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dariusnoir

Your thoughts on my rambling critique of O'ism?

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Rand's epistemology divides the conceptual from the perceptual, contrasting the events which are ordained by the conscious ego at the conceptual level. This includes the processes of "integration" and "differentiation" of which the domain of consciousness has surpremacy at the conceptual level. Perceptions, on the other hand, are not necessarily conscious actions of the organism in general, but can stem from both voluntary and involuntary processes--circumventing the domain of the ego.

In examining these 'differentiatae' propounded by Rand and the followers of Rand, it cannot be said for certain that

A) that integration and differentiation of things at the perceptual level are a necessary and sufficient condition for consciousness (this stems from the zero-sum nature of the logical proposition forwarded by Rand and her associates and followers.)

:lol: (As a corollary to A) that the nature of cognitive integration and differentiation lies totally within the domain of consciousness.

Another epistemology that was destroyed by (earlier!) researches in cognitive science was the idea developed by the Austrian Economist, Ludwig von Mises--i.e. that the "ego is the unity of the acting being." As shown by researches in the domain of analytical psychology (and even some researches treating the living organism as a "black box"--behavioristic analysis), and cognitive neuro-linguistics, if objectivist epistemology is anything like that of Mises then it should fail the test of science most miserably.

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Regarding your qualifier that "it cannot be said for certain", the question of certainty is dependent on even having an epistemology, which is dependent on having a conceptual consciousness. I am not aware of any place in Objectivist writings that suggests that concept formation is either a necessary and sufficient condition for consciousness: rather, consciousness is a necessary (and not sufficient) condition for concept formation. As for your (b.) point, no Objectivist would say that the nature of conceptualization lies totally within the domain of consciousness. That's a vacuous claim, and Objectivists don't make vacuous claims.

Was there anything of substance that you wanted to say about cognition, epistemology or Objectivism?

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Perceptions, on the other hand, are not necessarily conscious actions of the organism in general, but can stem from both voluntary and involuntary processes--circumventing the domain of the ego.

No, they can precede the "domain of the ego" ie, the conceptual realm, but not "circumvent" it. For example, when you are startled by a loud noise, such as a gunshot, the physiological experience of fear begins before it has been processed by the conceptual faculty (as has been demonstrated in experiments.) But then it is up to the judgements of the "ego," after conceptualizations, as to whether the fear should continue or what should be done about it.

it cannot be said that integration and differentiation of things at the perceptual level are a necessary and sufficient condition for consciousness
Things can be differentiated (and associated) at the perceptual level, but integration occurs, as I understand it, at the conceptual level.

(this stems from the zero-sum nature of the logical proposition forwarded by Rand and her associates and followers.)

B) (As a corollary to A) that the nature of cognitive integration and differentiation lies totally within the domain of consciousness.

Another epistemology that was destroyed by (earlier!) researches in cognitive science was the idea developed by the Austrian Economist, Ludwig von Mises--i.e. that the "ego is the unity of the acting being."  As shown by researches in the domain of analytical psychology (and even some researches treating the living organism as a "black box"--behavioristic analysis), and cognitive neuro-linguistics, if objectivist epistemology is anything like that of Mises then  it should fail the test of science most miserably.

::yawn:: See David Odden's post above. Are you unaware that research, to be interpreted, must be interpreted based on some epistemology or other? Opposing premises (sometimes) lead to opposing conclusions. Look further into what the Objectivist Epistemology actually says, before making arbitrary, hypothetical claims about what it *might* mean to so and so if it *maybe* means this or that, please. And don't believe everything you hear from the "Scientific Authorities."

Edited by Bold Standard

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Consciousness is also necessary for perception. Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving reality, after all; if you cannot perceive, you cannot be conscious.

Consciousness does not require justification; it is axiomatic.

Objectivists also don't claim that all cognitive differentiation and integration is completely under conscious control. In fact, the integration of sensations into percepts is handled on an entirely automatic basis by your conceptual faculty; you couldn't go back to perceiving isolated, fleeting sensations like a lower animal or a baby if you wanted to.

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Regarding your qualifier that "it cannot be said for certain", the question of certainty is dependent on even having an epistemology, which is dependent on having a conceptual consciousness. I am not aware of any place in Objectivist writings that suggests that concept formation is either a necessary and sufficient condition for consciousness: rather, consciousness is a necessary (and not sufficient) condition for concept formation. As for your (b.) point, no Objectivist would say that the nature of conceptualization lies totally within the domain of consciousness. That's a vacuous claim, and Objectivists don't make vacuous claims.

Was there anything of substance that you wanted to say about cognition, epistemology or Objectivism?

I continue to maintain that, according to objectivism, we have concept formation if and only if we have consciousness. The proof is simple:

Since you have already accepted that concept formation implies consciousness, I will show, based upon the assumptions of objectivism, that consciousness implies concept formation.

Firstly, according to Randian objectivists, concept formation is a conscious development from things in our perception. Wherever there is concept formation, there is--as you admit--consciousness by necessity. On the other hand, assume we have consciousness without concept formation, then there exists an animal conscious without having possession of any faculties which unify and combine perception. . .

Before we lay the reductio, it is important to note that the change of wording from "associations" to "integration" from the perceptual to the conceptual level does not actually entail any real change in meaning. The only difference posited by the objectivist in such a word change is that "integration" is necessarily conscious whereas "association" is not. But objectivists should know that a fact is a fact, whether apprehended by a "deliberate and conscious act" or examined under the light of perceptual "association."

. . . So an animal consciousness having only faculties of "associativity" within its own perception would necessarily have involved a pre-conscious program of unity to the incoming somatic structures presented by its senses. The only way one could say that the processes of associativity of the perceptual domain are not deliberate would be for one to actually consciously feel the lack of deliberation within the unconscious. At any rate, it is impossible to qualitatively tell the difference between an organism acting consciously voluntarily or unconsciously involuntary--since the observer him/herself is already tied to the event in a voluntary (or perhaps even involuntary) way. All actions of organisms, as witnessed by the outside (objective!) observer, can be interpreted as consciously voluntary, and it makes absolutely no difference whether the outside observer characterizes the actions of another organism as "deliberately integrating" or "involuntarily associating."

