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Posts posted by icosahedron

  1. Thanks Marc. Good synopsis of the state of play, but as I said, I'm confused nonetheless.

    I think that a functional picture is the easiest way to see things clearly. I focus on what an entity does. Man walks, thinks, etc. Dogs walk and think, too. But Man's thinking is conceptual, which means, the manner in which it functions is specialized to allow indirect references to stand-in for collections of experiences in cases where the distinctions across a given collection are logically immaterial in the context one is considering.

    Functional restrictions are reflected with adverbs. Plants are aware reflexively. Animals are aware perceptually. Humans are aware conceptually.

    Awareness is awareness of otherness, at its most essential; you don't find "animate" in the absence of "aware", in at least a reflexive sense that plants are aware.

    So, animate and aware are two integrated aspects of a single whole, a living entity. A living entity is animate and aware in some degree, those are the omitted measurements that distinguish life from non-life.

    So there is two-dimensional vector space into which each entity of my experience can be mapped according to the degree of animation on one axis, and the degree of awareness on the other. Man is at the extreme of both animated and aware (Man is conceptually animated, which is why Man is at that extreme).

    Plants are near the minimum of animation (mushrooms may be even closer to the limit), and the minimum of awareness. Dogs are towards the upper echelons of both, but way behind humans, scale-wise (e.g., if you were to plot on coordinate axes to scale, humans wouldn't fit on your standard graph paper).

    It appears that the two, animated and aware, are strongly correlated, which is why traditional approaches see one spectrum instead of a plane of possibilities. And it may well be that the plane can be collapsed into a line, for all intents and purposes, i.e., if one plots all the known entities, do they all fall along the a line?

    I'll stop now, but try placing those you know onto such a graph, based on what you perceive to be their level of activity, and their level of awareness. Fun and profitable exercise. I find active, unaware people the hardest to deal with.

    - ico

  2. But we discuss here the artificial, man-made organism. Nothing at least in theory prohibits its creation. Observe that skyscrapers and space shuttles also never existed before .

    Law of Entropy.

    Check it out, been around for nearly 300 years, applies here, because YOU CAN'T BUILD A NON-TERMINATING PROCESS !

    Stop it.

    - ico

  3. In my fantastic example this source lasts for very long time and it replacement is not organism's primary concern. My fantastic organism doesn't have to take any action virtually for eternity in order to sustain his life. Practically, he's undistinguished from AR's robot. But let say that he does take such an action every 1000 years. Does it mean he becomes moral once in millennium? I don't think so. I think that if he a sapient being, he would pursue values not in order to sustain his physical existence, but his life qua sapient by exercising his mind. Now consider the possibility that he doesn't. Eternal or almost eternal life of dullness and boredom is much more horrible an alternative than death.

    "virtually for eternity"? are you trying to be obtuse?

  4. It's very simple. Living organisms need to take actions in order to sustain their life. Even in your fantastical example, you needed to posit an energy source that eventually must be replenished. This need to take action necessarily includes the possibility of failure. There is simply no escaping from this linkage, no matter how fantastic your supposed beings get.

    Exactly. May I also suggest to folk reading this that they substitute "entropy sink" for "energy source" in their thinking? Energy is not the issue. Organization away from equilibrium in order to support life is.

    - ico

  5. You presuppose that "living" necessary means "vincible" and this is exactly the premise which I challenge and you have to prove.

    Uh, no, I don't have to address your arbitrary claim. Show me evidence of a perpetual motion machine and I'll change my tune.

    - ico

  6. First, to answer technical questions. All living organisms act against the gradient of entropy and Ayn Rand's robot is not an exclusion. The only difference is that such an organism would have inherent build-in mechanism for this purpose, like internal practically unlimited source of energy and automatic autonomic system of self-repair, based, say, on biological nano-robotic atom assembly mechanism, which would be part of his cellular structure.

    I must inform you that your grasp of the concept "entropy" is insufficient. The Law of Entropy essentially states that no change can occur without increasing the sum-total entropy. If the change is one of creating more organization within one system, then that must come at the expense of disordering another system. Two parts of the same system, one of which entropically cannabalizing the other, will eventually both be brought to an entropic "standstill", i.e., an isolated system composed of interacting parts will eventually come to full entropic equilibrium, i.e., death.

    You can't have a perpetual motion machine. Stop it.

