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  1. Today
  2. Are you thinking along the following quote from ITOE, p. 48. Truth is the the product of the recognition (i.e. identification) of the facts of reality. Man identifies and integrates the facts of reality by means of concepts. He retains concepts in his mind by definitions. He organizes concepts into propositions.... .... Every concept stands for a number of propositions. A concepts identifying perceptual concretes stands for some implicit propositions; but on higher levels of abstractions, a concept stands for chains of paragraphs and pages of explicit propositions referring to complex factual data." Also, the role of propositions is further discussed in a way that may pertain to your post on page 183. It relates to the economy of thought due to "crow" limits. Without re-typing it in full: Prof. B: Isn't this question really about the theory of propositions, not of concepts? There are twenty-one concepts [words in a sentence] but the first five of them, say, are integrated into one clause, and the various clauses are integrated into one proposition, and that's how we hold it. AR: Yes. Prof. E: If you just strung out twenty-one words at random from the dictionary, you couldn't hold them all. AR: Yes. Prof. A: So there's something going on, when you read the sentence forward, that enables you to grasp it. Prof. E: The proposition, in effect, becomes a unit itself. AR: Yes.
  3. Yesterday
  4. Linguistics has a lot to say about language, it's not just the role of grammar. Nowadays, linguistics and psychology have a lot of synergy, and combined are about the role concepts, propositions, and other linguistic features play in making thought more efficient. Propositions are harder to study from being so varied, but plenty of studies involve interpreting sentences that possess certain features like morphisms. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0010028573900364 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/002210317790004X Those are related. This page is helpful: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_linguistics Propositions aren't often studied, but schemas and frames are other terms for related ideas for what you want.
  5. Louie, I'm thinking about the interaction between the conscious mind and the automatic functions of the subconscious. I'm thinking about the subconscious as an integrating mechanism. I was specifically thinking of how propositions help maintain focus and attention, but I didn't want responses to be restricted to only that. Psychology matters to the extent that they are using epistemologically proper methods. Cognitive psychology has a bit to say about "concept learning", i.e. gaining the knowledge of how to apply a particular concept correctly, e.g. knowing what it is to be a triangle to correctly determine whether a particular thing has a qualifying aspect. But I haven't found anything in cognitive psychology on what propositions do for problem-solving, working-memory, and so on. I've only found stuff on "personal epistemology". I didn't bother with linguistics because the cognitive role of grammar is already evident to me. (BTW I recommend Leonard Peikoff's lectures on grammar and an old book entitled Writing and Thinking by Foerster and Steadman) I'm glad about how much Objectivist writings cover. Ayn Rand remarks that a concept can be said to stand for a number of propositions. And she knows that a proposition applies a concept to something particular in a "determinate" way. Harry Binswanger devotes a chapter of How We Know to the nature of propositions.
  6. Economist Richard Ebeling, writing about the "zero-sum world of Donald Trump," notes the unprincipled nature of much of the opposition to the new President from the left: It is important to understand that many of the fears expressed by members of the Democrat Party or the political left in general about presidential usurpations of power -- real or imagined -- by Donald Trump all ring hollow. After all, they all delighted in the use of the same presidential prerogatives by Barack Obama through executive and related powers to get around a Republican controlled Congress during six of his eight years in the White House. It was Obama who said that he had a phone and a pen, and with these in hand, he would do whatever he could get away with, whether Congress or a majority of the American people were supportive or not of his vision of a hope and changed America. Suddenly, when that powerful presidential pen is in Trump's hand, the left is "shocked, shocked" that the chief executive of the United States government may not adhere to the tradition of limited and divided powers in the American political system. Their only problem with that presidential pen of executive power is that it is being held by someone they dislike and even detest, rather than someone who they fawned over and believed to be the voice and vindicator of the cause of "social justice" and a "progressive" vision for a remade America. [bold added]As if that weren't bad enough, we can say the same in reverse about many conservatives, as the below image -- which I obtainedfrom a prominent conservative blog -- demonstrates. It's as if they expect never to see another Democrat win the presidency, or that everything Donald Trump might wish to decree will necessarily be a good thing, or that the don't really appreciate the whole idea of checks and balances. Ebeling is correct to note that Trump is behaving much like his predecessor. Trump may loosen a few controls here and there, and he might represent a pause in the increased government control of the economy we have witnessed over the last few decades, but he does not differ in kind from his statist predecessor. And it would appear that many of his fans have a reckless disregard for history, even the kind that should be fresh on their memories. With "opposition" like this, it is the Democrats who can afford to be complacent. -- CAV Link to Original
  7. Not a psych major per se, but as far as my knowledge and actual pursuit of the field, I'm well aware of the field. I don't follow your question, or why psychology matters here. Rand seems to talk about psycho-epistemology as one's psychological state for thinking and one's attitude toward thinking. So a rational or healthy psycho-epistemology is one which promotes proper use of concepts, enjoyment of thought, and pursuing knowledge. A better question may be: taking as a premise that Rand is right about the role of concepts from a philosophical basis, what could a psychologist take away from this to study the details of what propositions do? Linguistics is a better angle to approach that question and some ideas in psychology. That would help to define "proposition" so we know what the content of a proposition has anyway. From my knowledge, philosophically, a proposition has concepts or proximate percepts or distal percepts as content, but it's still open what to do about noun-phrases, semantics, pragmatics, etc. From that you'd compare people employing propositions to those being told to employ only a few concepts. I suspect another way to study it is to show one group a set of propositions, another group a set of single terms, and use a test of creativity to see which group if any thinks better. I hypothesize, though, that propositions allow one to get into a "thinking and rational" state more easily by virtue of connecting your ideas to more concepts, without cognitive overload. Consider a proposition has more content than a concept within that proposition, so one might argue that propositions only hinder thinking, making one prone to biases and errors. Propositions -organize- concepts though, regardless of the linguistic rules or details. Philosophically, it is reasonable to say propositions connect concepts, but it doesn't tell us how hard it is to do, if it's pretty natural to do, or the specific impact on the brain.
  8. Today
  9. Cognitively, propositions apply concepts to particular problems. What is the psycho-epistemological function of propositions? They seem to help "document" the nature of the mental connections one needs to make and maintain. They seem to help ensure attention and manage the crow. I'm wondering what else they do. And I'm wondering what fundamental function explains the most benefits. Any psychology majors out there?