A conscious animal without the deliberative faculties of integration and differentiation has no power to integrate himself as a conscious and deliberative being, and therefore cannot be conscious by an objectivistic standards.

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::yawn:: See David Odden's post above. Are you unaware that research, to be interpreted, must be interpreted based on some epistemology or other? Opposing premises (sometimes) lead to opposing conclusions. Look further into what the Objectivist Epistemology actually says, before making arbitrary, hypothetical claims about what it *might* mean to so and so if it *maybe* means this or that, please. And don't believe everything you hear from the "Scientific Authorities."

In fact, I am showing the impotency of objectivism as a valid epistemology--precisely because it is foundational. Anti-foundational coherentism and fallibilism are two epistemologies that are far superior in simplicity and power against objectivism. The main problem I have with Ayn Rand is that she spends little time in building a powerful epistemology so as to get to the really important political ramifications--most of those who are attracted to her "philosophy" are merely trying to create a psuedo-intellectual support stump for her fascist political theories.

In addition, the fact that consciousness is "axiomatic" is a resurrection of the cartesian "cogito ergo sum"--however, I can certainly say that ego consciousness is not the unity of the acting being of man.

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I continue to maintain that, according to objectivism, we have concept formation if and only if we have consciousness.  The proof is simple:

(irrelevant parts snipped)

The point you didn't seem to understand is that there exist many animals with consciousness, but no conceptual faculty. Dogs are an example. You should think about that particular point; and then I'd suggest that you read some of Rand's writings, since that might help you to understand Objectivist epistemology. I don't particularly care if you decide to reject Objectivist epistemology for rational reasons, but you do at least need to get a clue about what it is.

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In fact, I am showing the impotency of objectivism as a valid epistemology--precisely because it is foundational.

In other words, it is wrong BECAUSE it has a foundation, meaning it is WRONG BECAUSE IT HAS A BASIS IN REALITY. Can you say Kantian influence? I knew you could.

Anti-foundational coherentism and fallibilism are two epistemologies that are far superior in simplicity and power against objectivism.

Baseless assertion. But, of course, this must make it correct, no, because things that HAVE a basis are INCORRECT just for that very reason.

The main problem I have with Ayn Rand is that she spends little time in building a powerful epistemology so as to get to the really important political ramifications--most of those who are attracted to her "philosophy" are merely trying to create a psuedo-intellectual support stump for her fascist political theories. 

Ayn Rand considered epistemology to be the most important basis of philosophy. The most important thing, she indicated, was not necessarily WHAT you know, but HOW you know.

Fascism is the political system whereby the state dictates the use of private property. Ayn Rand advocates laissez-faire capitalism, you dolt, whereby the state has no control whatsoever of private property. The ideas are antithetical and opposed. But wait, I forget, capitalists are fascists because they oppose communism, and the only two alternatives are fascism and communism.

In addition, the fact that consciousness is "axiomatic" is a resurrection of the cartesian "cogito ergo sum"--however, I can certainly say that ego consciousness is not the unity of the acting being of man.

Descartes was a proponent of the primacy of consciousness, a theory that is thoroughly repudiated by Objectivism. That phrase, "the unity of the acting being of man" contains elements of both Hegelianism and Pragmatism, as well as being a baseless and undefined assertion.

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Consciousness is also necessary for perception.

Not unless you are using perception to mean something non-standard like "conscious perception". Robots running sophisticated vision algorithms can perceive and manipulate their environments, but they certainly arent conscious.

Similarly, computers are probably capable of concept formation without necessarily being classed as conscious. I suspect some would argue that these arent 'real' concepts since volition wouldnt be involved in their formation, but they would be functionally identical and would play the same role in structuring both perception and information processing.

Edited by Hal

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Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving reality. In order to perceive, you have to perceive via some means, which means you have to have a faculty of perception, and that faculty is consciousness. Q.E.D.

Computers do not perceive. Computers are not a valid analogy for any kind of mental functioning because they operate in reverse; all the conceptualizing, processing, perceptual information-gathering, etc. are done by the computer progammer prior to ANY function whatsoever of the computer. If you think computers perceive, hook a camera up to a computer and see what happens. Nothing, until you tell it to. Computers are tools of humans, they are not independantly functioning ANYTHING, not even the most sophisticated robots.

Computers cannot form concepts; in fact, anyone that actually KNOWS anything about computers knows that this is one of the overarching difficulties in making computers user-friendly. Computers can take measurements. They can measure all the angles and details of a person's face, but they cannot reach the generalization "face". Writing a program of sufficent detail to enable a computer to simulate possessing a generalization is immensely difficult.

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Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving reality.  In order to perceive, you have to perceive via some means, which means you have to have a faculty of perception, and that faculty is consciousness.  Q.E.D.
Consciousness involves perception, but this doesnt imply that non-conscious entities cannot perceive the environment. Spiders most likely arent conscious, yet it would be odd to say they had no means of perception. M-W defines perception as follows:

Main Entry: per·cep·tion

1 a : a result of perceiving : OBSERVATION b : a mental image : CONCEPT

2 obsolete : CONSCIOUSNESS

3 a : awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation <color perception> b : physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience

If insects and other non-human animals are capable of perception, then so are computers.

they operate in reverse; all the conceptualizing, processing, perceptual information-gathering, etc. are done by the computer progammer prior to ANY function whatsoever of the computer.
This is incorrect, a lot of recent work in AI has been based around machine learning, and there are many instances of machines achieving things which they werent explictly 'told' to do. If you mean that computers are incapable of learning without running programs, then this is trivially true but the exact same argument would apply to humans/animals, phrased in terms of biology.

Writing a program of sufficent detail to enable a computer to simulate possessing a generalization is immensely difficult.

