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Everything posted by Boydstun

  1. More recently: ASU - An Advanced Guide --Lester Hunt (2015)
  2. It has seemed to me that the sort of satisfaction in understanding that Aristotle found by casting natural phenomena and their causes in the form of a certain sort of syllogism is a faint relative of what now comes to us in some of our uses of mathematics in science today. We’ve satisfaction in deep understanding through mathematical structure instanced in physical phenomena. On thought about this modern satisfaction, I link to Michael Strevens’ paper The Mathematical Route to Causal Understanding. It will be a chapter in a book to appear summer of 2018 – Explanation beyond Causation (Oxford, Reutlinger and Saatsi, editors). I’ve a difference with Streven’s picture here in that I’d emphasize that the physically realized mathematics coincides with synthetic mathematical structure which always underlies analytic mathematical representation (as Euclid’s geometry underlies Descartes’ analytic geometry). Rand did not have this vocabulary for it, but she had this my idea in her conception of mathematical structure in our concepts and in the world which they represent. The issue of the nature of mathematical structure in modern scientific explanation has its related counterpart in (work yet to be accomplished on) mathematical structure in essential characteristics in concepts framed in Rand’s measurement-omission way.
  3. Favored. Theodoric's advance in theory of the rainbow was accomplished within an Aristotelian outlook on science and metaphysics: thus, thus. Also, prior to the Darwinian revolution, great advances were made in biology in the eighteenth and nineteenth century under the Aristotelian (even if with Kantian color) imputation of final causes to all biological nature. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS From the seven minutes of ground view of launch of Apollo 11: “That we had seen a demonstration of man at his best, no one could doubt—this was the cause of the event’s attraction and of the stunned, numbed state in which it left us. And no one could doubt that we had seen an achievement of man in his capacity as a rational being—an achievement of reason, of logic, of mathematics, of total dedication to the absolutism of reality.” –AR Aristotle contributed a tremendous boost on that logic part and this-world focus part. Another big boost from the ancients was the boost we received from Euclid in geometry. Both were tools of Newton and tools for our own scientific advances today.
  4. Giovanni, Of the friction points you list, I think the worst is under your fifth. The Aristotelian ideas that heavier things fall faster than lighter things and that it is fundamental to bodies of the sublunary region that they come to rest required seriously new thinking caps to overcome. Another barrier to overcome was the overextended role of final (and formal) causality Aristotle had conceived. Another was Aristotle’s (inconstant) nay-saying on the role of mathematics in natural science. Another was his method of science, although in that there was some continuity with early moderns, at least in the organization of disciplines deserving the name science, at least in the more snobbish restrictions of that term. On that last, there is a nice paper available here: The Classical Model of Science: A Millennia-Old Model of Scientific Rationality --De Jong and Betti 2010
  5. . Thanks for the topic and the example, William. Here are some related ruminations. Learning is defined in my 1976 AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY, as a noun, as “acquired wisdom, knowledge, or skill” and, as a verb, as “gaining knowledge, comprehension, or mastery of through experience or study.” In PRINCIPLES OF NEURAL SCIENCE (2013, 5th edition, Kandel et al., editors), we have, consistently with the dictionary, but going beyond it: “Learning refers to a change in behavior that results from acquiring knowledge about the world, and memory is the process by which that knowledge is encoded, stored, and later retrieved.” (1441) In this encyclopedic authoritative reference, the types of memory and what is known of their neural bases is presented. There is a section “Long-Term Memory Can Be Classified as Explicit or Implicit.” Implicit memory sections following that one often sound like stolen-concept talk. “Implicit memory stores forms of information acquired without conscious effort and which guide behavior unconsciously. Priming is a type of implicit memory . . . . Two types of priming have been proposed [conceptual priming and perceptual priming, with much evidence]” (1452) Implicit memory is detailed further throughout the next Chapter titled “Cellular Mechanisms of Implicit Memory Storage and the Biological Basis of Individuality.” On the face of it, there appears to be a stolen concept fallacy in that these tremendous advances are talked of as implicit memory when one is reporting physical and chemical changes in neurons in the nervous systems of animals not possessing consciousness. Memory would seem to be something that entails consciousness in our first conception of memory, yet today we talk of memory in such a thing as a snail. (Rand assumed that even insects have consciousness, but that is incorrect by our present lights, and I set it aside.) In the April 1968 issue of THE OBJECTIVIST the brain researcher Robert Efron wrote: “The concept ‘memory’ depends upon and presupposes the concept of consciousness, cannot be formed or grasped in the absence of this concept and represents, within wider or narrower limits, a specific type or state of conscious activity.” (This paper was reprinted, with adaptations, from one Dr. Efron had presented at a conference in philosophy of science the preceding year at Univ. of Pitt.) Efron argued that in the preceding 50 years, experimental psychologists had destroyed the concept of memory. Similarly for the concept of learning. Many of the instances of talk of memory at the time of his paper remain junk talk today, or rather, junk if taken literally. However, since that time, it looks to me that the extensions of the concept of memory down into the neural processes of even animals not featuring any consciousness is not really a stolen concept. The loop back to the concept with consciousness in it is very long, setting our conscious brain within its developmental story, evolutionary story, and dependencies of specific conscious processes on specific unconscious processes, all among the neuronal activities. It seems to me this best, fullest story can be told without slipping into eliminative reductionism, and is not a stolen-concept fallacy regarding memory or learning.
