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How We Know: Epistemology on an Objectivist Foundation

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ARI's plug.

 

This work contains much original material, presenting Dr. Binswanger’s theories on many topics — e.g., sensationalism, representationalism vs. direct realism, measurement-proximity and measurement-integration, abstraction as interrelation, concepts of characteristics, the nature and cognitive role of propositions, the fallacy of “pure self-reference,” the ad ignorantiam fallacy, the nature of fundamentality, the “primacy of perception,” and the “Prose Principle.”

 

The book is addressed to the intelligent layman and presupposes no prior knowledge of Objectivism.

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Papers/articles/essays are one thing, but a whole self-published book not even self-published on Amazon, and being an academic topic no less, comes across as pure quackery. "Fringe" intellectualism is something to avoid.

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Consider Corvini's distinction when it comes to the difference between measurement omission, with regard to most concepts, as opposed to concepts of number, where she points out that every instance of the number 3 is exactly the same (identical).
 
From the online book, The Nature of Knowledge (Introduction):

(Taken from Basic Principles of Ontology, about half-way down)

Corollary 2: The Necessity of Difference Anything that exists must be different in some way from everything else that exists. No two things can be identical.

"Since it is an existent's qualities that determine what an existent is, if existents are different (which they must be) they must have at least one quality which is different."

 

Measurement (Taken from Cause, Induction and Mathematics, about half-way down)

When counting entities, counting is absolute. If there are thirty seven entities, counting will tell you exactly how many there are, that is, 37—and there are 37, absolutely.

 

Counting is a form of measurement. Two different counts of 37 are exact, or identical (even especially after measurement omission.) According to Miss Rand:

The building-block of man's knowledge is the concept of an "existent"—of something that exists, be it a thing, an attribute or an action.

 

Number is the relationship of a group to one of its members taken as a unit. Each instance of "3" is exactly the same. Bear in mind that two instances of three may occur in two different locations. Location, however, is not the same existent as quantity.

 

Edited: former, later.

Edited by dream_weaver

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Consider Corvini's distinction when it comes to the difference between measurement omission, with regard to most concepts, as opposed to concepts of number, where she points out that every instance of the number 3 is exactly the same (identical).

 

From the online book, The Nature of Knowledge (Introduction):

(Taken from Basic Principles of Ontology, about half-way down)

Corollary 2: The Necessity of Difference Anything that exists must be different in some way from everything else that exists. No two things can be identical.

"Since it is an existent's qualities that determine what an existent is, if existents are different (which they must be) they must have at least one quality which is different."

 

Measurement (Taken from Cause, Induction and Mathematics, about half-way down)

When counting entities, counting is absolute. If there are thirty seven entities, counting will tell you exactly how many there are, that is, 37—and there are 37, absolutely.

 

Counting is a form of measurement. Two different counts of 37 are exact, or identical (even especially after measurement omission.) According to Miss Rand:

The building-block of man's knowledge is the concept of an "existent"—of something that exists, be it a thing, an attribute or an action.

 

Number is the relationship of a group to one of its members taken as a unit. Each instance of "3" is exactly the same. Bear in mind that two instances of three may occur in two different locations. Location, however, is not the same existent as quantity.

 

Edited: former, later.

Ontology is a branch of metaphysics and concerns the identification of that which exists independently of anyone's knowledge or awareness. Independently of does not mean separate from, it means whether or not anyone has any knowledge or awareness of it.

 

Numbers and measurements do not exist independently of human minds. They are "existents," but as Ayn Rand said they are "mental" existents, not metaphysical existents. "Mental" existents are an epistemological issue, not a metaphysical one.

 

Your observation of the identicalness of numbers is valid as concerns concepts. It is valid of all concepts. The concept "water" is identical with all concepts of water, just as all concepts of three are identical. Whatever is metaphysically identified by a concept must be different in some way from all other things identified by the same concept. If there were no difference at all, they would not be more than one thing. Everything identified as water must be different some way from all other things identified as water else they would be the same water. All things identified as three must be different in some way from all others things identified as three for the same reason.

 

To use your example: all collections identified as 37 are identified by the same (or identical) concept, but all actual collections must be different from all other such collections in some way, and every individual item of the 37 must be different from every other item of the collection, else there would not be 37.

 

I'm not trying to convince you to see this as I do, only explaining what was intended. I think your question is a very good one, and I appreciate it.

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To my remarks on Binswanger’s book How We Know in #23, I would like to join the following ones:

 

2/14/14


 The measurement account of similarity and comparative similarity showcased by Rand, then her theory of concepts as by measurement omissions are covered on pages 110–28. Binswanger counts ordinal rankings as a form of measurement, like Rand, and like I with Suppes et al., . . . Binswanger uses my well-known physical example of scratch-hardness for his illustration of ordinal measurement. There is here no sophisticated treatment of measurement, such as the JARS writings by me . . .  on measurement and its incorporation into Rand’s theory of concepts. That’s not the level at which the book is pitched.

