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The O'ist view on "change" as contradictory?

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Quick question - are there any good sources out there which present the objectivist argument against change being an inherent contradiction (ie - the idea that after change we have a thing that is the same as before the change, but is not the same as before the change. In other words, a thing has an identity of opposites and is thus contradictory).

Now, I know the general argument against it. In fact, I have presented that argument elsewhere on the forum. What I am looking for is something a little more in-depth. I do not recall any such presentations/essays/etc specifically addressing this issue.

Any suggestions?

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I don't know of anything in the Objectivist corpus, but have you read Metaphysics Gamma? Aristotle deals with this any many other objections to the principle of non-contradiction. It might not be as in-depth as you are looking for, though.

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Unfortunately, Aristotle made a couple (I emphasize just a couple) metaphysical errors when formulating his concepts related to change. As such, his explanation, while certainly better than most throughout history, has some flaws in it. That is why I am searching for any specific Objectivist explanation of change (and the rejection of change as contradiction). I want to make certain I understand the principles involved and do not inadvertantly accept some of those errors.

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I think the only Objectivist source (in any significant way) of this may be at the end of Part One of Peikoff's History of Philosophy lectures where he presents the Objectivist arguments to main issues in philosophy. I'll pop it on in my car on the way to work tomorrow and let you know.

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Quick question - are there any good sources out there which present the objectivist argument against change being an inherent contradiction (ie - the idea that after change we have a thing that is the same as before the change, but is not the same as before the change.  In other words, a thing has an identity of opposites and is thus contradictory).

OPAR, page 119. "Aristotle's law of contradiction states the above as a formal principle of thought: nothing can be A and non-A at the same time and in the same respect" (emphasis mine).

Or, as I describe it, a contradiction is "a claim that something is both A and non-A within a given context."

In either case, the answer to your problem is built right into the definition. The answer to the question "A or non-A" is only good within a certain context (whether specified or implied). You're not allowed to switch contexts in the middle of analysing a claim anymore than you're allowed to change the meaning of "A" partway through. This is simply a form of context-dropping (the context of the claim being checked for contradictions).

Does that help?

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While that is a good premise, it is not an explanation, argument, or proof such as I am looking for. I am seeking something much more in-depth. Issues that involve things like potentiality and actuality, as well as differencess in form, as they relate to identity, etc.

Thoyd - did you happen to find anything on the tapes I might have missed?

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I'm not sure if it will be of any assistance, but in Chapter 8 of "Language In Thought And Action", S.I. Hayakawa discusses change from the perspective of the relationship between language (concepts) and reality. There's nothing novel there, but perhaps the terminlogy he uses to explain it can contribute to your argument in some way.

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Here are some quotes from the Objectivism Research CD-ROM dealing with the relationship between the IDENTITY of ENTITIES and the ACTIONS and CHANGES that arise from their identity:

Galt's Speech

As they proclaim their right to consume the unearned, and blank out the question of who's to produce it -- so they proclaim that there is no law of identity, that nothing exists but change, and blank out the fact that change presupposes the concepts of what changes, from what and to what, that, without the law of identity no such concept as 'change' is possible.

====

Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology

Appendix -- Entities and Their Makeup

Prof. E: In any process of concept-formation, you have to differentiate certain concretes from the field around you. You and I discussed this once in regard to forming the concept of "existence," but how does differentiation apply to forming the concept of these metaphysical categories: entity, attribute, action, and relation? What would you differentiate entity from? Would it be that you differentiate entity from attribute, or attribute from action, in order, as an adult, to form such concepts? Do you differentiate one such category from another?

AR: Yes, except in one respect. To be exact, you would have to say you learn to differentiate those concepts by differentiating them from the concept "entity." Because "entity" has to be the basic concept. And then, as you observe that entities move or change or they have certain characteristics, you isolate those attributes or actions from the concept "entity."

====

The Journals of Ayn Rand

13 - Notes While Writing: 1947-1952

The progression of a man's mental (and psychological) development. (The progression of a man's consciousness.)

