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KALADIN

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KALADIN last won the day on March 8

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About KALADIN

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  1. Two quotes to begin. The first: “In general, it is absurd to make the fact that the things of this earth are observed to change and never to remain in the same state, the basis of our judgment about the truth. For in pursuing the truth one must start from the things that are always in the same state and suffer no change.” - Aristotle, Book 11, from his Metaphysics. Now the second: “Serenity comes from the ability to say ‘Yes’ to existence.” - Ayn Rand, 1973, from her essay “The Metaphysical versus the Man-Made”. Any science of first principles rightly supposes that the justificatory structure of our schemas and assertions are terminal. It would seem then that there ought to be a terminus of judgment also, for how is one to judge a thing which can not be justified, even in principle? Justification surely is a form of explanation, namely one which identifies a cause whose identification itself deals in adherence to a kind of normativity appropriate to the production of human knowledge. Aristotle points out that all explanation is in terms of something more fundamental, and nothing is truly capable of explaining itself, for nothing is more fundamental than itself - it simply is itself. It has seemed strange then to philosophers throughout history that those concepts and principles occupying the base of human knowledge, being capable neither of having explanation or justification, should still be the ultimate source of both, hence the perennial quest for and atheological concerns towards an explanation of something like Being as such. This sort of meta-attitude is not confined to metaphysics or what calls itself metaphysics. Indeed in Hume’s infamous passage about the inescapable bifurcation or rather the inexplicable marriage of descriptive and normative statements, we see the presence of an anxious, “something from nothing” worry more familiar to us in the context of discussions about God. We may find this sort of sentiment just as easily in epistemologies also of the last century, where neo-Kantians like Wilfred Sellars marshal the notion of inference as constitutive of the perceiving act so as to escape the undesirable conclusion that the perceptually given could at once be justificatory and non-propositional, i.e., not itself justified or justifiable. The ability of certain things to be a power unto themselves has always been met throughout history with skepticism and derision, especially by philosophers. While this fact may owe some to the prevalence and intuitive attractiveness of a naive necessitarian conception of causality (which itself necessarily invokes a prime mover), where the supposed constant conjunction of motion is appropriated as identifying the form of epistemic relations or ethical systems, I believe the source is more complicated in matter if not in form, and partly social. Namely, that in human interaction we constantly seek the identification of a final cause to explain the behavior of the human agents we interact with. And insofar as these motivations are explicit - as is the case with more noticeable, determined action - the cause can be expressed in propositional form, and we are thus loathe to think that any cause ought not to be able to expressed to one another someway, somehow. Even in relations lacking humans altogether, say perhaps the evolutionary development of an alternative organism, we identify the final cause of species survival and propagation as an explanatory summation of the efficient - and principally chemical - causes responsible for an organism’s biological integrity. We understand our mature language to be capable of reaching all corners of nature, both now, before, and forevermore. We understand and believe then that if there are no reasons to accept something, then there can certainly be no reasons not to reject it. And it is precisely here, in elevating a particularly - and this is key - conceptual mode of grasping existence to legislate what is and is not permissible to treat as existent that all philosophical hell breaks loose. The explicit error is thus: the holding of the man-made, for no conceptual artifact is necessary, to constrain the metaphysically given. That is, the total inversion of epistemological primacy, of treating not perception but conception as cognitively basic. There is really only one tradition in the history of philosophy which explicitly recognizes a kind of metaphysical acquiescence as the source of epistemological accuracy, and that is the Aristotelian one, of which Objectivism is a part. Just as Aristotle refuted logical determinism by affirming the direction of truth to move from the metaphysically given to the man-made, so we may chastise those anti-foundationalist tendencies which make much ado about the fact that those so-called primaries of cognition cannot be explained or justified, yet serve as the source of both; the primaries, insofar as they constitute an identification of the relation of man's necessary formatic apprehension (for to be aware is not merely to be aware of something, but to be aware of something somehow) of existence to existence are not to be judged. The man-made can not arbitrate how the metaphysically given ought to be, or how its epistemic status ought to present itself, indeed the very concept of “ought” is inapplicable. It as arbitrary to assert that because primaries are inexplicable they are somehow invalid or untrustworthy as it is to rule out the concept of “inertia” with Aristotelian physics. In both cases, perception, our primitive and primary contact with and awareness of reality - because it is metaphysically given and the identities of the human, sensory apparatus as well as the existents which act upon them are outside the power of human volition, of human making - vindicates what may be thought of as possible and trustworthy, and no more and no less. You may recall that I mentioned that there can be no reasons given not to reject the metaphysically given, and this is true unless those reasons are tied to some normative conception of what it is thought should be about and what it should serve. Indeed one is always free to ask: “why shouldn't I contradict myself?”. Objectivism has no answer to give this question save: man shall not live on thought alone, and if he is to acquire his bread also, he will need non-contradictory thought and a non-contradictory method to achieve it. Objectivism does not judge the metaphysically-given precisely because its recognition, its identification, is the means of making proper judgments about it, its very precondition. To say “yes” to the metaphysically-given is not to judge it as true or good, but to acknowledge the metaphysically-given fact that correspondence between and conformity of the metaphysically-given to the man-made is good or otherwise conducive to the survival of the man-made, and moreover still that the content of this relation is itself metaphysically-given. Objectivism does not promote an attitude of metaphysical acquiescence as true because it is good, but as good because it is true. Power over nature does not come from asserting man's omnipotence, but from asserting where and indeed how power is possible to him. To paraphrase Bacon: Nature, to be commanded, must not be judged.
  2. KALADIN

