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Everything posted by Boydstun

  1. FELLOW - That seems like a reasonable way to understand such concepts as geometric points. What do you think about something even more abstract, like merely possible objects? They might be said to exist, in the broadest sense (some philosophers have used the term 'subsist' to account for such things), but not in a narrower sense of the term 'exist' which only covers actual things. I'm trying to pin down just what sorts of things are ruled out as floating abstractions and which are not. STEPHEN - I do not myself allow as cognitive possibilities alleged possibilities that have nothing to suggest how they could be realized from the potentials of existing things. To be a cognitive possibility in my book, an idea has to do more than be merely not self-contradictory. There are other kinds of possibilities such as for our entertainment in fiction. But possibilities aiming to be cognitive, such philosophical reflections, yet which are not specifically grounded in potentials of actuals, are floating abstractions.
  2. I've recently had an informative exchange with a Facebook friend who is a serious student of philosophy. I need to keep that person's identity anonymous, so I'll just here name him Fellow. He posed the following question. I'll try to post installments of our exchanges in the next few minutes in this thread. Some digging has gone into this. And perhaps participants here will have some further thoughts. FELLOW - Stephen, I am contacting you with a question regarding an important idea that, as far as I am aware, is the product of Ayn Rand: floating abstractions. I chose to reach out to you specifically because I have run across some of your work (e.g. “Universals and Measurement”) and I judged that you might be able assist me given your knowledge of philosophy, and in particular Rand’s philosophy. I am interested in reading something relatively comprehensive on the subject of floating abstractions, and I was hoping you might be able to direct me to a resource which deals with floating abstractions in some detail. There is a section in Peikoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (p. 96) which describes what a floating abstraction is; yet, while it does bring some clarity to the subject, I still find the notion of a floating abstraction a bit murky and difficult to apply. For example, what about certain concepts in mathematics that seem to have some sort of use (e.g. transfinite cardinal numbers, or geometric points)? They seem to meet Peikoff’s description of floating abstractions as “concepts detached from existents”. STEPHEN - I'm inclined to think that in pure mathematics there is always connection to reality in that we reach a concept such as transfinite numbers and accept it only by it satisfying the requirements mathematicians have over centuries refined to qualify as a legitimate mathematical concept, with its connections to more elementary mathematical concepts and its emerging connections to other areas of mathematics. That is, for my part, there are binds of accepted mathematical concepts to reality and to our abstractive and inferential processes themselves other than the binds of such concepts when we do find them appropriate for application to empirical situations. Another thing I think good to remember is that there are apparently things concretely real that we access only by abstraction. Such would be an electron or a geometric point. That is not to say every validly established concept or theorem in mathematics having physical instance will have causal powers, such as an electron has. But things such as geometrical points might be also instanced physically (which Euclid, Descartes, and Newton inclined to take them to be), themselves be part of physical process and part of our empirical experience, yet not themselves possess causal powers. / I imagine my conceptions expressed in this note have some deviation from the picture Rand had so far as she got and some variance from the pictures reached by others who are intellectually indebted to her.
  3. . Oh, I was just interested what is your impression for the parallel question to yours: What do the French today think of Guyau? I was just curious, since I have an interest in this French philosopher. By the way, I thought your English was fine. Concerning a related question “What do Americans think of Ayn Rand?” my impressions are these: The egoism she brought on the scene, beginning to get some notice in the 1940’s due to her book and film The Fountainhead, was foreign to America. Individualism, fine; egoism, hell’s bells. There were traces of egoism in Emerson, but nothing like this. By egoism, I mean the idea of having self-interest as the ultimate justification for every right action and the throwing out of any old virtues that cannot be justified on that basis. Her championing of reason and her jettison of faith and the supernatural is, as you know, perfectly normal for those in American academia. But the egoism and the attendant pure capitalism of her ethical and political philosophy mean that she is pretty roundly shut out of serious development by philosophers who have won a place in academia. Outside of academia, in the wider literate public, her view upholding full reason, including her dismissal of the supernatural, and her view of morality based purely on self-interest are anathema. Though we are not a significant percentage of the American population, some of us read Rand and benefitted from her thought and productions in building our own wide understanding of things and in making a life for ourselves.
  4. Boydstun

    Here I Stand

    . Finding Morality and Happiness without God
  5. Gio, Do you hear in France today anything of the French philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau? Especially, do you know anything of his book Esquisse d'une Morale sans Obligation, ni Sanction? Nietzsche got the first edition hot off the press in 1885. I like some of Guyau's ideas in that book. Nietzsche, Guyau, and Rand all made moral theories based on biological human nature, they were all moral individualists, opposed to utilitarianism and to Kantian ethics and to Schopenhauer's pessimism. All three were completely secular, not theistic. The three had different conceptions of what was the basic nature of life per se, and this was harmonious with their three different moral conceptions. Guyau's moral theory was not an egoistic one. I like his theory better than Nietzsche's predominant congealing view from about 1883 forward. Rand's moral view is more developed and systematic than either of those other two. Guyau was more friendly towards modern capitalistic society than was Nietzsche. Rand had read some Nietzsche in Russia before coming to the US, but those were not good translations into Russian. One of her biographers here has mentioned to me that a course on Guyau was offered at Rand's university in Russia during her college years, but that she did not take that course. This book of Guyau's was translated into English by an American near the end of the 19th Century. Guyau died young. As I recall, he had some influence on Bergson (and perhaps a bit on Nietzsche), but my impression has been that he was known best in late 19th and early 20th century. There is an American philosopher of that era named Josiah Royce who had some appreciation of Guyau. --S
  6. Tony, Definitely draining the security of my country by massive continued deficit spending. All President Trump had to do was veto that spending bill, send it back to the House, and promise to sign a bill with the exact same internal proportions and with the total amount allocated reduced to expected revenue. That would drain a swamp, or more precisely, a real definite threat to our country (USA). That would be serious leadership. Time to stop so many metaphors, other words of vagueness, and name-calling, and replace this President with someone not anti-intellectual. Politically, this is not a great time for our country, due to the anti-intellectuality riding so high.
