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Everything posted by Boydstun

  1. I am technically not an Objectivist, since some of my points of disagreement with Rand are ones essential to her philosophy. But I have much sympathy and overlap with her philosophy, and I have always represented Rand's or anyone's philosophy as accurately as possible in discussions of it. I am elderly, though not first-generation, or anyway not zero-generation. There are some Objectivists today, of every age, who judge what's true by what Rand said on candidates for truth or at least what they think Rand would say on candidates. Sometimes that is innocent in that it is just a short way of finding out what implications of Rand's fundamental views there are, given that they have come to accept those fundamentals as true of reality, Rand's fundamental views. Other times it is intellectual laziness or modest intelligence. But many, old and young, think for themselves and well. There is a passage in Rand stating that that is what she hoped for in her readers, but right now, I have to go to sleep.
  2. Read the entire composition very carefully. Everything is cited, and hopefully you go to Kant to know Kant. Metaphysical knowledge would have to be synthetic a priori. You know that, right? It is elementary Kant. There is no excuse, with the English translations available today, to make assertions about what Kant thought, without citations. Likewise, for Rand: quote exactly and give the citation. Show they say what you assert they say, and you will also be making a handy resource for you to return to for cites for your future re-readings of these thinkers Keep reading.
  3. If you actually bothered to read what people write here, you would see how flatly false is that generalization "all". But perhaps you presume nobody here has anything to say that you might learn from, you are going to bury your head in the sand about what they write, and you have only come here to enlighten these folks whom you presume to all be philosophical illiterates and have yet to discover thinking for themselves.
  4. -Ayn Rand (For the New Intellectual, 32; Kndl ed.) If the majority of philosophers rejected Kant's "noumenal" realm, they have left out an important aspect of his philosophy - the source of all phenomena. Because even if the noumenal is unknowable, it is, for Kant, the grounds for phenomena beyond the senses. It doesn't matter if the senses modify, what matters is that Kant posited the noumenal's existence. It is THIS that is the problem with modern philosophy - not the acceptance of Kant's philosophy, but its rejection of the ground of appearances (or phenomena). Logically, Rand committed the Fallacy of the Consequent in that quote. Because she focused on the alleged consequences of Kant's philosophy rather than specifically on the (incorrect) rejection of the noumenal realm by post-Kantian philosophers, which is my point. Despite the inherent unknowability of the noumenal, its positing serves as the foundation for understanding the empirical origins of phenomena, a notion often overlooked in contemporary philosophical discourse. The empiricist often confuses Kant's form of Idealism with those that infer the existence of an external world from the matter of appearances (mental states). But Kant did not infer it, he wholeheartedly accepted its existence. He only inferred the existence of the thing-in-itself (or noumenon), not the existence of external things, which he accepted. The noumenal is the ground of experience. Without it, there is no perception, nothing to perceive. Kant never denied the ground of perception, only that it is knowable in itself, that is, by somehow going outside of your consciousness to know it directly without your senses. The noumenal is posited to exist as the ground of perception, of something for the senses to sense. The only way to know it directly would be to somehow go outside of your senses. Simple as that. Kant v. Rand
  5. Boydstun


    Ethical Egoism and an Alternative, and Honesty
  6. The preceding (X) is my proposal for a biological basis of distinctly moral proprieties. It is not a moral code so far as it is now developed. There are some virtues that may be drawn from this basis, however, and in this it will be helpful to compare with Rand and with Kant. As with Rand’s, in my proposal, biological operations as they resulted in the course of nature on earth resulted in such things as needs and functions coming into the world. It is upon the organization that is life and its character we have the fact upon which oughts can have objective ground. Functions had come into the world before humans emerged. We and our ancestors were each of us functioning, more and less well, at any stage of our existence. Famously, for part of Rand’s ethical base, she characterized life in complete generality as self-generating and self-maintaining. This she took from standard biology along with the findings that all organismic life is cellular the findings of ontogeny and of evolution from Darwin to the present. It is quite true that self-generation and self-maintenance are features (which is character in my general ontology) of any life. Even if we humans become creators of life from inanimate matter, our success will mean that we created means for the appearance of matter organized such that it is self-generating and