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Boydstun

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  1. Eiuol, I thought the following might be good to mention here.
  2. Report that two-thirds of romantic relationships in US and Canada emerge from friendships, as distinct from those resulting from spark between strangers.
  3. ~Resonant Existence~ That is an apt name for the philosophy I forged and conveyed in this paper. I did not mentioned a name for the philosophy in my presentation in the paper. At the end of the paper, at the head of the Notes, I wrote: “To Walter, my wonderful. I thank David L. Potts for comments on an earlier draft of this work.” I’ve known David about 40 years. He attained a Ph.D. in psychology, then another Ph.D., in philosophy. He and wife Ann-Marie, also our friend, live in California, where he is a philosophy professor. Walter took this photo of David and me in the Blue Ridge when he visited us in 2018.
  4. One of the most influential new schools of philosophy from the 1930’s to the 1960’s was Logical Empiricism, known also as Logical Positivism. The most influential picture of that school to be received by English readers not able to read German was the 1936 book of A. J. Ayer Language, Truth and Logic. Logical empiricism was a major contemporary school of philosophy on the scene in American philosophy, especially in the Ayer rendering, while Dewey was producing his 1938, Rand her GS and ITOE, and Peikoff his 1964 and 1967. Prevalent in logical empiricism, across its era, is the doctrine of verificationism, the thesis that to have cognitive meaning, statements making existential claims must ultimately be empirically verifiable, at least in an in-principle way. Metaphysical and theological claims were taken as in-principle not thusly verifiable, therefore without cognitive meaning. The positive focus of verification principles and associated reductive programs for the logical empiricists was on statements concerning ordinary experience and empirical science. Dewey and Objectivism have an empiricist perspective one-upping that one. (This perspective is not to be found in the empiricism of Aristotle.) Dewey and Objectivism diverge greatly from the varieties of verificationism developed by logical empiricism. Contrary to some logical empiricists, Dewey and Objectivism begin their empiricisms, as had Peirce, in the parish of percepts, not in sense data. Dewey and Objectivism expand the meaning-requirement—superseding its strands in logical empiricism—from statements concerning ordinary experience and empirical science to statements concerning mathematics and logic as well. The architects of Objectivism supplanted verificationism with validationism. I conveyed their validation requirement previously in this thread. The Objectivist requirement of validity in concepts and judgments and Dewey’s requirement of warrant for concepts and judgments did not bring either of those schools to a verdict of meaningless on all metaphysics, though it resulted in the stamp meaningless on the concept God in the usual talk heard on that topic by theists. The meaning of meaningless varies according to whether the meaning-requirement is (some variety of) verificationism, warranted assertion, or validation; it seems that for the first alone, with its domain of existential claims, meaningless entails that a statement is neither true nor false. Rand wrote to John Hospers in 1961, and included in that letter of January 3 is her opposition to the Verifiability Principle of the logical positivists. “What I challenge, oppose and condemn is the essence of that principle and the method it proposes, in all and any of its variations. (I do not believe that ‘propositions’ have to be ‘verified’; I believe that they have to be ‘validated’—it is a night-and-day difference).” That remark shows that Rand thought of the Objectivist requirement of validation (of statements) as the replacement for the logical positivist requirement of verifiability (of existential propositions) and that she thought her validationism to differ greatly from said verificationism, though she does not say here what is the difference. Hospers had been remarking privately, by letters, on Branden’s Basic Principles of Objectivism Lectures (a welcome thing to Rand and Branden), and the remark of Branden’s that Hospers was commenting on was in the first Branden lecture. We do not have Hospers’ letters, but from Rand’s reply to him concerning the Verifiability Principle, Hosper’s had cautioned against the Branden diatribe in Lecture 1 characterizing logical positivism as a new form of mysticism. Rand replied that it was in their concept of what constitutes “verifiability” that they become most mystical. She objects also to their rejection of all issues of ontology as meaningless. The version of BOP transcribed in Vision no longer contained the remarks on logical positivism that Hospers had remarked on in 1961. (On the Objectivist conception of validity as conveyed in BOP, see pages 45–46, 71–75, 93–95 of Vision.) I’ll now quote from Dewey’s criticism of the verificationist meaning-requirement in logical empiricism. The issue I’ll then resume, in the next installment, is whether the controversial statements about logic and proof in OPAR, statements indeed consonant with GS and BPO, so close to Dewey on their surface, remain consistent within Objectivism once the pertinent underlying ground in Dewey is refused by Objectivism, warranted is replaced by validated, and inquiry replaced by identification. “The history of science, as an exemplification of the method of inquiry, shows that the verifiability (as positivism understands it) of hypotheses is not nearly as important as their directive power. As a broad statement, no important scientific hypothesis has ever been verified in the form in which it was originally presented nor without very considerable revisions