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Everything posted by intrinsicist

  1. In a proper limited government people join in voluntarily. It's a voluntary contract that one joins in on to institute a single governmental institution. People are free to leave at any time, and start their own agency of force elsewhere, so there is no violation of the non-aggression principle.
  2. I mean, isn't that just a restatement of our differing positions on metaphysics? I made an argument for why my metaphysics is better, but I don't feel like it's been understood or responded to. So I don't see that we've made any progress at all yet.
  3. I don't think I'm stating anything abnormally. What other philosophers have you read on the subject?
  4. I would say it rather the other way around. I can relate, different metaphysical views are extremely difficult to communicate about the first time you encounter them, I think because really everything is defined in terms of metaphysics, and so it becomes very hard to make sense of the language when discussing between different viewpoints. I probably should have taken an extremist approach on the difficulty of communicating about metaphysics to begin with, but that is tedious to do, and I am just writing in plain English, which should be able to be understood with some reading comprehension, at least in principle.
  5. I've tried to describe the difference between metaphysical essence vs. no metaphysical essence in my original post (in the "epistemic universals" section, the "winged things" discussion, etc). If there are metaphysical essences, then we can say something like there is a principle of uniformity regarding instances of that kind, valid universal inferences are justifiable, etc. There is something in reality which makes things hold true about instances of that kind. I wouldn't describe a thing's nature as a "characteristic" of the thing. A characteristic is some aspect of a thing, like its size or color. Its nature is like its abstract definition (which includes characteristics).
  6. Yes. We don't have automatic knowledge about reality. We have to acquire it through sense perception (for concretes) and through concept formation (for universals). Sure, one engages in mental action (the process of concept formation) in order to unite one's perceptions under a concept United where? In your mind, no. You need to do the mental work to identify the unity. In reality, yes. The apples are already united as units of a kind (the universal apple).
  7. Yeah of course. That's what I'm arguing against. Curious for your response.
  8. Also @Eiuol I've already responded to you previously on this issue...
  9. Check the quotes at the top of the thread. I'm just stating Rand's position. I'm not stating anything controversial here. I don't know why this is confusing. If you are saying that, "if something exists in reality, then it cannot be an abstraction", well that is the standard Objectivist position, and that is what I am arguing against. Not sure if that helps clarify. This thread is an argument about metaphysics. I have raised no issue with the epistemology.
  10. This sounds like you're trying to argue for Aristotelianism vs. Platonism. But Rand is neither. Her position is that abstractions (e.g. the "manness" in man), do not exist, full stop. There is no such thing metaphysically, abstractions are purely epistemological. This is just the standard Objectivist position. I'm not sure why you are explaining that here.
  11. intrinsicist

    On Suicide

    https://activeobjectivism.com/2020/12/05/on-suicide/ Peikoff’s argument is a proof by contradiction: since you are already pre-committed to remaining in reality in the very act of debating the issue, any conclusion which denies that premise is self-contradictory. Since choosing to die implies a contradiction, it cannot be rationally justified, and therefore cannot be morally justified. No one can exit the realm of morality guiltlessly.1 Peikoff unfortunately continues from this point to argue in favor of suicide: On the one hand he says the commitment to life is axiomatic, and that there is no justifiable basis for questioning it, and on the other hand that suicide is justified if one’s condition is hopeless. I submit that this is a contradiction. This defense of suicide is inconsistent with the basic moral premises of the philosophy. The mistake here is derivative, not fundamental. The philosophy as a whole is sound, but the position on suicide is not. To deal with his position as charitably as possible: his justification is reminiscent of Rand’s “Inexplicable Personal Alchemy”, where she values one’s “metaphysical self-preservation” over and above one’s “physical preservation”, and she argues for keeping one’s integrity and one’s metaphysical view of reality intact, regardless of the consequences, even if it leads to one’s death. Rand’s argument is not to violate one’s moral code, to not collaborate with an enemy or play their game. I wholeheartedly