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  2. You say you are at university and that you have postponed you plans for philosophy and art. As things stand today, what career are you headed toward? Doctor, lawyer, scientist, programmer, manager?
  3. Today
  4. I had meant to mention in the preceding post that Peikoff 1964 notes that not all classical philosophers subscribed to a metaphysical distinction between the necessary and the contingent. He helpfully mentions John Scotus Erigena, Spinoza, and Hegel. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Links to the sections of this essay so far: Plato Aristotle I II Kant I II III Conventionalism I II III
  5. Peikoff addresses this quite well in one of his courses. History of philosophy or Modern Philosophy... In addressing “the arbitrary” he is clear in stating You cannot prove a negative and The onus is on he who asserts the positive. This I think is quite true. The only evidence of reality is ultimately perceptual ... even when indirect measurement and scientific instrumentation is used, a blip on a screen can serve as evidence of a subatomic particle. This is why one relies on perceptual evidence to assert the existence of something. You speak of rationalism... rationalism would present as an attempt to prove something about reality absent any empirical evidence. It is pointless to debate anything in the absence of evidence. In order to have a position one must have SOME evidence. The person asserting an arbitrary existent has nothing to point to in support of his position that the thing exists. The little man in the fridge who turns on the light leaves no footprints. Quite rightly that position should be dismissed as arbitrary. Going any farther, like trying to prove the non existence of the thing is a huge mistake for a similar reason. But the non existence of a thing, not only DOES NOT leave any evidence, the non existence of a thing CANNOT leave behind any evidence. Evidence is ultimately an effect observable in reality, effects presuppose causes and causes require existents. An absence, a non existent can never itself be a cause.. it is nothing, does nothing, and causes nothing. Peikoff gives a great example of how it would be futile to try to prove the non existence of say the Devil. I can’t paraphrase but I’ll try to convey the sense of it. Although you could point out to the Devil worshipper that there are no traces of this Devil, no footprints, or any other trail of evidence... no observable effects, the same would apply to your attempt to prove the non existence of the Devil. The non existence of the Devil has no observable effect, no little signs poking up from the ground stating the Devil does not exist... again effects presuppose causes which require existents. The best evidence for your position against the arbitrary claim is the absence of any evidence for it, i.e. the fact that it is an arbitrary claim. That does not and cannot prove non existence of the thing, but you can identify the position as arbitrary and invalid and hold the person to the onus to provide some evidence for his position. You cannot prove a negative. The onus is on he who asserts the positive.
  6. If you don't know what you should become, why is it rational to give up on art and philosophy? Maybe you should become an artist or philosopher. So the problem isn't that you don't know what you should be doing. It's that you don't want to struggle as an artist/philosopher. Instead of playing games, why not devote that time to designing a game that you might sell? I want to be a writer. Every day I wake up and write something on a topic of interest. Maybe it's time for you to develop such a habit with your art or reading. I bet you have a stack of philosophical books that need to be studied. Or some picture you want to draw. Try putting the game down once in awhile and working on a creative project of your own.
  7. But God is your starting point. You defined him as having a power "above nature." Then you claim that such power violates a law of nature. Yet it's not part of nature. It's above nature, by definition. It's an ability of God. So you're contradicting your own starting point. Yes, that was the implication of my scare quotes around "prove." Except that you have not defined those animals as having supernatural chess-playing powers. You're presenting a hypothetical of water turning into wine. In such a supernatural scenario, the cause would be a supernatural force, i.e., God. It doesn't make sense to set up the supernatural event and then claim it can't happen because it's not natural. You're not dealing with a natural event to begin with. Real water doesn't turn into ice on its own, just like the hypothetical water couldn't turn into wine on its own. Something else must force them to change. Real water turns to ice because of a natural reaction to temperature, which is caused by various environmental factors. The hypothetical water turns to wine because of a supernatural reaction to God's power of miracles. You can't grant God a nature-violating power and then complain that he's violating the nature of water. It's inconsistent.
