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Eiuol

Universe as Object

43 posts in this topic

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

On page 6, she says "awareness of an object, a thing - is represented by the implicit concept 'entity' ".

Either I'm living in an alternate reality, or you are. Or publishers have altered the text of ITOE since the second edition.

I have taken a picture of the relevant paragraph in ITOE. Please note that Rand did not write what you just quoted her as writing.

IMG_20161116_174559.jpg

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

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.

In both instances however, you are reliant on the "tool" light - whether you are looking at something with the naked eye, a microscope or a telescope.  You don't see either the molecule or the aspects of a table, you see the light reflecting off of them.  This is part of the point I was trying to make in my above posts.

I point this out for two reasons:

1) From ITOE, p. 194.

Rand: "I'm saying that when we speak of measurement, we begin with a perceptually given unit, and that unit is absolute and exact [within the context of our means of perception].   Then conceptually we may refine our methods and we many measure such things as milliseconds and a part of a subatomic particle, which we can't do perceptually.  But the standard of these measurements, the base from which conceptual complications may later be derived, is that which we perceive directly on the perceptual level; that is what measurement means, that is its base.  Therefore, when I say that for measurement there has to be a unit of measurement, I mean that even when you take a submicroscopic, conceptual type of measurement, that type ultimately has to be reduced back to our standard of measurement, which is the perceptually given, and nothing more or less."

2) Einstein understood this, and it formed a part of his Special Theory of Relativity with regards to the Relativity of Simultaneity and the train-platform thought experiment.  For the first time he pointed out that science must account for (in it's equations) how information regarding an event (measurement) is acquired.  And that the measurements themselves exist independent of the thing being measure - in a medium such as lightening flashes.

This dovetails nicely with Rand's insight on measurement.

It seems like much of what you are discussing is straddling different domains: Epistemology, Set Theory (which you note with your reference to Russell's Paradox) and Physics.

Why do you see it important that the Universe be regarded as an "object".  Which domain benefits?  What problem are you trying to solving?  What observation exists that is not already well served by one of the three domains listed above?

 

 

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1 hour ago, MisterSwig said:

Please note that Rand did not write what you just quoted her as writing.

IMG_20161116_174559.jpg

The only difference is she used plural instead of singular. I said it was paraphrased, and it looks like I almost got it verbatim. Is that what you mean?

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44 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

The only difference is she used plural instead of singular. I said it was paraphrased, and it looks like I almost got it verbatim. Is that what you mean?

No. Take a look at the conjugation of the verb represent. The way you paraphrased it radically alters the meaning of the sentence. And it's a very crucial meaning to get right. Precision is paramount here.

Edited by MisterSwig

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The first stage represents the concept entity. It is the representation of things which we are aware. It is not true in this sentence that Rand is saying that entities represent awareness of objects only (but she usually uses it that way elsewhere), it's just that the first stage is only awareness of objects. I mean, the first stage is OF awareness of objects, altogether representing 'entity'. The meaning of entity, here, is that it refers to objects that we are aware of (you would be right if she left out "awareness of"). That I see what you mean now, that it's not a good paraphrase, but it still not true that she's defining 'object'. She's talking about objects that we are directly aware of.

Edited by Eiuol

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LET US adopt the convention that the following:

X says/said "fdkjf kdj lkdjf lkdjf"

Is posted ONLY when whaterver is inside the quotes is ACTUALLY what X says/said, and not merely a restatement or paraphrase authored by the poster.

Seem reasonable?

MisterSwig likes this

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10 hours ago, Eiuol said:

That I see what you mean now, that it's not a good paraphrase, but it still not true that she's defining 'object'. She's talking about objects that we are directly aware of.

That's right. We are talking about axiomatic concepts, so we aren't going to get real definitions, only self-referential descriptions.

Let me try to put it another way.

The concepts of entity and object refer to the same existents in reality, but from different mental vantage points. As a young child your vantage point is wholly from your own perceptual-level consciousness. You haven't learned to conceptualize the contents of your mind versus the contents of the outside world. But in the process of doing so, you start to recognize that there are objects that are not you (the subject). The concept of an object therefore refers to something which a subject is perceiving and which is also separate from the subject itself. 

