Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Boydstun

Patron
  • Content Count

    934
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    81

Everything posted by Boydstun

  1. Heidegger’s “Dasein exists, and it alone” coupled with “Dasein is its own disclosedness” resembles somewhat Rand’s couple “Existence exists” with “Existence is identity” (SZ 133). Heidegger, however, was working with a more restricted notion of existence than Rand’s. He crafted Dasein with truncated features distinctive of living existence, even of consciousness and social institution (SZ 11–15, 41–45). And he would not follow Rand in the restriction of being to existence (actual and potential) even though her existence was broader than his. Then too, he hung what she would later call identity, as in Existence is identity, radically from disclosedness and susceptibility to identification, rather than from existence or being. He erred also by disallowing either identity or susceptibility to identification to all being. Lastly, he imported some dynamics into being and truth, a wrong maneuver. I have proposed we should replace Bolzano’s theme of truths in themselves with corporate facts. It seems natural then to likewise replace Heidegger’s notion of ontological truth with corporate facts and keep the notion of truth tethered to knowing subject. Right, but Heidegger had really not done entirely away with that tether due to his tie of truth to Dasein, which is, among other things, existent that is disclosedness and understanding of being (SZ 214–30). There is furthermore something Heidegger, with Aristotle, had gotten quite right in his “ontological” notion of truth, which should not be thrown out with the bathwater. Heidegger’s conception of demonstration of truth by identity of (i) the object thought with (ii) the object is correct and a portion of Rand’s conception of truth as identification of facts of reality (SZ 217–19; ITOE 48). Further with Heidegger: “In accordance with the essential kind of being appropriate to Dasein, all truth is relative to the being of Dasein. Is this relativity tantamount to saying that all truth is ‘subjective’? If one interprets ‘subjective’ to mean ‘left to the arbitrariness of the subject’, then certainly not” (SZ 227). Being and Time (Sein und Zeit, SZ) Seventh edition, 1953 [1927] Joan Stambaugh, translator (SUNY 2010)
  2. Additional for Nozick: Robert Nozick’s Political Philosophy Eric Mack Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy June 22, 2014
  3. I had written in #1, “Aristotle, Avicenna, Henry of Ghent, John Duns Scotus, Francis Suárez, Spinoza, and Baumgarten also reached principles close to “Existence is identity,” though not the Randian rank of it among other metaphysical principles.” That list was not up to date with my latest compilation. I was supposed to list also Leibniz and Kant. I think it would be of some interest for readers here to see more of those earlier statements I cite near “Existence is Identity.” Suárez “Existence is in reality nothing else but the actual essence itself.” Leibniz “A nonentity has no attributes.” Baumgarten “Every possible thing is a ground, or nothing lacks a consequence; nothing is without corollary and recompense; nothing is completely sterile, useless, and unfruitful; or, when something is posited, some consequence belonging to it is posited as well.” “Every possible thing is determined with regard to its possibility; hence what is possible in itself is determined with regard to internal possibility. Since internal possibility is essence, every possible thing has an essence, or is determined with regard to essence. Therefore, whatever is entirely undetermined is nothing.” Kant “A nonentity has no predicates” (A793 B821). Bolzano “It is absurd to want to ascribe attributes to nothing—hence the well known non entis nullae sunt affectiones [a nonentity has no properties].” “That which is indeterminate in itself is simply—nothing”
  4. Bernard Bolzano – Theory of Science A translation of his Wissenschaftslehre (1837) by Paul Rusnock and Rolf George (Oxford 2014) Call comprehensive a true universal proposition reflecting fact at play in every fact. Rand’s selection Existence exists for philosophical primary, comprehensive and fundamental, was evidently a selection of Bernard Bolzano as well. Of the proposition “There is something” he writes that “every other truth which could be thought to be its ground, must itself to be a consequence of it or of others that are its consequences etc.” (WL §214).[1] Rand and I can concur with some of what Bolzano conceives as a ground in his ground-consequence relation. I think, however, and Rand could probably come along, that in place of consequence there should be depending occasion, which is to comprehend consequences, but also weaker yet epistemologically important cohorts of ground. Depending from would be a type of weaker depending occasion, such as when a jewel depends from a necklace or a species from a genus. Another type of weaker depending occasion would be existential instantiation of a mathematical model; not only does the instanced mathematical form depends on the concrete, the instance depends from the mathematical type. Notice that depending occasion is in stronger relation to a ground than simply anything associated in mind with something else that had entered mind.[2] Notice too that in the association of the thought “brass fittings in this room” with the thought “me sitting in this room” there is no relation of ground to depending occasion between those two classes of items, although there are such relations among attributes of the two classes and their aggregation as well as between the two associated thoughts. Bolzano’s ground-consequence relation is not entirely settled and perfectly clear. It is wrapped up with relations of deducibility, but is not to be taken as coincident with the entirety of deductive premise-conclusion relations. His ground-consequence relation centers on valid deducibility from true premises that are explanatory of the conclusion.[3] Cause-effect is not a case of ground-consequence, but has a regular tie to it, in his view. To reach the related ground-consequence relation, Bolzano would overwrite causation of alcohol by fermentation of grapes in this way: The truth of the existence and characteristics of fermentation is ground of the consequent truth of the existence and characteristics of alcohol.[4] Truth in this context is what he calls truth in itself, which is what we hope and strive to possess in our thought truths.[5] Bolzano insists it is only other truths in themselves that can be objective grounds of truths in themselves. He keeps his ground-consequence relation in the mold of axiomatic deductive systems: truths are consequences of their grounding truths, they follow from grounding truths, not from things referred to in truths.[6] Bolzano’s truth in itself is a reversion to the scholastic conception of truth as a transcendental (convertible) property of being.