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Everything posted by phibetakappa

  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:
  16. dianahsieh states, She obviously has some knowledge of O'ism and chooses to bring in the idea of "focusing one's mind," in relation to volition. But then she artificially narrows the concept by stating volition requires reason, especially in the phrase: According to everything I know of volition including my first hand introspection, and my review of O'ist literature including Harry Binswanger's course on "Freewill," the concept of volition cannot validly be delimited this way. My position agrees with L. Peikoff's statement in OPAR page 56: Note the sentence, "The primary choice, according to Objectivism, the one that makes conceptual activity possible, is the choice to focus one's consciousness" In O'ist term "focus" (focusing one's mind) is a "volitional" act. Peikoff defines focus as: After a certain degree of mental focus is achieved, one can then engage more sophisticated forms of mental regulation, including simple to complex reasoning. Peikoff clarifies the relationship between the volitional act of focusing and thinking: Focusing is a volitional act, and it is not thinking, it is non-conceptual, i.e., it is pre-conceptual; pre-rational, i.e., it is a necessary condition of engaging in conceptualization (the essence of thinking/rationality). If volitional is artificially delimited to "the power to focus one's rational mind or not, simply as a matter of will," we implicitly undercut the O'ist basis for the axiomatic concept of volition. * * * There is no reason why a given animal cannot possess a primitive form of volition. If a given non-human animal did possess a form of volition this would have no negative implications for man or society. Possessing volition is not a sufficient condition for rights or any other negatively man-impacting implication. Man still maintains his particular identity as a rational being, regardless of what attributes some other species possesses.
  17. Volition does not require reason. Reason requires volition. Volition is not the power to focus one's "rational mind." One can not be rational until and unless one's mind has already been focused. The choice to focus one's mind is the primary choice, prior to any reasoning. If you want proof you are gong to need to honestly introspect.
  18. You cannot prove that something that does not exist... does not exist. I.e., because god is a figment of imagination there's no evidence that such a thing exists. In other words, it is NOT your obligation to disprove the existence of a god, it is your friends obligation to prove that a god exists. That means he has to provide supporting evidence to this claim that something he is calling a god exists. No one has ever provided evidence that god exists and no one will ever be able to do it. A zero, a nothing, a figment of imagination does not leave a trail, it does not interact with objects, there will be nothing to cite as factual evidence supporting "its" existence. Incidentally, "disprove" means building a case using factual evidence, which explains a phenomena better than a previously argued, factually supported case. The word disprove does not apply in this discussion, because no one has ever demonstrated the existence of a god by building a case using factual support, i.e., evidence. Just like your "friend" people have only made assertions assuming the existence of a gold.
  19. Like so many people you seem to read what you want and skip the rest. I don't understand your point. The fact of the matter parents do direct their children's lives. That is what to dispose of means. This is a bromide, it is not an argument. You state they "naturally" have the right to raise their children. Why? As I stated in a collectivist state parents would not have the right to raise their children. More parents every year in America are being told by various forms of government how they can and can not raise their children. Again, you are very obtuse. I've given dozens of reason why the parent-child relationship has similar characteristics as any other owner-property relationship. In some cases, its ashame that people don't take care of their other property the way they take care of their children. Try observing the facts and not reacting to the emotions the word property invokes in you. I.e., try being objective, instead of emotion driven.
  20. You are being obtuse. The fact of the matter is that children are not men. They are in an in between state. This is why a special term children was coined, and why there are so many legal and social exceptions made for children. If children were men they would not need parents. Children, if they remain healthy will unequivocally become men, and be able to make decisions for themselves. Parents do, and understandably should, behave towards their children as they are property; their most cherished property. This does not mean children loose their rights, that they are abused; in fact it assures they are treated with love and affections by those person who's choice and effort conceived, birthed and loves them; and it assures that children are legally able to get guidance without interference from the state or other men. As children mature into men, the standards for how to treat a given person depending on the maturity of the given person. Likewise the way in which parents regard their children properly shifts from thinking of them as a protected possession to an autonomous adult, who is able to take care of themselves.
  21. I don't follow your argument. Human don't have rights solely because they are volitional. They have rights because there are certain necessary conditions their life requires, which must be maintained if they are to live among other men in a society. However, you are correct, when a child becomes an adult he will have the same requirements has any other person in society, and those requirements must be maintained when attempting to live in and around other men, if they are to life qua men in society. You are correct a dog can neither reason or hope (which depends on reason).
  22. Great thanks. Yeah, this (below) reasoning is just wrong, as-wells-as based on false assumptions what "causality" is and how people know it.
