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Eiuol

Universe as Object

55 posts in this topic

I wrote this paper for my own purposes to explain and think more about what makes an object an object. I don't think my idea is incompatible with Objectivism, and it offers new and interesting ideas. Feel free to nit-pick, I edited it to get the exact words I want.

 

Might the universe be an object?

 

I look at something in front of me. I recognize it as a table: four legs, flat surface, wooden. Other things are placed on its surface, like a pencil and a camera. I am comfortable with these identifications. After all, I can touch them, see them, even hear them if I move them in a certain way. Furthermore, I can see edges where one thing ends and the other begins. In other words, these things are entities: things which are bounded and distinct[1]. Through their behavior, they exhibit an identity. Even more, the identity of these entities is independent of my seeing or recognizing them. The entire world in front of me is this way, filled with entities. My perception allows me to see this.

 

Consider that a table is made of parts which are not accessible in a perceptual way. Certainly, I can chop off the legs of the table and then have individual legs, but this is no problem because the legs still remain directly accessible to unaided perception. The parts that I am talking about are not accessible to unaided perception, that is, what the table is decomposable into and is therefore constituted of. The table is constituted of molecules, which cannot be detected just by looking. With a microscope molecules can be detected, and they would have the same distinctness I recognize when I looked at the table without any help. In order to make the distinction between things which I can see without assistance of the things I can't see without assistance, I will consider objects to be both of these, while I will consider entities to be those things that I can see without assistance. Such a distinction is important because I cannot recognize the aspects of a molecule in the same way I can recognize the aspects of a table. A different method is required in order to comprehend a molecule, that is, reliance on tools.

 

A related consideration for the ontology I am sketching out is the objects on the table. To put it simply, the objects share no causal identity to the extent they are distinct and unconnected. The only aspect they all have in common in relation to each other is a spatial characteristic. The camera is on the table, which is as far as the relationship between table and camera extends. I could refer to them as “objects on the table”, and treat them as a set in order to talk about statements like “I knocked over the table, so everything fell off” or “the table is full, I can't put another object on it”. However, there is nothing causal about one object to another in the set of objects on the table. They do not form a system whose constituents operate together.

 

So far, this ontology is nothing radical, and even common sense. Is this all there is to consider though? If I stop here, I may as well say it was sufficient for the Greeks to consider what was immediately and directly available to their perception. As soon as I recognize concrete constituents of an object, and recognize that these constituents are also objects, I need to think about the relation these constituents stand towards other constituents which are not available to unaided perception. Is the relationship only spatial? Or are they directly and causally related, despite my inability to see this possible relationship without a microscope? Intuitively, my answer is that they are causally related exactly because any further distinction I have made is based on having recognized an entity with which I could use a microscope on. The set of objects on the table on the other hand are not reduced from my having seen a larger entity. I did not see an entity and then break it down further. In this way, I have determined that the universe cannot be object. The above view I call perceptual ontology, i.e. ontology bounded and set by perceptual capacities. Important to keep in mind is that objecthood doesn’t depend upon perceptual capacities. Rather, the class of existents (e.g. ideas, concretes, actions) that qualify as objects are specified by what is perceptually detectable without aid and its decomposition.

 

As characterized, perceptual ontology is immediately vulnerable to subjectivity in metaphysics. Indeed, in terms of epistemology, perceptual capacities need not imply a subjectivist epistemology -- there could still be definitive and objective rules to recognizing or knowing that an object is in fact an object. Even more, entities can be considered primary or fundamental to comprehending metaphysics. However, since what qualifies as an object is a direct consequence of a physical reduction from the entity level, I begin to wonder about creatures smaller than humans and what they can see as entities [2]. A microscopic bacteria could detect molecules unaided, that is, molecules would be entities to a microscopic bacteria. Anything too much larger may as well be like the set of objects on the table -- perhaps connected but not complete and entirely contained. Going the other direction, in principle, a massive creature could detect groups of planets like a person detects a dog. The group of planets could plausibly be an entity specifically to that creature. By this reasoning, to a human the group of planets is a set of planets yet not an object because they were not a reduction from the entity level, while the massive creature sees the group of planets on the entity level so the group would qualify as an object. If the very category of existents that qualify as objects in the first place vary based on perceptual differences, the resulting metaphysics would be a direct consequence of the given subject and not a direct consequence of reality.

 

The schema of this problem is easily illustrated:

1. a = {c1, c2, c, cn}; the constituents of Cx are united as a single abstraction a

2. e = {c1, c2, c, cn} = {o1, o2, o…, on}; the constituents of Cx are united as entity e. Any element of Cx or unification within Cx is an object.

