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     Objectivism Is the Everyman's Philosophy

    In the universe, what you see is what you get,

    figuring it out for yourself is the way to happiness,

    and each person's independence is respected by all

  • Rand's Philosophy in Her Own Words

    • "Metaphysics: Objective Reality"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed/Wishing won’t make it so." "The universe exists independent of consciousness"
    • "Epistemology: Reason" "You can’t eat your cake and have it, too." "Thinking is man’s only basic virtue"
    • "Ethics: Self-interest" "Man is an end in himself." "Man must act for his own rational self-interest" "The purpose of morality is to teach you[...] to enjoy yourself and live"
    • "Politics: Capitalism" "Give me liberty or give me death." "If life on earth is [a man's] purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being"

    the psycho-epistemological function of propositions

    By Vik,
    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?

    Reblogged:Empty Grave

    Gus Van Horn blog
    By Gus Van Horn blog,
    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: 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

    Notes on a conceptual development book: "The Origin of Concepts"

    By Eiuol,
    I’m reading a book on conceptual development. I’m posting the notes I’ll be taking because it concerns many points about epistemology, especially for Objectivism. To be sure, the science of conceptual development won’t determine the philosophy one ought to hold about concepts, but it does give some particular and narrow observations that show if philosophical theories do in fact correspond to reality. Rand had plenty to say about conceptual development, and I find much of what she said to be easily confirmed (without contradiction, at least) and put into detail with science. I figure many of you here would like to see that Rand’s theories about concepts hold up in reality and aren’t just esoteric assumptions via introspection (as some people have criticized her of doing with all her ideas).

    The book is “The Origin of Concepts” by Susan Carey, 2009. She’s a psychology professor at MIT last I looked.  Remember, though, all definitions I mention here are Carey’s. I’ll periodically post chapter notes, feel free to post in between.

    1. Some Preliminaries
    The book offers an account of the human capacity for conceptual development. Cognitive science seeks a precise, explanatory origin of concepts in general.

    Three major theses:
    1) Two types of concepts
                a) embedded in systems of core cognition
                b ) embedded in systems of explicit knowledge
    2) Representational resources emerge in development that transcends core cognition
    3) Bootstrapping underlies the construction of new representational resources

    Concepts and Mental Representations
    Concepts are:
    -units of thought (constituents of beliefs and theories) at the grain of single lexical items (e.g. words)
    -mental representations (which refer to concrete or abstract entities)

    The psychologists William James and Piaget, and the philosopher Quine believed that a distinction can be made on a continuum between sensory/perceptual representations and conceptual representations. Is  “sensory representation” a very clear or obvious distinction? Compare sensing features of the world to the concepts of those features. The concept “square” isn’t necessarily a sensory/perceptual representation.

    Perceptual: iconic or analog; here and now
    Conceptual: discrete, language-like symbols; integrated with others

    Thesis 1: Core Cognition
    Developmental foundation of conceptual understanding
    Entities are identified by modular innate perceptual-input devices
    Need not be veridical and therefore need not be knowledge

    At Stake, A Picture of Conceptual Development
    Innate representations are those that are not the output of learning processes.
    Innate is often maturational and need not be present at birth

    Learning processes build representations of the world on the basis of computations on representational input.
    Domain-general, or domain-specific?
    Domain-general would be like saying there is a sensing-general sense organ.

    Indigo Buntings: Learn to follow the North Star by observing a rotating sky, but so specific that all buntings can learn it, or even be tricked if raised in a planetarium. (Emlen, 1975)
    Newborn chicks: Huddle close to overall bird-shapes, i.e. eyes and beak on a neck, on a body, instead of other objects (Johnson, Bolhuis, & Horn, 1985)

    Thesis 2: Discontinuities
    Discontinuity – new representational resources are qualitatively different from the representations they are built from
    Continuity – all representational structures are either present throughout development or arise through maturation (Fodor, Chomsky)

    How can representations by truly new? Counter: “Pi” seems like it’s totally and qualitatively different than “Two”.

    Thesis 3: Quinian Bootstrapping
    A learning mechanism that specifies how a new representational capacity can come about.

    Intuitive Theories – Explicit Conceptual Representations
    Two types of conceptual representations
                a) Those that articulate core cognition
                b ) Those that articulate linguistically encoded knowledge structures, e.g.
                           Intuitive theories
                           -its entities are not identified by innate input analyzers; not iconic
                           -deepest ontological commitments and most general explanatory principles

    Given a beginning state of perceptual representations and core cognition, how does theory-embedded conceptual knowledge originate and develop?

    Peikoff’s Dissertation – Prep

    By Boydstun,
    . 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.

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