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Vik

quantitative "threshold"

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19 hours ago, Plasmatic said:

Only time for this:

Vic said:

 

 

Seriously? Yes it does!

 

 

 

to which she said "certainly"

Bricks are perceptible but the question is about the imperceptible constituents being granted the metaphysical status of entities. 

She answered that it is possible for an entity to be composed of constituents which are themselves also entities.  That does NOT say whether there are imperceptible entities. 

And seconds later, she said that an entity is that which you perceive and which can exist by itself.

 

As for her remarks on ultimate constituents, I think you should look over these:

Pg. 291:

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If you use macroscopic terms which do not apply on that level, the misapplication will destroy all your perceptual level and your whole conceptual structure.

Pg. 293:

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You cannot say philosophically what conditions you will ascribe to that which is not known. We cannot know by what means we will grasp something not known today. A hundred years ago you couldn’t have conceived of the cloud chamber, the first instrument by which scientists could observe atoms simply by observing their effects on something. You couldn’t have made the rule that unless you can touch, see, smell, and measure a given entity with a ruler, it cannot exist. That would have been crude materialism of some kind. You couldn’t, a hundred years ago, have prescribed the means by which you would discover twentieth-century knowledge. And yet in making any kind of conclusions about the ultimate stuff of the universe, you are necessarily committing that error. You are prescribing conditions of what something not known to you now has to be.

 

In the face of that, what do you now think she's saying below?

pg. 264:

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For example, is it in principle possible for a perceptual entity to be composed of constituents which are metaphysically themselves also entities, such as a brick wall with the individual bricks also retaining their status as entities?

AR: Certainly. What about human beings? Heads, arms, and legs can be cut off and they are entities. But I was speaking here in the context of entity as against attribute or action. Actually, I was speaking here in the Aristotelian sense of the primary “substance”—which is a very misleading term, but what he meant was that the primary existent is an entity. And then aspects of an entity can be identified mentally, but only in relation to the entity. There are no attributes without entities, there are no actions without entities.

An entity is that which you perceive and which can exist by itself. Characteristics, qualities, attributes, actions, relationships do not exist by themselves.

 

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Vik said:

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In the face of that, what do you now think she's saying below?

It's much worse than you think Vik. I have been up and down every thing she and Dr. Peikoff have said on this topic and the whole topic is afflicted with frustrating language. In the end It's actually a very simple determination.

Take Prof. K's question. He mentions her earlier statement about "perceptible entities" and then asked for clarification on whether she would "grant that there is a metaphysical status of entity apart from whether or not something is a perceptual entity?" and then gives an example of constituents that are perceptible. This pattern is constant.

It shows up in Dr. Peikoff's lectures on Induction. The whole "super entity" thing as well as the confused treatment of "roll" as a first level concept. (which are all entities)

 

Now, after years of chewing this problem I have concluded the confusion in Oist students came from the teacher.

Mrs Rand herself demonstrated a strain in regards to the integration of what an entity is.

 

"Abstractions as such do not exist" and yet "concepts are abstractions" and "concepts are mental existents". When queried about the metaphysical status of concepts as "mental entities" Ms. Rand then retracts and calls them a "mental something" because she abhorred "neologisms". But "thing" is a synonym of entity....

All of this is from not integrating consistently what an entity is.

 

Oist academics constantly repeat that the Oist metaphysics is a highly delimited subject "Identity plus causality".

Like your claim : 

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Can you demonstrate that some concept we form about something imperceptible implies an imperceptible entity with all the properties that perceptible ones do?

Because that's what under discussion.  NOT causality as the law of identity applied to action.

This is a consequence of an impoverished integration of the Oist view of causality. Specifically the primary role of entities in causality.