Only later can a more developed mind achieve a wider mental vantage point. Having abstracted existence from the various units of existence, a person now views reality from an advanced conceptual framework. He realizes that not only are objects the things that are separate from a conscious subject, they are also units of existence, i.e., entities.

Thus, an object is a thing in relation to consciousness, while an entity is a thing in relation to existence, which includes consciousness. And that's why I say that entity is the more universal concept. It comes out of a broader mental vantage point.

If we're still disagreeing, perhaps I can dig around in ITOE again and find some more relevant quotes.

Edited by MisterSwig

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12 hours ago, Eiuol said:

A supercomposition is the opposite of decomposition

I failed to notice this the first go-around, but I disagree here too. The opposite of a decomposition should be a  recomposition. And the opposite of super- should be sub-, as in a subcomposition, which, for purposes of this discussion, we might consider to be an object that is composed of no entities whatsoever. In other words, it's the reification of nothing--as its opposite, the supercomposition, is the reification of everything.

Edited by MisterSwig

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SL, do you really not see how what I wrote is still the same meaning? That is, it's not a significant or notable alteration of meaning. We still know that at the first stage, the content of the implicit concept 'entity' is the objects that we are aware of. Any errors of comprehension are mine.

Swig, I don't know where you're getting the idea that, in Rand's writing, she said an object refers to only something a subject perceives that is separate from the subject. Objects are indeed separate from the subject, but on these pages she is not talking about "objects", she's talking about "objects of awareness". This is narrower. She then talks about the concept 'entity'. Further, there is no place I know of she even is totally clear that 'object' is a different concept than 'entity'. So I make it clear in my paper, and limit entity to 'objects of awareness' as opposed to almost synonyms.

Also, units of existence are existents - unless you mean concrete units of existence?

Anyway, if objects are the things that are separate from a conscious subject, well, you already said that objects are things that exist concretely. So then it can't be just a thing in relation to consciousness. In other words, from Rand's reasoning, 'object' isn't going to pertain to a developmental process.

Supposing I were wrong, how would my distinctions in my paper specifically make problems given definitions I gave for -my- terms?

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

SL, do you really not see how what I wrote is still the same meaning? That is, it's not a significant or notable alteration of meaning. We still know that at the first stage, the content of the implicit concept 'entity' is the objects that we are aware of. Any errors of comprehension are mine.

One NEVER misquotes others if one is being honest.   It's really simple IF you take exact words put them in quotes.. if NOT simply don't put the words you have put together in quotes.  Period. 

 

Not being honest:

Lincoln once said:  "87 years ago, those before us made a new country on this continent"

Kennedy once said: "Ask yourself what you can do for your country not what your country can do for you."

Armstrong once said: "It's just a little step for me but it means much more for humanity"

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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Perceptual Ontology appears to be a "solution" looking for a "problem".  This post is just degenerating into a game of definitions.

What concrete problem does Perceptual Ontology solve?  Why is it necessary to form the new concept.

Rand's Razor:

The requirements of cognition determine the objective criteria of conceptualization. They can be summed up best in the form of an epistemological “razor”: concepts are not to be multiplied beyond necessity—the corollary of which is: nor are they to be integrated in disregard of necessity.

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Objects are indeed separate from the subject, but on these pages she is not talking about "objects", she's talking about "objects of awareness".

I suggest studying chapter four of ITOE. Pages 29-31 should be sufficient for you to get a sense of what I'm talking about.

For example:

IMG_20161117_095722.jpg

Here Rand uses object to refer to the content of a consciousness.

And she does it again on the next page:

IMG_20161117_095443.jpg

And there she even makes it clear that the object-content refers to things in (or derived from) the external world, as opposed to the internal world of consciousness.

You ask how misdefining terms would cause specific problems for your theory. For one, it invalidates your very definitions, instructing you to begin anew with more precision and clarity. I cannot redefine your terms for you, although I have certainly tried.

