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Notes on "The Unity in Epistemology and Ethics"


Grames
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Notes on "Unity in Ethics and Epistemology" Lecture 1

Not a transcript. These notes paraphrase the speaker's points and are not accurate quotes unless in quote tags. {Curly brackets denote my comments}

What will be covered:

L1: Metaphysically everything is interconnected. Epistemologically all knowledge should be integrated.

L2: Unity considered in the hierarchical relation between history and philosophy.

L3: Some concepts require two definitions to preserve the unity of knowledge.

L4: Unity in morality; "Is morality hard or easy?", conflicts, integrity, and Rearden

Lecture #1 Knowledge as a Unity

Introduction

There are 2 essential processes in thought: analysis/differentiation and synthesis/integration.

Differentiation results in a multiplicity (at least two), it provides the material for integration, it seems the easier of the two (animals can do it).

Integration seems harder, results in a unity but presupposes a multiplicity. Integration into concepts is distinctively human.

Thought moves from unity to unity, progressing from the concrete to the more abstract. The scope of philosophic metaphysical integrations encompasses the whole universe.

Ancients Greeks were the first civilization to set out to find unity by seeking "the one in the many". They are the source of the quest in both metaphysics and epistemology.

Thales vs. Anaxagoras is the first expression of monism vs. pluralism.

Thales: "Everything is water."

Anaxagoras: "Everything is unique."

Monism is construed broadly, the reduction of the many things that exist to the four elements of earth, fire, air, and water counts as a type of Monism because it is still a reduction from the vast diversity of particulars that is perceived. Monism need not be restricted to literally one.

Thales was the inspiration for all science and philosophy to look for unity in physics and metaphysics.

Socrates was the first seeker of unity in epistemology. Each Socratic dialogue examines many examples and definitions of a single concept in order to find the one in the many. The type of inquiry leads to "the problem of universals", the problem of identifying just what was the common element of a concept.

Aristotle took this as far as it ever went, abstracting from abstractions until he reached basic categories he called genera (entity, action, quality, relation, ... ) This is the same ambition in thought as the natural philosophers had for matter. The Law of Identity is the climax of the Greek attempt to find the one in the many.

The false dichotomy of 'The One' vs. 'The Many'

A. Rationalism

What is it? Unity or Oneness is the ultimate reality, the appearance of many are illusory, derivative, or unknowable.

Who is referred to? Famous Rationalists such as Augustine, Plotinus, Plato, Hegel, Spinoza.

By asserting that the "one in the many" is mystical, they pit unity against identity.

Methodological summary: Integration without differentiation.

B. Empiricism

What is it? The many are irreducible and real, the One or Unity is a human construct or unknowable.

Who is referred to? The ancient skeptics and nominalists, Hume, Russel, the whole 20th century British-American tradition of positivist, analyst, logical atomism.

Analysis is willful repudiation of integration, conceived as a rebellion against Rationalism and system building.

Methodological summary: Systematic technical nitpicking; Differentiation without integration.

C. Objectivism

Objectivism has similarity to the Rationalists in the stress on the One. Metaphysically everything is interconnected, epistemologically everything must be integrated.

Objectivism is opposed to the Rationalists in being non-mystical; particulars are real, individualism holds in politics.

Objectivity is the key to understanding how the many particulars can be the true reality and yet an underlying unity still be comprehended. Integration is a requirement of human epistemology, it is a human process and human creation motivated by the crow. {the principle of unit-economy} There is objective unity that we create by following the facts of reality. The parts are real and remain real after mental processing, but the unity achieved is not subjective because the processing is based on the relationships between what exists in reality.

Unity will be used in this course as another angle to distinguish between Intrinsicism/Subjectivism/Objectivism.

Unity in Metaphysics

The relational nature of knowledge derives from two roots, one pertaining to the nature of existence, the other, to the nature of consciousness.

Metaphysically, there is only one universe. This means that everything in reality is interconnected.(13) Every entity is related in some way to the others; each somehow affects and is affected by the others. Nothing is a completely isolated fact, without causes or effects; no aspect of the total can exist ultimately apart from the total. Knowledge, therefore, which seeks to grasp reality, must also be a total; its elements must be interconnected to form a unified whole reflecting the whole which is the universe.

Causality is the metaphysical connection and universal interaction. There is a physical interconnection not a mystical interconnection.

An alternative would be two universes separated by a void. How do you know that is not the way it is? The concept of a void makes no sense.

Parmenides: "What is, is. What is not, is not. What is not can neither be nor thought about." Nothing is not a type of something, leading to the principle that the universe is a plenum, solidly packed.

Unity in Epistemology

Knowledge is inherently relational.

Your ideal as a thinker is to keep the universe with you at all times. Whatever you are thinking about it has enough links to the rest of what you know that the whole context is there at all times. Ayn Rand exemplified this. She integrated sex and economics (in Atlas Shrugged), liberals and conservatives, rationalism and empiricism, mind and body. LP always felt she was on a mountaintop gazing down at the whole, and that he had to tilt his head back to take in what she saw. She literally lived in a universe, the totality was real to her. When she greeted you by asking "How is your universe?" that was not an affectation. Broad philosophic abstractions were real to her, her perspective on the whole was there constantly because of her continuous integrations.

To grasp any item of knowledge fully implies the total of human knowledge.

"The plane from Los Angeles will be two hours late."

It is inadequate to expand the words of the sentence into the definitions for planes, time, clocks, maps, weather. A full grasp refers to the context required to grasp the statement, and what prior context was necessary to grasp that context, and so on all the way back. The contexts referred to are not your personal contexts held in your particular mind, the perspective adopted here is to regard the sum of human knowledge as an entity. Any one advanced item of knowledge which is the product of division of labor and specialization is part of the total fabric of knowledge and makes the next step possible even if you don't know it yourself or even who grasped it initially.

{Linking context to context is how knowledge progresses inductively, one conceptual framework leads to the next. This differs from linking concept to concept in reduction.}

Nobody can be a universal scholar and know everything personally, it is sufficient to grasp the categories of knowledge implied in a vast hierarchy stretching across many centuries. Aristotle was the last to know everything, Dante called him "the master of them who know." The totality of human knowledge is the context that makes any particular principle knowable. Every part of that totality was discovered and known by somebody but no one has ever known all of it or even most of it.

"The plane will be two hours late." Any starting point is as good as another, just plunge in.

