Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
SpookyKitty

Everything is made of Nothing

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

9 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

EDIT: Eiuol points out that I have tacitly assumed that properties can only come from an object itself. I wish to make this assumption explicit, as I have no idea where else the properties of an object could possibly come from.

I meant that your hidden premise is that properties only come from constituents, but not from the object itself. It'd mean an atom only has only properties because of its electrons or protons, but the atom itself does not provide its own properties. That's probably why you think infinite regress is a problem here that needs to be avoided. If an object itself provides its own properties in addition to its constituents, then whether or not there's a stopping point doesn't affect the identity of an object.

Look at this page, does this idea do better than saying "nothing"? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empty_set 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eiuol:

 

13 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Look at this page, does this idea do better than saying "nothing"? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empty_set 

To avoid inevitable confusion, maybe you could start a new thread under "Mathematics", while the discussion here continues to focus on objects in reality.

 

SL 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I am familiar enough with Objectivism to understand an argument made from an Objectivist standpoint, so fire away. But I don't think I understand it well enough to make my own arugments from an Objectivist standpoint. And I would prefer both a reductio exercise and a critique of the argument from an Objectivist standpoint, preferably by bona fide Objectivists.

4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Back to substance. 

You seem to be of the view that a discussion of objects (i.e. REALITY) can somehow be arbitrarily carried out, using any definitions and formalisms of our choosing.  According to Objectivism this is not the case, not for anyone, and not where reality is concerned.  I will not go into an explanation of Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology but I will address a few particular areas:

I definitely agree that it is not possible to talk about reality as it actually is using any definitions and formalism of our choosing. My whole thesis is that there is such a thing as a "correct" definition.

However, I don't think that this should be taken to mean that we cannot do philosophy at all without Objectivism. It is still possible to talk meaningfully about reality, even if our definitions and assumptions about reality that we make in the beginning later turn out to be false.

Quote

1.  Substances and Objects - if they are to mean anything objective these words must stand for valid concepts, concepts to be valid must be ultimately based on perceptual data.  Although "object" in its common usage is a valid concept, we have no evidence that "substance" (in the form you are attempting to use it) is a valid concept.  Why should it be surprising that when an arbitrary concept, not derived from sense data of REALITY, is used in an argument, it ends up contributing to the generation of an absurd conclusion?  Seriously why would it be surprising?

Well, first of all, I don't think  that the coclusion is actually absurd. It only seems that way because you implicitly assume the meaning of "nothing" in the meta-language sense. So, from my perspective, there is nothing to be surprised about.

Now, according to you, and, presumably, according to the Objectivist theory of concepts, (though it should be noted that what follows is my own interpretation of it based on what I know about Objectivism, the above quote and also what you later go on to say about a hypothetical house of M&M's), a concept is valid if and only if there exist statements which utilize it which are also observationally contingent. Illustrated:

valid concept -> statement which utilizes that concept -> a state of affairs in the physical world which causes the statement to be true or false

Example:

Santa Claus -> "Santa Claus exists" -> But observations show that Santa Claus doesn't exist, therefore "Santa Claus exists" is false.

But the problem here is is that this is not metaphysics, this is science. Metaphysics is about those things which are prior to science. Metaphysical statements cannot be reduced to observational data. Nonetheless, they are meaningful. Allow me to explain.

The truth of a metaphysical statement, take for example, "a thing is itself", cannot be reduced to observational data because it precedes observation itself. That is, there is no possible state of affairs in the world which could make it so that a thing is not itself. Nonetheless, statements like these and the concepts they utilize are still meaningful. Why? Because they inform concepts about physics.

To illustrate how this works, Aristotle's metaphysics rejected the existence of void (empty space), instants of time, and points in space (this might seem ridiculous to a modern reader, but he did have very good reasons for believing these things). This made it impossible for him to realize that there is a definite geometric relationship between the forces on an object and the path of that object. In order to for an object to have a path, a position (a point in space) must be associated with each instant of time. Obviously, if you believe in neither points in space nor instants in time, you will reject the concept of path. And if you reject the notion of empty space, there is no way you can conceive of the principle of inertia.

