Welcome to Objectivism Online Forum

Welcome to Objectivism Online, a forum for discussing the philosophy of Ayn Rand. For full access, register via Facebook or email.


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by epistemologue

  1. The following is a summary critique of "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" by Ayn Rand, that I'm going to post here in reply to Eiuol's question: The study of concepts is about the study of abstractions or universals - not the concrete things which are everything that man perceives (p. 1-2). The question of whether *concepts* refer to something real, something that exists, is a question of whether *universals* are real, whether they exist. Put another way, it's a question of whether there are "natural kinds" - are the concrete things in reality grouped into such natural "kinds", such abstract or universal "identities", or are the things in reality entirely concrete and unique, and there are no such *natural* kinds, no shared universal identity between things - no universals, no abstract *concepts*, only *categories* grouping together concretes? This is the real "problem of universals", the question that concerns whether concepts "correspond to something in reality" (p. 2, 52-53, 74). The issue of concepts is an epistemological issue, but it depends on metaphysics. If all that exists are concretes, if metaphysically there are no such things as "universals" (or "kinds", or "essences"), then this leads to a radically different epistemology than if such abstractions do exist metaphysically. When it's put forward that we group things based on measurable criteria, this can be interpreted one of two ways: if there *are* natural kinds, that these kinds have distinctive measurements, and we can identify their essence by the method of measurement (and no supernatural revelation is necessary, as claimed on p. 53-54) - or, if there are *not* natural kinds, and that we can define a type of measure with which we group things together as "the same" or "different" according to subjective or pragmatic standards. Everything in reality does have measurements, and we can objectively identify the measures of each thing, and choose to group things according to whether their measurements fit some given criteria. But such categories as we devise on this basis alone do *not* "have a basis in reality" - the entities are real, the measurements are real, and we can define groupings which do contain real things, but if there is no *natural* kind, a *natural* grouping of things that share the same measurements because of some underlying metaphysical *necessity*, then the category is not something based in reality, but rather it is based on our own subjective criteria. Either a concept is defined in order to *correspond* to a metaphysically real identity and *identify* its referents, or a category is defined in order to "provide an identity", by one's own subjective convention, and *specify* its referents (p. 11, 40). Subjective criteria outlined by Rand include: 1) defining categories based on the utilitarian requirements of the entities, as in defining a table by how we intend to use it instead of by its constitutive characteristics (p. 12, 22), 2) defining categories for the sake of unit economy, in cases where we have to employ long descriptions frequently and can shorten our thought by defining a new name (p. 63), or 3) constructing a definition of a category relationally, for the purpose of differentiating some group of entities from what's *not* in the category within your current context of knowledge (p. 13, 40), instead of constructing a definition for the purpose of identifying the constitutive measurements of the object itself (p. 42, 45, 73). The appeal to there being strict rules without any room for arbitrary whim does not mean that the formation of a category is not ultimately justified subjectively (especially if it's admitted there's room for optionality, as in p. 70-73) - it is still subjective as long as the formation is based on your own subjective, pragmatic requirements, rather than on the objective requirements dictated by the objects in reality (p. 43, 70-71). Such subjective categories cannot be held without contradiction as your knowledge expands. Since every individual concrete differs in at least some measure (p. 143), any universal claims over a category would be contradicted by at least some other concretes in the given category if there is no metaphysical principle that ensures they are essentially identical (p. 43). This is the usual justification for having a skeptic epistemology (such as those philosophies of science propounded by Popper, Kuhn, etc.) where all truth is subjective when coming from materialist and empiricist metaphysical premises (p. 48-49, 75). Another point that seems frequently equivocated: a concept is *abstract*, and thus subsumes all possible entities of a certain kind (whether any have been perceptually observed or not). The meaning of such a concept is the *kind*, and *all* entities of that kind (p. 17-18, 21). Creating a system of categories merely for grouping perceptually observed entities is rather concrete-bound, and the meaning of such a category is *only* the collection of those concrete entities that have been perceptually observed previously (p. 10), and *not* the kind itself, and the infinite variation of possible entities of that kind. A concept can, in principle, be reduced to a set of measurements and observable perceptions (which one may have never actually perceived), but a category is directly, concretely reducible to the set of one's previously observed perceptions which are a part of that category (p. 15). While it's true that a sensation itself cannot be communicated to someone incapable of perceiving it (e.g. the color blue to a blind person), the meaning of a concept can be, since a concept is abstract - it's only the meaning of a *category*, which reduces *concretely* to perception, which cannot be communicated (p. 40-41). Either there is no universal identity between concretes which logically necessitates the universal concept and therefore our concepts are defined subjectively and pragmatically, and our claims over them have no real truth status, or else there *is* a universal identity, metaphysically, which holds it together and makes universal concepts, claims, and induction possible. You can't have it both ways. Since Rand vigorously denounces intrinsicism and essences on the metaphysical level, her epistemology must necessarily be subjective and pragmatic, essentially no different from any logical positivist or philosopher of science, and just as meaningless and lacking of rational justification. The same goes with the ethics and politics, too, I'm afraid.