self-maintaining. We are relying on that character when we plant, water, and fertilize crops, even if we only dimly notice that the crops do the growing themselves and possess various ranges of adaptability themselves under changes in surrounding conditions. That living things have functions in their subsystems to the preservation and replication of the whole organism and that living things have powers of self-generation and self-maintenance might better have some elements such as growth drawn out more, but I’ll stay with Rand’s broad meanings of self-generation and self-maintenance. Notice that these steps are not necessarily only suited for a ladder to ethical egoism. To be a fair characterization of life in general, we must understand “self” in self-generating and self-maintaining in a broad and indeed rather shifty way. Overwhelmingly, life gets started from life. Other life. Self as individual organism and self as its species work back and forth for continuation of those two selves. An individual life can be just a quickly disposable trial tool in the function of preserving the species, although overall, the species requires individual organisms. Of course. I stress that functions are operating in each one of us in all one's ontogeny. Rand noted that the pleasure-pain mechanism of the body is the progenitor of what is joy and suffering in organic elaboration and that all of those are indicators for good or evil for life of and proper functioning in the individual animal, including humans. I stress that it is not only other animals in which all of that is part of its overall individual control system. Our high-level, socially instructed conscious control system in maturity remains tied to the automatic one still running. Rand centered on a choice to live in the case of human life. I think that element is better characterized as a choice to continue living. And that means, as stated in the monograph, continuing to pursue the facts and the coordination with others in that pursuit. Rand has it that rationality is our overarching method for getting the facts and making good uses of them. That is fine, but I contest the picture in which one was just going along alone rationally pursuing the facts and how to use them and then as it were noticed, secondarily, that the existence of other people is enjoyable, knowledge-boosting, and economically advantageous. The higher intelligence of humans does indeed have launchings spontaneously in individuals. Young children will spontaneously seriate a group of rods according to their lengths; none of our closest primate pals do that. But we have been in intelligent human company all along our individual active existence, from precautions and playing to learning common nouns, proper names, verbs, classification, and predication. Rationality is profoundly social in one from the get-go, even as its acquisition by each person consists in individual facility in its operation independently of direction from others and self-direction in seeking information or specialized skills from others Rationality is seen by Rand as the basic moral virtue because it is the necessary general operation needed for the human form of life. She takes the other virtues in her ethical system to be salient strands of rationality aimed at individual survival. I say, rather, that rationality is the given proper being of a human and the proper responsiveness to persons, other and self. Rationality is the grand means of human survival, as Rand held, but that is not the whole of its story. Rand had proposed that the virtue of rationality is not only virtue in a social setting, but virtue—main moral virtue—for a castaway on a deserted island. This is because in the isolated setting rationality is necessary to the individual’s survival. That is so, however, I say that enabling survival is not the only source of the goodness of rationality. There is a person on that island: the castaway. Rationality is proper responsiveness to and continuation of his self. It is call of life in that life form that is his personal self that is the distinctively moral in the virtue of rationality for a castaway. Though the castaway carries along other in foundational frame, he is now the only human present. He is an end-in-himself with much rightness to continue himself. (A pet might go a ways for fulfilling the need to love and interact with another human self.) Returned to society, an individual remains an end-in-himself rightly making his life, a fully human life with interactions and mutual values and interactions with the other ends-in-themselves that are human selves at centers of making lives. Ayn Rand offered an ethical egoism in which rationality took its place as central overall virtue for a person due to the need for rationality in making one’s reality-according individual human life. She tried to weave the prima facie virtue of truth-telling to others as a derivative of the need to be honest with oneself about the facts. That is not plausibly the basic reason one wants to and should want to be honest with others. Rand’s account of honesty is inadequate by reliance on a purely egoistic basis. Ethical egoism, a genuine one such as hers, one attempting to derive all its moral virtues purely from self-interest, is false. It rests on an inadequate view of what is the constitution of the human self. (To be continued.)