  6. Aristotle II In my own picture, if one is reading this and knows horses as horses and trees as trees, one knows that horses are not anything but horses, not anything such as trees. If one has concepts, such as the concept horse, then one knows identity, at least a thin identity, and knows classes, whether or not one yet realizes one is dealing in those general patterns identity, class inclusion, and class exclusion. Knowing horses and trees as such, one knows already that horses are necessarily horses and necessarily not anything other than horses, such as trees.[1] Then too, if one is reading this and has the concept horse, one knows validity of the inference from “All horses have blood vessels” and “Bucephalus was a horse” to “Bucephalus had blood vessels.” Also, being a horse, Bucephalus was necessarily not rooted in the soil like a tree. If one has concepts—even ones held, in early development, according to weighted sums of typical features, not yet according to natures and definitions[2]—I say one has the knowledge grounding recognition of elementary logically valid inference.[3] Where there is knowing things under concepts, there is knowing some what-it-is and what-it-is-not. If equipped with concepts—even before learning to read and before express understanding of grammar—one knows at least dimly that contradiction is false of all things said of the world under concepts, necessarily false. Rightness and necessity in our later grasp as concepts our concepts of things, things as they are, are inherited rightness and necessity from those earlier concepts of things as they are. Grasping logic requires grasping concepts as concepts. Then my view is that rightness and necessities of logic are heirs ultimately of rightness and necessities in our concepts not as concepts, but merely as of things as they are. My own picture then is a variety of logical ontologism.[4] Peikoff sets Locke in that broad stream as well. Locke did not have the vantage of our contemporary scientific research into early cognitive development. On his somewhat inconstant model of human cognition and its ontogeny, one has no knowledge which one had not been self-consciously aware of in its acquisition.[5] Moreover, Locke’s tendency towards nominalism in universal concepts sets him to reject possession of universal concepts of things empirical as funding logical necessities such as noncontradiction (or syllogistic inference[6]). Locke would reject the conveyance of empirical necessities to logical necessities by attainment of empirical concepts. Rather, he would have PNC be a generalization of our early notice of particular empirical distinctions and necessities, which were made without knowledge of PNC.[7] Further, in his congeniality towards nominalism, Locke has PNC with its formality and necessity grounded rather more in keeping our reflections on the world straight than in reflecting the world.[8] Locke rejected the realist theory of universals in both its extreme and moderate forms.[9] Locke understood Aristotle, or anyway the Aristotelianism of his own era, as moderate realism. He argued against our access to any such things as specific, substantial form or real essences.[10] We work with nominal essences, by the lights of Locke, and his own theory of universal concepts has been classified as conceptualism, wherein general words stand for general ideas.[11] Marco Sgarbi 2013 shows that highly empiricist Aristotelian logic texts flourished in Britain in the 16th and 17th centuries. Frances Bacon criticized the strain therein subordinating the world to the mind and the mind to its concepts.[12] Insofar as Locke took concepts as tightly bound to the mind-independent world, he is located, as Peikoff locates him, in the tradition of logical ontologism, specifically in its Aristotelian wing. Conceptualism is an alternative to realism in theory of universals and in theory of science. Insofar as a variety of conceptualism creates any breach or looseness between what Newton called phenomena (such as orbits of planets) and the mind, it leans away from logical ontologism, I should say.[13] Peikoff 1964, like Locke 1690, takes Aristotle in the usual way, which is as a moderate realist[14] in which universal concepts, such as horse or tree, derive from particulars in perceptual experience, particulars containing real essences, which are real forms. Aristotelian forms are the definite delimitations joined with fundamental indefinite matter in any actual particular.[15] Unlike Platonic Forms, Aristotle’s forms, even the forms essential to a thing being the kind of thing it is, are not residents of a realm separate from this world of particulars around us. Those essences reside in the particulars around us, and they are accessible to us through appropriation by intellect attending to things sensed. Essential form is of itself never separate from its matter; it is contemplated as separate by the intellect. Contra Plato, essences according to Aristotle do not themselves reside in a realm separately and independently from the realm of sensible particulars, and essences are not accessed by intellect alone. Where concepts and propositions, including the propositions that are logical principles, were thought to be bonded to and guided by mind-independent reality through their incorporation of Aristotelian form from particulars, supposed conformity to the world by concepts and propositions and logical principles was at stake should the existence of Aristotelian forms be rejected.