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Posts posted by Nicko0301

  1. The discussions of the concept value, of the particular values proper to man, etc are quite extensive in the Objectivist literature. There are a few things to consider.

    First, Rand starts laying down her ethical system by examining the concept "value." It is therefore important to understand that in her epistemology, concepts are formed as abstractions of concretes; they are formed from observations of reality. From observing reality, therefore, Rand came to the conclusion that values ("goal-directed action" can be used synonymously here) are inherently tied to the phenomenon of life. Life, because of the way that it is, inherently requires that values exist, because life is something that has to be upkept and maintained by the organism which is doing the living, and this always and everywhere requires acting to gain or keep things (values).

    So we have that the concept of value is inseparable from the phenomenon of life. All living things pursue values (it's part of staying alive). From observation, we can also see that only living things pursue values. Nothing else that we've observed in this universe is capable of acting for goals, except living things. The closest thing to a counterexample would probably be sophisticated man-made machines and computer programs, but we'll leave aside those in this discussion. Value is always and everywhere a biological phenomenon.

    The particular part which values play in life is, generally, to further the life of the organism. Plants and animals act towards goals which are important for them to stay alive. Even in the example of animals, we can already think of instances where values (in the sense of what the animal actually pursues) are not actually life-furthering. A dog eats a piece of chocolate as part of goal-directed action, but the result is that the dog becomes ill. Values are generally oriented towards life, but the orientation is not perfect, and there is nothing that the animal can do to change it. It cannot even consciously recognize the end to which its actions are oriented. However, this example does not refute the fact that values are required to sustain life; it merely shows that only certain actions will work towards that goal, while others will not. The concept of value is still intimately related to the concept of life.

    Man, in addition to automatic values, must hold conscious values. Again, the particular things a man pursues can be life-furthering or life-hindering. However, it is still true that if he wants to further his life, he needs values. It simply must be added that he needs the correct values, which is why he needs ethics to tell him what those are.

    The Objectivist claim that value and life are intimately connected is not refuted by the presence of goal-oriented behavior, by animal or man, which is detrimental to the actor. Rather, it is precisely this possibility that gives rise to the need of ethics in the first place.

    Thank you for elucidating this subject for me. Your explanation was enormously helpful.

  2. You are equating the fact that something is done with the idea that it's right. You should know very well that that's not how things work. Just because someone lies, steals, and murders people, does not mean that it's proper for him to do so.

    I never asserted that an action is moral because one has the desire to perform aforementioned action; please don't distort what I said. I simply wanted to explore why, given that life is what makes possible the concept of value, people purposely and consciously value things which are manifestly opposed to the furtherance and sustenance of life.

  3. I just have one brief question concerning the subject of value.

    According to Objectivism, "An organism's life is the standard of value: that which which furthers its life is the good, that which threatens it is the evil." (OPAR pg. 212) Initially--after reading the arguments in support of this conclusion--I found this statement to be incontrovertible. However, after some deliberation, a question arose in my mind: If life is the standard of value, why do people often value things which are inimical to the preservation of life (e.g., drugs, alcohol, etc.)? It seems to me that many people often value things, not because they are conducive to the maintenance of life, but because they engender momentary pleasure (as in the case of drug addicts). Can anyone offer any insights? Does this in some way refute the Objectivist theory of value?

    As always, thanks in advance.

  4. If one billiard ball strikes another, what causes the subsequent movement of the struck billiard ball? I know that only entities act, but surely it wasn't the first billiard ball which engendered the motion of the second? Isn't the act of hitting the second billiard ball what causes the hit billiard ball to move?

  5. I was reading Bertrand Russell's The History of Western Philosophy. In it, Russell intimated, with what seems to be disdain, that Aristotle's Logic, though seminal and admirable, is obsolete; and that one mustn't neglect recent advancements in aforesaid field. This prompted a bit of curiosity in me, for I am trying to learn how to reason properly.

