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Existence exists.

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Firstly, let me state that I am not denying existence; of course things existence. Rather, this is an issue of semantics.

I was watching a video on Youtube, by a Post-Modernist critical of Objectivism, wherein he contended that existence no more exists than life lives. Obviously, he was not impugning that things exist, but that "existence" doesn't exist. Again, he compares this to the statement that "life lives," which is absurd, as living things--and not life--live.

So, isn't saying that "existence exists" comparable to saying that "running runs" or "eating eats"?

I'm sure that I am confused, and would appreciate some clarification, if anyone would be kind enough to proffer it.

Thanks, all. =]

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Ask yourself "what is 'existence'?" Existence is the collection of everything that exists. In that light, obviously, it exists. "Existing" is implicit in "existence".

As for your analogy, life does not live. Life is a property of something that is living. Running does not run, either. Running is an action that an entity can take. A sufficient analogy would be to find X that X's (ie, is implicit in its nature).

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Ask yourself "what is 'existence'?" Existence is the collection of everything that exists. In that light, obviously, it exists. "Existing" is implicit in "existence".

As for your analogy, life does not live. Life is a property of something that is living. Running does not run, either. Running is an action that an entity can take. A sufficient analogy would be to find X that X's (ie, is implicit in its nature).

Yes, thank you. This was along the lines that I was thinking. Is there anything analogous to "existence exists"? I for one cannot conceive of such an analogy.

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Well, I think your original analogies were just flawed. Simply take "the collection of all things that X" and put in whatever you want for X. So the proper analogy is not, "running runs" but "runners run", since the collection of all things that run is "runners", not "running".

If the axiom had been "existing exists", then you would have had an argument.

"Life" as understood as the collection of all living things, does "live". "Living" doesn't live.

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Is there anything analogous to "existence exists"?

Yes. All 3 of basic O'ist axioms are stated in this form.

The axiom of identity: A is A: states, a thing is itself.

The axiom of consciousness: states, consciousness is conscious.

In ITOE, page 59, Ayn Rand explains why they are stated in this form of repetition. She states axioms are "epistemological guidelines", which summarize "the essence of all human cognition: something exists of which I am conscious; I must discover its identity. She states that each "underscores" a primary fact.

"This underscoring of primary facts is one of the crucial epistemological function of axiomatic concepts. It is also the reason why they can be translated into a statement only in the form of a repetition (as a base and a reminder): Existence exists--Consciousness is conscious--A is A. (This converts axiomatic concepts into formal axioms.)

"That special underscoring, which is of no concern to animals, is a matter of life or death for man--as witness, modern philosophy, which is a monument to the results of the attempt to evade or bypass such reminders." (ITOE, 59)

Edited by phibetakappa

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I was watching a video on Youtube, by a Post-Modernist critical of Objectivism, wherein he contended that existence no more exists than life lives. Obviously, he was not impugning that things exist, but that "existence" doesn't exist. Again, he compares this to the statement that "life lives," which is absurd, as living things--and not life--live.

That would be a criticism worth responding to, if, for instance, Leonard Peikoff in OPAR didn't take the time to not only explain in what sense Objectivism uses the word existence in this context (a collective noun denoting the sum of existents), but also to mention that the statement is the equivalent of Parmenides' principle: "What is, is."

The gentleman is either actively deceiving his viewers into thinking the above explanation hasn't been given, or he's unaware of OPAR, in which case he is actively deceiving his audience into thinking he is familiar with the subject he is discussing in the video). Either way, sounds like a crook.

By the way, I looked up the full verse of that Parmenides poem Peikoff mentions in OPAR (since it might just describe your nit picky friend perfectly):

It is necessary to say and to think that What Is is; for it is to be,

but nothing it is not. These things I bid you ponder.

For I shall begin for you from this first way of inquiry,

then yet again from that along which mortals who know nothing

[5] wander two-headed: for haplessness in their

breasts directs wandering thought. They are borne along

deaf and blind at once, bedazzled, undiscriminating hordes,

who have supposed that it is and is not the same

and not the same; but the path of all these turns back on itself.

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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Thank you all for the explanations that you have provided. I see now where I was mistaken. I sort of had an inkling about it initially, but I wanted to see if more knowledgeable Objectivists had anything to say on the matter.

=]

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Well, I think your original analogies were just flawed. Simply take "the collection of all things that X" and put in whatever you want for X. So the proper analogy is not, "running runs" but "runners run", since the collection of all things that run is "runners", not "running".