Newton's metaphysics, on the other hand, because he believed in an infinite and absolute God, had no issue at all with the idea that space and time consists of inifnitely small pieces, that they are absolute (in the sense that they exist independently of the matter in them), and that they are both infinite in extent.

Similarly, although Galileo was very much an Aristotelian, he rejected the Aristoelian doctrine of the non-existence of void. This is what allowed him to conclude from his experience that in the limitting case of a resistanceless medium (i.e. a vacuum), all objects would fall to the Earth at the same rate. And it is also what allowed him to derive the principle of inertia.

On the other hand, any Aristoelian worth his salt would reject the empirical verification of Galileo and Newton's principles on the grounds that their principles themselves don't make any sense (i.e., not because Aristotelians reject empirical verification (they don't), but because the principles in question are inconsistent with Aristotle's metaphysics, and therefore cannot be verified or falsified even in principle), and would simply regard them as they regarded the copernican theory of the solar system, as a mere bag of useful (but ultimately incorrect) mathematical tricks. They would persist in their belief that a correct physical theory which is consistent with their metaphysics would eventually be discovered.

All this is to say that metaphysical concepts are those that we use to construct and reason about hypothetical physical worlds. Thus, their validity cannot be decided in reference to the physical world itself.

To take an example from Objectivism, "Existence exists", "A is A" and "Consciousness exists" are metaphyiscal statements because no state of affairs in the world could possibly contradict them.

I'm finding it quite difficult to explain exactly what I mean here, so I hope that this illustration will be sufficient.

Now, with regard to the theory of substance, the concept of substance, I hold, is a metaphysical concept. It is introduced in order to avoid infinite regress.

Quote

2. Your "Nothing" (object-language) - Again, if we constrain ourselves to speaking of reality, (rather than fiction, imagination, mathematical games, which are not constrained by reality) then your attempt at formulating the concept "nothing" cannot be an arbitrary concept or formalism without any regard to reality. 

Although you argue for its validity your explicit definition of it and the implications in your statements reveal it to be invalid

This is a complete fiction.

If we are talking about metaphysics (not imagination), your "nothing" object uses the concept "object" while at the same time invalidating the concept "object" upon which it is based.  This is the "stolen concept" fallacy.  What "object" means, is something observable in reality, a table, an ant, a dog, a rock.  An object IS a something.  To arbitrarily claim a "pxcgfh" is an object BUT that it is not a something, logically relies upon an attempt to (re)define "object" and what it means.  Such redefinition, unless attended to with care, leads to destruction of the lower ("object") concept's cognitive usefulness, ties to reality, i.e. its validity (which is what happens here). (see the "stolen concept fallacy" online)  You define the nothing as an object while simultaneously destroying what the concept "object" means.   If you do this sort of thing unchecked you end up totally detached from reality, essentially playing with a set of imaginary fictitious ideas which all depend upon one another, perhaps fitting beautifully together and stating something wonderful about a reality which exists ONLY in your mind.  THAT is NOT philosophy (according to Objectivism) it is fantasy.

What do you get when you take an object and remove all of its constituents?  You do not get an object of ANY kind.  In fact, what does it even mean to "remove ALL" of an objects constituents. presumably while "refraining" from removing the object itself?  Take an M&M house sitting on a table for example, if you remove all of the M&Ms, you have also necessarily removed the house.  There is NO object left behind.  There is no object to point to and designate as your "object-language" thing (which you would have labeled as the "nothing"), no object what-so-ever.  Compare this to what you had before the M&M house was ever build on the table.  With total disregard to the invalidity of distinguishing between the concepts I will indulge in using your so called "meta-language" nothing and your "object-language" nothing, assuming for the nonce there is some distinction to be made.  Prior to buying the M&Ms, above your table there was "nothing" (meta-language) i.e. "no thing", an absence. After we removed the M&Ms from the house you (impliedly) claim there is a "nothing" object left on the table.  If we look metaphysically at reality, what is the difference between this empty table before and after the M&M house was assembled and respectively removed?  Can you identify any difference in reality (other than points in time, past or future)?  No, you cannot.  THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO difference whatever in reality.  If there is no difference, what then is the status of the "object-language" "nothing" as distinguished from the "meta-language" nothing?  In reality, it is a superfluous imaginary term having no referent in reality, adding nothing to understanding or cognition of reality: it is therefor invalid. 

