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Everything posted by Bowzer

  1. Read Dr. Hull's Contemporary Philosophy: A Report from the Black Hole. It will at least put things in context for you.
  2. What does Objectivism hold the nature of consciousness to be, what it used for, how it is to be used, etc.? The answers to these questions are quite clearly stated in many places and they constitute a theory of consciousness. Objectivism's theory of consciousness--because it is part of a philosophy--applies to all consciousnesses, past, present and future. So when Miss Rand writes, for example, "consciousness, an attribute of life, directs the actions of the organism to use, to shape, to realign matter for the purpose of maintaining its existence," (The Journals of Ayn Rand, p. 663), she means it to apply to all forms of consciousness. So I am merely restating this view when I say that consciousness, no matter where it is found, is only possessed by living things. That is because the idea of a non-living and/or non-purposeful consciousness is antithetical to the philosophy of Objectivism. One fine example of my position is the section, "Reason as Man's Basic Means of Survival," in OPAR, Chapter 6. By "reason," Dr. Peikoff means man's consciousness and this section is the application of the points that I have been making in this thread. You seem to be saying that some thing could possess reason yet reason, for that thing, would have no function.
  3. Not to belabor the issue but I think it's clear what Miss Rand's wishes were: .
  4. Please point me to where in the literature the context of Objectivism's theory of consciousness is set within the boundaries of evolutionary theory. Evolution is a scientific theory so how is this not an example of philosophy (which comes hierarchically prior to science) being delimited by a scientific discovery.
  5. From what sense I can make of this argument, linguistic form is being used to "reorder" the axioms. This is ridiculous for many reasons, two of which are: 1) Language is a complex human product found way up the hierarchy of knowledge. You can't then turn language around in order to "prove" something at the base of all knowledge. 2) Strictly speaking, the axioms are grasped as concepts (see Chapter 6, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology), not as propositions. Thus, whatever point could have been made here is moot.
  6. I'm not trying to be substantive; in fact I have purposefully stopped being substantive with you. I do have to thank you for one thing and that's reminding me why I come to this BBS in the first place: I want to study Objectivism. There are many, many things that I want to learn and time is short, sir. Therefore, I carefully pick where I spend my time and when I see it being wasted I quit what I'm doing.
  7. You're right, amagi, you know my position better than I do. Thank you for making this so clear to me. You have never mischaracterized my view, I was wrong; instead you have only been on a higher intellectual plane than me this whole time. Makes sense now. I admit defeat. Now that that's over let's talk about Objectivism shall we? That's why we all come here isn't it?
  8. Interesting story, McGroarty! You're in a battle against your internalized philosophy but you seem like a honest thinker. Because of that--and as long as you continue to be honest with yourself--reason will win out in time and frustration will give way to a fundamental sense of happiness.
  9. I've always argued from causality but anyway I'm not interested in pursuing this anymore. I would like to hear how people reconcile the view that consciousness isn't at root a biological function of living organisms or that cognition is an end-in-itself with Objectivism. Philosophy gives us universal truths--principles that are true everywhere at every time. If you believe that we might create something in the future that has no practical use for its consciousness then you believe now that there isn't necessarily a practical use for consciousness. This contradicts Objectivism and I will show why later if my questions generate enough interest.
  10. I have never argued for correlation and I really have no idea where you could have interpreted me that way. I don't have a problem with people criticizing my views as long as they make an attempt to understand what I am saying. I don't believe that to be the case in your response(s). Regardless, I am interested in seeing this thread become more relevant to the purpose of this board which is the dicussion of Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism. The science on this topic is fascinating but even moreso is what Objectivism holds to be the nature of consciousness.
  11. I would like to hear from Objectivists who think that some thing could possess consciousness yet not be alive. Do you believe that a conceptual consciousness can exist apart from life? How do you integrate this belief with what Objectivism has to say about consciousness and its purpose? I don’t believe that you can integrate this with the rest of your knowledge. If this is clear to you but you hesitate to believe that non-conceptual consciousness is just as fundamentally tied to life, what is so different about non-conceptual consciousness that makes this possible?
  12. amagi, you have completely misunderstood my position (once again). I don't appreciate the way that you have mischaracterized me. If you have questions about what I meant, please ask me and perhaps I'll answer you. Even if you don't want to ask questions, stop making assumptions about what I meant because you are consistenly mistaken.
