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Posts posted by KyaryPamyu

  1. 46 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

    we know from real persons that submissive in bed does not entail submissive in life.

    I think there's a natural dynamic of leader-follower in sex, following from the anatomical aspect. Usually the male is the 'boss', but polarity can be present in many other ways, even a female dominatrix. Either way, I personally don't see a philosophical significance to submissiveness, penetration or even special clothing.

    Other animals don't care whether they get to business in a hotel room or in a hole in the ground. Where sense of life enters, in my view, is when people (consciously or unconsciously) add to the experience in various ways, according to what makes them feel like they're truly living the million-dollar life.

  2. 9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    The question wasn't what is good or bad sex, it was the relationship between sex and sense of life.

    The relationship in question is how sense of life affects your artistic and sexual preferences. By preference I mean: the kind of partner and 'techniques' that make sex good or underwhelming to you. 

    Why is it good or underwhelming? Because it gives you a sense of power, or fails to do so. And why does this particular person, this specific technique etc. make you feel like that? Because... (the reasons you give will tie in to certain beliefs - the same beliefs that make you like certain heroes, situations and attitudes in art). Pray do tell how it is irrelevant to:

    9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    bring in a whole context about what sex is, what makes a good, and why it matters. 


    9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    You didn't mention what the person finds sexually attractive, rather you mentioned that the view on one's situation leads to some kind of sense of life.

    No sense of life arises from viewing a situation as risky or not. Rather, the sense of life that you already have (formed over a long period of time via automatic emotional generalization) is active when you judge that, in the same way only privileged people ride in limos, only 'privileged' individuals get to have that kind of sex.

  3. 1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

    You seem to be saying that some people find certain relations sexually attractive because they are perversely doing something against who they are.

    By 'going against who they are', do you mean that they get their kink from pretending to be someone else - a hospital patient and a nurse? Then you missed my point. Fantasy is obviously a good-natured form of playing. It's the content of the game that's being analysed here, vis-a-vis sense of life. 

    Role playing is versatile, For example, some people engage in role playing simply because it dissolves some of the familiarity that seeps into a relationship over time, a sort of return to the early days of dating where everything feels like treading new grounds, embarking on an adventure. And in other situations, it can be a philosophical kink.

    Implicit in sex is that pleasure is open to those who deserve it. Pleasure is open (benevolent-universe premise) to those who deserve it (sef-esteem). Having sex consummates this fact.

    The nurse-patient code of conduct is there for the sake of everybody else in that hospital (what they do somewhere else, in private, is up to them). Somebody who believes that the world stops him from getting what he wants (with the many necessary laws of conduct) might also conclude that a great (efficaceous) person is one that can plough through those limitations and get away with it. In other words, there's a dichotomy between the good (properness) and efficacy (one's sense of power, of being able to get what one wants). For such a person it's 'good to be bad', as it were. He thinks that by breaking the rules (perverting the good) he's an exceptional individual that can bypass the world's attempts to cripple his freedom and enjoyment. Such an individual is not going against who he is.

  4. 2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

    what might role-play say about sense of life?

    The section starts with some necessary prep for understanding Rand's theory that sex is "a celebration of one’s power to gain values and of the world in which one gains them." [OPAR p. 344]

    For some people, illicit situations - such as breaking the nurse-patient code of conduct - are examples of being able to do things that ordinary people can't, in lieu of who one is; think along the lines of the rockstar stereotype, who can allegedly bypass the normal courtship process which binds to ordinary mortals (since women stick to his windows like Playdoh) and sleep with women as casually as brushing his teeth.

    These examples signify greatness to some people, but not to everybody. This is why Francisco D'Anconia says "Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life."

    In addition to Branden's lecture (BPO 58), an interesting discussion of sex can be found in Peikoff's course Objectivism through Induction.

  5. Although Rand never mentions how she reached her theory of art, it's reasonable to assume that she did it by induction from established and important works of literature, painting etc. Virtually all art up until the late 19th century has been representational. Rand's contribution is a theory of representational art, so it can be argued that it has little application to alternative frameworks such as non-representational and conceptual art. Whether this is a limitation or not comes down to your personal preferences. If you like non-objective art and want to integrate it with representational theories of art, Rand's aesthetics will at best give you some hints for your project.

    What is art for?

    People love to occasionally take a break from the real world and live inside an idealized world. Granted, there are alternative ways to experience a different world: daydreaming, video games, intoxication and even sex come to mind. Art is unique because it's ready-made; no productive participation is required of the consumer.

    Rand stresses in many places that any justification for art other than enjoyment chips away at the very soul of the artistic enterprise:


    "the reason why in reading a story or looking at a painting we feel it is an end in itself is that we don’t want to experience that pleasure for any other purpose but the pleasure itself." [FW 58] "The simple truth is that I approach literature as a child does: I write—and read—for the sake of the story." [RM 162]

    Why does art portray a total philosophy, and not just a few individual philosophic principles?

    Let's say a novelist writes a novel about a hairdresser for celebrities. If his hero is fictional, the novelist will construct his life according to what he thinks human beings go through in virtue of being human beings: despair, triumph, futility etc. If, on the other hand, his subject is a real historical person, he'll make it seem as if the events of his life are perfect examples of the despair, triumph or futility of life. This is akin to how religionists take everything to be a proof of god—fortune or misfortune, the existence of the world or the non-existence of the world etc.—it doesn't matter what you throw at them, they'll find a way to convert it into evidence for their beliefs.

    In art, every action, political rant, brushstroke etc. is in some way consistent with the artist's basic assumptions. By contrast, the real world contains some degree of randomness, e.g. Peikoff's example of fumbling while trying to elegantly open a champagne bottle during a date [OPAR 425]. (whether randomness exists outside of human actions is a much-debated philosophical topic).

