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CJM

A few problems I have with Objectivism

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Dante, I will just tackle the Causality part of that since the perception issues addressed are not mine and the ethics part has been done to death.

If people exercising choice is an example of causality, it is either caused by previous events, in which case it cannot be said to be truly free, or it is an unmoved mover, a causa sui and quite frankly an incredibly illogical concept.

That was my point. I'm not the one claiming that we cannot know an objective reality... you are.

Thats nuts. Someone cannot be right by degrees, people must be either right or wrong, and people can and are 100% right a lot of the time? Wow.

No, I'm quite familiar with both. I'm just applying the logical ends of your arguments to your arguments.

Oh, so if someone does not have free will, they must continue to believe what they do today? That is what you said. I am taking it you believe this to be a logical end? lol.

You argument consists of concept stealing. In arguing that an objective reality cannot be known, you are in fact asserting the identification of an objective reality that you have concluded.

My assertion of this objective reality is subjective.

Just to sort it out for you, it has EVERYTHING to do with being able to think for ourselves.

Non-sensical. Lack of free will does not entail that someone/something else does out thinking for us. The idea it does is completely ignorant of the whole debate.

Why on earth would it?

Edited by CJM

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If what our senses tell us about reality IS objective reality, then our senses must work perfectly. We must be physiologically incapable of error in sense perception. Logically this seems ridiculous.

I don't "know". It seems a logical supposition that peoples senses do not work with perfection, that what we percieve is subjective. My sensory organs do not work exactly the same as another persons. Imperfect in relation to objective knowledge.

...

They don't have to lie, they merely have to work imperfectly. Our sensory organs aren't magical, they are just organs, parts of our physical being. Why should they work perfectly?

I must assume that the idea of our sensory perceptions working perfectly seems ridiculous to you indicates that at some level, you associate perception with a volitional process. However, there is no element of choice in immediate perception. Let me elaborate.

Objectivism holds that the integration of single stimuli into perceptions happens automatically. Billions of photons hit my eye, and this causes a reaction and a flood of information. The initial stages of the transmission of this information is non-volitional; our will has no involvement in it, we cannot choose anything about it, and therefore it cannot err. Our nervous system automatically takes the matrix of photons that we take in and integrates it into information about a three-dimensional object, in much the same way that a computer runs a program. At this stage there is no choice. Everything is causally determined. Saying that there must inevitably be "error" in this process is like saying that there must inevitably be error during instances of a falling object. After all, it seems ridiculous that an object will fall to the ground every time I release it, right? Even if we can reliably depend on this to happen most of the time, holding that it happens inexorably, every time is ridiculous, right?

The Objectivist would reply, "No." A falling object is acting in accordance with its nature; anything with mass that is this close in proximity to the earth will experience the tug of gravity. Every time. The concept of error simply does not apply. The same applies for the workings of our body over which we have no control. It's all just causal connections, just physics. Choice only enters in on the conceptual level; when we start to try to consciously integrate our perceptions. Thus, perceptual judgments are fallible, as are concepts. Perception, however, is not fallible. I can choose to look to my left and focus on my door, but I cannot choose what I see when I do that.

You make the point that "My sensory organs do not work exactly the same as another persons." This is true. Each person's physical composition is different. People have different ranges of what wavelengths of light are visible to them. Some people cannot perceive light at all. The same is true with all of the senses. This does not invalidate sense perception, however. The fact that machines (take sewing machines, for example) which are constructed slightly differently will act slightly differently and produce things of slightly different composition and quality does not mean that they are not all, always subject to the law of causality. One machine might stitch faster, or make longer stitches, or stitches that are crooked, but there is never any possibility of error from what goes into the machine to what comes out. What comes out, had to come out that way, because reality is always consistent. Similarly, each of our perceptual systems operates slightly differently, but they are all still bound by causality, and since there is no volition involved, there is only one outcome that is possible: the one produced inexorably by the identities of the objects involved.

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If people exercising choice is an example of causality, it is either caused by previous events, in which case it cannot be said to be truly free, or it is an unmoved mover, a causa sui and quite frankly an incredibly illogical concept.

Certainly I would acknowledge that a volitional being's actions are caused by previous events. What I would not concede is that they are necessitated by these events. My ability to choose differently than I do is directly observable to me.

Edited by Dante

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CJM,

Just so you know, you whole argument is wrong because your senses and ability to perceive reality are not perfect and your argument relies on both to be right. Sadly, you are also doomed to continue to believe your subjective reality because you have no ability to think for yourself (free will) either.