  8. My point is that unless one is committed to “rationalism” as a valid epistemology then there can’t be just random premises unrelated to reality.
  9. Appeals to incoherence are incoherent once an omnipotent God is stipulated as a premise.
  10. This kind of makes me think about the time when Peter Keating was talking with Howard Roark and Roark said to him ... “If you want my advice, Peter, you’ve made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don’t you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?” Ayn Rand said that happiness comes from the "...achievement of ones values...". You said that studying abroad was a goal and that it did not make you happy, buy "studying" is a process and not an acheivment. The process is not where hapiness comes. It comes at the end of the process. It comes at the acheivment of your goals. i have seen many people begin a lot fo things and then top inthe process for various reasons and it has lead in frustration. It takes effort to focus on what you really want to accomplish and then upon figuring that out stay with it until the end. It is at the end that you will find happiness. Hapiness is derived from the acheivment of your own goal by your own effort. No one can tell you what to value. You have to do the mental work to figure out what you would make you happy to acheive.
  11. Great article, and I totally agree with its content but I struggle with the very first step, that is, finding my CPL. It seems like Roark and Rand knew from the beginning what their CPL are and they didn't need to find it. I hope you could answer a few of my questions and tell me what your take is on my several thoughts regarding this article. 1. How does one find its CPL? How did Roark find his? Was it because he was born with some natural talents related to architecture like drawing talent, spatial thinking and that? Then it would mean that not we but our qualifications that we are born with determine ourselves, our CPL. Obviously Howard must have come across architecture when he was young, liked it and then decided to pursue it. However, objectively speaking interests are not equal. Shouldn't one find then interest that is the most optimal one (the best interest out of all interests he can successfully pursue)? But then this optimalisation does not lead to genuine interest. However, genuine interest seems to be irrational because it simply means choosing something worse because you associate more positive emotions with it. I don't know there's some vicious cycle here that I cannot escape. "First, it must be objective, that is, drawn logically from the facts of who you are, the nature of the productive activity, and the nature of the world in which you live" I find taking "nature of the world in which we live" into account quite contradictory to objectivism. I thought we should pursue our goals despite certain circumstances not adjust our goals to them. This adjusting leads me to conclusion that what can be our goals is predefined in certain sense and we can only decide whether to pursue fulfilling them. 2. I think my greatest misconception is that I try to find something bigger, deeper that might not even exist instead of accepting shallowness of life. However, thought of doing something that I reasonably like for a living, have a family one day and have enough time and money for leisure and that's it, suffocates me. I don't know where that urge to be unique comes from and how to satisfy it or get rid of it. 3. Maybe I can't find my CPL because I feel I have very strong preference to learning, self-developing over creating. Obviously creating is very developing so I'll use an example to illustrate what I meant. I'd prefer to learn from numerous researches in certain field of study instead of doing my own research. I have always thought that while you are teaching (creating, researching etc.) you cannot get taught, therefore, I have been choosing the latter. 4. I have started doubting whether acting rationally is the right way. Vast majority of people do not act rationally, therefore, people who do, have the edge over them. This edge results in better performance in work or other activities, but what are rationale for work, other activities and living? Whenever I try to be rational about this I cannot overcome the argument that we are all going to die but what is more importantly, we are so irrelevant and tiny in the context of whole universe. So since I am here, yet alive, I'd like to pursue my own happiness, but that absurdity of our life stops me from getting any real happiness. Short-term joy from shallow activities is something that I despise. And at this moment anything but philosophy, aboslute spirit, art is shallow for me.
