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MisterSwig

Rand and Peikoff on the Standard of Value

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1 hour ago, MisterSwig said:

Sure, but isn't that like asking, "If standards were birds, wouldn't using bird-related words be valid?

Absurdity aside, yes, it's the same as asking that. Words about construction can apply to both concrete and abstract things. There are tons of words that began only referring to concrete things, but their usage was so useful and valuable that they were then applied also to abstract things. If you do not believe that concepts are constructed, but are rather taken directly from an intrinsic quality of an object, then words about construction wouldn't work. 

I'm not saying use words about construction because they make sense. I'm saying that what's going on really is construction.

I pretty much agree with ET's post by the way.

Edited by Eiuol

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7 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

I'm not saying use words about construction because they make sense. I'm saying that what's going on really is construction.

Two points:

1. A concept is a mental integration, not a construction. In physical terms, it's the difference between piling up a tower of oranges versus cutting and squeezing them into a glass of orange juice and discarding the peels and pulps. How is your mental construction constructed?

2. Doesn't your idea require the assumption that, in the beginning, inanimate matter constructed life out of itself? Do you also attribute this construction ability to non-living entities? Or would you say that life always existed?

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1. A mental integration would still be a type of construction because it requires active participation in putting together abstract parts. It's fine that these words become more abstract over time, especially when they apply to more and more knowledge.

2. The only thing that could make abstract constructions like this is something with awareness at the very least. The origin of life has nothing to do with this. I don't even know why you think "constructing life" has to do with this.

 

Edited by Eiuol

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

. A mental integration would still be a type of construction because it requires active participation in putting together abstract parts. It's fine that these words become more abstract over time, especially when they apply to more and more knowledge.

You are both right. Swig is saying it is not a "physical construction".

You are saying it is type of construction as it requires effort to build something.

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"Built in" already implies the intelligent design that we all want to stay away from. (although not metaphorically)

If one does not see it as metaphorical, does that mean it is actually built in? If so, by whom or what?

Automatic responses simply are. The logic that drives them is epistemological.

Logical necessity is not metaphysical.

The desire for the species to propagate falls into that category too.

There is no desire anywhere.

There is no (metaphysical) necessity for a species to survive.

But the process exists. 

Is it going by a standard that is in our DNA?

DNA simply reproduces at the cellular level.

Sometimes introducing mutations that are bad, sometimes good.

But there is no standard that it goes by.

DNA has no standard in mind, to help the species maintain itself.

Evolutionary forces also don't have a standard even though it may seem like it.

They don't have any preference for this species or that species.

There is no Standard out there.

The standard is in the mind.
 

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

The origin of life has nothing to do with this. I don't even know why you think "constructing life" has to do with this.

Because earlier you said this: "we are put together like bookcases from IKEA. Not that there is a creator piecing together everything with an explicit goal in mind. Many individual living cells work together to gradually construct each part of the body. Yes, I do mean construct. The cells respond to the environment such as proteins, they are self-sustaining, and they are teleological. In this way, inbuilt makes sense." So, if there is no God, who or what constructed the first life form? Or did life always exist?

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35 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

The cells respond to the environment such as proteins, they are self-sustaining, and they are teleological. In this way, inbuilt makes sense." So, if there is no God, who or what constructed the first life form? Or did life always exist?

Cells may be teleological in some way, but not to create a self sustaining body. (be it human, or horse, or tree)

The individual cell is acting to maintain its own life.

You may say, no it is maintaining the body as a whole.

Sounds like a collectivist type argument as in the individual is not important, it is the "group" that feels and moves and wants to survive.

Society is an aggregate, similarly a body is an aggregate of self sustaining cells.

It just happens that the way they work together that a self sustaining body "happens". 

There is no teleological intention behind it.

If there was, we would have no cancer. Cells that harm the body would stop harming or not harm in the first place. 

Are we to including the bacteria in the gut as being there intending to help with human survival?

These same bacteria, if they get out of the gut will kill you. 

If there was a "gauge" or standard guiding them, the moment they got out of the gut, they would self destruct or prevent themselves from harming the overall body.

They won't self destruct because the teleological goal has nothing to help the body survive.

They have no relationship with the survival of the overall body.

Yet, one can say, they help a human survive as an inbuilt mechanism.

Survival at the physical level just happens due to evolutionary forces in nature that encourage self replicating/sustaining systems. (encourage is not literal)

There is nothing comparing things to a gauge.

