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Thomas M. Miovas Jr.

Kant and Aesthetics

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"An artist need not project the world "as it might and ought to be." That's only Rand's description of what Romanticism does, and art need not be Romantic to qualify as art by Objectivist criteria."

"Naturalism is not just copying what one observes. That's only Rand's personal opinion of what Naturalism is. But, anyway, even if we accept the premise that Naturalism is just copying what one observes, it still would qualify as art according to Objectivism. Rand herself categorized Naturalism as a type of art."

"But you can't know what Larson saw if you haven't personally seen the setup that he staged, or a photo of it, and therefore you don't know how much he may have altered and enhanced in his paintings. I've never seen an artist who did not enhance what he saw in one way or another."

Good heavens, Jonathan -- I'm actually going to agree with you 100% here.

Unless someone copies a photo verbatim, I don't think it's even possible for an artist's personal interpretation to not play a role. Case in point: when my students draw from the nude, they are trying to draw the figure as accurately as possible. They aren't trying to produce a work of art -- they are doing an exercise to train their eyes to "see", and that is the sole purpose. They aren't trying to be creative or self-expressive, as the exercise is just that -- an exercise -- a means, not an end. But every drawing is entirely unique. I can go into the studio after they are finished, and without having seen who was sitting where in relation to the model, I can tell whose drawing I'm looking at by the individual personal stamp that each student puts into his work -- and without even trying to. I saw the same thing time and time again in my own student days.

"And that's also true of what I've seen of Avila's work (I'm now 99% sure that I know who he is)."

Heh....my atelier is one of the ateliers shown at the ARC site -- have you guessed which one?

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Also, I think 13 is mistaken about the entity perceiving senses, since we only have two of those -- sight and touch. The rest of the senses do not give us awareness of entities, but rather what entities sound like or what they smell like or what they taste like; and we do not grasp entities qua entities with ears, nose, and tongue.

Thomas, if I were to wear a blindfold and have friends take me to an auditorium where Leonard Peikoff was giving a speech on aspects of Objectivism, would you say that when I heard and understood his speech and claimed to recognize his distinct voice, I wasn't actually perceiving Peikoff or grasping what he was saying, but was only receiveing chaotic sense data which human minds are not geared toward integrating? But then if I were to take off the blindfold, or leave it on and go up and touch Peikoff's hand, I'd then be perceiving Peikoff and I'd suddenly recognize who he was and grasp what he had been saying?

J

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Thomas,

When we hear the sound that comes from an entity, your position, as stated above, is that we are not actually perceiving the entity or being given awareness of it, but that we are only sensing the mere attribute of "what entities sound like." Well, then the same standard should also apply to our senses of vision and touch: When we look at an entity, we are not actually perceiving the entity or being given awareness of it, but only sensing the mere attribute of "what the entity looks like," and when we touch an entity, we are not actually perceiving the entity or being given awareness of it, but only sensing the mere attribute "what the entity feels like."

So, I have to ask why you're trying to destroy man's consciousness by denying his ability to objectively perceive entities by using his senses, and by asserting that he only senses what mere attributes of entities "are like." Is your goal here to pretend to speak in the name of objectivity, and thus to trick gullible young people into following you in denying the evidence of their senses? Why would you do such a thing?