[7] That makes conformance of ground-consequence to cause-effect tight as the conformance of God’s understanding to reality. Decline the notion of truth as transcendental property of being or existence, I say. Keep truth tied necessarily to finite, fallible cognition. That Rand’s full identity—unities, particularities, attributes, kinds, and alterations—is convertible with existence suffices for full adequacy of mind, finite and fallible, to grasp existence. The class of relations subsumed under our alternative—ground and its depending occasions—is a larger class than Bolzano’s class of ground and its consequences. Include under the relation of ground to depending occasion two notable relations Bolzano excludes from his relation of ground to consequence. In our broad class of grounds, include causes, one thing making something happen in another. Include also things, or existents, in their relation to truth, or cognized fact, in our class of grounds. Fact is our own currency for “is the case” as when Wittgenstein follows “The world is everything that is the case” with “The world is the totality of facts” (1918, I, II.I). I shall call corporate facts the facts entrained in our perceptual and action schemata and in our concepts and propositions. I replace Bolzano’s truths in themselves with corporate facts. All facts are susceptible in principle to our corporations of cognition. Every past fact, though most are no longer accessible, was such that it could have been assimilated in conceptual corporations. Bolzano leans towards my rewrite of his truths in themselves as corporate facts when he concurs with Johann Ulrich, who had written in 1792: “Objectively the true is what is in fact so” (quoted in WL §27).[8] Where Bolzano says logic studies laws that hold for truths as such, let us say logic studies laws that hold of corporate facts as such.[9] Under either formula, logic is guidance for correct, productive thought. Bolzano conceived philosophy as the science of penetrating contingencies to reach truths in their objective relations of grounds to consequences.[10] I should rather say philosophy is the metascientific discipline reaching for wide grounds, discerning varieties of relation between ground and depending occasion. As exhibited in the block quote below, by the idea of consequence following from ground, Bolzano insinuates a relation leaning towards deducibility of all further truths in part from explanatory first truths.[11] In this his philosophical first-ground would have foundational role in serious excess over the role Rand gives Existence exists. Bolzano is right to include material truth within the purview of logic.[12] But he errs by his shadows of deductive premise-conclusion in the relationship of first truths to all other truths.[13] Rather, first truths, first facts (such as Existence exists and is identity) ground and elucidate such things as deductive inference.[14] Bolzano errs also in his view that we are better acquainted with the events in our inner selves than events outside ourselves.[15] I am better acquainted with the fire in the fireplace than with my reception and processing of the fire’s input to sight, hearing, smell, and sense for heat flow rate across skin surfaces. Attending to whether the burning logs need adjustment is much less labored than attending to and discriminating what are all my sensations from the fire. Notwithstanding any excess of deductive potency implicated in Bolzano’s account, and notwithstanding his erroneous view that our acquaintance with inner events is stronger than acquaintance with outer events, the status of There is something in Bolzano’s philosophy is a forerunner—the closest in modern philosophy—of Rand’s Existence exists in hers. I should notice the fuller statement of the quotation above from Bolzano. Rand-like example again of a ground without further ground: “the proposition that there is something, or (as I think it should be put) that the idea of something has objectuality” (WL §214). With his concept of objectuality and his preferred expression read out of context, Bolzano might be thought to be some sort of post-Kantian taking the subject to be structuring source of the possibility of objects in general. He is not. Unlike Reinhold, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, Bolzano is not a post-Kantian, at least not in a positive way. To be sure, he writes after Kant, being born in the year the first Critique was first issued. From age eighteen, he seriously studied that work. He sometimes adopts Kant’s theoretical vocabulary, while specifying his own exact, different meaning of those terms. He opposes Kant’s recourse to an extra-logical power of intuition in pure mathematics, replacing Kant’s account with an alternative conception of conceptual analysis and of deduction. Bolzano is squarely anti-Kantian in theoretical philosophy. He is a complete realist. He rejects the primacy of consciousness, human or divine.[16] Eternal truths and even all the truths in this world that is God’s creation are not true because He conferred truth on them, according to Bolzano.[17] Objectuality of an idea is fundamentally trueness to facts, positive or negative, facts of the one and only reality that is. Bolzano’s contrast for the objectual is the objectless. Nothing and round square and wooden iron poker would be uncontroversial examples of objectless concepts. Bolzano counts some mathematical elements as objectual. Such would be triangle. But he counts others as objectless that I count should count objectual: zero and square root of negative one.[18] I think of all mathematical objects in their net of demonstrated mathematical relations as facets of identity, of intelligibility, in potential physical structure. Adequacy of human mind to reality is at hand in the objectuality of our ideas,[19] or as I prefer to say, in the trueness of our self-consistent concepts of themselves to objects[20] and in the trueness of our concepts’ propositions to facts of existence, including all the depending occasions of existence, such as mind. Take negation and “not anything at all” to depend from existence only by way of depending on mind, a mind knowing analogues of them that depend directly from existence. Bolzano continues: If it is already a controversial question whether there is even a single truth which has no further ground, it is even more difficult to decide whether there are several. I believe that this should be affirmed, for I cannot understand how from a single truth all others would follow either as consequences, or consequences of consequences, etc. (WL §214) Note. Since Leibniz speaks of vérités primitive in the plural, he must also have held this opinion. When, by contrast, many logicians write that the so-called principle of identity, i.e., the proposition “What is, is” is the highest truth of all, it seems that they thought this to be the only truth which has no further ground of its truth. (WL §215) Conjoining the first truths There is something with What is, is sets one in the vicinity of Rand’s conjunction Existence exists with Existence is identity, provided the what designates not only an existing item, but acknowledges there is what the existent is. There seems to be such acknowledgment in Bolzano’s predecessor Baumgarten, who writes “Every possible A is A, or a thing is whatever it is . . .” (1757, §11). Bolzano recognizes that for every possible characteristic, a singular thing either possesses it or not.