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Universe, Existence, Nature

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"The universe is the total of that which exists" - Leonard Peikoff

"Nature is existence—the sum of that which is." - Leonard Peikoff

Existence is the sum of all existents.

Are they synonymous? And in what context do I use each of them?

Edited by The Individual
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"The universe is the total of that which exists" - Leonard Peikoff

"Nature is existence—the sum of that which is." - Leonard Peikoff

Existence is the sum of all existents.

Are they synonymous? And in what context do I use each of them?

They are synonyms. Rand discusses it in ITOE. I can get you the quote later if you want.

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"The universe is the total of that which exists" - Leonard Peikoff

"Nature is existence—the sum of that which is." - Leonard Peikoff

Existence is the sum of all existents.

Are they synonymous? And in what context do I use each of them?

And although few people today believe that the singing of mystic incantations will bring rain, most people still regard as valid an argument such as: "If there is no God, who created the universe?"

To grasp the axiom that existence exists, means to grasp the fact that nature, i.e., the universe as a whole, cannot be created or annihilated, that it cannot come into or go out of existence.

This is an example of where Miss Rand uses the three terms in close proximity to one another.

*Universe

Synonyms:

noun: cosmos, world, macrocosm, space, creation

The universe would typically be used when looking out and referencing the sun, moon, planets, stars, galaxies and solar systems building up to universe as the entirety of everything.

*Nature

Synonyms:

noun: character, kind, temper, disposition, sort, mettle, temperament, quality

Nature may be more of the context of identity - the nature of things, or nature as in the non-man made, usually the immediate perceptual level such as trees, grass, flowers, rocks, sun, moon, stars . . .

*Existence

Synonyms:

noun: being, life, subsistence, living, entity, presence

Existence is more ontological - or dealing with 'beingness'.

An etymologist would probably do more justice to them. This is based on my exposure to the usage of the terms over the years.

*google dictionary

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Heres one:

"Existence" vs. "Existent"

Prof. B: What is the relationship between the concepts "existence" and "existent"? Is it that the concept "existent" is a term which applies a concept to a particular or designates the particular as a unit under the concept?

AR: That's right. Because the concept "existence," at least the way I use it, is in a certain way close to the concept "universe"—all that which exists.

Prof. B: "Existence" is a collective noun almost.

AR: That's right. An existent is, then, a particular which exists.

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"The universe is the total of that which exists" - Leonard Peikoff

"Nature is existence—the sum of that which is." - Leonard Peikoff

Existence is the sum of all existents.

Are they synonymous? And in what context do I use each of them?

"Universe" has a very specific meaning in the sciences. I strongly suggest you avoid it. As an alternative, I propose "totality".

"Nature" has to do with the sum of everything as a system of interconnected parts.

"Existence and identity are not attributes of existents, they are the existents . . . . The units of the concepts “existence” and “identity” are every entity, attribute, action, event or phenomenon (including consciousness) that exists, has ever existed or will ever exist."

~Ayn Rand, ITOE 74

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"Universe" has a very specific meaning in the sciences. I strongly suggest you avoid it. As an alternative, I propose "totality".

"Nature" has to do with the sum of everything as a system of interconnected parts.

"Existence and identity are not attributes of existents, they are the existents . . . . The units of the concepts “existence” and “identity” are every entity, attribute, action, event or phenomenon (including consciousness) that exists, has ever existed or will ever exist."

~Ayn Rand, ITOE 74

Philosophy is a science. I think speaking in accordance with ones own epistemic context is a good idea.