  2. This is one of the most dishonest, malevolent things I have ever read. You are a true representative of Objectivists these days.
  3. Plasmatic I comprehended the argument before I read Scott Ryan. The mini-critique of Oist epistemology in this thread was written before I'd ever heard of the book. Oist epistemology is broken and it's conclusions are unjustified. I'll have to take whatever this necessarily commits me to, if it's Platonic Forms with "bizarre abilities" - then they aren't so bizarre, if they are necessary for the justification of knowledge, are they? But I have no idea if that sort of thing is in the cards or not.
  4. It makes any general knowledge or induction unjustifiable. I don't know if I can say much more than I already have, I haven't studied enough metaphysics. In my opinion, Objectivism has a fundamental problem in metaphysics, and it's a fracture which runs through and corrupts the entire philosophy. I agree with Scott Ryan on that. I am still in the midst of reading his book. I don't know how much else I agree with him on (it may be a lot or a little), he seems to be "Absolute Idealist", which is some kind of Hegelian thing that I simply don't understand. I'm going to put forth a legitimate effort to study the field of metaphysics; I've bought a number of textbooks on the subject and will also consult various online articles and lectures. I want to improve my knowledge (virtually everyone in both threads keeps talking about universal "entities", I don't understand this at all), as well as improve my arguments, and refine my judgment on these matters and the individuals and philosophies involved. The philosophical system as laid out by Rand and followed by Peikoff and other major Objectivist figures I believe to be fundamentally broken, from metaphysics on up - though of course I agree whole-heartedly with it's spirit of non-supernaturalism, free will, rationality, egoism, Rand's list of virtues and values, and capitalism, among many other things (I also love Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, I've read both 7 times each). The question at this point is whether to "reinvent" Objectivism from the ground up, keeping with Rand mostly only in spirit if not in philosophy, or else to abandon "Objectivism" entirely to the dust pile and work from some other, more suitable foundation, perhaps "Objective Idealism", as Scott Ryan calls it, or Brand Blanshard's "Absolute Idealism". or maybe something else entirely, or something new, I don't know. If anyone's interested in studying the field of metaphysics and corresponding send me a message. Otherwise I'll try to come back these threads and the various issues involved at a later time.
  5. I'm not saying that everything metaphysically given to us needs explanation *in order to exist*... are you serious? I'm telling you that without some metaphysically real universality, any identity between two units of a concept is logically inconsistent with one's premises. That is, on the metaphysical premise that everything that exists is particular, there is no *shared* identity between particulars.
  6. I was curious if anyone else has read this book by Scott Ryan. I am still only on Chapter 1, but I think the author has a lot of clear insights that I haven't read anywhere else. The argument in Chapter 1 is that she missed the "problem of universals" entirely - which is properly a *metaphysical* question, not an epistemological one. Personally I've always thought it was odd that she began the book stating that it was all about the problem of universals, but the word "universal" is not defined, nor is it ever actually substantively used again at all throughout the rest of the book. Instead she talks about epistemological "abstractions". She seems to dismiss and avoid the metaphysical issue entirely. The only thing she mentions is that Plato and Aristotle (and intrinsicists in general) are wrong, that universals do not exist on the metaphysical level. But her only argument is that such universals could not be "perceived" directly, by no means - which is not a necessary feature of intrinsicist metaphysics. And her entire epistemology seems to be aimed at the idea of creating abstract concepts which themselves have both universality and correspondence with reality. If there are no such metaphysically real universals, then to what would these correspond, what meaning or use could they possibly have? The typical nominalist who denies intrinisicist metaphysics doesn't try to steal a notion of universal "concepts" like this, they will openly admit that concepts refer to a collection of concretes and have strictly pragmatic value (and are not any kind of universal abstractions which correspond with reality). Available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Objectivism-Corruption-Rationality-Critique-Epistemology/dp/0595267335 Available in pdf here: http://www.scholardarity.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Objectivism-and-the-Corruption-of-Rationality-Scott-Ryan.pdf
  7. ah I see. I'll look for another option.