  7. I got mixed up, Ninth. What I had come across was this little bit of posting, but I see that this too was at Objectivist Living, only under a different user name. I'll link this one here. It gives a link to his own personal blog, which shows some of his range of his interests.
  8. . Some readers here may have known Ted Keer, at least as a poster. He posted a while at Objectivism Online. I have learned from his Facebook page that he died on 5 March 2018. He died in his sleep of natural causes. Ted once quipped of my paper Universals and Measurement: "At last, metaphysics that stays crispy in milk." Here is a comment of Ted's on The Logical Leap.
  9. . Plato “Firstly, Peikoff examines the views of Plato in their import for an explanation of our knowledge of PNC and its self-evident character and for the bases of PNC in reality. . . .” Aristotle I “Peikoff scrutinizes the broadly empiricist thinkers Aristotle, Aquinas, and Locke in the aspect of opposition to the Platonic views that necessary truths, such as the impossibility of contradictions in reality, are (i) innate in the human mind and (ii) features of essences accessible only by intellect and objectified beyond the particulars accessible by sensory perception. . . .” Aristotle II “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. 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. . . .” Kant I “We have seen the weaknesses of the classical accounts of how PNC is grounded in the nature of objects apart from their subjects. Platonic and Aristotelian accounts of form and essence fell off the center stage of philosophy in the modern era. With them fell the accounts of the necessity and normativity of the principle of noncontradiction (PNC) utilizing them. . . .” Kant II “I mentioned that Kant’s own logic lecture notes compiled by Jäsche were always available to German readers from 1800. We have seen that Kant therein, in his introduction to the discipline of logic, made an analogy between logic and grammar. . . .” Kant III “Having acknowledged the tension between having logical principles such as PNC be at once absolutely necessary laws of human mind, yet crossable by that mind, Kant in the Jäsche LOGIC addresses how such error is possible. . . .” To be continued.
  10. . PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Kant III I’d like to pause, before answering that question, to mention that a reasonably complete theory of the rules of elementary formal logic, how we come to know them and their character of absolute necessity, and how it is possible to violate them would need to cover not only PNC. It should include in its scope also the fallacies of affirming the consequent (AC) and the fallacy of denying the antecedent (DA). (“If someone recently sat in this chair, then it will be warm; and it is warm, so someone recently sat in this chair.” “If it’s raining, then the sky is not entirely clear; but it’s not raining, so the sky is entirely clear.”) All adult interlocutors, however meager their formal education, know in practice that they should not violate PNC in their reasoning. But the unschooled seem oblivious to those other rules for their right reasoning and keeping to reality. This is especially so when the reasoning is not about such concrete matters as in my examples, but about more abstract matters as come up in disputations in politics and religion in which they mainly want the conclusion and are not keenly interested in whether a particular reasoning to it is valid. They generally take care to avoid PNC even in heated argument. Its invalidating character is ever close with them, and they know it’s ever close to all the participants or observers. I suggest that PNC is more obviously mandated (than AC and DA are mandated) by the metaphysical principle of identity as to the which and the what in reality and that PNC is more obviously required for keeping hold of those identities and for communication concerning them. Although avoiding the fallacies of AC and DA also rests on those aims and on those aspects of identity in reality, they are less primitive and less fundamental for discursive cognition than the logical principle of noncontradiction. Nevertheless, the principles of barring AC and barring DA have the same absolute, perfectly general necessity and normativity as PNC. Having acknowledged the tension between having logical principles such as PNC be at once absolutely necessary laws of human mind, yet crossable by that mind, Kant in the Jäsche Logic addresses how such error is possible. The faculty of understanding would make no errors were its judgments never under illusions it forms in its commerce with the faculties of sense (also KrV A293–94 B350–51). The sensory inputs themselves are not erroneous, for only judgments can be true or false. Kant is in keeping with Descartes’ view that errors all arise from allowing our will to outrun our understanding. We alone are responsible for all our errors. That analysis of error is fine for a wide class of errors, but not, I say, for the class into which contradictions fall. Formal contradictions are judgment against judgment, and the rather obvious sources of contradictions in one’s judgments are limitations of memory and not drawing out all the implications of one’s various judgments. The latter source can range from evasion to plain economics of mental reflections in the course of a human day or life. Like most any philosopher before him, Kant can dig into our motives for the willful portions of such errors. He cannot explain and seems reluctant to admit the existence of one’s contradictions not willful. Might Kant’s analogy help here, his analogy between logic and grammar, each discovered and become explicit by reflection on their natural employment, consisting of rules descriptively necessary yet normative? No. The problem is that when Kant speaks of the necessity of the rules of grammar being contingent rather than absolutely necessary, he does not mean that rules of grammar are probabilistic rules. He means they might have been otherwise, and that makes the analogy converge on congruence in the crucial respect. The grammar is as necessary within a language or range of languages as PNC is necessary in any possible setting. He cannot explain (or even acknowledge?) an error of grammar not willful any more than he can explain a contradiction not willful. Peikoff 1964 does not attempt to delve into these various doctrines of Kant concerning the character and sources of error. He takes it, like some other contemporary philosophers, that one cannot succeed in holding onto the absolutism of logical rules while saying also that we can violate them and that they are due only to the constitution of the mind. So far, my mining of Kant on error confirms that estimation of Kant’s effort on his conundrum. What about the kind of error Kant mentioned in the Anthropology in the preceding post? That was the error of mistaking linguistic signs for things they signify and vice versa. Such signs, Kant calls artificial, in contrast to natural indicators such as smoke for fire. Kant observed that people having common language can yet signify in their vocabulary concepts quite different one person to the next. He implies that this variance is due to infirmities in the faculty of signification, which