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Everything posted by MEADE

  1. Here is a brief answer for now, and I'll get one for your post in my intro a bit later (that will not be brief). Its finals for me so my responses might be a bit slow over next 2 weeks. Consider this; Note that in my quote I used the words "repeatedly, purely and overwhelmingly" Case 1- I have only seen one white swan in my life. Case 2- I have seen too many white swans to count, over the course of my life, and never a black, and have no reason to believe one would be white; since I have observed many other similar species (repeatedly and overwhelmingly) that only appear in one color. Are you saying that I have no more rational basis to be certain that all swans are white, in case 1 than in case 2? if so we can debate this. I think I can be more clear about something, though. Specifically, the probability is the probability that you are wrong. Assume that swans can be black or white, and have equal probability of being one or the other. Then from this fact I can conclude that if I observe a certain large number of swans I will observe a black and a white one (there is a mathematical theorem that proves this, the law of large numbers). This is the same as saying, If I toss a coin long enough I will see a head and a tails. It is possible that I see all heads, but the chances are astronomical (99.999999....). In case 1 I don't have sufficient reason, by virtue of a statistical argument, to argue that all swans are white. Only with the overwhelming case 2 do I have sufficient reason.
  2. I enjoyed the film. The plot I thought was existent, but perhaps could have been more well defined. That sometimes happens when a movie is made from a book. There was a conflict between duty and personal will I thought. Lucky Jack was taking a personal initiative, exceeding his orders by hunting the Acheron. Matterin accuses him of this (he "smacks of pride"), but Matterin was also taking his own personal initiative when he explored the island. And in the end, both of their initiatives worked to generate their victory. Their duty is fullfilled, but not because they blindly followed it. So it presents a harmony between personal intiative and duty, with personal initiative as the more powerful force. And, their duty is justified rationally as the defense of their home. A harmony is also achieved between the conflicting interests of Matterin and Jack, symbolized in a poetic way when they play music together.
  3. Andrew, it was called the Dark Ages for a reason. Why do you think the Victorians had no written records of this period of history? Our quality of life in this current "Age of Irrationality" is significantly higher than even a king would have enjoyed during those times. But if you really think that life was better then, I might suggest that you join an agrarian society. There are still some of them left! Try Africa, I think its your best bet. You don't seem to be happy here. Why do you think the Victorians had no written records of this period of history? I'll tell you what a medieval student of philosophy would think if he was transported here. He would think he was in Heaven. RedCap: The first thought I had when I read your question, was about the need I would have to communicate some of my scientific knowledge, and how I would go about it.
  4. Shrodingers cat is a thought experiment. A similar sort of strangeness does occur at the quantum level, but quantum states break down in any structure bigger than a molecule, and the idea of a cat being in a quantum state is just silly. And consciousness does not have the power to change any quantum states, its the other way around- quantum states must resolve before we can sense them. Also the idea that because something is a "duality" that means it contradicts the law of identity is rather absurd. Its only that an energy state has different aspects, and we're not smart enough to understand them yet without confusing our English. Like I said, the one thing I must accept about quantum theory is the efficiency of its equations, not the power of its advocates to explain reality. ibridges didn't answer my question
  5. Ibridges, you seem to be at cross purposes. Are you arguing about Objectivism being alive, or about Quantum Mechanics? The issue here concerns A=A, since this is the only part of Objectivism that Quantum Mechanics can possibly contradict. Your first argument about A=A is Heraclitean and you should admit that. A=A can't be elaborated upon or mature in any way, its the very base of knowledge. So RedCap was right to question you here. I have taken some basic courses in Physics, and I'm familiar with diffraction patterns. However, I have no trouble reconciling the law of identity with the physics. Perhaps you could explain your troubles more specifically?. I view some of the explanations of Q.M. with skepticism, notably the uncertainty principle and Shrodingers cat. I think that the idea of a particle as a wave of probability is the best so far. But I trust the mathematical formulas, they are really the core of this theory. This is probably because the science was partially created by several different mathematicians. What the experiments seem to say, irrefutably, is that a particle behaves as a probability wave, cancelling with other particles. This is plausable if you consider that a particle is really a state of energy. But perhaps scientists and philosophers misunderstand each other here... there is no reason to assume this contradicts A=A. Let me be clear: A=A is not merely a definition of the equals sign. It is a definition and base of our knowledge. Q. M. may shake up our idea of reality on a fundamental level, but nevertheless - we still say that the state of energy exists, whatever form it takes- whether it be wave or particle.
