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  1. I can imagine that you are correct if only you had the specifics--but instead, I find myself adding specifics and refuting myself with your cicada-shell rhetoric. Now, instead of examining a REAL refutation to my arguments, I have to search through tomes and ask myself if whether or not Mises was a Kantian, and why some crackpots and cranks might consider him a Kantian or not a Kantian--etc, etc...And then I have to continue defending a position I didn't even take, namely that of having a fanatic belief in "groundless arguments." I never defended a groundless argument--what I said concerns having epistemology without a foundation--an epistemology is not a system of axioms which find themselves upon the shoulders of some axiomatic Atlas! An epistemology is a theory, a world hypothesis, a unifying scheme concerning reality and the origin of human knowledge--as it is a heterogenous theory, it is not a monomorphic system of axioms. You can have an anti-foundational epistemology with arguments that are far from baseless! Why do I have to play this stupid "one-of-these-things-is -not-like-the-other" game and go round and round? I know that "Kant" is a bad word (esp. if you say it with a German accent), for Randians like yourself and I can respect the demons that you love to hate and hate to love. Just by the way Rand throws around the word "epistemology"--like a rag doll--I just can't take her too seriously. Though I like her narrative concerning the two major archetypes of "Attila" and "The Witch Doctor"--I find her prose littered with some brilliancies followed by thrashing around in her egoism. A worthy example: Lets take peal away the onion one layer at a time. Concerning [1][2]: First of all, are we speaking of stage or state? A state is not necessarily time dependent, but a "stage" is. Another problem with "stages" is that no idealist has ever presented a good dividing line between one stage and another--emprically. You can easily say that animals have only sensations and perceptions while humans have that and the ability to conceptualize, but what data confirms this proposition? How do we verify that animals have no ability to conceptualize? Assuming that we are all rational and believe in the evolution of species on this planet, where did the human ability to conceptualize emerge within the chain? (or tree, bush, whatever you choose to think of as a model) Whence comes this stage (or state)? How do we know that animals do not perform "abstractions" and are not able to "integrate. . .by choice" or through their own volition? If there is evidence that clearly delineates the human being from an animal in terms of volitional consciousness and conceptualization, I would like to know. Perhaps one of you will actually find something that will truly help my understanding on these matters. Now this is not to say that there are not striking differences between human animals and other animals, whatever the differences I see no reason to be a Kantian and posit categorical differences between a man and a mere animal mind. Concerning [2]: Another problem I have with the Randian theory of consciousness is that--like Mises--Rand does not allow any purposive qualitative interpretation of animal consciousness. Animal consciousness is "irrational," "muddled" and "foggy," while manly egomaniac man has a "will," "purpose" and is "rational." Animal consciousness is either "like a rock" or has the likeness of a raging minotaur--both have consciousness, but nevertheless no awareness of purpose or reason. This dismal view of the human ego flies in the face of the findings of analytic psychology--esp. under the auspices of Carl Jung. (c.f. "The phenomenology of the psyche," "Mysterium coniunctionis," "Psychology and alchemy") As Carl Jung and his many followers discovered, the psyche of a man exibited its most grandious sense of purpose and unity from within the "mares" of the unconscious. Through examining legend, myth and both dreams of an individual and of the entire societies, the ego emerged as a much later development and innovation in the human psyche--but the ego, like its mother and father in the unconscious, felt "aware" and knew that it "had a will" precisely due to the miasma of detail hidden by the lower subterrainean realms of the subconscious. Just as Ezekiel's "son of man" riding on the chariot had control over the wheels and the beast of its throne, still many consider the eyes, the numerous theriomorphisms and machinery to be the actual seat of all purposive will as exhibited by the "son of man." It is impossible to know just how much of the ego is circumvented by our own subconscious designs, but I know that everyone in this forum has experienced such a "subversion." Concerning [3]: That is only true assuming all abstractions and conceptualizations find their seat completely within the "purpose seeking ego." This assertion is false, since we find such abstractions in dream, myth, legend and in the gigantic playground of the unconscious. Your ego doesn't abstract in a dream state, though you are later reminded of your abstractions upon waking (cf. Freud, "Interpretation of Dreams" ). Your ego may act as a "filter" or may "fold" the content of the unconscious into some form which is recognizable to the ego's understanding of his own senses--but that does nothing more than show the power of abstraction as wielded by the unconscious--the unconscious most certainly has the power to form abstractions that will bring a full grown ego-man to his knees (have you ever had a night terror? Horrid nightmare?). Research shows that the unconscious throws a person into an extreme state of stress when the whole organism is in danger--this shows clearly the ability for the unconscious to 'exercise' volition and to formulate viscerally compact "images" within dreams to motivate the ego into a set of actions that are necessary for its own preservation. Concerning [4]: Riddle: The syllogism is the line of a branch in a tree. Neither the tree nor the branch nor the animal watching the branched tree require volition to realize that a branch in a tree is simply a branch in a tree. Concerning [5]: I chose to leave that one out of focus--or perhaps I feel (though I am not really sure) . . . I have a sense somewhere out there. . . in la-la-unfocused land. . . yeah. . . I already talked about this above. Check. Conclusion: . . .
