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Everything posted by MisterSwig

  1. Universals

    This thread is devoted to the nature and problem of universals, particularly in relation to the Objectivist theory of concept-formation. What are universals? What is the problem related to them? I'll begin with the Wikipedia entry--to present the issue as neutrally as possible. A universal is something that particular things have in common. This common something can be a kind of thing, a property of a thing, or a relation of a thing. Beyond that, there are theories about the further identification of universals, because it is not obvious how we have knowledge of them or where they even come from. This leads into the essential problem of universals. The problem arises from the fact that we observe similarity, yet every kind, property, or relation of a thing is a unique, particular kind, property, or relation. Thus, how do we get from awareness of particulars to awareness of similarities? From knowledge of specifics to knowledge of universals? The problem begins simply with the recognition of similarity, or commonality. It doesn't begin with an explanation or location for universals. It doesn't say that universals exist in this way or that way, or that they're located in here or over there. But it does acknowledge the existence of particular things which can be similar in some respect. And it also acknowledges a consciousness capable of identifying similarity. Where anyone's theory goes from there is not the problem of universals, but an attempt at solving it. If anyone disagrees so far, please present the problem as you see it. Otherwise, in a day or two, I'll move on and address the argument presented by Intrinsicist elsewhere.
  2. In the November 1966 issue of The Objectivist, Ayn Rand wrote: It might be said that fifty years ago nominalists self-identified as "non-binary definitionists." True and false pertained to propositions, but not definitions. A proposition suggests mere possibility, but a definition suggests actual certainty. And certainty implies knowledge of reality. If the goal is to enslave people's minds, then you certainly don't want to encourage them to pursue knowledge of reality. Fast forward fifty years to today, and the nominalists' appetite for slavery has turned to the social-political realm. Now they self-identify as "non-binary genderists." Male and female pertain to propositions, but not definitions; the mind, which possibly reflects reality, but not the body, which certainly reflects reality. If the goal is to enslave people's bodies, then you certainly don't want to encourage them to pursue knowledge of reality. Slavery is about controlling people's minds and bodies. Nominalism is a philosophy of slavery. A nominalist wants to be a master, a ruler of humans. And so he places himself above normal humans, both mentally and physically. Mentally he is a "non-binary" word-maker, whose speech must not be questioned. And physically he is a "non-binary" entity, whose very identity must not be questioned. When he says he is this or that, then he is this or that. And if he orders you to call him she or they, then your duty is to call him she or they. For he is the master, and you are the slave. He is a member of the "non-binary" royal family. And you are part of the lowly, unenlightened "binary" or "cisgender" class. If Rand were alive, she might say that nominalism has managed to reach an even deeper depth than anyone ever imagined possible. Verbal and sexual aberrants are being crowned as intellectual and moral superiors. And we, the normal ones, are the tolerated clown jesters of the circus kingdom. Drag queens and miladyboys. Bow down to your new rulers!
  3. A Complex Standard of Value