3. Per(Cx) = e; the function, i.e. the faculty of perception, which recognizes some aspect of the world as bounded and distinct as opposed to an abstraction. The perception of set Cx is sufficient and necessary for set Cx to be an entity and all its elements to be objects.

 

1 is equivalent to the earlier “objects on the table”. Each constituent is an element of the abstraction. 2 is equivalent to a table constituted by molecules and follows a pattern similar to 1. All constituents of entities are objects. 3 means that what qualifies as an entity will be different for any variation of perceptual faculties. 

 

4. The whole set C being an object or not therefore depends on the perceptual capacities of the creature in question. The unity is an object if and only if the constituents are already a division of an entity. Otherwise, it is an abstraction or mental object, which is by definition neither physical nor independent of one’s awareness.

 

One solution to the problem is that efforts to define objects are inherently subjective, that there is in fact no way to objectively state what is or is not an object in any circumstance. More specifically, there is not a multiplicity of objects in reality. Thus, the word “object” ceases to have meaning - there is either exactly one object, or no objects. With Hindu philosophy, there is singular “object” called Brahman, the underlying nature of reality[3]. Any further distinction is considered  “maya”, illusion[4]. At worst, maya is human conceit attempting to satisfy a constant desire to label and categorize, a cause of suffering. At best, it is the world of appearances that the subject acknowledges, which need not determine how the world really is. Brahman is in fact a singularity of all, the only “object” which really counts. So on it goes, towards the denial of one's own ego, towards passive acceptance of existence. Such a consequence is hardly worthwhile.

 

Argument by consequence, however, is not reason to reject a metaphysical claim. If existence is exactly one object, then that’s how it is, for better or worse. The consequence only alters my response to the fact; it may impact the epistemology I develop, or my ethical theories, but disliking the consequences is not a counterargument. The idea of a singularity is wrong because it is parasitic upon more fundamental premises: to speak of a singularity requires having already defined or conceptualized a variety of objects. Denying a multiplicity of objects would just as well deny the means to conceptualize or witness Brahman – denying perception. Ultimately, then, the “solution” is to wipe away a perceiver, such that perceptual faculties are ignored. While metaphysics does not take into account a perceiver for a claim to be valid, coming to understand metaphysical claims takes addressing how one is conscious of reality. It seems that rather than reality being a singularity, there is a threshold on the number of objects one is able to grasp[5]. So, perception’s limits leave me unable to determine which things qualify as objects - besides what I see as an entity, and its constituents.

 

Accepting that there is a threshold on the number of qualifiable objects due to one’s perceptual faculties is no solution, either. This would be taking a stance in favor of maya instead of a singularity. I’d be saying there are an unknown and ungraspable set of objects in reality[6]. If the set of all objects in reality include these “invisible” objects, then all the criteria for an object to fit into the set of all objects are unknown. By this point, it would not be determinable if the known objects really qualify as objects. I would not be able to say if they should be disqualified as objects – for I would be admitting no one will ever find out all the necessary criteria of objecthood. Some currently-known objects may turn out to be non-objects. Unfortunately, no one would ever be able to find out. As a result, no objects in reality are graspable.

 

Imagine the set of all known fruits, then also yet-to-be-discovered fruits. Both sets are graspable, the criteria for qualifying as a fruit can be understood differently in the future, perhaps leading me to recategorize. But if there are a set of extra-dimensional fruits that are unknowable and ungraspable because of the limits to perception, then the set of all fruits would lack any definable criteria. Apples qualify, as do bananas, but I would never know about gooblegorks. If I will never know of gooblegorks, nor why they qualify as fruits, likewise, I won’t know why apples or bananas qualify. So, the entire category of fruit becomes arbitrary or merely nominal - maya. There would be no basis to say what fruits are or are not besides a subjective impression. The same form of reasoning would apply to “invisible” objects.

 

Of course, the above paragraph is a discussion of epistemology. At the same time, any solution to a problem can only be reached by referring to the thinking required. The greater point is to emphasize that all solutions so far are parasitic upon defining objecthood already by means of my awareness and consciousness. A solution requires keeping the idea that entities are distinct and bounded - explaining objecthood any other way is parasitic.