 

Once again, objects ARE somethings, they have properties/attributes, identity.  There are no objects without identity, without properties or attributes.  To claim such an object, a "nothing" (object-language) object IS, is an attempt to claim an OBJECT LACKING EXISTENCE somehow metaphysically exists. THIS is insanity, according to Objectivism.

 

 

In a discussion of reality, this is jibberish.  If you have created some arbitrary mathematical framework, with operators, definitions, rules of operation etc., that sort of game is perfectly fine.  Define your nothings and some things and not non-things any way you want... play with null pointers and empty sets, etc. but don't pretend to speak of existence or reality.

All "things" in reality qualify as a "something" because "something" MEANS "some thing".  To claim there are "things" that are not "something" is to try to (re)define "thing" or "something" to the point of invalidity of one or both concepts. You are attempting to claim:  "THIS thing is not 'A thing' because 'a thing' is 'some thing', but THIS thing is not a something." which is an EXPLICIT contradiction -> "THIS thing is not a thing"

Over and above this contradiction, one can see that here specifically again you are attempting to rely upon a purported difference in reality between "nothing" and the "object" you call "nothing".  In fact, as discussed above, such a difference does not exist, and your "object", the "nothing" object does not exist in reality.

 

IF you have ANY evidence whatever (based on perceptual data of reality) which tends to show the existence of your "nothing" object in reality then please provide it.  It would serve at least as some basis for anyone to entertain the idea of the "nothing" object and serve as at least as some finite amount of validity for the concept.  In the absence of ANY evidence whatever for the existence of the "nothing" object, according to Objectivism such a claim would be arbitrary, and must be dismissed outright.

You make a good point here with the house of M&M's. I want to address specifically your objection that when you remove every constituent from an object, the result is not an object of any kind.

Consider this.

A metaphysical object cannot be separated from its constituents. Supposing that each individual M&M (and only the individual M&Ms) is a constituent of the house, the "metaphysical removal" of even a single M&M results in a completely different object. Also, from within physical reality, you cannot destroy the metaphysical house, you have merely taken its constituents and given them new locations in space. So it should not be surprising that there is no observable difference between a physical situation where all of the constituents of a house have been removed from their original locations, and a physical situation where there never was a house to begin with.

All this is to say that we should be careful when talking about "removing" the constituents of an object. That can only make sense metaphorically.

What I meant to illustrate when talking about removing the constituents of an object is that the constituents of an object intrinsically structure an entirely new object. What this means is that the new object can have properties that its constituents don't. For example, existence in physical reality. It is possible (nay, very probable) that the nothing-object is not instantiated in physical reality in and of itself. However, even if it doesn't have its own independent instantiation in physical reality, that does not mean that objects which are instantiated in physical reality cannot be constituted by it.

Since the properties of an object (and this is partly in answer to Eiuol's latest post) can only come from its constituents, and since the constituents themselves can't have the same constituents as the object that they constitute, the object can have properties that none of its constituents do.

For example, we can say that a basket of apples is constituted solely by a basket and at least two apples. This basket would then have the property of being numerous in apples, even though each apple is only a single apple, and the basket itself is not constituted by any apples at all.

We must therefore conclude that the nothing-object can have properties (including existence) which are not the same as the properties of nothing (in the meta-language sense), and even if it doesn't make sense to ask what the properties of nothing (in the meta-language sense) are.

Further, we must conclude that the hypothetical removal of all of an object's constituents cannot result in nothing (in the meta-language sense), but can only ever result in the nothing-object. No matter how many constituents you metaphorically remove, the ability of the object to have properties that are not also properties of any of its constituents never goes away, not even for the nothing-object.

Finally, I think there is a much more sensible interpretation of what happens when you physically remove all of the constituents of an object from their original location.

