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  1. 2 points
    KALADIN

    There Is No "Thing-In-Itself"

    From a recent discussion: "Nietzsche also rejects the need for a world beyond the world of appearances (the thing-in-itself)..." Rand does not merely reject the "need" for noumena. She regards the very concept as invalid: "But 'things-in-themselves' as separated from consciousness and yet discussed in terms of a consciousness—is an invalid equivocation" (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Appendix Discussions). It is an equivocation on "consciousness" because in order to metaphysically sunder an object from its appearance, and posit corresponding gradations of Being (letting the "thing-in-itself" alone participate the Real), the form of conscious awareness must be taken to constitute its object - there is precisely nothing else to be aware of - and more this formatic apprehension must be taken as the "disqualifying element" (Rand's terminology) in coming to know the Real. In other words, in order to make sense of "separated from consciousness" or a principle of absolute unknowability, we have to make recourse to this appearance-object distinction which is itself a form of coming to know the object that is the apparently Real relationship between consciousness and existence ("everything is done from the human perspective" - Rand). Awareness is always awareness of something somehow, and there is an equivocation in treating awareness or identification of the Real with the Absolute - out of all relation to awareness - as something not also thereby distanced from the Real. For it treats of awareness as both capable and not of grasping something independent of what it constitutes - beyond the bounds of representation - just like how Rand sees "consciousness" (in the aforementioned quote) being used to capture a principle of separation and not. In truth, it is simply a category error to speak of "things-in-themselves" or "things-as-they-really-are" - let alone have them alone participate the Real - because the form and object of perception are incommensurable; to offer the objects of perception as "things-as-they-really-are-not" is to completely fail to grasp that there is no magically privileged perspective on anything whatsoever, and no standard of veridicality which does not grip the world with a specific identity. Attempts to evade, subvert, or negate these facts are attempts to judge or re-write the metaphysically given. ... Unfortunately, Kant does not posit the relation of his transcendental schema to the world as an accidental one, or some potentially interesting hypothesis. The principle of transcendental idealism is not merely offered as a reflection on phenomenal awareness simpliciter. Kant must be committed to the knowability of the self-in-itself as beyond mere representation if he is indeed to affect the reality of a world of representational content (which is "nothing but representations, and they cannot exist at all outside our minds.” Critique of Pure Reason, B235) whose subject is the seIf-in-itself, i.e., the noumenal mind, which he attempts to establish only indirectly by deduction or inference more generally. But inference is radically dependent upon causality, and for Kant causality is imposed. One does not and can not properly infer the simple existence and operation of those activities which are already a necessary precondition of any right to the concept, performance, and meaning of inference - this is simply another consequence of the illicit character of Kant's epistemological vehicle(s). Indeed Kant is not even allowed some unknown explanans as the cause of the unity of experience precisely because causality is not something to mediate the phenomenal and noumenal worlds. To be imposed is to be of one. To infer the so-called activities of the self-in-itself is to make use of them here, so there is no way to make sense of the notion that their cause could be something beyond representational content, beyond the mere elucidation of an explanatory schema. Knowledge is a causal relation, and the utter incoherence of Kant's transcendental psychology is a consequence of him holding the mind to be constitutive of its contents except where those contents concern the cause of constitution, so as to be offered as something beyond the mere recognition of representational content. The distinction between noumena and phenomena is not synonymous with nor as innocuous as proclaiming the metaphysical independence and priority of the object of awareness, something all realists do. For the realist, form and object are naturally commingled, and the form of awareness is the identity of that specific relationship between consciousness and its objects, the somehow of being aware of something. Think for a moment about the contrapositive of this principle and just how perverse it is to understand the means of awareness as a metaphysical bar to awareness of the Real - that in order to be aware of the Real, of things as they "really" are, you would have be aware of it nohow (I am well aware that Kant doesn't regard our knowledge of the phenomenal world as something delusory). This fashioning the domain of the Real as metaphysically outside the purview of experience and reason is fundamentally Platonic in spirit, and its ruthless philosophical opposition is the basic spirit of Aristotelian epistemology - an unrelenting acquiescence before the evidence of the senses, and a principled recognition that "consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists" (Atlas Shrugged, John Galt's Speech). To quote Marc Champagne: "Aristotle was able to make change intelligible because he shunned facile recourse to 'appearances' and made it a sort of methodological compact to always strive for concordance with the data that set his inquiries into motion. By our lights, this is the aetiologic posture all philosophers should adopt: to eschew ladder-discarding." [emphasis mine] And from Leonard Piekoff, who Champagne quotes immediately after giving the above quote: "According to Aristotle, the question to start with is not: What must reality be like in order to make it possible for us to acquire knowledge of it? But simply: What, as a matter of fact, is reality?" For Rand there are no boundaries of pure intuition. There is no such thing as anything "in-itself", no das Ding an sich Selbst betrachtet. Objectivism does not hold that we perceive things as they really are because there is no such thing as something as it "really is" or "in itself". Things as perceived by your mind - to paraphrase Galt - are not things as they really are but simply things as they are. There is no such thing as the noumenal world, or the completely unknowable Real. Knowledge is prior to ignorance and skepticism for the same reason existence is prior to consciousness; the latter in each case is itself a relational phenomenon, having meaning only in virtue of being commingled with or otherwise actualized through the former. As such, queries like "is knowledge possible?" or "can we be aware of reality as it really is?" are completely invalid. There is no vehicle for these questions that, to be a vehicle - to have weight, does not necessarily depend upon some form of knowledge and some prior apprehension of the real. There is always and everywhere substance before the void, and all voids are simply an absence of substance. Epistemology is never properly about the possibility of entangling the real, of asking when and how our "ladders" can be "discarded", but only of that entangling's norms and reproduction. Recognizing that we have consciousness or knowledge of the real is the starting point of true and efficacious cognition in general. Consciousness is a faculty of knowing reality; consciousness is conscious.
  2. 2 points
    Reidy