How did we learn it? Perhaps telephoned the airline, and they looked it up on their computer. Who put the status into the computer and where did they get it? There must be some way to contact the plane. The pilot knows where he is because of his instruments. So far we have come across telephones, businesses, computers, scheduling, radios, airspeed indicators, altimeters, barometers, compasses, maps, navigation. Below all that is the manufacturing that made it all possible, and beyond that the scientific principles of metallurgy, gases, chemistry, electricity. Beyond that, the basic principles of the production of food, clothing and shelter that made it possible for people to survive while they figured all that out; agriculture, hunting, basket making, stone axes. That people prefer to fly than spend days or weeks traveling, and that planes are equipped with distractions such as movies and music are results of knowledge of the psychological nature of man. Tools are part of the hierarchy; printing presses, telescopes, microscopes, the wheel.

Mathematical physics was only invented in the late Renaissance. Men were looking for numbers in things because of the influence of Pythagoras and by measuring they found the numbers. Bacon's maxim "Knowledge is power" would be alien to the Greeks.

The opposite of this process is compartmentalization. It is an occupational hazard of a professional intellectual because you have to slow down cognition artificially. Everything comes at you all at once and you have to break it up into questions, subdivisions, topics, subjects. Focusing on a topic or subject for study and abstraction requires dropping the nonessential, but the danger of that is making what has been separated in the mind into something separate in reality. Reification is a tremendous temptation to rationalists. What a rationalist does is to detach a little square of reality, find a few self-evidencies within that square then deduce from them as a kind of floating chess game. Reality is not comprised of a series of units that have nothing to do with each other. Taking your form of knowledge and ascribing it to reality is primacy of consciousness.

When Ayn Rand would say "It's all one, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics: you can't separate them." LP used to find that very threatening, it is disorienting if there is no way to stop to separate anything out or concentrate. The way to cope with an unmanageable sprawl is to cut off the little slice beneath your nose and forget the rest. The result of that process is (in writing The Ominous Parallels) is a chapter on the metaphysics of Hitler and then a chapter on the epistemology of Hitler, and if Ayn Rand says the two are connected then the next chapter is on the connection. The problem is the presentation is so skewed the connection becomes a compartment, not really a connection.

You can separate but you must then reintegrate. A helpful but deliberately paradoxical and shocking formulation is:

"There are no branches of knowledge. There are no subjects. There is only cognition. No field is independent of any other field."

Subjects are abstracted for study just as attributes are abstracted from an entity for study. Subjects are just our way of focusing on some attributes of the total of cognition. Philosophy as the "love of wisdom" once included everybody who knew anything and one by one the separate subjects set up shop. Properly they should remember to stay connected to each other and to philosophy in order to remain part of one knowledge reflecting one universe.

Any subject can be isolated for study but the study is not complete until the new knowledge is reintegrated into the totality of what you know. Obliterate disconnections, not distinctions.

Q: Is the idea of entities strictly epistemological, the product of the human perspective of perceiving and thinking about a universe in which there is not many things but only one thing?

A: That is physics not philosophy. Can't say yes or no. If it were true the universe still manifests as many things, dividing into perceivers and objects as we perceive them. See OPAR for the passage on "energy-puffs".

Q: Even the work within a separated square ought to involve interrelating to things outside the square.

A; Agree. It should not be neat but messy to break up reality into parts. There should always be things pushing to be thought about and reconnected. {shortened answer}

Q: Not every discrete datum of human knowledge is necessarily implicit in "the plane is two hours late". For example that "there is a Mrs. Jones in Omaha."

A: Agree. We are dealing with knowledge at the level of principles, not concretes. Spinoza thought that when you reached the insight into the One you would grasp in one synoptic insight not only all of the principles of the universe but literally the details of every single concrete. It would be literal omniscience. Plato had the same idea. Since neither of them had the principle of measurement-omission the problem of what happens to the measurements could only be resolved mystically. (Either "you learn them all" or "you transcend them all".)

Q: Please clarify: "All that makes a fact possible is required in order to grasp that fact."

A; No, 'possible' is metaphysical. Correct would be "All that makes a fact knowable is required to grasp it."

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Hey Grames,

Thank you for the notes, very interesting. I have some questions, though, if you do not mind.

Under the premise that this is a fair presentation of what Peikoff actually says then I have some issues that needs to be clarified.

I understand that reality is one and that our knowledge therefore has to be one if it is to be objective, i.e., correspond to reality. I can therefore see the value and necessity of integration.

However, you say that: "To grasp any item of knowledge fully implies the total of human knowledge." Later you add: "The totality of human knowledge is the context that makes any particular principle knowable." This SOUNDS like he, Peikoff, is saying that to know anything "fully" we have to know everything. But I doubt this is what he means because this SOUNDS like the coherence theory of knowledge and the idea that to know anything "fully" we have to be virtually omniscient. (Peikoff also seems to deal with this possible misinterpretation in the Q&A.)

He does make one important distinction that I guess is suppose to preempt any such possible misinterpretation:

"Nobody can be a universal scholar and know everything personally, it is sufficient to grasp the categories of knowledge implied in a vast hierarchy stretching across many centuries." And: "The totality of human knowledge is the context that makes any particular principle knowable. Every part of that totality was discovered and known by somebody but no one has ever known all of it or even most of it."

So while I do not have to know everything myself I nevertheless has to know what _categories_ of knowledge that made possible any item of knowledge. Example: I personally do not have to know much about biology or evolution or human anatomy to know that modern medicine can cure me. But someone had to know about it for modern medicine to be possible. And I have to know that these fields exist and what they deal with in principle to ("fully") grasp why modern medicine works. Is this correct?

If this is correct, then I think I might see what he is getting at. But even so, I have another problem. My problem is his particular example: "The plane will be two hours late."

The problem is that I simply I cannot see why I have to know all the things he mention to grasp that "the plane from LA will be two hours late." I can see why we need to know some of it, but not all of it. I am not saying Peikoff is wrong, I am only saying I have a hard time seeing why I have to know, for instance, anything about food production. Why is this necessary to "fully" grasp that the plane is two hours late?

I think I have a lead however. Earlier you said something that probably is essential to understand his example with the plane from LA. You said: "Any one advanced item of knowledge which is the product of division of labor and specialization is part of the total fabric of knowledge and makes the next step possible even if you don't know it yourself or even who grasped it initially."

So for there to be planes, computers, telephones and all the other things Peikoff mentioned, we do not only have to know all the things he mention, but the things he mention must be there for the plane, computers, telephones, etc to be invented in the first place. Because if, for instance, people did not have the knowledge to produce enough food then there would not be any advance division of labor, and without that there would be no specialized thought or production, and without that there would be no way for man to to eventually invent things like planes, computers, telephones, etc. So Peikoff is not saying that I _personally_, who telephoned the airline, have to know how a telephone work or the science of physics. But this type of knowledge still had to be there for it all to be possible one day. Personally I "only" have to know that these fields of knowledge exist and what they in principle are about in order for me to integrate my knowledge properly.

Is this what Peikoff is saying? If not, could you, Grames, then perhaps clarify?

