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Boydstun

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  1. Jacob, I thought you might like to have these references in this thread. Ayn Rand on Concepts – Another Approach to Abstraction, Essences, and Kinds Allan Gotthelf [Edit: I see Ryan has just noted that one.] Aristotle’s Conception of Universality & Advent of Universals Gregory Salmieri* Here are some remarks of mine (2006) on the placement of Rand’s theory of concepts among contemporary theories (see also A, B, C). I have not treated the relation of Rand’s objectivist theory to contemporary forms of moderate realism, such as that of David Armstrong, John Bigelow,* or Andrew Newman.* Anyway, here is what I have: These questions remain lively in philosophy today: What, in reality, corresponds to a particular concept in the mind? What is the relation of universals to concrete particulars? What is the ontological status of concepts, of universals? Rand summarizes and critiques four traditional answers to those epistemological and metaphysical questions: extreme realism, moderate realism, nominalism, and conceptualism. The two realist schools regard concepts and universals as intrinsic, “as special existents unrelated to man’s consciousness—to be perceived by man directly,” though not by sensory means (53). The nominalist and conceptualist schools regard concepts and universals as subjective, “as products of man’s consciousness, unrelated to the facts of reality” (53).
 In Rand’s theory, concepts are regarded as objective, “as produced by man’s consciousness in accordance with the facts of reality, as mental integrations of factual data computed by man—as products of a cognitive method of classification whose processes must by performed by man, but whose content is dictated by reality” (54).[1] David Armstrong’s celebrated treatise on universals appeared in 1978. This watershed work classified all the traditional and contemporary schools (save Rand’s) under a great divide: realism and nominalism. Realism is divided into extreme and moderate realism, where these now include modern varieties, not only ancient and medieval varieties. The realist holds that in mind-independent reality, there are not only particulars, but universals. Nominalism is divided into predicate, concept, class, and resemblance nominalism. The nominalist holds that there is nothing in mind-independent reality besides particulars and that each particular is a single undifferentiated whole.[2] Under Armstrong’s characterization of realism and nominalism, we should say that Rand’s theory is neither. Rand holds that everything in mind-independent reality is a concrete particular. That includes recurring properties and relations. It includes the similarity relation (1, 10, 13–15). Unlike epistemologists in the moderate realist tradition, which includes Armstrong himself, Rand does not take for universals the multiple identical or similar entities, attributes, and actions that exist in mind-independent reality. The constitution of a universal requires also the membership relation and measurement relations in Rand’s view. These are not in mind-independent reality, though their bases are in mind-independent reality.[3] Rand’s theory is not realist, neither is it nominalist. In her view, the properties and relations on which universals and concepts are based—properties and relations such as identity, similarity, and having measurable dimensions—are concrete circumstances that occur independently of whether we grasp them and compose our concepts with them.
 Armstrong’s division of the schools and his arguments concerning their virtues and failings is the main currency with which subsequent academically successful work on universals has been transacted. What Rand had called nominalism would now be called predicate nominalism. What she had called conceptualism would now be called concept nominalism.[4] Predicate nominalism proposes that a particular object is a stone just in case “is a stone” applies to it. To say that the object is an instance of a stone is only to contend that the word stone correctly means such objects as this one. There is nothing more to the universal stone than the meaningful word stone. The universal is merely the shadow of the word.
 One objection to predicate nominalism is that stones are the kind stones before the predicate “is a stone” comes about. How could correctly saying of something that it is a stone be logically prior to the existence of the kind stones? It could not. Authentic predication is identification of identities (Boydstun 1991, 44–45). If identifying any and all concretes were logically prior to the existence of those concretes, then identifications of any and all concretes could be made before any such concretes existed. Like some monotheists, we might imagine such identifications prior to all concrete existence as residing in the divine understanding. This is not logically possible under Rand’s conception of logic. A wholly nonconcrete identifier has no identity and cannot exist (Rand 1957, 1016, 1035–37; 1966–67, 39, 79–82; 1974, 24–31). The existence and identity of some concretes is logically presupposed for authentic identifications. Most stones are among those preexisting concretes. Moreover, identification of stones designed by humans are not logically prior to the identities of these possible concretes. Identification in predication is not logically prior to identity.
 Being specifically a stone is more than having “is a stone” said of it. Predicate nominalism ignores the metaphysical objectivity of universals. The universal said in the general term stone is an aspect of particular existents held in a certain way by conceptual consciousness. Concept nominalism proposes that a particular object is a stone just in case it falls under the concept stone in the mind. But, surely, many particulars were stones before one obtained the concept stone subsuming those particulars. The argument just given against predicate nominalism goes through against concept nominalism.
[5] Predicate nominalism and concept nominalism do not countenance the circumstance that predicates and concepts are actions of consciousness holding as their object those aspects of existence that are under their correlate universals. They do not countenance universals. That is, they do not countenance the circumstance that the objects of predicates and concepts are aspects of existence held in a certain way by consciousness. These theories neglect universals and so neglect the sound anchorage of predicates and concepts to the world.
 Extreme realism about universals, as Rand remarked, proposes that universals are mind-independent existents that are the archetypes in terms of which concretes may be characterized. The archetypes are to be “perceived by man directly, like any other kind of concrete existents, but perceived by some nonsensory or extrasensory means” (53). A nice modern example of this sort of view is Kurt Gödel’s favored view of the epistemology and ontology of sets, in the theoretical sense of the term sets. Any collection of seventeen items is an instance of a certain single self-same finite set, which we may call S17. Gödel thought that just as we perceive by the senses some collection of concrete items that are seventeen in number, so the mind perceives purely intellectually the universal S17 of which that particular concrete collection is a member. In Rand’s view, all consciousness is a specific sort of action on a content, and this action is made possible by a specific means. That would be so for a direct intellectual perception no less than for a direct sensory perception (78–82). It is so for direct sensory perception. A sensory perception is an action of consciousness having a content that is some aspect of concrete particular existents. Gödel agreed that direct intellectual perception would require some definite means. He conjectured that there was some such means, so far unknown to us, but that it was independent of our sensory means of comprehending existence. To this day, the means of purely intellectual perception that Gödel envisioned remains undetected, not located, and unnecessary to suppose. We have available far less extravagant accounts of the objectivity of sets and our knowledge of them. These accounts invoke means that are at root sensory, and Rand’s is such an account. Rand would have us analyze the concept length as an attribute of many kinds of objects (and of the spaces between them). The attribute and its objects are given in perception. We can mentally isolate the attribute and consider it apart from the particular objects in which it has been perceived. Our concept of seventeen inches is a particular magnitude of length applicable to innumerable different objects and regions of space (6–8, 10–11). The concept number and the concept set are demonstrably implicit in the concept seventeen inches, seventeen pears, or seventeen anything. Abstract entities like numbers and sets are traceable to sensory perception. They are ontologically and cognitively objective. There is no need to take them to be intrinsic, no need to take them to be mind-independent archetypes accessed by mysterious means. We can account for them more realistically than is done by extreme realism.
 Notes [1] Rand’s definition of concepts as amended by me is that they are “mental integrations of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(s), with their particular measurements omitted or with the particular measurable forms of their common distinguishing characteristic(s) omitted” (Boydstun 2004, 285). (The italicized portion of this definition is Rand’s fundamental definition.) I have noted two senses of universals and have defined them as follows: “Universals as (abstractions that are) concepts are concept classes with their linear measure values omitted. . . . Universals as collections of potential concept-class members are recurrences on a linear order with their measurement values in place” (ibid., 286). Notice that in taking universals to be concept classes with or without their measurement values, universals are natural classes in the logicomathematical sense. These are not intrinsic in the intrinsic-subjective-objective trichotomy; they are objective.
 [2] Armstrong 1978, 11–16, 48. Since the appearance of Armstrong’s book, a third major class of theories has grown up, and these are called trope theories. These hold that mind-independent reality includes no universals, but that in addition to concrete particulars such as tables, mind-independent reality includes tropes (abstract particulars) such as the temperature of a particular table. A trope in one concrete particular may resemble, but is never perfectly the same as, a trope in another concrete particular (Rodriguez-Pereyra 2002, 22–23). Rand’s is not a trope theory.
 [3] See further, Boydstun 2004.
 [4] See Armstrong 1978, 13–15. [5] Rand’s theory of universals is not class nominalism because in her view the classes that are designated by concepts are not arbitrary collections (1966–67, 13). Her theory of universals is not resemblance nominalism since her theory does not take resemblance, or similarity, as an unreduced primitive. Rand analyzes similarity in terms of identical measurable attributes possessed in various degrees by the things perceived as similar (13). Identity, differences, and differences of degree are the eminent primitives in Rand’s theory, and they are taken to be in the world independently of our cognitions concerning them. See also Register 2000, 211–12; Den Uyl and Rasmussen 1984, 15–18; Jetton 1998, 64–65; and Saint-André 2002. References Armstrong, David 1978. Nominalism and Realism. Volume 1 of Universals and Scientific Realism. Cambridge: University Press.
 Boydstun, Stephen 1991. Induction on Identity. Part 2. Objectivity 1(3):1-56. 
 ---------. 2004. Universals and Measurement. Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 5(2):271-305. 