  10. Last week
  11. I'm working on this again now to focus more of my studies onto concepts, epistemology, and conceptual development science. It's part of wider stuff I want to write on volition and mental content.
  12. . Normativity of Logic – Kant v. Rand Stephen Boydstun 2009 In the perspective of Immanuel Kant, reasoning in accordance with logic can falter due to various empirical circumstances of the reasoning mind. Knowing those pitfalls and how to avoid them is what Kant would call applied logic. Principles of applied logic are partly from empirical principles. As for the principles of pure logic itself, logic apart from such applications, “it has no empirical principles” (B78 A54). The principles of logic are not principles of empirical psychology, and their ultimate authority stems from something deeper than empirical necessities of thought. Logic for Kant was Aristotelian logic. [Or so Kant thought. Stoic logic had been mixed into what he took for simply logic and credited to Aristotle.] He thought this discipline to have been set out completely by Aristotle, and he thought such finality of the discipline was due to the distinctive character of the discipline that is logic. “Logic is a science that provides nothing but a comprehensive exposition and strict proof of the formal rules of all thought” (Bxiii). The office of logic is “to abstract from all objects of cognition and their differences; hence in logic the understanding deals with nothing more than itself and its form” (Bix; B170 A131). Logic is “vestibule” of the sciences in which we acquire knowledge. Logic is presupposed in all judgments constituting knowledge (Bix). Knowledge requires the joint operation of a receptivity of the mind and a spontaneity of the mind. In our receptivity, sensible objects are given to us. In our spontaneity of conceptualization and judgment, those objects are thought (B29 A15). Sensory presentations are givens. The spontaneity of cognition is the ability to produce presentations ourselves. Kant calls understanding the faculty for bringing given sensible objects under concepts and therewith thinking those objects (B74–75 A50–51). Logic is “the science of the rules of the understanding as such” (B76 A52). These are “the absolutely necessary rules of thought without which the understanding cannot be used at all” (B76 A52). Kant distinguishes the faculty of understanding from its superintendent, the faculty of reason. The understanding can arrive at universal propositions by induction. Correct syllogistic inferences among propositions are from reason (B169 A130; B359–60 A303–4). By its formal principles, reason provides unity to the rules of understanding (B359 A302). I should mention that it is not the role of reason (or of understanding) in logic that Kant tries to curb in his Critique of Pure Reason (B=1787 A=1781). This role Kant takes as within the proper jurisdiction of reason. Kant regards logic as “a canon of understanding and of reason” (B77 A53; B170 A131). A canon is a standard or rule to be followed. How can rules of logic be rules to be followed by the understanding if they are the rules that characterize what is the form of all thought? How can the rules prescribe for X if they are descriptive of what X is? Let X be alternatively the faculty of understanding or the faculty of reason, the question arises. Kant calls such logic general logic, and this he takes as abstracting away “from all reference of cognition to its object” (B79 A55). This conception of logic is significantly different from that of Rand: Logic is an art of identification, regimented by and towards the fact of existence and the fact that existence is identity. Over a period of forty years, Kant taught logic at least thirty-two times. Syllogistic inference and non-contradiction were the rules for formal logic. Kant took these rules to concern some of the requirements for truth. They do not amount to all of the requirements for truth, “for even if a cognition accorded completely with logical form, i.e., even if it did not contradict itself, it could still contradict its object” (B84 A59). That much is correct, and Kant is correct too in saying that “whatever contradicts these rules is false” (B84 A59). Why? “Because the understanding is then in conflict with its own universal rules of thought, and hence with itself” (B84 A59). How can the normativity of logic be accounted for if its principles are taken for correct independently of any relations they might have to existence and any of the most general structure of existence? Kant needs to explain how general logical norms for our thinking can be norms without taking their standard from the world and how such norms can be rules restricting what is possibly true in the world. Might the source of norms for the construction of concepts be the source of norms for inferences when concepts are working in judgments? Can the normativity of forms of inference among judgments be tied to normativity in forms of judgments and normativity in the general forms of concepts composing those forms of judgment? What requirements must concepts meet if they are to be concepts comprehending particulars in true ways? From the side of the understanding itself, the fundamental forms concepts may take are required to be systematically interconnected to satisfy the circumstance that the understanding “is an absolute unity” (B92 A67). Considered apart from their content, concepts rest on functions. “By function I mean the unity of the act of arranging various presentations under one common presentation” (B93 A68). So far, so good, but then Kant’s account stumbles badly. Concepts are employed in the understanding to make judgments. In judgments, according to Kant, “a concept is never referred directly to an object” (B93 A68). Concepts, when not referring to other concepts, refer to sensory or otherwise given presentations (B177 A138–42). This is part of Kant’s systematic rejection of what he called intellectual intuition. That rejection is not entirely wrongheaded, but this facet of the rejection is one of Kant’s really bad errors. I say as follows: the fact that concepts relate perceptually given particulars does not mean that concepts do not refer directly to the particulars of which we have perceptual experience. It simply does not square with the phenomenology of thought to say that when we are using a concept we are not referring directly to the existents (or the possibility of them) falling under the concept. Kant will have cut himself off from an existential source of normativity in judgment through concepts, thence a possible source of normativity for inferences among judgments, unless that normativity can be gotten through his indirect reference for concepts to existents through given presentations of existents. For Kant, as for most every epistemologist, concepts are unities we contrive among diverse things according to their common characteristics (B39 A25, B377 A320). The problem for Kant is that the diverse things unified are diverse given presentations in consciousness that become objects of consciousness only at the moments of conceptualization and judgment themselves (A103–6, A113–14, A119–23, B519–25 A491–97, B141–46). (Kant’s empirical realism, in A367–77, B274–79, and B232–47 A189–202, is subordinate to his transcendental idealism; but see Abela 2002 and Westphal 2004.) The concept body can be used as a logical subject or in the predicate of a judgment. As subject in “Bodies are divisible,” body refers directly to certain given presentations of objects, but body does not refer to those objects unless in use in a judgment. In use for predicate in “Metals are bodies,” body refers to the subject concept metal, which in turn refers to certain given presentations of objects (B94 A69). “The only use that the understanding can make of . . . concepts is to judge by means of them” (B93 A68). According to Kant, we cannot begin to understand the concept body otherwise than as in judgments. Right understanding of body means only knowledge of its particular right uses