[16] They were indeed rejected by moderns not Scholastic, excepting Leibniz. They were rejected, as I have mentioned, by Rand and Peikoff. Rightly so. Locke, as we have seen, rejected Aristotelian accounts of abstraction from perceptual particulars via mental absorption of Aristotelian forms, Aristotelian essence. Peikoff observes that Aristotle attempted to account for PNC as deriving from our assimilation of essential forms in particulars, yet account for such assimilation being reliant on our knowing PNC and for PNC being foundation of all knowing.[17] (A parallel tension appears in Rand’s proposition Existence exists as most fundamental axiom, yet as conceptually derived from perception.[18]) Locke rejected any need for any of the accounting after the yet. Before the yet, he rejected Aristotle’s forms and essences as existing and as sourcing the necessity of PNC we find in thought or in the world. Locke proposed necessity of PNC is perceived, by sense, in distinct particulars. I agree with Locke that there are directly perceived physical necessities. Peikoff, Kant, and virtually the entire bench of philosophers are right, however, to dismiss Locke’s idea that logical necessity is among the types of necessity perceived directly in sensory perception. There is another view on the ontogeny of PNC, my own view (supplementing what I wrote in the first three paragraphs of this installment), which is only a stone’s throw from Locke’s. That is the view that impossibility of performative contradictions have metaphysical and epistemological priority with respect to formal PNC. One was getting a grip on incompatibility of one’s alternative physical acts before reaching the one-word stage of language development.[19] Further, one has action- and image-schemata (and working memory) preceding and continually supporting one’s concepts. Furthermore, all defenses of PNC eventually invoke impossibilities in actual performances. Back to older philosophy. Logical necessity for Aristotle resides in character of concepts, predications, definitions, and inferences. These require abstractions from examination of groups of singulars. In Aristotle’s view, perception of a single object not yet conceptualized will not yet open conceptual necessities, such as PNC logical necessity, even though the basis of PNC stands in the intelligible forms and essences shared by and residing in each perceptible singular.[20] Aristotle had located the source of logical necessities in active operations of intellect and not in the perceptual, memorial, and imaginative supports of active intellect. This stance of Aristotle, which Locke rejected, would please Leibniz, whom Peikoff places in the Platonic line of logical ontologism.[21] Recall that the Platonic line takes some ideas to be innate. In their view, PNC is an innate guiding principle we posses, not a principle derived from or delivered by sensory perceptions. And they take logical necessities to reflect necessity in relations between essences or essential forms obtaining apart from any participation of concrete existents in those eternally true patterns. I want to indicate Leibniz’ shredding of Locke’s outlook on PNC, along with my display to Peikoff’s diagnosis of the failures of both Platonic and Aristotelian logical ontologism. Leibniz argued persuasively against Locke’s thesis that we know nothing that was not explicitly known by us at least in its initial appropriation.[22] Locke had rejected the Platonic picture in which there is knowledge of geometry or logic possessed by us implicitly prior to it becoming explicit to us. By way of blocking possibility of innate knowledge, Locke had declined possibility of implicit knowledge. It is implausible, I say (as would most moderns), that we have no implicit knowledge hanging about things known explicitly in their initial acquisition. Yet, contra Leibniz, this is no license for thinking any ideas (as distinct from faculties) to be innate. Demise of doctrines of the innateness of ideas, including necessary truths, cuts down the Platonic line in their defense of the view that logical truths are grounded in something fixed and independent of our knowing those truths. Likewise in ruins became the Platonic support of PNC ontologism by reification of universals and essences, whether residing in an other-worldly place and whether constituting or inhabiting God’s this-world-independent understanding.[23] Leibniz challenged Locke’s position that PNC is simply an empirical generalization from particular oppositions in experience such as that bitter is not sweet or that wormwood is not sugarplum or that the nurse is not the cat.[24] Leibniz objects that such oppositions of sense have not the absolute certainty of freedom from illusion or other defect as has PNC. I should say against Leibniz that that is no airtight showing that PNC is not derived by empirical generalization. A triangulated result can be more sure than its individual elements of evidence towards that result; we fare well with Whewell’s consilience of inductions.[25] Be that as it may, Leibniz was correct, I say, to hold that PNC is not derived merely by empirical generalization because ideas of being, possible, and identity intertwined in PNC is at hand in any of our general concepts. Leibniz errs, to be sure, in his rush from that picture to innateness of such ideas and PNC. Leibniz argues well against Locke’s tendency towards nominalism in universals, essences, definitions, conceptual taxonomies, and logical principles. Leibniz submits their bases to be in the similarity of singular things in reality and in possibilities that are independent of our thinking.[26] But Leibniz’ own realist account, with its Platonic and Aristotelian elements, is upset with the upset of those elements and, as well, of his particular amalgam of them.