J

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Leaving disputes about Kant aside for the moment, here's what I'm getting at regarding our senses (and it's the same thing Ayn Rand says in the Romantic Manifesto). We have a wall in the kitchen that has a floral pattern wall paper on it, a wooden rack with nobs is nailed to it, and six cups are hanging from the rack. With the eyes, I can see the cups and their color and shape and that they are made of ceramic and are smooth, the rack is made of wood stained a dark stain, and the floral pattern is easy to recognize with bright colors and large flowers. With a blindfold on and feeling around, I can find the cups, the rack, and the wall; but I wouldn't be able to tell there was a floral pattern on the wall -- I might be able to detect the seams of the wall paper and tell it has wall paper on it, but not the floral pattern. So, the fact that there are cups on the wall and a rack (entities) is given via sight and touch. With sound, if I had a very highly tuned set of ears and echolocation capabilities, I could probably tell there was a wall in front of me and maybe that it wasn't entirely flat. And as far as I can tell from blind people who have echolocation capabilities, they cannot pick up individual entities via sounds they make with their mouth or some sort of sonic broadcaster. The human ears and nervous system are simply not geared towards picking up entities via sounds bouncing off them in that way. On the other hand a bat and a dolphin could pick up the individual cups and maybe even the rack using echolocation -- but it is not a skill that man has because his ears and nervous system are not built with that type of accuracy on receiving sounds. You couldn't smell the difference between cups and rack (well maybe if the rack had varnish on it and it gave off an odor), but otherwise, the sense of smell will not give you the cups or the rack and certainly not the floral design. Taste might give you a slight difference between the items, but that would mostly be picked up by the tactile sensors on the tongue (like your skin) but not taste per se.

The point is that one is not aware of entities qua entity (shape, texture at a minimum) using the sense of smell, taste and hearing.

So, the arts geared towards the different senses are not all their to convey an entity and its attributes (shape, size, texture, etc.). You only get entities and their attributes via sight and touch. The rest of the sense are not geared towards identifying entities qua entity. Yes, you can distinguish one person's voice from another with the sound they make when they talk, but it doesn't tell you what type of entity is making the noise in terms of shape, texture, and size.

Now, what is the difference here between Objectivism and Kant? Objectivism states that the senses are accurate and that they give us the world the way it really is -- that the objects interact with our senses and make it possible for us to see them and feel them the way they actually are. Kant would say that attributes like size, texture, and shape are aspects of human consciousness and are not attributes of the objects -- this was his Copernican Revolution, that the senses do not give us information about what is out there, but rather information about our pre-structured minds and innate aprior ideas that gives us shape, texture and size. Objectivism rejects Kant due to his primacy of consciousness approach, and instead asserts a primacy of existence approach and that we observe existence as it is via our senses.

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13 started off talking about echolocation and claiming man could identify entities by echolocation, which is why I did not include the following observations:

Added on edit: We can certainly distinguish things by the sounds they make – a bell ringing versus a bird chirping versus a man talking, but these are noises the entity is making and do not give attributes like shape, size, and texture. The term “entity” is developed by means of that which we can hold in our hand and look at, like a baseball, a cup, a pencil, something that is distinct qua entity. Afterwards, the concept of entity can be expanded to include something like a building, a planet, or a galaxy or a molecule or an electron. But the term entity must first be developed by that which we can grasp through sight and touch on a human immediately graspable level to distinguish it from something else; something that is separable from other entities.

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I found some interesting articles on human echolocation, including claims that some details can be picked up from human echolocation, and one man who has taught up to 500 blind people how to echolocate using either their mouth making noises or by tapping on the ground using their cane. Reports vary as to how accurate it is and if entities can really be observed using echolocation in man, so I would have to see an actual scientific study and not just Wikipedia. Unfortunately, most of those are in PDF format, making it difficult to search for key words. Reports are, however, that it has to be a rather large object, like a tree, a pole, or a car. Studies have been made of blindfolded sighted people and echolocation giving some information that the visual cortex is involved in processing the information (the visual cortex is our largest and most complex processor in the brain). However, from my brief reading, I don't know that it is possible to echolocate something like six cups hanging on the wall, to go back to my example.