as the logical subject or in the logical predicate. Kant observes that judgments, like concepts, are unities. It is the faculty of understanding that supplies those unities by its acts. The logical forms of judgment are not conformed to identity structures in the world or in given sensory presentations. Kant conceived those presentations as having their limitations set by relations of part to whole. He thought they could not also, in their state as givens, have relations of class inclusion (B39 A25, B377 A320). This is a facet of his overly sharp divide between sensibility and understanding. I have long held that relations of class inclusion are not concrete relations, unlike the relations of part-whole, containment, proximity, or perceptual similarity. That does not conflict, however, with the idea that what should be placed in which classes should be actively conformed to particular concrete relations found in the world. Kant thought that our receptivity of given sensory presentation is not cognitive and requires conceptualization in order to become experience (B74–75 A50–51). “All experience, besides containing the senses’ intuition through which something is given, does also contain a concept of an object that is given in intuition, or that appears. Accordingly, concepts of objects as such presumably underlie all experiential cognition as its a priori conditions” (B126 A93). The sensory given presentation contains particular and specific information about the object that can be thought in concepts and judgments concerning the object. But the most general and necessary forms of objects in experience is not information supplied by the sensory given presentations (sensory intuitions), but by the understanding itself for agreement with itself (B114–16, B133n). Without the general form of objects supplied by the understanding, there is no cognitive experience of an object. “Understanding is required for all experience and for its possibility. And the first thing that understanding does for these is not that of making the presentation of objects distinct, but that of making the presentation of an object possible at all” (B244 A199). Kant is concerned to show that there are general patterns of necessity found in experience that are seamless with logical necessities. He errs in supposing that that seamlessness comes about because the general forms for any possible experience of objects logically precedes any actual experience of objects. That a percipient subject must have organization capable of perception if it is to perceive is surely so. Consider, however, that a river needs channels in order to flow, yet that does not rule out the possibility (and actual truth) that the compatibility of a valley and a river was the result of the flow of water. According to Kant, we could have no experience of objects without invoking concepts bearing, independently of experience, certain of the general forms had by any object whatsoever. The unity-act of the understanding that is the conceptual act, which gives a unified content, an object, to given sensory presentations is also the very unity-act that unifies the various concepts in a judgment (B104–5 A78–79). An additional power Kant gives to the understanding is the power of immediate inference. From a single premise, certain conclusions can be rightly drawn. “The proposition All human beings are mortal already contains the propositions that human beings are mortal, that some mortals are human beings, and that nothing that is immortal is a human being” (B360 A303). In these inferences, all of the material concepts, human being and mortal, appearing in conclusions were in the premise. Such inferences can be made out to be the mediate inferences of a syllogism, but only by adding a premise that is a tautology such as Some mortals are mortal (D-W Logic 769; J Logic 115). Mediate inferences require addition of a second judgment, a second premise, in order to bring about the conclusion from a given premise. The proposition All scholars are mortal is not contained in the basic judgment All men are mortal since the concept scholar does not appear in the latter. The intermediate judgment All scholars are men must be introduced to draw the conclusion (B360 A304). The basic judgment—the major premise of the syllogism—is thought by the understanding. This is the thinking of a rule. Under condition of that rule, the minor premise of the syllogism is subsumed, by the power of judgment. Lastly, reason makes determinate cognition by the predicate of the basic rule the new judgment, which is the conclusion (B360–61 A304). “What usually happens is that the conclusion has been assigned as a judgment in order to see whether it does not issue from judgments already given, viz., judgments through which a quite different object is thought. When this is the task set for me, then I locate the assertion of this conclusion in the understanding, in order to see whether it does not occur in it under certain conditions according to a universal rule. If I then find such a condition, and if the object of the conclusion can be subsumed under the given condition, then the conclusion is inferred from the rule which holds also for other objects of cognition. We see from this that reason in making inferences seeks to reduce the great manifoldness of understanding’s cognition to the smallest number of principles (universal conditions) and thereby to bring about the highest unity of this cognition.” (B361 A304–5) The faculty of reason, in contradistinction from understanding, does not deal with given sensory presentations, but with concepts and judgments. “Just as the understanding brings the manifold of intuition under concepts and thereby brings the intuition into connection,” so does reason “bring the understanding into thoroughgoing coherence with itself” (B362 A305–6). Reason provides cognition with logical form a priori, independently of experience. The principles of the understanding may be said to be immanent “because they have as their subject only the possibility of experience” (B365 A309). The principles of reason may be said to be transcendent in regard to all empirical givens. The spontaneity of thought is unifying activity, whether in conceiving, judging, or inferring. Readers here will have probably noticed in Kant the themes of integration and economy, which are major in Rand’s analyses of cognition. However, for Kant the unifying activity of the understanding and of reason is not “an insight into anything like the ‘intelligible’ structure of the world” (Pippin 1982, 93). Kant represents understanding and reason as working together as a purposive system. I maintain, in step with Rand, that all purposive systems are living systems or artifacts of those living systems. We hold that only life is an ultimate end in itself; life is the ultimate setter of all needs. The purposive system that is the human mind is the information-and-control system having its own dynamic needs derivative to serving the needs of the human individual and species for continued existence. Life has rules set by its needs for further life. Life requires not only coherent work among its subsystems, but fitness with its environment. Rules of life pertain to both. Rules of mind pertain to both (cf. Peikoff 1991, 117-19, 147-48). Rules of logic do indeed enable coherent work of the mind, but they also yield effective comprehension of the world. Identity and unity are structure in the world, and, in their organic elaboration, they are structure of the viable organism (cf. ibid., 125–26). The normativity of logic arises from the need of the human being for life in the world as it is. References Abela, P. 2002. Kant’s Empirical Realism. Oxford. Kant, I. 1992. Lectures on Logic. J. M. Young, translator and editor. Cambridge. ——. 1996. Critique of Pure Reason. W. S. Pluhar, translator. Hackett. Peikoff, L. 1991. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Dutton. Pippin, R. B. 1982. Kant’s Theory of Form. Yale. Westphal, K. R. 2004. Kant’s Transcendental Proof of Realism. Cambridge.