  7. I don't think that Rand should go along with "We live" at the same level as "Existence exists." That is for two reasons. One is that she would be more comfortable offhand just putting first acknowledgement of life (at an elementary apprehension of it) with the acknowledgement of consciousness, which is in that second moment, the stepping back from the statement and assertion "Existence exists" and reporting her corollary axiom as she did. To consciousness in that second axiom, I doubt she should have any problem with a parenthetical ("there is no grasp of consciousness without attendant grasp that one is living") And similarly forward from statement of her axioms getting out the primacy of existence to consciousness, on to the following statement, Rand should be comfortable acceding that wherever consciousness puts in an appearance, so does life: "Whatever the degree of your knowledge, these two—existence and consciousness— are axioms you cannot escape, these two are the irreducible primaries implied in any action you undertake, in any part of your knowledge and in its sum, from the first ray of light you perceive at the start of your life to the widest erudition you might acquire at it its end." My difference with Rand on these starting points, as you know, is that leaves out some of what is among the firsts in the first ground from that first ray of light to the final lights out: being alive and with other. The second reason Rand would not go along with "We Live" being yoked at the ground level with "Existence exists" nor go along with the more expansive second moment of mine replacing hers of 1957 is that it ends up kicking down the ladder to ethical egoism. This was not evident to me until a couple of days ago, when I wrote chapter X of the monograph; I had not known that a ladder alternate to the egoism one can be stood well suited to and intimate with my version of first philosophy I had completed and published in 2021 (and again shown, less technically, in the online FB monograph). But anyone will be able to see how that goes in the next post I make in this thread. By the way, professional philosophers have noted before the amazing absence of other in Descartes ground floor he arrives at in Meditations. I notice, however, that God is left there with him in his final elements withstanding his (faux) radical skeptical doubt exercise for getting the first floor and what is in it (also, he ends up with enough elements to construct an Ontological proof of God's existence). And I, perhaps I alone, have noticed the amazing absence of aliveness of his ego at the ground floor. Of course he was set on having life understood as machines joined with spirits, and he had just gone through an exercise trying scoot machines off the table along with a lot of other physical-world stuff. From my perspective (this point being taken from Rand) the perfection Descartes would put into the concept God is a stolen concept once he has scooted life off the table on account of its machine component. No, I never saw Rand give any lectures or Q&A's. I got to see her on television a couple of times on the Johnny Carson Show, and on a tape recording (in 1977), I got to hear her participating in the Q&A's of the Peikoff lecture series "The Philosophy of Objectivism." Of course there is plenty of video of her speaking online now. I did not hear any lectures of Nathaniel Branden during his time teamed with Rand. However, I did get to see him give a couple of lectures with Q&A around the turn into the present century. More importantly, in a way, was hearing him speak in the early 1970's to a group of maybe 25 people in a room at O'Hare airport between his flights. He was then a master of group control, or maybe something like hypnosis; you could have heard a pin drop. He was talking about psychology, which had figured prominently in Rand's writings too at least into the '70's. Too prominently. I was refreshed to see the decline of that with the rise of Peikoff and Gotthelf as Rand's important protege's. I have not communicated with any philosophers associated with ARI on the philosophy I have developed; one is a Facebook 'friend' and can get any feedback he has for me to me easily; I don't expect any. As you see from "likes" and encouraging words on the FB post of it, there are other professional philosophers to whom what I have made brings at least a smile. I have one personal friend who is a professional philosopher (and some personal acquaintance with professors from whom I took courses last century and this). He first got a Ph.D. in experimental psychology, then a second Ph.D., which was the philosophy one. He is wrapping up a career of teaching philosophy in California this year, and he and wife will be moving to Michigan in retirement, last I heard. Anyway, he said something amusing once during our interval of me sending him early drafts of parts of my original philosophy and he sending feedback. He quipped something like "No-man-is-an-island individualism."
  8. Boydstun

    Eminent Domain

    Victory in effecting just compensation under the takings clause (unanimous 4/16/24). Devillier et al. v. Texas Institute for Justice
  9. The historian Robert Hessen has died. He was a contributor to Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. He was the author of In Defense of the Corporation.