 

The solution I see is to say that objects are also the things entities supercompose into. Just as a table decomposes into molecules, certain entities may supercompose[7] into greater objects. In this way, all things that are objects depend on composability. Entities help with a starting point for qualifying objects; composability as a principle makes use of entities; entities are not a threshold for objecthood. Thus I avoid parasitism issues. I am maintaining premises 1 and 2, the premises pertaining to entities as a basis to qualifying an ontology. Explicitly, I am denying that function 3 expressed as perception (and the tools to extend perception) and decomposability expressed as 2 are sufficient to determine objecthood. Rather, I am proposing that composability is needed – decomposition only works because of composition.

 

Stated generally for any object:

5. Comp(c1 + c2 + c + cn) = o; the function, i.e. the composing, of a set of constituents. The composibility of set Cx is sufficient and necessary for set Cx to be an object and all its elements to be objects.

 

Stated for any object greater than an entity:

6. SuperComp(e1 + e2 + e + en) = o; the function, i.e. the supercomposing, of a set of entities. The supercomposibility of set Ex is sufficient and necessary for set Ex to be an object and all its elements to be objects.

 

Why not instead suppose that composition extends infinitely? Because a supercomposition is a combination of entities. If the cardinality of E is 30, then the possible number of supercompositions is 30c30. Each round of compositions will be fewer, and so on until the resulting combination in a single object. A number of the proceeding arguments are why compositions end at a single object as opposed to two or more.

 

If tables decompose into molecules, then molecules compose into tables. In principle, there is no reason to say nothing composes from entities like tables into “supertable”. There is no necessity to stop composition at the level of entity. All that can be said is that determining composition is difficult. Certainly, “supertable” is not an object, because a group of tables have no causal relation, only a spatial relation like objects on a table. Yet if a group of entities have a causal relation, the group is just as much an object as a table composed of molecules. Not just any causal relation will work, though. Two balls bouncing off each other is a direct causal relation, but they still are not singular. They need to be a bounded and distinct unity to be a singular “ballcluster” object as well as two balls. Similarly as an example, two molecules passing through one another doesn’t alone render them into a table. 

 

Three necessary conditions are robust enough for a group of objects to be a composition. Among the group’s elements, there would need to be causal relation strong enough to be called an object as opposed to an abstraction.

 

Systematic

 

The elements in a group of objects operate together simultaneously and affect one another. A loss of one constituent will affect how the group behaves. Taking flour out of a cake recipe will radically alter all aspects of a cake, including texture, shape, baking time, and more. Flour itself will not alter the nature of eggs, but the unity of flour and eggs along with the rest of the ingredients make a specific cake. The nature of the group is different if any element is taken out.

 

Relational

 

A function exists which binds the elements in a group of objects. Being relational makes explicit that the elements are connected. “Next to” is a relation, as is “X > Y” and “the moon orbited the earth”. 

 

Emergence

 

The resulting group possesses one or more attributes which none of the individual elements possess. For example, people are volitional, but their constituents are not volitional – a single neuron is not volitional. Likewise, the process of life and the resulting attribute of being alive don’t make all of a creature’s constituent elements alive. The fact that properly arranging constituents in just the right way (the right mix of carbon molecules, the right external conditions like temperature, etc.) results in a living creature suggests that the constituents form a causal unity with each other.  

 

There are no good examples of a supercomposition aside from science fiction. However, one particular candidate may qualify as a supercomposition: the universe, the unification of all objects that exist. If true, there would be interesting clarifications and ideas regarding identity. First, I need to determine if the universe is an object.

 

The universe is systematic.

All objects that exist make up the nature of the universe. The actions of a planet orbiting a star impacts other stars and other stars’ planets. It is possible to focus on planets as singulars, but the idea is planets and impacted stars, and so on, operate as a system. The more alterations within a system, the more each element will be altered. Taking into account all objects at once is only an expansion of this. Moreover, given that causality never ceases at some ultimate point in time[8], the effects of one object will necessarily continue eternally within the system to the degree the system is complete and bounded. In terms of the universe, it is bounded by all that exists. The universe is the most complete system there is, and its bounds are definite. There is nothing to remove from the universe, and there is nothing to add. Otherwise, the system is incomplete, meaning that it is something different than the universe as defined.

 

The universe is all related.

At minimum, by virtue of being physical, there is a spatial relation between all objects. Two asteroids, or two atoms, placed at opposite ends of the universe bear a spatial relation. The spatial relation makes it possible in principle for any two objects to effect a causal relation. There is always a chronological relation as well, as any group of objects will be acting in some manner.  

 

The universe has emergent attributes.