However, difficult doesnt mean impossible. Edited by Hal

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Rand's epistemology divides the conceptual from the perceptual, contrasting the events which are ordained by the conscious ego at the conceptual level.  This includes the processes of "integration" and "differentiation" of which the domain of consciousness has surpremacy at the conceptual level.  Perceptions, on the other hand, are not necessarily conscious actions of the organism in general, but can stem from both voluntary and involuntary processes--circumventing the domain of the ego.

Nowhere did Ayn Rand or anyone else claim that perceptions "circumvent the domain of the ego", and I don't even know what that means. If you mean there is a short-circuit between the senses and something you can't name (awareness?), where reason is bypassed, then you are mistaken.

A) that integration and differentiation of things at the perceptual level are a necessary and sufficient condition for consciousness (this stems from the zero-sum nature of the logical proposition forwarded by Rand and her associates and followers.)
You are confusing consciousness with a conceptual faculty. They are not equivalent. Animals have consciousness, but they cannot and do not form concepts.

As far as where you say this fallaciousness stems from, to what logical proposition are you referring?

:) (As a corollary to A) that the nature of cognitive integration and differentiation lies totally within the domain of consciousness.

Well of course it does. Consciousness is a prerequisite for integration, differentiation, and all other forms of cognition. That which is not conscious has no need or use for cognition. Out of curiosity, why did you use "cognitive" as an adjective? Is there some other kind of integration or differentiation possible in the field of epistemology?

Another epistemology that was destroyed by (earlier!) researches in cognitive science was the idea developed by the Austrian Economist, Ludwig von Mises--i.e. that the "ego is the unity of the acting being."  As shown by researches in the domain of analytical psychology (and even some researches treating the living organism as a "black box"--behavioristic analysis), and cognitive neuro-linguistics, if objectivist epistemology is anything like that of Mises then  it should fail the test of science most miserably.

And if that were true, it would not hold up. But it isn't.

Also, do not fall into the trap of using science to define philosophy. Philosophy is the arbiter of measurements. Without philosophy one cannot create a system of math, define numbers, or anything upon which the physical sciences depend. All science is philosophy, but philosophy -- as a science involving consciousness, which defines all other science -- does not and cannot use numbers or math.

The physical sciences can validate or invalidate philosophy, but they cannot prove or disprove philosophic premise #1.

One is using a particular espistemology in either performing the science experiments, doing the math, or reading about the conclusions afterwards. There is an epistemological process involved in all of the above, and there's no way around it. If the underlying philosophy is bad, then so is the science.

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The physical sciences can validate or invalidate philosophy, but they cannot prove or disprove philosophic premise #1. 

What do you mean by this? Here are 3 examples I would give of science disproving philosophical assumptions:

1) The success of natural science has been a pretty strong vindication of empiricism, while also serving to descredit certain forms of theology. The metaphysics of Christianity, while perhaps not formally 'disproved', has certainly suffered several blows from the work of people like Gallileo and Darwin.

2) The truth of Laplacian determinism is ultimately a scientific question. If correct, it would disprove any philosophical frameworks which claimed that free-will existed.

3) Hubert Dreyfus interprets the last 5 decades of research in artificial intelligence as being an extended refutation of a certain kind of rationalism that has always featured in the philosophical tradition - the idea that all human reasoning is compuational and can be represented in a logical calculus. I would tend to agree with this analysis.

Edited by Hal

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Oops, I missed out the most obvious example:

4) Freud's invention/discovery of subconcious processes has had incalculable impact on pretty much every theory of consciousness, 'philosophical' or scientific, proposed after he published his work.

Edited by Hal

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1) The success of natural science has been a pretty strong vindication of empiricism, while also serving to descredit certain forms of theology. The metaphysics of Christianity, while perhaps not formally 'disproved', has certainly suffered several blows from the work of people like Gallileo and Darwin.

Only if you first have a philosophy about what the science means. The Christian take on Galileo is that "God made it that way", and on Darwin -- that his conclusions are fallacious based on the "missing link" idea, which they consider to be valid a scientific idea. The science is only as good and usuable as the philosophy used both to perform the science and to interpret it.

There is no such thing as "science" apart from "philosophy". All scientific questions are philosophic questions, and there is no reason for anyone to pursue any scientific endeavours except for philosophic reasons.

2) The truth of Laplacian determinism is ultimately a scientific question. If correct, it would disprove any philosophical frameworks which claimed that free-will existed.
Wrong. Philosophy determines what science measures and how, and what those conclusions mean. Without this, any experiments in any science are completely and utterly meaningless. You can measure cause and effect relationships, but on what basis? How will you determine what are causes and what are effects? Only a philosophy can do that.

3) Hubert Dreyfus interprets the last 5 decades of research in artificial intelligence as being an extended refutation of a certain kind of rationalism that has always featured in the philosophical tradition - the idea that all human reasoning is compuational and can be represented in a logical calculus. I would tend to agree with this analysis.

The subconscious can do things very quickly, without your explicit knowledge, and it does so all the time. This doesn't make it magical, or non-computational, or non-logical. It just means you aren't aware of it or of how it performs this feat.

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Only if you first have a philosophy about what the science means.
But it is exceptionally hard to define whether a statement is 'pure' philosophy or infringes on the territory of science - science has shown that a lot of seemingly 'self-evident' philosophical statements are nothing more than deeply held dogmatisms. A few hundred years ago, a claim 'life cannot come from non-life' would have been taken to be blatently obvious, perhaps even a 'logical truth', yet in our post-Darwin world this is no longer the case.

Wrong.  Philosophy determines what science measures and how, and what those conclusions mean.  Without this, any experiments in any science are completely and utterly meaningless.  You can measure cause and effect relationships, but on what basis?  How will you determine what are causes and what are effects?  Only a philosophy can do that.
I agree that science depends on some philosophy (and different philosophies will result in different attitudes towards science). However this does not mean that specific statements of philosophy cannot be 'disproven' by science. Science cannot rationally undermine its own foundations, but its foundations do not include the whole of philosophy. If Laplacian determinism had turned out to be true, science would have been unaffected (some would even say it had been vindicated), but any philosophy which proposed that free will existed would have been left in tatters.

