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Everything posted by Dufresne

  1. I am a member of the group "Patron" although I am not a patron anymore (and haven't been for a long time). Quite some time ago, I asked for this to be changed and for a short while it was but today I came back to the forum to see that I am still listed as a patron. So if this non-patron change cannot be made permanently, I'd like my account to be deleted or unregistered. I guess there must be some means to accomplish that. I saw that you are an admin so I'd like to ask you to unregister my account. Thank you in advance.
  2. Atheism means disbelief in supernatural beings. Ayn Rand did not believe in the existence of supernatural beings.
  3. I've thought about what you wrote and read the recommended section from OPAR. Would you say that the following metaphor is adequate? Suppose the core of an onion represents the product of the first induction. It is a generalization that is based on a number of specific observations which constitute the "cognitive context" of the induction. Then new observations are made and a new layer is added to the onion. This new layer represents the qualification of the original induction. Thus it is the same onion, it just has become a little "richer". The inner core still refers to the first set of observations and thus is still true, the layer around the core refers to the second set of observations. But the whole onion still is one idea, just richer, bigger than before!?
  4. Actually, why do they kill birds? Can't the birds just fly around them?
  5. Suppose someone was murdered and you want to find out who the murderer is. You have three suspects: the victim's wife, the victim's son and the neighbor. After interrogating the suspects you have found out that two of them have an aliby. Thus you conclude that the third suspect is the murderer. Can you see anything wrong with this type of reasoning? If so, what?
  6. I have to admit that I am not exceptionally good at introspection when it comes to methods of reasoning. But I still find it hard to believe that induction is used more often than deduction. One of the typical everyday-life situation that I thought of is driving a car: one knows a set of principles (obey the traffic rules, don't collide with other objects, etc.) and applies them to a given situation. Or consider language: one knows - implicitly or explicitly - a set of rules for properly forming sentences and then just applies them.
  7. I thought about David's swan example in which someone inductively and properly arrives at the principle that all swans are white and then tries to apply that principle deductively to another swan not yet observed (which could be black). As Doug pointed out, induction is not achieved by enumeration but by causal identification so the swan example could be a little misleading unless the person has identified the cause of the color. But even then, the cause of the color could be absent in a yet unknown swan. Or there could be an additional cause superseding the cause for white. The other example was RSalar's astronomy example. From those two examples I induced that deduction is not 100% certain (regardless of context) because principles are created in a given context of knowledge but do not necessarily have to apply to facts that are only known in a bigger context of knowledge.
  8. Why could it only be caused by planets? Why couldn't it be caused by some phenomenon not yet known? Because if there was another phenomenon causing it then the entire deduction would crumble. Deduction is not 100% certain regardless of the context.
  9. Absolutely. Admittedly, this is a simple example and you made it look ridiculous by making the thinker's thought processes explicit and overly long. But in general I don't see why deductively reached conclusions do not qualify as knowledge. Just in case: I'm not trying to defend rationalism or dimish the role of inductions. So you are saying that deduction is inferior to induction (and observation) because it is used less frequently. How did you arrive at that conclusion? Used less frequently by whom? For what (e.g. in science, in research, in everyday life)? And why would the worth of a form of reasoning be dependent on the frequency of its use? So a person could inductively arrive at a principle that is true in his context of knowledge and then apply this principle deductively to a fact that is outside of his original context of knowledge and discover that the principle does not apply and thus recognize that he has reached a false conclusion. Very good point! Thank you.
  10. Why do you claim that deduction is a poor way to create knowledge? I don't claim that the opposite is true, I'm just curious. Do you mean that deduction is a way to create knowledge but compared to induction it is an inferior way? Let's take the example you gave. Suppose someone has reached the principle that all men are mortal through generalization from observations (i.e. induction). Then a couple of days later he recognizes that Socrates is a man. I can see why the conclusion (i.e. Socrates is mortal) is logically contained in the premises but the thinker has to make a new mental integration between the general principle and the concrete observation. Would you say that the new integration constitutes new knowledge? Or do you mean that the deduction would not have been possible without the prior induction (with which I fully agree)? Very interesting. Do you care to elaborate this point?
