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Ferris

3 important questions about objectivism

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Hey guys, I`m reading OPAR and I came up with 3 important questions that I didn`t really understand.

#1. Universe

On page 16 of OPAR, Dr Peikoff explains that the universe is eternal:

"Some of the things commonly referred as 'entities' do not come into being or pass away, but are eternal - e.g., the universe as a whole. The universe simply is; it is an irreducible primary. An entity may be said to have a cause only if it is the kind of entity that is noneternal."

I understand this, since, according to the primary of existence, there could have been no "conciousness" to create the universe in the first place. But lets take a look at another thing he says on page 31 about the universe:

"Every entity, accordingly, is finite; it is limited in the number of its qualities and in their extent; this applies to the universe as well."

Based on what objective fact/observation/line of thoughts does he know enough to claim that the universe is not infinite? As far as i`m concerned, nobody knows that.

#2. Senses

Lets consider the following facts:

Reality exists. We can perceive reality through our human senses. There is no object alone, or perceiver alone, but only object-as-perceived. The validity of the senses is an axiom.

Having said that, suppose that a certain specie of animal (lets say, a dog) perceive the leaves of a tree to be blue. We, humans, perceive a leaf to be green. The eyes of the dog processes the light differently from the way our eyes perceive it, but what actually IS the color of the leaf and how can we be sure of that? In answer to that, Ayn Rand would say that the quality "color" is not in the object, nor in our mind, but is a product of the interaction between two entities: object and apparatus. Can we conclude then, that in a world without consciousness, or perceivers, all the entities would be colorless? And what would something look like without a color? Suppose that there would be light (coming from a sun), what would the color of the reflection be?

#3. Focus

Dr. Peikoff says: " 'Focus' (in the conceptual realm) names a quality of purposeful alertness in a man`s mental state. 'Focus' is the state of a goal-directed mind committed to attaining full awareness of reality"

He continues by saying that one should struggle to be in a state of 'focus' more often. I understand that you have to focus in order to do somethings, like, solve a problem, study or have a conversation with someone, but, what would a full awareness state be like when someone is just relaxing and doing nothing? What should someone focus on when there is nothing to focus about? Like... suppose i`m walking home from work, what should I focus on? I don`t know if you guys understood my question, but try to understand it.

Edited by Ferris

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"Every entity, accordingly, is finite; it is limited in the number of its qualities and in their extent; this applies to the universe as well."

Based on what objective fact/observation/line of thoughts does he know enough to claim that the universe is not infinite? As far as i`m concerned, nobody knows that.

I believe you are simply misunderstanding how the term infinity is being used. Whatever the content of the universe - the amount of matter - it must be a specific amount, however there is no restriction for the upper limit of that amount. So the universe is finite but unbounded. An "infinity" cannot actually exist as an attribute of a thing - such a notion is contrary to identity.

Having said that, suppose that a certain specie of animal (lets say, a dog) perceive the leaves of a tree to be blue. We, humans, perceive a leaf to be green. The eyes of the dog processes the light differently from the way our eyes perceive it, but what actually IS the color of the leaf and how can we be sure of that?

Color is an abstract concept. As with all concepts, it is created out of necessity for understanding and communication. If an English-speaking person is raised from childhood, and told that the color of the sky is "red", and the color of a stop sign is "green" - that person will not have any problem living his life... until he tries to communicate with someone else, and quickly finds out that he has been taught differently all those years.

In short, the situation cannot exist in which someone "sees red instead of blue" - the word we use for a color refers to objects of that color. The meaning of a concept is its referents.

Now, some people don't see colors, and so are deficient in distinguishing that conceptual common denominator. Other people see numbers with different colors (due to synesthesia) - their perceptual level is providing false information (as a spectrometer will reveal) - but because the false information is consistent (i.e. "1" is always green, "2" is always blue), synesthetes are able to use this fact to perform mathematical feats that normal humans cannot.

Can we conclude then, that in a world without consciousness, or perceivers, all the entities would be colorless?