  13. . Over a period of forty years (1756–96), Kant taught logic at least thirty-two times. Lecturers at the University of Konigsberg at that time were required to proceed upon a textbook recognized by the Prussian authorities. For his classes on logic, Kant used George Friedrich Meier’s Excerpt from the Doctrine of Reason (1752). The term excerpt (Auszug) here means that it treats its subject briefly, in contrast to a larger treatment. It does not mean the shorter treatment is a snippet from a larger work. Meier was a leading figure in the German Enlightenment. He had been a student of Christian Wolff and of Alexander Baumgarten. He studied John Locke in depth and helped introduce English philosophy in German lands. He straddled the rationalist and empiricist traditions. Auszug is not a text in formal logic, though it enters what we should be learning in an elementary logic text today by Meier’s bits on concepts, judgments, good definitions, proper inferences, and informal fallacies. Auszug touches on of all sorts of things that make the various types of human knowledge possible and the expression of knowledge excellent. I set down here some sections from Auszug: §§109–11 (which bear on Peikoff’s remarks on p. 185) and §§43, 98, 103 referred to in the 109–11 stretch. The translation is by Aaron Bunch (Bloomsbury 2016). §43. The ignorance of a human being is (1) an absolutely necessary and unavoidable ignorance, which he cannot avoid owing to the bounds of his power of cognition; and (2) a voluntary ignorance, whose contrary cognition he could attain if he wanted to. §98. We must not assume: (1) that a cognition is true, just because we are aware of no internal impossibility in it; (2) that it is false, just because we are aware of no internal possibility in it; (3) that a cognition is true, the groundlessness and false grounds and consequences of which we are unaware; (4) that a cognition is false, of which we cognize no correct grounds and consequences. For we human beings are not all-knowing. §103. Learned cognition can be false in a threefold way: (1) if the cognition of the things is false, although the cognition of the grounds is correct; (2) if the cognition of the grounds is false, although the cognition of the things is correct; (3) if the representation of the connection between the true grounds and consequences is incorrect . . . . Thus, a true learned cognition must be at the same time a correct cognition of the things, of the grounds, and of their connection . . . . §109. Error consists in our taking false cognition to be true, and true cognition to be false. Consequently, (1) every erroneous cognition is false . . . (2) not every false cognition is erroneous, namely if we cognize that it is false; (3) error arises from false cognition. Had we no false cognition at all, we could also have no errors. Error is worse than merely false cognition, for error is a secret poison. Learned cognition can therefore be erroneous in a threefold way §103. §110. Error arises §109 if we break the rules of the 98th paragraph. The first source or all errors is thus ignorance . . . , if it is accompanied by haste, whereby we deny that of which we have no cognition. §111. Error is either avoidable or unavoidable. The former arises from an avoidable ignorance, and the latter from an unavoidable ignorance §43. The former is nothing but a blameworthy disgrace to learned cognition, but the latter cannot and may not be avoided. It’s safe to wake up now. I should make two points concerning §110. The focus on haste in the production of error is likely simply a Cartesian hand-me-down analysis of error: human will outrunning human understanding. The focus on denials concerning things of which we have no cognition (also in §98) is mainly a bowing of the head to religious mysteries. Sealing obeisance to mysticism into theories of rational cognition was not an innovation of Immanuel Kant. Kant lectured for his logic classes, cued from Meier’s Auszug, but Kant was allowed to register and did register objections and to use points in this approved text as springboards to state his own views concerning those points and their neighborhoods. We have a few sets of class notes taken by students in Kant’s logic lectures. One set was taken in the early 1770’s, so that would be after his Inaugural Dissertation (1770) and during the period in which he was turning his thinking around to full vista of his Critical philosophy, as would be brought to press in 1781 in Critique of Pure Reason (KrV). A couple of sets of logic-lectures student notes are from around 1780, when Kant was completing KrV. Another set is from the early 1790’s. We have English translations of all these sets of class notes, issued by Cambridge in 1992. It is interesting to follow the student notes from the Kant lectures corresponding to §§109–11 across those different years of notes. (Any one of them is more interesting than Auszug itself.) One of Kant’s students was Gottlob Benjamin Jäsche. He had courses under Kant in 1791, and by end of the century, he had become a professor at Königsberg and an exponent of Kant’s philosophy. At Kant’s request, Jäsche composed a manual. It was issued in 1800, and it is titled Immanuel Kant’s Logic – A Manual for Lectures. Kant gave his lecture copy of Auszug, with all its margin notes and interleaved papers with notes that Kant had relied on at some time or other across his forty years of teaching logic. Jäsche tried to decipher the notes and include in the manual the notes he estimated to be in the later portion of Kant’s career. Kant never saw or approved the finished product. This manual remained available continuously in its original German to this day. It is given some wary weight by scholars trying to represent Kant’s views on logic. Today, Anglophone scholars know this work as The Jäsche Logic, and it is included with the other sets of student notes of Kant’s logic lectures translated into English in Immanual Kant – Lectures on Logic (Cambridge 1992). In his dissertation, Peikoff had to rely on the portion of The Jäsche Logic that had been translated by T. K. Abbott into English in 1885 under the title Kant’s Introduction to Logic. The contemporary translator for the Cambridge collection mentions that “Abbott’s translation, though not bad, is so loose and so old-fashioned in its terminology that I have not made any use of it.” Peikoff cites the Abbott translation of the Jäsche production as simply Kant, not Jäsche. That seems to have been customary in the era of Peikoff’s dissertation. William and Martha Kneale’s monumental The Development of Logic issued in 1962. They too cite the Jäsche production as Kant, not Jäsche. Incidentally, Peikoff in his dissertation does not mention anything from this book. Perhaps he had not studied it in time. Information in this text sometimes improved on points advanced by Peikoff from his older resources, and I shall mention some of these (not related to Kant) in the next thread. Writings of Kant himself would be the primary source in any representation of his view (which of course does not have any fog of translation for the German reader or scholar). I’d rate the original, German version of Jäsche’s manual as somewhere between a primary and a secondary source, and I’d rate that portion translated by Abbott (“not bad”) still between primary and secondary. It was unfortunate for Peikoff 1964 that Abbott did not include in his translation the Preface to the Jäsche Logic, that Abbott also did not include the logic-proper portion of the Jäsche Logic, and that Peikoff did not have, apparently, the placement of Kant in the history of logic lain out by Kneale and Kneale (1962). Peikoff relied also on a squarely secondary source for Kant’s picture, a source originating in English in 1860. I’ll look at that source in another post on this thread another day, hopefully soon. In my next post today in this thread, I’ll copy from an earlier study of mine, what one can say of Kant’s views on logic drawing simply from KrV. I wrote that piece years before I had gotten hold of Peikoff’s dissertation, and my contrast therein to Kant is not anyone among predecessors of Kant, but to me and to my contemporary Ayn Rand. Peikoff had KrV in hand, in English, back in his dissertation days, but he makes no mention with citation of these elements of KrV in his dissertation. What can be gleaned from KrV should be posted in this thread as part of the orienting preparation for the next thread which will tackle Peikoff’s dissertation and its offspring square on and which will engage many philosophers besides Kant.