agree, in circumstances where one faces such a choice, one should not for example steal from another in order to live, or in her example, that one should not give up the names of one’s allies in the face of torture or a firing squad, in the name of integrity, in the name of the best in man and addressing his essential nature, even when he has become a monster. But this doesn’t justify taking one’s own life. That is an act compromising one’s own moral integrity, and it is not a noble crying out in the name of a benevolent metaphysical view of man and reality, but rather a tortured cry of one who has accepted a malevolent metaphysical view of man and reality, and refuses to go on in that world2. So indeed the act of suicide has exactly the opposite nature as what he tries to attribute to it. Suicide is not an “affirmation of life” Consider Roark, for whom suffering “only goes down to a certain point”. Because he can create, because he can achieve positive values, nothing else can seem very important, and ultimately, “it’s not really pain”. Or consider Dagny: she did not believe in suffering. She would not allow pain to become important. She knew that “it does not count – it is not to be taken seriously” – “even in the moments when there was nothing left within her but screaming and she wished she could lose the faculty of consciousness”. As John Galt said, “I know the unimportance of suffering, I know that pain is to be fought and thrown aside, not to be accepted as part of one’s soul and as a permanent scar across one’s view of existence.” We exist for earning rewards. That is what motivates us, that is why we act – not for escaping pain. Pain is not going to make us function; it is not an incentive that gives us fuel. To commit suicide, purely for the sake of escaping pain – so far from being an affirmation of what life ought to be, it would be a declaration that suffering is necessarily a part of life, that it is important and that it does matter. It is the rejection of the belief that “suffering is unimportant, and is only to be fought and thrown aside and not accepted as a meaningful part of one’s view of existence”. To affirm life is to continue to seek happiness despite the tragedy and hopelessness of the situation. One cannot affirm one’s life by destroying it. In Peikoff’s own words: That is an affirmation of life. Positive values are possible despite suffering In psychology there is a concept known as resilience. Resilience is the ability to adjust one’s expectations and one’s goals according to one’s circumstances – even in the face of a dramatic change of one’s circumstances, as in the case of devastating loss or extreme suffering (or to use Peikoff’s examples, in the case of a painful terminal illness, or being a prisoner in a concentration camp where one can see no chance of escape). It is the ability to stay optimistic and look on the positive side – to seek and to find good things that are within one’s range. Consider the findings of a recent study: “Locked-in patients trapped inside their paralyzed bodies have told doctors they are ‘happy’ using an astonishing new brain computer interface which deciphers their thoughts… On seven out of 10 occasions the patients said they were happy despite their utterly debilitating condition”. Or consider the case of Christopher Reeves, as Louie describes: If Reeves committed suicide he would have achieved less than he was capable of – it would have been self-sacrificial. And yet if Reeves held himself to the same standard of being an able-bodied Superman actor, something more than that of which he was capable, he would have achieved nothing but failure – and still would not have achieved the things he could have, which would be equally self-destructive and self-sacrificial. So the fault with a former athlete or actor, for example, who decides to commit suicide because they can no longer pursue their previous career, is that they lack resilience (the movie “Me Before You” dramatizes exactly this issue). Even in pain and suffering one can love life, and realize that it is priceless opportunity that one should get the most out of that one can before it is gone. Note that she said “I love life in spite of them all” – she loves the positives in life in spite of the negatives. What these people are reporting, and others can personally corroborate, is that pain and pleasure are not mutually exclusive values on a single continuum. One can be in pain, and yet feel pleasure. One can be suffering, but happy. They are independent variables. Every positive thing one can experience, from the simplest joy of opening one’s eyes and enjoying the view, is still a positive, despite any level of suffering that is happening at the time. The pain cannot take that positive away. Joy is not “the absence of pain”. Such positive values do exist for anyone who is conscious at all. As I quoted from Eioul, “only a real nihilist may say existing at all is an excruciating horror.” You exist for the sake of