[21] Moreover, he holds that our concept of any concrete thing contains “the idea of something as well as the idea of some attribute which determines it to be” that concept of that concrete (WL §202). Bolzano recognizes the principle of what-identity, though not under that name and as part of the logical principle of identity. Like Aristotle, Bolzano thinks of the principle of identity, or its formula A is A, as meaning only a thing is itself, not also that a thing is what it is. Bolzano recognizes that existence is identity (or that the real is identity), though not in those words, for he writes “That which is indeterminate in itself is simply—nothing” (WL §509). Rand’s notions of fundamentality and grounds weaker than Bolzano’s are right. This is so not only for fundamentality and grounds in the character of philosophic axioms, but in the character of essence in theory of concepts and definitions. Like Rand a century and a quarter later, Bolzano held that whether a conceived attribute of an object is an essential attribute of the object “depends in part upon the object whose attribute it is supposed to represent, and in part upon the concept that we form of the object” (WL §111). Bolzano had proposed that one could approach the objective ground-consequence relation between truths by ordering them such that from the smallest number of truths taken as premises, the largest number of truths as conclusions could be derived.[22] With economy in explanatory power, weaker than economy in deductive power, Rand could conceive of essential characteristics in a concept as most economical set of distinctive characteristics explanatory of the other distinctive characteristics.[23] Bolzano could not come to such a conception for concepts because of the greater strength he was aiming for in his relation of grounds to consequences. That stronger relation does enter into his conception of what is essential in a concept, but only in this: all characteristics within a concept such that were any one of those characteristics removed it would not be the same concept .[24] But now our focus is on Rand’s and my own grounding relations in basic metaphysics and theory of mind. Consciousness stands as depending occasion to a ground: existence. Action and attribute stand as depending occasions to a ground: entity. Identification stands as depending occasion to a ground: identity in its object and the entity that is a mind. Identity does not stand as depending occasion with existence as its ground. Rather, existence is identity and is all, and ground of all wonders within it. © Stephen C. Boydstun 2015 Notes [1] See also WL §§142, 221. [2] Cf. WL §§277, 300. [3] WL §§162, 168, 198, 200–204; Rusnock and George 2014, II, xlii–l; Lapointe 2011, 81–90. [4] WL §201. [5] Bolzano’s notion that there is an objective, right order of mathematical concepts and premises in proofs enabled some of his contributions to mathematics. See WL §§401, 576–78; Coffa 1991, 27–32; Parsons 2010, 146–47; Friedman 2010, 737n43. [6] WL §§16, 24–30. [7] WL §§24, 29. [8] See also WL §109. [9] WL §12. [10] Bolzano 1838. [11] See further, Betti 2010. [12] Cf. WL §§9, 12; Lapointe 2012, 26–31; 2014, 305–8. [13] Bolzano is abetted in such a view by his conception that all attributes of God are deducible “perhaps not by man, but in itself” (WL §110). Further, WL §§111, 113. [14] Cf. WL §199. [15] WL §143; Rand, ITOE App. 227; Churchland 1988, 76. [16] Příhonský 1850, 114. [17] WL §25. [18] WL §§29, 55, 67, 70–71, 108. [19] WL §§49–50, 55 137, 172, 352. [20] A solid bounded by five equal plane faces, for example, is a false concept. Cf. WL §55. [21] WL §45. [22] WL §221. [23] ITOE 45; cf. WL §114. [24] WL §§111, 117, 209.
  5. “Our ancestors have achieved much, but did not bring it to completion. Much remains still to do, and much will always remain, and someone born a thousand generations hence will not be denied the opportunity to add yet more.” —Seneca, quoted by Bolzano I shall dive into Bernard Bolzano’s monumental Theory of Science (1837) in the next post. The text of that post will be taken directly from a portion of chapter Six of my own book in progress. The native title of this mature work of Bolzano is Wissenshaftslehre, and I’ll follow the usual convention WL to designate my citations of it. I shall omit my lists of References for these two posts. Contact me through the personal message system of this site if you would like to have them. The following material of this post is background for the post to follow, and is taken from other parts of my book, but this can be skipped for a first reading of that next post, concerning Theory of Science. Unlike moderns such as Leibniz, Baumgarten, Kant, and Rand, Aristotle did not connect a “law of identity,” in so many words, with his principle of noncontradiction.[1] Aristotle additionally did not connect the law of identity that speaks to the distinctive natures of things with a formula such as “A is A” or “A thing is itself.” He would say “A thing is itself” is nearly empty and useless, and he would not connect that proposition to “A thing is something specifically,” which he thought substantive and important.[2] Aristotle was the founder of logic, and his great contribution thereto was his theory of correct inference, which is his theory of the syllogism. Though he did not realize it, the formula “A is A” in the form “Every A is A” can be used to extend the kingdom of the syllogism. By about 1240, Robert Kilwardly was using “Every A is A” to show conversions such as the inference “No A is B” from the premise “No B is A” can be licensed by syllogism.[3] There are places in which Aristotle connects (what we call the law of identity) “A thing is something specifically” or “A thing is what it is” with the principle of noncontradiction: “The same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject in the same respect” (Metaph. 1005b19–20). Though not given the pride of place given it by Rand, there is some recognition that Existence is identity in Aristotle: “If all contradictories are true of the same subject at the same time, evidently all things will be one . . . . And thus we get the doctrine of Anaxagoras, that all things are mixed together; so that nothing exists” (1007b19–26).[4] Aristotle realized too that any existent not only is, but is a what.[5] Aristotle, Avicenna, Henry of Ghent, John Duns Scotus, Francis Suárez, Spinoza, and Baumgarten also reached principles close to “Existence is identity,” though not the Randian rank of it among other metaphysical principles.[6] The Thomist text Rand read had included: “What exists is that which it is” (Gilson 1937, 253). That is a neighbor of Rand’s “Existence is identity.” Neighbor Baumgarten: “Whatever is entirely undetermined does not exist” (1757, §53). In Rand’s fundamental Existence is identity, the identity of an existent includes its that/which and its what. Rand has the relation of identity to existence as Aristotle had the relation of unity to being, which the schoolmen called a transcendental relation. Existence and unity are convertible; unity follows existence everywhere.