If the axiom had been "existing exists", then you would have had an argument.

"Life" as understood as the collection of all living things, does "live". "Living" doesn't live.

Your response was especially helpful. Thank you, Sir. =]

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My roommate actually uses this in one of his attacks against Objectivism. "That which exists exists, that which flies flies, that which runs, runs. Objectivist axioms are nothing but truisms and tautologies. They're useless statements and I don't learn anything from them."

Until this thread was made, I didn't have a defense against that sort of argument.

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My roommate actually uses this in one of his attacks against Objectivism. "That which exists exists, that which flies flies, that which runs, runs. Objectivist axioms are nothing but truisms and tautologies. They're useless statements and I don't learn anything from them."

There is a discussion of what the point of the axioms is in ITOE. But basically your roommate is right, one is not supposed to learn anything from them. The axioms are there to keep you from screwing up. If any conclusion you hold ever explicitly or implicitly contradicts an axiom then you know it can't be correct.

hasty edit: Of course, there are other ways to screw up so they don't create infallibility.

Edited by Grames

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I'll have to get ITOE next. I do have OPAR though. If a similar explanation is in there, I've forgotten about it and probably need to read it again, haha.

Your explanation reminds me of Rand's Razor actually. I think one error I make is that I've implicitly accepted premises of his that violate the axioms.

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My roommate actually uses this in one of his attacks against Objectivism. "That which exists exists, that which flies flies, that which runs, runs. Objectivist axioms are nothing but truisms and tautologies. They're useless statements and I don't learn anything from them."

Until this thread was made, I didn't have a defense against that sort of argument.

If you don't think you learn anything from "that which runs, runs" then contrast that with "that which runs, crawls" or "that which runs, cries" or "that which runs, cheers" or "that which grows, honks". What do you know from that statement? What relationship between the entity and its actions do you know? Not much without further investigation. The problem is in looking at the tautology as a statement with no context, as concrete-bound grouping of words. The tautology is a wide abstraction identifying causal relationships of an entity and its actions. One reaches the tautology only by looking for causal relationships among events that occur in reality. Identifying an entity and its actions in the form of a tautology is the method of proving inductive statements. If one can state, "that which is mortal, is mortal" then one has identified a causal relationship between the entity and it actions (or properties). "That which exists, exists" is the widest abstraction that all entities and their actions have in common.

Look at it this way. How do you know that which exists, exists? You would not know the meaning of those words without observation and conceptualization.

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Being new to this forum, I am struck with the civility displayed as compared to other forums I've frequented.

As I was reading this thread it reminded me of a phrase from the bible, Exodus 3:12, "Ehyeh asher ehyeh" or "I am that I am".

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Being new to this forum, I am struck with the civility displayed as compared to other forums I've frequented.

As I was reading this thread it reminded me of a phrase from the bible, Exodus 3:12, "Ehyeh asher ehyeh" or "I am that I am".

You'll find that most forums are influenced by the incivility of a Levitical slaughter, if we're gonna make this biblical.

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My issue with the statement "Existence exists" (And I mean this in the most respectful way possible) is that it doesn't tell us anything about the nature of existence. For instance, how do we know that the objects we see are in fact real, and not a hallucination? Or that existence will always appear as it does now?

 

That last point is actually related to a famous problem in metaphysics, discovered by David Hume. We assume that the laws of the universe are more than mere coincidence based on the fact that the probability of this is minicule. The problem is that probability is itself based on the assumption that the future will resemble the past, so that assumption is a tautology. But it's also a fundamental premise that you have to accept in order to act.

 

I am also aware of the argument claims to the contrary are arbitrary -- or, to put it other terms, irrelevant to human existence in the observable universe. But then why can't we base Objectivist epistemology and ethics on this argument, and ignore metaphysics altogether as irrelevant to the purpose of Objectivism?

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Existence exists doesn't specify what stuff that exists is like really, just that there is something. The nature of existence is an issue that is dealt with more a little further down the philosophical line. The hallucination issue in particular I think is addressed in epistemology.

 

As for the arbitrary, that issue isn't just something one can skip over. Arbitrary claims aren't just irrelevant to human existence, they're fundamental flaw is that they are irrelevant to existence, period. They are claims made without anything tying them to existence. This is important later in ethics and politics for things like "innocent until proven guilty" and not asserting that we should throw you or me into jail because we did or perhaps just may be time travelers who are in fact the real "Jack the Ripper".