There's nothing anyone here can do for that.

Is no one else catching on to the HUGE concept stealing going on?

Hey! I used that several times!! I like your argument. I also saw him unable to break out of his subjective hell, being mute, deft, and sitting on a little chair somewhere. He doesn't seem willing to actually listen to what we are saying. I wonder why.....

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As I said at the beginning of this thread, CLM was asking a whole lot and needed to state his status re readings (and understand) of Objectivism. I never saw him do that.

I am also beginning to believe that "few" was the wrong word in the title of the thread.

I trust he is trying to understand rather than playing with everyone, and I would give him a lot of credit for that.

But it sure sounds like discussion is far too circular to get anywhere at this stage.

I could be wrong....

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I must assume that the idea of our sensory perceptions working perfectly seems ridiculous to you indicates that at some level, you associate perception with a volitional process. However, there is no element of choice in immediate perception. Let me elaborate.

Objectivism holds that the integration of single stimuli into perceptions happens automatically. Billions of photons hit my eye, and this causes a reaction and a flood of information. The initial stages of the transmission of this information is non-volitional; our will has no involvement in it, we cannot choose anything about it, and therefore it cannot err. Our nervous system automatically takes the matrix of photons that we take in and integrates it into information about a three-dimensional object, in much the same way that a computer runs a program. At this stage there is no choice. Everything is causally determined. Saying that there must inevitably be "error" in this process is like saying that there must inevitably be error during instances of a falling object. After all, it seems ridiculous that an object will fall to the ground every time I release it, right? Even if we can reliably depend on this to happen most of the time, holding that it happens inexorably, every time is ridiculous, right?

The Objectivist would reply, "No." A falling object is acting in accordance with its nature; anything with mass that is this close in proximity to the earth will experience the tug of gravity. Every time. The concept of error simply does not apply. The same applies for the workings of our body over which we have no control. It's all just causal connections, just physics. Choice only enters in on the conceptual level; when we start to try to consciously integrate our perceptions. Thus, perceptual judgments are fallible, as are concepts. Perception, however, is not fallible. I can choose to look to my left and focus on my door, but I cannot choose what I see when I do that.

You make the point that "My sensory organs do not work exactly the same as another persons." This is true. Each person's physical composition is different. People have different ranges of what wavelengths of light are visible to them. Some people cannot perceive light at all. The same is true with all of the senses. This does not invalidate sense perception, however. The fact that machines (take sewing machines, for example) which are constructed slightly differently will act slightly differently and produce things of slightly different composition and quality does not mean that they are not all, always subject to the law of causality. One machine might stitch faster, or make longer stitches, or stitches that are crooked, but there is never any possibility of error from what goes into the machine to what comes out. What comes out, had to come out that way, because reality is always consistent. Similarly, each of our perceptual systems operates slightly differently, but they are all still bound by causality, and since there is no volition involved, there is only one outcome that is possible: the one produced inexorably by the identities of the objects involved.

No, not because they are volitional, but because they are physical. Our senses are physical, they are subjective. They can gather no objective information of reality due to this.

Now to use your sewing machine analogy, my analogy would be that we are assigned, not volitionally, physically, to reconstruct a sewing machine based on one that exists in objective reality. To the must absolute detail. Are we physically capable of doing this, excluding problems of choice etc.?

Our physical systems are imperfect. Our senses, our physical actions, all of them.

Do you really feel you have the ability to choose differently? If the moment when you wrote that reply was repeated over and over with no physical variables changing, could you have chosen not to?

I'm surprised you say that TLD, I feel I have a good grasp of her ideas. Good enough that I could use Rands words against someone.

To answer your question, I have read many of her essays from collections like The Virtue of Selfishness, Philosophy: who needs it and some Peikoff.

Disagreeing is not the same as not understanding.

To the other members, are RationalBiker and BobG what are commonly referred to as Rand-Roids? It sure seems like it.

Try actually addressing some arguments guys.

Edited by CJM

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No, not because they are volitional, but because they are physical. Our senses are physical, they are subjective. They can gather no objective information of reality due to this.

Can you quickly define what exactly you mean by subjective, in this case? Under my understanding of the term, there is nothing subjective about the result that occurs when two physical objects interact. The event simply happens, and what results, results. The fact that, with the events we're talking about now (perception), these events produce information in our brain does not make perception an exception to the general rule, any more than computer programs which produce informational results are thus exempted from causality. It is the direct causal connections involved in the process of perception which makes the results reliable. The light currently hitting my eyes could not, in principle, produce any perception other than the one it is currently producing.