Certainly, because color is an abstract concept requiring a perceiver. Without such a perceiver, the light would still be bouncing around - but without any photoreceptors or consciousness to receive the light and turn it into information, "color" is meaningless. This may seem contradictory - but it is only because you are asking us to simultaneously *have* knowledge of colors, without having the means to have obtained that knowledge.

And what would something look like without a color?

There are people who are color blind, who can observe varying light intensity, but cannot differentiate varying wavelengths of light. So they are already seeing the world without color. They simply lack the ability to directly determine certain information about reality.

My bad - I wrote more than I planned for the first two questions, and don't have enough time for the third question.

Edited by brian0918

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I looks like youre off to a good start. Ill give my (brief) thoughts on each question:

1) The page you quote (31) also states that "infinite does not mean large; it means larger than any specific quantity, i.e., of no specific quantity". What he means by this is that a metaphysical infinity violates the axiom of identity, because to be is to be something specific. Infinity is what Oists would call a mathematical concept of method, it doesnt refer to an actual referent in reality, its a conceptual tool.

2) The concept color refers to two things: a specific wavelength of light refected by an object and the percetual apparatus registering it. Without one of the two, its meaningless, so theres no real answer, it all depends on how you define color, semantics I guess.

3) The amount of context needed to answer that is staggering, I tried, and came up with nothing meaningfull.

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It is impossible to be in full focus all the time because the brain acts under physical conditions, e.g. when you are tired. Therefore, there is no moral imperative to be in full focus all the time. Only that you simply have enough focus to know when you aren't in full focus, and that you don't confuse it with anything else, and that when a problem requires it, you raise your level of awareness.

Also, isn't there a section in OPAR where Peikoff addresses this? He says something to the extent of saying that “X is red” means basically “X is an entity of such a nature that when it impinges upon my senses, it appears red in color.” If someone else says the same thing, but his senses give a different color, they are both correct, that is what the entity is.

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#2. Senses

Lets consider the following facts:

Reality exists. We can perceive reality through our human senses. There is no object alone, or perceiver alone, but only object-as-perceived. The validity of the senses is an axiom.

Having said that, suppose that a certain specie of animal (lets say, a dog) perceive the leaves of a tree to be blue. We, humans, perceive a leaf to be green. The eyes of the dog processes the light differently from the way our eyes perceive it, but what actually IS the color of the leaf and how can we be sure of that? In answer to that, Ayn Rand would say that the quality "color" is not in the object, nor in our mind, but is a product of the interaction between two entities: object and apparatus. Can we conclude then, that in a world without consciousness, or perceivers, all the entities would be colorless? And what would something look like without a color? Suppose that there would be light (coming from a sun), what would the color of the reflection be?

Going off of what Brian stated about the senses and color, you may have pondered a related question before. That being what do blind people see when they dream, if they have been blind from birth.

I will elaborate for a better understanding of what I mean:

Three careful sleep laboratory studies (Amadeo & Gomez, 1966; Berger, Olley, & Oswald, 1962; Kerr, Foulkes, & Schmidt, 1982) and at least one rigorous study of home dream reports (Hurovitz, Dunn, Domhoff, & Fiss, 1999) have shown that congenitally blind dreamers and those who became blind in infancy do not have visual imagery in their dreams, whereas those blinded in adolescence or young adulthood often retain visual mental imagery in their waking life and in their dreams. These controlled experiments confirm what has been reported in a number of earlier self-report studies reviewed by Kirtley (1975), who concluded on the basis of his extensive appraisal that individuals blinded before the age of about 5 report no visual imagery in dreams as adults, whereas those blinded after about the age of 7 are likely to retain visual imagery in dreaming. Now what is of particular interest, is that according to Foulkes (1999), these studies have theoretical implications beyond the issue of blindness because they suggest that the mental imagery necessary for dreaming develops between the ages of 4 and 7. This suggestion fits with his finding that preschool children awakened in the sleep laboratory rarely report dreams and that the reports are bland and static on the few occasions on which they do recall dreams (Foulkes, 1982, 1999). Thus, the findings on blind dreamers add to the support for a cognitive theory of dreaming (Antrobus, 1978, 1991; Foulkes, 1985).