rather suggests that if we were all working correctly in our linguistic significations, we should have no variance among persons in concepts signified by a word. I seriously doubt that, given the variance in individual backgrounds of experience and education and given the creativity in thought, especially in more abstract thought. Were Kant’s rigid connection between vocabulary and right concept correct, infirmity of word-concept powers would yet not explain how errors of logic or grammar are possible. The same goes under my denial of the word-concept complete rigidity of right signification, for then there is utter incommensurability between the would-be explanation and the thing to be explained, since the rules of logic and grammar are fixed, in Kant’s view, in all the heads talking and thinking to themselves and with others. Error of signification and its source (source pretty vague in Kant) does not help to explain error in logic or grammar. The sort of error to which Kant draws attention most famously is the one that is mood lighting for his Critical philosophy. That is the error of letting reason run off into speculations about things as they are in themselves, things as they are beyond the bounds of possible experience. Kant’s advertisement for his critique of reason by reason is that all fundamental contradictory positions on metaphysical questions before his 1781 are resolvable once we realize that opposing answers are addressing the question in different senses. One side is addressing a question about a thing as it is in itself; the other side, as that thing is an object of possible experience (A395, Bxxvii). This error is an extrapolation from the kind of error Descartes and others had cautioned against: making judgments on things for which we are not in a position to judge. Rather, we should withhold judgment and not let our will outrun our understanding. Kant’s casting as error reason overstepping the so-called phenomenal district, reason stepping into the so-called noumenal district, relies on correctness of PNC. This overstepping error, Kant’s sweetheart, provides no help to resolving his problem of how absolute necessity of PNC is on account of the way the mind operates yet that mind is able to commit contradictions. So I concur with the conclusion of Peikoff and others he cites that once Kant had the constitution of the subject the sole source of the purely formal and purely a priori, he was not able to stably maintain an absolute necessity of PNC and other principles of logic together with their normativity, which latter entails our ability to not adhere to such principles. I add that this same irresolvable mess arises for every other sort of cognition purely formal and purely a priori, whether analytic or synthetic, once Kant has squarely located their source purely in the constitution of mind, in its fundamental dynamics, not at all in the constitution of the world. (In the next installment, I’ll cover Peikoff’s story of the shift of PNC ground to the side of the subject beyond Kant and the role of Kant in that further development to 1964. I’ll assess his account of Kant’s role and carry the story of the ground shift away from logical ontologism to the present.)
  11. . PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Kant II I mentioned that Kant’s own logic lecture notes compiled by Jäsche were always available to German readers from 1800. We have seen that Kant therein, in his Introduction to the discipline of logic, made an analogy between logic and grammar. (I see now that Capozzi and Roncaglia have also drawn attention to this analogy in the third chapter, p. 143, of The Development of Modern Logic [2009, L. Haaparanta, editor].) Logic is the form of thought, with contents of thought its matter; as grammar is the form of language, with particular words its matter. A book of Kant’s in 1798 includes his view on the relation between thought and language. That book is Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, which was always available in German, but did not come into English translations (two) until the decade after Peikoff’s dissertation. From the Anthropology in a third translation, the Cambridge translation (2007) by Robert Louden: “All language is a signification of thought and, on the other hand, the best way of signifying thought is through language, the greatest instrument for understanding ourselves and others. Thinking is speaking with oneself . . . consequently it is also listening to oneself inwardly (by means of the reproductive power of the imagination). . . . Those who can speak and hear do not always understand themselves or others, and it is due to the lack of the faculty of signification, or its faculty use (when signs are taken for things, and vice versa), that, especially in matters of reason, human beings who are united in language are as distant as heaven from earth in concepts.” (300) Peikoff in crafting his dissertation did not have, in English, this Kant passage on the close relationship of language to thought. We’ve seen he also did not have available that paragraph missing (typesetting?) from the Abbott translation of the Jäsche Logic. That is the paragraph in which Kant maintained that the universal and a priori rules of thought, that is, the rules of logic, could only be found in observation of their natural use in particular cases of reasoning. Peikoff had available in English Kant’s analogy between how logic is discovered and how grammar is discovered. This analogy is mentioned, as we have seen, in the Abbott translation of the Jäsche Logic Peikoff used. As we have seen, the parallel of grammar-logic discovery is set in further parallel, in Kant’s Prolegomena, to how fundamental categories of the understanding (necessary factors in making percepts [“appearances”] in experience into that experience) are discovered. Peikoff elected not to address these passages indicating Kant’s notion of the reflective act by which one could (mainly Aristotle, who did) originally discover the rules of logic together with their character of absolute necessity and normativity. Peikoff rightly observes that Kant cannot draw forth logical, universally necessary principles from the mind as flat empirical generalizations of the mind’s operations. Locke’s idea we’ve put off the table, the idea that among our sensory perceptions of physical necessities there are straight perceptions of instances of PNC in the world. Also off would be any indirect discernment of PNC (i) in the constitution of the world or (ii) in the constitution of the mind by the method of empirical generalization. We must conform to rules of elementary logic in all right thinking, including in right empirical generalization of mental operations. Kant quite agreed, and Peikoff addresses (180–81) Kant’s conviction on this point. (Not that Kant denigrates the senses in the way of Plato or the Rationalists, but in each area of his philosophy, it is plain since I first began to study him fifty years ago that Kant sings the imperial purple of the a priori, whether synthetic or analytic, in comparison to empirical generalization.) The corresponding point for the logical ontologist is stated by Aristotle (in the course of arguing a different issue): “It is a wrong assumption to suppose universally that we have