    Some O'ists find it puzzling that a four-line stanza or a statue can hold a total, entire, complete philosophy. This is because they look at the object and not at 'where it comes from', i.e. the source of the selections that construct the work. Such a concatenation is supposed to evoke a distinctive kind of world to your consciousness:


    "Metaphysics. . . involves such a vast sum of knowledge and such a long chain of concepts that no man could hold it all in the focus of his immediate conscious awareness. Yet he needs that sum and that awareness to guide him—he needs the power to summon them into full, conscious focus." [RM 19]

    "a novel (like a statue or a symphony) does not require or tolerate an explanatory preface; it is a self-contained universe, aloof from commentary, beckoning the reader to enter, perceive, respond." [L. Peikoff, preface to Atlas Shrugged)

    A person can hardly enter another world by means of a statue if he looks at it the same way he looks at a G.I. Joe action figure. Most of the philosophical sciences look outward to the external world; aesthetics is uniquely tasked with studying man's inner world in correlation to outward objects of the senses, such as a canvas. Is music a microcosm? Despite being built out of invisible air vibrations, you'd be hard pressed to find a quicker way to tune out of your bus ride and slip straight into another world, than by putting a pair of headphones on.

    Is architecture art?

    I'm inclined to think that Rand simply commented on the traditional list of fine arts, rather than reconstructing such things from the ground up. In my opinion, architecture doesn't fit in with her definition of art. If buildings can be art, lunch boxes can be as well. Both are non-representational; both can be either enjoyed for their visual style and significance, or used to enclose people or sandwiches.


    "Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments." [RM 45]

    "Architecture. . . does not re-create reality, but creates a structure for man’s habitation or use, expressing man’s values." [RM 46 {'architecture' is non-existent in the Ayn Rand lexicon}]

    Why is aesthetics even a part of philosophy?

    Art has existed for much longer than philosophy, so it certainly wasn't invented by philosophers.

    When we describe man, characteristics such as having two eyes and a nose won't suffice—too many other animals have eyes and noses. By contrast, the moment you mention 'reason = primary means of survival' you've instantly narrowed the search down to a single entry: man. Likewise, if you want to build a universe in miniature, you have to ignore contingencies and go straight to the essential, important characteristics of earthly existence, i.e. metaphysical features. This is what gives your mini-world an instantly recognizable character, what we refer to when speaking of the world of Rembrandt or Monet.


    "Cognitive abstractions are formed by the criterion of: what is essential?. . . Normative abstractions are formed by the criterion of: what is good? Esthetic abstractions are formed by the criterion of: what is important?" [RM 36]

    Theory is hard and makes people's brains hurt. By contrast, everybody understands what they encounter in the world of the five senses. Philosophy can be downright unintelligible without the superheroes, pop idols and ancient myths that seep into popular culture and act as statements of what human life is all about.

    The philosopher, priest and artist deal with the same topics, but in different forms. The philosopher describes the world in a conceptual form, the priest allegedly connects you to the immanent essence of that world, and the artist builds a world for contemplation.

    Aesthetics is an objective science

    Creating art is a skill. Natural talent and inclination is crucial, but producing tight artworks requires technical know-how. This technical toolkit removes restrictions to expressive freedom, rather than constraining it with asinine rules:


    "Classicism . . . was a school that had devised a set of arbitrary, concretely detailed rules purporting to represent the final and absolute criteria of esthetic value. In literature, these rules consisted of specific edicts. . . which prescribed every formal aspect of a play (such as the unity of time, place and action) down to the number of acts and the number of verses permitted to a character in every act. . . and can serve as an example of what happens when concrete-bound mentalities, seeking to by-pass the responsibility of thought, attempt to transform abstract principles into concrete prescriptions and to replace creation with imitation." [RM 104]

    Does aesthetics study beauty?

    It can be argued that non-beautiful art has little appeal for those who seek art specifically for enjoying themselves. Rand makes no mention of aesthetics as a theory of beauty, but she does discuss a closely related subject: taste. Understanding precisely how taste works can help us identify why combinations that come across as 'tacky', 'sophisticated', 'chaotic' etc. can also come across as beautiful to some people and not to others.

    The subconscious mind integrates everything we believe about the world. Thanks to this, we naturally feel the overall context underlying our everyday existence, with no further need to translate this feeling into words. Rand calls this phenomenon a sense of life. In my experience, this sense only comes to the forefront of my conscious attention in moments when something makes me feel that life is amazing, or when I feel that life is offensively not how it ought to be. Those strong reactions are an instance of my sense of life being converted into full-fledged emotions. Artists are so attuned to their sense of life that, during creation, most of their selections are almost forced upon them by their subconscious 'computer', as if possesed by a muse. This kind of inspiration works the other way as well: Rand notes how an essentialized fictional character (concretization of ethics) is just like an essentialized world (concretization of metaphysics): it can summon selections to your conscious mind, as if divinely inspired;


    "Many readers of The Fountainhead have told me that the character of Howard Roark helped them to make a decision when they faced a moral dilemma. They asked themselves: “What would Roark do in this situation?”—and, faster than their mind could identify the proper application of all the complex principles involved, the image of Roark gave them the answer. They sensed, almost instantly, what he would or would not do—and this helped them to isolate and to identify the reasons, the moral principles that would have guided him. Such is the psycho-epistemological function of a personified (concretized) human ideal." [RM ch. 1]

    Your sense of life, to be useful, needs to be rekindled constantly, the same way a fire needs a constant stream of logs to remain active. Otherwise it subdues into nothingness, and you're no longer able to make effortless and 'inspired decisions' the same way the artist does while creating. Put differently, you have to work much harder, because the conscious and subconscious are practicing social distancing rather than being a whole. Your brain is famished, and art is what it craves:


    "If art is, as Ayn Rand said, a crucial nourishment of life, then you are engaged in self-imposed malnutrition. If it's a banquet, you are starving when there are countless courses" (L. Peikoff, "Poems I Like and Why, p. 1 - referring to O'ists who only know Rand's novels, classics, mystery, adventure and TV).

