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  1. Not sure what you mean by "consists of", but doesn't Peikoff also state on pg. 99 the following: "... a concept means the existents which it integrates. Thus, a concept subsumes and includes all the characteristics of its referents, known and not-yet-known" when trying to play off the analytic-synthetic dichotomy? And when one speaks of "means" ("meaning"), one does so in respect to its sense, not its reference. As far as I'm concerned, the sense/reference distinction does have meaning because Peikoff explicitly brings it up in relation to concepts.
  2. When I think or say the word "elephant" does the concept of "elephant" that I have in my mind mean or refer to all instances of elephants which the concept subsumes? In other words, is my concept of "elephant" comprised of the definition of what it means to be an elephant (its meaning), or does my concept refer to all elephants which exist?
  3. I'm sorry but I missed the premise that infants are rational, somehow able to form syllogisms from a posteriori knowledge and deductively conclude that this particular action is not in one's best interests. And the "falling" that most infants experience very early in life is hopefully not falling from cliffs. Falling from a crawling position maybe, but not through a transparent floor. It may be true that depth perception develops early in life, but it does not necessarily follow that an infant can "connect the dots", pairing that ability with conclusions regarding steep drops in elevation and the dangers therein. It's probably the case that cats/kittens do not fear cliffs because no matter the heights a cat falls from, it can lower its terminal velocity enough to the point where it will not die on impact. It is not an evolutionary necessity that a cat know by instinct the dangers of a cliff. But, yes, cats do eventually learn to avoid cliffs; my philosophy professor once told us how his cat would jump from magazine to magazine on a glass coffee table, careful not to touch the transparent parts.
  4. In a study in 1960, conducted by Eleanor Gibson and Richard Walk of Cornell University, 36 infants were placed in a very special room: one-half of the floor was completely transparent glass, the other half was regular, well, floor. The infants obviously avoided the glass floor, most did so even as their parents stood across it urging them to come to them. But most, particularly older children, preferred the the perceived (or possibly instinctual) comfort of the regular floor. Although this result by itself does not distinctly prove the suggestion that this is instinct or innate knowledge, the fact that infants of other species, namely chicks, rats, turtles, kittens and puppies, did the exact same thing: thus equating animal instinct with young child knowledge. I know that Rand had this to say: She rejected the idea of instinct as one more source of knowledge in humans (besides reason, of course); but it seems to me that this instinct related to the glass floor is knowledge, and is not derived from reason because chicks, rats, turtles, kittens and puppies (and small children) do not possess reasoning capability. In terms of epistemology, if this is not instinct in humans, then what is it? source: http://www.wadsworth.com/psychology_d/temp...us/ps/ps05.html
  5. Def. I: best - completing the function of a form of government ("to facilitate expressions of power") the most effectively, or efficiently, or both Through the Objectivist lens, I would think the following statement would describe the government which is "best": "It is never true that a ‘form of government’ which does not exist can ever complete this functional purpose because it is only hypothetical. The best ‘form of government’ is always one which meets the objective standard of existence, completing its function in reality." I figured that with the emphasis upon existence and reality, that the primacy of this existent government would be best. To contrast, "forms of government" which do not exist in a certain state cannot be considered "best" or "better" than the one which is in place. However, I realize that this is not the Objectivist viewpoint. Rand favored minarchism for the United States; it is then appropriate to say she would consider minarchism "best" or "better" than the current form of government in the United States. However, wouldn't reality say that the actual existent form of government completes this function "better" than one which is merely hypothetical or idealistic? Please help me figure out what is wrong with the quoted statement ("It is never...") above.
  6. I'm sorry, I created the concept of "non-conceptual" men in reading the following (Virtue of Selfishness, pg. 17): I take "unfocus" here (which, like "non-conceptual" men, is not a real word) to signify diluting one's mind with agents which take the "human" ability to choose away—unless I am missing the dictionary definition for a word that does not exist. I take "conscious" here to signify having "a 'focused' mind", that is one that is not diluted with inhibiting agents. I take "volition" to signify the capability of conscious choice and decision and intention. Notice conscious choice. Rand says that man can chose "to be conscious or not", or in other words, non-volitional. The "mechanism to suspend volition" is volition itself, initially, and then man acts against his nature in not being able to choose consciously, volitionally. I am not talking about a state of unconsciousness. Obviously, there are no actions being made within consciousness in such a state. I am speaking of animalistic states, that is, severe intoxication, "unfocusing" the mind, where rational decisions are impossible and choosing at a human level is impossible, the equivalent, mentally, to being an animal. Conscious, as some animals are, but not living up to the specific nature of a human being.
  7. And yet, if his ability to choose is his specific nature, he can act against this ability. Examples include intoxication, drug abuse, hypnosis. In these circumstances, the human being has chosen to relinquish his specific nature, the ability to choose. This may be a contradiction for the choice to not choose, but it is not a contradiction for subsequent actions. If an animal is nothing but a balloon (and this is what a "non-conceptual" man is described as, Rand's Virtue of Selfishness, pg. 17) in that it lacks volitional consciousness, man no longer has the ability to choose in his "animalistic" state. But to call a man "an animal" when in this animalistic state does not offer support to a fact that he is no longer human. To deny that this "semiconscious" human being is a still a human being is to impose a conscious essence (or specific nature) on what it is to be a human being, as opposed to a biological essence. (A note about definitions. "To choose" here implies rational choice at a "human" level. An animal can choose between two alternatives, but not at the same level as a rational human being. A "semiconscious" human being, talking like Rand, may possess the "choosing power" of an animal, and act while choosing with this limited capacity, in this state.) As far as I understand it, a human being, in a "semiconscious" state, can be acting against his specific nature (in that he lacks the ability to choose, in the sense that a somewhat sober human being can choose rationally), yet still be, biologically, a human being.
  8. I understand, my mistake. But applied to free will: is what the human being does defined by his nature? Such is determinism. "Different (humans) have different natures, and some have a nature that dictates that they can't (decide to jump in the air)."
  9. So the law of identity can be applied to choice and action? I fail to understand why the law of identity (of choice) shall be used for human entities and then the law of identity (of actions) shall be used for non-human entities. I understand that the balloon has a specific nature and it must act upon it, by its definition. But the human being, if he has free will, cannot be forced, as the balloon, to a single choice. He may choose against following his specific nature, that is. Or is man's specific nature his ability to choose?
  10. Isn't the nature of the balloon defined by what it's doing (i.e. rising in the air, or falling to the ground)?
  11. In Objectivism, doesn't the law of identity (A is A) contradict free will in humans? That is, if a human being can decide to do either A or ~A, does he then not have a specific nature, as is specified by the law of identity? If the law of identity then does not apply to humans (which Rand would have denied), what is to keep the law of identity from being a meaningless tautology? (A side note: isn't saying 'something will always act according to its nature' a worthless truism? That statement just makes a claim that is true by its definition, but it is something so clearly true that it is just a trivial word-game.) For instance, say I decide not to jump (~J) in the air. If I have no pre-set determined behavior, which is the doctrine of free will, it can either be my nature to J or ~J, it is whatever I chose to do that is my nature. It is then to Objectivism to say that what I do is my nature, which contradicts the law of identity of me having a specific nature.
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