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Everything posted by KALADIN

  1. Sure, it's from his dissertation. Link below. Champagne, Marc. (2007). Atomism, Wholism, and the Search for a Tenable Third Way. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/32049136_Atomism_Wholism_and_the_Search_for_a_Tenable_Third_Way/link/5b2e63dfaca2720785dc6302/download
  2. From a recent discussion: "Nietzsche also rejects the need for a world beyond the world of appearances (the thing-in-itself)..." Rand does not merely reject the "need" for noumena. She regards the very concept as invalid: "But 'things-in-themselves' as separated from consciousness and yet discussed in terms of a consciousness—is an invalid equivocation" (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Appendix Discussions). It is an equivocation on "consciousness" because in order to metaphysically sunder an object from its appearance, and posit corresponding gradations of Being (letting the "thing-in-itself" alone participate the Real), the form of conscious awareness must be taken to constitute its object - there is precisely nothing else to be aware of - and more this formatic apprehension must be taken as the "disqualifying element" (Rand's terminology) in coming to know the Real. In other words, in order to make sense of "separated from consciousness" or a principle of absolute unknowability, we have to make recourse to this appearance-object distinction which is itself a form of coming to know the object that is the apparently Real relationship between consciousness and existence ("everything is done from the human perspective" - Rand). Awareness is always awareness of something somehow, and there is an equivocation in treating awareness or identification of the Real with the Absolute - out of all relation to awareness - as something not also thereby distanced from the Real. For it treats of awareness as both capable and not of grasping something independent of what it constitutes - beyond the bounds of representation - just like how Rand sees "consciousness" (in the aforementioned quote) being used to capture a principle of separation and not. In truth, it is simply a category error to speak of "things-in-themselves" or "things-as-they-really-are" - let alone have them alone participate the Real - because the form and object of perception are incommensurable; to offer the objects of perception as "things-as-they-really-are-not" is to completely fail to grasp that there is no magically privileged perspective on anything whatsoever, and no standard of veridicality which does not grip the world with a specific identity. Attempts to evade, subvert, or negate these facts are attempts to judge or re-write the metaphysically given. ... Unfortunately, Kant does not posit the relation of his transcendental schema to the world as an accidental one, or some potentially interesting hypothesis. The principle of transcendental idealism is not merely offered as a reflection on phenomenal awareness simpliciter. Kant must be committed to the knowability of the self-in-itself as beyond mere representation if he is indeed to affect the reality of a world of representational content (which is "nothing but representations, and they cannot exist at all outside our minds.” Critique of Pure Reason, B235) whose subject is the seIf-in-itself, i.e., the noumenal mind, which he attempts to establish only indirectly by deduction or inference more generally. But inference is radically dependent upon causality, and for Kant causality is imposed. One does not and can not properly infer the simple existence and operation of those activities which are already a necessary precondition of any right to the concept, performance, and meaning of inference - this is simply another consequence of the illicit character of Kant's epistemological vehicle(s). Indeed Kant is not even allowed some unknown explanans as the cause of the unity of experience precisely because causality is not something to mediate the phenomenal and noumenal worlds. To be imposed is to be of one. To infer the so-called activities of the self-in-itself is to make use of them here, so there is no way to make sense of the notion that their cause could be something beyond representational content, beyond the mere elucidation of an explanatory schema. Knowledge is a causal relation, and the utter incoherence of Kant's transcendental psychology is a consequence of him holding the mind to be constitutive of its contents except where those contents concern the cause of constitution, so as to be offered as something beyond the mere recognition of representational content. The distinction between noumena and phenomena is not synonymous with nor as innocuous as proclaiming the metaphysical independence and priority of the object of awareness, something all realists do. For the realist, form and object are naturally commingled, and the form of awareness is the identity of that specific relationship between consciousness and its objects, the somehow of being aware of something. Think for a moment about the contrapositive of this principle and just how perverse it is to understand the means of awareness as a metaphysical bar to awareness of the Real - that in order to be aware of the Real, of things as they "really" are, you would have be aware of it nohow (I am well aware that Kant doesn't regard our knowledge of the phenomenal world as something delusory). This fashioning the domain of the Real as metaphysically outside the purview of experience and reason is fundamentally Platonic in spirit, and its ruthless philosophical opposition is the basic spirit of Aristotelian epistemology - an unrelenting acquiescence before the evidence of the senses, and a principled recognition that "consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists" (Atlas Shrugged, John Galt's Speech). To quote Marc Champagne: "Aristotle was able to make change intelligible because he shunned facile recourse to 'appearances' and made it a sort of methodological compact to always strive for concordance with