Now to use your sewing machine analogy, my analogy would be that we are assigned, not volitionally, physically, to reconstruct a sewing machine based on one that exists in objective reality. To the must absolute detail. Are we physically capable of doing this, excluding problems of choice etc.?

Uh... I'm assuming that you don't mean physically reconstruct, but rather in our minds? The whole point of this conversation is that when we look at a sewing machine, the perception which results isn't one that we had to reconstruct; it happened automatically. Now, this is not to say that we observe even the "most absolute details" of the sewing machine. No one here is claiming that we have x-ray vision sufficient to perceive the inner workings of the machine just by looking at it, or that we can perceive each of the atoms exactly. This is not what we mean by perfect. When we say perfect, we do not mean that all information which could ever possibly be gleaned is immediately apparent. If this were true, we would not need microscopes, telescopes, or hearing aids. Rather, when we say perfect, we mean that none of the information that we actually do get is false. Perception cannot deceive any more than a scientific experiment can lie. There can of course be some unseen factor operating in a scientific experiment, which if we do not know, we can draw bad conclusions about. However, the outcome of the experiment itself cannot defy reality. There is no room for deviation in the automatic workings of our central nervous system. We can draw false conclusions and inferences from the information we get, but everything that perception gives us is connected to the object itself by inerrant laws.

Our physical systems are imperfect. Our senses, our physical actions, all of them.

Again, I think we are operating under different definitions of imperfect. The information I get from perceiving a tree from 50 feet away is certainly not exhaustive; I could get much more information from perceiving it closer up, from different angles, perhaps by including different senses such as touch, sound, and taste. In this sense, it does not give us a perfect idea of everything that a tree is or possibly could be. However, to the extent that it does give us information, this information must be true. It is in this sense that it is perfect; how could mechanistic operations be otherwise, in this sense?

Do you really feel you have the ability to choose differently? If the moment when you wrote that reply was repeated over and over with no physical variables changing, could you have chosen not to?

I'm not convinced that this is a valid question to ask concerning the existence of free will. Moments in reality, after all, never do repeat themselves. How can our concept of free will thus be based on an impossible occurrence?

Edited by Dante

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My assertion of this objective reality is subjective.

Non-sensical.

These two sentences go together quite well. You are now essentially saying that you do not have an objectively supported argument. That makes it REAL difficult to argue anything with you.

Lack of free will does not entail that someone/something else does out thinking for us.

Nice way to take that completely out of context. The difference I'm referring to is the ability to think for ourselves FREELY versus our ability to think and choose being determined by previous events or event states (more specifically, our ability to think or choose being determined by the sum of all the events or event states which occurred prior to our present thought or choice).

To the other members, are RationalBiker and BobG what are commonly referred to as Rand-Roids? It sure seems like it.

No, but it is nice that you now reaching for the name-calling. Please stop that now.

Try actually addressing some arguments guys.

I did that already. I think you are just having difficulty seeing the contradiction between your claims and how they impact the validity of your argument. That's not my fault, it's yours.

Edited by RationalBiker

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I'm sorry, but would you like to re-tract that before I go quoting mad and show you that is wrong? My position has been misstated numerous times in this very thread.

If there is only one alternative, there are still alternatives in relation to each other. Two differetnt choices. Tell me where I was wrong again?

Of course not. If no alternatives are truly available to you but you don't know it, and you come to a conlcusion, you have still come to a conclusion.

Thinking and coming to conclusions are in no way contradictory to a lcak of existence of free will.

Your arguments are weak. You say I must have free will because I come to conclusions and think, that is ridiculous. One can think of the of consequences of impossible actions.

You say sense perceptions can give us objective knowledge, despite the fact they can never give us absolute knowledge about even the simplest thing. This is ridiculous.

In every point in your reply you demonstrate that you actually did not read the point, let alone attempt to understand it. I am not talking about minor stuff, but a complete non-connections.

Examples:

When I say the only free choice in Ayn Rand's philosophy, you say

If there is only one alternative, there are still alternatives in relation to each other.
which doesn't make any sense at all. You also say
Your arguments are weak. You say I must have free will because I come to conclusions and think, that is ridiculous.
meaning that you actually do not know Ayn Rand's position at all, and are swinging wildly.

When I say that you created a straw man of us, you say

I'm sorry, but would you like to re-tract that before I go quoting mad and show you that is wrong? My position has been misstated numerous times in this very thread.
which is quite a different thing. In restating a person's position in our own words helps clarify. It is asking for clarification.