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Is this what Peikoff is saying? If not, could you, Grames, then perhaps clarify?

You got it.

In making the case that all knowledge actually is interrelated (not merely that it should be) and that it is so because there is one interconnected universe, he cannot rely on any particular individual's knowledge because they undeniably do have gaps. So he makes the case in terms of the causal interconnections that lead to knowledge, paralleling the causal interconnections that exist metaphysically. The causal links within knowledge include the inductive and deductive causes of knowledge and actual causality applied to physical knowers, the people who create knowledge and possess it have their own sets of causes such as their bodily and psychological necessities, their historical and cultural contexts and their volitional acts in originating new ideas. It it true without exception that there is no uncaused knowledge.

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You got it.

In making the case that all knowledge actually is interrelated (not merely that it should be) and that it is so because there is one interconnected universe, he cannot rely on any particular individual's knowledge because they undeniably do have gaps. So he makes the case in terms of the causal interconnections that lead to knowledge, paralleling the causal interconnections that exist metaphysically. The causal links within knowledge include the inductive and deductive causes of knowledge and actual causality applied to physical knowers, the people who create knowledge and possess it have their own sets of causes such as their bodily and psychological necessities, their historical and cultural contexts and their volitional acts in originating new ideas. It it true without exception that there is no uncaused knowledge.

Thank you very much. That did clarify things for me!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Notes on "Unity in Ethics and Epistemology" Lecture 2

Not a transcript. These notes paraphrase the speaker's points and are not accurate quotes unless in quote tags. {Curly brackets denote my comments}

Lecture #2 Unity between Philosophy and History

Which of these two subjects comes first? A case can be made in either direction.

Philosophy --> History

Hierarchically, philosophy makes all knowledge possible. Without the grasp of the idea that we live in a stable, causal universe, a natural universe in which laws obtain, it would be useless to study any aspect of reality including the past. There is a prerequisite metaphysics. Some awareness of the issues of method in thought, that error and falsity are possible, that objectivity is necessary etc..; that is the prerequisite epistemology. Even in ethics the pursuit of secular knowledge must be motivated by some value; and in politics there must be some degree of freedom in order to pursue knowledge.

History --> Philosophy

Where did the philosophical ideas come from? Some axioms are self-evident and other points are implicit but no philosophical system is self-evident. Philosophy consists of much more than just the axioms. Ayn Rand got Objectivism from {ultimately} reality, that is the only place it could come from. But she did not study the stars or the tides, philosophy (apart from some early metaphysical axioms) is essentially the study of man from the normative perspective. Ayn Rand held that one could not study man except by studying men throughout history.

Nietzsche (paraphrase) wrote that it is not possible to discover the nature of man by simply abstracting from the nature of the men around you because you could not distinguish between what is the nature of man and what is the pervasive mood of an period. Example: Looking around today would lead to the conclusion that man is anti-intellectual, amoral or a religious nut, and in every country including America is essentially statist. The 'irresistible' conclusion can only be resisted by examining history and finding an era that was pro-reason and pro-individualism (ancient Greece and the Enlightenment era).

History is the great laboratory of philosophy. Consider the question "can man combine reason and religion?" Aquinas's reintroduction of Aristotle to western civilization resulted in the secular elements that exist today, but is the current trend back toward religion proof that the combination is unstable? It is insufficient to have a theoretical technical argument, you must examine instances when that was attempted. Simply deducing from the definitions of reason and religion is rationalism.

Ayn Rand majored in history in college. LP asked her why she did that when she was always concerned with what man ought to be. She answered "How am I supposed to discover what they ought to be?"

History is not just the illustration of known a priori philosophic principles but is the inductive source and ultimate validation of those principles.

Spiral theory of knowledge.

The question of "which came first, history or philosophy?" is not a paradox but is resolved by the spiral theory of knowledge. Certain essential parts of philosophy must be grasped at the outset implicitly. That implicit knowledge combined with observation and reasoning makes possible progress in special fields such as mathematics, astronomy, geometry until there is enough raw material to use to discover and make explicit what was formerly implicit. (This is what Aristotle did to the pre-Socratics.) Explicit knowledge of identity and non-contradiction make it possible develop the earlier knowledge more fully, enabling further integrations which break open new territory. The question "which comes first?" has no answer, knowledge develops simultaneously in science and philosophy. The spiral theory of knowledge with its inter-penetrating subject areas is the opposite of compartmentalized subjects, but it is the approach consistent with the unity of knowledge.

Examples of the Spiral theory of Knowledge

I. Politics (off-handedly described as "the simplest branch of philosophy")

How does one learn or validate the Objectivist politics? "Read Atlas Shrugged" or "Read Adam Smith" are not acceptable answers, where did they get their ideas?

Two ways you can't learn it: Rationalism and Empiricism.

Rationalist approach would be a series of deductions:

Man survives by reason

Reason is the opposite of force

Force is the monopoly of the government.

Therefore government is the enemy of reason and survival.

Therefore government must not use force against man.

With no context and no facts the conclusion cannot be interpreted objectively. The conclusion can be construed libertarian style as leading to anarchy or competing governments.

Empiricist approach would be to look around at contemporary governments and see that certain things work and certain things don't. But what is the standard for 'work' and why that standard? Why do certain things work?

Ayn Rand always acknowledged the Founding Fathers as indispensable to the Objectivist politics. Their politics and Objectivist politics are essentially the same. Ayn Rand had to essentially duplicate their approach to reach the same conclusions. The founders knew a great deal of history, as educated men of that time knew Plato and Aristotle. {and the greek and latin languages and roman historians} Plato and Aristotle were political historians and philosophers that collected and systematized a wealth of political models and their historical consequences. The taxonomy employed was based on 'who ruled' and consisted of oligarchy, monarchy, democracy, aristocracy, etc... All this knowledge plus the history of the intervening centuries was available to the Founders and was indispensable.

Medieval tyranny and the "divine right of kings" could be classified with ancient Egyptian theocracy. The principle that religion combined with the state creates tyranny could at last be seen clearly based on evidence spanning thousands of years.

The concept of "rights" goes back to the Stoics of the later Roman empire. Right was originally one's allegiance to something more important than the government, employed as a defense against government. One's right relation to God was set against the state, designating a religious area no one could violate. Locke secularized rights {In the context of England's power struggle between the Catholic Church, The Church of England, and Protestantism any principle of restraint on the state was also a restraint on whichever religion had captured the monarchy.}

The Founders wanted a system with seemingly contradictory requirements. There was to be no elite, the people had the power but democracy was ruled out. The individual was to be sovereign yet there was rule of law. The idea they came up with was that power was delegated from the people to the government, but only the power they had. The result was the uniquely American idea that gov't was the servant not the ruler.