    There has been some great discussion about values lately, and so I'd like to present a brief case for my notion of a complex standard of value. Any feedback or criticism would be appreciated. This is only the beginning of a work in progress. I start with the idea that humans have three basic aspects: the physical, the mental, and the biological. Also, for each aspect we can hold a separate standard of value. For the physical it's pleasure over pain; for the mental, it's knowledge over ignorance; and for the biological, it's health over sickness. Next, many people seem to believe that man is primarily one of these aspects, while the others are secondary. They argue for what I call a simple standard of value. If man is primarily physical, then his standard of value is pleasure. If he's primarily mental, then his standard is knowledge. And if man is primarily biological, then the standard is health. I call such positions the Simple Man Fallacy. It means taking the standard of value for one aspect of man and applying it to the whole person. I suppose it's an example of the fallacy of composition. I believe it is critical that we form a complex standard of value which integrates the three standards of man's existence: pleasure, knowledge, and health. Rand of course argued for the standard of value being man's life. But there is much confusion over what that means precisely. She said it means: "that which is required for man's survival qua man." And what does that mean? She explained: This is a complex answer that is difficult to digest. For example, how do we figure out which terms, methods, conditions and goals are required for our survival as a rational being? Well, to answer that question, I suggest we consider in equal measure the three basic aspects of our existence: the physical, the mental, and the biological. We should formulate a complex standard of value which integrates our critical needs for pleasure, knowledge, and health.
  4. Let's not forget the other targets of 9/11: the Pentagon and the White House.
  5. Circumstantial evidence points to an orchestrated effort to remove Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her friends in the DNC. People try to link the DNC email theft to an attack on Hillary, but it was aimed at the DNC leadership, and resulted in the resignations of several top DNC officials. The stolen emails were dated up to May 25, 2016, which happened to be during the very vocal campaign to undermine DWS's position as DNC chair. Consider this CNN article, DNC Chair On Thin Ice, which was published (coincidentally?) on May 25, and near the end cites three anonymous "Democrats with ties to the party's power centers." Two months later DWS was gone, indeed, after a very "messy" ordeal during the national convention. And her departure was very much seen as a sacrifice to Bernie's altar. Hillary was then immediately allowed to hire DWS for her campaign, and Bernie supported Hillary. On the surface the Party was one big, happy family again. So, I guess the Democrats should be thanking the Russian hackers for intervening and helping get rid of unwanted Party leaders who might have cost Hillary even more Berniebot votes in November.
  6. Universals

    How do you get from "we act based on mental entities" to "mental entities have causal power over decisions"? If I act based on what my girlfriend tells me, does that mean she has causal power over my decisions? Or does it mean she has influence over me? If I were willing to accept the consequences, I could simply ignore my girlfriend. Likewise, I could ignore my mental entities. I don't have to do everything that pops into my head. Or even everything I want to do. Right now I want to go have a meal, but I could starve myself for a couple days before hunger pain would finally compel me to find some food. So, aren't mental entities more influential than causal when it comes to volitional action?
  7. Universals

    You present an example (the abyss) where the subject's life depends on the choice, and he knows the life-saving option (don't take a step forward). But what if he doesn't know the correct choice? What if he's stuck on an island and manages to build a makeshift rowboat. However, he doesn't know which direction is the mainland. So does he head toward the rising sun, the setting sun, or something in between? And what if his life does not depend on the choice? Let's say he's sitting at a table preparing to eat at a restaurant. On his plate are a steak, mashed potatoes, and asparagus. They all look very good. Which item does he taste first?
  8. Dealing with the Hostile Reader

    Actually I am Invictus' one and only example of an alleged "hostile reader." So, yeah, I think this thread is all about me. And thus my perspective is singularly relevant to this topic. If you want to provide a different example, I'll gladly discuss that person.
  9. Dealing with the Hostile Reader

    There are anti-Objectivists in this community. Some very openly hostile to Rand. We will remain impotent as long as we morally tolerate them. I don't think it's necessary to ban them, but we should give them an earful when they violate the rules of the community.
  10. Dealing with the Hostile Reader

    At first I wrote substantial responses in which I acknowledged that you were referring to me, something you should have done from the beginning. Then a moderator removed my replies, leaving me with no recourse but to challenge your unjust use of my quotes. Meanwhile, admin reinstated my responses, so I now have nothing else to add on the matter, unless you continue to make false accusations of me.
  11. A Complex Standard of Value