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A brief follow-upon my understanding of Kant: If one holds a baseball in one's hand, one can see and feel the shape, the texture, the size, and the fact that it has large seams running along it. In Objectivism, this ability is recognized as the ability to be aware of entities though in a human-mode form. In other words, we see with our eyes and feel with our hands, and these modes can be distinguished from one another, giving rise to what Objectivists call "perceptual form." We are aware of the entities that we are aware of directly, though it is dependent on our mode of perception, but it is actual attributes of the entity. In Kant, he reverses this in his "Copernican Revolution". Instead of saying we are aware of the baseball as the real thing, he says there might be something out there but since the mode of awareness is dependent on us being human, it is only that way (the appearance) due to the human mode of perception. Therefore, the baseball-in-itself (the noumenal baseball) probably doesn't even have seams or shape or texture and may not be round -- these are just aspects of how the baseball appears to us, but has no definite relationship between the real thing and what we observe it to be.

Relating this back to art, if Objectivism is right, this leads to paintings that are filled with depicted entities; if Kant is right, then it leads to paintings that are not filled with depicted entities, due to the fact that entity perception is just a mind-generated illusion.

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Leaving disputes about Kant aside for the moment, here's what I'm getting at regarding our senses (and it's the same thing Ayn Rand says in the Romantic Manifesto). We have a wall in the kitchen that has a floral pattern wall paper on it, a wooden rack with nobs is nailed to it, and six cups are hanging from the rack. With the eyes, I can see the cups and their color and shape and that they are made of ceramic and are smooth, the rack is made of wood stained a dark stain, and the floral pattern is easy to recognize with bright colors and large flowers. With a blindfold on and feeling around, I can find the cups, the rack, and the wall; but I wouldn't be able to tell there was a floral pattern on the wall -- I might be able to detect the seams of the wall paper and tell it has wall paper on it, but not the floral pattern. So, the fact that there are cups on the wall and a rack (entities) is given via sight and touch. With sound, if I had a very highly tuned set of ears and echolocation capabilities, I could probably tell there was a wall in front of me and maybe that it wasn't entirely flat. And as far as I can tell from blind people who have echolocation capabilities, they cannot pick up individual entities via sounds they make with their mouth or some sort of sonic broadcaster. The human ears and nervous system are simply not geared towards picking up entities via sounds bouncing off them in that way.

Human ears are sufficient for grasping entities via sounds bouncing off them. Our auditory abilities are not as refined as our visual ones, but that's irrelevant. By Rand's formulation, all we have to do is to be aware of entities. We don't need to be able to perceive every detail.

Besides, sound or light bouncing off an entity is not the only means of our perceiving it. The entity can also emit sound or light. We can perceive the object by hearing it, as well as its frictional (and therefore auditory) interactions with other entities.

We can perceive characteristics about objects though hearing that we can't perceive through our vision. Just as we cannot hear the visual pattern of wallpaper (as you mention above), we cannot see the mass and density of a train engine moving past us, where we can hear it via its deep bass rumble, and we cannot see the lack of mass and density in a paper mache train engine (made to look like a real one), but we can hear it via its faint, high pitch and lack of bass rumble.

The Objectivist definition of "perception" is: "A group of sensations automatically retained and integrated by the brain of a living organism, which gives it the ability to be aware, not of single stimuli, but of entities, of things."

All of the senses allow us to be aware of entities.

As Peikoff wrote in OPAR, "All sense perceptions are necessarily valid. If an individual of any species perceives at all, then, no matter what its organs or forms of perception, it perceives somthing that is."

That's what he wrote. And if he were to say the same thing, and we were to hear him say it, we would be perceiving him saying it.

The point is that one is not aware of entities qua entity (shape, texture at a minimum) using the sense of smell, taste and hearing.

Shape and texture are not the "entity qua entity." You don't get to choose which of the entity's characteristics are "qua" its essense or nature, just as you don't get to choose the degree or resolution of detail that one must perceive in order for one's perceptions to count as perceptions.

So, the arts geared towards the different senses are not all their to convey an entity and its attributes (shape, size, texture, etc.). You only get entities and their attributes via sight and touch. The rest of the sense are not geared towards identifying entities qua entity. Yes, you can distinguish one person's voice from another with the sound they make when they talk, but it doesn't tell you what type of entity is making the noise in terms of shape, texture, and size.

