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The Anti-Concept of Anti-Reference; Paradox

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27 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Should say: such that C is a concept with zero or at least 2 referents, and r is a referent of C or just at least two referents.

Zero referents means invalid the way you say, but it is a concept as you say.

Eh, I for one would not invest time or energy in making someone else's rationalistic scheme make sense, thats up to him (or in general, up to them). Also making one referent a special case while accepting zero seems awkward.

Concepts exist before definitions of them, they have to to avoid logical paradox.  The instant you start making a definition of concept then one is discriminating between better or worse concepts, useful and useless concepts, valid or invalid concepts but not whether something is a concept or not.   Rand's definition follows the genus and differentia format.  Anything in the genus "mental integration" has to accepted as a concept in principle, and what conforms to the definition can be a valid concept.  Epistemology is a normative field, not something discovered and described.

Plurals are useful for referring to finite sets of particulars, but also depend on the word and language in use.  The plural of deer is 'deer', but there is no grand philosophical conclusion to draw from that.

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Regarding definition 2:

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(Definion 2)The concept of "anti-reference" refers to all pairs <C,r'> such that C is a concept with at least one non-referent, and r' is not a referent of C.

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Wouldn't it be easier on the crow epistemology to name this concept "non-reference?" After all, you are using it to collect together all of the non-referents of the concept C.

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On 2/6/2018 at 9:10 AM, Easy Truth said:

I see, so you emphasize the meaning of referent as what a word refers to, not the instances in reality that a concept refers to.

It is not a problem if you say that the referent of “dog” is “those existents that are dogs”. A “referent” is “a thing referred to”, and as long as you understand what it means to “refer”, there should be no problem. The question is, what things refer? A proper name, concept, or phrase can refer (the name “Rand” refers to a specific individual; the concept labeled “dog” in English refers to a class of animals; the phrase “the author of Atlas Shrugged” or “my dog” refers to a specific invidual, the latter being more dependent on context). In Classical Greek γνω- (gnō-) is only part of a word (or of many words), and it refers to “knowing”; the mathematical symbol ∂ is not a word, and it refers to “partial differential”.

 

Confusion may come from the fact that Rand says that concepts refer, but other things do refer, many of which cannot be concepts. ITOE focuses on concepts and not on language, so we do not know what her theory of “reference” would have been. She says (with bold added)

Language is a code of visual-auditory symbols that serves the psycho-epistemological function of convening concepts into the mental equivalent of concretes. Language is the exclusive domain and tool of concepts. Every word we use (with the exception of proper names) is a symbol that denotes a concept, i.e., that stands for an unlimited number of concretes of a certain kind.

A concept substitutes one symbol (one word) for the enormity of the perceptual aggregate of the concretes it subsumes.

Symbols include special letters, concepts and the other things I mentioned, but it is not clear what to do with phrases since calling a combination of words like “the author of Atlas Shrugged” a symbol stretches the notion of symbol. My account of “referring” is that a symbol or sequence of symbols refers. 


On 2/6/2018 at 9:41 AM, Easy Truth said:

One of the questions I have is: Is a "plural" automatically a concept? "Horses" is a concept? or is Horse-ness the concept? Or are both concepts?

The question of whether “horses” is a concept is a very good one, in my opinion. There should be no doubt that “white reindeer” (in English) is not a concept, it is a phrase, similarly “my book” or “the house” are not concepts, they are combinations of concepts forming phrases. “Horses” is a combination of two concepts (and a combination of symbols): one pertaining to the animal, which is a word in its own right, and another, the symbol referring to plural, namely -s, which itself is nota word. Because of how English grammar works, that combination is itself a word, which encodes constituent concepts in the same way that “the house” combines two constituent concepts (and symbols, and words).

There are no automatic concepts, but there are natural concepts, ones that easily arise from the nature of reality and the mind. Rather than saying that it is automatic, I would say that it is inescapable.