    Sex and art


    "Sense of life is predominant in two realms: sex and art. In sex, sense of life wouldn’t be as clear to you, since it’s harder to identify your own sexual reactions. So the best and perhaps only way to identify sense of life is by observing your reactions to art. (This is not a shortcut; it’s pretty difficult.)" [PO12 76]

    Implicit in good (human) sex are two interrelated feelings:

    1. That having sex is a special, out-of-the-ordinary activity. Some couples even use stories and role-plays to enhance the feeling that something special is going on. (By 'special', many people understand 'illicit', e.g. a nurse breaking the code to do naughty stuff with a patient. I'll leave other possible examples to your imagination.)

    2. If sex it that special, then it's not something open to every Joe or Jane, right? Sex is a response to a person that you feel has a unique ability to navigate life. Both men and women look for strong partners; even if the masculine sex usually takes the lead in a sexual relationship, underlying the woman's sexual attitude must lie a strenght on par with the man's. The more flustered, excited and adoring your partner is, the bigger and greater you feel. Sex doesn't provide self esteem, it merely allows you to enjoy its perks. Branden notes [BPO 58] that no rational person will be motivated to keep himself pristine and admirable if his effort is not rewarded somehow. (It's even harder if you're being punished for it by government goons).

    Sex is philosophical, just like art, in this manner: no sense of life is involved when you hear somebody say that water is a solid rather a liquid; you just find it goofy. But hearing from somebody that living is a meaningless, futile and mindless ritual?? I'll have to stop you there, buster. Pleasurable sex only happens when you feel that you're wholly entitled to that pleasure—as a human being and as this particular individual. If you genuinely feel like you're a useless blob of determined matter, there's no adoration to 'deserve' and sex is a farce.


    "Sex, in Ayn Rand’s identification, is. . . a celebration of one’s power to gain values and of the world in which one gains them" [OPAR 344]


    BPO 58 - Nathaniel Branden's taped lectures on the "Basic Principles of Objectivism" Lecture 16 (1958)

    FW 58 - Ayn Rand's 1958 fiction-writing recorded course

    PO12 76 - Leonard Peikoff, "Philosophy of Objectivism" Lecture 12 (1976)

    RM - Ayn Rand, The Romantic Manifesto

  6. 19 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

    if you need the technical terms, then you aren't presenting in language that a layperson can understand

    I agree, which is why I exclude 98% of all such terms, including: apperception, real activity, limiting activity, ideal-realism, criticism and the like. Simply explaining those is fine for a layman-style presentation. A notable exception is the part about starting points: dogmatism vs. idealism, and you saw where that went.

    21 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

    I'm saying this because what you write is interesting, but I was disappointed because you didn't engage 2046 on what you called academic technicalities. 

    Thanks, and I'm glad you find it interesting. If you find some things to be lacking, then this is Schelling's most covered book in the english-language literature.

  7. 21 minutes ago, necrovore said:

    What I'm describing is a specific way of reading Kant and other philosophers, and it is itself a product of the Objectivist epistemology.

    Nothing wrong with that. In fact, this is one of the most valuable things one could learn from Objectivism. 

    However, if a method is good, it doesn't follow that its application is free from error. Humans are fallible, after all. In The Art of Thinking, Peikoff gives a lecture about how to extract the essentials of a philosophy, movie, book and such. As a demonstration, he uses the method on Kant's philosophy - and gets it wrong. Although the essential premise he identifies is indeed bogus ('consciousness has identity = consciousness is invalid), he's wrong in attributing it to Kant. If you're curious why, check out this resource.

    28 minutes ago, necrovore said:

    That's one reason why students of other philosophies might find it surprising; they might not be thinking in that way (in terms of essentials, or "essentials as defined by Objectivism" as they might put it).

    Students aside, (most) professionals do indeed think in terms of essentials. This is why their papers have such a 'premium' feel to them - that quality and clarity is the result of many years of trial and error.

  8. 32 minutes ago, necrovore said:

    Objectivism is rooted in practicality; that's why Objectivists have little to say about things like idealism.

    Philosophy, according to Objectivism, is supposed to be a tool that you can use to understand the world and live in it.

    Politics as a branch of philosophy is practical to the extent that it deals with creating and maintaining a civilization fit to live in, but there are plenty of other practical concerns that Objectivism helps with that have nothing to do with politics.

    This is why, as far as I remember, the heroes and heroines in Rand's fiction (such as John Galt, Hank Rearden, Dagny Taggart, Howard Roark, etc.) were always concerned with doing real physical things instead of just sitting around contemplating ideas.

    So, in brief, O'ists don't care about idealism, because O'ism is all about practicality and idealism is impractical (or, at best, sitting around contemplating ideas).

    And you've learned this from... where? Idealist philosophy itself? Some claim made by an O'ist?

    A study of Fichte's philosophy will make it clear that no one, not even Rand herself, was so maniacal about practicality as Fichte. So maniacal, in fact, that he believed the universe itself exists solely as an enabler of human morality. Don't even consider mentioning ecology or animal rights to this guy.

    On 10/27/2022 at 12:58 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

    (Allen W. Wood: Fichte's Philosophy of Right and Ethics. A copy can be downloaded from here: Stanford)


  9. 37 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

    I'm tying to understand "it is not primary"

    Try this: imagine yourself laying on your back, in a hammock on a Hawaiian beach. Now imagine that as you lie in that very comfy hammock, you start to think about which movie you're going to watch after you return to the hotel.