Edited by Plasmatic
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“Existence is the widest of all concepts .It subsumes everything-every entity, action, attribute, relationship (including every state of consciousness)-every thing which is, was, or will be. The concept does not specify that a physical word exist.”(Peikoff .Objectivism pb5)

Basically this concept comes to describe fundamental fact that something exists as opposed to nothing. By “universe” we usually mean the physical world, the total sum of entities. Existence is the subject-matter of metaphysics. Universe is the subject-matter of cosmology and physics. The Crab Nebula is part of the universe (and existence) but it would be awkward and not very appropriate to describe philosophy or individual rights as part of the universe. A definition of the universe as a collective designation of all entities has another corollary – this concept describes only known entities. Existence, however, describes any entity, already discovered or waiting to be discovered .Existence, therefore, is a much broader concept than the universe. The implication of this conclusion is that one cannot always ascribe properties of existence to the universe. Existence exists and this is an axiom. But the existence of the universe as a collection of known entities is not axiomatic. (To talk about the universe as a collection of unknown entities would be contradictory-one cannot discuss an unknown universe). We have no knowledge of the whole universe, not even a significant part of it. For example, we have only recently discovered that 95% of the universe’s mass is made up of the dark matter. So in actual fact we only know about 5% of what constitutes the universe.

To know the universe means to know what entities constitute it and by which laws they interact. This is the realm of physics which studies known describable universe. Existence however includes everything which is exists including unknown. Therefore universal laws which describe interaction of entities in the universe are not always applicable to existence. For example it would be inappropriate to say that existence is expanding (like universe). The only thing one can say about the laws of existence is that they should fulfill the criteria of non-contradictory identification.

Edited by Leonid
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The implication of this conclusion is that one cannot always ascribe properties of existence to the universe.

Leonid,

Can you supply even *one* property of existence, other than the uninteresting observation that it is a property of everything else?

This is a question I have mulled on a long time. :lol: I still don't have an answer.

HS

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Existence is Identity. The two are inseperable. Identity is an intrinsic property of existence.

According to Objectivism, identity is not a property of existence. Identity is a corollary concept of existence. It is a grasp of existents in a manner that illustrates "this thing" is different from "that thing".

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According to Objectivism, identity is not a property of existence. Identity is a corollary concept of existence. It is a grasp of existents in a manner that illustrates "this thing" is different from "that thing".

Ayn Rand offers a new formulation of this axiom: existence is identity.
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So existence and identity are intechangeable terms? Synonyms?

Prof. B: What is the relationship between the concepts "existence" and "existent"? Is it that the concept "existent" is a term which applies a concept to a particular or designates the particular as a unit under the concept?

AR: That's right. Because the concept "existence," at least the way I use it, is in a certain way close to the concept "universe"—all that which exists.

Prof. B: "Existence" is a collective noun almost.

AR: That's right. An existent is, then, a particular which exists.

So if existence is all that which exists, and if existence and identity are synonymous then identity is all that which exists?

Hmmm.

(Sorry if I'm being thick. For one thing, I'm kind of new to this. For another, I write software so I am in the habit of trying to nail down what each "thing" really is. Assuming a bad definition is correct, can be a hugely costly mistake.)

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So existence and identity are intechangeable terms? Synonyms?

So if existence is all that which exists, and if existence and identity are synonymous then identity is all that which exists?

Hmmm.

(Sorry if I'm being thick. For one thing, I'm kind of new to this. For another, I write software so I am in the habit of trying to nail down what each "thing" really is. Assuming a bad definition is correct, can be a hugely costly mistake.)

No, not interchangeable, but the two concepts are indivisble, meaning that if something exists, it exists as something (identity). The implicit concept identity differentiates not existence vs. non existence, but existence as this vs. existence as that.

j..

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According to Objectivism, identity is not a property of existence.

This is correct.

I find it interesting that the word "nature" can mean "existence", or "identity", when talking about causality. As in, a thing "acting in accordance with its nature", i.e. identity.

j..

Edited by JayR
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Leonid,

Can you supply even *one* property of existence, other than the uninteresting observation that it is a property of everything else?

This is a question I have mulled on a long time. :) I still don't have an answer.

HS

Sure.

1. Existence exists independently from consciousness. It's objective reality.

2. Existence is axiomatic, that is-it doesn't require proof, but all proofs depend on it.

3. Existence has identity which defines its boundaries. It's not infinite or unlimited.

4. Existence cannot be created or transcended. Nothing exists beyond existence, nothing is supernatural.

5. Existence acts in accordance to its identity. For example it cannot suddenly disappear, become non-existence

6. Existence is not a property of everything else. On the contrary, everything else possesses some properties of existence (not all of them) which I listed above.