So, I take it then that you've never listened to a radio play or an audio book? When listening to a television program with your eyes closed, can't you tell the difference between the types of entities that you hear? I can.

Also, when looking at something, one can't necessarily tell for certain what type of entity that one is looking at. It is, after all, possible to "fool the eye" with optical illusions. The same is true with the sense of touch. Therefore, using the standards that you use to deny non-visual and non-tactile sense perception, vision and touch are also fallible and imprecise and incapable of perceiving entities qua entities.

J

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Relating this back to art, if Objectivism is right, this leads to paintings that are filled with depicted entities; if Kant is right, then it leads to paintings that are not filled with depicted entities, due to the fact that entity perception is just a mind-generated illusion.

Thomas, you're not going to understand Kant any better by ignoring the quotes of him that I've provided, or the patient explanations that I've given of how you've misinterpreted him, or the links that I've provided to information which refutes your uninformed opinions. You're not going to convince anyone of anything by stamping your foot at reality and repeating your falsehoods. Kant was not the demon that you need him to be.

J

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Quoting Ayn Rand from "Art and Cognition" in The Romantic Manifesto:

"The development of human cognition starts with the ability to perceive things, i.e., entities. Of man's five cognitive senses, only two provide him with a direct awareness of entities: sight and touch. The other three senses—hearing, taste and smell—give him an awareness of some of an entity's attributes (or of the consequences produced by an entity): they tell him that something makes sounds, or something tastes sweet, or something smells fresh; but in order to perceive this something, he needs sight and/or touch.

"The concept "entity" is (implicitly) the start of man's conceptual development and the building-block of his entire conceptual structure. It is by perceiving entities that man perceives the universe. And in order to concretize his view of existence, it is by means of concepts (language) or by means of his entity-perceiving senses (sight and touch) that he has to do It."

And she goes on to explain how music and other arts not based on sight and touch do qualify for grounds in the arts.

As to your continued support for Kant, if you read him directly and provided quotes from him directly that supported your side, as I have provided to support my side, this whole episode of you covering for him would be over. Because he never ever claimed that the senses were valid for observing that which actually exists; perception only covers the phenomena not the noumena, and the phenomena is not real reality according to Kant.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.

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Speaking of which, here is an extended quote from Britannica online regarding Kant's philosophical distinction between phenomena and noumena:

Phenomena and Noumena

"Having seen Kant's transcendental deduction of the categories as pure concepts of the understanding applicable a priori to every possible experience, we might naturally wish to ask the further question whether these regulative principles are really true. Are there substances? Does every event have a cause? Do all things interact? Given that we must suppose them in order to have any experience, do they obtain in the world itself? To these further questions, Kant firmly refused to offer any answer.

"According to Kant, it is vital always to distinguish between the distinct realms of phenomena and noumena. Phenomena are the appearances, which constitute the our experience; noumena are the (presumed) things themselves, which constitute reality. All of our synthetic a priori judgments apply only to the phenomenal realm, not the noumenal. (It is only at this level, with respect to what we can experience, that we are justified in imposing the structure of our concepts onto the objects of our knowledge.) Since the thing in itself (Ding an sich) would by definition be entirely independent of our experience of it, we are utterly ignorant of the noumenal realm.

"Thus, on Kant's view, the most fundamental laws of nature, like the truths of mathematics, are knowable precisely because they make no effort to describe the world as it really is but rather prescribe the structure of the world as we experience it. By applying the pure forms of sensible intuition and the pure concepts of the understanding, we achieve a systematic view of the phenomenal realm but learn nothing of the noumenal realm. Math and science are certainly true of the phenomena; only metaphysics claims to instruct us about the noumena."

And from my own personal reading of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, I have to agree with this assessment.

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Hi Thomas,

Which translation of KrV do you have? I strongly urge getting one of the two fairly recent translations—the one by Pluhar or the one by Guyer—if you don’t have one of them already. I like Pluhar’s a lot. I had studied out of Kemp Smith about twenty-five years, but the switch to Pluhar was so worth it. So much help all along the way.