    Questions about Free Will and Morality

    I will take your ominous capitalization to mean the invocation of something divine, supernatural. Objectivism rejects the supernatural in every conceivable manifestation. But Rand does speak of man's "soul" and this she identifies with his consciousness. Humans make conscious choices by selecting from alternatives they are conscious of. Mere motivation is not a cause and awareness alone is not sufficient to guarantee selection. Were this previous statement false we could have no concept of falsity for the possession of mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive items is indeed a plurality, and the possession of one must necessarily precede the other; we become aware of one alternative first. This is yet another consequence of volition's status as an epistemological primary. No. The idea of volition cannot be disproved because volition is one of the root concepts that makes the idea of proof possible (and necessary). Proof is a species of validation, and all validating acts are volitional ones. The universe does not work "mechanically". Mechanical things work mechanically. Existents simply acts as they do and we may formulate principles of mechanics describing observed regularities but the regularities are themselves a consequence of the identities of the existents involved and not some supranatural artifact or principle constraining action. Identity constrains actions, and in turn the content of human principles; epistemic artifacts do not cause or constrain existential action. There is as much basis for treating the principles describing the regularities of differing existents as interchangeable or all-consuming as there is for treating the identities of the existents themselves as interchangeable, i.e., no basis at all. Volition is not in neurons, but a power possible to and activity of the human neuronal system as a whole. The neuronal action which underscores reflexivity and conscious recursion is and should be recognized as just as complicated and subtle as that which underscores self-animated thought yet the existence of the former only is treated as uncontroversial. This is a consequence of people having understood volition throughout history to be a particularly alien phenomenon. It is a biological one same as the rest. This is actually is an epistemological question which merely assumes ethics as its content. The answer is in the provision of an epistemological method and its adherence. That method is inherently normative. Please see Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology 2nd ed. for an idea of what the normativity of its basic units - its concepts - consists in.
  3. KALADIN

