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Reason vs. faith as tools of cognition?

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you are pitting the two against each other without reason.
This is an unfair representation of Allen's posts. He denies the existence of reason as such.

They are two different modes of discovering truth, ...
Allen denies the existence of reality and truth.

In effect, he is denying the existence of argument. So, I have no idea why he is here.

Do not say this is an ad hominem. To be such, we'd have to assume the existence of a person.

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...she explains her system is being ultimately based on axioms which cannot be proved, and have no rational explanations for being accepted as true. Ergo, to accept them is act on belief or faith, not reason.

You have no clue what faith nor reason means. I will not let you go around stating that Miss Rand's system is founded on an act of faith. Proof presupposes certain facts of reality, such as that you exist and that reality exists. Axioms cannot be proven but THEY CAN BE VALIDATED. To ask for proof of the axioms is to ask one to step outside reality, outside of your consciousness, and prove their existence--sheer insanity.

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SoftwareNerd,

No, I don't agree that Allen denies the existence of reality and truth. In an earlier post he states, "I Believe that reality exists and that I am a part of it". Though Allen and I would probably disagree in many areas, he does point out some weaknesses in the claim of objectivity in Objectivism.

Gabriel, you stated: "That valid axioms cannot be proved does not mean that they do not have a rational explanation (that's your erroneous assumption). Therefore, it does not follow that their acceptance is based on faith".

That's essentially the point I make in reply to the assertion that belief in God is based on faith alone.

Felipe,

You wrote: "Are you not able to argue on your own two feet? Do you need Aquinas and his 'five ways' to prove your point? Can't you state your case simply using reason and logic?"

I don't feel the need to re-invent the wheel and the internal combustion engine every time I choose to drive a car. Aquinas' arguments do use reason and logic.

You stated, "Your entire argument is based on this false assertion that existence needs a cause."

No, my assertion is that caused things (i.e., matter) need a cause. If astronauts found a computer on the moon, they wouldn't assume that it just created itself: they would know, by logic and simple common sense, that it was made and put there.

You wrote: "One more time, second verse same as the first: the universe refers to everything that exists, so to say that "something caused the universe" is a gross contradiction."

The universe consists of all finite entities that exist. It is not a contradiction to posit that the finite universe was caused.

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I don't feel the need to re-invent the wheel and the internal combustion engine every time I choose to drive a car. Aquinas' arguments do use reason and logic.

...

You stated, "Your entire argument is based on this false assertion that existence needs a cause."

No, my assertion is that caused things (i.e., matter) need a cause.

...

The universe consists of all finite entities that exist. It is not a contradiction to posit that the finite universe was caused.

Funny, I never knew that using Aquinas's five ways was equivalent to using reason and logic. Maybe I should stop using reason and logic and use Aquinas's five ways more often? Maybe I should stop walking my way to knowledge and instead use a car?

Aquinas's five ways is an entire machinery that is built upon premises which may or may not be true. So instead of using his arguments--which means presupposing his premises are valid--I want you to build your own, yes using reason and logic. I think what's happen is you've presented his premises and I've been able to destroy them, instead of having to argue the finer points of his five ways.

Regarding your "caused things need causes" statement, there is no support for the assertion. I think you are raping the law of causality and it's had enough. The law of causality says that entities cause actions--it is an application of the law of identity to the actions of entities. The scope of the law of causality is to the actions of entities, that the actions entities cause must be consistent with the nature of the entities that are acting. In your application of this principle, you are inventing some super-entity that miraculously causes "matter" to exist. Not only do you invent an entity which violates the law of identity, but then you attribute to it an action whose effect also violates the law of identity--it is not in the nature of matter to come to be out of nothing, i.e. the action of "coming to be out of nothing," who's cause you attribute to God, is not a "logical" application of the law of causality, it is a fallacious one. Matter is not caused.

As to your assertion that it's not a contradiction to say that "all finite things in existence" were caused by X. The statement "all finite things in existence" has already identified everything that exists, but then you speak of some other entity, outside of this group. Did you miss one special entity in the concept "universe?" Either way, things are what they are and nothing more, but you are inventing something that is by design not only outside the group of entities which exist (denoted by the concept "universe"), but is attributed with an impossible, if not laughable, identity--the ability to create things out of nothing.

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Felipe,

You stated, "Funny, I never knew that using Aquinas's five ways was equivalent to using reason and logic."

Yes, they are. If you disagree, point out the specific logical errors in the syllogisms.

You asked, "Maybe I should stop using reason and logic and use Aquinas's five ways more often?"

There's no conflict between his arguments and logic. So yes, read more Aquinas. You might just learn something.

You wrote: "Regarding your "caused things need causes" statement, there is no support for the assertion."

