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phibetakappa

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  1. I have not been representing any of Binswanger's views here. I suggested people, especially you, study Binswanger's lectures because he properly approaches subjects inductively. Whereas you are at best dogmatic and rationalistic in nearly every one of your statements. You don't think, you snatch parts of conclusions from Objectivism (seemingly) at random, then jigger them around and/or make rationalistic deductions from them. Any views I've represented of Binswanger I have provided references to them above. The only view of his on the subject which I'm presenting here is that there is no reason to be dogmatic when it comes to thinking about animals and volition. I.e., there's no reason other animals can not possess volition, i.e., there is nothing in the nature of being an non-human animal which precludes it from having volition. Yes, I know it does. And a "metaphysical dualism between matter and consciousness" is not an Objectivist view, i.e., it is not a view supported by any Objectivist literature. Given the use of the term "dualist," it sounds like your own attempt to jigger modern philosophic ideas, and cram them into Objectivism, which seems par for the course for you. Prime example of your rationalistic deductive epistemology. "The primacy of existence principle states..." You just grab something like a definition and start making deductions with it. The primacy of existence is not some out of context premise to be plucked out of thin air to start making deductions from. Furthermore, the "primacy of existence" is not even a principle. It does not state that "consciousness is derivative of existence."
  2. One's mind just doesn't come into focus by accident and then suddenly they have volition. Focusing one's mind is a choice, that presupposes the capacity to make choices. As you stated the act of focusing is volitional, i.e., presupposing a capacity of volition. Reify means "to regard as a concrete thing" That is precisely what you are doing with the concepts of "consciousness", "faculty", "conceptual", "conceptual consciousness" and "faculty of reason" You state: "A conceptual consciousness is a physical faculty" This is the definition of reify. Here in the next section you do it again: A conceptual consciousness is not a physical faculty. It is a spiritual faculty, i.e, non-material. One has to choose to have a conceptual faculty, and if one is to keep it one has to continually choose to keep one's mind in focus and to management one's mind via a constant volitional effort. If one never does choose to focus, never chooses to maintain the continuous effort the conceptual level of consciousness requires, one still has volition, but one does not have a conceptual consciousness. One has a perceptual consciousness, with the potential of being activated, utilized and/or sustained via a continuous volitional effort. Again I recommend Harry Binswanger's Freewill lectures, and if you can spend the money and get an early copy of his new book which has an entire chapter on freewill. Over and out.
  3. The act of focusing requires volition. You have to will your mind into focus. The faculty of volition exists prior to bringing our mind into focus. We use volition to bring our mind into focus, then we can use it to form our first acts of abstraction which lead to concept formation. Grasping similarities as opposed to differences is a volitional process, and is the essence of having a conceptual level consciousness. Grasping similarity as opposed to differences requires the mind to be in focus. It is in this manor that our minds attains it attribute of being potentially conceptual. If the person never chooses to volitionally observe similarities and differences and form his first concepts, it would be wrong to say he had a "conceptual consciousness." But you could still say he has a volitional consciousness. My infant son for over a year and a half has not known a single word, has not shown any sign of having formed his first concept. But he can be seen exerting mental and physical effort in goal-directed ways, he can me observed making choices at the perceptual level. In other words he is entirely perceptual and exerts choice all over the place. He does not possess a conceptual consciousness. Having a conceptual consciousness is a matter of choice. It is not as if we are just born with a conceptual faculty and it just starts up one day, and we just start form concepts. Our volitional consciousness has to be willed to work in a conceptual way. If we never will it to operate in a manor to produce concept, it is not and will never be a conceptual consciousness. It is true that there is no evidence that any animal is conceptual. It may be true that their brains do not even possess the physical potential to become conceptual, and the the average human brain does possess that potential. But, it is possible for a human being, despite having the potentiality of choosing to be conceptual, never does make that choice, and/or never sustains the choice to operate at the conceptual level for very long. For long stretches such a man can drift mentally, and can and does exert freewill and volition. Having a conceptual consciousness presupposes having volition. But having volition does not presuppose having conceptual consciousness. Forming concepts requires effort. A child has to choose to make his consciousness conceptual. This presupposes his volitional faculty is already working and he is making choices, and directing his perceptual consciousness for many many months before he ever makes the choice to sustain the effort of gathering up the bunches and bunches of perceptual observations of similarities and differences of objects, which he will eventual use to form his first concept. All these pre-conceptual activities are volitional. The faculty of volition exists prior to having a conceptual consciousness, and the faculty of volition exists and can be active when and if a man choose not to operate at the conceptual level, i.e., when he chooses not to have a conceptual consciousness.