  2. That is a serious mistake in observation. In going through a potentially life threatening traumatic event, the ego barely has enough time to reflect on what is happening before the R-brain autonomic reflexes 'kick in.' If you hear a gunshot fired two inches from your head, you are going to duck and blink--or react in some way without as much as a tiny second of refection from your own ego. In fact, you may later find yourself in a rather ego-bruising situation of having to remember after the fact what precisely you did once the ear drum busting event startled you from your activities. If someone even pretends to throw a knife at you, you will "blink" without any deliberation from your consciousness. Clearly not the work of a reflective conscious effort to "deliberate" how to react to an exploding car, a thrown knife, a tarantulla falling on the back of your neck, or a swarm of yellow jackets.
  3. Well...here goes... DavidOdden writes: Response: I don’t believe that I am confusing our “conceptual faculty” with consciousness. But I am saying that there is a clear material (i.e. logically) link between such a faculty and that of consciousness. Objectivism, unless it divines a clear boundary between a consciousness possessing a “conceptual faculty” and one that does not, will not survive. Why would dogs not have a conceptual faculty? Dogs clearly identify and classify patterns and even react to such patterns in a very abstract way—though clearly on a lower level than human beings. A dog knows that a collision is a collision, whether it is into a tree, rock, building, or vehicle. A dog reads a grin (for some humans, a sign of glee and welcome) as a “showing of teeth”—a sign of aggression from the one grinning. Dogs clearly form “concepts” at a lower neurological level, forming classes of response to fit with the classes of stimuli that accumulate over time. Whether the dog chooses to “verbalize” concept internally or externally does not detract from its forming some kind of neurological organization and classification—which is the primordial groundwork leading to “abstraction” and “conceptualization.” Jmegan writes concerning my “baseless assertion” that anti-foundational epistemologies are baseless. Response: There is a difference between an epistemology without a foundation and a baseless assertion. In our everyday discourse, we justify baseless assertions daily—we like to call them “axioms,” “postulates,” or in plain English, “self-evident propositions.” But adding a predicate “self evident” to a proposition and stating that the proposition is true based on its own statement is radically anti-foundational. To say that a proposition is true is because it is “self-evident” is to direct the forces of justification (a mild metaphor) in the garb of “propositional authority” in order to justify a propositional attitude. In being anti-foundational, you assert that a self-evident proposition is clear by the very act of stating the proposition—then you have said that your proposition, in fact, says nothing at all. “Self-evident” propositions (i.e. propositions that ARE self evident) are not more or less demanding of evidence than regular propositions. If the evidence of the truth of a proposition is contained in the very act of stating the proposition then you have actually not said anything at all. One startling example is to assume you have two propositions which are each self-evident. By stating the first proposition, you assert the evidence that it is true as well as the second by stating the same. The propositional attitude of “manifestly true” or “necessarily true” means The proposition “[proposition]” is necessarily true because we just stated [proposition] And now we have to formulate the rules for meta-propositions to discuss what it means to attach predicates to propositions and then meta-predicates for meta-propositions requiring. . . —what easier way to maroon oneself outside the boundary human reason than to support such a program!? Response: To have a command economy over land and capital resources might be refutable, since government interventionism leads to chaotic planning and irresponsibility toward market forces. Nevertheless, any state having absolutely no control over private property is impotent—anyone owning land property could clearly hold off constitutionally any attempt for the government law enforcement and state national guard to apprehend the subject if guilty in violation of another law. Laissez-fair capitalism is just a code word for international corporate fascism which can thwart and change at will the political currents and eddies of any state considered “socialistic” or “anti-capitalistic,” U.S. State Dept. code words for real thriving democracies. On the other hand, do not think that I am an advocate of Stalinism, or that my understanding is fundamentally “Marxist”—a code word for the corporate fascists, meaning “those who endanger our profit margin.” Descartes was a proponent of the primacy of consciousness—but primacy here means something that is “irrefutable” vs. something doubtful. Other beings, chimeras, and events, are doubtful at best, while the Cartesian cogito has itself as evidence of “existence.” Objectivism repudiates the skepticism that leads one to affirm alone the cogito—but