    My question is this: What works do you feel are important in regard to Logic? And, incidentally, would you consider Aristoteleanism as antiquated?

    Thanks :P

  6. Berkeley's argument was about God, but God can be dropped in the Copenhagen/quantum mechanics version of this fallacy.

    It is false. Because it is about such a deep issue, proving it is false is tricky, and strictly speaking impossible. We now know it is false because of a very compact argument: It contradicts the primacy of existence principle. Primacy of existence is axiomatic, not proven but validated.

    Excuse me if this sounds foolish, but, in this context, what is the distinction between "proven" and "valid"?

  7. Berkely argued that "to be is to be perceived"; and that, when things are not so perceived, they continue to exist because God, being ubiquitous, perceives all that exists simultaneously.

    Firstly: What do you think of this argument?

    Secondly (and this is a question with which I have grappled for months): How do we know that things exist prior to perceiving them? How do we know that the act of perception does not somehow change the identity of things?

    Thanks in advance. :D

  8. There is no actual phenomenal world, the real world which is absolute and common to all is the noumenal world. The phenomenal world is constructed by consciousness in the act of perceiving, and that construction takes places by employing the prior structures of consciousness (the categories) to make sense of appearances. Any commonality in experience, any objectivity, is due to common categories of knowledge.

    Is that what you actually believe, or is that merely what Kant said?

  9. I've become extremely interested in the history of Western Philosophy and have therefore determined to study it. So, my question is simply this: Have you listened to the lecture, and, if so, would you recommend it? Is his lecture biased in anyway? I mean, I know that, since he is an Objectivist, he probably disdains most of the philosophies and philosophers of history; but does he distort or mislead in any way?

    Thanks in advance.

  10. That was precisely the point of my last sentence. As we're growing up, I think most of us really do believe in space, time, and causality, to the extent that we think of them at all, from a purely empirical standpoint, which is not sufficient as proof of anything beyond the fact that specific observations were made, and have not yet been contradicted. This could lead one to surmise that, as you said, the universe that exists is quite different from the one we perceive. I don't think Kant ever clarified in exactly what manner it would be different, but that's understandable, since he claimed it's unknowable anyway.

    Logically, however, to exist is to possess an identity, and to possess identity is to have attributes. The attributes of an existent are expressed by the manner in which that existent interacts with other things that exist, which possess their own identities. This leads to the Objectivist law of causality, that entities behave according to their identities. As conscious entities existing in reality, it is impossible and contradictory to state that we can perceive anything except reality, however unique may be our manner of perception with respect to some other conscious entity. Anything that affects our perceptions is necessarily, and by definition, part of reality. Therefore we are indeed perceiving reality as it really is.

    I hope I explained that clearly enough; it's been a minute since I last read Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology. If you're still uncertain, I recommend you read it for yourself, though I would be happy to continue this conversation as well; I need the practice.

    Thank you! You actually just clarified the matter perfectly for me! I had forgotten about the Law of Identity and what that meant in regard to Causality.

  11. With regard to Kant's philosophy, I think intrinsic (belonging to a thing by its very nature) would be a better word than inherent (existing in someone or something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality, or attribute). I don't think there's anything in Objectivist philosophy that refutes the idea of a mind having inherent qualities, but Ayn Rand did argue quite a bit against intrinsic knowledge, which is the same as causeless. For instance, my primary means of approaching problems is inherently analytical, but that is because of, not prior to, my experiences and education. Most peoples' minds do indeed share a great many inherent similarities in the manner in which knowledge about the universe is organized; communication would be very nearly impossible, or at least much less efficient, were that not so. It does not follow, however, that those patterns are present from birth. Rather, the similarities in our understanding reflect the fact that we are all attempting to understand the same reality based on inputs from the same five basic senses.

