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Everything posted by Boydstun

  1. SL, the case of contradiction statements, I'd say, needs to be worked into an account in this vicinity. We think of the statement "A is not-A" as referring to nothing (there are no A's that are also not-A's), but always false, and if false, I'd say it must be meaningful. That is, a statement assessable for truth or falsehood could be taken as a sufficient condition for the statement being a meaningful one. Contradiction statements would seem false and meaningful. In fact they are useful, and again that would suggest they have some kind of meaning. By useful, I'm thinking of their use in indirect proof in which we show a premise to be false given that when joined with premises we take for true we deduce a contradiction. Another aspect of contradiction possibly pertinent is that the conjunction between A and Not-A need not be supplied explicitly by the mind holding A true and holding Not-A true. The conjunction can be supplied merely by the fact that a mind holds both those things (and does not realize it, does not bring them together in mind).
  2. Yes, SL, thanks, and thanks to all. SL, did you put this under the sector Physics and Mathematics because of some parallels or intersections with mathematical conjectures proven to be not provable and problems proven to be not computable? I incline to think Q is stating something about a particular sentence, and is therefore meaningful, but is false because its form, by convention, insinuates that it is stating some fact beyond itself, which it is not doing. It is claiming implicitly to be able to deliver something that it is not able to deliver. By contrast, the statement Existence exists, unparticular as it might be, makes a statement about some things not itself. By that analysis, the second conjunct of K is also false, therefore K is false.
  3. Kaladin, would you supply us with the citation for the quotation you have by Marc Champagne?
  4. Here is part of some remarks Barbara Branden wrote, around 2006 I think, concerning her writing of the biography back in the 80's, after Rand's death. Where Barbara wrote "secrecy of my life," I imagine she meant "secrecy on my life." I think Barbara had an exaggerated view of how important was the Nathaniel Branden Institute in creating strong personal admiration and affection for Ayn Rand personally among her readers. Rand's writing did that to some of us. Period. No existence of any associates of Rand's required. Moreover, when some hostile query would come to Rand asking if she and her chief spokesperson Nathaniel Branden were exemplars of the ideals in her philosophy, and she would answer Yes, her answer, her estimation and her say-so, carried no weight with the more intelligent and serious-minded sympathizers among her audience. We had the novels and the essays of Rand and of her associates before us. That was our focus, our debates with our fellows, and our estimation of what was important. Imagined responsibilities for follies of the supposedly weak-headed students of NBI is a bit odd. Weight of respect for the foursome all around and for truth-telling of history from Barbara's particular vantage would seem enough to consider in deciding to produce the biography.
  5. Late in 1980 Nathaniel Branden and his wife Devers were in New York, and Devers finagled a long conversation with Ayn Rand in the latter’s apartment. This is reported in some detail from Branden in his My Years with Ayn Rand (1999). Rand mentioned in that conversation that Leonard Peikoff was her friend. I noticed there was no mention of other still-friendly long-time philosophy associates such as Allan Gotthelf or Harry Binswanger. It is a plausible picture that Peikoff was more personally close to Rand in the 70’s and early 80’s. (Gotthelf was around the country speaking for her philosophy at her behest in the late 70’s.) But I notice, beyond the episode with Devers and Rand, that Branden does not mention the existence of either Gotthelf or Binswanger in his entire book. Those associates of Rand and of Branden were getting their doctorates in philosophy in New York during the ‘60’s. And by 1999, Gotthelf had gone on to become one of the towering figures in the world of Aristotle scholars. There was a tendency of Nathaniel and of Barbara (at least in her internet postings) to paint Rand’s life and the vitality of her intellectual circle after their own exist from it as next to zero, which is ridiculous by public records. There was a later phone conversation between Devers and Rand, which conversation included: Devers: “And again I told her I wanted some communication between you two [Rand and Branden]. Then, for the first time, I referred to your affair explicitly, ‘Ayn you two were once lovers’. / ‘We were never lovers!’ . . . ‘We were never really friends! He was a student of mine! Did he tell you we were lovers?’ / ‘Of course’, I answered gently. / ‘Why would he do that? Why?’ / I was incredulous and said, ‘Ayn, I’m his wife’. . . . ‘Are you now saying that you dedicated Atlas Shrugged to a man who was not even important to you?’ / There was a long moment of silence. Then Ayn answered, her voice low and muffled, ‘A gentleman would have taken it to his grave’.” I was not personally acquainted with Rand or either of the Brandens. I’ve noticed that all of them and all her circle were good writers. I take whatever ideas I find good in their writings and incorporate them into my own comprehension of things. I’ve not read Barbara Branden’s book or James Valiant’s book on that book. I’ve had friendly exchanges with those two authors by internet postings. Allan Gotthelf and David Kelley were subscribers to my journal Objectivity (1990–98), and I had some personal acquaintance with them. I’ve some friendly communication with Leonard Peikoff years ago, and readers here know I’ve respect and appreciation for his contributions to Rand’s philosophy and its promulgation. I was in the audience of presentations of Nathaniel Branden a couple of times (early 70’s, late 90’s), also Alan Blumenthal once (early 90’s). What they had to say was important and moving. From my perspective, in the long run, it was better for Rand’s philosophy that the separation of Nathaniel Branden and Ayn Rand occurred. Too much of her public tablets had been filled with psychological construction of archetypes and psychological casting of issues and personages. After association with Branden (who went on to good developments in his own field), philosophy, serious philosophy, got more and more portion of the space she bannered in print and on tape.
