FOM: responses to Franzen: feasibility; g.i.i.

Stephen G Simpson simpson at
Tue Mar 24 12:35:37 EST 1998

First, a comment on Franzen's posting of 24 Mar 1998 17:02:33.  Like
the rest of Franzen's postings, this one contributes nothing to the
advancement of f.o.m.  Franzen poses as scrupulously careful, but he
frequently lapses into sloppy generalizations such as

 > as soon as one introduces the notion of feasibility, indeterminacy
 > inevitably appears.

"Inevitably"?  Is there anything to back this up?  Is Franzen even
slightly familiar with the literature in this area, which contain
precise formal analyses of feasibility?

Now I turn to Franzen's posting of 18 Mar 1998 12:45:15.  Since
Franzen has misrepresented my comments on g.i.i., I feel a need to
respond.  Addressing me, Franzen writes:

 > "Directing public relations campaigns at ignorant louts" may of
 > course be an apt expression of your personal feelings about the
 > prospect of taking the intellectual concerns of people not in
 > f.o.m. into account.

I never said anything like this, nor does this express any feelings of
mine.  Franzen is misquoting and extrapolating from a statement that I
made in my posting of 17 Mar 1998 13:13:02, concerning the general
intellectual interest of f.o.m.  I'm not sure whether Franzen is
deliberately trying to misprepresent my views on this subject.  If he
is, then the misrepresentation is not very sophisticated.

In any case, despite Franzen's distortions, my posting of 17 Mar 1998
13:13:02 stands on its own.  In particular, I would like to call
attention to the "philosophical exercises" posed there and again in 19
Mar 1998 09:00:18, which contain much food for thought vis a vis

 > the foundations of materials science, which are not usually held to
 > be of "general intellectual interest", and I doubt that you would
 > put f.o.m.s. on a par with f.o.m. in this regard. 

This is a silly comparison, since there is no subject such as
"foundations of materials science" which has reached anywhere near the
level of precision and sophistication of present-day f.o.m.  However,
I would venture to predict that if such a subject were to come into
being in the future, then at that time it would be of general
intellectual interest, for essentially the same reasons that f.o.m. is
of general intellectual interest now.

 > I think that what your comments most strongly suggest is that we
 > shouldn't take this talk about "general intellectual interest" too
 > seriously.

On the contrary, my comments suggest the opposite.  One could
summarize my comments by saying that general intellectual interest is
a very serious matter and a touchstone for f.o.m. and foundational
studies generally.  It's interesting that Franzen didn't grasp this.

 > To enter into any serious consideration of "general intellectual
 > interest" we would have to consider such questions as why
 > e.g. Wittgenstein is regarded by people in the most varying fields
 > as being very interesting,

Why?  How is Wittgenstein relevant?  Is Franzen saying that we have to
take any and every trend or fad into account?  Obviously I disagree.
The g.i.i. standard has nothing to do with fads such as Wittgenstein.

 > I'm not claiming to have anything illuminating or well thought out
 > to say on the subject at this point.


-- Steve

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