1. He acquires factual knowledge of objects around him, of events, and therefore concludes that a universe exists and that he exists (through the evidence given to him by his senses, grasped and put in order by his reasoning mind). Here he gets the materials to grasp two things: objective reality and himself, consciousness and self-consciousness.

2. He discovers that he has the capacity of choice. First, he grasps objects, entities -- then that these entities act, i.e., move or change. (It may seem to be almost simultaneous, but actually he must grasp "entity" before he can grasp "acting entity.")

[...]

Man's consciousness is not material -- but neither is it an element opposed to matter. It is the element by which man controls matter -- but the two are part of one entity and one universe -- man cannot change matter, he can control it only by understanding it and shaping it to his purpose. (The distinction between "entity" and "action" -- between noun and verb. The essence of being. )

====

The Objectivist Newsletter: Vol. 2 No. 5 May, 1963

Books: Aristotle* by John Herman Randall, Jr.

Reviewed by Ayn Rand

Aristotle was the first man who integrated the facts of identity and change, thus solving that ancient dichotomy. Or rather, he laid the foundation and indicated the method by which a full solution could be reached. In order to resurrect that dichotomy thereafter, it was necessary to ignore and evade his works. Ever since the Renaissance, the dichotomy kept being resurrected, in one form or another, always aimed at one crucial target: the concept of identity -- always leading to some alleged demonstration of the deceptiveness, the limitations, the ultimate impotence of reason.

====

The Ominous Parallels

3 - Hitler's War Against Reason

Hostile to the "cold" objectivity of the scientific method, the romanticists turned to avowedly subjective fantasies, priding themselves on their absorption in an inner world of intense feeling. Scornful of the "shallowness" of Aristotelian logic, they flaunted the fact that the universes they constructed were brimming with "depth," i.e., with contradictions, A's <ompar_51> endlessly blending into non-A's and vice versa. Contemptuous of the "static" world of the Enlightenment thinkers -- a world of stable, enduring entities—the romanticists denied the very existence of entities. Their "dynamic" universe was a resurrection of the ancient theory of Heraclitus: reality is a stream of change without entities or of action without anything that acts; it is a wild, chaotic flux, which the orderly "Enlightenment mind" cannot grasp.

====

Galt's Speech

The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature.

====

Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology

6. Axiomatic Concepts

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.

====

Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology

The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy by Leonard Peikoff

The Law of Causality is entailed by the Law of Identity. Entities follow certain laws of action in consequence of their identity, and have no alternative to doing so.

====

The Journals of Ayn Rand

Part 5 - Final Years

15 - Notes. 1955-1977

The reification of "forces" of nature is the rebellion against (or ignorance of) the law of identity: it separates entities from actions, implying that actions are not caused by the nature of the entities that act, but are caused by some outside power. For example: "Death takes a holiday" implies that death is not inherent in the nature of living entities. Or: "Spring brings flowers" -- implying that the growth of flowers is not inherent in nature. This is an example of the inability to grasp that existence exists.

====

Objectivism:The Philosophy of Ayn Rand

Chapter 1 -- Reality

The adult validation of the law of causality consists in stating this relationship explicitly. The validation rests on two points: the fact that action is action of an entity; and the law of identity, A is A. Every entity has a nature; it is specific, noncontradictory, limited; it has certain attributes and no others. Such an entity must act in accordance with its nature.

The only alternatives would be for an entity to act apart from its nature or against it; both of these are impossible. A thing cannot act apart from its nature, because existence is identity; apart from its nature, a thing is nothing. A thing cannot act against its nature, i.e., in contradiction to its identity, because A is A and contradictions are impossible. In any given set of circumstances, therefore, there is only one action possible to an entity, the action expressive of its identity. This is the action it will take, the action that is caused and necessitated by its nature.

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I really appreciate Betsy. She is like my own personal Google. :D

I think the quote that probably touches upon the area I am interested in most is the book review of "Aristotle" in 'The Objectivist Newsletter'. As AR makes clear, Aristotle "laid the foundation and indicated the method by which a full solution could be reached."