    Get it? The thinking you did while chilling on the hammock is itself grounded in the earlier act of thinking of yourself as being in Hawaii.

    Transcendental philosophy solely describes facts like these. It doesn't make claims about metaphysics.

    The absolutely first act cannot enter consciousness - its through it that the experience of being here reading this post, imagining yourself being in Hawaii and analysing what you did, happens at all.

  10. 2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:
    On 10/25/2022 at 5:53 AM, KyaryPamyu said:

    2. The experience of being a spatio-temporal being is a thought, produced by the act of thinking.

    Is the "experience", an experience of the "self" being a "spatio-temporal being", or is this to imply that everything is a thought?

    In a nutshell, If I think about Selena Gomez, then I'm responsible for having Selena present in my head.

    If I see a car on the street, then that sight was not my own doing. Some external objects made contact with my eyeballs, thus I saw a car. Can't do much about that.

    The premise of Schelling's system is that your own thinking is not a primary. There's another thinking activity, separate from yours, somewhere in the back, that produces:
    - The cars that you see on the street
    - The you, a human person of a particular gender, age and height, who sees cars and can also freely think about Selena

    The reason you're unconscious of that force in the back is because thinking-as-such cannot come into conscious awareness. Try it: think about mangoes and then catch yourself in the act.

    1. Mangoes
    2. I'm thinking about mangoes
    3. I'm thinking about thinking about mangoes
    4. (Goes on forever)

    Hence, for Fichte and the early Schelling, there's only two (indirect) ways for humans to discover that hidden, unconscious force:

    - Transcendental deduction, see the OP for what that is
    - Art, in which case it appears in the form of certain unplanned things bleeding into the artwork. 


    A third possibility which they don't explore (due to not knowing much about it), is the one proposed by certain schools of Eastern philosophy. If you represent that unconscious side with '0' and the conscious side of being a human person reading this post with '1', like this:


    Then there are certain meditative practices that allow the conscious side to go from this:


    ...to this


    ...to this


    ....all the way up to this


    In other words, you can at least become conscious of the intermediary steps between the unconscious impulse and the full fledged reality you experience right now.

  11. 3 hours ago, 2046 said:

    Most objectivists are like most amateur philosophy hobbyists in general: they're roleplayers.

    That's a funny thing to say, considering that O'ists don't care much for philosophy, if at all. Which is ironic, considering that Objectivism is a philosophy.

    I've seen people on this forum complain about discussing 'esoteric' metaphysics stuff when people could be discussing what's realy important, which is the current political events. Bringing up things like emergence, mathematics or idealism is simply way outside the scope of why many O'ists adopted O'ism in the first place: to ground a political stance in a rational foundation, and/or to hold a rational alternative to the mainstream 'cults'. It serves as a clear-cut and complete-ish worldview, while simultaneously minimizing the need to window-shop for other philosophies.

  12. 2 hours ago, Boydstun said:

    do you know phrases like "off the top of the head"?

    Of course. It means to lift your hat up :P

    I've never written any philosophy papers (nor have I ever felt the temptation), but I do have my own preferences regarding what I read. If possible, I go with a scholar that specializes in that particular thinker. I noticed from my career in classical music that Jack-of-all-trades musicians are very limited in their grasp of the genres they play compared to musicians that immerse every ounce of their energy into a single musical period (even a single composer). In philosophy as well, this sort of immersion often leads to unearthing many flaws of past scholarship. 

    I don't think it's a good idea to read the originals until one has first read the work of somebody who dedicates the bulk of his career to that thinker. That scholar usually does the heavy-work when it comes to pointing out very subtle differences between seemingly identical statements made by other thinkers of that tradition. Most importantly, there are often differences between the early and later versions of a philosophical system. Many times, the author of that system never points that out, creating the misconception that it's still the same Coca-Cola.

    I don't doubt 2046's advice is in good spirit. I've gone through my share of academic pains. Although I always stress, to myself, the importance of keeping context in any discussion, online or in person. 

    2 hours ago, Boydstun said:

    The case I'm still not finished with, but will probably finish in the first half of 2023, is both Dewey and Peikoff holding Kant and subsequent German Idealists as philosophers most to blame for making the culture in which the Nazis ascended to power and carried out their heinous deeds.

    Yes, a prime example of blowing out the consequences of an idea out of proportion. I highly recommend the paper on Fichte I linked in my previous post. No other Kantian has as many (strong and loose) affinities with Rand.

  13. 4 hours ago, 2046 said:

    your main thesis is what Objectivists think about Kant. They get him wrong! I wanna fix that!

    No, it's not:

    On 10/25/2022 at 11:50 PM, KyaryPamyu said:

    The 'main thesis' is that Kantianism and Objectivism share some points of affinity, despite being grounded in quite incompatible premises.


    4 hours ago, 2046 said:

    Do they reach the same conclusions from different premises?

    From different premises, that's the whole point.

    Despite seemingly deal-breaking differences, both Rand and Kant were adults living in a world where success requires acquring a lot of practical wisdom. Combine that with their ferocious intellects and you're bound to learn a lot of profound lessons from reading both. The injustice done to Kant by O'ist thinkers is also important, but pales in comparision to this.

    4 hours ago, 2046 said:

    I think this list is great. Any one of them could be its own fullblown topic.

    The list is extracted from the OP. The context is there, though anybody who wants more on this can search it up.

    4 hours ago, 2046 said:

    You want Randians to like German philosophers because that's what you like.

    Never said that.

    4 hours ago, 2046 said:

    we need references to the text, and explanations of the terms into mutual language, and argument as to how they are similar or different.

    No, you need that for your specific purposes. Not 'we' - as in, the whole forum. 