[27] Aristotle had written in Physics: Following out this line of thought, Aquinas thought of being and its opposite nonbeing as contained in some way in any knowledge we might have, however elementary the knowledge.[28] Aquinas maintained the Aristotelian view that PNC is learned by an integrated employment of sense experience and reason. However, on Aquinas view, The Aquinas over-writing of Aristotle is a right strand, I say, in an adequate theory of acquisition of PNC and logical ontologism. Aquinas is able to support the theses on both wings of the Aristotelian tension Peikoff highlights across the yet I mentioned in connection with Locke. One does not ascend to grasp of PNC by inductive steps, according to Aquinas. Rather, the more comprehensive precedes the less so, in both sense and intellect. Aquinas’ utilization of Aristotle in metaphysics and epistemology of logical ontologism land the ship in wreckage for modern thought since the time of Newton and Locke. Aquinas had nous, or reason, as our essentially human capability in cognition, but nous itself as derived from realities transcending nature. Peikoff shows Aristotle’s sayings in that same voice.[29] For Aquinas formal structure among particulars are latched to Aristotle’s hylomorphism, his fundamental metaphysics of prime matter and form, essential and incidental form, which all would be coming to wreckage.[30] Peikoff argues the unraveling of Platonic logical ontologism into logical conventionalism (as of mid-twentieth century) to have been mediated significantly by Kant. Unraveling of the Aristotelian logical ontologism is mediated significantly by Locke.[31] The Aristotelian moderate realism of universals collapses. Aristotelian Matter, Form, and their join collapse. Concrete particulars, individuated by “matter” nigh well itself “unknowable” apart from form, is a soggy base for any universals, including those entrained in PNC and funding its objectivity. An assembly of super-strong axioms resting ultimately on things unknowable is problematic.[32] In the next installment, I want to convey and assess Peikoff’s account of Kant’s contribution to the transition to conventionality in philosophy of PNC. I hope to touch on not only conventionalist theories to the time of Peikoff’s dissertation, but on those flourishing today and their historical setting. I plan to add a coda that is an inventory of the elements and works in Peikoff’s dissertation that plainly contributed to things addressed in the early ’60’s in the Rand/Branden journals, points in Rand’s epistemology (1966–67), and points, with morphisms, in Peikoff’s own writings from his “Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy” (1967) to The DIM Hypothesis (2012). Notes [1] Cf. Sullivan 1939, 52–53, 62. [2] Boydstun 1990, 34–36. [3] Cf. Salmieri 2010, 160n12. [4] See also Rasmussen 2014, 337–41. [5] Locke 1690, I.1.5, IV.1.9; Peikoff 1964, 87–102. [6] Locke 1690, IV.7.8. [7] Locke 1690, I.1.15, 25, 3.3, IV.1.4, 2.6, 7.9–10; Peikoff 1964, 103–13. [8] Locke 1690, IV.7.4, 10–14, 8.2; Peikoff 1964, 216–26. [9] Locke 1690, III.3.11. [10] Locke 1690, III.6.23–26, 10.14–15. [11] Aaron 1952, a fine work I learned of through Peikoff 1964. Similarly, Salmieri 2008 renders Locke as conceptualist, rather than as realist (51n118). Hobbes is today also argued to be a conceptualist, rather than a nominalist (Sgarbi 2013, 190–92). The conceptualism and empiricism of Locke is presaged in the century before him by the British logicians John Case and Giulio Pace, who were in the lineage of the Paduan Aristotelian Jacopo Zabarello (Sgarbi 2013, 91–97, 101–6). / Binswanger 2014 takes moderate realism most generally as holding there are non-specific properties of things in the world independently of our cognizance of such properties. He argues Locke falls into that general bin in spite of himself (102–4). Binswanger divides theory of universals (Rand’s Objectivist theory aside) into the jointly exhaustive bins of realism and nominalism, as had Armstrong 1978. A conceptualist theory could then belong in either of these bins, depending on the particulars of the conceptualist theory. Salmieri 2008 argues the division of concept theories into realist and nominalist (anti-realist) is not a distinction adequate for classing theories of concepts in accordance with their comparative degrees of similarity and their comparative degrees of difference (52–54). [12] Sgarbi 2013, 169. [13] Conceptualism in which general ideas are thought of as unbound to the world is what Rand meant by Conceptualism in her 1966 and what David Armstrong meant by Concept Nominalism in his 1978. [14] The usual view that Aristotle held to moderate realism is disputed by Greg Salmieri (see Gotthelf 2012, 302n19). Salmieri argues in his dissertation that Aristotle thought our concepts of natural kinds, such as horse or tree, stand to their instances not under identity of shared essential, nonaccidental form, identity of a shared kind-form, or identity of a shared real essence resident in each particular instance. Rather, as a relation of determinables to determinates (2008, 44–51, 56–122). (See citation of Johnson, Prior, and Searle in Boydstun 2004n5. Salmieri aligns Aristotle with the Johnson version of the determinable-determinate relation.) Salmieri’s cast of Aristotle’s relation of horse to an instance such as Bucephalus as a complex of determinable-determinate relations incidentally locates Aristotle closer to Rand than traditional moderate realism is close to Rand. Determinable-determinate relations, I should mention, have a realist underlining, for determinable-determinate relations are along dimensions, such as length or material hardness, plainly real and accessible. / Against the traditional interpretation of Aristotle as a moderate realist holding to shared essences of kind by instances of the kind is also Lennox 2001, Chapter 7. For Peikoff 1964, prevailing interpretations of Aristotle across the long arc of the history of philosophy are the pertinent interpretations to his tracing of logical turns in that history. [15] Aristotle, Ph. 193a30–94b15, 199a30–33, 209b22–23; Metaph. 