  6. This post is not substantive, only a connection of thinkers. In the Acknowledgements prefacing his first book Anarchy, State, and Utopia(1974), Robert Nozick wrote: “Over several years, I have benefited from Michael Waltzer’s comments, questions, and counterarguments as I tried out on him ideas on some topics of this essay.” Waltzer remarked in 2003 here: "I spent much of the sixties and early seventies learning to 'do' political philosophy rather than doing it, and Rawls and Nozick were two of my teachers. There was a discussion group that met every month in those years, in Cambridge and New York, that included those two and Ronnie Dworkin, Tom Nagel, Tim Scanlon, Judy Thomson, Charles Fried, Marshall Cohen, and a few others: a peer group for most of them, a school for me. In 1971, Nozick and I taught a course together called 'Capitalism and Socialism,' which was a semester-long argument – out of which came his Anarchy, State, and Utopia and my Spheres. Rawls, Nozick, Nagel, and Dworkin were, I suppose, the leaders of the return of philosophers to 'public affairs.' For me, there was no return; I had never been interested in anything else. But I did make an effort to write about politics in a more philosophical way. I don't think that I ever managed real philosophy. I couldn't breathe easily at the high level of abstraction that philosophy seemed to require, where my friends in the group were entirely comfortable. And I quickly got impatient with the playful extension of hypothetical cases, moving farther and farther away from the world we all lived in. I was writing Just and Unjust Wars in the middle seventies, and my decision to work the argument through historical examples was in part a reaction against the hypothetical cases of my friends. The current state of the philosophical argument about justice, as described and criticised by Anderson, follows from too much abstraction, too many hypotheticals, too great a distance from the real world. The Rawls/Nozick debate was, I think, pretty much over even before their deaths. In the philosophical world, Rawls and the Rawlsians won decisively; in the political world, I am afraid, the Nozickians won, but it isn't philosophers, it is economists, who relish the victory. Right now, the forces aren't engaged: consider how little criticism of the market model is carried in the journal that came out of our discussion group: Philosophy and Public Affairs."
  7. SL maintained that there are plenty of forums for discussing general philosophy. If anyone knows of such that are online forums, I'd appreciate learning of them. I do know of one. It is called Philosophy Now. I participated there on one occasion and was personally attacked in every disrespectful way a fellow (anonymous, likely male) could think up for every thing I might say: because I mentioned and conveyed some Rand without distorting and belittling her. I've heard others (and not Rand-interested so far as I know) say they won't participate at that site because of the nastiness there.The fellow who was so disrespectful towards me there certainly achieved the purpose of shutting me up. I did not go back there. One thing I've liked about this site OO is that there is such a predominately civil exchange of views.
  8. I appreciate all the links Merlin makes to his blog entries. They are informative, and convenient for me to go to from here. I don't get to follow up with comments usually, because I'm on other things for in-depth assimilation in these years of my life. Merlin's professional background and continuing study of economics and of philosophy are a lucky stream into this site. I'm delighted to see that such an old, old man is still learning. I remember 25 years ago when he and I together studied philosopher after philosopher concerning theory of truth. I'll try to link to some of his essays on that and on other subjects naturally of interest to learners who have an interest in the span of topics Rand undertook. I had not heard of this book and social theory of Walzer's until Merlin conveyed notes on it to us in this modern medium. Makes me kind of feel like being back with Merlin in hours after our business jobs, plodding our way through Spinoza. (I'm not kidding; to us that is interesting and very worthwhile.) I see that Merlin has summarized Waltzer through chapter 2 and that there are several chapters more he might think to convey notes on to folks here who might well be interested in modern theories of justice. Perhaps he will have some evaluations and Rand-comparisons at the end. Good research and thinking from Merlin in these finished products: Imagination and Cognition Theories of Truth I II III On Probability Pursuing Similarity Perhaps some participants here would like to talk to Merlin right here in this thread about some things he wrote on these topics. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS - I first met Merlin, as I recall, listening to tape lectures being played at Northwestern in 1977. That was The Philosophy of Objectivism which had been recorded the year before in New York. (It was by Leonard Peikoff, and Ayn Rand participated, a fine experience.) It's quite possible one could get acquainted with this learned guy by attending OCON 2019. He and wife reside in that vicinity, and I know he attended OCON last year.
  9. Online now at JSTOR, print edition next month: Foundational Frames - Descartes and Rand / . . . KEYWORDS: René Descartes, Étienne Gilson, Anthem, foundationalism, demonic skepticism, cogito, mind-body relation, sense-thought relation
  10. The following is an early essay of mine published in Nomos in spring of 1984. The Moral Value of Liberty According to the view that there are no objective values, there are no ways in which one ought to act; there are simply ways in which one prefers to act. One may prefer to treat others as if they were valuable, but not because they are actually valuable. One may prefer to believe the truth that there are no valid values, but not because one ought to believe the truth. One may doubt the coherence of this point of view, one may even suspect that there is something in the world of objective value—then one ought to read this essay. For my understanding of the nature of objective value and of the value of individual liberty, I owe much to the work of Ayn Rand and Robert Nozick. The whole view and some of the parts of the whole presented in this essay are only my own. But the view may also serve as an introduction and invitation to the recent work of Nozick on the foundations of ethics in his wonderful book Philosophical Explanations (1981). The Birthplace of Value A value which is valuable not purely as a means to further value beyond itself is termed by Nozick an intrinsic value. It is valuable in itself. Distinguished from intrinsic value is instrumental value. Instrumental value is instrumental to extrinsic value; it derives its value from value lying beyond itself, from the valuable end for which it is means. In even the simplest organism, we see intrinsic and instrumental values. The life of an organism itself is of intrinsic value; the conditions required for its life are of instrumental value. In the simpler organisms, these values merely supervene the living action. They characterize and distinguish all living action, but in the absence of sufficient consciousness they do not draw the living action forth. The values displayed in the simple organism are achieved by efficient causes quite “blind” to the value they render. Consider the butterfly. Butterflies of the Heliconious species H. hewitsoni deposit their eggs selectively on the shoots of the Passiflora species P. pittieri, selecting both this particular vine and the proper stage of its development. If the shoot is too young, the hatching caterpillars may devour the shoot before its leaves appear; if the shoot is too old, the leaves will be too tough. In either circumstance the young caterpillars would starve (Gilbert 1982). But the butterfly does not seek out the proper place to deposit eggs in order to produce progeny. The actions of a relatively simple organism such as a butterfly, vital to itself and/or its species, are performed without the operation of final causes (sufficiently global to effect the result). The lives of human beings, however, spring largely from final causes. Because of our mode of consciousness, we are capable of being drawn towards ends extensive in scope and number. If life is not among our ends, if we do not make it an operative value of ours, then we shall tend to die on that account. It is in a world of living things that value arises. The simple organism organizes itself into a highly interdependent system; the parts of the whole which it is produce each other reciprocally. Each part not only exists by means of the other parts but also appears to exist for the sake of the