an adequate first principle in virtue of the fact that something always is so or always happens so” (Phy. 252a2–3). Aristotle’s account of coming to know PNC by an intuitive induction, not by empirical generalization, was quite opaque, not very illuminating. Kant is facing the same problem in resting PNC simply in the constitution of the mind and then trying to explain how we come to know the principle is an absolutely necessary one. And a normative one. Peikoff notices subsequent Kantians’ return nevertheless to empirical psychology for grounding PNC in the constitution of mind. Peikoff exhibits such a move in Henry Mansel’s Prolegomena Logica (1860). Concerning this work, I’ll mention that Prof. Mansel should report to the Bureau of Transcendental Licensing and turn in his card. C. S. Peirce 1864, which I mentioned at the end of the thread “Peikoff Dissertation Prep,” was mistaken in its assessment that in the Prolegomena Logica “the Kantian conception of logic is developed in the most consistent and beautiful manner.” Mansel’s philosophy surrounding logic is in a manner mildly more realist than Kant and by that it is more pleasing to Peirce. It is indebted to Kant, but it leaves behind Kant’s concept of the noumenal self, Kant’s notion of form (distinct from Aristotle’s), and Kant’s formal and transcendental idealism. Mansel’s idealism, which he represents as under the sway of Kant’s, is as much or more under the sway of Berkeley’s. Mansel is more Humean than Kantian concerning the character of physical laws, such as Kant had exhibited in Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1785). Mansel read Kant in German, including the entirety of Jäsche‘s Logic, and in German he read also successors of Kant concerning the character of logic, such as Wilhelm Krug and Jakob Fries. In footnote after footnote, Mansel specifies his deviations from Kant on the nature of logic. Mansel 1860 misses or declines taking up Kant’s lead to the absolute necessity-but-normativity of logical rules by parallel with the contingent necessity-but-normativity of grammar (65–67, 79–81, 92–97, 135–45, 151–63, 172–80, 192–96, 201–4, 208–9, 225–26, 246–48, 263–69, 278–80, 286–94, 356–59). A logical ontologist at least has no great problem explaining how one can fail to conform to PNC. The absolute necessity of this rule for thinking comes from the total absence of contradictions in reality together with the mind’s ability to fail in its effort to always keep out contradictions within and among all its pictures of reality. To be entirely true so far as one has gotten a comprehension of reality, when contradictions are found in one’s comprehension, the comprehension must be revised. Kant has trouble explaining how the rules of logic take their absolute necessity from law of the mind’s operation, yet the rules are guides for right thinking, rules that the mind can violate. Peikoff 1964 points out (183–86) that Kant notes this difficulty in his lectures as shown in Jäsche’s Logic. How does Kant try to solve this problem? (To be continued.)
  12. . PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Kant I We have seen the weaknesses of the classical accounts of how PNC is grounded in the nature of objects apart from their subjects. Platonic and Aristotelian accounts of form and essence fell off the center stage of philosophy in the modern era. With them fell the accounts of the necessity and normativity of the principle of noncontradiction (PNC) utilizing them. Moreover, those accounts, and the more nominalistic account of Locke too, were inadequate to the task anyway. Peikoff 1964 maintains that Kant’s views on logic were a main highway to the subsequent modern view that logic, including PNC, takes its correctness and necessity most basically from the side of the human subject, not from objects existing apart from the subject. A right-hand glove will not fit my left hand unless I turn the glove inside out. That is a fact about physical objects, including my natural and artificial instruments. My learning, retaining, and stating the fact entails facility in tacitly using set-membership relations. The fact is not dependent on those set-membership relations or on the abstraction process. With much more abstraction from the physical, one can learn that the glove-hand fact is a manifestation of spaces we call oriented spaces. Again, I cannot simultaneously be turning a right glove into a left and not doing that. Beyond the facility with sets and abstraction in stating that fact is comprehending that the fact and its statement instantiates PNC. Any account of the ontology and coming-to-knowledge of PNC that slights either the side of the object (facts) or the side of the conscious subject is bound to be inadequate, I should say. Kant definitely slighted the side of the object. But consider the following statement attributed to Kant: “Only artificial or scientific logic [not natural or popular logic] deserves this name [logic], then, as a science of the necessary and universal rules of thought, which can and must be cognized a priori, independently of the natural use of the understanding and of reason in concreto, although these rules can first be found only through observation of that natural use.” This statement is in the Introduction of what we know as the Jäsche Logic. It was issued, in German, in 1800. Kant died in 1804. It was not written by Kant nor reviewed and approved by him. He had approved, however, this project of creating a manual for lecturers in logic based on his notes used for his own lectures, aiming presumably for what was being used from the notes by Kant in his lectures late in his career. That means lectures for logic consonant with Kant’s mature, Critical philosophy, which had been inaugurated in the Critique of Pure Reason in 1781. Kant’s approval of the creation of a manual from his own lecture notes had been awarded to one of Kant’s students Gottlob Benjamin Jäsche. The entire manual has been translated into English and included in the volume Kant’s Lectures on Logic (in the Cambridge series translating all of Kant’s works) in 1992 by J. Michael Young. The Introduction of this manual had been translated into English in 1885 by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott. This is the source, the only source, Peikoff 1964 quotes as Kant’s own words, in translation, on the subject of logic. Peikoff gives the impression that, and I expect he thought that, this is Kant’s own writing. The parts he and we are concerned with likely are close to what was stated by Kant in his lectures. At least I find no contradiction with the rather detailed student notes known to us as the Vienna Logic, which are thought to be from the early 1780’s. Today we have the advantage of all the superb translations of Kant’s works and of students’ Kant lecture notes into English through the Cambridge project (and translation of Critique of Pure Reason and Critique of Judgment by Werner Pluhar as well). Until recent decades, student lecture notes had no role in the understanding of Kant and no part in the influence of Kant, whether in German or English, since those notes were simply not generally available. The Jäsche Logic was put about in German* under the title (here translated) Immanuel Kant’s Logic – A Manual for Lectures. Across