the data that set his inquiries into motion. By our lights, this is the aetiologic posture all philosophers should adopt: to eschew ladder-discarding." [emphasis mine] And from Leonard Piekoff, who Champagne quotes immediately after giving the above quote: "According to Aristotle, the question to start with is not: What must reality be like in order to make it possible for us to acquire knowledge of it? But simply: What, as a matter of fact, is reality?" For Rand there are no boundaries of pure intuition. There is no such thing as anything "in-itself", no das Ding an sich Selbst betrachtet. Objectivism does not hold that we perceive things as they really are because there is no such thing as something as it "really is" or "in itself". Things as perceived by your mind - to paraphrase Galt - are not things as they really are but simply things as they are. There is no such thing as the noumenal world, or the completely unknowable Real. Knowledge is prior to ignorance and skepticism for the same reason existence is prior to consciousness; the latter in each case is itself a relational phenomenon, having meaning only in virtue of being commingled with or otherwise actualized through the former. As such, queries like "is knowledge possible?" or "can we be aware of reality as it really is?" are completely invalid. There is no vehicle for these questions that, to be a vehicle - to have weight, does not necessarily depend upon some form of knowledge and some prior apprehension of the real. There is always and everywhere substance before the void, and all voids are simply an absence of substance. Epistemology is never properly about the possibility of entangling the real, of asking when and how our "ladders" can be "discarded", but only of that entangling's norms and reproduction. Recognizing that we have consciousness or knowledge of the real is the starting point of true and efficacious cognition in general. Consciousness is a faculty of knowing reality; consciousness is conscious.
  3. In general, we know patterns of inference as codifications of regularly successful mental policies. In particular, we know logically valid inference patterns as means to certain conclusions, the denial of which results in contradiction. But seeing as conceptual knowledge and method are indivisible, valid forms of inference are less what we may know than that by which we know (conceptually). The knowing of logic and of basic inference patterns are in large part the faculty of knowledge turning back in on itself, and stating the implicit causal relations by which one knows as explicit propositional forms or rules for one to know. Modus ponens is an explicit statement of the indivisibility of cause and effect, a principle implicit in every mental consequence as caused by the apprehension of some object of consciousness. "p therefore q" underscores the premise behind all valuation and recognition, for it is in recognizing the necessary connection between q and its cause that motivation may find real purchase.
  4. If one can only use signs without granting their reality as one can breathe without accepting the reality of air, then the adoption of a metaphysic - usually unstated - is inseparable from any signage, any utterance. But there is a tacit assumption implicit in this analysis: signs are fundamentally means and "metaphysics" concerns the objects of which signs are a potential means to. Is it possible to have a metaphysic which does not answer to the above characterization? I have thought and come up with only two ways to deny the intrinsic, other-oriented aspect of a sign: 1. You outright deny any distance between mind and reality; sign is being. 2. You deny the possibility of a sign ever having worldly friction. A means which is by nature estranged from its intended object is no means at all. Both of these seem to me easily susceptible to self-contradiction. In "1", the identity espoused obliterates any meaningful distinction between "is" and "is not", for both predicates sign and are composed of signs. One could argue against this by stipulating that the form of self-contradiction is itself a sign, leaving the original thesis unscathed. This is where recourse to a reality that is a one and only - to the Objectivist axiom of existence and Parmenides' principles that "what is is" - is necessary. Insistence on the actual reality of what is not can only be met with the injunction "A is A". In "2", the self (and performative) contradiction is more obvious; its truth demands that it be false. One could argue against this by distancing truth from correspondence but even on a wholly "wholistic" or "coherentist" scheme there is inevitable recourse to a correspondence between the whole's parts in their even generating a shared context whereby difference is potentially coherence as opposed to simply *other*. The very idea of saying something right about the world seems to unconditionally presuppose the metaphysical independence of mind and world as well as the necessary contact of the former with the latter in *coming to be* lest we become - among other things - totally incapable of distinguishing between categories of mere assertion and truth, of meaningfully parsing our signs whatsoever. Every anti-realist doctrine is by nature parasitic. Only where realism gives its ideological opponents purchase does its axiomatic status seem to shake. The mind and the world are related (and not as identical phenomena or synonyms) by metaphysical necessity, and they are independent of one another also - by metaphysical necessity. We are not moving from the unintelligibility of contradiction as the form of any claim to something existent to then the doctrine of realism, but from the self-evident unreality of metaphysical contradiction - of the mind being in the world and the world not in the mind - to the admission (not the proof) of realism. To know the world and to know the world is not my knowing - or constituted solely by it - is an axiom, and a first principle not only of scientific demonstration, but of cognition generally.