    - ico

  7. This thread reminds me that my working definitions of a few related O'ist concepts needs some tuning.

    The concepts I don't feel quite pinned down in my mind in terms of precise genus/differentia are: animate, volitional, aware, conscious, and conceptual.

    To my mind, "conceptual" extends "conscious" extends "aware". I am conceptual extends conscious extends aware. My dog is conscious extends aware. The pear tree in my yard is aware.

    To my mind also, "volitional" subsumes "animate". I am volitional extends animate. The pear tree in my yard is animate. But what about my dog? Is he volitional, or just animate? See, the notion of volition is not yet clear to me, I guess.

    I do note that there are two aspects here, observation and action, which are related by animate entities -- in other words, living entities are the only things with a degree of power to observe and act independently.

    I think the observe/act aspects of being alive should logically have parallel scoping hierarchies, but then I need another concept to match up one to one. So, does my dog have volition, and then, what I have is an extension of that (maybe, free will?); or does my dog have something less than volition?

    Do the parallel conceptual hierarchies look like:

    Aware <== Conscious <== Conceptual

    Animate <== "new concept" <== Volitional

    -- or --

    Aware <== Conscious <== Conceptual

    Animate <== Volitional <== "new concept"

    Happy to be set straight here if I have missed something.

    - ico

  8. What, in practice, makes Pantheism an invalid concept? This is the crux of my question.

    It's invalid because there is not a single shred of objective evidence suggesting the existence of God/gods. The number of godheads is not material -- one or many, same problem: the claim that God/gods exist is arbitrary and has no cognitive value ... period, no if ands or buts.

    - ico

  9. To what extent are the two compatible?

    Pantheism - The Universe is 'God', 'God' is the Universe.

    It's not a belief in an arbitrary, as nature is real, observable, and measurable.

    It is also consistent with Rand's notes of a "benevolent universe".

    It does not imply, from what I've gathered, that we owe anything to the Universe or that we are subservient to the Universe.

    It simply denotes that we ought to appreciate the Universe so as to not destroy it -- that would be against our rational interests.

    I'm curious.

    Couple of quick points:

    1) Why do we need FIVE different words to represent the same concept? God, Universe, Existence, Nature, Reality ... well, we don't, we only need FOUR, all but one of them give a new perspective on the idea of "the totality of all that was, is, and ever can be". The odd one out is "God". Why not just use the correct variant from among the other four choices, instead of attempting to subsume them into "God"?

    2) How exactly do you envision us destroying that which is eternal? Universe/Existence/Reality/Nature by any other name is still eternal, can't be destroyed.

    3) How ought we to appreciate reality? By being rational, since that is the only sure means to consistent, long-term, and growing enjoyment of life. Do you mean, instead, that I ought to show my appreciation by some formal, ritualistic means, even if so simple as a "thank you"? That would presume that Universe/Existence/Reality/Nature is an individual consciousness worthy of moral sanction. Is it?

    In summary, why go through such mental gyrations? Just stop trying to conflate primacy of consciousness with primacy of existence, and you won't be tempted to think in terms of God/gods as anything but a subjective interpretation of the facts that takes extra effort but adds no value even in the best of cases.

    - ico

  10. The scenario I'm envisioning is basically this: You, your lover, and a terrorist are in a desert. The terrorist has a gun and is going to kill one of you because he's mentally unstable and believes his god told him that one of you had to die. There is no reasoning with him because he's irrational. You can't take the gun from him because you're not close enough and he'll shoot you if you charge him. You can't run because he will shoot you. So would you rather die or let you lover die?

    Catch 22. Once I am dead, what's to prevent the unstable character from raping, torturing, and generally destroying my lover?

    I guess, given this scenario, I'd have time to ASK my lover what she wants, yes? Maybe, we'd both decide to force the gunman to either lose control of the situation, or kill BOTH of us. Given no other context, I think that would be my response to the situation: "Maggie, this guy's going to kill us or worse if we let him; and we can't trust him AT ALL, so let's apprehend him or die trying." Maggie would say, "Yes, you are right."

    - ico

  11. The issue, in this specific case, is Rand's claim that people who place family, friends, and human relationships above creative work are "immoral". (The exact quote, I think, is on a previous page of this discussion). I want to know what objective, scientific facts exist to make that claim. The fact is, it can't be objectively proven. It's just one woman's opinion. And that is the crux of the matter: Objectivism is great, honorable, sensible, and admirable, but it doesn't appear to be objective. That's all.