  14. . The Status of the Law of Contradiction in Classical Logical Ontologism Leonard Peikoff – Ph.D. Dissertation (NYU 1964) Leonard Peikoff first met Ayn Rand when he was seventeen. That was in 1951. His cousin Barbara Wiedman (later Branden) had become a friend of Rand’s in the preceding year. The young friends of Rand had read and been greatly moved by her novel The Fountainhead, and they were greatly impressed with Rand and her philosophical ideas as conveyed to them in conversation with her. In 1953 Peikoff moved to New York from his native Canada (where he had completed a pre-med program) and entered New York University to study philosophy, which was his passion. He was able to read Atlas Shrugged in manuscript form prior to its publication and to converse with its author. He continued at NYU for his Ph.D. in Philosophy, which he completed in 1964. That was the year Allan Gotthelf entered graduate school in Philosophy. Ayn Rand and her distinctive ideas on metaphysics and logic, as published in 1957 in Atlas Shrugged, do not appear in Peikoff’s dissertation. Except for one modest point, his treatment of his topic is consistent with Rand’s views on metaphysics and logic, as well as with her thought on universals (ITOE 1966–67) and her broad-brush arc of the history of philosophy. His dissertation is worthy of study, certainly by me, for what have been many of the positions and arguments concerning the ontological status and epistemological origin of the Principle of Noncontradiction (PNC) in Western philosophy from Plato to mid-twentieth century. It is valuable as well for a picture of what Peikoff could bring to the discussions with Rand and her close circle, as well as to their recorded lectures and published essays (including his own “Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy” published by Rand as an immediate follow-on to her ITOE) in the ten years or so after 1957. A speculative sidebar: Beyond Rand’s philosophy, I doubt that Leonard Peikoff ever had anything to learn from Nathaniel Branden in philosophy. The flow of learning in philosophy not Objectivism was likely entirely the other way. That goes for the flow of reliable information in that domain as well between Peikoff and Rand. By the late ‘60’s, Peikoff, and Rand too, could of course learn from the studies of Gotthelf in Greek philosophy. I’ll sketch and comment on the course of the intellectual adventure that is Peikoff’s dissertation in a separate thread in Books to Mind. I’ll do that shortly. In the present thread, I want to just state his broad thesis (i–viii, 239–49), then turn (i) to the Kant resources Peikoff had available and relied upon in his story and (ii) to setting out from my own available resources, these decades later, what were Kant’s views and teachings on logic, what was always available in German, and what now in English. Under the term classical in his title, Peikoff includes not only the ancient, but the medieval and early modern. By logical ontologism, he means the view that laws of logic and other necessary truths are expressive of facts, expressive of relationships existing in Being as such. Peikoff delineates the alternative ways in which that general view of PNC has been elaborated in various classical accounts of how one can come to know PNC as a necessary truth and what the various positions on that issue imply in an affirmation that PNC is a law issuing from reality. The alternative positions within the ontology-based logical tradition stand on alternative views on how we can come to know self-evident truths and on the relation of PNC to the empirical world, which latter implicates alternative views on the status of essences and universals. Opposed to the classical logical ontologists are contemporary conventionalist approaches to logical truth. Peikoff argues that infirmities in all the varieties of classical logical ontologism open the option of conventionalism. He mentions that his own sympathies are with logical ontologism. Alas, repair of its failures lies beyond the inquiry of his dissertation.
  15. It appears that you are asking what is the relationship between epistemology on the one-hand and and psychology/neurosciences on the other - and how to demarcate between the two?
