forum 2: week of 16 Jan - Lewis
- What do you make of the rule of attention? That's what really gives his contextualism. Is it well motivated, or just pulled out of a hat?
I think what Lewis says about the rule of attention is well motivated and not just pulled out of a hat. He says at the end of p. 599 "To investigate ignoring of [possibilities is in fact] not to ignore them...Knowledge is elusive. Examine it, and straight away it vanishes". This is very well said and we see this whenever we try to define what knowledge truly is. Is it justified true belief? well no that was clearly proven insufficient by the Gettier problems. Is there one word or a sentence tat can describe what knowledge is? Is there a definition? It seems practically impossible to define knowledge and the closer we look at it the more certain we become that we have no knowledge in the first place. In the beginning he started to talk about all the things that we do know. And it seemed as though humans in general have a vast array of knowledge of all kinds of things but as we tried to examine these things more closely we became uncertain of them all and it seems that all we can truly know as Descartes says is that we ourselves exist. Nothing else is certain and can be proven without a doubt. So in order to surpass this problem of skepticism of now knowing anything we can apply Lewis rule of attention and choose to ignore possibilities which are that are most likely not true (the evil demons deceiving us). And by doing so we can at least come up with some sort of explanation of what knowledge is.
Lewis's rules do not seem to capture a very solid reasoning behind contextualism. Yes, his modality and Rule of Actuality seem plausible, with uneliminated possibilities highlighting the importance of the spatial and temporal features of experience. The Rule of Belief neglects to state a sufficiently high possibilities to be properly ignored, beyond actuality. The Rule of Attention I find difficult to understand, attending to context-dependence of making an additional comment to another that was previously said. This seems to break any sense of closure, based on its context in the conversation. Where does is the line drawn between what are purely thoughts and what is said in the Rule of Attention? At this point is it properly ignoring a possibility if it is not said? Bound by these conversational suggestions, it appears to not account for mistakes, impulsivity or useless statements in such that they are of equal relevance now to the conversation. (But, perhaps, this is exactly what Lewis was trying to argue with his nearest possible worlds, in that they are in fact a possibility.)