 Den Uyl, Douglas, and Douglas Rasmussen 1984. Ayn Rand's Realism. In The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Jetton, Merlin 1998. Pursuing Similarity. Objectivity 2(6):41-130. Rand, Ayn 1966-67. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Expanded 2nd ed. Harry Binswanger and Leonard Peikoff, editors. New York: NAL Books. Register, Bryan 2000. The Universality and Employment of Concepts. Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 1(2):211-44. Rodriguez-Pereyra, Gonzalo 2004. Resemblance Nominalism. Oxford: University Press. Saint-Andre, Peter 2002. Conceptualism in Rand and Abelard. Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 4(1):123-40. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Note, an error in the preceding: It is a common mistake concerning Gödel's realist view on the ontology of sets. Gödel did not maintain that the means of purely intellectual perception (mathematical intuition) in mathematics and set theory is distinct from the conceptual faculty that operates on sensory perceptions. He writes in 1963: "Evidently the 'given' underlying mathematics is closely related to the abstract elements contained in our empirical ideas." Gödel was not proposing a second conceptual faculty. He was proposing that the relationship between the abstract elements in our concepts and reality differs in kind from the relationship of our sensory data to reality. So the argument I made against Gödel's platonist view in my preceding survey is irrelevant. For this correction, I am indebted to a note in "Truth and Proof: The Platonism of Mathematics," by William Tait. This essay is contained in his book The Provenance of Pure Reason (OUP 2005). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ By the way,
  2. Notes on GM electric propulsion for automobile: A, B
  3. In the summer of 1937, Ayn Rand wrote Anthem. At the core of this manifesto of individualism she set a foundational sequence of thoughts: “I am. I think. I will.” In 1943 in The Fountainhead, Rand wrote of the secular sense of soul: the inner you, “the thing that thinks and values and makes decisions” (GW II 454; also HR IV 582–83, and XVIII 737).[1] The protection of man is a thought in the mind of a man, and fundamentally, “not the content of that thought, nor the result, . . . nor the will . . . that [makes] it real—but the method of his thought, the rule of its function . . . .” (HR I 548). Roark tells Wynand “We live in our minds, and [our] existence is the attempt to bring that life into physical reality, to state it in gesture and form” (HR II 558). Roark’s self-conception has a hint of what Friedrich Schelling would have called an unconditioned, or absolute being. Roark remarks “I never think of myself in relation to anyone else. I just refuse to measure myself as part of anything. I’m an utter egotist” (HR IV 631). This self-standing of the purely selfish ego is absolute not with respect to the limit of widest existence, but with respect to the limit of a person’s social surroundings. In his egoism, Roark is sovereign “in the realm of values, of judgment, of spirit, of thought” (HR XI 658). In Roark’s courtroom speech near the close of Fountainhead, Rand included the following fundamental ideas: By the summer of 1945, Rand’s crafting of the foundational core of her philosophy had reached this stage: “Any conception or discussion of man’s existence is an axiom implying three parts: that man exists, that an objective world exists around him, and that he has the faculty of rational consciousness which enables him to know the external world” (Note, quoted in Harriman 1999, 300). Her transformation of the foundation for her philosophy, from ’37 to ’45 consisted of the shift of perspective: From I am to Man and the objective world exists. From I think and will to Man has rational consciousness of the world.[2] By the fall of 1949, Rand had formulated her far-reaching and settled view on the basic nature of consciousness and logic. From her Notes: “Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification. / The essence of consciousness is identification” (ibid., 612). By the summer of 1953, Rand had in her notes “Existence Exists—A is A” (ibid., 646). As readers of Rand 1957 know, she no longer rested her systematic philosophy on I am nor on Man exists. Rather, on Existence exists. She retained the old work for I am: “I am, therefore I’ll think” (AS 1058). That counter-Cartesian thrust had been set already in print in 1943, and in ’57 it is magnified by being set within a widest metaphysics of existence exists, existence is identity, and consciousness is identification of existence (AS 1016). “Existence exists—and the act of grasping statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness [of existence]” (AS 1015). One’s self is one’s mind (AS 1030). “Self-esteem is reliance on one’s power to think. The ego . . . that essential ‘you’ . . . is not your emotions or inarticulate dreams, but your intellect, that judge of your supreme tribunal” (AS 1057). “By refusing to say ‘It is’, you are refusing to say ‘I am’ (AS 1018). It is instructive to compare Rand’s final configuration of existence, consciousness, and ego with their configuration by Schelling, as of his famous 1800 work System of Transcendental Idealism.[3] The objective component in knowledge is what we call nature. The subjective component is called “the self, or the intelligence” (5). Nature is what can be presented to us; it is the non-conscious. Intelligence is the purely presentative; it is the conscious. Truth is the non-accidental coincidence of presentations with their objects. In knowledge there is, necessarily, reciprocal concurrence of the conscious and the non-conscious. Schelling sets himself the task of explaining how that concurrence takes place. Natural science, without realizing it, works on the question “How does intelligence come to be added to nature, or how does nature come to be presented” (5). “This and nothing else is at the bottom of the urge to bring into the phenomena of nature.—The highest consummation of natural laws into laws of intuition and thought” (6). Nature develops so as to become an object to herself, an intelligence. “The dead and unconscious products of nature are merely abortive attempts that she makes to reflect herself” (6). Nature’s aim is attained in man, or, more generally, in “what we call reason, whereby nature first completely returns into herself, and by which it becomes apparent that nature is identical from the first with what we recognize in ourselves as the intelligent and the conscious” (6). That is the outline of an approach to explaining how in truth presentation coincides with object and how in knowledge the conscious and non-conscious concur. That is the approach of nature-philosophy. (See Schelling 1799 and 1803.) It describes in a grand arc how the subjective is derivative of the objective. That way of exposing the unity of object and subject, explaining truth and knowledge, is perfectly valid according to Schelling. But there is a second valid way, which Schelling calls transcendental from its kinship to leading methods in Fichte and Kant. In Schelling’s transcendental approach, one begins with subjectivity alone, as ground of all reality. Innately, we are convinced “that there are things outside us,” things other than self (8). The truth of this conviction cannot be disproven, nor proven, by inference from something else. The transcendental task Schelling sets for himself is to demonstrate that I exist entails by identity there are things outside me (7–9). What does one know unconditioned by factors external to self? One knows the purely formal A=A, where A is abstracted from all particular content. In such abstraction, this formula comes only to this: “In thinking A, I think nothing else but A”( 22). Well, “having thought A, I admittedly think of it as A; but how then, do I come to think of A in the first place? If it is a concept freely engendered, it begets no knowledge; if it is one that arises with the feeling of necessity, it must have objective reality” (22). Genuine knowledge has its object outside itself. A proposition that is knowledge has subject and predicate linked not “by the mere identity of thinking, but by something alien to the thought and distinct from it” (22). Such propositions are called synthetic, in contrast to analytic ones stating relations of identity only within thinking. Only in synthetic propositions do we find genuine knowledge. “The whole of our knowledge consists of nothing but synthetic propositions” (22). If there is some point in which the identical and the synthetic are one, we shall have there a spring for certainty in synthetic propositions, thence in all our knowledge. At such an originating point, “being and presentation are in the most perfect identity” (24). There, “subject and object are immediately one” (24). It is obvious now that the desired point is in self-consciousness, where the presented and that which presents are the same. Self-consciousness is a free act of thought. Thinking is not the consciousness we have in an involuntary succession of presentations. The proposition I think has an actual predicate. The proposition I am has only potential predicates; it is “the locus of an infinity of possible predicates” (26). The self knowing I am is purely act, making itself by its doing. The self as the producing of itself stated in I am is what stands in Schelling’s fundamental postulate and principle of philosophy: self=self. Here, product is identical not only with product, but with its own producing (26–30). Self=self converts A=A into a synthetic proposition. There is some ambiguity and hand-waving in Schelling’s presentation of his thought. His philosophy is sufficiently clear in this 1800 work for definite comparison with Rand’s philosophy (and with Kant, Reinhold, and Fichte, whose ideas are refashioned into Schelling’s own edifice). Rand, too, makes A is A into a form of all true existential propositions, a form beyond the keeping of a thing with itself and the tracking of that keeping in thought. This she does by the conception existence is identity (where identity answers what) and the conception of logic as presupposing existence exists. Schelling does not have Rand’s conception that consciousness is fundamentally identification of existence. “Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification” (AS 1016). That is the basic connection of subject and object. Let us see some more of Schelling’s attempt to arrive at there exists things outside me from I exist by showing their identity. The self who knows the self-construction of I am should not say, strictly speaking, that it exists. Rather, “it is being-itself” (32). The self of I am does not possess the predicates of determinate, conditioned things. Such things derive from the free act that is self-constructed self. Unlike things, this self is unconditioned and free. This the self knows directly and most surely. Freedom is more fundamental than even being, which “in our system is merely freedom suspended” (33). Kant had answered Hume’s subversion of rational causal necessity in experience by arguing that a principle of causality is required else experience is not possible. Similarly, Schelling argues against the subversion of human free will stemming from total determination of physics and physiology by arguing that knowledge of the deterministic world is only possible if it is a manifestation of the thought I am, the free act I am. In the self, freedom and restriction are cohorts; the self cannot be one without being the other (35). As the self, originally pure activity, becomes an object for itself, it wins the concept of something limited and restricted. The pure producing self could never become product unless it set limits on itself. This limit on producing cannot be had without the self opposing something to itself (36). The freedom of the self is expansive. It cannot expand its boundary without acting on the boundary and “cannot act upon it unless the boundary exists independently of this action. Hence the boundary becomes real, only through the assault of the self against it” (39). The boundary there is beyond one is real, but as the boundary depends on the intellect I am, it is also ideal. As Kant’s transcendental idealism would set out the world of experience as at once empirically real and transcendentally ideal, so Schelling’s transcendental idealism (drops Kant’s noumenal realm and) sets out the real and ideal as an endless dynamic of the self-conscious self. Rand does not concur with Schelling’s nature-philosophy. Philosophy is not to derive consciousness from existence. Consciousness is necessarily acknowledged in comprehending the statement existence exists (AS 1015; ITOE 249). There is no need to make the act of consciousness a prior of being in order to warrant assertion of the reality or freedom of thought. With consciousness most fundamentally identification, utterly dependent on independent existence, there is no need to retain the religious model of world-making intelligence as the manner of coincidence between the world and the human mind. So Rand also does not concur with Schelling’s transcendental idealism, his subsequent objective idealism, his idealism.[4] Existence exists. Existence is identity. All things have specific natures or are specific natures. A is A. Man is man. Consciousness is identification of existence. The consciousness that is thinking is volitional. Notes 1. See also Rand’s first notebook for Fountainhead on page 78 of Harriman 1999. 2. Rand’s 1938 protagonist in Anthem is given these lines: “All things come to my judgment, and I weigh all things, and I seal upon them my ‘Yes’ or my ‘No’. Thus is truth born. Such is the root of all Truth and the leaf, such is the fount of all Truth and the ocean, such is the base of all Truth and the summit. I am the beginning of all Truth. I am its end” (quoted in Mayhew 2005a, 39; see also Milgram 2005, 17–18). This sounds subjectivist. I think, however, Rand is only affirming in this passage that all judgment of truth is individual and that all truth we render from the world is for our own final value. Those lines in Anthem (in ’38; excised in ’46) are preceded by these: “It is my eyes which see, and the sight of my eyes grants beauty to the earth. It is my ears which hear, and the hearing of my ears gives its song to the world.” Something is seen, and with the subject, it is rendered beautiful. Something is heard, and with the subject, it is rendered song of existence. Something is given, and with its recognition, it is rendered truth. A subjectivist reading of ’38 is unsustainable given the protagonist’s discovery of scientific truths by (in part) his own physical experimentation in defiance of doctrine accepted merely on authority. Furthermore, the subjectivist reading is unsustainable given Rand’s portrayal of protagonists in We the Living (1936) as set on objective reality contrary to Communist mockups and mandates of reality. 3. This work was 10 years after Kant’s third and final Critique; 7 years after Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre and 7 years before Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. 4. Schelling reaches his philosophy known as objective idealism in 1801 in Darstellung meines Systems der Philosophie (Exposition of My System of Philosophy). This work is not available in English. Consult Beiser 2002, chapter 6. References Beiser, F. C. 2002. German Idealism: The Struggle against Subjectivism, 1781–1801. Harvard. Harriman, D., editor. 1999. The Journals of Ayn Rand. Plume. Mayhew, R. 2005a. Anthem ’38 & ’46. In Mayhew 2005b. ——., editor. 2005b. Essays on Ayn Rand’s Anthem. Lexington. Milgram, S. 2005. Anthem in Manuscript: Finding the Words. In Mayhew 2005b. Rand, A. 1938. Anthem. Cassell. ——. 1943. The Fountainhead. Macmillan. ——. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. Random House. ——. c. 1970. Seminar Transcript. In Appendix of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. 2nd ed. H. Binswanger and L. Peikoff, editors. 1990. Meridian. Schelling, F.W.J. 1799. First Outline of a System of Nature. K. R. Peterson, translator. 2004. SUNY. ——. 1800. System of Transcendental Idealism. P. Heath, translator. 1978. Virginia. ——. 1803 [1797]. Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature. 2nd ed. E. E. Harris and P. Heath, translators. 1988. Cambridge.