or modifications. The justification of such hypotheses has lain in their power to direct new orders of experimental observation and to open up new problems and new fields of subject-matter. In doing these things, they have not only provided new facts but have often radically altered what were previously taken to be facts. Popular positivism [e.g. Ayer 1936], in spite of its claims to be strictly scientific, has been in some respects the heir of an older metaphysical view which attributed to ideas inherent truth-falsity properties. A sense for the actual patten of inquiry will assign to ideas as ideas the intrinsic function of being operational means. On this ground alone, the positivistic theory of knowledge falls short. This criticism also applies to any form of positivistic theory that confines the scope of logic to transformation of pre-existing materials with no provision for production of new hypotheses whose operative use supplies new materials which reconstruct those already at hand. It applies to ‘logical positivism’ as far as that theory limits logical theory to transformation of propositions in separation from the operations by which propositions are formed.” (1938, 513)
  5. Another great work pertinent to this thread and to my thread on Peikoff's OPAR is Steven Levine’s Pragmatism, Objectivity, and Experience (2019). From the publisher: "In this book Steven Levine explores the relation between objectivity and experience from a pragmatic point of view. Like many new pragmatists he aims to rehabilitate objectivity in the wake of Richard Rorty's rejection of the concept. But he challenges the idea, put forward by pragmatists like Robert Brandom, that objectivity is best rehabilitated in communicative-theoretic terms - namely, in terms that can be cashed out by capacities that agents gain through linguistic communication. Levine proposes instead that objectivity is best understood in experiential-theoretic terms. He explains how, in order to meet the aims of the new pragmatists, we need to do more than see objectivity as a norm of rationality embedded in our social-linguistic practices; we also need to see it as emergent from our experiential interaction with the world. Innovative and carefully argued, this book redeems and re-actualizes for contemporary philosophy a key insight developed by the classical pragmatists."
  6. On the scenario of the solitary thinker Frank raised, additional to what I responded earlier, were I that thinker: Thinking to myself discursively and being intellectually honest in my course of thought, I’d acknowledge, to myself, that my question “What if everything were literally in my head?” is in fact an extrapolation from an earlier perfectly sensible sort of question of mine: “What if this particular item of thought or perception, seeming to reside in the world independently of my thinking it or my perceiving it, were really only in my head?” And I’d acknowledge to myself that the latter sort of question makes sense only if there are some things I think of or perceive that are in the contrast condition of not being only in my head. Without carrying that condition right along in the extrapolation to all things possibly being only in my head, the extrapolated possibility cannot really make sense. Then the thought to myself that everything might be only in my head is false and is itself an occasion of something only in my head. Thanks for raising these issues, Frank, and thanks to 2046 for the link on the related topic.
  7. Some remarks by a trained physicist against QM supporting Buddhism are here. He makes one statement about QM, however, that is importantly imprecise, a misstatement made by knowledgeable physicists in the past and a misstatement that opens a playground for wishful metaphysics of consciousness. “Quantum mechanics reaches beyond the known physical realms and even claims that consciousness is a fundamental component of the nature of physics.” Saying “the known physical realms” is an imprecision resulting from a physicist trying to indicate to persons uneducated in modern physics—indicate without mathematical characterization—the actual concept he means, which is “the classical regime” which is what we commonly deal with in ordinary experience and which (i) is not really the same as “the known physical realms” and (ii) whose essence is not ease of our accessibility. But the remark I want to underscore as imprecise is that QM “even claims that consciousness is a fundamental component of the nature of physics.” This is false. This error may come partly from such handy, but imprecise, descriptive labels put on the family of experiments known as the “delayed choice” experiments. That is not the big source, however. The big source emerged much earlier. For example, the 1932 book by Von Neumann Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics includes a description of measurement on a quantum system in which the physical settlement-registration-detection, which is physical outcome ready for cognizance in perceptual consciousness, is crudely claimed to have required participation of consciousness for bringing about the outcome. This line of misspeaking turned on simple ambiguities of terms such as detection and observation (same ambiguity for observer in SR, which is really just some matter on course of its time-like world line), which in QM are purely physical occurrences, to which the consciousness element of those concepts in ordinary usage was unnecessarily imported, smudging some presentations of QM. This was an error alongside the one mentioned by 2046. Quantum physics, like all physics, is physical, only physical—physical sequences, alterations, setups, and outcomes in physical time. Comprehension of physics is through mathematical understanding and through design of physical instruments for physical detections necessary to conscious observational function in human minds.