The subconscious can do things very quickly, without your explicit knowledge, and it does so all the time.  This doesn't make it magical, or non-computational, or non-logical.  It just means you aren't aware of it or of how it performs this feat.

The discovery/invention of the subconscious was a matter of science, yet it has had tremendous importance for philosophy. Subconscious processing renders certain theories of the mind unworkable, just as modern research on perception disproves the naive empiricism of Locke and Hume. Edited by Hal

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But it is exceptionally hard to define whether a statement is 'pure' philosophy or infringes on the territory of science

A statement, any statement of any kind anywhere, is philosophic. Period. All science is philosophy. Philosophy does not "infringe" on the territory of science, in defines the need for science, what science is, and what it means.

- science has shown that a lot of seemingly 'self-evident' philosophical statements are nothing more than deeply held dogmatisms. A few hundred years ago, a claim 'life cannot come from non-life' would have been taken to be blatently obvious, perhaps even a 'logical truth', yet in our post-Darwin world this is no longer the case.
You, and those who held that view, misunderstand the term "self-evident". An external fact (one that is not internal, i.e. a fact of consciousness) is never self-evident. Observe the word "self" in the term.

I agree that science depends on some philosophy (and different philosophies will result in different attitudes towards science).

All science depends explicitly on a metaphysics and an epistemology. Nothing in any science can ever prove or disprove anything in metaphysics or epistemology. One must first have a particular metaphysics and epistemology to even ask a scientific question, let alone form a hupothesis and perform an experiment! The conclusion reached will always be consistent with the philosophy, good or bad, of the person reaching the conclusion. Science and numbers are not a substitute for the cognition (a process which by its nature has a set of rules which are followed, consistently or not) which must be used to reach a conclusion given the results of the science. The results of science are not philosophic premises. They are statements of metaphysical fact only.

"Water boils at 212F" and "Normal human body temp is 98.6F" are scientific facts, not philosphic premise. The philosophic and evaluative premise "one should not poor boiling water onto one's body because the temperature difference is too great and will damage it" is not a scientific conclusion, but a philosophic one. The statement presupposes the idea that damage to the human body is not desirable. Why? Philosophy.

However this does not mean that specific statements of philosophy cannot be 'disproven' by science. Science cannot rationally undermine its own foundations, but its foundations do not include the whole of philosophy.
It should include the whole of philosophy. You're forgetting all the bad science that's out there!

If Laplacian determinism had turned out to be true, science would have been unaffected (some would even say it had been vindicated), but any philosophy which proposed that free will existed would have been left in tatters.

A nothing statement. That isn't the case so there's no point in discussing it. Give me a true instance of what you're talking about and I'll entertain.

The discovery/invention of the subconscious was a matter of science, yet it has had tremendous importance for philosophy. Subconscious processing renders certain theories of the mind unworkable, just as modern research on perception disproves the naive empiricism of Locke and Hume.

It was a discovery of another kind of science. Psychology is also a science of consciousness as well as a physical science. It is a mixed science. Note that specifically, the discovery of the subconscious did NOT require math or numbers, it required only introspection and analysis.

I do not know what 'certain theories' you refer to, nor do I have any knowledge of any 'modern research' that 'disproves' empircism. Only introspection can prove it -- science can only validate it by being consistent with another philosophic theory.

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Well...here goes...

DavidOdden writes:

The point you didn't seem to understand is that there exist many animals with consciousness, but no conceptual faculty. Dogs are an example. You should think about that particular point; and then I'd suggest that you read some of Rand's writings, since that might help you to understand Objectivist epistemology. I don't particularly care if you decide to reject Objectivist epistemology for rational reasons, but you do at least need to get a clue about what it is.
Response:

I don’t believe that I am confusing our “conceptual faculty” with consciousness. But I am saying that there is a clear material (i.e. logically) link between such a faculty and that of consciousness. Objectivism, unless it divines a clear boundary between a consciousness possessing a “conceptual faculty” and one that does not, will not survive. Why would dogs not have a conceptual faculty? Dogs clearly identify and classify patterns and even react to such patterns in a very abstract way—though clearly on a lower level than human beings. A dog knows that a collision is a collision, whether it is into a tree, rock, building, or vehicle. A dog reads a grin (for some humans, a sign of glee and welcome) as a “showing of teeth”—a sign of aggression from the one grinning. Dogs clearly form “concepts” at a lower neurological level, forming classes of response to fit with the classes of stimuli that accumulate over time. Whether the dog chooses to “verbalize” concept internally or externally does not detract from its forming some kind of neurological organization and classification—which is the primordial groundwork leading to “abstraction” and “conceptualization.”

Jmegan writes concerning my “baseless assertion” that anti-foundational epistemologies are baseless.

Baseless assertion. But, of course, this must make it correct, no, because things that HAVE a basis are INCORRECT just for that very reason.

Response:

There is a difference between an epistemology without a foundation and a baseless assertion. In our everyday discourse, we justify baseless assertions daily—we like to call them “axioms,” “postulates,” or in plain English, “self-evident propositions.” But adding a predicate “self evident” to a proposition and stating that the proposition is true based on its own statement is radically anti-foundational. To say that a proposition is true is because it is “self-evident” is to direct the forces of justification (a mild metaphor) in the garb of “propositional authority” in order to justify a propositional attitude. In being anti-foundational, you assert that a self-evident proposition is clear by the very act of stating the proposition—then you have said that your proposition, in fact, says nothing at all. “Self-evident” propositions (i.e. propositions that ARE self evident) are not more or less demanding of evidence than regular propositions. If the evidence of the truth of a proposition is contained in the very act of stating the proposition then you have actually not said anything at all. One startling example is to assume you have two propositions which are each self-evident. By stating the first proposition, you assert the evidence that it is true as well as the second by stating the same. The propositional attitude of “manifestly true” or “necessarily true” means

The proposition “[proposition]” is necessarily true because we just stated [proposition]

And now we have to formulate the rules for meta-propositions to discuss what it means to attach predicates to propositions and then meta-predicates for meta-propositions requiring. . . —what easier way to maroon oneself outside the boundary human reason than to support such a program!?