  4. . I met Jimmy here in 1993. He was not “opposed to the ARI” as I recall. I remember him as simply an Objectivist, interested in all its areas of philosophy.
  5. . An accidental coincidence with #6: We watched The Asphalt Jungle last evening. Excellent in every way. A couple of years ago, through Netflix, we watched the first season of two old television programs, and I found them very enjoyable these decades after their creation: Gunsmoke and Route 66. These are not movies, but I mention them as I think viewers here would find one episode of 66 in particular quite an experience. Some might recognize something of themselves in it. It is called Ten Drops of Water.
  6. Leonid, In America there is a saying by people who love New York City: “New York, New York, is there any place else?” In those pages of We the Living under discussion, Rand recalls a similar saying about Petrograd, whose residents “wonder, sometimes, at the strange bond that holds them. After the long winter, they curse the mud and the stone, and cry for pine forests; they flee from the city as from a hated stepmother; they flee to green grass and sand and to the sparkling capitals of Europe. And, as to an unconquerable mistress, they return in the fall, hungry for the wide streets, the shrieking tramways and the cobblestones, serene and relieved, as if life were beginning again. ‘Petrograd’, they say, ‘is the only City’” (229). Rand and her character Kira loved the city Petrograd. That she spoke without much criticism of and with some favor in its manner of creation is not an unqualified approval of Peter and his project. “‘Petrograd’, its residents say, ‘stands on skeletons’. / Petrograd is not in a hurry; it is not lazy; it is gracious and leisurely, as befits the freedom of its vast streets. . . .” (226–27). The city as a directed basic construction and its resulting feel, particularly by the early twentieth century, are things the author clearly loved. That the massive construction project be planned and directed by Kira, with willing workmen executing her orders, rather than directed by Peter in his historical manner, would bring at least as well what was essential in its character: the spirit of man. As you know from my essay, love of city and technology was a permanent difference between Rand and Nietzsche. Kinship with Nietzsche on these pages of We the Living would include Rand’s side with masculinity (of Petrograd) in contrast to femininity (of Moscow). Also in kinship (with Nietzsche, but also with Emerson) would be Rand’s siding here with man the individual, as against men the collective. I recall you have said that English was your third language, Russian your first. I do not recall where you lived in Russia nor your age there. Did you ever live in or visit Leningrad? Have you read We the Living? Your perspective on it could be quite fresh for us to hear, and anyway you might find this novel a real experience. At the time Rand wrote this novel, she would not have known that Stalin was a strong fan of Peter. (I say strong fan, putting mildly. I was a fan of Peter myself, when I read a child’s biography of him in the fifth grade.) As you know from my essay, Rand eliminated reference to the fact that in post-revolutionary Russia there were no subways (such as that in New York) in her final draft of the novel. I suggested that that was in part due to Stalin’s big-propaganda opening of the Moscow subway just in time for the final draft. Had she known of how Stalin was comparing himself to Peter, she might have had second thoughts about her use of Peter in We the Living. I concur with Nerd in the feel of Hugo in these pages of the novel. I shall always associate the name Ayn Rand when I think of St. Petersburg. When I have visited Paris, I have begun and ended at Cité in front of Notre Dame. Forever it is Hugo’s city to me.
  7. . At the Objectivist Summer Conference 2011, Shoshana Milgram, Robert Mayhew, and Onkar Ghate will discuss new chapters they have written for the forthcoming expanded edition of Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living.* My own discussion of We the Living is here: 1, 2, 3, 4
  8. . The 2011 Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association will be April 20–23 in San Diego at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel. The session of the Ayn Rand Society will be April 23rd (6:00–8:00 p.m.). The topic will be Rand and Punishment. The speakers will be David Boonin* and Irfan Khawaja. The session will be chaired by George Sher.* The first in the series AYN RAND SOCIETY PHILOSOPHICAL STUDIES has been issued. Its title is Metaethics, Egoism, and Virtue: Studies in Ayn Rand’s Normative Theory, Gotthelf and Lennox, editors (2011).* The APA general sessions will include a symposium on Uncommon Virtues: Creativity, Productivity, and Pride. The speakers will be Christine Swanton and Allan Gotthelf. The commentators will be Helen Cullyer and Gregory Salmieri. This session will be April 22nd (1:00–4:00 p.m.). Pride as a Virtue: Learning from Aristotle and Ayn Rand – Allan Gotthelf ABSTRACT In this paper I discuss pride as a trait of character and a principle of action. I draw significantly on the analyses by Aristotle and Rand, and endorse and defend their shared thesis that pride is a central moral virtue. In the course of this defense I will explore the value of self-esteem to a human life, and the connection between the virtue of pride and this value of self-esteem. That will position us to examine the roots of the historically frequent attack on pride as a great vice. I will conclude with a brief account of the way in which pride is a precondition both of Aristotelian character-friendship and a genuine romantic love. Virtues of Creativity and Productivity, Moral Theory, and Human Nature – Christine Swanton ABSTRACT In this paper I show the centrality of virtuous creativity and productivity in a life of virtue. Certain tendencies in moral theory have downplayed the distinction between action and production as ethically central, including Aristotle’s distinction between action and production, and his relegating the latter to secondary status. Drawing on insights of Nietzsche, Rand, and the philosopher-psychologist Otto Rank, who was greatly influenced by Nietzsche and for whom creativity is central to self-love and thereby healthy love of other, I show that the creative productive life is central to human nature and the healthy development of the self. However, not all creativity is virtuous: some forms of what Rank calls “creative will” are unproductive, destructive, and expressive of self-contempt. An account of creative and productive virtues is required for what might be called an “ethics of creativity.” Two other APA general sessions have subjects intersecting Allan Gotthelf’s subject: A colloquium on Friendship on April 23rd (4:00–6:00 p.m.) comprises the following two papers, with comments from Noell Birondo and John Anders. Aristotle on the Conditional Final Value of Friends – Matthew Walker ABSTRACT Aristotle’s account of the value of friends generates what I call the instrumentality problem: Can Aristotle simultaneously (i) argue that friends possess sufficient final value as to be essential constituents of the happy life, yet (ii) appeal to the utility of friends for eliciting self-awareness as part of his case for (i)? In this paper, I argue that Aristotle’s account of friendship can respond to the instrumentality problem. By adopting a key distinction of Christine Korsgaard’s, I argue for a reading of Aristotle according to which the value of friends for their own sakes—the “final” or “end” value of friends—is (in part) conditional upon their usefulness in eliciting self-awareness. On this reading, Aristotle’s account can reasonably appeal to the utility of friends, but in a way that does not reduce their value to that utility. Friendship and Enlightenment in Kant – Brian Watkins ABSTRACT Kant claims, on the one hand, that friendship is a privileged site for self-disclosure while, on the other hand, he warns that friends should not become excessively familiar with each other. Some have argued that this tension is a result of the difference between the kind of friendship Kant thinks we can achieve and the ideal. By contrast, I argue that, for Kant we have achieved the best kind of friendship not when we find someone with whom to share everything, but, instead, when we find someone with whom we can discuss those things that are actually worth revealing, namely, what we think when we think for ourselves. In other words, the best kind of friends are those who feel free to use their reason and participate together in what Kant calls enlightenment. A colloquium on Aristotle’s Ethics on April 20th (1:00–4:00 p.m.) includes the following paper, with comments from Corinne Gartner. Self-Love in the Aristotelian Ethics – Jerry Green ABSTRACT The Nicomachean Ethics is nearly universally given pride of place in Aristotle’s ethical corpus. I argue there is at least one topic in Aristotle’s ethics where this is a mistake. In the >Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle presents self-love as the paradigm form of friendship, using it to explain how love of others occurs and why it is an important component of eudaimonia. But self-love has some theoretical problems, one of which is that it cannot be reciprocated the way Aristotle argues friendship requires. In the Eudemian Ethics, Aristotle addresses this worry, and uses it to motivate a modified view from that of the Nicomachean Ethics this change is difficult to explain if the Nicomachean Ethics were Aristotle’s last word on the subject, but makes perfect sense if the Eudemian Ethics were the revised version. This suggests we should follow Aristotle in turning to the Eudemian Ethics for Aristotle’s considered view.