  8. Facebook announcement of Leonard Peikoff's final lecture: 31 July 2021 - Viennese Operetta: My Virtual Reality
  9. Frank, I’d say consideration of such an idea is only for sport, for entertainment, not something one actually could take seriously in one’s own solitary view, without some serious mental malfunction. That everything might be only in one’s head is exposed to oneself as nothing more than idling entertainment (and not very clever entertainment) simply by being intellectually honest with oneself. And if fortunate, one might be smart enough to see as well for oneself that the proposed possibility is just a dull exchange of what (plainly, mundanely) is larger than what and inclusive of what. Also, it would be superficial self-delusion to think that one is not living or breathing or residing; one knew oneself as living, breathing, and residing even before one had learned to say those things and understand much about them. And it is further self-chicanery to think in words and sentences without admitting that one has not been always alone in wielding those tools of thought and communication; there is no self-thinking and self-communication in language without communication with and thinking with others earlier. Idealists of the various sorts (Berkeley, Kant, Bradley), I should mention, do not think it’s possible that nothing is real, or plausible that nothing we know is true. Primacy of consciousness over existence need not imply that nothing exists, at least that was not an implication seen or aimed at by those idealists or by Descartes or by Plato. Is there philosophy you have studied or would like to study?
  10. 12 minute presentation on Muon g-2 results in context (deserving its 1.2 million views since 4/7/21)
  11. Superb, by Cheryl Misak: The American Pragmatists (2013) From the publisher: "Cheryl Misak presents a history of the great American philosophical tradition of pragmatism, from its inception in the Metaphysical Club of the 1870s to the present day. She identifies two dominant lines of thought in the tradition: the first begins with Charles S. Peirce and Chauncey Wright and continues through to Lewis, Quine, and Sellars; the other begins with William James and continues through to Dewey and Rorty. This ambitious new account identifies the connections between traditional American pragmatism and twentieth-century Anglo-American philosophy, and links pragmatism to major positions in the recent history of philosophy, such as logical empiricism. Misak argues that the most defensible version of pragmatism must be seen and recovered as an important part of the analytic tradition."
  12. John Dewey on Perception and Conception ~A~ In the nineteenth century, Dewey held with absolute idealism. His turn to pragmatic realism entailed a significant change in his theory of perception, a change to be called out below. Across the shift in Dewey's framework, there are nevertheless considerable continuities. "Knowledge is nothing but sensations related to each other" (1886, 125; cf. 1929, 213). But sensations are elements of knowledge and have their sole existence as known. They have no existence prior to nor apart from knowledge. They cannot be what accounts for the origin of knowledge. If knowledge or experience comes from sensations, then sensations "are never known and never can be. If experience originates from them, they never were and never can be elements in experience. Sensations as known or experienced are always related, classified sensations" (ibid., 124–25). Having existence only in experience, "which has existence only as an element of knowledge," a sensation "cannot be the same when transported out of knowledge, and made its origin" (ibid., 125; cf. 1911a, 106–8). Dewey grants that sensations exist in us, in our infancies, before we have knowledge, "and that knowledge comes about by their organic registration and integration" (ibid., 127). But to account for the origin of knowledge by ontogeny, we have to use our experience. The infant is a known object in the world of our experience, likewise "his nervous organism and the objects which affect it" (ibid., 128). "It is the known baby and a known world in definite action and reaction upon each other, and this definite relation is precisely a sensation" (ibid.). In this account, we are accounting for consciousness by known things, things "which exist only for and within consciousness" (1886, 129). Our account, then, is only of the origin of an individual consciousness (each baby's), "or a specific group of known facts, by reference to the larger group of known fact or universal consciousness" (ibid.). That is not an account of "the origin of consciousness or knowledge as such at all" (ibid.). In truth, "the becoming of consciousness exists for consciousness only, and . . . consciousness can never have become at all" (ibid.). Empirical psychology can only show how consciousness or knowledge differentiates itself into various forms (1886, 130). One deep differentiation is that of subject from object. "The relation of subject and object is one which exists within consciousness. . . . The duty of the psychologist is to show how it arises for consciousness, . . . how consciousness differentiates itself so as to give rise to the existence within, that is for, itself of subject and object" (ibid., 131). Dewey undertakes to reconcile "the undoubted relativity of all existence as known, to consciousness, and the undoubted dependence of our own consciousness" (ibid., 132). His general postulate is that consciousness is the unity of subject and object. Psychology needs to discover whereby consciousness is divided for itself into the individual and the external world, that is, how happens that stage of consciousness we call perception (ibid., 137; cf. 1929b, 232). "Perception or knowledge of particular things is not a passive operation of impression, but involves the active integration of various experiences. It is a process of reaching out after the fullest and richest experience possible" (1887a, 138). Dewey takes experimental scientific observation as the articulate exemplar of all perception. The working scientist searches out new perceptions by changing conditions of observations and by conducting experiments. Scientific observation requires imagination and thinking, not mechanically working upon percepts, but transforming and enriching them so as to amplify their unified