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Validating Axioms with a Co-Worker

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A little background. This co-worker began with an inquiry as to who Ayn Rand was to me, (picture on wall, and Lexicon on desk, trying to contrast the position with another co-worker he occasionally discusses theocratic positions with. Eventually, this has led to him arriving at a position that the O'ist position was indistinguishable from religion, that the axioms are simply a matter of faith and cannot be proved (with which I agree, they cannot be proved, only validated). Since validation is something an individual must undertake themselves, this is an attempt to step though the validation process in a systematic manner.

In a way, I perceive this as an expansion of Peikoff's 'tomato' example given in OPAR in conjunction with my rudimentary grasp of ITOE, to try and contrast validation from proof, which appear to be synonomous to this individual, or garbled on my behalf.

In an ongoing conversations with a coworker, the epistemological position that somehow atoms are hierarchically superior to the universe as a whole, rather than a metaphysical symbiotic relationship spawned the following conversation, posted with verbal permission with the names removed.

I am posting this for two reasons that come to mind.

1.) It is open to critique to further my discussion skills.

2.) It may serve beneficial to someone trying to present 'validation', esp. of O'ist Axioms.

Here goes:

dream_weaver:

My apologies for a subtle mis-statement yesterday.

Binswanger actually stated that "atoms are not prior to the universe. The universe is not prior to atoms."

Hopefully that clarifies it for you.

co-worker:
How does he validate that the universe is not prior to atoms?

dream_weaver:
Via the conceptual grasp of three axioms which are implicit in every act of awareness, and the identification of the principle of the Primacy of Existence.

co-worker:
Really? So explain how these axioms, and the identification of the Primacy of Existence validates that statement.

dream_weaver:
Explain to me your understanding of the process of validation.

co-worker:
Your validation (proof) should be all the understanding required. Sounds to me like you don't have one.

dream_weaver:
What is the difference between validation and proof again. (seems you balked the last time I asked).

co-worker:
You are unnecessarily moving away from the previous question. I can judge for myself what I deem as valid. I'm curious as to what you think makes this statement valid.

dream_weaver:
I'm not moving away from the question, I am seekeing to understand what you consider a.)validation, b.)proof and now c.)judgement - to me, what appear to be interrelated concepts. What is the criteria you are appealing to for your judgement? How can I provide you the data you seek, unless you can quantify what that data is?

co-worker:
I will respond after, not prior, to your answer.

dream_weaver:
Ok.

dream_weaver:
Let me know when you figure it out.

co-worker:
Figure what out?

dream_weaver:
If you haven't figured that out by now, I don't know what to tell you that I haven't already tried to say before.

co-worker:
So you have no reasons that the statement is valid. Only to say, "It's in the 3 axioms." That's pretty poor.

dream_weaver:
You must be right then. I must be taking it on faith and not reason. You appear to have great faith in that.

dream_weaver:
What was the difference between faith and reason again?

co-worker:
Good question.

co-worker:
For me; Valid - Something that has a true basis and a true result. Proof - What is used to show the validity between that basis and result.

Faith - no proof for believing or agreement. Reason - Proof for believing or agreement.

dream_weaver:
Validation: The relationship between the concept and the perceptual observation that gives rise to it.

Proof: Retracing the logical steps between proposition and the perceptual observations that give rise to it.

co-worker:
Ok, now for your anticipated answer.

dream_weaver:
Are our identifications of validation and proof in harmony?

co-worker:
They appear to be, although yours is much wordier..

dream_weaver:
So, in an example of say 'length' you look at three objects such as a pencil, a straw and a match - you perceptually identify that they are similar and yet different at the same time. The similarity, you abstract from the three entities and seal the conceptual difference with the word 'length'.

conceptual difference = conceptual observation

co-worker:
That's your valid reason for 'The universe is not prior to atoms'?

dream_weaver:
No, that is an example of tracing the development of a very simple concept. The concepts you are asking about are at least 3 abstractions removed from the perceptual level.

co-worker:
I'll give it a whirl.

Go ahead.

dream_weaver:
I'll let you.

co-worker:
No, I mean, I'll let you validate that statement as best you can. I'd like to see dream_weaver's reasons for agreement.

dream_weaver:
Do I have to validate pencil, straw and match, or is the proof laid out for the validation of length sufficient?

co-worker:
Nope, that's understood.

dream_weaver:
Length is an attribute that penciil, straw and match share in common. Would you agree that they also share in common the attribute that they exist?

co-worker:
Yes I would.

dream_weaver:
Would you agree that in observing the pencil, the straw and match, that you are aware/conscious of them?

co-worker:
Yes I would.

At this point, three objects, a pencil, a 12" ruler or we call scale, and a compass point about 3 1/2" long from a drop-bow compass, were hand carried to my co-worker to visually interact with for the next few questions.

dream_weaver:
Substituting a compass point, and scale for the straw and match would you agree that they possess the attribute of length and exist, and that you are too, aware of them?

dream_weaver:
(Near the 1 inch mark on the scale, can still be made out [DREAM_WEAVER] where it had been written onto the metal, fingernail polish applied over the writing, and over the years of handling, appears as it does now.)

co-worker:
I dunno. Looks like it says "[CO-WORKER]" in bold, fresh black permanent ink.

But yes, I agree that they all possess the attribute of length and they exist and since I too exist, and am observing them, I am aware of them.

dream_weaver:
Do you think you would recognize that particular scale again if presented with it for identification?

co-worker:
I believe I would.

dream_weaver:
If you studied the pencil and compass point in fine enough detail, do you think you would recognize those particular items as well?

co-worker:
I might. For arguements sake, let say I would.

dream_weaver:
So would you agree that each of those items have their own specific identity?