  9. . A Geometric Theory of Everything Garrett Lisi and James Owen Weatherall* Scientific American – December 2010 Get it for six bucks on the stand now. From the editors’ In Brief:
  10. There are a few typos, and one longish quotation that was to be made into a block quote was not. I will try to proof better next time. None of the typos alters meaning. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mysticism – Kant and Rand Reason / Intuition / Feeling References
  11. References Allison, H., and P. Heath, editors, 2002. Immanuel Kant – Theoretical Philosophy after 1781. Cambridge. Beiser, F.C. 2002. German Idealism. Harvard. Denyer, N. 2007. Sun and Line: The Role of the Good. In Ferrari 2007. Efron, R. 1968. Biology without Consciousness. The Objectivist (Feb-May). Emundts, D. 2008. Kant’s Critique of Berkeley’s Concept of Objectivity. In Garber and Longuenesse 2008. Feder, J., and C. Garve 1782. The Göttingen Review. In Sassen 2000. Ferrari, G.R.F., editor, 2007. Companion to Plato’s Republic. Cambridge. Garber, D. 2008. What Leibniz Really Said? In Garber and Longuenesse 2008. Garber, D., and B. Longuenesse, editors, 2008. Kant and the Early Moderns. Princeton. Gregor, M.J., editor, 1996. Immanuel Kant – Practical Philosophy. Cambridge. Guyer, P. 2008. Kant’s Transcendental Idealism and the Limits of Knowledge: Kant’s Alternative to Locke’s Physiology. In Garber and Longuenesse 2008. Kant, I. 1770. Inaugural Dissertation. D. Walford, translator. In Theoretical Philosophy 1755–1770. 1992. Cambridge. ——. 1781, 1787. Critique of Pure Reason. W.S. Pluhar, translator. 1996. Hackett. ——. 1783. Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. G. Hatfield, translator. In Allison and Heath 2002. ——. 1785. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. M.J. Gregor, translator. In Gregor 1996. Cambridge. ——. 1786. Conjectural Beginning of Human History. A.W. Wood, translator. In Zöller and Louden 2007. ——. 1788. Critique of Practical Reason. M.J. Gregor, translator. In Gregor 1996. ——. 1790a. On a Discovery whereby Any New Critique of Pure Reason Is Made Superfluous by an Older One. H. Allison, translator. In Allison and Heath 2002. ——. 1791. On the Miscarriage of All Philosophical Trials in Theodicy. G. di Giovanni, translator. In Wood and Giovanni 1996. ——. 1793a (1804). What Real Progress Has Metaphysics Made in Germany Since the Time of Leibniz and Wolf? H. Allison, translator. In Allison and Heath 2002. ——. 1793b. Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. In Wood and Giovanni 1996. Cambridge. ——. 1793c. On the Common Saying: That May Be True in Theory, but It Is of No Use in Practice. In Gregor 1996. ——. 1796. On a Recently Prominent Tone of Superiority in Philosophy. H. Allison, translator. In Allison and Heath 2002. ——. 1797. The Metaphysics of Morals. In Gregor 1996. ——. 1800. Preface to Reinhold Bernhard Jachmann’s Examination of the Kantian Philosophy of Religion. A.W. Wood, translator. In Wood and Giovanni 1996. ——. 1803. Lectures on Pedagogy. In Zöller and Louden 2007. Kuehn, M. 2001. Kant – A Biography. Cambridge. Leibniz, G.W. 1704 (1765). New Essays on Human Understanding. P. Remnant and J. Bennett, translators. 1996. Cambridge. ——. 1710. Theodicy. E.M. Huggard, translator. 1951 (1985). Open Court. Locke, J. 1690. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Dover. Longuenesse, B. 1998. Kant and the Capacity to Judge. C.T. Wolfe, translator. Princeton. Mercer, C. 2001. Leibniz’s Metaphysics – Its Origins and Development. Cambridge. Miller, M. 2007. Beginning the “Longer Way.” In Ferrari 2007. Mueller, I. 1992. Mathematical Method and Philosophical Truth. In Companion to Plato. R. Kraut, editor. Cambridge. Nietzsche, F. 1888. The Anti-Christ. J. Norman, translator. 2005. Cambridge. Peikoff, L. 1967. The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy. In Rand 1966–67. ——. 1991. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Dutton. Pippin, R. 1982. Kant’s Theory of Form. Yale. Pistorius, H.A. 1786. On the “Elucidations of Professor Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason,” by Johann Schultze. In Sassen 2000. ——. 1789. On Carl Christian Erhard Schmid’s Essay about Kant’s Purism and Selle’s Empiricism. In Sassen 2000. Plato c. 428–348 B.C. Plato – Complete Works. J.M. Cooper, editor, 1997. Hackett. Rand, A. 1936 (1959). We the Living. Signet. ——. 1943. The Fountainhead. Bobbs-Merrill. ——. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. Random House. ——. 1960. Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World. In Rand 1982. ——. 1961a. For the New Intellectual. Title essay. Signet. ——. 1961b. The Intellectual Bankruptcy of Our Age. In The Voice of Reason. L. Peikoff, editor. 1990. Meridian. ——. 1961c. The Objectivist Ethics. In The Virtue of Selfishness. 1964. Signet. ——. 1966–67. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. 2nd ed. L. Peikoff and H. Binswanger, editors. 1990. Meridian. ——. 1972. The Stimulus and the Response. In Rand 1982. ——. 1974. Causality versus Duty. In Rand 1982. ——. 1982. Philosophy: Who Need It. Signet. Russell, B. 1914 (2004). Mysticism and Logic. Title essay. Dover. Sassen, B. 2000. Kant’s Early Critics. Cambridge. Schopenhauer, A. 1839. On the Basis of Morality. E.F.J. Payne, translator. 1995 (1965). Oxford. Sedley, D. 2007. Philosophy, the Forms, and the Art of Ruling. In Ferrari 2007. Siniossoglou, N. 2008. Plato and Theodoret: The Christian Appropriation of Platonic Philosophy and the Hellenic Intellectual Resistance. Cambridge. Tait, W. 2005. The Provenance of Pure Reason. Oxford. Underhill, E. 1925 (1988). The Mystics of the Church. Morehouse. Wood, A.W., and G. di Giovanni, editors, 1996. Immanuel Kant – Religion and Rational Theology. Cambridge. Zöller, G., and R.B. Louden, editors, 2007. Immanuel Kant – Anthropology, History, and Education. Cambridge.
  12. Feeling Kant brings forth biblical stories to interpret as conveying genuine truths of humanity in an allegorical way. The kind of interpretation to which Kant aspires is one in which elements in the allegory coincide with elements of practical reason, where the latter legislates absolute moral commands, considered in allegory as the voice of God, where the legislating reason is the same reason by which one forms the concept of God (1791, 8:264; see also 1788, 5:129; 1803, 9:49). One of the stories Kant interprets in this way is the story of The Fall and Original Sin (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12, 18). Kant’s own stand is that evil has to have some origin in the human constitution. It cannot originate in the necessitated nature that is rational animality, for then it would not be moral evil. Its fundamental root is the free allowance into one’s personal maxims for conduct conditionality upon sensory incentives, conditionality out of self-love, where only moral command from reason should rule. This installs a propensity to evil in the human being alongside the propensity to goodness that is given with freedom itself. Told as if it were the beginning of human evil in time, to assist limited powers of understanding among simple people, the story of Eve and Adam falling from divine grace tells of human constitution fundamentally innocent, but capable of originating human evil. The choice to eat fruit from one of the two forbidden trees was a free choice, which is to say, for Kant, a choice not necessitated by events preceding in time. Kant diverges from standard Christian biblical interpretation, which concludes that moral evil of humanity had a literal beginning in the history of the race, an evil that is thereafter passed down by biological inheritance. But the story of Adam and Eve rightly contains, by Kant’s lights, the idea that moral principles are from a type of command that excludes the influence of every incentive except obedience itself. It rightly portrays also the constitution of humans as we know them: as having a preponderance of sensory incentives over the incentives of law. Each individual freely and daily installs the propensity to evil into his personal constitution. He has a daily fall from innocence and suffers temptations enabled by that installation. This fall is somewhat different from the Mosaic allegorical first fall in human history. Adam and Eve fell while in possession of free and competent reason. Our own temporally first fall must lie in the course of the emergence of reason in childhood, and this earliest fall reason cannot fathom. We can know we are capable of improvement, and that is enough (Kant 1786; 1793, 6:39–53). Notwithstanding Kant’s distortions of scripture, the moral-tail (Lutheranism) is yet wagging Kant’s rational moral-animal. That tail, with its driving powers, is mystical. In her 1960 essay “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World,” Rand maintained that Kant’s morality is a version of altruism. To show by his texts that Kant’s conception of morality entails self-abnegation and self-sacrifice is straightforward under some usual senses of self. To show, further, that Kant’s ethics belongs to the species self-sacrificial that is self-sacrificial for the sake of other people (altruist) would be more involved. Perhaps I shall give that further thesis a trial in a future thread. Notice that Schopenhauer (1839) indicated a number of ways in which Kant’s ethics profoundly favors egoism (which Schopenhauer took to be a demerit of Kant’s theory). Moreover, Kant does not promote the abolition of self-love; he thinks there is a self-love good and rational when constrained by the moral law (1788, 5:73). Besides Rand’s representation that Kant’s morality is a version of altruism, she wrote: “He claimed that it was derived from ‘pure reason’, not from revelation—except that it rested on a special instinct for duty, a ‘categorical imperative’ which one ‘just knows’” (1960, 64–65). A year later, she wrote that the Kantian moral realm is beyond physical reality, the senses, and reason, a realm of “‘higher’ reality, labeled the ‘noumenal’ world, and a special manifestation, labeled the ‘categorical imperative’, which dictates to man the rules of morality and which makes itself known by means of feeling, as a special sense of duty” (1961a, 31; see also Rand 1974; cf. Schopenhauer 1839, §§4, 6; Nietzsche 1888, §9). In his 1764 work “Inquiry Concerning the Distinctness of the Principles of Natural Theology and Morality,” Kant mentions his search for a concept of moral obligation that would have objective grounds, like the fundamental truths of metaphysics, which are rightly not subjective. The necessity in metaphysical first principles should not rest on criteria of conceivability or feeling of certainty. Likewise it should be for the necessity in moral obligation (2:294). This much we know according to Kant: necessity of means to ends derives from ends necessarily right in themselves (2:298–99; cf. 1781[=A] 1787[=B], A585 B613, A634 B662, B868). Kant was in the Germanic tradition of thinking about morality under the concept of perfection. He accepted the formal rules “perform the most perfect action in your power” and “abstain from doing that which will hinder the realization of the greatest possible perfection” (1764, 2:299). But he was also lately taken by the ethical theories of Hutcheson and Hume. Kant writes: “The faculty of representing the true is cognition,” whereas, “the faculty of experiencing the good is feeling,” and these two faculties must not be confused with each other (2:299). Kant is unsure at this stage, however, whether it is the faculty of cognition or the faculty of feeling that decides the first material principles of ethics (2:300). To hold with the view that morality is based on moral sense or feeling goes radically beyond the safe saying that virtue presupposes feeling. Kant hesitates over taking the radical step. (See further, Kuehn 2001, 183–87.) By the time of his Inaugural Dissertation (1770), Kant has set aside the supposition that we have a distinct faculty of moral sense. Morality is still seen in terms of a concept of moral perfection, now taken to be a noumenal perfection. Here the term noumenal means simply the intelligible as opposed to the sensible. “Moral philosophy, . . . in so far as it furnishes the first principles of judgment is only cognized by the pure understanding and itself belongs to pure philosophy {pure, apart from sense}” (2:396). Kant has now come round to his settled view, for both theoretical philosophy and fundamental practical philosophy, that sense and sensibility should be kept radically distinct from intellect and intelligibility. Perfection is grasped conceptually. Fundamental principles of moral judgment are wholly an affair of the intellect. Happiness is partly sensory. Kant now has a systematic reason for keeping distance between happiness and virtue. In Kant’s view, one essential purpose of reason is to make our judgments systematic. Another essential purpose is to be a self-justifying moral legislator. “Essential purposes are either the final purpose itself or subsidiary purposes that necessarily belong to the final purpose as means. The final purpose is none other than the whole vocation of the human being” (A840 B868). At this stage (1781), Kant says the whole and general vocation of the human being is to become ever worthy of happiness. “Do that whereby you become worthy to be happy” (A809 B837). Kant’s system of morality “is linked inseparably—but only in the idea of pure reason—with the system of happiness” (A809 B937). “Morality in itself amounts to a system; but happiness does not, except insofar as its distribution is exactly commensurate with morality. This however is possible only in the intelligible {not sensible} world . . . .” (A811 B839). The world of morality is an intelligible world “in whose concept we abstract from all obstacles to morality (i.e., from inclinations)” (A809 B837). In that ideal world, happiness without fail would be proportionate with morality (A809–10 B837–38). Kant saw happiness as an integrated “satisfaction of all our inclinations” guided by prudence (A806 B834). Morality is the guide for worthiness to be happy. Happiness is a certain sort of intellectually comported feeling for Kant. That can be said of Rand’s conception of happiness also. In Rand’s system of morality, happiness is structured by moral virtues necessitated by the constitution of earthly life, in particular the human need of rationality for life. By contrast Kant resorts to mystical constructs beyond our world of sense and sound reason, to the Christian notions God and immortality for moral sanctions and for the moral shape of happiness. Because morality delivers rational, necessary commands, moral laws must be connected a priori with commensurate promises for and threats to welfare and happiness in an ideal limit. But such commanding, “the moral laws cannot do unless they reside in a necessary being that, as the highest good, can alone make such a purposive unity possible” (B840 A812). In Kant’s view, happiness is by itself incapable of being the complete good; happiness needs to be united with worthiness to be happy in order to instance complete goodness. On the other side of the union, “morality by itself—and with it the mere worthiness to be happy—is also far from being the complete good. In order for this good to be completed, the person who in his conduct has not been unworthy of happiness must be able to hope that he will partake of it” (B842 A814). To the earthly shortfall of happiness that ought to ensue one’s moral actions, Kant tried to leave open a not irrational hope, a rational faith, for happiness in life beyond the limit of the one we know. For such a shortfall, Rand rested with the entirely earthly consolation of having been touched by the rays of a morally ideal rational world (AS 1068). Rand does not treat lightly the innocent pain and sorrow in the lives of people who have walked or tried to walk the earth (1936, 432–46; 1943, ET XI 350–51; 1957, 988–94, 1059–60). For inspiration and consolation, one looks to what is possible to human beings on earth. Kant rejects moralities based on rational self-interest and one’s own happiness, moralities based on moral feeling or sense, moralities based on concepts of ontological perfection, and moralities based on concepts of divine, all-perfect will. This last approach has led to moralities that are in fact opposite morality: “desire for glory and dominion combined with dreadful representations of power and vengefulness” (1785, 4:443). According to Kant, the defectiveness of the first type of morality, of which Rand’s is an example, is that it fails to deliver absolute moral rules durable against incentives of sensory pleasure and pain and all variety of human situations. Although Kant programmatically makes conceptions of God and a perfect will dependent on his conception of pure reason’s right morality, his presuppositions against moralities of self-interest and happiness (from the Greeks to Leibniz to his own contemporary eudaimonists) continues some of the very dark view of human life on earth found in Paul, Augustine, and Luther. Kant thinks moral-sense morality mistaken because unable to “furnish a uniform standard of good and evil, and one cannot judge validly for others by means of one’s feeling” (1785, 4:442). He adds that at least such theories honor virtue by ascribing to it a direct moral delight and beauty, rather than taking hold of virtue merely for one’s own advantage. How could Rand write that in Kant’s theory, moral rules are known by means of feeling when he writes expressly to the contrary in Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785, 4:442)? It is possible Rand was not familiar with that part of Groundwork as of 1961a. By 1974, if not sooner, Rand had some direct familiarity with Groundwork, for she quotes 4:397–99 from it (1974, 96–97). Even were Rand familiar with Kant’s statements against feeling as a basis or sufficient criterion for morality in Groundwork (4:442) and in Critique of Practical Reason (1788, 5:71), she might reasonably wonder how, on Kant’s theory, one could really know the general and more particular moral duties falling to oneself save by feeling. Rand held that when one releases any topic—including morality—from critical, logical reason identifying and integrating pertinent perceptual evidence, then concerning that topic, one’s mind becomes “an emotion exempted from thought” (1957, 1036–37). I agree. In his fully exposed view, Kant does acknowledge an epistemologically basic kind of moral feeling. It is a feeling of respect for the moral law. This natural feeling, in Kant’s understanding, is not the basis of moral law, but it is an admissibility criterion for what could be a valid moral law (1788, 5:73–81, 92–94; 1973c, 8:283–85). Moral feeling is “a special sense . . . as it were. It is true that moral sense is often misused in a visionary way, as if (like Socrates’ daimon) it could precede reason or even dispense with reason’s judgment. Yet it is a moral perfection, by which one makes one’s object every particular end that is also a duty” (1797, 6:387; further, 399–400). In his theoretical philosophy, Kant had too starkly divided sensory processes from intellectual ones. He had affirmed sensory intuitions, but denied intellectual ones. In his practical philosophy, Kant starkly divides, on the one hand, sensory inputs and intellectual cognition of facts and, on the other hand, moral experience and reasoning. When he turns to moral philosophy, he continues to bar intellectual intuition; he permits, however, a direct nonsensory acquaintance with objective moral law. I think that content and cognizance of a code held to be opaque to ordinary reason will be in fact written and read by past experience and instruction and by feeling, better and worse. There is some variability in what people can come to think warrant feelings of respect or dignity. Kant thought that only something that could be an irreplaceable end in itself, above all market price, could have “inner worth, that is, dignity” (1785, 4:435). His idea was that moral necessity in all things derives from the necessity of respect for that which is genuinely and uniquely an end in itself: self-governing rational nature. Each person is to “treat himself and all others never merely as means but always at the same time as ends is in themselves” (1985, 4:433). Practical, moral necessitation Kant calls duty. Rand lays an importantly different end in itself as the ultimate end of moral action. Furthermore, the relation of that biologically given end in itself—individual life—to rationality is different than in Kant’s account. Kant was uniformly and adamantly opposed to “the turning of heads towards enthusiasm,” which is to say, towards emotionalism (1796, 8:398). Intimations of the supersensible inaccessible through conceptual understanding can promise no true knowledge of supersensible objects, rather “a surrogate thereof, supernatural information (mystical illumination): which is the death of all philosophy,” if passed off as philosophy (ibid.). In truth, according to Kant, our knowledge of the moral law is given, “not empirically (proposed to reason for solution), but a priori (as real insight within the bounds of our reason), and even extends the knowledge of reason up to the supersensible, but only in a practical respect: not by feeling, which purports to be the basis of knowledge (the mystical), but by a clear cognition which acts upon feeling (the moral)” (1796, 8:403). So Kant finishes, balanced between “pure reason” and “rational faith,” informed by some of the widely accepted religious outlooks of his childhood (cf. Kuehn 2001, 34–40, 47–48). Kant’s thought, for example, that a necessary feature of a distinctively moral principle is that it would entail pain for oneself by its adoption (1788, 5:73) is dusty old doctrine from his mystical, Christian, self-sacrificial culture.
  13. Intuition One philosophic home of spiritual mystics is idealism. Other homes are Platonism, Neo-Platonism, Aristotle-adapted-to-Islam-or-Christianity, rationalism, skepticism, and empiricism tied to either idealism or skepticism. In his Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff classes Plato, Plotinus, and Augustine as idealists (1991, 30). That is not without scholarly precedent (including that of Kant 1783, 4:375). I hew to the historically stricter sense of idealism. The import is that I class those three figures simply as spiritualists, who predated idealism. I take idealism to have a predisposition towards spiritualism, but not to be simply a narrower class within spiritualism. The erroneous alternatives spiritualism and materialism are each rooted in the error of taking consciousness to be fundamentally prior to existence, taking any putative knowledge of mind-independent existence to be dubious and to be settled by a consciousness that knows something of itself (Rand 1957, 1027, 1036–37, 1042, 1063; cf. 1961a, 14–20; Peikoff 1991, 20–21, 30–36). Tracking Kant, our focus will be on staging for mysticism provided by Platonic and idealist priority of consciousness, staging for denial of the reality of material existence. Such a progression is a slide from philosophy to mysticism. In “For the New Intellectual,” Rand described people of faith as mystics and as attempting to avoid “the necessity, the risk and the responsibility of rational cognition” (1961a, 15; also 1966–67, 79). A mystic desires immediate, involuntary, and infallible knowledge; he retreats from rational cognition to his emotions and visions of a supernatural realm (1961a, 14–15, 17). Rand notes that Plato’s philosophy as taken up by Plotinus and Augustine served well as handmaiden of theology in the Dark Ages (22; cf. 1957, 1051). That is commonly understood. More novel is Rand’s picture that the Scholastic debate between nominalists and realists degenerated into the early modern schools of rationalism and empiricism. She sees the rationalists as abandoning reality by not deriving knowledge from physical facts (1961a, 30). Descartes gave modern philosophy a wrong starting point in presupposing the existence of the external world not self-evident (28; also 1957, 1058). Rand saw rationalists such as Descartes as confederates of the mystics of spirit (1961a, 30). Berkeley was an empiricist and idealist. He had maintained that knowledge derives from the senses, though not by abstraction, and that there is no such thing as matter independent of perception. Berkeley was an empirical idealist. Kant called Berkeley’s idealism mystical. Rand passed the same verdict on Hegel’s absolute idealism (1961a, 33). In the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason (1781), Kant had criticized a general argument to the ideality of outer relations: Outer appearances cannot be perceived directly, but must be inferred as the cause of given perceptions. Inference to the existence of a cause is merely doubtful existence. Therefore existence of all objects of outer senses is doubtful (A366–67). Kant countered that objects of outer sense are given to us just as directly as objects of inner sense. If we will but accept matter as not more than matter as something in the realm of appearance, there is no need to trip down the Berkeley lane of idealism in which the reality of matter is denied. The existence of objects of outer senses need not be inferred from effects on inner sense. Inner objects are referred to inner sense. Outer objects are referred dually to inner and outer sense; one’s outer presentations exist, and they are presentations had by oneself, which also exists with each outer presentation (A369–72). In Kant’s critical perspective, spiritualism (pneumatism), materialism, and dualism are each falsely based positions if their affirmations are of things as they are outside appearance. Dualism is sensible and correct where we mean by it only that both matter and the thinking subject are given in sense, outer and inner (A379; see also B420, A406 B433, A690 B718). Kant’s idealism is not empirical, but transcendental. Kant’s transcendentalism is not realist, but idealist. The form of inner sense is time. The additional form of outer sense is space. Perception is of outer actualities in time and space. Those forms are not preexisting in the outer world, but come from us. So empirical realism is true, provided it does not exceed the rational limits of cognition