 

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"The law of causality," Ayn Rand sums up, "is the law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature."  " [...]   "Now let me reiterate that the causal link relates an entity and its action." [...] "The law of causality does not inventory the universe; it does not tell us what kinds of entities or actions are possible. It tells us only that whatever entities there are, they act in accordance with their nature, and whatever actions there are, they are performed and determined by the entity which acts." OPAR

 "An action not caused by an entity would be caused by a zero, which would mean a zero controlling a thing, a non-entity controlling an entity, the non-existent ruling the existent—which is the universe of your teachers' desire, the cause of their doctrines of causeless action, the reason of their revolt against reason, the goal of their morality, their politics, their economics, the ideal they strive for: the reign of the zero." AS

 "The function itself is observable directly, but to conceptualize it he first has to conceptualize the objects as objects. Because here the function is an action-concept. It is either what the thing can do or what you can do with it. And an action-concept cannot precede an entity-concept. He first has to conceptualize the objects—the entities—then, the kinds of action they can perform or he can perform with them." ITOE

Take the quote about "ultimate constituents":

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When you talk about discovering the ultimate constituents of the universe, remember that in order to discover them, no matter by what calculations or by what machinery, you had to bring them to your perceptual level. You would have to say "this particle" is that which acts in such and such a way on subatomic particles, which act in such and such a way on atoms, which act in such and such a way on molecules, and all of that results in a material object such as this glass as distinguished from other material objects such as this ashtray. Unless you bring it back to the perceptual level, it's not knowledge. That is what has to be kept in mind always in speculating about ultimate causes, which have to be discovered by some, at present, unknown means. You still always have to bring it back to your sensory-perceptual level, otherwise it's not knowledge.

"this particle...acts" ... "particle...acts"...."material object....acts"......"ultimate causes"

Now the simple part:

If "all actions are caused by entities" and "particles act", then_____________.?

 

Now, you haven't show familiarity with the extended sense of "entity" mentioned in Oist publications.

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First, however, I must offer some clarification in regard to the concept of "entity." Since it is axiomatic, the referents of this concept can be specified only ostensively, by pointing to the things given to men in sense perception. In this case, one points to solid things with a perceivable shape, such as a rock, a person, or a table. By extension from this primary sense, "entity" may be used in various contexts to denote a vast array of existents, such as the solar system, General Motors, or the smallest subatomic particle. But all "entities" like these are reducible ultimately to combinations, components, or distinguishable aspects of "entities" in the primary sense. OPAR

If the "smallest of subatomic particles" are still considered entities and an electron is a subatomic particle, then _________?

 

Lets take Ms Rand's statements:

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 "If you use macroscopic terms which do not apply on that level, the misapplication will destroy all your perceptual level and your whole conceptual structure. " [..] "You cannot say philosophically what conditions you will ascribe to that which is not known. We cannot know by what means we will grasp something not known today."

And yet Philosophy does exactly that! Ms Rand herself in that very passage places "conditions" on what constitutes discovery and how one expresses it.  "There are no actions without entities"-the law of identity and causality are constraints on both what is possible and what we say about what is possible. Particularly axiomatic concepts like entity .

The important thing to grasp here is to NOT use terms that do NOT apply. And what term was misapplied by the Prof. in that exchange? The very error that is at issue here, speaking of the hidden causes as if it were actions without entities!

Meaning is based on perception. We cannot divorce our conceptual chain from perception. Not even when hypothesizing about ultimate causes. That is why Ms. Rand said in the same passage that  you have to "bring it back to the perceptual"

 

We do not have some semantic criteria for theoretical objects that is somehow not tied to the perceptual because they are "abstractions from abstractions" because the referents of concepts are grasped non-propositionally by perception. The difficulty arises when we move into the "unit stage" of abstracting from entities and use symbols as concrete "mental entities" ( which have their "being" via such concrete substitution of words for the experiential content.)

 

Now, do you know that the quantitative-qualitative issue is central to modern science trespasses on the philosophical principle of causality?

Dr. Peikoff said of philosophy "it does not tell us what kinds of entities or actions are possible. It tells us only that whatever entities there are, they act in accordance with their nature, and whatever actions there are, they are performed and determined by the entity which acts."

Entity = 1 = Quantity

Attributes, actions , relations = Qualities

More later....