 

Use of the physical example of scratch-hardness speaks an understanding of ordinal measurement an inch improved over Rand’s understanding back in the day; she was stuck on mentality and valuation as sole realm of ordinal scaling. Binswanger does not continue, as I did not continue, Rand’s presumption that with enough understanding, all measurement of a magnitude can be brought under ratio-scaling; that use of other scaling is a reflection only of our ignorance. However, Binswanger does not go so far as to adopt my 2004 embrace of there being different types of magnitude structures to which scales must be appropriate. . . . 

 

 

11/11/14


. . .

[David Kelley] mentioned a difference with Rand on relation of sensations to percepts in ES . . . Is this the same difference with Rand that Binswanger has taken in this area in HWK, called out in footnote? (By my lights, Rand was right and HB wrong on this; he should have assimilated Treisman's preattentive elements of visual perception, research since Rand, to be sure.)

 

That footnote is on page 64 of HWK.

 

1/18/15


. . .

In his 2014 How We Know, Harry Binswanger has a section on “The Three Laws of Logic.” He refers to Aristotle as being the one who “identified the Law of Non-Contradiction, stating that it is the basic principle of all knowledge” (192). He does not claim Aristotle saw it as the basic principle of deductive inference. He notes of the Law of Non-Contradiction and the Law of Excluded Middle, as had Branden and Peikoff, that they stem from the law of identity, and he indicates that this is thought beyond the vista reached by Aristotle. “Later Aristotelians recognized that both these laws stem from the axiom of identity: ‘A is A.’ A thing is what it is” (193). Yes, but until you Objectivists, I’m not sure any really got there all the way. Dr. Binswanger exhibits in this section a fine appreciation of the ways in which identity, in Rand’s full sense, enters into that elementary syllogistic inference to the mortality of Socrates.

 

 

To the bit of personal smallness in HWK that I noted in #23, another may be noted on page 84. Binswanger mentions a point nicely illustrated in Nathaniel Branden’s lecture series The Basic Principles of Objectivism (which discussion can be found on pages 48–49 of The Vision of Ayn Rand; cf. the ruminations in Locke’s Essay II.23.11–13). When Binswanger gives credit for the illustration by a footnote, on page 84, he writes not that Mr. Branden gave those lectures (as Dr. Peikoff was later to give the lectures The Philosophy of Objectivism), but: “This example was given by Ayn Rand in the second lecture of the series ‘Basic Principles of Objectivism’.” I’m very familiar from not so long ago with people who wanted me socially obliterated because I was a gay man, wanted me dead, then again socially obliterated. How’s that working out?

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.

There is a stimulating substantive review of Harry Binswanger's How We Know in the July 2018 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. The review is 41 pages. The author is Robert L. Campbell, and he brings to this artful engagement wide acquaintance with the theoretical philosophy of Ayn Rand as well as his knowledge of pertinent cognitive psychology, which is his profession.

http://www.aynrandstudies.com/Subscriptions.html

 

Edited by Boydstun

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45 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

.There is a stimulating substantive review of Harry Binswanger's How We Know in the July 2018 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. The review is 41 pages. The author is Robert L. Campbell, and he brings to this artful engagement wide acquaintance with the theoretical philosophy of Ayn Rand as well as his knowledge of pertinent cognitive psychology, which is his profession.

http://www.aynrandstudies.com/Subscriptions.html

The abstract says:

"How We Know is intended as a summary (and a modest extension) of Objectivist epistemology. Binswanger's treatment of a wide range of epistemological issues is examined. Because his theory of propositions is inadequate and his philosophy of mind is an extreme form of dualism, Binswanger has added little to previous efforts by "official" Objectivists. As a work of epistemology in the broad sense, Binswanger's effort is fatally impaired. It is undone by his bifurcation between consciousness and the physics of the brain, which, if accepted, would largely deprive psychology and even computer science of their subject matter."

I definitely need to read this review. Thanks.

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41 minutes ago, William O said:

The abstract says:

"How We Know is intended as a summary (and a modest extension) of Objectivist epistemology. Binswanger's treatment of a wide range of epistemological issues is examined. Because his theory of propositions is inadequate and his philosophy of mind is an extreme form of dualism, Binswanger has added little to previous efforts by "official" Objectivists. As a work of epistemology in the broad sense, Binswanger's effort is fatally impaired. It is undone by his bifurcation between consciousness and the physics of the brain, which, if accepted, would largely deprive psychology and even computer science of their subject matter."

I definitely need to read this review. Thanks.

I noted the dualism on my reading.  I found it arbitrary at worst and a complete violation of Rand's Razor at best.

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