  5. I look forward to your continued notes especially on Part Two.
  6. Two quotes to begin. The first: “In general, it is absurd to make the fact that the things of this earth are observed to change and never to remain in the same state, the basis of our judgment about the truth. For in pursuing the truth one must start from the things that are always in the same state and suffer no change.” - Aristotle, Book 11, from his Metaphysics. Now the second: “Serenity comes from the ability to say ‘Yes’ to existence.” - Ayn Rand, 1973, from her essay “The Metaphysical versus the Man-Made”. Any science of first principles rightly supposes that the justificatory structure of our schemas and assertions are terminal. It would seem then that there ought to be a terminus of judgment also, for how is one to judge a thing which can not be justified, even in principle? Justification surely is a form of explanation, namely one which identifies a cause whose identification itself deals in adherence to a kind of normativity appropriate to the production of human knowledge. Aristotle points out that all explanation is in terms of something more fundamental, and nothing is truly capable of explaining itself, for nothing is more fundamental than itself - it simply is itself. It has seemed strange then to philosophers throughout history that those concepts and principles occupying the base of human knowledge, being capable neither of having explanation or justification, should still be the ultimate source of both, hence the perennial quest for and atheological concerns towards an explanation of something like Being as such. This sort of meta-attitude is not confined to metaphysics or what calls itself metaphysics. Indeed in Hume’s infamous passage about the inescapable bifurcation or rather the inexplicable marriage of descriptive and normative statements, we see the presence of an anxious, “something from nothing” worry more familiar to us in the context of discussions about God. We may find this sort of sentiment just as easily in epistemologies also of the last century, where neo-Kantians like Wilfred Sellars marshal the notion of inference as constitutive of the perceiving act so as to escape the undesirable conclusion that the perceptually given could at once be justificatory and non-propositional, i.e., not itself justified or justifiable. The ability of certain things to be a power unto themselves has always been met throughout history with skepticism and derision, especially by philosophers. While this fact may owe some to the prevalence and intuitive attractiveness of a naive necessitarian conception of causality (which itself necessarily invokes a prime mover), where the supposed constant conjunction of motion is appropriated as identifying the form of epistemic relations or ethical systems, I believe the source is more complicated in matter if not in form, and partly social. Namely, that in human interaction we constantly seek the identification of a final cause to explain the behavior of the human agents we interact with. And insofar as these motivations are explicit - as is the case with more noticeable, determined action - the cause can be expressed in propositional form, and we are thus loathe to think that any cause ought not to be able to expressed to one another someway, somehow. Even in relations lacking humans altogether, say perhaps the evolutionary development of an alternative organism, we identify the final cause of species survival and propagation as an explanatory summation of the efficient - and principally chemical - causes responsible for an organism’s biological integrity. We understand our mature language to be capable of reaching all corners of nature, both now, before, and forevermore. We understand and believe then that if there are no reasons to accept something, then there can certainly be no reasons not to reject it. And it is precisely here, in elevating a particularly - and this is key - conceptual mode of grasping existence to legislate what is and is not permissible to treat as existent that all philosophical hell breaks loose. The explicit error is thus: the holding of the man-made, for no conceptual artifact is necessary, to constrain the metaphysically given. That is, the total inversion of epistemological primacy, of treating not perception but conception as cognitively basic. There is really only one tradition in the history of philosophy which explicitly recognizes a kind of metaphysical acquiescence as the source of epistemological accuracy, and that is the Aristotelian one, of which Objectivism is a part. Just as Aristotle refuted logical determinism by affirming the direction of truth to move from the metaphysically given to the man-made, so we may chastise those anti-foundationalist tendencies which make much ado about the fact that those so-called primaries of cognition cannot be explained or justified, yet serve as the source of both; the primaries, insofar as they constitute an