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.

William O

  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by William O

  1. Here is an Objectivist intellectual's response to this claim: http://www.checkyourpremises.org/2016/03/09/whats-wrong-with-the-concept-libertarian/
  2. My understanding is that Objectivism holds that the choice to live is pre-rational. In other words, life versus death is the fundamental alternative, so there can't be a more fundamental reason for choosing it beyond the fact that you want to stay alive. That's the closest thing to a non-rational choice that I'm aware of within Objectivism.
  3. I've heard that it goes down to about three under stress. The military organizes their soldiers into sets of three so that each level of commander only has to deal with three units (three soldiers, three squads, three battalions, etc.).
  4. I think this thread is really about truth, although no one has put it that way. If there are real universals, then, whatever the defects of this metaphysics, that seems to give a clear meaning to the concept of truth. If your proposition corresponds to an appropriate connection between universals, then it's true; otherwise, it's false. Plato originally put forward the idea of the universal to combat the Sophists, who said that there was no objective truth, and that every perspective is as good as every other. That's not a stupid or dishonest thing to be concerned about at all. But I think Rand dealt with the issue better, because she managed to come up with a definition of truth that doesn't posit the existence of metaphysical entities that we have no real evidence for.
  5. epistemologue, I have a challenge for you. Can you present a specific example of an intrinsic metaphysical universal? That is, a distinction which exists intrinsically in reality, and which has no borderline cases because there is an "entity" which is exactly the same in each instance. When you do this, I would also like you to present the intrinsic definition of this universal, i.e., a definition that will never be revised or updated in light of new knowledge. Maybe you have done this, but I have not seen it. If you cannot, then I think that undermines your position.
  6. It implies that when you say that abstractions require universals to be valid, you're saying that there is a kind of metaphysical entity that abstractions have to correspond to. If that's what you're saying, then it's open to the anti-realist to maintain that our concepts correspond to similarities, which are not entities. Likewise, when you say that induction requires universals, what you are saying is that there is a kind of entity that the generalization has to correspond to, as opposed to simply corresponding to the causal connection involved, which is not an entity.
  7. Well, you seemed pretty committed to denying that universals are entities when we spoke in the chatroom and in the post I responded to. I think it clarifies the discussion to have a more substantial characterization of the universals you are defending.
  8. epistemologue, your source holds that universals are entities: "The phenomenon of similarity or attribute agreement gives rise to the debate between realists and nominalists. Realists claim that where objects are similar or agree in attribute, there is some one thing that they share or have in common; nominalists deny this. Realists call these shared entities universals; they say that universals are entities that can be simultaneously exemplified by several different objects; and they claim that universals encompass the properties things possess, the relations into which they enter, and the kinds to which they belong." Underlining mine. That's from near the beginning of Chapter 1 in Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality. Will you grant the point now? If you are a realist, you are defending the existence of a kind of entity.
  9. Traditionally, realists about universals assert that they are entities. "Universals are a class of mind-independent entities, usually contrasted with individuals (or so-called "particulars"), postulated to ground and explain relations of qualitative identity and resemblance among individuals." http://www.iep.utm.edu/universa/ As far as I can tell, you have not given a definition of "universals," which is a prerequisite for your position.
  10. epistemologue, what is it that attracts you to this position? From what you've said, it seems like your issue is that you don't see how concepts formed according to Rand's theory of measurement omission could have something to correspond to unless there were metaphysically real universals. Is that the only issue, or are there others?
  11. Thanks for posting this. I can't "like" your post for some reason.
  12. Your criticism of Rand's theory of concepts is that it is "subjectivist," but the concept of subjectivism you're using isn't the same as Rand's - on your view, it's basically just a pejorative way of saying she isn't an intrinsicist. But what we need is some reason to think that intrinsicism is true, which, as the previous respondent points out, you haven't provided.
  13. You yourself may or may not be confused on this point, but the way you have phrased it would certainly be confusing to someone learning about the philosophy. The logical structure of Objectivism does not consist of a series of deductions from the law of identity. You cannot deduce anything from the law of identity, as you can see just by looking at it. Objectivism's logical structure is inductive, for the most part.
  14. You think Nietzsche was more Aristotelian than not? That needs defending, I think. I agree that Stoicism is useful, although of course you have to approach it critically.
  15. I haven't studied On Certainty that carefully, but this was not the impression I got from it at all. From what I understood, Wittgenstein was basically advocating a form of skepticism where you have a "world picture" that you arrive at uncritically and do not have evidence for, but which is so fundamental that you cannot coherently doubt it. That might sound vaguely like the Objectivist concept of contextual certainty, but it is actually a completely different approach.