Fascism is the political system whereby the state dictates the use of private property. Ayn Rand advocates laissez-faire capitalism, you dolt, whereby the state has no control whatsoever of private property. The ideas are antithetical and opposed. But wait, I forget, capitalists are fascists because they oppose communism, and the only two alternatives are fascism and communism.
Response:

To have a command economy over land and capital resources might be refutable, since government interventionism leads to chaotic planning and irresponsibility toward market forces. Nevertheless, any state having absolutely no control over private property is impotent—anyone owning land property could clearly hold off constitutionally any attempt for the government law enforcement and state national guard to apprehend the subject if guilty in violation of another law. Laissez-fair capitalism is just a code word for international corporate fascism which can thwart and change at will the political currents and eddies of any state considered “socialistic” or “anti-capitalistic,” U.S. State Dept. code words for real thriving democracies.

On the other hand, do not think that I am an advocate of Stalinism, or that my understanding is fundamentally “Marxist”—a code word for the corporate fascists, meaning “those who endanger our profit margin.”

Descartes was a proponent of the primacy of consciousness, a theory that is thoroughly repudiated by Objectivism. That phrase, "the unity of the acting being of man" contains elements of both Hegelianism and Pragmatism, as well as being a baseless and undefined assertion

Descartes was a proponent of the primacy of consciousness—but primacy here means something that is “irrefutable” vs. something doubtful. Other beings, chimeras, and events, are doubtful at best, while the Cartesian cogito has itself as evidence of “existence.” Objectivism repudiates the skepticism that leads one to affirm alone the cogito—but the proposition that will make or break objectivism is nothing more than the identity principle.

To say that “A is A” is as useful/useless as saying A, depending on what precisely A is. It is just as meaningless to say that “A is A” as it is to say

“ ‘A is A’ is true from the fact A.”

Perhaps a not-so-cynical expansion of the “A is A” would stand better—viz, “A is A” means precisely that A exists independent of the person asserting “A exists” But then another would say that I as the author of the last statement would require paraphrase:

“ ‘The fact that any given thing is what it is independent of the person asserting this statement’ is a fact independent of the person asserting or realizing the this statement”

A very good example of what Douglas R. Hofstadter calls a “strange loop.” My point is that such statements as “A is A,” paraphrased properly to fit what the objectivists are really trying to say gives us no true epistemology. Instead, we are forced to accept a foundation asserted violently against all need for justification—hidden within the twists and turns of self-reference. You cannot obliterate the qualitative by infusing identity and numeration toward the quantitative. At the source of all “objective” phenomena is a link to how a person “feels” or is “consciously aware” or has “felt needs or responses” to the phenomena. At this juncture, the existence of a thing is highly dependent upon these qualitative accounts given by the consciousness—and the statement “A is A” does nothing to assert the identity of a thing aside from the qualitative account.

Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving reality. In order to perceive, you have to perceive via some means, which means you have to have a faculty of perception, and that faculty is consciousness. Q.E.D.
Do you perceive the means to perceive the faculty of perception? Your argument sounds like another “strange-loop”

[(A is C) & (C implies M) ] implies M is A

Proposition 1: Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving reality

Proposition 2: Perceiving implies a means of perceiving [of which is now by reductio imperceptible!]

Conclusion : Therefore consciousness is means of perceiving or the “faculty of perceiving reality.”

Why didn’t you just stick to “A is A”?

TomL writes:

Nowhere did Ayn Rand or anyone else claim that perceptions "circumvent the domain of the ego", and I don't even know what that means. If you mean there is a short-circuit between the senses and something you can't name (awareness?), where reason is bypassed, then you are mistaken.

Your right of course about Ayn Rand (as I thought about it more, I realized that her own epistemology—or really faux epistemology—is like a snap-dragon at her feet) , in humans as well as animals, reason is bypassed daily by the unconscious—both in dreams and in states of insanity.

(In response to my statement “Perceptions, on the other hand, are not necessarily conscious actions of the organism in general, but can stem from both voluntary and involuntary processes--circumventing the domain of the ego.”)

You are confusing consciousness with a conceptual faculty. They are not equivalent. Animals have consciousness, but they cannot and do not form concepts.
Actually, I am not. Consciousness is a necessary condition for conceptualization, without consciousness—there is no conceptualization. But in all consciousness, there is conceptualizing on many different levels, both verbal, nonverbal, action and inaction. The only criterion objectivists assert between conceptualizing consciousness and the non-conceptualizing consciousness is the fact that the conceptualizing consciousness is “aware” of the fact that they are forming concepts. But, as I (should have) said before, there is no reason to suppose that conceptualizing (i.e. organizing and categorizing classes of stimuli and developing classes or categorical responses to stimuli) is solely limited to organisms in possession of an ego.

As far as where you say this fallaciousness stems from, to what logical proposition are you referring?

Actually, the proposition is that conscious integration and differentiation is precisely what we call conceptualizing. My point is that conceptualizing has qualitative roles within the unconscious domain of integration and differentiation—and these roles can be examined phenomenally within our own dreams, myths and legend. These qualitative roles are seen by the sheer nature of the “willful” and “goal oriented” impulses within the simpler domain of unconsciousness. Conceptualizing is not a program inaugurated by the ego—but an ending, or a tag to a vast program of unconscious activities of perceptual and internal somatic conditioning. Whereas Rand (and Mises) assert that the ego commands the whole of the human psyche, I say that the ego does nothing more than to haphazardly place sticky notes over the entire dominion of all rude phenomenon that enter by force.

Also, do not fall into the trap of using science to define philosophy. Philosophy is the arbiter of measurements. Without philosophy one cannot create a system of math, define numbers, or anything upon which the physical sciences depend. All science is philosophy, but philosophy -- as a science involving consciousness, which defines all other science -- does not and cannot use numbers or math.
Take it or leave it—philosophies eventually tumble down the black hole named ALL THAT IS SHOWN BY NATURE TO BE FALSE. Philosophy is the (sometimes asinine) laws of thinking and analyzing of what we say to each other and making damn sure they (our statements) conform to reality. Rudely speaking, Science is the study of reality. Without philosophy standing in the way, we can see reality in a better frame of mind.