While he was away from his desk, I retrieved the objects.

co-worker:
Yes. And someone absconded with them.

dream_weaver:
You allowed my personal effects to be absconded with?

co-worker:
Not intentionally. Luckily, for both of us, we've established that they have lenght, exist, and I can identify them. Or maybe it was just a dream....

dream_weaver:
You are drinking out of 'your' coffee cup, I presume?

co-worker:
Ahhh! It's Santa's! Oops.

dream_weaver:
Still haven't found Santa. I know he is somewhere in the house, I have just not run back across him lately.

So would it be fair to claim you could identify your coffee cup and my scale based on their identities?

co-worker:
Yes I would.

dream_weaver:
Did you drive the Caravan in today?

co-worker:
I did not. I've never owned one.

dream_weaver:
Minivan?

co-worker:
Ah, yes. I owned a Plymouth Voyager.

dream_weaver:
Do you park all your vehicles in the garage?

co-worker:
No sir. I'm in good shape if one of the three is in the garage. FYI, I parted out the minivan 3 or more years ago.

dream_weaver:
Has it been that long since I've taken a ride with you up to the Thai Sty?

co-worker:
You were in the minivan? I didn't have too many passengers in it. Fun little truck.

dream_weaver:
It had a sensor out on it, if memory serves me.

It had been out for some time, and was judged not be a cost effective repair.

co-worker:
Sounds like you were in it. Anyway, back to your validation...

dream_weaver:
Do you have a mustang, which exists, that you are aware of when it is in your vacinity, and you could identify it from other similar mustangs?

co-worker:
Yes. We've now established that I can multitask and identify many existants. Are we going to list everything that I am aware of and can identify? If so, I'll need to get more coffee.

I have been through more abreviated versions of this conversation. This time, the intent is to try and drive the point home via simple repetition. He has let me know to move on from specific, unique items, to more generalized application of the same principle.

dream_weaver:
Do you have the concept 'man' in your repertoire?

co-worker:
Referring to 'male' or human?

Do you smell something bad?

dream_weaver:
Human.

I detect no aromas at the moment.

co-worker:
Yes, I understand human.

I'm either getting used to it or it's dissipated.

dream_weaver:
How many men does the concept 'man' refer to?

co-worker:
All of them.

dream_weaver:
Have you seen them all?

co-worker:
No.

However, I also understand the concept 'Martian'. And I, nor any other 'man' has seen one, to my knowledge.

dream_weaver:
Are you done?

co-worker:
I'm even wearing a T shirt from one right now. [Yes, he was indeed wearing a Marvin-the-Martian t-shirt.]

co-worker:
Yes, I'm done.

dream_weaver:
Does your concept of 'man' extend to those who existed in the past?

co-worker:
Yes.

dream_weaver:
Would your concept of 'man' encompass and include those which have not yet been born?

co-worker:
Hmm. No. Those I would consider 'potential men' or 'proposed men'. There's no guarantee that they'll be born.

dream_weaver:
If they were born, would they be included?

co-worker:
Yes.

dream_weaver:
Does man possess the attributes that pencil, scale, coffee cup, compass point, and mustang do of existing, you can be aware or conscious of them, and each one of them individually is specifically what they are, i.e.: possess identity?

(currently existing man, today, within a 300 mile envelope of earth)

co-worker:
Yes I would say so.

dream_weaver:
Yes, you would say so, or yes, they do?

co-worker:
Yes, they do.

dream_weaver:
Would you concur that every pencil, scale, coffee cup, compass point, and mustang, that either currently are, or have been, too, exist (or existed), if you were in their vicinity could be aware (or could have been aware in the case of those things that are no longer present in that particular form) and each and every one of those objects are or were specifically what they are or were?

co-worker:
That is quite the run-on sentence, but I concur.

dream_weaver:
Would you concur that rocks exist, can be observed, and each one is specifically the rock that it is?

co-worker:
Yes, yes, yes! They all exist and stuff. OK, let's move on.

dream_weaver:
You asked me to confirm Binswangers statement on an mp3 that you have not listened to, which I stated rested upon a few basic axioms and and principle, didn't you?

co-worker:
Did he go about it this way? We've established that several different existants do exist and have identity. If I let you keep going, we'll be talking crayons in about 10 days.

dream_weaver:
He assumes you have already validated the axioms for yourself, and are in concurrance with the principle identified.

co-worker:
Ok. Well I would say you and I are in agreement so far...

dream_weaver:
You stated that seveal different existants do exist and have identity (and you can be aware of some of them, but do not require to be aware of all of them to extend the same status)?

(You may have just found a minor shortcut)

(i.e. we may be able to trim back part of that 10 day anticipation)

dream_weaver:
If we take the concept of dog, cat, bird, and man and contrast them with say tree, or rock, can we use the concept 'animal' to include all the animals in the same way we included each man in the example with 'man'?

dream_weaver:
If we take the concepts of grass, trees, bushes, flowers, etc, can we use the concept 'plant' to include al the plants in a similar fashion?

co-worker:
With ya so far.

dream_weaver:
Can we also take the concepts of 'animal' and 'plant' and contrast them from inanimate objects, such as rocks, lakes, dirt, etc as 'living organisms' and apply the same three attributes of existing, percievable, and each with it's own specific identity?

co-worker:
Yes.

dream_weaver:
Do you suppose that applies to each and every inanimate object as well?

co-worker:
Yes.

dream_weaver:
What if we took each individual existent from the group of 'inanimate objects' and considered that which it has in common from the group of 'living organisms' - could we identify each of those objects under the 'concept' entity'?

co-worker:
I suppose we could. But where would you stop at? The entity 'car' consists of many sub-entities. The list goes atomic.

dream_weaver:
From that statement, we will have to apparently break down car for you and illustrate how it too can be considered an entity, existing, percievable, and identifiable, such as the example of your mustang used earlier, or does that suffice?

co-worker:
That's fine.

dream_weaver:
That's fine, go ahead and show how car qualifies as an entity also, or that's fine, you understand how your mustang can be considered as an entity?

co-worker:
I understand how each component, including the whole, can be considered an entity.

dream_weaver:
So if we summarized where we are at the moment, it would seem that each individidual entity, individually exists, is individually percievable, and individually has identity?

co-worker:
Yes.

dream_weaver:
So put in other words:

to conceptualize that existence exists, is to identify that every entity / existent, exists and grasp that they do.

to conceptualize that consciousness is conscious, is to identify that consciousness perceives the existents.

to conceptualize identity is to identify that each and every entity / existent, is precisely the entity / existent that it is.

co-worker:
I would consider those to be common sense.

