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Everything posted by Boydstun

  1. One of the contributors is Lisa Downing who authored Selfish Women last year. (Scroll down at the link.) This thread so far is all I know so far about this new book due out in late November. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS - That Lisa Downing is philosopher at Birmingham, England, not the philosopher Lisa Downing at Ohio State.
  2. Forthcoming this year: https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030530723
  3. Tony, checking his 1999, Damasio is not on the team they cite for innate fear of snakes. But you can get his book, and study it for yourself if you seriously want to know his clinical and modern-research evidence for his models. Or not. Actually, I doubt you should (from your satisfaction) or will crack such books promising report of progress. Chat on. I don't have time for that.
  4. Highly recommended: “An Exploration of The Relationship between Reason and Emotions” by Marsha Enright in JARS V4N1 (Fall 2002)* — forty-three pages integrating psychological and neurological findings, including integration of Rand/Branden and Damasio. I first learned of Magda Arnold, a psychologist who struck a distinction between feeling and emotion, from Robert Efron's review of her book Emotion and Personality in The Objectivist (Jan. 1966). From that review: “Dr. Arnold makes an interesting, and to my knowledge, an original distinction between ‘feelings’ and ‘emotions’. Feelings, she states, are the positive (pleasurable) or negative (unpleasant) internal states which are the direct and immediate effects of sensory stimulation either from external or internal sources.They follow from appraisals of how sensations affect us. In contradistinction, emotion are reactions to the appraisal of perceptions. Whereas feelings follow from the effect of sensations on our body, emotions follow from appraisals of the phenomena of external reality. . . . Dr. Arnold develops her distinction very effectively when she traces the development of emotions from the simple feeling states of the newborn baby to the complex emotions of adult life.” Chapter 2 of Damasio 1999 is titled “Emotion and Feeling.” I attach a scan of Notes from Torres and Kamhi 2000, which includes historical connection of Rand, Branden, and Arnold and which gives glimpse of the integration of Objectivist thought with up-to-date research on emotions and consciousness included in their book What Art Is. (Click on image.)
  5. (Some classical philosophy, related to the following, though without modern neurobiology, is here at OO.) Tony, let’s open to page ten of that work The Feeling of What Happens. “You are looking at this page, reading the text and constructing the meaning of my words as you go along. But concern with text and meaning hardly describes all that goes on in your mind. In parallel with representing the printed words and displaying the conceptual knowledge required to understand what I wrote, your mind also displays something else, something sufficient to indicate, moment by moment, that you rather than anyone else are doing the reading and the understanding of the text. The sensory images of what you perceive externally, and the related images you recall, occupy most of the scope of your mind, but not all of it. Besides those images there is also this other presence that signifies you, as observer of the things imaged, owner of the things imaged, potential actor on the things imaged. There is a presence of you in a particular relationship with some object. If there were no such presence, how would your thoughts belong to you? . . . Later I shall propose that the simplest form of such a presence is also an image, actually the kind of image that constitutes a feeling. In that perspective, the presence of you is the feeling of what happens when your being is modified by the acts of apprehending something.” Sample page from this work:
  6. For anyone interested in these issues, I'd encourage getting in hand Damasio's layout of core/extended consciousness and core/extended self in The Feeling of What Happens. For introduction it is easy to view Antonio Damasio on his book Self Comes to Mind, especially 4, 5, 7.
  7. PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Kant IV-e -5- Peikoff writes: “For the Platonic essentialism, the Law of Contradiction is primarily and irreducibly a Law of Divine Thought; in consequence of this, it is a law in a number of further senses: Because God’s Intellect regulates the structure of the created world, it is a Law of Existence (and thus, in the descriptive sense, a Law of Human Thought as one of those created existents); and because God, by an act of direct illumination, communicates His knowledge of the Law to finite minds, it is therefore known by human minds, and thus acquires its status as a regulative or prescriptive Law of Human Thought.” (1964, 163) In the Platonic line, as in others, the descriptive sense in which PNC is a law for the human mind is not the sense in which it is a norm for the human mind. The descriptive sense is afoot upon saying such things as “geometrical proofs are one thing, and dialectic is another” or “proof of the irrationality of the length of a diagonal of a square to its side is one thing, and the Pythagorean theorem is another” or “twelve is one thing, and five plus seven is the same thing.” How is PNC given to the human mind as a norm, in the Platonic line? It is not a norm in God’s mind; that mind cannot violate the law or make any other sort of error. How does conferring PNC as descriptive law on all existence, including the human mind, confer PNC as a norm for the human mind? Enduring distinctness of what is and is not included in a class of things is taken to be a good thing by Platonists. Constant, distinct ideas are desired over ideas Platonists think could arise based only on the mutable realm of sensory experience. As Peikoff observes, Plato’s dialogues are explicit only about the human innateness and normative aspect of universal Forms. Later Platonists would add the innateness and normative aspect of subject-predicate relations between essences or classes (1964, 5n10, 30n80, 50). Platonists have it that PNC is clearly the way of things we cognize only in the intellectual realm of Forms and their relations; in the mixed, human realm of matter, sense, and intellect, PNC becomes a standard of inquiry, an aspiration.[1] For the Platonist, that standard can be available to us only by being innate with us. “How . . . can sense-perceptions suggest standards to which they do not themselves conform unless, as I should maintain Plato himself argues, a knowledge of those standards is innately within the mind? In virtue of what can a mind recognize the deficiency of the objects of its perceptions and transcend them, if it has no knowledge—even in unconscious form—prior to or apart from its perceptions?” (33n82). Platonists such as Leibniz and Cudsworth maintained that PNC must be operational in us to some degree in order for us to be thinking at all (10–12, 207–8). This does not land them, I say, in the predicament of Kant of having principles such as PNC necessary for thought proceeding at all, yet violation of the principle possible in our thought. The pre-Kantian Platonists have a hard-and-fast division of (i) the realm of eternal essences and eternal truths and (ii) the material, mutable world, in which we must bumble along consciously trying to adhere to the principles such as PNC in our thinking. By contrast, Kant has only his anemic Platonic gesture to a division of pure general logic and applied general logic joined with his untenable assertion that the latter with its empirical factors in thought is the sole place and factor of any logical errors. (To be continued.) Notes [1] Peikoff 1964, 43–45, 50–59, 138, 146–47, 154, 163, 188–211; 1967, 95; 1982, 17–18, 110; 1991, 29, 145–46, 158; 2012, 23–24, 27. References Peikoff, L. 1964. The Status of the Law of Contradiction in Classical Logical Ontologism. Ph.D. dissertation. New York University. ——. 1967. The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy. In Rand 1990. ——. 1982. The Ominous Parallels. New York: Stein and Day. ——. 1991. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton. ——. 2012. The DIM Hypothesis. New York: New American Library. Rand, A. 1990 [1966–67]. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Expanded 2nd edition. New York: Meridian.
  8. Sorry for the errors: The third sentence should have omitted "An attribute such as" and "it" should be "its". The second sentence in the third sentence should begin with "Her" not "Here". The last sentence should begin with "They" not "The".