Edited by CapitalistSwine

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#1. Universe

Based on what objective fact/observation/line of thoughts does he know enough to claim that the universe is not infinite? As far as i`m concerned, nobody knows that.

The Law of Identity, and Rand's axiom that Existence is Identity. Read "indefinite" for "infinite".

#2. Senses

Can we conclude then, that in a world without consciousness, or perceivers, all the entities would be colorless? And what would something look like without a color?

Suppose that there would be light (coming from a sun), what would the color of the reflection be?

Even if you stipulate a world without consciousness, the very question which asks "what would it look like" injects consciousness back into it. The objective basis of color is the wavelengths of light and that would persist unchanged, but color defined as a relation between subject and object i.e. one way that consciousness can be aware of and experience reality would be inapplicable if there were no subjects, no consciousnesses, in existence.

This is not just a thought experiment. Mars is world without consciousness, remote satellites and landers relay pictures of what it looks like, and when a person lands there it will look like the pictures.

#3. Focus

what would a full awareness state be like when someone is just relaxing and doing nothing?

Alertness. The question asked suggests you still think "focus" and "concentration" are pretty much the same thing. They are not.

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Objectivism is a name of a philosophy, a philosophy proven and discovered by a single person, and hence it should be written with a capital O!

#1. UniverseBased on what objective fact/observation/line of thoughts does he know enough to claim that the universe is not infinite? As far as i`m concerned, nobody knows that.
I do. Due to the law of identity---existence is identity, there is nothing that can be too great to not consist of a specific width and length, or, if you want: ∞=∞+1; 0=1. It brings you to so many proportional identical fallacies and derives that no size can equal itself, or, in other words, that A=!A.

But since existence exists, nothing can exist outside existence. It is a contradiction in terms, meaning: existent=non-existent, ==> existence does not exist.

The ultimate conclusion is that everything that exists has certain very quantities and therefore a certain very identity, but you cannot find a cause for a limitation of the size of universe, a cause for being bounded, outside the universe (nor anywhere if you take the definition of the universe as `existence` instead of `a given area`). I find it to be of no contradictory data.

P.S., it is primacy of existence and primacy of consciousness (which are of a different concept); not primary!

#2. Senses

Can we conclude then, that in a world without consciousness, or perceivers, all the entities would be colorless? And what would something look like without a color? Suppose that there would be light (coming from a sun), what would the color of the reflection be?

It is a bit strange for me to consider Human Nature, because it all seems thus self-evident in this branch.

However, the single goal of man`s senses is to give him an evidence of something that is.

It does not mean that the faculty of your senses exists independently of you consciousness (e.g., ``This sight actually exists``),

but it rather means that due to the primacy of existence what you see is a symbol, an objective, mere symbol, to that which exists, in its own language: a sensory data is used to represent nothing but the thing that stands in the given distance from you.

Whether it is talked about the fact you cannot see beyond a wall [it is because of the particular nature of the wall which one currently experiences],

an object that far away does not look like a clear and bright identity [you can build a telescope from the comfortable distance for you!],

a color-blind person [is he still able to be aware of the chemical meaning and features of the color which make it look red to properly viewing people?],

a desert hallucination [what one may experience is not the failure of you senses but a natural reaction to the hot air which one should identify],

a dream [does the fact you appreciate a dichotomy not testify for itself? Dream is a state that contains no metal focus, and you can recognize the fact it is a more-complex evidence on reality and its particular causes, moreover then it will be a lucid dream],

an attempt to smoke cocaine, Helen Keller, or all the forms of the so-called `mental illustration`,

it is a mere experience of existence, experience which is a part of existence and you can be aware of,

The color red in the spectrum is only a result of the quantity of light your eye gets, and you have your tools to identify this fact.