If you cannot dispense with the whole theory altogether, why not begin with the idea that the universe-as-object must be available to our perceptual awareness? You seem committed to the notion that the universe is some kind of superobject, beyond our perceptual grasp; but then you go on to describe its attributes and relationships. So clearly it should be available to our perception, even if we are only capable of looking upon it from the inside, correct? Like Truman Burbank gazed upon his superobject in The Truman Show, we should be able to do the same with ours. 

[Deleted extraneous image]

IMG_20161117_095614.jpg

Edited by MisterSwig

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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

One NEVER misquotes others if one is being honest.   It's really simple IF you take exact words put them in quotes.. if NOT simply don't put the words you have put together in quotes.  Period.

Seriously, I literally said I paraphrased. Please don't go calling me dishonest when I stated it's a paraphrase, I didn't take exact words, and I never said I quoted her. Sorry I didn't edit out two quotation marks? I said it was paraphrased right after that in the same post. So anyway, don't go derailing or saying I'm somehow twisting anyone's words. Let's be productive here. By definition, a paraphrase is a "misquote", i.e. not what the original writer wrote. Dishonest would be claiming I quoted her.

Buddha, I'll get to your posts later. (You have good points I want to address)

Swig, the first quote would mean that objects of any sort can be involved in awareness, and any state of awareness always has objects as the content. Yes, here, object refers, in this sentence, to the content of awareness, there's no reason to suspect she has any unique usage of the word "object" besides what people usually mean. Entity is a concept especially applicable to the development of one's cognition. All entities are objects, so it's at least arguable that Rand thinks objects and entities are synonyms. We know, though, Rand doesn't tell us in any clear/definitive way that objects and entities differ. She uses a few different senses of the word 'entity', as in different concepts.

Overall, there's no reason to think that Rand is narrowly limiting 'object' to directly available perceptual things. And she's clearly saying the content of awareness can't be contentless, the content will always involve external existent. Thus, we don't get "objectless content" or "pure hallucinations".

I go on to say that my terms are defined, and you know what I mean. Whether I disagree with Rand is one point, but still keep in mind my reasoning STARTS with entities as Rand means it. I introduce 'object' as a distinct concept to work with. Call it object2. Even Peikoff uses the idea of two definitions, one descriptive, one normative. Also, identical words are sometimes okay to use for different concepts. I am using object2 as 'all external stuff that are concrete'. It is not limited to direct perceptual content. (This is in the paper)

" beyond our perceptual grasp "

No, I say it's not DIRECTLY available, like a molecule requires a microscope. Tool-assisted is indirect. I discuss how "beyond perception" is invalid. So, I go to wonder why molecules are objects and wholes if we can't see them as we do an apple.

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Let's try something else, because now you're alternating between variations of the concept object. When I was trying to focus on one of them.

You claim that looking at a molecule through a microscope is an indirect perception, whereas looking unaided at an apple is direct perception. And this seems to be why you distinguish entity versus object in your particular way. But this indicates a misunderstanding of perception. Perception is direct awareness. There is no "indirect perception." Such a thing does not exist.

You perceive what you perceive. Nothing more, nothing less. You perceive a magnified, reflected image of a molecule through a microscope. That is the direct perception. There is no indirect perception to be had. Such a thing is impossible, unless you redefine perception to mean conceptual knowledge.

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3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Let's try something else, because now you're alternating between variations of the concept object. When I was trying to focus on one of them.

They aren't variants really, I'm using it in a standard way, it is just odd you insist somehow Rand says the term 'object' to only denote objects of awareness. I don't know how else to say I don't know where you see Rand saying this. Keep in mind I said "only" in that sentence.

Seeing a molecule is perhaps best expressed as not readily available to perception. So I'd probably edit it to make this clearer. For a molecule to be perceivable without merely inference, a tool is needed. As objects, we can't notice them as kids. So I use entity to only denote what we see unaided, what we use to form the concept 'entity' in the first stage. 'Object' I use as a generic concrete existent regardless of awareness. In other words, our ability to see a concrete wholly as a singular doesn't determine that ONLY such concrete singular wholes are real.

By the way, you make good points, and it is the sort of critique I was looking for.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

it is just odd you insist somehow Rand says the term 'object' to only denote objects of awareness.