When we say that the senses operate sufficiently to give us knowledge upon which we can build, you say

You say sense perceptions can give us objective knowledge, despite the fact they can never give us absolute knowledge about even the simplest thing. This is ridiculous.
even though none of those points are ones we have made. You use "objective knowledge" out of context, in a way never used by AR or us. "Absolute knowledge" is Mr. Kant, and not anything Ayn Rand or any of us have said.

And finally (in my list) you say

Thinking and coming to conclusions are in no way contradictory to a lcak of existence of free will.
They are in the philosophy we are discussing. They are in reality. In this statement you demonstrate a lack of knowledge of Ayn Rand's philosophy, and you have ignored our attempt to point that out to you. If you think, somehow, that this is wrong, fine. Most other agree with you. We don't care.

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No, not because they are volitional, but because they are physical. Our senses are physical, they are subjective. They can gather no objective information of reality due to this.

Huh? How does senses being "physical" lead you to conclude they are subjective? The only way it *could* be argued that the senses are subjective is if there is choice involved in the actual process of your eyes "seeing". You cannot choose not to feel, not to see, not to hear. If you close your eyes, there are just no more light waves passing into your eyeball. If you cover your ears, there are just no more sound waves entering your ear. I think Dante's post is really good. If you have a confusion/disagreement, address a specific point in his post.

Edited by Eiuol

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Can you quickly define what exactly you mean by subjective, in this case? Under my understanding of the term, there is nothing subjective about the result that occurs when two physical objects interact. The event simply happens, and what results, results. The fact that, with the events we're talking about now (perception), these events produce information in our brain does not make perception an exception to the general rule, any more than computer programs which produce informational results are thus exempted from causality. It is the direct causal connections involved in the process of perception which makes the results reliable. The light currently hitting my eyes could not, in principle, produce any perception other than the one it is currently producing.

Paticular to a given person. Sorry, should make it clear when I use a word with different definitions like that.

Uh... I'm assuming that you don't mean physically reconstruct, but rather in our minds?

Either/or in the context of this conversation.

The whole point of this conversation is that when we look at a sewing machine, the perception which results isn't one that we had to reconstruct; it happened automatically.

No, the whole point is not whether it is volitional or not, but whether it is accurate. Whtether it is true representative information of objective reality.

Now, this is not to say that we observe even the "most absolute details" of the sewing machine. No one here is claiming that we have x-ray vision sufficient to perceive the inner workings of the machine just by looking at it, or that we can perceive each of the atoms exactly. This is not what we mean by perfect. When we say perfect, we do not mean that all information which could ever possibly be gleaned is immediately apparent. If this were true, we would not need microscopes, telescopes, or hearing aids. Rather, when we say perfect, we mean that none of the information that we actually do get is false.

This is what I have a problem with. How is it true information when we are not perceiving it, or even anything about it totally?

Perception cannot deceive any more than a scientific experiment can lie. There can of course be some unseen factor operating in a scientific experiment, which if we do not know, we can draw bad conclusions about. However, the outcome of the experiment itself cannot defy reality. There is no room for deviation in the automatic workings of our central nervous system. We can draw false conclusions and inferences from the information we get, but everything that perception gives us is connected to the object itself by inerrant laws.

Connected, but that does not necessarily imply truth.

Again, I think we are operating under different definitions of imperfect. The information I get from perceiving a tree from 50 feet away is certainly not exhaustive; I could get much more information from perceiving it closer up, from different angles, perhaps by including different senses such as touch, sound, and taste. In this sense, it does not give us a perfect idea of everything that a tree is or possibly could be. However, to the extent that it does give us information, this information must be true. It is in this sense that it is perfect; how could mechanistic operations be otherwise, in this sense?

Our perceptions are what they are, they cannot deviate. The events that allow us to perceive what we do are the same. I don't see how you get from this that what we perceive is true.

I'm not convinced that this is a valid question to ask concerning the existence of free will. Moments in reality, after all, never do repeat themselves. How can our concept of free will thus be based on an impossible occurrence?

Because this impossible situation is what free will entails. Thats the entire idea of it. Its what free will is.

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I didn't see this comment before, but I think it sheds some light on our conflicting definitions, and what we actually mean when we defend perception versus what you seem to think we're defending.

You say sense perceptions can give us objective knowledge, despite the fact they can never give us absolute knowledge about even the simplest thing.

No one here claims that perception of an object gives absolute knowledge of that object, in the sense of all the knowledge it's possible to know about the object. Rather, our claim that sense perception is inerrant simply means that it results directly from inerrant processes. It is not exhaustive, but it is valid.