the nineteenth century and to the present, that has been available to German readers. It includes the passage I quoted from it. Abbott’s translation omits that passage. The Kant view available to German readers “. . . although these rules can first be found only through observation of that natural use” is concealed by Abbott to the English reader, such as Peikoff at mid-twentieth century. The important sentence I quoted that is missing from Abbott should have appeared at the bottom of his page 7. (It appears at the bottom of page 12 in the German original.) Prior to that point, Abbott was giving a meticulous rendition of the introductory part of the work known in German as Immanuel Kant’s Logic – A Manual for Lectures. Where Abbott has the term knowledge or its variants, Young has cognition and its variants. Where Abbott has ideas, Young has representations. Where Abbott has semblance, Young has illusion (in characterizing the target of the dialectical logic, which is complementary to our concern here which is known in Kant and others as analytic logic). Those three differences are minor for our pursuit of what is Jäsche’s representation of Kant’s views on logic. The concurrence on substance in the two translations is considerable. Peikoff quotes this much from page 2 of Abbott’s translation concerning Kant’s views on how we discover laws of logic: “{We} set aside all knowledge that we can only borrow from objects, and reflect simply on the exercise of the understanding in general, [and] then we discover those rules which are absolutely necessary, and independently of any particular objects of thought, because without them we cannot think at all. These rules, accordingly, can be discerned a priori, that is, independently of all experience, because they contain merely the conditions of the use of the understanding in general, whether pure or empirical, without distinction of its objects. . . . The science, therefore, which contains these universal and necessary laws is simply a science of the form of thought.” (Cf. KrV A52–55 B76–79) (Curly braces are from me, square from Peikoff.) There is a sentence at Peikoff’s elision points, and there is one more sentence in this paragraph after the final sentence he quotes here. Starting at the elision, we read as follows: “Hence, also, it follows that the universal and necessary laws of thought can only be concerned with its form, not in anywise with its matter. The science, therefore, which contains these universal and necessary laws is simply a science of the form of thought. And we can form a conception of the possibility of such a science, just as a universal grammar which contains nothing beyond the mere form of language, without words, which belong to the matter of language.” That last sentence gives us some idea of what Kant means by saying that reflection on the exercise of the understanding enables us to discern absolutely necessary rules of our thought such as the constraint against contradictions. This reflection, then, is Kant’s replacement for Aristotle’s ‘intuitive induction’. Before school age, we follow elementary grammar in speaking our native language. We conform to that language’s grammar a good deal, and it has become habitual. We learn expressly what grammatical forms we are following and should be following from grammar school (after we have learned to write). Some earlier humans had to have reflected on the language, such as Latin or German, to have discovered its grammar. Kant’s analogy on the use, express statement, and normativity of grammar with the use, express statement, and normativity of logic that Jäsche and Abbott here publicize is corroborated as standard in Kant’s lectures on logic by student notes, the Bloomberg (early 1770’s), the Dohna-Wundlacken (1792), and the Vienna. The D-W notes indicate that because logic must contain a priori principles, “logic is a science and grammar is not, because its rules are contingent” (page 432 in Young 1992). I should mention that in Kant’s various remarks on logic, talk of the necessary v. the contingent is shorthand for (what is earlier stated as) the absolutely necessary v. the contingently necessary. Kant penned an incomplete monograph (published after his death in 1804) What Real Progress Has Metaphysics Made in Germany Since the Time of Leibniz and Wolff? Therein Kant writes: “As grammar is the resolution of a speech-form into it’s elementary rules, and logic a resolution of the form of thought, so ontology is a resolution of knowledge into the concepts that lie a priori in the understanding, and have their use in experience . . . .” (page 354 of Henry Allison translation in Cambridge’s Kant Theoretical Philosophy after 1781). In Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics that Will Be Able to Come Forward as Science (1783), Kant writes of how he discerned those fundamental a priori concepts of the understanding that are used in human intelligibility in experience: “To pick from ordinary cognition the concepts that are not based on any particular experience and yet are present in all cognition from experience (for which they constitute as it were the mere form of connection) required no greater reflection or more insight than to cull from a language rules for the actual use of words in general, and so to compile the elements for a grammar (and in fact both investigations are very closely related to one another) without, for all that, being able to give a reason why any given language should have precisely this and no other formal constitution, and still less why precisely so many, neither more nor fewer, of such formal determinations of the language can be found at all.” (ibid. 115, translator Gary Hatfield) To be continued.
  13. Hi William, It is available for purchase here at the ProQuest site, where any dissertation can be purchased. I always get them in paperback, but even so, as I recall, each dissertation costs about $70. There is a little wait for them to produce the book, but the quality has been excellent on all my purchases there, and they have been completely reliable. --S ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS
  14. . I'm skeptical myself just because from about 1882 forward it seems Nietzsche has found his distinctive metaphysics in which he is quite content, and that is his doctrine of the will to power. Not only does he try to cram the animate world into that paradigm (ultimately sprung from his supposedly profound insight into human psychological nature), but, at least in his Nachlass, he has notes in which he imputes the principle of the will to power to all inanimate nature as well as its deepest and universal dynamical principle. That looks like a continental metaphysics to me (and not a seriously grounded one). But to your request concerning the ambition of replacing metaphysics with psychology, I'll just have to leave you with BGE 23 and with a book on this topic by my distinguished teacher. Because, I have to stay on course with other philosophy studies (for the discussion of Peikoff's dissertation and for the theoretical-philosophy portion of my book in progress, and of course Nietzsche is not significant in those areas and their histories). Nietzsche, Psychology, & First Philosophy by Robert Pippin. I think you would so enjoy this book. --S .