  10. Ooops! Resonant, not Radiant. Maybe praise from MP was close in my head. Or maybe it was some sort of Freudian slip (when you say one thing, but mean your mother).
  11. (I am posting the tenth chapter of my monograph here partly so that I can point to it exactly in finally following up on a request from SL for specification on my differences with Rand in Ethics.) X. Mortal Life and Care “Existence exists, we live.” The act of grasping that statement implies that things exist, including you and I conscious living selves, our consciousness being something alive and being the faculty of perceiving that which exists. There is normativity in that most basic metaphysical frame, with that immediate implication and explication. We are given, dedicated to grasping reality in awareness concerted with other and in coordinated acts with other. This is automatic animal engineering-performance-norm of operation. We are given, already loving truth, truth-getting, act, self, and other. With later education, we learn that life ends, that it requires maintenance, and in our human case, that it requires production and education and social cooperative conventions. We learn that those means to life require a waking state and adequate sleep. Going beyond the original grasp of life in breath and cry and suckle, learning more of life and its requirements requires some focused effort. The plenty and exuberance of human life of today required individual creativity, initiative, and freedom coordinated at the large social scale by moral- and rights-constraints on treatments of others. Human moral life arises in the milieu of learned character of life, all within and ever with the basic frame “Existence exists, we live.” In learning life beyond the basic knowing, we can grasp the concept of “alternative” mined by Ayn Rand: Only with advent of the ends-getting organized matter that is life do alternatives enter nature. I observe, in addition: We say that when we've got the accelerator on, a given electron is either going to encounter a positron or not. That saying is true to nature, but it, unlike identity, is not something in nature independently of a striving mind. Either-Or, I wrote in "Existence, We", is based in identities in nature, but is only in nature where living systems are in nature facing nature. That is, the Law of Excluded Middle for thought rises as high-animal mind rises by organic evolutionary layers on vegetative neuronal control systems of animals. The electron will either encounter a positron or it will not, but the electron does not face an alternative of continued existence or not. We see the possibilities, but the electron, unlike a living cell, does not face them. We and all living things face the alternative of continued existence or not, and from that fundamental alternative, all alternative is born. In moral life, we elect to keep life going, including to keep going life known in the basic frame. Once we have the developed powers, we elect to keep thinking, coordinating, creating, and producing. The moral virtue of truth-telling is rooted in the basic frame, constantly at hand. Life known in the basic frame is striving and growing, and doing so with other. Those were given; they are given engineering specs. Keeping such life operative in oneself is moral life. Striving and growing with other becomes joint thinking and production, and, as well, joint generative, out-flowing love of nature, the creation nature affords, and such love of such selves. Living selves. Moral life is elected allowance of continued resonance of life among selves. Selves living ever under the alternative of cessation, which is death. The call of moral conduct is the call of life in its form that is living selves.
  12. My monograph These Hours of Resonant Existence sets out the philosophy I have created, in ten brief chapters, in a way hopefully accessible to some of the generally educated public: no traditional technical terminology from philosophy, and, unlike my usual substantive papers, no citations or references, supporting or contrasting. I have not yet composed two of the chapters: VIII. Science and Mathematics and IX. Logic. These will be more technical due to their topics. I have excellent education for them, and, should I live a few years more (which I expect), I’ll get those done, although their lengths may be longer than the other chapters. I had minored in Philosophy in my first college degree, which was from University of Oklahoma (Physics major) in 1971. I continued to learn more philosophy across the decades, but it was not until January of 2014, that it occurred to me that I likely had a pretty full original philosophy in my head, and that I should try to get what was there on paper and work on it. I had not earlier set out to create a new philosophy. I had simply loved philosophy and never stopped learning it and mulling it over. One Saturday in the 1980’s, I got home from work at my commercial job, and, no sooner had I come in the door, I announced to Jerry:* “I figured out what I’ve been doing all these years.” “What?” “I’ve been making a mind.” Now I know also I was making a philosophy. In the history of Western philosophy (which I know a bit about), the two philosophies most worth comparing and contrasting with mine are Rand’s and Kant’s. In my next post in this thread, hopefully tomorrow, I’ll try to do a run-through of significant likenesses and conflicts between my philosophy of Resonant Existence, as shown in the monograph so far, and Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.
