Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
LoBagola

Galt's speech on the savage who wants you to prove existence

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

When a savage who has not learned to speak declares that existence must be proved, he is asking you to prove it by means of non-existence—when he declares that your consciousness must be proved, he is asking you to prove it by means of unconsciousness—he is asking you to step into a void outside of existence and consciousness to give him proof of both—he is asking you to become a zero gaining knowledge about a zero.

Basically what is said is proving existence is impossible, since proof relies upon the identification and acceptance of these (axioms) primary facts of reality.

However, I don't think a savages question is implicitly asking you to prove it by means of unconsciousness. The section seems like a stylistic thing right? it would be equivalent to saying he is asking you to prove it by means of you turning into a 8 legged frog.

Wasn't sure if to even post this because it's so minor, but I'm just curious if I missed something.

Edited by LoBagola

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure the use of "savage" is rhetorical here since Galt/Rand is targeting postmodernists. She is suggesting that the postmodern rejection of basic axioms for scepticism is on the same intellectual level of the pre-modern rejection of reason for superstition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only way to prove existence is by means of non-existence. Proving existence by means of existence is a circular argument.

Same is true for consciousness. You can't prove consciousness either without relying on the premise that we are conscious of consciousness.

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When a doubter demands 'proof' of consciousness, it must mean that he has implicitly already accepted consciousness.

He's indulging in a tautology, trying to establish a premise (here, an axiom) by means of the same premise.

So the only thing one can conclude is that he wants to step outside of consciousness into non-consciousness.

(See Rand's "Fallacy of the Stolen Concept")

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When a savage who has not learned to speak declares that existence must be proved, he is asking you to prove it by means of non-existence—when he declares that your consciousness must be proved, he is asking you to prove it by means of unconsciousness—he is asking you to step into a void outside of existence and consciousness to give him proof of both—he is asking you to become a zero gaining knowledge about a zero.

Basically what is said is proving existence is impossible, since proof relies upon the identification and acceptance of these (axioms) primary facts of reality.

However, I don't think a savages question is implicitly asking you to prove it by means of unconsciousness. The section seems like a stylistic thing right? it would be equivalent to saying he is asking you to prove it by means of you turning into a 8 legged frog.

Your question seems to be confused. It is not existence that is be proved by unconsciousness, but consciousness.

Anyway, the principle is that you can't use a thing to prove itself because that is circular reasoning. Tautologies are not proofs (even though contradictions are disproofs). Existence and consciousness are validated by directly perceiving them. See validation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure the use of "savage" is rhetorical here since Galt/Rand is targeting postmodernists. She is suggesting that the postmodern rejection of basic axioms for scepticism is on the same intellectual level of the pre-modern rejection of reason for superstition.

Post-modernists are not the only ones who think that existence is inferred, not directly known. There's a long tradition in philosophy of this, from the pre-Socratics all the way up present day analytic philosophers.

Of course, as some already pointed out, this is an argument over the existence of conscious experience. There's less doubt about the transparency of conscious experience in modern philosophy, though it does exist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...