  12. My only issue with what you are saying is that it is no coherent to begin with a supernatural being as if has equal status in reality. This would seem to be rationalizing without justification. I can only begin with reality (existence, identity, and consciousness) and then see what ideas correspond with them. I see no meaning in suspending reality to allow God to be a starting point. Also, I am not sure I can even coherently say that God is "absent" in the sense that one is absent from a room. This assumes that a person "could be" in a room and just is not at the moment. To be absent is not the same as not existing. What I am proving is similar to proving that there is no giraffe in the room playing chess with an alligator. This idea does not in anyway correspond with reality and is incoherent. Giraffes cannot play chess because they are animals and do not have the ability to form abstractions. Therefore, a chess playing giraffe cannot exist and to try to make an argument for one would be incoherent. I am attempting to prove a negative by showing that what I am denying is a logical impossibility. That is not to say that it is improbable. I am saying that this concept is incoherent and therefore not true. Lastly, I think that your understanding of causation is not accurate. The cause of an action is the identity of the action, not another entity acting upon the entity. It is the law of identity applied to action (Binswanger). It is incoherent to say that a supernatural being "caused" water to turn into wine. One, the cause of water turning into anything is the identity of the water not something outside of the water. Water turns into ice because of its own identity not because it gets freezing temperatures outside. If freezing temperatures where to cause of things turning into "ice" then rocks would turn into ice simply be them being in contact with freezing temperature. Two, my point is that nothing can cause the identity of a thing to change it identity, especially since identity is what makes it the very thing it is to begin with. This is why I am saying that the concept of a being that can do miracles is incoherent.
  13. Yesterday
  14. Due to rationality, I gave up on studying art and philosophy because even though I really enjoy it, it does not mean I am to become artist or philosopher. I could imagine myself struggling to make a good living. So since it was so risky I thought It would be rational to pursue profitable career and by achieving significant financial independence relatively early I can then focus fully on art and philosophy or finding other purpose. Before that I treat art and philosophy as hobbies. My career goals are more like milestones which will allow me achieve that financial independence. So I basically postponed current happiness to provide myself future one. That future career seems like something I will like because it is competitive and requires outperforming others both of which match my personality. Apart from that I like a mind game that I am playing quite a lot. However, my rational thoughts are that either of these things cannot be my purpose and me liking them is just a sign of immaturity and still low level of self-development because they are just shallow and meaningless, they don't make me any closer to finding fundamentals of reality, pure consciousness or fullness of meaning. On the other hand, perspective of me reading all books and learning to achieve full potential of my intelligence seems like dead-end job and does not make my outlook look very happy.
  15. Reality cannot be proof of non-reality. If anything, it is the absence of God that "proves" its non-existence. What you're doing is mistaking a supernatural law (miracle) for a natural one (identity). If you begin with a supernatural being (God), then there is no logical error in claiming a supernatural cause (miracle) for its action (turning water into wine). The error is in the acceptance of the arbitrary, not in the reasoning process. It is a problem with choice. Faith is the rejection of reality in favor of fantasy.
  16. Just to clarify, when I say physical x is metaphysical, I mean it in the sense I would say a crow is an animal.
  17. I concur with the distinction Merlin draws between physical and formal necessity in the preceding post. That’s a good example from mathematics, and I should note additionally that (i) it is a fact—ascertained in the way one does for mathematics—that there are some continuous functions that are nowhere differentiable, and it remains a fact even if it is the case that there simply is nothing physical to which some such function applies and that (ii) we find great success in technology and in extending comprehension of the physical by applying many functions, each one both continuous and differentiable, to electricity, to fluids, and to solids, yet understanding perfectly well that such things are discontinuous at small enough scales. SL, I should not want to equate the physical with the metaphysical. When Rand claims that only living things can have values or when philosophers from time immemorial say nothing comes from nothing, those claims are consonant with modern physical science, but the claims are made in what I’d call a metaphysical perspective, not a scientific one. In his 1967 essay “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy” Peikoff