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Everything posted by dougclayton

  1. One minute too late--I guess hit the preview button one time too many.
  2. Soulsurfer, I realize this question was directed at Stephen, but I'm eager to offer an answer before everyone else here says it better than me. A relationship is more than just a measurement by a consciousness. (Similarly, to use the physical property most referenced on this thread, mass is not merely a measurement humans make.) If, for instance, a ball is on a table, the relationship ON exists independently of any observers. Now it's true that no one will ever know of the relationship unless they observe it, but that doesn't mean the particular arrangement of molecules is any less an ON relationship. Or to use an historical example: the relation of the earth to the sun (that the earth revolves AROUND the sun) existed long before any humans appeared to measure it. It did not suddenly jump into existence simply because we looked at the sky and figured it out. No. Platonism says that abstractions (that is, Forms) exist in an independent reality, which we poorly perceive when we observe concrete instances. For example, we look at a particular rock, and we get a dim comprehension of the notion of "rock." This is wrong: we look at several rocks, omit the differences, and arrive at the concept "rock." Now the concept "rock" does not exist independently of a consciousness--there were quite literally no concepts on Earth before humans evolved--but the individual rocks do. Similarly, while the concept of relationship did not exist until humans did, all of the particular concrete relationships did. While I can't speak for Stephen, I believe this is what he means when he says: (Stephen, if I made any mistakes above, I would love to know where I went wrong.) Now onto my final point: In this example you bring in relationships that involve consciousness, as in "my mind perceives existence," and so of course that relationship would not exist without consciousness. But that's like saying the ball-on-the-table relationship above wouldn't exist if there were never any balls or tables--true, but beside the point.
  3. Source, axioms are "self-evident" philosophically (not requiring antecedent proof), but that does not make them "obvious": not every person will automatically understand or follow them. In fact it took the genius of Aristotle to fully articulate identity (and existence?) and the genius of Rand (I think) to first fully articulate the axiom of consciousness. Even now, after they have been stated so unequivocally, most people still contradict them at some point in their thinking. That is the reason they must be explicitly stated, and explicitly checked. It is true that after you come to fully understand them, you can automatically follow them with no conscious effort on your part, in the same way that you can learn to add automatically. But that does not mean that rules of addition have no point, which (I believe) was the point punk was making when he asked, "If these "axioms" aren't used in deduction, then what is the point?"
  4. As a check on your conclusions. If you come to a conclusion that something is A and not A in the same respect and at the same time, you can know you are wrong because of the axiom of identity. If you come to the conclusion that, say, consciousness does not exist since it cannot be weighed in a laboratory, you can know you are wrong because of the axiom of consciousness.
  5. True. That is the aspect in which they are unassailable. This does not follow. Person A can deny the consciousness of person B (and may be right in certain circumstances), but person A cannot deny his own consciousness, and therefore of the existence of consciousness. The axiom is "consciousness exists," not "person X is conscious."
  6. I agree with your intention here, but I think it might not be correct to say that all men have a rational faculty. Conceivably a baby could be born with no more than a spinal cord (and therefore no rational faculty); while it would certainly be called "vegetative," it would still be a human baby, not a literal plant. I highly recommend Don Watkins' article on "broken units" (http://angermanagement.mu.nu/archives/021378.html). He addresses exactly this issue in a novel manner. [Edit: my recommendation is not pointed at Tom or anyone else on this thread. I just think it's a good article worth reading.]
  7. I did a quick search on "nominalism", and I found this site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominalism (granted it is wikipedia and thus not an authority on philosophy). It presents the same false dichotomy you do: universals exist (a la Plato), or universals "are no more than words we use to describe specific objects; they do not name identify anything real, and have no real existence beyond our imaginations." Neither of these is true, as I said in my previous post. Universals do not exist in a Platonic realm, but neither are they "no more than words". Their existence is more than just our "imagination": there really are concrete horses, and they really do all share certain characteristics that makes the concept real. Abstractions (oh, I'm sorry, I mean "words") are not subjective. Or, to take your form: the universal is the concept, but I don't think this makes me a nominalist.
  8. I don't know if it is still alive now. I suspect not. I was a member for about 7 years (1996-2003), and the quality as well as the quantity of posts went completely downhill. I switched to HBL, which cost twice as much but far more than twice as good. I recommend it instead.