    The premise you're smuggling in here is that there's one, and only one, proper way to discuss books, such as your

    4 hours ago, 2046 said:

    examples of his type of thing being done well. (And some are just blog posts.)

    and if you don't do it like that, that's not in accord with the Rules of Philosophy, section 73, paragraph 2.

    I do whatever I want. The OP is a presentation in a language that (I hope) a five-year old or layman could understand. I'm not doing something as grandiose as defending a thesisdressed in formal wear with PowerPoint presentations behind my back, being very careful about what my distinguished colleagues/blog readers might think about how I phrased paragraph 42.


    45 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

    Kyary, you mentioned among affinity between Kant and Rand, "the 'subjugation' of nature (production) as central to morality." I'd think the word for the relation between Kant and Rand on this would be "dissonance", not a harmony or an affinity. Do you know of some place in which Kant praised human alteration of external nature to serve the interests of humans? Kant salutes F. Bacon famously in his Preface to the second edition of KrV, but that is a salute to experimental methods in physical sciences (of heat and chemistry).

    You're right Stephen, there is dissonance between Kant and Rand regarding this issue. Though this is not also true of Fichte and the early Schelling, who wanted to 'finish' Kant's project. My interest is in exploring affinities between O'ism and Kantianism, including other (major) Kantians.

    Fichte also dissolves the duty-pleasure dichotomy:


    Fichte rejects the Kantian position that morality and happiness are ultimately opposed. . . "Only what is good makes us happy. No happiness is possible apart from morality".

    (Allen W. Wood: Fichte's Philosophy of Right and Ethics. A copy can be downloaded from here: Stanford)


  14. 3 hours ago, 2046 said:

    When you're doing something like this, there is always the danger of stretching things out too much.


    The OP is a book summary. I focus on what the book says and try to convey it in straightforward language. There's no connection between the terms I use and their professional academic usage. 

    The actual term Schelling uses is 'dogmatism'. According to Merriam-Webster, this word is commonly used to mean


    the expression of an opinion or belief as if it were a fact 

    but in this book it's actually an antiquated technical term:


    "The dogmatist explains finititude of the self as an immediate consequence of its restriction by an objective"

    (Schelling's 1800 System, p. 37 of the english translation)

    (note: 'objective' is an antiquated way of saying 'object')

    Dogmatism, when used to mean the rival of idealism, has also been called materialism. But even that term is connected to an outdated theory of matter. By focusing on the content of my writing (not the fancy words), it's clear that I replace 'dogmatism' with a modern-sounding moniker ('physicalism') for the first of the two possible starting-principles/axioms:

    18 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

    What causes the changes that occur in consciousness?

    Two possibilities:

    1. Consciousness arises out of physical objects impinging upon physical organs


    2. The experience of being a spatio-temporal being is a thought, produced by the act of thinking.

    . . . 

    Knowledge is contextual. If physicalism is the basic premise, then I have to explain consciousness in a way consistent with physicalism. Conversely, if thinking is the more fundamental premise, then I have to explain why I can't control some parts of my conscious experience, even though my premise says that I think all of my reality.

    Note that I personally have no interest in philosophy except as lessons I can apply to my life. I couldn't care less about academic technicalities - I know that precision is important if you want to distinguish between thinkers and establish taxonomies. Here, I choose to communicate some broad essentials that Fichte, Schelling and Hegel played with in various ways.
    I believe that there are others in the same boat as me, even on philosophy forums, so I would only be worried about anachronism if I have clear indications that this is relevant to the topic being discussed.

    3 hours ago, 2046 said:

    As to your main thesis: you started off making a really controversial claim about Rand and Kant, then shifted it to Schelling, then started asking and answering other questions without tying it back to the main thesis, or motivating it or signposting it. The whole thing just seems scatterbrained to me.

    The 'main thesis' is that Kantianism and Objectivism share some points of affinity, despite being grounded in quite incompatible premises. This affinity is not restricted to any topic in particular. For illustration, I used Schelling's system, which re-organizes the Kantian essentials by grounding them in a different principle: the self's activity. Yes, not in an external reality, which is doubly shocking for the conscientious Objectivist. This is precisely what makes the book a great tool for illustration.

    Examples of this affinity:

    - The status of perceptual form
    - The 'subjugation' of nature (production) as central to morality
    - Retraining from the initiation of physical force, also central to morality
    - Free will as compatible with lawful nature.
    - The artwork as a world-in-miniature (not mentioned in my summary), beauty as the pleasure resulting from overcoming tension.

    The purpose of this thread is to show that Kantianism is not what O'ist thinkers (misleadingly) represent it to be. No, it's not about reality as social-consensus, wishes controlling reality, the form of perception being evil etc. Just listen to Peikoff's lecture on Hegel, then tell me whether this topic, however scatterbrained it may come across to be in your reading, is useful or not.

    3 hours ago, 2046 said:

    Rand and Peikoff weren't a part of these debates. Nor were these debates or their technical terms aimed specifically at answering "how does conscious arise" or "what causes change in consciousness."

    Again, my interest is in the essentials. Does your mind conform to external reality, yes or no? If yes, then you're comfortable with the idea that forms (color, echolocation, Kantian categories) do not exclude a perfect mind-to-reality correspondence. Distinguishing between self and nature, and the form in which that occurs, doesn't compromise anything. Kant's skepticism has a lot more to do with the limits of knowledge. He says that if you use things from experience to explain experience, it's kind of like saying the Bible is true because the Bible says so.

    3 hours ago, 2046 said:

    Nowhere does he say those things ("it arises out of just physical objects impinging.") The only time he talks about impinging in OPAR is talking about sense perception, and he distinguishes that from consciousness per se. 