Our senses are NOT limited in understanding reality, they merely symbolize of some natural state from which one can infer every conclusion, yet this given quantity of light is no more red than it is yellow just as something is not more red than it is `rouge` but nevertheless the term is objective.

By the way, when a camera captures red stuff it is not red yet---this fact is not a sufficient datum.

The camera is not aware of the color, it is not conscious, one simply gets the documentation when he observes it.

#3. Focus

I understand that you have to focus in order to do somethings, like, solve a problem, study or have a conversation with someone, but, what would a full awareness state be like when someone is just relaxing and doing nothing? What should someone focus on when there is nothing to focus about? Like... suppose i`m walking home from work, what should I focus on? I don`t know if you guys understood my question, but try to understand it.

You should focus on achieving satisfactory virtues in the context of promoting your central purposes in which you should focus on the context of promoting your survival qua man.

Otherwise you`re not rationally selfish.

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Here's my nutshelling, based on my inductive interpretation of AR+LP.

Hey guys, I`m reading OPAR and I came up with 3 important questions that I didn`t really understand.

#1. Universe

Based on what objective fact/observation/line of thoughts does he know enough to claim that the universe is not infinite? As far as i`m concerned, nobody knows that.

Read the first full paragraph of page 5 of OPAR, and see if you still have issues with Existence being finite (a finite aggregate of finite aggregates is finite, no matter how complex, evolutionary, and recursive the structure). Universe exists within Existence, so must be finite if Existence is.

#2. Senses

Having said that, suppose that a certain specie of animal (lets say, a dog) perceive the leaves of a tree to be blue. We, humans, perceive a leaf to be green. The eyes of the dog processes the light differently from the way our eyes perceive it, but what actually IS the color of the leaf and how can we be sure of that? In answer to that, Ayn Rand would say that the quality "color" is not in the object, nor in our mind, but is a product of the interaction between two entities: object and apparatus. Can we conclude then, that in a world without consciousness, or perceivers, all the entities would be colorless? And what would something look like without a color? Suppose that there would be light (coming from a sun), what would the color of the reflection be?

Read the final paragraph of page 2 of OPAR, continuing on to page 3. As stated on page 5 of OPAR, "Existence covers only what is known, implicitly or if not explicitly, by the gamut of the human race". Humans experience a particular electromagnetic variation with their visual sensory apparatus, and label it color. And, if they did not recognize a variation, they wouldn't make up a concept for it. Color is just the human means of identifying a specific range of visual properties. In a world without humans, the human means of noting variations in electromagnetic output in the range accessible to natural human visual function would not exist; however, what leads you to the arbitrary assumption that, without humans to grasp it, the electromagnetic outputs of the surroundings would cease to behave as they seem to, independent of human involvement?

#3. Focus

what would a full awareness state be like when someone is just relaxing and doing nothing? What should someone focus on when there is nothing to focus about? Like... suppose i`m walking home from work, what should I focus on? I don`t know if you guys understood my question, but try to understand it.

"Doing nothing" is a contradiction in terms, eh? Try to be more specific about what you mean here. If you mean, "not producing material value", such as when celebrating by spending material values to raise spiritual values, why would you want to be in less than full focus for the fun stuff? That's usually easy for me to focus on, especially the human interaction side of the equation.

The point is to be wholly committed and natural doing whatever it is you are doing ... not, to dumb yourself down so that mediocre feels natural (THIS DOES NOT WORK, BTW -- as a quick check will convince a rational mind); but to refrain from committing and deciding to do something unless and until you are certain it will be valuable to do, when possible; and dedication to do what is your best rational guess when perfect certainty is unavailable -- and then learn from mistakes/inefficiencies in your methods.

So, you don't have to be producing trade-able values to be in focus; you could just be enjoying yourself, enjoying springtime or what have you, just happy to be alive, breathing, dancing, laughing, etc. -- being human in the fullest sense, celebrating life. But of course, there is a time to produce, you can't celebrate always, that is part of what focusing means ... to know when to change/refine focus is part of the skill.

- ico

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