Suppose that there are two houses, one constituted by M&M's and another constituted by Skittles. Now (ignoring spatial relations) when you remove all of the constituents of each house, you end up with two identical physical situations. Is this not so?

The nothing object is particularly useful here because it allows us to say that an M&M house with no M&M's and a skittles house with no skittles are precisely identical, physically. This is in contrast to a substance theory which says that it is possible that the two resulting physical situations are not identical (because a skittle house and an M&M house could, at bottom, be constituted of different substances (themselves directly unobservable)). Thus, with substance theory, we would have two non-identical physical situations with no observable differences.

A similar argument is not possible with the nothing-concept in Objectivism, because nothing cannot be compared to anything at all, not even itself.

@Eiuol

Yes, "empty set" seems to be the set-theoretic analog of what I'm talkig about.

 

Edited by SpookyKitty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

SK,

 

Bon voyage on your flights of fancy and adventures in fantasy, for where you go, I cannot follow.

 

SL

Maybe I should explain this in the most concrete terms possible.

Suppose that we do one experiment with a cube of iron of a given volume and density and that we also do another experiment with a sphere of iron of the same volume and density. (Further assume that the two objects differ only in shape)

So we have two physical situations which are not the same. Because we can compare the two objects and conclude that they are different because one is a sphere and the other is a cube.

Imagine now that, in each case, a third of the volume of each object is removed.

The two physical situations are still not the same. Because we can compare .....

Imagine that, again, another third of the original volume of each object is removed.

The two physical situations are still not the same. ....

Finally, the last third of the volume is removed from each object.

Are the two resulting physical situations the same?

Suppose that they are not. Then it must be that substance theory is true. When one removes all of the iron from the iron cube, the "cubeness" is still left-over. And when one removes all of the iron from the sphere, the "sphereness" is still left-over. Because "cubeness" and "sphereness" are not the same, the two resulting situations are not the same.

Now suppose (and I think you will agree with it) that the two situations are the same. Then, of course, substance theory (at least when it comes to a substance of shape) cannot be true.

But now the question is, how can we prove that the two physical situations are the same?

If we assume that absolutely nothing is left when all of the stuff is removed from each object, then we cannot prove that the two situations are the same. Because nothing, not being a kind of thing to begin with, cannot be compared to any kind of thing, not even itself.

So we end up with a true statement which can't be proved.

My resolution to this conundrum is to suppose that there exists a null-object which results when any other object's constituents are removed. Since the null-object is an object, we can say that it is identical to itself. Therefore, since the two physical situations at the end of our experiment are identical to the null object, they are identical to each other.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

Suppose that they are not. Then it must be that substance theory is true. When one removes all of the iron from the iron cube, the "cubeness" is still left-over. And when one removes all of the iron from the sphere, the "sphereness" is still left-over. Because "cubeness" and "sphereness" are not the same, the two resulting situations are not the same.

Cube-ness and sphere-ness are abstractions (katholou). You appear to be equating "substance" with essence. Shape is matter in a certain form. Form, matter and essence are not the same thing. Objectivism rejects the notion of a metaphysical essence.

You mentioned Aristotle earlier. Are you familiar enough with the text to tell me if you are referring to "ousia" (οὐσία)?

 

Edited by Plasmatic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Plasmatic said:

Cube-ness and sphere-ness are abstractions (katholou). You appear to be equating "substance" with essence. Shape is matter in a certain form. Form, matter and essence are not the same thing. Objectivism rejects the notion of a metaphysical essence.

You mentioned Aristotle earlier. Are you familiar enough with the text to tell me if you are referring to "ousia" (οὐσία)?

 

You are, at least from a strict Aristotelian standpoint, 100% correct. It is certainly true that shape is not a substance in Aristotle's metaphysics. But I do take it as one in this hypothetical. I don't think that it makes much of a difference either way for the argument and illustration above.

Quote

You mentioned Aristotle earlier. Are you familiar enough with the text to tell me if you are referring to "ousia" (οὐσία)?