  4. I just finished reviewing Harry Binswanger's 1999 lecture entitle "Freewill," in hopes to find a more precise reference instead of just saying review the whole course. (Sorry I only have the cassette tape version) On Tape 1, side B, during the Q&A the last question HB takes is on the topic of animals and volition. The man asks I have a dog and I trained him to wait to eat his favorite biscuit. Something like "I put the biscuit on his nose and he as to wait until he is given the command to eat it, and the dog sits there as salivates, and visibly struggles and strains every muscle to keep from eating the biscuit. Does that show that the dog has some form of volition because it is seemingly using 'effort' to not eat the biscuit." Binswanger gives a good answer. He states he is sympathetic to the view that some animals do display what can be characterized as (volitional) "effort," in some contexts, because he has witnessed these kinds of instances too. He gives a great contrasts and states cats just cannot be seen to ever be place in the type of "conflict" provided in the dog/biscuit example. More importantly he explicitly states it is not part of Objectivism that no animal cannot have some form of volition/freewill. He states there is no reason to be dogmatic about stating that no animal cannot have some form freewill, under highly delimited circumstances. I believe far and way the more important thing is understanding man's form of volition because understanding it is life and death for us/joy vs suffering. But that is not the topic of this post. The post is above "Volition in Animals." Again I recommend Binswanger's lecture because he approaches it inductively, examining what facts introspectively can be viewed related to volition.
  5. Very good commentary, you will be missed.

  6. Why would the term "volition" become nonsensical and meaningless if divorced from the faculty of reason? In what basis of fact do you have for claiming this? How are you coming to this conclusion? Based on what? Why, does one have to have the faculty of reason in order to focus there mind? What do you mean by the faculty of reason? What does it mean to have "access that faculty"?
  7. I don't think I have been uncivil by any means. I have put forth claims, have disputed yours and have supported myself using the O'ist literature. If stating you have stolen the concept "voluntary" in this thread, I think based on your statement that you have been getting your ques as to how to use the term from how Aristotle has been translated to use it 2500 years ago, should raise a question in your mind as to just what your trying to do with the term. It is great to study Aristotle, but Aristotle's context and our modern context are very different.
  8. You are dropping context. Aristotle is not a spokes person for O'ism. The context Aristole had 2500 years ago on the subject of "volition" is very different from the context we have today. Further Aristotle's use of the term "voluntary" in his context, does not excuse you from stealing the term in a modern context. Again, if you are going to act as if you are putting for a view consonant with O'ism, then provide references which support your claim, and/or provide first-hand evidence to support it.
  9. Where does Objectivism make a distinction between focusing your eyes on a distant object and focusing your mind to think? Why couldn't you be focusing your eyes, ears, etc, etc as part of the process of thinking, in the act of gathering more evidence. Infants go through a stage of not having concepts, i.e., not having reason, and they so obviously have volition. Animals can be observed with volition. I am willing to bet based on your comments that I am far better versed in this topic than you are. So far you haven't supported your view with any citations from prominent Objectivists who you contend support your point of view. Further you have not addressed the citations I have provided which clearly refute your arbitrary assertions. You have not provided any evidence to support your view at all. So don't try to act as if you are speaking for "Objectivism". If you believe you are putting forth a view that is consonant with O'ism then support it with references. I recommend you get Harry Binswanger's lectures on the topic of freewill. and/or I recommend you ask him yourself. and/or You sign up for the review of his latest book which covers the subject of freewill here: "How do we know"
  10. This is very mistaken. We are not lumping anything together. You loose nothing or hamper yourself in anyway, because we are observing what actually is the case. There is nothing remarkably different from what you are arbitrarily designating as "voluntary," in the case of non-human animals, and what is observed in adult humans. In fact you are stealing the concept "voluntary." I am not making a hash out of very important and distinctive Objectivist concepts, if anything I'm attempting to keep the most fundamental concepts on which O'ist rest, safe from your mistaken assertions.