For instance, you might say that I cannot tell from sense perception that my watch is composed of incredibly tiny atoms and mostly empty space. This is true. However, it's also helpful to think about this: how do we know that it is composed of atoms? Well, we know from experiments like the gold-foil experiment, which illustrated that gold foil is made up of small clusters of positively-charged particles inside mostly empty space (it was not able to detect electrons). However, how did we know the results of that experiment? How did we get that information? We used sense perception on the results. We looked at the impact of alpha particles that we sent through the gold. Ultimately, it all comes back to sense perception. Only sense perception, sometimes augmented by human inventions, leads to knowledge, and it leads to contextually true knowledge because of its direct connection to reality.

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A malfunctioning sensory apparatus is the result of the physical causation of a change of the organ away from normal operation. To say they malfunction is to affirm the objectivity of the senses, and the efficacy of consciousness to recognize this change.

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When I say the only free choice in Ayn Rand's philosophy, you say which doesn't make any sense at all. You also saymeaning that you actually do not know Ayn Rand's position at all, and are swinging wildly.

You said no such thing. You said.

There is only one alternative, since we are discussing AR's philosophy. The only alternative involved in free will is to think or not. We supposed that you were talking about Ayn Rand. If not, then we can stop this discussion.

Of course, this is not an alternative, but a choice. I choose to ignore that.

There cannot be a single alternative with no alternative to it. This is fucking grade school bullshit. If I can have an apple, this is not an alternative. If I can have an apple or a pear, this is not an alternative. It is a choice. In relation to the pear, the apple is the alternative. In relation to the apple, the pear is the alternative. In raltion to thinking or not thinking, both are alternative to each other.

Two relative alternatives. Jesus, do I need to explain every simple sentence like this to you? I'll amke a note of it.

I wasn't swinging wildily, these were your arguments, not Ayn Rands. They say nothing about my knowledge of Ayn Rands position.

When I say that you created a straw man of us, you say

which is quite a different thing. In restating a person's position in our own words helps clarify. It is asking for clarification.

I did not say that. I said "It's hyperbole". I said what you qouted in answer to your claim that you did not do what you called me out on. Try to comprehend a bit better.

When we say that the senses operate sufficiently to give us knowledge upon which we can build, you sayeven though none of those points are ones we have made. You use "objective knowledge" out of context, in a way never used by AR or us. "Absolute knowledge" is Mr. Kant, and not anything Ayn Rand or any of us have said.

I am not using words out of context. Absolute has a meaning outside of Kant. Did you not know this? So did objective before Rand. I can't help it if you can;t distinguish they way the words are being used based on their contexts. You can ask me, and I will tell you, other than that I can't do shit.

And finally (in my list) you sayThey are in the philosophy we are discussing. They are in reality. In this statement you demonstrate a lack of knowledge of Ayn Rand's philosophy, and you have ignored our attempt to point that out to you. If you think, somehow, that this is wrong, fine. Most other agree with you. We don't care.

No agreeing with someone isn't a lack of knowledge. Jesus.

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Try actually addressing some arguments guys.

... my position is definitely not that existence does not exist ... I am sorry if I gave that impression.

That is the impression I'm getting. If you can (and apparently do) claim that existence exists, then by what "objective" means have you made this determination? At the very least, I get the impression that you may waiver and argue that it is possible that your senses are imperfectly perceiving and it is possible that existence doesn't exist.

If not, then by what faculty have you established the objective reality of existence?

I missed your response to the above. Please address how YOU are certain of existence. If you can help the posters here understand by what standards you are operating, then perhaps there is a way to escape the current circular arguing.

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Freestyle, I am not certain of anything. I would not claim to be.

I didn't see this comment before, but I think it sheds some light on our conflicting definitions, and what we actually mean when we defend perception versus what you seem to think we're defending.

No one here claims that perception of an object gives absolute knowledge of that object, in the sense of all the knowledge it's possible to know about the object. Rather, our claim that sense perception is inerrant simply means that it results directly from inerrant processes. It is not exhaustive, but it is valid.

For instance, you might say that I cannot tell from sense perception that my watch is composed of incredibly tiny atoms and mostly empty space. This is true. However, it's also helpful to think about this: how do we know that it is composed of atoms? Well, we know from experiments like the gold-foil experiment, which illustrated that gold foil is made up of small clusters of positively-charged particles inside mostly empty space (it was not able to detect electrons). However, how did we know the results of that experiment? How did we get that information? We used sense perception on the results. We looked at the impact of alpha particles that we sent through the gold. Ultimately, it all comes back to sense perception. Only sense perception, sometimes augmented by human inventions, leads to knowledge, and it leads to contextually true knowledge because of its direct connection to reality.

