Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Boydstun

Patron
  • Content Count

    704
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    65

Boydstun last won the day on February 6

Boydstun had the most liked content!

2 Followers

About Boydstun

  • Rank
    Advanced Member

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male

Previous Fields

  • Country
    United States
  • State (US/Canadian)
    Virginia
  • Relationship status
    Married
  • Sexual orientation
    No Answer
  • Real Name
    Stephen Boydstun
  • Copyright
    Must Attribute

Recent Profile Visitors

12783 profile views
  1. Boydstun

    My Verses

    I took this evening photo a little after writing this poem, written lying on the living room floor beneath her. -2/4/19The 'he' is Jerry (d. 1990).
  2. Boydstun

    The Fountainhead (1948)

    NC, I liked Neal and Massey the best. But linked below is a scene in which Cooper as Roark is landing the book true (though he has the drawback of age). There is a Cooper scene I especially liked (no link) in which Roark says to Keating that men able to do something are his kind of man. Cooper seemed to really get that. Neal and Massey https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCMarRkVRk4 Neal and Cooper https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC5yxqKedTk
  3. Boydstun

    Which Eternity?

    . Possibilities are cognitive/epistemological (or entertainments in the case of fictions). Potentials are existential/metaphysical things belonging to concrete actualities. Possibilities are run over actualities with their potentials (or they are run over formalities such as in mathematics). I’ve some significant overlap with pre-modern philosophies in these partitions. Additionally, I’ll mention again for ease of reference for interested readers the book arguing in the contemporary vernacular to the vicinity of my partition, the book by Barbara Vetter: Potentiality – From Dispositions to Modality (2015). One book I’ve found helpful in tracing the rise, the variations, and the fall of the actual/potential partition in the history of philosophy (from Aristotle to early modern), as well as occurrences of the actual/potential distinction in contemporary science is Handbook of Potentiality (Engeland and Quante, editors, 2018). There is an excellent chapter “Potentiality in Physics” by Max Kistler in the Handbook. He sorts out what is and is not an occasion of metaphysical potentiality in the various modern physics concepts, classical and quantum, going under such names as potentials and capacities. Thanks to you all for sharing your conceptual organizations concerning these fundamentals.
  4. Boydstun

    Which Eternity?

    . SL, our quickest perceptions of objects or events is one or two hundred milliseconds in duration. We have some quicker processes of perceptual discriminations occurring (requiring) only about ten milliseconds. There is nothing physically significant in the demarcation of past and future existence about those particular intervals of “the present” of our experience. In our “instant” of perceptual consciousness (or of any consciousness) of a physical object, there are atomic transitions taking place in the object down at the level of 10-to-the-minus-18 seconds and nuclear transitions taking place in those atoms down at the level of 10-to-the-minus-23 seconds. In an instant of observation is an ocean of objective time. Transitions, actions, and processes are part of existence. They are existents, and the entities to which they pertain are existents. An episode of alterations is part of existence no matter the rate of its transition or epoch of its occurrence. I'd not confine existence or Existence to a particular point or particular limited interval in its duration. No dividing line of past and future existents should be treated as containing all that exists. And if we say only that that dividing line is all that exists at that dividing time, that's true, but it does not preclude existence at all times being included in the all that is Existence.
  5. Boydstun

    Which Eternity?

    Grames, it's a fact that from now all the way to tomorrow there will be photons. You seem to confine Existence to only the present. Only to actualities in the present? What about potentials of the present actualities? Would you count them as part of Existence? Rand did count those potentials as part of Existence, though she did not write about it (ITOE Appendix). Aristotle thought it true now that a sea battle either will happen tomorrow or not happen tomorrow. That disjunction would be a fact now about tomorrow. I don't know if he would count all facts as part of what we are calling Existence, though I don't think he was confining Existence to present actualities. How do you conceive present traces and indicators of the past, such as the rings of a tree trunk? Surely they are indicators of part of Existence, indeed past actualities.
  6. Boydstun

    Which Eternity?