enjoying those values, and every action you take should be for the sake of that end. Reducing suffering is a means to an end There is always room for rational risk-taking as a means to pursue one’s values, even significant risks. Risking one’s life in a military context, for example, is the defense of one’s life, it is the pursuit of life and the pursuit of happiness. It is exactly the opposite of making a deliberate choice to die. An irrational risk is a tradeoff in which the reward, in terms of one’s life and happiness, is less than what one is risking. In the case of suicide, one is sacrificing one’s life and happiness entirely – there is no tradeoff at all there! A soldier is risking his life for the sake of his quest to pursue life and happiness. Suicide does not serve such a quest. And this is not to say that pain is a good thing, either; pain is a miserable evil that ought to be fought. Pain and suffering are terrible afflictions, and if someone you loved were suffering, you would want to do everything you can to help them find relief. Pain medication is a good thing. Even if one wanted to risk one’s life with a dangerously high dosage it can be worth it. Pain interferes with one’s thinking, one’s values, and one’s actions. A person in tremendous pain can and sometimes should take a dangerous risk with pain medication in order to bring themselves to a more functional level, and it would be right to assist them in doing so. There is always room for rational risk-taking, even significant risks like in military contexts, or in this case taking high doses of pain medication. There is a risk, but it is a rational risk taken for the sake of a reward; it is ultimately for the sake of life and happiness. The pursuit of eliminating suffering is a good up until the point that it becomes an absurdity: where you are sacrificing your ultimate value – your life – for a lesser value: the relief of suffering. That is not a moral choice. *** 1) Gotthelf, “The Choice to Value,” p. 44 2)
  12. @Eiuolis there any argument to which I have not responded ? Do you have an answer to any of my arguments? Is there something in particular for which you need more clarity or precision?
  13. The reductionistic materialist model says metaphysical reality and causal efficacy exists only at the level of fundamental particles, it cannot "emerge" through composition. This would be a contradiction, only be an illusion produced by the composition of particles (again, see Conway's game of life). To make the claim that higher level objects have identity and causal efficacy of their own, "emergence" from composition is not enough. Either some additional foreign element would have to be added, which cannot itself be again merely more compositions of particles but must be some fundamental particle or element which can account fully for the distinctive identity and causal efficacy, or we have to deny that the fundamental particles we are composing have simple identities with simple, universal mathematical rules which govern them. In my opinion it makes more sense to go with the latter, we have no evidence of any additional physical particles beyond those catelogued by science, and we do have evidence that these particles have different behavior under different conditions (as in the double split experiment). If anyone is knowledgable about quantum physics I would be very interested in pursuing this theory further with them. Unfortunately I have not had the chance to study the subject deeply as of yet.
  14. I never understood the desire to predicate location of abstractions. If you wanted to be poetical about it you could say they are "ideas in the mind of God". But to put it another way, they are inherent in the nature of reality itself, all the way down at the lowest level. For example a materialist might say, at the lowest possible level, what the nature of reality defines is the simple, universal, mathematical laws of the fundamental particles in physics, and everything else we see around us is composed of these particles carrying out their basic behaviors (a la Conway's game of life). To avoid this reductionist materialism (and the logically incoherent absurdities it implies), and without introducing a magical element of "emergence" which accounts for the metaphysical existence and causal efficacy of the objects we see around us, then we must posit these natures as inherent in reality at the lowest possible level, that what is there a priori are not mathematically simple, universal laws of fundamental particles, but the nature of every universal that has metaphysical existence and causal efficacy. If you take gravity for instance, "where" is it located? Well it's just inherent in the nature of reality, it's all throughout. If you want to identify where gravity is active/instantiated, the answer is "in bodies of mass". Likewise with hammer, it's nature is inherent in the nature of reality itself, it is throughout, and where it is active/instantiated is in actual hammers.