I'm trying to find out if someone did build upon that foundation and reached a fully explained solution - identifying how the A - the red tipped match, cold and hard to the touch becomes what Heraclitus said is nonA - the black, charred match, warm and crumbly to the touch. Both the same match and not the same match.

The rest of the quotes indicate the principle, but do not describe necessarily the 'mechanics' of it (a la potentiality and actuality, etc). And that is where I need more information.

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I really appreciate Betsy.

Me too! :D

The rest of the quotes indicate the principle, but do not describe necessarily the 'mechanics' of it (a la potentiality and actuality, etc).  And that is where I need more information.

Perhaps what you are seeking is more the province of science than philosophy.

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Stephen

I thought this was more metaphysics as opposed to science or a specific science. In his History of Philosophy lectures, Dr. Peikoff presents the following under the catagory of Aristotle's metaphysics:

Reality is this world – the world we live in – of concrete particulars – individual things as revealed to man’s senses

Each particular – each primary substance is comprised of two elements

Forms – a universalizing element which constitutes the basis for putting it into a particular class and ascribing to it a certain nature

Matter – an individualizing element which constitutes the basis of its uniqueness – that which makes it a ‘this’.

Matter is the stuff or material comprising a thing

Form represents its structure or organization

Change is the process of matter taking on a new form

Change thus does not involve contradiction. It is logical and scientifically understandable.

Change is passage from ‘potentiality’ to ‘actuality’ which occurs in orderly, logical predictable ways.

Every change involves four factors – four essential causes

Material cause – the material from which the change proceeds

Formal cause – the new structure imposed on that material

Efficient Cause – the action of the agent which gives the new structure to the matter

Final Cause – the end or goal or purpose of the process; the final answer to the question “Why does it occur”

--

Now Dr. Peikoff indicates Aristotle's 'causes' are one of the places where he starts to go wrong with his theories of change. Are these what you suggest are the realm of science? Is there a scientific as opposed to metaphysical explanation I should be looking for here which describes the relation of an entity to its potentiality and its actuality and the principles of how it changes from one to the other in an orderly manner? Or is there an earlier error in Aristotle's work which renders this question irrelevant (ie matter/forms). In other words, is his identification of change as matter taking on new form according to the dictates of its potentiality, an error into which I am also falling?

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Every change involves four factors – four essential causes

Material cause – the material from which the change proceeds

Formal cause – the new structure imposed on that material

Efficient Cause – the action of the agent which gives the new structure to the matter

Final Cause – the end or goal or purpose of the process; the final answer to the question “Why does it occur”

--

Now Dr. Peikoff indicates Aristotle's 'causes' are one of the places where he starts to go wrong with his theories of change.

Actually all four "causes" are caused by a more fundamental cause: the nature -- i.e., the identity -- of the entity that changes which includes its material, form, and how it interacts with other entities.

Also Aristotle erroneously believed that Final Causation applied to all changes, when Final Causation only applies to living things.

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Betsy,

I understand and agree. The four causes are indeed due to the more fundamental cause - identity (and yes, I understand the teleological nature of the fourth). I am simply looking for the explanation (if it exists) of that principle as it applies to change - as opposed to just the one or two sentence *identification* of that principle.

I am also trying to understand if the concepts form and matter are valid here, since Dr. P later says that this was another of Aristotles errors and that no such division is appropriate. I am not sure though if this error relates JUST to the concepts of universals and particulars as identified by the terms form and matter - or if it applies to the terms in relation to change as well. Sometimes it's hard to keep track. :)

I'd also like to know if there is any comprehensive explanation from the objectivist perspective of the relationship between form and matter, and potentiality and actuality.

Basically, Im trying to find out if I have to do all the work on my own on the topic, or if there is some source which I can learn from/validate my understanding of the concepts better, so I can then explain and expand upon it more clearly.

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Stephen

I thought this was more metaphysics as opposed to science or a specific science.

Well, I had glanced at the thread and I got the impression that the principles were clear and the "mechanics" you sought seemed more allied to the specific nature of the entities involved. If I misunderstood what you are after then just ignore what I said.