  8. You either have to accept universals exist *metaphysically*, or else any similarity between concretes is inexplicable and unnecessary; any particular from one point in time to another can't even be justified as "the same", if *all* you believe is metaphysically basic is the particular itself, and nothing is metaphysically real on a higher order that guarantees identity between any two particulars, or between any "one particular" at one point of time and another.
  9. "Metaphysical" does not mean "material". Gravity exists metaphysically, but it's not "just another concrete". So you've got a fundamental problem here.
  10. https://rocket.chat/ Someone wrote: "It's possible [to integrate Rocket.Chat with IPS4] with Oauth plugin from Marketplace. A friend of mine already did it and it looks stunning." Another person: "I have it integrated in my site. Pretty easy with this free plugin" https://invisionpower.com/forums/topic/429968-oauth-server/#comment-2638024 Here's how to configure the OAuth Server application to integrate IPS4 with Rocket.Chat. Rocket.Chat Install and setup Rocket.Chat. A walkthrough is beyond the scope of this guide. Create an initial administrator user and password, then login as that administrator. Administration > OAuth > Add Custom OAuth button (at the very bottom). Enter a unique identifier for this integration (ex: ips4) Find the Custom OAuth: <IPS4> section and expand it. Make a note of the Callback URL, e.g. https://your.rocketchat.com/_oauth/ips4 IPS4 Site ACP > Community > OAuth Server > Applications > Add Application. Enter a unique name for the integration (e.g. Rocket.Chat) and the Callback URL you obtained from Rocket.Chat above. Click Save. Select the user groups you wish to be able to authenticate against IPS4 for this integration. Do not select Guest! Click Save. Click on the Edit pencil again and take note of the Client ID, Client Secret, and 3 integration URLs. Rocket.Chat Change the following settings: Enabled: True URL: Top-level URL for your IPS4 site, such as https://your.ips4.com/. If your site is not installed at the root of the webserver, include any subdirectory here, such as https://mysite.com/ips4. Token Path: applications/oauth2server/interface/token.php Identity Path: applications/oauth2server/interface/me.php Authorization Path: applications/oauth2server/interface/authorize.php Token sent via: Payload or Header both work, it doesn't matter. ID: your Client ID from IPS4 here Secret: your Client Secret from IPS4 here Login Style: I recommend Popup Button settings as you wish. You may have to restart the Rocket.Chat server at this point. I had to, but I cannot guarantee that is is mandatory. Logout as Administrator and use the new button to log in as an IPS4 user. Log back in as the Administrator user and give admin access to your IPS4 user (#general chat > people icon on the right > click on user > MAKE ADMIN). (Optional) Disable username/password login for Rocket.Chat: Administration > Accounts > Show Form-based Login set to False. WARNING: Do not do this until you have made at least one IPS4 user an administrator or you will lose admin access to your Rocket.Chat server!
  11. What I'm asking is, what does this substantively add to the characterization? I haven't read the article you linked yet.
  12. I really don't understand the significance of this semantic distinction. in other words, so what?
  13. Thanks. From the article: "It’s not that you must presume uniformity in order to classify. It’s that you classify to find uniformities." The whole problem with this is that you haven't "found" any more uniformity than you had to begin with! You're still in *exactly* the same position as he agreed with earlier in the article: "The Scholastics lamented (rightly) that unless you had surveyed all magnets or all animals, the inference was not certain" "If you have good guidelines and follow them, you can be certain that someone absolutely cannot contract cholera unless exposed to the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, certain that all men are mortal, certain that the angles of all planar triangles sum to 180°, and certain that 2+3=5. And you don’t need any unjustifiable uniformity principle to do so." No, you cannot be certain of any of those things without some kind of "uniformity principle". The author hasn't justified this at all, and it's contradictory on its face the way it's presented in this article. "But soon the child learns the difference between truth and make-believe—and the difference between staying the same and changing... The child learns that you can’t rely on some global uniformity principle." - without relying on the existence of some uniformity principle, the child hasn't *learned* anything! Those "things that stay the same" are believed to *stay the same* on the basis of there being such a thing *as* uniformity, that is the very meaning of having such a "uniformity principle" in the first place! "The realization that some things stay the same and some don’t is what, he thought, makes induction possible and necessary" - how can any thing stay the same, by the nature of the thing - i.e. in *principle* - if there is no such thing as a principle of uniformity? That's just blatantly contradictory. He wants to find principles of uniformity while denying there are any principles of uniformity. Come on!