  16. Three Things 1. If only more parents and economists in the Unites States understood what many parents in the poorest parts of the world do regarding markets and education:One parent summed up the difference between these shantytown private schools and the government schools with a succinct analogy: "If you go to a market and are offered free fruit and vegetables, they will be rotten. If you want fresh fruit and vegetables, you have to pay for them."The above comes from the pamphlet, Freedom of Education I mentionedhere recently, specifically from C. Bradley Thompson's essay, "Education in a Free Society." Let me reiterate that I highly recommend this pamphlet. 2. I agree with the first commenter on this post by a popular security expert:It's been a remarkable week for cyber justice. On Thursday, a Ukrainian man who hatched a plan in 2013 to send heroin to my home and then call the cops when the drugs arrived was sentenced to 41 months in prison for unrelated cybercrime charges. Separately, a 19-year-old American who admitted to being part of a hacker group that sent a heavily-armed police force to my home in 2013 was sentenced to three years probation. Don't mess with Texas Brian Krebs. 3. Accordingto tech writer, David Pogue, thanks to the new USB-C standard and chargers like the one he reviews, the power-adapter drawer will soon be extinct. Weekend Reading "More than the conclusions themselves, I like to look for the method by which people draw conclusions." -- Michael Hurd, in "The Art of Disagreement" at The Delaware Wave "How in the world is somebody supposed to appreciate something when it's handed to them unconditionally?" -- Michael Hurd, in "Teach Your Children Money" at The Delaware Coast Press "If you can get people to own their responsibilities, then reporting to you is a cooperative venture, not a command-and-control venture." -- Scott Holleran, in "Jim Brown, new Ayn Rand Institute CEO: 'Culture and society out there can look pretty irrational. Just look at the last election'(Interview)" at The Los Angeles Times -- CAV Link to Original
  17. Hey Thinkers I hope the small handful of thinkers that remember my presence and posts about a year ago - people who seemed to appreciate my take on ideas in metaphysics and epistemology - ideas strongly influenced by Ms. Rand and Mr. Peikoff - will comment, and perhaps criticize the following ultra-basic observation that may have implications for the debate over the primacy of existence over consciousness. People like Boystan, Jankns, SoftwareNerd, Eiuol, Nicky and others (my memory of the spelling may be wrong). OR, I may have failed - this may just be a cute observation that is a play on words in the false name of concepts I have confused. This occurred to me while thinking about a more concrete issue while I was trying to fall asleep. I was thinking about the Aristotelian axioms in metaphysics as examined by Ms. Rand and Mr. Peikoff - existence, consciousness, and identity. I always struggle with whether the order should be existence, identity, and consciousness in the context of the historic underlying argument in western philosophy (often not identified explicitly by philosophers, but there none the less) between the primacy of existence vs. consciousness. If the last sentence was not familiar to you, be careful before you post in this thread because its subject is a most fundamental issue in Objectivism. Here is my most basic, Chardonnay inspired, thought. Isn't the entire study of epistemology a study of the identity (characteristics/attributes/functioning/cause and effect consequences) of consciousness - outside of that part of the identity of consciousness that is solely the realm of physics and medical neurology? I hope this last distinction keeps me from falling into the mind-body dichotomy pit, but am I falling into the common mind-body dichotomy by even asking this question? Falling for or recognizing he historical silliness of categorizing identity into levels of importance based on perception vs. reality - primary being things like extension/space and density/mass versus things only perceivable without historically current measurement like taste and color, making a false distinction in perception? If so, how does one Objectively recognize the difference between the underlying neuro-physicality (organs and their support) and the consequence of senses, perception, and reason that we recognize as human consciousness? Should epistemology be the study of that link or only its consequence in awareness and its consequence in reasoning? I feel like a freshman in asking this question, but I seem to have phrased it in a way that debate and tearing apart can help clear up some of languages shortcomings . I consider myself, in avocation at least, a Rand scholar after 38 years of off and on study. Please help me discover the obvious connections I've identified and, if necessary, point out the flaws I have noticed in these relationships of ideas. Thanks, Jack
  18. 24/7 Wall Street has run a pieceon twelve things not to do if you win the now $403 million Powerball Lottery. I recommend reading the article, not only for the fun it might bring by helping you imagine what life with these millions would be like, but also for the practical advice. Much of the advice applies to everyone, such as the following: The 1980s film Brewster's Millions may have made it seem impossible to blow $30 million in 30 days. That was then -- now that can be blown in days or hours without even being that creative. The ongoing costs of private jets, mega-yachts, private islands, mega-mansions, luxury cars, extravagant parties, private concerts, buying luxury goods or art and collectibles, and having an entourage add up quickly. These may sound great at the time, but only until you honestly factor in the ongoing costs for a lifetime of that. Any combination of those could go over $100 million, or even $500 million, again without even being that creative. [format edits, bold added]That reminds me of a time, way back in college, when a friend bought a new car and offered frugal, car-less me his old beater for free. It took me only a short time to consider what it might cost to own a car vs. my income to turn him down. Sure, the car might have solved a few problems I knew I had, but it would have created others I could easily imagine, and maybe a few I couldn't. (Insurance didn't even cross my young, inexperienced mind, right then, for example. That thought came to me in the form of added relief a few days later.) It is likewise with gobs of money out of the blue. This is a worthwhile article because it repeatedly shows these things: (1) Life is not fundamentally different for the wealthy, and (2) any situation, no matter how apparently good, requires knowledge you may need to acquire to face properly. And so it is that, for much of the advice, there is food for thought for the non-lottery winners: If you just won tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars, it seems obvious that you would want to tell everyone you know. After all, how could you not share that with friends and family? Reality check: Do not dare do this! try to keep your lottery winning quiet for as you can. Sadly, your friends or family members cannot be trusted to keep your secret a secret. Telling everyone you know before you collect your winnings can put you in danger. That is danger in more ways than just one. Everyone who has ever done anything for you now may come with their hands out asking for something. You may even become a target by rather unfriendly people. You may have heard of kidnap and ransom insurance before. [bold added]Your circumstances have just changed radically, and you will have enough to think about without having to factor in what everyone you know or even random strangers might do with this information. The huge amount of money here merely underscores the value of managing what other people know, when possible. It can thus be a useful thought exercise to see how being careful about other, less earth-shattering information can give oneself more control over his own life. If you have ever been burned by someone with loose lips, maybe you don't need this one, but the article has plenty of other good advice. Read it all for fun and profit. -- CAV Link to Original
  19. Good thought - I have her book on rights, so I'll take a look at it for relevant thoughts, and report back. Rand had some thoughts as far as vigilantism, but that's not about the conflict of how to respond to mixed governments.
  20. Might I suggest that the issues of context and hierarchy of values are coming into play possibly? Also, I do believe Tara Smith, who generally seems to be a pretty competent person in her writings, has written some potentially relevant things on the rule of law. Does anybody around here happen to have said stuff she's written on the subject? It may prove helpful here in facilitating the discussion to get some input from a clear writer who has already put a lot of thought and effort into the subject.
  21. I think we've reached a stopping point, then, for neither can I explain myself at present any better than I already have. But to this formulation, I will only say this: to whatever degree one's right to life is hindered, it is moral to act in order to remove or avoid said hindrance.
  22. I don't have another way to explain the position. I can't formulate it more clearly other than it depends on the degree your right to life is hindered. By "violation" here, I mean being forced to act in ways one doesn't desire. I desire to pay it even if it were voluntary. Because I hate the phrase "moral dictum". It's not appropriate here. Quite literally, "it depends on..." is as context-related as it gets. You disagree with a principle I use, but that doesn't make it rationalistic. Not exactly. Ok, so there's taxation as a general policy, and following that policy. I say in general, as there are some rules you could break and still follow its stated intent without flouting/ignoring the law. Flouting isn't just breaking rules, it's also disrespecting them. Perhaps it seems like a contradiction. No - it's just complicated, just as tax law is. I still desire to be a citizen and satisfied to work on tax policy via legislation in spite of any tax law unfairness. No, of course the US does not have the right to violate rights. It's legitimate as in... well, think of it as one bad action doesn't make one evil. In the long-run, thanks to the Constitution, justice is paid for small and big bad actions. I desire to be a citizen for this aspect. There are periods of greater and lesser justice, while having a general tendency over decades towards more liberty. Thus, desiring to be a citizen and valuing the Constitution, I find it appropriate to still pay. I still want large swaths of the protections afforded to me. The way I see it, the only people who should not still pay taxes are those who don't want any protections afforded to them, or people prepared to renounce their citizenship. Given other threads I've posted on, I'm all for aggressive action as protest. Tax is a different story. On the other hand, if I were Thoreau in the 1840s, I too would refuse to pay my taxes. But his protest wasn't -about- taxes, it was about slavery. It all comes down to desiring to be a citizen as far as 2017 is concerned.