  9. SR, There are concrete things that can only be identified by abstract thought. An example would be an electron or the magnetic field it generates if the electron is moving. An attribute such as the electron’s electric charge or it ability to produce a magnetic field are attributes. I suggest that faculties are just functional attributes. Functional items arise only in a biological setting. The mental is only within the biological. Those are positions of Rand (me too). As you know, in the ITOE, Rand called out a category of primary existents which she titled entities. Here other basic ontological categories called out there were actions, attributes, and relationships. In your quotation, she is saying that consciousness is an attribute, not an entity. By “certain sort of entity” she would mean certain animals. The attribute consciousness is a functional attribute, and such would seem reasonable to call faculties, continuous of a philosophic tradition of speaking of mental faculties. Faculties are powers, I’d say. If we spoke of the faculty of walking, we would not mean anything but the ability or power to walk. I imagine it’s just traditions of talking to typically say ability to walk or faculty of thought. It would be natural within Rand’s metaphysics, I’d say, to take primacy of existence to consciousness to be statement about a relationship. All of Rand’s fundamental categories—entity, action, attribute, and relationship—are existents. The latter three, as you know, are dependent on the first one, the primary form of existent. Rand took the solar system to be an entity. The biological consciousness-system could be an entity, and this is natural to call mind. It can be an entity set within a larger entity, just as the solar system. But mind is a functional system set within a larger array of functions of the animal. A self is that mind. Consciousness is sometimes not awareness of an awareness. It is just awareness of things not itself sometimes and most fundamentally. Some animals could have consciousness-selves without awareness of their consciousness-selves, I think. The question of how one identifies what constitutes one’s mind is something I’ll have to leave. For the answer, I’d look both to modern developmental cognitive psychology and to history of philosophy on the constitution of the mind: the Greeks, Arabs/Scholastics, early Moderns, right on through philosophers to now. Big project, that one! I think it is right to see consciousness as action, as attribute, or as to relationships. These fundamental categories do not have the exclusivity had by Aristotle’s categories. The can all be true characterizations of a thing, appropriate in different contexts of consideration.
  10. Thanks, Maggie Flash, for the stimulating perspective. I noticed in your remarks and in many of the ensuing remarks how highly the considerations of overall social utility compose the moral outlook. I think you are the only one so far to mention the concept of rights expressly in the moral assessment of what was done and should have been done. In basic political philosophy, I once saw a philosopher argue for the correctness of analysis by rights because that is a reliable way to ensure correct social utility assessments. Be that as it may, it surely does seem natural to think in both frames for the present fix. You mentioned people’s “rights to assess the risks for themselves, and act in accordance to what they feel is right. (Be that voluntary self-isolation and organisation [Brit!] of provision if you are a high risk group who will not take the risk, or simply carrying on as ever, if you wish to take the risk.)” There has been argued the further consideration from a rights standpoint of what rights others have to not have risks imposed on them by you. What the risks are has been unsettled and knowledge has been developing over these months concerning this virus previously unknown, at least as a human pathogen. I would not say that concern for the rights of others one may affect is best characterized as compassion or as an altruistic concern. Those are supererogotory moral principles farther from law in the present area than moral principles of rights and social utility (e.g.). Even taking into consideration both faces of the rights issue, and considering what we know about the spread and effects of the virus so far, I think you are right on what should have been done, and I think it should be the inclination of State orders going forward. In 1957 there was a new virus, which experts knew would be coming to the US, and it did so in April. It was a flu virus, a US lab had quickly developed a vaccine for it, and Walter Reed Hospital proved its effectiveness and safety, as I recall from reading about this a few months ago. The contagion swept across the country so fast that they could not possibly produce enough of the vaccine to help very much against that first wave. Ike got funding from Congress and shifted some other funds to ramp up production for the fall. That virus affected children especially badly, so many schools closed by absenteeism and the DC schools officially closed because it was so bad there. The Covid parallel is with the especially crummy risk for the elderly, and nursing homes have been some catastrophes. (Not in my town—these homes locked down very early.) Anyway, in that 1957-58 pandemic known as Asian flu, there was no general shutdown, and the economy continued pretty normal. Whereas in the current response (I really know mainly concerning the US), there was a major restriction of production together with massive extra-printing money for the firms and individuals forbidden to produce. I can see that some of this difference of response to 1957 stems from altruism and compassion, however, those are only part of the moral concern, as said above, and I think the really big factors differing the two responses are the following. Today people are a lot richer in the US and have much more news of things at their fingertips. In the archives of the New York Times, I’ve found very little 1957 reporting about the 1957 pandemic. We were deep in the Cold War (nukes on the ready ready), and it really seems there was more concern about the virus affecting our military personnel than about civilian impact. It just did not seem to be the big news item that it has been today, and I think that is from general greater affluence and the higher expectations that carries. That flu virus killed about 116,000 Americans in ’57-58, which scales up to about 200,000 for our present population. I wonder if the present pandemic is going to reach that 200,000 even after all the heavy precautions and horrifying economic sacrifice in ’20-21, only in a more throttled rate of flow to the cemetery.
  11. PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Kant IV-e (cont.) -4- In the course of Hilary Putnam’s paper “Rethinking Mathematical Necessity,” he reflects on Kant’s conception of logic “from a desire to understand an intuition of Wittgenstein’s that I never shared. For the early Wittgenstein it was somehow clear that logical truths do not really say anything, that they are empty of sense (which is not the same thing as saying they are nonsense), sinnlos if not unsinnig. . . . I felt dissatisfaction . . . with my ability to put myself in Wittgenstein’s shoes . . . and to even imagine the state of mind in which one would hold that truths of logic are ‘tautologies’, that they are sinnlos. It was then I thought of Kant. “. . . What interests me here . . . is [Kant’s] repeated insistence that illogical thought is not, properly speaking, thought at all.” (246) We have seen Kant speak, according to the Jäsche Logic, of pure general logic as “a science of the necessary laws of thought, without which no use of the understanding or of reason takes place at all, laws which are consequently conditions under which the understanding can and ought to agree with itself alone. . . .” (13) This is just the point at which Kant shows the conflict between his characterization of logical rules as the defining operating rules of thought and as norms for successful thought. That same dual inconsistent character had come up in Critique of Pure Reason. “All our judgments as such . . . must not contradict themselves. For otherwise these judgments, even in themselves (i.e., even with their object left out of account), are nothing” (A150 B189–90). MacFarlane (2000) does not take Kant to be ever ascribing to pure general logic necessary rules of thought such that violation would make the mental proceeding not thinking at all, which of course has the unacceptable consequence that it is impossible for us to make logical errors (54). MacFarlane rejects out of hand that Kant was saying, as Putnam and most any reader of Kant all along thought Kant was saying, that the logical laws as descriptive of thought are necessary to it being thought. Rather, MacFarlane takes Kant’s conception of pure general logic as only normative. There can be no conflict of N with D if there simply is no D being put forth. I do not think the thesis that Kant did not put forth D is sustainable. As we have seen, the Jäsche Logic, which was compiled from Kant’s set of notes for his lectures, begins with characterizing logic as having lawful determination just as there is the law of gravity or laws for animal locomotion. Student notes of the lectures indicate as well that Kant opened with similitude of laws of logic with other laws. In the Bloomberg notes (early 1770’s), from the Precritical period, Kant focuses on the laws of walking for comparison. This is a nice comparison, for there can be principles for better walking rather like principles