meaning (ibid. & 1890, 86–89; 1917, 931–32; 1929b, 69–73, 99, 101, 116). Perception is knowledge of actually present particular things or events, known as not ourselves and known as existing in space. Perception contrasts with intelligent thinking (1887a, 139–40). "The presence to the mind of the world as perceived must be explained from the process of knowing. It is due to the activity of the mind, which not only has sensations, but which takes them and projects them. It relates itself actively to them by associating and attending to them" (ibid., 141). The flux of sensations are assimilated and consolidated, then by attentional activity, we interpret, discriminate, and unify them into a definite recognizable percept (ibid. & 1928a, 336). That the perceived object is a particular and definite object is due to the unifying and discriminating activities of intelligence. Perception may be defined as the act in which the presented sensuous data are made symbols or signs of all other sensations which might be experienced from the same object, and thus are given meaning" (ibid.). Tactile sensations become symbolized through visual, and visual sensations "become simultaneously symbolic of each other, and thus become the signs of spatial relations" (1887a, 144). "The separation of objects in space from self is the fundamental form in which the universal activity of mind, as a distinguishing activity, manifests itself. In perception this discriminating factor predominates over the unifying (ibid., 150). The constancies in our visual field as we move our eyes, we take as objective. "It is by an active process of experimentation, directed by the will, that the infant comes to distinguish between self and not-self" (ibid., 151). "Perception, as a whole, is that stage or phase of knowledge in which the function of discrimination or differentiation predominates over that of identification or unification. Since the end of knowledge is the complete unity of perfectly discriminated or definite elements, it follows that perception is not a final stage of knowledge. There are relations of identity which connect objects with each other, and with the self, which are enveloped or absorbed in perception, and which must be developed or brought into consciousness" (ibid., 151–52). The perceptual order and conceptual order are analytically distinct, but are aspects "of the one existing reality—conscious experience" (1887b, 172; cf. 1911a, 391). The distinction between individual agent and his world of experience is not ready-made. The distinction is built up from contemporaneous reciprocal processes. We, "as individuals, are made up out of our experiences of the world, and vice versa" (ibid., 173). Every perception is "made what it is by conceptual elements within it" (ibid.). Perceptions are not given to us prior to attention. Attention does not supervene on ready-made percepts. Attention is "the active connection between the mind and a given psychical complex" and is necessary in order to interpret that complex, in order "to make it a percept" (ibid.). Formation of a percept is a work of generalization; there will be a universal element present in the resulting percept. Logical processes enter into the structure of perceptions. The discipline of logic should not be confined to norms for comparisons of perceptions only with perceptions and conceptions only with conceptions. "There is but one world of knowledge, whether in the form of perceptions or of ideas, and . . . this world is logical all the way through" (1890, 83). But if perceptions and conceptions are of the same fabric of knowledge, how can we verify conceptions or ideas by perceptions or facts? Dewey replies: There are contradictions among our ideas; not all can be projected as facts. Some ideas for the while will be held onto only as possible facts. "It is this tentative holding of an idea which constitutes the logical distinction of idea and fact. The fact is the idea which nothing contradicts. . . . The idea is at first the fact about which difficulties are felt" (ibid., 86; also, 1917, 837–39; 1929b, 178–79; 1933, 851–55). Ideas are the more tentative facts, over against the less tentative facts. The former are tested against the latter, moreover "if the theory gets its verification through the facts, the facts get a transformed and enlarged meaning through the theory" (1890, 87). Verification is a mutual adjustment, an organic interaction, of idea and fact (ibid. & 1917, 937–41). Concepts are general, as a machine whose functions can be executed repeatedly. A concept is an intellectual function arising from our realization of fuller meanings implicit in percepts. Concepts are grasped only in and through the activity that is their constitution. We know them by constructing them (1891, 142–45). ~B~ Now comes Dewey, thoroughly pragmatic realist, his old framework of absolute idealism expressly dismissed. Now is introduced between concept and conception, a distinction (similar to James'): conception is the act of grasping the general, and a concept is the resulting mental product (Dewey 1911a, 390). Universals are only in things; things bearing resemblances, common properties, and relations among themselves; so bearing apart from our subjectivity (ibid.). The concrete and abstract are correlative, a couple, each an intellectual achievement. We begin thought with a vague particular. One's mind working in the direction of "definitely marked out individuality" is the movement to concreteness. "Precise recognition of the characteristic quality and relation which makes the individual object what it is" is the movement to abstractness (ibid., 391; 388–89). As we have seen, Dewey had characterized the formation of a percept as a sort of generalization made possible by attention (1887a, 141; 1887b, 173). Later he seemed to realize more definitely that the attention at work in abstraction is more deliberately selective than that at work in perception (1911a, 387; 1929b, 143). As we have also seen, early in his career, Dewey had maintained that perception is a case of knowledge, that anything present to the mind in perception must be explained as a process of knowing, and that all existence is only relative to knowing. Now (1911b) he rejects the idea that perception is knowledge and, more generally, that the knowledge relation is ubiquitous, homogeneous, and fundamental. By those rejections, he bars