    I understand caring about the continuation of loved ones after you die, but not all of human kind. There are some pretty bad, disgusting human beings in the world. Some countries are full of them. I would be happy if they fell over dead tomorrow. Concern for loved ones in particular, however, is different than concern for humanity in general. Loved ones represents specific individuals that you have evaluated as worthy of your love. Humanity represents a mix of people that you love, people that you hate, and people that you've never met. It's the difference between treating life individually, as it actually exists, or treating life collectively, as it exists only in your mind. Here I think life is being treated as intrinsically good: more life equals more good. But what if your society is full of people who want to throw your family into ghettos and gas chambers? Does more of their life equal more good for you? Life must be evaluated on an individual basis. Some people are good, and some people are evil. If society in general is evil, like in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, or in Rand's novella Anthem, it might be preferable to run away into self-exile or flee to a better society. But society qua society is not good or bad. A society is good or bad because it contains generally good or bad individuals.
  12. Universals

    It seems like you're saying that a particular piece of string, for example, has both an exact color and length and an inexact color and length. The string has both a specific and non-specific shade of blue, and both a precise and imprecise measurement of length. How does that not violate the law of identity?
  13. Universals

    It's not my intention to misrepresent your position. Are you agreeing, then, that "concrete" can refer to a non-physical thing? I was working on a response to those who say that a concrete must be physical in nature. But if nobody is taking that position, I must then rethink my next post and reply to something else.
  14. Dealing with the Hostile Reader

    It's inept because I don't think ignoring me is really his goal. He clearly wants to stop me from replying to his posts. That's the objective here. Hence this call to remove me from the forum. And this call to ostracize me. And what is my crime? 1. I'm irrational. 2. I put meaning into his words which he did not mean. 3. I had no intention of advancing the discussion. Even if that were all true, which it's not, how is that cause for banishment or ostracism? This philosophy discussion board entertains all sorts of irrational arguments, straw man attacks, and counter-productive ramblings. That's actually one thing I like about it, because I can come here to hone my ability to recognize such things. Also, while I'm here, I don't enjoy seeing people falsely denigrate my philosophical heroes, and I'll exert a little effort to correct the record, even though that's not my primary purpose here. My main goal is to present my theories and consider the replies. In return I offer comments on other people's posts. I hope that is evident from my general activity. For anyone who thinks Invictus has a valid point, I'd ask you to take a hard look at his causes for calling for my banishment. How easily could they be applied to you? What if he thinks your argument is irrational? What if you believe he's using concepts incorrectly or employing a fallacy? What if he thinks your post doesn't advance the conversation? Is he then going to ignore you while indirectly calling for your banishment?
  15. Universals

    To summarize this a bit, I see three basic positions by Objectivists, and the one being articulated by Intrinsicist, whom I'm guessing does not consider himself an Objectivist, since he seems to reject substantial parts of Rand's metaphysics and epistemology. Eiuol argues for metaphysical concretes, and I admit to not really grasping his view. It is unclear to me whether by "metaphysical" he means "existing" or "physically existing." If the former, then he and I have common ground. If the latter, then I would put him with Dream Weaver, who uses the term to refer to physical or material things, in which case we have only half-common ground. For I say a concrete is simply a particular thing of which you are aware. It can be physical or mental in nature, or exist in any kind of form possible in nature. A thing can be real without us knowing about it, but we can't identify it as a concrete until we are aware of it as a particular thing. If you are aware of something, then you are aware of a concrete. A concrete is a particular thing of awareness. It is like an object, but it doesn't necessarily refer to the entire object. It could refer to particular aspects (or parts) of the object which we identify as particular aspects (or parts) of the object. And since humans can imagine fantastic things, not all concretes exist apart from the minds that imagine them. To form an abstraction, one must engage in a process of abstraction, which happens at the conceptual level. Likewise, to form a concrete, one must engage in a process of concretization, which happens automatically at the sensory-perceptual level. For example, we see something on the ground. That something is a concrete, distinguished from the ground. Our automatic perception presents it as a distinct thing upon which to focus. Only then can we begin a process of identifying it. Now we focus our perception on the thing, and we are presented with its various aspects, its shape, color, size, texture, smell, taste, sound, relationship, etc. These are all distinct things about the thing on the ground. And we must first be aware of them before we can recognize similarities and abstract from those similarities to form concepts like "roundness," "redness," "smallness," "smoothness," "sweetness," and "foodness," which ultimately help us form an advanced concept of "apple." At first our concept of "apple" might be "a thing to eat that tastes good." But as we gain more knowledge we identify more of its aspects, and therefore the concept develops more sophistication. But the critical point here is that every particular thing we identify about that apple is first and foremost a concrete.
  16. A Complex Standard of Value