  15. . “The invention of the laws of numbers was made on the basis of the error, dominant even from the earliest times, that there are identical things (but in fact nothing is identical with anything else) . . . . The assumption of plurality always presupposes the existence of something that occurs more than once: but precisely here error already holds sway, here already we are fabricating beings, unities which do not exist. . . . To a world which is not our idea the laws of numbers are wholly inapplicable: these are valid only in the human world.” (HH I:19) (1878) Wrong (and boringly unoriginal). “Logic too depends on presuppositions with which nothing in the real world corresponds, for example on the presupposition that there are identical things, that the same thing is identical at different points of time: but this science came into existence through the opposite belief (that such conditions do obtain in the real world). It is the same with mathematics, which would certainly not have come into existence if one had known from the beginning that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no real circle, no absolute magnitude.” (HH I:11) Wrong (. . .). There is a certain number of letters in this sentence. Whether we express that number in base 10 (from normal number of fingers) or in base 8 (from normal number of spaces between fingers—practice and origin for a tribe in South America), the number of letters in the sentence is what it is regardless of the base we select for expression of that number. The number of items is there, and in this case, a child beyond age 6, including the reader, can know that number present, obfuscations of philosophers notwithstanding. / On exactly straight lines (and so forth), whether in a flat Euclidean plane or on the surfaces of elliptical or hyperbolic geometry, the number of exactly straight lines is infinite (as recognized by both Descartes and Newton for the geometry they knew, the Euclidean). The fact that we arrive at idealizations of the physical world by abstractions does not mean that those idealizations are not also concretely instantiated. Electrons are concretely real even though we have to have a lot of abstraction to get to them. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In Gay Science III, §111 (1882), Nietzsche repeats the old baloney I quoted from Human, All Too Human. But he begins to get more vicious and ad hominem about it, and this is some originality. The Introduction to GS in the Cambridge edition is written by Josefine Nauckhoff, who is also the translator. She includes the following comment in that Introduction. “In his earliest writings about truth and error, Nietzsche sometimes spoke as though he could compare the entire structure of our thought to the ‘real’ nature of things and find our thought defective. . . . Later he rightly rejected this picture . . . . There are passages in The Gay Science where it is unclear whether he is still attached to this picture. He discusses fictions, the practice of regarding things as equal or identical or mathematically structured when they are not so or only approximately so . . . . He is making the point, certainly, that mathematical representations which are offered by the sciences [think Maxwell, who died in ’79] are in various ways idealizations, and this is entirely intelligible. There is greater ambiguity when he suggests that nothing is really ‘identical’ or ‘the same’. To take an example: the concept ‘snake’ allows us to classify various individual things as ‘the same snake’. It is trivially true that ‘snake’ is a human concept, a cultural product. But it is a much murkier proposition that its use somehow falsifies reality—that ‘in itself’ the world does not contain snakes, or indeed anything else you might mention. Nietzsche came to see that this idea of the world ‘in itself’ was precisely a relic of the kind of metaphysics that he wanted to overcome. As a remark in the Nachlass puts it (The Will to Power 567): ‘The antithesis of the apparent world and the true world is reduced to the antithesis “world” or “nothing”’.” So far as I recall, Nietzsche made no progress in setting forth a plausible metaphysics or anti-metaphysics in which that old divide, prominent in Plato and Kant, could be laid to rest. Certainly, Rand was in no debt to Nietzsche in her own efforts on this divide. Against Kant and in step with Aristotle, Rand writes: “‘Things as they are’ are things as perceived by your mind” (AS 1036). Rand spoke in that passage against Kant of “things as they are” and not of “things in themselves.” She was right to avoid the latter phrase because of the well-known shading of it. That latter phrase, down from Kant, intimates a severance of existence with its character from our grasp of it. In the same vein, rightly she would reject talk of the transcendental object or talk of noumena and its sundering distinction with phenomena, the latter a foul concept when transplanted from its use in Newton to fundamental ontology. Joseph Owens: “Aristotle’s procedure is to let things speak for themselves. They show themselves to be the same in some ways, to be different in others. Concepts and words simply follow and reflect as best they can the nature of things themselves” (1978 [1951], 138). Nietzsche in his mature thought would replace metaphysics with psychology (armchair) as “queen of the sciences” (BGE 23). Kant had used that phrase in noting the disrepute to which metaphysics had fallen by his time (1781). Kant was himself, in his mature, critical thought, not proposing yet another metaphysics. He was proposing a method and critical awareness of the bounds of cognition under which a future metaphysics might merit respectability. Nietzsche’s sayings against logic, truth, mathematics, and metaphysics are not focused on Kant. They are wide-armed against the entire Socratic-Platonic and Aristotelian traditions and against the no-stopping tidal wave of the modern hard sciences.