Exactly the emergent properties of the universe are for cosmologists to discover through science. Cosmology, however, is not the only way to figure out in general attributes unique to the universe. As a complete whole, time holds between all objects at once, which requires a unique time standard. A universal time standard cannot be identical to time standards of more narrow systems. If it were identical, it would be part of an identical system – identical standards would mean using a standard not defined by the context of all objects. So, a time attribute of the universe is emergent, assuming the universe’s systematicity is true. This leads to saying all objects operate together; the actions of one object affect the rest because time applies equally. This is why knowledge of one fact affects how all knowledge is structured.

 

Many more examples of all three are possible. The main idea is that causality spreads in a systematically related way across a system with emergent attributes, or for all constituents of a given object. Applied to the whole universe, causality is eternal and will not cease as long as the universe exists. Eternal causality entails a systematically related universe with at least one emergent attribute.

 

Thus, the universe is an object.

 

A similar idea is that the universe is plenum[9], a continuous substance that connects all things that exist. To be clear, a theory of compositionality is not compatible with universe-as-plenum. Plenum would be a theory that the universe is an object because all objects are directly related spatially - the universe is a Jell-O slab with pieces of fruit suspended inside. But as I argued before, a spatial relation is insufficient for a group of objects to be an object. The added “closeness” of plenum does not help. Instead, compositionality is a theory that the universe is perpetuum[10], a total expanse of all that exists linked by causality.

 

I call it perpetual ontology.

 

<<>>

 

 

[1] This sense of the word entity is intended to be the same as Rand: "The first concepts man forms are concepts of entities—since entities are the only primary existents. (Attributes cannot exist by themselves, they are merely the characteristics of entities; motions are motions of entities; relationships are relationships among entities.)" -ITOE, page 15.

 

[2] I'm reminded of Peikoff's thought experiment on meta-energy puffs. OPAR, pages 45-47.

 

[3] The Brahman is not apprehendable by human means. A yogi may feel being one with the Brahman, but not through their perceptual faculties to see or grasp it. C.f. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman

 

[4] Maya is not just perceptual illusion, but all ways of conceiving of the world whether through perception or cognition. C.f.  http://www.davar.net/EXTRACTS/FICTION/INDIAN.HTM

 

[5] To grasp is used here as a term to cover any form of grasping from mere perceptual awareness to conceptualization. Knowledge is a grasp, as well as perception. Witnessing Brahman would be a grasp, but something distinct from knowledge and perception.

 

[6] Unknown objects are not necessarily ungraspable, just as atoms were not always known. Atoms were always possibly graspable. The issue is proposing that a theoretical, yet-to-be-demonstrated object that cannot ever be grasped.

 

[7]The prefix super- is used to convey that the composition is a composition at or above the level of entity. A supercomposition is not a special form of composition with unique attributes.

 

[8] Time is itself a relation between two actions, so a time which lacks a coinciding action is no time at all. Furthermore, a causal-free point in time implies regions of reality which lack causality. In both ways, the absolute end to any causal chain would be an absolute end to the universe, or at least the universe would be in a frozen state. I’d argue that a frozen state is identical to nothingness, i.e. is nonexistence.

 

[9] Latin - (with genitive, or ablative in later Latin) full (of), filled, plump; https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/plenus#Latin

 

[10] Latin -  perpetual, continuous, uninterrupted; https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/perpetuus#Latin

Edited by Eiuol

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Binswanger, in his book How We Know has a take on perception that varies from that in ITOE.  I don't know if you are aware of it but it may address epistemologically what you are trying to address ontologically.

 An extract and links One Two Three

2. A point essential to understanding perception is that perception is spatial; it presents a world of entities arrayed in space—i.e., in their relative positions. We do not perceive one isolated entity at a time, but a spread-out world of entities, each entity being discriminated from the others that are next to it. Philosophers are apt to take as their example the perception of a single object: we see “an apple,” for example. But there is no solitary apple floating in a void. In reality, apples exist as part of the spatially extended world given in perception. (See the two illustrations on the following page.) The three-dimensional spatial array given in perception is what fundamentally distinguishes perception from sensation. It is not merely that perception • 2: Perception (especially vision) gives entities, but also that perception provides the co-presence of all the entities that the animal can act on or be affected by. We see in one spread the entire scene of entities. Contrast discriminating spatially arrayed entities with discriminating the taste of one flavor element, say cinnamon, from others in what one is tasting. Such discrimination does not rise to the level of perceiving the cinnamon, precisely because the cinnamon is not given as spatially discriminated from the other flavors that one is also tasting. The perceptual world is spatially arrayed. The space given in perception is not the abstract space of the geometer, with its three Cartesian axes, but the relative position of entities. As psychologist J. J. Gibson stresses, “visual space, unlike abstract geometrical space, is perceived only by virtue of what fills it.” [Gibson 1950, 5]  