idealism. The object of a perception is not a psychical content. Perception has no inherent cognitive status. Perceptions are not themselves cases of knowledge, but "natural events having, in themselves (apart from a use that may be made of them), no more knowledge status or worth than say, a shower or a fever" (1911b, 105). One's relation to objects in one's perceptions as objects requires their not being in relation to one as a knowing mind (ibid., 108). Insofar as one is in conscious perception of an object, there is nothing more than the presence of the object (1912, 209). We and things-not-us stand in organism-environment relations other than the knower-known relation. We are things other than knowers, and objects are, in relation to we who know them, other than objects known. Besides knowers, we are agents, patients, sufferers, and enjoyers; besides objects known, they are food, threats, shade, and tools. Knowledge evidently has emerged in the course of organic evolution from organisms in which there was no mind, and what knowledge now there is evidently is dependent on the brain (1911b, 115; 1929a, 271, 276, 285). The knowledge relation has evidently grown out of more primitive organic relations (1911b, 119–21; 1929a, 252–63, 267–71, 276–86; 1929b, 179–87). "Every thought and meaning has its substratum in some organic act of absorption or elimination, of seeking or turning away from, of destroying or caring for, of signaling or responding" (1929a, 290). Perceptions are natural events, and though not cases of knowledge, perceptions are of fundamental importance for genuine, inferential knowledge. "They are the sole ultimate data, the sole media, of inference to all natural objects and processes. While we do not, in any intelligible or verifiable sense, know them, we know all things that we do know with or by them. They furnish the only ultimate evidence of the existence and nature of the objects which we infer, and they are the sole ultimate checks and tests of the inferences" (1911b, 109). Not only in science, but in daily life, we use perceptions as signs of other perceptions (ibid., 109–10; 1925, 194–95; 1929a, 322–24; 1929b, 140). Perception is a factor in organic action (1912, 206). Perceived objects designate our possible actions upon the environment (ibid., 213, 221; 1929b, 189–91). In perception we discriminate qualities, the so-called sensations (such as Red) being the simple and isolated limits of perceptual discrimination by means of a given sense organ (1925, 196–97; 1929a, 258–63, 336). In perception, too, we integrate various perceptual objects into such larger perceptual wholes (such as a sunset) as are present (1925, 195–96). Perceptual illusions, such as a stick partly in water appearing bent, do not show that percepts are anything more than natural, physical, organic formations. But if that is all there is to percepts, exactly where are they? Dewey thinks of them as distributed in a physical perceptual-motor field. In the case of vision, the location of the distal stimulus is one locus of the field, and the locations of the retinas are other loci of the same physical field. The illusion of the straight stick appearing bent in water occurs because from a "practical standpoint 'where' signifies the point at which action should be taken to control the occurrence of the phenomenon" (1925, 199). The location of a stick in the air is related to our skill of reaching and handling developed in and adapted to the air-only volumetric medium. Naturally, that skill is less efficient and less effective in other refractive media (1925, 195–200; see also 1922, 734–36, 751–54; 1929a, 281–82). No knowledge is perfectly immediate in the sense of being perfectly noninferential. Knowledge by acquaintance? Knowing by acquaintance is rightly distinguished from knowing about a thing or knowing that it is such-and-such a thing. But the distinctive aspect of knowing by acquaintance is immediacy of one's readiness to make appropriate responses to whatever the known object may do. In contrast responses attendant upon knowing about are more reserved (1929a, 329–30). Sensory qualities have cognitive status because "they are the consequences of definite and intentionally performed operations. Only in connection with the intent or idea of these operations do they amount to anything, either as disclosing any fact or giving test and proof of any theory" (1929b, 91). Conversely, ideas, or conceptions, have cognitive (as opposed to esthetic) merit only insofar as they specify, for some context of inquiry, operations to be performed and consequences anticipated to ensue therefrom (ibid., 69–70, 92, 116–17, 142–44, 157–58, 183, 240–41). Dewey proposes that conceptions in pure mathematics and in formal logic also amount to articulations of consequences of operations. Conceptions in those disciplines articulate the possible operations among certain second intentions, executed symbolically (ibid., 119–34). But second intentions arise from and may return to first intentions, our physical conceptions, so from and to sense experience. References Dewey, J. 1886. The Psychological Standpoint. In volume 1 of Dewey 1969. ——. 1887a. Psychology. In volume 2 of Dewey 1969. ——. 1887b. Illusory Psychology. In volume 1 of Dewey 1969. ——. 1890. The Logic of Verification. In volume 3 of Dewey 1969. ——. 1891. How Do Concepts Arise from Percepts? In volume 3 of Dewey 1969. ——. 1911a. Contributions to Cyclopedia of Education. In Dewey 1978. ——. 1911b. Brief Studies in Realism. In Dewey 1978. ——. 1912. Perception and Organic Action. In Dewey 1931. ——. 1917. Essays in Experimental Logic. Portions in Dewey 1939. ——. 1922. Human Nature and Conduct. Portions in Dewey 1939. ——. 1925. A Naturalistic Theory of Sense Perception. In Dewey 1931. ——. 1929a [1925]. Experience and Nature. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton. ——. 1929b. The Quest for Certainty. Volume 4 of John Dewey: The Later Works. 1984. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. ——. 1931. Philosophy and Civilization. New York: Minton, Balch. ——. 1933 [1911]. How We Think. 2nd ed. Portion in Dewey 1939. ——. 1939. Intelligence in the Modern World. J. Ratner, editor. New York: Random House. ——. 1969. John Dewey: The Early Works. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. ——. 1978. John Dewey: The Middle Works. Vol. 6. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.