for better thinking. In his Critical period, Kant will not settle for only that in the normative character of logic. In the Wiener notes (c. 1780) and the Dohna-Wundlacken ones (early 1790’s), Kant has gone over to dwelling on comparison of the rules of pure logic with supposed universal grammatical rules for all language. Violation of such deep grammatical rules would seem to evict one’s string of words from the bounds of language in Kant’s intended sense of language; violation of the rules of pure logic would seem to evict one from the bounds of thinking. These student notes were not part of what scholars of Kant, even German ones, had available until more recent times. But they further support the idea that Kant in his Critical period, as exhibited in KrV and in Jäsche, took pure general logic in its normative, commanding character for thought as also definitive for thought. Furthermore, unless we hold with the interpretation of Peikoff and Putnam, I do not see how to explain Kant, according to Jäsche, posing this problem: “It is hard to comprehend how error in the formal sense of the word, i.e., how the form of thought contrary to the understanding is possible, just as we cannot in general comprehend how any power should deviate from its own essential laws” (53). We have seen how Kant tried to solve this problem by dividing general logic into pure and applied, ascribing to the former the discernment of formal, logical rules and the handing down of those rules to the latter, to applied logic, where alone is the possibility of error. Our own contemporary distinction among logical norms sorts fallacies into formal ones and informal ones. Kant could well place our formal-fallacy proscriptions into his bin of pure general logic and our informal-fallacy proscriptions—together with specific concrete instances of general, formal ones—into his bin of applied general logic. Against Kant’s pure/applied divide and his use of it in characterizing logical norms and possibility of logical errors, I have argued: that rightness and wrongness in “applications” of the purely formal has no sense of being less directly discerned in the application; that some pure norms have gotten their normativity at least in significant part from application (e.g., Affirming the Consequent); and that some applied logical norms are not on account of wrong form (e.g., Fallacy of Accident). Kant’s theory of the zone and means of logical error is a failure. His theory of the source of logical norms is inconsistent with the fact that we make logical errors. One might try to help Kant by making a parallel with the definition of human. A human is a rational animal. Lacking rationality, an animal is not a human. Yet humans are not always rational. Transporting this pattern to Kant’s conception of logic (in his Critical period, for which he is famous) would not fit with Kant’s picture that thought ceases to be thought if it ceases to be logical. It would not fit with his view that logic is a norm with absolute necessity, not only necessity for an aim. It would not fit with his view that such absolute necessity cannot be on account of the world. Rationality does not stand to human as logic stands to thought in Kant’s outlook. MacFarlane 2000 construes Kant to have been saying “that no activity that is not held accountable to [logical] rules can count as thought, and not that there cannot be thought that does not conform to these rules” (87). I contend that MacFarlane’s phrase “count as thought” comes to “count as successful thought.” This returns Kant’s Critical account back to his account as of the Pre-Critical logic lectures according to the Bloomberg notes. That is, it returns Kant’s account from analogy with a universal grammar to analogy with walking. This will not do for Kant’s mature view. In the next post (hopefully the last for this study), I’ll turn to MacFarlane’s boost in viewing how Kant’s innovations in conceptions of form influenced subsequent philosophy of logic. Let us notice just now additional vista from Putnam 1994. “[Kant distinguished] the truths of logic not only from empirical truths, but also from synthetic a priori truths. In the case of a synthetic a priori judgment, say, ‘Every event has a cause’, Kant tells us that what makes the judgment true is not the way the world is—that is, not the way the world is ‘in itself’—but the way our reason functions; but this talk of the function and constitution of human reason has to be distinguished (by Kant) from talk of the nature of thought . . . . There is, according to Kant, such a thought as the thought that there is an event with no cause; but I can know a priori that that thought is false, because the very constitution of my reason ensures that the data of the senses, as those data are represented by my mind, will fit into a certain structure of objects in space and time related by causality. There is a sense in which the negations of synthetic a priori truths are no more descriptions of a way the world could be than are the negations of logical truths. The negation of a synthetic a priori truth is thinkable . . . . The negation of a logical truth is, in a sense unthinkable; and it is unthinkable precisely because it is the negation of a logical truth. Explanation goes no further. ‘Logical truth’ is, as it were, itself an ultimate metaphysical category. “. . . Frege prepares the way for Wittgenstein by identifying the Kantian idea of the nature of thought with the structure of an ideal language. . . . For the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus, the opposition is between logical truths and empirical truths, not between logical truths and synthetic truths in the Kantian sense. The problem of distinguishing the way in which the structure of thought (which, as just remarked becomes the structure of the ideal language) guarantees the unrevisability of logic from the way in which the structure of reason guarantees the unrevisability of the synthetic a priori no longer arises, because either a judgment is about the world, in which case its negation is not only thinkable, but, in certain possible circumstances, confirmable, or it is not about the world, in which case it is sinnloss.” (255) (To be continued.) References Conant, J., editor, 1994. Words and Life – Hilary Putnam. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Jäsche, G. B. 1800. Kant’s Logic. In Young 1992. Kant, I. 1781, 1787. Critique of Pure Reason. W. S. Pluhar, translator. 1996. Indianapolis: Hackett. MacFarlane, J. G. 2000. What Does It Mean to Say that Logic Is Formal? Ph.D. dissertation. University of Pittsburgh. Putnam, H. 1994. Rethinking Mathematical Necessity. In Conant 1994. Young, J. M., translator, 1992. Immanuel Kant – Lectures on Logic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  12. The display of troops here is just a re-election show for the Pres. It's free advertising to him. Maneuvering troops in show is an old propaganda ploy. I love the major memorials on the Mall. Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington memorials will stand fine under a Democratic President in 2021 just as in the past. Although I love these grand memorials (and the war memorial with my cousin's name on it), I'd like to mention, in connection with the Emancipation, a collection of interviews of former slaves that is available to read online. I return to it again and again. https://www.loc.gov/resource/mesn.130/?sp=10
  13. Concerning your research and remarks on Black Lives Matter, I should like to stress that people supporting that banner mean different things by it. My Black friends were explaining from early on that the phrase was to draw attention to and try to remedy the especially bad treatment of Black people by the police. It is fair enough to challenge, with evidence, that the other races, in particular White people, are treated just as badly by the police. But my Black friends were proceeding under the belief that Black people are especially mistreated by the police. They said publicly way back that they were not insinuating that other lives don't matter. (I'm pretty sure this movement could exist much the same if Marxism had never been invented; the Marxists and other extreme ideologues always try to piggyback and try to influence broader movements that rise to public attention, as you likely know.) To accuse people such as my Black friends of having insinuated that not all lives matter has been an insult (and has served as a cover for White racists hiding behind support for the police in general.) The response of Mr. Pense parallels the argument over having a Civil Rights law (1964). It could be asserted that the civil rights of all matter. The Act arose, as you know, from a situation in which Black people were (long-time) treated awfully, especially Black people. Mr. Pense may not agree that there is specially bad police treatment of Black people on average. But any politician pitching for the constituency that elected Trump/Pence would know they should insinuate there is no imbalance against Black by local law enforcement, should tar the movement (the persons constituting it) with its bizarre unsavory elements [rather like the Chicago TV news would cover the Gay Pride Parade by showing drag queens rather than the thousands of plainer folks marching on the occasion], and should insinuate that BLM folks deny that all lives matter. That there are Black citizens killing other Black citizens to high levels is another issue, simply not the purpose for which BLM emerged. To bring private killings under its umbrella would be a repurposing and a distraction and downgrading of the narrower cause to which it is dedicated.