  15. https://activeobjectivism.com/2020/11/24/the-argument-for-metaphysical-universals/ - Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (bold emphasis mine) “Epistemic universals” Rand denies metaphysical universals quite explicitly, as quoted above. She believes everything in reality is concrete and particular, that there is in reality no “manness” in man which applies universally for all men at all times, but rather the concept “man” is merely man’s way of organizing the concretes seen around him into a mental grouping. “The metaphysical referent of man’s concepts is … the facts of reality he has observed.” If one holds that concepts are only “universal” over the total set of of one’s prior, concrete observations, then this is not the universal set! This isn’t guaranteed by any metaphysical principle to hold at all times and for all instances in reality. Concepts in this view aren’t describing something that holds abstractly in reality, they are just describing something that holds abstractly over the particular, delimited set of observations which one has accumulated thus far. If “universals” are merely referring to sets of observed particulars, then one cannot interpret anything observed, predict the future, or classify anything new, when nothing in general about reality can be referred to. The “man” classified today might have nothing to do with the next “man” observed. The ball observed in one moment tells one nothing about what might be observed in the next moment. Any particular, any moment yet to be observed, nothing can be said about it, because the classifications are all retrospective, they only refer to the particulars already observed. The “epistemic universal” of “length” one invents today can say nothing about the “length” observed tomorrow, because no necessary connection is being induced, nothing general about reality itself, it is just the cataloging of regularities in experience. They are just retrospective statistical observations – the moment one starts talking about length – every property of length in all places and all times – then one is talking about a universal property out in reality, a metaphysical universal, which is exactly what has been rejected. No inference can be extended to particulars outside of the cherry-picked set of concretes previously observed. If a concept “stands for” an unlimited range of things abstractly, but concretely it only refers to some particular set of items already identified, then there is no way to know if the abstraction actually does apply to the full range of things that it stands for. One can define a category of “winged things” which is open-ended, and therefore includes all winged things yet to be observed. Obviously any new instance added to the set will have wings, but nothing else can be said of it besides that. Without such a thing as a natural class, then what is formed is merely a nominal category, in other words the category is merely analytical, and the only thing that can be inferred from classifying something as a “winged thing” is that it has wings. Which is of course useless. If there is no natural kind backing the concept, then there’s no justification for inferring anything beyond what has already been defined. If on the other hand concepts are identifying a natural kind, then there’s a necessary connection between all particulars in the set, from which one can justifiably infer things like “any new particulars added to the set will behave as the rest of the set”. If one holds that “any new particulars added to the set will behave as the rest of the set”, then one is apparently identifying a universal in reality. It functions as a universal, and abstractly identifies something in reality that is timeless and essential, something where instances at all times and in all cases will behave in that same way. If an abstraction is be extended across all instances at all times, and out into reality (in the sense that it will predict the future behavior of things in reality), then the abstraction is something that is metaphysical and universal. A nominalist is someone who rejects that any such thing is metaphysically possible or epistemologically justifiable. Universals which “hold true” but do not “exist” Rand believes everything in reality is concrete, that, in reality, there is “no such thing” as the universal “manness” which ties together all concrete men, at all times and in all places. This “manness” is rather our organization of concrete men. She claims that, by properly organizing concrete men, one can thus arrive at a universal “manness” which will hold true for all concrete men, at all times and in all places. So does the universal does exist mentally but not in reality? Does it “hold true” in reality, and just doesn’t “exist” in reality? There is this odd reluctance to grant the existence of something “in reality”. Dual aspect metaphysics grants this idea of an “abstract reality”. Some abstraction which holds true in reality, therefore is real. It gives a kind of reifying existence and power to the abstraction, the abstraction is what is metaphysically making it hold true, as opposed to something else making it hold true and the abstraction merely epistemologically “recognizing” that the truth is holding, presumably for some other reason. It’s kind of an odd question- what is the real thing which is making this universal hold true? There must be something with the force of reality which is making this truth hold- what is that force? Where does that force come from? Rand asserts that there are no abstractions with this power: only concretes are “really real”. But even some given concrete has to have some abstract nature. Is the material of the concrete supposed to be powering the nature of the concrete? It doesn’t really make any sense when thought about clearly. Only the dual aspect perspective, a la Aristotle’s hylomorphic compounds, actually makes any sense. Apparently Rand’s perspective is that one cannot say why, but things just “happen” to work universally. That’s just the way the concretes behave- but they don’t behave that way because of some abstract principle of their nature. That form or principle is just a “way man describes” what matter is doing, it only exists in the mind, not in reality itself. It is bizarre to say that and also hold that induction is