Yes, the invariant substratum that underlies the change of a thing is a substance (ousia).

In the theory I propose in this thread, the essence of an object is identical to the collection of its constituents. A substance is a special kind of object which only has itself as essence/constituent. The null-object is a special object with no essence.

My position is that metaphysical substances do not exist, but that metaphysical essences do.

Quote

Objectivism rejects the notion of a metaphysical essence.

Really??? Can you support this statement?

Also, in what sense is Objectivism considered Aristotelian?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Really??? Can you support this statement?

From ITOE:

It is Aristotle who identified the fact that only concretes exist. But Aristotle held that definitions refer to rnetaphysical essences; which exist in concretes as a special element or formative power, and he held that the process of concept- formation depends on a kind of direct intuition by which man’s mind grasps these essences and forms concepts accordingly.  Aristotle regarded “essence" as metaphysical; Objectivism regards it as epistemological.  Objectivism holds that the essence of a concept is that fundamental characteristic(s) of its units on which the greatest number of other characteristics depend, and which distinguishes these units from all other existents within the field of man's knowledge. Thus the essence of a concept is determined contextually and may be altered with the growth of man's knowledge. The metaphysical referent of man’s concepts is not a special, separate metaphysical essence, but the total of the facts of reality he has observed, and this total determines which characteristics of a given group of existents he designates as essential. An essential characteristic is factual, in the sense that it does exist, does determine other characteristics and does distinguish a group of existents from all others; it is epistemological in the sense that the classification of “essential characteristic” is a device of man's method of cognition—a means of classifying, condensing and integrating an ever-growing body of knowledge.  

More later

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is genuinely surprising, because if essences don't exist, the what do our concepts refer to?

If they refer merely to collections of sensory perceptions, and if metaphysical essences don't exist, then what gives regularity to our sense perceptions?

What I mean is this. According to the above post, we experience some sensory perceptions, and over time, we integrate those perceptions into the concept of an apple, say. The concept of apple consists of the sensory perceptions of redness, smoothness, sweetness, etc. However, no apple ever suddenly starts spewing out the sensory perceptions of clearness (like water), saltiness, and roughness. Why?

What prevents an apple from suddenly turning into water? If reality exists as such independently of the mind, then no mere concept is capable of preventing the apple from suddenly turning into water. Essences must exist, because they are precisely what keep an apple from suddenly turning into water.

The essence of the apple determines what sensory perceptions the apple can cause. Once the mind integrates these sensory perceptions into a concept, then the concept must refer to the essence of the apple.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

If they refer merely to collections of sensory perceptions, and if metaphysical essences don't exist, then what gives regularity to our sense perceptions?

A relation between the nature of the apple and the nature of your sensory organs. It is okay to say essence, but Objectivism would say that essence is not something "in" the apple. The essence, or probably better called a fundamental characteristic, is actually something you actively select about the apple as important for your thinking. It's not that something -underneath- an apple provides it with its identity. The apple itself provides its identity. This is related to how I was saying before that there is no reason to think that the identity of something only derives from its constituents. Since you buy into the idea of metaphysical essence, I see why you would think that now. 

An apple actually can suddenly start to taste salty; this is because "salty" isn't something in the apple. The taste of "salty" comes from the particular arrangement of molecules in the apple, AND from the particular way your brain creates an experience of taste.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

What evidence exists that there must be a "what" preventing apples from suddenly turning into water?

The fact that apples don't suddenly turn into water.

15 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

A relation between the nature of the apple and the nature of your sensory organs. It is okay to say essence, but Objectivism would say that essence is not something "in" the apple. The essence, or probably better called a fundamental characteristic, is actually something you actively select about the apple as important for your thinking. It's not that something -underneath- an apple provides it with its identity. The apple itself provides its identity. This is related to how I was saying before that there is no reason to think that the identity of something only derives from its constituents. Since you buy into the idea of metaphysical essence, I see why you would think that now. 

An apple actually can suddenly start to taste salty; this is because "salty" isn't something in the apple. The taste of "salty" comes from the particular arrangement of molecules in the apple, AND from the particular way your brain creates an experience of taste.