identification of the relation of man's necessary formatic apprehension (for to be aware is not merely to be aware of something, but to be aware of something somehow) of existence to existence are not to be judged. The man-made can not arbitrate how the metaphysically given ought to be, or how its epistemic status ought to present itself, indeed the very concept of “ought” is inapplicable. It as arbitrary to assert that because primaries are inexplicable they are somehow invalid or untrustworthy as it is to rule out the concept of “inertia” with Aristotelian physics. In both cases, perception, our primitive and primary contact with and awareness of reality - because it is metaphysically given and the identities of the human, sensory apparatus as well as the existents which act upon them are outside the power of human volition, of human making - vindicates what may be thought of as possible and trustworthy, and no more and no less. You may recall that I mentioned that there can be no reasons given not to reject the metaphysically given, and this is true unless those reasons are tied to some normative conception of what it is thought should be about and what it should serve. Indeed one is always free to ask: “why shouldn't I contradict myself?”. Objectivism has no answer to give this question save: man shall not live on thought alone, and if he is to acquire his bread also, he will need non-contradictory thought and a non-contradictory method to achieve it. Objectivism does not judge the metaphysically-given precisely because its recognition, its identification, is the means of making proper judgments about it, its very precondition. To say “yes” to the metaphysically-given is not to judge it as true or good, but to acknowledge the metaphysically-given fact that correspondence between and conformity of the metaphysically-given to the man-made is good or otherwise conducive to the survival of the man-made, and moreover still that the content of this relation is itself metaphysically-given. Objectivism does not promote an attitude of metaphysical acquiescence as true because it is good, but as good because it is true. Power over nature does not come from asserting man's omnipotence, but from asserting where and indeed how power is possible to him. To paraphrase Bacon: Nature, to be commanded, must not be judged.
  7. I will take your ominous capitalization to mean the invocation of something divine, supernatural. Objectivism rejects the supernatural in every conceivable manifestation. But Rand does speak of man's "soul" and this she identifies with his consciousness. Humans make conscious choices by selecting from alternatives they are conscious of. Mere motivation is not a cause and awareness alone is not sufficient to guarantee selection. Were this previous statement false we could have no concept of falsity for the possession of mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive items is indeed a plurality, and the possession of one must necessarily precede the other; we become aware of one alternative first. This is yet another consequence of volition's status as an epistemological primary. No. The idea of volition cannot be disproved because volition is one of the root concepts that makes the idea of proof possible (and necessary). Proof is a species of validation, and all validating acts are volitional ones. The universe does not work "mechanically". Mechanical things work mechanically. Existents simply acts as they do and we may formulate principles of mechanics describing observed regularities but the regularities are themselves a consequence of the identities of the existents involved and not some supranatural artifact or principle constraining action. Identity constrains actions, and in turn the content of human principles; epistemic artifacts do not cause or constrain existential action. There is as much basis for treating the principles describing the regularities of differing existents as interchangeable or all-consuming as there is for treating the identities of the existents themselves as interchangeable, i.e., no basis at all. Volition is not in neurons, but a power possible to and activity of the human neuronal system as a whole. The neuronal action which underscores reflexivity and conscious recursion is and should be recognized as just as complicated and subtle as that which underscores self-animated thought yet the existence of the former only is treated as uncontroversial. This is a consequence of people having understood volition throughout history to be a particularly alien phenomenon. It is a biological one same as the rest. This is actually is an epistemological question which merely assumes ethics as its content. The answer is in the provision of an epistemological method and its adherence. That method is inherently normative. Please see Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology 2nd ed. for an idea of what the normativity of its basic units - its concepts - consists in.