Inbuilt does not mean purposeful or intelligent enough to compare based on standard.

Inbuilt is as conscious as a chemical reaction.

Inbuilt is a complex chemical reaction.
 

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15 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

So, if there is no God, who or what constructed the first life form? Or did life always exist?

The post you quoted was about a different issue. That was addressing how you said man is not built like a piece of furniture. Constructing concepts is a different topic.

How did life first form? Who knows. There were probably proto-lifeforms like viruses that had some directed processes, but many others that were not. What counts is that any life form is substantially different from inanimate things in that it has self-directed processes - purposeful processes. The assembly is not conscious, but it occurs in a stepwise manner that is aimed at the formation of the organism as a whole. ET sort of has this idea, but I think he doesn't go far enough when he says this:

16 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

It just happens that the way they work together that a self sustaining body "happens". 

Not only do they work together, but proteins help to create a causal relationship so that they operate in direct regard for each other. Things just "happening" would be a colony of cells. That relationship is not goal directed. I won't get into the scientific details of how a colony of cells then begin to act together for some common end. I don't know enough about it. I'm pointing out the way that there really is a constructive, teleological end. In contrast, foreign substances or foreign organisms cannot be inbuilt, because they were not constructed by the organism (or the cells responsible for the development of that organism).

However, as far as biological development, the word innate might be more appropriate.

All of the above is a separate discussion. When I talk about concepts, I think going all in on construction is the best option. Concepts are deliberately created. The word inbuilt conveys that something like a concept exists, and that content was created by some biological mechanism. It's even an explanation of how organisms can act towards ends, which differentiates them from rocks or any inanimate object.

It is perfectly accurate to say:

17 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Inbuilt does not mean purposeful or intelligent enough to compare based on standard.

Inbuilt is as conscious as a chemical reaction.

But we should remember that if something is inbuilt, then we are saying that anything inbuilt (if we want to be accurate in how we use words about construction) it is more complex and implies some amount of purposeful action. 

Please remember that biological development is a distinct topic from conceptual development.

 

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On 11/24/2019 at 7:51 AM, Easy Truth said:

 

There is no Standard out there.

The standard is in the mind.
 

Yes. What does exist "out there" is life and man's life -- the metaphysical absolute. And "in the mind" of each man, the abstract standard of value for this ethics.

Naturistically, one can see man as life-form has no value-significance. Speaking metaphorically, no more than a field of grass, that's how much the universe values "man's life". Any individual, his species and the whole planet can come to an end this second without causing a blip. What there is, is for man to value man and his existence - and in actuality, for each to supremely value his/her own life, a purpose that no one else can possibly do for him.

Edited by whYNOT

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On 11/24/2019 at 5:21 PM, Eiuol said:

But we should remember that if something is inbuilt, then we are saying that anything inbuilt (if we want to be accurate in how we use words about construction) it is more complex and implies some amount of purposeful action

image.png.8e1346515f59e25adaa2890132a4840f.png

I think at some point, we will have to have a category of valid arguments based on valid metaphors. She even uses metaphors too and has to have citations as above. This was regarding

image.png.49d1c012f2c48c95eb5d973cd6a5c45f.png

This is from   https://courses.aynrand.org/works/the-objectivist-ethics/

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On 11/23/2019 at 7:23 PM, Easy Truth said:

A "standard" is a concept. Therefore it is not intrinsic or metaphysical.

The standard of value you are talking about is epistemological.
Swig is making a case for a metaphysical standard of value and I argue that such a thing can't exist.
A standard is a mental entity, and value is also "artifact of consciousness".
Neither (standard or value) is "real" in a metaphysical sense.

The only interpretation of metaphysical standard of value would mean an intrinsic standard of value.

As in "the functioning body" evokes the understanding, the need or love for existing.
That one can grasp the need to survive through observing "visually" a living body.
The "goodness" of life is emanating from the process of life.
In that case, one is motivated to live by looking at a tree.
As if the tree trunk communicates to him that life is valuable (without a need for conceptual activity).
As in the beauty of life is in the functioning body, emanating from it.

But in reality ...

The physical body can evoke a love or indifference or hate toward life (for some people). 
This reaction is varied in oneself or many others.
Since value and concepts are not intrinsic, then standard of value is not intrinsic/metaphysical.