  16. . To speak of Nietzsche seriously, one needs to read Nietzsche. It is not that difficult these days with all the fine English translations in the Cambridge series. The worst possible place to begin reading Nietzsche is with Zarathustra. One can come to understand that work, but only if one reads and connects what he wrote before it (leaving aside Birth of Tragedy) and after it: Human, All Too Human; Daybreak; Gay Science I–IV; Zarathustra; Gay Science V; Beyond Good and Evil; and Genealogy of Morals. That's the package. A decent first-over would be to begin in GS I-IV, then read the remainder in order. Then if continuing with him, circle back to the first two, HH and D. The Cambridge series has Introductions for each text, written by a contemporary Nietzsche scholar, and these are helpful. The Introduction for Z was written by my Nietzsche professor. It was a great boost (and joy) to have studied under him. But the main thing is to read Nietzsche's texts, then give your citations when you represent his ideas. The latter is useful to audience seriously interested in his ideas, including to your own future self, when you have been away from the material for a while. Ayn Rand read Nietzsche for herself. She could read German, but for getting subtle philosophical ideas, one would need to have a great mastery of the language of the author. She read some Nietzsche in Russian before coming to America. It is my understanding that all Russian translations of Nietzsche at that time were atrocious. She began reading his works in English translations soon as she got to America, her English got better and better, and by the late ’30’s she had some favorite passages from BGE selected as epigraphs for her work THE FOUNTAINHEAD and each of its four parts. She argues against some Nietzschean ideas in that work, and by the time of ATLAS, with Aristotle firmly in hand, she’s ready to press Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Nietzsche with a steamroller. I invite readers here to study my series of papers Nietzsche v. Rand. Nicholas, I see your quotation is in #4 of Part 1 of BGE. From the same: “Without a constant falsification of the world through numbers, people could not live. . . . To acknowledge untruth as a condition of life: this clearly means resisting the usual value feelings in a dangerous manner; and a philosophy that risks such a thing would by that gesture alone place itself beyond good and evil.” No, not beyond evil. Beyond good and true. Intellectually and morally irresponsible. Not an intellectual bravery. A poetics. Enormously ignorant of the mathematics and physical science of his day. Resisting it. “The motive of the anti-measurement attitude is obvious: it is the desire to preserve a sanctuary of the indeterminate for the benefit of the irrational---the desire, epistemologically, to escape from the responsibility of cognitive precision and wide-scale integration; and, metaphysically, the desire to escape from the absolutism of existence, of facts, of reality and, above all, of identity.” Ayn Rand in ITOE, p. 39. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS - Delighted to see here just now that the number of reads on my 'Nietzsche v. Rand' series has now surpassed 19,000.
  17. . Pulsar and Companions Will Put GENERAL RELATIVITY to the Test - Clifford Will (1/6/14) Science News - 2/3/18 - “The complex orbital dance of the three former stars conforms to a rule known as the strong equivalence principle, researchers reported January 10. That agreement limits theories predicting Einstein’s general theory of relativity should fail at some level.” That is, this measurement puts a tighter constraint on theories unifying quantum field theory with general relativity by supposing the strong equivalence principle does not hold at sufficiently small scales. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Confrontation between GENERAL RELATIVITY and Experiment - Clifford Will (3/28/14)
  18. . This book is to issue in April, and it may well be of interest to some readers here: The Inheritance of Wealth - Justice, Equality, and the Right to Bequeath Daniel Halliday (OUP)
  19. . The installments (in the other thread “Peikoff’s Dissertation”) of my representation of and commentary on Peikoff’s dissertation that I have completed and posted are: Plato – 3/17/17 Aristotle I – 5/14/17 Aristotle II – 11/2/17 Due to a stretch of writing my book, in some Aristotle areas, I’ve only just now resumed studies required for my next installment on Peikoff’s dissertation. In this continuation, 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 the cited 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). Here is the Table of Contents for Peikoff’s dissertation. The three installments I mentioned of my series concerned the first 4 chapters of the dissertation. I’ll include here the detail Contents for the remaining, final chapter. The Status of the Law of Contradiction in Classical Logical Ontologism Table of Contents I. Platonism: The Law’s Epistemological Status II. Platonism: The Law’s Ontological Status III. Aristotelianism: The Law’s Epistemological Status IV. Aristotelianism: The Law’s Ontological Status V. The Demise of Logical Ontologism —Some central features of non-ontologism in logic, whether Kantian or conventionalist. —Kantianism as intermediate between ontologism and conventionalism; some difficulties it has faced in the attempt to sustain such a position. —Some problems for the theory of the Law of Contradiction suggested by the later Platonist view of essences as Divine thoughts. —How the attempt to resolve such problems pointed toward a Kantian account of the Law; some signs of this in Cudworth. —Some difficulties in the Aristotelian Form-Matter ontology; the effects of Locke’s rejection of it on his ability to defend logical ontologism. —Suggestions of conventionalism in Locke; the relation between these and his rejection of realism in the theory of universals. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I’d like to indicate here the book with which I resume my studies for treatment of the issues in the remainder of Peikoff’s dissertation. The summary information here about this book is an addition to all my report on Kant’s ideas on logic in earlier posts in the present thread “Peikoff’s Dissertation – Prep.” Kant and Aristotle – Epistemology, Logic, and Method Marco Sgarbi (2016) From the back cover: “Kant and Aristotle reassesses the prevailing understanding of Kant as an anti-Aristotelian philosopher. Taking epistemology, logic, and methodology to be the key disciplines through which Kant’s transcendental philosophy stood as an independent form of philosophy, Marco Sgarbi shows that Kant drew important elements of his logic and metaphysical doctrines from Aristotelian ideas that were absent in other philosophical traditions, such as the distinction of matter and form of knowledge, the division of transcendental logic into analytic and dialectic, the theory of categories and schema, and the methodological issues of the architectonic. Drawing from unpublished documents including lectures, catalogues, academic programs, and the Aristotelian-Scholastic handbooks that were officially adopted at Königsberg University where Kant taught, Sgarbi further demonstrates the historical and philosophical importance of Aristotle and Aristotelianism to these disciplines from the late sixteenth century to the first half of the eighteenth century.” The chapters of this book are 1. FACULTATIVE LOGIC / 2. TRANSCENDENTAL LOGIC / 3. METHODOLOGY Here are excerpts from the author’s prospectus for 1 and 2: Chapter 1 – “I contextualize Kant’s facultative logic within the Aristotelian tradition. Kant denies that facultative logic can be based on the philosophical attempts of John Locke and