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Posts posted by icosahedron

  1. Truly, it cannot be built, yes.

    Moving on to what I really want to get at, after some thought: isn't it the case that Ayn's robot is, in fact, not well-defined? How can it be, when no one can even imagine it?

    I actually think Rand's robot does a marginal disservice to the cause, in the same way that her occasional use of the term "infinity" to mean "eternal iteration" does: by being a bit facetious and stretching the bounds of conceptuality a bit too far. Then again, she was an master of the art of logic, so perhaps she was just exaggerating what was important to her in the given contexts with an aesthetic/storytelling purpose, an artistic goal ...

    All IMHO, but I do think it necessary to challenge Ayn on the margins, at least until one knows this stuff cold (who but she did/does so far? Maybe LP, maybe HB -- probably not. She would have wanted to be challenged, eh?

    - ico

  2. It's a contractual issue, since enforcement is unlikely even if you aren't allowed to do it.

    So, if you signed a contract saying you can't do it, then you ought to abide by that, IMHO. On the other hand, if the contract says nothing about it, then you can do it, of course.

    Most likely, the contract tries to pin this down as best as possible; however, it is likely also that it can't be pinned, legally. So they may have a bunch of threatening legalese in the contract that boils down to "You can't do anything that we might at some point decide you shouldn't have done." Such attempts don't work on the merits, but with a good legal team they provide lots of wiggle room.

    So, bottom line, you aren't likely to win a fight if it happens (i.e., if you piss them off and they target you as an example); but it's not likely to happen, either.

    If a rational interpretation of the contract you agreed to doesn't pin this down, I'd say give it a try.

    - ico

  3. I disagree that you disagree. :) That "free" is applicable starting at epistemology is not a denial that "will" alone can be adequate. However, serious determinists will use the term will while denying it is free even in epistemology, definitions to the contrary notwithstanding.

    I see your point, but I maintain that however minimal, this is still a compromise on a loose definition, and the extra wiggle room allows antagonists to hide more easily from the truth.

    I take "will" to mean "the power I have to direct my actions"; and I take "free will" to means the right to exercise that power. So "will" to me is a recognition of my given, navigational power; whereas "free will" to me is a recognition of the fact that my will could be restricted in society with others.

    Ideally, I'd like to have a good, single word for each idea. I suggest the word "freedom" to stand for the rational exercise of will in society.

    So I end up with:

    will -- power to direct one's actions

    freedom -- exercise of will in society (the notion of freedom is irrelevant in the absence of others). This is what I take "free will" to mean, also.

    - ico

  4. In other words, in Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, and Aesthetics, will is by definition free, trivially, because there is no alternative (no one else to interfere with one's judgments and actions in the fundamentally individually executed arenas of philosophical thought and subsequent action.

    - ico

  5. "Free" does apply to epistemology and fields beyond that. Even presuming to ask "should I believe in free will?" assumes you have a choice.

    I disagree. The concept "will" is sufficient to encompass the conceptual requirements of all but Politics, i.e., the science of society requires the modifier "free" to distinguish the application of will in isolation from the application of will in the context of others who may unduly interfere with one's rationally motivated actions.

    - ico

  6. Perhaps I should ask a different question. In quantum mechanics, is the 'collapse of the wave function' an actual physical phenomenon? Is it the case that at time T there is a waveform, and at some later time T+n the wave has 'collapsed' into a fully determinate state? If so, then my question is what triggers or causes this event, out there in reality? It can't be triggered by any event that reduces to a choice or identification by consciousness for reasons I think we agree on.

    It's a misnomer. The reality is spectroscopic data, scattering patterns, and nuclear/chemical reaction products -- the rest is just a fancy model, good as far as it goes, but ripe for replacement should a clever person come up with a better one, thus the progress of science.

    The visualization of a "collapsing wave" does not contradict QM's model per se, but neither does it elucidate it unless the process of wave collapse is incrementally observable as it happens, as an objective, reproducible, experimental fact. However, such is not the case. It's a visualization -- and, FWIW, I think it irrelevant and not worth wasting time on.

    Bottom line: no cognitive value in the analogy, in my experience.

    I haven't read it. I'm not a physicist; I'm a software engineer with a bunch of eclectic intellectual interests.

