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Reason vs. faith as tools of cognition?

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A logical train of thought cannot be infinitely long, can it? At some point, logical inquiry must be arbitrarily ended.

Reality (existence) is not an arbitrary end. That's the point.

Tom Rowland

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Reality (existence) is not an arbitrary end. That's the point.

Tom Rowland

This is fundamentally axiomatic to you but you cannot logically justify your faith in its truth. If you could, you'd need to adopt new principle axioms from which Objectivism's principle axioms would logically follow. Aristotle evolved the idea of "self-evident" principle axioms and Rand ran with his idea in developing her system without any improvement upon it. The fact is, in order to accept Objectivism one must accept its "self-evident" principles, principles which by their very nature, must be illogically adopted in an act of faith (belief without logical justification).

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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.

I repeated myself because you keep insisting on issuing the same nonsense.

You are using words without meaning. "Faith" denotes believing in something without evidence or in contradiction to evidence. The concept fully does not apply to rational philosophic axioms. However, it would apply to axioms that are not rationally justified, such as a host of religious axioms (and secular ones for that matter too, including your vaunted "principle"). Self-evidence is the most certain verification possible. The very concepts of "proof," "logic," and "evidence" depend upon the validity of these self-evident axioms. Concepts such as "faith" and "arbitrary" are meaningless without the prior acceptance of the axioms. So, to demand proof for the axioms, to label them illogical, to say they must be accepted on faith, that they are arbitrary, etc., is to use words without meaning. All such attacks ONLY have meaning within the context of the axioms being valid. Concepts that are at the root of ALL knowledge, the axioms, cannot be undermined in any manner whatsoever by knowledge that is built upon them. Your "principle," therefore, is wrong.

The bottom line is that the Objectivist axioms are validated by establishing their self-evidency. And that, sir, has been done. For details, see OPAR and ITOE.

One last note on this, and I do mean LAST note...

One thing axioms can't do, however, is to force those who would deny them to accept their validity. Humans have freewill and can deny the existence of the nose on their face, if they choose. The best avenue in that case is to stop talking to the person because by his own admission he really doesn't even know if he exists. And I certainly wouldn't want to be caught talking to myself.

So, with that said...Goodbye.

Edited by Gabriel_S

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Imagine someone deletes a post by Allen. Imagine the conversation:

Allen: "Who deleted my post?"

Mod: "Post? What post?"

Allen: "My post. Don't you know what a post is? Who deleted it?"

Mod : "I'm not quite sure what a post is? Is 'posted' a verb for post? Are you sure you 'posted', whatever that means?"

Allen: "Ofcourse I'm sure. Are you blind? I have several posts in this thread. But, the last one is missing."

Mod: "Sorry, my faith shows this thread mostly has water-melons, and a few dots. Ofcourse, you might see posts. Be patient, maybe someone will come along and have a faith that matches yours. All the best."

Allen: Sure you didn't see any?

Mod: I wouldn't be able to recognize them if I did, but I tried various colored glasses, and see nothing outside my own known reality.

Allen: Well, thanks for trying! I guess I'll have to wait.

Mod: You might try the Kantian forum. Legend says that threads that exist in this world have a form that exists there too. Who knows, maybe it works for "posts" too.

Allen: Thanks for the tip.

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1.) To critique a point about Objectivism is to deny my own existence ? -- if only you could hear how that sounded on the outside looking in.

2.) The Problem of First Principles is an argument not a principle.

3.) I didn't create it, Aristotle did.

4.) The Objectivist axioms are not rationally justified -- a possible path to rationally justifying them would be to imply them from a propositional corollary, as I think you are suggesting. (However, this has difficulties too.) But Rand doesn't even approach this as a possibility towards maintaining the rationality of the system: "One knows that the axioms are true not by inference of any kind, but by sense perception." Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, p. 8 Therefore saying that they are implied by later propositions is not the method of validation Rand employed though I applaud you for feeling intellectually obligated to do so.