    Grames, I too capitalize the term existence to indicate I'm referring to the entirety of existents. When referring to the existence of this or that, of course, it's lower case. My full convention, which I call out in my book, is this: I use lower case when talking about existence in general or existence per se or existence as such. I use Existence to refer to existence as such at the whole of it. I use Existence, as did Rand also, to mean the totality of existents, and like Rand, the Universe. I mean the full Universe, regardless of whether its particulars are fairly directly observable (the light of this computer screen) or not so directly (such as the mass of the earth exactly three billion years ago is detectible fairly). There is much in the past I count as part of Existence, though it is not observable at all by now, such as the weight to the nearest ounce of each of my 32 great-great-great grand parents at the time of their very last heartbeat. Then too, and this also is merely in the classical regime, which day will be the day of my death cannot presently be determinately computed because that reality in the future is not yet a determinate reality---siding here with Peirce and Aristotle, contra Rand and Leibniz. Future indeterminates are also part of Existence.
  7. Boydstun

    Which Eternity?

    . Thanks for the further info and reflections, SL. I agree we should not go with the Newtonian type of view of time as flowing by on its own, independently of activities of matter (and energy). Newton thought of space that independent way too, and space he took as coeternal with God, not as something created by God. (The distinctions of various kinds of eternity did not begin with Objectivists, viz., with Leonard Peikoff in that lecture Q&A.) I don’t recall if Newton conformed to the standard theology that time was created by God when God created the world. (I know Newton had some nonstandard “Christian” views. Jesus was not the son of God. One biographer quipped: “God did not need more than one son.”) Hi Grames, Rand was indeed focused on a minimum claim, which comes up in refuting the fairly standard mystical view that there is a being, namely God, who is unchanging and who created the world and time from nothing and who is not Itself in time. In the course of her argument against such a First Cause of the all that is existence, Rand held forth Existence as a whole as being outside of time. So there can be no rational talk on her view of whether the universe has always existed or only for a finite time. Both are ruled out by the fact that time simply does not apply to the whole of existence at all. Her later expositers try to paint hers as a rather non-constraining position within which scientific cosmology (which mostly has built up since she was living) could rationally go wherever the experimentally successful and observationally successful modeling of the universe may go. That is incorrect. Her position rules out rational consideration of whether the universe has existed forever and whether it will exist forever into the future. Here are some of the statements she made or approved: NB – “The concept of time applies to events and entities within the universe, but not to the universe as a whole.” (1962) AR – “We can’t ascribe space or time or a lot of other things to the universe as a whole.” (1969/1970)
  8. Boydstun

    Which Eternity?

    Concerning Rand’s view, I see from posting this little piece on the blog of Irfan Khawaja I’ve caused some unnecessary confusion by my order of presentation. In my first paragraph, only the first sentence was the view of Rand. The rest of her view does not come until the fourth paragraph. She did not follow the natural progression from “no creation or annihilation of all that exists” to “the totality of existence is endless in time, past or future.” Rather, as in my fourth, final paragraph, Rand simply denied that time is something that could apply to existence as a whole. The first presentation of her view in print, so far as I know, was in that 1962 article by Nathaniel Branden. He was also presenting that view---time is inapplicable to existence as a whole---in his lecture series The Basic Principles of Objectivism. He brings up the issue in offering a rebuttal of the First Cause argument for the existence of God in the ex nihilo Creation context, that context being commonplace in the culture. Branden and subsequent Objectivist expositors of Rand’s position continued to address the question of the finite or infinite extent of time through which the universe exists (the universe being what they meant by all that exists, including mind as part of the universe) as affiliated with the idea of an external