    Of Peripheral Randian Interest

    In Oak Park IL on Thursday the 11th, a rare chance to hear the music that inspired We the Living in the building that inspired Roark's Stoddard Temple: http://www.utrf.org/operetta-in-exile/
  3. 1 point
    StrictlyLogical

    Charles Tew

    Merlin For a more in-depth treatment of Math being about the world (nothing to do with Tew) see Robert E. Knapp’s book. https://mathematicsisabouttheworld.com/ I’m slowly making my way through it. In the first chapter I find his style awkward and repetitive (this might change in later chapters) but the substance so far, once distilled, is illuminating. I can’t wait to get to the chapter on group theory.
  4. 1 point
    2046

    Charles Tew

    This may be a broader topic than what you guys are talking about, but I think this is all predicated on that there is such a thing as "the Objectivist movement" and that it has a clear and district meaning and purpose. What even is "the Objectivist movement" and what task or problem is it solving that requires its existence? Why does it have a health and what would this be that I can even know it? Can anyone point to any example of this movement, who is in it, what has it accomplished? Does it even need one? What is the difference between a philosopher working on Rand being in a movement versus not being in one? How would this work differ as "operating with a movement" versus not? What would just any old group of people doing whatever they do look like as "operating in The Objectivist movement" as versus doing the same exact things just as regular people doing whatever they're doing? Do we need to be in "the Objectivist movement" to discuss any set of topics or talk philosophy at all? Rand 1968 "A Statement of Policy" denies both the existence or need for any organized Objectivist movement (and of course raises many more confusing questions for what she even means.) Is there even enough content in her Objectivism to be a coherent ideology for a "movement" and does it even have a criteria of membership in said movement, or a program of action, or even a coherent and realistic single end for action? It's clear to me that the answer is no it does not. I realize this is a larger topic but that leads us to the following: Implicit in all of that is that (1) Tew even is an actual philosopher, and that he's saying anything substantial or has done any important and original philosophic work one can point to. And (2) that his YouTube videos are even significant, important, or relevant to this "movement" you speak of, whether in terms of substantial content or number of views and popularity. And it's also clear the answer to 1 and 2 is both no. Rather it seems to be, the whole idea that there even is "the Objectivist movement" is widely pathological, and leads to things like everyone condemning and "sanctioning" one another qua "representative of our movement" or "hurting our cause" (whatever that is) whereas normal folk just look and go, "What? Y'all are weird." Implicit in this is the assumption that the space is zero-sum, that engagement with Rand can only be done in that space, and that everyone must give moral sanction to everyone else or "they're out."
  5. 1 point
    merjet

    Octonions

    My second try: The suspicion, harbored by many physicists and mathematicians over the decades but rarely actively pursued, is that a description of the properties exhibited by the peculiar panoply of forces and particles of reality may be so accurately depicted by eight-dimensional numbers called “octonions.”
  6. 1 point
    merjet