the proposition that will make or break objectivism is nothing more than the identity principle. To say that “A is A” is as useful/useless as saying A, depending on what precisely A is. It is just as meaningless to say that “A is A” as it is to say “ ‘A is A’ is true from the fact A.” Perhaps a not-so-cynical expansion of the “A is A” would stand better—viz, “A is A” means precisely that A exists independent of the person asserting “A exists” But then another would say that I as the author of the last statement would require paraphrase: “ ‘The fact that any given thing is what it is independent of the person asserting this statement’ is a fact independent of the person asserting or realizing the this statement” A very good example of what Douglas R. Hofstadter calls a “strange loop.” My point is that such statements as “A is A,” paraphrased properly to fit what the objectivists are really trying to say gives us no true epistemology. Instead, we are forced to accept a foundation asserted violently against all need for justification—hidden within the twists and turns of self-reference. You cannot obliterate the qualitative by infusing identity and numeration toward the quantitative. At the source of all “objective” phenomena is a link to how a person “feels” or is “consciously aware” or has “felt needs or responses” to the phenomena. At this juncture, the existence of a thing is highly dependent upon these qualitative accounts given by the consciousness—and the statement “A is A” does nothing to assert the identity of a thing aside from the qualitative account. Do you perceive the means to perceive the faculty of perception? Your argument sounds like another “strange-loop” [(A is C) & (C implies M) ] implies M is A Proposition 1: Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving reality Proposition 2: Perceiving implies a means of perceiving [of which is now by reductio imperceptible!] Conclusion : Therefore consciousness is means of perceiving or the “faculty of perceiving reality.” Why didn’t you just stick to “A is A”? Your right of course about Ayn Rand (as I thought about it more, I realized that her own epistemology—or really faux epistemology—is like a snap-dragon at her feet) , in humans as well as animals, reason is bypassed daily by the unconscious—both in dreams and in states of insanity. (In response to my statement “Perceptions, on the other hand, are not necessarily conscious actions of the organism in general, but can stem from both voluntary and involuntary processes--circumventing the domain of the ego.”) Actually, I am not. Consciousness is a necessary condition for conceptualization, without consciousness—there is no conceptualization. But in all consciousness, there is conceptualizing on many different levels, both verbal, nonverbal, action and inaction. The only criterion objectivists assert between conceptualizing consciousness and the non-conceptualizing consciousness is the fact that the conceptualizing consciousness is “aware” of the fact that they are forming concepts. But, as I (should have) said before, there is no reason to suppose that conceptualizing (i.e. organizing and categorizing classes of stimuli and developing classes or categorical responses to stimuli) is solely limited to organisms in possession of an ego. Actually, the proposition is that conscious integration and differentiation is precisely what we call conceptualizing. My point is that conceptualizing has qualitative roles within the unconscious domain of integration and differentiation—and these roles can be examined phenomenally within our own dreams, myths and legend. These qualitative roles are seen by the sheer nature of the “willful” and “goal oriented” impulses within the simpler domain of unconsciousness. Conceptualizing is not a program inaugurated by the ego—but an ending, or a tag to a vast program of unconscious activities of perceptual and internal somatic conditioning. Whereas Rand (and Mises) assert that the ego commands the whole of the human psyche, I say that the ego does nothing more than to haphazardly place sticky notes over the entire dominion of all rude phenomenon that enter by force. Take it or leave it—philosophies eventually tumble down the black hole named ALL THAT IS SHOWN BY NATURE TO BE FALSE. Philosophy is the (sometimes asinine) laws of thinking and analyzing of what we say to each other and making damn sure they (our statements) conform to reality. Rudely speaking, Science is the study of reality. Without philosophy standing in the way, we can see reality in a better frame of mind. Which is precisely why philosophy is unscientific and has nothing to do with reality. In a better example, try proving the following: Vulcan is the planet closest to the sun. Proof: Either the statement “Vulcan is the planet closest to the sun” is true or false, if false, then “Vulcan is the planet not closest to the sun” is true…etc So a statement and its internal negation give you no way to find out the truth of the statement—but yet we also have the problem of having two contradictories being false, so logic using the law of excluded middle is useless. In like manner, we realize that statements asserting things that have no bearing on reality are—in fact—meaningless, and therefore you might as well say they are false. Science is not epistemology. It has nothing to do with “truth verification certificates” concerning propositions. The data at hand from multitudinous experiments and observation, provides at best a way to point to generalized propositions useful for continual testing—but no science asserts the primacy of a propositional attitudes (developed by the hacks of “epistemology”) over the eventual impeachment of propositional attitudes by experiment! [Cf. s.v. “fallibilism” and the “problem of induction” ]
