Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Families, logic, and psychology

I've begun expanding the families section. In my view, this is quite possibly the least-well known and most underestimated of the various institutions of society.

This does not depend too heavily on natural science. There are family-like organizations in the animal kingdom, but animals and animal behavior, while they may serve for comparative purposes and illuminate certain aspects of human behavior, they are not good models for the human family.
Rather, human families are based on the peculiarites of the human body and human psychology and development. All people originate in families of some kind, but some have more prominent connections to their families than others.
The study of families depends heavily on social foundations, on demography, on human ecology (as in, how to feed the children), on physical anthropology, and human geography, as well as connections with groups of all types.
The structure of the family depends on cultural elements such as language and literature, customs such as where members live and how they work, and on posessions
At least tentatively, I have divided the subject into marriage; children and parenting, kinship, and particular familes.
Families are influenced by and in turn influence education and educational institutions, economics, government, and religion.
In many ways, they are the most numerous but least visible components of social structure, social types, and change, and of particular communities. There is some variation among the peoples of the world, but for the most part, I am focusing on the family in Western civilization.
The history of families will require considerably more time and space than I have here, and families have changed since early times. The prehistorical roots of families are poorly known or understood. They did occupy a much more important role in most ancient peoples than we have much experience with. Other institutions became more prominent in classical and medieval times. In the modern period, particularly in the last two centuries, there is evidence that the family structure of society has been greatly weakened. Certainly, there is less attention given to it by modern scholars than there has been to government and ecnomics.

A reader recently proposed a logical dual, which I interpreted as a request for a duel (There is such a thing as a dual in logic, and it has no discernable resemblance to a duel). Unfortunately, we reached no agreement on the rules to govern it. I proposed that we must agree on certain axioms and rules to determine which logical arguments before anything could be proven, the reader proposed that nothing can be proven at all. I suggested that observations of fact cannot be proven, and indeed, the things that can be proven are comparatively unimportant, so that's almost correct. I also said that things can be proven in mathematics that are much more difficult in philosophy, for several reasons, such as the greater number of axiomatic-type statements, the presence of uncertain statements that classical logic can't handle, imprecision of the language, the comparative weakness of methods of philosophical proof, and so on. So far, there has been no reply. I would have enjoyed a good logical duel.
But this prompted me to take a look for the first time in a while at the logic blogs I have linked, and I found a comment on Lumpy Pea Coat that's quite relevant to my interests. I have managed to work out the fundamentals of the 4-valued logic the person who inspired the comment on "Modal and Many Valued Logic" wants to do, but I haven't developed it beyond the basics. What he wants to do can be done, but having hacked a trail through that underbrush and done battle with the logical beasties that infest it, I can testify that it's likely to be a _lot_ easier to follow my lead than to make it work himself. It has to be based on concepts from the 3-valued version I discussed back in May which no one is yet paying any attention to. The logicians are correct, up to a point: It's not possible to do 4-valued logic in a way that's compatible with the non-classical systems they are accustomed to.

There have also been a few comments on my Sapience Knowledge Base, which will be worth mentioning here, but not today.

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