others and of the whole. In this pattern there is, as we shall see, something profoundly important for beings such as we. Organisms can operate for us as an intrinsic value; they can be of intrinsic value for us. Some things can be of intrinsic value for us, and in that very valuation we can be intrinsic value. Objective Value Objects of the self, including the self as object of its own reflection, can be of value for the self as subject. The self as subject and only the self as subject can be value. But just as the self cannot be the subject it is without having been subject to external objects, so the self cannot be the value it is without external objects of value to it. And just as the self cannot be the subject it is without also being the self-reflective object it is, so the self cannot the value it is without being of that value to itself. Which things can be of objective intrinsic value? Robert Nozick has given good reasons to think that the objective dimension of intrinsic value is degree of organic unity. An organic unity unifies a diversity of what constitutes the parts of the whole. The degree of organic unity of X (an action, entity, event, or state of affairs) is a function of the degree of unifiedness of the unified material relative to a set of unifying relations, and a function of the degree of diversity of that material relative to a set of dimensions along which the materials differ or are similar. The intrinsic value of X is the sum of the degree of organic unity of the whole it is plus the values arising from the degrees of organic unity of each of its parts (Nozick 1981, 103–4, 415–24). The phenomenon of organic unity appears not only in living organisms and ecological systems but also in the realm of art, in the structure of abstract theories, and in the functioning of machines and toys. A work of art, for example, by relation to its creation or contemplation, can be of intrinsic value because its organic unity contributes to the intrinsic value of the creation or contemplation. Our lives, our selves are capable of immense intrinsic value. A familiar passage of Ayn Rand’s can here be seen in a new light: “Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy—a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your values. . . . And when one experiences the kind of pure happiness that is an end in itself—the kind that makes one think: “This is worth living for”—what one is greeting and affirming in emotional terms is the fact that life is an end in itself” (Rand 1964, 29). The state of being giving rise to this happiness is not only valuable because it preserves the life of such a being; such a being is all the more valuable (and worth preserving) because highly organically unified. That there be an objective basis for intrinsic value is not sufficient for the operation of value in the world. Nozick has taken an approach somewhat similar to Rand’s approach to bridging the traditional gap between descriptive fact and operative value. “We choose or determine that there be values, that they exist, but their character is independent of us. . . . The choice that there be value is reflexive . . . [for] it chooses that there be value in virtue of that very choosing that there be value” (Nozick 1981, 555–60). In addition, this choice is an instance of the policy of valuing value, of responding to value as value, “a policy that is reflexively and self-subsumingly brought into effect in that very choice” (560). Although the character of the value so willed is not up to us, there is no one objectively correct set or weighting of values to be realized. The choice that there be value is made in the valuation of particular things, and not all values are compossible. We see, then, that within objective limits there remains room for creativity “in the weighting and balancing of different values, in forming a life embodying a new and original organic unity of diverse constituent values” (565). Ethical Conduct Utilizing the hypothesis that degree of organic unity is the objective dimension of intrinsic value, Nozick is able to explain how responsiveness to intrinsic value is intrinsically valuable. He further suggests that we might understand the notion of an act one prima facie ought to do, as an act that is responsive to some value. He holds, however, that value is also to be pursued because one is thereby being responsive to it as value. This suggests that value might be characterized as that to which one prima facieought to be responsive. In Nozick’s theory, value and ought each require support from the other notion (529­–31). The moral ought is distinguished within the wider concept of ought by the kind of value giving rise to it. The characteristic of ourselves and of others in virtue of which both are owed ethical behavior is being a value-seeking I. This fundamental characteristic, an end in itself, is intrinsically and highly valuable. From this characteristic arises the fundamental principle of ethics: Treat one who is a value-seeking I as a value-seeking I. Treat her as (or in accordance with her closeness to being) that value. Such responsiveness is only possible to one in one’s capacity as a value-seeking I. Only a value-seeking self can adequately queue and shape his behavior to another’s being one; only by exercising his own basic moral characteristic can he respond to that characteristic as that characteristic in another (or in himself). In treating another in ways morally responsive, he unifies himself with the intrinsic value she is; the intrinsic value of his life is thereby magnified. The person who treats another immorally places himself in a relation of disunity with her intrinsic value, thereby rendering the self he is less valuable (451–69). In ethical interpersonal relationships which are not close, one must respond “to the fact of another’s subjectivity, to her being a self, a value-seeking entity, a choice-making and meaning-seeking entity, but one need not respond to every modulation in the content or focus of these characteristics. Ethics responds to the fact that these characteristics are there, perhaps also to some general traits of their content, while more intimate relationships respond to the particular way these characteristics specify and express themselves. . . . “But if, as I believe, there is a general principle calling for responsiveness to value as such, not merely the value embodied in the basic moral characteristic, then there will be differences in how we (are to) appropriately respond to different people. While these differences will not involve violating the rights all share in virtue of being value-seeking I’s, they might involve choosing to aid or save some rather than others in situations where not all can be helped.” (470–72) The Right to Liberty Individual rights are a class of moral claims for which enforcement is morally permissible. The deliberate use of force is prima facie anti-responsive to the basic moral characteristic of the recipient; there is a moral presumption against its use—any use. The true rights of individuals must be based upon moral claims sufficient to overcome this presumption, and force must be used only to effect these rights. Since the rule of law entails the existence of general standing orders backed by credible coercive threats, we identify the activities of government (agents as government agents) which are morally permissible when we identify individual rights. A delineation of the morally proper sphere of individual liberty delineates also the morally permissible uses of deliberate force. Elsewhere I have presented the view that the proper sphere of liberty of interacting individuals may be discerned by reference to the circumstances of individuals presently incapable of interaction (Boydstun 1983). From that view it was seen that the fundamental right of each interacting individual is the right to full formal liberty. Material liberty was defined as the extent of what an individual can in fact do independently of another. The right of full formal liberty was specified as the right of each against the reduction of his material liberty by another. It was then seen that from this fundamental right there flow rights against personal injury, rights to private property, and rights to privacy. Were the legal uses of force restricted to the enforcement of these rights, individuals would be left fully free, within the realm of the possible, to respond to value and to become value. The life of each would be his own—his alone to destroy, his with others to love, to nurture, to glorify. References Boydstun, S. C. 1983, June. Political Liberty and Property Rights. Illinois Libertarian. Gilbert, L. E. 1982, Aug. The Coevolution of a Butterfly and a Vine. Scientific American. Nozick, R. 1981. Philosophical Explanations. Harvard. Rand, A. 1964. The Virtue of Selfishness. NAL.
