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Boydstun

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  1. TIME - December 19, 1969 Rand analyzed this linked article, its predictions and old-cant-as-new. She quoted the prediction by Fuller, shown on the linked page. After appearance of his name, she inserted the parenthetical satire: “a bright young man of 75.” (The Left: Old and New, in The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution.) I’ve had the impression in the decades since then that Fuller’s geodesic dome form and the name chemists thereupon gave to their carbon-60 “buckyball” (and the name for subsequent pure-carbon inventions “fullerenes”) have been the salient traces of him in the public eye. I don’t know if the fictional character Roark was talked about in the architecture school of the technological institute I attended in the early ’80’s. But in a professional ethics course I took as part of engineering, the professor had the class first spend three weeks reading The Fountainhead on their own. He then conducted his lectures using things that occur in the novel as well as in real history to make his points (dramatically, vividly).
  2. I plan to compare and assess, here or in a thread supervening this one, Dewey’s take with Rand’s concerning: Are percepts/perceptions cognitive?—relation to “experience.” Are percepts organic responses?—mind/world unity without idealism. Dewey’s categories, by any other name. Also, more on concepts. Dewey’s anti-foundationalism—why, yet basing all in experience.
  3. Dewey writes: “To say that to see a table is to get an indication of something to write on is in no way to say that the perception of a table is an inference from sensory data. To say that certain earlier perceived objects not having as perceived the character of a table have now ‘fused’ with the results of inferences drawn from them is not to say that the perception of the table is now an inference” (1916, 252). Dewey and Rand are in accord on that picture. In further agreement with Rand’s conception of perception, Dewey opposed the Peircean doctrine that perceptions are immediate outcomes of inferences going on in the subconscious. “There is a great difference between saying that the perception of shape affords an indication for an inference and saying that the perception of shape is itself an inference. That definite shapes would not be perceived, were it not for neural changes brought about in prior inferences, is a possibility; it may be, for aught I know, an ascertained fact. Such telescoping of a perceived object with the object inferred from it may be a constant function; but in any case the telescoping is not a matter of a present inference going on unconsciously, but is the result of an organic modification which has occurred in consequence of prior inferences.” (ibid.) Peirce had held that although perceptions are direct (1868a, 31; 1871, 84; 1878, 120; 1901, 62), they are interpretations (1871, 85; 1903, 229), a semi-automatic sort of inference (1868b, 42–51, 57, 62, 67–68, 70; 1871, 85; 1877, 96–98; 1891b, 207–11; 1905, 204–7) conditioned by previous cognitions (1868a, 36–38; 1878, 120). "In perception, the conclusion has the peculiarity of not being abstractly thought, but actually seen, so that it is not exactly a judgment, though it is tantamount to one. . . . Perception attains a virtual judgment, it subsumes something under a class, and not only so, but virtually attaches to the proposition the seal of assent" (1891b, 208–9; also, 1901a 62). Our subconscious abductive inferences in the process that is perception coalesce smoothly into articulate perceptual judgments which are forced upon our acceptance (1903a, 210–11, 227). I think Dewey and Rand are correct in replacing Peirce’s characterization of the process of percept-formation as subconscious inferences. More plausible, under the present knowledge of brain processing, is that the process of percept-formation is by brain integration of sensory and motor experience of things, and that this process can to some extent undergo organic adaptation under further experience of a thing and habituation. Rand thought of that enriching adaptation in humans as arising from injection of some of our conceptual grasps of a perceptual object and its wider contexts into subsequent percepts of the object. I think, however, we should not stop with only conceptual injections as instigating the perceptual adaptations. I sense that in my perceptions of our pear tree, I bring some conceptual knowledge that is alienable only in thought from my perception of the tree. Such would be that there is the fruit that are pears hanging from the tree, which can become ripe enough for human consumption, and that once upon a time some unknown humans planted this tree here next to the house to enjoy the blooms in spring and perhaps to get to eat the pears. There is additional conceptual knowledge about this tree, knowledge not so general about pear trees, and apparently not so run into my adult perception of this tree. Such would be my knowledge that soon I’ll be needing to trim the tree and that, as a matter of fact, the squirrels will eat all the pears before they are ripe enough for human consumption. Mature squirrels come and investigate the tree for edibility of the pears as the pears develop. When the time is right, the sufficiently mature squirrels are adept at harvest. The point I want to stress about this is that the immature squirrels must undergo organic enriching adaptation in their sensory and motor elements bound in percepts under more and more experience and habituation in order to perceive the pear tree as would an adult squirrel. I do not think squirrels are conceptual animals. What is that non-conceptual injection into percept-formation that results in enriched percepts of the pear tree as the squirrel matures into an adult? I suggest that that injection is attainment of action-schemata, which are an attainment we have in our own human development by the time of language onset and which continue to undergird our conceptual life.