    What Ayn is claiming (which you would realize if you had the necessary context, e.g., by reading the whole of OPAR) is that independence is a virtue, and by the Virtue of Independence (VoI) she means, in her own words: "one's acceptance of the responsibility of forming one's own judgments and of living by the work of one's own mind ..."

    It is a violation of the VoI to mooch off of others, or to adopt ideas you don't understand just because someone you care about says so, or to give the whims of anyone undeserved respect, sanction, and/or succor -- family members included, yes.

    The question is, do you place another's conclusions above your own without independently determining their validity? Because, being a homemaker is a fine and creative endeavor, and helping out family when they deserve it is encouraged. Where the problem comes is when one's focus on family members undermines one's self-consistency -- unless you agree with every whim you indulge others in, you can't possibly so indulge them without undermining your own consistency of will and action.

    (added via subsequent edit): If, based on your own rational conclusions, subordinating your effort to your family members' needs is the optimal means for you to obtain happiness, go for it!

    - ico

  12. Dakota, I honestly don't see how to reason with you past this assertion:

    "Beyond the fact that I am the one espousing it.." -- are you kidding?? You've just explained why your view is subjective!

    I disagree. According to your logic, "objective" is an invalid concept, because all conception occurs within an individual mind, and hence is subjective.

    But that is not the definition of subjective. It does NOT mean "individually conceived", but rather "idiosyncratically conceived". The fact that I can use these words to remotely induce in your mind a semblance of my intended meaning is all it takes -- if an idea can be verified to be true by two or more individuals, working independently, then it is AT LEAST objective.

    - ico

  13. Just listen to their words, any of them: Bernanke, Greenspan ... Bush, Obama ... etc.

    They just don't make good sense, rationally and from an Objectivist perspective.

    I would actually respect them MORE if they were honestly lying in the rational pursuit of a goal, even if the goal itself might not be good, rather than truly so self-deluded as to believe their own lies ... i.e., rather than being incorrigible.

    - ico

  14. The question now is: would such being be moral or amoral, would it be possible for him to pursue any values? Ayn Rand's answer is "NO" and my answer is "YES"

    I don't see how you evade the Law of Entropy; you can't have a perpetual motion machine, conscious or not. You MUST have an entropy depression that you can use to maintain the logical order of your body, however evolved. If you run out of low entropy sources, you won't be able to sustain your systemic order.

    No existent can escape decay, because proximate existents exchange entropy such that the summary entropy is non-decreasing, which is to say, such that the global system tends to the most disordered state, and stays near it when not driven away from it by conscious effort.

    (edited out some garbage)

    You can't escape decay altogether whilst remaining alive Which DOES make Ayn' point neatly: without entropy maximization as the measure of equilibrium, there is no means to navigate among available actions in driving one slightly away from equilibrium, towards just the right amount of order to maintain life.

    - ico

  15. I agree, Dante. Not arguing from that context. Thinking in terms of crisp representation of ideas in a fully Objectivist context, and in that context I prefer precision over ambiguity, naturally enough.

    (added via edit): Further, I don't see how Objectivists can expect to move the philosophical needle if they accept sloppy conceptual definitions amongst themselves; I would like to see more successful and vocal Objectivists, perhaps if Objectivism is seen by the general population as a good thing, then the common man on the street may then begin to adopt Objectivist lingo -- which is where I think this goes, slowly but surely. Hence I want good definitions, and IMHO, the Lexicon is not sufficiently precise -- I want to discover an accurate conceptual hierarchy, sort of "develop" it like a photographic plate from out of the "muck" of my aggregate experiences. Of course, we all do that; I intend something more formal, that we can adopt as a standard dictionary. Webster's doesn't cut it if you want to be scientific and unambiguous in representing ideas with concrete sound/symbol patterns.

    - ico

  16. It occurs to me that it would be a decent baloney-meter for online written materials to pass them through a substitution filter that replaces each instance of a decidedly invalid concept with "blank", and see the number of words referring to invalid concepts per line of prose. A metric giving a broad sense of how objectively clear the writing is.