Value is in the eyes of the valuer.
(In a sense) A plant does not have eyes so it can't see value. (this is poetic language) 
To be more accurate, a plant does not have grasping ability.
It cannot grasp value.
A standard is also meaningless to a plant.

It is as you say ,"only recognized by an observing consciousness" (to be specific, human consciousness)
As you demonstrated, to a viewpoint of a (human), the survival drive can be observed in a plant or amoeba. 
Its need or want to survive is your conclusion as a human, it is not the plant's conclusion.

The standard of value for the plant exists in your mind, it is an epistemological artifact i.e a conclusion or concept. 
It is not metaphysical/outside the mind.
 

Your questioning is at the cusp of existence/consciousness, certainly the right place to be I think.

Can't all those concerns be settled by two words? 

Identity and identification.

Indeed, "standard of value" is epistemological -- or, intimately adhering to one's identification of a metaphysical, objective fact. The "fact" here being man's identity, a consciousness which works a particular way, and a biological and vulnerable body with particular needs, each with limits within reality. Following those, an individual needing chosen, non-automatic, non-intrinsic values and requiring objective value-standards, qua man (if he chooses to live optimally in his moral interests).

Identically we can identify what other standards of value, for other, lower to higher, organisms are and optimally should be. If an entity e.g. has (effective)wings, it must fly. If the bird is constrained it must perish. It's own life the only referent point it can 'know'. All living things subsumed under self-generating, "goal directed action" for their survival and flourishing. Epistemology equates with metaphysics.

("...the need or love for existing": as you say. Watch a horse at gallop, and other animals "doing their thing", and the impression is strong that they enjoy practicing the action, in itself. "Purpose", while a goal-directed means, is fun, too.)

Edited by whYNOT

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I pretty much agree with what you have said. 

37 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

Can't all those concerns be settled by two words? 

Identity and identification.

I would add: Only when you have a valid identification.

37 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

("...the need or love for existing": as you say. Watch a horse at gallop, and other animals "doing their thing", and the impression is strong that they enjoy performing the action in itself. "Purpose", while a goal-directed means, is fun, too.)

The thing I was emphasizing there was: the the beauty, the inspiration it evokes, the pleasure it causes is not intrinsic inside the living thing doing its thing. The pleasure is generated by "you", the valuer. It can be different between people. Someone could think the galloping is ugly.

Why?

Because the beauty is not intrinsic. Otherwise all would see the same beauty.

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Two that come to mind are:

1. amoeba's goal

2. mental entity

I am not objecting to it, just noticing and I think a case has to be made for "the valid metaphor" as being able to convey the truth. That the raw truth may be too hard to comprehend or to communicate. One may have to indicate in which way it is a metaphor to prevent confusion for people who are looking at it based on different contexts (which she does). But even without that, sometimes a metaphor communicates well.

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21 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

But that's not a metaphor, that's a clarification. I don't see where she indicated a metaphor.

I agree that it can clarify things, but the examples I gave are metaphors, they are "as if" s. Now maybe I am using the wrong terminology but that is my understanding. An amoeba does not have a goal, but, if I say an "ameobi's goal", it is understandable.

She does not say specifically they are metaphors but we all use them to communicate and many times we do not indicate it.

My understanding is that mental entity is not literal either. But I find it very helpful and use it a lot myself, as do you.

 

Edited by Easy Truth
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23 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

My understanding is that mental entity is not literal either.

Rand stated that she used "mental entity" metaphorically in the ITOE appendix (p. 157). "Mental something" was the closest she could get to identifying a concept metaphysically.

Edited by MisterSwig

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From page 154 in the ITOE appendix:

Prof. A: When you say a concept is a mental entity, you don't mean "entity" in the sense that a man is an entity, do you?
AR: I mean it in the same sense in which I mean a thought, an emotion, or a memory is an entity, a mental entity—or put it this way: a phenomenon of consciousness.

It serves as a nice precursor to the page 157 reference:

AR: I kept saying, incidentally, that we can call them "mental entities" only metaphorically or for convenience. It is a "something." For instance, before you have a certain concept, that particular something doesn't exist in your mind. When you have formed the concept of "concept," that is a mental something; it isn't a nothing. But anything pertaining to the content of a mind always has to be treated metaphysically not as a separate existent, but only with this precondition, in effect: that it is a mental state, a mental concrete, a mental something. Actually, "mental something" is the nearest to an exact identification. Because "entity" does imply a physical thing. Nevertheless, since "something" is too vague a term, one can use the word "entity," but only to say that it is a mental something as distinguished from other mental somethings (or from nothing). But it isn't an entity in the primary, Aristotelian sense in which a primary substance exists.