This is the problem. You are acting as if this is self evident. It is not. Being connected to reality does not necessitate that we gain true knowledge of that reality.

Our sense organs being physical and present in reality does not mean they work perfectly in fulfilling their function. Why would it?

Edited by CJM

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Paticular to a given person. Sorry, should make it clear when I use a word with different definitions like that.

Okay, so perception leads to information which is particular to a given person. This is true, but it does not imply the unreliability of the senses. I'll give another analogy.

Let's say I have two computer programs. I put the same parameters and data in both. One program produces a linear regression of the data. The other produces an exponential regression. I've put the same input into two systems which are slightly differently composed, and I've gotten two outputs. Does the second output invalidate the first? Does the difference between them imply that they must be fallible? Obviously not. Two different things have been done with the same information; they should produce two different results. If they didn't, something would really be wrong. Both regressions are true, because they are both based on mechanical manipulations of the same data; either regression could not have turned out differently than it did. They're both valid. This is the point with sense perception. Everyone's involuntary neural processes produce the only information that it's possible for that particular person's system to produce; they're all accurate, since they're all systems in reality and reality's laws are consistent. Their differences are not contradictory.

How is it true information when we are not perceiving it, or even anything about it totally?

Pronoun use here is confusing. The aspects of the object which are not perceptible to us simply don't send us any information at all. There is no information to be false. If I have a sheet of paper which is black on one side, white on another, and it's sitting on the table in front of me such that I can only see the black side, it's true that I don't know that the other side is white. However, this doesn't invalidate the knowledge that I get from looking at the black side. I couldn't describe with any certainty the unseen side of the paper, but I could describe with absolute certainty that which I do see (ignoring the fact that actually putting perception into words involves the conceptual faculty, which is fallible).

Also, wow. I've just realized how naturally I slide into an analogy. I really should branch out.

Our perceptions are what they are, they cannot deviate. The events that allow us to perceive what we do are the same. I don't see how you get from this that what we perceive is true.

I'm taking true to mean validly in connection with reality. What definition of truth do you think our perceptions should be able to produce in order for them to be valid?

Because this impossible situation is what free will entails. Thats the entire idea of it. Its what free will is.

Free will has another interpretation, which is not dependent on the replaying of moments in time: if we had all the information about the current states of all the matter in the universe, we could not predict with certainty every future state, because of the element of human choice.

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Start over.

On Objectivist Epistemology

The validity of the senses, this is one I can't get my head around. Rand seems to hold that our perception of reality is objective reality. Is this so? This makes no sense to me, as it seems to suggest physiological infallibility on mans part. What we perceive is not objective reality, since our sensory systems act imperfectly.

Objective knowledge is not automatic or infallible. Objectivism explains the conscious grasp of existence as happening in a sequence of sensation, then perception, then conception. Sensation is 'mechanical' and automatic, or in other words deterministic. The senses act as transducers creating mental sense data from the physical excitations falling upon them. The Law of Identity applies to consciousness and the senses and therefore requires sensation in a particular delimited finite form. The demand that sensation be perfect is a demand for an indefinite means therefore is invalid.

Perception is the automatic organization of sense data into recognizable entities. The eyes focus and pick out things, not just color patches. Hearing perceives voices and words and notes, not just a power-frequency distribution. Perception is also finite, automatic and deterministic.

Conception is an act of abstraction from percepts (not from reality directly). Conception is not automatic but optional and voluntary, i.e. volitional. It is precisely and only because of its volitional nature that conception can be in error. Free will and volition are taken to be synonyms here. Free will causes fallibility. In this sense then, sensation and perception are infallible without invoking a standard of perfection or omniscience.

On Objectivist Ethics

Objectivism seems to hold that a persons life should be their highest value. I see no reason why a rational person could not hold something else, e.g. their child's life to be of greater value than their own.

This is only relevant in emergency situations. Emergencies are characterized by the impossibility of survival by the normal means, rational action to achieve values. In emergencies the standard is to cut your losses. The loss of a top value could well be judged as so disastrous that death or risk of death are preferable to a subsequent lifetime of regret and suffering. This is not actually a different standard, it is still 'maximizing value' but in a context where all the options are negative.

On Objectivist Metaphysics

The problem of free will and causality. This is the biggest stumbling block for me, as one who holds no belief in free will. The arguments I have found against this problem have seemed very weak to me. Free will is held to be self evident in Objectivism, but an argument brought for it seems to be that choice and free will are not contradictory to the law of causality, but a part of it, that volition is causality. Seemingly volition is a causa sui?