  13. I wrote this paper in 1999. Lately at Objectivism Online, I’ve been remarking on Leonard Peikoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, with a zoom-in on his treatment of logic, proof, and validation in that work. The concept corresponding in Dewey to the Objectivist concept validation of assertion or conviction is Dewey’s concept warranted assertability, which he introduced into the philosophical vocabulary in his 1938 and which continues among some American philosophers to this day. The two concepts differ; the two philosophies differ. There are, however, markedly distinctive commonalities between these two concepts in these philosophies. Some of the overlaps of the two philosophies will be seen in the paper below. Dewey 1938 was learned by Leonard Peikoff in writing his 1964 Ph.D. dissertation, which pertained to fundamental questions in the philosophy of logic over its history from the Greeks to mid-twentieth century. As is well-known, I’ve written much on Peikoff’s dissertation in my “Books to Mind” sector here at OO. Peikoff’s dissertation-learning is a contributor to his OPAR and his 1967 “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy.” At the time I wrote this paper below, I’d not yet studied late works of Dewey, including his 1938. For the topic of this paper that is just fine, and this paper is good background for his 1938. Dewey 1938 is Logic: A Theory of Inquiry. That is Volume 12 of Later Works of John Dewey. One will see at the link some blurbs from back in the day praising Dewey as making significant contribution to logic. To our own generation, that is a peculiar way of putting it. When we think of logic, we think of what are in the logic texts (supposing one has studied some logic text—without which one is greatly handicapped in philosophy studies). Neither Dewey nor Kant nor Rand made contributions to what is in those texts. Their efforts were towards what today we would call philosophy of logic, although, to be sure, each of these philosophers integrated what is in such texts with a wider philosophy, particularly with their epistemology, and promoted a conception of logic as necessarily intertwined with the wider view. The editor of the Collected Works of John Dewey and long-time principal of the Center for Dewey Studies was Jo Ann Boydston. The variant of the spelling of that last name with mine is common and does not indicate that common ancestry is terribly far back. However, that was her husband’s name. I had learned a good while ago that Jo Ann (nee) Harrison was Choctaw and had been born in Oklahoma, some things in common with my own heritage. With a little research online, through a 1940 census together with a 1916 history book on Oklahoma, I’ve today learned a little more of her heritage. Understand that Oklahoma became a State in 1907 and formerly had been Indian Territory. The southeastern part of that territory was the Choctaw Nation. My folks grew up in that area. It was a great grandmother of mine who was the Choctaw (on the Boydstun side). In the 1830’s, by three different processions (Trail of Tears), the tribe had been removed from the Southeastern United States. Jo Ann’s father was Choctaw (portion unknown to me—I should look at the Dawes Rolls) born in the Choctaw Nation in 1888. He obtained higher education and became a member of the Oklahoma bar. His grandfather had been on the Trail of Tears and had proceeded to become one of the wealthiest men in Choctaw Nation. I sometimes acquire a favorite quotation from a given philosopher I’ve studied. In Dewey’s case, it is: “In perception we live reality itself.” (1912)
  14. Merlin, do you think proposals to illuminate similarities in the objects as given in sensory perception and to illuminate talk of such things in terms of measurements and measurement-omissions respectively could be merely attempts at intellectual characterizations and elements in explanations? Rather than phenomenological descriptions or eliminative reductive explanations? I can break a stick by bending it against my thigh or by twisting the stick in opposing rotational directions without knowing about the engineering concept of stress, it’s varieties, and their quantifications. Still, the engineering mathematical characterizations and elements of explanation can be good, and not somehow a sleight-of-hand in characterizing or partially explaining my stick-breaking. Same for philosophical scientifically informed explanations and analyses, such as in Kelley's book The Evidence of the Senses or in his two papers, informed by psychology, elaborating Rand on abstraction. Aristotle had categories into which things must fall and stay exclusively. Rand’s metaphysics is one in which some things can fall in certain ones plurally according to existential context. Sure, mind is an activity, but as a system, specifically an instrumentation and control system, it is an entity. Do you think that is a demerit of her categories in comparison to Aristotle’s? Do you stand by Aristotle’s one-one relation of a thing to a category no matter the existential context? Modern science has been shot through with replacing Aristotelian qualities-science with quantification of qualities and gaining much ground by it. Work on computational mind continues promising as well.
