Objectivism Online Forum

# SpookyKitty

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1. ## Universals

It isn't true that a universal which is never instantiated is unknowable. Some universals can be grasped without ever witnessing their particulars. Knowledge of their existence can be inferred from knowledge of other universals. For example, I have never seen (and will probably never see) a collection of 10^10^10^10^10 things. Nonetheless, I know that the universal corresponding to that number must exist because its existence can be inferred from the laws of arithmetic. When a universal becomes instantiated, it itself does not change in any way. It is the particular(s) embodying the universal that change(s). What causes particulars to change are causal forces exerted by other particulars. Hence, it would be far more sensible to say that particulars cause other particulars to instantiate universals.
2. ## Universals

Yes, I would say that universals exist even if they are not instantiated.
3. ## Universals

I believe that universals do not have causal powers or spatial location. I don't know if the set of universals is identical to the set of things which don't have cause powers or spatial location.
4. ## Universals

A seed is a potential tree, and once it becomes an actual tree, it is no longer a potential tree. A universal which was not instantiated but then later becomes instantiated does not cease to be a universal. Therefore, a universal cannot be a potential particular.
5. ## Universals

I would agree that knowing means that there is a mental entity that corresponds to what is out there, but not that there is a mental entity which is literally identical to what is out there. My mind contains representations of apples, but not literal apples.
6. ## Universals

I don't know what led you to believe that I believe that, but no.
7. ## Universals

Universals exist "out there" and they are decidedly not mental entities. If your question is how can we use our senses to detect the existence of universals, then your question is how can we use our senses to detect the existence of things which are not sensible. The question of the existence of universals is a philosophical one, not a scientific one. Observation cannot decide it one way or the other. The only way to know about them is to use reason.
8. ## Universals

Aristotle was the first to deal with this problem. He pointed out that ancient Greek (and also modern English) do not distinguish between the "is" of predication and the "is" of identity. When this distinction is made, the sentence "The apple is red" is understood as red(apple), while the sentence "the apple is California" becomes identity(apple, California). When understood properly, every predication expresses a universal. Supposing that it is true that predicate clauses do not refer to any aspect of reality "out there", why can't the exact same argument be made for subject clauses? In that case, reality would consist of neither particulars nor universals. And unless you can somehow provide a coherent account of it without using either of these things, it seems we're doomed to a sort of extreme skepticism. I think you are putting the cart before the horse. It's not that universals exist because human languages have predicates, but that human languages have predicates because universals exist. This passage is, in my opinion, unrelated to the discussion. Nonetheless, this is an opportunity to put into writing what I think is wrong with it. Peikoff fails to distinguish between events and facts (specifically the fact of the occurrence of an event with the event itself). Notice that he switches from talking about what is the case to what occurs. Facts do not "occur" nor are they "caused". These are aspects of events. Furthermore, facts are not limited to being merely about events or particulars. Facts can also be about universals (that is, about properties of and relations among particulars). Here's an interesting example of this sort of fact: "The number five is prime". This sentence does not refer to anything that happens. Nor does it refer to any ordinary thing. The number five is a universal. The predicate "is prime" is a higher-order universal. Note that this fact cannot be reduced to facts about ordinary objects. If we have five apples, it would be absurd to say that it is some property of the individual apples that makes their number prime.
9. ## Universals

Alright here is an example: Suppose we have an apple which is red. Now consider the true statement, "The apple is red." This sentence identifies a fact. It is a true statement about a real thing having a real property, because the apple would still be there and would still be red even if no one was there to look at it. The subject of the sentence is "the apple" and it refers to the apple. Furthermore, the apple is a real thing to which the subject of the sentence refers. The aspect of reality that "the apple" refers to is a particular. And what about the predicate? Surely, if the sentence identifies a fact, then the predicate must also refer to some aspect of reality. The aspect of reality that the predicate "is red" refers to is a universal. Take note of the differences between the particular and the universal. The particular is always the subject of a sentence. Things may be "said of" it, but it may not be "said of" other things. For example, it doesn't make sense to say that "The dog the apple". Furthermore, it exists in exactly one place at any one time. The universal, by contrast, is always the predicate of a sentence. But it may exist identically in multiple situations. For example, it could also be true that "The fire-hydrant is red." I say "exists identically" because when I say that the fire-hydrant is red and that the apple is also red, I am not referring to different kinds of redness or different reds. I mean that both things have the same color. Thus, reality is not a mere assortment of particulars. It is a structure consisting of particulars "connected" to each other by universals (not only properties but also relations are universals, e.g. "The apple is above the table."). Facts are the elements of this structure, and true sentences are true by virtue of correctly representing this structure, that is, by identifying facts. If universals did not exist in this sense, but were merely mental-objects such as concepts, then it would make no sense to say that the statement "The apple is red" is true in a mind-independent way. For if there were no minds, then there would be no "is red".
10. ## Universals