 

The content of perception is metaphysically given. As such, perception is unjudgeable. Just as it makes no sense to evaluate a natural occurrence like rainfall, it makes no sense to evaluate the content of perception. Rainfall is neither “valid” nor “invalid”—it just is. In exactly the same way, hearing the rainfall is neither valid nor invalid—it just is. Questions of validity or invalidity arise only where there is volitional control of the cognitive process, culminating in a conceptual judgment —as when you think to yourself: “the pitter-patter I’m now hearing is rain.” That thought may be true or false, valid or invalid, correct or mistaken. But none of these things applies to the hearing, as such. The hearing is the physically necessitated result of the action of sound waves on one’s ears and what one’s brain, as a physical organ, does with that input. You control your thinking, your judgments, your reasoning, your interpretation of sensory experiences, but the experiences themselves are produced automatically, independent of your volition, which means that they are neither valid nor invalid, but “metaphysically given” facts. Again quoting Rand: “[man’s] organs of perception are physical and have no volition, no power to invent or to distort . . . the evidence they give him is an absolute.” [AS, 1041]

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Thanks for that suggestion. The first paragraph applies to this paper, while the second is really only applicable to my "Rational Recurrence" paper.

What's the variance from ITOE there?

Edited by Eiuol

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

What's the variance from ITOE there?

There is a footnote in the book, that I don't have access to.  Maybe someone on the forum could post it if they have the book?

He is (to the best of my recollection) distinguishing between the "atomization" of sensations into percepts as exemplified in this quote from ITOE, p.5:

"A percept is a group of sensations automatically retained and integrated by the brain of a living organism.... Percepts, not sensations, are the given, the self-evident."

I see him as adopting the view that the differentiation of a bowl of apples from a single apple (as per the photograph in his book) is done by focusing in real-time, and that one can switch back and forth at will.  He goes into detail discussing the flaws behind Representationalism -- which, if true,  would require that both 1) the bowl of apples and 2) a single apple would each have to have corresponding representations [percepts] "automatically retained" in the mind.

On 7/1/2016 at 3:02 PM, Eiuol said:

A related consideration for the ontology I am sketching out is the objects on the table. To put it simply, the objects share no causal identity to the extent they are distinct and unconnected. The only aspect they all have in common in relation to each other is a spatial characteristic. The camera is on the table, which is as far as the relationship between table and camera extends. I could refer to them as “objects on the table”, and treat them as a set in order to talk about statements like “I knocked over the table, so everything fell off” or “the table is full, I can't put another object on it”. However, there is nothing causal about one object to another in the set of objects on the table. They do not form a system whose constituents operate together.

So, from your above quote, the 1) table and the 2) camera and the 3) table-camera are all metaphysically given.

3 hours ago, New Buddha said:

Philosophers are apt to take as their example the perception of a single object: we see “an apple,” for example. But there is no solitary apple floating in a void. In reality, apples exist as part of the spatially extended world given in perception.

Edited by New Buddha

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1 hour ago, New Buddha said:

I see him as adopting the view that the differentiation of a bowl of apples from a single apple (as per the photograph in his book) is done by focusing in real-time, and that one can switch back and forth at will.  He goes into detail discussing the flaws behind Representationalism -- which, if true,  would require that both 1) the bowl of apples and 2) a single apple would each have to have corresponding representations [percepts] "automatically retained" in the mind.

So, from your above quote, the 1) table and the 2) camera and the 3) table-camera are all metaphysically given.

Yes, the spatial relation is metaphyically given, and I think that point is stated in here, at least later on in the paper. Yes, this is part of reality separate from my awareness of reality. My idea, though, is that spatial relations are not sufficient to distinguish a spatial relation as an object. So, as I go further, I go on to say that a causal relation is sufficient, and provide 3 "tests" to see if the relation is strong enough.

I do think Representationalism, in it's weaker forms, is correct. A bowl of apples under my discussion here would not be an object or a percept any more than a group of lines is an object or percept. The mind can only retain this in an abstracted or non-perceptual way yet almost automatic. It has to be learned. The single apples are objects due to the causal relation of all its parts, like the stem, skin, and seeds. This is innate, as in it's not at all up to you or possible to control seeing a distinct apple.

I tend to disagree with Binswanger on finer details, though I should read his book.

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2 hours ago, New Buddha said:

There is a footnote in the book, that I don't have access to.  Maybe someone on the forum could post it if they have the book?