While nice to see in words, things exist, we can see them to know they exist and we are conscious because we know they exist.

dream_weaver:
And to further reword it:

Axiom 1. Existence Exists.

Axiom 2. Consciousness is conscious / awareness

Axiom 3. Law of Identity

Consider yourself essentially to have validated them for yourself.

co-worker:
Ok. Thanks for holding my hand through it. Now, on to where this states that 'the universe is not prior to atoms.'

dream_weaver:
Slow down, Marvin - where's the kaboom?

co-worker:
OK, let's continue.

dream_weaver:
Is a consciousness conscious of nothing but itself a contradiction in terms?

co-worker:
That's a speed bump. I will have to devote some serious thought to that.

dream_weaver:
That is what needs to be ultimately grasped conceptually in order to establish the hierarchy between existance and consciousness - i.e.: which has primacy.

dream_weaver:
I hoped you marked your way along the trail with some bread crumbs or something, or drew yourself a map of the territory so you can find your way back, in case you want to retrace your steps.

To be continued . . .

Respectfully,

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dream_weaver: So if we summarized where we are at the moment, it would seem that each individidual entity, individually exists, is individually percievable, and individually has identity?

co-worker: Yes.

dream_weaver: So put in other words:

to conceptualize that existence exists, is to identify that every entity / existent, exists and grasp that they do.

to conceptualize that consciousness is conscious, is to identify that consciousness perceives the existents.

to conceptualize identity is to identify that each and every entity / existent, is precisely the entity / existent that it is.

I am not sure if your co-worker understands the concept of "identity".

It isn't right to say that things *have* identity.

"[The abstracting of identity] is not the abstraction of an attribute from a group of existents, but of a basic fact from all facts. Existence and identity are *not attributes* of existents, they *are* the existents."

(Ayn Rand, ITOE, 6. Axiomatic Concepts, 5:1 - 5:2)

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(Ayn Rand, ITOE, 6. Axiomatic Concepts, 5:1 - 5:2)

Something for me to work on. It points out something that could use a little introspection to isolate.

Curious though, 5:1 - 5:2 provoked this response:

co-worker:

'The abstracting of identity'. That's a strange sentence using abstract as a verb. My understanding of abstract was that it is something that you cannot touch, an idea or a feeling.

BTW, nice job listing the source as if it's in the 3rd Testament.

dream_weaver:
Abstracting is concept of consciousness denoting a process / activity, hence, verb.

What is 5:1 - 5:2? Never noticed ITOE referenced in this way before.

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dream_weaver:

Good morning, Mr. Serious Thought.

Were you able to make it over your 'speed bump'?

co-worker:
No. And I'm trying to come up with a way to put my thoughts into words. Must that be resolved to move on?

dream_weaver:
It appears I may have made an error yesterday. Vic pointed out the following:

I am not sure if your co-worker understands the concept of "identity".

It isn't right to say that things *have* identity.

"[The abstracting of identity] is not the abstraction of an attribute from a group of existents, but of a basic fact from all facts. Existence and identity are *not attributes* of existents, they *are* the existents."

(Ayn Rand, ITOE, 6. Axiomatic Concepts, 5:1 - 5:2)

co-worker:
2 things;

1. Who's Vic? The name you've given your third mind?

2. 'The abstracting of identity'. That's a strange sentence using abstract as a verb. My understanding of abstract was that it is something that you cannot touch, an idea or a feeling.

BTW, nice job listing the source as if it's in the 3rd Testament.

dream_weaver:
1.)Vic has chosen to withhold his name and location.

Chuck from New Baltimore, MD found the conversation an interesting read.

2.) Abstracting is concept of consciousness denoting a process / activity, hence, verb.

I would have listed the source a bit differently.

dream_weaver:
I would have put it more like: Ayn Rand stated in ITOE, on pg. 56 . . .

I will have to inquire what the 5:1-5:2 is referenceing, as only the chapters are numbered.

co-worker:
Ah yes, you mentioned posting this. Now it makes a bit more sense. I was beginning to think you had several personalities running around in your mellon. So Chuck's amused and Vic thinks I need help on Identity. Maybe he's right. Can you explain his position?

dream_weaver:
I did.

What, of his citation, do you not grasp, and why?

co-worker:
It's a bit difficult to read. 'Existence and Identity are the existants'. Yet identity is not an attribute?

dream_weaver:
Probably why it took me so long to understand it. Her material is dense, in the sense that she does not mince words. Identity is not an attribute.

dream_weaver:
Is who '
co-worker
' is, an attribute, or is it your ID?

co-worker:
Her editor earned his money.

It is my ID.

OK, I have 3 rubber bouncy balls. Two are red and one is blue. Other than that. They are virtual clones of each other. If we take the two red balls, other than the fact that one is on the left and one

is on the right, what gives them identity?

dream_weaver:
Existence is identity, consciousness is identification.

dream_weaver:
Or, as stated earlier:

"[The abstracting of identity] is not the abstraction of an attribute from a group of existents, but of a basic fact from all facts. Existence and identity are *not attributes* of existents, they *are* the existents."