“The physical sciences can validate or invalidate philosophy, but they cannot prove or disprove philosophic premise #1.”

Which is precisely why philosophy is unscientific and has nothing to do with reality. In a better example, try proving the following:

Vulcan is the planet closest to the sun.

Proof: Either the statement “Vulcan is the planet closest to the sun” is true or false, if false, then “Vulcan is the planet not closest to the sun” is true…etc

So a statement and its internal negation give you no way to find out the truth of the statement—but yet we also have the problem of having two contradictories being false, so logic using the law of excluded middle is useless. In like manner, we realize that statements asserting things that have no bearing on reality are—in fact—meaningless, and therefore you might as well say they are false.

One is using a particular espistemology in either performing the science experiments, doing the math, or reading about the conclusions afterwards. There is an epistemological process involved in all of the above, and there's no way around it. If the underlying philosophy is bad, then so is the science.

Science is not epistemology. It has nothing to do with “truth verification certificates” concerning propositions. The data at hand from multitudinous experiments and observation, provides at best a way to point to generalized propositions useful for continual testing—but no science asserts the primacy of a propositional attitudes (developed by the hacks of “epistemology”) over the eventual impeachment of propositional attitudes by experiment!

[Cf. s.v. “fallibilism” and the “problem of induction” ]

Edited by dariusnoir

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No, they can precede the "domain of the ego" ie, the conceptual realm, but not "circumvent" it. For example, when you are startled by a loud noise, such as a gunshot, the physiological experience of fear begins before it has been processed by the conceptual faculty (as has been demonstrated in experiments.) But then it is up to the judgements of the "ego," after conceptualizations, as to whether the fear should continue or what should be done about it.

That is a serious mistake in observation. In going through a potentially life threatening traumatic event, the ego barely has enough time to reflect on what is happening before the R-brain autonomic reflexes 'kick in.' If you hear a gunshot fired two inches from your head, you are going to duck and blink--or react in some way without as much as a tiny second of refection from your own ego. In fact, you may later find yourself in a rather ego-bruising situation of having to remember after the fact what precisely you did once the ear drum busting event startled you from your activities. If someone even pretends to throw a knife at you, you will "blink" without any deliberation from your consciousness. Clearly not the work of a reflective conscious effort to "deliberate" how to react to an exploding car, a thrown knife, a tarantulla falling on the back of your neck, or a swarm of yellow jackets.

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One of the ironic things about this thread, is that Von Mises was a Kantian, epistemologically-- and his philosophical beliefs were hated by Rand, as she always stated any time she said something favorable about his economics.

Dariusnoir is also a Kantian, epistemologically. Although he presents his case as though he maintained one position, whereas Von Mises and Rand maintained a counterposition, the reality is that his epistemology and Von Mises' are identical, whereas Rand refutes them both.. and in his case, earlier(!).

Well, sorry, Dar.. but as soon as you assert that groundless arguments are the only ones that are valid, everything else you say is pretty much worthless.

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One of the ironic things about this thread, is that Von Mises was a Kantian, epistemologically-- and his philosophical beliefs were hated by Rand, as she always stated any time she said something favorable about his economics.

Dariusnoir is also a Kantian, epistemologically. Although he presents his case as though he maintained one position, whereas Von Mises and Rand maintained a counterposition, the reality is that his epistemology and Von Mises' are identical, whereas Rand refutes them both.. and in his case, earlier(!).

Well, sorry, Dar.. but as soon as you assert that groundless arguments are the only ones that are valid, everything else you say is pretty much worthless.

I can imagine that you are correct if only you had the specifics--but instead, I find myself adding specifics and refuting myself with your cicada-shell rhetoric. Now, instead of examining a REAL refutation to my arguments, I have to search through tomes and ask myself if whether or not Mises was a Kantian, and why some crackpots and cranks might consider him a Kantian or not a Kantian--etc, etc...And then I have to continue defending a position I didn't even take, namely that of having a fanatic belief in "groundless arguments." I never defended a groundless argument--what I said concerns having epistemology without a foundation--an epistemology is not a system of axioms which find themselves upon the shoulders of some axiomatic Atlas! An epistemology is a theory, a world hypothesis, a unifying scheme concerning reality and the origin of human knowledge--as it is a heterogenous theory, it is not a monomorphic system of axioms. You can have an anti-foundational epistemology with arguments that are far from baseless! Why do I have to play this stupid "one-of-these-things-is -not-like-the-other" game and go round and round?

I know that "Kant" is a bad word (esp. if you say it with a German accent), for Randians like yourself and I can respect the demons that you love to hate and hate to love. Just by the way Rand throws around the word "epistemology"--like a rag doll--I just can't take her too seriously. Though I like her narrative concerning the two major archetypes of "Attila" and "The Witch Doctor"--I find her prose littered with some brilliancies followed by thrashing around in her egoism.

A worthy example:

[1]Man’s consciousness shares with animals the first two stages of its

development: sensations and perceptions; but it is the third state [stage?],

conceptions, that makes him man. [2]Sensations are integrated into perceptions

automatically, by the brain of a man or of an animal. But to integrate

perceptions into conceptions by a process of abstraction, is a feat that man

alone has the power to perform—and he has to perform it by choice. [3]The

process of abstraction, and of concept-formation is a process of reason, of

thought; it is not automatic nor instinctive nor involuntary nor infallible.

[4]Man has to initiate it, to sustain it and to bear responsibility for its results.

The pre-conceptual level of consciousness is nonvolitional; [5]volition begins

with the first syllogism. [6]Man has the choice to think or to evade—to

maintain a state of full awareness or to drift from moment to moment, in a

semi-conscious daze, at the mercy of whatever associational whims the

unfocused mechanism of his consciousness produces.