Is this the footnote, or at least the excerpt from it?

On 3/5/2014 at 6:36 PM, dream_weaver said:

That being said, in footnote 22 on page 64 Binswanger puts forth:

In the same passage, she speaks of "sensations as components of percepts." As explained in the text, I definitely disagree. However, this is not a philosophic issue, as she notes in the same article: "The knowledge of sensations as components of percepts is not direct, it is acquired by man much later: it is a scientific, conceptual discovery." [iTOE, 5]

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18 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

Is this the footnote, or at least the excerpt from it?

 

Yes, I believe that is the one.  Doesn't he mention the term "atomization" too?  And gives a reference to Lee Pierson/Gibson?

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8 minutes ago, New Buddha said:

Yes, I believe that is the one.  Doesn't he mention the term "atomization" too?  And gives a reference to Lee Pierson/Gibson?

He speaks of "atoms" of awareness in the chapter.

He is indebted to Lee Pierson for the points in the footnote and for encouraging him to study Gibson's works.

Are you asking for the whole footnote, or does the excerpt cover what you sought?

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3 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

Are you asking for the whole footnote, or does the excerpt cover what you sought?

The whole footnote would be very much appreciated.

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The footnote, the whole footnote, and nothing but the footnote:

This marks one of the very rare occasions on which I differ with Ayn Rand; she wrote "A percept is a group of sensations automatically retained and integrated by the brain of a living organism." Possibly she meant a group not of sensations but of sensory inputs, since it is hard to see how bits of awareness (sensations) could be integrated by the brain, which is physical. In the same passage, she speaks of "sensations a components of percept." As explained in the text, I definitely disagree. However, this is not a philosophic issue, as she notes in the same article: "The knowledge of sensations as components of percepts is not direct, it is acquired by man much later: it is a scientific, conceptual discovery." [ITOE, 5] Gibsonians also, with some justification, oppose using the term "percept," which connotes snapshots rather than an ongoing, continuous process. (In a few places I do use the term "percept," but simply for linguistic grace to go with "concept.") I am indebted to Lee Pierson for both of these points and for encouraging me to study Gibson's works.

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5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

A bowl of apples under my discussion here would not be an object or a percept any more than a group of lines is an object or percept. The mind can only retain this in an abstracted or non-perceptual way yet almost automatic. It has to be learned.

Without delving too much (at this point) into the validity/invalidity of Representationalism, are you aware of Lateral Inhibition?

From Wiki Link above:

In neurobiology, lateral inhibition is the capacity of an excited neuron to reduce the activity of its neighbors. Lateral inhibition disables the spreading of action potentials from excited neurons to neighboring neurons in the lateral direction. This creates a contrast in stimulation that allows increased sensory perception. It is also referred to as lateral antagonism and occurs primarily in visual processes, but also in tactile, auditory, and even olfactory processing. (Ernst Mach, whom I've referred to in various posts, discovered the visual phenomenon of Mach Bands.)

Bandes_de_mach.PNG

 

The "bowl of apples" is every bit an "object" as is an "individual apple" sitting in a bowl of apples. The distinction is made by focusing (or not focusing).  Seeing one or the other requires a conscious and willful act of directed attention.  You can switch between seeing the bowl of apples in one instance and seeing an individual apple in another.  Neither the bowl of apples nor an individual apple has any metaphysical priority over the other.  They are both metaphysically givens.

I've often been critical on this forum of those who confuse Objectivism with Object-ism.

Edited by New Buddha

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4 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Gibsonians also, with some justification, oppose using the term "percept," which connotes snapshots rather than an ongoing, continuous process.

To add to the above.

To often, Objectivists conflate the way an object looks with the object.  But perception is not limited to vision.  Almost all the example in the OP are centered around "seeing" objects.

Edited by New Buddha

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I don't get what lateral inhibition has to do with this. It just says that it's a way an object is distinguished as an object to your mind. It doesn't follow that, therefore, a bowl of apples is an object. It's a clear and definite multiplicity. We can go further to test this idea in scientific detail by using object tracking experiments - and that interpretation still depends on defining "object" first. As it turns out, there's little reason to say "multiples" are ever treated as wholes, except as abstractions. My point in the paper is that regardless of how our mind treats multiples, what makes something an object is a causal and systematic relation. Not only does a bowl of apples fail to be an entity - a perceptual whole object - it fails to be any object.

The bowl of apples is metaphysically given, but it's still not an object. "Bowl of apples" treated as a complete whole is a cognitively directed representation as a whole. Or at least, it is non-perceptual.