  4. In fact, I am showing the impotency of objectivism as a valid epistemology--precisely because it is foundational. Anti-foundational coherentism and fallibilism are two epistemologies that are far superior in simplicity and power against objectivism. The main problem I have with Ayn Rand is that she spends little time in building a powerful epistemology so as to get to the really important political ramifications--most of those who are attracted to her "philosophy" are merely trying to create a psuedo-intellectual support stump for her fascist political theories. In addition, the fact that consciousness is "axiomatic" is a resurrection of the cartesian "cogito ergo sum"--however, I can certainly say that ego consciousness is not the unity of the acting being of man.
  5. I continue to maintain that, according to objectivism, we have concept formation if and only if we have consciousness. The proof is simple: Since you have already accepted that concept formation implies consciousness, I will show, based upon the assumptions of objectivism, that consciousness implies concept formation. Firstly, according to Randian objectivists, concept formation is a conscious development from things in our perception. Wherever there is concept formation, there is--as you admit--consciousness by necessity. On the other hand, assume we have consciousness without concept formation, then there exists an animal conscious without having possession of any faculties which unify and combine perception. . . Before we lay the reductio, it is important to note that the change of wording from "associations" to "integration" from the perceptual to the conceptual level does not actually entail any real change in meaning. The only difference posited by the objectivist in such a word change is that "integration" is necessarily conscious whereas "association" is not. But objectivists should know that a fact is a fact, whether apprehended by a "deliberate and conscious act" or examined under the light of perceptual "association." . . . So an animal consciousness having only faculties of "associativity" within its own perception would necessarily have involved a pre-conscious program of unity to the incoming somatic structures presented by its senses. The only way one could say that the processes of associativity of the perceptual domain are not deliberate would be for one to actually consciously feel the lack of deliberation within the unconscious. At any rate, it is impossible to qualitatively tell the difference between an organism acting consciously voluntarily or unconsciously involuntary--since the observer him/herself is already tied to the event in a voluntary (or perhaps even involuntary) way. All actions of organisms, as witnessed by the outside (objective!) observer, can be interpreted as consciously voluntary, and it makes absolutely no difference whether the outside observer characterizes the actions of another organism as "deliberately integrating" or "involuntarily associating." A conscious animal without the deliberative faculties of integration and differentiation has no power to integrate himself as a conscious and deliberative being, and therefore cannot be conscious by an objectivistic standards.
  6. Rand's epistemology divides the conceptual from the perceptual, contrasting the events which are ordained by the conscious ego at the conceptual level. This includes the processes of "integration" and "differentiation" of which the domain of consciousness has surpremacy at the conceptual level. Perceptions, on the other hand, are not necessarily conscious actions of the organism in general, but can stem from both voluntary and involuntary processes--circumventing the domain of the ego. In examining these 'differentiatae' propounded by Rand and the followers of Rand, it cannot be said for certain that A) that integration and differentiation of things at the perceptual level are a necessary and sufficient condition for consciousness (this stems from the zero-sum nature of the logical proposition forwarded by Rand and her associates and followers.) (As a corollary to A) that the nature of cognitive integration and differentiation lies totally within the domain of consciousness. Another epistemology that was destroyed by (earlier!) researches in cognitive science was the idea developed by the Austrian Economist, Ludwig von Mises--i.e. that the "ego is the unity of the acting being." As shown by researches in the domain of analytical psychology (and even some researches treating the living organism as a "black box"--behavioristic analysis), and cognitive neuro-linguistics, if objectivist epistemology is anything like that of Mises then it should fail the test of science most miserably.
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