    Peikoff distinguishes between awareness and means of awareness in OPAR p. 39. I don't see what this changes, though. Any affectation of the means (sense perception) will also affect the end (consciousness); whether consciousness is immaterial or physical is irrelevant, its content would still be conditioned by the whole impinging business. 

    Peikoff's position is that reductionism does not erase the fact of consciousness (Source).

    To expand on that quip I wrote about Peikoff, he basically looks at his consciousness and says 'look, I can't choose to not see the color green. My consciousness has identity, therefore reality is primary and consciousness is passive in regard to it! it's only a mirror! Q.E.D.' I chose Schelling's book because he theorizes about a free activity that creates its own passivity, i.e. it unconsciously limits itself. Every part of my summary is relevant to this central thesis. Yes, even the part about art, which is his solution-of-sorts.

    4 hours ago, Boydstun said:

    Kant's reining in of speculative metaphysics to the point that we cannot know whether God exists or whether the soul is immortal is constraining inappropriate for existence and our minds among it, by the lights of Rand (and me).

    Thanks, Stephen. Lots of interesting points.

  15. Confused? I'll summarize one of the main texts of the Kantian tradition. How compatible is the Kantian framework with Objectivism? You be the judge.

    The book is F.W.J. Schelling's System of Transcendental Idealism (1800), a famous work that enjoys the same status in the philosophical tradition as, let's say, Beethoven's Eroica symphony does in music. (Also check out Boydstun's thread on the same book, and some of his other explorations of Kantianism.
    What causes the changes that occur in consciousness?

    Two possibilities:

    1. Consciousness arises out of physical objects impinging upon physical organs


    2. The experience of being a spatio-temporal being is a thought, produced by the act of thinking.
    According to Schelling (and his predecesors Kant and Fichte), neither possibility can be proved. 

    Knowledge is contextual. If physicalism is the basic premise, then I have to explain consciousness in a way consistent with physicalism. Conversely, if thinking is the more fundamental premise, then I have to explain why I can't control some parts of my conscious experience, even though my premise says that I think all of my reality.

    Since we check the validity of a claim by verifying if it contradicts other stuff we know, we need something to start off with, some axioms.


    Pros and cons of each starting principle

    To know is to identify something, e.g. I identify that I have five fingers on each hand. There has to be some things to identify out there, otherwise the identification faculty (consciousness) will get bored.

    Whatever you identify, you cannot deny the identification (consciousness) of that which you identify (identity/existence). Objectivism puts consciousness in a secondary role, on quite sensible grounds:

    - Consciousness is one of many things that may exist
    - Consciousness is, well, consciousness. There has to be something to identify, otherwise no identification occurs.

    This does miss an important detail though. Consciousness can study its own doing. This is what Rand did when developing her epistemology - she did things with her mind, then looked back at what she did and neatly documented it in ITOE.

    The possibility that Rand and Peikoff doesn't explore is this: the activity of producing thoughts, if it exists to begin with, can be conscious of its own self. Just as you, the reader, have a self-image (positive or negative).

    This other posibility will be the starting point of Schelling's system. As Fichte did, he treats philosophy like Geometry: you start with a theorem, which you then prove by actually constructing the figure. Here, the theorem is that self-consciousnss can only occur in the form of a spatio-temporal individual. Only through proceeding with the construction will the hypothesis be proven or disproven.
    The transcendental deduction

    Don't confuse a transcendental deduction with a logical deduction. A transcendental deduction asks 'what allows this action to occur?'

    Let's say you teach a kid about apples. You place two apples in front of him, and point to both in succesion saying 'apple...apple'. The child points at them and repeats 'apple'. He's formed the concept 'apple' from experience, and now he can expand the concept to include other details, such as 'apples are a fruit', 'sweet', and so on.

    But, says Kant, that child wouldn't have been able to do that without the ability to distinguish one point in space from another. Despite the apples looking similar, the kid could tell they're not the same thing because one's there and the other's over there. Space is the condition for the ability to pick apples.

    If regular philosophers comment on the footbal game from the audience, the transcendental philosopher gets down-and-dirty by playing in the field. His method goes something like this:

    1. He thinks something he wants to find the conditions for
    2. While thinking it, his mind necessarily performs an additional act that enables the first act to be succesfully performed
    3. He takes note of that additional act and freely recapitulates it. This causes yet another involuntary act to occur alongside it.
    4. Rinse and repeat until the limit is reached.

    Kant was the first to perform such a deduction. He asked what the mind has to do in order to distinguish between two kinds of mental content: sensations from outside and sensations authored by the self. This is because both of them are united in the same self:

    I think both P and Q

    and therefore a differentiation is necessary.

    Rand says that Kant equivocates between content and form. This is certainly true under her framework, where the same content can be detected in many different forms. For instance, the same content - location - can be detected in forms such as sight (humans), echolocation (whales), and magnetoreception (pigeons).

    However, for Kant, the content is already taken care of by whatever detection mecahnism you have in place. That's the level of sensation. His concern is, in fact, with the form in which the difference between 'inner' and 'outer' sensations is grasped.

    To find out the answer, Kant does the only thing he can do, which is to study his own mind in the act of distinguishing the two. He concludes that categories such as quality, quantity and causality are needed for this.

    Note that he doesn't rule out the actual existence of quality and quantity, out there in the world. His argument is actually much more simple (paraphrasing his Critique)

    'About my own mind, I know certain things for sure. I know that I must actually see Bob to know whether he's tall or not. Consciousness is my turf, hence I can do that kind of study. The external world is, well, not my turf. Only it could study itself like that'.

    Contra Peikoff, Kant's skepticism has nothing to do with the fact that consciousness grasps in a specific form, and thus all consciousness is disqualified from perceiving reality as it really is (even a godly consciousness).