I didn't conflate "how it looks" with an object. In the paper, I don't limit objecthood to any mode of perception. I go into detail of why this does not matter. I explain that it leads to a subjective (perception-dependent) metaphysics.

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Why isn't this an elaborate example of the fallacy of composition?

Objects within the universe are bounded and limited in space. But this characteristic cannot be applied to the universe itself. For what then would be bounding and limiting the universe-object? There can be no boundary to the universe. The universe is everything that exists. It is merely a name for the collection of all things.

Edited by MisterSwig
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Why would it be an elaborate fallacy of composition? I explain in the paper that the composition isn't really important, and doesn't matter what something is composed of to be an object. I explain that causality matters. If I am wrong, then please argue against my claims or find the error if there is one.

The bound of a universe is all that exists, i.e. it is its own boundary. It is still boundless as far as a "hard limit" does not exist, but the universe is exactly as big as all things in totality that exist. However this is NOT sufficient for objecthood. So, I go on to argue that emergent, systematic, and relational combination is sufficient. I think that the universe meets those conditions.

Edited by Eiuol
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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Why would it be an elaborate fallacy of composition? I explain in the paper that the composition isn't really important, and doesn't matter what something is composed of to be an object.

Okay, first I applaud your elaborate writing. You clearly put some thought into this. It's a tough thing to grasp: the idea that the universe, as an object, is a metaphysical fairytale, much like God. If God's not in charge of everything and giving order to chaos, then what is? Ah, it must be the "universe."

It is certain atheists' (or agnostics') way of clinging to concepts like truth and goodness, which used to come from a higher volitional entity. Now they come from a higher nonvolitional entity.

When you hold such an idea you run into problems with logic and the law of Identity. Causality is Identity applied to actions of entities. How can the universe be binded by causality, if it's an entity? Where did causality come from? Did the universe cause that which binds it together? If so, how did it cause causality, before it was even an entity?

I hope that makes sense, because my brain is starting to hurt now.

Edited by MisterSwig

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The first part sort of makes sense. I talked about it a little bit, about Hindu philosophy. I reject this universe-object, its  foundation is mysticism and skepticism of the senses. I don't speak about stuff coming from a "higher object" at all.

How is -any- object binded by causality? I explain that components of objects are causally linked, and are binded thanks to systematicity. That part shouldn't be controversial, I imagine you agree as far as objects like a ball? The controversial part is if the universe is, too. I'm not proposing an "origin" to causality, like an unmoved mover. It's eternal - there is no start or end, there's only existence or non-existence to causality.

Edited by Eiuol

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47 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Causality is Identity applied to actions of entities.

The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. 

47 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

How can the universe be binded by causality, if it's an entity? Where did causality come from? Did the universe cause that which binds it together? If so, how did it cause causality, before it was even an entity?

As time is in the universe, the universe isn't in time1, so too causality is in the universe, the universe isn't in causality.

 

1. Part of a response in an ARI lecture to address the question: If existence is eternal, doesn't it follow that time is infinite?

Universe, as I've used it here, is intended to be synonymous with existence.

Edited by dream_weaver

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36 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action.

Yes, and "all actions are caused by entities." Are we going to parse the Objectivist canon now?

I don't know what you mean by your second paragraph. Are you implying that measurements of motion and laws of nature are entities?

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28 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Yes, and "all actions are caused by entities." Are we going to parse the Objectivist canon now?

Causality is Identity applied to actions of entities, reads as: Causality is entities applied to actions of entities, so yes, I looked it up.

28 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

I don't know what you mean by your second paragraph. Are you implying that measurements of motion and laws of nature are entities?

I thought it had essentially restated what you had said.

As pressed, yes, the measurements of motion entail entities, albeit man made units or entities serving as the base or standards of measurement, as well as man-made developments of processes of measuring. The laws of nature are metaphysical discoveries made by man, put forth using man-made entities [concepts] derived [abstracted] from the causal relationships of metaphysical entities.

Edited by dream_weaver

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

How is -any- object binded by causality? I explain that components of objects are causally linked, and are binded thanks to systematicity. That part shouldn't be controversial, I imagine you agree as far as objects like a ball?

Can we consider gravity and magnetism for a second? How do you see these things fitting in with your theory?

To me, these are the kinds of things that bind, or keep entities together. Gravity and magnetism are actual forces of nature which form objects. Whereas Identity and Causality are merely laws.