Concerning #230 and #234: I wanted to mention that the realm of appearance, or the phenomenal realm, is not a realm of systematic illusion in Kant’s conception of it. And contrary to the excerpt from the Britannica article, the phenomenal realm is in no way unreal, not a bit less real than the noumenal realm. Kant loves the phenomenal realm; he loves its objectivity and intelligibility; he loves is objects and its spatial, temporal, and causal structure. In KrV think of the “Second Analogy of Experience” section, think of his “Refutation of Idealism” section in the B edition. Yes, Kant was horribly mistaken in thinking that the fundamental structures and unities in the “phenomenal realm” come from the constitution of the human mind. But in attributing way too much to the side of the subject, he was not thinking of it as subjective in the negative sense of non-objective. In fact, he has so much determination in the phenomenal realm (in physics specifically) that he ends up with another tragic mistake: he thinks there is no place left in the phenomenal realm for free will.

Peikoff told a good joke I recall. After he had made his presentation of Kant’s philosophy in his history of philosophy lectures, one question he got was why didn’t Kant just dispense with the noumenal realm altogether. Peikoff quip: “Because Kant had big plans for the noumenal realm.” He then went on to explain Kant’s thinking on why he needed to retain the shadowy noumenal realm in his Kant’s total scheme of accounting for the phenomenal, experienced realm.

I would caution against noumenal baseballs. That goes too Plato for Kant. I’d keep the noumenal behind the baseball in hand vague, indeterminate, and nameless.

Now you probably know about Kant’s big plans for the noumenal realm (in KrV and beyond). One thing in that haven from the phenomenal realm was free will. This was Kant’s way of protecting free will against a mistaken total-determinism in the picture of physics. He had a couple of other valuables to stow in that haven as well.

Stephen

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Thomas,

By your theory, do we perceive gases when we can smell them but not see them? Are gases not entities?

If shape is the essence of all entities qua entities, what is the shape of air, or of water?

If you were to see but not smell a small puddle of clear liquid and conclude that it was water, but I were to smell but not see it and conclude that it was gasoline, are you seriously suggesting that you believe that you would have perceived the entity because you saw it, but I only sensed it because I smelled it (even thought I've much more accurately identified what it is than you have)?

Quoting Ayn Rand from "Art and Cognition" in The Romantic Manifesto:

"The development of human cognition starts with the ability to perceive things, i.e., entities. Of man's five cognitive senses, only two provide him with a direct awareness of entities: sight and touch. The other three senses—hearing, taste and smell—give him an awareness of some of an entity's attributes (or of the consequences produced by an entity): they tell him that something makes sounds, or something tastes sweet, or something smells fresh; but in order to perceive this something, he needs sight and/or touch.

"The concept "entity" is (implicitly) the start of man's conceptual development and the building-block of his entire conceptual structure. It is by perceiving entities that man perceives the universe. And in order to concretize his view of existence, it is by means of concepts (language) or by means of his entity-perceiving senses (sight and touch) that he has to do It."

Yeah, I'm aware of the mistaken views that Rand had on epistemology while writing about aesthetics prior to more fully devoloping her views on epistemology. You'll notice that in her later work she doesn't repeat the mistake, but instead says the opposite.

For example:

Prof. C [Nick Bykovetz]: I have a question about the primary-secondary quality distinction quality discussion. A quality like bitterness is not an attribute of an object, but it is caused by an attribute. At least I would be tempted to say that.

AR: I would not accept the distinction of primary and secondary qualities, because it leads you into enormous pitfalls. It is not a valid distinction.

We perceive light vibrations as color. Therefore you would say that color is not in the object. The object absorbs certain parts of the spectrum and reflects others, and we perceive that fact of reality by means of the structure of the eye. But the ask yourself: don't we perceive all the attributes by our means of perception -- including length? Everything we perceive is the result of our processing, which is not arbitrary or subjective.