  23. The fascinating aspect of the nature of children is the fact is that children by definition are not fully rational. We do not consider children able to make decisions for themselves. I.e., who we consider a child is in large part deterred by the rational capacity of the given person. Developmentally, children are in a hybrid state of development for many years. Human ontogeny is the longest of any species of animal, i.e., the length of time between birth and maturity. This is why legally we treat them as exceptions, making special legal concessions to compensate for their immature state. Legally, maturity basically consists of when the person is thought to be completely responsible for their actions, such as being able to understand the consequences of their actions. From ITOE, AR states, "dispose" here does not mean destroy, to get rid of an object; it means to "to arrange or decide matters." It means to do with an object what one believes is right. The opposite is to do only by permission. It is precisely because legally that children are treated as a highly specialized form of property, that parents retain a legal right to make the decisions for on behalf of their children. Parents can raise their children precisely because they have a limited form of property rights to them. The right to raise a child according to the parents judgment is only a form of the right to dispose of one's property. This is why I stated don't through the baby out with the bath water. It is a child's highly specialized and delimited state of being a form of property, which give parents the right to raise their children, giving parents the right to decide how to feed, clothe, shelter, school their children. (Granted as we progressively loose our property rights, we also, loose our rights as parents to decide what's best for our children.) Otherwise, the opposite is literally a system of collectivism, where the rights to one's property does not exist. A notable feature of collectivism being that parents of children do not have a right to dispose of their children, i.e., to decide on their behalf. Rather, the state disposes of children for the good of the collective. The limitations of the hybrid-property rights arise because of the consideration of the full nature of the child. It is because children are known to be immature humans that they are only granted a sub-set of legal rights; whereas their parents maintain the majority of rights to make decisions on the child's behalf. Why? Because the child is not able to make decisions for themselves. Acknowledging that children in their hybrid-state of being immature adults, gives rise to a highly delimited form of property rights to the parents of children thereof does not have some evil consequences. It is not as if having such a delimited form of property rights allows parents to legally murder their children, or eat them, exploit and/or prostitute them. Further, it is not as if parents having a highly limited form of property rights over their children necessarily removes the child's rights, which they are not capable of exercising. But as the child becomes more aware, more fully rational and able to make their own decisions, we socially and legally began granting children more rights. In certain cases a child can petition the court for emancipation, at which point the parents limited right to dispose of the child is legally broken, and the child is considered and adult and able to dispose of themselves. Parents can and do "dispose" of their children, i.e, can and do make decisions as to what their child will and will not do. When the nature of the property is different, if the property is a car or a dog for example, certain limitations to the range of how the owner (parent) can dispose of the property are legally upheld. We do not yet have car cruelty statutes but in most states we have animal cruelty statutes (see Michael Vick case). Whereas on the flip side, people are allowed to keep live stock to slaughter and eat, but not if those live stocks are dogs and cats. It is in the legal and cultural considerations of the precise nature of the "property" being owned that give rise to limitations to the ownership. In the case of children, being potential rational/responsible adults, has given rise to a complex system of rights and cultural norms regarding how parents are expected to raise their children. Parents can not starve, beat, kill, prostitute, sexually abuse, their children. These (and many others) are the limitations on their right to dispose of their children as they see fit. But within the social and legal limits, parents have great latitude to dispose of their children as they see fit. They can choose when and where their children will go, who they will associate with, where they will live, what they will eat, where they will go to school etc. etc. etc. How are they legally and morally able to dispose of their children in such ways? "Their" children are "theirs," i.e., their children are in fact a highly-limited form of property. If you don't believe this try to tell any given parent how to parent their children. You will illicit the same response (only more potent) as if you had told them how they should drive "their" car, how they should keep "their" yard, how they should where "their" clothes etc. etc. etc. Parents are "possessive" over their children. For the same reason why the are possessive over any of their possessions. The difference is that children grow up, and are able to eventually decide for themselves. It is in the assertion of these specialized property rights which characterized the universal nature of adolescence, and the fundamental conflict between teen agers and their parents. Parents assert they have the right to dispose of their children and the children counter, stating they can run their own lives. It is precisely the love for one's property, which characterize parental love, and the lengths most loving parents will go to protect, and raise their child to the best of their ability. For most it is the most valuable property they have, and they spend most of their lives planning on the disposal of their children, i.e., how to put their children in the best position they can as those children leave their hybrid-state and become fully autonomous adults.
  24. Yes, in fact they ARE animals! Just like like adults. That is our genus, i.e., man is properly defined as the rational (differentia) animal (genus). You are not considering the full context. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. :-)
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