  9. Your first statement is correct, but you do not follow that in the following sentences. The mistake you are making is that "unicorn" exists in your head in two forms: first, you have an image of a unicorn (or several different unicorns), all with four legs, a horn, and probably shimmery skin (at least that's how I picture them). Second, you have the concept of a unicorn, which sums them all up into the notion of "a horse with a horn". So the idea (meaning "concept") of a unicorn does not have horns, any more than the idea of horses has legs. But the horses themselves do have legs, and the unicorns themselves--though they exist only in paintings and stories--have horns. "Unicorns do not exist" assumes a context that you are ignoring. That context is "apart from man-made fiction," which is what people mean when they say something doesn't exist. However, unicorns most certainly do exist--as fictional creatures. As contrast, "berofleeps" do not exist in any way--I just made up that word, and have supplied no existents, whether man-made or existing in nature, to indicate what it refers to. Therefore that is nothing but a sound. Gadfly is correct: the "universal" is the concept. Thus your first statement is equivalent to "concepts are concepts. Concepts of concepts are concepts of concepts." Your statement is true, but does not alter gadfly's point. The "question of universals" is really a question of "what are concepts, are they valid, and where do they come from?" Throughout history, philosophers have given quite different answers to these questions, but all the ones I am familiar with have agreed that the concept is the universal. Plato, for instance, said concepts/universals exist as Forms in another realm, and enter our mind when we (poorly) perceive this realm (this is his cave analogy). Aristotle said that concepts/universals exist in reality, but enter our mind via direct perception (via some special human faculty). Kant said that concepts/universals are in our mind due to our mind's structure, and that that is what shapes noumenal reality. Rand said that concepts/universals are based on specific concretes, but are the end result of integration based on "measurement omission" of the distinguishing characteristic(s). This is unclear. You say that "the red things themselves are universals" but the red things are concrete. I believe you meant to say "are NOT universals," but I am not sure. Therefore I don't know what "things" in your last sentence refers to. This is like asking "would sound exist?" (assuming we say all living creatures died tomorrow). In one sense, no: there's no one around hearing anything, nor is there anyone around forming/using the concept "red." In another sense, yes, sound waves are still being formed, and light is still being emitted/reflected with varying wavelengths. Beings can still arise and perceive the fact of varying wavelength and abstract away "redness" from it. Part of Rand's answer was that concepts are objective because they are neither solely intrinsic ("out there") nor solely subjective ("in here"). Instead, they are a relation between object and observer. Thus if you take away the observer, you have taken away half the relation, but that doesn't mean you have taken away everything. All the facts of reality that give rise to "redness" still exist. Your question ("does redness still exist?") is assuming the subjective/intrinsic dichotomy, and therefore does not have a simple yes/no answer.
  10. Just put down the thesaurus, man, and step away....no one has to get hurt....
  11. True, he did, but I was rather pleased by his response. It certainly didn't make me shout with joy, but on the other hand consider that nearly anyone else would have taken the time to call him a humanitarian or praise his "peace efforts." Bush, in contrast, said little more than "God bless his soul," which I think was just a tactful way to say "Good riddance." Damning with faint praise indeed.
  12. iTunes does not install spyware. I did a quick google search and found this as a major source of the claim: http://www.ipodlounge.com/forums/showthrea...&threadid=14706 The guy in that thread does not know what he is talking about. For the record, I am running iTunes on Windows and have purchased a few songs from them. I highly recommend iTunes Music Store. iTunes could be a better music player (I think winamp is the best), but it's pretty good.
  13. It isn't, from the point of view that both are admiring what they consider a description/personification of an ideal (caveat: I know little about Hinduism and would not have brought up Krishna on my own). It is, when you consider what that ideal is. But I don't fault a Hindu for admiring a fictional idea--I fault him for what that idea stands for. I have to say that it doesn't seem like you are trying to understand reality as much as you are trying to find ways to interpret words in argumentative way. The two different ways in which the word "real" can be used is easily understood by children. Once they understand the way that Rolie Polie Olie is "imaginary," they still understand that it's a real cartoon and that they really are watching it, not just making the whole thing up.
  14. The whole point of equivocation is that they are both "real" and "unreal," depending on the context. John Galt was never a "real human being," but he was a "real fictional character." John-Galt-the-protagonist-of-Atlas-Shrugged IS REAL (though John-Galt-the-flesh-and-blood-person" is not). His story is printed on real physical paper which you can buy at a real physical bookstore. The fact that it's written down in a book does not mean there was ever a human being named John Galt, but it does mean there is a fictional character named John Galt. The sense in which you mean "real" is "is this character a depiction of a human being?" While that is a legitimate use of the word "real," it is not the only one. My claim is that you are missing the relevant sense: John Galt is a real portrayal of a human, though not a real portrayal of a real human (as also opposed to John Rjieklfdjifeildsfdsfdnpow, who does not exist in any portrayal anywhere). So something that offers "plenty of value" can also be "self-deception"? How?
  15. You are equivocating on the meaning of "unreal" (or, equivalently, "real"). When you say that John Galt is "unreal," you mean it in the literary sense of "not a real human being that has ever lived." This has a legitimate use in characterizing fiction, and one may thus accurately say, in that context, "John Galt is not real." However, in the quote by Rand, she is using "unreal" in the sense of "never existing period" or "fantasy." John Galt does exist--as a fictional character in a novel--and fictional characters offer plenty of value, otherwise we wouldn't spend time reading about them. There are other things that do not exist--God, say--and that is what she is referring to. Because God is unreal, it can have no value, Pascal's wager not withstanding. (That doesn't mean the notion of God has no value--it could be used to demonstrate the fallacy of an omnipotent God. But the notion of God is not unreal: God is.) I don't see how this is the same.