    Hey, me too -- albeit, I do have a background in physics, enough to know what I am saying to the extent I haven't crossed up any wires over the years.

    - ico

  7. This is something that's always bugged me, from my layman's perspective: what is a "measurement"? I see only two possibilities. Either a measurement is an interaction between existence and consciousness, or it's an interaction between one part of existence and another. The first model is the "people cause wave collapse" approach and would require building consciousness into the foundations of quantum mechanics -- something that is not the case as far as I know.

    Measurement is the province of conscious, conceptual beings, like me and you. However, that is NOT what QM means by "measurement" (in the context of Heisenberg's conversion of the equations of motion from representing trajectories to representing states, using Planck's equation to set scale). QM means what you say: to measure a property of an entity, you must associate it with another entity, your measuring device; if the entity is a table, then your eyes will do as device, but in the case of electrons, you need something special. But the idea is the same: you use some form of "sensory" apparatus to bring Existence into the scope of your consciousness. When that occurs, both the entity and the measuring device change quantum state, and it is the state change in your measuring device that is recorded and used to generate the conceptual theory linking your observations into a harmonious package.

    - ico

  8. The problem is that real numbers do not correspond to measurable quantities. Real numbers are, in fact, floating abstractions!

    An Euclidean frame may claim "more" real numbers than rationals in the interval (0,1) and be logically correct (yes, I understand the idea of "size" with respect to continuous spaces). However, as an Objectivist, I reject inductions that are not rooted in observable facts. As irrational numbers are neither measurable nor conceptually representable in closed form, they do not exist in experience, and ought to be dispensed with in the science of Physics altogether.

    In fact, all physics' data comes in the form of discrete, rational measurements. Why, then, do the theories continue to invoke continuum maths, with all the attendant problems? Well, yes, historically they have worked; but now it is generally accepted that electrically generated state changes in a finite system are quantized -- and the theory is neatly representable with discrete methods.

    The problem now is that Gravity just won't behave as a discrete, temporally directed force, like radiation (and its derivatives, the electric/strong/weak forces). Ugh. And the physicists are attempting to shoehorn it in.

    Look at the spectacle: Gravity, for which no experimental demonstration of field quantization has EVER been devised, is being modeled as a discrete, quantized property of existence (by analogy with radiation); and the methods being used apply continuum maths to a system assumed to be discrete (ugh). Wow, how mixed up is all that?

    What physicists need to learn, as a group, is that GRAVITY IS NOT QUANTIZED!!!!! -- rather, it is instantaneous, because it represents the fact that systems have a global integrity.

    Think about it.

    - ico

  9. But see, that's where the problem lies. Yes, perhaps the most common relevant definition of will is "determination to do something," but that is not what we are referring to when we say free will. We are trying to indicate the power to choose, and "will" by itself simply doesn't mean that to anyone.

    Taking a gander at "will" as a verb in dictionary.com: "the faculty of conscious and especially of deliberate action; the power of control the mind has over its own actions: the freedom of the will."

    This looks clear to me as it is. I don't see the reason for modifying it with "free".

    However, the 5th definition of "free" on dictionary.com says: "exempt from external authority, interference, restriction, etc., as a person or one's will, thought, choice, action, etc.; independent; unrestricted."

    That is what you are saying. So, by "free will", we are making a political statement. Will is given; but, in society, others (such as government authorities) can prevent one from acting on rational conclusions. FREE will points this out: that, whilst will is given to each individual, the free exercise of that will in society could be abrogated; so the prepellation "free" is used to disambiguate the political usage from the ethical/individual usage.

    In the domain of Politics, where others in society may abrogate my will by force, it makes sense to speak of "free will", I now agree.

    But, in all other domains (Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, and Aesthetics), where the only considerations per se are individual, the use of "will" is sufficient. Does that make sense to you?

    - ico

  10. I want to be more strenuous here: the Law of Entropy causes entities to decay; the robot will at least need to counteract Entropy to continue surviving; ergo, Ayn's robot is not constructable as such, because it cannot be made to exist unconditionally.

    - ico

  11. I think an interesting example that may actually be technically feasible would be if human life can be healthfully extended indefinitely.

    But, even then, accidents can happen, and evildoers can happen.