  13. I have now posted* at Facebook the first seven chapters and the tenth one (whose title has been changed to Mortal Life and Care).
  14. Where you say "Consciousness is conscious," I think you really need "Consciousness is conscious of existence". I know that the latter is included in what you mean in the shorter, but readers outside of Rand readers (might you be having their audience) would not. But to your sequencing: When you state "Consciousness is alive" that looks to be a third-person sort of statement. That is fine, and we and biologists and neuroscientist take that standpoint usefully all the time. My view is that we have not only that outside look: consciousness is alive. We have also and firstly the inside experience of it. That elementary take on life is not, as I observed in the text, so extensive on what all is life, such as one can learn later (e.g. that life ends, requires maintenance, and in the human form, requires production). The elementary knowing of life in breathing and in elementary knowing of consciousness is what I place back earlier in the sequence. I lay it right with "Existence exists", but not in the form "Consciousness is alive." Rather: "Existence exists, we live". (Or, as we have discussed "I and other live.") That is what is most basic with us. I should mention also, as I wrote in the paper "Existence, We", this "we live" does not arise in that second-moment 'corollary axiom' movement. No. This "we live" is right there in the first phase containing "existence exists." The two are a yoked pair right there at the base. So my way with this is would be in parallel with a recoiling from Descartes for whom the basic things (after God) are matter and mind, i.e., extension and thought. A recoiling to Augustine, where knowing one's aliveness is primitive and whose form of Descartes's later skeptical exercise is that even being under a deception, one knows that one lives. Though, in my basic knowing, the life of self known is companioned: another lives.
  15. An explosion is now reported here, which may be some retaliation of Israel upon the recent aerial attack on Israel by Iran. CNN
  16. Why and why and why. A sister of mine committed suicide a few years ago (a wife, mother, and grandmother), and from what I know of her physical miseries for which she could get no further help, it was a well-and-long-considered sensible suicide.* The appropriate model of human perfection is not a perfect crystal, but perfect health, which can be lost and possibly regained. Resilience and recoveries are virtues. I was in a mental hospital as a young man, due to my suicidal responses to my existential situation. I began to read The Fountainhead there, and my doctor encouraged me to finish it, which I did. And I lived another six decades (so far, so good) without such problems again, and I achieved difficult things in love and work and in personal projects, though not ones I most treasured and aimed for as a youth. And I have been happy. "I never promised you a rose garden. I never promised you perfect justice . . . I never promised you peace or happiness. My help is so that you can be free to fight for all of these things." –Dr. Fried –S
  17. Indictment, updated, of this case, with jury selection currently underway: People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump
  18. I had read the Ellis recounting of the debate within his general argument with the Objectivist philosophy in Is Objectivism a Religion? (1968) when it was new, just after having read Rand's literature and her philosophy. The title question is something one might ask of a philosophy, although one should really get on to other questions about a philosophy under the project announced and praised in the front flap of the jacket: a brilliant, smashing, no-holds-barred assessment of the objectivist [should be the proper noun Objectivist] philosophy." The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (2005 – 2nd ed.) has a brief characterization of the philosophy as in the category Popular Philosophy, of the sort that, though amateur (term not used in a derogatory way), considers the standard technical problems of philosophy. Notable philosophers from Descartes to Hume were technically in the class amateur. "Amateur philosophy as a genre is really a creation of the nineteenth century with its mass literacy and self-education. . . . Carlyle was a prophet rather than any sort of philosopher, as was Ruskin." (740). In the twentieth century, the number of amateur philosophers finding their way into print declined. One who did was "Ayn Rand, strenuous exponent of objectivism and self-interest" (ibid.). Fair enough for a brief mention. By now, of course, we have Blackwell's A Companion to Ayn Rand (2016) and other works by professional scholars on Rand's works and philosophy. These are extensive expositions and examinations of the philosophy. Albert Ellis was a clinical psychologist, and his interest in that is salient in his look at "Objectivist philosophy" in this book. His aim is to make out that Objectivism "is a religious movement rather than a rational, scientific, or empirically based philosophy" (293). His chapters cover: seeming rationalities of Objectivism (he favors rationality); Objectivist views on self-esteem, economics, and politics; extremism, dogmatism, absolutism, need for certainty, tautological and definitional thinking, intolerance of opposing views, deification and hero worship, unrealism and anti-empiricism; and condemning and punitive attitudes in Objectivism. Dr. Ellis did not seem able to get a grip on conceptual dependencies and would not seem promising for pursuing philosophy professionally. He sided with the divide of logic and existence championed in logical positivism, which had lately passed into the dustbin of history (which he likely did not know). By Ellis's report, the debate with N. Branden at the New Yorker hotel had about 1100 people in attendance, maybe 800 favoring Branden's side. In his book, Ellis's best (though inadequate) indictment of the philosophy for elements of religion that he despised, mostly rightly, was by relating audience behavior during the debate and connecting those unsavory behaviors of the largely Objectivist audience to teachings of Rand and Branden, definers of the philosophy. One item I remembered across my life concerning his report on that audience was not, in my estimation, stupid, shallow, or rah-rah. It warmed my heart. I had more soul-brothers and -sisters than I had imagined in something unusual and profound: "In the course of my initial presentation during the debate, I quoted Miss Rand's statement (from "The Objectivist Ethics") that 'happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions'. Could anyone ever be happy when held to this extreme standard? I asked. And scores of voices from the audience screamed back (somewhat to my surprise): Yes!!!" (294). The most serious advancement in understanding comes in written documents, not oral exchanges. Before the entrance of writing, there could be no Babylonian astronomy, no Greek harmonics, no Aristotle, no Euclid. In the next few days, oral arguments will be held at the US Supreme Court for landmark cases. The Justices will learn from the oral arguments. Great knowledge and skill will be on display. But the really momentous debate will be in the written briefs. Greetings, Skylark1
  19. Thank you, Monart, for that possibility that "Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification" could be restatements of Rand's corollary axiom from the axiom "Existence exists", her corollary axiom "that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists." Yes, "Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification" can be a restatement of her corollary axiom, but I'd say that in the restatement the status as corollary axiom is lost, and in this particular restatement, Rand is moving on to a further important and grand exposition of ontology and philosophy of mind. Rand's notion of such a thing as a "corollary axiom" was an innovation. The closest thing to it I've found is something we could notice when following Euclid in geometry. After reading his axioms, postulates, and definitions, one could step back and realize "I'm going to need means of drawing and a straightedge and a compass to make the labeled diagrams required to do these ensuing demonstrations." That is only an analogy with Rand's stepping back after the assertion "Existence exists." In philosophy, there is a similarity with Descartes's movement of mind as susceptible to deception to existence of human mind. Aquinas had mentioned that move, but not in a context of Descartes-like description of or excuse for pretended super-duper state of doubt by a sane mind. Descartes's move is backwards in our order of knowing: One already has to know one exists to follow (pretend along with Descartes) the exercises of the MEDITATIONS. So that is not really much similarity in fundamental moves between Rand and Descartes. That Rand has axioms is like Spinoza, but the likeness does not amount to much. Spinoza does not have something like "corollary axiom". He is using axioms from which to deduce further propositions. That was not Rand's use of axioms and not her program. She was using 'Existence exists and is Identity' as a touchstone for right thought and right inquiry and as bar to metaphysics of being that had been crafted by the Arabs and Latins to have a niche in being for existence of God of the sort in which they had faith. Also a bar against radical epistemological skepticism. She was not using 'Existence exists and is identity', and 'consciousness is fundamentally consciousness of existence and is identification' as a basis for proving further propositions. I have not included in the present presentation the axiomatic aspect that my metaphysics can take on (which is detailed in my paper "Existence, We"). Like Rand, my program is at odds with Descartes and with Spinoza. Although I don't go into the possibility in this monograph of axiomatic structure being lain on my metaphysics, my invocation of the character of examples and counterexamples per se in arguing for the necessity of my categories resonates with Rand's efforts to prove that existence requires identity (efforts along the lines of Aristotle in defending the Principle of (Non)Contradiction).