    I believe joy is the emotional reward for achieving or maintaining a certain moral standard, and pleasure is the bodily sensation experienced through certain physical actions like eating, drinking, stretching, washing, grooming, hugging and copulating. So, I'm not sure what you mean by the "spiritual" aspect. Spiritual, for me, basically means the same thing as the Mental aspect, since I'm not religious. Other than that I think we agree on much of the rest, though I would categorize corporeal health with the Biological aspect. Biological relates to our nature as a living organism, whereas Physical relates to our nature as a material organism. As a thing of matter, I must satisfy the needs of my body. I must make sure I gain values that help my body exist in a proper state. Nature helps me by making it pleasurable to gain certain things I need to avoid a state of intolerable pain. Regarding the Biological, as a living thing, I must satisfy the needs of my life process. The distinction between body and life is essentially the distinction between identity applied to physical things and identity applied to the actions of physical things. In order to act, I must gain values that keep me strong enough to act physically. Without health, I will be too weak to sustain the activity necessary for my life to continue. So my physical nature has two basic aspects: the fact that I am made of matter (the Physical), and the fact that I am made of matter that moves itself (the Biological). Both aspects must have a standard, but those standards should be unified in their ultimate purpose. Pleasure should be healthy, and health should be pleasurable, which leads to an integrated healthy, pleasurable life. Of course there is also the Mental aspect, which needs to be integrated, but I think we basically agree on that one, so I won't go into it now.
  17. A Complex Standard of Value

    How would you incorporate reproduction into the biological standard for an individual human being? My life does not require children of my own. Human society requires reproduction, but that would be a collective standard, right?
  18. Dealing with the Hostile Reader

    You repeatedly accuse Rand of errors and omissions that she never made. I'd say that's an example of hostile reading. Going to a public forum and ignoring the opposition seems like another example of hostile reading. At least I treat you like an actual human being who takes the time to post in this community. You're upset now because I accused you of employing a fallacy? Nope. I understood your intended meaning. That's precisely why I was arguing against your word choice. Am I not allowed to challenge your use of concepts now? I don't think "conforming to recognized principles" means "morally proper." Even so, I never insisted that you were using my definition. I'm claiming that you were not using my definition, which I believe to be the valid one in that social-political context. Why would I argue that point if we agreed on the definition? I'm happy to take on other people's meanings for the sake of discussion. I've done it frequently on other threads. But your meaning was too problematic for that context. You're rather fond of playing the victim of false assumptions, yet you are quick to assume my private motivation for posting here, as if it were anything other than engaging in intellectual discussions and improving my knowledge of these topics. Apparently I come here to bully people into linguistic submission, like some government censor. If you don't like my use of words, just say so, like any normal person. So basically a "troll" is like any other human being with emotional needs. Am I a "troll" because I seek emotional gratification or because I enjoy controlling other people's use of words? So I should sacrifice my terms to your terms, is that it? And by "understanding," do you mean "accepting your use of language"? Because Objectivists are kind of known for challenging the common uses of particular words.
  19. The ends justify the means?
  20. The Law of Identity

    Could be. Or possibly Kieffer Sutherland injected him with fabricated memories. Not necessarily. It depends on why someone is doing it. I've learned to not judge such things out of context. If there is evasion or deception involved, then a case might be made for immorality or even fraud. People have been mutilating their bodies long before Rand was born. Teach him the difference between male and female. Keep him away from transgenderism until he's gone through puberty. That would be a good plot for a transgender Disney princess movie.
  21. Universals