What makes the relation between the apple and my sensory organs hold true if not the essence of the apple and the essence of my sensory organs?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The law of causality identifies the fact that entities act in accordance with their nature. Could it be that an apple doesn't suddenly turn into water simply be evidence of the fact that it is not within their nature to do so?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

The law of causality identifies the fact that entities act in accordance with their nature. Could it be that an apple doesn't suddenly turn into water simply be evidence of the fact that it is not within their nature to do so?

The nature of a thing is its essence. "The nature of a thing" is what the word "essence" means. That's why I find it surprising to find out that Objectivism rejects essentialism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

The fact that apples don't suddenly turn into water.

What makes the relation between the apple and my sensory organs hold true if not the essence of the apple and the essence of my sensory organs?

 

Yes, the nature of your sensory organs and the apple. Nothing makes it so, it just is so. Similarly, there is nothing that makes the law of identity true, it just is. We can talk about the particular facts about the nature of these things, but it's not that there is a substance to make it so. The quote Plasmatic provided says that metaphysical essentialism is rejected (you seem to agree with this because you said you reject substance theory) but not that the concept essential is rejected.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Yes, the nature of your sensory organs and the apple. Nothing makes it so, it just is so. Similarly, there is nothing that makes the law of identity true, it just is. We can talk about the particular facts about the nature of these things, but it's not that there is a substance to make it so. The quote Plasmatic provided says that metaphysical essentialism is rejected (you seem to agree with this because you said you reject substance theory) but not that the concept essential is rejected.

 

I take it that by this you mean to say that the relation between sensory organs and objects that gives the objects their characteristics is fundamental?

But this is even more troublesome because it implies that reality is dependent on our sensory organs. I can certainly believe that our experience of reality depends on our sensory organs, but I find it difficult to swallow that the nature of reality itself depends upon our sensory organs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

I take it that by this you mean to say that the relation between sensory organs and objects that gives the objects their characteristics is fundamental?

But this is even more troublesome because it implies that reality is dependent on our sensory organs. I can certainly believe that our experience of reality depends on our sensory organs, but I find it difficult to swallow that the nature of reality itself depends upon our sensory organs.

Only the reality that is the "form" of sensory perceptual relations, the objects of which are presented via that relation. It is "fundamental", or rather "essential", to the cognitive requirements that a conceptual consciousness' identity requires.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I mean to say that you may as well ask why reality exists.

The nature of reality itself does not depend on our sensory organs. Essence is a means of classifying and identifying facts. We can argue about the word, the point is that whatever "unifying" characteristic we select is a picked by process that requires our participation. All the characteristics of an apple allow it to behave like an apple, not a characteristic that remains when we strip away all the other characteristics. We -could- select "red" as a fundamental characteristic, by the standards Rand described, as long as we remember that every other characteristic contributes to the apple's identity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

I take it that by this you mean to say that the relation between sensory organs and objects that gives the objects their characteristics is fundamental?

But this is even more troublesome because it implies that reality is dependent on our sensory organs. I can certainly believe that our experience of reality depends on our sensory organs, but I find it difficult to swallow that the nature of reality itself depends upon our sensory organs.

The nature of reality itself depends upon our sensory organs—not for its nature, but our identification of its nature. The nuance here is the form/object distinction. The object in reality is such that it acts on our senses, and our senses are such that they present our consciousness with the form of the object. Both the object's and the observer's identity establish the relationship providing the experience of the object in the form "dictated" by the nature of observer's senses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

Only the reality that is the "form" of sensory perceptual relations, the objects of which are presented via that relation. It is "fundamental", or rather "essential", to the cognitive requirements that a conceptual consciousness' identity requires.

 

34 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

The nature of reality itself depends upon our sensory organs—not for its nature, but our identification of its nature. The nuance here is the form/object distinction. The object in reality is such that it acts on our senses, and our senses are such that they present our consciousness with the form of the object. Both the object's and the observer's identity establish the relationship providing the experience of the object in the form "dictated" by the nature of observer's senses.

