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  1. "What it is like to be a dog" can be imagined partially but never fully known because then the human knower would have to lose his conceptual faculty and no longer be an entity that knows things as humans know them. There was a humorous college poster back in my time which had the ultimate final exam questions on it. One of the entries was "Summarize all of human knowledge. Be brief, concise and specific. Compare and contrast with all other knowledge."
  2. Epistemolgue stakes out a definite position on a controversy he admits he does not understand. It is waste of time to engage with him.
  3. The missing link is causality. Perception links the causal interactions of the external world into our cognitive realm by causal means. If we came to know something, that knowledge was caused by some chain of causal events and then willful inferences that traversed the distance between existence and our recognition of that existence. To accept something for a reason necessarily entails it is knowable, but if you accept something for no reason then sure all bets are off and that isolated proposition might be unintegratable and incompatible with other knowledge. Uncaused knowledge is unjustified knowledge, and so is merely opinion which threatens nothing. In my signature is a link to Notes on "Unity in Epistemology and Ethics" by Dr. Leonard Peikoff, lecture one touches on this.
  4. This is an assertion that contradictions exist in particular specific existents. It is a completely valid response to dismiss this as an wild hypothetical without a shred of evidence to support it. Another response is to identify the stolen concept at work here: "diction" is speech, "contra" is against, but existence does not speak so it cannot speak against itself. Contradiction is inapplicable to existence. Ought implies can. Therefore "Cannot implies ought-not". Epistemology is as normative a field as is ethics.
  5. What is that? Heartbeat and breathing are anatomical behaviors, but are they learned?
  6. Reason requires method and input, or logic and data. I would say that your preference for a certain taste is data, and so choosing a pleasant taste is rational and not irrational or nonrational. My premise here is that tastes have causes in the chemistry of your body and the thing one tastes and so are metaphysical givens, a fact of your world to be accepted. The same can apply to an interesting shape, something different can be pleasing because of the novelty of wrapping your brain around something new, that is just an aspect of human nature (or most humans anyway).
  7. Rationality at the "Ayn Rand Lexicon" website. A. Thought, values ,actions B. Yes but not 'within the bounds of the rational' as you put it. Perception is not rational or irrational, its automatic. Emotions too, but choosing to indulge in emoting when there is a better alternative can be immoral and irrational. C. Choices between narrow alternatives where it is not valuable to spend effort and time to split hairs in reasoning out a 'best choice' are not irrational, and strictly speaking are not arbitrary either. Arbitrary means disconnected from other knowledge, as in a non sequitor in logical fallacy or a product of hallucination taken at face value. The judgement that a 'small choice' will not have important consequences is itself an act that connects it to your context of knowledge. D. Yes, for sufficiently broad values of 'everything'. See B.
  8. Yes. That is exactly true. There is no shared identity between particulars. What is common is only in our heads, hence the Objectivist position that universals are epistemological. That is quite adequate for what we need universals to do, which is to provide a basis for reasoning about entire categories and for thinking in principles. The danger of arbitrary subjectivity is avoided by insisting on being able to reduce abstractions back down into the components they had referenced (and in multiple steps as is necessary for abstractions of abstractions) all the down to the perceptual basis. This is an adequate measure because what is given to us by the senses is not arbitrary or random or created by consciousness but is automatic and deterministic. The identity of what exists acts upon the identity of our human senses to cause the human perception of any particular. Similarities among intrinsic attributes of the objects we perceive are noted in our heads, what exists are merely the attributes in their various degrees. No causal relation between them linking them together outside of our minds is necessary to explain their apparent similarity because 'similarity' is a human judgement about implicit or explicit measurements being within a narrow range, and 'narrow' is another human judgement about relative size. Judgements are epistemological. Humans are similar enough in their bodies and perceptual capacities that they make similar judgements about perceptual primitives such as 'red' or more complex judgements such as what is 'a throwable stone'. The only mystery was the source of human similarity but that has been resolved in principle and in ever growing detail by the study of genetics. Each individual has his own cause of his body and its capabilities. There is not a mystic single cause of human nature, nor do we half-remember Plato's 'world of forms'.