[7] In Rand’s metaphysics and in mine, not only is unity convertible with existence, identity is also convertible with existence. Unity is absorbed into Rand’s ample identity. Intelligibility, another traditional “transcendental property” of being, is also absorbed into the transcendental that is identity where (i) existence is identity and (ii) consciousness is identification. The scholastic transcendental property (of being) truth is absorbed into identification, which is not a transcendental property of existence. Rand’s convertibility of identity and existence was most fully seen before her by Avicenna with his addition of the transcendentals “thing and something, meaning definiteness and otherness, respectively” (Kovach 2013, 240). Aquinas folded those into his system of the transcendental properties.[8] Within Rand’s metaphysics and mine, let us call such “properties” merely comprehensive standings with existence. They follow existence everywhere, existence actual and potential. © Stephen C. Boydstun 2015 Notes [1] Leibniz 1678; Baumgarten 1757 (1739), §11; Kant 1755, 1:389; 1764, 2:294. [2] Aristotle, Metaph. 1041a10–24. [3] First mood of the second figure; Kneale and Kneale 1962, 235–36; see also Kant 1800, §44n2. [4] See also Aristotle, Metaph. 1006b26–27, 1007a26–27. [5] Metaph. 1030a20–24. [6] Metaph. 1006b26–27, 1007a26–27, 1007b19–26, 1030a20–24; Kovach 2013, 240; Wippel 2010, 623–34; Vos 2006, 274–79; King 2003, 28–30; Copleston 1963, 186–89; Spinoza 1677, IP25c, 36d; Baumgarten 1757, §§10–11, 20–24, 34–35, 53, 55. [7] Top. 127a27–28; Metaph. 1003b23–34; cf. Aquinas ST Q.11 A.1. [8] Kovach 2013, 241.
  6. Miles O’Brien lost most of his left arm in an accident last year. In this link to PBS Newshour (2/12/15), he visits the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and begins to learn how to control the world’s most sophisticated artificial hand by thinking the stuff by which we move our hands: Inspiring.
  7. Report from Planck indicates BICEP2 data cannot be taken as support for gravitational waves: BICEP Claim Was Wrong. Planck also yields new date of first stars, resolving earlier discrepancy between Hubble and WMAP indications.
  8. . Interview comments from Patricia Neal on Rand's ideas in The Fountainhead are https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBqD_urS1MA.
  9. Free and open to the public. 22 January 2015 at 7:00pm Rutgers University LSC Livingston Hall B Freedom of Speech or Tyranny of Silence? Following the massacre of journalists at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the intimidation of Sony Pictures over The Interview and a growing climate of self-censorship, this panel opens up a conversation on the future of the freedom of speech and the dangers we can’t ignore. What is the right to free speech? Does it include the right to offend? Is there such a thing as “hate speech” or “Islamophobia”? Are “trigger warnings” compatible with free speech and with learning? How should the government respond when foreign groups and regimes threaten Americans’ freedom of speech? What can you do to protect your freedom to voice your ideas? Join us for a wide-ranging discussion and Q&A. Confirmed speakers: Flemming Rose, an editor at Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that in 2005 published cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, and author of The Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech Dr. Onkar Ghate, Senior Fellow, The Ayn Rand Institute Robert Shibley, Executive Director of FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) The panel will be moderated by Gregory Salmieri, who is a philosophy fellow at The Anthem Foundation and teaches at Rutgers University and Stevens Institute of Technology
  10. New Anti-Kant František Příhonský S. Lapointe and C. Tolley, translators The full title is New Anti-Kant, or Examination of the Critique of Pure Reason according to the Concepts Laid Down in Bolzano’s Theory of Science. This book was published in 1850. Its author was a student and friend of Bernard Bolzano.* New Anti-Kant and Bolzano’s Theory of Science (Wissenschaftslehre, 1837) came into full English translation only last year. Until I read these books and recent works of contemporary scholars concerning Bolzano’s philosophy, I had known of Bolzano only slightly, by the brief remarks of Frederick Copleston in A History of Philosophy; and I had known the name Bolzano-Weierstrass Theorem* from a text on Real Analysis I had studied decades past. In recent years, a critical edition of the entire body of Bolzano’s works has been underway, and his major works are being translated into French and English. Bernard Bolzano has, at last, become recognized as one of the great philosophers of the nineteenth century. Not great in influence. Great in vista. My interest in Bolzano for my own book and philosophy caught fire when I noticed a certain closeness to Rand in his foundations of theoretical philosophy. I treat that logical kinship and its differences with Rand in my book. Of interest there is Bolzano’s conception of a general ground-consequence relation and its relations to deducibility and causality (and to Kant’s ground-consequence relation). I reform it for my own foundational work, closer to Rand’s. Of interest also for that project is Bolzano’s analysis, contra Kant, of the nature of concepts in relation to experience, the purely conceptual nature of pure mathematics, the nature of deduction, and the relations among logic, mathematics, and our empirical sciences. Logic and mathematics were known as science to Bolzano, and his monumental four-volume Theory of Science is importantly theory of logic in a broad sense. New Anti-Kant was written by Příhonský in close collaboration with Bolzano in the last years of Bolzano’s life. It was published two years after Bolzano’s death. It is called New to distinguish it from an earlier, then-known (and inept) work titled Anti-Kant (1788*) and to indicate that the case against Kant’s first Critique in Příhonský’s book is a fresh one. New Anti-Kant did not receive much comment from scholars at the time. For me it is a help for further grasp of Bolzano’s views. In the present note, I’d like to mention some remarks of Příhonský concerning influence of Kant’s philosophy which resemble some views of Rand on Kant’s influence, a topic that will not fit in my own book. In his Preface, Příhonský pauses to forestall the impression one might get from the book’s title that he and Bolzano (not idealists of any stripe) thought Kant had done nothing good by his philosophic writings. Příhonský’s corrective to that possible presumption provides a window into how Kant was being viewed, and lauded, by some of his well-versed opponents as of 1850 in German lands. One laudation from Příhonský concerned ethics: Rand wrote in 1960 “Kant’s expressly stated purpose was to save the morality of self-abnegation and self-sacrifice. He knew that it could not survive without a mystic base—and what it had to be saved from was reason” (FNI). The extent to which Kant was undermining reason in Rand’s meaning of the term needs to be detailed by consideration of how Kant had characterized perception and its relations to concepts and how he had characterized (partly affirming and partly limiting the) powers of understanding, reason, and judgment.