  20. These Hours of Radiant Existence* This is the philosophy I created, my life work. This presentation is only the length of a monograph, not a book. There are here no scholarly citations and references or thick setting of my philosophy in the history of philosophy, unlike my usual compositions. It is just straight reading of the philosophy I developed and hold for true. I thank Walter my wonderful for doing all he could throughout our interval these last decades to support my study and writing of philosophy. The ten short chapters in this monograph are: I. Existence II. Other III. Divisions of Existence IV. Entities V. Passage VI. Situation VII. Character VIII. Science and Mathematics IX. Logic X. Mortal Life and Value ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I expect to return shortly to completing my compositions in progress here at Objectivism Online, including: Necessity and Form in Truth / On The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts, / Kelley's Kant / Dewey and Peikoff on Kant's Responsibility / Honesty / Sacrifice
  21. Monart, By we in this context, I mean only the combination self and other. On day of birth one is already immersed in other humans around one. Indeed, before birth, one was already immersed in the human thing that is one's mother's voice. I reject the view, often put forward by classical empiricists, that one performs an inference to know there are other humans, things like oneself, with inner life. Although, at the beginning we have no language, so no articulation of any of that in mind (and we have only begun to develop powers of memory.) I'd have to look up when we get the idea of we. (We begin to use the personal pronouns "I, me" at age two.) But as adults or near-adults, we can examine our elementary episodes of consciousness and know there is a pronominal other in all of them, an element that is accessible if we turn to that feature in our consciousness, and by adulthood, we know the "we" in those episodes. This presence of other forming the we in all human consciousness perhaps contributes to many peoples' sense that God is with them. If so, that is just a mistake; the presence with themselves is other humans, taken in an open unspecified pronoun-type way. My viewpoint on this, I later learned, had been put forward by some existentialists last century. However, they were engaged in an archeology of subjectivity, whereas in my system, existence standing independently of apprehension and comprehension is the objective prize we are joined with by other. I'd like to mention also, concerning the Objectivist metaphysics, that it was not "Existence is Identity" that Rand posed as a corollary of "Existence exists." It was something else, something one could infer if one were making the statement "Existence exists." The thesis "Existence is Identity" can be argued to be something fundamental about Existence, and it can be shown that under Rand's various categories, looking to deny "Existence is Identity" lands in contradiction, and is therefore false. The thesis "Consciousness is identification" is also not a corollary, but a definition of what is the most fundamental sort of consciousness, with any others, such as in dreams or perceptual illusions, being derivative with respect to the fundamental consciousness. Philosophers of mind today have called success consciousness that type of consciousness Rand took for fundamental. Rand’s “corollary axiom” with “Existence exists,” you recall, runs this way: “Existence exists—and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists” (Rand 1957, 1015). The counterpart in my system: ‘Existence exists, we live’. The act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that things exist, including you and I conscious living selves, our consciousness being something alive and being the faculty of perceiving that which exists. Rand erred in omitting express, elementary knowing of aliveness of self and others in elementary knowing of consciousness. Rand did not omit altogether elementary knowing of aliveness in elementary knowing of consciousness in her mature philosophy, although that elementary nexus is not highlighted. Some sort of impossibility of mind without life is affirmed later in the speech when Rand writes of the alternative “your mind or your life” that “neither is possible to man without the other” (1957, 1022). Then too, when something she wrote in Galt’s speech “It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept ‘Value’ possible” (1013) is joined with something else in the speech “A rational process is a moral process” (1017), it could be inferred that, at least in higher, rational consciousness, its aliveness is implicit in its episodes and this fact is reflectively accessible within such consciousness. Also, in oral exchange years later, Rand remarked concerning consciousness: “It’s a concept that could not enter your mind or your language unless in the form of a faculty of a living entity. That’s what the concept means” (ITOE App. 252).
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