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intrinsicist

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  1. Great question. Have you read The Romantic Manifesto? Rand talks about the origins of emotion in one's thinking and philosophical premises, and especially in one's metaphysics and metaphysical value judgements. You can become psychologically and emotionally twisted out of sync with reality through contempt for your own nature, the nature of man, or the nature of reality. This sort of malevolence is the place to start. The proper attitude in Objectivism is called the Benevolent Universe premise. So try to start looking at the world as a place that is intrinsically good, and at human nature as intrinsically good. Human nature naturally pairs us into male / female couples, and there is deep complementarity in that pairing, rationally, functionally, aesthetically, psychologically, socially, and so on. The level of meaning and value in that complementarity is surprisingly deep, I dont know if anyone has fully developed that idea yet. It's a moral ideal that you should strive for.
  2. intrinsicist

    Universals

    @Eiuol I'm not sure you've addressed my argument. Your position is that even without metaphysical universals you can define a category in your mind, and accumulate instances which fit that category, but my argument is that without a metaphysical universal, there's no way to infer anything about future instances of that category, besides merely the criteria on which you've grouped them (which is simply tautologically true). You know in analytic synthetic dichotomy, Peikoff talks about how a nominalist forms categories that are merely tautologically true, as in you can't get anything out of them that you haven't already defined? It seems like you're backed into a corner: either there is something both metaphysical and universal and thus it's justifiable to infer more than a tautology about instances that you haven't already seen, or else if there is nothing both metaphysical and universal, and then you cannot possibly be justified in inferring anything but tautology about things which you haven't already seen. The thing is, I'm unclear which side of the dichotomy I'm presenting that you are trying to take. You do believe that you can infer non-tautological things about future instances from your epistemic categories, correct? Do you agree that there are things that hold universally in reality (by "universally" I mean in all cases / at all times, i.e. it's possible to identify some things that are always true in reality outside of tautologies)? If so, then these things, whatever they are, are both metaphysically real and universal. It's not a mere epistemic category or a tautology, but rather it's true in reality. Doesn't this amount to a realist/intrinsicist answer to the problem of universals? Because I mean, if you believe things can be metaphysical and universal, and you believe that you can justifiably infer things about instances you haven't yet observed, then that sounds consistent between metaphysics and epistemology - and contrary to the strong statements Rand made in ITOE against universals, like, "...“manness” in man and “roseness” in roses. I was arguing with him that there is no such thing". Or is the amount of metaphysical universality that you believe in not sufficient to cover cases like "manness" or "roseness"?Because it's like, if you say you believe in things that are metaphysical and universal, and you are thus justified in making inferences, but then you deny such things as "man" or "rose", etc., have any metaphysical universal grounding, then you aren't justified in making inferences on those things or things like them. Which would really impoverish your position back down again. So it's really a question of, well what's left that is universal? Because that's the limit of what you're going to be justified in making inferences about. And if you are taking out "man" or "rose", that really doesn't bode well for you philosophically, I mean the entire realm of ethics and politics deals with the nature of man and what you can infer about man universally. So you basically eliminate any justifiable theory of ethics or politics applicable to all men. I'm not hung up on calling it "a universal" or "manness", what I'm stuck on is the issue of, "is there actually anything that's universally true in reality?". That's the important sense of "manness" that's at issue here.
  3. intrinsicist

    When to take time off

    I do it every few years. Take a year or two sabbatical now and then. Saving enough money for permanent retirement is a very long-term prospect.
  4. intrinsicist

    Intro to Objectivist Epistemology

    Rand only wrote an introduction to epistemology (and no more than a few statements on metaphysics).
  5. intrinsicist

    Objective Black and White Ideals

    First and foremost Ayn Rand lists life as an end in itself. Her argument in The Objectivist Ethics is that: That is, moral principles derive from the nature of Man, because is implies ought. It's not just limited to life, she goes on: So you can derive a list of specific, objective values and ideals by reference to the nature of Man, and what it means to live like a man - and that means all the characteristics of man's nature - not just his survival as a living organism or his rational faculty. Ayn Rand lists seven major virtues in Atlas Shrugged: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride. Another more specific example like "life", would be one's sex, which means a couple of key things, like living as man or a woman accordingly, and learning to follow the principles of masculinity and femininity. It also means pursuing the ideal of heterosexual marriage and procreation. These are objective moral principles and ideals, guidelines for how to live, and how to give emphasis, optimization, beauty, etc, that follow from important aspects of human nature and identity. These would be like any other aspects of morality, they are not optional, or dependent upon someone's subjective whim, and going against them would be immoral and self-sacrificial.
  6. intrinsicist