  8. The fact that a living entity is implies only what it ought to do if it is to remain in existence and in the human case, if it chooses to remain in existence. Biological conditionality is the metaphysical basis for normatively valenced existents in an organism's umwelt but that metaphysical normativity for humans becomes immanent only where the man-made desire or otherwise prediscursive, voluntarist motivation to remain a biological entity is present. Ethics is not some categorical imposition and the choice to live is not the sort of thing that can be impugned as immoral; the choice to live is categorically a precondition of evaluation and so therefore its default can never be wrong for the victim, let alone categorically wrong. Lest these remarks tempt you into thinking there is then no way one can morally evaluate those individuals who might not choose to live (for whatever possible actions and duration that might mean), recall the agent-relative character of value, and realize that for those who do in fact choose to live, hardly anything could be more evil than those individuals who are indifferent to wanton destruction of themselves and the world around them insofar as they pose destructive consequences also for oneself. It is the same depersonalization of ethics that gives rise to thinking morality exists outside of individuals to accept and participate such a relation that gives rise also to thinking morality can not apply to those individuals who do not choose to accept and participate that relation. Ethics is about you. The Objectivist Ethics is addressed to you.
  9. The "endemic equivocation" you seem to be calling attention to is the popular conflation of "man's survival qua man" with and reduction to "man's de facto survival". This conflation mistakes the literally derivable survival requirements from man's nature to be necessarily constituted also of those activities which might happen to promote immediate survival. But Rand is not a consequentialist; there is no legitimate distinction between the value of a life - and its species-specific identity - and the values in a life. A further (sufficient) condition must be met by those aforementioned activities - that they be concomitant with reason. How a man's survival qua animal can be achieved bears nothing directly on whether or not man's survival qua rational animal is achieved. I have never seen or read anywhere David Kelley's failure to appreciate these distinctions, and am curious to know where you think he does fail in this regard.
  10. This level of context-dropping is near impossible to believe. I will simply assume you are a troll and move on.
  11. No you are again demonstrably wrong. Divergence, like "randomness", is entirely epistemological. Just how there are no violations of causality there are no magic, computational abrogations of what is programmed but only violations of what is thought to be potentially possible, or is intended, or is expected to happen. Your blatant confidence in your positions is profoundly unwarranted and your continued ability to neglect the substance of my responses non-conducive to your learning the genuine epistemological status of perception.
  12. Notice how that call depends crucially on you, on the importation of some knowledge of what is actually correct beyond the computer's defined inputs. Computers do not diverge from their inputted programming and so can neither err nor know. You've contributed nothing meaningful in your two replies to me thus far (demonstrative of your understanding in agreement or otherwise) and so I think I'll waste no further time entertaining your positions.
  13. Yes they do. One can not be mistaken, can not err, if there exists no choice concerning the adherence to what is correct. The "error" messages of computers symbolize only incomplete processes, not any divergence from the correct ones, i.e. not mistakes or errors. Your continual failure to observe the genetic roots and applicable contexts of the concepts you are using is frustrating and the root of your mistaken positions. Your "perfect" qualifier is invalid for there is no natural actualization of any sense modality that is not mediated by some sense organ, i.e. some incomplete, "imperfect" means of perception. Nature flies from the infinite, and I accuse of attempting to do epistemology without a knowing subject. See my remarks above and further, consider your invalid, implicit conflation of information and knowledge.
  14. Self-evidence is not something which can be assessed third-personally so with this question you are not asking how it is that the senses are self-evident but how it is that the senses can be self-evident. The senses are not actually in question here only your understanding of that fact. In his Metaphysics, Aristotle speaks to the things first and best known as being, in part, that about which it is impossible to be mistaken. To be potentially mistaken is to be fallible, but the concept of "fallible" is inapplicable to the physiological process of perception for this process is in no part volitional. Thus, the evidence of the senses can not be leveraged in genuine favor of any thesis claiming such evidence to ever be "fooling" or "misleading", for the relata necessary to distinguish between what one has or has not been fooled about is too an aspect of the evidence of the senses. The senses can not fool for they are silent. There can be no such thing as a non-veridical percept. Edit: spelling.
  15. I've been a bit busy and haven't had much time for thinking. Will respond when I have thoughts worth sharing.
  16. But they are dependent. Those "contradictory elements" Rand speaks to are necessarily held conceptually. Just as concepts are a form of awareness of existence, so contradiction is a form of awareness of consciousness, and the attempted union of concept and contradiction - an anti-concept - is an obstacle to awareness of existence (existence has no contradictions). For the attribution of acausality (the thesis I'm lambasting), the "disparate, incongruous, contradictory element" is the deployment of identity in opposition to causality. A concept which tries to integrate this impermissible, metaphysical divisibility can and should be designated an anti-concept. This is specifically why I included the phrase "[t]he adjectival form of "epiphenomenon", i.e., "the attribution of acausality", not a name. This is restating where I said, "the attribution of acausality contradicts the requirements of knowing an existent to attribute". The point was that knowledge-acquisition is a causal process, and an existent incapable of participating this process is an existent incapable of being knowingly attributed anything at all. I meant to say first*-person ontology. The fact that we both are and participate the systems which facilitate the capacity of self-awareness, that our knowing subject can at once be also object. Sorry for any confusion.