cause of the existence of the universe. In their Objectivist view, the whole did not require and could not have a cause, the idea of cause is inapplicable to this ultimate whole, and the idea of time is also inapplicable to this whole. They would say (Peikoff in his 1976 lecture series The Philosophy of Objectivism) that it is sensible to say that the whole of existence is eternal if meaning by that that whole is outside of time, but not sensible to say it is eternal in the sense of existing through time without end or beginning. Being outside of time, of course, would also mean that the whole of existence could not have a beginning or end in time. These proponents of Objectivism were like Ayn Rand in their education. They were thinking about these issues in the history of classical philosophy, such as the history set out in the Sorabji book I cited. That really won’t suffice. It was not until the 1960’s, if I recall correctly, that the idea of black holes (infinitely dense but finite mass) and an Initial Singularity took hold in physics. Black holes are singularities too. When physicists come to implications of physical infinities from the mathematical devices that are otherwise successful in describing physical realities, they look for things that prevent such infinities in physical reality. The infinities had been in the mathematical equations for spacetime implicit in Einstein’s field equations for general relativity (1916), but for a few decades, if I’m recalling the history of black-hole theory correctly, it was held that a specific physical factor would prevent gravitational collapse of matter and energy into the spacetime singularity we now call a black hole. But by the 1960’s physicists had shown that the preventing factor did not prevent after all, and theory of black holes and of a Big Bang singularity were off and running. And with enough decades and expense since then, the tests and spectacular accuracy of Einstein’s GR have been in our headlines. Physics and me with it certainly reject the idea that the universe as a whole is outside of time. The time being marked by the coo coo clock behind me and the time being marked in the corner of my computer screen, is the time there is and the only time there is (contra Heidegger). It is physically real pure-time slices on the physically real local spacetime. Following the GR equations for the universe as a whole back in time, all of spacetime was a point with absolutely zero extent. Time appears in that picture to come into existence at the Big Bang, and it comes into existence with mass-energy afoot and having the same amount of mass-energy as there is in the universe today. But physics has had, since facing up to that startling picture, a new intervening factor for that Initial Singularity, though only down at the so called Planck scale of spacetime (one over ten to the 35th power, as I recall), a tremendously small smallness about that projected absolute initial point inferred from the classical GR equations: quantum field theory yet needing to be fathomed in that situation. So they say the quest of physics for what happens way-close-about the Initial Singularity is not yet done. My new thought, explored in my post, is that I’ll go ahead and argue, as I did, from the philosopher’s chair, that ‘final physics’ will find the mass-energy (ever some nonzero amount) of the universe has existed forever and will exist forever. I’m looking forward to the further remarks from Eric on this topic, with his physics background. And I appreciate any thoughts on this on very general philosophical grounds as well. SL, your conception of the necessary attachment of time to processes is in tune with modern physics so far as I know. The overly poetic presentation of the modern-physics standpoint in Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time (2018) may dispute that, it seems to contain a lot of talk-pedestrian exaggeration, but I’ve not gotten to really study this little book yet. Concerning language about time, I’m studying at this time, the book by Olley Pearson Rationality, Time, and Self (2018), which includes assimilation of tense logic. I might be able to parlay some of this later for this thread. I’d be careful not to slip from thinking of time as being relational to processes and alterations to thinking of the temporal relation as being only something from our constitution for perception and intellectual understanding, for making the world orderly and intelligible for us. Kant made that subject-side move, and Leibniz took relations to require mind. Wrong and wrong. Time is physical, even if relational. We measure it, our bodies register it, and there’s all too little of it.
  9. Boydstun