* Dewey strikes the distinction between percepts and concepts in the following way, which I think is at least an important part of the distinction. “[A concept] is a mode or way of mental action, . . . . It can be grasped only in and through the activity which constitutes it. . . . The concept is general, not particular. Its generality lies in the very fact that it is a mode of action, a way of putting things or elements together. A cotton loom is particular in all its parts; every yard of cloth produced is particular, yet the way in which the parts go together, the function of the loom is not particular. “The concept of triangle contains not less but more than the percept. It is got, not by dropping traits, but by finding out what the real traits are. “It is true that certain features are excluded. But this dropping out of certain features is not what gives rise to the concept. On the contrary, it is on the basis of the concept, the principle of construction, that certain features are omitted. “The concept, in short, is knowledge of what the real object is [Hegel talk here, but with new meaning in progress towards instrumentalism: not idealist]—the object taken with reference to its principle of construction; while the percept . . . is knowledge of the object in a more or less accidental or limited way. “It must, however, be added that the concept always[?] returns into and enriches the percept, so that the distinction between them is not fixed but moveable.” (1891, 145) (To be continued.) References Dewey, J. 1891. How Do Concepts Arise from Percepts? In volume 3 of Dewey 1969. ——. 1916. Logic of Judgments of Practice. In Essays in Experimental Logic. University of Chicago Press. ——. 1969. John Dewey: The Early Works. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. Hoopes, J. editor, 1991. Peirce on Signs: Writings on Semiotic by Charles Sanders Peirce. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Houser, N., editor, 1998. The Essential Peirce. Volume 2. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Peirce, C.S. 1868a. Questions Concerning Certain Faculties Claimed for Man. In Wiener (W) 1958. ——. 1868b. Some Consequences of Four Incapacities (W). ——. 1869. Grounds of Validity of the Laws of Logic: Further Consequences of Four Incapacities. In Hoopes (H) 1991. ——. 1871. Critical Review of Berkeley's Idealism (W:74–88) (H:116–40). ——. 1877. The Fixation of Belief (W). ——. 1878. How to Make Our Ideas Clear (W). ——. 1891a. The Architecture of Theories (W). ——. 1891b. Review of William James' Principles of Psychology (H). ——. 1901. Pearson's Grammar of Science. In Houser (EP) 1998. ——. 1903. Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism (EP). ——. 1905. Issues of Pragmaticism (W). Wiener, P.P., editor, 1958. Charles S. Peirce: Selected Writings. New York: Dover.
  4. Painter and Objectivist, Robert Malcolm, has recently died.
  5. Poem -2019 / Photo -2010 (click on photo)
  6. Christopher Klein “Early on the morning of April 29, North Vietnamese troops shelled Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut Air Base, killing two U.S. Marines guarding the defense attaché office compound. Corporal Charles McMahon and Lance Corporal Darwin Judge were the last of approximately 58,000 American servicemen killed in action in the Vietnam War. After surveying the air base damage, Martin conceded the time had come to leave Saigon, but with sea lanes blocked and commercial and military aircraft unable to land, the ambassador’s delays forced the United States into its option of last resort—a helicopter airlift.” “While plans called for the extraction of only Americans, Martin insisted that Vietnamese government and military officials and support staff also be evacuated.” “While approximately 10,000 people clamored outside the embassy gates, marine guards faced the unenviable task of deciding who would be saved and who would be left behind.” “With some pilots flying for 19 hours straight, the American military had carried out an incredible evacuation of 7,000 people, including 5,500 Vietnamese, in less than 24 hours.” “Hours after the departure of the last helicopter from the embassy, North Vietnamese tanks smashed through the gates of the Independence Palace. . . . officially ending the two-decade-long Vietnam War.” One poster here was in US military service in that war. It was from him years ago I learned the quip from Mark Twain: “History does not repeat itself. But it rhymes.”
  7. Rand’s conception of what is a percept did not end with her remarks on it at the beginning of ITOE. She wrote in her 1970 essay “The Comprachicos” the following: “A mind’s cognitive development involves a continual process of automatization. For example, you cannot perceive a table as an infant perceives it—as a mysterious object with four legs. You perceive it as a table, i.e, a man-made piece of furniture, serving a certain purpose belonging to a human habitation, etc.; you cannot separate these attributes from your sight of the table, you experience it as a single, indivisible percept—yet all you see is a four-legged object; the rest is an automatized integration of a vast amount of conceptual knowledge which, at one time, you had to learn bit by bit. The same is true of everything you perceive or experience; as an adult, you cannot perceive or experience in a vacuum, you do it in a certain automatized context . . . .” (193) I want to urge a certain interpretation of Rand’s term percept in this paragraph. One does not need to overtly or silently say “table” in one’s perception of the table as a table, as a man-made thing providing a surface above the floor or ground on which to set things. Without language one can have formed “certain reactions which have become habitual, i.e., automatized” (194). Furthermore, as an adult competent in a natural language, I do not need to produce the word table or function to add another book to the piles of them already here on the computer table. (I hope to be able to continue before the end of this month with more on Dewey [and other Pragmatists] concerning perception fitted within their wider framework in comparison to Objectivism on that subject.) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In the initial post of this thread, I mentioned my favorite statement from Dewey, which I had encountered in my 1999 research. I came across it again in the present research. It is from Dewey’s 1912 paper “Perception and Organic Action” which appeared in The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods (V9N24). I notice one term should be in italics: “In perception we live reality itself.”