I take it you two mean that the nature of an object and the nature of our sense organs together determine our experience of the object. I can agree with that. That's fine, but it's not what the issue is.

The problem is that if objects do not have essences, then there is no reason whatsoever why we should expect for the sensory data that they cause to be identical under identical circumstances.

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

I mean to say that you may as well ask why reality exists.

The nature of reality itself does not depend on our sensory organs. Essence is a means of classifying and identifying facts. We can argue about the word, the point is that whatever "unifying" characteristic we select is a picked by process that requires our participation. All the characteristics of an apple allow it to behave like an apple, not a characteristic that remains when we strip away all the other characteristics. We -could- select "red" as a fundamental characteristic, by the standards Rand described, as long as we remember that every other characteristic contributes to the apple's identity.

In answer to the above problem, Eiuol, you have claimed that it is our minds which are the source of the regularity we observe in the world. But this cannot be the case, since that would mean that reality would decend into metaphysical chaos if there were no conscious entities around to participate in the "identification" of objects.

I think we can all agree that that is not at all what would happen. Reality would continue on as it is if all consciousness in the universe were to be extinguished. In this sense, the nature of reality is independent from our minds. And this means that objects must have natures which are what they are regardless of whether or not there is somebody there to "identify" them. This inherent nature is what is called an "essence".

An essence is not a means, and it is not a mental phenomenon. An essence is an ontic entity. There may not be a "single" characteristic which makes an apple an apple. The essence can consist of a multiplicity of characteristics. The only requirement is that these characteristics be individually necessary and jointly sufficient.

What is important to recognize is that we can be wrong about what constitutes the essence of an object.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In order to discover (recognize) something can be wrong, it first has to differentiated from what is known to be right.

2 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

it's not what the issue is.

In this particular instance, the issue is stemming from the choice of nomenclature, the choice of the vernacular vehicle to transmit the essence of the meaning, epistemologically, one to another.

2 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

And this means that objects must have natures which are what they are regardless of whether or not there is somebody there to "identify" them. This inherent nature is what is called an "essence".

Ayn Rand had said,

Centuries ago, the man who was—no matter what his errors—the greatest of your philosophers, has stated the formula defining the concept of existence and the rule of all knowledge: A is A. A thing is itself. You have never grasped the meaning of his statement. I am here to complete it: Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification.

Aristotle held that essence was metaphysical. Miss Rand holds that essence is epistemological. To recognize (discover) that something is wrong, first comes the recognition that something is right. Is the essence of "essence" metaphysical or epistemological?

Another way to ask the question: Is there an entity that can be identified as "essence", or is "essence" an abstraction used to describe another attribute of entities—such as an entity's identity?

Edited by dream_weaver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

In answer to the above problem, Eiuol, you have claimed that it is our minds which are the source of the regularity we observe in the world. But this cannot be the case, since that would mean that reality would decend into metaphysical chaos if there were no conscious entities around to participate in the "identification" of objects.

I thought it was pretty clear that I was saying that the source of any regularity is the nature of things, but that isn't to say what abstraction in particular you identify as an essence has to be what you call an ontic entity. Incidentally, I think what I'd add is just that I know you read that paper of mine that I posted, any explanation further I would give is written in there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

If reality exists as such independently of the mind, then no mere concept is capable of preventing the apple from suddenly turning into water.

 

2 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

An essence is an ontic entity.

This is from IToE's Chapter 7: The Cognitive Role of Concepts:

Since consciousness is a specific faculty, it has a specific nature or identity and, therefore, its range is limited: it cannot perceive everything at once; since awareness, on all its levels, requires an active process, it cannot do everything at once.  Whether the units with which once deals are percepts or concepts, the range of what man can hold in the focus of his conscious awareness at any given moment, is limited.  The essence, therefore, of man's incomparable cognitive power is the ability to reduce a vast amount of information to a minimal number of units -- which is the task performed by his conceptual faculty.  And the principle of unit-economy is one of that faculty's essential guiding principles.

Our ability to form abstractions serves a cognitive function.  They are condensations of information to perceptual form (spoken [out loud or internally] or written) which are, in turn, perceived.