    - ico

  17. I don't have to imagine. Mass/energy is indestructible, which is why there is a conservation law for it.

    But mass and energy are PROPERTIES of entities (derived from observations via models and induction, no less!), and cannot exist without form. Entities have structure, and structure is based on direction/shape, not size -- in principle, there is no problem mentally scaling structures up and down, that's why concepts work to gain unit economy in the first place.

    Substance is indeed eternal; but it exists only in specific, definite structures -- and any structure can indeed be destroyed, by definition of the concept "structure". It is a misnomer to characterize substance as "indestructible" ... the proper term is "eternal".

    That's why I focus on entropy and directional proclivities, rather than substance: entropy reflects patterns of energy partitioning, and while the entropy of a system is strictly bounded by the possible arrangements of the available substance, it is not the substance that is primary, but the structurally regenerated pattern integrity that is the object of consideration ... mass/energy are always inferred, but structural arrangements are self-evident once scaled up to human size (e.g., by using proper measurement units to focus on small things).

    Conservation laws are called that for a reason; why not call them "indestructibility laws"? Because, with conservation laws, structure is an omitted measurement, so the idea of destruction is not applicable.

    In the Rand passage quoted above she explicitly contrasts life with inanimate matter and describes matter as indestructible, which it was until Einstein changed everybody's understanding. I don't think the technical feasibility of mass/energy conversion even is remotely relevant to Rand's philosophical grounding of ethics, so this nitpick does not threaten her reasoning.

    True enough, but I think she was too loose in this context. It is the FORM of matter that is changeable, destructible; matter as the substance of entities must have SOME form, and therefore, its form can be altered, right? I think one ought to refrain from using concepts where they don't apply, such as, using the concept "structure" or any variant thereof to refer to intrinsically unstructured material doesn't really help my understanding.

    Her pedagogical exercise is not even necessary to prove her point. If such forms of infinity such as "immortal" and "invulnerable" really bothers anyone, just skip the paragraph.

    Or at least, substitute "blank" for each instance of word referring to an invalid concept, such as "infinity", "immortal", "invulnerable", "indestructible", or "God". See if the paragraph still has meaning to you when you omit meaning from these meaningless symbols.

    - ico

  18. I think I'll stop using the word "will" altogether, in favor of "volition" -- especially since "will" has too many different meanings. (The fact that words such as "will" and "rose" have wildly disparate meanings depending on usage is unfortunate, IMHO -- it sure would be nice to have a scientifically precise language to operate with.

    Still I need to settle on a word for the political notion of the right to exercise volition within the constraints of society with others. I am leaning towards "freedom" - because, the concept of freedom would not occur to an individual in the absence of the restraints of others.

    - ico

  19. "Volition" works well to avoid the confusion of "free will". It is more epistemologically sound to use a single word instead of a phrase for a distinct (not borderline) concept as I understand Ayn Rand's guidance given in ITOE. I agree that you have a point in objecting to "free will".

    Thanks, but I think we are vice versa: to me, "volition" corresponds to what I mean by "will"; still need a word for the political concept, but then, I have always found the use of the word "freedom" a bit loose in political discourse, and would like to have the term "freedom" mean "politically unfettered volition".

    - ico

  20. And, ultimately, the point is whether government agents can circumvent individual rights in some degree, or not at all.

    That is the ultimate line in the sand.

    Now, we can debate the HOW of Rights protection by government agents, but before that, the first question is: does a government agent have the right to compel an individual to do even the slightest thing? How about just a tiny sliver of such right to initiate force, is that okay? Context: not an emergency, compelled individual not a criminal -- rather, an "upstanding" citizen.

    - ico

  21. Rand's robot is perfectly well defined. Einstein imagined himself moving near and at the speed of light with great productive results even though like Rand's robot an equally impossible feat.

    The analogy does not hold. It is possible to imagine small, finite speed differences. Whether the feat is technically accessible today or not is irrelevant -- that's why they're called "thought experiments". But, to think up an experiment still requires that you imagine the setup.

    It is not possible to imagine an indestructible existent.

    It is possible to postulate an indestructible existent and show contradictions with reality. But without the link to reality, you get a floating abstraction.

    Now, you may say that it's possible to define floating abstractions; however, I say it's not, not consistently -- because, while one may occasionally line up with reality, in general such abstractions will contradict reality in one way or another. And, IMHO, a definition which contradicts reality, i.e., defines an invalid concept, is itself invalid (a means to no valid end is not a valid means).

    - ico

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