    I just cracked open Critique of Pure Reason again for the purpose of answering this question, and the most coherent example of Kant's that I can find after a quick perusal is mathematics. He claims that understanding of basic mathematical truths is necessarily a priori, since we cannot define which experiences led to those truths. I would respond that those truths are inherent in reality, not intrinsic to the mind. Any healthy human mind would of course readily accept the proposition that things equal to the same thing are equal to each other, not because we are born with the knowledge, but because every experience we have of reality reinforces that proposition. Furthermore, once one gains a certain degree of philosophical clarity, it becomes evident that existence itself would not be possible were it not true.

    Thank you a for the extensive reply. However, I still have some questions, so let me be more specific. In Kant's view--if I am not mistaken--things like space, time and causality are in the mind, as opposed to immanent features of reality. If he is correct, wouldn't reality be much, much different to the way which we perceive it to be?

  12. If I am not mistaken, Kant postulated that inherent in the human mind are several categories which shape the way we experience reality. I was just wondering, what is the Objectivist stance on this subject? I am certain that Objectivists repudiate such a theory, but I want to know why they do.

    Thanks in advance.

  13. You mean not just a lack of conclusive evidence, but the lack of even a ray of evidence, right? A counter-question: in the face of a lack of even a ray of evidence, does dwelling on the particular assertion warrant your time in any way? If so, how? If not, then what is dismissal other than not wasting one's time?

    Well, I just feel uncomfortable. I'd like to know that something is disproven before I dismiss it.

  14. Ok, so I have read OPAR, including the section pertaining to Reason and the arbitrary. But I'm still unsatisfied with my understanding. Suppose someone states something really bizarre and unfounded (such as, "There are dragons in my room"). Is the lack of evidence really enough to warrant dismissal? If something has no evidence, couldn't it still be possible, no matter how bizarre?

  15. We experience the world.

    But perception does not fit into a theory of experience. A theory of experience means using experience as a genus in which perception is an instance on par with other kinds of experiences such as memory, dreams, imagination and hallucination. But the only similarity that can be found among them is in the state-based interpretation of consciousness. That says that what is experienced must be contained in the experiential state, and the state of the perceiver is the state of a subject. Considered as a state of a perceiver, any perceptual experience could occur with just the same content in either the presence or absence of an external object. But there is no basis for this interpretation of mental states, it is an assumption which is compatible with that Cartesian metaphysical dualism that holds mind and matter are two separate and independent realms. Cartesian dualism forbids the possibility that it is the presence of an external object which necessarily causes a mental state. Perception is a case of exactly that possibility.

    The true genus of perception is awareness. Awareness is the relationship between existence and consciousness. Awareness can discriminated into types on the basis of its objects. Perception is awareness of the external world. Introspection is awareness of the contents of the mind. Interoception is the awareness of the body.

    The objects of awareness of introspection are not primaries, they are necessarily and chronologically derivative of awareness of the external world. The external world exists first, then perception of it, then memories, and only then is introspection possible. The primacy of existence principle points out that necessary relationship between consciousness and existence where in contrast metaphysical dualism asserts independence, the denial of a necessary relationship.

    I've been taking a christmas break from my notes project on Kelley's book on perception (new computer, new games!), but the next chapter is the definition of perception. My notes are complete, they just need to be organized a bit and typed up.

    Thanks, Grames! I'm looking forward to it!

  16. Your question is really about the verb "experience", I would say. You experience the world, which is necessarily via perceptions. If someone started saying things like "Yesterday, I experienced the perception of the most excruciating pain when I passed a kidney stone", you'd think they were nuts. It's like saying strange things such "I saw the visual image of a dog", "I heard the sound waves of my neighbor" etc. Or worse, "I became aware of the mental state arising from light hitting an apple and selectively reflecting particular wavelengths in the direction of my eye, which struck the cones inside my eye and caused a cascade of neuro-chemical events traveling up to my visual cortex". I.e. "I saw an apple".

    Man has direct knowledge of the external world. We actually see apples and hear dogs. We experience the world. Directly.

    Thank you for the reply, DavidOdden. This is my main misunderstanding in regard to Objectivism.

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