  14. That's exactly the issue I'm addressing. "Rand believes we can form meaningful abstractions *without* such universals having a metaphysically basic existence in reality, which I believe is unjustifiable". That's exactly what you quoted. Why they are needed I answered in my last post, under "Why are these supposed "universals" even necessary?". What does that mean? Why does it sound that way? Sometimes she says this (she relies on it while denying it, so she's inconsistent at different times), but she explicitly denies any intrinsic identity or metaphysical universality, and her justifications all eschew these principles, relying instead of subjective and/or pragmatic criteria, from which objective truth, knowledge, or success in induction cannot be justified. No, that's intrinsicism. You can't go around explicitly *denying* metaphysical essences or universals, denying that such a thing as "manness" or "roseness" exists, justifying your definitions on such grounds as utility, brevity, and differentiation within one's particular context of knowledge at a given time, etc., and then try to tell me that the epistemology *does* refers to metaphysically basic universal identities. You're contradicting what I just said above, "Don't metaphysical essences imply that we acquire concepts "by no means"?" I said in that section, "I don't have any general problem with the empirical practice of observation, differentiation and integration, measurement omission, or the process of concept formation in general... in general, this is the normal way humans form concepts". Well as I've said, Rand inconsistently maintains both an intrinsicist view, when she says things about how concepts are abstract and there is a real *kind* of thing in reality to which they refer, while also maintaining a nominalist view - which is what all of her justifications depend on, as I've described here: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?/topic/30636-subjectivity-and-pragmatism-in-objectivist-epistemology/ Universal meaning (as in conceptual knowledge or general propositions) is based on the definitions of the concepts, which are defined according to subjective and pragmatic criteria in her epistemology as opposed to being grounded in metaphysical essences / natural kinds / some metaphysically basic universal, and thus don't have any real meaning or any real truth, outside of the observations of the particular concretes which have been previously observed and the nominalistic categories and descriptions derived from there.
  15. I would just like to clarify a few of points. Are "metaphysically real universals" some kind of supernatural entities, located in another dimension? "Metaphysically real universals" does not imply that there are supernatural "entities" floating around in some other dimension. "Metaphysical" simply means that something is in the nature of reality, it's in the nature of our universe for something to be a certain way. As for "universal", take for example the proposition that "all balls will roll" (taking for granted any characteristics you want to use to specify that so that it comes out to being an absolute and universal claim). So it's not just a claim about particular balls, it's a claim about all balls. So there is some metaphysical meaning and necessity to what a "ball" is. There is something, some term somewhere in the nature of this universe, corresponding to "ball" in general, at least in so much as *all* balls will roll. If it's not contingent on other facts of the matter, if it really is universal, then there is something about it in the nature of reality (i.e. "ball", the abstraction, "ballness", has metaphysical meaning). I am not positing any kind of supernatural "entity" or any "other dimension", that sort of thing is not intrinsically a part of this claim, even if some philosophers in the past may have taken it that way. Don't metaphysical essences imply that we acquire concepts "by no means", that consciousness has no identity? The fact of universals existing in an ontologically basic way does not imply that we acquire them "by no means", or that consciousness has no identity, or anything like that. I don't have any general problem with the empirical practice of observation, differentiation and integration, measurement omission, or the process of concept formation in general. I have a number of issues with Rand's account of this process, but in general, this is the normal way humans form concepts, and that is perfectly consistent with there being a real meaning *out in reality* of the universals to which our concepts refer. (again, this sort of thing is not intrinsically a part of this claim, even if some philosophers in the past may have taken it that way) Why are these supposed "universals" even necessary? Metaphysically real universals are absolutely necessary to an objective philosophy. The whole issue at stake here is that Rand believes we can form meaningful abstractions *without* such universals having a metaphysically basic existence in reality, which I believe is unjustifiable. Without something real to which abstractions can refer, we are left with a process of forming abstractions guided by subjective and pragmatic concerns, with the end result being nominalist categories that are incapable of any universal meaning, and therefore with induction (and ultimately, rationality itself), being impossible.