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My issue with the statement "Existence exists" (And I mean this in the most respectful way possible) is that it doesn't tell us anything about the nature of existence. For instance, how do we know that the objects we see are in fact real, and not a hallucination? Or that existence will always appear as it does now?

It's not supposed to answer that question. Whether what we see is a hallucination or not doesn't invalidate that existence exists. That's a question of epistemology. As an axiom, it doesn't tell you how reality operates, nor is it meant too. Even if reality were to significantly change tomorrow, reality is still there. And even if reality was a hallucination for you, it's still reality - the experience is from someplace. By being conscious, you are necessarily conscious of reality, which is enough to validate that "existence exists". To be aware while existence does not exist would be self-contradictory, as it presumes something is doing the perceiving while asserting there is nothing doing the perceiving. Maybe your issue is more that it is an axiom, therefore can't be proven?

 

As for Hume, that's also an epistemological question, specifically about Hume's theory of knowledge, while Rand uses different premises to demonstrate that recognizing causality is not a matter of probability or correlation. Hume is an associationist after all. Even more, he is strongly an empiricist, and has no particular theory about abstraction or concept formation except that everything you know is at best strong correlation. While the question of "how do you know what you see is not just mere correlation" is important to ask, Rand's axioms aren't supposed to answer that.

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Well, as clarification, it does establish that reality exists independent of the mind, contra Descartes who certainly was aware of consciousness but saw one's own consciousness as primary. You do perceive reality to the degree you are conscious of something, so we know it exists independent of the mind, it's just how reality ought to look isn't axiomatic.

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Can someone sum up meaningful distinctions between:

 

 

Existence exists.

 

Existents exist.

 

All existents exist.

 

Every existent exists.

 

The sum of all existents exists.

 

The realm of existence exists.

 

The realm of existents exists.

 

The realm of all existents exists.

 

 

and is the first one the best and most accurate statement?

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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Firstly, let me state that I am not denying existence; of course things existence. Rather, this is an issue of semantics.

I was watching a video on Youtube, by a Post-Modernist critical of Objectivism, wherein he contended that existence no more exists than life lives. Obviously, he was not impugning that things exist, but that "existence" doesn't exist. Again, he compares this to the statement that "life lives," which is absurd, as living things--and not life--live.

So, isn't saying that "existence exists" comparable to saying that "running runs" or "eating eats"?

I'm sure that I am confused, and would appreciate some clarification, if anyone would be kind enough to proffer it.

Thanks, all. =]

It would seem to me as if such statements are made by those who want to sound 'philosophical' in a cocktail party.

 

According to my eldest in her pre-teen years, a character from Saved By the Bell, replied to "I think, therefore i am", with "And if i think not, am I not?" I had to tolerate that one for about two weeks!

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We assume that the laws of the universe are more than mere coincidence based on the fact that the probability of this is minicule. The problem is that probability is itself based on the assumption that the future will resemble the past, so that assumption is a tautology. But it's also a fundamental premise that you have to accept in order to act.

Hume himself admitted that we cannot survive without inductive reasoning.  Since it's necessary, it must be valid.

  • Bread loaf A nourished me yesterday
  • Bread loaf B has the same identity as A; they are both loaves of bread, because they share attributes [1, 2, 3, . . . .]
  • If they are the same type of thing (the same identity) then bread loaf B must nourish me, today

"A is A" regardless of where, when or how A is found (this is basis of induction).

Incidentally, have you ever heard of "stolen concepts"?  Being able to recognize them is like the silver bullet of skepticism.

 

Existence exists.

 

Existents exist.

Along with the fact of existence, it further specifies that there are different things which exist.  It's an implicit reference to identity.

 

Existence exists.

 

Every existent exists.

"All" is redundant.  "Every" stresses the reference to identity and makes it (more explicit?).

 

The sum of all existents exists.

This one's weird; you're saying that 'all existents exist' as if they were all a single thing; the universe.

 

The realm of existence exists.

This specifies extrospection, as opposed to introspection.  It's a reference to consciousness.

 

Existence exists.

 

Existents exist.

 

The realm of existents exists.

I like this one; it forces you to think about existence, identity and consciousness, simultaneously.  That's cool.

 

The realm of existents does exist!

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