    I don't see how to make the robot indestructible. You could make its SOFTWARE durable and able to be projected onto a copy of its robot body, then build it a new body whenever the old one breaks. But then, there is still a cost/benefit analysis here, and you could maybe find technology to do the same for a human ... maybe.

    I don't see how you can create a robot wholly divorced from a need for self-preservation ... at very least, it'll need a source of lower entropy to drive its essential processes and prevent entropic decay of its bodily functions.

    You can't build it. No way. Anything built is by definition limited in duration. Done.

    - ico

  12. Not without a heckuvalot more context than that!

    Why would I be taking this bullet, exactly? What if my lover prefers to die so I can live, and will end up committing suicide if I die? In that case, my death would be wasted.

    Without requisite context, the question boils down to this: can I live without my lover? If not, then I'd be the one committing suicide if I said "No", so I may as well say yes.

    The more interesting case is when I can live without my lover. In that case, the question is whether I consider myself more valuable than my lover, according to my standard of value (my life). The usual answer would be "Yes", and is the direction I lean, but inconclusively. But if my lover were Ayn Rand, I might change my tune ...

    Having said that, in the heat of the moment, I don't think I could stop myself doing everything in my power to protect my lover, up to and including placing my body as a shield between her body and a gunman's aim.

    I have to say: need more context.

    - ico

  13. Dancing Bear said it: the continuance of my (happy) life is conditional on what I do next, and etc. This fact leads me to choose my life as my standard of value, and consistent usage of this standard leads me to scientific concepts of right and wrong.

    whYNOT also pointed out a very interesting fact about knowledge: the accumulation of knowledge is a one-way process in the direction of greater knowledge. An individual's knowledge cannot decrease in the absence of dis-ease. One of the most common dis-eases today is the attempt to evade a conclusion after it is already formed: as whYNOT points out, this is the hallmark of ultimate evaders.

    There are two choices when given the option of learning a fact: learn it, or avoid learning it. Those who consistently do the former are de facto Objectivists, at least epistemologically. Those who do the latter are classic, run of the mill evaders: they evade discovering knowledge in the first place, on the premise that facts are NOT facts until one consciously encounters them, which clearly violates the law of identity.

    I would argue that the next level, what whYNOT terms "ultimate evaders", needs a unit concept to represent it and distinguish it from classic evaders. "Ultimate evaders" don't just avoid discovering facts; they intentionally eradicate facts from their minds after discovering them, on the premise that if they don't admit what they know, then they will be able to bend the facts away from their original state when necessary to maintain conceptual integrity.

    I reserve the term "evaders" for the classic variety that refuses to discover; for those who go the full nine yards, learn the fact, then flush it from their conscious considerations, I use the term "ignorers". But maybe someone has a better word?

    - ico

  14. Before I talk about what focus is, however, it's important to ask what one should be focusing ON.

    I disagree. Focus can change, so yes, you must focus on SOMETHING; but what you focus on is not relevant to the power to focus per se, just as your eyes can focus or not, independently of what direction your head is pointed. The visual analogy is perfect once realize that the (essentially geometric) difference between the optical and conceptual aspects of experience can be abstracted out via measurement omission to leave the concept "focus" to mean what LP takes it to mean.

    So being focused means that the method of cognitive functioning you function on is such that puts effort into achieving mental clarity on those things which are relevant to your well being (small or large, of the immediate moment or that belong to your long term happiness).

    I disagree. Focus is distinctly NOT a method of cognition, but a prerequisite to any such method. First, you must focus. Only then can you think cogently, i.e. concentrate (change/keep focus on a well-defined sequence of related concepts). Focus simply allows you to see things for what they are in any given frame of experience (the axioms omit time measurements, i.e., omit frame change frequency), to the extent you are capable of doing so and without adding/subtracting any essential aspects. The degree of focus is the degree/percent to which you are extracting information from your surroundings, and the degree to which you are paying attention, in any given instant, to what you are doing.

    For example: You are playing a game, the hour is getting late and you know you need to get up early the next day for work. You can either insist to hold the correct knowledge in the forefront of your mind, or to unfocus and continue playing. (I am assuming here that this work is a value which is more important to you than playing. Let's not get into "what if it's not" because that will not serve to illustrate the point).

    Another example: Your wife, which you've been married to for a long time, starts acting irrationally. You can choose to inquire and study the subject, or passively unfocus and continue your daily routine, even though it means you are neglecting your pursuit of happiness.