  16. I'll look into this over the next few days.
  17. welcome, drop into the chat sometime! http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?/chat/
  18. The thing is, there is no good justification for any method of "universal cognition" without the existence of metaphysically real universals. I don't think it's superficial at all. Ryan thinks Rand doesn't justify this point. This whole idea of "abstract particulars" doesn't really help against Ryan's criticism... either there is some metaphysical necessity that binds together two similars as essentially the same, to which such relations can justifiably refer, or else there is no justification for using such relations. I don't think he begs the question, I think he makes a thorough-going argument against her position, and lays out the conclusions that follow (i.e. she takes certain position while denying what they necessarily presuppose).
  19. "Existence. That's as universal as it get (and this necessarily goes with identity." - not really sure what you meant by this. can you explain further?
  20. "On the ethical level she does somewhat... Intrinsicism in Rand's context is in regards to values. As in nothing is good without being good -for- someone. This also reflects her epistemology, knowledge being -for- someone. But metaphysically to Rand, there is no "true for you". There is just true or false." "intrinsicism" in Objectivism refers to both "intrinsic theory of values" and to metaphysical intrinsicism. It does so for good reason, they go together. Rand denounces both. And it's not *just* the issue of "knowledge being for someone", it's *also* (logically, as a corollary), the existence of metaphysical universals to which abstract/universal concepts correspond. She denies the latter, too. And that *does* imply that everything is "true for you" - because every concept you use has a definition which is based on subjective and pragmatic criteria, so it's "true for you, for now" - but that definition can and does change; the concept has no universal metaphysical referent to hang on like she tries to make it out to.
  21. "Identity is the principle... You can then make a universal claim, about their colored nature." Well that's exactly what's at stake here in siding with intrinsicism or nominalism. Is there such a thing as universal identity or not? Intrinsicism says yes, nominalism says no. "Would you explain what a kind is, then? Is it an attribute? A concrete? Is it an abstract relation? How does a collection differ from a unity?" A "kind" or an "essence" is ontologically basic in an intrinsicist metaphysics, so no, it can't be explained by any of those things, it is a principle of explanation itself. A "kind" or "essence" is the universal aspect of any given entity, attribute, or relation. See my final paragraph in my original post on the distinction between an abstract concept and a concrete collection, lookup the references in ITOE as well, Rand gives her own verbiage of that at times (though she denies its basis at other times).
  22. Eiuol, in #3 the issue is when definitions are relational. An objective definition will identify the essence of a given universal concept by the most fundamental constitutive properties of what it *is*. A definition (and thereby the concept) cannot be objective if it's based on what something is *not* - and especially as it relates to your current context of knowledge. These are subjective, pragmatic criteria.
  23. By the way, incredible article here by Jacob Brunton making the same point: http://www.thechristianegoist.com/2013/10/02/resurrecting-realism/
  24. Neither Rand nor any other Objectivist has explained this because the explanation is outside of the explicit, orthodox philosophy. Rand's personal philosophy, her intuitive grasp of the connection between "A is A" and the necessity of a governmental justice system, is expressed in her fiction and in her convictions, but it's not explainable in her explicit philosophy. Her *explicit* philosophy, from the metaphysics, to the epistemology, to the nature of man, to the nature of political rights and government, cannot explain the connection. In her explicit philosophy, in metaphysics, there are no universals, and a statement such as "A is A" is meaningless or even wrong, and the epistemology states that we can only pragmatically make such claims, there is no metaphysical necessity holding them to be true. The tabula rasa theory of man follows from this, and a subjectivist, consequentialist ethics follows from that. On such foundations, there are no individual rights, only pragmatic heuristics telling you that using force probably isn't in your best interest in most situations. Since there's no need for a justice system which consistently defends people's rights, there's no need for a government; whichever system of force which happens to be to one's advantage at any particular time would do. In her implicit philosophy, however, we find a totally different story. "A is A" is significant because of what is contained in the meaning of "A", much like in Descartes cogito, "I think, therefore I am" is significant because of what is meant by "I". The "A" is a universal, a metaphysically basic universal, with which our epistemological concept of "A" is identical. That is, there is a metaphysical necessity to the essential nature of our concepts. A teleological theory of man follows from this, and an objective (that is, intrinsic and universal) deontological morality follows from that - is implies ought, and therefore we must act consistently with our nature, and indeed must treat everything according to its nature (Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed). For this reason, individual rights are absolute and categorical, and we need a system which will consistently defend people's rights, which can only be accomplished in an integrated, governmental justice system (any other system of force, including anarchy, cannot defend the rights of all of the individuals involved consistently).