Edited by Plasmatic
composition

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2 hours ago, Plasmatic said:

stuff

It is fairly obvious that Rand used "entity" in more than one sense, and said herself there was more than one. I gave the link. Fortunately, context makes it clear which sense she means. It's at least made clear that here Vik told you the sense he wants to talk about. You don't need to keep going on about the sense he wasn't talking about. Sometimes I use entity and object as synonyms, but rarely.

Moving on: "If one side of the quantitative "threshold" cannot be explained by what is currently known, must there be some sort of activity responsible, regardless of whether or not there are subtler constituents than those observed?  What does it take to conclude that some activity unites both sides?" -Vik

My first thought is that a threshold is when an object takes on a new trait, quantum threshold at fine grained levels. Of course some sort of activity is responsible, or else there is no way for anything new to happen. It's not as though you'd say a trait just "appeared". It'd be like saying maggots spontaneously appear on corpses, but now we know they're just from flies. To go with that analogy, with a quantitative threshold being "maggot infestation", the apparent spontaneity is caused by more complex phenomena. We'd know if a concept of activity (e.g. egg laying in a nutrient-rich environment) unites both ends. After all, it looks like past the threshold, objects essentially change into something different, as opposed to changing degree. It does get tricky here: when is a scientific claim one of causal relations, instead of simply descriptive? If a threshold is like an "on/off", then I'd say it's a first step towards a causal explanation.

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Louie said:

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It is fairly obvious that Rand used "entity" in more than one sense, and said herself there was more than one. I gave the link. Fortunately, context makes it clear which sense she means. It's at least made clear that here Vik told you the sense he wants to talk about. You don't need to keep going on about the sense he wasn't talking about. Sometimes I use entity and object as synonyms, but rarely.

It obvious that you have missed the nuanced difference between the debate Vik and I are having and the differences you and I have on your confusion about the synonyms object and entity. There is no sense ever where Ms. Rand uses object as something other than an entity. Neither your link or the discussion Vik and I are having have anything to do with that error of yours.

Edited by Plasmatic

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Louie asked:

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This sounds very odd. I know what you mean by entity, to start off with. But why are electrons theoretical, are you suggesting electrons are not physical things...? I'm trying to see where a notable philosophical dispute is, because I find this more important of a bone to pick. 

You are probably lost on the exchange between Vik and I because of your unfamiliarity with the topic. The largest portion of the Philosophy of Science has been about the scientific realism debate and in particular over theoretical entities.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-realism/

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/theoretical-terms-science/

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Before considering the nuances of what scientific realism entails, it is useful to distinguish between two different kinds of definition in this context. Most commonly, the position is described in terms of the epistemic achievements constituted by scientific theories (and models—this qualification will be taken as given henceforth). On this approach, scientific realism is a position concerning the actual epistemic status of theories (or some components thereof), and this is described in a number of ways. For example, most define scientific realism in terms of the truth or approximate truth of scientific theories or certain aspects of theories. Some define it in terms of the successful reference of theoretical terms to things in the world, both observable and unobservable. (A note about the literature: ‘theoretical term’, prior to the 1980s, was standardly used to denote terms for unobservables, but will be used here to refer to any scientific term, which is now the more common usage.) Others define scientific realism not in terms of truth or reference, but in terms of belief in the ontology of scientific theories. What all of these approaches have in common is a commitment to the idea that our best theories have a certain epistemic status: they yield knowledge of aspects of the world, including unobservable aspects. (For definitions along these lines, see Smart 1963, Boyd 1983, Devitt 1991, Kukla 1998, Niiniluoto 1999, Psillos 1999, and Chakravartty 2007a.)

To answer your question, no I do not consider electrons non-physical. I am a realist. Concepts that refer are objective.

Edited by Plasmatic

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Vik asked:

 

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Does the discovery of a quantitative "threshold" imply the existence of parts subtler than what is perceived?

No, particularly when the qualitative difference arrives at a critical quantity of motion.

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