  11. I have not confused anything. I'm not sure why it is even relevant in this context to try to bring in a distinction between the process of reasoning and when we speak of the "faculty" or "capacity" to reason. The process of reasoning is obviously regulated via volition, the choices we make in terms of what questions we ask and answer and the other aspects of it. The faculty of reason is a certain potentiality human being possess to reason, for which they can utilize or not. Here is what Ayn Rand has to say both about the "faculty" of reason, and the preconditions that faculty depends on. Yes, the conditions the "faculty" of reason itself depends on (not the other way around as you are stating): Do you think this statement is claiming as you state, "Thus the existence of volition requires the existence of the faculty of reason." On the contrary I believe it displaces your statement all together. Firsthand observation via introspection also supports the opposite. The faculty of reason, depends on an aspect of volition, not the other way around. The existence of volition does not require the existence of the faculty of reason. Why would it? What exactly do you mean by the "faculty of reason?" There is nothing about the nature of volition which precludes it from operating on the perceptual level.
  12. I'm not exactly sure whether the following video is "tool" usage or tool creation, but it is fascinating. It shows a crow that has adapted to the urban environment by utilizing the traffic lights, and cars to break nuts for food. Crow That Uses Cars as Nut Cracker The whole process does have some traditional aspects that can be explained by standard operant conditioning, but I think other aspects of it could be explained via a perceptual level volition. It could be subsumed under the description Ayn Rand gives in ITOE I previously provided: It is not an infant, but the bird does seem to show an ability to choose its actions, selecting from alternatives.
  13. I think play behavior in adult dogs, primates and some birds demonstrates some perceptual level volition. Also, see the example I provided about my dog. Further, we can observe perceptual level volition in infants, which I think supports the claim that some animals can have a form of volition. (see my post).
  14. This is false. Volition does not require reason. Reason requires volition. You need to reread OPAR and listen to Harry Binswanger's lecture on Freewill, I've provided the sections above. But for example in OPAR page 56: Followed by: The effort to bring one's mind into focus is chosen, i.e., it is volitional. Reason can not get off the ground until the mind is volitionally brought into focus. This is a pre-rational condition needed to think. Peikoff later states, You can check this yourself via introspection. I recommend in the morning when you first wake up.
  15. I do understand your point about the potential trouble of stating what is not subsumed under a given concept, i.e., the potential problems with negative definitions. But, focus in this case is an instance of volition i.e., focus according to O'ism is subsumed under the concept volition. So, "focus" is not an example of stating what volition is not, but it is an example of what volition is. My point being that we cannot exclude focus as an instance of volition, which needs to be consider as part of the entire context of what volition is. I will work on "defining" volition. Given volition is an axiomatic concept it will be difficult. Likely we are going to be left with a sort of ostensive definition. Off the cuff I'd say, I meant "primitive" in the sense of a form of volition that does not involve the sort of complex mental regulation that humans do on the conceptual level. We bring our minds into focus, then we choose to think, then the process of thinking is essentially a process of asking and answering questions. This process of asking and answering questions is volitionally regulated. We can choose how to manage our minds, (except for the psycho-epistemological aspects of thinking.) Now, to my knowledge there are no conceptual animals except human beings. So, obviously no animal is going to be engaged in the complexity of asking and answering questions, because they can't form questions without concepts. (Also, given that values are certain kinds of concepts, animals will have no meta-ethical behavioral regulation guiding their actions, in the sense of not having conceptual goal-direction guiding their actions.) Here is what Ayn Rand has "hesitantly" to say about a primitive form of volition with regard to preconceptual infants. You stated, I could understand being so adamant to claim animals don't have concepts. But there is plenty of first hand, observable information to support the existence of some form of volition in some animals. Man is a certain kind of animal, and I know of no evidence that precludes other animals from having the ability to choose their actions, on a non-conceptual level. Children from conception to birth, from infancy to adolescence; developmentally progress basically through all the stages that most non-human animals take. That is their development takes them from being a piece of protoplasm to embryo etc, etc. etc. For a brief period after they are born, like any higher animal, they experience only the perceptual level of consciousness. Behaviorally, they act and engage their environment like any chimp or intelligent dog would. I've observed this first hand with both my infant son and my dog. If you observe closely you can watch an infant progress from a writhing, non-volitional animal (degree by degree) to something obviously volitionally directing its perceptual senses; then later to something of a hybrid state of consciousness, flirting with conception. The child remains for months like this, before it ever shows any sign of even implicitly knowing its first word, and then its first concept. In this sense we observe the child behaving exactly as Ayn Rand describes here:
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