Lets take peal away the onion one layer at a time.

Concerning [1][2]:

First of all, are we speaking of stage or state? A state is not necessarily time dependent, but a "stage" is. Another problem with "stages" is that no idealist has ever presented a good dividing line between one stage and another--emprically. You can easily say that animals have only sensations and perceptions while humans have that and the ability to conceptualize, but what data confirms this proposition? How do we verify that animals have no ability to conceptualize? Assuming that we are all rational and believe in the evolution of species on this planet, where did the human ability to conceptualize emerge within the chain? (or tree, bush, whatever you choose to think of as a model) Whence comes this stage (or state)? How do we know that animals do not perform "abstractions" and are not able to "integrate. . .by choice" or through their own volition? If there is evidence that clearly delineates the human being from an animal in terms of volitional consciousness and conceptualization, I would like to know. Perhaps one of you will actually find something that will truly help my understanding on these matters. Now this is not to say that there are not striking differences between human animals and other animals, whatever the differences I see no reason to be a Kantian and posit categorical differences between a man and a mere animal mind.

Concerning [2]: Another problem I have with the Randian theory of consciousness is that--like Mises--Rand does not allow any purposive qualitative interpretation of animal consciousness. Animal consciousness is "irrational," "muddled" and "foggy," while manly egomaniac man has a "will," "purpose" and is "rational." Animal consciousness is either "like a rock" or has the likeness of a raging minotaur--both have consciousness, but nevertheless no awareness of purpose or reason. This dismal view of the human ego flies in the face of the findings of analytic psychology--esp. under the auspices of Carl Jung. (c.f. "The phenomenology of the psyche," "Mysterium coniunctionis," "Psychology and alchemy")

As Carl Jung and his many followers discovered, the psyche of a man exibited its most grandious sense of purpose and unity from within the "mares" of the unconscious. Through examining legend, myth and both dreams of an individual and of the entire societies, the ego emerged as a much later development and innovation in the human psyche--but the ego, like its mother and father in the unconscious, felt "aware" and knew that it "had a will" precisely due to the miasma of detail hidden by the lower subterrainean realms of the subconscious. Just as Ezekiel's "son of man" riding on the chariot had control over the wheels and the beast of its throne, still many consider the eyes, the numerous theriomorphisms and machinery to be the actual seat of all purposive will as exhibited by the "son of man." It is impossible to know just how much of the ego is circumvented by our own subconscious designs, but I know that everyone in this forum has experienced such a "subversion."

Concerning [3]: That is only true assuming all abstractions and conceptualizations find their seat completely within the "purpose seeking ego." This assertion is false, since we find such abstractions in dream, myth, legend and in the gigantic playground of the unconscious. Your ego doesn't abstract in a dream state, though you are later reminded of your abstractions upon waking (cf. Freud, "Interpretation of Dreams" ). Your ego may act as a "filter" or may "fold" the content of the unconscious into some form which is recognizable to the ego's understanding of his own senses--but that does nothing more than show the power of abstraction as wielded by the unconscious--the unconscious most certainly has the power to form abstractions that will bring a full grown ego-man to his knees (have you ever had a night terror? Horrid nightmare?). Research shows that the unconscious throws a person into an extreme state of stress when the whole organism is in danger--this shows clearly the ability for the unconscious to 'exercise' volition and to formulate viscerally compact "images" within dreams to motivate the ego into a set of actions that are necessary for its own preservation.

Concerning [4]: Riddle: The syllogism is the line of a branch in a tree. Neither the tree nor the branch nor the animal watching the branched tree require volition to realize that a branch in a tree is simply a branch in a tree.

Concerning [5]: I chose to leave that one out of focus--or perhaps I feel (though I am not really sure) . . . I have a sense somewhere out there. . . in la-la-unfocused land. . . yeah. . . I already talked about this above. Check.

Conclusion:

. . .

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Ah! I wish I could have had an opportunity to read your post and reply sooner, dariusnoir.

...I have to search through tomes and ask myself if whether or not Mises was a Kantian, and why some crackpots and cranks might consider him a Kantian or not a Kantian--etc, etc...

Based on what I've read, he regarded himself as a Kantian. But I haven't devoted a lot of my time to Von Mises yet-- I'm very interested in his economic theories, but I've never heard anything good about him philosophically, including from Ayn Rand, and that was my point: Rand disagreed with Von Mises' epistemology, and said so herself-- whether you agree in essence with his epistemology was a side issue. I might recommend an essay called "Philosophical Detection" in Rand's _Philosophy: Who Needs It_ for insight in to how to locate a particular philosopher's basic underlying premises-- or at least how to tell, maybe, whether a "Randian" (Objectivist) would decide whether someone is "Kantian" or not.

I never defended a groundless argument--what I said concerns having epistemology without a foundation--an epistemology is not a system of axioms which find themselves upon the shoulders of some axiomatic Atlas!
I apologize, I didn't define my terms. For me, "groundless" means: "without a foundation." Specifically-- without any reference point "grounded" in objective reality, arguments become "floating abstractions," which fall apart, like a building without a foundation. When you say "an epistemology is not..." do you mean that an epistemology cannot be such a system, or just that it is not necessarily? The latter, I would agree with; the former is incorrect. The axiomatic "Atlas" in Objectivism is sense perception-- specifically, the realization that Existence exists, and that consciousness is there also to perceive it, with the Law of Identity as an inescapable corollary. I call this an "axiomatic Atlas" because that is the epistemology which is presupposed by every consciousness. Even an epistemology that opposes it depends on it for reification and intelligibility.

Why do I have to play this stupid "one-of-these-things-is -not-like-the-other" game and go round and round?

Are you asking why you have to discriminate and excercise your faculty of judgement? You don't, of course, but I won't continue this dialogue much longer if you contintue not to (I don't mean that as a personal insult, but literally.)