  17. This is precisely what I mean by "fundamentally acausal in the physical sense" and "an illusory and metaphysically impotent byproduct of our third-person ontology"; the motivation for ascriptions of acausality to something is the recognition of that something's ability to "violate causality". I suppose I can appreciate your providing a more meticulous description of the thesis I'm arguing against though. Do you have anything to say about the argument itself?
  18. Introduction: By "epiphenomenonal" I do not mean those perfectly valid descriptions appropriate to the context of physics and biology to articulate those phenomena which can be termed non-primary insofar as their effects are correlated with some relevant primary effects, but are not suspected to be their cause (see: Epiphenomenon subsections "Medicine" and "Electromagnetism"). Instead I mean the usage common to materialist theories of mind, i.e. the doctrine that consciousness exists, but is fundamentally acausal in the physical sense (as though there could exist some rupture between physicality and causality). In this sense consciousness does not affect the brain in any meaningful way, but is "epiphenomenal" - an illusory and metaphysically impotent byproduct of our third-person ontology. Argument: "Epiphenomenon" in this sense is an anti-concept, and more specifically, a stolen concept. When speaking to the referents of the concept of "nothing" in the appendix to Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Ayn Rand describes such negative concepts as "purely relative". She remarks later on that "[n]on-existence - apart from what it is that doesn't exist - is an impossible concept. It's a hole - a literal blank, a zero". In our case of the concept "epiphenomenon", the relative distinction has been collapsed - the referent in question is both "non existent" and the "what it is". The omissions relevant to the formation of the concept "nothing" are the totality of the measurements belonging to the existents whose absence is being signified. The omissions relevant to the the formation of the concept "being" are the the totality of the measurements of the measurements belonging to the existents whose existence is being signified. In collapsing the just-mentioned distinction, the measurements and the measurement's measurements become one, absolving the relative character needed to produce anything of sense about an absence of being. This "sense" derives from the existent (read: causal) nature of all productions of knowledge and principles known. Put very simply, the attribution of acausality contradicts the requirements of knowing an existent to attribute. The absoluteness of reality and the principle of no metaphysical hierarchies guarantees the nonexistence of any gradations of existence, including the gradations of existence relative to putatively known existents. Conclusion: The adjectival form of "epiphenomenon" common to those materialist fetishizations of the human mind's nonexistence is an anti-concept, and just another poor way (albeit a fashionable one) of attempting to side-step the axiom of consciousness.
  19. I've taken a look at everyone else's replies but the answer seems rather simple: the domains of emotion and evaluation are not the sole cause of their correlated physiological responses, e.g., nocturnal erections, tearing from sulfur compounds (onions), circadian clocks, etc. For these examples there are no reasons to attribute lust, sadness, or boredom as cause. With the utter normality in the animal kingdom of infant vocalizations being an invitation for caregiving I see no reason to chalk up to an emotional faculty what can be attributed to evolution.
  20. Your latest answer was exactly what I was looking for. Thank you again. Would you agree that to be unknowable, and not simply unkown but unknowable in principle, is to be nonexistent?
  21. Logical and Grames, I greatly appreciate your responses and am very satisfied specifically with your answers to my second question. Your answers to my first have given me much to think on, but I still can't dispel my original sense of confusion. I'll try to spell out the source of my confusion as slowly and carefully as I can: Attention to degrees of similarity and less difference between units relative to a background is effortful. Regarding them as a class is effortful. The employment of concepts - which are a form of awareness - is effortful. The operation of man's conceptual faculty - the faculty responsible for the acquisition of knowledge - and mental manipulation of these classes are effortful. Because this and much more are effortful, cognition is not intrinsically reality-oriented (hence this post) but requires a method to direct the course of one's mental effort such that it remains in contact with reality. Now Objectivists call the proper sort of methodological adherence "objectivity". My question is what if the identity of our consciousness and form of apprehending existence makes it such that there are things whose acceptance would invalidate any claim to objectivity, but are nevertheless the case? Objectivists often seem to employ, as a kind of form of negative demonstration, that if the acceptance of something entails the impossibility of ever knowing that something, then that something can not be. I'm having a real hard time understanding why our epistemic predicaments might legislate what may or may not be the case, as opposed to something merely being the case and yet impossible to know in virtue of causing an affront to objectivity (self-contradiction being one example). Is it not possible for something to be the case, and yet be unknowable in virtue of its acceptance causing the impossibility of knowing that something? If it is still unclear what I'm attempting to get at I'll just try to sort it out myself with previous comments in mind. Thanks.