    Universals

    Of course I agree that would would be a contradictory position to hold, if you are also assuming that the only thing that exists are concrete, physical objects extended in space. My claim here goes against that assumption. I am arguing for the metaphysical existence of universals, i.e. existents which are not concrete, physical objects extended in space. You are asserting the opposite position that I am taking. I've made a number of arguments for my position throughout this thread, so please take a look and let me know what you think of them. SpookyKitty seems to be the only one who has clearly understood what I'm saying so far.
  7. intrinsicist

    Universals

    Louie, I understand that. You can define a category of "winged things" which is open-ended, and therefore includes all winged things you've yet to observe. What I don't understand is why you aren't proceeding to my next question from there, as it is still unanswered. The question is regarding your belief that "any new particulars added to the set will behave as the rest of the set". Obviously any new instance added to the set will have wings, but what else can you say of it besides that? I'm suggesting that without such a thing as a natural class, that you are merely forming a nominal category, in other words the category is merely analytical, and the only thing you can infer from classifying something as a "winged thing" is that it has wings. Which is of course useless. If there is no natural kind backing the concept, then there's no justification for inferring anything beyond what you've already defined. If on the other hand your concepts are identifying a natural kind, then there's a necessary connection between all particulars in the set, from which you can justifiably infer things like "any new particulars added to the set will behave as the rest of the set". Do you understand this distinction here at least? I've been trying to describe these two fundamentally different ideas of concepts/universals, and how very different they are philosophically.
  8. intrinsicist

    Universals

    Again, I already understand what you're saying. You've defined some set of particulars - not a universal set, but a finite set - and you've identified some invariant facts about that set - which are not universals, but rather they are just abstract properties of that particular set. And again, the question I'm asking is, how can you extend that to particulars outside of your cherry-picked set? You're telling me it "stands for" an unlimited range of things abstractly, but concretely it only refers to some particular set of items you've already identified. How do you know that the abstraction you've come up with actually does apply to the full range of things that it stands for? You believe that, so apparently you do believe that you're identifying a universal in reality. Call it what you want - it functions as a universal. It abstractly identifies something in reality that is timeless, something where instances at all times and in all cases will behave in this same way. If you're trying to extend your abstraction across all instances at all times, and out into reality (in the sense that you actually believe that it will predict the future behavior of things in reality), then you are talking about something that is metaphysical and universal. A nominalist is someone who rejects that any such thing is metaphysically possible or epistemologically justifiable. If you deny the existence of universals metaphysically, then there's no reason to believe that your abstraction will extend beyond the range of the small set of particulars it currently refers to (and certainly not to believe that you have knowledge or certainty about it). In that case these "universal" epistemological abstractions don't provide knowledge, you can't have certainty about them - and indeed the opinion of a nominalist is that the use of or belief in such "epistemological universals" is foolish and counter-productive, after all, what's the point in having or believing in some "timeless essential" if it's not referring to something that is actually timeless in reality? These universal abstractions actually distort your view of reality since there are no such things. All you have are retrospective categories of reference guided by pragmatism. Again, as I've been saying, nominalists of all kinds own up to this and wear it proudly, declaring that all that is possible to man are pragmatically guided categories and statistical correlations, and that belief in concepts, in universals that actually hold in reality, is akin to a religious fantasy which we must break ourselves from and "be real". So you really have to pick a side here. Either you believe that there are these knowable universals which actually hold in reality, or else that there is no such thing. You can't keep telling me that there is nothing in reality which holds universally, but that you can still have knowledge of things which hold universally. You can't. You either need to own up to your metaphysical stance epistemologically, or own up to your epistemological stance metaphysically. You can't have it both ways. You can't steal the concept of metaphysical universality in your epistemology while denying it in your metaphysics - not if you're being honest with yourself. Either you have a merely pragmatic stance (i.e. "I'll hold this as if it's a universal, even though I don't believe in such things, since that seems to work well") in which case you ought to own up to that epistemologically as a nominalist, or else you do believe that universal knowledge is possible but you're operating on a stolen metaphysical premise, in which case you ought to own up to that metaphysically as an intrinsicist. Given the absurdity and incoherence of the former, I'd suggest going with intrinsicism.
  9. intrinsicist

