hypothetically, a speaker or writer usually does something to indicate he is withholding affirmation and is presenting the proposition for consideration. In speaking, we can often tell whether a person is speculating or affirming by tone of voice or facial expression or posture. Otherwise, in normal speaking and writing, we assume people affirm the statements they make, especially in writing. This is one reason writing often differs from conversation.

Q-x: other qualifications

When we affirm a proposition, we not only imply the QQ factor, but we also affirm implicitly that the statement involved is indeed a proposition. We say in effect, in my opinion it is true that statement ‘q’ is a proposition and in my opinion it is true that the proposition symbolized by statement ‘q’ is true."

It is not necessary to understand propositional philosophy in order to make propositions. Making propositions is a normal, everyday human activity. Very few people have studied propositions enough to understand the intricacy of the process, but that does not interfere with their proposition producing capacity. Just as people breath without understanding the chemistry of oxygen and carbon dioxide, so too, they make propositions without understanding the ins and outs of propositional logic.

If we continue looking, we can discover many qualifications implicit in normal, civil discourse. Pursuit of these endless strings of implications takes us deeper and deeper into the chambers of advanced elemental theory.

Accuracy Gap

When probing for gaps, we can keep finding them. For example, in formulating our thoughts into sentences that we speak and write, there is often a gap between what we mean (intension) and what we actually say (articulation). There is another gap between what we say and the interpretation others glean from our remarks. The gaps between/among intension, articulation, and interpretation can sometimes be insignificant, sometimes major, and often degrees in between.

Learning to juggle qualification gaps in order to avoid misunderstanding calls for cultivated rational skill. Becoming a good conversationalists requires the ability to listen to what others truly mean, to help people say what they have on their mind, and to avoid pitfalls that distort other peoples intensions. A good listener makes an effort to hear what the other person is trying to say rather than taking every word literally. Much humor arises by making plays on gaps between intension, articulation, and interpretation.

Q. Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?

A. All my autopsies have been performed on dead people. [Humor in the Court 1977]

It is not easy to say exactly what we mean. Often our thoughts are in a hazy state and when we put them in words we are somewhat surprised at how they sound. Education helps us develop the skills we need to say what we wish to say without being misinterpreted. The better our education, the better we become at expressing what is on our mind. Hay Man! You know what I mean.

It’s frustrating when people misinterpret what we say. It’s even worse when we can’t find the right words to clear up a misunderstanding. A significant part of our education involves learning to adequately say what we mean and to accurately interpret what other are saying and how to fix misunderstandings when they occur. The science of logic is where we learn these skills.

It’s part of honesty and integrity to mean what we say. Learning to close gaps between intension, articulation, and interpretation in and honest and fair manner is important in developing understanding and carrying on civil discourse.

Proposition Raft

When we discuss the truth of a proposition, because of numerous qualification factors, our actual transaction includes a raft of propositions, each one with it’s own truth value. Older logics handled this problem by talking about levels of intension and levels of extension and implications and so on. Many old logicians did good work in explaining these distinctions, but their ideas never reached mainstream and, consequently, are now forgotten.

Scholastics attempted to clarify hidden epistemological qualifications but often became stuck in a proliferation of fine distinctions. Even so, some scholastics added much to the world of semantics and linguistics. It is sad that scholastic logicians don’t receive more credit for the good they did. Their positive contributions were extensive even though their mistakes are bothersome and vapid. For historians to fail to acknowledge the invaluable advances scholastics made is unjust and distorts history.

Ideals

Our ideals are rafted with gaps. There is a gap between our ideals and our ability to express our ideals. There is another gap between our ideals and our power to understand the ramifications of the ideals we profess. There is even another gap between our ability to contemplate our ideals and our ability to realize them. There are gaps between personal ideals, cultural ideals, and intellectually impartial ideals.

Because we humans are limited in understanding and in reasoning, there is always a gap raft between our ideals and our ability to understand them, to articulate them, and to realize them. People in their commonsense mode of thinking are aware that there are gaps between where they are and where they wish to be. Those who teach the science of affirmative logic know that fully developed coherent absolutely accurate reason is a high ideal that no human follows to perfection. A basic tenet of plus root theory is that: people pursuing sound rational thinking should acknowledge and appreciate the distinction between the high ideal pursued and the reality actuality lived. Improvement is the progress we make as we close the gap.