  6. Perhaps that sentence was poorly worded, AshRyan. I was meaning to say that certainty can be achieved by observing an overwhelming majority of events. So it isn't strictly a function of probability, but certainty can be a function of probability. Probability is observed hits/total observations. As in the infant, who reaches certainty by observing independent existence repeatedly, purely, and overwhelmingly. Scientific theories have this nature, their proof is that they accurately and consistently predict phenomenon to a certain degree. After reviewing these posts, I gather that the only meaningful way this question can be interpreted is that it concerns practical applications of knowledge, namely how cautious we could be about our own certainty (ascertaining the context of the knowledge, rejecting arbitrary claims). Everyone here agrees that certain things cannot possibly be wrong in any universe, such as mathematical facts, existence exists, time flows, sense data, etc. Also, the question of whether our senses are globally being decieved, as in an experience machine, is meaningless to us, since it is rather useless to consider that possibility (except if you're in Hollywood). I thought that the idea of probability would be helpful to consider, because it concerns situations where falsity may possibly exist and how these situations may be translated into certainty.
  7. Please clarify and give examples, RedCap. Its not good manners to so viciously denounce a man without evidence. Or perhaps your basis of truth is social agreement, thus the appeal to your buddies (is it just me?). What assumptions? What failed logical connections? AshRyan asked what my basis in sense perception was. It wasn't a very specific question, because the sensual evidence spans my entire lifetime. I elaborated to argue that my assertions were true. 1 comes before 2. A universe containing one element is an undifferentiated whole. Complex objects are made of simpler ones. This is really trivial stuff. Perhaps it seems that I am not making logical connections because you are unconsciously refusing (i hope) to make them yourself. As with AshRyan, I am fully prepared to admit I am wrong if you show me to be. Of course, that is impossible if you already assume I can't understand what you say or i'm not worth the effort, but in that case please note that I am at least paying you that respect. And I might ask you (as I asked Ash) to express your own assumptions and given comparable evidence for them.
  8. first of all I apologize for my bad decorum. I know you gotta be tough on the newbs though. That last quote was from Hume, since I was Hume's ghost, and I was haunting AshRyan. Here is my clarification, RedCap. Usually people discover this by a negative process where they find their theory has internal inconsistencies, and they know they must be missing some of the picture. RbUoUF always implies that one's current knowledge is flawed, that something you see is not what it seems. Because the truth exists, your knowledge is compared as a subtraction from a hypothetical truth-world, where everything is known, and can be more or less consistent with it. There is no way of knowing that RbUoUf don't exist in some cases, except perhaps if you possess divine knowledge. The implied meaning of my quotes above is that certainty itself is a function of probability. Probabilities can be expressed as ratios 1/x, so when they multiply each other, 1/(x*x) an event becomes less probable at an exponential rate (in a court case, if the suspect is to be tried by circumstantial evidence, mulitiple proven evidences are required). In reality, we are faced with a multitude of probabilities multiplying each other to argue that our senses are correct, say 99.999999999% of the time. So we approximate and say this is equal to 1, and you probably won't be proven wrong, and its irrational to assume the opposite when the probability is so overwhelming. (in the case that your senses are being fooled by an intelligent force, and in that case its not even your fault). If you choose the .0000000001%, then you are right approximately 0% percent of the time. We can assume the full probability for things implicit in our very existence, such as 1 + 0 = 1, because probability is a measure of what may exist, and if you ask what the probability is of something currently existing to exist then it always comes to be 1. This method is insufficient to determine all truth since new conditions are always being created and the past cannot fully contain the future. I think thats partly why science is so successful, because a good scientist assumes his theory is guilty until proven correct. If its not proven, its a hypothesis. Its called the critical method. The greater the degree to which you check yourself for error and scrupulously base your evidence on reality, the more rights you have to say that the probability of your truth is significantly deeper than in another theory. The theory is proven by multiple and self-reinforcing coincidences. We are human beings, and not gods, so we don't have perfect and complete knowledge given to us. We discover it by painful effort. Our brains were designed by evolution mostly to make tools and manipulate static matter, so we have to overcome many arbitrary distortions. We thought the earth was flat, because the caveman has no evolutionary need to think otherwise. So, the best way for us to gain knowledge is to maintain a healthy balance between self-doubt (to prevent errors from multiplying) and certainty (to multiply the truths). If we automatically assumed everything was correct for the most part, than we might still be in the stone age. Its hard to imagine evolution without natural selection. I agree with AshRyan that the definition of knowledge implies certainty. Its true that at one point in time I can say that a person has knowledge of a certain state, and then later it can be proven false. In retrospect, I was in error when I assumed the person had knowledge of that state. I define knowledge as an inner state which corresponds to reality.