Pg. 56, ITOE by Ayn Rand.

co-worker:
Can Identities be the exact same?

dream_weaver:
You stated it. You have 3 rubber bouncy balls. Two are red and one is blue. Other than that, they are virtual clones of each other. From the observers perspective, one red ball is on the left and one red ball is on the right.

dream_weaver:
Well, the left one is the left one, and the right one is the right one, and if the locations were swapped, you might have difficulty noting that perceptually.

co-worker:
Um, those would be 'my' observations, not identity. What if these balls were on Pluto and observed by no-one, do they cease to have identity? I don't think so.

dream_weaver:
So, an existent does not require consciousness in order to exist?

Wow. Who would have known?

co-worker:
Clever. We'll deal with that one at another time
:)

I'm still not seeing how an existants attributes are not part of it's Identity.

dream_weaver:
An existants attributes are not part of it's Identity? Since when?

co-worker:
"Existence and identity are *not attributes* of existents"

dream_weaver:
Correct. Existence and identity *are* the existents.

co-worker:
This is starting to sound like a version of Abbot and Costello's "Who's on First?"

I understand that each existant has it's own, individual, identity. To me, that Identity is made up of it's attributes, or ingredients. Going back to my red bouncy balls on Pluto, other than they are both individual balls created at different times, are their Identities identical?

dream_weaver:
An existent does not 'have' it own identity, the existent *is* it's identity.

If there are two red bouncy balls on Pluto, there are two of them, and from our current understanding of physics, they cannot occupy the same location simultaneously, so one of the balls would indeed, not be the other, even if they were indistinguishable from one another over and above that.

co-worker:
Can an existant's Identity change?

Or be destroyed or created?

dream_weaver:
Only via causality, I would imagine.

co-worker:
I'm not sure I've changed my position on Identity, but I do understand that an existant will always have it's own unique identity.

Let's move on to how the Universe is not prior to atoms.

dream_weaver:
It occurs to me that there me two contextual uses at play here.

Mr. Physics that you like to play has a sense of identity invoked may have a different context than a philosophical usage of identity.

co-worker:
That may be the issue.

Although I don't see how they can be that much different.

dream_weaver:
Philosophy studies knowledge, Physics studies matter.

dream_weaver:
I don't see how they could be identical.

co-worker:
OK, so I'll try to use O'ism's version of Identity. Can you give me a definition please?

co-worker:
Given what we've discussed so far, it almost seems synonymous with Existence.

dream_weaver:
In the tautology department is the phrase "A is A", which is to say: A thing is what it is.

co-worker:
"A is A" Wow. Brilliant detective work.

So what's the definition?

dream_weaver:
Look it up. It is in the Lexicon.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/

http://aynrandlexicon.com/
lexicon/identity.html

dream_weaver:
So, do you have the definition now?

co-worker:
Not really, but I guess that will have to do. That was more of a description of examples with some opinions thrown in, but I think I understand your view of Identity. Let's move on.

dream_weaver:
That would appear to be your opinion.

co-worker:
Would you care to give me 'your' version of the definition? (Like I previously asked).

dream_weaver:
Like I previously did?

co-worker:
Sorry, did you give me one of your own words or are you referring to the link that sends me to the three paragraph example/opinion, what it is/what it's not "definition".

.=?

dream_weaver:
You can identifiy a detective, but apparently you are not one?

co-worker:
Time to remove that "Private Dick" from my door eh? Can we move on now?

dream_weaver:
Yeah. 99.9% of the people who purchased Dr. Binswanger's Abstractions from Abstraction lecture, agree with his 'opinion'.

co-worker:
2 things;

1. Is that 99.9% value based on fact or 'your' opinion?

2. That's probably because 99.9% of his readers already agree with everything he's going to present.

Now, back to how the Universe cannot exist prior to Atoms....

dream_weaver:
In your opinion, what else is there, other than opinion?

co-worker:
Good point. Where did we leave off yesterday?

dream_weaver:
Lost your bread crumbs?

co-worker:
When you're hungry....

dream_weaver:
When you're tired. . . .

co-worker:
When you're tired you eat bread crumbs?

dream_weaver:
As good an opinion as any other, would you agree?

dream_weaver:
So it would seem, anyway.

co-worker:
I do not agree. I think that opinion needs some work.

So, if I remember correctly, you were just about to explain how the Universe cannot exist prior to Atoms?

dream_weaver:
That is your opinion, and you are entitled to it.

Your confusion about the primacy of existence is showing again.

co-worker:
I don't mind that showing, I just don't want anyone to see my dangling participle. Can we please move on now?

dream_weaver:
I would explain my observations, but that would rely on a relationship between the words I choose, and what in my observations they refer to.

co-worker:
You were explaining just fine yesterday. I have no problem using your observations and the words you choose for what your observations refer to.

dream_weaver:
You should have a big problem using my observations. My sense organs transmit that data to my consciousness, not yours.

co-worker:
I'm glad you pointed that out, I completely forgot my consciousness is not yours. Maybe you could 'describe' what your observations are, or at least what they should be, in order to get to how the Universe cannot exist prior to Atoms. If I didn't know you better, I'd start to think that you don't know.

co-worker:
But since I respect your views, even if I don't agree with them, more than almost anyone I can think of, I'm sure you're just getting to it.

dream_weaver:
Your grasp of the primacy of existence is showing agian.

co-worker:
Don't you mean 'lack of grasp' or 'confusion of'?

dream_weaver:
No, I think I mean your disagreement with a validable observation is illustrated by referencing the potential of the universe existing/not existing.

dream_weaver:
It like many of the religionist do, when they steal a perfectly valid concept as 'create/creator/creation' and disregard the logical/hierarchial references to the various perceptual data that give rise to it, drop the context for which it is valid, and apply it to the universe to try and justify their invalid concept of a supernatural (outside of nature/outside of universe) creator.