    Another example: You are at school, learning to be an engineer. The teacher is teaching a new subject which you know is relevant to what you want to do. You can either focus on it (maintain mental effort to make connections and make sense of the material) or unfocus and just write the formulas down.

    Good examples of testing one's JUDGMENT; but focus is prior to judgment, and essential to discovering the necessary facts on which to base judgments.

    Now, I may be coloring outside the lines here, but I think it important to distinguish the frames of conceptual experience, which can be switched more or less at mental will, and which are the atoms of focus; from the mental sequencing of the frames, which is higher-order conception than simple "focus". In particular, ethics and value judgments require more than focus; dogs focus on frisbees just fine, thank you very much; but a dog cannot conceptualize, so is limited to what it can hold in focus in any given frame, and some dogs do have quite high memories, can juggle quite a bit of information, but can't put 1+1 to get 2 -- focus is prior, and simpler, than conceptualization. That may not be strict Objectivist, but I think it is closer to the spirit, separating out the clearly identifiable, independent aspect of focus, from the subsequent sequences that allow validation of knowledge.

    - ico

  15. That being said, the parent/child relationship should morally involve quite a bit of force, and there is nothing wrong with that.

    You are assuming that the child won't learn from a good, rational explanation. Most children will if and only if they are treated with respect from day one. Those that won't, and aren't diseased/deficient, may need to be forced; but then, if you find that the level of force INCREASES with time, something is very wrong. As the child grows, the frequency with which his/her actions contradict what is good for them ought to decrease ...

    - ico

  16. I disagree, Dante. This is an important point. Redundancy is to be avoided -- by definition, it is redundant; and, due to friction/entropy effects (don't laugh), redundancy in structures, whether conceptual or physical, tends to destroy the stability of the structure.

    The problem with "free will" is that it suggest there is some other kind of will, as you know. This is not brushable under the carpet. "Will" is enough, meaning "determination to do something". It is an inborn power of Man. It is, it exists, it is sufficiently encapsulated with the meaning of "will".

    Modifying a good concept like "will", by prepending "free", and then claiming the add has no net effect is silly redundancy.

    To regain the moral high ground from the plebes, one must think in terms of "will"; personally, I have trouble thinking of "will" when I say "free will", but then, that's me.


    - ico

  17. "The main goal of Buddhist practice is to reach freedom from suffering by coming to see the world as it actually is and abandoning the distorted projections that our thoughts and emotions create. A very important means to reach this goal is to refrain from destructive actions, since these actions cause harm to others and create mental disturbances in us that generate suffering and keep us from seeing things as they are. Moreover, according to Buddhist teachings, those who reach the goal of freedom thenceforward act in a loving and compassionate manner towards others, helping these others in turn to be more happy and free. Ethical action is thus both an important part of the Buddhist path and an important aspect of the results said to flow from that path."

    The logical flaw is the focus on "freedom from suffering". There is the standard. By contrast, the Objectivist standard is MY LIFE. Now, the two do overlap, but are NOT synonymous.

    I think that's the root of the difference: different standard of value. As usual.

    - ico

  18. I have never questioned the wisdom of choosing rationality as a means of survival. If you think that I have been doing so, you have entirely missed the point of my previous posts.

    Oh right, you admit rationality as a means, but not the only means. Am I getting that right? For reference, Objectivism considers rationality the ONLY long term means to success -- with survival implied, but LIFE is the goal, not biological continuance per se, even so far as the latter is essential to the former.

    You have nicely demonstrated my problem: you are concerned with a subjective view of what man OUGHT to be, not what man demonstrably is. "Man qua man" is far more complex than Rand's particular description. Again, don't get me wrong: I think her moral directives have a great deal of merit, but they simply have no anchor in science.

    It all comes down to this:

    Given an action, is there a rational means to determine whether that action is good or bad?

    If yes, then my view is OBJECTIVE; if no, then my view is an ERROR. There is no context in which my view is subjective, beyond the fact that I am the one espousing it. By that standard, no knowledge could ever be objective, so what's your point again?