The primary-secondary quality distinction is a long philosophical tradition which I deny totally. Because there isn't a single aspect, including length or spatial extension, which is perceived by us without means of perception. Everything we perceive is perceived by some means.

Prof C: Would you put taste and smell in the identical category of length?

AR: All of them. Because they would be different forms of the way your particular sensory apparatus works in order to grasp something. Consider taste. It relates to the way your particular nerve ends react to certain chemicals or certain components of the things which you eat. Tastes as such do not exist apart from your sensory apparatus. But that which arouses a certain sensation of taste in you, does it not?

Prof. C: Yes, of course. But I would not claim that the object has the particular taste. I would say that the taste is an effect of the object.

AR: Certain elements in the object, when they strike your taste apparatus, your nerve endings, produce a certain sensation. Now take length. how do you become awar of length, which is usually taken as a primary quality? Are your eyes involved?

Prof C: Yes.

AR: What else? You perceive the attribute by means of your eyes, but you can also perceive it by means of touch. And both these enter your mind as certain sensations conveyed by certain kinds of nerve ending in response to certain stimuli. Therefore, if you say that taste is a "secondary quality" but length is a "primary" one, you are open to the same criticism. The primary-secondary distinction in fact starts from the idea that that which we perceive by some specific mean is somehow not objective.

And she goes on to explain how music and other arts not based on sight and touch do qualify for grounds in the arts.

No, Rand did not explain how that which does not have an objective "conceptual vocabulary" can qualify as art. She merely asserted that it was art, and she merely asserted that some day someone will discover objective grounds upon which it will qualify as art.

Her hopes and predictions for the future are no more valid than anyone else's. They are not relevant to philosophy.

As to your continued support for Kant, if you read him directly and provided quotes from him directly that supported your side, as I have provided to support my side, this whole episode of you covering for him would be over.

As I've said repeatedly, I'm not "supporting" Kant or "covering for him." I'm rejecting your falsehoods.

J

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"And that's also true of what I've seen of Avila's work (I'm now 99% sure that I know who he is)."

Jonathan, you mentioned seeing my paintings next to what I am painting from. That isn't me --- there aren't any pictures like that of my work on that site. Scout's honor. So you've got the wrong guy.

My atelier is listed on that site as well.

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"And that's also true of what I've seen of Avila's work (I'm now 99% sure that I know who he is)."

Jonathan, you mentioned seeing my paintings next to what I am painting from. That isn't me --- there aren't any pictures like that of my work on that site. Scout's honor. So you've got the wrong guy.

My atelier is listed on that site as well.

I didn't say that any of the pictures that I saw were on that site.

J

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13 misinterprets what I said. I was not making the claim that some attributes or some aspects of what we observe is primary or secondary. All the information we receive via the senses is objective, and none are more valid than the other. And I think he is misinterpreting that segment from The Romantic Manifesto that I quoted, as she was not referring to primary or secondary qualities there either. Yes, insofar as an entity makes a noise, it made a noise -- A is A for all of the senses. But there is a distinction between holding something in your hand, like a baseball, and feeling it as one thing in your hand, and looking at it and seeing the entity; versus hearing the noise it makes when a bat strikes it. If you just heard the noise (without seeing the action) and was not previously aware of what a baseball was, the noise would not tell you what entity it is, just that something made a noise. You could infer that the noise was made by an entity, since there are not disembodied noises, but it would not tell you that it was a baseball qua entity -- qua something that you could hold in your hand. Likewise, in certain parts of the country, great noises can be heard at dusk and at night. Without seeing what is making the noise, you can infer that something definite is making the noise, but the sound in and of itself will not tell you that it is a cicada and that it is a bug. You don't know that until you see it and hold it in your hand. This is not a primary secondary category, just the simple facts that the human ear does not integrate the data together in such a way that you can tell it is a cicada if you don't know anything about it other than hearing the sound and not previously having identified that which is making the noise is a bug.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.