Hypocrisy

Because of the gap between actuality and ideal, defenders of right reason and advocates of civil discourse are always involved in a certain amount of inconsistency and can be accused of hypocrisy by radical antagonists.

When a person holds worthwhile ideals, there is always a gap between the person’s ideals and his or her actual performance. When the gap becomes wide enough, at a certain point we are justified in saying that the person is a hypocrite but it is very difficult to decide when that point is reached. Labeling someone as a hypocrite places a blot on their character and should not be done with out adequate justification.

Advocates of affirmative logic handle this problem in several steps. One step is to acknowledge the problem and grant others the benefit of the doubt. That is to say, those who favor the values of civil discourse assume that others (unless proven to the contrary), are also inclined to favor the same values. Those who favor the values of civil discourse believe that the opinions of others are worth hearing, and, unless given reason to doubt, work under the assumption that the mistakes of others are honest mistakes. In civil discourse, people are presumed innocent of deception until proven guilty.

Another step promoted in affirmative logic is an attitude that projects an amiable invitation to honest criticism. Because affirmative reasoners know they are far from perfect, they appreciate corrections that improve their understanding, expand their knowledge, and sharpen their wits.

Another step affirmative promotion is willingness to give a little slack to keep a conversation going. While still trying to keep their discourse within the realm of civility, affirmative thinkers often let a few cruel remarks slide by in the interest of the over all discussion. Those who promote affirmative dialogue work hard to stay open minded when confronted with the barbs of absolutists and subjectivists.

However, this open minded attitude can be abused if those supporting the values of commonsense unbiased logic allow themselves to become too lax. When this happens, an originally affirmative theorist can slip into serious hypocrisy. In slipping down, status fades. Affirmative thinkers are always faced with temptation to slip. This is one of the reasons why the human drama is continuously dramatic.

Being able to hold firm to high rational standards when under assault is difficult. Every person is the protagonist in play that is tragic or comic, depending on your way of looking at it.

Radical revolutionary ideologists often make an issue of the gap between real and ideal. Sometimes they use this as their reason to reject affirmative values with scorn. Since there is always a gap between the concrete and the ideal, militant radicals can easily find weak spots in expressions of affirmative thinkers.

Since those who support affirmative logic always fall short of their high ideals, all affirmative prone people can be accused of hypocrisy. No one is perfect. Every armor has a crack. Every Achilles has a heel.

One way to avoid hypocrisy is to discard all high ideals and give up the notions of impartial truth, right reason, and fair play. Radical invert ideologists do just that. In extreme radical determinism there is no gap between concrete and ideal because they profess no ideals.

Extreme radicals are not hypocrites. Hitler, for example, was not a hypocrite, whereas, to some extent, Fulton Sheen was. Stalin was not a hypocrite, but, in a sense, Eisenhower was. Hitler set to do exactly what he said was going to do. He said he was going to tell big lies and he did tell big lies. He said he was going to eliminate the Jews and he made a notorious start on the job. The same is true of Stalin. He said he understood the "Dialectic" and he knew how and when to be ruthless. There was virtually no gap between what Stalin profess theoretically and what he did, whereas, Eisenhower often fell short of his own high ideals.

Radical antagonistic invert determinists profess no high ideals. They make remarks such as:

… our objective is not to understand reality but to change it.

This is a formula for autocratic ruthless language manipulation and totalitarian dialectics. There is a difference of kind between those who have high ideals and those who have no ideals.

From a plus point of view, discarding high ideals can be exceedingly dangerous. When people succeed in eradicating their high ideals, their conscience goes away too. It is a basic tenet of plus root theory that: well formed high ideals are of great worth and are to be cherished.

People committed to affirmative ways are, in virtue of their beliefs, committed to reducing hypocrisy as much as possible. However, affirmative thinkers know that they, and others, fall short of perfection. We handle this problem by granting others the benefit of the doubt and developing a sense of humor. Radical antagonistic invert determinists, who suppress high ideals, do not give others the benefit of the doubt and do not have a genuine sense of humor. They may laugh, but their laughter is cruel, not funny.

A cruel joke is not genuinely funny. Those who laugh at cruel jokes are expressing the totalitarian side of their personality. The laugh of the irresponsible is a form of cruelty.