  22. I fully understand your answer to my second query. Thank you for providing clarification. I think your point can be summed up in the notion that "concepts are contextual". Perhaps a valuable "meta"-point to be made here is the appropriation and use of concepts as though whether their referents may or may not exist is tangential is itself actually crucial. I do not fully understand or comprehend your answer to my first query. Would it be possible for you to expand further on how supposing "whatever is the cause of contradiction and impasse is the case, but can nevertheless never known to be the case" might imply these? Thanks.
  23. Query One: Objectivism's countenance of the (originally) Aristotelian principle that, to want for demonstration of all things is to betray a want for education, is obvious and indisputable. Both Rand and Aristotle share a crucial appreciation for the necessary existence of certain explananda which must be accepted as the metaphysically given - as the precondition of man-made explanans (and their viability). Some have objected to this postulation of inscrutables by affirming that it is perhaps possible in some sense that the relationship between the human understanding and "true nature" of existence is asymmetrical; there might be some things "true of existence" which it is impossible for the mind to assent to without later contradiction. In my own words, there is perhaps an unavoidable rupture between metaphysics and epistemology, and there might be things whose postulation invalidates any claim to knowledge or methodological objectivity, but are nevertheless the way of things. In this sense then, contradiction is not simply a sign pointing to unchecked premises, but perhaps also a sign simply of metaphysical impasse insofar as ascension to whatever is the cause of contradiction and impasse is the case, but can nevertheless never known to be the case, ie. that the premise of "symmetry" between epsitemic method and metaphysical reality I mentioned earlier is unjustifiable (I think some aggressive lines of defense might be open to Objectivism in acknowledging that symmetry is man-made - it is constitutive of method). Is the proper rebuttal to remarks of this nature to affirm the necessary supposition of a knowing subject for epsitemic affairs and value? By this I mean is the solution to recapture the uniquely human viewpoint of Objectivism - the insistence on conceptual identity being not a bar but a precondition of epistemological purchase? Is the solution to affirm ineffable claims about "what is the case" as literally meaningless without the requisite means to establish those claims, ie. to affirm the meaninglessness of an uncaused knowledge? Query Two (hopefully related): Objectivists often make use of the principle that appeals to the impossible are fundamentally inappropriate. Indeed, they describe something like omniscience being a bar to certainty as an invocation of an inappropriate standard of certainty. Why must standards of judgment be possible? Isn't it part of the usual detractors' points that such things are impossible precisely in virtue of the impossible standard required? Thanks in advance for any discussion.
  24. Why do you think it is important to not reify the concept of physical law? Or in other words, why do you think it is important to rebuke the notion that physical laws constrain the actions of entities, as opposed to simply taking their truth value from the way existence exists?