Causality does not act upon anything. It's an axiomatic concept that states an irrefutable truth about nature: that entities act in accordance with their natures. This doesn't mean that the concept in our head exists in some form out in nature. Acting entities exist. But the law is only our conception of how they act.

Are you mistaking a law of nature for a force of nature?

 

Edited by MisterSwig
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14 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

I thought it had essentially restated what you had said.

Ok. I see what you mean now. 

And yes, the concepts of time and Causality are mental entities. I wasn't even going to go there, but it might be helpful to maintain a fuller context of what constitutes an entity. Thanks.

Also, getting back to the idea of the universe as a supercomposition: Can we clearly define what is meant by this? Because if it means an uncomposable entity composed of every entity in existence, then isn't the definition self-contradictory?

In this view, the universe is assumed to be an entity that exists but is not composable. So it can't be part of itself. It's all of itself. Therefore, in this finer context, the universe is not actually composed of every entity that exists. It's composed of every entity except itself.

Does this pose a problem for the supercomposition theory? If the universe is not composed of every entity that exists, then what is it? What is this object that's made of everything but itself?

This is when people start replacing logic with faith. Faith in God. Faith in the Spaghetti Monster.

Faith in the Perpetuum.

All because hardly anyone can grasp the idea that the universe is merely an abstraction for the collection of all existents. And a collection is not a real, physical entity. It's only an existent within our conceptual minds, within the confines of our mental existence.

People who struggle with this idea will also struggle with the social concepts of individualism versus collectivism, because at the metaphysical level they have already accepted a collection as a real, physical entity.

Edited by MisterSwig

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I explain supercomposition this way: The solution I see is to say that objects are also the things entities supercompose into. Just as a table decomposes into molecules, certain entities may supercompose[7] into greater objects. In this way, all things that are objects depend on composability.

A supercomposition is the opposite of decomposition, and is a composition of entities - perceptual-level objects. A supercomposition is not an entity, as I reserve the word 'entity' for only perceptual-level objects. Nor is it an uncomposable object. A supercomposition is supposed to be a type of object "above" the perceptual level. That is, it is as apart from perception as molecules are apart from direct (unaided) perception. So, the first question is, are supercompositions a valid type of object? If not, then the universe is not able to be an object.

If supercompositions are valid, it still doesn't mean that the universe is necessarily an object.

It doesn't matter that the universe is composed of all objects to be an object. It's not a problem. An apple is made of molecules, but is only ALL of itself. An apple isn't merely "a set of molecules", it is a complete and total apple. That the universe contains all entities doesn't mean it can't be an object - it is a complete whole. I still distinguish from object and entity, so object is a more general category. We don't fall into Russel's Paradox because we aren't reasoning from set theory only. We would if I stuck to simple spatial relations without systematicity. That would make this a set theory problem.

A "society" would not qualify as an object under my thinking, it lacks emergence. We agree that a multiplicity or collection is not itself an object at all, it isn't a sufficient condition. My argument about the universe is that it is not JUST a collection of existents, it's not only conceptual. I'm not wedded to it, but there are no killing blows yet that I see.

For the record this doesn't alter or deny Objectivist premises. It's no conflict, which isn't to say no conflict can be found, in which case we ask "Was Rand mistaken?"

Edited by Eiuol

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I still distinguish from object and entity, so object is a more general category.

Given everything we agree on, let's then focus a bit on the concepts of object and entity. Rand argues that object represents the implicit concept entity. (ITOE, p. 6) An entity is a thing that exists. An object is a thing that exists that we perceive (or are aware of). In this view, entity is the more universal, or general concept. Thus, I suspect you are deviating from Rand at a very fundamental level.

I also hope to address your point about emergence and systematicity. But I need to take a break and think about it more. I'm pretty sure the central disagreement lies in your redefining of object, and not in whatever attributes you ascribe to the supercomposition, which is a much later development.

Edited by MisterSwig

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Actually I don't know anywhere Rand says that 'entity' is more general than 'object'. She says on page 5 that the concept 'existent' is the building block to knowledge. On page 6, she says "awareness of an object, a thing - is represented by the implicit concept 'entity' ". Flipped, that means " the implicit concept 'entity' represents awareness of an object". That's a slight paraphrase, but I looked at the pages moments ago. So an object isn't limited to what we are aware of, or what we perceive. I'd say here, on page 6, Rand is using the word 'entity' as "an object we are perceptually aware of". 'Existent' is more general than all of these, it's not limited to concretes, even concepts are existents.

Even if you were right, it only means I mixed up words. My argument wouldn't change if I swapped the words.

Edited by Eiuol

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