Ideals and Perfection

Often people who profess high ideals are ridiculed as perfectionists. This distorts the situation. What the critic points to as bad is the overly scrupulous behavior of individuals caught in the grips of absolutism. People who are scrupulous are far from perfect. They defeat their own ends by being painfully punctilious and foolishly over cautious.

People with cultivated commonsense know intuitively about the gaps we have been discussing and pursue their ideals with a genuine sense of humor. When people who are skilled in following the guidelines of sound rational thinking engage in a discussion, they will bask in good humor and regularly break into laughter. When a group of people become adept in using the guidelines of affirmative logic, they have fun together.

Even when rational skill does not reach the level of genuine friendliness, people can still stay in the realm of civil discourse and make constructive progress in resolving a conflict. To succeed in civil discourse, we only need reach an adequate level of logical competence. We do not have to be perfect. However, we must be good enough for the occasions. Obviously, some occasion require more rational skill then others.

USA Founders were, to an impressive degree, committed to impartial truth and unbiased reason as ideals. They were far from perfect and knew they were far from perfect. However, they firmly adopted and pursued worthwhile ideals. They reached a degree of competence in rational intercourse adequate for their condition and succeeded in founding a nation built on free and fair civil discourse. They placed checks and balances at crucial junctures to discourage speech from going too far awry. Most also shared a sense of humor.

Three Types of Ideals

In speaking of ideals, it’s important to emphasize that the term ideal has different levels of meaning. Personal ideals are humanly generated goals we set for ourselves in our own mind. Cultural ideals are in the style of the day because they are ideals shared by a group of people. High ideals are worthwhile intellectual values that exist independent of our knowledge of them. One way to measure the worth of a philosophical system is to test how well it helps us understand and express the distinctions between these different types of ideals.

Personal ideals have a private quality. Our personal ideals are what we entertain in our mind that we would like to achieve or have happen. They are goals set by individual people. Some of our personal ideals are unfocused, almost dreamlike. Other personal ideals we deliberately set and work to achieve. Some personal ideals have more universal quality than others. Some of our personal ideals are modeled on high ideals we learn from our religion and our heroes, if we know how to pick a religion with high ideals and choose heroes who exemplify high ideals.

We also have cultural ideals that are cultivated in groups of people who grow up sharing a common situation and educational thrust. 'Cultural ideals' is a term that refers to those ideals a large majority of people in a group share in common. The larger the number of people who share an ideal, the more powerful the ideal will be in affecting society. Rational style [Chapter Three] discusses elemental ideals dominant in a group at a given time.

Personal ideals and cultural ideals are humanly generated. However, high ideals exists independent of our human knowledge. High ideals are intellectual and impartial.

High ideals are not made of the same stuff as Old Faithful, which some day will stop its dramatic eruptions. But high ideals remain. Even though one beautiful thing is gone, the ideal of beauty remains.

When a person looks at Old Faithful at the height of its glory, he can admire the event with his eyes. When he leaves, he can imagine it. The image is more of a memory trace than a picture. When he gets his pictures developed he can look at a photo he took. Old Faithful is beautiful, but it is not "beauty".

Beauty is an ideal. Many people enjoy a refined ideal of beauty who have never seen Old Faithful, which is only one instance of beauty. Our ideal of "beauty" we hold in our mind, has a judgmental quality that we know intutionally. We may not be able to express the judgments involved in critical propositions, but nonetheless our ideal of beauty rest on a judgment or collection of judgments that support one another. This is true of all ideals.

Those with philosophical genius are able to articulate to some extent these deep ideal intuitions. When done well, philosophy is pure delight.

Authentic logic is something more universal than a personal or cultural ideal. Authentic logic is an intellectually impartial ideal independent of our knowledge of it. Because it is an intellectual impartial ideal, it belongs universally to everyone. Impartial truth is an intellectually impartial ideal independent of our knowledge that is there for all.

Natural law, as generally conceived, is an intellectual high ideal independent of our knowledge of it. Justice, prudence, courage, temperance (the cardinal virtues) are intellectual high ideals. Faith, hope, and charity (theological virtues) are intellectual high ideals. There are many intellectual high ideals that possess a reality independent of our knowledge of them.

People can posses the virtue of integrity who have never heard of the word integrity. Many very honest people acquire their honesty in their own committed way without deliberately setting out to be honest or following some carefully designed plan. As already mentioned, some of the most honest people would be surprised to learn how unusually honest they are. On the other hand, some people who make a big noise about their honestly are full of malarkey.