  9. What does intrinsicism mean to you? Rand only applied intrinsicism in ethics in the form the trichotomy of the intrinsic, the subjective, and the objective. Here is that passage: To accept that existence exists, and further that everything that exists must exist in a particular form which is its identity, must entail accepting intrinsic attributes because what else can it mean to have an identity than to have intrinsic attributes? The -ISM of intrinsicism is a theory from ethics as Rand used the term, and it strikes me as bizarre that anyone would think that a perfectly ordinary use of the term 'intrinsic' in metaphysics should be forbidden or else it betrays intrinsicism in metaphysics. What could intrinsicism in metaphysics even mean beyond Rand's "A is A" that would make it so scary?
  10. What exists, everything that is metaphysically given to us, needs to be accepted first. Existence has primacy; that means logical priority and semantic meaning moves in the direction from existence to consciousness. Existence exists, it needs no explanation to exist, no justification is required. Justification only applies to where choices are made. Existence has no choice, existence exists in the form it takes, its identity. There is no choice involved in existence existing. Justification can only be grounded in appealing to what exists and its identity. To ask for existence itself to have a justification is a logical fallacy because justification is logically dependent on existence and identity. "If I can't understand it then it can't exist" is a form of subjectivism.
  11. Everything that exists is a force field of some type. Those force fields are piled on top of each other to create atoms, bananas and planets. Your backward and obsolete notion of "material" is holding you back. If gravity is a force-field then it is indeed just like everything else that exists. Gravity is actually a very bad example for you. Gravity is in fact actually an example of an abstraction, an inference based on existent patterns of motion. What exists are the entities in motion and the force of weight, gravity is inferred as a common cause but cannot be perceived directly. The Newtonian theory of gravity was that mass caused gravity as an attractive force, the more recent Einsteinian theory of gravity is that space-time itself is an existent of which gravity is an consequence of the curvature of space-time. Perhaps other theories can be crafted that fit the data as well or better. Either way, gravity does not exist metaphysically.
  12. Everyone finds it psychologically difficult to confront internal contradictions, and if one goes around examining everything willy-nilly something painful might be revealed. For a "man of the masses" representative of a culture of mixed premises many things are dangerous if analyzed closely.
  13. Not any proposition, there are plenty of modest well-delimited claims one can make with certainty. Claims about a binary status such as existence/non-existence or dead/alive or "left of"/"right of" can be absolute but quantitative relations such as "laws of physics" are subject to the limits of measurement in both their application and in their derivation and justification. Omniscience is not a requirement to claim valid knowledge. What reality is and what you know about reality necessarily differ because of your finite powers of observation.
  14. There are some inconsistencies here. "Facts of reality that are true without reference to a thinker..." The whole of reality and any of its parts that may attract your attention simply exists and is never true or false (or certain or uncertain or probable) without reference to a thinker. Reality exists as a whole not as a collection of parts related by laws, and any particular relation singled out by a law was abstracted from reality by a process of thought, therefore is man-made not metaphysical simply by that act of selective focus (even before considering its truth value by the standard of degree of correspondence). Scientific laws are usually expressible in a mathematical expression whereas theories may not be (Ideal Gas Law vs. Theory of Evolution) but both are human contrivances that can be true or false or only true in certain conditions or only true for as well as we can measure or only true for the range of forces and energies we have access to observe.
  15. The reification fallacy is a frequently found to be a habit of rationalists. Rationalism is a corruption of rationality because of its Primacy of Consciousness perspective on fundamental premises such universals or Descartes' cogito statement. Jacob Bunting, epistemologue and Scott Ryan are all rationalists by the evidence of their arguments or what arguments they find persuasive. Objectivism emphasizes rationality and rationalism is one of the chief failure modes of its would-be practitioners.