  16. Well, you could play word games as to what "human" does and does not include, but it doesn't change one key fact: human or not, a fetus doesn't have rights because it is biologically intertwined with a living adult human, who does have rights. Saying a fetus has rights leads to logical absurdities. I think Betsy put it best: (By the way, thanks for that point, Betsy--it was invaluable for cementing my understanding of how a fetus simply does not have rights.) The nature of a fetus is a dependent organism, which is why "fetus liberation" will never go anywhere as a movement: even the most die-hard Christians realize that a fetus is completely dependent on a host and thus have no problem "imprisoning" it against its will for nine months. Of course, this has been debated extensively here already....
  17. I agree with others that you've bitten off quite a bit trying to prove the axiomatic nature of existence (to say nothing of consciousness and identity). One thing bothers me, though: the striking similarities between your proof and the phrasing of both Dr. Peikoff and Ayn Rand. The fact that you use the same sequence of words at several different points suggests that you have not grasped the argument as much as you have memorized it. Some examples (all emphasis mine): -------------------------------------- -------------------------------------- -------------------------------------- This reminds me of very good advice I read many years ago on OSG: you'll know you understand it when you find your own voice. A good example here, ironically, is OPAR: in re-reading it looking for the matching phrases, I came across all the concretization he used (tomatoes, for instance, instead of the abstract term "existents"). In contrast, the passages in your proof which don't seem to sound like OPAR are very "abstract" (in the sense of "floating")nvoluted: teBegin-DBCA+Sep 28 2004, 03:36 AM--> QUOTE(D64; Sep , 03:36 AM) By denying that thereethinsserting, "no, there is nothing" oieject matter about which something is trying to be determined. The objection requires that there be something in question about which one can disagree, an untrue statement about that thing to object to, as well as the objection&/b]stenteEnd--> This will not convince anyone but those who already agree with you or who are very interested in metaphysics. Everyone else will see this as just as arbitrary as any other philosophical argument.
  18. I wouldn't say this proves anything about reason. It's very helpful to concretize reason's absence, but an analogy is not a proof. Ignoring the Cartesian implications that Daniel rightfully pointed out, what you just described is what makes it an axiom. Anyone who says something is an illusion (including all of existence) is tacitly relying on the fact that there are things that exist that can be perceived, and therefore misperceived (an "illusion"). But that is what they are trying to deny. And the reason that "existence exists" is an axiom is because every argument against it has the same circularity. (That fact, by the way, is how you prove it is an axiom.) I wouldn't phrase it as "any other belief leads to a self-contradiction," because the lack of contradiction (with reality, not with your own beliefs) is what makes a statement right, not what makes it an axiom.
  19. What a stupid story. Couldn't the kid have just waved the driver down? Oh, I forgot, his crippled dyslexic little brother with a cleft palate and a lisp trumps everyone else's life.
  20. No, she's talking about a robot which cannot be destroyed or injured. In other words, for this robot, no action can enhance its existence, and no action can diminish its existence. Thus no action will make things worse or better. So what could it possibly value? Why would anything matter to it? AndrewSternberg's above concretization of this is quite illuminating.
  21. You should eat the orphan. Oh, I'm sorry, wrong "moral dilemma". The real answer is easy: You quit your job, drop every other commitment you had for the next year, and offer to help the scientist in any way you can 24-7 to help speed up the process or otherwise make another dose before your wife dies. What else would you do? Rob or kill the only man who understands how to save your beloved? Not rob the man and therefore sit around and wait for your supposed "one true love" to die? I think this dilemma nicely shows how lifeboat scenarios are completely separated from reality. To quote Leonard Peikoff:
  22. Well, given that I see your new avatar, I'd say the problem is that your browser is caching the old one. You can refresh the page, which should make the browser check every image on the current page for updates, or you could clear your entire cache.
  23. Actually, as long as we're being pedantic, y_feldblum said it correctly. In the sentence "I am I", the second "I" should be the nominative form because "to be" is a linking verb. Thus you have "Am I not I when...." (http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/verbs.htm#linking) In your sign off, however, it should be "don't trick me" because "trick" in this context is a transitive verb (it takes an object), which means the "me" should therefore be in objective form. And, of course, by some unwritten law of the internet, now that I have corrected someone else's grammar, I must have made at least one mistake in the above post. /former grammar nazi
  24. Stephen, I am confused by these two statements. In the first you say we don't observe the radical decay that one would expect from non-instantaneous gravitational propagation, but then you say that the gravitational field propagates at the speed of light (that is, non-instantaneously). Is this because the "solar system orbital dynamics" that you mention are Newtonian and one of the premises behind them is wrong? If you could point out what I am missing, I'd appreciate it. Doug
  25. Wow, that may be the most dense person I have ever read...so insistent, and yet so devoid of understanding. He simply does not understand the first thing about philosophy. In fact, it's so bad it makes me wonder if it is a deliberate parody by someone in agreement with Objectivism, in the same way that the Fellowship Baptist Creation Science Fair site (http://objective.jesussave.us/creationsciencefair.html) is a parody of Christians by some atheists.
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