  14. PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Kant IV-e I have obtained the dissertation of John MacFarlane titled What Does It Mean to Say that Logic Is Formal? (2000). This work includes engagement with the problem for Kant highlighted by Peikoff 1964 of how a logical principle such as PNC can be necessary to thought being thought at all, yet a norm for thought, which implies there are thoughts that can violate the logical principle. MacFarlane has a surprising resolution for Kant, an interpretation against which I shall argue. I shall give my bottom-line assessment of Kant’s attempt to resolve his bind by appeal to his pure/applied distinction for general logic. There is gold for Peikoff 1964 and for us in MacFarlane 2000. The latter sets out conceptions of form original with Kant that have influenced subsequent thought about logic, subsequent philosophy of logic. (Cf. Kant’s revision of the concept of the a priori and the effects of that in subsequent philosophy: Tait 1992; Peikoff 2012, 27–28, 33–34, 46–51, 56–61.) Firstly, we should get refreshed on Kant’s views on logic as expressed in Critique of Pure Reason. Then I want to get before us more extensively than before text from the Jäsche Logic, text over which turns the contest of Kant-interpretation bearing on Kant’s purported deep failure on the descriptive-yet-normative character of formal logic: MacFarlane v. Peikoff, Putnam, me -1- In the perspective of Kant, reasoning in accordance with logic can falter due to various empirical circumstances of the reasoning mind. Knowing those pitfalls and how to avoid them is what Kant called applied general logic. Principles of applied logic are partly from empirical principles. As for the principles of pure general logic, logic apart from applications, “it has no empirical principles” (A54 B78). Matter of fact, pure general logic abstracts away “from all reference to its object” (A55 B79). “Pure general logic is a science that provides nothing but a comprehensive exposition and strict proof of the formal rules of all thought” (Bxiii). The office of logic is “to abstract from all objects of cognition and their differences; hence in logic the understanding deals with nothing more than itself and its form” (Bix; A131 B170). Knowledge requires the joint operation of a receptivity of the mind and a spontaneity of the mind. In our receptivity, sensible objects are given to us. In our spontaneity of conceptualization and judgment, those objects are thought (A15 B29). Sensory presentations are givens. The spontaneity of cognition is the ability to produce presentations ourselves. Kant calls understanding the faculty for bringing given sensible objects under concepts and therewith thinking those objects (A50–51 B74–75). Pure logic is “the science of the rules of the understanding as such” (A52 B76). These are “the absolutely necessary rules of thought without which the understanding cannot be used at all” (A52 B76). Kant distinguishes the faculty of understanding from its superintendent, the faculty of reason. The understanding can arrive at universal propositions by induction. Correct syllogistic inferences among propositions are from reason (A130 B169; A303–4 B359–60). By its formal principles, reason provides unity to the rules of understanding (A302 B359). Kant regarded pure logic as “a canon of understanding and of reason” (A53 B77; A131 B170). A canon is a standard or rule to be followed. Kant thought that our receptivity of given sensory presentation is not cognitive and requires conceptualization in order to become experience (A50–51 B74–75). “All experience, besides containing the senses’ intuition through which something is given, does also contain a concept of an object that is given in intuition, or that appears. Accordingly, concepts of objects as such presumably underlie all experiential cognition as its a priori conditions” (A93 B126). The sensory given presentation contains particular and specific information about the object that can be thought in concepts and judgments concerning the object. But the most general and necessary forms of objects in experience is not information supplied by the sensory given presentations (sensory intuitions), but by the understanding itself for agreement with itself (B114–16, B133n). Without the general form of objects supplied by the understanding, there is no cognitive experience of an object. “Understanding is required for all experience and for its possibility. And the first thing that understanding does for these is not that of making the presentation of objects distinct, but that of making the presentation of an object possible at all” (A199 B244). According to Kant, we could have no experience of objects without invoking concepts bearing, independently of experience, certain of the general forms had by any object whatsoever. The unity-act of the understanding that is the conceptual act, which gives a unified content, an object, to given sensory presentations is also the very unity-act that unifies the various concepts in a judgment (A78–79 B104–5). An additional power Kant gives to the understanding is the power of immediate inference. From a single premise, certain conclusions can be rightly drawn. “The proposition All human beings are mortal already contains the propositions that human beings are mortal, that some mortals are human beings, and that nothing that is immortal is a human being” (A303 B360). In these inferences, all of the material concepts, human being and mortal, appearing in conclusions were in the premise. Such inferences can be made out to be the mediate inferences of a syllogism, but only by adding a premise that is a tautology such as Some mortals are mortal (D-W Logic 769; Jäsche Logic 115). Mediate inferences require addition of a second judgment, a second premise, in order to bring about the conclusion from a given premise. The proposition All scholars are mortal is not contained in the basic judgment All men are mortal since the concept scholar does not appear in the latter. The intermediate judgment All scholars are men must be introduced to draw the conclusion (A304 B360). The basic judgment—the major premise of the syllogism—is thought by the understanding. This is the thinking of a rule. Under condition of that rule, the minor premise of the syllogism is subsumed, by the power of judgment. Lastly, reason makes determinate cognition by the predicate of the basic rule the new judgment, which is the conclusion (A304 B360–61). “What usually happens is that the conclusion has been assigned as a judgment in order to see whether it does not issue from judgments already given, viz., judgments through which a quite different object is thought. When this is the task set for me, then I locate the assertion of this conclusion in the understanding, in order to see whether it does not occur in it under certain conditions according to a universal rule. If I then find such a condition, and if the object of the conclusion can be subsumed under the given condition, then the conclusion is inferred from the rule which holds also for other objects of cognition. We see from this that reason in making inferences seeks to reduce the great manifoldness of understanding’s cognition to the smallest number of principles (universal conditions) and thereby to bring about the highest unity of this cognition.” (A304–5 B361) The faculty of reason, in contradistinction from understanding, does not deal with given sensory presentations, but with concepts and judgments. “Just as the understanding brings the manifold of intuition under concepts and thereby brings the intuition into connection,” so does reason “bring the understanding into thoroughgoing coherence with itself” (A305–6 B362). -2- From the Jäsche Logic: “Everything in nature, both in the lifeless and in the living world, takes place according to rules, although we are not always acquainted with these rules. — Water falls according to laws of gravity, and with animals locomotion also takes place according to rules. . . . The whole of nature in general is really nothing but a connection of appearances according to rules; and there is no absences of rules anywhere. . . . “The exercise of our powers also takes place according to certain rules that we follow, unconscious of them at first, until we gradually arrive at cognition of them through experiments and lengthy use of our powers, indeed, until we finally become so familiar with them that it costs us much effort to think them in abstracto. Thus universal grammar is the form of a language in general, for example. One speaks even without being acquainted with grammar, however; and he who speaks without being acquainted with it does actually have a grammar and speaks according to rules, but ones of which he himself is not conscious. “Like all our powers, the understanding in particular is bound in its actions to rules, which we can investigate. . . . “We cannot think, we cannot use our understanding, except according to certain rules. But now we can in