* Where Rand wrote “expressly stated purpose,” she likely meant the Kant passage in the Introduction to the second edition of Critique of Pure Reason (KrV) at Bxxx about knowledge and faith.* She slides from faith to Judeo-Christian morality. That slide is not too wrong, considering what Kant did subsequently in moral theory. His is not altruism, to be sure. His is a partial self-sacrifice at base, but that sacrifice, so far as it is in the base, is not for the sake of others. His base shadows the First Commandment. Kant’s moral ideal entails of course only self-authored self-sacrifice. In his early formal education at Königsberg’s Collegium Fredericianum (from age 8 to 16), Kant would have memorized Luther’s Small Catechism and studied the Large. He would know Luther’s explication of the First Commandment. In the Lutheran doctrine, God is the source of goodness in the world. Every good in the world—health, wealth, and family—are gifts from God. Every right gift one might give to another or receive from another, must be seen as a gift from God. It is more than a pleasing coincidence that the words Gott and Güte are so similar. God commands that one’s heart and mind be set first and foremost on God. He will bring good things, temporal and eternal, to people who follow this commandment, and he will bring woe to people who put other goods in first place, higher than God. To keep the true God in first place, one must have the right heart and head, the right faith. Luther: “Believe in Christ and do your duty.” In his secular construction of morality, Kant would give to a good will the role Luther had given to a right faith. Kant wants to keep with individual necessary reward and penalty for individual condition of will, and he thinks he can find this necessary connection right here in the constitution of human will and reason. Beyond the sure sanctions for a good will is the hope of happiness in this life and hereafter.* Contradicting what Příhonský would say later, Schopenhauer (1839) had indicated a number of ways in which Kant’s ethics profoundly favors egoism, which Schopenhauer took to be a demerit of Kant’s theory. How much of this contradiction is surface and how much substantial, I’ll leave open in this remark. But I should enter a caution about Příhonský’s characterization of the condition of German ethical theory at mid-century. In his criticisms of the portions of Critique of Pure Reason outlining Kant’s ethics, we read some encouraging metaethical tenets of Bolzano-Příhonský. When common sense “determines the good nature or wickedness of an action to be performed, it usually weighs the advantages and disadvantages that can reasonably be expected from it, i.e. its influence on the welfare of the living” (Příhonský 1850, 128). Moreover: Those propositions combined with one conception of the nature of life give later in the century the moral theory of Jean Marie Guyau;*\* more recently, with another conception of life, the moral theory of Ayn Rand; and with yet another conception of life, the theory of Richard Kraut.* With Bolzano-Příhonský, we get a leap from those quoted propositions straight away to still another moral theory, again an anti-Kantian one: utilitarianism, which they rate excellent for its unselfishness. Many earlier thinkers, though not all, connected utilitarianism with conscious or unconscious psychological egoism (Windelband 1901, II.513–18). Příhonský’s picture of ethical egoism as a dead theory in his era in German lands might well be an exaggeration, an aim at death by reporting death, or it might be the true situation and the truth about Kant’s role in bringing it about. I speculate the truth is somewhere in between. Devotees of the subjective egoism of Max Stirner there may have been, quietly, secretly. Modest currents of egoism from Aristotle, from Judaism, Spinoza, and Heine, and from Christian personalism surely continued in the culture. But until the last decade or so of the century, until the entry of Nietzsche into the melieu, there was evidently no forthright ethical egoism (anti-ethical in some moments) publicly squaring off against Christian and Kantian self-sacrifice as moral virtue and gaining at least some popular following, if not academic following. At the end of the nineteenth century, Wilhelm Windelband writes: Of Kant and his first Critique, Rand writes: That sounds to me like someone who actually opened the book and gave it a try. Which translation would that have been? The best at that time in English would have been the one by Norman Kemp Smith. That was the translation of KrV in my hands 1971–1997. The book became a step less opaque with the new translations (plus copious notes and ample index), by Werner Pluhar in 1996 and by Paul Guyer in 1998. When I first read Rand’s remark that KrV rests on no definitions, I was taken aback a little. Kant defines analytic, concepts, contingency, empirical, experience, faith, freedom, happiness, and on and on through the alphabet. He has incorrect views, in my assessment, of empirical and philosophical definitions and conceptual change, views at odds with Rand’s, although these views held by Kant were perhaps unknown to her. Kant writes: “To define, as the term itself yields, is in fact intended to mean no more than to exhibit a thing’s comprehensive concept originally within its bounds” (A727 B755). To that statement, he attaches a footnote: In the case of empirical concepts, Kant argues that with the growth of knowledge of an object some characteristics in the object’s concept may need to be removed, or new characteristics may need to be added. Therefore, the concept is never securely bounded. For philosophical concepts, which Kant thinks of as a priori concepts, such as substance, cause, or right, he argues: Příhonský has important criticism of those views of Kant, starting with Kant’s notion of a priori concepts as independent of all experience (24–25). I’ll close with a lamentation of Příhonský over the effect of this section of KrV on German philosophy to the middle of the nineteenth century. References Bolzano, B. 1837. Theory of Science. P. Rusnock and R. George, translators. 2014. New York: Oxford University Press. Copleston, F. A History of Philosophy. Vol. 7, Pt. 2. Garden City: Image. Kant, I. 1781, 1787. Critique of Pure Reason. W. S. Pluhar, translator. 1996. Indianapolis: Hackett. Příhonský, F. 1850. New Anti-Kant. S. Lapointe and C. Tolley, translators. 2014. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. Rand, A. 1960. For the New Intellectual. In collection by that title. New York: Signet. ——. 1973. Untitled Letter. In Philosophy: Who Needs It? 1982. New York: Signet. Windelband, W. 1901. A History of Philosophy. Expanded edition. New York: Harper.