  23. Perhaps I am mixing things up (if so, not intentionally); or perhaps your arguments are not completely clear, or some combination of the two. Like I say, I do not see the principles you're relying upon to determine when someone may (or may not) morally flout a law; so that much of your argument, at least, remains unclear to me. So can you help me to clarify your positions? Can you try to reduce your arguments a bit to the bedrock principles you mean to uphold? Compulsory taxation is the initiation of the use of force. Is that what you mean by "a violation"? If so, it is a violation for everyone. (People who wish to finance some government voluntarily may do so without compulsory taxation, after all.) Or are you agreeing with epistemologue that all taxation (here in the US, now in 2017) is consensual? Regardless, whatever it is we wish to "fight" or change, how we accomplish it is a matter of contextual tactics; there is no moral dictum that we must pay whatever tax is required of us (for example), for the sake of "rule of law," in the interim. And I'm growing frustrated that you continually resist addressing this point head on. So once again, for the sake of clarity and understanding, can you simply state your position on this point? Does your idea of "rule of law" mean that one must seek to obey every aspect of the tax code? And that to do otherwise is immoral? (For instance, working "under the table" would be immoral; not declaring every source of income would be immoral; and etc., because these things are illegal.) Is that your stance? Earlier I briefly raised the analogy of domestic abuse. Consider a marriage with a battered wife (or husband). Might there be discreet things or aspects about the marriage that the battered spouse likes? I expect so. But that does not excuse the battery, and it does not make submission to it moral. Even if the battered spouse decides to stay in the marriage for some reason (perhaps hoping to improve things over time; perhaps for the sake of children; perhaps for financial security; etc.), that does not mean that she cannot morally seek to escape from such beatings as might otherwise come her way. It does not mean that she cannot fight back. I like the ideas of constitutional protection, and checks and balances, and redress against (actual) crimes, and military security. I'd like to see those features in a government which does not provide them on the one hand, and on the other hand routinely violate the rights of its own citizens. Any group which claims the right to violate the rights of others has no legitimate authority. And once again, I'll invite you to weigh in on that directly, for the sake of clarity. Don't be shy. Does the U.S. Government have the right to violate the rights of others -- yes or no? And if it does not have the right to do what it does, then in what sense is it "legitimate"? People in the US today are "really abused," too. Did you see that I've raised actual cases earlier in the thread? (People in jail for drug offenses; anti-abortion laws; the further examples I could raise are practically limitless.) Whether taxation is "a primary issue" or not (again: seemingly ad hoc; again: seemingly unprincipled; but how do you determine what is "primary"?), it is part and parcel to an entire system which routinely disregards rights. A government is supposed to protect the rights of its citizens -- that is the very (and only) justification for government, as such -- but the U.S. Government violates the rights of its citizens, not just incidentally or accidentally, but in a thorough, widespread, and ongoing fashion. So whether one wishes to change the government "from the inside," a step at a time, or in one fell swoop (when such is judged feasible), or simply choose to flout immoral laws (depending on personal circumstances) -- this is, again, a tactical issue. Any of these responses could be moral, just as defending oneself against the initiation of the use of force presents several moral options. In fact, resisting immoral law is an act of self-defense. But no, a government which violates the rights of its citizens has no moral authority, and we owe it none.
  24. That was about "you are relatively free". You are mixing up my arguments. I had a post describing "wide areas of the law", and "entire rule of law", and taxation I explained as neither, as in it is really only a violation for people who really want no part of the government. That is, taxation is best fought (yes, -fought-, not justified) within the law as it is. And do you desire this to continue? Are these possibly reasons you would like to be a citizen? Totally, especially after I said that colonists were really abused after the Tea Party... The Revolution wasn't about taxation any more than the Civil War was about states' rights! Taxation was an issue as a symptom of a worse problem. Taxation, to me, is never a primary issue.