1033b24–1034a8, 1036a27–31. [16] Peikoff 1964, 212–16. [17] Aristotle, APo. 71b10–72b4, 73b17–74a4, 75b21–36, 77a5–35, 81a37–b9, 85b16–23, 87b28–88a17, 99b15–100b17; De An. 429a10–30a26; Metaph. 1005b9–08b27, 1015a20–b15, 1018b30–34, 1035b32–36a11, 1040b25–27, 1061b34–62b11; NE 1143a32–b6; Peikoff 1964, 60-79, 119–20, 124–35, 213–14. [18] Lennox 2005. [19] Boydstun 1991a, 39; 1991b, 34. [20] APo. 71b35–72a6, 87b28–88a11; Metaph. 982a23–25, 1029b1–12; Peikoff 1964, 63–75; Barnes1993, 95–97; McKirahan 1992, 30–33. 127, 219–22; Ferejohn 2013, 76–80; Salmeiri 2010, 158–60. [21] On the Platonism of Leibniz, see Mercer 2001, 173–205, 243–52. [22] Leibniz 1704, 76–78, 359–61, 411–12. [23] Peikoff 1964, 187–200, 205–9. [24] Leibniz 1704, 86–87, 101–2, 412. [25] See also Zabarella, in Sgarbi 2013, on the perfection of first principles in intellect from received empirical inductions (65–70). On Whewell’s consilience, see Snyder 2017. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/whewell/ [26] Leibniz 1704, 286–96. [27] Leibniz 1704, 317­–19, 343–48. [28] Cf. Spinoza: “The first thing that constitutes the actual being of a human mind is nothing but the idea of a singular thing which actually exists” (1677, 2p11). [29] Peikoff 1964, 119–23. [30] On the separation capability of Form from Matter, greater for Christian Aristotelians such as Aquinas than for Aristotle, see Peikoff 1964, 148–56. [31] Peikoff 1964, 212–35. [32] Peikoff 1964, 67–68, 126, 214–15; Lewis 2013, 177n4, 185, 251; Reeve 2016, 400–402n691, 428n796. A similar problem is argued in Ferejohn 2013 for Aristotle’s conception of substances as most-primary and as simple beings resisting definition, yet they are to be explanatory grounds of other, complex beings (172–73). References Aaron, R. I., 1952. The Theory of Universals. Oxford: Clarendon. Aquinas, T. c.1256–59. De Veritate. J. V. McGlynn, translator. 1994. Indianapolis: Hackett. Aristotle c.348–322 B.C. The Complete Works of Aristotle. J. Barnes, editor. 1984. Princeton: University Press. Armstrong, D. 1978. Nominalism and Realism. Volume 1 of Universals and Scientific Realism. Cambridge: University Press. Barnes, J., translator and commentator, 1993. Aristotle – Posterior Analytics. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon. Binswanger, H. 2014. How We Know –Epistemology on an Objectivist Foundation. New York: TOF Publications. Boydstun, S. C. 1990. Capturing Concepts. Objectivity 1(1):13–41. ——. 1991a. Induction on Identity – Part 1. Objectivity 1(2):33–46. ——. 1991b. Induction on Identity – Part 2. Objectivity 1(3):1–56. ——. 2004. Universals and Measurement. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 5(2):271–305. Ferejohn, M. T. 2013. Formal Causes – Definition, Explanation, and Primacy in Socratic and Aristotelian Thought. New York: Oxford University Press. Gotthelf, A. 2012. Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle’s Biology. New York: Oxford University Press. Leibniz, G.W. 1704. New Essays on Human Understanding. P. Remnant and J. Bennett, translators. 1996. Cambridge: University Press. Lennox, J. G. 2001. Kinds, Forms of Kinds, and the More and the Less. In Aristotle’s Philosophy of Biology. Cambridge: University Press. ——. 2005. Axioms and Their Validation. Paper at APA session of The Ayn Rand Society. Lewis, F. A. 2013. How Aristotle Gets By in Metaphysics Zeta. Oxford: University Press. Locke, J. 1690. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. New York: Dover. McKirahan, R. D. 1992. Principles and Proofs – Aristotle’s Theory of Demonstrative Science. Princeton: University Press. Mercer, C. 2001. Leibniz’s Metaphysics – Its Origins and Development. Cambridge: University Press. Peikoff, L. 1964. The Status of the Law of Contradiction in Classic Logic Ontologism. Ph.D. dissertation. Rand, A. 1966. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. H. Binswanger and L. Peikoff, editors. 1990. New York: Meridian. Rasmussen, D. B. 2014. Grounding Necessary Truth in the Nature of Things. In Shifting the Paradigm: Alternative Perspectives on Induction. P. C. Biondi and L. F. Groarke, editors. Berlin: De Gruyter. Reeve, C. D. C., translator, 2016. Aristotle – Metaphysics. Indianapolis: Hackett. Salmieri, G. 2008. Aristotle and the Problem of Concepts. Ph.D. dissertation. ——. 2010. Aisthêsis, Empeiria, and the Advent of Universals in Posterior Analytics II 19. In From Inquiry to Demonstrative Knowledge – New Essays on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics. J. H. Lesher, editor. Kelowna: Academic Printing and Publishing. Sgarbi, M. 2013. The Aristotelian Tradition and the Rise of British Empiricism. Dordrecht: Springer. Snyder, L. J. 2017. William Whewell. Online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Spinoza, B. 1677. Ethics. In The Collected Works of Spinoza. E. Curley, translator. 1985. Princeton: University Press. Sullivan, J. B. 1939. An Examination of First Principles in Thought and Being in the Light of Aristotle and Aquinas. Washington: Catholic University of America.