  11. Consider the human body. Your arteries and veins can be in good condition, allowing the blood to flow where it has to flow. Or you could have an embolism, completely stopping blood flow. These are two extremes but there are also different stages of arteriosclerosis. Your eyes can be in perfect condition allowing you to see everything both near and far. Or you could be blind, not seeing anything. Again, these are extremes and there are many intermediary states requiring you to wear glasses, for example. Your bones can be in good condition or very fragile and again there are many different stages in between. Now consider the human mind. You can have a very active mind which has a lot of knowledge about everything relevant to the individual's survival and much more. Or you can have a passive, ignorant mind filled with irrelevant non-sense (or filled with nothing at all). These are extremes, there are many intermediary stages. In all of these examples some part of you can exist in a wide variety of stages or conditions. It is not an issue of white or black but there are many shades of gray. What is better for survival, a dark gray or a light gray? Is it better for survival to have a mild form of arteriosclerosis or a strong form? Is it better for survival to know a little about the things that matter for survival or is it better to know a little more? Is it better for survival to own $200 or $4000? When you are talking about the alternative or life or death you are talking about the alternative between black and non-black but you are omitting all the differences between the various non-blacks, the various shades of gray. You can exist in a very dark shade of gray but for how long? How resilient are you to unexpected events? How resilient are you to cope with unemployment if you only own $200? Can you enjoy sports if you have fragile bones? Can you enjoy a ride in a roller-coaster if you have a weak heart? Different shades of gray make a hell of a difference to your ability to survive. Do you remember times in your life when you were depressed? In such a state you don't get much joy out of life and you don't have much of a will to continue your life. Do you remember times in your life when you were utterly happy, thoroughly enjoy life and think that this should go on indefinitely? Joy and suffering are not irrelevant to survival. The more joy you experience the more you consider your life worth living, worth all of the effort it takes. For humans, survival is material but it is not exclusively material. The mind is not merely a machine playing around with words. It makes choices that lead to actions that either bring you closer to the "white" I wrote about earlier or to the "black". Going to the movies or taking a vacation is not a time-out from survival, it is survival.
  12. Yeah, especially when that person is someone you consider lovely and to whom your answer is important.
  13. May I remind you of something you wrote not so long ago?
  14. You're right that you don't "bend the truth a little"; you bend it a lot. See, you know exactly what people are asking when they ask whether you believe in God.
  15. Then it's not just me. Thanks for checking. I'll contact ARI via e-mail and let them know about the problem.
  16. I'm experiencing problems accessing ARI's RealAudio streams and wonder whether anyone else here has the same problem. I wanted to order an online course but since it's only offered as RealAudio I tried testing a couple of samples. All Windows MediaPlayer samples work but none of the RealAudio streams. This link, for example, does not work: Investing: An Objective Approach When I click on this link, then Firefox tries connecting and after some time responds with "The connection has timed out. The server at real.aynrand.org is taking too long to respond." Does anyone have the same problem?
  17. I'm not answering for DPW but I want to offer an example that might clarify things: Suppose someone jumps from a skyscraper and you only consider his fall from the top to the middle. Then you could say that he is still alive, he still exists as a living human being. And that's true. But that would be the mentality of a pragmatist who considers only the short-term. A principled egoist wants a long-term life and happiness. So he does not confine his view to the immediate future but looks at the consequences of a policy or course of action on his entire life. The person who jumps from a skyscraper (or lets say a large building) might get away with his irrationality because other people might have put one of these large rescue cushions onto the ground. But that doesn't change the fact that the jumper chose a self-destructive course (and just to make clear, I am in no way implying that jumping off a skyscraper is in all cases irrational, considering what happened in NY on 9/11. This example merely serves to demonstrate the consequences of pragmatism and acting on principle in a directly perceivable way). Now apply that to your question of whether food has an inherent value or not. Let's take a different example. Suppose you live in New York and want to go to the supermarket in order to buy food. But instead of walking through the traffic with open eyes, you decide to close your eyes while walking to get your food. You might be lucky for some time and survive. You might even get to the supermarket but to conclude from that that you did something good is the same as concluding that it's good to jump from a skyscraper because you don't die when considering only the first half of the fall. Do you see now why food is not a value if obtained that way? Long-term you lose your life trying to obtain food that way. What's food worth if you are dead?
  18. Whether beauty is critical depends on the kind of relationship. I certainly wouldn't want to have a romantic relationship with a roman I don't find sexually attractive. May I ask why this question is important to you?
  19. They are also not exhaustive: ugliness could be another reason.
  20. I've heared that some people die during sex because of heart problems. Sex is happening without the consent of others and "someone from the state has to come out and collect the body when it all goes catestrophically wrong, and that comes out of the taxpayer's wallets.".
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