  25. From your paper (blue is mine): "Abstract: We show that Rand’s theory of concept formation, more specifically, the requirement that every concept subsume at least two entities..." That requirement is not a part of Ayn Rand's theory of concept formation. Rand endorses metaphysical pluralism and never legislates entities as the only kind of existent which can serve as a unit. Because the argumentative vehicle for your criticism of Objectivism is (entirely) the rejection of this requirement you fundamentally miss the mark. "Definition 1. A set of statements Σ is philosophically neutral with respect to some set of philosophical positions Π if and only if all of the statements in Σ are logically independent..." If indeed "the truth is the whole" then logical independence makes since only as a concept referring to a subject's lack of knowledge (like 'randomness'). This means then that only when you can not identify, say, the logical dependence of higher-abstractions upon more primitive ones is it possible to be philosophically neutral towards those more complex abstractions. Interesting. "Both true and false statements are representations of reality." One wonders at the standard of appeal by which we come to distinguish truth and falsity. "If subjects represent things, then predicates represent concepts." Your entire section pertaining to "Definition 3." is very confused. It is merely because the three statements you make use of in turn make use of proper nouns (which can not represent concepts) as subjects that you feel licensed to regard subjects as necessarily non-representative of concepts. Subjects are things. Predicates are composed of concepts. "Definition 4. A concept is a mental phenomenon that which, given a subject, outputs a statement about the subject." This definition, if held also as an operational definition and in conjunction with your "Definition 2.", leads to the impossibility of the beginning of concept-formation; one would require the constituent concepts of the outputted statement before one could have the concept which outputs that statement. Or maybe you think concepts output things to and exist apart from knowing subjects. "It is possible to apply the concept “a red planet” to Earth and thereby obtain the false statement, 'The Earth is a red planet'." This whole passage is ridiculously messy and your quotation actually makes pretense to concepts and predicates being identical but a concept is not the kind of thing that can be "said of some subject" unless you consider, per your own phraseology, every phenomenon "a mental phenomenon". "The third is that a concept does not represent anything . . .Instead, a concept is what connects statements to subjects." How is something which represents nothing capable of connecting or "outputting statements" about anything? And moreover how does a concept connect "statements to subjects" if, again by our own definition, a statement is already essentially composed in part by a subject? Perhaps what you meant was to connect statements to subjects which are alien to the ones of the original statement's composition but then again what would your non-representational, non-referential connective tissue even mean? "The role that these axioms serve in the overall analysis is to . . . 3) establish the truth of the conclusion." See: Rationalism. "For example 'red and a planet' and 'not neither red nor a planet' are equivalent predicates because: 'Mars is red and a planet' is true if and only if 'Mars is not neither red nor a planet' is also true, 'Earth is red and a planet' is true if and only if 'Earth is not neither red nor a planet' is true, ... , and so on for every other such statement." Therefore, according to you (in virtue of logical dependency being a bar to neutrality), the determination of any equivalent predicates can not be philosophically neutral and must necessarily be "biasing the investigation beforehand". Also interesting. "Axiom 7. (Axiom of Concept Representation) For all concepts c and all predicates ϕ and all predicates ψ, if ϕ represents c and if ϕ is equivalent to ψ, then ψ also represents c. What the above axiom basically comes down to is that people understand logic. If one understands every statement like 'Mars is red and a planet' then one cannot also fail to understand any logically equivalent statement such as 'Mars is not neither red nor a planet'." Did you forget earlier where you said "Note that the word 'is' is not part of the predicate"? Note that the logical equivalence of these statements depends exclusively on "predicates ϕ and ψ" containing forms of the verb to be. "Since there is an infinite variety of predicates equivalent to each predicate..." Being allowed to say this means rejecting your "Note that..." assertion just quoted above insofar as the very possibility of pairs of equivalent predicates depends precisely on what you've already banished from the predicate. I admit to being bored at this point and have decided to skip to the part of your paper where you supposedly actually talk about Objectivism. " The Objectivist theory of concept formation makes at least the following claims:" Here we go... "Claim 20. For every concept, there are at least two (non-mental) subjects subsumed by the concept." I guess the concept of concept isn't possible in Objectivism. *facepalm* "Claim 21. Existence exists. That is, the concept represented by the predicate 'has existence' exists." First, the theory of concept formation does not claim "existence exists". Second, that is perfectly not what the existence axiom means and your characterization of "has existence" makes pretense to existence as an attribute of things, an assertion which is clearly repudiated in Chapter 6 of ITOE where Rand says, "Existence and identity are not attributes of existents, they are the existents." [emphasis original] "Claim 22. A is A. That is, the concept represented by the predicate 'has identity' exists." See again response to "Claim 21" and substitute "existence exists" with "A is A" and "has existence" with "has identity". "The predicate 'has existence' will be denoted by ex and the predicate 'has identity' will be denoted by id." So we finally get to the part in your paper where you actually deal with Objectivism and you present three claims its theory of concept formation makes - all of them being abjectly wrong and clearly contradicted by primary Oist literature - then finish your "criticism" with three theorems all resting on perfectly inadmissible predications (e.g. "has identity", "has existence"). I don't know what it is you are critiquing (and I'm fairly sure you aren't either) but it isn't Objectivist Epistemology and it definitively isn't definitive.
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