The objective is a type of, a subset of, the subjective. Both subjective and objective requires the existence of a perspective, an observer. A perception implies a perceiver, a value implies a valuer. The distinction between them is that the objective is related to reality by a specific means of causation and all other forms of the subjective are variations on being arbitrary. What moves your limbs is a cause, called your will. Your will also directs your thoughts. Your will is perceived as self-evident as your sense of being a self. Your will directs your philosophical and causal inquiries into your will, therefore can never logically invalidate itself. An objective yet impersonal and deterministic interpretation of self is a contradiction in terms.

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Being connected to reality does not necessitate that we gain true knowledge of that reality.

I think, as I said above, we're belaboring under different definitions of truth. To quote Ayn Rand for the Objectivist definition, "Truth is the recognition of reality." Truth means being connected to reality. If you could give your definition of truth, I think that would help to clear up a lot. Discussions like this tend to turn into people talking past one another, based on differing definitions; let's try to avoid that.

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Hence they do not work perfectly, perfect example. We do not see "the whole picture" even looking at the simplest things. The "whole picture" exists in objective reality.

Exactly, so, how do you know there's a 'whole picture'. Intutively? Is it a Platonic Form, that you just know is there, but haven't observed?

Objective reality is that which is real, period. Anything that isn't is irrelevant, because it has no effect on us. This means that whatever tools of cognition/perception/sensation/intuition may be available to us, that anything we can observe to be consistent, measurable, definable, identifiable, is part of objective reality. If something isn't consistent, identifiable, etc., then it is not part of objective reality.

Assume for instance that the universe was your personal dream. Your mind can control it. This means that there is an objective reality: your mind. However, proper observation, and use of induction over the centuries has proved conclusively that objective reality happens to be something outside of man's consciousness, that acts according to given physical laws, which have no relationship to man's whims or desires. In fact, a day's observation in a toga could tell you that.

The desire to define "the whole picture" is an inductive error. You're basically saying that you want to impose you concept of 'wholeness' on objective reality, when you can easily demonstrate that the concept of 'wholeness' is an abstraction derived from observable reality.

Could we someday develop science to the point where we can describe every effect that is observed to affect everything observable? Yeah, but that isn't a guarantee that some new effect won't pop up at sometime.

The principle is: the unknown is unknown. It seems like mysticism is caused by a desire to have the comfort of knowing the unknown. But ironically, once known, the unknown is no longer the unknown, and so there still remains some other great unknown. Desiring to paint over it a veneer of abstract mystical explanations is only an inductive error, but it is the cause of so much mischief.

That's the essence of your 'problems with Objectivism', by my estimation.

Edited by ZSorenson

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CJM said: It was my understanding [of Objectivism] that it was not just knowledge, but objective knowledge that our senses could percieve.

I said: [D]epending on whether or not we properly integrate [perceptual] data will determine whether our knowledge has any errors or not.

CJM said: Coleecdting [sic] data from objective reality and collecting objective data about reality are two very different things.

I said: How does it relate to my response?

CJM said: Because I never claimed we did not do what you responded and told me we did

As you can see above, I was addressing your concern about "objective knowledge" when I wrote about "the role of proper integration in errors". Does that clear things up?

Why is it an objective ecaluation, and not subjective?

If it was not an objective evaluation, why would you discuss it? You (implicitly) hold that anyone can see the (alleged) facts that you are providing. But that is precisely what objectivity means, that anyone who has eyes agrees with you on facts of reality.

Yes, but there is no reason to think the opposite should necessarily be true.

By the opposite, do you mean if man chooses death instead of life? In that case, you don't need a morality, and certainly not Objectivist Ethics.

[Perceiving reality as it isn't] would be to perceive reality in a biased and subjective way.

Alright. Now, in the light of your statement, please consider my earlier statement:

"Our sensory organs are infallible in the sense that they merely "collect" data from an objective reality."

Now, how would you respond to it?

Acting does, being willing does not, as I already pointed out.

Ahh, I finally got your point. But here is the problem:

"Willing" bears a huge relationship to "acting". Man's premises direct his thoughts, emotions and actions. Otherwise, what is the point of values or even Ethics? And in that case, why do you even care whether man holds his life as the ultimate value or something else?

"But anyway, if living a certain kind of live is to be your highest value, then sacrificing yourself for someoneelses life is still contradictory to it."