Edited by Leonid
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So existence and identity are intechangeable terms? Synonyms?

So if existence is all that which exists, and if existence and identity are synonymous then identity is all that which exists?

Hmmm.

(Sorry if I'm being thick. For one thing, I'm kind of new to this. For another, I write software so I am in the habit of trying to nail down what each "thing" really is. Assuming a bad definition is correct, can be a hugely costly mistake.)

Where did you get the implication that the two concepts are interchangeable? Look at it this way. When you wake up in the morning and open your eyes, everything (each existent) you see exists. Yet the lamp is different from the bed which is different from the door: each existent is different from another existent or, the identity of each existent is different from the identity of another existent. Each existent is particular and has its own identity whereas all existents exist. The two concepts designate different ways of looking at the same issue.

Edited by A is A
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Where did you get the implication that the two concepts are interchangeable? Look at it this way. When you wake up in the morning and open your eyes, everything (each existent) you see exists. Yet the lamp is different from the bed which is different from the door: each existent is different from another existent or, the identity of each existent is different from the identity of another existent. Each existent is particular and has its own identity whereas all existents exist. The two concepts designate different ways of looking at the same issue.

Actually I got it from the earlier quoted quote from OPAR, "Ayn Rand offers a new formulation of this axiom: existence is identity.", which seemingly was brought forward to disprove this, "... identity is not a property of existence. Identity is a corollary concept of existence. It is a grasp of existents in a manner that illustrates 'this thing' is different from 'that thing'."

At the same time there is Miss Rand's response to Prof. B., "... all that which exists."

In the former use, (the one you use for the bedroom objects), existence is the property of existing as an entity distinguishable from all others. I have no difficulty with that per se, except that, as a property it is uninteresting because it applies to anything and everything.

In the latter use, existence is meant either as "a Set" with a capital S (the abstract entity Set), or as "a set" (a specific instance of Set). I'm unclear which is intended.

If I'm not wrong about these three simultaneous uses (property vs Set vs set) then we have a case of the Equivocation Fallacy. I'm open to being wrong. I just don't see where I am. Can anyone clarify this for me?

(Sorry about dropping out of the discussion for so long. Pressures of work and all that ...)

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Actually I got it from the earlier quoted quote from OPAR, "Ayn Rand offers a new formulation of this axiom: existence is identity.", which seemingly was brought forward to disprove this, "... identity is not a property of existence. Identity is a corollary concept of existence. It is a grasp of existents in a manner that illustrates 'this thing' is different from 'that thing'."

At the same time there is Miss Rand's response to Prof. B., "... all that which exists."

In the former use, (the one you use for the bedroom objects), existence is the property of existing as an entity distinguishable from all others. I have no difficulty with that per se, except that, as a property it is uninteresting because it applies to anything and everything.

Let's be clear about what 'property' means. Property is "a quality or trait belonging and especially peculiar to an individual or thing" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/property). "Existence" is a conceptual identification of a primary fact about each and every thing. The existence of a rock is not a property of the rock. To hold existence as a property is to hold property as a wider concept than existence. Property is an attribute of a thing that exists.

In the latter use, existence is meant either as "a Set" with a capital S (the abstract entity Set), or as "a set" (a specific instance of Set). I'm unclear which is intended.

If I'm not wrong about these three simultaneous uses (property vs Set vs set) then we have a case of the Equivocation Fallacy. I'm open to being wrong. I just don't see where I am. Can anyone clarify this for me?

(Sorry about dropping out of the discussion for so long. Pressures of work and all that ...)

The formulation "existence is identity" does not in any way refute or conflict with existence is "all that which exists." Why would you think so?

Edited by A is A
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1. Existence exists independently from consciousness. It's objective reality.
My keyboard exists independantly from my curling iron. Is that a property of my keyboard? Independant existence of one thing from another is an extrinsic property of all things and hence says nothing about each thing itself.