turn think these rules for themselves, i.e., we can think them apart from their application or in abstracto.” (11–12) “A principal perfection of cognition, indeed, the essential and inseparable condition of all its perfection, is truth. Truth, it is said, consists in the agreement of cognition with its object. In consequence of this mere nominal explanation, my cognition is supposed to confirm itself, which is by cognizing it. Hence my cognition, to count as true, is supposed to agree with its object. Now I can compare the object with my cognition, however, only by cognizing it. Hence my cognition is supposed to confirm itself, which is far short of being sufficient for truth. For since the object is outside me, the cognition in me, all I can ever pass judgment on is whether my cognition of the object agrees with my cognition of the object. . . . “The question here is . . . whether and to what extent there is a criterion of truth that is certain, universal, and useful in application. For this is what the question, What is truth?, ought to mean. “To be able to decide this important question we must distinguish that which belongs to the matter in our cognition and is related to the object from that which concerns its mere form, as that condition without which a cognition would in general never be a cognition. . . . ". . . [There can be no criterion of material truth common to all sciences, Kant here maintains.] “If the question is about universal formal criteria of truth, however, then here it is easy to decide that of course there can be such a thing. For formal truth consists merely in the agreement of cognition with itself, in complete abstraction from all objects whatsoever and from all difference among them. And the universal formal criteria of truth are accordingly nothing other than universal logical marks of the agreement of cognition with itself or—what is one and the same—with the universal laws of the understanding and of reason. “These formal, universal criteria are of course not sufficient for objective truth, but they are nonetheless to be regarded as its conditio sine qua non. “For the question of whether cognition agrees with its objects must be preceded by the question of whether it agrees with itself (as to form). And this is a matter for logic.” (49–51) -3- As an aside, I’d like to point out that that talk of preceding, genetic or analytic, is false. For the same reason, Kant’s view that there can be no experience of objects without application of concepts to objects (and concept of an object in general) of sensory percepts is false. That flies in the face of experience. I can be thinking of the concepts I’m typing, yet be aware of objects in my surroundings without engaging concepts or names of them. Then too, prelinguistic children as well as the higher animals plainly perceive the things they navigate and use. The falsity of both of those claims by Kant is exposed by realizing they are cases of one of his favorite logical fallacies displayed in his logic lectures, namely, the contradictio in adjecto. Conceptual operations presuppose manual operations, physical commerce. Awareness of agreement in one’s thought presupposes agreement in physical acts and awareness of them. Consciousness of mental operations presupposes consciousness of acts and objects in the world, consciousness of the world. Hat tip to Ayn Rand on much of that. Additionally, aside, I dissent on Kant’s presumption that there is nothing of the formalities of pure logic or pure mathematics obtaining in perceived things, formalities independent of our perception or higher cognition of them. (On that see my forthcoming paper in JARS on basic metaphysics.) Rand dissented on a parallel, common view—empiricist, rationalist, or Kantian—concerning similarity relations (ITOE 14). Allan Gotthelf: “So, ‘similarity’ is an epistemological concept, and a formulation of the metaphysical base of that would be: quantitative difference within a range.” Rand: “That’s right” (ITOE App. 140). (To be continued.) References Conant, J., editor, 1994. Words and Life – Hilary Putam. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Detlefsen, M., editor, 1992. Proof and Knowledge in Mathematics. New York: Routledge. Jäsche, G. B. 1800. Kant’s Logic. In Young 1992. Kant, I. 1781, 1787. Critique of Pure Reason. W. S. Pluhar, translator. 1996. Indianapolis: Hackett. ——. 1792. The Dohna-Wundlacken Logic. In Young 1992. MacFarlane, J. G. 2000. What Does It Mean to Say that Logic Is Formal? Ph.D. dissertation. University of Pittsburgh. Peikoff, L. 1964. The Status of the Law of Contradiction in Classical Logical Ontologism. Ph.D. dissertation. New York University. ——. 2012. The DIM Hypothesis. New York: New American Library. Putnam, H. 1994. Rethinking Mathematical Necessity. In Conant 1994. Rand, A. 1990 [1966–67]. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Expanded 2nd edition. New York: Meridian. Tait, W. W. 1992. Reflections on the Concept of A Priori Truth and Its Corruption by Kant. In Detlefsen 1992. Young, J. M., translator, 1992. Immanuel Kant – Lectures on Logic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  15. There is one nonfiction book going along those lines, and that is Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. The Dedication of the book, which is to his daughter, speaks only of his hope that the philosophy set out in the book will guide her life. He deliberately pushes comparisons with other philosophies to definite margins, and these are few and small. This contrasts markedly with his other two books The Ominous Parallels and The DIM Hypothesis. I enjoy all these and the various things they address, but the focus on the positive in OPAR is a nice thing to enjoy of it. One nice thing for me in presentations concerning Objectivism was that after the split between Rand and Branden, the castings and recastings of people in the world into deep dark and light psychological types and mixtures of such types dwindled and disappeared. There was little to nothing of that negativity (and beyond-the-pale speculation) in writings of Peikoff, Gotthelf, or Kelley---good for them. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS Barbara Branden once remarked in an online post that she found OPAR dry. Similarly, Nathaniel Branden, in a video interview made pretty late in his life, said yes, he thought the book a good representation of Objectivism, but too dry. I mentioned to Barbara in that thread that I didn’t find it dry at all. It is captivating to me. But there are different degrees of the personal in which a philosophy book can be written. Descartes’ Meditations is probably the tops on that, it captivates the novice to philosophy today as ever.*
  16. I got the second link fixed OK now. It has seemed to me that myths also help people stay afloat and not totally despair in the circumstance of personal pains and horrors, particularly the deaths of their loved ones or their own coming death. Last January my younger sister died, and on her Facebook page, when her March birthday came round, some of her friends would write things like “Happy Birthday in heaven, Helen.” It is now 30 years to the day that my first life-partner died. We had been together for 22 years. For the first 20 years after his death, I would go at sunrise on this day of the year to the spot on the lake where I had spread his ashes a couple of weeks after his death. I would spread peonie blooms onto the water, wait for the sun to rise out of the lake, and read either the Mackay poem Morgen (Tomorrow) in German or the Auden poem Lullaby. It was a ritual in which I was especially in touch with him. We were not supernaturalists, and I’m still just nature. But there was what I thought of as something of a myth-making part of my mind within the overall rational governance there. It was a way, just an image, of him continuing in perfect peace, and with animal companions, until I come to him. Mythic. There is a poem about that and its evolution called “The Castle” in the thread My Verses.
  17. Sight of Superlative Achievement PS: REBIRTH OF REASON is reborn. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ SL, your root post for this thread is so right. The greatest value of Rand's philosophy and her literature has been and will be personal uplift, not political reform or debating with her competitors. In her book Anthem, the decision by Prometheus near the end to liberate some other people back at the community of his origin is set out as entirely secondary to the precious thing and way of life Prometheus has found. Similarly, The Fountainhead does not end with Roark's courtroom soliloquy, but with Dominique rising to him on the lift--"Then there was only the ocean and the sky and the figure of Howard Roark." I read Atlas Shrugged all-through three times in three years when I was a young man (ten years after it was published). It was not for the sake of political inspiration or confrontation with false ideas that I returned to read it that second and third time.