  13. Dr. Leonard Peikoff's essay, "Fact and Value", should answer your questions.
  14. Interesting question! First of all, making the transition from the entity-perspective to the unit-perspective is anything but primitive! It is the key to civilization and to man's distinctive means of cognition; it is the primary thing distinguishing man from the rest of the animal kingdom. I have two points that I hope will help you out. In ITOE (p. 6), Miss Rand discusses the three stages of development with respect to the implicit concept "existent." We clearly share the first stage, the stage of "entity," of this development with many animals: lions are able to perceive gazelles as distinct from Land Rovers. This is a physiological mode of awareness, in other words, the brains of organisms that are able to perceive automatically integrate sensations into percepts (percepts being awareness of entities). I will not venture into a comparison of the second stage of development (the stage of "identity") since I am unsure how this applies to other animals' awareness. I believe that an argument could be made to support the claim that some more developed mammals are able to reach this stage of development. The second point that I want to make involves volition. You see, the unit-perspective is a “selective focus” (see “Differentiation and Integration as the Means to a Unit-Perspective” in Chapter 3, OPAR and ITOE pp.6-7). The unit-perspective is a state of awareness that must be volitionally initiated and maintained. Thus, it is not just by coincidence that the being that possesses a volitional consciousness is also the being that possesses a conceptual consciousness—they go hand-in-hand. In fact, they are one-in-the-same faculty.
  15. It's very common to use "animated" to refer to living things versus non-living things. Complex robots are not animated because they do not engage in goal-directed action. I know that you think they do but they don't. If you want to know why, you should read Dr. Binswanger's book or his pamphlet. Again, I really have nothing more to add to this above the recommendations that have been made. I just wanted to make the point that I am not the one abusing or misapplying terms here.
  16. I'm sorry to say—having done more than my fair share of academic philosophy—that the answer is the latter of your alternatives not just with respect to your particular class but to almost every course you will take on philosophy at a university.
  17. There is way too much debunking to do there, deedlebee. I would suggest that you focus on ridding your mind of the is/ought "dichotomy." This terribly false idea is rejected in full by Objectivism. Read Dr. Leonard Peikoff's essay, Fact and Value (full text available online).
  18. Why focus on large-scale entities? Why not ask if it might someday be possible to synthesize a cell? Although I really have no idea how difficult this task would be, I don’t see any reasons to rule it out. We have a very detailed understanding of the nature of living cells. So suppose that someday we synthesize a cell completely from “scratch.” Such a creation would not alter the nature of life and it would not change the fact that this man-made cell exhibits all of the characteristics of life, i.e., it would be a living thing. My point has never been that robots are man-made and because of this cannot be alive. The point is in the essential metaphysical distinction between the animate and the inanimate and this seems to be the point that you are either missing or in disagreement over. Miss Rand makes this distinction quite clear and I have given references previously in this thread. I agree with Stephen that there isn't much more to be said on this matter. (And I see that while I typed this up Stephen and I have once again made the same point together. I'm posting anyway...sorry if this is too redundant.)
  19. For the record, I was arguing against something called "non-biological life" and I still haven't the faintest clue about what was meant by this phrase. I figured that Godless Capitalist was arguing for completely artificial life forms which he has done in other threads. I wouldn't, for example, say that non-organic life is an arbitrary speculation.
  20. I’m sure that our great ancestors had their share of problems with ants and such. They also saw tall trees. This gave them observations of living creatures across a wide range of scales. I’m quite sure that it was evident to them that the existence of life was not causally connected to the size of an organism, i.e., there were no grounds to rule out very tiny living things. In other words, Hooke had reason to believe that the scale of the size of living organisms extends beyond man’s unaided perception. This scenario is not analogous to my position on consciousness if that is what you were implying. I have pointed out elsewhere that immortality is not just the extension of life; it is non-life, i.e., death. I’m not going to elaborate on this since it is quite clearly stated in OPAR (pp. 209-11).
  21. And their venture is not based on arbitrary speculation since we know many of the conditions that give rise to life and we know that these conditions can exist elsewhere in the universe. I believe that he is making the same point that I am: a claim is arbitrary when no evidence can be offered in its support; once evidence has been obtained, the claim can be evaluated accordingly. Your claim that non-biological life is possible is arbitrary since you have not offered any evidence against which we can evaluate it.