  7. . . Got Gold? - Gravitational-Waves and Gamma from Collision of Two Neutron Stars Inform .
  8. Boydstun

    Here I Stand

    . This October 31 will be 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg. Ideas move the world. October 31 is Halloween, and Luther had his reasons for selecting that day to launch what would become the Reformation. That day came to be known also as Reformation Day. I was born on that day in 1948, a Sunday in that year. I was born before dawn, and I’ve found that is my right time for starting each day. Ideas move the world. Ein Feste Burg
  9. . Neutrino-nuclei scattering now observed after theoretical prediction 43 years ago. Small Detector, Big Result Experiment Paper The 1974 Prediction
  10. Easy Truth, welcome to Objectivism Online. I liked Aristotle’s bit about truth being in one way hard and in another way easy, “like the proverbial door one cannot avoid bumping into.” Your insight that if existing were itself an action, it would imply that all entities act is right, provided we keep constant the sort of action we are talking about throughout that if-then statement. That kind of action would be something more inert than when, in science or in everyday experience, we say that such-and-such thing acted in such-and-such way. Nevertheless, for those who love not only easy truth, but hard truth, the question of whether existing is itself an action, or activity, is a good one. Aristotle, Leibniz, and Lotze affirmed. Russell denied, arguing against Lotze. The case that Aristotle is an affirmer on this question is made out by Aryeh Kosman in his book The Activity of Being (2013). I’m a denier on the conception of existing as necessarily being a sort of acting. I affirm that all concrete existence is temporal, but for that, it suffices that some concrete part in the whole of concrete existence is acting in our ordinary and scientific types of acting. To be clear, I’m talking about any sort of acting that has been connected in a necessary way with existence per se in the history of philosophic reflection or is thusly connected by us in our philosophic reflection today. What we know from science (e.g. that mass is convertible to energy, that mass-energy has some dynamical relations with spacetime, and that the vacuum has energy) concerns other sorts of activity than the one that has been claimed by philosophers for existence per se, and these activities we learn in the physical sciences were conceived and discovered by means necessarily beyond philosophic reflection.
  11. Boydstun


    . The Code for Facial Identity in the Primate Brain Doris Tsao and Le Chang --- Cell (June 2017)
  12. . When Rand first began working on We the Living in 1929, its title was to be Airtight: A Novel of Red Russia. Clearly, one of the objectives of her novel was to exhibit the moral, economic, and technological inferiority of communist Russia in comparison to America and Europe. The main writing and rewriting of the novel was in 1933–35. By 1933 America was at the depth of its greatest economic depression. There was much clamoring from business and labor leaders for “economic democracy,” for the cartelization and socialization of major industries, and for central planning of production and consumption. The picture of communist Russia that Rand was exposing in We the Living was as in the early 20’s. By the 30’s Russia was not Russia in the immediate aftermath of revolution and civil war. There were large construction projects underway over there, which were being touted by Stalin’s government to show the superiority of communism. A scene in Rand’s novel retained through her first couple of drafts to May 1934 was one in which Kira’s lover Leo mentions to her that in New York there are six million inhabitants and that they have subways. “It must be delightful—a subway” Leo remarks to Kira who adores such things (Milgram 2004, 13). That was cut from the novel by November 1935. There are additional reasons for removing the passage, but I think one was that Stalin’s Russia had completed its first underground metro, in Moscow, in May 1935. Rand’s use of the lack of subways in cities of communist Russia as illustration of its technical stagnation would not have been effective by 1935. Canal
  13. We should not erect statues of Andrew Jackson all along the Trail of Tears to ensure that his Indian Removal of the Five Civilized Tribes is not repeated. "Preserving history and not ignoring history" is the chant, but not the heart of the chanters and their forebears defending these public statues to leaders as leaders of the Confederacy---clinging to the old white supremacy is the core.
  14. At a monument at a museum downtown here at Lynchburg where we live. And then, if you actually go into the museum, you can actually learn something.
  15. James M, yes. It's my understanding that most of these statues across the South were built near the end of the nineteenth century, when surviving soldiers of the Confederacy were naturally dying. Support for those memorial projects then as now was in large measure continuing support for the fist of white supremacy.
  16. * “Because we are not accustomed to see any of the things within and do not know them, . . . [we] do not know it is that within which moves us: as if someone looking at his image and not knowing where it came from should pursue it. . . . It is truly a greater beauty . . . when you see moral sense in someone and delight in it, not looking at his face—which might be ugly—but putting aside all shape and pursuing his inner beauty. But if it does not move you yet, so that you call someone like this beautiful, you will not when you look inward at yourself be pleased with your beauty. . . . This is why discussions about these sorts of things are not for everybody; but if you have seen yourself beautiful, remember them.” Plotinus, Enneads V.8.2 – A. H. Armstrong, translator
  17. . I lived in Chicago during this one: http://www.jta.org/2013/06/20/news-opinion/the-telegraph/nazis-marching-through-skokie When I was a young man, I demonstrated quite a bit, particularly against taxes (April 15 at the main post office each year) and against reinstatement of the draft registration. A friend recalls I joined the counter-demonstration against the Nazis linked above. I don't actually recall that particular counter-march, but I do recall that on all such occasions all sorts of other political factions will try to join in and get mileage for their own political cause(s). In my era of demonstrations ('70s and '80s), I witnessed no violence from the pro- or counter-side. The most important thing about the events in Charlottesville this past weekend was that a young man (of a fascist, racist political persuasion) drove his car into a bunch of our citizens who were opposed to his views. And the American President stated no specific condemnation of that mayhem and murder, which was a heinous act an order of magnitude more wicked than any other violence there. The public statues of this sort ARE going to come down when all the legal process has been completed. They are today and since they were erected principally monuments proclaiming white supremacy. I live in Lynchburg, about an hour south of Charlottesville. Around here I encourage people to go over to the Museum of the Confederacy just down the road, over at Appomattox. It was completed pretty recently, it is truly informative, and is accessible to folks of all sorts of educational levels or age. The old statues, such as this one of Lee, are unnecessary for historical education and awareness. .