 

 

 

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59 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

I agree that it can clarify things, but the examples I gave are metaphors, they are "as if" s. Now maybe I am using the wrong terminology but that is my understanding. An amoeba does not have a goal

The way she wrote it, and amoeba does have a goal. It actually says the nutritive function in the single cell of an amoeba, not the entire amoeba. The quote is saying that the nutritive function is a goal, but not purposive. I agree with the distinction, although I disagree with the words she chose to stand for those ideas. This isn't a metaphor, she is saying that an amoeba has a goal but probably not a purpose. Not something like a goal. A goal. There is nothing to suggest she didn't mean it literally. If you think that's wrong, then that's a flaw in her reasoning, not an example of her using a metaphor.

As far as mental entity, I wouldn't really say that is a metaphor. Rand was using a different definition of entity.

 

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19 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

This isn't a metaphor, she is saying that an amoeba has a goal but probably not a purpose. Not something like a goal.

My reading is that she is saying that from our perspective, third person human, we can see a goal metaphorically, but it (the cell) does not have any purpose in mind.

To take it literally would mean that the cell actually can choose an alternative and set a goal. You and I don't think that.

19 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

As far as mental entity, I wouldn't really say that is a metaphor. Rand was using a different definition of entity.

I can't disagree with that because we can define our way to make anything true or false. But I am willing to go with your definition if I knew what it is. When I say it is an entity, I will say based on x definition it is. Currently I am going by what she says.

Regardless, at some point, later on I think a case should be discussed regarding the concept of the "valid metaphor" and how it should be used, but right now I will let it go at that.

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I take back what I said about mental entities, now that the quote was posted. I forgot about that in the appendix. Her intention was a metaphor. I don't see what that has to do with this discussion though. She didn't say anything about metaphors in the essay we're talking about.

1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

To take it literally would mean that the cell actually can choose an alternative and set a goal. You and I don't think that.

Then read more carefully. She said goal directed as in actions that result in the preservation of the organism's life, which include automatic actions that require no awareness. It makes sense why she would say the nutritive functions of an amoeba and equally that to blood circulation of a human. Can an amoeba act with purpose by her definition here? Probably not. But it is goal oriented in a way that inanimate materials are not. This is why I think using words about construction are perfectly valid here and are not metaphorical. There is no argument here as to whether amoebas have any kind of awareness.

Edited by Eiuol

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6 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

I don't see what that has to do with this discussion though.

Not a big deal, it relates to statements regarding the nature of "choice". I am not sure if you are arguing that a cell makes a choice. All I am saying is that if we say it does, it is a metaphor.

 

10 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

But it is goal oriented in a way that inanimate materials are not.

Yes, sounds reasonable.

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9 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Not a big deal, it relates to statements regarding the nature of "choice". I am not sure if you are arguing that a cell makes a choice. All I am saying is that if we say it does, it is a metaphor.

 

Yes, sounds reasonable.

Footnote: p16

When applied to physical phenomena, such as the automatic functions of an organism, the term "goal-directed" is not to be taken to mean "purposive" (a concept applicable only to the actions of a consciousness) and is not to be taken to imply any teleological principle operating in insentient nature. I use the term "goal -directed" in this context, to designate the fact that the automatic functions of living organisms are actions whose nature is such that they *result* in the preservation of an organism's life".

 No choice, non-purposive, non-conscious, automatic. Not metaphorical. But the ~effects~ are goal directed. The effects are purely selfish, I remarked before (and no metaphor, either).

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1 hour ago, MisterSwig said:

It's weird how Rand used "goal-directed" when she took a whole footnoted paragraph to explain how she really meant life-preserving.

Then how was she going to encapsulate the entirety of "life"? Simplest organism to highest rational animal. Man's life obviously needs be included in a philosophical explication of life. Thus, goal-directed action by man: conscious, purposive, non-automatic. Life-preserving, although crucial, is the least of man's ends. 

The concept "goal-directed action" precedes and is the cause of the effect, self-preservation of life. For all life. So one can't jump the gun removing the first, straight to life preserving.

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