  25. A couple of news stories I encountered recently brought to my mind a common assumption about regulations, namely that we "need" them, or businesses will act haphazardly with regard to customer wants and needs. In the first story, about new (and voluntary) industry-wide guidelines for use-by dating, shows that industries can and do regulate themselves. In this case, a haphazard and confusing number of labels is being replaced by two kinds of labels to help customers stop wasting food, and thereby save money: We've long known that the expiration date on groceries is a mess of different terms that mean absolutely nothing. Now, the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association have put together a plan that simplifies the label you'll see on food. Right now, more than 10 different date labels exist on food, like sell by, best before, best by, expires on, and whatever else. The new initiate will use just two phrases: Best If Used By and Use By. [links and emphasis in original]The second story, by contrast (and despite its implicitly pro-regulation stand), provides a counterexample to the idea that, without our philosopher-kings to guide us, the market would degenerate into chaos, where we'd get nickeled-and-dimed to death: Food labeling is increasingly controlled by federal regulations. What once was a requirement that food labeling must be truthful and non-misleading now occupies thousands of pages of regulations. Adding to this, the federal government now has four new food labeling regulations pending implementation (special labeling for foods sold in vending machines, menu labeling, remodeling the Nutrition Facts Label on almost all packaged foods and changes in labeling regarding partially hydrogenated oils, or PHOs). Moreover, four more regulations are in the works, including new rules for nutrient content claims, health claims, labeling foods "natural" and mandatory GMO labeling. Even for those who believe that all of these regulations are reasonable, repeatedly requiring label changes on foods over the next few years defies rationalization. On average, it costs food companies up to $6,000 to update the label for each product or SKU (stock keeping unit). With over 800,000 food products on the U.S. market, the overall cost of a government-mandated label change may run in the billions. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has estimated that just one of the mandated label changes now scheduled for implementation may exceed $4.6 billion. When labels have to be changed repeatedly, those costs are multiplied. Of course, regulatory compliance costs are passed on to consumers in the form of higher food prices. [bold added]These examples do not and can not, by themselves, make a case that industries can agree to labeling standards, and that these will tend towards being simple and helpful. But they should cause people to ask themselves why they think an army of bureaucrats is necessary to goad businesses who presumably are accountable to their customers into making them be clear about what they are selling. -- CAV Link to Original
  26. Yes, you have given several ad hoc or "just so" justifications. Something strikes you as being "not so bad as the gulag," so that something isn't sufficient to "take to the streets" about (or flout a particular law); but taxes on tea in the late 18th century were ample justification for organized civil disobedience, leading into outright revolution. Your justifications are not principled*; they appear designed to reach the specific conclusions you have already fashioned for yourself, and to the best of my understanding cannot be extended (by anyone not named Eiuol, at least) to examples you have not already commented upon. ________________________ * Or if they are principled, you have not yet articulated the principles involved. If we were talking about governments that were characterized by the sort of politics Ayn Rand wrote about, albeit with some minor flaws (and presumably institutional systems designed to address these flaws), then it might be sensible to say that the government was, on the whole, legitimate. (Even then, there would be moral recourse to flout a law in the event of some particular gross injustice; Edmond Dantes has no moral obligation to remain in the Chateau d'If, not even to satisfy "the rule of law," no matter how good the government is otherwise.) But all current governments operate under fundamentally statist theories (and the results are about what you'd expect). They are funded almost completely by compulsory taxation, which is to say theft (and also deficit spending/inflation, which is another kind of theft). They give themselves leave to nationalize property, and to regulate business, and to conscript -- which is a wholesale and direct violation of the right to life. The laws they enforce violate liberty in any number of ways (you did not respond to it, but did you read my partial list earlier? must I reprint it?) and will continue to do so into the far future, unless something drastically changes; "liberty," as such, is paid only lip-service, and sometimes not even that. Our current President stands to do away with any number of liberties that we yet retain, and he is mostly held in check by an opposition party which wants to do away with most of the rest of our liberties. We are caught between Scylla and Charybdis, and our only salvation lies in the ineffectual cross-purpose nature of their maneuvering. If there exists in theory a government which is not quite "ideal," yet still roundly legitimate (because by and large it does the only thing that proper governments do -- protect our rights), this is not it. It isn't even close. This government violates rights as a matter of routine, in widespread and deep and growing fashion. There's plenty to like about the US system, especially in historical context. It is an improvement on much of which came before, and much of which exists elsewhere. It serves to prosecute/protect against certain (actual) crimes, such as murder and theft. It offers some necessary military protection (though there are many problems regarding the military). And there are vestiges, at least, of ideas which are consonant with liberty, such as a general respect for "freedom of speech" (even if this is not always upheld as it ought to be). I also like much of how the government is organized, in terms of checks and balances, and especially explicit constitutional protections (though both of these systems are under heavy fire, and I believe are weakening). The creation of the federal system was a masterwork of political science. Along with this praise -- all heartfelt -- can I make an observation? There was plenty to like, too, about the British system as it developed -- even up to 1776. But when superior principles were realized and articulated, by Locke, Jefferson, and others, the British system became "intolerable" in the comparison. If this were 1776, I expect (as I've said before) that you would be calling for respect for the established authority of the British monarchy in the name of the "rule of law." I would be fighting for the principles of the new republic, however, as the best governmental system yet devised (meaning: that which best promotes liberty). But today, we know even more. We know better. In light of the philosophy of Ayn Rand (among other thinkers and writing), we can better understand and articulate the principles of liberty, and compare them against the reality of present-day governments. And in the light of that comparison, we can understand that the present American system, which was an improvement upon what came before it, must yet give way -- just as we once needed to throw off the British monarchy -- to create something new, something better. Now, no "revolution" is currently possible. (And the ways of achieving such a "revolution" are multitudinous, and can involve New Buddha's "incremental change," or your "taking to the streets," or other approaches, alone or in combination. They may be bloody; they may all be completely peaceful.) There is no revolutionary spirit -- or actually, that revolutionary spirit which currently exists would take us in the wrong direction if actualized. Reason has not yet taken hold of the American psyche in the way that it must, in order to establish a better government. That's why I think that the future revolution is best served, at present, by promoting reason, critical thinking, egoism (especially through art); and then, one day, political theory. But in the meantime -- again -- a moral man owes the government nothing. He owes "the rule of law" nothing. He has no moral responsibility to obey immoral law, or to sanction or submit to those who would dispossess him or violate his rights. He does not need to recognize the (non-existent) "authority" or the (non-existent) "legitimacy" of any person or group which asserts the (equally non-existent) right to violate the rights of others. And if it serves him to flout an immoral law, any immoral law, he morally may do so.
  27. If this means stepping in front of the juggernaut, prudence dictates otherwise. As was indicated earlier, not paying taxes, or more specifically, individuals or even a small community actively seeking to secede are used as examples to put on the 10:00 news, keeping the silent machine rolling seemingly relentlessly forward.
  28. I explained justifications in several posts and used history as concrete examples... Anyway, as far as I see, this is the issue: that anything short of an ideal government is an illegitimate (i.e. their rule of law is illegitimate wholesale) government. I'd say this is absurd. To explain that point, and why in spite of some injustices I'd still support "the system" with its taxation, will you first tell me anything you like about the US system of law and government?
  29. Apparently one must either cast bones -- or consult Eiuol -- to determine when one is "justified to break the law." How about this? One is justified in breaking the law when the law is immoral. The U.S. Government declares that it has the right to violate the rights of its citizens. That's the very thing we're talking about, with respect to "unjust" law, "immoral" law, and whether to "flout" it or not. It is illegitimate because no individual and no group has the right to violate the right of its citizens. If you say that it is legitimate, in opposition, I take that to mean that you believe the U.S. Government does have the right to violate the rights of others. Because this is a case of "either/or," Eiuol. Either it has the right to do what it does, or it does not. And if it does things without having the right to do them -- well, that's the very nature of illegitimacy.
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