  18. PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Kant IV-d In elementary logic, we have forms of inference that are valid inferences and forms of inference that are erroneous. An example of the latter is: “If a raccoon got the bird feeder down, then some raccoons are clever. Some raccoons are clever. Therefore, a raccoon got the bird feeder down.” This is the formal fallacy of Affirming the Consequent. Its general form is “If p, then q / q / therefore p.” I say that in no way is the invalidity of an argument of this form in general the cause of its invalidity in “application” to reasoning about raccoons and downed bird feeders. Our witness of the failure of right reasoning in the “application” is no less immediate than it is in the “purely formal” rendition. In fact the cloistering from worldly particulars we have in the general form of the fallacy could reasonably leave one wondering why it has been called out as a fallacy. After all, in its general form, it is a mystery why anyone would give such an argument. Only in an “application” does the reason emerge. For there one’s genuine belief (gotten from outside this argument) of the truth of the second premise gives that premise a shininess that can for a split second loosen one’s fix on the train of the argument at hand. The point of the formality of the formal fallacy (wrong-in-form) Affirming the Consequent is only that it is a general no-no across any substitution sentences for p and q. The formal fallacy, which one might reasonably associate with Kant’s pure general logic, derives its normatively from its “applications”. This formal fallacy is no commander, contrary the current Kant insisted. (If one found upon taking the formal case in which q just is p that p is not-p, one might give the formal exhibition of the fallacy Affirming the Consequent some serious normative sense merely of itself. However, that is not what one finds upon entering p for each occurrence of q in the layout.) We have fallacies of deduction that are called informal, for they derail necessary conveyance of truth from premises to conclusion, although they have no crisp exhibition of general form such as is available for the fallacy of Affirming the Consequent. Example of an informal fallacy is the Fallacy of Accident. “Everything has a reason for being this way, not that. Therefore, there is a reason anything at all exists, rather than there being nothing at all.” The premise is true over a very wide range, and it is reasonably stated as a general truth in a wide range of scenes of thought. But there are some few settings in which the premise might well be false, so when affirmed as universally true, it should, strictly speaking, be affirmed only with the qualification that such-and-such setting is out of consideration. Otherwise, strictly speaking, the premise is false. Then truth is not being conveyed from the premise to the conclusion in my example. In our standard elementary formal logic today, that circumstance would not invalidate the inference, really, because the first proposition of my example for this fallacy is seen as only a conditional for the second proposition. Whereas, for Kant as for Aristotle, the two propositions are seen as something more: they are seen as an argument. Anyway, formal logic seen as about correct and incorrect argumentative form, would for Kant count as his “pure general logic” and, fact is, that form does not source the norm had by raising up in “applied general logic” the fallacy we call Fallacy of Accident. Formal logic is not autonomously commanding norms into logical inferences. It is not, freely from all character of the world, determining fallacies as fallacies, formal or informal. Then too, logically valid forms in their instances do not derive their correctness from the correctness also plain in the crisp exhibition of that general form of deduction. “All animals are mortal. Ralph is an animal. Therefore, Ralph is mortal.” That the conclusion is necessarily true if those premises are true does not derive from the denuded form “All A are B / this is an A / therefore, this is a B” giving high-altitude directions to lower-altitude craft. Does Kant’s “pure general logic” amount only to formal logic as in our elementary textbooks? Is the formality of his pure general logic only that formality, schema-forms of correctness in concepts and judgements for any subject matter and any sorts of objects, a formality in logic embraced by all logic lovers from Aristotle to us? No and no. (To be continued.) Note [1] Kelley 2014, 120–21. Aristotle’s fallacy of accident in Sophistical Refutations and Rhetoric is ancestor to this fallacy, though it bears only a pale resemblance. Fallacy of Accident appears in §404 of Meier 1752, the logic text from which Kant lectured. It makes no appearance in the Jäsche Logic, though it shows up in one set of student notes of Kant’s lectures, the Hechsel. According to those notes, Kant claimed that if one “tried to clothe this [fallacy] in the form of a syllogism, the vitium would at once strike the eye” (110). This seems to say that one would fail to get it into a valid syllogistic form and that that failure would show the formal root of the logical error. The long tradition of supposing that what we call informal fallacies were somehow rooted in or reducible to formal errors may have, I suggest, bolstered Kant’s thinking that form (in an amplified version peculiar to him—subsequently influential—to be sorted in the next installment) is the bottom line of all norms of general logic. Some scholars today maintain that Aristotle supposed all the errors he compiled (which is a subset) of the lot we list as informal fallacies were reducible to errors of syllogism, which is to say errors of form. See Woods 2012, 523–24, 531, 570. References Kelley, D. 2014. The Art of Reasoning. 4th ed. Norton: New York. Woods, J. 2012. A History of the Fallacies in Western Logic. In Handbook of the History of Logic. Gabbay, D. M., F. J. Pelletier, and J. Woods, editors. North Holland: Amsterdam.
  19. David J. Jilk discussed the category entity in his paper “What Are Entities?” (2003). His paper takes into account aspects of what Rand, Peikoff, Kelley, and Ray & Radcliffe (which Merlin linked in the preceding post) had written on this Randian conception. The Ray and Radcliffe paper addresses aspects of Rand’s conception that Rand did not write up and publish. Rand expressed these aspects in informal oral discussion (1969–71) that is transcribed in the Appendix added to the reissue (1990) of Rand’s monograph “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology” (1966–67). On importance of conceiving mind as an entity, see Roger Bissell’s paper “Mind, Introspection, and ‘The Objective’” (2008). Entity is also an ontological category in my own metaphysics related to Rand’s. My category Entity is moderately broader than Rand’s, and this is an ontological broadening, not anything from consideration of variety in perspectives possible to consciousness. My category Entity is set out in my paper presently under review at JARS. In my root post of this thread “Entity and Ousia” I treated only Rand’s category entity in relation to Aristotle’s ousia. So the treatment I have made here concerns purely the Objectivist philosophy, nothing of my own related one. In connection with my Rand/Aristotle study here, compare in the future whatever comes to be written in a book in progress comparing Rand and Aristotle in the series Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies. Drawing from the remarks of Rand in the ITOE appendix, Jason G. Rheins conveys the following within his “Objectivist Metaphysics” (2016). I imagine, however, there remains the necessary-condition rule for the Objectivist category entity, parallel Aristotle on ousia, that entity does not stand in an inherence relation to any other category, whereas all the other categories stand in an inherence relation to entity. See also Gotthelf 2000, 39–40, 45. Note, incidentally, Rand's remarks about animal consciousness rising to the level of percepts, therefore to awareness of some entities in “The Objectivist Ethics.”
  20. Entity and Ousia Contrasting Roark with many other people, Mallory remarks to Dominique of those others: “At the end there’s nothing left, nothing unreversed or unbetrayed; as if there had never been any entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out on an unformed mass” (GW V, 485). Consider in Rand’s full metaphysics the finer structure in her conception of the law of identity: "Whatever you choose to consider, be it an object, an attribute, or an action, the law of identity remains the same. A leaf cannot be a stone at the same time, it cannot be all red and all green at the same time, it cannot freeze and burn at the same time. A is A (AS 1016). Rand clearly intended here, in Galt’s Speech, that what is proposed for objects is to be generalized to entities. Every entity is of some kinds that are exclusive relative to other kinds of entity. Rand used the term entity in the paragraph preceding the object examples of leaf and stone. That is, she uses entity in the initial statement of her law of identity: “To exist is to be something, . . . it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes” (AS 1016). On that page, it is clear that she takes for entities not only what are ordinarily called objects such as leaf, stone, or table, but micro-objects such as living cells and atoms, and super-objects such as solar system and universe. Now we have a modest problem. If we say “to exist is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes,” we seem to say that attributes are either entities or are not existents. Consider for attributes “the shape of a pebble or the structure of the solar system” (AS 1016). To avoid the patent falsehood that the shape of a pebble does not exist, shall we say that not only the pebble is an entity, but its shape is an entity? Rand reaches a resolution by a refinement in her metaphysics nine years after her first presentation. In 1966 she writes “Entities are the only primary existents. (Attributes cannot exist by themselves, they are merely the characteristics of entities; motions are motions of entities; relationships are relationships among entities)” (ITOE 15). In Rand’s view then, we have that to exist is either (i) to be an entity consisting of particularities and specific attributes and a specific nature or (ii) to be some specific character in the nature of entities or among an entity’s particularities. Philosophers often use the term entity to mean any item whatever. That is one customary usage and perfectly all right. Rand decided to take entity into her technical vocabulary as something more restricted. She went on to name some fundamental categories that cannot exist without connection to entities: action, attributes, and relationships.