    The Law of Identity

    The fact that a living entity is implies only what it ought to do if it is to remain in existence and in the human case, if it chooses to remain in existence. Biological conditionality is the metaphysical basis for normatively valenced existents in an organism's umwelt but that metaphysical normativity for humans becomes immanent only where the man-made desire or otherwise prediscursive, voluntarist motivation to remain a biological entity is present. Ethics is not some categorical imposition and the choice to live is not the sort of thing that can be impugned as immoral; the choice to live is categorically a precondition of evaluation and so therefore its default can never be wrong for the victim, let alone categorically wrong. Lest these remarks tempt you into thinking there is then no way one can morally evaluate those individuals who might not choose to live (for whatever possible actions and duration that might mean), recall the agent-relative character of value, and realize that for those who do in fact choose to live, hardly anything could be more evil than those individuals who are indifferent to wanton destruction of themselves and the world around them insofar as they pose destructive consequences also for oneself. It is the same depersonalization of ethics that gives rise to thinking morality exists outside of individuals to accept and participate such a relation that gives rise also to thinking morality can not apply to those individuals who do not choose to accept and participate that relation. Ethics is about you. The Objectivist Ethics is addressed to you.
  4. KALADIN

    The Law of Identity

    The "endemic equivocation" you seem to be calling attention to is the popular conflation of "man's survival qua man" with and reduction to "man's de facto survival". This conflation mistakes the literally derivable survival requirements from man's nature to be necessarily constituted also of those activities which might happen to promote immediate survival. But Rand is not a consequentialist; there is no legitimate distinction between the value of a life - and its species-specific identity - and the values in a life. A further (sufficient) condition must be met by those aforementioned activities - that they be concomitant with reason. How a man's survival qua animal can be achieved bears nothing directly on whether or not man's survival qua rational animal is achieved. I have never seen or read anywhere David Kelley's failure to appreciate these distinctions, and am curious to know where you think he does fail in this regard.
  5. This level of context-dropping is near impossible to believe. I will simply assume you are a troll and move on.
  6. No you are again demonstrably wrong. Divergence, like "randomness", is entirely epistemological. Just how there are no violations of causality there are no magic, computational abrogations of what is programmed but only violations of what is thought to be potentially possible, or is intended, or is expected to happen. Your blatant confidence in your positions is profoundly unwarranted and your continued ability to neglect the substance of my responses non-conducive to your learning the genuine epistemological status of perception.
  7. Notice how that call depends crucially on you, on the importation of some knowledge of what is actually correct beyond the computer's defined inputs. Computers do not diverge from their inputted programming and so can neither err nor know. You've contributed nothing meaningful in your two replies to me thus far (demonstrative of your understanding in agreement or otherwise) and so I think I'll waste no further time entertaining your positions.
  8. Yes they do. One can not be mistaken, can not err, if there exists no choice concerning the adherence to what is correct. The "error" messages of computers symbolize only incomplete processes, not any divergence from the correct ones, i.e. not mistakes or errors. Your continual failure to observe the genetic roots and applicable contexts of the concepts you are using is frustrating and the root of your mistaken positions. Your "perfect" qualifier is invalid for there is no natural actualization of any sense modality that is not mediated by some sense organ, i.e. some incomplete, "imperfect" means of perception. Nature flies from the infinite, and I accuse of attempting to do epistemology without a knowing subject. See my remarks above and further, consider your invalid, implicit conflation of information and knowledge.
  9. Self-evidence is not something which can be assessed third-personally so with this question you are not asking how it is that the senses are self-evident but how it is that the senses can be self-evident. The senses are not actually in question here only your understanding of that fact. In his Metaphysics, Aristotle speaks to the things first and best known as being, in part, that about which it is impossible to be mistaken. To be potentially mistaken is to be fallible, but the concept of "fallible" is inapplicable to the physiological process of perception for this process is in no part volitional. Thus, the evidence of the senses can not be leveraged in genuine favor of any thesis claiming such evidence to ever be "fooling" or "misleading", for the relata necessary to distinguish between what one has or has not been fooled about is too an aspect of the evidence of the senses. The senses can not fool for they are silent. There can be no such thing as a non-veridical percept. Edit: spelling.