    That's pretty damn close to what I mean. And sorry for putting you through the preamble, but I thought it was necessary to express my full context for "a particular thing qua particular thing." I'll work on it, but I doubt I can refine the definition much more. When you say "regard/consider a thing as distinct," that's close, but I would simply say we are aware of the thing as distinct. The fact that we're aware of it is enough. We don't have to know the whys, hows, and whats in order to call it a concrete thing. And we only distinguish the concrete from the abstract later on, after we realize that some concretes don't exist apart from our minds.
  22. Are contradictions meaningful

    Yes. The first thing you do with it, however, is validate concepts, right? You make sure your concept of dog represents dogs in reality. We can say that the entire proposition literally contains two things: the presence of a dog and the absence of a dog. But since the dog's presence is equated with its absence, the proposition offers an irreconcilable contradiction, and therefore it does not identify anything new, real or imaginary. A dog has wings. This proposition also contains two things: the presence of a dog and the presence of wings. But the attribution of wings to a dog is not an irreconcilable contradiction. We can imagine wings on a dog. However, this new imaginary thing (object) contradicts the real nature of dogs. So the proposition is literally false. I guess I'm trying to distinguish between two types of contradictions, but I don't know where this is going, and I'm out of time. Sorry.
  23. Universals

    I've tried my best to understand and counter your arguments from both a basic intrinsicist view and a more complex metaphysical idealist view. You don't know about metaphysical idealism, so I'm left only with the limited intrinsicist arguments you make here. It would help if you answered more of my probing questions. In your conception of a universal, is it physical or mental in nature? Or is it something else? What do you mean by metaphysical? Rand used the term to mean "that which pertains to reality, to the nature of things, to existence." Is that how you use the term? You say that the concept in our head is valid if it corresponds to the universal outside our head. Is there a "real universal" for every new invention of man? Before man invented the hammer, was there a universal for "hammer" outside of his head? How about evolutionary things? Before chimps evolved into men, was there a universal for "man" outside of the chimp's head?
  24. Universals

    As a human, I exist as a conscious entity, so when I extrospect I am focused on existence, and when I introspect I am focused on consciousness. It's easy therefore to forget that consciousness is part of me as a whole, and since I exist, my mind exists too. My consciousness is a kind of existent. And since it exists, it must have a specific nature. It must have an identity. Billions of particular minds exist on Earth this very moment, just like there are billions of particular blue colors on Earth this very moment. Some minds belong to monkeys and some belong to humans. Some blue colors belong to flags and some belong to shoes. It's easy to form the concept "blue" because I directly see many examples of it. But it's hard to develop the concept of "consciousness" because I'm directly aware of only my own, single example. I must infer the existence of other examples of consciousness. But how are other minds similar to mine? Can I abstract the universal "consciousness" from a direct awareness of only one particular example? It's easy to treat the mind non-universally, as if mine is the only one of its kind--as if in fact it does not belong to any kind at all. It's much easier to believe that my mind is not part of existence as I know it--that it's disconnected from everything else I experience. That it cannot be a concrete thing, because there is no abstract universal representing it. And yet I have abstractions of things of the mind--my mind. I have a concept for "concept," "thought," "emotion," "dream," etc. I even have a concept for "things that exist in my mind." But are these universals? How can I say they are universals, when in fact they represent only my own mind's contents? The answer must be found through the psychological sciences. Just as we prove the validity of our extrospective knowledge through science, we must also prove the validity of our introspective knowledge through science. But we cannot begin a science of introspection by denying the nature of introspection. When we introspect, we are aware of particular things qua particular things (concretes) and particular things qua universal things (abstractions). Qua particular things, concepts are mental integrations. Qua universal things, they are mental representations.
  25. What is the number one best piece of evidence you have for collusion? I honestly want to know, because I don't like Trump and would love to be able to make a case against him. If Putin acted against Hillary, I doubt it was on Trump's behalf. It was because he couldn't stand the thought of having to deal with the Clintons back in power.