    Which Eternity?

    Which Eternity? Rand held her axiom Existence exists to include that the universe as a whole “cannot be created or annihilated, that it cannot come into or go out of existence” (1973, 25).[1] One would naturally suppose Rand was thinking that immunity from creation or annihilation means the universe has existed an endless time in the past and will exist an endless time in the future. Plausible as that picture appears, might the axiom Existence exists not strictly entail the endless duration of Existence? Might it entail only that at no time was there nothing at all or that at no time was there no time, yet not also entail that the duration of the existence of Existence extends into a past that is infinite?[2] Might the boundary of the past be finite, and at the first, the universe have its present mass-energy (as in classical GR back to the Initial Singularity) and be passing time, yet since it was the first of time, there be no "before" that first, and it simply not be sensible to talk of a "becoming" from a "before" the first? In our philosophical reflection, should we prejudge the physics of whether the universe of mass-energy and its spacetime extend into an infinite or only a finite past? Should that issue be left to scientific cosmology to settle? Nearby issues such as whether time, space, or spacetime in any way have causal powers and whether there are more primitive physical elements from which spacetime arises should not be prejudged by philosophy, I say. Rather, those issues should be left open for scientific cosmology to settle. I think, however, that philosophy can and should go beyond observing that there was no time and will be no time at which there was nothing, go on to the conclusion that Existence is eternal, meaning endless in past and future. If no Existence at all, then no character-identity at all. Had Existence come into existence, it would have to do so in a specific way, yet that way would be some character-identity, which requires some existents and is an existent, and by hypothesis there were no existents. Coming to be without a way, as Parmenides realized, is nothing.[3] Moreover: Coming to be is itself an existent. Coming to be of the all that is Existence would be coming to be of any coming-to-be at all. That cannot be sensible unless there were some background existence lacking any coming-to-be. But by hypothesis there was no existent of any sort—thence no existent lacking coming-to-be—before the coming into existence of Existence.[4] Therefore, Existence has no beginning. Then too, absent power of coming-to-be of its entire self, Existence cannot come to be not. That is, Existence has no end. Rand did not accept the idea that the universe as a whole is in time. She thought that time was one of those things applying to things within the universe but not on up to the entire universe itself. One might sensibly say, in Rand’s view: Existence, the entirety of all existents, is eternal in the sense that it is outside of time, but not in the sense that it exists endlessly.[5] That is erroneous. As my life advanced in time, so did the Milky Way advance in time, Andromeda too and on up to the whole universe. That is how our modern physics has it also. The universe has a certain age since such-and-such event, most importantly, since the event of the Initial Singularity (or Planck-scale of the spacetime around that classically projected event). Existence as a whole endures through definite time, and that is not to say that time or alteration can exist without other sorts of existents. Notes [1] Cf. Aristotle, Cael. 279b4–84b5; Broadie 2009; Sorabji 1983, 205–9, 245–49. [2] Cf. Lennox 1985, 68. [3] “What coming to be of it will you seek? / In what way, whence, did [it] grow? Neither from what-is-not shall I allow / You to say or think; for it is not to be said or thought / That [it] is not. And what need could have impelled it to grow / Later or sooner, if it began from nothing?” Gallop 1984, Fragment 8, lines 6–10. [4] Matter is mass-energy having nonzero rest mass. Only matter and its changes can be a clock. Were the universe to contain no matter, only pure energy, there would be nothing registering the advance of time. So far as I know from modern physics, time would yet advance while a pure-, all-energy of the universe and its changes (say, internal propagations at vacuum light speed) existed. A universe purely energy, of course, would be an existent. The current picture from scientific cosmology is that the quantity of mass-energy in the universe today is the same there has been all the way back to the Initial Singularity. Particles of ordinary matter, the neutrinos (they have nonzero rest mass), emerged after the first ten-thousandths of a second following the onset of expansion of the universe from the Initial Singularity. Dark matter, having rest mass, may have been present before the neutrinos. I gather that at the present state of scientific knowledge the remote future (years from now about 10 to the 100th power, whereas the present day is only about 10 to the 9th power from the Initial Singularity) of our ever-expanding universe will contain only or very nearly only massless particles such as photons and gravitons (Penrose 2011, 139–49). [5] Branden 1962; c. 1968, 82­–83, 101–2; Rand 1990 App. 273; Binswanger 2014, 26. Cf. Peikoff 1991, 16; Gotthelf 2000, 48. References Anagnostopoulos, G., editor, 2009. A Companion to Aristotle. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. Aristotle c.348–322. B.C. The Complete Works of Aristotle. J. Barnes, editor (1984). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Branden, N. 1962. The “First Cause” Argument. The Objectivist Newsletter 1(5):19. ——. c.1968. The Basic Principles of Objectivism. In The Vision of Ayn Rand 2009. Gilbert: Cobden Press. Binswanger, H. 2014. How We Know. New York: TOF Publications. Broadie, S. 2009. Heavenly Bodies and First Causes. In Anagnostopoulous 2009. Gallop, D. 1984. Parmenides of Elea – Fragments. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Gotthelf, A., editor, 1985. Aristotle on Nature and Living Things. Pittsburgh: Mathesis. Gotthelf, A. 2000. On Ayn Rand. Belmont: Wadsworth. Lennox, J. G. 1985. Are Aristotelian Species Eternal? In Gotthelf 1985. Peikoff, L. 1991. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton. Penrose, R. 2011. Cycles of Time. New York: Knopf. Rand, A. 1973. The Metaphysical versus the Man-Made. In Philosophy: Who Needs It. New York: Signet. ——1990. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Expanded 2nd ed. H. Binswanger and L. Peikoff, editors. New York: Meridian. Sorabji, R. 1983. Time, Creation, and the Continuum. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  10. Boydstun