by ascribing space and time (which are fixed subjective conditions of experience) to a putative physical world itself. On the other hand, empirical idealism is false. Transcendental idealism does not deny or doubt, rather it affirms, the actuality of the empirical world (A373–80). An anonymous review of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason appeared in 1782. The review was written by the German empiricists Johann Feder and Christian Garve. The opening paragraph is a snide caricature of transcendental idealism, which it refers to as a “higher idealism.” In the second paragraph, the reviewers report that Kant’s system (Text between curly braces { } in quotations is from me; text between square brackets [ ] is from the translator; text in parentheses ( ) is from the author.) Berkeley had been a figure much ridiculed in German philosophical circles. Kant was incensed at the review, and he replied to elements of the review he found offensive. This he did in an appendix to his Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783, 4:372–80). Kant points out, as one would expect, that his ideality of space and time does not transform the world into sheer illusion, which is precisely, Kant alleges, what Berkeley and all previous idealists had done (4:290, 374). Kant would now rather call his system formal or critical idealism (4:375). Transcendental misleads one to expect a visionary idealism. Kant’s system cuts down, he thinks, such idealism and in particular the “mystical and visionary idealism of Berkeley” (4:293). (See further, Emundts 2008. For the proper way to refute Kant’s idealism, see Pistorious 1786, 1789.) In the final and brief chapter of Critique of Pure Reason, Kant sketches different conceptions of metaphysics through the history of that discipline. Concerning the legitimate object of metaphysical thought, Kant contrasts the purely sensualist philosophers, such as Epicurus, with the purely intellectualist philosophers, such as Plato. Kant is saying that Plato’s realm of the intellect was mystical. As concerns the origin of our concepts, Kant poses Aristotle as the head of the tradition holding that concepts are derived from experience, Plato as the head of the tradition holding that concepts have an origin that is independent of experience. Kant goes on to say that “Locke has followed Aristotle, and Leibniz has followed Plato (although keeping sufficient distance from Plato’s mystical system)” (A854 B882; cf. Leibniz 1704, 47). Kant regards Berkeley’s system as mystical, but he does not regard the system of Leibniz as mystical. Why not? I think one reason is that Leibniz did not deny the reality of matter. Further, although Kant understood Leibniz as having “intellectualized the appearances” (A270 B326; also 1790a, 8:218–21, 148–49), which includes the material world, Kant would not have seen Leibniz as mystifying appearances as had been done for example by Malebranche (Kant 1770, 2:410). (On Kant’s understanding of Leibniz, see Garber 2008.) Kant would have seen Leibniz’ conception of human intuitive knowledge as simply adequate immediate apprehension (Leibniz 1704, 366–67, 434, 490), and his conception of human reason as adequate for truth without Platonic recollections of knowledge from a life earlier than our earthly one. Intuitive knowledge in Leibniz’ system is not visionary. Furthermore, Kant would applaud Leibniz’ emphasis on the coherence of our perceptual experience as a way of distinguishing it from a dream. Leibniz writes: Kant maintains that by his purely intellectual organization of sensory experience Leibniz cannot in fact “bring the propositions of experience into necessary agreement with . . . a priori mathematical assertions” (A40–41 B57). What is needed in addition to general logic in our cognitive repertoire for experience are Kant’s pure forms of sensory intuition (space and time) and his categories and principles of the understanding. Content supplied by the senses into this formal organization yields empirical knowledge universal and necessary (A57–60 B82–85). “Since truth rests upon universal and necessary laws as its criteria, for Berkeley, experience could have no criteria of truth, because its appearances (according to him) had nothing underlying them a priori; from which it then followed that experience is nothing but sheer illusion, whereas for us space and time (in combination with the pure concepts of the understanding) prescribe a priori their law to all possible experience, which law at the same time provides the sure criterion for distinguishing truth from illusion in experience.” (1783, 4:375) Kant pleads that his own idealism confines intuition to that of the senses and is oriented to “grasping the possibility of our a priori cognition of the objects of experience” (ibid.). Visionary idealism, by contrast, steps from a priori cognitions, such as in geometry, to non-sensory, intellectual intuitions, which are gateway to visionary, mystical realms (ibid.) Kant speaks of visionary idealists “from the Eleatic School up to Bishop Berkeley” (1783, 4:375). Kant’s understanding of Plato and Berkeley and of their alleged likeness in metaphysics and epistemology was congruent with contemporary German scholarship in the history of philosophy (Winkler 2008, 161–64). In what way does he think of Plato’s system as mystical? “From the way in which Plato employed the expression idea we can readily see that he meant by it something that not only is never borrowed from the senses, but that far surpasses even the concepts of understanding . . . inasmuch as nothing congruent with it is ever found in experience” (A313 B370; Republic 510d–e). Pure mathematics is a splendid achievement of intellectual reflection. The mystical bent imputed to Plato so far is this much: Plato holds there is a realm of original and most important truth that is accessible only by turning from the world of sense to a world of ideas not observed by sense, a world of ideas not obscured by sense, a world of intellectual understanding not restrained by sense. That much would place Plato at least at the door of mysticism. (Consider Phaedo 65b–67b, 74b–75d, 78d–79d, 99d–101e; Republic 507–17c, 525d–29, 596–97d, 602c–3a; Timaeus 28b–29b, 43c–44c, 45d–47c; Sophist 248a, 252e–54a.) Under my first dictionary definition of mysticism, Plato is thus far not entirely through the door of mysticism because although the Forms are beyond perceptual apprehension, they are not entirely beyond intellectual apprehension. Similarly, under part of Rand’s definition, Plato is thus far not fully through the door because although Plato is claiming a knowledge that is non-sensory, he is claiming a knowledge that is rational and definable. Then too, Plato does not hold that man’s mind is impotent. We can say, nevertheless, that Plato is walking right through the door of mysticism. Looking to Rand’s full definition, and to my second dictionary definition, we notice that Plato’s posit of the Forms is not groundless, and the posit is supported with arguments. But the ground is loose and the arguments shaky. Consider Plato’s doctrine that the Good (an intelligible form not adequately knowable) is most fundamental, that all being, truth, and susceptibility to being known are its derivatives (Republic 508d–509b). Under Rand’s conception of reason, an existential posit that is really contrary the senses is really contrary to reason. Plato’s posit of self-subsisting archetypical Forms, or Ideas, “distorts reality into a mystical construct” (Rand 1966–67, 53–54). Dr. Peikoff maintains, furthermore, that at least some of Plato’s intellectual apprehension of Forms is intuition, another mark of mysticism contra reason (1967, 95–96). William Tait argues powerful well against the view that Plato’s texts uphold intellectual apprehension of Forms as knowledge by acquaintance, thence by intuition (2005, 166–67, 180–81, 190–92). One of Rand’s definitions of mysticism was worded this way: “Mysticism is the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, non-identifiable means of knowledge, such as ‘instinct’, ‘revelation’, or any form of ‘just knowing’ (1960, 62–63). Insofar as Plato has the Forms knowable to humans in their earthly life, they are not known by reason in Rand’s sense. They are not known with support of senses and by logical identification and integration of perceptual material. They are not known by this sayable positive way or that, set out in positive, literal relations to sense and reason (Republic 508d–509a). Intellectual apprehension of the Forms is left by Plato as “just knowing” (and partly as something beyond knowing, something not definable), notwithstanding his intimations that knowledge of the forms is supramathematical (see further, Mueller 1992, 183–95; Sedley 2007, 268–71; Denyer 2004; Miller 2007). As part of our conception of mysticism in opposition to reason, we want to include that second dictionary definition I quoted: “confused and groundless speculation; superstitious self-delusion.” Kant would think mystical in this sense Plato’s speculations that Ideas are divine and that at birth our minds have been thrust into a body that obscures those ideas. Kant would depart from Plato “in his mystical deduction of these ideas” and “in the exaggerations whereby he hypostatized them” (B371n110). Kant is likely correct to denominate these speculations of Plato mystical in the present sense, rather than to take Plato to be posing them as myth. Mystical in the sense of confused or groundless speculation would be: the existence of the soul prior to birth in this world, the different access the mind has to Ideas before and after birth, and the delimitation and organization of the Ideas (Meno 81; Phaedo 64c, 66b–e, 72e–77a, 81a, 91e–95a; Republic 517b–c; Phaedrus 249c–50c; Philebus 15a–18d, 20b–30d, 59c–67a). Kant would count Plato as mystical under not only my second, but my first dictionary definition of mysticism: “belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension but central to being and directly accessible by intuition.” Kant writes that “the sensualists {such as Epicurus} granted intellectual concepts, but assumed only sensible objects. The intellectualists {such as Plato} required the true objects to be merely intelligible and asserted that there is an intuition through a pure understanding unaccompanied by any senses” (A854 B882). Kant is evidently incorrect in ascribing to Plato the idea that we have a power of intellectual intuition. Certain it is, however, that mystical intellectuals of Neo-Pythagorean, Middle Platonist, Neo-Platonist, or Christian stripe sometimes extended or remolded Plato to support human apprehension of divinity, apprehension visionary, intellectual, and intuitive. Kant denies that we possess any purely intellectual intuitions. He divides cognitions into “either intuition or concept . . . . An intuition refers directly to the object and is singular; a concept refers to the object indirectly, by means of a characteristic that may be common to several things” (A320 B377). Concepts are unities we actively contrive among diverse things according to their common characteristics. Intuitions are given to us, given as single things whose diversity is contained within them only as parts we apprehend by limitation of the single whole (A25 B39). We have some concepts that are not empirical; rather, they have their origin solely in the understanding. Kant reserves the name idea for a concept framed from wholly non-empirical concepts and “surpassing the possibility of experience” (A320 B377; see also A568–69 B596–97). Let us take as “Platonic” the entire tradition of spiritualist metaphysics from Plato to Plotinus. Under this broad rubric, we speak of Platonic elements in Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, Alfarbi, Algazel, Avicebron, Bonaventure, or Malebranche, and we speak of Platonic revivals such as occurred within the Italian Renaissance, at Cambridge in the time of Newton, and in some German idealist circles in the 1790’s and early 1800’s. (On the last, see Beiser 2002, 364–65. On Platonist elements in Leibniz and his mentors at Leipzig, see Mercer 2001. On the opposition between Neo-Platonic interpretation of Plato and Christian appropriation and redefinition of Plato’s concepts, see Siniossoglou 2008.) Kant is correct to fault Platonic Ideas as objects given by the direct and productive intuition belonging to divine understanding. And Kant is correct to fault Platonic “intuiting of these divine Ideas” here and now by us as in a shadow land (1796 8:391). This is an error of mysticism. Kant rejected the realist views of universals, Platonic, Aristotelian, or Leibnizian. We have no intuitions of things as they are in themselves, only of things as they appear in our forms of sensory intuition. Our concepts are concepts of those forms (space and time), or our concepts are of objects as they are in those forms, which forms are from the side of the subject (B160–62). We have no concepts of things as they are in themselves. We have no concepts of forms imputable to things as they are in themselves (A266–89 B322–46). On the other hand, Kant does not accept the nominalist strain in Locke, who writes: “General and universal belong not to the real existence of things; but are inventions and creations of the understanding, made by it for its own use, and concern only signs, whether words or ideas” (1690, 3.3.11). Neither does Kant accept the Berkeley-Hume critique of general and universal ideas and their abstraction. A concept is a universal representation; it is not a singular image, as Berkeley and Hume would have it. Locke errs not in thinking we have general ideas, but in thinking that any of them are gotten from perception of particulars unconditioned by fundamental and profound subjective forms (space and time) or that they are gotten from empirical experience unconditioned by pure concepts (the categories) of the understanding (A271 B327, A89–94 B121–27, A78–79 B104–5, B127–29, A124–28, B146–48; see also Guyer 2008, 79–85; Longuenesse 1998, 125–26; Pippin 1882, 90–116). Kant rests concepts on the spontaneity of thought, specifically on “the unity of the act of arranging various presentations under one presentation” (A68 B93). Concepts serve as rules, general because endlessly repeatable in application, under which particulars can be grouped by characteristic marks. The unity among diversity on which concepts as generals rests is not in the world, but must be in the numerical identity of the conceiving subject (A106–12, B129–36). Kant’s theory of concepts, like Rand’s, does not fit on either side of the traditional realist-nominalist division. Rand’s theory of concepts is accurately classified as neither nominalism (including conceptualism) nor realism. It can be rightly classed as mensural objectivism. Kant’s theory can be rightly classed as synthetic formalism. Concepts are determinate thoughts in Kant’s view. Our conceptual power of understanding is through sensory intuitions; our understanding does not itself intuit. Ours is not “an understanding wherein through self-consciousness alone everything manifold would at the same time be given” (B135). By our conceptual understanding, we have no commerce with the supersensible. Reason lays claim to the supersensible not through understanding, but in use of the inexplicable fact of freedom. Our Ideas of practical reason, such as God and immortality, must not be transported into the realm of possible theoretical understanding, “because if so they turn theology into theosophy, moral teleology into mysticism, and psychology into a pneumatics” (Kant 1793, 20:310; also 1788, 5:120–21). Wisdom is not infused into a person from above by inspiration. Wisdom is a “height to be scaled from below through the inner power of his practical reason” (Kant 1800, 8:441). We have no passive means of cognition, no possibility of supersensible experience. Philosophy is the opposite of mysticism (ibid.). (Continued)
  14. Mysticism – Kant and Rand Reason Rand gives to Ellsworth Toohey the voice for some of her thinking on how certain false ideas compromise independent rational judgment, thereby making an individual ready for rule by the authority of others. Toohey speaks to Keating: When I was a youth, in high school, I was still religious. I had originated a saying: Logic in life is faith. I had not yet studied any logic, but of course one knows something about it before entering one’s first class or opening one’s first textbook on it. (I became an atheist at eighteen, shortly before reading Rand.) When Rand wrote The Fountainhead, published when she was thirty-eight, she knew quite a bit about logic and quite a bit about reason. Rand had some exposure to Kant by the time she wrote We the Living, for she refers to him in that work (1936). She uses the word transcendental in both Living and Fountainhead, although in these usages, the sense is as contrast with square perception and with immanent practicality. One definition of transcendental in American Heritage is “rising above common thought or ideas; exalted; mystical.” Rand joins the notions of saintliness and nobility more than once in Fountainhead. She expresses the radiant aspect of religion in what Toohey tells Stoddard to tell Roark in order to persuade Roark to build the Temple of the Human Spirit. She again expresses that radiant aspect in Dominique’s testimony at the court case over the temple. Dark aspects of religion are also not neglected in Fountainhead. The testimonies of Toohey and Keating at the trial express them, and the link between religion and socialism is remarked in several places in the novel. It is tempting to read Rand’s “just say that reason is limited” in Toohey’s technique as an allusion to Kant (see also 1961a, 18). Whether the statement is such an allusion or not, Rand certainly was speaking in the passage I quoted to anyone who was caught in the tension between reason and faith. In Atlas Shrugged the following is likely an allusion to Kant’s bifurcation of things as they are in themselves and things as they are in our sensory and rational cognition of them: “‘Things as they are’ are things as perceived by your mind; divorce them from reason and they become ‘things as perceived by your wishes’” (1957, 1036). A few paragraphs later, Rand tells the religionist: “Whenever you committed the evil of refusing to think and to see, of exempting from the absolute of reality some one small wish of yours, whenever you chose to say: Let me withdraw from the judgment of reason . . . the existence of God, let me have my one irrational whim and I will be a man of reason about all else—that was the act of subverting your consciousness, the act of corrupting your mind” (1037). Rand was not opposed to feelings. She was not against the idea of the human soul, provided it is thought of as naturally part of one’s living body and mortal as one’s body. In Fountainhead she has dialogue between Keating and his wife Dominique in which soul is given the expressly nonreligious meaning: that in one that is one’s genuine person—not only one’s body—one’s will and meaning, that in one which independently thinks, values, decides, and feels (GW II 454–55; cf. 1957, 1057). In Fountainhead religion that entails belief in the supernatural is taken to be false. It is not presented, however, as something needing to be abandoned for the sake of human independence and freedom. It is not expressly taken as subversive of those good things. That changes in Atlas, wherein all religion holding forth the supernatural is openly opposed as inimical to human life and freedom. There religion is proclaimed to be mysticism. I agree. (See also Peikoff 1991, 183–84; Underhill 1925.) In Fountainhead the classification mysticism had not been given directly to the Judeo-Christian belief in God. It was given to religion of the ancient Egyptians. It was maintained that such mysticism and atheistic dialectical materialism were only “‘superficially varied manifestations of the same thing’” (HR VI 600). Earlier in the novel, Rand had Toohey iterate and reiterate that the central moral teachings of Jesus and socialism were like peas in a pod. Rand had made clear that belief in God was mistaken and partly at odds with human life and achievement on earth (PK III 45). She had stopped short of pronouncing belief in God mystical. Early in Galt’s radio speech in Atlas, Rand attacks as mystical the common belief that there is a supernatural power called God, who issues moral commands based on whim, and to whom one must dedicate one’s life (1011). There are no ghosts in heaven (1012). There is no “mystic God with some incomprehensible design” (1025). Rand attacked the old conception of man as divided into two antagonists: soul, which “belongs to a supernatural realm,” and body, which is “an evil prison holding it [soul] in bondage to this earth” (1026). This division denies the reality of mind, the living self, as sovereign of human life. Without reason, man is left as a battleground of two monsters, “of a body moved by unaccountable instincts and of a soul moved by mystic revelations” (1026). Around this division are gathered two competing congregations against man’s life and happiness. These camps are known as spiritualists and materialists, which Rand characterized as the mystics of spirit and the mystics of muscle (1027). In reality, on earth, both mystical schools “want their consciousness to be an instrument not of perceiving but of creating existence, and existence to be not the object but the subject of their consciousness—they want to be that God they created in their image and likeness, who created a universe out of a void by means of arbitrary whim. . . . They want an omnipotent power over existence; instead, they lose the power of their consciousness” (1036–37). The underlying bond between religious mysticism and secular dialectical materialism in The Fountainhead has been expanded into a bond of spiritualism and materialism in Atlas Shrugged, which bond is called mysticism by Rand. She had introduced the latter two variants of mysticism by way of repudiating all dichotomies between soul and body. In 1961 Rand posed the opposition between reason and mysticism as underlying not only the soul-body dichotomy, but other false dichotomies as well: mind v. heart; liberty v. equality; and practical v. moral (1961b, 88). The fundamental opposition is between reason, “the faculty which perceives, identifies, and integrates the material provided by man’s senses,” and mysticism, “the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, supernatural means of knowledge” (1961b, 89; cf. Russell 1914, 6–7). Mysticism is the belief that “man’s mind is impotent” and that “man must be guided by some irrational ‘instinct’ or feeling or intuition or revelation, by some form of blind, unreasoning faith” (ibid., also 1960 62–63; cf. Russell 1914, 9–14). That definition of mysticism is close to one in American Heritage. One meaning of mysticism is “belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual and intellectual apprehension, but central to being and directly accessible by intuition.” Another meaning of mysticism is “confused and groundless speculation; superstitious self-delusion.” Rand includes this second sense also with her concept of mysticism, for she writes that it is “the acceptance of allegations without evidence or proof, either apart from or against the evidence of one’s senses and one’s reason” (1960, 62). Certainly it is self-delusional to turn to supernatural dimensions through which simply wishing will make so (further, Rand 1957, 1035–36). In Atlas Rand had characterized mystics of spirit as believing in consciousness without existence (1027). She had characterized mystics of muscle as believing in existence without consciousness (1027; on this side of the coin, see also Efron 1968; Rand 1972; and Peikoff 1991, 33–35). In the context of those characterizations of the two kingdoms of mysticism, existence is preeminently material existence (1027). Schools of philosophy denying the reality of matter are called idealism. (Continued)
  15. Update "Rummaging for a Final Theory" Scientific American - Sept. 2010
  16. Boydstun

    Classical music

    Malkuth, I hope very much you find your right niche. You been making melodies a while now? I was wondering. Do you also take performance music in a particular instrument at school? While we still lived in Chicago, we attended a number of the Music Now concerts of the CSO, as my partner’s younger son is a cellist sometimes invited to perform with them. Lots of different kinds of things being written, some making for quite fresh, interesting experience. Even though some were just applauded because they were over, it was neat to experience what is being composed today in classical music (absolute). In that series, they also explain, right before the baton, some of what is going on in the piece. There was pretty good attendance, which surprised us. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Here are a few of my favorite “modern” things. – Dmitri Shostakovich (age 19, in 1925) – (age 51, in 1957) Sure on this Shining Night – Samuel Barber (age 28, in 1938) – Richard Strauss (age 23, in 1887) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Hi Mindy, In a 1997 interview with Samuel Barber, he said: One of the Four:
  17. Hi Leonid, I would say you are thinking along profitable lines in your article. I noticed that you did not tell what are each of the references you cited. I know what the Binswanger 1992 would be. I see that the article by Morowitz and Smith is available online here. You mention once that English is your third language. I gathered that your first is Russian. What is your second? What did you speak in Israel? What do you speak in South Africa?
  18. One of Ellsworth Toohey’s destructive satisfactions is to advise young people. He tells one young woman “‘You will never be more than a dilettante of the intellect, unless you submerge yourself in some cause greater than yourself’” (ET VI 272). Along the roadsides lately, there has appeared a recruitment billboard for the U.S. Marines that reads: “COMITTMENT to something greater than themselves.” That is a Christian call to steeled joint action. The call to the men of the Monadnock construction project is a different call to such dedication—the call to and of selves great as the cause.