  8. I was pleased with the shift in US foreign policy delineated in the President's speech of 31 August. I was disappointed, however, to see that we shall be sending humanitarian aid to Afghanistan through the US government. We do not owe them anything collectively in the sense of pertinent causal responsibility. It is not the US war there that caused, in the responsibility-sense, the coming dire straits of that country. Many countries, including Afghanistan, have the potential to produce enough to feed themselves and advance themselves were their country to wake up one morning and find that all the other countries in the world had vanished, leaving only ocean around the globe beyond their own borders. Also, I'd bet that such humanitarian aid that well-off countries give to other countries is very often meted out in such a way as to reinforce power of the particular political regime of the day, not merely to fill needs of all people equally. And of course, because of the coercive way in which governmental charities are funded and because we are not and should not be an empire (such as the old British Empire) and because the proposition that governmental foreign humanitarian aid improves protection against foreign attacks on the US is a falsehood and a lie: governmental humanitarian foreign aid is wrong in complete generality.
  9. I find SL's line of thought in his post above intriguing. I incline to think nonetheless so far that there is some sense to the idea that an entire society of slaves to the State, such as was the Soviet Union, did create wealth, when we mean simply their GNP or GDP. Granted that, it would seem the urgent natural question becomes whether such a society in which the State owns and manages everything creates more wealth, has a greater GDP, in comparison to the same peoples and region were the society organized instead with private ownership. East and West Germany seemed a rather definitive answer, as pointed out by JFK in his "Let them come to Berlin" speech. I notice for the American history an informative argument No, Slavery Did Not Make America Rich.
  10. From David Brooks NYT 27 August 2021 “This is How Theocracy Shrivels” Extemporaneous from Pres. Biden on last minute question of news conference of 26 August 2021
  11. 26 August 2021 Behind bombing at Kabul airport: ISIS-K info 19 August 2019 AP THREATENING THE WEST Authorities have made at least eight arrests in the United States linked to the IS affiliate in Afghanistan. One was Martin Azizi-Yarand, the 18-year-old Texan who plotted a 2018 attack on a suburban mall and who said he was inspired by IS and was preparing to join the affiliate. The group’s brutal tactics have been on vivid display inside Afghanistan for years. Residents who fled areas captured by the group describe a reign of terror not unlike the one seen in Syria and Iraq at the height of IS’s power. The Afghan affiliate has been based in eastern Nangarhar province, a rugged region along the border with Pakistan, but it also has a strong presence in northern Afghanistan and has of late expanded into neighboring Kunar province, where it could prove even harder to dislodge. The mountainous province provided shelter for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden for nearly a year following the Taliban’s ouster from power in late 2001, and U.S. forces struggled for years to capture and hold high-altitude outposts there. ___ TURNING TO THE TALIBAN In recent months the Taliban have said they have no ambitions to monopolize power in a post-war Afghanistan, while IS is committed to overthrowing the Kabul government on its path to establishing a global caliphate. The Taliban and IS are sharply divided over ideology and tactics, with the Taliban largely confining their attacks to government targets and Afghan and international security forces. The Taliban and IS have fought each other on a number of occasions, and the Taliban are still the larger and more imposing force. They’re currently at their strongest since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, and effectively control half the country. Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy, has held several rounds of talks with the Taliban in recent months in a bid to end America’s longest war. The two sides appear to be closing in on an agreement in which the U.S. would withdraw its forces in return for a pledge from the Taliban to keep the country from being used as a launch pad for global attacks. But a deal could prompt an exodus of more radical Taliban fighters to join IS. That process is already underway in parts of northern and eastern Afghanistan, where the Taliban have attacked IS only to lose territory and fighters to the rival extremist group.
  12. Moderna Trials of HIV Vaccine Starting
  13. Sidney Hook's Place in the History of Pragmatism Sidorsky and Talisse (2018)
  14. I've not yet found a copy of its finale, but here is a window: The Man Who Laughs
  15. To the list Spencer/Bergson/Piaget bringing differentiation/integration onto the epistemological stage prior to Rand, I see we should add also this fellow: “Were thought at once synthetic and analytic, differentiating and integrating in its own nature, . . . ” (167). “We have seen that the desired object is a theory of the Conceptions of Reason in an organic system, and that Reason is itself both integrating and differentiating” (173). John Dewey - “Kant and Philosophic Method” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy - V18N2 (April, 1884)
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