5.) My point is that the principle axioms of Objectivism are by definition, explicitly illogical -- logic was not used to claim them as being self-evident. Are they deduced? No. Are they adopted because implied by corollary propositions? No. Did they evolve from Ayn Rand's sense perception in some undescribed fashion? Yes. Are they therefore removed from logic? Yes.

6.) You are using logical implication to try to prove me wrong. However, Rand herself says that this is not whence her principles sprang.

7.) The principle axioms of Objectivism were derived in an illogical manner.

QED

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The Objectivist axioms are not rationally justified ... "One knows that the axioms are true not by inference of any kind, but by sense perception." Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, p. 8

What does the capacity for rationality rest on, you troglodyte? Can one engage in rationality without sense-perception? "I want to be rational, but at the same time assume that I might not exist and that my senses might not be valid and that reality might not exist."

Cavemen would've never left the caves if they thought as you.

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logic was not used to claim them as being self-evident.
There is no logic without the axioms.

Are they deduced? No.

They are induced. You cannot deduce on an empty mind.

Rejecting the axioms is tantamount to saying that proof requires proof. You can not prove existence; to prove something, you have to accept that there is a basis for proof: existence. You have to take the first initiative by accepting the axioms. Is that a leap of faith? No, faith would be rejecting the axioms, because they are implicit with everything you sense, think, or do. On the other hand, it would require something between immoral dishonesty and obscene self-delusion in order to reject the axioms.

They are true, because otherwise you would see nothing; hear nothing; be nothing.

If Mr. Atsea still refuses to acknowledge the axioms then we can at least give him the justice of ignoring him. He has no grounds to object, since he doesn't exist.

EDIT: Grammar.

Edited by iouswuoibev

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There is no logic without the axioms.

They are induced. You cannot deduce on an empty mind.

Rejecting the axioms is tantamount to saying that proof requires proof. You can not prove existence; to prove something, you have to accept that there is a basis for proof: existence. You have to take the first initiative by accepting the axioms. Is that a leap of faith? No, faith would be rejecting the axioms, because they are implicit with everything you sense, think, or do. On the other hand, it would require something between immoral dishonesty and obscene self-delusion in order to reject the axioms.

They are true, because otherwise you would see nothing; hear nothing; be nothing.

If Mr. Atsea still refuses to acknowledge the axioms then we can at least give him the justice of ignoring him. He has no grounds to object, since he doesn't exist.

EDIT: Grammar.

I agree that the axioms are induced. As I cede my existence as being necessary to at least participate in this discussion, I haven't denied existence by saying it takes a perceptual leap of faith, in the absence of logic, to accept the Objectivist axioms. I would also like to point out that I was not denying the axioms, only questioning how they were produced. Aside from the primary axiom, Existence exist, take the corollary axiom, To exist is to have identity. The latter is another induced axiom derived through perception.

We experience consciousness as being something unique to and distinct from other things, things which are not a part of our consciousness, i.e. things external to our minds. But that is not to say that our brains do not draw possibly artificial distinctions through existence, consciousness as we know it, could not function without doing this, whether the seperate identities we attribute to objects are artificial or not. Because consciousness relies on this does not make it true necessarily. We can rely on our perception of reality only to determine whether this is true or not, and we cannot use logic, as this is the unprovable foundation of logic.

So, suppose hypothetically that as existence surely exists, our perception of it leads us from recognizing that it is truly a gestalt, and that everything we perceive as being a piece or a constituent part of existence is an effect of the brain's need to classify and group things, a survival mechanism if you will, to ultimately distinguish between things that bring us life and things that bring us death, when the truth is, existence has no real parts, it is irreducible and therefore not completely knowable in any terms that extend beyond itself as a whole, i.e. existence is existence, and existence is only existence.

Back to my original point re: faith vis-a-vis Objectivism, it therefore requires a leap of faith to believe that an understanding of reality is possible in terms of analyzing its constituent pieces, knowledge of which may or may not constitute actually knowing reality. To rely on the fact that perception does distinguish elements of reality from other elements of reality as an unquestionable fact about the nature of reality, is to overlook an equally valid assumption: that our experience of discrete identities may be more a fact about the nature of perception.