[1] As with Aristotle’s substance (ousia), where there is any other category, there is entity to which it belongs.[2] Though Rand held entities to be “the only primary existents,” she did not suppose entities could ever exist without their incidents of action, attributes, and relationships. To trim away, in thought, all the internal traits of an existent as well as all its external relations should in right thought leave no existent. Out of step with Aristotle, Rand did not maintain there is such a thing as an entity that is a what, yet is without any specification by other categories of existents.[3] Entities have relations to other entities, but not the belonging-relation (inherence) had to entities by the categories not entity. The entity that is the sofa is in a region of the living room and it is in a force-relation with the floor. But it is not in anything in the way its shape and mass and stability and flammability are in it. Though she held actions, attributes, and relations to be incapable of existing without the entities of which they are incidents, Rand did not import to entity Aristotle’s concept of substance as somehow imparting existence from itself to the other fundamental categories. In Rand’s view, all of those categories have some instances in concrete existents. Actions, attributes, and relationships are not entities in Rand’s sense. To qualify as an entity, I say and think Rand could have been brought around to say, an entity has to do more than be able to stand as the subject of predication (or as the argument of a propositional function). Running or oscillation can be the subjects of predicates, but they can do so as actions, not entities. Fraction and containment can be the subjects of predicates, but they can do so as relations, not entities. Twill and vesicular quality can be subjects of predicates, but they can do so as attributes, not entities. Rand’s entity as primary existence parallels to some extent Aristotle’s ousia as primary being. Entity as subject of attributes, actions, and relationships parallels Aristotle’s ousia.[4] Substance has been the most common translation of Aristotle’s ousia, when used as the fundamental form of being. Joseph Owens argues that the traditional translation of Aristotle’s ousia is poorly conveyed by substance and is better expressed by entity.[5] Joe Sachs argues for the more Heideggerean translation thingness for ousia.[6] In whatever English translation, Aristotle’s full conception of ousia in his Metaphysics is far from Rand’s conception of entity. Entity does not stand as of-something. In that respect, it is like Aristotle’s ousia. Unlike his ousia in Metaphysics, entity as such is never the essence of something. Also contra Aristotle’s being that is ousia, the existents that are entity can have parts that are entity. Furthermore, as noticed earlier, unlike the accidents of Aristotle’s ousia in Metaphysics, the existence of incidents does not derive from the existence of entity.[7] Existents of the incidents are coordinate with existence of entities, not derivative from nor secondary to existence of entities. In contrast with Aristotle, Rand’s entity, primary form of existence, is only of this whole of existence, our spatial-temporal world, with both its actualities and its potentials, and our understanding over it. That is the all-encompassing reality. Contraction of being to existence includes a denial that there are metaphysical perfections and denial that there is such a thing as unqualified being. Such perfections, and unqualified stuff, when added together with existence per se constitute Aristotle’s being. Aristotle has Rand’s entities as occasions of ousia, at least prima facie, and these he calls natural ousia.[8] Aristotle’s primary ousia, fundamental form of being, I should add, is always an individual, a this something, though not always a concrete.[9] “Substance is on the one hand, matter, on the other hand, form, that is, activity” (Metaph. 1043a27–28).[10] Shape, such as shape of a bronze statue, is not all Aristotle means here by form (mophê). That which explains the coming to be of the statue from unshaped bronze is here included as form; then too, form is here determining principle of which the bronze constitutes this statue rather than any other being. Bronze of itself is determinate matter, but as matter of this statue, it is this form’s matter in consideration of its potential to be another form’s matter. For Aristotle explanation of substance requires both matter and form. Like most all moderns, Rand and Peikoff reject Aristotle’s fundamental form/matter division of all beings.[11] Aristotle had ousia not only primary in account of the kinds of being, but prior in time to them.[12] In the shift from being to existence as most fundamental and in the shift from ousia to entity as most fundamental category of existence, we do not conceive of entity as temporally prior to attributes and relations. For the move from being to existence as most fundamental is move to existence already with identity. If existence is identity and most fundamentally concrete, then entity is identity and most fundamentally concrete. Let us say further that entity is identity, essential and inessential. Essential identity of an entity is identity without which the entity would not be the kind it is.[13] To say that entity is essential identity might seem close to Aristotle’s view that ousia and its essence are one.[14] Rand’s principle existence is identity has greater scope than Aristotle’s ousia is its essence. For her existence is identity has comprehensive scope: it spans not only entity and its essential attributes, but its entire suite of attributes, as well as its standings in actions and relations. For Aristotle capturing what is a specific ousia—where ousia is the primary form of being and the subject of attributes and alterations—requires formulating its definitions such that the essence expressed in the predicate (definiens) has a uniquely right necessary tie and has explanatory tie with the subject (definiendum). Without that essential trait, the ousia defined could not be the kind of ousia it is. Furthermore, if no such trait can be found, the subject is not an ousia, a what-it-is, but a depending quantity, quality, relation, time, location, configuration, possession, doing, or undergoing.[15] In Rand’s modern metaphysics, capturing best what is a specific entity requires formulating its definiens such that it has a right, necessary, and explanatory tie with the subject entity. The unity of essential characteristics with existence of the entity to which they belong are not absolute in the way Aristotle’s specific essence belongs to specific ousia. His is an ascription right independently of context of knowledge. Rand’s theory of essential characteristics for definitions allows for evolution as our knowledge context grows.[16] Furthermore, unlike Aristotle’s theory, the unity of the essential in definitions of existents is just as tight where those existents are attributes, actions, or other relations as when the existent being defined is an entity. The essence of Newtonian force is expressed in its definiens, with specific mathematical defining formula relating certain physical quantities. Special relativity recasts that fundamental defining equation of force, the old equation imbedded in a more elaborate one taking newly learned factors into the account of force.[17] Contrary Aristotle, existents not substance and not entity can have essential characteristics, and these are a function not only of what is so, but of what it is we know of what is so. Although Rand made essential characteristics dependent on context of knowledge, these characteristics are real, the dependencies (such as causal or mathematical) other characteristics have upon them are real, and the explanatory character of essential characteristics vis-à-vis other characteristics is objective. Additional likeness and difference in the metaphysics of Rand and Aristotle are the following. In the metaphysics of Aristotle, when we grasp the essence of ousia, we become that essence; such an assimilator is what is a mind.[18] In Rand’s metaphysics, our grasp of an essence is an identification of an identity; such an identifier of identity is what is a mind, although essence is not the only identity of the existent determining mind, and as mentioned, entity is not the only category in which there are essential aspects. Furthermore, unlike the metaphysics of Rand and other moderns, the metaphysics of Aristotle has it that essence is only in kinds of ousia (kinds of substance/entity) such as the kind man. The essence of man—rational animal—exhausts the kind man. Aristotle recognizes, naturally, that the individual man is more in particulars and specifics, more than the essence and ousia. Rand has it rather that the kind is only a class of individuals, each with all their identity, and essential characteristic(s) of the class concern causal and other explanatory relations, identities that are categories not only the category entity. Rather than her loose and overlapping categories of action, attribute, and relation, Rand could have conceived of them as mutually exclusive categories by confining attributes to traits not essentially in relation to other things and by confining relations to features not monadic and not action. It would remain, however, for her selection of fundamental categories that electric current, for example, could be (a) an attribute of an active conducting wire, manifest by shock or by resistance heating of the wire, and (b) a flow of electrons within the wire and (c) a source of the magnetic field around the wire. Assignment to a Randian category, unlike an Aristotelian one, should, I think, remain dependent on the physical situation under consideration. In the present example: (a) attribute, (b) action, (c) entity. In Rand’s fully developed theoretical philosophy, as I mentioned, essential characteristics, though factual, are functions of the human context of knowledge.