  11. Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics 1169b29-1170a3 (Joe Sachs, translator) "If being happy consists in living and being-at-work, and the being-at-work of a good person is serious and pleasant in itself, as was said at the beginning, and if what is one’s own also belongs among things that are pleasant, and we are better able to contemplate those around us than ourselves, and their actions better than our own, and the actions of serious people who are their friends are pleasant to those who are good (since they have both the attributes of things that are pleasant by nature), then a blessed person will have need of friends of this sort, if indeed he chooses to contemplate actions that are decent and his own, and the actions of a good person who is a friend are of that kind." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Leibniz, from Prefaces he wrote for collections of medieval state documents. (From Loemker 1956.) 1693 - "To love or cherish is to find pleasure in the happiness of another, or what amounts to the same thing, to accept the happiness of another as one’s own. Thus the knotty question of how there can be a disinterested love which is free from hope and fear, and from every consideration of utility, is solved, and in a way that is also of great importance in theology. For happiness of those whose happiness pleases us is obviously built into our own, since things which please us are desired for their own sake. Thus the contemplation of beautiful things is itself pleasant, and a painting of Raphael affects him who understands it, even if it offers no material gains, so that he keeps it in his sight and takes delight in it, in a kind of image of love. But when the beautiful object is at the same time itself capable of happiness, this affection passes over to true love. The divine love moreover . . . ." 1700 - "It seems desirable, however, to reply to one objection which has been made to me, on an issue upon which I touched . . . before it was openly discussed, and which recently excited much argument in France, until it was suppressed by authority of the king and the supreme pontiff. This is the controversy about whether love which is disinterested, and seeks the well-being of the beloved, nevertheless depends upon the impulsion towards one’s own well-being. Somewhat the same question, namely, had occurred to me when I prefaced [1693] . . . . For how can love be bestowed upon others? Who seeks the well-being of the beloved for its own sake, since we will nothing except for the sake of our own good? "I should answer that whatever is pleasant is sought for itself, as opposed, that is, to what is useful to the good ends of producing the well-being of another. I observed that such is the object of true love, since to love or to cherish is to be delighted by the happiness of the beloved and his perfections. I understood the following objection to have been made against this—that it is more perfect so to submit to God that you are moved by his will alone and not by your own delight. But we must recognize that this conflicts with the nature of things, for the impulse to action arises from a striving toward perfection, the sense of which is pleasure, and there is no action or will on any other basis. . . . Nor can anyone renounce (except merely verbally) being impelled by his own good, without renouncing his own nature. And so it is to be feared that the negation of self which certain false mystics teach, and the suspension of action and thought by which they assume that we find supreme union with God [are incorrect] . . . ." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Blake America a Prophecy (1793) “Life delights in life.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Hölderlin Hyperion (1794) “Where is the being that knew her as mine did? In what mirror did the rays of this light converge as they did in me? Was she not joyfully frightened by her own gloriousness when she first became aware of it in my joy?” “. . . when the dear being, more faithfully than a mirror, betrayed to me every change in my cheek . . . .” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Rand We the Living (1936) “Her face was a mirror for the beauty of his” (58). “He looked into her flaming eyes with eyes that were like mirrors which could reflect a flame no longer” (445). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Rand The Foutainhead(1943) The steel frame of Howard Roark’s house for Austen Heller has been erected. On site the workers notice that Roark’s hands “reach out and run slowly down the beams and joints.” Workers say “‘That guy’s in love with the thing. He can’t keep his hands off’.” Absorbed in work at the site, Roark’s “own person vanished,” but “there were moments when something rose within him, not a thought nor a feeling, but a wave of some physical violence, and then he wanted to stop, to lean back, to feel the reality of his person heightened by the frame of steel that rose dimly about the bright, outstanding existence of his body at its center” (138). Proceed from the literary foreplay at the Heller house to Dominique’s visits to Roark’s room and bed. “In his room, there was no necessity to . . . erase herself out of being. Here she was free to resist, to see her resistance welcomed by an adversary too strong to fear a contest, strong enough to need it; she found a will granting her the recognition of her own entity . . . . / . . . . It was an act of tension, as the great things on earth are things in tension. It was tense as electricity, the force fed on resistance . . .” (301). On their last time, before they are separated for years, Roark says “‘I love you, Dominique. As selfishly as the fact that I exist. . . . I’ve given you . . . my ego and my naked need. This is the only way you can wish to be loved. This is the only way I can want you to love me’” (400; see also Wynand and Dominique, 539). Roark and Dominique are definite entities, definite selves, exposed to each other. Their tensed sexual occasions heighten awareness of their selves, awareness of each to own-self and to other-self. (Cf. Sartre’s Being and Nothingness 1943, 505–14 in the translation by Hazel Barnes.) In her marriage to Keating, Dominique is a non-entity. (No tension, strength, resistance, or ecstasy in bed.) Keating is a non-entity in most of his existence. Most all of his desires and candidate desires and most all of his opinions receive their value to him by their potential for impressing others. Dominique is a mirror to him, and she makes herself not more than a mirror (452–55). She says to Keating: “‘You wanted a mirror. People want nothing but mirrors around them. To reflect them while they’re reflecting too. You know, like the senseless infinity you get from two mirrors facing each other across a narrow passage. . . . Reflections of reflections . . . . No beginning and no end. No center and no purpose’” (455). —Wynand and Dominique— “She sat at her dressing-table. He came in and stood leaning against the wall beside her. He looked at her hands, at her naked shoulders, but she felt as if he did not see her; he was looking at something greater than the beauty of her body, greater than his love for her; he was looking at himself—and this, she knew, was the one incomparable tribute (GW IX 537–38). —Roark the morning after first time with Dominique— “In some unstated way, last night had been what building was to him; in some quality of reaction within him, in what it gave to his consciousness of existence” (ET II 231–32). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Rand Atlas Shrugged (1957) “. . . her pride in herself and that it should be she whom he had chosen as his mirror, that it should be her body which was now giving him the sum of his existence, as his body was giving her the sum of hers” (957). “She saw the reflection of her smile in his. / . . . / But the sum included the knowledge of all that had had to be earned, before the person of another being could come to embody the value of one’s existence” (1159). Also ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Nathaniel Branden “Self-Esteem and Romantic Love” In The Objectivist1967 December, 1968 Jan. and Feb. Likewise in The Psychology of Self-Esteem (1969, Chap. XI) Also