How about simple observation? Everything I see does not contain within itself the ability to cause itself to come into being. They are all caused. Provide evidence of a sense-perceptible entity that is not caused, but causes itself to come into being (which involves the logical impossibility of preceding itself). There is absolutely no support for your assertion that finite entities just spring themselves into being.

You stated: "I think you are raping the law of causality and it's had enough."

I haven't referred to any "law of causality". I have stated the very simple, common-sense, and logical observation that caused entities require causes. I would have thought this was obvious from observation.

You stated, "In your application of this principle, you are inventing some super-entity that miraculously causes "matter" to exist."

Again, I have not referred to the "law of causality", or applied its principles. I'm relying on common sense and logic.

You stated, "The statement "all finite things in existence" has already identified everything that exists".

No, it identifies all finite things. You are making the unsupported assertion that the infinite does not exist. Since we can conceptualize infinity (infinite progression of numbers, etc), are you saying that such concepts do not exist?

I'll have to get to the rest of your post later. Again, I'd appreciate continuing this discussion via private message, as it is a more profitable use of my time (that is, I know you will get them, which I have no assurance of here).

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Forget Aquinas, I won't mention him again. I don't care about proving his five ways as useful or not, this was my point in not allowing you to use his arguments.

You are positing a false alternative: either an entity is self-causing or something else caused it. I'll say one last time, ENTITIES ARE NOT CAUSED. Things cannot come to be out of nothing, THEY JUST ARE. You are falsely requiring that entities must be caused, but they are not a cannot be.

Though you've not referred to the law of causality, it is indeed what you're using when you talk about the actions of entities--I was simply identifying the principle by its name. Whether you were consciously using it or not, you were actually using it.

As I said, the law of identity states that things that exist must have finite qualities and must be of finite quantity--there can be no entity of infinite quantity or quality. Yes we can conceptualize infinity, as a potential, not an actual. Concepts ARE NOT entities. The concept "infinity" is a concept of method which allows us to mentally refer to a potential set of entities that is never-ending. But entities are not sets, entities are finite, bounded things.

Here are your premises:

-Entities MUST be caused

-Things of infinite quality and quantity exist

Both of these are dead wrong. Entities are neither destroyed nor created, they just are. The concept "infinity" denotes a potentially never-ending set of entities, not an actual entity or identity.

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That valid axioms cannot be proved does not mean that they do not have a rational explanation (that's your erroneous assumption). Therefore, it does not follow that their acceptance is based on faith. That would be a complete misuse of the concepts of "rational" and "faith." Wrong conceptions=wrong conclusions. GIGO.

Rand asserts that valid axioms don't need explanations and can be taken as self-evidents, so it's a moot point for an Objectivist to make isn't it? I fail to see how a rational explanation of an axiom could fail to prove that axiom and yet still be considered a rational explanation of it.

Rational proof? Oh, and what is that based upon? A more fundamental proposition. And what is that based upon? Etc. Ultimately, as you claim, something arbitrary, i.e., invalid. Therefore, the argument itself is self-refuting. QED.

I agree that the chain of propositions that proof of the Problem of First Principles depends upon ultimately leads to an unverifiable axiom. However, because an axiom is adopted without deference to rational explanation does not disprove it. It merely indicates that it is not capable of being explained. So, your above argument offers no proof that the proof of the PoFP I demonstrated is false or self-refuting.

Doesn't it strike you as, how can I put this mildly, a little funny that you keep coming up with "reasoned" arguments to prove that reason is invalid?

My aim is not to prove that reason is invalid. I'm suggesting that to adopt Objectivism as a philosophical system -- a system that asserts that man is capable of knowing the facts of reality -- the Objectivist inductee must accept unprovable axioms (self-evidences) that are therefore chosen without possible verification.

That said, since no one else caught this -- the ItOE passage I quoted was related to axiomatic concepts not axioms (Problem of First Principles is applicable to logical propositions -- not merely concepts). My mistake. But this nevertheless still leaves the issue of Rand's self-evident concepts and axioms. I read what she said about them. Still a weak point in the philosophy I think.

Edited by Allen Atsea
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You have no clue what faith nor reason means.  I will not let you go around stating that Miss Rand's system is founded on an act of faith.  Proof presupposes certain facts of reality, such as that you exist and that reality exists.  Axioms cannot be proven but THEY CAN BE VALIDATED.  To ask for proof of the axioms is to ask one to step outside reality, outside of your consciousness, and prove their existence--sheer insanity.

Taking something as self-evident without being able to prove it or explain it is not an act of faith?

Felipe, I ask you to cede that this is a flaw inherent in all logical systems of thought. This is a shortcoming of logic itself. So, Objectivism isn't any worse off than any other philosophical system in this regard. Maybe I just mean to say that a certain level of skepticism is always good.

