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Ilya Startsev

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  1. Transcending Objectivism and Kantianism

    For those new to this thread, I am discussing relevant epistemological terminology in greater detail in my other thread on the forum, Toward new epistemology.
  2. As can be seen with an old popular thread I started on Objectivism online forum, I am very interested in putting side-to-side various philosophies, even before I learn that some of them cannot be thoroughly compared! So I would like to find out whether it is even possible to conceive of transcending Rand’s worldview with that of her well-known ‘archenemy’ – Immanuel Kant himself. I’ve spent the last two years trying to figure out this big conflict in contemporary philosophy by studying Kant’s philosophy and debating Kantians, especially on Philosophy forums, which are now, unfortunately, non-operational. So what are some ideas that I’d like to put forward to initiate this discussion? Part I: Describing conflicts First, I want to delineate the premises of my argument as conflicting characters of both philosophies. Let Objectivism take only (a) subdivisions, while Kantianism take only (b) subdivisions. General vs. specific Objectivism is general in respect to being broadly applied to most areas of life, including even sex (in Rand’s words!). Philosophy, according to Rand, is a way of living, rather than only a way of thinking (which is a part of living but not the whole). Hence Rand is more concerned with having an integrated picture of the whole rather than only its parts in isolation or abstraction. Rand’s epistemology starts with metaphysics (most broad or general field of philosophy). Kantianism is specific in respect to being narrowly applied only to thoughts concerning positive knowledge in theoretical science, moral/ethical practice, and judgments in art. Kantian way of thinking takes ideas in isolation and abstraction and only bounded by mind, representing all areas of knowledge within mental structures and through categories of thought. Kant’s epistemology cycles through itself, making metaphysics subservient to it without a possibility of deriving any knowledge about ends. External vs. internal Objectivism is concerned with external experience of reality, where it finds knowledge. Every judgment must correspond to or be ultimately derived from external reality. Kantianism is concerned with internal experience, wherein it claims to find all positive knowledge. Everything considered to be ‘external’ to mind is merely thought to be a representation or appearance structured by our mind as pure reason or inwardly directed by mind as practical reason with aesthetic judgments connecting the two reasons. Public vs. academic Objectivism is well known in general public by means of popular novels, podcasts, presentations, and audiobooks, but not among many academicians, who openly oppose it or try to avoid it. Formal discussions of Objectivism mostly occur in Objectivist journals, and Objectivist scholars do not take these discussions to established and trustworthy academic philosophical journals. Hence the nature of Objectivist discussions and research is mostly closed rather than open, in regard to academic work. Kantianism is popular among many academicians but not in general public. Kantianism is considered by many academicians to be a ‘suble’ and ‘true’ philosophy not comprehended quite enough by most others. Objective vs. subjective Objectivism follows the ethics of rational or objective egoism to the detriment of sometimes being able to develop healthy relationships with others. Objects in this philosophy precede private subjects. Kantianism follows the ethics of rational yet subjective altruism to the point of forcing others (even violently) to heed one’s ‘social’ will (especially of those in power) as if it were universal law. Peikoff describes Kantian influences on Nazism in The Ominous Parallels, and Kant himself praises the sublime in war over peace in Critique of Judgment, §28. Thus, subjects in this philosophy are not only central but the only ones, as physical objects in themselves are non-existent. Political vs. scientific Objectivism has greatly influenced the progress of politics and economics through conservatives, neoconservatives, libertarians, and even some liberals. However, Objectivism hasn’t had much effect on science. Kantianism has greatly influenced the progress of science through Bohr’s Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, Chomsky’s universal grammar theory, and various neuro and cognitive scientists, anthropologists, and psychologists. However, Kantianism hasn’t had as much direct effect in politics. Part II: Transcending conflicts Second, as a possible way to transcend these areas as it would mostly benefit Objectivism (like a stronger connection to academia in 3), I need to provide a potential idea to be built upon. My current and main source of inspiration is Leonard Peikoff’s DIM Hypothesis (2012), which is based on Rand’s epistemology, in particular her theory of concepts. What Peikoff develops in his book called after his hypothesis is a metaphilosophy (although he doesn’t call it that) specifying boundaries of all philosophies involving three categories: disintegrating, integrating, and misintegrating. As a point of contention, these are Peikoff’s words that I reinterpreted in favor of my own hypothesis: I’ve been building on some concepts from Peikoff’s hypothesis this past couple of years and have found another way (a visual method) to describe all philosophies, while also borrowing some of these terms from Peikoff. Based on my extensive research, I would like to show not only that I independently verified some insights from Peikoff’s hypothesis (as I also did a few years back for Rand’s theory) but also describe what he had achieved (and he considers this book his greatest achievement so far) as an understanding of Rand’s epistemology not as an epistemology in academic sense (which they don’t accept as such) but a meta-epistemology that transcends epistemology as conceived by Kant. If Rand’s epistemology be truly a meta-epistemology and Peikoff’s hypothesis be truly metaphilosophical, then we can use these areas to transcend Kant’s ‘transcendental’ philosophy without losing specificity required (as in 1). As far as I know, Kant never covered these areas in his philosophy. Considering that there also exists a term ‘metametaphysics’ (books on the topic: 2009, 2015, and 2016; cf. my metaphysics), maybe this so-called ‘transcendence’ can also achieve greater breadth than Rand was able to conceive, although, as speculative as all this may sound, there is currently not enough understanding of these new ‘meta’ (meaning not just ‘after’ but ‘beyond’) fields because they are on the frontier of contemporary philosophical research. Maybe we can share knowledge and understanding to see whether any of my suggestions have ground for further developments. At the end, if we reach any conclusion, we may find and improve upon the missing links required for Objectivism to hold the center stage it deserves in philosophical discussions.
  3. Transcending Objectivism and Kantianism