  12. An informative note from psychologist Steve Wolfer on history of self-esteem in psychology is here.
  13. . Ayn Rand Society 2005 - Paper 3 "Values and Happiness" by Fred Miller Report
  14. I had meant to mention in the preceding post that Peikoff 1964 notes that not all classical philosophers subscribed to a metaphysical distinction between the necessary and the contingent. He helpfully mentions John Scotus Erigena, Spinoza, and Hegel. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Links to the sections of this essay so far: Plato Aristotle I II Kant I II III Conventionalism I II III
  15. I concur with the distinction Merlin draws between physical and formal necessity in the preceding post. That’s a good example from mathematics, and I should note additionally that (i) it is a fact—ascertained in the way one does for mathematics—that there are some continuous functions that are nowhere differentiable, and it remains a fact even if it is the case that there simply is nothing physical to which some such function applies and that (ii) we find great success in technology and in extending comprehension of the physical by applying many functions, each one both continuous and differentiable, to electricity, to fluids, and to solids, yet understanding perfectly well that such things are discontinuous at small enough scales. SL, I should not want to equate the physical with the metaphysical. When Rand claims that only living things can have values or when philosophers from time immemorial say nothing comes from nothing, those claims are consonant with modern physical science, but the claims are made in what I’d call a metaphysical perspective, not a scientific one. In his 1967 essay “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy” Peikoff has a section on the traditional distinction within metaphysics between necessary and contingent facts (and how this feeds into the A-S distinction). The meaning of metaphysical necessary/contingent has changed over the centuries, but there is family-descendant resemblance under the continuing distinction. Peikoff did not think such a distinction is correct to make within metaphysics. However, he there drew a distinction between the metaphysical and the manmade (in tune with Rand’s later elaboration). Human free will is the root fact for this distinction. Unfortunately, Peikoff and Rand thought that the rule of Identity in metaphysics entailed complete determinism throughout metaphysics as contrasted with the realm of free will. Furthermore, Rand thought that such metaphysics rightly constrains (a bit) what physical science might find, but that the reverse flow does not soundly occur. That is, she thought metaphysical fundamentals could not be changed in light of advances in science. So for example, the development of chaos theory in the classical regime of physics (starting in the 1970’s as I recall) and the distinction within physics between a classical system in its regular regime as opposed to being in its chaotic regime could not suggest any reformation of general metaphysics. Really, the total determinism that Rand-Peikoff attached to metaphysics under identity was an inheritance from modern physics (Laplace et al.) and is not properly part of right metaphysics, rather should be left open for physics to settle. In his book OPAR, Peikoff does acknowledge that when it comes to value theory, biology supplies the characterized phenomena, pertinent for philosophical fundamentals concerning value. In his dissertation, Merlin, Peikoff included Blanshard’s books The Nature of Thoughtand Reason and Analysis. He does not cite the former in his text or notes. He cites and makes specific explicit use of the latter from its pages 252–54 and 271–75. The former stretch lays out the traditional view that necessity (the one, as it happens, to be most often sainted by philosophers traditionally) arises only at the level of universals and essences; discerned at the level of conception, not perception. The latter stretch concerns conventionalist theories of logic. Merlin, I’ve inclined to the view of logic put forth by Rand (1957) and Branden (c. 1968) and Peikoff (1967, 1991) in their orientation towards logic as tool for successful thinking. (I reject Rand’s definition of logic in its differentia. I expect she was misled by a remark in Aristotle’s Metaphysics, which seems oblivious to his great achievement, theory of the syllogism, in Prior Analytics.) It has seemed plain that on the Objectivist orientation towards logic, material implication should not be incorporated. A lot of other thinkers have thought material implication off the mark for deficiency in the relevance factor, as had Blanshard. They developed Relevance Logic (also called Relevant Logic) as replacement for classical modern logic, and I think that the way to go and a way consonant with Objectivism also. I have books telling the history, concerns, and purposes that brought on material implication, but I’ll have to open them. I’ll let you know on your blog what I find.