  16. I note that this fits well with Rand's view that a philosophy is a record of the philosopher's psycho-epistemology. Can you give some examples of Campbell's insights?
  17. I've been interested in Hume for a long time. He writes clearly, and he has a knack for finding strong, clear arguments for his positions, whether you agree with him or not. His system is also remarkably well integrated, and on many specific points he is correct (for example, his work on the epistemology of testimony).
  18. There is a non sequitur in the second part of this that no one has pointed out. Your argument goes like this: Man's life is the central purpose of a moral person's life. Pursuing life extension is the best way for everyone to achieve man's life. Therefore, everyone should pursue life extension. The non sequitur comes in in the second premise. The best way for most people to pursue man's life is to focus on being productive and earning money in some legitimate fashion to keep themselves alive, as well as pursuing appropriate relationships with other people. Life extension research that may or may not even pan out is a distant second to paying bills and other concrete, practical concerns. I don't disagree that life extension research is a good thing and might be something useful to come around to once everything else has been taken care of, but it is simply wrong to say that it should be the central purpose of everyone's life.
  19. What is a computer program? If you look inside a computer all you will see is a bunch of charged and uncharged circuits. Where is this "program" you are talking about? A computer program is usually defined as a set of instructions. Since a set is a mental collection of things, this implies that a conscious mind has grouped the instructions together. Without a conscious observer that is capable of reasoning (i.e., free will), there is no computer program, just bits. For that matter, I've noticed that a general picture of the program usually exists in my mind before I even begin programming. The process of creating the program usually consists of breaking this picture down into parts, and then breaking each part down into the syntax of the language I am using.
  20. I've said this before, but it didn't really get addressed. When someone is subjected to the kind of prolonged, severe pain we are discussing in this thread, their mind gradually turns into a kind of funhouse mirror. This isn't speculation, you can study any number of examples of people who have been brutally tortured, raped, assaulted, etc. Severe stress is inconsistent with rationality, because it directly undermines a person's capacity to think rationally on the physical level.
  21. It makes sense to do this when one wants a post to get more attention than it would if it was buried deep in another thread.
  22. There is a passage in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables about the battle of Waterloo that might be relevant here. Hugo describes the end of the battle, when the French forces are fleeing in panic, and only a few columns of elite, well disciplined soldiers remain in order to cover their retreat. They are constantly getting whittled down by enemy fire, but they keep fighting until there are only a handful of them left and they are all out of ammunition. The English cannons are loaded and ready to wipe them out, but the English soldiers are impressed by their bravery and offer them an opportunity to surrender; their leader just yells back "Merde!" Hugo argues that these are real winners of the Battle of Waterloo.
  23. Sometimes belief in God is dishonest, but not always. Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, Rand's favorite philosophers, both believed in God. Ayn Rand herself believed in God when she was young, as did Leonard Peikoff, who is the most prominent Objectivist philosopher alive today. When we reject belief in God, I think we are the beneficiaries of advancements in science and philosophy from over the past few hundred years that not everyone has fully grasped the ramifications of yet. It's not necessarily immoral if you can't see the flaw in the cosmological argument without help from the great philosophers of the past, any more than it's immoral to miss an error in a fallacious mathematical proof. Basically, your position amounts to the claim that every invalid concept is an inherently dishonest idea (to use Leonard Peikoff's term). That's just not true. But you are equating a logical mistake, forming an invalid concept, with deliberate dishonesty. They are not the same. They are irrational in the sense that they are using an invalid concept, and that there is a breach between their reasoning and the facts. That doesn't mean they are irrational in the sense of being immoral or dishonest - although, in some cases, they are.
  24. I don't agree with this account of the Objectivist ethics. It is a good piece of advice, epistemologically, but I don't think it is the basis for the distinction between morality and immorality, because you can unintentionally form invalid concepts. For example, many people who believe in God are basically honest, even though God is an invalid concept. I continue to find invalid and unexamined assumptions in my thinking on occasion, even years after learning of Objectivism. I'm not saying this is irrelevant to morality, it's just a really demanding standard to set. Almost everyone has some invalid concepts at work in their thinking.
  25. I think it's easier to say that suicide is always wrong when you are not in terrible pain. This is one of my issues with Stoicism - the Stoic implicitly argues "I can practice virtue now, so I could practice virtue under any circumstances, even in terrible pain." In practice, this is not the case, because there is no mind body dichotomy. When the body is subjected to terrible pain over a long period of time, the mind is unable to continue to function rationally and gradually becomes more and more detached from reality.