possible, as in McCaskey’s article, where he insists that it is possible to have 100% certainty about regularities despite there being no principle of uniformity. How can one have 100% certainty that a regularity will hold, if one denies the reality of some principle to it? There is no way to make a valid inference from any number of observations of a behavior to a universal rule of the behavior. What is to say it won’t change, if it is not a real aspect of the thing’s nature? McCaskey for example claims: “If you have good guidelines and follow them, you can be certain that someone absolutely cannot contract cholera unless exposed to the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, certain that all men are mortal, certain that the angles of all planar triangles sum to 180°, and certain that 2+3=5.” Well no, under this system, none of these is certain. No conclusion science has ever achieved can be described as true, or knowledge, or certain. They simply happen to be true under the concretes previously observed, and one predicts it will continue to be so. Yes, even with math. Is it certain that 2+3=5? At all times and in all places, universally? How? That may have held up under previous observations, and one may predict that it will continue under similar circumstances, but all of one’s predictions are unjustified and unreliable; one hasn’t observed every single instance that has ever occurred. From the article: “It’s not that you must presume uniformity in order to classify. It’s that you classify to find uniformities.” The whole problem with this is that one hasn’t “found” any more uniformity than one had to begin with! One is left in exactly the same position as he agreed with earlier in the article: “The Scholastics lamented (rightly) that unless you had surveyed all magnets or all animals, the inference was not certain” “Certainty” without proof A fall back here is to argue that concepts are not universal, but that one can still have a kind of “certainty” which could be mistaken, that it is still “knowledge” which one can hold beyond a reasonable doubt. If something hasn’t been proven to be true then there is a reasonable doubt that it could be different at some other time or place. After all, it has been asserted that one cannot make justifiable claims for something at all times and all places. If one is making a universal claim about something at all times and all places, and holds that such claims are invalid, cannot be justified, then how in the world can one feel certainty about them? It has been asserted that one can’t hold such general claims as true, certain, knowledge. Universal claims are either justified or unjustified. One must choose. If they are unjustified then one cannot claim “certainty” and “the impossibility of doubt”. If universal claims are justifiable, and a given one is proven, then one can claim certainty and the impossibility of doubt. Either the claim “2+3=5” is unjustified and therefore fallible, or else it is justified and therefore infallible. It makes absolutely no sense to declare that some claim is unjustifiable, but also true beyond a reasonable doubt. Conclusion If one denies the existence of universals metaphysically, then there’s no reason to believe that an abstraction will extend beyond the range of the small set of previously observed concretes to which it currently refers (and certainly not to believe that one has knowledge or certainty about it). In that case these “universal” epistemological abstractions do not provide knowledge, one cannot have certainty about them – and indeed the opinion of a nominalist is that the use of or belief in such “epistemological universals” is foolish and counter-productive, after all, what’s the point in having or believing in some “timeless essential” if it’s not referring to something that is actually timeless and essential in reality? These universal abstractions are actually false and misleading, they distort the view of reality since there are no such things. There are only retrospective categories of reference. Calling such epistemic categories “concepts” or “universals” is mistaken. None of the positive results that Ayn Rand tries to claim follow, like the ability to have conceptual knowledge, or certainty about reality, or the validity of induction. None of this is really consistent with this view; one is a skeptic about any general statement about reality, a nominalist who believes in categories of convenience, and the epistemic standard (and thus, necessarily, the moral and political standard) is subjective and pragmatic. There are plenty of people who own up to holding exactly this view, nominalists of all kinds own up to this and wear it proudly, declaring that all that is possible to man are pragmatically guided categories and statistical correlations, and that belief in concepts, in universals that actually hold in reality, is akin to a religious fantasy from which one must break away. If on the other hand one is not truly a skeptic about reality, if deep down there is a belief that it is possible to justifiably know things that are necessary and certain and universal, then there must be a conversation about the metaphysics of universals. Either way there’s an inconsistency in Ayn Rand’s thinking, and one should be clear and honest with themselves on exactly where one stands. One must choose a side. Either there are universals which actually hold in reality, or else there is no such thing. If there is nothing in reality which holds universally, then one cannot have knowledge of things which hold universally. It is not possible. One either needs to own up to one’s metaphysical stance epistemologically, or own up to one’s epistemological stance metaphysically. It cannot be held both ways. The concept of metaphysical universality cannot be stolen in epistemology while denying it in metaphysics – not if one is being honest with one’s self. Either one has a merely pragmatic stance (i.e. holding this concept as if it were a universal, even if there are no such things, since that seems to work well) in which case one ought to own up to that epistemologically as a nominalist, or else one does believe that universal knowledge is possible but is operating on a stolen metaphysical premise, in which case one ought to own up to that metaphysically as an intrinsicist.