  16. PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject– Conventionalism III To set myself the task “weed this patch of periwinkles” I may need to use language. The two popular weeds there at this season are dog violets and a native vine I don’t know the name of. Getting to the nub of that weed-vine among the thicket of periwinkle vines and pulling out the former without pulling out the latter is a challenge. Names and language do not seem to be enlisted in executing the task; they enable only my report of this work. The weed-vine and the periwinkle are of different leaf shape and color. Tug gently on the end of the weed-vine reaching for the sun. You won’t be able to see the weed-vine you’re tugging but a few inches before it disappears (leafless in this portion of it) among the thicket of periwinkle vines hugging the earth and putting down their roots continually along their way. But as you tug on the weed-vine, you’ll be able to find with your other hand that single vine being tugged. It is tightly tensed and in synchrony with any rhythm of tugs you apply with the other hand. Repeat from there, and eventually you arrive at the nub of the weed-vine and pull out that vine by the root. Pause at a step in which you have the single obscured weed-vine in each hand. Pull with the one hand, feel the pull in the other. That is a perceived connection between two distinct events. At this point, philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Hume and Kant stick up their noses. Not Locke. That applied force can be conveyed along a vine is a physical necessity. That different things in general (as example, weed-vines and periwinkle vines) are not same things is another type of necessity, logical necessity, however neatly it coincides with physical necessity. Logical necessity holds unconditionally and in all contexts. What I’ve called physical necessity is traditionally taken to be necessity under some sort of limiting conditions, and this necessity has been called a contingent connection, reserving necessary connectionfor logical (and other formal) necessity. The real distinction, I think contrariwise, should be in what aspects of things we are accessing and the different ways these two aspects are accessed. Peikoff 1964 points out that Locke avoided the contingent/necessaryterminology. Locke instead applied probable/certainto the division. We have seen in my section Aristotle II that Locke maintained we have by sensory perception instances of the general fact that different things are not same things and that a thing is never both A and not A at the same time and in the same respect. Philosophers, including Peikoff in 1964, are correct to fault Locke’s blurring under probable/certaina clear understanding that ampliative inductive generalizations over perceived instances do not suffice to land the absolute necessity in general principles of logic or pure mathematics. Peikoff notes on page 218 the parallel criticism in Hume’s famous dictum that we do not find in sense perception any necessary connection between distinct events (distinct impressions,in Hume’s own parlance and perspective). Countering Hume’s quandary, Kant attempted a radical subject-sided formulation of necessities such as the necessity in a principle of causality, a reformulation in which Kant would have objective temporal order of distinct events get the necessity of that order from a necessity of causal structure demanded by human mind. (Cf. Peikoff 2012, 32–33.) Locke had fogged up by his softening of the distinction between (i) the physical necessities one can sense and manipulate with the weed-vine in one’s hands and (ii) formal and metaphysical necessities. Nevertheless, I maintain Locke right in taking (i) to be the driver of (ii) and not the other way around, as philosophers from Plato to Kant and beyond would have it. British empiricism has its good sense even if it was never good enough. Locke was not really of one mind in this. Peikoff lays out an opposite strand also inAn Essay Concerning Human Understanding: IV 3.31, 4.6, 4.8, 9.1, 11.13–14. “What is Locke doing in such passages as these? He is now contrastingeternal truths and existential truths. The former are to be discovered only by ‘the examining of our own ideas’, and ‘concern not existence’ . . .” (222). Peikoff points out that the likes of platonist Cudworth or Leibniz had also maintained such a division, but for them consideration of our own ideas accesses the eternal truths as immutable relations in the divine understanding. Eternal truths such as the laws of identity and noncontradiction, as well as the essences of existing things, are givens to the human mind, independently of our self-examinations accessing them. But for an empiricist such as Locke, rejecting that rationalism, and joining considerable nominalism (the conceptualist wing of nominalism) concerning universal ideas to the empiricism, the divide between matters of fact and the eternal, formal truths can make conventionalism concerning the ground of logic “almost inevitable” (223). The leading German spokesman for conventionalism in science, geometry, and logic in the early years of the twentieth century was Hugo Dingler: “The application of the law of contradiction rests on my free will. . . and this is just what is called a stipulation [Festsetzung]” (1919, 14-15; quoted in Carus 2007, 120n14). “There is no other way to guarantee the general validity of a law other than its stipulation by the will” (1919, 13; Carus 119). Peikoff would not likely have known much about this history in 1964, much beyond, that is, what Popper wrote against it in his 1934 The Logic of Scientific Discovery. I want to point it out because although Dingler rejected as unfounded Kant’s basis of the necessity in geometry as arising from synthetic a priori judgments and Kant’s picture of how certain laws are a priori conditions of the possibility of any experience (Wolters 1988). Dingler is nonetheless a redo of Kant, of the first Critique,with conscious choice (of alleged conventions) replacing Kant’s mandatory structure in any sensory intuition and in any conceptualization of things external to mind. Though crucial, fundamental organization of mind on Dingler’s view is voluntary, and although Kant would shake his head over such free play as that, it remains that the organization is an a priori condition for the possibility of any experience or knowledge. Carnap will resist such radical conventionalism in the 20’s and 30’s. I’ll return in the next installment to the course of Logical Empiricism and the role of (still overextended) conventionalism in their characterization of logic and in the characterization by Dewey and by C. I. Lewis. I expect to yet dig into the fate of conventionalism concerning logic to the present day. Jumping out of chronological order, just now I want to be sure to mention—to show that conventionalism in logic remains a current and a concern in philosophy today—the section 6.5 “Logical Conventionalism” in Theodore Sider’s Writing the Book of the World (2011 Oxford). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Carus, A. W. 2007. Carnap and Twentieth-Century Thought – Explication as Enlightenment.Cambridge. Dingler, H. 1919. The Foundations of Physics: Synthetic Principles of Mathematical Natural Philosophy.Union for Scientific Publishing, Berlin and Leipzig. (In German.) Peikoff, L. 2012. The DIM Hypothesis.New American Library. Wolters, G. 1988. Hugo Dingler. Science in Context2(2):359–67.