    So what we need to connect is the two lines going back and forth: 1) subjectivity beneath objectivity, and 2) subjectivity that can be objective. The first is the effect of our concepts, including implicit ones, such as (meta)categories, upon our percepts in our minds. And the second is how we view our concepts in relation to what we perceive. Concerning the first, here is a passage from David Kelley: Concerning the second I don't think there is a problem in either Randism or Kantianism. Both accept the evidence of the senses as important.
  4. Transcending Objectivism and Kantianism

    I guess my stance would be to connect reason to both objectivity and subjectivity. My previous project to connect Randism to Marxism failed because egoism and altruism cannot be connected. But this new project to connect Randism to Kantianism could succeed because, if you follow my own delineation of these philosophies (which I think is more fair than the chart by the Objectivist Standard because I don't mix altruism and egoism anymore, such as you can see in their third, yellow column, especially row 4 in contrast to the rest and the mixture in row 7), the only thing left to connect is reason to subjectivity from an objective standpoint. The idea that Objectivists seem to ignore is that indeed there is subjectivity hiding beneath the objectivity, but the overwhelming focus on the word "objective" leads to thinking that being subjective can also be objective, and this is actually the Kantian stance.
  5. Transcending Objectivism and Kantianism

    Here is a related chart.
  6. Transcending Objectivism and Kantianism

    I'd like to add to that a peculiar corresponding list of altruisms: Marxist altruism: rational and objective Hitlerist altruism: irrational and subjective Stalinist/religious altruism: rational and subjective
  7. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    In contrast to Kant, I believe that imagination is immediately related to memory, not perception.
  8. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    And that's unfortunate because, following Kant, I would have been able to say that when I see a white shape on a green surface I then perceive a unicorn on a pasture.
  9. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    In case anyone missed the implication from the above, Kant would have been considered an idealist, if he had kept the concept of perception in his epistemology.
  10. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Hallelujah, I've found "perception" in Kant's KrV! The only unfortunate thing is that it is reduced to imagination for him, and moreover he deleted it from his second edition because he was very upset being called a Berkelean. It's in the section also explaining the 'unity of apperception', by the way, even though the method starts with this kind of 'perceptual' apprehension and ends with the apperception (which is more related to his a priori logic). The most substantial note is 150, which says: Talk about the psychologizing revolution Kant had brought forward!
  11. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Perhaps. It doesn't deny the point that it wasn't Kant's fault. Besides, you really can't change history, no matter how much you'd try.
  12. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Similarly, concerning Kant from the same book:
  13. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    I found something quite illuminating from the book that Boydstun recommended, The Sociology of Philosophies. On page 527 there is this chart of most if not all pre-Kantian philosophers in classical Europe. It answers on my question concerning the relationship of Berkeley and Hume. The connecting link is Maclauren (Edinburgh math chair). I have no idea who it was, but it's shown that he attacked Berkeley, so Hume is connected to the attacker on Berkeley, not Berkeley himself. Hence you can see how inappropriately he called himself an "idealist" "following" Berkeley.