    Universals

    I understand that's what you're going for, but my question here has been: how is that possible? How can a symbol meaningfully stand for an unlimited range of yet-to-be-observed particulars without relying on a real universal, some real property that makes them what they are, with which we can make universal claims about all such instances? It seems like you run into the same problems whether you're talking about things you're "referring to" or things that the symbol "stands for", I'm not seeing what that distinction buys you here. Based on what in reality? You're telling me there's this "something" in reality which makes all instances which have this "something" identical by nature. That's an exact description of a real universal! I would agree that this is clearly what she is implicitly relying on in numerous places in the book (and in many derivative ways throughout Objectivist philosophy), and yet she specifically rejects the reality of these metaphysical universals, these "timeless essentials" which man "recognizes", the "treeness" in tree or "manness" in man, etc. The issue here, both with you and with Rand, is the reliance on the real universals while denying them.
  10. intrinsicist

    Universals

    Sure, the concept tree refers to all particular trees that have ever existed or ever will exist. That's not "just a similarity", what you are describing is exactly what is meant by a "metaphysical universal", when all trees share this identical property of "treeness", this common denominator that makes a tree a tree. If such a common denominator exists, if there is such an abstract property of "treeness" that all trees share, then what we are dealing with is a real universal. What you are expressing is exactly the confusion and contradiction present in ITOE. Rand rejects the existence of real universals, of "treeness" in trees, and yet what she tries to capture in her concepts are real abstract properties shared by all particulars, so that the concept may refer to all the particulars of the kind that have ever existed or will ever exist. She rejects real universals, but relies on them implicitly.
  11. intrinsicist

    Universals

    So you're telling me that by "universals" you are merely referring to sets of observed particulars. And you're saying that "the facts don't change" and therefore there's no issue - but what do the facts buy you? How do you interpret anything you observe, how do you predict the future, how do you classify anything new, when you can't infer anything in general about reality? The "man" you've classified today might have nothing to do with the next particular you observe. The ball you're observing in one moment tells you nothing about what you might observe in the next moment. Any particular, any moment that you've yet to observe, you can't say anything about it, because your classifications are all retrospective, they only refer to the particulars you've already observed ("we cannot refer to things we don't know of"). The length "epistemic universal" you invented today can't tell you anything about the length you'll observe tomorrow, because you're telling us that you're not inducing any necessary connection, anything general about reality itself, you're just cataloging regularities in your experiences. You are just making retrospective statistical observations - the moment you start talking about length - every property of length in all places and all times - then you're talking about a universal property out in reality, a metaphysical universal, which is exactly what you're rejecting. "I don't understand how we -could- refer to all particulars. That would be further from reality." -- and this is exactly the nominalist opinion on concepts. If all we can refer to are particulars, then concepts (e.g. Man, referring to all men who have ever lived and will ever live), actually distort our view of reality, since it's not really like that. I'm just telling you that calling your epistemic categories "concepts" or "universals" is mistaken. You shouldn't try to claim any of the positive results Ayn Rand tries to claim, like solving the problem of induction, the ability to have conceptual knowledge or certainty about reality, etc. None of this is really consistent with your real view; you are a skeptic about any general statement about reality, a nominalist who believes in categories of convenience, and your epistemic standard (and thus, necessarily, your moral and political standard) is subjective and pragmatic. There are plenty of people who own up to holding exactly this view, like Gordon Stein, or Sam Harris. I'm just asking you to be clear and honest with yourself on exactly where you stand. If on the other hand you are not truly a skeptic about reality, if deep down you really do believe we can know things that are necessary and certain and universal, then we need to start talking about the metaphysics of universals. Either way there's an inconsistency in Ayn Rand's thinking.
  12. intrinsicist