  17. GB, two architects who have been inspired expressly by Ayn Rand are: John Gillis https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/stamford-connecticut-john-gillis Peter Cresswell http://organonarchitecture.co.nz/CLIENTS/Design_Consultation_Brochure.pdf
  18. Veritas, why can't Dr. Binswanger and others working within Rand's system take consciousness as awareness to be a first-person standpoint and fundamentally in contrast to a third-person standpoint such as when they say that consciousness is some sort of brain processing, which is to say physiological, which is to say physical? In other words, couldn't one say that in certain sorts of contexts it is sensible to say consciousness is physical and in other sorts of contexts consciousness is in stark contrast to the physical? Does what Binswanger writes rule out that option for him?
  19. This question of William’s has been very fertile. In his Intermediate Logic (1997), David Bostock argues there is a circumstance to be mentally entertained, a circumstance that has as its result that Modus Ponens would not be a valid rule of inference. Because of that result, he concludes that that circumstance is illogical (350–54). Because the circumstance pertains to empty referent for referring terms in logical relations, I incline to think all the more that knowing Modus Ponens is contained within and should be isolated within knowing consciousness is identification, where logic is understood to be a certain subdivision of verbal consciousness as identification. What then are the particulars of how we know the logic subdivision of such consciousness? Among those particulars should be how we know validity of Modus Ponens. As observational givens that William mentions, I think for Rand’s epistemology as it leads to knowledge of logical principles, we must start with verbal reports of observation such as “this pen still has ink” and “this board is less bowed than that one.” How we know such observational reports of ours are true when they are true is one layer of epistemology. How we know logic is a further layer of epistemology, and how we know Modus Ponens has to be part of that further layer of hows. Rand gestured in her epistemology that there are significant relations between (i) observation and elementary conceptual processes concerning observations and (ii) processes of induction and deduction (ITOE 28). That variety of induction would be most plausibly the sort of induction we know as abstractive induction (also known as intuitive induction). There was an attempt to expand on this gesture of Rand’s in the first chapter of David Harriman’s book The Logical Leap (2010), but it discussed the relation of observation, conceptualization, and ampliative induction, not abstractive induction. And the latter is what is relevant to how we know deductive logic.
  20. . Early Philosophical Interpretations of General Relativity
  21. The distinguished linguist James McCawley wrote: “I know of no one in linguistics who accepts the idea that the structure of one’s native language imposes limits on what thoughts one can think.” For example, “all languages have simple ways of referring to the future, but they don’t necessarily use tenses of verbs for that purpose. Speakers of English are no better at thinking in terms of the future than are speakers of Chinese, which has no tense forms at all, nor any worse than speakers of Kikuyu, which has distinct near future and remote future tenses.” These are excerpts from a letter on page 6 here. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Joseph Conrad and Ayn Rand were two excellent novelists in the English language, even though it was not their native language. Rand was also able to express philosophical ideas well in English. However, among people I've personally known, I've found that if English was not their native language, they have trouble understanding and expressing philosophical ideas with precision in English. So although grasp and expression of some ideas might be inherently more direct or more roundabout in one language or another as one navigates reality with it, I suggest that one's greatest competence for grasping reality is, for most of us, our own native language.
  22. PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Conventionalism II Logical empiricists rejected Kant’s synthetic a priori as a class of propositions, and they rejected as well Kant’s role of intuition in arithmetic and geometry. All a priori propositions were analytic for these twentieth century philosophers. Having taken that position, they took some modern philosophers before Kant, such as Leibniz or Hume, to have been on the right track; they saw Kant as a derailment. I should note that none of these twentieth century philosophers giving a significant nod to convention in logical principles, such as PNC, were epistemological skeptics. They found attractive Hume’s wall between abstract reasoning and matters of fact, which was similar to epistemological dipoles of their own. They could applaud his clipping wings of metaphysics. They treasured mathematics and modern empirical science, and they did not give an inch to religion. L. E. J. Brouwer threw a Kantian intuitionist spanner into the logical empiricist program in the late 1920’s. He formulated an intuitionist, constructivist, and finitary conception of mathematics which implied the invalidity of a significant portion of classical mathematics that had been developed by that time. Carnap proclaimed legitimate in broad perspective both the Brouwer system and classical mathematics by characterizing them as devoid of factual content and by leaving them to win the day according to which could best serve the formal deductive needs of empirical science.[1] The selection between Brouwer’s intuitionist mathematics and classical mathematics for the boosting of empirical science is not arbitrary. What is better suited or best suited to some end, such as boosting empirical science, is a matter of objective fact. The following, I notice, share nothing with the arbitrariness that enters convention (just as the need for a left-or-right-side driving rule shares nothing with the arbitrariness that enters the choice of which side): what is more rather than less convenient, what is more rather than less simple, and what is more rather than less practical. One slip into a subject-siding error in this neighborhood would be to say that because a model or a theory is more convenient or simple or practical, it is more likely to be true (or, stepping with Protagoras, it is what truth is). Within pure, unapplied geometry, it is false to say there is no correctness or incorrectness concerning hyperbolic geometry, elliptical geometry, and Euclidean geometry; all three are true within the discipline of pure mathematics. The impulse to consider these geometries as somehow not only distinct from, but as opposed to each other within pure geometry is wrong thinking. There is some truth to the conclusion of Poincaré and, later, the logical empiricists that question of which, between hyperbolic, elliptical, or Euclidean, within pure geometry is true (concerning their differences, not their commonalities) is a meaningless question. The context, I say, that makes such a question meaningless is a context in which there are facts, albeit facts not empirical. So Carnap was wrong to say additionally that purely formal disciplines and their systems are themselves devoid of factual content. It is misleading to confine usage of fact to empirical fact, just as it would be misleading to confine circumstance or form to empirical circumstance or empirical form. (My own view is that there are formal lays of the physical and ways of ours with the physical that