  11. I see from a Facebook notice by James Peron that Martin Anderson has died. (See Huff Post.) Jim reports:
  12. . Other relationships between Rand and Schelling are remarked on here.
  13. . Objecting to the “Season of Giving” Peter Schwartz Delighted to learn of Mr. Schwartz’ forthcoming book Defense of Selfishness. (Cf.) Delighted overall by his piece for Washington Post, except for the elements I notice below. The sound parts of the piece coincide with Rand’s views. The weak part of the piece likewise coincides with Rand’s view, her pure instrumentalism (to only good, selfish purposes) in the valuation of others in her egoistic ethical theory. Speaking of getting a gift for his wife, Schwartz writes: “But my gift is not an act of charity. It is a form of spiritual payment in acknowledgment of the value her life has to me.” Christians who have had the slightest education in what their religion is actually about know that the premier definition of charity is love. That is not something Schwartz would mean to disown or attack, though he gives an appearance to that effect by having in mind a notion of charity he rejects, yet simply using the unqualified term charity. Unlike Schwartz and Rand, I don’t make gifts as “a form of spiritual payment in acknowledgement of the value her [or his] life has to me.” Drop payment. “Celebration of her marvelous person and our treasured union” would ring direct, and uncontrived for egoistic ethical theory. People operating by not purely egoistic ethical principles are able to give a card recognizing shared worthwhile things; they need not be acting out of pity (of all things) as the only alternative to not acting from, because not subscribing to, all of Rand's ethical principles. I should mention too that an ethical egoism that now has to invoke unconscious egoism (“Consciously or not”) to make its case, may be feeling some pinch.
  14. Schelling’s “ich=ich” These remarks complement the earlier look at Kohnstamm’s book titled I am I.* Recall that the identity expression there intends the first I to be self considered as patient, actor, and controller, and the second I to be self as in contrast to any other self. Writing in 1800, Friedrich Schelling took a proposition I am I, or self is self, for foundation of a systematic philosophy he had begun to craft. That philosophy was named the Identity Philosophy, and the book of that year was Schelling’s System of Transcendental Idealism. His philosophic thought was markedly influenced by Kant, Reinhold, and Fichte, but by this time had taken its own new turns and reaches. The meaning of I am I of interest to Schelling is not the one on stage in Kohnstamm’s book, although there is a round about tie between them. Schelling’s expression is ich=ich, which in English would be I=I or self=self, as when we write A=A. In I am I Schelling intended not only that an I is itself; he intended self-consciousness. I am I conveying self-consciousness is, in Schelling’s philosophy, the ground of the logical principle A is A. What many would have thought the horse is rather the cart in Schelling’s view. In her essay “For the New Intellectual,” Ayn Rand objected to “the prior certainty of consciousness” (1961, 28).[1] Against that way of looking at things, she had written in Atlas “A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something” (1015).[2] I’m gonna go with Rand on this one. Schelling proposed that the conviction that there are things outside us, outside our conscious selves, is an innate and primary prejudice. That picture’s perspective is the setup in Descartes’ Meditations in taking consciousness to be most sure, more sure than any of its deliverances about the external world, at least until Descartes adds God to the picture. (Descartes famously embraced innate ideas, but he did not put knowledge of the physical world in that bin.) Against Schelling we might ask, Won’t it take another innate prejudice to know that that first primary one is indeed an innate prejudice? On and on, implausibility of the first is multiplied toward the inverse of zero. Its plausibility is zero. Picturing our grasp that there are things outside us as sprung fundamentally from our minds is the primacy of consciousness error having much currency in Europe after Descartes and Descartes-Kant. Schelling elaborates his position: In Schelling’s philosophy, “The object as such vanishes into the act of knowing” (9). Schelling rightly notices that there seems to be some immediate connection between I exist and There are things outside of me. He sets himself a problem “How can we think both of presentations as conforming to objects, and objects as conforming to presentations?” (11). Rand has a crisp, summary answer: “Existence is identity, Consciousness is identification” (AS 1016). Schelling would not have it. “There is no question at all of an absolute principle of being, . . . what we seek is an absolute principle of knowledge. / Now undoubtedly this primary knowledge is for us the knowledge of ourselves, or self-consciousness” (16). Well, no. It is not only nor even most simply self-consciousness that has the character of being both its own cause and effect. One’s living activities of body with engaged mind has that character, and one would not attain grasp of self-consciousness without first grasping the self-generating, self-sustaining character that is one’s living existence (witness Kohnstamm 2007). Furthermore, one does not “arbitrarily posit” the objective world as object of consciousness as if one were freely positing some object for consideration in geometry. The world has been our object all along. What we can know absolutely, unconditionally, according to Schelling, is only subject-side identical propositions such as A=A, with total abstraction from whether A has any reality. A is A “says no more than this: in thinking A, I think nothing else but A” (22). I think, rather, let A be an abstract for a thing, any thing, having some character, any character. Then it remains tethered to the comprehensive situation that existence is identity, and logic is something more situated in existence and in one’s own living conscious existence. Schelling sharply contrasts A=A, and all other propositions known as identical propositions, with another sort, much to be desired: synthetic propositions. Identical propositions have subject and predicate linked “by mere identity of thinking,” whereas