But you do not analyse concepts in that manner.

co-worker:
Wait, wait, backup. When did *I* reference the potential of the universe existing/not existing?

dream_weaver:
Something about the universe cannot exist prior to atoms. How quickly we forget.

co-worker:
My apologies. I don't remember the exact quote we were originally discussing from (Dr. ?) Binswanger. I thought it was something like this; "The Universe cannot exist prior to Atoms". If it's different, and it sounds like it is, can you please repeat that statement?

dream_weaver:
Metaphysically, the universe is not prior to atoms, atoms are not prior to universe. It is epistemologically we tend to rank them. Wipe out human consciousness, the atoms, the rocks, the planets, the solar systems the galaxies, the universe are just here, simultaneously. It all real, top to bottom. You want to know what is real? Reality. That is what is real.

(that is paraphrased, I am sure.)

dream_weaver:
Yes. Dr. Bisnwanger.

co-worker:
Yes, that's the one; "...the universe is not prior to atoms,..." I agree that atoms are not prior to the universe.

Yes, human consciousness is here and witnesses this universe, but with or without it (and I think we both agree there was a time before human consciousness) the universe had to have an order of events. So I'm anxiously awaiting an explanation for how the universe is not prior to atoms.

Sorry about placing the 'existing' in there to cause confusion.

Time for coffee....

dream_weaver:
Wait?

You agree that atoms are not prior to the universe.

You disagree then, that the universe is not prior to atoms?

Not only do you have no explicit axioms that you care to share - you vacillate like an oscilloscope portraying images of varying electrical quantities on many other things.

co-worker:
Mr. Funnyguy
:)

Yes, if atoms exist, then that would mean that the Universe exists as well for the atoms to become reality.

Yes, for atoms to exist, the Universe and it's framework for atomic structure must exist - prior to the very first hydrogen atom.

Yes you're right, I don't have any axioms. But if "A is A" is my competition, then let's see...um...yes: "A is prior to A" (Atoms must exist prior to Apples). My next T-shirt Slogan.

dream_weaver:
I'll stick with my Marvin the Martian coffee mug, thank-you very much.

co-worker:
You're not going to buy a T-shirt with the Axiom I slaved over for countless seconds on?

Now, where were you on trying to explain how the Universe is not prior to atoms? (better?)

dream_weaver:
No. Thanks. I'll pass.

co-worker:
Wow, that's not like you to give up. The only way I can see this statement being valid is if, and only if, atoms (as a whole and complete set) are eternal. I find that unlikely and illogical.

dream_weaver:
At which point, I would suggets that in the heat of the extemporaneous delivery, he selected the word 'atom' rather than 'matter'.

co-worker:
While that does change the situation some, I would have preferred him to say "The Universe is not prior to existants". I would have a difficult time argueing with that. Unless RM is considered an existant
:)

RM is an obscure reference to 'Rule Maker' - his 'answer' to things like: Who choose the gravitational constant that Newton identified? If the universe is finite, who choose the specific quantity of 'finiteness'? Who decided that when X combination of a proton, electron and neuton have X properties and Y combination has Y properties?

A varient, I believe on the invalid question of: What 'caused' existence to exist?.

dream_weaver:
Like seeking for a 'cause of matter', or trying to draw a square-circle, some things are not worth pondering.

dream_weaver:
Applying 'cause' to matter, is once again, a stolen concept.

If you trace the logical and hierarchial steps to what in perceptual reality gave rise to the concept of 'cause' - what is antecendent to matter in order to be it's cause? 'Nothing' cannot be the cause of anything.

dream_weaver:
And in the case of your desire to wish that gravity is chosen some how, choice only arises in the context of volitional consciousness - consciousness only arises in the context of organic material. Once again, a stolen concept, chopping out the requirements of what gives rise to the concept to apply it in a context it does not apply.

dream_weaver:
All knowledge is inter-related. Inter-relating one's own knowledge is volitional. Discovering and applying the method for arriving at what may be considered valid knowledge, is volitional. It is not automatic.

dream_weaver:
Three absolutes, as a sort of 'acid test' - a kind of gate review, if you will. If the information does not pass the 'acid test' - it is futile to bother trying to inter-relate it any further.

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Something for me to work on. It points out something that could use a little introspection to isolate.

Curious though, 5:1 - 5:2 provoked this response:

co-worker:

'The abstracting of identity'. That's a strange sentence using abstract as a verb. My understanding of abstract was that it is something that you cannot touch, an idea or a feeling.

BTW, nice job listing the source as if it's in the 3rd Testament.

dream_weaver:
Abstracting is concept of consciousness denoting a process / activity, hence, verb.

Where do these "abstract ideas" come from? A rational person doesn't pull them out of nowhere. There must be some sort of mental process or set of processes that took us from the perceptual level to the abstract.

What is it about rubber balls that enables us to say that two things are rubber balls? How could we determine that? Texture. High elasticity. If you want to be rigorous, certain chemical reactions.

SOMETHING accounts for these characteristics, namely the IDENTITIES of the existents involved.

Can you have texture without structure? Can you have chemical reactions without electrons?

Without entities, there are neither attributes nor actions.

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"how the universe is not prior to atoms"

What does Binswanger mean by "atom"?

If all that Binswanger means is that the totality of everything that exists must have started out as *something*, I agree.

But I would NOT call that something "atoms". Current theory holds that atoms formed out of protons and electrons. If Binswanger was trying to resurrect the Greek idea of fundamental entities, there are less confusing ways to do it.

I would call the something "prior existents", i.e. existents prior to and responsible for the particle zoo we're familiar with. I would NOT call them "first existents" because we have no way of knowing whether the entities behind the visible universe are the first entities or simply another generation in an even longer history.

The situation is a bit like when chemists started calling certain particles "atoms", meaning "un-cutable", before we discovered they were indeed cut-able.

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"how the universe is not prior to atoms"

What does Binswanger mean by "atom"?

If all that Binswanger means is that the totality of everything that exists must have started out as *something*, I agree.