You can easily say that animals have only sensations and perceptions while humans have that and the ability to conceptualize, but what data confirms this proposition?  How do we verify that animals have no ability to conceptualize?
You are evidently unaware of an epistemological principle known as "The Onus of Proof," (on which Objectivism and other systems frequently rely.) This is a philosophical "razor" which states as follows: "The burden of proof is always on the positive assertion." In other words, it is never necessary to prove that a given proposition is false, provided there is no evidence for its actuality. For example: One must not "verify" that animals have no ability to conceptualize. Or: One must not "verify" that animals are secretly superintelligent space aliens who control the human race with their mind-altering psychic abilities. Etc.

One may easily say that animals have only sensations and perceptions, and one may easily prove this assertion. Conceptualization in animals has never been proved-- not even in the higher animals. If evidence for this were ever found, we would adjust our context of knowledge accordingly; at some level of development, however, there would still exist an animal which does not have the ability to conceptualize, thus Rand's analogy remains intact regardless.

  Assuming that we are all rational and believe in the evolution of species on this planet, where did the human ability to conceptualize emerge within the chain? (or tree, bush, whatever you choose to think of as a model) Whence comes this stage (or state)?  How do we know that animals do not perform "abstractions" and are not able to "integrate. . .by choice" or through their own volition?  If there is evidence that clearly delineates the human being from an animal in terms of volitional consciousness and conceptualization, I would like to know.  Perhaps one of you will actually find something that will truly help my understanding on these matters.

If you want the exact point, Anthropologically-- well I'm sure I would win a Nobel Prize if I could tell you for sure. Personally, I wasn't there when the first human conceptualized for the first time. But for individual humans, all the evidence suggests that conceptualization begins very early in infancy, even before the infant learns to speak-- but when the infant pronounces its first (meaningful) words, then he can be said to be conceptualizing in the fullest sense of the word.

There is evidence that clearly deleanates the human from the animal inasmuch as there is ample evidence for human conceptualization and no evidence for conceptualization in animals (or in rocks, rivers, planets, or solar systems, etc.-- or in societies or human collectives for that matter.)

But incase you begin to wonder, the Objectivist epistemology is not dependent entirely on deductive reasoning from axioms-- and this gets to the heart of what I think you're after. The essence of the Objectivist approach to epistemology is in the principles of induction. That's more advanced than I could possibly sketch in one post-- Leonard Peikoff has, I believe, done the most groundbreaking work in this subject. Do a search at the ARI website for his brilliant lectures and essays on the nature and principles of induction.

Carl Jung.  (c.f. "The phenomenology of the psyche," "Mysterium coniunctionis," "Psychology and alchemy")
Carl Jung went a step beyond his mentor, Freud, and made no attempt to hide his mystical presumptions. The only important thing about Freudian constructions is that they illustrate the principle that an arbitrary system that can be used to explain everything explains nothing. As to the specific clinical contributions of Freud et. al. into the specific mechanical functionings of human consciousness, that's another story and a whole other topic that's irrelevant to their underlying theories (as Von Mises' epistemology is irrelevant to his contributions to the science of Economics).

It is impossible to know just how much of the ego is circumvented by our own subconscious designs, but I know that everyone in this forum has experienced such a "subversion."

The subconscious is not as ghostly as you make it out to be. It is the entire content of an individual's mind that is not presently held in conscious awareness. That means that when you're not concentrating on a particular concept, memory, or emotion-- it still exists in your mind, ie, it hasn't vanished from existence-- it's in your "subconscious" mind, where you can later retrieve information from it and choose to concentrate on some particular, specific thought. The mechanics of the exact nature of how this works in the brain, and the pathological study of various malfunctions in this extremely complicated, still barely understood, process, is fascinating. But it's not within the scope of philosophy-- these are psychological and physiological issues. All philosophy can tell you is how to pursue knowledge in these fields (and in any field), not the specific knowledge you will acquire.

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One must not "verify" that animals are secretly superintelligent space aliens who control the human race with their mind-altering psychic abilities.

I meant: "One must not 'verify' that animals are not secretly superintelligent space aliens..."

Conceptualization in animals has never been proved-- not even in the higher animals.

I mean the higher animals, besides humans, of course. Sorry about making a new post-- the "Edit" button is missing. I posted this today- why is it I can sometimes edit my posts after I've posted them and other times not? Moderators? (Like this post! I could edit it, but not the other one? B) )

Edited by Bold Standard

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I apologize, I didn't define my terms.  For me, "groundless" means: "without a foundation."  Specifically-- without any reference point "grounded" in objective reality, arguments become "floating abstractions," which fall apart, like a building without a foundation.  When you say "an epistemology is not..." do you mean that an epistemology cannot be such a system, or just that it is not necessarily?  The latter, I would agree with; the former is incorrect.  The axiomatic "Atlas" in Objectivism is sense perception-- specifically, the realization that  Existence exists, and that consciousness is there also to perceive it, with the Law of Identity as an inescapable corollary.  I call this an "axiomatic Atlas" because that is the epistemology which is presupposed by every consciousness.  Even an epistemology that opposes it depends on it for reification and intelligibility.

Metaphysics. Those three axioms are METAPHYSICS. All epistemology is based on a metaphysics of some kind, whether implicitly or explicitly. There is no such thing as epistemology without foundation, because epistemology is not a primary. In order to have a science of knowledge (epistemology) you have to KNOW (or at least be ABLE to know) something, and since knowledge is knowledge OF something, you must have a something to have knowledge OF; the nature of that something is defined by metaphysics.

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That's right. A Metaphysics ("nature of the universe") is prior to any Epistemology ("nature of knowledge").

Similarly, an Epistemology is prior to any verifiable knowledge of metaphysics. In any philosophical statement, an Epistemology and a Metaphysics are implied. These are the two corollary foundations of any philosophical system.

An attempt to establish Epistemology without Metaphysics is Empiricism. An attempt to establish (knowledge about) Metaphysics without Epistemology is Subjectivism.

So an axiom such as "Existence exists," is Metaphysics, because it describes the nature of the universe. But it's Epistemological in that it is an irreducible intellectual primary, which validates and makes possible the potentiality of knowledge, and is an example of something that can be known.

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