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3 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

The question of whether “horses” is a concept is a very good one, in my opinion. There should be no doubt that “white reindeer” (in English) is not a concept, it is a phrase, similarly “my book” or “the house” are not concepts, they are combinations of concepts forming phrases. “Horses” is a combination of two concepts (and a combination of symbols): one pertaining to the animal, which is a word in its own right, and another, the symbol referring to plural, namely -s, which itself is nota word. Because of how English grammar works, that combination is itself a word, which encodes constituent concepts in the same way that “the house” combines two constituent concepts (and symbols, and words).

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I see the complexity. Regarding "the symbol referring to plural, namely -s", one one hand I can see that it is referring to a group, each horse is a part of the group, like the leg of a table is part of the table. The group of horses forms one entity as a whole, so my question still is: Is that a "particular" vs. a concept? A plural could be seen as a mental integration as there is a one to many relationships between "horses" and all those horses it refers to. Yet it could be seen as one thing as in one "single" group. It also is not the same integration that is "horse" as in "horse-ness" which is a mental integration of each individual horse, all horses, past present (maybe future) ... anywhere. 

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On 2/6/2018 at 11:37 AM, Grames said:

Epistemology is a normative field, not something discovered and described.

I don't think I understand this. I translate this to mean that Epistemology is to show how one "should" know, not how one "does"  know. But I don't think you mean that so an elaboration would be great.

On 2/6/2018 at 11:37 AM, Grames said:

Rand's definition follows the genus and differentia format.  Anything in the genus "mental integration" has to accepted as a concept in principle, and what conforms to the definition can be a valid concept.

That was a description so it is where the confusion starts.

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7 hours ago, Easy Truth said:
Quote

 

Epistemology is a normative field, not something discovered and described.


 

I don't think I understand this. I translate this to mean that Epistemology is to show how one "should" know, not how one "does"  know. But I don't think you mean that so an elaboration would be great.

I mean exactly that.  Epistemology teaches how one "should" know, not how one "does" know.  "Knowing" here being an active process, and everyone having near complete, total mental freedom, it is therefore a choice to know.  First comes the choice to know, then logically afterward comes the attempt to know and the testing against reality.  Choosing to know is the essence of volition.

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Quote

The group of horses forms one entity as a whole

 

so my question still is: Is that a "particular" vs. a concept? A plural could be seen as a mental integration as there is a one to many relationships between "horses" and all those horses it refers to. Yet it could be seen as one thing as in one "single" group.

Not every “mental integration” is a concept. The sentence “Rand spoke at Ford Hall” mentally integrates many facts, and it is not a concept. Concepts are a specific kind of mental integration – where for reasons of cognitive economy, two or more existents are distinguished from others, and are represented with a single mental symbol. Just as there are multiple collocations of more than one horse which is identified by “horses”, there are multiple events of speaking at Ford Hall by Rand that are identified by that sentence. Refering to multiple existents is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for concept-hood. The whole point of the concept “concept” is that it is a parsimonious means of identifying things that have a perceptible similarity.

There is a concept that sort of covers the situation of horse-plurality i.e. horses as a group, though it is not particular to horses: “herd” (omitting measurement of the particular species, such as cow, horse, deer, cat). I think it is mistaken to think of horses in relation to herds (or individuals in relation to society) as the same thing as legs in relation to tables. You can build a society or a herd from a number of individual horses or people: you can decompose a table into a number of parts such as legs and leaves. In fact, I don’t think that “horses as an entity” is correct. Maybe separately you want to think over what an “entity” is, but saying “electrons as an entity” is the wrong way to talk about electrons.

The one thing I can see of interest about “horseness” is that it’s another example of a word composed of two symbols, each of which expresses a concept: we have “horse”, plus “-ness” which refers to “the mental product of abstracting the essential characteristics that define a concept”. Or, more succinctly, “that which defines…”. Clearly (I hope), that which defines horses is not the same as horses. Actually, because of its tainted association with the “problem of universals” and the question “where is the horsess in a horse?”, I would use people to not extend ‘-ness’ to nouns and demonstratives, as some philosophers do.

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