has a section on the traditional distinction within metaphysics between necessary and contingent facts (and how this feeds into the A-S distinction). The meaning of metaphysical necessary/contingent has changed over the centuries, but there is family-descendant resemblance under the continuing distinction. Peikoff did not think such a distinction is correct to make within metaphysics. However, he there drew a distinction between the metaphysical and the manmade (in tune with Rand’s later elaboration). Human free will is the root fact for this distinction. Unfortunately, Peikoff and Rand thought that the rule of Identity in metaphysics entailed complete determinism throughout metaphysics as contrasted with the realm of free will. Furthermore, Rand thought that such metaphysics rightly constrains (a bit) what physical science might find, but that the reverse flow does not soundly occur. That is, she thought metaphysical fundamentals could not be changed in light of advances in science. So for example, the development of chaos theory in the classical regime of physics (starting in the 1970’s as I recall) and the distinction within physics between a classical system in its regular regime as opposed to being in its chaotic regime could not suggest any reformation of general metaphysics. Really, the total determinism that Rand-Peikoff attached to metaphysics under identity was an inheritance from modern physics (Laplace et al.) and is not properly part of right metaphysics, rather should be left open for physics to settle. In his book OPAR, Peikoff does acknowledge that when it comes to value theory, biology supplies the characterized phenomena, pertinent for philosophical fundamentals concerning value. In his dissertation, Merlin, Peikoff included Blanshard’s books The Nature of Thoughtand Reason and Analysis. He does not cite the former in his text or notes. He cites and makes specific explicit use of the latter from its pages 252–54 and 271–75. The former stretch lays out the traditional view that necessity (the one, as it happens, to be most often sainted by philosophers traditionally) arises only at the level of universals and essences; discerned at the level of conception, not perception. The latter stretch concerns conventionalist theories of logic. Merlin, I’ve inclined to the view of logic put forth by Rand (1957) and Branden (c. 1968) and Peikoff (1967, 1991) in their orientation towards logic as tool for successful thinking. (I reject Rand’s definition of logic in its differentia. I expect she was misled by a remark in Aristotle’s Metaphysics, which seems oblivious to his great achievement, theory of the syllogism, in Prior Analytics.) It has seemed plain that on the Objectivist orientation towards logic, material implication should not be incorporated. A lot of other thinkers have thought material implication off the mark for deficiency in the relevance factor, as had Blanshard. They developed Relevance Logic (also called Relevant Logic) as replacement for classical modern logic, and I think that the way to go and a way consonant with Objectivism also. I have books telling the history, concerns, and purposes that brought on material implication, but I’ll have to open them. I’ll let you know on your blog what I find.
  18. What are your career goals? Why are they your goals? If you want to know who you are, ask yourself. Look at what you're doing. Maybe you actually want to know whom you should become. It sounds like you want to pursue art and philosophy, so is that what you're doing in school?
  19. I hope something clicks for Peterson. He's asking the right questions, but he's stuck on suffering and mythology. His focus is still on feelings and fantasy over reason and reality. But you can almost see him trying to switch.
  20. Proving that God does not exist. Can someone evaluate my reasoning here. Axiom: Law of Identity Observation: Self Evident Claim: There is a being that can do the miraculous. Definition of Mircale: an event that is not explicable according to natural laws, but super (above) nature. Violation: Law of Identity If someone claims that there is a being that can alter eixstence in a way that violates the law of identity then can’t it be said that it would be impossible for that being to exist? Why is this not a plain and simple proof that there is no God that meets this criterion and is therefore incoherent as an asserition that God (this kind of god) exist. A true miracle would be to turn water into wine. It would not be miraculous of water on its own to turn to wine if it could do this by the means of natural process. The notion of a miracle is “super” natural inexplicable according to natural laws. This assumes that the identity of win is different the natural identity of water. To make this happen there would have to be a violation of the Law of Identity. That is to say, that water would not really have identity in the first place. To have identity is to be something specific. Water cannot be water and also wine at the same time according to its identity. Hence, for someone to say that there is a being that could do such an act is to prove that such a being is incoherent and cannot said to exist in reality. Reality itself is the proof that God does not exist. Hence either God exists (which is incoherent) or reality exists. You cannot have your cake and eat it to.