subject and predicate in synthetic propositions are linked “by something alien to the thought and distinct from it” (22). Not alien, I should say, if existence is identity, consciousness identification. But let Schelling continue. He aims to source any necessity and certainty we have in a synthetic judgment by identity with sources of the necessity and certainty we have in identical propositions. His attempt has the subject A in a synthetic judgment A=B stand for the objective, whereas B “the predicate, the concept, always stands here for the subjective” (22). In a synthetic judgment A=B, “a wholly alien objective coincides with a subjective” (22). There is a proposition in which the identical is also synthetic, and vice versa. It is a proposition in which “the object and its concept, the thing and its presentation, are originally, absolutely one” (23). This proposition can be the basic principle of all knowledge, for in it “being and presentation are in the most perfect identity” (24). Such “identity of presenter and presented occurs only in self-consciousness” (24). Schelling observes that the proposition A=A entails “a thing which immediately becomes its own object” (24). Yes, though I would amend Schelling by pointing out that it is not only identical propositions, but any proposition, that requires what today we call working memory and, moreover, self-monitoring and even self-consciousness. As stated earlier, the more basic proposition for Schelling’s philosophy is I am I, or self is self. In his analysis, this is a synthetic proposition equating opposites: the conscious self as producing and the conscious self as produced. “The proposition self=self converts the proposition A=A into a synthetic proposition, and we have found the point at which identical knowledge springs immediately from synthetic, and synthetic from identical” (30). Rand used the expression Man is Man to say man has a specific nature, as any existent has a specific identity (AS 1016). Man has a continuing specific identity. Predications of anything of anything, including predications on man and self, are, if sensible, statements of characters of existents or of characters deriving from existents. To realize, as in the childhood realizations in Kohnstamm’s book, I am I connecting self considered as patient, actor, and controller, to self as in contrast to any other self, is to identify thinking subject with its wider character and ground, joined with identification of self across time and in its living variations in those moments. In the era of Schelling, Bernard Bolzano joined other writers in logic and philosophy of logic in this verdict: Notes [1] Cf. Windelband 1901 (2nd ed.), 270, 276–80, 390–92, 466–72. [2] Similarly minded on this point: Plato, Theat. 160b; Aristotle, De An. 427a20–22; Metaph. 1072b20–22, 1074b35–36; Abelard c.1119; Wolff 1719; Herbart 1824; Ortega y Gassett 1928, 198–99; Sartre 1937, 40; 1943, 21–22; 1948; Merleau-Ponty 1945, 395–96. Main References Bolzano, B. 1837. Theory of Science. P. Rusnock and R. George, translators. 2014. Oxford. Kohnstamm, D. 2007. I am I – Sudden Flashes of Self-Awareness in Childhood. Athena. Rand, A. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. Random House. Schelling, F. 1800. System of Transcendental Idealism. P. Heath, translator. 1978. Virginia.
  15. Peter, in #1 your quote from Rand is a good one. If I may add an emphasis: “work is not a painful duty or a necessary evil.” She wasn’t saying there that work is not painful, the thing to rule out of court is duty. Where duty is replaced with obligation to yourself and your loved ones recognized because of the service the work is to maintaining your life and making you prosper, a painful obligation to work can become a pain integral with a larger joy, as expressed by Tiff. I would like to wish you life and that it become a joy for you. And that you take a pretty long view. I’ve found only one way out of a life-slump (understanding that professional therapy can be necessary and effective, but supposing that is not required for you), and that is achievement, including the years of unskilled physical labor I did for pay to put a meal on the table and roof over head, but also the achievement that is education---formal, self-study, and on-the-job---for future work, accomplishment, life, and mind. Many good inputs from others on this thread.
  16. Here is a good window to Nozick with regard to political philosophy, by Roderick Long: Robert Nozick, Philosopher of Liberty. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ On 27 December, Ayn Rand Society will have a session on the topic The Moral Basis of Capitalism: Adam Smith, the Austrians, and Ayn Rand. Presenters will be James Otteson, Peter Boettke, and Yaron Brook. The session will be chaired by James Lennox. The session will be 6:30–9:30 p.m. at the Marriott Philadelphia Downtown. Admission is registration, which unfortunately is steep if you’re not a member of APA.* The papers in this session will join earlier ARS papers in a future ARS book dealing with Rand’s political philosophy.
  17. . After WWII our father worked as a civilian for the US Air Force. We lived outside the base called Tinker. In the 1950’s, we children would hear him and his buddies sometimes muse about distant-future possibilities of ray weapons. In those days, they called them Buck Rogers weapons. Here is a bit of ray weapon attainment today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbjXXRfwrHg.
  18. Plas, No one has thought Galt's speech contains all of Objectivist epistemology. I did not say, imply, or insinuate it did. I cited Rand's 1960 remark that it did not. The novel thing and the most remarkable thing about Rand's theory of concepts is her analysis of them in terms of measurement omission, which she published, as you know, in ITOE. I have not said there is nothing more to be done in developing her theory of concepts, in its several interlocking aspects, that is significant. My view of it is quite the contrary. But this part of Rand's philosophy that she delivered in ITOE joined with what she delivered in Galt's speech constitutes a systematic philosophy, and the philosophy at this level of its development was Ayn Rand's own achievement, I'm pretty sure. Additional insights and refinements in this philosophy have been made by others besides Rand, but these are upon a full-blown philosophy in place in her own texts.