  22. OK, you tell me what you know that should convince me that consciousness doesn’t require a brain (or let’s even extend this argument to the possession of a nervous system)? Where have we ever found consciousness apart from a nervous system? What has ever suggested that consciousness can exist apart from a nervous system? Now answer me this: where have we ever found a nervous system apart from a living organism? I do believe that consciousness cannot exist apart from life. The sole purpose of consciousness for organisms possessing it is to keep said organism alive. A conscious but non-living being would be in the same quandry that Miss Rand’s immortal, indestructible robot would be in: conscious? what for? It need not locomote to gain food. It need not feel pleasure or pain since nothing is for or against its life. It need not gain knowledge since no action at all is required for its continued existence. I will grant you that functionalism (the view that consciousness is a kind of “software” that can run on many kinds of “hardware”) is the predominant view of most cognitive scientists. And to a certain extent it is true: insects have a very different biological makeup from mammals yet both possess nervous systems (at root, the systems are startingly—to me at least—similar). But that is not what you nor the majority of functionalists are holding. That version of functionalism, i.e., that anything can possibly produce consciousness, is preposterous and there is no evidence at all to support it. Some wackos have gone so far as to claim that beer can pyramids or nations of people can reproduce consciousness! There is a very fine defining line that cannot be crossed when discussing the broader causal context that gives rise to consciousness and that line is life. I am maintaining that there is enough evidence to draw that line firmly in the sand right now. Consider this analogy: non-living things cannot digest. Sure, you can add acids to a test tube, throw a piece of cheeseburger in there and watch it dissolve. But that is not digestion in a tube. Digestion—by its nature—involves the assimilation of nutrients into the body of a living organism in order to further that organism’s life. By analogy, you cannot get consciousness—or the processes that give rise to it—in a tube. Consciousness—by its nature—is the faculty guiding the actions of an organism in the sustenance of its life. And, no, this doesn’t make my argument circular. I have already referred my opponents to the plethora of literature produced by biologists and neuroscientists that supports my claim. I have yet to hear anyone disclaim this evidence or to give counter-evidence collected from non-living things. When no evidence can be offered to support a claim, that claim is arbitrary.
  23. I'm sympathetic to your suggestion but I'm not sure that it's feasible. If you have had the pleasure of taking Dr. Peikoff's Objectivism through Induction course, you will have an idea of what I mean. Here is a course given by one of the greatest philosophers that has ever lived and it took the space of 24 CD's. On top of that, the course only covers a handful of Objectivist principles; I can't imagine what it would take to give the entire philosophy in this format especially for those of us who are not great philosophers. The only option, I think, would be to teach people the methods of induction and reduction so that they could apply them on their own, i.e., teach a man to fish...you know the rest. What I am more worried about is the potential for rationalism. For example, (I know that you were just making simple suggestions so don't take this too critically) the content that you provided is very floating and wouldn't really serve as material for induction. The only way to induce is to generalize from sense data and it's just a plain fact that books and web pages dish out "pre-formed" abstractions.
  24. People sometimes use the word "objectivism" as a noun rather than a proper noun designating the philosophy of Ayn Rand. "Objectivism" used this way just refers to the position that knowledge is objective versus some other position like relativism. They do not have in mind here the Objectivist notion of "objectivity" since this concept is still very foreign to academia. This book isn't what you think it is...unless you really are interested in hermeneutics. P.S -- I just want to add that Miss Rand did not "invent" the word "objectivity." What she did do was to clarify its philosophical meaning--a feat never before accomplished.
  25. Welcome to the forum! I have to agree with your assessment. One of the things that drew me to Objectivism was the interesting nature of its adherents. Here were people that possessed a depth and breadth of knowledge on a huge spectrum of topics hitherto unknown to me. Every article and lecture that I worked through was written or presented by someone who had obviously applied every ounce of their rational faculty to the subject. Miss Rand especially blew me away with her acumen and her ability to express this trait in elegant prose. I think there are many reasons for this but that's a discussion onto itself. Here's to hoping that you will continue to be interested in Objectivism and Objectivists!
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