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"I didn't say that any of the pictures that I saw were on that site."

There aren't any pictures such as you describe -- my work next to what I'm working from -- on any site.

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I would caution against noumenal baseballs. That goes too Plato for Kant. I’d keep the noumenal behind the baseball in hand vague, indeterminate, and nameless.

This has been my point all along regarding the noumena being the real thing, but left vague and undefined (contrary to Plato who had a definite vision for the world of the Forms). If the noumena baseball is ungraspable by man, then one could paint a baseball game by having a lot of smears on canvas and calling it "Home Run" or some such trash, because anything goes if a baseball is not really a small white ball with a red seam that is used in a game and everything else we actually know about a baseball.

But I do strongly disagree that it is a translation problem. And, no, I don't think Kant loved the phenomena world -- the world of the senses. I think he despised reason and wanted to destroy the human capacity to reason, since reasoning from the facts given via perception is not true reasoning, according to him. If Pure Reason is that which is totally separated from that which we observe, whatever the hell that means, then he is saying that rationalism writ high is far superior to any practical application of reason, including a philosophy like Aristotelianism and Objectivism which are concerned with practical matters,like living one's own life.

Edited to add "abstract image" of softball.

DGBYG00Z.jpg

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.

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13 misinterprets what I said. I was not making the claim that some attributes or some aspects of what we observe is primary or secondary.

You've been claiming that shape -- length, width and depth -- is the primary attribute of all entities. You've been claiming that we do not perceive an entity with our senses of hearing, taste and smell. Your position is that since one cannot see with one's ears, mouth or nose, one is not perceiving entities with those organs.

And, by the way, it's not true that we cannot perceive shape with our sense of hearing. We just can't do it as well as we can with our eyes. For example, as a train rolls past us, and we hear its engines, as well as its wheels, the creaking of its cars' frames, the expanding and contracting of its knuckle couplers, etc., it's quite easy to perceive the train's general height and width, as well as its great length.

All the information we receive via the senses is objective, and none are more valid than the other. And I think he is misinterpreting that segment from The Romantic Manifesto that I quoted, as she was not referring to primary or secondary qualities there either. Yes, insofar as an entity makes a noise, it made a noise -- A is A for all of the senses. But there is a distinction between holding something in your hand, like a baseball, and feeling it as one thing in your hand, and looking at it and seeing the entity; versus hearing the noise it makes when a bat strikes it. If you just heard the noise (without seeing the action) and was not previously aware of what a baseball was, the noise would not tell you what entity it is, just that something made a noise.

One need not have all possible sensory information about an entity to perceive it. A person who is blind and has no tactile sense would definitely have a much more limited perception of what most entities are compared to a person who had all of his senses, but that doesn't make his perceptions of the entities non-perceptions of the entities.

Imagine a being which had many more senses than we do. Let's say that he could see a much larger range of the electromagnetic spectrum, and, through senses that we don't have, he could distantly sense any entity's entire chemical composition (similar to how we see different colors, he'd "see" different chemicals), its radioactivity, its heat, density and internal structure (like x-ray vision), as well as its electrical charge/flow/resistance, etc. Such a being would have a much more advanced and detailed perception of entities than we do, and would think that your notion of mere shape being the essence of the "entity qua entity" to be comically lacking. We would be as limited to him as a person who lacks vision and touch is to us. If he were to say that our limited senses are not exposing us to what the entity is -- that the human senses do not allow us to know anything about it other than its mere shape and texture -- he'd be as wrong as you are when claiming that we do not perceive objects with our hearing.

This is not a primary secondary category, just the simple facts that the human ear does not integrate the data together in such a way that you can tell it is a cicada if you don't know anything about it other than hearing the sound and not previously having identified that which is making the noise is a bug.