But I would NOT call that something "atoms". Current theory holds that atoms formed out of protons and electrons. If Binswanger was trying to resurrect the Greek idea of fundamental entities, there are less confusing ways to do it.

I would call the something "prior existents", i.e. existents prior to and responsible for the particle zoo we're familiar with. I would NOT call them "first existents" because we have no way of knowing whether the entities behind the visible universe are the first entities or simply another generation in an even longer history.

The situation is a bit like when chemists started calling certain particles "atoms", meaning "un-cutable", before we discovered they were indeed cut-able.

Personally, it came across as atoms are not more significant than tables, or tables more significant than the universe. Erase human consciousness and you have no hierarchy. As scientist, there is a tendancy to fall into the idea that 'atoms are the real stuff' and wow, subatomic particles, well, they blow even atoms away'.

In previous conversations with my co-worker, this is the line of thinking he is enamored with.

Causality to him is not action applied to the law of identity. He wants to know that water, comprised of hydrogen and oxygen, - how do hydrogen and oxygen 'know' to 'become' water.

Atoms are comprised of protons, neutrons and electrons. How do these subatomic particles 'know' to become the elements.

Newton discovered the gravitational constant. What gives rise to gravity, and 'what chose' the gravitational constant.

I am trying to avoid getting into that here, and your earlier reply pointed out an avenue that I had not considered taking. It is as if the 'blinders' are on, and the focus is reducing it back to axioms as the given. Perhaps a steering into the formation of concepts may give him (and myself) a run for the money. Quite frankly, this R(ule)M(aker) approach has grown about as old as turning missionaries away from the door on a Saturday morning.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Causality to him is not action applied to the law of identity.

Then you'll have to force him to reduce it to reality.

Let's suppose for the sake of argument his definition is something like:

the relation between a cause and its effect

Now what do you need to know before you can have the concepts of "cause" and "effect"? You need to know that things do actions. You need to know that similar things do similar actions.

Suppose instead that his definition is something like:

the relation between regularly correlated events or phenomena

What is a phenomenon? A well-documented type of event. A kind of fact.

What is an event? Something doing something. Entity and its action.

What is a fact? An actual state of affairs involving entities.

However you reduce causality, you end up with entity-action relationships.

Start with entity-based action and induce up.

He wants to know that water, comprised of hydrogen and oxygen, - how do hydrogen and oxygen 'know' to 'become' water.

They don't. Sometimes they form hydrogen peroxide.

The outcome depends on oxidation numbers, collision energy, and many other factors.

Hand him a chemistry book. Collision theory is pretty easy to understand.

Atoms are comprised of protons, neutrons and electrons. How do these subatomic particles 'know' to become the elements.

They don't. Sometimes electrons are traveling freely through space. Ditto for protons. Neutrons tend to decay though, so they're seldom seen apart from atoms.

Subatomic particles become elements only under certain conditions, e.g. when the subatomics are in close proximity, have suitable energies, etc. Hydrogen atoms are easy to make. Anything passed that requires nuclear fusion.

In short, things interact. If things interact a certain way, they "stick".

The "rules of the universe" are not commandments forcing nature to behave a certain way.

The "rules of the universe" are statements summarizing how nature DOES behave.

Newton discovered the gravitational constant. What gives rise to gravity, and 'what chose' the gravitational constant.

What "chose" the value of Pi? The circle did.

I am trying to avoid getting into that here, and your earlier reply pointed out an avenue that I had not considered taking. It is as if the 'blinders' are on, and the focus is reducing it back to axioms as the given. Perhaps a steering into the formation of concepts may give him (and myself) a run for the money. Quite frankly, this R(ule)M(aker) approach has grown about as old as turning missionaries away from the door on a Saturday morning.

Things interact.

We form concepts based on perceived similarities and differences.

We formulate propositions by applying our concepts to physical states of affairs.

We summarize our understanding of nature by means of physical laws.

What we call a Rule is simply a way of focusing on a specific aspect of the universe by means of our concepts.

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  • 3 weeks later...

In an unexpected turn of events, I challenged my co-worker to go through either OPAR, or ITOE with me. This is day 2. Day one, I stopped just before the line congratulating the reader on grasping the first axiom.

dream_weaver:

I tossed your natural law question out to the wolves last night. Given the breadth and scope of the concept 'existence' and 'existent' natural law is subsumed therein.

dream_weaver:
More on that should be touched on in Chapter 2, if you manage to survive Chapter 1.

He will address briefly, infinity, God, and eternity in Chapter 1.

co-worker:
: reluctantly, and for the time being, I will accept that they may be existents. My problem with this is that you cannot have this 'universe' without these laws existing, or being in place, prior. And prior is where I have a problem with because then we are saying that the framework of the universe (the beginning) is only when these laws come into effect.

dream_weaver:
It is a common objection. Much of mankind has struggled over the centuries to address that issue.

We have existence, and by extention, this universe - if by universe we are including everything that exists. Existence and Universe in this context are interchangable.

co-worker:
: I agree with one adjustment - I would say we have this universe, and by extention, existence.

OK

dream_weaver:
In that I just pointed out the concepts are interchangeable, it is essentially the same statement.

So far, per your answers last night, you do not detect the brainwashing, or a need to accept anything presented so far on faith?

co-worker:
: So far, no.

dream_weaver:
Shall we continue, or have you had all you can take?

co-worker:
: dream_weaver, we've had deeper discussions on food. This is cake so far.

Please continue.

dream_weaver:
(more OPAR) "
There is something
-of which I am aware" is: "There is something-
of which I am aware.
"

co-worker:
: An important note about concsciousness, and one that we've talked about before;

Either Conciousness A.) always existed, B.) was designed, C.) it invented itself, or D.) it's 'rules' existed prior and it came about by causality.

dream_weaver:
Does he state that it has existed or not existed here?

Does he state that it is or is not designed here?

Does he state that it invented itself?

Does he state how it comes about?