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    Is there a scientific as opposed to metaphysical explanation I should be looking for here which describes the relation of an entity to its potentiality and its actuality and the principles of how it changes from one to the other in an orderly manner?  Or is there an earlier error in Aristotle's work which renders this question irrelevant (ie matter/forms). 

Perhaps one way to come up with a succint metaphysical explanation IS to approach it from a scientific or mathematical perspective. I am way out of my league here, but it seems that someone far more adept at it could provide an indirect mathematical proof, or something similar in the form of an equation, which disproves any attempt to contadict the law of identity.

It may require two separate formulas to distinguish between living and non-living entities (as Betsy reminded us), but the general idea would be to use variables that take into consideration every conceivable way in which change affects form and substance over time ("delta" t) without violating an entity's nature (a constant).

This includes variables that take into account varying contexts (perceptual tools of the observer, levels of abstraction, and symbols or words used to identify "A"), the entity's natural potential, net growth/decay of substance due to environment, biological actualization, and choices (conscious & subconscious), time, and symbol identifier (what "IT" is called).

Since "the word is not the thing", the variable for the name of the entity is multiplied by zero to thwart attempts by linguistic analysts to change "A" just by renaming it.

No real numbers are necessary (save perhaps a constant needed to reflect the entity's nature) since quantifying change is not the purpose, and the number of variables as far as I can tell would amount to no more than about a dozen.

I just thought a different approach to the problem you're trying to solve might be worth suggesting since a metaphysical explanation seems like it would be extremely cumbersome if it had to account for the almost infinte ways that change can be described, whereas the number of categories of change is actually limited.

Sorry if this whole post seems like just a bunch of rambling since I'm still not sure HOW or even IF this sort of approach could be used. I'm just sure that it's probably beyond my capacity. (It's an interesting problem though).

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While this approach might serve to provide good examples of the metaphysical explanation, I dont think it can be used in place of a metaphysical explanation - which is what I ultimately need.

Given the posts so far, I am going to take it that there is no in-depth objectivist explanation of the metaphysical nature of change, proceeding from Aristotle's explanation but which corrects his errors. As such, I'll approach the problem on my own then.

Do keep an eye out for specific questions along these lines though, since there are a couple issues relating to Aristotle's explanation which I am not certain how/why they are wrong - mostly for reasons of equivocation.

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I took so long getting back that you probably found out on your own that there is no discussion of it in the Peikoff History of Philosophy lecture number 12, the Objectivist answer section.

Have you tried the Objectivist periodicals? You would think someone, somewhere would have touched the subject sometime.

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Change, Motion, Time all seem to be the concept looked at from different perspectives just as Existence and Identity are corrilaries of eachother.

These three strike me as axiomatic. I can't imagine being able to make ANY identifications without there being change.

My answer is at best a clue and at worst, wrong. I hope my statements will trigger something in your mind that leads to the answer.

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Though this is tangential to the thread: change is an axiom, but I think motion and time are variants of change. Time is a measurement of motion, and motion is a change of location.

By "axiom" I suppose you mean axiomatic concept, but, regardless, I do not understand how "change" can be axiomatic. Isn't "change" a kind of relationship, a relationship between, say, some existent before and after an action? I see "change" as a phenomenon that is derived from other concepts upon which it depends, not as being axiomatic.

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Stephen, are you saying that the basic concept (in context) is act - ie, entities act (specifically, according to their nature) - and that the concept change is a derivative concept and depends on the concept act?

If entities did not act there would be no change, but change applies to a broader context than just physical entities. Ideas change, feelings change, etc., and I think that change is a comparative relationship between an existent before and after an action takes place. But, ultimately it is the action of entities that make those changes possible.

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If entities did not act there would be no change, but change applies to a broader context than just physical entities. Ideas change, feelings change, etc., and I think that change is a comparative relationship between an existent before and after an action takes place. But, ultimately it is the action of entities that make those changes possible.

Ok, I buy this. But should the original question be altered to ask about *action* as contradiction? Is *action* an axiomatic concept? I am still inclined to say that it is.

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