It's not true that a person who was using only hearing could not integrate the data in such a way as to tell that a cicada is a cicada. He would simply have a more limted perception and understading of what a cicada is than we do, just as we would have a more limited perception of a cicada than the hypothetical entity with additional senses that I've discribed above.

J

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"I didn't say that any of the pictures that I saw were on that site."

There aren't any pictures such as you describe -- my work next to what I'm working from -- on any site.

Hi Avila,

I had responded to your post above by borrowing something that you had said to me in this post, but the moderators deleted my post. For some reason I'm not allowed to say to you exactly what you've said to me. Apparently it's perfectly reasonable when you call me a liar by claiming to know better than I do which techniques I used when painting an image that you did not see me paint, but it's viciously insulting when I take the same approach to your assertions about who you are or are not.

J

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Avila,

I've been looking at a lot of Classical Realism online lately, and was wondering if you could tell me if the use of proper perspective is generally considered to be a "mechanical aid" or "cheating"? I've noticed a lot of quite sloppy perspective in paintings created by people who have attended Classical Realist ateliers, and I thought that it was odd because those who have been bitten by the Classical Realistic bug seem to place a lot of importance on skill and precision. Is it kind of looked down upon for artists to plot out a scene rather than eye-balling it? If so, it's really surprising to me that people who so publicly and vocally pride themselves on their craftsmanship would intentionally avoid properly using the classical, traditional knowledge of perspective.

I've got to say that taking a closer look at the Classical Realist ateliers online has been pretty interesting. In some ways it's like visiting an Amish community.

J

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"Hi Avila,

I had responded to your post above by borrowing something that you had said to me in this post, but the moderators deleted my post. For some reason I'm not allowed to say to you exactly what you've said to me. Apparently it's perfectly reasonable when you call me a liar by claiming to know better than I do which techniques I used when painting an image that you did not see me paint, but it's viciously insulting when I take the same approach to your assertions about who you are or are not."

There's a difference: you might have reason to be defensive about relying on photography for your paintings (again, not inherently a problem, as long as the artist knows the differences between how the eye and how the camera views things, otherwise there are characteristics that appear -- which I see in your work). I have no reason to be defensive about your speculation about my work -- I am only pointing out that you have the wrong guy, as I don't have photos of the kind you mention anywhere online. Since I have no idea who it was that you thought I was, I have no reason to be defensive. So the moderators correctly saw your response as unnecessarily hostile.

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There's a difference: you might have reason to be defensive about relying on photography for your paintings (again, not inherently a problem, as long as the artist knows the differences between how the eye and how the camera views things, otherwise there are characteristics that appear -- which I see in your work).

Which characteristics? Are you still referring to my intentional use of absolute black in areas which you assume would be absolute black in photos that you would take of the scene that I painted? You're still assuming that I must be as inept at photography as you are, and therefore I'm lying and being "defensive" when I tell you that I did not copy a photograph? Hilarious.

I have no reason to be defensive about your speculation about my work -- I am only pointing out that you have the wrong guy, as I don't have photos of the kind you mention anywhere online. Since I have no idea who it was that you thought I was, I have no reason to be defensive. So the moderators correctly saw your response as unnecessarily hostile.

My speculations about who you are no less speculative than your speculations about me and the methods that I've used to create my art. My not believing your assertions is no different than your not believing mine. And I do think that you probably have reason to be defensive about my speculations. As I said earlier, if you're who I think you are, I understand why you won't post samples of your work. Revealing the content of your art and your level of talent would not be helpful to your posing as an authority.

J

Edited by Jonathan13

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I stand by the distinction that Ayn Rand made in The Romantic Manifesto; and neither she nor I are making a primary / secondary distinction. An entity is everything that it is, there is no aspect of it that is primary versus others that are secondary. The important thing to realize is that we are aware of existence and that existence is composed of entities -- things -- and that the visual arts must be geared towards depicting entities -- things -- rather than smears on canvas, because being aware of entities is how we are aware of existence. We are not aware of existence in terms of smears of colors.

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