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RichardParker

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  1. Since your post directly followed mine, I presumed you were referring to my post. I apologize if this was not the case. Just to clear the air, however, I do not think that first-level generalizations nor first level concepts are formed without conceptual processing. When a child first perceives a particular table, it can only identify it ostensively as an entity, as a particular thing, no more. Only after it has perceived at least two instances of tables, has noted their similarities and their differences from other non-table entities, does the child ostensively have the concept 'table.' When it can finally point to a particular table and say table does it have the concept in the full sense.
  2. I now have "The Logical Leap (TLL)" and have begun reading it, and so wanted to address this issue re: perception's role in induction. Plasmatic is creating a straw man argument here. I didn't say that there were any concepts that were perceptual "only." In fact, my post only addressed concept formation in the sense that a child directly perceives a *particular* table. What I implied was that the child first grasps first-level generalizations such as 'pushing this particular ball requires force to make it role' through direct perception. To quote directly from TLL, page 19 (asterix mine): "A 'first-level generalization' is one derived *directly* from perceptual observation, without the need of any antecedent generalizations."
  3. Hi Thomas, it has been a while indeed! I'll have to read the book before posting further on this subject. I know concept formation and induction are similar, but they are not the same thing, which was the general point of my post. After reading the book, I may start a seperate thread on this issue re: induction vs. concept formation and the role direct perception plays in each. Also, I know the importance of causation with respect to induction, but the key point is not just any causation, but formal (essential) causation.
  4. I haven't read Harriman's book yet, but are you suggesting that all concepts are formed by induction, or that causation is a special case of a concept that has to be formed by induction? I don't think concept formation and induction are the same thing. Causation is perceived directly, in the same manner as the child perceives a particular table. The child perceives the force required to push the ball directly. Causation, like all first level concepts, is directly available through perception. Saying all S is P (induction) is a different thing than first forming the concept S, and the concept P (concept formation).
  5. This should be better clarified: Arbitrary--a claim for which there is *no* perceptual evidence. Possible--a claim for which there is at least *some* perceptual evidence. Probable--a claim which *most* of the perceptual evidence supports. Certain--a claim which *all* the contextually available perceptual evidence supports. Insofar as Pascal's wager is concerned, its major root fallacy is that it requires the equivocation between the arbitrary and possible. If its intended victim doesn't pretend that the *arbitrary* is the equivalent of the *possible*, then the entire argument collapses--*if* god exists, then consider this statistical nonsense and the threat of eternal damnation in hell (another arbitrary claim). Pascal's wager first requires the misidentification and misintegration of the arbitrary and the possible before one can even consider the so-called wager. This misidentification and misintegration is *prior to* the actual wager. In other words, one first must accept the implicit assumption that an arbitrary claim (god's existence) is in the realm of the possible. Without this implicit assumption, Pascal's wager is pure rationalistic nonsense, on par with Descartes' evil demon.
  6. While I think this is certainly true, it is far too kind--it doesn't take into account the harmful epistemological effects that are involved in believing in an omnipotent and omniscient being for which there is no perceptual evidence. It means sacrificing the one and only means you have of knowing reality (your perception and valid means of conceptualization) for the sake of an arbitrary claim. It means sacrificing your rationality and your means of validating existence for the sake of what? Social convention? Political gain? Acceptance by those who have chosen to sacrifice their rationality for the sake of their so-called faith? Pascal's wager amounts to little more than the threat of eternal damnation (for which there is no objective evidence) with the explicit claim that you have little or nothing to lose by the loss of your rationality. This is no wager, but a proposition for damnation, not in the fantasy of a claimed afterlife, but damnation and suffering in this and only real life.
  7. The problem with this entire view is that it makes the explicit assumption that physics qua physics somehow contradicts the existence of a volitional consciousness. Physics per se is silent on the issue of consciousness. This, in fact, is a clear example of the fallacy of composition--the sum cannot be anything more than its constituent parts. By this line of reasoning, the perceived properties of water would have to be denied and abandoned since the individual gases hydrogen and oxygen (in isolation) clearly do not demonstrate any of the causal properties of liquid water. Even if, as you say, "mental processes have a one-to-one correspondence with events in the brain", this says absolutely nothing about what the effect(s) of any such correspondence might be. While, in the absence of any means of direct perceptual observation, we would be forced to try to predict what such effects might be, in the case of volition we clearly have direct perceptual evidence. But this materialistic reductionist view attempts to do the precise opposite--it tries to convince us to abandon perception, when it is easily available, for the sake of a rationalistic deduction detached from perceptual reality. This is Descartes at his worst, and even he would never have gone so far as to deny volition, which, is certainly a "clear and distinct perception."
  8. The claim that what I perceive is not actually what I perceive is as old as Plato and reaches its pinnacle with Kant—it has no basis in reality and is simply arbitrary. If there is no free will then there is no such thing as science, logic or any other form of knowledge--the determinist was simply determined to think that his choice to believe determinism is true and I was simply determined to believe that what I perceive is actually what I perceive. Perception is not dubious, it is an irreducible primary. Indeed, it is the fact that I can perceive that I could have done otherwise that makes my volition an axiomatic primary, together with the rest of existence which, well, I know exists because of perception. The fact that volition is perceived is an ostensive validation for the existence of free will, no less than the fact that I perceive this keyboard I'm typing on is an ostensive validation of its existence.