Reaching this solution required the earlier knowledge, it required observation of the results of earlier attempts, the more sophisticated knowledge of rights, and the bold experiment. No where did the Founders have deductive certainty that their experiment would be successful. Rights were never deduced from the nature of man. All they had was a series of observations of good and bad in past gov'ts, their basic revolutionary idea, and the boldness to try the untried.

After two centuries of the system in place and records of how it work in detail a genius can look back and see that it had to work and why. At last the data are there to look back on and integrate with morality and epistemology and to fundamentally validate the system. If the Founding Fathers had not preceded Ayn Rand, if there was mercantilism but no capitalism, what would her politics have been? Could she ever have reached a conclusion of how to implement egoism in politics? How long would it have taken her? Ayn Rand herself said these questions are unanswerable. There is a limit to how many revolutions one person can make in a lifetime. Ayn Rand built on historical facts including the Founders, and they did too.

What comes first, the American system as historical fact or as philosophically valid? You can look at it either way because it is a benevolent circle. Once you know the historical facts one can give a preliminary validation of the United States' approach, and once you know that you can judge and evaluate all the historical examples. But all the historical examples were needed to get to Americanism.

Every crucial issue in philosophy is like that. If you scorn history you are simply cutting yourself off. Books and articles explaining Objectivism are just condensed synopses working off the conclusions that people got from digging into what happened historically.

II. Logic and Mathematics

Which comes first, logic or mathematics? The case that logic comes first is that the laws and methods of philosophy and specifically epistemology are necessary to think at all in any field including mathematics. The case that mathematics comes first is based on the historical inquiry into how Aristotle came to grasp logic as an explicit subject matter and method.

Aristotle did not invent logic from nothing or get it by revelation. He did not pace about the agora or the Academy collecting samples of arguments out of context. What Aristotle needed was a major organized exhibition of pure logic in detailed application from which the method could be abstracted from the subject matter. Pre-Euclidean geometry was that subject. After logic was made explicit it could be applied to more abstract mathematics such as algebra. In the Renaissance algebra was combined with natural philosophy to create mathematical physics. This in turn prompted further developments in math such as calculus. {and Ayn Rand's idea of measurement omission in concept formation presumes not just that everything has identity, but specifically that everything has measurements, the premise of mathematical physics.}

Again the pattern appears; in a sense logic precedes deduction, but large scale deduction had to precede logic. All knowledge is one, and these two movements constitute a spiral within the unity of knowledge.

III. Causality and Physics

Causality must be first because if you believed in a miraculous or random universe there would be no motive or attempt to formulate a law. You have to believe in order to find it.

Physics must be first because what other reason is there to believe in order? Order is not a deduction from the law of identity, that is impossibly rationalistic as a method of discovery. Thales implicitly invoked the principle of an orderly universe by simply asking what everything is made of. Once thinkers began looking for order they found regularities everywhere. Still, no Greeks had a grasp of causality. Even Aristotle only grasped causality as happening "always or for the most part", permitting an exception to every rule. Only after the Renaissance and mathematical physics when experimenters were stumbling over new laws left and right did causality come to be obvious. In this sense the history of physics precedes the complete validation of a major metaphysical issue.

IV. Ethics - reason is man's means of survival

Do we know that reason is man's means of survival by studying the nature of man or the history of men?

The nature of man, his identity, is logically prior to any conclusion about him.

The nature of man can only be discovered by observations of many particular men across the planet and across the centuries, then abstracting the essentials. This is induction not deduction. "Reason is man's means of survival" is a condensation of a host of data, not a stand-alone conclusion from some premises.

Man needs certain things for survival: food, clothing, shelter. In every era a certain kind of action is required: production. Hunting, agriculture, tools, improvements in tools and techniques, trade, the division of labor, the Industrial Revolution are all historical examples of productive action, requiring thought and conceptual knowledge or in a single word, reason.

Reason does not just apply to food, clothing and shelter but it is important to start there to derive the principle. {Requirements of survival are less abstract than psychological requirements.}

Negative example: Nothing follows from the definition of "survival of man qua man".

"Survival means survival as a rational being. 'Reason is man's means of survival' is just a statement of what it means to survive as a rational being so it is an analytic statement." {This is rationalism, thinking in terms of definitions. Reasoning requires thinking in terms of referents, the true meanings of concepts.}

V. Ethics - the Industrial Revolution and the Objectivist ethics.

Ayn Rand stated on many different occaisions that she could not have grasped the full role of reason in man's life or her ethics before the Industrial Revolution. Aristotle thought there were two kinds of reason: the practical and theoretical. Practical reason guided craftsmen and slaves and was the source of the principle of moderation. Theoretical reason was logic, biology, geometry, philosophy. Practical reason was related to survival but theoretical reason seemed to be useless, an innate desire ("All men desire to know"). Slaves and lower classes of men used practical reason while the aristocracy used theoretical reason. Reality seemed to validate a mind-body dichotomy.

The Industrial Revolution made perceivable that all thinking is practical, even the most abstract thinking man had ever performed was practical (calculus in engineering, astronomy in celestial navigation and tide tables). The Industrial Revolution was a mass scale demonstration that knowledge was power. Ayn Rand only had to go one step. Aristotle grasped the epistemological potency of reason, Ayn Rand grasped the metaphysical potency of reason. Grasping this entails that philosophy itself is a life-and-death practical matter. "Philosophy: Who Needs It" could not have been written by anyone else because the assumption was no one needed it. This is why Ayn Rand took bad philosophy with such urgency. Skeptics and mystics are not just dismissed as different schools, or a matter of logical error, or "they are nice guys but I don't agree with them". If broad abstractions are power, then the broadest abstractions have the greatest power.

The Future and Philosophy

What about a fully rational man who lived before the Industrial Revolution? He was born at the wrong time, didn't get the clue, and had no chance to come to the proper conclusions in philosophy. Then how do you know that in the 22nd century some new vista will enable us to understand philosophy in a new way and Objectivism will be superceded? The skeptic's version of this: "Nothing is certain until the last man dies."

The answer to this is the spiral theory of knowledge and the context that makes our knowledge certain. There is nothing to fear from additional knowledge. The skeptic version "Maybe everything you think you know is false" is refutable as arbitrary, he has got to come up with some evidence right now.

In Aristotle's "The Parts of Animals" you can see anticipations of the measurement omission principle in concept formation. It does not occur to Aristotle to develop the thought and no one reading him would come up with that theory, but if you know it already then you can see it in him. For a mind basically in contact with reality that kind of thing happens often. It will probably happen with Ayn Rand too. Philosophy is not a closed system. The principles are absolute but the context can keep expanding forever.

Q: Can a deductive recitation be used to essentialize and reprise and retain an inductive chain of reasoning?