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Define flaw, and then define the standard by which you are determining that "axioms" are "flaws" in "all logical systems of thought."

Flaw as I am using it = insurmountable limitation in offering explaination

It's logic that is flawed. See the Problem of First Principles, http://www.friesian.com/founda-1.htm

Sorry it's a link from the Friesian School :P But keep in mind that Aristotle is the one who identified this argument.

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Don't direct me to outside sources, you explain it to me.

I already explained it earlier in the thread:

It's actually an idea that goes back to Aristotle -- it's a logical issue that no one has been able to clear away and it was clearly recognized by Rand as well as being an unavoidable logical issue which rationally forbids proving primary axioms using reason.

To prove a proposition you must provide a reason for finding it to be true. You do this by providing another proposition to rationally justify the first. The proposition you create to justify your original proposition then requires a proposition of its own in order to be proved. The logical result of building axiomatic systems this way is that eventually you will have an infinite regress of propositions, unless you arbitrarily (without reasonable justification) chose a proposition to be your primary, unprovable proposition. Therefore primaries by definition have no rational explanations.

I'll add that this presents a disconnect in the use of logic in developing a coherent system of thought, between using logic to prove everything else in, say Objectivism, and being unable to use it to produce its foundation. Other Rational philosophers have produced systems of thought based on unprovable self-evidents, e.g. Descartes's Cogito ergo sum. So the adoption of self-evidents it is to an extent arbitrary, or based on individual preference without logical justification.

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I don't think one can make broad generalizations about a design flaw in all logical systems. Let us look at Objectivism only.

Objectivism, yes, is a system designed by using logic to unravel all the corollaries of the axioms. Now, you are asking for proof of the axioms, which means you hold that the they may or may not be valid.

But, you cannot get away with this view, since by expressing your view that the axioms of Objectivism may or may not be valid (since we can never "prove" them) you are actually relying on them to state your point. Without the axioms, you can't even posit anything--since it's uncertain that you exist, that reality exists, and that things have a nature and only this nature.

If you think "existence exists" and "existence is identity" are taken on faith since they can never be proven, the only way for you to consistently hold this view is to crawl up into a ball and die.

You cannot post, type, think, convey, if you think there's a chance that you don't exist, that reality doesn't exists, and that you, your keyboard, your computer, and your internet provider don't have a specific nature that never changes.

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I don't think one can make broad generalizations about a design flaw in all logical systems.  Let us look at Objectivism only.

Objectivism, yes, is a system designed by using logic to unravel all the corollaries of the axioms.  Now, you are asking for proof of the axioms, which means you hold that the they may or may not be valid.

But, you cannot get away with this view, since by expressing your view that the axioms of Objectivism may or may not be valid (since we can never "prove" them) you are actually relying on them to state your point.  Without the axioms, you can't even posit anything--since it's uncertain that you exist, that reality exists, and that things have a nature and only this nature.

Right, I read Rand's assertion that her axioms were implicit in all propositions, even false ones. This does not change the fact that acceptance of her axioms is illogical and therefore must be done in faith (belief divorced from logical proof).

If you think "existence exists" and "existence is identity" are taken on faith since they can never be proven, the only way for you to consistently hold this view is to crawl up into a ball and die.

Yes, I've made a faithful choice not to be a nihilist. :P I still understand that I have no logical basis for doing so. But it is much more fun than lying in the fetal position. :dough:

I've obviously made a choice to move beyond the problem of self-evidence / first principles in living my own life. And I'm ready for in-depth study of Objectivism and other philosophical systems now -- though I'll focus on Objectivism for now. And I don't want this argument to become counterproductive to my use of the forums in my studies. Basically I'm saying that we simply may not be able to see eye to eye on this issue at this time, no matter what arguments we make. This issue, while of high importance to me, is something I'd like to work on resolving as I continue with my studies.

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Right, I read Rand's assertion that her axioms were implicit in all propositions, even false ones. This does not change the fact that acceptance of her axioms is illogical and therefore must be done in faith (belief divorced from logical proof).

Yes, I've made a faithful choice not to be a nihilist. :P I still understand that I have no logical basis for doing so. But it is much more fun than lying in the fetal position. :dough:

You are the one making the assertion that everything requires proof, and ignoring the fact that proof rests on axioms which can be shown to be factually valid. Rand did not make an assertion, she showed that no matter your whims at present, there is no way to avoid the fact of these axioms are valid and that all proofs, all propositions, rest on them. I'm done with this conversation--the Objectivist axioms are perceptual self-evidencies, they do not require proof.

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...they do not require proof...
What is proof?

As I understand it, to prove something is to demonstrate that it is true (i.e. that it corresponds to reality). Proof does not always require demonstrating that a proposition is valid, based on other propositions. That is only a special case of proving something.