  14. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Perhaps, but I am not in a syncretic mood. Susskind doesn't deny that the Planck units (particularly of space and time) are the most fundamental in our universe, and he uses them as such natural blocks to explain black holes. However, adding something else besides them or making something else more fundamental seems like an unjustified reification. Like graviton.
  15. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

  16. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    To make my point short, I have to say that each of us has one brain, not two or three. And each brain does one and only one thing: it thinks. It thinks in whatever form: whether of understanding, judging, or whatever. Each of these ways of thinking doesn't justify having different brains or different subparts of brains that answer to these functions. I believe that neurological evidence shows that our brain employs more complex nonlinear phenomena than if it had separate functions à la Kant.
  17. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Just to confuse everything a thousandfold, I refer to Kant's early use of Verstand in his "Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime":
  18. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    And then there is this which makes everything a lot more confusing:
  19. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    This all goes back to what 'mind' is for Kant. If 'reason' for him is Vernunft, then 'mind/reason' is Verstand. The two are equivalent semantically but not so philosophically unless you can think of the entire mind within a single thought.
  20. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Another distracting projection by Kelley (ibid.) now concerning Kant's philosophy: I think he is confusing Kant with Fichte here. Pamfil Yurkevich in his "Mind from the teachings of Plato and experience from the teachings of Kant" shows that Kant never specified or identified consciousness, in contrast to Plato, for example.
  21. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Without having read Locke properly, it's hard to answer on some of these attacks, but they continue bugging me. For example, while reading Kelley's Evidence of the Senses, I came upon this passage: Locke has a form of metaphysical empiricism (I am taking this term from Oizerman's Metaphilosophy). I don't see anything inherently unstable in his philosophy. Now, if Kelley agrees with the criticisms of Locke like Roecklein does of Parmenides, it doesn't mean that those criticisms actually applied to these philosophers. They could very much be straw men or, even better, red herrings. A good criticism always reveals the essence of a philosophy, but I don't see these projections by Kelley and Roecklein as anything other than what they are. Explain how form and substance are different from the bulk of size, shape, solidity, and other primary qualities? Aren't form and substance basically a simplified quintessence of these qualities? Of course as a mere distinction they differ but not as what referents they signify. I've remembered that Unity is the first a priori category belonging to Quality, along with Plurality and Totality. So how can you necessarily have such a 'unity' at all times? Seems like it's doing a double work that is unjustified (not that anything is justified in Kant).
  22. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Yes, or maybe it's that Roecklein and I don't agree upon anything. In that case I would love to debate the issues with him directly.
  23. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Is he serious? After such thinking I must conclude that Roecklein is either an idiot or an atomist himself.
  24. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Tell me this is not intuitive (contra Kant):
  25. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    I fail to grasp that, and Kant's explanations are of no help. I guess I need to read more of his critics. I surely wouldn't call Locke a pure empiricist, but an atomist? That's a very strange claim, so I will have to read the article to understand the argument. Is Roecklein sure that he was not reading Kant? Locke's categories are intuitive and perceptible, like those in Aristotle. Similarly, Roecklein wouldn't claim that Aristotle reduced objects to 'bundles of qualities', right?