A: Agree. Deduction has the great advantage of establishing logical connections between generalizations, establishing hierarchy. Deduction cannot be the only or primary tool for philosophizing.

Q: What is the typical Empiricist approach to ethics?

A: They tend toward subjectivism. See Hume and the "is-ought" problem, von Mises, ancient sophists. Forms include emotionalim and innatism. {nativism?} Ask Aristotle "Why do all men desire to know?" They just do. "Why pursue eudaimonia?" That is what men want.

Q: Axioms are perceptually self-evident. Is it the principle of this lecture that going from the implicit to the explicit takes a great deal (centuries sometimes) of inductive work beyond the first perceptions?

A: Absolutely. Going from implicit to explicit is a tremendous feat, especially for the broadest generalizations such as identity and causality.

Q: How does a perceptual statement such as "The leaves on that tree are green" relate to the body of human knowledge.

A: Qua percept, it is not the product of a long history of thinkers but rather is given directly. Remember, the principle that all knowledge is interrelated applies to principles.

Qua conceptual statement, you can unpack everything known in the current context about trees, color, botany, electromagnetic theory, etc. {and how those were reached, etc.}

Poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Flower in the Crannied Wall

Flower in the crannied wall,

I pluck you out of the crannies,

I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,

Little flower—but if I could understand

What you are, root and all, all in all,

I should know what God and man is.

The poem illustrates the principle of unity in knowledge.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Notes on "Unity in Ethics and Epistemology" Lecture 3

Not a transcript. These notes paraphrase the speaker's points and are not accurate quotes unless in quote tags. {Curly brackets denote my comments}

Lecture #3 The Principle of Two Definitions

LP's own principle, did not discuss it with Ayn Rand.

Thesis:

Some philosophical concepts have two definitions: one broad and one a narrower subcategory of the first. Unlike typical category-subcategory relations, the same word must be used for both senses. Use of the same word is essential for preserving the unity of knowledge.

Definitions are contextual. As knowledge expands a definition may need to be altered when it no longer is adequate to specify the referents of the concept. In general any one context has one definition and new definitions supplant the old definition. EX: Rand's example of the concept 'man' defined by a child then progressing through adulthood.

Definitions are based on objective criteria: similarities and differences {and essentials picked out by the rule of fundamentality.} Definitions of ordinary concepts (man, dog, table) do not reflect personal choices and philosophical biases (beyond specifying a method for defining). There is no such thing as the Objectivist definition of ordinary concepts, as opposed to the anti-Objectivist, pre-Objectivist, or non-Objectivist definition.

The class of concepts discussed here both do and do not include philosophic conclusions.

Value

What is the correct definition of 'value'?

Answer A1: From Galt's speech "A value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep." This refers to the goal directed actions of plants, animals and men. Under this definition even the irrational anti-life goals that people pursue such as power, prestige, or any whim qualify as values.

Answer A2: What makes something a value is not merely that someone pursues it but that it supports one's life. Proper values are pro-life.

The apparent paradox is needing to start with the broad definition which opens the door to any goal directed action whatever including destructive acts, only to reach the Objectivist standard of value which then closes the door to destructive acts.

A2 is narrower than A1. A1 is the set, A2 a subset. A2 has built into the answer the Objectivist ethical standard of value.

A1 demarcates a category of behavior that is observable and objective.

Normally later definitions supplant previous definitions but here is a case where it does not. A1 is not offered as an early or temporary definition to be cast aside when the Objectivist conclusions are reached. "A value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep." is the correct permanent definition, edited and refined over years to be deliberately broad.

It is invalid to pick one of these definitions as correct. Both serve a purpose and are permanently necessary. The first, broader definition is a condensation and integration of certain facts of reality. The second definition is an inference from the first and thus cannot replace it {without creating a stolen concept}.

The two elements necessary to validate "Life is the standard of value" are:

1) Observation and analysis of living organisms.

2) A definition of value.

Validation of "Life is the standard of value"




     
  • Observe that all living things including people are goal directed, they go after things or act to keep them. Definition A1 encapsulates this observation.
  • Observe that life alone is capable of self-generated, self-sustaining action in the face of the alternative of "to be or not to be".
  • Conclude that only life makes the concept of value possible on the obvious ground that only life has the capacity for goal directed action and only life needs goal directed action to avoid annihilation.
  • Conclude that the only standard of value consistent with what makes values possible is life {particular individual life, not Life; but egoism is another subject}

The 'Unity' angle

Both definitions are essential to preserve the unity of knowledge. Discarding A1 would discard the observational base that relates value to reality, turning Objectivism into a dogma lacking a means to justify its ethical conclusion. Discarding A1 would also discard the concept that integrates crucial information about all living creatures and all men. Men do not cease being men or become a new species when they act badly. "Nobody pursues values but Objectivists" is ridiculous.

A1 is the "IS" from which A2 the "OUGHT" arises.

A1 permits integration of data across a category regardless of any decision about the proper standard.

A2 is the integration of the same data with a normative standard, permitting moral evaluations.

Because it is the same referents being integrated, using a different word would only create confusion. Using the same word is not equivocation because both senses of the word have the same referents. {The second sense additionally integrates those facts with a normative standard that enables an evaluation to be assigned.

Power: Is power a value? Yes, it has been and still is a major motivation for some people. No, it is irrational and second-handed.

Can't deny power is a value while admitting people desire and pursue it.

The Pattern

2 senses, same word, a general and a specifically Objectivist version.

The first is the reality basis of the second.

The second integrates the same data with a normative standard.

Both 'yes' and 'no' are answers to the same question.

Further examples:

Virtue

A1 - virtue is the action by which one gains or keeps a value. "In virtue of". One should enact the means to gain one's ends. Deontologists advocate certain actions as ends in themselves, hedonists advocate whim worship. Faith, hope and charity are Christian virtues for gaining unity with the Diety. Wisdom, courage, justice , and temperance are the ancient Greek virtues.

A2 - Virtues are actions to gain rational values, pro-life values. Zealous Objectivists have retorted that Christian virtues are not really virtues but vices.

Ayn Rand story

Although LP never asked AR about the "two definitions" problem in general, he did ask her specifically about the definition of virtue. LP asked her why virtues should not be defined as the means and acts to gain and keep rational values.

Ayn Rand responded by asking him to imagine what would happen on that approach. Once having established a particular ethical theory, redefining the general concept so that it only permits your variant is an outrageous violation of objectivity. It would be an attempt to make it impossible to even think about alternatives. Ayn Rand was sensitive to issues of objectivity and was emphatic about never importing your conclusions into the definitions of terms that are condensations of observations. In particular, Ayn Rand was enraged at the suggestion that virtue should only be defined as the pursuit of rational values.