  21. You might find this blog post useful for figuring out a purpose for your life: http://aristotleadventure.blogspot.com/2008/05/what-is-central-purpose-in-life.html
  22. The distinction I have in mind is different, but not incompatible with that. Physical necessity is about physical things. Logical necessity is broader, and includes the sort of necessity one can grasp in, say, higher mathematics. For example, this consequence is logically implied by this theorem. For example, this function is differentiable, therefore continuous. The reverse may be true, too, but not always.
  23. The weed-vine example strikes home to anyone who has tried it. In the example, a flowering vine, in the garden, pole beans, cucumber, to a lesser extent squash and pumpkin. Pulling the weed-vine meant being able to distinguish without being able to see, or where finding a viewing angle was just downright awkward. I took the physical-logical necessity as a neat example of ontologically based logic.
  24. My integrative and conceptual powers applied to a lifetime of experience still leave me scratching my head. Is this distinction an academic and historical characterization of what philosophers thought or think or is a first hand distinction of a proper philosophy? Is the distinction as follows: physical necessity IS metaphysical i.e. identity, and logical necessity IS epistemological i.e. non-contradiction?
  25. Four Things Next week, the Van Horns will be on a family vacation. I should be able to pop in from time to time to monitor comments and possibly post once or twice, but I won't guarantee it. In light of the circumstances, it seems fitting to leave you with a post about the kids. 1. When I told my daughter I liked her under-sea sketch so much I wrote about it, she asked why I didn't also post her flower sketch. I explained that I liked both, but preferred the one. In any event, here's the other, at right. 2. For me, the "killer app" of the Amazon Echo was, for the longest time, its weather report. Now it's the music player. Ever since we got bunk beds for the kids, I have had to replace my old morning wake-up tactic of last resort: I can't easily pick up either one from their beds now, so I play music. Fishbone, the B-52s, and (surprisingly) Gregorian chant are particularly effective. As an amusing bonus, I usually get an audible indication of success in the form of one of them shouting, "Alexa, stop!" 3. Question: What does a five-year-old boy do at home after he wins about a dozen rubber ducks from a claw game at the arcade? Answer: He takes off his shoes and socks, and jams about eight into one of the socks. Duh. 4. As the kids get older, the intensity of their different responses to me coming to pick them up from after-school care is beginning to wane, so I will note them now. My son, who will be six the next time I write about him, smiles and runs over for a hug. My daughter, soon to be eight, gets upset, especially if she is caught up in something that interests her. (She is like me in that she intensely hates to be disturbed while concentrating.) The memories of each that stand out the most are: (1) I was once slightly off-balance when I crouched to hug my son, and got knocked over. I had a mild ankle injury after that one. (2) My daughter once angrily asked why she never gets to be the last one to be picked up. This was on a day I was running late and had only about ten minutes to spare. -- CAV Link to Original
  26. Jordan Peterson interviewed Objectivist philosopher Stephen Hicks almost two years ago. In March he did so again. Links: video of first interview audio of second interview They are long, about 1.5 hours each.
  27. Thank you for that, Stephen, especially for the distinction between logical necessity and physical necessity. Also, I liked your comments about John Locke. I have began a series on my blog about inference and necessity. Here is the first: Blanshard on Implication and Necessity #1. More to come.
  28. Hi, I came across Ayn Rand in high school. It helped me organise my life back then and gave a lot of motivation to achieve my goal which was studying abroad. Now I’m at university but it didn’t really make me happy. Probably because my expectations were too big. I mean it’s alright but I started doubting in my future career related goals and got trapped in some sort of nihilistic mood. I can’t find anything that makes my truly happy or values that are worth living. Don’t get me wrong, there are many things that give me joy, probably too many but this is short term unsustained happiness which I consider very immature and irrational, nothing to do with true happiness. The only happiness that I could think of now is spending all time on art and Philosophy and sharing thoughts with like-minded people that I have big problems to find. How can man find his values? I admire people who know who they are. I feel like I can be anyone but I don’t know who I want to be therefore I’m no one. Whenever I think I overcame that nihilism of mine with some solution then there’s always another “why” that I can’t find answer. Does being an objectivist mean that you have everything figured out in your head?
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