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Ah yes, this sounds strangely familiar--we can't see reality because we have eyes, we can't hear it because we have ears, we can't taste it because we have taste buds, we can't touch it because we have skin, and we can't smell it because we have noses.

If we can't be sure that we know reality, that our senses are valid, why argue about anything on an Objectivism forum--there is no way for us to know truth!

Since I already warned you privately about continuing to post nonsense such as the content in the above post, I'm tempted to help you with the testing of your hypothesis that you may actually not exist, that your senses may actually be feeding you garbage, and thus that you may or may not actually be posting on a forum for people looking to learn about Objectivism by banning you out of existence. However, bless my kind heart, I will instead ask you in public to be honorable and cease making posts that assert "facts" about Objectivism instead of questions about Objectivism. Questions, my friend, no more assertions.

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Ah yes, this sounds strangely familiar--we can't see reality because we have eyes, we can't hear it because we have ears, we can't taste it because we have taste buds, we can't touch it because we have skin, and we can't smell it because we have noses.

If we can't be sure that we know reality, that our senses are valid, why argue about anything on an Objectivism forum--there is no way for us to know truth! 

Since I already warned you privately about continuing to post nonsense such as the content in the above post, I'm tempted to help you with the testing of your hypothesis that you may actually not exist, that your senses may actually be feeding you garbage, and thus that you may or may not actually be posting on a forum for people looking to learn about Objectivism by banning you out of existence.  However, bless my kind heart, I will instead ask you in public to be honorable and cease making posts that assert "facts" about Objectivism instead of questions about Objectivism.  Questions, my friend, no more assertions.

Fair enough, Felipe.

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However, bless my kind heart, I will instead ask you in public to be honorable and cease making posts that assert "facts" about Objectivism instead of questions about Objectivism.  Questions, my friend, no more assertions.

This fellow repeatedly constructs what he claims is the Objectivist position on the axioms (among other things) and then proceeds to "refute" the argument. However, it appears to me that he completely misunderstands the Objectivist position; it's certainly nothing like my understanding of it. His "refutation" amounts to a critique of a position of his own making - it's not the Objectivist position by a long-shot. But, despite our protestations to the contrary, he keeps right on stumbling along insisting that his construction represents Objectivism, which he goes on quickly to claim suffers from various flaws.

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I'd like to hear people's thoughts on this statement. In your replies, please be very clear as to your definition of "faith" and "reason."

"Faith", from indoeuropean "bheidh-" meaning: to persuade, compel, confide

"Reason" from indoeuropean "ar-" meaning: to fit together

Do YOU see any "conflict" here?

-Iakeo :D

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In a recent discussion with my sister-in-law, I was stumped. I said that Faith is the antithesis of Reason. She said, "No. They are not mutually exclusive. It is through reason that I have arrived upon my faith. I therefore believe that my faith is reasonable." But I think that faith is belief in the unknown. And if it is unknown, it is not knowledge. Therefor - how can it be reasonable? Your thoughts?

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In a recent discussion with my sister-in-law, I was stumped. I said that Faith is the antithesis of Reason. She said, "No. They are not mutually exclusive. It is through reason that I have arrived upon my faith. I therefore believe that my faith is reasonable." But I think that faith is belief in the unknown. And if it is unknown, it is not knowledge. Therefor - how can it be reasonable? Your thoughts?

Short answer: absolutely not. Faith is defined not as a belief specifically in the "unknown," but rather a belief that has no basis in fact. If she's saying that her faith is based on reasoning, then I can tell you without any doubts that her reasoning is flawed.

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In a recent discussion with my sister-in-law, I was stumped. I said that Faith is the antithesis of Reason. She said, "No. They are not mutually exclusive. It is through reason that I have arrived upon my faith. I therefore believe that my faith is reasonable." But I think that faith is belief in the unknown. And if it is unknown, it is not knowledge. Therefor - how can it be reasonable? Your thoughts?