 

"You will encounter two different types of criticism of Objectivism [as a morality] with a life and death difference in terms of the soul, mind, and honesty of your opponent depending on which he offers. One type of criticism is that Objectivism is a wrong morality, an evil morality, a selfish morality, too idealistic a morality, etc. Other things being equal you can deal with a person like that, that is just a disagreement about content and in principle they are still open to go back to reality. But the type of person who will say to you "Objectivism is not a morality at all" is the type of person who is completely closed off to reality and is a pure dogmatist. The type of person who will say Objectivism is not a morality at all is exactly parallel to a Nazi who will define man as a white Aryan. The Nazi will go on to distinguish good and bad among white Aryans but the rest of mankind is regarded as subhuman."

 

Morality

A1 - a code of values accepted by choice

A2 - a code of pro-life values accepted by choice

Ayn Rand frequently refers to other moral codes: Kantian, Christian, the morality of altruism, wrong moralities, irrational moral codes, etc. All of those are moralities based on the observation of a genuine human need. Ayn Rand also went on to argue that Objectivism is the only consistent moral code, and that altruism is the destruction of morality. {John Galt: "And if you wish to go on living, what you now need is not to return to morality—you who have never known any—but to discover it."}

How could it be proven that altruism is anti-moral except by starting with a neutral objective definition that subsumed altruism within the category so that conclusions about morality could be applied to it? The same word must be used because the same concept is being used.

Q: Why not just differentiate between rational values and irrational values?

A: Totally inadequate. That neglects the values of plants and animals, which are neither. Irrational and rational would be subcategories that could only be distinguished after observing the data that gives us values in general. 'Value' first abstracts away from the method of achieving a goal to start with the fact of achieving a goal.

Hero - a total embodiment of a given code of morality.

Self-esteem - a positive evaluation of yourself based on a certain standard of value

Egoism - giving one's own values primacy over the values of others

Epistemology - the branch of philosophy that studies the nature, means and methods of knowledge.

We say all the time that there are three approaches to epistemology, the intrinsic (mystic), the subjective (skeptic) and the objective (rational). All deal with the same subject and give guidance on it. And yet, the skeptic claims knowledge is impossible and the mystic says there is no human means to know about anything important apart from revelation. Epistemology follows the pattern.

Philosophy - a reasoned view of man, knowledge and values. Linguistic Analysis and Existentialism are attempts to address the need for a philosophy, and yet each is such a failure they are actually negations of philosophy. Philosophy follows the pattern.

Aside: Even to qualify as a philosophy in the general sense requires an attempt to reason.

What is common to all the concepts which have dual senses? All are philosophical, all are broadly normative in the second sense. {and identify a need for normative guidance in the second sense} Fulfilling the need for guidance based on authority, emotion, tradition results in error. Fulfilling that need with the same reality orientation that recognizes the problem is the only consistent way to solve the problem without contradiction.

Decide for yourself about Rights

A1 - "a sanction to independent action", which Ayn Rand contrasts to acting by permission.

A2 - Galt: "conditions of existence required by man's nature for his proper survival". {Galt's definition is normative by appealing to "proper" survival, which incorporates some standard.}

Seems to follow the pattern. "They have legislated a right to health care. Just walk up and get it now." - in the first sense

"You can't legislate a right, the only real rights are defenses against initiations of force." - in the second sense. Relies on the first sense to derive a consistent normative version of rights.

Inapplicable to certain Concepts:

Do not apply to:

Logic - This is already a normative conclusion about thought. In a certain sense we all always pursue values, there is no counterpart sense in which we are all always logical.

Objectivity - this is already normative

Existence - there can be only one existence, a normative version of existence is impossible.

Polemics

Define terms objectively in the broad sense first then work toward normative conclusions.

Examples: An egoist defined objectively is someone who acts for his own benefit. You would reject egoist defined as someone who cares only about himself and will step over corpses to get what he wants.

Do not start conversations or arguments with "altruism is the doctrine that destroys all values". You must start with an objective definition the altruist himself would recognize.

A socialist says "I define capitalism as the system of exploitation of the proletariat." A capitalist says "I define socialism as the system of enslaving the able." Both definitions are subjective and useless as starting points {both simply assume the conclusion they wish to establish}.

Q: (Betsy) "Man" has two senses, mankind and male.

A: A completely different linguistic issue. Depends on the language. Many, even most, words in the dictionary have multiple definitions and senses, and some will be broader than others. That alone is not adequate to find the relationship examined here. The narrower sense must be derivative from the first and normative.

Q: (Prodos) Can we say "pseudo-value" or "pseudo-epistemology"?

A: No.

Q: (Dave) How many concepts do we have here? How is it possible we have the same concept?

A: The two definitions refer to the same facts from different perspectives.

Q: Can we distinguish between the two definitions as follows: The broad definition identifies a category of normative abstractions. The narrower definition is a normative abstraction.

A: That is helpful, like the IS-OUGHT relation. Thank you.

Q: What about physics in the medieval sense vs. the modern context?

A: Was torn about that. We can say it is like epistemology, but there is more continuity and growth with the field rather than outright corruption and contradiction.

Q: Is "Objectivist" in "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" there in recognition of the need to use a modifier when using epistemology in its narrower, second sense?

A. Yes. "Introduction to Epistemology" would be fantastically arrogant in the bad sense.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Notes on "Unity in Ethics and Epistemology" Lecture 4

Not a transcript. These notes paraphrase the speaker's points and are not accurate quotes unless in quote tags. {Curly brackets denote my comments}

Lecture #4 Is Morality Easy or Hard to Practice? Maintaining Unity in Ethics

Prefatory remarks:

Not discussing here the case of an irrational person. Everything is hard for an irrational person including morality, and the difficulty is self-made not an attribute of morality.

Not discussing a rational person in an irrational society or subculture who despite being honest and open to truth has unwittingly ingested errors, has a shaky psycho-epistemology, is unclear on his own conclusion, and has a tendency to malevolence, pessimism and subjectivism. The difficulty such a person might have is due to the mangling received in upbringing, not a difficulty found in morality.

The question for consideration is:

Is morality difficult or easy to practice for a healthy intact person in a plausible world. "Plausible world" rules out utopia and prison camps. Not the situation of Leo or Galt {in or out of the Gulch} but Roark, where the world at large leaves him alone and there is freedom to act morally.

Egoist moralities in general, of which Objectivism is one, generally take the line that morality is easy and natural. Not that it is automatic or effortless but rather that it is like any other skill.

Altruist moralities in the collectivist and supernatural varieties tend to find morality painful, difficult, even excruciating because they preach sacrifice and self-abnegation.

Morality in Thought

Morality pertains to the volitional, the directly chosen. For Objectivism morality is first in the mind and the appropriate physical expression follows.

