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  1. Hello all I was reading ITOE recently, and encountered the section in which Rand describes no one trait as contingent. The example she used specifically was man as a rational animal. She said that, though it is true that the referent for the concept "man" includes rational animal, all of the traits of man are included in the concept man. We can agree that men, at least normal ones, have two arms and two legs. The question then follows: are men lacking arms and/or legs no longer men in the same way that something no longer capable of rational thought would be a man? Does having one's arm cut off invalidate one's status as a member of mankind? Thank you for your replies. Zigs Edit: I did some more thinking, and wonder if perhaps the best answer is an additional descriptor. Because said armless person fits every other criterion for a an, would "armless person" be the descriptor, and so on and so forth? But then, once again, the question becomes where we have to stop with these descriptions and start a new concept. Is it two differences? Five? One hundred? Obviously any number is arbitrary.
  2. I'm always incredibly skeptical when any politician (Paul Ryan, Ronald Reagan (check page 282) Gary Johnson or any number of others) claims to support Objectivism or Ayn Rand. Typically (in fact, I can't think of a single time this has happened) they are not channeling her philosophy, but either a misunderstanding of it, have deep contradictions in their positions (being a devout Christian like Ted Cruz or anti-freedom in any number of ways), or are simply saying it as a "catchphrase" to attract people to their position. As far as I know, there are no major elected officials who are Objectivists or are even remotely consistent with the positions of Objectivism, so I am always weary when I hear of another who professes to be.
  3. That definition of certainty (ie: in the absence of omnipotence) seems problematic to me. With that definition, one, in the past, could have been "certain" of things simply because the evidence available does not contradict it. How can this certainty be justified if it could later be proven incorrect?
  4. Oftentimes in philosophy, one is confronted with skeptics, who argue that truth isn't anything more than a belief one thinks is justified (be it by reason, faith, whim, or "evidence," [which, the skeptic believes, begs the question of reliability of evidence.]) These skeptics attempt to undermine truth, asserting that, because its basis is exclusively belief, real truth cannot be reached. But is this skepticism valid? To attack the claims of these skeptics, one must understand the epistemological roots of truth. First, however, there is something that must be cleared up. Existence is primary. That is to say, existence exists, and it is the fundamental basis of the world. Consciousness is not primary. Though consciousness certainly exists, it cannot determine reality. I cannot simply will a chair blue, or out of existence. To change anything about reality, I must use my consciousness to generate change *using* reality (ie: I can make a chair blue, but I must paint it. I can destroy a chair, but only with tools like explosives.) Why is this relevant? It helps to assert the axiomatic nature of existence. Existence cannot be denied. To do so, one must use consciousness, logic, and evidence, all things that follow from the primary of existence, to deny it, confirming existence by attempting to deny it. The skeptic must declare that A is not A, that reality is not real, that both he and his ideas, his evidence and proof, is all not real. This is obviously problematic. Moving to the original point, with reality established, what is truth? Reality is not true, as truth is a concept built presupposing reality. To argue that reality is true is to support an inverted hierarchy of knowledge. Truth, instead, refers to a proposition that is backed by and consistent with reality. The proposition does not contradict reality, and it is logically consistent. How, then, can truth change over time? It doesn't. Truth does not change, simply what we believe to be true. "The Earth is flat" could have been believed to be true, as it did not contradict reality. However, as our evidence and understanding of the world and of space grew, the claim increasingly appeared to be false. This is how "truth" evolves over time, when really it is simply our evidence and understanding of it. Can, then, one consider anything truly true? Yes. Logical truth can exist. Induction is possible. However, scientific truths are slightly different. It is difficult for one to claim that any specific scientific prediction of the future is true. One can easily say "that rock fell." or "it is the only rational thing to believe the rock will fall when I drop it again." But being absolutely certain of it falling in the future is not possible, though it is irrational to believe otherwise. Truth is not based on whims or wishes. It is not "faith." Truth is objective. If a claim is verifiable confirmed by reality, and it is logically consistent without denying axioms, the claim is true. Truth is achievable. Skepticism is fundamentally irrational.
  5. Thank you all for your responses. I have read both what you have said on the topic and what Peikoff wrote in OPAR, and understand the Objectivist position on the arbitrary claim that Descartes makes. It is now more clear to me *why* I have no reason to believe this demon is possible at all, or to act on its conclusion. Zigs
  6. Hello all, I'm new to the forums, and relatively new to objectivism and philosophy as a whole (about a year of serious thinking.) The question I have is related to the infamous Cartesian demon. Descartes argues that it is impossible to truly know that the world around is is not some sort of illusion, perpetrated by some malicious demon or another. Moving beyond the mysticism of the demon, is there any way that one *can* be completely confident that the world is as we conceive it? Is it not possible that, even as our senses perceive something, there is an error of some sort or another in our conception that prevents us from correctly interpreting these senses? Thank you for your time. Zigs
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