For Allen, "proof" means something else. It means: demonstrating that something corresponds to his faith.

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What is proof?

As I understand it, to prove something is to demonstrate that it is true (i.e. that it corresponds to reality).

You have a way of doing that, that doesn't require logic?

"All truths are the products of a logical identification of the facts of experience."

-Leonard Peikoff, "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy," Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Expanded Second Edition, p. 112.

Proof does not always require demonstrating that a proposition is valid, based on other propositions.  That is only a special case of proving something.

For Allen, "proof" means something else. It means: demonstrating that something corresponds to his faith.

My discussion of proof relates to logic. You know, that thingie Objectivism employs. (Its axioms aside) Objectivism brings this special way of proving something to bear on the rest of its structure and claims to be devoted to it.

I'm with Felipe in that I'm really not interested in arguing this anymore on this forum.

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You have a way of doing that, that doesn't require logic?

No, but it's the same issue, expressed differently: what is logic?

If you think of it as "a thingie" or some game played with propositions... well, it is probably best not to discuss it. But then, what is "it"...how can I say "it" if I assume reality does not exist.

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If you think of it as "a thingie" or some game played with propositions... well, it is probably best not to discuss it. But then, what is "it"...how can I say "it" if I assume reality does not exist.

I was being ironic when I called it a 'thingie' since you seemed to have temporarily forgotten that your philosophy was built with logic when you stated:

"Proof does not always require demonstrating that a proposition is valid, based on other propositions. That is only a special case of proving something."

Game? Where is this coming from? You're hung up on the fact that I assume reality does not exist because I'm at intellectual odds with an aspect of Objectivism? This even though I've stated several times that I do think reality is objective. I didn't realize Objectivists had exclusive claim to thinking reality was objective.

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To all,

I am amazed that this conversation went on as long as it did. In my judgement it didn't need to go beyond any poster's arbitrary statement that proof (logic) can be divorced from the acceptance of the existance of the facts that one uses in any premise of a logical chain of reasoning. Let's all go back and re-read the sections of OPAR on the nature of the arbitrary.

In other words, in order to begin a chain of reasoning with the premise "P"

one must recognize the axiom "existance - including P - exists"

If existance doesn't exist, neither does god, or any other fact of reality. And if the facts of reality don't exist, there is no need to ague with or about a non-entity. :)

Tom Rowland

Edited by TomR61
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To all,

I am amazed that this conversation went on as long as it did.  In my judgement it didn't need to go beyond any poster's arbitrary statement that proof (logic) can be divorced from the acceptance of the existance of the facts that one uses in any premise of a logical chain of reasoning. Let's all go back and re-read the sections of OPAR on the nature of the arbitrary.

In other words, in order to begin a chain of reasoning with the premise "P"

one must recognize the axiom "existance - including P - exists"

If existance doesn't exist, neither does god, or any other fact of reality. And if the facts of reality don't exist, there is no need to ague with or about a non-entity.  :)

Tom Rowland

Tom, logic is divorced from the process of adopting principle axioms. This is why Ayn claimed her axioms were "self-evident" instead of logically validating them. That was my point, but I'm officially outta the argument. . . now. . . as tempting as it may be to me to jump back in. . . but I won't swear that I won't be overcome by the impulse to do so.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure OPAR explicitly rejects the notion God (noticed you stated god's existence as a fact of reality) in the section on the nature of the arbitrary, if you still have your book opened there:

"one can demonstrate that the idea of God contradicts all the fundamentals of a rational philosophy. Thanks to such a process of integration, what was initially arbitrary attains cognitive status - in this instance, as a falsehood."

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, p. 166.

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Tom, logic is divorced from the process of adopting principle axioms.

And, once again, so must this "principle" be divorced from logic. Thus, your attack on the axioms is self-refuting because that "principle" is self-negating. Of course, you'll protest (at least to yourself) and try to weasel out of the blatant contradiction your position necessitates, but that's your problem not mine.

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And, once again, so must this "principle" be divorced from logic. Thus, your attack on the axioms is self-refuting because that "principle" is self-negating. Of course, you'll protest (at least to yourself) and try to weasel out of the blatant contradiction your position necessitates, but that's your problem not mine.

Since you're repeating yourself, I guess I'll repeat myself:

I agree that the chain of propositions that proof of the Problem of First Principles depends upon ultimately leads to an unverifiable axiom. However, because an axiom is adopted without deference to rational explanation does not disprove it. It merely indicates that it is not capable of being explained. A logical train of thought cannot be infinitely long, can it? At some point, logical inquiry must be arbitrarily ended in order to prove anything. So, you are making an incorrect assumption regarding logic and offering no proof that the proof of the PoFP I demonstrated is false or self-refuting.

I recommend reading Aristotle if you still think this is a self-refuting argument.

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