    Octonions

    The Peculiar Math That Could Underlie the Laws of Nature https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-octonion-math-that-could-underpin-physics-20180720/
  7. 1 point
    StrictlyLogical

    Octonions

    I’d go a little farther and modify it as The suspicion, harbored by many physicists and mathematicians over the decades but rarely actively pursued, is that an accurate description of the properties exhibited by the peculiar panoply of forces and particles of reality may be so easily derived springs logically from the properties of eight-dimensional numbers called “octonions”, that one could characterize the description as springing logically from them. ... just to clarify properties of reality do not spring from numbers, although numbers can be used to refer to reality.
  8. 1 point
    StrictlyLogical

    Octonions

    “forces and particles that comprise reality spring logically from the properties of eight-dimensional numbers” Remind anyone of the Pythagoreans? I do think discovering the abstractions which are math that we can use to help describe and predict reality, the referent of the abstraction math, are great and wonderful. But we should always keep in mind what the relationship of math, thought, and abstractions to reality actually is.
  9. 1 point
    KALADIN

    There Is No "Thing-In-Itself"

    Sure, it's from his dissertation. Link below. Champagne, Marc. (2007). Atomism, Wholism, and the Search for a Tenable Third Way. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/32049136_Atomism_Wholism_and_the_Search_for_a_Tenable_Third_Way/link/5b2e63dfaca2720785dc6302/download
  10. 1 point
    JASKN

    "Coming out"

    Imagine a world where conceiving a gay child is a parental consideration not much different than having a boy or a girl -- it's just a fact that may or may not occur, and once known, childrearing is just adjusted somewhat. Being gay would have been in the DNA (so to speak) of your upbringing, totally normal and not with extra consideration of any kind as you grew up. A sit-down talk with anyone about being gay now would be as bizarre as "coming out" as a boy (gender politics aside). But, we don't live in that world yet (though it's surprisingly near). You described the current context instead yourself - your parents were/are very uncomfortable with homosexuality, enough so to be vocal about it toward their children for years. Your parents were raised in a society more hostile toward homosexuality even than your upbringing. It's baked into their brains, and now it requires of them conscious, consistent mental processes to undo. Even as a gay person, you may have had to do some of that yourself. And that is not easy, and is a lot to ask of someone, even if it's the "just" thing for them to do. So, I would say cut your mother some slack. Having a conversation with you about being gay is probably part of her trying to become OK with the idea of gayness herself, which is a positive step in the right direction. She cares enough about you to try to undo her lifelong viewpoint toward gays, and all of the associated mental habits that went along with it.
  11. 1 point
    MisterSwig

    "Coming out"

    There is no your way or your terms anymore. That potential disappeared, I'm guessing, a decade or so ago--certainly since the time your mother started asking. Just tell her what she probably already knows, and deal with the consequences. I don't recommend bringing up your resentment of her past behavior or trying to make her feel worse than she already does. Focus on her current behavior and current beliefs. And don't accuse her of trying to control you. She spent her life trying to raise you and guide you as a kid. It's in her nature now. Besides, my guess is that she's just trying to understand you better, because she's concerned about you. Are you afraid that she'll disown you?
  12. 1 point
    MisterSwig