  19. The Washington Post notice has it, somewhat like Jim’s statement in Huffington Post, that “Mr. Branden helped develop Rand’s ideas into a philosophical construct that became known as Objectivism.” Really? Rand introduced the name Objectivism for her philosophy in the Preface to the book For the New Intellectual (October 1960). That book contained her essay “For the New Intellectual” and principal philosophical passages from her novels, including Galt’s speech. In the Preface, Rand described a treatise on her philosophy she was writing. It would include a theory of concepts, which was a major piece of her philosophy not exposed in her fiction. Readers here know that she delivered that missing portion of her philosophy in print in 1966–67. In his Basic lectures (as transcribed in Vision) and in his The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Branden gave Rand sole credit for that theory of concepts. Perhaps the forthcoming Rand biography by Shoshana Milgram will include specifics of the intellectual relationships between Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden over the course of their association (to 1957 anyway).
  20. I’m not in a position to assess the insights, importance, or originality of Nathaniel Branden’s ideas in clinical psychology over his lifetime. Some psychology having bearing there bears also on philosophy. Cognitive developmental psychology, but also psychodynamics, bears on the philosophic question “What is man?” and contributes to concepts of mind and psyche wielded by philosophers. What is the constitution of the soul remains a principal issue for philosophy, from times of Plato and Aristotle to times of Augustine, Avicenna, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, and our own, now informed by modern psychology and neuroscience. One accomplishment of Branden during his years with Rand, was the articles (mostly psychology) he published in The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist. Another was his systematic presentation of Rand’s philosophy in the taped lecture series “The Basic Principles of Objectivism.” That is comparable to Leonard Peikoff’s lecture series “The Philosophy of Objectivism” (1976), which Peikoff later transformed into the book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (OPAR). Branden’s lecture series was transcribed into the book The Vision of Ayn Rand in 2009. That is not to say Branden’s lectures were transformed into a book. Branden did not mold the lectures into a book acceptable to himself either during or after his association with Rand. Because some of his thinking in psychology, and even his definition of reason, changed during those later decades, a book laying out his revised philosophy later in life would have likely differed somewhat from what he’d have written had he transformed “Basic” into a book while still working with Rand. The book Vision, the transcription of “Basic,” is valuable for tracing further development of ideas in Objectivism from the ‘60’s to Rand’s last years (i.e., to Rand's philosophy as in OPAR). James Peron is a friendly acquaintance of mine because we worked together on some Libertarian Party campaigns more than three decades ago. I gather from some of his writings on Facebook that he has continued bright and addicted to reading and learning. There is one statement he made in his notice concerning Branden in Huffington Post that I’d like to wavy-line. “Branden systematized Rand’s philosophy, something she had not done, and presented lectures on the ideas, published as The Vision of Ayn Rand.” I was exposed to Rand's philosophy in the '60s through her fiction. I then followed elaborations and innovations within the philosophy through the nonfiction of Rand and her associates, including Nathaniel Branden to the split in 1968. The philosophy was a systematic one for me. I never heard Branden's "Basic Principles of Objectivism" lectures and only learned their content decades later by Vision. In 1976 Leonard Peikoff put together a similar set of lectures, in coordination with Ayn Rand, giving a systematic presentation of her philosophy. There too, same goes. It was already a systematic philosophy, and I knew what it was before hearing those lectures in '77. What I object to is the idea---which is also put about by Yaron Brook (in oral remarks) in connection with Peikoff’s 1976 systematic presentation of Rand’s philosophy and subsequent book OPAR---that Rand’s philosophy as set out in 1957 (in Galt’s speech) was not yet a systematic philosophy. That is incorrect. To say that someone made a systematic and comprehensive presentation of Rand’s philosophy, such as Branden and later Peikoff accomplished (with the luxury of many more words than Galt’s speech and without the constraints of fictional context), should be kept separate from the idea that her mature philosophy of 1957 was one standing in need of being made systematic. A famous example of an unsystematic philosophy is that of Nietzsche (say, Gay Science forward). He was opposed to system, and he achieved having a philosophy without it being a system. (I know there is one scholar today who thinks he has at last, thank God, figured out a system to Nietzsche, but that is an outlier view among the scholars.) When one reads Galt's speech, one knows this is a systematic philosophy, more specifically, that it is a foundationalist sort of philosophy. One knows the philosophy has axioms, is based on the senses, with reason as tied to the senses. One knows the axioms and corollaries, one knows the point at which value enters this metaphysics, one knows this ethic's chief virtues and how they are related to the three cardinal values and what is the base given for why those are the three cardinal values. Rand's philosophy 1957 is what we call a systematic philosophy. She could have dropped dead right then, rather like what happened to Nietzsche, and scholars coming along later could see that hers was a systematic philosophy, from theoretical philosophy to ethics, and his was not.
  21. . David Kelley has some remarks on the life and work of Nathaniel Branden here. There is also an audio of NB’s at one of DK’s summer seminars in that notice. Some ideas of Branden’s I find of philosophic significance are in these posts: 11/24/14, 8/30/14
  22. Thanks Greg. I look forward to learning more about the Axiom of Archimedes. I've had some exposure to it from measurement theory, but need to learn more. Scratch hardness of a solid is one physical property; dent hardness of a solid is another physical property of a solid. The Rockwell hardness test is a measure of dent hardness, not scratch hardness.
  23. . Things to Come We watched this 1936 film recently. Raymond Massey (who played Gail Wynand in the Fountainhead film thirteen years later) delivers lines like “Why have we left it all to the fools and brutes?” Sound familiar?
  24. . Opening in USA on 28 November: The Imitation Game
×
×
  • Create New...