  10. I've been a bit busy and haven't had much time for thinking. Will respond when I have thoughts worth sharing.
  11. But they are dependent. Those "contradictory elements" Rand speaks to are necessarily held conceptually. Just as concepts are a form of awareness of existence, so contradiction is a form of awareness of consciousness, and the attempted union of concept and contradiction - an anti-concept - is an obstacle to awareness of existence (existence has no contradictions). For the attribution of acausality (the thesis I'm lambasting), the "disparate, incongruous, contradictory element" is the deployment of identity in opposition to causality. A concept which tries to integrate this impermissible, metaphysical divisibility can and should be designated an anti-concept. This is specifically why I included the phrase "[t]he adjectival form of "epiphenomenon", i.e., "the attribution of acausality", not a name. This is restating where I said, "the attribution of acausality contradicts the requirements of knowing an existent to attribute". The point was that knowledge-acquisition is a causal process, and an existent incapable of participating this process is an existent incapable of being knowingly attributed anything at all. I meant to say first*-person ontology. The fact that we both are and participate the systems which facilitate the capacity of self-awareness, that our knowing subject can at once be also object. Sorry for any confusion.
  12. This is precisely what I mean by "fundamentally acausal in the physical sense" and "an illusory and metaphysically impotent byproduct of our third-person ontology"; the motivation for ascriptions of acausality to something is the recognition of that something's ability to "violate causality". I suppose I can appreciate your providing a more meticulous description of the thesis I'm arguing against though. Do you have anything to say about the argument itself?
  13. Introduction: By "epiphenomenonal" I do not mean those perfectly valid descriptions appropriate to the context of physics and biology to articulate those phenomena which can be termed non-primary insofar as their effects are correlated with some relevant primary effects, but are not suspected to be their cause (see: Epiphenomenon subsections "Medicine" and "Electromagnetism"). Instead I mean the usage common to materialist theories of mind, i.e. the doctrine that consciousness exists, but is fundamentally acausal in the physical sense (as though there could exist some rupture between physicality and causality). In this sense consciousness does not affect the brain in any meaningful way, but is "epiphenomenal" - an illusory and metaphysically impotent byproduct of our third-person ontology. Argument: "Epiphenomenon" in this sense is an anti-concept, and more specifically, a stolen concept. When speaking to the referents of the concept of "nothing" in the appendix to Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Ayn Rand describes such negative concepts as "purely relative". She remarks later on that "[n]on-existence - apart from what it is that doesn't exist - is an impossible concept. It's a hole - a literal blank, a zero". In our case of the concept "epiphenomenon", the relative distinction has been collapsed - the referent in question is both "non existent" and the "what it is". The omissions relevant to the formation of the concept "nothing" are the totality of the measurements belonging to the existents whose absence is being signified. The omissions relevant to the the formation of the concept "being" are the the totality of the measurements of the measurements belonging to the existents whose existence is being signified. In collapsing the just-mentioned distinction, the measurements and the measurement's measurements become one, absolving the relative character needed to produce anything of sense about an absence of being. This "sense" derives from the existent (read: causal) nature of all productions of knowledge and principles known. Put very simply, the attribution of acausality contradicts the requirements of knowing an existent to attribute. The absoluteness of reality and the principle of no metaphysical hierarchies guarantees the nonexistence of any gradations of existence, including the gradations of existence relative to putatively known existents. Conclusion: The adjectival form of "epiphenomenon" common to those materialist fetishizations of the human mind's nonexistence is an anti-concept, and just another poor way (albeit a fashionable one) of attempting to side-step the axiom of consciousness.
  14. KALADIN

    Peikoff's Dissertation

    Where do you see this?
  15. I've taken a look at everyone else's replies but the answer seems rather simple: the domains of emotion and evaluation are not the sole cause of their correlated physiological responses, e.g., nocturnal erections, tearing from sulfur compounds (onions), circadian clocks, etc. For these examples there are no reasons to attribute lust, sadness, or boredom as cause. With the utter normality in the animal kingdom of infant vocalizations being an invitation for caregiving I see no reason to chalk up to an emotional faculty what can be attributed to evolution.
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