That's the wrong question to ask. If you want me to understand your arguments against the existence of universals, you're going to have to use the word "universals" in its standard sense. Why not read Aristotle, if you really want to know?
11. ## Universals

I think you are seriously confused. Universals can't "represent" anything. They aren't symbols.
12. ## Universals

I was referring to actual birds, not the word "birds". The concept of "nothing" is not a universal since it can't be predicated of anything. Probably not. @human_murda You are confused about what a universal is: You are confusing universals with pluralities. When talking about the universal which is found in all humans, it is better to use the word "manness" rather than "man". "Manness" more closely captures the idea behind a universal. Note that it makes no sense whatsoever to say that "'manness' itself died" but that it does make sense to say that "All of humanity died". tl;dr: You have to be careful to always distinguish between a plural subject and a predicate. The comparison is about the relation of facts to kinds of statements and has nothing to do with universals.
13. ## Universals

The issue is with the usage of the word "fact". Facts aren't ordinary things like birds. Facts are always about something. There are facts about birds, but birds aren't about anything. So if we ask, what are the facts you refer to about? Since you don't believe that universals exist, they can't be about anything. Therefore, they are not facts. What you have are mere beliefs about sets (the sets being mental constructs) of particulars. ------- A universal is something that can be predicated of other things and can exist identically in multiple contexts (e.g. "green").
14. ## Universals

Can you point to where, exactly? Because I think that you have solved the wrong problem. To me at least, it seems extremely obvious that if universals are not real, then there can be no facts about them. So when you claim that there are no real universals and also that there are facts about them, etc. to me it sounds like you're claiming that you've done something that is impossible.
15. ## Universals

If there is no fact of the matter, then you cannot POSSIBLY have a justification. For example, consider the statement "The current King of France is bald." You cannot be justified in believing this statement nor its negation because there simply is no current King of France.
16. ## Universals

@Eiuol I think Intrinsicist is saying that while you can make inferences about new winged things, you are not justified in doing so, because there is no universal "out there" which could serve as the subject of your universal judgments about winged things. That is, according to Intrinsicist, since you don't believe in real universals, you would have to concede that there is no fact of the matter in a statement such as "all winged things fly", even though there is a fact of the matter in ALL statements such as "this winged thing flies", "that winged thing flies" (where 'this' and 'that' refer to specific given winged things).
17. ## Using geometry to fight gerrymandering

Definition of gerrymandering- The practice of redrawing district boundaries so as to maximize the number of seats that the incumbent party gets in a state legislature and to minimize the amount of seats of the opposing party. I didn't say it was bad. I just don't see any reason at all why it would be good, let alone why we should oppose any attempts to stop it.
18. ## Using geometry to fight gerrymandering

Why do you feel the need to be so cloak and dagger about it? Just say what you think.
19. ## Using geometry to fight gerrymandering

Wait, why exactly don't we want to stop gerrymandering?
20. ## Dealing with the Hostile Reader

Don't worry about it, MisterSwig. I, for one, don't think Invictus' accusations have any merit. Fuck, everyone is guilty of misreading someone else's posts at some point or another (such tiny incidents hardly amount to wanton irrationality). Welcome to the internet, Invictus. Grow a thick skin or gtfo.
21. ## Universals

That just pushes the problem one step further backward.
22. ## Universals

This is wrong. Knowledge of a thing does not imply the existence of that thing, since you can have knowledge about things which don't exist (e.g. fictional worlds).
23. ## The Anti-Concept of Anti-Reference; Paradox

Actually, it does not lead to a contradiction, it leads to a paradox. That statement cannot be evaluated as either true or false, whereas contradictions always evaluate to false. This argument does not work, because there are sentences which are self-referential and can be evaluated.
24. ## The Anti-Concept of Anti-Reference; Paradox

It would help to know what aspect(s) of it you take issue with. I'm not at all sure what point you are trying to make here. What is the difference between A and "A"? What do you mean by the quotation marks? No, we can't, which is my point. If we could, then we would end up in a contradiction as the OP shows. What happens is that we can verify that A refers to X if, indeed, A refers to X, but if A does not refer to X, then in at least some instances we cannot verify that A does not refer to X. Since we cannot always identify the non-referents of a concept, that means that we cannot always evaluate the denial of a proposition.
25. ## Fallacy of Pure Self reference

The statement "This statement is true" can be evaluated and is, in fact, true. if it were false, then the statement "This statement is false" would be true. But that's a contradiction. So it must be that "This statement is true" is true.
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