  9. I ask you this, did the word really have that connotation within my context, or did you perhaps translate it to have that connotation? Perhaps I should have anticipated such an interpretation. Perhaps you should just have said that you don't believe they have any basis in sense perception. Such an interpretation is understandable, and I am obliged to defend my somewhat peculiar assumptions, as you demand of me. I might also add that I take any evidence of my senses into account (except for when I have reason to believe they are being decieved) and I always find I can reconcile them with these ideas. Let me explain briefly why I take the 1 to be ontologically primordial to the 2: 2 = 1+1. It means that I can rationally posit a one without positing a two: but the opposite is impossible. i can say: 2 exists -> 1 exists because a 2 defined as an abstraction of 2 observed objects, each is a unit. but the converse is not true: 1 exists -> 2 exists because I would need 2 or more simultaneous instances of 1. So therefore in any universe where a 1 and a 2 exist, then logically the 2 must have been made from the one, and time must have coexisted with the one(or else the state of existence could not change). Now let there exist time, and let there exist 1 (this is like saying there's only one object in the universe). Then the universe has 2 aspects, and I contradict myself (or if you like, how could time pass without difference?). so it must be true that time = 1 (or the 1 is just another way of thinking about time- which is understandable considering its the most basic thing in the universe). Think about it: all objects except for a purely undifferentiated universe are made of simpler objects. Why? Objects are in fact equivalent to motions (E=mc2). The creation of a complex object requires simpler parts that are recombined in a novel way. Any complex object will involve difference. Unless you say the object is eternal and transcendent, it must have been made from simpler parts. Aristotle thought about this too, thats why temporal ideas such as the original cause are so prominent in his work. think of any great discovery, calculus for example. Careful analysis will reveal that the discovery is great because it constitutes a fuller understanding of time (more and more purely as the subject matter becomes basic), the original element of the universe. Consider Platonism. Plato is my arch enemy, because his entire philosophy rests on the principle that time is an illusion. His philosophy was ghastly wrong because it posited complex forms outside of time. Its a pure negation of reality. Its like chopping up a body and putting the pieces on display, and saying each piece existed before the body did. I'm not trying to undermine reality, just trying to purify it. Though its true we don't step in the same river twice (in a sense), that doesn't give us sanction to believe the river does not exist, because time is the ultimate measure of reality, the definition of existence. Good job unmasking The Ghost of David Hume, hopefully he won't be haunting you anymore. Its all in good fun.
  10. Hey AshRyan I'm curious to know what your views ultimately rest on if they're facts? Perhaps you misunderstand me? Try looking up assume in the dictionary. The fifth or sixth definition is " to take for granted, suppose". I can safely assume any fact, and that says nothing about whether it is a fact or not. I can safely assume that 2+2 =4. This is what I meant. In as logical system, you always proceed from axioms and deduce conclusions. The only ultimate source of your axioms is your senses, and you assume them to be true. Whats the proof for your senses? There is none, because your senses are the standard for proof. I realize that my Ideas may be strange to you (as many people think of yours), but I give you my word (and anyone else) that I will rationally consider anything you have to say and admit it if you ever SHOW me to be false. I only ask that you don't ASSUME you can predict me.
  11. Hi I'm an undergraduate attending Universtity of Toronto but I'm from New York. I wouldn't call myself an Objectivist, but I share many Objectivist views (minimal government, atheism, raw hatred for hippies and environmentalism, existence exists, etc.), most of which were formed before I really became familiar with Ayn Rand's works (only a couple months ago). Im not an Objectivist because I view it as an incomplete philosophical system, but I believe its a good approximation of one. Furthermore I think we can mutually benefit from trading ideas. And, I find Rand's work to be refreshing considering its accessibility versus the mass of modern philosophical garbage I have unfortunately witnessed firsthand(I attended art school for a while). If any of you are good Objectivists and wish to debate me on whether Objectivism is a closed system, that would be interesting- but really I'm looking for some pure philosophical discussion, especially metaphysics, religion, human destiny, art, mathematics. Some philosophers/artists I respect: Aristotle, Newton, Gadamer, Bergson, Popper/Poussin, Redon, Turner, Renoir, Rubens. philosophers/artists I hate: Plato, Kant, Marx, Hegel, Nietzsche, Derrida, Wittgenstein/Marcel Duchamp, Pollack, Dali, Picasso, post-Marcel Duchamp(with few exceptions). My own views are based on these assumptions (in a nutshell): the utimate basis of reality is time(defined as pure change). time is indistinguishable from the mathematical one. and from that: complexity cannot be posited independent of time. (2 presupposes 1) so I agree with Aristotle in the necessity of an original cause. And then from that- reality is one, the ultimate value is the future, reason is the ability to control the future and comprehend time, temporal definitions are always the most basic and accurate, Being is only time in disguise (first cause). Actions speak louder than words.
  12. Moral judgment for real events can only be applied to choices that result in those events, and choosing to think about something evil is morally questionable but not as bad as actually choosing to do the thing. Humans are not perfect, and we all have times when our conscience must step in an remind us of morality, and that doesn't change the preexisting thoughts, only our choice to respond to them. If you catch a person in the act of murder and save the victim, then the person is still guilty of an intent to kill but the moral consequence is not so severe because there is less injustice to correct. If a man is brainwashed to think and do evil then the actions such a person takes are not his own choice, because he did not choose to be brainwashed, and he is not morally guilty of them. If there was a way to monitor inner thoughts, then would it be right to punish people if you monitored constant thoughts of child molestation in their brain, and even an intention to commit the act? do children have rights not to be thought of in a sexual way by adults? If so, then that would give me sanction to monitor men's minds in order to guarantee this right is not violated.
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