[19] If we extend functional dependence of essential characteristic to context of consideration, then multiple highest genera of an existent is not problematic, unlike the circumstance for Aristotle with his metaphysically absolute essences, ever the same whatever our level of knowledge and context of consideration. Notes [1] AS 1016; ITOE 7, appx. 264–79. [2] ITOE appx. 157, 264; Aristotle, Cat. 2b3–6; Metaph. 1028a10–30. Aristotle maintained two sorts of substance, primary and secondary. The former would be an individual such as the individual man Parmenides; the latter would be the species or genus of such an individual. Rand’s entity is always only a concrete individual. [3] Aristotle, Metaph. 1028a30–b3. See further, Pasnau 2011, 99–102. [4] ITOE 15; Aristotle, Cat. 2a14–19; Cael. 298a26–b3; Metaph. 1028a10–b7. [5] Owens 1978, 137–54; see also Gotthelf 2012, 8n11. What is traditionally translated as being in Aristotle, is sometimes translated as existence; Barnes 1995, 72–77. Here again, we must not let that dull us to the differences between Aristotle and Rand on the concept in play. [6] Sachs 1999, xxxvi–xxxix. [7] Aristotle, Metaph. 1045b27–33; Lewis 2013, 13–15, 91. [8] Cael. 298a26–b3; Metaph. 1017b10–15, 1028b9–32, 1040b5–10, 1042a7–11. [9] Cat. 3b10–23; Metaph. 1028a12, 25–30. [10] A. Kossman, translator. [11] ITOE appx. 286. Koslicki 2018 offers a modern defense of Aristotle’s hylomorphism. [12] Aristotle, Metaph. 1028a32–33. [13] Top. 101b37; Metaph. 1025b11, 1029b14–16 ; ITOE 42, 45, 52. [14] Metaph. 1031a28–1032a5; see also Top. 135a9–12; further, Witt 1989 [15] Cat. 1b25–2a; Top. 103b20–25; Metaph. 1028b1–3. [16] ITOE 40–52. [17] What force is in our contemporary physics is also informed by the setting of force in relation to Hamiltonian mechanics, a more general classical mechanics having natural joins with quantum mechanics. Newton’s gravitational force, whose definition requires its fundamental equation, is also recast by situating it in the deeper successful theory that is general relativity. [18] Aristotle, De An. 429a10–430a26. [19] ITOE 43–47, 52. References Aristotle c.348–322. B.C. The Complete Works of Aristotle. J. Barnes, editor (1984). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Barnes, J. 1995. Metaphysics. In The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gotthelf, A. 2012. Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle’s Biology. New York: Oxford University Press. Koslicki, K. 2018. Form, Matter, Substance. New York: Oxford University Press. Owens, J. 1978 [1951]. The Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies. Pasnau, R. 2011. Metaphysical Themes 1274–1671. New York: Oxford University Press. Rand, A. 1943. The Fountainhead. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. ——. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House. ——. 1966–67. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. In Rand 1990. ——. 1990. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Expanded 2nd ed. H. Binswanger and L. Peikoff, editors. New York: Meridian. Sachs, J., translator, 1999. Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Santa Fe: Green Lion Press. Witt, C. 1989. Substance and Essence in Aristotle. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  21. Publications Ayn Rand Society Philosophical Studies (Currently in process, a volume on Aristotle and Rand) Darwinism 2. Darwin and Darwinism 2.1 Darwin’s Life 2.2 Darwin’s Darwinism 2.3 Philosophical Problems with Darwin’s Darwinism 3. The Five Core Philosophical Problems Today 3.1 The Roles of Chance in Evolutionary Theory 3.2 The Nature, Power and Scope of Selection 3.3 Selection, Adaptation and Teleology 3.4 Species and the Concept of ‘Species’
  22. (Click on photo)
  23. As it has turned out, the US reached this mortality number in only two months, rather than the predicted four months. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ On US public action, there is some good historical perspective here. Excerpts
  24. Some Comments on Rand’s Theory and Some Historical Notes Merlin Jetton would not want to count ordinal scales as measurement scales (“Omissions and Measurement” JARS Spring 2006). Similarly, on his view, ordered geometry and affine geometry should not pass muster as multidimensional measurement systems. I do count ordinal and other scales on up to ratio scale as measurement scales, I count ordered geometry and affine geometry as measurement systems, and in all of that I’m in league with the principal measurement theorists of the last few decades. Even if one did not think of ordinal ranking as measurement, it would remain that it takes the set structures the theorists have found for it, going beyond the structure for counting (absolute scaling). This makes Rand’s conjecture (her analysis conjecture presupposed by her formation conjecture) and mine (weaker than hers) an addition to the simple substitution-unit standing of instances under a concept that is common to pretty much all theories of concepts or universals. There are, I say, some indispensable concepts we should not expect to be susceptible to being cast under a measurement-omission form of concepts. Among these would be the logical constants such as negation, conjunction, or disjunction. The different occasions of these concepts are substitution units under them, but the occasions under these concepts are not with any measure values along dimensions, not with any measure values on any measure scale having the structure of ordinal scale or above. Similarly, it would seem that logical concepts on which the fundamental concepts of set theory and mathematical category theory rely have substitution units, but not measure-value units at ordinal or above. The membership concept, back of substitution units and sets, hence back of concepts, is also a concept whose units are only substitution units. Indeed, all of the logical concepts required as presupposition of arithmetic and measurement have only substitution units. Still, to claim that all concretes can be subsumed under some concept(s) other than those said concept(s) having not only substitution units, but measure values at ordinal or above, is a very substantial claim about all concrete particulars. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ These notes below do not go to the truth or importance of Rand’s theory (and its presuppositions), only to its originality or uniqueness and its relations to other theories in the history of philosophy. From my essay: In the years after composing this paper (2002–03), I learned of a “pale anticipation” of Rand’s measurement-omission perspective on concepts way back in the fifth or sixth century. My studies of Roger Bacon, a contemporary of Aquinas, led me to study Bacon’s mentor and model Robert Grosseteste (c. 1168–1253). The latter mentioned that Pseudo-Dionysus (an influential Neoplatonic Christian of the fifth or sixth century) had held a certain idea about the signification of names. From James McEvoy’s The Philosophy of Robert Grosseteste (1982): “[Grosseteste] reminds us that Pseudo-Dionysius himself at one point introduced the hypothesis that the names signify properties held in common, but subject to gradation in the order of intensity. Thus the seraphim, for instance, are named from their burning love; but it goes without saying that love is a universal activity of spirit” (141–42). Angels were thought to exist and to have ranks, I should say. Some kinds have burning love; others do not have that kind of love. The thought of Pseudo-Dionysius and of Grosseteste was that angels in the different ranks, angels of different kinds, all shared some properties (e.g. their participation in being, their knowledge, or their love) that the various types possessed in various degrees. I have located the pertinent text of Pseudo-Dionysius. It is in chapter 5 of his work The Celestial Hierarchy. The heading of that chapter is “Why the Heavenly Beings Are All Called ‘Angel’ in Common.” Dionysius writes: “If scripture gives a shared name to all the angels, the reason is that all the heavenly powers hold as a common possession an inferior or superior capacity to conform to the divine and to enter into communion with the light coming from God” (translation of Colm Luibheid 1987). To the preceding compilation of historical anticipations of Rand’s analysis of concepts in terms of measurement omission, I should add the case of John Duns Scotus. Continuing from Aristotle and Porphyry, medieval thinkers reflecting on universals and individuation held specific differentia added to a genus make a species what it is and essentially different from other species under the genus. Similarly, individual differentia added to a species make an individual what it is and different from other individuals in the species. Scotus held individuals in a species to have a common nature. That nature makes the individuals the kind they are. It is formally distinct from the individual differentia, a principle that accounts for the individual being the very thing it is. The individual differentia, in Scotus’ conception, will not be found among Aristotle’s categories. Individual differentia are the ultimate different ways in which a common nature can be. Individual differentia are modes of, particular contractions of that uncontracted common nature. “The contracted nature is just as much a mode of an uncontracted nature as a given intensity of whiteness is a mode of whiteness, or a given amount of heat is a mode of heat. It is no accident that Scotus regularly speaks of an ‘individual degree’ (gradus individualis)” (Peter King 2000—The Problem of Individuation in the Middle Ages. Theoria 66:159–84).
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