    Amusingly enough, Peikoff himself takes a somewhat Kantian route in OPAR, on page 45 where he asks you to imagine that


    scientists have discovered that the material world of three-dimensional objects possesing color, texture, size and shape is not a primary, but merely an effect, an effect of various combinations of puffs acting on men's means of perception.

    What would this sort of discovery prove philosophically? Ayn Rand holds that it would prove nothing.

    So the mental effect of shape and size corresponds to something out there. In this same way, Kant's theory of perceptual form doesn't pose any problem for this mind-reality correspondence.

    Regardless, Kant is concerned with studying the character of human knowledge. Metaphysics is for another discussion.
    We now turn back to Schelling - which, I remind you, does not ground his proof on physicalism, but on the act of producing thoughts. He dispenses with the external world, which might or not exist - it's not his business anyway.

    If the act of producing thoughts tries to sense itself, here's what happens:

    - I think
    - I think that I think
    - I think that I think that I think

    Ad infintum. The activity of producing thoughts can only, well... produce thoughts. Sensing the production is not possible, except by representing it with yet another thought. The cycle goes on forever and ever.

    John Galt notes, in his speech, that consciousness has to already be there in order for you to identify it as consciousness. This is also true on an idealistic account. The sequence goes like this:

    1. You produce the thought (obviously, you're aware of that thought)
    2. You distinguish yourself as the thinker of that thought (self-consciousness)

    Now let's perform that transcendental deduction thingy. By studying my mind while performing that act of differentiation, I discover that I was able to distinguish myself as the thinker with the help of this criteria:

    - The thinking act is felt as being in my control. I can analyze, count, think about celebrity gossip etc.
    - The other side is felt as being outside of my control, i.e. indifferent to my wish.

    And, in turn, what are the conditions of this?

    The side that is recalcitrant to my will is represented as the limit to my 'jurisdiction' - extensity/space. And, just as Nature limits my turf, I in turn limit how far it can go by imposing my will upon it ('Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed').

    Although my bondage to Nature is permanent, it's actually valid to say that progress can be made. In fact:

    - I cannot make progress unless there's something to make progress in (the boundary). 
    - The 21st century is better than the Middle Ages, so there's progress even though the list of things I could improve goes on forever.

    The tracking of your progress, in turn, is going to be made possible by the Kantian categories (causality, quality, quantity etc.) You can look these up, because for now we'll move to the next crucial thing.
    Selfhood (self-image) depends on two related 'shocks' to the self: 

    1. Distinguishing 'Self' from, well, non-self. We've already covered that.
    2. Affirming oneself as oneself, not some other wannabe self.

    Expanding a bit on that, to recognize yourself you need Nature to serve as the foil, the 'not-self', which threatens your survival by not listening to your wishes, thus forcing you into a self-assertive, 'lord-over-nature' mode of operation.

    The natural companion (no pun intended) is the clash with other Selves. This makes you realize that whatever you think, see and feel applies to your consciousness only - this is the crucial condition for sensing yourself as an individual self. Fichte and Schelling stress that a 'self-as-such' is a mere abatraction. It can, in fact, only exist as an individual, embodied self.

    This has important political implications. If your will does not belong to you, then it will be part of somebody outside of your own self (slavery). To be free from others forcefully imposing on you, the Randian principle of physical force is a selfish necessity.

    As stated before, any attempt to sense the production of thoughts simply ends up creating yet another drasted thought, forever and ever. The development of the universe, from its basic elements all the way to organic matter and the biosphere, represents the dialectic by which the Self continually 'improves' its mental representation of itself, but never quite makes it (as is to be expected). The philosophy of nature is yet another fascinating aspect of the system we'll have to skip for now. 

    These abortive and self-refining attempts eventually lead, through an evolutiomary chain, to the human being, whose reasoning faculties allow it to trace back the history of self-consciousness by philosophizing. In other words, what we did just now.

    Turns out, this strategy doesn't work either. Recapitulating the history of self-consciousness is fine and all, but we started by wanting to sense thinking as a productivity. Philosophy responds 'sure, all you have to do is perform this roundabout feat of mental gymnastics, step after step after step, and you'll get to it for sure!'.
    Riddle: can you be unconscious of having produced some part of your experience? Because this is the number one thing L. Peikoff will bring up when arguing for physicalism. He'll say that you can't control the features of your own consciousness. Then he'll conflate 'consciousness has identity' with physicalism. A possible alternative has been provided by the previous deduction, but we want something more concrete.

    Solution: Consciously produce something you don't recognize as your own.

    This solution turns to Kant's aesthetic theory, specifically his treatment of artistic genius. There's plenty of artists with baffling craftsmanship, but no poetry. And just as many artists with splendid sense but no skill. The genius is one for whom nature was so generous as to provide him/her with both.

    During the creation of a painting, a play, or even a whole mythology (as civilizations do), things go haywire and the artwork is infused with a kind of wisdom that the artist clealry doesn't possess. The kind of wisdom that applies universally to all epochs. The artist is not the author, and yet he is. Sounds familiar?

    Nature doesn't care whether its channel of expression - the artist - even knows what the hell his painting means. That painting is an instance of Nature being driven by its frustration to properly represent itself as a productivity, and not as a product - the same frustration that caused all of its other attempts. It finally succeeds within the world of art, because in an artwork, the unconscious wisdom that makes a clandestine appearance alongside the consciously executed parts is a document that attests for a Nature that produces on and on and on, without conscious awareness of doing so. 

    This is the conclusion of the system. Since consciousness, through man, is finally able to grasp its nature as an unceasing productivity, the dialectic tensions come to a halt and 'infinite satisfaction' is achieved. It's no coincidence that Beauty is defined as a sense of harmony. Ayn Rand seems to agree.