  15. 6 July 2021 - Debate over the nature of concepts and essence has been renewed here, debate between the Objectivist account (defended by David Kelley) and a moderate realist account (defended by Douglas Rasmussen and Douglas Den Uyl). Also, related:
  16. Dewey distinguished validity-invalidity from formal correctness-incorrectness. “Any given proposition is such that it promotes or retards the institution of final resolution [of an inquiry]. It cannot be logically adjudged, therefore, merely on the basis of its formal relations to other propositions. The syllogism ‘All satellites are made of green cheese; the moon is a satellite; therefore, it is made of green cheese’ is formally correct. The propositions involved are, however, invalid, not just because they are ‘materially false’, but because instead of promoting inquiry they would, if taken and used, retard and mislead it.” (1938, 287–88) Peikoff would say of that sort of syllogism that “it is not a process of cognition at all; it is merely an imitation of the form of logic while dropping its essence” (OPAR 120). We noted above that in the Objectivist view the process of proof “must be grounded in observed fact. To derive a conclusion from arbitrary premises . . . is not a process of logic. . . . If logic is to be the means of objectivity, a logical conclusion must be derived from reality; it must be warranted by antecedent knowledge, which itself may rest on earlier knowledge, and so on back, until one reaches the self-evident, the data of sense” (119–20). Careful Objectivist writing, such as OPAR, does does not go so far as Dewey right out the gate and pronounce deduction with unwarranted premises as logically invalid without preface with Peikoff's restriction “If logic is to be the means of . . . .” But Objectivism is quickly close to Dewey in this vicinity by taking such a deduction to be not validated, where validation is meant as a superordinate of proof. Validation, in Objectivist dedicated service, “subsumes any process of establishing an idea’s relationship to reality, whether deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, or perceptual self-evidence. In this sense, one can and must validate every item of knowledge . . .” (OPAR 8). I notice that the term proof in common usage also has that same extension, the same extension as what Peikoff is here giving the term validation. One dictionary definition of proof is “the evidence establishing the validity of a given assertion.” Under that usage of proof, for any variation in the referent of validity there is a companion usage of proof. Of the several usages of proof defined in American Heritage, two are: (i) the proving of something by experiment, test, or trial, and (ii) the validation of a proposition by application of specified rules, as of induction or deduction, to assumptions, axioms, and sequentially derived conclusions. Dewey held that inference by itself does not exhaust logical functions and alone determine all logical forms. “On the contrary, proof, in the sense of test, is an equally important function” (1938, 160). He means, from the context: test is a logical function equal in importance to the logical function that is inference. For Dewey’s specification of logic, both (i) and (ii) are part of logic. Dewey, further: “An ‘inference’ that is not grounded in the evidential nature of the material from which it is drawn is not an inference. It is a more or less wild guess. To say that an inference is grounded in any degree whatever is equivalent to saying that the material upon which it is based is such as to be a factor in warranting its validity . . . .” (424) Under the Objectivist meaning of logic, which conceives it as an aspect of identification of reality, this much can be said in step with Dewey: from premises arbitrary, premises ungrounded, no valid logical inferences are drawn, no logical proofs are assembled. (To be continued.)