The closest he comes to any of those is in stating that Consciousness is not inherent in the fact of existences as such.

He does state that it is necessary for you to grasp existence.

co-worker:
: no, no, no, no

OK

dream_weaver:
The fact of consciousness is also a fundamental starting point. Even if biologists or physicists were someday to give us a scientific analysis of the conditions of consciousness (in terms of physical structures or energy quanta or something now unknown), this would not alter the fact that consciousness is an axiom. Before one can raise any questions pertaining to knowledge, whether of content or of method (including the question of the conditions of consciousness), one must first be conscious of something and recognize that one is. All questions presuppose that one has a faculty of knowledge, i.e., the attribute of consciousness. One ignorant of this attribute must perforce be ignorant of the whole field of cognition (and of philosophy).

co-worker:
: Per my note above, which you apparently disliked because he did not state any of it, I do not agree that it is a starting point. A starting point for what? If you mean starting point because you cannot ask about consciousness unless you are already conscious, that's a silly as saying that eyes are an axiom because I can see. It's a given.

dream_weaver:
Hence the designation 'axiom'. Given. Datum, if you will.

co-worker:
: OK

dream_weaver:
It may seem silly, and there are many who do not express it explicitly this way.

co-worker:
: OK

dream_weaver:
Long quote. I'll take it paragraph by paragraph and let you know when we return to Peikoff. (more OPAR)

dream_weaver:
And eyes would have a hard time qualifying as an axiom, as they are sensory apparatii of consciousness. Consciousness is more fundamental. You can be aware of an eye, can an eye be aware of anything?

Oh look honey. There is an eye on the table. It is looking at me. Make it stop. Please?

co-worker:
: If you were deaf and blind, how much are you aware of?

dream_weaver:
The Helen Kellar story.

co-worker:
: What did Helen Keller say when she fell off a cliff?

dream_weaver:
The point is you are aware. Those who are not aware, we usually stick in a box and stick the box in the ground.

Did she say something?

co-worker:
: A) nothing, she screamed her mittens off though.

OK

dream_weaver:
If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be

conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself

is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be

conscious of something. If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you

possess is not consciousness.

co-worker:
: If that which I claim to perceive does not exist, then what is it if not consciousness?

dream_weaver:
If you claim to perceive something that does not exist, and insist that that is also conscious, I would have to say hello to your imaginary friend as I walk you to the nuthouse.

co-worker:
:
:)
OK

dream_weaver:
(resuming OPAR)

dream_weaver:
Erudition: Profound scholarly knowledge.

co-worker:
: OK

BUT, this is axiom ONLY applies to the individual.

dream_weaver:
It is only individuals that are capable of grasping axioms?

Long pause.

dream_weaver:
I am not quite sure what you are stating in your comment:

BUT, this is axiom ONLY applies to the individual.

co-worker:
: Not sure. We can move on.

dream_weaver:
Are you sure you did not peek ahead. Irony, that until you mentioned 'natural law' - I had not noticed it comes up as an example later in this chapter.

co-worker:
: Nope, the 'natural law' was, well, natural.

There's something about this that does not sit well with me but I can't express it. Can you have a universe without existence?

dream_weaver:
Two questions: What is the universe -

What is existence.

The universe is everything that exists.

Existence is everything that exists.

The universe is existence. Existence is the universe.

Or in your words followed by my earlier words:

We have existence, and by extention, this universe - if by universe we are including everything that exists. Existence and Universe in this context are interchangable.

co-worker:
: I agree with one adjustment - I would say we have this universe, and by extention, existence.

OK

dream_weaver:

In that I just pointed out the concepts are interchangeable, it is essentially the same statement.

So far, per your answers last night, you do not detect the brainwashing, or a need to accept anything presented so far on faith?

dream_weaver:
To me, they represent the same concept, although they have two different words to reference it.

Generally, I probably use existence more philosophically and universe when I am thinking astronomy or physics.

This makes me wonder if I am conflating the term, or trying to merge two different concepts sloppily together, rather than two different words for a very similar concept in this context. I was struck by the coincident timing here as it was asked just prior to the paragraph addressing existence and identity.

co-worker:
: Agreed.

OK

dream_weaver:
Funny you should ask.

"Why, one might ask, use two concepts to identify one fact? " . . . (more OPAR)

co-worker:
: OK

dream_weaver:
(more OPAR) "Thus the context and purpose of the two concepts differ, although the fact both concepts name is indivisible."

co-worker:
: agreed.

OK

dream_weaver:
You keep up this agreement too much longer, and we will be calling you the big 'O'.

dream_weaver:
"An axiomatic concept, writes Ayn Rand, is the identification of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed, i.e., reduced to other facts or broken into component parts. It is implicit in all facts and in all knowledge. It is the fundamentally given and directly perceived or experienced, which requires no proof or explanation, but on which all proofs and explanations rest.(8)"

Another ITOE quote.

co-worker:
: BEEP! BEEP! Problem. This is where we shall begin to disagree.

OK

dream_weaver:
Shall I guess at what you find problematic with this?

You think that because the universe is comprised of different entities, that it can be broken down and analysed.

We have chit chatted over a year. Before the BEEP BEEP, I was looking at the wording, and thought this would be where an issue might arise. I guessed at what it might be, but in the following, it appears to be P.o.E. vs P.o.C. or Primacy issue.

co-worker:
: Close.

Saying the axioms (existence, consciousness and ultimately Identity) are not reduceable, or exempt from proof or explanation, is like my analogy of sitting down to a board game after it already began. The Rules are already in place for the game to operate. The game being existence (the universe).

Does the next paragraph tie into this as well? If so, post it as it may shed more light.

dream_weaver:
Ah. Ok. Yes - you are anticipating the primacy of existence (which is still several pages out.). The next paragraph may help. If not, I may need to run it past a couple of people who have a better grasp of some of this material than I.