As I explained earlier, it is not a sacrifice, and hence non-contradictory. I wrote:

"If a value is so great to you that your life without it would be rotting in hell, it would be a sacrifice to live without it."

Okay.

And thus, sense-perception is infallible. Now do you see the argument?

How does that make it relevant?

Because my "relevant" post explains why sense-perception is infallible, which you claimed is not.

I said: Is it possible for you to choose your values?

CJM said: It may be possible for me to choose my values, or it may not, depending on how you choose to define choice.

I said: I define (making a) choice as a volitional act when faced with an alternative. How do you define choice?

CJM said: I would define it in much the same way. [... and... ] Yes I can choose my values. However I could not choose any others.

What do you mean by "I could not choose any others"? Where did we talk about choosing anything other than your values?

No they do not. How do your eyes give you absolute data? Can you perceive the keyboard in front of you in absolute detail? No you cannot.

'Absolute data' does not mean 'all detail'. It merely means that I can perceive the keyboard in a way which is non-contradictory with my or anyone else's knowledge. Now, does it all make sense?

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Why infinite, why not absolute?

What does that even mean? Give me an example of a physical absolute. How is a physical "absolute" different from infinite precision?

I believe most peoples conception of free will to be an illusion. It is not different from making an incorrect judgment.

How are they capable of making judgments without free will? They could not have made such a choice if they're incapable of choice. In fact, you refute yourself anytime you use the word can or capable.

No I am not, did you just copy what the guy above you wrote?

I have not read a word of this thread other than your replies to my posts.

Absolute detail.

What does that even mean? Please expand on the statement.

I am still waiting for you to explain how the eyes work improperly. The finite number of light receptors that will fit in your eye receive a finite number of photons and convert them into signals that you interpret. That your eye does not have enough light receptors for you to see stuff far away does not imply that the eyes don't work properly. Each and every one of the receptors works perfectly fine.

If you conclude that there's nothing in the distance because you drop the context of the capabilities of your eyes, that is your own fault, not a problem with your eyes.

Edited by brian0918

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Okay, so perception leads to information which is particular to a given person. This is true, but it does not imply the unreliability of the senses. I'll give another analogy.

Let's say I have two computer programs. I put the same parameters and data in both. One program produces a linear regression of the data. The other produces an exponential regression. I've put the same input into two systems which are slightly differently composed, and I've gotten two outputs. Does the second output invalidate the first? Does the difference between them imply that they must be fallible? Obviously not. Two different things have been done with the same information; they should produce two different results. If they didn't, something would really be wrong. Both regressions are true, because they are both based on mechanical manipulations of the same data; either regression could not have turned out differently than it did. They're both valid. This is the point with sense perception. Everyone's involuntary neural processes produce the only information that it's possible for that particular person's system to produce; they're all accurate, since they're all systems in reality and reality's laws are consistent. Their differences are not contradictory.

I don't really get this analogy. Two people acting differently with the same information wouldn't have to mean they perceived it differently.

Pronoun use here is confusing. The aspects of the object which are not perceptible to us simply don't send us any information at all. There is no information to be false. If I have a sheet of paper which is black on one side, white on another, and it's sitting on the table in front of me such that I can only see the black side, it's true that I don't know that the other side is white. However, this doesn't invalidate the knowledge that I get from looking at the black side. I couldn't describe with any certainty the unseen side of the paper, but I could describe with absolute certainty that which I do see (ignoring the fact that actually putting perception into words involves the conceptual faculty, which is fallible).

My point here on detail is simply that perceptive organs are limited physically in their accuracy. I feel this applies to all aspects of accuracy. I see no reason why it wouldn't.

I'm taking true to mean validly in connection with reality. What definition of truth do you think our perceptions should be able to produce in order for them to be valid?

I agree with your definition. I am not sure I understand your question.

Free will has another interpretation, which is not dependent on the replaying of moments in time: if we had all the information about the current states of all the matter in the universe, we could not predict with certainty every future state, because of the element of human choice.

This doesn't have to imply free will. In fact I haven't heard this argument outside of the matrix. Things being in-determinant due to chance does not have anyhting to do with being free or will. And your definition requires a further defining of what free will entails.

I think, as I said above, we're belaboring under different definitions of truth. To quote Ayn Rand for the Objectivist definition, "Truth is the recognition of reality." Truth means being connected to reality. If you could give your definition of truth, I think that would help to clear up a lot. Discussions like this tend to turn into people talking past one another, based on differing definitions; let's try to avoid that.

I only started using truth because the concept of Objective being used in different ways was too confusing for certain people.

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