    Supernaturalism In Cinema

    I watch a lot of movies. Unmistakably, supernaturalism has dominated cinema for nearly two decades now. Since 2001, each year's top-grossing movie concerned main characters or worlds with supernatural powers (2008's The Dark Knight being the only exception). Wizards in the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises; Jedi knights in the new Star Wars trilogies; and teams of superheroes in the Avengers series; these characters, along with many other magical beings, have absolutely ruled theater screens. Of the top ten franchises in recent film history, eight are explicitly supernatural. Only James Bond and The Fast and the Furious represent a real world. Why is supernaturalism growing so rapidly in popularity? In the '80s and '90s, the top-grossing movies each year were usually set in realistic (Top Gun, Fatal Attraction, Rain Man, Titanic) or scientifically advanced future worlds (Back to the Future, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park). Only a few (Star Wars, Ghost, Aladdin) had strong supernatural elements. But the switch to supernaturalism came rather abruptly in 2001, and hasn't abated yet. Could this have something to do with 9/11? Was there a national re-orientation away from the real world after those planes brought down the Twin Towers? Or was Hollywood simply headed in this cinematic direction due to other factors?
  13. 1 point
    I also finished the book, as well as Nathaniel's book, this past weekend. I was surprised how cultish their circle was. There were a few parts where I had to laugh out loud as it seemed ridiculous, from Ayn writing papers on other's psychology to the account given that she was "clapping" in amusement and laughing when Nathaniel used eloquent phrasing when providing his perspective on others' "psycho-epistemology" (essentially clapping at others' misery). Nathaniel's book seemed pretty self serving and arrogant, but also reflective and interesting at times. All of them acted immorally and reality won out; I felt worse for Barbara and especially Frank. Ayn, from Barbara's account, seemed unfulfilled in her marriage, especially indicated by the fact that other young men before Nathaniel noted that there was that similar type of flirting going on. It seemed like she was seeking out an affair all along, but didn't want to let go of Frank. Nathaniel, though he was very young at the start and under the influence of Ayn, kept up lies and deception all the way to age 38. He was, essentially, using Ayn and not treating her as a human by lying to her and lying to everyone else. The whole thing was a major rationalization. Frank and Barbara's error was agreeing to it and staying with them, though I understand why they did. Poor Frank seemed to have a miserable life towards the end, and Ayn did as well. He had a lifetime of suppressed emotions and it was especially sad to read about his last years. It was interesting to read about Ayn's character - she seemed to have a lot of flaws, and virtues, I would not have been able to guess by listening to her interviews, etc. It was also interesting to read how Peikoff came to the forefront of Objectivism and how he became the "intellectual heir" that ARI makes him out to be (and by his own statement) - it was almost by default, everyone else in Ayn Rand's life left her. It would have been interesting to hear Ayn's take on the whole thing as I bet it would give a more complete picture, especially with her dealings on Nathaniel. I was really disgusted, enchanted, and saddened at different times reading the book. It was a rollercoaster of emotions - not because I was particularly invested, but all the triumph in her life as well as all the tragedy (including for the people around her) was sometimes hard to read.
  14. 1 point
    In the spirit of the immortal words of Yoda "The cave! Remember your failure in the cave" Never forget: MONADS
  15. 1 point
    I'm not so sure I've acted in my self interest raising this issue... Also, I have misunderstood and/or been negligent in honestly seeking the motivations of Merlin... justice demands an apology when treatment does not match desert... so Merlin I apologize for making this an issue, I have no excuse or justification.
  16. 1 point
    Maybe the problem is that this should be in Member Writing. My impression is that Misc Topics is for single topics that otherwise don't have an appropriate forum. While I'm here, I'll suggest adding a couple lines of description or opinion with each forum post. This might help stimulate interest or debate. Just posting a link potentially kills a thread later on, if the link goes dead. Having some substance in the post itself will keep the thread viable, even if the blog disappears.
  17. 1 point
    I appreciate all the links Merlin makes to his blog entries. They are informative, and convenient for me to go to from here. I don't get to follow up with comments usually, because I'm on other things for in-depth assimilation in these years of my life. Merlin's professional background and continuing study of economics and of philosophy are a lucky stream into this site. I'm delighted to see that such an old, old man is still learning. I remember 25 years ago when he and I together studied philosopher after philosopher concerning theory of truth. I'll try to link to some of his essays on that and on other subjects naturally of interest to learners who have an interest in the span of topics Rand undertook. I had not heard of this book and social theory of Walzer's until Merlin conveyed notes on it to us in this modern medium. Makes me kind of feel like being back with Merlin in hours after our business jobs, plodding our way through Spinoza. (I'm not kidding; to us that is interesting and very worthwhile.) I see that Merlin has summarized Waltzer through chapter 2 and that there are several chapters more he might think to convey notes on to folks here who might well be interested in modern theories of justice. Perhaps he will have some evaluations and Rand-comparisons at the end. Good research and thinking from Merlin in these finished products: Imagination and Cognition Theories of Truth I II III On Probability Pursuing Similarity Perhaps some participants here would like to talk to Merlin right here in this thread about some things he wrote on these topics. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS - I first met Merlin, as I recall, listening to tape lectures being played at Northwestern in 1977. That was The Philosophy of Objectivism which had been recorded the year before in New York. (It was by Leonard Peikoff, and Ayn Rand participated, a fine experience.) It's quite possible one could get acquainted with this learned guy by attending OCON 2019. He and wife reside in that vicinity, and I know he attended OCON last year.
  18. 1 point
    Most of the posts I make on this thread are only links to my blog, which clearly is not part of OL, and the thread is so titled. It's up to users to decide if they want to read them or not. If others make unwarranted assumptions about me or my blog, that's their problem, not mine. There are plenty of posts on OL with no obvious relation to Objectivism.
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