I think that your sister is defining "faith" as the belief in her version of what god is, when in fact faith is the belief in something for no reason. There is an example of this in the New Testament, where Jesus, having recently risen from the dead, appears before (doubting) Thomas and he is finally convinced of the truth of the resurrection because he has seen it with his own eyes. Jesus goes on to say, in effect, that those who believe without having seen (ie. without reason) are superior to those who believe because they have seen (ie use reason).

This example illustrates the difference between reason and faith very well and shows how faith and reason are mutually exclusive. The very definition of "faith" excludes reason. If god were to appear in front of me, I would have no need of faith - I would have evidence.

(Edited to use the BBCODE around the quotation. - softwareNerd)

Edited by softwareNerd

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Colin,

No, Jesus does not mean that those who don't use reason are superior. Thomas Aquinas used reason superbly, and is highly regarded by orthodox Christians. In the example you cite, Thomas is being chastised precisely for not using reason: if people who are familiar to you as credible friends, and who have no reason to lie to you tell you something, then it is reasonable to trust them. Since Thomas has by now seen people healed and even raised from the dead, it doesn't seem that outlandish to put faith (trust) in his friends.

Faith and reason are not mutually exclusive. They are simply two different, but complementary, ways of knowing. Reason itself is based on faith: the only way logic can be shown to be logical is to use logic. This is a tautology, and one cannot use something to prove itself. Since I have "faith" in logic and reason, I don't have a problem. But those who contend that faith and reason are mutualy exclusive do, because their belief in reason and logic rests on faith---it is illogical otherwise. Dittos for the scientific method: the only way to test the scientific method is to use the scientific method---a tautology. I acknowledge that I have faith in the scientific method---those who disparage the idea of faith are the ones with a problem.

Edited by redtail

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Reason itself is based on faith: the only way logic can be shown to be logical is to use logic.

Actually, logic can be shown to be logical (in other words consistant) by showing how it is based in reality and does not contradict reality.

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No, Jesus does not mean that those who don't use reason are superior. Thomas Aquinas used reason superbly, and is highly regarded by orthodox Christians. In the example you cite, Thomas is being chastised precisely for not using reason: if people who are familiar to you as credible friends, and who have no reason to lie to you tell you something, then it is reasonable to trust them
It is not reasonable to believe anyone who tells you something that is unreasonable (eg. I will rise from the dead). Thomas is not being chastised for not using reason. He is being told that those who believe in the resurrection without any evidence that it occurred (ie. by faith), are more "blessed" than he who believes only because he has seen the evidence.

Reason itself is based on faith

This is wrong. Faith is belief without a reason to believe. If the belief is derived through reason, then there is no need for faith. Reason is not based on faith, it is based on the fact that reality is real and that men are capable of perceiving that which is real. If that is not possible, and if logic is invalid, then there is no point in discussing the issue.

If you have a different definition of "faith" than the one that I am using, then you should present it.

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The important thing to remember is that Objectivism relies on self-evident axioms at the base of all knowledge. These axioms (existence, consciousness and identity) are not taken on faith but they do not require any proof -- they are self-evident. Faith as dictionary.com defines it, is:

Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence
Proof applies to some knowledge and but not to all knowledge. Presumably we're all typing our responses on a computer. The presence of the keyboard on which we are typing our response does not require proof and at the same time I'm not taking that presence on faith. It is simply a self evident fact -- our perception is all the material evidence we need. Similarly the fact that I am aware of typing the present message is not a matter of faith. It is also axiomatic. Issues of proof arise in more complicated propositions and theories. Logic depends on the law of identity which is a self evident fact. It is true that logic cannot be proven since proof assumes logic. However, the basic axiom of logic, the law of non-contradiction, is simply an epistemological reformulation of the law of identity which is one of the basic axioms of existence. Logical reasoning corresponds to the actual nature of reality and there is no faith involved.

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