  9. Thanks to KendallJ for the quotes from OPAR. The evidence for man's volitional consciousness is perceptual. To deny my volitional nature is to deny the *introspective* evidence available to me--I can perceive that I could have done otherwise. Whenever I chose A over B I know introspectively that I could have done otherwise and chosen B over A. As Dr. Peikoff points out in OPAR the type of causation that occurs when one billiard ball strikes another is one form of causation, but this does not exhaust the field. The law of causation stipulates that an entity will act according to its nature. In other words, given a specific nature, an entity can act only in a specific way under the same circumstances. Volitional choice is a type of action that a specific type of entity (man's consciousness) can and must take given a certain set of circumstances. Causation here only stipulates that man's volitional consciousness must act to choose (given a certain set of circumstances), not what that particular choice must be. The action here is *the act of choosing*, not the choice of A over B. My nature is such that I can chose either A or B, but I *must* choose (even the act of not making a choice is in effect a choice--the choice not to act). The source of this action is the agent itself--a volitional consciousness is neither indetermined nor determined, but self-determined.
  10. I think this pretty much sums up my view as well. When one makes a claim to have discovered a significant flaw in a philosopher's ideas, it is inadequate to simply dismiss her formulations by implicitly re-stating the ideas of her philosophical predecessors (Plato and Kant) when her epistemology indeed corrects the errors of those predecessors. Furthermore, one has to demonstrate a more than superficial grasp of the ideas one claims to be refuting, and a more than superficial grasp of the errors of her philosophical predecessors. This is particularly true when one is grappling with a subject such as Universals, a subject which has been at the core of Western philosophy's 2500 year history. The originator of this thread, unfortunately, has demonstrated neither.
  11. This entire argument rests on the fallacy of distribution, an equivocation on the term ‘human life’, and on a completely fallacious definition of the concept ‘mind’. In 1) the term ‘human life’ is first used to mean all human beings, and its meaning is then switched to mean ‘separate cells of the body.’ An organism (in this case man) is not the same thing as the cells that compose it. This is the fallacy of distribution—equivocating between a thing and whatever composes a thing, distributively. In 2) the fallacy of distribution is also apparent, along with an erroneous implicit definition of the term ‘mind.’ In fact, the statement “a lone neuron can be considered a mind” is not only false, but is an explicit acknowledgment of the fallacy of distribution. A thing (in this case a mind) is not the same thing as its constituent parts. The fact is that a single neuron is not a mind by any meaningful definition of the term ‘mind’. Can a single neuron think, create civilizations, build cars, make choices? The same objection is applicable to the notion that “a severed brain segment can be considered a mind”. In 2) the argument rests on not only the fallacy of distribution as in 1), but also on an absurd definition of the very concept of consciousness. The fallacy of distribution can be made apparent by various analogies: a “civilization” is not the same thing as a “house”, although there are many houses within a “civilization.” An “engine” is not the same thing as a “bolt”, although there are many bolts in an engine. This “computer” on which I’m typing is not the same thing as an “electron,” although there are many, many electrons that go into constituting this computer.
  12. I thought of several new names and all seem to be available '.com' domains: www.objectivistphilosophy.com www.objectivstphilosophyforum.com www.philosophyofobjectivism.com www.theobjectivstphilosophyforum.com
  13. Yes. In order to reach the conceptual level at which you can *explicitly* grasp the axiomatic concept 'existence', and that existence refers to all things that exist, you have to have already grasped many, many lower level concepts. But the very process of conceptualization *implicitly* presupposes that something exists. The important thing to keep in mind is that there is a distinction between the *explicit* grasp of a concept and presupposing it *implicitly* during conceptualization. You were already abstracting, differentiating and integrating long before you could explicitly identify the process of conceptualization. Similarly, you were already presupposing existence long before you could explicitly grasp that existence exists.
  14. How concepts are grasped and how they are defined are two very different things. Also, axiomatic concepts are unique in that they have certain characteristics that distinguish them from all other concepts. Existence is the broadest concept epistemologically because it subsumes all entities that exist. At the same time, however, existence is an axiomatic concept because of certain essential characteristics, one being that it can only be defined ostensively. Qua concept, existence is hierarchical, and, in fact it’s the highest (or broadest) concept on a very long conceptual chain. Concepts are *grasped* along a conceptual hierarchy through a process of abstraction, differentiation and integration. Higher level concepts are abstracted and formed by integrating essential characteristics which differentiate lower concepts along the conceptual hierarchy. The child learns that this particular furry and playful thing is a puppy. By gradually abstracting essential characteristics and differentiating these from those of other existents, the child learns that this puppy is a dog, this dog a mammal, this mammal a vertebrate, this vertebrate an animal, this animal a living organism, this living organism an existent. But while the concept “existence” is *explicitly* grasped only after a long process of abstracting, differentiating and integrating many, many lower level concepts, it must be and is *implicitly* assumed during this entire process. The infant, when it first begins to form its earliest perceptions from sensory data grasps that *something* exists, but only much, much later does the same individual grasp the idea of being qua being, that the word “existence” has as its referent *everything* that exists. The implicit *foundation* for all knowledge is that something exists, in other words, that existence exists. The process of forming formal definitions, however, is something altogether different. A definition is formed only after one has already formed the concept—the child can point to Lassie and say “dog” long before it can give you a formal definition for the term “dog.” Axiomatic concepts can only be defined ostensively because they always have to be presupposed in forming any definition—you cannot define any existent (dog, tree, house, man, etc.) without presupposing that something exists. So when referring to concepts, axiomatic concepts, foundation, hierarchy and definitions it is important to specify the context while keeping in mind that, while certainly related, these are all different things.
  15. You've hit the nail on the head. There is nothing immoral about emergency medical care per se (on the contrary, it is a bona fide medical speciality that meets a definite demand in medicine), but, as in so many other areas in our mixed economy, the immorality lies with government intrusion.
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