  18. . Peikoff's Dissertation Prep Plato Aristotle I To be continued. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Further Observation on Rand’s Definition of Logic vis-à-vis Aristotle’s Metaphysics I had remarked in “Aristotle 1” that in her differentia (PNC) for definition of logic, Rand may have been led astray by Aristotle’s “‘all who are carrying out a demonstration refer it to this [PNC] as an ultimate belief; for this is naturally the starting-point even for all the other axioms’, which is only a few lines of Aristotle beyond the lines she quotes in the closing scene of 1957.” Her Atlas quotation spans 1005a23–b20, and she uses the Ross translation. The lines of Aristotle just now I quoted are 1005b32–34, also using Ross. Joe Sach’s 1999 translation of Metaphysics has the latter lines as: “Everyone who demonstrates traces things back to this as an ultimate opinion [PNC], since this is by nature a source even of all the other axioms.” The shift from “the starting-point” to “a source” contains a little loosening by shift from the definite article the to the indefinite article a. Had Rand been looking at the latter translation she might not have gone with PNC as the basic element of identification delimiting the aspect of identification of special focus in logic. She and her early expositors might not have attempted to portray first-figure syllogistic inference as under the auspice of PNC. Christopher Kirwan’s 1992 translation of this book (gamma) of Metaphysics goes with the definite article. Reeve’s 2016 translation of Metaphysics goes with the definite article. In a note (390), Reeve works out an example of a mathematical axiom (that proportionals alternate) that can be defended by showing its denial leads to contradiction. But again, back in logic itself, that the valid inference ‘Socrates is mortal’ from ‘All men are mortal, and Socrates is a man’ can be shown to entail contradiction if denied is no showing that PNC is more fundamental, nor equally fundamental, than the logical principle we use straightaway in that inference: identity.
  19. . Budd, I’m pretty sure Rand would have been fine with that 1888 text on deduction by Stock I linked, and that is formal logic. Peirce reviewed that text shortly after its appearance, and complained it made errors on logic of relations, and complained it did not introduce the modern developments of Venn and of what Peirce termed Symbolic Logic. Self-evidence arises in the older, more limited vista of Stock, but as well in the more modern developments. Peirce would not have wanted to call it self-evidence, which he took in close proximity to intuition, which he detested. The self-evident things in logic, Peirce would have simple called facts, necessary facts. A rose by any other name. . . . Whether Rand ever got into learning the contemporary logic, such as was presented in Irving Copi’s text Symbolic Logic (1954) or Quine’s Methods of Logic (1950), I don’t know, but I’d be surprised if she did. She’d have been familiar with material covered in the first-course texts, such as Copi’s Introduction to Logic, of course. She listened to what Leonard Peikoff had learned and concluded on modern logic, to be sure. In my notes to his 1976 lecture course The Philosophy of Objectivism, in the Q&A of Lecture 4, I jotted a reply evidently to some sort of question about modern logic: “Rand’s math/concepts antithesis of Russell <--severs both from reality // Symbolic logic rejected out of hand---arbitrary assumptions, etc.” <--For whatever indication my cryptic notes might contain. (Rand or Peikoff aside, logical relations between Rand’s conceptions of logic and Aristotle’s or Kant’s or contemporary conceptions of logic is topic for any informed intelligence, not only for the reflections of Rand or of Peikoff on those relations.) After the root post linked below, the follow-on posts are in reverse-chron. http://www.solopassion.com/node/6043 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS - I notice now in this link that Fred Seddon's question to me eight years ago included not only the name Peikoff, but the name Veatch. Henry Veatch's book Intentional Logic was a text Peikoff relied on in his Ph.D. dissertation (1964). So Veatch's outlook there might be of a feather with Peikoff those decades ago concerning "symbolic logic." .