  16. 2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

    I'm not able to get that document but I have some understanding. Adjusting your degree of mental focus is different than focus, or is it the same?

    Essentialy, certain things require more attention/effort to fully grasp than others. In such a situation, you can choose to 'work' in order to arrive at a clear understanding, or you can choose not to. As per Rand, this is the basic choice inasmuch as it affects all other choices. Put differently, you're choosing the quality of your choices.


    In theory, if I have no volition, I am interested in X but my mind's eye goes to something that is not interesting.

    You seem to have your own view of what volition is. In O'ist theory, volition is not the 'freedom' to put your attention on whatever you find interesting. Quite the contrary, it's the ability to second-guess what you happen to find interesting, and act accordingly.

    2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

    how do you distinguish consciousness from existence?

    'Existence' in O'ism designates the totality of everything that is - consciousness, trees, chocolate milkshakes and whatever else.

    Consciousness is distinguished from its absence, as well as from anything that is not an instance of conscious experience.

    If you're an idealist, grasping yourself is held to require a grasp of what you are not, hence those two are never apart in the act of self-knowledge.

  17. 4 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

    I need to modify my statement.

    Subconscious processes are related to intelligence.  But automatic body processes carried on without using consciousness or its creations, such as healing or digestion, do not involve intelligence, although we might still use the word "intelligence" metaphorically.


    1. Intelligence is 'a process carried on using consciousness'
    2. Body processes are not carried on using consciousness
    3. Therefore body processes are not intelligent. Q.E.D

    Except it's precisely the first premise that's been called into question in this thread, i.e. that intelligent acts are always performed with consciousness. Counter-examples have been provided: your mind comming up with solutions to problems when you're not consciously thinking about those problems; and certain literary pieces being produced in a 'blind-trance', surprising the writer as they come.

    You've simply sidestepped that part, asserted your view of intelligence with no justification/evidence, then made a blatantly obvious logical deduction based on it.

  18. 31 minutes ago, tadmjones said:

    How do we describe information conveyance between non-conscious entities

    This depends on whether all non-conscious entities convey information in the same manner, or if there are differences between them in this regard.

    Note that the body tissue responsible for the subconscious mind might also interact with other non-conscious entities in the body.

    If talking specifically about subconscious processes, then I do not consider the process of spitting out an Atlas scene the same as:

    31 minutes ago, tadmjones said:

    the skin cells are 'programmed' to grow until they encounter another like cell .

  19. 1 hour ago, Doug Morris said:

    Subconscious processes are related to intelligence.  But automatic body processes carried on without using consciousness, such as healing or digestion, do not involve intelligence, although we might still use the word "intelligence" metaphorically.

    Let's start by accepting this premise, that automatic body processes, carried on without consciousness, do not involve intelligence.

    The thing is, subconscious processes qualify as both 1) automatic body processes, and 2) carried on without consciousness (the sub in 'subconscious' is there precisely to indicate that the process is outside of conscious awareness).

    If you take this in account, then

    1 hour ago, Doug Morris said:

    Subconscious processes are related to intelligence

    does not hold true under your own premise. 

    You can indirectly control the subconscious mind, e.g. give it a problem to solve and the solution might 'pop' in your conscious awareness later. But you can also indirectly control other automatic body processes, such as your heartbeat. Just imagine a stressful situation and you'll notice that your heart speeds up.

    You can argue that the conscious mind is like a CEO who delegates lots of complex tasks to his employee, Mr. Subconscious. The boss can then revise the employee's work, but claiming that the employee did not use intelligence to complete his work seems to contradict the results.

  20. 1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

    Exactly, and to ascribe causality or volition to identity is arbitrary

    (In O'ism) causality means: the way a thing behaves is an aspect of what that thing is like. To illustrate this in the case of volition:

    Identity -> the nervous system
    Causality -> the nervous system is configured in a way that allows for self-regulation
    Volition -> self-regulation is currently in use

    'Identity' covers everything about the nervous system; 'causality' covers only one thing: that you can trace its behaviour back to its features.

    Put differently, causality is to identity as 'jumping' is to kangaroos. There is no case where you are not 'ascribing' causality to identity, since causality is simply a narrow statement about identity.

    2 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

    For psychological healing or poetic expression one may do something like that but in terms of exploring the truth, it's a poetic addition that is unnecessary.

    Ascribing 'sober dryness' to truth is only proper if you've already bought into the premise that the way things actually are is not exciting, beautiful, cool etc.

    Sure, if no human existed to evaluate an apple in relation to his goal of survival, then there would be no such thing as 'healthy', 'pleasant' etc. But introduce humans into the picture and things change. Now in addition to the fact that nature just is, there are additional facts such as 'nature is a nice/horrible place to be in - for humans'.

    Value-judgements such as poetic and beautiful are not just BS imposed on the 'just-isness' of nature. Value-judgements identify true facts regarding a thing's effect on your survival.

    For Rand, the two most basic value-judgemets for humans are: 'the world is good/bad', and 'I am good/bad'. The first, she called the benevolent/malevolent universe premise; the second, 'self-esteem' (I am capable or incapable to live in the universe).

  21. About inspired writing sessions, Rand said:


    You come to a scene and you feel as if somebody else is dictating it; you do not know what is coming, it is surprising you as it comes, you write almost in a blind trance—and afterward, when you reread it, it is almost perfect. You might need to change a few words, but the essence of the scene is there.

    (Art of Fiction, ch. 1)

    The credit for the 'almost perfect' scene obviously goes to intelligence, yet here she puts some stress on: not knowing what's coming; being surprised as it comes; feeling as if somebody else is dictating the text; and some 'blindness' being at play. This is not too far removed from what the Romantics referred to as an unconscious intelligence in the human psyche and in other organisms.

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