    I never said that individuality is necessarily sacrificed because we are not truly self-sufficient islands. My point was that the claim that only self-suffiency meant freedom was very limited by the actual facts on the ground

    If I gain a value by trade, then according to your logic, I am dependent on others, not self-sufficient -- even if I honestly produce the values I offer, and don't take more than I deserve (i.e., have earned/paid for). You seem to assume that division of labor and sharing of knowledge are the essentials, rather than derivative processes. You assume the wealth leverage of DoL and SoK a prior, without considering where that leverage originates. Other individuals are a benefit to me in society if and only if they are rational, and only to the degree (in mixed cases) of each individual's rationality. Now, I use my life as my standard, so if you want to swap in another standard, like power over others or whatnot, then you create a contradiction. According to my standard, my life, self-sufficient means using what means I have to get happy, and not stealing means from others.

    You have it reversed. You are arguing that division of labor and sharing of knowledge work in a vacuum. They don't. Witness the 70 year economic debacle called "Soviet Union", or the even more heinous destruction by Mao in China. Like the common folk in Atlas Shrugged, you seem to think factories will operate themselves -- okay, not so gross a silliness, you are clearly intelligent; but in principle, what you are arguing is to drop context necessary for DoL and SoK to work.

    I desire that my children may have the same abundance of happiness, joy, and satisfaction that I enjoy. Obviously I can't dictate or force that, but if by my example I show them the results of a life lived to its fullest, than that would be a goal accomplished. So far, so good -- my kids are happy despite the sickening culture around them. They appear to have absorbed the love of family that I hoped they would. I suppose you were looking for some other "accomplishment", but I can think of no other work more important than the forming of one's own sons and daughters. That is creative, in every deepest sense.

    Good. Then I don't see what the issue is, unless you are wondering whether to turn your kids on to religion or not.

    I desire for me and mine to live in a truly free society where I get what I deserve and others don't feel noble taking my stuff.

    Is that asking too much?

    - ico

  19. Without knowing the reasons for your friends evasion of the discussion, it is impossible to infer whether he is evading in fact, in his mind, or not. However, the fact that he is evading the discussion is clearly a red flag, as you noted. While it is possible that evasion of the discussion is based on good, rational, reason; and it is further possible that he has a good, rational reason for not telling you the reason he is evading the discussion; it is far more likely that he is evading the topics in fact, i.e., in his mind.

    If he won't discuss, and won't tell you a good reason why not, then you are stuck.

    Maybe try getting him out of his usual state of mind and try for more intimate discussion then.


    - ico

  20. It seems the transcendence of an Objectivist is still one attached to the pleasures and rewards of the Earth, which is an interesting departure from the Platonist mysticism of previous eras.

    Nowhere in the quote you cited does Ayn use or even refer to the word "Earth" -- it appears to be your own quasi-epithetical attempt to devalue "Earthian" versus whatever might be "above" it ...

    I think it's your own off-kilter spin here, Dingbat -- much as I have been enjoying your posts lately, you really made me do a double take with this one.

    - ico

  21. Contractual powers are contractual rights, they are rights in the broad sense that once agreed to then no further permissions are required. In finance, exercising a put or call option is exercising a right to buy or sell at a certain price. A policeman has a right to use force in certain circumstances due to his employment, a right which others do not have.

    You are analogizing option exercise and police force. Ahem. Let's see where it leads.

    Having an option to buy or sell at a specific price is a contractual obligation; that contract has terms; if you violate certain terms (e.g., those regarding front-running or some other fraudulent practice) then you lose your option. It is contractual, and you are bound by the contract.

    In the case of a policeman using legal force, it is in his contract of employment that he MUST discharge his best judgment in protecting citizen's rights. So, his appropriate use of force is a contractual obligation on him, as an individual agent working for the government; by induction, the use of force by whatever collection of individuals constitutes the government at any given moment, is a contractual obligation if and only if such force is appropriate to the service of protecting individuals.

    Where is it not contractual. If it is not contractual, then, what entity owns it?

    - ico

  22. No. Contrary to another thread here, government does not act contractually.

    A proper government's only role is to protect individual Rights.

    "Contract" implies "agreement" and if a criminal does not agree to respect my rights the government must still punish him when he violates my rights.

    It's a written, objective law. That's an agreement among individuals ... a contract.

    Government is a contractual entity - it is not a given, does not exist a priori.

    I really can't get past this.

    - ico

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