are not empirical lays of the physical and not our empirical ways with the physical. Specifics are reserved for my book in progress.) Henri Poincaré died in 1912. He lived long enough to assimilate modern geometry and special relativity, and the Minkowskian geometric character of SR spacetime into his epistemological views on physics and on mathematics. Poincaré did not live to see the advent of general relativity (1915), with its condensations of the principle of inertia into spacetime geometry and gravitational force into inertial force, its spacetime structure affecting motions of mass-energy, and its distribution of mass-energy dictating spacetime structure, all at play in one super-fertile physical equation, Einstein’s field equation. Poincaré had over-extended the role of convention in both physical theory (kinematics and dynamics, including SR) and modern geometry. Those over-extensions have been soundly refuted, even without setting that much physics and physical geometry within general relativity. Those repudiations aside, general relativity was utterly devastating to the roles Poincaré had purported for conventions in physics and physical geometry.[2] The logical empiricists sometimes situated conventions in logical truths in ways self-consciously similar to ways Poincaré had (mistakenly) thought he found sturdy niches for convention in physics and geometry. That does not mean that every such mimic of Poincaré mistaken. I should say only beware, for separating what is conventional and what is not is not always easy, within one’s present context of knowledge. But the more important point I want to make for our present examination of possible connection of PNC ontological and epistemological character from Kant to conventionalism is that Poincaré held a generalized version of Kant’s synthetic a priori status for arithmetic, geometry, and fundamental mechanics. This generalized version with its niches for convention possessed those niches only due to advances in mathematics and science since the time of Kant. No shifting of ontology to the side of the subject nor deflation of ontology by Kant, in his specific ways, seems to be required for Poincaré to have made his conventionalist moves. And the logical empiricists made their conventionalist moves on logical truths, including PNC, without any reliance on, indeed in flat denial of the Kantian class of the a priori that is also synthetic. Kant’s critical philosophy further sealed the tomb of logical ontologism, but in my assessment thus far, Kant prepared no ground and planted no seeds for the spring of twentieth-century conventionalisms in the character of logic or its applications. But what about Kant via tributaries from neo-Kantians (viz., Marburg ones) into logical empiricism? (To be continued.) [1] Friedman 2010, 669–76. [2] Ben-Menahem 2006, 40–68; Friedman 2010, 642–64; Gray 2013, 525–33. ~~~~ Ben-Menahem, Y. 2006. Conventionalism. Cambridge. Friedman, M. 2010. Synthetic History Reconsidered. In Discourse on a New Method. M. Domski and M. Dickson, editors. Open Court. Gray, J. 2013. Henri Poincaré – A Scientific Biography. Princeton.
  23. SL, I don’t think that Rand’s character of categories requires that all concrete existents belong to one of those four categories and not to the other three. Those four are entity, action, attribute, and relationship. Firstly, one could take angular momentum, for example, to be truly an action but also an attribute, and a relation. Her way with categories is simply different than Aristotle’s way of absolutely unique categorization of a thing. (Please, anyone, correct me if I’m wrong about that point on Aristotle.) But secondly, and pertinent to the spacetime/mass-energy characterizations into Rand’s categories, it has seemed to me that anytime a concrete existent is understood as a system, one can rightly take it as an entity. For example, in AS 1016, Rand takes the solar system to be an entity. One could also take it as “this particular matter with such-and-such orbital angular momentum about the sun, also this other particular matter with such-and-such other orbital angular momentum about the sun, also . . .” Then we’ve a summation of actions of entities, not an entity. I’m comfortable with that sort of multiple categorization of a thing where it is true to a thing. So I’d think it fine to take spacetime in its global structures to be an entity even if locally it were not an entity, but a relationship. And in GR we’d take this room I’m in to be, over very short, shorter, . . . periods of time, as asymptotically an inertial frame of motion. I’m fine with taking the space contained by these walls and containing me as not only an entity containing other sorts of entities, and the spacetime entity I’ve here as asymptotically of zero curvature; but as well, as a collection of a certain kind of relationships between other sorts of entities. Probably the most important multiplicity of category that Rand employed was the ontological status of mind. As an operating system, an instrumentation and control system, it’s an entity. But it’s also a process and activity, that is, it falls in the category action. The utility of Rand’s categories seem somewhat like the utility of a certain easy network understanding of a thing, a hand-over-hand sort of comprehension of a thing (although this easy network is an alternation staying outside entity): “A pear is a kind of fruit which is a part of a pear tree which is a kind of plant which (with others) is a part of the biosphere.” (30) None of this entails, I should mention, that entity is a category not having primacy over other categories of existents, primacy in acquisition of language, in conceptual dependencies, and in ontological relations. [I notice that Kant's categories do seem to require no dual memberships. Perhaps that is because they are lifted from distinct logical forms of judgment. The latter could reflect basic ontological standings (contrary to Kant's conception of their ultimate source and justification). Kant's categories seem, however, less readily useful than a freer and more accessible set of categories such as Rand's.]
  24. First Earth-Based Radio-Wave Image of Galactic Black Hole (4/10/19) In general relativity, including in its combine with quantum field theory at the event horizon of a black hole (Hawking radiation), mass-energy is one thing and spacetime with all its curvatures is another thing. Mass-energy is an entity. Distribution of mass-energy in spacetime determines how spacetime will curve. A thing susceptible to such a dynamics is an entity, I'd say, or at least it is some sort of concrete existent. So I think of spacetime---even empty spacetime, i.e., even spacetime if it had no vacuum energy---as an entity. Spacetime curvature is a causal factor in how mass-energy moves. This too supports the classification of physical spacetime as an entity. In talking of entity and of concrete existent, I'm talking of some philosophical, metaphysical categories, specifically some categories in Ayn Rand's metaphysical scheme. That sort of broad framework is useful for assimilating and keeping somewhat unified all the areas of one's experience and learning. Methods of successful science are in part from rational philosophy (rational epistemology) down the ages as the discipline of philosophy assimilated and analyzed such success in science and mathematics as had been attained. However, in the mature sciences such as modern relativity physics, astrophysics, and astronomy, additional methods for success have also been forged by some scientists themselves (under their epistemology thinking cap, we might say) as they hunted what is in nature. .
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