    Good 2 Person Board Games

    I just learned of a 2-person game from the Bronze Age (4000 years ago). Today's archaeologists evidently call it 58 Holes. If I understand correctly, the game Chutes and Ladders is that game. (I'm not a game person, as an adult, except for a period of playing Scrabble, which I liked---but no time for it in many years.) The game had been found in the Near East, but in November, Walter Crist of the American Museum of Natural History in New York discovered that it was also played in Azerbaijan, which is about a thousand miles north. SCIENCE NEWS (12/22/18) quotes Crist as saying "Bronze Age herders in that region must have had contacts with the Near Eastern world [eg. Iran]. Games often passed across cultures and acted as a social lubricant."
  11. William, I link below a good book of modern formal logic. (The author has another book on mathematical logic, which is beyond this much logic.) I learned a lot from it, and he has some neat historical notes at the ends of chapters. This logic is not a rejection of Aristotelian logic (leaving aside A’s modal logic, which is a further area, beyond what we’d think of as standard formal logic, and beyond the scope of this textbook), certainly not whole cloth, though it assimilates advances in deductive logic attained in the late 19th and early 20th century. I’m not aware of anything Rand wrote decrying modern formal logic itself. She probably never took up mastery of the contents of the textbook I link here. I’d think she would have taken issue, however, with common philosophies of logic with then-current views on the ways in which logic is situated with our understanding of the world. I’m thinking of the various views on logic expressed by Dewey or Nagel or Wittgenstein (in his later phase). When I look into the Index of The Letters of Ayn Rand, I find no entry for logic, only for basis of logic. The basis of logic in her philosophy (and I concur in this view) and setting the nature and use of logic in serious sensitivity to that basis was a part of Nathaniel Branden’s lectures in those days The Basic Principles of Objectivism and later in Leonard Peikoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Beyond those, I incline to take issue, springing from Rand’s view of the nature of logic, with a couple of ways in which inference is treated in standard modern logic texts. But this is no wholesale rejection of formal modern logic, the contested friction points are actually old, and there are contemporary experts on both sides. https://books.google.com/books/about/Methods_of_Logic.html?id=liHivlUYWcUC&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&q&f=false
  12. Boydstun

    Correspondence and Coherence blog

    Merlin, Concerning the rationality and the explanatory virtues of Cantor’s extensions of finite arithmetic, and the prior failure of the part-whole approach by Bolzano, you might like to look into pp. 207–12 of Philip Kitcher’s The Nature of Mathematical Knowledge (if you’ve not done so already).
  13. Boydstun

    Fred Miller

    Most recently, from Prof. Miller: Aristotle - On the Soul and Other Psychological Works Notre Dame Review ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Peek into Fred Miller's paper at Ayn Rand Society Meeting 2005 here. I expect this paper will be included in a planned volume on Aristotle and Rand in the series Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies.
  14. Boydstun

    Health & Evasion.

    . Akilah, The tale of Beauty and the Beast or Victor Hugo’s novel The Laughing Man or the play Cyrano de Bergerac dramatize in extreme form something pervasive in real life: It is inner life, one’s soul, and inner health with its inner beauty that is the realm of moral character. That character is displayed in real life in outer life behaviors, not in outer beauty. Don’t judge people such as the four real men you mentioned to be “seemingly” lacking in concern with or effort for their health because they appear not beautiful to you. That is not sound and would be a disastrous way to proceed with your life in the social world. If you have issues against Rand’s philosophy, go right to those, and state them directly. Don’t settle for glancing blows against the philosophy by attacking its exponents personally. That is junk. Attack the philosophy position-by-position head on. (Even if you agree with points in the philosophy, consider what arguments and evidence can be mustered against them and what you think about those counters specifically. This is philosophic understanding.) Think about the philosophy itself, and give your objections and counter-reasoning. That is the stuff worthy of smart heads. Some examples: Rand held that the only way of winning knowledge was by rational processes. True or false? What can be said against this view? Not against the person holding the view, but the view itself. Rand held that every individual and their life is an end in itself. True or false? . . . Rand held that the purpose of morality is simply to help one live and enjoy oneself. True or false? . . . Rand held that the justification of a national defense is the protection of individual rights. Really? . . .
  15. Boydstun

    Objectivism in Academia

    . “In the poem ‘Human’ (1903), Gorky says of the new man that he is lost ‘among the desserts of the universe . . . on the little piece of the earth’. Yet, ‘he is going bravely ahead! and higher! On the way to victories over all the secrets of the earth and sky’. . . . “‘There was a cold wind outside, and an empty stretch of land under an empty sky” (Rand 1957, 15). The train encapsulates all the problems of a society that is living---and dying---due to the principles of collectivism. . . . The desert is the symbol of a hostile world in the novel: it is made obvious in the scene depicting the crash of the train at the Arizona desert [1160-61]. . . . “. . . In ‘Human’, Gorky glorified the new type of human, who is a creator and whose major impulse is Thought. . . . . . . “But there is a great difference between Gorky’s Human and Rand’s ‘new human’. . . .” JARS 18(2):326-27) --From the paper in that Winter 2018 issue of JARS: “Ayn Rand’s ‘Integrated Man’ and Russian Nietzscheanism” by Anastasiya Vasilievna Grigorovskaya, who has a number of publications on Ayn Rand, in Russian, and who is working on the first doctoral thesis about Rand in Russia (Tyumen).
×