Axiomatic concepts are not subject to the process of definition. Their referents can be specified only ostensively, by <opar_8> pointing to instances. Everything to be grasped about these facts is implicit in any act of adult cognition; indeed, it is implicit much earlier. "After the first discriminated sensation (or percept)," Miss Rand observes, "man's subsequent knowledge adds nothing to the basic facts designated by the terms 'existence,' 'identity,' 'consciousness.' ..."

dream_weaver:
Ostensively: of, relating to, or constituting definition by exemplifying the thing or quality being defined

Or in otherwords by pointing.

co-worker:
: dream_weaver, I don't think you give yourself enough respect. I doubt there are too many people, short of the top guys, who have a better grasp on this. Maybe they use fancier words (possibly doubtable too) or can put it into words, but not grasping.

OK

dream_weaver:
Thanks. Yet I understand where my main weakness is, and even now, struggle to turn that into a stronger asset as I move forward in my quest for knowledge.

Peikoff in his lecture points out that it is possible to approach Objectivism as a rationalist. Memorizing passages, definitions, key concepts etc. His challenge is to 'induce' Objectivism. Well, if the shoe fits, then perhaps you may need some shoe polish.

dream_weaver:
(more OPAR)

co-worker:
: OK

dream_weaver:
Is this helping, or generating a larger rift?

co-worker:
: Just giving me better understanding. I'm actually quite impressed as to how much I know of O'ism already. I do agree with most of it, but don't worry, we'll have plenty to go (back) over.

dream_weaver:
(more OPAR)

dream_weaver:
Two more paragraphs would make a good stopping point.

co-worker:
: Same problems with me here.

OK

dream_weaver:
(more OPAR)

co-worker:
: OK

dream_weaver:
What is true of tomatoes applies equally to oranges, buildings, people, music, and stars. What philosophy does is to give an abstract statement of such self-evident facts. Philosophy states these facts in universal form. Whatever exists, exists. Whatever exists is what it is. In whatever form one is aware, one is aware.

Why am I doing this? Well, we work together, he is a pretty bright guy, an inquisitive mind. Since I cannot see his thought processes as he reads this, my only feedback is an OK, next paragraph - or sometimes an Agreed - and an occasional question to provide the insight.

Am I wasting my time? Can all experience be beneficial? Most of our conversations end up back in chapter one, reality, - mostly to an objection to a question about the big bang and the 'beginning' of the universe - or comes back via trying to 'rewrite' reality fallacy. If he honestly does not want to tamper with some sacred cow he harbors, then so be it. But if you want to challenge understanding and confuse it with faith, and disregard proof, because you 'feel' something is not quite right - well, maybe this is just a 'Put up, or Shut up.'

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I dislike using the term "universe" to refer to the sum of everything. "Universe" has a very specific meaning in physics that's too narrow for us to objectively claim as everything. I think "totality" would be far less confusing. I have a few things to say about "totality" but not all of it directly relates to your topic so I will start a new thread.

co-worker: I agree with one adjustment - I would say we have this universe, and by extention, existence.

Entities exist. By extension, we have everything else.

Existence is not something on top of entities.

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I dislike using the term "universe" to refer to the sum of everything. "Universe" has a very specific meaning in physics that's too narrow for us to objectively claim as everything. I think "totality" would be far less confusing. I have a few things to say about "totality" but not all of it directly relates to your topic so I will start a new thread.

Entities exist. By extension, we have everything else.

Existence is not something on top of entities.

I think I understand what you are implying here. Unless the narrowed usage in physics is legitimate, then like the term "selfish" it may be misused. Peikoff makes use of it when he states on page 16: The concept of "cause" is inapplicable to the universe; by definition, there is nothing outside the totality to act as a cause. The universe simply is; it is an irreducible primary.

Here again, the concept "universe" could be replaced with "existence" without really changing the point as I read it. Of course when my co-worker got to this passage today, he said that Peikoff just applied eternal to the universe without validating it. Well, he is validating Objectivist principles as he comes up to them, not every term he introduces in the book.

I think the next sub-heading will make or break this approach. Up and till now, it has been read, acknowledged, tacitly agreed to with relatively few diversions. Between 'The Primacy of Existence Section' and the 'Metaphysically Given as Absolute' should commit his interest to the study, or reveal his commitment to the "fallacy of rewriting reality".

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Unless the narrowed usage in physics is legitimate, then like the term "selfish" it may be misused. Peikoff makes use of it when he states on page 16: The concept of "cause" is inapplicable to the universe; by definition, there is nothing outside the totality to act as a cause. The universe simply is; it is an irreducible primary.

Astronomical observations lead to the idea that there is a definite beginning to the observable portion.

However, you cannot have something from nothing. And infinite regress doesn't make any sense.

There must be something that causes without being caused by anything, a prior "stuff" that eventually led to the observable portion of the universe. Maybe the universe is on a cycle that cannot be described by thermodynamics. Or maybe we're following an asymptote that never quite reaches zero. Or maybe everything just stops. Whatever's going on, SOMETHING is doing it and there is nothing beyond that something and its effects.

he said that Peikoff just applied eternal to the universe without validating it. Well, he is validating Objectivist principles as he comes up to them, not every term he introduces in the book.

Time is a measurement of change of relationship between (or among) existents within the totality of what exists.

It has no meaning outside of those relationships.

What we know about the universe implies that there must be something that is of such nature that the concept of time is not applicable.

I suppose you could say there is a sort of "eternity" in that sense, but you should distinguish that sort of eternity from the idea of infinite time. Those are very different ideas.

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A word on axiomatic concepts. I was reading chapter 7 again in my quest for a clearer understanding of "characteristic" when I recognized this:

"Since axiomatic concepts are not formed by differentiating one group of existent from others, but represent an integration of all existents, they have no Conceptual Common Denominator with anything else"

What role do characteristics play in this process--if any?

If none, what do we reference to integrate the units?

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