  20. . William, this logic text by Stock in 1888 uses self-evident for the principle discussed at this linked page. It nicely mentions Aristotle’s first-figure syllogisms as those known as perfect, the self-evident ones upon which (with some other self-evident logical principles) Aristotle had argued the validity of the syllogisms of the other figures. Stock was an Oxford teacher of logic. At the beginning of the book, Stock had described the three laws of thought also as self-evident. His conception of the identity law among those three is very slender, though rightly conceived as necessary and universal. Were one to enrich the identity law along the lines of Rand’s enrichment, I think it would still pass for self-evident and indeed already encompass the principle known as nota notae discussed at the page of this link. All the same, I don’t think nota notae would be inheriting its self-evidence from that more Randian law of identity. Self-evidence stands on each of its occasions without having had self-evidence transmitted to it from some other occasion of self-evidence. I don’t care for Audi’s grandparents-example in his point 4. There are things we prove are necessarily so, such as Lowenheim’s Theorem in logic or the Pythagorean Theorem in geometry, and that does not necessarily make those propositions self-evident, at least not in an unstrained sense of the self-evident. That is not to say that no propositions that are conclusions of a proof are not also self-evident. Some are and some are not. I can construct a proof to the conclusion “Nothing comes from nothing,” although that proposition were already self-evidently true to anyone who soundly grasped its statement. Discussion of self-evidence of principles in logic, by Frege and by our contemporaries Tyler Burge or Penelope Maddy stays close to logic, recognizing that logic will apply to the actual world. But these proceed without (making explicit) the broad background thesis of Rand’s that “logic rests on the axiom that existence exists,” that two-word proposition being a report of a standing manifest fact, a truth known self-evidently by perception. .
  21. . William, I’m not sure Audi sticks to that list of conditions in all his works, and anyway, the list circumscribes a more narrow concept than the usual. In his The Architecture of Reason, he allows that certain moral principles could be self-evident or at least, more weakly, a priori. Right principles present to us in this way would seem to be at least about the perceptual level and, frankly, in the thick of it. That goes as counter only to his item 2 on the list. The usual definition of the self-evident is the manifestly true requiring no proof. This is still a good place for philosophers to start and not forget. I doubt one would be laughed out of the academy if one did not confine one’s philosophic uses of the term to the constraints Audi was formulating for it. “Percepts, not sensations, are the given, the self-evident” (ITOE 5; similarly, early Heidegger). A paragraph from my book in progress: Sextus, Peirce, and Moritz Schlick argued against self-evidence of our cognitive bases.* They erred in supposing self-evidence in cognition is spoiled by any obscure or fallible aspect and by connection of any purported self-evident cognition to other cognition. To the contrary: In one’s present perception is this text. That one perceives those marks in this read, perceptually knowing their existence and character, is self-evident. They are not only perceived as present, but as having the particular character they have. Additionally, they are not only perceived as present, but can then be reflected as self-evident. Their status as self-evident does not require they have no obscure or fallible aspect and have no connections with other cognitions, preceding, overlapping, or subsequent. *Sextus c.200b, I, 151; Peirce 1868b, 19; Schlick 1925, §19; see also Maddy 2011, 118–37; cf. Binswanger 2014, 382. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS Rand rightly held that it is incorrect to try to prove the existence of the external, perceived world.* The world’s existence is self-evident in perception. The existence of character and spatiality and action is self-evident in perception. *Rand 1961b, 28; cf. Gilson 1937, 146–47, 152–55; Heidegger 1953, 202–7/194–200. (1961b is For the New Intellectual, paperback.)
  22. . Of related interest: The Voices Within -- The History and Science of How We Talk to Ourselves Charles Fernyhough
  23. . The transcription of Rand’s epistemology seminars (1969–71) included in the second edition of ITOE, contain some deep exchanges between Rand and Gotthelf (Prof. B ) and Peikoff (Prof. E). Outside those, the most sustained dialogues (in the transcription) are the penetrating exchanges between Rand and John O. Nelson (Prof. D).* Prof. Nelson had contributed an article on matters political to Rand’s The Objectivist in 1969. A note listing therewith some glimpse of Nelson’s academic stature included: “Professor Nelson agrees with the basic principles of Objectivism in ethics and politics.” That expresses perhaps too much concord even in those areas, but anyway, that statement rightly indicated that Nelson was of another perspective in areas of theoretical philosophy. Jeff Broome, an acquaintance of John O. Nelson (1917–2005), writes in the Preface to a couple of Nelson studies on Hume: “It wasn’t just Wittgenstein who was impressed by John’s penetrating philosophical mind. Ayn Rand would also become friends with John and Edna, inviting them to her Manhatten apartment for weekend exchanges of philosophical ideas. John was impressed with the depth of Ayn’s intellect, especially her ability to talk in depth about nearly countless topics and ideas. John proved her equal in conversations, a rarity among Rand’s inner circle of close friends.” (2010)
  24. . The Political Economy of Public Debt - Three Centuries of Theory and Evidence Richard M. Salsman (2017)
  25. . The strings of the harp return to silence. That is so not only for each individual, but for the species, and eventually for all life in the solar system, and eventually farther, for all life-organization and intelligence-organization in the universe. Stardust to stardust. “When we are here, death is not come. When death is come, we are not here.” –Lucretius Taking a third-person perspective on oneself, one can be in advance conscious of one’s death, one’s full stop. In the first-person perspective, full ending of any object of consciousness whatsoever is collapse of both together, conscious process and object. I like better the third-person perspective, which is the only perspective with real interest for one's endpoint. Value is here on this earth beyond one's own life. Look to here and to the tomorrows of here all through one’s own last look at all.
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