I didn't insist on that. I was trying to show how Rand used object as opposed to entity in her theory of conceptual development, because you made a point of distinguishing these terms in your essay about forming a new concept. Obviously Rand uses these words in other contexts. As do I.

I have one or two more objections which I'll save for tomorrow. In the meantime, you should read the workshop section in ITOE called "Entities and Their Makeup." (p. 264) The first ten or eleven pages are particularly relevant. In the section she makes a distinction between metaphysical entities and epistemological ones. (pp. 271-72) She also makes a distinction between primary entities and dependent ones. (p. 273) At the end she also examines whether the universe is an entity. (p. 273)

It's important to note that in this extended conversation about the nature of entities, nowhere do the philosophers or Rand bring up the word object. Yet object is used many times in the fourth chapter, entitled "Concepts of Consciousness."

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

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.

You present three conditions that, if met, should establish a group of objects as a composition, and thus an object. You then argue that the universe meets these conditions, thus making it a supercomposition and an object. I'll present an objection or two for each condition identified.

Systematic

While it's true that causality is a law of nature, there are at least two types of causation: physical and volitional. Most actions in the universe are caused by physical entities. But some are caused by mental entities. And the mental actions, specifically those in humans, are affected by the faculty of choice. I do not see this fact accounted for in your view of the universe as systematic.

Also, you argue that "there is nothing to remove from the universe, and there is nothing to add." Yet a type of causality, human volition, and more generally consciousness itself, is added and removed every minute of every day on Earth, as new people are born and old people die.

Relational

Again, you leave out mental existence, and describe only the spatial and chronological relationships between physical objects.

This failure to integrate mental existence with the theory of compositionality might exemplify a more fundamental failure to integrate mental existence (consciousness) with the conception of object by mentally distinguishing it from entity during the early stages of conceptual development.

Emergence

You present time as an emergent quality of the universe. But time is a quality of objects in motion, not the universe. Time is a measurement of motion, which would not be a unique trait for a supercomposition, since even molecules move.

Bonus Objection

Without being able to perceive the supercomposition directly, how can you ever be certain that a particular phenomenon actually emerged from the universe? Perhaps time, or anything else, is an emergent quality of a composition before the supercomposition. Perhaps there is a pre-supercomposition, beyond which exists even more entities of the universe. Perhaps these entities have no time and therefore cannot be composed on that basis.

It does no good to counter that the universe is necessarily composed of all things, because you did not start from a conception of the universe. You started from perception of entities. Thus you must get from the entity-level object to the universe-level object. Which now seems impossible, since, again, you have no means of objectively identifying a universe-level emergence.

Edited by MisterSwig

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On 11/17/2016 at 1:36 PM, New Buddha said:

Perceptual Ontology appears to be a "solution" looking for a "problem".  This post is just degenerating into a game of definitions.

Well, I would say calling light a tool is wordplay and metaphorical. It's like calling eyesight a tool, so you can't see the world as it is. Clearly, the apple doesn't travel INTO your eyeball if you see it, but it doesn't therefore mean you only "really" see light and not the apple. You still see the apple, or more specifically, you see what apples look like through telescopes, or eyeballs, or x-ray film. So it is the apple you see, in different forms. I distinguish objects like molecules since before microscopes, it'd be impossible to see them as a whole, or at all.

I don't know how or what is important about regarding the universe as an object. On the one hand, I don't see it as altering any Objectivist epistemology. On the other hand, it does get at denying Cartesian and Kantian big 'R' Rationality by emphasizing the intimate relation between all things that exist, and spiral theory of knowledge. Set Theory and Physics may be helped, but I haven't studied either a lot. I'm proposing a deeper systematicity than the universe-as-multiplicity has. It's not just existence as a conceptual existent.

As with any idea, it is not always clear what implications are. What makes an atom an object, but not a galaxy? At least this is one attempt at answering related questions. I called it perpetual ontology by the way, intended to call into question perceptual ontology as I defined it. Under perpetual ontology, I see over-emphasis on human modes of perception. That's great for epistemology, but not for metaphysics.

I'll get to Swig again another time.

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