High and Low Ideals

Not all personal and cultural ideals are acceptable from a plus point of view. We humans easily set models and heroes before us that are counter productive to our long term well being. Sacrificing for ideals can produce dreadful results when the ideals are personally and culturally warped and miss formed. There are times when those who have no ideals are less dangerous than those with malevolent ideals. But that is another subject for another chapter.

Knowledge and Truth

When we ponder the significance of quality gaps, we are in a position to appreciate the inherent gap that exists between human knowledge and impartial truth. It is a plus tenet that: we can be virtually certain that the gap between human knowledge and impartial truth is inherent to our human condition.

We humans have the ability to learn a vast amount. Our acquired knowledge is wonderful and useful. However there are inherent limits in our nature that make it impossible for us to ever claim absolute certainty in the full meaning of the term absolute. Only God can be absolutely certain. God’s knowledge and impartial truth are equivalent. God’s nature and human nature are different in kind.

The qualification gaps signify a whole class of assumptions we use as we think and communicate. What is presented here is only a sketch of the extent of the qualifications we make as we think and speak. It is not a new idea. It is an understanding that most of us hold in our mind without putting it in so many words. We know in commonsense thinking that we are limited and that there is an inherent gap between what we know and truth as it is.

Absolutism and Subjectivism

When people use their cultivated commonsense, they intuitively allow for the various gaps as discussed above. In Absolutism, people circumvent commonsense and behave as if the gaps were not there. In Subjectivism, people ignore commonsense and use the gaps as an excuse to suppress the value of impartial truth and affirmative logic.

The subjectivist is often super-sophisticated and erudite, but underneath engages in inverse ideology with a commitment that is as totalitarian as the absolutists. For example, Michel Foucault (1926-1984), an influential French thinker, whose writings developed out of a Nietzscheian and Marxists framework, developed his own brand of subjectivism. He denied objective truth and treated knowledge as nothing but a cultural construct of language. He called for a new approach to writing history that abolished emphasis on time and he aimed to erase the traditional distinction between fact and fiction. He insisted that the new historian must have free reign to write reinvented history for political purposes. He said in Nietzsche, Genealogy and History

‘Effective history’ differs from traditional history in being without constraints. Nothing in man—not even his body—is sufficiently stable to serve as the basis for self-recognition or for understanding other men. The traditional devices for constructing a comprehensive view of history and retracing the past as a patient and continuous development must be systematically dismantled.

Michel Foucault

Notice in this quote how quickly Foucault goes from his declaration that: "there are no independent reliable standards" to an absolute totalitarian conclusion: He says: "traditional devices … must be systematically dismantled". He goes from his radical subjectivism to an absolute must. He doesn’t simply advise his readers to dismantle traditional devises. He said they must be systematically dismantled. He invited his readers to become vanguards in promoting a new way of doing history. He gives his followers the task of dismantling historical canons of the past. He encouraged historians to expunge objective truth, to erase commitment to discrete facts, and to flaunt common sense. His agenda is to encourage fictional history aimed for political effect. In 1964, Foucault’s reputation was so high that he was elevated to the first chair as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Clermon-Ferrand in France. As he published more and more books, his reputation grew in universities throughout the world, esp. in England and U.S.A. He was influential in advocating disgust for Western Civilization and encouraging antipathy for the 18th Century Enlightenment that is so common today. He takes subjectivism to its logical conclusion. He attempts to resolve the gaps between ideal and real by pretending to eliminating ideals. He says he is new but he is not new.

One way subjectivism gains power is by mis-interpreting qualification gaps. Absolutism gains power as a reaction to subjectivism. Subjectivism gains power as a reaction to absolutism. Both, in their extremes, ignore the basic values of impartial truth, unbiased logic, and sound rational thinking. They fail to understand the difference between our ideals and our abilities to realized our ideals. By default they promote dialectical attitudes that allowed people such as Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot to gain power.

Conclusion

Explicitly stating qualification gaps becomes important when we delve into elemental theory and related philosophical matters. Acknowledging qualification gaps helps clarify issues when we take on the task of correcting root errors that hinder our abilities to progress in peace. When we recognize the qualification gaps, rather than suppressing the importance of impartial truth, it shines a glowing beam of light on the glory of truth. From a plus point of view, becoming intellectually skilled at understanding qualification gaps is a pre-requisite to a workable definition of truth.