Essence is an abstraction - not an ontic entity.  But essence is not a priori -- somehow grasped independent of the senses.  Essence is epistemological AND is objective in that man's mind (including his sense organs) has a specific nature, as do the objects which one perceives.

 

Edit:  Very few persons have argued that Essence is ontic, at least since the 14th Century.  Most other philosophies assume that the senses are invalid and/or arbitrary, and therefore, knowledge can be nothing more than Subjective.

Edited by New Buddha

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

Is the essence of "essence" metaphysical or epistemological?

Another way to ask the question: Is there an entity that can be identified as "essence", or is "essence" an abstraction used to describe another attribute of entities—such as an entity's identity?

An essence is a metaphysical entity which is not an object.

They are quite tricky entities, because unlike objects, they cannot be interacted with directly. They are not sensible. Every essence is in some object, and an essence cannot be separated from the object it is in.

To put it simply, no, an essence cannot be "identified" in the same sense that an object can be "identified". You can never point to a thing and say "That's an essence." The existence of essences and the relation of an object's essences to their object can only be inferred.

1 hour ago, New Buddha said:

 

This is from IToE's Chapter 7: The Cognitive Role of Concepts:

Since consciousness is a specific faculty, it has a specific nature or identity and, therefore, its range is limited: it cannot perceive everything at once; since awareness, on all its levels, requires an active process, it cannot do everything at once.  Whether the units with which once deals are percepts or concepts, the range of what man can hold in the focus of his conscious awareness at any given moment, is limited.  The essence, therefore, of man's incomparable cognitive power is the ability to reduce a vast amount of information to a minimal number of units -- which is the task performed by his conceptual faculty.  And the principle of unit-economy is one of that faculty's essential guiding principles.

Our ability to form abstractions serves a cognitive function.  They are condensations of information to perceptual form (spoken [out loud or internally] or written) which are, in turn, perceived.

Essence is an abstraction - not an ontic entity.  But essence is not a priori -- somehow grasped independent of the senses.  Essence is epistemological AND is objective in that man's mind (including his sense organs) has a specific nature, as do the objects which one perceives.

 

Edit:  Very few persons have argued that Essence is ontic, at least since the 14th Century.  Most other philosophies assume that the senses are invalid and/or arbitrary, and therefore, knowledge can be nothing more than Subjective.

As I've said before it is important to draw a distinction between the actual essence of an object and one's beliefs about what the essence of this or that object is.

I say this because this confusion between the definition of a thing and its essence keeps popping up. A definiton is the epistemological "entity" which refers to the essence of an object. A definition can fail if it does not correspond to the actual essence of an object.

The relation of essence to a definition, as I've said before, is rather like the relationship between facts and statements. The essence makes a definition valid, in just the same way as the fact that snow is white makes the statement "snow is white" true. The statement "snow is white" is not the same thing as the fact that snow is white, and similarly a definition is not the same thing as an essence.

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

I thought it was pretty clear that I was saying that the source of any regularity is the nature of things, but that isn't to say what abstraction in particular you identify as an essence has to be what you call an ontic entity. Incidentally, I think what I'd add is just that I know you read that paper of mine that I posted, any explanation further I would give is written in there.

Alright, well I'll get back to you on that as soon as I get some time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Essence is an abstraction - not an ontic entity.  But essence is not a priori -- somehow grasped independent of the senses.  Essence is epistemological AND is objective in that man's mind (including his sense organs) has a specific nature, as do the objects which one perceives.

Sorry, there was something else I wanted to say about this, but forgot to include it.

In the way we commonly use the word "essence" nowadays, that seems to be the intended meaning. Specifically, the common meaning of the "essence of a thing" is the "most important" characteristic of that thing, whether that characteristic be some property of the object, or a part of its definition. Regardless, this common usage is imprecise and should be avoided.

When I speak of the essence of an object, I am not using it in this common-usage way, but in a technical sense, similar to what Aristotle had in mind and precisely defined in the OP and a couple of my other posts.

Edited by SpookyKitty

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...