    Universals

    Honestly I don't think you've done either of these things. First you got distracted by me naming intrinsicism in particular, then you've pummeled me with questions about the details of intrinsicist metaphysics. But nothing I've actually argued depends on any of that. I've made a specific criticism of Objectivist metaphysics which nobody seems to have yet clearly understood, let alone attempted to counter. The closest thing I've seen is the Harry Binswanger thing you quoted, "To be nothing in particular is to be nothing at all--i.e., not to be." -- but that just seems like an assertion that universals aren't real, I don't see that that's an argument in favor of that assertion. As for "the concretes referred to by a concept have to be identical in some respect, as if all shades of blue were identical, all lengths were identical, etc." - obviously that's a silly straw man, the point is that the abstract attribute of blue or of length is held in common by the particulars, not the exact shade or measure of their lengths. Again, he doesn't seem to understand the Realist position that he's criticizing at all, he seems to be just assuming that only particular concrete objects are real, and therefore concludes that universals must be "nothing". The fact that we can perceive things as similar, that we can isolate the abstract property of length which things have in common, seems to demonstrate that. Obviously I can't go around and show you all men who have ever lived and who ever will live. I can't physically show you an infinite set to prove a universal inductively. That's like asking me to prove that a^2 + b^2 = c^2 by calculating the formula for all natural numbers. Either you presuppose universality in the first place, and thus are capable of arriving at a universal inductively without observing an infinite number of instances, or else you presuppose that universals aren't real in the first place, in which case absurdity follows (in the problem of induction, subjectivism, and all of the other problems I've been arguing). Likewise, Rand's stated position is that universals aren't real, and thus there's no way to arrive at a universal inductively. Rand's argument in ITOE in which she describes how to arrive at certainty about the boiling point of water by referencing knowledge about the behavior of H20 molecules is an infinite regress - because the natural next question is how does one arrive at universal knowledge of the behavior of H20 molecules? When Rand describes acquiring knowledge about the abstract property of length, or certainty about the boiling point of water, or maintaining a non-contradictory definition of man despite a changing context of knowledge, she is implicitly relying on the belief that there are universals (length, water, man), contra her own stated position on the subject.
  13. intrinsicist

    Universals

    Eioul, the issue is absolutely whether or not there is anything in reality that holds universally. I'm not following why you're suggesting that's not the issue here. I'm trying to interpret what you are saying in a way that isn't blatantly contradictory - after all, if there's a "universal aspect of things", how could you also say that "the aspect itself isn't the universal"? I'm guessing what you mean by a "universal aspect of things", is some aspect that holds for all particulars in a given set. But the "recognition of invariant facts about sets of particulars" is not a universal unless the "set of particulars" you're referring to, is the universal set of all particulars, as in, "for all X, such and such holds". Saying merely "for this specific set of particulars, such and such holds", is not a universal claim, it's just a claim about some particular group of things. So this is precisely the issue here. Rand denies real universals quite explicitly, as I quoted here. She believes everything in reality is particular, that there is in reality no "manness" in man which applies universally for all men at all times, but rather the concept "man" is merely our way of organizing the particulars we see around us into a mental grouping. So as the set of particulars we have observed changes and the context of our knowledge expands, so too must change our definition of "man". In ITOE, Rand writes that, contra Aristotle's intrinsicist philosophy, Rand specifically rejects the notion that there is a metaphysical essence, i.e. that particulars are instances of real universals, universals which hold at all times and for all of the particulars of that kind. On the contrary, our concepts are only "universal" over the total set of of our observations. But this is not the universal set! This isn't guaranteed by any metaphysical principle to hold at all times and for all instances in reality. Concepts in this view aren't describing something that holds abstractly in reality, they are just describing something that holds abstractly over the particular, delimited set of observations which we've accumulated thus far. So these Objectivist concepts aren't universals. Rand doesn't refer to them as such. She only uses the word "universal" in this sense in a couple of places in the book, and exclusively in the context of specifically pointing out how the Objectivist view differs from the Intrinsicist view in holding that there are no real universals.
  14. intrinsicist

    Universals

    No, not in the sense I've been exhaustively explaining here. And the distinction is important, because the only alternative to basing your philosophy on real universals is subjectivism, as I was arguing in the original thread: I'm hoping we come back to my arguments here, I don't have anything to contribute right now regarding your comments on "objective (metaphysical) idealism", as you call it.
  15. intrinsicist

    Universals

    I don't know what that is. I've been making a case for universals being metaphysically real, as against Rand's position that they are merely epistemological.
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