So I don't think we can count that one.

2. Existence is axiomatic, that is-it doesn't require proof, but all proofs depend on it.
This is interesting!

The *term* "Existence exists" is axiomatic within a logical framework. Unless you want to argue that a thing can be an axiom, Existence itself, the thing out there in (or should I say -- as -- ?) objective reality, is not an axiom.

On the other hand, if you do want to argue that it's an axiom then you prove my point because *axioms have no properties*!

So I don't think we can count that one.

3. Existence has identity which defines its boundaries. It's not infinite or unlimited.
All things that exist have identity, identity is not a real property since it provides no defining characteristic that sets one thing apart from another.

So I don't think we can count that one.

4. Existence cannot be created or transcended. Nothing exists beyond existence, nothing is supernatural.
My keyboard's hair cannot be curled! This again is an extrinsic property, since the list of things that cannot be done to things is infinite.

So I don't think we can count that one.

5. Existence acts in accordance to its identity. For example it cannot suddenly disappear, become non-existence
Out of all the things that exist, can you name even one that acts *out* of accordance with its identity? Acting in accordance with one's identity is, again, a property shared by all things, so it is not a real property.

So I don't think we can count that one.

6. Existence is not a property of everything else. On the contrary, everything else possesses some properties of existence (not all of them) which I listed above.
Curly hair is not a property of my keyboard. Not being a property of something else is a shared property of everything else.

So I don't think we can count any of those, and I am back where I started. I know of no properties of Existence.

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Let's be clear about what 'property' means. Property is "a quality or trait belonging and especially peculiar to an individual or thing" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/property). "Existence" is a conceptual identification of a primary fact about each and every thing. The existence of a rock is not a property of the rock. To hold existence as a property is to hold property as a wider concept than existence. Property is an attribute of a thing that exists.
Nicely said. I concur.
The formulation "existence is identity" does not in any way refute or conflict with existence is "all that which exists." Why would you think so?
Because...

Aristotle's existence was for a few decades. After that, he ceased to exist (granted his works live on).

Meanwhile Existence, as the great 'macro-container' "all that which exists." is timeless and in no way contingent on Aristotle's (or yours or my) identity or existence.

They are two entirely distinct things. It is not legitimate to coagment the two.

I agree with, "existence is identity". I do not agree with "Existence is identity"

In fact if you are arguing that Existence will cease when your personal existence ceases then you are arguing pure subjectivism.

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Let's be clear about what 'property' means. Property is "a quality or trait belonging and especially peculiar to an individual or thing" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/property). "Existence" is a conceptual identification of a primary fact about each and every thing. The existence of a rock is not a property of the rock. To hold existence as a property is to hold property as a wider concept than existence. Property is an attribute of a thing that exists.
Now I notice your capital E on Existence.

It is very important to distinguish the abstract concept Existence (in your meaning here) from a specific instance of it. By this I mean, the concept Existence is to Aristotle's existence as the concept Keyboard is to this one I'm typing on with a smudge of coffee on the F11 key.

Unfortunately, the meaning of that Existence with a capital E is entirely distinct from the meaning of the Existence with a capital E, that is the great macro-container of everything.

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Now I notice your capital E on Existence.

It is very important to distinguish the abstract concept Existence (in your meaning here) from a specific instance of it. By this I mean, the concept Existence is to Aristotle's existence as the concept Keyboard is to this one I'm typing on with a smudge of coffee on the F11 key.

Unfortunately, the meaning of that Existence with a capital E is entirely distinct from the meaning of the Existence with a capital E, that is the great macro-container of everything.

Have no idea as to your meaning. "E"xistence begins a sentence, so it is capitalized. Existence is not a container. No stolen concepts please. A specific instance of existence? As opposed to non-existence? How do you qualify existence with "that" or "the"? What are you talking about here?

If you want to distinguish Aristotle's meaning of the term from Objectivism's meaning, then perhaps you should start be stating what you see each means and what you see the difference to be. I don't see how you would expect your argument to be meaningful to the issues I'm addressing if you're using different meanings.

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