  16. I don't know how else to explain it... you've admitted there's a possibility of being wrong, you've admitted that you don't believe universals necessarily hold true, yet you're saying you have certainty, that you can eliminate the possibility of being wrong, that you can eliminate all reasonable doubt. Being fallible with respect to making mistakes is one thing. But you're saying you can't universalize at all, that any universal claim is unjustifiable. That inherently means that you cannot achieve actual certainty, you cannot remove all possible doubt about something holding true universally, at all times and all places. If you haven't proven something to be true then there is a reasonable doubt that it could be different at some other time or place. After all, you've declared that you cannot make justifiable claims for something at all times and all places. If you're making a universal claim about something at all times and all places, and you hold that such claims are invalid, cannot be justified, then how in the world do you have certainty about them? You've just said that you can't do that, that you can't make such general claims as true, certain, knowledge. Universal claims are either justified or unjustified. You have to pick one. If they are unjustified then you can't claim "certainty" and "the impossibility of doubt". If universal claims are justifiable, and you have proven one, then you can claim certainty and the impossibility of doubt. Either your claim about 2+3=5 is unjustified and therefore fallible, or else it is justified and therefore infallible. It makes absolutely no sense to declare that some claim is unjustifiable, but also necessarily true and infallible.
  17. What I said still stands: "you are denying that induction, or any generalized knowledge, is possible. Any concepts or propositions made that generalize outside of some specific set of concretes you've previously observed would be unjustifiable." McCaskey for example claims: Well no, under your system, none of these is certain. No conclusion science has ever achieved can be described as true, or knowledge, or certain. They simply happen to be true under the concretes previously observed, and you predict it will continue to be so. Yes, even with math. What, you're certain that 2+3=5? At all times and in all places, universally? How? That may have held up under your previous observations, and you may predict that it will continue under similar circumstances, but as you said, all of your predictions are "subject to human fallibility and dependent on our context of knowledge", and as you said, "we are not omniscient", we haven't observed every single instance that has ever occurred. @MisterSwigyou said explicitly, "By "universal" we cannot mean a concept that "holds true in all places and at all times.""
  18. I'd have to hear it in context, but from the way you've written it, it sounds like she's saying that one couldn't possibly create a work of art from the perspective of different value judgments than your own, and that I don't think is true, nor do I think it's intended in Rand's definition.
  19. I don't see why it would be controversial. There's no reason why one cannot use their imagination and envision the worldview of someone else (how do you think Ayn Rand wrote her villains?), and if you can grasp the worldview of another, then you can create artistic expressions based on that worldview. You probably wouldn't want to, but you certainly could.
  20. Oh sure, I mean you could interpret Rand's quote about "the artist's" metaphysical value judgments as referencing those judgments which underlie the art they are working on, which may or may not happen to be their personal judgments (though of course generally they are). What do you mean?
  21. What else would it be? A direct reproduction of reality would be more akin to journalism than art.
  22. Epistemologically, I don't see any problem with Rand's description of concept formation in Chapters 1 and 2, including as it pertains to units. One proceeds from viewing individual concretes, to generalizing them into a view of units of a kind. Metaphysically speaking obviously all concretes intrinsically are units of a kind. Concept formation is just the inductive process of recognizing them as such and identifying the kind that they belong to. If we had some sort of diaphanous perception (which we don't) and had automatic mental access to the universal, then you would automatically see every concrete as the unit of its kind. But we don't have innate knowledge like that, you do have to put in the epistemological work to unite concretes together as units and form the concept of the kind.
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