The Objectivist mental moral state is being in focus, thinking and using your intelligence to the fullest to perceive and conform to reality. Is it easy or hard to perceive and conform to reality?

On the perceptual level it is easy as pie, seeeing and hearing etc. is automatic.

On the conceptual level it takes effort to remain in focus. Focus is mobilizing your consciousness, your mental resources. A line from Atlas Shrugged about Dagny going to sleep: "... surrendering the responsibility of consciousness". Focus is never automatic, even for Ayn Rand after decades of practice it took as much effort to focus when confronting her desk and a blank paper as when she started. In this sense morality is not easy but demanding. "Demanding" does not entail suffering or pain, the demand is for a natural and indispensable effort which is rewarding and often enjoyable, the demand is for an energy level you must reach and put forth continually. There is a struggle but not a struggle to give up what you want but to get what you want by staying focused on it.

The essence of morality for Objectivism is this issue of focus.

Clarity on Focus, What is Morality and What Isn't

Does morality require continuous mental work? While you are awake should your life be a process of trying to integrate, disintegrate, understanding complexity, asking new challenging questions, analyzing, synthesizing, of being a continuous cauldron of mental activity? Is this what is meant by full use of the mind? If everything is one and the mind is an integrating faculty does that mean one must integrate without stop just to make a dent in the connections that could be made?

NO.

Focus in the moral context is instantly available to anyone regardless of knowledge, state of civilization, or psychological state (leave aside psychotics).

"Are you in focus if you are influenced by a subconscious defense mechanism?" Yes, you can be in (or out) of focus while having a subconscious. Focus does not equal or imply mental health, or that your ideas are logical. Focus is readiness to perceive, a quality of alertness, actively controlling and directing one's attention.

Psychological issues can hinder the mental work done and reduce your productivity but the capacity to focus is always there.

Focus is a primary. Focus comes before knowledge. Focus is not affected by knowledge or lack of knowledge.

"If you are in full focus are your mental processes necessarily objective?" (note: question does not ask about correctness) No. focus is so primitive and primary a state that it precedes any methodology. Methodology requires learning, objectivity is a methodology therefore objectivity requires learning. Aristotle first enabled objectivity by discovering logic, Rand gave objectivity a firm full definition, but people could focus long before that and they had to in order to learn anything. Focus is the readiness to exert the best method known to you even if your best is not yet objective. What determines if a cognitive process is easy or hard is a function of knowledge of all the relevant factors including having a proper methodology and the nature of the problem.

It is very common for Objectivists to think focus is continuous mental work, even though it isn't. There is nothing unclear in the Objectivist literature on this point. People from a Christian, and especially Catholic background, have learned to equate virtue with suffering at a level built deeply into their subconscious. When they come to Objectivism they change the content of virtue so that it is no longer sacrificing or giving up to God but suffering through this horrifying process of being in focus morning to night and asking yourself terrifically difficult questions until you go crazy. "I say Catholic because Catholics are more serious about morality." {Yay ex-Catholics?}

Example from a student paper from OGC:

"Your discussion of focus sounds too passive. Isn't striving for a higher level of awareness a moral necessity? Isn't trying to hold the full context in all its excruciating detail part of committing oneself to obtaining full awareness of reality?"

LP: "I see words like 'striving' and 'excruciating' and say to myself, "that's a Catholic.""

(turns out the student was, or used to be)

Morally, focus is simply that you wake up or you don't. It is directly volitional with no striving for higher levels, no excruciating effort to hold ten thousand things in mind at once, nor any other such thorns in the flesh.

When an ethics applies primarily to your mind, then you should understand exactly what is being asked of your mind by that ethics.

Do not pursue abstract and detached goals. "Today I am going to acquire knowledge" What? Why? How? That is useless and pretentious.

Positive example of the kind of assignment to give yourself:

"Today I want to get this particular problem/issue/idea clear." "I want to understand X." "I want to at least figure out what I don't understand about X."

The idea of building up your morality by taking on the hardest thing in the world is empty and pointless. "Morality demands that today I utilize my full focus to acquire cognition." That is hopeless and paralyzing. If morality were that hard your attitude should "to hell with it". The Greek attitude, not the Christian.

Mental activity presupposes focus, but focus does not entail mental activity.

Examples: an air traffic controller at his display station which is empty and waiting.

LP at his radio show during commercial breaks, alert but not problem solving.

Full mental activity can be strenuous work, and if it is you should only expect to do so many hours of it per day not every waking hour. If you experience continuous suffering while thinking you are doing something wrong. {guess: trying to exceed "the crow" limit}

Morality and Action

Examples of the moral thing to do being difficult:

Francisco giving up Dagny for "the strike"

In general, ending a relationship.

The death of a loved one.

LP leaving rural Canada at 19 to go to N.Y.U. to be near Rand instead of staying more local.

In essence these are all cases of conflict brought about by clashing sets of data and memories integrated into opposing automatizations and possibly contradictory emotions. It is possible to reach a new conclusion consciously while still retaining the old integrations as automatizations. Conflict implies the existence of a duality, but the ideal is unity. But there can be an objective difficulty in achieving unity across the full context. Typically it is the case that the newer and truer idea is known abstractly but not concretely and automatized.

Two requirements for acting on a decision in harmony:

Make the new integration

Actively disintegrate the old conviction (there are techniques for this)

Ex:

A blonde was mean to you and you over-generalize and feel fear whenever you see a blonde. Someone tells draws your attention to what a ridiculous over-generalization that is. You can agree and still feel the fear. The subconscious still has the memories of "that case", and "the other case" associating blondes and meanness. You have to go back and reconsider the concretes, as many as you can dig up, and refute the conclusion or association you previously made. {That wasn't really meanness, or something else specific caused the meanness, or the person wasn't really a blonde, etc} After breaking up the old integration the new integration can take over without conflict.

This can take years for complex emotions. Fourteen years after Ayn Rand's death he might see something in the news about events in Russia and think about calling Rand to discuss it with her, and even remember her phone number.

There is a logic to this predicament, and it should not be desired that this could never happen. Suppose Fransisco hears the speech from Galt and then reacts immediately with full agreement and just walks away from D'Anconia Copper, his career and the industry, and Dagny, all without regrets or sense of loss. That would be eerie and disturbing, as if there was no person there, no continuity, no entity. The greater the degree of his morality and passion, the greater his committment and integration then the greater the difficulty in seeing the new perspective clearly in every moment without relapse.

Summary

It always take effort to be moral but it is not inherently painful. Sometimes it might be painful in thought if there is a particularly difficult problem, sometimes it might be painful in action when you are caught in a conflict you don't see through even if you know the answer. Always when the truth is seen as such it is easy to conform to it because that is life, reality, and your self-interest. The difficulty of morality lies in the seeing.