  17. Some Photo Albums Tuning True Places Home Paris Reading of a poem of mine - Placement
  18. Leonard Peikoff’s dissertation advisor Sydney Hook had read several versions of all the chapters in Dewey 1938, and Dewey thanked Hook for his immense helpfulness in comments and criticisms on the work. Dewey was 80 years old when this book was completed and published; he had begun developing a conception of logic along these lines 40 years past. Dewey outlines the conception of logic borne by his title Logic: The Theory of Inquiry* in the first chapter of that work (1938). The proximate subject-matter of logic, what one learns in the elementary texts, is not greatly disputed among philosophers. It is the ultimate subject-matter, “what’s it all about”, that is greatly disputed. Dewey’s characterization of what logic is ultimately, what is its ultimate setting and ground: “All logical forms . . . arise within the operation of inquiry and are concerned with control of inquiry so that it may yield warranted assertions. This conception implies much more than that logical forms are disclosed or come to light when we reflect upon processes of inquiry that are in use. Of course it means that; but it also means that the forms originate in operations of inquiry.” (11) Dewey’s thesis challenged the view that although there is a field of methodology of inquiry in every science, art, craft, and profession, that field of methodology of inquiry is not logic (12). One big question Dewey must answer is the problem of how every inquiry must hold to the standard of logic, yet inquiry originate those standards (13). The similar question for Objectivism is how can the normative constraint of noncontradiction hold for every occasion of identification, yet that constraint as norm arise from occasions of identification. Ernest Nagel writes in the Introduction for Dewey 1938 that before Dewey there had been philosophers who had taken logic to be a theory of inquiry and that Dewey had learned from them for his own theory: Aristotle, Descartes, Arnauld, Mill, Russell, Bosanquet, Lotze, Sigwart, and Peirce (xi–xii). Dewey dissented from the theories of these mainly because of their unfamiliarity with methods of modern experimental science or because they gave such fragmentary and unsound accounts of those methods. Standing against theories of logic in which logical forms are taken as syntactical structure of statements (10), Dewey took logical form to refer to the function of some item in an inquiry. Propositions have no definite logical form when not being used in a definite way to achieve the goal of an inquiry. Nagel points out the similarity to taking data of observation as not yet being evidence until used for testing some hypothesis (xx–xxi). Logical forms, in Dewey’s view, are not logically prior to or external to methods of scientific inquiry. I notice some comfortable fit on the point with Aristotle in his treatment of deduction and induction in Prior Analytics and Posterior Analytics. However, the purport of Aristotle in Metaphysics of a decidedly and specifically metaphysical basis for logical principles is a move rejected by Dewey, who disputed that we have a faculty for discerning self-evident truths to take for axioms imported as norms in science from outside science (18; rather like Peirce in this point). Dewey died in 1952. He surely would reject the view of logic that Rand set out in her 1957. Rand was therein running with Aristotle on philosophy of logic as in Metaphysics, though she was making some innovations thereon: existence is identity, consciousness is identification. Dewey could go along with the idea that logic has its base in aspects of existence and the idea that baseless assertions are in defiance of logic. But he would object against Rand her view, like Aristotle’s, that logical principles are to be conceived as axioms, axioms that are true. Rather, logical principles (such as identity, noncontradiction, and excluded middle) are experientially, superbly well-founded hypotheses or postulates (18–29). The question that then arises for us is how Objectivism, with identification taking the place of Dewey’s inquiry and, contra Dewey, with an axiomatic, metaphysically based characterization of logical principles, proceeds to maintain a conception of proof with such similarity to the controversial lines of Dewey 1938 concerning logical proof?
  19. This post is a sidebar. I had mentioned in the post before last my usual line of objections to defining logic with noncontradictory taken for differentia on the genus (art of) identification: some inferences are on identity directly. I see since that post that Rand was somewhat cognizant of this consideration, at least by January 1961. John Hospers was at that time listening to, and by letters critiquing, the Branden tapes The Basic Principles of Objectivism, and Rand, conferring with Branden and Peikoff, was replying by letters to Hospers. Rand writes: “You say that ‘A is A’ does not ‘provide a validation for any particular arguments’, but ‘All A is B, all B is C, therefore all A is C” does. I will answer by telling you a story I heard years ago. Two men were arguing about which is more useful to men, the sun or the moon, and the argument was decided in favor of the moon, because, they declared, the moon shines at night, when it’s dark—while the sun shines in the daytime, when it’s light anyway. “What, if not ‘A is A’, gives any validity to ‘All A is B, all B is C, therefore all A is C? What is the latter but one of the concrete [particular?] applications or derivatives of ‘A is A’? [applause from Leibniz and Kant and their colleagues on that point]. And if anyone claims that something other than ‘the Aristotelian laws of thought’ was needed to validate that principle, he is using the same type of reasoning as the man in the sun-moon controversy.” (Letters of Ayn Rand, 527) Rand did not mention there, perhaps was not cognizant of, and anyway, it would have been out of place to take up right there that that syllogism’s validity is straight from identity and requires no invocation of noncontradiction: therefore her definition of logic had been not quite right. The perfectly plain correctness of that syllogism was in fact the basis Aristotle used in Prior Analytics to show the correctness of all the other forms of syllogism. (He did not realize, unlike latter philosophers, that identity could be a basis of that basic syllogism and its immediately manifest validity.) (My own definition of logic, now published in my fundamental paper “Existence, We” and recommended as replacement for Rand’s definition: Logic is “general law, for rational identifications, of not-both exclusions and our self-mappings of referents.” Full understanding of this definition requires coming to it in its context in the paper.)
  20. Boydstun

    Eminent Domain

    Review of Epstein's Takings by Joan Taylor Kennedy*
  21. Boydstun

    Eminent Domain

    Richard Epstein's outline of his book Takings giving a restrictive theory of the Eminent Domain clause. "I should note that Takings is an effort to find in a single clause of the Constitution the distillation of a comprehensive political theory. If the book is correct, then it is possible to find guidance in a single provision to the fundamental problems of political obligation. The same analysis that applies to the acquisition of original property rights carries over to the largest questions of social organization."
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