  19. Soul, Structure, Struggle “You who know the language of structure and the meaning of form.” —The Fountainhead Howard Roark says to Austen Heller: “‘A house can have integrity, just like a person’” (PK XI 140). Roark has designed a house for Heller. Roark had carefully studied the site, which was top of a cliff overlooking the sea. The house looked as if it “had been designed not by Roark, but by the cliff on which it stood. It was as if the cliff had grown and completed itself and proclaimed the purpose for which it had been waiting” (PK X 127). The walls of the house are made of the same granite as the cliff. The planes of the structure flow together “up into one consummate harmony” (ibid.). The Monadnock resort designed by Roark has its small houses set on natural ledges stepping down into the valley. “No artifice altered the unplanned beauty of the graded steps” (HR I 544–45). The houses had been designed for the ledges “in such a way that the houses became inevitable, and one could no longer imagine the hills as beautiful without them—as if the centuries and the series of chances that produced these ledges in the struggle of great blind forces had waited for their final expression, had been only a road to a goal—and the goal were these buildings, part of the hills, shaped by the hills, yet ruling them by giving them meaning” (ibid.) (See also the relation of the Wynand house to it’s natural setting, HR III 568, IX 633.) The structural use a building makes of its site is part of its physical integrity. The visual harmony of a building in a natural setting is part of its esthetic integrity. The youthful Howard Roark tells the Dean that the shape of buildings should be determined by the site, the building materials, and the purpose of the building (PK I 18). To be beautiful, a building must follow one central idea, one theme, unique to it. That is its esthetic integrity. Every bit of the house Roark builds for Heller is there to fulfill simultaneously the functional and esthetic needs of the house. Like the soul of Heller, like the soul of Roark, and like any normal, healthy human body, the Heller house “‘is made by its own needs’,” not the need to impress (PK XI 141). The ornamentation of the house is not something extraneous to the function and theme of the house. The ornamentation rides on the method of construction; it is an emphasis of the building’s physical structural principles (ibid.). A building’s ornamentation must not choke the building’s sense, must not destroy its esthetic integrity (PK XIII 171, XV 205). The ornamentation inside the Stoddard Temple of the Human Spirit, designed by Roark, consists of the graded projections of its gray limestone walls and its vast windows. The temple is “open to the earth around it, to the trees, the river, the sun—and to the skyline of the city in the distance” (ET XI 356). Before that skyline stands one ornament, true to the idea of this temple: one statue of a naked human body. The “determining motive” of the Heller house is in the house. Many house designs have their “‘determining motive in the audience’” (PK XI 141). They are made by the need to impress others. Roark’s soul has its determining motive in itself. He loves designing buildings. He loves solving the problem the site and the building’s function present. The client’s desires and the utility and pleasure the building brings to its occupants are treated by Roark as means and specifications, like brick and mortar. Roark’s own work is his primary purpose to which his other purposes are subordinate. (PK XI 140, HR VIII 628). Similarly, a building by Roark has one idea to which all the building’s features contribute. In Republic Plato developed an analogy between city and soul. In Fountainhead Rand develops an analogy between building and soul. A client of Roark’s, Kent Lansing, says to Roark “‘Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea. That presupposes the ability to think’” (ET X 333; also GW IX 53). How is this condition of integrity in a person carried analogically into the esthetic integrity of a building? By the building’s integrating principle, its idea—that thought—“‘the one thought, the single thought that created the thing and every part of it’” (HR VIII 628). The youthful Roark had told the Dean “‘A building is alive like a man’” (PK I 18). Heller wants a house design that seems to live and is integrated (PK X 129). Roark’s buildings are analogous to a living thing in a number of ways. The building’s features contribute to its one central idea entailing needs. This is analogous to the way the parts of a living body or the parts of a human soul contribute to its living existence. Living things are characterized in Fountainhead as embodying an idea essential to their life form (PK XV 205). Moreover, human beings live in their minds, “‘and existence is the attempt to bring that life into physical reality, to state it in gesture and form’” (HR II 558). The building’s features add up to a “logical whole” (PK XIII 176). The forms composing the apartment complex that Roark designs for Roger Enright have a “mathematical order holding together a free, fantastic growth,” and individually distinct apartment units lead one-to-the-next to the whole (ET IV 249, VIII 305). A living thing is a whole. Then again, the finished apartment house for Enright is described as having walls of pale gray limestone that “looked silver against the sky, with the clean dulled water of metal, but a metal that had become a warm living substance, carved by . . . a purposeful human will. It made the house alive in a strange, personal way of its own” (ET X 327). Watching Roark walking through the rising structure of the house Roark has designed for him, Gail Wynand observes the common principle of Roark’s body structure come to halt and the building structure. Wynand thinks to himself that structure “is a solved problem of tension, of balance, of security in counterthrusts” (GW V 595). What is solved by nature in the man is solved by man in the building. Enright House is sited on a broad space on the East River. The first impression one gets of it is “a rising mass of rock crystal” (ET IV 249). On a planar ground, Roark is playing with planes struck into being by man for function with beauty. Marks of man come not only in straight line and plane figure, for purpose and beauty. The service station Roark designs for Jimmy Gowan is without straight line. Its design is a study in circles, a harmony of bubbles paused as if only until the next instant of wind. One stops for gas, perhaps food or drink at the diner, then resumes travel. Flow of traffic and its brief respite is one suggestion of this design. Then too, these forms sound the flow of fuel and a human gaiety, “the hard bracing gaiety of efficiency” (PK XIII 165). Ellsworth Toohey (elsewhere, elseworth) is a collector of the souls of others. He suggests sacrilegiously his corrupt form of “wealth” is premised on Jesus’ dictum: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (ET IX 318; Mt. 16:26). Before there was the New Testament, there was the Republic. Plato has Socrates set out early on that the soul has certain functions such as ruling and deliberating (353d). That which enables a thing to perform its function(s) well is called virtue. The virtue of the soul is justice (353e). Socrates contends that justice is something good both because of itself and because of what comes from it. An investigation ensues of what is the power of justice in the soul, leaving aside the external rewards that may come from it (358b). “The investigation we’re undertaking is not an easy one but requires keen eyesight. Therefore, . . . we should adopt the method of investigation that we’d use if, lacking keen eyesight, we were told to read small letters from a distance and then noticed that the same letters existed elsewhere in a larger size and on a larger surface” (368d). Justice is found in a single man and in a city (a city-state). Seeing what is justice in the city is to facilitate grasping more of what justice is in the individual soul. The concept Plato is forging with his city-soul analogy is justice (proper ruling). The concept Rand is forging with her building-soul analogy is integrity. One broad thesis of The Fountainhead is that there is a type of egoistic individualism that is good and just; altruistic collectivism is evil and unjust. The argument focuses not so much on what is just as on what is good. Such are independence, reliance on reason (one’s own), honesty, creative achievement, love of one’s work, and courage (HR II 559–60, XVIII 739–40). A concept of justice will make human life and happiness impossible if the concept ignores the uniqueness of individuals and the unity and self-sufficiency required by the preceding virtues (HR II 559–60, XVIII 740). Integrity is the overarching virtue pronouncing this unity and self-sufficiency (PK XIII 166, HR VIII 625-28, XVIII 742). Until he met Roark, Gail Wynand believed there were no men of integrity. He was bent on hardening that belief by offering men the external reward of money to give up the work they love or money to proclaim as true what they themselves think false (GW I 441–42, III 472). Gail said to his wife Dominique: “‘Do you know what you’re actually in love with? Integrity. The impossible. The clean, consistent, reasonable, self-faithful, the all-of-one-style, like a work of art. That’s the only field where it can be found—art. But you want it in the flesh. You’re in love with it. Well, you see, I’ve never had any integrity’” (GW IX 532). As they get to know Wynand, Dominique and Roark each conclude he has a great deal of integrity, notwithstanding the corruption in his soul and not withstanding his recoil from the concept of moral integrity (GW IX 532, HR III 576). Howard Roark is integrity in the flesh. And though each of Roark’s buildings is unique—as each human being is unique (GW V 495)—they all display the concept and virtue of integrity. It is not only architects and artists who can have integrity embodied in their work (ET X 333). It is not only a creative genius such as Roark who can love their work and find a sense of purpose and fulfillment in it (PK VII 93, HR XVIII 740). Everyone who worked that year of their life on what was the Monadnock construction project felt as if “they were an army and a crusade” (HR I 548). The advance of their great joint work gave them each a sense of having lived through twelve months of spring. Their memory of it had “the feeling which is the meaning of spring, . . . the great sense of beginning, of triumphant progression, of certainty in an achievement that nothing will stop” (ibid.). Theirs was a brotherhood, sainted and noble (cf. ET X 332; ET XI 351). Theirs “a new earth, their own” (HR I 548). Theirs protection, by a method of thought in the mind of the architect who walked among them (ibid.). Toohey is accurate when he says to Keating that an architect is a thinker in stone (ET III 243). Roark is a thinker not only in stone, but in words. He wants to design a low-rent housing complex named Cortland. He tells Keating that he will love the work of creating Cortland. Further, “I want to make it real, living, functioning, built. But every living thing is integrated. Do you know what that means? Whole, pure, complete, unbroken. Do you know what constitutes an integrative principle? A thought. The one thought, the single thought that created the thing and every part of it.” (HR VIII 628) Set aside consideration of monetary compensation and the motives of fame, charity, or altruism (HR VIII 626). Roark’s eye is not on those, but on his idea for solving the project problem, on the housing itself. That is the allure. That is his motive. Earlier in the novel, we are shown Keating pursuing and winning wealth, fame, respect, praise, and admiration (PK XV 200). But he lacks integrity. He has no such independent core structure. He wins external rewards by a fraud in which he takes credit for a building whose plan was created by Roark. The lack of esthetic integrity in Peter’s buildings is a display of his lack of personal integrity (ET III 237–38). Keating reaches a time of having gotten everything he had wanted: fame, wealth, and superiority in his profession in the eyes of the public. He enjoys the power he holds in his architectural firm. “He was a great man—by the grace of those who depended on him” (ET III 237). He is not happy (cf. Republic 579c–e). His soul has little of the independence required for being real, having its own genuine thoughts, desires, and feelings (GW II 454–55). He did not have to develop into that condition. In the situations of his soul—in his external circumstances, together with his private sensitivities to nature and to a certain woman—alternative opportunities were available for existential achievement and for soul-making (PK IV 51–58, VI 82–85, XII 157–63, ET XI 341–43, XIV 389–91, GW III 468–72, HR VII 610–12). “Every man creates his meaning and form and goal” (PK I 18). Many years ago (1983), I had a professor for the professional ethics course at engineering school who pointed out that things Keating aimed for, such as wealth and fame, are attained by Roark, by the end of the novel; though they were not Roark’s primary aim (see also Schein 2007, 310–11). Roark suffers poverty and infamy in the course of his long struggle, but he retains the treasure of integrity. Rand’s illustration of the continuance of integrity in the absence of external rewards is reminiscent of Plato’s articulation of what in the soul is justice of itself, absent external rewards of wealth and the esteem of others. It is not only the souls of their architects that buildings display in Rand’s novel. Analogies between soul and building are also drawn for owners and users of buildings. Heller’s integrity, as well as Roark’s, is enshrined in the design of his house. Joel Sutton is planning to build a huge office building. He is one whose love has no heights. He sees no great distinction among people; he loves them all equally (ET VI 269). A building designed by Roark would go beyond being adequate; it would be something great, it would say greatness. Sutton is a populist at heart. He has no greatness in his soul. Roark is not the architect for him (ET VII 287–88; see also PK XIII 167–70). Rand does not want to say that Heller and Roark or that Wynand and Roark share in their psychological ownership of the accomplished building. She is as persnickety about this as a medieval “nominalist” objecting to the sharing of a universal by the particulars it subsumes. The buildings Rand puts before us by description are, of course, particular concrete forms showing abstract relations that are tied to feelings, making for highly personal, markedly individual experience. Roark tells Wynand that the house he has created for Wynand has to be the creator’s, “‘but in another sense, Gail, you own that house and everything else I’ve built. You own every structure you’ve stopped before and heard yourself answering’” (HR IV 582). Rand spoke in the novel of Roark’s spirit being life-giving. The Fountainhead gave me life forty-three summers ago. References Plato c. 380 B.C. Republic. G.M.A. Grube, translator, with revisions by C.D.C. Reeve (1992). Hackett. Rand, A. 1943. The Fountainhead. Bobbs-Merrill. Schein, D. 2007. Roark’s Integrity. In Essays on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. R. Mayhew, editor. Lexington.
  20. Thank you for sharing these. I had not known of them. I looked in this file after having learned of Spirit of Electricity through the local forum for Dallas/Ft. Worth.* The link given for it there is defunct. Here are a couple links working at this time: A & B
  21. I think Rand’s value realism, and specifically her moral-value realism, is true. That is a basic superiority to all stripes of moral anti-realism, since I take them to be false. The true is better than the false. Studies such as the dissertation of Dr. Strandberg can introduce one to the current varieties of anti-realism and the arguments for and against them. It would be an expansion of my understanding of Rand’s system to situate it and its arguments alongside the arguments of Strandberg. At the same time one could learn where Rand’s value realism is situated with respect to other contemporary value realists. I have scarcely surveyed the contemporary landscape of ethical and meta-ethical theories. Much good study and reflection are waiting for me to do. I have followed the contacts made so far in this sort of comparative study within the writings of Profs. Tara Smith and Irfan Khawaja (his paper for the 2007 session of the Ayn Rand Society).
  22. Example of a contemporary proponent: Moral Reality: A Defense of Moral Realism Caj Strandberg 2004
  23. Boydstun

    Das Lied

    Schubert Schwanengesang Ständchen Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau & Gerald Moore Schwanengesang Die Taubenpost Gerhard Hüsch & Gerald Moore Die schöne Müllerin Die liege Farbe / Die böse Farbe / Trockne Blumen Ian Bostridge & Mitsuko Uchida
  24. Yes, quite neat. One sympathetic character in The Fountainhead is Toohey’s aunt. “She was a tall, capable woman to whom the word horse clung in conjunction with the words sense and face.” She is endowed with goodness and is not fooled by the public deceits of the youth Ellsworth, whom she calls Elsie. “‘You’re a maggot, Elsie,’ she once told him. ‘You feed on sores’. ‘Then I’ll never starve,’ he answered” (317, first edition).
  25. The Meriden Daily Republican 19 December 1898 (Meriden, CT) The Sign of the Three Balls
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