The Morality of Henry Rearden

The Question:

"Was Rearden in full focus when he had his affair with Dagny? Did he have to evade his moral beliefs about his obligations to Lillian to have the affair?"

In another form:

"How can Rearden be an exemplar of integrity? Doesn't he have to act on his beliefs even though it is wrong and painful? Disregarding a belief he thinks is true because he doesn't feel like it is emotionalism."

The Answer:

Context. The normal advice is that before acting resolve your conflict. But Rearden can't seem to resolve his conflict.

1) Rearden has a persistent desire for Dagny from the time he first sees her across months and years. It is significant that his desire is not a twitch of libido.

2) Rearden starts off philosophically naive and helpless. He doesn't know about subconscious premises, that there are alternative codes of morality, he does not understand what motivates Lillian.

3) Nothing that he actually values is threatened by the affair. Not his mills, not Dagny, not himself. He does have the awareness that Lillian is of no value to him, his marriage is just a duty. He does have a clear unity of mind in that he sees only a benefit and no drawbacks to the affair.

Rearden's idea of "marital duty" is being held out-of-context and unintegrated with the rest of what he believes and actually clashes with what he loves and wants. He is not convinced of his idea. Even in the abstract he cannot get a glimmer of any negative consequences of violating his moral idea of marriage. Since all the evidence is one way without contradiction that indicates a problem with the idea.

Rearden has a persistent and unresolvable conflict that goes beyond the ordinary conflicts already discussed. His desire for Dagny and his felt obligation to his marriage will not integrate. Demanding Rearden act on what he thinks is ambiguous because he thinks two contradictory things.

Integrity is a virtue in conjuntcion with life as the standard of value. Once an idea has been tied to an anti-life premise then that eliminates the possibility that integrity requires it. Rearden can't do that yet when he starts the affair but he knows something is wrong and he has to act or deny himself. The option doesn't remain live forever.

Rearden wants Dagny with a desire that won't take no for an answer, and he tried. It is not anti-integrity to act on an idea when no negative consequences are in sight. You cannot be expected to act on an idea that annihilates your life as you see it even if you mistakenly believe in that idea, because that violates the principle of egoism, self-interest.

The I.O.S. analysis

Intrinsic - if you believe it then act on it regardless of how it makes you suffer

Subjective - forget integrity, go by your feelings. But feelings will become contradictory and the person is fundamentally out of control.

Objective - if you suffer as Rearden suffered then it may well be proper to ignore that belief in action. This is integrity in a context.

The Objective position does not reduce to the Subjective position because of :

1) enduring persistent nature of the desire rules out transient emotional responses

2) searching forethought reveals no disadvantages or loss of values other than the contradictory idea

3) there is a need to act in the face of forsaking the desire permanently.

Part of acting objectively is keeping your eyes and mind open after having acted. After Rearden starts the affair he is not committed to Dagny in an out-of-context way either, he is not obligated to follow her into drugs, prostitution, whatever. The result of acting can be more information that resolves the conflict. Rearden learns a whole new code of ethics.

For Rearden, at the superficial level integrity was impossible to him but on a deeper level having the affair always was an act of integrity, it was his deepest values responding to her deepest values.

Q: Is focus a continuum or a switch?

A: Focus is a continuum. {he illustrates with watching TV with varying degrees of attention and recall}

Q: Homosexuality?

A: Abnormal but not immoral, incurable as far as we know. You can't be asked to deny yourself the value of a sex life. This is not true of every unusual sexual desire, if the desire involves rape or children those are objective reasons to deny the action. What consenting adults do is not immoral.

Q: From the two definitions lecture, can't we get the proper definition of self-esteem directly?

A: Self-esteem is like value and the rest. You can have self-esteem from following a wrong moral code and yet it isn't "self" esteem if it based on being selfless.

Q: What distinguishes the principle of two definitions from just "don't drop context"?

A: The fact that the same concept is involved with an objective and normative sense.

Q: Is it possible for someone to be objective without knowing what objectivity is?

A: Yes, in fits and starts, accidentally and unsystematically. Objectivity is methodology and methodology to be reliable requires explicit knowledge of the method. There were objective achievements in ancient Egypt and Babylon even if the Egyptian and Babylonians could not themselves separate the objective from the mystical and subjective elements of their culture. A young child can come up with conclusions that take into account what he sees long before he learns any logic.

Q: Was Wynand in focus when he turned The Banner back against Roark? Could Galt have saved him?

A: Yes. Wynand was older and completely committed to his view of man and power. Admitting he was wrong would be self-annihilating.

Ayn Rand couldn't save Wynand and she wanted to, so Galt couldn't either. She wrote the last scene between Wynand and Roark in tears, but it was the only ending consistent with his character.

Written questions:

Q: Regarding the unity of knowledge, is there a distinction between abstract theoretical and concrete knowledge? "The plane is two hours late" and "there are human footprints on the moon" do not imply or depend on each other.

A: Agreed. The unity of knowledge is at the level of principles.

Q: So, an understanding of Newtonian physics is necessary to an understanding of causality?

A: If anything suggested that, take it away. Philosophical principles are universal and objective, so there is no unique example leading to a derivation. It is invaluable however to see causality at the concrete level so that it is real to you. Ayn Rand had her husband take me on a "causality walk" once, and we had to name every instance of causality that could be witnessed walking up and down the streets of Manhattan.

Q: What do we need to know in order to understand Objectivism versus what Ayn Rand needed to know?

A: Ayn Rand knew history and had an active interest in mathematics and physics. She was an innovator and had to keep learning in order to carry knowledge further. I had to learn enough to have a first hand understanding of what she had already learned and condensed, a lesser amount. Know some history, and know literature to better appreciate Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

Q: Why is history special?

A: Because it is the laboratory of philosophy.

Q: In ITOE Rand wrote "A standard of measurement must be immutable and absolute". Why does she use both terms?

A: This is a terrible question to ask anyone live, they couldn't answer it without having memorized the complete works of Any Rand. I reject the jesuitical or rabbinical approach to studying Objectivism. Furthermore the question is linguistic and can be answered without referencing Objectivism. You wasted an opportunity to ask a real question. Anyway, Harry and I figured it out in 5 minutes even though couldn't answer it at the podium.

The answer is immutable means cannot change, and absolute is the opposite of relative. Translated to "Dick and Jane" English, it means "it can't change and don't you try".

Q: What is the practical value of this course?

A: Well. Indicated that but will summarize:

1) It is true.

2) Gives a more in depth grounding to how and why to integrate.

3) To give a body blow to compartmentalization and rationalism.

4) To inspire in you the desire to learn Objectivism inductively.

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