Nicolas Malebranche, who were more concerned with psychology or metaphysics. . . . I examine facultative logic in Aristotle and the Aristotelian tradition with particular reference to Zabarella and the rise of gnostology [science concerning the mental habit that has to do with the cognizable as cognizable, i.e, the mode of knowing the object in general] and noology [study of the mind’s operation of forming subject-predicate propositions and study of the principles and axioms issuing from such propositions]. . . . I show that Kant can be considered as a part of this philosophical Aristotelian tradition from the time of his early writings up to the Critique of Pure Reason. . . . I examine Kant’s relation to the so-called discipline of physiology, characterizing his Kantian categories as a habit of the mind characteristic of the Aristotelian tradition. . . . Characterize the origin of Kant’s notion of pure concepts of understanding as acquired concepts. I compare Kant’s ideas with those of Locke and Leibniz on the polemic against innatism . . . .” Chapter 2 – “Deals with two fundamental concepts of Kantian epistemology, namely the matter and form of knowledge, and outlines their Aristotelian origin. . . . Philosophical significance of this conception in Kant’s precritical philosophy and in the transcendental aesthetic and logic of his later years. . . . Kant’s appropriation of the Aristotelian syllogism and doctrine of categories. . . . I suggest that Kant’s reawakening from a dogmatic slumber is connected with his rediscovery of Aristotelian categories. Once having established the nature of the categories, I argue that Kant’s conception of categories and schema comes from the nominalistic interpretation of categories elaborated by Königsberg Aristotelianism, and in particular by Rabe [Paul Rabe, c.1700]. . . . I emphasize the epistemological value of analytic and dialectic for Aristotle. Then I suggest the hypothesis that, in the slipstream of the Königsberg Aristotelian tradition, the analytic of concepts corresponds to gnostology, while the analytic of principles corresponds to noology. More specifically, I demonstrate Rabe’s influence on Kant’s conception of analytic and dialectic in conceiving the former as the logic of concepts and principles and the latter as the logic of probability, or logic of illusion.” . . “In the conclusion, I show how the failure of the precritical logical and metaphysical projects prompted Kant to develop the Critique of Pure Reason. I then summarize briefly the result of my research, thereby providing justification for my thesis that Kant’s work must be included within the Aristotelian tradition.” –M. Sgarbi
  20. . 23 February 2018, 7-10pm, APA Central, Palmer House, Chicago American Association for the Philosophic Study of Society Topic: Arguments For and Against Liberalism Chair: Shawn Klein (Arizona State University) Speaker: Stephen Hicks (Rockford University) Commentators: Jonathan Anomaly (University of Arizona) / Asborn Melkevik (Harvard University) / Kevin Vallier (Bowling Green State University) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Of related interest at the same APA Meeting: The Promise of Lockean Tacit Consent Theory Jeff Carroll (University of Virginia) ABSTRACT - John Locke is strongly committed to both voluntarism and a consent theory of political obligation. John Simmons has defended both Locke’s voluntarism and Locke’s consent theory of political obligation as being true. Obviously, there have been very few express consenters. This means that Locke’s concept of tacit consent has to do most of the heavy lifting in generating political obligation. Simmons argues that it is not sufficiently strong. The implication is philosophical anarchism. I believe that tacit consent has spent more time in the gym than Simmons. Though mere residence does not qualify as tacitly consenting, a not too distant scenario in which individuals are presented the choice to “emigrate or stay and consent” and they opt to stay, I believe, would. By responding to Simmons’s critique of “emigrate or stay and consent” choice situations, I provide a Lockean path out of philosophical anarchism. A Conventionalist Account of “Natural” Rights Tristan Rogers (University of Arizona) ABSTRACT - Hume observes in the Treatise that the “rules, by which properties, rights, and obligations are determin’d, have in them no marks of a natural origin, but many of artifice and contrivance” (p. 528). Consequently, when we talk of property as a natural right, it is difficult to do so without noticing things like easements, liabilities, zoning, licensing, etc. Call that the conventionalist challenge. Eric Mack, in a series of papers, attempts to mitigate the force of the conventionalist challenge in defending what he calls a natural right of property (Mack, “The Natural Right of Property,” 2010). This paper argues that Mack’s natural rights view does not successfully meet the conventionalist challenge, and further, that a suitably modified Humean conventionalist account can explain the conviction that we have rights without appealing to natural rights.
  21. . MiSw, one’s life required that one have parents and adults who nurtured one. It required that others became parents and nurtured in order for one now to have potential producers with whom to trade or to be friends or lovers. That an enormous population will be sustained without one’s participation in reproduction and raising children is a highly secure proposition. Some have thought, however, that just as we have a psychological need and rewards for making things, arising from our human way of survival, we have also a psychological need and rewards for participating in generating and nurturing children, arising also from our biological nature. By the time I finished high school, I knew that I did not want to have children. (I did not yet know I was gay or anyway that I had that potential.) I wanted to devote myself to my brain-children. And of course plenty of others were taking care of making and nurturing babies. However, I do have a concern and hope for the continuation of human kind beyond me and all my loved ones. Perhaps that is an outgrowth of biological constitution. It is a personal, individual concern, although clearly others share it, forming altogether a collective aim. Although, different people assess differently what are the threats to human continuation out beyond say the grandchildren-generation. So you find me stressing we do all we can against nuclear-weapons proliferation, but others would stress our actions for those future generations against other perceived threats. I did end up with a family after all, as in 1996 I met my present husband and became part of his family. He had two sons and soon a grandson. It has been a marvelous thing about our life together. A view contrasting yours and Rand’s concerning the nature of life and human life, with implications for right morality (from an old paper of mine): ~~~~ For Guyau the deepest laws of life are that it is nutritive and self-preservative and that it is fecundity (S 70, 75, 79, 209–10). Beyond nutrition and appropriation necessary for self-maintenance, there may accumulate superabundance capable of the expansion of life that is reproduction. This is a good for humans, as it is for all other life forms. Generation is an elevated intensity of life. Without sexual reproduction, the good that is man, with family and society, would not exist (82–83). “Individual life is expansive for others because it is fruitful, and it is fruitful by the very reason that it is life” (209–10). [S – A Sketch of Morality without Obligation or Sanction – Jean Guyau 1885] ~~~~ Guyau 1 Guyau 2 (Scroll down past References to the Appendix)
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